3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– The following paragraph was published in a recent issue of the
In regard to the system of giving officers in the Telegraph Department their Sunday pay by a day off, in lieu of cash, as mentioned in Saturday’s Herald, the Postmaster-General, Mr. Mauger, states that he long ago issued instructions that the system was to be discontinued. His order is now in force in Victoria, and should be all over the States.
Is the Postmaster- General aware that the order which he issued sometime ago, to apply uniformly throughout the Commonwealth, is being disregarded so far as Sydney is concerned?
– At the time of my recent visit to Sydney, the instruction which I had issued was not being observed there ; but I have taken steps to bring about its observance hereafter.
– Referring to the rumours current in England, that foreign firms are manufacturing and sending to Australia guns which are imitations of well-known English makes, is the Minister of Trade and Customs aware if that is being done? Has he been informed by his officials that such guns have been imported ?
– The matter is receiving close attention by the Department. It is believed that something of the kind referred to is taking place, and when we are certain, we shall take steps to prevent it.
– Will the Minister refer to the matter later on ?
-I shall be glad to let the honorable member know the result of the investigation.
– I ask the Treasurer, without notice, whether, in order to carry out the proposals which, on behalf of the Government, he has submitted to the
Premiers’ Conference, it will not be necessary to obtain the amendment of sections 94 and 105 of the Constitution?
– In consultation with the Prime Minister, I became aware that to give effect to the scheme it would be necessary to propose the amendment of the Constitution, and asked the assistance of the Premiers to bring that about should the scheme be adopted. That statement, almost in its entirety, was made to the Conference by the Prime Minister.
– I desire to ask the Treasurer whether, in view of the fact that a general discussion is taking place in the Premiers’ Conference upon the proposals of the Government for adjusting the future financial relations of the States to the Commonwealth, and that these proposals can have no effect unless they are approved by a majority of this Parliament, he will afford us an early opportunity of expressing an opinion upon the scheme outlined by the Prime Minister?
– Everything will depend upon the action taken by the States Premiers as to whether the proposal will be submitted to Parliament immediately or not. But certainly it cannot be so submitted until we have dealt with the questions which are now before us.
– Put it in the Museum.
– The honorable member would look well beside it.
– As I have not been able, from a casual perusal of the Prime Minister’s scheme, to ascertain whether the £6, 000,000 which it is proposed to return annually to the States is to be returned perpetually or whether it is only to be continued for a limited time - say, for thirty-five years- I desire to ask the Treasurer what the position really is.
– The £6,000,000 is not intended to be returned to the States annually for all time.
– It will be returned to them so long as the debts remain in existence.
– It will not be continued . after the redemption of the debts.
– Seeing that it has been reported in the press that the financial scheme put forward by the Prime Minister is that formulated by the honorable member for Mernda., I desire to ask the Treasurer whether he is aware that the
Government officials at the Treasury simply “ riddled “ that scheme when, it was first propounded ?
– I was not aware that the Treasury officials “riddled” the scheme put forward by the honorable member for Mernda. I think that his scheme represents ari attempt to do something which is very difficult, and to do it fairly. The Government scheme is largely, based upon that which was put forward by the honorable member. It embodies a few variations, but, personally, I give the honorable member for Mernda every credit for the work which he has performed. I go further, and, on behalf of the Government, thank him for doing all that he possibly could to assist them in the settlement of this most intricate question.
– With reference to the statement made by the Treasurer yesterday, afterwards withdrawn, that an American Trust, known as the Standard Oil Company, had acquired am improper influence over honorable members in connexion with an item in the Tariff relating to kerosene - the statement arising out of something said by the Minister of Trade and Customs to the Treasurer, which, though not intended for publication, was made public, to the effect that a’ certain decision of the Committee in connexion with the item would be a victory for the trust - whereupon the Committee decided ro postpone the further consideration of the item, and with reference also to the fact that direct charges of the bribery and corruption qf members bv the company in connexion with this item, previously made by persons outside, were thereby revived, I ask the Treasurer, as representing the Prime Minister - whom I know to be unavoidably absent - whether he will take into his immediate consideration ‘ the desirability of making either independently or by means of the joint Committee appointed by Parliament, as a result of the direct charges, an investigation into the truth of the allegations? The dominating desire in my mind is. not to bring about the punishment of persons who have made statements reflecting on Parliament, but to give an opportunity to them to justify what they have published, and, if they cannot do so, to allow the character of Parliament to be cleared of the aspersions.
– With reference to what the right honorable gentleman has said about charges made yesterday, my reply is that none were intended to be made.
– At any rate, they were withdrawn.
– No charges were intended to be made.
– Why does the Treasurer keep saying that? Charges were made.
– Unless the House itself wants an investigation into the matter, I do not think it of sufficient importance to justify any action. As for the rumours which the right honorable gentleman says were revived, I understand that their investigation has been referred to a Joint Committee. I do not think that I shall see the Prime Minister before Monday, but I shall consult him about the other matter when I meet him, and if he thinks that what transpired yesterday is of sufficient importance to be referred to the Joint Committee, or to be inquired into in any other way, I shall agree to that course- Personally, I am strongly of the opinion that a mountain has been made of a molehill. No imputation of any kind was intended last night.
– At any rate, what was said was offensive.
– I withdrew at once what I said.
– I do not desire to dwell on that. I think more of the direct charges made outside.
– They came from two sources, I think, and I believe have been referred to the Joint Committee. I am- sorry that they have not yet been dealt with.
– I suppose that the Prime Minister will make a statement about the matter on Tuesday ?
– I am sure that he will. I shall consult him about it, and anything that honorable members may desire will be done. I do not pay any attention myself to the rumours and repetitions, and the distorted reports of what I said last night, which appear in the press this morning. No one, I am sure, has the slightest wish to make any imputation reflecting on the honour of honorable members. I have made none.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. In a leader in this morning’s Age, I am referred to as having made a statement about certainprotectionists in this House. That is utterly false. I have not made such a statement, nor have I had in my mind the opinion which it embodies.
– The fact that the statement appears in the Age should be its refutation.
– I wish to read that portion of the leader of which I complain.
– Surely the honorable member does not desire that the words shall be repeated in Hansard.
– Does the honorable member think that . I am content to lie under a foul slander? As the statement has appeared in the press, surely my denial should appear in Hansard. That part of the article of which I complain reads -
But they must blame themselves that their motives have been misinterpreted in certain circles. It has always been in their power to crush the evil flow of slander at its source by denying the professional lobbyists, of whom they have good reason to complain, access to the precincts of Parliament. By postponing this course until it has been practically thrust upon them they have clone Parliament an ill turn, and at the same time they have very badly served all semi or insincere protectionists. As Mr. Page very sensibly remarked last night, those gentlemen will now be placed in a most unfortunate position should they register their votes in favour of the foreign Trust which is trying so hard to destroy the Australian industry.
I did not make such a statement, and I give the newspaper account an emphatic contradiction.
Sir WILLIAM LYNE laid upon the table the following paper : -
Papua. - Ordinances of1908 - Port dues revision.
– Has the AttorneyGeneral seen the account of a meeting of the Employers’ Federation, held yesterday, at which the honorable member for Fawkner was present, when Mr. R. S. Walpole is reported to have said -
The greatest fight that Australia had ever known would be at the elections at the end of 1909. It was a question of which class was to be top dog, and if the employers had the assistance of the farmers they would be sure to win.
– That man must be a perfect ass. He is of more value to the honorable member’s side than to any one else. I believe that he must be in the pay of the Labour Party.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral whether he advocates a class war?
– It does not seem to me that the question arises in connexion with any matter affecting the administration of my Department. The fight referred to is presumably a political contest. In my opinion, any party which attempts to participate in a class contest will carry its own condemnation.
– Hear, hear. Anything of the sort would be the greatest political evil.
– We are prepared to go into it up to our necks.
– I desire to ask the Attorney-General whether a law can be enacted to prevent any man from preaching class destruction in this country, seeing that that means the destruction of property. In the event of our being unable to prevent an incendiary of that class from preaching such a doctrine, will the Attorney-General take steps to suppress elections altogether?
– The most important part of the honorable member’s question is the last part, in which he expresses a desire that this Parliament should be made perpetual. Perhaps there is something in that suggestion which is worthy of consideration. The point involved in his suggestion is whether it is right that any individual should be allowed to advocate attacks on private property. I can understand the honorable member’s anxiety upon that score. But I am not aware that the statement in question had reference to an attempt to take property from any individual. It appears to have been a statement made on behalf of property and interests generally. The existing law sufficiently enables the authorities to deal with any individual who attempts to lead attacks on property.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. As my name has again been introduced into this matter, I wish to say that I heard what Mr. Walpole said upon the occasion referred to. That gentleman directed special attention to the fact that if the Employers’ Federation were going to do anything injurious to the working men of this country, he would not be able to co-operate with them any longer. I think that the class to which he alluded was that which is dominated by the caucus.
– I desire to point out that personal explanations are not permitted to deal with the remarks of other than honorable members themselves. Honorable members who have been’ misrepresented or misunderstood are at liberty to make a personal explanation, but they are not at liberty to do so on behalf of . persons outside of this House.
– I wish to ask the Treasurer whether he has seen an account of the meeting to which attention has been drawn, and whether he has noticed that the honorable member for Fawkner, who was chairman of the gathering, is reported to have said -
Mr. Walpole was going to take a well-earned rest. . . . Mr. Walpole was a believer in the eight-hours principle moderately applied.
I also desire to know whether in his new protection proposals, the Treasurer intends to provide definitely for the observance of the eight hours principle, or whether he purposes recognising the eight hours principle “moderately applied” ?
– Whenever I have an opportunity of doing so, I always endeavour to provide definitely for the observance of the eight hours system.
– I desire to ask the Treasurer whether he is in favour of the establishment of a National Bank?
– I really think that questions without notice should be very simple, and certainly the honorable member’s question does not come within that category. I know that a great many persons favour the establishment of a National Bank, and I want to see something approaching such an institution created, but not a bank of exchange. .
– The Treasurer wants a pawn shop.
Instruction to Customs Officers
– I desire to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs a question relating to the instruction issued by him some time ago, which enabled certain newspapers to get their imprinted British supercalendered paper, which was otherwise dutiable at 15 per cent., in free as “ news “ paper. In the answer he gave to a question which I put to him the other day, the Minister stated that the Bulletin was specifically mentioned in the instruction which I quoted, because the question was first raised in connexion with that journal. I desire to ask whether other newspapers have received a similar privilege, against the will of Parliament, under the following instruction -
Printing paper, coloured, for covers of weekly publications, and similar productions, registered for transmission through the’ post, may be deemed “news” and dealt with under item 352D under security. I may add that that instruction is dated 12th September, 1907.
– I must ask the honorable member to give notice of his question, but I may add that no newspapers have received any privilege in opposition to the will of Parliament.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Whether he is aware that the cadets taking part in the annual Empire rifle matches are not all able to get the use of the best rifle that can be used in such contests. If so, will he take steps to provide enough rifles to supply to those Commonwealth cadets who have demonstrated their proficiency, and also any other aids to excellence under his control ?
-I previously made inquiries into this matter, and found that the procedure adopted was not satisfactory. Instructions have now been issued which will remove all cause of complaint in the future.
In Committee (Consideration of Senate’s requests resumed from 7th May, vide page 11015):
Item 303. Timber, viz. : -
Timber, undressed, n.e.i., in sizes of12 inches x 6 inches (or its equivalent) and over …. per 100 super. feet (General Tariff),1s. 6d. ; and on and after 6th December 1907, 6d. . . .
Request. - Make the duty1s.
– Before I submit a motion in reference to this item, I desire to say a few words. It has been suggested - and with a good deal of forcethat the duty which has been requested uponoregon - namely,1s. per 100 superficial feet - is too high, and I have been considering whether some of the timber included in the paragraph under consideration should not be made dutiable at that rate, whilst the softer woods - especiallyoregon - should be admitted at 6d. per 100 super. feet.
– What about the white timber for butter-boxes included in the next paragraph ?
– I am satisfied that plenty of timber for butter-boxes can be obtained in the Commonwealth.
– Where ?
