3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Survey of Cable Route between Australia and Tasmania - Kerang Telephone Service. .
– In view of the fact that a survey of alternative routes for a cable between Tasmania and the mainland is now being made, I should like to ask the Postmaster-General whether it is intended to survey a route via King Island ?
– Orders have been given that a route via King Island is to be surveyed together with others.
– I wish to ask the Postmaster-General whether the following paragraph in regard to the telephone service, which appeared in this morning’s issue of the Argus, is correct -
Kerang is suffering at the present time from departmental disorganization. It was decided to give Kerang a local service, and an officer was sent up to make . all the necessary arrangements. Subsequently, a line foreman was instructed to carry out the work, and he went to Kerang with all possible speed. But when he got on the spot he found that the engineer who planned the new service had omitted to obtain the poles required. The line foreman had to return to Melbourne without really fulfilling his mission, and an inspector was sent up to set things right.
If the complaint is correct, have steps been taken to remedy it forthwith ?
– The honorable member was good enough to inform me that he proposed to ask this question. I find that the paragraph, instead of being correct, is about as incorrect as it could possibly be. The first duty devolving upon those who petitioned for the exchange some months ago, has not yet been carried out, but the Department is pushing on with the work. The delay has been caused by the destruction of the whole of the material required for this work in. the fire which took place some time ago. We have had to await further consignments. The official reply is as follows -
Electrical Engineer’s Branch,
General Post Office,
Melbourne, 7th May, 1908.
Memorandum to the Deputy Postmaster-General
With regard to the paragraph in to-day’s Argus, referring to the Kerang Telephone Ex change, I beg to report for your information that an application was received from the local Progress Association on 26th July, 1907, for the establishment of an exchange, with 38 subscribers. An Assistant Engineer visited Kerang early in August, and collected all necessary data. Up to 4th December, 1907, only three of the 38 intending subscribers had paid their rents. The fire which occurred in Wallach’s Buildings on 30th November, 1907, destroyed all stocks of line material, and nothing could be done for the Kerang service until the stocks were replenished, which took place about the middle of February, 1908. In the Engineer’s original report, 42 new poles were allowed for. These poleswere supplied under contract in December, 1907. All these poles are at Kerang. In addition nine (9) extra 35-ft. poles were recently forwarded from Melbourne to meet the demands for extra services and alterations. It is now found that 20 (twenty) additional poles are required. These poles are being specially obtained under “ local offers,” and are expected to be delivered in14 days’. . The work at Kerang has been in progress for twoor three weeks, and the men are still working there. In this respect, it may ‘be mentioned that up to 17th March, 1908, only nine of the intending subscribers had paid their rentals, as required ; but it was directed that the work should nevertheless be proceeded with, even although the rentals of the remaining twenty-seven intending subscribers had not been paid, or their agreements signed. The line foreman engaged in the work has not left Kerang since he went there.
Howard, for Electrical Engineer.
– Does the Prime Minister intend to introduce immediately after the passing of the Tariff, and as part of the Tariff proposals of the Government, ‘ a Bill providing for a system of new protection ?
– As the honorable member is aware, until the judgment of the High Court in the recent test case is given, it will be impossible to satisfactorily shape any scheme.
– I understood that there were other means of carrying out what we desire.
– The statement has been made before that as soon as that judgment is given, a measure will be prepared and introduced.
Defamatory Article on Sydney.
– I desire to ask the
Prime Minister, with further reference to the issue of the Lone Hand, subsidized by the present Government, which contained the defamatory article on Sydney, wherein that city was described as “the mast disease-stricken,” and of which 50,000 copies were distributed, a copy being sent to every newspaper in the United Kingdom and every leading newspaper “in the United States, is he aware that vital statistics prove that so far from Sydney being “ the most disease-stricken,” it is one of the healthiest of Australian cities? Further, is he aware that its death rate is only 10.7 per 1,000, as against 13.6’ in the case of Melbourne, 21.79 in the case of Adelaide, 17-10 in the case of Hobart, 15.24 in the case of Launceston, and 17.36 in the case of Perth and suburbs, none of which chief cities in the other States are stigmatized as diseasestricken? Is the honorable gentleman aware also that while the death rate of Sydney is, with the exception of Brisbane (10.0), the lowest, its birth rate is the highest in Australia?
– Before ‘ calling on the Prime Minister to reply, I would point out that the object of the honorable member in putting the question seems to be to make certain statements rather than to obtain an answer to his inquiry, and thatthat is distinctly contrary to the standing order, which requires that questions shall not contain any expression of opinion except to the extent necessary to explain them.
– May I explain, sir, that I asked the question in consequence of an answer to a question given yesterday by’ the Prime Minister, in which he said that he was aware of the publication of this defamatory article.
– The honorable member may ask the question, but, at the same time, I would point out that it is necessary to prevent questions from degenerating into debates that may be carried on from time to time, one side replying to the other, and the object of the standing order being thus defeated.
– One would . prefer comparisons that were instituted between Australian cities and those outside the Commonwealth ; but I take it that the honorable member, holding the views he does, is fully entitled to place this information before the House.
States Debts. - Statement by the Prime Minister.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether the following is a correct report of a statement made by him at the Conference of Premiers on Tuesday. Paragraphs of the same purport appear in both the Agc and the Argus -
Leading members of the House of Representatives no later than last evening, and members not of my own party, took me to task for proposing what they considered to be an extravagantly liberal scheme to the States.
Mr. Swinburne : Whoever said that had ‘not read the scheme.
Mr. Deakin : However, he went to the point at once. He said that this was the only country he had ever heard of in which one Government went chasing the debts of another Government for the purpose of assuming them.
If the report is correct, will the Prime Minister say who were the leading members of the House of Representatives and members not of his own party who uttered those criticisms?
– The statement I quoted is correctly given, but its source is not. I did not say that it was made by any member bf the House of Representatives.
– The Prime Minister is reported in the newspapers of today, in the discussion between himself and the Premiers yesterday, to have said -
So far as we have gone, we have kept within lines which we understand would receive favorable consideration by the Federal Parliament.
Assuming that to be a substantially correct report, I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether he will say how he has ascertained the opinion of the Federal Parliament in order to justify that statement at the Premiers’ Conference and whether the opinion of the Federal Parliament has ever been elicited or even invited on the Government financial scheme ; if so, will he name the occasion?
– The question is quite a natural one, and arises from the fact that the report published by the newspapers consists of excerpts from the complete report. In this particular instance, the assertion which the honorable member alleges or implies by his question was not made bv me. I pointed out that at no timehad any financial ischeme been decided on by this House, nor had it even been discussed, except by individual members at times, and that I was assuming that the scheme which was suggested would be favourably considered by honorable members, only from my general knowledge of their views on this subject.
Exhibition of Views
– I have a matter of privilege to bring under your notice, Mr. Speaker. A few days ago I was .presented with a picture of Dalgety, one of the proposed sites of the Federal Capital. A number of honorable members who had an opportunity of seeing it thought that it was such an exact representation of the site that it should be hung with .other pictures of Dalgety m the vestibule of the House so that honorable members generally might have an opportunity to inspect it. It was there at 12.30 p.m. to-day, but has disappeared. As a matter of privilege, I ask you to instruct your officers to ascertain its whereabouts.
– I shall have inquiries made, and ascertain what has become of the picture.
– I desire, Mr. Speaker, to put a question to you with respect to the same matter. I saw the picture, and am not surprised to hear that it has disappeared. I made up my mind to ask you, on the House meeting, whether you had given permission for the picture, which is a palpable parody on others already hung in the vestibule, to be placed there.
– . Permission . has neither been sought of nor given by me.
– May I be permitted to ask the honorable member for Illawarra a question through you, Mr. Speaker ?
– On looking more closely at the standing order, I see that there are limitations as to the questions which may be asked of private members. Had I had the exact wording of the standing order before me yesterday, I should not have permitted the question which was asked of the honorable member for Fawkner. I cannot, under the standing order, permit a question to be asked of the honorable member for Illawarra.
– I desire to raise a question of privilege. You, Mr. Speaker, stated that you gave no instructions for permission for this picture to be hung ; and I desire to know whether you gave any instructions for its removal from the corridor or for other pictures to be placed ‘there.
– I have already mentioned that I gave permission for the pictures, which have been shown for some clays, to be displayed, in the corridor ; but
I have neither given nor refused permission for the picture referred to by the honorable member, nor did I hear pf it until the honorable member mentioned it.
– Has the Prime Minister noticed that efforts are apparently being made by the German Government to vary the boundary between German New Guinea and Papua? Has the Prime Minister given any consideration to the effect of the suggested alteration, and taken steps to preserve the interests of our own territory ?
– The determination of the boundary between German territory and Papua has been before us from time to time. Quite recently we communicated with the Colonial Office, requesting that authority should be obtained to invite the German Government to give authority to their local Government to confer with the Government of Papua in regard to the marking of the boundary. No proposals for any alteration of the boundary have been submitted to us. If any are made, of course, they will be considered.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister .Whether he is aware that the Chairman of the New South Wales Fisheries Board, Mr. Frank Farnell, has received a communication from three representative Aberdeen-Glasgow fishermen who are the accredited representatives of over 5, 000 active Scottish fishermen. According to the paragraph, these men seem anxious to come out to New South Wales and follow their calling here, not only in the actual catching of fish, but also in the erecting of factories for the canning of fish, both for local needs and for export purposes. I desire to know whether the Prime Minister will look into that statement, and endeavour to do something to assist these men to come here and erect canning factories?
– As soon as I saw that intimation, I had it extracted and sent to the Department of the Minister of Trade and Customs, with a view to inquiry, as to its accuracy, and as to what action could be taken to assist the object in view. As honorable members are aware,’ there is a Commonwealth trawler in course of building; and no doubt the knowledge of that fact has encouraged those Scottish fishermen to come here for the purpose of studying possibilities of the Australian waters.
Old-age Pensions : Financial Arrangements.
– I desire to make a personal explanation in reference to a statement I made yesterday, and in answer to an interjection as to the financial proposals of the right honorable member for Swan while he was Treasurer of the present Administration. My statement, I observe, has led to some misunderstanding ; and I desire to briefly call attention to the factthat the proposals referred to are those which were first made in the Budget statement of 1906-7. After that Budget statement, the’ Government introduced a Constitution Alteration Bill as , its complement, which passed through this Chamber, but failed to pass in another place, because of the absence of an absolute majority by one vote or so. The effect of that Bill, had it been passed, would have been to enable us before 19 10 to apply certain Customs revenue to any purpose the Commonwealth thought fit, the Government having distinctly stated from the first that its object in introducing the Billwas to enable them to make immediate provision for old-age pensions ; but, owing to the rejection of that Bill, the referendum could not be taken. To deal with these pensions before 1910 was our consistent policy throughout. The next Conference of Premiers took place at Melbourne in October, 1906. I do not propose to read extracts, but if honorable members who are interested will read page 52 of the official report, they will find that I then laid before the Premiers a proposal to alter, the Constitution in that regard prior to 1910. A report of a discussion on that proposal will be found on page 53. Our purpose was the same, namely, the dealing with old-age pensions. On page 114 honorable members will find that the proposal was favorably discussed by the representatives of the States,: in fact, the question of old-age pensions occupied more attention at that Conference than any other subject. On page 116 honorable members will see that the relation of this proposal to the taking over of the whole of the debts is also insisted on; and on page 127 it will be seen that, after a long debate, and in consequence of my representation on behalf of the Government, the following resolution was carried and added to those which had been submitted by the Treasurer
Provided that in the event of the Commonwealth Parliament desiring to provide for oldage pensions before 1910, nothing in the foregoing resolutions shall preclude any necessary alteration of the dates in the above resolution, provided that the whole period from the establishment of the Commonwealth be taken as the basis for determining the fixed annual amount.
That was added to the resolutions to which I yesterday colloquially alluded as Sir John Forrest’s.The Brisbane Conference was a continuation of the Melbourne Conference, and the consideration of the resolutions as they had been left in Melbourne was resumed. Sir John Forrest’s resolutions had added to them the proposals introduced and carried by Mr. Kidston to meet my request.
– Howlong after the Melbourne Conference was the Brisbane Conference?
– The Brisbane Conference was held in May, 1907 ; but the Premiers then took up the same set of resolutions that had been considered at Melbourne - taking them up exactly as they had been left at the previous Conference. They did not recommence as fresh conferences do, but continued the deliberations of the previous Conference. That is why I alluded to the proposals having been made with the substantial object of at once dealing with the question of old-age pensions, that is prior to 19 10. This was an important part of our policy. The right honorable member for Swan, by interjection, stated that his scheme did not contain any such proposition. In a strict sense, perhaps, as to the proposals which he himself tabled, his statement is. perfectly true; but in the sense that I, as head of the Government, asked for and obtained this further resolution from the States Premiers, which was again before the Premiers when he met them in Brisbane, my statement is correct. It is quite true that the proposal did not emanate from my honorable friend, but it did emanate from the Government - it was placed before the States Premiers at the Conference held in Melbourne, at which I was present, and it was again before them in the Conference held at Brisbane while I was in London.
– The point is that this scheme was reaffirmed at Brisbane after that special provision had been disposed of.
– My statement was that our proposals were made originally with a view to obtaining the power to deal with old-age pensions before 1910. That was embodied in the resolutions which were put before the Conference at Brisbane. Whilst the right honorable member for . Swan may be technically correct in saying that this one purposewas not included in his own proposals, the fact re- mains that it was attached to his proposals and at my request as head of the Government.
– I wish to make a few observations by way of personal explanation. Whilst the Prime Minister was speaking yesterday I interjected that in the proposals which I submitted to this House in my Budget Speech on 31st July, 1906, and which were afterwards submitted to the Premiers’ Conference in Melbourne, in October, 1906, no mention was made of anticipating the withdrawal of the Braddon section - section 87 of the Constitution. Those proposals, which were indorsed by the Government, would not have taken effect until after the end of 1910. I am well aware that some months after the Budget containing the proposals of the Government had been introduced, the Prime Minister, on behalf of the Government, proposed to submit to a referendum of the electors of the Commonwealth an alteration of. the Constitution by which the Braddon section would have been amended so as to permit of provision being made for old-age pensions before the end of 1910. The. Bill dealing with the matter was approved by this House, but failed to command the necessary majoritv in the Senate, and, therefore, was not referred to a referendum of the people.
– After it had failed was any further modification of that proposal made?
– I have no recollection of any proposal being made at Brisbane in reference to it other than that put forward by the States’ Premiers themselves. I certainly submitted no such proposal, and had no authority to do so. I did not know whether or not the Prime Minister intended to again ask Parliament to deal with section 87 of the Constitution. Therefore, I was perfectly accurate in the interjection which I made yester day. However, I do not desire to labour the matter. All I wish to say is that the amendment of section 87 of the Constitution prior to the end of the year’ 1910, when it becomes alterable, to enable the Commonwealth to impose special duties for the purpose of defraying the cost of a Federal system of old-age pensions, was not included in the scheme introduced by me as Treasurer, on behalf of the Government, in my Budget of 1906.
Sir WILLIAM LYNE laid upon the table the following paper -
Revenue and Expenditure - Statements showing
The total Revenue and Expenditure (Commonwealth and State) of the Commonwealth of Australia,
“Other” (new) Expenditure of the Commonwealth for 6½ years ended 30th June, 1907.
Ordered to be printed.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
In pursuance of paragraph (1) of question No. 3, asked on Tuesday, 5th May, will the PostmasterGeneral state definitely what are the exact terms of any concessions held by the Eastern Extension Cable Company from the Commonwealth, and the terms of any agreement existing between the two parties?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question, is as follows -
Yes. Copies of the various agreements between the Eastern Extension Company and the States, which became binding upon the Commonwealth on the transfer of the Department, will be laid upon the table of the Library.
asked the honorable member for Fawkner, upon notice -
– I think, sir, that you have ruled that the questioning of an honorable member by another member cannot be permitted under our Standing Orders, except in specified circumstances - that is, when an honorable member has charge of business which is before the House. If the practice of one honorable member questioning another is permitted to continue, I fear that it will open up a very wide field, indeed.
– Mr. Speaker, I would like to address you on this matter. Standing order 92 imposes a limitation upon questions which may be addressed to private members. It says -
After notices have been given, “Questions may be put to Ministers of the Crown relating to public affairs; and to other members relating to any Bill, motion, or other public matter connected with the business on the Notice-paper -
There is also a provision in the first of our Standing Orders, which says that, if our own Standing Orders are silent upon any matter, or do not impose an express prohibition, the practice of the House of Commons shall apply..
– But our’ own rules are not silent upon the matter.
– The House of Commons is guided by a parallel rule to ours, but an exception is permitted. Upon page 249 of the nth edition of May,I find the following -
Questions addressed to unofficial members must relate to a Bill, motion, or other matter connected with the business of the House in which such members are concerned -
That agrees exactly with our own rule. In substance it is the same. May continues - though a question addressed to a member, the leader of the Opposition, inquiring the course he intended to adopt regarding a motion by the Government, was not allowed. Although questions may not be asked regarding . statements made bv members outside the House, a question to an unofficial member has been permitted regarding a circumstance alleged to have happened outside Parliament, because it impugned the veracity of a member in respect to a statement made by him in the House.
I- submit that if the honorable member for Fawkner admits that he did make the statement attributed to him, there could not be a more distinct impugnment of the veracity of members of the Labour Party than his affirmation that they voted against their consciences. I submit that our Standing Orders being silent in this connexion, the rule of the House of Commons applies.
– There is no question of veracity involved.
– I think that a charge of want of veracity has been made against members of the Labour Party. To say that a member conscientiously believes one thing and says another is an attack upon his honour and truthfulness. If you, sir, are going to interpret the Standing Orders strictly, you will really cut down our rights very considerably, because we shall not be able to ask questions without notice.
– That would be a blessing.
– A very good thing, too.
– That is not the point. No doubt the practice is sometimes abused by members of the Opposition corner. Standing order No. 68 reads -
The House shall proceed each day with its ordinary business in the following routine : - 1. Presentation of Petitions. 2.’ Giving notices. 3. Questions on notice. 4. Motions and Orders of the Day, or vice versâ, as set down on the Notice-paper.
If you, sir, are going to strictly limit us tothe actual wording of the Standing Orders, questions without notice will be prohibited. Consequently, I ask you, sir, to go beyond the actual wording and to preserve the practice - to interpret our rules in the light of the practice of the House . of Commons, and having in mind, also,the fact that our Standing Orders are merely provisional Standing Orders.
– Officially, the Standing Orders cannot be regarded as temporary, having’ been adopted seven . years ago in the way- that standing orders intended to remain permanently in force would be adopted. They are the Standing Orders for the time being, and are effective in every sense of the word. In view of the wording of No. 92, I do not think it can be said that they are silent on this question. That standing order does not read exactly as the honorable, member quoted it. He omitted the last few words, which are important in their bearing on the particular point which has been raised. The standing order says -
After notices have been given, Questions may be put to Ministers of the Crown relating topublic affairs; and to other members relating to any Bill, motion, or other public matter connected with the business on the Notice-paper, of which such members may have charge.
– I read everv word of that.
– The honorable member did not read the words following the word “ Notice-paper.”
– I think I did so. The omission, if made, was accidental.
– The omission of the words could not affect the honorable member’s argument.
– That is so.
