3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3 p.m., and Tend prayers.
North-West Coast Service
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister,’ without notice, whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that the Western Australian Government proposes to charter and run steamers from” Fremantle to ports along the north-west coast, because the private steamship com- .panies have charged such excessive freights and fares as to seriously retard the development of the north-west portion of the State ? In view of the great benefits which such State enterprise would confer on the entire Commonwealth, will he consider the advisability of’ subsidizing the State steamers, as the Government now subsidizes private companies which maintain connexions between Sydney and the South Sea Islands? If he is unable to grant a direct subsidy, will he take advantage of the recent request for fresh terms made by the present carriers- of mails for the north-west coasit, to terminate their contracts, and transfer the same to the ships about to be chartered by the State Government?
– It is through the hon- orable member that I became aware of this project. The Government could not enter into a second mail contract while the first is in existence; but we shall be happy to co-operate with the undertaking in any way we can.
– I wish to know from the Prime Minister whether he has read the report in yesterday’s Age, of ari interview with Mr. B. H. Morgan, the representative of the British Manufacturers’ Association, and the apparently wellfounded statements of that gentleman with respect -to the existence of a shipping ring in Great Britain, which charges excessive freights on the goods of British manufacturers shipped to Australia, and by that, and other means, is acting prejudicially to .the trade between the Motherland and the Commonwealth? If so, can he say whether the Government intends taking any steps towards terminating such an unsatis- factory condition of affairs? If it is the intention of the Government so to move, will he indicate the nature of the steps which are likely to be taken?
– I read the very important interview referred to, and, appreciating the gravity of Mr. Morgan’s statements, called the attention of the Minister of Trade and Customs to it. I asked him what steps were being taken in connexion with similar statements made to the Navigation Commission, and dealt with in its report. He informed me that he has the matter under consideration, and is obtaining the opinion of the law officers of the Government as to the possibility of adapting to Australian needs the Elkins Rebate Act of the United States of America.
– In view of the statement in this morning’s Ace, that the Orient Steamship Company is a member of the British shipping ring, will the Prime Minister at once abrogate the postal contract, under which it is subsidized bv the Commonwealth, unless he receives a guaran-tee that it will withdraw from the ring which is now attempting to destroy British trade with Australia?
– I am not aware of the truth of. the statement to which the honorable member refers; but our new contract with the company provides for such a contingency.
– Is it true, as stated in the press, that the Prime Minister proposes to meet the representatives of the States now assembled in Conference, to discuss Commonwealth matters with them? Does he not think that such matters should be decided by the representatives of the Commonwealth rather than by members of State Cabinets?
– Only the representatives of the Commonwealth can determine Commonwealth matters, in regard to which the Premiers of the States will not be consulted by us, nor should we. permit anything in the nature of an interference on their part with Commonwealth affairs. But the financial scheme to be laid on the table this afternoon is of joint interest, and the Government will be very glad to give the Conference such information as may be necessary to enable its members to understand our proposals. That is demanded by considerations, not only of courtesy, but also of right.
– I received to-day a letter from a Mr. Paul Goldenberg, banker,of Hamburg, in which he says -
Encouraged by above and many another grand successes of my British clients, which they obtained through the medium of my appointed Chief Lottery Agency, I beg leave to invite you to try your luck in the world-wide renowned Hamburg State Lottery as well, with a trifling stake, and with the prospect to gain a fortune.
There is also enclosed an envelope, on which his address is printed, and a form of application for tickets. On inquiring at the Department, I found that the prohibition of this correspondence is under consideration ; but I ask the PostmasterGeneral if he will not take immediate steps to prevent it being forwarded ?
– The conveyance of circulars relating to a number of foreign lotteries has been prohibited, and, when evidence satisfactory to the Crown Law authorities has been obtained in regard to them, the correspondence relating to others will be similarly treated.
– Is’ not the evidence in this case sufficient?
– I shall be glad if the honorable member will let me have the papers to which he refers.
– The Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs has given the House information about the progress of the survey of the railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta which is rather incomplete. Has he anything to add ?
– There is not much to-add to what I said a few days ago. Negotiations with the Governments of Western Australia and South Australia were opened directly the Act was passed, and subsequently ^2,060 was credited to each State, so that “the survey might be put in hand. I understand that the delay in making a start is largely due to the fact that camels, belonging to the Western Australian Government, required for the work, cannot be brought from the northern part of the State to the scene of operations as soon as was at first anticipated ; but I believe that I shall be safe in saying that the work will be begun at the end of this month, or not later than the beginning of next.
– Is it a fact, as reported in the newspapers some time ago, that the Government is suing the firm of Messrs. James Laing and Company for £250,000 for breach of contract?
– I have every hope of recovering a portion of the amount mentioned.
Purchase of “ Lone Hand “ Article
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister, without notice, whether he was aware when he “ was supplied with 50,000 copies of the first issue of the Lone Hand,” to be sent at the expenses of the Commonwealth Government to “ every newspaper in the United Kingdom, and every leading newspaper in the United States “ - to quote his own words-
– No ; I beg pardon.
– Was the Prime Minister aware that there was published in the same issue a defamatory article on the city of Sydney, entitled “ Sydney, the Cinderella of Cities “? On reflection, perhaps I had better make a few extracts from the article to make the purpose of my question clear; and it might, therefore, be fairer for me to give notice of the question for to-morrow.
– Perhaps I may explain at once that we sent no copies of the Lone Hand to Great Britain or the United States - not one single copy. What I said was that the proprietors of the magazine, as part of their effort to advertise their venture, sent out 50,000 copies of the first issue, for which we had no responsibility. The honorable member put the question asthough the Government sent them. All that we sent were the copies of a particular article, separate from the rest of the publication.
– I give notice of the question for to-morrow.
– I wish to askthe Prime Minister, without notice, another question arising out of the statement which he made a few moments ago in reference to the Lone Hand. I wish to ask him whether the following is a correct report of his reply to the question of the honorable member for Wentworth, on Friday last-
The question is a proper one, and I am glad that ithas been asked, because yesterday I omitted to mention that one of the chief advantages of the transaction was that the Govern ment was supplied with 50,000 copies of the first issue of the Lone Hand, and these were sent to every newspaper in the United Kingdom and to every leading newspaper in the United States of America.
I may add that I quoted those very words in” my first question.
– The word “ supplied “ in the passage quoted by the honorable member is incorrect. I do not remember using that word. If I did, I must have added other words which made it plain that the sending of copies of the Lone Hand to Great Britain and the United States was the act of the proprietors of the magazine.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister, without notice, whether, for thepurpose of bringing under the notice of the general public the great possibilities of the Northern Territory, he will undertake to purchase, on behalf of the Government, a number of copies’ of Mr. Alfred Searcy’s recently published work on the Northern Territory ; and whether he will have them distributed for the purpose that I have named - that is to say, to make widely known the great potentialities of the Northern Territory?
– When the Northern Territory becomes a Possession of the Commonwealth, for which this Parliament is responsible, I have no doubt that it will be a desirable thing to take steps to advertise its resources. But I may remind the honorable member that the book to which he has referred is a very large, expensive, and well-illustrated publication, and that it scarcely affords the. kind of advertisement or information that would be useful to put into the hands of those whom we desire to make their homes in the Northern Territory.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister, without notice, whether there is any truth in the report that the Attorney-General is about to go to England to conduct, personally, the case on behalf of the Commonwealth Government, by means of which it is sought to obtain £250,000 from Messrs. James Laing and Company ?
– My honorable colleague, the Attorney-General, who is sitting near me on the bench, expresses his entire willingness to go to England or further, if necessary, for the purpose indicated, but I see no possibility of sparing his services from the Commonwealth at presents
– I desire to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs, without notice, whether his attention has been drawn to the presence of three bags of wheat in the Queen’s Hall; and whether he can supply the House with any information as to whether it is the intention of the Government - as I am credibly informed is the case - to give the States Premiers an opportunity of distinguishing themselves in reference to the exhibits? Will the honorable gentleman kindly inform the House on what day, and at what particular time, the Premiers of New South Wales, Victoria, and the other States will have an opportunity of carrying these bags up and down Queen’s Hall ?
– The three sacks referred to have been placed in the Queen’s Hall in order that honorable members may be able to see for themselves what they look like when filled with wheat. The weights are marked upon the sacks. They have been placed there at the request of an honorable member who wished to see them. I understand that there is now a further request that the honorable member for Echuca shall be photographed alongside one of the sacks, and that I shall be photographed alongside my own sack.
– We should not be able to see him.
– I think I ought to say that personal remarks as to members of this House, in reference to their personal appearance, and so forth, are very undesirable. I trust that the Minister will express to the House his regret that he made the remark that has just fallen from him.
– Certainly, if there is any offence.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs, without notice, whether he considers it a fair thing, in regard to a matter of this kind, to infer that one who opposes his autocraticaction is imbued with inhuman propensities and desires ?
– No, Mr. Speaker; I do not infer anything of the kind.
– The honorable gentleman has often done so.
Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s’ questions are as follow -
asked the Minister of
Defence, upon notice -
– In reply to the honorable member’s questions I desire to state that I am not in a position at present to express any definite opinion with regard to the work done at any of the camps. The reports are not yet to hand. Instructions were issued that the following action should be taken at the termination of the manoeuvres -
Each Commandant, at the conclusion of the camps, will furnish a full statement with regard to all operations, pointing out all defects, not only in manoeuvres, but in connexion with stores and their supply, transit, and all matters bearing on the camp. These reports will be criticised by the Inspector-General and the Military Board ; all defects or short-comings will be noted and suggestions be made as to the best means of preventing a recurrence of any unsound proceeding or defective work.
These papers will be submitted to the Minister, and the fullest advantage taken of the object-lessons furnished by the camps.
The whole question will be dealt with in
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as ‘ follow -
Establishment of Joint Court
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow
On the 16th a reply was received that the appointment of the British Judge would be made as soon as possible, and a despatch of the I 8tt confirming that statement added that when the appointment was made His Majesty’s Government would “ carefully consider the suggestion of your Ministers that he should familiarize himself with the local circumstances of the New Hebrides before the Joint Court’ enters upon its functions.” The Government would hesitate to give credence’ to any report that a Judge appointed by the Government of the French Republic would be likely to act in any other than a judicial manner, though it is obvious that a Judge well acquainted with local conditions will be able to much more readily comprehend the nature of the problems that will come before the Court for settlement, and to better appreciate the probable effect of any decisions that may be given.
asked the Minister of
Defence, upon notice -
When it is intended to appoint the military staff clerks mentioned in paragraph 5 of Military Order 41 of 1908?
– In reply to the honorable member’s question, I have to state that -
The paragraph of Military Order No. 41, quoted, refers to an allotment and not to the appointment of military staff clerks.
When the Commanding Officer of the Intelligence Corps makes application the allotment of military staff clerks will be considered. The question of further appointments is one for future consideration, no money for the purpose being provided on the Estimates 1907-8.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Referring to his answer to questions on 30th April, that “drawback has been paid under the regulation on sugar exported as such - that is, not in manufacture of canned fruit, &c,” is the sugar referred to sugar which has paid or is subject 10 Excise duty ; and, if so, what rate’ per ton of sugar was paid as drawback?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
Yes, at the rate of duty in force at the time when duty was paid upon the sugar subsequently exported. Prior to 1st January, 1907, the Excise duty was£3 per ton of sugar ; on and after that dale£4 per ton.
Mr. MAUGER laid upon the table the following papers -
Post and Telegraph Act -
Telephone Regulations Amended - Parts I. and XV. - Statutory Rules 1908, No. 46.
General Postal Regulations (sale of stamps, &c.) and Telephone Regulations - Part I. - Amendments - Statutory Rules 1908, No. 47.
In Committee (Consideration of Senate’s requests, resumed from 1st May, vide page 10784) :
Item 205. Locks, including knobs, keys, escutcheons, and transom catches, ad val. (General Tariff) 5 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), free.
Requests. - Leaveout “Locks, including”; insert “(a)” before the word “knobs” and “ window “ after “ escutcheons,” and new paragraph - “ (b) 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.”
– Before we proceed to discuss this request, I desire to say that I shall deal shortly after the adjournment for dinner with the question of whether or not we should transmit to the Senate a message covering some of its requests with which we have dealt. I do not wish the matter to be discussed at the present stage. Coming now to the item immediately under consideration, honorable members will recollect that on Friday the Committee discussed the question of whether or notwe should deal with the whole of the requests relating to it in the one motion, or whether we should take them seriatim. There seemed to be a disposition to urge that we should take them separately, and I then said that I should propose to-day to deal separately with each paragraph. I therefore move -
That the requested amendments leaving out the words “ Locks, including,” and inserting “ (a) “ before the word “ knobs,” and “ window “ after the word “ escutcheons,” be made. .
Requested amendments made.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the requested amendment adding the words “(b) Locks ad val. (General Tariff) . 20 per cent. ; (United Kingdom) 15 per cent.,” be made.
– The Senate’s proposal really is that locks should at present be free, but that on a date to be fixed by proclamation, to issue on the passing of a joint address by both Houses stating that the manufacture is sufficiently established in the Commonwealth, they shall be dutiable at 20 per cent. under the general Tariff, and at 15 per cent. in the case of imports from the United Kingdom,.
– I am proposing a modification of the Senate’s requests.
– That is not so. The Minister is really proposing that the duties which the Senate requested should be imposed on the issue of a proclamation at some future time shall at once come into operation. The Senate’s request is that, at present, locks shall be free.
– Under certain conditions.
– Under - any conditions. I bring under your notice, Mr. Chairman, the fact that the Minister’s proposal really is to provide for the immediate imposition of duties of 20 and 3 5 per cent., whereas the Senate’s request is that, at present, locks shall be free. I suggest that the Minister, if he wishes these duties to come into force at once should move the addition of words after the word “ free.”
– I .gathered from the expressions of opinion by honorable members on Friday last that a large section of the Committee desire that we should first test the question as to whether the duties of 20 and 15 per cent, should be at once imposed. I have, in putting my motion, divided the request into three in order to meet that desire. If the proposal in paragraph b is carried, it will not be necessary to carry the part of the request referring to the issue of a proclamation. If it is not carried, the Committee will consider whether or not it should be carried in conjunction with that part of the request. I do not think there is anything unusual in the course I am taking, and it seems to me to be in accord . with the wishes expressed by honorable members.
– The Treasurer has said that he desires to see the Tariff dealt with in a thorough manner. Apparently all the honorable gentleman cares about is to secure his pound of flesh in the shape of a duty.
– That is very unfair.
– That is how I interpret the course pursued by the honorable gentleman in dealing with this request. The honorable gentleman says that if he can secure the imposition of these duties of 15 and 20 per cent, at once, he will be satisfied to have the condition proposed by the Senate deleted. I think that the real debate in this case should take place on the proposal of the Senate for the imposition of duties by proclamation after the passing of the joint address on the motion of Ministers in both Houses. I remind honorable members that this is not the only request of the kind submitted by the Senate. They have made similar requests in connexion with timber and lubricants, and! in other items. Are we to understand! that the Treasurer proposes that in this case we should force the imposition of high duties without the condition which the Senate think should be attached to their imposition ? I agree with the honorable member for North Sydney that so far as the Senate. is concerned the proposed duties of 20 and 15 per cent, on locks are. only conditional upon something to follow, and that the suggestion of the Senate is that; for the present, locks should be free. The Treasurer proposes that the Committeeshould adopt the duties without any condition. I ‘should prefer to discuss the condition proposed by the Senate as, in my opinion, it represents another inroad onthe taxing power of this House, and involves a very much more important consideration than any raised by the proposed” duties. I shall give honorable members a local illustration of the danger- involved in the condition included in this request. The Victorian Legislature passed an Act . providing for- the- establishment of Wages Boards, but the Act was subsequently amended to provide ‘that no Wages Board could be appointed until the Legislative Council, as well as .the Legislative Assembly, agreed to .the personnel, of the Board. In that way the power of the 1 Assembly was restricted. It seems to me that if we agree to the condition included in this request, we shall be making a somewhat similar concession to the Senate. I have said that the Senate suggest a similar condition in connexion with requests for amendments of other items, and if they are able to impose such a condition in respect of one item there is no reason why they should not seek to impose it in connexion with all. If the Treasurer will say that he does not propose to agree to the condition in respect of any of the. items to which it is attached, he will greatly simplify matters, as we need then only be concerned as to the rates of duty suggested. If, on the other hand, the honorable gentleman proposes to accept the condition in respect of any of the items to which it is attached, I think he will adopt a dangerous course, “which should be resisted strongly in the interests of the power of the House of Representatives.