– In the north. An abundance of it can be obtained in Queensland. If those concerned choose to turn their attention to the matter, there is plenty of timber suitable for butter-boxes to be found in the Commonwealth. A deputation from Queensland recently waited upon me in reference to this matter, and I requested them to put their views in writing. They did so, and they informed me that the opposition to the duty upon this class of timber really emanated from the importers, who are making very heavy profits indeed. They declared that whenever any proposal is made to supply timber for butter-boxes from Northern Queensland, the importers kill it by quoting the price at which the imported article can be obtained. When I asked why the statement had been made, that it was impossible to place an order for between£2,000 and £5,000 worth of this timber their reply was that there was plenty available if those requiring it were prepared to pay a reasonable price. I am not so much concerned about the request with respect to the duty on butter-box timber as I am about that relating to the duty onoregon, because, according to the honorable member for Barrier,oregon, which is not produced here, is absolutely necessary for use in mines. I differ from the honorable member, but recognise that he has a better knowledge of what is required in the mines of Broken Hill than I have. I should think that hardwood would be suitable for them, but I do not set my information against the statement of experts, that Oregon is preferred because it is light, and warns miners of approaching danger by “ talking.”
– Surely the people living in districts where white pine is essential for butter-boxes are also worthy of consideration ?
– Certainly they are, but we produce pine in Australia, whereas Oregon cannot be obtained here. Pine suitable for butter-boxes is obtainable, provided we can devise means to place it on the market at a reasonable price.
– All the butter-boxes used in Queensland are made of locally-grown pine.
– I have been informed that the Queensland Government have arranged to construct railways, which will open up a lot of pine country.
– Does not the honorable member think we had better wait until they do that?
– I do not want to support any proposal that will unduly increase the price of white pine, but I think that we ought to do something to develop our latent wealth, in the shape of our pine forests.
– Do I understand that the Treasurer proposes to ask the Committee to reject the Senate’s request in respect of the duty onoregon ?
– Yes. The only point is whether I should agree to the request made with regard to the dutyon the other timbers in this paragraph. I think it well to mention at this stage that I intend later on to move the insertion of the following note, to come into force on 1st September next -
For the purposes of this Division a superficial foot shall mean an area of 1 square foot on one surface, and being not more than 1 inch, or less than inch in thickness.
Representations have been made to me-
– By whom?
– A number of people have addressed communications to me on the subject. Questions of this kind are sometimes, very intricate, and I prefer to have representations in regard to them made in writing. When timber is cut into strips, an-inch thick, which is only a veneer-
– There is a separate duty in respect of veneers.
– Quite so; I am referring to timber cut into strips an -inch in thickness, but not intended to be used as veneers. On such timber, the full duty must be paid on the one surface of each piece.
– What duty has to be paid in respect of½-inch timber?
– In that case the duty will be the same as that on1-inch stuff. On timber of less than of an inch in thickness the full rate in respect of timber 1 inch in thickness must be paid, because it is not necessary to introduce such sizes. I have taken into consideration, as far as possible, the information supplied to me by the trade. It is pointed out that to stop at timber½-inch thick would be to penalize users of weatherboards,. Weatherboards are slightly less than J-inch thick, and unless we adopted this rule importers will be required to pay duty upon them on a basis different from that adopted in other parts of the world. Those who deliberately send in timber less than j inch in thickness must pay on it the full duty on timber of not more than 1 inch nor less than g inch in thickness.
– What ‘was the principle of the late Tariff in reference to this matter?
– That a superficial foot should mean an area of 1 square foot on one surface of x inch in thickness. I have brought this definition as nearly as possible to what it was before.
– Prior to Federation the definition in some of the States was that now proposed by the Ministry.
– I believe so.
– What is the object of this?
– To obtain two measurements to the inch.
– In respect of timber below §. inch in thickness duty must be paid on the surface measurement of each piece. I desire that weatherboards shall be dealt with in, the ordinary way.
– Under the Tariff as it stands an’ extra duty is imposed on small cuts.
– I am aware of that, and I am trying to make a division.
– The proposed arrangement will be most unjust.
– I do not like the idea of charging duty on every surface, no matter what the thickness is, and I have tried to overcome the difficulty by providing that those who import timber which is not sawn into sizes of less than ([-inch thick shall have the privilege of paying duty on one surface only
– Will they not be called upon to pay more in respect of i-inch timber than was the case before?’
– The old definition is not to be altered in respect of the superficial measurement of timber over § inch in thickness ?
– No, only in respect of timber of less than $ of an inch in thickness. I have made this statement in order that honorable members may know ‘what I intend to do when we reach a later request relating to this division’. I move -
That the requested amendment be made, with the following modification : - “Add new subitem : - Oregon, undressed, in sizes of 12 inches x 6 inches (or its equivalent) and over, per 100 super, feet, 6d.”
.- I do not intend to occupy the attention of the Committee for more than a few minutes, because some honorable members are more conversant than I am with the details of the timber trade. I am pleased that the Ministry, to some extent, have recognised the extreme character of the suggestion made by the Senate in respect of an item on which we made a great fight in this House. It seems inconceivable that senators should make a suggestion which will hit an industry with exports representing between ^26,000,000 and ^27,000,000 of our total exports, in favour of manufactured exports representing about ,£2,750,000. While desirous to encourage the manufactures of the Commonwealth, the Senate has displayed a lamentable lack of the sense of proportion in striking at an industry on which most of the other industries rest, in favour of one which shows such a small proportion of our total exports. On the question of measurement, I merely wish to draw attention to the effect of the suggested alteration in the definition, and I am surprised that the Ministry, when they recognise that the Senate is wrong, do not revert to the original decision of the House of Representatives. There is always some matter of substance underlying these verbal alterations ; and I remind honorable members that the original definition which appears to be the standard definition, was. inserted after ample consideration. I do not intend to go into details as to the operation of the proposed duties, but shall simply state, on information supplied to me, that in one case the duty will be increased by 14 per cent., in another case 3v 33 1-3 per cent., in another by 58 per cent., in another by 86 per cent., in another by 100 per cent., and in a fifth by j 66 per cent.
– And the greatest increases are in connexion with sizes of j inch and under.
– I have no desire to cumber Hansard with details, seeing that the item was exhaustively debated on a previous occasion. These duties fall on a class of timber largely used by the working and poorer classes in the erection of their houses ; and the Committee ought to hesitate before agreeing to any increase.
.- I can quite understand the position taken up by the honorable member for Angas, seeing that the figures he has quoted are those which have been industriously circulated by Melbourne importers.
– I got the figures from Adelaide.
– At any rate, the figures are not correct. It will be admitted, I think, that timber represents a native industry to which every man, who calls himself a protectionist, would desire to afford encouragement.
– The first question is whether there is any chance of the Australian production supplying the requirements.
– I shall deal with that matter asI proceed. The Treasurer made some reference to the steps taken by the Queensland Government to open up certain timber country, and I may inform honorable members that last session the State Parliament passed Bills for the following railways with that object in view : - Caboolture to Woodford North Coast, 17 miles and 60 chains at a cost of £86,874 ; the Atherton extension of 31 miles and 14 chains, at the cost of £195,689 Kannungar to Blackbutt, Brisbane Valley, 28 miles and 29 chains, at a cost of , £170,842, or a total of 77 miles and 23 chains, at an estimated cost of£453,405. It is remarkable that while only two men have come to Melbourne to represent the interests of Queensland in this connexion, scores of local importers have been going about this building, whenever the timber duties have been under consideration.
– Are not those who represent the Australian industry also constantly about the building? . All those interested on both sides come here.
– I have never complained about those interestedcoming to Parliament House, but there was a jeering interjection about representatives from Queensland placing certain facts and arguments before the Treasurer.
– Surely they are entitled to wait as a deputation on the Treasurer !
– Not only are they entitled, but it is their bounden duty to do so. I remember well that, when the timber duties were under discussion in 1901-2, there were representations made from every State that there was no timber in Australia fit for making butter-boxes - that only New Zealand pine was suitable.
– The honorable member is wrong in suggesting that everyone said there was no suitable timberin Australia.
– My recollection is that until samples made of Australian timber were shown here, the statement generally made was that the only suitable material was New Zealand pine. At any rate, Australian timber was spoken of in contemptuous terms, and we were informed by importers that it was most unsuitable and dangerous for the making of butter-boxes. But, after all, what does a duty of1s. per 100 feet mean ?
– It is not so good as a rise of 50 per cent., which has already been given since the duty of1s. was asked for.
– What does a duty of 1s . mean? In my opinion, it is not even a reasonable revenue duty, and might very readily be granted in the case of an industry native of the soil. . I have every sympathy, as I said before, with the representations made regarding the suitability of oregon for mining purposes. But, while oregon may be particularly suitable for use in the Barrier mines, I contend that there are Australian timbers equally serviceable for the purpose. I have- the greatest authority for saying that, weight for weight, though not bulk for bulk, Australian hardwoods are stronger than Oregon, thus giving, protection in the mine, with equal ease in handling.
– It is not so much strength that is wanted.
– On this point Ishould like to read a copy of a letter sent to Mr. P. MacMahon, Director of Forests in Queensland, by Mr. James Mann, Timber Expert in the Melbourne University -
Dear Sir, - I have the honour to partially reply to yours of the 6th inst. asking for information with regard to the “ Strength of Australian timber, weight for weight, compared to Oregon pine.” The following will give you some idea of the superior strength of Australian woods when compared to the imported timber named : -
Breaking Weightof “ Beams “ of Six Australian Timbers as compared with Oregon Pine.
A 6-in. x 6-in. x 10-ft. piece of Oregon weighs95 lbs. ; will break with9,000 lbs.
A 6-in. x 3.16-in. x10-ft. piece of Ironbark weighs 95 lbs.; breaking weight, 11,060 lbs.
A 6-in. x 3.45-in. x10-ft. piece of Grey Box weighs 95lbs. ; breaking weight, 11,592 lbs.
A 6-in. x 3.62-in. x10-ft. piece of Jarrah weighs 95 lbs. ; breaking weight, 9,412 lbs.
A 6-in. x 3.62-in. x10-ft. piece of Spotted Gum weighs95 lbs.; breaking weight, 11,222 lbs.
A 6-in. x 3.67-in. x10-ft. piece of Blue Gum weighs 95 lbs. ; breaking weight, 11,158 lbs.
A 6-in. x 3.80-in. x10-ft. piece of Messmate or Stringybark weighs 95 lbs. ; breaking weight, 10,944 lbs.
These figures must be read as meaning beams with the depth of 6 inches, the width in all cases being the smaller dimension.
– Have these statements been submitted to the mine-owners ?
– I am now answering the contention that Oregon is easier to handle; and I am able to show that Australia can produce wood of a lighter make and easier to handle, while stronger for mining purposes.
Mr. Hedges. What about railway freight for 400 miles inland?
– That is another matter; we are now dealing with the handling of wood in mines.
Colonel Foxton. - Is not railway freight regulated by weight?
– Yes, but I do not desire to confuse the two issues. The strong argument against Australian timberwas that it is heavier to handle in the mines. We get tired of debating questions of this kind, but I am strongly of the opinion that there is an absolute prejudice against Australian timber. I go so far as to say that importers in Melbourne find it to their interest to quote prices for imported timber in their lists, while, as to Australian timber, no definite figures can be obtained from them.
– They cannot get it.
– I should like to ask protectionists this question. Before they impose a protective duty must they demand that the article to be protected must be supplied in sufficient quantity to every one wanting it ? There is nothing more tricky than that. To demand that the producers of an article shall, before a protective duty to foster an industry is imposed, be in a position to supply every one that requires the article simultaneously and immediately is an absurdity.
– In Victoria we had no duty on this timber for 20 years.
– Owing to the action of the honorable member for Mernda, under our first Tariff there was no duty on white pine.
– In rough logs.
– Yes. Logs are free under this Tariff, and yet my honorable friends want more.
– That is not practicable.
– In the last discussion on this item I urged that logs ought not to be free, and I repeat that view to-day. Protectionist sawmillers here are not content with getting logs free. They want the timber cut up not only into large sizes but also into lengths one quarter-inch and one half-inch thick, planed and dressed in the cheapest labour countries in the world, and yet they call themselves protectionists.
– If this timber grew in Melbourne we should have a duty of 30 per cent.
– I have said before that if the right pine grew in every State there would be no difficulty.
– If it grew at Collingwood does the honorable member think that we would get a duty?
– There would be such a crowd round the entrance to the Queen’s Hall that one would hardly be able to get into it.
– Will the honorable member give us some particulars of the weight of hardwood?
– A piece of oregon measuring 6 inches by 6 inches by 10 feet, and weighing 95 lbs., will break under a weight of 9,000 lbs., while a piece of ironbark, measuring 6 inches by 3.16 inches by 10 feet, and weighing 95 lbs., will break, under a weight of 1 1,060 lbs.
– The honorable member says thatoregon, is as heavy as ironbark.
– Nonsense. Weight for weight, a piece of ironbark is stronger than a piece oforegon, but, of course, the sizes of the pieces are not the same.
– Taking the same size, which is the cheaper wood -oregon or hardwood ?
