3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. In replying to a question that I put to him last Thursday, the Minister of Trade and Customs appeared to suggest that I had endeavoured to place a false construction upon some papers I had looked through at theCustoms Department. He spoke these words-
He- that is myself - 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.
It is true, as the Minister said, that I looked through the papers, and in order to clear myself in the eyes oftheHouse from the imputation which would otherwise rest upon me, I must say what I did find. I found that oh 27th August last the Collector of Customs at Sydney had sent some wire about paper used by the Bulletin to the Department of Trade and Customs in Melbourne, and that, although a reference to it existed, the telegram itself had been lost. On the 30th August, a gentleman connected with the Argus made representations to the Department, and those representations were simply minuted - “ Is this super-calendered paper known as news’ paper?” The next reference is dated 2nd September, when the Collector in Sydney wired to the ComptrollerGeneral -
Please reply my wire 27th uft. re printing paper. Large quantities arriving here of imitation 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.
That telegram was minuted by the ComptrollerGeneral of Customs -
Submitted that if this paper is used exclusively for the purposes . mentioned, it may be deemed “news,” and admitted accordingly.
That minute was approved by the Minister, on the same day. On the same date - 2nd September - the following telegram was sent by the Comptroller- General to Sir William Lyne, who was then in Sydney -
Have instructed Sydney Customs that if paper mentioned their wire to-day is used exclusively for newspapers and publications registered for transmission through the post it may be deemed news and admitted accordingly. Bulletin advised.
On the same day the Bulletin was advised by Dr.. Wollaston’, whose message concluded with the words “first intimation of difficulty received to-day.” . Two days later - not the same day - a gentleman connected with the Argus proprietary was informed by the Department that, they could also have their paper free. The Minister, therefore, was not stating a fact when he’ appeared to put me in a false position by saying that the Bulletin and Argus were “advised” on the same day. The question I asked him was why it was thought’ necessary to inform the Treasurer, Sir- William Lyne, of a matter of Customs departmental administration. The answer that he gave me may or may not have been intended as ‘an evasion of my direct question, but certainly the reflection upon myself which the Minister’s words involved , was not justified by the facts I have just put before the House. .
-By way of personal explanation, may I point out, Mr. Speaker, that no reflection was intended to be cast upon the honorable member for Wentworth. The House will, I think, agree with me that he sought from his questions to convey the inference that favour had been shown to a particular newspaper.
– Which inference -has not yet been removed.
– The honorable member for Parramatta has also been industriously engaged in looking through the departmental papers.
– Absolutely incorrect; I have never seen them.
– Surely, Mr. Speaker, I am entitled to deny an inaccurate statement?
– The honorable member is certainly entitled in a proper way to deny an inaccurate statement; but hie must not do so by way of interjection during a personal explanation.
– Will the honorable member for Parramatta deny’ that he and other honorable, members were discussing this matter this morning?
– - Yes.
– I understood that the honorable- member for Wentworth wished in the first place to imply . that favoritism had been shown in respect of the admission of certain paper, and I requested him to give notice of his question, so that I might answer it. He’ did give notice, and in answering his question I invited himto examine the departmental papers. On Thursday, when he put a further series of questions to me, without notice, I invited him to give notice, of them, and it is significant that he has not thought fit to put such questions to me upon notice. The honorable member now returns to the charge by means of a personal explanation, in which he asserts that I cast a reflection upon him.What I said was that as he had examined the departmental papers he must be aware that notice of the decision was sent to several newspapers on the same day.
– It was not.
– The departmental papers bear out . my statement that notice was sent to several newspaper proprietors. Even if notice was not sent to all on the same date, that is a matter of no moment. Then, again, the honorable member for Wentworth said that the papers referred to a telegram which apparently had been lost, thereby wishing to convey a further inference. I do not believe that any paper has been lost. A telegram would be despatched by the Collector of Customs, in Sydney, to the Comptroller-General, and I think we are satisfied that those officers are not disposed to show favoritism. If my memory serves me rightly, a communication reached the Department by telephone and not by telegraph.
– Hear, hear.
– The Treasurer telephoned ?
– These matters are decided by the ComptrollerGeneral, and those who know him willacquit him of any desire to grant a preference to any individual.
– I wish to ask the Treasurer why he felt it incumbent upon him to telephone to another Department - to wit, the Trade and Customs Department - upon a matter concerning the Bulletin newspaper to which telephone message’ I understand from the interjection which he has made, he received a reply by wire upon the date that super-calendered paper was ordered to be admitted free?
– I do not know the exact date upon which that order was issued, and I cannot say whether I was then in charge of the Trade and Customs Department, or of the Treasury. But I do know the circumstances of the case, and I would take similar action to-morrow.
– No doubt.
SirWILLIAM LYNE.- When Ministers are in Sydney it is customary for persons who consider that they have grievances to wait upon them.
– Would the Treasurer do the same thing for the Sydney Daily Telegraph?
– Yes ; or for the Argus, . which is just as bad. What really happened was that some paper was brought to me in Sydney, andI was told that it was dutiable. I forget who brought thepaper to me, but I dare say it was a representative of the Bulletin, because it was Bulletin paper. I did not know whether the paper was dutiable or not, and, in order to ascertain, I telephoned to either the Minister of Trade and Customs or the Comptroller-General to ascertain; and that, so far as I recollect, was how the matter first arose. The reply
I got was that to which the honorable member has referred ; and thus I account for the terrible “missing telegram” which he thought had been abstracted from the papers.
– Has the Treasurer any objection to state who paid for the telephone message, and whether it would not have been cheaper to send a telegram?
– The telephone is the quicker means of communication, and time saved is sometimes equal to a good deal of money. I telephone whenever I deem it desirable to do so on public business.
– Has the PostmasterGeneral any objection to lay onthe table a statement showing the revenue received from official messages on the MelbourneSydney: telephone?
– I have not the slightest objection.
– The payment is only to ourselves.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister a question with reference to the following cablegram which appeared in the Age on Saturday last -
The strong feeling that exists among British sailors, dock hands, and the waterside workers against the employment of Chinese on British ships has broken out into violence at Poplar, a parish in the East End of London. In many of the streets of the East End the Chinese’ are hunted as soon as they appear, and those captured are severely used. . These violent methods have been adopted with the object of intimidating the Chinese, and preventing tbem taking employment on British ships. The British sailors allege that many of the Chinese cannot pass the language test, which the law insists shall be imposed on foreigners seeking employment on British vessels.
Is the Prime Minister prepared in view of these, facts to- givepreference to British goods handled by the yellow agony to the exclusion of white men? Does he think that a Government which gets the white man to fight battles and shed blood for the preservation of the Empire is acting honestly-
– The honorable member is now going beyond the proper limits of a question.
– Does the Prime Minister think that that Government is acting honestly in allowing shipping rings to engage Chinese when white men in London to-day are permitted to starve ?
– My information upon the subject in question is nd more extensive than is that of the honorable member. It is derived from the cable published in the newspapers. I regret both the disturbance and its cause.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether he has invited the British Government to arrange for the special representation of the British Navy in Australian waters during the visit . of the American Fleet? If so, has he received any reply to his communication?
– I have forwarded an invitation for the British Navy to be specially represented during the period in question, but have not received any reply.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether he is able to take the House into his confidence in reference to the arrangements which have been made for the entertainment of the American Fleet, and whether he is aware that the local governing authorities in New South Wales are unable to complete their plans pending the decision of the Commonwealth regarding what is to be done?
– I am in hopes that the appointment of the Committee which is to assist Ministers in arriving at a determination of the part to be played by the Commonwealth in the reception of the American Fleet will be made within the next day or two. .
– As I am in receipt of telegrams from the Mayor of Fremantle and the Citizens League, requesting me to endeavour to enlist the influence of the Prime Minister in an effort to induce the American Fleet - or a portion of it - ‘to visit Fremantle, and as it is reported in the newspapers that a portion of the ‘Fleet will pass Fremantle, will the Prime Minister supply the House with any information that he may have upon the subject?
– At the request, of the States concerned, am invitation was sent to the United States Government to permit of the Fleet calling at the capitals of the various States other than New South Wales and Victoria, to which the following reply was received -
United States Government much regret inability to send Fleet to Fremantle, Adelaide, Hobart, and Moreton Bay, in view of itinerary having already been settled, and impossibility of extending voyage, save by postponing return to United States beyond date fixed. Fleet will visit Auckland, Sydney, Melbourne, and Albany, at first and last of which “ports Fleet will coal.
