3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. BATCHELOR presented a petition from the Market Gardeners’ and Producers’ Association of South Australia, and 215 other users of oil. engines, accompanied by a declaration that only users, of oil engines had signed it, praying the -House to reduce’ the standard of flash of kerosene to 73 degrees Fahrenheit.
Petition received and read.
– It is with the greatest reluctance that I interpose at this stage’.. Although the occurrence of calamities in any part of Australia is certain to be sympathetically noted in this House, yet the disaster which occurred on Monday night is so grave and appalling that it is at least incumbent upon us to indicate our deep sorrow and regret, while extending our condolence to the numerous shattered victims. A .few days previously a similar accident, though happily on a less serious scale, occurred in ‘ New South Wales, but so ‘ many’ of our citizens have just been killed or maimed so near the spot where we. are now meeting that it might be regarded as an in- dication of indifference if we were not to pause for a moment in our arduous and important labours to express, in the simplest and sincerest fashion, our sympathy with the many who are suffering. Considering the circumstances of the country and the rapidity of its development, our railways have a record of which we are properly proud, and it is therefore the more unfortunate that there should now be written on the pages of their history a misfortune so’ deplorable. Accidents of this kind happen in all countries, especially in the New World, whose general conditions resemble ours most closely. They appear capable only of reduction, since they have never been provided against, even in themore closely settled countries of Europe. None the less we cannot refrain from expressing, however imperfectly, the unanimous sympathy of the House with the victims of the disaster, and those associated with it.
– The Prime Minister did right in asking us to pause for a moment in the discharge of our ordinary business to express the deep sorrow which we feel at the calamity which has befallen us. In spite of our civilization and our material advancement, there is always the incalculable element of human error which creeps into our best laid schemes, and, by upsetting them now and again, plunges the community into mourning, and causes the dark shadow of sadness to hover over our homes. This is such an occasion, and I join cordially with the Prime Minister in his expression of sorrow and regret for those who have been the victims of this unhappy occurrence. As he has said, these accidents take no account of locality. It was the State of New South Wales yesterday, it is Victoria to-day, and who shall tell what State will furnish the next victims? We can onlystandd dumbfounded at the sight of these visitations, and do our best to assuage the grief which has come to the homes of so many.
.- May I also express my regret that such an appalling disaster should be possible. I cannot add anything to the words of the Prime Minister, except to say that we must feel some sort of satisfaction in the fact that nearly every one who was able to render assistance to the wounded did so ungrudgingly, actuated by fellow feeling and sympathy. It is one of the characteristics of our race that we need no law or prescribed rule to compel us to go to the assistance of our. fellow men or sister women when in distress, and the redeeming feature of this deplorable disaster is the exemplary courage of those who suffered, and the heroic services performed by those who rendered assistance.
Assent to the following Bills reported -
Officers Compensation Bill.
Australian Industries Preservation Bill.
Appropriation Bill 1907-8.
– In reference to the proposal that the Imperial Government should convene a conference of representatives of the self-governing States of the Empire to consider the question of the restriction of Asiatic immigration, I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether he has received any communication from the Imperial authorities asking the Commonwealth to take part in such a gathering, and if so, what position he proposes to assume towards it?
– No such invitation has reached the Government. In point of fact I understand that the proposal to which the honorable member refers was made simply by certain eminent individuals, and not by any members of the present Government of Great Britain.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether the desertion from their ships of a number of foreign sailors for the purpose of accepting employment upon our coal-fields constitutes a breach of the Immigration Restriction Act, so far as the proviso relating to the educational test is concerned ?
– The test to which the honorable member alludes is not applied to white immigrants. The only check imposed upon their entrance is that imposed when they come here under contract. That cannot be alleged in the cases mentioned:
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence -
– The honorable member was good enough to inform me of his intention to ask these questions to-day, and consequently I have been able to obtain the following reply -
No action has been taken with regard to choosing any site for a central Commonwealth shipbuilding yard in Australia. In each State steps are being taken to obtain suitable areas which will meet the requirements in connexion with naval development. These negotiations do affect Cockatoo Island, but since they are incomplete fuller information should not be made public at present.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence whether his attention has been directed to a statement published in the Sydney newspapers - and I dare say in the Melbourne journals also - to the effect that in connexion with the Easter encampment in New South Wales thirty-one hours had been occupied in transporting a battery of field artillery from Albury to Heathcote? Will he inquire into the matter, and if the statement should prove to be correct, will he take steps to enable men in future to reach the Easter encampment with much less loss of time?
– If any delay of the kind indicated actually took place, obviously it was not the fault of the Defence Department, because none of the members of the Defence Forces would desire to remain in a train, any longer than was absolutely unavoidable. The” fault must have been with the railway authorities.
– The persons who made the transport arrangements were not in the train.
– But the railways were engaged in transporting the men. If any delay of the- kind actually occurred I shall be glad to inquire into it.
– I desire to ask the Minister whether he will cause inquiry to be made as to’ the reason why, in connexion with the recent .encampment at
Langwarrin, it took from 3.30 p.m. till 11 p.m. to transport the Ballarat and’ Bendigo senior cadets a distance of 23 miles?
– I will make the inquiry suggested by the honorable member.
M.r. SALMON.- In view of the fact that .some time ago a certain method was adopted for estimating the- population of Victoria, under which this State lost one member in this House at the last general elections, I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether - seeing that that method has; now been altered - he intends to take any action ?
– Action has already been taken. The Department of Home Affairs has been asked to prepare a memorandum showing the present position, the circumstances under which the previous estimate was made, and the circumstances under which it is now challenged.
Order of .the Day for consideration, in Committee, of the Senate’s requests, read.
– I think, perhaps, that it will be most convenient for the honorable member to express his views now. The point of order can then be disposed of.
– In the first place, I wish to say that I have “no feeling whatever ‘ in this matter. As a matter of fact, many of the. requests made by the Senate for increases of duty meet with my personal” approval. My sole object is to raise the constitutional issue, and to obtain a ruling from you, sir, in regard to the power of the Senate under the Constitution to make suggestions to this House for increases of duties. I contend that the action of that Chamber in requesting this House to increase duties is a proposal to increase the burdens upon the people, and that the power to increase “ any charge or burden on the people “ is denied to the Senate under section 53, paragraph 3, of the Consti- tution. I submit, too, that the words of paragraph 4 of that section, “ omission or amendment,” do not confer power upon that Chamber to request this House to increase duties, which would be increases of “any charge or burden on the people.” If the Senate can, under the Constitution, request this House to increase a duty, it possesses a greater power than it would have possessed had it been granted the power to amend a Bill, such as this, imposing taxation, because in the latter case it would not have had power to increase, or to request this House to increase, Customs or Excise duties. When the Senate was empowered to make requests in Money and Taxation Bills - which it was forbidden to amend - by the framers of the Constitution, it was intended that it should be a lesser Power than that of amendment. That being so, I contend that, under this lesser power, it cannot do what it could not have done if it had been granted the greater power of amendment. I also contend that if the Senate has the power to request this House to increase duties, thereby, in effect, increasing the burdens on the people, it has a greater power than this House possesses; because this House cannot increase any duty unless the increase is proposed by a Minister of the Crown.
– And upon message.
– In this House a Minister of the Crown alone can move for the increase of any item in a Bill imposing ‘taxation. I contend, therefore, that the Senate has a greater power than this House possesses if it can make suggestions to increase duties, since we cannot even make a suggestion to that effect. It may be argued that the proposals of the Senate are only “ requests “ to this House. But I contend that a great principle is involved. This action of the Senate might result in a deadlock between the two Houses of the Legislature. If it means anything at all it is a declaration by the Senate that it has practically the right of compelling this House to increase the burdens on the people, notwithstanding that such right is specially denied it by the Constitution. It may be said that you, Mr. Speaker, have already decided this question by a ruling given some years ago. But I submit that the question which I have now raised has not been previously raised in the form in which I now bring it before this House. I therefore beg to submit, for your consideration and ruling, whether the Senate, under the power conferred by section 53, paragraph 4, of the Constitution, has power to make “ requests “ to increase Customs and Excise duties, and thereby to increase the charges or burdens on the people.
– Without debating the merits of the question raised by the right honorable member for Swan, important though it be, I rise to suggest that my right honorable friend has not proceeded in a proper way in this matter. While you, Mr. Speaker, have important duties “to perform in connexion with the interpretation of the Standing Orders, I know of no law which imposes upon you the duty and obligation of interpreting the Constitution for us.
– Nor of determining such an abstract question.
– This is not quite an abstract question. It is concrete enough, as the honorable member will observe if he looks at the schedule of requests that have come from the Senate. My right honorable friend is, I think, following the practice of the House of Commons with regard to the relations existing between the Commons and the Lords. But in Great Britain they have no written Constitution, and,- I submit that that makes a very radical difference between their attitude in regard to such questions and ours. All the powers possessed by the Senate are contained in our Constitution. Neither our Standing Orders nor, I submit with great respect, anything that you, Sir, can say regarding those powers, can alter this Constitution in any way whatever. I know of nothing in the Constitution which imposes upon you the obligation to interpret for us what the powers of the two Houses are. I should think that if the right honorable member for Swan proposes to proceed further in this matter, he ought to proceed by resolution rather than upon a point of order such as he has now raised. Regarding the merits of the question’ itself, I do not now propose to say anything.
– The right honorable member for Swan was good enough, two weeks ago or thereabouts, to wait upon me and inform me that he intended to raise the question which he .has raised this afternoon. The notice which the right honorable member was kind enough to give me has enabled me to go quietly through the matter relating to it, before it was actually raised in, the House, with a view of determining what my ruling ought to be. I am therefore prepared to give a ruling at once, which may be of service to the House. First, in regard to the point raised by the honorable member for Parramatta, it -is true that the obligation does not rest upon me to interpret the Constitution. I have ever striven, as far’ as possible, to avoid doing anything of that nature. I recognise that the only body fully entitled to interpret the Constitution is the High Court ; arid I should be sorry even to seem to assume any of the functions which pertain peculiarly to it. Not even this House has the power finally to interpret the terms of the Constitution. Further, on three or four occasions I -have been asked, before to-day, to rule as to what the privileges of this House are in regard to certain messages which have come before us - as to whether such messages ought to be received, and as to whether we ought to consider them. To. rule on such points is surely part of my duty ; and, hitherto, I have striven to perform’ that duty with a sense of the responsibility which rests upon me. In the same way to-day, I am asked whether a message which is about to be remitted for the consideration of the Committee is one that ought to be received by this House, or whether our privileges are in any way entrenched upon by suggestions for raising certain Customs duties. I propose to “deal with the questions raised by the right honorable member for Swan in the reverse order from that in which he has raised them. He has pointed out that if some o.f the suggestions made by the Senate were allowed, one result would be that the Senate would prove to be possessed of powers that are not possessed by this House. He has pointed out that this House has not the power, except on the motion of a Minister of ‘ the Crown, to raise duties proposed by any measure before the House. I suppose that the right honorable member was “referring to standing order 171, which reads as follows -
No amendment for the imposition or for the increase of a tax rate or duty shall be proposed by any non-official member in any Committee on any Bill.
If we were, at any time, in Committee on any Bill it would be impossible then to receive or make any proposal for the increase of any “ tax rate or duty,” unless that increase were moved by a Minister of the Crown.- But on the earlier stage of a
Bill - on the motion for its initiation, when the House is not in Committee on the Bill, but is dealing with preliminary resolutions relating to the imposition of duties - it would be competent for any honorable member to move for any increase which he might desire, at that stage. So that the contention that the practice which is sought to be followed by another branch of the Legislature to-day, would give that branch of the Legislature larger powers than this House possesses, is not quite correct. We are only estopped from taking such action as would increase a “tax rate or duty “ at one stage - that is, when the House is in Committee on the Bill. The next point raised by the right honorable member for Swan - I am’ still taking his points in the reverse order - was as to the intentions of the framers of the Constitution itself - whether it was intended to give to the Senate such powers as it claims. That is a matter as to which my ruling can be asked, but not a matter upon which I should be prepared’ to rule. Whether the practice which has been adopted does or does not confer upon that branch of the Legislature larger powers than the authors of the Constitution intended is not, I think, a question upon which my ruling is really sought. Then comes the next point to which the right honorable member has referred, and concerning which he has kindly given me, in writing, a statement of his contention. The right honorable member submits that -
It is not competent for the Senate to make a. suggestion under section 53, paragraph 3, of the Constitution, that any item in the Tariff Bill, as sent to it bv the House of Representatives, be increased.
That paragraph provides that -
The Senate may not amend any proposed law so as to increase any proposed charge or burden on the people.
In this case the Senate has not made any amendment. It has simply sent to this House a message inviting us to amend it if we think fit. The Constitution clearly provides that in the case of measures for certain specified purposes, the Senate may not make -any amendment ; . it may merely make suggestions or requests for amendments. If the Senate had power to amend the Customs Tariff Bill, an amendment made by it would be obeyed by the Department of Trade and Customs, precisely as it instantly obey any amendment made by this House whilst the schedule is under consideration.’
It is, therefore, clear that the Senate makes nothing in the nature of an amendment by making a request to this House. The making of a request by another place is not followed by action on the part of the Department of Trade and Customs until that request has been considered by this House and agreed to. Unless this House makes the amendment requested the Department takes no notice of the decision of another place, and that decision has no operative value. It is simply a request to us to make a certain amendment. The next point arising under section 53 of the Constitution relates to the paragraph immediately following that which I have just read -
The Senate may at any stage return to the House of Representatives any proposed law which the Senate may not amend, requesting, by message, the omission or amendment of any items or provisions therein. . . .
Those words contain no limitation precluding the Senate from making a request for an amendment which may mean an increase of taxation. This question has not previously been directly ruled upon by me, but it has come before the House on two or three occasions. On turning to volume 1 page 385, of the Parliamentary Papers for 1905, Honorable members will find a detailed reference to all the cases in connexion with which points similar to this have arisen. When the first Tariff Bill was before the Senate, certain requests were made, including one that the Excise duty on tobacco should be increased. A message from another place, embodying those requests, came before this House, and was considered. No point of order was raised; the request for the increased duty was considered, together with others, and a vote of the House was taken. The point raised to-day by the right honorable member for Swan was nearly touched later on, when the Sugar Bounty Bill of 1903 was before Parliament. In. connexion with that Bill, the Senate made a number of amendments - not requests - amongst those amendments being one which clearly involved an increased burden upon the people. When the Senate message was called on in the same way as that now before us was called on to-day, I stated that, in my opinion, the Senate had gone too far. I took the view that we ought not to consider an amendment of the Senate which clearly involved an increased burden upon the people I concluded by stating that if the Senate had desired that this amendment should be made, its proper course, under paragraph 4 of section 53 of the Constitution would have been not to make it but to send to this House a request that it should be made here. The present Prime Minister, as Attorney-General, moved that the Bill be returned to the Senate with a statement that the amendment could hot be received in the form sent, since it was not competent for another place to make it, but that, if it desired, it could make a request to this House in respect to it. The Senate forthwith sent a message to this House requesting that the amendment should be made; the House proceeded to debate the matter, and” the incident was closed by this House making the amendment desired with a modification. If honorable members examine the debates on the Sugar Bounty Bill of 1903 they will see that the point now raised by the right honorable member for Swan was then practically ruled upon. We come now to the next point raised by the right honorable member, that the words “ omission or amendment,” in paragraph 4 of section 53 of the Constitution, give no authority to the Senate to suggest an increase of any proposed charge or burden on the people. It seems to me that, there being no limitation in that paragraph precluding the consideration of a request for an increase of taxation, we have no right to refuse to consider such a. request. Such requests may be consideredentirelyon their merits, . and we have power to reject, modify, or accept them. Honorable members will find reference to this question in Hansard for 1902, pages 14885, 14892, 14918, and 15676. I rule, finally, that the message which we have received from the Senate is one which it is within the power of the Senate to send, and one which, following the precedents we have laid down on two or three occasions, we may well consider and deal with upon its merits.