– Speaking generally, I think that ironbark would be dearer wood, but not very much dearer thanoregon. When we recall the fact that our forests are being destroyed, and that no use is being made of our native timbers, surely a national Parliament ought to consider whether it should not give a protectionist duty equal to what I call a revenue duty, and the honorable member for Parkes, who is an out-and-out free-trader, has described 15 per cent. as a fair revenue duty. My complaint is that a Parliament which calls itself protectionist will not give to one of our native industries any protection, not even to the extent of a revenue duty, while it will give a high revenue duty in respect of articles which cannot be produced here. Undoubtedly our forests are a national asset. My complaint is not that they are being destroyed, but that we are not making use of the timber as they are being destroyed.
– It is offering a premium to the owners to ringbark their forests.
– I am speaking of the destruction of national wealth which might be used in commerce, giving employment to our own people, and also assisting the men who are on the land. Has it never occurred to honorable members that while we are talking about immigration, and making it easy for people to settle on the land, it is an anomaly, that valuable trees should have to be destroyed. That is, I think, an important point to be ‘ considered. Every honorable member who comes from the Northern State must know that some of the most valuable timber in the world is sacrificed so that the selector may get a bit of land cleared. His timber is valueless to him. I have seen logs hauled to the edge of selections in the Kingroyd and Nanango districts, worth each, and sold . for 5 shillings.
– Whose fault is that? They will not supply orders.
– The honorable member knows exactly where to lay his finger. Who declined to give an encouraging price for the timber, or even to make a market for it? What is the complaint now by the timber dealers? They say “ We cannot get the timber. When we send an order it is not supplied.”.
– In Sydney, the timber merchants will take all the timber that can be sent clown. I received a letter to that effect this morning.
– These letters are handy. Most of the timber merchants want picked pieces. So long as it is to the interest of the importers to make it difficult for the market to be supplied they will embarrass the local industry.
– They are tricky orders.
– Yes. It is only fair that I should now examine the position. The Treasurer has indicated what he proposes to do regarding the definition of sizes, superficies, and so on. Why should we encourage the importation of boards, cut and dressed, under 1 inch, while we are prepared to allow the logs to come in free, and also to admit squared pieces in large sizes free, or at a very low’ duty ? What justification is there for us to make it easy for people to import from foreign countries timber cut up’ into thicknesses of½ inch and inch ? Why should not the work of cutting the timber into boards be done here? It has been stated that the employers and the employes in Melbourne are agreed on this point.
– Not in Melbourne, but in Australia.
Colonel Foxton. - Nonsense.
– Sydney, Adelaide, and Brisbane firms were in it, too.
– I can assure the honorable member that he is entirely wrong, asI shall proceed to show.
– Documents, with their signatures . attached, have been circulated by the sawmillers who, worse luck, are also importers.
– If the honorable member will exercise a little patience, I shall be able to show him that it is not so.
– The honorable member cannot prove that to me from any documents, when I know better.
– Will the honorable member allow me an opportunity to furnish the proof?
– It will not disprove what I said.
– I ask the honorable member to listen while I read the following letter from the timber workers -
Lindon-street, South Brisbane, 25th January,1908.
To the Director of Forests, Queensland.
Some time ago a deputation, representing operatives employed in the timber trade of Brisbane and surrounding districts, waited upon the Government, and asked them to permit you to make representations on our behalf in Melbourne, with a view to maintaining the Tariff on foreign timber as at first proposed. In this request we had the cordial support of alt workers engaged in the timber industry in Queensland, numbering, with their families, between 40,000 and 50,000 persons, including sawmill hands, fellers, teamsters, labourers, and others. The first announcement of the Tariff created a great impulse in our industry, and we saw for the first time a prospect of being able to earn a good living, without having to contend against the crushing competition of cheap labour in Sweden, Norway, and Siberia.
– In New Zealand.
– I have heard something about sweated labour regarding other industries.
– That does not disprove what I said.
– The letter continues-
We saw the vast timber resources of Queensland, of. which we are well aware, being opened up in a large and systematic way, and we realized, that the day was rapidly approaching when our forests would be meeting, in a large measure, the demand for our timber in the south, a demand brought about to a large extent by the efforts of your Department in making known the qualities of our timber.
Such a Tariff as will enable this State to obtain an opening for its timber against foreign competition is a matter of the most urgent necessity to the workers in this industry.
We learn with great satisfaction that although, you were not present when the Tariff was before the House of Representatives, you will be able to give information on the subject during your proposed visit to Melbourne.
The workers have the greatest confidence in any representations you may make in their interests, as we are well aware you have studied our forests and timber supplies for many years, and thoroughly understand the conditions under which this important and expanding industry is carried on.
I am, yours faithfully,
Chairman Saw Mill Employees Committee re Tariff on Foreign Timber.
– To whom is the letter addressed?
– To the Director of Forests of Queensland. It is, as honorable members will observe, a complete contradiction of the statement jointly signed by W. G. Sharp, chairman of the Melbourne and Suburban Timber Merchants’ Association, and J. Sutch, secretary of the Federated Sawmills Timber Yard and General Wood Yard Employes’ Association of Victoria.
– It is not only persons interested in the industry in Victoria who take that stand ; it is also taken in New South Wales.
– I did not say that it was taken only by Victorians.
– The honorable member may not have meant to say that, but I think he did say it.
– I am, of course, referring especially to those who come to this House. New South Wales saw-millers and timber importers, and their employes, cannot come to this House. It will be admitted that I have seriously attacked honorable members opposite who represent New South Wales constituencies on the action they have previously taken in dealing with these duties.
– I know that I have felt the attack very seriously.
– I do not believe that the honorable member for Lang is capable of feeling any attack at all. He is a very industrious member of the Committee, but, with all due respect to him, he is so cocksure about everything, that it is very seldom that any argument brought forward has any influence upon him. I, of course, intend no reflection on the honorable member. I like to hear him express his views ; they are frequently very interesting, and sometimes helpful. The point I make is that there is a combination between employers and employes in the saw-milling and timber-importing industry in Melbourne, and they have issued a joint statement of what they desire, which, in my opinion, reflects upon the intelligence of members of this Committee.
– I tell the honorable member again that the objection does not come from Victoria alone.
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports need not get excited. The joint statement to which I have referred was handed to me by Mr. Sutch himself, and he contended that the course proposed in it was the most desirable one to adopt. He is a representative employ engaged in the industry, and a labour man, like the honorable member for Melbourne Ports and myself. I took very great interest in what he said, and gave due weight to it, but when I find, in the joint statement of employers and employes, a scale of duties proposed, which is entirely in the interests of city saw-millers and timber importers, it is about time that I spoke out in no uncertain fashion. I want to say that the duties proposed in connexion with the timber industry are the lowest duties which have been submitted in the Tariff for the assistance of any native industry. We have imposed protective duties on butter, jam. cheese, condensed milk, currants, hops, and on almost everything but timber, which, it cannot be denied, is one of the most valuable native products of Australia. Every assistance is given to industries carried on in the cities and towns, but the farmers and timber-getters of the Commonwealth are apparently too far away from the centre of Government to exercise any influence upon members of Parliament. .
– Does the honorable member say that there are 4,000 men employed in this industry in Queensland?
– No, I said that 40,000 persons are concerned in the progress of the industry in that State. If any proposal were made which would render it difficult for city saw-millers to keep up the rates of wages of saw-mill employes we should’ hear something about it very soon. But what about the men who are out in the forests felling the trees, and doing pioneering work in the making of roads in different parts of the country, and thus prepari ng the way for the settlers of whom we hear so much ? Apparently these men are to be given no encouragement.
– They are doing the hardest work to be done in Australia.
– Some of the finest men in Australia are the axemen engaged in timber getting. Under existing conditions the settler in many parts of the Commonwealth must cut down the timber on his land before he can utilize it, and he is compelled to burn it, because, owing to the importations of timber from abroadhe cannot find a market for it.
– In many cases the settlers have to burn their timber because there are no sawmills convenient to them at which it could be cut.
– That may be so; but I am speaking of what I know takes place in Queensland, and I believe that in other States valuable timber is wasted in the same way. Real natural wealth in the shape of valuable timber is being destroyed. I do not pose as an expert, but I believe that in Australia we have a greater variety of. valuable timbers than is to be found even in the United States, and unless efforts are made in some way to conserve our timbers we shall some day regret our neglect. I shall not go into the question of afforestation, but no one will deny that it is necessary that some effective steps should be taken to conserve our natural timbers. I appeal to honorable members to accept the request of the Senate. The Treasurer has proposed a modification of the Senate’s request, and it is highly pro bable that his object will be defeated. If he is under an impression that honorable members opposed to duties on timber will assist him to carry any one of his proposals he is more innocent than I take him to be. In connexion with no other duties has so great a determination been expressed to keep them down to the lowest possible rate. Honorable members opposed to timber duties succeeded in reducing the duties at first proposed to the lowest possible rate, and in my opinion they were wrong in doing so.I believe that another place has more correctly interpreted public opinion in the Commonwealth in connexion with these duties than we have done in this House. Surely the duties suggested by the Senate are low enough ? There is not one that can be said to be more than a reasonable revenue duty. There is certainly not one that can be described as a protective duty, or is likely to have any protective effect which will afford the assistance to which those engaged in the pioneering of this industry are entitled.
– I rise to a point of order. I wish, sir, to ask your ruling as to whether it is competent for the Treasurer to move an addition to item 303A. I believe that you have already ruled that where there is no request for an alteration from the Senate-
– There is such a request in this case.
– There is no request for an alteration of the item with which we are dealing now. I believe that you, sir, have ruled that where the Senate requests an alteration as regards the duties alone, that alone can be dealt with. I am aware that it may be argued that this is but one of a very large number of paragraphs of the same item, but I submit that the separate paragraphs of item 303 should be regarded as separate items. It is only in order to secure convenience of arrangement that they have been grouped together as paragraphs in one item.
– Does the right honorable member contend that we cannot make a modification of the Senate’s request ?
– There is no more reason why the matters dealt with in the various paragraphs of this item should be arranged in the way they have been than might be advanced for a similar arrangement of items 314, “Buggy shafts bent but not dressed ; “ 315, “ Buggy shafts bent and dressed;” 316, “Shafts n.e.i. in the rough; 317, “Shafts n.e.i. dressed;” 318, “Bent poles, rough;” 319, “Bent poles, dressed ; “ 320, “Whiffle-tree bars,” and 321, “ Shaft bars.” All these are given separate numbers, whereas under the item timber, the various kinds of timber dealt with are included, not in items having separate numbers, but in paragraphs in alphabetical order under one item, and there are so many of them that the whole alphabet has been used, and a portion of it repeated to number them all. In my opinion it is not competent for the Committee to deal with a portion of an item which is not affected by a request of the Senate. I think that you have laid that down already in dealing with item 170. I speak from memory as to the particular item on which such a ruling was given, but I know that you have laid it down that where the duty alone is proposed to be amended by a request from the Senate we can deal only with that, and that we cannot deal with the wording of an item unless the Senate has requested some amendment of it. I believe that all that we can do in this case is to decide whether the duty shall be1s. or any modification of1s. from one penny upwards.
– The Treasurer was quite in order in moving the modification he has moved. The ruling which I gave some time since, and to which the right honorable member refers, was given in connexion with a request from the Senate which did not affect the wording of an item, and where any alteration of the wording proposed would have involved the insertion of a. new item.In similar circumstances the Treasurer would not be in order in submitting the modification he has now proposed, but it will be seen that whilst the Treasurer believes that certain timber included in this item should be dutiable at1s., certain other timber included in it should, he proposes, be dutiable at only 6d. per 100 superficial feet. The Minister is prepared to agree in part with the amendment requested by the Senate, but is not prepared to agree to it wholly.
– He is proposing a new item.
– No, the Treasurer has moved a new sub-item for the convenience of the Committee in dealing with the matter. Whilst he desires that some timber shall be dutiable at1s., he desires that oregon timber, 12 x 6, or its equivalent, shall be dutiable at only 6d. per 100 superficial feet. Honorable members will see that that is clearly a modification of the Senate’s requested amendment, which the Treasurer is quite entitled to propose.
– On the point of order, I should like to ask whether in view of the ruling you have just given it would be competent for the Committee to further modify the proposal submitted by the Treasurer by moving that thisoregon timber be free of duty ? If it’ is competent for the Treasurer to move that it be dutiable at 6d. per 100 superficial feet, is it competent for any other member of the Committee to move that it be admitted free of duty?
