3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. SPEAKER informed the House that he had this day issued a writ for the election of a member to serve for the electoral division of Adelaide, in the place of the Right Honorable Charles Cameron Kingston, deceased, and that the dates appointed in the writ were as follow : - Date of nomination, Monday, 1st June; date of polling, Saturday, . 13th June; date of the return of the writ, on or before 23rd June.
– Yesterday I asked a question in reference to an instruction given for the free admission of certain otherwise dutiable paper of British origin used for the publication of the Bulletin. I have this morning, in compliance with the answer of the Minister of Trade andCustoms, looked through the departmental file relating to it. I found that on the 2nd September last the following urgent wire was sent by the Collector of Customs, Sydney: -
Please reply my wire 27th ult. re printing paper. Large quantities arriving here of imita< tion art papers and super-calendered papers; these are not known as newspaper, but are exclusively used in the production of newspapers and other publications registered for transmission through post as newspapers, such as Bulletin, Lone Hand, and others. Urgent. (Sd.) Baxter, Customs.
The Comptroller-General . of Customs recommended the instruction to which reference has been made, and the Minister approved of it on the same day, that is, on the 2nd September. The same day, not only was a telegram sent to the Collector of Customs in Sydney, but the Treasurer and the proprietors of the Bulletin also were informed of the action taken by the Minister. The telegram sent to the Treasurer was in these words -
Have instructed Sydney Customs that if paper mentioned their wire to-day is used exclusively for newspapers and publications registered for transmission through post, it may be deemed news and admitted accordingly. Bulletin . advised.
– Is that in reply to an inquiry made by the Treasurer ?
– Of course not. I am certain that he had nothing to do with the matter !
– A telegram of similar purport was sent to the proprietors of the Bulletin. Inasmuch as no letter or telegram from the Treasurer appears in the departmental file, why did the ComptrollerGeneral of Customs’ think it incumbent upon him to inform both that Minister and the Bulletin proprietors of the change in the departmental practice ?
– Will the honorable member kindly give notice of the question? I placed the papers at his disposal this morning, and he has read to the’ House two of the telegrams he found there. He must also have noticed that on the day on which the Bulletin proprietors were advised, I wrote to the proprietors of the
Argus, who had made an application to me some days previously.
– This is not a reply to my question.
– All the papers were placed at the honorable member’s disposal, and, although I believe he wasted the best part of his morning in looking through .them, he discovered nothing. There is nothing to hide, and nothing in regard to which honorable members will not be informed if notice is given of- their questions.
– I give notice.
– Will the Postmaster-General inform the House what progress has been made by the Cabinet Committee in its inquiry as to the alleged bad administration of the Post and Telegraph Department?’ Is the Committee prepared to lay before Parliament an interim report, and can he say what steps the Government proposes to take in regard to the matter.
– Progress of more than an ordinary character has been made, and in due time a report will be made to Parliament.
– I wish’ to ask the Prime Minister if. his attention has been drawn to the following statement, published in the Sydney Daily Telegraph of the 5th instant, as telegraphed from Perth, in a paragraph headed “ New Arrivals. - Noisy Scenes in Fremantle “ -
There was ample evidence at Fremantle in the early hours of this morning that many immigrants by the Orotava, for Sydney Pd Brisbane, do not attain the standard of sobriety sufficiently high to make them desirable colonists.
The scenes which took place in the early hours of the morning are described, but - no arrests were made, as there was no desire to detain such people in this State.
Will the Pride Minister have an inquiry made as to the truth of the report, and, if it be found to be true, will he endeavour to arrive at an agreement with the authorities of the Stares whereby persons such as those referred to may be kept out, and a more desirable class of immigrants introduced ?
– I have not read the statement, but will inquire as to what foundation there is’ for it.
– Tn the issue of the same newspaper of the 9th instant occurs another paragraph, headed “ Bad Type of Immigrant. - Criminal Class not Required.” It says that -
The undesirable immigrant was very much in evidence at the Quarter Sessions yesterday morning- and goes on to speak of the case of a young man, a recently arrived immigrant, who was sentenced to two months’ imprisonment in the Goulburn gaol for robbery and false pretences. The Judge, in passing sentence, said that - .
From the papers before him he, the accused, had been in trouble in Liverpool^’ in the Old Country, and had had his sentence suspended on condition that he left the country.-
He added - lt was a very improper thing, whoever sent you out here? If this country requires immigrants, it does not want them to be of the criminal class, and they had no right at all to send you out here without any prospect of obtaining work.
In view of these statements, will the Prime Minister consider the advisableness of enforcing the provisions of the Immigration. Restriction Act, to prevent the introduction of criminals, under the guise of desirable immigrants ?
– I doubt whether, without the assistance of the Home authorities, measures can be devised to prevent individual criminals from coming to this country ; but I can look, into the case mentioned to see whether permission was given to this man to come here.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers -
Papua - Ordinance No. 12 -of 1907 - Con-, stabulary Public Service Act.
Recommendation, &c:, of appointment- of H. C. Dannevig as Director of ‘Fisheries, Department of Trade and Customs.
– Will the Prime Minister state whether the Government intend to invite the House at an early date to proceed with the’ consideration of the Seat of Government Bill?
– As’ I have beforestated, when an opportunity presents itself we shall proceed with that Bill.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether the Government have approved of the new site offered for Commonwealth offices in London ?
– More than one site has been offered, and all are now under consideration.
Senior Cadets, Bendigo : Drill Room Accommodation and Musketry Practice : Wellesford Range. - Easter Encampment : Transportation Arrangements. - Refund of Discharge Moneys
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow -
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow - 1 - 3. The Commandantreports that the Senior Cadets from Ballarat left Langwarrin at 3.30 p.m. on 20th April, and arrived at Ballarat at 1 1. 15 p.m. Those from Bendigo left Langwarrin at 5 p.m., and arrived at Bendigo at 11.50 p.m. A number of the Senior Cadets who had obtained permission to remain in Melbourne until the 25th April left Langwarrin at 8.30 p.m., and arrived at Melbourne about 11 p.m.
Mr. MATHEWS (for Mr. Crouch) asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice-
In reference to application for refund of discharge moneys paid by Messrs. Bruce and Madin on transfer from K.A.A. to a State Department, made many weeks ago, has the Victorian District Commandant yet had sufficient time to report on the subject, and when will he reply tosame?
– In answer to the honorable member, I may state that -
The District Commandant some time ago furnished me with his views on the subject, which in the pressure of business I temporarily overlooked, and that he is in no way to blame for any delay. I will reply to the honorable member’s letter within a day or two.
Arrangement with London “ Standard.”
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow -
The honorable member’s questions invite an expression of opinion on the policy and character of a leading newspaper which it is not necessary for us to discuss in connexion with a simple business arrangement for advertising Australia.
The Government have arranged for three months for one page of advertising space in the first issue of aseparate supplement to the Standard, to be published weekly and devoted entirely to information from and questions of interest to the over-sea Dominions. It is announced that the. supplement will be devoted wholly to furthering the development of theDominions and promoting a common understanding among their peoples and those of the Mother Country. This marks an entirely new departure in English journalism, and appears likely to have fruitful results.
Canada is advertising largely in the supplement, and unless Australia is always to remain in the background in London, advantage must be taken from time to time of opportunities such asthis.
Victoria and Western Australia have associated themselves with us for the threemonths. I will inquire into the cable route to be employed in sending Commonwealth news.
Collection of Duty on Tartaric Acid, Cream of Tartar, and Citric Acid.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow - 1 and 2. It is true an error was made in so advising the officers.
In Committee (Consideration of Senate’s requests resumed from 13th May, tide page 11095) :
Postponed item 234. Oils…..
In vessels exceeding one gallon, viz. : -
Kerosene and other Refined Petroleum Oils, in packages less than 10 gallons in content per gal., 3d. ; and on and after 3rd December, 1907, free.
Kerosene, and other Refined Petroleum
Oils, n.e.i., free.
Request. - Amend sub-items (o) and (p) to read as follows : - “ (pp) Kerosene, and other Refined Petroleum
Oils n.e.i., having a flash point of not less than 07 degrees Fahrenheit according to the AbelPensky close test, free.”
Upon which . Sir William Lyne had moved -
That the requested amendment be not made, but that the item be modified to read as follows : -
3d. : and on and after 3rd December, 1907, and up to and including 6th May, 1908, free.
Free, up to and including 6th May, 1908.
And on and after 6th May, 1908 - (pp1) Kerosene, and other Refined Petroleum
Oils, n.e.i., having a flash point of not less than 102 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the AbelPensky close test, Free. (pp2) Kerosene, and other Refined Petroleum
Oils, n.e.i., having a flash point of less than 102 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the AbelPensky close test, when denaturated for industrial purposes, as prescribed by Departmental by-laws, Free.
– When this request was last under consideration-
– When does the Minister propose to resume the consideration, of the requests respecting the timber duties?
– Immediately after we have dealt with this request. I slated that I intended to invite the Committee to proceed with the consideration of this request yesterday.
-After the Prime Minister had made some statement to the House respecting the incident of last week-
– I do not know whether honorable members desire the Prime Minister to make a statement on the subject. I have conferred with him. and if they wish him t’o make a statement he will probably do so.
– The matter to which the honorable member refers cannot be introduced now; I shall I put a question tomorrow to the Prime Minister.
– Meantime the consideration of this Tequest should be postponed.
– I did not ask the Committee to proceed yesterday wirh the consideration of this item, because I thought it was desired to put questions to . the Prime Minister in regard to it. It was for that reason that I allowed its further consideration to stand over until to-day.
– If there is anything in the charge which the Treasurer made the other day let us have it out now.
– I made no charge. The honorable member knows that his statement is incorrect..
– I know that the statement made the other day by the Treasurer is incorrect, and for that reason I intend tosay something about it.
– When this request was last under consideration I moved a modification providing that kerosene and other refined petroleum oils n.e.i. having a flash point of not less than 102 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the Abel-Pensky close test - instead of 97 degrees Fahrenheit, as requested by the Senate - should be free. I thenstated that I proposed that modification at the suggestion of an honorable member of the Opposition.
.- I hope the Minister will pardon me for a moment. I understand that no honorable member was aware of the intention of the Minister to proceed with the consideration of this request to-day.
– I stated that it would be brought on.
– I have been in the Chamber regularly during the last few days, and have heard no such announcement. Several honorable members who took part in the debate on the previous occasion are absent. In those circumstances, I trust that upon both sides of the chamber a proper consideration will be exhibited in regard to pairs, because there are several honorable members absent who Had no notice that this item was to be dealt withto-day.
– No doubt a satisfactory arrangement will be made concerning pairs.
– If that matter can be arranged I shall not offer any further opposition. But it was not generally known that this item would come on for consideration to-day. I did not know that it would.
– I spoke to the honorable member yesterday.
– Not in reference to this item being dealt with to-day. The Treasurer did not . say a word about that.
-I shall not allow the matter of pairs to stand in the way of a satisfactory arrangement being made.
– So long as proper consideration is shown in regard to pairs I shall offer no objectionto the course which the Treasurer wishes to take.
– As I was explaining just now, when this item was previously under consideration, I moved an amendment in reference to the flash point of kerosene and other refined petroleum oils. The Senate has requested that their flash point should be fixed at not less than 97 degrees Fahrenheit but, acting upon the suggestion of an honorable member who understands this question, I moved that it should be fixed at 102 degrees.
– And thus spoilt the request of the Senate.
– But I now intend to ask leave to withdraw my motion with a view to fixing the flash point at 97 degrees Fahrenheit, in accordance with the Senate’s request.
– Why not make it 73 degreesand thus overcome the whole difficulty? Let us retain the flash point which formerly existed.
– I cannot do that.
– It has been good enough for years.
– But 73 degrees is not a proper test. The other night I quoted the flash points which obtain in all parts of the world, and they range up to 105 degrees.
– The Treasurer forgot to mention those countries in which the flash point is fixed at 73 degrees.
– I quoted the whole list. The Senate has requested that the flash point should be fixed at 97 degrees Fahrenheit, and I should not have proposed to make it 102 degrees if at the time I had been possessed of information as to what would be the effect of that alteration. I think that a flash point of 97 degrees will accomplish all that is required. Mr. Wilkinson says that if kerosene possessing a lower flash point than 97 degrees Fahrenheit were denaturated it would not be used for lighting purposes.
– That statement would need to be tested before we could be sure of its accuracy.
– I can only act upon expert advice.
– Why did not the Treasurer refer to Mr. Hake, upon whose advice the Commonwealth test was fixed six years ago ?
– The test to which the honorable member refers was increased to 105 degrees Fahrenheit.
– By whom?
– By myself.
– Why did not the Treasurer make it 150 degrees?
– A close test of 105 degrees Fahrenheit is equivalent to an open test of 150 degrees.
– Then the Treasurer must have excluded oils from abroad?
– No, they were still imported. I now propose to substitute a flash point of 97 degrees for 102 degrees, and to insert in this item a provision requiring that oils possessing a lower flash point shall be denaturated in such a way as to afford the public adequate protection. I wish to make that statement at once, so that no debate may take place upon the proposal to fix the flash point at 102 degrees, as I find that that is not the best close test that we can provide.
– Who advised the Treasurer as to that? He must have received bad advice.
– I acted upon the advice given to me by the honorable member for Kooyong, but I subsequently ascertained that there was an objection to fixing the flash point at 102 degrees, and, consequently, I intend to agree to the Senate’s request. I therefore ask leave to withdraw mv motion.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
– I now move -
That the requested amendment be not made, hut that the item be modified to read as follows : -
3d. ; and on and after 3rd December, J907, and up to and including 13th May, 1908, free’.
Free, up to and including 13th May, 1908.
And on and after 14th May, 1908 - (ppi) Kerosene, and. other Refined Petroleum
Oils, n.e.i., having a flash point of not less than 07 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the AbelPensky close test, Free. (pp2) Kerosene, and other Refined Petroleum
Oils, n.e.i., having a flash point of less than 97 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the AbelPensky close test, when denaturated for industrial purposes, as prescribed by Departmental by-laws, Free.
– That will grant the industry no protection whatever.
– If I thought that the Committee would support me in an attempt to impose a duty upon kerosene, I should have no hesitation in making it.
– Why does not the Treasurer propose a duty upon sunlight?
– I do not thinkthere is the slightest chance of the Committee agreeing to levy a duty upon kerosene. Though I strongly desire to impose a duty upon that commodity to encourage the development of our own resources, I feel that it would be useless to submit such a proposition.
.- Bv way of personal explanation, I should like to make a statement in connexion with the re marks of the Treasurer. I did suggest to him the desirability of increasing the flash point of these oils to 102 degrees Fahrenheit, which would be equal to a fire test of 1.50 degrees Fahrenheit. But upon making an investigation on the following day, I found that that would be an unjustly high test to fix, and I, therefore, suggested that the Treasurer should alter the flash point to 97 degrees. I understood from the remarks made by honorable members, when this item was previously under consideration, that the proposal of the Treasurer had been made with a view to assisting the Commonwealth Oil Corporation - which, I believe, will ultimately be very successful - without unduly penalizing the consumers.
– What about oil used as motive power for engines?
– That will be admitted free.
– What does the honorable member suggest as to denaturating ?.
– That will have to be dealt with separately, and I am opposed to it. I thought it necessary to make this explanation, because the Minister is quite accurate in saying that I supplied him with information which at the time I believed to be correct, but which, on closer examination, I found likely to lead to injustice to some importers.
– I raised no objection .to the amendment of the motion, because to have done so would not have attained the end. I have in view. I must say, however, that I am staggered that the Prime Minister should have proposed -to deal with this item to.-day, and still more astonished that the Committee should have permitted him to do so. It was only on Friday morning last, after, on the previous day, the item had been postponed on the motion of a private member, that the ‘ Treasurer, in answer, to the leader of the Opposition, said that the Prime Minister would make- a statement on the matter this week. That statement has not yet been made, and we are now told, in a childish way, that it will be made to-morrow after we have voted on the item.
– I did not suggest to-morrow. The acting leader of the Opposition said that he would ask a question to-morrow.
– I know that the desire of honorable members is to have this item dealt with, and I gather that they are pretty well satisfied with’ the suggested modification as originally presented. A week to-day, the Committee deemed the position serious enough to justify a postponement of the item, not only because of what the Treasurer had said by way of interjection, but because of the fact that a charge has been lying against honorable members, and has not yet been investigated, since the Tariff was originally placed before us. It is all very well for the Treasurer to shake his head ; but there is more in this than the mere passing of an item. No doubt it is desirable to dispose of the Tariff, but we have more to do, namely, clear ourselves of a slur in the public eye. Two or three months ago, a charge was made against honorable members by an important newspaper, the Sydney Bulletin; and, to put myself in order in discussing that matter, I feel compelled to move -
That the consideration of the request relating to item 234 (Oils) be further postponed.
I trust that the Prime Minister will come into the debate and make the statement which was promised, and which we expect this week.
– I thought a question was to be asked to-day, and I spoke to the Prime Minister on the matter.
– In consequence of some statements made in connexion with this and another item, a Select Committee,’ called the Parliamentary Privileges Committee, was appointed ; and at the time I suggested that the Prime Minister himself ought to suggest the proper course of procedure, seeing that he would have to introduce the necessary legislation to bring about investigation. It may be said that the Committee have not yet been able to meet on account of the adjournment of the Senate; but that is. the very weakness in the procedure I pointed out when I opposed the appointment of the Committee. I may say that I do not believe there is one tittle of evidence in support of either what the. Treasurer said, or what the Sydney Bui-, letin said.
– I have expressed that same opinion myself.
– All the same, the charges have Been made, and they are now public property. In the City of Melbourne, there are numbers of not irrespon sible people, in business and otherwise, who believe that there is an element of truth in the statements.
– And in many other cities, too, I think.
– Probably ; and owing, no doubt, to the alleged character of the Trust in its dealings in America.
– Why .” alleged “ character ?
– The honorable member is quite right; the word “ alleged “ is not the proper one. But the fear is that the characteristic working of the Trust has been imported to Australia, though, as to that, I am not prepared to speak definitely. However, in the interests of Parliament, of the company- in question, and the public generally, this item ought to be postponed.
– I desire to finishthe Tariff to-morrow.
– The whole Tariff, except these two items, may be finished tomorrow.
– I am not going to keep the Tariff hanging over !
– The Treasurer last night did not appear anxious to finish the Tariff before Tuesday or Wednesday next.
– It may be Tuesday before we are quite finished.
– However, I ask which is the better course - to make speed with the Tariff, and leave this slur on Parliament, or have a statement from the Prime Minister and a proper investigation?^! suppose that the Prime Minister has been busy during the last few days, or the matter has escaped his attention ; but, at any rate, he ought t’o make some statement to the ‘Committee. Reflections have been cast upon us in connexion with both the kerosene and the piano items. In regard to the latter, a. constituent of my own was charged ; but if he be guilty, he ought to be dealt with in the same manner as we should deal with the Bulletin. A Select Committee has been appointed, but, as I say, there is as yet no report ; and, therefore, I urge that there ought to be a postponement. Was the Treasurer acting only in sport last Thursday, when he supported my proposal for a postponement, or with the intention of having further inquiry, according to the statement he made on the following morning? I regret very much having to use the machinery of Parliament in this way in order to attain the object I have in view ; but there is no doubt that the matter ought to be threshed out ; and I ask the Prime Minister to, as early as possible, state his intentions to honorable members.
– I was waiting today for some question to be put t’o me, or some suggestion to be made, before we entered upon the consideration of the Tariff in Committee. Having been invited by the Treasurer to . look through the Hansard report of the debate on this item, and, having done so, I find myself in a difficulty. It appears that by the use of what I understand is a racing phrase-
– Not a racing phrase - a welshing phrase!
– I do not know quite what the character of the phrase is, but it is one that would convey nothing to most honorable members. It appeared, however, to convey a serious imputation to some of them; and as soon as that fact was brought clearly home to the Treasurer, he absolutely withdrew it ; that is to say, he pointed out that he had no such intention as was ascribed to him. The honorable gentleman was speaking of the pairs and the prospect of the vote.
– Does the Prime Minister think that the Treasurer didnot know the meaning of the phrase he used?
– I think the Treasurer used the phrase in relation to the vote, and not to the operation of other influences on honorable members - that he meant the votes were in favour of a particular side, and that that fact was known, but not that the votes had been improperly influenced.
– Why should the Treasurer have brought in the name of a company ?
– And what about former statements made in regard to honorable members ?
– I understand that those former statements have been, referred to the Committee on Privilege?
– But in a leading article in the Melbourne Age of that morning there was a stronger statement.
– I do not remember that article ; but since these charges present an occasion, or supposed occasion, for action by the House, and for deciding what the action shall be, I have considered how they ought to be treated. If no one appears to prefer the supposed charge imme diately before us and no one supports it - there appears not to have been any intentional charge - and the supposed charge is abandoned by those who were believed to have made it, what is there to inquire into ?
– If the charge is made against us as a body, we cannot be our own judges.
– Surely there is such a thing as the honour of the House as a body.
– I take it that a charge made against any member of this House affects every member of the House; and a charge made in a reckless way against some members would still more affect the House as a whole. The difficulty is how to grapple with charges that have not been made.
– Against individuals there is no charge.
– In the absence of a specific charge, and in the absence of any person prepared to bring forward evidence, what have we to inquire into? Some statements that affect honorable members, so far as they appear to point to any improper conduct-
– The Treasurer would not have made the statement that he did if prior to that time similar statements had not been made to him. He merely repeated what other people had said.
– What other people said did not affect me.
– If so, those are the statements which have already been referred to the Select Committee on Privilege.
– - -Those statements have not been formally referred to the Committee of which I have the honour to be a member. We have been appointed to draw up a system of procedure.
– It appears to be perilous to rely upon information! in this matter ; but I have been informed that the statements in question were referred to the Select Committee on Privilege. I believe that we carried a resolution to that effect in this House, and, indeed, that it was done on my motion. The only thing that I am doubtful about is whether the same proposal was carried in another place ; but in this House we certainly did refer the statements to which allusion has been made to the Select Committee.
– They were referred to the Committee byboth Houses.
– This is the reference : that this body, the Select Committee - be empowered to inquire into and report upon any recent allegations reflecting upon Parliament or any of the members thereof.
– There is no specific charge referred to the Committee.
– The resolution refers to “ recent allegations.” The allegations now referred to were quoted in speeches made upon this subject in this House. Attention was specially directed to them. Therefore they were referred to the Com- mittee, for inquiry., as recent allegations. No limitation was placed upon the Committee, because, as I have said, it was inferred during the debate that some other newspapers had published statements which might also be worthy of being inquired into.
– I, as one member of the Committee, am not going to inquire into all those particulars before a form of procedure has been determined upon.
– Unless we can take immediate action there is no use in going back and dealing with past statements.
