3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair . at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
.- This morning’s cablegrams inform us of the decease of the distinguished man who, but a few days since, was Prime Minister of Great Britain. On his career, involved as it was with the. party politics of the Mother Country, there is no need to dwell ; his high character, . his genial disposition, his staunch sincerity were patent to all observers. This Commonwealth owes him a distinct debt, because, when the Constitution Billwas before the House of Commons, we had the advantage of his earnest support at every stage of the consideration of the measure. He, and several of those . who are now members of the Ministry which he so lately led, were ardent in their desire to further the growth of selfgovernment in Australia. ‘Again, last year, when there was considerable doubt as to the course which should be followed, he recognised the importance of the gathering of the representatives of the selfgoverning Dominions of the Empire, by attending the Conference in person and welcoming them in an opening speech which breathed the broadest statesmanship.Under these circumstances,I trust the House will forgive the fulfilment of what appears to me an obligation to the memory of a great man.
– The Prime Minister did well to note the passing of the late Prime Minister of Great Britain. The death of a great Britisher -must always be a matter of concern to us, and the late Sir Henry CampbellBannerman was the embodiment . of the characteristics which make up a great Britisher. I cannot think of him without at the same time thinking’ of another great Englishman who, too, has lately passed over to the majority. I. refer to the late Duke of Devonshire. Both loved their country intensely, both served it faithfully and. well for nearly forty years. We must remember that these men were born to high station, and possessed all that goes to make life easy and pleasant ; but, in spite of these advantages and temptations, they devoted their best abilities to the service of their country, and served the Empire with a- rare devotion and a high sense of duty. There have been many men, perhaps/ more brilliant than the late Prime Minister; but he was a much bigger man than we were apt to think. When one read his speeches, one realized how sane, how wise, and how broad were his views,- and saw how much grit*, courage, and honour he possessed. He must be regarded as one of those who are very much greater than is disclosed by a superficial glance Many men have been able to appeal more strongly to the imagination of their countrymen ; but, in our time, &.nd within our knowledge, no man has so firmly implanted himself in the hearts- and affections of “his fellows, more particularly within the last two or three years. The nation loved him, and did so because it came to see that he loved the people. So long as our Empire is as fruitful as it has been in the production of men such as the late Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, we need not doubt our ability to maintain our pride of place among the nations of the world.
.- The passing of public men, especially of recent days, seems to indicate that the wear and tear of public life in modern times is more severe than it was in the past. Any one who had personal acquaintance with the late Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman will cheerfully admit that he was a man of broader view, greater mind, and keener susceptibility to the wants of his own people, and possessed of a wider knowledge of the development of civil government in foreign countries, than perhaps any other PrimeMinister, of recent date, except the late Right Honorable W. E. Gladstone. I had the pleasure of meeting him, and’ hearing him speak, and what impressed me more than anything else was his broad, general, human sympathy, and his desire, not only that the Government of his own country should be “broad based’ upon the people’s will,.”, but that other countries should possess as liberal political institutions as they were ‘able to conduct with advantage to themselves. The Prime Minister has mentioned what the right honorable gentleman did for this Commonwealth. May I be- permitted to allude to what he did for the sister colonies of the Transvaal and Orange River? I am almost tempted to name, too, a foreign country in regard to which .he said that, although its young Parliament might be dead, another would arise and establish itself on its ashes. A great man has passed ; one who, perhaps, will, in the future, appear greater than he seems now. He was one of those statesmen who had the people’s benefit at heart, and his broad sympathies linked together the members of a party in the great Government which, under the lead of his successor now controls the destinies of the Empire.
– I understand that a number of copies of a publication called Australia To-day were procured by the Government for advertising purposes. I desire to ask the Prime Minister- whether any other publications of an Australian character were procured, and, if so, whether he can, from memory, inform the House what they were ?
– I do not remember any other publication of exactly the same class. There was also a handbook of Australia, which is a statistical compilation, giving figures relating to the commerce, trade, production., population, and so forth, for the whole of Australia. Beyond that, I do not recollect any other such, publication.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether he has seen the report of an interview with Lord Tweedmouth in the Sydney Morning Herald of a day or’ two ago in which, that statesman positively affirms “that there is no desire on the part of the Imperial naval authorities to terminate the Naval Agreement, and no present intention of doing so. . Will the Prime Minister reconsider whether he can lay on the table of the House the correspondence with the naval authorities containing the discussion left unfinished in his December speech?
– I have hot had the pleasure of reading the interview referred to, but shall take an opportunity of reading it. I have received, within the last two> or three days, a cabled reply saying that the explicit information for which I asked, further defining the position of the Admiralty, will be prepared and forwarded very shortly. Until that information arrives the correspondence is incomplete.
– Some time ago we were told by the Attorney-General that he had in contemplation action under the Australian Industries Preservation Act in regard to five or six alleged Australian trusts, and for that purpose he asked for an amending Bill. When that Bill was passing, the Attorney-General intimated that he proposed to take speedy action to bring some of those trusts to book.- That is now some weeks ago, and I should like to know what has been done in the meantime.
– I think the honorable member for Parramatta alleges that I made a statement a little more definite than that I did make. What I said was that we had caused certain) inquiries to be made, and that I had in my possession reports in reference to a number of trusts, showing that it was absolutely necessary for the Government to have larger powers than we possessed. I might add that, as a matter of fact, the doings of one of the trusts are at present under consideration, and the Crown Solicitor has the matter in hand. Beyond that, it is not wise for me to make any announcement.
– Having regard to the close relationship of the taking over of the Northern Territory with the ‘ policy of immigration and the policy of defence, already foreshadowed by the Government, will the Prime Minister give the House an indication of when the “question of the Territory and the agreement with South Australia will be dealt. with bv the House?
– As soon as current business permits.
– I desire - to ask the Prime Minister whether it is possible for him to carry out the intention he expressed some time ago of placing on the table the scheme for the financial arrangements between the Commonwealth and the States. If I understood the honorable gentleman aright, he said that the scheme would be placed on the table before the meeting of the Premiers.
– That a statement would be made.
– No; I understood that the scheme would be placed on the table. As the Premiers meet on the 28th instant, I should like to know whether the Prime Minister will be able to fulfil his intention, or, if not, when he intends to place the scheme before the House?
– A recent interruption of the business of the House has required the concentration of the attention of my colleague’ the Treasure? on fiscal matters to the exclusion of the financial scheme, which is already well advanced. I am not quite sure now whether, under the circumstances, we shall be able to place it on the table as early as anticipated. But the scheme is at that stage when, I think, I may say an outline of it will be placed on the table very shortly.
– When the scheme is placed on the table, will the House be invited to consider it ?
– I doubt whether there will be time for that, until it has been considered elsewhere. The scheme will be extensive, and involve directly and indirectly, a number of matters; and it would probably be an advantage to the House, and save time, if, when we proceed to consider it, we have before us the criticism of the State Ministries. I have in view the fact that we are pressed for time ; it might be otherwise if time were unlimited.
– There will not be much advantage in placing the scheme on the table, if we are not to consider it.
– I desire to ask the Treasurer why there has been delay in printing the paper dealing with the relations referred to which has been submitted to him by the honorable member for Darwin ?
– That paper will be circulated to-morrow morning.
– I desire to ask the Postmaster-General whether the Government have any serious intention of proceeding with the Postal Rates Bill this session ?
– When the state of public business permits.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow -
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Will he also explain why the Customs Department found it necessary on the 12th March, 1908, to issue a regulation under the Excise Act 1901, of which the following are the material portions : -
Provided that as to sugar used in. the manufacture of the following articles drawback may be allowed on the exportation of the articles, but so that no allowance shall be made for sugar contents in excess of the following proportions to the total weight of the articles : -
If drawback is paid on Excise sugar sent abroad for consumption will not the results of such payment be -
Referring to his reply that the Constitution Act provides “ authority for the payment of bounty “ -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow -
asked the. PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
The insulators supplied’ by the farmers are of a class which has been condemned by the Department as far back as1901. Where the private wire is on Departmental poles proper insulators and fittings should be used.
In Committee (Consideration of Senate’s requests resumed from 22nd April, vide page 10522):
Item 67. Hay and Chaff, per cwt., is. ; and on and after 31st October, 1907, free.
Request. - Make the duty is.
– The honorable member for Riverina announced last night his intention to move that the duty should not take effect until aftersix months’ time. I have thought the matter over, and see no great harm in accepting that proposal. I asked the officers this morning to prepare a motion, and they have suggested the following words: - “On and after 1st November, 1908, per cwt, is.” If the honorable memberfor Riverina desires to move that I am quite agreeable to accept’ it.
– If that is carried, can the Government, at any time, suspend the duty in case of necessity, or will it have to be done by resolution of the House?
– Parliament can authorize the Government to do anything.
– Will the Treasurer explain the effect of the proposal?
– It is to bring the duty into operation in six months’ time.
– Not until the Riverina is free from drought.
– I move-
That the requested amendment be made
Amendment (by Mr. Chanter) proposed -
That the modification but that the words on and after1st November, 1908,’ be added” be added.
– Is riot that amendment in contradiction of the motion agreed to yesterday, to the effect that these duties are to come into operation on the day after they are agreed to by this Committee?
– On the point of order, it has always been, and I am sure will be, held that it is quite competent for this House to accept a request of the Senate with modifications.
– The amendment is in order. Although the Committee carried a certain resolution yesterday it is quite within the rights of the Committee to specialize any particular item and deal with it as they desire.
.- When this item was before us previously I took up exactly the same position as I am taking up now. The Committee then resolved to make these articles free of duty. The Senate has requested us to impose a duty ofis. per cwt., or 20s. per ton. Of course, as a protectionist, I should be found voting at all times for protective duties. But there are circumstances which alter cases, and those circumstances have arisen now. They existed when I spoke before and I am sorry to say have not yet passed away.
– They will always be present somewhere.
– I hope not.
– Where are they present now ? In the Riverina ?
– They are present in thewhole ofsouthern and south-west Riverina, and of the northern- portions of Victoria, in the severest possible form. Pre viously there was a possibility of getting fodder from Victoria, which then had an abundance, that could be landed in those remote parts at a reasonable price, but now Victoria is not able to supply it. There is no other State, not even South Australia, in a position to export it.
– Where will the people of Riverina import it from, even if it is made free of duty ?
– It can be imported from New Zealand.
– Not this year. It is as dear there as it is here.
– If that is so, what harm can there be in accepting my amendment ?
– What about the maintenance of the principle ?
– I have already dealt with that. Does the honorable member say that I should be a slave to principle?
– No one accuses the honorable member of being that.
– I do not know what has caused all the hilarity. The’ honorable member who interjects has not stuck as close to principle as I have during my political career. Even my opponents will admit that I have been consistent. Some honorable members said there was plenty of grass in other States, but they know that that grass cannot be imported to Riverina. What is wanted is fodder in the shape of hay or some such commodity to keep stock alive. The drought period has, unfortunately, been protracted. My reason for asking for a suspension of the duty for six months is that I hope, and believe, that before that period expires the unfortunate settlers, large and small, in the parts I have mentioned will have grass with which to feed their stock, and will no longer be compelled to buy fodder at present rates. Will honorable members say that circumstances do not alter the case, and also the application of principle, when, ordinarily, good fodder can be bought for £2 10s. and £3 a ton, whereasnow those unfortunate land-owners are compelled to pay a ton for what is real rubbish? It amounts to positive cruelty.
– I suppose the honorable member will support the suspension of the duty when there are droughts in other parts of Australia?
– Of course I will. Have I ever refused to do so? On a previous occasion, when a suspension of duty was asked for, it could not be brought about without the consent of all the other States. But. in this case it is simply a question of our determining when- a proposed duty should come into force. I am not speaking without knowledge in this matter, nor am I pleading only for my own constituents. I speak on behalf of a very large area of the Commonwealth, and of people who, while they, perhaps, have a little fodder to sell, are not .so inhuman as to desire the present oppressively high prices to continue.
– If the drought should continue beyond the period which the honorable member,- has named in his amendment, will he be in favour of a further suspension of the duty?
– I am sorry to say that if the drought should continue beyond that period there can be no relief to the unfortunate stock-owners, because there will be no stock to feed then.
– What about the next drought ?
– “ Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof,” and the evil of which I am complaining is more than sufficient.
– And sufficient unto the day is the honorable member’s parish pump thereof.
– I do not know why the honorable gentleman should make that remark; I do not think that he has any cause to do so.
– What else could I say ?
– I am speaking, I repeat, on behalf of dozens of electorates in Victoria and New South Wales, and with the knowledge that even if fodder could be obtained in New South Wales, it would be impossible to get a truck, even though ordered six weeks ahead, to convey stock or fodder. In the meantime, the prosperity of the Commonwealth is being imperilled, because the loss of stock affects not merely individuals, but is national in its character.
– I do not know that if the duty were suspended, it would cheapen the price of fodder.
– I believe that it would. On a previous occasion, what happened ?
– Then the honorable member said that a suspension of the duty for six months would be sufficient, but now he’ is pleading for a further suspension of six months.
– The honorable member is in a fortunate position at the present moment. Had I submitted this proposal two or three months ago, he would have been found standing by my side, and supporting me.
– I am. with the honorable member altogether.
– But because Providence has sent rain to the district which he represents, and grass has grown there to feed the stock, he is utterly careless about other stock.
– I want the duty taken off. I only wished to point out that on a previous occasion the honorable member made a mistake.
– There is no parish pump business about me at any time. From the very beginning, I have taken up exactly the same position in regard to this dutv.
– Why not go a little farther, and make the item tree ?
– The honorable gentleman would like me to go still farther, and make everything free, thereby destroying the whole of the industries of the Commonwealth. But I am not prepared to follow him that far. I am willing to go partly in the direction in which he wishes to go, but not for all time. I ask him to assist me in obtaining a suspension of the duty for six months.
– If a six months’ suspension is a good thing, surely a twelve months’ suspension would be better?
– That is begging the question, and opening up the whole fiscal controversy.
– The honorable member was wrong, before, and the chance is that he is wrong now.
– In my opinion, I was not wrong then, nor am I now. I am only departing from a principle in consequence of a very grave necessity which has arisen. I appeal to the Committee to accept the Senate’s request with the modification I have proposed.
.- The honorable member for Riverina repudiates the suggestion that he is a parochialist. The plea that he puts forward is that certain parts of New South Wales and Victoria, particularly the electorate which he represents in the former State, are suffering from a drought, and the stock-owners need cheap fodder, but he hopes that in the course of six months the drought will have passed away. He seems to forget that there may be a drought in some other part of New South Wales, or’ other parts of the Commonwealth, when there is no drought in Riverina. He was correct in stating that three or four months ago there was a very severe drought in the district I represent. Six months ago, I supported, if I did not move a proposal, that fodder should be made free. I hold exactly the same view to-day, for reasons which I do not wish to repeat. This duty can only be operative when there is a drought somewhere, and then persons in other parts of the Commonwealth are able to suck a little more blood out of their poorer neighbours when it can be least spared. In October last, the honorable member for Riverina pleaded for a suspension of the duty for six months. He told us then that he did not want a suspension of the duty for twelve months, because he felt quite sure that the shorter suspension would be sufficient.
– I said that I hoped it would be.
– What I tried to point out to the honorable member just now, by way of interjection, was that he was wrong when he first asked for a suspension. On a former occasion, he should have asked for a suspension of the duty .for twelve months, not for six months. Whether he is right or wrong in his estimate of the out- look in his constituency, I point out that this duty can only operate at a time when it must press hardly upon stock-owners suffering from drought. That very fact alone should impel us to remove the duty. I. intend again to vote for its abolition. Although a large portion of the electorate I represent must profit by the good crops which the rain has brought them, still in the time of their prosperity the farmers there should think of the hardship which ‘ is being experienced in other parts of the Commonwealth.
– When the Government proposed the imposition of this duty, there was a drought prevailing over part of New South Wales, parts of Queensland, and, . I think, the northern parts of Victoria, and in a moment of panic - prompted by the fear that the drought’ might last for a considerable time, and that the price of fodder would become prohibitive - a majority of honorable members who previously had spoken in favour of a duty on fodder, decided to remit it. It seems to me that every argument which the honorable member for Riverina’ advanced in favour of postponing the operation of the duty for six months applies with equal force against its imposition at all. He complains that the price of fodder is high. That means that there is a shortage.
– It means that there is a ring controlling the price.
– That point is not touched by the honorable member’s proposal.
– There is always a drought in some part of a country which is as big as Europe.
– Yes, there will always be a drought somewhere in Australia, and, of course, this duty can only be operative when the price of fodder is high locally, that is, when there is a shortage. In other words, the duty can be operative only when a drought obtains in some portion of the Commonwealth. To suspend the duty because there is a drought in Riverina would be ridiculous, seeing that next year there may be a drought in Tasmania.
– Oh, no.
– It may not be quite upon the cards, bub there is always the possibility of a drought, even in Tasmania. The honorable member for Riverina has declared that fodder is not obtainable at the present time.
– Where it is most urgently required.
– As a matter ot fact, in South Australia there is an abundance of fodder available for export.
– At what price?
– At the market price. In South Australia, the export price of hav ranges from, £3 15s. to £4 per ton,, and that of chaff is about £5 per ton. These prices have not varied since the last harvest. It is absurd for us to attempt to legislate to meet local conditions in any particular portion of the Commonwealth. Next year a drought may afflict South Australia, and,- in .that case, fodder would probably have to be imported from Victoria or from the Riverina. The Riverina farmers would then obtain an advantage which other farmers are enjoying to-day. To my mind, it is perfectly fair to levy a duty upon fodder, and it would be absurd to remit it upon the only occasion when it can possibly be operative. If we are going to adopt a policy of protection, we certainly- ought to protect the primary producers.
– Who competes with them ?
– California, the Argentine, and sometimes New Zealand.
– Those countries have competed with us, but not to any great extent.
-The honorable member’s remark is applicable to this year, because, at the present time, fodder commands a fairly’ good price everywhere. There has been an almost universal shortage, which has had the effect of maintain1ing prices. If we- are going, to adopt the policy of protection, is there any reason why we should depart from., the principle underlying it? The farmer may hav.e to pay a high price for fodder at the present time, but we know .that occasionally the manufacturer has to pay a high price for the commodities that he uses. I repeat that if we intend to adopt a protective policy i it ought to apply all round. The proposal of the honorable member is so manifestly illogical that I do not think it necessary to discuss it at any further length.
– I see no reason why this duty should not. be levied upon hay and chaff in the same way that duties are levied upon all other like products. As a matter of fact, very little hay and chaff has been imported into the Commonwealth since 1902, when only £10,000 worth was imported. In 1903, the value of the hay and chaff imported was, approximately, .£3,400; in 1904, it was £168; in 1905, £135; in 1.906, £117; in 1907, £100; and in January of the present year, the quantify imported was only about 15 cwt. ‘
– But there was no duty charged upon it.
