3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Mr. MATHEWS presented a petition from sixty one users of kerosene oil engines in Victoria, praying the House to make the amendment requested by the Senate, requiring kerosene and other re- fined petroleum oils n.e.i. imported free to have a flash point of. not less than 97 degrees Fahrenheit according to the AbelPensky close test.
Petition received and read.
Mr. MATHEWS presented similar petitions from seventeen users of kerosene oil engines in New South Wales and from 686 in South Australia.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to the following statement by Professor Allen, reported in to-day’s Age, in which, alluding to the registration of persons whom some have termed as licensed to kill and privileged to murder- a very true description, I should say, in this case - he said -
The gentleman whose case had been cited came to the Melbourne University as a single subject man in 1905. He had never matriculated, had never passed the University’s examinations in English, Latin, &c. - subjects that were postulated in the matter of medical training ; and whatever work he did in Melbourne could count for nothing in their University. He had been just eighteen months at the Melbourne University, and none of the work he had done would count at tie University for the medical degree. After that eighteen months’ course he proceeded to America, and returned in July, 1907, with the degree of M.D., Boston. (Laughter.) The total from the beginning in Melbourne was two years and less than six . months, and yet the Medical Board had no option but to register him.
In answering the question I should like the honorable and learned gentleman to bear in mind the provision of section 51 of the Constitution, under which, perhaps, something may be done to protect the people from unqualified medical practitioners.
– I have not read the statement, because, as the control of the medical profession is wholly within the jurisdiction of the. States, I am happily relieved of responsibility. No doubt the case demands the attention which, from a professional point of view, the honorable member has given to it.
– Has the PostmasterGeneral any information to give concerning the negotiations with the State Government for an exchange in connexion with a site for a post office at Port Pirie?
– The State Government has the matter under its consideration.I wrote to it on the subject some ten or twelve days ago, asking that the matter should be expedited.
– It has been under consideration for months.
– I understand that one of the South Australian Ministers will shortly be in Melbourne, and I hope to have an opportunity to confer with him.
asked the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
In view of the attempted land “dummying” by some of the Papuan officials, and the consequent creation of land monopoly in its worst form for the benefit of special privileged speculators, will the Government, by Executive proclamation, limit all leases to a period not exceeding ten years, until the whole question has been examined and settled by this Parliament in the interest of posterity’s struggling multitudes ?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is -
The existing law is so stringent in its conditions as to improvements that there is no reason for fear that unused land can be held locked up by land speculators, none of whom are in any way privileged, or even encouraged. The attention recently called to the land applications now proceeding, and the prompt action taken, will add another safeguard to support the Administration.
As the honorable member is aware, only leaseholds are obtainable in Papua.
– The Government is protecting the interests of the natives?
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
If drawback is paid on Excise sugar sent abroad for consumption, will not the results of such payment be -
That the Australian people will have been taxed in order to provide cheap beer, jams, jellies, &c, for foreigners, though themselves paying the full Australian market price for these commodities?
Referring to “his reply that the Constitution Act provides “ authority for the payment of bounty “ -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– Inquiries are now being made.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
What magazines, periodicals, or publications have been purchased by the Government during the last twelve months for the purpose of advertising Australia?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is -
There have been no copies of magazines or periodicals, except Australia To-day, purchased during the present financial year. The other publications purchased during that period have been 100 copies of the Year-Book of Australia; 7,000 copies of the Hand-Booh of Australia have ‘been under order for some time past, but have not yet been received.
In Committee (Consideration of Senate’s requests resumed from 23rd April, vide page 10574) :
Item 114. Blankets (except of Rubber); Blanketing; Flannels, including Domett containing Wool; Rugs, n.e.i., including Buggy Rugs or Aprons, and Rugging, ad val. (General Tariff), 30 per cent. ; and on and after 8th November, 1907, 25 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), 30 per cent. ; and on and after 8th November, 1907, 20 per cent.
Requested amendments inserting after the word “Flannels” the words “whether plain, fancy, or printed,” and after the word “ Wool” the words ‘.’ also Crimean and Ceylon shirtings containing wool “ not made.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) put -
That the requested* amendments making the rates of duty ad val. (General Tariff), 30 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), 25 per cent., be made.
The Committee divided.
Majority ‘ … … 5
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Requested amendments made.
Item 115. Carpets, Carpeting, Floorcloths, Floor and Carriage Mats of any material except Coir, Lap-dusters, and Floor Rugs, and Coverings (including Felts and Pads), ad val. (General Tariff), 20 per cent.; (United Kingdom), 15 per cent, on and after 8th November, 1907.
Request- Make the duties ad val. (General Tariff), 15 per cent.; (United Kingdom), 10 per cent.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) put -
That the requested amendments be not made.
The Committee divided.
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Requested amendments not made.
Requested amendments in item 116 (Coir Mats and Matting), and item 117 (Cosies and Cushions) made.
Item 118. - Curtains and Blinds n.e.i. (not including Blinds attached to Rollers) ; Curtain Clips, Bands, Loops, and Holders; and Blind Tassels, and Acorns, ad val. (General Tariff), 25 per cent. : (United Kingdom), 20 per cent. * Request.* - Make the item free.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the requested amendment be not made.
– I should like to know why the Minister proposes not to accept the request of the Senate in this instance. It seems rather a peculiar thing to do. This is, I understand, purely a revenue duty.
– Curtains are made here in many places.
– We are entitled to have some fuller explanation.
– I have given all the explanation that I think necessary. Curtains are made in Australia from cotton piece goods.
– Where are they made?
– At Robertson and Moffatt’s, Buckley and Nunn’s, and many other large places.
– Why could not the Government tell us that before ?
Motion agreed to.
Requested amendment not made.
Requested amendment in item 119 (Furs and other Skins) made.
Item 120. - Gloves -
Request. - Leave out the words “ Men’s Gloves of all kinds andmaterials,” paragraph (a), and insert in lieu thereof the words “ Gloves being Harvesting, Driving, Housemaids’, and Gardening.”
– I move -
That the requested amendment be made.
I am moving, with some reluctance, that the request as to the wording of paragraph a be agreed to.
– Are gloves made here? What are the facts?
– I know that gloves of all kinds are made here.
– The Minister did not prove this statement on the last occasion when we were dealing with the item.
– Yes, I did; and I gave the names of the firms.
– The Minister’s statement is contradicted absolutely by glove makers.
– Very reluctantly, and in consequence of the large vote in the Senate, I feel that I must accept the wording of this request, whilst not proposingto agree to their request in respect of the duty.
.- It seems to me that if we amend the wording of paragraph a as proposed we shall impose a duty of 30 per cent upon gloves used by the poorer classes of the community, namely, harvesting, driving, housemaids’, and gardening gloves. If such gloves are not made here, I shall not vote for the imposition of a high revenue duty upon them.
– They are made here.
.- I think that the honorable member is under a misapprehension. I invite the Committee to amend the wording of paragraph a as requested and to disagree with the proposed alteration of the duty. When we come to the next requested amendment, which provides that gloves n.e.i. of all kinds and materials, including mittens, shall be free, I also propose to ask the Committee to adhere to the duty.
– I understand that the Minister intends to ask the Committee to disagree with the request that the duty of 30 per cent, under the general Tariff and of 20 per cent, in respect of imports from the United Kingdom under paragraph a beremoved.
– I do.
– Then what is the object of specializing these’ particular classes of gloves?
– I cannot do other than ask the Committee to agree or disagree with the requested amendment as to the duty.
– There is no occasion for the Treasurer to lose his temper.
.- This is a very fair revenue item. The honorable member for Newcastle is squeamish about taxing what he describes as the gloves of the poor, but when the item of blankets was under consideration the same feeling was not manifested, although blankets are of far more importance than are gloves to the poorer classes.
– Blankets are made here and sold at prices below those of the imported goods.
– The Committee was also very keenly in favour of a heavy duty on carpets, although in a country like this carpets are not the sole concern of the rich. Driving gloves are not used by the poorer classes in Australia, and housemaids’ gloves as a rule are provided not by the housemaids, but by those who employ them.
– And so with gardening gloves.
– Exactly. How many poor people in Newcastle have large gardens and wear gloves when they work in them. I am pleased that the Treasurer is resisting the abolition of the duty requested by another place - which must be a swell House - having in view the fact that, while it favours the abolition of the duty on these gloves, it is prepared to put a heavy duty on blankets.
– I fail to follow the honorable member’s contention that this is a legitimate item for a high revenue duty. He holds that it is reasonable to impose duties of . 30 per cent, and 20 per cent, on harvesting, driving, housemaids’, and gardening gloves, whilst dress gloves are dutiable at 15 per cent, and 10 per cent. The honorable member holds that it is reasonable to impose lower duties on gloves worn purely for ornamental purposes.
– But the last-named class are not made in Australia, while the others are produced here.
– If the honorable member for Dalley regards this as a fair distribution of taxation, I, for one, do not.
.- It seems to me that in this case, as in several other cases, the Committee is in somewhat of a difficulty. I should prefer to adhere to the paragraph as originally passed by this Chamber, but it would appear that we have no opportunity of doing so; that we must either impose a duty of 30 per cent, in respect of these gloves or make the line free.
– The Treasurer may propose an alteration of the duty.
– Apparently he is not inclined’ to do so, and we have either to accept his proposal, or that suggested by another place. I do not wish to vote to place these gloves on the free list, but I think that a duty of 30 per cent, is too high.
.- There has been some discussion on the question of whether or not the gloves described in paragraph a, as proposed to be amended, are made in Australia. I could take honorable members to a factory within fifteen minutes’ journey of this House, where they are being’ made, and since the manufacturers have to use certain imported leather in respect of which a duty is levied, I do not think it would be reasonable to allow the finished article to come in free.
– Kidskins are being produced in Australia.
-I know the leathers that are being made here, and that they are very good leathers. An excellent glace kid is being made here at the present time. I trust that the Committee will agree to the Minister’s suggestion to accept the requested alteration of the wording, and to retain the duty as passed inthis House.
Motion agreed to.
Requested amendment made.
Requested amendment, making item 120, paragraph a, free, not made.
– I wish, sir, to ask whether I should be in order in moving an amendment on the wording of paragraph b of the item. It is the desire of the Department that we should insert after the word “ materials “ the words “ not coming within item 326”. Item 326 covers “fancygoods,” and the object of that suggested amendment is to exclude from this item cricketing and other sporting gloves.
– The Committee are entitled to receive some explanation of a proposal to insert these words. Without such an explanation they are left to discover the reason for themselves, and so are led to waste the time of the Committee. I find that item 326 covers -
Fancy Goods; including Card Cases; Snuff and Match Boxes, Purses, n.e.i.; Wallets; Thimbles; Serviette Rings; Button Hooks; Shoe Horns and Lifts; Glove Stretchers; Toys, other than Dolls undressed; Ivory and other ornamental figures; Feather Dusters; Paper Parasols.
– The honorable member is wasting time now.
– It is the Minister’s fault if I am. Item 325 also covers -
Articles used for outdoor and indoor games ; Fishing Appliances n.e.i., and Articles n.e.i. used for ornamental purposes or partly for use and partly for ornament, including Fancy Ground and Cut Glass Bottles of over 5 drams of fluid capacity containing goods not subject to ad valorem duty, and Stoppers for such Bottles.
There would have been no reason for this statement if the Minister had explained what he proposes.
– I did explain.
– I cannot accept the proposed amendment of the wording of paragraph b of the item. The ruling given last night’ in connexion with sugar bags must, I think, be held to cover this case also. Honorable members will observe that the Senate agreed to the wording of paragraph b. of this item, as it passed this
House, and has disagreed with the action of this House in this case only in respect to the duty. If the Committee were now to go back upon the work it did when the item was previously before it, the Senate might desire to do the same, and there would be no finality.
