3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. DEAKIN laid upon the table the following papers -
Advertising the Resources of Australia - Correspondence with the States, 24th December, 1907, to 24th March, 1908.
Immigration and Advertising Australia - Correspondence with State Premiers, 5th February to 10th April, 1908.
Ordered to be printed. .
Further correspondence respecting Papuan land officials.
Papua - Timber Ordinance.
Excise Procedure Act - Provisional Regula tions- Statutory Rules 1908, No. 45.
Military Forces - Military Order No. 68, of 24th March, 1908- Australian Army Medical Corps Reserve.
Defence Acts -
Military Forces - Regulation 56A (Substi tuted - Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1908, No. 44. Military. Cadet Corps - Regulation 2 of Section I. Amended (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1908, No. 49.
Naval Forces - Financial and Allowance Regulations - No. 49A Amended (Provisional) - Statutory Rules1908, No. 43.
“Massacres “ of Natives - Land Settlement.
– I wish to know if the Prime Minister hasread the paragraph in this morning’s Age, headed “ Papuan Natives’ Outbreak,” wherein it is stated that the outbreak is “ regarded as an unpleasant sign of the times.” There is also published” a letter from a resident of Port Moresby, the writer of which says - .
In the vicinity of Cloudy Bay, a district that has been settled for seventeen years, and the natives informed that the Government would protect them if they gave up their arms, . no fewer than forty natives have, during the last twelve months, been massacred in cold blood in twos and threes. These massacres have occurred upon the track between Port Moresby and Kokoda, and others again at Kerema, not five miles from the residency. I am also informed that the natives at. Cape Nelson arc absolutely out of hand, and massacres may occur at any time.
Can the honorable and learned gentleman say whether there is serious unrest amongst native tribes, and, if so, whether it has been caused, as alleged, by the present condition of dissension and unrest in the Government service of Papua?
– On the 21st March, the Papuan Government was asked to supply information with respect to the rumoured murders of natives at different times during the last six months at Cloudy Bay, on the south coast of Papua, of murders of natives on the Gulf of Papua, and on the’ track from Port Moresby to Kokoda. A telegram was . received on the 24th inst. as follows -
Reply despatch eight two five eight three, March twenty-third. - No knowledge massacres referred to. Patrol under Strong and Bell left Samarai March twenty-third, inquire alleged native murders west of Eastern Division. Strong returned April eleventh; four prisoners. Bel) and patrol still in field. Report yesterday received from Resident Magistrate, Gulf ; Buchanan and Charpentier were attacked Kaipani River, . Port Romilly, March twenty-fifth, twenty-sixth; both escaped unhurt, otherwise all quiet. I leave for Gulf Monday twentieth.
The word “massacre” has been improperly used. Murders of natives by natives are continually taking place all over Papua, and occasionally even in the most settled districts. They are due to the causes to which I alluded when the subject was being debated in connexion with the Estimates, such as charges or countercharges of witchcraft, or other conflicts of native rights or beliefs. The Government has no information as to any increase in the average number of these acts of vio-. lence; The complaints, so far as one is able to trace them, . appear, as a rule, to have emanated from three or four persons no longer in the Government service.
– I should like to know -
If the Prime Minister cannot answer the questions now, I shall put themon the notice-paper for to-morrow. .
– I hope to give the honorable . member further information tomorrow, but may say now that the two settlers mentioned seem to have pressed on into country not yet even under general supervision, and consequently can only be surveying land with aview to settlement. Technically, “ native land “ within the settled districts is taken to mean the lands which the natives have used, or are in the way of using; the areas between the lands of one village and those of its neighbour have always been considered open. Judge Murray has set out to inquire into the matter.
– The Prime Minister says that statements such as that read by the honorable member for Nepean have usually emanated from three or four persons no longer in the Government service.
– That has been evident in several cases.
– I would ask the Prime Minister whether, in saying that about the statements as to the dissension existing in the Papuan service, he had in his mind the very important remarks on the subject made by the Bishop of New Guinea, who, of course, never was in the Government service?
– The dissension alluded to by the Bishop of New Guinea arose in connexion with the land case in regard to which I have laid the papers on the table. That dissension has terminated. I am not aware of any other.
– Will the Prime Minister say what steps, if any, have been taken by the Government to provide a fitting reception of the American Fleet on the occasion of its proposed visit to Australia? Has anything been done to secure the cooperation of the Governments of the States and of the municipal authorities of the cities to be visited?
– The Premier of New South Wales and myself discussed the matter this morning. So far as I am aware, the only ports to be visited are those of Melbourne and Sydney.
– Has the honorable and learned gentleman been informed to that effect ?
– They were the only ports mentioned in the first communication. I made inquiry as to whether other ports will be visited.
– I think that the fleet is to call at King George’s Sound.
– The Premier of New South Wales agreed with me that, until we knew the precise date of arrival, the ports to be visited, arid the duration of stay in each, it would be unwise to attempt to frame a definite programme. A number of communications have been received from clubs, privatepersons, and others, making offers of assistance and suggestions for the proper welcoming of the fleet.
– The Mayor of Sydney says that he is waiting for a lead from the Commonwealth.
– This Government will communicate with that of New South Wales, and the Premier of the State will, no doubt, communicate with the Mayor of Sydney.
– The Prime Minister mentioned the Premier of New South Wales. I assume that he is also in communication with the Premier of Victoria! on the subject?
– Yes, and with all other Premiers in a general way.
– I should be obliged if the Prime Minister could explain a paragraph appearing in the Sydney Morning Herald, which is a distinct reflection upon his business acumen. The paragraph is as follows -
Notification appears in the Commonwealth Gazette of the expenditure of£570 for 1,000 copies of Australia To-day for 1907. Why a bulk purchase has cost more than the retail price would amount to is not. explained.
– The explanation of newspaper misprints would come more fittingly from the newspapers than from me. I believe the number of copies should be 10,000.
– Can the Minister’ representing the Minister of Home Affairs state when Mr. Knibbs’ Australian statistics are likely to be published under one cover ? Is there a prospect of getting them in that form within a rasonable time?
– I will make inquiries, and let the honorable member know to-morrow.
– Some time ago I asked the Minister of Defence a question with regard to tenders for boots for the Defence -Department in Tasmania, two respectable firms having tendered and a higher tender than that of either of them being accepted. Does the Minister intend to deduct the extra payment out of the salaries of the officers concerned, and will he take action to prevent such a thing occurring again ?
– I remember the case perfectly well. Under the regulations, a commanding officer, with the approval of the Commandant of the State, is entitled to accept any tender for the supply of articles for the use of his company, f informed the honorable member previously that the commanding officer, with the approval of the Commandant, had accepted a higher tender. The reason given was that it was believed that the article supplied by one firm would.be better than that supplied by another. It appeared to me to have been rather a serious matter, and I caused instructions to be issued to every Commandant that, if the higher tender in any case appeared more acceptable to them, it must not be accepted before the Minister was informed. That seemed to be the only course open for me to take. I could not interfere with the. tender in the case under review, as the contract had been let. However, it will not happen again.
– Not even if the article is better for the money ?
– I did not say that a better article would be obtained. I said the only reason given was that it was thought they would get a better article from one tenderer than from the other. It appears to me that when tenders are called for, and samples are displayed, the lower tender ought to be accepted, unless there be some very good reason indeed - and that reason the Minister ought to know - for not doing so. That course will be followed in the future.
– I should like to ask the Prime Minister a question in connexion with the matter of tendering. The Minister of Defence has just stated that the lowest tender ought to be accepted if the goods are of equal quality. I am informed that it is not an uncommon thing in the case of imported goods to accept the higher tender, and this is done on the plea of preference. Has not the Prime Minister himself fin ‘ this Chamber fixed the preference which should be given to one country over others by means of the Tariff? Does he think that it is fair to people who tender upon that presumption to find that some other and additional preference is given, of which they know nothing, and as to which they cannot judge the amount when they tender? I know there is great discontent amongst tenderers. The Prime Minister has, in common with other members of this House, had an opportunity of fixing what he considers the proper_preference. Does he think that that ought to be departed from?
– As the honorable mem,ber for North Sydney puts the matter, it sounds rather serious, but what I am informed is that it has been the practice of all Governments since the Commonwealth was inaugurated, and is the practice of most if not all the State Governments at present, to discriminate between tenders which are received for goods to be supplied.
– Not with a preference already deliberately fixed ?
– In one case the object may be to give preference; in another, it may be the same suggestion that was made in the case referred to by my colleague in answer to the honorable member for Bass. That is, it may be thought that the Department is obtaining a superior article. The cases are so diversified that it is difficult to lay down a hard and fast rule. I know from my political experience in the State and in the Commonwealth that the Departments, and sometimes the Government, if the. matter is sufficiently important, have always reserved to themselves a perfectly free hand in dealing with tenders.
– Will the Prime Minister cause inquiry to be made into the question of tenders, and take some opportunity of informing the House whether the preference fixed by Parliament, as be tween one country and another - between Great Britain and America, for instance - : is to be the (preference recognised by the Departments, or whether there is to be given beyond that some secret preference for one reason or another, excepting the reason of difference in quality?
– Certainly, if the honorable member wishes, I shall make inquiries into the practice with regard to the acceptance of tenders.
Effect on Employment.
– Has the attention of the Minister of Trade .and Customs been called to the following paragraph, which appears in this morning’s newspapers -
Some remarkable figures have been published in regard to the unemployed difficulty in the United States, which for some months past has been acute. According to the New York correspondent of the Daily Telegraph, a moderate estimate of the number of unemployed in the United States is 3,000,000. The socialist leaders, however, state that there are 4,000,000 workless men in the country, and this, despite the fact that 6,000,000 people have left the United States since October last.
Can the Minister tell the House if that state of affairs is the result of the high protective Tariff which prevails in the United States, and whether a similar result is not likely to obtain from the high Tariff which the Government are now attempting to pass through this Parliament?
– I read the paragraph, and I think the honorable member will admit that if we had not a protective Tariff there would be more unemployed in Australia. He will also admit, because it must have come underhis purview in his own electorate, that the raising of duties has already had the effect of establishing industries there and of giving a good deal of employment.
– Is the Minister of Defence yet in a position to make a statement with regard to the proposed establishment of a medical reserve in connexion with the Defence Forces? Some time ago he gave a promise that this would be done, but so far nothing has been made public with regard to it.
– I cannot say exactly the date, but a military order has been issued as the initiation of the steps desired by the honorable member.. It was forwarded to each Commandant, and in each State steps are being taken to organize the corps. I will, inorder to give it publicity, lay upon the table of the House the military order in question.
– I wish to ask the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral if it is proposed to further extend the term of office of the Secretary of the Post and Telegraph Department, it being well known that that officer has more than reached the age limit, and that his term of office has already been once extended?
– I do not know what is in the mind of the PostmasterGeneral, and I suggest that the honorable gentleman should postpone the question until he returns.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, and also the Postmaster-General, whether he knows the cause of the delay in proceeding with the undergrounding of the telephone lines in Melbourne and suburbs, for which, I believe, money has been voted ? Is he aware that a very large number of energetic and capable miners will have to go to either Western Australia or South Africa in order to obtain employment, unless the money which has been voted can be used for the purpose I have indicated ?
– I am aware that a good many persons are unemployed at the present time, and I shall, therefore, have immediate inquiries made into the subjectmatter of the honorable member’s question. Tenders have been called for the larger works; some of these are now let, and a good many persons are employed. I believe that it is the intention of the Department to carry out the shallower works, but owing to circumstances, which were explained when the Estimates were under discussion - partly owing to the lack of staff - they could not be pushed on with as rapidly as might otherwise have been the case. However, that difficulty has been overcome, and I hope to be able to report in a day or two that some progress has been made.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence whether he knows the reason of the delay in effecting repairs to the Flemington rifle range, also whether he is aware that the non-effecting of those repairs iscausing many persons to leave the clubs which use the range, and that the other members have to go to Randwick?
– I will make inquiry, and inform the honorable member, to-morrow.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence a question in regard to the recent Easter encampment, which I understand was Colonel Stanley’s first attempt. Will he ascertain how it was that on Good Friday the Ballarat, Castlemaine, and Bendigo men were untrained, and given no work at Langwarrin, and that at the Queenscliff encampment a company of the Geelong Garrison Artillery had no training on work on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, and training for only a few hours on Monday ?
– I shall inquire into the matter and inform the honorable member of the facts of the case.
asked; the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow -
In Committee (Consideration of Senate’s requests resumed from 24th April, vide page 10605)
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.”
Upon which Sir William Lyne had moved - .
That the requested amendment be made.
And Mr. McWilliams -
That the requested amendment be modified by leavingout,the words”7S. per dozenor.”
– It is difficult to understand the peculiar attitudeof the Opposition towards this reasonable request. On Friday, the honorable member for Dalley used almost “lurid” language,as if an extraordinary injustice were going to be done to the poorer section of the community. He stated, as one of his objections to the request, that he was astonished at the Committee giving such enormous protection to the industry of hat making. Now,this request has nothing to do with hat making. Here is an opportunity for the honorable member and others to treat the makers of caps just as reasonably as the makers of- hats have been treated, and that is all that we ask for.There is no particular difficulty in regard to cap making. There cannot be the same restriction with regard to the number of. factories as there is in the case of hat making. It does not require an extensive plant for carrying on cap making.
– In this climate caps are; not worn so much as are hats.
– There are a good many caps worn, and, as the honorable member for Dalleysaid, by poor persons. On Friday, he stated that we wanted to. levy a duty of 7d. on a cap which is retailed at 6d. Of course, there is no such proposal before theCommittee. Caps are easily made. ‘There are at least halfadozen factories in New South Wales,and about the same number in Victoria. I believe that caps are also made in the other States. So far as I know, shoddy is not produced in Australia, and if we want to cater for the poorer classes, and afford to local manufacturers, a chance to compete with British manufacturers, we cannot give less protection than is proposed, for the simple reason that the latter largely use Yorkshire shoddy Surely honorable members cannot say that in thatcase 7d. is too large a duty to impose on a cap ! If the local, manufacturers can obtain the raw material at a reasonable rate, they can make caps as cheaply as they are being sold to-day. The fact is that the Australianmade cap is iustas cheap as the imported article. I do not think . it is necessary to elaborate the matter. We are offering a very small protection to the cheapest caps when wetake into consideration the fact that a duty of 30 per cent. has already been levied upon the materials from which they are made.
– Cannot these caps be made out of Australian tweeds?
– Yes ; but the price of Australian tweeds is too high to enable the poorest class of caps to be manufactured from thosematerials. “ Mr. Poynton. - A’ lot of . cheap stuff is being made up here.
– The honorable member knows that the cheapest caps are composed of all sorts of rags, which are torn to pieces by machinery, and which are then made into cloth.- In reality, those who purchase this shoddy are not obtaining cheap goods. But, unfortunately, some persons are so poor that they have to purchase the very cheapest goods upon the market, even though in the end these goods may prove to* be dear. I should like to see all caps made out of Australian tweeds. But that is not possible. For these reasons I think that the request- of the Senate is a very moderate one, and it is one which I am strongly disposed to grant. ‘
– The argument of the honorable member for Hindmarsh has convinced me that the request of the Senate ought- not to be entertained. He declares that these caps can be manufactured in Australia as. cheaply as they can be .imported. What then, will happen if- the request of the Senate be granted? The fact that imported caps will be dutiable at 7s. per dozen will enable the Australian manufacturer to add that amount to the price of his wares, and he will then be able to sell them at the same price- as that at which the imported article is sold. That, is what the honorable member calls- ‘” protection to the manufacturer.”
– What about competition?
– The unfortunate .feature of this matter is that- the proposed duty would be a tax upon the poor man and not upon the rich;- For instance.. & cap costing 7s. 6d. would be dutiable at 35 per cent., whereas the cap worn by the poorer classes of the community would-be dutiable at 7d. In -other words, the man of means who wants a motor cap will be required to pay 35 per cent, upon it - perhaps half the amount that will have to be paid by the individual who purchases a cheap cap. . I do hope that the Committee will not accede to the request of the Senate. ‘Mr, REID. (East Sydney) [3.34].- As far as I can understand, the Treasurer and, the Minister’ of Trade and Customs went . into these matters very carefully before the Tariff was introduced, and they submitted a schedule which, in their opinion, .would sufficiently and liberally encourage Aus-‘ tralian industries. Having acquired’ the best information obtainable, and in the light of the experience gained under the operation of the old Tariff, they proposed a duty upon caps of 35 per. cent, under the general Tariff and of 30 per cent, under the Tariff for the United Kingdom. Now we are asked to go beyond the highwater mark of the schedule as it was introduced. That is rather a striking departure - it is all the more striking when we realize that it is aimed at - a class of wearing apparel which is admittedly used by those who are possessed -of the most limited means. Under the requested amendment of the Senate the most expensive caps would be dutiable at 30 -per cent, if imported from Great ‘ Britain, ‘ so that persons who invested in those- articles would actually be called upon to pay a lower duty in proportion to’ their value than would those who content themselves with the ‘ cheapest kinds cif’ caps.. It seems to me that that would be drawing .a line of demarcation altogether in the wrong direction. .
– But duties of 35 per cent, and . 30 per cent. . have already been imposed upon the raw material. .
– That, fact must’.have been taken into consideration by- the’ Government when they framed their Tariff. I ‘do’ not understand that the ‘duties on the raw material have been increased since the schedule was submitted. If that were so, -it -might affect the matter a little, although it would not at all dispose of the objection ‘ which can be urged to the -duty. But my impression is that the duties UPon the raw material have not been increased since, the Tariff was introduced, and. those .duties must have been taken into consideration by the Government in connexion with their proposals.
– I think that .there were several things which they did not take into consideration.
