3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President look the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Senator GUTHRIE presented a petition from certain photographers of Melbourne and suburbs, praying the Senate to give consideration to the duty on certain photo papers, and to make the duty on bromide papers 15 per cent.
Petition received and read.
– Has the atten tion of the Vice-President of the Executive Council been drawn to the statement in the press that. a number of Bulgarians have been stranded in Western Australia, New South Wales, and Victoria, and that ien of them have been found employment at the smelting works in Tasmania, although abundance of local labour was available ?
– The Government is aware that a considerable number of Bulgarians have been dumped in various parts of the Commonwealth, under circumstances which arouse suspicion. Inquiry has therefore been made as to how these men were induced to come to Australia, and we have ascertained that they have been brought here through the wicked and misleading misrepresentations of unscrupulous agents, though we do not know why.
– Are the agents known ?
– No; but the following is a’ translation of a letter from an agent to ten of the Bulgarians who have come here, and I understand that a similar letter was sent to each batch -
Given to the group collected by Mr.Boby Bobcff, i.e., Yvan Trifonoi Kousheff, all from the village of Polikrashous, and Yvan P. Kloseff, &c, from the village of Mouyasley, and guarantee by it that they will be transported for the monev they paid to New Zealand, and guarantee also that they willthere get work the second day they land - and, on the contrary, we guarantee to pay them £1 in English money per day until they do get work.
We guarantee also to land them in Australia and New Zealand, but we will not be responsible if the Government of either of these countries object to their landing, and they will not have the right to claim the passage money back.
All these will be accommodated by a- steamer from Port Said, in the third-class, with food and keeping to New Zealand.
– Is that circular signed ?.
– I am not able to say. We have not ascertained who the agents are. The probability is that in any case we should have little or no control over them-, because we cannot prevent misrepresentation in Bulgaria. The immigrants, themselves, are for the most part line men, more or less accustomed to’ agricultural work. It is an ominous thing that agents are engaged in this enterprise, and, so far as the Government can exercise control, it will do so. We are pro- . secuting further inquiries.
– Is the Minister aware that some of the stranded Bulgarians were taken from Melbourne to Tasmania, and, although they could not speak a word of English, employment was immediately found for them there at a time when a number of Tasmanians were seeking work and could not get it?
– I have no information on the subject.
– Surely Senator Findley does not want the men to starve?
– I do not want our own people to starve.
– Is the correspondence between the Government and Messrs. Freeman and Wallace, which has been laid on the table, the whole of the correspondence which has passed? If not, will the Vice-President see that the papers arecompleted?
– When first asked to lay the correspondence on the table, I produced all the papers to date, afterwards adding a second batch.’ I am not aware that further correspondence has taken place; but if the papers are incomplete, I shall make them complete, unless there are reasons for withholding any that at present I do not know of.
List of Officers. - Commissioner’s Report
– I desire to ask the Minister of Home Affairs, without notice, whether it is the intention pf the Government to have the list of ‘ permanent employes of the Public Service, recently published in the Commonwealth Gazette, issued in a bound form for convenience of reference? I also desire to know when the report of the Public Service Commissioner will be supplied to honorable senators?
– With regard to the first question asked by the honorable senator, I think, speaking from memory, that it is customary to issue the document to which he refers in a bound form. What number of copies are so issued I am not in a position to say, but I will makeinquiries and inform the honorable senator later. As to his second question - when the report of the Public Service Commissioner recently tabled in the Senate will be supplied to honorable senators - I have to say that that will depend upon the expedition with which the Government Printer has the necessary copies ready.I was under the impression that the copies had already been supplied to honorable senators. If that be not the case I will take steps during the day to expedite the publication and distribution of the report.
– With reference to the question on the notice-paper in the name of Senator Findley, relating to employes in the Government Printing Office, I have to ask my honorable friend to repeat it on Tuesday. May I also say that it is difficult to get replies to questions on Friday mornings when notice is only given on the previous day.
– If notice is given on Wednesday the information required can usually be supplied on Friday.
– I rise to move the motion’ standing in my name, with reference to the hours of meeting of the Senate. Several honorable senators have represented that it is undesirable that the Senate should sit late at night if we decideto sit in the morning. I must confess that I am more or less in sympathy with that view, especially as I am of opinion that we do not get the best work done at night, and also for the reason that if we’ sit during most of the day it cannot be expected that we shall sit during the night, too. I can only rely on my honorable friends to give me their hearty co-operation in the way of shortening debate as far as they can consistently with their view of their duty. Themotion which I am submitting is, I think, largely in consonance with the views of honorable senators that we should proceed as quickly as possible with our work. I think that if each honorable senator appreciates the responsibility cast upon him in the interests of the public of shortening debate, the probabilities are that we may bythis means be able to get through some very good work in reasonable time.
– Has the honorable senator any objection to making the hour of meeting 11 o’clock on Fridays, as well as on. Wednesdays and Thursdays?
– No; I take it that it is undesirable to have a different hour of meeting on Friday. I will, therefore, submit my motion so as to allow that to be done. I ask the Senate to be good enough to pass the motion, fixing the meeting hour at11 o’clock on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. I do so. in the earnest hope and desire that it will have the result of enabling us to avoid night sittings. I arn also quite sure that with the kind co-opera- tion of honorable senators there will be a reasonable probability of our getting through the Tariff by this means before the other House meets.
– What would the understanding be as to the hour of rising at night?
– Speaking generally - though I do not bind myself - I think a fair time of rising would be about 11 o’clock.
– Twelve hours a day?
– I admit that it is very severe, particularly in the present weather. It simply means that each honorable senator has to put his shoulder to the wheel and help to get the work through.
– Why should we not meet on Mondays? What is the use of hanging round the city doing nothing?
– I think if honorable senators work each sitting day something like twelve hours, we shall do very well. Of course, later on it may be necessary to meet on Mondays, but we shall do extremely well if we apply ourselves assiduously to the work during the hours suggested. I move -
That during the remainder of the present session, unless otherwise ordered, the hour of meeting of the Senate on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday in each week be11 o’clock in the forenoon.
– I wish to move an. amendment. The object of it is to allow of. the interval for lunch being extended from 2 o’clock to 2.15. An hour is too short a period, especially for those honorable senators who have to travel some little distance to lunch.
– I quite agree with the honorable senator that when we are sitting such long hours an extension of the luncheon period to 2.15 is desirable. But I do not think that it is necessary for him to move an amendment.
– Oh, no ; it will be an understanding that the luncheon adjournment will be from 1 o’clock to 2.15.
– I do not suppose for one moment that honorable senators will appreciate the extra demand made upon their time, but at the same time we must all recognise the obligation resting not only on the Government but on the Senate as a whole, and little as we may like the further curtailment of our time, the course taken by the Vice-President of the Executive Council will commend itself to the Senate generally. I should like to take this opportunity of pointing out one thing in relation to our debates. Some criticism has been directed towards us on account of the slow progress made in dealing with the Tariff. It appears to me that that criticism overlooks one extremely important point. It is this. We are to-day only in our fourth week. Had the Senate entered upon a full second-reading debate on the Bill, there could have been no just complaint at the time so occupied. But the Senate abstained from doing that; and whilst perhaps we have made slower progress than we had hoped in dealing with the items, it is at any rate something to our credit that the time which might have been occupied” with a second-reading debate was curtailed. So that on the whole, looking to the saving thus made, the progress up to the present has been at any rate as great as could have been expected. I am glad that the VicePresident of the Executive Council has given us an indication that we are not going to sit late at night.
– I do not bind myself to that; but, roughly speaking, that is the position.
– I was very glad to hear Senator Best state in reply to an interjection that he did not desire all-night sittings. I support this motion, and should even be prepared to agree to a proposal that the sittings should commence at10 instead of 11 a.m. I am not suggesting that such an alteration should be made, but am merely indicating my own feelings. My opinion is that it would be infinitely preferable to work ten hours in the Senate before 11 p.m. than towork three hours after. I hope that Senator Best will give those who debate the Tariff some credit for having no desire to waste time, and that he will, under no circumstances, unless the feeling of the Committee has altogether changed, be provoked into giving us an allnight sitting. I shall do my best, subject to the limitations of fair debate, to help the Minister.
– I also cordially approve of the Government’s proposal, but take this opportunity to suggest what I think would be a far more economical and practical way of conducting our business. If, instead of meeting at 2.30 p.m. and sitting until 10 p.m., we commenced our sittings at 10 a.m. and adjourned at 6 or 6.30 p.m., we should do well. I look upon the Federal Parliament as occupying a position altogether different from that of the States Legislatures.’
The members of it come from all parts of Australia, and, whilst the present arrangement may suit Victorian senators, I think that if we transacted the business of the Senate in what are the ordinary business hours of the commercial world, the convenience of the representatives of all States would be met, and the interests of the Commonwealth advanced.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [10.53]. - Whilst we all sympathize with the desire of the Minister to expedite the passage of the Tariff, and are prepared to give him the extra time for which he asks, I would submit to him in the most friendly way that he might greatly facilitate the progress of trie Tariff if he would show occasionally a little willingness to give way on some points, as did his predecessor when the first Federal Tariff was before us.
– And as Sir William Lyne did in another place.
– And as his senior colleague, Sir William Lyne, did in another place. As long as every comma in the schedule is to be made the subject of conflict, we cannot hope to get along very fast.
– Did I not give way yesterday ?
– The honorable senator this day week urged that we should vote and not speak. I have most religiously complied with his request. My speeches have not exceeded an average of two minutes, and I have certainly done as much voting as possible. During the sitting immediately following that at which Senator Best made his appeal, I called for no1 less than sixteen divisions. I have certainly done my best to accommodate the honorable senator, and I hope to continue, to do so. I feel confident that I shall give him abundant opportunities for voting. Whilst we make an effort to meet the desire of the Government to push on with business, I hope that the Vice-President of the Executive Council will be as reasonable in his attitude towards fair requests as was his colleague in another place, as well as his predecessor here when the first Federal Tariff was before us.
– I am entirely in accord with the motion, believing that it will serve a useful purpose and be appreciated by the public. But lest it should be thought that the extension indicates that there has been some dilatoriness on the. part of the Senate in dealing with the Tariff, it is well to point out that we are expected to dispose of the schedule - and I believe that to a large extent the expectation will be realized - in about the time’ that another place occupied in reaching the first item. That being so, I do not think that the Government or the public will charge the Senate with not being very anxious to expedite the passing of the Tariff.