In Committee :
– I propose, with the concurrence of honorable members, to make a short statement indicating the requests which the Government propose to ask the Committee to accept, and those which we shall ask honorable members to reject or modify. I desire at the outset to say that, like other honorable members, I have noted the keen interest displayed by. another place in dealing with the schedule to the Customs Tariff Bill as it left this House’. I do not think that greater interest has been displayed by the Senate in any other measure which has been transmitted to it, and I feel sure that in making certain requests to us it has not been actuated by any desire to interfere with the proper functions of this Chamber. The Senate commenced its consideration of the Tariff on. the 22nd January, and completed it only on ‘ the 2nd April. Iri the interval, every item was considered in detail from the point of view of honorable senators, and the Hansard reports of the debates on the various items in the Senate contain a great deal of information which may possibly be of use to honorable members. Out of a total of 238 requests, it is the intention of the Government to propose the rejection of 51, and the acceptance of 187. I propose now to state, for the information of honorable members, the requests which the Government propose to accept, and also those which we propose to reject or modify, in order that before each is dealt with they may know what course the Government intend to take.
– Will the honorable gentleman supply the numbers of the items to which the requests apply ?
– I propose to do so. I hope to have the lists printed by to-morrow, but I wish to guard myself to this extent : It is possible that, in a few cases, we may not find it advisable to follow the lists in every particular, and I therefore reserve to myself the right to make certain alterations in the case of items in connexion with which I am still making inquiries. So far as I can at the present moment give definite information as to the intention of the Government, I shall do so. It is proposed to accept the Senate’s request No. 2.
– Those that are not accepted are rejected, I presume ?
– Yes, or modified.
– Is the Minister accepting all the requests for increases of duties ?
– We shall see about that. I have said that the Government propose to accept the Senate’s request No. 2.
– Would it not bt- better for the honorable gentleman first to give the list of requests which the Government propose to reject, seeing that they number only 51 ?
– If it is the desire of honorable members that I should first refer to the requests which we do not propose to accept, I shall do so.
– And we are to understand that the Government accept the rest?
– I think honorable members will desire to hear what we propose to do with respect to all the requests. We propose to accept the Senate’s request No. 2, item 21b, ne.w wording only ; No. 3, item 22b, new wording; No. 6, item 38, free; No. 11, item 46D-
-Does t the Minister propose to accept requests to make items free?
– I ask honorable members to refrain from interjections as much as possible. The Minister has an important statement to make to the Committee, and is entitled to be heard without interruption.
– We propose to accept the Senate’s request, No. n, on item 46D, wording and rate; No. 12, item 53A, new wording, and id. per lb. ; No. 14, item 6ia, insertion of comma, and deletion of words, and b, new item, and 4d. per lb.; No. 15, item 67, duty is. per cwt. ; No. 16, item 79D, deletion of words and new wording; No. 17, item 79E, new item and duty ; No. 19, item 86aa, new item, and free; No. 21, item 92, deletion of words; No. 25, item 96B, deletion of words; No. 28, item 100a, wording; No. 29, item 100b, wording; No. 30, item 107, 40 per cent, and 35 per cent. ; No. 31, item 108, deletion of “furs”; No. 32, item 113, new wording; No. 33, item 114, new wording and duties; No. 36, item 117, new wording; No. 38, item IT9> 3° per cent, upon imports from the United Kingdom; No. 39, item i20a, deletion of words, and new wording only. This is one of the cases in connexion with which I am making further inquiries. I have included it amongst the* requests which the Government propose to accept, but we may not ultimately agree to it exactly as now stated.
– I understand that the Minister proposes to have these lists printed to-morrow.
– Yes; I propose to do so. No. 40, item 120b, alteration in wording only in duty column; No. 41, item 121a, new duties ; No. 42, item 121B, new duties; No. 43, 121d, deletion of word “Caps,” and 121e, new item and duties; No. 44, item 122, 25 per cent. ; No. 45, item 1 23 a, deletion of words; No. 47. 123c, new wording and rates; No. 48, item 123d, deletion of comma after the word “ Galoons,” line 4, and rates; No. 50, item 123G, new wording and duties; No. 51, item 124, new wording, “ n.e.i.,” and duties; No. 52, item 131, new wording; No. 54, item 134A, deletion of words, and 134B, new item and free; No. 55, item 135, altered wording; No. 56, item 137, new wording and duties; No. 57, 139a and b, new wording; No. 58, item 139c, deletion of words ; No. 59, 139D (1) and (2), new wording; No. 60, item 139G, new wording; No. 61, item 139H, new subitem; No. 62, item 143, 20s. per ton;No. 63, item 144, altered wording; No. 64, item 145, deletion of words and new wording; No. 65, item 146, altered wording; No. 66, item 147A, deletion of words, and. 147B, new wording and free; No. 67, item 148, deletion of “ Dairy “ ; No. 69, item 153, is a case where there may be some variation, but duties of 15 and 10 per cent. are suggested; No. 70, item 156, deletion of “ n.e.i.”; No. 71, item 158, new wording; No. 72, item 159, new wording only; No. 73, item 160, deletion of “ Gas Producers “ only; No. 74, item 162A, deletion of words and new wording only; No. 75, item 162AA, new item and free; No. 76, item 163, deletion of words and new wording; No. 77, item 165A, new wording; No. 78, item 165B, deletion of words ; No. 79, item 170A, 30 and 25 per cent.; No. 80, item 170AA, is another request that may be varied a little; No. 81, item 170B, deletion of “entirely” and free; No. 82, item170C, new item and free; No. 83, item 173. new wording; No. 84, item 175A, new wording; No. 85, item 175B, free and free; No. 86, item 175c, free, General Tariff ; No. 88, item 176E, deletion of words; No. 90, item 177A, deletion of “including”; No. 92, item 177c, altered wording only; No. 94, item 17 7G, deletion of item and duty ; No. 95, item 178B, 25 per cent. and 20 per cent. ; No. 96, item 178BB, new wording only ; No. 97, item 178c, 171/2 per cent., General Tariff; No. 99, item 181, new wording and 35s. United Kingdom; No. 100, item 182, new wording; No. 102, item 188, 20 per cent., United Kingdom; No. 103, item 189, deletion of words; No. 104, item 191, new wording; No. 105, item 193, new wording; No. 106, item 195, new wording.; No. 107, item 198, new wording; No. 108, item 205A, deletion of words and new wording, and item 205B, new item and free ; No. 109,. item 206, new wording, No. 110, item 207,. new wording; No. 111, item 217, 171/2 per cent, and 121/2 per cent., with modification of wording of Senate’s request - modification is merely to improve the wording without altering the effect; No. 112, item 222, new wording; No. 113, item 226, new wording; No. 114, item 231, deletion of words; No. 115, item 232, free; No. 116, item 233A, new duty; No. 117, item 233B, new duty; No. 118, item 23411, new item and free; No. 120, item 234K, deletion of words and new wording; No. 121, item 234L, id. per gallon ; No. 122, item 234PP, new wording, but new item to follow, as will be seen in the list of acceptances with modifications ; No. 123, item 236A, 4s. United Kingdom; No. 124, item 236B, 6s. United Kingdom; No. 125, item 236D, 2s. 6d. United Kingdom; No. 126, item 236G, new item and duty; No. 127, item 239, deletion of words; No. 128, item 244, new wording and 35 per cent. General Tariff; No. 129, item 247, deletion of words; No. 130, item 248, deletion of words; No. 131, item 253A, deletion of words; No. 133, item 255, 25 per cent., and 20 per. cent. ; No. 134, item 256, deletion of words; No. 135, item 258, new wording ; No. 136 item 260 - heading - deletion of the word “filled”; item 260D, new wording; item 260E, new wording and duties; No. 140, item 265A, new wording and duty; item 265B, new wording and duty; No. 143, item 278, deletion of words; No. 144, item 283, request as to duty; No. 145, item 284B, wording and duty ; No. 146, item 287, new wording; No. 147, item 290, 5 per cent. General Tariff; No.149, item: 296, new wording and deletion of words, No. 150, item 299, 30 per . cent. United Kingdom; No. 151, item 299B, new wording and rates; No. 152, item 299c, new wording and rates; No. 153, item 303A, is. per 100 super feet; No. 154, item 303B, new wording and duty; No. 155, item 303BI, new item and duties; No. 157, item 303, paragraph j, new wording ; No. 158, item 303, paragraph n, deletion of words; No. 159, item 303, paragraph u, new wording ; No. 160, item 303, paragraph y, duty of is each; No. 161, item 303, paragraph cc, new wording and deletion of words; No. 162, item . 303, definition of “ super face” measurement.
– Is that accepted ?
– These are all accepted.
– It means an increase of the duty by 400 per cent.
– No. 163, item 304, duty of 30 per cent, against the United Kingdom; No. 164, item 306, paragraph a, new wording “ n.e.i.”, and paragraph b, new wording and free; No. 165, item 309, new wording, “n.e.i.”; No. 167, item 318, deletion of the word “bent” and new wording; No. 168, item 319, deletion of the word “ bent “ and new wording; No. 169, item 326, duties of 25 per ‘ cent, and 20 per cent. - that is another request with regard to which I am obtaining further information ; No. 170, items 329 and 330, deletion. - this deletion is merely for the purpose of transferring these items to item 364 as new sub-items there; No. 171, item 333, new wording; No. 172, item 335, new wording; No. 173, item 336, deletion of words and new wording; No. 174, item 339, deletion of words; No. 175, item 340, deletion of words ; No. 176, item 341, paragraph a, deletion of words and new wording, paragraph B* new wording and free; No. 177, item 342, new wording; No. 178, item 344, deletion of words and new wording only; No. 179, item 347, new wording and deletion of words, also free upon imports ,from_ the United Kingdom; No. 181, item 350, deletion of words’; No. 182, item 353, paragraph b, duty of 2d. per square foot ; No. 184, item 355, altered wording; No. 185,. item 356, new wording and duty in paragraph a; and No. 186, item 356, deletion of words iri paragraph b ; No. 187, item 356’, paragraph c, duty of 6d. against the United “Kingdom ; No.. 188, item 356, paragraph d, altered wording in the duty column ; No. 189, item 356, paragraph e, altered wording in the duty column; No. 190, item 356, paragraph g, new wording; No. 191, item 356, paragraph l, new wording; No. 192, item 356, paragraph m, deletion of words, and paragraph mm, new. wording and rate; paragraph n, new wording; No. 193, item 356, paragraph pp. new wording and free; No. 194, item 356, paragraph y, free; No. 195, item 356, paragraph aa. altered wording; No. 196, item 356 paragraph dd, altered wording; No. 197, item 356, paragraph ee, new wording. and free; No. 198, item 357, paragraph a, deletion of words - in this case “ pencil cases, pen and pencil sets, and pen holders n.e.i.” are deleted in order to make a new sub-item to item 364 at the same duty ; No. 199, item 357, paragraph a> deletion of words; No. 200, item 357, paragraph b, deletion of words, and new sub-item and duty ; No. 201, item 359, new wording - this is a case where my decision might be varied ; No. 202, item 364, wording and duties of new subitems.; No. 203, item 370, deletion of wording and insertion of new sub-item, and “free”; No. 204; item 372, requests re duties ; No. 205, item 374, requests re duties ; No. 206, item 376, deletion of words and new wording; No. 207, item 377, deletion of words, and new wording; No. 208, item 378, new wording and deletion of words; No. 209, item 379, new wording; No. 210, item 380, new wording, “n.e.i.” in paragraph g, and new sub-‘ item and 5 per cent, and free in paragraph 1; No. .2ii, item 380, paragraph j(b), deletion of words and new wording; No. 212, item 380, paragraph J(c). new sub-item and 5 per cent, and free; No. 213, item 384, paragraph b, deletion of words only ; No. 215, item 386, deletion of .words; No. 216, item 388, altered wording;’ No. 217, item 390, new wording; No. 218, item 395, deletion of words and new wording; No. 219, item. .399, deletion of words - this is an item where there may be some alteration, because I am making further inquiries; No. 220, item 400, new wording “n.e.i.” in paragraph c, and also new paragraph’ cc and free; No. 221, item 400, paragraph e, altered wording; No. 222, item 402,- deletion of words - this also is a case which is not finally decided; No. 223, item 406, paragraphs a and b, new wording, new sub-item., and free; No. 224, item 408, paragraph a, is. per’ lb. ; No. 225, item 408, paragraph b, 6d.. per lb. ; No. 226, item 409, paragraph a, deletion, of the word “ filled “; No. 227. item 410, paragraph a, deletion of words and new wording; paragraph b .(i> and (2), new subitems and free; No. 228, item 411. new wording, “ n.e.i.” ; ‘ No. 229, item 417, new wording; No. 230, item 423, paragraph a, deletion of words and new wording, and paragraph b. new sub-item and free ; No. 232, item 43-*. new wording.
– What about .request .No.
– That is, on the other list. No. 233, item- 438, altered wording of footnote ; No. 234, item 442, altered wording re X-Ray apparatus only; No. 235, item’ 446, new wording and deletion of words; No. 236, item 448, paragraph e, new wording; No. 237, item 450, new wording; No. 238, rebate schedule. With regard to the Excise Tariff Schedule, the request for the insertion of “ amylic alcohol and fusel oil, 13s.” is accepted. Those are all the requests that it is proposed by the Government to accept.
– Is the honorable member able to say how many increases and how many decreases he proposes to accept?
– Not at present. We will take them as they come in rotation. I do not think there are very many increases. I come now to requests made by the Senate to be accepted by the Government with modifications, as follow : Request No. 13, item No. 53, paragraph c, modify by deleting the remaining words in parenthesis ; No. 20, item 88b, modify by deleting “ not manufactured in the Commonwealth”; No. 22, item 93F, modify by making rates 30 per cent, and 25 per cent. ; No. 24, item 96A, modify to read - “ Rock Salt, per ton, 20s. and free”; No. 88. item 176E, accept deletion of words ‘but letters “n.e.i.” to follow “Coal Cutting Machines”; No. 119, item. 234JJ, modify by adding “ and in the meantime subject to duty as specified in item 234 (j)” i No. 122, item 234PP, accept provided a further sub-item is inserted reading “ Mineral Oil n.e.i. per gallon 3d. and 2d.”; No. 148, item 295B, accept if “n.e.i.” be inserted after “Petroleum Jelly “ in paragraph a; No. 183, item 353, modify to read - (c) Leather, viz., Calf, n.e.i., ad val. 15 per cent, (cc) Leather, viz., White - Sheep, and White Lamb, ad val. 20 per cent. The requests which will be opposed are No. 1, item 21a, is. 9d. per lb. ; No. 2, item 21b, 2s. 3d. per lb. ; No. 4, ‘ item 34, free ; No. 5, item 36, Itd. par lb., . United Kingdom ; No. 7, item 42, Stearine and- Paraffine Wax, -d. per lb.; No. 8, item 45A, 2jd. per lb. General Tariff ; and No. 9, item 45g, new item and duty. I may mention that the senators would have withdrawn the last request if the Bill” had been recommitted.-.
– Intending to put an Excise duty on the local article.