– The honorable member for North Sydney has said that I gave no explanation of the amendment I propose to make in the wording of paragraph b . of this item. I said that the intention was to exclude gloves covered by item 326 such as cricketing and other sporting gloves’.
– The proposed amend ment has been ruled out of order.
-.I am aware of that; and it was because of the decision given last night that I asked the Chairman to say whether I should be in order in moving such an amendment. I propose now that the Committee should agree to the alteration of the dates requested by the Senate, and shall not accept the request to make the item free.
– What is the estimate of the revenue to be derived under the item?
– It is£25,000. In reference to the alteration of the date from 14th October to 14th November, 1907, I should say that I am informed by the Clerk that it is merely a correction of an error which was made in this House.
– I am in agreement with the Minister in connexion with this item. For the life of me, I am unable to get up any enthusiasm in opposition to a duty on gloves, when we are taxing people’s blankets and food of every description to the greatest possible extent. In the circumstances, it is not unreasonable to ask persons who can afford to wear decent gloves to pay a fair duty on them.
Requested amendment, altering date of operation of duty from October to November (item 120, paragraph b), made.
Requested amendment, making item 120, paragraph b, free, not made.
Item 121. Hats, Caps, and Bonnets -
Request. - Make the duty (General Tariff), 16s. per dozen, or 35 per cent, ad val., whichever rate returns the higher duty ; (United Kingdom), 12s. per dozen, or 30 per cent, ad val., which ever rate returns the higher duty.
– I move-
That the requested amendment be made.
It has been considered that the requested amendment represents a better method of dealing with the item than that adopted by the House of Representatives.
– This is an item which was debated in this Chamber at considerable length, and with considerable heat ; and the general impression was that the imposition of a specific duty of 16s. per dozen should be contested whenever opportunity arose. This is a duty which, . in many cases, amounts to over 100 per cent, on the lower-priced articles; and a simple method presents itself of abolishing it. I move -
That the motion be amended by adding the words “ but that the words 16s. per dozen or,’ and the words ‘ whichever rate returns the higher duty,’ be left out.”
– I rise to a point of order. As this House agreed to the rate of 16s. per dozen, I submit that all that is before us now is the alternative rate suggested by the Senate.
– The whole of the suggested amendment is now before the Committee, and the honorable member for’ Flinders is quite in order in proposing any modifications he desires.
– The effect of the amendment is to strike out the specific rate and restore the duty to that which, I think, was originally proposed by the Government, namely, 35 per cent.
.- This item left the House of Representatives as a specific duty - one of the few in the Tariff - and it is now returned with an alternative duty. The feeling right through the debate in this Chamber was against composite duties, and during the consideration of the first Tariff, the evils of such duties were distinctly shown, and they were abandoned, even after a strong. appeal made by the then Minister of Customs. Apparently, the intention of the Senate is to tax the cheapest articles the most heavily in the interests, I suppose, of one particular factory, or several factories in Australia. But if we treat the hat making industry in this way, why not treat all industries similarly, seeing that every industry produces cheap articles? I am strongly against any such step; because I regard such duties as a distinct levy on those who can least afford to pay high prices. The duty of 16s. per. dozen means a tax of 150 per cent, on some of the cheaper hats; and if the public, who purchase these articles, were aware of that fact, they would lose much of their enthusiasm; on behalf of this industry.
– Those people do not pay the tax because the hats are cheaper.
– They pay in the sense that the local manufacturers desire the high duty in order to keep the cheapest imported articles out of the country.
– Those articles can be produced more cheaply here.
– The Treasurer is a protectionist inexcelsis; and I am not prepared to follow him. I intend to support the proposal of the honorable member for Flinders.
.- I think that the Chairman has made a mistake in admitting the amendment of the honorable member for Flinders.
– Order !
– I withdraw any reflection which my words may appear to cast upon the Chairman. There is no doubt, however, that the item, as it left this House, imposed a specific duty of 16s. per dozen; and all the Senate has done is to suggest an alternative duty. In my opinion the words “16s. per dozen,” which appear in the Senate’s request, are a printer’s error. If the Senate had not suggested an alternative duty, this item would not have been before us ; and no one knows that better than does the honorable member for Flinders.
– Is the honorable member in order in traversing the ruling of the Chairman ?
– I do not understand the honorable member for Yarra to be traversing my ruling.
– When I desire to challenge the ruling of the Chairman, I shall do it in a proper way, and in all friendliness.
– The honorable member is challenging me for asking for a good ruling !
– The honorable member knows that if the Senate had not desired to have an alternative rate, in order to reach the higher priced hats, this matter would not be before us.
– If the Senate had made no alterations, the Tariff would not be before us.
– But I submit that we cannot alter the specific rate, seeing that it has been agreed to both by the House of Representatives and the Senate.
– I must ask the honorable member not to follow that line of argument.
– This is another proposition by the Senate.
– Not so; it is merely an alternativeproposition for the purpose of reaching the higher priced hats. Honorable members on the other side have stated that 1 6s. per dozen on foreign, and 12s. per dozen on British wool hats means 150 or 200 per cent. That is absolutely absurd.
– I said it was over 100 per cent. in some cases.
– It is not over 100 per cent. No one could buy the wool that is required to put into them-
– It is positively 300 per cent., or more, upon certain classes of hats.
– I do not suppose that the honorable member has the slightest idea of the manufacture of the hats. He may have sold a few, like a lot of other middlemen.
– He has sold more than the honorable member ever saw:
– And made more, too.
– He has done no such thing. I quite believe that he has made more out of the public in selling them than I ever made in making them.
– Then he did not need a duty.
– He did not, because he was only importing and selling again.
– He manufactured them.
– There have never been. 1,000 dozen hats manufactured in the whole of Tasmania. Honorable members have no idea of what they are talking about. Down the street, one may see a man’s name up as a hatmaker, but that man, perhaps, has never made a hat.
– Like Mr. Mauger.
– He has never made a felt hat in his life and would say so if he were here. This Chamber, after one of the longest discussions that took place on the Tariff, agreed deliberately to this specific duty.
– Through the honorable member’s energy.
– I admit it was, perhaps, through a little energy which I put into the question, knowing, as I did, the unfair tactics adopted by importers in buying up the end-of-the-season goods made in the Northern Hemisphere, and shipping them over here in time to catch the opening of the season. The competition which the Australian manufacturers have had to face has been decidedly unfair.
– I suppose that would apply to the dear, as well as to the cheap hats?
– Yes, absolutely.
– Then why make a distinction ?
– That is why the Senate made this alternative proposal.
– The honorable member must have been energetic up there, also.
– I did not see a single senator in regard to the matter, nor was I in the Senate gallery more than about three times during the whole of the consideration of the Tariff in that Chamber. I believe that the workmen connected with the industry interviewed honorable senators and put the position before them. Men who have served their time in-
– They are not like the honorable member, who probably served his time there.
– I object to that remark. The CHAIRMAN. - I must ask the honorable member for Yarra to withdraw the statement ; but I must point out to the honorable member for Fremantle that he really brought it on himself. I must appeal to honorable members not to make these continuous interjections.
– If I said anything wrong, I certainly withdraw it.
– If I said anything wrong in regard to the honorable member, I will withdraw it ; but he will not insult a body of honest men without my protesting against it. This question was gone into fully on the last occasion, and as the Opposition Whip knows, practically every vote was accounted for in the division.
– There was not a division taken on this item with more than thirty-five members present.
– With pairs, practically every vote in the House was accounted for. It was decided to impose a fixed duty, mainly on account of the position that the industry was put into through the hat trade being a season trade. The shapes and fashions this year will not prevail next year,, and, therefore, the manufacturers in Great Britain are glad to dispose of their stock at less than it cost. them to make. It was to cope with that unfair competition that the fixed duty was agreed to. ‘ I know that stock is dumped here at less than it costs to make.
– Who ‘ gets the benefit ?
– The importers in Flinders-lane. I trust that the Committee will retain the. fixed duty and adopt also the alternative rates proposed by the Senate to catch the higher-priced hats, which are sold in Collins-street to people who insist on having- imported hats at over £1 is. each.
– The honorable member for Yarra always speaks with very great authority’; but he certainly makes statements at times, and has made one this morning, which may have a great effect, upon honorable members’ votes, but which are not correct. .1 stand now in, front of a gentleman who knows something- of the hat trade, and I say, in his presence, that there* is no such thing as buying up the end of a season’s stock of the particular class of hat with which we are now dealing. They are never out of date ; they do not lose their value ; and the shapes hardly alter. The common hat- to which these rates refer is now almost prohibited from importation, and all those people whowear felt hats are thrown back upon whatever class of article the. Denton mills happen to prefer to make. I refer to the Denton mills with all respect, because, notwithstanding the higher rates of duty now operative, they have not found it necessary to make any, addition to their prices.
– I think their prices are less now than ever they were before; and that is undoubtedly owing to the increased duty.
– It shows that the effort which was made to bolster those mills up by ‘giving them an increased rate of duty on felt hats was quite unnecessary. On the hat known as the bowler, which is worn . by a very large’ number of people, and manufactured in England, possibly, at’ from 8s. to 10s. per dozen, a fixed duty of 16s. reaches the 150 per cent, referred to by the honorable’ member for Flinders. I hope honorable members will disabuse their minds of the idea that there is any possi bility of large quantities of hats being dumped here by reason of their being unseasonable at Home. Nothing of the kind ever occurs with respect to felt hats.
– Could not an Australian importer have an understanding at the beginning of the season with an English maker to send out his left stock?
– There’ is no house in England that keeps ‘any stock of hats. They are all made to order, and just as I would have to place an order with the Denton mills here a month or two months ahead, so with respect to all felt hats and fur hats which are made in England a man must place his orders weeks if not months ahead. There is no such thing as keeping a stock, as the hats are all made to order.
– Yes, but they are not all sold.
– Probably they, are sold before they are made. If they are not sold during one month they will be sold during the next month. It is- just like selling so much bread and butter. Hats are sold every day, and there is no question as to a change. A very small change in the shape of a brim is very easily made, but even that does not affect the question. We are now dealing with only wool hats, and the next item deals with fur hats at a higher rate.
– Are the tenpenny hats which the honorable member mentioned made out of wool ?
– I believe that at. Home one can buy wool hats at as low as 8s.. per dozen.
– Made out of shoddy.
– They are very presentable wool hats which the great, masses of the working classes in Melbourne would wear if they could get them. But. this Tariff imposes such a high rate, that if compels men to pay 3s. or 4s. or 5s. for a hat which they had been in the habit, of buying for about 2s. I remind honorable’ members that the Denton Hat Mills here do not want a high duty,’ as they have indicated by not having increased their prices. I repeat that there is no such thing as dumping a quantity of these hats here towards the end of a season by reason of their having got out of fashion in the Old Country.
– The duty of 16s.’ per dozen- has prevented a very large ship-‘ ment of the lowest class of Italian hats being dumped in- Australia.
– Not out-of-season hats.
– My experience teaches me that unless this duty be retained it will mean disaster to the Australian hat mills. I speak without any interest, except that of an Australian who wants the work to be done here. I can assure honorable members that previously the factories were working only half-time, and that under the old Victorian Tariff two out of five factories were closed down. If .this duty be retained there will be not one but halfadozen successful mills in Australia, and no one will be- injured. The working man can get as cheap and good a hat as he requires.
– He does not, and that is the answer to the honorable .member.
– I repeat that he does. The honorable member may know a great, deal about many things, but I contend that I know what I am talking about in this . matter.
– I doubt if the honorable member does.
– Of course, the honorable member is a Thomas ; he doubts anything and everything. .In the interests of the workmen of Australia I appeal to the Committee not to remove the fixed duty, because it is required, will benefit the workmen, and will not injure the consumer.