– That may be so, but I suggest to the honorable member that, in many cases, the duty requested would represent 100’ and 120 per cent, upon the- cheaper kinds of caps. That is a serious proposition, because, after all, the means of the poorer classes are exceedingly small compared with the means of persons who wear expensive caps,- and surely we have to pay some regard to the incomes of the poorer sections, of the community: We have to consider them a little. Surely there is a line which even the most ardent advocates of protection will draw in favour of those who have to use the cheapest kind of wearing apparel. Surely there is a limit which they will apply to this matter as it affects the poorer sections of the community. Surely 50 per cent. ought to be regarded as a pretty liberal extension of the rate of duty upon thecheaper necessities of life. Duties of 100 per cent. and 150 per cent. upon articles used by the great masses of the people - even from the stand-point! of the highest form of protection - are an intolerable and gross impost. When the honorable member for Robertson remarked that the effect of this duty would be to increase the cost of Australian made caps by 7 s. per dozen, the honorable member for Hindmarsh interjected, “ What about competition?” Now, either the duty proposed is absolutely required to enable Australian manufacturers to produce and sell their caps, or it is not. If it is absolutely required, competition will bring prices down below a fair level, and will lead to all sorts of sweating. That is sometimes one of the troubles associated with any endeavour to push the protectionist principle too far in connexion with items which are really not of very great consequence in thescale of Australian industry, but which affect the daily necessities of persons of limited means. There ought to be some line drawn - even by the most enthusiastic believer in protection. Surely a line of 120 per cent. against the cheaper necessities of life is one which this Committee should be very slow to draw.
– Apparel and attire are dutiable only at 40 and 35 per cent.
– Exactly. The highest duty levied upon apparel has been fixed at 40 per cent. Why should there be a jump from. 40 per cent. to 100 per cent. and 150 per cent. upon this article? It seems to me that it is carrying the principle of protection to an extreme. Though the duty does not seem much in the aggregate, it is just as much to the poor as a duty fifty times as great would be to the man of more ample means. We must have some regard for the necessities of the people; and this doesseem to me to be an extravagant proposal, which looks too much to the interests of the persons who produce these things and too little to the means of the persons who wear them. I think it is putting matters in a position that is not justified.
– I am as well aware as any member of the Commit tee can be that the Government have the battalions behind them. But if a protest is to be made with regard to high duties under this Tariff, it should be made on an item such as that which is now under consideration. In regard to machinery, the pro tectionists in this Parliament have not been able to climb higher than to secure a duty of 15 per cent. Even the most ardent protectionists in the Senate would not climb higher than that. But they are prepared to climb as high as 120 per cent. in the case of the duties on hats and caps, which are worn by the men who make machinery: Talk about a scientific Tariff ! This is the most unscientific Tariff that it is possible to conceive of. The honorable member for Hindmarsh has expressed himself as being astonished at some language used by me I am astonished at it myself - astonished at my own moderation. But my language is nothing to that which will be used by the people who have to buy these articles. Not satisfied with a high ad valorem duty, the protectionists have proposed an alternative fixed duty in the case of hats and caps. They have devised a drag-net, and desire to bring every thing possible into it. It is singular that this particular industry should be picked out for special treatment.
– It is wonderful the atten-; tion it has received.
– It is marvellous, and yet the honorable member for Hindmarsh is astonished that I should use such language concerning it. I am certain that the engineers in his electorate, and their wives who have to purchase hats and caps, not only for their husbands, but for their children, are not prepared to see this industry specially treated. If the protectionists are prepared to sing a sort of Tariff “ Excelsior,” and to climb up to high duties in regard to some industries, why have they agreed to so small a duty as 15 per cent.in the case of machinery? Another phase of the question which seems to be lost sight of, is that honorable members have allowed the Senate to usurp the functions of this House. A large State like New South Wales might as well not have its proper representation in this Chamber if duties are to be increased in the Senate.
– Order ! The honorable member must not enter into that question.
– I am not arguing the. constitutional aspect of the question; I am only alleging that we should not have had such duties in the schedule under consideration if there were anything like proportional representation of the States in the Senate. I wish to emphasize the fact that the people’s House - which this House is supposed to be - are not safeguarding their rights sufficiently in allowing duties of this character to be introduced by the Senate. It may not suit honorable members to take a strong stand with regard to the matter today, but any person with the smallest perception can see that in the near future a stand will have to be taken.
– We have already given away the position.
– We shall get our proper powers back again yet.
– There will probably be a great struggle, and, perhaps, the Constitution will require to be altered in this respect. It is a singular circumstance that throughout the schedule of suggestions, although there are about 300 items, not more than two or three involve alternative duties. How is it that the machinery items are not favoured with alternative duties? It is argued that under a 35 per cent. ad valorem duty, locally-made hats and caps would come into competition with imported goods. The same argument could be applied to machinery and other manufactures. With regard to the statement of the honorable member for Hindmarsh, that the duty is only 5 per cent. above that on the piece goods which are the raw material, I would remark that it is only reasonable to suppose that the hats and caps manufactured in this country will be made out of niece goods also manufactured in the country. We have already passed high protective duties to encourage the, manufacture of the woollen piece goodsout of which the hats and caps are made.
– I specially referred to “shoddy.”
– But in regard to the engineering trades there are also” shoddy ‘ ‘ articles which come into competition with local manufactures.
– I would shut them out, too.
– But no special treatment is proposed in regard to shoddy articles of machinery, though there is to be special treatment regarding hats and caps. It is singular that machinery can only climb as high as 25 per cent., while hats and caps can climb even to 100 and 120 per cent.
– The duty on piece goods, woollen or containing wool, is 15 per cent.
– The honorable member for North Sydney finds that the duty uponthe piece goods from which these caps will mostly be made is 15 per cent., so that with a duty of 35 per cent., there would still be a protective margin of 20 per cent.
– There is a larger duty than 15 per cent. on piece goods.
– The duties are 15 per cent. and 10 per cent. under item 123b.
– There is a good margin between (the duty paid on the manufactured article and the rawmaterial, assuming, that the articles are made from imported goods, without imposing the specific duty at all.
– The duty on cottons and linens is only 5per cent.
– The duties on woollen piece goods are 30 per cent. and 25per cent.
– Whichever way we look at the question, there is sufficient protection without a specific duty. As we have extended protection to piece goods, surely it is expected that the articles with which we are now’ dealing will be made from goods produced in this country. But the honorable member for Hindmarsh gave himself away by saying that hats and caps are easily produced. If that be so, it means that no great outlay of capital is required in the erection of an expensive plant. That, however, is not the case with machinery, and engineering manufactures. The honorable member knows that it requires a great deal of capital to start an engineering business upon an effective basis. The position in regard to the production of hats and caps is different. It would appear that we are asked in this case to make a special present to men engaged in a special industry located mostly in a special part of Australia.
– The leader of the Opposition, as well as the honorable member for Robertson and the honorable member for Dalley, have been expressing great concern for the poor whom, they fear, it is proposed, by this duty, to penalize. If I thought that they would be so penalized, I should be found voting with the Opposition, but an examination of the facts shows that that will not be the effect of this duty. Under theold Victorian duty of8s. per dozen capswerebeingmade and sold here at as low as 3s. 6d. per dozen. I hope that theywillnotbesold at suchlow prices, f orwastheleader of the Opposition says, if;wastheresult of internal competition, webringdownprices to such a very low level,swear ingmust take place. In Victoria, South Australia, and New South Wales there are Wages Boards and industrial tribunals to prevent sweating, and if we-, allow caps made from shoddy to be imported free of duty, the Australian manufacturer will be placed in an unfortunate position. He will have to pay much higher wages than are paid in the countries from which these caps are exported, andit will be impossible for him to use woollens in the manufacture of his goods. Woollen caps are very desirable, especially in the colder parts of Australia.
Mr.Reid.- We have imposed a duty of 16s. per dozen on wool felt hats.
Mr.HUTCHISON.-That duty relates to a wholly different class of manufacture. If it was possible under a duty of 8s. per dozen to sell caps in this State at 3s. 6d. per dozen, I do not think we need fear that the poor will be penalized by this impost. It will make it unnecessary for the workers in the industry to competewith the sweated labour of the East End of London and other parts of England, where mere children and what are known . as “ half-timers” are employed by the thousand. It is not my desire that our manufacturers should have to face such competition. If we require them to pay fair wages, we should grant them reasonable protection.
– Has the honorable member ever seen a cap sold for 31/2d. ?
– I have seen caps offered for saleat 4d.,5d., and 6d. each. Sixpence is a very common price.
– Under this proposal a duty of 4d. would be paid on a carp sold at 6d.
– Those who use caps will escape the duty, becausethey will purchase caps made in Australia.I believe the caps to which I referred as having been sold in Victoria at 3s: 6d. a dozen were made at a time when the conditionsof labour in. thisState were not as good as they areto-day. The protection proposed is comparatively triflinghaving regard to thefact that ifcap manufacturers hereuse imported material they must pay duty upon it. I fail to see why they should use imported material.It would be a good thing for the children who have to wear caps even if1d. or 2d. more had to be paid for them, because they would get a good article made in Australia.
– It would be a bad thing for those who had to buy them.
– Certainly not; under this duty they would be able to obtain locally-made caps at a much lower rate than they otherwise could. My experience is that even the poorest of the working classes do not desire to purchase goods made by sweated labour. Honorable members opposite tell us that they believe’ in the policy of new protection, and that being so, I fail to see how they could reasonably refuse to grant protection to the manufacturers in this industry, and compel them to pay wages far higher than those paid in the Old Country. The cry “We are the only people who are trying to protect the poor; the protectionists would penalize you,” is an excellent one for the Opposition, but I would remind them that in my electorate are to be found some of the poorest people in Adelaide, and that they are satisfied that I would not do anything likely to subject them to heavy taxation.
– The leader of the Opposition this afternoon made a plea for those who wear cheap caps. If this duty is imposed, the price of caps will not be increased ; on the contrary, Australians will be able to obtain a better article. I have here a cap. produced in Manchester at the rate of is. 9d. per dozen. Do we desire Australians to wear caps of that description?
Mr.Reid. - Anything cheap is an awful curse ! .
– But these goods, invoiced at1s. 9d. per dozen, are not distributed at a low rate; they are retailed at 6d. each.
– Then it is the Australian shopkeeper, not the Australian importer, who is robbing the people.
– No, it is the importer ; the shopkeeper is charged 4s. 6d. a dozen for these caps.
– ‘Then why does he not import them for -himself-?
Mr.COON. - Because the Australian shopkeeper, in myelectorate, at all events, believes inselling Australian goods if he can obtain them. Here is another sample of caps made in Manchester at 3s. per dozen.
– Made in Collingwood.
– No, they are made in the Old Country. This affords us an indication of the present condition of some of the workers in Great Britain. Those who make these low-priced caps there cannot earn a livelihood, and have to be relieved by the parish rate.
– ‘That is one of the honorable member’s wild Collingwood statements.
– It is sworn evidence given before a Select’ Committee appointed by the House of Commons ; and it shows that we need an additional duty. Under the Old Victorian Tariff the people-‘ of this State were able to obtain better caps than they can at present. The imported cap which I produce was made of shoddy in the slums of London.
– How can the honorable member tell where it was made? He will perhaps be surprised to learn that it was really made in Melbourne.
– I have the invoice, and know the man who imported it. The honorable member has said that he is in favour of the new protection.
– I have not.
– The honorable member has certainly said that heis opposed to sweating. How can he make that assertion when he is in, favour of allowing caps produced in Manchester at1s. 9d. per dozen to be imported free?
– Will this duty prevent sweating ?
– Certainly. I do not think that the honorable member is in favour of sweating, but he knows that caps are made by people in the Old Country who are sweated. They are trying to better their conditions, and we shall not assist them by passing a low Tariff, which will lead to increased importations of their sweated goods. The duty here proposed is not by any means too high, and if it is carried the result will be that the working classes in Australia will be able to obtain better and cheaper caps,” while increased employment will be given in the localindustry.
– I reallythink thatthehonorable member for Batmanought not to resume his seat without moving that the duty shouldbe14s. insteadof 7s. per dozen. Whatalame and impotent conclusion the proposed duty is to the speechjust delivered by the honorable member ? Why shouldwe not, in justice to the unfortunate sweatedworkers of the back slums of London, prohibit altogether the importation of these sweated caps by charging a good stiff duty of,say, £2 perdozen upon them ? If only we do that, according to the honorable member, we shall get these caps cheaper and better than ever in Australia. If the physic which the honorable member recommends be so good,why is he not prepared to take a stronger dose of it?
– I am prepared to do so.
– Why should we impose a duty of only 7d. each on these caps when by imposing a higher duty we shall be able to get them cheaper and better here and at the same time relieve the. sweated conditions of the unfortunate workers in the Old Country? Might I suggest that if these caps are imported at a selling price of 3s. 6d. per dozen the duty now proposed represents an ad valorem duty of 200 per cent. This is a pretty stiff duty’. A duty at so much per dozen is’ proposed because the Government and honorable members opposite have not the pluck to show the real percentage of taxation involved. They have not the courage to submit a straightforward proposal for the imposition of a duty of 200 per cent. on these articles required by the poorer classes of the community. The proposal is submitted in a sneaking way at so much per dozen so that no one will know how much he is being taxed. The proposed rate of so much per dozen is adopted only to conceal the enormous extremes to which some people are prepared to go in imposing taxation upon these articles. And why on these articles.? Because there is more to be made out of them since they are used by- the great masses of the people. It would be of no use to impose heavy duties on diamonds or expensive jewellery, becauseonly a few people would be reached bythat taxation. The reason for the imposition of enormous duties on these articles is that since ‘hundreds of thousands of people require them money is to be made out of them. In these cases the imposition of heavy duties issomething worth trying for.Whyhas not the honorable member and those who believe with him the pluckto stateopenly thereal ad valoremduty which they propose onthese goods asisdoneinthe case ofother good’s that are imported? Why is the real duty concealed and disguised in this way?. On the imported selling price the duty now proposed is equivalent to 200 per cent, ad valorem. I believe that the price quoted is too low; but even allowing for a fair price, this duty must be over 100 percent. Why do not the Government boldly submit a duty of 100 per cent, on these articles instead of a proposal for the imposition of. a duty of 7s. per dozen? Toshow how little ‘ discrimination has been exercised in this matter it may be pointed out that these caps are made of linen and cotton as well as of woollen materials. There- might be some justification for a fairly high duty on caps made of woollen “materials in view of the fact that we impose duties of 35 and 30 per cent, on some woollen piece goods ; but surely some discrimination should be made, and it is absolutely unfair to impose similarly high duties on caps made of raw materials introduced at the lowest rates of duty.
– We produce woollens, but we do not produce cotton piece goods.
– I do not wish to revive the fiscal controversy, and I admit that there mav be. some reason for the difference in the duties imposed on woollen and colton piece goods. I am dealing now with the statement that a duty on caps should be increased because the duty on the raw material is 30 per cent. That is so in the case of woollen caps,- but it is not so in the case of caps made of other materials, and, so far as I can form an opinion, an enormous quantity of caps made of materials other than wool are used in the Commonwealth. At this stage I do not believe there is much use in fighting these proposals very keenly. It seems .to me that some arrangement has been made by which each matter is practically settled before we are asked to deal with it.
.- The right honorable member for East Sydney has been rather hard on the honorable member, for Batman. He says that if so much protection is good, why should we not have more. But using the same argument,. I might say that if two meals a (lay are good, why should we not have twentytwo meals a day?- The statement made that these caps are produced for ‘is. od. per dozen or 1¾d. each proves conclusively that there is very great sweating- carried” on in this industry in the Old Country, and we . should deal a blow against it -if “we can.
– It is a curious way to help sweated people - to take what little bread they can get out of their mouths.
– The right honorable member does not state the position correctly. The sons, and daughters of Great Britain are moving out to her colonies. They are going in tens of thousands to Canada, and also to the United States, and I hope that tens of thousands of them will come here very soon. While they are going out by the front door, tens of thousands of Jews are entering the back door from the Continent, and they represent the cheapest of cheap labour and the most sweated of sweated labour. These are the people who are being employed at the low rates referred to in the manufacture of these caps.
– Will the honorable member help the immigration of British sons and daughters to Australia?
– I am only too anxious to do so. The imposition of a high Tariff on these articles, which will lead to their manufacture in Australia, is one way in which we can help British sons and daughters to emigrate to Australia.
– If they are being sweated in the way referred to, how are they to put down £10 or ^12 each for their passage money ? ‘
– I have just told the honorable gentleman that it is the cheap Jew who is sweated in the way referred to, and I have no wish that he should come out to Australia at all. It is the stalwart sons and daughters of Britishers who are emigrating from the Old Country, and they are being driven out by the cheap .continental labour that is coming in behind them. We should welcome them to this country, not only by imposing a high Tariff on such articles as are now under consideration, but also by imposing a stiff progressive land tax, and by other measures which would tend to make conditions better for them here after they came.
– Order 1
– I do not propose to follow up that reference, and I made it only in answer to the question put by the right honorable member for East Sydney. It has been said that a large number of imported caps are made from cotton piece- goods, and that on that account the duty should be reduced. Surely it will not be contended” that we should have a lower duty on the manufactured article than on the raw material. We ought to be able to make all these caps here. ‘ I voted for a very low Tariff on cotton and linen piece goods as compared with the duties 1 supported on materials which can be produced here, such as woollen piece goods.
– We- passed duties of 10 and 5 per cent, on linen piece goods under item j 23. The Senate has proposed duties of 5 per cent, and free, while admitting cotton goods absolutely free.
– The Senate are admitting these goods free, while seeking to impose a heavy duty on the manufactured article, thus admitting that Australian workers should make up the raw material.
– We were told that the duty was raised because the duty on the raw material was so heavy, but now that the latter has been taken off, that argument does not meet the case of cotton and linen caps.
– I contend that it is quite justifiable to impose a heavy duty on the manufactured article, and to make the raw materials as free as possible, if the latter cannot be produced here. When honorable members attack the duties on woollen goods, they are attacking the primary producers, on whose behalf I have heard the honorable member for East Sydney make eloquent . appeals.
– The prices of the primary producers are world prices, and are not affected by the local demand.
– I think- their prices might ‘be affected a good, deal by the local demand. If they had ‘ a splendid’ sale within the “Commonwealth, they would naturally have a better grip of the market, though I admit that our wool growers must depend on exporting.
– They have no competitors, wool not being sent to Australia.
– Is not that what I am arguing? If we encourage the local manufacture of woollens, we shall create a local market ; and anything done in that direction is in favour of the primary producers.
– We every year import about ,£100,000 worth of spun wool, ready to weave.