.- As the honorable member for North Sydney has said, this request by the Senate is really a request that locks should be admitted free of duty. There is a postscript added that in a certain future event a proclamation might be issued fixing duties of 20 and 15 per cent. It seems to me that the proposal that locks should be made free should be first put to the Committee. Speaking to the main question, I should like to ask whether there is any intelligence at all to be displayed in connexion with the compilation of a Tariff? The Tariff of 1902 made locks free. The protectionist section of the Tariff Commission, after taking evidence all over Australia, recommended, I suppose in the interests of Australian industries, that they should be free. The Tariff introduced by the Government, with the help of the light thrown upon this question by the labours of the Tariff Commission, provided for a revenue Tariff on locks, 5 per cent. under the general Tariff, and free on imports from the United Kingdom. This House agreed to that proposal, and now we have the Senate proposing that locks should be free. So that we have the first Federal Parliament, the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission, the Federal Government of 1907, the Federal House of Representatives, and the Senate recommending that these articles should be admitted free of duty ; the Senate only proposing that after a certain time a proclamation might be issued taxing locks, and now the Government ask us to impose duties of 20 and 15 per cent. on these articles without a word of explanation. Locks are used in every Australian industry and it is most extraordinary that the Government should not know whether or not these articles are being manufactured here. The Tariff has been constructed on both occasions’, in the belief that locks are not made in the Commonwealth to any extent ; and it is evident that the Senate took the same view, seeing that it is provided that the duty shall not come into operation for some time to come. Now, however, the Treasurer, without saying whether or not the duties of 20 per cent. and 15 per cent. are really required for protectionist purposes, launches this proposal upon the Committee. Who desires a revenue duty on such a widely-used and useful article?
– Locks are being made in Tasmania.
– I was not aware of the fact; and I am sorry that the honorable member for Bass is not present. It is remarkable that the official microscope, and that not even the Tariff Commission, discovered that there is such an industry in the Commonwealth. I think it is a very mild request on the part of the Committee for further information from the Treasurer.
– On Friday last I informed the Committee that locks are being made in Australia.
– When did the Treasurer discover the fact?
– I am free to admit that when the Tariff was being prepared I was not aware, nor do I think the Tariff Commission was aware, that locks are made within the Commonwealth. The information came, first of all, from the honorable member for Bass, and, on inquiry, I found that gentleman’s statement to be. quite true. I am informed that there are One or two firms making locks in the constituency of the honorable member for Bass, and one or two other firms in the Denison electorate, and that one of the latter has recently entered into a contract with the Tasmanian Government to supply about 1,000 locks.
– My desire is to afford some protection to this industry, which has to meet great competition from abroad. I know that the machinery in use in Australia is not very extensive, but, at the same time, the industry is being established, and is progressing, or trying to, and the. proposed duty will help very much. The leader of the Opposition should not twit me for my want of knowledge on the subject ; even the Tariff Commission could not find out all the industries that were in existence or struggling to come into existence, in Australia.
– So long as the Treasurer confesses that he was in fault, I am satisfied, though this is the first confession of the kind from him in the whole course of the consideration of this Tariff.
– Then Ihope the leader of the Opposition will vote . with me.
.- I hope that the suggestion which has now fallen from the Treasurer will practically lead to the removal of this excrescence upon the Tariff - to the removal of this new and unnecessary element, which places the application of the Tariff in the hands of the Administration for the time being. It seems to me, however, most extraordinary if locks cannot be made in Australia; and
I think that the Treasurer, with the assistance of his officers, might have been prepared with some explanation on the point. As it is, the Committee are asked, without any information of an authoritative kind, to impose a duty, while the Tariff Commission, who were deputed to collect evidence, tell us there is no need for a duty.
– The Tariff Commission recommended that this item should be free.
– The Tariff Commission were not aware that locks are being made in Australia.
– But the Treasurer has not supplied us with any information of an authoritative kind.
– I did so a few minutes ago. Thereare three or four firms, at least, making locks in Australia.
– My desire is to give assistance to any industry which can show that it deserves assistance, but it cannot be suggested for one moment that the Treasurer has given any enlightenment to honorable members, who, like myself, are desirous . of extending reasonable industrial encouragement. Then, I desire to point out that, if the Treasurer persists in his idea of asking the Committee to consider the first proposal of 20 per cent., we who think a lesser duty might be sufficient, are precluded by the ruling of the Chairman from making any proposal to that end.
– I do not think so.
– The honorable member may move a lower duty.
– If so, I shall be prepared to assist the Treasurer, if we are given some definite and authoritative information, to impose a reasonable duty on locks, which, it seems to me, ought to be made in Australia.
– Nine-tenths of the locks are patented.
– Patents run out.
– If the locks are patented, then, of course, we cannot interfere. I desire it to be distinctly understood that I shall vote against this additional suggestion for the operation of the duty by proclamation, which I regard as a most undesirable element in the Tariff, for the reason, apart from others, that it places the power of taxation in the hands of the Administration.
– Of Parliament !
– Parliament comes in afterwards, but it is the Government who take the initiative, and ask the two Houses to pass a resolution. The principle was introduced in the last Tariff in connexion with metals, but then there was some justification for an unusual departure - a justification which does not present itself now. However, if sufficient evidence can be adduced that protection is desirable, I shall vote for a direct duty, although I cannot support the conditional arrangement requested.
– The honorable member for Kooyong may be undera misapprehension as regards moving for a lower duty. If a vote is taken upon the requested amendment, it will decide the matter either in the affirmative or negative. If the honorable member for Kooyong desires a lower duty, he should move his amendment as a modification of the request.
– It is difficult for honorable members who were not here on Friday to know’ exactly what is proposed. I understand that this Chamber, when the Tariff was previously before it, passed a 5 per cent. duty upon locks. The Senate decided that locks should be free at present, but that 20 per cent. might be imposed in the future by a joint proclamation following upon an address by the two Houses. I take it that the Senate had no evidence before it of what was being done in the way of manufacturing locks in the Commonwealth, but anticipated that at some time in the future evidence might be placed before Parliament of the initiation of the industry, at which time a protection of 20 per cent. should be imposed. We are in the same position in this Chamber. The Minister says he has given us information, but it is of the most vague and flimsy character. He tells us that he has only just discovered that four men are engaged! in Tasmania in making locks, and believes that a contract has been entered into for ; a thousand locks. He was corrected by one of. his colleagues, who said the quantity was 3,000. We” have a mere statement that that contract has been entered into. Those people had every opportunity of going be- . fore the Tariff Commission, but I understand that no evidence was given to that body on the subject. We now have a mere ex parte statement that four men are engaged in Tasmania, and we are asked on that ground to reject the condition which the Senate has suggested.
– I did not say that only four individuals were employed. I said there were four makers, and that other men are employed.
– The Minister might have ascertained the names of the manufacturers and given the Committee a little more information as to the extent to which the industry has been developed. The Senate’s proposal isvery sensible. It practically says, “ We do not approve of a 5 per cent. duty at present, because we do not believe that locks are being made in the Commonwealth. We propose that locks,’ being a necessity in the building trade, should be free ; but, if at some future time it is made clear to the two Houses that the industry has been started, it should be open to Parliament to impose a duty of 20 per cent.” It would be equally easy for both Houses to do that by-and-by, and I do not think we ought to do it until the Minister has given us clearer and more definite evidence of the existence of these manufacturers. Honorable members may imagine that the condition attached by the Senate to the proposed duty is now before the Committee; but I understand that the Minister wants us to vote outright for a duty of 20 per cent. without any condition attached.
– I was asked to do that on Friday.
– I had not the advantage of being here on Friday, and therefore I did not know it. The honorable member for Dalley has taken objection to the condition on the ground that it gives the Senate a power over Money Bills which it did not previously possess.
– A power of initiation.
– It gives the Senate no power of initiation, because the motion for an address has first to be introduced into this House by a Minister. In the ordinary way a Customs matter would be introduced into this Chamber by the Minister of Trade and Customs, and would go on to the Senate for confirmation. As this House could not impose a tax without the consent of the Senate, subject to its power of suggestion, the suggested proclamation would give that Chamber no greater power than it has at present. It simply means that it will be within the power of the Minister to introduce a 20 per cent. duty on locks without bringing down a Customs Tariff Bill, or, in fact, a fiscal Bill of any kind. All that will be required will be a resolution of the two Houses giving effect to the condition which the Senate has attached to the duty requested.
– And that procedure will in many cases prevent a proposal to amend the Tariff.
– The Minister is quite right. The introduction of the proclamation will obviate the necessity of introducing a fiscal Bill, which would perhaps give opportunities for the adding of further items to the Tariff. If such a Bill were brought in we should be opening up the whole question again. If the Treasurer regards the condition suggested by the Senate as so desirable, I do not see whyhe should not move to adopt the request giving him power in the future to ask Parliament to issue the proclamation so soon as he is able to give definite information as lb the existence of the industry.
– I prefer to see it done that way myself.
– Then I ask the
Treasurer to propose it in that way.
– ‘That was objected to. That is the trouble.
– If the Minister sees that those objections are not forthcoming now, he will know that the Committee is in the mood to have the’ Senate’s proposal put before it. I suggest to the Minister, in order to remove any misunderstanding, that he should out the Senate’s proposal before the Committee, and give us an opportunity of saying whether or not we approve of it. If we adopt it we shall make locks free at present, and leave it open for a duty of 20 per cent. to be imposed in the future when both Houses pass the address.
.- I did not have the advantage of hearing the Treasurer’s speech just now, but I understand that the Government nowpropose to impose duties of 20 and 15 per cent. straight out. If so, I shall support them. I shall not support the conditional suggestion of the Senate, for reasons which I gave last week. The Treasurer stated that four or five firms were engaged in lock making in Tasmania. His statement was rather indefinite, but the honorable member for Parkes suggested that only four or five persons were employed in the industry. It is not a question of whether only a few persons are engaged in it now. The question is whether the business is of such a character that it is likely to develop into something substantia] if we give it protection. That to me is the ruling question in nearly all these matters. Is the business worth giving protection to? If only four or five persons are engaged in making locks in Tasmania under freetrade conditions, that is no argument that we cannot have a considerable industry under a protection of 20 and 15 per cent. The fact that locks are made in the Commonwealth at all under free-trade conditions gives some hope that it is an industry worth developing. There is no particular difficulty in lock making. It is merely a question of the output - whether it is worth while going in for. There are a great many men who do casual work, such as bicycle repairing, lock repairing, saw sharpening, die making, and similar work. The lock business would fit iri very well with their usual occupation. If is worth our while to impose the duty suggested.
.- The most convenient way for the Minister to have moved in this matter would be to propose first that locks be free. Owing to the way in which the question has been put we may never get an opportunity to vote for or against, say, . a 5 per cent, duty on its merits. I, for instance, would prefer that locks should be made free, and failing that, if the duty is only to come into operation on a joint resolution of both Houses it ought to be the lowest duty, say the one which we previously fixed - 5 per cent. If I were to move that the figures “ 20 “ be excised with a view to the substitution of the figure “5,” I might prevent myself from voting afterwards that locks be made free. So I think that the safe old rule which we follow .when we are not considering requests from the Senate - that is to put the lower duty or no .duty first - is the one by which the Minister should have been guided. I hope still that he will give an opportunity to the Committee to express its opinion on the matter by voting in what I believe to be the orthodox way.
– The honorable member can submit a proposal.
– No. If paragraph b is put I cannot move that locks be made free without precluding honorable members who may wish to vote on the whole of the request from exercising their option. Some of them may not wish to vote for a duty of 5 per cent., and others may wish to vote for free locks. I think it must be clear to honorable members that the best course has not been pursued to enable them to express their alternative choice. As re gards the’ principle of postponing the imposition of the duty I do not say .that it cannot be done - I believe that it can be done - but it is a very bad principle to adopt. It . is a very dangerous thing for a branch of the Parliament to enter into a sort of moral obligation with certain persons that if they start an- industry they will be given a duty.
– It is binding a future Parliament.
– It is absolutely’ fettering the judgment of future Parliaments. Although that Parliament would be omnipotent, still it might be thrown in its face, as it has been in connexion with the sugar industry in Queensland, if it should, attempt to modify or excise the duty, that the manufacturers started the industry under a sort of moral obligation that it would be protected, and it would be very difficult to resist that logic.
.- When the Treasurer is asked for information on various items he always regulates his voice to a carefully modulated minor key. He utters . his replies in such a pianissimo tone that it is almost impossible for honorable members on this side to gather clearly their purport. But I understand from his explanation that he asserts that in Tasmania there are three or four manufacturers who are making these locks. He might have told us their names, where their works are situated, the number of hands whom they employ, the wages which they pay, and various other particulars. Businesses which have been established for any length of time should be easily able :o furnish the honorable gentleman with that statistical information, and he in his turn could afford some enlightenment to the Committee. As it is, we are simply asked to accept his unsupported statement.
– Excuse me; the statement is true. .
– It may be true enough - I am not questioning the veracity of the Treasurer - but it is due to the Committee when it is asked bv the honorable gentleman to reverse its decision and to imnose duties which previously it refused to, levy, that he should give fuller information than he has supplied. It may be that he has been misinformed. The information which he may have received may not be reliable. Surely it is only a fair thing for him to ask his informants, if they have not already furnished these very necessary par- ticulars, to supply them in order that he can inform the Committee. I also understand that he stated that the Government of Tasmania Had given to one of these firms an order for, I think, 1,000 locks.
– One thousand or more. I was not quite sure as to the exact number.
– I know that another honorable member corrected his statement, and said that the order was for 3,000 locks.
– The number does not matter. If it is a fact that the State Government is purchasing locks from the firms, their quality ‘is assured.
– If that is so, surely the Treasurer should be in a position to afford to the Committee the information for which’ I have been asking !
– I may tell the honorable member that I got most of my information - that is more details - from the honorable member for Bass.
– It is a pity that the honorable member for Bass is not here to furnish this information, which the Minister in charge of the Tariff appears not to possess.
– He is not here today, but he is not often absent from his place.
– That is true; but the Treasurer seems unable or unwilling - 1 do’ not know which - to furnish information.
– Not unwilling. I do not remember the details exactly as the honorable member for Bass told them to me.
– Is it a fair thing for the Treasurer to expect the Committee, when he admits that he does not know the details and is not so familiar with them as is the honorable member for Bass, who is away, to agree to his proposition? Is it not a singularly unfortunate thing that the honorable member should happen to be away when this” particular alleged Tasmanian industry is asking for heavy taxes to be put on the purchasers of locks throughout the Commonwealth, and that in his absence the Treasurer should not be able to supply the information which is necessary to enable the Committee to judge whether it is right and proper to accept the Senate’s request, or a modification of it, or to adhere to its original determination? Is the honorable gentleman not also aware that most locks of a- superior character are the subject of patent rights?
– Yes; presently, I shall have some specimens of the Tasmanian locks to show to the honorable member.
– I doubt very much whether if the industry were started here we should be supplied with the best type of locks. It might be only the common or garden variety which the firms would manufacture, because they could not make, for example, Yale or Chubb locks.
– The locks which the honorable member for -Bass had here were tumbler locks, equal in finish and everything else to Chubb locks.
– I did not see them. If, however, such locks are made here already without this high duty, it is a very good thing. If we are asked to agree to an increase of the duties, the provision for the issue of a proclamation, which is suggested by the Senate, though I regard ‘it as an encroachment on the powers of this Chamber, is, to some extent, a safeguard against the imposition of high rates. I am not prepared to vote for the request.
– I thinkthat the Government would be wise if they dropped this ‘”’ flapdoodle “ about the duties coming into operation on a date to be fixed by proclamation on the authority of a joint address from both Houses, and proposed straight away a duty of 20 per cent. This afternoon the honorable member for Bass happens to be absent, but recently I saw in his possession some locks which were made at Launceston. I took two of them to Queensland, where lockmakers declared them to be equal to Chubb locks. If honorable members’ give to a Collingwood industry a protection of 50 per cent., surely to goodness they will grant to a Tasmanian industry a protection of 20 per cent. ! I do not agree with the honorable member for Lang that the Tasmanianmade locks are the common or. garden variety. I look upon the Australian mechanic, as second to none in the world. A Chubb lock is not a patent lock. It is a tumbler lock. Further, the locks exhibited in this Chamber by the honorable member for Bass Were quite equal in every respect to the imported article. Their finish was simply superb.
– The Treasurer told us nothing about that.
– Because the information is not contained in his blue-book. Therefore he does noi know anything about the matter. I merely ask honorable members to give this Tasmanian industry a chance. I have been informed by the honorable member for Bass that additional experts are being brought out from the Old Country with a view to enlarging the operations of the lock-making industry. in Tasmania. Honorable members are always anxious to grant protection to a Collingwood industry, but so far I have not heard a single Victorian representative say a word on behalf of this Tasmanian industry. .
– The’ honorable member for Kooyong spoke in its favour.
– He spoke against it. I ask the honorable member for Kooyong whether he is willing to grant a protection of 20 per cent, to this Tasmanian industry ?