– That is so. Still, I think that we ought to be consistent, and that we should impose a duty upon hay and chaff, just ‘ the same as we impose a duty upon, similar products which are imported in large quantities. For instance, barley has been imported in large quantities each year, though in a lesser quantity since 1903 than was previously the <:ase.
– What will, be the effect of a duty if we do npt import hay and chaff?
– As I have already said”,, practically no hay or chaff is imported at present, but I do not -see why we should admit free of duty those commodities, seeing that bran, pollard, flour, oats, maize, and other similar articles are dutiable. In 1903 nearly £2,000,000 worth of wheat were imported, upon which duty was charged. I intend to vote for the proposed- duty, because I fail to see why we should treat hay and chaff differently from other similar products.1
– - Taking up the parable where the right honorable member for Swan has left it, I would remind him that in 1903 about £500,000 was paid in duty upon maize and other cereals which were imported for the purpose of feeding starving stock.
– That amount was paid upon fodder generally.
– When the right honorable member declares that £3,000 was paid in duty upon hay and chaff in 1903, his statement is somewhat misleading, unless this fact is taken into consideration.
– There was a lot of seed wheat imported in that year as well. The millers had to import wheat.
– It is perfectly safe to say that during that year £500,000 was paid in duty upon fodder with which to feed starving stock. As the honorable member for Boothby has pointed out, there is scarcely a period when some portion of this continent is not afflicted with drought. I was very much amused “ to hear the dialogue, which took place this afternoon between the honorable member for the Riverina, and the honorable member for Wimmera upon the subject of fiscal principle.
– I am ‘pleased that it caused the honorable member to be merry.
– I am very glad that the honorable member furnished us with cause for a. little merriment. He does not appear to be very merry himself over the consideration of this matter. I should like, therefore, to at once relieve his feelings by telling him that I- propose to vote with him. I shall vote with him to obtain a six months’ suspension of the duty if I cannot get ‘more, and I shall support its perpetual suspension if I can secure it. The honorable member, for Riverina has furnished the best of all reasons why we should not impose these protective duties on fodder. He has told us that he wants a suspension of the duties in the hope that when six months have ‘elapsed, there will be food for man and beast in his electorate, and the adjoining districts.
– Does not the honorable member share in that hope?
– I do, most earnestly and heartily. But by the time the honorable member’s electorate is in a position of plenty, there may be a drought ‘in some other portion of the continent. His position is that as long “as Riverina obtains a suspension of these duties, “it does not matter a button about Queensland and other parts of New South Wales, which may be unfortunately circumstanced at any future time.
– That is not fair. Nothing that I said warrants that inference.
– I do not see how I can draw any other inference. The honorable member proposes that these duties shall be operative at the end of six months. But while in that time the honorable member’s electorate may be in a favorable condition, some other district may be suffering. If he claims exemption for his struggling farmers during a .time of what he terms national calamity, why should he not consider the calamities of other people who, at some other, time, may be circumstanced as his constituents are now?
– When such circumstances arise, the honorable member will find me supporting similar action.
– But the duties will be on then, and there will be no opportunity of considering them. Some years ago,- when the Opposition tried to secure a suspension of fodder duties,, the honorable member was one of the most determined opponents of anything of the kind being done.
– The honorable member is absolutely wrong, as the records show.
– I apologize if I. am wrong, but I know that honorable members opposite generally were very fierce in their denunciation of any such proposal.
– I pleaded at that time on the same side as I am pleading to-day.
– For a suspension of the duties?
– I am pleased to hear it. But I recollect the fierce encounters that I had with the then member for Moira, Mr. Kennedy, and he was such a bosom companion in fiscal matters of the honorable member for Riverina that I con cluded that both must have been oh the same side. But the- proposal of the honorable member to-day is of the parochial or parish pump order. I cannot subscribe to it on that account. There is no federalism in it. -There is nothing but consideration ici the honorable member.’ s own immediate neighbourhood, and an absolute callousness . concerning other portions of the continent which may be equally afflicted when at the end of six months these duties come into operation.
– The honorable member charges me with parochialism, but what about his own attitude regarding the Federal Capital Site?
– I do not know that I can be charged with parochialism in asking the honorable member to carry out what is written in the Constitution. But surely we can discuss this question of starving stock without bringing in the Capital Site.
– The honorable member knows the scriptural injunction about the beam and the mote.
– I should like to remind the honorable member, whose district- is suffering so severely from drought, that he can get as much fodder as he wants in the northern parts of New South Wales. On the Richmond River, they, will give him as much as he likes to take away. The trouble is that there are not sufficient trucks .to be got just -now. There seems to be a dearth of railway trucks; and there are many local circumstances attending a period of drought which always Operate to make the difficulties of settlers even greater than they would otherwise, be. Therefore, it is all the more necessary that we. should not impose duties which would inflict upon them a heavier burden.- I should like to hear from the honorable member for Wimmera what the principle of fodder duties consists in.
– Do not, let us get into general principles at this .time.
– But the honorable member for Wimmera is a stickler for fiscal principle, and states that the proposal of the honorable member for Riverina is a departure from principle. I should like to have from him an application of fiscal principle to the growth of fodder. Will he tell us how a duty on hay and chaff will do any of the things which are usually associated in the minds of protectionists with protection to native industries?
– Protection gives the farmer a greater sense of security.
– Does-* it increase his crop, or find him a better market for his produce?
– Protection stimulates his energies.
– It does none of these things, and it cannot. It cannot prevent dumping. If we put a duty of £i per ton on fodder, the farmer who wants it must pay that duty. The duty will not keep fodder out of the country, except to a limited extent. The effect will simply be to put up. the price to those who must buy. That is all the fiscal principle that I can find in this proposal. My honorable friend, the member for Wimmera, in his loyalty to fiscal principle, wants to enable one set of farmers to make extra profits out of the needs of others in a time of calamity. He wants to set our farmers on a cannibalistic attack on each other.
– Not at all; he wants to teach our farmers to produce the stuff which they ought to produce.
– Then these duties are to have an educational value? They are to take ‘ the place of agricultural colleges, I suppose? After all that we have done for our agricultural societies and colleges, and for agricultural education, I learn for the first time that amongst the instruments of agricultural education must be numbered a protective Tariff on fodder. We are to live and learn, but I venture to say that the farmer whose stock is dying will not appreciate tha.t argument. He . will appreciate much more our placing at his disposal every facility we can grant him to supply his needs, to keep alive his stock, and to tide him over those great difficulties which seem so often to be threatening him. I shall vote with the honorable member for Riverina, because I fear that if we do not join with him we shall not have a respite of even six months from these duties. I want something more than that, however, and if the honorable member succeeds in carrying his amendment, I shall .vote against the motion, as amended, in the hope that we shall do as we did on the previous occasion when this item was under consideration. I trust that honorable members are not going to run away from the votes which ‘ they then gave. I see no reason why we should reverse the vote cast on a former occasion. I hope that honorable members will steadily adhere to a policy which is in the interests of the primary producers of Australia, and which affords them a measure of relief when they are havily stricken by drought.
.- I agree with the honorable member for Riverina that his electorate is in a deplorable condition, and sincerely sympathize with the farmers and graziers there. I travelled through part of his electorate a few days ago, and saw that it was in a very bad state; but I should not like to say that all Australia is suffering from drought, and that we have to go beyond the Commonwealth to obtain fodder for our stock. In the southern part of South Australia we are enjoying one of the best seasons we have experienced there; whilst throughout the northern part of that State the season has “been an exceedingly good one. Men from the north are visiting the southern districts to purchase cattle for their runs. Had they known that starring stock was so plentiful in the Riverina, I am sure that some of them would have gone there for their supplies instead of to Mount Gambier and other’ districts in the. south-east of South Australia. I was informed by my brother, whom I met in Sydney a few days ago, that in his district - between Mungindi and St. George - the grass is over the tops of the wire fences, so that there, too, the season has been a good one: What we need is a ready means of conveying fodder from one part of the Commonwealth to another. It would rot pay to feed ordinary stock for any length of time on hay and chaff; only very valuable stock can’ be fed in that way. I am sorry that the Riverina should be stricken by drought, but the. farmers and graziers there can readily obtain hay and chaff in South Australia at a very cheap rate.
– The honorable member for Boothby said that the price of chaff there was £5 per ton.
– I think that it is less than that. When I left home a fortnight ago, chaff, delivered without bags, was offering at £3 10s. per ton. We have an abundant supply of fodder; all that we need is adequate means of conveying it: at cheap rates to the drought-stricken districts, or of taking the stock to . the districts where food is obtainable at reasonable rates. In the olden days when we had> so to speak, a free country, stock could be easily shifted by road from one district to another, but nowadays we need to push our railways into the drought-stricken districts in order to enable us to combat the evils of dry seasons. Fortunately, a very small portion of Australia is at present affected by drought, and I hope that we shall never have a repetition of. the drought of 1902. I agree with the honorable member for Corangamite that our farmers and graziers should make better preparation for dry seasons. I certainly thought that the drought of 1902 would teach them to make provision- for the maintenance of their stock in bad times. In my electorate, we have never had a drought, and I do not think that we shall ever have one. The more severe the drought in other parts of Australia, the more bountiful is the supply of fodder in the electorate of Barker. There one may see stacks of hay which have been kept for two or three years as a provision against drought, but, fortunately, we have not yet experienced one.
.- It seems to me that to specially exempt hay and chaff when we are passing a. generally protective Tariff is to give Australia a very undesirable advertisement. The principle that we have in view in passing a generally protective Tariff is that we should encourage industries and productions for which the Commonwealth is suited, and in respect of all such industries we impose stimulating duties. The special exemption of hay and chaff would be a declaration to the rest of the world that Australia was unable, in our opinion, to produce sufficient fodder for her own requirements. In other words, it would seem to indicate that the great primary industries upon which we pride ourselves, and for which Australia is held to be peculiarly suited are, in our opinion, so liable to periodic interruption that we are not prepared to extend to them the same measure of encouragement that we grant to other industries. That would be one of the worst possible advertisements that we could give Australia.
– Surely protective duties are imposed to assist budding industries?
– The honorable member has not yet studied protection.
– I have studied the honorable member’s speeches.
– The honorable member, in making that statement, is exercising his capacity for bluff, which, after all, is of not much value, since his bluffing is only superficial. I have said nothing that would warrant the honorable member’s assertion ; I have said repeatedly that, even when an industry is well established, it may still be necessary to impose protective duties in relation to it, in order to prevent the dumping from abroad of products which are likely to undermine the local production. As long as .prices locally are not unduly inflated against the consumer, protective duties in such circumstances should be maintained. If those who oppose a protective duty on fodder are anxious to help the farmers, they should direct their energies to an effort to break ( up the rings that now control- the supply and distribution of fodder. That is the crux of the question. Australia can produce, and at the present- time holds, more than the fodder necessary for the starving stock within her borders. As to the suggestion made by ‘the honorable member for Wimmera respecting the educational effects of the last drought, one might reasonably have expected it to have a fair measure of influence upon our farmers. In my old electorate of Bland, which comprised a part of the Riverina, many farmers who suffered heavily during the last drought have learned a lesson from it, and. have conserved both natural and specially-grown fodder in ensilage pits, tub silos, and ordinary stacks. These men have not suffered in the slightest degree from the drought. In the case of one big pastoral property those in charge gathered together fodder, of various descriptions ‘ to such an extent as to insure the management against any loss from drought. My strong conviction is that there is not one beast that need go without fodder because of any scarcity in the supply to be obtained in Australia. It is only a matter of making proper provision for seasons of drought and of our farmers and settlers generally being educated to take advantage of the opportunities Providence has placed at their disposal, and, what is, perhaps, quite as important,- -of insuring that when a time of stress and scarcity arises a few people shall not be able to corner the market. That is what, at the present time, as well as during the last big drought, constituted the principal trouble from which ‘those who had to provide for starving stock had to suffer. It was not that supplies were not available from farms in Tasmania or South Australia at reasonable prices, but that middlemen were, with the assistance of the shipping- ring, able to control the whole situation and prevent the farmer or squatter who had starving stock to keep alive from getting access to what should be their natural opportunities for relief. I ‘have been asked what steps I would take to deal with the matter. The first step to be taken should be to’ nationalize the coastal shipping service of Australia. We should nationalize the steam-ships engaged in our coastal trade, just as we have nationalized our railways, and in that way we should be able to transfer fodder cheaply from one part of the country to another.
– Nationalization is the sovereign balm for ‘all our wounds.
– I do not know that that view should necessarily prejudice eventhe most ignorant from attempting to inquire into . the best means to overcome the difficulty.
– Would’.that pre-, vent the operations of the fodder ring?
– It would have a material influence in that direction. The hon:orable member for Parramatta is aware that at the present time the shipping, ring and coal proprietors of Newcastle are working under an agreement by which only certain parties are supplied, and only at certain rates.
– I ask the honorable member not to enlarge upon that question, as to do so would open up quite another debate.
– I do not intend to enlarge upon it, but it seems to me that a discussion of methods by which a scarcity of fodder in various parts of Australia might be prevented is quite germane to a proposal to impose a duty of is. ‘ a cwt. on hay and chaff. «I agree with the honorable member for Barker that the difficulties under which our settlers labour in various parts of the Commonwealth during times of drought could, perhaps, best be met by improving and increasing facilities for the cheap transport of fodder. Of course, in addition, we should require to have farmers’ co-operative associations to insure. that fodder from any district might be purchased without the intervention of too many middlemen, or- of rings that, getting control of supplies, put up prices unduly.
– In fact, when we come to think of it, we shall have none of these difficulties when ‘the millennium arrives.
– The honorable member has only lately arrived at the conclusion that the development of co-operative corporations constitutes the millennium.
– The’ honorable member has been sketching a programme for the next twenty-five years, to give immediate relief to settlers who have starving stock on their hands.
– I do not think so. Is the honorable member for Parramatta not aware that our farmers have already established a number of co-operative institutions, which are doing a very great deal of good ? I should imagine that the extension of their operations to the purchase and distribution of fodder need be but. a very small step’ in advance. The nationalization of our coastal shipping might be a year or two ahead, but it should not be very many years distant. I dare say that even the honorable member for Parramatta has no objection to help on the millennium. With regard to the special exemption proposed by the honorable member for. Riverina, I do not think that the suspension of this duty for six months would have any real effect in the direction the honorable member anticipates, because the only place from which fodder might be imported at the present time is the Argentine. Fodder is as dear in New Zealand as in Australia just now,, and we cannot, therefore, expect to get any from that Dominion. Whatever supplies we are to get must be obtained ‘Within the Commonwealth, and they might be obtained much more cheaply than they can be obtained at present if better methods of distribution were devised.
– It seems to me that whatever view we may take of the general question, the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Riverina is absolutely without any logical foundation whatever. Every reason which can be urged in favour of it is a reason in’ favour of not imposing such a duty at any time. We all deplore the fact that there is a drought prevailing in the honorable member’s ‘ constituency, and in other parts of Australia similarly situated, but those who support this duty in the interests of the farmers must remember that that very fact affords them an opportunity to avail themselves of the benefit of the duty. Why should we deprive the farmers of the benefit of the duty at the only time at which they can avail themselves of it? For my own part, I am absolutely opposed to the proposed duty. There is one aspect of the question which has not been touched upon by any honorable member I have yet heard speak upon the subject. It must be remembered that every duty we impose upon an article produced by farmers must be considered from a totally new point of view, in the light of the policy of the new protection adopted by the Government, and which the Prime Minister has stated that he intends to give full effect to. Every farmer, or nearly every farmer, in Australia at some time produces more or less hay and chaff,and, therefore, if the duty, be carried, it may be assumed that it will bring every farmer throughout the length and breadth of Australia within the operation of the drastic provisions proposed by the Government in respect to the new protection.
– That is done already by the duty imposed on oats.
– And by the duty on wheat.
– Not necessarily so. If a. duty is imposed on hay and chaff, one of the effects under the new policy of the Government, apart from the regulation of wages and working time, must be that the price at which farmers, will be allowed to dispose of their hay and chaff will be regulated by an Act of Parliament or by some body appointed under an Act of Parliament. This particular duty can become effective only at a time when people engaged in the most important industry in Australia are in dire distress and in absolute straits in their endeavours to keep starving slock alive, and if there be any possible time at which it would be justifiable to impose a restriction upon the price of any produce protected under the Tariff, surely that would be the time.
– Not unless there is a combination.
– What? Does the Treasurer say that it is not a part of the policy of the new protection at a time of stress and struggle for many of our settlers to prevent a protected manufacturer from availing himself of the absolute distress of those whom he supplies?
– I do not say anything of the kind, and the honorable member knows that very well.
– Does the honorable gentleman say that the principle of the new protection should not be brought into effect at such a time-
– I never heard such an attempt at argument.
– In order to prevent a protective policy being availed of to demand extortionate prices from those in distress?
– That is quitea different thing.
– I ask the Treasurer to say whether that is not a time at which- the principle of the new protection should be applied.
– If extortion is attempted the duty can be abolished.
– The honorable gentleman will at once admit that this is a duty which cannot be operative except at a time when the people who require to purchase the article made dutiable require it to keep starving stock alive. Every one admits that it is. only at such a time that this duty would be operative at all.
– I do not admit it, and I can prove the contrary.
– Whether it is admitted by every one. or not, I venture to say that it is a fact.: that that is the only time at which the duty would be operative.
– This. is. a speech made to try to frighten the farmers.
– I am quite prepared to accept that position.
– It is not a correct one either.
– If the Treasurer is prepared to say that his Government is going to throw over the whole system of new protection, I shall sit down.
– I am not prepared to say anything so foolish.
– Then if effect is to be given to the principle, it must be done by limiting the prices which in times of scarcity may be charged by farmers for theirhay and chaff.
– It is a pity that the new protection cannot be made to apply to lawyers’fees.
– I understand the effect of the Government proposal to be to increase the opportunities of the legal profession.
– Is the honorable member in favour of the new protection ?
– I am dealing with the fact that the Government has announced itself in favour of the new protection, and has stated the form which it will take. I do not believe that the farmers of Australia desire to take advantage of the necessity and distress of their fellow citizens.
– There are no importations.
– That is another matter. Our farmers could benefit by the proposed duty only when prices had risen high, and scarcity was likely to continue long enough to make it profitable to send to other countries to obtain fodder for the preservation of the lives of stock.
– We wish to encourage still greater production.
– Undoubtedly that is desirable. .Farmers in all parts of Victoria - and I think in the other States, though I can speak only for this State - who had grass in their paddocks during the great drought of 1902 and 1903, instead of taking- advantage of -the necessities of those “who had none, voluntarily threw open their land free of charge.
– Some of them did.
– A great many did.