– They intended to deal with the article in another way. I also intend to oppose.- requests No. 10, item 46c, 2d.’ per lb. ; No. 18, item. 85, 2d. per lb., United Kingdom; No. 23, item 94c, 4s. 3d. per cental ; No. 26, item 101a, free; No. 27, item 105, alteration of “20 lb.” to “5 lb.”; No. 29, item 16b, rates 15 per cent, and 10 per cent. ; No. 34, item 115, rates 15 per cent, and jo per cent.; No. 35, item 116, 20 per cent., United Kingdom ; No. 37, item 118, free and free; No. 39, item 120a, free and free; No. 40, item 120b, free and free; No. 46, item 123b, deletion of words; No. 49, item 123E, 5 per cent, and free; No. 53, item 132, deletion of words and new wording with sub-items and rates; No. 68, item 152 (a), free, General Tariff; (b) new wording; No. 72, item 159, free and free; No. 73, item 160a, High Speed Engines, &c. ; No. 74, item 162a, free, General Tariff ; No. 87, item 176d; s per cent, and free; No. 88, item 176E, free, General Tariff; No. 89, item 176F, free and free; No. 90, item 177A, alteration of “500” to “ 10 ‘’ ; No. 91, item 177B, alteration of “ 506 “ to “ 10 “ and free; No. 92, item 177c, free, General Tariff; No. 93, item 177D, free and free; No. 96, item 178BB, free; No. 98, item 180, new wording; No. 101, item 186, free and free; and No. 132 item 253B, new wording and free. With regard to the last request, I may mention that the new item is unnecessary, as the House of Representatives made provision for the exemption of such glass in item 250. I also intend to oppose requests No. 137, item 261a, 1½d. and id. per lb. ; No. 138, item 261c, 1½d. and id. per lb.; No. 139, item 262, 25 per cent.. United Kingdom; No. 141, item 268a, free; No. 142, item 275, (a) deletion of “Muriate”; (b) new item and 5 per cent. ; No. 156, item-303, (d) deletion of words ; (di), new item and 2s. No. 162, item 303, dd, definition of superficial foot; No. 166, item 3.12, new wording; Nos. 178, item 344; 179, item 347; and 180, item 348, free, general Tariff; Nos. 213 and 214, items 384-15 and c, 25 per cent, and 20 per cent.; No. 23t, item 427, free and free ; and No. 234, item 442, “Dental Chairs.” I shall have printed, for the information of honorable members, the schedules which I have just read; but I hope that they will be prepared to commence this afternoon the consideration of the Senate’s requests.
– Why not get rid of the whole list before we rise to-night? Let us start dividing straight away.
– Cannot the .Minister give us an estimate .of what would .be the .total effect on the revenue of making tha requested amendments?
– I cannot, at this moment, give the exact figures, but the effect is not material.
– I undertake to say that the leader of the Labour Party, who asked for the details which we have just heard, and the Committee generally, are none the wiser, after having listened for half-an-hour to the weary twaddle with which the Treasurer has wasted our time, when he might have vouchsafed us some information.
– The time has been well spent. It is on the other side of the Chamber that time is wasted.
– I expected the honorable member to say that.
– If I had not read the schedules, I should have been blamed for not doing so.
– It would have been more to the point had the Minister told us what would be the effect on the revenue of making the amendments requested by the Senate, and to what extent the making or not making of requested amendments would increase or decrease the revenue.
– That would take some time.
– I thought that the Minister could say in one sentence how the revenue would be increased or decreased by the making or not making of requested amendments ; but, apparently he knows nothing about it, although the Committee has a right to expect from him information as to the effect of adopting the Senate’s suggestions.
– It will not be material.
– We were told, when we had finished our revision of the Tariff, that the effect of the amendments would be to reduce the revenue by £440,000 per anmum. Why cannot we have similar information as to the effect of making or not making the amendments requested bv the Senate?
– We can get this information in regard to each individual item, when it will influence the Committee more than in the gross.
– I intend to adhere, as nearly as possible, to my former votes, though, of course, I shall vote for such improvements as may have been requested by the Senate, either in the rates of duty or in’ the amendment 67 rearrangement of the items.
– The honorable member will support requested reductions of duty.
– I am forecasting only my attitude generally. I intend to make the incidence of the Tariff as nearly as possible what I tried to make it when the schedule was in this Chamber ; of course, leaving myself free to vote for what I deem to be improvements. What has occurred in the Senate makes it necessary for the Committee to strictly scrutinize the requests now submitted for our consideration. Many of the requests affecting important items were carried by only small majorities.
– And increases were supported by the representatives of the Government.
– Yes. It has been singularly unfortunate for those who believe in a moderate, rather than in a high, Tariff, . that two’ senators who are moderate tariffists were absent during the consideration of the schedule in another place.
– This is a very moderate Tariff.
– I was waiting for that interjection, because the Minister has already made it a hundred times. The gentlemen to whom I refer are Senators Vardon and Walker.
– I thought that Senator Walker was an extremist.
– Does the honorable member call Senator Pulsford moderate? He was away.
– I have not mentioned Senator Pulsford. Senator Walker left Australia under the impression that he had secured an effective pair; but it has now turned out that he had not done so. The closeness of many of the divisions in the Senate make it necessary to strictly scrutinize the requests, so that effect may be given to the mind of the country in the final fixing of the Tariff. There were also the cases alluded to by the honorable member for Grey, in which Ministers voted for increases on the rates agreed to by their colleagues in this Chamber.
– As we go along I shall point out a number of such cases, in which the Treasurer agreed to a compromise
– Because I could not get any more.
– Then there was, not a compromise, but a trick. Ifthe Treasurer made certain agreements with the mental reservation that he would cause them to be broken in another place, he was playing tricks with us, and instead of compromises, we had -trickery and deception.
– That does not fairly put the position.
– To take a concrete instance, the Treasurer agreed, after a long and earnest discussion, to certain timber duties;’ but in the Senate Ministers voted for higher rates.
– The honorable member and his party agreed to a great many duties in this Chamber, because they could not obtain lower rates, but when those duties were considered in the Senate they succeeded in their efforts to reduce them.
– The Treasurer has no right to speak of members of the Opposition in that personal sense. I have never made a suggestion- to any honorable senator in regard to any duties agreed to by this House. But the Treasurer cannot evade his Ministerial responsibility in that way. . His colleague in another chamber - whose views upon the Tariff are supposed to be .upon all-fours with those of the Prime Minister and the Treasurer - took up quite a contrary position from that taken by his colleagues here.
– The Treasurer’s colleague in another place may have objected to the compromises, and if so, why should he disfranchise his constituents?
– Then am I to understand that there is no such thing aS a Cabinet opinion upon this matter ? The honorable member for South Sydney knows that when an honorable member joins a Cabinet he must, to some extent, surrender his personal opinions.
– That is an excellent admission to emanate from a man who objects to the caucus.
– It is an admission which has been made from time immemorial. Every man, when he enters a Cabinet, surrenders something of his- personal views. He may make his own mental reservations, and, of course, it is open to him to leave the Cabinet the moment that he thinks he is called upon to sacrifice’ his opinions too far. But he does not bind himself beforehand that under any given circumstances he will vote as the majority of his colleagues may determine.
– Neither do we. That is a piece of misrepresentation.
– The honorable member cannot tell me anything about that matter that I do not know.
– The honorable member himself subscribed to a much more stringent pledge than we do.
-COOK.- That is not so.
– It is so.
– Order !
– That is not so.
– I must correct the honorary member by informing him that it is so. In the Temperance Hall, Sydney, the honorable member himself agreed to a much more stringent pledge than we do.
– I would point out to the honorable member for South Sydney that his interjections are disorderly.
– Whatever I may have done in the Temperance Hall, Sydney, seventeen years ago - and I dare say that I did many things then-
– I must once more ask the honorable member not to pursue that subject
– If you, sir, permit the honorable member for South Sydney to make interjections, I must reply to them.
– I would point out that I have already called the honorable member for South Sydney to order.
– I dare say that seventeen years ago, I was as big a simpleton as the honorable member for South Sydney is to-day.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.That statement has nothing whatever to do with the question before the Chair.
– To come back to the point which I was making when I was induced to digress by the disorderly interjections of the honorable member, I repeat that the Treasurer agreed to certain compromises in this Chamber - as he himself has informed us - with the mental reservation that, in another (place, he would endeavour to destroy those compromises. That is a fine admission for a Cabinet Minister to. make’. I venture to say that no Cabinet Minister has ever before made such an admission upon the floor of Parliament.
– If anything can destroy our system of party Government, it is the way in which it is being abused by Ministers every day of their existence.
– The honorable member need not think that he is going to use his fists, whilst keeping my hands tied behind me.
– I do not use my fists, whatever the Treasurer’s expression may mean. I have a good pair of heels. I merely wish to. say, as emphatically as possible, that when the Treasurer resorts to tricks of that kind - I can call them nothing but tricks-
– He might at least have told us that he was not making a compromise at all, but that he was merely playing upon the House a positive piece of deception. We. have waited all these months to learn that he made those compromises only until he could secure their alteration in another place, through the mouths of his colleagues. But coming to a very much more important matter, I wish to say that one need for a very careful revision of this Tariff, as it has been returned from another place, is to be found in the abundant revenue which it is yielding. I wish it to be distinctly understood that I am not suggesting necessity for scrutiny in the way of prolonged discussion - of long drawn-out arguments. I think that the sooner we can end the debate upon this Tariff, consistent with thoroughness, the better it will be for all concerned. But there are one ortwo matters of which we ought to take cognizance at the very outset of this debate, and one of these is the abundant revenue which has been flowing induring the current financial year.
– That is all right.
– It is all right in a sense, but we must remember that the more revenue we collect, the more the people have to pay. I admit that owing to the relations existing between the States and the Commonwealth nowadays,we have long since thrown overboard those old notions of thrift and economy as applied to national Government, which ought to be in the very forefront of politicians’ programmes.
– The Treasurer allows the States Treasurers to spend our revenue.
– But I do not think that we ought to raise such an overwhelming amount.
– Then let us cut down some of the revenue duties.
– Some of the States want revenue.
– Did the honorable member ever know of a State which did not want revenue, when it had not to raise it? The sooner that position is altered the better will it be for the thrifty development and government of Australia. As soon as possible, ‘we ought to resort to the simple rule that those who spend the money shall be saddled with the responsibility and difficulty of raising it-. During the current financial year we shall collect at least £2,000,000 more than we collected last year. In other words, our revenue will have increased by about 23 per cent. ; and that in spite of the fact that we are supposed to have been engaged in framing a scientific Tariff, with the object of keeping out importations and of decreasing revenue. What does this prove? It proves that the Tariff which was expected to have the effect of stimulating local production throughout Australia has done nothing of the kind. It proves that we have merely added so much to the prices of commodities - an addition which has been paid by the consumers. I admit that we might have expected nothing else. The. presence of the honorable member for Batman reminds me of a simple incident which will illustrate the point that I am putting. Upon one occasion, I recollect the . honorable member exhibiting, for our enlightenment, five or six pairs of babies’ “ booties “ in this chamber, and telling us that in Victoria five men were engaged in their manufacture. To accommodate thosefive men, we taxed babies’ “booties” all over Australia to the tune of 35 per cent. I should like to know what percentage of those “ booties “ are now being manufactured in the Commonwealth in consequence of the imposition of that duty. That is merely one of a number of instances in which - in order to keep a few men employed in one part of the Commonwealth - we levied high duties’ upon articles of general consump- . tion. As time goes on, we shall recognise more ‘and more the utter futility of shaping for the whole of Australia a Tariff which might be good enough if shaped for a small, compact’ State like that of Victoria. When we began our Tariff legislation, it would have been a good corrective for this sort of thing if we had kept a map of Australia alongside of us. Of course, T am simply arguing in favour of what is reasonable as applied to the whole of the Commonwealth, without regard to any particular portion of it. While it may be very well, from a protectionist point of view, to protect those individuals in Victoria who are engaged in manufacturing articles of necessity, such as that which the honorable member for Batman so earnestly champions, I ask whether it is wise to impose these enormous duties throughout the Commonwealth, when there is no possibility of such articles being manufactured in the various States ? Thus it comes about that this year our revenue will exceed the amount collected last vear by 23 per cent., despite the scientific Tariff ‘which we are supposed to have f ramed, and despite the heavier duties that we have levied. . These are facts which we ought to take into consideration in discussing the requests which have been forwarded to us by the Senate. During the current financial year our revenue will total about £11,750,000 as against £9,500,000 collected last year.
– It will take a little time for it to shrink.
– It is obvious that this large revenue will not continue. There must be a shrinkage; but I doubt whether that shrinkage will be as large as some honorable, members forecast. The one outstanding feature in connexion with our Commonwealth finance has been that our revenue has not decreased to the extentthat has been predicted. Sir George Turner was out in his forecast as- to the shrinkage which would take place in the revenue in consequence of the protective incidence of the duties levied under the Tariff of 1901-2. Then, a little while ago, the honorable member for Flinders - himself an ex-Treasurer of this State - in endeavouring to forecast the future financial relations between the Commonwealth and the States, declared that when matters had adjusted themselves, we might expect to receive a revenue of a little over £0.000.000 annually.
– We have experienced ‘a series of good seasons since 1902: That fact must not be forgotten.
– But the honorable member will admit that’ the season experienced this year has not been -better than that experienced last year. There has been a shrinkage in prices this year which is bound to immediately express itself , in the .revenue.
– Not immediately. That is a mistake.
– Then let me put it in this way : There is not likely to be an increase in our revenue. The revenue is, therefore, shown to be so much over that of last year, on account of other ca.uses than the’ seasons. I do , not think the increase is due to the good’ seasons. I believe .that the Tariff had much to do. with it, both in respect of its incidence and the circumstances attending its imposition. No doubt there has been a great deal of loading up in anticipation ot the Tariff, but, on the other hand, there has been a great deal of bonding since the Tariff- has been going through Parliament ; and I question whether those operations do not balance themselves in the course of a year. But, allowing for some shrinkage, if honorable members like, it is still practically certain that we are going to get £1,500,000 of additional revenue of a permanent character from the new Tariff.
– Which will be badly wanted.
– I am not talking about that at present. We did not frame the Tariff to make money. We were supposed to frame it for the purpose of rescuing industries which - were being strangled, and to prevent importations of goods affecting those industries. Here is the net result of our efforts to prevent those importations - that they have enormously increased during the year, and1 that we shall have an increased yield of revenue of over £2,000,000 sterling above that of last year. It seems to me that our Customs revenue will not shrink, if our seasons keep as they are, very much below £1 1,000,000. The Vice-President of the Executive Council in the other Chamber thought that the revenue would settle down at £10,250,000. But all these forecasts, made bv Victorian politicians, are, I am afraid, based on their experience as State Treasurers- and State Ministers of Customs; and .it seems ‘to me that Victorian experience affords no very reliable guide in relation to our experience of Australia as a whole.’ A very good judge estimates that the Tariff will work’ out, at the end of the present’ year, as follows: The yield in New South Wales is estimated to be 12s. per head more than that of last year; in
Victoria, 8s.9d. per head more; in Queensland, about 6s. ; in South Australia, about ros. 6.d. ; in Western Australia, about11s ; and in Tasmania, about 6s. 6d. per head. So that there is not only an increase in the aggregate, but an increase per capita of the revenue derived from the Tariff in all the States.
– Whose opinion is that? .
– It is the opinion ‘ of Mr. Nash, the financial editor of the Sydney Daily Telegraph; and there are few better judges than he. The outstanding fact is that, while we have been piling on these duties with the intention to increase local production and to kill revenue, the revenue itself seems to laugh at all our puny efforts, and maintains itself in this increasing ratio through every month in the year. This is the best possible proof that to frame this Tariff on a basis derived from the experience of one or two large cities of Australia is to place it upon a false basis altogether. When we come to consider the needs of Australia as a whole, and especially the needs of its great primary industries, our efforts ought to be in the direction of a moderate Tariff, and, therefore, in the direction of moderating these duties which have come from the Senate where they transgress the rule which I have just laid down. It will be our duty, therefore, while not doing anything to prolong debate upon the Tariff, to search this schedule with the greatest possible care, with a view of moderating those duties in which increases have been requested by honorable members of another place in pursuance of their rights. I shall do nothing which will add to the burdens of the people of Australia. I believe that in taking that stand I shall be doing that which will eventually be best in the interests of Australian enterprise and of the country as a whole.