– Yes, that would be in accord with the course I have followed throughout in order that the Committee might be given an opportunity to deal with the duties in whatever way it desired, taking the lowest duty proposed, first. That is why I have insisted from the beginning that the modifications shall be dealt with separately. If the modification now proposed is dealt with, it will be quite competent for the honorable member, if it is not carried, to move a further modication if he so desires. Or it would be competent, if that is not carried, to move a further modification that the duty requested by the Senate be omitted. That would leave the duty as it first stood.
– I am afraid that I have not made myself clear. I understand that the Minister has moved a modification of the Senate’s request, to the effect that oregon timber in future shall be dutiable at 6d. Can that request be further modified to the effect that oregon shall be free ?
– The honorable member would be quite in order in moving a further modification that it be free.
– Would that have any effect in bringing the original decision of this Committee below 6d. ?
– If a modification to make it free were carried, the result would be that certain timbers other than oregon, 12 by 6, would be dutiable at1s. per 100 feet, whileoregon, undressed, 12 by 6, would be free.
– I submit that the Senate, in proposing1s. instead of 6d., have agreed to 6d. The man who owes 6d., and agrees to pay1s., has surely agreed to pay the 6d. I submit, therefore, that any duty less than 6d. would be opposed to what both Houses have agreed to.
– The Senate have not agreed to anything up to the present. They have merely suggested that the duty be1s.
– I listened with much attention to the arguments of the honorable member for Wide Bay. Whilst he is doing his best to secure a concession for the timber trade of his State-
– And of all the States.
– Of his State particularly - I really wonder that he has the audacity to put forward the claim in this Parliament.
– Because some years ago the Queensland members strongly supported the demand for a1s. duty on timber. They said that would be satisfactory, and would enlarge the industry.
– I never agreed that1s. was a fair thing.
-They urged that it would enable the industry to develop into a very important branch of Australian production. Since then the prices of that and all corresponding timber have gone up, I am within the mark in saying, by 50 per cent.
– Through a timber ring, which we ought to smash up.
– It is not through a ring, but through the natural increase of cost of the timbers which are supplying the market. They are becoming more difficult to obtain, and it requires more expense to put them free on board ship.
– Good old. supply and demand !
– No, it is simply that, as is being experienced a little in Queensland now, timber which may be cheaply produced when near the facilities for shipment, becomes dearer as you have to go back into the forest longer distances.
– To get over that difficulty, the Queensland Government are building several lines into the timber country.
– I know. They have only to do that, and develop the industry, and the market is there at a highly profitable price.
– Under free-trade.
– We will take that argument.
– There is no market under free-trade.
– The market is there now at a highly profitable price.
– The Minister knows nothing about it. He has accepted exparte statements as truths. He said he knew that thosewho were handling other timbers were making, large profits.
– The rings will always do that.
– The honorable gentleman need not talk about rings. There is one in Queensland.
– There is a much bigger ring amongst the importers.
– The Minister says that with one voice, and with another says that, these Queensland timbers have to be sold in competition at a loss. What an absurdity that is ! If the others are making large profits, whether as the result of a ring or anything else, the Queenslanders have their markets made, and. can make their profit’s. There is a larger demand for Queensland timbers than can be supplied.
– No. While there is an ostensible demand for Queensland timbers, the parties concerned take very good care to put conditions in that cannot be complied with.
– Will the Minister name the conditions? Will he deny that New Zealand white pine is being ordered by the Queensland butter packers for butter-boxes, and is coming into Queensland? That is the fact, and an honorable member who has perhaps the . largest experience of the butter trade in this House can verify it.
– The honorable member for Moreton says it is true.
– There is a good deal of New Zealand white pine coming in, but a large number of boxes are made of Queensland timber.
– I am aware of that. But what I have stated proves that Queensland cannot supply the demand.
– Put a good duty on. and we shall soon see if Queensland cannot supply the timber.
– If the Treasurer is absolutely careless of the effect on all the other industries of the Commonwealth, and imposes such a duty that no timber can be imported, then of course we can, not immediately, but in some years’ time, supply most of our wants with timber grown within theCommonwealth, but not by any means all of our wants.
– Using the same line of argument, is it fair to bolster up every other industry in the Commonwealth and sacrifice the timber industry ?
– It is not sacrificed. There is a good profit now for Queensland timbers which Queensland cannot accept.
– The buyers are asking for the best portions of the log. They want to take the heart of the tree and leave the bones.
– I will deal with that argument. If those who would use the timber here demand from Queensland the flitchesor larger pieces, how is it that they are ready to take the smaller sizes of New Zealand or other timbers? Would they not demand the wide timbers in that case also?
– They are not prepared to take the smaller sizes.
– Not in Queensland.
– What is the difference , between that case and the case of New Zealand pine, and other timbers? They must be prepared to sell the off or small cuts at such a price as will find a market.
– They only send to Queensland for what they cannot get from New Zealand - the big boards.
– Does the honorable member think that those who handle timber, or any other article, wish to do so to their own disadvantage?
– I am sure they do not.
– Then will they not draw their supplies from Queensland just as readily as from New Zealand, if they can make a penny or two more profit per 100 feet?
– They will not. I know of instances where they are using Queensland pine as kauri pine, and charging the people kauri pine prices. That is when they can get the broad boards.
– If there is a penny or twopence per 100 feet profit to be made, will they not order the timber that will pay them best? Of course they will. The real object of this little proposal is to absolutely shut out from these markets all the cheap small cuts that are used for packing cases, and also butter-box timber, and retain that market entirely for Queensland timber. What might follow? Queensland might say to the southern States, “ All right, we have our market secured now. You will have to come to us. We are not going to sell you any large stuff to put’ into your mills, but will do the sawing and dressing in our own State. You will have to take the small stuff from us. We will employ the Queensland mills and you can close down.”
Colonel Foxton. - That is the point.
– That is what the merchants in the southern States are afraid of.
– If we give the power, no doubt it will be exercised some day.
Colonel Foxton. - Why should not the timber be sawn in Queensland as well as in Melbourne?
– I do not object. Let them saw it where it can be sawn most cheaply. We have already provided, by the duties imposed, that the timber must be dressed in Australia.
– Does the honorable member object to its being dressed in Australia ?
– I do not; but I object to forcing these things by artificial means.
– The honorable member does not object to oregon being grown in Australia
– I do not. In fact, I urged fourteen or fifteen years ago in a State House that instead of talking so much about timber importation, we ought to be growing the timber and making importations unnecessary. There is for Queensland timber as large a market as Queensland can supply. One honorable member spoke about the competition of cheap labour. New Zealand is Queensland’s nearest competitor. Is that a cheaplabour country ? Are its forests anymore accessible than those of Queensland ?
– I think they are.
– They are becoming less and less accessible.
– Their freight charges are less.
– Freights can be got as cheaply from Queensland as from New Zealand. I would undertake to charter for the honorable member, if he wanted freights, at as cheap a rate. The market for Queensland timber is getting better and better.
– It will not if timber is made free.
– We are not asking that timber should be made free. All the competing timbers are getting dearer every year, and it is only a question of a comparatively short time when there will be no competition from New Zealand at all. The timber of Queensland will become an increasingly valuable asset. At present there is a profitable outlet for Queensland timber, which will not decrease, but will increase. The profit obtained by the millers upon it now is considerably less than will be obtained in the future, as the competing timber becomes dearer and dearer. Why, then, should a duty be imposed which will seriously affect other Australian industries? We have many industries that have to spend a considerable amount of money on timber. The use of hardwoods for purposes for which softwoods are usually used is practically prohibited by the nature of the timber. Hardwood is infinitely ‘ better for certain purposes than soft wood; but for other purposes soft woods must be used even though it has to be obtained at a higher price. As to the proposed measurement which will affect this duty, the interpretation given by the Treasurer to the term “ superficial foot “ was a most extraordinary one. Now he has changed it, and has made it if anything more extraordinary still. Is the Treasurer under the impression that his amendment will affect-inch stuff?
– Any board inch and over in thickness will pay as if it were 1 inch thick.
– And anything below will pay at actual measurement. Now I point out the curious effect of this proposal. First of all, it will affect only a very small portion of the imports. It will have no real effect for the Minister’s purpose, because the quantity of timber that comes in under inch is comparatively small. But it will double the duty on ½-inch stuff. Here is the peculiarity of the position. A-inch board will pay as if it were1 inch, but a¼-inch board will pay only on¼ inch thickness, or one-fourth of an inch. So that the position is this: We say, “ the difference we have allowed hitherto for smaller sizes is not sufficient. We must double and treble it, because some labour is put into the timber outside Australia. When we come to the smaller sizes of all, upon which, if anything, there is more labour, we will let that in at its actual measurement.”
– Does not the honorable member think, that that is fair ? If these larger sizes are allowed to come in, does he not think that it is fair to impose that condition in regard to the competition with our own people who are cutting timber in the bush ?
– There is an extra duty for smaller sizes, but, in addition to that, honorable members want to multiply that duty to an extraordinary extent, and to throw the extra charge on to every industry in the Commonwealth.
– What does the honorable member think the extra charge is ?
– In the case of-inch boards, the charge will be nearly 3s. per 100 instead of1s. There is a serious aspect of this case that has not been regarded. The nearest competitor of Queensland timber is New Zealand. The honorable member for Wide Bay cannot say that cheap labour is employed in that country. He cannot say that the Queenslanders have not the same advantages that the New Zealanders have. He cannot say that larger profits, are being made on these imported timbers in consequence of the low wages paid. It is all a question of supply. The honorable member for Wide Bay knows perfectly well why it is more economical to cut where the logs are obtained. A saving of waste is effected. There are certain off-cuts that are practically useless, and that it is not necessary to send to market. There is a saving of freight. The Prime Minister of New Zealand has stated that, if Australia penalizes the people of the Dominion for doing on the spot cutting which it is usual to do at the source of supply, they will put an export duty on logs.
– I think that New Zealand now levies an almost prohibitive export duty on logs.
– The threat that such a duty would be imposed was made when the Tariff was under consideration before ; but the Commonwealth did not then pass duties whose effect would be to force the Dominion to export its logs without first doing this necessary cutting.
– Are we to be influenced by the threat of a neighbouring State?
– If New Zealand is looking after its interests, surely we should look after our own.
– We should be influenced by the fact that, if New Zealand places an export duty on logs, the timber which our industries need will be more costly.. Besides, it is proposed that we should make a special attack on the New Zealand industry, our duties being so arranged as to compel the dressing of timber to be done here, whereas, for economical reasons, it should be done where the logs are cut. The leader of the Labour Party has stated that the duty was agreed to elsewhere as a reason why it should be agreed to here. But what are the circumstances? A compromise was made by the Treasurer in regard to this duty.
– Hear, hear. Had it not been for that compromise, the Committee would have made timber free.
– The Treasurer will remember that when, on a former occasion, he said across the table that a compromise had been arranged with certain honorable members in the corner, I replied that I would accept it, and then voted with the Ministry in support of it, and against the proposal that timber should be free.
– Yes. The honorable member did that against the wishes of others of his party, who thought that he should not have done so.
– That is so. I admit that the compromise does not bind individual members of the Committee; but Ministers should consider themselves bound by it. The rate agreed upon here was voted for by a considerable majority, whereas in the Senate divisions there was in one case a majority of only three, in another of two, in another of one, and finally a tie.
– Ministers in the Senate voted for higher rates, notwithstanding the arrangement come to by* their colleagues here.
– Yes. They should have recognised the compromise, and should have supported it, as was done in some other instances.
– An export duty of 4s. was placed on logs by the late Mr. Seddon.
– I am not sure that that duty is now in force. My point, is that, a much higher duty has been threatened.
Colonel Foxton. - That duty has been in force since 1902.
– I should like to make sure what’ the Minister really wishes to do. Does he mean - because this is the effect of his proposal- that a-inch board shall be dutiable as if it were a 1-inch board? That is the effect of the alteration of the definition of “ superficial foot.”
– Every board over inch and under 1 inch will have to pay as an inch board. .
– Yes. Duty will be levied on a½-inch board as if it were an inch board.
– When one buys such timber he has to pay for it as if it were inch timber.
– Not when the timber is sold by the superficial foot. Under the Minister’s proposal, boards over inch in thickness will pay as if 1 inch in thickness, whereas boards¼ inch in thickness will have to pay only as¼-inch boards. The duty is not being increased on boards of a thickness of less than inch, but it is being doubled, and nearly trebled, on thicker boards. If it is intended to place an excessively heavy duty on such boards, let it be done directly. The original definition of “superficial foot” is universally accepted, while the Minister’s definition is contrary to the usage and custom of the timber trade in all English-speaking communities. The Minister might as well insert in the Tariff a provision saying that, for the purpose of these duties, a gallon shall mean a quart, a ton 15 cwt., or a yard 2 feet 6 inches. He is increasing rates by a clumsy and improper method. We should adhere to the standards of weight, measure, and capacity which are in universal use. It is ridiculous to so alter the definition of “superficial foot” that a board inch in thickness will be dutiable as if it were an inch thick, allowing a¼-inch board, which is almost the same thing, to be dutiable as a¼- inch board.