– I am in sympathy with the object of the leader of the Senate, but would prefer a proposal to meet a reasonable number of days each week, and work a reasonable number of hours. If that course were followed, we should do better work. As long as we continue to sit on Tuesdays, certain honorable senators are anchored to Melbourne. They cannot return to their homes each week end, and are obliged to> remain idle two days a week.
– We do not idle away the time.
– We do somework, but are compelled to stay in Melbourne longer than we should otherwise do. My contention is that we ought not to hurry or rush through the Tariff. Fourweeks have not yet elapsed since we entered upon its consideration, and yet we have made as much progress with it as another place made in about three months. I recognise that the sense of the Senate is with the Vice-President of the Executive Council, so that there is nothing to be gainedby opposing the motion ; but I should certainly prefer the Senate to meet also on Mondays and the ordinary hour of meeting to be continued.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (SouthAustralia) [10.58]. - I should have said nothing except for what I venture’ to think was the very’ appropriate remark made by Senator Mulcahy that we’ ought not tohurry or rush through this Tariff. Thereis a great difference between dealing witha Tariff with, care and deliberation! and after full examination and debate, and wasting time over it. The suggestion that time is unduly occupied arises sometimes not from the conviction that it is really so, but from the feeling on the part of honorable senatorson one side or the other that their views are being overridden, or ought to be carried out by direct and immediate vote. I agree with what Senator Mulcahy has said regarding the consideration of the Tariff, and I do so for the fundamental reason that the Senate is not like a Legislative Council. In the press there have appeared from time to time articles written by writers who do not realize what are the powers of this Chamber. I . deplore the appearance in newspapers - I shall not mention any names, because they have been on more sides than one - of articles deprecating any examination of the Tariff by the Senate - articles suggesting that we should merely register the votes cast by another place and adopt the Tariff as sent here. I resent that suggestion. We ought to have a higher opinion and set a ‘greater store by the position of the Senate, and the great powers, fiscal and financial, .that are confided in it, than to allow such an opinion to go unchallenged. If for no other reason than to assert our co-ordinate powers with the House of Representatives, in dealing with a question such as this Tariff, we ought to take full time for the consideration of every item that we think deserves examination and debate. It is not a question of whether or not undue debate has taken place on any one item. There is no one less restive than I am under such criticism,’ to which .we must all submit. But I do say that, above all things, we ought to recollect the position of this Senate, and not allow ourselves to be diverted from our duty by any criticism of the kind to which I have referred.
– I am a little surprised at the attitude taken up by honorable senators upon this question. It strikes me that there are two objections to our meeting at 11 o’clock in the morning of each day of the week. We require some opportunity to carefully examine the various items in the Tariff which will engage our attention, and if we are going to meet at that early hour, and sit for twelve hours, we shall be denied that opportunity. It will be nothing more nor less than parliamentary sweating. But I recognise that the Senate is in favour of the motion, and, therefore, it is idle for me to debate it at length.
– I maintain that we ought to sit reasonable hours, and to meet on Mondays. What is the position of honorable senators who cannot get away to their homes at each week end from Friday night till Tuesday ?
– I was “anchored” in Melbourne the other week because the honorable senator wanted to go to. Tasmania.
– The honorable senator was not “ anchored “ here. He has been absent for a week at a time.
– That is not true.
– I think that my statement is true, and that the records of the Senate will confirm it. The division lists will show that the honorable senator has been absent for a solid week. However, I should not have referred to the matter if he had not made the interjection which he did. Evidently he does not like being touched upon the “raw.”
– I never object to the truth.
– Order. I would ask honorable senators not to continue that line of argument.
– If you, sir, permit the honorable senator to tell me that my statement is not true—–
– There is no question that it is disorderly for an honorable senator to tell another honorable senator that his statement is not true. The interjection made by Senator Neild, I take it, was not made with the intention of the Senate hearing it. But, in any circumstances, it was disorderly. If, instead of continuing to engage in a dialogue with Senator Neild, the honorable senator had called my attention to the remark, I would have seen that it was withdrawn.
– You, sir, called the honorable senator’s attention to it, and if he is permitted to make observations of that sort—
– I must ask the honorable senator to debate the question which is before the Senate, and not to continue to refer to something which has happened between himself and Senator Colonel Neild.
– If I may be permitted to withdraw the expression of which I made use, I shall be happy to do so. It slipped out in a moment of irritation, and I regret it.
– I should like the Senate to sit reasonable hours on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of each week.
– Why not on Saturday ?
– Arid on Saturday, too.
– The honorable’ senator is a fair whale for work.-
– Most people have to work reasonable hours upon the days mentioned. I think that for a good many years of his life Senator Henderson had to do so. I know that I did. If we are not going to sit every day in the week I am prepared to assist the Government to meet as early as possible, but I do not like the idea of sitting for twelve hours each day. I should prefer to sit every day for a reasonable period rather than to meet for twelve hours upon three or four days each week.
– The honorable senator is getting extra pay for the overtime which he works.
– I do not dispute that the honorable senator is getting additional pay for the overtime which he works. I should like the Senate to sit on Mondays, but I shall support the motion of the VicePresident of the Executive Council.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 13th February, vide page 8075) :
Division IV. Agricultural Products and Groceries.
Item 94. Rice, viz. : -
Uncleaned, per cental, 3s. 4d.
Rice for use in the manufacture of
Starch may be delivered free, as prescribed by Departmental By-laws.
Upon which Senator Clemons had moved -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make Item 94, paragraph a, free.
– I appeal to the Committee to remove this revenue duty on food. It cannot by any stretch of the imagination be regarded as a protective impost. In this connexion I wish to draw attention to the fact that though Queensland had the benefit of a duty of1d. per lb. upon uncleaned and cleaned rice for a period of twenty years, the total production of that commodity was less than 8 tons.
– And there were Chinese engaged in the industry, I think.
– I do not know. It certainly does seem farcical that we should be asked to contribute , £81,840, which was the amount paid in duty upon rice imported in 1906, for the benefit of an industry which with double the amount of the protection that is now proposed - because the
Queensland duty during a period of twenty years was 8s. 4d. per cental - produced only 8 tons of rice. There are honorable senators present who told the electors that they were not in favour of revenue duties, and the only logical position which they can take up in regard to this duty is to ask that it should be increased five-fold.
– Will the honorable senator support such a proposal?
– I will not, because I do not believe that the industry is one which can be fostered in the Commonwealth. A protective duty of 8s. 4d. per cental has failed to establish it in Queensland.
– That was before we authorized the payment of a bounty upon the production of rice.
– I take up the same attitude upon this question as Senator Millen, who maintains that if the industry is to be encouraged the proper way to do it is by means of a bounty. The production is so infinitesimal, and the consumption so enormous, that the way to encourage the industry is by direct payment, and not by taxing the consumers. Some honorable senators regard the duty from quite a different stand-point. The same point was taken when the question was previously’ before us. They say that by means of the duty the Chinaman is compelled to contribute something to the revenue, because rice is his staple food. There is a good deal of force in that argument, as the Chinaman does not contribute much in other forms of taxation, but the numbers of Chinamen in the Commonwealth are dwindling - last year 2,000 more left than came in - and, ‘ therefore, as they are a disappearing force, the argument is not nearly so strong now as it was six years ago. It is estimated that there are under 20,000 Chinamen in the Commonwealth. The imports in 1906 would have given those Chinamen 58 lbs. of rice each for every week in the year. Even a Chinaman could not eat more than 8 lbs. of rice per week. Assuming that he can consume 8 lbs. a week, we propose to tax the rice consumed by white people, in order to get at the 8 lbs. which may be used by the Chinaman. Much as I should like to see him contribute his fair share to the revenue, we are not doing ourselves justice when we tax our imports so heavily in order to get at him. He is not worth it. The game is not worth the candle. This is a duty on a food which more often finds its way on to the poor man’s table than on to that of the rich. Honorable senators will find in the homes of Collingwood, Richmond, and Fitzroy, that the staple pudding is the rice pudding, in some form or other. We have fought strongly on previous occasions in this Senate against duties on tea and kerosene. That was one of the issues at the last election. A duty on kerosene can be justified, to some extent, fr om the protectionist stand-point,’ because kerosene is being, or is going to be, produced in large quantities in New South Wales. Yet honorable senators stood firm against that duty previously. The members of the party to which I belong would not hear of it, or of a duty on tea. This is a duty on an article which experience has shown cannot be produced in the Commonwealth.
– Is tea grown in the Commonwealth?
– In a shop in Elizabeth-street, Melbourne. I have been credibly informed in the same shop that tea has been grown in the open in Queensland, although not commercially.
– The honorable senator is at drowning point for an argument when he says that tea is grown here.
– The honorable senator is grasping at a straw. It was not I who raised the point as to tea being grown here. But I mentioned the kerosene industry, and the honorable senator will not deny that there is a big company in New South Wales now whose purpose is to produce kerosene. When we struck off the duty from kerosene on a previous occasion, that same company was in existence in New South Wales. The duty on rice cannot be justified from a protectionist stand-point, whilst from a revenue point of view’ it is a duty on a necessary of life - one of the commonest articles of food. It is an oppressive duty, which raised£81,000 from the people in 1906. Much as I should like to support the Government, I cannot do so on this question, because this is a duty on food, nor can I see that they have any claim on protectionist senators to support them in retaining it.
– I should like the Minister to explain what is meant by uncleaned rice. No such term is known in the rice industry.
If it means paddy - the rice with the outside shell on it - that term should be used, because that is what it is known as. Rice in the course of cleaning goes through a number of processes. In the first the outside she]l is taken off. The byproduct of that process is known as the chaff. The rice after that stage might very easily be brought into the Commonwealth as clean. I presume that one of the effects of the Tariff will be that rice will be to a certain exent cleaned in theCommonwealth. After the first process there is’ a second process, and then comes the polishing. The three by-products of those processes are the chaff, the bran, and what is known as the rice polish. In which stage of the cleaning does the rice become clean instead of uncleaned, in the view of the Department? The term used in the Tariff is not understood amongst rice people, and should be defined. That could be done by regulation. As I presume we have gone past the word “uncleaned,” it will not be possible for me to move to substitute the word “paddy,” but if the Government will look into the matter it may be possible later on when recommitals are taking place to make the correction. I must admit that the figures show that the industry of rice growing in Queensland has practically disappeared. There was a time when something like 40,000 bushels of rice was grown in Queensland. One reason of the decline of the industry is the labour problem, and another is the attraction of other industries. But because in twenty years Queensland has failed to produce a reasonable quantity of rice, it does not follow that Australia will not produce it. In the United States for two centuries, in spite of the fact that the rice grown in South Carolina was the finest in the world, not one-twentieth of the amount consumed’ was produced in the country. Since 1880 - since the discovery of new varieties, and of new processes of harvesting-
– The nigger has come in.