– Another point is that an endeavour was made by this House, when it appointed this special Committee, to arrive at a means by which, in future, we should be able to deal promptly with this class of attack, so that in future cases of the kind the immediate action to which the right honorable member for Swan refers could be taken. These very charges were brought up, and were referred to the Committee, for it to take such steps as were necessary. Now we have had what appeared at first to be another charge, but which now appears not to have been a charge at all. After running through the debate, all that suggests itself as practical in the present instance is, to invite the same Committee to take into consideration what has been termed by some canvassing, and by others lobbying,which occurs in relation to certain proceedings in this House. I must say, however, that the more one considers those practices, the more difficult it is found to draw a line - or will be found to draw a line - between legitimate means of making information available for members of Parliament, and the illegitimate pressure sought to be brought to bear upon them by paid agents, who have a direct interest in that kind of work. I was not prepared, within the leisure at my command, to endeavour to draw that line of demarcation. But
I think that after the Select Committee have dealt with the . matters which they, have in hand, it would be well if they would also take into consideration - particularly in connexion with Tariffs, when we have opposing parties making representations to members of Parliament which will sooner or later come before the House -whether information of that kind should not be conveyed to us in some more formal fashion, and whether individual members should not be protected against the intervention of persons who may have an interest in making those representations other than the interests of the persons whose business would be affected by the particular proposals under consideration. It would be veryhard indeed to close the doors of Parliament against those who are to be affected, either as importers or manufacturers, by any particular measure before the House. What the House wants, as a House is knowledge: We have spent a large sum of money, and some of the members of thisHouse have given months and years of their time, to the acquiring of knowledge with regard to certain items dealt with in the Tariff.
– That is not our trouble. We have no quarrel . with the companies, . but with the people who are writing these statements against ‘Parliament - with the Bulletin and the Age.
– Quite so; and the Select Committee is specially charged with the responsibility . of suggesting to us a means of dealing with such charges. The Committee is charged directly with the duty of suggesting a means by which such charges may be dealt with, promptly, and inexpensively, and ingloriously, in proper legal fashion.
-Cook. - And while that is being dealt with, we are to take no notice of these slanderous statements made . every day. Is that it?
– I have not said so. I previously pointed out that at present the’ only weapon within our power is that of summoning these people to the Bar of the House. But we all know from our experience in the States Parliaments, that by that means, nothing results except advertisement to the offenders. It was because we recognised our present helplessness, while Parliament, as a body, though possessed of the highest authority, being without the necessary mechanism or the neces-; sary means of dealing with such questions,! is unable to take effective action, that, to cure that helplessness, we appointed a Select Committee to take the subject into consideration as a whole. That Committee has met, and has been proceeding with its work. It will recommend the wisest course to be adopted to enable direct action to be taken to prevent slanderous statements. Beyond that, it appears to me, we cannot go at present. I saw nothing in the debate to which reference has been made, to encourage me to propose any addition to the tasks intrusted to the Select Committee. But that is a matter for the House. If the House, or if the Committee itself, desire that any other matters shall be referred specifically to the Committee, it is within its competence to sav so.
– Will ‘ the Select Committee have power to deal with slanderous statements made against individual members of Parliament, as well as against Parliament as a body ? Mr. DEAKIN.- The Select Committee will recommend a means of dealing with statements made against individual members of Parliament as well as against Parliament as a whole. But I am being led away from the simple statement that I desired, to make”, and this is that when I came to look through the debate to which reference has been made, I found no charge to which any honorable member adhered. I found no clear and precise allegation, nothing that had not been withdrawn or qualified, or in some way dealt with so that the substance of the statement had disappeared, and what was left was -a mere general impression.
– In the very nature of things, the Prime Minister could not expect to get anything clear and precise. Such statements must be made by innuendo, but an innuendo may do more injury to a man’s reputation than a direct statement.
– And it is for such innuendoes that the Committee will recommmend a remedy of a simple, effective, and expeditious character. The procedure must allow of our acting in such a way as will make the offender remember it. The present system leaves an offender in the possession, of a certain amount of notoriety, but with no punishment commensurate to the injury he may have done to the House or to individual members. I shall be gratified at any time to accept and further any projjosal for the more effective suppression of those campaigns of slander to which Parliament is occasionally subjected, by putting a proper responsibility upon the proper shoulders, and teaching those concerned to use the English language with due caution when referring to public affairs, as the law obliges, them to do when referring to private affairs. There must be a wider range allowed, of course, in connexion with public affairs, but even that has its limits.
– The. . honorable gentleman would not be in favour of putting Parliament above criticism altogether? ,.
– No, certainly not; but I favour the establishment of some competent and impartial tribunal which, having regard to the work Parliament has to do, and the’ great importance of its reputation while doing that work - for without that reputation, without that prestige, what authority would Parliament retain with the people whom it represents?-
– Order ! I ask the honorable gentleman not to pursue that subject.
– I was replying to interjections, which were, perhaps, a little wide. My consideration of the debate the other evening shows, of course, the necessity for guarding our own language more carefully and avoiding any reflection, even by implication, upon any persons whose interests we happen to be considering. But until there is a direct charge made, and supported by somebody, I fail to see any steps the House can take at this moment, or, indeed, until the Committee shall have advised us. Then we must take action upon its report, so as to protect ourselves against unwarranted slanders - I cannot say from within, but certainly from without - though I hope we shall add some restraints upon slanders from within.
.^- My impression was that when an item wasgpostponed without a date being fixed it could not come on until after the whole .Tariff had been dealt with, and I was not” aware that this matter was coming on to-day.
– I am sorry, but I thought I mentioned it to the honorable member.
– The honorable gentleman did not mention it, and 1 was not aware of it.
– Was it not mentioned yesterday ?
– I did not hear a word about it yesterday. The Treasurer spoke about another matter. What I asked him was whether I should postpone the question of. which I gave notice until the Prime Minister came back from Adelaide.
– It was then that I said that I was not going on with this item until the Prime Minister returned.
– The honorable gentleman did not fix any” time.
– I thought that I did.
– The honorable member did not, and this has taken me by surprise; but since the item has come on, I quite admit that the stage which the Tariff has reached makes it impossible to hang it up until this matter of slanderous ‘ statements is investigated. I do not for “ a moment depart from the original position that I took up, that we have got beyond” criticisms in connexion with the honour of Parliament of which no notice can be taken. We should be very slow to take notice of any “criticisms affecting Parliament in any shape or form, unless thev reach the point of definite imputations of actual bribery and corruption. When that point is reached, however, it is not a question of whether this or that member is pointed af. It is a question of the honour of the whole House. Surely when a direct statement is made that two or three honorable members of one of these Houses have received a sum of £2,000 or .£3,000 from a notorious Trust which is interested in some item in the Tariff, a point is reached at which Parliament cannot keep silent? If the two or three particular men hinted at were indicated, that would be, perhaps, a less grave imputation than a general charge which may be fixed by people outside upon any or every member of the. House. Let the press be as free as air in its criticisms of us individually or collectively, but the moment it publishes a direct imputation of the offence of bribery and corruption in the exercise of our distinct duties in connexion with a matter of public business, that becomes a question that affects the honour of the House.
– The press should not publish imputations. It .should publish straight-out charges, if anything.
– Just so, but still there are some charges which, although vague as to the individual, are so definite in other respects that they do amount to a reflection upon the honour of Parliament. I have thought over the question of keeping this item open, but I feel that it is impossible to do so, and that the Tariff must go on. Personally, I do not believe there is a scintilla of truth in these imputations against any -member of this or the other House.
– Nor do I.
– But, as this matter was really referred- to the Select Committee on Privilege by the House itself, the person who publishes any charge of that sort ought to be brought up before some such authority, not so much for the purpose of punishing the individual - that is a very secondary and insignificant part of it - but to afford him an opportunity to repeat or withdraw those statements before the Committee. It might be an equally honorable course for the persons who made the charge to say, “ We very much regret that we were led into making those statements. We believed them at the time we made them, relying upon authority which we believed to be true, but we find that our authority is unreliable.” Who wants to punish a man of that sort who has been misled ? His error then becomes an error of judgment, in relying too much upon information received.
– He should make amends by publishing a withdrawal.
– Yes ; but the dominant idea in our minds is, I am sure, not one of revenge” or punishment, but one of preventing a style of journalism which will make of public life anything but a pleasant arena in which men can ‘endeavour to discharge their duties to the public. We must try to put down any imputations of that sort. If there is any truth in this particular charge, it is time that we knew it. It is time that any person who accepted a bribe was banished from this House for ever. It appears that the Committee upon Privilege has had this matter referred to it, because I know that we do not stand on punctilio in matters of this sort, and the resolution read out by the Prime Minister seems to point sufficiently to the charges that I have in my mind. When the Treasurer made his unfortunate remark, the recollection of previous imputations spread like wild-fire. The Minister now says that he had no idea of making any charge of that sort.
– I said so immediately afterwards.
– Whether that was’ so or *not, here was a sinister remark made by a Minister in charge of the Tariff, that seemed to support and, in effect, repeat the slanders to which public attention had been drawn. A more lamentable mistake was never made by any Minister in any Parliament in the world. But I do not want to dwell on that. It is over. In view of the reference that has been made to the Committee, the Committee ought immediately to take some steps to ask the editor and publisher of the newspaper in question . to appear before it and give the information upon which they made the charge, or some explanation of how the charge came to be made, and the grounds .upon which it was made.
– All persons who have charges to make should be invited to come before the Committee and make them.
– I am dealing only with the case which we have in hand. We can deal with other cases as they arise.
– Charges have been made in a number of quarters, and not only in one.
– Until the Committee goes to work and brings these people up to stand by their charges, or withdraw them and confess their misconduct in making them, this thing will go on from bad to worse.
– A member of Parliament seems to be fair game for all the wild charges that can be made by anybody.
– As I say, I let them fire away so long as they do not go beyond the line of the most unbridled licence and impute something to members which affects their honesty in the discharge of their public duties. The .Committee might well, on the reference made to it, take immediate steps to bring the persons concerned before it, not with a view to punishment, but to ask those who make these infamous statements, affecting the honour of the House, for their authority. Other proceeding might, of course, follow.
– Have the Committee power to punish ?
– I am. not talking of punishment. To do so would be to put an aspect upon the proceedings which I altogether repudiate. We can very easily establish punishment for offences, but the first thing to do is to see that the person who makes these charges is brought before the Committee, either to substantiate or withdraw them.
– The first thing to do is to consider a proper system of procedure by which such people can be dealt with.
– I admit that in ordinary circumstances that would be a sensible course to pursue.
– Of what use would it be to inquire into this matter if we have no power to deal with it after inquiry ?
– Might I suggest that if the members of the Committee invited the attention of the editor of the newspaper mentioned to the definite charges referred to, and invited him to come before them to give some information about these charges, and he failed to do so, that would be to a certain extent significant. I admit that it would then be necessary for the Committee to consider what powers they had to bring him before them. But if .he will come voluntarily, the Committee need not be concerned about its powers to force him to come. If he is not ready voluntarily to come before the Committee, it will then be time to consider what powers should be conferred upon the Committee to enable it to bring him before it. If the editor of this newspaper will come before the Committee without the exercise of any sucn powers, why not let him do so?
– Suppose he does come before the Committee, what can the Committee do?
– Surely the members of the Committee can ask him questions? Surely they can put in his hand the Bulletin paragraph to which reference has been made?
– And the paragraphs’ which have appeared in the Age.
– I know nothing about the other statements which are referred to. I speak only of that about which I do know, and the Bulletin paragraph is the most distinct charge of the kind that has come under my notice. Surely the members of the ‘ Committee could put that paragraph into the hands of the editor of that newspaper and ask him for some information on the subject? Let them, go on considering what powers should be given them, and, if he refuses to give the information for which he is asked, the necessity for giving the Committee amplo powers to deal with such matters will be made the more apparent. But do not let us stand on etiquette as to the way in- which a man shall be brought before the Committee. If he is willing to come at once before the Committee, let him do so. To drag this affair on from month to month will not add to the dignity of Parliament at all. Proper means of procedure should no doubt be considered, but the matter before us should be dealt with promptly. To <my mind, it would be worse than useless to have the members of the Committee sitting for months to decide the procedure to be adopted in bringing a man before them in order that ha might be asked questions. I suggest, with great deference, that too much time should not be devoted to the question of procedure, but that some early step should be taken with a view to asking the particular authorities to whom I have referred to appear before the Committee in reference to these statements.
– I should like to point out. that when the honorable member for Dalley moved that the item be postponed, and specially ‘ desired that some statement should be made by the Prime Minister, I allowed the Prime Minister, and also the leader of the Opposition, to make statements bearing on the matter referred to. But it will be recognised that both statements went far beyond the item before the Committee.
– Can we discuss the item just now ?
– No, the discussion should be upon the motion of the honorable member for Dalley. I point out that even if the debate should continue onthe lines so far adopted, the Committee can do nothing in the matter, which is purely one for the House to deal with. The debate is drifting into a discussion, not of the duties to beimposed on kerosene cil, but of the procedure to be adopted by a Committee appointed to inquire into certain charges.
– It bears upon something very intimately connected with the oil duties.
– Of . course, and on that account honorable members will be quite in order in making casual references to the Committee referred to. But to permit a discussion of the details of the procedure of the Committee, the way in which it should conduct its business, and the powers with which it should be intrusted, would be to open up a debate which might occupy the whole day, which would be entirely out of order, and which could have no practical result. In the circumstances, I ask honorable members to confine their remarks to the motion of the honor-able member for Dalley that the item be postponed.
– I desire, sir, to say only a very few words, and 1 do not wish to transgress your ruling. I understand that the honorable member for Dalley has asked that the consideration of this item should be postponed until some steps can be taken in connexion with certain charges which have been made, and on that account somereference might, I submit, be permitted to the manner of dealing with the charges.
– The honorable member will see that, whilst it would be quite in order for an honorable member to make an incidental reference to the matter, to enter upon a discussion of details connected with the Committee referred to and the method of its inquiry, would be totally beyond legitimate debate on the motion before the Committee.
– I desire to say with reference to the Prime Minister’s statement, that the Committee should go into the question of lobbying, that, however important that question might be, and however much we may all deplore such a practice
– It is trivial compared with the other matter.
– I think it is entirely foreign to the particular and definite subject with which the Committee referred to have been asked to deal. The Committee have been asked simply to suggest to the House what steps, in their opinion, ought to be taken to protect the honour of the House against charges made against it. It would probably hamper and delay the Committee very much in the performance of that simple and definite task if, as the Prime Minister has suggested, they were to attempt to deal with a matter which would probably require very much more lengthy consideration. We are not placing ourselves or our parliamentary methods on trial ; but are endeavouring to discover some simple way by which we may protect ourselves and our independent action from such assaults as have recentlybeen made.
.- I hope that the honorable member for Dalley will not persist with his motion. I cannot see that to do so would serve any good purpose. We have threshed out this matter, and to continue to deal with it is like flogging a dead horse. I feel with the honorable member that something should be done to protect the honour of members of this House. I regard any reflection made upon the honour of a member of Parliament as a reflection upon the Parliament to which he belongs. If at any time I heard a member of this Parliament accused of bribery and corruption, I should deem it my duty, when the House next met, to publicly state that I had heard such charges levied against a certain member, in order that they should be either sheeted home or refuted. The Treasurer has made every amend for his stupid remark, and I do not think that anything can be gained bydeferring the consideration of the item before the Committee. In connexion with other honorable members, I desire that we should get rid of the Tariff. I have had quite enough of it. I am sure that if we heard that it would be possible to close up our proceedings to-morrow, every member of the Committee would be pleased. 1 again ask the honorable member for Dalley, in view of the remarks made by the Prime Minister, and in view of the way in which the Treasurer has humbled himself, to withdraw his motion, and let us get on with the business of the Committee.
– Ithink that before we go on with the consideration of the item, honorable members should insist upon knowing whether they are to continue under the stigma which has been cast upon them that thev have been bribed or are in somebody’s pocket.
– The Minister has already withdrawn that statement.
– I am. aware of that, and I am careful not to transgress the ruling of the Chairman. This Parliament is still in its infancy, and I know that many honorable men in the United States went to their graves stigmatized as scoundrels who had sold themselves to boodliers, because when such charges were levied against them they passed on, not dreaming that the charges would affect them later. If the evil resulting fromthe slanders of the men who make these charges died with them, we could at least extend to them the grace of forgetting them: But the evil does not die with them.
– What about the members of the American Congress who were bribed ?
– My honorable friend is suffering from a spiritual delusion.
– Not at all; that is history.
– Let us understand that this corruption expands a thousand-fold when it speaks from the grave, and that a few years hence honorable members who are accused impliedly
– The honorable member is one of them.
– No. I am prepared to take it all.
– Hear, hear.
– I am prepared to take the accusation of bribery. I must be very careful, because I am not an Australian native, and if I make a slip I shall be jumped on quickly. I intend to fight single-handed. If honorable members have not the power the Prime Minister ought to bring in a Bill enabling them to make these men sit up or fall down.
– Order ! I must ask the honorable member not to go into that matter.
– I do not intend to do so, sir. How is this thing done? Certain men come here to lobby in just the same way as men used to go to the Capitol in the United States. Honorable members find that their principles are in harmony with the ideas of the lobbyists, and vote in that way. Those persons then go back to their principals, and, in order to get a certain amount of money, they say, “ It cost me a lot,” and by implication honorable members are charged with bribery.
– Let us get on with, the Tariff.
– I intend to havemysay.
– Order ! I ask the honorable member to confine his remarks to the question of postponing the item.
– I have listened to honorable members opposite for days, without saying a word, and although they hold great social positions they will not make me sit down. I have risen to have my say on this question, and I intend to carry out my intention. No amount of talking will make any difference to me. This Parliament is in its infancy, and it is time thathonorable members understood that the strength of a chain is only the strength of its weakest, link, and that if this Parliament is charged with an offence every one of its111 members is deemed to be guilty. Let it not be thought that one member can escape from the accusation simply because he exalts himself, and thinks that he holds a position too high to be assailed. He simply goes with the crowd. He is one of the people while he is here, and he is no more than the smallest or humblest man in the Chamber.
– I should have preferred to approach this matter with a little preparation rather than to speak, as it were, on the spur of the moment. It is a matter in which I have taken up a certain position, and on which I feel very strongly. I might remind you, sir, that it was I who first brought before the House the Bulletin paragraph out of which this question has arisen to-day. And in regard to that paragraph, I notice that the shaft was not shot until the House had adjourned for the Christmas holidays, and we had not an opportunity of taking immediate action. Had we been able to do so, I believe that the result would have been more pregnant with good than it has been. The Prime Minister has very justly said that we are the custodians of our honour. Before I entered the House I endeavoured to build up for myself a reputation, and I mean to try to retain it.
– The honorable member certainly has.
– This is no laughing matter. If honorable members are inured to this sort of charge I can assure them that I am not.
– If the honorable member were aLabour man for a little while he would get a dose of them. He would have worse than this said about him;
– I am prepared to receive any amount of criticism if it is fair.
– Does the honorable member think that it is fair to state that the members of the Labour Party do not believe in the marriage tie?
– And what is more, I encourage criticism if it is fair. But I object to these slanderous statements, which at present we have no method of answering. The only method by which we can answer such statements is by drawing attention to them in the Chamber, and doing what we can to refute them. In this particular instance the slander which has been uttered applies to every one of us. What are we doing to prevent the circulation of such slanders? I believe that thereis a tendency to encourage them. I have been frequently told that certain members ot the House to which I belong are open to bribery.
– Name, name !
– No, I shall mention no names.
– That is a very shocking thing to say.
– I make that general statement.
– Order. I ask the honorable member not to go into that question.
– No, I will not, sir. The reply I make is, “ If you will bring a specific charge and proof of it I will dc my best to have it investigated, but failing that, I listen to no slanders of that description.” I consider that the Treasurer was most unwise in the remark’ which he made. I think that his altitude - if the information I have received is correct - is not right. He seems to encourage informa tion from those who think as he does, “and is inclined to refuse to listen t’o those whose opinions differ from his.
– One df my reasons for supporting an increase in the salaries of members was simply-
– Order. I ask the honorable member not to refer to that matter.
– If you, sir, will not allow me to proceed on those lines I must bow to, your ruling, and conclude by simply saying that at the first opportunity after the publication of this slander I appealed to the Prime Minister as the leader of this House to see that our wrongs were righted. I am not satisfied with his action so far. I think that a man of his character could have taken very much stronger action than he did, and I sincerely trust that he will now do his best to so arrange matters that if such slanderous statements are repeated their authors shall not be encouraged, but shall be brought to book.
.- I think that it is necessary to speak, simply because I intend to vote against the oil duties. Seeing that I have pretty consistently supported the Government proposals and was returned to the House as a strong protectionist, the statements which were made by the Treasurer, and, unfortunately, by some of the newspapers, could, if any one liked to apply them, easily be applied to me of all people. The Opposition vote, as a matter of course, against all duties, but I vote, from conviction, against these particular items. I . believe that every honorable member is so conscious of his own integrity that he does not take the slightest notice of slanderous assertions. I promised my constituents that I would rake every opportunity to get them the cheapest and best oil. On every occasion when an oil dutv has been’ submitted I have voted with the Opposition, and shall continue to do so.
– On this occasion the honorable member will vote with the Treasurer, who is proposing to make oil free, so that he need not be afraid.
– If so, I shall vote with the Treasurer, but I did not understand that he intended to make that proposal. My object is to get the best and cheapest oil for (he consumer. It was most improper for one of the great Melbourne newspapers to state that protectionists not voting with the Government in this matter have clearly been wrongly influenced. I believe that that statement has been made to “ rope in “ protectionists, so that they will vote with the Government; but I shall not vote against my convections or my promises to my constituents. If I think Government proposals are wrong, nothing will prevent me from voting against them.
Mr.JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta) [3.51] - I hope, after the statement made by the Prime Minister, that the joint Committee will take the earliest opportunity to inquire into the charges which have been made. The Government confesses its in- abilitv to do anything, although the Prime Minister is the guardian of the honour of the House, and we have a right to expect him to take such steps as will protect us.
– All that could be done would be to bring the offenders before the Bar.
– The honorable and learned gentleman could do more, if he were not unwilling?
– What more?
– Parliament has power to protect itself from those who choose to say things against its honour ; but thehonorable member -knows that I cannot discuss this matter in detail. As the result of a long political experience, I say that more could be done if the Prime Minister cared to do it.
– What could be done?
– The honorable and learned gentleman has known of persons being punished.
– Only in the manner to which I have referred, and invariably the Parliamentary proceedings have in the end come to nothing.
– Because Parliaments have permitted them to do so. Those who have made charges could at least be compelled to substantiate or withdraw them. The Government, having refused to do what should be done in the matter, it is the more incumbent on the Joint Committee to inquire as to the truth of the charges.
– Parliamentary proceedings have usually made the slanderer notorious and the Parliament ridiculous.