– And many men acquired large fortunes by taking advantage of the necessities of their fellows.
– In some cases 30s. an acre was charged for six months’ rent.
– I am speaking of small farmers in various parts of Gippsland, some of them possessing holdings in my own electorate. ‘ No doubt the same thing occurred elsewhere.
– Can the honorable member mention one case of the kind near Warragul ? ‘
– I am speaking of neither the large nor the small landholder ; both voluntarily relieved the distresses of their straitened fellow citizens by throwing their paddocks open to their starving stock, while the Government granted still further relief by carrying the stock by rail practically free of charge. The spirit which actuated the farming community at the time I speak of must cause it now not to seek a duty of which advantage can be taken only in times of drought by charging exorbitant prices to those who are suffering dire distress.
– - I shall not follow the honorable member for Flinders in the extraordinary assumption that the Government, or others who favour the new. protection, intend to apply its principles to the primary as well as to the secondary industries.
– Why should not that be done? The Government has made no distinction._
– As I have said over and over again, I am in favour of the new protection.
– For the other fellow.
– Is the honorable member for Flinders in favour of it?
– That depends upon what is meant by the term.
– Exactly. I do not think that the farmer will be scared by the honorable member’s unwarranted statements. I speak as one who lives amongst farmers, and practises farming, and am well aware of the conditions existing in our farming districts.
– The farmers do not wish to have the price of their produce fixed by Government.
– That will not be done under the new protection.
– The Government will interfere if the prices asked are above a certain limit.
– I speak on the authority of the printed memorandum issued by the Prime Minister. .
– The honorable member is the first to say in my hearing that the Government, or any other advocate of the new protection, desires to’ fix by law the price of produce.
– Or of any other commodity. ‘
– Prices have been fixed in connexion with a particular industry, and under particular circumstances.
– What has been suggested is that, if prices become unduly high, a tribunal may have authority to recommend that the duty be removed.
– That amounts to the fixing of prices below a certain standard.
– The honorable member, for Flinders made another statement without proper consideration. He said that the duty on produce is protective only in times of drought. I wish to point out that during an ordinary season in Australia there may be an extraordinary glut elsewhere, and any protectionist will admit that our farmers should be protected from the dumping of foreign-grown produce. The honorable member must know that produce can be brought here from the Argentine and California at lower charges for carriage than have to be paid for taking produce from Melbourne to the interior of Victoria.
– Has produce ever been dumped here?
– Wheat has been brought here from the Argentine. ‘
– It has been landed in Australia for 10s. a ton.
– What about hay and chaff ?
-The taking off of the dutv has not made any difference to the price which has had to be paid by farmers who are hand-feeding their stock. It is not that one farmer is taking advantage of the necessities of another, but that nearly all the produce is in the hands of middlemen or speculators. I have travelled a great deal through Victoria recently, and know that, while there have been splendid harvests in many places, so that a great deal of produce is stacked up ready for market, it does not belong to those on whose land it is stacked, but to others who have been cute enough to anticipate a drought, and to secure and exercise an option upon thousands of tons of produce. As a result, those who need produce have to pay the prices asked by the speculators. If the, honorable member thinks that hay and chaff will be imported into Australia at prices which will reduce the cost of fodder to those who are compelled to hand feed their stock, he is not aware of the true circumstances of the case. The honorable member for Riverina is consistent, although the honorable member for Parramatta twitted him with inconsistency.
– The honorable member for Parramatta is not an authority on consistency.
– That is so. He used to know something about protection.
– I do not mouth my consistency.
– Nor can I be rightly accused of doing so.
– I did not refer to the honorable member.
– I am acting consistently, after a Careful consideration of ohe of the most important matters that can come before us.
– I have always known the honorable member for Riverina as one of the most determined protectionists in Australia, and therefore I»do not understand his attitude, on this occasion.
– I rose to point out that what has been done before will be done again ; and if there is no duty, our farmers will, in ordinary seasons, be subjected to unfair competition from abroad.
– Can the honorable member say that within the last twenty or thirty years any considerable quantity of hay or chaff has been imported ?
– The honorable member dealt with agricultural produce generally, and I am doing- the same. I assure him, from my personal knowledge, that the opinion which he has formed in this matter is at variance with experience. We know that without a duty there will be importations which will subject bur farmers to unfair competition during ordinary seasons.
– Will a duty of £1 a ton prevent that?
– The honorable member seems to think that a duty of £1 a ton will do a great deal of harm. Perhaps I may be pardoned for thinking that it will do a great deal of good. A similar duty has done good in the past, and I feel sure that the proposed duty will do good in the future.
.- The honorable member for Laanecoorie has questioned the accuracy of my statement as to the fixing of prices under the new protection proposals of the Government. I wish, therefore, to read, by way of personal explanation, a paragraph from an explanatory -memorandum in regard to new protection, presented by command, and ordered by the House to be printed. It is the_ only authoritative statement of the policy of the Government in this regard which we possess, and paragraph 16 reads as follows -
So far, reference has been made only to that aspect of the proposals -which is concerned with the protection of the manufacturer, on the one hand, ‘ and the employes, on the other. An essential part of the completed scheme, however, is the protection of the consumer by the establishment of machinery to prevent the undue inflation of prices. It is enough to say here that the Board will be charged with the duty of investigating the prices charged by protected manufacturers, and, if these are found to be unreasonable, of reporting that fact to the Minister. The Minister will then be empowered, with the assent of Parliament, to take appropriate action.
– That does not refer to anything but manufactures.
– No distinction is made.
.- Having listened attentively to the speeches of honorable members, I do not know whether they wish to help the farmer, or to help the middle .men who have made a corner in regard to produce. The Government accedes to the request of the Senate to impose a duty of £1 a ton, but is willing that it should not take effect until six months hence.
– That was not the proposal of the Government.
– It was the proposal of a Government supporter. The honorable member for South Sydney has stated that it would be a bad advertisement for Australia to admit to the world that she cannot grow the . produce which she needs. I admit that. It is a worse advertisement to say that we, who pride ourselves on our industries, require a duty of 20s. per ton. The honorable member for South Sydney went further, and said that there are no starving stock in Australia .which cannot be provided with Australian-grown fodder. If that be so, where is the necessity for a duty?
– I think the honorable member said that there could be .produced sufficient fodder for all the starving stock’.
– No; the honorable mem-, ber said that there is enough fodder ; and, therefore, I ask again, where is the necessity for a duty ?
– In order to help the farmer as against New Zealand producers.
– But the honorable member for South Sydney told us that there is no competition from New Zealand.
– There is no competition just now ; but we are dealing with a Tariff to last for years.
– The honorable member for South Sydney told us that our competitor is not New Zealand, but the Argentine Republic. Three years ago .we on this side asked for a suspension of the fodder duties on the ground that, at that time, the whole of New South Wales was suffering from severe drought, while Victoria was blessed’ with plentiful seasons. However, the House refused to suspend the duties ; and now when the position is reversed, and it is Victoria that is suffering, I am still in favour of perfect freedom of importation. It was not the farmer or the producer who reaped the benefit of the excellent harvests in Victoria three years ago, but, as has been admitted, even by the honorable member for Riverina, the advantage then and now is gained by some shipping or; other ring. Why should I- vote in order to- increase the present or future profits, not of the farmer or producer, but of the middleman ? Whether we are freetraders or protectionists, representatives of the city or of the country, why should w’e, to the extent of 20s. per ton, assist any ring to keep up prices? I can understand legislation with the object of restricting the operation of rings, but I cannot understand a proposal to fiscally assist them. Allow me to say a word on behalf of the people in my electorate. ,
– Are they farmers?
– They farm the farmers.
– They are sturdy artisans, and a most respectable body of men, who are the chief consumers of the produce of the farmer. They are now told that, owing to fodder . having to be purchased at a heavy rate in the milk-producing centres of ‘southern New South Wales, they must pay exorbitant prices for their milk ; and I do not .see why I should give a vote to make the position worse.
– Is there not a strike on now between the farmers and the milk ring ?
– Yes, but that is not the question before us now. I desire to say that more starving stock pass through my electorate in twenty-four hours than passes through any other electorate in ‘six months;
– In busy seasons, we have more stock in one paddock in the Riverina in a’ month than can be seen in the honorable member’s electorate in six months.
– The honorable member forgets that the abattoirs of Sydney are within my electorate, and that daily thousands of beasts are slaughtered there for consumption by the hundreds of thousands of people of the city. .The idea of the honorable member for Riverina is not to impose the duty at once, but to give a respite of six months. But if free admission of fodder he good for six months, it must be good for six years ; and I cannot see why, at the end of six months, we should extend the proposed assistance to any ring. I have not heard one argument that convinces me that the proposed duty is necessary from, any point of view ; but I intend to -vote with the honorable member for Riverina, in the hope of ultimately having fodder placed on the free list.
.- I intend to support the Government in this matter. I should not have spoken had it not been for some startling statements made by the honorable member for Flinders to the effect that it is desired to give an opportunity to people to take advantage of the difficulties of farmers in one part of the country by charging exhorbitant prices for fodder. Such a suggestion is both cruel arid unjust; and could only be surpassed if it be true as stated, that English officials in high positions protested to the Viceroy in India against charitable people in England subscribing money to save starving millions in our Eastern Possession. The honorable member for Flinders said that men had offered their fields for starving stock; but I guarantee that for one acre given free, nine acres were charged for, and very heavily.
– What about McKenzie, one time Minister of Lands in Victoria ?
– He was a man with criminal instincts. He was a colleague of the honorable member for Flinders, and ought to have been sent out of Parliament for what he did.
– Order !
– The honorable member for Flinders said that many people offered their paddocks and fields free of cost for the use of starving stock, and 1 am showing that his colleague, who had criminal instincts, and who ought to have been hounded out of the State Parliament, but, by reason of. the power behind him, was allowed to resign, used his position to grab land when stock were starving.
– He suffered his punishment.
– But what of the people he wronged? When the Lord Mayor of Melbourne and a Committee waited upon that Minister with an offer of £1,200 in order to settle starving men on the land, he told them that he had not a single acre for the purpose; and yet he had grabbed land for himself. The honorable member for Corangamite has always been a humbug in regard to this affair; and I tell him that he dare not meet me on a public platform and defend the Minister to whom I refer.
– I do not defend the man ; I merely say that he has suffered his punishment.
– I know that some men were nobleenough to give their paddocks for the use of starving stock ; but the facts are as I have stated. The object of the proposal is to prevent undue inflation of prices, and when we grant protection, it is right that we should have some power in this respect over the industry protected. The soundness of this view is shown in the case of the harvester industry ; and we know that in High Court proceedings of the kind, the splendid abilities of the honorable member for Flinders may be utilized at any time if he is retained. It was a great truth uttered by Charles Sumner that for the betrayal of a country or a great cause, one had not to go far to find a friend ready made in any lawyer we came across. We have heard how the honorable member has argued to-day ; but we know that to-morrow,if the Combine were to retain him,he would argue the other way ; and bis legal twisting of the case against the honorable member for Riverina is unworthy of him. If human beings may be punished, it cannot be said that starving stock deserve . any punishment. Our cattle are confined within fences, and are powerless to roam in search of pasture ; man only can assist them, and, in any such cause, my vote shall be found on the side of the helpless.
– I was surprised a little while ago to hear the Treasurer say that he would accept the amendment of the honorable member for Riverina. A few months ago he strenuously opposed any reduction or postponement of the duty. The Committee remitted the duty, but the Senate now wisely requests its restoration. I did think that the Treasurer would seekto have it restored at once, especially as, according to the printed statement which has been circulated, the Government have agreed to accept this request ; yet the Treasurer now wants the. operation of the duty postponed for six months. The duty was imposed in the first Federal Tariff, and has always been retained until now. Seeing that Australia has decided for protection, I do not see why the farmer, as well as the other producers of the community, should not receive some meed of it.
– We thoughtthat from some of the honorable member’s votes on other matters.
– I always voted for moderate protection, when I did vote in that direction. I believe that Australia, when it says that it is protectionist, means that it is so in a moderate degree, and is not so extreme in its views as to indorse the propositions that used to come from the Government benches. We have heard a good deal about the callousness and hard-heartedness of the farmer in trying to wring these high prices from the poor pastoralists, but, on occasions like the present, when the drought is so extreme, I do not think that the farmer receives the extra j£i per ton supposed to result from this duty. ‘ As the honorable member for Boothby says, chaff can be obtained in Adelaide at about £5 per ton. I believe it can be obtained for less than that in Tasmania, and in other places which produce fodder. It is more likely that when the fodder reaches New South Wales it goes into the hands of a ring which, as the honorable member for Riverina said, controls prices. That ring is helped by the fact that New Zealand, which in ordinary years would be the chief competitor with the Australian States, has this year apparently no hay and chaff to export, as the prices ruling in the Dominion will show. That gives the ring a much better chance to corner all the hay and chaff that enters the port of Sydney. The excessive price, when there is a shortage, as at present, is due, not. to the dutv, but to some intermediate body, such as a ring of. middlemen. I do not see why, on that account, the farmers should be penalized. I am sure that the farmers of Australia would be prepared to remit the . duty when prices are as high as they are now, the object of the duty being to protect them in normal seasons. In those times New Zealand might be a competitor, and to give the Australian farmers something like a reasonable price for their produce this duty is imposed, New Zealand should noi? be placed in a position to flood the Australian markets. Those are about the only times that the duty will ‘prove of actual benefit to the farmer. I take it that we are legislating more for ordinary than for extreme seasons, and, seeing that we are here to give protection, why should we not give fair protection all round? I hope that the Treasurer will move to impose the duty at once, as requested by the Senate.
.- I hope the Committee will carry the is. dub, on ‘fodder. We have heard a good deal from the Opposition about the terrible burden which the primary producer would have to bear by paying duties on other articles for the good of other industries, and now, when a dutv is proposed for the benefit of the farmer, surely the members of the Opposition should give him a vote. Like the honorable member for Wilmot, I believe that the main protection which the farmers will get out of this duty will be against New Zealand competition, and not when fodder is very high in price either. When prices are more moderate, the protection will be very useful to them. As for the new protection, and the bugbear raised by the honorable member for Flinders, who tried to drag a red herring across the trail, and raise a scare amongst the farmers, I do not fear that one iota, be- cause the prices obtained ‘ to-day by the actual producers are a long way below those paid by the consumers. There is such a large margin of difference -that I feel that a long time will elapse before the new protection is- applied to the farmers. The amendment of the honorable member for Riverina does not seem very effective. A six months’ suspension does not mean much in a great problem like this, but the honorable member has my sympathy. When the stock belonging to one’s electors is eating dead rabbits, and there is not a blade of grass to be seen, and the owners of the stock are very much incensed at the position, as they naturally would be, even a small modicum of assistance might be grasped at by an honorable member, and from that stand-point we should sympathize with ‘ the honorable member for Riverina. The honorable member for South Sydney has voiced all that I wished to say with regard to distribution, except that the farmers have not co-operated nearly to the extent that they might. I believe that there will be no rational or radical solution of the problem until distribution is undertaken by the Government. The Government undertook thedistribution of seed wheat in New South Wales to those in want. The only way to solve the problem as between the producer and the consumer, to insure that the consumer shall pay a reasonable price, and that the producer shall get a reasonable return for his product, is the adoption of a scheme of national distribution.
.- The question of a duty on hay and chaff naturally affects my district very closely. I suppose that in my constituency there is a larger area of country requiring rain than in any other part of Victoria, but, as a protectionist, I cannot consistently vote for the remission of this duty. I .look upon protection to the agricultural community- as a principle that should apply all round. If the duty of is. per cwt. on hay and chaff is likely to assist the southern farmers, it is the duty of the northern farmers to be loyal to the principle of protection, if it is to apply all round. The retention or remission of this duty will make no material difference to the price. I do not think that there is any reasonable chance of importations from abroad. The price of chaff in New Zealand is about the same as in Australia. The Argentine, so far as I can learn, does not do a great deal of exportation at low prices, so that whether the duty is retained or struck off it will make very little difference to the retail price of chaff. It is very largely a sentimental question, but if the duty is retained, it gives the farmer a sense of security in respect of his future production. For that reason alone, it is necessary that it should be retained. The question of the operation of the new protection might well be discussed by itself. We are dealing now with the question of an import duty on hay and chaff. It will be for us to deal with the new protection when it comes before us. It is not desirable to mix up the two questions. I had intended to go into some figures, but at this late stage of the debate, I do not think that that is necessary. For the last four or five years our exports of hay and chaff have been greater than our imports. In 1906, we imported only 895 cwt. of hay and chaff altogether, and up to the present this year only a small importation has taken ‘place. ‘From information published from time to time, there is every reason to believe that there is plenty of hay in the southern districts of Australia to supply the requirements of those who can afford to pay a reasonable price for it. When hay reaches £3 or £4 a ton, it becomes altogether too dear for people to buy to feed sheep on.
– They, are paying £8 a ton in Riverina.
M.r. SAMPSON. - That is probably a higher price than they should be paying. It has been stated that chaff is quoted at £5 a ton in South Australia, and another honorable member stated that it could be got for something like £4 a ton in Tasmania.
– It costs another £3 or £4 a ton to carry it to the Riverina.
– Freights are much higher than they should be, but I do not think it costs anything like £3 or £4 a ton to carry chaff from South Australia to the Riverina. At any rate, I am not discussing present prices, but the prices that people can afford to pay to feed starving stock. When hay reaches £$ a ton, it is already too dear to feed stock on, unless it is for valuable dairy herds or stud stock. The question of the fodder, duties has, therefore, anything but an important bearing on the question of starving stock ii: Australia. As a matter of consistency, and for the sake of the retention of a duty which will apply all round to the agricultural community, I am prepared to vote for the adoption of the Senate’s request.
.- When this question was last before this Chamber, 1 voted to place hay and chaff upon the free list, as did also the honorable member for Riverina. The circumstances were then admitted to be peculiar, inasmuch as we were facing a possible harvest failure. At the present time the conditions are peculiar. Although there is in South Australia a very considerable supply of hay and fodder-
– And in Western Australia and in Tasmania.
– Possibly- still in portions of Victoria and of New South Wales there is a very considerable deficiency, and the exorbitant price of about £& per ton is demanded. I venture to say that the practical effect of this amendment, if made, would be nil. Since October last hay and chaff have been on the- free list, but in spite of that fact an abnormal price is demanded. The amendment of the honorable member for Riverina simply proposes that hay and chaff shall be continued on the free list for a further period of six months. To what extent is that likely to affect the price ? I cannot conceive how the remission of the duty for six months is likely to be of the least advantage to the unfortunate persons who are now paying an abnormal price. Too much regard to peculiar circumstances should not be paid in a measure which has to deal with general circumstances. Although we may have a prolific season to-day, still in the course of a year or two we may have a drought, and then it would be impossible to make a special arrangement to meet the situation. We cannot place the people of the Commonwealth on all-fours. We have to look at the question not from a local point of view, but from a national stand-point, and that must take account of the benefit of Australia as a whole. I voted in favour of placing hay and chaff on the free listnot only because of the special circumstances which then existed, but also for a broader reason. I venture to say that if a tax on hay and chaff is likely to be effective in an ordinary season, it is our bounden duty to confer that measure of protection, but normally hay and chaff are sold at such prices that there is no possibility of any importations being made to compete with the local produce. Consequently our farmers have nothing to fear, and so far as they are concerned, the contention that they are benefited by the duty is only a fallacy.