– I do not think that¼-inch boards are in commercial use.
– What nonsense.
– They are not imported.
– That being so, the intention must be, by a side wind, to make dutiable, as if it were 1 inch thick, practically all timber under 1 inch which is imported. If it is desired to increase the duty on such timber, why not provide for that directly, instead of by altering a definition which has been accepted by the Customs Department ever since Federation? If a higher duty is desired, let it be proposed and carried - if a sufficient number of members are in favour of its imposition - but the alteration of a wellunderstood definition of measurement should not be agreed to.
– The least the Government can do is to stand by the compromise which
AV £1 5 ITI £Lc16
– I hope that it will do that.
– Some members stretched their opinions in order to support the compromise.
– Yes. I was subjected to attack because I did so; but I thought that I was doing the right thing, and I ask the Treasurer now to treat others as they treated him.
.- Whatever may be done with a view to encouraging the timber industry, I-think that we should deal specially with that part of the request which relates to Oregon - a timber of vast importance to the mining industry. Those who requested a university professor to make certain tests with a view of determining whether Australian hardwood is stronger than Oregon, apparently know nothing about the conditions under which oregon is used in the mines of Broken Hill, and the professor’s reply indicates on his part an entire want of knowledge of those conditions. Every one knows that Australian hardwood has a greater bearing strain than soft woods wherever grown. Reference has been made o the question of weight, but that is only one of a number of considerations to be taken into account. Those who have been underground at Broken Hill will know that the peculiarity of the square sets used there requires the employment of timbers of certain sizes, which will so fit as to avoid danger of their slipping when pressure is applied to them. Timbers 10 in. x 10 in. have to be fitted on top of uprights of the same size. The professor who was appealed to gave the breaking strain of a. beam 6 inches in depth, and evidently proceeded to make his tests on the assumption that such beams are laid horizontally, and that it is when they are in that position that pressure is brought to bear upon them. In the first’ place, the question to be considered is not the weight which a beam laid horizontally will carry, but the pressure that it will bear end ways. The tests made by the university professor may be at once dismissed as having no value from the point of view of the relative strength of hardwood . and oregon! when used as in the Broken Hill mines. In order to ascertain the relative strength of these timbers for mining purposes, he should have taken the downright pressure end ways.
– Considering that I have had thirty years of mining, I should know something about the question.
– The honorable member may have had fifty years’ experience as a miner, but unless he has been underground at Broken Hill he cannot appreciate this question.
– I have been underground more than once at Broken Hill.
– Then the honorable member will know that a certain size of timber is required, so that where the four horizontal pieces and the uprights aboveand below meet .1 good fit may be secured. Unless a .good fit is secured, the timbers show a tendency to slip. Size for size, hardwood is much heavier than Oregon.
– So that on that reason- ing the honorable member would say that an iron bar would be defective?
– The honorable member knows that certain, sizes of timber are required, so that the pieces may be fitted together, and the danger of their slipping when pressure is applied, obviated.
– In my examination for mining I had to deal, not with the bulk, but with the carrying and resisting power of timber.
– 1 am quite aware of that, but I say that at Broken Hill uprights are used, not so much because of their strength, but because they fit readily.
– And give warning of approaching danger.
– Yes. The honorable member for Wide Bay is aware that hard wood does not crush as soft wood does. The fact that Oregon, instead of snapping suddenly, crushes, rnakes it a safe timber to use at Broken Hill. Hardwood of the same weight would be liable to split and collapse without- any warning. I have known hardwood in a . mine to split so suddenly that all the lights underground have been extinguished. It will stand a strain up to a certain point and will then snap- Oregon, however, gradually crushes.
– During a previous debate I answered that contention by pointing out that in the Mount Morgan mine, which is bigger than any at Broken Hill, hardwood is used, and not an accident has occurred there.
– The conditions may not be similar. It is an advantage to use timber that will give way gradually instead of suddenly collapsing, and that is why Oregon is employed in the mines at Broken Hill. The university professor’s replies to the letters addressed to him on this subject do not really touch the main question; they have no regard to the conditions under which Oregon is employed in the Broken Hill mines. But for an arrangement having been made when the item was before us on a. previous occasion, I am satisfied that a majority of the Committee would have voted that oregon for mining purposes should be free. Those who favoured a protective duty recognised that the vast quantity of oregon used in the mines does not come into competition with. Australian timbers. In regard to the item generally it is remarkable that notwithstanding the higher rates of wages paid in the industry here Australian timber can be sold abroad in competition with timber from other parts’ of the world. It is so highly appreciated elsewhere that notwithstanding freightage charges and the higher rates of wages prevailing in the timber industry here, people insist upon being supplied with it. We have not vet realized the value of our forests, and it is, to say the least, singular that so many contradictory statements on the part of timber getters and timber users, such as builders, should be made. It has been said that supplies of timber from Queensland cannot be obtained in the southern States. The reply of the sawmillers in the north is that ‘they are merely asked to supply picked sizes, and that if timber merchants down here placed all their orders with them, they would have no difficulty in securing what they wanted. Then again, some timbers are brought here from distant countries for less than it costs to convey similar timbers from Queensland to the southern States. It is also said that there is a big timber combine, and it seems to me that there are many matters into which we shall have to inquire when the new protection proposals are before us. I should like to suggest to the Treasurer the desirableness of considering whether it would not be wise to impose varying rates of duty in respect of certain timbers rather than to alter the old definition of surface measurement. If he insists upon the insertion of a special definition, let us have no minimum. I desire to support the local timber industry, but having regard to the facts I have mentioned, I am prepared to support a proposal thatoregon be free.
Sitting suspended from 12.57 to 2.15 p.m.
.- I have listened very carefully to the arguments which have been advanced in connexion with the duties upon timber, and I fail to see any reason why we should depart from the decisions at which we deliberately arrived upon a former occasion. The question was then exhaustively debated, and the final determination of the Committee was a compromise between the various sections of this House. It was one of the few unanimous compromises which have been arrived at during the consideration of the Tariff.
– But for the Ministry this, item would have been made free.
– That statement is correct. Upon the timber required for the mining, fruit-growing, and butter industries the duties would have been entirely removed had if not been for the desire of some honorable members to arrange a compromise. That compromise having been arranged deliberately, we ought not lightly to depart from it. I think that throughout the consideration of this Tariff my attitude has been in favour of encouraging local industries. I quite admit thatif there be an industry in our midst which has a reasonable chance of supplying our timber requirements, it ought to be encouraged and developed. But it has not been shown that there is any reasonable prospect of our requirements in that connexion being met by supplies from our own forests. Under these circumstances, the duty requested by the Senate would be merely a revenue duty upon an item upon which no duty should be imposed. It is needless for me to recapitulate the many uses to which timber can be put. All our industries are practically dependent upon a supply of timber of various kinds. It is one. of. the raw materials in our productive industries, and in the absence of any reasonable prospects of our requirements being met by local supplies, it should undoubtedly be admitted at the lowest possible duty. There appears to be a special reason why oregon, which is particularly adapted for use in connexion with mining operations, should be either subjected to a very low duty, or admitted free. The same remark is applicable to New Zealand white pine, which is used for butter-boxes. I amnot prepared to say that almost as effective an argument cannot be advanced in support of the admission upon similar terms of other timber, such as baltic pine, which is used so largely for weatherboards. I have taken the trouble to calculate what the duty requested by the Senate would mean to the butter industry alone. I have carefully read all the evidence tendered to the Tariff Commission in this connexion, and the only conclusion at which I can arrive from the testimony of Queensland witnesses is that butter-boxes made from white pine in Queensland cannot be supplied at as low a cost as can butterboxes manufactured from New Zealand pine. Some of these witnesses estimate that butter-boxes manufactured from Queensland white pine would cost from1½d. to 2d. each more than would boxes manufactured from New Zealand white pine. If we assume that the difference between the price of the two articles is 2d. per box, the proposal under consideration would mean taxing the great dairying industry of the Commonwealth to the extent of , £10,000 annually. Now, we all know that our dairymen have to compete in the markets of the world. They have to compete against the inhabitants of Denmark, who are very much closer to their market, and consequently every penny of taxation that we place upon this industry means subjecting our dairymen to increased disabilities. In the absence of any reasonable chance of a sufficient supply of timber for butter-boxes from Queensland, it is the duty of this Committee to encourage our export trade to the extent of admitting this particular class of timber at as low a rate as. possible.
– Butter would be imported from Denmark to-day if there were no duty upon it.
– In many lines a certain dumping process will take place perhaps once in twenty years. The wheat duty, for example, operates only about once in every quarter of a century.
– But butter is now selling at1s. 6d. per lb.
– No doubt special occasions will arise when butter will be imported into Australia. But our production of that commodity is so great that as a rule the duty upon it will not be operative. All the evidence tendered to the Tariff Commission goes to show, that Queensland is unable to supply the requirements of Aus tralia in the matter of timber for butterboxes, and that there is no reasonable chance of an enormous expansion in the butter-box industry, in the near future. For many years there has been a duty levied upon this class of timber.
– But this is the first time that we have had an opportunity to obtain control of the Australian market.
– The 1902 Tariff imposed a duty upon timber.
– Not upon pine.
– Upon timber generally.
– Logs were admitted free under that Tariff.
– They are admitted free now, but the millers will not import them to cut them up.
– The Queensland Forestry Department has shown that there are millions of superficial feet of timber available in that State.
– So far, Queensland has failed in its duty in the matter of conserving its forests, in replanting them, and in constructing lines of railway to tap them.
– The Queensland Parliament has already approved of the construction of railways to some of these districts.
– That does not assure us that the necessary supply of timber will be forthcoming. In 1906 we imported’ timber valued at £1,632,000, and only £344,000 worth was produced locally. Only about one-fifth of the total timber used in Australia is produced in the Commonwealth. How can the remaining fourfifths be made up merely by tapping one or two forests in the way that has been indicated ?
Colonel Foxton. - What proofdoes the honorable member want of the existence of these forests?
– The proof that railways to tap them have been constructed, and that the timber is available.
– I can show the honorable member the Acts of Parliament which authorized the construction of the railways.
– I have looked very carefully through the evidence tendered by the Queensland Conservator of Forests to the Tariff Commission, and he merely declares that there is a certain quantity of timber in that State, distributed over 600,000 or 700,000 square miles without defining any large, compact forests which, can be easily tapped by railway.
Colonel Foxton. - I know of densely timbered areas.
– Then the evidence of the Queensland Conservator of Forests is not satisfactory. If it could be shown that there was a reasonable chance of Queensland being able to supply the needs of the Commonwealth in the matter of timber for butter-boxes, I should vote for the imposition of a duty upon it. But most of our Australian timbers are hardwood, whereas most of the timbers used in connexion with building operations, the mining industry, and our export trade axe soft wood. I am very doubtful whether there is a great desire on the part of the timber merchants of Queensland to capture the butter-box trade. The pine of that State is regarded as being of too good a quality to warrant its use for butter-boxes.
– They made a big fight to obtain that trade in 1902, and they are doing the same thing now.
– They fear that if we admit New Zealand white pine free, that pine will be used for purposes other than butter-boxes, and will consequently come into competition with Queensland.
– Does the honorable member wish to restrict the use of New Zealand white pine which is admitted free to the manufacturer of butter-boxes?
– If there were any way of controlling it-
– Does the honorable member think that that, object could be easily accomplished?
– If the timber were cut in bond, the manufacturer would have to pay the cost of a Government supervisor, and that would be too great.
– Did the honorable member vote against the free admission of timber for butter-boxes upon a former occasion?
– I did, and for the reason which I have stated. The honorable member himself explained that it would be necessary for the manufacturer to lodge a deposit of £25 and to pay the cost of a Government supervisor, whose duty it would be to watch the operation of cutting the billets into boards and of manufacturing them into butter-boxes in bond. I repeat that no reason has yet been adduced why the previous decision of this Committee should be departed from.
.- I do not admit that we are to be bound hand and foot by any understanding that may have been arrived at here; otherwise, recommendations, such as may be made by the Senate on new representations, would not receive that consideration to which they are entitled. But if there is any item to which, of all others, the Government committed themselves’, it is the item under consideration ; and they ought to have adhered to their elaborate partition of sizes and classes of timber.