It appears, therefore, that the Fleet will coal at a Western, Australian port. I think that’ the honorable member is aware that the Premier of Western Australia has been endeavouring to make an arrangement by which a part of the Fleet, at all events, would proceed to Fremantle, but whether he has met with any success I cannot say.
– Does the communication which the Prime Minister has read come from Washington?
– It emanates from the United States Government, and is dated 15th April.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs’ whether the paragraph appearing in the newspapers of to-day, to the effect that he has made arrangements that kerosene imported into the Commonwealthshall possess a flash point of 73 degrees Fahrenheit, is correct, and, if so, where he derives his authority for the framing of. such a regulation?
– The statement in question is not altogether correct. The Department has a right to see that the kerosene imported into the Commonwealth possesses a flash point sufficiently high to prevent danger being apprehended from its use. Under the old Tariff and up to the present the flash point of 73 degrees Fahrenheit has been observed by the Department. There has, however, been a great deal of conflicting evidence upon this matter, which is now under consideration. No alteration in the flash point of kerosene will be made until the Department is satisfied as to what is the proper thing to do.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence if his attention has been called to the following telegram from Goulburn, which appears in the Sydney Morning Herald of Friday last - .
HOW CADETS ARE ENCOURAGED.
Eight Months of Waiting.
While therehas been much profession of the intention of the Federal Government to place the Defence question on a sound footing, an example is furnished locally of the manner in which business which should receive immediate attention is delayed. About eight months ago a cadet corps was formed by the Gordon Club, an. association of lads. Some two months ago official papers were received. These were filled in promptly, and at once returned. Nothing has, however, been heard since, and many of the boys, who have been drilling regularly, are becoming disheartened. The probability is that unless the authorities take some action the movement will collapse.
Can the Minister advance any reason for this extraordinary delay, and will he take steps to prevent its recurrence?
– My attention has been directed to the statement in question. As , the matter is one which concerns New South Wales, a wire was sent to the State Commandant, so’ that the House might be informed of the facts of the case. I have not yet received a reply, and cannot reasonably expect one for a day or two. In the meantime I ask honorable members to suspend judgment.
– Seeing that an investigation is being made into the working of the Postal Department, will the PostmasterGeneral consider the advisability of conferring with the Public Service Commissioner with the object of exempting - until the Committee has arrived at some decision - those officers of the temporary staff who have shown aptitude for their work, and who are otherwise reliable?
– I will certainly confer with the Public Service Commissioner with respect to that matter.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs whether he has noted the accounts of the weather conditions at present prevailing in Southern Mpnaro, and the terrible experiences of travellers in that region owing to the heavy snow drifts, and he will organize a motor trip, to Dalgety to facilitate a visit by such Federal members as may care to risk their health or their lives in order that they may see for themselves the weather conditions prevailing there at this time of the year?
– I would gladly organize such a trip if I were allowed to select the members who should make it, and I should certainly include the honorable member. I should be pleased to take him to the spot and leave him where the travellers by motor car, to whom reference has been made, have been snow bound. It is at. Kiandra, which is almost as close to Canberra as it is to Dalgety. The honorable member must have noticed that that is so, and one of the chief attractions of the future Federal Capital is that the snow line is within 60 rniles of it. If I were in order in doing so, I should like to ask the . honorable member and those who are imbued with similar sentiments,’ why the great, zeal which they evidenced some weeks ago in securing a settlement of the Federal Capital Site has disappeared?
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether he is in receipt of any information, other than that, which has appeared in the newspapers, regarding the trouble which has occurred with the natives in Papua? In the Sydney Morning Herald of yesterday some glaring headlines set forth that a battle had taken place there. Is the Prime Minister in a position to give to the House any of the facts in reference to this trouble?
– I am in receipt of information confirming the second portion of the newspaper report which recounts the success of a pacific expedition and the surrender of a number of chiefs under pressure. I have not any official information with reference to the previous encounter’ which is said to have taken place.
– I desire to ask the Postmaster-General whether it is true that in response to an advertisement for tenders for 50,000 telephone insulators, only one tender was received, and that from a firm outside the Commonwealth, and if so whether he is still prepared to consider tenders from Australian firms?
– What the honorable member states is perfectly correct, and Imay say that I am quite prepared to advertise again, and so give any Australian firm an opportunity to tender.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers -
Suez Canal Shipping Charges - Suggested Reduction - Letter, dated 4th April, 1908, from the Prime Minister to the Governor-General forwarding’ for’ transmission to the Secretary of
State for the Colonies communication from Associated Chambers of Commerce.
Defence Acts -
Military Cadet Corps - Regulation26a (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1908, No. 56.
Military Forces -
Regulation 562A (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1908, No. 57.
Financial and Allowance Regulation 98
Amended (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1908, No. 55.
The Clerk laid upon the table
Queensland Commonwealth Officers. - Return to an Order of the House dated 3rd April, 1908.
– laid upon the table the following paper
Papua - Ordinance of 1908 - Immigration Restriction
Motion (by Mr. Deakin) agreed to -
That this Ordinance, “together with all similar Ordinances presented this session, but not previously OTtlered to be printed, be printed.
– Will the Prime Minister take steps to have these Ordinances and Statutes printed oni smaller paper instead of on foolscap size?
– I shall look into the matter, but assume that foolscap is the regulation size in Papua.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether he will expedite the printing and issuing of the Statutes of last year’s session?
– This is the same session.
– Cannot the Statutes be issued for every year instead of for each session?
– No; the Statutes areissued in sessional volumes.
– It would, I think, be a great convenience if the Statutes could be issued for each year.
– The Statutes, up to date, are on the table.
– But they are not in the possession of honorable members, and it would be a great convenience to have them.
– I can assure the right honorable gentleman that . he has received the Statutes so far as they have been issued ; but, as they are printed on smaller paper, they may have passed unnoticed amongst his larger documents. The Statutes are sent out promptly to honorable members, but I shall be happy to replace any that are missing in the right honorable gentleman’s list.
– Last week the honorable member for Batman asked me the following questions -
In reply to the honorable member’s questions, I have to state that -
The Public Service Commissioner, who, under the provisions of the Public Service Act, deals with the classification, and salaries, &c, of officers, has furnished the following information, viz. -
New South Wales, 96; Victoria, 87; Queensland, 36; South Australia, 35; Western Australia, 30; Tasmania, 12.
Telegraph and telephone instrument fitting and repairing, knowledge of . telegraph and telephone circuits, telephone exchange fitting, and mechanical work.
Junior fitters.?39 to ?110; Instrument fitters, grade I., ?114 to ?132; grade II., ?138 to?156, with avenues of promotion to senior instrument fitter, maximum ; ?180, and foreman instrument fitter, maximum?240.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow -
The original arrangements made were for the Ballarat Militia to leave by the 3.30 p.m. train, and for the Cadets to leave by the 7.53 p.m. train. ‘ Afterwards, it became understood that a large proportion of the Militia men intended to stay in Melbourne for a few days, and under these circumstances the order of departure was changed, and the cadets were detailed to travel by the earlier, train, . as they were to go direct home.
Through a misunderstanding on the part of the Staff Officer, the whole of the Ballarat Regiment, including those who had elected to stay in Melbourne, went by the 3.30 p.m. train, thus there was no room for the cadets. The instructions given were that all country troops electing to remain in. Melbourne, were to travel by the 7.53 train, and had this order been carried out, the cadets would have left by the 3.30 as arranged. Had the instructions givento the. Staff Officer been adhered to, the cadets would not have been detained at Langwarrin at all.
/« Committee (Consideration of Senate’s requests resumed from 15th May, vide page 11177):
Item 417. Works of Art, framed or unframed, imported for public institutions or purposes under Departmental By-laws, free.
Request. - Insert after “By-laws” the words “ ; also Stained Glass Windows’ for churches or public institutions, under Departmental Bylaws.”
– In regard to this item there is, I believe, great difference of opinion. There was some discussion when the item was before us on the last occasion ; and personally I’ have, to a limited extent, always favoured the free introduction of stained glass windows.
– This requested amendment is on> the list of those to be accepted.
