3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., andread prayers.
Mr. COON presented a petition from certain employes in the wire netting trade, . asking to have the duty on wire netting re-imposed.
Petition received and read.
Errors in Telegraph Messages - Telegraphic Delays - Tasmanian Mail Service.
– In a letter written to me by Mr. H. A. Pratt, commission agent, of West’ Devonport, Tasmania, the writer says that he wishes me to bring under notice - the continual loss we, as produce agents, are put to through the mutilation of our telegraph messages. On the 2nd of April, I wired a Sydney firm an offer of 20 tons of potatoes, at ?3 17s. 6d. f.o.b. The message despatched through an error in the George Town cable station, read ?3 7s. 6d., thus causing me a loss of over ?10 10s. Now, every business firm is responsible for the errors of their servants, but the officials screen their error by stating “ no claim can be entertained for compensation.” May I trespass upon your good nature to see into the matter for me? I have it on good authority that a claim of over ?80 was paid by the State Government.
Will the Postmaster -General look into these complaints, and make his servants responsible for their errors? I hope, too, that the Government will see that compensation is given where loss is caused by the mistakes of the Department.
-I shall cause a thorough inquiry to be made.
-I wish to read a letter received this morning, in which the writer says -
I enclose one telegram which you see took 10hours 25 minutes to come from Gerringong. Ihave driven the distance in less than 9 hours, and on a previous occasion a telegram was handed in atthesameofficeat12.30,andIdid not receive it here till 9.45 that night. Again, a telegram was sent from Sydney about 5.30 one afternoon, andI got it at11.30 next day, five hours after I had received a letter confirming the telegram.
I shall hand the enclosed telegram to the Postmaster-General. The state of affairs mentioned by my correspondent is disgraceful, and I ask the Postmaster-General to make a full investigation of his complaints, with a view to havingmatters rectified.
– Every inquiry will be made.
– While the other complaints are being investigated, I ask the Postmaster-General to cause an inquiry to be made as to why no answer has yet been given to a complaint which I made to the Deputy Postmaster- General some weeks ago, in reference to a telegram which I sent from this building, which was not delivered to. an address within the city radius until five hours after its receipt by the despatching office.
– If the honorable member will give me the particulars, I shall cause inquiry to be made.
– Some time ago it was promised by the Union Steamship Company and the Huddart Parker. Steamship Company that the Coogee would be replaced by the Rotomakana for the winter service between Tasmania and themainland. As there is some doubt about the fulfilment of that promise, I wish to know from the Postmaster-General whether effect will be given to it, and, if so, when ?
– The Rotomahana is on its way from New Zealand, and will take up the running immediately after arrival.
– In view of the importance of the memorandum of the Treasurer on the subject of the transfer of the debts of the States to the Commonwealth and the financial relations connected therewith, I ask him when he will afford the House an opportunity to discuss it.
– It is not possible to name a date at the present moment. We certainly shall not postpone the consideration of the Senate’s requests on the Customs Tariff Bill to deal with the subject. I do not know what the Premiers of the States intend to do in the matter ; but it may not be necessary to deal with the scheme at the earliest possible date, even after the Customs Tariff Bill has been disposed of. The course taken will depend a great deal on the action of the Premiers.
– Has the scheme been submitted to the Cabinet, and received the approval of the Prime Minister?
– Of course, it has.
– I should like to ask the Prime Minister whether he approved of the scheme which the right honorable member for Swan submitted to the Premiers’ Conference last year, and, if so, whether he does not think that he should take’ an early opportunity to reconcile his position with regard to these two widely different schemes?
– The scheme submitted by the right honorable member for Swan was one for ten years only as an extension of the Braddon clause, and for reasons then given was put forward because of the urgent desire of the Government to obtain control of a certain portion of the Customs revenue before 1910, to at once introduce a system of old-age pensions. That necessity is now being’ removed.
– My scheme would not have come into operation until 1910.
-In to-day’s Age is a paragraph headed “ Tinned Rabbits for the Navy, Australian supply.” Will the Government call the attention of the Admiralty to the fact that Australia can supply all the rabbits needed by the Navy, and that the Commonwealth laws insure that they will be good? At Mount Gambier, and Millicent, there are the most up-to-date plants in the world, and the rabbits are of the best quality.
– The information has been, or will be, conveyed to the Admiralty. It should be added that the representative of the places mentioned deserves as high an encomium as he has passed on the rabbits.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether he recollects that when the proposal to grant £5,000 towards the expedition to the Antarctic regions, conducted by Lieutenant Shackleton, was before this House, the statement was made that that officer would complete a meteorological and meteoric survey of Australia? I also wish to know whether he has observed that it has now been announced that no such promise was made, and that there is no intention whatever of making any such survey ?
– I am not aware of any promise in regard to the meteoric or meteorological conditions of Australia having been made by Lieutenant Shackleton. I understood the only statement made in that connexion to relate to observations while the expedition remains in the south polar regions.
Reclassification of Officers
– I understand that some time ago a scheme was submitted for the reclassification of officers in the Postal Department, and I desire to ask the Postmaster-General whether that scheme has received his approval, and, if so, when effect will be given to it?
– The scheme prepared by the Public Service Commissioner, and approved by the Postmaster-General, will be submitted to the Executive at its first meeting.
– In the summary at the head of the Argus reprint of the Treasurer’s financial proposals, it is made to appear that it is intended that ^6,000,000 per annum is to be returned to the States for a period of five years, and that the amount is then to be gradually reduced, and finally abolished after a period of thirty years, whilst, in the “ recapitulation “ paragraph of the scheme, the reduction over thirty years is made applicable to the amount which the States are required to pay the Commonwealth to make up the interest on their respective debts. In order to remove any possible misapprehension, will the Treasurer say whether the summary mentioned is or is not correct?
– I have not seen the summary in question, but, as read by the honorable member, it is absolutely incorrect. The second part of the statement is more reliable.
– I desire to ask the honorable member for Fawkner whether he is correctly reported in yesterday’s Argus to have said -
That party may drop its fads, but they were not allowed to do so bv the caucus. He was betraying no confidence when he said that members of the party often opposed the dictation of the caucus, and were yet compelled to vote on questions against their consciences.
If the honorable member has been correctly reported, will he cite one instance in which a member of the Labour Party has been compelled to vote against his conscience ?
– I really think that some notice should be given of a serious question of that sort.
– Did the honorable member make the statement ?
– l’ do not know whether I did or not. But I really think - in view of what our friends in the Labour corner have said about me - that they are a very thin-skinned lot.
– The honorable member made a serious charge.
– It is quite true, too. They have to vote as a majority direct.
– That is absolutely incorrect, and the right honorable member knows it. ‘
– I should be sorry to have to name the two honorable members who are still continuing an altercation across the Chamber.
– If you, sir, had heard the disgraceful language used towards me, you would not have been surprised at my little rejoinder.
– If I had heard any comments of the kind referred to, I should certainly have called those who uttered them to order.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. You know, Mr. Speaker, that I have ho desire to say anything offensive to, or to be on ill terms with any honorable member in this House, and when I interjected a few moments ago I did not intend to suggest that the members of the LabourParty or any other honorable members in this House voted against their moral con- . science. I think that as a general rule, in connexion with our votes, ‘ the question of conscience does not come in. We simply exercise our judgment as to what is the most desirable course to pursue. All that I intended to say was that as I understand the position, members of the Labour Party, when they differ in caucus, on caucus matters are bound to be guided by the decision of the majority, however much they may be individually opposed to the proposition under consideration.
– The honorable member, is wrong.
– I did not mean to say anything more than I have indicated, and I do not want my friends in the Labour Party to think that I intended to say more. I repeat that what I meant was that on matters coming within the platform of the Labour Party, when they came to be discussed in caucus the majority ruled, and the others had to submit, however much they differed from the decision of the majority.
– By way of personal explanation, I should like to say that when I interjected, in reply to the right honorable member for Swan, that he was hardly the kind of man to say what he did say, 1, really said what I fully meant. The right honorable member had a seat in a Cabinet for a very long while, and he gave a number of votes then, which he has since said were entirely wrong. I thought that the right honorable gentleman had given those votes against his conscience, but he- now tells us. that they were errors of judgment merely. I am sure that the Labour Party are quite content to leave the matter at that.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister with reference to the grave condition of affairs in the New Hebrides disclosed by his reply to a question put by the honorable member for Mernda yesterday, whether the Government have made any protest to the British Colonial Office against its attitude of apparent apathy and indifference to British and Australian interests in the islands. If not, does he propose to make strong representations to the Home authorities without delay, in reference to the existing condition of affairs ?
– Last year I made a protest in person in as emphatic terms as it was possible to employ. In reply, I received certain . assurances. Some objection was taken to the nature of the protest which I then lodged. Under these circumstances - my views being perfectly well known - I have since confined myself to simple representations of facts in a way that constitutes perhaps a sufficiently effective protest.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether he has observed the following paragraph, which appears in to-day’s Age -
At a meeting of the Donald Shire Council, Cr. E. Osier tendered his resignation, as he is leaving the district for Queensland, where he has taken land. He said he had to settle his children on the land, and he could not get land in Victoria for them. He had to go out among strangers to find homes for his family, as scores of other Victorians had had to do within the last few years.
In view of that statement is there any way in which the Government can help to retain these splendid farmers in Victoria?
-I would remind the honorable member that the Commonwealth knows no distinction between States, and that any movement of settlers from one State to another is beyond our ken. But I regret to say that I did notice, not only the paragraph in question, but also a. long article in a recent number of the Sydney Daily Telegraph, in reference to a similar condition of affairs in New South Wales where there was a demand for land far exceeding the available existing supply. I have seen similar statements made in other States, and regret them, because I hope to see the time when not only the whole of the local demand for land will be met by the States, but we shall also be prepared to find land for a large number of white immigrant settlers.
– Following up the honorable member for Darwin’s question, I wish to ask the Prime Ministerwhether he has seen in this morning’s newspapers a cabled report of a, speech made by Mr. Price, the Labour Premier of South Australia, in which he referred again to the urgent need of immigration to Australia. If the Prime Minister believes that, as is claimed by a certain section of politicians in Australia, there is no land available for settlement here will he despatch to Mr. Price a cablegram pointing out that he is going beyond his book in advocating immigration to Australia? On the other hand, if he believes that Mr. Price’s statement is correct, will he cease to make in this House statements which would appear to assist the Labour Party in laying this base charge against the Commonwealth?
– I may, perhaps, be pardoned for saying that the honorable member’s question, and particularly its conclusion, appears to be incoherent. I have made a statement of facts as to the States, and am not concerned with the question of whether or not a statement of fact is in the interests of or adverse to the Labour Party. I have repeatedly read in newspapers such as the Sydney Daily Telegraph - which no one will say is a Labour newspaper - that the number of applicants for lots offered in a particular district was greatly in excess of the blocks available. I regret that such a state of affairs should prevail in Australia, and think it can and ought to be altered. I saw the report of Mr. Price’s speech, and noted that his remarks were associated with a reference to the proposed locking of the Murray. It is perfectly certain that when that great work is accomplished thousands of acres now carrying units will be able to support scores of families.
– Does not the Prime Minister think that the action of the honorable member for Darwin in calling public attention to the irresponsible statement of a farmer as to the lack of land for settlement in Australia savours verv strongly of the “ stinking fish “ policy ?
– It is, in some aspects, unfortunate that attention should be called to such a statement, but it is still more unfortunate that it should be founded on fact.
– Is the Prime Minister aware thatpart of Mr. Price’s political programme to overcome the difficulty referred to is a progressive land tax, and that he’ has carried through the House of Assembly in South Australia a measure providing for such a tax?
– I can scarcely answer the question, but may add that I have learned from the Acting Premier of South Australia - the present Chief Secretary - that he intends next session to reintroduce that measure.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether he is aware that the Government of Queensland recently resumed 90,000 acres, and that, although it has thrown open 45,000 acres for selection, only 10 per cent. of the land has been applied f or ?
-I was not aware of that.
– Does not the Prime Minister think that the Premier of South Australia has advertised Australia in the Old Country better than has any man from the Commonwealth except the Prime Minister himself?
Suspension of Mr. Drummond:
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow -
I give that answer in relation to the question of suspension because the honorable member is aware that the Royal Commission passed some comments on Mr. Drummond’s qualification for the office which he was then temporarily occupying.
Instruction to Customs Officers
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow -
Wages of Casual Labourers
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Whether he will place upon the table all correspondence, papers, and reports bearing upon his decision of 4th inst. regarding wages to casual labourers in the sugar industry under the. Sugar Bounty Act of1905?
– I have no objection to place the papers in question on the library table.
Cabinet Committee’s Inquiries
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows -
A great many matters, including those referred to by the honorable member, have been inquired into by my colleagues and myself in Sydney, and further information elucidating the conditions of the postal service in New South Wales has been requisitioned.
Inquiries are also being made as to the conditions in the other States, the result of which will be laid before Parliament.
Purchase of “ Lone Hand “ Article. - Payment for Articles
– Are there any papers from Captain Collins bearing on the distribution of the Lone Hand article in England, showing the expense incurred, or giving other information? If so, will the Prime Minister consent to lay them on the table?
– If there are such papers, I shall lay them on the table.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
With reference to his statement as reported in Hansard (unrevised proof) in reply to a question by the honorable member for Wentworth, that “The Government was supplied with 50,000 copies of the Lone Hand, and these were sent to every newspaper in the United Kingdom, and to every leading newspaper in the United States. Those copies were in addition to the 10,000 copies of the article which was circulated through the United Kingdom as a separate pamphlet.” -
Was he aware when these 50,000 copies of the Lone Hand were circulated throughout the United Kingdom and the United States that there was published in that issue a defamatory article on the Capital of the Southern Hemisphere, entitled, “ Sydney: The Cinderella of Cities?”
Was he aware that the article was preceded by the following explanatory sub-heading, printed in bold black type : - “ How a City which has the most beautiful site in the whole world is running the risk of remaining one of the ugliest, the most backward, and the most disease-stricken; while its commercial future is imperilled ; “ and that the article contained the following, amongst other disparaging references to the Capital City of Australia : - “ Sydney is inthe position of the Cinderella of the fairy tale - in the kitchen covered with soot and. grime - slovenly and out-at-heels, bedraggled and neglected.” …. “By her own exertions what has she done but’ uglify ‘ the primeval beauty of her site.” . . . “The criminal negligence of the past is matched by a criminal content and neglect as to the possibilities of present improvement and future growth.” …. “The effort will be made by articles from time to time in the Lone Hand to preach civic reform for all Australia, with Sydney usually as ‘ the shocking example ‘ “ ?
Does he think that it is fair to pick out for the subject of an illustration to the article one of the oldest and ugliest slums in the “Rocks” area, and thus convey to readers in England and America, the erroneous impression that the illustration is typical of the workers’ homes in Sydney?
Does he think the broadcast circulation of an article of the above description amongst the people of Great Britain and America is calculated to create a favorable impression of Sydney, and induce people to come out and make their homes there ; and
Does he think it fair to ask the people of New South Wales to assist in defraying the cost of a publication, and its circulation abroad, in which their Capital City is defamed and untruthfully referred to as “the most diseasestricken “ of Australian cities ; and in which unmerited charges of ineptitude and incompetency are levelled against its municipal and other authorities?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow -
The inaccuracy in the report quoted by the honorable member was pointed out by me yesterday.
I am aware that the proprietors of the
Lone Hand circulated 50,000 copiesof the first number throughout the United Kingdom and? elsewhere, and remember that an article relating to Sydney did appear in that number. 2, 3, and 4. I do not feel called on to ex ercise judicial functions in regard to criticism of local matters by a local publication.
Motion (by Mr. Kelly) proposed -
That a return be laid upon the table of the House showing -
That what papers there are in existence in connexion with all the above matters be laid upon the table of the House.
– I should like to know, Mr. Speaker, whether I should be in order in moving an amendment providing that the proposed return shall also show the payments to, and arrangements made with, Mr. John Plummer by the Reid-McLean Administration ?
– There is no objection to that.
– The honorable member will see that the motion has been brought on as unopposed business. It will be competent for him to move his amendment on some other date, but. if he were to move an amendment now, and any comment took place on the motion, it could not be dealt with to-day.
– I shall give notice to move to-morrow for a return giving the information desired by the honorable member for Corio.
– I wish to oppose this motion.
– Then it will have to stand over until a later date.
In Committee (Consideration of Senate’s requests resumed from 5th May, vide page 10828) :
Item 234. Oils -
In vessels exceeding1 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 such manufacture is sufficiently established in the Commonwealth. Per gallon (General Tariff), 4d. ; (United Kingdom), 33/4d.
Upon which Sir William Lyne had moved -
That requested amendment be made.
And Mr. Bruce Smith -
That the motion be amended by the addition of the modification that the letters “jj” be left out with a . view to insert in lieu thereol the letter “j,” and that the words “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,” be left out.