– I know it; but that need not be ; it is the fault of Parliament when such a thing occurs. There has not been a series of direct charges, and, as the honorable member for West Sydney has pointed out, direct charges are not made in these cases; but there have been innuendoes and what are referred to bv the Age as “ disquieting rumours,” which do much to kill the reputation of Parliament. When a number of such innuendoes are published, amounting in the aggregate to what is practically a direct charge, Parliament should take steps to clear itself of the imputations on its honour. What are the facts ? In the first instance, the Bulletin published the allegation that£2,000 had been spent to bribe members, and next day the Age declared that the reference was to the Freetrade Opposition. Following that brutal twist, came, other innuendoes from this newspaper, which supports the Prime Minister so cordially. Parliament should be protected from such, statements. If other newspapers have erred, let them be brought to book, too. There has been a series of implied charges, culminating in the foolish statement made by the Treasurer the other night. As the Prime Minister has, to use a vulgarism, practically thrown up the sponge, at least, the Joint Committee shouldinvestigate the charges, and report to Parliament concerning them. The Committee’s powers may be limited, but it can ask those who have slandered us to come before it, and, if they do not do so, the public will draw its own inferences. The helpless attitude of the Prime Minister amounts to an invitation to newspaper proprietors to continue their slanders, and I object to that. The sooner these statements are sifted, the better it will be for the honour and dignity of Parliament. Almost every Age leader dealing with the Standard Oil Trust contains some insinuation, and the public will not be long in coming to the conclusion that the practices of the Trust in regard to this Parliament have been similar to those alleged in connexion with other Parliaments. We should nip this slander in the bud, acting, not hysterically, but sanely, wisely, and firmly, so that our traducers will see that we are not to be treated in this way.
– I deeply regret that the honorable member for Parramatta, who referred to his long parliamentary experience, made the charges which he brought against the Prime Minister. In doing so he was showing party feeling in regard to a matter about which there should be none.
– The honorable member’s statement is the best evidence that he is actuated by party feeling.
– Ishould be as ready to defend the honorable member as I am to defend the Prime Minister were he similarly attacked. Charges have been made, but, at present, we can take only one kind of action, such as the honorable member knows has proved ineffective on many occasions.
– Not always.
– I have not known effective action to be taken in this matter by any Australian Parliament.
– I have known action to be taken on two occasions within my” political experience, and on both of them Parliament was belittled and degraded. The Prime Minister took the only step which could be taken, by moving for the appointment of a Joint Committee to which to refer these questions. Is it his fault, or the Committee’s fault, that there Has been no report?
– Not the Committee’s fault, because we cannot sit unless both Houses are sitting.
– I was astonished to hear the honorable member say that the charges had not been referred to the Committee.
– The direct charges have not been referred, although there has been. ‘ a general reference.
– We all know why the Committee was appointed, and are aware that, as a Joint Committee, it is, under the rules of another place, subject to certain disabilities as to its sittings. That is the real reason for the delay that has occurred. No one desires to screen anybody or suppress anything, because every one wishes that more effective means may be discovered for dealing with such slanders.
– We could devise such means for ourselves.
– The Committee is capable of guiding us in the matter, and I believe that if the proper course is taken there will be a cessation of the attacks upon Parliament, which, in my opinion, have been without warrant.
.-I shall not discuss whether the Prime Minister could have dealt with this matter more effectively than it has been dealt with in the past, but, as a member of the Committee, I take the opportunity to remove the impression that there has been unnecessary delay. The Joint Committee cannot sit without special permission, unless both Houses are sitting. Our next meeting will take place on this day week, when the Senate will be sitting.
– Probably this House will not then be sitting.
– Permission can be obtained to sit when the Houses are not sitting. . .
– The Prime Minister might arrange for that.
– That would enable the Committee to do its work more speedily. It is necessary that Parliament should be cleared at the earliest moment of the imputations against it; but the first thing to be done is to draw up a system of procedure. The appointment of the Committee is a recognition by Parliament that the existing procedure has had farcical results. Speaking for myself only, I think that one meeting of the Committee, after we have settled our position, should be sufficient for the devising of effective procedure.
– The Committee is not called upon to investigate every vague charge.
– No. To my mind it would be absurd to bring before the Committee the proprietor of every newspaper in which charges have appeared, requiring him to prove their correctness, because there are journalists in Australia who would be ready to print slanderous statements every week, if the only penalty were the coming before a Committee to withdraw them. We all recognise the need for more effective procedure, and I am not disposed to make the Committee the laughing-stock of Australia by allowing it to act before such procedure has been devised.
.- The honorable member for Maranoa has said that it is useless to flog a dead horse. I do not intend to do that, nor shall I chew the cud of malice in (his connexion. The Parliamentary Committee on privilege and procedure should before this have devised
– The object of the slur was to induce protectionists to vote with the Government.
– No doubt, but that is a matter which each honorable member must consider for himself. I give the remark no ‘personal application. I agree with the leader of the Opposition that we must not be too squeamish in the matter of criticism. Hostile criticism certainly tends to strengthen the average public man. My complaint, however, relates, not to hostile criticism, but to a definite charge of corruption associated with the name of a company which in the United States of America has the reputation of resorting to corrupt practices. The reputation of the company causes the public to attach some importance . to such a charge. I am an observant man, having acquaintances in all walks of life, and I have no hesitation in saying that the average man attaches great weight to any statement appearing in the
Sydney Bulletin, the Age, or any newspaper of like importance. When mud is thrown, some of if always sticks. As to the honour of this Parliament, without desiring to be patronising, I say unhesitatingly that if I were to retire from political life to-morrow, one of the happiest memories that I should carry with me would be the recollection that the Commonwealth Parliament’ had ‘ passed unsullied through two Tariff struggles. I have no reason to believe that either in connexion with the first Federal Tariff or that now under consideration, there has been any element of corruption associated with this Parliament. But, knowing as I do that the public are disposed to attach much importance to such a charge as that made by the Treasurer, I think that the Prime Minister would’ have done well had he invited the Committee to agree to the postponement of this request until the remaining requests had been dealt with, so that an investigation might be made by the Privilege Procedure Committee. Either too little or too much has been said in connexion with this matter. Had the Bulletin definitely stated to whom a certain sum of money had been paid, as alleged by it, to secure a certain vote, we should have been able to take action. On the other hand, if it has published too much, relying merely upon rumour, the sooner it withdraws its statement the better. Public men show their courage by withdrawing statements which they have ascertained to be incorrect, and leading newspapers should be prepared to withdraw a statement as soon as they find that it was ill-advised. I am satisfied that neither the Bulletin nor the Age would publish mere rumours. A keen-witted man like the editor of the Bulletin would not publish such a statement as that of which complaint is made, unless he believed that he had something behind him to support’ it. And so with the editor of the Age. It is because I hold that view that I think that this charge should be investigated.
– The honorable member dees not mean to suggest that those newspapers had some legitimate authority for their statements ?
– I am not going to write down the editors of the Age and the Bulletin as fools-
– They had a special object in view.
– Coercion was the object.
– They have either said too much or too little.
– The honorable member evidently thinks that where there is smoke there is fire.
– If I thought that there was any chance of carrying my motion for the postponement of the request I should press it to a division, holding that it would be well to defer the consideration of the request until the charge of corruption had been cleared up. I do not think, however, that there is any room for such charges, and believing that it is useless to press my motion, I ask leave to withdraw it.
Motion (Mr. Wilks’), by leave, withdrawn.
.- I wish to ask the honorable member for Wannon to explain what he meant by the remark that “ where there is smoke there is fire.”
– I can explain it very readily.
– Such a remark . is sure to be seized upon by the newspapers to which reference has been made. They will report that duringthe speech made by the honorable member for Dalley, the honorable member for Wannon interjected, “ Where there is smoke there is fire,” which they will twist to mean that, from their point of view, there was some ground for their accusation,
– I meant nothing of the kind. What I said was that the honorable member for Dalley evidently thinks that where there is smoke there is fire. That is quite a different statement from what the honorable member for Lang attributes to me.
– I merely wished to give the honorable member an opportunity to make his meaning clear.
.- There has been a good deal of misunderstanding in regard to this proposal. I appeal to the Committee, as a protectionist body, to agree to the request made by another place, and to reject the modification’ proposed by the Treasurer, although I may say that if we cannot secure the protection advocated by the Senate we shall regard as preferable to no protection at all the provision that oils of a lower flash point than 97 degrees Fahrenheit close test must be denaturated to secure free admission.
– Then it is a question not of safety, but of protection?
– From a commercial point of view it is absolutely one of protection ; but from a humanitarian stand-point it is very necessary that oils below a safe flash point test shall be denaturated, so that they may not with risk to human life be put to a use for which they are not intended. If the shale deposits of New South Wales are to be successfully mined, we must take care that the industry is protected so far as it is capable of supplying the demand for oils for motive-pov/er purposes. It is laid down that oils of a flash point test of 97 degrees Fah. and less are useful for motive-power purposes, and, as a matter of fact, they are in general use. Such oils are produced in New South Wales, and oils of a flash point test of more than 97 degrees are also imported and used for oil engines. That being so, in urging that the Senate’s request should be agreed to, we are not even seeking fora monopoly for the local industry in respect of these oils.
– Oils of a flash point test of less than 97 degrees are also used in oil engines
– Oils of a considerably lower flash point test are so used. There is a difference of opinion, even amongst vendors of oils, as to what is the necessary test for an effective engine oil. Many experts, however, declare that the higher the test the more economical is the oil for engine use, the explosive force being correspondingly greater.
– Then why denaturate the oil when the better class of oils can be used for this purpose?
– The better class of engine oil has a flash point test of 97 degrees, but is not designed for use as an illuminant. I wish to make it clear that the Senate’s request will not place an embargo upon the importation of any oil save that of the Standard Oil Company.
– This will play into their hands, because, if we make the test too high, we shall give the Standard Oil Company a monopoly.
– The point is that oil of the higher tests cannot be sold at the price at which the lower-class oils are vended. That being so, the Standard Oil Company is not likely to supply its high-test oilfor engine purposes. The British Imperial Oil Company, in addition to the Commonwealth Oil Corporation, is already supplying oil of 100 degrees Fah. close test for engine purposes. Messrs. Alexander Cowan and Sons, agents for the Otto and Crossley engines, which are known all over Australia - and which I have repeatedly used - unhesitatingly recommend the oil supplied by the British Imperial Oil Company for use in those engines. The flash point of that oil is over 97 degrees, so that we are not asking for an exclusive market for the Commonwealth Oil Corporation. Messrs. Alexander Cowan and Sons write -
Dear. Sirs, - We have to express our complete satisfaction in running our oil engines with your “Silverlight” kerosene. We find it cleanly, easy of vaporisation, and it leaves in the engine a minimum amount of residual matter. We have no hesitation in recommending the oil to engine users, and we are sure that it will give them every satisfaction.
Then, again, Messrs. Hornsby and Sons
Ltd., importers of small oil engines-
– We all have these” testimonials.
– But honorable ‘members have not read them. I wish to emphasize the point that the proposal to prescribe -a flash point test of 97 degrees does not mean the complete exclusion .of imported engine oils. It will simply exclude the cheap oil which is dumped here, and which is of no great value even for engine purposes.
– Would not the fixing of the 97 degrees close test give the British Imperial Company a. monopoly in respect of engine oil?
– It would not, because the Commonwealth Oil Corporation is prepared, to supply all that we require.
– The honorable member would shut out all imports of engine oil except those of the British Imperial Oil Company ?
– I merely wish to exclude oil that is now being dumped here. By raising the standard we shall secure to the local industry a measure of protection which all protectionists should be prepared to give. I am pointing out, for the information of free-traders, who, on principle, are opposed to protection, that the test proposed by the Senate will not prohibit the importation of all oils. If it be agreed to, there will still be 2 market in Australia’ for the British Imperial Company’s oil over the, 97 degrees test. The testimonial given to that Company by Messrs. Hornsby and Sons is on similar lines to that given by Messrs. Alexander Cowan and Sons. I quote them because they have been given by” firms representing practically the only class of small oil engines in use in Australia. Free-traders should have no hesitation in granting this measure of protection, more especially as in doing so they will incidentally guarantee a measure of safety to the users of oil. As bearing on the risk attaching to the use of lower grade oils, I wish to read the following letter from Mr. W. M.’ Hamlet, F.I.C., F.C.S., Government Analyst for New South Wales -
In reply to your’s of the 1st inst., and inconfirmation of my opinion sent to you by telegraph through’ the secretary, I beg to say that I approve of 97 degrees Fahrenheit as a flash point for kerosene. Some time ago, when this matter was under consideration at a Conference, of which I was Chairman, a flash point of 100 degrees Fahrenheit was suggested. This was opposed by the American importers, who wished to put it at 73 degrees H. Fahrenheit. After considerable discussion we came to a compromise, and 85 degrees was recommended. Since then, legislation has been in favour of the higher test, and I do not think any hardship would be entailed by adopting 97 degrees Fahrenheit as the standard flash point throughout Australia. It certainly ought to be uniform or else oil that was refused admission in one State could be introduced in a State where the limit was lower. Kerosene or mineral oils can be manufactured that will test up to 100 degrees and over, and a high test will have the beneficial effect of shutting out inferior low-test oils that may be potentially dangerous. The Standard Oil Company of America, I believe, are the people who are fighting hard for the low 73 degrees test, and from what I know of the trade, they could readily turn out a higher test oil if demanded. Kerosene is tested by the Abel close test which is, strictly speaking, not recognised by this Act, which places the test at no degrees by the open test, equal to about 88 degrees Fahrenheit close test.
That communication, I contend, discloses very fair reason why this Committee should support fixing the flash point at 97 degrees Fahrenheit. I desire to see the request of the Senate adopted without any modification. If the provision relating to denaturation which has been proposed by the Treasurer be inserted in that request, the industry chiefly concerned will receive no protection whatever, because it will be possible for large producers, such as the Standard Oil Trust, to denaturate their oils in bulk, and, indeed, they have already signified their willingness to do so.
– To whom ?
– I gained my information in the parliamentary lobbies. I appeal tothe protectionist members of this Committee to grant what I am asking. The Com- . monwealth Oil Corporation is able to supply all the oil required for motivepower purposes ‘in Australia, and if it tempted to abuse its privilege in any way, this Parliament possesses the power to step in and prevent it doing so. Is the Treasurer prepared to accept the request of the Senate without modification?
– I submitted my proposal with a view to protecting the public.
– I do not decry any attempt to protect the public; but I claim that that object can be achieved without interfering with the commercial protection which is sought by those engaged in this industry. It would be an easy matter to impose an Excise upon oils possessing a lower flash point than 97 degrees Fahrenheit if they were not denaturated. .The Treasurer’s proposal, if adopted, will have the effect of protecting the public, but without in any way protecting the oil industry.
– The honorable member is at liberty to move an amendment to omit from my proposal the provision relating to the denaturation of inferior oils.
– If the Treasurer’s proposal be defeated, the item will then stand in the form requested by the Senate.
– Then I ask the Committee to vote against the modification of the Senate’s request proposed by the Treasurer. I wish to test the feeling of the Committee upon this question. Oil possessing a lower flash point than 97 degrees Fahrenheit’ is not kerosene within the strict meaning of the term. No such oil can well be used for illuminating purposes, but a very considerable quantity of it is used for motivepower purposes. I hold in my hand a memorandum from the Commonwealth Oil Corporation in reference to this matter, from” which I extract the following -
Statements have also been made that we cannot supply engine oil. I desire to contradict such,’ and have pleasure in stating that, as we understand there are only about 400,000 gallons of oil imported from America for this purpose, and sold under the brands of “ Royal Daylight” and “ Petrolite,” we are in a posi-‘ tion to supply all Australia’s needs of engine oil, and at current market prices. We cannot, however, be expected to supply oils which may be sold at “ dumped “ prices.
That is the position of this company. I maintain that the principle of protection is at stake upon this question. I am sorry that the Government of New South Wales have not seen fit to open up the shale deposits in that State, but, seeing that a company has been formed for the purpose of developing them, I claim that we ought to extend to it some encouragement to supply all our needs in the matter of mineral oils, as well as of crude and residual oils. I therefore ask the Committee to vote against the Treasurer’s proposal, with a view to accepting’ the request of the Senate, and thus assisting Australia to become- a little more self-contained in this respect than she is at present.
– I am a protectionist, and I have listened attentively to the debate which has taken place upon this item. So far I have not discovered that the question of free-trade or protection is involved in it.
– How can the honorable member make that statement, seeing that the industry requires to be protected against dumping ?
– I am merely stating my own opinion. I may also add that I have not been approached by any representative of the Standard Oil Company. The only company which has approached me has been the Commonwealth Oil Corporation, and I am bound to say that it did so in a perfectly proper manner. .Its representatives stated their case, I listened to what they had to say, and I have given their representations every consideration. The honorable member for Macquarie has said that that Corporation is prepared to produce oils of a certain quality, and in sufficient quantity to supply the entire needs. of the Commonwealth. I am not in a position to say whether or not his statement is accurate. But, upon a former occasion, this Committee deliberately decided that kerosene should be admitted free, and I see no reason why we -should depart from that decision. I do not see my way to support the request of the Senate. e It is not a Government proposal, and, while honorable members doubtless pay every respect to proposals submitted by the Government, they have a perfect right to exercise their own judgment in determining whether any ‘ request by another place ought to be entertained. I intend to vote- as I did upon a previous occasion.
.- I really cannot understand the objection urged by the honorable member for Mernda as to the unwisdom of agreeing to the request of the Senate simply because it emanates from another place. To my mind, the merits of the proposal should be considered.
– The honorable member for Mernda merely said that this request of the Senate is not a Government proposal.
– But the honorable member will admit that representatives in another place are at least endowed with a little intelligence. In my opinion, they have endeavoured to improve upon the work of this Committee by protecting the public from imposition by dishonest traders. We know that in country districts it has not been an uncommon thing to find storekeepers selling oil possessing a lower flash point than 70 degrees Fah. for illuminating purposes. The result of using this oil for lighting purposes has been very unsatisfactory. It is our duty to protect the public from imposition of that kind. In agreeing to the request of the Senate, the Treasurer is acting in the public interest. I voted for the free admission of kerosene, but I now intend to go one better by insisting that the article which is sold as kerosene shall be of a quality that will guarantee satisfaction to the users of it. We all know that the use of inferior oils has been responsible for serious damage in some of the homes of this country. The want of Government control in the past in connexion with kerosene has resulted in many serious accidents.
-1 - How many accidents can the honorable member speak of within his own knowledge?
– I know of quite a number, though I am not prepared at the moment to state exactly how many. The honorable member for Maranoa always tries to catechize speakers with a view to eliciting information, which he very seldom gives when he is on his feel.
– Do I not always answer questions ?
– The honorable member tries to. If with no further object than that of protecting the public, this requested amendment ought to be made ; and, if honorable members choose to oppose the proposal put forward by the Government, and uphold dishonest traders, the responsibility rests with them.
– The Government did not put this proposal forward.
– But the Government are now adopting it.
– If there be all this danger, why did the Government not think of it before?
– For the simple reason that the Government do not happen to be omniscient. Surely it is not suggested that the Government should refuse to accept an amendment, because they did not happen, at a prior stage, to have realized the advantage of such an amendment. It is a patent fact that there is much danger and considerable damage arising from the use of inferior oil, though the fault is not always laid on the oil, but is attributed to the use of a cheap lamp. I hope the Committee will accept the reasonable request of the Senate.
.- It is refreshing to hear the pearls of wisdom which fall from the honorable member for Gwydir, who is now posing as an authority on kerosene and the bursting of lamps. When I asked the honorable member how many such accidents had come under his observation, he merely replied, “ Quite a number,” and, as usual, he is as evasive as possible. If the honorable member possesses all this wisdom in relation to kerosene, why did he not give the Treasurer the benefit of it when the Tariff was previously before us?
– I have not now given the Treasurer the “ benefit.”
– According to the honorable member, if this requested amendment be not made, all the lamps in the Commonwealth are going to burst, with the result of wholesale destruction of life. But is the honorable member “ game “ to vote against kerosene coming in free? I venture to say that 99 per cent, of his constituents use kerosene as an illuminant; and there can be no doubt that the Government are supporting this proposal as a cloak to the imposition of a duty of 6d. per gallon. The Treasurer desires that this requested amendment- shall be .made in order to give greater security to life and property ; but it will be observed that bis able supporter, the Government Whip, was able to point to only one fatal accident within his knowledge throughout the Commonwealth. Every day in the newspapers we see accidents caused by the use of pea rifles ; but would the Government propose to forbid the use of such rifles on that account ? I have known people die in their beds, but I do not suppose that the Government would propose to put a tax on these domestic articles. As a matter of fact, it is not the inferior kerosene that bursts the lamps, but the defective character of the lamps themselves.
– I may say that there is a duty on pea rifles.
– Why. not prohibit ‘their importation ?
– - It would be a good thing if we could.
– I quite agree with the Treasurer. However, I should like to know why the honorable member does not admit that this proposal means a tax on kerosene, instead of allowing the honorable member for Macquarie to “ give the show away.” The honorable member said that if the proposed duty were imposed, the Australian company might be able to manufacture kerosene of low flashing point, so as to compete with the imported article.
– I did not; I said that the proposed duty would be of no good - that it would be little better than nothing.
– Does the honorable member say that low-flash oil manufactured in Australia is any better than low-flash oil manufactured elsewhere ?
– I am speaking of the duty, not the oil.
– I am speaking of oil which is said to be dangerous to life and property. If the- Treasurer desires to tax illuminant, why not tax electricity and gas, or, as the honorable member for Barrier suggested, the sunlight? In order to test the sincerity of the honorable member for Gwydir, I intend to move a modification to the effect that kerosene flashing over 97 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the Abel-Pensky close test, shall be free, and that kerosene under 97 degrees flash, but over 73 degrees, shall also be free, providing the cases are stencilled and the tins are embossed “ Not for lighting purposes.”
– How could the tins be followed to small consumers?
– How do we follow anything to small consumers ? How anxious the honorable member for Melbourne Ports and others now are for the small consumer, considering that when they were imposing duties of 40 and 50 per cent, on necessaries of life they apparently paid no heed to him, but considered only the interests of manufacturers and their employes. For the motion which I have indicated, I claim the vote of the honorable member for Gwydir, on the speech he has just made. If the honorable member is true to what ha said a week ago, to the effect that if words, showing that the oil had to be used for oil engines only, were stencilled on the cases he would be. willing to let oil in free, he will vote. with me, and I now give him a chance. How many people in the bush buy less than a tin of kerosene ?
– What good would the amendment do?
– It would guarantee that there was no fraud on the -part of importers; and if unscrupulous traders sell inferior oil for lighting purposes, then it is for State legislation to meet such cases.
– Before I submit the modification indicated by the honorable member, we must dispose of that moved by the Minister.
– The honorable member for Maranoa has put in a plea for the branding of tins, but not long ago he told the Committee that he knew of cases where unscrupulous tradesmen had put inferior oil into tins that were branded with the guarantee of a higher flash test.
– I never said anything of the sort.
– I took down the honorable member’s words. He said, “ I have known unscrupulous traders in Queensland and New South Wales to fill White Rose tins with inferior oil and sell it as White Rose kerosene.” The honorable member also told us that he came down all the way from Queensland in a hurry to oppose this request. Why did he come down from Queensland to oppose a proposal which is made on behalf of the men and women who use oil in that State?
– I came down for the benefit of those who use oil for oil engines.
– Of every one hundred gallons of oil imported into the Commonwealth only two are used for oil engines.
– The honorable member got that information from the opposition company.
– I am prepared to stand by the information. I am told by Messrs. Hornsby and Company, who have 2,000 oil engines at work in Australia, that nearly every one of them is working with high-test kerosene. The opposition to the proposal of the Treasurer is in the interests of the Standard Oil Company. What did that company do recently ? The Treasurer brought down the Tariff on the 8th August, imposing a duty of 3d. per gallon on kerosene in tins. .In New South Wales the Standard- Oil Company collected £13,350 extra from the public, whilst they paid in duty only £50. In Victoria they collected £13,000 extra and paid in ‘duty only £10. In Queensland they collected . £8,000 extra.