– They get no benefit in times of special stress.
– The obvious fact is that a duty on hay and chaff has no protective effect. Somehonorable members want to impose a duty for protective purposes, although they know that it is not likely to be effective. They might as well talk about protecting the labour of the miner or bricklayer. That cannot possibly be done. If honorable members put on the. statute-book a duty which seems to give protection, and yet does not, they are only deluding the farmers into the belief that they are going to derive some advantage which cannot possibly be conferred upon them. I am opposed to that method, and for that reason I am prepared to renew the vote which I gave previously, and to vote against the Senate’s request.
– Times of stress are exceptional, and in an average year the duty would operate.
– Has it operated ?
– For a number of years we have had a duty on hay and chaff, and Iask the honorable member for Wilmot if it has ever operated? I cannot call to mind a single season when it has had any practical effect so far as the producers are concerned, and if it has operated on one or two very rare occasions I venture to say that the sum total of the disadvantage altogether outweighs the seeming advantage which the farmers might have derived from its imposition.
– The discussion has been so protracted that I feelthat my attitude on this question should be made known to my constituents. On a previous occasion I voted for hay and chaff to be made free. I shall avail myself of every opportunity to attain that object, because the fodder duties have been operative only once. Then the Commonwealth derived a revenue ofabout
– How much did it receive from the duty on hay and chaff? Mr. KNOX. - I remember that the fodder duties yielded a large revenue when a considerable portion of the Commonwealth . was in dire distress from a terrible drought. It seems to me, therefore, that the duty only becomes operative in a period of great severity, when our own people are suffering. It cannot be shown that when’ normal conditions prevail the duty has been operative. I thoroughly support the representations which have been made in opposition to it. Not only will I support the amendment of the honorable member for Riverina, but if the opportunity is offered I shall certainly vote against the continuance of the duty. I hope that the Committee will extend its sympathy to those persons who axe suffering great distress in many portions of the Commonwealth, and that, as a result of this discussion, the duty may be eliminated.
– Before a division is taken. I wish to offer a few remarks in . reply to several honorable members. . The honorable member for Flinders went so far as to broadly assert that no one could deny that the fodder duties were only operative in a time of severe stress - that is, during a drought. I interjected that I for one did not subscribe to that view, and similar interjections were made. As a matter of fact, the duties are operative at the very time when the honorable member declared that they were not. Let me cite one instance to prove my contention. We are now dealing with a duty on hay and chaff only. We have dealt with the duties on all kinds of cereals and root crops as fodder for stock, and there is no opportunity of reconsidering our decisions on cereals. Stock-owners of all classes know that cereals are used very largely for keeping stock alive. . ‘ Dairy farmers know that it is very much more profitable to use cereals and root crops for their herds than to give them dry fodder. Prior to Federation, New South Wales was the one State into which fodder of all kinds could be imported free of duty. In Victoria there was a duty of 2s. per bushel on wheat. The result was that wheat was im- ported from California and landed in the stores at Sydney for 10s. per ton - that is less than one-half of the price which the local farmer would have to pay for the carriage of his produce to the metropolitan markets. And what happened in New South Wales would happen throughout the Commonwealth if its ports were thrown open to the world in that respect.
– Cereals, not chaff.
– It applies to all kinds of fodder.
– Well, my experience is different from that of my honorable friend. To my personal knowledge chaff and compressed fodder have been dumped upon the wharfs of Sydney from New Zealand, Argentina, and California. The effect of those importations on, the local market for cereals was that the millers withdrew their country buyers, snapped their fingers at the farmers of New South Wales, and said to them, “ We will not buy your wheat unless you accept our price, because we can buy wheat abroad at so much less than you want, and the sea carriage costs 50 per cent, less than the land carriage.” In normal times the duties on fodder do affect, and beneficially affect, the local producers. Some honorable members appear to think only one class of the community is suffering - the pastoralists - and that the farmers are going to rob them. Now it is the farmers who are suffering to-day, and it is for them I am pleading with honorable members.
– We will vote with the honorable member if he will allow a division to be taken.
– The honorable member will not get any more votes by speaking.
– No; he may get fewer votes. .
– Whilst there are some honorable members who are sincerely supporting my amendment, there are others who are only supporting it ‘for the purpose of destroying the duty afterwards..
– Hear, hear.
– That is honest. I want honorable members generally to understand what is sought to be done. I claim the votes of those who think that it is better to. suspend the duty for six months than not at all. I ask them to stand by me and to resist the attempt to repeal the duty. I desire to remove one impression which the honorable member for Flinders left by his speech, and I am glad that the honorable member for Gippsland is here to corroborate my statement. There is a strong sympathetic feeling between the farmers of Gippsland and those of the mallee country. Why ? It was because the Gippsland farmers having been visited by a disastrous fire, which practically destroyed their homesteads, the Wimmera farmers extended them a helping hand by saying to them, “ Send us along your stock, and we will provide it with grass until you recover from the effects of the calamity which now affects you.” As a result, when theMallee farmers in their turn were suffering from a severe drought, the farmers of Gippsland extended to them reciprocal treatment. . That period; however, has passed. Can the honorable member for Flinders point to a single individual in Victoria who has provided free grass for starving stock this year?
– Had the farmers here the grass to give?
– Why should they provide free grass?
– At least it would show humanity on their part.
– But why should they provide free grass ?
– I am merely replying to the statement of the honorable member for Flinders that there was no necessity to suspend the operation of this duty, because those who possessed stock but had no grass were always invited by those who had grass to place their starving stock upon it. As a matter of fact, I was in Gippsland during the early portion of this year - the honorable member for Gippsland is in a position to vouch for the accuracy of my statement -and whilst there a paddock was pointed out to me which was under lease for six months to a Riverina grazier who was paying 30s. fin acre for it. Everybody knows that extremely high prices are being asked for the use of such paddocks.’ Only last week I was interviewed in the parliamentary buildings by a ruined dairy farmer, who informed me that, after having paid for a considerable period the sum of £8 per ton for chaff with which to feed his 100 head of dairy cattle, which had cost him£6 each, he was obliged to put them in the saleyards, where they realized only 25s. per head. I recognise that the members of the Opposition intend to support my amendment, but I am sorry that I shall receive only their temporary assistance, inasmuch as they subsequently intend to vote in favour of placing hay and chaff upon the free list for all time.
– I shall vote for the amendment of the honorable member for Riverina. I frankly confess that 1 am unable to see that a duty upon hay and chaff ever becomes operative. During the past six months these articles have been free of duty, and yet not a ton of them has been imported. But this Parliament, having deliberately adopted a policy of protection!, it should be applied fairly all round. We have piled up duties upon almost every article used by the farmer, and I do not see how we can consistently refuse to sanction the imposition of a duty upon hay and chaff. Of course, we all recognise that in ordinary years such a duty will be entirely inoperative. But, when a drought comes along, I do not think that we ought to give the primary producers in one State an advantage which in some cases leads to the absolute impoverishment of farmers in other States. The claim of the honorable member for Riverina, that there is one portion of Australia, suffering from a drought, whose special requirements ought to be met, is, I think a fair one.
Amendment greed to.
– I should now like the Treasurer to act consistentlyby placing hay and chaff upon the free list. I understand that some honorable members think it is wise to suspend the operation of a. duty upon these commodities for a period of six months. I should like to know why it is wise to adopt that course ? .
– The honorable member should think it out for himself.
– I should like the honorable member’s intelligence to render me a little assistance.
– It would do the honorable member good.
– The honorable member was anxious to suspend the operation of a duty upon hay and chaff for a period of six months. To be consistent, therefore, he must now vote in favour of placing these commodities upon the free list.
– He supported the proposal of the honorable member for Riverina merely as a compromise.
– Do I understand that honorable members arrive at compromises outside of this chamber without explaining to their constituents the bases upon which those compromises rest? If the principle be good that a duty should not be collected upon hay and chaff for six months-
– In normal times a duty has to be paid upon them.
– In normal times,when we are producing more hay and chaff than we require, it is right to levy a duty upon those commodities? There will certainly be no imports then !
– There are no imports now.
– Then why does the right honorable member wish to impose a duty upon hay and chaff?
– To encourage production.
– This isone of those occasions when an innocent member like myself has his intelligence strained to the utmost in an endeavour to follow the compromise arrived at. I cannot understand it.
– That is not our fault.
– I am sure that it is not. I cannot be expected to follow the honorable member along the tortuous path by which he reached his compromises ! If it be a good thing to suspend the operation of a duty for six months, would it not be equally ‘ a good thing to suspend its operation entirely? Irrespective of what action honorable members may take in accordance with some compromise, of the terms of which I am not cognisant, I wish to say that a majority of this Committee is opposed to the duty which it is now proposed to levy upon hay and chaff.
– Upon a previous occasion there was a majority of only one against the proposal.
– Upon that occasion there was a majority of four against it, and there is a larger majority now.
– But the whole of the absent members of the Committee were not “ paired “ upon a previous occasion.
– That is quite true. There were five members absent who were not paired, four of whom would have voted in favour of placing hay and chaff upon the free list. If, upon that occasion there were a majority of four members in favour of the adoption of that course, that number has increased to eight or nine now. Upon aquestion of this kind - seeing that we definitely know the opinions of honorable members - it is only fair that every absentee should be “paired.” I am sure that in these democratic days, honorable members do not wish to take advantage of the difficulties which occasionally result in some honorable members being absent unpaired to sneak through something which is not in accord with the expressed opinions of the majority.
– It is the duty of honorable members to be here.
– I quite agree with the honorable member. But, at the present time, we are more concerned with what is the will of the people.
– This House will express the will of the people,
– Seeing that proper notice has been given of the business to be considered, it cannot be urged that the proposal to levy a duty upon these commodities is being’ “sneaked through.”
-My honorable friend knows perfectly well that honorable members arc not always cognisantof the details of the business which is to engage our attention.
– They knew that there was to be no other business but the consideration of the Senate’s requests on the Customs Tariff Bill.
– My point is that there is a majority opposed to a duty on hay and chaff, and while it may be considered smart to refuse to pair up the whole Committee, it is not the kind of thing I care to be mixed up in. On important questions the whole Committee should be paired, if the views of honorable members can be ascertained:
– Who is to blame ? The honorable member must not expect members who are here to stand out.
– I have on several occasions stood out to pair with an absent member whose opinion I knew. I did so to facilitate the true expression of the will of the people.
-i do not know how any. one will vote.
– The right honorable gentleman is assuming an innocence which he does not possess. He knows how a good manywill vote.
-No one has told me that he intends to vote in a certain way.
– Has the honorable member talked until he has got his numbers?
– I offer to make a fair Bargain with the Treasurer.
– I never make bargains.
– The honorable member occasionally does not keep his bargains, though he often makes them. If he suspects that I have the numbers, let it be proved by pairing up the whole Committee. I cannot understand his action in refusing pairs, unless it be due toa determination to sneak through this duty, notwithstanding the popular objection to it. If Ministers take advantage of the temporary absence of some honorable members, they must salve their own consciences. I give them warning that this is not the last that will be heard of the matter, but that the question will be tested again later, on a proposal to recommit. I understand that it will be possible to move for a recommittal. I do not think the Government has acted fairly.
– I have not done anything.
– The Government Whip will not give pairs.
– I have not interfered, but have left matters in his hands.
– Does the Treasurer agree to the pairing up of the whole Committee? If the division about to be taken is lost, another opportunity will be made to secure the true expression of the will of the people on this proposal.
– Let it go,
– Itis all very well for the Treasurer to say “ Let it go “ ; I wish to protest’ against the action of the Government in treating us scurvily in the matter of pairs. The fact is that the Committee as a whole is opposed to the duty, but, owing, to unfortunate circumstances beyond control, the vote about to be taken is likely to go in favour of the. Government. Therefore I, for one, shall not be content with the result, and intend to take advantage of a subsequent occasion to. ascertain the mind of the Committee. There are six or seven members away, for whom we cannot obtain pairs. This is scurvy treatment from members who live in or close to Melbourne, seeing that many other members have to travel thousands of miles to get here. Incidents like this make one wish that Parliament was meeting far from Melbourne, so that members would have to share alike the inconvenience of travelling long distances from their homes to attend’ its sittings. They would then have to meet us in a fairer spirit.
– I regret that I was not present to vote against the proposal of the honorable member for Riverina to postpone the operation of the duty until November. It was most illogical for him to ask for a postponement of the duty merely because there is now a drought in the Riverina. A short time hence there may be a drought elsewhere. Either there should be no duty, or a duty should be imposed at once, as in the case of other articles. At the present time, owing to the recent bountiful rains and warm weather, abundance of fodder is obtainable on the New South Wales coast, the people there having, not only enough for their own requirements, but also plenty to sell. The honorable member for Riverina, however, objects to them making a fair profit by selling to his constituents, and has proposed the postponement of the operation of theduty until November, by which time he hopes that Providence, which is apparently overlooking his district now, will have sent rain there. I emphatically protest against this postponement. The proposal to make hay and chaff dutiable is absurd,because any duty can operate only at the expense of pastoralists and dairymen who are suffering by reason of drought. The proposed duty, if operative at all, will be operative in favour of, perhaps, one State when some, or perhaps all, of the others are suffering. The Minister might fairly take up a more liberal attitude. It is upon the pastoral and agricultural industries that the prosperity of this country is becoming more and more dependent. Every year the amount of capital invested in dairying is increasing, and it is impossible to make dairying pay during periods of drought in the face of high fodder duties. The recent experience of Sydney is that scarcity of fodder increases the price of milk to the people. If those who are opposed to the duty are defeated on this occasion, and a recommittal is moved for, Ishall vote for it.
Question - That the requested amendment, as modified, making the duty on Hay and Chaff, per cwt.,1s., on and after 1st November, 1908 (item 67), be made - put. The Commitee divided.
Ayes … … … 23
Noes … … … 18
Majority … …. 5
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Requested amendment, as modified, made.
Item. 79. Matches and Vestas of all kinds:-
Request. - Insert after “with” the word “printed”; leave out “advertising any commodity other thanthe matches contained therein,” and insert “ other than the manufacturer’s name and address and descriptionof the article, contained therein.”
– I move -
That the requested amendments be made.
The proposed amendment has been found necessary to avoid the confusion which has arisen as to what is advertising matter and what is not. Matches are now being imported bearing such, names as “ Fry’s Matches, “&c. ; although the advertising intention of such marking is self-evident, it has been found extremely difficult to draw a line between what is and what is not ad- vertising matter, and the original intention of the item will be made clear by the amendment.
– - The importers should have at ‘ least some notice of the proposed alteration. We cannot expect the manufacturers abroad to anticipate tlie will of Parliament in a matter of this, kind. In connexion with another request relating to the same item, the Senate proposes that the amendment shall not take effect until 1st September next.
– Let us give the same notice in this case.’
– A longer notice is necessary.
– I think that the amendment requested by the Senate would liberalize the item from the stand-point of the importers.
– Matches bearing certain printing, not advertising, bare hitherto been dutiable at a given rate, and- it is now proposed that when they are so labelled they shall be liable to an additional duty - that nothing more than the manufacturer’s harrie and address and a description of the article contained therein shall appear upon the boxes coming under the lower duty. The Treasurer referred to the name “ Fry’s Matches,” appearing on certain boxes, as indicating a desire to advertise ‘a firm that was not the actual manufacturer of the goods. Manufacturers abroad may have placed On boxes, intended for export to Australia, other particulars which were’ not considered to come within the category of . advertising matter- under the item as lt originally stood.
– The -importers knew all about our intention in this regard.
– But manufacturers in far off countries have not had- ‘time to comply with the proposed alteration. We should at least give reasonable notice’. .Mr. Watson! - We had better stand by the item as it left this House.
– I should npt- object to that. I think that the original intention of the House was that boxes
Admitted at the lower rate should not have printed upon them advertising matter riot relating to the contents.
– The departmental officers say that the1 original provision does not work well.
– I would urge the Treasurer either to invite the Committee to stand by the item as originally passed by us or to agree to the request with tha addition of certain words giving due notice of the change.
.- The Treasurer might well” consider the. advisableness of standing by the phraseology of the paragraph as passed by us. So long as the printed matter appearing on match-boxes is an honest description of the contents, there can’ be no objection to it.
– The Treasurer mentioned thai matches were labelled “ Fry’s Matches,” with a desire, apparently) to advertise Fry’s cocoa.
– Such a label would’, undoubtedly, be an advertisement, since it would refer to other than the actual manufacturers of the goods; The Department should have no difficulty in dealing with persons who attempted to evade- the payment of the proper duty by resorting to such methods. Any printed matter, in order to be outside the provision against advertising, must necessarily relate to the goods within the boxes. I agree with, the honorable member for North Sydney that, if we are going to make the requested amendment, we should give- reasonable notice, but I would remind him that if we provide that this amendment shall not take effect until 1st September next, the extra duty that has been collected’ under, the paragraph, up to the present time, will have to be refunded, since there will be no authority for its collection. I therefore prefer to stand by the Item as it left this House.
– All duties have been collected without authority.
– That is scarcely correct ; a resolution of the House is held to b<>. sufficient authority for the collection of duties.- If we specially provide that iri this case the duty shall not be collected until 1st September next, a refund of any duty already collected will have to be made. T think that we ought to carry the paragraph as originally passed by us. ‘ The phraseology of the paragraph as passed by us would cover any attempt to advertise something other than the actual contents of the packages.
– - I do not think that there, would be any necessity to make any refund if notice were given, as suggested. I have no feeling in regard to this matter, but the Department urges very strongly that the amendment should be made.
– Is the honorable member a slave to his Department?
– I am not at the head of the Department of Trade and Customs, but I have a very great regard for it. I have been asked, for departmental reasons, to invite the Committee to make the amendment requested. Anything that will facilitate the work of the Department without having a harmful effect should be agreed to.
– If we agreed to this amendment, and gave no notice of the alteration, harm would be done.
– I do not think that there is any objection to the. insertion of the words “ On and after1st September, 1908,” although I am informed that the importers have long been aware of our intention to make this alteration. My desire is to meet the views of honorable members.
– A longer notice than the Treasurer has just mentioned is necessary.