– I do not doubt that the honorable member intended to read the words ; but I would -point out that the Standing Orders require, among other things, that when the Speaker is addressing the House, honorable members must be silent. Had I had the latter part of standing order 92 before me yesterday afternoon, I should not have permitted the honorable member for Werriwa to put his question without notice to the honorable member for Fawkner ; but, having permitted that tobe done, I did not exclude the question on notice from to-day’s businesspaper, nor shall I refuse to allow it to be put. After it has been put and answered - should the honorable member for Fawkner wish to answer it - the rule to which my attention has been called will be given effect to.
-As a personal explanation, I wish to say that I intended to read, and believe I read, the whole of the standing order, and if I omitted any words, I regret that I did so. The words which you, Mr. Speaker, say I omitted did not in the slightest degree affect “my argument.
– Hear, hear.
– My. reply to the honorable member for Werriwa is that the report is substantially correct, but, being necessarily brief, is perhaps misleading. If the honorable member had heard the whole speech, he would have known that I had no desire to impugn the private honour of members of the Labour Party. What I wished to express was that Labour members were often compelled by the caucus to vote against their judgment.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The replies to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Whether he will confer with the representatives of all the States, with a view to the adoption of some system whereby the weight of wheat in cornsacks shall be limited to a reasonable amount, without at the same time causing loss and inconvenience to producers and others who require larger bags for lighter commodities?
– I do not think such a course is necessary under present circumstances.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
In Committee (Consideration of Senate’s requests resumed from 6th May, vide page 10918) :
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.”
Upon which Sir William Lyne had moved -
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. , (p)’Free, up to and including 6th May, 1908.
And on and after 7th May,1908 - (ppi) 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.”
.- Last night, I asked the Minister to agree to a reduction of the flash point of kerosene to 100 degrees, or to 97 degrees Fahrenheit, and, having made further inquiries into the matter since, I am now of the opinion that, for the safety of the community, it would be better to fix’ the standard at 97 degrees. Will the Minister agree to that?
– Before doing so, I wish to say two or three words.
– As to the denaturing of oil of a lower standard, I have the opinion of one. of the best analytical chemists that Victoria has every known - a gentleman who has served the State well, and who, in anything he’ does “for the Commonwealth, will give the same good service - that it can be done by using a very dark residual oil, or what may be termed a dark engine oil. As honorable members are aware, the methylation of spirit takes place without affecting its burning or other qualities. The only result of’ the methylation is to make the spirit offensive to the taste, . so that it cannot go into consumption as an alcoholic drink.
– What will ‘ be the cost of denaturating kerosene?
– It will be as nearly as possible equal to the cost of denaturating spirits. I think that we may very well accept Mr. Wilkinson’s opinion in respect of this matter. The Standard Oil Trust in. America has controlled Parliaments and Courts ; it has set down Mr. Lawson “after a terrible fight, and has even been able to worst the present President of the United States. That being so, I do not think that we shall be able to fight against it.
– We shall have a big try.
– We have an opportunity now to show that we are not to be overridden by it, and every protectionist, whether he be a prohibitionist or a moderate protectionist, should do his utmost to assist the industry in New South Wales. I may say, in passing,- that just as I do not know what a moderate thief is, so I cannot understand a moderate protectionist. An attempt is now being made to insert the thin end of the wedge. I detest combines, and have nothing but loathing for trusts ; but if we are to choose between the two, let us guard ourselves against the most powerful combine in the world. Every protectionist should do his utmost to help the industry in the great State of New South Wales. If any one says that by doing so we are assisting to build up a trust in Australia, we shall be able to reply that we may at any time acquire the local works at a fair valuation, and that, having nationalized them, we shall be able to present a four-square front to the efforts of the American combine. The Standard Oil Company disguises itself here under the name of the Colonial Oil Company. . 1 am informed that it couldnot be registered in New York, and that it had to be registered in New Jersey, which has been described by one of the greatest of Americans as the place where all frauds -and swindles can be registered. Mo’riey will be spent freely, and it behoves every honorable member to recognise that for the first time we are confronted with the operations of one of the most powerful combines that has ever existed. It may be said on behalf of the Standard Oil Company that its oil to-day is better than it has ever been. I shall not deny such a statement, nor have I the information at my disposal to enable me to deny the assertion that those employed by it receive . a higher average wage than is paid by like corporations. Then again, it may be urged that it is far better that the industry should be controlled by one governing body, so that a good article may be sold cheaply to the consumer. We know, however, that it . has swept 4,000 oil and other companies out of existence, not by fair means of competition, but frequently by underground engineering of the kind that we have experienced in connexion with the operations of the American har vester trust. We all know that some time ago the present Treasurer, when Minister of Trade and Customs, had to take action to prevent the Australian market being flooded with oil by the Standard Oil Company. Honorable members may imagine that 1 am bitter in my opposition to that company. As a matter of fact, I am not. I recognise that it has at its head the most powerful brains that were ever devoted to the work of acquiring power and accumulating capital. But behind this Parliament, elected on the freest franchise of which the world knows, we have every man and woman in Australia, and although the Standard Oil Company may swamp or control this Legislature, it cannot control the people at its back.
– I wish to refer briefly to some statements made yesterday in reference to this question. I stated last night that I intercepted some shipments of kerosene by the Standard Oil Company, and required the oil to be stamped in a certain, way. That action was taken mainly as the result of the introduction of certain oil in South Australia in tins that were marked “ Test.” A professional man, whose name for the moment I forget, was deputed to examine this oil, and he proceeded to treat it on the assumption that it was of a certain flash point, with the result that he narrowly escaped a serious explosion. Thereafter the oil was carefully scrutinized . The shipments of oil, which it was attempted to land here with the object, as far as I could judge, of retarding the progress of the Commonwealth Oil Company, which had just commenced operations, was marked “ 1500 test.”
– That was the fire test.
– No; I made them stamp the fire test on the consignments. The 150 degrees open test is equal to 105 degrees close test, and I caused the company to brand these consignments with the words “ equal to 105 degrees close test.” The company fought the Department for nearly six months, and during all that time was crowding, oil into Australia. I ultimately decided that the kerosene shipped before my decision was announced to the company should be landed, but that thereafter all shipments should comply with that decision. The company complained that it would have to return a lot of this oil to America,, but instead of doing so it made the alteration that I required.
– If the oil was bad, why did the honorable member allow it to go into consumption?
– I did not, of my own knowledge, know that it was bad, but I determined that the cases or tins should be marked in the way I have indicated.
– Did the Minister say last night that the oil which he intercepted was dangerous ?
– It may or may not have been dangerous. There was nothing on the cases to indicate what it was. The honorable member for Boothby said last night that 73 degrees flash point was the standard test nearly all over ‘the world. I have taken the trouble to ascertain the tests which are fixed in various countries, and a recital of them should be interesting. In New South Wales the test is 83 degrees Fahrenheit close test ; Queensland, 83 degrees close test; Victoria, 73 degrees close test; Western Australia, 83 degrees; New Zealand, 83 degrees; Antigua (South Amenca), 83 degrees; Austria, 73 degrees; Barbadoes, 83 degrees; Ceylon, 76 degrees; Germany, 69.8 degrees; Great Britain, 73 degrees; Malta, 76 degrees; Montserrat, 83 degrees; Trinidad, 95 degrees; St. Lucia, 95 degrees.
– Is that the open test?
– No. In each case it is the close test. la Nevis and St. Kitts, the test is 83 degrees; and in Jamaica, 95 degrees. Coming to the United States of America, we find that in Arkansas the test is 83 degrees; Illinois, 103 degrees ; Kentucky, 83. degrees; Louisiana, 98 degrees; Baltimore, 93 degrees; Oklahama Territory, 93 degrees; Rhode Island, 83 degrees; and Delaware, 103 degrees.
– Are all these tests on the same basis?
– I asked for a return showing tests on the same basis. This return was prepared, not by me, but bv the Department. When the honorable member for Boothby was speaking last night, I interjected that I thought that in many places the standard was higher than he mentioned. At that time I did not know in how many ; but I knew the test was 83 degrees in Queensland, and I thought it due to myself and to the Committee to bring forward all the information I could on the subject.
.- This discussion has gone beyond the range of an ordinary Tariff question, and has dealt with the various tests of oils, and with the posi- tion and methods of the oil companies, i have no desire to be placed in the position of giving any advantage to one oil company over another, though I suppose that whichever way we vote, so the advantage will go. It is well to remember the position of the three companies - or of two companies particularly - which are- competing to-day. The honorable member for Melbourne referred to the millionaire connexions of the oil companies, and I may say that the Colonial Oil Company, which is the Standard Oil Company under another name, and the British Imperial Company, which is a French-English company, both have associated with them millionaires - in the one case a Rockefeller, and in the other case a Rothschild. But their consumers do not care whether their pennies go to enrich a Rockefeller or a Rothschild. Then we have the Commonwealth Oil Corporation ; and it is remarkable how these astute business people select telling names with a view to effective advertisement. This company is almost as much a millionaire company as are the other two I have mentioned ; but, unlike the latter, it does not produce domestic kerosene, so that there is no competition in this connexion. I should very much like to know whether the Treasurer’s proposal is purely in the interests of public safety, or purely in the interests of protection. Honorable members have been fairly deluged with literature in regard to the various companies interested ; and I have taken the trouble to read the documents supplied, though I do not propose to weary the Committee with extracts. The Colonial Oil Company imports two high-test oils for domestic illuminating purposes at 1.00 degrees and 103 degrees, and two engine oils, flashing at 86 degrees and 87 degrees. The amendment, as originally sent from the Senate, gave an advantage to the British Imperial Company, whereas the amendment before us would give an advantage to the Standard Oil Company. Had I voted for the amendment yesterday, I should have given assistance to the British Imperial Company, and if I vote to-day for the amendment unaltered, I shall be acting distinctly in the interests of the Standard Oil Company. In connexion with the Standard Oil Company, it is alleged, with a good deal of force, that its representative came to this country specifically; to fight the Tariff and anti-trust legislation ; so that it will be seen my remarks have some force. As I said before, I desire to give no advantage to one company more than to another ; my concern is only for those who use the oil for illuminating or industrial purposes. The honorable member for Melbourne spoke about certain persons being “captured “ by an oil company ; and 1 desire to know whether the Commonwealth Parliament has been captured. It has been stated that when the Tariff was last before us, members of this House were captured by a certain company ; and it is well that we should go beyond the question immediately before us, in order to satisfy the public that, at any rate, there is no “ capturing ‘ ‘ in the present instance. So far, the allegations to which I have referred have not been denied, but there is a body appointed to test their truth. At any rate, it was stated that, on the last occasion, a company did capture certain votes in this House; and that is, perhaps, the. only serious attack ever made on this Parliament.
– How did the company capture votes?
– It is not for me to say. That was the statement made ; ‘ and I am only now urging upon honorable members to show all these oil companies that it is not in their interests, but in the interests of the general public, that we are voting. The British Imperial Company import one illuminating oil for domestic purposes at 103. degrees and one engine oil flashing at 98 degrees. Under the proposal of yesterday, the illuminating oil of both companies would have been admitted without denaturating ; and, in this connexion, there would have been no monopoly to one ‘or the other. That proposal, however, would have admitted the British Imperial engine-oil without being denaturated, while the Standard Company’s oil would have had to be treated. But to-day the proposal before us will cause the British Imperial oil to be denaturated, while the other oil would be admitted without treatment. The Standard Oil Company first fought the British Imperial Oil Company with a conditional rebate, which this Parliament declared to be illegal, and then the former company imported a cheaper and inferior kerosene, ostensibly for engine use ; but only the cases, and not the tins, were marked. The honorable member for North Sydney pointed out that, under the proposal, we should have power to deal with imported oils, but. not with locally-produced oils,- because the latter, with all the attendant dangers, could be sold retail without any treatment. The suggestion I would make in regard to the local oil is the imposition of an Excise duty, because I think oil is dangerous under a certain flash point- We find, however, that in the States where most illuminating oil is used, ‘ the standard is the highest; and no doubt the officers of the Department took care that the tests were made under equal conditions. The honorable member for North Sydney and the honorable member for Maranoa urged that the denaturating process would prove expensive. I do not see how that could be, because in the country of origin it would not be necessary to denaturate every tin, but simply to denaturate a tank which would be set aside for the Australian trade.
– The whole of the tinning is not done in Australia.
– But on the arrival of the tinned oils, the Customs officials would act in the same way as they do in’ regard to cotton-seed oil and other commodities, and make a . promiscuous test of a shipment. The honorable members I have just mentioned also asked whether companies would manufacture oils specially for Australia, and my reply is that the tendency throughout the world’s trade to-day is to consider the habits, customs, and tastes of the countries to be supplied. It is neglect of this study that militates against British trade, and it is attention. to it which has raised American trade to its present condition.
– Will the honorable member tell us what the process of denaturating is ?
Mr.WILKS. - I do not pretend to know ; but the Customs officials have confidence in Mr. Wilkinson, who is a chemist of world-wide reputation, and in these matters we must rely on the scientist. If I could answer scientific questions of- the kind, I fancy I should be- occupying a much more lucrative- position than that of a member of Parliament. The Standard Oil Trust operated first by the offer of a rebate, ultimately rendered, illegal by Parliament, and subsequently they introduced inferior kerosene oil ostensibly for use as a motive power for engines, but really that it might be palmed off upon unsuspecting consumers. The company marked, the cases containing this oil “ for engine use,” but they did not mark the tins. The retailer was thus able to sell this inferior kerosene for illuminating purposes.
– Would the honorable member be satisfied if the tins, ‘ as well as the cases, were stamped?
– I think that we had better not permit either the Standard Oil Trust or the British Imperial Oil Company to obtain .a monopoly. If we fix the flash point test at 102 degrees we shall grant a monopoly to the Standard Oil Trust. Both the organizations to which I have referred are of mammoth dimensions, and personally I am not at all concerned whether I do an act of kindness for Rockefeller or for Rothschild. But I am concerned in safeguarding the interests of the Australian consumers. I desire to enable them to obtain kerosene oil of good quality at as low a price as possible. During the course of this debate we have been asked to show that any real danger is to be apprehended from the use of oil having a low flash point. My reply is that if only one person lost his life in ten! years as the result of using low test oils it would be our bounden duty to interfere.
– Are there not as many lives lost as the result of using kerosene possessing a high flash point as are sacrificed by reason, of using oil possessing n low flash point?
– I cannot say.
– It is so.-
– Why do all countries impose some test?
– It is a dividing line between low test oils and oils that are used for illuminating purposes.
– There is always a danger where there is a light.
– In India and Burmah, we are informed, the . flash point test is fixed at 73 degrees.. But I would point out that the conditions in Australia are entirely different from those which obtain in the countries I have mentioned. We all know that in our cities kerosene is not used to any material extent as. an illuminant But it is used very largely in outlying districts. If we fix the flash point at 97 decrees, I think’ that we shall be acting reasonably. The Commonwealth Oil Corporation’, does not produce kerosene oil for illuminating, purposes in any considerable quantity. The .proposal submitted by the Treasurer yesterday would have conferred a benefit on the Commonwealth Oil Corporation, while that which he has presented to-day would benefit the Standard Oil Trust. I see no difficulty whatever in the way of denaturating this oil.
– I have just been informed that it is idle to continue the discussion, because the Standard Oil Company has the numbers in its bag.
– I rise to a point of order. Honorable members are slandered enough outside of this House, and they do noi want to be slandered inside it. The Treasurer has just stated that he has been informed that the Standard Oil Trust has> a majority of honorable members in its bag, and that it is idle to continue the debate. In making that statement he is giving currency to the infamous slander which ‘ has been .published about honorable members of this Parliament, that they are men who can be bought with money to give corrupt votes in connexion with this Tariff. We cannot deal with these anonymous slanders very easily, but when the- Treasurer of the Commonwealth makes the statement which he has made, I ask whether such a reflection ‘ on honorable members should be made by a Minister of the Crown ? It is the most abominable and the greatest slander which has ever been uttered against a Parliament by a Minister of the Crown.
– I say,’ deliberately, that that message was brought to me.
– By whom?
– It is a scandal to see the representative of the Standard Oil Trust buttonholing honorable members as he has done in the precincts of the parliamentary building. i did not cast any imputation upon honorable members. I say again that the representative of that trust has approached nearly every honorable member and has endeavoured to get . them - probably he has been successful in, the case of a large number - to promise to support it. So much has been said about this matter outside that I actually turned the representative of that trust out of my office. It is a scandal that a man should be sent here from America to force this item through in opposition to the interests of the people of this country. I cast no imputation upon honorable members, but we have had quite enough of visits from agents from America, and we do not want any more of them.
– How could an’ agent influence honorable members?
– By persuading them.
– Not by bribing them ?
– I never suggested that. The statement I made was not that honorable members had been bribed. I do not believe that any honorable member of this House has been bribed. But the agent of the Standard Oil Trust has been canvassing to an extent which I say should not be allowed within the precincts, of this building.
-Ivery much deprecate the statement made by the Treasurer, which certainly does not seem to me to be in keeping with the dignity of a Minister of the Crown. Whilst I have no power to order him to withdraw it on the ground that it is unparliamentary, I can express, my personal opinion upon it.
– The imputation that a certain trust has honorable members of this House in its bag is a very serious one.
– I quite realize the serious imputation which the Treasurer has made. He stated that he had just heard that the Standard Oil Trust had honorablemembers in its bag. That was not the right thing for the Treasurer to say, and, although I have no power to deal with such remarks, I think that it would be better, in the interests of this House, if such statements were not made.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. . As I initiated the opposition to -the proposal of the Government in regard to this item, I may as well say that, until after I had made my speech, I had had no communication of any kind whatever with’ any representative of the Standard Oil Trust ; nor have I been buttonholed by any agent of that trust. But during last week I was persistently buttonholed by the representatives of the rival companies - the British Imperial Company and the Commonwealth Oil Corporation.
– I also desire to make a personal explanation. The Treasurer has stated thatbe has been informed that a certain foreign trust has a majority of honorable members in its bag. He has further declared that some person representing that trust has been interviewing honorable members. In reference to both those statements, I wish to say that if there be any such person in Australia he has never approached’ me.
– Nor any of us.
.- In reference to the Treasurer’s statement, I may add that I have not been interviewed by a representative of any of these rival companies. Throughout the consideration of this Tariff - and of the previous Tariff -I have consistently refused to be buttonholed by the representative of any company. The leader of the Opposition has entered his protest against the statement of the Treasurer, but I do not think that the matter should be allowed to stop there. This is the time when the honour of this Parliament should be absolutely vindicated. I do not doubt that the Treasurer believes his statement.
– Who was the messenger who brought him that intelligence?
– The Treasurer stated by interjection that the Standard Oil Trusthas honorable members in its bag.
– I said it had a list of honorable members who will carry this item in the way that it wants it carried. I did not intend to convey that any bribery had taken place.
– Surely the Treasurer does not mean that honorable members are influenced by a company in their- public deliberations ?
– That was nothing but a brutal and reprehensible statement for the Minister to make.
– We have been slandered enough outside without being slandered by the Treasurer. ‘
– I have not slandered any one.
– The Treasurer has just uttered a most disgraceful slander.
– The honorable member slanders everv one.
– The Treasurer is the only man in the Chamber amenable to slander if any one is.
– I ask honorable members to cease from interjecting.
– A remark like that of the honorable member for Lang ought not to be allowed.
– Even the refining of his statement by the Treasurer does not make things better.
– The Treasurer should withdraw his statement unconditionally, or move the Chairman out of the chair.
– We have no right to proceed further if we are in the hands of the Standard Oil Company.