– What about the opposition company which the honorable member represents ?
– I am representing no company. I am representing the masses. The Standard Oil Company collected £52,000 from the people of Australia and paid in duty only £7,000. What became of the other £45,000? It cannot be in the interests of the people that low-test kerosene should be imported.
– It is in the interests of those who use oil engines.
– It is not so, because nearly all the oil engines in Australia are working with high-test kerosene.
– That is not true.
– The largest oil engine working in Australia to-day is at Broken Hill. It is a 66 horse-power engine, and is worked with high-test kerosene. As a’ matter of fact the Standard Oil Company does not desire to import low-test kerosene for oil engines at all. All around Sydney and Melbourne this stuff can be seen marked up “ Best American kerosene - Royal Daylight “ ; and it is going into the homes of the poorer people. Why should we allow the Standard Oil Company to import kerosene of low-grade quality whilst every other country in the world insists upon a high test? In Sweden and Denmark the flash point is 104-; in Ohio, whence a large quantity of this oil comes, the flash test is 98 ; in Canada it is 96.95 ; in Columbia 120; in New Mexico 105. Before Federation the flash point was 83 degrees in Queensland. As a matter of fact there was no need for the Treasurer to bring this matter before the Committee at all. He could have dealt with it bv regulation. It has been said that no accidents have occurred through the use of low-test kerosene; but there have been two cases this year. In one of them a lamp exploded, and a woman was burnt to death. Each of the cases occurred in Ballarat; and, strange to say, it is only within the last four months that low -test kerosene has been introduced to Ballarat. The effect of rejecting the Treasurer’s proposal will be that the poorer people who cannot afford to buy their oil by the tin, but purchase it by bottle, sixpennyworth at the time, will have to put up with inferior oil. I remind honorable members that there is an Australian company carrying on business in New South Wales that is capable of supplying all the requirements of the. Commonwealth in regard to oil for oil engines. Yet we find protectionists who are not prepared to protectthat industry. I venture to say that’ if it were a Victorian industry there would be no doubt about its protection. The Victorian members would see to that. But the representatives of New South Wales seem to be afraid to demand protection for an industry in their State which will afford employment to thousands of men. I hope that the Committee will not be led away, with the cry that a low test is in the interest’s of people who use oil engines, because as a matter of fact it does not pay them to use low-test kerosene.
– Is the honorable member in favour of denaturating the oil?
– As a member of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission I was a party to a recommendation that kerosene in tins of 10 gallons should be liable to a duty at 3d. per gallon. That was a straight-out protectionist duty, and I am prepared to’ vote for it at the present time. But the Committee in its wisdom, refused to entertain that proposition, which was made for the purpose of encouraging the tinning and packing in Australia. The House decided practically that kerosene should be absolutely free, without anycondition attached to it, and the item left this Chamber in that shape. The Senate, on some process of reasoning, decided to ask the House to introduce” a flash test. I do not know whether that is intended to operate as a protective duty or condition, or whether it is intended for the protection of the public. As the proposition has been sent down to us, it appears that kerosene above 97 degrees flash test is to be free. That leaves kerosene below that test liable to a duty of 6d. a gallon.
– It does not.
– That goes Beyond’ the duty of 3d. per gallon originally proposed on packed or tinned kerosene.
– As I have moved, kerosene below 97 degrees flash test wilt not be liable to a dutv of 6d. per gallon.
– I know that the Treasurer has proposed a modification. I will come to that presently. The effect of the Senate’s proposition renders liable to a duty of 6d. per gallon all the low-grade kerosene used for industrial purposes in oil engines, and so on. I have received the strongest protests from various parts of the country against that proposition. 1 fail to see how it’ would have any protective incidence or benefit of any kind whatever. I am, therefore, not prepared to accept it. I am prepared to revert to the original proposition of the Tariff Commission, and place a duty of 3d. per gallon on tinned kerosene, with a view of promoting the local tinning and packing, because I believe that would result in giving a considerable amount of local employment. However, that proposition is now past and gone, and we are faced with a proposal from the Senate for which I do not think the Government are responsible, and which emanated from a private member. Every honorable member, therefore, has a free hand, and ought to exercise his deliberate judgment in the matter. I should be piepared to support any duty that would have a protective effect or result, but the Senate’s proposal will mean a burden of 6d. per gallon on industrial oil, and will do no good whatever to the development of Australian industry. That being so, the Treasurer now proposes to amend the Senate’s proposal by providing that low-grade kerosene, below 9.7 degrees test, shall be free so long as it is. denaturated. That means that the whole ‘ of the low-grade kerosene, whether introduced in bulk or in tins, will, before it is admitted into the Commonwealth or placed upon the market and made accessible to the- public, have to be untinned or unbulked, and placed in separate receptacles for the purpose of being denaturated That, I believe, would mean a considerable amount of trouble and expense, involving, in all probability, a burden equivalent to a duty upon industrial oils. I fail to see, therefore, in the circumstances, what is, to be gained by it. The Treasurer’s proposal imposes the obligation of denaturating the low-grade oil before it can be admitted, and, therefore, it will, have no protective incidence or benefit whatever upon the Australian shale oil industry.
– Will if afford any protection to the consumer?
– I understand now that it is proposed merely as a method of protecting the public. I do not think a provision of that kind ought to be inserted in. a Federal ‘Customs Tariff Bill. The Tariff is not the place in which to deal with health matters, fraudulent’ imitations, trade-marks, or goods that ought .not to be placed upon the market.
– In any case, denaturating will not have- that effect.
– I have not sufficient information as to how the denaturatina is lo be effected, under what conditions, who is to do it, and when it is to be done, or what expense will be involved. The proposition as it stands is very inchoate. Everything seems to be left to chance. Everything is to be settled by regulation. The denaturating process may be cheap or expensive. I am inclined to think that it will be expensive. By that I mean not so much the ingredient as the treatment and manipulation to which the oil will have to be subjected. Therefore, ,as the proposition now put forward by the Treasurer will have no protective effect, but will certainly be burdensome to industry, and is one of those matters which should be dealt with by a separate Bill. I cannot support it. It is doubtful whether we can introduce into a Customs Tariff Bill anything but the imposition of Customs duties. It might afterwards be held that this provision is not a Tariff provision, and that it comes rather within our general power of dealing with trade and commerce.- If this Parliament desires to restrict or regulate the importation- of kerosene, to impose a flash test, or to insist upon the denaturating of low-grade kerosene, the matter ought to be specially; dealt with by a separate Bill. Otherwise, the question should be left to the States Parliaments to deal with as one of domestic legislation. The Stales Parliaments can deal with it more effectively than we can, because, although the Federal Parliament may pass a law providing for the act of denaturating at the ports of entry, the Federal control ceases immediately the article goes into consumption, and it is doubtful whether this Parliament could pass a law pursuing the oil after it leaves the Customs House. It is quite possible that some process of destroying the denaturating ingredient might be resorted to afterwards. I am doubtful whether this Parliament can deal effectively with this important subject in the manner suggested by the Treasurer. In those circumstances I feel disposed to vote straight against both the Senate’s request and the modification proposed by the Treasurer.
._I have inquired into this matter, and” it seems to me that the reduction of the flash test from 102 degrees to 97 degree’swill not effect any good purpose. In India, which has a hotter climate than any part of Australia, the flash test has been fixed at 76 degrees, and I am advised, after inquiry from some of thehighest, authorities here, that a flash test of 76 degrees is perfectly safe for lighting purposes, provided that the right kind of lamps are used, and that kerosene tested up to 102 degrees or 97 degrees test is no better for lighting purposes than that tested up to 76 degrees. In England, I think, the flash test is 73 degrees,, and no country has thought fit to fix as high a standard as is proposed by the Treasurer.
– Oh, yes.
– Where ? None of the Russian oil comes up to 100 degrees flash test, and therefore the effect of the Treasurer’s original proposal would really have been to grant a monopoly to the Standard Oil Company. Theirs was the only oil that would have come in free. Every other oil would have been charged the duty, and it would therefore have meant larger profits to that company at the expense of the community, and the shutting out of other oils. The Treasurer then proposed that oil below the flash test suggested should be denaturated. I am advised that kerosene oil cannot be denaturated, except in such a way as to destroy all its lighting power and render it absolutely useless for oil engines or any other purpose. There is, therefore, nothing to be gained by attempting to make any such provision. The proper course for the Committee to take is to disagree with the Senate’s request, and leave the oil free for the benefit of the consumer. If the Treasurer wants to impose a tax simply for revenue purposes, let him say so straight out. It has been suggested that it will be in the interests of the Commonwealth Oil Corporation. That company was started when oil was free. They relied upon their shale oil,and knew that there was no duty on imported kerosene. There is a large number of companies in Scotland that make oil from shale. At the present time, although they are closer to the American market than we are, and both American and Russian oils can be sold cheaper there than in Australia, some of those companies are making something like 40 per cent. profit. If they can do that with a lower percentage of oil from their shale than we have in Australia. I think the Commonwealth Oil Corporation should be able to pay their way well on their shale oil, without any duty being imposed upon imported oil. Is the Committee going to penalize the people in the country ? The proposal affects the poor people, because this oil is used for lighting purposes by the poorer classes in the community. The people that live in towns have electric light and gas. They are not dependent upon kerosene in the same way as are the miners and farmers and others who live away from the large centres. In the back country of every State the people have no other light than kerosene, and to impose a tax of 6d. per gallon will be to tax those people at a very high rate for an article that they cannot do without.
Question - That the proposed modification (Sir William Lyne’s) be made - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 18
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed modification negatived.
– In view of the vote that has just been taken. I do not propose to proceed with the modification I suggested.
Question - That the requested amendments in item 234, paragraphso and p (Oils - Kerosene), be made - put. The Com. mittee divided.
Ayes … … 14
Noes … … … 32
Majority …. 18
Question so resolved in the negative.
Requested amendments not made.
Postponed item 303. Timber, viz. : -
Request. - Make the duty1s.
Upon which Sir William Lyne had moved -
That the requested amendment be made, with the following modification : - “ Add new sub- item : - Oregon, undressed, in sizes of 12 inches x 6 inches (or its equivalent) and over, per 100 super, feet, 6d.”
.- When this matter was under discussion last year, the Committee would have made Oregon free, had it not been that the subterranean tactics adopted when certain honorable members found themselves in a difficulty which caused a couple of members of the Opposition to agree to a compromise ; when, as a matter of fact, we had the Government beaten by two votes on the straight issue of duty or free. We could have got the timber free but for this piece of ingenious finesse. A deputation of timber merchants waited upon the Treasurer in Sydney, and made representations to him. Mr. Langdon, of the firm of Langdon and Langdon, said that under the New Tariff the duty was 6s.-
– Under the new ! Why, it is 3s. yet (looking at the list). There is no change at all.
Mr. Langdon explained that the difference arose through the interpretation given to “superficial foot.”
– How do you know what the interpretation is? The by.-laws are not out yet. I was telegraphing to Melbourne about them to-day.
Mr. Langdon. The reason I know is that we have had to pay the extra duty.
Sir William Lyne (further consulting the list) said his intention was that the duty should be the same as it was before. If they had not paid the increased duty before the Tariff was brought down they would not have to pay it now. There was no doubt as to what his intention was.
Mr. Langdon, with a relieved air, said that if this was the case there was no necessity to argue the matter further. He again drew attention to the anomaly by which they were compelled to pay as high a rate of duty for three-eighths of an inch as for the. full inch.
asked whether there had been trouble through the importation of timber just a shade under the inch, in order that advantage might be taken of the reduction of duty.
Mr. McSweeney. Absolutely no, Sir William. Sir William Lyne rejoined that it looked to him as if there had been some trouble on this account, but he. would make inquiries on the subject next day.
He led the deputation to understand clearly that it was not intended to charge, under departmental misinterpretation higher duties on the smaller sizes of timber. When reminded of the occurrence on a former occasion, he objected that the report was not correct.
– In what newspaper was the report published?
– In the Sydney Daily Telegraph.
– Does any one take notice of the reports in that newspaper ?
– The members of the deputation say that this report is correct.
– What I said was that I did not agree with the proposal as to surface measurement, and to the alteration in the general system of measurement.
– Whatever may have been in the Minister’s mind, he did not express it clearly, if the report of his utterances, which the members of the deputation say is correct, does not convey his intention. My view is that duties should be fixed specifically by Parliament, and that the departmental authorities ought not to be allowed to go behind Parliament and as a result of apparently wilfully distorted interpretation of Parliament’s intentions, make regulations doubling, trebling, or even further increasing imposts. That has been done in many directions. An item making dutiable at the one rate timber of different thicknesses necessarily creates anomalies. Those who use3/8-inch thick timber should not have to pay duty on it as if it were inch timber.
– Why is this duty imposed?
– To increase the price of timber to the workers who use it, in the hope of compelling them to use less suitable timber, for which they would have to pay more. The duty will not stop or lessen the. importation of timber, because, notwithstanding what has been said, merchants unanimously declare that they cannot get their orders for Queensland pine filled within a reasonable time. They point out that thev cannot afford to wait from eighteen months to twoyears to suit the convenience of the Queensland mills.
– The proposition applies to all imported timbers.
– Yes, though chiefly to oregon, baltic, and redwood. I rose to call attention to the unfairness of levying this tax. The timbers on which it is imposed are used chiefly by the wage-earning classes, men of small means, who require them for flooring boards, weather boards, match linings, studs, sashes, skirtings, and architraves, in the erection of dwellings. Those who can afford to pay for high-class dwellings do not use baltic to any extent.
– I shall not speak at length on this subject, Because I do not think that any vote will be altered by what may be said in regard to it. I regret, however, that the Treasurer did not stand by the proposal of the House of Representatives. We should have’ some explanation from him as to why the Government supported an alteration of the item in another place. Had it not been Ibr an arrangement made between the Treasurer and some of the members of the Committee, much of the timber coming under this item would have been made free. One or two of those who supported that compromise say, that, as the Minister has broken it, they do not feel bound to support it any longer, and under the ruling of the Chairman, it is possible to have a vote on the question whether certain timber shall be made free. I shall not, however, press for that. I think that it would be fairer if we adhered to the compromise which was arrived at here when the item was last under consideration, and that was to levy an allround duty of 6d. per 100 superficial feet. I regret very much that the Minister should now want to place a duty of 6’d. on Oregon, and a duty of1s. on all other timbers. His proposal will suit my constituency because it is mainly interested in the use of Oregon. But I do not. think that it is fair for the Minister to differentiate in that way. I shall certainly support his proposal so far as it relates to Oregon, but immediately after it is carried, as I believe it will be, I shall support the imposition of a duty of 6d. per 100 superficial feet on all other timbers. I believe that it would save time if the Minister, instead of proposing this modification with regard to the duty on Oregon, would frankly propose a duty of 6d. on all the timber included in the item. Not only would it tend to save time, but I think that it would be the more honorable course for the Minister to pursue, in view of the compromise which was arranged here, and in which I was not concerned. I voted then to make Oregon free, and, therefore, I am not affected in any way. But at least the Treasurer should explain why, behind the backs of those with whom he entered into the compromise, his colleagues in another place departed from it. Of course, I should likeoregon to be made free, because there is no doubt that the duty is a tax on a big industry. Mr. Wainwriglif, secretary of the Mine Man- agers’ Association of Broken Hill, has, in reply to an inquiry from me, forwarded this telegram-
Under existing Tariff as passed by Representatives additional burden on the Barrier mines equals ^’22,000 annually.
What he means is that the additional duties on mining requisites generally have increased the cost of producing ore at . Broken Hill by £22,000 a year. ^
Colonel Foxton. - How much of that increase is attributable to the duty on timber?
– A duty of 6d. per 100 superficial feet represents an annual tax of £5,000. That was the rate under the old Tariff, and it was continued in this Tariff, so that as far as timber is concerned this House has imposed no fresh burden upon the consumer. The Senate’s request if made means practically an additional burden of £5,000 to the mines at Broken Hill. I have the idea that the miner has as -much right to be considered as have other people. I do not ask that he shall receive any special consideration.
Colonel Foxton. - The honorable member is not speaking of the working miner now ?
– Yes, I am. I take it that the working miner at Broken Hill - I do not know about other places - has to produce everything.
– And their houses are built with soft wood. .
– Yes. So far as I know, the directors of the companies are not philanthropists. They are not running the mines for the sake of finding employment. If the lead which is produced by the miners does not provide for wages, duties, freights, taxes, rates and dividends, the mines are shut down.
Colonel Foxton. - The dividends are all right.
-A little while ago they were. I do not follow the dividend list, as I am not interested in a single mine, but I understand that lately there has not been a dividend declared in respect of any mine. For the first time in its’ history the Proprietary Mine recently declared no dividend, and I believe that the South Mine and the Central Mine - the other big mines - have paid no dividends lately.
Colonel Foxton. - They have not reduced wages.
– I do not want to say much about that question at the present time. The men say that their wages have been reduced. At Broken Hill there is a system of contract work underground. 1 presume that the honorable member knows something about mining, and therefore he will understand that if the men have their work set to them on contract there is a big possibility of their wages being reduced. As regards the .surface men, an understanding was fixed up at a time when things were booming at the Hill, but its term will soon expire, and the whole question unfortunately will have to be reconsidered. I do not want to give a vote, nor should I like this House to give a vote which would make the work of fixing up the wages any more difficult than it is likely to be. On other, occasions I have spoken at considerable length on the timber duties, and therefore I do not want to speak at much length now. I am assured that wherever the’ mines can use colonial timber they do so. I do not suggest that they are actuated bv patriotism or any spirit of that kind. The managers want to run the mines on commercial lines, and for some of the work they find that it is advantageous to use hardwood.
– We have heard that for the first time to-day.
– No, I have said that the mines use a tremendous quantity of hardwood. . They do not use Oregon for all their work. If they are erecting a . big mill on the surface, any quantity of hard- wood is used. I have ‘ made that statement previous!)’.
Colonel Foxton. - It is used for building purposes.
– For many purposes. They experience a difficulty in getting colonial timber delivered to them. From Mr. F. C. Howard, mining director of the Broken Hill South Silver Mining Company, I have received a communication in which he states that it is difficult to get the mine’s requirements supplied from Tasmania. He has furnished the details con- *cerning the ordering and delivering of four lots of timber. On the 17th August, 1906, the company ordered 152,200 superficial feet ; in January, 1907 - that is five months after the order was given - 148,779 feet were delivered, and the quantity short delivered was 3,421 superficial feet’. On the 2nd May, 1907, an order for 150,000 superficial feet was given ; in November,
I90 - that is six months from the date of the order- 121,159 superficial feet were delivered’; and the quantity short delivered amounted to 28,841 superficial feet. On the 2nd July, 1907, an order was given for 8,083 superficial feet, but tlie timber is not yet to hand. On the 6th August, 1907, an order was given for 210,700 superficial feet, but it is not yet fulfilled. I trust that the Committee will adhere to its previous decision, and if it does that will satisfy me for the time.
.- The hon orable member for Barrier has set a very good example. He has pointed out that on a previous occasion we had a long debate Oil this item, and there is not much evidence that further discussion is likely to influence a vote. He has expressed his surprise that the Minister is not resisting the request, and adhering to the decision of the Committee. On a previous occasion I fought to get timber admitted free, but I do not wish to tell you, sir, the reason why the proposal for. a duty of 6d. per 100 superficial feet was carried. That occurred through a. misunderstanding. Even now, if I thought that there was a possibility of getting timber placed on the free list, I should submit to you a modification of the Treasurer’s proposal. So far there has been no evidence given, either to-night or last week, that there is an inclination to go in that direction. Apparently the Treasurer desires to pick out Oregon for a duty of 6d., and to levy a duty of is. on baltic and kauri pine. That is manifestly unfair to various trades which use those two classes of timber. It will i>e a very severe impost indeed to them. Oregon is largely used by ship-builders in fining and ceiling boats, and kauri is the best class of wood that can be used for deck planking. The mere imposition of a duty on kauri will not force other timbers into use for that purpose. It will simply be an increased burden to the user. If the Treasurer wants to encourage an industry such as ship-building, he is proceeding in the wrong way to achieve that object, because kauri will continue to be used for deck planking. It is just the- same with baltic pine, which, as honorable members know, is used for making ships’ spars and in other ways. I admit that baltic pine in the rough is admitted free. A duty on baltic pine is a serious matter to engineering establishments, in which it is used for pattern-making”. Under this Tariff the engineering trades have been treated very badly, arid surely it is not necessary to subject them to a further impost ! If honorable members compel heavy charges to be paid for kauri and baltic pine they will strike, indirectly, a severe blow at the engineering fraternity, who, I repeat, have been- badly treated under the Tariff.
– What nonsense !
– They are the worst treated of the lot.
– Exactly. For patternmaking they need a timber which is free from knots, so that if a duty is imposed on baltic pine it will be an additional tax upon them. As regards the large timber ards, the honorable member for Lang has put the position fairly, and as they all happen to be in my electorate I wish to emphasize what he has so well said. As regards the measurement of timber I cannot understand the action of the Treasurer in reverting to his original proposal. It was rejected here by honorable members, and now the Senate has requested its restoration. Its absolute want of equity has been pointed out by the honorable member for North Sydney and others. The Treasurer has not yet intimated how he intends to treat the request, but I hope that he will adhere to the decision of this Committee, and will not advocate the fanciful method which the Senate has recommended. The method which we adopted is far more favorable to those who have to build small houses. If, however, the Senate’s suggestion is adopted the timber merchants will pass on the duty all right, and the effect will be to hamper building operations in the various States. In New South Wales it will probably mean to an artisan a question of building or not building a house with his small savings. I do not know whether it is the case in Victoria, but certainly in New South Wales the main desire of an artisan is to be thrifty so that he may acquire a home. In the majority of cases a workman’s home is mainly composed of timber. I cannot conceive that any argu- ment can be adduced in support of the Senate’s method, except that it is in favour of the saw-millers. But the woods which artisans use do not pass through the hands of the saw-millers. I have heard tlie representatives of Queensland put in a claim on behalf of its timber. That’ is a line of action which I have taken up, and. therefore I do not blame them for doing the same thing. They say, “ We want to force an Australian industry.” For instance, take the honorable member for Maranoa. On the last item he was a free-trader, but on this request he will vote as a sturdy protectionist. I have my changes, but I do not ring them in too rapidly. Queensland timber cannot replace imported timbers used in the ship-building yards in my electorate, nor can it replace those used for house building there. The forests of New South Wales are rapidly becoming denuded of good timber, and I am one of those who believe that it would be wise to refrain, as long as possible, from encroaching upon our forest reserves.
– I should like to stop the exportation of sleepers.
– So should I. Our hardwood, for certain purposes, has no equal, and I think that we shall suffer by encouraging its export.
– The supply of hardwood in Australia will not- be exhausted during our lifetime.
– But in exploiting our forests for the benefit of the rest of the world, we are parting with a valuable asset. In the scrub country of New South Wales, close to the Queensland border, there is an abundance of valuable timber, but it is difficult to get it to the seaboard.