– I will show in a minute that the nigger does not come into the matter at all. Since that time, the production of rice in the United States has increased so enormously that, in 1904, out of 21,000,000 bushels consumed no less than 20,000,000 bushels was grown in the States.
– Hear, hear ! That is the strong protectionist argument.
– I am using it mainly to point out that it has taken two centuries to bring about that result, but still it has been brought about. With regard to Senator Gray’sinterjection, it is stated in The World’s Commercial Products that rice is now being grown under the new processes in the United States at a lower cost than it can be produced at in China, despite the fact that the cost of the labour in America is twenty times that of the labour in China. I notice that Senator Findley is regarding me with surprise, evidently thinking that this is the sort of speech that I should not make.
– I am glad to hear it. The honorable senator is adjusting his mental horizon. He is becoming more of a protectionist every day.
– When the Bounties Bill was before the Chamber I opposed the bounty on rice, because I did not believe that £1,000, or even £5,000, a year would prove sufficient to induce people to undertake rice growing on a large scale, holding, as I do, that this industry in Australia is not one to be successful in a small way. Under the circumstances, I felt that the money voted would simply be locked up, as ear-marked for the particular purpose. However, the Committee then decided against me ; and the result, if this duty be removed, will be that the money will certainly be locked up.
– The honorable senator does not think that a bounty would be good in. any case.
– The honorable senator ought to express his own opinions, and not mine.
– Does Senator Chataway know of any one who has commenced the rice industry ?
– Yes ; I know of a rice farm near Pimpama. It has been decided that a bounty of £1,000 is sufficient to encourage the cultivation of rice; and, therefore, I am not going to stultify myself by removing the duty, which would give a certain amount of encouragement, though it is claimed to be a revenue duty. I trust that this industry will, in some way or other, sooner or later become successful in Australia. I still hold that it is a big mail’s industry; and there ought to be some more comprehensive scheme to enable, as in America, large areas to be cultivated with the aid of the best modern machinery.
– Senator Trenwith has charged honorable senators on this side with voting for this as a revenue duty, while he and his friends support it because it is protective. Personally, I shall vote against revenue or any other duties which prejudicially affect the working classes ; and this is a duty which will touch every home in Australia, although we have been told by Senator Trenwith that rice is consumed mainly by Chinese. When I remember the strong statements made by honorable senators opposite against revenue duties, I cannot see much consistency in the attitude of Senator Trenwith and others.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to make item 94, paragraph a, “ Rice,uncleaned,” free (Senator Glemons’ request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I have listened very carefully to the discussion, with special regard to theremarks of Senator Keating and Senator Trenwith. This item has been defended solely, or at any rate almost entirely, on the ground that it is a revenue duty.
– The honorable senator must remember that I mentioned that aspect only at the very last, and really as an after-thought.
– I hope that Sena tor Keating’s conscience, to a small extent, strikes him when he remembers that he adduced the argument, however incidentally; that the question of revenue is involved.
– I think that it is a very strong argument.
– As the honorable senator knows, I do not want to misinterpret him, or to put his position in an unfair light. But, inasmuch as that argument has been used by the honorable senator, Senator Trenwith, arid others, I venture to make . one further appeal to those who supported the duty on that ground to offer some relief from the excessive burden of taxation which it represents. I should like to make the duty as low as possible, but, in view of the last division, I recognise that that is not possible. I hope that any honorable senator who attaches great value to revenue, and to nothing else, will find himself able to agree to a duty of is. 6d. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 94, paragraph a, per cental, is. 6d.
That is a fair compromise between the existing duty of 3s. 4d. and the proposal to make the article free. I hope that the revenue tariffists in the Chamber - and there seems to be an extraordinary number of them - will see that their object will be adequately secured by a duty of is. 6d., which, I point out, is equivalent to 25 per cent. Surely no honorable senator who wants “ revenue would ask for a higher duty than 25 per cent. I cannot understand, for instance, how Senator Cameron, who is anxious for the Tariff to yield revenue, can bring himself to vote for a duty which is higher than 25 per cent., and which represents most unequal taxation ! I remind him that whatever else the Tariff may be - whether ‘it is industrial in its object or effect - it represents to us a big engine of taxation, and nothing else, ls he, or any other- revenue tariffist, prepared to levy duties higher than 25 s: per cent. ? I ask him to apply that percentage to other methods of taxation. He would start with horror at the thought of a tax on land .or income, which approached to 25 per cent. Although this duty on rice is indirect taxation, yet, so far as the consumer is concerned, it takes 25 per cent, out of his pocket as directly as an income tax commissioner or a land tax commissioner could do by his method of taxation.
– A man can live without rice, but not without land or in come.
– What does the interjection mean ? It means that if the consumers of rice object to a duty of 25 per cent., they must do without the article. It is an interjection of which the honorable senator, no doubt, is proud, but it is one which I venture to say most honorable senators would be ashamed’ to utter. Suppose that a consumer said to Senator McGregor, “ Let him pay 25 per cent, of his parliamentary allowance - £150 a year - as taxation.” Would the honorable senator reply, “ Let members of Parliament get their income in some other way ?” No, he would not say anything of the sort. I appeal to the revenue Tariffists to agree to a duty of 25 per cent., or is. 6d. a cental.
– Is the recommendation of the free-trade section of the Tariff Commission correctly reported?
– I do not know anything about that; it may be there. . I shall come to the question of cleaned rice presently.
– They recommended a duty of 3s. a cenfal
– I am not concerned in the least degree with what they recommended. I am giving expression to my views, and supporting them by my vote.
– We all do that.
– I doubt it.
.- I hope that the argument of Senator Clemons will not prevail with honorable senators with regard to this request. Certainly, last night, when I was addressing myself to a request to have the item made free, I pointed out that “it was one of very great importance from the revenue-yielding point of view. But before even doing that, I reminded honorable senators that this Parliament - not a previous Parliament - had committed itself to the policy of endeavouring to encourage, the growth of rice within the Commonwealth, by granting a. bounty of 20s. a ton, to extend over a period of five years, and not to exceed in any one year £1,000, in respect of rice locally grown under the conditions laid down in the Bounties Bill. That provision, let it be remembered, was’ “made, not in substitution for, but in addition to, the then existing protective duty of 3s. 4d. a cental, which it is now proposed to continue. I submit that to alter the duty would be to take away one of the factors which were in existence when we agreed to give that bounty ; it would be building up with one hand and tearing down with the other if we were now to alter the position. After speaking from that point of view, and also .referring…to the fact that rice .might be imported free for the manufacture of starch under departmental by-laws, I concluded. And it was only when Senator Millen was about to address himself to some of the remarks which I and others had made that I thought it better that before he did so, in order to prevent repetition, I should ask his leave to add a further argument which I had intended to use but had overlooked. That argument was that in 1906 uncleaned rice at 3s. 4d. a cental yielded £33,528. Honorable senators opposite have twitted us occasionally wilh retaining duties when the last column in the return has shown that the amount of revenue collected in 1906 was very small. We have been asked to agree to their proposal that an item should be free in a case where the duty had yielded only £25 or £19. Now, I turn and ask them if they are prepared to adopt the attitude which may be implied from their argument in that direction, and support a duty when it does yield revenue?
– On no article of food will I support the imposition of a duty.
– I know that the honorable senator has made a most uncompromising statement in that regard. But other honorable senators, sitting on the same benchas he does, have pointed out that certain duties had yielded little revenue, and therefore could be dispensed with, andto them I appeal. If certain duties have yielded a considerable amount of revenue, while being incidentally protective, and also part and parcel of a system, coupled with bounties, for encouraging the production of a commodity, cannot they let them stand? We are not in this case askingfor an increased duty, and I appeal to the Committee to allow the item to remain as it stands. Last night I showed that, before Federation, all the States with the exception ofWestern Australia and New South Wales imposed a duty upon rice. Queensland only could be said to have imposed that duty for protective purposes. All the other States imposed the duty for purely revenue purposes, since no one pretended to claim that rice could be grown in Victoria or Tasmania, or that any attempt was made to grow it commercially in South Australia. In Victoria, prior to Federation, there was a duty on uncleaned rice of 4s. per cental if dressed in bond, and of 6s. per cental if not dressed in bond. The duty imposed in Queensland was1d. per lb. I dismiss Queensland in this connexion, because, in addition to other reasons for the imposition of such a duty; it is quite possible that it was imposed as a protective duty in view of the possibility of the cultivation of rice in that State. In South Australia the duty was 3s. per cwt. That is but a little less than the duty here provided for of 3s. 4d. per 100 lbs. In Tasmania there was a duty of1d. per lb., or 8s. 4d. a cental, on rice of any description, cleaned or uncleaned. No one will pretend that that was intended to protect a rice industry in Tasmania. With InterState free-trade constitutionally secured, a duty of 3s. 4d. per cental on rice must be admitted to be a reasonable compromise on the rates existing prior to Federation. Coupled with Inter-State free-trade, and. the bounty for which we have already provided, with our eyes open to the fact that a duty of 3s. 4d. per cental was in existence, such a duty may be expected not only to develop this industry if there are possibilities of its development in Queensland, but, as I pointed out last night, it will also help to obtain revenue for the benefit of the States. . Whilst this Tariff is designed to encourage the production of all that we can possibly produce in Australia, the Government have not in framing it been blind to the necessity for raising revenue, the greater portion of which is under existing conditions distributed to the States. We should be sacrificing the interests of the States financially if we departed from the principle of making the Tariff incidentally yield a substantial amount of revenue, especially during the period when the duties from a protective point of view are not fully operative. As against the Tasmanian duty of 8s. 4d. per cental, the duty now provided for is a considerable reduction. In all the circumstances, I hope the Committee will agree to the duty which has been in force since the introduction of the first Commonwealth Tariff. There is no evidence that it has operated oppressively or harshly upon the individual consumer.