.- I understood last night that the Treasurer intended to devise some means of preventing this item being duplicated. The honororable gentleman pointed out that, under the heading of “j “ we had already voted for, I think, an immediate duty of 3¼d., whereas now we have a proposal for a duty of 4d., consequent to a proclamation. The Treasurer seemed to think last night that my proposal to eliminate the words embarrassed him in dealing with the Tariff, by leaving the two items therein ; but 1 point out that the two items would be in the Tariffin any case.Supposing my proposal to eliminate the words were not made, we should then be in the peculiar position of still having the item of lubricating oil in two places, subject to an immediate duty of 3¼d., and to a duty of 4d., following on a proclamation. It will be seen, therefore, that this amendment does not in any way add to the embarrassment caused by the duplicate proposals.; and I suggest to the Treasurer that he could very easily get: rid of one of these duties by a recommittal.
– I do not desire any recommittal.
– Then the only question before us is whether the duty shall be 3¼d. as passed, or 4d., as proposed by the Senate, the latter being not an immediate duty, but one pursuant to a proclamation. I think the Committee has shown very clearly that they desire to get rid of the principle of making duties depend on a proclamation to be used hereafter. We all desire to know exactly what the Tariff is going to be, and to have it settled without liability to having the question disturbed at some future time by a proposal on the part of the Government for a proclamation to be indorsed by both Houses.
– That point was settled on a former division.
– The honorable member for Flinders is quite right in saying that that point has been dealt with ; but it was dealt with by the proposal being eliminated, and I am proposing a further elimination now. The Treasurer, however, has pointed out, as if it were a consequence of my amendment, that there would be two duties left in the Tariff on the same commodity.
– The honorable member for Parkes is quite right in saying that I postponed the further consideration of this item in order that I might inquire into the effect of the proposal made. I have satisfied myself that whether the paragraph jj is in or not, no harm can be done. But it is better to take one of thej’s out, and if that be done, then the question as to the duty of 4d. and 33/4d. will have to be decided. On the decision of the latter question, the duty carried will take precedence. i do not intend to oppose the proposal.
Amendment agreed to.
Proposed modification made.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne), proposed -
That the requested amendment, as modified, be made.
.- I desire to ask the Treasurer whether the duties of 3¼d. and 3d., which are already imposed in a previous item, do not amount to something like 40 per cent. or 50 per cent. of the value of the oil? I have no personal knowledge on the subject, but if such be the percentage, I ask whether it is not sufficient encouragement for this industry?
– Persons interested asked for a duty of 6d.
– Then I should say that a duty of 3d. would be fair.
Question - That the requested amendment inserting new paragraphj in item 234 (Oils), as modified, be made - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 9
Question so resolved in the negative.
Requested amendment, as modified, not made.
Item 234. Oils -
In vesselsexceeding one gallon, viz. : -
Request. - Leave out “n.e.i.,” insert “, being”; leave out “and the like,” insert “ and all Petroleum Spirit under . 790 gravity.”
– I move -
That the requested amendments be made.
– Cannot the Minister explain the Senate’s requests? I do not care how short the explanation is ; the Committee should know their effect.
– It was not intended that mineral oils, n.e.i., should be dutiable at fd. per gallon, though those rates were to apply to naphtha and benzine. With regard to the request that the words “ and all petroleum spirit under . 790 gravity,” be inserted, that is a drag-net provision which will catch any mineral spirit that may be imported under any other name than those specified, and a gravity of 790 has been fixed to prevent the duty from applying to highly refined kerosene oil, investigations having shown that such oil has a higher gravity.
.- The Minister says that the second request is to prevent the duties from applying to the best kerosene oil, but what about the
Senate’s request to insert in the item new paragraphpp, providing that kerosene and other refined petroleum oils, n.e.i., having a flash-point of not less than 97 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the Abel-Pensky close test, shall be admitted free?
– That provision applies to oils for domestic use. Without the provision; under consideration by the Committee, the oils to which reference has been made will be charged a duty of 3¼d., whereas we propose to’ charge a duty of 3/4d.
– I think that the position should be made clear. In my opinion, the Government should not be allowed to apply a drag-net provision to petroleum oils, by making dutiable kerosene other than that actually used as an illuminant, seeing that the intention was to make kerosene free.
.- I wish to know whether the making of the amendment requested by, the Senate with regard to petroleum spirit will not have the effect of subjecting to duty kerosene now imported for use as a motive power in connexion with oil engines.
– No. That falls under the next paragraph in the item.
.- I should like the position made a little clearer. Will the kerosene used for oil engines - oil of low quality - be dutiable under the requested amendment, if the proposed new paragraph pp is not agreed to?
– No; engine oil is dutiable under paragraph l as solar oil.
– It is not dutiable under paragraph k?
– The Minister has not explained why petroleum spirit should be dutiable. We have been asked to impose duties for the protection of those who are engaged in the making of motor engines, and now we are being asked to tax the oil used to drive such engines. During the winter months a superior oil must be used to get the Australian engines going, whereas imported motors will start with benzine or a cruder oil. The imposition of a duty on naphtha and petrol is against the interests of the makers of engines in Australia. The oil is not produced here.
– It should be, and will be.
– We have not the base from which to purify and make such oils. The proposed duty is a tax, and imposes a disability on Australian manufacturers.
Amendment (by Mr. Sinclair) proposed -
That the following modification be added - before the word “gravity” insert the word “ specific.”
– That is the departmental interpretation now.
.- As a test of the strength of petroleum spirit I confess that the reference in this paragraph to a specific gravity of less than 790 does not enlighten me very much. If these figures be inserted I do not know what quality of oil will be subjected to duty. But if the request of the Senate would have the effect of imposing a tax upon that necessitous section of the community who dwell in rural districts and who are compelled to use oil as the motive power for their engines, I think that we ought to reject it. If we admit kerosene for illuminating purposes free, but impose a duty upon it when it is used in connexion with rural industries, I think that we shall be guilty of a very grave inconsistency. The proposal of the Treasurer will subject to duty all. the lower grade oils now being utilized for motive power.
– That is not so.
.- It is generally understood that any spirit with a higher specific gravity than . 790 is kerosene. Any oil with a lower specific gravity is petroleum spirit, and may be used for such purposes as naphtha and benzine are used. We need to exercise great care to prevent petroleum spirit of a less gravity than 790 being introduced ostensibly for industrial purposes, but afterwards being used for domestic purposes.
.- I think that we should have some further information respecting this item. It seems to me that it will be very difficult to control the various qualities of these oils by merely placing an embargo upon them through the Customs House. All these oils should, I think, be dealt with under the Commerce Act. I am quite aware that at the present time that Act does notgive the Minister power to compel oils of different degrees of strength to be branded, and I think that it requires to be amended in that direction. That is the way in which all the oils used for industrial purposes should be treated.
– These oils are not used for those purposes.
– If the Treasurer can assure me that there is no danger of oils used for motive purposes being taxed under this proposal I shall be satisfied. Otherwise 1 shall vote against it.
– I can give the honorable member that assurance.
.- It appears to me that a specific gravity of 790 marks the difference between kerosene, and benzine, benzoline, gasoline, pentane, petrol, and turpentine substitutes. This Committee has already decided that kerosene for illuminating purposes shall be admitted free, but it has not decided that other oils shall be so admitted. I am satisfied that if we fix too low a specific gravity many of these oils will be introduced as kerosene, and will afterwards come into competition with- the other oils which are being produced in the Commonwealth. The oils enumerated in this paragraph are used chiefly in. connexion with motor cars and motor boats, and the remarks of the honorable member for Wimmera had reference principally to residual oils. In the mineral oil industry in New South Wales £ 1, 000,000 has already been invested by a company which to-day is capable of supplying the requirements of the Commonwealth. Under such circumstances I am surprised at protectionist members of this Committee casting free-trade votes simply because the industry is not native of their own State.
– I do not think that the honorable member has any reason to complain. A duty of 3d. per gallon has already been imposed on lubricating oils, and an impost of id. per lb. has been levied on paraffine wax.’
– I think that a limit should be fixed to the specific gravity of kerosene. At the present time there is a large quantity of kerosene upon the market which is being used -in the homes of the poor, and the use of .which is positively dangerous. If we desire to protect the poorer section of the community, we shall see that only kerosene of the highest standard is used for illuminating purposes. I am convinced that if the request of the Senate be rejected, inferior oils’ will be introduced and sold for lighting purposes.
– The Treasurer has stated that the oils specified in this paragraph are not used for motive purposes. As a matter of fact’, they are used for no other purposes. A motor engine in reality is a gas engine. Naphtha and benzine are extremely volatile substances, and as soon as they are mixed with water they are useless. It is their admixture with air which ‘ generates a gas that is the motive power of the ordinary motor. Kerosene possesses a higher specific gravity than .790. The oils mentioned in this paragraph are really spirits which are used for motive power, and for motive power only. The Treasurer is evidently labouring under a misapprehension.
– The experts say that these oils are not used for motive purposes.
– If a naked light came into contact with these spirits an explosion would result. Electricity is, therefore, used with this class of oils. The gas generated must be enclosed in a chamber, and it is the explosion which produces the motive power. The Treasurer has attempted to induce honorable- members to vote with him by declaring that these substances are not used for motive purposes. I hope that the Committee will not be under a misapprehension, as is the Treasurer.
– If the honorable., member knows better than the experts; of course my statement is wrong.
– We very frequently see “ mora “ spirit advertised. That is a naphtha. “ Pratt’s Naphtha and Benzine.” which we also see advertised, are used to supply the motive power to motors. “ Mota “ spirit comes from India, while “Pratt’s spirit” comes from America. It is impossible to use either of them as an illuminant.
– As the duty is not in dispute, why worry about that? Under this proposal the spirit will come in at a lower rate than it would do if these words were taken out.
– I wish the spirit to be free, because there is no local industry involved. My real reason for rising was to put the honorable member on safer ground than he was induced to take by the statement of the Treasurer that this spirit was not used as a motive power.
– And the honorable member has proved the correctness of my statement.
– So much information has been supplied that I find it difficult to readily follow this proposal. I understand, however, that the crude oil used for oil engines will come in under the requested new paragraph “pp,” and that if the proposal be agreed to it will be free.
– That is so.
– As I desire to extend some protection to the Commonwealth Oil Corporation, which is carrying on a very important industry in New South Wales, I think I shall be safe in voting for the requested amendment.
– The requested amendment reduces the duty.
– Only in respect of the spirit.
– This is the best that we can do at the present stage. I shall vote for the requested amendment, on the understanding that the oil which is used by farmers and others for engines will be free under the requested new paragraph “pp.”
.- I have here a Hand Book on Petroleum, by Captain Thompson and Dr. B. Redwood, from which it would appear that the specific gravity of the spirit used for motors is 700. That being so, spirit with a specific gravity of .790 is really a high class oil, used for lighting purposes. It was pointed out. in this work that -
The “ refined oil “ obtained from American petroleum is of several descriptions, but only two of these, the ordinary American lamp oil of commerce, and what is known as “ water white “ or “ high test”” oil, areimported into this country - meaning England-
The ordinary oil is usually of a pale straw colour, and has a specific gravity of about .796. Its flash point is generally not much above the legal limit of 73 deg.f. (Abel test). The higher grade of oil, of which the average crude petroleum yields only about15 or16 per cent., is colourless, or nearly so, and has a specific gravity of about .788.
I assume that very little above that percentage will be imported into Australia. This proposal means, therefore, that under the general Tariff, a duty of3/4d. per gallon will be imposed on all that class of oil.
Motion agreed to.
Requested amendments made.
Item 234. Oils -
In vessels exceeding one gallon, viz. -
Request- Make the duty per gallon 1d.
– The explanation furnished me in regard to this request is that its adoption would be likely to cause trouble in those industries in which liquid fuel is used. I have also other information in regard to the request. I proposeto ask the Committee to agree toa modification separating the item, and making the duty on solar oils 1d. per gallon, while leaving the duty of ¼d. per gallon to apply only to residual oils.
– If the Treasurer were not to adopt that course,100 men would be thrown out of employment here.
– I am glad that I am ableto propose something of which the honorable member approves.
.- I am not canvassing the merits of the question, but would point out that the Only alteration requested by the Senate is in respect of the duty. It has not made any request in respect of the wording of the item. The Minister proposes to abolish the item as it stands, and to create a new one.
– That question, however, has been tested.
– I believe that the question has been tested, and, therefore, although I do not think that the proposed modification will come within the terms of the Constitution as to the respective powers of the two Houses, I suppose that we shall have to agree to it.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the requested amendment be not made, but that the following modification be added to the item -
And on and after 6th May, 1908 - (l)1. Solar oils, per gallon1d.
– On a point of order, I should like to know, Mr. Chairman, whether it is competent for the Treasurer to move a modification providing for the insertion of the word “crude”? I hold that the Treasurer’s proposal to insert that word will make the item different from that which was considered by the Senate.
– Surely it is a modification.
– Oil cannot be residual without being crude.
– Then there is no necessity for the insertion of the word “crude.” A proposal in another place to request that that word be inserted was rejected.
– The question raised by the honorable member places me in a rather awkward position, since I have not sufficient technical knowledge to enable me to say whether the addition of the word “crude” to the paragraph relating to residual oils would make the item refer to something which did not appear in it as it left this House originally. It is a technical matter, and it is almost impossible for me to say whether the addition of the word 1 crude ‘ ‘ would alter the meaning of the words “residual oils.”
– As we proceed with the Tariff, we recognise more and more that one needs to be an expert in many matters to be able to deal with it. I understood that the Government intimated its intention of accepting the requested amendment.
– No; we are now proposing a modification dividing the item-
– I wish to press for the acceptance of the request.
– There might have been some justification for the acceptance of the request, since the item relates to an indus-. try in New South Wales which has established itself on a very broad basis.
– I do not think, Mr. Chairman, that you are fully seized with the actual point of order that I wish to raise. I take this point of order with no ulterior object, but if we are allowed in this case to go beyond the request made by the Senate we may have to do so in connexion with other requests. My contention is that if the word “ crude “ does not alter the article described in the item to which it applies, namely, residual oils, there is no occasion to insert it. If it does, then the Minister is proposing to insert in the item something with which the Senate has not dealt.
– I would suggest, on the question of order, that we are not tied to the actual words used in the item. This is not like amending part of a clause in a Bill ; we are dealing with the request of the Senate on a substantive proposal ; and if the addition of this word simply provided for solar oil, without residual oil, it would be competent for us to make the addition, because we should be operating on the amendment suggested by the Senate. We can subject solar oil to a duty and exempt residual’ oil, but if the effect is to introduce a new proposal, which does not embrace either solar oil or residual oil, it is not competent for us to make the alteration,
– Do I understand that the question of crude oil, as distinguished from residual oil, is before the Chair ?
– lt is quite competent to make any necessary alteration. For instance, if the Treasurer desired, it would be a fair modification to move that one oil should be subject to a duty of id., and the other oil subject to a duty of £d. But as to the word “ crude,” as there has been an objection raised by honorable members who regard it as another item altogether, and as I have no technical knowledge on the subject. I must rule such an amendment out of order.
– As I desire to have the suggestion of the Senate tested, it would be as well to know whether that matter will be settled before the Treasurer’s amendment is dealt with.
– The modification must be dealt . with first, and, if it be rejected, then the honorable member may deal with the original proposal. Is it the pleasure of the Committee -that the Treasurer have leave to amend the modification by leaving out the word “ Crude?”
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
Modification amended accordingly.
.- The Treasurer has .placed it beyond my power to do more than has been indicated by the Chairman; and I must protest against the action of the Minister.
– The honorable member may have an opportunity to do what ho desires.
– Protectionists vote for duties in relation to industries that are known to have no prospects of success, and still more do they vote for duties when it is known that an industry will be open to such competition as will regulate prices, apart from any prospective powers we may have in this connexion. I may say that, in addition to the one company already established, there are two other companies, who own equally large and rich deposits, and which are prepared to enter into the bus:ness as soon as this duty is imposed This shows that, apart from any administrative power, there will be sufficient competition to insure a check on prices. In 1906, there were imported 187,000 gallons of oil, showing that the facility for dumping has been sufficient to subvert the duty, if any, which has hitherto prevailed. At any rate, this importation shows that the protection, up to the present, has not been sufficient to secure the market to our own people; and I appeal to all protectionists to vote with me on this question.
.- There is no doubt that this is a substantial industry in New South Wales, and that it is not receiving at the hands of the Government that consideration which might have been expected. There were, as has been stated, 187,000 gallons imported in 1906; and it is indisputable that this oil can be, and will be, supplied within the near future. Expenditure on this industry is going on under able and experienced direction ; and the whole of this importation will be rendered unnecessary by the production in New South Wales and elsewhere. I have myself seen contracts for a supply of over 50,000 gallons of New South Wales oils for use in Victoria in connexion with brickworks. We all know that these various oils are the results of different stages in distillation, solar oil being the third product, and residual oil, of course, a later product. The honorable member for Macquarie, who attaches so much importance to this industry, will act wisely if he accepts the suggestion which has been made. Neither he nor the industry has anything to thank the Treasurer for in accepting a suggestion which represents a modification of the position I understood to have been definitely agreed upon by the honorable gentleman last night.