– If honorable members continue to advocate the old free-trade idea of having everything manufactured abroad, we shall never have wool spun or woven here to any extent. I readily admit that’ there is not sufficient sale in Australia to meet the local production of wool ; but honorable members, who profess such sympathy with the primary producers, and tell us over and over again that the man ora the land is taxed on every item he uses, ought to encourage industries of this kind.
– The wool-grower gets ‘ the same price for his wool whether it be sold here or anywhere elsa . His price is the world’s price, and if all were made up here, he would not get a penny per lb. more for his wool.
– But when the Australian papulation increases, as we ali hope it may - and hundreds of millions of people could be accommodated here - *-
– The population may rise to 100,000,000.
– Some honorable members seem to have very little faith in their country, whereas my belief in its future is absolute ; and, in my opinion, the imposition of a duty on hats and caps to be made out of wool is a step in the right direction.
.- a remarkable feature of discussions of this character is the want of unanimity amongst protectionists as to the effect of duties. In this case, as in many others, we have one honorable member declaring that a duty does not increase prices, and another honorable member admitting that a duty may increase prices, but defending the increase on the ground of the employment afforded to local producers. It is obvious that we cannot have two opposite effects arising from the one cause at the same time; we cannot have goods both increased and reduced in price simultaneously. According to the honorable member for Batman, the effect of the duty under discussion . will not be to increase prices. But, if that be so, what, from his point of view, is the object of the duty, seeing that the only advantage that can be looked for” by the producers is an increase of prices over thoseof the imported and admittedly cheaper articles alleged to be made by sweated labour? On the other hand, the honorable member for Hindmarsh says that’ probably the effect of the duty may be to increase prices by 2d. or 3d. per cap - though he admits that these caps are bought chiefly by the wage-earning and poorer classes - and he gives us the astonishing information that by paying the increased prices purchasers will be getting the articles cheaper. I may have some mental kink which prevents me understanding such arguments, but I certainly fail to see how anybody can get an article cheaper by paying more for it. However these are the mutually contradictory and wholly illogical statements we have placed before us, and I draw attention to them merely to show the varied grounds on which increased duties are advocated. Unquestionably, the effect of this duty must be to increase prices, and those who will have to pay are those who can least afford to do so; it is the poorer classes and their children who will have to suffer.
– I should like to place one or two facts before honorable members in connexion with this item. In 1903, the importations were valued at , £8,000 odd ; in 1904, at £11,000 odd ; in 1905, at £21,000 odd ; in 1906, at £29,000 odd; and in 1907, at least, £35,000 odd. The honorable member for East Sydney asked why the Government did not propose the higher duties at the commencement. If the honorable member had heard the harrowing picture drawn by the deputation which waited upon me - a picture which I was convinced was a true one of the conditions under which these caps are manufactured - he would probably have been of the same opinion as myself. There is no doubt that caps of this character ‘ have been imported from Great Britain and elsewhere, with the effect of throwing our own people out of employment. Is there any reason why there should be a low Tariff, and why caps manufactured under such conditions should be’ sent to Australia when they can be manufactured here at a low price ? The honorable member for East Sydney also asked why the Government had not had the “ pluck “ to propose an ad valorem duty ? But surely there is no absence of pluck when the Government definitely state what ‘the duty should be?
– But this duty is suggested by the Senate.
– Yes, after the most careful inquiry, and in the light of information supplied by manufacturers, who stated that if they did not get better protection they would have to cease operations.
– That is an old story !
– But it is a true one.
– It is not; and that is the trouble.
– No. mancan accuse me of being biased, because, as a matter of fact, I looked with great suspicion on many of the high duties with a desire to know if they were really necessary in the interests of industries. However, after the evidence had been placed before me, it appeared to me that unless we were prepared to do something to help this industry we should hand the whole of the labour over to the sweated dens of London and elsewhere. That, in my view, would be a disastrous result, especially in view of the fact that these articles can be made here from good Australian stuff at prices within the reach of everybody.
– Why did the Government not propose an ad valorem duty? A fixed duty is a most unfair method of taxation.
– It is a most convenient method at times.
– As the item stands, valuable caps will come in at a lower rate than the cheap caps.
– There can be no gainsaying the statement that, if the Committee refuse to give proper protection to this industry, it will be handed over to the sweated labour of other countries.
– Why, then, did not the Government ask for these rates when it introduced the Tariff?
– I have given the reasons. In four years the importation of these articles has quadrupled, and the simple question we have to decide is: Shall caps continue to be made here, or shall they be made abroad under the conditions which . I have described ?
– Does not the honorable member think that caps are made largely by machinery ?.
– If the right honorable gentleman had read the representations made to me - into which I looked very carefully - he would be satisfied that the higher rates are necessary to maintain an industry which is worth maintaining, because it employs our own people in making for the community, with locallymanufactured material, goods which can be sold at prices within every one’s reach.
– The Senate had no right to make the request.
.- Many honorable members have said that they are opposed to the fixed duties, and would favour higher ad valorem rates. I hope that the fixed duties will be agreed to; but I ask. Mr.Chairman,whether, in the event of the requested amendment not being made, it will be possible to move to increase the ad valorem rates ?
– The honorable member is not Chairman. We have agreed to rates of 40 and 35 per cent, on many articles of apparel and attire, and, although I do not know the ratio of wages cost to the value of made-up caps as I know the ratio in regard to hats, in my opinion it is as great as, if not greater than, the ratio of wages cost to the value of other articles of apparel. Why then should we give the cap-making industry less protection ?
– With fixed duties, the tax paid on articles of the best quality is no greater than that paid on articles of the cheapest quality.
– Silk hats do not come under this duty. They will pay rates of 35 and 30 per cent. but I think that they should be taxed as highly as any articles of wearing apparel. The Customs Department, however, has published some peculiar decisions, and it may feel justified in making silk hats dutiable as such articles. The caps which are imported compete against the productions of manufacturers who have to work under factories legislation. If there is not a Wages Board in the cap-making industry, it shows that there is not much sweating in the industry here, though, of course, if there is a Wages Board the manufacturers have to pay the rates required by it. I hope that this industry will be given the protection that has been given to others, so that it may be carried on under fair conditions. Some honorable members have said that the new protection is dead. By means of it we have tried to do something to regulate the conditions of employment, which would be absolutely impossible under free-trade.
– I do not agree with any one who says that the new protection is dead. I hope that it is not dead.
– The honorable member who was leading the Opposition last week said that the new protection was dead.
– There is freedom on this side of the Chamber.
– I trust that we shall have the support of the right honorable gentleman, and of many other members of the Opposition, to proposals for giving the workers their fair share of protection.
– I am with the honorable member heart and soul in that.
– That can be done if the industry is properly protected; but it will be impossible if the importation of caps is not prevented.
Question - That the words, “ 7s. per dozen or,” proposed to be left out, stand part of the requested amendment (item 121, requested new paragraph e) (Mr. McWilliams’ modification) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Requested amendment made.
Item 122. Parasols, Sunshades, and Umbrellas, ad val, 20 per cent.
Request.- Make the duty 25 per cent.
Motion (by Mr. Austin Chapman) proposed - .
That the requested amendment be made.
.- I do not wish to raise a constitutional question ; but I point out that we are getting into rather dangerous places in allowing rates of duty to be increased in this way. I understand that 20 per cent, is the rate which was fixed by the Government original lv. .
– The reason actuating the Senate in making the request was that there should be a small margin. That seems to us to be a fair reason. .We propose to meet the Senate further on, and to give a little more margin, by reducing other duties a little.
– If the Government would be as ready to accept reductions as they are to accept increases there would not.be a very serious ground of complaint. But in regard to all the important items in which the Senate has carried requests for a reduction, of duties, bitter opposition is offered.
– Not on all of them.
– It is so in the case of a large number. Many insignificant items are allowed to go. We are coming very shortly to one important item, in regard to ‘ which there will probably be very determined opposition offered by the Government to the Senate’s request for the reduction of duties.
– The Government had fully considered the Tariff when they first tabled it. They then made the rates as high as they thought consistent with their protectionist ideas, but now that the Senate has stepped in, and assumed a right to increase the taxation of the people, the Government have accepted their suggestions, and made them part of their policy. This is a very serious matter, as in the other place there is no representation of the people upon a population basis. The States will be heavily taxed by the proposed increases. The Government should make a statement to satisfy the Committee before accepting a policy laid down by another place. The people, when they accepted the Constitution, had no intention whatever of conferring upon the Senate the right to increase the’ burden of taxation. THe question of whether a proper adjustment of the duties is now proposed is another matter , altogether. The Government must have’ fully considered the Tariff for months before they brought it down, and now they make the adjustment of the duties a pretext for the acceptance from another place of a policy which will increase taxation on the people. Let them stand by the Constitution and say that the people shall be first represented before increased taxation is imposed upon them. I shall oppose every increase of duty asked for by the Senate upon that principle, quite apart from the question of adjustment. Increases of taxation should not be made by a body of men who do not represent the people. . This is the people’s House.
– In this case, a certain mistake was made, because some of the raw material was charged at the same rate as the finished article.
– The Senate have reduced some of those duties.
– I propose to make the margin greater by accepting some of those reductions.
– It is quite within the power of the Senate to request, and for us to accept, the . .reduction of a duty.
– Surely we are entitled to reconsider the matter in the light of information which we get from them.
– The Minister could not have received more information since we dealt with the schedule than he had before. He has had the same officers at his elbow all through. Yet he now accepts a proposal to increase taxation from a body which has no right whatever to place taxes1 upon the shoulders of the masses. That is ai» infringement of the rights of the people, who have conferred upon their- representatives, in the representative chamber alone the. power to impose, taxation. The smallest State, which on a population basis is not entitled to six members, has six members in the Senate, and the larger States have no more. If the Government stand by the proposed increase they will’ be sanctioning a state of things which is contrary to the principle of representative government.
– If the Senate are imposing the tax, why are we discussing it? The fax cannot have been imposed yet.
– The Senate have suggested the increase, and the Government are adopting it.
– It is a dictation, and not a request. ‘
– It becomes a dictation in the end, because the Senate can refuse to pass the Bill unless we accept their requests. The Constitution states that they have the power to request amendments, but no man in his senses would call that anything else than a power to make amendments, because they have the right of rejection if we do not accede to their requests. That’ which is proposed takes the form of a suggestion, but actually it is a power of amendment. The right honorable member for Swan took a very proper course in bringing that question before the House, but it was dismissed in a very unsatisfactory manner.
– It will come up again yet.
– The Government have thereby been enabled to adopt these proposals to increase the taxation of the people. I could quite understand a State, which is not entitled to as much representation as Victoria or New South Wa.les has, being satisfied with such a state of things, but what about the great masses of the people who live in those two States, and upon whom this increased taxation is enforced without their having proper representation in the matter? The Government with their majority back up these suggestions, and say, “ We will pass them into law upon party lines.” I do not regard this as a party question at all. It is a. question1 for the people, and, quite apart from my fiscal beliefs. I regard it as my duty to oppose every increase proposed by the Senate.
.- Does this item include sticks for umbrellas?
– lt is difficult to see how you could have an umbrella without the stick.
– I thought’ the wood was ‘perhaps included elsewhere.
– I am given to understand that it is very difficult to procure in Australia wood suitable for the making of umbrella sticks. As a matter of fact, most of them have to be imported. I know of no factor)’ in Australia at present which makes the silk for umbrellas. I am told that it is a very delicate article of manufacture, and requires experts to produce it. It is highly improbable that any manufacture of ‘the kind will be encouraged in the Commonwealth by the imposition of this duty. Far more im portant is the consideration that this is a tax which will press most heavily, as the honorable member for Robertson said, upon the masses of the people. Those who use umbrellas, parasols, and sunshades are the women of Australia. A woman considers a- sunshade or parasol as part of her daily apparel. She will not leave her home without it. We are asked to impose a still greater hardship upon the shoulders of the masses, and particularly upon the shoulders of our women folk. A woman will part with any article of attire rather than with her parasol, to which she will cling affectionately until the last. I see no reason why the duty should be increased, and I shall vote against the request.
.- We have had the pleasure to-day, for the first time, of. having the Minister who controls the Department of Trade and Customs, in charge of the Tariff schedule. I am very glad that he is now in charge of what is really his proper work. But, like most chairmen, when he gives a reason he gets into trouble. My experience as chairman is that when one gives a reason the trouble starts. The Minister has given a reason for the increase of this duty, and on that ground, and not on the question of the amount of the duty, I intend to quarrel with him. He said that the Government would agree to the 25 per cent, so as to give a margin between the’ duty on the article from which the umbrella or- parasol was made, and that on the finished article itself. He forgot to state that already his kind friends in the Senate whom he allows to juggle with the Tariff as they like, have, decreased the duty on silk piece-goods by 5 and 10 per cent., according to the country, of origin. He now wants to spring another 5 per cent, on the completed umbrella, and so in a roundabout manner he is getting on behalf pf the umbrella and parasol makers 10 per cent, greater protection than they had when the schedule left this Chamber. The duty on this article was then 20 per cent., and that on silk piece goods was 20 per cent. The duty on the latter is to be reduced to 15 per cent. (General Tariff), whilst the duty on the umbrellas is to be raised to 25 per cent. On a previous item the Minister made a most pathetic appeal to the Committee to prevent shoddy articles from coming into Australia. But he is making no provision in this case against the importation of the shoddy umbrella, or “to protect the Australian manufacturer of umbrellas or parasolsagainst the sweated parasol makers of Germany: or elsewhere. If his argument on the previous item was a strong one, why does he, not propose in this case the alternative duty which he is so fond of? The reasons which the Minister gave for supporting this increase are not sound. As an Australian,. I, equally with the honorable member, want to see these articles manufactured here. I said months ago that I would support the new protection, and that if it became law one of my strongest objections to the policy of protection would cease. I never did want to be a buyer of foreign articles ; but desire those who make the articles, and not only the owners of factories, to get the benefit of a protective policy. The Minister of Trade and Customs in his appeal to the Committee said that the materials of which umbrellas are made are imported. Why does he as a protectionist ask Australian parasol manufacturers to use imported piece goods? Why does he not ask them to use materials made in Australia? If it is right to encourage the Australian umbrella or parasol maker, I cannot understand the honorable gentleman, as a protectionist, turning round and pleading that the reason why he wants a duty of 25 per cent, is to allow something for the duty he has on the piece goods. . I ask him to tell me why it is not possible to make here the piece goods out of which umbrellas are made, and thus give further employment. The ordinary parasol, or sunshade, or umbrella is not made from silk, but from, a mixture. I cannot understand the attitude of the Minister on this matter. If I am compelled to swallow a duty of 120 per cent. on the caps and hats of the masses, I can well afford to swallow a duty of 25 per cent. on parasols, sunshades, and umbrellas. But, in my opinion, the reasons given by the Minister in favour of this motion are absurd.
– The reason which was furnished by the Minister of Trade and Customs for the acceptance of this request was certainly a very lame one. In face of the ‘fact that there has been a decrease proposed in the duty upon the materials from which umbrellas are made, he said that the Government propose to give the makers a larger margin of protection than before by an increase of duty. The explanation of the Minister is altogether too thin.I venture to think that, when they proposed theoriginal duty, the
Government had just as’ much information in their possession as they have at the present time.Under the old Tariff, the duty on this item was 20 per cent and the Government asked this House to agree to a duty of 20 per cent.
– Under the old Tariff, the duty on silk was 15 per cent.
– Twenty per cent. is what the Tariff Commission recommended on parasols.
– The Tariff Commission took the evidence of those who, of course, were interested in making out as good a case as they possibly could, and the protectionist section recommended a duty not exceeding 20 per cent. I fail to see that the Minister has advanced any argument in support of an increase of the duty to 25 per cent. The honorable member for Robertson was perfectly right when he twitted the Government with their easy acceptance of the Senate’s demands for increases of duties. I think that, in the interests of. the prestige of this House and its right to keep control of the public purse, the Treasurer should have resisted all attempts at increased taxation from: that quarter. The reason which his colleague has advanced for the acceptance of this particular increase of duty is one which should not commend itself to any honorable member possessing a grain of sense.
.- I gather that the Ministry have no reason for increasingthis duty except that nobody is to be permitted to escape, whether he wishes to comeout of the wet or to keep out of the. dry. Some time ago, we passed a duty which had the effect of preventing persons in drought-stricken areas from getting fodder for their starving stock. When we, on that occasion, feared far too much dry weather, they refused to allow the products of the elements in other parts of the world to come to our rescue. In this case, where we are threatened with too much wet, it is only natural, I presume, that the Government should be doing all they can to make the unfortunate victims of the elements suffer.
– It is scandalous to increase a duty on such articles.
– It is wanton.
– It is scandalous, and I think that it could also be described as wanton.But I do not complain of the motion on that ground, because it is the only thing which one could expect from the present Government.
.- In my opinion, the Government are not acting very consistently in agreeing to the Senate’s request. It seems to me that there is no good reason for doing so. The A section of the Tariff Commission recommended a duty of 20 per cent., the same duty as under the Tariff of 1901-2, and the Government submitted to this House a duty of 20 per cent.
– As the duty on silk under the old Tariff was 15 per cent., there was a margin of 5 per cent.
– That was all the better for the manufacturersof these articles. The Government propose to give a further margin of 5 percent. now. I should have thought that if they really wished to encourage the local production of umbrellas and parasols they would have allowed the raw material to come in at a low rate in order that the local makers should be able to compete with the imported articles.
– But as silk is the raw material for many other articles, and we have to keep a fair duty on those articles, we must give a little more protection on parasols and umbrellas.
– Whatever the Government may think” now, they could not have held that view when they introduced the Tariff, because they proposed a duty of 20 per cent. on silk. although the A section of the Tariff Commission had recommended a duty of 15 per cent., the same as under the Tariff of 1901-2. Evidently they intended that, as regarded their raw material of silk, there should be no margin left for the manufacturers of parasols.
– The Senate go further in the interestsofprotection. They want to reduce the duty on silk by 5 per cent.
– That will help the local manufacturers of parasols and umbrellas.
– If we increase the duty on parasols and umbrellas by 5 per cent., that will help them; too.
– That will make the protection 10 per cent. , but when the Government introduced the Tariff they did not allow any margin. I hope that the Government will not press the motion, as, in my opinion, they have not made out a case for agreeing with the Senate’s request.