– If the Government had done that in another place, there would have been no bother.
– The honorable member for Barrier and others took me to task because I held to the agreement into which the Treasurer had entered; and, as I have already intimated, of all the compromises arranged in connexion with the Tariff, this is the one that deserves consideration by the Government.
– A duty of 6d. means7½ per cent.
– Surely this is an occasion on which we are entitled to ask the Treasurer to stand by the arrangement which was made.
– Is it true what the honorable member for Wide Bay said?
– If I had taken the course which I believed to be best in the public interest, I should have voted for this item being absolutely free. But a compromise was arrived at; and I cannot understand the Treasurer departing from the strong position which he then took up. We are loyal to the Treasurer, and we ask him to be loyal to the obligation into which he entered.
.-The Treasurer led the Committee, to believe that he proposed to give a concession by admitting timber of 1 inch and inch measurement at the same rate, and timber underinch, at a proportionate rate. Perhaps the honorable gentleman is not aware that not much soft wood is imported under inch. One-inch boards are used for shelving, flooring, &c, and inch for match lining, stop beads, &c. Some red wood of a similar size is imported, but very little. Veneers go down to as small as1/16-inch, but according to the suggestion of the Senate, these boards would pay exactly the same rate as 1 -inch boards. This would be severely felt by people who, for instance, engage in. piano manufacture, and I believe that a firm has arranged to start this industry, and has invested in some very expensive plant. We have had a long speech from the honorable member for Wide Bay in defence of Queensland timber; but I think that that gentleman, perhaps unintentionally, misled the Committee into the belief that there is an unwillingness on the part of timber merchants to sell it. I happen to number a few timber merchants amongst my acquaintances, and I am informed by not one, but several, that they cannot obtain Queensland timber - that they cannot get their orders fufilled promptly, and have to keep their customers waiting an unreasonable length of time. Those merchants are willing to take every foot of Queensland timber that can be supplied, principally for use in building purposes; and in this connexion I should like to read an extract from a letter written by Mr. Langdon, of Messrs. Langdon and Langdon, one of the largest firms in Sydney -
With regard to the duty on New Zealand timber of1s. per 100 feet super. as suggested, we fail to see any necessity whatever for this, as we do not consider that “New Zealand timber of any description enters into competition to any very serious extent with any timber which is grown in the Commonwealth. We know, however, that the Queensland people are anxious to put the highest possible duty upon kauri, as they consider that this class of timber competes very strongly with the Queensland hoop pine, but we can assure you that the Sydney merchants can take as much Queensland pine as the merchants there can send along, and at a price which should be exceedingly remunerative so far as they are concerned.
The complaint, as I understand.it, is that the imported timber is discouraging the use of Queensland timber ; but, as this letter shows, the merchants are willing to take every foot of the latter that can be supplied.
– That is not correct.
– Would the statements in the letter not apply to boots, blankets, and everything else?
– Possibly, but we are not dealing with those articles now. It may be that it is possible to produce in Australia sufficient boots for the community ; but in the case of timber there are not the forests available, nor are there the classes of timber which are necessary for some special purposes. The letter proceeds -
We have had the greatest difficulty for many Years past in obtaining anything like an adequate simply of Queensland pine, and that difficulty still exists notwithstanding the fact that they have increased the price very considerably during the last two years.
– Is this an importing firm?
– Yes, but they also sell Australian timber, and they tell us that they will take all they can get.
– They are doing all they possibly can to block the use of Queensland timber.
– The Minister was engaged in a conversation whenI read the first part of the letter, or I think he would not have made that interjection. The letter continues -
It is a matter of daily occurrence with us that we have to turn down orders in consequence of Queensland pine coming in very slowly and in such small quantities. Therefore, we consider the duty on New Zealand timber quite unnecessary except from a purely revenue point of view.
That letter is from one of the most reputable firms in Australia, whose natural desire would be to encourage the use of Australian timbers. Indeed, the firm do all they can to encourage the use of the local product, consistently, of course, with carrying on their business on proper commercial lines. What are they to do under the circumstances? Are they to close their establishments until the Queensland people can supply them with timber, after the lapse of several months, or, perhaps, a year of two?
– No, but the Queensland people decline to supply the merchants with the pick of the timber, and leave the rubbish for Queensland !
– Then the honorable member expects that the Queensland people shall be permitted to keep the pick of the timber in Queensland, and supply the merchants with rubbish.
– It is not rubbish !
– Why should working men, whose homes are principally constructed of the cheaper imported timber, be compelled to use Queensland rubbish.
– Houses are built out of rubbish now.
– Why shouldthey do it when they can get a class of timber which is of good quality and more suitable for their purpose?
– It is out of imported rubbish that the houses are built for working men.
– What the honorable member wants to do is to substitute local rubbish for imported rubbish.
– We have no rubbish in Queensland.
– The honorable member has just told us that the Sydney merchants refused to take the Queensland rubbish.
– We Have no rubbish in Queensland.
– It was rubbish which they refused to take. The real ground of complaint in Queensland is that the Sydney merchants, desiring to serve their customers with a good material, object to take the rubbish which it may be willing to send to them.
– That is very unfair.
– If it is very unfair, the statement comes from the honorable member for Maranoa.
– I never said any such thing.
– The honorable member said distinctly that the Sydney merchants wanted to take the pick of the Queensland timber, and to leave the rubbish.
– To let us have the rubbish.
– That is what I am saying - the Queensland people want to retain the best of their timbers, and to send the rubbish to Sydney.
– There is no other logical inference to be drawn from the honorable member’s interjection. I only want to emphasize the fact that one of the most reputable firms’ in Sydney writing on behalf of not only themselves, but other merchants, tell us distinctly that they are willing to take all the Queensland pine they can get at a reasonable price; and one which would be very remunerativeto the suppliers. They are willing to take all the Queensland pine, notwithstanding the fact that the price of it has considerably increased during the past two years. But in spite of their desire to fulfil the orders of their customers, they cannot get a supply. That is not my complaint but theirs. With regard to baltic timber, it is not used to any extent in any houses of a good class. It is used mostly in the poorer class of houses for people who cannot afford to pay for the higher class of timber. Baltic flooring, lining, and ceiling boards are used in the cheap class of weatherboard houses.
– Do not forget to mention that some baltic spars are used, too.
– I quite forgot to mention that fact.
– The yards of the firm to which the honorable member has referred are also in my electorate.
– I omitted to mention that this very firm has its yards in Balmain. Baltic timber is used in the homes of workmen, the poorer class of settlers, and generally throughout the country where people of small means need to build. It isonly because it is cheaper, easier to handle, and at the same time durable, that they prefer it, and necessarily have to buy it in preference to more expensive timber.
Colonel Foxton. - It is only as good as Queensland “ thirds.”
– Perhaps some of it may be only as good as Queensland “ thirds,” but it must be remembered that there are various descriptions of baltic pine just as there are various descriptions of Queensland pine.
Colonel Foxton. - Not free from knots to the same extent.
– I have seen what is called clear baltic almost as free from knots as any timber one could wish to see. I do not want to be put in the position of seemingly disparaging Queensland or colonial timbers in any way. I admit that in Queensland and other parts of Australia there are some of the finest timbers to be found in the world, but for some purposes they are not so suitable as are some of the imported timbers. Of course, they are good and suitable for various purposes. There is a demand amongst the merchants of Sydney for the local timbers, but there is not a sufficient supply of them to meet the demand, and consequently they must have recourse to importations. In the Queen’s Hall at the present time there are some specimens of Queensland timbers, and any one who will compare them with the exhibits of baltic timber there - not the best class Of baltic, but one of the inferior classes - must admit that they are very fine timbers. No one will say a word against them. I am quite satisfied that the freight, insurance, and other charges incidental to the shipping and transit of imported timbers ought to be a sufficient protection, even if our timbergetters could furnish a sufficient supply. But there is a difficulty in the way. No matter what protection may be imposed, the merchants must import in order to supply their orders. A high duty will not stop the importations. It will not prevent a single foot of thesetimbers from being imported and used, simply because persons cannot afford to wait indefinitely for a supply of local timbers. With regard to kauri, the letter continues-
With regard to kauri pine and redwood, this timber is used almost exclusively for manufacturing purposes such as joinery and mouldings of every description. We consider that this timber should in reality come in free, as we have nothing whatever growing in the States which will compete with it for such purposes. The same remarks will also apply to yellow and sugar pine from America.
They might perhaps have added redwoods, because those are used chiefly in joinery work. They are used - almost exclusively, I think - for sashes, mouldings, skirtings, architraves, and things of that kind. With regard to some of the hardwood timbers I have already spoken about the subject of veneers. I do not know why they should be subjected to aheavy duty. There does not seem to be any reason for so doing, because there is ample room for the importations as well as for some of the beautifully marked colonial timbers that are found in Queensland, New South Wales, and Tasmania. I acknowledge readily that some of these woods are very fine in appearance. They have a good grain, take a fine polish, and are excellent for cabinet-making and such purposes. At the same time I feel perfectly sure that all that can be supplied will not be sufficient to meet the demand. I do not want to prolong the debate. I thought it was advisable to lay a few facts before the Committee for its consideration, and I consider that I have done my duty.
.When this item was under consideration previously, I made certain propositions to the Minister, and to the honorable member for Barrier, who was very much interested in Oregon pine being admitted for use in the mines at Broken Hill. To the latter I made a proposition which he did not think it wise to accept, and I now ask the former to consider whether it would not be possible to allow a drawback, to the full amount of the duty, on all Oregon used bona fide for mining purposes. That is,. I think, a very fair proposition. It may be urged that it would be difficult to follow the timber after it had been landed. But I think that there should be no difficulty, because the Customs officers would be on the wharf when it was landed, and it could be followed very easily to Broken Hill. I do not know, sir, whether you would consider my suggestion, as a modification of the proposal before the Committee, in or out of order, but it is offered to the Minister as a way out of the difficulty. I do riot think that there are any honorable members who are not willing to extend every consideration to the mining industry. Will the Minister, accept my suggestion to modify the duty? Apparently he is not paying the slightest attention to me, and I am afraid that I shall have to vote against his proposal.
– I am listening to the honorable member.
– I am quite willing to admit Oregon pine free; provided that it is to be used for milling purposes only.
Honorable Members. - No.
– Honorable members on the other side are taking up a most inconsistent attitude if they are not willing to accept that proposition.
– Why should we admit the timber free for mining purposes only ?
– The honorable mem bers for Kooyong andBarrier desire the free admission of that particular pine for the Broken Hill mines, which, to my knowledge, are the only mines in Australia that use it. All the mines in Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales, and Tasmania use hardwood, and therefore this demand for free Oregon can only be made on behalf of the mines at Broken Hill.
– There are other industries which use Oregon.
– There is no other industry which uses Oregon to the same extent as does the mining industry at Broken Hill.
– Oh, yes, there is.
– The size which is prescribed in the item implies that the timber is to be used for mining purposes only. I think that it is a very fair proposition which I have submitted.
– I do not think that it is workable. Of course, I should be very glad if the honorable member could, suggest a practical way out of the difficulty.
– If it is not adopted, I shall have to vote for a higher duty. As regards butter-boxes, when the item was last under consideration here, I made a suggestion to the Minister which he did not think it wise to adopt, but which would have met the difficulty at once.I admit that the butter industry is a very large and important one, and is deserving of consideration equally with the timber industry. I am ready to concede that we are not in a position to supply the whole of the timber for making butter-boxes, and to admit such timber free, provided that it is to be used for that purpose only.
– What about fruit-growers ?
– They do not use the same class of timber.
– They use another class of timber.
– They do not use the class of timber which is admitted for the purpose of making Butter-boxes.
– I have bought timber which (was imported ostensibly for that purpose, but which was used for other purposes. I know of many instances of that kind. I dare say that hundreds of thousands of feet of timber which wen; imported on the condition that it was to be used, in the making of butter-boxes have been utilized in other ways. If my suggestion is adopted by the Minister it will entail no cost upon the users of the boxes. It will certainly take a little work away from Australian workmen, but not a very great deal. I think that the difficulty would be met if the timber for butterboxes were cut into lengths in New Zealand just as timber is cut into lengths for fruit cases.
– It would be cheaper, too, because the scantlings could be cut up for that purpose.
– Yes, immediately a board went through the planing machine it could be cut into proper lengths.
– What is to prevent these lengths from being used for other purposes?
– The lengths would be too short to be, used for building or shelving purposes.
-There are other industries to be considered.