– I interjected just now that I doubted if the Postmaster-General knew much about hats or their value. I have a distinct recollection of showing the honorable gentleman some hats, on one occasion, and getting his estimate of their value. I am bound to say that he knew nothing about their value.
– The honorable member is talking arrant nonsense.
– I showed the honorable member a hat marked at 3s. 6d., and he said that it was worth 7s. 6d.
– The honorable member is talking rubbish. His statement is not correct.
– I showed the honorable member a hat marked at 7 s. 6d., and he said that its value was about 3s. or 4s. That took place here, and the honorable gentleman need not say that my statement is not correct. He knows that it is correct.
– It is absolutely incorrect, and the honorable member knows that it is.
– I do not know that my statement is incorrect.
– The honorable member is wilfully misrepresenting the facts.
– Is that remark in order, sir?
– The PostmasterGeneral was certainly out of order in making that remark; but I think that the honorable member for Parramatta was going too far when he refused to accept his denial. He is aware that an honorable member is expected to accept another member’s statement.
– Even when it is a contradiction of my own statement, which I assert is a correct one ? Surely, sir, you will not insist upon that ruling ! My word is as good as the Postmaster-General’s, and I am actually stating what took place here.-
– The honorable member is doing nothing of the kind.
– The PostmasterGeneral denied the honorable gentleman’s statement; and it is only fair, I think, that his denial should be accepted.
– I decline to accept the honorable gentleman’s statement. I have no more right to accept his statement than he has to accept mine. It is a simple case of contradiction. However, that is neither here nor there. I was surprised to hear the honorable member for Yarra make the statements which he did. I happen to know a little about hats. In the Old Country, I have relatives who are engaged in making this class of hat, at Denton, in Lancashire. I venture id- say that they have had very much more to do with the industry than has the PostmasterGeneral.
– The honorable member does not. know anything about the matter. I have been in the business all my life.
– The honorable gentleman should not imagine that because he does not, I do not know anything about hat-making. It is quite true that he does not know anything, about it, and, therefore, he speaks with great definiteness. It is a fact, as stated by the honorable member for Denison, tha.t useful good-looking hats are being made to-day in the Old Country for is. and is. 66. each.
– Under what conditions?
– Certainly npt under sweating conditions. The honorable member will not find any sweating going on at the Denton mills in Lancashire. The honorable member for Yarra will not contradict my statement. It is true that the workmen in- those mills are not ‘paid as much as the workmen here, but considering the relative values of money, I venture to say that the former are getting very good wages indeed. A good hat-maker in the Denton mills to-day will get from 35s. to £2 a week. The honorable member for Batman will not deny that statement, and, therefore, it is idle to suggest that the hats are made under sweating conditions simply because they happen to be cheap. It is the poorer class of hats which are most heavily hit by this specific duty.
– They are the hats which want hitting, too.
– I wish that every man was able to buy as good a hat as the honorable gentleman can afford to get. But, unfortunately, there are men who cannot afford to pay a high price, and therefore they must buy the next best article,
– Does the honorable gentleman know that Australian-made hats ale sold at as low as is. nd. each in Melbourne?
– Are they made under sweating conditions?
– That is not the question.
– When I spoke of cheap hats- in the Old Country, .the honorable member for Batman wanted to know whether they were made under sweating conditions. I ask. whether the workmen who make cheap hats in Melbourne are sweated. The fact is that .there must be cheap hats ma.de for those who cannot afford to buy dearer ones.
– They can get hats at from is. 1 id. to 2s. 6d. in Melbourne.
– That is the plain English. It is not a question of sweating, but a question of what people can afford to pay. On the poorer, inferior class of hats, which axe being imported, this specific duty will fall very heavily, In some cases, it will amount to 100 or 120, or 130 per cent. There is no sense in imposing a duty cif that kind. It is not required, because of the difference in wages or conditions. A moderate duty of, say, 2 5 or 3° Per cent., would make up for every difference which can be imagined in regard to wage rates or conditions. Why honorable members should want to impose this prohibitive duty, I am at a loss to understand. It seems. to me to be protec tion run stark staring mad. I hope that’ ve shall do what we did on a previous occasion - fight this matter as best we may.
– That is, to propose a duty of 60 per cent. ?
– I believe that I did try to put the percentage up to about 50 per cent.
– More, I think.
– Whatever my proposal was, honorable members voted against it, not because the duty was high, but because it was too low to suit them. Whatever. I .proposed they were against. They did not want a high percentage duty because they knew that they were covering up a very much higher rate in the fixed duty. We are indebted to the Senate for having afforded us an opportunity to review this duty, and I. sincerely hope that the Committee will be content with a moderate rate, that is, from the stand-point of protectionists. We are accustomed now to say that a 30 or 35 per cent, is a moderate duty, but I call it a high one. I am prepared to vote for a duty of 35 per cent., and even of 40 per cent., on hats. The man who is not satisfied with those rates is a fiscal glutton.
.- The honorable member for Yarra has declared that when this item was last dealt with by the Committee, every member was acounted for, and that, consequently, the decision arrived at was a- true expression of- the opinion of the people. He appealed to me to substantiate that statement, but, on looking up the record - page 5973 of Hansard for the current session - I find that ten members neither voted nor paired, all of whom might have reasonably been expected to vote against the rates of duty that were agreed to.
– As for the low-priced English hats sold at lod. each, which it is said the workers are so desirous of buying, I would point out that, if we allow 100 per cent, profit on the original selling price, and admit’ that the importers present honest invoices at the Customs House - which I very much doubt in most cases - because it is quite a customary thing for invoices containing undervaluations to be presented - -
– That is a very seriouscharge.
– I do not make a charge. I say that “ if we could be certain that the invoices presented would becorrect.” I make no specific charge; but it is a generally known fact that, as a rule, ‘ all invoices are not honest.
– That is not so.
– It is understood that, in. order to dodge Customs duties, articles imported from abroad are invoiced at very low rates indeed.
– Does the honorable member say that undervaluation occurs in connexion with the majority of invoices?
– Yes j I can quite believe that it could happen in connexion with the majority of invoices.
– That is a slander on honest traders.
– Hats may be as bad as pianos. It is understood that no piano is invoiced at more than .£20. Even the high-grade piano, sold at £100, is invoiced at ^20.
– The honorable member says that it is understood ; but that is not the case.
– I do not think that ‘ it is. I imported a piano valued at £100, and it was certainly not invoiced at £20.
– When a private individual imports anything, he has to pay on an honest invoice. I am -speaking .of firms abroad sending to branches here, or even to other merchants.
– The honorable member is making a charge which he cannot substantiate:
– It is absolutely proved by the convictions.
– That is a very unfair .charge against the mercantile community.
– I wish that I could think that the invoices of importers were honest.; but I cannot think so. Even supposing that they are, if hats can be bought for 10s. a dozen, or 10d. each, and 100 per cent, profit is .allowed, that brings their value up to is. 8d., and a duty of 16s. per dozen, or is. 4d. each, would make their price 3s. each. How many working men in Australia buy hats at that price? Seeing that we grow wool in Australia, and work it up into the fabric out of which hats are made, we should do more for our working men if we .made it certain that the hat which they bought at a cheap- price was manufactured of pure wool grown here instead of the rubbish and shoddy which must be used in making cheap hats in foreign countries.
– I am surprised that any honorable member should abuse his position as the honorable member for New England has done in the speech which he has just made. Knowing that he is safe from legal proceedings, he has ventured to assert that the great majority of the traders of Australia, and of the exporters from other parts of the world, are rogues and thieves. An honorable member who will make such a statement, without bringing forward irrefutable proof of its correctness, in my opinion abuses his parliamentary position-
– Do not the convictions show something?
– The instances in which there have been convictions are but the smallest percentage of the operations at the Customs House, and if they prove anything, it is that the statement of the honorable member is absolutely incorrect. I have very little faith in honorable members - who have so little faith in their fellows. If the statements which have been made could be sustained, the Customs Department should be cleared out at once. If the officers are daily and hourly passing entries the majority of which are false-
– How are the officers to prove that they are false?
– That car. be readily done. The honorable member’s question shows that he knows nothing about business transactions. If the majority of the entries passed by- the Customs authorities are false, values below the actual selling prices being stated in the invoices, the Minister of Trade and Customs and his officers ought to be held responsible. I ask the Minister if he indorses the statement of the honorable member for New England that as a rule the invoices passed for ad valorem duties contain under-valuations ?
– If we find that importers are under-valuing, we make them sit up.
– There are cases in which under-valuations have been proved ; but they show in how few instances, proportionately, under-valuation occurs. The honorable member’ for New England said that the majority of invoices were dishonest.
– I do not think he said that.
– I am sure that the Minister will not support the statement. I agree that there are cases of under-valuation, and it is because ad valorem duties give an opportunity for dishonesty that I object to them, though I do not see how they can be avoided under a protective system. But to say that, as a rule, invoices contain under-valuations is to make a statement absolutely without foundation, and one which no honorable member should use his privilege to make, unless he can bring forward irrefutable evidence to support it. As regards the duty itself, we have had some very contradictory statements. It has been denied that’ it is as high as it has been said to be, yet the PostmasterGeneral, who knows a great deal about the hat business, admits that locally made hats are sold retail at1s.11d. Those hats cannot cost the makers less than1s. 4d, and therefore the duty is equivalent to 100 per cent, ad valorem.How can the most ardent protectionist justify such a rate? It has been said that it is necessary to prevent dumping. But if,’ as has been stated by one speaker, hats are sometimes sold for 50 per cent, below cost, the users of the better-class hats have to pay only 171/2 per cent, in duty, whereas users of low-priced hats have to pay a duty of nearly 300 per cent. I agree with those who think that there is no need for so high a duty. The difference in wages is more than covered by a duty of 35 per cent. , which would be a perfectly safe duty to adopt, even from the protectionist standpoint, and one which would prevent the charging of unduly high prices under cover of practically prohibitory rates. I think that when the honorable member for New England reconsiders the matter, he will withdraw his charges, which I hope have been made thoughtlessly. Unless he can substantiate them, they should be withdrawn. They constitute a serious charge against, not only importers, but also the Customs Department, and even himself.
– How many so-called reputable firms have been proved guilty in a Court of Law of issuing faked invoices?
– Does the honorable member mean cases in which error has been alleged, or cases in which fraud has been proved?
– Some so-called reputable importers have been proved to be guilty-
– Of fraud?
– That has been shown.
– So far as I know, there have been only two or three such cases in Australia, and on those cases is based the charge that the great majority of the importers of the Commonwealth are dishonest, and pass false entries. Would the honorable member for Wannon like such a charge to be made against all engaged in the same business as himself, because three or four, or 300 or 400, had been sent to gaol for dishonesty? Would it be honorable to make such a charge ? If the honorable member for New England believes what he said, his words are a reflection on himself, for if he believes that as a rule invoices contain under-valuations, he has no right to vote for ad valorem duties.
– I am asking for a specific duty in this case.
– I am not dealing with this particular item alone. The honorable member’s statements had general application to importers in all lines of business, and if he believes them to be true, he has no right to support ad valorem duties, against the interests of the revenue, and of honest trading. Yet he has throughout supported ad valorem duties. I trust that honorable members will realize something of their responsibilities, and not make charges against any section of the community unless they have evidence to bring forward in support of them.
.- I admire the battle put up by the honorable member who holds a brief for the importers.
– That statement is more insulting than the other.
– I stand here as an Australian who intends to support Australian industries. . The honorable member for North Sydney is an experienced parliamentarian, and he knows perfectly well that in the absence of a Royal Commission to inquire into this matter, I have no chance whatever of proving that fraudulent invoices are presented to the Customs authorities.
– Then why does the honorable member make the statement?
– I said that I was suspicious.
– What reason has the honorable member for stating his suspicions if he cannot prove them?