– If the Senate’s request is put and lost, will there be an opportunity of voting on the Treasurer’s modification, or shall we have to revert to the existing duties? If the Senate’s request is not put, I shall have to accept the Treasurer’s proposal, though I must protest.
– We are now following the course we have followed all through, namely, that any modification that is proposed is first dealt with. If the honorable member desires to vote for the Senate’s suggestion he must, first of all, vote against the Treasurer’s proposal, which, if negatived, will place the Senate’s suggestion before us.
– I was surprised to hear the honorable member for Kooyong say that it is “ indisputable “ that this enterprise is going to be successful.
– I say that I think it will be so, in certain directions.
– I am sure I hope that this particular company may be successful, but I imagine it is going too far to say that any financial or mining venture is “ indisputably “ going to be successful.
– With the aid of the duty, it will be successful.
– I did not rise,however, to draw attention to what seems to me a slight exaggeration-
– I do not think it is.
– I rose more to point out that, according to the information I have, this company is in a position to succeed with or without a duty.
– The company has plenty of money to lose !
– I do not mean that for one moment. I understand that this company can produce oil more cheaply in New South Wales than similar oil can be produced anywhere in the world, with the exception of Batoum.
– I think not.
– The information given to me by people who are in a position to know is what I have stated; and in New South Wales there is an advantage, seeing that the Batoum fields involve haulage over a great distance to the Black Sea; and, therefore, in spite of the practically inexhaustible supplies of Batoum, the oil can be produced more cheaply in Australia than shipped from the Black Sea.
– Did the honorable member’s informants tell him that the foreign companies are prepared to fight the Australian companies, even at a loss, in order to gain the market ?
– I am merely stating the facts as they were stated to me, and the honorable member does not attempt to refute them. I presume the honorable member admits the basic fact that oil can be produced more cheaply in New South Wales than in any other part of the world, except Batoum.
– Possibly, but it is of no use producing oil if we cannot command the market, owing to foreign competition carried on at a loss.
– There is no Australian market, in the true sense of the word, for Australian oil yet; and we ought not to be so blind in our advocacy of a particular company as to heap burdens on manufacturers, engineers, and general consumers, in a way that cannot conduce to the advancement of Australian industries.
– I am glad that it is proposed to divide this item. The honorable member for Macquarie, if my information is correct, has not much to fear from the introduction of foreign residual oils at a low rate. These oils are very crude, and are used mainly for fuel, and I am given to understand that the shale deposits in the honorable member’s electorate do not produce that kind of oils, which are a primary necessity in a number of industries, notably, manufacturing industries, where great heat is required. If, therefore, we impose a heavy duty on residual oils we shall do no great good to the oil industry of New South Wales, and, at the same time, do much injury to a number of other industries. I shall support the proposal of the Government to divide these oils, and I am glad that they are prepared to stand by the original decision of this Committee. In my opinion a duty of even¼d. is too much ; and to impose a duty of1d. would practically prohibit importations, with the undesirable results I have indicated.
Modification agreed to.
Requested amendment not made, but modification made.
Item 234. Oils -
In vessels exceeding one gallon, viz. : -
Request. - Amend sub-items (o) and (p) to read as follows - (pp) Kerosene, and other Refined Petroleum Oils, n.e.i., having a flash point of not less than 97 degrees Fahrenheit according to the Abel-Pensky close test, Free.
– I move -
That the requested amendment be not made, but that the item be modified to read as follows : -
3d., and on and after 3rd December, 1907, and up to and including 6th May, 1908, free.
And on and after 6th May, 1908 - (pp) Kerosene and other Refined Petroleum Oils, n.e.i.; having a flash point of not less than 97 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the AbelPensky close test, or such higher flash point as is from time to time substituted by proclamation, Free.
On and after 6th May, 1908 -
Mineral Oil, n.e.i., per gallon (General Tariff), 3d. ; (United Kingdom), 2d.
I confess that I do not thoroughly understand the technicalities involved in this proposition; but the Government has been advised that it is very desirable to prevent the free importation of oils having a low flash point, as they are dangerous to the community if used for illuminating purposes. Serious accidents have been re ported from time to time in the press as due to the use of inferior oil in lamps.
– Inspector Hake made 73 degrees the flash point.
– Our analyst- the proper person from whom to seek advice - recommends a flash point of 97 degrees.
– Why not 100?
– If the Committee is in possession of better information than that obtained by the Government from its expert adviser, it will, of course, not accept our suggestion.
-If the Government proposal is adopted, it will mean a heavy charge on those who use oil for engines.
– That is not so. We are advised that the Standard Oil Company sends to Australia two brands of refined petroleum oil which flash at 85 degrees.
– Are they not marked “ Not for illuminating purposes”?
– It is stated on the cases that the oil is for engine purposes only ; but the tins are not similarly marked.
– Then let the tins be marked, too.
– We are informed that some of this oil passes into domestic use, occasionally with serious consequences. Only recently, for instance, a boy at Lilydale lost his life through using oil not properly refined. That was asserted in the evidence given before the coroner to have been the cause of his death, and the fact that the Standard Oil Company brands this oil” for engine purposes only “ is an indication that it should not be used for domestic purposes. The present flash point is too low.
– Why not make it 102 ?
– Does the honorable member suggest that we should adopt a standard higher than the local production can attain ?
– Does the Minister desire that locally-produced oil which is not up to the proper standard shall be used?
– If we adopt too high a standard, our consumers will be at the mercy of the most rapacious trust in existence.
.- The Minister’s proposal seems unlikely to receive enthusiastic support. I was unable to hear his remarks very distinctly ; but I gather that it is intended to impose a tax on kerosene.
– If below a certain flash point.
– Still, preference is to be given to the oil wells of England.
– The proposal to give preference to British oil caps the edifice. I gathered that the Minister desires us to deal with this question, not as a commercial one, but on humanitarian considerations. His proposal is to be regarded as a life-saving provision, intended to prevent persons from being killed by lamp explosions. He mentioned an instance in which a boy had been so killed. But to merely discourage the importation of crude oils-
– It is not crude oils that are concerned.
– I should say, oils other than those most highly refined. To merely discourage the importation of such oils will not effectively protect the community from such risks, because persons will still be able to use locally-produced oil which is not highly refined.
– They can be protected by increasing the flash point for locally-produced oil.
– If it is intended to do that, the Government should propose an Excise of 6d. per gallon on all oils having a lower flash point than 97 degrees, manufactured and sold in the Commonwealth. If his proposal be prompted by humanitarian motives, obviously that is the course which he should adopt. But this is really a proposal to levy a tax upon kerosene when it is used as a fuel.It is a question of prohibiting the use of kerosene having a flash point of less than 97 degrees Fahrenheit as a motive power for engines.
– The object of the proposal is to prevent the admission free of an article which ought to be taxed.
– It is not necessary to argue the question at length. So many conflicting statements have been made in respect of it, that it is very difficult to ascertain the truth. Butwe know perfectly well that a flash point of not less than 73 degrees Fahrenheit is the test which has been applied to these oils all over the world. That flash point is practically the universal standard.
– The honorable member’s statement is not correct.
– Where has a higher standard been adopted?
– A higher standard has been adopted here for a very considerable time.
– I am informed by a large number of persons who use oil engines that the oil which they use as a fuel has a somewhat higher flash point, namely, 83 degrees. If the proposal of the Treasurer be adopted the importation of this oil will be prohibited.
– Does the honorable member object to the oil being produced in the Commonwealth ?
– Not in the least. Is it necessary for me to again remind the Treasurer that I did not come here as a prohibitionist ?
– I do not think that the honorable member came here as a protectionist either.
– The Treasurer is at liberty to class mejust where he chooses. But I will not sanction the imposition of a high duty upon oils used by a great many of my constituents. I do not believe in building up the Commonwealth Oil Corporation
– The honorable member does not believe in supplying ourselves.
– I am not prepared to prevent other oils from coming into competition with our own. In other words, I am not disposed to assist to build up a local monopoly in the matter of oil production.
– The honorable member is a protectionist of the purest water.
– I understand that the Commonwealth Oil Corporation has al ready invested £1, 000,000 in this industry, without the aid of any protection whatever. It has said, in effect, “ The business is good enough. We have the necessary shale deposits, and we are prepared to invest our money in the enterprise.”
– The same remark is applicable to the salt industry in South Australia. Where is there a bigger monopoly than that? Yet it received a protection of 100 per cent.
– As a matter of fact, the salt industry in South Australia was built up by protection.
– Yet the honorable member will not grant protection to a New South Wales industry?
– I am as readv to grant protection to an industry in New
South Wales as I am to grant it to an industry in any other’ State. I hold, however, that we should not impose a prohibitive duty upon these oils to enable the Commonwealth Oil Corporation to build up a monopoly.
– What constitutes prohibition ?
– I regard 6d. per gallon as a prohibitive duty.
– The honorable member must be aware that in the matter of kerosene a high flash point was recognised in every State prior to Federation.
-The honorable member is now referring to the use of kerosene as an illuminant. If there be anything in his contention, he must support the levying, of an Excise duty of 6d. per gallon! upon the locally produced oils which are below the standard.
– Does the honorable member mean an Excise upon the product of the Commonwealth Oil Corporation ?
– Certainly. I mean an Excise upon all the oil that it sells, which has a lower flash point than 97 degrees Fahrenheit. If that is agreed to there will be something logical and consistent in the honorable member’s suggestion. I hope that the Committee will not agree to the proposed modification.
– Then what consistency would there be between this and the next item ?
– The Treasurer did not have the advantage of hearing the remarks made by his colleague, who pointed out that the flash point test was .raised to 97 degrees Fahrenheit because this oil was sometimes used as an illuminant, although it was dangerous to put it to such a use. He urged that, to prevent its being used as an illuminant, it was necessary to prohibit its importation. If that is the reason for raising the flash test obviously an Excise duty of 6d. per gallon should also be imposed, so as to absolutely prevent inferior locally-produced oil being used as an illuminant. But whilst that would mean that only high-class oil would be used for such a purpose, and might be an excellent proposal from a humanitarian point of view, we must recognise that, it would involve a larger expenditure on the part’ of those who used these oils. Oils of a lower flash point are now being used, not as illuminants, but for other purposes for which they are not dangerous, and since they are giving great satisfaction they should be allowed to come in as before.
– I have not a wide knowledge of this question. The speeches which have been made upon it have not been of much educational value, and as I think that an ounce of practical information is worth a ton weight of theory, I propose to read a letter which I have received from constituents of mine carrying on business at Wangaratta, who apparently have closely followed the consideration of the Tariff by this Parliament. The letter is as follows -
Wangaratta Brick Works, 1st April, 1908. Sir, - On February 27th, 190S, the Senate agreed that kerosene oil be free of duty provided it be of a flash test of not less than 97 degrees Fahrenheit. Kerosene oils which flash at 85 degrees Fahrenheit will be classed under item Oil, n.e.i., dutiable at 6d. per gallon.
That bears out the statement just made by the honorable member for Bootnby. The writers also say -
These oils are the best for oil engines, and the duty will make them prohibitive, and 73 degrees Iahrenheit has been fixed by all authorities as a safe flash test. May .we ask you to use your interest to get the Senate- to recommit the item and amend it- to “ Kerosene Oil shall be free, provided it has a flash point of not less than 73 degrees Fahrenheit.” *
That letter, I think, clears up the position. Messrs. Ferguson Brothers are practical men, and I commend their suggestion to the Committee.
– What is their busi- ness ?
– They are in a large way of business as brick manufacturers, and are patentees of the Ferguson dry pressed brick machine. They are bond fide business men, and would not write that which they knew to be untrue. I should have placed this letter in the hands of the Treasurer before if the opportunity had offered, because I like, when I can do so, to keep him on the straight track. If he will amend his proposal in the direction suggested by ‘ my correspondent I am sure that he will give great satisfaction.
– The discussion has been somewhat irregular, inasmuch as I have not yet put the requested modification. When it was submitted I thought it well to allow the debate to proceed for a few minutes whilst I examined it, and determined whether or not it was in order. I have come to the conclusion that the latter part of the proposed modification will not be in order. I refer to the words - 11 and on and after 6th May, 1908, Mineral Oil, n.e.i., per gallon (General Tariff), 3d. ; (United Kingdom), 2d.”
I am again placed in an awkward position, since I am unable to say .whether these words appear in any other part of the Tariff. I do not think that it is expected of the Chairman that he should look up such information for himself. In the circumstances, I rule that that portion of the modification- which I have read would be an entirely, new item, and is therefore out of order.
– Before I take the course that I intend to adopt, I want to point out, in reply to the honorable member for Boothby, who said that the flash test had not been over 73 degrees Fahrenheit, that, when I held office as Minister of Trade and Customs, certain representations were made to me in reference to a very large importation of oil by the Standard Oil Company. Sixteen vessels from America came here at different times loaded with kerosene, with which it was proposed to flood the local market. Acting on information that I received, I discovered that* the tins or cases of oil .comprising these shipments were not marked as being of a safe flash point. I was informed that the flash point of 105 degrees close test was the same as the open test of 150 degrees. I therefore held up those consignments until the consignees were able to mark on the tins and’ cases the proper flash point of 150 degrees fire test. The Standard Oil Company is trying to destroy the development of kerosene oil production in Australia.
– What was the total quantity of the shipment?
– I forget for the moment. It is true that 73 degrees Fahrenheit has been the test, but there is a great divergence of opinion on the question of whether or not that is a safe test. There are documents in the Department which show very clearly what strong evidence there is in support of the view that that is not a safe test.
– When did the shipments arrive to which the honorable member has referred ?
– At the end of 1906 and early in 1907. Sixteen vessels carrying large consignments of kerosene for the Standard Oil Company were sent to
Australia with the deliberate object of preventing the Commonwealth Oil Company, which is struggling at the present time, from commencing operations.
– There is now in force are Act under which those people can be dealt with.
– I dealt with them under the Commerce Act-
– Did not representatives of the company say that it was going to buy the Australian Parliament?
– No such statement was made to me. I had a long correspondence with the Standard Oil Company, and was informed that, although we had passed an Act under which I might take action, the company would ride through it. I stuck them up, however, and made them do what I required. They complained that my action would cause them to take the oil back to America. My reply was, “ For Heaven’s sake, take it back.” I held up their vessels until they placed on the tins or cases the proper test mark.
– The Treasurer did so in the interests of public safety.
– I did so because it was represented to me that it was necessary in the interests of the public, and because, also, of the divergence of opinion as to whether or not 73 degrees Fahrenheit is a safe test.
– If the Minister could deal with those consignments under the Commerce Act, why is it necessary fo insert’ in the schedule this condition as to the flash test?
– Did not the Treasurer tell me that the Standard Oil Company’s production was the best for motor purposes ?
– I have been told that it is the .worst.
– But the Treasurer told me that it was the best.
– I did not. Evidently the Senate considered - acting, I suppose, on safe representations - that 97 degrees Fahrenheit was the proper test to insist upon. If this proposal does not interfere with the principle which has been laid down by this House, that kerosene for illuminating purposes shall be free-
– And for engines - that was the settlement.
– No. We determined that kerosene for lighting purposes should be free. The honorable member for Boothby was inclined to sneer at the suggestion that we were able to so develop our resources as to be able to supply our own requirements in this respect.
– I said nothing about that.
– The honorable member did. When the honorable member for Newcastle interjected, I regarded what the honorable member for Boothby said as a sneer ; and I do not think it could be taken as anything else.
– I never said anything of the kind imputed to me.
– I admit that I sometimes become heated, when honorable members, who were returned here for the purpose of supporting protection, turn round, and, because a particularduty does not suit a State, or a particular part of a State, are utterly careless how they may thwart those who are endeavouring to develop industries of the greatest moment to the future of Australia. An honorable member has told us that this company has spent £1,000,000 without the inducement of any protection. But if the company did spend that amount, it was with the idea of prospective protection ; and I think that shareholders ought to have some return for the investment of so large a sum, if the investment were bonâfide. I hope to do all I can, at any time, to help an industry which, so far as the possibilities of the present and the immediate future are concerned, has not a very bright outlook, in consequence of the undue competition of foreigners in the Australian market. If we are to succumb, because it so happens that a few people in a particular district or State, use oil, then, of course, we must abandon the protective policy which has been decided upon by the people of Australia. I feel that I am called upon at this particular stage to draw attention to the votes of some honorable members, who might justly be expected to support a protective policy, but who are drifting away into another channel, because certain duties may not suit a particular corner of some particular State. I hope that this parochial and un-Australian spirit, which is exhibited in some particular cases, will receive no encouragement.
– We had the same spirit displayed during the consideration of the first Tariff
– Quite so; and I think that the vote on the duty on salt was the most parochial ever given in this
House. While not interfering with the decision of the Committee in regard to kerosene, I appeal to honorable members to support me in my present proposal, in order to further the development of a great industry in Australia. There is also the fact that the use of bad oil entails the sacrifice of many human lives.
– How many ?