– A lot of it is being used in New South Wales.
– That is so. I have travelled through what is known as the Big Scrub country, and -have no hesitation in saving that there is no better timber than that which is growing there. A lot of it, however, is almost inaccessible, and an enormous expenditure will be necessary to open it out. The timber reserves in some parts of New South Wales have been spoliated. The scarcity of timber all over the world is becoming serious, and if Australia preserves her supplies she will secure for future generations a marvellous asset. Our importations of baltic, kauri, and Oregon are not competing with Australian timbers ; they are used for special purposes. I should like all timbers to be free, and would vote for a modification to that effect. Failing that, I do not think that the timber duties, as passed by this House, should be increased. I fail to see why the Treasurer should select Oregon for special treatment at the expense of kauri and baltic timber. Either make all those timbers free, or make them dutiable at the same rate. The Trea surer’s attitude suggests that he has been calculating the varying interests ‘ in this Chamber, and finds that the number of honorable members in favour of making oregon free is greater than is the number desiring a low duty in respect of timber generally. If Oregon is to be dutiable, I shall vote for the retention of the duty of 6d. per 100 super, feet, as originally passed by this House, and shall endeavour to have a similar duty imposed in respect of other items now dutiable at higher rates. But if any honorable member moves a modification providing that these items shall.be free, I shall vote for it.
– Why should not the Minister stand by the old compromise ?
– Quite so. But for that compromise he would not have carried the duty of 6d. per 100 super, feet on Oregon.
– He arranged that compromise with the honorable member for Kooyong.
– Who was fighting all the evening for the free admission of Oregon. To use an expressive phrase, the honorable member for Kooyong, on that occasion, dropped all of us “in the soup “ by making the compromise in question. I hope that the Treasurer will at least determine to stand by the original compromise agreed to by him, and revert to the measurement proposals passed by this House before the Tariff was sent to another place.
– I feel that whilst the intention of another place in making this request was good, its proposal, if adopted, would not carry out the object which it had in view. The Senate undoubtedly desired to encourage the use of Australian timbers. I have a similar desire, and, as a protectionist, should have supported a request to make a corresponding increase in all the other timber duties. I recognise that when this item was before the Committee ©n a previous occasion, a compromise was arranged, and in dealing with this question I must take into “consideration the effect which the duty on oregon may have upon workers engaged in our saw-mills. Some consideration must also be extended to the timber merchants who have invested large sums of money in the timber trade, and who must certainly obtain some return on their investment if they are to pay their workmen the wages that I desire them to receive. The point that I wish to make is that if we agree to the request to increase from 6d. to is. per 100 superficial feet the duty on undressed timber, in sizes of 12 inches x 6 inches, and do not make a corresponding increase in the duties on smaller sizes, we shall encourage the introduction of small cuts, and consequently lessen employment in the saw-mills. We shall not stop the importation of the smaller sizes dealt with more particularly in paragraph d by increasing the duty in respect of paragraph
.- I think that by this time the Treasurer must have recognised that, in agreeing to a compromise in respect of the duty on Oregon, he secured no equivalent gain in respect of other classes of timber-. It is an admirable bargain only from the point .of view that it makes it easy to reduce the duty in respect qf paragraph a, and much easier to reduce the duties relating to other paragraphs ! The honorable member for Lang in speaking this afternoon seemed to take up the position that this item affected only Queensland pine. I would remind the Committee, and especially the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, that it covers every kind of timber entering Australia.
– But no timber can compete with our hardwood. Is any hardwood being imported?
– Yes ; into nearly every port. We have on one side honorable members who declare for a revenue duty, and on the other a majority declaring for protection for Australian industries ; yet the timber industry, which is a native one, will secure neither a revenue nor a protective duty. It is because the timber industry happens to be native to Australia that it is not supported. The ordinary citizen will want to know why ; and I venture to say that most honorable members will find it difficult to give a reasonable explanation. The only explanation I can offer is that it has been in the interests of importers rather than to the advantage of local producers that timber has been free. Fortunately or unfortunately, our large centres of population are on the sea-board, and. in many instances, the cost of conveying to them timber from other parts of the world is much less than is that of conveying timber from our forests to them.
– The principal parts of the forests of Western Australia are close to the sea-board, and timber from them can be brought here cheaply.
– If that were so, Western Australian timber would have a monopoly of the market.
– It costs more to carry timber from Queensland to Melbourne thar from the Baltic to this port.
– Exactly. If the honorable member for Coolgardie’s statement were correct, Western Australian jarrah” would supplant all importations of hardwood. It is not doing so.
– -The jarrah trade is doing very well.
– And I wish it luck. Queensland uses some Western Australian jarrah, and I presume that it does so because it can obtain it at lower rates than those at which some of the local timbers are offering.
– It is used because it is a better timber.
– There is no timber to equal blue gum, spotted gum, and ironbark. Our forests are being stripped of good timber, and yet the trade is unprofitable because the local industry receives no encouragement from this Parliament. It seems to be the determined policy of honorable members not to extend to the timber getter the protection that has been extended to every other native industry in Australia. For instance, raisins and dried fruits have been subjected tq heavy duties, and yet those industries do not employ onefifth of the hands that are employed in the timber industry. Similarly, butter and cheese have been highly protected.
– Of what value is the duty upon butter?
– When I was arguing this question upon a previous occasion, some honorable members said that they did not object to a duty upon log timber. “ Put it on,” they exclaimed. But when, at a later stage, it was suggested that the item should be made dutiable, those honorable members - including the honorable member for Wimmera - said, “ Oh, no. That is. quite a different matter.”
– Hear, hear. Mr. FISHER. - I make no complaint against the honorable member for North
Sydney, because he believes in an absolutely free exchange of commodities except for purposes of. revenue.
– The honorable member has not yet shown that the timber industry will be able to supply the requirements of the Commonwealth within a reasonable time.
– I will undertake to say that that industry will produce sufficient timber to meet the requirements of the Commonwealth in a shorter period than any other industry can supply our needs in the matter of its own productions. It will produce sufficient timber to supply the requirements of the whole Commonwealth before bur woollen mills are in a position to produce sufficient woollen goods to supply our needs. What is the use of the honorable member talking nonsense of that sort? I have always understood that a protective policy is based upon the assumption that it is necessary to nurse our industries during the initial stages of their existence, and that afterwards they will be able to stand alone.
– But there is a profitable market for the timber industry now.
– An enormous number of bush workers are exclusively engaged in the cutting of hardwood.
– That fact does not interfere with the industry.
– Hardwoods are to be found over the whole of Australia.
– Hardwood can be purchased for about two-thirds the price of pine.
– The fact that it can be produced cheaply is no reason why the industry should not be protected.
– But hardwood is more suitable for certain purposes than are soft timbers.
– I quite agree with the honorable member that certain timbers are best adapted to certain purposes.
– That is whywe want to admitoregon free.
– I have never contested the honorable member’s claim in that connexion. All that I have contended is that, weight for weight, Australia can produce a hardwood timber which is actually stronger than is theoregon which is in use in the Broken Hill mines.
– I have said the same thing any number of times.
– It is only now that the admission is being made. When the Tariff of 1 90 1 -2 was under consideration, my statement to that effect provoked only derision.
– The reason we were amused was that the honorable member made the statement as if it were a novel one.
– I repeat that the allegation was repeatedly made that Queensland white pine was unsuitable for butter boxes.
– New Zealand pine is being used for butter boxes in Queensland now.
– Why not?
– Butter keeps perfectly in boxes made of Queensland pine, but the trouble is that a sufficient supply of it cannot be obtained.
– I am replying to the allegation of the honorable member for Barrier that my original statement, that we possess a hardwood timber which, weight for weight, is stronger than Oregon, was denied.
– By whom was it denied ?
– The honorable member knows perfectly well.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
– When we adjourned for dinner I was pointing out that it was quite a mistake to assume that the proposals before us affect only the soft woods of Queensland ; and I should like honorable’ members to discuss the question, not from the point of view of that State, but from the larger Australian point of view. After all, valuable as our soft woods are, I believe that the hardwoods of Australia will ultimately prove even more valuable; and the sooner the hardwood forests are developed the better it will be for the Commonwealthas a whole. I recognise that, unfortunately, any discussion is unlikely to alter the result. The large centres of population are on the seaboard, and the people there can, apparently, get their timber supplies from oversea cheaper than they can from inland owing to the cost of carriage, so that it does not seem to matter whether or not timber is partially destroyed or railways are built in order to open up timber country. The fact that this is a typical Australian industry, which gives employment to large numbers of people, and assists in the development of the country, does not seem to influence the majority of honorable members.
– Is that fair? I might say that the honorable member does not consider the miners of Broken Hill.
– I am only pointing out the fact that, while every exotic industry is protected, the timber-producing industry, which I venture to say employs some 80,000 people, is left to face the competition of the world. I can only account for this by the fact that it suits the large centres of population, especially on the seaboard, to import their timber supplies rather than agree to impose even a revenue duty in the interests of the timbergetters. The people who make large fortunes are those who handle the timber from oversea ; those who have endeavoured to develop the native timber industry may in some cases have done well. Log timber is in every instance free, and, with that concession, I think that a duty of is. might well be imposed in the case of the item before us. Of course, if the majority of the Committee are otherwise minded, I am content to leave the matter as before. I admit that there seemed to be some kind of compromise arrived at on the previous occasion ; and it is for the Minister to decide what he shall do in the position in which he finds himself. It is proposed that the duties in the case of Oregon shall be reduced ; and it would be an anomaly if other timbers were treated differently.
.- I should like to see all these timbers made free. When these items were before us on the previous -occasion I moved that the timber imported for butter-box making, from New Zealand especially, ought to be made free in the interests of the great dairying industry of Australia. It appears, however, that there is no possibility of having pine, Oregon, and other timbers placed on the free list ; and, therefore, I suppose Ave must endeavour to have the duty made as low as possible, which will in all likelihood mean the rate already passed by this Chamber. I was rather surprised at the speech of the honorable member for Wide Bay. Before dinner that gentleman pointed out that on one side of the Committee are protectionists and on the other side are those who favour revenue duties, and the result, between the two, is that the timber industry, which is native, not only to Queensland, but to other parts of the Commonwealth is likely to receive very .poor treatment. The honorable member also submitted that those Who vote for revenue duties do so in the interests of importers - that it is very hard to find any other reason for their votes.
– I said that the duties are not reasonable revenue duties.
– My votes are not given in the interests of importers, but in the interests of the great producing industries of Australia, especially the great mining industry, which employs over 125,000 men, and the great dairying industry, which has been to a large extent the salvation of some of the States, especially of Victoria during the bad times of the ‘nineties. I am, of course, prepared to give importers “a fair deal.” I do not regard them as they, apparently, are regarded by some honorable members. The honorable member for Wide Bay, ‘ as the leader of the Labour Party, if he does not consider the farmer and the miner, ought, at any rate, to consider the working classes, who use this wood largely in the building of their small homes. Every penny of duty imposed on some classes of timber presses hardly on those classes, adding to the cost of the erection of their homes, and to their necessary expenses, thus, to that extent, reducing their wages.
– That argument would apply to every protective duty.
– We have been told by many protectionists that the imposition of duties lowers prices, though some of them may have changed their minds.
– It is the freetraders, and not the protectionists, who change their minds.
– Some free-traders may have changed their minds, but I do not think the Treasurer can accuse me of having done so. To-night, however, under the circumstances, I am compelled to accept certain duties, though I am, and always have been, in favour of having these items free in the interests of the industries I have mentioned.
– What about the timbergetter ?
– During the whole progress of the Tariff I have had consideration for the timber-getter, as one of the consumers of Australia ; but the honorable member for Bass and others, when they vote for high duties on all the necessaries of life, show very little concern for him.
– And still timbergetters support both the honorable member for Bass and myself !
– I do not know whether that is so or not, because it is often very hard to ascertain how or why the workmen in various industries vote. For instance, the honorable member for Newcastle, -who is a protectionist, is returned by coal-miners, while . I, a free-trader, am returned by the miners of the great Illawarra centre.
– I am afraid the honorable. member humbugs the electors !
– When the honorable gentleman gets high duties imposed on harvesters, wire-netting, and other commodities required by the farmers in his constituency, it appears to me that he must be verv much more of an artist at humbugging the electors than I am. I remind the representatives of Queensland that, speaking for myself, the votes cast on this side are not given with the object of injuring the timber industry of that State.
– But the industry is injured all the same !
– At the present time, the Queensland timber industry has a. magnificient market in Australia; but those engaged in it cannot supply even the local market of Queensland. The honorable member for Darling Downs will bear me out when I say that those engaged in the great dairying industry of Queensland are obliged to import pine from New Zealand for butter-box making, although the Queensland pine is claimed to be splendid for the purpose.. As a matter of fact, a large quantity of the pine used in Queensland is from the northern rivers in New South Wales. It is well known that, not only in Sydney and Melbourne, but elsewhere, timber merchants are unable to get their orders for Queensland pine fulfilled. I am not speaking entirely from my own experience, although the dairying industry is one with which I am pretty well acquainted in my own district ; but I have here letters from merchants in Sydney and Melbourne to support the position I am taking up. Here is a letter from a wellknown timber merchant, Mr. Joseph Thorpe, of Normanby-road, South Melbourne, whom, I am sure, is known to Victorian representatives.
– Have Victorian members ever heard of him?
– I confess I have not.
– That shows how familiar those honorable members are with the subject when they do not know a man of Mr. Thorpe’s position.
– I know that Mr. Thorpe is in business there, but his business is not to be compared with that of Mr. James Moore.
– The letter is dated nth inst., and is as follows -
Referring to the supplies of Queensland timber now being discussed in the House, we beg to inform you that Queensland is quite unable to deliver sufficient quantities for our requirements. During the season, we use over 1,000,000 feet of butter-box timber; we asked Queensland mills to quote for 500,000 feet, but were informed that all we could get would be 5,000 feet per week, which would only keep us going for about three hours per week in the busy season . ‘
So that this gentleman, says that, so far as he is concerned, the supplies that he was able to obtain from Queensland would keep him going only three hours per week in a busy season. When supplies are forthcoming in that insufficient way, it would be. absolutely impossible to keep a large timber mill in full work.
Colonel Foxton. - When did that happen ?
– This communication refers to the present time.
Colonel Foxton. - When did the writer of the letter give that order?
– Does the honorable member dispute the statements?
Colonel Foxton. - Yes, I do.
– Does the honorable member assert that Queensland is in a position to supply the requirement’s of the people of the Commonwealth in regard to timber for the purpose of making butter boxes for the dairying industry ?
Colonel Foxton. - Yes, I do.
– Ninety per cent. of the orders are for 12 and 24 inch widths.
– The honorable member for Maranoa was very strong in his statement that timber merchants in the big cities of Australia, while prepared to take what are known as the “ butters “. from Queensland, are not prepared to take the off -cuts ; and he said that that was the great difficulty that the Queensland timber people had. Here is what this gentleman says on that subject -
With regard to the statement that Victoria will take their “butters,” but will not take their “ off-cuts,” we are quite prepared to enter into an arrangement to take all the Queensland mills can supply us with for 12 months; with reasonable deliveries, provided the price is the same, or even1s. higher than New Zealand.
So that this gentleman was prepared not only to take butter-box timber, supplies of which he could not obtain, but also what is known as the off-cuts or waste, and that at a price even1s. higher than the price of. New Zealand timber.
– Does not the honorable member think that it is significant that these statements were made after the representatives of the Queensland timber industry had gone away.
– For years past that has been the position. I happen to know some of the Sydney timber merchants very well. I have known them for a number of years, and I am aware that this has been a common complaint. It is not a. new thing, but it is the common experience in dealing with the Queensland timber merchants, that they are unable to maintain a regular delivery of orders.
– There is a dead set by the merchants against Queensland timber.
– There is no dead set against it on the part of the merchants whose representations I have been giving to the Committee. Personally, I wish well to the Queensland timber-getters, and hope that their industry will prosper. I know that they have a magnificent industry, but I also know that they cannot supply orders. The Sydney timber merchants would be perfectly ready to use Queensland timber if they could get regular and sufficient supplies of it. But the dairying industry would be absolutely blocked, not only in connexion with the local trade, but also in regard to the export trade, if a ready supply of pine for butter boxes were not alwavs forthcoming. What a nice position the Victorian dairy farmers would be in, with their exports of £16,000,000 per annum of butter to the markets of the world, if they were not in a position to get timber for the making of their butter boxes, or if they were only able to obtain it at such a high price as must seriously handicap them in their trade? I feel sure that’ even the Queensland representatives, interested as they are in the prosperity of the dairying industry and of mining, would not, in a cold-blooded way, injure the large number of persons engaged in those industries. I wish to refer to some further evidence which I have in my possession in connexion with this feature of the matter. Messrs. Binns, Wadge, and Brown, who are large merchants in Sydney, and who use every kind of timber, write to me under date nth May, 1908.
– They are importers.
– Yes, but they are also large users of all kinds of Australian timber. They will take as much Queensland timber as they can get.
– They are importing timber ; that is their business.
– They have to import to fulfil their orders. We want Oregon, baltic, and other imported timbers to supply our people, whose requirements cannot always be met from the resources of the forests of Australia.
– Queensland pine is equal to the best kauri.
– I think it is myself, ancl I believe that that is also the opinion of experts.
– Why not give it a chance ?
– I am prepared to give it every chance. What is the use of the Treasurer continually barking in that manner, when he knows perfectly well that the Queensland merchants are unable to supply the New South Wales market, and cannot even fulfil contracts. The letter from Messrs. Binns, Wadge, and Brown is as follows -
Re yours of the9th, we beg to state that we have no contracts with any of the Queensland firms, as we found the business so unsatisfactory through the delays and unbusinesslike methods of the Queensland firms, that w.e had to drop it and buy locally. They kept us waiting for months for timber, so we decided to place no more orders with them.
Colonel Foxton. - That letter does not sav what sorts of timber are referred to.
– The honorable member for Brisbane wants fo pin these men down to pieces of a measurement which meets the requirements of the butter-box trade. But I can assure him and the Committee that the inability of the Queensland timber peopTe to supply orders applies to all kinds of timber. I have also a letter from. Messrs. S. A. Burns and Company, general timber merchants, Goulburn-street, Sydney. ‘ In documents handed to me they give particulars’ in connexion with classes of timber which they ordered, and for the information of the honorable member for Brisbane I will read some of the sizes.
Colonel Foxton. - When were they ordered ?
– On the 8th April, 1907. That is recent enough, I hope. The sizes were 4 x1½ inches, 4.x7/8,.12x7/8,18 x½, 12 x¾ - and so on.
Colonel Foxton. - Do they give the quantities of different measurements?
– Yes. For instance, 2,418 feet, 4 x1½; 1,800 feet, 4 x7/8; and so on.
– What about the larger sizes?
– The order for timber 14 x½ inches was 156 feet; 18 x½, 24 feet ; 12 x¾, 202 feet.
– Does the honorable member seriously say that Queensland cannot supply such small orders?
– They cannot supply these small orders.
– The honorable member’s statement makes a farce of the discussion.
– I shall come to some of the bigger orders presently. I expected that something would be said in connexion with the small orders, but when we find that neither the small nor the large orders can be supplied we are entitled to conclude that the timber is not forthcoming to fulfil orders. I come now to communications from John W. Eaton and Company, one of the largest timber firms in Sydney. They refer to their dealings with the Queensland people through Mr. Ross principally. I should like to read to the Committee the written statement of Mr. G. Augensen, secretary of the Timber Merchants’ Association of Sydney. I wrote to him asking him what was the experience of his association in connexion with this matter, and he writes to me to say -
Dear Sir, - The general opinion among merchants here is that it is useless to enter into contracts for Queensland pine, as they can never be certain as to when the timber will arrive here.
See. Sydney and Suburban Timber Merchants’ Assn.
The particulars which he gives show that, in the instances quoted, although orders were sent, they were not fulfilled. I do not wish to protract the discussion, but I must refer to the experience of Messrs. John W. Eaton and Company in connexion with the Queensland mills. The following is a letter sent after an interview by
Mr. Chidgey, whom probably the Queensland representatives know - 29thJuly, 1907.
Messrs. Davies and Fehon Ltd., 60 Margaret-street, Sydney.
Dear Sirs, - Confirming the writer’s conversation . with your Mr. Chidgey this afternoon, please book us the following lines of hoop pine: - 50,000 ft. 4 x7/8.T. & G. hoop pine; 10,000 ft. 6 x7/8 ditto; 20,000 ft. 4 x½ T. & G. & V. J. hoop pine; 10,000 ft 6 x½ T.& G. V. J. & C. V. hoop pine; about 25,000 ft. 9 inch to 18 x 1 inch,1¼ and1½ hoop pine.
One of the big classes of timber to which the honorable member for Brisbane and others have referred was included in this order. The total amount of the order was for 50,000 feet. I call that a prettybig order.
Colonel Foxton. - Was. not that supplied ?
– No, it was not.
Colonel Foxton - Is the honorable member sure of that?
– I am sure of it. On that order being given a letter was received from Mr. C. H. Ross, director for Messrs. Davies and Fehon, the agent for the associated mills in Queensland, who replied to the order on 9th August, 1907 - 60 Margaret-street, Sydney, N.S.W., 9th Aug., 1907.
Messrs. J. W. Eaton Ltd.,
Dear Sirs, - Messrs. Hyne and Son write us with reference to the order we placed before them for hoop pine on your account, that at the present juncture they could not accept your’ order at rates specified,” and state - “ We are faced with yet another increasein price of logs, and a probable strike with our men for less work and more pay per day, so at present we would not entertain the order. Moreover, seeing we deliver on his wharf, we reckon now that the quality of our timber is known that we should get more benefit for this service.”
We regret exceedingly that we have to pass your order on this occasion.
Davies & Fehon,
So that it was probably on account of the price and other difficulties, that the Queensland people were unable to fill that order. But we cannot afford to allow industries which are dependent upon regular supplies of suitable timber to be placed in such a position as is indicated by this letter.
– The price was evidently too low.
Colonel Foxton. - Evidently it was a question of price.
– The Queensland firms did not want to pay the wages which the men asked for.
– Members representing Queensland may be able to state if there was any trouble in the timber trade at that time.
– I have no recollection oi any labour difficulty at that time. I admit that the wages are not too high.
– On the 12th of August the same people were asked for a quotation for 64,000 feet. I shall not weary honorable members by reading the whole of this correspondence, but one letter, dated 2nd September, 1907, sums up the whole position. It is also from Mr. C. H. Ross, the agent of the Queensland Timber Getters’ Association, and is as follows -
Messrs. John W. Eaton, Ltd., North Sydney.
Dear Sirs, - We have to-day received advice from Messrs. Hyne and Son that they prefer not to quote for orders -
So it is not a question of supplying at a price fixed by the people who want the timber, for it is stated there that the firm preferred not to quote for orders - for some little time, or until their log supplies look brighter -
They were not in a position to get the log supplies to fulfil the contract - than they do at present. We are, therefore, referring the order to Brisbane, and will advise you their reply.
