3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Dynamite Explosion at Thursday Island - Employment of Aliens in Forts.
-T-Has the attention of 1 he Minister of Defence been drawn to the following paragraph, which” appears in this morning’s Argus f - ‘
– Has the attention of the Minister of Trade and Customs been called- to the following paragraph, published in this morning’s Age? -
The medical profession, chemists, nurses, and others interested in the relief of suffering are complaining bitterly against the duty of. 30s. per lb. .levied upon the opium constituents of morphia. The imposition has been taken advantage of by some chemists to greatly increase the price of the morphia of commerce. The case certainly seems one for reconsideration before the Tariff is finally disposed of by Parliament. We have received several letters from nurses, pointing out that the heavy duty really means that money is raised “ at the expense of poor sufferers whose last hours are soothed by the use of morphia.”’
I do not quite understand the latter portion of the paragraph, but apparently chemists are charging for morphia more than they charged formerly, and misleading customers by stating that the increase in price is due to the Tariff, whereas morphia, for medical purposes, can be imported duty free. Will the Minister ascertain the facts, and give effect to the highest principles of the protective system which he upholds?
– If the honorable member cannot understand the paragraph, I can hardly be expected to do so. Morphia is dutiable as opium, but opium, .imported for medical purposes, is not dutiable. I shall be glad to look into the matter, and do what I think right.
– According to the State returns of revenue for the month of April, just published, there is a decrease in the Common wealth balance paid to Victoria of- £47,547, and in that paid to New South Wales of .£77,797, which, if not due to exceptional circumstances, indicates a falling off in returns from Customs and Excise duty of ,£2,500,000 a year. Has the Treasurer reason to believe that the circumstances of the past month were exceptional, or does- he regard the figures as an indication/ that there will be a general falling off such as he foretold?
– I cannot answer the honorable member’s question definitely now, although I have just been speaking to the Secretary to the Treasury on the subject. I am not sure that the occurrence of the Easter holidays had not an effect om the revenue. However, I shall make further inquiries. I do not think that the figures indicate any permanent decrease, though, no doubt, the revenue returns are not likely to maintain the present standard. I shall give the honorable member - perhaps this afternoon - a detailed and official reply.
– I promised the honorable member for Flinders that when I had an opportunity ! would give him a further reply to his question. I have seen the Secretary to the Treasury, who informs me that the Treasury officials think that the decrease or shortage for the month is on account of the slight falling off usual in the winter months. Probably the absence of rain in certain parts of the country may have something to do with it. They think also that another cause is that the winter goods were taken out before last month,. In addition to that, there was1 a large withdrawal of certain goods when the increases were requested in the Senate, for fear, I suppose, of those increases being agreed to by this House.
– And a wellgrounded fear, too.
– Very likely.
– I am obliged to the Treasurer for his courtesy. I should like to ask when the quarterly return of revenue and expenditure for the first quarter of this year is likely to be published? It is now about four or five weeks overdue.
– I am informed by the Secretary to the Treasury that the quarterly return is printed, and will be issued immediately.
– Has the Treasurer considered the effect on the revenue of the. Senate’s requests for amendments of the Tariff ?’ If . so, what is his estimate of the effect - which direction will it take - up or down?
– I slated the other day when I- was introducing the Senate’s requests that, so far as I could judge, the effect would be a loss of revenue of from _£i 50,000 to ,£200,000.
– The honorable member said ,£300,000.
– T think I said between ,£200,000 and ,£300,000. I believe ,£200,000 will be as much as the loss of revenue will be, perhaps a little less.
– Then the tendency is not to increase but to reduce the revenue? Sir WILLIAM LYNE.- Yes.
– Have arrangements been made for the representation of the Commonwealth at the FrancoBritish. Exhibition? If so, who has been appointed ?
– - For reasons which are known to the House* the Commonwealth is not represented by exhibits. Any representation of ours there may be will be in connexion with the opening ceremonial, and no appointment has yet been made.
Duty on Absorbent Cotton. Mr. LIDDELL..- I wish to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs a . question, an answer to which I have already received from one of his officers. As I have received a letter from a business firm in Sydney asking me to put the question, I am sure that the honorable gentleman, with his usual courtesy, will -not refuse an answer. I wish to know whether absorbent cotton prepared for surgical purposes is to be admitted free of duty? It seems that there is some difficulty on the subject with the Customs officials in Sydney, and [ should be very much obliged if the Minister would give a reply to the question now.
– If the honorable member will give me all the particulars I shall be glad to look into the matter at once and see that the proper thing is done.
Late Fee Letter-box at Sydney
Railway Station - Collection of
Mails at Adelaide.
– The honorable member for Nepean asked a question the other day with respect to a letter-box and lamp at the Sydney railway station, and I submit the following information, received from the Deputy Postmaster-General, Sydney; in reply to the honorable member’s question -
– I wish to ask a question of the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. Some time ago a request was made for full reports as to the collection of mails by motors in Adelaide. I wish to ask whether the reports have yet been received, and, if so, whether the officers of the Department have acknowledge of what is commonly reported in Adelaide as a fact, that the mails are sometimes collected by the men employed by the contractor for the supply of the motor cars, unaccompanied by . any -officer of the Department?
– I believe that a report on the subject has been prepared for the information of the Department. I shall find out whether it can be made available. With reference to the second part of the -honorable member’s question, I have no knowledge of the truth or otherwise of the statement made, but I shall make inquiries.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister, whether his attention has been directed to a paragraph appearing. in the Herald of yesterday evening dealing with a report by Mr. Paul le Maistre, the French Consul ? In the report the statement is made with reference to France that, in 1907 -
The State sold manufactured tobacco to the value of ^19,738,287 and realised a profit of £15,080,000 a trifle more in 1906. The smoking of cigarettes in France appeared to have prodigiously increased. In 1872 the value of the cigarettes consumed was ^40,000. In 1882 the value was ^680,000, at which level it remained stationary for several years, but reached to ^2,880,000 in 1907. The general profit accruing to the Government through the manufacture and sale of tobacco in France is 92 per cent, of the amount of the sales.
In view of the statements appearing in this report, I should like .to ask the. Prime Minister whether he does not think that the experience of France’- in connexion with the nationalization of the tobacco industry is sufficiently encouraging to warrant the adoption of a similar policy in Australia?
– The question raised by the honorable member is properly one of policy, and will require .great consideration. The only fact which I can add to the statements already quoted is that by late French newspapers 1 see that a determined effort is being made to put down the cigarette smoking which is being- indulged in to such- an excessive extent in France.
– That involves only j£2, 000,000 of the ^17,000,000 referred to.
– That is as the honorable member has pointed out. As to another aspect of the question raised by the honorable member, it could be better dealt with by those who are more familiar with the use of tobacco.
Mx. GLYNN.- I wish to ask the Minister of Trade and; Customs whether the proclamation issued in relation to the size of corn sacks, which is to come into force on the 15th of next month, has been issued under the Customs Act, and, if so, whether in respect to it reliance is placed on paragraph g of section 52 of the Act only, or whether there are any other sections on which the Minister relies for. his authority to issue the proclamation?
– The proclamation was issued- under the Customs Act, and I was assured that we had every power to issue it. I believe now that our power is questioned. No exception is taken to the proposed reduction in the size of the bags. We were assured by the Crown Law officers that we should be absolutely right in the course proposed, and the matter was considered closely before we issued the proclamation. If the honorable member desires to be supplied with detailed particulars, I shall be very glad to supply him with them.
– Seeing that there is some doubt as to the legality of this proclamation relating to corn sacks, will the Minister of Trade and Customs be good enough to inform us on- whose advice he issued it?
– On the advice of the law officers. . I have no doubt as to the legality of the proclamation, though evidently the honorable member has.
Purchase of “ Lone. Hand “ Article
– I should like to ask the Prime Minister, without notice, a question with reference to the papers connected with the purchase of the Lone Hand article, which were laid on the table yesterday. He will forgive me for doing so, because the details there given are really fragmentary. I wish to know whether the article was circulated in England in the Lone Hand magazine, or as a separate pamphlet ?
– The question is a proper one, and I am glad that it has been asked, because yesterday I omitted to mention one of the chief advantages of the transaction. The Government obtained the free publication of the article in the 50,000 copies of the first issue of the Lone Hand, which were sent to every newspaper in the United Kingdom, and to every leading newspaper in the United States of America. Those copies were in addition to the ] 0,900 copies of the article purchased and circulated by us throughout the United Kingdom as a separate pamphlet.
– Is the Mr. Fox who received £10 a page for the Lone. Hand article the gentleman who represents the Bulletin in the press’ gallery of this House ?
– I am not aware. No doubt the Mr. Fox alluded to is the ‘Mr. Fox associated with the Bulletin, though our payment was made, not to him, but to the proprietors of the Lone Hand magazine.
– I do not wish to weary the Prime Minister with questions about the copies of the Lone Hand procured for advertising purposes, but the honorable gentleman will admit that the information given is so fragmentary- that it is really necessary that we should endeavour to get a little more. In explanation of my question, I should like to say that the arrangement to take the copies of the Lone Hand was entered into, as the papers show, a considerable time before the first issue of that magazine.
– I think it was issued within a month of the’ date of the letter of ours. Of course, I was away after that.
– So far as i can judge from the papers, and, .of course, I do not wish to do any injustice in the matter, it was issued some time after the arrangement was entered into, and I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether he is able to say what advertisements the proprietors of the magazine were able to secure on the strength of the Government undertaking to purchase 10,000 copies of it?
– Of course, I have not the least knowledge on that point. The letter to which I have referred is dated 1st March. At that date, my honorable colleague the Treasurer had already left for the Old Country ^ and I left immediately afterwards, on the 4th or 5th of March. Though I am not sure on the point, I understand that the first number of the magazine was published immediately after that time, and I doubt whether the proprietors would have neglected to make arrangements for advertisements for the magazine ‘until a date so close to the day of publication.-
– With further reference to the Lone Hand matter, I ask the Prime Minister whether he is able to inform the House when, how, and where the to, 000 copies which have been referred to were delivered? I should like to know also whether any steps were taken to ascertain if other prominent Australian pressmen were prepared to contribute articles at the same figure or less than the sum paid for the article to which reference has already been made?
– Why did they not give the War Cry a chance?
– I have had occasion two or three times before to remark upon the comments made across the chamber during the asking or answering of questions. I presume that no honorable member would ask a question without a sincere desire to obtain! the information he seeks. It is, therefore, most improper that his attempt to obtain information should be blocked or interrupted by comments. I must again ask that when questions are being put, and the answers to them are being given, there shall be such silence in the chamber as -will enable honorable members generally to have a knowledge of the nature of the question and of the answer to -it.
– I saw a letter from our officer in London, Captain Collins, describing the distribution! of the first 6,000 copies of the Lone Hand that arrived, and suppose the same course was adopted in dealing with the remaining 4,000 copies. Possibly a certain number of .copies were sent to the United States of America, where a very energetic British Consul in Chicago is good enough to act for us,. I think that .practically the whole issue was absorbed by reading-rooms and other public institutions of the kind in the United Kingdom. I made no inquiry as to the contribution! of articles by other literary persons. “An intimation was simply made- to me that there would be a circulation of 50,000 copies of the article which has been referred to, and, of course, we only paid for the copies we received.
– Does the honorable gentleman think it a fair thing-
– The honorable member can ask a question on the subject later.
– All the distribution occurred in my absence, but personally I am of opinion that it was one of the best bargains in the way of advertising that was ever made - one of the cheapest payments for. one of the largest returns.
– The Prime Minister in his answer to the question, put by the honorable member for Lang, said that a number of the copies of the Lone Hand arrived in London at a certain period, and that other copies arrived later.. Inasmuch as they did not all arrive together I should like to ask the honorable gentleman whether he had any guarantee that the whole of the 10,000 copies supplied to the Government were not supplied from the., unsold issue of the magazine?
– The only reason for any doubt I have as to the details is that the whole distribution was completed and carried out while I was going to and returning from England. As I have said, I remember a - particular letter about the 6,000 copies, and other letters relating to the remaining copies; and am perfectlycertain that every copy printed for us w asreceived, and every one distributed.
– May. I ask, on behalf of the Australian press and Australian writers, whether the Government are open t:> act with similar liberality, paying £10 a page, to other- leading newspapers in the Commonwealth ? I know the names of deserving literary men who would be quite prepared to do such work at the price.
– The ^10 a page, as I have more ‘ than .once mentioned, had nothing to do with us. We did not pay £10 a page, but we paid .£120 for, first of all, 10,000 copies of this illustrated article, published and printed separately and circulated by us, and, next, for the advantage of having the same article included .in the 50,000 copies of the magazine which, being copies of its first number, were circulated to practically the whole of the important press in the Englishspeaking world. . We also received for this payment the plates and diagrams for our own use afterwards in connexion with advertising Australia. For ^120, therefore, we obtained 60,000 copies of the article, together with the plates and diagrams ; and I am prepared to make as good a bargain with any one else who offers.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether this is the first time that a bargain of this character has been entered into by the Commonwealth - whether he was acting under precedent, and whether, if a number of articles were received under a previous arrangement made by a previous Government, he can inform honorable members of the name of- the leader of that Government? I should further like to know whether the number of articles received, and their value under anyprevious arrangement, . compare at all with the number and value of the articles now under review.