Item 21. Tobacco unmanufactured but entered to be locally manufactured into Tobacco or Cigarettes - to be paid at the time of removal to the factory - (a) Unstemmed, per lb.,1s.9d. ; and on and after 5th October, 1907,1s. 6d.
Request. - Make the duty1s.9d.
Motion (by Mr. Hume Cook) proposed -
That the requested amendment be not made.
– Can the Minister explain what the requested amendment means, and whv the Government do not propose to accede ‘to it ?
.- The proposal of the Senate is to make the duty on unstemmed tobacco1s.9d. per lb., whereas what was proposed by this House was a duty of1s. 6d. per lb. It is therefore suggested that the duty be increased by 3d. That suggestion we refuse to accept.
Motion agreed to.
Requested amendment not made.
Requested amendment in item 21, paragraph b (Tobacco, unmanufactured, to be locally manufactured into Tobacco or
Cigarettes, stemmed), inserting the words “ or partly stemmed “ - made.
Requested amendment in item 21, paragraph b, to make the duty per lb. 2s. 3d., not made.
Requested amendment in item 22, paragraph b (Tobacco, unmanufactured, to be locallv manufactured into Cigars, stemmed), inserting the words “or partly stemmed,” made.
Item 34.. Sago and Tapioca, per lb.,1/2d.
Request.-Make the item free.
Motion (by. Sir William Lyne) proposed
That the requested amendment be not made.
– What amount of revenue is involved?
– The request involves a loss of £13,000 per annum.
– I hope that this request will be agreed to. If there is one article more, than another which should come in free, it is sago. Neither sago nor tapioca is produced in Australia, and . I can see no immediate prospect of their production here. They are both valuable articles of food, and are largely used by people living in the interior of the countrv. They form a very valuable substitute for fruit and other perishable products which cannot be readily obtained in the interior.
– Is the honorable member serious in saying that farinaceous foods are a substitute for fruit?
– I am. I notice that these foods are on the free list in the New Zealand Tariff. Without labouring the question, I quite agree with the request made by the Senate, and hope that it will be acceded to.
– I trust that the Committee will agree to sago and tapioca being placed on the free list. They are articles of food which willbe found in most homes in the Commonwealth. Why should we impose a tax upon them?
As far as. I know, they are not produced in Australia. They are good wholesome foods, especially for children. . I therefore trust that the request will be agreed to.
– I point out that the duty which the Government desire to retain means a tax of 30 or 40 per cent, on an article of diet which is used very largely by the poorer classes.
’. - We ought to hear from the Minister whether sago or tapioca are being grown in Australia at present, or whether there is any prospect of their being produced in saleable quantities. If there is evidence that they can be grown in quantities, or that some one is willing to embark on the industry of producing them, there may be a reason for a duty ; but otherwise I can see no reason for dissenting from the request of the Senate.
– A duty was imposed on sago and tapioca in the 1902 Tariff, when the rate was ‘4s. per cental, which is equal to Jd. per lb. I am not aware that sago and tapioca are grown in large quantities in Australia.
– None is grown.
– I think that some of the Queensland members could give us some information on that point. I do not assert that any large quantity is produced in Australia, but sago ought to be grown here.
– The Treasurer had better accept the request.
– The honorable member for Flinders is advocating the abolition of what he would call a revenue duty.
– The duty was in operation under the first Federal Tariff, and I have not heard any great Outcry against it. I should not like to say that we ought to obtain revenue by means of duties on goods in respect of which there is no necessity for a tax, but the States are certainly crying out for increased revenue, and if we cut down the duties the smaller States will suffer.
– I believe that the acceptance of this request would mean the loss of a whole £500 to Tasmania.
– The acceptance of this request and others involving a reduction of duties would affect the returns from the Tariff.
– But the revenue has increased by £1,750,000.
– Even so, the States will be none too well off. What would have been their position if the Tariff had not yielded an increased revenue? We may not always have seasons of prosperity, and we must be prepared to meet any depression that may occur. I think it would be unwise to accept this request, and I would remind honorable members in trie Opposition corner that the honorable member for Balaclava said that he would support the Tariff as it left this House, so that I should at least be able to claim his vote.
.- The Treasurer admits that this is a revenue duty, and to support his contention that it should be retained he falls back on the general statement that the States are anxious to secure as much revenue as possible. That argument would apply to every proposal to amend the Tariff. It seems to me that the point we have specially to consider in this connexion is that tapioca and sago are not- produced in Australia, and that this is therefore a purely revenue impost on articles of food. The Treasurer has said that there has been no outcry against it, but I would remind him that, speaking generally, the consumers of tapioca and sago do not own newspapers, and have no means of making vigorous protest against the duty. Sago and tapioca are wholesome foods for children, and in the circumstances I think that the Treasurer would be well advised in asking the Committee to agree to the request made by another place.
.- When the Treasurer was speaking I interjected that it was to be regretted that he had not given the Committee an indication of the effect which the acceptance of the requests made by the Senate would have upon the revenue. We should have no difficulty in determining what stand we ought to take in respect to proposals of this kind if we knew what would be the effect on the revenue of the acceptance of the requests made by the Senate, and what would be the effect of the increased duties requested and likely to be agreed to. That the Minister thought that such information ought to be given is suggested by the fact that it was pointed out in the Senate that the amendments made by the House of Representatives in the schedule as introduced would involve a loss of revenue amounting to about £440,000 per annum.
We ought not to hesitate to accept this request on ‘the ground that it would involve a surrender of revenue amounting to £13,000 per annum in respect of articles of such wide consumption as tapioca and sago, having in view the fact that on three items alone - wire netting, timber, and galvanized iron - we struck off duties involving a loss of revenue amounting to £170,000 per annum. If I remember rightly, the Treasurer, in submitting his Budget statement, said that this Tariff would yield £900,000 in excess of the amount derived last year under the first Federal Tariff, but that as against that increase we should have to make provision this year for an increased expenditure of nearly £1,000,000. It will be impossible to incur even half of that increased expenditure during the present financial year. The bulk of the votes which are to absorb the increased revenue will lapse by the 30th June, so that we shall have a much bigger balance than was anticipated.
– I hope that they will not lapse.
– Surely the expenditure proposed by the Government in respect of immigration, defence, and many other items which I could mention will not be incurred this year. So far then as we are to consider these items from the point of view of this year’s revenue we ought not to hesitate to make this item free, since the freeing of it can have very little effect upon the large surplus we are likely to have at the end of the present financial year.
– Honorable members have stated that sago and tapioca are produced in Queensland. I do not think that they are produced to any extent there, but it cannot be denied that they can be, and I dare say that they will be produced in larger quantities. I think that the request should be agreed to. Sago is a most nutritious substance. It is the principal food’ of the natives of New Guinea, and by making it free we shall give those who are producing it in our Northern Possession - Papua - a convenient market. A great deal of sago is produced in Papua, and the fact that it is not of the best quality is due simply to defective treatment. The Treasurer would be making a great concession by agreeing to the request.
– The honorable member for Angas has raised a very important question to which the Government should make a definite reply. He has pointed out that this is the first item which raises distinctly the question of what is likely to be the effect upon the revenue of the acceptance of these requests. We are told that we shall suffer a loss of £13,000 per annum if this item be made free, but in order to be in a position to effectively discharge our duty in dealing with these requests we should have from the Government a statement as to what will be the effect on the revenue generally if the requests made by the Senate be accepted. I presume that the Treasurer has the information before him. The Government, in order to determine what requests the House should be asked to accept and what it should be asked to reject, must have had before them the figures for which I ask, and the statement which is to be published should give an indication of how the revenue will .be affected by the acceptance of , the requests.
– The Committee will be given the information as we deal with each item.
– That is not sufficient. I believe we all desire, if possible, to make this item free ; the only question is whether it is wise to agree to a request involving a considerable loss of revenue before we know how the revenue from the Tariff generally will be affected by the other requests that we are to deal with. I am in favour of accepting the request providing that the amendment can be made without adopting a principle that, may seriously diminish the revenue from Customs and Excise. The honorable member for Laanecoorie interjected a few minutes ago that honorable members on this side were in favour of revenue duties, and should therefore be in favour of this impost. That statement’ involves a misconception of the position. I am in favour of revenue duties in the sense that I believe that for a very large number of years we must derive the great bulk of our revenue from. Customs and Excise duties, and that therefore we must always regard” the duties imposed from the point’ of view of their returning a large revenue. In that sense we look upon all imposts as revenue duties. I should like to see the Commonwealth obtaining revenue as far as possible from duties which will also have a protective incidence, where such duties can be fairly imposed. We are asked to remove a revenue duty, which will return- only £13,000 a year - a duty which I am assured is equal to 30 per cent, or 40 per cent, upon article’s of food used largely by the poorer classes’.
– And especially by the sick.
– Sago and tapioca are consumed largely by invalids and children. Unless the Treasurer takes up the position that we cannot afford to lose this amount of revenue I shall feel compelled to vote for the acceptance of the Senate’s request.
– What about the protection of the industry ?
– We have practically no industry in respect of tapioca and sago.
– We shall have.
– Who says so? I am not a protectionist of the class that is prepared to impose protective duties on something which may possibly in the remote future be produced here.
– The honorable member would prefer a bounty for the encouragement of the industry.
– I should prefer, if possible, to grant a bounty. I think we should receive some definite statement from the Treasurer showing whether, taking into account the effect of the whole of the Senate’s requests, which the honorable gentleman must have had before him in making up the list of those he proposes to accept, we can afford to lose this amount of revenue.
– This is one of those propositions which causes protectionists to have very great misgivings. I am not in favour of revenue duties, and have never voted for them where I could avoid doing so.
– All protectionist duties are revenue duties in one sense.
– But not in the sense that this is a revenue duty. This duty is undoubtedly purely a revenue duty, and has no protective incidence. Although sago might be grown in Queensland, it is not grown there, or, at all events, to an extent which would warrant us in imposing a duty upon it equal to 40 per cent, ad valorem. I feel, with the honorable member for Flinders, that in the absence of any urgent necessity from the Treasury point of view, we should not impose a duty on this article, and I should, therefore, like to see the request of the Senate agreed to. But I must express mv surprise at hearing honorable members opposite, almost unanimously, condemning a revenue duty, when we know that some of them posed before the country at the last election as revenue tariffists
– Who has condemned the duty on sago as’ a revenue duty ?
– We do not condemn it as a revenue duty, but as an improper revenue duty.
– Some honorable members opposite have condemned the duty altogether. They have expressed themselves’ in favour of the adoption of the Senate’s request, and I must express mv surprise that they should have done so in view of the fact that they ‘ are here as professed revenue tarriffists.
– What about the honorable gentleman’s position ? How does he intend to vote?
– I am going’ to ask the Government to agree to the Senate’s request. The estimated loss of revenue by the adoption of such a course is £13,000 That is but a small amount, and it has been pointed out that we are dealing with an article of food, which by. reason of its portability, is largely used in the interior. I do not agree with the honorable member for Nepean that it is used as a substitute for fruit ; but sago and tapioca are valuable foods in health or in sickness, and in the circumstances, I hope that the Government will see the advisability of accepting the Senate’s request. The honorable member for Herbert advanced an argument, which should have weight with the Committee. He pointed out that since we have taken over the control of New Guinea, we’ cannot better assist the development of that territory than by helping settlers there to. grow those products which the country is best adapted to produce. At this time last year, I visited portions - of the Ma-, lay Archipelago, where’ both sago and tapioca are grown, and the country and climate .is similar to New Guinea. By adopting the request of the.’ Senate we shall do something to assist the development of New Guinea, and, though it may mean a loss of £13,000 of revenue, there are other ways of raising revenue than the imposition of taxation upon an article- of food.
.- I have been somewhat surprised by this request from the Senate. It seems ‘to me that-it was decided at the last Federal. election to return a Parliament in favour of increases of duties all round.
– Not at all.
– I understood that it was admitted that the result of the last Federal election was to return a protectionist majority.
– Most decidedly.
– I think I have heard honorable members of the Opposition admit that.
– We are not dealing now with a protectionist duty.
– We are dealingwith a duty imposed by the first Federal Parliament. I admit that articles of food should be made as cheap as possible, but the first Parliament decided to impose a duty of½d. per lb. on this article, and there was no great outcry as the result of that decision. I can see no real reason for the abolition of that duty. I should like to repeat the request made by the honorable members for Angas and Flinders, that the Minister should submit some statement showing the financial result of accepting or rejecting the requests made by the Senate.
– The Treasurer has said that it would be immaterial.
– I understand that the honorable gentleman estimates that the result of the adoption of the Senate’s request in this case would be a loss of revenue to the extent of £13,000. I should not describe that as immaterial. If honorable members endeavoured to induce the House to agree to an expenditure of £13,000 for any purpose, they would find that the amount would not be regarded as immaterial. It is an amount which, in my opinion, is well worth considering. The duty has not been objected to in the past, and the people who have used sago have not noticed any increase in the price of the article due to the duty.
– It represents a duty of between 30 and 40 per cent.
– I think that that cannot be correct. It is the duty which has been in force since the imposition of the first Federal Tariff, and I see no justification for its abolition. It seems to me that this House was returned to insist upon the maintenance of a protectionist policy, and
I think we should do so.
– I am afraid that I cannot agree with the honorable member for Fawkner. The honorable member has given the Com mittee a new reading of the mandate of the last election, to which I cannot subscribe.
– I have heard the honorable member say that this is a protectionist Parliament.
– I gravely doubt whether the honorable member has heard me say even that. He has certainly never heard me say that the mandate of the electors was for all-round increases of a protective character.
– This would not be an increase. It would be maintaining the duty imposed under the first Federal Tariff.
– I take a revision of the Tariff to mean an increase or reduction of duties as the circumstances warrant. It would be a fine thing if we were to appoint a Royal Commission to investigate the Tariff with an understanding that we should give attention to its recommendations if they involved increases of duties, and not reductions of duties. The honorable member has given us a new reading of the mandate of the electors, and I have not heard anything like it before in this House. Honorable members who were absent from the Chamber when I first addressed myself to the question, have since asked the Minister to submit a statement such as I asked for before. When I made the request the Minister’s reply was that the requests made by the Senate would, it adopted, make very little difference in the amount of revenue to be derived under the Tariff.
– It would not be very serious. Perhaps it would mean a difference of £300,000, but I shall be able to give the figures more in detail.
– Does the Minister mean that we shall be asked to surrender that amount of revenue?
– I shall be prepared to give honorable members particulars.
– I do not think that the Treasurer knows.
– Then, the honorable member should not ask me these questions, and he will not get wrong information.
– Does the Minister mean £300,000, more or less, of revenue?
– In the absence of the information, I wish to make my position clear. For nine months of the current financial year we have already received £1,750,000 in excess of the revenue received for the whole of last year. Allowing for some slackness which is usual in the last quarter of the year, it is certain that by the end of the current financial year we shall have received £2,200,000 more revenue than was received last year, and, with such an increase of revenue, to suggest that we cannot afford to lose £13,000 from taxation on invalids’ and children’s foods seems to me to be absurd.
– Before giving a vote as a protectionist upon this question, I wished to know whether this article was grown, or was likely, in the near future, to be grown, in the Commonwealth. I find that practically it is not grownat all in the Commonwealth. Although I am here as a high protectionist, I cannot agree with the honorable member for Fawkner that this House was returned to vote all-round increases in Tariff duties. If that be so, some of the honorable member’s colleagues in the Opposition corner will have some difficulty in explaining some of their votes to their constituents. From what I have heard, I am quite satisfied that this is purely a revenue duty, and, as I stated in discussing the Tariff “before, I am opposed to revenue duties. Seeing that there has been a substantial increase in the revenue under the new Tariff, the Minister might well give way to the Senate in this particular matter.
Requested amendment made.
Item 36. Blue, Laundry, per lb.., 2d.