– I do not think so; but some alteration of the wording is necessary. The duty is imposed now.
– If notice is given there will have to be a refund Of the duty collected up to the time the proposed provision comes into force.
– I am informed by the officers of the Department that that is not so.
– There must be some authority for the collection of a duty?
– The authority for the collection of this duty is the passing of the Tariff by this House.
– But if the item is altered in the way proposed and the alteration is to come into effect only on the1st September, there will have been no authority for the collection of the duty up to that date.
– I admit that the alteration of the wording would not take effect until the date fixed, but it would have no effect upon the operation of the duty. It has been suggested to me that to meet the objection raised by the honorable member for North Sydney we should add to- paragraph d of the item - as it passed this House the words, “ and on and after 1st September, 1908,” and then the words of the Senate’s request. That would not affectthe duty in any way.
– That would not altogether meet my objection. This may be considered a small matter from one point of view, but from another it is very important. I point out, in addition to what I said before, that the proposed amendment would prevent a manufacturing firm printing its registered brand on goods imported to Australia. That is a most drastic step to take. We permit firms to register brands and print them on packets containing their goods, but the proposed amendment would prevent the printing on match-boxes of the brands by which the manufactures of certain firms have been known for years, if the goods are imported. The brand by which the matches made by certain manufacturers might be known might be a pyramid, a diamond, or a star, or any other device; but it could not under the proposed amendment be imprinted on boxes of imported matches: The proposal is that without a penalty nothing can be printed on the box but the manufacturer’s name and address and a description of the article contained therein. That is an extraordinary Customs provision.
– If they are allowed to print their registered brand on the boxes, they should also state the country of origin.
– There would be no objection to that, but that could not be done under the amendment of the item proposed in. the Senate’s request.
– Does not the honorable member know that the importers are now breaking the spirit of the item as carried by this House ?
– Does the honorable member believe that the . manufacturers of matches exported to Australia should be prevented from putting on the boxes in which they are contained their registered brand which has always accompanied their name, and has hitherto appeared on packages containing their goods?
– That is a different thing altogether.
– Theproposed Amendment would prevent that. Whilst the provision might be intended to prevent a vendor of tobacco advertising his particular brand of tobacco on matchboxes - -
-Would not that obviously be an advertisement for the tobacco?
– I should say so ; and as such it would be covered by the form in which the item left this 1 House. There are of course two views as to whether it is desirable to prevent that kind of thing, but surely we do not wish to take the extreme step of preventing a firm that has been exporting matches -to Australia, for perhaps a score of years, . printing its distinctive brand upon the boxes in which they are contained ?I should say that no such proposition was ever before made in connexion with a Tariff.
– Would the honorable gentleman’s objection in that regard be met by inserting after the word “ name “ the words “trade mark”?I think there would be no objection to that.
– That would certainly be an improvement. 1. think there should also be a postponement of the operation of the proposed amendment in’ this case, and in the case of the next request, to at least the end of the year, to give importers sufficient time to provide for the printing of new labels and to transport goods to Australia by sailing vessel. Mr. Watson. - They would not need to order any goods now, the printing on which could not be altered in accordance with the proposed amendment before September.
– The importers would not send their orders until Parliament decided the conditions which were to be imposed.
– If the proposed alteration of the wording were agreed upon now the importers would have plenty of time before September to clear all the present orders. .
-Butthey will need to send orders, and fresh labels will have to be printed, and the goods specially put up to execute the new orders, and if those goods are to be shipped to Australia by sailing vessel, a postponement of the operation of the proposed amendment to the1st September would not give the importers sufficient time. In any case, a few months earlier or later in this matter is of no consequence to the Customs Department or to the Treasurer.
– The proposed alteration was carried some time ago in the Senate.
– But the importers wouldnot take action upon that. knowing that the carrying of the proposal inthe Senate did not make it law. A post- ponement of the operation of the proposed intendment for two or three months would lot involve any serious loss of duty.
– It would in the caseof the next request, which involves an alteration of the duty.
– But I point out that the Minister does not want the revenue that would be derived in these cases.He is prepared to permit the importers to escape the payment of the duty proposed if they are careful to print only certain specific things on the boxes containing the matches, and to comply, in the case of the next request, with the provision as to the number of matches contained in a box. In the circumstances, I ask that the importer should be given fair notice of the altered requirements of the Tariff.
.- I hope that the Minister will not agree to any proposal to revert to the wording of the item as it passed this House. Under that wording, the Customs Department found it impossible to carry out the wish of the House. Honorable members are aware that the intention was to prevent firms carrying on business here, and drawing from Australia virtually the whole of their returns, having their advertising matter printed in other parts . of the world, in . such countries as Germany and Sweden. Some firms have found it possible to evade the wording of the item as it passed this House, by printing in front of the word “ matches “ the name of the particular commodity they had been previously accustomed to advertise in this way.I fail to understand why the honorable member for North Sydney should ask that these firms should be permitted to continue this practice for another three months.
– This is a new proposal, and the importers should be given due notice of it.
– It is a long time since the matter was discussed in the Senate, and there is no doubt that every one of the importers knows that the alteration was proposed in the Senate in order to prevent evasion of the spirit of the item as carried by this House. The honorable member for North Sydney has expressed himself as satisfied if the manufacturer’s trade mark, as well as his name and address, and the description of the articles, may be printed on the boxes.
– The honorable member does not object to manufacturers being allowed to advertise their own trade mark?
– No; the makers of the matches should be permitted to advertise their own trade mark, but I believe that honorable members generally object to firms deriving the chief profits’ of their business in ‘ Australia getting their advertising matter printed in other parts of the world, where’ it can be done more cheaply than in Australia, and where it is done under conditions which Australian workmen would not care to observe. In’ the circumstances, I hope that the Committee will not agree to any postponement of mc matter, but will adopt the Senate’s request.
– - It has been suggested to me, though I must say that I think it is a rather cumbersome way of dealing with the matter, that the best plan would be to accept the proposed amendment in the form proposed, with an addition which would involve a repetition of the wording with certain alterations. I intend to withdraw my present proposal, and submit another one, which will meet the case.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the requested .amendment he not made, hut that the following modification be’ inserted to follow present paragraph d :- And on and after »st October, 1908 - (d) When in boxes with printed matter thereon other than the manufacturer’s name, trade-mark, and address, and description of the article contained therein, in addition to the duties set out in (a), (11) and (c) above, per gross of boxes (General Tariff), yd. j (United Kingdom), <jd.”
– I understand that the modification proposed by the Minister will not operate until the 1st’ of October.
– I feel that the Committee is about to do a very grave injury to a number of people who are trying to encourage local manufactures. There are people in Australia who are having the whole of their advertising matter printed in the country.’ They will be placed at a disadvantage by paying more than others who have been getting around the resolution carried in this chamber months ago. They : are to be penalized for six months. This is a question of principle arid consistency. I sm sorry to find so staunch a protectionist’ as the Treasurer giving way on such a point, and I regret- that a Government of which I have been a loyal supporter should adopt such an attitude. Perhaps I should receive more consideration if I were to sit on the Opposition benches, because it seems to me that to sit behind the Government is about: the surest way to have no notice taken of .what one desires.
– It is not the game that it is “cracked up to be !”
– I wish I were in the position of the honorable member for North Sydney, sitting opposite to the Minister, and able to get from him without any trouble valuable concessions. In this case, I venture to say that the concession involves a back-down from protectionist principles: Further than that, I am sorry to see this Committee willing to assist in wrong, doing ; because we shall, by adopting the Minister’s proposal, be assisting those who are breaking the spirit of the law if, they are not actually breaking the letter of it.
– I suggest, in all seriousness, that the Commonwealth of Australia would absolutely collapse if we imported a few more boxes of matches with advertising matter: upon them ! Having struck that warning, note, I trust that we shall now be allowed to vote.
.- I take the opportunity of bringing under the notice of the Committee what I consider, to be a swindle perpetrated by Japanese manufacturers of matches, who sell largely; in Sydnev boxes on which are stamped- the words “ Trade Union.” It is true that the boxes also have stamped on them, in accordance with the law.. “ Made in Japan.” The Japanese, according to official statist tics, make matches for less than id. per. gross of boxes. In consequence of their cheap production they have absolutely wiped out the Swedish matches on our eastern coasts. Iri England women and girls employed in making matches were paid’ only 2jd. per gross of boxes; but even at that rate how could they possibly compete with the Japanese? I trust that .the Go,vernment will submit their proposal in such a way that no favours will be conferred upon persons who have their ‘ advertising done on these cheap foreign match-boxes.’ .
– They are blocked bv the Department as far as they can be. blocked.
– But we must give reasonable notice.
– Those manufacturers who advertise in this fashion have shown very little patriotism towards the country out of ‘which they are making their profits. . If a division is called for, I shall vote to give no more than two or three months’ notice. . To give two months’ notice would be quite sufficient, because those manufacturers who have sent orders abroad would be able to send cables cancelling them.
– There are only a few such cases as the honorable member has named. The others are genuine cases.
– I have seen a considerable number of matchbox labels, and the majority of them are of the character that I have described.
– There are a number of legitimate shippers not advertising other people’s goods whom the proposal of the Minister will affect.
– Who are they?
– There are such firms as Bryant and May, Bell and Black, and others.
– The majority of the cases are of the other description. I have seen an album containing about 100 different advertising labels printed abroad.
– They are not being brought in now.
-. - What I want to do is to prevent the people concerned from having the time up to October to carry on that sort of business if they desire to do so. Does the honorable member for North Sydney mean that’ if the proposal of the Minister is passed, that sort of advertising will be prevented up to the1st of October next? I want to prevent it altogether.
-It is all a storm in. a teapot.
-I understood the honorable member to say that these labels would be admitted up to October next.
Mr.Dugald Thomson. - What I say is that a large number of the labels that the honorable member refers to have been stopped.
– Let us stop them for good and all.
– This is a matter which is not really of very vital importance. Under the Tariff as it left this Chamber, these duties have been collected ; and, presumably as the Tariff will have to go back to the Senate,these duties will remain in force for some time longer. The statement I have from the Department is that the practice complained of is being prevented as far as possible, and that, in spite of considerable difficulty, the efforts are to a great extent successful. During the interval the Department will have to do the best they can to deal with the few persons who are carrying on the practice. Bui from October the offence will not be possible. I cannot do more than agree to fix the limit at October.
– Before we take a vote, I should like to ask the Minister whether the statement by the honorable member for North Sydney is correct, namely, that, after the1st October, Bryant and May’s matches will not be admitted in the boxes that are used at the present time?
– It is absolutely incorrect to say that I made the statement attributed to me by the honorable member for Laanecoorie. What I said was that there were shippers of matches who did not advertise other people’s goods on their boxes, and, in reply to the honorable member for Melbourne, I instanced Messrs. Bryant and May and other firms. Now. the honorable member for Laanecoorie says that I stated that Messrs. Bryant and May would have to pay the higher duty under this item if their matches came in in the present boxes after the1st, October. I said nothing of the sort.
– When’ the honorable member looks at Hansard I think he will find that he did say so.’
– I have repeated the statement I made. I do not know whether such would be the case or not; but if the honorable member will show me the boxes of matches I should be able to tell him. If Messrs. Bryant and May’s boxes bear anything beyond the manufacturer’s name and address, the trade mark, and a description of the article, they will be excluded from the lower duty after the1st October, although they advertise nothing else; and so with regard to the boxes of other firms who do not advertise other people’s goods. This is an extraordinary condition to impose, and if it must be imposed let fair notice be given, so that firms who. do not print on their labels the very words prescribed shall not be penalized. Matches are usually shipped by sailing vessels; andI accept the notice suggested, though. I do not think , itis long enough.
– The honorable member for North Sydney correctly stated the first question asked by the honorable member for Melbourne, and also the answer given. But he did not. state the last question asked by the honorable member. I was listening very carefully ; and I heard the honorable member for Melbourne ask, after the names of certain firms had been given,” And will those firms practically come under the provision after the1st October?” The honorable member for North Sydney replied that they would.
– Yes, if they differ from this provision.
– Have I misrepresented the honorable member?
– Yes, I think the honorable member has done so.
– I asked the Minister the question I did in order to give the honorable member for North Sydney an opportunity to correct what I felt sure was a statement he had not thoroughly considered.
– I say now the same as I said before namely, that if they differ from this provision, they will come under it. . ‘
– The honorable memberdid not say so when he was asked the question but simply answered “ Yes.”
.- This is one of the most monstrous duties in the whole of the Tariff. Judging from the imports of last year, we tax the community to the extent of about£71,000.
– Does the honorable member say that the community pays the £71,000?
– I say that that is what the community pays under the duty as it left this House, as is shown by the fact that the “annual importations of matches amount to 1,500,000 gross.
– We are not discussing a duty on matches, but a duty on advertising matter on the boxes.
– It is all very well to say that; but this is a provision which does not’ apply as against local matches. According to the evidence before us, the wages paid in this industry amount to £7,600 a year; and yet it is proposed to tax the community to the extent of about £71,000. If that is not protection run mad, I do not know what is.
– That duty has been passed, and we cannot alter it.
– But honorable members seem to be trying to make the duty worse in its operation.
– No ; better from the honorable member’s stand-point.
– Hear, hear.
– If the Treasurer changes his mind every twenty-four hours, that is not my fault. The honorable, gentleman told us yesterday that he supported ‘ these requests in reference to matches.
– I did say so; but the honorable member for North Sydney has made a suggestion which modifies the duty in the direction desired by the honorable member for Grey.
– I was not aware that the Minister had made a fresh statement today.
Motion agreed to.
Requested amendment not made ; but the modification made.
Item 79. Matches and Vestas of all kinds : -
Request. - Insert the following paragraph : - “ (e)When in boxes upon which the number of Matches contained therein is not printed or stamped, in addition to the duties set out in. (a), (b), (c) above, per gross of boxes, on and after1st September, 1908, 2s.”
– I move -
That the requested amendment be made.
This request was moved by the leader of the Opposition in the Senate, with the object of protecting the public from the trade practice of putting less matches in boxes than they are supposed to contain, and the. amendment follows the spirit of the Commerce Act.
.- I suggest that the date be altered so as to agree with the date fixed in the case of the request just dealt with. There may be boxes coming in which contain the proper number of matches, but are not stamped to that effect
– The Treasurer must know, as the honorable member for Nepean has pointed out, that boxes may be comingin containing the legitimate number, but not marked to that effect ; and it will take’ time to make the business alterations rendered necessary by this provision.
– There never should have been boxes containing less than the proper number of matches.
– But surely those who are importing boxes containing the proper number ought to be considered ?
– A month is not worth making a noise about.
– I submit that the necessary business alterations cannot be made in the time allowed.
– Importers have had three or four months already in which to have the necessary arrangements made.
– Surely the honorable member does not think that traders take notice of a mere proposal in one House.
– If they are wise they do take notice.
– If they were to do so it might place them in avery awkward situation. Alterations of the kind are not made without expense, and the whole system of counting the matches will have to be altered.
– They know all about the duties now.
– But, as I said before, no firm would be so foolish as to alter their whole system of trade because of a resolution passed by one House.
– Those traders who are sending the proper number of matches in each box, will entail no loss in having new labels printed.
– But time is necessary. Honorable members not only desire to make what they think reforms, but, apparently, to make them instantly, altogether careless as to the effect on those who have been conducting the trade. A month’s delay will make no difference to the Commonwealth.
– Oh, yes it will.
– The Commonwealth does not desire to charge these duties, but only to secure an honest packing of boxes.
– I am informed by the Department that the moment this item was passed communication was made to the importers, in order that they might make arrangements to meet the altered circumstances.
– I am not aware of that. All I know is that those who have control of this business are not here, but at the other end of the world. I move -
That the modification “ but that the word September’ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word ‘ October,’ “ be added.
– In my opinion the new paragraph ought to be left just as it has been sent down by the Senate. I have no doubt that those manufacturers who have been supplying the proper number of matches are aware of what the Senate has been doing, and have taken care to see that their labels are all right. If we alter the date as proposed, we shall allow an extension of one month to those who have not been treating the public fairly.
– People do not know all over Australia what the Senate has been doing.
– If the honorable member were in business hewould take a keen interest in the proceedings of both branches of Parliament, especially when it was dealing with a Tariff. I am sure that he, like other honorable members, has received shoals of letters and circulars from interested persons.
– Not one.
– Then the honorable member is an exception. Not only have honorable members generally received shoals of letters concerning the Tariff, but the lobbies of Parliament House have been filled with manufacturers or their agents.
– They never bother me; at least very rarely.
– They must think that the honorable member is a hard case. I am in favour of keeping the new paragraph as it is, in order to benefit those who have been doing a fair thing by the public. If other manufacturers have nottaken the trouble to state the correct (number of matches in a box, they deserve to suffer.
– This amendment, affords another example of what happens to a Government when they begin to give way to the Opposition. If Ministers had done what I begged them to do, they would have fixed upon the 1st of August as the latest date for the first paragraph to come into operation. Had they taken that course, they would hot have found the members of the Opposition’ anxious to bring this paragraph into operation on the same date as the previous paragraph. It is pleaded that we should give to those who have not been putting a sufficient number of matches in their boxes further time to swindle the public. For that purpose we are asked to delay the operation of this paragraph for five months instead of four months, as requested by the Senate. I think that it was very liberal indeed in fixing upon the1st September as the date on which the new paragraph should come into force.
– I wonder at the honorable member making that statement if he has read new paragraph e.
– Order ! With the continuous noise which is going on it is imposible for me to follow the remarks of the honorable member. I hope that honorable members will cease talking in that way.
– I am not very particular about those who have made up their minds on this question. I have a duty to perform.
– So have we.
– In accordance with the suggestion of the honorable member for North Sydney I have read the new paragraph.
– Does not that apply to those who are acting honestly?
– Yes, but it also applies to those who are acting dishonestly. I ask the honorable member whether he desires to perpetuate the system of selling fewer matches than a box is supposed to contain ? .
– I want to give the honest fillers of boxes sufficient time in which to make their arrangements.
– I would give the others time if I had a chance, and it would not be five months either. It will be easy to make a provision in order to protect the honest merchant.
– Is not the honorable member aware that matches have to be carried in sailing vessels ?
– I realize that for insurance reasons matches are sent mostly by sailing vessels.
– Does not the honorable member think that he has said enough on the question of matches?
– I feel strongly on this matter, because I see that the Government are in a very precarious position. Apparently they are throwing over their supporters in order to placate honorable members on the other side.
– The honorable member is “ stone-walling.”
– Is that remark in order, sir?
– I ask the honorable member for Corangamite to withdraw that statement.
– With pleasure, sir.
– I also ask honorable members generally to cease this continuous conversation across the chamber. Mr. SALMON.- Had I received sufficient support I would have divided the Committee against the previous motion in order to protest against what I consider the weakness of the Treasurer.