– I am prepared to grant it a 15 per cent, duty under the general Tariff and a 10 per cent, rate under the Tariff for the United Kingdom.
– I suppose that the honorable member has arranged matters with the Opposition corner party. I trust that honorable members will extend to this Tas.manian industry the same consideration that they would extend to a Victorian industry. A duty oi 15 per cent, is not protective in its incidence, and nobody knows that better than does the honorable member for. Kooyong, who has recently become famous as one’ of the leading financial authorities of the world, his name being coupled in that connexion with the names of the honorable member for Mernda, ‘ the honorable member for Darwin, and the right honorable member for Swan. Yet the honorable member for Kooyong is so much of an Australian that he will extend to a Tasmanian industry duties of only 1.5 per cent, under the general Tariff and of 10 per cent, under the Tariff for the United Kingdom.
– He will vote for duties of 20 per cent, and 15 per cent, after the honorable member’s speech.
– Is the honorable member for Wimmera also in favour of those duties? All I ask is that the same opportunities shall be granted to a small industry in Tasmania - which has every prospect of developing into one of the greatest industries in the Commonwealth - that would be extended to a Victorian enterprise. I hope that the honorable member for Kooyong will vote for a duty of 20’ per cent, under the general Tariff.
– I am very sorry that honorable members of the Opposition -corner desire to reduce the duty upon this item, because “the industry which it would benefit is not located in Victoria. It seems to me that the selfishness of some Victorian representatives - especially its protectionist mem’bers - is beyond human understanding. I have consistently voted for the imposition of duties which will materially, assist Victorian manufactories. The representatives of this State admit that since the enactment of the Federal Tariff most of the Tasmanian factories have had to close their doors, because they could not successfully compete with the Victorian industries, which were equipped with more uptodate plants, and which were better organized. Yet when we are in- a position to extend a little help to a Tasmanian industry they are willing to grant it the benefit of a duty of only 5 per cent. It seems to me that upon the last day - the clay of Judgment-
– The day of election is the day of judgment.
– Let us hope that upon election day these honorable members will meet with the condemnation of the protectionist electors of Victoria for their action towards the weak s’ister “State of Tasmania.
– Are locks made in the honorable member’s constituency?
– The honorable member is a better authority upon dead-locks. We must recollect that the great Waltham Watch Company started operations in a very small way. If protection had then been withheld from that enterprise on the ground that it was so very small and unimportant there would have been no Waltham Watch Company in existence to-day. The Elgin Watch Company also started operations at Illinois in a very humble way. All these great enterprises must have small beginnings. Some honorable members who are themselves possessed of ample means are disposed to forget the struggling lock-makers of Tasmania. They have no pride of ancestry, or hope of posterity. Here is an industry which j according to the honorable member for Maranoa, is manufacturing locks equal to the best imported article.
– Will the honorable member tell us the name of the Tasmanian firm of lock-makers?
– It is a Launceston firm.
– What is the name of it?
– I am not here to advertise individuals. I was not sent here as an advertising agent. Only the other day, a Tasmanian manufacturer was unfairly treated in regard to the duty on paraffine wax, and now the honorable member for Parkes wishes” to deal harshly with another, because he does not know his name. Will he vote for the duty if I give the name?
– The. honorable member has only just ascertained it from the honorable member for Gippsland.
– I hope that honorable members opposite will never be called to account for the great injustice which they are about to do to a man who has established a useful industry in the Commonwealth. The little State of Tasmania made no bargains when she entered the union. She came in with all that she had.
– Did she send all that she had?
– She has a lot in reserve, though she has sent men to re- ‘ present her who are the equal of any in the House, who take a second place to none ; men of experience, training, and qualification; while she has sent one who has travelled a little more than most other honorable members. Of course, the main Opposition is anti-everything - anti-Australian, anti-Christian-
– Order !
– The members of the Corner Party were sent here by the Agc, on the strength of the representations made by them as protectionists, and I ask them to stand to their guns.
– Why this attack on them? Not one of them has said that he is going to vote against the Government proposal
– The honorable member for Kooyong, who is the father and leader of the Party, spoke to me in the fulness of his soul.
– Speaking for the Corner Party is a risky business.
– Yes, because one never knows when he has them. Some times they pull one way and sometimes another, but always for themselves.
– Order !
– I admit that this has not much to do with the issue before the Committee; but in Parliament one never talks to the question. I ask the Treasurer, as a Tasmanian native, not to surrender in this matter. I wish to thank the honorable member for Maranoa for having helped.
– How did the honorable member square him?
– He was born square, he will die square, and will be buried square. I speak as a representative of the State in the Union which is foremost for beauty, productivity, intellectuality
– And spuds.
– And as a feeder of the Commonwealth. Had Moses been able to find such potatoes as it produces, the children of Israel would not have starved in the wilderness.
– It has been stated that locks cannot be made here ; but they can and are made successfully in Tasmania.
– Then why did the honorable member allow the Committee to vote a duty of only 5 per cent. On locks?
– At the time, I was not aware that locks were made here; but in proof that they are made here, I now produce some samples made in Tasmania.
– Locks of what kind?
– The honorable member can get in Tasmania any kind Of locks he wants. Now that honorable members know that locks are made in that State, I hope that they will vote for the duties requested by the Senate.
– Will the honorable member swear that the locks which he has were made in Tasmania?
– To reply to a speech like that of the honorable member for Darwin, in which he answered effectively objections which were not raised, would require one to traverse too wide a ground. I rise only to point out that if the Senate’s request is divided, the opinion of the Committee may not be accurately expressed. I think that it would be better to deal with the request as a whole, when, if it be determined not to make the requested amendment, it will, I take it, be in order to move, as a modification, any duty.
– Had any objection been’ raised when it was suggested, that we should deal with the request as three separate proposals, I should not have allowed the division; but, having done so, I must put each question separately, unless the Treasurer withdraws his motion. If he did that, he could move, as a modification, the omission of the stipulation regarding the proclamation.
– - It is to be deplored that the honorable member for Bass, who has specially studied this question, was not able to place samples of locks before” the Committee when this matter was last under discussion. As a consequence, honorable members acted in ignorance ‘of .the true position. I have gone very carefully through the samples submitted by .him, and find that they compare favorably with imported locks. They have been made by a Tasmanian firm, which I am glad to learn has secured a large order from the Government of the State. We know that that Government does not throw away its money, but that it administers its affairs in the! most economical ‘fashion. Every kind of lock is made - not merely padlocks and door, locks for heavy fastenings, but locks for presses and drawers as well. The Mount Lyell Company, about whose affairs the honorable member for Kooyong knows something, has also given orders to the firm.
– The firm’s work is done well.
– The Mount Lyell Company has been so satisfied with the locks made for it that the honorable member for Bass says it has repeated its orders time and again. Seeing that the industry is established, and is making locks which compare favorably with imported locks, I hope that the Committee will give it the encouragement which it deserves.
.- I do not think it worth while to split hairs, and as I have incontestable evidence that the locks made in Tasmania are satisfactory, I shall support the proposed duties.
Motion agreed to.
Requested amendment made.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the requested amendment, inserting the following provision, be not made - “ To come into operation on a date to be fixed by proclama tion. 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 inthe Commonwealth; but until the issue of such proclamation, Locks free.”
– We all agree to the omission of the provision, and I hope that similar provisions will be left out of other parts of the Tariff.
– I agree with what was said by the honorable member for Parkes; but I would not take this action if the Committee had not made the requested amendment fixing the rates of duty at 20 and 15 per cent. If I cannot get rates of duty which are to take effect at once, I shall accept rates to come into operation later on. I agree that it may prevent an undue disturbance of the Tariff, and is desirable in many respects.
– Why should not the same condition be attached to every item, then?
– I do not wish to enter into details, but I desire it to be understood that I should not be agreeable to take a similar course in regard to other similar requests.
Motion agreed to.
Requested amendment not made.
Requested amendments in item 206 (Pins), and item 207 (Platinum), made.
Item 217. Standards, steel fencing of alt lengths, and Pillars, Wedgers, patent, for Droppers and Standards, ad val. (General Tariff) 5 per cent. ; (United Kingdom) free.
Request. - Leay,e out the words “ steel fencing o.f all lengths and Pillars,” and insert in lieu thereof the words ;” and Pillars, steel fencing of all lengths.” Make the duties (General Tariff) 17^ per cent., (United Kingdom) 12^ per cent.
– I move -
That the requested amendments in wording be modified to make the item read as follows : - “Steel Standards and Pillars of all lengths for fencing ; patent Wedgers for Droppers and Standards.”
I have been furnished with a memorandum to the effect that the Vice-President of the Executive Council in the Senate promised that if possible a proposal should be made in this Chamber to make the item read according to the modification which I have proposed.
.- This is a proposal which largely affects those areas of country where timber is scarce, and the white ants are troublesome. I do not see why we should impose duties of 17½ per cent. and 12½ per cent. on fencing material, in view of the fact that thousands of miles of country in Australia cannot be fenced without iron or steel standards-. It appears to me that an attempt is being made to sneak in a high duty on the fencing material that is an absolute necessity in some parts of Australia. Certainly, reasons ought to be given by the Treasurer as to why we should depart from our original intention of making the item 5 per cent. under the general Tariff and free in regard to the United Kingdom.
– I understand that fencing standards are usually made of iron, not of steel. .
– I am not anxious about the word “steel.”
– What is meant by a patent wedger, and what does it matter whether the wedger imported for fences is patented or not?
.- I see no necessity for inserting the word “steel.” The word “Standards” by itself is sufficient. Wooden standards are not imported. But the Minister has given no reason why we should increase the duty. There is no work involved in making standards. It is merely a matter of punching two or three holes in lengths of steel or iron. That cannot be called a process of manufacture, and it is not worth while to impose duties of 17½ per cent. and 12½ per cent.
.- I had rather see the words . “ iron or steel “ placed before the word “ Standards,” so as to leave no possibility of misapprehension.
-“ Steel “ indicates iron under the definition clause of the Bill.
– It is just aswell that that should be made clear; because the tricks played by the. Customs officers are something like those which the heathen Chinee played upon Bill Nye - they are “peculiar” at times. I have seen some of the Customs definitions which are works of art.
– Works of art or artfulness ?
– They are works of artfulness, but not on the part of the officers. They think it right to squeeze as much as they can out of the public. I move as an amendment to the proposed modification -
That before the word “ Standards “ the word “ Iron “’ be inserted.
– What are patent wedgers ?
– They are used for fencing. Unlike the honorable member for Boothby, I think that there is good reason to fear the importation of wooden standards for fencing purposes.
– We are willing to agree to the honorable member’s proposal.
– Then I do not wish to flog a dead horse, and shall withdraw my amendment on the understanding that the Treasurer will incorporate it in his proposal.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Proposed modification, by leave, withdrawn.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the requested amendments in wording be modified to make the itemread as follows - “Iron Standards and Pillars of all lengths for fencing, Patent Wedgers for Droppers and Standards.”
.- I propose to move that the request be agreed to with a modification leaving out the word “patent” after the word “wedgers.”
– The use of the word “ wedgers “ without the word “ patent “ would be more comprehensive.
– It would make the provision much wider.
– Will the Treasurer accept my proposal ?
– I think that it would be better to allow the word “patent” to remain, although I do not consider that the omissionof the word would make a material difference.
– Since the Treasurer objects to my proposal, I shall not press it.
– I take it that the object of this requested amendment is to place all iron and steel material used for fencing upon a footing different from that of the material coming under item 170, which provides for a duty of 30 per cent. in respect of the general Tariff. Unless all iron and steel material used for fencing is specially included in this item, there is a danger of its being made dutiable at 30 per cent. under item 170, “Manufactures of Metals’.” That being so, the Senate has very properly requested the insertion of the word “ wedgers.” The question is why should the reduced duty requested by the Senate be limited to patent wedgers? Why should it not be applied to all wedgers used for fencing? I shall propose, later on, a modification providing for the omission of the word “ patent.”
.- I would point out that if steel fencing is a thing apart from standards and pillars, the effect of the amended proposal now made by the Treasurer is to bring steel fencing, which, under this request, would be dutiable at 17! per cent.,’ under another item in respect of which a duty of 30 per cent, is imposed. The Senate draws a distinction between standards and pillars and steel fencing.
– Steel fencing is a separate thing.
– Then I would point out that by the suggested modification, inserting the word “for” after the word “ pillars,” steel fencing will” be excluded from this requested amendment.
– Steel standards or pillars may, or may not, be brought in with steel fencing.
– The item, as it was originally passed by this House, covered steel fencing of all lengths, making it dutiable at 5 per cent, under the general Tariff, and free in the case of imports from the United Kingdom. The Senate has made a request still including in the item steel fencing of all lengths, but proposing that it shall be dutiable at 17J per cent, under the general Tariff and at 12 J per cent, in respect of imports from the United Kingdom. The effect of the modification now proposed by the Treasurer, however, will be to omit steel fenc- ing from this item and to make it dutiable at 3Q per cent. Surely the Treasurer does not desire that iron and steel . standards shall be dutiable at 17 J per cent, and that steel fencing shall be dutiable at 30 per cent. ?
– Why not?
– That would be a most extraordinary proposal.
– What is meant by steel fencing?
– A great deal of steel fencing is imported without the standards.
– If we had been told that this re- arrangement was designed to make steel fencing dutiable at 30 per cent, I do not think that we should have expressed agreement with it.
– I think that it will be sufficient to modify the request by inserting the word “ Iron “ before the word “ Standards,” and to make no other alteration in the wording.
– That would be sufficient. 1 suggest that we deal first of all with the proposal to modify the request by inserting the word “ Iron “ before the word “ Standards.”
– Is it the pleasure of the Committee that I put first of all the proposed modification providing for the insertion of the word “Iron’””?
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
– Before that is done, I should like to point out that if was suggested to me by the honorable member for Maranoa that wooden standards are very largely used,- and that, as we have splendid timber in Australia suitable for the purpose, we should limit the standards referred to in this item to those made of iron.
– Has the Treasurer heard of wooden standards being imported ?
– I have not. We have in Australis, plenty of timber suitable for the purpose. I do not wish to agree hastily to any proposal,, and, in consequence, to be called upon, hereafter to recommit the request. My desire is to ascertain exactly what will be the effect of 1 he insertion of the word “ Iron.” The difficulty is that the word “ standard “ includes wooden as well as iron and steel standards, and I do not wish to withdraw the protection, which should be afforded to wooden standards made here. In framing the Tariff, in the first instance, all thesematters were very carefully gone into, and there was a’ good reason for the wording selected for the various items. Unless I am able to see clearly the effect of any modification of the wording of an item as originally submitted I am not disposed toagree to it. On looking into the matter now, my feeling is that I should adhere tothe word “standards.”
– But this item . is under metals and machinery and cannot possibly refer to wooden standards.
– If it cannot refer to wooden standards there is no necessity for inserting the word “iron.”
– Exactly, and I shall ask leave to amend my proposed” modification by leaving out the word’ “iron.’-‘
– 1 agree that if the item cannot refer to wooden standards there is no necessity for the word “ iron.”
– I ask that the word “ iron “ be omitted from my proposed modification.
Modification amended accordingly.
.- I wish to have steel fencing included as well as standards and pillars, and I therefore move -
That the proposed modification be amended by inserting after the word “fencing” the (words “steel fencing of all lengths and”.
– 1 ask the Committee not to agree to the right honorable gentleman’s amendment. This steel fencing’ is manufactured here and is provided for elsewhere. To admit it free would be to place local manufacturers of steel fencing at a great disadvantage and to place- the labour employed in the manufacture of such fencing locally at a much greater disadvantage.
– The honorable member introduced the proposal himself.
– The honorable gentlem:iii made a mistake in doing so.
– And that was stated at the time’.
– Then why did not. the Minister alter it?
– Because I did not propose to recommit any item. If people require this class of fencing let the raw material be imported and the manufacturing of the fencing done here.
– Who uses it, and what is it used for?
– If is ornamental fencing used by the wealthier people for fencing round gardens and parks. It should not be placed in the same category as pillars and standards which are used with all classes of wire fencing.
– I’ do not think the honorable gentleman can alter it now, as the Senate has not proposed any amendment of the words “ steel fencing of all lengths.”
– We can modify the Senate’s requested amendment in any way we please.
– If this steel fencing is limited strictly to ornamental fencing used to enclose private parks no one can object to its being dutiable, but the Treasurer at first proposed that it should be admitted free.
– It is used on pastoral areas.
– Not this ornamental fencing?
– Then those who use it should pay duty on it. I ask the Committee, not- to agree to the amendment proposed by the right honorable member for East Sydney.
– I rise to a point of order. I submit that it is not competent for the Committee to leave out the words “ steel fencing of all lengths,” seeing that they have not been amended in any way by the Senate. They were in the item as it was sent from this House to the Senate, and the item has been returned bv the Senate with these words still in it.