Request. - Make the duty (imports from the United Kingdom),1½d.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the requested amendment be not made.
– Do I understand that the Tariff, as it left the House of Representatives, provided for no preference, and that the Senate desire that there shall be a preference?
– I understand that there is no blue imported from foreign countries.
– I was about to point out that the proposed preference is really of no use.
– On the contrary, I think this is a case in which a very substantial preference could be given to Great Britain.
– Blue is mostly imported from Great Britain.
– And, therefore, we have a fitting opportunity to give a substantial preference.
– There can be no preference if there is no competition.
– Blue is made all over the world, and we can give a preference, while, at the same time, imposing a duty that should satisfy any high-tariffist.
– The duty represents 40 per cent.
– And that ought to satisfy even Victorian protectionists.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … . . . 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Requested amendment not made.
– I should like to know from the Treasurer when, in the case of sago, for example, the free entry of goods will begin to operate? I take it that, even now, the ½d. per lb. duty is being charged on sago and tapioca. We have just decided, in response to a request from the Senate, that sago and tapioca should be free, but from when? No time has been stated.
– I should think from to-morrow.
– It should be stated that the item is to be free on and after a certain date. We should decide the procedure in respect not only of that, but also of all the other items on which the Senate has requested amendments in which we concur. When the Tariff was first considered, the date on which the reduction or increase of a duty should begin to operate was fixed. We have not done that in the case of sago and tapioca.
– The duty has been collected up to to-day. The reduction ought to begin to operate to-morrow.
– I doubt if that can be done without some definite arrangement.
– We should either state with regard to each item the date from which the alteration is to begin to operate, or pass a general resolution to the effect that in all cases the alteration shall begin to operate on the day after it is made. I do not know whether I can go back now, but I shall prepare a motion to the effect that I have suggested.
– I have just heard from a very good authority that, on the occasion of the previous Tariff, the alterations were made to operate as from the next day. If that rule is adopted now it will end the difficulty.
Mr.watson. - It would be better to specify in regard to each item the date from which the alteration shall operate. If a general clause, such as the Minister suggests, is put in, then, in the event of a case being brought before the High Court, it will be necessary for the Judge to look up the records of the House to find out when the alteration was made. That seems rather a complicated method of doing things. It would be much wiser, when an alteration has been agreed to for the Minister to move an addition to it to the effect that it should operate on and after such and such a date. Each item would then be clear and distinct. The item of sago and tapioca could be recommitted, by consent, afterwards, or even immediately, in order to add the necessary words.
– The item referred to has been dealt with, and another item has also been dealt with, and a division taken. It would, therefore, be very irregular to go back to it.
– In that case, the easiest way out of the difficulty would be for the Minister to move that the remaining requests be postponed. The objection to a covering resolution such as the Minister suggested is that we cannot include the records of this House in a Statute.
– I agree with the reasoning of the honorable member for South Sydney, but there is a further difficulty that we are now dealing with requests. How does the honorable member suggest that we should amend the requests ?
– Under the Constitution it is provided that requests may be agreed to with or without modifications.
– The form ofour amendment is independent of the form of the request made by the Senate.
– Then I understand that the necessary words fixing the date may be added as a modification of the Senate’s requests.
Item 38. Rice Root, per cental, 2s.
Request. - Make the item free.
– I intend to agree with the Senate’s request on this item. I cannot very well move to insert the words “ on and after a certain date “ before the Committee decides what it will do. What is to be done if the Senate requests the reduction of a duty, and the Government disagree with the request ?
– Let some one else move it.
– The words “on and after a certain date ‘ ‘ could be put in after the words agreeing to the request, just as easily as before them.
.- I should like a little information with regard to this request. I am told that rice root is a sort of substitute for starch, and is actually used for the making of starch.
– It is not rice at all. It is similar to millet, and is used for making brooms.
– If that is so, it alters the case.
– With regard to the point of procedure, I would suggest to the Minister that he should move that the request be agreed- to, and that the alteration operate on and after the 23rd April.
– There appears to be a doubt as to whether our acceptance or rejection of a request really constitutes at this stage an amendment of the Bill. We are not considering the schedule of the Bill which we sent to the Senate, but are considering requests made by the Senate. It would, therefore, be quite possible to come’ to a decision one way or the other on these requests, and then put through formally in Committee the requests which we have agreed to, as amendments.
– We are in Committee on the Bill. The Bill is now before us.
– I thought that we were merely considering suggestions.
– I find that on a previous occasion the same question arose. The course adopted then may well be adopted now. It is stated on page 503 of the records for August, 1902, that the Committee agreed that “ the date of any of these amendments shall be the date of its being made in the Bill.” On that occasion that direction was acted upon by the Chairman, and the necessary alterations were made in detail.
– Was that an authority to the Clerk to make the amendments in that form?
– An authority to the Chairman.
– Was that done ‘ by resolution?
– Yes. It overcomes the difficulty, and I propose to follow the same course on this occasion. The Chairman, acting on that authority, will give instructions for the dates to be inserted in the schedule in proper form. The objection of the honorable member for South Sydney with regard to possible difficulties in cases before the High Court will not then apply. I move -
That the date of any amendment shall be the date of its being made by the Committee.
Mr. BRUCE SMITH (Parkes) [6.61.- I doubt very much whether such a motion is in order at this stage. We may agree to let. it go because it is highly desirable that the difficulty should be got over, but a great .many questions may arise as to whether it can be. moved in Committee after we have begun to consider the Senate’s requests, and without any notice.
– Let it go.
– I am not against the motion, but if it be carried, questions as to the validity of an alteration may be raised.
– It will be validated in the Bill itself.
Mr. WATSON (South Sydney) [6.7I.- I take it, sir, that if the motion be carried, you will accept it as an instruction to have the decisions of the Committee recorded in that form.
– That would not be done by me, but by the Clerk, who would give an authenticated certificate of the alterations.
– Mr. Chairman, have 3’ou taken into consideration the fact that this Bill has come back to us from another place, with requests for amendments, and that we can deal with only those requests? It is -now proposed to interpolate something which ought to have been done here before, but the Bill is’ not before the Committee fox that purpose, and if it be done, it will be done contrary to parliamentarypractice.
– What is before the Committee now is the’ Bill, ;Avith requests for amendments, and this motion, if carried, will cover those requests.
– But this motion is something which the Senate has not asked us to deal with. My point is that the. Committee can only deal with the requests which have been received from another place.
– With or without modifications.
– If we wish to modify any proposals, we .must send them back to another place to be modified.
Honorable Members. - No.
Motion agreed to.
– I confess that I am troubled about the point raised by the honorable member for Denison. Suppose, for instance, that we made an alteration that the duty on an article should last for five years.
– It would be incidental to the request.
– It would have the effect of completely obliterating the force of the request.
– Still it would be a modification.
– One which amounted to a negation.
– We are entitled to negative any request.
– If we can do this for a day, we can do it for ten years. It seems to me that it is not a regular method of procedure.
.- There is not the slightest doubt that what the honorable member for Denison said is quite correct. We are now asked to introduce something which has not been put before the Senate. We are asked to put in the schedule - which they have the right to see and discuss - new terms.
– We are putting nothing in the schedule.
– We are asked to say that their requests are to come into operation on certain dates. The Senate did not have that condition in the schedule when it was under consideration.
– The Senate had not the power to deal with that matter.
– My point is that in Committeewe are asked to pass a motion which will bring into force certain duties. The fact that it is done in response to requestsfrom the Senate has nothing to do with the matter. If it be proposed to fix in the schedule the dates when certain duties shall come into force it is really importing a condition or a fact which was not previously before the Senate, and it might properly claim that any requests for amendments from this House should be unlimited by condition or time.
– This is the only branch of the Parliament which can determine when a duty shall come into operation.
– Yes, but the assent of the Senate is essential, even in regard to the date on which a duty shall come into operation.
– Has not the motion been carried, sir?
– I remind the honorable member for Corio that the motion has been carried. Do I understand that he has risen to a point of order?
– Yes, sir, and if it be necessary to put myself in order to propose the addition of words to the resolution.
– As the motion has been carried, the honorable member will not be in order in doing so.
– I do not know about that, sir. The Treasurer was allowed to move the motion without notice, and I submit that it is equally my right to move a motion without notice.
– Order. Will the honorable gentleman resume his seat ?
– Yes, sir, and I need not rise again, as I have finished my remarks.
-The whole procedure is of very great importance to the Committee. It is a matter which, so far as I understand it, should not be treated lightly. It is not a question of my ruling, but a question of the proper method by which the duties should be collected. A question of law may be involved. The Treasurer is trying to secure some method which he thinks is the best one for protecting the revenue. There could be no objection to the. motion which has been carried, and, under the circumstances, I hope that the honorable and learned member will treat the matter seriously.
– I said just now, sir, that I would not rise again, but if you suggest that I was treating the question lightly I regard that as impertinence on the part of the Chair.
– Order. I must ask the honorable member to withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it.
– I think that something more is due to the Chair than the mere withdrawal of the term. I therefore ask the honorable member to also apologize to the Committee.
– I withdraw it, sir, and apologize.
Item 38. Rice Root, per cental, 2s.
Request. - Make the item free.
– I move -
That the requested amendment be made.
I only wish to say, in answer to a recent interjection, that this request deals with rice root, and not with rice, as the honorable member supposed.
.- The honorable member for Newcastle intended to deal with this item.
– No, with another item.
– I suppose that a great many honorable members do not quite know what rice root is. I am informed that it is used for the purpose of making brooms, and that it comes into competition with millet, which Australia can produce in any quantity.
– There is very little importation of rice root.
– If that be a true statement, the duty of 2s. per cental should be retained. Any quantity of millet is produced in Australia, particularly in the Hunter River district, in New South Wales. I think that the Government ought to reconsider their decision.
– It is such a small matter that it is not of any importance.
Motion agreed to.
Requested amendment made.
Item 42. Stearine, Paraffine Wax, Beeswax, Carnauba, Ceresine, and Japanese- or Vegetable Wax, per lb., id.
Request. - Amend the item by making’ the duty on Stearine and Paraffine Wax, per lb., id.
– I move -
That the requested amendment be not made.
I do not propose to address the Committee at any length, because we had a long debate on this item on a previous occasion 1 noticed that certain statements were made in the Senate. When this duty was carried here, I made a promise to one gentleman in Tasmania that I would try to see that he was not injured through not being able to get supplies of this wax. A firm here agreed to let him have any quantity of the article at - cost price. A statement has been made, I understand, by that gentleman to the effect that he applied to the firm, and that they refused to allow him to have what he required. I am told that several votes were influenced by that fact. I spoke to the chairman of the company.
– Who said that he applied for it?
– A member of the Government told me that.
– That he applied for it?
– I did not say that he applied for it. I stated that he said that he could not get any wax ; I think he did say that he applied for it, too, but I forget that part of his statement. However, I made a definite promise. I took a great deal of trouble to see that the man was not injured. I got a promise from the makers here a week or two ago, and, very fortunately, the reply came to me in the presence of the Prime Minister. I spoke to the chairman of the company, who is the acting-mayor. I told him that it was not fair to me, or to the man himself, if his statements were correct.
– These large firms will promise anything to get what they want.
– The actingmayor came away from a meeting of the directors of the company. He brought with him the manager, and, in the presence of the Prime Minister, the two gentlemen said they would let the man know that he could have 300 or 400 tons, or any quantity that he might want, at cost price.
– Is the honorable gentleman speaking of stearine or paraffine wax?
– Of paraffine wax. I wanted to put myself right in regard to the matter, and to say that the firm were, and are, prepared to let the man have what he wanted at cost price. I do not like tactics such as those to which that gentleman resorted.
– For how long will the firm supply him?
– So long as he requires paraffine wax.
– That article is now being manufactured in New South Wales also.
– The firm are not under a legal obligation to supply this man.?
– No; but they are willing to place themselves under a legal obligation.
– Are they prepared to do that’?
– Yes. The chairman of the board of directors was highly indignant that such a statement as that to which I have referred should have been made. I wish the Committee to understand that, because I felt annoyed that I should have made a promise to this particular individual which was not carried out. But, as the honorable member for South Sydney has said, New South Wales is now manufacturing paraffine wax, and will do so to a considerable extent before very long. I hope that the request of the Senate will not be agreed to.
– The explanation made bythe Treasurer is rather an extraordinary one. That he, as a Minister of the Crown, should have interested himself in negotiations between firms regarding the purchase and sale of material, is, I hope, without precedent. Such a course of action is highly improper, especially when it is undertaken with a view to influencing the rates of duty fixed by this Parliament.
– It was not undertaken for that reason at all.
– I do not understand what other reason there could be for the Treasurer’s action. An interference by a Minister of the Crown in the sale or purchase of goods between traders is .altogether improper. On the strength of some arrangement that the Treasurer has succeeded in making, this Committee is now asked to accept his statement that, for a number of years, a certain firm will supply an article that’ it produces at cost price. The simplicity of such a proposal is without a parallel. In the first place, I do not see how any firm could give such an undertaking, and, in the second, I do not know how anybody could arrive at what was their “cost price” of production. I am in favour of the reduction requested by the Senate, but I am opposed to that class of argument being brought to bear in this Parliament for the purpose of influencing the votes of honorable members. I say again that it is highly undesirable that Ministers should interfere in negotiations between traders for the purchase and sale of material.
– I cannot allow the statement of the honorable member for North Sydney to pass without challenge, because it embodies an absolute misrepresentation of the facts of the case. Honorable members in this chamber had urged as an argument in favour of a reduction of the duty on paraffine wax that a particular individual was unable to purchase supplies elsewhere, and that the firm to which allusion has been made, refused to supply it. I stated at the time that they would supply it both in New South Wales and Victoria. Until after the vote had been taken in this House, I had no negotiations with that firm whatever. It was only after a division had been taken that they made an arrangement to give effect to a promise I had made when the matter was under consideration in this chamber. Surely there is no harm in a Minister doing a thing of that sort. It was only last week that I challenged the manager of the company with not having carried out that arrangement.
– The firm will not take an order for 100 tons of paraffine wax now.
– The Prime Minister was present when the chairman of directors and the manager of the company told me that they were prepared to supply any quantity of that material. Under these circumstances, I resent the accusation that I have done something improper.
.- It sounds very horrifying to be told that the Treasurer has been engaged in bargaining between traders; but there is really no thing to worry about, seeing that the statement that he could not obtain a supply of paraffine wax in Australia was definitely made by the only person whom I know to be concerned in this matter. Apart altogether from the Treasurer’s investigation, I believe, as the result of inquiry, that that person can be supplied from New South Wales if he so desires.
– Mr. Georgeson will not supply him.
– I am informed that he will. Against the statements of honorable members from Tasmania, we have the statements of business men that they are willing to supply any number of tons of paraffine wax.
– They will not do it.
– The honorable member must either accept or reject what he is told by another party.
– So must the Treasurer.
– Exactly. In this matter each honorable member is only a second party, who has to accept or reject what he is told by principals.
– This man cannot obtain a supply ofwax now.
– The honorable member makes that statement as if he knew it to be a fact from his. own personal knowledge. We require more evidence than that.
– How does the honorable memberknow that he can be supplied ?
– Paraffine wax is being manufactured in New South Wales to-day, which is presumptive evidence that it can be obtained there.
– Oh no; that firm wishes to knock out its rival.
– There is no rival so far as the Commonwealth Oil Corporation is concerned. That corporation does not care whose candles are being used so long as it can get a ready sale at a reasonable price for the article that it produces. We are always being told that New South Wales has been badly hit by this Tariff, which has been framed with a view to supporting Victorian industries. This is one of the occasions upon which we can show a desire to help an industry in New South Wales.
– We have been told that this particular company will sell its paraffine wax at cost price. I quite agree with the honorable member for North Sydney that that is a very indefinite, and almost impossible, standard to arrive at. Certainly the proposal is not a business one. Let us suppose that the Commonwealth Oil Corporation commences to produce paraffine wax. The mere fact that it produces that article is no guarantee that it will sell it.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.4.5 p.m.