Question - That the requested amendment,makingthe duty on Parasols,&c, (item 122) 25 per cent., be made - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Requested amendment made
Item 123. Piece Goods, viz. : -
Request. - Leave out “ and rubbered waterproof cloth of any material.”
.- In this case the Senate has requested the omission of certain words with aview to the insertion of a new paragraph dealing with rubbered waterproof cloth. If honorable members win refer to the requestednew paragraphs on page 13 of the scheduletheywill see that a better arrangement of the duties can be made in that way. The suggestion is a good one, and the reasons for its adoption must be very evident to honorable members. I move -
That the requested amendment be made.
Motion agreed to.
Requested amendment made.
Item 123. Piece Goods, viz. : -
Request. - Leave out the words “viz., women’s and children’s dress goods, line 3.”
.- I move-
That the requested amendment be not made.
– Is this a request for the reduction of a duty?
– I thought so.
– That is in accordance with the principle which the honorable member has laid down. We wish to retain the limitation to women’s and children’s dress goods, because then we exclude all light piece goods which are used in the production. of men’s wear, and which there is every probability of getting manufactured here. As a matter of fact,’ these piece goods are being manufactured here now, and machinery is being put in..
– Where is it being done?
– It is being done in New South Wales.
– In what part? .
– I am informed that it is being done in Sydney.
– Can the Minister tell us definitely in what part of Sydney it is being done?
– I believe that the article is being produced at the Parramatta Woollen Mills. I understand that a lot of machinery is being erected for the purpose of increasing the output.
– That proves that the duty imposed by this House was sufficient.
– It is not so much a question, of altering the rate of duty as it is of omitting the words I have indicated. I ask the Committee not to accede to the request of the Senate.
– I wish to submit an amendment with a view to making the meaning of this paragraph perfectly clear. Honorable members will recollect that when the Tariff was previously under consideration in this Chamber,, in my efforts to obtain a certain scientific method of dealing with the dress goods of women and children, I suggested the adoption of the weight system. That may not be a perfect system, but at least it represents a step in advance. I included in my proposal everything in the way of dress goods known as “printed” or “dyed” flannels. These, as honorable members are aware, are imported exclusively from France. They are not produced in America or Great Britain. Of course, underclothing can be made from these materials just as it can be made from silk, but the cost involved in local manufacture would be very great. I have here several samples of Victorian flannels. One is sold at 7d. per yard, another at 71/2d., another at 8d., still another at 81/2d., and some darker shades at a less sum.
– Is the honorable member quoting the wholesale prices?
– No; I am speaking of the retail prices. It is possible to get a very good flannel at a cost’ ranging from 8d. to10d. per yard. Of course, these are essentially dress goods, but unless the position be made perfectly clear, I fear that the Customs Department will regard these materials as flannels, and charge a higher duty upon them. This consideration leads me to ask, “ What is flannel ?’ ‘ According to my reading, flannel includes any material made of wool from the finest texture up to the thickest blanket. From Newne’s Technological and Scientific Dictionary, I learn that -
Flannelette is made of a cotton warp and a woollen weft.
Later both the weft and the warp were made of cotton only. In Bartholomew’s Atlas of the World’s Commerce, I find the following definition of flannel -
Flannel is a kind of woollen fabric composed of carded fibres lightly fulled. Ordinary flannel. is woven of loosely-spun yarn.
The only other definition, of the word that I have been able to obtain is frorm the British Encyclopaedia for 1898, which contains the following -
Flannel (French flanelle, German flanel), an open woollen stuff of various degrees of fineness, from patent flannel, which does not shrink in washing, to baize, which is a coarse woollen stuff, or flannel with a long nap, first introduced into England, together with serge, by the Flemings. Domett is another variety of flannel, the warp of which is made of cotton, and the woof of wool. . . . The manufacture of flannel is almost the same as that of Other woollen goods, though there are certain wools which are more used for flannel than for any other textiles. For instance, a short staple wool of fine quality from a Southdown variety of the Sussex breed is principally in favour with the flannelmakers at Rochdale, as also the wool from the Norfolk breed, a cross between. the Southdown and Norfolk sheep. In Wales the short-staple wool of the mountain sheep is used, and in Ireland that of the Wicklow variety of the Cottagh breed. Nearly 2,000 persons are employed in this section of woollen manufactures, the chief seat of the industry being Rochdale, in Lancashire ; while blankets, a special branch of the flannel trade, are extensively woven at Dewsbury, in Yorkshire.
These quotations will serve to show that the definition of flannel is almost as wide as the world. Any material made of wool loosely woven may come under that designation. Of course, nobody would dream of calling delicate tissues such as flannel merino, flannel serge, amazonia, superior cashmere, crepe mikado, and crepe stella, flannels. These have their differentiations, and are well known.
– In the form in which the Tariff left this Chamber, under what classification would they come?
– They would be classified as “women’s and children’s dress goods not weighing over 5 oz. per square yard.” In order to make the position perfectly clear, however, I move -
That the following modification be added : - “ But that, after the word ‘ yard ‘ the words including women’s and children’s dress flannels’ “ be inserted.
That these materials are flannels no one can gainsay, but mypoint is that they are used entirely for external personal adornment. In this connexion we should recollect that some dyes are injurious - in France the wearing of dyed stockings has resulted in three deaths within a single week. No argument therefore is necessary to show honorable members that there is no likelihood of these flannels being used for underwear.
– Are all of them dyed?
– Yes ; and in very fast colours. We cannot manufacture this particular type of goods. The duty proposed is purely a revenue impost: I am altogether opposed torevenue duties, but I recognise that during the continuance of the Braddon blot the Commonwealth must have revenue.
– Cannot these flannels be made in Australia?
– I am informed that they cannot.
– I am surprised to learn that they cannot be made in Victoria.
– So was I. But I am more surprised that a State with the potentialities of Queensland cannot manufacture them. The only way in which they can be produced in Australia is by the establishment of a State workshop for the manufacture of such fabrics. But the cost that would be involved in such an undertaking would be so great that it would practically wipe out the splendid record that we have established in connexion with the manufacture of locomotives at Newport.
– Would the admission of these goods at a reduced rate affect the consumption of Australian made fabrics?
– We cannot manufacture these goods in the Commonwealth. I wish that we could. Of course, we shall be able to do so by-and-by, when we possess a large population, and have established State workshops.
– Will not the admission of these goods at a low rate of duty enable them to compete with articles that are being manufactured in the Commonwealth?
– I have not had one sample of these flannels made in Australia submitted to me.
– But it is quite possible that they may take the place of some article which is being made here.
– Some of these materials range in price from 8d. per yard to 5d. per yard.
– Why should not men’s materials be admitted upon similar terms?
– A far greater variety of tweeds are used by men than women. The woollen mills have been established rather for the manufacture of the cloth from which men’s clothing is made than for women’s goods. Women’s fancy ranges over a greater variety of colours and patterns than does the taste of the more sober-garbed sex.
– I should like to ask whether honorable members are in order in producing in the Chamber the samples which are being handed round?
– The honorable member for Melbourne is quite in order.
.- I am sorry that the honorable member has objected to the honorable member for
Melbourne bringing samples into the Chamber. They look very pretty. I am sure that we should not object to the honorable member for Hunter bringing in samples of pills and drugs. For the life of me,I cannot understand how it is that the great city of Melbourne cannot produce machinery for the printing of these coloured flannels. Nor can I understand why the honorable member for Melbourne, of all people, is anxious to have these goods imported practically free.
– No, at 15 and 10 per cent.
– That is practically free.
– What are duties of 15 per cent. on material like the sample I hold in my hand, which could be used for the kilt of a Scotchman? The honorable member says that these goods can be used only for female attire. I must admit that, though I have known some pretty “ loud “ gentlemen in my time, I have never known one who would wear things like these. I cannot see why these goods cannot be printed in Melbourne. If machinery can be built in other parts of the world for printing flannels, it ought to be possible, by the imposition of a protective duty, to enable them to be printed here. Surely the honorable member for Melbourne is lacking in his duty to his constituents in not asking for a higher duty on these goods, because he is one of. those who is usually satisfied that anything can be made in this city so long as the duty is sufficiently high. However, I shall assist my honorable friend in what he desires to do, because I wish to reduce duties on the clothing worn by ladies. I like to see them in pretty frocks, and I want to see the wives, sisters, and children of the working men of this country wearing as good and tasteful material as is worn by women in other parts of the world.
.- The Government have accepted so many of the Senate’s requests that I cannot see why they should stick at this one, which leaves the principle of the Tariff intact as it went from this House ; because it leaves in the essential words “ not weighing over 5 ozs. per square yard.” In -practical administration, how could there be a distinction in regard to the same material of the same weight, oh a question as to whether it was to be used for women’s and children’s dresses, orfor otherpurposes? Howcould the Customsdefeat the introduction of these materials, weighing under25 ozs. tothe square yard, as women’s and children’s goods, even if after they left the Customs House they were to be used in some other way
– They could not be used for making men’s suits.
– Many of them might be used, not for outside clothing, but for underclothing for men as well as for women. If these materials can only be used for women and children, there is no necessity to leave the words in ; but if they can be usedotherwise, leaving the words in would do no good, because there is nothing to prevent the material being used for other purposes after the goods leave the Customs House. I think the Senate’s requested amendment is an advisable one.
– To leave the words out would permit of a quantity of tweeds of fine texture being introduced at a lower rate of duty, although they could be used for men’s clothing.
– I do not think that in any of the materials of which samples have been produced could be used for external clothing for men - except perhaps a very few. Since so many of the Senate’s requests have been accepted, so far, I am quite agreeable to accept this one.
– My feeling is in favour of the proposedmodification ; but I can assure the honorable member for Melbourne that there is a little inconsistency in the manner in which the Tariff is administered by the Department. I have a statement from one of the large Customs agents in Melbourne who says that-
Fancy printed flannels, even when women’s and children’s dress goods under 5 ounces per square yard, are to be classified as flannels at 7.0 per cent. (United Kingdom) and 25 per cent, (foreign). Formerly they were given at 10 per cent. (United Kingdom) and 15 per. cent, (foreign).
That order was issued by the ComptrollerGeneral only on the 9th inst. It is clear therefore that the feeling of the Department is rather in the direction of the suggestion made by the honorable member for Melbourne - thatis, of a reduction, of the duty. Probably the Minister is personally aware “of the order issued by the ComptrollerGeneral. The Departmental officers apparently hold the view that there ought to be a differentiation.
– Was the honorable member for Melbourne aware of the fact that the Customswerechargingduty in this Way?
– It is done under a provision of the Customs Act.
– Surely no one in the Department could override a distinct decision of this House.
– There is evidently some inconsistency in connexion with the administration. I shall support the honorable member for Melbourne.
.- I had heard that a firm in Melbourne importing winter goods had been paying 15 per cent., but within the last few days have been charged double that rate, namely, 30 per cent. Of course all these goods come from a foreign country, namely, France. I hope that the leader of the Opposition will agree with the Government in eliminating the Senate’s suggestion, so as to make a distinction in the case of women’s and children’s materials.
– I propose to accept the modification proposed by the honorable member for Melbourne, which defines more clearly what the intention of the Tariff was.
– What is the honorable member’s proposed modification?
– The proposal of the honorable member for Melbourne is, after the word “ yard,” to insert the words including women’s and children’s dress flannels.”
– Is it proposed to leave in the words that the Senate suggested should be struck out?
– The question is that the Senate’s amendment be not made, but that the following modification be added: “including women’s and children’s dress flannels.”
– I do not see exactly how we can do what is proposed. We may reject, accept, or modify a’ requested amendment, but I understand that the proposal now made is that we should reject the amendment requested by the Senate, and proceed to add to the item. That, I submit, cannot be done.
– The motion submitted by the Minister of Trade and Customs is that the Senate’s suggestion be not made. The honorable. ‘ member for Melbourne proposes as an amendment to move the insertion of certain words’ as a modification of the words ‘ that we have been asked to omit.
-I am afraid that there is a serious difficulty in the way of our doing what is proposed. It is open to us to reject the requested amendment providing for the omission of certain words, and to insert other words which would be an amendment or modification of that request; but I fear that it is not open to us, under cover of rejecting the Senate’s request, to amend the item as originally passed by this House. If the proposal made by the honorable member for Melbourne is in any sense an acceptance of any part of trie Senate’s request it is in order, but if it is not we cannot take advantage of a request which we are discarding to review our own work before the Tariff was sent to another place. The proposal made by the honorable member for Melbourne is an excellent one, but I am afraid that it is in no way an acceptance of the Senate’s request.
– On the point of order that has been raised, I should like to explain that from what I know of the debate which took place on this item in another place, it seems to me that the adoption of the request that these words’ should be eliminated would not give effect to’ the object which honorable senators had in view in making it. We have had from the central office of the Department of Trade and Customs a decision which treats as flannels materials which are not so regarded in the trade. My proposal is simply designed to carry out what I believe the Senate had in view in preferring this request, and if my information be correct the modification I suggest will be indorsed by it.
– I have been endeavouring, as far as possible, to avoid any infringement of the Standing Orders, but in dealing with the Tariff it’ is difficult very often to determine what does and what does not come within them. In this case it appears to me that the honor.able member for Melbourne desires that the hem shall cover not merely dress goods made of flannel, but other dress materials weighing not more than 5 ozs. to the square yard. By inserting the word “ including “ before the word “ women’s,” and substituting the word “ flannels “ for “ goods,” we should overcome the difficulty so far as flannel goods areconcerned, but we should not deal with materials that are not flannels. So far as I can see at present, if we desire to carry out the honorable member’s object there isopen tous no course other than that which has been proposed, and I have therefore accepted his amendment.
– Do I understand, Mr. Chairman, that we are not going to accept the Senate’s amendment ? If we are not, I do not think that we can add other words to the item.
– We can either accept, disagree with, or modify a requested amendment, and I accept the honorable member for Melbourne’s amendment as a modification of the Senate’s proposal.
– The honorable member for Melbourne might accomplish his purpose by proposing the insertion of the words “ including women’s and children’s dress flannels,” after the words which the Senate has requested us to omit. I think that the object of the Senate was to include in this item all woollen piece goods weighing under 5 ounces per square yard. The Minister proposes that we should reject that request, and the honorable member for Melbourne now proposes that we should extend the item, although not to the extent desired by another place, by bringing within it women’s and children’s dress flannels. I think that his modification would be in order, since it would be really an amendment of the request made by another place.
.- By leave of the Committee, I desire to amend my amendment, as suggested by the honorable member for North Sydney.
Modification amended accordingly, and agreed to.
Requested amendment not made.
Requested amendments in item 123, paragraph c and paragraph d (Piece Goods), made.
Item 123. Piece Goods, viz. : -
Request. - Make the duty (General Tariff), 5 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), free.
.- I move-
That the requested amendment be not made.
This item refers to flannelette, which the Senate desires shall be dutiable at the same rate as are other piece goods in the schedule as passed by this House. The making of such an amendment would involve a loss of £11,000 per annum, and I consequently ask the Committee to reject it.
.- This is a convenient stage at which to obtain some information from the Minister as to what will be the effect upon the general revenue of the Senate’s requested amendments. I am inclined to think that they will lead to the revenue from, the Tariff being greatly increased. If that be so, the argument raised as to what would be the effect of this requested amendment is of scarcely any force. I understand that the total increases proposed by the Senate will mean an enormous expansion of the revenue from the Tariff, which is already greatly in excess of the Treasurer’s anticipations. In such circumstances, we might reasonably agree to an incidental reduction of a revenue duty. This proposal will not affect protection. The woollen industry of Australia is protected under a different item. This item relates to cheap kinds of apparel, in the manufacture of which wool is not used. I should think that the protectionists would be disposed to encourage the introduction of raw material which is not produced here.
– But flannelette might come into competition with goods that we do produce.
– We must not forget that the effect of the Senate’s amendment would be to encourage the manufacture in Australia of articles made of flannelette. If we allow a raw material which we do not produce to come in free, we shall encourage the manufacture of the finished article here. There is no fiscal question involved in this case, and I should think it would be the desire of honorable members generally to provide for the freest entrance into Australia of raw materials that are not made here. The amount of duty involved is only about £11,000., and as that cannot be regarded as a serious loss, in view of the fact that the revenue has increased by this Tariff to the extent of about £2,000,000, the Committee might well agree to accept the reduction proposed.
.- I hope the Committee will not agree to the requested amendment. If I had my way I would prohibit the sale of flannelette. Every day we hear of cases of children being burnt to death as a result of the use of clothing made from this material. The honorable member for Melbourne has pointed out that when first introduced there was some wool used in the manufacture of flannelette, but it is now manufactured entirely from cotton. Many people who use it are not aware of that fact. It is more inflammable than calico, and its use is a dangerto the whole community. I should like to see its importation prohibited, and, at any rate, as some check upon the importation of flannelette we should adhere to our former decision as to the duty to be imposed upon it.
– Ought we to encourage the distribution of matches ?
– They should be distributed with very great care. If I had my way I would increase the price of matches in order that people might be induced to be more careful in their use.
– Ought we to go back to the old flint and tinder ?
– The honorable member for Grey, who, as a free-trader, is as hard as flint, might be excused for doing so. I hope that the Committee will adhere to its former decision in this matter as affording some protection against the use of flannelette, and also because it comes into competition with the genuine woollen article which is made in Australia.
– If the honorable member for Bass had proposed a modification of the requested amendment fixing the duty at 500 per cent. I should have been prepared to support him, but in the circumstances in which we are placed, I agree entirely with the right honorable member for East Sydney, that we should make this item free. It is simply a farce to go on imposing duties of 10 and 5 per cent. on articles which are universally used. As people will use flannelette, they should be allowed to get it as cheaply as possible.
– We might as well give a preference to the Old Country.
– I should prefer to prohibit the importation of this material altogether, but as that cannot be done, and as I believe that the right honorable member for East Sydney has stated the position correctly, I am prepared to support the amendment requested by the Senate.
Question - That the requested amendments, making the duty on item 123 (Piece
Goods), paragraph f (General Tariff), 5 per cent., (United Kingdom), free, be not made - put. The Committee divided.