-If the honorable member will follow the record of deaths due to the bursting of kerosene lamps, which have been filled with bad oil–
– Will the Minister tell us one case?
– There have been hundreds of cases.
– How many people die from drinking water?
– They ought to follow my example, and put something in the water.
– Does this danger attach only to imported oils?
– At the present time, yes.
– Then there ought to be an Excise duty on inferior local oils that are liable to explode.
– If local oils were produced of a quality dangerous to human life, I should not only propose an Excise duty, but their absolute prohibition.
– Then why not prohibit the importation of certain patent medicines?
– I did my best to introduce a law to that end ; and had I remained at the head of that particular Department, such a law would have been passed. I can assure the honorable member that I was not to be frightened by people outside, who threatened all sorts of pains and penalties, if spurious medicines were not admitted into the Commonwealth. In my opinion such medicines are a curse. However, all that is beside the point ; what I desire to say is that there should be some definite action regarding the flash point. If any action we take is incidentally protective, while not in any way upsetting our decision in regard to kerosene, there is no reason why we should not deal with the matter in that way. In every case where honorable members try to get behind their protectionist principles, they ought to be exposed. As the Chairman has ruled the latter part of the amendment - which, I may say, is a very important part - out of order, I move -
That the further consideration of the requested amendment on item 234, paragraphso andp, be postponed until a later hour this evening.
– Let us have a vote, and get rid of the item ?
– No ; it is only fair, after the Chairman’s ruling, that I should have time to consider what course I shall adopt.
– The Treasurer will catch us unawares.
– No, but I desire to have a vote in a full House, especially in view of the fact that the Chairman’s ruling was unexpected.
– The numbers are against the Treasurer !
– I desire a fair division, without unduly delaying the matter; and, therefore, it may be that I shall be able to deal with the item to-night.
– If the numbers are all right ! In all my experience I never heard of such a proposition !
– That remark is made simply because this matter does not concern Western Australia.
– I must protest against the language used by the Treasurer in reference to a very important and prosperous New South Wales company - the Commonwealth Oil Company. The honorable gentleman has stated that the prospects of this company are not too bright.
– I meant that the prospects are not too bright in consequence of the competition of the Standard Oil Company.
– Without going into that question, I must say that, in my opinion, it is most wrong for a Minister to say that he has information that the prospects before any company are not too bright, when, as a matter of fact, the market value of the shares are now above par.
– The honorable member is deliberately manufacturing a statement. I did not say what the honorable member imputes to me.
– I at once accept the statement of the Treasurer, but I think that every honorable member heard what was said. However, there appears to have been a mistake ; though I certainly thought and I think the Committee thought, that the honorable gentleman said that the prospects of this company were not too bright. I am delighted to know, as a wellwisher of the company-
– The honorable member a well-wisher of the company.
– Why cannot the Treasurer give me a chance to defend this company ? I am delighted to find that the Treasurer did not say what he apparently did say; and I shall content myself by pointing out that the shares of the company are well above par.
– In anticipation of the Tariff.
– Hear, hear.
– Ah ! I understand from the honorable member far Macquarie-
– I presume so.
– I understand that the market value of these shares - which are not marketable in Australia but in London - is high because of something which the Treasurer is expected to give. However, I do not. think that the honorable member for Macquarie is right - I sincerely hope not - because, not so very long ago, those shares were 300 per cent. above par.
– No doubt the drop has been clue to the knowledge that there was strong opposition in this Chamber.
– I now know from the Treasurer, in his less heated moments-
– Do not make misstatements !
– I shall say that the Treasurer is not only over his “flash” point’, but well over his explosive point. I am glad to know, however, that he did not intend, even if his words implied that he did, to cast a slur on a great New South Wales company.
.- I should like to know from the Treasurer definitely whether he will introduce this item at a later hour thisevening.
– Do not be so suspicious !
– I have reason to be suspicious, because the Treasurer has so frequently “ gone back “ on his promises to, and his agreements with, the Committee.
– I do not think the honorable member can prove one case.
– I intend later on to. draw attention to one or two instances, in addition to several to which the attention of honorable members has already been directed. I assume that the only reason for the postponement is that the Treasurer has not the necessary numbers present ; and, in the meantime, I suppose there will be an urgent whip, with possibly a fresh set of proposals, having the object of securing the power of prohibition by Ministerial regulation, or some other means of defeating the will of Parliament regarding free kerosene. The Minister has been urging us to expedite the disposal of the Tariff ; and to that end a number of honorable members on this side have refrained from speaking.
– I came from Queensland at the request of those of my constituents who use oil engines, to oppose a duty on the oil which they have to buy. They say that such a duty would amount to a tax on their industry, and that the Ministry must have a sinister design in proposing it. The Treasurer declares that he has not. You, Mr. Chairman, have ruled part of his proposal out of order.
– The part ruled out of order was very important.
– Undoubtedly. Although rates of 3d. and 2d. do not sound very much, they mean taxation to the amount of thousands of pounds on the oil users of the Commonwealth. The Minister, like Wellington at the battle of Waterloo, seeks to gain time. He has asked for a postponement in order to get his numbers.
– Surely the honorable member will give me an opportunity to frame another amendment, or consider what other course I should take.
– The proposed tax is one of -the most unjust ever brought before us, but I am willing to agree to the postponement of the request if the Treasurer will state definitely when it will be resubmitted.
– If possible, some time between 9 and 10 this evening.
– ‘The course now proposed is unprecedented. I have never known a postponement to be asked for by a. Minister on the ground that he had not his numbers.
– I did not give that reason.
– The Treasurer said that he was not going to take a division in a thin Committee. He gave no other reason for the postponement.
– I said .that an important part of my proposal had been ruled’ out of order by the Chairman, and I wished for time, to reconsider the matter.
– The Minister might have known that it would be ruled out of order. I have received representa tions from many persons in Western Australia, pointing out that the proposed duties would greatly interfere with the economical use of oil engines, which are being increasingly employed all over the State. I do not know why the Minister desires to place any obstacle in the way of the use of these. engines. I am ready now to vote against his proposal, but I may not be here this evening, owing to an engagement which I cannot postpone. I have known a debate to be continued for some time, in order to secure a satisfactory division, but I have never known a postponement to be asked for by a Ministry on the ground that it wished for time to bring its supporters into the chamber. Notwithstanding what the Treasurer has said,’ his- reason for asking for this postponement must be that the numbers are against him.
– That is a very unfair and untrue statement. If I am beaten, I shall accept the defeat.
– It seemed to me that that was the reason ; but if the Treasurer denies it, I accept his denial.
– He never has any other reason.
– I hope that the Minister will proceed with business in the ordinary way, or will fix an hour tomorrow for the taking of a division on his proposal.
– He has stated that he will, bring his new proposal forward between 9 and 10 this evening.
– I shall give the right honorable gentleman a proper pair.
– I am much obliged for the offer. It removes my objection to the postponement, although I still regard the course that is being taken as unprecedented.
– I agree with what has been said by the right honorable member for Swan.
– Is the honorable member also going to be away?
– No. I stay here constantly. But the Committee is justified in regarding the course now proposed as unprecedented; and, notwithstanding the assertions of the Treasurer, his action bears’ the construction that he desires delay because he has not his numbers. His officers are present, and can afford him any assistance required in the framing of a new proposal, without it being necessary to postpone the consideration of the item in the manner suggested. The Committee would probably allow a cessation of the discussion for the time needed by the Minister to consult his officials.
– I intend to conduct the business of the Committee in a reasonable way, and have made a very fair request.
– I am not a believer in catch votes.
– I am not going to take a catch vote.
– Our divisions should express the sense of the majority, and I think no honorable member desires to take advantage of the absence of his fellows. But the Treasurer is to blame for the present extraordinary position. Why did he not circulate his complicated and intricate proposal, instead of springing it upon the Committee? If we took a vote now, the majority would be against the postponement of the request. To my mind, the difficulty would be met by differentiating between burning oil and oil for use in oil engines.
– If the honorable member has an amendment to suggest, I shall be glad to see if I can meet him in considering the whole matter.
– It seems to me that the differentiation which I suggest would meet the case. I should have no objection to an adjournment from now until our ordinary time for resuming after the dinner interval.
– I have promised to deal with the request again between 9 and 10.
– Why then?
– Because he may then have another supporter.
– That is not so. The honorable member is not fair.
– Then what is the Treasurer’s object?
– Is the honorable member for Kooyong in order in “ stone-walling,” to give the Treasurer time to frame a new amendment ?
– I am not “stonewalling.” The Minister should give the Committee a proper reason for the proposed postponement. To say “ I wish to consult my officers in order to be fortified with expert opinion “ would be such a reason; but honorable members are slighted when told by him, without explanation, that he desires a postponement.
– I have no wish to slight honorable members.
.- I do not mind New South Wales representatives pitching into the Treasurer ; but adverse criticism is now coming from all parts of the Chamber. So far as I could gather from his remarks, part of his proposal has been ruled out of order, and he wishes for time in which to frame another. Of course, I do not know what his hidden intention may be, and shall not pour kerosene on the smouldering mass of indignation which sits at the table by suggesting any. Until when does he wish to postpone the request?
– Until between 9 and 10 to-night.
– I am glad that a definite hour has been fixed, because the proposal is one on which honorable members wish to vote. I think that a postponement should be granted to enable the Minister to differentiate between oil for illumination and oil for oil engines.
– That is really what I wish to do.
– Then I hope that the postponement will be agreed to. In the interests of public safety, a high flash test should be adopted for oil used for illumination.
– We are all of that opinion.
– Then good has come out of evil. The Minister was misunderstood, that is the evil. The good is that, by pouring oil on troubled waters, I have made plain what is really required.
.- Throughout the consideration of this Tariff I think that honorable members have been most considerate to the Treasurer. They have recognised that he had a very big task on hand, and one which would strain the energies of a very much abler man. Considering the whole of the circumstances, I think that he has done exceedingly well. Sometimes we can really understand what is the meaning of his proposals, and we ought to feel grateful for that. In regard to the particular item under consideration it is only reasonable that the Treasurer should be granted the adjournment which he seeks. He has made a most definite promise as to the time when the matter will again come up for discussion, and I think that he ought to be allowed an opportunity to look round a bit.
.- I cordially support the proposed postponement of this item. If in the interim the
Treasurer is able to differentiate between oil which is used as an illuminant and other oils he will have no stronger supporter than myself. The honorable gentleman has accused me of sneering at the Commonwealth Oil Corporation, and I have been casting around for any remark of mine which might have warranted that accusation. The only observation 1 can recall which might be interpreted in that way was an allusion to the corporation having invested £1,000,000 of “hard-earned” money in the industry. If the expression “ hard-earned “ is offensive I gladly withdraw it.
Motion agreed to ; request postponed.
Item 236. Paints and Colours, viz. : -
Tariff), 4s. 6d. ; and on and after 3rd December,1907, 4s. ; (United Kingdom), 4s. ; and on and after 3rd December,1907, 3s. 6d.
Request. - Make the duty (United Kingdom), 4s.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the requested amendment be made.
.- This is another of the items in respect of which the Government agreed to accept a certain duty, but subsequently got its representative in another place to support a higher duty. The original proposal of the Ministry was that under the general Tariff the duty upon paints and colours ground in liquid should be 4s. 6d. per cwt., and that under the Tariff for the United Kingdom it should be 4s. per cwt. After debate, however, the honorable member for Bendigo - who in fiscal matters is practically a Government supporter - moved that the duties should be 4s. per cwt. and 3s. 6d. per cwt. respectively. The amendment was accepted by the Government and agreed to without division. The Treasurer, therefore, in asking this Committee to reverse its former decision by agreeing to the request of the Senate, is breaking faith with it. I hope that honorable members will show their resentment of his action by voting against the proposal.
– I think that the Committee made a great mistake last evening when it dealt with the item of linseed oil. The decision at which it then arrived will inflict a great injustice upon our local manufacturers of paint. The latter are obliged to use 9 gallons of linseed oil in manufacturing 1 cwt. of paint, and as linseed oil is dutiable at 6d. per gallon they are thus required to pay 4s. 6d. upon the raw material used in that quantity of paint. Consequently, if we do not agree to the request of the Senate, our manufacturers will receive no protection whatever.
– Was not an amendment upon that proposal accepted?
– No, though I believe that many honorable members were under that impression. I hope that the Committee will support the request of the Senate.
.- I hope that the proposal to admit linseed oil free, when denaturated, will be adhered to. It would be monstrous to load our manufacturers with a burden such as has been suggested by the honorable member for Hindmarsh. I am sure that the decision at which the Committee arrived in that connexion was quite inadvertent. Honorable members would not deliberately impose such a burden upon our paint manufacturers. It is monstrous that they should be obliged to pay 4s. 6d. upon the raw material used in the manufacture of 1 cwt. of paint, seeing that they enjoy a protection . of only 4s. per cwt. upon the finished article. I hope that the Treasurer will see that the request of the Senate in regard to linseed oil, when denaturated, is retained in the schedule.
– The action which I took was deliberately taken.
– Then I am afraid that the convenience of some of the officers of the Customs Department is studied a little more than is the convenience of the public.
– If has been represented to me that the denaturating of the linseed oil has not been effective.
Mr.REID. - Manufacturers who use sugar can obtain it in bond under departmental by-law, and surely if linseed oil were not denaturated the manufacturers of paints ought to be able to get it in bond and to manufacture there. The Government have shown a magnificent degree of generosity to-day in recognising the claims of the oil wells of Great Britain. They have offered a preference of 33½ per cent. to the oils produced in England, Scotland, and Ireland ! Surely, then, they will not “go down” upon paints. Any influence that I can exert will be used in the direction of retaining the request of the Senate in regard to linseed oil. in order that we may relieve our paint manufacturers of the burden which has been placed upon them. If they are to be granted no relief in that connexion I should not desire to press for a preference in the present instance.
– I wish to say a word or two regarding the duty levied upon linseed oil. For years past, not only has this oil been produced in Australia, but the linseed has been grown here. The Victorian Government for some years offered a bonus on the production of flax and linseed. The industry of linseed production has been introduced, and I believe that both in Sydney and Melbourne there are factories which express the oil. This proposal is a very ingenious way of securing the free introduction of linseed oil, which is imported only to be mixed with paints. Those who make up liquid paints use imported oil
– It is scarcely fair that they should have to pay a duty amounting to 4s. 6d. in respect of the oil used in every 1 cwt. of paint made by them.
– That may be a reason for raising the duty under this item, but the proposal to which objection was taken yesterday seems an extraordinary one. I refer to the request in regard to item 234.
It recognised the existence of the industry of oil production in Australia, because it proposed that linseed when denaturated, as prescribed by departmental by-laws, should be free -
Provided that, in the opinion of the Minister, sufficient linseed oil for manufacturing purposes is not produced in Australia.
That was a most absurd proposition.
– I took it to mean that there was really no production.
– As a matter of fact, linseed oil is being produced in Australia. As I have said, the Victorian Government has spent a considerable amount of public money in an effort to encourage the growth of the plant, and its production is increasing, not only in Victoria, but I believe in New South Wales, certain parts of which are well suited to its cultivation.
– I was misled by that proposal, because it is foolish if the oil is produced here.
– That is so. Linseed oil is denaturated only by mixing it with paint. The provision seems to be an ingenious device to get rid of an import duty. One of the difficulties in regard to the establishment of oil production in Australia is that, by a curious development, the oil for which the plant originally was chiefly grown, has now become a residuary product. The demand for oil cake for feeding purposes in Europe is so great, and the price is consequently so high, that the oil itself is being produced very cheaply, not only there, but in India. It is brought here at a very low rate, and the progress of the industry of oil production in Australia has thus been retarded. The imported oil is cheap, because the producers are now paid a very high price for what was formerly a by-product. That illustrates the difficulty of dealing with this question. There is no doubt that linseed oil has been subjected to a very low duty, and that fact, together with its cheap production abroad, has made it difficult to establish the industry here. Nevertheless, it is being carried on in Victoria as well as in New South Wales, and it would be a mistake to agree to this extraordinary provision, to which, by the way, I object on other grounds.
– The manufacture of paint cannot be carried on without it.
– Then the duty on paint will have to be increased.
– Messrs. H. L. Vosz Limited, of Adelaide, have invested a. very large sum in works for the manufacture of paint and white lead.
– They manufacture verv poor stuff. No one with any sense would use it.
– Could we wonder at their manufacturing poor material, seeing that they have to pay 3s. 2¼d. per gallon for linseed oil, as against1s.11d. per gallon paid for it bv the paint manufacturers in England? The honorable member for Mernda says that linseed oil is being produced here. This firm is anxious to support the local industry if it can obtain Australian linseed oil that will make good paint-
– Cheap enough.
– Not merely cheap enough but good enough. If the honorable member can show that we are producing here an oil that is good enough for the manufacture of paint I shall support him, but he has not been able to disprove the statement made by this firm, which is the largest manufacturer of paint in Australia.. The honorable member for Wimmera will tell us that we can obtain good whiting in Australia, but Australian whiting is useless for the purpose of making putty.