– It has simply added to the price which he has had to pay for his rice.
- Senator Clemons will agree that I am stating the position clearly when I repeat that a majority in both Houses of the present Federal Parliament, after full discussion, agreed to give a bounty for the production of rice, not in substitution for the existing import duty, but with full knowledge that such a duty was in force. If we disturb that arrangement, we shall be putting ourselves in the position of persons who build with the right hand and pull down with the left.
– The honorable senator knows that I should beprepared to increase the vote of £1,000 a year as a bounty for rice production to £5,000 or £10,000, in preference to the imposition of this duty. .
– I am aware that the honorable senator opposed the bounty also, but my statement is that a majority of both Houses of this Parliament agreed to give the bounty with the knowledge that this duty was in existence, and not in substitution for it, and to remove or reduce the duty now would be to tear down the work which was done only in the present session. I hope the Committee will not be prepared to do that.
.- I hear on all sides that the cost of living is increasing rapidly, whilst I am afraid that the sources of real production are not expanding very much, and it is only by downright hard labour, thrift, and wisdom that our people can succeed. I think that a duty of is. 6d. per cental is a sufficient tax to impose upon a commodity such as this, which is very largely used by all classes, and especially by the poorer classes, of the community. I therefore feel compelled to vote for a duty of is. 6d. per cental.
– In answer to the appeal of the Minister of Home Affairs that the Committee should consider this duty from the point of view of the financial position of the States, I think I canfairly claim that no member of the Senate has evinced a greater desire to guard the financial and other rights of the States than I have. I have repeatedly said that the financial position of the States has been a chief consideration with me in dealing with the various items of the Tariff. I do not know that the Minister quite appreciates the force of the argument on this side, because when he claims that this duty should be agreed to as a means of raising revenue, the answer is that the Customs revenue has jumped from nearly £9,000,000 to probably over £12,000,000.
– Assuming that that is so, does the honorable senator think that that will continue?
– The revenue will increase.
– It may or may not increase. The fact remains that an enormous revenue is being obtained through the Customs, and we contend that the last thing by which a Treasurer should seek to increase his revenue is a tax on food. That is a principle acknowledged by revenue tariffists throughout the. Empire, and in asking for this duty on revenue grounds the Government are departing from that principle that articles of food are the last on which we should seek to levy taxation. But, notwithstanding the enormous sacrifices which have been made by the working classes-
– The honorable senator troubles much about the working classes !
– When Senator McGregor puts himself forward as the Heaven-sent guardian of the workers, he assumes the attitude of a Pharisee, and we know how it was lashed as an example for all time. For seven years, under Commonwealth administration, and in some of the States foran even longer time, the working classes have borne an enormous load of taxation for the sake of protecting industries; but the policy of protection has absolutely failed in rice. Therefore we are entitled to say at least, “ Hands off articles of food.”
Question. - That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 94, paragraph a, “ Rice, uncleaned,” is. 6d. per cental (Senator Clemons’ request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
– The Minister spoke about the duty on rice as a revenue duty. It seems to me that if only 2s. 4d. a cental were levied, the return would still be considerable, while an important article of food would be made cheaper to our people. That ought to be a consideration to honorable senators. If we take money out of the pockets of the people to benefit a few manufacturers, we shall injure the community as a whole. It has been argued that a bounty having been offered for the production of rice, the industry must be protected. But surely ample protection will be given by a duty of 2s. 4d. I therefore move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 94, paragraph a, 2s. 4d. per cental.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … . 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 94, paragraph b, by inserting after the word “for” the words “seed and.”
It takes 60 lbs. of rice seed to sow an acre, and it would be a mistake to make dutiable the various new kinds of seed rice which will have to be imported if the growing of rice is to become an Australian industry. I have moved the request with a view to allowing seed riceto be admitted free under departmental by-law.
. -Apparently, honorable senators are willing to impose the heaviest taxation on the many who are consumers of rice, but will give every consideration to the few who wish to import a few grains of seed to experiment with. If effect is given to the request, departmental officers will have to follow all imported seed rice until it is put into the ground. A more childish proposal could not be imagined. When rice is imported under departmental by-law to be converted into starch, the process of manufacture is carried on under Excise supervision; but is there to be Excise supervision in regard to all the rice imported ostensibly as seed? Can officers follow it all over Australia to see that it is actually used for that purpose? The proposal is a farce.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [12.4]. - This proposal, if a reasonable one, should have been made in respect to a large number of other items. But no consideration has been shown to the man who wishes to import seed wheat or other seed grain, seed potatoes, and the like, for purposes of experiment. The production of none of these things is encouraged by bounty, and why should the growing of rice, for which a bounty has been offered, be an industry singled out for special consideration. If effect be given to the proposal, the Northern Territory will be chiefly, and almost entirely, benefited. The probability seems to be that when the Northern Territory is transferred to the Commonwealth we shall be expected to allow everything imported into it to escape payment of duty, just as the importations for the Governor-General’s household do. I cannot see why this bounty-fed industry - ifit ever becomes one- is to be singled out to receive free seed. As Senator Clemons reasonably and accurately states, we should have to supply an inspector to follow every bag of rice all over the country if it were said to be imported to be used for seed.
– With regard to the request that has been moved by Senator Chataway, I have only to say that I have asked the officers of the Customs Department whether it would be practicable or not to give effect to the honorable senator’s desire. The information supplied to me is that it would be practicable, because, as a matter of actual practice, the ricewould not be likely to be imported for seed in parts of the Commonwealth “where it is now imported in bulk for the purpose of being converted into starch. Another reason is that in the ordinary course the Customs would take a sufficient monetary security from those who were importing rice for seed free, and that security would not be returned to the importers until they had satisfied the Department with evidence that the rice had been used for that purpose.
– I shall vote with my colleague, Senator Chataway, on this request, on the ground that as I cannot get all rice free, I do not mind getting as much of it free as possible.
– Paragraph e relates to the duty that has to be paid in respect of rice that comes into the Commonwealth in a fit condition for human consumption. The difference between 3s. 4d. on uncleaned rice and 6s. on the rice under paragraph c represents somebody’s idea of the allowance which ought to be made for carrying on the cleaning industry. The difference between 3s. 4d. and 6s. is 2s. 8d. I can assure the Commitee that, so far as the actual cost is concerned, 8d. would be more than sufficient. The actual wages cost per cental for cleaning rice would be amply and abundantly covered bv a difference of 3d. Of course, I there refer to wages only. The question the Committee have to decide now is to what extent they consider themselves justified in making the duty higher than the duty on uncleaned rice, in order to allow the cleaning to be done in this country, remembering that all that will be paid for wages will be 3d. per cental, and that whatever duty is imposed on this item will be the one and only index as to the price to the consumer. In other words, of course, all the rice that is consumed coming under this item will have the duty added to it. Rice that has been previously imported uncleaned and is then offered to the public locally cleaned will be offered, as we all know, at a price which practically covers the price’ at which imported cleaned rice can be obtained. The figures themselves absolutely prove my statement. They prove further, on analysis, that the cleaners of rice in the Commonwealth have been making an enormous sum. I think that was pointed out last night by Senator Millen, but at any rate it is a fact. In a case like this - while I am desirous of reducing the cost to the consumer so far as
I can - I recognise that I am compelled, if I entertain the slightest hope of succeeding on a division, to recognise a margin that will permit of the cleaning being done in the country. That is practical politics; it is not what I should like. What I intend to propose is that this duty of 6s. be reduced to 4s. 3d. It ought to be reduced to 3s. 4d., plus 9d. I suppose that if I proposed to make the duty 4s. I should be told that I was not allowing sufficient margin for the cleaner. It will be seen by every protectionist, however, that my proposal makes provision for wages and everything else. A duty of 4s. 3d. allows for a difference of11d. instead of 9d., which I am perfectly certain is ample. But if I were to say 9d. it would make the duty 4s.1d. That would be rather an . awkward sum. Therefore, owing to the laws of addition, I propose to add on 2d. more than I know is requisite. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 94, paragraph c, 4s. 3d. per cental.
– This is a case somewhat analogous to that which we discussed yesterday - 2d. per lb. on almonds in the shell, and 4d. on kernels. It was pointed out that it was necessary to have that difference, because in the one case the duty was paid on the shell and the kernel, and in the other on the kernel only. The question was then raised as to what proportion in weight between shell and kernel should be allowed for. In the case of rice, cleaned and uncleaned, I am given to understand that the proportion is about 100 to 70 between rice uncleaned and cleaned. On that basis, it would appear that the duty on cleaned rice ought to be 4s. 8d. or4s. 9d. A duty of 4s. 3d. would really put cleaned rice on a lower rate of duty than that on uncleaned.
– I am interested in the Minister’s figures, because even if the Committee does not adopt Senator Clemons’ request the Minister himself hasgiven very strong reasons why we should reduce the duty from 6s. to 5s. The Minister says that the duty which should be placed on cleaned rice to put it into line with the duty on uncleaned rice is 4s. 8d. per cental. Senator Clemons, who speaks with the knowledge of a Tariff Commissioner, says that the total cost of labour in cleaning is 3d. per cental. We are not supposed in relation to these protectionist duties to provide for anything more than the difference. between local and foreign labour. If we go to the very furthest extreme we are asked to go, and add on the whole cost of labour plus 33 per cent., that would be 3d., cost of labour, plus one-third,1d., making 4d., which is all that is necessary to bring the duty on paragraph c to an equality with the duty on uncleaned rice. According to the Minister’s own figures, therefore, 5s. per cental is all that can be reasonably asked for.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority ….. 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
Item 95. Salt, and table preparations thereof, in packages of any description, not exceeding 14 lb. net weight, ad val., 15 per cent.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [12.20]. - I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 95 (imports from the United Kingdom), ad. val., 10 per cent.
I shall not elaborate any argument. I simply seek to maintain a preference for imports which are the produce of the United Kingdom. The principle has already been fully discussed on other items.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 15
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to.
Item 96. Salt -
– I understand that under the old duty of 12s. 6d. per ton on salt, n.e.i., certain German salts of a light pink colour were imported into Austialia.
– Of a brown colour.