– I point out to the honorable member that . the Senate’s requested amendment is to leave out the words. “ steel fencing of all lengths and pillars,” and to insert “ and pillars, steel fencing of all lengths.” The Senate’s requested amendment transposes the words referred to, and it is quite competent for the Treasurer to move any modification affecting the words dealt with in the Senate’s requested amendment.
– My point is that the Senate has sent these words back exactly as they were passed bv this Committee previous,!)’. We passed the words “ steel fencing of all lengths “ as One portion of the item, and the words “ and pillars “ as another. As the item is sent back to us by the. Senate, we have still the words w and pillars,” then a comma, and then the words “ steel fencing of all lengths’.” These latter words have nothing to do with the word “ pillars.” My contention is that it is not competent for this Committee to deal with any part of an item which the Senate has not suggested should be amended.
– Honorable members are under a misapprehension, due to the fact that the Minister has given a wrong explanation of this matter. These words “steel fencing of all lengths” were originally intended to be merely a qualification of the word “standards.” Elsewhere we have an example of the kind in the use of the words “ Steel, roughed shaped for chaffcutter and other knives.” It was never contemplated that steel fencing of all lengths should be admitted free. I do not think that we have ever placed ornamental fencing’ on the free list. What we did place on the free list were pillars and standards.
If the Minister will refer to the officers of the Department, he will find that duty has been charged on such fencing. Honorable senators in another place made a mistake in trying to amend the wording of the item as it passed this House, and observing their error subsequently desired that a correction should be made here.
– The Senate’s requested amendment leaves the wording of the item as awkward as it was before. They had only to say “ standards and pillars for steel fencingof all lengths.”
– That was discovered before the Bill left the Senate, and our attention is called to it. The Min ister is now trying to amend the wording of the item to give effect to what was originally intended, only he did not properly explain the matter, and honorable members have been given the impression that we have been admitting ornamental fencing free, though we have never done so.
– That is the true explanation of the matter.
.- After the explanation given by the honorable member for North Sydney, I am quite satisfied. I understand now that steel fencing was never intended to be included in this item. I was afraid that something was about to be dropped which was previously included in the item, but as that is not so, I ask leave to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment of modification (Mr. Reid’s), by leave, withdrawn.”
.- I understood that there was some proposal to leave out the word “ patent.”
– I said that I preferred to retain that word.
– These wedgers are required for fencing that is not ornamental fencing. These are cheap fences; and the question before us is a most important one.
– This is the most mixed-up item I have ever seen !
– I should prefer honorable members with more knowledge than myself of the necessities of the outside settlers to deal with this item; but I know enough to realize that these articles are practically the raw material of ‘ some of the hard-pressed pioneers, who certainly deserve as much consideration at the hands of this National Committee as has been) extended to’ others. We have made a number of raw materials free because they affect the daily avocation of voters in the great cities ; and I think that those out back, who cannot easily organize themselves politically, are worthy of as much encouragement as those in the great centres of population.
– Will the honorable member withdraw his opposition if it is shown that outback settlers do not use these articles ?
– If it is shown that outback settlers do not use these patent wedgers, I shall not resist the duty ; butI believe that these articles are used in outlying districts. I hope that honorable members who are. intimately acquainted with the circumstances and the struggles of our settlers will see that justice is done.
.- The Treasurer has told us that this duty affects only ornamental fencing used by well-to-do persons. I do not think that the Minister would deliberately make a statement with the intention of deceiving the Committee ; but ] can assure honorable members that there are hundreds of tons of this material used every year to enclose holdings in places where there is no timber, or where the white ant scourge is very severe.
– Steel fencing?
– Any quantity. The A section of the Tariff Commission put these articles on the free list, whereas the B section, singularly enough, recommended a duty of 15 per cent. In a district recently opened up in South Australia, I venture to say that tons of these materials are being used, owing to the difficulty in obtaining wood fencing. The steel fencing is lighter to cart, lasts much longer, and, on the whole, comes cheaper than wood, and it is used in country of the very poorest class.
– It was never intended that the words should be taken in the sense in which they were accepted in the first instance; and it is in consequence of the wording being wrong, that the alteration is made.
– That is to say, it was the intention of the Minister to put a duty on these articles.
– Then we understand that the object is to impose duties of 17½ per cent. and 12½ per cent. on every class of fencing used in the shape of iron or steel ?
-i withdrew my amendment on the statement that this fencing was used only for gardens and ornamental railings. If it is used for settlers’ purposes, I have been induced to withdraw the amendment under a wrong statement.
– It is not used for settlers’ purposes.
– I protest against duties of 17½ per cent. and 12½ per cent. being imposed merely for the sake of affording employment in cutting the material into lengths and punching holes. There is no industry in the sense of the manufacture of the standard or the steel ; and I venture to say that a boy, with a punching machine, could turn out loads. The proposed duty would seriously handicap a number of people who use this kind of fencing, not because they desire to do so, but because they are forced to.
– Because they cannot get timber.
– The honorable member who interjects is a protectionist, arid he admits that this fencing is used because settlers cannot procure timber. I suppose, however, that, because 1 am a free-trader, the honorable member will take no notice of my protest; butI urge honorable members to be very careful before they inflict a great injury on a large number of settlers, who occupy the very poorest class of country. Even on the South Australian railways the Government have been forced, in the absence of wood material, to use this very class of fencing, and my vote will not, therefore, be given for a duty.
– This is an item of the same class as wire netting.
– It has nothing to do with wire netting.
– The Treasurer is quite wrong in the idea that this material is used only for fancy fencing. Not only on the South Australian railways, but all over the country immense quantities are in use for ordinary fencing, simply owing to the fact that, in certain localities, no suitable timber can be found. In sandy country, with poor soil and stunted trees, and where, perhaps, the white ants prevail, as in the north, such fencing is an absolute necessity. Such is the case in the Northern Territory, and in the northern part of Queensland.
– Do the settlers use steel fencing?
– Settlers can use either iron or steel, and, if they can get the latter at a suitable figure, they prefer it.
– The honorable member knows that settlers do not use steel fencing.
– I know that at the present time there is on the market a fencing wire made very largely of steel, which is, of course, a superior kind of iron, and much more serviceable. This kind of fencing is used in immense quantities in carrying wire netting ; and, if the Treasurer is desirous of promoting settlement - of doing something for the man on. the land-
– Do not talk. any more about the man on the land.
– If the Treasurer will place this article on the free list I shall sit down. I cannot understand the Committee supporting the imposition of the proposed duties.
– I hope the Committee will not agree to the proposed increased duty, which appears to be most monstrous in view of the fact that this fencing is largely used in many parts of Australia where wood is scarce or non-existent, or where, if wood can be used, it is liable to be swept away by fire at any time. I was recently talking to a man who, within the last few months, in the north-west of Western Australia, has three times had his wooden fencing eaten away by white ants, which not only destroy the posts, but, by reason of some acid which they deposit, destroy the wire. This, of course, would not happen if steel standards and droppers are used. I can assure honorable members that, years ago, hundreds of miles of steel fencing were used, and similar fencing is being used to-day in South Australia, without the aid of one piece of wood. It is also used where there is danger of the rabbit-proof fencing being destroyed by fire. I hope the Committee will not agree to the proposed duty, which would be an unjustifiable tax.
– On this motion we are dealing only with the wording.
– Does the Treasurer mean to say that he will not ask us to agree to the duty?
– I do not mean to say anything of the sort.
– If so, that would settle the question. I should like the Treasurer to be reasonable for once, and give the people who are holding the back-blocks a show. I hope the item will be left as it was before.
Proposed modification of wording of item, as amended, agreed to.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) put -
That the requested amendment, making the duties on item 217 (Standards, &c.), ad val. (General Tariff) 17½ per cent. ; (United Kingdom)12½ per cent. be made.
The Committee divided.
Majority … … 4
Question so resolved in the negative.
Requested amendment not made.
Item222. Steel and Steel-rimmed Wheels of over 18 inches diameter in the tread, for trucks and waggons, and all steel parts for such wheels, on and after 30th November, 1907, ad val. (General Tariff) 5 per cent.; (United Kingdom) free.
Request. - Leave out “18 “ and insert “ 30.”
– I desire to move -
That the words “ and Steel-rimmed “ be left out, and that after the word “Wheels” the letters “ n.e.i.” be inserted.
– I cannot accept the amendment foreshadowed by the Treasurer. The amendment requested by the Senate merely alters the diameter from 18 to 30 inches.
– Cannot we modify the request ?
– We can agree or disagree with the request, or alter the number of inches in the diameter. But if I were to allow the honorable member to move the amendment he has indicated, we could go back on any item. If I permitted the Treasurer to move in the way he desires, the Committee could go back over the whole of the items, the Senate could do the same, and there would be no finality in the matter.
– I wanted to modify the request in a way that honorable members opposite would probably have preferred. As the Chairman has ruled that I cannot do so, I am placed in the position of having to move that the requested amendment be made.
– The Senate has made a request that the duties on steel and steelrimmed wheels of over 30 inches diameter in the tread be 5 per cent. and free. Could you, sir, not accept this modification of the request, that the duties on steel wheels of over 30 inches diameter should be 5 per cent. and free, but that the duties on steelrimmed wheels of over 15 or 18 inches diameter should be 5 per cent. and free? That is to say, that all steel wheels under 30 inches diameter should be subject to the higher duty, and that all steel-rimmed wheels under 15 or 20 inches diameter, or whatever number of inches might be decided upon, should be subject to the higher duty. That seems to me to be a modification of the request. It agrees with the Senate as regards one line of wheels, and makes a modification as regards the other line.
.- I take it that the object is to separate the two classes of wheels - the one which is used for locomotive purposes and is not made here from the other which is made here. I understood that the amendment which the Minister was about to propose was a modification of the Senate’s request. The question now is whether the diameter in the tread shallbe 18 or 30 inches. If honorable members adopt the larger diameter they will tax all the wheels which are used on the narrow-gauge railways which exist in every State but the two large States.
– Not only ‘that; but on the narrow-gauge lines of the coal companies.
– It appears that what is accepted by the Railways Commissioners of the different States is not a steel wheel but a wrought-iron wheel with a steel rim. Ordinary wheels for other purposes are made here up to a diameter of 30 inches - and made plentifully, I believe - of cast steel or cast iron, but without a steel rim. The amendment which I understood the Minister desired to propose was one to differentiate between the two classes of wheels.
– That is what I wanted to do.
.- The Treasurer did not make that quite clear.
– I did.
– No. The suggestion of the honorable member for Newcastle would, I think, be perfectly in order. The item deals with two kinds of wheels. A uniform diameter for those two kinds was fixed by us, and an alteration of the diameter is suggested by the Senate. Surely it would be open to the Committee to accept an alteration of the diameter as to one kind but not as to the other kind? The effect of the request is to open up again the question of the diameter of steel wheels and steelrimmed wheels. I quite follow your ruling, sir, as to the other words of the item. I think that when you gave your ruling just now you had not before you the information which you now have, otherwise 1 feel sure that you would not have ruled as you did. I quite admit that there can be no alteration which does not turn on the question of the diameter. Only that question is raised,: but it is raised as to two kinds of wheels. Surely it is open to us to, if we like, modify the request of the Senate, which incidentally modifies our original proposition - to say that steelrimmed wheels shall be 18 inches diameter as we decided before, but that as regards steel wheels we accept the suggestion of the Senate to fix the diameter at 30 inches.
.- I hope that the Committee will see its way clear to make something like the alteration’ suggested by the Treasurer. I recognise that local manufacturers can cast steel wheels here in one piece, even up to per haps a larger diameter than 30 inches. They are made and used, I can say that they are good wheels, because I use them. I want the tyres of railway wheels which are not rolled or made in Australia and the centres which aire made out pf one piece of wrought steel admitted at a reasonable duty.
– Are these special wheels used with a diameter of under. 30 inches ?
– The class which is required for railway work is not made here to-day. I arn willing to agree to the request that as regards cast steel wheels for timber tramways or trolleys and that sort ‘ of work the diameter should be increased from 18 to 30 inches. But as regards what I call first-class railway wheels, as they are made to-day-
– That is, 43 inches diameter.
-NO The honorable member wants to tax the wheels for the railways of Queensland, South Australia, and Western Australia - even the tyres for repairing the wheels on the rolling-stock - at the rate of 35 or 40 per cent., which is out of all reason. Surely the States should be allowed to repair their railwaywaggons at a reasonable cost ! They cannot procure the tyres here. I acknowledge that the local manufacturers can cast steel wheels. They are making a good wheel in one piece with the tread and all. But wheel centres of the class which is required for railway waggons are not cast. Last year I bought over .£3.000 worth of steel wheels from Krupp’s. They are made of wrought steel in one piece; there is no welding or anything of that kind.
– Wrought iron.
– No; they are made of steel throughout - axles centres and rims - and bear the Government mark. If they were iron wheels this item would not apply to them.
– Yes, it would; because parts of the wheel are steel.
– The item refers to steel wheels and to all steel parts for such wheels.
– The word “ steel “ will have to come out.
– We do not want that, word’ to be taken out. What the Treasurer desires to do is merely to alter the order of the words of the item. I should like to know, sir, whether it will be in order Co alter the position of the words, but not the words themselves. We certainly do not want to take any step which would upset the railway business of Australia, and allow only the wheels for. use on the broadgauge railways of Victoria to come in at a low duty, while the wheels for use on narrow-gauge lines come in at a high duty. That would be grossly unfair. Why should a man who happens to use a wheel with a diameter of half-an-inch less than that of the wheel used by another man be taxed at a higher rate? All the produce that is carried on the railways has to go to the same market, no matter what kind of wheel is used. Icontend that we should not differentiate between wheels in that respect. I am quite willing to protect the local manufacturers in casting steel wheels of 30 inches diameter in the tread ; but the wheels to which I have referred are not cast. I hope that the Treasurer will try to put this matter right.
.- I rise to suggest how, in my opinion, the difficulty might be got over. If the Committee were to disagree with the request to increase the diameter to 30 inches, and to allow the item to stand as it was passed here, the Treasurer could then move this modification -
That would protect all steel cast wheels which are made here -
I do not know of any rule under which we could not send back a modification of that kind to the Senate for its consideration. If the Treasurer were to agree to that suggestion, it would overcome the difficulty. The request of the Senate allows wheels for the two large States with wide-gauge lines to come in free, but it is absolutely unfair to the States which have narrow-gauge lines. Cast wheels are made here. The wheels that are used on the railways may have cast steel centres. In New South Wales they are simply wrought steel, welded into practically one solid mass in a die by means of very heavy and expensive machinery,and will not be made here for goodness knows how many years.
– They have been made here.
– No. The local manufacturers have only made cast iron wheels. As regards anything which they can make, I am quite willing to agree to a duty of 30 per cent., but I am not prepared to impose a duty of 40 per cent. on an article which I know will not be. made here for perhaps fifty years.
– I move -
That the requested amendment be not made, but that the following modification be added to the item : -
And on and after 6th May,1908 -
Item 222. (a) Steel Wheels, n.e.i., of over 30 inches diameter in thetread, for trucks and waggons, and all steel parts for such wheels, ad val. (General Tariff), 5 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), free.
Steel-rimmed wheels of over18 inches diameter in the tread, for trucks and waggons, and all steel parts for such wheels ad val. (General Tariff), 5 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), free.
– I wish to point out to the Committee that if I had entertained the proposal of the Treasurer in the form in which he originally desired to submit it, I should have rendered it possible for honorable members to go back upon any particular item. To illustrate my meaning, I would refer honorable members to request No. 77 of the Senate which relates to item 165, and which appears on page 23 of the Schedule. At the end of paragraph a of that item the Senate has requested that certain words shall be added. If I were to allow honorable members to go back upon the earlier portion of that item I should open up ever so many different subjects for discussion. Then when the Schedule was returned to the other branch of the Legislature, the Senate would be afforded an opportunity to go back upon other items, and thus it would become impossible to reach finality. But as the proposal of the Treasurer has now been submitted, the position is entirely different, and as it relates practically to one request I intend to accept it.
Motion agreed to.
Requested amendment not made, but modification made.
Item 226. Wire, n.e.i., ad val. (General Tariff) 10 per cent. ; and on and after 16th November, 1907, free; (United Kingdom), free.
Request.- That after the letters “n.e.i.” the words “ , also woven wire measuring over 20 holes to the lineal inch “ be inserted.
– I move -
That the requested amendment be made.
When we come to deal with the duty to be imposed upon this item, I wish to make it apply from a certain date, because it was so intended at the time it was levied, and it is necessary to adopt that course to indemnify the Customs Department.
.- I hope that the Committee will not agree to the proposal of the Treasurer. This item relates to wire gauze such as is used in all battery screening. As honorable members are doubtless aware, this screening only lasts a very few hours. Its average life is less than a week. Many of the Kalgoorlie mines expend over , £300 per annum upon this screening. I desire to secure only a very slight alteration in the request. I wish, to substitute the figures “ 10 “ for the figures “ 20.” The item will then provide forwoven wire measuring over ten holes to the lineal inch.