– All I desire to add is, that the statement made by the Treasurer as to the undertaking to be made by the firms in question, appears to me to be, on the surface, one that is either quite satisfactory or entirely unsatisfactory according to whether.it is a legal and binding bargain. The intrusion of the Minister into this transaction I conceive to be quite in harmony with the policy of this Parliament, which is in favour of what is termed the new protection; and that is most em,phatically an interference by the State in the business of the capitalist, the consumer, and the employe. Whether it be a right or a wrong thing to do, that is emphatically the policy of this Parliament.
– The question is whether the undertaking is legal or illegal.
– It is not sufficient to say that the manufacturers will sell at a certain price. It is not sufficient to say that they are going to make the article in Australia. We want an undertaking that they will engage to sell to any person who wishes to buy. I understand . that the agents of one of these, firms are prepared to give an undertaking - whether it be a good thing or a bad one is for the Committee to say - that they will sell as much paraffine wax as the users of it wish to buy, at the price that the Standard Oil people are charging, for paraffine wax, whatever that price happens to be at any particular time, less the duty.. They undertake to give a three years’ guarantee .to do that. That appears to me-, on the surface, to be a perfectly fair proposal’. ‘ The only weak point in. it is that there may be such a thing as a combination between the Rockefeller Trust and this Australian Corporation. The representative of the firm here says that nothing is more unlikely. I do not share his opinion to quite the extent that some people appear to do. It is quite possible that there may be a combination. Therefore I fancy that if an agreement were arrived at, that the local firm would, during three years, sell at 4d., or at .the price for which the Rockefeller Trust was selling, whichever price was lower, that would be a sufficient- guarantee. I suggest to the Minister that such a guarantee might be obtained, to sell as much paraffine wax as any person wishes to buy at a price equal to that at which the imported article is being sold less the. duty, or at 4d., whichever is the lower price, during a period of three years. If that arrangement could be made, I could not see my way to vote against an industry that might be of some service to New South Wales, a State which has been overlooked in many respects in connexion with this Tariff. As this is a bond fide enterprise, and no person is going to be placed at a disadvantage by reason of the proposal of the Government, I shall support it.
– I think that we require to review the position and see what we are discussing, because the honorable member who has just sat down has branched off into a number of details which seemed to me. to have no bearing upon the question. This branch of the Legislature resolved that a duty of id. per lb. should be placed on stearine and paraffine wax. The Senate has requested that the duty be. made Jd. In the course of - some observations made by the Treasurer for the purpose of justifying his proposal that we should resist the. request of the Senate, the honorable gentleman ‘ told us of certain interviews that he had had with an individual manufacturer, followed by interviews, with the directors of a particular company who had this commodity to sell. I quite agree with the honorable member for North Sydney that it is a very irregular tiling for a Minister of the Crown of a great country like Australia to be having private interviews with individual manufacturers and with the directors of companies who happen to have the commodity which some particular manufacturers want, and then to make those ex parte and interested statements the basis for legislative action. The Treasurer has asked the Committee to fake a .certain course upon the strength of information which he professes to have gathered from these unrecorded and unauthorized interviews.
– Which I had before the Tariff came back from the Senate.
– The Minister either was, or pretended to be, very angry with the honorable member for North Sydney, because he seemed to suggest that these interviews took place before the matter went to a vote on the farmer occasion, whereas, it appears that the interviews were held after this House passed the duty. But it must not be forgotten that the interviews took place before the vote which we are now asked to give. We are asked to resist the request of the Senate on the ground of these conversations. We have it from the honorable member for South Sydney that the firm concerned is perfectly willing to sell the commodity in question to certain manufacturers. But we also have it from the honorable member for Franklin, that the firm is not only not willing, but not able to sell the commodity at all. So that the Committee is left in this extraordinary position - that we are asked to increase the duty beyond the rate proposed by the Senate by 100 per cent., on the strength of a conversation which the Minister has had with a private individual, a manufacturer, and, afterwards, with the directors of a certain interested company.
– I do not think that that is correct.
– I assure the honorable member that it is. As the honorable member for West Sydney has pointed out, there is no legal obligation whatever upon the people concerned to sell at any particular price. They may be perfectly willing to sell their commodity to a particular manufacturer until the duty is passed, and may then turn round and say “ We were willing to sell at that price then, but we cannot do it now. ‘ ‘ The manufacturers ofthis particular commodity may express their willingness now to sell any quantity to manufacturers who wish to buy. But the moment the duty is through, they may turn round and say, “We shall no longer sell under those conditions.” Parliament really has nothing to do with these private transactions; and what has happened shows the irregularitv and impropriety of the Committee being asked to deal with matters of this sort upon the strength of private conversations. How was the Tariff Commission treated ? That Commission not only had conversations with interested people, but placed them on their oath and examined them in regard to their statements, endeavouring to sift the truth from the falsehood. But this House has snapped its fingers at the Tariff Commission, and the Minister took no notice of its evidence and recommendations when he wished to take the protectionist side. If that be the case,what weight ought we to attach to private and untested conversations, which the Minister has had with individuals? We do not know what motives prompted them. If the Committee looks at this matter from a serious point of view, it will not be guided by these desultory conversations, because, while as the honorable member for South Sydney has observed, these people may now be perfectly willing to sell ; according to the” honorable member for Franklin, they not only will not, but cannot, sell. Therefore, we are left in this humiliating position - that we have no data to go upon.
– It is quite true, as the honorable member for Parkes has said, that it is possible for the firm in question to say that they will supply paraffine wax until the Tariff is disposed of, or for some time afterwards, and then’ shut down on those manufacturers who wish to buy. But the question which we have to consider is this : Suppose that the local manufacturers did refuse to sell paraffine wax to a particular maker of candles. The result would be, or might be, to put a very small body of the employes of one manufacturer out of employment. I do not think that that will happen, but that is the worst that could happen. On the other hand, if we were to accept the request of the Senate, we should interfere with large firms who have expended in one case over £60,000.
– Look after the big man always.
– I am looking after the interests of the little man as well. We have to consider the matter from the point of view of those engaged in the industry, and of Australia generally. If we have to do some harm - and I am not saying that any harm whatever will be done - to any manufacturer, we certainly should not injure 4,000 employes in order to protect about twenty. I do. not think that the honorable member for Bass would desire to do that. But if we were to adopt the request of the Senate, the result would be to allow a vast quantity of paraffine wax to come into this country, to the injury of an industry in which hundreds of employes are engaged. We should simply admit a commodity produced by coloured labour at very cheap rates. A very important consideration in relation to this subject is connected with the different by-products that are obtained. I understand that oleine and glycerine are being manufactured. oleine is being used, and is. likely to be used, in large quantities in connexion with the Broken Hill mines.
– That is so.
– Here is a substantial industry interwoven with one of the greatest industries in New South Wales.
– They are going to make paraffine wax in large quantities in New South Wales.
– Yes. . I have not the slightest fear in relation to the small business with which the honorable member for Bass is concerned. It is a business connected with the moulding of candles ; that requires very little labour. For the sake of this industry we are asked to penalize the manufacturers of stearine and the by-products, which involve the employment of a great quantity of labour and the use of a considerable amount of machinery. For these reasons, I am glad that the Minister is going to stand fast, and not to accept the request of the Senate.
.- The Treasurer has stated that a good deal has been said on this question. That is true. But after all that was said on a former occasion in support of the claims put forward for the large company interested in the manufacture of paraffine wax, the result in this House was that the duty was carried by twenty-five to twenty-one - showing a majority of only four. The Senate carried its request by twenty-three votes to five, showing that the opinion on the question in that Chamber was very strong. I think it fortunate for . the Commonwealth of Australia that we have a House in which the interests of the States are considered as against those of a few* interested persons who happen to have a large sum of money invested in a great business. When the matter was being discussed before, the Treasurer thought it right to say that a certain manufacturer of candles, who happened to be in the gallery, was looking after his own interests; the honorable gentleman made no mention of the fact that lie knew the representative of another wealthy company to be within the precincts at the time. His remarks were not calculated to uphold the dignity of his high and important office. A great deal has been said, about the amount of capital requisite for the manufacture of stearine. At the present time there are only four manufacturers in Australia, and if the duty is fixed at the rate they ask for, they will enter into a combine. It may be said that I, as a protectionist, should vote for the higher rate, but, as I told the people of Tasmania when I first offered myself as a candidate for a seat in this Chamber, I am not a protectionist of .the Victorian, that is, of the high prohibitive, school, because, in my opinion, a prohibitive Tariff would lead tothe establishment’ of monopolies, to which I am opposed.
– Yet the honorable member wishes to give a protection of id. per lb. to the moulding of candles from -wax?
– I wish to treat every one fairly. The records show that I have never voted for the protection of an industry merely because it was established in any particular State. I voted for the protection of the Queensland sugar industry as readily as I have voted for the protection of Tasmanian industries. The manufacture which employs only twenty or thirty hands is as important to those dependent upon it as is a large industry. The honorable member for South Sydney stated that only one manufacturer in Tasmania is interested in the making of candles from paraffine wax, but there are two.
– And two others have been wiped out.
– When Federation was inaugurated there were four, two of whom have since gone under, whereas, if the rate of duty supported by the Treasurer is agreed to, the others will also disappear, and Tasmania will have still further cause to regret having entered the Union. When she did so, her people thought- that the small industries, as well as the large, would be considered. My view has always been that the poor man and the small company should be studied rather than the rich man and the large companies, which can look after themselves. Unfortunately, some honorable members seem likely to go back on their former votes. The honorable member for West Sydney, on the last occasion, voted for a duty of Jd. per lb., and is now going to vote for a duty of id. Some very strange statements have been made in connexion with this duty. For instance, Mr. Kitchen, in the circular which he has sent out, states that -
In the moulding of paraffine wax or stearine scarcely any labour is required. I estimate that the labour in the manufacture of stearine comes to something like 85 per cent., the other 15 per cent, being employed in the moulding of the candles.
He professes to speak for three other manufacturers, one of whom, Mr. Upton, wrote some years ago -
It has been contended that in the conversion of tallow into stearine, a good deal of labour is employed, butthis is not correct. Two or three men and boys, under the control of the technical head, are all that is needed, but the real expense for manual labour comes in afterwards in the moulding-room, where cutting, polishing, packing, labelling, box-making, &c., &c., is carried on. While the cost of converting tallow into stearine will benefitthe labourer to the extent of10s. per ton, the moulding into candles will cost £310s. per ton, and, of course, this labour is the same whether paraffine or stearine is used.
It has been stated that Mr. Kitchen is ready to supply a certain quantity of paraffine wax, but, as he manufactures stearine and not paraffine wax, there appears to be some confusion on the point. I ‘have the authority of one of the manufacturers in Tasmania for saying that he is willing to take 200 tons to-morrow if Mr. Kitchen will supply him at the price at which he is now purchasing from the Standard Oil Company. Mr. Kitchen has told the Treasurer that he is prepared to sell paraffine wax at cost price.
– How can he do so, if he does not manufacture it?
– That is the question. He must be speaking of stearine. It has been complained that paraffine wax candles are injurious to miners, but in Tasmania these candlesare not used in mines. They are used for household purposes, and private persons are satisfied with them ; while their manufacture is a profitable industry, and gives employment to labour.
– How many are employed in making these candles?
– I never ask how many are employed in an industry. If I know an industry to exist, I do what I can for its preservation; just as I voted for the protection of the Brisbane glass industry. As the population of Tasmania increases, the number of hands employed in her industries will increase. Every industry musthave a beginning. We should not allow a local company to be destroyed by firms having their head-quarters in London, and remitting there any profits that they may make. I hope that the’ Committee will deal fairly with the industries of Tasmania, and make the amendment requested by the Senate, reducing the duty to½d. per lb.
.- In answer to an interjection justprior to the adjournment, the honorable member for
South Sydney stated that the company in Sydney represented by Mr. Georgeson had not refused to supply any order, and was prepared to supply orders now. But during . the dinner adjournment Mr. Georgeson had to admit in his presence that he could not supply an ounce within four months, and that his firm was not ready to manufacture.
– He did not say that his firm was not ready to manufacture.
– Hesaid that it was not prepared to sell at the present time, and would not be able to sell for four months to come.
– He said, “ We will take an order to supply four months hence,” which is as soon as we can get supplies from America.
– He said that he was not prepared to fix a price, and that he would supply only at the price ruling four months hence, which means that when the Standard Oil Company and his company have a monopoly, they will combine and agree upon aprice.
– What warrant hasthe honorable member for saying that there will be such a combine?
– Because the company is not preparedto-day to contract to supply at a fixed price for delivery four months hence. It will contract only for a supply at a price to be fixed when a monopoly has been established by means of the higher duty. Surely it is necessary for the manufacturers in Australia to get their raw material as cheaply as possible. . That will be admitted by every protectionist.
– When they cannot get their raw material here.
– When they cannot get it here at a fair and fixed price. The honorable member would not enter into a contract for the supply of goods four or six months hence, at a price to be fixed then, if he knew that the only two companies which could supply him would then have a monopoly.
– How does the honorable member know that these companies will have a monopoly ?
-Beca use the duty will give them a monopoly. That is patent on the face of it. The honorable member desires that paraffine wax candles shall not be used at all.
– That is an honest position to take up in the public interest.
– I am not challenging the honorable member’s honesty. What I say is that if paraffine wax candles are injurious, their use should be prohibited.
– Does the honorable member consider them injurious?
– The miners of Victoria say that they are injurious.
– The Treasurer has stated that another firm is prepared to supply paraffine wax ; but he will find that that firm does not manufacture it, though it manufactures stearine.
– And paraffine wax. I am telephoning to the chairman of directors, to ask for a contradiction to the statement that the firm does not make paraffine wax.
– It may not manufacture paraffine wax ; but it imports it.
– It imports it; but it does not manufacture it.
– The firm is prepared to supply, at cost price, to the Tasmanian manufacturer who has been mentioned as much paraffine wax as he requires.
– Is that the right position in which to place the Tasmanian manufacturers? The firm to which the. Treasurer refers makes candles, and are its Tasmanian rivals to be compelled to go to it for raw material? A duty of ½d. per lb. is a fair and reasonable rate, which will enable the manufacturers in the smaller States to continue to compete with those of the larger States. Mr. Kitchen’s circular speaks for itself.
– It shows that he is a maker of tallow candles.
– Yes, andnot a manufacturer of paraffine wax.
.- I regret that some honorable members should desire to deal with this duty on a wholly different basis from that on which we have approached the consideration of other items. In determining what should be the duty imposed on any article. I am not concerned with the relations between the firms engaged in its manufacture. My contention is, as it was when the Tariff was first under consideration, that stearine and paraffine represent the chief labour involved in the manufacture of candles, and that we should not be justified in imposing a heavy duty solely to protect those engaged in the moulding branch of the industry. The greater part of thelabour in volved in the making of candles relates really to the production of stearine and its byproducts, on the one hand, and to paraffine as a by-product of oil production on the other. The stearine and paraffine having been manufactured and made available, only a few boys are necessary to mould all the candles required to supply any one State. If this request be agreed to, we shall have the anomaly of a duty of1½d. per lb. on candles, and of only½d. per lb. on the stearine and paraffine used in their manufacture. In other words, those engaged in the manufacture of stearine and paraffine willbe protected to the extent only of½d. per lb., whilst a protection of 1d. per lb. will be given to those engaged in moulding.
– There is something more than the moulding to consider. What about the packing and casing?
– Stearine and paraffine have to be packed.
– A good many hands are employed in moulding.
– I challenge the honorable member to prove that thirty hands are so engaged in Tasmania.
– There are nineteen.
– And I venture to say that not more than five of those are adults.