M ajority … … 9
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Requested amendments not made.
Item 123. Piece Goods, viz. : -
Request. - Insert following new paragraph - “ (g) Rubbered waterproof cloth -
Requested amendment inserting new paragraph g (i) made.
Motion (by Mr. Austin Chapman) agreed to -
That the requested amendment inserting new paragraphG (2) be made, with a modification altering the duties to (General Tariff), 25 per cent. : (United Kingdom), 20 per cent.
Motion (by Mr. Austin Chapman) proposed -
That the requested amendment inserting new paragraph g (3) be made.
– I wish to ask the Minister whether celluloid goods would be included under the proposed new paragraph. I understand that the Minister intends to prohibit the importation of celluloid goods. Before any action is taken in that direction, we should be given some reasons for the course proposed. If celluloid goods are not covered by this paragraph, information cannot be given at this stage, but I should like to know what action the Government . pro- . pose to take in this matter.
– Celluloid goods would not be covered by the proposed new paragraph. The honorable member for Calare is mistaken in saying that I propose to prohibit the importation of all such goods. They are of a very inflammable character, and I am seriously considering the desirability of preventing the introduction of celluloid eye shadesand other articles of that. kind.
Motion agreed to
Requested amendment made.
Item 124: Waddings and Cotton Wool, ad val. (General Tariff), 20 per cent., and on and after 14th November, 1907, free; (United Kingdom), 15 . per cent., and on and after 14th November, 1907, free.
Request. - Insert “n.e.i.” after . the word “ Wool,” and make the duty (General Tariff), 20 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), 15 per cent.
Motion (by Mr. Austin Chapman) proposed -
That the requested amendments, be made.
.- We should have some explanation for the motionsubmitted by the Minister. As the item passed this House, the duty imposed under the General Tariff was 20 per cent., andon and after 14th November, 1907, free. We are requested by the Senate to impose a duty under the General Tariff of 26per cent., and the Minister, without a word of explanation, ‘submits a motion to accept the requested amendment. I ‘cannotunderstand the attitude ofthe Government, in view of the fact that when this item was last before us, there was a long and important discussion before we decided to make it free.
– Cotton wool is manufactured in . Australia.-
– I should like to see a specimen of locally-manufactured cotton wool which would be of any service from a surgical point of view.
– This item does not affect surgical cotton wool, which comes in free under item 442. I am further advised that the wadding referred to in the item . now under discussion, is used by jewellers for packing, dressing windows, and so forth, and is. as I have said, manufactured in the Commonwealth.
– In Victoria.
– I hope the Committee will accede to the request made by the Senate, because this cotton wadding is largely manufactured in Victoria from Queensland cotton.
– Is the honorable member not speaking solely of tailors cotton wool ?
– I am speaking of wadding and cotton wool, for the manufacture of which there is a large establishment in Melbourne, employing a great number of hands. The article produced is of the best sold in Australia ; and I may say that, although duties of 20 and 15 per cent. were suggested, the firm I refer to have made no attempt to raise prices, which are the same as those prevailing for the imported article. . I feel certain that if the honorable member for Hunter had seen this locallymanufactured cotton wool for surgical purposes, he would be much more satisfied than be appears to be now. In the item just disposed of, I gave a consistent vote, because I know that the manufacture of flannelette from cotton is not carried on here; but in the’ present instance, when we have the means of manufacturing sufficient wadding and cotton wool for the whole consumption of Australia, a duty ought to be imposed. [ have a particular interest in a certain line of business ; and I can assure honorable members that, if it were not for the knowledge thatprices will not be raised, I should not be found voting for, this duty on an article, a good deal of which men and women carry about with them in their clothing, though, they, may not be aware of the fact.
-How . much is imported ?
– I have not. the record.
.-The honorable member for Melbourne Ports has given no reasons why this duty should be imposed. What may appeal to him as excellent reasons for a duty now, probably appealed to him six months ago, when the commodity was made free.
– I can assure the honorable member that I did not then know that the commodity was manufactured in Australia.
– Then the honorable member reverses his vote only because he finds that the commodity is manufactured here.
– I have altered my opinion because I find that wadding and cotton wool are manufactured here of as good a quality, and are sold at as cheap a rate, as are the imported articles.
– The fact that these articles have been manufactured here free of duty seems to show that there is no necessity to impose additional taxation. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports has not only to satisfy himself when he seeks to reverse our vote, but also to satisfy honorable members generally ; his duty must be to convert those protectionists who voted for this item being free.
– It was made free on the voices.
– Quite so; it was an item which everybody was satisfied ought to be free, and, therefore, it was not worth talking about. Has the honorable member sufficient specific evidence to justify the Committee in reversing its verdict? It would stultify the whole Committee if the previous vote were reversed in the absence of further information.
– There is a firm making wadding and cotton wool now.
– That firm may consist of one man and a boy.
– But the number may increase to fifty men and fifty boys.
– We know there . are industries, employing tens of thousands of people, who do not receive much consideration, while other industries, employing perhaps, two men and a boy, are favoured with high duties. Further evidence is certainly needed before a duty is imposed in the present instance. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports has told us that, if he thought the duty would increase prices, he would vote against the Senate’s request ; and that is slightly irrational, because, if the prices are not increased, how can the duty benefit the local industry ?I feel- confident that the Committee will not reverse its vote on the flimsy reasoning advanced by the honorable member.
– I should like to have some clear statement from the Minister in regard to this item. The honorable gentleman has very kindly pointed out that under item 442, “ Medicated and Absorbent Wool and Surgical Dressings “ are free. But I am exercised in my mind by the fact that enormous quantities of this wool are used in hospitals ; and, under the circumstances, I desire an explanation of what is exactly meant by this item. I am now speaking as the mouthpiece of people connected with the trade, who have written to me; . and I can say that when it was decided to have cotton wool admitted free, there was generalsatisfaction. If I am given an assur ance that cotton wool for surgical dressing is free, I shall be perfectly satisfied.
– If the honorable member will turn to item 442 of the Tariff, he will find it there set forth that “ Medicated and Absorbent Wool and Surgical Dressings “ are free. I believe that, in thefirst instance, a duty of 10 per cent, was proposed, but, on the motion of the honorable’ member for Hunter, the item was made free. It will be observed that the Senate’s request relates to “ Waddings and Cotton Wool n.e.i.,” which, of course, means wadding and cot-: ton wool not ‘included in item 442, thus leaving the material for surgical dressings free.
– In what, industry are these waddings and cotton wools used?
– They are used in many ways; but principally for packing jewellery, decorating windows, stuffing furniture, and so forth. This sort of wadding and cotton wool, but not the medicated and surgical wool, is manufactured in Australia.
– Surgical cotton wool is manufactured here now, and large quantities are sold to Melbourne hospitals. .
– That is news to me. At any rate, surgical cotton wool is free, and the Government do not propose to interfere with that item.
.- I happen to know a good deal about this industry, which has been started here by Messrs. Laycock, Son,; and Nettleton, who are very capable men from Bradford. If there is any industry which can be regarded as natural to the country and worthy of support, it is the industry now under discussion. I can assure the Committee from a close knowledge of the undertaking - in which I have no personal interest - that they have put at least £50,000 into machinery.
– Surely not.
– They have embarked that sum in the industry.
– How many persons do they employ?
– For many years they have been known in connexion with this work. It is one of the most legitimate departures which have been made of late years, and I think that we shall be justified in acceding to the Senate’s request.
.- It seems to me that we do not hold to our former opinions. I notice that the A section of the Tariff Commission - an inquiry which cost a large sum - recommended that the duty should be 5 per cent. If the wadding and cotton wool industry is such an important one that, accordingto the last speaker, some persons have invested a large sum in it, it seems strange that the Tariff Commission did not elicit any information in that regard. Under the Tariff of 1901-2, wadding and cotton wool were free. The A section of the Tariff Commission recommended a duty of 5 per cent., and, for some reason of other, the B section desired a duty of 10 per cent. The Government proposed duties of 20 per cent. and 15 per cent., but this Committee, when considering the matter some months ago, decided to make these articles free, and now, at the request of the Senate, it is asked to restore the former duties of 20 and 15 per cent. Surely the experience we are having all along the line shows how unfortunate it was that the decision in regard to the power of the Senate should have been the means, as it is in this case, of placing additional burdens upon the people - a power which it was not intended to have, and which, in my opinion, it does not possess. I hope that the Minister of Trade and Customs will be more moderate, and will not insist upon asking the Committee to restore the old duties of 15 and 20 per cent., which it deliberately decided some time ago that it would not have. I certainly do not intend to support the present motion.
– Cotton wool is a misnomer, because the article contains no wool. Cotton waste would be a better term to use. In Australia both wadding and cotton wool car be made. In Queensland, I have seen very good cotton being turned out.
– Why did we decide this matter differently the other day ?
– We did not know then that any one in Australia could manufacture such a simple article as wadding. I should think that it was one of the easiest things to make. It has not to undergo a very elaborate process. In Queensland, cotton is being grown profitably. I saw some growing at Ipswich.
– We do not grow much.
– We grow a good quantity at the present time, and we could grow a great deal more. When I went to see the Ipswich cotton mill, I was rather surprised to find that they were allowing all the machinery to lie idle. They simply separated the seeds and distributed them to the farmers, but did very little with the cotton except by way of exportation, although they had splendid machinery for producing cotton goods.
– In 1906, we exported £361 worth of raw cotton.
– How much raw cotton have we imported? There is no necessity to import cotton wadding, as it is a very simple process to convert cotton into that article.
– A lot pf machinery is required, though.
– The machinery is not very extensive, and I am glad to say that very good cotton is being turned out in Queensland.
– Does the honorable member think that they can pay a price for the cotton and produce the wadding ?
– I think so.
– It has all to be done by hand.
– It is not done by hand, and if the honorable member wishes to know about the industry, he should go to Ipswich.
– I have read up the subject in the Library.
– I have seen cotton imported from America and made into cotton goods. I am intimately acquainted with the process of manufacture. In Ipswich, the farmers were making far more out of the growth of cotton than they could make out of the production of cereals. The industry of growing cotton in Australia has been established. An unlimited quantity of the article will be grown some day, and I think that it is very wise on the Minister’s part to ask the Committee to accept the Senate’s request.
– We shall have to levy aduty on the raw material for some years.
– There is no reason why we should, as cotton is being produced here. The moment that there is a good market, it will be produced in larger quantities.
– How much do they grow in Queensland?
– In Queensland they were realizing over £5 from the production of cotton. I do not think that in Western Australia that much per acre would be realized from cereals.
Silting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
.- This proposed reversal of the matured opinion of the Committee requires a larger attendance. I think we ought to have a quorum. I take this step in no disagreeable spirit, but solely because the Committee is reversing its decision. [Quorum formed.] We are entitled to some explanation of the change of attitude of a number of honorable members, and, in fact, of the Committee generally, on this item. It is somewhat extraordinary that, without any explanation whatever, the Committee should now be prepared to re-impose a duty originally brought in by the Government, and removed by the Committee on a previous occasion absolutely without discussion. The honorable member for Kooyong stated that there was a private concern established, I presume in Melbourne, which had invested a sum of £50,000.
– In the manufacture of blankets and of this article.
– But the honorable member did not state, how much of that money was invested in the manufacture of cotton wool, or the number of men and boys employed in that branch of the work.
– I am sorry I do not know.
– That is the whole position in a nutshell. Nobody knows. I presume that the honorable member knew as much- six months ago as he does now !
– This item . was slipped through last time.
– I do not think the honorable member is serious in stating that he did not know that the duty was removed from an item of this importance by a protectionist Government. There seems to be a mysterious company-
– There is nothing mysterious about them. They are tangible.
– Then the company is actually in existence? Its whole capital is £50,000, and it has many sides of business.
– I should think its capital was much more than that.
– Then I think it is due to the Committee that the honorable member for Kooyong, since he is reversing his vote-
– There was no vote.
– When an item is submitted to the Committee with a duty on it, and that duty is taken off, no one offering any objection, it is a novel view of parliamentary procedure to say that no vote was taken. It was competent for any honorable member to object to the removal of the duty just as it is competent now for any member to object to its going on again. I wish to find some reason for this sudden change of front on the part of the Committee. It is stated that this mysterious company-
– It is not mysterious ; it is quite respectable.
– It is possible for a thing to be both. The honorable member, for Instance, would answer both descriptions.
– I like to hear the honorable member running down a respectable Sydney firm.
– Then is this a Sydney firm?
– One of the leading firms in Sydney.
– And in Brisbane, too.
– What is the name of the firm ?
– Laycock, Son, and Nettleton.
– Kent-street, Sydney.
– Do they manufacture cotton wool in Kent-street, Sydney?
– How many men and boys do they employ in that work?
– I am willing to challenge the honorable member for Kooyong as to his knowledge on that point. When the
Committee’ changes front in this reckless, wanton way, the proceedings practically degenerate into a farce. To the average, simple member of the Committee, it is staggering. I object to a number of stalwart protectionists, who six months ago agreed to make the item free, now changing their opinion without any real proof being given of the assertions made. The honorable member for Kooyong, as a representative of the commercial . community here, must have known six months ago of the existence of this most important and mysterious firm. It manufactures blankets, and, incidentally, cotton wool, and because of that the Committee is going to stultify itself in the eyes of the people of Australia. If the Committee is determined to stultify itself, I suppose it will do so, but I should be sorry to be in the position of honorable members who are now prepared ,to reverse their votes without any tangible valid reasons, and to show themselves to be men without solid convictions. -
– The Government took credit last year for. introducing a scientific Tariff, and they now take further credit for accepting improvements suggested by the Senate, which will make it still more scientific. When we examine this and a related item, we find a most extraordinary instance of scientific construction. The Government apparently desire, and have sought by other methods, to encourage the cotton-growing industry in Australia. To assist the manufacture of cotton yarn they have imposed duties of 15 per cent. . (general Tariff), and io per cent. (United Kingdom)’. . But they regard the production of cotton wool, which is a mere by7product of the cotton industry, as’ of such great importance, and their Tariff is made so scientific, that they propose a higher duty - 20 per cent. - on the waste. That is a most- extraordinary system to be called scientific. If cotton can be produced payably in Queensland or elsewhere - a fact not yet bv any means proved, because there is a great labour difficulty, in connexion with it - and the Government desire to encourage the industries which flow from that production, which should they protect most? Surely the yarn, which is the basis of the weaving industry. But they propose instead to encourage the production of the cotton ‘waste, as it is very well called, by a duty of 20 per cent., while’ they impose duties of only 15’ and 10 per cent, on the yarn - and I understand that even those are. suspended until there is sufficient production of yarn in Australia to justify their imposition. The Minister has not explained that. It is a most extraordinary grading of the Tariff. If the yarn should have duties of only 15 and ro per cent., this item should either be free or bear a duty of something like 5 per cent., even from a protectionist stand-point. In accepting this request, the Minister is not improving his Tariff by means of Senate suggestions, as he indicated was his desire, but is actually creating anomalies, and producing an undesirable difference .between the partially finished product - cotton yarn - and the mere waste product of the industry - cotton wool. I intend to oppose the proposal.
.- The Minister should certainly give the Committee some reasonable explanation of his proposal to accept a request for an increase in the taxation upon the backs of the people.Where is this sort of thing going to end? Are not the Government going to assert the eminent right of this Chamber to control the public purse, or are we to submit to every demand of the Senate for the increasing of taxation? The Minister should give the Committee a reasonable, sensible, and proper account of the considerations which have- induced the Government to ask us to make the requested amendment.
– The honorable member has not taken exception to proposals for making- requested amendments for reductions;
– It. is well within the province of the Senate to request reductions; but this Chamber alone has the power to increase taxation;
– The reduction of a duty might mean the levying of a greater’ amount of taxation.
– It may be so, according to the honorable member’s peculiar method- of reasoning; but sensible people cannot be expected to take that view.When .the Tariff was before- us last year, the Government told us that it had beenprepared after exhaustive ‘inquiry and consideration, and that it was, in the opinion, of Ministers, perfect. The Protectionist section of the Tariff Commission recommended a duty of 5 per cent, on the articles now under discussion, but the Government proposed duties of 20 ‘and 15 per cent.’ The’ Committee refused to entertain that proposal, and made the item free. We should not go back on that decision without the fullest reason for doing so. ;’
– I move - :
That the following modification be added - *’ But that the duties be ‘ (General Tariff) 15 pei cent., (United Kingdom) 10 per cent.’ “
The Minister has told us that he wishes to remove incongruities, and, as cotton yarn is dutiable at 15 and 10. per cent., surely he will not ask for a higher protection foi a waste product. I hope to have his support for my amendment.
.-! hope that the Minister will not be deaf to this reasonable proposal. Is he so slavishly bent upon following the indications’ of the will of the other branch of the Federal Legislature that he will not remove striking anomalies when pointed put to him. There must be a certain degree of harmony even in this discordant Tariff. Surely this pro- position must commend itself to the good’ sense of the Minister. He cannot reconcile the proposal for high duties on a waste product with a- lower rate on a finished article. No large amount pf revenue is affected. by the proposed reduction. Were £1,000,000 or ,£2,060,000 at stake, the Minister might have a good excuse for his attitude. As no large amount of revenue is concerned, surely he will, to, improve, the symmetry of a Tariff which is to hand down his fame, and that of the Treasurer, to future generations, remove the inconsistency which has been pointed out, either by reducing these duties, or by increasing the duties on cotton yarn. The honorable member for North Sydney,- who is eminently reasonable in all his proposals, has repressed his indignation at the Tariff in order to expedite public business, and I hope that .the Minister will not show himself bound in some mysterious way to concede the request of the Senate. Had it been pointed out in the Senate that the duties on cotton yarn are only 15 and 10 per cent., the request would, I think, have been for similar duties on this item.
– The honorable member for- Wentworth spoke about this as a mysterious duty, and talked of a mysterious firm, and of the mysterious motives actuating- Ministers. No person who has any knowledge of business is ignorant of. the firm of Messrs. Laycock, Son, and Nettleton. It cannot be spoken of as a mysterious firm.
– We ‘ did not know the name of the firm then.
– The name was given in the early part of the debate. I mentioned it myself. The firm is well known as a large employer in Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane. But because it has turned from importing, to manufacturing, using Australian cotton and other Australian, productions, it has been referred to as mysterious.