– Exactly. Honorable members will shift their ground continually. They have asked that at least timber required for the manufacture of butter -boxes should be admitted free, and when. I say that I am prepared to concede that, I am told that the same timber is wanted for other purposes. When the honorable member for Lang was addressing himself to the item the honorable member for Maranoa interjected that southern timber merchants were not prepared to take the whole of the timber offered by Queensland saw-millers.
I can explain what was meant by the interjection. An inspection of samples of imported pine exhibited in the Queen’s Hall will show that much of the imported timber is very narrow. Our difficulty is that southern merchants will not place orders with Queensland saw-millers except for specific sizes - in most cases 12 inches and over.
– The Queensland saw-millers have been given orders which they could not execute for timber 6 in. x in. and 4 in. x in.
– I have seen price lists of Queensland timbers, and I find that Queensland saw-millers quote prices 15, 20, and 25 per cent. lower than the prices at which New Zealand timber can be landed on the Melbourne wharves. I can inform the honorable member for North Sydney on the best authority that to-day there is a Queensland offer of no less than 25,000 feet of flooring which cannot be placed in Melbourne at even a lower price than the price of New Zealand timber, simply because there is so much of the imported timber in stock.
– If the quality of the Queensland timber is as good as that of the imported timber, what is to prevent the placing of the order at a lower price?
– The quality is infinitely better than that of the imported timber.
– Then the local timber merchants must be great fools.
– That does not follow. They have large stocks of imported timber on hand, and it is not unreasonable that they should desire to get rid of those stocks before they purchase a fresh supply.
– Is the timber to which the honorable member refers sold only through certain people?
– No; it is open now to any one to purchase the timber to which I refer at a price considerably lower than the price which would have to be paid for imported timber.
– Is it not rather extraordinary that every builder in Australia should be blind to such an opportunity ?
– I do not think that the honorable member for Wentworth can claim to know as much about this subject as I do. I have been in the building trade, and I know what I am speaking about.
– That is why I asked the honorable member the question.
– I say that the quality of the timber offered from Queensland is not only equal’ to, but infinitely superior to, that of the imported timber used for similar purposes. The honorable member for Wentworth should know that there is a very strong combine in the timber trade in Australia. It should not be forgotten that there are two parties concerned in this matter - the merchants and importers of timber who do no saw-milling, and the saw-miller who fells the trees and cuts them up in his mill for sale to the public. The importer desires the imposition of a very low duty, whilst the saw-miller asks only for the imposition of a fair duty which would assist him to make a living. I have known men connected with the saw-milling industry since I was fourteen or fifteen years of age, and although I know many saw-millers, I do not know one who has been able to give up the business and retire upon a competence.
– The biggest mill in Tasmania, and probably the most uptodate mill in the Commonwealth, did not pay 2 per cent. last year.
– And the importershave been making fortunes.
– I am quite willing to accept the statement of the honorable member for Franklin. It bears out what I have just said. Referring to the “ rubbish “ of which the honorable member for Lang spoke, I repeat that southern orders are only for large sizes. This means that the best part of the trunk of a tree must be cut up to give the sizes required and the smaller portions of the tree cannot be utilized to supply such orders.
– How would a duty affect that?
– It would have a tendency to keep out the smaller timber that is imported, and would thus enable local saw-millers to put on the market timber which could be cut from the smaller portions of the tree. That timber cannot now be placed on the market in competition with the imported small timber, which honorable members can see for themselves from the samples exhibited, is of very inferior quality, and must have been cut from the branches and not from the trunk of the tree. I do not think that I shall say any more on the subject at present, but I press upon the attention of the Minister the suggestion I have made that butter-box timber should be imported cut into lengths. I have admitted that that would, probably deprive some Australian workmen of a little work, but the injury done in that way would be comparatively slight compared to the assistance which would be given to the local timber industry by keeping out the bulk of the imported timber and making it certain that timber imported ostensibly for the manufacture of butter-boxes would be used for that purpose alone. I shall reserve what I have to sayon other items until they are before the Committee. So far as Oregon is concerned, I hold that I have made a very reasonable suggestion, and in the circumstances I shall have to vote for the higher duty.
– I hope that the Committee will re-affirm its previous decision. When the item was previously under consideration, honorable members, after a very lengthy discussion, arrived at a sound conclusion based upon a compromise between the Government and various sections of the Committee. We then fixed the duty at a rate which commended itself to the judgment of the majority of honorable members, and we have no information before us to disclose why another place should request us to reverse our decision. It cannot be denied that we have no timber grown in Australia which can take the place of Oregon. I am not greatly concerned about oregon, except in so far as the general question is affected. I am, however, interested in the timber required for the manufacture of butterboxes. I have here a sheaf of letters from secretaries of different butter factories protesting vigorously against the increase of the duty requested by the Senate. Amongst them there is one from Mr. Fenton, who is the secretary of the Council of the Co-operative Butter and Cheese Factories. He writes -
Even if the duty is allowed to remain at1s., factories here prefer New Zealand white pine, and if they were most anxious to use Queensland white pine they cannot obtain it.
The statement that the butter factories cannot obtain Queensland pine is borne out by the statements which are made by various timber merchants in Melbourne.
Colonel Foxton. - And which are not correct.
– I am not here to vouch for the veracity of any person, but I venture to say that the majority of men do not go out of their way to deliberately tell a false tale. I am unable to affirm that the statements made are absolutely true ; but in this connexion, I should like to ask the Minister of Trade and. Customs whether it is true, as has been stated, that a responsible, officer of his Department was instructed to verify the statements made by timber merchants to the effect that Queensland saw-millers have not supplied , and cannot supply their orders ? If we received a specific reply to that question, and were informed, as the result of an examination of the books of local timber merchants, that orders placed with Queensland sawmillers have not been filled, it would greatly strengthen our case, and would justify the demand made by those interested in butter factories. Mr. Fenton, in his letter, also writes -
Orders for pine for other purposes have been sent in months ago, and there is no prospect of them being supplied.
I can of course only deal with the statements which are placed before me, and I must deal with them from a Victorian point of view. I say, without fear of contradiction, that the butter industry in New South Wales and Victoria is too valuable to the Commonwealth at large to be prejudiced in any way. It is of so much value to the Commonwealth that we cannotafford to trifle with it. We must make every reasonable effort we can to enable those engaged in the butter industry to obtain, the timber which they consider essential for their purposes upon the very best conditions. I am inclined to agree to some extent with the suggestion submitted by the honorable member for Herbert. If the Committee cannot be induced to maintain its previous decision, we might meet the request which comes from the Senate by providing that New Zealand white pine cut into specified lengths necessary for butter-boxes, should be admitted free.
– We want Oregon for building as well.
– New Zealand pines are used in industries other than the butter industries.
– I am quite aware of that. I do not say that I am in favour of the suggestion made by the honorable member for Herbert ; but that I should be prepared to accept it as the lesser of two evils. With respect to the particular interests in which I am most concerned–
– There are other interests.
– Of course, I have no right to specially consider the interests of my own electorate. No member of this Committee ever does that kind of thing, and therefore I should not be justified in doing it. We all take the broadest view of every question submitted to us, and taking such a view of this question, I say that I believe timber should be admitted free of duty, because it is required not only by the exporters of butter, but by other persons, who in many different ways are assisting to develop the Commonwealth. We should encourage and not retard that development. I know that what I am saying is not favorably viewed by Queensland representatives, and I should like to say, for their consolation, that if the timber duties be fixed at the lowest rate, they should remember that the longer they keep their timber the more valuable it will become.
– They think they have kept it too long.
– To make the best of it they have not kept it long enough yet.
– If timber is not cut when it is ripe, it rots.
– I am not an expert in this matter, but I should think that if the trees which have been flourishing for so many years in Quensland are not cut for a few years longer it will not hurt them. I should like to see the timber industry in Queensland and in Tasmania encouraged in every possible way, but not at the expense of industries which are a source of greater wealth to the Commonwealth. The honorable member for Herbert said that timber from Queensland was dumped on the wharfs in Melbourne, and had to be sold at less than its true value because there was no demand for it.’ That was unfortunate, but such a thing must always occur when there is a glut in the market. That is all that is involved in this particular case. That timber came along at a time when there was no particular demand for it, and if the consignee desires to quit it immediately, he can do so only at a sacrifice. That is a well understood and recognised rule in business, and is hardly an argument to present for the serious consideration of the Committee. I hone that, we shall re-affirm our previous decision, and that those two large industries to which white pine and Oregon are essential will be assisted by our making the duties as low as possible.
Colonel FOXTON (Brisbane) [3.16].- I was not here when the last Tariff was passed, but I remember distinctly that upon that occasion one of the great arguments against the imposition of a duty, at all events upon pine, was that the Queensland pine was unsuitable for butter boxes. We hear now that.it is too good for butter-boxes. Apparently any stick is good enough to beat a dog with. Queensland is in the unfortunate position of being one of the only two States, as was pertinently remarked by one honorable member, which are deeply interested in the timber trade. Neither of those two States happens to be one of the two big States. Queensland stands in a very peculiar and unfortunate position in many respects in regard to Tariff matters. Her resources are to a great extent unknown, and apparently there has grown up a trade which goes past her doors, and which it is difficult to disturb. When trade gets into a particular groove it is hard to divert it. Vested interests arise, and those who are interested in importations ‘ from any country will go to considerable lengths to prevent any disturbance of their arrangements. I am afraid that that is what is occurring’ in this case, more especially with regard to the baltic timber trade. Extraordinarily conflicting statements have been made as to the possibilities of supplying the Australian demand for soft timbers from Queensland. I have with me statements which directly contradict the assertion that Queensland cannot supply that demand. I am assured that there is a difficulty in placing Queensland timbers in the southern- markets for some reason which I am utterly unable to account for. It has been stated that orders were given for the supply of 6,000,000 feet of timber from Queensland and that the full quantity could not be supplied. I happen to know, and can afford proof which would carry conviction to any unprejudiced mind, that 20,000 feet of first class flooring inches by inches, tongued and grooved, all ready for laying down, have been on offer in the market by Messrs. Campbell and Sons, of Brisbane, for five weeks at 3s. per 100 feet ‘less than kauri pine, for which this Queensland timber is sometimes substituted. The honorable member for Herbert stated the quantity at 25,000 feet. My figures differ slightly from his, but that is immaterial.
– I expect that jarrah is cutting it out for flooring purposes, being ‘cheaper and better.
Colonel FOXTON.- I am speaking of soft timbers.
– The honorable member spoke of flooring. Jarrah makes first class flooring.
Colonel FOXTON. - Jarrah is harder, and splits more. We have jarrah posts in Brisbane, and they are ‘not in much favour. I am merely stating facts with regard to the” capacity of the Queensland timber industry to supply the demands of the south. Although that 20,000 feet of flooring boards has been on offer at the price stated, there are no takers, and Messrs. Campbell and Sons cannot get rid of it. Reference has been made to the standing of Messrs. Langdon and Langdon, of Sydney, but they cannot stand higher in the timber trade than do Messrs. Campbell and Sons. I am assured by a member of that firm that they had orders for the supply of 150,000 butter - boxes to Melbourne. They supplied something like 50,000 of them, but on the fact becoming known in Melbourne, the trade here cut their prices to such an extent that the balance of the order was cancelled. I am assured that those boxes could not have been supplied at the cut price except at a loss. What would be the object of that? The honorable member for North Sydneywould say that men are not such fools as to lose money in that’ way, but combines very often find it worth their while to undercut competitors in order to prevent the trade from being diverted from their own hands. I understand that on one occasion, prior to the association of timber merchants and saw-millers, 2,000,000 feet was ordered from a saw-mill, which at that time was not very large, in Queensland, and was supplied, but no orders have been received by any of the associated or other mills in Queensland from that date to this, except for timber over 12 inches wide, the fact being entirely, ignored that if a timber trade is to grow up between’ two places it is necessary that a fair’ amount of the seconds and thirds should be taken with the firstclass timber. It is estimated that no less than 800,000,000 feet of timber will be opened up by the railways now’ under construction or about to be constructed by the Queensland Government. I admit that successive Governments in Queensland have been somewhat remiss in delaving the opening up of those timber lands, until there has arisen, unfortunately just at this time when the Tariff is before Parliament, a temporary shortage in the timber trade. But, as the honorable member for Wide Bay pointed out, what industry in Australia would be able to. claim a particle of protection if its ability to supply immediately the demand of the whole of Australia were made a condition of granting it protection ?
– The time to help industries is when they are struggling up.
Colonel FOXTON. - Certainly, especially when there are ample supplies that only require to be opened up and will, be available probably within the next twelve months. I have spoken so far only of the 800,000,000 feet which will be made available by the three new railways.
– All that timber with those facilities will be able to compete with anything without a duty.