– I hinted that the protest made by the leader of the Opposition did not suffice, whereupon the Treasurer refined his statement. The only thing that will appease me will be the postponement of the item until inquiries have been made into the matter, and I therefore move -
That the further consideration of the requested amendment on item 234, paragraphs o and v, be postponed.
If the Treasurer thinks that the Standard Oil Trust has honorable members in its bag-
– I did not say that.
– That is what the Treasurer said.
– I did not intend the remark to have the application which has been given to it.
– The Treasurer should apologize.
– I shall not apologize. What I intended to say was that the company had a list showing that it had the numbers to carry its proposal.
– The company does not know how I am going to vote.
– I have already shown that the Standard Oil Trust has a better chance of doing well for itself by the Treasurer’s proposal than it had yesterday, when . it was really the Imperial Oil Company which was getting a monopoly.
– I am going to accept the suggestion.
– It was the Minister’s proposal which was giving the Trust a monopoly.
– I intend to accept the suggestion made by the honorable member for Kooyong.
– Quite right.
– I do not wish to name any honorable’ member ; but I must do so if the interruptions continue.
– I am sorry to have to take an extreme step, but, as I hinted in my opening remarks, the postponement of the consideration of the item is absolutely necessary. The Bulletin, a newspaper with a large circulation, alleged, when last the item was being discussed, that there was jobbery and corruption’ here in connexion with it. To-day, the Treasurer says that the Standard Oil Company has the numbers in its bag.
– “ Members in its bag.”
– I did not intend the remark to have the meaning which has been given to it.
– Those were the words used.
– It was a most improper thing to say.
– Any honorable member who allows such a statement to pass without comment gives colour to the allegations of the Bulletin, and admits that the Standard Oil Company is practising here what it is said to have practised in the United States of America.
– That is what, was intended to be inferred.
– It has been openly stated that the representative of the Standard Oil Company came to this country to fight the Tariff and anti-trust legislation.
– Hear, hear.
– He-is entitled to do so if- he acts honestly.
– If we allow to pass unchallenged the Treasurer’s statement that this gentleman “ has us in the bag,” we admit that he has succeeded in what he came here for. I do not admit that he has me in the bag, though I acknowledge his smartness and ‘cuteness. He has not succeeded so far as I am concerned. The step which I have taken is an extreme one, but it is necessary for the protection of the honour of honorable members.
– The honorable member is arguing on a wrong basis.
– The Treasurer cannot proceed until the motion has been put by the Chairman.
– I understand that the Treasurer wishes to make a personal explanation.
– Yes. The honorable member for Dalley urges against me that I made a statement conveying a certain imputation on honorable members. I wish to say that I had no intention to convey any such imputation.
– Then why not withdraw what was said?
– I . withdraw what was said, if it is -taken to mean that honorable members have been bribed. I am as jealous of the honour of the House and of honorable members as is any one here. No one is -more jealous than I am in this regard. But I have been very much annoyed by the representatives of the Standard Oil Trust in connexion with this item. They have come to me, until I told Mr. Campbell that I did not want him in my office at all.
– Other persons have, been close to the honorable member.
– But not in my office. .
– Then they have spoken to the honorable member elsewhere, which is worse. One colonial manufacturer was able to procure papers from a public office.
– I am as anxious to protect the honour of honorable members as any one can be; but I cannot refrain from saying that the canvassing which has taken place has- been undue.
– Canvassing has been going on for months past in connexion with every item in the Tariff.
– I believe so. I made a similar statement in reference to a certain gentleman who was always here in regard to the piano duties.
– Does the Treasurer refer to Mr. Beale?.
Mr.Johnson. - He was always here.
– I do not know whether he was or was not here.
– He was able to get from a public Department papers relating to his opponents.
– I am referring to another person who was here. I have spoken to one or two officials as to whether it is right that persons should come into those portions of the building which ought to be reserved for members, and should be allowed to canvass in the way that canvassing has been done.
– Why has it been allowed? What has Mr. Speaker been doing to allow it?
– The Treasurer has always had the galleries full of manufacturers.
– If I had the power, I should prevent canvassing within the precincts of the Chamber.
– The Treasurer encourages it.
– Why does not Mr. Speaker have canvassers kept out?
– If honorable members regard my remarks as a reflection on the character of any one of them, I unreservedly withdraw them; because it was not intended that they should reflect on the honesty of the Committee. I do not wish honorable members to think that I would make ‘an imputation of that kind unless I was sure of my facts.
– It is not so much what the Committee thinks as what the public thinks about the statement.
– I am making these remarks in order that they may go forth to the public. I did not believe the statement made by the newspaper to which the honorable member has referred. I have said so over and over again. We may be justly proud that no imputation can rightly be made on the character of any member.
– Unfortunately, imputations have been made. It is the statements published outside which make the Treasurer’s remarks so serious. What he said’ will be published all over the world.
– All I intended was to point out that the canvassing Had been carried on to such an extent that a list or lists had been made out showing that we could not win.
– There is nothing wrong in that.
– Any one can make out a list.
– I do not think that it is right.
– What is there wrong in it?
– Honorable members should be allowed to exercise their own judgments.
– Do not they do so?
– Perhaps they do.
-“ Perhaps “ 1
– If canvassing were very keen in regard to a subject upon which I did not feel strongly one way or another, I might be influenced a little against my opinion, and so might any honorable member. That is undoubtedly the fact.
– That is the strongest thing we have heard the Treasurer say.
– Nothing was further from my thoughts than to cast an imputation upon the character of any honorable member.
– Why has the Treasurer smiled on several occasions when lists have been shown to him proving that he would carry certain duties?
– Shown to me by one of my colleagues?
– It is natural for me to smile.
– The Minister is not smiling now.
– On those occasions the Minister “ had them in the bag.”
– The phrase slipped out accidentally ; I did not intend it to have the application which has been given to it.
– That was the expression which gave offence.
– Then I withdraw it. I have said enough to show that no offence was intended. I did not wish to hurt the feelings of any honorable member, and although in debate I am at times pretty hot, I never wish to hurt any one’s feelings. Perhaps this discussion will do some good. It may cause the extraordinary canvassing which has been going on to cease. The gentleman to whom I have referred is a good deal to blame for the remark which he made, which has caused a great deal of feeling amongst honorable members, namely, that he had come here to put this matter through Parliament.
– Will the Treasurer stop the canvassing in regard to the timber duties ?
– I cannot stop it.
– The Minister will not be found complaining about it.
– I did not know that there had been much canvassing about’ the timber duties.
– The Queen’s Hall has been filled with canvassers.
– There has been more canvassing on the part of. the Commonwealth Oil Corporation than on the part of other companies.
– My nose has been kept close to the grindstone, so that I have not seen what has been going on in the Queen’s Hall. There has been no canvassing so far as I am concerned, though I have heard statements. Perhaps there has been a good deal of canvassing.
– The Treasurer refines his remarks beautifully. He says now, in effect, that we are not rogues but fools.
– I have wished that many honorable members were not so keen in regard to certain matters as I have found them to be. I have not been ableto persuade them to . change their position, nor have I been able to get anything through, until there has been a large amount of criticism.
– The Treasurer has nearly dragged honorable members from one side of the chamber to the other in his eagerness to secure their votes.
– I am sorry for my unintentional remark. The words which I used were misunderstood.
– Does not the Treasurer admit that the manufacturers who have asked for protection, as well as the importers, have interviewed honorable members ? Let him be fair to both sides.
– I am not picking out one “side or the other. Canvassing has gone on to’ a terrible extent.
– On both sides.
– I believe so.
– Canvassers do not come to me.
– If ever I am in charge of another Tariff, I shall try to have the surroundings of the chamber kept free from canvassers. I have had to bear the result of a great ‘ deal of the canvassing which has taken place. I have had to fight against it, and on many occasions have felt its effects very keenly. Therefore, perhaps it has been more obvious to me than it has been to other honorable members.
– Does not the Treasurer think that the Minister’s room should be kept free from manufacturers and their agents ?
– Has not the Commonwealth Oil Corporation circularized honorable members ?
– I have heard so, and that certain letters have been dictated; but I put that on one side, because I do not know it of my own knowledge.
– I have received, from hundreds of manufacturers, letters conveying information relative to the Tariff. I do not complain of that, though I discount largely information from interested sources.
– That is not what I have been referring to. I hope that honorable members will accept my fervent assurance that, by the unfortunate expression which I used, I did not mean to convey any imputation against the honour of the Committee.
Question - That the consideration of the item be postponed - proposed.
.- The time has arrived when the honour of this Chamber must be definitely vindicated, and I support the motion for the postponement of the item. Statements have appeared in the press - even this morning a Mel- bourne journal prints such a statement in one of its articles - reflecting upon honorable members.
– I have had nothing to do with that.
– No. I accept the Treasurer’s withdrawal of his personal statements. But we should know what steps are to be taken to have this charge investigated. Since the inception of the Federal Parliament I have had close intercourse with honorable members of all shades of political opinion, and, with an intimate knowledge of the men who constitute it, I declare that, in my judgment, this is a pure House. It cannot be justly said that it has -been either directly or indirectly corruptly influenced, and it is arn outrage that such a charge should be made against it. I am strongly in favour of the proposal that the further consideration of this request be postponed in order that an inquiry may be made as to whether or not an attempt has been made, either directly or indirectly, to influence the vote of any honorable member. I know the representatives of the Standard Oil’ Company here as well as the representatives of the other companies, and my desire has always been to ascertain .what is best in the interests, not of any individual, but of the consuming public of Australia. Notwithstanding that the Treasurer, has withdrawn his remark - a withdrawal which I personally accept - I think it would be outrageous to proceed with the consideration of this request until a full investigation has been, made into these allegations. We should determine whether there exists in this House of seventy-five members one” black sheep, but I declare that in my humble judgment there is not one.
– I do riot believe that there is.
– The insinuations that have been made in the press, and the charges that- have been formulated in discussions in this House, reflect upon this branch of the Legislature so strongly that we should demand the fullest and closest investigation into them.
– We have a Privilege Procedure Committee, which can inquire into the matter.
– Yes ; it was at my suggestion: that the Prime Minister agreed that that Committee should have the power to inquire into allegations of the kind now before us that were made against this House in a . section of the press, and we should refuse to deal with this item until that Committee has inquired and reported. I appeal to my honorable friends, whose character, I am convinced, cannot be besmirched in the way suggested by a section of the press, to support the amendment for the postponement of the item, so that this charge may be cleared up at once ‘ and for ever.
.- The Treasurer has expressed his regret for having circulated a statement-
– For having unintentionally used certain words..
– I was about to say that the Minister has expressed his regret for having .circulated in this House a statement conveyed to him which, as it stood, was calculated to cast a. very serious imputation upon an indefinite number of honorable members. That statement was that the Standard Oil Company had a majority “ in its bag “ - in other words, that it had a majority of honorable members of this House in its bag.
– I did not refer to the matter in that way.
– I wish to do the honorable member justice. I point out that, in the impulse of the moment, without realizing the significance of his words, he made a statement in a tone so audible that I had immediately to take notice of it. The Minister, having been guilty of the indiscretion of publishing the statement without recognising how much it might really be taken to mean, has expressed his regret for it.
– But that is only a personal matter.
– That is so. The Treasurer may now be acquitted of anything more than having on the impulse of_ the moment circulated a statement which” has a very bad appearance. I wish now to leave him out of the question. We have to consider the position not only of the Minister who has been guilty of an indiscretion’ for which he has very straightforwardly expressed his regret, but of honorable members generally. When the Minister said “ I have just been informed,” his words suggested that he had just received a message ‘ to the effect that, the Standard Oil Company had a majority of honorable members in its bag. The person who brought that message is the person who made the imputation upon the House.
– Who is he?
– We do not know. The statement made inadvertently at the table by the Treasurer will be published all over the world.
– I wish to go further than I did, and say that the person to whom I referred did not use the word “bag.”
– That makes the position even more serious. We must lemember that this sort of thing has been hinted at for months outside the House. I have been told that the Age this morning published a leading article, in which it referred, in connexion with the Standard Oil Company, to rumours affecting members which had been “crystallized.” I have not seen the article, but I think that that is the expression used. When a leading paper in Australia like the Age gives currency to such a statement, and we have that statement made in the ..House itself, feelings of self-respect should induce us to postpone the item. We ought to say that we are prepared to have the fullest investigation; and that until such an investigation has been made into this imputation, we refuse to deal with the item.
.- I agree with what has been said. The way in which men have been permitted to enter this House, to waylay honorable members, to talk to and inflict themselves upon them, is little short of disgraceful. I have never had an opportunity of seeing the representatives of the Standard Oil Company, but I have seen a representative of the Commonwealth Oil Company. The only transaction that I have had in respect of the British Imperial Oil Company is this : that whilst I was away from my home one of its representatives left there a lamp filled with oil, with a request that we should burn it. When I returned I told the man, who called later on, to take the lamp away, and that I regretted that he should have left it. It is very serious to speak, in the terms that have been used, about members of this House in connexion with a great corporation like the Standard Oil Company. The power of that company is so tremendous - its ramifications are so extensive - that any imputation against any man, nomatter how absurd, . will find credence with many people. Some honorable members will vote in one way and some in another, and in view of this imputation, a very large number of people will think that some of us have been bought. Any journal that makes such a statement- I say nothing to exempt any man who makes it - should be asked before a responsible Committee of this House to substantiate it, or to withdraw it and apologize. That should be done immediately. I have been in politics for some fourteen or fifteen years, and do not believe that either in this Parliament, or in any of the State Assemblies, there has been any bribery or corruption.
– On Tariff matters.
– What about the land swindles nf New South Wales ?
– I know nothing of them. It was after my time, in the State Parliament. What I do say is that, so far as I know, the Parliaments of Australia have been uniformly pure, and that if there is a black sheep in this House, it is about time that we were made aware of that fact. We, who claim not to be black sheep, ought no longer to sit under such an infamous imputation.
– I support the motion for the postponement of the item, because its adoption will give an opportunity for this charge to be cleared up, as it ought to be. I have not been approached by a representative of any oil company, and have not received any communication from these companies, other than the circulars which have been sent to every honorable member.
– As the honorable member is a free-trader, it was a certainty that he would vote for kerosene being free. No doubt that is why he has not been interviewed by any representatives of the oil companies.
– It is against freetraders that this charge is very largely levelled. Not only have I not seen any representatives of oil companies, but I should not even know them if I saw them. I have stedfastly refused to grant interviews with respect to Tariff matters, and have asked that any communication desired to be made to me on Tariff subjects should be addressed to me through the post. It is amusing to hear the Treasurer, of all men, inveighing against the practice Of lobbying, since he has admitted time after time on the floor of the House that he has been in conference with manufacturers and their agents in regard to the effect of the Tariff upon’ their manufactures. . It comes ill from the Minister to resent lobbying, when he is acknowledged to be one of the worst offenders in the encouragement of lobbying on occasions when one particular side of the Tariff is concerned. It is only when the other side of the question is brought to the front that, in his opinion, lobbying becomes an evil. We have seen the galleries absolutely crammed by manufacturers and their agents, and we have seen the Treasurer in conference with some of them. Never a word of protest from the Minister was heard on those occasions, but, because a lady happened to be here the other day - I do not know who she was, but the Treasurer evidently did - he thought it was a great crime, seeing that her desire was to have a reduction of duty. There was no scandal or crime, however, when the galleries were filled with men, who were imploring the Treasurer to give them an opportunity to dip their hands in the public purse in order that they might enrich themselves.
– Order ! I ask the honorable member not to indulge in that language.
– It is, at any rate, a truthful statement. I was merely drawing attention to contrasts in the Treasurer’s actions. An opportunity is now presented for inquiry - for substantiating, if possible, the insinuations which have been thrown broadcast both within and without the Chamber. If we allow the opportunity to pass we shall deserve to remain under a stigma. The first . explanation of the Treasurer was an aggravation of the offence, but, in the second explanation, he climbed down. But he had done the mischief, and thus served his object, which was to feed the flameof unmerited slander outside the House. Honorable members ought to support the motion of the honorable member for Dalley, in order that this matter may be sifted to the bottom. If there is any one in the House who has been guilty of receiving bribes, or who has been amenable to undue influence in the casting of his vote, there is now an opportunity for thorough ‘inquiry.
– The Government ought to support the motion.
– Undoubtedly. Honorable members who hold fiscal views different from those entertained by those on the immediate Opposition benches, have had cast at them insinuations, which, in my opinion, are intended to coerce them into voting against their conscience, iri the fear that in the public estimation they may, through these gross insinuations, be regarded as having been bought by a wealthy company.
– Does the honorable member think that if the Standard Oil Company bribed an honorable member there would be any record of the bribe?
– A gross imputation has been cast upon honorable members, and there ought to be a thorough investigation. I trust that the Treasurer will assist as far as he can in enabling evidence ‘ to be furnished so that the honour of the House may’ be cleared.
– If I am in order, I should prefer to myself submit the motion for postponement.
– The motion has already been submitted by the honorable member for Dalley.
– I can only say that, in consequence of the discussion, I had made up my mind to submit a motion of the kind myself, though I desire it to be distinctly understood that that decision was not arrived at because I have any belief that there has been any bribery. On the contrary, I do not believe that there has been bribery of any kind.
– Let the Treasurer bring forward the man who made the statement to him.
– I am not going to say anything more on that score, at the present time.
– What did he say?
– I told honorable members just now that he said he had got a list, and it was not much use going on. .
– That is different from what the Treasurer told us. The Treasurer told us that this man said the company had the majority “ in its bag.”
– The right honorable member keeps harping on those words, and he is very unfair in doing so. I withdrew the words at Once, when I saw their effect; but the right honorable member wants to make, a great stir, and blow his own trumpet, without any regard to the defence of the honour of honorable members. The right honorable member is only trying to make a great noise throughout the country.
– No, no.
– I do not know what kind of board or committee will be required ; but I believe that a body has been appointed already to inquire into matters of this kind.
– I must ask the Treasurer not to discuss the constitution of any board Of inquiry, because the question before us now is that this item be postponed.
– But the questions are so closely associated.
– There is no objection lo his remarks, so long as the honorable member does not enter into a discussion of the constitution of any proposed board.
– When the item is postponed I -hope that any investigation decided upon will take place at once, because it is most undesirable to have the item indefinitely postponed.
– Who will make the investigation ?
– I do not know : I was about to refer to that matter when 1 was stopped by the Chairman.
– It is a matter which will have to be considered by the Government.
– It is quite probable that the proposed inquiry will do a little good, though I feel quite confident that no honorable member will be found guilty of any action unbecoming to his position. As I said before, it must be distinctly understood that, while I agree with this motion, I do not think that there has been the slightest bribery of any kind.
.- We ought to know what is the next step the Government propose to take when this item has been postponed.
– I shall consult with the Prime Minister as to the course to be pursued.
– I think the Prime Minister ought fo be here when we are discussing a question reflecting on the honour of the House.
– The Prime “Minister would not know anything about the matter, seeing that he did not hear the debate.
– What the Minister ought to do is to give the name of’ his informant, so that, under our powers in’ relation lo privilege, that person, if he can be found, may be brought to the bar of the House and asked to either substantiate or withdraw his words. I agree with the honorable member for Lang, that, in other respects, there is an opening for reformation. I do not know why honorable members should tolerate it, but it struck me yesterday, when a reflection was made on the political integrity of the honorable member for Boothby, to the effect that his voting was not consistent with his protectionist pledges-
– There was no imputation of that character.
– In my mind, the words used by the Treasurer amounted to an imputation. If the Treasurer has the right to say that a man is not keeping his election pledges simply because he does not agree wilh the degree of protection proposed by the Government- -
– My pledges have always been for free kerosene.