– I am told that they were of a light pink colour, but the whole point is as to whether they should have been regarded as pink or brown. These salts, at all events, were brought in from Germany, and made dutiable at 12s. 6d. per ton, because it was found that it was impossible, by grinding them, to make them suitable for curing, and other commercial purposes. I understand, however, that it has been decided to admit a later shipment free. The result is that a distinct preference is given to a German as against a British salt. I have ascertained the explanation of the Customs officials, and think it right to give it. They say that the later shipment of German salt, upon examination, was found to consist of blocks of two colours, one being light, and the other dark; that from the information at their disposal they arrived at the decision that it would not be profitable to separate the one quality from the other, and that they therefore passed the shipment as rocksalt, free of duty. That seems to ine to be a little unsatisfactory. It will always leave the possibility of a loophole, by which some of these German salts may come in free as against British salt, which is dutiable at 20s. per ton. Whether we advocate or oppose a preference to the United Kingdom, I am certain that no honorable senator desires to grant a preference to German as against British goods.
– I am not so sure about that. We have had divisions on proposals to charge a higher rate in respect of goods from the United Kingdom.
– At any rate, speaking generally, I do not think that the Committee desires to grant a preference toforeign as against British goods, even if it is not in favour of granting a preference to the United Kingdom. I do not know sufficient of the technicalities of this .matter to say how the difficulty should be provided for; but it is possible that other honorable senators will furnish details which will enable us, if necessary, to amend the item in such a way as to make it quite clear that German rocksalt is not to come in free if it will compete with that from Great Britain, which is dutiable at 20s. per ton.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [12.29]. - I had already placed upon my copy of the schedule a request that I intended to move in respect of paragraph b. That request provides for the. insertion of the words “ and German light brown” after the word “pink,’/ so that that paragraph will read “ N.E.T., including pink and German light brown rock.” I take it that there is no objection to the salt described in paragraph a coming in free.
– I have a request to suggest.
– I am not aware that the article is known by any other name than German light brown, and it seems to me that it is as necessary to put in these words as it was to insert the words “ Plaster of Paris “ in connexion with another item. I do not know that any more unfriendliness towards the great German Empire would be shown by such an amendment than is aimed at France by the introduction of the words “ Plaster of Paris.”
– I hope that Ministers will give a little attention to this item, because I am going to make a suggestion to which I do not think they ought to object - a suggestion which will carry out their desire and remedy a slight mistake that they have unintentionally made. The Tariff, as it stands, makes all brown or dark red rocksalt free, the object being to free that kind of rocksalt, which is used for cattle. We all want that class of salt to come in free.
– And that rocksalt, as a rule, comes from Great Britain.
– As a rule, it all comes from Great Britain, but a difficulty has arisen from the fact that under this item a certain quantity of rocksalt, which might have been called brown, but which was really more like pink, has been coming in free from Germany. May I read a question put to a witness before’ the Tariff Commission, and his answer to it? The question is not entirely relevant to this matter, but it has an incidental bearing upon it -
Has the duty had the effect of keeping out any of the superior salts that you refer to? - I do not think that it has affected the English salt; it has only kept out the German rock.
From my point of view, we want a duty to keep out the German rocksalt, and we need, at the same time, to so arrange the item that it will not keep out English rocksalt for cattle. I suggest that we give effect to our desire by means of a preferential duty, and that we allow paragraph a to stand as it is. I do not think that there is any chance of German salt coming in under that paragraph, but, if there is, I am prepared to provide against it. . We should request that paragraph b be amended by the omission of “ N.E.I.,” which includes other kinds, leaving the words “ pink rock, per ton, 20s.,” which would be aimed at the German importations. If pink rocksalt which the Customs officials can classify as English is imported, let it be free. By adopting this course we should succeed in the object we have before us. The duty in respect of “ N.E.I.” can remain as it is, or at whatever rate is desired. Perhaps you, Mr. Chairman, will indicate some way in which we can secure the object which I think Senator McGregor and I have in common. I suggest that we should not interfere with the “ N.E.I. ,” because it applies to another kind of salt, but that we should insert a new line providing for pink rock, and aiming at the German rocksalt without naming it. Pink rock coming from England will, under my proposal, be free.
– I do not think that we ought to agree to paragraph a as it stands, since the object we have in view can be secured by amending it rather than paragraph b. We are all prepared to allow rocksalt used, for cattle to come in free. I understand, however, that certain German rocksalt can be ground and used for other purposes, so that it enters into competition with locallyproduced salt.
– And it comes in, so to speak, under false pretences.
– It is imported in different colours. Some of it is brown and some of it almost approaches pink.
– Is this the way in which the honorable senator desires the paragraph to read - “ Brown or Dark- red Rock (United Kingdom), free ‘ ‘?
– Exactly. We ought to admit the product ot Great Britain free. I therefore move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make item 96, paragraph A (imports from the United Kingdom), free.
– I wish to point out that it may be necessary to effect a prior amendment. If I understand the matter aright, Senator Guthrie desires to make paragraph a apply to pink as well as to the darker rocksalt. In that case it will be neecssary ‘to insert the word “pink” in the first line of the paragraph.
– The proposal of Senator Guthrie contemplates making the duty under the general Tariff 203. per ton, and allowing the product of Great Britain to be admitted free. I would point out that its effect will be to take pink rocksalt out of paragraph b and, in the case of Great Britain, to admit it free. I do, not know whether that is desired. I understand that pink rocksalt, from wherever it may be imported, is likely to come into competition with our own rocksalt.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [12.40]. - It seems to me that, in submitting his proposal, Senator Millen has made a verbal slip. What he should insert is not the word “pink,” but the words “ light brown.” It is the light-brown German rocksalt that it isdesired to make dutiable at 20s. per ton. Now there is a strong distinction between “brown” and “ light brown “ rocksalt. The brown rocksalt contains a percentage of iron which renders it unsuitable for manufacturing purposes, whereas the light brown which in the trade is more generally classified with pink rocksalt, can be used for manufacturing’ purposes, just as pink can be.
Request, by leave, withdrawn.
Request (by Senator Colonel Neild) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 96, paragraph A, by inserting after the word “Brown” the words “Light Brown.”
– In our endeavour to differentiate between coloured rocksalts, I fear that we shall land ourselves in a difficulty. It is well known that some persons are no judges of colour, and it frequently happens that it is extremely difficult to differentiate between various shades. . I should prefer to retain the schedule in its present form, so far as paragraph a is concerned, and in respect of paragraph b, to impose the old rate of duty.
Request agreed to.
Request (bv Senator Millen) agreed to-
That the House of Representatives be requested to further amend item 96, paragraph a, bv inserting after the words “Light Brown” the word “Pink.”
Request (by Senator Guthrie) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 96, paragraph a, by making the duty (imports under the General Tariff), 20s. per ton, and (imports from the United Kingdom), free.
– I notice from the evidence given before the Tariff Commission that the importation of German salt_ has gradually diminished owing to the increased use of Australian coarse salt. That may be satisfactory to some people, but I do not see whywe should admit salt free even from Great Britain, if it is the means of diminishing the consumption of our own coarse salt for stock purposes. The report of the A section of the Tariff Commission states -
It was satisfactory to note that the importations of German rock salt had been materially reduced by the widening employment of Australian coarse salt for stock-breeding purposes.
Before I vote in favour of admitting salt from Great. Britain free, I should like some information as to the extent to which Australian coarse salt is used for stockfeeding purposes.
Request agreed to.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 96, paragraph B, by leaving out the words “ including Pink Rock.”
That is merely a consequential amendment.
Request agreed to.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be re quested to make the duty orv item 96, paragraph B, 12s. 6d. per ton.
I need scarcely inform the Committee that this was the duty levied under the old Tariff, and I think it is not unreasonable that we should inquire whether there is any justification for giving this industry a larger measure of protection than it has previously enjoyed. To my mind, the salt industry has progressed as well as has any industry in the Commonwealth. In this connexion I find that in 1899 our imports of salt totalled 28,000 tons, whereas in j 906 they had fallen to 8,786 tons. In other words, they had dropped 20,000 tons.
– They ought to have dropped 28,000 tons.
– My honorable friend is speaking a little prematurely. At the same time as we were importing 8,000 tons of salt we were exporting from 5,000 to 6,000 tons to New Zealand. There is ample evidence to justify the statement that but for the operations of a combine or trust which embraces both external and internal manufacturers, our exports of salt would have been much greater. I wish to show the progress of this industry by pointing lo the diminution that has taken place in our imports. Prior to Federation, our Australian salt companies were not paying dividends, but since the enactment of the Commonwealth Tariff they have been doing so. Not only have they been paying dividends, but one company has reduced its overdraft from £8,000 to £4,000, and has written down very considerably the account which represents the cost of its plant and good-will; With all these facts before us, it is abundantly evident that the measure of protection which the industry has enjoyed since the establishment of Federation has been ample not merely to insure its steady growth, but to afford those engaged in it a generous measure of profit. The extent to which we are protecting the industry is another matter to which I should like to direct attention. The old rate of duty, namely, 12s. 6d. per ton, represents nearly 50 per cent, upon the value of the product. Under such circumstances, it must be admitted that it affords our manufacturers a generous measure of protection.
– Does the honorable senator say that the price of salt is only 24s. per ton?
– I am speaking of the f.o.b. price. The duty of 12s. 6d. per ton, added to the freight and other transit charges, represents a protection of from 75 per cent, to 150 per cent., according to the quality of the salt. ‘ It is no wonder that with such heavy ad valorem duties the industry has made steady progress, and the manufacturers handsome profits. There is another way of viewing the measure of protection which would be afforded by a 12s. 6d. duty. The cost of producing the salt, including the “ harvesting “ and all charges, is nearly covered by it. In other words, the whole cost of harvesting the salt and making it available is only a little more than 12s. 6d. a ton.
– The salt must be easily obtained if it can be got for 12s. 6d. a ton.