– If we do that we might as well wipe out the request altogether.
– Surely the mining industry is deserving of some consideration. Simply because a few individuals are engaged in the manufacture of bird cages and rat-traps we ought not to interfere with a big industry like that of mining. If we agree to the Treasurer’s proposal, the material used upon all the Western Australian mines will be subjected to a very heavy duty under another item.
– The honorable member wishes to secure a lower duty.
– No. I desire that the rate levied under this item shall apply to the screening used in all mining batteries, and I want “ ten holes to the lineal inch “ substituted for “ twenty holes to the lineal inch.” The request is only a reasonable one. In this connexion we must recollect that there are many working miners in the Commonwealth who run their own batteries. These individuals are often located in remote places, where it is almost impossible for them to procure this woven wire from Melbourne or Sydney. The cost of carriage upon it from Fremantle to Geraldton and to place’s in the interior, constitutes a very severe tax.
– They will have to pay that tax no matter where the material comes from.
– But they would have to pay a heavier freight from Sydney to Fremantle than they would from London to Fremantle. .
– That is on account of the Shipping Trust.
– Unfortunately, anything that will benefit the mining industry is regarded by Victorian representatives as being opposed to the interests of the Commonwealth. I want them to listen to the voice . of reason and to substitute” ten holes to the lineal inch,” for “ twenty holes to the lineal inch.” That is all that is required.
– It is a lot, too.
-It is not very much.
I have received abouttwenty telegrams upon this subject. Directly this request was agreedto by the Senate, the Chamber of Mines of Western Australia wired to me protesting against it.
– That body declared that twenty holes to the lineal inch would satisfy it, and that proposal was carried in the Senate.
– Different classes of ore require different meshes of screening. After this request had been agreed to, it was clearly proved that there is as much netting used containing 100 holes to the square inch as there is netting containing 400 holes to the square inch. If there be one industry in Australia which should receive assistance at our hands it is that of mining. Even Labour members cannot urge that child labour is employed in this industry or that sweating is practised in connexion with it. As a matter of fact, it pays the highest wages in the world. Let us assist it to continue paying such wages. In Kalgoorlie and other places in Western Australia, the quality of the ore being mined is gradually deteriorating, and, consequently, this is not the time to unduly tax the industry. I venture to say that to mines within the “ golden mile,” in Kalgoorlie, the operation of the new duties levied under this Tariff will make a difference of nearly£100,000 a year.
– I think that the honorable member is “ stretching “ it a little. The mines do not pay much by way of duty upon their machinery.
– We are now asked to penalize one of the best industries in the Commonwealth. The miners in ‘ Western Australia are paid the highest wages in Australia. Our mine managers have not reduced their wages since 1893, when water was very scarce and provisions were dear. In some cases even higher wages are paid now than were paid at that time.
– That is not in accordance with my information.
– What I have stated is a fact, notwithstanding ‘ that the men are now getting their water free, whereas they used to have to pay heavily for it. Why should honorable members desire to injure the mining industry by taxing the screening that the stuff from the battery has to go through ? What I want is that gauze with a mesh 100 holes to the square inch should be allowed to come in duty free. The Government support the free admission of a material with a mesh running “ twenty holes to the lineal inch.” What is meant by that? There is not such a thing as a lineal inch of hole per square inch. I appeal to honorable members to help me in this respect, and I move -
Thatthe requested amendment be modified by leaving out the figures “ 20 “ with a view to insert in lieu thereof the figures “ 10.”
.- When this matter was last under discussion the honorable member for Fremantle received a telegram from Western Australia stating that some of the gauze used in connexion with the batteries there, had a mesh up to 900 holes to the square inch. The proposal with regard to admitting duty free gauze with a mesh twenty holes to the lineal inch was agreed to as a compromise. In my opinion if we were to agree to the honorable member’s amendment the result would simply be the free admission of all kinds of fly wire gauze which is dutiable now. I trust that the proposal of the Senate will be accepted.
– I desire to lay upon the table -
Memorandum re transfer of State Debts to the Commonwealth and Financial Arrangements connected therewith.
Public Debts of Australia, as at 30th June, 1907.
I regret- that it was not possible to table these papers earlier in the day. I have been wrestling with the Printing Office all day long, but the papers have only just arrived. I do not think that honorable members will desire me to read them, inasmuch as printed copies will be distributed during the evening. I also lay upon the table a large quantity of figures of great importance which I have had prepared in relation to our financial proposals. I wish to say that a few days ago the Prime Minister and myself attended at the Premiers’ Conference, when the Prime Minister urged upon the representatives of the States the necessity for the Commonwealth Parliament dealing with the question of old-age pensions at an early date. He explained the position taken up by the Government in that regard, and as far as I could judge, thePremiers were not adverse from any proposal which we are likely to make. The matter will be one for future discussion, but I thought it advisable to inform the House of the action taken by the Prime Minister on that occasion in relation to what I am sure is considered by all honorable members to be a matter of very great importance. I need only add that we hope that even before any final financial arrangement is come to between the Commonwealth and the States it will be possible for us to deal - in fact, there is a great probability of that being done -with the important question which I have mentioned. I conclude by moving-
That the papers be printed.
.- I desire to say-
– I did not understand that a debate would take place at this stage. If there is to be a debate, it will disarrange other business.
– There will be no long de bate, but I have a word or two to say, especially in regard to the old-age pensions proposal ; though I desire to see the papers which the Treasurer has laid upon the table before I make my remarks.
Sitting suspended from 6.32 to 7.45 p.m.
– I certainly do not wish to initiate a debate upon the paper just laid on the table, containing the financial proposals to be submitted by the Federal Ministry to the Conference of” State Premiers; but I desire to takeadvantage of this opportunity to make one or two observations. The first is that I very deeply regret that the Federal Government were not prepared with their scheme when the States Premiers assembled in this metropolis. The delay that has occurred has completely shipwrecked any prospect of usefulness on the part of the assemblage of Premiers, and it shows very bad management, considering that the date of the Conference had been fixed some time before.
– And altered once or twice.
– Altered always in the direction of giving more instead of less time. Considering that the question has been threshed out for a good many years by various Governments, and various Conferences, I deeply regret that the grievances of the States’ in connexion with the Commonwealth have been greatly aggravated by this want of promptitude on the part of the Federal Government.
– And the right honorable member is trying to make them more aggravated.
– I think that I am making no observations save those which any business man might make. When two bodies meet, is it not disgraceful that one of them should be unprepared to consider one of the’ matters proposed to be dealt with at that meeting? Is it not disgraceful that the Premiers should have sat in Conference for a week without having put before them any information in the nature of a proposal from the Federal Government ?
– We did not ask them to meet.
– Surely that is not the attitude which should be taken up in connexion with this matter.
– The right honorable member was the instigator-
– Might I have an opportunity, Mr. Speaker, to say a word or two? I do not mind interruptions on trivial occasions, but I want to make my remarks as brief as possible.
– And I want to keep the right honorable member on the right line as he goes along.
– I may be entirely wrong.
– The right honorable member is.
– But I suggest that the honorable member is the worst possible judge of such matters. I regret that the Federal Government were not prepared when the Conference met with the distinct set of proposals which they are now submitting, after it has been sitting for a full week, and when the Premier of Queensland is compelled to leave Australia. I wish also to express my regret that this paper contains no reference to the question of oldage pensions. I had hoped, from an observation made, before dinner, bythe Treasurer, that some endeavour would be made at once to arrive at a friendly arrangement with the Governments of the different
States which would enable a Federal system of old-age pensions to be brought into force without delay.
– I understand that that is one of the postponed items to be dealt with by the Premiers’ Conference. .
– I am merely referring to this paper which I had the advantage of reading during the adjournment for dinner, and which is supposed to contain the financial proposals of the Federal Government. I have taken it as such, but, unfortunately, I find in it no reference to any arrangement in respect of old-age pensions, such as might be made with the States Premiers during the present Conference. If the Governments of the different States would consent to. a national system being at once introduced, the difficulty in connexion with the Braddon section would be immediately removed. If each State would, by Act of Parliament - I admit that an Act would be necessary - authorize the Federal Government to deduct from the Customs and Excise revenue returnable to it an. amount covering its liability in respect of a Federal scheme of old-age pensions, such a system could be brought into force without our waiting for the expiration of the Braddon section. In 1905, the then Federal Government met the States Premiers in Conference at Hobart, and made a very strong effort to induce them to fall in with such a proposal. The representatives of three of the States were agreeable, but the representatives of the . remaining three were not. The three States which at that time were not prepared to agree to such a proposal were suffering very severely, I admit, froma financial strain, which in the case of two of them - Queensland and South Australia -has since been relieved. The revenue of those two States is far more buoyant than it then was. I do not for one moment say that the Government may not be making an effort of this sort-
– We have already commenced.
– All that I say is that this paper contains no reference to it, although it is supposed to embody the proposals to be submitted to the Conference by the Federal Government. I refer to it because I should be delighted to hear that some arrangement of the kind I have mentioned had been made. I hope that the Government will do as the Commonwealth Government in 1905 did - that they will use their utmost endeavours to arrive at some friendly arrangement, such as I have indicated, with the Premiers of the States. Had there been in this paper any reference to the matter, it would perhaps have been unnecessary for me to refer to it. I intend to allude to only one other matter, because I do not wish at present to canvass this scheme. Having regard to the short time that I have had to study it, I should not presume for one moment to criticise it in any shape or form. It is one that we shall have to most carefully consider. I approach the matter with which this paper deals with the most earnest desire to bring about a friendly settlement of all these difficult and important questions. I am sure that none of us wish to make such a settlement in any way difficult. That being so, I repeat that I do not want to criticise, or even to attempt to criticise, this scheme until I have an opportunity to consider it at length. I notice, by the way, that the honorable member for Kooyong is not treated very well in connexion with it.
– Now then, now then !
– The honorable member claims great latitude in addressing the House, and surely I may be allowed to express myself without this incessant chatter on his part. He is like an old poll parrot on a perch.
– The right honorable member for East Sydney at one time used to appreciate interjections.
– Here we have the inevitable “chipper in.” I have a vivid recollection of a notice of motion by the honorable member for Kooyong which appeared on the business-paper, and which, in the most elaborate way, unfolded a scheme for a Council of Finance.’ What the honorable member for. Kooyong then set forth in a distinct notice of motion is included in the Government proposals embodied in this paper.
– And it is acknowledged on page 4 of the paper.
– It is mentioned as something referred to by the honorable member for Kooyong - as if it were some chance interjection in. the course of debate such as the honorable member for Barrier delights to make.
– Does the right honorable member think that that scheme was worthy of greater notice?
– I think that it was a scheme worthy of the most profound observation. After sitting on that egg for three years the Treasurer has incubated a scheme somewhat resembling that proposed by the honorable member for Kooyong. The point that I wish to make, however, is a serious one. The pith of the Government’s scheme involves figures relating to the threefourths of Customs and Excise revenue returnable to the States under the Braddon section. The Government propose that in respect of that three-fourths a fixed sum of £6,000,000 shall be annually returned to the States. That total at once attracted my attention, because it seemed to me that it had no proper basis. I hope that honorable members will remember that I am not by one word canvassing the scheme ; that I am simply looking at the figures on which it is based. In his Budget speech, delivered on the 8th August last, the Treasurer estimated that the total amount to be paid to the States under the Braddon scheme - in respect of the threefourths of Customs and Excise revenue returnable to them - this year would be not £6,000,000, but £7,777,208.
– Does the right honorable member suppose that that rate will be maintained ?
– I am dealing only with the figures.
– The average amount returned so far to the States has been more than £6,000,000 per annum.
– I do not wish to enter into speculations ; I am dealing only with the actual figures. Honorable members must not forget that we are now in the eleventh month of the financial year 1907-8, so that it is therefore’ for financial purposes practically at an end. “To show how this proposal to return to the States a fixed sum of £6,000,000 will affect the different States, I would point out that under it New South Wales will be credited with £833,000 less than her proportion of the three-fourths for the present year.
– Yes ; but that is not the average ; be fair.
– I am not stating that it is the average ; I am stating the figures for the year.
– For a boom year.
– I shall mention presently that the Customs revenue for this year will be at least £600,000 or £700,000 in excess of the Treasurer’s estimate in August last.
– The returns for last quarter show an annual revenue of over £12,000,000.
– It will be something enormous ; but I wish to keep on the .safe side. The figures I have mentioned do not cover the great increase in the revenue which has occurred since the Treasurer delivered his Budget speech.
– Still the Treasurer’s estimate in respect of the amount returnable to the States was in regard to only one year.
– But the proposals outlined in this paper are to be the basis of a permanent scheme.
– We cannot take as a basis the figures for one year.
– I do not wish to be drawn into a discussion of the scheme, because it would be unfair to those who have not fi copy of the paper before them to do so. I am merely giving the facts and am not canvassing the scheme. The honorable member may be able to show that the suggested arrangement is perfectly fair; I do not ask the Committee to condemn it before they have a full statement in regard to it. Victoria, under this scheme, would receive £360,000 less than the amount which the Treasurer estimated in his Budget speech, would be returned to her this year. The amount which would be returnable to each State if this arrangement were agreed to is Set out in this paper, and I am putting against it the estimate made by the Treasurer in his Budget speech. They are the Treasurer’s figures in both cases. On the £6,000,000 basis, New South Wales would get £2,223,624, whereas her estimated three-fourths this year, according to the Treasurer’s Budget Statement,, is £3>°56>889i or £833,265 more; Victoria ‘would get £1,794,312, while her estimated three-fourths is £2,152,188 or £357,876 more. Queens: land would get £779,388, and her estimated three-fourths is £949,754, or £170,366 more; South Australia would get £559,044, and her estimated threefourths is £610,158, or £51,114 more; Western Australia - which is the worst of all - would g_et £381,234, while her estimated three-fourths is £758,075, or £376,841 more. Western Australia would get on the £6,000,000 basis about half of the three-fourths which the Treasurer estimated in his last Budget will be returned to her during the present year.
– A special arrangement is to be made for Western Australia.
– Tasmania would receive £262,398 on the £6,000,000 basis, while her estimated three-fourths is £250,144, so that she alone, of all the States, would be better off.
– The proposed payments which the right honorable gentleman is reading are on a population basis.
– The right honorable gentleman is making a wrong comparison.
– I am using the paper which the Treasurer has laid on the table; I do not know if he has another scheme up his sleeve.
– It is the statement marked b which’ gives the same basis of distribution as was adopted in the Budget Estimate.
– In either case, the States are worse off. New South Wales would be £28,985 more to the bad. The Budget estimate of the three-fourths returnable to the States for the current financial year was £7,777,208; but I shall be well within the’ mark if I say that the- actual threefourths returnable will be at least £500,000 more. The three-fourths returnable during the current year will be at least £8,277,000, or more than £2,000,000 more than the total payment under this scheme.
– The right honorable gentleman is dealing with the returns for one year only, which is not fair.
– One might think that we must speak only subject to the approval of Ministers. I do not wish to criticise the details of the scheme now, because time is heeded to consider it ; but I do not think that £6,000,000 is a right average payment to propose. It seems to me to give a bad starting point.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee (Consideration of Senate’s requests resumed, vide page 10808) :
– I appreciate the force of the honorable member’s remarks; but it is impossible for me to go into mathematical calculations as to the exact effect of the proposal.
.- If the Committee had made wire gauze dutiable at 20 per cent., and the Senate had requested a reduction of the rate to. 15 per cent., the honorable member for Fremantle, according to your ruling, Mr. Chairman, could move to make the duty 5 per cent. When the matter was being discussed originally, he and others received telegrams from the West, asking that certain kinds of wire gauze should be admitted free, as a tool of trade used in the mining industry, and I believe that a Customs. by-law was published, exempting from .duty gauze having more than twenty holes to the lineal inch. I am willing that this arrangement should be sanctioned by the Committee as a fair compromise; I have a sample of woven wire made in Melbourne in which there are twenty holes to the lineal inch, and I am informed that finer woven, wire is made here. But if the amendment is to be carried, we might as well allow all .woven wire to come in free. The woven wire used for flydoors has twelve holes to the lineal inch ; but when the telegrams to which I have referred were received, it was stated that some of the battery screens used in Western Australia had 900 holes to the square inch, or 30 to the lineal inch. These will now come in free.