I have similar evidence with me to which I could refer, but I think I have quoted sufficient to prove that the people in Melbourne and Sydney, at any rate, who want supplies of Queensland pine, and have given orders, not only for the big sorts, but for the smaller sorts as well, and are prepared to take not only what is known as the butter timber, but the off-cuts or “ rubbish,” as the honorable member for Maranoa characterized it the other night, cannot get supplies from Queensland. One timber merchant was prepared to take all that could be supplied for twelve months. I think I can fairly claim that Queensland is not in a position to-day to supply anything like the requirements of the Commonwealth. I hope that State willsome day be in a position to supply the whole of our requirements, but, in the meantime, while the Queensland Government have hysterically rushed railways through the State Parliament, in the teeth of the opposition of the Labour Partv, in order to open up these forests-
– That is not true.
– I am informed that it is so.
– Whoever informed the honorable member informed him wrongly. Those are not the railways that were opposed by the Labour Party. They opposed syndicate railways.
– If I am wrong, I am perfectly prepared to be corrected by Queensland members, who know more than I do about it.
– I think the honorable member ought to give the name of the person who made that scandalous, cunning insinuation.
– I have made the statement, and am prepared to accept the correction of the’ honorable member for Maranoa, or of any other Queensland iabour member. What could be fairer than that? If they, assure me that I have made a nasty insinuation, I withdraw it, but that does not affect the position at all. The fact remains that Queensland to-day is not in a position to supply anything like the requirements of the Commonwealth. I go further, and say that Queensland is not in a position to supply anything like onefourth of the requirements of the particular industries I have mentioned. In those circumstances, the Committee would be acting prejudicially to some of the great industries of Australia, and prejudicially to the interests of the working classes particularly, who are compelled to use a number of imported timbers in connexion with the little homes that they build for themselves, if it agreed to impose the heavy duties suggested by the Senate. I sincerely wish that these timbers could come in free, but, in the circumstances, I am compelled to vote for the duties as passed by this House on a previous occasion. In doing so I feel that we are still placing a handicap on some of our big industries. If we acted with wisdom, and with a view to the development of the mining, dairying, and other big industries which are making the wealth of Australia, and practically keeping our big cities going, every inch of this timber would come in absolutely free. As we cannot hope to make it free, I trust that we shall place it under as low a duty as possible.
.- It is stated in one letter read by the honorable member for Illawarra, with regard to the supplying of orders from Queensland, that the logs were not coming forward. That letter was dated, I think, April, 1907. I have information of much more recent date. I am informed that since that time the logs have been, coming in so fast that they could not be unloaded.
– Who informed the honorable member?
– Mr. Campbell, of Messrs. James Campbell and Sons, timber merchants of Brisbane. I can assure the honorable member that all my information is Queensland information. I am not barracking for the Timber Combine in “Victoria or the Timber Combine in New South Wales.
– Or the” associated timber people ?
– I am barracking for the associated saw-mill owners and timbergetters in Queensland - for the men who are pioneering the country. In the electorate of the leader of our party, there are men at work opening up the country for civilization and selection, and surely if some of the workers in Melbourne and Sydney are to get a measure of protection, the protectionist members of this House will not deny the same protection to those men. I do not know much about the protectionist theory. I am only a novice at it, but since I came here I have learnt a lot. The only protection that my electorate asks for is to be left alone. I have heard honorable members on this side of the chamber, and in our own corner, denouncing combines and trusts, and condemning them in no measured terms. Here, in Melbourne, there is a Timber Combine second to none. Talk about the Confectionery Combine and the Colonial Sugar Refining Company ! This one is on the Yarra bank, in the electorate of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports. There are half-a-dozen men in it, and the great bulk of the timber imported into Victoria is imported in one man’s name. There are two lists in the Combine. One is called the white list. Those on it are the insiders. They are the fellows that get all the picking’s. On the other side, there is what is called the pink list, and the pink listers have to pay 15 per cent, more for their timber than those on the white list pay. To prove what I am saying, I will read a letter that appeared in the Age this morning from Mr. J. J. Moore, of 17 Queen-street. That is not Mr. Moore, the big timber merchant, but the agent, I think, for one of the Queens land firms. The statement in the Age is as follows -
THE TIMBER DUTIES.
Mr. J. J. Moore, 17 Queen street, writes in reply to the letter signed “ Timber Merchant “ in the Age of Tuesday : - “ Hitherto I have kept out of this controversy, but I cannot allow your correspondent’s statements to go unchallenged. I have had six years’ experience in Queensland timber in Melbourne, and) in reply to allegations about combines, mjr experience is that one of the biggest combines in the southern hemisphere is to be found in the Melbourne timber business. The Melbourne timber merchant does not want local timber, for anything local, as a rule, kills combines. When they order Queensland timber they always demand our best, and best only. When they buy kauri or New Zealand white pine they must take everything out of a log, or pay for the privilege. From Queensland everything is wanted, and no privilege. ‘ Timber Merchant ‘ challenges Mr. Campbell’s statements regarding the cutting of pine. I will not dispute the point; but will ask ‘ Timber Merchant ‘ to explain why a Melbourne buyer,- who is neither 1 white nor pink,’ has to pay in Melbourne 33 1-3 per cent, to get his logs cut up. Now that I have come into the open, I should like ‘Timber Merchant ‘ to come to the front, and expose his name, so that we may fight on fair ground.”
There is the whole thing in a nutshell. Because it is not a Victorian industry - liecause the timber is not growing on the banks of the Yarra, or in the backyards of South Melbourne, or up and down the avenues of Collingwood - the timber industry is to have no protection. Like everything else Victorian, the idea is one-eyed. If one attends a football match or a cricket match in Victoria, he will find that the “ barrackers “ while seeing nothing but faults on one side, see none on the other. Honorable members know the weeping and wailing there was the other day because the New South Wales crew beat the Victorian crew in the boat race. One Victorian, I believe, went so far as to say that he thought some of the Victorian crew had been “ dosed “ by New South Wales supporters. I ask representatives of Victoria, who advocate protection from the public platform, how they can reconcile voting for protectionist duties to assist a Victorian industry with their refusal to give the same measure of protection to a Queensland industry? We have known some of them to shed crocodile tears because they did not consider a 50 per cent, duty sufficiently protective for a Victorian industry. The honorable member for Batman last night was wailing about a 50 per cent. duty.
– The honorable member for Batman has not gone wrong on the timber duties.
– I do not say that he has. I was referring to the way in which he was prepared to deal with a Victorian industry. I will say this for the honorable member for Batman, and it is to his credit, that he has never “gone crook “ on protection yet.
– He is almost the only member of the Committee who has not done so.
– I can say the same for the honorable member for Yarra. It does not matter how much advantage might be gained by giving a vote for a’ lower duty, those honorable members are unable to see it. There is no doubt that they are one-eyed protectionists. But there are other members of the Committee who, to hear them speaking, would sacrifice everything rather than give a vote against protection, but who are not prepared to vote for the protection of industries that are not established in Victoria.
– Where do they sit?
– Some sit in the Labour corner, and some in the “constitutional” corner. There are some red-hot protectionists to be found in both those corners. According to Mr. Moore’s statement, there can be no doubt that a timber combine exists in Melbourne. I have found, on inquiry, that that statement is absolutely correct-
– There is one in Queensland, also.
– If there is a combine in Queensland, all concerned are in the swim. There are no pink ones and white ones there. If the workers of Collingwood, Melbourne Ports, and Melbourne generally are to be given a share of the advantages of protection, I cannot, for the life of me, see why they should object to assist their fellow workers in Queensland.
– What about the New South Wales oil industry ?
– So far as the oil industry is concerned, my view was that there is very little choice between the devil inside and the devil outside. Possibly I shall have to suffer for the vote I gave in connexion with the oil industry.
– I voted with the honorable member.
– Yes, but the honorable member has no vote for my constituency, and probably I should not get it if he had. I do not appeal in this matter to free traders, because I do not expect to influence a single vote on the other side, but I do appeal to protectionists to support these duties, which, if carried, will give timberworkers in Australia the assistance to which they are entitled. I am informed that -
Under existing conditions, timbers imported from Sweden and Norway, known as Baltic limbers, have workmen for the labour on these, dressing, tonguing, grooving, &c, paid at the rate of 2s. perday. Freight from the Baltic costs less than the coastal steamer charges from Brisbane to the southern ports.
That is another handicap against the timber industry in Queensland and on the northern rivers in New South Wales. I am sure that the honorable member for Hunter will be able to bear out that statement, as he must know something of the excessive rates of freight on timber from the northern rivers of New South Wales to Sydney -
Queensland has pine timber, in abundance which can take the place of these inferior Baltic timbers, and for the trade in Queensland there have never been any imports of Baltic timbers.
I wish to be quite fair with the Committee in dealing with these timber duties, and, therefore, I mention the fact that some twelve or eighteen months ago I saw a statement in a newspaper to the effect that a quantity of white pine had been imported to Queensland for the manufacture of butter-boxes. I made inquiries in Brisbane as to the reason for this importation, and I was told that sufficient Queensland pine had not come to hand, and the Queensland millers could not execute the orders they received,because the butter industry of the State was growing at such a rapid pace, that they could not keep up with its requirements. That appeared to me to be a valid reason for the importation of white pine at the time.
– Is not that a very strong argument from our point of view ?
– It all depends on how the honorable member looks at the question. If he looks at it from the point of view of the Victorian protectionist, he is quite right. But looked at from the Queensland point of view, he is quite wrong.
– Is not Queensland pine the best timber that can be obtained for the manufacture of butter -boxes ?
– On that point, I should like to say that when the first Tariff was being considered, the statement was made that Queensland timber used for the manufacture of butter-boxes tainted the butter. That has not been said during the consideration of this Tariff.
– I believe that they put some logs in a dirty place, and then had them sawn up for butter-boxes.
– It is only since the consideration of the first Tariff that a fair opportunity was afforded for the testing of Queensland timber..
– And I can tell the honorable member what the test was. Queensland butter packed in boxes made of Queensland pine took the first prize at the Royal Agricultural Exhibition at Islington, London, in competition against the world. If that is not a good enough test of the suitableness of the Queensland pine for this purpose, I do not know what other tests honorable members require. I am further informed that -
To supply the other States, handicapped as they are with heavy freight and the higher wages in Queensland, as compared with the wages paid in Norway, Sweden, &c, without the’ help of the duty asked for, is not possible.
That statement can, I think, be borne out. I know some men getting and hauling timber in Queensland who make about 30s. a day. Of course, they ha.ve, out of that, to keep a team and to keep harness in repair ; but, paying such wages, it is a matter of impossibility to carry on the industry in competition with those who pay wages of only 2s. per day.
– The 30s. per day is paid for a man and his team.
– I have said so. I have said that a man with a team getting and hauling timber makes 30s. a day in Queensland, and he earns every penny of it.
– But why compare him with the men who get 2s. per day in Norway ?
– I wonder whether in Norway the same value would be put upon the services of the honorable member for Moreton that is put upon them by the Queensland electors. If the honorable member were King of Norway, let alone an ordinary member of Parliament of the common or garden variety, he would not get £600 a year.
– The honorable member’s services in connexion with one particular industry are valued very highly in Queensland.
– They are not valued more highly by his constituents than mine are by the people .1 represent ; but, of course, comparisons are odious. The statement is made that the superiority of Queensland flooring, lining, weatherboard, and other timbers for the trade is acknowledged, and dare not be contradicted, i must say that I have heard no member of the Committee contradict it. . The Queensland timbers are of the finest quality. I admit that the honorable member for Illawarra was very fair in his criticisms, but what we object to is that timber merchants in Melbourne - I cannot speak as to Sydney - require the heart of the log. They must have timber from 12 to 24 inches wide, and as much wider as they can get it. If a purchaser every time he enters a shop buys only the best of the stock, and leaves the inferior goods on the shopkeeper’s hands, how is he to replenish his stock?
– He must become bankrupt.
– That is what honorable members opposite wish to bring upon the timber industry in Queensland.
– Those engaged in it can make plenty of money.
– They wish to make more. They are not in business for philanthropic, reasons, any more than is any one else.
– I have a letter from a man who will take all the off-cuts of Queensland timber for the next twelve months at the price paid for New Zeal an H timber, or even at is. per 100 superficial feet higher.
Colonel Foxton.– Why did he not make that offer to the President of the Association two days ago, when he was here.
– I made the President of the Association an offer which he did not accept.
– I am informed that -
Orders sent are for only 10 per cent, out of the logs, being all wide boards, from 12 inches to 24 inches, leaving Queensland millers 90 per cent, in smaller sizes, and the best of the log must be taken to supply these’ orders. The wealthy importers of Sydney and Melbourne have circulated these statements - Queensland cannot supply, &c. - and are- working their own ends for imports against the development of the forests of the Commonwealth.
I believe that statement to be welt founded, and if honorable members are prepared to assist the importers in this respect, they are bigger fools than I take them for. I recognise no distinction between a fat manufacturer and a fat importer. My informants say, further -
Tasmania before Federation had no need for these imported Baltic floorings, linings, and weatherboards.
– What is the honorable member quoting from?
– I am quoting from a typewritten paper, which the honorable member may see presently. I suppose that the reference to Tasmania woke him up -
Tasmania before Federation had no need for these cheap Baltic floorings, linings, and weatherboards. She could, and can now, with her lighter class of hardwoods, supply a magnificent article, equal to the oaks and maples of America, and in price (taking durability and superiority in every way) far and away below Baltic stuff.
– She has Macquarie Harbor and Huon pine, too.
– Huon pine would not be used for flooring.
– The honorable member does not know anything about the matter.
– I know that it is not used for that purpose.
– I do not want Queensland timber alone to get the benefit of this protection. Any other States which can produce the timber have as much right to the protection as has Queensland. Surely the honorable member for Wilmot would not object to a little protection for the timber in Tasmania !
– This is not a Tasmanian, but an Australian question.
– Will the honorable member always look at Australian questions in that light? He had a lot to say about protection for the potatoes and hops of his State; he spread-eagled himself when we were dealing with those items. The paper continues -
With Queensland pine and the light hardwoods of Victoria and Tasmania, the Commonwealth can fill her own wants in these uses. There are 5,000,000 acres of our forests lying idle, and waiting and accessible, which can give a turnover equal to .£5,000,000 yearly, and with proper conservation be perennial. Now staring in our face is this great asset of 5,000,000 acres, worth on the market ^200,000,000, or 40 years’ work, at ,£5,000,000 each year.
– It is a good asset, and is growing in value.
– Yes. I want to tell the honorable member for Illawarra that every one of the railways which are being constructed into the timber districts of Queensland is State-owned, and that the land which they traverse - it is some of the best land to be found in Queensland for agricultural purposes - will be taken up for agricultural selection after the timber has been cleared. The railways to which he referred are in northern Queensland.
– I am glad to hear that.
– The principal plank in the platform of the Labour Party of Queensland is State-owned railways.
– That is only an incidental allusion, sir, in reply to the statement of the honorable member about the Labour Party opposing the construction of railways into those particular forests. The document continues -
What does this mean? £2,000,000 in wages j £2,000,000 in freights ; £1,000,000 in plant, tear and wear, interest, and profit ; 20,000 more workmen ; railways ; tramways ; coastal vessels ; the hilly parts of our country opened up; and settlement following the saw-milling pioneers as in the past.
That is what the duty will do. It means £40,000 a year to the- timber-getters and the men working in and around the sawmills. It means that there will b© increased employment, that. the whole of the industry will be in a thriving condition, and that we shall be able to supply every one of the orders about which the honorable member for Illawarra is anxious. Of course, it is of no use for me to plead with the free-traders, because I know very well that, with the exception of the honorable member for Illawarra - who does not mind a duty of 10 or 15 per cent. - they are against the imposition of duties of any sort. I am not asking the honorable member to vote for such a duty.
– I am not going to do so, if I can help it.
– I am only asking the honorable member to vote for a duty of 7^ per cent. Surely when the Committee can see its way to give a protection of 50 per cent, on the hats of the timber-getters, and of 40 or 50 per cent, on their boots, it can readily concede a protection of 7^ per cent, to the timber-getters and the saw-mill workers of Queensland and New South Wales?
– I think that we ought to take a wide view of this question. Throughout the world, the price of timber is rising, and apparently the forests are becoming somewhat denuded. If the States of Australia are wise, they will begin to conserve their forests. I dare say that a good man)’’ of the imported woods could be grown here if the States’ Departments would only make an effort in that direction. In my opinion, the duty on oregon, New Zealand white pine, kauri, baltic, and other soft wood’s which are imported, should be a light one. Those woods are not grown here, But they are wanted very much indeed. If honorable members force the people of Australia to use other woods for the purposes for which the imported woods are now used, the heavy burden which they will impose will not be counterbalanced by any employment which may be given locally?
– I am astonished at a Tasmanian making that statement when his State has the finest woods to be found in the world.
– In Tasmania, we have a number of good woods, but they are not used altogether for those purposes. If a heavy duty is imposed on baltic timber, it will still be used in that State in the construction of the poorer class of houses, and at greater cost ; but the local timber industry will not be benefited to any extent. The people will still have to use kauri.
– A very large proportion of the wood used in oneofthe big furniture making establishments in Adelaide, comes from Tasmania. I went there, and saw it myself.
– Possibly the honorable gentleman will find a rich man here and there who can afford to experiment with Tasmanian pine or blackwood. But I am looking at this question in a business light and from a general point of view.
– But this man is looking at Tasmanian timber in a business light, too.
– He is taking hardwoods.
– He is taking blackwood and a number of other woods.
– And softwoods, too.
– I do not dispute the Minister’s statement, but it does not, in any way, interfere with my argument. The Tariff Commission recommend that white pine should be placed on the free list, but this Committee decided that it should be dutiable at 6d. per 100 superficial feet. If it cannot be made free, that is, I think, quite enough duty to levy. It is chiefly used in the making of butter boxes. Surely if there is one industry in Australia that deserves to be encouraged, it is the butter industry. It is one of the greatest wealthproducing sources that we have. It has developed naturally, and its potentialities are very great. It is a short-sighted policy which will attempt to hamper a valuable industry merely for the sake of benefiting the community generally in a small way. I do not doubt for a moment the statement that Queensland pine can be used for making butter boxes, but the butter trade is a big one. There are many purposes to which this wood can be put. Surely the market is good enough to encourage the Queensland people to send down their wood without getting further encouragement ! Undoubtedly a big demand exists, and if they are in earnest they ought to try to supply it. If a duty is imposed it may help Queensland, but it will not help the community very much, because probably the greater proportion of the pine - it is a wood of superior quality, and well fitted for making doors and other things - will be used for other purposes than the making of butter boxes, so that the butter industry may be hit, and no one appreciably benefited. It will be remembered that we gave a good measure of protection, I think unanimously, to the Marbut carving industry. The Marbut Carving Company found it very difficult to get a supply of Queensland wood. Firms in that State would not take orders to supplythe wood at a definite time, and many orders still remained unfulfilled. The result was that the company were forced to get the timbers they required from America, New Zealand, and other places. If Queensland cannot keep up a regular supply of the small quantity of timber required by that industry, how can it supply the big demand of Australia? What benefit will our protection be to the Marbut carving industry, and other industries, if we impose a heavy duty on their raw material ?
Colonel Foxton. - Does the honorable member call 15 per cent. a heavy duty?
– Coupled with the freight, I think that a duty of 6d. per 100 superficial feet is a fair protection.
Colonel Foxton. - That is7½ per cent.
– I think that in the general interests of Australia it is quite enough at the present time. It must be remembered that, although a duty will benefit the timber industry, it will hit very much larger industries. I do not think that it is good business to do that. The price of timber, I repeat, is rising. The honorable member for Illawarra has stated that if we impose a duty it will not stop the importation of Baltic and other cheap woods which are now introduced so freely and used so largely by all sections of the community. Nowadays pretty well every house in the country contains a lot of baltic pine. If it is seriously taxed, it. will still be imported, and poor users penalized to that extent, without the timber industry being benefited. It is said that, although there is a good market, Queensland cannot supply the orders which it receives from timber merchants. Why is not the timber sent down ? Possibly it is owing to the forests being so difficult of access and the freight so heavy. If that is the reason why Queensland timber is not placed on the market, why should we impose a heavy duty on other woods that Australian people must have? If a duty is imposed on Oregon, it must still be imported largely for the people of Australia. I do not see that it comes much into conflict with Australian hardwoods. The latter are used freely in mines, but the Barrier mines will have Oregon at any price. Having regard to the large employment that is afforded on the Barrier, and the low price of metals, at the present time, I think that honorable members will be taking a grave step indeed if they increase the price of Oregon’ materially. A greatmany of the mines in Broken Hill might shorten hands, and we should have done more harm by causing men to be thrown out of employment than good by giving work, by compelling the mine-owners to use Australian hardwood. There is a good market here and abroad for both Australian and imported timbers. As a matter of fact, most of the Tasmanian hardwood is exported to London and elsewhere, where it finds a ready sale, and I do not think that the duty would be of much assistance to the local timber companies. At any rate, there is nothing to justify the imposition of high duties on the timbers which I have mentioned. As to the measurement question, I cannot see why timber half-an.-inch thick should be charged as if it were an inch thick. Duty should be proportionate to the number of feet in the timber; it should not be charged by superficial measurement. The price of the cheaper kinds of wood will be enormously increased if superficial measurement is adopted. The proposed rule of measurement is illogical and unjust, and I hope that the Committee will not agree to it.
.- It has been stated repeatedly, by the honorable member for East Sydney and others, that this is a protectionist Committee, and I hope that honorable members will remember that in dealing with the timber industry as they have when dealing with other industries. It was stated in this morning’s
Argus that in a certain division I voted free-trade; but that is one of the mistakes which that journal makes. Throughout the consideration o”f the Tariff, I have- remained on the protectionist side whenever a proposal involving a fair and reasonable protection has been at stake. A. great deal has been made of the statement that the Queensland timber-getters were not able to supply all the orders sent to them just about the time the Tariff was introduced, when merchants in Sydney and Melbourne forwarded large orders, thinking that duties would be raised. In one of the letters quoted by the honorable member for Illawarra, it is stated that certain timber firms refused to execute orders at the prices quoted ; but it often happens in business that a firm to which an order is offered at a certain price will not accept it. Besides, in every new industry, if business is growing rapidly, there are times when orders cannot be executed. The present Tariff will last, I hope, for at least ten years, and are we, in framing it, to penalize the timber industry of Australia because one or two firms could not execute orders when there was a rush last year?
– Is- it the timber industry or the public that we are penalizing?
– The honorable member’s statement that the poor man uses imported timber is not accurate. In a poor man’s house there is ho imported timber, because the Australian hardwood is good enough.
– That may be so in Tasmania.
– The honorable member is speaking of Tasmania.
– I was speaking of the Commonwealth. Baltic pine is largely used in Victoria.
– It has been said that in Tasmania we would not use Huon pine for flooring. We have a better timber there for the purpose. It is known as Tasmanian oak, and there are not three members who could distinguish a polished sample of it from a sample of English oak. As the Commonwealth possesses such fine timbers, we should protect the timber industry. A great deal has been said about the need for cheap butter boxes ; but surely the poor farmer who, instead of burning all his timber, sends the good logs to market, should be protected,. Queensland pine is suitable for butter boxes, and there is a good supply of it. If a duty of 6d. were imposed on butter-box timber, the extra cost per box would be only about £d., and as each box contains. 56 lbs. of butter, that would be very little per lb. of butter. We should impose timber duties for the protection of the men who work harder and for longer hours than the employes in any city industry. The honorable member for Maranoa, spoke of Victoria’ as one-eyed. I thought that to-day, when I saw displayed in Collins-street a number of pictures of our beautiful gorge at Launceston, with nothing to indicate the locality, whereas a picture of Victorian scenery va> labelled “ Blacks Spur.”