– That, is so; but there is such a strong difference of opinion, that I hesitate to move to that effect, because I do not think there is the slightest chance of carrying the motion. I have been informed that if this requested amendment be made there will be a desire to admit free other items of a similar character. Further, if we were to accept the amendment, I am told that difficulty will arise as to which stained glass windows should or should not be admitted. The desire of some honorable members is to have free admission when the stained glass window is the original work of art, with some restriction on the admission of replicas ; but I ‘ (am told by the officials that it will be difficult to say what is original and what is not. The Department is not in favour of the proposition, for the reason that it is so difficult to discern an original work of art from a copy. Before I had looked carefully into the matter, I gave an intimation to the effect that I intended to propose that the Senate’s requested amendment be made. But the considerations that I have now explained had not at that dme been brought under my attention. Another matter that escaped my observation was that there is ai duty of 15 per cent, on the raw material from which stained glass windows are made. Under these circumstances, I feel that it would be! idle, and would simply conduce to a long debate, for me to move the acceptance of. the Senate’s request. I therefore move - That the requested amendment be not made.
.- When this item was before the Committee on a previous occasion, the Minister at one stage promised to consider favorably a suggestion that stained glass windows should be made duty free. The words requested to be added by the Senate are the words in respect of which a long debate took place in this Chamber. The words -
Stained glass windows for churches and other public institutions under Departmental by-laws, Free, were suggested to me by the ComptrollerGeneral as the best formula for carrying out the intention. I think that most honorable members were in favour of a lower duty than that originally proposed by the Government. Some suggested 15 per cent. The debate turned on whether - the duty should be 15 per cent, ad valorem, or. whether the item should be free. The item, having been postponed at the Minister’s request for further consideration, came on for discussion again at about half-past five or six o’clock one morning, when most of us were only half-awake. The Minister had. then forgotten his promise and nothing was done. What we are now considering is a request by the Senate similar in form to the amendment which I formerly suggested. The Treasurer has apparently repented of his . promise, and has proposed that the requested amendment be not made. I hope that the Committee will recollect that this is really a tax on works of art, which will be very burdensome on some churches. If we do not make the item free we should, at all events, agree to a lower rate of duty.
– Works of art are free under item 417.
– But we* were given to understand that stained glass windows did not come under that item. The original duty was, I think, 30 per’cent. A duty of 15 per cent, was suggested by the honorable member for South Sydney. It ought to be remembered that the production of stained glass windows involves ‘a consider- ‘ able amount of artistic skill. Some such windows may not be works of high art, but there are some pictures in our national galleries that are not worth very much. Good stained glass windows are very expensive, and highly-trained workmanship is required to produce them. I do at the same time recognise that some of our local producers would be entitled to complain of having to pay a duty of 15 per cent, on their raw material if stained glass were admitted free. I have letters from one or . two men engaged in the industry who, I believe, are very competent artists. I replied at length to the case which they placed before me.
– The least that should be done is to equalize matters.
– I pointed out that what we ought to do was to make both the raw material and the stained glass free. A Melbourne manufacturer is prepared to workunder free conditions- as long as his raw material is not taxed. I do not, however, think that the cost of the raw material constitutes a very large proportion of the total value of the finished output.-. So that a duty of 15 per cent, on the raw material is not likely to be an exceptionally heavyburden. I have, in mind in relation to this item that there is an Anglican Church in Adelaide which is importing a large stained glass window upon which the duty at the old rate would have been£92. That is a very severe exaction in respect of a window that does in some degree minister to the public taste for the aesthetic. I hope that the Committee will accede to the Senate’s request.
– I cannot understand the attitude of the honorable member for Angas as expressed in his concluding sentences. He does the artists in stained glass in Australia the credit of admitting the injustice to . which they will be subjected if the Senate’s request be agreed to in its present form ; and then he calmly expresses the hope that the request will be accepted, so that the artists will be placed in that unjust position.
– I thought that I ought to express their views in fairness to them.
– The honorable member expressed the views of the artists in fairness to them, but concluded with the hope that no attention would be paid to their views. The honorable member should know with his parliamentary experience that we have passed the stage at which any discussion can take place in regard to the duty on the raw material. I do not think that the trade in stained glass windows is likely to constitute a very big industry in Australia, though, to accept the Senate’s suggestion and make the item free, would constitute the gravest possible injustice to those who are working in the industry at present. I do not ask for any extravagant duty, but the very least that’ those who think the articles should be free might do is to put upon the manufactured article a similar duty to that exacted upon, the raw ma- . terial. There is something in the contention of the honorable member for Angas, that there is a difference in value between the completed article and the raw material used in it, but if we make the amendment requested by the Senate, then not merely works of art of original design will come under it, but ‘ stained glass windows that are mere replicas of some design made, perhaps, centuries ago, will also be imported free, and the local designer and art worker in stained glass will be placed at a disadvantage, because he will still have to pay duty on all his raw material. I do not think the Senate fully appreciated the situation when the request was made. If the effect upon the local worker in stained glass had been pointed out to honorable senators, they would not have asked for the item to be made free, although they might have asked for a reduction of the duty. I trust that those who think that the item ought to be free will, at least, make the concession of extending as nearly equal conditions as possible to the local worker.
Mr.Dugald Thomson. - Will the honorable member support 15 per cent. ?
– Yes, I should be willing to support that.
.- The rate of duty on stained glass windows agreed to in this House was that recommended by the Tariff Commission. The Senate thought it wise to alter that, and tried to bring stained glass windows under “ Works of art.” The Treasurer has explained that theyare not all separate Works of art, and I should like to add that in Birmingham, for instance, there are companies that make numbers of copies from the one design, and send them all over the world. Therefore, to make the amendment requested by the Senate would not be to encourage art in the sense that it is the production of one artist, or that each stained! glass window is a separate design. There are companies in Great Britain which pay a man a high fee for designing windows, and manufacture fifty or sixty copies of each design. We are, therefore, asked, not to encourage art, but to assist an artful combine in the. Old Country who work this trade for their own ends. Whilst I am not inclined, as a rule, to vote for high duties to build up a trade, I am opposed to placing a disability upon an established Australian industry, which would be the effect if the amendment were made. Fifteen per cent. is charged upon the raw material, and the finished article would be allowed to come in free. That is a complete reversal of the usual position, and if honorable members vote for it they will be imposing cruel conditions upon our people. In Australia, wages are higher, and hours are shorter, than in the same class of occupation elsewhere. The duties originally passed by this House were 30 and 25 per cent. This article is not a necessary of life, but the Committee, time after time, have agreed to duties of 40 or 50 per cent. upon ordinary necessaries, and surely the duty which the Minister is asking for upon what is practically a luxury, is not too high. I am glad that the Minister is opposed to the request. Some of these windows may be distinct works of art, but a great many are not. A way out of the difficulty is this - if the Senate are really anxious not to penalize art, I should be prepared to make the item free if each window were accompanied by a certificate that it was a special work by one particular artist.
– Letus bump it out.
– I quite agree with the honorable member, but if the Committee are squeamish, and so attracted to art that they want art designs to come in free, let us impose the condition! I have mentioned. If that were done, I am sure that the importing trade in ‘ stained-glass windows would fall through, and those engaged in the industry in Australia would receive some protection.
.- Most honorable members would like to grant a concession to the churches if it could be done with justice to established industrial interests, but I believe one of the conspicuous anomalies of the old Tariff was the fact that stained glass windows were admitted free, whilst the plate and cathedral glasses forming the raw materials were dutiable at 15 per cent. Two manufacturers - one in Adelaide . and another in Melbourne - came before the Tariff Commission and complained most bitterly of the operation of that anomaly. They pointed out also that the industry of painting on glass and’ burning in the tints was by no means small, but was rather a growing one. 1 believe that in Adelaide there are no less than four firms, in Melbourne four firms, and in Sydney two firms, producing stained glass windows for churches and various public buildings. In addition to the ordinary mechanical operation of producing the glass windows, there is the preliminary or associated industry of art designing, and unless encouragement is given to that industry, those art designers, who are instructed in public schools and institutions, will have little scope for the development of their talent. It is, therefore, most desirable, from an artistic as well as from the ordinary mechanical point of view, that there should be at least equality of competition between the imported and the locally produced article. I believe that if the anomaly in the old Tariff is perpetuated in the new, it will give serious grounds for complaint amongst those who are endeavouring to build up a new and important industry in Australia. Not only is there a duty upon the raw material, but when the raw sheet and cathedral glass is imported and manipulated, there is a serious wastage. Very often 50 per cent. of a sheet of. glass is actually wasted in the operation, and upon thatwaste material duty has been paid. The complete manufactured article, if brought in free, escapes not only the duty, but also the liability to wastage and breakage which the local manufacturer has to suffer. There is, therefore, a most serious anomaly which I hope will not be perpetuated. I am informed that under the Tariff as introduced by the Treasurer a duty of 30 per cent. was collected upon this stained glass under item 249 - glass bent, bevelled, and heraldic. I should be prepared to vote for. a lower duty than 30 per cent., which is somewhat high if riot extravagant. I favour some moderate intermediate rate.