– If the honorable member for Flinders will join me in demanding an inquiry into this matter, I am satisfied that it will be found that my suspicions are confirmed. They are prompted bv the cases of “ faked “ invoices which have come before the Courts.
– Surely the honorable member, does not condemn the whole class of importers because of the shortcomings of one or two?
– I am quite prepared to move for the appointment of a Royal Commission to investigate this question if ‘the honorable member for North - Sydney will support me.
– The honorable member makes his charges first, and asks for the appointment of a Commission afterwards.
– My - honorable friend will not support the adoption of the only possible course by which the truth can. be ascertained. As a representative of the people, I am justified in stating the suspicions that I entertain.
– The’ honorable member stated them as a fact.
– I did not. How could I obtain the necessary evidence in the absence of a proper inquiry? I have some evidence in my possession - not sufficient to prove the accuracy of my suspicions. But I am suspicious that a majority of the invoices presented to the Customs Department are for amounts below the actual value of the goods to which they relate. The honorable member for North Sydney has twitted me with having supported the imposition of ad valorem duties. I was bound to do so because that has been the practice hitherto followed. I do not profess to be able to tell the Minister of- Trade and Customs how he should frame his Tariff, or that he should absolutely alter the character of the duties which have hitherto been operative.
– If what the honorable member has said be true, the Treasurer had no right to ask for ad valorem duties.
– If the honorable membe.; had organized his party and fought for the imposition of specific duties - thereby compelling importers to pay the’ amounts honestly due to the Customs Department - I should have supported him.- To sum up, I think that the position resolves itself into one between foreign shoddy - the fag-ends of rubbish that comes from the Argentine, from Germany, and from all over the Continent - and good Australian wool. If the honorable member for North Sydney would only pay a visit of inspection to the hat factories here, and see the . beautiful long threads taken from Australian wool, and ‘ woven into hats, and if he would compare those threads with the tiny atoms cemented together which are to be found in the foreign shoddy, I am sure that he will not have much admiration for the latter.
Sir PHILIP FYSH (Denison [12.10I- The Treasurer has had sufficient, experience of his office to enable him to say whether there is the slightest foundation for the suspicion which the honorable member for New England has expressed, in regard to ad valorem invoices as a whole. It is true that we do read from time to time of certain fines .being imposed upon importers by the Comptroller-General of Customs. Let me give three instances in which such fines have been imposed. In the first place, honorable members will recollect that the old Tariff .practically exempted wadding from duty. I well remember the discussion which took place in this “House upon the matter. It was considered that wadding should be admitted free because it was the raw material of some manufacturers. What happened? A merchant imported wadding and was fined, because the Minister controlling the Customs- Department had,1 in the interim, declared by regulation that wadding came within the category of cotton piece goods, and was, therefore, liable to duty. In that case a small fine was necessarily inflicted. Another case had reference to stitched hats. Any person who has had experience of felt hats knows that the felt hat, which was made liable to duty under the old Tariff, contained a large amount of stitching, together with certain ornamentation. But, one day, the Customs authorities opened a case of goods and took out a number- of girls’ hats trimmed with liberty silk, and bound round with wire that had been stitched into the rim. The Collector of Customs immediately declared that these goods “ were “ stitched “ hats, and therefore liable to -duty. In this case a fine was also inflicted. The third instance which occurs to me relates to a piece of cotton gingham, one side of which had been passed over a hot roller, with the result that the fluffy appearance had been taken off. The other side had not been so treated, and, consequently, there was an apparent “ scribbling “ of the cloth. This gingham was described in the invoice as cotton piece goods, but the Customs authorities declared that it was flannelette, and accordingly a small fine was imposed. These are typical instances.
– What about the case of Messrs. Robert Reid and Co. ?
– Unfortunately, there has been one case in which the Customs Department, notwithstanding all its powers - and we have armed it with immense powers - was defrauded.
– What about the case of Messrs. Stevenson and Sons, which occurred in Victoria in the old days ?
– I am not aware that anything was proved against the Messrs. Stevenson, although I know that an officer tendered some information which was supposed to implicate them. These are the only two cases which have occurred during the pastforty years. My association with Customs Department extends over many years. Until fifteen years ago I was a large importer. I had a great deal to do with various commercial houses in England, and Isay that anything like a desire to defraud has been the exception during all these years. If one dared to approach the English or German houses with a request that he should be supplied with false invoices, the idea would be scouted.
– Will the honorable member assist me to get a Commission of Inquiry into this matter?
– There is a Commission of Inquiry every morning in the Department of the Minister of Trade and Customs. He has his experts up and down Flinders-lane daily, with a view to accurately ascertaining the value of goods. He has experts connected with every branch of trade, and very often the Customs authorities know a great deal more about invoice values than do the importers themselves. The honorable member for New England ought to justify the honorable member for North Sydney’s statement that practically there are no cases in which absolute fraud is committed. Of course, I know that some “time ago a case occurred in which a parcel of goods imported from the East was seized by the Customs authorities, who deemed the consignment to be undervalued. They accordingly exercised their power of adding 10 per cent, to the declared value of the goods, and seized them, with the result that when they were sold a large profit was made upon them. But what were the circumstances of the case? A merchant who resides in Japan spends the whole of his time in travelling throughout that Empire and purchasing goods at local prices. He sent the consign ment in question to Australia, invoicing them at the price paid for them in Japan. The Customs authorities were unable to prove that they were not invoiced at their value at the place of export, but, having a suspicion that they were undervalued, seized them. It is seldom, however, that an instance of that kind occurs. Upon the whole, business is conducted upon the lines which have led to English-speaking merchants being regarded all over the world as merchant princes and honest gentlemen.
.- I do not think that there is any necessity for me to discuss the ethics of importers at this stage. I do not believe that cases of fraud amongst that class are more numerous than they are amongst the manufacturers. I wish to intimate, however, that my opinion in respect of the duty upon hats has undergone a change since the item under consideration was dealt with by this Committee last year. I believe that the general desire of our manufacturers is that we should impose a fixed duty upon hats, so as to keep out goods of inferior quality, and, therefore, I intend to support it. I, also believe that the ad valorem duty which the Senate has proposed as an alternative to the specific duty agreed to by this Committee is a reasonable one. The fixed duty will have the effect of excluding the cheap manufactures of Europe and Asia, whilst hats ofthe Woodrow classwhich will be required to pay 35 per cent, ad valorem - will not be affected by it. If we are going to encourage Australian industry, I know of no industry which is. worthy of greater encouragement than is the hat industry. We possess both the fur and the wool necessary for the manufacture of hats of all descriptions - from the cheapest grade to the highest I see no reason whatever why there should be any importation of hats into the Commonwealth.
– Does not the honorable member think that as the wool, the fur, and other raw material are obtainable in this country, 35 per cent, is a very good protective rate?
– If we compare the wages paid in Italy, which are about1s. per day, with the wages paid in Australia, where they range up to 10s. a day, it will be seen that that rate of protection is not so very high. We also know that the freight from continental countries to Australia is no greater than the freight on any of our Australian railways, in the case of journeys of 100 to .200 miles. Therefore, 35 per cent, is not a large protection against the cheap kind of hats that are ‘imported to Australia. It is true that- 1 voted against what I considered to be a high duty on woollens, because most of our woollen goods come from Great Britain, and there is reason for giving consideration in that respect.
– Our trade with Germany is increasing.
– In 1906 we imported £501,000 of hats and caps, of which amount no less than £145,000 came from Europe and Japan. In 1907, the importations increased to £550,000, of which £150,000 worth came from Europe and Asia. So that the total proportion of importations in competition with what should be a truly Australian , industry, is very great, and certainly the proportion of importations from Asia and continental Europe is altogether excessive. For these reasons I am prepared to support the fixed duty proposed in the schedule. ‘
.- One who was absent during the previous discussion is at some loss to appreciate the changes of view of a number of honorable members. The honorable member for Wimmera based, a good deal of his argument for supporting these inordinately highduties on the belief that there is a great difference between the wages paid in foreign countries and those paid in Australia. I should like to ask him whether he has any information in his possession to show that the difference between- the wages paid in Australia and in Europe has increased during the last six months ? If the difference has not increased, the honorable member should surely record the same vote to-day as he recorded six months ago. Every one of the other arguments used by the honorable member was equally applicable six months ago, unless it can be proved that some change in conditions has occurred. Therefore, those honorable members who intend to change their votes really have no right to do so, unless they are prepared to confess that their former votes were based upon wrong views. . I presume that the honorable member for Wimmera was satisfied that the vote he gave on a former occasion was based upon .a right conclusion, inasmuch as he sat’ up all night to support the opposition to high duties. My information is that the natural protection on hats is very high
– What is “ natural “ protection ?
– The protection which our distance from the place of origin in other parts of the world gives to the local manufacturer. I will give an instance, ‘i am informed that £10 worth of average hats’ will require 40 cubic feet of space. Adding freight, insurance, packing charges, and so forth, the natural protection comes to 40. per cent. In addition to that, where hats are made of wool, the manufacturer .in Europe has to pay freight from Australia or the Argentine upon the wool which he uses.
– The so-called -natural protection does not “ pan out “ to more than 12 J per cent, as the honorable member for Denison could tell the Committee.
– Is that the honorable member for Denison’s opinion?
– I say that 40 per . cent, is the natural protection on some of these hats.
– The honorable member for Yarra asked for the verdict of the honorable member for Denison, and now he ‘ has received it.
– The honorable member for Denison has had to pay the freight, and therefore he does not know ; the honorable member for Yarra has not had to pay it, and therefore he does know !
– There is one special objection to this item, and that is that it provides for taking whichever rate of duty returns the larger amount. That will undoubtedly involve a burden upon the users of cheaper kinds of hats - the working classes. I submit that for the consideration of those honorable members who are anxious not to oppress the poor in any way. It is obvious that a fixed duty upon hats becomes greater according as the class of hat imported becomes cheaper. Honorable members are deliberately imposing a prohibitive specific duty upon the cheapest hats imported into ‘ Australia. The Minister of Trade and Customs has been asked to make a statement which, in common fairness to the commercial community, ought to be made. - Statements have been made by the honorable member, for New England of a very injurious character concerning the commercial classes. I think that ‘most honorable members regret them. It is inadvisable that those statements should remain unanswered by the one man in this chamber who is best fitted to make an answer, namely, the Minister. I think- that it wouldbe unfortunate if the honorable gentleman did not make some statement.
.- My reason for remaining silent was that I thought there was very little to answer.- I think that the merchants of this country do not require that any man should stand up in Parliament and say that they are honest. We know them to be so. and as a matter of fact, apart from their desire to be honest, if pays them to be frank and open in dealing with the Customs. The assistance which merchants give to the Customs is really invaluable. We receive every aid from themlargely Because “they themselves are placed in a difficulty if they have to compete against the dishonest trader. Of course, there are bound to be some dishonest traders whose operations we have to deal with occasionally, and when a question arises as to whether certain goods should be imported under a’ duty of 10 or 15 per cent., an importer is naturally disposed to believe that he ought to pay the lower rate. As to false invoicing, the honorable member for Denison has explained the operations of the Department, and what he has said is quite correct. Invoices generally come from reputable, honest traders in other parts of the world who would not knowingly make a mis-statement. Generally their invoices may be accepted, and indeed have to be accepted. It would be impossible for the Customs officers to examine one-twentieth part of the goods that are imported, and we have to depend to a large extent upon the assistance given by merchants themselves and the fact that, as no one can tell which box or package may be opened and tested, there is consequently always great risk in misdescription, undervaluing, or attempting to cheat the Customs. Of course,when any fraud is at tempted to be perpetrated the merchant is punished by being brought before the courts. But when mistakes are made, and we consider that no fraud is intended, a small fine is inflicted. In -such’ a case there is no reflection on the honesty of those who make the mistake. We know that there are black sheep in every community, but as a rule the Customs Department is very well treated by the merchants, and evidence of that fact is afforded by the circumstance that we are working with such a small amount of friction between the Department and the mercantile. community.