– Again I have to rely on my’ memory as to the fact that an arrangement was made by a previous Government, of which the right honorable member for East Sydney was Prime Minister, for the circulation of articles in the English press. I believe that those articles cost a great deal more than£120,
– The poor man worked for a year, circulated the articles, and paid the postage, for £200.
– I desire to ask the right honorable member for East Sydney, throughyou, Mr. Speaker, whether it is a fact that£400 was paid by the previous Government referred to, on his order as Prime Minister, for the writing of a number of articles, of which two only arrived at the Commonwealth offices,or at the rate of £200 each ?
– I have much pleasure in answering the question. The arrangement then made was of a different character from that now under review.
– Of course !
– May I answer the question ? The arrangement referred to by the honorable member for Laanecoorie included a whole year’s work by one of the leading English correspondents in Australia, who contributed articles to all the important newspapers of the world. Those articles were submitted to the Government before their despatch, and the Government paid the postage expenses for a period of twelve month’s, at the rate of one article a week. That was not at the rate of £10 per page, or £120 for twelve pages.
– In view of the example set by the right honorable member for East Sydney when Prime Minister, in handing over the preparation of these articles to a correspondent for foreign newspapers, while there are some of the ablest writers in the world on the Australian press, I desire to know whether the Prime Minister will now open such contributions to competition?
– The whole thing has always been open to competition.
– We heard precious little about this business !
– Honorable members were informed of the transaction, totalling the magnificent sum of £120, as soon as they displayed the slightest interest in it. Owing to the circulation of the article, I should imagine thatpractically every member was, or could easily have made himself, acquainted with the facts ; and I supposed that honorable members knew all about the matter. The articles were not hidden away, but circulated throughout the length and breadth of the United King dom; and English press notices referred to them again and again. Honorable members have only to refer to the English newspapers of that period, to refresh their memory. The Government have always been open to receive from any Australian journalists offers for advertising Australia which appear to be to the pecuniary advantage of the Commonwealth.
– In view of the fact that the Prime Minister is now inviting similar contributions from all sources in Australia, I desire to know whether he will make some arrangement in the future so that we may not have the undesirable practice of political writers for newspapers coming into touch first of all with the Prime Minister, whatever Government may be in power, or whoever the writer may be. I should like to know whether in the future there could be instituted some impartial authority to receive and judge applications of this kind?
– The question is, such a long one that I have almost forgotten to what the first part related. I remember now that the first part of it contained an imputation. If there are any copies of the particular article left, I shall take care that every honorable member is supplied with one, when it will be seen that there is no reference in it, direct or indirect, of any political character.
– I did not say there was.
– That was the implication.
– Not for a moment.
– The article is an absolutely fair statement of the productive possibilities of Australia, and nothing else. It has no party complexion whatever; and, consequently, there is no ground for suggesting that some impartial’ person is required to consider whether future articles are or are not in the interests’ . of the Commonwealth. No impartial person could resist the evidence of that article, or could deny that it was an excellent business bargain.
– The Prime Minister quite misunderstands me. I do not desire to take up any more time on this subject-
– Is the honorable member asking a question ?
– I shall ask a question at the conclusion of my explanation. The Prime Minister quite misunderstands me. What I refer to is the undesirable practice of political writers getting into personal touch with Ministers, when those writersare going to receive some personal benefit out of the transaction. I do not say that the practice is more than undesirable.
– The honorable member is making an un-Christian insinuation.
M.r. KELLY. - There is no insinuation ; I am merely asking whether that practice can be avoided in the future.
– There are few Australian writers of eminence who are -not political writers ; and those honorable members who know the comments continually made on myself, I shall not say by the writer of this article, because I cannot distinguish him from others, but by the publications with which he is associated, will realize that I had no personal interest to serve.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs what is the present position of the survey of the route of the proposed railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta. This is the ist of May, and we are now approaching the .best season of the year for carrying out the work. I desire to urge upon the Government the necessity of taking every step possible, to push on with the work during the cool season.
– For some little time negotiations had to take place to get the co-operation ‘ of both States Governments concerned. That has now been obtained.
– Is the work to be begun ?
– Almost at once. The negotiations are, I think, wholly completed, and I should say that the work will be begun immediately.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
With reference to questions asked up:n notice on 9th April, relating to immigration and payments made to Dr. Arthur, M.L.A., in connexion therewith, has his attention been directed to references to this subject in The Australian Star (Sydney) of the 23rd April, in which extracts from correspondence are given showing that Dr. Arthur was trying to promote an extensive immigration scheme of Russian Jews whom the correspondence indicates Canada will not receive, and which ‘a contributor describes as a scheme “ to turn this essentially British community into the dumping-ground of the scum and riff-raff of Europe, and to endanger the very existence of Australia as a nation?”
– - From a general acquaintance with the proposal referred “to, I may say that the scheme will be dependent on the obtaining of concessions of land from the States. ‘ So far as I am aware, except in the .case of South Australia, some considerable time ago, no one ever got so far as the making of anything like a (proposal to any State. In regard to the second question, it has been already pointed out that it is not intended after this year to make further grants to the Immigration Leagues.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as. follow - r and 2. If the goods are shipped at any port on board a vessel which clears at such port the law requires that the export entry must be made out for such port. Any other course would lead to inextricable confusion and to complication of statistics.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In prospect of the statement given out by President Roosevelt to an American interviewer that, on the expiration of his term of office, he intended journeying to Africa for the purpose of hunting big game, and also visiting New Zealand to study modern industrial economic methods, will the Prime Minister, on behalf of the Australian nation, extend an invitation to that great man to visit the Australian Continent and be the guest of the Commonwealth while here, assuring him that we can furnish a kangaroo hunt?
– I think no man would receive a warmer reception in Australia than Mr. Roosevelt, should he do us the favour of paying a visit here. But in reference to the suggestion for his entertainment, I trust that the honorable member will not mislead his distinguished countryman by suggesting to him that the kangaroo is dealt with in the fashion which I understand is observed by. the hunters of smaller game - by putting a pinch of salt on his tail.
Motion (by Mr. Kelly) proposed -
That a return be laid upon the table of the House showing -
The number of letter carriers in the Waverley postal district on the ist March, 1901.
The estimated population of the Waverley postal district on the ist March, 1901.
The number of letter carriers in the
Waverley postal district on the ist January, 1908.
The estimated population, on the ist
January, 190S, of the postal district of Waverley.
– Order ! It is .impossible for me to place any matter before the House- while conversations are taking place in every part of the chamber - conversations carried on in such loud tones that I, in this Chair, can frequently hear the whole of the remarks that are being made. .
Question resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee (Consideration of Senate’s requests resumed from 30th April, vide page 10,750):
Requested amendments in item 181 (Iron pipes) and in item 182 (Iron and steel tubes, &c.) made.
Item 186. Wire Netting, ad val. (General Tariff), 30 .per cent., and on and after nth October, 1907, 10 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), 25 per cent., and on and after nth October, 1907, 5 per cent.
Request. - Make the item free.
Motion (by Mr. Austin Chapman) proposed -
That the requested amendment be not made.
.- In this question of wire netting many honorable members representing agricultural and pastoral constituencies are particularly interested, as are other honorable members representing other interests throughout the Commonwealth. I hope that -the Minister will reconsider his determination to oppose the request. The arguments adduced in this chamber previously should have appealed to every honorable member who desires to see a fair thing done in the interests both of the manufacturers and of those who have to use the article. It was shown that a duty upon wire netting would impose immense disabilities upon settlers, throughout Australia, and would seriously handicap them in their laudable enterprise of opening up the interior - a work in which ‘ we hope that they will succeed. That work is of immense value not only to themselves personally, but to the Commonwealth as a whole. The Committee would do well to view the matter from that standpoint. We should consider the .advantages that will accrue to Australia as a whole from giving to settlers in the rural districts every facility to obtain the materials necessary for their enterprise at as low a rate as possible. That can be done in this case, as was shown previously-, without injuring in any way those engaged in the manufacture of wire netting in Australia. The netting is made chiefly from imported wire, and the industry is only a matter of twisting the wire together. That involves a very small amount of skilled labour. The amount of adult labour employed is infinitesimal, and the industry at best is only a boy industry.
– There are about 400 employed in the service of one firm, anyhow.
– Mostly boys. Mr. Wilks. - No.
– I quoted the figures to the Committee when the item was under consideration previously. Unless the Government is in possession of some information which will show that in the absence of a duty, the industry will suffer very much - and I think he will have some difficulty in showing that in connexion with an industry which, working at high pressure, cannot cope with more than a small proportion of the demand - I think that we ought to accede to the Senate’s request, especially as the cost of importation and other charges in themselves constitute a very high margin of protection. There is a natural protection afforded to the local manufacturers,- not only in the cost of importation, but also in the better price which they are able to command for their manufacture.
– How will they get a better price?
– They do.
Mr.Wilks.- Why ?
– Because the users like the locally-made article better than the imported article. The former rolls up, I understand, into a smaller space ; it is packed more conveniently for transport, and generally it is found more advantageous for the purpose for which it is used. Hitherto the trouble has been that the settlers have not been able to get a sufficient quantity, because the local manufacturers were not able to supply the demand. The reason why there has been such a large consumption of the imported wire netting has been simply because the local manufacturers, though working all their machines to their utmost capacity, have been unable to supply the requirements. The consequence has been that, even against their own inclination, many persons who use wire netting in large quantities have been obliged to secure the imported article in order to. avoid the delays which otherwise would have been enforced upon them. I hope that the Minister will not persist in his objection to the Senate’s request, and that even if he should it will be carried.
– I also ask the Government to agree to the request. As it stands now, this is purely a revenue-producing item.
– Previously the honorable member supported the imposition of duties of 10 and 5 per cent.
– After I had failed to get the item made free I did. In 1906 the users of wire netting were taxed to the amount of £40,000. To start with, it is a penalty to a producer to be obliged to use wire netting. It is equivalent to an additional rent of from 2d. to 3d. per acre.’ It often happens that large areas of unoccupied Government lands are breeding grounds for vermin, and so the unfortunate settler has to bear an additional burden. Wire netting is not necessary for the ordinary keeping of stock. It is used only because of the presence of vermin. Why should the producers be called upon to suffer an additional penalty ? In view of the difficulties with which’ the farmers have to contend, there is not a scintilla of justification for maintaining revenue duties of 10 and 5 per cent. In South Australia, there are hundreds of thousands of acres where it would be impossible to grow a crop without the use of wire netting. One might as well throw the seed wheat into the sea as attempt to sow it there, without this safeguard against the raids of vermin. By the use of verminproof fences - wire netting with a barbed wire on top - the whole of the western portion and a great deal of the northern portion of the State have been brought intoprofitable use. Previously, owing to the ravages of dogs, it was impossible to raise lambs. The partition of the Statechiefly the northern portion - into vermin districts, with dog-proof fences, has been of the greatest advantage to the settlers. Where at one time they could not get practically any lambs, under the new method they can get from 80 to 100 per cent. Wire netting is not used in centres of population. The duty is practically a class tax, because wire netting is only used by those who suffer from the inroads of vermin. I do not think that the Committee will agree to tax the producers on their wire netting to the extent of £40.000 a year. I do not know what the Minister’s attitude is.
– His attitude is hostile
– I think that the Minister ought to havegiven some reason for asking the Committee to disagree with the Senate’s request. I may mention that the duties of10 and 5 per cent. were only carried here as the result of a division of Opinion amongst honorable members. I regret that the honorable member for Riverina is not in his place to-day. It will be remembered that, in consequence of. the way in which the question had to be put, he was obliged to vote against a proposition which he wanted to Support.
– He wanted a higher duty.
– He did not.
– Hewithdrew a proposal in order that the amendment of the Minister might be put.
-What is the good of the honorable member making that statement when I find on the business-paper today the following motion in the name of the honorable member for Riverina? -
He wants the tax to fall upon the whole community.
– That is a much fairer thing to do.
– When the proposal of the Treasurer was first submitted to the Committee it represented a direct tax of £140,000 upon the most unfortunate class of our producers. In those areas where the vermin are not troublesome, the landholders are not subjected to this penalty, /because no man would incur the expenditure of wire-netting his holding unless he’ were obliged to do so. I should like to hear the reasons which have prompted the Government to insist upon the collection of a purely revenue duty, aggregating about £^40,000 per annum, from, a class of the community who receive no benefit whatever from the operation of a protective Tariff.
.- This is one of the commodities which we must regard from the point of view of our farmers and producers. I look at the question from, exactly the same, stand-point that I viewed rock drills yesterday.
– When the duty upon rock drills was previously before the Committee, the honorable member voted with the Government.
– I do not care .how I voted upon a previous occasion. I voted to obtain the lowest possible duty. Having ascertained what duty the majority of the House supported, .1 agreed to it rather than waste the time of the Committee in striving to obtain something which it was impossible to get. The Senate, having requested that wire netting should be placed’ upon the free list, there is an additional reason why we should support the adoption of that course. It is an unsound policy to tax commodities which affect the existence of thousands of men in the interests of those who can be numbered only by the hundred. It has been urged that the existing duty upon wire netting is a revenue tax. It is true that it produces a revenue of about .£30,000 annually.
– More than that. It yields about ^40^000 .