– It struck me that the Treasurer did not take the- fairest course when he suggested to the public that, the honorable member was not consistent with his election pledges.
– - I hope this item will be postponed. I have taken a .particular interest in the oil duties, and I quite agree that, so far as the local industry is concerned, it would be better if there was an inquiry of the kind suggested, not only because of the imputations which have been cast, and which, of course, must be cleared first, but because the whole nuestion is a very intricate one. Personally, I should like to see the scope of the inquiry extended, so that a better understanding of the situation may be arrived at. Oil corporations have the name of indulging in machinations, and the suspicion has been accentuated by the discussion this afternoon.
– I shall support the motion, because I think it is necessary to emphasize the gravity of the situation which has been produced by the Treasurer’s statement. The Committee ought not to allow themselves to be diverted by a mere apology on the part of the honorable gentleman, who made a statement which he now says is not an exact reproduction of what he was told. The Committee must remember that the Treasurer told us that somebody had told him that this oil company had secured a majority of the members of the House, and if we allow ourselves to be diverted into a fishing inquiry we shall lose the scent of the matter. The Treasurer has given us a thread in saying that he was told by somebody that the state of things described existed; and it is his absolute duty, either to disclose the name of that person, or to place himself in a position to be able to say that that person has unconditionally withdrawn any imputation he cast on the House. If we allow ourselves to be diverted into a sort of fishing excursion to find out whether or not we are honorable men, we shall lose the thread which the Treasurer has given us. It is all very well for the Minister to say that he is sorry, but he has admitted that the worst part of the expression, namely, that the oil companies had honorable members “ in the bag,” was not stated to him by the person who gave him the information.. Why did the Treasurer use that expression ?
– It shows what interpretation the Treasurer placed on the words.
– precisely ; and the Committee ought to insist on- the Treasurer revealing the name, or obtaining from his informant an unconditional withdrawal of any imputation on members of this House.
.- I agree with the honorable member for Parkes in the view that this special matter should be followed to its conclusion, and that the imputation, which I feel sure rests on no basis or foundation, should be unconditionally withdrawn.
– We cannot decide as to this item until the matter is cleared up.
-^-1 quite agree with that view, and I am glad that the item is to be postponed. In addition, I think that the whole question of lobbying, as it is carried on in this House, should. be brought under review. I should prefer such a question to be discussed when the Speaker is in the chair, because that gentleman has control of the galleries, which are most frequented by those who desire to place matters connected with their business before honorable members.
– That suggestion should have been acted on fifteen months ago.
– on fift years ago !
– I quite agree with the honorable member for Barrier. We must not forget, however, that, as representstives of the people, we ought not to erect any barrier between the people and ourselves. We should afford every facility for their placing before us, in a proper fashion, their desires in any matters affecting themselves. Unfortunately, however, we have in the galleries of this House persons who subject honorable members to their importunities, and who are not directly affected by the Tariff, but are paid for the services which they render to others.
– Hear, hear.
– That is the sort of thing which ought to be stopped once and for ever. The power, however, does not lie in- this Committee, nor even in the House, but rests in the hands of Mr. Speaker; and it is for that reason I believe this question ought to be discussed in the House. The honorable member for Lang mentioned one particular individual, and made it appear that she had been specially singled ()Ut for reference because she advocated a reduction of duties. The honorable member may be astonished to learn that that individual was prepared to work upon the same terms to obtain an increased duty upon another item. That is the sort of thing that we should stop.
– What impropriety is there in that? It is as honest as is fEe honorable member’s own profession.
– Whilst I admit that persons have a right to come here and interview honorable members, I hold that the professional lobbyist should not be allowed to exist in Australia.
– Should not persons who reside in Perth or in Brisbane be- represented here?
– I would not allow them to be represented by parties prepared to take up any side for payment. I would not lend any countenance to the assumption that, if importers or manufacturers are prepared to expend a certain sum, honorable members may be cajoled or wheedled into voting in a particular direction. That is a suggestion which has been made, and an inquiry into its truth or otherwise is just as much warranted as is an inquiry into the incautious remark made bv the Treasurer..
.- My own opinion is that there has been a great deal pf loose talk indulged in by honorable members upon the question of their honour having been impugned. When Ministers make loose statements regarding the honour of this House, it is high time that serious attention was given to them. 1 do not wish the honorable member for Laanecoorie to misunderstand the position which I take up in reference to this matter. There is no more impropriety in a person becoming the paid advocate of a duty than there is in a professional man being engaged to represent -a particular firm in respect of any matter. If honorable members cannot withstand persuasion on the part of paid servants, they ought not to he here. But my difficulty is not on that score at all. . I have previously stated that I do not believe there is a word of truth in the statements which have been published regarding the corruption of honorable members. But that fact does not justify the Treasurer in throwing out hints of the kind, because the worst of all charges is that which consists of half truth, and which may be made by insinuation in so many different ways. You, sir, will recollect an occasion in the Queensland Parliament upon which a very important matter of this character cropped up, and upon which we took a very definite action. The charge was made that . the votes of certain honorable members in connexion with the construction of syndicate railways had been influenced, and that a document could be produced to show that improper overtures had been made to a person who had weight with honorable members, and that the document would show impropriety between the syndicate interested and honorable member’s who might have been induced not to take a certain course.
Colonel Foxton. - An offer was made.
– The present Premier of Queensland and myself obtained the original document. A proposal was made by the representative of a syndicate to an exmember of the Queensland Parliament that the latter should benefit considerably if he were able to induce the Labour Party - not to endeavour to pass the Bill, but not to stonewall it. That is the history of the matter. What did we do? Immediately we arrived at that position we said that corruption had been attempted by a party who would have benefited by the passing of the Bill. We therefore asked the Government not to proceed with the measure - to drop it immediately, and to seek a fitting opportunity to deal with the question.
Colonel Foxton. - And they did.
– -At first they characterized our statements as political fireworks. At that time we did not wish to produce the document, and we did not produce it. It was then suggested that it should be handed to Mr. Speaker, but he declined to take the responsibility of deciding the matter. Mr. Kidston then suggested that a Judge should be appointed to determine the question at issue. His suggestion was adopted, and a District Court Judge was appointed to decide whether or not the charge was a sound one. The report of Judge Mansfield was that a deliberate and wilful attempt had been made to suborn Parliament.
– What happened further ?
Colonel Foxton. - The gentleman concerned cleared out.
– The person who used to haunt Parliament House for the purpose of gaining support for syndicate railways took a first class ticket to another part of the world, and the particular measure in question was withdrawn. I mention this incident to illustrate the danger of making . charges. But in that case we had the incriminating document in our possession. If there be a single member of this Committee who knows of any document which would incriminate or influence any honorable member, his bounden duty is to rise in his place and inform us of it. If the Treasurer has any grounds for his suspicions, he should state them clearly. As being relevant to this question, I may, perhaps, be pardoned for stating a circumstance which happened in connexion with my own family. Not long ago, a kerosene lamp was left at my house. My wife stated that she did not order it, and that she did not require it. The person who delivered it said that similar lamps were to be distributed to members of this Parliament. I had to write to the company concerned upon two occasions before they sent a man to take it away.
– Was that the Standard Oil Trust?
-I think it was the British Imperial Company. I had to write to them twice before they took the lamp away. One of the agents subsequently came to me and apologized for their action. That case which I have mentioned involved a gross act of impropriety, and if other honorable members have been similarly treated, they ought to say so. But I come nowto the main point involved in this discussion. What does the postponement of this item mean ? Will it make any difference to the position? Why not pass the Tariff now?
-I have every confidence in honorable members, and I feel sure that there has been no bribery.
– If the Treasurer has any evidence of bribery, let him produce it. I. have related the only instance, so far as I am personally concerned, in which an act of impropriety was committed. Of course, I do not regard the forwarding to honorable members at this House of small articles such as a plug of tobacco, in order that they may appreciate its quality, as improper. But to send any article- to an honorable member’s private house is exceeding the bounds of decency.
– I had a lamp sent to me once, and I relegated it to the cellar of the Grand Hotel.
– I received a bag of chocolates from MacRobertson, and I am ashamed to say that I ate them.
– The interjection of the leader of the Opposition aptly illustrates my point. Nobody would ever accuse him of being likely to be corrupted by the present of a bag of chocolates. But if MacRobertson had sent a ton of chocolates to his private house, it would have been an act of impropriety. What advantage shall we gain by postponing the consideration of this item?
– We shall afford the slanderers an opportunity of coming forward.
– What does that mean? Is it not a fact ““that nine out of ten honorable members believe that the whole of these charges are so much humbug - that they are farcical?
– It is not a question of what we believe, but of what the public believes.
– My experience of the public is that it is much more sensible than are ordinary Parliaments. The people are chiefly concerned in getting the consideration of this Tariff completed. No investigation of the kind suggested can be completed within a month, so that if the proposal of the honorable member for Dalley be carried, the Tariff may not become law this session. I appeal to the leader of the Opposition as to whether our honour has been seriously assailed - whether the position cannot be made clear by a vote being taken upon this matter? The only investigation for which I would care two straws would be one conducted by a Justice of the High Court.
– What is an inquiry wanted for, seeing that no charges have been made?
– Then, what are we talking about?
– The Treasurer has stated that the Standard Oil Trust has honorable members in its bag.
– Having persons “ in a bag “ is a well-known term in regard to corrupt practices. A more serious phrase could not be selected in that connexion.
– It is an American phrase.
– I appeal to the leader of the Opposition to allow this item to be dealt with, and to permit of our proceeding in a dignified way to ascertain whether there has been corruption or attempted corruption - in short, whether there is any foundation for any charges which may have been made against honorable members.
– What the leader of the Labour Party has said would be all very well if this question stood alone. But it is idle to blink the fact that an atmosphere of an objectionable kind is being created-
– That is what I deplore.
– But deploring will not stop it. We want to take active steps to clear the atmosphere. I submit that this is a matter which does not so much concern the Minister in charge of this Tariff. It is one in which the Prime Minister, as the guardian of the honour and character of this House, should be held to his responsibility.
– A Select Committee has been appointed for the purpose of such an inquiry.
– No. A Select Committee has been appointed to suggest some procedure which can be applied to similar cases in future. But nothing has been promised by the Prime Minister. No definite statement can be got from him. It is about time that we held him to his responsibility in this connexion. I do not think that this item ought to ‘ be passed until we have had from him a clear declaration that he will take such steps as will secure a full and fair investigation into the allegations and rumours which have been heard from time to time. The Minister appears to have been unwarily led by an article which appeared to-day in a journal which champions him, into making the statements which have given offence. He made yesterday a remark similar to that which was made to-day, and the Age therefore pats him on the back this morning, and calls him an “old general.” It praises him very highly for his courage in making these fierce denunciations of honorable members. I should like to read what the Treasurer’s newspaper said about him this morning.
– I wish that it were mv newspaper.
– It is the Treasurer’s newspaper in a very real sense, and he should be grateful to it for the backing which it has given to him. I do not know where he would be if it were not behind him at the present time. It supports him on every question, going to ‘ absurd lengths to do so, and on this account I congratulate him. Speaking of what occurred yesterday, the Age, in a leading article to-day, says of the Treasurer -
He was a protectionist, not a time server, and he felt it was time that protectionists who allowed any influence to persuade them to “ get behind their protectionist principles “ should be exposed.
This is the inception of what has culminated to-day -
This straight thrust at the Corner party evoked a storm of interjections, but the Minister, like an old general, coolly utilized the interval of rest provided him to prepare another attack.
I suppose that it is the “ other attack “ that we have had to-day. The Minister gathered courage as he went on; but, luckily for the honorable member and the Committee, he has been pulled up this time. A little later the article continues - “ They boasted,” cried the Minister, “ that although we had passed the Commerce Act, they would ride through it “ ; and he added grimly, “ But they didn’t.” A Labour member had interjected a little earlier - “ The same company boasted that it would buy the Commonwealth Parliament”; and the Minister said, “Hear, hear ! “ There can be no doubt that Sir William Lyne’s disclosures - quite apart from certain disquieting rumours that have been rife for some time past, such as the quoted interjection crystallizes -
The Age writer deliberately associates the Treasurer with these disquieting rumours, and accepts his remarks as cumulative evidence as to the baneful effect of the Standard Oil Trust’s influence upon this Chamber. Its statements go almost as far as those of the Sydney Bulletin some time ago, though the proprietors of the latter journal were more courageous, and, instead of speaking -about disquieting rumours crystallizing, had the courage to say what they did about honorable members being bribed. All this indicates that an. atmosphere charged with suspicionis being created. As the honorable member for West Sydney very properly said, where the Standard Oil Trust is concerned, it does not take much to arouse suspicion. There is therefore the greater reason why we should be supersensitive rather than allow allegations impugning our honesty in relation to the Trust to pass unnoticed. I do not think that the mere postponing of the item will clear the air; I shall support the motion in order to
Enable Ministers to consider what should! be done to purify the atmosphere. In my opinion, we should not impose duties or* oil until’ the Prime Minister has specifically stated what he intends to do toremove the suspicions which are at present hanging over Parliament.
– The Minister was rather slow in- moving in this matter. He says that he is very jealous of the honour of Parliament, yet it was not until a private member had moved that he did anything. He has stated that the word “ bag “ was not used by him, but that he said that the Trust had a list.
– I said that there was a list, and that the Standard Oil Trust would win.
– The Treasurer said that the Standard Oil Trust- had a list. His remarks ‘ were tantamount to saying that it had captured a majority’ of honorable ‘members.
– How could ithave a list, unless its representatives had interviewed honorable members, and knew how they would vote? The Minister can put his own interpretation on his words ; but what he said was that the Trust had honorable- members in its bag. If that was his belief, it was his duty, to consult . the Prime Minister, and not proceed with the item until he had done so. Had he found that there was nothing in the suspicions, he could have gone on without making, them public. The Minister has acted very injudiciously. Although he has apologized, he has not undone the harm that his remarks have created. He “has publicly stated his opinion that the Trust possessed a list of honorable members whose opinions were known, and “ had the Committee in its bag.”
– I did not thing anything of the kind.
– The statement made by the Minister was most improper. He should have investigated the source of his suspicions, and, having done so, if he still held them, he should have made a full breast of the affair, and shown what influence had been at work, so that we might know how things stood. I think that a great many slanders are current because we do not assert our privileges. The building is infested with dead-beats and the representatives of all sorts of concerns,, and there is no one representing Mr.
Speaker to go round and turn them out. No member of a trust or company has everApproached me; I should not know any of them if I fell over them. I hope that a thorough investigation will be made of the whole affair, and that in future our privileges will be conserved by those in authority.
.- As a new member, I am somewhat surprised at the attitude which has been taken by the Committee. It is proposed to postpone an item merely because of an interjection made by the Treasurer. Interjections, I under-‘ stand, are at’ all times disorderly, and what shall we gain by postponing the item ? Because an honorable member told the Minister that a certain canvass had taken place, and that the numbers were, against “him, and the Minister, by interjection, made that public, is it to be said that a reflection has been cast upon honorable members ?
– That is not what was said.
– It is practically what was said.
– I understood the Minister to say that the number’s were against him.
– The Minister said that he had been informed that there was a list.
– This is not the first time that the Minister has been informed that the numbers were against him. Canvassing has been carried on in regard to this and a number of other items. But because a canvasser who has been in the lobbies, and has ticked off a. number of names, shows a list proving that the numbers were against the Minister, and that information is conveyed to him by a member, and made public, is it to be said that the honour- of the Committee has been reflected upon?
– Is the honorable member aware that the Minister has agreed to the postponement of the item ?
– -I am sorry that he has. I agree with the leader of the Labour Party that nothing is to be gained . by the postponement. What will the people outside say? No one outside will say we are acting rightly by hanging up the Tariff merely because of an interjection.
– It is not . proposed to hang it up. We shall go on with it.
– The Minister said that he had been informed that the numbers were against him.
– He said more than that.
– In my opinion, that is the only point at issue.
– That is not the opinion of the Committee.
– I think that it is the opinion of the majority of the Committee.
– Did the honorable member hear what the Minister said ?
– What did he say?
– That the numbers were against him. But because he used another phrase-
– Repeat the exact expression.
– He said that certain information had been conveyed to him that a canvass had been made by some one outside the Chamber.
– Not by “ some one outside the Chamber,” but by the agent of the Standard Oil Trust.
– Yes. A canvass had been made by the representative of the Trust.
– Whom has he seen or spoken to ? .
– Several. I have been approached by representatives of nearly all the trusts, who have asked my opinion on various questions, and I have told them that I would vote for the duties.
– They knew whom to go to.
– They go to every member.
– They do not come to me.
– They know that they need not go to free-trade members to secure the striking off of duties, because they are aware that those members will vote for free-trade. I ask, again, what will be gained by the proposed postponement? Shall we obtain further information ? In my opinion, none is to be got. All we can be told is that the Minister was informed of the fact which he has made public. I regret that the Treasurer has agreed to the postponement. It will do no good, and’ will advertise the Standard Oil Trust.
.- I am glad that the item is to be postponed, because a serious reflection has been cast upon the honour of every member of the Committee.
– Is this the . first time?
– No; and that is why I think that the slander should be bagged. The Treasurer said that the Standard Oil
Trust had a majority of honorable members in its bag. It is time that that slander was bagged. I wish to know where he got the information, and how the Trust got its information.
– It is time that the bag was opened if the Minister said that.
– I think so. . I appear to have been neglected when bribes were being distributed. A box of chocolates was sent to the leader of the Opposition, and a lamp to the leader of the Labour Party, but I have received no present.
– We have electric light in every room.
– That, perhaps, is why the honorable member sent back his lamp.
– I understand that it was not the Standard Oil Company, but the British-Imperial Oil Company that distributed the lamps.
– Yes; the company for which the Treasurer is barracking.
Sir- William Lyne. - The honorable member should not say that ; I am not doing anything of the kind.
– They left a lamp for the Treasurer.
– I did not know whom it was for.
– I. am sorry that on every occasion I. have “missed the ‘bus.” In all seriousness^ however, I should like to ask who has been more freely maligned in every part of Australia than has the Treasurer? When it has been suggested to me that he has received bribes from manufacturers, I have at once said, “ Give me a specific case in which that has occurred.” I have taken care to try to pin down those who make such statements, and this traducing of honorable members who have been defending his character comes ill from the Treasurer.
– That is very unfair ; I have not done anything of the kind.
– What do we mean in political circles when we say of any one, “ They have got him in their bag? “
– I immediately said that I did not intend that a sinister interpretation should be placed upon the expression in question.
– I accept the honorable member’s explanation, but it will go forth lo the world that every honorable member who votes for free kerosene has been bagged by the Standard Oil Company.
– When the phrase is used politically there is no malice in it.
– I am pleased that the Treasurer has withdrawn it.
– As soon as it was interpreted as it has been, I withdrew it.
– The honorable member has been too long in the political world not to know the meaning of political phrases. What did he mean when he used these words?
– I have said that my intention was to convey to the Committee that the Standard Oil Company had been making an active canvass, and had prepared a list showing that it was going to win.
– Who told the honorable member that?
– I shall tell the honorable member privately.
– The accusation was made, publicly, and if the statement was conveyed to the Treasurer by an honorable member he should be man enough to say so.
– The statement was made to me by my colleague, the Minister of Trade and Customs.
– 1^ the honorable member for Maranoa will pardon me, I should like to make a statement at this stage. The words that I actually used when speaking to the Treasurer were, “It is useless prolonging the debate. The numbers are against you, and the Standard Oil Company will win.”