Sitting suspended from 6.30to 7.45 p.m.
.-I trust that the Committee will not agree to the amendment proposed by the honorable member for North Sydney. This matter is quite different from that dealt with in paragraph d, which was only a question of new wording. In this case it is a question of imposing a new duty. I have been informed by the Department that, as soon as this proposal was carried in the Senate, the match importers communicated with the Department, and have made their arrangements to conform to it. They will practically have had six months by 1st September in which to do it. That ought to be long enough for them to make their arrangements for any alteration. This matter is in a different category from the previous one, because if they have been sending boxes which do not contain the correct number of matches-
– Some have been sending boxes containing the correct number.
– I know that. I am speaking only of those who have not. It is not right to defer the operation of this provision for another month simply because I agreed, at the instance of the honorable member for North Sydney, to defer the operation of the previous paragraph until 1st October next.
– I mentioned this when I was speaking then.
– The honorable member may have done so, but I did not hear him. Some honorable members do not agree with what I did in accepting the honorable member’s proposal in regard to the previous paragraph. Those who have not been properly filling their boxes will have only ‘ themselves to. blame. . They knew what the intention was, and have known it all through. They knew the feel- ing of the Senate, arid also that the amendment would be carried in this Chamber if possible.
– Iam not speaking for them. There are some who have been filling their boxes properly,’ and who will have to alter their labels.
– By the time this provision comes into operation, they will have had practically six months’ notice.
– Why not have the two paragraphs consistent?
– That consideration does not apply. The importers took action at once in this case. I believe they did so in the othercase as well, and if I had known as much as I have learnt since in regard to the previous paragraph, I do hot know that I should have agreed to give as much notice as has been given.
.- An extension of time to the1st October seems a most unreasonable proposal, because that will make five months altogether.
– The provision is not passed yet.
– Those concerned have already had notice from the Senate.
– Does the honorable member think that a firm like Bryant and May would alter the wording of all their labels simply’ because the Senate made a request, and before it was passed into law ?
– They might know very well that a recommendation like this would in all probability be accepted. If the matches are sent out by sailing vessels, how many of those vessels will take three months on the voyage?
– Most of them.
– Three months used to be considered a long passage in the beginning of the sixties. An extension of time to the 1st September will give four months’ grace, which is quite long. enough. If the difference is a little one to light’ over, why does the honorable member for North Sydney propose it at all?
– Because it gives them a chance.
Question. - That the word “ September,” proposed to be left out, stand part of the requested amendment - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … 9
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.
Requested amendment made.
Item 85. Mustard, including French Mustard, per lb. (General Tariff), 3d.
Request. - Make the duty (United Kingdom), 2d.
– I move -
That the requested amendment be not made.
It means a reduction of the duty from 3d. to 2d. per lb. I understand that it will be very injurious if that reduction is made.
.- The Treasurer’s statement that this is a proposal to reduce the duty from 3d. to 2d. is hardly accurate. It is a proposal to insert in the preference column a duty of 2d., leaving the general Tariff rate as it was before.
– And therefore reducing it by1d.
– It does not “reduce the general Tariff rate. It simply gives honorable members anopportunity of proving how sincere they are on the question of preference to the Old Country.
– I hope the Committee will not agree to the Senate’s request. The effect of its adoption would be to remove every vestige of protection from this particular industry. The Australian manufacturers of mustard are obliged to import mustard seed, because it is not produced in the Commonwealth.
– It is.
– Only in very small quantities. Practically the whole of the seed required for the manufacture of mustard in Australia has to be imported. We have already imposed a duty of1/2d. per lb. upon mustard seed, which was previously admitted free, and as it takes 2 lbs. of seed to make 1 lb. of mustard, it follows that the manufacturer’s cost of production has been increased to the extent of1d. per lb.
– It is absurd to say that 2 lbs. of seed are required to manufacture 1 lb. of mustard.
– My information was gained direct from a manufacturer. The gentleman who supplied it to me may be absolutely relied upon.
– Why, they add a lot of other material tothe mustard seed.
– I believe it to be an absolute fact that it takes 2 lbs. of mustard seed to manufacture 1 lb. of mustard. The duty on the mustard seed is therefore equivalent to1d. per lb. upon the manufactured article, and the proposal of the Senate, that we should extend a preference of1d. per lb. to Great Britain in addition, would have the effect of practically wiping out the protection afforded to this industry. I hope, therefore, that the Committee will refuse to agree to the request of the Senate. Mr. FAIRBAIRN (Fawkner) [8.5]. - I do hope that the Treasurer will not agree to the request of the Senate. In this case, the question of preference does not enter into consideration, because the value of the mustard imported from the United Kingdom is£41,445, whereasthe value of that imported from other countries totals only
– Those figures show that we can here grant the United Kingdom a substantial preference.
– They simply show that Great Britain already possesses the whole of the trade. . .
– Wewant her to have it. .
– It is perfectly hopeless to argue with the honorable member. Mustard seed - which is the raw material of this industry - was formerly admitted free, but under this Tariff it has been made dutiable at1/2d. per lb. As it takes 2 lbs. of seed to manufacture 1 lb. of mustard, it follows that the cost of production has been increased by1d. per lb. It is only fair, therefore, that we should increase the duty which was formerly operative upon the manufactured article from 2d. to. 3d. per lb. In other words, we should place the manufacturersin the same position that they formerly occupied. I trust that the Treasurer will stand to his guns.
.- I appeal to honorable members to reject the request of the Senate. . I hold that we should do our best to encourage small industries, such as mustard-growing and the cultivation of herbs, in which men upon small areas can succeed. If we wish to attract population, surely we must look after the interests of the man upon the 2-acre block as well as those of the individual upon the 2,000-acre block.
– How would the honorable member like to grow mustard seed upon a 2-acre block?
– As the honorable member is so dense, I may tell him. that when I said a 2-acre block I meant anything from a 2-acre block to a 100-acre block.
.- I understand that there is some principle of vital interest involved in the question of the duty upon mustard. Apparently the whole important principle of preferential trade rests upon it. The chief contention of the honorable member for New England was that small interests, demanded consideration if they were to thrive. If he applies that doctrine in the present instance, he must vote in favour of extending a preference to the United Kingdom. It has been shown that the imports of mustard from foreign countries are exceedingly small, and if the honorable member is prepared to encourage such imports by refusing to grant a preference to Great Britain, they will eventually assume quite as large dimensions as those from Great Britain.
– I am looking after Australia. The Britisher can look after himself.
– If honorable members are voting for preferential trade upon that principle, I have nothing more to say.
– The argument of the honorable member for Wentworth, in this case, completely falls to the ground, because the principle of preferential trade should be applied only in cases where the importations from Great Britain have been, or are likely to be, superseded by those from foreign countries. In the present instance, the United Kingdom already commands practically the whole of the trade, so that the principle of preferential trade is not involved.
Question - That the requested amendment, making the duty on mustard imported from the United Kingdom (item 85), per lb. 2d., be not made - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … . . . 20
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to. .
Requested amendment not made.
Item 86. Nuts, edible ….
Request. - Insert new paragraph aa - “ Coconuts, whole, for the manufacture of coconut oil and oil cake and other substances, under Departmental by-laws, free.”
– I move -
That the requested amendment be made.
In reference to the insertion of the word “ free,” it has been suggested that we should insert the words “ on and after 24th April.”I was under the impression that the resolution which the Committee passed last night would cover the matter.
– There is trouble about that resolution.
– A resolution to the same effect was passed after the Tariff had been dealt with in the case of the 1902 Tariff.
– Imay inform honorable members that I have taken the trouble to consult the Comptroller-General to-day in reference to the matter. He has taken advice, and has given me his opinion. The Comptroller-General’s opinion is that the resolution; passed last night is absolutely correct, and that there will be no trouble whatever. ‘ I have received the following memorandum from the ComptrollerGeneral -
The practice invariably followed has been to commence charging duty on any article directly the rate of such duty has been approved by the House of Representatives (and when under the States, by the lower House).
The position is no different when such rate has been fixed on a request or suggestion of the Senate. The reason why the House of Representatives fixes a rate does not affect the question. The latter, following constitutional practice, fixes the rate, whichis at once charged, unless expressly stated to the contrary in the resolution.
The position is the same as when an item is recommitted. The House, in the latter case, originally fixes a rate, which becomes immediately operative. The item is then recommitted, and (say) a new rate fixed. The latter then becomes operative at once.
The action in both cases, i.e., request by the Senate and recommittal by the House of Representatives, itself ; seems synonymous, and the practice should logically be the same in both cases, and, as a matter of fact, is so. The resolution passed last night, viz. - “ That the date of any amendment shall be the date of its being made by the Committee,” is a direction that the date of each amendment shall be inserted under each item amended, and thus will be in compliance with section5 of the Bill.
The schedule when thus completed is printed with the dates inserted, and on becoming law no legal question can arise on the point.
The position is not altered by the House of Representatives accepting any suggestion, with modifications.
I asked the Comptroller-General this morning to make the matter thoroughly clear.I know that he consulted the Crown Law officers, and he afterwards wrote the memorandum which I have read.
– I am afraid that the Treasurer has not caught the point of the criticism. The memorandum which he has read does not touch the difficulty that has been raised in relation to those duties which are fixed for a period ahead. The resolution which we passed last night reads-
That the date of any amendment shall be the date of its being made by the Committee ; not the date attached to any particular duty, but the date when the amendment is made by the Committee. That is the distinction. We have, therefore, passed a resolution which provides that a duty shall become operative the moment an amendment is made by the Committee.
– Unless it is otherwise stated.
– The resolution does not say so at all.
– That is what the Comptroller-General says.
– The ComptrollerGeneral cannot read into the resolution more than it states.
– I am satisfied.
– What is before the Committee ?
– The matter that I am dealing with is now before the Committee.
– We have not the slightest idea of what the question is.
– The position isthis : We are now engaged in fixing dates ahead as to when these duties shall become operative.
– We have not altered the last item.
– But the Minister is proposing to alter the one before us.
– No, I am not. Perhaps it was a mistake for me to read the Comptroller-General’s memorandum at all. The officers who are advising me did not know that I had consulted him in reference to the matter.
– The ComptrollerGeneral’s memorandum does not clear up the difficulty. What he says is quite right, where a duty is fixed to become immediately operative. The difficulty arises when we determine that the date when a duty shall be operative shall be, not immediately, but some time ahead. The governing resolution which we passed last night provides that the duty shall commence from the date of an amendment being made by the Committee ; not the date which is fixed bythe Committee, but the date of the amendment being made by the Committee. That is the difference. Immediately after passing that resolution, we proceeded in several cases to fix dates for the operation of duties’ three or six months ahead. What we are now doing is in direct conflict with the resolution we passed last night.
– The ComptrollerGeneral touches on that very point, and says that it is not so.
– He does not touch that point at all.
.’ - I think that the memorandum of the Comptroller-General which I have read is quite clear.
– A general direction would not override a particular statement as to the date when a duty is to come into operation.
– No, of course it would not. The resolution passed last night was thoroughly understood at the time to give the Clerk power to insert any words that were necessary, unless special words were’ inserted in connexion with an item. I think that the ComptrollerGeneral’s statement is perfectly clear.
Motion agreed to.
Requested amendment made.
Item 88. Oilmen’s Stores, n.e.i. . . .
Request. - Add the following new paragraph: “ (b) Invalids’ Diabetic Food, and also all other Invalids’ Foods not manufactured in the Commonwealth, as prescribed by Departmental By-laws, free.”
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to -
That the requested amendment be made, but that the words “ not manufactured in the Commonwealth, as “ be left out.
Requested amendment, as modified, made.
Requested amendment, in item 92 (Rennet), made.
Requested amendment, in item 93 (Pickles, Sauces, &c), not made.
Item 94. Rice, viz. : - , . .
Request. - Make the duty per cental 4s. 3d.
– The amendment requested by the Senate, in this case, would, if made, be attended by very serious consequences. With a duty of 3s. 4d. per cental on uncleaned rice, it would pay rice merchants to import cleaned rice under a duty of 4s. 3d. per cental rather than to import uncleaned rice at 3s. 4d. per cental and clean it here. One hundred pounds of uncleaned rice yields 70 lbs. of cleaned rice, the balance being waste and rice meal. The duty of 3s. 4d. per cental on uncleaned rice would, therefore, apply to the 70 lbs. of cleaned rice obtained from that quantity, and would be equal to 4s. 9d. on 100 . lbs. of cleaned rice, or 6d. per cental more than the Senate’s proposal in respect of imported cleaned rice. Another point is that it costs about1s. 3d. per cental to clean rice here. It is, therefore, important that the duty on the cleaned rice should be restored to 6s. per cental, to preserve the local industry of rice cleaning.. As soon as this amendment was requested by the Senate, persons engaged in the trade or connected with it pointed out to me that its acceptance would be attended by serious consequences. In the circumstances, it ‘ is my duty to urge the Committee not to agree to the request. I therefore move -
That the requested amendment be not made.
Motion agreed to.
Requested amendment not made.
Item 96. Salt-
Request. - Insert after “ Brown,” the words “Light Brown, Pink.” Make the duty (General Tariff), 20s. per ton; (United Kingdom), free.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the requested amendments be made.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 20
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Requested amendments made.
Requested amendment in paragraph b, item 96 (Salt), made.
Requested amendment in item 101 (Spices) not made.
Item 105. Tea -
Request. - That the weight of the packets be 5 lbs.
– The Senate in this case request that the weight of the packets be reduced from 20 lbs. to 5 lbs. The reason I fixed the weight at 20 lbs. in the first instance was to provide for a package which would be just under the weight of a quarter-chest of tea, so that there might be no opportunity afforded for an evasion of the intention with which this item was introduced. I should not object to fixing the weight at 19 lbs., but I do not agree to’ the request of the Senate, and. I therefore move -
That the requested amendment be not made.
– I congratulate the Treasurer ‘upon the very generous concession of 1 lb. in 20 lbs., which he announced his willingness to make in the reduction of the weight of packet tea subject to this duty.- I prefer the reduction suggested by the Senate. Honorable senators seem to have taken a reasonable view of this matter, and I regret that the Treasurer has moved that the requested amendment be not made. Really, there is no reason in the honorable gentleman; and I am afraid that we. must permit him to go his own way. So far as I am concerned, he can have the 1 lb. he offers. I do not want it.
– While professing to be opposed to such a course, I point out that honorable members, by agreeing to what the Treasurer proposes, will to a very considerable extent be imposing a duty on tea.
– ‘I think the honorable member is wrong. The duty would operate only if the packing were done elsewhere.
– The intention of the Committee in agreeing to the item originally was to insure that the packing of tea in i-lb. and J-lb. packets should be done in the Commonwealth. Some tea has always been imported to Australia in 10-lb. and “20-lb. boxes of wood lined. with lead. These are not ordinary packets, such as are the i-lb. and J-lb. packets, which it was intended to make dutiable if imported from abroad.
– Is it not a fact that the packing of tea in the boxes to which the honorable member refers is done to preserve its flavour? .
– Of course, the less tea is exposed the better. The trade done in packing tea in the Commonwealth is not affected by the importation of tea in these 10-lb. and 20-lb. boxes. The tea packed. in Australia is tea imported in bulk, in 40, 60, and 80-lb. chests. It is packed in i-lb. and J-lb. packets, and not generally in boxes containing 10 lbs. or 20 lbs.
– Did the Committee, when previously considering ‘the item, divide upon it?
– There was a division on the item, but - 1 do not know whether there was a division as to the weight of the packets. The 10-lh. and 20-lb. boxes of tea to which I refer will continue to be imported, because tea is re quired packed in that form. On that tea the consumers will have to pay the duty of id. per lb., so that we are really imposing a duty on tea, whilst professing that we have no wish to do so.
– Cannot tea be packed here in the weights to which the honorable member- refers ?
– We could also pack tea here in chests and half chests, but’ to impose a duty on tea imported in chests and half chests would be about the same as a universal duty upon tea.
– Tea is packed locally in packages of 14 lbs., ‘20 lbs., and 28 lbs.
– That is only a repacking of tea from chests into tins. The packages to which I refer are never made up here.
– Could they not be made up here?
– No; because in the first place we have not the material here. These packages are made up in’ China or India, in order to preserve the quality of the tea.
– The tea imported in the packages to which the honorable member refers does not reach the consumer in that form.
– It is because certain consumers require to get their tea in that form- that these packages are imported. In the country districts numbers of people get these 10-lb. and- 20-lb. boxes of tea.
– Packed in the country oforigin ?
– Yes. If the Minister refers to the Customs returns he will find that, even at the present time, a large quantity of tea is being imported in these 10-lb. and 20-lb. boxes.
– To fill orders that it was too late to cancel.
– No, but. in accordance with an established custom. What I have risen to point out is that, under this item, we are really imposing a duty on tea, and we might just as well extend the principle to tea imported in half chests and chests.
– Is it not true that Lipton, one of the largest tea merchants, has brought his packing machinery from Colombo to Sydney, with a view to packing tea in the Commonwealth, to evade the payment of duty under this item ? . .
– I am not aware of it.
– I believe it is a fact.
– I am not in a position to deny it, but I believe that it will be found that the intention is only do pack tea in1lb. and1/2lb, packets by machinery. The packages to which I have referred have been imported since this item was dealt with in this House, and will continue to be imported.
– They will not continue to be imported when they can be packed here, and I have said that one of the largest tea merchants has brought his packing plant from Colombo to Sydney for the purpose.
– Can the Minister assure me that it is the intention of Lipton’s firm to pack tea by machinery in the larger packages here, and not merely to pack it in1-lb. or1/2-lb. packets?
– I think the intention is to do the whole of the packing here.
– I think the Minister will find that he is wrong, because machinery is not used to pack teain 10-lb. and 20-lb. boxes, whilst it! can be used effectively for making up1/2-lb. and 1 -lb.’ packets. The reduction of the weight of the packages by 1 lb. is a very slight concession, and I repeat that under this item we are really imposing a duty on tea.
.- I hope that the Minister will adhere to his intention to fix 19 lbs. as the weight of the packet of tea liable to duty under this item. The honorable member for North Sydney has been misinformed when he says that the only packing business done here is the packing of tea in1/2-lb. and1-lb. packets, and that machinery is used only in putting up tea in packets of that size. Machinery is at present being used in putting up tea in 14-lb., 20-lb., and 28-lb. packets.
– By Edwards and Co., of Sydney, and Griffiths and Co., who do an enormous business in the importation and packing of tea.’ We know that tea packed in Ceylon and India is put up by slave and coloured labour; but we do not know what care is given to insure its cleanliness.
– Why do we drink tea?
– If the honorable member drank less, his temper might be better. I do not advocate excessive tea drinking. Too much tea is no better for one than too much beer. When I buy tea, I prefer that put upin tins by Australians, which I know to be properly cleaned.