– Between .£30,000 and £40,000. The question now arises : ‘ Are we going to continue to tax our landholders during a season such as the present - when drought conditions are being experienced over many portions of ‘the continent - in their efforts to prevent the destruction wrought by the rabbits, with whose depredations the erection of wirenetted fences is particularly designed to cope?” Those who have had anything to do with the development of the interior know that as soon as food becomes scarce the rabbits not only destroy the natural herbage, but actually “burrow down and destroy its roots. To my own knowledge there are places not very far in the interior where, during the drought of 1902, the rabbits wrought such destruction that many years must elapse before the country can recover its stock-carrying capacity. This is the one item in the Tariff in respect of which consideration for the country districts will operate to the benefit of the workers in our cities. The only effective means of coping with the rabbit pest is bv the use of wire netting. Our friends in the Labour corner may exult in the reflection that in Victoria the manufacture of wire netting is being developed upon purely v socialistic lines. It is being produced in Pentridge.
– That is private enterprise.
– The wire netting manufactured at Pentridge is of such a quality that nobody can afford to purchase it. Its cost, I believe, is about £8 per mile in excess of that manufactured by private enterprise, which is of a quality quite good enough” to serve the purpose for which it is intended, to be used. I shall support’ placing the item upon the free list.
.- This is an item in respect of which we ought carefully to consider the request of the other Chamber. We know very well that the function of the Senate’ is to represent the States as a whole, and not particular portions of each State.
– That is a different story from the one which the honorable member told ‘regarding some other items.
– At the present moment _ I have nothing whatever to do with any item save that of wire netting. Itappears to me peculiarly fitting that another branch of the Legislature should take a wider view of this matter than did this Committee. I think that this particular item is one as to which we can safely comply with the wishes of another ‘place. Honorable members should consider that this duty will heavily penalize the small settlers - those men who are opening up this country and helping to build the grand Empire to which we belong. We should surely hesitate before doing anything to add to the burdens which they already have to bear. It has been represented that the large land-holder and the pastoralist are the’ persons who buy wire netting. But it must not be forgotten that the small holder also is compelled to use this commodity. His -interests are paramount. In order to prove that statement 1 wall quote some telling figures. In New South Wales, out of 72,000 holdings, 7,000 are under 5,000’ acres in extent. That fact goes to show that the majority of the holdings in that State are those of small settlers and not of large landowners.
– The majority in numbers, but the greatest area is not in small holdings.
– The honorable member can make his own calculation as to the area. If he is not satisfied with those figures, I may inform him that out of 72,000 holdings in New South Wales no less than 65,000 are under 1,000 acres in extent. All these holdings must be netted owing to the inroads of the rabbits. In Western Australia, a few years ago, a rabbit was never seen. To-day you cannot drive on the plains there without seeing quantities of rabbits and witnessing their ravages. In South Australia, out of 20,000 holdings 19,000 are under 5,000 acres in extent. It is, therefore, upon the small settler that the chief burden of this tax will fall.- I appeal to those honorable members who sit in the Ministerial corner, and who call themselves the rep’re- “ sentatives pf the workers, to consider the man who lives upon the land rather than the man who works in the city. What comparison is there between the interests of 400 workers, who it is said are affected bv this duty, and the thousands of people who live upon the lands of Australia, and who must use wire netting? So unenterprising is the firm in Sydney, which undertakes the manufacture of this article, that it is unable to import the machinery to run its. business in such a way as to supply more than half the quantity of wire netting required in Australia. It can supply 500,000 tons per annum, which, as I have said, is only half the quantity used in this country. I remind the members of the Labour Party that they especially appeal to the very class of people whom they are now endeavouring to tax. Is it not a fact that they make their appeal to the small land-holder as against the squatter? Do they not constantly say that if they were enabled to impose a progressive land tax, small holders would escape scot free? Yet they do not hesitate to vote in favour of a tax’ which will heavily oppress the small holder upon whom they rely.
– Wire netting, is £7 per ton cheaper to-day than it was when this tax was first imposed.
– Because the price of wire has decreased. ‘ That is due to fluctuations in the markets of the world, and not to the imposition of a duty by this Parliament: Honorable’ members who profess to look after the interests of the small settler, ought to be consistent, and support the reasonable request of the Senate that this article be admitted entirely free.
.- I must take exception to some remarks of the honorable member for Hunter, who has condemned wholesale the members of what he rightly designated as the Labour Party. There are members of that party who have voted more consistently in the direction of free-trade than even the honorable member himself has done. I point to the honorable member for West Sydney, for instance. Can honorable members opposite challenge any of his votes?
– That is just what we can do.
– The honorable member for Echuca has spoken about our socialistic principles. Does- he forget that the Premier of Victoria, who is anything but a Socialist, has established the wirenetting industry in the gaol at Pentridge? If Mr. Bent could see any opportunity of condemning socialistic principles he would be the first to do so ; and yet he is the man who has taken steps to have this article manufactured by the cheapestlabour obtainable, and in a State institution.; for Heaven knows there is no cheaper labour’ in the world than prison labour. I wish to say a word as to my own attitude on this question. I spoke upon wire netting when the matter was last before the . Committee, and indicated that I- intended to vote for the highest duty that the Government asked for. I was consistent in so- doing, because I believed, and still believe, that the duty proposed would be protective, and that the industry is one that might very advantageously be established in the Commonwealth. I went away from Parliament House on that occasion under the impression that the Treasurer - from a statement which he made to me - was going to make a determined stand in’ defence of the Government proposal, and would fight vigorously for the imposition of the full duties proposed. To my astonishment and disgust, I learned next morning that the honorable member had consented to the duties being reduced to 10 per cent. and 5 per cent. I was no party to that reduction, and would be no party to it. When I arrived at the House next day, I taxed the Minister with having thrown over those who supported the protectionist policy of the Government, and told him that if the opportunity offered I should rather vote for the item to be placed on the free list than for the retention of these duties of 10 per cent. and 5 per cent. I intend to vote to-day for the Senate’s request, believing that the item should be free, rather than that it should be subject to mere revenue duties.
– I hope that the Minister will recognise the advisableness of accepting the Senate’s request. The honorable member for Hunter has referred to the number of small holdings in his electorate which must be enclosed with wire netting, and there are thousands of farms in Victoria in the same position. Many millions of tons of wire netting will be necessary to enclose agricultural and pastoral holdings, . and having regard to the enormous demand and the enlarged market now open to them, the manufacturers of wire netting in New South Wales, who commenced operations under a free-trade Tariff, should be able without difficulty to carry on operations. If wire netting were a light material, that could be brought out in tanks,” just as many goods are imported, the position would be different ; but the cost of its carriage from other countries is in itself equal to a protective duty. I know that the removal of the duties from this item will involve an annual loss of£30,000, but we must remember that but for the men on the land we should have no Melbourne or’ Sydney. When at Seymour the other day, I was informed by the licensee of the railway refreshment rooms that he could not obtain sufficient milk to supply the needs of passengers. What is the cause?
– Want of rain.
– We should not have felt the drought so severely but for the hordes of rabbits that have been allowed to overrun the land. I have no desire to prolong the discussion. There can be no question as to the desirableness of placing wire netting on the free list. Whilst I am in favour of reasonable protection, I agree with the honorable member who said the other day that “there is protection and protection,” and that we should not place a duty on this item. I have made a personal appeal to the Minister, and I recognise that, having regard to the loss of revenue which the removal of. these duties will involve, he is in a delicate position, more especially in view of the information which the honorable member for Flinders has given us as to the heavy drain upon our finances.
– If we give up all revenue duties, we must look somewhere else for our revenue.
– I am willing to run the risk of a progressive land tax, such as our friends of the Labour Party want; but I do not think that a lossof £30,000 per annum will make or break the Commonwealth. It is the duty of the national Parliament to show its appreciation of the labour and enterprise of the people engaged in working the soil, not only in the neighbourhood of cities and towns, but in the far interior of this country, by agreeing to this request.
.- Honorable members will agree with me that there must have been some reason far the absence of any protest on the part of manufacturers in this State against the action of the Premier of Victoria in starting wire-netting works in the Pentridge Stockade. We have not far to look for it. It seems to me that business people, as intelligent men anxious to invest their capital to advantage, have recognised that the demand for wire netting is not likely to be continuous, and that the industry, therefore, is not one in which they would care to embark. I am satisfied that had some more enduring industry been established in the Stockade by Mr. Bent, there would have been a wild outcry against his interference with private enterprise. If the wire-netting industry were worth building up - if it had a future before it - the imposition of a protective duty to encourage it would be in keeping with the policy of the Government. The duties now imposed on wire netting, however, are not protective, but merely revenue producing, and it is remarkable that a protectionist Government should be prepared to support them. The argument advanced by the honorable member for Grey is unanswerable. The cutting up of large estates in good agricultural country, and the gradual bringing about of closer settlement, will reduce the necessity to use, and, consequently, the demand for, wire netting. But, nevertheless, there is a very large area which must be enclosed by netting to keep out rabbits and wild dogs. Our aim should be to rive those who hold land in such areas an opportunity to procure wire netting as cheaply as possible. This industry . should be separated from others that we desire to build up in Australia, since it is not likely to be enduring. The demand for ‘ wire netting is likely to decrease as our agricultural areas are more closely settled. From the point of view of the protectionist, these duties are absurd.. They will afford no protection to the industry, and I think that .the Minister should be prepared to accept the request. I am on principle opposed to revenue duties, and do not wish to. vote for rates Raving no protective incidence. What we should aim at is to help those on the land who are so heavily handicapped, by enabling them to get wire netting as cheaply as possible. A large part of the district which I represent is subject to frequent droughts, while a great deal of it contains fine agricultural land, where much farming is clone. But on the borders of the drier country the farmers have to wire-net their holdings to preserve their crops from the rabbits. We should do what we can for every industry, and extend such help as we can proffer to those in need of assistance. No absolutely effective means of combating the rabbit pest has yet been discovered, and we ought to recognise the difficulties of those who are fighting this scourge, by taking off the proposed miserable duties and making wire netting free.
.- The speeches which we have heard so far on this item have been’ monotonous, every speaker advocating the removal of the duties on wire netting. No one could refer to the remarks made during the Tariff discussion as oratorical outbursts ; there is simply so much yabber as to the effect of each .item on the interests concerned, and I may as well take part in this debate as sit quietly and hear others express their views. But before going further, I should like to know if the Government intend to press the motion that the Senate’s requested amendment be not made. I do not wish to support the motion, and see it dropped later on. I do not believe that the wire-netting industry, though a pet one with the Treasurer, is similarly regarded by the Minister of Trade and Customs, and I am shrewd enough to suspect some change of front, seeing that the Treasurer is not here now to take charge of the Tariff. The making of wire netting is not a Victorian industry.
– Wire netting is made in Pentridge Gaol.
– Yes; but the industry is a New South Wales one, and therefore we do not hear any cry about the need for protecting it. It does not, like the wire-nail industry of Victoria - a cognate industry - employ about six men and a couple of boys; it gives work to about 400. But the firm chiefly concerned has never asked me to advocate its claims to protection, and, indeed, the absence of lobbying in the interests of the engineering trade of Australia reflects the greatest credit on those associated with them.
– They have not been well treated.
Mr.- WILKS.- They have not. A great deal has been said about the effect .of the duties on wire netting on small pastoralists f.nd farmers. But the same arguments could have been used with equal force against the duties on wire nails, and similar protective imposts. My attitude . in regard to the item is. due ‘ largely to the votes which have been given on similar items. Some of the men employed, in making wire netting in New South Wales may live in my electorate ; but the industry is in another electorate, and those connected with it have not approached me for assistance. It is in a healthy and robust condition, paying from £12,000 to £14,000 a year in wages;, and, if it were situated on’ the banks of the Yarra, the Age would not have sufficient room in its columns to publish all that would be’ said in favour of protecting it. As there .has been so much yelling for the (protection of industries situated on the Yarra, why should not one yell for an industry situated on the banks of the Parramatta? I supported the Treasurer’s original -proposal to place duties of 30 and 25 per cent, on wire netting, although preferring rates of 15 and 10 per cent., as giving sufficient protection. I, however, voted against rates of 10 and 5 per cent., as being merely revenue duties. I thought it better to make the item ‘ free than to impose such low rates. Now, however, the Minister asks us to vote for 10 and 5 per cent. If I get an assurance that those rates will protect the industry, I shall vote for them ; but’ if they will not protect the industry there will be no- good reason for imposing them. Apparently Ministers are not serious in proposing to reject the Senate’s request.
– Yes, we are. Mr. WILKS.- Will the motion be pressed to a division?
– Yes. Mr. WILKS.- Will rates of 10 and 5 per cent, assist the industry ?
– Yes ; though, of course,, not so much as higher rates would assist it.
– I have my doubts about it ; but I throw the responsibility on the Minister and the protectionists, and will vote for the proposed duties. The statement that users of wire netting are willing to pay more for the Australian-made article shows that the industry is likely to be a permanent one. Of course, .1 appreciate the plea on behalf of the small pastoralists and farmers ; but, if wire netting is made free, not only they, but also the big pas- teralists and big associations with, paid-up capitals amounting to nearly ,£2,000,000 will benefit. The honorable member for Maranoa said the other night that he would give to one “ bloke “ what he would give to another, and as he has voted to tax the community generally to protect industries on the banks of the Yarra, I ask him to vote for the proposed duties for the protection of an industry on the banks of the Parramatta. If I go on like this, I shall soon be able to make as good a protectionist address -as some of the life-long protectionists.
– The honorable member is learning the shibboleths.