– Pictures of the Cataract Gorge do not need to be named, because its fame is everywhere.
– We have such good timber in Tasmania, Western Australia, , and Queensland that we should give the timber industry protective duties of 10 or 1.5 per cent. We have given other industries duties running up to 30 and 40 per cent., and I, as a protectionist, believe in protecting every industry against the cheap labour of the outer world.
: - This question has been so thoroughly threshed out on this and previous occasions, that I have very little more to sa.y on it now. We are constructing a most complicated Tariff. The object of appointing a Tariff Commission was to provide for the remedying of anomalies ; but this Tariff will be even less scientific than the last. lt is divided into such a multiplicity of items and sub-items, and gives so much scope for departmental interpretation, that the Customs experts, who are keen and alert for the protection of the revenue, and; incidentally, for the protection of local industries, will have a great deal to do in deciding what rates shall be imposed, and there will be a conflict of opinion which will lead to endless confusion. While the Tariff is yet in the process of making, it is already having this effect. Only last night warm words were exchanged over the table because of an occurrence of the kind. In respect of timber, we are framing a Tariff which, I venture to say, is of the most complicated nature, and will lead to equally reprehensible results in the matter of interpretation.. I should think that the most scientific way of constructing a Tariff, from a protectionist point of view, is to make it as simple, and not as complicated, as possible.
It is useless to belabour this aspect of the question if the Minister has made up his mind, but I complain again that there is a great want of straightforwardness, in the conduct of this Tariff, on the part of those who have charge of it. We are actually going to enact that timber shall be rated as being an inch thick when, in reality, it is not. We are enacting that things are precisely what they are not, and all this will eventually lead to endless trouble. Why, is it being done? The answer is simple: it is being done in order to impose protective duties under cover of complicated arrangements. In some instances, we are taxing goods two or three times over. I mentioned last night a case in which a duty of 20 per cent, or 30 per cent, has been imposed on an article of manufacture, and pointed out that on the top. of that duty, but in a different part of the schedule, we indirectly impose further duties by taxing the labels and packages. Thus, although the main product appears in the schedule as being dutiable at 20 per cent, or 30 per cent., it may be found, in actual practice, to carry a duty of 40 per cent, or 50 per cent. It cannot be said that a Tariff so arranged is scientifically constructed. It is simply an ingenious method of piling up duties which would not be assented to if they were put before the Committee in a clear and straightforward way, as I think that they ought to be. I refer to this instance ‘ as being- typical of many other items with which we have dealt during the. course ot the Tariff through this Committee. The position in regard to the timber duties is resolvable into a very plain statement of fact. The protectionists say that until we can satisfy our own requirements protective duties must be taxes. They assert - and wc may admit, for the purposes of this argument, that the statement is correct - that the moment we are able to supply our own requirements such’ a duty is no longer a taxthat it is simply a protective impost as distinguished from a tax. Accepting this rea- soning of theirs, how does it apply to timber? Those who advocate most earnestly and urgently this duty on timber admit that we are not able, by any means, to supply our own requirements. The Official Year-Book for 1901-7, just published by Mr. Knibbs, shows that our total imports of timber during 1906 were 250,000,000 super, feet, and that our exports for the same period were 155,000,000 super, feet. Here is a curious example of the inability of any tax to control the trade in matters of this kind. lt is curious to observe that in this, as in many other cases, we are exporting nearly as much as we import.
– Our exports consist of hardwood.
– Quite so; but I think that the honorable member will admit that we are unable to satisfy our own requirements in respect of soft wood.
– Not altogether.
– And we shall not be able, even under the most favorable circumstances, to satisfy our own requirements for many years.
– I hope so.
Colonel Foxton. - We shall be able to do so probably twelve months hence. Mr. JOSEPH COOK.- T wish that I could be as optimistic as is my honorable friend in respect of this matter. Queensland has been given a prominent place i’n this debate, though I fail to understand why it should. Mr. Knibbs shows that in the matter of timber production New South Wales is second on the list.
Colonel Foxton. - Not in the production of pine.
– I am speaking of timber generally. Western Australia comes first with a production, in 1906, of 136,294,697 super, feet. Then comes New South Wales, with a production of t 19,337,000 super feet, whilst Queensland is third with 82,801,846 super feet. These figures represent the quantity of local timber sawn or hewn in 1906. Victoria is next on the list with 51,103,000 super, feet, so that all the other States are equally interested with Queensland in the arrangement of these duties.
– In 1901 Queensland led all Australia.
– That is so, but thereafter there was a fall. in her output.
– Is not her position in this respect due to her want of railway accommodation ?
Colonel Foxton. - It is.
– I dare say that is the case; but do the representatives of Queensland think it is fair to tax the primary industries of Australia on the mere off-chance that, at some time or other, railways, opening up the forests of Queensland, will be constructed? Honorable members will admit that until we can supply our own requirements this duty will be a tax, and that it will fall upon the primary in dustries of Australia - industries which, of all others, derive practically no advantage from this Tariff. .
– But is not the timber industry in itself a primary one?
– It is.
– And those engaged in it want to have a “ cut in “ with the others.
– I tell the honorable member candidly that my position is that the Queensland pine industry is entitled ‘ to just the same protection as is granted to any other industry in Australia. On the other hand, we have to consider the primary producers in the light of the fact that for many years Queensland will be unable to supply their requirements in the matter of timber.
– If the honorable member will give us an order twelve months ahead for timber for butter boxes, I will guarantee to fulfil it.
– It is all very well for my honorable friend to make that declaration. I. am quite nonplussed when I hear the conflicting statements which are made concerning Queensland alone. For instance, some representatives from that State declare that in Brisbane there are hundreds of thousands of feet of timber awaiting purchase.” Others say that there are tons and tons of butter in Queensland which cannot be shipped for lack of boxes in which to pack it.
– Who told the honorable member that?
– I heard the statement made.
– The honorable member must have dreamed it.
– I heard the statement made, and by a Queenslander, too. When these duties were originally imposed, I know that in my own electorate the price of fruit cases was .increased by 2d. per case. Whether that increase was justifiable I do not pretend to say. I am merely stating a fact. The same thing happened in connexion with butter boxes. It is true that their price was subsequently reduced somewhat, but to-day, as the result of the operation of the timber duties, these boxes are costing more than they did previously. Am I to vote in favour of imposing taxation upon the primary industries of Australia, when there is no. immediate prospect of their being able to get their timber requirements supplied locally and equally reasonably? There seems to be no reason why Queensland or any other State should not be able to compete with New Zealand - which may be regarded as almost our only competitor in the supply of pine for butter boxes and fruit cases - upon even terms.
– Queensland does not possess the same class of timber as does New Zealand. That is the only trouble.
– I am assured that no better timber for butter boxes can be obtained than that which can be got in. Queensland.
– Did not Queensland butter packed in Queensland boxes, take first prize in England recently ? What better proof of the quality of its timber could we have?
– What is a layman like myself to do when such conflicting statements are made upon the question? The buttermakers say that the Queensland pine is not so suitable for butter boxes as is New Zealand pine.
Mr.Wilson. - It is not nearly so cheap.
– Why is it not as cheap? I suppose it will not be denied that the expense of getting timber in New Zealand - so far as the cost of labour is concerned - is quite as much as it is in Queensland. We have been told that tetter wages obtain in New Zealand than in Australia - that it is the ideal State to which our Australian democracy must look to see all the conditions that should obtain in respect of industrial and social welfare. Why we are unable to successfully compete with New Zealand I am at a loss to understand. But my chief point is that at present we are not able to supply our own demands in the matter of timber. Until those demands can be supplied locally, the existing duty must, on the reasoning of protectionists themselves, act as a tax, and therefore must fall as a heavy imposition on the primary industries of the Commonwealth, which can ill afford to bear it, seeing that they have to compete oversea in the markets of the world.
Colonel FOXTON (Brisbane) [9.28].- At the risk of repeating what I said some days ago in the short address which I then delivered, I desire to make a few observations in reply to what has fallen, not only from the honorable member for Parramatta, but also from the honorable member forIllawarra. But before dealing with any other phase of this question,I wish to point out that a very grave misapprehension exists on the part of a number of honorable members - protectionists and free-traders alike - as to. the extent to’ which the duty upon this item would act as a protective impost. A duty of1s. per 100 superficial feet represents a protection’ of7½ per cent. and a duty of 6d. per 100 superficial feet consequently representsa protection of only 3¾ per cent. One would imagine from the debate which has taken place that the whole of the trades which are dependent upon obtaining a sufficient supply oftimber would be penalized if a duty of1s. per 100 superficial feet were imposed upon it. Could anything be more absurd? What would some persons engaged in our secondary industries - which are practically hot-house plants - think if a paltry protection of only3¾ per cent. were offered to them ? The honorable member forIllawarra certainly gave some rather remarkable statements and figures; and I can only say, as I said before, that these, as well as those previously quoted, are in strong conflict’ with the facts and figures suppliedto me by the timber-getters and saw-millers of Queensland. Mention has beenmade of Mr. Ross, the accredited agent in Sydney of the Queensland Associated Saw -millers. That gentleman was, I understand, appointed on his representing that he could secure orders for 6,000,000 feet per annum; but the Associated Sawmillers are complaining bitterly of his being unable to carry out his undertaking. This, of course, conflicts with the statements made here to-night. I asked specially for the dates of the orders which have been given, and are alleged not to have been fulfilled, and I find that they wereearly in last year. I am told that the saw-millers association was formed about a year and eight months ago; and I understand that since then no orders have been received from Sydney or Melbourne for anything under 12 inches or 24 inches in width. It would appear that the orders referred to by honorable members to-night were given before the formation of the association, for since then all orders are recorded, and none of the kind have been received. One order was so small that it is almost’ absurd to quote it, even if it were not fulfilled, as proving that Queensland saw-millers are unable to supply the market. One item was actually 24 feet of a certain class of timber!
– That was part of a large order.
Colonel FOXTON. - The whole order was very small, involving no more, I suppose, than 10.000 or 12,000 feet.
– Why were the large orders not supplied ?
Colonel FOXTON. - I have alreadv said that the saw-millers are complaining about their agent being unable to obtain the orders he undertook to get ; and the very last words which Mr. Campbell, of Messrs. Campbell and Sons Limited, the president of the Queensland vVssociated Saw-millers, said to me, before leaving Melbourne a few days ago, were to the effect that he intended to get some explanation from Mr. Ross.
– The Marbut Carving Company offered an order that could not he supplied.
Colonel FOXTON. - I question that very much in view of statements made to me by Mr. Campbell, and also by Mr. Brown, of Messrs. Brown and Broad, who represents the unassociated mills, both of whom told me that no such order had been received, unless for timber over 12 inches in width. It is necessary that statements of the kind made by the honorable member for Corangamite should be verified ; and as I have given the names of my informants I should be glad to have the names of his.
– My informant was Mr. JohnRamsay, of Collins-street, Melbourne, chairman of directors of the. Marbut Carving Company.
Colonel FOXTON.- When was the order given?
– When the present Tariff was last before the House of Representatives. It was for small stuff for pictureframe making, and it could1 not be supplied.
Colonel FOXTON.- I am very doubtful as to the truth of the information given to the honorable member. The honorable member for Parramatta has appealed to honorable members not to impose a duty of1s. per foot, on the ground that it will mean taxing the primary industries. But the industry on which will fall the impost caused by this paltry protection, if it be afforded is the building industry, which I do not regard as primary, but one which should pay its fair share of protection on the timber consumed; in the same way as it pays for protection in regard to tiles, slates, iron, and other material. We have in Queensland what is admitted to be very superior pine; . and yet not a solitary foot of it can be seen in any building in course of erection in Melbourne or Syd-, ney.
– I could show the honorable member many buildings in Sydney in which Queensland pine is used.
Colonel FOXTON.- I have looked for evidence of the use of this timber in buildings in Melbourne, but I see Baltic timber everywhere.
– There is more Baltic timber used in Melbourne than in Sydney.
Colonel FOXTON.- My experience of Melbourne is much greater than that of Sydney.
– Queensland and other Australian, woods are being used in the manufacture of pianos in Sydney.
Colonel FOXTOX.-A Queenslander, accustomed to the beautiful pine to be seen in the buildings in that State, observes with surprise the exclusive use ofgnarled and knotted imported pine in Melbourne buildings. I know that it is useless to attempt by any arguments to change the vote, because I believe that every honorable member has made up his mind. But I ask the Committee, haying regard to the importance of the timber industry to the State from which I come, to bear with’ these few words in favour of imposing a duty which, after all. from the protectionist point of view, is less than paltry. What sort of protection is that to offer a primary industry such as this?
Mr.MALONEY (Melbourne) [9.40].- I desire, as a Victorian representative, to offer my support to the views enunciated by the honorable member for Wide Bay. I do so; not only because the duty under consideration is one for the benefit of a primary industry, but also because I consider that we Australians have not hitherto shown that we understand the value of timber and the potentialities of our magnificent forests. I am glad to say that Queensland is in some respects leading the van in the direction of an appreciation of the importance of forestry. No less than one-tenth of the surface of the earth is covered with forests. Europe is richer in forests than any other part of the world in proportion to its size. Russia has an area under forest of 426,000,000 acres ;
United States, 456,000,000 acres, and Germany and France, which lead the world in this respect, have respectively 32,000,000 and 22,000,000 acres under forest. It is calculated that an acre under cultivated forest in Germany will give a greater yield than ten acres in the wild state. The destruction of timber in Australia has been largely due to the fact that in the past we have had bad land laws, which compelled settlers to go out into the heavily -timbered country. In Victoria, . thirty or forty years ago, men who wanted to obtain land upon which to settle had to go into the dense forests of Gippsland and carve homes for themselves. Some of the most magnificent trees in the world have been destroyed in this manner. One famous tree, which’ was said , to be the biggest in the world, was called the Baron tree, in honour of the late Baron Von Mueller. That, in common with other enormous trees, has been destroyed. In Europe, I need hardly remind honorable members, great care is taken of notable and historical trees. I might instance the famous oak which was the means of saving the life of King Charles the Second, owing to the fact that he took refuge in its branches after the battle of Worcester. The timber of the forest is the finest crop that will ever be garnered from the land. No’ other crop which can be planted can equal in value a crop of good timber. I need scarcely remind honorable members that it takes sometimes from 200 to 300 years for some kinds of timber to reach perfection. The honorable member for- Parramatta quoted from a. book, which I held in my hand while he was speaking, .to show how the output of Queensland timber has decreased. That is to be explained by the absence of railway accommodation into the parts of the country where the forests are most dense. I may quote with advantage from Mulhall, a statistical ‘ authority, highly regarded by all economists. He mentions the plantations made by three British noblemen - the Duke of Athol, who at Dunkelt planted 28,000,000 trees’ on 16,000 acres; the Earl of Seafield, who, at Inverness, planted 60,000,000 trees on 40,000 acres; and Lord Powerscourt, who, at Wicklow, planted 3,000,000 trees on 1,000 acres. It is estimated that the last-mentioned nobleman, who planted in 1869 at an outlay of 66s. per acre, will, bv the vear’ 19 15,’ possess a plantation worth .£50 per ‘acre. “ We have’ to remem ber that Australia is poor in respect of ‘her forests in comparison with some other countries in the world, as honorable members will find on turning to the official year-book of the Commonwealth by Mr. Knibbs. I must, in passing, compliment that gentleman on the splendid way in which he has produced this volume, which is a book of statistics that will be valued wherever statistical information is studied in any part of the world. Mr. Knibbs says, comparing the relative value of forest land in Australia with other countries in the world, that the Australian Commonwealth can claim a total forest area of 167,245 square miles. The United States, however, has a forest area of 1.000,000 square miles, and Canada possesses 1,248,000 square miles of forest. So that it behoves us in Australia to be very careful of our forests. Although a Victorian protectionist, I have never claimed for my State what I was not prepared to concede to every other State in Australia. No honorable member can point at me and say that I have been willing to vote for protection for Victoria without being willing to concede the same to every other State. On page 377 of Mr. Knibbs’ volume, the revenue derived b,y the Forestry Departments of the States is shown. New South Wales leads in this respect. In 1900 its revenue from forests was £14,421, and in 1906 this revenue had increased to .£50,937.. The greatest credit must be given to New South Wales in that respect. The revenue in Queensland has increased .from £7,608’. to £14,560 in the same period.’ No one can gainsay the potentialities of Queenslandforestry. Many honorable members have seen for themselves the splendid timbers growing in that State. We have fine forests -in other States’ also, notably in Tasmania, with her fine fiddle-back blackwood. But, as I said before, our forest possessions have been sadly sacrificed in the past. I point out that if we. are- to have . a scientific Tariff, we ought tq recommit item 363, paragraphs c and d, the duties on which ought to be raised from 2s. to 2s. 6d. to 3s. and 3s. 6d., so as to prevent th<* smaller stuff from coming in. We should as far as possible prevent cut timber from being’ imported, and therefore it is my desire to increase the duties on the item ‘I have mentioned. To show the importance of some kinds of timber, I may mention that Le Ptf.it. Journal, which has a circulation of 1,500,000 copies per day -the largest circulation of any newspaper in the world - is said to eat up a pine forest every year ; the paper upon which the journal is printed being manufactured from wood pulp. I may make another allusion from Mr. Knibbs’ volume, page 382. The imports of dressed timber from Norway, in 1906, amounted to 43,712,732 superficial feet, of a value of £273,546. Of undressed timber, which would give our workmen a chance of obtaining employment, we imported from Norway, in the same year, only 1,284,969 superficial feet, of a value of £6,987. We therefore imported £273,000 worth in a prepared state, as against £6,900 worth in an unprepared state. No honorable’ member will say that the Australian workman is not able to do the work of preparing that timber. If we had had a scientific Tariff, we should have made it almost impossible for dressed timber to come into the Commonwealth, while making undressed timber absolutely free. That has been allowed only in regard to logs. From the United States, the other great timber exporting country, we received, in 1906, £19,982 worth of dressed timber, and of undressed timber £549,534 worth.That shows the advantage that it must have been to have had all that quantity of undressed timber coming from the United States prepared inour midst. My vote will be given with the honorable member for Wide Bay. I trust that will be an answer to some of those who have been pointing the finger at Victorian members and saying that they were not consistent in their votes for protection. I do not know a single protectionist in the Labour corner who has not been consistent in his votes on every item in the Tariff. If any honorable member cares to challenge that statement, I will ask him to quote any division where a Victorian Labour protectionist gave a vote for free-trade in any direction whatever. The votes of those honorable members have been straight for protection throughout the length and breadth of the States, taking no cognisance of parochial ideas, and recognising the needs, not of the particular State of which they are representatives, but of the Commonwealth as a whole.
Motion agreed to.
Modification (adding new paragraph, “ Oregon “) made.
Question - That the requested amendment, as modified, be made - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 16
Question so resolved in the negative.
Requested amendment, as modified, not made.
Item 303. Timber, viz. : -
Request. - Insert the words “ and Red Beech “ after the word “ Pine “ ; make the duty1s.
– If I am to judge the feeling of the Committee by the result of the division just taken, it does not appear to be the desire of honorable members to alter in any way their previous decision with respect to these timber duties. I wish, however, to explain in connexion with the Senate’srequest for the insertion of the words “ and red beech,” that the information given me is that this timber has been imported into the Commonwealth during the past four years. It was first used for making picture and room mouldings, but later it has been imported for the manufacture of furniture, including bent-wood chairs. It does seem to me that there should be a duty on a timber which so directly competes with timbers which we have in the Commonwealth suitable for these purposes.
– And especially Tasm a nian timbers.
– I was just going to mention the Tasmanian timbers.
– I see no reason, why the duty should be increased.
– The honorable gentleman would make everything free and injure the country as he did New South Wales for so many years. That State is fifty years behind what she would have been but for his action. It appears that this red beech is coming into keen competition with some of the most beautiful woods that we have in the Commonwealth. If honorable members are protectionists at all fhey should protect timbers which are largely used for the manufacture of furniture, picture frames, and for like purposes. Not long since I visited in Adelaide probably the finest and most uptodate furniture manufacturing establishment in the southern hemisphere. I was shown by the owner, Mr. Matthias, an immense quantity of Tasmanian wood which he had imported, and was keeping, in order that it might be seasoned, for the manufacture of the class of furniture to which I have referred. He told me that it was some of the finest timber for the purpose that could be obtained in any part of the world, and that after it was seasoned no other timber could be compared to it for the purposes for which he required it. I think that such timber should be protected in some way. The existing duty is 6d. per 100 superficial feet, and the Senate recommend that it should be increased to1s. If I am to take the result ofthe last division as an indication of the feeling of the Committee it would seem almost useless to try to secure protection of any kind for Australian timbers.
– It would be just as well that we should see who are the geographical protectionists.
– Let the honorable gentleman say that this wood is grown in Victoria, and he will win the next division.
– I do not say anything of the kind, but I do think that honorable members should display some common-sense, and agree to protect timbers suitable for the special purposes to which I have referred. The difficulty of securing suitable timber for the manufacture of butter-boxes does not arise in connexion with the item before the Committee. I am dealing now with timber required for” the manufacture of furniture and picture- frames, and the Tasmanian timber to which I have referred takes as fine a gloss and polish as any timber I have ever seen.
– Tasmania does not need any protection.
– Does she not?
– I am sure I do not know. I have been very much surprised that some representatives of Tasmania should have voted for duties on timber as low as 6d. per 100 superficial feet. That honorable members should lose their heads in these matters to the extent they do is amazing to me.
– They probably know more about the requirements of their own State than does the honorable gentleman.
– They do not know more about their own State than I do.
– Why does not the honorable gentleman get them into the bag?
– I shall say nothing about that, because it might be suggested that I meant something serious. If for no other reason, I think I shall be justified in moving that the requested amendments should be made, in order that we may discover what Tasmanian representatives and othermembers of the Committee are prepared to do to protect the beautiful timber to which I have referred, and which is being exported from that State to other parts of the Commonwealth. I move -
That the requested amendment as to wording be made.
If the Committee agrees to make the requested amendment in regard to the wording, we can deal with the amendment requested in the duty afterwards.
– I should like to inform the Committee that the Senate has requested the insertion of the words “ and red beech “ in this item for a reason which is quite opposed to that which the Minister has stated. This red beech comes from New Zealand, and is undoubtedly avery fine timber. It is the only timber imported that can be used for the manufacture of bent-wood chairs. The reason the Senate desires that it should be specially included in this item is that if it is not so included it will come under another item; where it will carry a heavier duty than1s. per 100 superficial feet. I have that statement from at least halfadozen members of the Senate. This red beech comes from New Zealand. The lower the duty we impose upon it, the better another place will be pleased.
– Tasmanians should not be better pleased.
– Tasmania requires no protection for her timber. The Committee will be doing what is right it it adheres to the duty decided on before, and makes the amendment requested by the Senate in the wording of the item.