Colonel FOXTON.- I do not think so. I shall show why presently. There are ample other supplies in the district of Kenil worth, for instance. It is estimated by competent authorities that within a radius of 150 miles of Brisbane alone there is no less than eleven billion feet of pine. A large proportion of that supply has not yet been opened up by railway communication, and probably will not be for some years. But the mere mention of that fact is sufficient to indicate that there is an ample supply of timber even in the south-east corner of Queensland to meet the requirements of Australia for a long time ahead.
– The price of timber has gone up 50 per cent.
Colonel FOXTON.- Prices have gone up in other directions, and why not in the timber trade? The unfortunate saw-millers and timber-getters have had to pay increased prices for things that they require. Why should not their industry be protected? There is a great deal of talk about the protective incidence of the duties which have been levied on timber, but reduced to ad valorem terms they are a mere bagatelle in comparison with the protective duties imposed for the benefit of other industries.
– The proposed duty is not more than 7 per cent.
Colonel FOXTON. - And that is called a protective duty because it happens to be on timber, and also because, as one honorable member in the corner inadvertently admitted, it affects only two small States. The honorable member for North Sydney mentioned New Zealand as being the nearest competitor of Queensland in soft woods. He used as an argument why we should not attempt to protect ourselves against New Zealand the statement that that country had threatened to impose an export duty for its own protection. As the honorable member for Wide Bay pertinently interjected, is not that an additional reason why we should protect ourselves? Since 1901, there has been in New Zealand an export duty of 3s. per 100 on log timber. In 1903 the New Zealand Parliament gave the Executive power to increase that export duty to 5s. per 100 at any time. The extra duty has not been imposed, so that it still remains at 3s. We in Queensland say that if the southern market is made available to us by means of a protective duty, and timbers from other countries produced by cheap labour are excluded, a very large proportion of the Queensland timber that is now going to waste will be utilized. ‘ What are called seconds and thirds will be more than sufficient to supply local wants, and will be made available cheaply for consumption in the southern States. It will be a great benefit to Australia generally, as well as to the timber industry, to make this timber available for profitable consumption. It has to be remembered that the principal competition comes from the Baltic, and that wages in Norway and Sweden run to a maximum of about 2s. per day for this work. This duty will result in an expenditure principally in Melbourne and Sydney of £40,000 a year in wages. Is not that a result which the Victorian and New South Wales protectionists desire to bring about? Although it may be said that this protection is primarily for the benefit of the Queensland timber industry, nevertheless, if that amount of money is spent locally instead of being spent in Norway and Sweden, it is a reason for the imposition of the duty. I wish to impress upon the Committee that what is asked for is in a sense a mere measure of justice to a very important industry in the State from which I come. It is an industry which employs a very large number of people. It is estimated that no fewer than 40, 000 people are dependent upon the success of the industry out of a total population of something like 500,000. It is due to that State that something should be clone within reason. One honorable member has stated that no evidence was placed before the Tariff Commission as far as he was able to ascertain that there are dense forests of pine in Queensland. If the honorable member gathered that from the evidence collected by the Tariff Commission, either that evidence was very incomplete, or he must have overlooked an important part of it. Every one who knows Queensland from the Tweed to Cooktown, will be aware that there are enormous forests of pine and cedar. There can be no doubt about the fact. I have mentioned that there are no less than eleven billions of feet of timber within 150 miles of Brisbane - and Brisbane is merely in a corner of the State. There are vast areas of densely timbered country in variousparts of Queensland. I have more to say, but it seems to me that it would be far more pertinent to reserve my remarks for a later item. I shall conclude by asking that because this happens to be a duty which more or less affects two of the smaller States, it should not, therefore, be set aside.
– I wish the Committee to deal with this subject as it has dealt with other matters affecting duties. The petition which I had the honour to present to the House some time ago states the case very fairly. The saw-millers who sent that petition said that -
As we are living and working in a country with a fixed policy of protection for industries, the sawmillers of the Commonwealth are entitled to the same degree of protection as is granted to other industries.
The duties which are now proposed, and to which so much objection is being taken, do not amount to more than 8 per cent. on the lines to which they apply. If so low a duty were asked for in regard to any city industry, it would be considered ridiculous. I ask the honorable member for Batman what he would say if it were proposed that a duty of 8 per cent. should be imposed for the benefit of any industry whose cause he so earnestly advocates? He would say that that was no protection at all. There are timbers in Australia which are second in quality to none of the timbers in the world. For building purposes in my own State we use practically nothing but hardwood. If any honorable member will read the evidence given before the Tariff Commission he will find that practically the whole of the wooden houses in Tasmania are built of hardwood. There are available for the inspection of honorable members at this moment a couple of specimens of the very common stringybark. There you have a timber, the breaking resistance of which in a piece 4 x 4 is equal to the strength of the best Oregon 6x6 for mining purposes. If that timber is allowed to season, it is not 20 per cent. heavier than imported Oregon. But when a firm like the Broken Hill Company is importing timber steadily, it imports that which is thoroughly dried. When, however, they want a bit of timber from the Tasmanian saw-mills they send a telegram, and ask for the timber to be sent by return boat. The timber may be growing to-day, and they expect to have it on the boat tomorrow, or a few days hence, reeking, and full of sap. If the Broken Hill Company would place their orders with Tasmanian saw-millers with the same regularity that they do with regard to imported Oregon, they would get good-seasoned timber. When this subject was before honorable members on a former occasion I stated that a certificate had been given by one of the principal mine managers in Australia, although a copy had not reached me. Since then I have obtained a copy of it. It is signed by Mr. C. F. Heathcote, managing superintendent of the Tasmania Gold Mining Company, whose mine is admittedly one of the very wettest mines in the whole of Australia.He says -
The Tasmania Gold Mining Company Limited.
Beaconsfield, Tasmania, 17th September, 1907.
During the past three years the Huon Timber Company has supplied this company with upwards of 1,346,000 feet super. of mining timber, chiefly in sizes of 12 inches x 12 inches and 15 inches x 15 inches and in lengths up to 26 feet, for use in shaft sinking and timbering same to depths of 1,250 feet. For this purpose we have found both blue gum and stringy bark excellent. When altering shafts I have had timbers removed that were perfectly sound after having been in place for fifteen (15) years. These were cut up and used for studdles and end pieces, &c, when re-timbering.
For durability in shaft work stringy bark and blue cum are better than the Californian timbers usually imported into Australia, the only objection to them being their weight per cubic foot.
Yours faithfully, (Signed) C. F. Heathcote,
One of the reasons stated by the directors of the Broken Hill Company for the preference given to Oregon is that that timber gives a warning before it breaks, and that stringybark and bluegum. do not. The evidence given before the Tariff Commission, and the tests officially made by the Forestry Department of Tasmania, conclusivelyprove that that statement is wrong. One of the reasons which show that it is wrong is this : The directors of the principal Broken Hill mine are practically the same persons as the directors of the Mount Lyell Company: Now, the latter company uses Tasmanian timber in its mine.
– Because it is grown in Tasmania.
– Surely the honorable member does not say that the locally-grown timber would be used if it were not safe?
– Oregon is not grown at Broken Hill.
– But the honorable member says that the Mount Lyell directors use Tasmanian timber because it is locally produced.
– It will be possible to use timber locally produced, but of a different thickness.
– I refer the honorable member to the Board of Trade official tests made in England. They show that a piece of gum-topped stringy bark or bluegum 4 x 4 has an infinitely greater straining capacity than a piece of Oregon 6x6.
-What about the comparative weights?
– If the timber that is known in Victoria as mountain ash, and in Tasmania as gum-topped stringy bark, is properly seasoned, it is only 20 per cent. heavier than Oregon.
– It takes twenty years to dry it.
– It can be dried thoroughly in twelve months. When an order is given a year in advance, timber in a thoroughly seasoned condition will be supplied. It is not because Oregon is safer, but because it is easier to work, and slightly cheaper, that it is bought by the Broken Hill mining companies. What would be the position if this were a Melbourne industry?
-It would get protection, because those connected with it would return protectionists to Parliament.
– No Melbourne industry would be content to ask for a duty of 8 per cent. The request for this duty is opposed chiefly by those who represent city industries. No section of the community has done more for the development of the country than the bushmen who supply the saw-mills with logs. In Tasmania, the saw-mill is the forerunner of settlement. To keep it going, timber is cut down, and the land thus cleared is taken up in small blocks and settled upon.
– The Minister of Trade and Customs says that in his district it is the gold dredge that is the forerunner of settlement.
– We find the local timbers very good for building the dredges.
– Australia is at a disadvantage, because an unduly large proportion of its population is located in the large cities; but, although honorable members know that, they seem ready to strike a blow at an industry which, more than any other, encourages the settlement of the country districts. The timber industry is not now in a flourishing condition.
– The honorable member is referring to hardwood.
– All my remarks apply to hardwoods.. Tasmania has not a marketable commodity to any extent in her softwoods.I am prepared to show honorable members the balance-sheet of the largest milling company in the State. Last year the operations of that company did not return 2 per cent. upon the capital invested in it.
– Because of bad management, I suppose.
– The company is not badly managed, and possesses one of the most up-to-date mills in the Commonwealth. But it is compelled to export timber to America and to South Africa to supply needs’ which Australian protectionists say that it cannot supply. The mines of South Africa are using Tasmanian timber for work for which the BrokenHill directors say it is not safe. Furthermore, the Tasmanian Milling Company has a contract to supply the Mount Lyell mines with timber for all requirements. The directorates of the Broken Hill Proprietary and the Mount Lyell mines are practically identical, and yet, while Tasmanian timber is accepted as suitable at Mount Lyell, it is said to be unsafe for use at Broken Hill. If the Broken Hill mine-owners prefer Oregon, let them say so straight out ; they have no right to brand our timber in the eyes of the world as dangerous. The British Admiralty is sending to Tasmania for timber for long spans, to sustain heavy stresses - Tasmanian timber superseding oak for that purpose - and yet so-called Australian patriots say that it is not safe to use this timber in Broken Hill mines. It is too late to discuss . whether our fiscal policy should or should not be protective. We have placed high duties on practically every article which bushmen have to buy ; but now that the timber-getters ask for a protection of 7 or 8 per cent., those who have piled heavy taxation upon them refuse all assistance. The wages of the mill men are higher at the present time than they have ever been before within my recollection, and the conditions of their employment are better. The mill-owners ask protection to enable them to continue paying decent wages; but honorable members who have imposed duties on almost every other production, say that a 5 per cent. duty on timber is too much, and altogether refuse to listen to a request for an 8 per cent. duty. There is in Australia an unlimited supply of hardwood for building, mining, and all other purposes.
– Jarrah is largely exported.
– Tasmanian timbers are also largely exported. If the Broken Hill mine-owners ceased to import Oregon, every mill in Tasmania could be kept cutting every day in the week to supply their requirements.
– They would go to Western Australia for jarrah, because it is cheaper.
– I am willing that they should take whatever Australian timber they find best suited to their needs. Duties on butter, hay and chaff, wheat, and jams, which we export largely, are of little or no assistance to the producers ; while duties on timber would assist those in the country. But because of the vested interests in the big’ cities, whose Industries are protected by duties of 20, 25, and 30 per cent., which increase the cost of living of the people in the country, honorable members refuse to give the slightest encouragement’ to country industries. I appeal to those who have voted for the imposition of the highest rates of duty on all that producers have to buy, not to refuse to do justice to a country industry which asks for the protection of a duty of 7 or 8 per cent.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I desire to make a personal explanation with reference to a question which I addressed the other day to the right honorable member for East Sydney, when the Prime Minister was being heckled with regard to an arrangement for certain journalistic work on behalf of the Commonwealth. In putting to the right honorable member a question with regard to a contract which he made, when in office, with Mr. John Plummer, of New South Wales, for the supply of certain articles, I asked whether it wasa fact that only two articles had reached the Department. I find that my information with regard to the’ number that actually reached the Department was incorrect. I am assured by the gentleman in question that, as a matter of fact, several hundred articles were distributed. I wish to disavow any wish or intention to reflect on the capacity, integrity, or ability of the gentleman who carried out the work which he was appointed to do by the then Prime Minister. I wish to make this disavowal very clear, because I realize that those outside the House have no protection in respect of statements made against them within it. I am one of those who have never taken advantage of their position as members of this House to do an injury to any one outside, even if he deserved to be severely handled, and I am sure that this gentleman did not deserve anything like the treatment which he feels he has received at my hands. My only object in asking the question was to draw attention to what I believed was a precedent for the action whichwas then being canvassed.
Question resolved in theaffirmative.
House adjourned at 3.59 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 8 May 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1908/19080508_reps_3_46/>.