– Linseed oil produced in Australia is as good as any made elsewhere.
– Experience does not show that it is. The firm to whichI have referred would like to use Australian whiting in the production of putty, but finds that putty so manufactured is so slushy that it cannot be sold.
– Why do they not use Australian oil ?
– Because painters will not use paint in the production of which that oil has been used.
– That is absurd.
– Can the honorable member name any painter or any manufacturer of paint who is satisfied with Australian linseed oil for paint-making purposes? At one time it was the custom to allow linseedoil to come in free when mixed with whiting, and there is no reason why that practice should not be continued. We want to be sure that the oil has been denaturated in such a way that it cannot be used for any other purpose than the manufacture of paint. It is not necessary that it should be mixed with whiting. I should have no objection to a proposal that paint in which free oil was used should be manufactured in bond.
– Then duty would have to be paid on the paint.
– Locally-made paints have to compete with imported paint, which in many cases is badly adulterated. This Parliament does not propose to give the local manufacturers any relief in that respect. Even if we imposed the duty requested by the Senate and allowed the paint manufacturers to import free of duty linseed oil for manufacturing purposes, we should give the industry a very small measure of protection as compared with that which has been given to others.
– The question involved is not so important as to call for a lengthy discussion. I have before me a circular signed by five paint manufacturers carrying on business in Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide, and all they ask is that the Senate’s request in respect of these paint items be agreed to.
– I have had a request in regard to item 234.
– I see no reference to that item in this circular. I agree with the honorable member for Mernda that it is ridiculous to impose protective duties to encourage the production of linseed oil in Australia, if by other means we reduce the opportunity for its use here. Some local paint manufacturers say that Australian linseed oil cannot be used with satisfaction in the manufacture of paint. I see no reason why it cannot. The users of paint might as well say that Australian paint cannot be employed with success, and that the duty on paint ought to be removed. If the House does what those in the trade request in this case, it will surely be doing all that could be expected of it
– The firm to which I have referred wrote some time ago to the Comptroller-General pointing out that, prior to Federation, they were allowed to obtain linseed oil denaturated under Customs supervision. The reply which they received from the ComptrollerGeneral was as follows - 7th April, 1908.
Sir, - With respect to linseed oil, the Senate has made a request to the House of Representatives that linseed oil, when denaturated as prescribed by departmental by-law, be admitted free, provided that, in the opinion of the Minister, sufficient linseed oil for manufacturing purposes is not produced in Australia.
It is presumed that this request, if accepted by the House of Representatives, will satisfy your wishes in the matter.
That shows that the Comptroller-General is satisfied that it would be fair to allow the old custom to continue. It is rather surprising that the honorable member for North Sydney has not received from the paint manufacturers a request to support its continuance. It may perhaps have escaped their attention.
– In the circular I have mentioned they estimate their total cost on the supposition that they pay full duty on linseed oil.
– In the circular that I have received on the subject a calculation is made on the same basis, and it shows that both manufacturers of paint and of putty will have no protection if they have to pay duty on linseed oil. I for one should be satisfied if, in the meantime, we agreed to what has been the old practice. The honorable member for North Sydney has not shown the Committee that the paint manufacturers are using the locallymade linseed oil ; and I think that if he made inquiries he would find that they are doing nothing of the kind.
– Their object is to show the high cost, which includes the whole of the duty.
– That is not an answer to the honorable member for Mernda.
.- The honorable member for North Sydney is quite misrepresenting the position. Oil, as good as any in the world, is produced in Australia, but very little of it up to the present time, and the reason is that the duty of 6d. does not counterbalance the greater advantages in Calcutta and elsewhere in oil expression, owing to the fact that we have not the same market for the by-products. The oil that is made here is, so far as I have ever heard, preferred in Victoria and elsewhere, as, at any rate, quiteequal to the imported article for the making of paint, putty, or any other kindred commodities. It is recognised that there is a production of oil here, because a stipulation is made for a sufficient production. But who is to say what is sufficient? Surely we ought to give’ some encouragement to the production of an article on the production of which a bonus has been offered. There can be no use for linseed unless its oil is expressed ; and that, of course, means an oil-producing industry. It would be most strange, as the honorable member for North Sydney has pointed out, if, after offering a bonus, we should remove the duty altogether on the only possible product.
Motion agreed to.
Item 236. Paints and Colours, viz. : -
Request. - Make the duty (United Kingdom) 6s.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the requested amendment be made.
– The remarks which I made in regard to the item previously before us refer to this item, and I must say that the protection afforded is very small. As the honorable member for Mernda has said, oil can be made here, but is not up to the present being produced to any great extent. The protection on the dry colours amounts to only 2s. 6d. per cwt., and as13 gallons of raw oil are required to make1 cwt. of paint, all the protection given, even including the 6s. requested by the Senate, is1s. 6d. I do not think there should be any difficulty in acceding to this request.
Motion agreed to.
Requested amendment made.
Item 236. Paints and Colours, viz. : -
Request. - Make the duty (United Kingdom) 2s. 6d.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the requested amendment be made.
.- I was surprised at the course taken by the Committee in regard to the item last under discussion ; and now we have a similar case before us. When this item was originally before this Committee, the honorable member for Parramatta pointed out tnat the Government proposal meant an increase in the duty of 225 per cent. ; and, while he did not profess to know much about colours, he protested against an absurd increase of the kind, and moved that the duty be reduced from 3s. 3d. to 2s. That amount was negatived, but immediately afterwards the honorable member for Gwydir moved that the “duties be reduced from 3s. 3d. and 3s. to 2s. 6d. and 2s., and that amendment was agreed to,and was, therefore, practically accepted by the Government, and became in essence a Government proposal. Now, however, we have the Treasurer asking us to reverse a vote to which he, on behalf of the Go vernment, agreed on a previous occasion. When is this sort of thing going to end? Howlong are we going to overlook and acquiesce in these breaches of faith, and to regard them as, if not meritorious, at least permissible on the part of the honorable gentleman? We are becoming absolutely demoralized, and the time has arrived when weought to make a protest. The circumstances amply justify me in refusing to accept ingood faith any statement, agreement, or promise on. the part of the Treasurer, because we find so often that he only resorts to such means for the purpose of deceiving us and devising means of evading a fulfilment of his promises.
– I am sorry that something more cannot be done in the way of protection for this industry. It is a pity that it is not now possible to impose an ad valorem duty on these colours. In South Australia there are pigments of all shades of colour, and at Mount Sienna there is turned out burnt sienna equal to that imported from Italy.
– I saw some of it exhibited in Melbourne.
– What guarantee is there that these colours were not imported ?
– If the honorable member will come with meto South Australia I shall be delighted to show him at Mount Sienna an astonishing variety in unlimited quantities of nearly all the colours required in Australia, including burnt sienna, stated by experts to at any rate approximate to that imported. All this request does is to provide a duty of 2s. 6d. against the cheaper colours, and that may be quite high enough for French ochres worth about £310s. per ton free on board ; but it is clearly not enough in the case of burnt sienna, which is valued at present at about £80 per ton, but which is sold in competition with the local article at about £30 per ton. The burnt sienna is said to be equal to any brought from older countries ; and too much protection would not be given if importation were altogether prohibited.
Motion agreed to.
Requested amendment made.
Item 236. Paints and Colours, viz. : -
Request. - Insert the following new paragraph : -
.- It seems to be useless for one man, unsupported by others of his fiscal faith, to continue to object to increases of duty. When I see honorable members who profess to hold free-trade views really helping the Government to impose higher duties by silence and unwillingness to divide, I feel that it is a waste of time to oppose what is being done. Apparently it seems to be thought that because we have not an independent free-trade majority the Government should be allowed without protest to have exactly its own way in regard to the Tariff. A week or two back, I was absent for a day or two, and a great song was made because certain duties were then agreed to; but I find, when I am here, that mine is the only voice raised in protest regarding some of these proposed increases by the Senate, and that, under the circumstances, my opposition is entirely useless.
.- The honorable member for Lang does an injustice to the protectionists of the Committee if he thinks that they will allow the raw material of the paint manufacturers of Australia to be taxed without protest. The proposals of the Government concern them almost more than they concern the free-traders. Barytes is the basis of 90 per cent. of the colours which are used, and those whowish to put a duty on this material owe (o the Australian manufacturers of paint an explanation of their action in increasing the price of their raw material. If we give the paint manufacturers a duty of 6d., and charge them 2s. on their raw material, they will not feel that they have benefited much by the Tariff. I should like to see these duties removed altogether. I understand that there are immense quantifies of barytes in Australia.
– All over the Commonwealth.
– We have not foundit necessary to impose duties to encourage persons to mine for gold, silver, coal, and similar natural productions, and why should it be necessary to encourage in this way the mining or the manufacture of barytes? I hope that the Treasurer has a satisfactory explanation to give.
– A great mistake was made when the item was first before the Committee. Apparently, honorable members did not then know that barytes can be obtained in unlimited quantities in all the States. In South Australia, a contract for the supply of 2,000 tons has been entered into bv one company alone, and this material can be obtained there to any extent. I produce a sample of green colour, of which 90 per cent. is barytes. This was manufactured locally. Hitherto we have been importing barytes chiefly from Germany. If we mine our own supplies, we shall employ a large amount of labour, and probably create an export trade with Great Britain.
– But what need is there for a duty ?
– Wages and living conditions in Australia, fortunately, differ from those in Germany. Our workmen must be protected from the competition of those abroad who are less highly paid.
– But we are hitting the paint-making industry to help the barytes industry.
– Barytes is used, not only for the making of paint, but also in connexion with sugar refining, tanning, the manufacture of rubber goods, sealing wax, and other things. Experts are satisfied with the quality of the Australian barytes, of which, as I have said, there is an unlimited supply.
Motion agreed to.
Requested amendment made.
Requested amendment in item 239 (Blacks, being lamp, &c.) made.
Item 244. Roofing Tiles, Flooring Tiles, and Tiles, n.e.i., of all materials, and Mosaic Flooring, ad val. (General Tariff), 30 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), 30 per cent. ; and on and after 3rd December, 1907, 25 per cent.
Request. - Insert after “ Mosaic Flooring,” “and Slabs and Tiles of Fibro Cement, Asbestos Cement, and similar substances.” Make the duty, ad val. (General Tariff), 35 per cent.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the requested amendment, inserting the words “ and Slabs and Tiles of Fibro Cement, Asbestos Cement, and similar substances,” be made.
.- Will the Treasurer explain why he wishes to make tiles and slabs of fibro cement and similar substances dutiable at such high rates ? Already the effect of the Tariff has been to greatly increase the prices of building materials, and this proposal will further tend to make building more costly. The result, of course, will be that fewer buildings will be erected. Those who wish to rid themselves of the incubus of the landlord, by acquiring houses of their own, will find it harder to do so, and workmen connected with the building trade will find it more difficult to get employment. I shall oppose the motion.
– I understand that combinations’ of brick manufacturers have already caused considerable trouble in the building trade in Australia. I desire to know whether the articles upon which we are now asked to increase the existing duty are those which the Brick Combine object to having associated with their bricks in buildings? In certain of the States the Combine have refused to supply bricks at the ordinary market price if they are to be associated in building operations with certain articles which are used in the construction of walls and of divisions between rooms.
– Where did the honorable member get that information ?
– I have had it in my possession for some time. I have stated a very grave objection to the passing of this item in the absence of a proper explanation.
Sitting suspended from 6.28 to 7.45 p.m.
– I wish to ask the Treasurer what reason he has for proposing to accept the request of the Senate to increase the duty upon some of these articles from 15 per cent . to 35 per cent. The cost of slabs and tiles of fibro cement, which are at present being imported, will be considerably enhanced by the increased duty proposed, and. I am not aware that any fibro cement is manufactured within the Commonwealth.
.- It is a great misfortune that we cannot induce the Treasurer to assist us to understand these very unnecessary complications. We are asked to add to this item the words “ and slabs and tiles of fibro cement, asbestos cement, and similar substances.” I have received representations in regard to this matter from quite a number of responsible persons, whose word can be accepted in all good faith, and I think I am justified in reading at least one of them, which says -
It will be seen that it is requested that the duty on the sheets (which are used far walls and ceilings) be raised from 15 per cent. to 35 per cent., not from 30 per cent., as it would appear from the printed “ request.” The slates it is proposed to raise from 25 per cent. to 35 per cent. if they be classed as slates, or from 30 per cent. to 35 per cent. if they be classed as tiles.
We contend that as these materials are not manufactured here the present duty is sufficiently high, and that if it be raised, as requested, it will amount to prohibition. The materials under consideration meet an Australian requirement, inasmuch as they are heat and fire resisting. The sheets and slates should not be classed together, as they are for quite different purposes, the former for walls and ceilings and the latter for roofs. Roofing slates (presumably natural slates) stand unaltered at 25 per cent.”, and the slates under consideration should be classed with them.
Should the House of Representatives accede to the Senate’s requests, the higher duties should not come into operation until the materials are manufactured here, and there is no indication, that we are aware of, of any such intention.
Those objections are urged by Messrs. Noyes Brothers, and I have received similar representations from other merchants of equal standing. One firm suggests that the item should be divided into “ sheets, slates, roofing tiles, and roofing slates.” I think that the Treasurer might reasonably postpone the consideration of this request until he is in receipt of representations which can be made to him by more responsible persons. If honorable members believe that by imposing the duty requested they will bring about the local manufacture of these articles, they are labouring under a misapprehension, because the statementsof those who are most familiar withthe details of the trade show that that is impossible. I trust that the Treasurer will either take time to consider this question, or will refuse to accede to the request of the Senate.
– I wish to point out that fibro cement is used for many purposes, both in our cities and in the country. Amongst other things, it is used for making silos. The value of silos is now generally recognised, and the only reason why more of them are not erected is their excessive cost. A silo to carry 100 tons of ensilage will cost anything from£100 to£150, but if in its construction fibro cement be used, it can be erected for a very much smaller sum. A framework of wood lined with fibro cement makes an excellent silo. I would further point out that, on account of its extreme lightness, ‘ the cost of conveying fibro cement to the backblocks is very small indeed. This article can also be employed for roofing purposes in lieu of slate. It makes an excellent roof, as an exhibit at the recent Agricultural Show, Sydney, demonstrated. I have read testimonials as to its value from quite a number of persons in responsible positions. They declare that it answers all requirements. It is very warm ; it is fireproof ; and does all that is claimed for it by the manufacturers. The Senate requests an increase of 20 per cent. in the duty which was placed upon fibro cement under the Tariff as it left this House. The Minister should give some reason for his proposal to agree to the increased duty. I should be prepared to accept as a compromise a proposal to omit fibro cement slabs from this request, so that they would remain dutiable at 15 per cent. under item 247. This is anage of compromise, and when one has to deal with a majority, one must be content with a compromise.
– The reasons that have been supplied to me in support of this requested amendment are thai the addition to the wording of the item was; made because all the materials indicated by these additional words may be manufactured in Australia just as are other manufactures of asbestos.
– Fibro cement sheets are not manufactured here.
– I am informed that they are, but have no personal knowledge on the subject. I have seen asbestos produced in sheets, a third of the size of this table, at Ilfracombe, in Tasmania, just inside the heads at George Town.
– Absurd. Asbestos is not found in sheets.
– ThenI shall say that I have seen layer after layer of asbestos brought to the surface at Ilfracombe, where a company was carrying on operations some years ago. I am also informed that the requested amendment of the wording is necessary to avoid confusion and trouble in classification, owing to the presence of fibro cement in item 247. It was intended that manufactures of fibro cement, such as slabs and roofing tiles, should be dutiable at the same rate as other tiles, but the specific reference to fibro cement in item 247 confuses that intention, and makes it very doubtful.
– Who says that that was our intention?
– The officers of the Department who were present and heard the debate.
– They have made a mistake.
– It is useless for me to supply this information to honorable members opposite. When I do so, they almost invariably dispute its accuracy.
– Surely we can see by a reference to the Tariff itself what was our intention.
– There is a discrepancy between this item and the next, and it is very difficult to distinguish between the two for the purposes of Customs classification. It is therefore proposed to bring this into line with the next item. Since the honorable member for Fremantle doubts my statement in reference to the local production, of asbestos, I shall only say that he needs a little more education on the subject.
.- The difficulty might be partially overcome if the Treasurer would modify the request by omitting from the proposed additional wording the word “ slabs,” leaving slabs of fibro cement dutiable at 15 pet cent. under item 247. I have it on good authority that fibro cement sheets are not made here. They are imported, and a good deal of work is involved in cutting and preparing them for use in Australia. To accept this request, so far as fibro cement slabs areconcerned, would be to inflict a hardship on users of that material, whilst at the same time restricting employment in the Commonwealth. I hope the Treasurer will agree to my suggestion.