– I am learning how to put up the umbrella. There has been a fiscal corrobboree, and I do not see why I should not be in it as much as those who are in it, but who will not .admit the fact. Besides, under the new protection the workers .will get fair wages, and I am very desirous of bringing that about. The Government having declared the proposed duties to be protective, I shall vote for them in the interests of the wire weavers of New South Wales. I am sorry, however, that the firm for which we are voting duties of 10 and 5 per cent, is a big importer of black wire. An industry which asks for assistance should support other Australian industries.
– I did not expect to hear in any Parliament in Australia a voice raised in favour of a duty on. wire netting. All who are interested in land in Australia must know that there are millions of acres which could not be occupied if they were not fenced with wire netting. That is especially the case in districts like those of the honorable member for Grey. In South Australia wire netting is regarded as so necessary for the occupation of land that, the Government is buying iti and distributing it among those who cannot afford .to get it themselves, and giving long terms for repayments. In times of drought the rabbit pest is felt more than at others, because then the rabbits are driven oft the unoccupied country, and destroy everything in the way of edible plants. Par- ‘ liament should do everything possible to check their ravages. Instead of imposing a duty on wire netting, it would be better to give a bounty on its production, to induce more persons to manufacture it. There are hundreds of people who would use wire netting, and are unable to do so because they cannot afford to purchase it. We have been told that this is a revenue, duty, but I might remind honorable members that if it were not for the erection of wire-netting fences there are millions of acres in Australia which to-day would be producing no revenue at all. I trust that the amendment requested by the ‘ Senate will be made.
.—-I am at a loss to understand the attitude taken- up by the honorable member for Dalley in this matter. No one has pleaded more loudly or at greater length for the primary industries. We know the “stonewalls” which the honorable member assisted to erect, in the interests of the primary industries, when we were considering the first Federal Tariff. I agree entirely with what, has been said by the honorable member for Barker. I would not only give a bonus for the manufacture of wire netting, but I would give the ; settler the wire netting free. The Queensland Government offer £50,000 to any man who can discover an effective means . for the eradication of the rabbit pest. Time after ‘ time it has been proved that the most effective way of dealing with the pest so’ far known is the subdivision of large areas into small paddocks by effective rabbit-proof fencing. I appeal to the Minister of Trade and Customs, as a country representative, to make a name for. himself in the country by climbing down and adopting the Senate’s suggestion. The Senate has, in this matter, exhibited more wisdom than Ave did.
– We tried to make wire netting free.
– I mean collectively. .The Senate decided that. the right thing to do was to remove the duty. I hope that the Minister will take the same view. I can tell him that the numbers are up, and that we are going to make wire netting free of duty, whether he likes it or not. He has, therefore, one more chance to make a namefor himself, by saying that the Government are prepared to accept the Senate’s suggestion. Perhaps the Treasurer has said that the. Minister of Trade and Customs must not accept the requested amendment, unless over his political dead body I have no doubt that if the honorable gentleman has received such instructions he will carry them out to the letter. Vo one knows better than the honorable gentleman the expense which small settlers have to bear in protecting their holdings from destruction by rabbits and marsupials. ‘ I understand that the most prolific constituents of Eden-Monaro are the rabbits, but surely the- Minister of Trade and Customs would prefer to represent human beings. I look upon every head of stock in Australia as a national asset, and I regard the pastoral industry as a national industry, which every member of this Parliament should be prepared to protect in- every way. I ‘am quite at a loss to understand why any tax should be imposed on wire netting.
– Because there is a little factory somewhere.
– Apparently the Government are willing to sacrifice the interests ot one of our chief national industries because a small factory has been established for the manufacture of this particular article.
– They say that wire netting will be cheaper if a duty is imposed.
– We know from experience that the result will be otherwise. I do not propose to flog a dead horse, and I again tell the Minister that as the numbers are up and we have got him beaten, he might as well climb down gracefully, especially as he can make a name for himself by doing so. I am sure that his constituents would be very pleased to be able to obtain wire netting more cheaply than they can do now. F know that in his heart nf hearts the honorable gentleman is with those who think that wire netting should be free of duty. I believe that the Treasurer has given him instructions not to climb down at any cost, but I know his force o’f character, and I trust he will exercise it on this occasion.
– The honorable member wishes me to say, “ Don’t shoot; I’ll come down.”
– That is all I wish the Minister to say, and, if he will say it, I shall sit down at once. I am satisfied that we are going to win, and I need say no more.
– We have heard a good deal in this Chamber about standing to a compromise, when in many cases only an alleged compromise was referred to. The vote previously given in this Chamber on this item was undoubtedly a compromise.
– There were three divisions on it.
– The honorable member for Wentworth was not here at the time, and, of course, knows all about the subject.
– I have been looking up Hansard, and I find that there were no less than three divisions to arrive at the compromise, to which the honorable member refers.
– - I rise to a point of order. The honorable member for. Gippsland is accusing honorable members of a desire to reverse a vote which they gave on a- previous occasion, and of departing from a compromise. I wish to put myself right in the matter. I voted all through that wire netting should be free of duty.
– So did other honorable members.
– Those who were absent when the matter was previously considered know nothing at all about, the subject, though they may profess to know a great deal. In the first instance, the Treasurer intimated that he was prepared to agree to a reduction of the duties at first submitted in the Tariff, and to accept duties of 15 and 10 per cent. In accordance with that intimation the honorable member for River- inn - notwithstanding what the honorable member for Grey has said - moved that the duties should be 15 and 10 per cent. There was a very warm discussion on the subject, which lasted until late at night, when a compromise was arrived at, and the Government agreed to accept duties of 10 per cent, and 5 per cent.
– Is this a placard?
– I have nothing to do with that. It the honorable member for Greywill take a little. time to look up Hansard, he will find that what I am stating is correct.
– I know all about it. The Government threw over the honorable member for Riverina, and left him in. the lurch.
– Only a few minutes, ago, the honorable member for Grey denied that the honorable member for Riverina moved for duties of 15 and 10 per cent., and now he says that the Government threw the honorable member over. Some honorable members have stated to-day,, and the honorable member for Echuca for one, that they voted for duties of 10 and 5 per cent., because they could get nothing lower. The honorable member for Echuca, on the occasion to which I refer, voted in the negative in two divisions on motions proposing a 5 per cent. duty. The honorable member never tried to get a 5 per cent, duty on any occasion. The first duty he voted for was 10 per cent., so that the honorable member did not vote for to per cent, because he could not secure a lower duty. The honorable member for Indi voted for the 5 per cent, throughout, and accepted 10 per cent, because that was the lowest duty he could secure. T was one of those who were not satisfied with the compromise agreed to on that occasion, but I accepted it, and voted for it as a, compromise. I do not intend to add to the mass of inconsistency which has been exhibited in this Chamber already in connexion with votes on the Tariff, and I therefore intend to adhere to the compromise T supported on the occasion to which I have referred.
-IS]- - I* seems to me that in this matter we are being left to decide as between a primary and secondary industry, which shall receive the benefit of the course we adopt. It is contended by one honorable member, who sits on this side, and votes with honorable members on the other side, that the retention of the duties will mean an advantage of an extra 5 or 10 per cent, to manufacturers of wire netting, whose employes live in his electorate. On the other hand, the Minister says that to accept the requested amendment of the Senate would involve a loss of revenue. It should not be forgotten that we are dealing in this matter with a staple industry, the success of which means everything to Australia. All our industries depend upon the land, and we know that rabbits can only be kept under by the use of wire netting. In some parts of the State of New South Wales settlers, who some time ago were impoverished by losses of stock, due to the fact that their pastures were denuded by successive years of drought, are to.-day experiencing the benefit of a good season. They now have plenty of grass on their pastures, and though they know that while rabbits can obtain young grass they will not take poison baits they have very little money wherewith to erect wire-netting fencing to keep them out of their pastures. The Minister contends that a certain amount of revenue will be derived from these duties, and admits that their imposition means that settlers will have to pay an increased price for the wire netting they require. Are we going to tax people who have so little, and who have lost so much, now that they have an opportunity of conserving grass by erecting wire-netting fences? The honorable member for- Gippsland regards these duties as protective duties, and proposes to vote against the amendment requested by the Senate, in order that the secondary industry for the manufacture of wire netting may be kept going. The honorable member’s contention is that that will lead to a reduction in the price of wire netting, but the Minister has told us that a revenue of £20,000, and in some quarters it has been said that a revenue of .£40,000, is at stake in this matter. We should bring commonsense to bear upon our consideration of the question, and I should like to remind Victorian representatives that at the present time stock are starving in Victoria, and that thousands of Victorian stock are being sent to other States where grass is to be found. Victorian pastoralists are at present going through a very severe experience, and yet Victorian representatives are supporting the imposition of a duty on wire netting, which must lead to a higher price being charged for the grass which they require for their stock than would be charged if wire netting were admitted free of duty. Victorian representatives are so wedded to high protective duties that they are prepared to impose them even if, in doing so, they should penalize the’ man on the land, and all that makes for the progress and wealth of the State. This is a matter which should come home to every Victorian representative, because Victorian settlers on the land are feeling the pinch more at the present time than are the settlers in any other State. If wire netting is made more costly, those who require to put. their cattle out to grass on other people’s land in more favoured districts will have to pay more for the privilege; and I hope a common-sense view will prevail, and that this necessary’ will be placed within the reach of men of small means. Those of large means were able to get their wire netting in the past at a much cheaper rate, but now” a higher price is demanded from the small settler, who is not able to afford it. This is truly a national question ; and I appeal to the Minister of Trade and Customs, as a reasonable being, to have regard for the staple industries of Australia, and, particularly, to the interests of the small settlers.
– The original proposal of the Government was a duty of 30 per cent, under the general Tariff, and 25 . per cent, on wire netting from the United Kingdom, and after a lengthy debate it was decided to impose duties of 5 and to per cent. The Senate considered the’ item from- all its various points of view, and in the interests of the industries affected, requested that the com- modity should be placed on the free list. When the first Tariff was under consideration there was a proposal to impose a duty on wire .netting, but the Senate, on ‘ that occasion, also decided to place it on the free list; and I trust that the request of the Senate now before us will be adopted. When the item was under consideration in October last, I dealt with it fairly exhaustively, and I do- not propose to cover the ground to-day : but I emphasize the fact that at that time the selling price of imported wire netting in New South Wales was from £40 to £45 per mile, and the best quality of locally-made netting of standard measurement was £45 per -mile. So serious had the position then become, due to the high prices and the increasing need on the part of small holders to protect, not only their grass area, but their cultivated areas, that the State Government of New South Wales decided to come to their assistance, and entered into large contracts, so as toplace wire netting at their disposal at a cheaper rate. The local manufacturing; firm of Lysaght Brothers had the option of tendering, and their first tender for 4,000 miles’ of netting, 42 inches by ifcinch, was at the rate of £31 per mile, while the accepted tender from abroad, for the same class of netting, was at the rate of £26 per mile, landed in Sydney. Thiswire netting was retailed at £26 5s., showing a difference of £4 1:5s., as compared with the price of the local article.
– That was before the duty was imposed.
– Yes. Since then., with a fall in the price of metals, the price of . locally-made wire netting has been reduced, though it still stands at over £30, whereas I am informed’, that the last tender from abroad, for the same class of netting was £22 per mile. Here we have’ a difference of something like £9 ‘per mile. In 1906 about £500,000 worth of wire netting was imported, and the local production is estimated at about the same value, showing a consumption! of about £1,000,000 worth. Arid the consumption . is increasing, for the reason that rabbits are gradually spreading over the agricultural areas, and rendering precautions increasingly imperative. Assuming, that the present consumption of imported wire netting is represented bv £500,000 worth - and the greater portion of it is from Germany, America., and France; - and that the local production is another £500.000 worth, we .see” that a- duty of 10 per cent, means that the farmers and graziers will be taxed to the extent of £100.000. The honorable member for Dalley was elected as a free-trader, and is politically known in New South Wales as the champion of champions of the free-trade cause; but he has decided, in the interests of the manufacturers within his electorate, to cast a vote in favour of the duties. From the statement of the manager of Lysaght Brothers I find that the highest pay-sheet for one week is £700, and, assuming the wages to be at the standard rate, we find that trie cost, in this connexion, of conducting the wire-netting industry is about £36,000 per annum, or £64.000 short of the revenue from the duties. There are only from 300 to 400 hands employed ; and, under the circumstances, the farmers and settlers would find themselves about £60,0000 in pocket «if they were to pay the wages of those at present employed, and have wire netting duty free. Throughout the settled districts of New South Wales the .rabbit pest is an increasing menace to the very existence of ‘ agricultural industries. In New South Wales there are about 74,000 separate holdings, 69,000 of which are of 1,000 acres and .under, representing a total of about 11,000,000 acres; there are 5.500 holdings under 3.0,000 acres, totalling 13,000,000 acres, and there are 722 holdings, totalling 22,000,000 acres. When the Tariff- of 1902 was under consideration, wire netting was placed oni the free list, in furtherance of the large pastoral interests; but to-day the rabbit wave has reached the agricultural areas! and the small holders are affected. No protectionists will claim that the proposed duties can have any protective effect. Protective duties range from 25 per cent, to 50 per cent., and even to 3 50 per cent. ; and I ask’ whether it is reasonable to burden the farming and grazing industries with a purely revenue duty ? I trust the Committee will accept the recommendation of the Senate. The number of free-traders is very small compared with the - total membership of that Chamber ; and yet it . was considered only just and fair that wire netting should be placed on the free list. I. trust that the Committee will decide to bring the Tariff, so far as regards this item, into line’ with the previous one. In that case, the question was purely a grazing or squatters’ question. I hope that under this Tariff the farmers, settlers, and small land-holders generally will receive the same treatment as was given then to the larger land-holders.