– I think that in this case honorable members might, as they have done in so many others, relax the severity of their fiscal views in favour of what is undoubtedly in many parts of Australia a struggling industry. Some of the mines of Australia have been sources bf dazzling wealth to their fortunate owners. ‘ One would scarcely mind how much taxation were imposed in’ the case of such mines, because of the enormous wealth derived from them. But we are here dealing with a matter which affects mining throughout the Commonwealth, and we should remember that the great bulk of the mining propositions of Austra-
Iia at present, and, indeed, in former times,, have represented very arduous struggling in order to keep the mines going and pay wages- to the miners. The honor able member for Fremantle has said, and I am sure that his statement will command approval from members in every, part of the chamber, that one good thing to be said about the mining industry is that it employs the men of Australia at men’s wages. There are many mines in Australia from which the shareholders are obtaining no dividends, and which are kept working Only by a very hard struggle. The indus.T try that would be injuriously affected by the proposal of the honorable member for Fremantle is not a very important one, such as are many of the great iron industries, and the Committee might very well consider whether, in the circumstances, we should not make a concession in favour of the mining industry in this case. I am told that the particular appliance to which the honorable member for Fremantle has referred is one that is required in struggling mines. In the circumstances, the Committee might very well agree to meet the honorable member’s views when we can do so without injuring to any great extent any manufacturing industry.
.- The appliance to which the honorable member for Fremantle has referred is what is known in the mining industry as a grate. These grates are being made in Bendigo to-day, and are being exported to Western Australia and to South Africa.
– Then the industry must be in a healthy condition.
– The honorable member for Fremantle told the Committee that one of the Western Austraiian mines uses these grates to the value bf £300 iri one year. If the statement be correct, the grates used must be of very inferior quality. If it requires an expenditure of J~6 per week to repair the grates used in connexion with a crushing machine in Western Australia, that should account for a large amount of the gold that is lost in mining in that State. When the grate is taken off the grate-box to be repaired, some of the gold gets away.
– It gets away without going through the screen.
– -Every time the screens are removed from the front of the box, some of the coarser stone nets out, and with it some of the gold. It is strange that the honorable member for Fremantle should put in this plea to enable the Western Australian mines to procure -fine woven screens. In Bendigo to-day mines can be worked profitably with a yield of 4 dwts. per ton.
In Western Australia, where we are given to .understand the mine-owners require to use line netting screens, a yield of 7’ dwts. per ton is necessary if a mine is to pay.
– It depends on the mine.
– The honor-able member for Fremantle has said that it depends upon the use of fine wire screens. If in one part of Australia, by using locally-manufactured grating, we can make a mine pay with a yield of 4 dwts. to the ton, and it takes a yield of 7 dwts. to the ton to make mining profitable in Western Australia, where is the force of the honorable member’s plea for the free admission of very fine wire netting screens? Let me inform honorable members that these grates are not woven at all. They are perforated steel plates. The honorable member for Fremantle cannot tell me that a piece of wire netting stretched’ ins front of a crushing machine working five head of stampers will serve the purpose of a grate. It is a perforated steel plate that is required, and that is the appliance which tlie honorable member thinks should be admitted free of duty.
– Perforated steel plates may be the only grates the honorable member has seen.
– The honorable member will not assert for a moment that a woven wire-netting screen could be placed in front of a stamper box.
– Yes, absolutely.
– Then I venture to say that the honorable member is absolutely wrong, because such an appliance would not stand two minutes. An honorable member does not require to have a personal knowledge of mining operations to know that if a piece of fine woven wire netting such as that exhibited by the honorable member for Yarra to-day were placed in. front of the stampers of a crushing machine working on hard rock it would not stand half a minute. These screens are made of perforated steel plates, and honorable members will not assist the mining industry in any way by carrying the proposal submitted by the honorable member for Fremantle.
– Does the honorable member mean to say that woven wire-netting screens are not used?
– I mean to say that woven wire netting, ‘such as that exhibited by the honorable member for Yarra, is not used as a screen, and that what is used is a steel plate finely perforated.
– Woven nets are also used.
– I know what I am talking about, and the honorable member is welcome to put any* duty he pleases on the grates he refers to if he admits the wirenetting screens- to which I refer free of duty.
– I speak from practical experience, and I venture to say that the statement made by the honorable member that £300 a year is expended in the repair of grates at one mine in Western Australia is one reason why a yield of 7 dwts. is necessary to make mining pay in that State; If the mining companies to which the honorable member has referred would use the locally-made grates they would find that they would last very much longer, and would be very much less expensive. The honorable member’s proposal would not assist the mining industry, but might be the means of throwing a number of men out of employment. As we are making these appliances here at the present time, I trust that the Committee will accept the amendment requested by the Senate.
.- I really cannot allow the statements’ of the honorable member for Batman to pass unchallenged. If the honorable member is satisfied that perforated steel plates will do I have no objection to the imposition of a duty upon them. What I ask is that screens^ of woven wire of ten holes to the lineal inch or 100 holes to the square inch should be treated in a manner’ different to what the Senate suggests. The screens to which I refer last from four days to twoweeks, according to the class of ore treated.. the average duration being one week. .
– The character of the ore determines the life of the screen.
– Exactly. What is suggested here is woven’ wire measuring twenty holes to the lineal inch. . That is in accord with an opinion given certainly by the Chamber of Mines at Kalgoorlie, but it was found that extending over a bigger area than the Kalgoorlie field smaller batteries were used. The honorable member for Coolgardie will bear me out in the statement that hundreds of such small batteries are at work in Western Australia.
– Hear, hear.
– Men working in small parties and using batteries of from 3 to 5 heads of stampers find a screen of a larger mesh ‘ absolutely necessary. They do not use a perforated steel plate. I doubt whether a steel plate could be perforated with 400 holes to the square inch, because there would only be a strand of a. very fine steel left between the holes. What we require is a woven wire screen with a, mesh of 100 holes to the square inch. When the honorable member for Batman says that it take’s 7 dwts., to the ton to pay in Western Australia, whilst 4 dwts. to the ton pays at Bendigo, I can tell him that we do not expect 3 or 4 dwts. to the ton to. pay in Kalgoorlie, in view of the expense of working mines in that district.
– Five dwts. to the ton pays at Southern Cross.
– That yield will npt pay if we tax such things as battery screens. The whole future of mining in Western Australia depends upon the assistance given the industry to make it possible to work low-grade ores profitably. That cannot be done if every requisite of mining is taxed.. When the honorable member for Batman says that it ought not to cost so much for screening as I have stated; let me give the Committee the following information -
The value of wire screens used in twelve months at Lake View, £400; Great Boulder, 6300; South Kalgoorlie, ^240. Mines prefer British make owing to superior material and longer experience of manufacture. Only best quality used.
That is the information supplied to me, and I believe it to be correct. I should like to see ‘every industry established in Australia, but I do not wish to see one inr dustry established at the expense of another’. I fail to understand why we should penalize an industry employing 120,000 men, not Women or children, for the benefit of a few wire workers employed 1,000 miles away from the place at which the miners use these screens.
– What is to prevent the establishment of a wire factory where the screens are used?
– There is nothing to prevent the establishment of a- watch factory there but the expense. I dare say that we could make watches there, but it would- be hard to. say what they would cost. I implore the Committee to have a little mercy and to assist the mining in-, dustry.
– And wipe out the wire workers.
– The wire workers of Victoria are doubtless able to do many things; but they -are hot able’ to’ supply the big mining industry of Australia with the appliances referred to in this item. I hope the Committee will accept my amendment.
.- I hope the Committee will accept the amendment moved by .the honorable member for Fremantle, who, as a representative of Western Australia, Unquestionably does know what he is talking about when dealing with this subject. The honorable member for .Batman may have a close acquaintance with city industries, but he can know very little about gold mining or the conditions necessary to carry it on profitably. The honorable member talks about wire workers in Vi’:toria being thrown out of employment, but if by piling up duties on mining appliances we render the working of low-grade mines unprofitable, shall we not bring about the displacement of all the men now employed in such mines? Should we not look at that side of the question, when solicitude is expressed for small city industries employing women and children? We are dealing here with an industry in which only ‘men are employed and are paid the highest wages ruling in the world for the same class of work. ‘ To render the working of low-grade mines unprofitable would lead to the disemployment of far more workers than would be affected by ad,mitting, free of duty, the appliance to which the honorable member for Fremantle has referred. It would throw out of employment the best class of workers; men who are paid good wages and spend them freely. We have imposed very heavy, duties ‘ on most mining requisites. The Tariff of 1902 differentiated severely between mining as compared with agriculture, though no reason was ever given why that should be so. When the honorable member for Adelaide was. Minister of Trade and. Customs, I asked him, personally, why the mining industry should be selected for special taxation, but he failedto give a satisfactory . answer. The Committee should consider the mining industry, not only in Western Australia, but all over the Commonwealth, because it cannot bear too many burdens.
Question - That the requested amendment be modified by leaving out the figures. “ 20” and substituting, the figures “10” - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … …. 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Motion (by Mr. Hedges) proposed -
That the requested amendment be modified by leaving out the figures “ 20,” with a view to insert in lieu thereof the figures “ 15.”
Original motion agreed to.
Requested amendment made.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to-
That the amendment take effect from the 16th November, 1907.
– I dare say honorable members have noticed that the Senate will sit to-morrow. A suggestion has been made that the portion of the Tariff which has been so far dealt with by us should be sent back to the Senate for their consideration without waiting longer, so that the two Houses can proceed with its consideration simultaneously.
– Does not the honorable member intend to recommit any of the items that he said last week he would recommit ?
SirWILLIAM LYNE.- The House can deal with that matter presently. I do not propose to recommit anything.
– There was one item postponed.
– That is not included in my proposal. I move -
That the Chairman report to the House ail requests dealt with to date.
.-I think this arrangement is a very excellent one, and will promote a more speedy settlement of these Tariff troubles.
Motion agreed to.
Progress reported, and leave given to sit again later in the day.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the progress report of the Committee on the requests of the Senate in the Customs Tariff Bill be adopted, and that a message be sent to the Senate informing it of the manner in which the House has dealt with the foregoing requests for amendments, and stating that when the remainder of the. requests made by the Senate have been dealt with the result will be communicated to it.
– I move -
That the request in regard item 15, “ Hay and Chaff,” be recommitted.
– I hope the honorable member will not do that. If he does, I may have toreconsider the position.
– I cannot help that.
– I second the amendment.
Question put. The House divided.
Majority . . … 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
., - The motion now before the Chair is rather unusual, but it may be convenient for the Ministry of the day to deal with the Tariff in this piecemeal manner. If it was a question of amendments of a Bill, I should think that your ruling, Mr. Speaker, would be that we could not possibly take that course, but I presume that the Government get out of the difficulty technically by calling these “ suggested amendments.” I could not conceive of amendments on any other Bill being dealt with piecemeal. I rise, if not to obtain a ruling from you, at any rate to put before you the view that if we were’ dealing with ordinary amendments of a Bill, we should not attempt to send them to the Senate in this fashion. If we did, we should be surrendering our power as a deliberative body and as a part of the legislative machine. Theonly plea behind which the Ministry can shelter themselves is that these are really not amendments, but suggestions. Still they come perilously near to being amendments. About a week ago, when the Committee dealt with such important items as “ Manufactures of Metal, n.e.i.,” and “ wire netting,” in a way which, according to my lights, was not proper, I understood that the Treasurer was such an earnest protectionist, and such a believer in the industries concerned, that he intended to recommit those items. He has, however, made no mention of them in this motion. I lay the greatest stress upon the first of them, as being of the greatest importance to Australia, and I cannot understand a protectionist Ministry not struggling once more to have it recommitted. I know, from the fate of the amendment just moved by the honorable member forIllawarra, that if I moved for a recommittal at this stage against the wishes of the Government I should not be successful. At the time when the item “ Manufactures of Metal, n.e.i.” was dealt with, the honorable memberfor Laanecoorie, one of the strongest supporters of the Government, stated that he would move later for its recommittal. So far there has been no potion to that effect. I am not usually a supporterof the Government, and do not intend to move it, but if it is moved I shall support it. I cannot understand the action of the Government in regard to it. Another feature of the. proposal to deal with the schedule piecemeal is that we have had no statement from the Treasurer vet as to whether any of the amendments dealt with so far interlock with any other items which have yet to be considered. One of the reasons why it was decided not to deal with the schedule piecemeal when it was first before us was that there were many items related to One another in different parts of the schedule, and that, therefore, it would be unfair to the Senate to send the Tariff up in portions. The Treasurer has made no statement that the items with which we have already dealt are’ not interwoven with others that have yet to be considered. I cannot say personally whether items which have yet to come do or do not conflict with items that we have passed, but one case - that of ornamental stained glass work - occurs tome. We have already passed items taxing the articles used in that work, but we have yet to deal with the item covering the finished product.’ I wish to emphasize and put on record the point that, in sending the Tariff up in this piecemeal fashion, it must be understood that what we have been dealing with are only suggestions, and not amendments. I trust that the Treasurer and the Government will not lose sight of the true position and powers of this Chamber.
.- I wish to say a few words in regard to an item of which I and a. number of other honorable members desire a recommittal. 1 felt very strongly that a mistake had been made by the Committee when a certain proposal was carried, and I announced my intention to move for its “recommittal as soon as an opportunity was afforded. I had not the slightest idea - I do not think that any honorable member had - that the schedule was to be treated in this fashion. I feel that I, in common with those who then agreed with me, am taken at a disadvantage, because I had hoped that a certain section of the schedule would haw been completely dealt with and that we should then have had an opportunity to ask the Committee to reconsider a vote which, we believe it had given without full and- proper consideration. Since the Government has decided to take this course I have endeavoured to ascertain what the position would be should I propose a recommittal of the item. I regret to find that owing to the fact that insufficient notice of this motion has been given it would be. impossible to induce the House to agree to its recommittal. Had the course been adopted which I, in common with other honorable members believed would be taken - that is to say, had we completed the schedule before the opportunity of dealing with the item had been taken away from us - I think that perhaps we might have had a chance of reversing the vote. I believe that there is no opportunity of doing that. Under these circumstances I am- reluctantly compelled to retire from the position that I took up, but I do so with a good deal of disappointment and a. certain amount of dissatisfaction.
– The honorable member for Laanecoorie is not the only one who is disappointed at the turn which events have taken. Although we put to the vote the question of the recommittal of the fodder duties, still it was done at the greatest possible disadvantage. Had it been known beforehand that the Government intended to take this course - one to -which under ordinary circumstances and with proper notice, I should have offered no objection - there would have been sufficient honorable members present to carry a recommittal of the fodder duties.
– I ask the honorable member not to canvas the vote of the House on that question.
– I think, sir, that I have a right to mention that incidentally in connexion with the complaint I am lodging against the Government, that they did not intimate earlier to the House and to the country ..the course which they proposed to take. The honorable member for Laanecoorie, fortunately, is here, but other honorable members - knowing nothing of the course proposed to be taken to-day - are absent on imperative duties, who otherwise would unquestionably have been here. I venture to say that the vote which has just been given does not represent the mind of the House.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee (Consideration of Senate’s requests resumed from page 10815) :
Requested amendments in item 231 (Graphite or Plumbago); item 232 (Bronzing arid Metal Powders) ; and item 233, paragraphs a and b (Tallow and Greases) made; and requested amendment in item 234 (Oils - Linseed), not made.
Item 234. Oils - in vessels exceeding 1 gallon, viz. : - ….
Request. - Insert the following paragraph - “ (jj) Lubricating (Mineral)* - 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 such manufacture is sufficiently established in the Commonwealth. Per gallon (General Tariff), 4d. ; (United Kingdom), 3fd.”
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the requested amendment be made.
– I presume that we shall follow the .precedent established to-day, and strike out the condition which is attached to this request? .
– There has been no precedent laid down.
– It is a wrong principle to- enact, and I hope the Committee will adhere to the decision to which it came in connexion with another request.
In my opinion, we shall surrender our powers to the Senate by agreeing to the suggestion,
.- I do not regard the question of the /ate of duty as being of any importance compared with, this- method of unsettling the Tariff instead of settling it. The great desire with most of us has been to get a Tariff which would contain no combustible element of that kind. To begin with, there has been incessant lobbying over such items. I consider that the whole proceeding is a wrong one. If honorable members want to give any encouragement to this industry, now is the time to do so. They should not leave it to the. chance of this mysterious sort of procedure. This request, if adopted, would place the matter entirely in the hands of the Government, because no private member could move for a joint address. If honorable members want to impose duties on lubricating mineral oils, _I ask them to impose them straight out, and not in this mysterious sort of way.
– The honorable member is not objecting on the constitutional ground, but is simply urging that it is undesirable to leave the matter open.