– What is the duty upon the raw material?
– Fifteen per cent. If’ the Treasurer could see his way clear to propose a moderate duty, I should be prepared to vote for it. Thirty per cent. on the bent and heraldic glassis really a revenue duty. If the Treasurer would propose a duty of say, 25 or 20 per cent., that would meet the case.
– Say, 15 per cent.
– The duty should certainly not be lower than 15 per cent-. The local manufacturers say that if the raw material were duty free they could compete on equal terms with the imported article. Unfortunately, we cannot now raise the question of the duty on the raw material, because that has been finally dealt with. I think that these stained glass windows might fairly be subjected to a moderate duty. I hope that justice will be done to. the local manufacturers in that way ; otherwise I believe .they will have serious ground for grievance and complaint against Parliament.
. -I agree with the honorable and learned member for Bendigo that we should reject the . amendment requested by the Senate. We are doing too little at the present time in Australia for the encouragement of the higher forms of art. This is certainly a case in which we might do something in that direction. The productions of the local industry referred to are certainly equal to most of the imported specimens. We have men in Australia who are capable of turning out artistic designs for this kind ot work, of as high a class as any that can be’ obtained from the Old Country. I do not think that a duty of 15 per cent., or even of 20 per cent., would be a sufficient duty to impose.’ It is suggested that, in view of the duty on the raw material, a duty of 15 per cent, would equalize matters ; but, in view of the waste referred to . by the honorable and learned member . for Bendigo, I think that such a duty would not afford adequate protection to the industry.
– The cost of the glass bears but a very small proportion to the cost of the finished article.
– That is so, but there is a great deal of waste in the industry. I should like to know why we should make any exception in the case of stained glass windows, when we charge duty on other fittings and ornaments of churches. We impose duties on organs, pianos, and harmoniums used in churches, and .it would be just as reasonable to contend that they should be admitted free of duty as to contend that stained-glass windows should not be dutiable.
– Pianos are not played in churches.
– Pianos are played in some churches, and harmoniums and organs are played in others. Honorable members will probably admit that many of the organs erected in churches are works of art, and why .should they not, as well as’ stained-glass windows, ‘ be admitted free? The beautiful ornamentations of some of our church pulpits will be admitted to be works of art. I have seen magnificent specimens of the carver’s art used to ornament church pulpits, and they should be admitted free if it is contended that everything used in a church or a public institution should be free of duty. To do that would involve a remodelling of the Tariff. No persons connected with any. church in Australia need fear that they will not be able to secure locally, at a reasonable price, stained-glass windows, which, as works of art, will be equal to anything they could desire. For these reasons, I oppose the requested amendment, and I think that no lower duty should be imposed, than that to which the Committee has already agreed.
– - Very’ little has been said on the point that the Senate’s request refers only to stained-glass windows imported for churches or public institutions. Honorable members are aware that these represent special gifts for memorial purposes or the charity or benevolence of persons interested in these institutions. To impose a duty of 15 or 30’ per cent, on such importations would only mean that those introduced in future would be of less value than they would be if no such duty were imposed. Something, has been said about the waste in the manufacture of stainedglass windows in Australia, but it must be remembered that that is a disadvantage which is common to the industry carried on in England and in other places. It should’ be remembered also that if a duty of ‘ 15 per cent, were- imposed on the finished article, the real duty would be higher than has been suggested; because the imported window would, carry a duty on- raw material, and on the artistic work comprised in it as well. It is too late now to talk of introducing the raw material duty free, and, as we are expected to adjust anomalies in the Tariff, it seems to me that it is necessary that we should impose on the -finished article a duty equal at least to that imposed on the raw material. There is the other consideration to which I have referred, that the Senate’s request deals only with stained glass windows required for churches and public institutions ; and the people who worship in the churches and those who admire works of art and like to see them exhibited in our public institutions cannot be said to- derive any benefit individually from their importation. I. direct attention to the beautiful window to be seen in the Council Chamber of the Melbourne Town Hall. I consider that it represents a magnificent work of art. It was brought from abroad, and completed in Australia by additions which give it a local character. I question whether it would be possible for local manufacturers to produce so fine a work. This window was a gift to the City Council of Melbourne, and nearly all the works of art we possess have been gifts. The stained glass windows found in our churches are, in most instances, copies of original works of art. The picture known as “ The Light of the World,” the exhibition of which caused so much sensation in Australia some little time ago, although a great picture, was really a replica. No one will say that it was not a great work of art, because the artist himself admitted that, in his opinion, it is finer than the original picture. I have seen the same picture many times in stained glass windows, which represented really imitations of the original picture. We shall not go far wrong if we adopt the Senate’s request to make these works of art duty free if imported for churches and. public institutions, but if we wish to adjust anomalies in the Tariff, a small duty should be imposed, in view of the duty on the raw material.
– I hope that the Committee will not agree to the suggestion of the Senate. These stained glass windows are being manufactured here at the present time. Strange to say, it is in the large cathedrals only that the productions of the local industry are not used. The stained glass windows in St. Paul’s and St. Patrick’s Cathedrals, Melbourne, were imported, but those’ interested in churches in the country towns have had the stained glass windows they require made . locally. I have here a photograph of a stained glass window erected last December in St.
Mary’s Church, Kyneton. It is a splendid piece of work, and was supplied at a cost of £200. If those interested in country churches find themselves able to assist a local industry in this way, why should not those interested in our large cathedrals do the same?
– The same amount of money would have purchased a better article from abroad.
– I venture to say that, for the size of it, there is no better bit of work in the Commonwealth, imported or otherwise, than the window to which I have referred. We have an artist in this kind of work who was working for 30s. a week in the Old Country, and who has been able to get£3 5s. per week here.
– Does the honorable member say that he was getting 30s. a week in the Old Country?
– I say that this artist, who did some of the . work of which I have been speaking, did the same class of work in London for 30s. a week. That is the swom evidence he gave before the Tariff Commission. When he came to Australia, he secured a position at £3 5s. a week. Surely the honorable member for North Sydney will not assert that we cannot make stainedglass windows here.
– The honorable member for North Sydney suggests that the honorable member is misrepresenting the state of things here.
– The honorable member for Parramatta always wants documentary evidence. I have it for him in this case. This is the evidence given before the Tariff Commission by Mr. William Montgomery -
I went to St. Kinton Bros., of the same city, for£1 10s. a week of fifty hours.
That is sworn evidence.
– He may have been a learner or an improver.
– No; he was a journeyman.
– Does the honorable member suggest that because the man came from the Old Country he became an artist ?
– Did the honorable member, because he came from the Old Country, become a doctor ? The Committee will do well to grant some protection to this industry. Windows are being made in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, and other parts of the Commonwealth, and why should not the stained-glass workers receive the same protection as the makers of boots and hats? I trust that the Committee will disagree with the request.
– It is very wonderful to hear the human encyclopaedia who represents Batman rolling out knowledge from all parts of the world for the enlightenment of the Committee. In my judgment, what he does not know about . these things is a very great deal. He seems to get hold of a report, and on the statement of one man - which he takes to be gospel truth - regarding the state of the industry as a whole in the Old Country, he paints a word picture. If the man whom he quoted was a good artist - and I have no reason to doubt that he was - he was wasting his time to be in London at all. In the heart of the potteries, where
I was brought up, an expert artist could earn ^5 a week to-morrow in painting tea cups, ‘saucers, vases, and similar articles. The honorable member quoted the statement in order to try to make the Committee believe that all that an artist in the Old Country can earn is 30s. a week, lt is preposterous to hear that kind of ex parte statement made as though it represented the state of the industry as a whole. Twenty-five years ago a painter of tea cups and saucers could earn up to £1 daily in the potteries at Home. Therefore, it is moonshine for the honorable member to quote this stuff for the delectation of the Committee. He gets hold of a shocking case somewhere, and tries to hoodwink honorable members into the belief that it represents the condition afl affairs ‘.throughout the ‘Ol’d Country. He ought to know better, indeed he would know better if he were not busily engaged in piling up the duties on everything which comes into the country.
– Why does he not give us proof that these windows can be manufactured here?