– When did it commence to manufacture the articles covered by the item ?
– It has been doing so for several years.
– Then why was not its protection thought of when the Tariff was introduced ?
– It was. We proposed duties of 20 and 15 per cent.
– But the Government, allowed, those duties to be taken away without calling for a division.
– The .fact that there was no division does not show that the Government concurred in what was done.’ The honorable member, when he knows himself to be beaten, is often un-“ willing to waste time by calling for a division. The Senate, on reconsidering the matter, thought that the duties should be 20 and 15 per cent. As for the (Incongruity which has been pointed out, both the articles covered by the item and cotton - yarn are made from raw cotton.
– Cotton yam is a finished product; the articles covered by the item are riot.
– It is easy for the right honorable member for East Sydney to talk about slavishly following the Senate, but he has not taken objection to our proposals when we have asked the Committee to make requested reductions, for which he seems to have a mania. We do right in listening to the requests of the Senate, and have already, to-night, mademany requested reductions which we thought reasonable and fair.
.- The Minister say’s that the’ firm which he has mentioned has been making waddings and cotton wool for several years. As, underthe Tariff Acts of 1901 and subsequent years, there has been no duty on these articles, it has been carrying on the manufacture, successfully under free conditions.! What need, then, is there for the proposed duties ? The object of a duty, we have always: been told, is. to give an industry, .a start.-
This firm has built up its business without a Tariff, and, therefore, does not require encouragement. But it has come in mysterious fashion to the Minister, or to the representatives of the Government in the Senate, and, as- a result, we have this requested amendment which the .Minister ask§ us to make. Much more explanation is needed than has yet been given, by him to justify us in doing anything of the kind.
.- I recognise ‘ that it is utterly hopeless to endeavour to elicit any information from the. Minister of Trade and Customs as to the reasons which have induced the Government to adopt their present change of front. Consequently I am compelled myself to formulate reasons for the attitude which they now take up. I have noticed that in Australia there are three classes who are granted protection. There are those individuals who operate the great industries of the country, and who–if protection can be justified at all - deserve to receive a fair measure of it. Then there are those who are powerful in pocket ; and lastly there are those who are powerful in politics. The two last-mentioned classes, receive most protection. ‘Is it because the particular firm to which the Minister of Trade and Customs referred is a highly important and prosperous one that we are now asked - without any reason being assigned - to reverse the decision at which we arrived six months ago?
– Does the honorable member insinuate that the firm in question is guilty of bribery ?
– I do not.
– Then what inference can be drawn from the honorable member’s remarks ?
– The inference is that we have such a regard for the prestige of that firm that we are prepared to stultify ourselves by reversing our former decision.
– We hope that many more such firms will spring, into existence.
– The honorable member apparently intends to go back on his former decision.
– I did not know that a vote was taken upon the former occasion.
– A vote was not. taken, but. the Government themselves proposed that the duty should be remitted, and the honorable member acquiesced in that proposal. He was in his place-
– And the honorable member knows that as a private member I was not at liberty to move for an increase of the duty.
– What is the use of the’ honorable member raising- a quibble of that sort? He knew perfectly well that the duty was being remitted, and he had a right to resist that proposal. But like a good many others, he either did not know of the existence of this firm, or he thought that it was sufficiently established not to require protection. Now, however, he has completely changed his attitude. He is prepared,without, advancing, any logical reason for his action, to reverse the previous decision of this Committee.
– The honorable member is so hide-bound that he cannot appreciate sense.
– I do not know whether the honorable member is in order in refer-‘ ring to me as “hide-bound,” especially when I am. dealing with “cotton wool.” I listened very carefully to my honorable friend,, and I must say that upon ‘ this occasion he did not address, himself to the question under consideration with his customary lucidity and dignity, nor did he make out a case for a’ reversal of the Committee’s previous decision. He has done me an injustice in asserting that I cannot appreciate sense because it struck me that his arguments were parti’cularly flimsy. In this matter only one of two persons can be at fault - either the honorable member or myself., With the utmost deference I suggest that the. fault may not be mine. I should like to ask the honorable member whether he thinks that the firm to which allusion has been made is sufficiently important to warrant this Committee in stultifying itself for the purpose of bestowing a benefit upon it. That is the only, reason which can be urged for the Ministerial change of. front. . It is purely a question of the interests of one firm. In the politics of protection, I understand that one swallow can make a summer, but in this case one firm will make a particularly large swallow if it receives the .benefit of the duty proposed.
.- It is always very difficult to know when my honorable and facetious friend is serious, but, assuming that on the present occasion he is seeking to elicit information, I may tell him that he does not know much about the industries of Sydney if he is not familiar with the industry which has been established there - and also on the banks of the Yarra, in Melbourne- by Messrs. Laycock, Son, and Nettleton. If, during his leisure, he will accompany me, I- shall have very great pleasure in showing him over the works, established by that .firm in this city. I have just telephoned to one of its members, and I have been informed that last year the firm used 250,000 lbs. of» cotton, which cost 4d. per lb.
-Forrest. - They have to import the cotton.
– And they manufacture, it into various materials. Although’ I am not able to say the exact amount of capital that has been invested in the industry, I know that very much more than £50,000 has been sunk in the establishment at South Melbourne. I cannot say the amount that has been expended on machinery.
– Will the honorable member stake his reputation that more than £1,000 has been expended on machinery?
– I do not think that the amount so spent is a very large one.
– What is the firm’s main line of manufacture?
– They chiefly manufacture blankets.
– And they import cotton to put into their blankets?
– I cannot say.
– Every cheap blanket contains cotton.
– I have been assured by one of the principals of the firm that last year- about 250,000 lbs. of cotton were put into their various manufactures. Both in Sydney and in Melbourne a very valuable industry has been established which I am sure deserves every encouragement at our hands. A Bradford firm have established themselves here, and we ought to be satisfied that the industry is one that deserves such support as we can reasonably be expected to give in the form of a fair and moderate protective duty. As to the change of view that has taken place in the case of some honorable members, I quite agree that the position is anomalous. The Government originally proposed duties ‘of 20 and 1.5 per cent. Like many another item in tEe Tariff, this one. slipped through at an inopportune moment. I do not know- why the Government allowed it to slip through. .Probably if the’ leader of the Opposition had been in charge of the business, he would have exercised greater vigilance, and would have been more sue- cessful. ‘ Had I been present, I should unquestionably have voted for the duties wHich the Government then proposed. The firm in. question is a reputable’ and important one: I believe they purchase all the cotton grown in Australia. It has been shown that cotton can be successfully cultivated in this country. This Parliament has agreed to grant a bonus for its production. Here is a firm which will use a material the production of which this Parliament, has in its wisdom decided to encourage. Without the duty the firm will have to abandon the industry.
-Are they going to abandon the manufacture of cotton wool ? This is something terrific !
– It is a threat !
– There is perfect justification for imposing the duties, though I quite agree that the position is anomalous, and that the Government ought to explain their attitude. For the life of .me I cannot understand why the Government, having proposed originally duties of 20 and 15 per cent., did not insist upon that proposition being carried, or, at least, take a division upon it. Therefore I think that my honorable friend the honorable member for Wentworth might have addressed his inquiries to the Government.
– Do I understand the honorable member to say he is going back upon the vote which he has announced his intention of recording?
– I am going to support the duties proposed, but I think the Government have something to explain as to why they abandoned their original proposal, and agreed to admit cotton wool free. I am sure that a Ministerial explanation would assist the Committee.
– The honorable member for Kooyong is probably not aware that I have submitted an amendment upon the Government proposal. I may say, in passing, that, in my opinion, it is very un- desirable that we should introduce the names of firms.
– The name was asked for by a member of the Opposition.
– That makes no difference. If the . name had been given by a member of the Opposition, I should say the same thing. If is undesirable that we should fix duties according to the circumstances of particular firms. I have proposed that the. duties shall be 15 and 10 per cent. I have done ‘that, not because I approve of a duty at all ; indeed, I think that sufficient reasons have been given why the item should be free. But I certainly’ desire to see some equality in our Tariff proposals, and, inasmuch as we have fixed duties of 15 and 10 per cent, on yarn, which is the more finished product, how can we possibly’ justify a duty of 20 per cent, on cotton wool ? It was urged when we passed the duty on yarn that it was anticipated that a firm- in Australia would undertake the manufacture. It is now understood that the firm is making preparations, and are expected to proceed, with the business. May not that firm reasonably say that an improper differentiation has been’ made if, after placing duties of 15 and 10 per cent, on yarn, we now impose duties of 20 and 15 per cent, on cotton wool ? The honorable member for Kooyong surely does not wish to make the Tariff more incongruous than it is. Of course, as long as the Minister can secure votes for his proposals, he does not care whether there is’ incongruity or not.
– It is not fair to say that.
– Here is proof of the statement. The Minister sticks to the. letter of the Tariff even if a typographical error is challenged. Any number, of errors and incongruities can be mentioned, but the Minister takes no notice. He will vote for the higher duties no matter what may be their relationship to other duties. But the Committee ought not to adopt a course that is absolutely against all protectionist principles, as will be done if we impose higher duties on the waste of an industry than on the finished product.
.- After listening to the remarks of the honorable member for Kooyong, I perceive that he is giving effect to his statement on the hustings, that he would not ruin any Australian industry, especially a Victorian one. This appears to be a South Melbourne industry, although the firm has a branch in Queensland. The honorable member for Wentworth has referred to the firm in question as being a ‘mysterious one. I- do not think that it is very mysterious. Certainly the firm is doing trade to the extent of £40,000 or £60,000 per annum in the Commonwealth. In a letter which the. firm has issued, they say -
We did not increase our price when the duty was imposed and have no intention whatever of doing so, because all we desire is the larger market, which will mean, increased output, and consequently reduced cost of manufacture, and we hope reduced price.
That is a fine show for the shop front. All they want is protection, and if they get the necessary protection they will not only reduce the cost of manufacture, but they hope - life is only hope when all is said and done ! - to reduce the price. The honorable member for Kooyong, having some interest in Queensland, is particularly anxious to see that State go ahead.
– I should think so.
– This is what the firm say on that subject -
We might mention that we have, been and are using Queensland grown cotton, and can use very much larger quantities if the above duties are imposed; and therefore such will mean the securing of a home . market for. Australian cotton, which on sworn evidence was proved could’ be successfully grown in Queensland, Western Australia, Northern Territory and northern New South Wales.
– Where is- cotton grown in Western Australia?
– 1 saw. ‘some cotton bush in the right honorable member’s own garden in Perth. ‘The firm also say in their letter-
We have invested a considerable sum of money in it, and endeavoured to carry it on without the advantage of protection, but we are unable to successfully compete against the imported- article, and were it not that it is only a. portion of our business we would have had to close it up long ago.
As we have put a duty of 7-d. on a 2fd. cap, surely we. should give this - firm a little more assistance in carrying on its important industry.
– Surely the honorable member does not think that we should have a larger duty on cotton wool than on yarn ?
– What I say is that these people should have as much protection as is given to “ the. other bloke.”
– It is proposed to give them more.
– The honorable member for Kooyong is prepared to give them some protection ; and what is the good of protection if it is not effective?
– How then can the duty on yarn.be protective?
– I have not gone into that question. I fail to recognise any consistency in the. attitude of the honorable member for Kooyong, who says that- he is not prepared -to. see an. industry, and particularly a Victorian one, go under.. There are. 753 men, with their wives and families involved in this industry, and- the honorable member, for Kooyong, notwithstanding his speech on the hustings, would deprive them of their means of livelihood. I hope that lie will see the error of his ways, and vote to give this industry effective protection.
.- I find, on referring to Hansard, that although the honorable member for Kooyong says he was not present when this item was originally dealt with in this House, he was in the chamber immediately before it was called on. Hansard shows that he took part in a division at 5.30 p.m., and that at 5.43 p.m., the Treasurer, who was then in charge” of the Tariff, invited the Committee to make this item free.
– What ! To abolish the duties of 20’and 15 per cent.?
– Yes. The Tariff, as introduced, provided for duties of 20 and 15 per cent., but immediately the item was called on the Treasurer, on his own initiative, and not. as suggested by the Minister of Trade and Customs, at the request of the Opposition, asked the Committee to agree to an amendment providing that on and after 14th November, 1907,. it should be free. The Minister was asked whether he would not, consider the interests of firms engaged in the manufacture of wadding and cotton wool, and he replied that he preferred to rely on the reports of his officers rather than upon the recommendations of any interested firm. At page 5928 of Hansard, the Treasurer, in alluding to a speech made’ by the honorable member for Denison, is reported to have said-
I do not know to what Minister the honorable member for Denison has referred ; but my experience is that a Minister, in dealing with such matters, always acts on the recommendation of his officers.
– The. decision to which I have referred was contrary to the recommendation of the officers of the Department.
– I would far sooner trust my own officers than any interested party.
The Treasurer asked the Committee to make the item free on the recommendation of his officers, and his proposal was agreed towithout a dissentient voice. In view of these facts, the Committee is entitled to know what fresh evidence has been brought forward to cause the Government to change’ their front on this question, and an explanation is certainly due to their constituents and the country by those honorable mem-‘ bers who now propose to reverse the unanimous decision which they then gave.
.- We havein this item another illustration of the clumsy and unscientific character of the Tariff. Wehave been told that a reputable firm has’ invested £50,000 in the industry to which’ this item relates. There are machinery: works in my electorate in which over £300,000 has been invested, but whilst the Government invite the Committee to impose a duty of 20 per cent. 011 wadding and cotton wool, they were prepared, in con’nexion with machinery items relating to an industry giving employment to thousands’ of men, to agree to duties of 15 per cent., 1 2 £ per cent., 10 per cent., and 5 per cent. In some cases machinery items have been made free. If the Government are so”’ anxious to build up- industries why do they allow the metal and machinery industries a protection of only 15 and’ i2 per cent.,’ whilst in this case they ask the Committee to vote for a duty of 20 per cent. ? Goethe says that man ie either a hammer or an” anvil. It seems to me that in this case the Government are the hammer, and are constantly hammering at the House to pass increased duties. The Opposition repre-‘ sent the anvil. We are probably true steel,’ but , in view of our numbers we can ‘do no more than give forth sparks of indignation every time we . are hit with the hammer.” Had I the most dire disease from which’ literary men surfer - the disease of “ adjectiveitis “ - I might coin adjectives to describe the clumsy work that is now being carried out by a Protectionist Government. Imagine bur being asked to vote for this’ requested duty because there is “a repu-table firm “ engaged in the industry concerned. Are there hot reputable men in all industries? As- I have said, there are works in my electorate in which £300,000 has been invested, and although we are told that £50,000 has been invested in local works in which cotton and wadding is made, we have to remember that blankets’ and other goods are made there, and that the manufacture of wadding is only an auxiliary. The honorable member for Maranoa said1 very bluntly, but forcibly, “I am prepared to give this man what I gave the other bloke,” and adopting his’ expressive phraseology I may say that my desire is to see the other “ bloke “ to whom I have referred treated as it is proposed’ to treat the “ bloke “ engaged in this in-‘ dustry. I am at a loss to understand how the Minister of Trade and Customs can’ work up any enthusiasm in support of this request, having regard to the fact that various machinery items are dutiable at much lower rates. I Said at the outset of the debate on the Tariff that I recognised that I was in a scramble, but I never dreamt of seeing honorable members scrambling for a 20 per cent. duty on suchan item as this whilst far more important items are put on the free list.
– I should like the Minister, to explain the reason for this change of front on the part of the Government. The Committee are entitled to ask for some information having regard to the fact that, as the honorable member for Lang has just shown, the Treasurer asked the Committee on a former occasion tomake the item free. I am prepared to support the duties of 20 and 15 per cent., believing from the information at my disposal that they are necessary, but should like the Minister to explain what has led the. Government to adopt their changed attitude in regard to the item.
– I cannot say what was in my honorable colleague’s mind when he moved that this item be free, but probably he had to bow to thestress of circumstances.
– He proposed without any request on our part that the item should befree
– The Tariff as introduced provided for duties of 20 and 15 per cent, in respect of this item.
– But the officers of the Department, according to the Treasurer, said that those, duties were unnecessary.
– So far as I am aware the officers of the Department told him nothing of the kind. We live and learn. It cannot be gainsaid that these are protective duties, and in the light of later evidence; - some of which was furnished as recently as the 21st instant - showing that the industry is carried on in Australia and is one that may flourish in any of the States, we ask the Committee to agree to this request. I take no notice of statements made by the Opposition who are so very anxious to reduce these duties by 5 per cent. That is always their policy.
– How does the Minister justify this proposal in view of the duties on varn ?
– I have already tried to justify it for the honorable member’ s benefit. If, as the honorable member says, there is a discrepancy between these duties and the duties on yarn, I can only regret that we are not in a position to increase the duties on yarn. The use of the letters “ N.E.I.” is an indication that some wadding is treated in a different way, and honorable members should be aware that wadding used in hospitals is free of duty. The fact remains that these are protective duties.
– The protectionist section of the Tariff Commission recommended a duty of only 5 per cent.
– That may be so, but it only proves what I have said. From information received subsequent to the publication of the recommendation of the Tariff Commission, the Government decided’ to recommend duties of 20 and 15 per cent. Then, probably owing to the stress of circumstances in the Committee, the Treasurer’ permitted the item to be made free, and now, after still further evidence has been produced, it is thought advisable to renew the proposal the Government made in the first instance, and impose duties of 20 and 15 per cent. The honorable member for Kooyong knew well what he was. talking about, and the firm to whom he referred made the statement that under the 20 and 15 per cent. duties they did not increase their price, and had no intention of doing so. All they desire is a larger market, which means for them an increased output at a reduced cost of manufacture, and they express the hope that the price will also be reduced.
– They never had a 20 per cent. duty on this item.
– For over three months, that is to say from the introduction of the Tariff up to the 14th November, they had the benefit of a 20 per. cent. duty, and they did not increase their price. They were satisfied to increase their output. I again ask the Committee to agree to this proposal, because it will have a protective effect.