.-‘ The manner in which these duties on hats were pushed through originally- deserves some comment. A certain member of the Government was aware that I had in my possession a document of a very important character, bearing on the conditions enforced by some manufacturers . of hats in Victoria. I left the House on the 13th November, with the assurance that the hat duties would not be put through at that sitting. But the House yielded to the pressure applied by the Treasurer, and passed the duties before adjourning.
– Who gave you the assurance ?
– I didnot intend to mention names, but there is an honorable member sitting not very far away who is able to give some information on that point.
– If the honorable member refers to me, I may state that I had no idea of the matter to which he alludes.
– The honorable member assured me, when obliged to leave through illness, that the item was not likely to be put through that evening.
– I absolutely said no such thing, and the honorable member ought not to make such a mis-statement.
-I repeat the statement.
– -And I deny it.
– And I again repeat it with the greatest emphasis, as an absolutely true account of what transpired. My recollection is quite clear, for I vividly recall the annoyance I felt on reading next morning that the House had carried the duties without hearing the facts referred to.
-i remember the honorable member expressing his anger to me next day.
Mir. MAHON. - I made a statement to the honorable member for Yarra before I left, and also to the present PostmasterGeneral, concerning the document which I had inmy possession.
– The honorable member never showed it to me.
– No; but the honorable member was aware of the substance of it. And one member of the Cabinet knew of the contents. He had seen a letter from the Civil Service Co-operative Store showing that the Denton Hat Mills absolutely refused to do business with the Cooperative Society.
– In the same way as they refuse to supply Foy and Gibson and any other firm which is not in the wholesale trade.
– The Civil Service Cooperative Store is a wholesale house, supplying retailers as well as ordinary customers. The business of the Denton Hat Mills is conducted in such a manner that a little clique of merchants in Flinderslane are enabled to get 15 per cent, on every transaction, although they do not handle the goods supplied to retailers. This is how the matter stands. If a firm like the Civil Service Co-operative Society of Victoria, which deals in a wholesale way with hats and other commodities, applies to the Denton Hat Mills for £1,000 worth of hats, the operation is performed in the following manner : - The order has to go through Flinders-lane, but the hats are sent direct from the mill to the Civil Service Co-operative Society. This process enables a few individuals in Flinders-lane, who have never handled the goods, and have never had anything to do with the transaction at all, to get 15 per cent, on the whole consignment.
– Then the importers make the profit, after all?
– It really does not matter who makes the profit; the public are penalized. It is an improper way of doing business, whether the profit is made by importer or manufacturer. My point is that if the Denton Hat Mills, or other hat manufacturing firms, can afford to pay middlemen 15 per cent, forthe transmission of consignments in this way, they can afford to return that amount to the people, and to carry on under a duty reduced by 15 per cent.
– Is not the procedure of which the honorable member complains due to the fact that the importers have a foreign connexion which gives them power over the hat mills here?
– I should not think so. But if such a state of things exists that is another reason why we should not by high rates punish the whole community of Australia.
– And why should we punish all the hat manufacturersof Australia because of this action on the part of one hat manufacturing company. All the hat manufacturers do not do the same tiling.
– I believe that some hat manufacturers will sell direct to retailers, and I am not sure that my proposal would punish them. If it is possible for the Denton Hat Mills to make a concession of 15 per cent, in respect of consignments to a little coterie in Flinders-lane, surely the other hat manufacturers here can afford to sell at lower prices.
– Many of the Flinders-lane merchants are shareholders in the Denton Hat Mills.
– Very likely. Are we to give that company the advantage of these enormous duties in order that it may make concessions to a few middlemen? I ask honorable members who are wavering to consider whether we shall be justified in taking out of the pockets of the people an additional 15 per cent, in order that the Denton Hat Mills, and other hat manufacturing firms, may distribute money in the way I have mentioned. My contention is that it. would be easy for them to arrange for the distribution of their goods in some other way, and so avoid the payment of 15 per cent, to middlemen. I regret that it should have been necessary to bring this matter forward, but I think that the duty was sneaked through the House in a most improper way.
– I do not sneak any duty through the House.
– Hansard shows that the House adjourned at 4.36 a.m., immediately after dealing with the duties on hats. It had been sitting continuously since 2.30 p.m. on the previous day. I have no desire to accuse any one of unfair dealing, but, having regard to the progress which had been made during the sitting in question, prior to the item of hats being called on, it seems to me that whether because of the transaction in which the Denton Hat Mills figured, or for some other reason, the decision of the Committee was forced on in a somewhat suspicious way.
.- Apparently some persons have seen the damaging document referred to by the honorable member, but he certainly did not show it to me.
– I have not said that I did.
– Quite so. I can assure the honorable member that I did not tell him or any other honorable member on the occasion in question that I dd not think the item relating to hats would be dealt with that night. The honorable member for Grey will bear out my statement that it was fully expected that it would be dealt with during the sitting.
– In any event, the honorable member had no control over the Committee.’
– That is so. The honorable member for Coolgardie may have shown certain Ministers the document to which he has referred, and I think that, knowing that I had served my time at the trade concerned, he might also have shown it to me. There is a good deal to be said for as well as against the practice adopted by some manufacturers of selling direct only to the wholesale warehouses; but that point should not be allowed to obtrude itself into the discussion with respect to this particular duty. Why should every hat manufacturer be Called upon to suffer simply because one or two refuse to sell direct to retailers? As a matter of fact, the same system is followed in the woollen industry and the boot manufacturing trades. Many boot manufacturers refuse to supply retailers direct.
– But do two wrongs make a fight?
– I am not suggesting that they do. I pointed out, on a former occasion, that manufacturers in England who had been supplying retailers direct had gone out of the business. Those who adopted the same system here would have to keep a number of travellers on the roads, and to incur advertising and other charges, whilst they would also find it necessary to keep a watchful eye on the financial position of their customers. One manufacturer in Victoria commenced to supply retailers direct, but the Civil Service Co-operative Society - for which, by the way, I . have every respect - did not come to his assistance. It could buy caps to-day direct from the manufacturers, but it prefers to purchase them through the warehouses. I fail to see why the whole trade should be penalized because of any practice on the part of the Denton Hat Mills, of which the honorable member for Coolgardie disapproves. I appeal to honorable members to dismiss from their minds what he has said, and to vote on the merits of the question of whether or not the proposed duty should be imposed. I trust that the Committee will agree to the request, and so grant the industry an adequate measure of protection.
Question - That the proposed modification, leaving out of the requested amendment the words “ 16s. per dozen or,” and the words, “ whichever, rate returns the higher duty “ be agreed to (Mr. W. H. Irvine’s modification) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority .;. … 14
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed modification negatived.
Question - That the requested amendment, making the duty on Wool Felt Hats (item 121, paragraph a), (General Tariff), 16s. per dozen, or 35 per cent., ad val., whichever rate returns the higher duty ; (United Kingdom), 12s. per dozen, or 30 per cent, ad val., whichever rate returns the higher duty, be made - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 15
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Requested amendment made.
Item 121. Hats, Caps, and Bonnets. -
Request. - Make the duty (General Tariff) 25s. per dozen, or 35 per cent, ad val., whichever rate returns the higher duty ; (United Kingdom), 20s. per dozen, or 30 per cent ad val., whichever rate returns the higher duty.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the requested amendment be made.
– The arguments urged against the last request apply with equal force against this, but apparently it is of no use to present arguments to the Committee as at present constituted. A majority of honorable members appear to have made up their minds to back up the Government in every proposal that is made. We have a well-compiled schedule before us, but apparently only honorable members on this side are bothering about it. They desire to secure reductions of duties suggested by the Senate, or at least to retain the duties as the Tariff left this House. I am here defending the work already performed by this House. I ask honorable members opposite why they do not adhere to what was done when the Tariff was previously before the Committee. If they do not do so it will be because some of them are prepared to go back upon the votes which they previously gave. The honorable member for South Sydney as an ardent protectionist may be delighted with what is taking place, but I certainly am not. Either honorable members in the earlier consideration of the Tariff had not sufficiently considered the questions on which they expressed an opinion, or they are now shamelessly going back on what they previously did. Apparently, the Senate has only to make’ a request, and honorable members opposite immediately bow the knee. I have heard the claim made here repeatedly, that this is -the people’s House, and is intrusted with the protection of their interests.
– If the people had an opportunity to do so, they wouldcall for a higher Tariff than we are now passing.
– I do not know what would satisfy the Treasurer, who is a glutton for protection. It is significant that certain industries should be selected for special treatment!. Both in this House and in another place the hat industry has received more generous treatment than has been accorded to any other industry in the Commonwealth. If I were an ardent protectionist, I should desire tosee all industries treated alike,
– The honorable member is an ardent protectionist so far as the shipbuilding industry is concerned.
– I have stated openly that I ardently desire to assist the men engaged in the shipbuilding industry, and I should like to say now that they are already sufficiently taxed, and should not be asked to bear further taxation in the shape of a duty of 25s. per dozen on the felt hats they wear. There are a greater number of persons employed in the tobacco industry than in the hat industry, and I notice that honorable members were not so much concerned about those engaged in that industry.
– I think we made a mistake in dealing with cigars.
– I should like the honorable member to point out the mistake. It is strange that this House, and another place, should be so anxious to consider the interests of the manufacturers of hats.
Sitting suspended from1 to 2.15 p.m.
– There is another important phase of this question to which I desire to call attention, and I think there ought to be a quorum present - (Quorum formed]. The issue is not so much the suggested amendment by the Senate, but whether we shall allow another place to increase taxation. It is all very well for honorable members to stand on the platform and declare that this is the people’s House ; but if we make the suggested amendment, we shall be allowing a Chamber, in which the smallest State is equally represented with the largest, to increase the taxation of the people by imposing exorbitant duties on articles of common wear. It would appear that, for the sake of an increased duty, the Treasurer is prepared to surrender to the Senate this power to impose taxation.
– Would the honorable member allow the Senate to reduce taxation ?
– Most decidedly; because that would be in the interests of the public. When the Senate decreases taxation, the burden on the people is lessened.
– Certainly not, sc. far as protection is concerned.
– All that the Treasurer thinks about is protection.
– I also desire to reduce prices tothe public as a whole.
– Why should this, and one or two other industries, be given special concessions ?
– Because the Tariff is scientific.
– This Tariff contains more anomalies than did the old Tariff.
– Nonsense ! There are scarcely any anomalies in this Tariff.
– Of course the Treasurer looks upon his own child as without blemish. When the acting leader of the Opposition was complimenting the Treasurer on the completion of the first consideration of this Tariff, I objected, because, after a scramble, the Tariff had emerged much more unscientific than was the Tariff of 1902 ; and I have seen no reason to alter that opinion. The friends of this particular industry seem to have been able to marshal enough forces to upsetthe decision; arrived at by this House a tew months ago ; and I should very much like to know the reason for the change of front on the part of some honorable members.
– The honorable member knows perfectly well that Sydney is becoming a great protectionist centre.
– That is another question with which I shall deal at the proper time ; but I remind the Treasurer that I can distinguish a motor lamp, for instance, as quickly as he can. I did a little scrambling when the Tariff was last before us, and had openly expressed my intention of doing so ; but I never pretended that I was voting for “scientific” protection. On the present occasion, honorable members are scrambling in the interests of what is distinctly a Victorian industry ;. but they have not the pluck to admit the fact. For years’, the honorable member for South Sydney has been before the public as a democrat ; and I ask him whether he is prepared, for the sake of protection, to allow the Senate to be supreme in matters of taxation ?
Mr-. Watson. - I always back the Senate when it is right.