– I have no doubt that in Australia there are men who can make these windows. I was surprised a few moments ago to hear the honorable member for Hindmarsh bewailing the fact that no encouragement is given to our artists. He went on to’ say that we could produce artistic work equal to anything produced in the world if only sufficient Tariff encouragement were given. That is in direct conflict with the doctrine which he has constantly preached. I have always heard from him, and those who believe in the same economic theory as he does, that an artist painted because he could not help doing so, that no matter how we might equalize wages or conditions, that had nothing to do with the fancy of the artist, who simply worked, irrespective of local environment, and hard economic conditions. But when we are discussing the Tariff, the honorable member, heaves overboard! all such statement’s, and says that we get so much artistic work for so much Tariff encouragement, and wages from week to week. There seems to be no more anomaly in the freeing of works of art,- such as church windows, from duty, than there is in the freeing of works of art which have their destination in other directions. If a person imports a work of art, say a beautiful vase,- to be placed in a church, no duty will be charged. He may present to a church any work of art, except a church window, without a duty being charged. What an anomalous condition, of things that is ! Why should we stop at a church window ?
– Oil paintings are not dutiable.
– Exactly. I believe that in. Victoria there is an industrious gentleman who makes these windows, and, I am given to understand, that he turns out very good work. I hope that he will prosper, as he deserves to do, and that his artistic fancy may be indulged in this direction for many a year to come, for the benefit of Australia, and the beautifying of its churches. Perhaps he has some claim upon us, owing to the fact that his raw materials are taxed. To what extent the cost of the raw materials affects’ the price of a window, I ‘am at a loss to understand. Take, for instance, a work of art such as an oil painting. I venture to say that’ the cost of the oils on which duty has to be paid is scarcely worth mentioning in comparison with the value of the finished painting. So again with the glass, or the canvas upon which an artist paint’s. The cost of the glass in a work of art is small in proportion to the total cost. The fact remains, that we tax all the articles with which the artist works, and that would seem to make’ out a claim for a duty on the finished article. When the honorable member for Bendigo talks of 25 per cent, as a fair duty to compensate the artist-
– I said from 20 to 25 per cent.
– He said, “ Not lower than 15 per cent.” I think that he will accept that rate.
– I was going to propose a duty of 15 per cent.
– in view of the fact that we have set ourselves to tax all the raw materials fort church windows, I should not be disposed to object to a proposal to levy a duty of 15 per cent. I suggest earnestly to the Minister that he might see his way to agree to a compromise of that kind instead of standing out for the full duties of 30 and 25 per cent. I should like to know whether he intends to press for the higher rates.
– I think so.
– I shall be compelled to vote against the proposition of the Minister, but I urge him once more to accept a duty of 15 per cent, which, I believe, he could get without experiencing any trouble from any part of the Chamber.
– For many reasons I should very much like to support the request of the Senate. I think that the beautifying of churches with these works of art should be commended.’ Very often the cost of the work amounts to such a very considerable sum, that the duty acts as a deterrent in the direction of beautifying church structures in that way. But I recognise that with respect to this particular provision there is a difficulty. Whilst it is true that the art cost is much greater than the cost of the material, we cannot close our eyes to the fact that we have placed a duty on glass, and other materials required by our artists for the. production of stained glass windows. Therefore we cannot make stained glass windows free without doing so at the expense of our own citizens, which I am not prepared to do. They should have, at least, the same facilities as the foreigner. I trust that the Committee will agree to a middle course, making the duty on stained glass windows equal to that on glass, namely, 15 per cent. If that modification is moved, I shall support it, though I intend to vote against the Minister’s motion that the requested amendment be not made.
.- I shall vote against any duty on stained glass. The Treasurer is thought to be a mart who will stand by his opinions. When he submitted his schedules of amendment, he said that he was prepared to make that requested by the Senate in this item.
– He has explained that there is a duty of 15 per cent. on the raw material.
– I am satisfied that he has been talked over. We know him to be a man amenable to suggestions from lobbyists, and it is evident that those who are trying to make the stained glass windows in Australia have had his ear. We should above all things encourage the taste for works of art. The beautifying of churches is part and parcel of the religious life of the people, and an aesthetic taste which should be encouraged. In the Old Country, where artistic works have been accumulating during the centuries, persons will, at considerable expense, make long pilgrimages to view objects of art, in one place of another. We shall be making, a mistake if we encourage a very small local industry by putting a tax on stained glass windows. I am sorry that the honorable member for Batman has a soul so small that he puts the manufacture of stained glass windows on the same level as the manufacture of boots. We should foster the artistic sense of the community. This is done by the exhibition of pictures and works of art, and still further encouragement is needed. Stained’ glass windows are placed in churches for the satisfying of an artistic taste, but the mere manufacture of replicas of no particular interest is not to be encouraged. I shall not, if I can avoid doing so, vote for a duty of 15per cent., because, in my opinion, the Senate must have had a good reason for its request, which should be complied with.
Storied windows richly dight
Casting a dim religious light, and is not to be brought back to his early opinion that stained glass windows should be admitted duty free. But the original battle was on the question whether they should be free or dutiable at 15 per cent., inasmuch as the raw material bears that duty. If the requested amendment making these windows free is not made, we shall not be able to propose a modification, and therefore I think that it would be better to agree to a duty of 15 per cent. I should much piefer the Minister to propose such a modification, but as he does not seem inclined to do so, I move -
That the item be modified by inserting (a) after “ 417 “ ; by leaving out ““also,” and inserting in lieu thereof “B”; and by making the sub-paragraph thus created dutiable at 15 per cent.
That will put the local manufacturer in one of the positions in which he is prepared to fight the importer. I have received from Mr. Montgomery, who is a very capable representative of the local manufacturers, a long letter, in which he puts his case very intelligently, and makes three suggestions. One is that the duty on stained glass windows be allowed to remain, as passed by the House of Representatives, namely, 30 per cent. That, I think, is too high. His second alternative is that there be placed on imported stained-glass windows a duty equal to that levied on the raw material, namely, 15 per cent. I suggest that we should adopt that suggestion. His third alternative is that no stained-glass window be a’dmitted free unless accompanied by a certificate or declaration that it is the original design of one artist - giving his name - and that it is not a copy or a replica of any other window executed by the exporting firm. These are alternative, not cumulative suggestions, and I think that we shall be dealing very fairly with the firms which Mr. Montgomery represents if we adopt the second.
.- The Treasurer might very well accept as a compromise the modification proposed by the honorable member for Angas. An illustration of the difficulty surrounding .this matter is afforded by the experience of a gentleman who recently presented to an Anglican church in my electorate a stained-glass window in memory of his late father. The window was designed and executed by a leading artist in the Old Country who did some of the work in St. Paul’s Cathedral. When the order for this window was placed the old Tariff under which it would not have been dutiable was in operation, but when it reached Australia it was found that it was dutiable at a high rate under the Tariff now before us. There are many similar cases. I think we should be justified in differentiating slightly between original works of art intended for use in public buildings - where they may be seen and studied, and must therefore have an educational effect - and ordinary windows. I recognise that we are in somewhat of a difficulty, lt is unfair to tax the raw material of the local manufacturers whilst the finished article is free. That being so, I think that this compromise might be accepted. The Department of Trade and Customs refused to class as a work of art the window to which I have referred, although there are many works of art that are not so difficult to produce as a stained-glass window portraying a certain individual. The proposed- modification will not handicap our local producers, nor fall too heavily on those who make gifts of stained-glass windows to churches and public institutions, and who perhaps should be encouraged. .
– I regret that the Treasurer, has abandoned his original intention to accept the’ request made by the Senate. I was under the impression that his desire was’ to dispose to-day. of the remaining requests’, yet at the inception of our proceedings he has taken up an attitude which must tend to delay that work. The honorable gentleman would do well to accept’ the proposed compromise: As a matter of fact I do not favour compromises, and if - I strictly followed my own principles I should vote for stained-glass windows and other works of .art, ‘whether ‘for public institutions or private individuals, being .admitted free. Why should private individuals, who desire to beautify their homes by the use of stained-glass windows, be prevented from obtaining free’ of duty the best that artists can produce? We should encourage amongst the great masses of the community an appreciation of art in all its forms, but, unfortunately, I am in such a small minority in this regard that I am sure it would be. useless for me to attempt to have such advantages placed within the reach of the masses of the people. The majority of honorable members are rather inclined to place obstacles in the way of their enjoying, at the lowest possible cost, the benefits of all that the artistic world can furnish them. This form of art is being largely employed in domestic architecture. In an increasingly large number of suburban villas of modern design .an effort is being made to get away from the old practice of using plain windows, and to adopt .various designs in stained-glass art windows. The duty now levied will make this a luxury that may be indulged in by only people of “means. It is too late, however, to deal with that aspect of the matter, since there are limitations imposed on the wording of the item, but I should like to know, Mr. Chairman, what is the position in regard to freeing these windows for churches and public institutions? I wish to vote for their free admission, but, failing the adoption of such a proposal, I should like to vote for the modification proposed by the honorable member for Angas.