.- To listen to honorable members opposite, one would think there was no wire netting being made in Australia, because people who prefer to use imported wire netting are charged a duty on it. Wire netting is being made in New South Wales, at an establishment where some 400 men are employed. Last year they turned out about £500,000 worth, and if they are given sufficient protection they can produce the whole of the wire netting required in Australia. In 1902 we imported of wire netting £[130,000 worth ; in 1903, £[95,000 worth; in 1904, £[129,000 worth; in, 9°5> ,£335<000 wor.th *> in 1906, £[521,000’ worth; and in 1907, £[581,000 worth. . That shows how the imports are increasing. The leader of the Opposition, at the beginning of the consideration of the Tariff, expressed the hope that the industries of New South Wales would receive some protection. This is a New South Wales industry asking for protection.
– Is 5 per cent, protection ?
– It is not protection in the true sense of the word, but it is all that we can get. . We endeavoured to give 20 or 30 per cent. The protection being asked for in connexion with this industry in Great Britain against German competition is 7! per cent. Why should not the workmen of New South Wales get some protection ? Why should they not receive the same protection as the hat-makers of Victoria have been given? Over 250 of the wire-workers of New South Wales presented to this House a petition asking for protection for their industry, yet New South Wales members who were sent here to represent the working classes say, “ We shall not give them protection at all. We shall allow the imported article to come iri free.” I hope the Committee will not decide to make the item free, because it has been proved times out of number that if we have local competition the struggling farmers, about whom . the honorable member for- Maranoa spoke, will get their wire netting cheaper.
– Would the honorable member like’ to see those holdings in Queensland devastated by rabbits?
– I should not, but the farmers can use Australian-made wire netting.
– They cannot get it.
– They can get as much as they want of it, but some people prefer the imported article. If they do, let them pay the duty. If we were not making wire netting in Australia, it would be a different thing..’ The honorable member for Calare stated that duties of 10 and 5 per cent, were not protective in the true sense of the word. If the honorable member is voting against those duties because they are not protective, would he vote for a duty of 20 per cent, if it was proposed as a protective duty?
– A” number of honorable members on the honorable member’s side say that they will not support revenue duties, but will vote only for protective duties. It was to those honorable members that I appealed.
– I appeal to those who are in favour of a protective Tariff to give this industry some small amount of protection, at any rate. What is offered is not effective protection, but it is the best we can get in the circumstances, and we must make the best of a bad job.
– If it is not effective, it must mean taxation on the people who buy the wire netting.
– It may mean taxation on those who buy the imported article, but the man who buys Australian netting will pay no taxation.
– He has to pay an increased price.
– By buying the local’ article he does not pay an increased price.
– It was£45 per mile in my State, and we could not get an order executed. The State Government by importing netting reduced the price to £26 a mile.
– The local competition has reduced the price.If the importers gain control of the market they will flood the Commonwealth with foreign netting, form a ring; and put the prices up again. That has been proved in the past. Do honorable members who are against the duty wish the industry to be blotted out altogether, because that is what they will do if they make the item free?
– Stone-walling again?
– I am not stone-walling, but am putting in a plea for a New South Wales industry. The right honorable member himself expressed the hope that the industries of New South Wales would be considered.
– The honorable member is quite right, but I am thinking of the starving settlers. That is my industry just now.
– I am thinking of a New South Wales industry which is employing only 400 men when it could employ close on 2,000.
– Does the honorable member think of the sweated employe’s in this industry?
– If there are sweated industries in New’ South’ Wales, the honorable member should look after them.
– When the high prices that I mentioned were ruling, the men went on strike, and some of them went to the cane-fields in preference to continuing in the factory under the conditions that obtained.
– Thatis another reason why the Committee should agree to a duty. The honorable member is in favour of the new protection, and, by that means, if a duty is imposed, the industry will be controlled and the men will get proper wages.
– Will the new protection be extended to those engaged in the Victorian wire-netting industry ?
– I am speaking at present about the industry established in New SouthWales. Honorable members are going to vote to blot that industry out altogether.
– The honorable member does not mind blotting out. the poor settler.
– The poor settler will get his netting cheaper with local competition. Are the men in this industry in New South Wales sweated half as much as are those engaged in making wire netting in other parts of the world ?
– Would the honorable member say that those engaged in the industry in Victoria are sweated?
– I know nothing about the Victorian industry, but I know that the New South Wales workers are asking for protection. Honorable members opposite have charged Victorians with voting only for Victorian industries, but now that we are putting in a. plea for the workers in this struggling New South Wales industry the New South Wales members are ready to desert us and vote to blot the industry out altogether.
– It flourished when there was not a penny of duty on wire netting.
– It flourished in those days to such an extent that the men employed in it stated that they were sent into the country to unload wire netting imported from other parts of the world !
– Let us have a vote.
– I want to put the true facts of the case before the Committee on behalf of the workers in a New South Wales industry. They sent a petition to this House.
– The honorable member has told us that about twenty times.
– I repeat it, because I understand that the honorable member has hardly decided whathe intends to do. So far as I am able to gather, he is inclined toslip on wire netting. I want to put in a block in order to keep him up if I can ; I do not know whether I shall succeed or not. This petition was presented by the workers, and not a word has yet been said by a representative of New South Wales on their behalf .
– That is not so. The honorable gentleman forgets the honorable member for Dalley.
M.r. COON. - Yes, the honorable member for Dalley did stand up here for the workers. No less than 250 men have petitioned for the imposition of a duty. Why will not representatives of New South Wales protect the industries in their own State?
– We look upon the settlers as constituting an industry.
– I am studying the interests of the farmers, too, when I want to give them cheaper wire netting. The honorable member knows that with local competition the price of the article is reduced.
– I believe in competition with the whole world.
– No; the honorable gentleman believes in restrictions being placed upon the labour of the men who work. If he is not in a position to impose those restrictions, how can he say that he is in favour of the new protection? If he is not in a position to control an industry, how can he put down sweating? I am sure that he is not in favour of sweating. He “would, not like- to see the wire-netting workers of New South Wales sweated in the same way as are such: workers in other parts of. the world. He would not like to see the workers of New South Wales, working twelve hours a day on seven days for about a £1. He hr s no sympathy with that kind of treatment. On the contrary, he is in favour of the factory worker getting a standard rate of wages, and also the new protection. If this duty oh wire netting be imposed, he will have an opportunity of seeing that the workers of New South Wales get a share of the protection.
– How can they compete with the workers of Victoria?
– At the present time the honorable member is very much concerned about the wire-netting workers .of Victoria. I am pleased to see that at last he is taking a lively interest in the workers of Victoria, and I hope that later on he will give a vote in the direction of .establishing the wire-netting industry on a firm basis in Victoria, as well as in New South Wales.
– It is on a firm basis in Pentridge.
– What we want to do is to put the industry on a firm basis in New South Wales, so that the workers mav he able to obtain an adequate wage. No honorable member sitting in the corner - I will go so far as to say that no honorable member sitting, on the front Opposition bench at the present time - is in favour of sweating. Times out of number we have heard that these honorable gentlemen are in favour of the new protection ; that is, of controlling legislation. Has it been shown in this debate that the wire netting produced in New South Wales is not equal to the imported article? That has not yet been shown.
– I do not say that it is not equal to the imported article.
– Honorable ‘ members on the other side admit that the locally-made, article is equal to the imported article. If that is so, why. do they object to the imposition of a duty ? We have been told that if the duty had been in force last year it would have yielded a revenue of £30,000. The duty will only be paid by the man who will not buy the locally-made article. If a man prefers to patronize the sweated labour of other countries, let him pay an extra price for his .wire netting. But do not let us have this foreign competition inside the country, where we can regulate the wages and working conditions. If the duty be imposed it will be the means of increasing employment^ but if it be not imposed it will be the means of blotting out the industry. Are honorable members prepared to take the responsibility of voting in the latter direction ? Are the representatives of New South Wales who are now in the Chamber prepared to tell the wire netting workers of that State that they intend to blot out the industry by withholding any protection? Some of them have seen fit to vote for a protection of 10 or 15 per cent, to other industries, and why should they not consider the interests of the wire workers? I repeat most emphatically that this industry should be protected. I, as a Victorian, intend to vote in that direction. I am not one of those .who believe in protecting an industry because it is located in one part of the Commonwealth. I am in favour of a policy of national protection. I am in favour of all portions of the Commonwealth’ receiving equal protection. But I am at a loss to understand why the wire netting industry should be compelled to close down, when other industries are protected.
– Why are they, compelled to compete against sweated labour?
– The honorable member is against sweated labour.
– Gaol labour. The Victorian sympathy is indicated by the fact that they have established an industry in Pentridge to compete against the industry in New South Wales.
– I am not responsible for thu establishment of the- wire netting industry in Pentridge.
– Why does not the honorable member get it abolished?’
– If I had the power, I would.
– The honorable member has the power. He has the Age behind him, and what more does he want?
Sitting suspended from i to 2.1 5 p.m.
– I had not the privilege of hearing the arguments put forward this morning in regard to this item, but it is my intention to adhere to the vote which I cast upon a former occasion. I contend that the imposition of a duty upon wire netting will not have the effect of increasing the cost of that article to the consumers, and that its manufacture ought to be an industry established in our midst.
– The imposition of a duty will increase its cost.
– I do not think so. At any rate, ‘it has not had that effect up to the present time. I know that in. New South Wales a factory has been established for the manufacture of wire netting, and that its operations act as a very wholesome check upon importers. I think that duties of 10 per cent, under the general Tariff, and s per cent, under the United Kingdom Tariff are very legitimate charges to levy upon this article. Substantially they represent a duty of only 5 per cent., inasmuch as the quantity, of wire netting imported from Germany is relatively very small. I therefore intend to adhere to the vote which I cast when this item was previously under consideration.
– The statement that the duty upon this article has had the effect of increasing its price is absolutely incorrect. As a. matter of fact, since the duty has been operative the price’ of wire netting has been continuously reduced. I have just sent for a letter which L received from Messrs. Lysaght Brothers a few days ago, in which I am informed that during this week they have still further reduced the price of their netting.
– They had a big margin upon which to reduce.
– At the present time the price charged for their wire netting is less than that of the imported article. The communication to which I have referred states that they have still further reduced their price for wire netting, either by £1 or £1 10s. per ton.
– They .would not ‘ take up the contract with the New South Wales Government in competition with outsiders.
– That is not so. As a matter of fact, they tendered for it.
– At about £4 per ton in excess of the price asked for imported wire.
– I have seen the tenders, and that statement is not correct.
– What was the difference between the tenders?
– About £2 per ton. I mays further tell the honorable member that within the past month I have seen a property which was originally enclosed with imported wire netting. That . netting was so unsatisfactory that the landowner had to purchase a fresh supply from Messrs. Lysaght Brothers for the purpose of duplicating his fencing.
– That is a really good argument against the imposition of a duty.
– Nothing of the kind. Messrs. Lysaght Brothers have a large quantity of wire netting on hand at the present moment. I was informed a few days ago that they have 1,000 tons on hand.
– The Minister of Trade and Customs stated that they had 2,000 tons on hand.
– It may be 2,000 tons, but I was under the impression that it was 1,000 tons. At the present moment this firm are labouring under a great disadvantage. They are in a position to supply a large quantity of netting - practically two-thirds of the total quantity required in the Commonwealth. Further, it is of a much better quality than is the imported rubbish.
– Then they do not need any protection.
– Ever since the honorable member entered this Parliament he has been misrepresenting his constituents, as he will find to his cost before very long. I am acquainted with the ideas of his constituents just as well as he is. I have seen some of them within the past few days, and they are more than disgusted with the honorable member’s votes. I repeat that the price of wire netting has been reduced by Messrs. Lysaght Brothers’. When the duty upon this article was originally imposed wire netting 42 inches, wide. A- quality, cost £[43 10s. per mile, and the B quality £[40 10s. per mile.
– And the New South Wales Government obtained the wire for £26 per mile landed in Sydnev.
– Not the B quality. It was the fourth quality wire, 36 inches wide, for which they paid that sum.
– It was the B quality. and was 42 inches wide.
– The honorable member has been misinformed. It was wire of inferior quality which the New South Wales Government purchased at that price. The wire netting most in demand is 42 inches wide, 17-inch gauge, and has a 1 1/2 inch mesh. The price of this, according to the list issued on the 6th of February, by Messrs. Lysaght Brothers, is ^28 15s. per mile.
– The New South Wales Government is supplying imported wire of similar dimensions at £22 10s. per. mile.
– The New South Wales Government are not supplying similar wire at that price. The honorable member is making no distinction between wire netting 36 inches wide and wire netting 42 inches wide. Further, the imported wire is a very inferior article. It will not serve the purpose for which it is intended to be used. Its mesh is irregular and the wire is not of good quality. Messrs. Lysaght Brothers., on the other hand, supply good wire.
– Then they need no protection.