– I include all the objections with those which I am expressing, but I am putting the -constitutional point aside for the moment, because I have other reasons that seem to be of clearer application. This sort of power should be used very rarely indeed, and certainly not in connexion with matters of this’ kind. I do not know much about lubricating mineral oils, but it seems, to me that we might settle the problem right away, without resorting to such procedure. Mr. CARR (Macquarie) [9.10].- Whether the principle of a deferred . duty should be accepted or not is really immaterial ; the main issue is whether a duty should be imposed. We all know that oils - more than any other commodity, I suppose - are controlled by some of the richest corporations of the world. They are a household necessity, in addition to being widely used in trade and commerce. In view of that fact, it behoves Australia to see that its own oil resources are effectually tapped, and that the industry is made self - supporting. The reason why so much capital is invested in the oil industry is mainly because expensive machinery and processes are required in the production of refined oils of any sort. Nature “has provided Aus- . tralia with ample resources in the way of oil. Ira New South Wales we have great possibilities - possibilities which promise, not only a local supply of oils, But also a large surplus for export. I am in a position to say that there is no necessity to adopt a condition attached- to this request if the Committee is averse to it, because a company has already spent nearly £1,000,000 in tapping our vast resources in- the Blue Mountains.
– Is that the Commonwealth Oil Corporation?
– Yes, though I did not desire to mention its name particularly. It does not matter what the name is; the fact remains that Australia’s resources are being tapped by a company which is now practically in a position to supply all its needs in regard to lubricating oils. There may be a shortage for a few months, but the plant is installed, and it is only a matter . of getting all the machinery that is on the spot into working order, when the company will be able to supply more oil than is required in the Commonwealth. The exclusive control of the well supplies of oils “renders us more or less liable to imposition and exploitation. I do not want to detail the practices of the larger companies of the world ; but,” in view of the fact that questionable practices are employed, and that we, as a community, will be virtually at the mercy of the large corporations outside ‘ Australia if we do not take some effective measures, it behoves us to. at least see that our sources of supply shall be absolutely within reach” of our administrative institutions. We have that opportunity now. In addition to that, the company I have referred to has already displayed a magnanimous attitude, not only towards the public, but also towards its employes. It has invested nearly £i, 000, 000 in the en dee your to tap our resources. It is guided by men who, I am pleased to say. are dominated largely by altruistic as well as com- mercial motives. To begin with, they have shown such a generous disposition towards their own workers that if there were more companies similarly guided there would be, I think, almost a cessation of the unrest ‘ that exists the wide world over against the capitalistic forces which control such immense resources as are controlled in New South Wales by the corporation I allude to.
– Why has it had men- in the corridors for the last fortnight?
– It has been necessary to lay the full facts of the case before honorable members. Those facts have been furnished, not by one party, but by all parties, and, seeing that such procedure has been, not only tolerated, but deliberately allowed by the officers of this House, no one company is a jot more to blame than another for adopting those tactics. In fact the concern which did not seek to put before honorable members its own view of the question would be placed at a considerable disadvantage. I shall not make any further explanation under that head-‘ ing.
– :We might separate the question of the duty to be levied from the condition which has been ‘ inserted by the Senate.
– I consider that the proposal to defer the imposition of the duty is insignificant compared with the main question of what doty ought to be imposed upon oils with which Australia in general, and New South Wales in particular, is richly supplied. From my own personal observation I am quite justified in saying that the company to which I have referred is actuated by the very best intention, not only towards those in its employ, but towards the whole community. It,has undertaken not to charge a higher price for its oil than that now being charged for the imported article, or whatever the current market rates may be. But even if it had not given that undertaking it would be advisable for us to retain control of such an essential as lubricating oil. We shall be able to do that if we- impose a duty of 4d. per gallon upon it. If we do not the industry will not be developed in our midst, and we shall probably have to pay considerably more for lubricating oils when outside corporations have secured the control of the Australian market. I do not stand here as an advocate of the capitalistic control of any natural opportunities. I believe that such opportunities should be controlled by the Government. We have no right to permit any corporation to obtain a lien on posterity by allowing it to extract from the earth for . its own profit what has been placed there for the use of all. But I recognise that it would be idle for me to urge the adoption of any such scheme to-night.
– From where does the imported oil chiefly come?
– From various quarters. It is a notorious fact that those who control its output do so in the most ruthless manner, so far as -the consumers are concerned. They are out merely to make a profit. They are not prompted by any considerations of good-will towards their fellows, or by any such sentiments as have been evidenced by the authorities which control the corporation within our own borders. But, quite apart from that, I hold that it is much better for us to retain control of this industry, seeing that we have sufficient shale deposits in the Blue Mountains fo supply us ‘with oil for an indefinite period. We shall not be true to this country if we do not encourage this particular ‘industry. I urge the Committee in the interests of the Commonwealth, to grant the protection that is asked.
.- I can thoroughly understand the position of the honorable member for Macquarie in advocating the imposition of a duty upon lubricating mineral oils. But I should like to see the Treasurer take the same course in respect, to this item that he took in respect of locks. I can appreciate the action of the Senate in requesting an increase or decrease of a duty, but I cannot understand why it should be empowered to suggest the manner in which an industry should be dealt with. Why should the mineral oil industry be singled out for special treatment, as it will be, if we agree to the Senate’s request? My own opinion is that we ought to separate the condition requested by the Senate from the duty which it desires to see imposed. The Treasurer has already adopted. that course in regard to locks. Why not do the same thing here? If we agree to the condition requested by the Senate, we shall have to ask the leave of that Chamber before we can consider the desirableness or otherwise of imposing an increased duty upon this item in the future. That is a most undesirable power tq place in the hands of the other Chamber. Let us suppose that all the members of ‘ this House in the next Parliament ‘were protectionists) and that they des’ired’ to impose a “duty of is. per gallon’ upon mineral oils. Before that duty could be considered - -
– Will the honorable member vote for the duty if the’ condition be hot carried?
– I would much rather vote for the duty requested bv the Senate than for the condition which it seeks to impose. 1 do not see why the mineral oil or any other industry should be selected for special treatment. Moreover, I do not believe in handing over to the Senate power to tell us that until an address has been agreed to by both Houses, we cannot consider the desirableness or otherwise of imposing an increased duty upon this item. If we adopt the course proposed in the case of lubricants, locks, and timber, why npt adopt it in regard to all the requests preferred by the Senate? I am satisfied that if we confer this power upon that Chamber, it will be cited in the near future as a precedent. I would rather see a duty of 4d. per gallon imposed upon mineral oils than see the Tariff re-opened at a very early date-
– I think that this Tariff will have to be re-opened very soon. Some protectionists votes which have been cast here will have to be tested.
– Why did not the Treasurer test them half-an-hour ago before the requested amendments already dealt with had .been returned to the Senate? I have repeatedly stated’ that this Tariff is full of anomalies, and that certain items ought to be recommitted. ‘ I am not concerned so much about the rate of duty ; there is a principle at stake which is more important. I shall hot allow the Senate to exercise a power which it does not possess. Under the Constitution it may make requests; but in regard to this and other items it has gone further, and tried to control the future actions of this House in Tariff matters. 1 1 we allow this, it may, on some other occasion, go still further.
Mr. BRUCE SMITH (Parkes) 17,., v”!. - It would facilitate discussion if the requested addition relating to the issue of a proclamation were separated from the requested alteration of duties. I do not sympathize’ with the honorable member’ for Dalley in his anxiety regarding the constitutional propriety of the Senate’s requests. If we agree to the imposition of the duties requested by the Senate, we shall not in any way extend its powers. My objection to the provision is that it practically leaves the Tariff open, and, when we may think the fiscal question settled for a considerable time, may have it opened at an moment by one of these proclamations.
– What “would be the rate oF duty before the issue of the proclamation?
– I understand that the duties would be 3¼d. and 3d. What I am suggesting now is that we should do in this case what we did when considering the requests in regard to locks, viz., test the feeling of the Committee regarding the proposal for a proclamation before considering the requested alteration of duties. I therefore move -
That the motion be amended by the addition of the modification that the words “To come into operation on a date to be fixed bv 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 such manufacture is sufficiently established in the Commonwealth,” be left out.
.- I listened attentively to the speech pf the honorable member for Macquarie, who takes great interest in the protection of this industry ; but last Thursday night I was present at a meeting of the Sydney Labour Council, at which representatives of the men connected with the Airlie strike related the tyrannical manner in which they had been dealt with by the Commonwealth Oil Corporation. The Railway and Tramway Association, qf which I am General Secretary, also received representatives of the men, who begged for- contributions of articles of clothing and money to keep their comrades from starving.
– The men have been out fdr months.
– A huge corporation, at the head of which are men like Sir George Newnes, Sir James Joicey, the Harmsworths, and others, not only controls a private railway, on which it charges exorbitant rates, but also controls a township, and intends to compel its employes to live in its houses. I am informed that thi “position of affairs practically amounts to a repeal of the Truck Act. If a. powerful corporation like this can carry on in this tyrannical manner at the outset, what chance will its employes have when it is firmly established in Australia?- In New South Wales we have tried to prevent the corporation from obtaining a private township, and have been unable to do so : what chance shall we have of controlling it when its power has increased? I thought that we should have the new protection to deawith this and other big trusts; but it seems now that there is no hope of that. Therefore, if I had the., opportunity, I should reverse many of my votes on the Tariff. The Ministry does not seem to be in earnest in regard to the nev/ protection.
– The Prime Minister has promised it.
– Of late these promise’s have been weakening. Now that the Tariff is nearly through, there seems to be less disposition to bring the new protection into existence.
– The Prime Minister has stated that when the Tariff has been dealt with he will see that effect is given, to the new protection.
– He has also said, in effect, that directly the Tariff has been dealt with he will resign. If the new protection is not seriously brought forward. I shall consider that I have been deceived by the Ministry in regard to several of my Tariff votes. We have been told that if the method of applying the new protection is found to be unconstitutional, the Ministry possesses other means to give effect to it.
– The Constitution could be amended.
– We have been told that there are other immediate means of giving effect to the new protection than that which it is claimed is unconstitutional. I hope that if Ministers do not intend to bring forward the new protection proposals, they will give honorable members who, . like myself, have sometimes voted under a misapprehension, an opportunity to reconsider some of their Tariff votes. I am going to vote against this duty, because of the way in which the Commonwealth Oil Corporation have treated their employes, and also because they are not satisfied with the business that naturally pertains to them-, but are also grabbing at private railways and private townships.
– Why did not the State Government take up the work?
– That is no answer to my objection. Rather than assist a powerful monopoly like this, I should prefer to see the development of the works delayed for a few years until the Government takes up the question. The honorable member for Macquarie says that the corporation will give certain undertakingswith regard to prices. What guarantee have we of that?
– A written guarantee.
– That guarantee may be broken at any moment. The directors of the company may hold another meeting, and may decide to depart from it.
– To whom is the guarantee given?
– Exactly ; and what security is there that the guarantee will be carried out? We have had guarantees in relation to the harvester legislation, but they have not been put into effect. I have not had an opportunity of reading some of the papers relating to the case which the honorable member for Macquarie has perused. I asked him to let me have them earlier in the day. But, without wishing to reflect upon the judgment of any other honorable member, I am prepared to take for my guide what the representatives of the men said in my hearing at the meeting of the Sydney Labour Council, and at the Trades’ Union Congress in Sydney. I am satisfied that these men had no object in misleading me and other members of the community. But on the other hand, there is every inducement at this juncture for the corporation to take steps to conciliate the men, so as to secure a favorable vote in this Parliament. Only last Thursday I had the story of the dispute between the corporation and its employes related to me; but between Thursday and the present time we find that the dispute has been settled, although it. has been going on for months, and the men have been treated in the most shameful manner. The way in which matters have been fixed up, so as to leave an impression that the corporation has acted magnanimously, does not appear to me to be bona fide.
– That does not say much for the honorable member’s confreres.
– Possibly what may satisfy other people may not satisfy me.
– The honorable member does not know what he is talking about.
– Possibly I do not; and perhaps the representatives of the miners who attended the meeting of the Sydney Labour Council last week did not know what they were talking about. I am not here to act upon evidence which convinces somebody else, but to act according to my own judgment upon the facts placed before me. So far, I have not had sufficient facts placed before me to clear away from my mind what the representatives of the men convinced me of. In saying so much,I am not conveying any reflection upon any other honorable member. The honorable member for
Macquarie will vote in accordance with his own convictions, and I shall vote in accordance with mine. I believe that the corporation is quite powerful enough to carry on its business without an increased duty. It came into existence when there was no duty whatever. Clearly, then, its directors considered that they could conduct their affairs profitably under freetrade conditions. In view of the tyranny practised by the corporation in the. early stages of its existence, I consider that it would be a good thing for it to be subjected to a little competition from a body possessed of similar strength to its own. I therefore refuse to shut out competition from a tyrannical corporation like this, and thus place it in a favoured position, when its conduct alike to its employes and the public has been such as to shake to the foundations our confidence in its fair dealing.
.- I very much regret that such considerations have been introduced into the debate as have been imported into it by the honorable member who has just resumed his seat.I hope that proper steps will be taken within his own State to deal with the labour disputes that have arisen, and that honorable members will not consider it right that in the construction of a Tariff for the Commonwealth, we should use the imposition of duties as a means of favouring one side or the other. Personally, I was not aware of the existence of a dispute of the dimensions to which the honorable member has referred; but I deprecate the introduction into our debates of elements which are quite foreign to our purposes. There arep roper means of settling labour disputes, and whether the case for the men is right or wrong, it should not be allowed to interfere in the practical construction of a Tariff. I think that the honorable member for Parkes has followed a consistent course in asking that the Government should delete the words’ to which he. has objected, inasmuch as we took a similar course in regard to the item relating to locks. I see no reason why there should be introduced an unsettling element which at any future time might have the effect of re-opening the whole question. There has been a large expenditure of capital on the works established by the Commonwealth Oil Corporation, andI trust that profitable results will be derived from it. I understand that we shall have another opportunity of discussing the rate of duty, and.I may at once declare that I am not prepared to maintain that’ there is any justification for increasing the existing duty of 3¼d. In the meantime, I think that consistency should induce the’ Committee to agree to the proposal of the honorable member for Parkes.
.- My honorable friend the member for Cook did not say that the men employed by the Commonwealth Oil Corporation had asked him to vote against the increased duty.
– I told them that I should do so.
– But they did notrequest the honorable member to vote against it. The honorable member conveyed the impression that the men had told him how they had been treated, and requested him to vote against the increase.
– It was not their place to ask me to do anything.
– Probably, I have had more experience of men on strike than the honorable member has had, and that experience shows me that they will say to members of Parliament, “Will you vote in a certain way to help us ?” As the request was not made to the honorable member, does he really think that the men interested in this industry and who have been seeking to get a higher wage, would like to have the duty removed in order that the strongest and most relentless corporation the world has ever known, the Standard . Oil Trust, may come in and swamp Australia with its commodity ? I am perfectly certain that if the men were consulted, they would say that they would like to have an effective duty. If they have not been getting the wage that they should have received let us by enactment declare that they shall be paid what is due to them.
– We could not impose wages conditions with these duties.
– I do not say that we could, but there is nothing to prevent our passing other legislation dealing with the question of wages and conditions of labour. I believe that every million made by the Standard Oil Trust is stained with blood. The Standard Oil Company has an interest here in the name of the Colonial. Oil Company. The British Imperial Oil Company was the first to import kerosene in bulk, but only 10 per cent. of its importations are so delivered. The remaining 90 per cent. is sold in tins, and employment is thus given to tinsmiths, as well as to carpenters and men engaged in making cases in our timber yards. The Standard Oil Company was the first to introduce in Australia the conditional rebate system, which is on similar lines to the method which led to its being fined something like £5,000,000 by the Supreme Court of the United States of America - a method adopted to crush out opposition. When this Tariff was introduced the Trust had in Australia sufficient kerosene to supply the needs of Victoria, at all events, for twelve months : nevertheless, it immediately raised the price of its oil. Honorable members will recollect that it was not until it was threatened with legal proceedings that it made a refund of the money it had unjustly collected in that way. It has been stated that itobtained control of some oil fields in Burmah which would have yielded millions of gallons, but that instead of using the wells it blew the bottoms out of them by means of dynamite, so that they could not be worked at any time in opposition to it. We are informed that an effort has been made to prevent as far as possible the entry of the Standard Oil Company’s kerosene into Japan and China. I ‘ have also been informed - although it is a mere hearsay statement - that the Viceroy of India has seen fit to interfere to avoid1 the possibility of oil wells in India being treated by the company as were those in Burmah, to which I have referred. This is what John D. Archbold, Vice-President of the Standard Oil Company, said in the Philadelphia Evening Post -
Should foreign competition at any future period confront the company with the alternative of selling its products at a loss in certain markets, the former horn of the dilemma might be decided upon if the crisis was regarded as a temporary one; the company being further compelled to give some consideration to its extensive property investments abroad, and to the thousands of its employes relying upon it for permanent occupation.
It may be emphatically reiterated that it has been no part of the policy of this company to benefit the foreign consumer at the expense of the American consumer; but it has-been and must be its policy to maintain its foreign commerce, if possible, even should future sacrifices become ‘necessary for so doing. Any other policy would surely be of eventual detriment to the home consumer, to the home producer, and to the nation itself as well as to the company.