– How is the tea cleaned ?
– It is put into large drums, one of which will hold a ton, and cleaned by being thoroughly shaken and fanned.
– Is it not blended in drums ?
– There is another drum for blending. It is possible that tea merchants may wish to import special teas in packages for blending, but importers of teas worth, perhaps, a guinea per lb., can well afford to pay a duty of1d. per lb. if they import if in packages. I am concerned only in protecting the interests of the general consumer, and that end is gained by allowing bulk teas to be imported free.
Question - That the requested amendment, making dutiable at1d. per lb. tea in packets not exceeding 5 lbs. (item 105) be not made - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Requested amendment not made.
– - I wished to substitute the figures 19 for the figures 20, but do not know quite how to do it now. I thought that the Chairman had understood that that was my desire.
– I may recommit the item for that purpose.
Item 106. Apparel and Attire - Woollen or Silk, or containing Wool or Silk, partly or wholly made up; including articles cut into shape.
Requests.- That the letters “ N.E.I.” be inserted after the words “Wool or Silk” ; that the letter “(a)” be inserted after the word “Attire,” line 1 ; and that the following paragraph he inserted : - “(d) Corsets, ad val. (General Tariff), 15 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), 10 per cent.”
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to-
That the requested amendment, inserting the letters “N.E.I.,” be made;
– I move -
That the requested . amendment, inserting the letter “(a)” be- made.
It must be understood that by this motion I do not . propose to agree to the insertion of paragraph (b), because that will need some modification before it can be accepted.
Motion agreed to.
Requested amendment made.
– I move -
That the requested- amendment, inserting paragraph (b) be made, but that the duties be ad val. (General Tariff), 20 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), 15 per cent.
Various statements have been made as to the relative cost of imported and manufactured corsets, and it has been almost impossible to’ arrive at any definite conclusion on the point. We have been informed that Australian corsets have been sold for £.4 4s., £4, 30s., and prices very much’ lower. I know that corsets have been made in Australia, but I am informed that, in the absence of an adequate duty, two manufacturing firms ‘have been compelled to close down in Sydney, and their premises are now in charge of bailiffs.
– What price were these firms making corsets for?
– For 3s. 6d., I think.
– I have my doubts !
– I have no doubt on the matter, because it was a lady who gave me the information. This is an industry which ought not to be allowed to die .out in Australia^ because, in* myopinion, we ought to be able to manufacture corsets as well as import them. What the prices of the imported article aire I cannot say, but I have been told that they run as low as 3s. 6d. Under the circumstances. I think the duties I have proposed as a modification of the Senate’s request are fair.
– How can the Treasurer say that, since he has told us he knows nothing of the subject?-‘
– It is true I do not wear corset’s, but I .have given honorable members the information I have on the matter. ‘ Mr. MALONEY (Melbourne) [9.18]. - I hope the Committee, will not agree to the motion of the Treasurer. If the honorable . gentleman had made any inquiries from ‘ officers of the Department, and others, he would have found that corsets, in the proper sense of the word, are not made in Australia. The so-called very low-priced corsets made here are really not corsets, but are what are known as “ ribbon band stays,” which any clever girl, with a certain machine, can make. Corsets, in the proper sense of the word, are the result of the labours of gene-, rations of workers, particularly in France, with which country this industry is most closely associated. I presume that the Treasurer refers to Mr. White, the manufacturer in Sydney, as having had to close his works. It has been said that Mr. White had a thriving industry, and, while I wish that were the fact; the newspapers of the last few days tell ‘ us that he has voluntarily sequestrate.d his estate.
– Because there is not an adequate duty.
– That is not the reason. Fashions change, and, as they change, the figures of women are moulded by the kind of corsets used. Four or five years ago there was a change in the fashion, and large stocks of the older sort were left in the various warehouses, and had to be got rid of somehow. Mr. White, I am credibly informed, purchased large quantities of those stays at a minimum of cost, and altered them for the market by removing the bones and steel, shortening them, and so forth. That was altering and mending, not making corsets. It was stated that something like 365 hands were employed in the factories in New South Wales, but that is absolute rubbish. In 1905, under a Tariff of 25 per cent., which”, with costs and charges* ran up to about 40 per cent., there were, four makers in Victoria, employing forty-four workers, and making stays at from £2 2s. to ,£15 15s. I am endeavouring to obtain a lower duty so that the wives and daughters of the workers will not be continually made to pay a higher price. With the active work which they do, their stays will not last so long as would higher-priced pairs made to order. They purchase stays at 2s. nd. The existing duty has raised that price to 3s. 6d. That class of article wears out very much quicker, owing to the amount of stooping necessitated by constant house work. I am perfectly certain that the average stays made by Madame Masseran will run to ^3 3s. or £4 4s., and up to £10 10s. and £12 12s. per pair, according to order. With suspenders added, the cost would be even more. It is impossible for the wife of a worker to obtain a garment of that kind. The makers of Such high-priced articles would not care if a duty of even ‘200 or 300 per cent, were imposed, because their customers would obtain them from them no matter what the duty was. I have a friend who has lived in England for the last eight years, and who still orders his boots from Collins-street simply because the Melbourne maker suits his requirements, and makes to his order. I was informed that Madame Masseran has clients travelling on the Continent who send to her for their stays, as she has their measure. In Bourke-street ribbon band stays can be purchased for is. 1 id., but they are simply bands of ribbon which any girl with a proper machine can make. They are not corsets. The making of corsets seems to have gone entirely into the hands of the French. America, ‘ when its population was 30,000,000, endeavoured to establish .the industry. It made no mistake about the duty, for it charged no less than 60. per cent. After considerable loss of time and money the industry was established when that wonderful increase of population that has distinguished America took place. It was aided by the quick transit between America and European ports, and by the natural acumen and ability of the American manufacturer, who will select his workmen from any part of the world, and take them to where he wants them. But when an American proprietary company endeavoured to start, and laid down .works and machinery at Plymouth, in England, they found the greatest difficulty in’ educating the supposed highly trained English workmen. It is acknowledged throughout the world that this work is a specialty, oftentimes running through generations of one family, and France seems to hold the key to it. When in Brisbane during the recent election, I made inquiries about the matter. The managing director of Messrs. Finney, Isles, and Co.,- a very large firm, who is a personal friend of my own, assured me that they made corsets only at from 35s. That gentleman is perhaps one of the keenest business men in Australia. He added’ that corsets used in surgery were made by them, some at a lower and some at a higher price. This duty is purely a revenue one, and I, as a protectionist, object to it. If there was a chance of these articles being manufactured here, I should vote for a protective duty. If the Government honestly intend to encourage the industry, they should start a Government factory, and then, people would know that the prices would be according to sample. The Treasurer cannot look, rae in the eyes and say that this is anything but a revenue duty.
– Yes, it is.
– If America, with a population of 30,000,000, could not make the industry a success until the population increased still further,’ and skilled workmen were brought over, how can the honorable member expect it to succeed in Australia, with only 4,000,000 people? I ask him to avoid any -further delay by accepting the Senate’s request. Although I think that these articles ought to be admitted free, I am willing to accept that as a compromise.
– - I thought that the Treasurer, out of his kindness of heart, would concede this point. But I see that he is still a bar of iron, or a Roman father, and will not give in. I may be charged with slipping on stays. The moment a protectionist objects to a duty, he is told that he is slipping. I agree with the honorable member for Melbourne, that this is simply a revenue duty. I should like to make these articles free, but I’ will not risk taking that step. The corsets manufactured here are high priced. I am certain that the Treasurer has been misinformed in regard to a firm in Sydney, making them for 3s. 6d. The whiteworkers of Australia are paid low enough as it is. In this trade they must be paid still lower at those prices, out of which it would be impossible, considering the amount of work that would have to be done, to pay a living wage. Seeing that there is no ‘possibility of the greater number of these articles being manufactured here, the Committee should agree to -the Senate’s request. Honorable members who are protectionists cannot possibly be charged with abandoning protection by taking that course, because this is. simply a revenue, and not a protective, duty.
.- I know very little about this subject, and, therefore, I speak with the greater freedom. I hope the Treasurer will see his way to agree to the Senate’s request. The increase which he proposes is somewhat trivial.
– If it is trivial, why bother to oppose it?
– Why not agree with the Senate where we can without any loss of prestige or advantage to ourselves? I feel sure that, with a little judicious pressing, the Treasurer will see the advisability of acceding to the Senate’s request.
– In the interests of Madame Masseran ?
– It will certainly be in the interests of the masses. T think that, for the sake of those who have to wear the lower priced articles, the duties should be fixed at 15 and 10 per cent.
.- There is one point which I* should like to impress upon the Treasurer, and that is - that my proposal concerns one out of every two .voters in the Commonwealth.
.- I am rather loth to support the Senate in this matter ; but my free-trade ‘ principles compel me to do so. I consider that corsets are the most diabolical atrocities that have ever been foisted upon suffering womanhood.
– The honorable member knows nothing of what he is talking about.
– I believe that medical testimony would indorse my statement. I should like the health authorities to’ take up this matter, but until they’ do I am afraid that it does not lie with members of this Parliament to put themselves in antagonism, as the honorable member has reminded us, with one-half of the voters. Since the women are determined to have these articles, there is a good deal in the argument that the poorer women in the community should be afforded . an opportunity to get them as cheaply as they can.
– If my motion be not carried, sir, shall I then be in a position to ask the Committee to accept the Senate’s- request?
– In the event of this modification being rejected, it will be open to the Committee to accept the request or to reject it.
– Does that mean, sir, that if the proposition of the Treasurer be rejected, we can deal with the request?
Question - That the requested amendment inserting paragraph b be modified by making the duties ad val. (General Tariff) 20 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), 15 per cent.- resolved in the negative.
Requested amendment made’.
Item 107. Apparel and Attire, n.e.i., for the human body, partly or wholly made up, made of any material not containing wool or silk, including materials cut into shape therefor, ad val. (General Tariff), 40 per cent. ‘; and on and after 7th November, 1907, 35 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), 35 per cent.j and on and after 7th November, 1907, 30 per cent.
Request. - Make the duties (General Tariff) 40 per cent. ; (United Kingdom) 35 per cent.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the requested amendment be made.
– In this Chamber, the Treasurer agreed to the duties of 35 and 30 per cent., but in the Senate he set his colleague to work to undo that to which he had agreed here. After an unsuccessful attempt on my part to reduce the original duties of 40 and 35 per cent, to 25 per cent, the Committee, at the instance of the honorable member for Melbourne, agreed to duties of 35 and 30 per cent. That proposal was agreed to by the Treasurer without a division.
– Yes, because I could not get any more.
– I think that it was disgraceful for the honorable gentleman to. agree to a proposal in this Cham’ber, leading us to believe that he was in concurrence with us, and then behind our backs to undo what we did through the agency of a Minister elsewhere. That is a disgraceful proceeding on the part of a responsible Minister.
– I- never spoke to my colleagues in another place about the matter.
– It was not necessary.
– The Treasurer agreed to a compromise in this House.
– Not in the sense in which the honorable member uses the term.
– The .Treasurer did not raise his voice against that compromise. He- allowed it to pass without division.
– I knew beforehand what the result of the division would be.
– The result ought to be. the same now. I do not wonder at the newspapers girding at our party system of Government, when they see this kind of trickery and deception practised in connexion with. it. Sir William Lyne. - I rise to a point of order. I object to the honorable member using the word “ trickery.”
– As the Treasurer regards the use of that word as objectionable, the honorable member must withdraw it.
– If it is unparliamentary, I withdraw it. The Treasurer has already told us that he agreed to certain compromises in this House, but that, in another Chamber, through the mouth of his colleague, he secured their alteration.
– I only let certain proposals pass here, because I did not wish to waste time by calling for divisions upon them,
– Then the Treasurer ought to have had the manliness to have told the Committee that.
– The honorable member should not talk about manliness.
– I ought not in the Treasurer’s presence. For one Minister to deliberately undo the work done in another Chamber by his colleague, with that colleague’s concurrence, is without precedent in the history of responsible government. It is a piece of deception, such a» I hope will not be indulged in again. I trust that the Committee will give the Treasurer his answer to-night by reverting to the duties which were agreed to in this Chamber.
– More than once the honorable member has used language in regard to myself for which he knows perfectly well there is no justification whatever. Honorable members are aware that when the Tariff was under consideration in this House there were dozens of occasions upon which I did not divide the Committee, because I knew that I could not get the duties that I desired. At the same time, I did not concur in the’ decisions arrived at, and I repeatedly said so. Did ‘the honorable member imagine for one moment, that ‘the Tariff was to be forwarded from this Chamber to another, and the work which had been done here was to be destroyed by the members of his party, whilst the hands of Ministers were to be tied ? He is taking an absolutely one-sided view of this matter. In regard to this particular item,. I knew nothing whatever about the intention of the Senate to increase the duty upon it until after it had been increased. I never spoke to my colleagues in the other Chamber about it.
– I challenge the Treasurer to cite a case in which the Opposition in the Senate departed from any acknowledged compromise.
– I challenge the honorable member to find a man who will make the statements that he so frequently makes, positively without any justification.
– I say that the Treasurer did a disgraceful thing.
– Is the Government to stand quietly by and see the Tariff wrecked? If the Senate desires to request increases of duty in respect of certain items, has it not a right to do so?
– Why had not the Treasurer the manliness to state his intentions ?
– The request for this increase was not moved by any member of the Government, and yet it was carried by fifteen votes to nine.
– It was supported by the members of the Government.
– Precisely . But the members of the honorable member’s party in another place supported every re-, quest for a reduction of duty.
– That is absolutely incorrect.
– They supported almost every reduction. If a private member in another place submitted a request for an increase of duty which Ministers thought they should support, why should not they be at liberty to support it ? So far as I am concerned, I never upon one occasion agreed to a duty upon an item here, which was afterwards interfered with by Ministers, in the Senate. Honorable members know the difficulty that I experienced in piloting the Tariff through this Chamber, and they know that’ when I found it was not possible to secure the duties which I desired, I had to bow to the inevitable. . But I did not concur in the decisions arrived at.
– Later on I shall show the Treasurer that he did agree to this compromise, and actually suggested it.
– I resent the accusation that I connived by trickery to get duties agreed to here, -and afterwards used my influence to secure their alteration in another place. That statement is absolutely without foundation.
– But the Treasurer hoped to effect ‘.in alteration in the Senate.
– The “honorable member is not going to catechise me.
– Iti is just as well for the Treasurer to “ storm “ and to ignore f nets *
– I hope that. the request of the Senate will be agreed to.
– I am afraid that honorable members are entering upon a discussion of what took place in another Chamber. The honorable member for Parramatta made certain references to that’ question, and I permitted the Treasurer to reply, but I hope that honorable members will not attempt to canvas the doings of another place. It would certainly be unwise for us to come into conflict with the other Chamber.
– I wish to refer to ohe statement made by the Treasurer which was most unjustifiable. I challenge him to cite a single instance in which the leader of the Opposition in another place departed from a compromise which was arrived at here.
– The honorable member must not discuss that matter.
– I wish to go no further than that. I defy the Treasurer to point to a single instance of the kind.
– He voted for almost every reduction.
– He agreed to every compromise that was arranged in this Chamber.
– They were not arranged.
– Later on I shall point out items in respect to which the Treasurer himself proposed compromises from which his colleagues in another .place departed. I shall prove that, by reference to Hansard. Meanwhile I protest against the way in which the Treasurer has acted in agreeing to compromises here, with ‘ the reservation in his mind that in another place he would secure their alteration.
– That statement is ‘ not correct.
– The Treasurer himself practically admitted it yesterday. It is idle for him to bluster and fume about it.’ . …
– I did nothing of the kind.
– The Treasurer admitted it yesterday.
– Upon a previous occasion this question was decided^ in comparatively a full Committee, and it is to be regretted, that an attempt should be made in rather a thin Committee to upset the decision which was then arrived at. I do not think that any useful purpose is to be served by obstructing the passage of this item, because, as honorable members all know, we shall have an opportunity of seeking the recommittal of it at a later stage. I think that we require a full Committee to determine whether an honorable understanding ought, to be departed from. I do not think that such a. departure is ‘ one which the Committee will tolerate.
– There has been no departure of any kind.
– I have listened carefully to’ the Treasurer. I always give him full credit for his innocence of purpose. But I think that after the statement which he made yesterday, and the statement which he has made to-day, every member of this Committee will regard anything in the nature of an acceptance by the Government of any proposal put from the Chair with considerable suspicion. Whatever view the Minister may submit, I understood the arrangement made to be a compromise.
– The honorable member’s understanding does not surmount everything.
– I wish I could say as much for my honorable friend. He has a happy means of arriving at omniscience which is not open to others ! The question is one which must be decided in a full Committee, and if the item is passed now, an opportunity will be sought of recommitting it at a later stage.
– I do not see the honorable member for Melbourne in his place, nor am I aware of whether he intends to support his own proposal,which was not resisted by the Treasurer on the former occasion. I point out to the Minister that after the decision in question was arrived at, we passed various other duties ; and having reduced the duty on apparel and attire by 5 per cent., it was represented that we should make alterations in those other duties in keeping with that reduction. We did so. Now the desire is to disturb entirely the relationship between the duties.
– I understand that this request was made in another place mainly to bring the duties into line.
– But the Minister must remember that after we had reduced this duty it was urged as a reason why we should pass other items at particular rates, that this reduction had been made.. Therefore we are now asked to go back on what we did at the Minister’s request. We are asked to change this duty and to leave the other duties as they are.
– The request was made by the Senate to a large extent with the object of bringing the duty into unison with other duties.
– The Minister must recognise that what I have said is true.
– The Senate have a right to bring the duties into accord. Of course, the honorable member will do anything to get a reduction.
– I might say that the Treasurer will do anything to get an increase of duty ; but what is the use of saying things like that? I do not know whether the Committee is prepared to alter this duty after accepting the rate agreed upon previously on the motion of an honorable member sitting opposite. At all events, I shall give honorable members an opportunity of expressing their view, by calling for a division and voting against the proposed increase of duty.
– Something has been said about a compromise, or arrangement entered into. Personally, I am not aware of any compromise.
– Hear, hear.
– I never heard of it before, and I am not going to be bound by any arrangement of the sort.
– There was no compromise.
– The fact of a certain duty having been carried in this Chamber
– Accepted without a word of protest.
– I do not know that the Minister did accept it.
– It was agreed to on the voices.
– The fact is on record.
– Of course,and many other things are on record. I did not challenge the decision, because I knew that it was of no use to divide the Committee.
– Many duties are carried on the voices, which are not assented to by those who know that they are in a minority. On this occasion a great deal has been made out of a very small matter. I am not going to be bound by the socalled compromise. I knew nothing about it at the time.
– Not going to be bound by a decision to which the honorable member agreed?