– The honorable member knows nothing about the question. Wire netting is scarcely used in his- electorate. In my own constituency I do not think there is a single individual who purchases anything but Messrs. Lysaght Brothers netting, as the result of bitter experience of the netting purchased from the Government. The farmers imagined - when they dealt with the New South Wales Government - that they would secure wire netting which would keep out rabbits from their holdings, but they were soon disillusionized, and they .have since had to buy wire netting from Messrs. Lysaght Brothers to duplicate their fences.
– That is a serious reflection upon the State Government.
– I never believed in the action of the New South Wales Government in supplying inferior netting. When they first proposed to purchase netting for land-holders the conditions imposed were similar to those which obtained in Queensland. In other words/ the wire was supplied to the farmers and was to be paid for at the rate of 5 per cent, over a period of twenty years. But subsequently the term was reduced to ten years, and conditions were imposed which caused many land-holders to become perfectly disgusted. These conditions required them to mortgage their properties, and to send in a report as to the condition of the netting every twelve months. As a result, a great many persons in the Albury and Wagga districts would have nothing more to do .with the New South Wales Government. The conditions were so positively ridiculous. It is imperative that our farmers should be supplied with an article with which they are satisfied, and one which will keep out the rabbits,, which the’ imported netting will not do - especially the netting imported by. the. New South Wales Government.
– That is not our experience in Queensland.
– I may tell the honorable member that my own son applied for wire netting introduced bv the Government of New South Wales because he thought that it would be of good quality and that he would be able to secure it upon easy terms. ‘ But when the conditions to which I have referred were imposed he refused to have anything to dowith the Government of that State, and purchased his supplies from Messrs. Lysaght Brothers. His- case is .typical of nearly every land-holder in the electorate which I represent.” They would rather pay an increased price for the netting manufactured by Messrs. Lysaght Brothers thanpurchase the imported article.
– Then why all this fuss?
– Because they want to be protected from the competition of rubbish from abroad. Surely we ought not to. allow men who have invested their capital in this industry to be shot at all round ! They cannot continue to carry on successfully if they are to be bombarded with the rubbish which is being imported at the present time.
– Is the Treasurer in favour of keeping out rubbish generally?
– I am.
– The Treasurer has not done anything in the direction of keeping out patent medicine rubbish.
– The honorable member is absolutely wrong.
– What has the Treasurer done ?
– I am not the Minister in charge of the Customs Department. The honorable member has instituted a comparison between the importationof rubbish generally and the introduction of inferior wire netting. When I introduced the Commerce Bill I was informed that it would have the effect of keeping out rubbish.
– I must ask the Treasurer not to discuss that matter. .
– I do not wish to be accused of something of which I am not guilty.
– Can the Treasurer connect the question of patent medicines with that of wire netting?
– The honorable member for Barrier is responsible for the introduction of the question of patent medicines. I am heartily in accord with him in that connexion. I merely wish, in a judicious way, to see the wire netting industry not only maintained, but expanded to the fullest possible extent, so that our own people may be supplied with a better class of netting than they are getting at the present time. I regret very much that we are not in a position to-day to produce all the wire that is used in this country. It is time we were in that position. When I was in Sheffield I saw the wire-making industry in progress at Hatfield’s, one of the best firms in England. There would be no difficulty whatever in manufacturing all the wire we require, both for wire netting and. for other purposes. The process is a very simple one indeed, and not much machinery is required. At Lithgow, or some other steel works, we ought to be able to manu facture not merely wire netting from imported wire, but the wire itself. I hope that the Committee will not agree to make this item free.
– The honorable gentleman voted against duties of 10 and 5 per cent. last time.
– I am sure that the honorable member does not wish to misrepresent me. The honorable member for Riverina knows perfectly well what took place. As I introduced the Tariff the duties were 30 and 25 per cent. Those duties were submitted not because I thought they were the highest that we should impose, but largely because they were recommended by the Tariff Commission. When the question was discussed in Committee I found that I could not maintain them, but I fought for higher duties than were agreed to. If I could get higher duties I would, but I do not want to have a Tariff that might for a little while result in an increase in price, although I do not think that that would be the effect. In. the interests of our manufacturers and of those who use wire netting, I appeal to the Committee not to reduce these duties below what they were when the Tariff left this Chamber.
.- I think it necessary to say a word or two in consequence of the remarks made by the Treasurer in reply to an interjection of mine. As to his statement that I am misrepresenting my constituents, the matter is one. which I am prepared to leave to them. I am quite prepared to take all the responsibility for my actions.
– They will effectually tell the honorable member what they think of him.
– The Treasurer states that some of my constituents told him that they are disappointed with my votes. Seeing that he has been in Tasmania since I was last there myself, it is possible that certain of my constituents told him what he has stated. But I do not think that the electors of Wilmot, as a whole, are adverse to the views which I have expressed, and to the votes which I have given. At anyrate, I am perfectly willing to put the matter to the proof. I only wish that the Treasurer would contest the electorate a.gainst me at the next election.
– Several honorable members opposite have admitted that) they voted for duties of 10 and 5 per cent, because they could not secure the admission of wire netting dutyfree. The honorable member for Calare has interjected that honorable members on this side of the Chamber ought to be opposed to a 10 per cent, duty, because it is a revenue duty. Well, I am against 10 per cent, duties, but I voted for 10 and 5 per cent, in this instance, precisely because those’ were the highest duties I could get. I declined to vote for lower duties for several reasons. In the first place, I desire our settlers to be able to get cheap wire netting, and, in the second place, I wish to protect those who are manufacturing wire netting in Australia at present. What guarantee has been given us that if we were to make wire netting duty free the settlers would get it cheaper? When there was no duty our experience was that the purchasers were very badly treated by the importers. In South Australia we use an enormous quantity of wire netting in proportion to population. I suppose that we use more than any State in the Commonwealth. When there was no duty the price charged was so enormous that the Government .of the State had to step in and import wire netting themselves, selling it to the settlers at cost price. It is a curious thing that the moment something is proposed to be done to benefit the- farmers we find certain honorable members opposite saying, “ Oh, we must not- touch the farming community.” Chemical manures could not be sold at the price at which they are sold to-day had it nol been for the local manufactures. It is precisely the same with wire netting-. If honorable members make the item free, and wipe out the local industry. 7 am quite satisfied that wire netting will become very much dearer. The result will simply be to leave the whole field open to a ring of importers, and the settlers will consequently have to pay much more than they are now doing. Even if the local manufacturers were to come to an arrangement with the importers - which I do not think they will do - there is nothing to prevent any State in the Commonwealth doing what was done by South Australia; namely, purchasing wire netting at the cheapest ‘market price, and selling it to the settlers at that price.
– The. State Government will not be able to do that if we impose a duty?
– What is the difference between purchasing wire netting at the cheapest price in. any part of the world when there is no duty, and doing the same thing when there is a duty ? There is no difference whatever. In fact, I should like to see the whole of the States doing what Victoria is now doing. I should like to see wire netting made in all the gaols of the Commonwealth, so that the settlers might get it at the cheapest possible price. Wire netting is not an article. that comes into competition with the produce of workers in .the same sense as do boots and shoes and other commodities.
– Is not wire netting being made out of the gaols?
– Will not. the gaolmanufactured netting come into competition with that manufactured out of the gaols?
– I would have wire netting manufactured in the gaols and sold at’ the same price as that manufactured by private enterprise. We have been too long keeping our prisoners at the expense of the taxpayers. They, ought to be made to earn their living ; but what they make should not be brought into competition with goods made by workers outside. If wire netting were madein all the gaols of the Commonwealth and sold at cost price, we ‘ should do a good thing for the settlers and for the taxpayers also.
– Would the honorable member allow the prisoners to strike for higher wages if they wanted to?
– That remark suggests a reason why the honorable member should support me in this case ; because if there is a strike and wire netting is not being made in the gaols, the farmers will be at the mercy of the importers, who will charge whatever price they like. They will say that the increase is due to. the strike, and will charge .£5 or £6 per ton more than is justifiable. While the proposed duties are not as high as .they ought to be, I shall vote for their retention, because they are the highest I Can secure. The local manufacture affords the best safeguard to the settlers against being penalized by importers. Some honorable members expressed their determination not to vote for the duties, because of the low wages paid in the industry. But if the wages are not fair, I take it that that is the fault of this Parliament and of the States Parliaments.
– The - workers are being paid much’ better wages than they were a few years ago.
– If there is any worker ‘ in the Commonwealth who is not receiving a fair wage to-day, it is not the fault of the workers, but of our Parliaments in not seeing that justice is done to’ them. There has never been any difficulty in getting justice done to the manufacturers, who have been far more strongly representee! in our Parliaments than the workers have been.
– It is. the fault of. the workers if they do not “fix up “ the Parliaments, as they like.
– This is only a young Parliament as yet, and it is the only Parliament in the world, so far as my knowledge goes, that is elected by adult suffrage. Therefore, the workers have not had proper representation in the other Parliaments of Australia. Some honorable members .say that they are not going to vote for higher duties because it is not worth while to preserve an industry in which the wages are so low.
– Does the honorable member think that is the reason why we are voting for low duties?
– It is the reasongiven by more ‘than one honorable member. I have a better opinion of the farmers of this country than to believe that if they had to pay a trifle more for their wire netting in order that- a fair wage might be paid in the industry, they would not be willing to do it. In my opinion, it is the duty of this Committee to encourage the manufacture of wire netting in the Commonwealth. I hope to see the industry established not only in New South Wales, but in the other States also. Since the .Tariff has been laid on the table we have been manufacturing barbed wire in South Australia, and it’ is just as easy to manufacture wire netting.
– lt is merely wiretwisting.
– If we establish a number of industries, they will require an enormous amount cif capital and machinery. These industries may be small individually, but collectively, they lead to the employment of a large number of hands. In addition’ to that, mechanics are employed in the manufacture of the machinery! These industries’ will grow, and afford more’ and more employment according as we give them protection against the outside world.
.- On general principles, I am opposed to 10 per cent, duties as being absolutely revenue duties. Wire netting is not only heavy but extremely bulky, and freightage is an extremely important factor in the total cost. That being so,’ a duty of 10 per cent, iri respect of it is equal to a duty of 15 per cent, in the esse of many other articles. Evidence such as that given by the honorable member, for Hindmarsh as well as the facts within my own knowledge convinces me that we shall secure cheap wire netting for Australian users only by means of local competition. The quality of the Australian-made netting ‘ is infinitely superior to that obtained, from abroad. Many men have to mortgage their holdings to obtain the wherewithal to purchase wire netting to enclose them, and we can .well imagine their dismay, on finding that the imported netting which they have used for that purpose is rapidly falling to pieces.
– That is what is happening in many- cases.
– I have met with such cases. Many farmers regret that they ever touched the imported rubbish, and some are substituting the locally made article for it.
– And voluntarily paying the extra cost.
– Yes ; because they obtain &i superior’ article.
– I know of fences consisting of imported wire netting that have been standing for twenty years.
– I do hot say that the imported wire netting is all rubbish. It is a very old trick on ihe part of those who wish to get rid of a lot of rubbish to mix’ it with a little material of first-class quality.
– I do not think that is so.
– The right honorable member is inclined to believe that every importer’ should be supplied with a small pair of golden wings. I have as much faith in humanity as has the average man, and know that amongst merchants there are many honorable men. But I challenge the right honorable member to prove that trickery is not carried on in connexion with many departments of trade. When a man erects a fence consisting of im- ported wire netting, and- finds that its life is not one-fourth that of a fence made of the local article-
– Even the best of wire netting goes wrong in some districts more rapidly than in others.
– And if the honorable member held a piece of rabbit-infested country and enclosed it with a fence made of imported wire netting, he would soon go wrong.
– I have seen as much of Australia as the honorable member has.
– I do not think it is necessary to see a lot of Australia in order to become a competent judge of wire netting; but in reply to the honorable member, I may say that I have visited all the States of the Commonwealth with the exception of Tasmania, and that I have .also been to New Zealand. Still I should not pose as a judge of wire netting if I did not know something about it.
– The honorable member did not know until to-day that it is used chiefly by the farmers.
– That statement is not correct so far as New ‘South Wales is concerned.
– The honorable member for Grey is referring to a private conversation which I had with him this morning, when I expressed surprise that in his electorate there was a district in which very small holdings were enclosed with wire netting.
– In some parts of South Australia gardens are so enclosed.
– But not as a protection against rabbits.
– The interjection made by the honorable member for Grey was scarcely fair. I am well aware that farmers use wire netting. Those engaged in mixed farming in many parts of New South Wales use it ; but I was not aware until’- to-day that very small holdings in closely-settled districts in South Australia are enclosed in this way. In the circumstances, I think thai I am justified in claiming the vote of the honorable member for Grey., in favour of these duties in order that his constituents may secure an effective netting at a cheap rate.
– In my electorate it is even necessary to enclose cemeteries with wire netting.
– Then I also claim the honorable member’s vote for these duties., for if the cemeteries in his electorate are enclosed with fences made of imported wire he will soon find the rabbits making their way into them.
– That is not bur experience.
– In conclusion, I would urge upon honorable members that the chief point to be considered after all is that it .is absolutely necessary to maintain local competition in order that we may have a good article. I think we shall find that in the long run Australian wire netting is the cheapest.
Question - That the requested amendment, making item 186 (Wire Netting), free, be not made - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative. Requested amendment made.