– It is. All I have said is that the cost of production, harvesting, and all other charges was nearly covered by that duty. A few honorable senators may explain or minimize it, but it substantially, represents the true position. I wish to say a word about the combine. There has been outside Australia for some time a very powerful trust controlling the salt market of the world. That trust has undoubtedly entered into some arrangement with the Australian manufacturers of salt. It is known - although no one ever gets to know exactly the details of any such arrangement - that it covers New Zealand, a country to which Australia exports salt. One of its terms is that only a limited quantity of salt is to be exported from Australia to New Zealand. The Australian manufacturers, who could send more salt to New Zealand if they liked, have entered into an arrangement by which they leave the New Zealand market practically to the big salt combination, in return for which only a limited quantity is to be sent by the combine to Australia. In these circumstances, there appears to be no justification for giving an increased duty. Every additional penny on the duty will enable the manufacturers, by means of that arrangement, to add that amount to the price charged to the consumer. That argument would not have much weight if it could be shown that the industry was in financial difficulties, but it is not pretended that it is. Rather, it is on a sound financial basis. As it has attained to that satisfactory position, we should be false to our duty to the taxpayers if we approved of the proposal of the Government, knowing that any additional duty will not’ be minimized by competition, but will simply be an additional bounty paid into the pockets of. those people. If further proof is wanted of the existence of the combine, I may state that the original duty in New South Wales was- 25s. a ton, and, immediatey the duty was lowered to 12s. 6d. by the first Federal Tariff, the local companies reduced their prices by10s. That incidentally throws a new light on the argument that duties do not raise prices. The companies reduced their prices when the duty was lowered, but shortly afterwards, when the combination got to work, and the arrangement I have spoken of was made between the Australian manufacturers and the outside Salt Trust, prices were raised again to a figure far beyond that from which they had previously been lowered. I have only touched briefly on the more salient features of the case. I know the strength of the protectionist feelings of some honorable senators. But there must be some limit to them.
– Oh, no !
– I thought I observed a slight tendency to sweet reasonableness in Senator Findley’s face, and fancied that I could catch him at the psychological moment. It should be remembered that salt is used in one of our big primary industries - that of dairying - with which Senator W. Russell is concerned.
– And in preserving hay.
– It is used also in bacon-curing and other industries. I should not ask for any reduction of the proposed duty if the old one had been insufficient, but it has been proved to be sufficient. There is, therefore, no justification for protectionists or any one else, seeing that the industry has already sufficient protection to enable it to carry on and pay decent dividends, to place the company in a position to levy toll on much larger and equally deserving industries.
– Senator Millen has made several statements, one of which is that there is a combine. There may be a combine for all I know, but, if there is, a duty has a tendency to protect the would-be local producer against the influence of the enormous crushing power from without. I can easily understand a power, strong enough to crush out local industries if it likes, saying, “You can remain in this industry on our conditions, or be crushed out.” Australia ought to be able to make salt enough, not merely for itself, but for the world. With its 8,000 miles of coast line, it could make solar salt enough for the universe, but there are also in Australia a considerable number of natural salt farms, the utilization of which we want to encourage. They have been created for us by nature, and we want to be protected in developing them from the external com bine. It is not pretended that that combine originated here. It is obvious that it began outside, and operated in Australia, if it operated at all, as a compelling influence that this duty ‘ would protect us from.
– The contention of Senator Millen, and a number of other honorable senators, on the other side, is, that the protective duties which have been already passed have raised the cost of living to the whole of the people of Australia.
– The time for suspending the sitting having arrived, I wish to. draw the attention of the Committee to the fact that the sessional order fixes the time for the resumption of the sitting on Fridays at 2 o’clock. The suggestion thrown out this morning that an hour and a quarter should be taken for luncheon will therefore not operate on Fridays.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2p.m.
– I am afraid, Mr. Chairman, that some honorable senators have gone away under the impression that we were to meet again, not at two o’clock, but at a quarter past the hour. Under the circumstances, I suggest that you suspend the sitting for fifteen minutes, and in the meantime I shall prepare a notice of motion altering the time for meeting after lunch on Friday.
– I take it to be the wish of the Committee that the sitting be suspended until 2.15 p.m.
Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear !
Sitting suspended until 2.15 p.m.
– Just prior to the adjournment, I referred to the fact that Senator Millen and others who sit with him contended that the increased protective duties necessarily raise the cost of living. With that contention I, to some extent, agree - protection must increase the cost of living, at least temporarily, in many cases. But the facts discount in some degree Senator Millen’s argument that the old duty of 12s. 6d. is sufficient. The honorable senator pointed out that under the old duty the importations have decreased very considerably ; but something over 8,000 tons are still imported. Some little time ago, in South Australia, an increase of wages was granted to the men employed in this industry, and if the cost of living is still further in-. creased, and a further increase of wages is necessary, the local producers of salt will be placed in a less advantageous position to compete with foreign producers. The probability is that an increase of wages would result in increased importation. This is really a protective duty, because there is no reason whatever for importing any salt into- Australia. Every State of the union has thousands of tons of the raw material, and it only requires the application of labour to provide the finished commodity so necessary in every-day life.
– From information given to me, it seems that the natural protection, as represented by freight and other charges, amounts to about 320 per cent, on the price of salt on shipboard in England.
– But salt may be brought here as ballast.
– That is what is said to do injury to local producers.
– At any rate, I am informed that the natural protection on salt is 320 per cent.
– What is the value of salt per ton?
– The very best quality of imported salt is 65s. per ton.
– Then it would appear that it costs about £9 to bring a ton of salt to Australia.
– I am only saying that I am informed that such is the natural protection, and until I am assured that my information is incorrect T must conclude that the natural protection is very high. I shall vote for retaining the duty .as before.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON. (South Australia) [2.20]. - When this item was before the Senate six years ago, I voted .for the duty then proposed, namely, 12s. 6d. per ton. If any protection ought to. be extended it is to the primary industries, and, although on that occasion I had the honour of being the spokesman of the freetrade party - there was a free-trade party then - I supported the dutv as it had been fixed after full investigation in the House of Representatives. I gave my vote on that occasion on the ground that the argument that freight is adequate protection does, not apply in the case of salt. At any rate, that was the view which was strongly placed before us, and, therefore, I am not quite sure that Senator St. Ledger has been quite correctly informed. I have always, understood that the great difficulty in con nexion with salt production is that the bulk of the salt is imported as ballast, or at a very low rate of freight, or no freight at all. I ask Senator Clemons, who represents the free-trade section of .the Tariff Commission, whether there was any evidence given to justify the increase of the duty to 20s. ?
– At any rate, the increase seems to be very large. I am not prepared to say that the duty ought to remain at 12s. 6d., because, regarding this as a pure matter of business, salt is similar to potatoes, bananas, or hops. There are elements that have to be considered from every point of view.
– The honorable senator is slipping.
– I look to my friend, Senator Clemons-
– To help the honorable senator out of his difficulty ? I do not think I can.
– I look to Senator Clemons to enlighten us as to the reasons for the proposal to increase the duty to 20s. At present, I do not think that a duty of 12s. 6d. is of any use; and, instead of imposing such a duty, it would be better to make the item free.
– I claim the vote of Senator Symon on the ground that salt is a necessaryarticle of food, and, therefore, ought to bo admitted free -or at a low duty. I am perfectly sure that no salt comes out as ballast at the present time ; and the ordinary freight is from 12s. 6d. to 15s., while in the larger boats it is higher. If there be a duty of 12s.’ 6d. on an article sold in England at 305. to 40s. - though it used to be higher - the protection is ample.
– I should not have intervened in the debate but for the appeal .of Senator Symon for me to help him out of his difficulty, and show why the duty should be increased from 12s.’ 6d. to £1. .The imported salt, which competes with the Australian article, is practically of one brand only, namely, the “ Black Horse,” which is sold at 65s. per ton. The witness who came before the Tariff Commission as representing the Castle Salt Co-operative Company - the largest in the Commonwealth - admitted that the cost of production, on a wide estimate, is 35s. a ton. The witness further admitted that the present duty represents 66 per cent. Therefore, I rise to assure Senator Symon that there is good ground for increasing the duty as proposed, seeing that in addition to the duty of 66 per cent., the freight represents only another 40 per cent.
– I am afraid those figures will not bear auditing.
– I am trying to make the figures lean favorably to the view of the honorable senator; and I cannot go further with due regard to veracity. I Gan tell the honorable senator, however, that the present duty, plus the freight, represents only 106 per cent.; and, therefore, I suppose it is only fair that, as this is a South Australian industry, the protection should be raised to about 150 per cent. There is another reason that may appeal to Senator Symon. When the witness, to whom I have al ready referred, came before the Commission, we asked him what his trouble really was, and it appeared to be the common trouble of manufacturers, especially in Victoria. In reply to a question as to the present duty on salt, the witness said -
So far asthe South Australian internal trade is concerned, I am quite satisfied, and I do not want any more duty ; but we want a higher duty in the other Inter-State markets.
The trouble with this and a number of other manufacturers is that the Inter-State competition troubles them in regard to prices; as Senator Millen said the other day, using a phrase which seems very expressive, “ they cannot all turn cannibals.” Not being able to devour one another, and being reluctant to admit the necessity of doing so, they conjure up a purely imaginary foe in the person of the man who sends from abroad. No matter what duty we impose this “Black Horse “.salt will continue to be imported. It has been selling for years at a price higher than that of the best salt produced in South Australia.
– I can assure the honorable senator that what I say is a fact. Senator McGregor, who was a member of the Tariff Commission, will remember that this was a salient point in the evidence we heard, namely, that in the case of the imported salt there is no attempt to undersell the local production. The imported salt sells, I suppose, on an average at £1 per ton higher than does the local production, and, no matter what duty may be imposed, it will still be bought at the higher price by certain persons who carry on primary industries.
– In the main the statements of Senator Clemons are true, but made as they were they may have created a wrong impression in the minds of some honorable senators. The balance of evidence given before the Tariff Commission went to show that prior to the competition of the locally manufactured article Black Horse salt was sold at nearly 50 per cent, more than it has been sold at since the establishment of the Commonwealth. It is also quite true that the representative of the Castle Co-operative Salt Company stated that so far as South Australia was concerned, a duty of 12s. 6d. per ton might be considered high enough. Every one knows, what that means. It means that just round where the salt is manufactured probably less than 12s. 6d. per ton might be sufficient. But it was clearly pointed out to the Commission that in most instances the freight from Victoria to Western Australia or from South Australia to Queensland was much higher than the freight from Great Britain or Europe to any part of Australia.. These are the points to be considered when we are endeavouring by a protective duty to secure the production of, salt, not in one State alone but in ali the States. Although Senator Clemons fairly stated the case from his own point of view, still I do not think that he stated the whole case to the Committee. I hope that the duty will be agreed to.