– Then the honorable member thinks that the Senate is right in increasing taxation ?
– No; I think they are right in suggesting that we should increase taxation.
-Ican only enter my emphatic protest against the proposed amendment; but I utterly lack the power of language to express my feelings. When we back down to the Senate and impose heavier taxation on the people, in the interests of, practically, one big factory, I say that such conduct is damnable.
– The honorable member, I think, will see that such language is scarcely parliamentary.
– Do I understand the Chairman to rule that the word “ damnable “ is not parliamentary? It is a word which is to be found in the scriptures; and I should like a ruling on the point.
– It is not a question of my ruling, but rather a question of propriety ; and I think the honorable member will acknowledge that the use of such language ought not to be encouraged.
– Let me inform honorable members who are so squeamish that the adjective figures most prominently in some of our greatest works ; and, if honorable members are not aware of that fact, I regret their lack of classical culture. I can only repeat that legislation of this character is damnable. If we feel strongly on an)’ question, we cannot use rose-scented sentences; and the people, who have to pay these duties, have no time to be mealymouthed, especially when they know that the duties are imposed practically in the interests of one flourishing manufactory. The honorable member for Coolgardie has shown that the particular company to’ which I refer is able to give away 15 per cent, per annum to its shareholders, so that it cannot be said that these duties are necessary to rescue a languishing concern. It is common report that those connected with this Victorian manufactory have openly boasted on each occasion that they knew how the numbers stood in Parliament; and I must say that they seem to have very successfully piloted these items through the Senate. I know that it would be useless for me to submit an amendment, and, therefore, I can only enter my protest. It is most remarkable that there should be a duty of 2s.1d. on a hat that may possibly cost only10d ; and such duties are calculated to make any one angry. I am particularly astonished at the action of the Labour Party in this connexion. It will be observed that the engineer and the ironworker is not favoured with any composite or alternative duty, and does not enjoy protection to the extent of anything like 35 per cent. I have voted all through for the lowest possible duties on the necessaries of life, and I shall continue to do so. It is not the desire of the workers that tax should be heaped on tax.
– This is not a tax.
– I suppose the honorable member regards the duty as a blessing? Mr. Coon. - Yes.
– The duty will cause a reduction in the price of hats.
– Then why not makethe duty 50s., so that the consumers may, perhaps, get their hats for nothing?
– If the duty were 50s. per dozen, it would probably reduce prices very much, because all the work would be done in Australia.
– Apparently, the Treasurer regards the Senate as quite right, so long as it proposes increases in the Tariff ; but I hope that honorable members will, by their votes, emphasize the criminal character of this double-faced duty.
.- The argument put forward by the honorable member for Dalley is one which the Minister will find considerable difficult)’ in meeting, not that I think Ministers want to meet any argument, or to approach even the confines of argument, in bullocking the Tariff through this Chamber. One thing I noticed most forcibly this morning, when we had a unique opportunity of voting with the ayes, was that the Ministerial benches were denuded even of the schedules with which the Committee is now dealing. On this side of the chamber one sees the schedule everywhere, and honorable members attempting to deal with the business of the Committee.
– There are not many members on that side.
– I do not think there were any members in the Ministerial corner until a quorum was called for.
– We were waiting until the honorable member had finished speaking.
– If the honorable member had been attending he would have known that I have only just risen. Apparently what was being said was opposed to his. views, and therefore he did not listen. That seems to be the attitude adopted by honorable members opposite in dealing with the Tariff.
– They are “ bullocking “ it through.
– Sometimes it is “ bullocking “ it through, and sometimes “sneaking “ it through, when they refuse pairs.
– The honorable member repeats that statement. He knows that it is incorrect.
– I do not know that it is incorrect. If anybody cares to pick up the pair lists and division lists on this item, he will see that there are a large number of honorable members who would have voted had they been here, or paired, had they been given the opportunity, against the higher duties.
– We stood out five men for you yesterday, and youhad not a man out. .. .
– If the honorable member; wishes to disprove my statement, let him take up the division and pair lists, and show that I am wrong. This want of interest in the business of the Committee-
– Through your men being absent and wanting pairs, instead of attending to their duties.
– Absent looking after their business thousands of miles away. It is all very well for those like the honorable member who live in Melbourne to talk.
– The Government whip ha. cast a serious reflection by interjection on a number of honorable members. I do not think he meant it seriously, but I cannot allow it to pass unchallenged. The Government have stated time and again that they would give every facility to members of the Public Service to attend the manoeuvres of the Defence Forces. The honorable member for Brisbane is away doing his country’s work, and all through I have had to sacrifice the claims of other honorable members in order to find him a pair. The lack of interest on the part of the Committee in the passage of these items - and in that connexion what has occurred with regard to hats is very significant - explains to some extent the. extraordinary reversal of form shown by some honorable members. ‘ Every one regrets to see honorable members changing their votes unless they are able to show that that change has come about because they have better appreciated the facts, or because new facts have come before them. I have noticed that not one. of those honorable members who have reversed their votes on this question has seen fit) to give the Committee any reasons for his change of attitude. “I challenge contradiction of that statement.
– They are answerable to their constituents and not to the Committee.
– Every honorable member is answerable to the country if he changes his attitude upon a public question, and cannot, or does not see fit to explain to the country, through the Committee, the reasons for that change. I do not say that honorable members who have reversed their votes on this question cannot explain their action, but the fact, remains that they have not attempted to do so.
– It is very unwise to explain anything at any time.
– If the honorable member considers it unwise to take one’s constituents into one’s confidence, and impolitic to express one’s opinions fearlessly, I shall not attempt to argue with him. It is about time a protest was made against the reckless way in which people change their votes upon questions which largely affect the public weal and the pockets of some of the poorest amongst us. On those questions, if upon any, honorable members should endeavour to be consistent.
– The honorable member is not in order in reflecting upon any honorable member’s vote.
– I am not reflecting upon their votes. If the honorable member regards it as a reflection to say that they have changed their votes without giving any explanation for their action, he is welcome to his opinion. Like the honorable member, they may refuse to be “ slaves to principle.” But their constituents’ and this House have a perfect right to ask for an explanation, which has not been given, of the change of front about which I have complained.
Question - That the requested amendment making the duty on Fur Felt Hats (item 121, paragraph b) (General Tariff) 25s. per dozen or 35 per cent, ad val., whichever rate returns the higher duty ; and (United Kingdom) 20s. per dozen, or 30 per cent, ad val., whichever rate returns the higher duty, be made - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 12
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Requested amendment made.
Requested amendment leaving out “ Caps “ from item 121, paragraph d, made.
Item 121. Hats, Caps, and Bonnets.
Request. - Insert the following new paragraph :- “.(e) Caps and Sewn Hats, n.e.i. (General
Tariff), 7s. per dozen, or 35 per cent, ad val., whichever rate returns the higher duty ; (United Kingdom), 6s. per dozen, or 30 per cent, ad val., whichever rate returns the higher duty.”
– I propose to accept the wording of the new paragraph and the duties. I move- -
That the requested amendment be made.
– Mr. Chairman, you may have noticed the inflection of the Treasurer’s voice when he said “ I propose to accept the alteration and the duties.”
– No; I said that I proposed to accept the wording of the new paragraph and the duties.
– The honorable gentleman uttered the words very quietly. Here is another instance where he bows down to the Senate. He will accept anything in the way of an increased duty.
– The Senate is now the taxing House.
– Exactly, and the Treasurer is willing to accept every request for an increased duty.
– That is a very good thing, is it not?
– The Treasurer, because he is anxious to get his Tariff passed, is surrendering the power of this Chamber to the Senate.
– Not at all. That question was fought out here in 1902.
Mr. -WILKS.- It will be fought out again. When, for his own convenience, the honorable gentleman asks honorable mem bers to accept this request, he is extending to the Senate, which is not the people’s House, the power to increase the duties fixed by this Chamber. I do not wish to repeat the arguments which were used in connexion with the previous request. I am really unable to find any words with which to express adequately the attitude of honorable members on the other side to-day. But the time will come when they will be found protesting against the exercise of such power by the Senate. I venture to prophesy that if this course be persisted in, the people of Australia will eventually be called upon to alter the Constitution.
– The Senate does not exercise the taxing power. We are exercising it.
– We are exercising the power at the dictation of the Senate.
– No, at their request.
– Four months ago the honorable member could not get this Chamber to exercise this power.
– I did not try.
– We are exercising the power, I repeat, at the dictation of the Senate, and the word “request” is just a euphemism for the word “ dictation.” On caps and sewn hats’, which can be purchased at 8d. each, we are asked to levy a duty of /d. each. Is the Australian cap industry so paralyzed that it requires a protective duty of 7d. ‘on. a rag cap?
– The honorable member is forgetting that the duty on British sewn hats is only 6d. each.
– Fancy the hat manufacturers of Victoria being so weak that they require a duty of 7d. on a sewn hat which is retailed at 8d. ! It will be a crime to impose a duty of that kind. How is it that the hat industry has so many friends in this Chamber and the Senate? How is it that it can marshal its forces so well? I do not know how true it is, but I am told that “some members of this House are interested in the industry. I would not like to suggest that that is the reason for their votes. Surely we are not all shareholders in the Denton Hat Mills.
– They do not make caps and sewn hats.
– Surely we are not all interested in the hat factories.
– It is of no use for the honorable member to drag in the Denton Hat Mills.
– The honorable member knows very well that what I said about the
Denton Hat Mills applies to the manufacturers of these caps arid sewn hats. He is an ardent supporter of the Denton Hat Mills, but surely he is not such an ardent supporter of the cap factories that he wants to impose a duty of 7d. on an article worth 8d. retail.
– Do not the factories in Sydney make these caps?
– Yes, and they do not want this duty.
– They say that they do.
– Of course, they would ask for a duty of 5s. if they thought that’ honorable members would be foolish enough to accede to their request, but they can make these articles without that assistance.
– At sweated wages.
– How much of this duty of7d. per cap will the labourer get? What guarantee is there that with the imposition of these high duties - presumably in the interest of what is termed sweated labour - the worker is going to receive any benefit? None,
– The new protection will give him a benefit.
– It is time that the honorable member dropped the new protection.
– We are not going to drop it.
– It is a nice thing to hold up to the people at the next election that is all.
– During this session they will get the new protection if all goes well.
– Hear, hear. .
Mr.WILKS. - I shall be a more earnest advocate of that policy in the future than I have been. ‘ When it was first mooted’ here, I said that, as a free-trader, I would support its adoption. I did not withhold my view until I hadfelt the pulse of the House. I declared myself immediately the policy was suggested. I certainly will support its application to every industry which receives assistance under this Tariff. If it is advocated by honorable members, in the interest of the worker, I shall do all I can to see that he gets some benefit out of its enactment.
– That is if the honorable member gets a chance.
– Yes. So far Ihave not got a chance, and I do not intend to vote for a pig in a poke. All I know is that the new protection does not exist, and that we are asked to impose higher duties on various articles, with the fiscal system existing just asit did four or five years ago and without affording any special benefit to the workers.
– How much did they get out of McKay?
Mr.WILKS. - We have not obtained our pound of flesh from McKay, but he has secured many pounds of flesh from the Commonwealth, because, so far, our legislation has been abortive. ‘ That is a strong reason why. honorable members opposite should hesitate before they impose a higher duty on caps and sewn hats. Are they not satisfied with an ad valorem duty of 35 per cent?
– No. The honorablemember’s leader said that it should be 50 per cent.
– Will the honorable member support an increase of the duty on machinery from 25 per cent to 35 per cent. ?
– I hope so.
– It will simply be a case of hope deferred making the heart sick.
– They put machinery for hat making on the free list.
Mir. WILKS.- If theTreasurer will intimate that he will go for an increased duty on machinery, my opposition to this item will cease.