– I say that I did not agree to it.
– There was no vote; the honorable member allowed the duty to go without challenge. Consequently, he did agree.
– The honorable member may have his own opinion about that, but I have seen him more than once voting against a proposal to which he had previously agreed. .
– The honorable member has a perfect right, as a private member, to vote as he pleases, but the Minister is. in a different position.
– As a private member, I am not going to. be bound by the socalled compromise. A great deal too much has been made of what has been done in this regard. I was sorry to hear the strong, . and, I think, the unjustiable language which has been used. The honorable member for North Sydney has said something with respect to certain duties being subsequently fixed so as to harmonize with the duty adopted in connexion with this item. I am assured, on very good authority, that one of the principal considerations that: induced a very large majority in the Senate to adopt the suggestion sent down by us, was the wish to secure greater harmony. That decision was arrived at by a majority of fifteen to nine.
– Not as large as the majority in this Chamber.
– It was nearly a two to one decision. I believe that the most potent factor which actuated the majority in another place was the desire to make this duty harmonize with other duties which had been carried. As a matter of fact, the duties of 35 and 30 per cent, did not harmonize with the other duties which had been carried by this Chamber. I have it on very good authority that that was the view of the Senate.
– Order. I must ask the honorable member not to discuss that matter.
– I beg pardon, sir. I shall not pursue the point. But I do want to assure honorable members that those who are most competent to judge assure me that the re-arrangement suggested by another place will cause greater harmony between the various’ duties relating to textiles, than would the duties as they previously stood.
– That was the reason given.
– Those engaged in business hold also that opinion. Under our present system, cases have to be broken open, and importers are put to a great deal of trouble, and to loss in some instances. If the duty were carried as suggested by another place, this trouble would not be necessary, since all the duties would be on the same level.
– To what other duties does the honorable member refer?
– I refer to the other duties on textiles. That being so, I suggest that it would be wise to accede to the request; and, personally, I shall support it.
– I do not desire to enter into the somewhat heated controversy which has arisen as to whether there has been an actual breach of faith in this matter or not. But I have a pretty clear recollection of what actually took place on the occasion in question. As honorable members will recollect, for some days before the vote took place on this very important item there was a good deal of discussion amongst honorable members on all sides, as to the rate of duty which should ultimately be adopted. Some were in favour of a duty of 35 per cent. ; some favoured 30 per cent., and some 25 per cent. It was understood that, in any case, the Government proposals would be reduced.
– Not with the consent of the Government.
– I was about to say that I do not think the Government made a public statement to that effect in, at all events, the early stages of the debate. My recollection is that the honorable member for Melbourne moved - and Hansard shows that he did - that the duty in the general column be reduced to 35 per cent. The honorable member for Parramatta then moved, as a prior amendment, that the duty be reduced to ‘25 per cent. That proposal, after being debated, was lost by a majority of seven. The honorable member for Corangamite then moved that the duty be 30 per cent., and’ my recollection is that it was at that point that honorable members were given to understand that if they would agree to. the duty under the general . Tariff being reduced to 35 per cent., the Government would not oppose the reduction. No public statement was made to that effect, but I have a clear recollection that there was such an understanding.
– Probably that was correct, because the Government could not induce the Committee to agree to a higher rate.
– I have a clear recollection that certain honorable members on this side of the House, who had previously intimated their intention of supporting the amendment moved by the honorable member for Corangamite, on finding that the Government were willing to agree to a duty of 35 per cent., voted against his amendment. The honorable member for Wimmera was among the number. I must confess that I do not remember any
Minister stating that the Government were prepared to accept a reduction to 35 per cent., but such an impression got abroad, and my recollection is fortified by the fact that immediately after the amendment moved by the honorable member for Corangamite had been lost, a proposal that the duty under the general Tariff be reduced to 35 per cent, was agreed to on the voices. If the Treasurer admits that that is correct, then I think that the honorable member for Parramatta has a very strong case in asking the Government not” to agree to the Senate’s request.
– The honorable member would always think that the honorable member for Parramatta had a strong case against me.
– I do not think that I can be accused of unfairness in that respect. If the facts are according to my recollection, it would be very improper to attempt to go behind what honorable members were certainly given to understand was the intention of the Government, and an intention on which, they acted.
– Would the honorable member suggest the alternative that the Treasurer should have informed the Committee that the Government intended to ask the Senate to request that the old duty be restored.
– It would have been a manly course to take.
– I did not intend to do so.
– If the Government had such an intention-
– I had at the time no such intention.
– If it was the intention of the Government to ask the Senate to request this House to restore the old duty, they should have intimated that intention and have called for a division.
– I had not the slightest intention or thought at the time of doing so.
– We can determine what were the honorable gentleman’s thoughts only by his actions.
– Then the honorable member now says that he will not accept my word. I cast back that statement, and say that I do not believe his word.
– I am not bound to say whether I believe, or do. not believe, the honorable member’s words; I say that I judge his intentions only by his acts. It was undoubtedly conveyed to the minds of many honorable members who voted as I did that the Government would accept a reduction of the duty to 35 per cent., as proposed by the honorable member for Melbourne, as a compromise between the various conflicting views.
.-I propose to refer, not to any understanding entered into, but to the fact that it is not in accord with the spirit of the Constitution for the Treasurer to support any request by the Senate to increase duties passed by this House. The Constitution not only provides that the Senate may not amend Bills dealing with taxation, but contains an express provision against its so amending any Bill as to increase a burden or charge upon . the people. The Senate is entitled to make suggestions, but we should have some ruling for our guidance. Taking the wording of the Constitution for my guidance, I think it is almostincumbent upon the Treasurer to ask the Committee to refuse to agree to requests by the Senate for increased duties. Only a Minister may propose these additions. Take the case of a State having twenty or twenty-five representatives in this House, eighteen or nineteen of whom are free-traders. Is the will of the people of that State expressed by those eighteen or nineteen representatives in this House, or by two or three of their representatives in another place? It would be absurd if the rates of duty were to be determined by the views of three or four members of another place, who cannot possibly represent the masses of the people of the larger States: In imposing Customs duties, we are dealing with matters affecting the people in the mass. These views certainly influence me. We are entitled, having regard to section 53 of the Constitution, to pay a good deal of respect to requests by the Senate that duties be decreased ; but there is an express prohibition against the Senate so amending Bills as to increase a burden or charge upon the people. Taking that as my guide as to what requests we ought to accept, I think we should vote against every request to increase the duties in the schedule as passed by this House.
.- The proposal to restore the duty under the general Tariff to 40 per cent, would not be in keeping with the duty under the general Tariff on item 106, which the Government proposed should be 45 per cent. The duty under the general Tariff, on item 106, was reduced from 45 per cent, to 40 per cent., and to 35 per cent, in the case of imports from the United Kingdom. A corresponding reduction of 5 per cent, in the duties under item 107 was then made.
– And also because there were higher import duties on woollens.
– Quite so. By that reduction the difference proposed by the Government between the duties on items 106 and 107 was preserved. There is no doubt that the Government agreed to that arrangement, and I certainly think it is unprecedented for the Government to have one opinion in this House and another in the Senate. I also agree with the honorable member for Angas that it is monstrous that we should be considering requests by. the Senate for increased duties. I arguedthis point yesterday, and I think that the honorable member for Angas has strengthened my contention. The honorable member has discussed the question raised by me from another and very important point of view. Allowing that the Senate has the right to submit requests for increases of the burdens of the people - which I do not admit for a moment, although Mr, Speaker has ruled that the Senate has. that right - there is no reason whatever why this House should accept such requests. ‘ Honorable members of this House should maintain its privilege to alone possess the right to impose burdens upon the people. .
– Why did not the honorable gentleman object to the Speaker’s ruling?
– It has not been my custom hitherto, and I shall not begin now, to question a ruling of the Speaker.
– The honorable gentleman is doing so now.
– I am merely expressing my personal opinion. Perhaps the honorable member for Bass will give expression to his directly if he has any. Admitting that the Senate has the right to submit requests for increases of duties, I submit that this House will be foregoing its rights and privileges if it agrees to any requests by the Senate for increases of the burdens on the people.
– I rise to a point of order. Is the honorable gentleman in order in discussing in the way he is doing the powers of the Senate in this matter after the ruling given by the Speaker yesterday ?
– I point out that in Committee weare not supposed to know what is done in the House. The right honorable member for Swan has been quite in order in what he has said.
– I submit that this House should’ maintain its rights and privileges as the only body entitled to impose increased burdens on the people. - I am surprised at the action taken by the Government in ignoring the right of this House to be the sole’ authority invested with the power to impose burdens on the people.
Question - That the requested amendment making the duties (General Tariff) 40 per cent. (United Kingdom) 35 per cent, (item 107) be made - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Requested amendment made.
Requested amendment in item 108 (Apparel and Attire - Articles n.e.i.), made.
Item 113. Bags; Sack’s, Packs and Bales for Bran, Chaff, Compressed Fodder, Potato, Onion, Ore, Coal, arid Wool; also Sugar Mats and Corn and Flour Sacks, free.
Request.- Insert “Sugar” before the word “ Corn.”
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the requested amendment be made.
. -I should like the Minister to move the insertion, after the word “ flour,” of the words “ salt, gypsum, and manure.” That would allow of the free importation, not of bags, which are made in the Commonwealth, but of sacks, which are imported. There was some confusion in regard to the matter, and the Minister agreed to have things set right in the Senate. But that was not done. It is impossible to prevent the use as salt, gypsum, and manurebags, of corn sacks, which can be imported free, and therefore we might as well allow sacks to be imported specifically for such use.
– I support the honorable member’s request. I am sure that the Committee does not wish to do an injustice, and. therefore point out that manure imported in bags is admitted free, including the bags. As no protection is given to the local manufacturers of manure, they should not be put on a worse footing than the importers by being made to pay duty on their bags.
.- My recollection is that the decision come to by the Committee on this matter was a deliberate one.
– That was in regard to bags, not sacks.
– The point is that it is desirable that sacks should be made here.
– Then why not corn sacks and sugar sacks as well?
– I should be ready to vote against the free admission of sugar sacks. In my opinion, too many things which can be made here are being admitted free.
– As we have allowed other bags to be admitted free, why not sugar bags?
– I admit that there is no good reason for differentiating at this stage.
.- When the item was first dealt with, a vote was come to hurriedly, and next morning it was found that a mistake had been made, and that the decision of the Committee was likely to injure those engaged in the manufacture of bags. Consequently there was a recommittal, and an alteration was made.
– It was intended to make the alteration in respect’ to bags, not in respect to sacks.
– Samples were shown here, and no one could tell the difference.
– It was said that there was no objection to the free admission of sacks, though the free admission of bags was objected to.
– We should adhere to our decision, and not make the amendment requested by’ the Senate.
– I rise to a point of order. The proposal of the honorable member for Boothby-
– No proposal is before the Chair.
– I submit that effect cannot be given to the honorable member’s suggestion. The Senate has powerto request by message the omission or amendment of any item or provision, and the House of Representatives may, if it thinks fit, make or refuse to make any such omission oramendment, with or without modification. The proposal to insert a number of articles not referred to in the Senate’s request is not within the power of the Committee or indeed this House to consider.
– I was going to raise a similar point. The only amendment’ requested by the Senate is the insertion of the word “sugar,” and I contend that we should confine ourselves to the consideration of that request.
– I understand that the honorable member for Boothby has asked the Minister to made a modification, in view of an understanding that the matter would be rectified in the Senate.
– He cannot do that.
– I doubt if he can do it in the way suggested ; but in considering a request for an amendment we can operate on the request as we could operate on an amendment.
– Any modification must be relevant.
– Yes; and I admit thatthe proposed modification may not be relevant. I do not know, however, whether it might not be relevant to operate on the suggestion by proposing the omission from the word “ sugar “ of all the letters following the initial “ S,” with a view to insert in lieu thereof the letters “ alt.”
. –In order to test the matter,’ I move -
That the modification “But that the words Salt, Gypsum and Manure ‘ be- inserted after the word ‘ Flour ‘ “ be added.
In the first instance, salt, ‘ gypsum, and manure bags and sacks were made free. Then the local bag manufacturers got to work, and on it being shown that bags were made in Australia, the decision was reversed. On the second recommittal; the Committee unfortunately confused bags with sacks, which are not made here, and that being pointed out, the Government agreed to. have, an alteration made in the Senate.
– But there is .a duty on the material.
– But sacks are quite a “different matter. At the first division, when this matter was previously before us, the item, including salt, gypsum, and manure bags, was carried in the form in which it appears. The next day it was struck out, but, instead of being struck out altogether, the word “ sacks “ should have taken the place of “ bags.” That was desired by the Committee, and by the bagmakers, who had no objection to offer in reference to the sacks, but took exception particularly to the small hessian and calico bags. If you, Mr. Chairman, rule that this modification cannot be moved, we shall have to see whether it cannot be made on recommittal.
– I merely wish to refer to the point of order which has been raised, as it is rather important in the relation of one House to the other. I should be very sorry to urge the Committee to adopt any rule that would unduly curtail our powers. On the other hand, we may be in danger of adopting a rule which would place it in the hands of the Senate, by making some small suggestion, to give us a power of review which the Constitution would not give us if the Senate had not made such a suggestion. The point raised by the right honorable member for Swan is not only important, but I see no answer to it at the present time. The request which comes from the Senate is to include sugar sacks with a number of other sacks in the free list ; and all we can do is set forth in the following words in the Constitution -
And the House of Representatives may,’ if it thinks fit, make any of such omissions or amendments, with or without modification.
We can make the amendment which the Senate requests, or decline to make it, or, if we make it, it may be with modification. The essence of the request is that one particular article shall be included in this particular free list. Could it De said to be a modification if we replied, “Yes, we will include sugar sacks, but we will also include a lot of other articles?” In the next item, for example, there are words “ Blankets (except of Rubber), Blanketing Flannels,” and so forth. In that item the Senate suggests that the words “ whether plain, fancy or printed “ shall be inserted after “ Flannels.”
– The range is greater in that case. .
– It is only a question of degree. Could we say “Yes, we accept that suggestion; but we propose to strike out the words “(except of Rubber)” ? It could not be suggested that we could take such a step. If we could, it would mean that any amendment, no matter how trifling, suggested by the Senate, . would throw open . to us the discussion of everything included in the item, whether relevant to the particular suggestion, or whether a modification of it or not.
– Would the honorable member suggest that the striking out of the words “ except of Rubber “ presents a parallel case?
– I say it is an extreme case, but we test principles by extreme cases. If the request of the Senate would enable us to include gypsum and manure sacks, it would also entitle us to alter the whole free list and include anything or everything.
– The words “except of Rubber “ seem to me almost consequential, and not to present so extreme a case as the one we are considering now.
– Perhaps,’ that is so, but it is only a difference in degree. It would be rather dangerous to say that the Senate’s suggesting an amendment, no matter how insignificant, in any part of the item, gives us the power to re-open a matter which, without such a suggestion, has been absolutely closed.
– Anything cognate to sugar sacks could be added- by us.
– Yes; for instance, even in other items, there might be matters affected by the introduction of the suggested word; and I should say that we would be quite at liberty to deal with them.
– For instance, we might provide for sugar sacks made of a certain material.
– Quite so; we rmm look at the essence of the request, and not at the mere form. If the Senate submits a suggestion, it is open to us to consider it, and make what we may regard as legitimate consequential amendments.
– Suppose,, for instance, we provided for sugar sacks used for gypsum or manure.
– Such an amendment might be held to be relevant. Without going into the merits of the proposal, of which I know nothing, it seems to me a rather - dangerous precedent to enable the Senate, by request, to give us certain powers we would not otherwise possess.
– There is not only the’ question of relevancy to be considered, but also the well-known parliamentary rule that this Chamber may not revert to any item which has been agreed to by both Houses.
– We can modify any amendment the Senate suggests.
– Yes, but we cannot introduce new matter in regard to which the Senate has sent no request. This House has already decided to exclude the other kinds of sacks, and in .that decision the Senate has concurred, and, therefore, I submit that we cannot re-open the matter.
– As an illustration, if we included other items, they could be sent back to us with further suggested amendments.
– Yes, and thereby re-open a whole range’ of subjects which have, by parliamentary rule, been closed. There must be some finality, and all wc do must be in reference to what the Senate has actually, done, which,’ in this instance, has been to exclude every other kind of sack except sugar sacks. This is more than a matter of relevancy. It involves the wellknown parliamentary rule, which has existed since time immemorial, and without which there would be no finality, to our debates, or to the consideration of any subject as to which differences of opinion existed. What the honorable member desires would be equivalent to the Senate initiating taxation, which they cannot do. The President of that Chamber ruled distinctly upon that point. He would not permit to be made any requests that would have th, effect of initiating taxation.
– In the next request they do initiate taxation.
– ‘ That is an article which has been covered by some other item in the Tariff. The President laid down the rule that new items could not be introduced in the Senate. Their power consists in requesting amendments on items which we have submitted to them.
– look at request No. 36. They have initiated .a new proposition there.
– The honorable member will find that that is not a new item.
– They have added saddle’ bag.
– Saddlebag was somewhere else in the Tariff. The honorable member cannot find salt, gypsum, and manure sacks anywhere else in- the Tariff, and therefore the proposal of the honorable member for Boothby would be actually introducing new items which it had already been decided by both Houses to exclude from the schedule. If we do that we shall never reach finality. The point raised by the honorable member for Swan is a good one, and must stand as against the contention of the honorable member for Boothby.
– I do not pretend to be an authority upon constitutional law or procedure, but I wish to appeal to the Treasurer to remedy an injustice which has certainly been , done to the manure manufacturers. There is no duty upon their finished product, and they have to pay a duty on their bags. ‘ Other industries, which enjoy the benefit of heavy duties, have free bags. I ask the Treasurer to consider this line of industry,’ and if there is any method by which he can put these sacks on the freelist to adopt it.
– I have listened carefully to the discussion on the point of order. ‘ lt has only confirmed the opinion that I held previously. If I were ‘to allow,, in an item, like this, general amendments such as that suggested by the honorable member for Boothby, we should practically open up the whole Tariff for discussion again. The amendment requested by the
Senate is the insertion of the word “ sugar “ in relation to the word “ sacks.” It would be quite in order for an amendment to be moved in this Chamber to provide that they should be 50-lb. sacks - I understand that they are now 75-lb. sacks - or that they should be made of some particular kind of material. But it would be distinctly out of order, and be creating an entirely new item not relevant to the requested amendment, to include salt, gypsum, and manure sacks, as the honorable member for Boothby proposes. I rule that the honorable member’s amendment is not in order.
Question - That the requested amendment making sugar sacks free (item. 113) be made - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Requested amendment made.
House adjourned at 10.54 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 23 April 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1908/19080423_reps_3_45/>.