– If the modification is agreed to, -then the whole item, as modified, will be put, and it will be open to the honorable member to vote for or against it.
.- I draw the attention of the Treasurer to the evidence given in Adelaide by a manufacturer,’ Mr. Clarkson, who said that it would’ be more in the interests of the general class of window-makers if the duty on material and glass were omitted ; but that, having regard to stained-glass windows alone, a 20 per cent, duty on the finished article was preferable. That should be a sufficient justification for imposing a duty of 20 per’ cent, or 25 per cent., such as I suggest. I shall, therefore, vote against the proposed modification, and if the Treasurer will propose, as a further modification, the imposi- tion of a duty of 20 per cent., he will open up a fair way of meeting the difficulty.
– I should like to move a modification providing for the imposition of a duty of 20 per cent.
– It is open to the honorable member to move that the’ proposed modification be amended by leaving out the figures “ 15 “ and inserting in lieu thereof the figures “20.”
– I shall do that.
– Is the Treasurer prepared to agree to a duty of 20 per cent, under the general Tariff and 15 per cent, in the case of imports from the United Kingdom?
– No. I move-
That the proposed modification be amended by leaving out the figures “ 15,” with a view to insert in lieu thereof the figures “ 20.”
Question - That the figures “ 15 “ proposed to be left out stand part of the modification - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 9
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment of modification agreed to; figures “ 20 “ inserted.
Motion (by Mr. Joseph Cook) put -
That the modification be further amended by making the duty (United Kingdom), ad val. 15 per cent.
The Committee divided.
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment of modification negatived.
Original motion agreed to.
Requested amendment not made, but modification, as amended, made.
Requested amendments in item. 423 (Asbestos, &c.) made.
Item 427. Surgical Appliances, n.e.i., including Belts, Trusses, Pads, Corsets, Braces, Breast Supports, Vaccination Shields, ad val. (General Tariff), 25 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), 25 per cent. ; and on and after 12th December, 1907, 20 per cent.
Request. - Make the item free.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the requested amendment be not made.
.-The Treasurer might at least have given the Committee hisreason for refusing to agree to the request of the Senate. I maintain that we ought not to make the sufferings of the sick the subject of taxation. From a humanitarian . stand-point alone, we ought to extend to them some consideration. Consequently, the appliances enumerated in this item should be admitted free.
– They are all made in the Commonwealth.
– At what price?
– At a fair price.
– At an advance upon the price of the imported article. That, I contend, is tantamount to a tax upon affliction. I am not so lacking in humanitarian feeling that I am prepared to go to the beds of the sick and maimed to obtain revenue. The duties levied in respect of this item will be especially felt by the poorer classes of the community, who can least afford to pay the higher prices that will be demanded for these very necessary appliances to aid them in their time of suffering and trouble. it certainly redounds to the credit of the Senate that the item should have been regarded from a humanitarian stand-point, and this amendment suggested.
.- This item is, I think, altogether different from a previous one in regard to which I opposed the proposal of the Treasurer. These surgical appliances can be, and are, made quite easily in any part of Australia, and, further, there is an advantage in having them manufactured in such a place that patients can be measured for them. Under the circumstances, I think we might accept the proposal of the Treasurer.
Question - That the requested amendment making item 427 (Surgical Appliances) free, be not made; - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Requested amendment not made. .
Requested amendment in item 433 (Fire Brigade Appliances), and item 438 (Passengers’ Personal Effects) made.
Item 442. Surgical and Dental and Veterinary Instruments and Appliances (not being Furniture), viz. : - Amputating ; . . . . . Operating Tables ; Dressing and Instrument Trays ; Accident Emergency Cases; Hot Air Apparatus for legs and arms ; X-ray Apparatus, except Motors ; Snakebite Outfits, ad val. (General Tariff), 10 per cent. ; and on and after 12th December, 1907, free; (United Kingdom), free.
Request. - Insert after the word “ Tables “ the words “ Dental Chairs “ ; leave out the words “except Motors”; and insert after the words V X-ray Apparatus “ the words “ viz. : - X-ray tubes, tube shields, fluorescent screens, tubeholders, apparatus for localization and stereoscopic radiography.”
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the requested amendment be made, except as to “Dental Chairs.”
– - There may be a trade distinction between operating tables and dental chairs, but I venture to say that there is scarcely an honorable member who does not realize, from bitter experience, that dental chairs are operating tables ; and up to the present the Treasurer has given us no good reason for leaving such chairs out of the free list. So far as I understand the matter, dental chairs are not made in Australia; and, if that be so, why should they be taxed? In any case, I should like to know under what item dental chairs will come, if they be omitted from this item.
– The free admission of dental chairs was urged on the Department by the representatives of the Melbourne Dental Hospital, but, on its being ascertained that such chairs are manufactured locally, the request was refused. The representatives of the hospital subsequently interviewed honorable senators; and hence the requested amendment.
– Are not operating tables made in Australia?
– I am not told that operating tables are made here, but I am told that dental chairs are locally manufactured, and for that reason I submit the motion.
.- It must be evident to the Treasurer that if a deputation waited on ‘ the Department, as he has described, from the Committee of the Melbourne Dental Hospital, there is some good ground for a request that dental chairs shall be admitted duty free. There is absolutely no difference between the dental chair of to-day and a surgical table. Surgical tables are made here, because any one can make a wooden table.
– If surgical tables are made here, their manufacture ought to be protected.
– What I submit is that dental chairs come within the same category a operating tables,because they are made of metal in such a way that special machinery is required in their manufacture. The dental profession is beginning to take a higher place than formerly, dentists heing qualified in exactly the same way as are medical men; and there is no doubt that before -long there will be numerous dental hospitals throughout Australia for the purpose of treating the poorer classes. I remind honorable members on the Government cross benches that’ it is the poorer people whom it is proposed to tax by omitting dental chairs from the free list. These chairs are used very much for philanthropic purposes, and it would be a hardship on hospitals and other institutions if a heavy duty be imposed.
– Dentistry is one of the best paying lines of business.
– A dentist, or any other man, who ministers to suffering humanity, and gives relief as the result of his skill, cannot be too well paid.
– He gives a lot of pain, too.
– Nothing that is valuable can be obtained without some amount of suffering to somebody. The passage of this Tariff has not been accomplished without suffering. It has occasioned a considerable amount of pain to members of the Opposition to notice the manner in which the people have been loaded with extra duties. As I have told the Treasurer on former occasions, his name will be handed down with execration to future generations ; but he would avoid some of that obloquy if he agreed to accept the suggesr , tion of the Senate in regard to dental chairs. .
Question - That the requested amendment of item 442 (Surgical Appliances, &c.) be made, with a modification leaving out “ Dental Chairs “ - put. The Com mittee divided.
Ayes … … … 27
Noes … … … 23
Majority … … 4
Question so resolved in the affirmative. Requested amendment, . as modified, made.
Requested amendments in item 446 (Goods brought back to Australia after exportation), item 448 (Scientific Instruments), and item 450 (Outside Packages n.e.i.) made.
Request. - Insert following new Schedule : -
SCHEDULE “B.” - REBATE FOR HOME CONSUMPTION’.
No. of Item in Schedule A - 123. Tariff Item - Piece-goods of any material, when used in the manufacture of Rubber Waterproof Cloth. Rebate - Up to and including nth December, 1907, threef ourths of the duty paid.
No. of Item in Schedule A - 162 and 165. Tariff Item - Machinery and parts thereof, used in the manufacture of Fibrous Materials and Felt, and Felt Hats, when installed for use in a Woollen Mill or a Hat Factory for the manufacture of such Materials, Felt, and Hats. Rebate - Up to and including 28th November, 1907, the full duty paid.
– I . move -
That the requested amendment be made.
This schedule is a very important one. I do not wish honorable members to vote without knowing exactly what it means and what the effect will be. Some honorable members are anxious to obtain a rebate on certain classes of machinery, not only up to the time named in the suggested new schedule, but for a longer period. The honorable member for Maranoa desires’ to obtain a rebate on machinery for the manufacture of fibrous material and for wool scouring. This is the time when that matter can be discussed. It has also been represented to me that machinery which is being imported for the making of wool tops should be admitted duty free. ‘ I must confess that I should like to see it exempted from duty. The intention of this schedule is to validate certain things that have been done by the Customs.