– Two or three more words were used.
– Is the ‘ Standard Oil Company running the show ?
– What did the honorable member mean?
– Every one knows that there has been a keen controversy in regard to the item of kerosene, and that two oil companies have been actively lobbying . and canvassing with ‘ a view to forwarding their own interests. The Standard Oil Company is on the one side, and, as a matter of fact, its opponent has done just as much lobbying as it has done. It is all very well to beg the question, but we know that lobbying is rife.
– The one company is backed by Rothschild, and the other by Rockefeller.
– I do not think that the one is any better than the other.
– It is a case of six of one and half-a-dozen of the other. I had a lamp sent to me by the British Imperial Oil Company. I have been interviewed by the representatives of both companies, and have listened to what they have had to say.
– They have missed me.
– The representatives of most of these companies - -of manufacturers as well as of importers - when the opportunity offers, wait on me as well as on any other honorable member who will listen to them. It is idle to say that no lobbying is going on. Lobbying takes place, and will continue unless we take steps to prevent it.
– The honorable member would feel hurt if it were publicly stated chat the Commonwealth Oil Company had him “ in its bag.”
– I should take such a statement to mean that I was corrupt. But did not my honorable colleague withdraw his remark immediately it was suggested that a certain sinister interpretation could be placed upon it? He withdrew it unreservedly, and said that he desired to impute nothing of the kind. As the honorable member for Maranoa has said, no man has been more maligned in Australia than has the Treasurer. I agree with the honorable member for Wide Bay that nothing is to be gained by indefinitely postponing the request.
– If this one statement stood alone, the position would be different.
-If there were any doubt as to how the voting would go I should say that it would be as well for honorable members not to vote immediately after a heated debate like that which has just taken place. It would probably be wise to postpone the further consideration of the request for an hour or two or until to-morrow, so that we might have a clear vote upon it ; but it is a mere political move to suggest that the vote should be held over until we are able to inquire inlto the question of whether the Standard Oil Company or any other oil corporation has indulged in lobbying.
– The whole thing is a political move’.
– Is the honorable member for West Sydney engaging in a political move?
– If I occupied the position of the leader of the Opposition I should perhaps do what he is doing. After all, we have simply had an exhibition of political tactics. I am at one with those who. say that a full investigation should be’ made into this charge. During my political life, extending over seventeen years, I have never imputed anything improper to an honorable member, nor have I been offered a bribe. I do not believe any honorable member of this or of anyother Parliament of which I have been a member could be charged with corruption. I have inquired into some of these allegations for my own personal information, and that is the conclusion at which I have arrived. At the same time I think it is wise for the press to publish these rumours so that we may have an opportunity to refute them. We have nothing to hide. It is all very well for honorable members opposite to talk of what will be published in the newspapers to-morrow. The newspapers are like these oil companies - they are ranged on opposing sides. When a Minister proposes something of which the Ministerial organs approve they warmly support him, whilst the attitude of the leader of the Opposition in opposing that proposal is supported by the Opposition journals. When I say that the numbers are up, I generally know what I am talking about. I shall again read to the Committee the words that I used to the Treasurer.
– The honorable member read the words that he used. Did he write them down after uttering them?
– As soon as. the question was raised I wrote them down so that the Treasurer could quote them.
– It is remarkable that with that written statement in his hand the Treasurer should have used more ominous words.
– As soon as it was pointed out to the Treasurer that a certain construction might be placed upon his words he withdrew them, and said that he did not believe that such an imputation could justly be made against any honorable member. The words I used - and I still hold the same opinion - were : “ It is useless prolonging the debate. The numbers are against you, and the Standard Oil Company will win.”
– That was a private communication, and the honorable member did not intend that it should be read to the
Committee. The honorable member would not read to the Committee a statement coupling honorable members and their votes with the Standard Oil Company?
– Certainly not. I know of honorable members who will vote on this request in a way that will suit the Standard Oil Company, and I could put my hands on four or five who, if they had their way, would give that company a very short shrift in Australia.
– I am one of them.
– Is there any one who could have the slightest sympathy with the Standard Oil Company?
– Why did the honorable member say that the Standard Oil Company would win?
– Because the fight has been between that company and its opponent.
– We do not know that.
– It is disgraceful to say that the controversy in this Committee is a fight between two companies.
– I say that the Standard Oil Company is on the one side and its opponent on the other.
– Surely not.
– I thought that we were legislating for Australia.
– So we are, but the honorable member knows that as a fact the Standard Oil Company as represented by the Colonial Oil Company in. Australia is most anxious that the Treasurer’s proposal should be defeated, whilst another company is very anxious that it should be agreed to.
– There was nothing wrong in the honorable member’s communication to the Treasurer. .
– Nothing at all. Immediately exception was taken - and taken very properly, I think - to the Treasurer’s statement, he withdrew it, and expressed his regret. He made a manly withdrawal, and in such circumstances it is usual to accept an honorable member’s assurance.
– The honorable member used an expression such as is used in America, where the Standard Oil Trust prevails.
– The Treasurer has withdrawn his remark ; what more does the honorable member want ?
– We desire the whole atmosphere in regard to this matter to be cleared.
– In that desire we are all with the honorable member.
– Then let us postpone the further consideration of this request.
– I think that ‘ the Treasurer ‘ is wise in agreeing to a postponement for an hour or two, if the heat of this debate is likely to affect the voting, but as regards postponing the consideration of the request for an indefinite time-
– That is a matter for the Government to settle.
– It will not affect one vote.
– No. From the point of view of- party tactics, the leader of the Opposition is indulging in good business. I do not blame him- If I were in his position, I should probably do the same.
– The free-traders are the men who are exposed to this suspicion. If we were . protectionists, we should vote for a duty, so that the insinuation touchesus more than it does any other party in “the House.
– If the leader of the Opposition had been employing tactics, he would have moved the Chairman out of the chair.
– If that be so, then I can only conclude that the leader of the Opposition did not realize at the time that that could be done. ‘
– Nonsense ! I accepted the Treasurer’s statement.
– I was asked my opinion, and I gave it; and had I been in the place of the leader of the Opposition, I should probably have done what has been suggested. However, this item ought not to be postponed indefinitely,’ when it is quite open to make any desired inquiries after the vote has been taken. It seems to me that the Treasurer most handsomely withdrew what he had said ;. and I think it ought to be clear to every one that no imputation rests on honorablemembers.
– How does the honorable member clear himself?
– I have nothing to clear myself of.
– It was most indiscreet language to adopt.
– It was a private communication, and, as a matter of fact, I really do get fogged as between the two companies, seeing that the company, which is said to be in the interests of the Commonwealth, calls itself a British company, and the company, which is said to be against Australia, calls . itself a colonial company. There is no doubt- that in the House or in public it would have been wrong to use such language ; and I have given the only explanation I can offer. I see nothing to be gained by a postponement of the item; but, if any importance is attached to it, there might be a short adjournment of the discussion.
– There will not be a long postponement, and there will be no delay in considering the Tariff.
– I think I have put my position very clearly. I am opposed to the tactics of this Trust, as I believe every honorable member to be. It is true that’occasionally I say hard, things of honorable members opposite, but I cannot believe that any of them has any sympathy with this Trust; and, at any rate, I have heard five or six honorable members express themselves in regard to it, in language which might be called rather more than indiscreet.
– I had no idea that the Minister of Trade and Customs was going to occupy such a length of time with his personal explanation ; but I think that he has, at any rate, most effectively stated the position. No one is more pleased than I am at the manly way in which the Minister has relieved the Treasurer of any responsibility. When we were dealing with the Tariff during the first session, it will be remembered that a charge was levelled against the present Treasurer by the then honorable member for Werriwa’, Mr. Conroy.
– A good many charges were levelled against me by that gentleman.
– But in regard to the charge to which I particularly refer’, no one was louder than the present leader of the Opposition in denouncing the member for Werriwa for making such statements without bringing forth ample proof.
– The honorable member for Maranoa continues to imply that I have made a charge. I have already said that I made no charge, though the words I used were undoubtedly unfortunate.
– It is those very words that have caused all the trouble.
– They have gone forth to the world and cannot be recalled.
– We all know what “in the bag “ means. If I say that I have the Government “ in the bag,” it means that I have them beaten ; and the same in regard to private members.
– That was not what I implied.
– But the Treasurer said it.
– It is not quite fair for the honorable member to go on in this way, because the moment I got the opportunity I withdrew the words.
– I am very pleased, indeed, to accept the Treasurer’s withdrawal ; but it is just as well to make it known what honorable members mean by such words. If there is any truth in the suggestion that there has been bribery, it is best for the country and this House that the fact should be known.
– I do not, object to the fullest investigation, but I repeat that I made no charge ; and I do not think that any charge of the kind could be substantiated.
– Then, I do not see that there is anything to be gained by postponing the consideration of the item.
– This charge is an echo of a number of statements that have been made outside - that is the trouble.
– If the Treasurer states that he made no charge, the whole thing falls to the ground.
– But, unfortunately, charges are being made all round Australia.
– Did the honorable member for Maranoa read the leading article in the Melbourne Age this morning? Is that not a reflection on honorable members ?
– Then why not impeach the publisher of the Age?
– Worse things have been said about the Labour Party many a time !
– I am satisfied that much dirtier statements have been . made about myself since I. entered active politics as a Labour member ; but the leader of the Opposition, whose advice I once asked on such an occasion, told me to take no notice.
– I never told the honorable member to take no notice of imputations on his personal honour.
– I was being attacked politically.
– Yes ; take no notice of attacks made politically.
– But we, have had the honorable member for Fawkner attacking the whole Labour Party. However, I took the advice of the leader of the Opposition when he said, “ Page, never mind what they say, so long as they talk about you,” and he instanced his own case.
– And the honorable member has lived pretty well up to that advice !
– I have found it the most useful advice I ever had. If the Minister has withdrawn any imputation or charge, there is nothing to investigate or answer.
– In view of what has taken place to-day, it would be better to have a calm vote to-morrow, or on Tuesday.
– I am in favour of a postponement in order that we may obtain more information. So far as I can gather, the proposal of the Treasurer isplaying right into the hands of the Standard Oil Company, which is the only company that supplies oils equal to 102 degrees test. Russian oils do not usually go above 97 degrees, though in extreme cases they reach too degrees test. Therefore, if we adopt the Treasurer’s proposal, we shall give a monopoly to this company, in the case of all high class oils.
– I have already said that, finding that to be the effect, I intend to suggest a. test of 97 degrees.
– I must ask the honorable member tor Balaclava not to discuss the main question until the motion now before the Committee is disposed of.
– I am merely suggesting that there should be- a postponement in order to obtain expert evidence as to what Ought to be the proper flash test. To-day I asked an expert whether kerosenecould be denaturated, and he told me that, so far is he knew, it could not, for the purpose of use for oil engines; and, therefore, I think that some gentleman like Mr. Hake, Inspector of Explosives in Victoria, should be invited to give an opinion on the point. Mr. BATCHELOR (Boothby) [5.36].- I was strongly in favour of postponement, in view of the fact that the honesty of “honorable members was impugned. However, the Treasurer has unreservedly withdrawn any suggestion of the kind; and the information given to the Minister seems to have been of a perfectly harmless character. Under the circumstances, I do not see that much can be gained by a postponement, except, of course, a vote when the at- mosphere is clearer and calmer. The question becomes immaterial now that any suggestion against the honesty of honorable membershas been unreservedly withdrawn.. In my opinion, the statement which appeared in the leading columns of the Melbourne Age this morning is much worse than that which gave rise to the discussion this afternoon. We, of course, take no notice of imputations of the kind when they appear in journalistic ‘ ‘ rags, ‘ ‘ but when they are published in a journal which purports tolead public opinion in Victoria, there ought to be some authority or proof for charges which, otherwise, no decent newspaper would print. However, weknow that under present conditions, any attempts on the part of the Parliament to deal with newspaper attacks end in absurdity ; and,, in any case, questions of the kind have already been referred to a Select Committee.
– Is it not about time that that Committee had devised some means of dealing with charges of the kind’
– It is a. difficult matter, or otherwise means would have been devised before now ; and I am quite prepared to give the Committee time.
.- If there be any question upon which honorable members should be supersensitive, it is that of the impugnment of their honour. But simply because an unlucky expression was used by the Treasurer, we ought not to have raised such a storm. As bearing upon this question, I may mention that when the Tariff was previously before this Committee, I was offered a wager of 20 to1 that the Standard Oil Trust would get their oil in the case as well as in the bulk admitted free. The person who wished to make that wager would undoubtedly have won it. This Committee has previously decided that kerosene shall be admitted free, irrespective of whether it be in the case or in bulk.
– It was free under the old Tariff, and has been free for six yearspast.
– No one will deny that the desire of the Standard Oil Trust was that their kerosene should be admitted free. It was known perfectly well that honorable members would vote in that direction. But I should be very sorry to impugn their honour upon that account. What need have the Standard Oil Trust to at- tempt to improperly influence honorable members, when they know well enough that they will vote as they wish them to. vote? The position reminds me very forcibly of a celebrated gambler in London, who was reputed to have made , £15,000 a year. When the time came for him to retire from the gambling table, he made the acknowledgment that he did not always cheat. He said, “ I am a good player, and why should I cheat when my superior’ play would enable me to win? But when I could not win fairly, I won the other way. “ Similarly I might ask what need have the Standard Oil Trust to attempt to improperly influence honorable members? If that Trust wished to do so, does anybody imagine that with all their experience in connexion with acts of bribery - according to the authority of the President of the United States and Lawson, the author of Frenzied Finance - they would leave any trace behind? Certainly not. The same keen brain which has controlled that Trust would control its officers and prevent the slightest trace from being discovered. Personally, I wish to extend the production of kerosene as large a protection as possible. But I do not impugn the honour of honorable members who desire to see it admitted free. We have had one case of bribery or corruption in Victoria. Mr. McKenzie, who at the time was Minister of Lands, w.as accused of corruption.
– The honorable member is alwavs bringing up that matter.
– The honorable member is one of those who wished to see Mr. . McKenzie go out of the State Parliament with a clean record, notwithstanding that he was only too ready to condemn another man.
– I was one of those who never believed in what he did. The honorable member should go back into. his own history. I challenge him to cite any votes of mine of which I have reason to be ashamed.
– Senator Findley was an innocent man, and the honorable member never helped him. .
– I was not a member of the State Parliament when Findley’s case cropped up.
– I believe that the honorable member was.
– It is a fact that I was not.
– I accept the honorable member’s assurance.
– Why does not the honorable member go back into his own history ?
– If the honorable member wishes to go into history, I am prepared to face him from any stand-point that he chooses.
– Give us the history of Mr. Geismardo.
– I was fooled by him. The honorable member and I both had friends whose acquaintance we regret having made. I wish to show why this item should not be postponed to permit of an inquiry being made into the truth or otherwise of the Treasurer’s statement. What happened in the case of the inquiry into the land scandals in New South Wales? Delay occurred, the expenses were piled up, and yet* comparatively little good was achieved. How long would the inquiry suggested by the honorable member for Dalley last? It would occupy many weeks.
– The postponement of the Tariff is not suggested.
– We shall proceed with the consideration of the Tariff the moment this motion is disposed of.
– I trust that the leader of the Opposition will request the honorable member for Dalley not to press his proposal .
– It is not a question of what the leader of the Opposition may do. I submitted the motion of my own volition, and the Treasurer himself has supported it. Indeed he wished to move it.
.- Two things are very clear to me - first that the Treasurer made a distinct charge against honorable members, and secondly that he has unreservedly withdrawn it.
– When it was interpreted in the way that it was.
– When it was interpreted in the only way in which it could be interpreted. But the fact remains that the Treasurer’s accusation will be circulated throughout Australia.’ His withdrawal cannot recall it. Although the honorable gentleman has unreservedly withdrawn the charge, his champion, the Minister of Trade and Customs, who conveyed the information to him, had the temerity to stand up and declare that honorable members of this House were engaged in a fight on behalf of two companies.
– I did not say anything of the kind.
– We are fighting for our ideals in political life. I do not believe that any honorable member is engaged in a fight for either one company or the other.
– I never said anything of the kind.
– I took down the words of the Minister. He said that this was a fight between two companies.
– Outside; I think that it is, outside.
– I am speaking of inside this chamber. I wish now to say a word or two in reference to the question of professional lobbying. I think that some steps might have been taken to suppress this evil early in the consideration of the Tariff. We all know that the Melbourne manufacturers and the representatives of the Sunshine Harvester Company have filled the galleries night after night, and that they have had the ear of honorable members and of Minis-‘ ters for months past. ‘ Yet we now find the honorable member for Laanecoorie backing up the Treasurer in his animosity to one man who is representing a large firm of piano-makers in opposition to a prominent member of the protectionist party in New South Wales.
– I rise to a point of order. The honorable member spoke of ray animosity to one member of a certain company.
– To the representative of a company.
– I presume that the honorable member referred to Mr. Allan.
– I did nothing of the sort.
– I have no animosity towards the representative of any company, and Mr. Allan is one of my best personal friends.
– I was alluding to the gentleman to whom the Treasurer directly referred upon one occasion when he was sitting in the gallery. His animosity towards that gentleman is due to the successful way in which’ the latter has been able to put before honorable members the case for imported pianos in opposition to the pianos which are locally manufactured. It ill becomes the representatives of Victoria to endeavour to prevent men in Sydney and other parts of Australia from placing their views before honorable members.
– That is another argument in favour of the establishment of the Federal Capital.
– It is. I object to lobbying, but I say that it ill becomes a Victorian representative to draw attention to the fact that manufacturers from other States are being represented here in the only way in which they can be represented.
.- I wish to again ask honorable members to consider what advantage we shall derive from postponing the consideration of this item?
– We ought to have a distinct declaration from Ministers as to whether they propose to clear this matter up.
– It would be a supreme farce if - after devoting two hours to the consideration of the proposal - we did not postpone the consideration of this item.
– The leader of the Opposition will agree with me that nothing could be more full and complete than the withdrawal by the Treasurer of the statement which he made.
– There are some statements which can never be withdrawn, so far as the public is concerned. They may be withdrawn here, but they are not withdrawn outside.
– I agree with the right honorable gentleman. B.ut if we finish the discussion now, the complete case will be recorded in one part of the Hansard report, whereas if the item be postponed, a flame now practically quenched will be rekindled. In m.y opinion, there need be no further discussion of the item. The charges which have been made have been absolutely withdrawn. I know of nothing corrupt, but should any other honorable member know of anything of the kind, he should state the facts. This is the time to do so. Although mv vote may advantage the Standard Oil Trust, I shall give it, not because attempts have been made to corrupt me, but in fulfilment of a pledge to my constituents. We should do the work which we have been sent here to do, and I appeal to the Committee to proceed with the item.
Colonel FOXTON (Brisbane) [5.57].- Mv only reason for rising is to prevent the supposition that I shall vote for the postponement of the item for any other reason” than that urged by the Treasurer, which is to give an opportunity for a modified proposal to be brought forward.
– I think it better to have the_ matter dealt with when the Committee will be in a calmer frame of mind.
Colonel FOXTON. - But I understand that- a modification of the Minister’s proposal is to be brought forward.
Colonel FOXTON.- That, in my opinion, is the only good reason for the postponement of the item, though I regret that, in holding this view, I am not in complete accord with a number of my honorable friends. The Committee does not do itself justice in taking notice of general statements, either made by a Minister or published in newspapers. If charges are not specific, and we take notice of generalities, the Minister or journal concerned, is elevated into a position of undeserved prominence.