– The Treasurer has read a statement to the effect that it was intended that all these materials should be subject to the same duty. As a matter of fact, it was not. The item as originally introduced was amended, and the intention was that fibro cement, being an article not manufactured here, according to the information at our disposal, should be admitted at 15 per cent., as it is largelv used in rural districts for erecting structures which, if built with other material, would be far more costly. It is used, as the honorable member for Robertson has pointed out, in the construction of silos, and enables such structures to be erected at small cost. It is easily distinguishable from any other preparation, and a duty of15 per cent. would be a considerable protection in respect of it. I therefore ask the Treasurer to stand by the decision at which we previously arrived. I do not know whether asbestos cement is made here, but I; do know that asbestos is produced in Australia. I propose to move-
– Do not move anything at present.
– Very well ; I should prefer the Minister to take action. My suggestion is that fibro cement slabs should remain at the lower duty of 15 per cent.
– I think that a fair compromise would be to remove fibro cement slabs from the requested amendment, leaving them dutiable under the next item at 15 per cent. These sheets are cut up when thev arrive here, and in that way a good deal of employment is given. Fibro cement is a building material of great value. It is not made in Australia, and its importation extends employment in the Commonwealth. If we leave fibro cement tiles subject to the higher rate, and simply take fibro cement slabs out of the requested amendment, so that thev will be dutiable at 15 per cent., that will be a very faircompromise. We shall then be able to settle the question of whether or not this duty should be increased by 5 per cent. Our original inten tion is quite clear. Under the Tariff as originally passed by us, the duty of 30 per cent. was applied only to roofing tiles, flooring tiles, and tiles n.e.i., whilst a duty of15 per cent. was imposed on fibro cement.
– I had prepared a modificati on of the request in regard to the word “slabs,” and also in regard to the request for the omission of fibro cement from the next item. I propose to add after the words “ fibro cement,” in the next item, the letters “ n.e.i.” I desire, Mr. Chairman, to amend my motion by proposing, as a modification of the request, that the words “and slabs” be left out.
Motion amended accordingly.
.- I should like to call the attention of the Committee to the following extract from the article in the Encyclopedia Britannica on asbestos -
Asbestos consists of fine crystalline elastic fibres, with a silky lustre. . . “ . Woven into cloth it forms a fireproof texture.
That, I think, bears out the statement I made that asbestos is a silky fibrous material, which is not found in sheets. If it be wished to put asbestos into sheets or slabs, it has to go through a process of mixture with some other material and cement, and be subject to pressure. People who were importing roofing and flooring tiles complained of the competition of tiles made of fibrous cement and asbestos cement ; and if the amendment as proposed by the Treasurer be carried it will place all upon the same footing. This material is coming into use now ; and I have seen a building composed of it piled up with wood and set on fire, with the result that it still retained its shape.
Motion agreed to.
Requested amendment, as modified, made.
Motion (by Mr. Hume Cook) proposed -
That the requested amendment, making the duty (General Tariff), 35 per cent., be made.
.- I suggest that the duty might fairly be left at 30 per cent. When we consider that later on, glassware, including smelling and perfume bottles, is subject to a duty of only 25 per cent., it does not seem at all reasonable to make the duty on building materials10 per cent. higher.
– I think that we might retain the original duty, in view of the fact that these particular tiles are coming largely into use in the erection of buildings. A duty of 30 per cent. is very high, and, unless there be some special reason for the increase, the Committee ought to resist the Senate’s suggestion.
– When this item was discussed in the Senate the chief object in making the increase was to give greater preference to Great Britain. It was pointed out that these articles are mostly imported from foreign countries, and though preference might have been extended by reducing the duties that would have conflicted with other items such as those which immediately follow. It is a very small increase when all is said and done.
– Then I think the Government might give way, seeing that we are supporting the duty originally proposed by the Government.
– I think there is some strength in the argument that importations from foreign countries are greater than they ought to be.
Question - That the requested amendment, making the duty on item 244 (Roofing Tiles, &c.), ad val. (General Tariff), 35 per cent., be made - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
Requested amendment not made.
Requested amendment in item 247 (Fire Bricks, &c.), not made, but a modification, inserting “ n.e.i.” after “ fibro-cement, “ made.
Item 248. Roasting Dishes, Assay Furnaces and Crucibles, Scorifiers, and Muffles, free.
Request. - Leave out “ and Crucibles, Scorifiers, and Muffles.”
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the requested amendment be made.
. -When this item was being dealt with before, I pointed out that one of the largest bottle-making firms in South Australia - a good protectionist firm - has to import crucibles from the Old Country, because it cannot get here such as are suitable for its requirements. It pays £14 for each of these crucibles, although f.o.b. one costs only £4. Crucibles are made in my own electorate, but not the sort to which I refer. The locally-made crucibles will not stand the work required in bottle-making. The firm in question would be the first to use locally-made crucibles if they would serve, because they are being made not far from its own premises.
– The honorable member’s remarks apply also to scorifiers and muffles ?
– I believe so. One of the leading glass-bottle manufacturers in Melbourne, who has also a business in South Australia, but does not use these crucibles, assures me that they have to be imported. That should be sufficient proof that they cannot be made here. Firebricks are made in Victoria and elsewhere, but the locally-made bricks are good only for certain purposes. Some time ago I saw a furnace under construction at South Melbourne, which was to be used for experiments in steel making, and they were sending to Scotland for the firebricks required. Similarly, it is necessary to send to the Old Country for the crucibles I have spoken of, which I am informed are made only in Glamorganshire.
.- I am at a loss to know why the Government wish to make crucibles, scoritiers, and muffles dutiable. When the item was last under discussion it was demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that the crucibles, muffles, and scorifiers in use in all the Government analytical departments, and in all the laboratories of the Commonwealth, have been imported. For suein technical work as assaying,- locally-made crucibles are useless.
– ‘Crucibles can be made anywhere that there is clay
– Yes; but the material needed to make crucibles for important work has not yet been found in Australia. If these articles are made dutiable, they will have to be imported none the less. The Minister will be better advised if he considers the scientific needs of Australia in this matter.
.- The opinion of the chief mining men of Kalgoorlie on this question is of interest, and in a letter which I have received from the general secretary to the Chamber of Mines of Western Australia, the writer says -
Locally-made crucibles vary in quality on account of the clay being unsuitable, and are thus very unreliable, and are little used. The Battersea (Morgans) crucibles are imported, and used very extensively. In Western Australia the crucibles of German manufacture have the preference because they are more durable even than the Battersea, the latter, as a rule, can only be used for one charge, whilst the German crucibles are invariably used four or five times.
I have been told by a gentleman who is, I think, the leading metallurgist in Australia, that local crucibles are uneven in quality, and absorb a large part of the charge, so that the results cannot be depended on. As thousands of pounds are sometimes invested in a mine on the results of an assay of an ore sample, it is necessary that the crucibles used should be absolutely reliable. I hope that the Committee will not make the requested amendment.
.- Surely if roasting dishes, which can be made in Australia - the Treasurer has been on them two or three times to-day - are to be admitted free, crucibles, scorifiers, and muffles should be similarly treated. I doubt if the enlightened intelligence of the Ministry can tell us what muffles are. On behalf of the mining industry, I appeal to the Committee to oppose the Senate’s request.
Requested amendment not made.
Item 253. Glassware, n.e.i. . . . also Glass Bottle Marbles, ad val. (General Tariff), 35 per cent. ; and on and after 4th December, 1907, 25 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), 25 per cent.; and on and after 4th December, 1907, 20 per cent.
Request. - Insert “a” before Glassware; leave out “ also Glass Bottle Marbles.”
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the requested amendment be made.
.- The largest glassware manufacturers in the Commonwealth are in the Dalley electorate, and I ask the Government why Ministers think that smelling and perfume bottles, glass stoppers, and fruit-jar caps can be made here, but that glass-bottle marbles cannot ? Why is it proposed to agree to the Senate’s request?
– Because glass-bottle marbles are not made in Fitzroy.
– They may not be made on the banks of the Yarra, but may be made in other parts of the Commonwealth. The protection given to the local manufacturers of glassware is only 25 and 20 Der cent., rates’ of duty which are very low compared with some which have been imposed for the benefit of other industries. Those connected with the two large glassware factories in mv district have not asked me to support duties for their protection. Indeed, it is to the credit of New South Wales industries generally that they have nol canvassed the Committee for assistance.
– Because they have not been brought up on the bottle.
– They have not been, bottle fed. I should like the Treasurer to explain why he proposes that glass bottle marbles shall be exempt from duty. ‘ Is it unprofitable to make them ? In the absenceof an v explanation. I shall vote for retain.ina the item in the form in which it left this Chamber.
– I would point out to the honorable member for Dalley that there is no difficulty whatever in making, glass bottle marbles. But it .would not pay more than one company to erect the necessary machinery for their manufacture. Consequently the whole of the glass bottle manufacturers would be entirely dependent upon one firm for the supply of glass bottle marbles. ‘
– Could not the marbles be manufactured incidentally to other glass bottle making?
– In other countries these marbles are made by special firms.
– Is the honorable member in favour of allowing, these marbles to be “ dumped ‘ ‘ into the Commonwealth ?
– I am not in favour of the smaller glass bottle makers being made entirely dependent upon one large firm in the Commonwealth for the supply of glass bottle marbles. I would further point out that one firm could not compete successfully with similar establishments in other parts of the- world.. Consequently. I believe that we ought to allow our glass bottle manufacturers to obtain their marbles in the cheapest market.- For this reason, I hope the Committee will agree to the request of the Senate.
– I should like to know from the honorable member for Hindmarsh whether it is, not possible for ordinary glass bottle manufacturers to make these marbles ? The honorable member spoke of a firm exclusively devoting itself to their manufacture. Is that really necessary ?
– No. The marbles are made by machinery.
– Why could not that machinery be an incidental part of a large glass bottle manufactory? It is very strange that whilst we can make bottles in any quantity, and of almost any quality, wo are not able to’ manufacture marbles in the same factories.
.- Upon other occasions, the Government have accepted increases of duty with great eagerness, but in the present instance they are willing, to’ place glass bottle marbles upon the free list, notwithstanding that the freetrade members of the Committee desire a’ duty to be imposed upon them. I really think that the Government ought to five way to the Opposition. The Treasurer ought to encourage its members to assist him in framing the Tariff upon good protectionist lines.
.- I am getting very tired of these old free-trade arguments. During the course of the Tariff debates, we have heard a great deal about the consumer. But may I ask, “ Where does the consumer of glass bottle marbles come in?” The honorable member for Hindmarsh stated that one of his reasons for assenting to the request of the Senate is that these marbles can be produced in enormous quantities in the ‘Old Country. That statement might, with equal reason, have been made in respect of every item in the Tariff schedule. It might have been urged in regard to locks, and yet the honorable member voted for a 20 per cent, duty upon them. He further stated that onlyone firm would be .required to manufacture these marbles. Need I remind him that only one firm, employing four men, is engaged in the Commonwealth, in the manufacture of locks? It is strange that honorable members” should be such great protectionists only when an industry is located in their own electorates. In the electoral division of Dalley there are two glass companies - the Federal Glass Company and the Cooperative Glass Company - both very fine firms indeed. The:r employes number over 300. When the Tariff was before us on a previous occasion, I voted to extend to them a protection of 25 per cent, under the general Tariff, and of 20 per cent, under the Tariff for the United Kingdom. I cannot understand why a great protectionist like the Treasurer - and such -an ardent lever of New South Wales industries - should baulk at the manufacture of glass bottle marbles. If we can make glassware in the Commonwealth, why cannot we manufacture these marbles? I utterly fail to see why this industry should be penalized more than is any other industry.
– It is quite idle for any honorable member to urge that we cannot make glass bottle marbles in Australia. As a matte* of fact, it is the simplest thing in the world to manufacture them. But if we retain the duty upon these articles, they will still continue to be imported, because one firm at Home can manufacture in a few hours, sufficient marbles for the requirements of the Commonwealth for a year. That is why I support the request of the Senate.
Motion agreed to.
Requested amendment made.
Item 253. Glassware, n.e.i., &c. : -
Request. - Insert the following new paragraph : -
– I move -
That the requested amendment be made.
I do so for the reason that the duty agreed to by this Committee is not necessary.
Motion agreed to.
Requested amendment made.
Item 255. Glass, viz. : - Gas analysis appara tus ; arsenic testing apparatus and tubes ; evaporating basins, free.
Request. - Make the duty ad val. (General Tariff), 25 per cent., and (United Kingdom) 20 per cent.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the requested amendment be made.
.- When this item was previously before the Committee, some discussion took place upon it. If the renuest of the Senate be agreed to, certain ipersons who are engaged in scientific work will be penalized without any good being conferred upon the Commonwealth. In the interests of advanced science, I trust that the Committee will not agree to that. A similar remark is applicable to item 256, in which the Senate has requested the omission of certain articles which are now admitted free with a view to making them dutiable.
– Having carefully considered this matter, I have come to the conclusion that the request is one with which the Committee might reasonably disagree. I, therefore, ask leave to amend my motion accordingly.
Motion amended accordingly, and agreed to.
Requested amendment not made.
Item 256. Scientific Apparatus (glass), viz. : - Beakers; Flasks; Test Tubes; Vacuum Tubes; Burettes; Weighing Bottles and Tubes; Eudiometers; Nitrometers; Radiometers; Fat Extraction Tubes; Filter Pumps; Gas Washing Reduction Absorption and Drying Bulbs Towers and Tubes; Glassware graduated in centimeters, grains, minims, ounces, and grammes; also Carbonic Acid, Sulphuretted Hydrogen, Decomposing Water, and Bacteriological Apparatus of Glass, free.
Request. - Leave out “Test Tubes; Vacuum Tubes; Burettes; Weighing Bottles and Tubes; Eudiometers ; Nitrometers ; Radiometers ;Fat Extraction Tubes ; Filter Pumps ; Gas Washing Reduction Absorption and Drying Bulbs Towers and Tubes; Glassware graduated in centimeters, grains, minims, ounces, and grammes.”
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the requested amendment be made.
.- The omission of these words from the item would throw all this apparatus under a duty. I have no personal knowledge of the subject, but it seems to me that these instruments are of the class with which we have just dealt.
– No; every one of them is made here.
– Many of them have to be obtained from abroad, even if they can be made here, to some extent.
– Under the next item, bottle stoppers, n.e.i., are free, whilst the Senate proposes that glass bottle marbles should also be made free. Surely if those articles are not made in Australia nitrometers and eudiometers are not made here.
– They are.
.- I move as an amendment -
That the following modification be made : - “Leave ‘Test Tubes’ out of the requested amendment.”
– This item relates to one of “the few Queensland industries.
– I am well aware of the industry. I believe I am correct in saying that the graduated necks of these test tubes are imported, and that the onlywork done in respect of them in the Queensland factory is that of adding bottoms to the tubes. As one who has had some practical experience of these tubes, I may say that the annealing of the Australian work does not correspond with that done abroad, and that consequently when the locally-made tubes are subjected to a very high temperature, as they often are, they break. Even if this duty be imposed, as requested, tubes used for testing cream and milk in the majority of cases will still be imported. The other articles included in the item are manufactured in Australia, but we have not yet been able to properly anneal the glass bottoms to these tubes.
Colonel FOXTON (Brisbane) [9.0]. - My information is somewhat different from that of the honorable member for Moreton. I have had an opportunity to visit the factory where all these articles are made, and have seen the graduated work being done there. All the apparatus for such work is installed in the factory, and I know that, comparatively speaking, a large number of these test tubes are being made in Brisbane, and used with satisfactory results in the dairying industry. If they were not satisfactory they would not have the sales they command. The honorable member for Moreton is an expert in dairying matters, and if any of these tubes have ever failed him I am inclined to think, on the principle that one swallow does not make a summer, that he has been unfortunate in having purchased a defective one. Defective work is occasionally turned out by even the best manufacturers. It may be taken for granted, however, that if the work of the Brisbane factory were not on the whole thoroughly satisfactory, it would not command the business which it now does. These tubes are used not only by dairymen, but by brewers and others. I have here a statement from the manufacturers to the effect that all the articles mentioned in this item, and proposed to be struck out, are made by them, and give perfect satisfaction. The regulations relating to their manufacture in Queensland might well be adopted in every State. These are very stringent in regard to the Government inspection and marking of all these instruments. Before they leave the factory they have to be approved by a highly qualified officer of the Department of Agriculture, who, on passing them, stamps them accordingly. The regulations required that on a certain date - I think that it was 31st December, 1906 - all instruments of a similar character in use in dairies in Queensland should be submitted to the Government official to whom I have referred, and if approved by him stamped with the Government mark. It may therefore besaid with perfect truth that every one of these instruments in use in dairies in Queensland has been approved, and bears the Government stamp.
– Does the Government official issue the “ Kew “ certificate with each instrument ?
Colonel FOXTON. - These are not instruments which require that certificate.
– What about eudiometers and nitrometers?