– Have rebates been granted on some machinery ?
– I presume so, because the intention certainly is to indemnify the Customs for what has been done. It has been strongly represented to me on several occasions that certain ma chinery for wool scouring and for the making of wool tpps, which cannot be made in Australia, should be admitted free.
– Parliament has already offered a bounty for the making of wool tops.
– Yes; and the Senate has now raised the question as to granting a rebate on certain imported machinery.
– The making of wool tops is an industry that is not now in existence.
– I beg the honorable member’s pardon. The industry is in existence. I had some manufactured wool tops shown to me to-day. .
– Has this money, been paid ?
– Yes. I have not yet moved for the acceptance of the Senate’s request, because I wished that honorable members should first have an opportunity of knowing exactly what it meant, and to ascertain if there is any desire to extend to any particular classes of machinery the privilege as to rebate which has been granted to others up to a certain period. I wished honorable members to understand that the rebate ceased on the date named.
– How long would the exemption extend if this amendment were not made? .
– I believe it would have extended generally.
– Then this is a limitation of the operation of the exemption ?
– That is how I take it. I shall ascertain positively in a moment.
– I think the Minister’s last statement is not quite correct. I take it that the rebate ceased to be payable the moment we inserted these classes of machinery under the general machinery items in the schedule. After that date the individuals importing these particular classes of machinery had no right whatever to the rebate, and had to pay the duty equally with the rest of the machinery users in Australia. I do not think it makes the slightest difference whether the requested amendment is made or not, except as to the legality of something done some time ago.
– When the Committee were considering the Tariff originally this rebate schedule was left out) and the Bill was sent to the Senate without it. Up till that period rebates had .been paid. The object of this requested amendment is to validate those rebates.
– Why is that necessary ?
– The Department considers it necessary.
– Why does not the Department put in wool-scouring machinery also?
– Wool-scouring machinery did not appear in the original re- . bate schedule. I take it that it is quite competent for the Committee to alter the schedule, if they wish to exempt any class of machinery that cannot be, and is not being, manufactured in Australia at present.
– Is the Department collecting duty now upon the- particular classes of machinery mentioned in the amendment?
– Yes. Representations have been made to me regarding wool-scouring machinery, and machinery for the making of wool tops, but the duty is being charged in all these cases, and will continue to be charged unless the Committee makes some alteration’ in ‘ regard to the schedule. I gave the honorable member for Maranoa a pledge, on a previous occasion, that I would attempt to give a drawback on certain machinery, but when the matter was debated in this Chamber, the honorable member generously released me from that promise. I did not want this amendment to be made- without the Committee knowing exactly what was being done, or without giving an opportunity, if there is still a desire to admit these classes of machinery free, for the Committee to take action accordingly.
– Can it be done legally? There is no request -from the Senate to that; effect.
– The Committee could do it.
– It looks like a dodge.
– Because the honorable member does not agree with it he says it is a dodge. Does he think that everybody is a dodger like himself?
– I believe it is possible to make the alteration’ at this stage. I am not going to dodge the Committee in any way about it, but I did not want the matter to go through without a full explanation, especially when I had previously made a promise.
– - I do not know why this matter requires such an elaborate explanation. I look upon it with doubt. For a long time after the Tariff was- tabled, honorable members did not seem to recognise that on page 49 there was a schedule headed “ Rebate for Home Consumption,” but one night the leader of the Opposition drew attention to it, and the public were awakened t’o a knowledge of things that did not appear to be quite straight. It was proposed to give the Denton Hat Mills, the woollen mills, and some other mills, a huge protection, and, in addition, to give them their machinery free. When I suggested from my place here, as representing a large mining constituency, that the mining and other industries were reasonably en- titled to the same concession, the Committee ignored the claim. Now we have an explanation from the Treasurer, which is as confusing as all his other explanations have been, and when I interjected across the chamber that it looked like some dodge, I meant it. I mean it now. I do not believe that the explanation is a correct one. If it is true that the object of the amendment is simply to legalize something done by this Committee previously, then the Treasurer’s long-winded explanation is not necessary. It appears to have been made on the old principle, that language was given to man to conceal his thoughts. Apparently, language was given to the Treasurer to do something in that direction to-day.
.- If ‘there is a gentleman in the chamber who is the personification of dodging, it’ is the honorable member for Indi. There has been no dodging so far as I am concerned.
– I rise to a point of order. Abuse is. not argument.
– Is it right to call .other people .dodgers?
– A guilty conscience needs no accuser.
– Directly I give back the honorable member’s own words, he jumps up to a point of order, and talks about guilty consciences. If what I have done is dodging, I am quite willing to be called a dodger. I want the pastoral industry to get the same measure of rebate as the Victorian woollen mills get. I do not know that there is any dodging in that.
– It was all knocked out bv a vote of this Committee.
– The Senate asks us to put it back again.. If the honorable member would read what is proposed, he would see that there was no dodgery in it. By why limit the rebate to the special industries enumerated? If a rebate is to be given on machinery introduced for those industries up to the 28th November last I. . as the representative of a pastoral constituency, claim that the same measure of rebate should be given on machinery introduced for wool-scouring purposes.
–And all other machinery.
– And all othermachinery also. The ‘honorable member for Indi is grasping at a shadow.
– We are both on the same side. I did not refer to the honorable member. I said I looked upon it as a dodge of the Treasurer.
– I do not think it is. The Treasurer tried to make the matter clear, but the more he tried the more befuddled he became. I knew what he was after, because he told me what he would do, and that is why I was trying to assist him. I will give him credit for wanting to give the same measure of rebate on machinery introduced for wool-scouring purposes. I can see no dodgery in that.
– I spoke after listening to the Treasurer’s explanation. I did not refer to the honorable member. Does . the honorable member apologize ?
– I shall apologize if the honorable member feels aggrieved. I do not think any one can accuse me of dodgery, as I am pretty open in everything I do. I hope the Committee will give the pastoral industry the same rebate on its machinery as has been given to the Melbourne woollen and hat mills.
– There is a very simple explanation of this matter which has not been furnished by the Minister, and which it is a great pity that he did not give. On referring to the debates in another Chamber to ascertain what really took place, I find that the Department paid some of these rebates, to which the persons claiming were clearly entitled, anterior to the date when this Committeestruck out the schedule. But whilst those particular manufacturers had been alert, others, who apparently were equally entitled to the rebate, did not apply for it during the term that the schedule was operative.
– They had not the machinery, and had not paid the duty then.
– I do not gather that from what was stated elsewhere. The explanation certainly is that those persons did not apply for their rebates. Does the Treasurer now say that the object of the Senate’s proposal is to allow rebate to be paid on. machinery which was in transit and had not arrived at the time? We have no right to grant a rebate upon anything which had not been imported and installed before the date on which the schedule was struck out. The Minister now says that some people did not take possession of this machinery, and therefore, were not entitled to the rebate. If they had not taken possession of their machinery before the date specified, they were clearly not entitled to rebate, so that what the Treasurer is proposing to do is to legalize an illegality. If we are to do that kind of thing, we should, as the honorable members for Indi and Maranoa have pointed out, serve all alike. Why should we single out these two kinds of machinery for this specially favorable treatment? That is neither fair nor just. I suppose that we shall shortly hear some more from the Minister when he has had it pumped into him frombehind the Speaker’s chair ; but, in the meantime, the position appears to be as I have stated it! There can be no . objection to the proposal in. so far as it refers to rebates earned during the specified period. But if that is the scope and intent of the proposal, what is it needed for at all ? The persons concerned were . entitled to rebate up to the time when we altered the law. It appears to me that this proposal is possibly intended to provide for rebate on machinery in transit at the time.
– It is to refund money paid by the importers.
– No; the intention is to legalize refunds made by the Customs authorities.
- Senator Best says that it is not. He says that in some cases manufacturers received their rebates, but in other cases they neither claimed nor. received them, and the object of the amendment requested by theSenate is to see that all are treated alike, and to place . those who did not apply for rebates on the same footing as those who did, and received them. Does the Minister say that there are persons who were entitled to the rebate who did not apply for it during the specified period?. I should like to have an answer to that question. This proposal is not necessary for any refunds made prior to the date of the alteration, and can only relate to refunds intended to be made since that date.
– I think it is necessary to validate what was done.