.- By proposing that the Committee should make the amendment requested by the Senate in the wording of this item, the Minister is seeking to do what would only defeat his his own object. It would be far more in keeping with the honorable gentleman’s protectionist principles that he should move that the amendment be not made, since if red beech is not included in the item it will’ be dutiable, under item 303, paragraph c - Timber, undressed, n.e.i., 7 x 2½ inches - or under item 303, paragraph d- Timber, undressed, n.e.i., less than 7 x2½ inches - at 2s. or 2s. 6d. per 100 superficial feet.
– That is the point, and the Senate have requested that it should be dutiable at only1s.
– It is not necessary to go tothe Sen ate for that information, it canbe obtained from the Tariff.
– How about the timber for butter- boxes ?
– While I am on my feet I desire to say a few words in regard to butter-boxes. I have listened with intense interest to the arguments for and against the timber duties, and I am convinced that sometimes honorable members speak from theory more than from practice. I know, as a matter of fact, that the mill-owners of Queensland do not want the butter-box trade.
– The other representatives of the State do not say that.
– I make the statement after having had eight years’ experience in buying butter-boxes. I have been told that, the mill-owners are not prepared now to supply the, requirements of the butter trade in Queensland.
– That is a very grave accusation to make against those who have been advocating the other side of the question.
– I am speaking from practical experience. During the last few weeks I have seen stacked up in the factories of Queensland tons of butter for which boxes could not be obtained. In this matter we ought to be fair to both sides. My object is to try to protect, as much as I can, the timber industry of not only Queensland, but Australia generally. I believe that it needs some protection, but when the mill -owners say that they do not want the butter-box trade, and the dairying industry is going to suffer to such an extent, I submit that we should take into consideration the two industries.
– Has the honorable member any documentary evidence of that?
– The mill-owners’ representatives, who were in the lobbies during the last few days, told me that theydo not want the butter-box trade- they have told me that for the last eight years in a practical way - as they would not supply our requirements. If the honorable member wants more substantial evidence than that I cannot produce it.
– They must have come down here for a funny object, as they told me exactly the opposite, and they came as the accredited representatives of Queensland.
– The object of the millowners in waiting upon the honorable gentleman was to secure some protection for the vast quantity of timber which is now being destroyedin Queensland because it cannot be successfully placed’ on the market. It is far superior to Baltic pine and other timbers which are being used for building purposes here, but it will not be taken by thesouthern States from the millowners. I propose to move the deletion of red beech, so that it may fall into paragraph c or d of item 303.
– It will be liableto a higher duty there, I think.
– It will be dutiable at 2s. or2s. 6d. per 100 superficial feet, according to the size.
– It is not necessary for the honorable member to submit a motion. He can attain his object by voting against the Treasurer’s proposal.
– I find that the words “red beech “ were not” used in the old Tariff.
– The expression “ Timber n.e.i.” was used, though.
– Yes. Red beech was not named in any shape or form, but it came in under three or four items’ and at different rates, according to the size. I am informed that the duty was higher than that which is proposed in the present Tariff, namely,1s.
– That is, as regards the smaller sizes.
– The average duty was somewhat higher than the rate with which we are now dealing. I certainly want to get the highest duty that I can, and therefore I am quite prepared to adopt the suggestion of the honorable member and to disagree with the alteration of the wording of the item. I want to protect our beautiful woods, which are used for the same purpose as is red beech, and I hope that honorable members will assist me to get the highest duty that I can.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the requested amendment as to wording be not made.
.- I understand . that the effect of our not agreeing to the inclusion of red beech in paragraph b of item 303 will be to bring that’ wood under a higher duty.
– I cannot say exactly what the duty will be, but on an average I believe that it will be higher than the rate in the old Tariff.
– So long as that is understood I have no objection to coming to a division.
.- I wish to understand clearly whether the intention of the Treasurer is to put red beech into a new paragraph, or to let it fall bark into paragraph d.
– It is to leave it as it was.
Motion agreed to.
Requested amendment not made.
– After the vote in connexion with a previous item, it is hardly worth while to provoke a discussion in regard to the Senate’s requested amendment as to the rate of duty, and, therefore,I move - .
That the requested amendment as to duly be not made.
. -I wish to point out that a number of honorable members voted with the Ministry in regard to the Senate’s proposal about red beech, in order to be loyal to a compact made in this Chamber before the Tariff was sent to the Senate. Although the Government was a party to that contract, Ministers in the Senate supported the proposal to increase the duty from 6d. to1s., and 1 therefore ask now what action those Ministers intend to take when the item is again before the Senate?
– The honorable member must not discuss what takes place in the Senate.
– I am asking a question as to the probable action of Ministers. Will the Treasurer promise that the Ministry will beloyal to the compact to impose a duty of 6d. ?
– The Treasurer has not entered into any compact ; he has accepted an adverse vote.
– The compact to which I refer was made when the Tariff was last before us. But for it, certain timber would be on the free list. We should have an assurance from the Treasurer that in this matter, Ministers will act honorably.
– They always do.
Motion agreed to.
Requested amendment not made.
Requested amendment in item 303 (Timber), inserting new paragraph bi, not made.
Item 303. Timber, viz. : -
Request. - Leave’ out “ ; including door stocks” Insert new paragraph - (D1) Timber, undressed, in sizes less than 7 ft. 6 in. x 10 in. x2½ in., for door stocks, per 100 super, feet, 2s.
Motion . (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the requested amendment be not made.
.- The Senate asks us to reduce the duty on what is the raw material of doors.
– We agreed to the higher rate on a previous occasion.
– But honorable members have gone back on a number of things in regard to which there were agreements. To my mind, it’ is reasonable to reduce the duty on door stocks from 2s. 6d. to 2s., to allow those in the joinery business to get their raw material more cheaply. Of course, if honorable members have made up their minds, it is useless for me to make a speech on the subject; but I hope that the Committee will make the requested amendment.
– I trust that the Committee will not agree to this request. Tasmania’s position in this House is neither apologetic nor defensive. Her representatives have on every occasion assisted -the manufacturers of Victoria and New South Wales to secure a high Tariff against the outside world, even at the expense of their own State, and yet, when they ask the Committee to stand by a duty that will enable the mill-owners of Tasmania to secure the investment of more capital in their industries, so that they may carry large stocks and thus have an opportunity to season their timber, they find that most of the protectionist representatives of Victoria and New South Wales are prepared to accept only that’ which suits themselves. We find them combining against the interests of the small State of Tasmania. We have in that State blackwood, redgum, peppermint, ironbark, fiddleback, and tallow-wood - we have timbers that have been described by experts in all parts of the world as superior to any grown in the rest of the Southern Hemisphere. The honorable member for Kooyong will admit that Tasmania furnishes timber for the Mount Lyell mine superior to any that Queensland can produce.
– But. this request relates to soft wood.
– Some honorabel members are prepared ‘to cling to anything that suits their own interests. Talk about statesmen who are going to build up a new nation ! Heaven help the nation that has to- depend on such men as the honorable member for Fremantle, who talks only for his own interests. It is time we brought a missionary here to preach salvation to such honorable members. I do not wish to say unkind things, for I recognise that the polish has not yet left the Pagan. Each generation simply tells the tale of its civilization, and many honorable members who came here as protectionists are, so to speak, not yet civilized. There is a day of judgment coming for them. This is an item of serious interest to Tasmania, the gem of the Southern Hemisphere, which entered the Union without asking for any favours at the expense of the other States. She said to the people of the rest of the Commonwealth, “ Take freely of all that our land and our waters can give,” and yet we find honorable members not prepared to support a duty that will enable those engaged in the great timber industry of that State to secure capital to extend their interests. Financiers in Australia will not help this class of men, and are not likely to do so until my national bank scheme is in operation. They will help only those who have the Universe behind them. Many years ago, I should have been crushed in this country but for the honorable member for Balaclava. I was a stranger in a strange land, and he was a Christian. Having had that experience, I can fully sympathize with small men engaged in saw-milling, who have to fight great combines outside Australia, consisting in many cases of men who are directors of banks, and are able to utilize the people’s money in their enterprises. Such combines ship to Australia thousands and thousands of feet of timber to glut the local market and crush out the small man in the industry here. I appeal to honorable members not to agree to this request.
– I do not propose to reply to the heated speech just made by the honorable member for Darwin, who has waxed eloquent over a difference of 6d. per 100 superficial feet in respect of the duty on doorstocks. The Treasurer proposes that this request be not made, and I wish to ask him whether he is prepared to stand by the whole of the timber duties, as -passed by this House. If he is, we can save a great deal of debate, and arrive at practically the same result.
– I propose to move the acceptance of what is described as a formal amendment in paragraph j, and I wish, also, to propose a modification of the request in regard to hubs, with the object of making elm hubs with metal bandsfree.
– My proposal would meet the objection of the honorable member for Darwin if the Minister agreed to accept the succeeding dutiesas originally passed by this Committee.
– In paragraph j I- intend to move, after, the word “ laths,” the insertion of the letters “n.e.i.”; in paragraph n I propose to agree to the request of the Senate, with the modification that after the word “ hubs “ the letters “ n.e.i.” be inserted ; and in paragraph y’ I intend to move the striking out of the words “ or without,” with a view to making elm hubs with metal bands free. In reference to the request of the Senate, in item 303, I intend to move the insertion of words which will provide that a superficial foot shall mean an area of one square foot on one surface, and not more than one inch nor less than §ths of an inch in thickness. I feel bound to move that amendment, as I made a promise in reference to it.
– The leader and the deputy leader of the Opposition inform me that honorable members on this side ot the chamber can accept’ the proposals of the Government down to the ‘ request of the Senate relating to item 303.
.- It may be necessary to remind the Committee that the request of the Senate for a reduced duty upon door stocks is supported by the carpenters and joiners of Fremantle and Perth, who find that the duty levied by this Committee would interfere very considerably with their industry. I think that they are entitled to quite as much consideration as are the persons upon whose behalf the honorable member for Darwin made such an eloquent appeal.
.- I am inclined to think that the Treasurer has made up his mind in respect to this item in the absence of special information as to the reasons prompting the request of the Senate in respect of door stocks. The position of those engaged in the door trade is that,while the duty upon doors has not been increased, the duty upon the raw material of which they are manufactured has been increased. Consequently, instead of the protection which has been afforded proving a benefit to the Australian workmen, it is operating in the other direction. If the Treasurer really desires to protect this class, I think that he should give the Committee his view upon the matter in the light of the statement which I have just made.
.- I hope that the Treasurer will also recollect that the duty which he proposes upon timber re- presents a tax of from 6d. to 8d. per door, and that the door manufacturers already enjoy a protection of 7s. 6d. per door. If it be right to protect the joiner in the .workshop, it is equally right to protect the timbergetter, who was referred to by the honorable member for Darwin. I believe in protecting the bush worker equally with the city artisan. I should like to ask the Treasurer, who is to follow this timber with a view to seeing that it is used only for door stocks ?
– The size of it is stipulated.
– But we know that timber of the size specified in this item can be used for various purposes. Personally, I think that, in respect of paragraphs d and dj, we should have a fixed duty of 2s. 66.
Motion agreed to.
Requested amendment not made.
Requested amendment in item 303, paragraph j (Laths), made.
Requested amendment in item 303, paragraph n (Hubs), made, with a modification inserting the letters “ n.e.i.”
Requested amendment in item 303, paragraph u (Broom stocks) not made.
Item 303. Timber, viz. : -
Request. - Make the duty each, is.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the requested amendment be not made, but that the words “ or without “ be left out.
.- If the motion moved by the Treasurer be agreed to, it will mean that elm hubs with metal bands will be free, while those without metal bands will be charged is. each ; in other words, the article on which the greatest amount of work has been expended will be admitted free, while that which has been subjected to the smallest amount of work will be made dutiable. It may be that there is some patent hub metal band which some importers desire should come in without being subject to duty ; but, in the absence of any information on the point, this seems to be a most left-handed kind of protection, and if a division is taken on this question, I shall vote against the proposal of the Minister.
. -I, too, am not quite clear in regard to this item. I am advised that the better course would be to delete the words “ with or “ ; but if we have the assurance of the Treasurer that his motion will have the same result as that desired by those interested, I am content.
– It is as the honorable member says.
Motion agreed to.
Requested amendment not made, but a modification made.
Requested amendment in item 303, paragraph cc (Spokes, Rims, &c), not- made.
Item 303. Timber, viz. : -
Request. - After sub-item (dd) insert -
Note (to come into force on and after 1st September, 1908). - For the purposes of this Division, a superficial foot shall mean an area of one square foot on one surface, and being one inch or less in thickness. ….
– I move -
That the requested amendment be modified to read -
Note (to come into force on and after 1st September, 1908). - For the purposes of this Division, a superficial foot shall mean an area of one square foot on one surface, and being not more than one inch nor less than3/8th of an inch in thickness.
Motion agreed to.
Motion (by Sir. William Lyne), proposed -
That the requested amendment, as modified, be made.
.- The Committee apparently is not in a temper to debate the matter, but I am of opinion that the Senate has interpreted the Tariff in a better sense than did the Committee on a previous occasion. I state, as a matter of fact, that in Queensland it has always been a trade custom, when timber was dressed, to charge any portion of one inch as an inch.
– If an inch plank were divided into sixteen planks, it would mean the payment of the duty sixteen times over.
– That is a misleading statement. The Treasurer under the duress of numbers has agreed to the largest sizes coming in at the smallest possible duty. Now it has been proposed that the work upon this timber should be performed in the cheap labour countries. That is a mistake from my point of view.
– We have already provided for an increased duty on cut timber.
– It is a very small increase, and not nearly enough. Although the debate has ranged round softwoods, in my opinion, sooner or later the most important timber trade of Australia will be in respect of hardwoods and the value of that timber will ultimately be enormous. The cutting of it will be a very important industry. It cannot be denied that a certain amount of labour will be performed in the countries from which this timber comes. The people who do that labour do not do it for their health’s sake. It is done abroad because that labour is cheaper.
– Labour is dearer in New Zealand and in America.
– That may or may not be the case. I hope that it will not be long before the Australian workman will be paid as much as the New Zealand workman in the timber trade. A country which produces more wealth per head than New Zealand does can surely afford to pay as high wages asare paid in New Zealand. The honorable member for North Sydney has given the best’ reason for insisting on the measurement being included in the Tariff. I venture to say that we shall not have heard the last of the timber duties to-night. The settlement of this question will not be determined by the vote about to be given. This will be one of the first’ items of the Tariff to be attacked. What we are about to do will lead to a reopening of the Tariff at the earliest possible date. I believe that Parliament has made a. mistake. . Honorable members seem determined to maintain that mistake, and, of course, numbers being all powerful, it is futile to resist the inevitable.
Question - That the requested amendment, as modified, be made - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 8
Question so resolved in the negative.
Requested amendment, as modified, not made.
Item 303. Timber, viz. : -
Request. - After sub-item (dd) insert : -
Note. - The term “ super, face “ means the superficial measurement of those surfaces (except edges) of the timber actually dressed or partly dressed.
.- This note refers to paragraph s of item 303. I should like to see some note inserted to define the term “ super face,” but perhaps the Committee are not aware that the Customs Department are charging duty on all the dressed surfaces of the timber, and in this way the duty is increased in some instances to two or three times more than it was the intention of the Committee to charge. On a board like the one I hold in my hand, for instance, the Department measure the planed edges as well as the two planed sides. It was the intention of this Committee that a board like this, which is one foot square, should pay duty on one square foot. The amount now being charged by the Department on that board is1¼d. It was the intention of the Committee that the duty on it should be about½d. The rate in paragraph s is 2s. 6d. per 100 super face, but under the departmental reading of the term “super face,” the duty runs to about 6s. per 100 super feet. The Department say that the duty is not on the timber, but on the dressing.
– The honorable member is incorrect in stating that the Department charge on the six faces.
– They do charge on the six faces. This board happens to be intended to be part of a butter-box, and the duty on that box was7½d.
– The Department charge only on two faces.
– It can be dressed in. the Commonwealth, and theduty saved.
– If it is the intention of the Committee to put a duty of 5s. per 100 super, feet on dressed timber, I have no objection ; but if the Committee intended the duty to be only 2s. 6d., and the Department interpret it to be 5s. 6d. or 6s.-
– That is not correct. It was charged at first, but it has been altered.
– That is the duty being collected at the present time.
– Theduty is charged only on the two sides.
– How long since?
– Since the 6th December last.
– Has the practice been altered since last week?
– We have not charged on the edges since 6th December last.
– Will the Minister of Trade and Customs say that they have not charged on both sides?
– I will not, because we do charge on both sides.
– The Committee intended that the duty should apply only to one side of the timber. Super, face means the same as superficial measurement, and this board should measure up only 1 square foot. The Department say that it measures 2 square feet.
– Is there no one in Queensland who can dress it?
– Undoubtedly, but did the Committee intend to make two pieces of timber out of one?
– The Department charge for the two dressed sides.
– They charge for the dressing on both sides. If the Committee think that 5s. per 100 super, faceis a reasonable duty on dressed timber, I am quite prepared to vote with them, but I am not willing to vote for putting upon the work of the Committee an interpretation that the Committee never intended it to bear. I move -
That the requested amendment be modified to read -
Note. - The term “super, face” means the superficial measurement of one surface (except edges) of the timber actually dressed or partly dressed if being under i inch in thickness.
– You want everything in your own pocket. That is what you go for - butter-boxes and everything. This definition is the practice in the trade.
– The honorable member for Moreton seems to have a grievance because duty is charged upon both sides of the dressed timber. I ask him to remember, as a good protectionist, that it is the desire of the majority of the Committee to protect the workmen of -Australia against competition from outside. If a duty is to be imposed in respect only of the dressing of timber on one side, the honorable member for Moreton must see that we shall be only half protecting Australian workmen. Is it not a fact that any one who wishes to use timber dressed on both sides, must pay for the work of dressing it on both sides ? If the honorable member were a worker in timber, would ‘he agree that those to whom he supplied timber dressed on both sides should pay for the dressing of it only on one side?
– He would be charged for dressed timber, not for double-dressed timber.
– If the timber was dressed only on one side, would he not expect to be charged less for it ?
– Yes, but it would not be dressed timber.
– I think I have disposed entirely of the honorable member’s grievance. I have shown that whilst he is prepared, when he buys timber, to pay for the dressing of it on both sides, he is prepared to pay duty only in respect of the dressing of timber on one side. He is not treating the question fairly, when he asks the Committee to reverse the decision previously come to, on the plea that the wishes of the Committee have not been carried out by the Department.
– When did the Committee come to the decision to which the honorable member refers?
– When it dealt with the item previously, and passed the ‘ word “ super, face.” The honorable member for Moreton, who has dealt in timber, must be aware that the Department has adopted a trade practice in charging duty on every dressed surface.
– He is thinking of butter-boxes.
– This does not affect butter-boxes.
– It may bring some comfort to the honorable member’s mind, to learn that the time is not far distant when timber will not be used for the manufacture of butter-boxes, because an Australian invention will make the use of timber for the purpose unnecessary, by substituting for it a material, which can be produced in large quantities in Australia, and is one of the products of a primary industry.
.- The Committee has done away with the previous measurement, reckoning a super’ficial foot as having a thickness of one inch. Under the decision at which the Committee has now arrived, timber, fa-in. thick, can be dressed on both sides, and eight boards, each £-in. thick, and dressed oh both sides, will be treated by the Customs Department in the same way as one board 1 inch thick. If an inch board could be cut into boards I - I 6th inch thick, and they could be planed, dressed, and polished on both sides, they might be imported ‘ at the same duty as would be imposed on one board, an inch thick, dressed on both sides.
– The honorable member is absolutely wrong.
– The honorable member is very positive in his statements, but the decision of the Committee is exactly as I have stated it.
– If the honorable member were right, he apparently desires that the duty on the sixteen boards should be sixteen times as much as the duty on the board 1 inch thick.
– If the inch board could be cut into thirty-two boards, the same thing would apply. I mention this just to show the absurdity of the proposition.
– I wish to say a word in reply to the honorable member for Moreton, who is more concerned about the butter-box business than he is about the interests of men working in the saw-mills in his electorate, and in other parts of Queensland. If the honorable member went to a barber to have his hair cut, and the barber, after cutting his hair only on one side, attempted to charge him the usual price for haircutting, he would insist that the barber should finish the job.
– A man’s hair can only be cut on one side at a time, whereas a planing machine will plane both sides of a plank at the same time. The honorable member can see that being done in Melbourne at any time.
– Then the work of dressing the timber can be done here?
– The honorable member for Corangamite has shocked my nervous system by his statement that a board can be planed on both sides in Melbourne. If this work can be done in Melbourne, that is the best argument that could be advanced for the imposition of the duty, and if it is true that this work can be done in Melbourne, I am satisfied that the duty will be carried. The honorable member for Moreton said that the people interested in the export of butter are waiting for the timber in Queensland to grow, that they mav use it for the manufacture of Butterboxes, but I venture to say that if he will give Queensland saw-millers an order for butter-box timber to-morrow, they will be able to execute it with despatch. If he wants timber for the manufacture of butterboxes, the honorable member can get it if he is willing to pay a fair price for it. If, as a manager of a butter factory, he received timber for butter-boxes dressed on one side only, I have no doubt that he would send it back quick and lively at the saw-miller’s expense. Those who wish to import timber, planed on both sides, should be willing to pay. a duty to cover the dressing of the timber.
.-I think it only fair that I should reply first of all to the insinuation of the Treasurer, when he said that I spoke only in the interests of those who require timber for the manufacture of butter-boxes. A great deal of the argument that has been used on the other side, has been merely theoretical. As a matter of fact, we do not get dressed timber for butter boxes. There is not a foot of dressed timber imported for that purpose. I exhibited the board in my hand this evening, because it was a foot square. I tried to impress upon the Committee that its intention was not being carried out by charging one foot of timber as two feet. With reference to the remarks of the honorable members for Laanecoorie and Maranoa, those honorable members asked me if I would accept a board dressed on one side only as a dressed board. This note refers to timber dressed, or partly dressed.’ Therefore, if a board is imported with only one surface dressed, it comes under the definition. I intend to press my amendment, and if the Committee decide that both sides of a board should when dressed be charged duty, I shall be prepared to accept its decision. But I object to the Department putting a wrong interpretation upon bur intention.
– If the honorable member for Moreton intends to press his amendment, of course I shall have to accept the decision of the Committee, but as this is a very important matter, I do not want totake a vote in a thin House. I’ want to ascertain the feeling of the Committee, but some honorable members have gone away during the last few minutes.
– They are paired.
– No. This is a more important matter than some honorable members appear to think, and, therefore, I desire to take a vote in a full House.
– Why should the Department, simply by issuing a regulation, double the duty fixed by Parliament ? That is the point.
– In the morningI shall have full particulars as to what the Department does charge for, and whether it has deviated from the ordinary course of trade, and, if so, why.
– The honorable member does not intend to report progress?
– Why not postpone the consideration of this item, and go on with others?
– I think that honorable members are unreasonable. I have been sitting here for a very long time, and feel very tired.
– I have seen the honorable gentleman sitting all night, many a time.
– So I have, but I suffered in health a good deal. I prefer to deal with this matter in the morning.
House adjourned at11.35p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 14 May 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1908/19080514_reps_3_46/>.