– I do not know whether an increased duty has been suggested by the Senate.
– The honorable gentleman knows very well that it has not been.
– Why did the honorable member try to catch me with a catch question ?
– What sort of a catch would I have if I caught the honorable gentleman - a very slippery eel. If I landed him in a basket, he would be out of it the next minute. From his interjection, one would have thought that he did not know that the Senate had not requested an increased duty. When I pursued the matter,’ he admitted that no such request had been made. The machinery industry is more extensive in New South Wales than elsewhere, but. this, and other industries which are being specially treated, are located in Victoria. I do not wish to be a State protectionist, but merely to emphasize the fact that differential treatment is being applied to our industries. I hope that the Committee will reject this request of the Senate. It is easy to see that honorable members on the other side are colour-blind to-day. They are prepared to vote just as the Treasurer desires. All I can do is to place on record my strong objection to the increased duty requested by the Senate on caps and sewn hats.
.- There is a section of honorable members who are supposed to be on the moderate side of the fiscal question, and it is to them that we may hope to appeal. Certainly, it is of no use to appeal to the majority of my honorable friends opposite ; because they seem disposed to vote for any duty which will act in the way of prohibition. That is their goal, pure and simple, and, therefore, they are only consistent. But I venture to hope that there is a number of honorable members who, not being prohibitionists, will vote with us against the imposition of this monstrous duty on caps and sewn hats. From whichever point of view it is regarded, it is a monstrous .duty. It is one’ which particularly affects the poorer classes.
– It makes their caps’ cheaper.
– Well, if it does, so much the better, but I take leave to doubt that it operates in that direction. My experience is that some of these duties are making things very much dearer, and that, I venture to say, is my honorable friend’s experience if he would only be candid.
– Protection, makes my clothes cheaper.
– Perhaps the honorable gentleman goes to a cheap place for them. ‘
– No, I go to the dearest place.
– I know that the high duties do not make my clothes cheaper, but very much dearer.
– Not a bit of it. The honorable member must buy imported stuff.
– My tailor As candid enough to say so too.
– He is a free-trader, I suppose. He makes up imported cloth.
– I should think that he did, but I happen to know that he makes up a good deal of colonial cloth.
– Which the honorable member does not wear.
– I shall not try to make political capital out of what I wear, because that is playing politics low down. I try to get my clothes as cheaply as possible, consistent with quality.
– The honorable member likes sweating, too.
– That is a monstrous . statement for ‘the honorable member to make.
– If the clothes are cheap, the workers must be sweated.
– As the honor-able gentleman wants to know my business, I do not mind telling him that I payabout £6 for a sac suit.
– I pay £7.
– If that is sweating, then I do sweat the worker, but that is quite as much as I can afford to give. With regard to caps and sewn hats, we are asked to agree to a duty of 7s. per dozen, or 35 per cent, ad valorem, whichever rate returns the higher duty. On the ordinary cap which a workman buys for is., that means a duty of from 100 to 120 per cent, at the very least.
– No, it does not; because he buys the Australian-made cap at a lower price.
– My point is that Australian manufacturers of caps do not need these extravagant duties. Whenever I can buy a locally-made article, I do so.
– We all do so.
– I have no antipathy to Australian manufactures, and have never said a word against them. On the contrary, I have made it the rule of my life to encourage them where that could be done legitimately, and the honorable member for Riverina has heard me say repeatedly that we should buy Australian goods when we can get them. But our makers of caps do not need the protection of duties equivalent to from 100 to 150 per cent, ad valorem. If there were something extraordinarily difficult or speculative in this manufacture,. T could understand the request for such rates, to give a fair insurance to the capital and skill requisite. But the manufacture is of the simplest description. Almost any one can make a cap. The Minister is piling on duties for the sheer love of doing so.
– If these high rates ‘are needed for the protection of the makers of head coverings, why are not similar rates needed for the protection of makers of clothing?
– Exactly. Much more complicated and expensive machinery, and greater skill are needed for the production of clothing than are necessary for the manufacture of caps and hats, and yet, while rates of 30 and 40 per cent are considered sufficient in the one case, in the other, rates from 100 to 150 per cent, are asked for. No one would object to a protection of 30 or 40 per cent, for the hat and cap manufacturers. Such duties would make up for the difference between rates of wages and conditions in Australia and elsewhere. There is no reason, justice, or equity, in imposing the rates which are asked for. On a cap for which a wearer pays about 3s., the rates will be only 35 per cent., but the ad valorem percentage increases as the value of the cap decreases, so that the lowest priced cap, which, of course, is purchased by the poorest, will have to bear a duty of from 100 to 150 per cent. That is a monstrous inequality, and the irony of the situation is that these high rates are not necessary for the protection of the industry. I am at a loss to understand why the Minister persists in them. They are a disgrace and blot upon the schedule, even from a protectionist point of view, and I protest most strongly against them.
.- The honorable member assumes in respect to hatsand caps, as he has assumed in regard to other articles, that Australia must for all time purchase imported goods.
– Not at all.
– The honorable member must do so, because he says that the duty will be added to the price of the locally-made goods. At the present time, Australian hat and cap manufacturers have to pay a duty of 35 per cent; on their raw material.
– Cannot they use colonial tweed?
– They cannot at the present time get locally the particular class of tweed which they need.
– They buy the imported tweed because they find it cheaper.
– Does the honorable member say that duties do not increase the cost of articles?
– If a duty is placed on an article which is not being made in Australia, the price is, for a time, increased thereby, but the effect of the duty is to bring about local manufacture, which ultimately reduces the price.
– Does the honorable member say that tweed for ‘the manufacture of caps cannot be made in Australia?
– The importations of sewn hats and caps were valued in 1903 at £8,275, in 1904 at . £11,695, in 1905 at £21,899, and in 1906 at£29,584, showing a continual increase in consequence of an inadequate protection.
– That was in spite of a duty which was not in force in New South Wales prior to Federation.
– No one knows better than does the honorable member that Federation has been the salvation of New South Wales, because it has given her a protective Tariff, under which she has progressed by leaps and bounds.
– I do not know that. New South Wales did not need salvation. Prior to Federation, and under free-trade, she was progressing more rapidly than any other State.
– No State has made greater progress than New South Wales under the protective Tariff of the ‘Commonwealth.
– Let the honorable member tell the people of Sydney that.
– I have done so. The people of New South Wales acknowledged the fact when they returned fewer members of the Opposition party to this Parliament than were in the last Parliament.
– Several of the Ministerial supporters were also rejected.
– I have risen to reply to the statement of the honorable member for Dalley that caps and hats of the particular class covered by the item are not being made in Australia. I find that they are being made by no fewer than seven firms in Sydney, and six in Victoria. Would it not be better, instead of sending abroad annually£30,000 for the purchase of hats and caps, to let the money filter through our own factories, providing employment for our own people at good wages, instead of paying for sweated labour elsewhere. We can control the conditions of employment here, but we cannot control those which obtain upon the Continent.
– We can control the conditions of employment in Melbourne, but not those which prevail at Braybrook. Therefore, go to Braybrook.
– There is no need for me to say any more to show that, if the industry be properly encouraged, it will capture the whole of the local trade.
Mr. KELLY (Wentworth) _312]During the course of this debate we have heard a good deal of the benefit which the imposition of the proposed duty will confer upon the workers in the hat industry. We know perfectly well what it will accomplish for the manufacturers, and if I thought that they were entitled to the advantages which it will give them, I should not offer any strenuous opposition to it. But, in my opinion, the protection which is already afforded them is ‘ exorbitant. However, I chiefly rose for the purpose of eliciting a little more information from those honorable members who appear to be absolutely certain that the workers will obtain their share, from these burdens being placed upon the taxpayers of the country.
– There is no burden.
– The Treasurer may not regard a duty of more than 50 per cent, upon caps as a burden, but the poor persons who have to purchase them will certainly find it so. The honorable member for Riverina stated that we can control the conditions of employment and the fixing of wages in this country, but does he not know that some time ago one of the largest manuf acturers of agricultural implements in Victoria removed his works from one locality, where his operations would have been subject to the control of a Wages Board, to another locality where they would be free from such control ?
– What has that to do with the question? There was no new protection law in existence then.
– I am aware that -there is a new protection law in existence now, but I also know that its validity has been challenged. >
– Will the honorable member assist us to bring the new protection into operation ?
– I’ ‘am now anxiously awaiting the judgment of the High Court in regard to the validity of the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act.
– Will the honorable member assist us to give effect to the new protection ?
– If the honorable member will vote with me to secure lower duties upon all these items in the Tariff, and it is afterwards- found that it is possible to give effect to the new protection, I shall be prepared to dp all I can to meet him in that direction. In the meantime, I appeal to the Committee to defer the imposition of these high duties until we have been assured that it is possible for the workers to obtain some benefit from them.
– If we cut down all the high duties, it will be impossible to give effect to the new protection.
– If we cut them down to a normal level, and it is subsequently found possible to give effect to the new protection, there may then be. some reason to ask for the imposition of higher duties. But if honorable members opposite merely wish to assist Messrs. McKay and Company, and others, who establish their factories outside the jurisdiction of the Wages Boards, let them be honest enough to say so.
.- I am not able to support the request made by the Senate in regard to caps. This Committee has already imposed an ad valorem rate upon them, and I fail to see why its decision should be departed from. Of course, it may be said that in the last two divisions - in which I voted1 with the Government - I supported somewhat similar proposals. That. I submit, is not so, inasmuch as the fixed duties of 16s. per dozen and 25s. per dozen in those cases were the rates sanctioned by this House.
– But when they were imposed the right honorable member voted against them.
– It is not, in my opinion, within our powers to deal with the rate of 16s. per dozen already agreed to by this House and not objected to by the Senate.
– The 35 per cent, rate is a new duty.
– It seems to me that that duty is nothing compared with the specific duty of 16s. per dozen, which is equivalent to about 100 per cent.
– It only represents that percentage upon the low-grade hats, which can be manufactured locally.
– I am altogether opposed to 35 per cent, duties, but as this House has already agreed to 35 per cent..and 30 per cent, in respect of this paragraph, it has not now the power to reverse its decision. I cannot support the alternative request of the Senate to make the duty 7s. per dozen.
.- I do not like fixed duties to be imposed upon these articles. I should prefer ad valorem rates to be levied. Upon this class of goods specific duties are equivalent to very high ad valorem rates, and we know .that competition is most severe in regard to the lower priced articles. I feel impelled to vote for the Government proposal, because a duty of 35 per cent, has already been imposed upon the raw materials from which caps are made.
– Why do not the manufacturers use Australian wool ?
– The same question might be raised as the objection to all these duties? Why not wear Australianmade caps? I repeat that we have to recollect that 35 per cent, has been imposed on the materials of which these caps are made. Consequently the proposal to levy a similar rate upon the completed article would afford it no protection’ whatever. I prefer an ad valorem, duty to a fixed duty, in order that the higher priced goodsmay pay more to the revenue. So far as the amount of duty is concerned, 35 per cent, does not seem to me to give any margin for the local manufacturers, bearing in mind the fact that the material from which the goods are made pays about the same rate of duty.
– Apparel and attire are taxed at 40 and 35 per cent.
– I see no reason why hats, caps, and bonnets should not pay 45 per cent. Then there would be a margin for the local manufacturers. Honorable members cannot maintain that the freight on made-up goods of this character is higher than the freight on the piece goods out of which they are made.
– Will the honorable member vote for a duty of 35 per cent. ?
– I am afraid that we cannot get that. If there is a proposal to make the duty 45 per cent. I shall support it. If such a proposal is made and lost I shall vote for the fixed duty, because I am not going to place the manufacturers at a disadvantage. We must considerthe fact that under the 35 per cent, duty there was a very great increase in the number of hats imported. The imports increased from a few thousands ofpounds’ worth to over £30,000 worth in two or three years.