– It is easy to make such a statement,but difficult to prove it.
– If I am wrong, the honorable member may correct me. Between 3,000 and 4,000 are employed directly and indirectly in the manufacture of stearine and its by-products. We have to remember the men engaged in producing the machinery used in the. industry, the miners employed in getting out the coal consumed by it, and the fact that only Australian materials are used in it. I should not allow paraffine wax to be used in the manufacture of candles intended for use in mines on the mainland, and X think that the same rule might also be applied with advantage to Tasmania. Plants which were previously producing stearine are now lying idle. I desire the duties to be so arranged that we shall have genuine stearine candles placed on the market: Certain firms are importing paraffine wax and employing 75 per cent. of it in the manufacture of candles, only 25 per cent. of stearine being used. Candles so made are purchased by people who imagine that they are obtaining a really good article, when, as a matter of fact, they are purchasing that which is absolutely dear at any price.
– Where are such candles made ?
– They are being made here, and they are also being imported.
– There is a duty of 2d. perlb. on candles made wholly or partly of paraffine wax.
– I think that the duty is only1½d. per lb. The miners in Victoria are complaining of the use of paraffine wax in candles supplied for mining purposes. In this State there are men working 4,000 feet below the surface, under conditions that are bad from almost every stand-point. The miners find that paraffine wax candles give off a disagreeable odour, and they are loud in their demand for a better article. I find, on looking at the schedule, that the duty on candles made wholly or partly of paraffine wax is1½d. per lb.
– That is the preferential rate. Imports from Germany - from countries other than the United Kingdom - are dutiable at 2d. per lb.
– We import some candles from black-labour countries, but not from Germany. If we are to place this duty on an equitable basis, we must take care to give the larger measure of protection to those engaged in the manufacture of stearine and wax, since the labour involved in that branch of manufacture is far in excess of that required for the moulding of candles. We should refuse the Senate’s request, and so compel our own manufacturers to put a good stearine candle on the market.
– The men to whom the honorable member would give a monopoly are using paraffine wax.
– So far as one can judge, there does not appear to be ground for the allegation that a monopoly exists, having in view the fact that candles are imported into Victoria from New South Wales and South Australia, and that Victorian and South Australian candles are also used in New South Wales. I do not deny that paraffine wax is used in the manufacture of composite candles here, because the Customs statistics show that, as the local production of candles has increased, our imports of paraffine wax have also increased. . Idesire to do away with that importation. It is difficult, by looking at them, to distinguish between a pure stearine candle and one made chiefly of paraffine wax, but as soon as one of the latter is placed in a buggy lamp or in a mine, and subjected to any heat, it bends, and may be tied in a knot. Many people buy composite candles, believing that they are made of stearine. I should like to see stearine more generally used. Tallow, even in its raw state, will furnish a good light for the miner ; converted into stearine, it makes the best candles of which I know. By adopting a policy which will lead to the general manufacture of. stearine candles in Australia, we shall benefit, not only those employed in the stearine industry, but pastoralists and farmers engaged in raising cattle, as well as the consumers generally.
– Are any pure stearine candles made in Australia?
– Some are made in my own electorate. If we reject this request, we shall not place the industry in Tasmania in a worse position than it occupied before this Tariff was introduced. Those engaged there in moulding wax into candles then had the protection of a duty of½d. per lb., and if we reject this request they will continue to enjoy the same measure of protection. ‘ Listening to the speeches of some of the representatives of Tasmania, one would imagine that it was proposed to do an injury to the industry in that State. We have no desire to do anything of the kind ; but those who favour this request are really seeking to destroy a big industry in Australia by granting a protection of1d. per lb. to those engaged in moulding candles, whilst allowing a protection of only½d. per lb. on the production of stearine. The official statistics show that our imports of paraffine wax have largely increased since 1902. In 1904 we imported £13,648 worth; in 1905, £42,269 worth; and in 1906, £76,345 worth.
– What was the decrease in the importation of candles during that time?
– The figures I have quoted support my contention that stearine candles are not being made here as largely as they ought to be. I hope that this request will be refused. The Committee should see that the duty is fixed with some regard for the labour employed in the industry. If the duty of1d. is imposed the Tasmanian moulders referred to will still be employed. We know that after the moulds are arranged a few boys could look after the moulding of all the candles required in any State.
– Only five people are employed in the making of children’s boots in the Commonwealth, and yet that was held to justify the imposition of a heavy duty.
– Those engaged in the candle-moulding industry will be in no worse position as a result of the imposition of the duty of id., but we shall by refusing the request be doing what is fair to the industry, and what will lead to the employment of a larger number of hands. We shall do more, in compelling the local manufacturers as well as the importers to put a good article on the market, and one which will be of; real use to the man who requires it underground. People who enter a shop to purchase stearine candles have a 1 right to know that what they get for their money are not composition candles containing 75 per cent, of wax and a little stearine to give them a colour.
– Most people prefer to have the wax in the candles.
– I used to think that also ; but scientific ‘evidence could be produced to show that the composition is not a good one. The odour given off from such candles when used in an enclosed place is not such as any member of the Committee would like to breathe. I hope the Committee will do what is fair in this matter, and retain the duty at id.
.- I do not propose to debate the merits of the question, but only to say that honorable members are urging that the use of paraffine wax candles in mines is deleterious to health, and that that is a complaint which in my opinion might be more properly addressed to the State Legislatures, who are vested with power to prevent the use of such candles in mines. Unless honorable members can prove that the use of these candles in any connexion is deleterious to health, they will forgive me for saying that I think it is idle for them to address the Committee on this question. Whilst the honorable member for Franklin was speaking, I understood the Treasurer to interject that he intended to ring up Messrs. Kitchen and Son.
– I did not say so. I tried to get the chairman of directors, as I wished to get from him direct what was stated to the Prime Minister and myself.
– Of course everything depends on the point of view, but it certainly does seem to me that that would be an improper thing for a Minister of the Crown to do.
– Of course I cannot do anything proper.
– I dare say that the honorable gentleman suffers from some constitutional limitations, which prevent him from doing anything proper ; but I do not wish to canvass more than this particular instance. Honorable members’ are here as the trustees of the general public, dealing with a Tariff matter of extreme importance to manufacturers, importers, workers, and consumers. Although the consumers include all classes, we have here a Minister of the Crown prepared privately to consult one manufacturer, a unit of one section in the community, who is, of course, not on oath, as to .whether he should not penalize the whole of the consumers in Australia. The Treasurer, apparently, is prepared to learn over a telephone wire, or in some other secret way, information on which to take action to penalize the general public. I can only regard that circumstance as very unfortunate.
– I do not propose to penalize the general public.
.- I wish to correct a statement made by the honorable member for Newcastle, to the effect that there are not more than five adults engaged in the candle-moulding industry. If the Senate’s request be not agreed to it will involve a loss of work for thirty hands, the majority of whom are adults, in Tasmania alone. The statement of the honorable member fox Newcastle would imply that the whole of the. bad candles, to which he has referred, were made in Tasmania.
– I did not say so.
– The honorable member said that to retain the old duty would only throw out of employment a few men working in Tasmania. He then went on to speak of the injurious effects of the use of these candles in mines. When I spoke on the question, I said I knew what was being done in Tasmania, but that I” did not know what was being done in other parts of Australia. It may be assumed that the effect of reducing this duty would be to throw out of employment a number of hands in other parts of Australia where the candles referred to are made, since the candles made in Tasmania are not sent to the mainland, and are not used in any mines. I hope the Committee will consider that aspect of the matter.
Question - That the requested amendment making the duty on Stearine and Paraffine wax (item 42) per lb.½d., be not made - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 18
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Requested amendment not made.
Item 45. Confectionery, Cocoa, and Chocolate, viz. : -
Request. - Make the duty (General Tariff)2½d.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
.- I hope that the Committee will consider very carefully before they accept the proposal of the Treasurer. The interests of the confectionery industry would be very well protected by means of a duty of 2½d. per lb., especially when we remember that the Tariff Commission recommended a duty of 2d., whilst the old duty was only1d. The decision of the Senate was arrived at after much thought and debate; and all the arguments in the contrary direction are rather for prohibition than for adequate protection. This is not a case of a strangled industry, because manufactories and employes are multiplying, while there is exported annually nearly 400.000 lbs. of confectionery. Under all the circumstances, we ought to accede to the request of the Senate.
Motion agreed to;
Requested amendment not made.
Item 45. Confectionery, &c, viz. : -
Request. - Insert new paragraph - “(g) Confectionery of any kind, containing Glucose, Paraffine Wax, or Plaster of Paris, per lb. (General Tariff), 4d.”
.- I move -
That the requested amendment be not made.
This proposed dutywas based on an intention to impose an Excise duty on recommittal, but none of the items were recommitted. Under the circumstances I think therequest ought to be disagreed with.
.- This motion has been submitted very quietly, as though there was some intention to smuggle it through, but I desire that the facts should be known. Glucose, I understand, is in America made from old boots and things of that sort, and is used, amongst other purposes, for fortifying champagne. Paraffine wax is extracted from shale and refined petroleum; and I ask whether that is a proper ingredient for confectionery ?. Then, I do not like to think of the public chewing plaster of Paris. This material is bad enough in Italian statuary as an apology for art, and is still worse as an apology for food. I ask the Committee to indorse the request of the Senate, and, if possible, to go further and prohibit the importation of any such confectionery. It has been said that this is not a strangled industry, though it would appear that the ingredients used are well calculated to choke those who consume such confectionery.
– Would the honorable member also prohibit local manufacturers from using those ingredients ?
– Certainly. I suppose that plaster of Paris is used mainly for ornamentation purposes, but, at the same time, it is not a proper material from which to make confectionery.
– I agree with the remarks of the honorable member for Dalley in reference to the use of paraffine wax and plaster of Paris in the manufacture of confectionery ; and I am sure that honorable members will agree that their importation in such connexion ought to be prohibited.
– But in’ the absence of an Excise duty or of State laws those ingredients could continue to be used by Australian manufacturers.
– We are not now dealing with local manufacturers, and I have a suggestion to make which I think may meet the difficulty. I never heard of glucose being made out of old boots; I understand it is made principally from maize, and is a useful and necessary article in the production of certain classes of sweetmeats.
– And not harmful.
– And not harmfulif properly produced. My suggestion is that we omit the word “ glucose,” and then accept the suggestion of the Senate, so as to impose the higher duty on the confectionery containing the deleterious substances.
– I agree with the honorable member for Flinders in reference to the use of glucose, but I hope that the Minister of Trade and Customs will exercise the powers he has under existing laws, and prohibit the importation of confectionery containing deleterious substances.
– Is plaster of Paris not used only for the purposes of ornament ?
– There are many things used in the production offood which are just as bad as plaster of Paris; and if I were the Minister of Trade and Customs, I should not hesitate to exercise my powers of prohibition. There seems to be a difference of opinion as to whether or not glucose is injurious; but I am quite willing to allow that commodity to be used , in the manufacture of sweetmeats. Doubtless the Minister will promise, if we agree to the duty of4d., that he will exercise his powers of prohibition, if he finds that ingredients so injurious as paraffine wax and plaster of Paris are still being used.
– I am in agreement with honorable members who seek to prohibit, as far as possible, the importation of confectionery containing such deleterious substances. We must, however, have regard to fairness as between local and foreign makers.
– Both ought to be prohibited from using such ingredients.
– Precisely ; but we have power in this connexion to deal only with goods that come oversea. The Commerce Act, the virtues of which the honorable member for Hindmarsh extols, and which he assisted in passing, cannot apply to any commodity produced locally, however injurious it may be. The suggestion of the honorable member means that foreign makers shall be prevented from sending here confectionery containing plaster of Paris or paraffine wax, while local manufacturers shall be allowed to use those ingredients without restriction.This request originated in the Senate, with an idea of following up the import duty with an Excise duty of a similar amount on locallyproduced confectionery.
– If such confectionery is injurious, its manufacture and sale ought to be absolutely prohibited.
– Exactly ; and I suggest that it would be better to leave the matter over until it can be dealt with, not in the present proposed piece-meal fashion, but in a thorough manner. In the Senate it was intended to recommit this item, for the purpose of imposing an Excise duty, but the matter was overlooked.
– It was not overlooked ; no items were recommitted.
– I understand that honorable senators, if they were here, would propose the deletion of this item until the matter could be dealt with in a thorough manner. We only penalize the importation of this stuff ; we do not prohibit it. If the importers can get through the fourpenny Tariff, they can poison all Australia so far as this provision is concerned. If we think this kind of thing ought not to come in, the proper course to take would be to prohibit it altogether. I believe the Minister has that power.
– Its importation can be prohibited under the Commerce Act if it is injurious. I have just received a memorandum stating that under the Victorian Pure Food Act the presence of paraffine wax and plaster of Paris in confectionery is prohibited.
– Therefore, the Victorian State authorities have already taken action to protect the people from that kind of thing. We may agree to the Minister’s motion on account of the fact that the. request only partly carries out the Senate’s intention. Had they completed their work, as they intended to do, they would have proposed to penalize the local manufacture, as well as the importation, of these substances. That would be fair. If any proposal is made to leave out glucose, and to adopt tha remainder of the requested amendment, I shall be compelled to vote for it.
– Let us eliminate the whole amendment.
– I think it would be better, until we can deal with the matter properly. The only way to deal with it is by means of total prohibition.
.- I am pleased to hear that honorable members desire to prohibit the importation of confectionery containing these substances. Is it the Minister’s intention, if we do not adopt the request, to prohibit their importation under the Commerce Act?
– I am not the Minister who will deal with that.
– Then I should like the Minister of Trade and Customs to give a definite answer to my question. I am not anxious to be poisoned by confectionery which comes in either under a 4d. duty or free, or to see Australians poisoned bv it. I want to be sure that I am not buying an article from which I do not get full value. If I agree to the Minister’s motion, is it the intention of the Government to prohibit the importation of these articles?
– Their importation cannot be prohibited unless they are considered injurious under the Commerce Act. It can be prohibited under that Act.
– Every honorable member who has spoken has admitted that these substances are deleterious in confectionery. I am invited to vote for the motion on the ground that their importation will be prohibited. Unless we get a statement to that effect .from the Government, I shall be compelled to vote .against the motion. No one can contend that these substances are fit for human consumption.
.- I am delighted at the anxiety of the honorable member for Dalley -to protect the young from deleterious materials put into lollies, but if the honorable member visited the factories around Melbourne, and in other parts, he would find tons of glucose being used.
– They make no secret of the fact that glucose “is used- here. They cannot get good results without it.
– I understand that it gives a better finish to the article, and I cannot discover that it has any deleterious effect upon those who consume the lollies made from it. Are we to say that the local article can be made from any ingredients which the manufacturers like to use, but that goods which come from reputable firms like Fry’s and Cadbury’s, in the United Kingdom, are to be shut out because they contain the same ingredients?
– We can get level with the local manufacturer by.’ an Excise duty.
– The stage for imposing an Excise duty has passed. The idea in the Senate, when this request was agreed to, was to impose an Excise duty also, so as to reach the local manufacturer. The Minister has all the power necessary to prohibit importations, but I do not want him or the Committee to fall into the trap of preventing the importation of certain goods because they contain ingredients the use of which is allowed in Australia. That- would be placing a dangerous weapon in the hands of a keen protectionist, such as the Treasurer is, but I do. not think that he would use his .power to that extent. The Minister’s motion should be agreed to. The State authorities can if they like deal with the sale, not only of locally-made, but of imported confectionery containing these substances. Victoria has done so, and other States can do the same.