– There was a very definite charge about the expenditure of £2,000.
– I said nothing about that.
Colonel FOXTON.- I have listened carefully to what has taken place. The Minister of Trade and . Customs made a charge which was not in the best of form, supposing that it was intended to be made public, but I understand that it’ was really a private communication, not meant to be repeated here or elsewhere, and therefore is not open to discussion. But that statement having been repeated and magnified by the Treasurer-
– I only made an interjection.
Colonel FOXTON.- That excuse does not improve matters. To interject was to add the offence of being disorderly.
– Hear, hear. An interjection is often an attempt to muddle a man bv a chance shot.
Colonel FOXTON. - I think it beneath the dignity of honorable members to take notice of charges made in general terms, though when a Minister or any member makes a charge, he should be challenged, and asked to name his authority. If he fails to do so there and then, the charge must recoil on his own head. The tendency is to pay regard to statements which are beneath notice. If mere general charges are made in the Chamber, or published by newspapers - whether rags or leading journals- they do’ public men no harm. I have lived long enough in politics to know that. I have not read the newspaper statement to which reference has been made, though I have heard about it, and I say that unless those managing the publication come forward with facts and names, they stand condemned, and should be treated with the contempt they deserve. In noticing ‘vague and general charges, the Committee merely draws attention to what otherwise would not be heeded.
– I didnot hear the remarks of the Treasurer nor his withdrawal, but I do not agree with what has been said by the honorable member for Brisbane. We ought to take little or no notice of outside criticism, unless distinct charges are made, in regard to which we can take definite action.
Colonel Foxton. - That is my contention.
– I think,, however, that notice should be taken of remarks made in this Chamber. If statements reflecting on the honour and honesty of honorable members are allowed to pass ‘ unchallenged, we shall degrade our position to the level which they imply we occupy.
– Hear, hear. Remarks such as those about the marriage tie, for instance.
– I do not think that such remarks should be made in this Chamber.
– Or outside.
– Or outside.. But we heed not take notice of statements published outside, unless . they are so distinct that we can take definite action in regard to them. We can afford to stand on our dignity, and not attempt to defend ourselves when vague criticism of our actions is published. . But when remarks imputing dishonour or dishonesty to honorable . members are made in this Chamber, as they too often are, we should take notice of them. I am glad that notice has been taken of such remarks this afternoon, because it may discourage the making of such statements in the future. The Minister of Trade and Customs, whose statement I heard, said that he had handed over a certain memorandum.
– No; I told the Treasurer.
– The Minister told the Treasurer certain words, and said that he was prepared to repeat them here. Whether he meant’ by that repetition to support them, I do not know.
– It was a private statement.
– The words were objectionable. If Ministers regard themselves as fighting -for one company, and those opposed to them as fighting for another- -
– We do not take that view.
– THOMSON. - That was the only justification for the words. If Ministers regarded the affair in that light, they regarded it in an altogether improper light.
– We did not regard it in that light ; but we knew that the companies were on different sides.
– The remarks indicated that one Minister at least regarded the affair as a fight between two companies, and that the Government were fighting for one company, while those opposed to them were fighting for the other.
– There are two importing companies fighting against the local company.
– I assure the Minister that I do not look upon the matter in that way. I thought that the Standard Oil Trust was, if anything, getting an advantage, and said so in my speech, without mentioning its name. I thought that a monopoly of the market was being given to one concern, but 1 did no: allude to that concern by name, because that is always undesirable. In my opinion, the Treasurer’s proposal gave that concern an advantage. But its representatives have never approached me. I had not spoken to the local manager, nor did I know him until last night, when, after I had delivered a speech declaring’ my position, he addressed me with a view to correcting misapprehensions which he thought were in my mind.
– There was no harm in that.
– Of course not. I mention it merely because honorable members have said that canvassing has been going on. This gentleman never spoke to me before in the whole course of our discussions. I admit that there is too much lobbying Business firms have a right to put their cases before members, who cannot possess an intimate acquaintance with all the details affected by every proposal. But ‘ it is highly undesirable that, instead of’ forwarding circulars or letters, their representatives should constantly attend in the lobbies of Parliament House. I hope that we shall not hear again such remarks as those of the Minister of Trade and Customs.
– They were not intended to be made public.
– I recognise that. It is the. attitude of mind which they indicate to which I take objection.
– I had to say what I knew.
– I have often objected before that proposals were being viewed from the stand-point of one private concern or another, and to the bandying of names about the Chamber, as though honorable members were fighting to give an advantage to or to injure private firms. I do not think that any honorable member does that. Very few regard these matters except as their fiscal views dictate. In my opinion, the intention always is to do what is best for Australia. While we need not paytoo much attention to remarks made outside, we cannot disregard insinuations of dishonesty in this Chamber without falling to the level of. the criticism brought against us..
.- I believe that honorable members who intend to vote to make kerosene free are actuated only by a desire to benefit the users of oil throughout Australia. That is why we resisted one set of Ministerial proposals, and when another was substituted, I was the first to point out that it tended to give a monopoly to one importing concern at the expense of another - to benefit the Standard Oil Trust, concerning which charges have been made and withdrawn this afternoon. I am of ‘ opinion that every honorable member who will vote for free kerosene will be moved to do so only bv his desire to study the interests of his constituents, and of the people of Australia, and no one who has looked into the facts will have the temerity to offer a contrary suggestion.
Motion agreed to; request postponed.
Requested amendments in item 258 Request-Make Stoppers) and in item 260 (Bottles n.e.i.) made.
Requested amendments in item 261 (Glue and Gelatine) not made.
Item 262. Printing Roller Composition, aci val.,. 35 per cent.
Request. - Make the duty (United Kingdom), 25 ner cent.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the requested amendment be not made.
.- This, I think, is a reasonable proposal. Printers doing a superior class of work require the very best kind of roller available, and my experience is that some rollers in hot climates melt. That is more particularly the case in country offices, and, in the interests of the . country printer, this request should be agreed to. The requested duty of 25 per cent., together with freight, insurance, and other charges levied on the imported article, will mean a protection of about 50 per cent, to the local manufacturers of printing roller composition, and if that is not sufficient for them they had better look around for some improvement in their methods. I hope that the Committee will agree to the request.
– I cannot allow to go unchallenged the statement made by the honorable member for Coolgardie as to the inferiority of printing roller composition manufactured in Australia.
– I did not say that it was inferior.
– The honorable member said that during the hot weather rollers made of such composition frequently melted. I have used rollers made of Australian composition, and know that they do not melt. I have been identified with the use of such rollers in a climate such as that of Bourke, and know that it is entirely wrong to assert that thev melt during hot weather. The local composi- ton will compare favorably with that [produced abroad. It is made specially to withstand the climate of Australia.
– That is my experience in Queensland.
– The local manufacturers deserve every encouragement. There is a tendency to send to Australia inferior as well as good composition. I have nothing to say against the imported article, save that it is not so well adapted to our climate as is the local production.
– Is the English composition better than that produced in foreign countries ?
– It is ; but neither the English nar the foreign composition is equal to that made here by men having a knowledge of the climate, and of what is required by printers in Australia.
– Why do we need a duty of 35 per cent. ?
– I am surprised that a protectionist should ask such a question: The duty is necessary to secure the local market. There is, in many cases, a prejudice in favour of an imported article, notwithstanding that the local production is “superior, and unless we beat down that prejudice by making it more profitable to purchase local manufactures, many Australian productions that are superior to those from abroad will not have a fair chance. Many people will pay a little more for an imported article under the mistaken belief that that produced locally is not up to the standard. They take it for granted that an Australian production cannot be so good as is one produced abroad. It is for that reason that I advocate the retention of the duty. Local competition will prevent any undue inflation of prices. This duty is necessary, not to enable local manufacturers to obtain a better price, but to circumvent the prejudice which exists against the local manufacture.
.- The honorable member for Macquarie is entitled to narrate his experience of the use of locally-made printing roller composition - an experience gained, I believe, in the terribly hot climate of Orange, some 2,500 feet above sea level. When I spoke of rollers melting, I had in mind printing offices in districts in Western Australia where during the summer the temperature is very high: I have no prejudice against the local article; but I have used it in the West, and have known it to melt during hot weather. .
– Was that composition made in New South Wales or Western Australia ?
– It is sufficient to say that it was made in Australia. As a matter of fact, when spending my own money, I always give a preference to local productions, so that the honorable member’s reference, to a prejudice against Australian manufactures is, so far as I am concerned, quite beside the mark. The manufacture of printing roller composition involves very little labour. Only unskilled labour is required; any one “can make printers’ rollers who is able to pour a bucket of molten composition into a mould. In these circumstances, if the local manufacturers cannot carry on with a duty of 25 per cent., plus a natural protection equal to 25 per cent., they must be in a very bad way.
.- I am willing to. accept the statement made by the honorable member for Macquarie, that the quality of the local article is superior to that of the imported, although I cannot overlook the remarks made by the honorable member for Coolgardie. But if this composition can be made so successfully in Australia, why are we not in a position in connexion with this item to give the dear old Motherland a preference of 10 per cent., as requested by the Senate? The honorable member for Macquarie has toldus that printing roller composition imported from Great Britain is superior to that coming from foreign countries, and surely in view of that statement we should give some recognition to the product of the Mother Country.
– Are we’ to consider the’ interests of the Mother Country before those of Australia?
– I do not want to; but, on the honorable member’s own showing, if we give proper attention to the interests of Australia we shall take care that those who use printing roller composition are not handicapped in the way that he suggests. I appeal to the Committee, which has indorsed the principle of Imperial preference, to give that principle a proper recognition in connexion with this item.
.- I wish to make a personal explanation. In the heat of the debate, a little while ago, I accused the honorable member for Corangamite of having cast a vote on a certain occasion against Mr. (now Senator) Findley. I accepted his assurance that he did not do so, and I now find that he did not enter Parliament until theyear after that unfortunate incident.
Question - That the requested amendment making the duty on “ printing roller composition” (item 262), ad val. (United Kingdom) 25 per cent., be not made - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 4
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Requested amendment not made.
Sitting suspended, from 6.30 to 7.43 p.m.
Item 265. Slate slabs, sawn or chiselled on one or more faces, or on one or more edges, ad val. 20 per cent.
Request. - Amend the item to read as follows : -
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the requested amendment be made.
– I should like to know what is the object of this requested amendment?
– It is that the work of planing the slabs may be done here.
– I do not believe that much employment will be afforded in this way ; and in any case, I think that 20 per cent, is sufficient protection.
Motion agreed to.
Requested amendment made.
Item 268. Stone and Marble -
Request. - Make the item free.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the requested amendment be not made.
.- I cannot understand the opposition to this request, in view of the decision on the last item, the object of which was to provide work in the planing of slabs. The Senate, acting in logical sequence, now suggests that the raw material shall be brought in free, and we have the Treasurer opposing the suggestion.
– We do not desire the raw material to be imported at all.
-The object is to encourage the development of our own quarries.
– This is only a small duty; it ought to be 30 per cent.
– In the last item an extra 5 per cent, was imposed in order to give employment to local workers, and now it is proposed to reject the request of the Senate to permit the raw material to come in free.
– We have plenty of marble here.
– Then, where is the necessity for a duty?
– To keep out Carrara marble.
– Does the Treasurer propose to place a duty on gold, tin, copper, or iron ?
– We shall not feel the cost of our marble monuments !
– Do I understand, then, that the only object of this item fs to tax those who have to provide marble monuments for those who were dear to them ? It is difficult to fathom the reasons which actuate the Ministry.
– The “poor farmer” who erects marble monuments !
– Do I gather from that interjection that this is a question of class ? It started as a question of protection ; but now we are asked to resist anv further benefits to the marble worker, on the score that the proposed amendment will help rich people, with whom honorable members opposite have no sympathy. The motion seems a clear indication “of the fact that the Ministry are prepared to accept anv increase of duty apart altogether from the question of protection - even an increase on the raw material, which, after all, is a freetrade duty, to which free-traders can have no great objection.
.- Imust oppose the motion proposed by the Treasurer. The retention of this duty will impose a tax upon the raw material of a struggling industry, particularly in Victoria. I admit that marble suitable for certain purposes can be obtained in Australia, but those who are engaged in the finer works of sculpture - in statuary, for example - are compelled to use the finest marble they can get.
– Then they can afford to pay a 10 per cent. dutv.
– the price they get for their work does not seem to indicate that. The demand for that class of work is so limited that they complain of the severity of the times. Yet we are asked to increase that severity by imposing an. unnecessary burden upon them. If these persons followed their own inclinations they would use Australian marble for the finer classes of sculpture. But they point out that the local marble has certain defects.
– Very fine white marble is now being obtained at a depth.
– Near Bathurst. It is being used for statuary and for tombstones.
– One of the most eminent sculptors in Melbourne-
– To whom does the honorable member refer ?
– To Mr. Richardson.
– The honorable member should ask Mr. White his opinion.
– Mr. Richardson is one of the most eminent sculptors in Melbourne. When paying a visit . to his studio a little while ago, this very question cropped up, and he assured me that Australian sculptors would be very glad to use Australian marble if it were fine enough to permit of its being used for the highet classes of work.
– The reason that they do not use it is because of its softness.
– Mr. Richardson pointed out that even in the finest quality of Australian marble there are certain defects. He admitted that at a greater depth a more perfect marble may be discovered.
– The honorable member should visit Pyrmont, and see the white marble being cut there.
– I am speaking of the marble used in statuary, which has to be chiselled, very finely. It is full of small flinty substances, which, if struck by the chisel-
– As a rule, when struck by the chisel, they knock a piece out of it.
– They not only knock a piece out of the chisel, but cause a defect in the statuary by impairing its beauty. As the sculptors themselves say ‘that we’ have not a sufficiently fine marble for use in the more delicate classes of sculpture, and no amount of duty will cure this grave defect. It is also pointed out that, after working, the local marble loses its. whiteness and assumes a dirty muddy-like tint. I think that for a little while longer we ought to admit marble free.
– I am rather surprised that the honorable member for Lang should talk with such an amount of authority upon this question. His remarks merely serve to show how little he knows about it.
– Surely the sculptors know their own business.
– Practically all the statuary that we see in Australia is imported from Italy, where it is produced by the aid of intricate machinery with which no Australian workman could compete. If we abolish the duty upon marble we shall detrimentally affect the production of that article in Australia, a course of action which seems to me absolutely unjustifiable. I hope that the Committee will agree to the retention of this duty, in the interests of the marble industry.
– A few months ago I visited a sculptor’s studio in Victoria, where I was shown several kinds of marble which are produced in this State ; and only a week or two ago another sculpter informed me that he had discovered a quarry not far from Launceston which contains the best marble that he has seen. Under these circumstances, I think we should retain this duty of 10 per cent. Marble may be the raw material of the sculptor, but it is the finished article of thequarryman, and the latter, needs to be encouraged just as much as does any one else.
– I hope that the Committee will not admit unwrought marble free. I think that a duty of 10 per cent, is little enough to impose upon this material. Statuary is not a necessary of life. Persons who can afford to have statuary about their places can afford to pay a little duty upon the raw material used in its production. Since this item was previously under consideration, I have paid a visit to Angaston, in South Australia, where some of the finest deposits of marble to be found in the . Commonwealth exist- marble which is suitable for all practical purposes. If anybody desires to use better marble than can be obtained there, he can ‘certainly afford to pay a duty of 10 per cent, upon it.
– I hope that the duty of 10 per cent, upon this item will be retained. In New South Wales, we have a number of extensive quarries, containing the best marble to be found in the world. There is every reason why we should encourage the quarrying of this marble, owing to the cheap transit charges levied upon other marbles which answer the same purpose, but which do not provide our own. people with employment, or enable us to develop our own resources. In this instance, at any rate, there is very little danger of the duty being added to the price of the commodity.
Question - That the requested amendment making item 268, paragraph a, “ Marble, unwrought, &c,” free, be not made - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 14
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Requested amendment not made.
And on and after 4th December, 1907 -
Item. 275. Ammonia, viz. : -
Carbonate . . . Muriate, … ad val. 15 per cent.
Request. - Insert “ (a) “ before Carbonate,” leave out “Muriate,”, and insert new paragraph
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the amendment be not made.
– I should like to know from the Treasurer where muriate of ammonia is made in Australia.
– Heaven only knows.
– Muriate of ammonia is the raw material in a number of manufactures and trades, and although, according to the Minister, “ Heaven only knows “ where it is manufactured in Australia, he asks us to insist on making it dutiable at 15 per cent.
– I ask the Committee to insist on the duty originally agreed to, as it was imposed for the reason that the Ammonia Company of Australia was erecting a large plant at Sydney for the manufacture of muriate of ammonia. Special inquiries were made by the Customs Department, and it was ascertained that, if the duty of 15 per cent, is retained, the company will be producing this article by the 15th July next.
.- I would remind the Committee that muriate of ammonia is the raw material of plumbers, tinsmiths, and others, and at present is not obtainable in Australia. I have received correspondence to that effect from the tin-plate makers, who say that a duty of 15 per cent, is a heavy tax on them. The statement that it is to be made here is rather vague. We do not know that the local article will be satisfactory, or that it will be produced at a price at which persons can afford to buy it.
– With a duty of only 15 per cent., the local makers will not be able to raise their prices very high, from fear of the competition of importers.
– I should like more authoritative information, to allay the fears of the makers of tinware and others who use muriate of ammonia, and will be seriously handicapped if they have to pay a duty of 15 per “cent, on it.
.- I shall not debate the merits of the proposal ;
I rise merely to point out that the information’ given by the. representative of the Government in the Senate was not on al fours with that which we have just received from the Treasurer. The VicePresident of the Executive Council informed the Senate that orders were being booked for local use and export by manufacturers of muriate of ammonia in New South Wales, whereas the Treasurer told us that a company will be able to supply this article - he did not say in what quantities - some time in July next. I wish to draw attention to the extraordinarily loose way in which Ministers make statements to Parliament. Apparently they suit what they have to sav to the exigencies of the moment.
Motion agreed to.
Requested amendment not made.
Requested amendment in item 278 (Drugs and chemicals) and item ‘283 (Voltoids of sal ammoniac) made.
Item 284. Insecticides, Sheep Washes and Disinfectants, n.e.i., free.
Request. - Leave out “ Insecticides “ and insert
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the requested amendments in paragraph a be made.
.- In my opinion insecticides should be free. Pyrcthrum roseum, which is the base of these preparations, cannot be obtained in Australia.
– Insecticides and disinfectants are made in Australia by the ton. I could name half-a-dozen places in Melbourne where they are made.
– I wish only to ascertain the facts; but I am assured positively that this preparation is not procurable in Australia. Insecticides differ from disinfectants, and I ask if the Treasurer will make them free.
. I hope that the Treasurer will not put insecticides on the free list, and that he will explain why he hasmoved that sheep washes and horse and cattle washes be free. There is no trouble in making insecticides. Thev are made by Messrs. Faulding and Company in Adelaide, and I think also in Melbourne and Sydney.
.- Those who are of the opinion that insecticides should be free - which was the decision of this Committee originally - ought not to vote for the motion. The effect of carrying it would be to remove them from this paragraph, and include them in paragraph b, under which they would be dutiable at 25 per cent. The more consistent course for those who think that disinfectants and insecticides should remain free would be to vote against the Senate’s request. Then, again, those who consider that they’ should be taxed, . should vote against the suggested amendment, because, under it, sheep, cattle, and horse washes would be free, whilst articles of infinitely more importance to the health of humanity would remain dutiable. Is there any sense in saying that we can make disinfectants for use in hospitals as well as for general sanitary purposes, but that it is impossible for us to manufacture sheep, cattle, and horse washes?