Colonel FOXTON.- I do not know that the “Kew” certificate should begiven with them. The manufacturers point out that many of these instruments are part of the necessary riant of a large number of industries, and are no more difficult to manufacture than are the engines used in those industries. As the manufacturers properly say, a great many of the instruments which they have to use are also duti able, and it is only fair that this struggling industry should receive its fair measure of protection. They inform me thatif the proposed protection be granted, they intend to extend their operations to Sydney and Melbourne, and probably to Adelaide, so that the industry will cease to be an essentially Queensland one. It is within their knowledge that there is in Australia a large number of men thoroughly competent to make these instruments, who, owing to the limited extent of the industry here are unable to obtain employment, except in directions outside the work for which they have been specially trained. I sincerely trust that in these circumstances the Committee will see fit to concede this measure of protection.
.-Ifmy memory serves me rightly, this item was originally considered in this House during an all-night sitting, and the honorable member for Corangamite then made a most informative speech. I think that it was chiefly due to his eloquence in explaining the reasons why these instruments should be on the free list that the duty to which they were subjected under the item as introduced was removed, and they were put upon the free list. Since the Committee then bad an opportunity to go fully into the whole details of this question, I think that it would be most unwise for it now to reverse its decision.
.- Since proposing the amendment, it has occurred to me that the request made in respect of item 255 was not agreed to, so that test tubes will come under that item, and be free. I therefore beg leave to withdraw my modification.
Modification, by leave, withdrawn.
– I do not intend to repeat the speech which I made when this item was before us on a former occasion, but in reply to the honorable member for Brisbane, I wish to point out the enormous cost involved in the importation of these articles.
– Why not have the articles made here?
– I have no objection, if they can be made here; but radiometers and other scientific apparatus of a certain class must, under any circumstances, be imported. If these instruments could be made here satisfactorily, those who require them would not run the risk of the enormous cost in breakages which importation involves. To remove these instruments from this item will mean a tax which, while yielding very little revenue, will act as a handicap on those engaged in scientific work.
.-It is of no use flogging a dead horse, the Committee having, I believe, made up their minds as to how they intend to vote. I can, however, corroborate everything that the honorable member for Brisbane has said ; and I know this to be a growing industry, which ought to have a little fostering. The honorable member forCorangamite is not fair when he says that these instruments have to be imported.
– I said that certain of the instruments, including graduated glassware, has to be imported under any circumstances.
– I have seen these glasses being made in Brisbane, and from that establishment the Queensland Government obtain all their scientific instruments for laboratory and expert dairy work. That being so, surely the instruments are good enough for the general public? Some of those which the honorable member for Moreton saw, may not have been up to the standard; but I know that every instrument made in this establishment is tested by a Government expert, and bears the Government stamp.
– The breakages incurred in importing constitute a high measure of protection.
– There should be no breakages; and if the honorable member desires any of these instruments, I undertake to deliver them whole from Brisbane.
– I do not use these instruments. I am only speaking in the interest of science generally.
– What I contend is that, if these instruments can be made in Australia, some protection ought to be afforded to the industry.
.- The honorable member for Moreton withdrew his proposal under a misapprehension. The honorable member was evidently under the impression that test tubes would be admitted free under item 255, but, as a matter of fact, the tubes referred to in that item are exclusively “ arsenic testing apparatus and tubes,” and do not therefore include the tubes used in connexion with the dairying industry. If the request of the Senate be agreed to, under what item will the tubes used in the dairying business be admitted?
– Under item 253, at 25 and 20 per cent.
– Then I beg to move -
That the following modification be made : - “ Leave ‘ Test Tubes ‘ out of the requested amendment.”
.- There has been some misapprehension as to the remarks made by me in reference to test tubes. I had no intention of casting any reflection on the accuracy of the graduating of the tubes made in Queensland, but I do say, after some years of experience, and after giving the tubes an honest trial, that they will not stand the heat necessary in testing milk and cream. I am sure the honorable member for Maranoa will understand that I had no intention of trying to mislead the Committee.
– I never suggested that the honorable member did try to do so.
– But the honorable member told us that he had seen the work done, and that the graduating was perfect. I have no objection to the graduating of the bottles; all I say is that they cannot stand the high temperature. I am prepared to admit the quality of the thermometers, and much of the other glassware made here, but what 1 have said in regard to the test tubes is quite correct.
.- What the honorable member for Moreton speaks of are the test tubes mentioned in the first part of the item, but what he really means in connexion with cream testing is “ glassware graduated in centimeters, grains, minims, ounces, and grammes.” If beakers and flasks are to be free, the same argument applies to everything in the list; and I repeat that a duty on these instruments is simply a tax on scientific investigation in a great many industries throughout Australia.
Question - That the words “ test tubes “ be left out of the requested amendment in item 256 (Scientific apparatus), be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 12
Question so resolved in the negative.
Modification not made.
– I now intend to move that the words “ glassware graduated in centimeters, grains, minims, ounces, and grammes,” be left out of the Senate’s request.
– Why not move the omission of the whole lot?
– I am willing to do so if that will meet the wishes of honorable members.
– It will be sufficient to vote against the motion that the requested amendment be made.
Question - That the requested amendment in item 256 (Scientific Apparatus) be made - put. The Committee divided.
Majority …. … 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.
Requested amendment made.
Item 234. Oils -
In vessels exceeding one gallon, viz. : -
Request. - Amend sub-items (o) and (p) to read as follows : - “ (pp) Kerosene, and other Refined Petroleum
Oils n.e.i., having a flash point of not less than 97 degrees Fahrenheit according to the AbelPensky close test, free.”
Motion (Mr. Hume Cook’s),by leave, withdrawn.
– This afternoon I had the item postponed so that I might bring forward another proposal which might prove satisfactory to honorable members. I now move -
That the requested amendment be not made, but that the item be modified to read as follows : - “ (o) 3d., and on and after 3rd December, 1907, and up to and including 6th May, 1908, free.
And on and after 7th May, 1908 - (pp1) Kerosene, and other Refined Petroleum
Oils, n.e.i., having a flash point of not less than 102 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the AbelPensky close test, Free. (pp2) Kerosene, and other Refined Petroleum
Oils, n.e.i., having a flash point of less than 102 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the AbelPensky close test, when denaturated for industrial purposes, as prescribed by Departmental by-laws, Free.”
– If theMinister wishes to make all kerosene oil free, why does he not move that the requested amendment be not made?
– Paragraph pp 2 covers only denaturated oil.
– How is kerosene to be denaturated ?
– I am informed that, as the proposal is now worded, no trouble will be experienced.
– Oh, oh. The Treasurer is a born humorist.
– Honorable members laugh before they know what they are laughing at. I have followed the. suggestion made by the honorable member for Kooyong absolutely.
.- This is a very complicated question, and in the Treasurer’s proposal technical terms are employed, with the meaning of which I am unfamiliar. I wish to differentiate between oils used for fuel purposes and oils used for illuminating purposes. I have endeavoured to translate my desires into plain English as follows -
Kerosene for illuminating purposes to be free, providing the flash test is not less than102 degrees Fahrenheit by the Abel-Pensky closed cup test, and kerosene of above 73 degrees for oil engine purposes to be imported free under Customs departmental regulations, but not to be sold for lighting purposes.
If that is the substance of the proposal which the Treasurer has now placed before the Committee, I think that honorable members may accept it.
– The honorable member placed his proposal before me this afternoon, andI put it in the hands of the departmental authorities, requesting them to prepare an amendment which would give effect to his intentions. I did so, witha view to preventing a certain class of oil from being used for illuminating purposes. I adopted the suggestion of the honorable member, which seems to me to be a very good one, because, since the debate was initiated this afternoon, I have found that the flash point test in a great many parts of the world is much higher than it was declared to be by some honorable members. In one instance it is 105 degrees Fahrenheit.
– That is the open cup test, which is equivalent to about 70 odd degrees close cup test.
– All that I desire is to prevent this oil from being used for certain purposes. The exact flash point to be fixed is a matter which is open to discussion. I have endeavoured to meet the wish of the Committee in this matter. If it can be shown that 102 degrees is too high a flash point to fix, no doubt we shall be able to agree to some modification of it.
– I rise to a point of order. I desire to know whether the further amendment proposed by the Treasurer is in order, inasmuch as it really introduces a new item, which it makes subject to a duty?
– I intend to accept the proposal of the Treasurer.
.- Honorable members seem to be getting into a regular tangle in reference to this flashlight test. The object of the Committee, I take it, is to insure that kerosene shall be admitted free. But the proposal of the Treasurer would have the effect of excluding practically half the imports of kerosene into Australia. Itwould completely shut out all the imports of the British Oil Company which have a flash point of less than 102 degrees. I need scarcely point out that that test is four degrees above the flash point of the British- Asiatic Company’s oils.
– Is the honorable member referring to the bad kerosene now upon the Australian market, which blackens lamp glasses immediately it is lighted?
– I hold no brief for any company. My sole desire is to see that the people of Australia get their kerosene for illuminating purposes and also for oil engine purposes free. What has occurred to-day illustrates the absolute folly of this Committee attempting to dabble in intricate questions which should be dealt with by experts. The safest course we can adopt is to adhere to the flash testlaid down by all experts in the world, which is about 73 degrees Fahrenheit.
– It is 102 degrees in America.
– The honorable member is referring to the open cup test.
– It is 150 degrees in some places.
– The honorable member is speaking of the fire test. The fire test of the kerosene sold in Australia is over150 degrees. If we wish to avoid getting into a tangle over this matter we shall adhere to the recognised close flash test of 73 degrees Fahrenheit by the Abel-Pensky method.
.-I should like the Treasurer to explain how kerosene can be denaturated so as to render it impossible for it to be used for illuminating purposes whilst still retaining its explosive powers for use in oil engines ?
– Only to-day I received a statement from the Government Analyst of Victoria in reference to this matter. He says-
It would appear that the difficulty in regard to the admission of low test kerosene below the standard flash point may be overcome, so far as its use as a fuel oil for oil engines is concerned, by means of denaturation. It is quite possible to cheaply and effectively denaturate low test kerosene so that it may be perfectly adapted for use in oil engines, and, at the same time, unsuitable for burning in illuminating lamps. The denaturation would not affect the fuel (heating or calorific value) of the oil detrimentally, on the other hand, the denaturation would be so carried out as to slightly raise the calorific value of the low-test kerosene.
– Howcan he do it ?
– I cannot tell the honorable member. Mr. Wilkinson says that it can be done.
– And done inexpensively.
– He does not say that.
– Yes. Mr. Wilkinson says that it can be done cheaply and effectively.
.- If the Committee has ever been in a hopeless muddle it now is. I ask honorable members to consider for a moment what the Treasurer’s proposal really means. Thousands of gallons of oil for use in engines are imported in tins, and under this proposal every tin would have to be opened and its contents denaturated. That is preposterous.
– It would be more expensive than a duty.
– Yes. Every tin of kerosene to be used as an illuminant has stamped upon it the flash point test. Surely a flash point test of 150 degrees Fahrenheit is good enough. The White Rose oil has been on the market for a number of years, and no one can say that it is not a good illuminant. Throughout Western Queensland no other oil will be used. It has maintained its position on the market, and it is to the interests of the Standard Oil Company to keep it well up to the standard. Can any one say that the price of kerosene in Australia has not been reduced during the last ten years?
– Because the Standard Oil Company has been fought by the British Imperial Oil Company.
– The Standard Oil Company reduced the price of its oil in Australia long before the British Imperial Oil Company commenced operations here.
– It reduced its price all over the world.
– It did. The proposal that kerosene to beused in oil engines shall be denaturated is mere bunkum. Let a flash point test be fixed in respect of kerosene for oil engines and we shall then know what we are doing. Mr. Wilkinson tells us that this oil can be denaturated cheaply and effectively. We have a right to know how that is to be done, and until we have more information on the subject I shall not vote upon it. The Treasurer knew before we adjourned for dinner that he would meet with a stout opposition in respect to this proposal. I am satisfied that the Committee desire that kerosene, whether for motive power or for use as an illuminant, shall be free. If it is undesirable to import kerosene of a low flashing point for use in oil engines, surely it is equally undesirable to allow it to be produced in the Commonwealth.
– That is not the argument. The contention is that low-flash oil is sold as an illuminant.
– Not by the Oil Company?
– It is.
– That is not so. Oil imported for use in engines is stamped . “ use for oil engine purposes only.”
– The tins are not so stamped.
– Does the honorable member desire that every tin as well as every case shall be so stamped?
Mr.PAGE. - I have known unscrupulous traders in Queensland and New South Wales to fill White Rose tins with the British Imperial Oil Company’s oil and to sell it as White Rose kerosene. What is to prevent such men from pouring oil out of tins stamped “ use for oil enginepurposes only” into tins stamped “White Rose oil “ and selling it as such?
– There is nothing to prevent the same unscrupulous trader from putting a low flash-point oil into a tin bearing a high flash-point stamp.
– And there will be nothing to prevent the local man from doing the same thing.
– We can regulate the producer within the Commonwealth, but not the man outside.
– We cannot.
– No. That, would involve an interference with States rights. We have been repeatedly told that we cannot interfere under the Commerce Act with competition or ‘ consumption within a State. I hope honorable members will have nothing to do with the proposal that kerosene for use in oil. engines shall be denaturated
– I agree with the honorable member for Maranoa that in the desire to accomplish that which we cannot accomplish we are asked, not only to involve the users of this oil in ridiculously heavy expense, but to introduce in connexion with the oil trade of Australia a system which does not exist in any other part of the world, and which must tend to injure the Commonwealth. It would be highly absurd to appoint Customs officers to open up cases of kerosene on the wharfs, to open each tin, to empty its contents into a vat or tank; to denaturate the oil, and then to re-tin, re-solder, re-case, and deliver the oil.
– That is not done in the case of cotton-seed oil, which is denaturated. The denaturating process is carried out at the other end.
– It would be better to have a duty than to adopt this proposal.
– It would. In reply to the honorable member for Dalley, I would point out that kerosene oils are not put up .specially for the Australian trade. If we are going to separate the Australian trade from that of the rest of the world, we shall add considerably to the cost of the oil. We obtain supplies of oil from the cheapest market. We take them from the East when they are obtainable there more cheaply than they are in the United States - that is particularly the case in respect to engine oil - and we may also in case of scarcity buy them from New Zealand and elsewhere’. Are we going to compel the sellers to specially treat that oil for Australia,? As I have said, oils are not specially put up for the Australian trade. They are tinned and cased in -immense .quantities ready for orders from any part of the world. If this proposal were carried out, the Australian trade would be placed on a different footing.
– And when the oil reached here, every tin would have to be examined.
– A Customs officer would have to examine every tin to make sure that it was properly denaturated lt would be remarkable if any Parliament - especially one having control of Customs administration over so wide a territory as that of the Commonwealth - accepted the ipse dixit of any one man - whether Minister or analyst - who said that a process which would make oil useless for one purpose would not make it useless for any other.
– It is too -big a risk to take.
– It is. We are asked to take this action in respect of an enormous trade, important to the whole Commonwealth, on a statement by one man - I make no reflection on his qualifications - tint it can be done cheaply and effectively. I think I have shown that it cannot be done cheaply, and the Committee certainly does not know that it can be done effectively. Such a dangerous experiment would not be made , by any Parliament unless it had the highest scientific authority for it. Even where such a proposal was supported by the highest scientific authority, it would not be adopted until it had been demonstrated that it could be carried out effectively and cheaply.
– Is it not a fact that goods for export are put up in accordance with the laws of the country to. which they are to be sent ?
– We might1 provide that engine oils should be imported in tins or bottles of a certain size, but, by distinguishing our imports from those of the rest ‘of the world, we should be adopting a highly foolish course. What would be the gain in this case?
– Safety for the public.
– Let us see whether we should secure safety for the public. I am with the Minister in the desire to protect the public from the use of dangerous oil, and our freedom from accidents shows that they have been very considerably protected, whether by the importation of good oil, or under the laws of the States, so far as they have laws regulating the sale of oil. The Minister asks the Committee to take the risk of making an experiment, the effectiveness of which has not vet been demonstrated, and, by agreeing to it, we shall accomplish nothing as regards the safety of the consuming public.
– So much would be accomplished that inferior oil could not be sold as an illuminant, as it is sold now.
– Let us see whether that statement is correct. We have no power over the retailing of these oils.
– What is the use of considering the question of a test, if we cannot follow the oil to the consumer ?
– Under the proposal before us we cannot protect the consumer. Unless action is taken by the States, and that action reaches not only the manufacturer but also the retailer, the public cannot be protected in the slightest degree. We shall have this oil produced locally in considerable quantities, and it may be distributed without any denaturating, and soldas illuminating oil.
– But supposing the denaturing involves a colouring - would not that be a protection?
– If that is the process, I have very little faith in colouring as a protection to the public. Unfortunately cheapness is so necessary to many that they would not mind the colour ing, so long as the oil would burn. However, that has nothing to do with the question. What I contend is that we cannot protect the public unless we can reach the retailer - that the only power that can effectually protect the public in relation to the final distributor is the power of the States. In some of the States that power has been taken, and is exercised ; and if we could help the States - it would only be a help - without altering the whole system of the import trade, we should be justified in doing so. But under a proposal ofthe kind before us. we see our ineffectiveness to be so great thatwe are asked to support a proposal which involves the separation of the Australian trade from the trade of the rest of the world.