.- At the present stage of the manufacture of sweets, glucose is absolutely necessary in many of them. Chocolate creams and confections of that kind could not be made as a commercial commodity without it. It prevents them from getting hard. We are all at one in not wanting ourselves or our children to be poisoned with plaster ‘ of Paris or paraffine wax. But the difficulty is that a fourpenny duty will not prohibit the importation of confectionery containing those substances. It will not prohibit the importation of those light ornaments used on wedding cakes. But if we agree to the requested amendment, while the articles could still be imported the Minister of Trade and Customs would not be able to exercise his power of prohibition under the Commerce Act, because there would be this express enactment in the Customs Tariff Act allowing them to be imported at a certain rate of duty. If we do not make this provision in the Customs Tariff Act, the Minister of Trade and Customs, if convinced that the articles are deleterious, can prohibit their importation under the Commerce Act. Therefore the course advocated by the honorable member for Dalley may be the very means of allowing these things to be imported. It will be better to leave the matter to the discretion of the Minister.
Motion agreed to.
Requested amendment not made.
Item 46. Liquorice, viz. : -
Request. - Make the duty 2d.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the requested amendment be not made.
– Will the Minister state what he proposes to do with the request for new paragraph d ?
– I propose to accept it. .
– It is very undesirable that these distinctions should be made, such as having one rate of duty below a certain invoice price, and another rate of duty above it, more especially in an article which is not of large consumption or of very large importation. It only creates confusion to have the difference between the duty on an article which costs1s. and on an article which costs1s.0¼d., not merely one of amount, as under an ad valorem duty, but the difference between a fixed rate and an ad valorem rate. It only complicates the Tariff and makes the difficulties greater for the Department and the importers. The Minister should adopt either an ad valorem or a fixed rate throughout. ‘ I am not suggesting to him what that rate should be.
– There are numbers of cases where the ad valorem system is departed from.
– There are very few instances of the kind now proposed. A duty of 3d.per lb. oh the cheaper grades of liquorice is very much more per cent. than is a duty of 25 per cent. on the dearer grades. Is that desirable? In the interests of the Department, as well as of the importers, the Minister should consider the advisability of either preserving the old duty, or imposing an ad valorem duty all round. I think that all kinds of liquorice should be subjected to a similar duty, whether it be ad valorem, or per lb.
.- I should like the Minister to state one or two of the reasons why he wishes the Committee to disagree with the Senate’s request. As regards liquorice, the Tariff Commission made a unanimous recommendation. I hope that the Minister will recognise that the Committee is entitled to receive an explanation at his hand’s, especially in view of the fact that the Tariff Commission unanimously recommended the duty which has been suggested by the Senate.
– The object is to bring the cheaper grades of liquorice under the same rate of duty as confectionery.
– I should like to hear the Minister’s opinion of my suggestion, which, I assure him, was not made in an antagonistic way. I believe that if he will only consider the matter, he will recognise the wisdom of adopting one rate of duty.
– The honorable member will see that one request deals with liquorice, which is dutiable at 3d. per lb., that is the same rate as confectionery, and that the other request deals with liquorice, which, including the inside packages, exceeds1s. per lb. in value.
– If the Minister wishes to bring liquorice under the same rate of duty as confectionery, it should be made dutiable at 3d. per lb. all round. Some descriptions of confectionery cost much mare than1s. per lb., and are dutiable at 3d. per lb. But in the case of liquorice,’ a different method is adopted, and what is a comparatively small item as compared with confectionery, is divided into two classes, one class being subjected to a fixed duty, and the other to an ad valorem duty. No necessity has been found to deal in that way with the much larger item of confectionery. The Minister is seeking to make a difference, which, I assure him, will prove very often inconvenient to the Department, and often puzzling to the importers. He says that he desires to put liquorice on the same footing as confectionery, but the Senate has put it ora quite a different footing. I ask him to carry out his own intention.
.- It is very difficult, indeed, to hear exactly what view the Minister expresses when the discussion is carried on in an undertone. So far as I understand the position, he wants the Committee to disagree with .the Senate’s request that liquorice should bear a duty of 2d. per lb. I entirely agree with the last speaker that a composite duty on a small item of this kind is highly objectionable. If the Minister would agree to impose a specific duty of 2½d. per lb. on all kinds of liquorice, the trade would know better how they stood. But to differentiate between grades of liquorice, and to levy a duty of 25 per cent, on liquorice invoiced at more that is. per lb., is to introduce a complication, for which I fail to see any justification. I trust that the Committee will resist the attempt to impose a composite duty, because it would be against the interests of the trade. The manufacture of pure liquorice of proper weight is being undertaken by a leading firm here, and deserves support at the hands of the Committee. The Minister has not made a sufficient explanation to enable us to understand properly the attitude of the Government on this item. I think that we are entitled to know’ the reasons which are actuating them. .
– I am asking the Committee to disagree with the Senate’s request to reduce the duty on certain grades of liquorice from 3d. to 2d. per lb. The request to impose a duty of 25 per cent, on liquorice invoiced at more than is. per lb. was agreed to by the Ministers in the Senate, and for fairly good reasons, I believe. I do not feel quite justified in repudiating what they did. on that occasion.
– They went back on what the honorable gentleman did in this House, I understand.
– I beg the honorable member’s pardon. I am not going back’ on any promise that I made.
– In the Senate the honorable member’s colleagues, went back upon him.
– I made no promise. Whenever I was beaten I accepted the decision of the Committee.
– In the case of some items Ministers in the Senate went back upon the honorable gentleman.
– That is my misfortune. I always stick to my friends and colleagues. I must adhere to request No. 11 as it came from the Senate.
Motion agreed to. .
Requested amendment not made.
Item 46. Liquorice, viz. ; - …
Request. - Add the following new paragraph r - “ (d)’ When the invoice value, including- the inside packages, exceeds is. per lb., ad val. 25 per cent.”
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the requested amendment be made.
– I propose to move that the duty be made 3d. per lb., as on confectionery, because I can see no justification for the request of the Senate, especially when the Minister desires to bring liquorice into line with confectionery. Before I submit an. amendment’ for” that purpose, sir, I desire to ascertain whether, when no preferential duty on an item was carried here, or is requested by the Senate, an amendment for the imposition of a .preferential duty, may be proposed.
– It will be quite in order for the Committee to make any modification.
– Including a preferential duty ?
– Yes, if that is desired. .
– We are only dealing at present with the duty in the general Tariff. The Minister says that he wishes to bring liquorice into line with confectionery.
– I said that I wish1 to bring certain grades of liquorice into line1 with confectionery. ‘
-Why should not the honorable gentleman . agree1 to bring all grades of liquorice into line with confectionery? Surely he must know that some grades of confectionery are invoiced at more than is. per lb. ! I really’ cannot understand his objection to a pro’posal which if adopted would be to the advantage of the Department. I’ intend to ask the Committee to make the duty iri the general Tariff 3d. per lb.
– I suggest to the, Treasurer that, it would be convenient1 to the Committee if his amendment were* withdrawn temporarily, in. order to allow the honorable member for North Sydney to submit his proposal. Otherwise, I am afraid that we may get into some confusion.;
– I think, sir, that we can arrive at the same result by voting against the proposal of the Treasurer.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Requested amendment made.
Item 53. Fish, viz. : -
Requests. - Insert after “ smoked “ the word “ or,”’ and after “ dried “ the words “(but not salted).” Make the duty1d.
. - I move -
That the requested amendments be made.
My information is that the amendments are necessary, owing to a confusion in the classification of dried and salted fish, which it was intended should be dutiable under paragraph d at 5s. per cwt. The amend ment will effect that object. The reduction in duty is necessary to bring paragraphs a and c into harmony.
Motion agreed to.
Requested amendments made.
Item 53. Fish, viz. : -
Request. - Leave out “ and smoked or dried.”
– In this case, I propose to ask the Committee to agree to the request of the Senate, with a slight modification, namely, the omission of the words “ except fish preserved in salt or brine.” Since the Tariff was passed by this House it has been found that importers have been importing, in tins or bottles, fish preserved in salt and brine, and have been demanding its admission under paragraph d of this item at 5s. per cwt. The Department has had no option but to admit the goods at that rate. The proposed modification of the Senate’s request will remove all possible doubt as to what was our intention in regard to the duty chargeable upon goods covered by this paragraph. I, therefore, move -
That the requested amendment be made, but that the words “ except fish preserved in salt or brine” be also left out.
– I desire to ask the Treasurer whether the modification of the Senate’s request which he proposes will have the effect of exempting smoked herrings in tins?
– Paragraphs a and c of item 53 must be read in conjunction. The honorable member will then see the position.
– Whilst, in the past, smoked fish have been subjected to a high duty, smoked herrings in tins have also been subjected to the higher rate. I desire to prevent a continuance of that state of things.
Motion agreed to.
Requested amendment, as modified, made.
Item 61. Vegetables, dried, dry-salted, concentrated, compressed, or powdered, herbs dried, not medicinal. ad val., 20 per, cent.
Requests. - Number the paragraph “a”; leave out “ herbs dried not medicinal,” and add the following new paragraph : -
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the requested amendments be made.
.- When going through the various items this afternoon, I understood the Treasurer to say that he agreed with the wording of this item requested by the Senate, but not with the requested duty of 4d. per lb. upon dried herbs.
– Oh, no; I said in regard to request No. 14, item 6ia, “ insertion of comma and deletion of words, and, b, new item and 4d. per lb.”
– This is one of the items to which the Treasurer assented when it was previously under consideration in this Chamber. I then raised the question as to why a duty of 4d. per lb. should be imposed upon dried herbs, seeing that dried vegetables were dutiable only at 20 per cent. A duty of 4d. per lb. upon dried herbs is an enormous one, and I fail to see why we should differentiate between the rate levied upon those herbs and that imposed upon dried vegetables. The Treasurer agreed to make the duty 20 per cent. I have before me the Hansard report of the debate when that proposal was accepted by him. The only difference between dried vegetables and dried herbs is that dried vegetables go direct to the consumer, whilst dried herbs are used by manufacturers. This duty is therefore a tax upon them. Surely if a duty of 20 per cent. on dried vegetables is sufficient, that rate should also be sufficient for dried herbs.
– What manufacturers use dried herbs ?
– They are used largely by butchers in the making of sausages, and by the makers of condiments. How can honorable members excuse a duty of 20 per cent. on dried vegetables if they impose a duty of 4d. per lb. on dried herbs ?
– Vegetables do not shrink nearly so much as herbs do.
– Vegetables shrink more as a matter of fact. Vegetables are usually full of watery matter.
– I know that the shrinkage is very much greater in the case of herbs.
– I think it is not, and I doubt very much if the honorable member has had as much experienceas I havehad.
– To what vegetables does the honorable member refer?
– In the drying of such vegetables as cabbages, carrots, and potatoes, the loss is greater than in drying herbs. Honorable members have received many protests from manufacturers who use dried herbs, and who do not see why they should be called upon to pay 4d. per lb., which in many cases is over 100 per cent., whereas the users of dried vegetables are only charged 20 per cent. I am rather surprised that the Treasurer should speak of not desiring to depart from anything that his colleague has agreed to in another place, whilst he allows his colleague elsewhere to depart from the arrangement made in this House.
– The request was carried by sixteen to twelve.
– But we carried the duty to which we agreed unanimously ; there was no division. When the Treasurer objects to an agreement made by his colleague in another place being departed from, why should he ask this Committee to depart from an agreement made by him here? He is placing another place in a superior position to this Chamber. I ask the Treasurer to accept the 20 per cent. duty.
– I cannot.
– Why not make the duty on dried herbs and dried vegetables in each case 4d. per lb. ?
– The suggestion is worthy of the honorable member. The Treasurer ought to be consistent and agree to the duty of 20 per cent. I think that the two questions involved in the item should be dealt with separately.
– I do not object to that, and will withdraw my motion to enable the request as to the text of the item, and that as to the duty, to be put separately.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the requested amendment leaving out the words “ Herbs dried not medicinal,” be made.
.-I have a distinct recollection of the somewhat protracted debate which took place on this rather small item when the Tariff was last before us. The Treasurer then accepted the suggestion for a 20 per cent. duty. As the honorable member for North Sydney has pointed out, dried herbs are the raw material of various industries. Surely, therefore, it must commend itself to protectionists that the duty should not be as high as that on the finished article. The makers of sauces and chutneys, and butchers who make sausages, have to use dried herbs. It is inconsistent in honorable members to contend for a duty of 4d. per lb. on a raw material whilst they support a duty of 20 per cent. on a finished article. The Treasurerhas given usno reason for accepting the suggestion, and unless the honorable member for New England has some sage reasons to advance I shall not support it.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 9
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Requested amendment made.
Requested amendment in item 61 (Vegetables, &c), adding new paragraph “ b. Herbs dried not medicinal, per lb., 4d.,” made.
Item 67. Hay and Chaff, per cwt.,1s. ; and on and after 31st October, 1907, free.
Request. - Make the duty1s.
.- I wish the Government and the Committee to accept the Senate’s request with a modi fication. I intend to propose the addition of the words “ not to come into force until 31st October, 1908.” That would be practically six months from the present date. My reason for proposing this modification of the Senate’s request is that, in the northern part of Victoria and the southwestern part of New South Wales, stock are dying in thousands consequence of the existence of a drought . In some districts it is impossible fo r stock-owners to obtain fodder for their stock at any price. In other districts, I was informed no later than yesterday, that £8 per ton is being paid for bad chaff, which is purchased by stock-owners to keep their sheep, dairy cattle, and working horses alive. Whilst I am always prepared to protect nativeindustries, I believe I can assume that people in more favoured districts, who have a little surplus of fodder at the present time, have no wish to take advantage of persons in less favoured districts, who are being ruined day after day in consequence of the lack of fodder for their stock.
– The same principle should apply to the duties on oats and maize and other kinds of fodder.
– I shall be prepared to apply the same principle to other kinds of fodder. 1 have not had an opportunity to speak’ to the Treasurer about a modification of the Senate’s request, but the honorable gentleman has already announced that it is the intention of the Government to accept the Senate’s request on this item.
– The Treasurer will have to move a motion for the acceptance of the Senate’s request before the honorable member can submit his proposed modification.
– That is so; butI wish now to indicate that it is my intention to propose the addition of the words; “ not to come into effect until 31st October,. 1908.” By that time I hope that the serious drought to which I refer will have come to an end.
– There may then be a drought somewhere else.
– It is improbable that there can be a drought anywhere else within the time referred to. In the coastal districts the grass is now growing.
– The honorable member’s proposal might relieve the people in whom he is interested, but what about the people in other districts ?
– The fact that in the coastal districts there is sufficient grass growing to keep cattle alive will be no relief to stock-owners in the Riverina and in the northern portion of Victoria. It is well known that it has been found impossible to transfer stock from the Riverina to the coastal districts because of the shortage of trucks in New South Wales, and the fact that those which might be availed of are engaged six weeks ahead.
– Why should we impose a duty on hay and chaff at all if it is only operative at a time of practical famine in some parts of the Commonwealth ?
– I might remind the honorable member that the duty acted as a protective duty in- the interests of Australian producers at a time when there was no drought in the Commonwealth.
– To what occasion does the honorable member refer?
– I refer to a time when maize was imported to Sydney from New Caledonia.
– Maize does not come under this item.
-I have already dealt with that in reply to the right honorable member for Swan, and I have said that I am prepared to take similar action with respect to the duties imposed on maize, oafs, or other kinds of fodder for stock.
– Only a month or two ago the honorable member voted against what he now proposes.
– No, the honorable member is absolutely wrong. I am doing now exactly what I did before in trying to convince the Committee of the serious nature of. the drought.
– We intend to support the honorable member.
– That being so, I shall not say another word.
– I suggest that the Treasurer might agree now to report progress. I look upon this as one of the most important items in. the Tariff. The proposals made in connexion with it will require careful consideration, and we have already done a good night’s work.
-I have no objection. I wish to see what would be the effect of the proposed modification suggested by the honorable, member for Riv- erina. Perhaps I may be prepared to agree to it to-morrow.
House adjourned at 10.19p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 22 April 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1908/19080422_reps_3_45/>.