– We can make them.
– Then why should they be free, while other disinfectants are taxed?
– Would the right honorable member support us in an effort to make them dutiable ?
– I have iust said that I am going to vote to make all of them free. Why make sheep, cattle, and horse washes free, and impose duties Of 25 and 15 per cent, on insecticides and disinfectants on the ground that they can be made in Australia ?
– I should like them, all to be dutiable at 25 per cent.
– Then why includesheep washes and cattle and horse washesin the free list?
– Because we cannot help ourselves.
– That is a confession of impotence.
– We tried to make them dutiable on a previous occasion, but the Committee was against us.
– The Government re-open old fights when if suits them to do so. Do they think that they are beaten now ?
– We shall not be if the right honorable member will vote with us.
– My desire is that disinfectants for human beings, as well as for dumb animals, shall be free. I propose that the question of taxing disinfectants shall be tested on’ the first paragraph by voting against the acceptance of the Senate’s request in reference to insecticides. The Treasurer proposes to agree to the omission of the word “ insecticides.”
– It will not be omitted from the item, because it will be reinserted in the proposed new paragraph b.
– Why should we strike out insecticides and disinfectants from a paragraph under which they are free in order to make them free under another line? If free wire netting is of importance, surely it is of great importance that the public of Australia shall be able to obtain free of duty the best forms of disinfectants.
– Does the right honorable member say that we cannot make disinfectants here ?
– I would leave them on the free list in the interests of public health, just as I was in favour of making wire netting free in the interests of the settlers of Australia.
:- This is a matter of very great importance to all classes of the community from the point of view of cleanliness and sanitation, and it is also of vital importance to those engaged in the production of wool and the raising of stock.
– We make tons of disinfectants in Australia.
– Will the honorable member say that we can make Cooper’s sheep dip, which is largely used throughout the world?
– We can make a dip that is equally good.
– Let the manufacturers of Cooper’s sheep dip establish factories here. .
– That is an admission that Cooper’s sheep dip is one of the best.
– It is one of the best.
– Certainly. The farmer who does not want to use Cooper’s sheep dip may make a dip from arsenic, although such a dip has not the same effect on- wool. Some men prefer Cooper’s, some favour Quibell’s, and some again favour Thomas’ - a local sheep dip. They are all excellent dips ; but their formulae are secret. In no country are sheep dips taxed. The adoption of the Senate’s request will bring about confusion, such as occurred in connexion with the recent revision of the Tariff of New Zealand. ‘ In revising the Tariff, the Parliament of the Dominion first of all made sheep washes and cattle and horse washes free, with the result that it was held that those words referred only, to fluid washes. If the Minister wishes all sheep, cattle, and horse washes to be free, he should propose as a modification the addition of the words, ‘’ in fluid or powdered form.” That amendment was made in the New Zealand Tariff. The principal insecticide used is made abroad from the powdered flowers of the pyrethrum roseum. The honorable member for Hindmarsh says that insecticide is made in Melbourne and Adelaide As a matter of fact, the powder is imported, and simply put up in tins here.
– With other additions. The- powdered pyrethrum flowers ‘ are only the basis of these insecticides.
– I know what I am talking about.
– And so do I. I have made inquiries on the subject.
– The most effective insecticide for destroying flies and fleas is the pure pyrethrum roseum powder. That powder is blended in order to secure cheaper forms of insecticides, and those blends are sold under different names. In the interests of cleanliness and public health, insecticides should be free- Many disinfectants are used in hospitals as well as for cleansing drains and for other sanitary purposes. They can be made whereever there is a chemist ; but there are many patent preparations which are excellent and valuable. I hope that the Committee will disagree with the Senate’s requests. Failing that, the Minister should certainly propose a modification adding to the words “cattle -and horse washes,” the words “ in fluid or powdered form.” I move -
That the word “Insecticides” be left out of the requested amendment.
– I shall make inquiries; but I do not think there is any objection to such a modification.
.- I hope that the Treasurer will see his way clear to propose a modification providing that the pyrethrum flowers which are the base of all insecticides, shall be free. They are grown in Austria, more particularly in the provinces of the Danube, and my information is that not one ounce of these flowers is produced in Australia. I do not know why they should not be grown here, but it would be better to encourage their cultivation by means of a bounty than by a duty. If the duty be charged on the flower’s, as well as on the packages, we shall injure the tinning, printing, and paper industries. These insecticides are sent in in parcels of 1 oz. to 3 ozs. weight, but, if they are admitted free in 28-lb. parcels, the small ‘manufacturer may purchase them, and, in manufacturing the insecticides, compete with the largest manufacturers, with benefit to the other industries ! have mentioned.
– I mav say that, so far as the suggested modification is concerned, I am quite prepared to accept it.
– Then, at the proper time, I shall move that these flowers, in packages of 28 lbs., be admitted free:
.- This item includes the washes by which the orchardists protect their orchards from many pests.
– Those washes are mostly made here.
– But it is proposed to increase the cost to the local orchardists by 25 per cent.
– - Nonsense’ !
– If the effect is not toincrease the price, of what use is the duty ? It is inconsistent to give every consideration to sheep, cattle, and horse breeders, if we are not prepared to extend similar consideration to struggling orchardists.
– I feel disposed to make the whole subject to a duty of 25 per cent.
– That cannot be done in reference to sheep washes, because the duty ‘ free ‘ ‘ has not been disagreed to by the Senate ; even if the Minister wished - which I very much doubt - that proposal could not be made now. If we accept the proposal, as it is before1 us .now, we shall be showing consideration to the richer classes at the expense of the poorer classes; and that would be to the credit neither of this Committee nor the Government.
– The honorable member for Melbourne has shown that there is no difficulty in manufacturing insecticides here ; and, as a matter of fact, I hold in my hand a list of twenty-one manufacturers in Victoria alone. I do not know how many more there are in the Commonwealth,; but they are not doing great business, in view of the fact that the value of the importations increased from £29,611 in 1903 to over ,£52,000 in 1906. I may say that I have been over the establishment of the well-known manufacturing chemists, Messrs. Faulding and Company, of Adelaide, and, in answer to- inquiries, I was informed that they could undoubtedly produce the articles now under discussion, but that they had to contend against a certain prejudice.
– The honorable member surely did not expect . Messrs. Faulding and Company to “ give away “ their own business?
– Of course not ; but the best reply to the right honorable member is thatI discovered that the customers of the firm keep on using their manufactures, in preference to the imported articles.
– The honorable member’s argument is sufficiently strong against a duty.
– My argument is that the manufacturers in Great Britain have to import the raw material from Austria, and the manufacturers of Australia can do the same.
– I beiieve these flowers can be cultivated here.
– I do not think there is any doubt on that point.
– Then why are they not cultivated ?
– Because we are too small a people to do everything, though we are doing very well, seeing that we do a greater trade, as a whole, than any community of our size on the face of the earth.
– Why should the consumer pav a big price in the meantime?
– It does not follow that the consumer will have to pay a big price. South Australia is doing onefifth of this trade of the Commonwealth ; and it is possible that in the other States these flowers may be grown. In any case, it has been proved that the Australian manufacturers can do exactly what the British manufacturers do.
– There is no dutv in Great Britain.
– But if these commodities can be manufactured here, why should we import over , £50,000 worth? The bulk -of the duty is collected on the importations of the manufactured article.
– The proposal is to admit free this powder in 28-lb. tins.
– That only refers to the powder. Does the honorable’ member suggest that there is any more difficulty in Australia than there is in England in making up these powders?
– Not in the least, and, therefore, there is no need for a duty.
– The leader of the Opposition was- apparently under the impression that there was very little of this manufacture being carried on in Australia; but I think I have shown otherwise, and, that being so, I am sure the Treasurer will not consent to admit insecticides free.
.- This item when it left the House of Representatives was free.
– It was originally introduced by the Government as free.
– Exactly. The honorable member for Hindmarsh complains on behalf of certain alleged manufacturers, but, do what he may, a major portion of these preparations must come in free. I. shall support the proposal not to delete the word “insecticides”; and I shall further sup-, port any proposal to disagree with the deletion of the word “ disinfectants.” The “’ poor struggling pastoralist,” with his 50,000 or 200,000 sheep, would otherwise get his sheepwash in free, while the rich man, in the small houses of Collingwood, Fitzroy, or Woolloomooloo, would -have to pay 25 and 30 per cent, on what he requires for the purposes of sanitation.
– If the duty be made 25. per cent, all round, that will meet the case.
– Such a proposal cannot be made, because the Senate has not touched some of the articles. In any case, if that be the intention, I shall move that the item be free. I think that the appeal made by the honorable member for Corangamite, from the point of view of sanitation, ought to be sufficient to warrant our making -this item free.
– I desire to withdraw my motion, with a view to moving that the whole be made dutiable at 25 per cent.
– I point out that there is already before the Committee a modification that the word “ insecticides “ be not deleted. That must be first disposed of.
.- I should like to see all these articles placed on the free list. No case has been made out why they should receive protection. The great interests in which these preparations are used demand more attention at our hands than does the question of providing employment for a few’ individuals in our cities. As a matter of fact, it would not require many hands to manufacture sufficient disinfectants to sup- ply the needs of the whole Commonwealth. I ask the Committee who will be chiefly affected by this duty? Unquestionably, it will be the poorer classes of the community. The public health demands that we should enable our people to procure disinfectants of the best quality at the lowest possible price.’ Further, if we impose a heavy duty upon these articles, we shall “ hit “ the hospitals.
– How can we “ hit “ them if they use the local article?
– But perhaps the local article may npt be the best upon the market. Then the question of freight arises. The freight charges upon these articles by the ordinary cargo vessels in itself confers upon the local manufacturer a natural protection of is. 4d. per gallon.
It seems to me that we have now reached a stage when we are disposed to forget what we have done previously. We appear to ignore the fact that a Royal Commission was appointed at the cost of many thousands of pounds to investigate the operation of the first Commonwealth Tariff. The Government, too, in their desire to tax everything that is used by the producers, seem to forget their original proposals. Ever since the Commonwealth was established, insecticides, sheep washes, and disinfectants, have been admitted free. But now, on account of a decision of the Senate - I believe by a very narrow majority - they are prepared to levy a heavy duty upon these articles. It has been clearly shown that the product from which insecticides are manufactured is not grown in Australia. If there is one thing more than another that we must deplore, it is the number of insect pests to be found in the Commonwealth. The man who makes his living from the soil is at constant war with pests of all descriptions, and insecticides are a valuable aid to him in that connexion. Similarly, we ought not to place any embargo upon disinfectants. I hope that the Committee will not do anything adverse to the interests of our producers. I have received a number of letters from my own State, intimating that the imposition of a tax upon any of these articles will have a very injurious effect. I shall not be able to support the Government in departing from the proposal which they originally submitted to this Committee, and from the recommendation of the Tariff Commission.
.- It is only in accordance with the fitness of things that honorable members who carried a tax upon tombstones should now support a tax upon hospitals. I desire to’ point out that the Tariff Commission recommended that this item should be placed upon the free list, that the Government originally adopted their recommendation, and that this Committee also agreed to it. Yet the Treasurer now exhibits a complete change of front. I need scarcely remind honorable members that locally-made disinfectant is already sold at half the price of the imported article, and consequently there is no need to extend to it any protection whatever. It is, so I am informed by chemical experts, a very inferior article, and, therefore, not nearly as effective as are the imported standard brands. Further, more than two-thirds of the imported disinfectants are put up by local labour in locally-made tins and bottles, and the labels attached to them are printed locally. Consequently, these importations provide a considerable amount of employment. As a matter of fact, I am informed, the cost of the labour thus employed amounts to twothirds of their entire selling cost. Except as regards sheep dips and cattle washes, which comprise about 80 per cent, of the total importations, the importation of disinfectants has recently declined. The honorable member for Wilmot has already referred to the fact that these disinfectants enjoy a very high measure of natural protection
– It costs more to send them from Melbourne to Perth than it does te send them from London to Melbourne.
– The honorable member for Wilmot has shown that they enjoy a very considerable natural protection. The freight charges are 85 per cent, higher per cargo steamer than they are for ordinary cargo, namely, 65s. as against 35s. per ton- Upon a 40-gallon cask this works out at 7d. per gallon, and upon a 5-gallon drum at 11½d. per gallon. A communication which has reached me contains the following: -
The difference in the Home cost of the 5-gallon drum, 3s. 6d. each (subsequently sold here for use at is. 6d. each), a difference of 5d. per gallon plus 11½d. gives the local manufacturer is. 4½d. per gallon protection.
But on the ground of the public health alone, I* maintain that we should endeavour to make these articles as cheap as possible. I hold in my hand a table of bacteriological tests to which various disinfectants were subjected, and I find that the most efficient is cyllin (medical) Jves, which, upon a B. typhosus organism was found to be twenty times stronger than <pure carbolic acid. The other disinfectants included perchloride of mercury, cyllin creolin, lysol, Pearson’s antiseptic, zotal, bactox, carbolic acid, lozar formalin,, chinosol, chloride of zinc, lysoform, and listerine. These were found to possess carbolic acid co-efficient’s ranging from 20.0 t’.j nil.
– :Are those Australian disinfectants ?
– I am speaking of all disinfectants’ included in the list of tests supplied to me. The country of origin is not stated.
– Which came out the better ?
– Jeyes is at the head of the list I have read. And I am informed that the cheaper kinds of locally-produced disinfectants are practically useless, because of the adulteration which takes place, and, perhaps, because of the lack of experience of local manufacturers.- It is essential that the disinfectants used in our hospitals and elsewhere shall be of the best quality, and obtainable as cheaply as possible. Therefore, I shall vote for the first proposal of the Government, namely, to- make disinfectants and insecticides free.
. - The honorable member for Lang speaks of disinfectants having been sold at half price, and would lead the Committee to believe that all Australian disinfectants are sold at half price, and, consequently, are inferior. I would point out . that inferior lines of both imported and locally-made articles can be obtained. As for the tests’ which he has quoted. I am informed that recent tests by Dr. Bull, M.D., B.S., Director of the Bacteriological Laboratory at the Melbourne University, have proved beyond doubt that phenyle of Australian manufacture is quite equal in co-efficiency and quality to the best imported. What better authority than Dr. Bull can we have? According to the Opposition, no Australian maker is capable of producing anything good, and we must depend on foreigners for everything.
– Does the honorable member speak of English people as foreigners?
– Our workmen and manufacturers must be protected against the competition of the people of Great Britain as much as against the competition of those of other countries, though I prefer ‘ that goods which we do not manufacture shall be imported from the Old Country rather than from other parts of the world. We are as well able to manufacture disinfectants and insecticides as are the people of Great Britain, Europe, or America, and the members of the Opposition should show that they have some faith in their own country. The testimonial to which I have referred should induce the Committee to give protection to an industry which will hold its own against outside competition.
.- The ‘ honorable member for Hindmarsh has favoured us with one of his diatribes against members of the Opposition, because he did not catch the argument of the honorable member for Lang.
– There was no argument.
– The Treasurer is so sunk in ignorance and prejudice that he is not open to argument. What the honorable member for Lang said was that disinfectants were of different qualities,
– He sneered at the Australian article.
– - Rubbish !
– He pointed out that imported disinfectants sell for nearly twice as much as those which are locally made, showing conclusively that the imported article is bought, either because of the prejudice against the locally made, or because it is better, and that there is no need for the proposed protection. Australia should fall into line with the other countries of the world by allowing disinfectants and insecticides to be admitted free. In New South Wales, the Government,, and many municipal councils, distribute disinfectants free to householders, to encourage their use, in the interests of the public health. Therefore, we should make this article as cheap as possible.
– Are insecticides distributed free?
– No doubt many municipal authorities would distribute insecticide, too, if applied to. The Government proposes to allow 28-lb. packets of insecticides to come in free, and to make dutiable anything imported in smaller quantities. That seems to me an unworthy proposal. The packing into smaller parcels is a mere bagatelle, and gives opportunities for adulteration. I wish also to emphasize the point made by the honorable member for Wentworth, that the; fruit-growers of Australia should be studied. They have all they can do to make ends meet. It is not the pastoralists, but the fruit-growers, who have the greatest struggle, yet sheep dips and cattle dips are free while the insecticides and disinfectants are made dutiable. Every kind of fruit is. attacked by its own particular pest, and most of them by more than one-
– They are imported articles.
– A great many of these diseases have been imported.
– Most of them have been imported.
– If that be so, surely we ought to give the fruit-grower a chance to fight them with imported remedies. The Governments of the States compel the fruit-growers to combat these pests, and are doing all they can to assist them in the fight, and we ought to further their efforts by making disinfectants and insecticides free.
– On looking at the tests referred to by the honorable member for Lang, I find them to be English tests, whereas that which I read was a Melbourne test. Under the Victorian Pure Foods and Drugs Act, all disinfectants have to be tested, and the results printed on their labels. I have seen nothing to indicate that they are not what they are represented to be.
– I gave the opinions of medical men whom I have consulted about the matter.
– The honorable member did not give us tests of Australianmade disinfectants. If* the locally-made article were what the honorable member stated, customers would not be found for it, because the facts would be set out on the labels. Although generalities have been indulged in by members of the Opposition, no evidence has been brought forward to show that Australian-made disinfectants are not equal to those made elsewhere.
.- The tests I gave were those of Mr. J. S. Ainslie Walker, joint author of the Standardization of Disinfectants, and, as such, are worthy of every consideration. I do not know the result of Melbourne tests of Australian disinfectants; the information I gave was merely to show that there are recognised brands, which have gained the highest marks as possessing the. greatest disinfecting power. Like the honorable member for Hindmarsh, I have to rely on the information of experts - medical gentlemen and others - who ought to know more about these things than mere laymen.
– Did not the honorable member say that Australian disinfectants were tested ?
– I say that I have been informed by those in a position to know that Australian disinfectants generally in use are not equal to the best imported brands.
– I asked the honorable member a direct question, and he replied that the Australian disinfectants, when tested, came out worse than the English disinfectants.
– That is the opinion of the medical men whom I have consulted about the matter.
– The honorable member was at the time speaking of the tests which had been made. He does not like to be caught.
– I resent the Minister’s language, and shall not allow him to force statements into my mouth. If, in the confusion caused by a bombardment of interjections, I made a slip, I am not going to be pinned down to it. I say that, from information which I have received, ‘I have reason to believe that the best imported English disinfectants are far and away ahead of the cheaper brands made in Australia. I was quoting the tests of the various disinfectants, whose names I gave. None of us, except medical men or scientists, can profess to be experts, and we have to rely on such information as we are able to gather from the best sources available to us. I have put before the Committee the information that I have been able to obtain, and I am entitled to do that just as the honorable member who interjects is entitled to give what information he obtains from any source.
– I am willing to concede that these disinfectants are of equal value. If they are not effective, they will not find, any buyers. The effect of these proposed duties of 25 and 15 per cent, would be to increase; prices to that extent. The honorable member for Bourke smiles .as if he’ were an innocent. Does he not know that the object df protection is to give local manufacturers a margin on which to work upon the ground that the cost of production here is in many cases more than elsewhere? The Government are seeking to increase the prices of these imports by 25 per cent. If the foreigner does not pay the duty-, then the consumer must do so. The prices of local productions will also be in: creased if these duties be imposed. Sheepwashes are free. It is proposed to impose heavy duties on disinfectants and insecticides n.e.i. We must not forget that manymen make sheep-dips from disinfectants, and that washes so prepared are just as effective as are many that are put up and sold under various names. Undoubtedly, the intention of the Government in supporting this request is to increase the cost to the consumer. Their policy is to tax the producer.