Requested amendments in item 188 (Ammonia Condenser Coils), in item 189 (Metal Plates), in item 191 (Aluminium, &c.), in item 193 (Anodes, &c), in item 195 (Brass), and in item 198 (Copper), made.
Item 203. Locks, including knobs, keys, escutcheons, and transom catches, ad val. (General Tariff) 5 per cent., (United Kingdom) free.
Requests. - Leave out “Locks, including”; insert “ (a) ‘.’ ‘ before the word “ knobs,” and “ window “ after “ escutcheons “ and new paragraph - “ (n) Locks, ad val. (General Tariff) 20 per cent., (United Kingdom) 15 per cent. To come into operation on a date to be fixed by proclamation. Proclamation to issue so soon as a joint address has been passed on the motion of Ministers by both Houses of Parliament, stating that the manufacture is sufficiently established in the Commonwealth; but until the issue of such proclamation, Locks free.”
Motion’ (by S’.r William. Lyne) proposed -
That the requested amendment be made.
Mr. STORRER (Bass) foi]– I hope that the Government will see its way to bring the proposed duties on locks into operation at once, instead of allowing them to’ come into operation at some future date, as requested. It will be a long time before we are again considering a Tariff.
– I should 1’ke to bring the duties into operation at once; but I have moved that the requested amendment be made, because I understand that it is only in this form .that it will be agreed to by the Senate. A similar stipulation has been inserted in other items. .If the stipulation is not accepted, it may be found impossible to get the duty agreed to at all.
.- This is the first instance in which we have been asked to consider a request for duties to be brought into operation on a date to be fixed by proclamation. What is proposed is virtually a reopening of the Tariff from time to time for the benefit of certain industries. But why should some industries be treated differently from others? In one State industries get duties of 30 and 40 per cent., and why should industries in other States be treated differently? I am tired of the geographical protection which is being voted. If locks can be made in Tasmania, and the proposed duties will protect and encourage the industry, why should the duties not be brought into force at the earliest possible moment ?
– I have made inquiries, and have ascertained that the
Senate would not concur in any other amendment.
– No doubt that is so; but I wish to know which, in regard to Tariff matters, is to be the stronger House. All industries should be treated alike, and this, or some other Government, will have to take a stand in the matter. If a division -is called for, I shall vote for a modification, to bring the duties into force at the earliest moment possible.
– I am not opposed to the free importation of locks ; but the proposal which the Treasurer has made is an extraordinary one. How any protectionist - and there is a large protectionist majority in the Committee
– It is not apparent just’ now. The South Australian representatives did not vote for protection in the last division.
– Some honorable members vote free-trade for their own elec- ‘torates, and it is time the people knew what is being done.
—If an occasional glimpse of reason induces honorable members to vote according to my way of thinking, I have no cause to be angry. It ,is extra- ‘ ordinary, however, to propose that the lockmakers of Australia should be treated differently from those connected with other industries. They are to be given protection only after they have put their business in a sound position. ©
– I take it that locks are being made here now.
– I. do not know.
– Yes. They were made in Tasmania, before Federation, under a duty of 10 per cent.
– Were I a protectionist, 1 should encourage by duties the manufacture of locks. I should not .ask the lockmakers to fight their battle on free-trade lines, offering them duties when they no longer needed them. Duties axe generally proposed for the encouragement and protection of industries not properly established. Probably the reason for this proposal .is that locks aire not made here, or that’ only a few are made, and that they are looked upon as necessaries in other industries, which therefore should be allowed to come in free. If the Treasurer is prepared to make the requested amendment, I have no reason for opposing it.
.– 1’ should like to vote for duties on locks; but this seems -a silly proposal.
– If the honorable member wishes to destroy another industry, he will vote- against the motion. A similar stipulation has been made in several other items. -
– How can an industry be destroyed, if it is not yet established ? The Treasurer ought not to get angry.
– I cannot help it, when protectionists vote . against protective proposals.
– I was sent here to give effect to my opinions, not to those of the Treasurer, who ought not to show temper merely because he had not a majority on a recent proposal.
– I am angry because men who. say that they are protectionists have voted against protection.
– It is not a matter of opinion, but of action.
– My actions follow my opinions.
– I do not know that it is so.
– Few men in the Chamber are more consistent.
– The requested amendment is absurd. Why should we agree to what no member of the Committee can find a reason for? Does the Treasurer say that it. is part of the protectionist policy to allow industries to be established under free-trade, and then to impose protective duties?
– The honorable member voted for division VIa. of the Tariff.
– That is a. different matter.
– I again appeal to honorable members not ‘ to carry on convertsations across the chamber. It is almost impossible for the honorable member for Boothby to be heard.
– I remind the Treasurer that it is part of the Government proposal to establish the iron industry by means of bounties, and that that makes all the difference in the world. If he will say that the Government intend to propose a bounty in connexion with the industry now under consideration, he will have some justification for asking protectionists .to vote for this proposal. No parallel can be drawn between this industry and the iron industry. What is proposed here is that this industry should be allowed to get along as best it can and without any protection until it is established, and then after it has been established we are to impose protective duties to assist it.
– Let the honorable member vote to make the item free.
– That is what the Government propose. .
– They do not do anything of the kind.
– The Treasurer is to-day proposing that these locks shall be admitted free of duty until the industry for their manufacture is sufficiently established to be able to get along without any protection at all. I am not finding fault with the Treasurer.
Sir- William Lyne. - I do not know . ‘ what else the honorable member is doing.
M.r. BATCHELOR.- The boot is on the other leg. It is the Treasurer who is finding fault with me. I am finding fault with the proposal that comes to us from the Senate, and the Minister is not responsible for that. The fact that a proposal might be described as protectionist should not be sufficient to induce the Committee to accept it,- if at the same time it is shown that it is nonsensical and illogical.
– It has been suggested by the Treasurer that there is some analogy between this extraordinary proposal and that set out at the commencement of Division VIa. I submit that there is no such analogy, and no connexion of any kind between them. The proposal made in connexion with Division VIa. is due to the fact that there was some uncertainty as to whether we should adopt a policy of bounties for the encouragement of the manufacture of iron or impose protective duties. The proposal of the Government in the matter - and whether it is logical or not, I .am not at present concerned to inquire - was that we should first of all encourage the industry by means of substantial bounties, and that when with that encouragement it reached certain proportions we should abolish the bounties, and impose protective duties. In any circumstances, it is an unfortunate thing to have to resort to this particular mode of legislation, and such a course could only be justified by some such condition of affairs as exists in connexion with the manufacture of iron, because of the difficulty we have in deciding whether we should encourage its manufacture by means of bounties or. by protective .duties. I think that a great many honorable members on both sides are dissatisfied with the proposal, even in those circumstances.
– What duties did the Government propose on locks?
– I shall refer to them in a moment. .1 wish to say that to deal with a single item in the way here proposed is to keep the Tariff open. By the course proposed, although we are sup.posed to have settled .the whole question of the Tariff, an invitation would be offered for a renewed discussion of this particular item, and it would be left to the Government to reopen the consideration’ of this portion of the Tariff, and throw the House into the turmoil of a Tariff debate at any time they might feel disposed to do so. Such a proposal should not be accepted without the gravest reasons being advanced in support of it. We have heard a good deal of talk from the Treasure^ and from’ some, honorable members supporting him, about the character of the votes we have given, and about changing our views in respect to votes we gave on some of these items when they were previously before the Committee.
– Hear, hear. I should be ashamed of such conduct.
– I should like to ask the Treasurer whether he considers that as a matter of political consistency we should, in dealing with suggestions coming from the Senate, always vote in the same way as we voted- when the matter affected by a request of the Senate was before us- in the first instance.
– An honest politician would do so.
– If that be so, 1 presume that it will be admitted that it would be an equally necessary part of consistent conduct in the members of the Senate that they should vote in the same way as they previously voted, when their requests are sent back to them.
– That is only wriggling.
– I had to tell the Minister only a- little time ago that he very frequently mistakes insolence for argument.
– We do not get argument from the honorable member.
– The honorable ‘ gentleman does not know what argument is, though, perhaps, he is quite aware of what insolence is.
– I” do not think that the honorable gentleman understands that either.
– I hope for the honorable gentleman’s own credit that he does not. fully realize how far he sometimes goes in that direction.
– I am not concerned about the honorable member’s view of what would be to my credit.
– The Minister has threatened us with the statement that we shall be destroying an industry which has been started here by voting against this proposal.
– So honorable members will.
– What did the Government themselves do in this matter ? Here we have . an industry in such a struggling condition as not to be entitled ‘ to protection yet, but which we are invited to believe will be entitled to protection at some time when the Minister chooses to take the necessary action. After going fully into the whole ‘ matter of the Tariff with the report of the Tariff Commission before them, Ministers deliberately brought down to this House a Tariff in which they proposed ‘ locks, including knobs, keys, .escutcheons, and staples should be dutiable at only 5 per cent, under the general Tariff, and free if imported from the United Kingdom.
– Hear, hear !
– Where is the honorable gentleman’s political consistency now 3 Where was this struggling industry when that decision was arrived at ? Did the honorable gentleman look into this matter °at all before he brought down the Tariff?
– Perhaps the Tariff Commission did not look into it.
– I remind the honorable member for Newcastle that when honorable members were urging the Government to hasten the consideration of the Tariff they were told that the Government could not accept the conclusions even of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission without going carefully into all the items themselves. Did they look into this item ?
– This industry is not established in either Melbourne or Sydney, and therefore they did not know about it.
– Coming from a Government supporter that is about the most extraordinary criticism I have heard. I think that the Minister ought to be a little ashamed of his talk about inconsistency.
– - The honorable member ought to look at home for his.
– The honorable member for Flinders should be an authority on inconsistency, in view of the last Few votes, he has given.
– I fail to see how the honorable member can justify that statement.
– The honorable member knows that he has changed his votes.
– Of course I have changed my votes. I say that it is our duty here, in considering suggestions of the Senate, not to allow ourselves to be bound hand and foot by the decisions at which we had previously arrived. If we do not take tip that attitude we might just as well say that we will not consider the Senate’s suggestions at all.
– The honorable member is not so much opposed to the protection of an industry if it is a Victorian industry.
Mr..W. H. IRVINE.- The right of the Senate to make requests or suggestions is deliberately embodied in our Constitution, and yet the honorable member would contend that it is our duty as members of the House of Representatives to flout the requests of the Senate. Is that the honorable member’s idea of the relation which- should exist between the two Houses ?
– Apparently diverse courses should be followed in dealing with the acceptance or modification of amendments requested by the Senate, according to whether they affect an industry in an honorable member’s electorate or in some other State.
– I do not think that the honorable member can make against me the accusation implied in his remarks.
– I do. plainly enough.
– What is the instance to which the honorable member refers ?
– Take the honorable member’s last vote on wire netting. That did not affect a Victorian industry.
– I was assured by those who represent the interests of the people concerned - but we, are not allowed to discuss past votes.
– The honorable member asked me for an instance, and I have given him one.
– I need not enter into details, and I.’ do not intend to explain my votes. I shall be prepared to justify the votes I have given in the proper place ; but I wish to tell the Treasurer that to assume, as he does, that honorable members are guilty of some sort of political inconsistency if they chancre the votes they gave in the first instance upon any item when that item comes before, them again upon a request received from the Senate, is practically to contend that the Senate has no right to make any suggestions.
– The Government have changed their attitude in regard to this item.
– Quite so; .and we ought not to assume that it shows consistency to vote for the same duties as before, and that there is nothing whatever to consider in the requests sent to us by the Senate.
– Is the honorable member of opinion that the Senate should absolutely have a power amounting to amendment of a Tariff in detail?
– The honorable member , asks me a question which I think may be relevant to the matter before us. The Senate has not “the power of amendment, but only the power of suggesting amendments, though, personally, I think there is very little difference in substance between the two; and I make the honorable member a present of that admission. But whatever the power means, it is part of the constitutional right of the Senate ; and surely it is our duty to at least give a courteous consideration to the suggestions made?
– I do not object to that; I only say it is funny how the votes are given.
– If the honorable member means to infer that honorable members are governed bv considerations as between New South Wales and Victoria, and so on, I have no answer ; all I can do is to assure him that I am not governed bv any considerations of the kind. When we find the- Treasurer, having originally introduced this item to be subject to a duty of 5 per cent, -and free,’ deliberately threatening honorable members on both sides with all the terrors of his displeasure if they do not at once vote for his proposal there is only one of two views open to us - either that the Minister did not go into this item as he said he had done, or that he has discovered, since he introduced, the Tariff, that this is a struggling industry which requires protection.
– A duty of 5 per cent, and free is not protectionist, but a revenue duty of the lowest kind.
– If there is a struggling industry, let the Treasurer propose to strike out all the conditional words, and I shall vote with him. If the Treasurer can show me now, notwithstanding what the Ministry have done, that there is any considerable industry here which ought to be protected, I shall vote for the duty without condition. But the Government have no right to. adopt their present attitude towards honorable members, who are endeavouring to do their duty just as much as is the Treasurer.
– I do not- think the honorable member is.
– The Treasurer ought to give us particulars showing that there is an’ industry here, the approximate number of employes, and the rate of output; and if he can prove that there is any real claim for protection, I, for one, shall vote for the duty without qualification. If the Minister cannot give us that information, I shall vote for» wiping the duty out altogether.