.- I think that one may be excused for again drawing attention to the fact that we are yielding too much to the requests of the Senate. We are approaching some very important items, and we must remember that under the Constitution the Senate has not the power to initiate Bills dealing with taxation. But substantially the Senate is doing that very thing if the Minister comes down and accepts a great number of suggestions for in creasing duties, and, with the aid of a majority which has changed opinions, places them on the statute-book. If honorable members will refresh their memories by looking up section 53 of the Constitution, they will find that it sustains my view.
– We have thrashed this matter out.
– I think the honorable gentleman needs reminding of it. The very first words of that section are -
Proposed laws appropriating revenue or moneys, or imposing taxation, shall not originate in the Senate.
All that we have to do, however, is to push a little further the principle of suggestions, making it applicable to almost every one of the items in this Tariff, and we shall have the Senate acting as the controlling spirit in matters of taxation. The real privilege of the Senate lies in its power of negativing Bills in detail. That is different from the power possessed by the. House of Lords. The whole Budget - the whole scheme of’ taxation for the year - is submitted to the House of Lords in one Bill. We cannot do that under our Constitution. The great protection to the Senate against any domineering’ by this. House is that we must send up a Bill dealing only with one matter of taxation at a time. But it was never intended that the Senate should be enabled, with the aid of a Minister, to usurp the constitutional functions of this House in the matter of originating taxation. Again I remind honorable members of this fact. Suppose that a dissolution takes place on this question of the Tariff-. If we go to our constituents on what are we to rely? If the Senate say, “ We ‘reject your Bill in toto, and send you to your constituencies for a fresh mandate,” are we to go to our constituents on the question that was beforethis House before this Bill was sent to the Senate, or on the Bill after it came back from the Senate? A - pretty muddle we should be in if, having given our deliberate opinion upon a Bill sent to the Senate, we afterwards reversed that opinion, and went to our constituents, not for correction of our opinions as originally declared by our votes, but for the correction of the new opinions which we have adopted from the Senate. The thing is ridiculous from a constitutional stand-point ; and I call attention to it again, acknowledging that, while we are bound to consider suggestions from the Senate, we are not bound to consider suggestions of a character which practically amount to the initiation of taxation by the Senate.
– I have heard so much about the powers of the Senate that I wish to say a few words on that aspect of the question, The Senate, as stated by the honorable and learned member for Angas, has made certain suggestions. The honorable member has complained that the Minister is asking us to adopt too many of those suggestions. But I would remind’ him that nothing can be done by the Minister if a majority of this House is opposed to the Senate’s requests. It is the right of every citizen of the Commonwealth to approach this House, and ask for an increase or decrease of taxation. We have during our Tariff debates received requests in the form of petitions from manufacturers, merchants, and importers for the increase or decrease of duties. Surely the Senate ought to be able to make requests to this House as freely as outside individuals can do? Therefore, I think that these reflections on the power of the Senate to make requests are altogether uncalled for.
– The suggestion thathas been made by the honorable member for Boothby is one that the Committee might very well consider. There can be no doubt that we are here increasing taxation according as the value of the goods decreases. That is to say, we are imposing a far heavier tax upon articles worn by the poorer classes than on similar articles worn by those who have more money to spend. I intend to propose that the duties be 45 and 40 per cent. The Senate has accepted those rates of duty on other articles of apparel.
– I cannot vote for the honorable member’s proposition if it is put in that way.
– Surely that is the suggestion which the honorable member made.
– But consider the form in which the honorable member is making it.
– What we have to consider is not so much the form in which the proposal is put. as the rate’ of duty that should be levied.
– The honorable member cannot move an increase.
– We could bring this item under the heading of apparel, and so secure in respect of it the duty I have mentioned. In order to give the Com mittee an opportunity to vote that the duty on caps and sewn hats shall be the same as that on slop-made clothing and other goods coming under the item of “apparel,” I move -
Thatthe requested amendment be modified by leaving out the words “ 7s. per dozen or.”
.- I should like to know, Mr. Chairman, whether it will be competent for the honorable member for Franklin, in the event of his proposal being carried, to move the omission of the words “ 35 per cent.,” with the object of inserting the words “ 40 per cent.”
– I think it would not be wise to deal with that point until it arises.
– I would urge the honorable member to consider what will be our position if the amendment which he has just moved is carried.
– If it is carried, the Treasurer willtake such a vote as an instruction to him to propose that the duty suggested by another place.be increased.
– We should then have to consider what power we have to deal with a matter which has been accepted by another place
– We have’ had a ruling on that point.
– No: the ruling to which the honorable member refers related to a case in which an alternative proposal was made. Herewe have no alternative ; we simply have a proposition that the duty shall be increased from 35 per cent, to 40 per cent. I think that the honorable member for Franklin will find himself in a dilemma if he presses his proposal. Speaking to the general question, I would say’ that I have had some experience of that part of the great city of London where hats arid caps are manufactured. Any one who has seen the conditions under which work is carried on there, would hesitate to urge that they should be repeated here.
– Would not that remark apply also to the slop-made clothing trade ?
– The conditions of the slop-made clothing trade are bad, but those of the cap-making industry are infinitely worse. The industry is at the very lowest depth of manufacturing degradation in that dreadful portion of the city of London known as the East End.
– I do not think that the industry there is much worse than is the slop-made clothing trade there.
– I think that it is ; there are influences operating to keep the readymade clothing trade in a better position.” In the first place, the price of the material used in the ready-made clothing trade is somewhat higher than that used in the manufacture of caps, and consequently the sweaters in the clothing trade in the East End of London require some guarantee that those to whom they issue such material to be made up will return it. Then again there is greater supervision over the clothing trade than there is over the cap-making industry. I know that caps are made there under the most degrading conditions. I would therefore ask the Committee to agree with the request made by another place, with a view of excluding - and I frankly admit thatI should like to see them excluded - these goods, which, both in the matter of manufacture and quality,’ are not such as to commend them to our better judgment. Some honorable members appear to think that because an article is offered at a low price it is necessarily cheap. It is well known that the cheapest articles often prove in the long run to be the dearest.
– Why not. exclude the rich man’s hat in the same way ?
– If we increase the duty upon such hats by 5 per cent, we shall do something in that direction.
– I thought that the honorable member for Boothby and others opposite had been arguing all day that the imposition of a duty does not increase the price of the goods to which it is applied.
-I have heard no such statement to-day.
– I think that the honorable member for Boothby said that if people did not like to pay the. price charged for imported hats they could buy those locally produced. I took that to mean that the duty would not affect the price of the locally-made article.
– The local article is very much cheaper. The best silk hat made in Australia can be purchased for 25s. ; but one cannot obtain a good “ Lincoln and Bennett “ for less than 30s. As the Committee has agreed to increase the duty on hats, it must, in order to be consistent, consent to an increased duty on caps. We should go even further, and make the duty higher. A great deal has been said about the increased cost which this duty of 7s. per dozen will involve. Do honorable members know that imported caps are invoiced at 4s. and 5s. per dozen?
– Are not some of the locally-made caps invoiced at very low prices ?
– I hope so; I am quite satisfied that they would be of much better quality than the imported caps offering at a low price.
– The local cap manufacturers import their material.
– They do so because it consists, not of wool, but of shoddy - a by-product - which can be purchased at a very low price. Then, again, many remnants are used in the cap-making industry-.
– The honorable member wishes to encourage those who use that shoddy by imposing a duty of 150 per cent.
– The local manufacturer has to deal with things as he finds them. There is a demand for a certain class of goods, and he has and will have to supply that demand until under this new Tariff the people are taught to realize that if they wish to enjoy the true benefit of cheapness they must buy articles of good quality. It is not always true economy to purchase an article at a low price.
– Some men have only sixpence in their pockets.
– They are catered for by the local manufacturer, who uses the imported shoddy tweeds I have referred to, and they will not suffer if we agree to the duties proposed.
– Let us get to a vote. .
– The honorable member is not more anxious to go to a vote than I am. In this connexion I may tell him something that happened under my own eyes recently. A Minister was temporarily absent from the chamber, and the Government whip, or, as I suppose I should call him, the Secretary to the Cabinet, arranged so that the Opposition whip kept the debate going until theMinister came back.
– Will the honorable member be good enough to say that again ?
– I cannot be blamed in the circumstances for saying a word or two on the question. We should not lose sight of the fact that these articles are made elsewhere, under conditions which we have no desire to see obtaining in Australia. They are landed at a very low cost, and the imposition of these duties would not increase the cost to the consumer.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. The honorable member for Laanecoorie said he had seen the Government whip and the Opposition whip making an arrangement to keep the debate going until a Minister, who was absent, returned to the chamber. The Government whip is present, and I now call upon him to say whether the statement made by the honorable member for Laanecoorie is not absolutely devoid of foundation?
– As a personal explanation, I may say that the Government whip might easily deny the statement made by the honorable member for Wentworth. I did not say that I had seen him make an arrangement with the Opposition whip. What’ 1 said was that I knew that the Government whip desired that the debate should be kept going.
– The honorable member said nothing like that.
– I saw the honorable member for Wentworth jump into the breach, and make one of his always interesting speeches, and from that I drew the inference that a friendly arrangement had been made with the honorable member to keep the debate going.
– Perhaps I had better say that I made no arrangement with the Opposition whip. The arrangement I made was with the honorable member for Laanecoorie to keep the debate going for three minutes. As a matter of fact, however, it was not necessary that the honorable member should do- so, because the honorable member for Wentworth jumped into the breach and kept the debate going.
.- I hope the Committee will agree to make the requested amendment. We have already accepted amendments requested by. the Senate in connexion with duties’ on hats, and I venture to say that we are now dealing with a branch of the industry which is just as important. Lastyear capswere imported to the value of about , £29,000. Some of these caps were made by persons who received wages of only 3s. per week.
-In Great Britain. The workersin the industry have also to work for from ten to twelve hours per day. These caps are sent out here invoiced at. 3s. per dozen. I ask honorable members opposite, and especially the honorable member for Parramatta, who only a few months ago stated that the manufacturers of hats in the Old Country did not sweat their employes-, but provided good wages and conditions, to say whether the same can be said for the manufacturers of caps. Are they not aware that in Great Britain to-day persons employed in this industry have to work from ten to twelve hours per day for 3s. per week ? .
– Is this a sweated industry all over the world ?
– It is not a sweated industry in Victoria.
– Then we do not require a higher duty.
– Does the honorable member say. that we require a higher duty to prevent sweating?
– Is it for the benefit of the manufacturer ?
– It is to increase the opportunities for employment afforded to people here. When it is remembered that people engaged in this industry in Australia receive£1 per week for work which is paid for in the Old Country at 3s. per week, it will be admitted that they require some protection. I ask any honorable member who desires to put down sweating, and amongst others the honorable member ‘for Parramatta, not to allow the sweated goods of other countries to be imported.
– How is it that apparel made in Great Britain under similar conditions is not made dutiable to the same extent?
– I should altogether prohibit the importation of hats and caps and other apparel made under such conditions.
– That is right ; build a Chinese wall around Australia.
– The people of New South Wales desire that such: a wall should be built. The Tariff has had such! an effect on the prosperity of New South Wales that on Monday last the Sydney trams carried 580,000 people, or more than ever carried in a single day previously. New South Wales is prospering, and the people of that State are asking for more protection.
– Does the honorable member say that the good seasons in New South Wales are due to a bounty on rain ?
– I say that the increased prosperity of New South Wales is due, to a very large extent, to the present protective policy. The people of that State, as I say, are asking for more protection, and, if the New South Wales representatives will not vote to give that protection, we Victorian representatives will do so.
House adjourned at 3.54 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 24 April 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1908/19080424_reps_3_45/>.