– The honorable member knows nothing about the matter.
– I am glad to find that the honorable member disagrees with me. If honorable members desire to improve our staple products, they will make these articles as cheap as possible to the. consumer. Some honorable members think that the item is a comparativelytrivial one. As a matter of fact, millions of sheep and cattle are treated with these materials, and the imposition of these duties will mean that the producers will have to pay into the revenue an enormous sum.
– Go on !
– I am in no hurry. I am tired of the “ stone- walling “ that has been going on during the whole of this week, while the Government have been buttonholing those honorable members who have not made up their minds with regard to another subject.
– Is the honorable member helping us?
– I am not.
– Then why is he “ stone- wal ling “ ?
– I am putting in a timely word for the free introduction of disinfectants and insecticides. It seems useless, however, to discuss this question. Honorable, members in the corner-
Mr.Groom. - Which corner?
– The Opposition corner, from which the Government obtained their policy. This Tariff, whatever it is, has been moulded by the party in the Opposition corner. Its proper place is behind the Government, which is doing its bidding. No reason has been given why these duties should be imposed. Those who are the least able to pay them will suffer the most, and I trust that the Committee will reject the Senate’s request.
– The honorable member for Robertson represented a few nights ago that an Adelaide firm had not a foundry, although it has possessed one for thirty years. His information in regard to the prices of insecticides, and disinfectants is of precisely the same value. I know that he is sorry for what he said the other night, and he ought to be sorry for what he has said as to what will be the effect of these duties on the poor users of insecticides and disinfectants. Little’s English phenyle is sold to-day in Victoria at 5s. 2d. per dozen, whereas McKellan and Ramsay’s phenyle - a local production - is sold at 3s. 6d. per dozen.
– That proves that the local manufacturers do not need these duties.
– It does not. Dr. Bull, of the Melbourne University, has given a testimonial - which appears on the labels placed on McKellan and Ramsay’s bottles - to the effect that their phenyle is as good as that manufactured by Little. That, I think, entirely disposes of the honorable member for Robertson’s argument.
– If the local article is equal to the imported article, what have the local manufacturers to fear ? The honorable member for Hindmarsh, who is given to making manyspeeches, has clearly proved that the local industry required no protection. He is an innocent who swallows whatever is dished up to him. Phenol could be produced in the ‘honorable member’s, constituency ; he might find it growing on the banks of the Torrens River for miles.
– What is meant is phenyl.
– Perhaps the honorable member’s bad pronunciation has led to the mistake. However, it is the article from which insecticides are extracted, and it is the smell rather than anything else that that makes it effective. It is not a poison ; those insecticides which are poison-, ous are composed of poisonous material imported into the country. These can be compounded just as cheaply as they can be imported.
– I think the general wish is to take a test vote in regard to the. word ‘ insecticides,” and, in order to facilitate matters, I ask leave, on behalf of the Treasurer, to withdraw the motion.
– The honorable member for Corangamite has already moved a modification which will have exactly the same effect.
– The Government desire to modify their proposal, and, consequently, I desire to withdraw the motion now before the Committee. . We desire to assist honorable members to test the question on the word “ insecticide.”
– Then we shall not help you.
– Does the right honorable member mean that he objects ?
– We desire to leave matters as they are.
– However, I ask leave to withdraw the motion.
– Before the motion can be withdrawn, the honorable member for Corangamite will have to withdraw his amendment.
– Perhaps the honorable member will agree to do so.
– If we take a vote on. the Treasurer’s motion, will it be open to afterwards propose to retain the word “ dis- . infectants “ ?
– We are not dealing with that matter at the present time; we must first dispose of the amendment proposed.
– I intimated previously that I desired to withdraw my motion, but, of course, if the honorable member for Corangamite will not withdraw his amendment, I can go no further; though I must say that I do not regard his refusal as good taste on his part. If his amendment is rejected, I desire to know whether I shall be’ able to move later that the whole be made subject to a duty of 25 per cent. ?
– I will inform the honorable gentleman when the contingency arises.
Question - That the proposed modification (Mr. Wilson’s) leaving the word “Insecticides” out of the requested amendment upon item 284 (Insecticides, &c.) be made - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed modification negatived.
Sir William Lyne. - Yes.
.- When the Tariff was previously under consideration in this Committee, sheep washes were placed upon the free list. The Treasurer now desires to make them dutiable.
– That was suggested by the leader of the Opposition.
– That is a most unfair statement of the Treasurer to make.
– It is on a par with the statement he made this afternoon, and which he had to withdraw.
– I wish to take your ruling, sir, as to whether it is- competent for the Treasurer to move that sheep washes be made dutiable?
-I have, not moved in that direction yet.
– Then I wish to move that after the word ‘ ‘ washes “ the words “ In fluid or in powdered form,” which are taken from the New Zealand Tariff, be inserted.
– If the honorable member will defer his proposal for a little while, I think that I shall be able to meet him.
Question - That the requested amendment’s in paragraph a, item 284, (Insecticides, &c), be made - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … 3
In division :
– He is quite at liberty to do so, if he so desires.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Requested amendments not made.
.- I understand that the position now is that the item reads -
Insecticides, Sheep Washes, and Disinfectants, n.e.i., free.
– The paragraph is now in the form, in which it was sent up to the Senate.
– Is it competent for the Treasurer to move that sheep washes and disinfectants, n.e.i., shall be made dutiable ?
– There is no motion’ to that effect before me, and I am not going to rule upon a hypothetical case.
– I now desire to include cattle and horse washes in the proposed paragraph b of this item.
– Will not the letters “ n.e.i.” in that paragraph cover cattle and horse washes?
– Perhaps they will.
– I would point out to the Treasurer that I cannot accept the motion which he desires to move. The Committee has already decided that the requested amendments of the Senate in paragraph a shall not be’ made.
– I wish to make a personal explanation regarding the vote which I gave on the division just taken. As the Chairman stated the question, he said that the proposal of the Treasurer embraced the Senate’s requests in paragraph a. That was the question on which I voted.
Item 287. Chemical Compounds and Simple Drugs, free.
Request. - Insert after” Compounds “ the letters, “n.e.i.”
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the requested amendment be made.
– The Committee has decided, that insecticides, sheep washes and. disinfectants, n.e.i., shall be admitted free, but I suggest that we might still make paragraph b, insecticides and disinfectants, leavingout n.e.i., dutiable at 25 per cent. You, sir, have ruled that’ the Committee has decided to make insecticides and disinfectants free. But do you rule that it is not in order to move that the duty on insecticides and disinfectants, leaving out n.e.i., be 25 per cent. ?
– The Committee, by negativing the Treasurer’s motion, made insecticides and disinfectants free, and I then ruled that it was not competent to move any further amendment in regard to them. Item 287 is now before the Committee.
– I understood that the vote of the Committee related only to the requested amendments of the Senate in paragraph a, and that the new paragraph b, proposed to be inserted by the Senate was to be voted on subsequently. I intended to move an amendment regarding insecticides, which the Government had proposed to accept, and . which would have “had the support of the honorable member for Kooyong.
– The Committee having negatived the proposal to make the Senate’s amendments in paragraph a of item 284, decided that insecticides and disinfectants should be free. The question, therefore, cannot be reopened.
Motion agreed to.
Requested amendment made.
Item 290. Tartaric Acid, Cream of Tartar, and Citric Acid,- ad val. (General Tariff), 5 per cent. ; and on and after 5th December, 1907, free.; (United Kingdom), free.
Request. - Make the duty (General Tariff) 5 per cent.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the requested amendment be made.
– Tartaric acid is a raw material used very largely throughout Australia, and not made in the Commonwealth or the United Kingdom, our supplies coming entirely from foreign countries. In the interests of small manufacturers, I ask, therefore, that it be free.
– Five per - cent, is not a protective duty.
Requested amendment not made.
Requested amendments in item 295 (Perfumery), and in item 296 (Unrefined Glycerine, &c), made.
And on and after 5th December, 1907 -
Item 299. Furniture, n.e.i., including any article of wood or partly of wood, wholly or partly made up or finished and used in any building or premises, including hospitals; also Show Figures of all kinds, ad val. (General Tariff), 35 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), 25 per cent.
Request. - Make the duty (United Kingdom) 30 per cent.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) put -
That the requested amendment be made.
The Committee divided.
Majority … … 2.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Requested amendment made.
And on after 5th December, 1907 -
Item 299. Furniture, n.e.i., &c.
Request. - Before “ Furniture “ insert the letter “ (a).” Insert the following new paragraph : -
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the requested amendment be made.
.- Surely the Treasurer does not. propose to agree to an ad valorem duty of 45 per cent, on invalids’ lounges?
– The duty may be only ios. per lounge or settee.
– In some cases, the duty of ios. will be an impost of more than 100 per cent. These articles are used very largely by invalids, and I do not think that such a high duty should be imposed.
– Apart from the objection which has been raised by the leader of the Opposition, I should like to ask the Treasurer whether he is satisfied that the furniture which we expressly relieved from these high fixed duties will not be brought under the item if the request be agreed to. The proposed new paragraph will cover couches and lounges constructed not wholly of cane. I am satisfied that the Department will so construe it. Austrian cane couches, for instance, are made partly of wood, and the backs of Chinese cane chairs and lounges are supported by wood. The Department of Trade and Customs has power to charge the higher duty where there is any doubt as to the rate that should be imposed.
– When I was in the East I did not see a cane chair in which wood was used.
– Many couches and chairs imported from the East are made partly of wood and partly of cane. Austrian couches have cane backs and cane seats, and comparatively little wood is used in their construction. I do not think that these high duties are necessary or desirable, and I ask the Treasurer if he insists upon supporting the- request to agree, at least, to a modification that will make it clear that the item will not cover the class of furniture ‘ which we have already freed from heavy fixed duties?
– The honorable member is referring to Austrian chairs and couches.
– Yes j and others which consist for the most part of cane.
– The request is intended t> apply chiefly to couches and lounges made of bamboo or cane which are imported from the East.
– I know what is the intention, but I do not think that chairs in which wood is used will be excluded from the item.
– Could we not agree to a modification specially excepting Austrian chairs and couches?
– We also import from America couches and chairs made largely of cane, but in which wood is also employed.
– It is not intended that chairs with wooden frames such as the honorable member has described shall be dutiable under this item.
– Then will the honorable member agree to a modification inserting the words “ without wooden frames ‘ ‘ ?
– But we might go teo far by making such a modification. Some wood might be used in the construction of the lounges and settees intended to bc covered by this request. If I assure the honorable member that Austrian chairs and couches consisting principally of wood will not be made dutiable under this item, that should be sufficient.
– That is all very well. We have this assurance by the Minister, at the instance of an officer, but we have no assurance that the decision will continue to be observed. .We must take ordinary precautions to se.e that our proposals express exactly what we mean. I submit that duties of 40 per cent, and 30 per cent, are sufficiently high ; but before I vote against the proposal made, I ask the Treasurer to make it clear that the couches and chairs which were specially exempted will not be included.
– The honorable member for North Sydney need have no apprehensions. The articles which this item is intended to cover are those which come from Japan, the Straits Settlements, and China, and the A section of the Tariff Commission had them in their mind when the duties were recommended which were originally introduced by the Government. I have here a piece of imported bamboo, which is riddled by insects, and the honorable member for Melbourne, who has had a trip to the East, knows exactly what the position is there. Some objection has been raised to lobbying ; and I may say that the samples of wood I have in my possession were not supplied by any manufacturer, but by the secretary of the wicker- workers’ trades union. Here is a piece of Australian blackwood, covered with pith, which insects will not touch. These insects, imported from the East, get into the furniture already in use in Australia : and I know a gentleman, into whose piano these insects got from some of the imported chairs or settees. He promptly rushed the instrument into an auction room ; and it was not long before it was in the auction room again. There is hardly an honorable member, I suppose, but who has had an experience of the ravages of these insects in furniture ; and, as has already been pointed out, the willow industry of Tasmania has, from this cause, been absolutely ruined. Mr. French, the Government Entomologist of Victoria, who, of course, is unbiased, is very strongly against the Importation of furniture which carries these insects ; and I urge upon honorable members the necessity for imposing a high duty, so as to prevent, as far as possible, these insects from coming in. Those who are in favour of a White Australia ought not to be in favour of the importation of this furniture from the East.
– How much comes from the East ?
– Practically the whole of the wicker and pith furniture imported into Australia comes from Japan, the Straits Settlements., and Hong Kong.
– How much comes from the East?
– I have not the figures by me, but the evidence of witnesses from every State was in the minds of the A section of the Tariff Commission when the duties were recommended. I do not think that this proposed duty would affect the Austrian bentwood furniture, which is made wholly of wood, with a cane seat ; it is the bamboo and. wicker furniture from the East that we desire to keep out.
– Do these insects destroy colonial furniture?
– Then the honorable member ought to advocate Their importation, as good for trade. More furniture, would have to be made, and Australian trade would flourish !
– I should not suggest a bonus on the destruction of any commodities. It is a fact, however, that these insects have destroyed the willow industry in Tasmania, which, I believe, was -very thriving at One time ; and therefore I hope that a high rate of duty will be imposed.
– I desire to interpose for a moment in order to make a personal explanation. For the division before the last I had promised to pair the honorable member for Herbert with the honorable member for West Sydney. I have discovered that, in the excitement and confusion, I overlooked giving a pair to the honorable member for West Sydney. I am very sorry that this should have occurred, and I desire to explain that the mistake arose from pure inadvertence.
– The honorable member for Yarra has emphasized the awful calamities which are caused to Australia by the importation of furniture from the East.
– By the importation of the borer insect.
– If the borer is in question, we ought to prohibit its coming into the country; but first let it be proved that the borer is doing the damage alleged.
– There is no doubt about it.
– I venture to say that there is more than the borer in question. The honorable member for Yarra said that all this wicker and bamboo furniture came from the East, and, when 1 asked- him how much came, he simply repeated that all came. I find from the figures, however, that the total consumption of furniture is valued at about , £2,000,000 per annum. Of that value we imported from Japan last year , £1,ooo worth, from China , £1,500 worth, and from the Straits Settlements . £900 worth. Altogether, we imported . £3,800 worth of this furniture last year. Australia will be ruined if we continue at that rate. The value of our importations in this connexion represents a little over one-tenth of 1 per cent, of the total, furniture consumed in Australia.
– The willow industry will be destroyed.
– Then other action than that of taxation should be adopted to foster that industry. It is absurd to increase’ this duty in the way that is now proposed.
– Icannot but admire the childlike and bland way in which the, honorable member for Yarra accepts the statement of the Treasurer.
– It is not my statement.
– Then it is the statement of the Customs officers, which is a thousand times worse. During the past three months I have had a little experience of the way in which those officers can stretch their imaginations in interpreting this Tariff. I know perfectly well what they will do if- they possibly can. Their idea is to get at the public every time. In reference to one item, I brought under their notice the statement of the Treasurer, as recorded in’ Hansard, but they told me that they could take no notice of that, and that they must interpret the Tariff as they found it. Let us embody our desires in this schedule. I intend to move that the words “ except Austrian Chairs “ be inserted after the word “ Cane,” unless the Treasurer agrees to the insertion of the words already suggested.
– I beg leave to amend my motion so that it will read -
That the requested amendment be . made with the following modification : - After the word “ Cane “ insert the words “ but not including those of cane with wooden frames.”
Motion, by leave, amended accordingly.
.- Iregard the amendment as altogether unnecessary. . Anybody who possesses a knowledge of furniture must recognise that the defini: tion contained in paragraph b of this item is a plain one. Furniture made of wicker, bamboo, or cane, does not include Austrian, Canadian, or English chairs.
– Many of those chairs are called “ cane “ chairs.
– As far as I know, our Customs officers exercise a certain amount of intelligence, and if they did not thev should be dismissed from the service.
.- I really do not see any necessity for the insertion of these words. In my judgment, furniture imported from Austria, America, or England, portions of which are made of cane or wood, would be dutiable under item 299.
Requested amendment in wording as modified agreed to.
– The proposal now made is that these goods, shall not “be allowed in at a lower duty than 45 per cent. The cost of such articles as settees and lounges of wicker, . bamboo, or cane, made in the East, is only about£5 5s., for a set of eight pieces. This duty of 10s. each would be equivalent to more than 100 per cent, upon such articles. As the Minister says that he does not desire a duty of more than 45 per cent., I make the suggestion that the amount of 10s. should be reduced to 5s. Will the Treasurer accept that suggestion, or does he wish to clap a duty of 100 per cent, on goods of this description?
– I wish to collect what the Senate desire to have collected.
– The Senate say, “ Whichever rate returns, the higher duty.” There is no doubt that the duty of 10s. would be higher, because this description of furniture is very inexpensive.
.- The honorable member for Robertson says that . the duty proposed would amount to 100 per cent. But is he aware of the wages paid in the East? The wages in Japan are higher than those in China ; but even in Japan a man for a day’s work of twelve hours receives only1s. 2½d. In Melbourne, under the Factories Act, a cabinetmaker is paid 8s. for a day’s work of eight hours. So that the wages paid here are 600 per cent, higher than those paid in Japan. The honorable member for Parramatta has alluded to the small quantity of this description of furniture that is imported. It is small if we take the money value of it; but I ask honorable members to remember the destructive character of the . insect which is so frequently introduced in bamboo furniture.
– The insects do not necessarily come in the imported furniture.
- Mr. French, the Victorian Entomologist, whose name has attained world-wide fame, says that the insect is a native of Japan. Twenty years ago it was quite unknown in this country, but at the present time it is quite common. If a piece of wicker furniture from Hong Kong or Japan is introduced into a house, within eighteen months or two years the ravages of the insect will be noticed.
– It will not eat cane, though it destroys willow.
– I quite agree that at the present time the insect does not attack cane ; but if the cane is placed betweenpieces of bamboo or of ‘ willow, the insect will go through it. I support the proposition of the Treasurer.
– The duty of 10s. proposed by the Treasurer seems to me to be inordinately high. I have never heard about the ravages of. the insect which has been referred to, although I have used wicker furniture for years in my home in Western Australia.
– It is a tremendous insect whenever a Tariff is under discussion !
– But, apart from, the alleged ravages of this insect, what reason is there for a prohibitive duty ? To tell me that 10s. is a fair . duty to put on a wicker chair, is to make an assertion which I cannot believe. _ The duty is extravagant, and I am surprised and disgusted that such a proposition should be made in regard to articles of such common use: Wicker furniture is very generally in use in the tropical parts of Australia, and is to be found in the homes of people who cannot afford to pay high’ prices for wood furniture. It is used on the score of economy’ as well as comfort. I suppose that all of us- have bought it in our time.
– People can get cheaper furniture than cane furniture in this country.
– I do not think that- they can, or as comfortable, in the tropics.
Question - That the requested, amendment imposing the proposed duties be made - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion- agreed to.
Requested amendment, imposing the proposed duties, made.
And on and after 5th December, 1907 -
Item 299. Furniture, n.e.i., &c. : -
Request. - Insert new paragraph -
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) put -
That the requested amendment be made, with the modification inserting after the word “Cane” the words “ but not including those of cane with wooden frames.”
The Committee divided.
Majority … …. 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.
Requested amendment, as modified, made .
House adjourned at 11.20 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 7 May 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1908/19080507_reps_3_46/>.