.- The Treasurer ought, [ think, to listen to those who take exception to this kind of legislation. It is most objectionable to have conditional protection, leaving it within the power of the Ministry, at any particular juncture, to ask Parliament to declare that a manufacture is sufficiently established to justify a duty. The honorable member for Boothby was perfectly right when he said that if an industry can be brought into existence without a duty, it is a strange proposal to afford protection at a time when protection is not needed. Personally, I cannot conceive a better way of preventing an industry being established than such a condition as that suggested ; because no’ one will enter into an industry with the prospect of facing a battle in two House of Parliament, in order to show .that it is sufficiently established to justify a duty. I suggest to the Treasurer that he ought to make up his mind to accept a duty of 20 per cent, or, perhaps, some lower figure, and to abandon this excrescence on the Tariff. The proposed conditions .are a new departure, and, quite apart from other considerations, I think honorable members ought to set their faces against it. There should be a protective duty or there should not be; and we ought to decide the question on its merits. The request of the Senate introduces: a most insidious and dangerous principle. As a protectionist, I am prepared to vote for a duty.
– The item will not be passed without the condition, and we shall lose the whole !
– Then the Senate-
– It is of no use throwing the responsibility on the Senate !
– We are responsible for our own actions, and not for the actions of another place. If this request be insisted on, and sent back to us, it will be for us to do our duty. But I do not believe in anticipating any difficulties of the kind. The Senate has the constitutional right to suggest amendments ; and we ought not to take up the position that honorable members are bound, in every case, to vote in a specific way. The circumstances are now quite different ; and to insist on such a course, would be carrying the claim for consistency rather too far.
– I regret very much to hear the remarks of the honorable member for Mernda. My duty is to get the Tariff through, if possible, in a proper way, and whatever the action of the Senate may be, I desire to have a good Tariff.
– This condition is not a principle of a good Tariff.
– Honorable members opposite do not desire to influence this item so much as the item of oil, and five or six others to be considered later. What honorable members opposite wish is to have a vote now which will. pledge honorable members against the principle of imposing a condition of this kind.
– The Treasurer never proposed such a condition in the original Tariff.
– Never mind what I did. The right honorable member for Swan turned himself out of the Government ; ( he ought to have been here to help us. What I desire to do is to withdraw the motion, with a view of submitting it in another form. I ask leave to withdraw the motion.
.- I wish to point out the part which the Treasurer is playing in this Tariff. He would lead people outside to believe that he had proposed a stiff protective duty on locks in his Tariff, and that the Senate had played tricks with his original proposition, and brought about this disaster to the cause of protection. The fact is that the Government in the Tariff as introduced by themselves, proposed not one shred of protection for the lock industry of Australia. They proposed a revenue duty of 5 per cent, on locks made outside the Mother Country, and absolute free-trade in locks made in the Mother Country. They could not have proposed a lower revenue duty than they did.
– It -was not even intended as a revenue duty. It is the basis of all the free items.
– The idea of the 5 per cent, duties in the general Tariff was to give a preference to the Mother Country of 5 per cent. In some instances the preference is more, but 5 per ‘cent, is the lowest revenue duty proposed.
– How much preference would the honorable member have given ?
– May I ask the Treasurer’s understudy to leave me alone for a moment? I wish to show the utter absurdity and bluff of making out that the Senate has done something against the Government’s Tariff when the Senate has actually increased the Government’s proposal of 5 per cent, and free to 20 per cent, and 15 per cent., but have added a condition, to which I drew attention first, and which involves a pernicious principle from every point of view.
– Will the honorable member vote for imposing the duty at once?
– The honorable member always speaks by way of interjection. If the honorable member will allow me, I wish to speak for myself. From a. protectionist point of view, it is ridiculous to ask an Australian industry to establish itself under free-trade conditions in the hope of getting protection after it has clone without it. Look at the position it puts industries in. They come to the House for a joint address that they are sufficiently established. Then, from my point of view, I should be fairly entitled to say : “ They have established themselves under the terms of the Tariff without a duty. What is (he need of giving them a duty now?” It would, therefore, not be fair from any point of view, and certainly not from a protectionist point of view, to adopt the Senate’s suggestion. Why should the lock manufacturers have to vindicate themselves and establish themselves before they get any help?
– A lot the honorable member cares for them.
– That is a Mother Gamp sort of interruption. The Treasurer is playing the old woman, this afternoon. What is the matter with him? Will not some of the supporters of the Government agree to follow him ? Are they standing out? It seems to be a case of political lockjaw which is disagreeing with the honorable member. From a protectionist point of view this is a ridiculous proposition. That is a matter more for other honorable members than myself, but on a general ground, upon which protectionists and free-traders alike ought to meet, it is a pernicious principle that the Tariff should be liable to be re-opened at any time, and that there should be a struggle over an industry which comes to Parliament for assistance. That is the sort of thing that leads to lobbying.
– And re-opened at the instance of an interested individual.
– That individual has to go to the Government. There is a struggle with the Government first, and then there is a struggle in the lobbies and in Parliament. If honorable members want to give an industry protection, let them give it straight out at once. If they want to protect, let them protect;. I shall vote against the condition proposed by the Senate.
– Is it the pleasure of the Committee that the Treasurer have leave to withdraw his motion?
– I object. There is a big principle at stake.
M.r. HUGHES (West Sydney) [3.36]. - What has the Treasurer withdrawn?
– I have not withdrawn anything vet.
– Since locks can be made very easily without the expenditure of ‘ much capital;, it seems to me that if we agree to the request as it stands, we practically say to a man : “ You start the industry, and when you have started it we will give you a protection of 20 and 15 per cent.” Within three months any man with from £150 to £200 could come back to this Chamber, and say : “ I am in a position to demand the protection . that you promised.” What was in the mind of the Senate was that the industry should be placed in such a position as tq be worthy of some sort of support. Their proposition is not so ridiculous as it appears at first sight, because no industry does receive protection in Australia unless it is struggling on to its feet. When it is said that an industry ought to receive protection, what is the objection that is urged against it from the stand-point of the free-trader? It is that there is no such industry. On another occasion it will be said “ There are only twenty men, or three men and a boy, employed in the industry ; it is one which should not be protected, because it employs so few persons.” But directly a man comes forward with a statement to the effect that he employs 50, 60, 100, or 500 men in an industry, then, from the protectionist stand-point, a case is made out for the grant of some protection. The mere fact that the’ industry is on its feet does not take away the right of the manufacturer to be protected. Therefore, I do not see anything very absurd in the .proposition. I apprehend that there is absolutely nothing to prevent a man f rom competing as readily with cheap locks as with cheap boots. I shall not vote for the proposition, because, from my standpoint, it is perfectly absurd. If this request be acceded to,’ it will be inviting a man to invest- £1,000 in an industry, and at the end of three months to come to Parliament for some protection. If a protectionist Ministry be then in office with a majority at its back, the promise will have to be kept. We shall be called upon to grant to that man a protection which we are not. prepared to concede at the present time. If we are prepared to agree to duties of 20 and 15 per cent.,’ or 5 per cent, and free, let us do so at once. A duty of 5 per cent, is no protection to an industry. If the leader of the Opposition had been in office, 1 have no doubt that he would have agreed to give duties of 10 and 5 per cent. Those would be fair revenue duties. I suggest to the Treasurer that, instead of asking for duties of 20 an’d 15 per cent, with an absurd proviso, he should be prepared to take duties of 10 and 5 per cent, if he will agree to adopt that .suggestion, he will get revenue., and also give a little protection to the industry.
– I should not object to the Treasurer being granted leave to withdraw his motion only that a similar proviso is attached to the items dealing with oils, timber, and paper. In my opinion, it is quite right to fight the proposition now. I ‘ am not at all concerned with the fiscal side of it. When the Treasurer says that he wants to get his Tariff put through in a proper way, I ask him at what expense -does he intend to achieve that object? It is at the expense of surrendering our taxing power to the Senate. By a very acute device, it is “trying to acquire greater power than it possesses under the Constitution.
– Hear, hear ! Under- this proposition the Senate can tax or refuse to tax. …
– My opinion is, that the Treasurer, merely to get the Tariff put through in what he calls a proper manner, is asking honorable members to surrender the taxing power of this House to the other. Honorable members .have spoken about suggested amendments, but the honorable member for Flinders has admitted that the power of suggestion is almost the same as the power of amendment. If we accede to this request we shall be granting further power to the other House. It wants the duty on locks -
To come into operation on a date to be fixed by proclamation. Proclamation to issue so soon as a Joint Address has been passed on the motion of Ministers by both Houses of Parliament stating that the manufacture is sufficiently established in the Commonwealth.
The Senate is pleading for equal power with this House in matters of taxation. I ‘ f or one refuse to vote that we cannot make a move in the matter of imposing a duty until the other House has passed a resolution. We are asked by the Minister to give to the Senate, which is not” the people’s Chamber, equal power with this House. In this Tariff the Senate is seeking to obtain that power in the case of four items, but how am I to know that the grant of such power to the Senate may not be proposed by the Treasurer in the case of forty-four items in another Tariff?
– The Tariff will become honeycombed with such provisos.
– Exactly. What is the necessity for making this innovation ? I remind honorable members who grumble about other members changing their votes that time, after all, is the greatest in- novator. Nothing has happened to warrant the Treasurer in asking honorable members to agree to the grant of this additional power to the Senate. Why should I willingly surrender our right in this regard.? The commercial aspect of this proposition was put very clearly by the honorable member for Mernda. He pointed out that the main’ justification! for the grant of a duty was to help an infant industry ; but now it is suggested by the Treasurer that an industry must be full grown before it can ask for such assistance. It must be well established before it is entitled to take advantage of this devious provision, and ask the two Houses for a protective duty. There will be no waste of time in discussing this request. The Treasurer says that he wants to withdraw his motion in order to propose the insertion of something else ; but if his suggestion were ‘ adopted that would only get over the present difficulty. I want to know whether the withdrawal of the motion, is to cover similar requests in connexion with the items relating to oils,’ timber, and paper. Otherwise -it will only be wasting time to withdraw the motion in order to get over a difficulty in regard to locks. I trust that if he is not willing to uphold the constitutional rights of this House he, as a protectionist, Will put up a fight, and be prepared to go down if he is not able to win a duty on behalf of an industry in which he believes.
– The honorable member for Dalley has said that he does not know what made another place send down the request in this form’. I can supply him with the information’. ‘ When it was first .proposed it did not. contain this condition. -Owing to the solicitations of the party which is sitting in opposition there, the condition was added.
– Are we entitled, sir, to discuss the proceedings of the Senate? - There ought to be fair play all round. Why should we on this side be kept within the rules of debate, and the honorable member allowed to discuss such matters?
– If the honorable member is referring to what took place in ‘ the Senate, of course he is out of order.
– On various occasions it has been stated here from the other side that the Government were responsible for certain things which happened in another place. Surely if those statements were permissible I might be allowed to allude to what took place there in connexion with this item.
– No one has made such a statement about this -item.
– All I know is that ever since I have been listening to. honorable members on the other side, no one has said other than that the Government were responsible for the appearance of this condition in the request. No one has said that it was made at- the instance of members sitting on the opposition side of the Senate’, and not at the instance of a member of the Government party.
– The Government were beaten over and over again. A number of these suggestions were made in spite of them.
– I know that under our Standing Orders I am not entitled to read from the debates in another place, but surely when it sends down a request’ this House is not going to handicap itself by refusing to take any notice of what occurred there !
– So. long as we can all do that I do not object.
– It is a most remark- ‘ able suggestion on the part of the honorable member that we are to be blind to everything that occurred in another place.
– I am not making a rule. I only want the rules to be observed, whatever they are.
– Does the honorable member believe that there is ‘a rule which, forbids me to do that?,
– I may be -wrong ; but I believe that there is a rule which forbids any one of us from doing it. Mr. SALMON. - I .am entitled to say that the Government . are not responsible for the request which has been made by the Senate.
– The Government are responsible if they accept that request.
– Surely the other parties to the’ arrangement have some responsibility !
– An equal responsibility. Mr. SALMON.- Then why is the right honorable member attempting to drive a wedge between portions of his party ? This request did not emanate from the Government, and they are not responsible for it.
– We desire to get the Tariff through. We do not “ stonewall “ it as the honorable member does.
– Nobody is more anxious to complete the consideration of the Tariff- than I ani. > But so long as 1 occupy a seat in this House I have, a duty to those with whom I am associated. When an attempt is made to saddle the Government with a responsibility which is not theirs I feci -it my duty to put the true position before the Committee.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– - I desire to ask the Treasurer whether he proposes to submit to this House his scheme for the adjustment of the financial relations of the States to the Commonwealth before submitting it to. the Premiers’ Conference? I think that a promise to that effect was made some time ago.
– The honorable member is quite right when he says that & promise was made in that connexion. The promise was not that the -scheme should be discussed by this House before being presented to the Premiers’ Conference, but merely that it should be laid upon the table. I think I am safe in saying that it will be laid upon the table on Tuesday next.
– Has any scheme yet been submitted to the Premiers’ Conference ?
– The Prime Minister and myself attended that Conference this afternoon, and at the request of some of the Premiers the Prime Minister made a statement which did not embody the whole of the details of the scheme to be submitted. He merely outlined that scheme for the consideration of the Premiers, who will be able to form an opinion upon it by Tuesday next, when the full proposals will be forthcoming.
Question resolved in the affirmative. House adjourned at 3.55 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 1 May 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1908/19080501_reps_3_45/>.