As long as I am privileged to be a member of this House my vote will always be cast to prevent the Standard Oil Trust controlling the oil trade in Australia. I repeat to-night; what I told the agent of the company ; that the boast that it was rich enoughto buy the Australian Parliament was an idle one. I say that it is neither rich nor strong enough to do so. My own opinion is that if the Standard Oil Company decreed that any honorable member should die that decree would be carried out; but it is hot strong enough to buy over a sufficient number of honorable members to obtain the support that it desires. Even if it were it could never buy the people behind this Parliament.
– There are other importers of kerosene besides the’ Standard Oil Company.
– But no importer so dangerous ‘as that company.
– The honorable member would penalize every one because he dislikes the Standard Oil Company.
– No; the honorable member is not going to capture me with his Oxford accent. I desire a strong protectionist duty. I want’ to see kerosene produced in Australia, and would rather pay more for a commodity won by Australian hands out of Australian soil, than for something produced abroad. Although the honorable member for Cook would not accept the assurance of men who have considered the question, and who are thoroughly convinced that the strike amongst the employes of the Commonwealth Oil Corporation has been settled on fair terms, he is as solid a member of the Labour Party as we have, and surely it is British and Australian, when a quarrel is over, to let the hand-clasp be firm. Let the dead past bury its dead, and_ let us face the future with brighter hopes.. With the growth of the Labour Party, which has never had a debacle, we can pass further legislation when it is necessary to control any trust that may spring up in our midst. We have some power over trusts in our community but what chance have we of coping “with a far-reaching trust like the Standard Oil Company of America ?
– I was rather surprised at a remark made by the honorable member for Cook in regard to a dispute amongst the men engaged in the local industry. As a Labour man, I took some little interest in that dispute, and made an effort to ascertain the cause of it. To my utter astonishment I learned that the men had refused to accept what I think was a very reasonable proposal for arbitration.
– The honorable member “heard an ex parte statement.
– I heard what the honorable member for Macquarie had to say. I have also heard statements from others.
– I rise to a point of order. We have had a lot of dirty linen washed here to-night, but I should like to know whether a discussion between honorable members in the Labour corner as to the merits of a particular industrial trouble with the Commonwealth Oil Corporation has any bearing either upon the amendment or upon the question of the rate of duty.
– The honorable member for Hindmarsh would not be in order in discussing the causes of the strike, but he is quite in order in making an incidental reference to it.
– So far from desiring to discuss the causes of the strike, I say that I see no necessity for doing so. But the honorable member for Cook has made statements that are entirely at variance with the facts, and on the strength of those statements he would have honorable members vote for or against the protection of an industry. I hope that no honorable members will take up such a position. I take the stand that labour disputes are entirely apart from the consideration of our industries. No member of the Committee need fear to vote for the duty proposed because of something that this company has done to its employes. So far as I can find out, the dispute is one which, if it had occurred amongst any other body of men in the Commonwealth, would havebeen settled long ago. I think that the terms offered to the men were very fair indeed.
– Order !
– It was not to be expected that two representatives of one side would be agreed to, as against one representative of the other.
– Does the honorable member think that these men should starve ?
– I think that the honorable member for Calare would give a vote that would prevent them from starving. If he does not desire that the men should starve, let him give a vote to help to put the industry on its feet. That would not only prevent these men starving, but might possibly lead to the employment of a few hundreds or thousands more. I do not suggest that this is a beneficent company by any means. I have no faith in the Harmsworths and the Newnes, but I have just as little faithin the Standard Oil Company. I am astonished that the honorable member for Cook, as a member of the Labour Party, and holding labour views, should be prepared to allow one company to sweat and rob their employes and the public, and to hold the retailers of their goods at their mercy.
– I rise to a point of order. The question before the Chair is whether the duty shall be fixed by proclamation, as requested by the Senate. We are not now dealing with ‘ the rate of duty.
-The honorable member for Echuca is not accustomed to the practice of Parliament, and has not taken much trouble to look up the Standing Orders. He has not been . paying attention to what is going on, or he would know that the whole item is under discussion. What I have said about the Standard Oil Trust may apply equally to this particular company, but I ask the honorable member for Cook to say what power we have over a foreign trust.
– Evidently we have not much power over this company.
– If the honorable member’ has any faith in the electors of Australia, and in his own party, he must know that that is a power which will come. The time is approaching when we shall be able to see that both workers and employers in Australia are properly protected. Honorable members of every party in this Parliament say that they are against rings, trusts, and rebates, and are prepared to do something to put an end to them. Whilst members of the Labour Party are prepared to adopt protective measures; other honorable members recognise that we have reached a stage at which something must be done; but they , are afraid of going too far, and the consequence is that the legislation introduced to deal with trusts is not effective.
– Order ! I ask the honorable member to confine his remarks to the item.
– I think that my remarks bear upon the question. I am giving reasons in . support of the proposed duty. Although I have no great faith in the’ company referred to, I believe it is better that we should have one trust fighting the other than that we should have only one trust in the field with the whole of the people at its mercy. That is one of my reasons for voting for the duty. It is better, in the circumstances, that we should have one of these trusts operating in Australia, because if we find that they are not doing a fair thing by their employes, the time is coming when we shall be in a position to make them do what is fair. Many honorable members are agreed that it would be well to nationalize some industries, but whilst we should be able to nationalize the industry carried on by the local oil trust, it would be impossible to nationalize the industry of the Standard Oil Company. I confess that I do not like the proposal for the imposition of duties by proclamation. Honorable members are either in favour of the imposition of a duty or against it. This industry is established already, not on a small scale, but on an enormous scale. It has money behind it, ‘ and if it should be protected by a duty, now is the time to impose that duty. ‘ No doubt the company is established to make their business pay, but I do not care how much money they make, so long as the industry provides employment, and supplies the consumer with a good article at a reasonable rate. There is no doubt that the consumer will have a better chance of being able to obtain the article at a reasonable rate than he would have if we shut this company out. The honorable member for Melbourne has put it that the British Oil Company is saying, “You knock us out, and the Standard Oil Company will make you pay through the nose.” If, in the circumstances, it is well to enable a British company to obtain a share of the business, it would be well also to assist a third company. When we find men willing to put, not scores, but hundreds of thousands of pounds into an industry to develop one of the resources of this country, we should be willing to give them a start, and if they fail to do the fair thing by their employes and the public, we can deal with them in the future.
.- I do not wish to interpose in what seems to the casual onlooker to be a domestic squabble between honorable members of the Labour Party, but I suggest that the Minister would save the time of the Committee by saying whether he will accept the amendment of the honorable member for Parkes. That amendment does not affect the rate of duty, but raises the question of the privileges of this House, and its inherent right to be the sole authority responsible for imposing duties on the people. Does the Minister propose to accept the amendment of the honorable member for Parkes?
– Would the honorable’ member vote for a fair duty for the protection of the industry afterwards?
– We can deal with the rate of duty later. When honorable members, however, come to deal with the question of the duty-
– The honorable member will not vote for a New South Wales industry having a fair duty.
– BecauseI am not blinded with passion against any company or companies, I refuse to penalize every user of this commodity in Australia. However, the proper time to go into this question would be after we have dealt with the amendment; and I hope that, having dealt with the amendment, we shall consider the main question of how the duty affects our local industry. If honorable members, blinded by passion, choose to handicap the engineering industry of Australia, that is a matter between them and their own conscience.
– Where is the handicap ifthe commodity is got at the same price ?
– Do our local manufacturers seek to impose these restrictions in order that they may become altruists, and sell more cheaply than they are forced to do?
– Butlocal competition always makes the goods cheaper in the end.
– I confess I am somewhat sceptical on that point, because I do not believe that manufacturers, any more than importers, are philanthropists. I ask the Treasurer to accept the proposal of the honorable member for Parkes, and to then permit us to divide on the question of the duty. But, in any case, let us consider the interests of Australia, and not the demerits of any particular company or companies.
.- I assume that until there was a proclamation issued there would be’ no duty.
– There would be the duty passed by this House.
– I am assuming that if we accept the suggested amendment of the Senate, our previous proposal of 3¼d. and 3d. will no longer operate.
– That is not so; this is J J, not J.
– Quite so, but I think that this is intended as a substitution.
– No, as an addition.
– Then the meaning is that the duty shall be 3¼d. and 3d. until the proclamation, . and .that, following the proclamation, the duty shall be increased by fd. If that be so, it seems to me that we are putting a lot of machinery into motion for very small results. I desire no duty unless it be necessary for the protection of the industry ; anc the fact that the Government are ready to accept the suggested request seems to indicate that they do not think the duty necessary at the present time. We have to make our choice of the lesser of two evils. The Government admit that no immediate evil is likely to result to the industry, seeing that they do not propose to issue the proclamation just now. But it would be a great evil if every, user of machinery- - every blacksmith in every country town - is penalized. We were informed by the honorable member for Macquarie that there is a guarantee of no increase in prices. I do not know of an item on which there has been so much lobbying as there has been on the item before us. Honorable members have, been sent for, and documents have been supplied, expressing the hope that we shall vote in a .certain direction.
– That is no offence.
– Quite so, if they were accurate. But I -find that the documents supplied . to us in reference to this item have to do with paraffine wax. When the item of paraffine wax was before the Committee, there was a great readiness displayed to show that there would be no increase in price, and that it would be able to purchase .it in any part of Australia. One unfortunate firm in Launceston, who received a guarantee to this effect, find, however, according to a letter- which appeared in the newspapers of to-day, that they cannot buy paraffine wax anywhere in the Commonwealth. I merely mention this fact to show that such guarantees are worthless. The honorable member for Macquarie almost worked us to tears by his description of this altruistic combination filled with the noblest sentiments. The honorable member for Cook has informed us that this combination has leased an enormous area of land, and that, while the members of the combination cannot, under the law, work the truck system, they are forcing their employes to live on the land which has been acquired, and for which they charge rent. I was surprised to hear the honorable member for Hindmarsh say that the question before us has nothing to do with the rates of wages. The great argument for protection is that internal competition will- prevent unduly increased prices, and that increased wages are paid to the workmen. In this case, there is only one Australian competitor, and we are told by the honorable member for Cook that men without clothing or food have urged that a duty is necessary in order to better their condition. However, seeing that the duty will prejudicially affect a large number of people, and that those who are endeavouring to exploit this industry are, at any rate, npt Australians, and that their employes are hardly used, while there is a monopoly of land and no real guarantee against an increase in prices,. I hope that users will not be. penalized by any increase in the duty.
– We should bear in mind that two principles are involved in this item. One is the amount of duty that we should place upon the article, and the other is whether we should legislate upon Tariff matters by proclamation or directly as a House. With the honorable member for Parkes, I think the Committee will be wise to decide first whether the House is to determine the imposition of duties, or whether it should be done by proclamation, and afterwards determine the amount of duty to be imposed. It would be unfair to those vitally concerned to allow the statements of the honorable member for Hindmarsh regarding the action of the miners to pass unchallenged. He appeared to indicate that the intensity and bitterness of the strike was largely due to the miners, and not to the mine-owners. The reason which he urged was that the miners refused arbitration. I believe the honorable member for Cook correctly put the position when he stated that the men have had a real grievance.
– Order. 1 must ask the honorable member not to pursue that subject.
– What I have said will be sufficient to convey to the Committee what’ I wish to indicate. I refuse to believe that, those men have not had a grievance. It is extraordinary that whenan item of this kind comes up for consideration we should find a company that have been fighting their working men to the bitter end prepared to capitulate and offer .the men something like reasonable terms. The company are in the position that they must either ca’pitulate or import contract labour to carry on. They tried to carry on under the conditions which existed and have practically failed. 1 hope that the honorable member for Macquarie is correct in his presentment of this phase of the question, and that the change in the attitude of the company is due, not- to ulterior considerations of duties, but to the fact that the management has passed into’ the hands of a gentleman who has some common -sense, and recognises that the work- ing men, as well as those interested only in the raising . of dividends, should have consideration. Those who advocate the imposition of this tax in order to find work for the men, to create an industry in Australia, and particularly to establish a rival to the great American corporation, seem to overlook the fact that that American Frankenstein’s monster, which they fear so much, was created under the very conditions under which they now ask this Chamber to build up the Australian, company, lt was under the special privileges of American Tariff protection that the Standard Oil Company was created “ It is largely owing to those privileges that it is able to wield its great power and to become within its own territory a great machine of oppression. How dp honorable members propose to prevent the repetition of that kind of .thing in Australia, and to avoid, creating a young Frankenstein’s monster ot our own ? The honorable .member for Cook informed the Committee that he had been led’ to give a number of protectionist votes on the assumption that wages would be regulated by legislation. Unlike that honorable member, I prefer to see the regulating machinery in active operation before giving Tariff concessions. When I see it established, I shall be prepared to judge proposals for protective duties on their merits. I see no reason to go back upon my free-trade principles, but 1 am prepared when the question arises to assist to formulate regulating machinery of that character, because I recognise that under present party conditions free-trade is a back number so far as the Commonwealth is concerned, and may continue so for a good many years to come. The only alternative is to ‘ try to legislate in the direction indicated by the honorable member for Cook. But do not other honorable members recognise that there are other par ties, in the shape of the large number of users of this material, to be considered as well as this particular company ? Have not those persons some claim also upon our consideration, or are they to be sacrificed at the shrine of the one particular interest whose cause a number of honorable members have advocated? That seems to be the attitude of some honorable members who can see only the one interest in this connexion, and do not appear to realize that there are other interests involved. My vote will be cast in the direction of giving fair consideration to the company, while also looking after the other “interests that are so vitally concerned. I .do not propose to commit myself to the principle of legislating on Tariff matters by proclamation instead of on the. ordinary lines that have so far been adopted by this Chamber.
– A good deal- has been made df the condition suggested by another place ; but we have not considered that aspect in’ regard to many other industries to which we have thought fit to give protection. If we had stipulated .that no industry, should be protected until it had reached a certain stage, - we should have had an interminable Tariff discussion, and therefore it’ seems to be wise to eliminate that deferred condition. I hope that that will be done, and the. duty, if possible, passed as requested. I am sorry that matters that do not directly bear upon the duty have been introduced. I specially avoided bringing them in, but one or two remarks that require a little explanation have been made. There has been talk of a strike, and of men being hungry and unclothed. When Mr. Sutherland, the consulting engineer and general manager of the company, came out, he said at once: “There must be no trouble with the men.” He holds that if there is trouble, a comptroller, being the more highly educated man, and better able to understand conditions, should .be responsible for settling it, and that there should be no trouble at all. He believes that if managers- understood their business as they ought to understand it, there would be no industrial” disputes in theworld to-day; He makes it his boast that he has had no industrial disputes. That is .the policy which he has pursued all along. Ten years ago, when in Cobar, he settled a trouble in the same magnanimous way. The question of the township is beyond the pale of Federal legislation. I still think that the proposals’ which the. company have in view, and which I have seen, place them entirely in the hands of the Government for regulation. They propose to charge no ground rent, to build decent houses for the employes, and charge the nominal rent of 10 per cent. on the ‘ cost, and to supply them with libraries, schools, and churches. In fact, they are following the ideals laid down by such philanthropic firms as Cadbury Brothers and Lever Brothers in the Old Country. If we had more firms of that disposition there would be a good deal less trouble between the masses and the employers. Notwithstanding all that, I adhere to my former statement : that natural opportunities should be controlled by the people, but that, if that can not be secured, the next best thing is to see them in the hands of companies like the one I have referred to.
.- Since names have been introduced, I wish to say that the general manager of this company impressed me very favorably as a man who was anxious to do what was fair by the men. I rather deprecate the introduction of these matters in connexion with the Tariff.
– So do I.
– The absurdity of the whole business is that this suggestion for a joint address, and the issue of a proclamation, is over a question of¾d. per gallon. If the whole of the request were wiped out the Tariff as it stands would give to this industry the advantage of duties of 3¼d. and 3d. per gallon. But the whole of this machinery is to be provided in order, at some future time, to give an additional duty of¾d. It is an utterly ridiculous idea. It would be very much better to settle the duty at once.
– I think that it would be a mistake to agree to the amendment of the honorable member for Parkes, because if we did we should retain the words “Lubricating (Mineral)” preceded by the letters “jj” within brackets. There should be power to strike out one of those letters,
– I ask leave to include in my amendment the omission of one J.
Modification amended accordingly.
– If the amendment be agreed to we shall have a paragraph under which lubricating mineral oils will be subject to duties of 4d. and 3¾d. per gallon, but that will be in conflict with another paragraph under which such oils axe dutiable at 3¼d. and 3d. I shall now ask the Chairman to report progress, in order that we may deal with that question tomorrow.
House adjourned at 10.40 p.m. .
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 5 May 1908, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1908/19080505_reps_3_45/>.