– That is done under the Pure Foods Acts of the States.
– But I am speaking of the Commonwealth.
– Under the Pure Foods Act of Victoria there has to be interference with other markets.
– Does the honorable member think pure foods are sold only in Australia?
– Not at all ; but impure foods are largely manufactured in other countries.
– Pure foods are produced and sold in all parts of the world ; and Australia occupies no special position in that respect. We are now asked to separate our trade from that of the rest of the world, and to bear all the consequent disadvantages and additional cost. Much of the oil must come here without being treated, and we. are asked to insist on an elaborate process at this end, which will not protect the public, because the only protection, as I Have pointed out, must come from the States. In addition, we are asked to adopt the test without any inquiry or opinion beyond that ofone scientific man -an opinion obtained on the spur of the moment.
– An opinion of which we have heard only since tea time.
– If the process suggested were effective in regard to oil used as an illuminant, we do not know whether it would not interfere with the qualities of the oil for engine-driving purposes.
– The right honorable member for East Sydney suggests that this report has been obtained since tea time, but, as a matter of fact, the report is dated 4th May.
– Then this has been in the mind of the Government, and they have never proposed it.
– When the report was received is not of great importance; but at any rate, it was within the last couple of days.
– But the implication was that the report had been prepared since the postponement’ of this item.
– No country that I know of would intrust its trade to the dictum of one individual without experiment or experience; and, as said by one honorable member, we are only assisting a monopoly if we adopt the proposal. We are throwing everything into the hands of a company which I have heard reviled in this Chamber, often, I think, unnecessarily from our stand-point.
– And the Treasurer is getting his instructions now from that company !
– Surely the honorable member for North Sydney does not indorse that interjection?
– I know nothing about that.
– The British Imperial Oil Company say that the test for their engine oil is 100 degrees, and over.
– I think it is about 98 degrees, from what I can discover.
– That is not the question involved, because we are now dealing with oils of a lower test. I understand that some companies claim to produce a certain oil for engines at a higher test; and I am informed that, not only is that oil more costly than some others, but that some engines are not adapted for its use.
– Very few are not.
– In any case, that is not the point. . The whole question is whether the Government are prepared to admit for engine purposes oils at a lower test. I have already expressed my opinion of the method which the Government proposes to adopt for their admission. I think we should be unwise to adopt the proposal, especially seeing that the result would not be to protect the public one whit. I wish the local producers of oil every success, but I cannot support such a restriction on imports, especially when local production of low-test oils will not be restricted in the least by our action. They will be able to send out oils of any test, which vendors may sell as an illuminant; and if any protection of the public is needed, itmust come from the States. I should not object to make any easy distinction merely to assist the States ; but it is a different matter when we are asked to change the whole trading conditions, and adopt a certain process of denaturing on the dictum of one man.
– I am sorry that the test has been increased to 102 degrees, because, in my opinion, it would have been better to leave it at 97 degrees. I have always understood that it is essential to take great precautions in regard to kerosene purchased for illuminating purposes. Now, however; it would appear that all the tests of the past were unnecessary, and that oil may be allowed in at 73 degrees, supposed to be for engines, while it can be sold as an illuminant at the price of good oil. We are told that if we attempt to stop this practice, we shall be interfering with some interests ; but that is an argument which is advanced against every proposed reform. There never was a law passed yet which did not interfere with the interests of somebody. It has been recognised for years that a low standard is bad, and that it is necessary to protect the public, first against dangerous oil, and, secondly, against inferior oil sold at the price of good oil.
.- The object of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports seems to be to prevent the sale as an illuminant pf oil having a flash point of 86 degrees Fahrenheit; and to do that he would wholly prohibit its use, even for oil engines.
– Then how does the honorable member propose to effect his object ?
– By colouring all oil with a flash point under 97 degrees.
– I asked the Treasurer what the process of denaturating is to be, and what it will cost, so that I might know whether or not it would prove practically prohibitory ; but he told the Committee nothing on the subject. I and others on this side are not prepared, without further information, to assent to a process which has never been tried elsewhere, and which might in practice result in preventing the use of oil for power purposes having a flash test of less than 97 degrees.
– The denaturating of methylated spirits has been practised for more than a generation.
– That is on different lines, and the same process is followed all over the world ; but ‘the denaturating of kerosene has not been proposed anywhere else than here. We have been told that it is not a fact that the standard of the world is a flash point of 73 degrees.
– In Brisbane the standard is 83 degrees.
– We should not object to a standard of 83 degrees, because the oil chiefly used in oil engines has a flash point of 86 degrees.. It has been stated that such oil may occasionally be used for illumination, with dangerous consequences ; but I know that when the proprietors of the Fairy Mead Sugar Mill, in Bundaberg, tried it for the sake of economy, they found, not that it was dangerous, but that it gave a very poor light, and its use had to be discontinued. No one who was not exceedingly ignorant would use it in preference to the ordinary illuminating oils, which are properly advertised, and can be easily distinguished from it. Even if people were foolish enough to use it, they would run no risk, the general expert opinion being that a lamp which is dangerous if oil having a flash point of 73 degrees is used in it, would also be dangerous if oil of a higher flash point were used in it.
– As a matter of fact, the oil in lamps is heated to a much higher temperature.
– Yes. The standard in Great Britain is a flash point of 73 degrees, and while one American standard is 100 degrees, the test is made in such a way that it is only the equivalent of 73 degrees in the Abel-Pensky close cup test, In most of the States of America, and in every other country in the world, the standard is 73 degrees or less. We should not object to a standard of 83 degrees, our position being that oil having a flash point of 86 degrees or more should be admitted free. The honorable member for Macquarie says that this oil is not so good for motive purposes ; but the following unsolicited letter from a Mr. Wrench, a butcher in Childers, and a user of an oil engine, puts a different complexion on the matter. He says -
I have the honour to approach you on the recent action of the Senate in fixing the duty on kerosene to such oil as does not exceed a flash test of 97 degrees Fahr., which will put a burden on consumers of oil (kerosene) for oil engines, inasmuch as the oil which gives the greatest power is one with a low flashing point. That being used chiefly now is “Royal Daylight,” which, I believe, has a flash test of 86 degrees, which will be subject to a duty of 6d. per gallon. I am a consumer of kerosene for an oil engine, and this will mean to me anything from 30s. to £2 per week extra for oil for my engine-pretty heavy, is it not?
Then follows an apology for writing. This is not the only letter of the kind which has been received. In Central Queensland, the district I know best, thousands of oil engines are being used, largely because of their economy in fuel and running expenses. They have been bought on the understanding that cheap fuel will be available. If the users cannot get oil having a flash point of 86 degrees, which, I believe, costs 7½d. per gallon, they will be forced to buy oil having a flash point of 98 degrees, at a cost of9½d. per gallon.
– I have been informed that the regular quotation is 8d.
– That is the wholesale price in bulk at the ship’s side; it is not the price at which consumers in Central Queensland can purchase. My information is supplied by a person who uses oil engines. The object of the proposal before the Committee is to force these persons to buy a dearer though less serviceable oil, to the advantage of the British Imperial or Commonwealth- Oil Company. Sir Frederick Abel, an acknowledged authority of world-wide repute, whose opinion is to be taken even before Mr. Wilkinson’s, stated in an official report presented to the Imperial Government after a prolonged and exhaustive experimental inquiry -
There are not, in my judgment, any well established grounds for considering that the present’ flashing point of 73 degrees, Abel, is not calculated to afford adequate protection to the public.
– The flash point fixed by a recent conference of experts in America is 83 degrees.
– Then allow all oil having a. flash point of 83 degrees or over to come in free. Mr. Hake, the Chief Inspector of Explosives, and Chemical Adviser to the Department of Defence, reported in 1904 that oil having a flash point of 70 degrees is perfectly safe, and the Government adopted that as the standard. How is it that it has been suddenly discovered now that such oil is dangerous? Every argument advanced prior to the adjournment for dinner merely dealt with the protectionist aspect of this question. I contend that the proposal of the Treasurer, if adopted, will penalize those who use oil as fuel for engines. Any person who uses for illuminating purposes an oil with a flash point test of, 86 degrees must be satisfied with a palpably very inferior article. But no danger would result from its use. All the experts of the world have declared that 73 degrees is a safe flash point test to adopt. I have known cases in which inferior oils have been used for illuminating purposes, and in which those oils have actually choked the lamps containing them, so that their use had to be speedily discontinued. Are we to abandon the whole of our trade in these oils simply upon the ipse dixit of Mr. Wilkinson, the Government Analyst of Victoria, who was never previously heard of as an authority upon explosives, and in opposition to the opinions of all the recognised world-known experts ?
.- We have listened to a very impassioned address by the honorable member for North Sydney.
– A very able one.
– I did not say it was not.
– But I say it was.
– Naturally. The honorable member for Capricornia has also made an address of a similar character. His whole argument was that the proposal of the Treasurer would impose a prohibition upon those who were using kerosene oil for industrial purposes, and would result disastrously to them and to their industry. He carefully avoided any reference to the proposal of the Government to secure safety to the public without adding a single penny to the cost of the oil to the consumer.
– Did the Treasurer say that?
– He did not. But I say it. This oil can be introduced into the Commonwealth through the Customs, and be rendered so easily distinguishable from the ordinary kerosene, used as an illuminant, that no danger will be incurred by the general public.
– We have only the honorable member’s word for that.
– I will tell the honorable member one method by which this oil can be easily distinguished from the ordinary kerosene.
– Would theadoption of that method prevent the oil being used for illuminating purposes?
– No. But the consumer will know what he is getting.
– Does he not know now ?
– No. The oil which is now imported is contained in cases, which are marked “ Not for lighting purposes,” but there is no intimation upon the tins that their contents are not to be so used.
– I told the honorable member that I knew of cases where this oil had been tried, and its use discontinued because it would not burn. It choked the lamps.
– The honorable member urges that, so long as an oil will not burn satisfactorily, the public are sufficiently protected. I do not hold that view. An oil which will choke a lamp will also choke an individual. Some of these oils give off. such an enormous amount of carbon that their use is absolutely dangerous to human life. By adding a very small amount of inexpensive colouring matter to them, they can be easily recognised. Thus the argument of the honorable member for Capricornia in regard to imposing a prohibition upon these oils falls absolutely to the ground.
– Can the colouring matter be added here?
– Yes, and without any expense.
– The tins would have to be opened. Would that cost nothing?
– It would cost very little. The honorablemember knows that the oil would probably be treated, before it came here, in such a way as to make it useless for lighting purposes.
– How would that be done?
– By means of colouring matter. A few drops of ordinary black engine oil placed in a tin of oil would be sufficient to discolour it. Butat the present time tins of inferior oil are being placed upon the market as illuminating oil.
– Not by the company that brings out the oil.
– The company is responsible, because it does not place upon its tins any indication that the article is not intended to be used for lighting purposes.
– The notification is placed on the cases.
– It should be placed upon the tins. There would be no additional cost in so doing, whilst there would be an additional safeguard to the public.
– But there would be no safeguard against the inferior oil of the local manufacturer.
– I would afford such a safeguard ifI could ; but because I cannot secure that, surely I am not to be debarred from doing what I can in regard to the imported oil. We have to do our duty to the people of Australia, leaving the State authorities to do their duty with regard to local manufacturers. If we place the flash test at a proper level we shall find that the State authorities will adopt the same test with regard to local productions. The honorable member for Wentworth made a great point of a quotation from a book in regard to placing the flash test at 73 degrees. I should like to know the date of that book?
– The latest edition is dated 1906.
– In 1906, an important conference took place in Germany, which was attended by a great many scientists, amongst whom were some of the greatest authorities in the world. One of these informed the conference that, in his opinion, 83.6 was the lowest safe flash point. The secretary of the conference, however, went further, and said that 86 degrees was the lowest really safe flash point. It was also pointed out that climatic conditions had to be taken into consideration. Now, the mean temperature of Germany is far lower than that of Australia, and more especially of Queensland.
– It is marvellous how few accidents occur.
– The honorable member does not hear of all the accidents.
– Does not the honorable member realize that the proposal of the Government would give the local company a monopoly ?
– I do not want to give a monopoly to any company. The most contradictory statements have been made in regard to this matter. I hold no brief for any party. I am simply trying to protect the public. I have, however, been driven almost to distraction by the varying statements made by those interested. I have been assured on the one hand’ that if we carry the proposal of the Treasurer it means the ‘ complete obliteration of the British Imperial Oil Company, and also of the local company. On the other hand, I have been assured by authorities just as competent that the Treasurer’s .proposal would secure a virtual monopoly for the local producer.
– The Standard Oil Company would get a monopoly if the Treasurer’s suggestion were carried.
– I am not prepared to take any notice of any of these statements.’ I am proceeding on the broad principle that we should protect the public in two respects : first, . from danger to life, limb, and property, and secondly from fraud. I say that an oil which is imported to Australia for something like 6d. per gallon, and which is sold for lighting purposes, is not safe to use; and in my opinion we should not allow it to be imported for that purpose. But I recognise that the oil engine is becoming generally used, especially in the country districts. These engine’s are frequently under the control of inexpert persons who do not really know the danger they run. I do not wish to deprive the users of oil engines of cheap fuel. The proposal of the Treasurer will permit a cheap fuel to be admitted free of duty, but it would b2 admitted in such a way as to be easily recognised .from the oil .which could be used safely for lighting purposes. If the company which is importing this fuel were prepared to place upon its tins an intimation of the purposes for which the oil was to be used, I should be satisfied. It is usual for the householder to buy his oil by the tin ; not by the pint Or quart.
– Great quantities arebought in bottles.
– If the importers of that particular brand were prepared toplace on the tins or bottles the flash point,, and also a statement that it was not to beused for lighting purposes, just as they doon the cases, my objection would be met toa large extent.
– That is one of the best suggestions I have heard - to compel, some statement to be placed on the tin.
– We were told from the honorable member’s side that .it would absolutely prohibit the introduction-
– No; it would not be expensive to paste a piece of paper on the tin. .
– The honorable member for North Sydney stated specifically that we could not expect the company to put up their oil in a different fashion for Australia as compared with other countries.
– He said that it could not be done without increasing the cost to the consumer.
– I have a perfect recollection of what took place. I heard thehonorable member say more than once that we could not expect the company to put uptheir oil in a different fashion for Australia. In fact, he said they would not doso.
– That was in referenceto denaturating the oil. It had nothing to tlo with the label on the tins.
– The honorable member should remember that no one has suggested that the denaturating should take place outside Australia.
– Yes; it was suggested by the honorable member for Dalley by way of interjection.
– I was the first to make the suggestion. I am perfectly clear that . the honorable member for North Sydney was alluding to the tins in which the oil is. put “up. “ I am glad to hear the leader of the Opposition say that,; in his opinion, the suggestion is worth considering, but he will have to convert the honorable member for North Sydney.
– No. The honorable member misunderstands my suggestion. There is no expense in putting a label on the tin. That does not require them to put up the oil separately.
– The honorable member does not realize how the tins are marked. They are all embossed, and, therefore, as he knows, cannot be tampered with. A label can be easily removed.
– I would not ask them to incur that expense.
– The embossing of the tin costsvery little indeed. I hope that honorable members who are anxious that the user of liquid fuel shall get it as cheaply as possible will not be led away by the statement which has been so freely made that he will be prohibited from using the imported article if it is interfered with in any degree at the Customs House. We have the authority of a competent analyst - and I take leave to say that there is no more competent man in Australia than Mr. Wilkinson to express an opinion on this subject - not only that it can be cheaply and effectually done, but that the heatgiving power will be increased. Here surely is an answer to the argument which has been used. Those who say that if we carry this proposal the user of oil engines will be placed at a disadvantage, must be able to see that the slight disadvantage in any infinitesimal increase in the price - and I do not think there will be any increase because the tendency is to fall rather than to rise - will be more than counterbalanced by thegreater safety to the lives and property . of people. The proposal will also give them a certain amount of immunity from the swindling and fraud which undoubtedly are being perpetrated.
.- The honorable member for North Sydney is not present, but I heard hisvery able speech, and I am quite satisfied that he has been misunderstood by the honorable member for Laanecoorie.
– No; I heard him say it.
– The honorable member did not say anything about the tins being marked. What he alluded to was the denaturating of the kerosene on the other side of the world. He said that it was not likely that theywould put up a special number of tins in that way for. Australia. He did not refer to the marking of the tins. That is a very good suggestion, and one which seems to be feasible. Like most honorable members, I have read. a great deal on this subject, during the last week or two. The letters and articles which I read were so contradictory that I do not feel competent to offer an opinion. I merely rose to point out that the honorable member for Laanecoorie has misunderstood, if not the actual words, the purport and intention of what the honorable member for North Sydney said.
– No; the honorable member is quite mistaken.
.- I rise to ask the Treasurer if he can see his way clear to reduce the flash point from 102 degrees to either 100 degrees or 97 degrees, but as the hour is late, perhaps he will allow that question to be considered tomorrow.
Progress reported. .
House adjourned at 11.3 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 6 May 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1908/19080506_reps_3_46/>.