– In the evidence given before the Tariff Commission it was shown by Mr. Allen that the freight per ton from England was as low as us. to Brisbane and 7s. 6d. to Sydney, whilst from Edithburg in South Australia it was 7s. 6d. to Melbourne, 8s. 3d. to Sydney, 13s. 3d. to Brisbane, 17s.6d. to. Rockhampton, and 22s. 6d. to Townsville. It would seem that in the matter of freight the Castle Cooperative Salt Company is very severely handicapped.
– By the local shipping.
– The local shipping pays good wages.
– I am willing that the local shipping should continue to pay higher wages and should continue to charge higher freight. But there is no foundation for the. statement that the freight is an additional protection to a salt company in South Australia or other States. Seeing that in 1906 we imported £12,092 worth of salt, I think it is only fair that we should increase the protection to the local producers of the article.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 96, paragraph b, “ Salt n.e.i.,” 12s. 6d. per ton (Senator Millen’s request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item 97 (Seed: Canary, Hemp, and Rape), and item 98 (Seed, cotton) agreed to.
Item 99. Seed (Cotton), for the manufacture of Cotton Seed Cake and denaturated Cotton Seed Oil may be delivered free as prescribed by Departmental By-laws.
– A short time ago, when I made a suggestion in regard to another item, it was described as being small, unnecessary, and contemptible. I draw attention to the fact that under this item it is proposed by the Government to admit cotton seed for the manufacture of - cotton seed cake and denaturated cotton seed oil, free, as prescribed by departmental by-laws. In 1 906, we imported from Egypt 10 centals of cotton seed, which yielded a revenue of £2. Is it intended to retain this item and incur the expense of printing and circulating departmental by-laws at a cost of considerably over £2, just for the purpose of enabling somebody or other to get in £6 worth of cotton seed in the course of a year? In addition to that, we have decided to give for the next eight years a bounty of 10 per cent, on the market value of the ginned cotton produced in Australia. It seems to me that an error has been made in putting in this line. I cannot believe that, for the sake of saving to somebody £2 in duty, honorable senators will retain the line, especially in view of the fact that a bounty is offered for the production of this commodity. Therefore, I move -
Thatthe House of Representatives be requested to leave out item 99.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [2.42]. - I quite agree with the proposal made by Senator Chataway to omit so ridiculous an item as yields a revenue of £2 a year. To show the absurdity of the proposal, it would hardly be possible for any. one to move a request for a preference to British cotton seed. If I did, I suppose I would be told that it was too paltry. The item is very paltry, and would not yield enough money to cover the cost of printing the departmental by-laws. The duty collected on the 11 centals of cotton seed in 1906 ought really to have been £2 4s., and not £2. I hope that the Minister will consent to the item being placed on the free list.
– Which item?
– Item 98.
– The Committee has agreed to that item.
– The revenue of £2 which Senator Chataway quoted refers to item 98.
– We are not dealing with item 98, but with item 99.
– I have moved a request that item 99 be left out.
– I will support the request.
– If the request be adopted, the item will become dutiable.
Item agreed to.
Item 100. Soap -
– Under the old Tariff the duty imposed was 3d. per lb. on fancy soaps, and id. per lb. on all other soaps. I intend to submit a request for an alternative duty of 20 per cent., or 3d. per lb., on fancy soaps. This industry is certainly not in need of any further assistance from the Legislature. I propose to quote some figures with a double object in view, first as showing that the local soap industry is fairly well able to take care of itself, and then as showing that if we have any desire to give a preference to Great Britain it can be given in connexion with this item with, so far as I am able to see, no injury whatever to local manufacturers. Quoting from the Trade and Customs Returns for 1906, I find that in that year the total imports of perfumed soaps amounted to 891,117 lbs., valued at £65,840, of which 583,918 lbs., valued at £38,989, came from the United Kingdom. Of ordinary soaps included under the heading n.e.i.,, the total importation was 1,474,486 lbs., valued at £13,642, and practically the whole of this importation came from the United Kingdom. Now, as showing the position of the industry in Australia, let me tell honorable senators what the exports were. Our exports of perfumed soaps in 1906 amounted to 104,618 lbs., valued at £4,656; and of ordinary soaps under the heading “n.e.i.” we exported 4,658,195 lbs., valued at £44,184. It will therefore be seen that our export was as four to one when compared with the imports of this class of soap, and it will hardly be contended in the face of these figures that the industry in Australia is not well able to meet local requirements, and also to find a footing in the markets of the world. That is a very satisfactory position, with which I am sure we are all highly pleased, but it indicates that there is no necessity for an increase of duty, seeing that under the duty imposed by the old Tariff the industry has been making such very satisfactory progress.
– Senator Millen has pointed out what I think we all knew, that the local soap manufacturers have practically Raptured the whole of the trade of the Commonwealth, and need have no fear of any competition. If I am asked how it is that some soap is still imported, the answer is perfectly simple, and has been supplied on other items even by protectionist senators opposite. It is that we may impose any duty we please short of absolute prohibition, and there will always be a small importation of the article made dutiable.
– But in this case there is an importation of over £80,000 worth of. soap.
– But Senator Guthrie should know that many kinds of soap are included in the total importations, and amongst them the soap that does not wash clothes is responsible for some of the duty collected on this article. That soap is not made here.
– Yes, it is.
– Is Monkey Brand soap made in the Commonwealth ?
– No; but a substitute for it is.
– Here, again, is our old friend the substitute.
– And if it is not made now, it will be !
– Sand soap is largely used as a substitute for Monkey Brand soap.
– Most of the revenue we collect from soap is from duties levied on soaps that are not made here.
– Mostly fancy soaps.
– I admit that we import a certain proportion of fancy soaps, and a fair proportion of what are called medicated soaps. There will always be people in the Commonwealth who will buy some of these so-called medicated soaps that rightly or wrongly - and I cannot determine from personal experience - are asserted to have, wonderful effects upon the complexion, the growth of the hair, or in some other way. Honorable senators opposite know what human nature is, and they know that soaps advertised to possess certain qualities will continue to be bought by people in Australia. If they did not buy these soaps they would not purchase any soaps made here for the same purpose. This duty is, therefore, wholly and solely a class tax. I am not hypocrite enough to say that I object to class taxation which affects only the poorer classes. I object to class taxation of any kind. It may be said that the poor man is not concerned about his complexion and has no fads on the subject of the growth of hair, but we should not be influenced by class prejudices of any kind. From the revenue point of view, though I object to revenue duties, I admit that this item covers what are practically luxuries, and in the interests of fair taxation, I do not therefore suggest that the item should be made free. Another reason is that it would be perfectly hopeless to submit such a request. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 100, paragraph a, ad. val., 25 per cent.
– It will be obvious to honorable senators that the Tariff as first introduced provided for a duty of 25 per cent, on both paragraphs a and B of this item. ‘ In another place, it was decided in the case of paragraph a to add the words “ and on and after6th November, 1907, ad. valorem 25 per cent., or per lb. 4d., whichever returns the higher duty.” I point out to honorable senators that this makes provision for an alternative duty. If 4d. per lb. on toilet, fancy and medicated soaps yields a larger revenue than would be provided by a duty of 25 per cent., the duty levied will be 4d. per lb., and if 25 per cent, will yield the higher revenue, that will be the rate adopted.
– That is to say, the cheaper soaps pay the higher duty.
– That is an argument which applies to the principle of fixed duties rather than to this particular item. It was found that many toilet, fancy and medicated soaps coming in at a duty of 25 per cent, were paying less than they should pay. Senator Clemons has said that the local manufacturers have captured the local market.
– They may have done so in the case of soaps, n.e.i., but they have not clone so in the case of toilet, fancy, and medicated soaps. Quoting from the Trade and Customs Returns for 1 906, page 234, it will be found that it is perfectly correct, as Senator Millen has stated, that in 1906 Australia exported 104.618 lbs. of perfumed, toilet, and medicated soaps; but if honorable senators will look at the next column, they will find that of this quantity 51,632 lbs. were produced in countries other than Australia.
– Of course, they come under the exports.
– Exactly ; but the fact that we imported 51,000 lbs. and exported 52,000 lbs. of soaps of a certain quality does not show that we have captured the trade.
– It shows that the net imports are not serious.
As I know that I have not the slightest chance of carrying my request if Senator Keating insists on the retention of alternative rates, I ask leave to withdraw it.
Request, by leave, withdrawn.
– Mr. Chairman-
– I would point out that I gave notice three weeks ago of my intention to move an amendment on paragraph a.
– The notices of amendments which are circulated are not official papers, and I am bound to call upon the first senator who, in rising, catches my eye. Even the fact that an honorable senator has intimated that he intends to move a certain request gives him no right of priority.
– I rose first.
– The honorable senator resumed his seat, and then Senator Millen rose.
– An honorable senator who was industrious enough to give notice of a sufficient number of requests could absolutely forestall every other senator., if to do so gave him a right of priority. However, I am willing to give way to Senator Neild.
– As a matter of personal explanation, I wish to say that on many occasions honorable senators have asked me to allow them to move requests of which I have given notice, and in every instance I have allowed them to do so. I am willing to give way to Senator Millen in this instance, and had he mentioned to me his desire to move a request, this incident would not have occurred.
– I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 100, paragraph a (imports from the United Kingdom), ad val., 20 per cent., or 3d. per lb., whichever rate returns the higher duty.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … 4
Question so resolved in the negative.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [3.9]. - It seems to me unreasonable, if 25 per cent, is a proper and sufficient duty for soaps which may be regarded as an article of luxury to impose the same rate on the common soaps dutiable under paragraph b. I therefore move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item100, paragraph
B (imports under General Tariff), ad val., 20 per cent.
– At the risk of being charged with a feeling that I do not entertain, I ask honorable senators opposite to recollect that this duty will press very heavily upon the working classes, and especially upon their women. In every cleanly household, soap of the kind covered by this paragraph is considerably used. There is not a working woman in Australia whose household bills will not be increased, possibly to a material extent, if we allow the item to stand as proposed. I ask the Committee to pause before agreeing to increase the duty above the rate under the old Tariff.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 8
Question so resolved in the negative.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales [3.17]. - I think that this is an item upon which we might very well grant a preference to the United Kingdom. I therefore move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 100, paragraph b (imports from United Kingdom), ad val., 20 per cent.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to.
Item 101. Spices, viz. -
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make item 10 1, paragraph a, free.