.- I wish to express my obligation to the honorable member for Kooyong,who seems to be the only member of the Committee who is able to extract a fair explanation . from Ministers. Week after week I am here demanding explanations , from the Government on all sorts of subjects, and . I never get a single satisfactory reply. The honorable member, for Kooyong . rises, and for once. adopts a threatening attitude, and the Government are on their knees before him at once to repeat what they have said a dozen times before. I hope that the honorable member will in future exercise his great influence on the Government more frequently. In spite of explanations that have been given, I am unable to find a reference to the importation of1 lb. of this cotton wool or wadding in the statistical returns of imports tor 1906. In a statement put before honorable members when the Tariff was introduced, the Government set out the imports under each heading, but were unable to show that 1 lb. of this material had been imported. ‘ The statement made by the honorable member for Kooyong was lucid, but it gave no real information to the Committee. The honorable member spoke of the importation of 250,000 lbs. of cotton. No. man has a clearer view of financial questions, and the honorable member must have been smiling at himself when he made the statement. I propose to put him on his conscience, and he has not been put on that for years. When he spoke a little time ago of 250,000 lbs. of cotton being imported-
– I did not say that was the quantity imported- I said that was the quantity used.
– I am obliged to the honorable member for the correction. The statement is that 250,000 lbs. of cotton is used in the factory of the honorable member’s . friends who are on the telephone, and who evidently sweat their employes, or they would not be working at 9 o’clock in the evening. -I ought not to joke at the expense of the firm, and of course I intend no imputation upon so eminent and important a firm as the one referred to. The moment my honorable friend mentions the name of a firm it becomes important. My point is that the impression conveyed by the honorable member for Kooyong is that the firm referred to uses 250,000 lbs. of cotton each year in the manufacture of wadding and cotton wool, when we know that it is also used in other articles of manufacture turned out by the firm.
– The honorable gentleman should not misinterpret what I said, I quoted the quantity used to show the extent of the firm’s operations.
– I have.no wish to misinterpret what the honorable member said ; but honorable members generally knowing his intimate knowledge of financial operations might be led to believe that the firm imported the quantity of cotton referred to for the manufactureof wadding and cotton wool.” That of course would be a wrong inference to draw. Up to the present the ear was the only part of the human form that was not affected by the Tariff. Thousands of people suffer from ear-ache, and it ‘is possible that persons who visit the public galleries of this Chamber sometimes suffer from such an attack. . Now it is proposed that any one who suffers from ear-ache must pay a duty of 20 per cent. on the wadding or cotton wool which he uses.
– Wadding or cotton wool used for such a purpose is made duty free under another item.
– Every one cannot attend a hospital for the cure of an ear-ache. Men. who have to go to work at 6 o’.clock in the morning must use any kind of wadding that comes handy. Why should the horrible doctrine of free-trade be applied in the case of wadding and cotton wool used in hospitals when the important firm referred to by the honorable member for Kooyong is anxious that there should be a duty imposed on it?
– It would now be dutiable if the proposal to make it free had not been accepted.
– Surely honorable members opposite are not automata that accept whatever is put before them without reasonable explanation ? I feel that it is hopeless to endeavour to induce honorable members to act reasonably in this matter. The Government having had this article free for years under the first Tariff proposed that it should bedutiable at 20 and 15 per cent. Then theTreasurer invited the Committee to negative that proposal. He said lie would not listen to reports of interested firms. That was his attitude before the Committee and the country, and now because some one elsewhere has listened to the reports of interested persons, whoif their business has been establishedfor some time have been, manufacturing this article without the assistance of a duty, the Committee -is again invitedto. impose the ; duties which -the Government themselves proposed should be abolished. How can we expect to frame a satisfactory Tariff in this way ? The honorable member for North” Sydney, who is always anxious to pursue a moderate course, suggests as a compromise duties of 15 and 10 per cent., putting the item on the same basis as cotton yarn, which is a far more difficult article to manufacture. I hope that the Minister will accept the compromise.
– Not after the attack the honorable member has made on the honorable member for Kooyong.
– There is no member of the Committee who is better able to look after himself than is the honorable member for Kooyong. The honorable member has a Scotch strain in him that never fails. He needs no protection, and if he did he would not go to Ministers for it. No more fearless and independent-minded man has ever sat in this Chamber. I always know where the honorable member is, although one may not know where to find him.
.- As the Minister is unable to explain why the Treasurer proposed that this item should be free, I suggest that it would be well to postpone the consideration of the proposal now made until the Treasurer returns from Tasmania.
– It would be much easier for the Committee to agree to the duties proposed and to ask the Treasurer question’s on the subject afterwards.
– If the Treasurer consents to a recommittal of the item the Minister will offer no objection?
– Certainly not.
– That is absolutely fair ! There is only one other thing I wish to say. The honorable member for Kooyong has extended to me a public invitation to visit the establishment of the firm to whom he has referred. I feel that it would not be consistent with my public duty to pay a special visit to the establishment of a firm seeking special benefits at the hands of Parliament, and I must consequently decline to accept the honorable member’s invitation.
Question - That the modification making the duties on “ Waddings and Cotton Wool,” ad. val. (General Tariff), 15 per cent. (United Kingdom), 10 per cent. (Mr. Dugald Thomson’s modification) be made - put. TheCommittee divided.
Ayes … … 14
Noes … … … 22
Mnioritv … 8 .
Question so resolved in the negative.
Requested amendments made.
Requested amendment in item 131 (Fringes), made.
Item 132. Socks and Stockings of all kinds for human attire, ad -val. (General Tariff), on and after 14th November,1907, 25 per cent. (United Kingdom), on and after 14th November, 1907, 20 per cent.
Requests. - Leave out the words “of all kinds,” insert “viz.” after the word “attire,” and add the following paragraphs - “(a) Woollen or containing wool, ad val. (General Tariff), 25 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), 20 per cent.
Motion (by Mr. Austin Chapman) proposed.
That the requested amendments be not made.
.- Will the Minister tell us why he disagrees with the requested amendments. This is an important item; and I presume the members of another place, whom he has been so slavishly following, must have had some reason for making the suggestion.
– Honorable members will see - to adopt the argument of the honorable member for North Sydney - how absurd it would be to impose a duty on the raw material - yarn - and allow the finished cotton socks to come in free ; and, further, I am advised that cotton socks and stockings are made by severals firms in Aus-‘ tralia. .
– Where are the firms?
– Some doubt was expressed as to these goods being manufactured here, but the Department have ascertained that such is the fact; and I dare say I shall be able to tell the honorable member privately the names of the firms. I am advised that the request of the Senate has nothing to recommend it, because the breaking .up of the item would give rise to the annoyances which were experienced in the Department under the Tariff of 1902, to overcome which the present wording was proposed. In> justice to the manufacturers, it ought to be said that there are imported some lines of men’s half hose made, of cotton, in the case of which, when the weaving’ is completed, there is a mere dusting of wool, blown on by a special process; and these, goods, are sold as woollen socks to purchasers who know no better. It was this class of goods that caused the annoyance in the examination of hosiery under the old Tariff. Honorable members will recognise the difficulty there must be in distinguishing between the. different classes, of goods ; and there is, as I . have said, the absurdity of taxing the raw material and admitting the finished article free.
– A test can be made by applying a match.
– That test cannot be applied to all socks and stockings ; and I am advised that, under the Tariff of 1902, there was a great deal of trouble caused in this connexion.
– What is the large staff at the Customs for?
– I do not base my objection entirely on that ground, but also on the ground that- some protection ought to be afforded to local manufacturers.
– The Tariff is full of finer distinctions !
– Immediately a difficulty is pointed out, the honorable member, points ‘to other, difficulties. I can quite understand the honorable member, from his free-trade stand-point, holding the opinion that we ought to accept all amendments of this character; but, from the protectionist stand-point of encouraging industry, and affording employment, there is every reason for, objecting to them, apart altogether from . the difficulties experienced by the Department to which I have referred. We have to take a great deal on trust at the Customs, where not one-tenth or onetwentieth of the goods passed can be examined.
.- The only question that arises here is in reference to cotton socks and stockings. Of course, Australia can produce the raw- material of the woollen goods in profusion; but we do not profess to produce cotton, which, when imported, would simply have to be stitched together info socks, and would not give rise to much of an industry, even, if the local articles were better than those imported. Is this not an item on- which a free run can be given to people who use the cheaper, kinds of socks and stockings?.’
– We should lose £20,000 in revenue by making these articles free.
– - -But we -cannot receive £20,000 ‘in duty oh the imported article, and, at the same time, encourage the making of socks and stockings in Australia - the two things cannot happen together. There cannot be much in an item of this kind from the point of view of an Australian industry, until we have cotton production established, which is a matter of the future. I think we might allow the people to have one cheap line in the Tariff’; and, as for revenue, the Government are receiving hundreds of thousands of pounds more than they expected.
.- 1 suggest that the Committee first decide in reference to paragraphs a and c, and then discuss paragraph b. I have here three samples of woollen socks made in Australia, two of them at is. a pair, and one for very heavy work, such as navvying, at is. 6d. I am perfectly satisfied that no Australian workman,, would wear’ cotton socks after an experience of such woollen socks as these. Woollen socks have one great advantage over the cotton article, in that they are much easier to darn. I do not know whether, the leader of the Opposition takes any exception- to the. elimination, of the Senate’s suggestions, except in regard to paragraph b?
– We ought to negative the motion, so that the requested amendment may be made. We have no quarrel with the proposal so fair as paragraphs a and c are concerned, and paragraph b does what we wish.
.- The Minister has told us that if the Senate’s amendment in regard to cotton socks and stockings is made, the revenue will suffer to the extent of £20,000 per annum, and yet he told us that the manufacture of socks and stockings is a great national industry in Victoria, which will be destroyed unless it is protected. I have- heard many protectionists say that they are opposed to revenue duties. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports has said that.
– I say it still.
– Then will not the honorable member vote against the Minister’s proposal ?
– I shall vote against a duty on cotton socks.
– Then will not the Minister give way ? Is not this the time to say, “Colonel, don’t shoot. . I’ll come down”? There might well be a duty on silk stockings and socks, because those who wear such articles can afford to pay taxation. Woollen socks and stockings might also be made dutiable. But there should be no duty on the cotton socks and stockings which are used by the working classes. The Government’ wishes to impose the same duty upon the clothing of the poor as on the clothing of the wealthy.
– Has not that been done all along the line?
– No. The honorable member has voted for taxation on the necessaries of life.
– I have voted to remove such taxation where it .could be done legitimately.
– Every one knows that is. per pair is quite enough for working men to have to pay for socks, and the honorable member for Melbourne has produced samples which show how the quality ‘ of the articles imported has been reduced to enable the importer to pay duty, and still sell at low prices. The Government, which claims to be the friend of the working people, is dipping its hand into their; pockets. I hope that when the Minister sees that we have the numbers, he will allow the ‘ requested amendment of the Senate to be made.
.- Mr. Frederick :Robinson, of the firm of Thomas Murray and Company, hosiery manufacturers, Richmond, when examined on oath before the Tariff Commission, gave this evidence -
What types of socks and stockings do you admit you cannot produce ? - We do not profess to make embroidered socks and stockings;
Those are fancy goods? - Lisle thread, or cotton socks, cannot be made here. The Tariff on cotton socles and stockings is only 10 per cent., and that trade is in the hands of Germany. Even America buys most of her cotton productions from Germany; it is a German trade alone. The socks and stockings we mainly produce are for people who are not living in luxury - ordinary working men.
Do you make any complaint about cotton socks and stockings, which are not mentioned in your letter? - We have not mentioned them, because we did not think there would be any use bringing them before the Commission.’
There is no spinning machine in Australia which can make an article such as that which I now hold in my hand. This article cannot be produced in England or in America, notwithstanding the high Tariff of that country. It is made in, Germany, where there is a secret- process which is carefully guarded. The capital,ists of America have established a factory in Germany, to which they send stockings to be dyed with what is called the fast diamond dye, by means of the Hermsdorf process, which is a trade secret. According -to Kelly’s Customs Tariffs of the World. 1904, page 467, the duties in the United States on cotton stockings are these -
Yet, even with that amount of protection, the Americans haw had to send their goods to be dved in Germany in order to get the’ required colour. I have made inquiries, and do not know a single shop in Mel- bourne Or Sydney at -which an Australian- made pair of cotton socks can be bought. Some very strange statements are made. One gentleman in whom I know that honorable members have a great deal of confidence was under the impression that there was a contract between the Victorian Government and a manufacturer named Youl, of South Melbourne, for the supply of cotton socks for the railway servants.
– He supplies the asylums “Mr. MALONEY.- I knew that that could not be -so, because the Australian railway servant is a free man, and would refuse to be dictated to as to what socks he should wear. These socks are supplied to the military at 8£d. per pair, or 8s. 6d. per dozen. They are a very good article, but a little rougher than the imported cotton socks at 6d. per pair which I hold in my hand. One sock brought under my notice was made of very common cotton yarn mixed with short fibre that had most likely been sweepings from a tweed manufactory. Mr. Harold Sampson, hosiery ‘ manufacturer, Richmond, gave the following evidence’ to the Tariff Commission- 71.520. Do you think it is advisable to ‘have a duty of 10 per cent, on cotton socks and stockings? - No; I do not see the use of it. Even if they were made here, that 10 per cent, would not be sufficient protection. 71.521. Then it is purely a revenue duty? - Yes.
That statement coincides with the Minister’s remark that so much revenue would be lost - 71.522. Do you not think that could be either reduced or abolished? - It could be abolished, as far as the manufacturers are concerned.
Mr. Frederick Robinson, . representing Messrs. Thomas Murray and Company, hosiery manufacturers, Richmond, recalled and re-examined, made the following statements - 71,563. Are you interested in a duty being placed on cotton hosiery or cotton socks? - Cotton socks and stockings’ we do not touch’. We could not do it unless we had the raw materials here. 71,565. Is there any one engaged in making cotton socks and stockings in Australia? - No, not that we know of.
That evidence was given on 14th February, 1906. A Nottingham hosiery company tried to do its own dyeing, but could not, and ultimately followed the American example by establishing a factory in Germany. . The machine that made the heavier and coarser sock which I have here would not be good enough to make this much finer article, which one can see through. There are a few cotton . socks made here, as Mr. Youl, of South Melbourne, manufactures them for the military and also for the benevolent asylums. I have heard to-day, for the first time, that we in Victoria are cruel enough to put cotton socks upon the old and helpless people in the benevolent asylums. I am glad that this debate has brought that fact under my notice, for I shall never, in the future, contribute one penny-piece to any institution which puts cotton socks on the feet of old people. When splendid socks like the pair I hold in my hand can be obtained for is. a pair, it is contemptible and uncharitable to save a few paltry pence at the expense of the comfort of the old people. It is an infamy that any hospital or benevolent asylum, or home for the aged poor, should do such a thing. The Minister may ask how it is that I, who am so strong a protectionist, should take the stand I am taking on. this item. ‘ But, as a protectionist, I recognise, with the true free-trader, that we should not draw one penny-piece from the Customs House. We ought to go even as far as to prohibit the importation, of what we can make for our own citizens, but what we cannot, and do not, manufacture, should be admitted free of duty. If the Minister wants to have, a duty upon these articles, let the Government set up a national workshop for the manufacture of them; and, as soon as that undertaking can produce enough to supply even half the community, let him impose a duty of 100 per cent, if he likes, and he can command my vote. But until that is done, I object to mulcting one out of every two of the adult citizens of Australia by means of a revenue duty
.- The honorable member for Melbourne, as a protectionist, evidently wants to protect the articles included in paragraphs a and c- woollen and silk socks. If he consents to the admission of cotton stockings free, he will by his action discourage the use of woollen and silk stockings.
– No; surely no one who can afford to buy woollen stockings will wear cotton ones !
– Is the honorable member for Fawkner pleading for. protection, or against the imposition of a land tax?
– I am pleading for the encouragement of the main industry of Australia’, but the honorable member . for
Melbourne has been pleading for the introduction of cotton stockings, which he admits he does, not like to see any one wearing.
– No ; he said that he does not like to see old people in charitable institutions wearing them.
– If he wishes to encourage the use of woollen and silk stockings, surely he will vote to impose a protectionist duty on cotton stockings.
– Does the honorable member want to make me wear woollen socks against my will?
– I do not want to encourage the honorable member to wear cotton socks! Let us impose a fair duty in order to protect our own people, and our great woollen industry.
.- If honorable members desire to protect woollen hosiery, and to admit cotton hosiery free, they might just as well take a big slice off the duty levied on woollen hosiery, because the latter comes into competition with the former. T think that we should deal with cotton hosiery precisely as we dealt’ with other kinds of hosiery. If honorable members have taken the trouble to read the reports of the Tariff Commission, they will know that practically every merchant who was examined asked that there should be a uniform duty levied on hosiery. I am anxious that we should impose a duty On cotton socks, because, at the instance of a representative of Queensland, we levied a duty on cotton yarns, I presume for the purpose of having them worked up here. I want the people who are engaged in the hosiery industry to have a chance to compete with the imported articles. I am not taking this stand merely because the largest hosiery factory as well as another small one happens to be situated in my electorate, I trust that the Committee will hot agree to the Senate’s request, because if we do, we shall be destroying a possible industry, and that is the cotton sock industry. The honorable member for Melbourne has contended that people in benevo-lent asylums should not wear cotton socks: In my opinion, they should’ not be worn by any person if they are prejudicial to the health of the community. I should be prepared to prohibit their introduction, but. of course, that cannot be done at this stage. I believe that woollen socks are the best and most healthy, .and I shall not vote to. make it e:sv for an unhealthy article to be imported and worn by the people ‘of
Australia. I would put cotton socks on precisely the same footing as woollen and silk socks.
.- The honorable member for Melbourne said that no cotton socks are manufactured in this country.
– I said that most of the witnesses made that statement.
– I hold in my hand a letter in which certain manufacturers in South Melbourne state that they make cotton socks, and that if the duty on those articles be removed they will cease to do so.
– Is that a letter obtained from the Department?
– Then I shall give some information too.
– I asked for the loan of the letter.
– I ask the honorable member to read the whole letter, so that every honorable member may know its contents.