Our imports of spices come chiefly from India, the Straits Settlements, and Java, and a very large revenue is derived from them. This is a merely revenue-producing duty. There is no hope of our producing our own spices, and I fail to see why we should continue to pay this duty merely for the sake of increasing prices. Despite the protective duty under the first Federal Tariff our imports have been increasing.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … …8
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 101, paragraph b, per lb., 2d.
We are dealing with a Tariff introduced by a protectionist Ministry, and we cannot go wrong if we adopt the measure of protection which they have asked us to support. Having agreed to. a request that unground spice, formerly dutiable at 2d. per lb., should come in free, I think we might well agree to this request, and so maintain the measure of protection originally proposed by the Government.
– I hope that the Committee will not agree with the honorable senator’s proposal.
– It is practically the Government’s own suggestion.
– That is not so. The honorable senator bases his plea on the ground that since we have agreed to admit spices unground free of duty, we should now request that spices ground be made dutiable at 2d. per lb. Certainly the Tariff as introduced into this Chamber provided that spices unground n.e.i. should be dutiable at2d., and that spices ground n.e.i. should be dutiable at 4d. But the reply to the honorable senator’s argument is that the Committee has agreed, not to make spices unground free, but to request another place to do so. I take it that the fact that we have agreed to request another place “to adopt this course does not necessarily mean that it will do so.
– We must make the two paragraphs consistent.
– The Government oppose the request which has just been asked for, and I hope that another place will not agree to make unground spices free. There has been no departure fromthe pre-existing duty, and, as a matter of fact, most of the goods that come under this heading can very well bear a Customs impost. I do not think that the imposition of a duty of 4d. per lb. as against” a duty of 2d. per lb. on this item will press harshly or injuriously upon any one.
– Let us divide.
– I am not at all averse to doing so. I hope that honorable senators will not agree to the proposal.
. -I am sure that honorable senators do not wish to be misled in this connexion. Senator Lynch moved that the duty upon unground spices should be abolished with a view to affording the spice industry a greater measure of protection by making its raw materials free. The duty which it is now proposed to levy upon ground spices can easily be avoided, because, if the House of Representatives assents to Senator Lynch ‘s request, manufacturers will be able to import their spices free, and to grind them in the Commonwealth.
-Colonel GOULD (New South Wales) [3.31]. - Senator Trenwith has spoken of this duty as a protective one. But it was clearly understood by a protectionist Government, and by a protectionist House of Representatives, that a margin of 2d. per lb. between the rates imposed upon unground and ground spices would afford the industry a sufficient measure of protection. Surely we are not called upon to make the duty upon ground spices 4d. per lb., when the protectionist members of this Parliament have, in effect, already declared themselves satisfied with 2d. per lb. ! The Minister of Home Affairs has expressed the hope that the other Chamber will not agree to the abolition of the duty of 2d. per lb. upon unground spices. But if the Government are satisfied that a margin of 2d. per lb. between the duties levied upon unground and grpund spices will afford the industry ample protection, as a logical sequence to the vote which has already been given, the proposed duty should be reduced to that amount. If the House of Representatives thinks otherwise, it has the power to deal with the whole matter. But, from every stand-point, it. is only logical to reduce the duty upon ground spices n.e.i. to 2d. per lb.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 107, paragraph b, “ Spices, Ground.” 2d. per lb. (Senator Dobson’s request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item 102. Sparklets, for making aerated waters, free.
– - This is an interesting item, and one with a history. I should like to make a few remarks concerning it, and I wish specially to address them to Senator McGregor. The history of this item is interesting, not because of what we know, but because of what we do not know. It would be more interesting still, if we were privileged to read the hitherto unpublished memoirs of a prominent labour leader in this Parliament, disclosing the reasons why, in the first Commonwealth Parliament, he moved that sparklets should be admitted free. After the lapse of six years, the opportunity presents itself to Senator McGregor to advance; not the reasons which he urged when the first Commonwealth Tariff was under consideration, but any other reasons, why he as a protectionist should move that an article which is used entirely by the rich, should be made free. If he desires to give those reasons to the public, I shall be very glad to hear them.
– The reasons that I would urge on the present occasion are precisely those that I advanced on a previous occasion.
– When I extend this very open and public invitation to Senator McGregor to assign reasons why he thinks that sparklets should be free, I have not the slightest doubt that he will repeat the arguments that he used six years ago. But I am quite sure that he is not prepared to add to them in any way. If he has nothing to say upon the subject, I shall now leave it alone.
– If a duty is proposed upon sparklets, will the honorable senator support it?
– Does Senator McGregor think that that question supplies an adequate answer to what I have been saying? It is very easy for him to talk now of imposing a duty upon sparklets.
– I always use the same arguments.
– But thehonor able senator will confine himself to the arguments which he advanced on a previous occasion. He will go no further. Dropping that question altogether, I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 102, by inserting after the word “Sparklets” the word “seltzogenes.”
If sparklets should be admitted free, so should seltzogenes. Neither article is made in Australia, and neither is likely to be. The seltzogene is a patent, and cannot be made in the Commonwealth. It serves precisely the same purpose as does a spark- let.
– It would not be advisable to make the amendment suggested, especially as seltzogenes are included in item 251, under the division “ Earthenware, cement, china, glass, and stone.” Sparklets were included under this division, “ Agricultural products and groceries,” in the old Tariff, perhaps because they were purchasable at grocers’ shops. It would be better to discuss the question of admitting seltzogenes free when we reach item 251. Even if sparklets are out of place in this Division it will not help matters to introduce seltzogenes.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales). [3.42]. - We seem to be getting rather mixed. I understand that sparklets are the bullets or charges with which the little glass affair is charged in order to make the liquid effervesce, whilst seltzogenes are machines in which, with certain chemicals, the same result is produced. We cannot include seltzogenes under the head of “ agricultural products and groceries,” because they are nothing of the sort.
Item agreed to.
Item 103 (Starch) agreed to.
Item 104. Starch Flours, per lb. (General Tariff), 2½d. ; (United Kingdom), 2d.
– Iwish to draw the attention of the Government to a matter connected with this item. If they do not feel disposed to accept my suggestion I do not know that I will delay the. Committee by’ pressing it. I understand that what is known as potato flour is included for Customs purposes under this item. Potato flour is used by twine makers to polish twines, and also,
I believe, in some other industries. If so, I should imagine that there was no desire on the part of the Government to make it dutiable. It is perhaps included in this item because of the difficulty of differentiating one kind of flour from the other. But that does not appear to be -a very serious difficulty, seeing that the Customs Department always has at its command competent chemists and analysts. I believe the trade name of potato flour is farina. It is quite distinct from starch flour, which is useless for the purposes for which farina is used. I hope the Government will accept my suggestion that farina should be admitted free.
– No. It can be made here easily enough.
– But it is not being made here. Sparklets could be made here, but they are not. I do not deny the ingenuity and ability of. the Australian mechanic and capitalist to do anything. But potato flour is not being made here. It is used by a large number of men in a multiplicity of small industries, and what is the use of placing a duty upon an article merely because it ma,y at some future time be made here? The imports of it are not great, but the duty does represent an impost upon an industry already established. If the two industries were already established I would not advocate disturbing the balance between them, but when certain established industries are using an article which is not made here, what is the good, even from a protectionist stand-point, of placing an impost upon them?
– - I hope Senator Millen will not convert his suggestion into a motion to exempt potato flour. It can be manufactured in the Commonwealth. It is proposed in this Tariff to raise the duty upon twine. We have sufficient raw material in the Commonwealth to enable us to hope that before very long under the stimulus of a duty our own people will turn their attention to the manufacture of potato flour. The duty on it is proportioned to the increased duty upon twine. If potato flour were made free, it is so difficult to differentiate these flours from one another that we might often be defrauded of revenue by it being introduced as a substitute for others which are dutiable.
– I do not propose to labour the question. I thought the Government, in their desire to encourage industries already established, would readily adopt mv SUK. gestion to take off an impost upon an article used in an established industry rather than retain it in the hope that in the sweet by-and-by some other industry might be established.
– Senator McColl was distinctly told by me that we could not accept the suggestion.
– I know nothing. of that. I believe that Senator McColl saw the Government with regard to - another kind of flour.
– With regard to potato flour.
– And also with regard to another flour. Senator McColl saw the representative of the Government with regard to another flour, on which, on behalf of that honorable senator, I propose to submit a request.
– I am speaking of the particular flour before us.
– I know nothing of Senator McColl in regard to this flour. The Government profess a desire to encourage industries; but where is the sense in imposing a duty on an article which is not made here, and which is necessary in an industry ?
– It would be substituted for. some of the other dutiable flours in passing through the Customs.
– There is no other flour on which so high a dutv is charged.
– There are departmental objections.
– Then why were they not brought forward ? The only argument used is that at some future time the industry mav be started.
– It will be remembered that I dealt with this very question when speaking of the difficulty of distinguishing between starch flours.
– And the Minister said that even chemists could not tell one from the other.
– I said I had the authority of the Government Analyst for the statement I made.
– 1 have spoken to a chemist in town, who say.s that he will analyze as much a.s the Department chooses to send along. This chemist laughed at the idea that competent chemists could not make an analysis, but he did say that, on a perfunctory examination, it would be difficult to distinguish.
– Does the honorable senator desire an analysis of every item?
– I do not; it is the
Customs people who make the trouble.
– The honorable senator has admitted that no one could distinguish the difference on a cursory examination.
– No analyst, however skilled, could determine by mere observation.
– I have just said so. If the difference has to be determingd by observation there is no need for the use of the word “ analysis.”
– Then an absolute analysis would be required in every case.
– The Minister the other day stated that it would not be possible for an analyst to distinguish, whereas it now appears that he meant an ordinary officer.
-I said that even an analyst could not distinguish.
– And I say that an analyst could. The only reason for introducing the analyst was to convey that, even after severe analysis, the difference could not be distinguished. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 104 by adding the following paragraph- “ b. Potato flour, per lb., ½d.”
I should have preferred the item to be free, but I have been requested by Senator McColl to suggest that the duty on tapioca be½d. - a proposal which I believe the Government are disposed to favour - and, as there might be some objection to a distinction between the two commodities, I submit the request I have read.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 4
Question so resolved in the negative.
Request (by Senator Millen) put -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 14 February 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1908/19080214_reps_3_43/>.