– I do not think that it is worth while to read the. whole of the letter, as it is very long, and therefore I shall only quote a few statements therefrom. The writers say that they make cotton socks, and that the trade prices are 6d.., is., and is. 6d. They assert, that if the articles were admitted free the public would be charged exactly the same prices as they are charged now, and the importers would make from 50 to 70 per cent. profit, whereas if the duty were retained they would make only half that amount. Honorable members will not be reducing the price to the- people of this country if they allow f the articles to come in free.. The importer will get the profit, and the people will not reap a benefit from the removal of the duty. The honorable member for Melbourne said that the Germans are the only people who have the right kinds of dyes and can manufacture cotton socks.
– I did not say any such thing.. -I said that they have a special dye which no one else has.
– Yet the Japanese make a large number of socks and stockings and send them to Australia. When I was in Japan some time ago I was surprised to learn that nearly the whole of the cotton singlets used in Australia were manufactured there. Prior to that time they ‘ were all imported from England, but now the Japanese have secured .almost a monopoly of the trade with Australia. If we wish to protect the woollen industry we shall not achieve our purpose by admitting ‘all these manufactured cotton goods free. ‘ It is the most difficult thing in the world for an ordinary person to distinguish between a cotton sock and a merino sock or a cotton stocking and a merino stocking. If we levy the duty proposed our people will be afforded a much better chance of wearing woollen socks.
– The remarks of the honorable member for Yarra, the honorable member for Fawkner, and the honorable member for Balaclava, remind me of ancient history. An account which I read some years ago related how in the Old Country a tax was placed upon every person who did not wear woollen clothes.
– At that time people had to be buried in wool.
– Yes, their shrouds had to be. made of it, and I am convinced that if some honorable members had their way to-day they would do exactly as was done in olden times.
– Why not make it a criminal offence. to wear cotton socks?’
– A lot of us would then have no socks to wear. The honorable member for Yarra has affirmed1 that socks and stockings are being manufactured . in his electorate. But he did not tell the Committee that they were woollen socks and stockings. What is the- testimony of Mr. Frederick Robinson of the firm of Messrs. Thomas Murray and Company, hosiery manufacturers carrying on business at Richmond ? In giving evidence before the Tariff Commission he was examined as follows -
Is there any spinning plant in Australia cap? able of producing those yams? - Not to my knowledge.
Do you think you have lost that (socks and stockings) trade? - We cannot say we have lost it, but it could be retained in the Commonwealth. I do not say that we have lost it ourselves.
You think you ought to be able to manufacture most of it here? - We ought to be able.
But you cannot say you ever had it all ? - We cannot say we ever had it all.
What types of socks and stockings do you admit you cannot produce? - We do not profess to make embroidered socks and stockings.
Those are fancy goods? - The Tariff for cotton socks and stockings is only 10 per cent., and that trade is in the hands of Germany. Even America buys most of her cotton productions from Germany; it is a German trade alone.
The socks and stockings we mainly produce are for people not living in luxury - ordinary working men’.
The honorable member for Balaclava read -an official document which has been forwarded to the Customs Department by the persons interested in this industry. But I ask him as a reasonable man whether - if cotton socks and stockings are being made in Victoria to the extent that that document indicates - we should derive a revenue from this item alone of £20,000 annually ? The idea is preposterous upon its face. The honorable member for Yarra stated that a protective duty would have the effect of inducing people to wear woollen socks and stockings But are we to tax the whole community - the wives, daughters, and sisters of the workers who are interested in this matter - for the sake of a small manufacturer who is turning out half-a-dozen pairs of socks weekly in South Melbourne? We all know that it is a matter of impossibility fpr many’ persons to wear woollen goods. If the honorable member for Melbourne sticks to his guns, I trust that the Committee will support him.
.- I think that this is an occasion upon which the Committee can act with a certain degree of liberality towards the great mass of the people of Australia. There is no suggestion that the making up of cotton material into socks is an important industry here, whilst there are tens and hundreds of thousands to whom this is a matter of great importance. I should like to relieve theanxiety of the honorable member for Balaclava in regard to the terrible danger to be apprehended from Japanese cotton socks’ invading the Australian market and paralyzing the industry at South Melbourne. V find that in 1906, out of a total importation of £150,000 worth of cotton socks and stockings, the enormous sum of £[155 worth came from Japan. Lest the danger of a flood of Chinese cotton socks and stockings should appal the honorable member, I may mention that the imports from Hong Kong during the same year were valued at £1. The fact of the matter is that the woollen manufacturers are not satisfied with the enormous increased protection which they are receiving under this Tariff - an increase of 100 per cent , I. think.
– No; the increase is frei a 15 per cent, to 25 per cent.
– I understand that the duty upon woollens has been increased very considerably.
– From 15 per cent, to 25 per cent.
– Then I was wrong in saying that there had been an increase of 100 per cent. But the fact remains that there has been a very substantial increase. Having granted that increase, surely we might allow the people who cannot afford to wear - or who do not wish to wear - woolen socks, to obtain cotton socks free of duty. It was only 10 per cent, under the Tariff which operated from 1902 to 1907.
– Make it 10 per cent. now.
– I should prefer 10 per cent. to 20 or 25. But I really think that when honorable members consider the hundreds of thousands of pounds of extra taxation which are put upon the bulk of the people of Australia they will recognise that this is an occasion when we might impose a low duty. This Tariff, as honorable members are aware, will yield anything up to something like £2,000,000 more in actual cash - Australian cash - taken out of the pockets of Australians. Surely honorable members opposite can afford to let the purchasers of these articles, which are not articles ofAustralian manufacture, have a cheap line. I hope - of course, I admit that the odds are all against it, but still I hope - that as there is no substantial Australian industry involved, the great mass of the people will on this occasion have the benefit of liberal treatment.
– It is surprising to me to observe the amount of interest that is taken in this question of cotton socks and stockings. Honorable members opposite have been piling on the duties line after line, and have imposed upon the great mass of the people taxation to an enormous extent. The honorable member for Maranoa is really upset over the question of’ cotton socks and stockings having to bear a duty, although, notwithstanding that he is a free-trader, he has agreed to enormous duties on many other lines. The honorable member professes to represent the masses of the people as do other members of the party to which he belongs.
– Not only profess, but do represent them. Honorable members on theOpposition side are the professors.
– But, nevertheless, these representatives of the masses of the people impose enormous taxes upon them. They increase taxation upon the goods that those whom they represent alone have to buy, and then call themselves representatives of the workers. There is a large section of the people of this country who are unable to buy woollen socks or stockings. The members of the Labour Party are apparently so unfamiliar with the life of the poorer classes that they do not know that the children of the humblest section of the community nearly all wear cotton socks.
– Is the honorable member willing to take off Customs duties, and impose a tax on land?
– That is another question. I have always been in favour of a land tax or direct taxation. But that question is not before the Committee just now.
– The honorablemember raised it.
– I am opposing indirect taxation. Honorable members opposite are nothing but political humbugs. Here is a body of men callingthemselves the Labour Party, who have not even seen the little children going to school in white cotton socks. Go to the poorest parts of any city in Australia, and you will see nothing but cotton socks worn by the children. Go to South Melbourne, which I believe is represented by the honorable member who has been interjecting so frequently to-night, and you will find that most of the children going to school wear cotton socks. These honorable members profess to represent the working people, and yet they are imposing taxation to the extent of £20,000 a year upon cotton socks and stockings. ‘These gentlemen are, I say again, political humbugs, who are trading upon the cry of representing the masses of the people, although they are piling up duties which have to be paid exclusively by the poor. The honorable member for Yarra has admitted that no industry has been established, but says that one may be established.
– I never said any such thing.
– He said that there was no industry established yet.
– I never said that; but the statement is near enough for the honorable member.
– Where is the consistency of people who profess to be enthusiastic in the cause of the poorer classes, and who nevertheless increase taxation upon them? Another set of honorable members are in favour of the duty because £20,000 per annum will be lost to the revenue if it is not imposed. The only satisfaction that I can derive from this Tariff is that in States like Tasmania and Queensland the poorer people are paying less than they formerly paid. There is a shortage, of revenue. What does it mean? It means that the poor people of those States are paying less taxation, whilst more money is being taken out of the pockets of the people of the States where the .revenue is raised from other sources. Yet we find honorable members favouring these duties because they will raise revenue.
– The honorable member is pitching into those on his own side.
– The remark applies to the honorable member for Barrier also. He is one of the most inconsistent men in this Parliament. Re-‘ presenting a constituency in which there is one of the richest mines in. Australia, he voted to take the duties off timber used in those mines, while clapping increased burdens upon the miners. What for ? Only to curry favour with the mine-owners.
-The honorable member must not pursue that line of argument.
– I believe that the mine-owners are great supporters of the honorable member for Barrier !
– He paid them well for supporting him. I hope we shall soon go- to a vote, and shall show that we have some intelligence in reference to cotton socks and stockings. They are imported, and evidently they are worn by some one. The people who wear them do so because they cost less than socks and stocking’s made of superior material. If we place a duty upon them we shall be taxing the poor people. If honorable members opposite represent the poor as well as the rich, as they profess to do, they will vote to put cotton socks and stockings upon the free list.
Mr. KELLY (Wentworth [10.20]. - I hesitated to rise, because I was sure- that the Labour Party would rise unitedly to defend itself from the charges made in the very able speech delivered by the honorable member for Robertson.
– No one takes any notice of him.
– The honorable member for Balaclava said that there were fixed retail prices for cotton socks and stockings in Australia, and that if the duty were removed the only result would be that the importers would make a larger profit at the expense of the general ‘ consumer. My information is’ that the duty which the honorable member would have imposed will not put up the prices, but will put down the quality. I have before me two pairs of cotton stockings, one pair having been imported ,under the old Tariff, and the other imported under the present Tariff. Both are sold at is. per pair. The quality of the pair imported under the present duty is infinitely inferior to the quality of that imported prior to this Tariff coming into force. It is invoiced at 5s. 3d. per dozen as against the invoiced price of - 6s. per dozen’ in respect of stockings imported under the old Tariff, and both are sold at is. per pair. That shows clearly that this duty will not prevent people from wearing cotton socks and stockings, but that it will lead to their being supplied with an article of much poorer quality. I wish to put it strongly that if honorable members have any thought for the poorest people in this community they will not endeavour to compel them to wear hosiery inferior to that which they now use, which, Heaven knows, is poor enough.
– The debate on the Tariff has disclosed the fact that in this House there are protectionists and protectionists. There are those who strongly advocate protective duties to encourage industries that givepromise of being established on a selfsupporting basis ; there are others who are prepared to advocate taxation through the Customs, and to so allocate it that whilst being a powerful means of raising revenue it will also have a protective incidence. Those who support protective duties* to establish local industries are not in favour of purely revenue duties, and I understand that the honorable member for Melbourne, who has so ably placed this question before the Committee, comes within that category. He desires to establish industries by. means of protective duties ; but he is not in favour of Customs taxation merely for the purpose of raising revenue. The ‘ Minister of Trade and Custom’s has urged that we should accept this request for the reason, amongst others, that if the honorable member for Melbourne’s proposition were agreed to we should lose a good deal of revenue. I think that he was justified in placing that phase of the question before the Committee, but I. would ask those who do not believe in Customs duties for’ merely revenue purposes to keep that fact in mind. Many people must necessarily wear cotton socks or stockings. Climatic conditions throughput a large part of the Commonwealth render the use of such hosiery almost imperative, and it is absurd for the sake of encouraging a local industry to endeavour to compel those residing’ in the warmer parts of Australia to use woollen hosiery. If this duty be imposed, they will be .compelled either, to purchase these goods at a greatly enhanced price and thereby to add materially to the revenue from Customs taxation, or to do without such wear. It has also been urged with much force that cotton hosiery is used largely by the poorer classes, and that this tax will fall heavily upon the worker - upon the miner and even the factory hand engaged in other industries. It will press very heavily upon the working man with a family, who has to provide his children with hosiery, and it will be still another charge upon his slender income. I do not think that it is the desire of the protectionists of the Labour Party to’ impose burdens upon the poor in this connexion. It has been admitted by the Minister of Trade and Customs that one strong reason for asking the Committee to agree to this increase is that it is necessary’ to .make good a loss of revenue in other directions..
– I hope thathonorable members’ will adopt the’ rule laid down by some protectionists at all events, that duties which press heavily upon the poor are unworthy pf support. I feelsure that the observance of that policy will mean that this item of cotton socks and stockings will be placed upon the free. list.
– On more than one occasion, I have said that my only object in supporting protective duties is to encourage the manufacture of the dutiable articles in Australia. I have not supported duties merely for the purpose of. raising revenue, because I believe that revenue should be collected in some other way. When the Tariff was previously before the Committee, I did not quote from , reports of either the free- trade or protectionist sections of the Tariff Commission, because I could never discover’ which section told the truth. In every case one or the other must have been- saying what- ‘ was untrue. When one honorable memberquoted in support of a (proposal the report of the protectionist section, another quoted in opposition to it the report of the’ free- trade section, and the result was chaos. Strangely enough, I find that both sections of the Tariff Commission were agreed in this .particular case.
– The members of the free-, trade section of the Commission believed in raising revenue through the Customs, whilethe honorable member does not. .
– I quote the follow-; ing from the report of the free-trade section of the Commission -
No proposal of a duty on cotton hosiery was made by any of the witnesses who asked for a higher Tariff on woollen goods. On the contrary, a manufacturer deprecated a suggestion by a Commissioner of a duty on cotton socks and stockings.
In a progress report by the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission, I find the following -
Cotton socks and stockings were not at present manufactured in Australia. . There was no immediate prospect of the successful initiation of this branch of hosiery production here, and, therefore, these goods did not require to be. protected by a special duty. ‘
So far the reports by the two sections of the Commission agree. The protectionist section went on to say -
The hosiery manufacturers who appeared before your Commissioners were interested in securing an increased import duty upon- woollen socks and stockings only, but some of them incidentally stated that if the present duty of 16 per cent, on cotton hosiery were increased to 20’ or 25 per cent., and the raw material locally produced, they could compete with imported cotton socks and stockings. The manufacture of this kind of cotton hosiery was confined- to Germany. The Australian manufacturers did not spin cotton yarn.
These reports proved conclusively to my mind that there was no immediate prospect of the establishment of the manufacture of cotton socks and stockings in Australia, and I therefore deemed it my duty as a protectionist to vote against the imposition of any duties upon these articles. I have learned since that Foy and Gibson, of Collingwood, do. manufacture cotton socks, and I have alsobeen told that they are manufactured by a firm in my own electorate. It will be ad mitted that I have always fought hard to get for my constituents what they require. I know the manufacturer, in South Melbourne who has been referred to; and I knew his father beforehim as a manufacturer of excellent woollen goods, but until this evening I never heard that they manufactured cotton socks or stockings.
– Should not that information have been supplied . to the Tariff Commission?
– Yes ; but the Committee sat in 1906 and 1907, and I admit that much might have happened since they took evidence. As a protectionist. I have contended that the imposition of a protective duty does not necessarily increase- the price of the dutiable article where there is local manufacture as well as importation But if we imposed a duty on cotton socks and stockings when these articles are not manufactured here, I am certain that without local competition the result would be. that the importer would raise the price in proportion to the duty. I am aware that when people have been accustomed to pay a certain price for an article, they strongly object if they are asked to pay a higher price. In voting as I intend to do, . to make cotton socks and stockings free of duty, I hold that I shall not be departing from true protectionist principles, as no satisfactory evidence has been adduced that- these articles arebeing commercially manufactured in Australia.
..-I must in this matter take the same stand as that indicated by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports.Where there is a prospect that any article will be manufactured in Australia within a reasonable time, it is the duty of protectionists to support a protectionist duty upon that article.
– Why should it be difficult to make cotton socks and stockings in Australia?
– I happen to know that the cotton socks and stockings so largely used by adults and children in Australia are made chiefly in Germany. The reason is .thatthe secret of the dyeing of these articles is not in the possession of the manufacturersof any other country. British manufacturers, have for many yearstried in vain tocutintothetrade,but they have been unable to obtain the secret of the dyeing of the goods. The manufacture of these articles is practically a monopoly in the hands of German manufacturers; There is no possibility of their being manufactured here.
– The honorable member is wrong there.
– The honorable member for Batman cannot prove that the cotton socks and stockings to which I refer are being made here. As a matter of fact, they cannot be made here. The honorable member for Calare has pointed out that climatic conditions make it a matter of choice with a majority of the people of Australia to wear cotton socks. I know that I prefer cotton to woollen socks for summer wear. As one who professes protectionist principles, Iam unable to vote for a tax upon an article- which is largely used by the community which is not made, and is not likely to be made here, and which, to all intents and (purposes, is a monopoly in the hands of the manufacturers of one country who have not permitted the secret of their manufacture tobe discovered even by the manufacturers of older nations of the world.
– The honorable member for North Sydney and the honorable member for East Sydney both stated that there had been an increase in the duty on woollen hosiery to the extent of 66 per cent.
– I was giving the honorable member’s own figures.
– The Custom, returns, however, show that about . 95 per cent. of the woollen hosiery comes from Great Britain, and, therefore, the increase has not been 66 per cent., but only about 33 . per cent., the duty being 26 per cent. against Great Britain, whereasin the previous Tariffit was 15 per cent. Theimports of cotton hosiery in 1904 were valued at £128,000, in 1905 at132,000, and in 1906 at £155,000 while the imports of woollen hosiery in the same years were valued at -£265,000, £290,000, and £313,000 respectively. The increase in the duty on woollen hosiery has been -little enough, andI should have preferred, it to remain, at the original figure, namely, 25. per cent. all round, with no preference. It has been suggested thatsomehonorable . membersare voting against the request of the Senate in order that the revenue may be maintained. But the revenue aspect does not appeal to me; I am voting as a’ protectionist, because cotton socks and stockings can be made here as well as can woollen socks and stockings. If the re- quest be granted, there will be a duty on the raw material, while the finished article will be free.
– Are we not going to make cotton varus here ?
– Yes; and I suppose every Queensland geographical protectionist will be in favour of a duty. I desire merely to point out that we shall be likely fo cripple the woollen hosiery industry by making it easier for people to obtain cotton socks and stockings if we accede to the request of the Senate.
House adjourned at 10.47 P-m-
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 28 April 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1908/19080428_reps_3_45/>.