– But nothing was done in connexion with this machinery that was not done in every other case. The moment a duty has been’ taken off certain goods, they have been allowed to come in free, and the moment a duty had been imposed upon them it has been collected. . Where does this differ from any ordinary transactions of that kind ?
– It does not differ.
– Then what do we need to validate?
– The refunds already made.
– No; the idea, as I take it, is to validate some applications which were made for rebates since the date referred to. I should like to hear the Min. ister further explain the matter.
– One honorable member has said that I wish to trick the Committee. I do not know, whether it is worth while taking any notice of him. I hope that he has practised as few tricks as I have. I can tell him that . I know a few of the tricks he has practised. I am informed that certain applications were made for rebates, and rebates were allowed.
-In some cases only.
– Where applications were made and the machinery had been installed, they were allowed ; but where the machinery was not installed at the date referred to, the rebates were not allowed.
– Although the machinery had been landed?
– Yes; although it had been landed the machinery was not installed, and on that account the rebates were not paid.
– Will the Minister say whether that machinery was imported subsequent to the alteration of the provision in this House?
– No; I am informed that in some cases the machinery was imported before the date referred to, but it was not installed.
– Had it passed the Customs House?
– Yes; in some cases, I believe, it was lying on the wharf.
– I know I had to pay up. .
– I believe that is so, but not with any desire of mine. It appears to me that those who had their machinery here, but had not installed . it, should, in this matter, be treated in the same way as those who had actually installed the machinery they had imported.
– Why limit the proposal to the machinery required for these particular industries? Why not treat all other machinery in the same way? What about mining and agricultural machinery imported under similar conditions ?
– That machinerywas not subject to rebate. The machinery with which we are now dealing was subject to rebate under the Tariff as originally introduced. The amendment requested by the Senate is intended to provide for the payment of rebate in the case of machinery that was imported, but not installed, up to the date referred to, and I think that it is only fair, that rebate should be allowed on such machinery.
– Has application been made for the payment of rebate on such machinery ?
– Yes ; such applications have been made. I am, of course, speaking only from information I have received.
– The Minister is seeking to validate something which has been done?
– No; it has not been done. Rebate has been refused unless the machinery has been installed. I know of one case where the machinery was lying on the wharf at a Queensland port, and the importers could get no rebate because it was not installed. I wish to have no insinuations made in connexion with this matter, because I have had nothing whatever to do with it. I feel that it is only a fair thing that the importers of this class of machinery who had landed, but had not installed, their machines up to the date referred to, should receive the same consideration as those who had installed their machinery at that date. I am not sure that it would not be wise, if we were in a position to do so, to deal in the same way with all machinery which could not be manufactured here.Feeling in this way, I do not think I should have been justified in letting this matter go through without informing the Committee as to what the requested amendment really means. It is due to our exclusion of a provision which appeared in the Tariff as’ originally introduced, and the request is made in order to validate certain things done up to the elate when the alteration was made.
– The Minister may accept my assurance that this proposal would not be agreed to without explanation. I might describe the discussion which is . now taking place as the last act in connexion with one of the most objectionable features of the Tariff. I do not say that it is not the duty of the Committee to keep faith with people who were invited to import goods under certain conditions, but I do say that it was a most objectionable thing for the Government to propose any such arrangement, and it would be still more objectionable to continue it. The Government having entered into an obligation to give a rebate to individuals importing a particular class of machinery in the event of its being installed for a particular purpose, must keep faith with those individuals. I do not approve of the granting of these’ rebates, but the Government being committed to it, it is the duty of Parliament now to see that individuals who were able to have this machinery installed a few days earlier than others, because, perhaps, they knew more of the ropes, should not be given an advantage which is denied to others engaged in the same industry. I understand from the Minister’s third explanation that it is the object of the requested amendment to provide for the grant of a rebate under bylaw in compliance with the provision struck out of the Tariff as it appeared originally, in respect of certain machinery only up to the dates specified. The honorable member for Maranoa suggests that the provision should apply to machinery’ required for wool scouring, but it is absolutely impossible to give effect to that suggestion at this stage.
– Those interested in that machinery were never in it.
– No; the only persons who are in it are those who are given the advantage of a protection up to 120 per cent, on the articles they manufacture.
– They are the people, who are able to chew the lug of Parliament.
– I believe that there is some justification fpr my honorable friend’s suggestion that the people who have derived this advantage are those who have been able to have their views presented to Parliament every day of the week. I say that it is our duty at this stage to confine the application of the objectionable provision to what it was at first intended to apply, and to see that this shall be the last of the . arrangement for the granting of rebates to persons introducing machinery required for industries the productions of which are themselves highly protected. If it can be demonstrated to Parliament that the machinery necessary for the carrying on of any industry cannot be made in the Commonwealth, such machinery should be admitted free; but we should not agree to a proposal to allow the Minister to grant rebates only to such as may happen to catch his ear.
– I think that your attention, Mr. Chairman, should be directed first to the consideration’ whether the schedule is in order, or whether, in order to cover refunds of the nature proposed, it will not be necessary to bring down a message, the Customs Tariff Bill being purely a taxing measure. We have been told by. the Minister that money has been refunded in some cases and not. in others, and that the proposed schedule is necessary to sanction further refunds. He stated that it is a “fair thing” to treat all alike.
– Refunds have been made in all cases coming under the one category ; they have ‘not been made ‘ in regard to- machinery not installed.
– I take exception to the proposal to allow refunds. When the Executive resolution imposing a new Tariff was laid upon the table, the old Tariff was superseded unconditionally, and, as the honorable member for Maranoa has properly contended, if one industry is now to be given an advantage; all should be similarlytreated. During the long, tedious debates on the Tariff, numerous appeals for the consideration of the primary industries have been made in vain. The requirements of the mining companies have been brought under notice, and the honorable member for Maranoa has called attention to an important industry connected with pastoral pursuits ; but, apparently, it is only, those industries whose directors are able to get the ear of the Minister which are to be benefited. We know that the Denton Hat Mills are situated not far from here, so that their directors may have’ frequent interviews with the Minister. Such interviews seem to have taken place with advantage to them. As I showed some months ago, they have for the last two years paid dividends of 10 per cent., and have put 5 per cent. to their- reserves, while their £1 shares were quoted a few months ago at 38s. At that time their hats were protected by a duty of 25 per cent., and are now protected by specific rates ranging up to the equivalent of 120, and even, in some cases, of 180 per cent, ad valorem. Yet it is proposed tq single out the hatting industry for exemption in respect to duties on machinery. Some of the low-grade propositions, as they are called, in Western Aus-‘ tralia, whose results barely pay wages, are charged the full duty on their machinery. So, too, are the industries connected with pastoral pursuits. Yet the hatting industry is not only coddled by high protective duties on hat’s, but used also to enjoy the peculiar privilege of being .exempt from the payment, of duty on machinery. The Minister tells us that he thinks it a fair thing that a rebate should be paid on the machinery imported for hat-making, but how have other industries been treated ? I brought under the notice of the Minister of Trade and Customs a case in which a New South Wales industry had been required to pay ,£600 in duty under an item which Parliament subsequently made free, a . refund of the money so paid being refused. If it is only fair to make a refund on machinery imported for hat-making, whyshould not a refund be made in the case to which I refer? However, it is proposed to treat the hat industry differently from, any other, up to a certain date. The Minister tells us that the schedule has been brought forward to permit the refund of duties paid during the time which elapsed between the introduction of the Tariff and the consideration of the machinery items. I do not think that the industry is entitled to the proposed refund. The Tariff- resolutions abrogated the Tariff of 1902, including its exemptions, and every industry became liable unconditionally for the payment of the new duties. Until Parliament agrees to the proposed exemption, no industry will be entitled to a refund. I submit .that the proposal should be negatived. I. object to it, first, because it differentiates between this one industry and others ; secondly because there , are hundreds of cases in which duties’ not sanctioned by Parliament were paid, and will not be refunded ; and, thirdly, because the proposal, being in the nature of an appropriation, should be conveyed by a message, and cannot be included in a taxing Bill.
.- The proposals should do good by forcing the Committee to realize the effect of refusals to give similar consideration to other in dustries. Nothing is more calculated to make protection unpopular than the proposal before us. One large mining company alone has had to pay £25,000 in duty on imported- machinery, much of which is covered by patent rights, and cannot be manufactured in the Commonwealth; but the representations on behalf of the mining industry were not listened to. The hat-making industry is well established,’ and yet- it is proposed that the machinery required for hat-making shall be admitted free. If the Government has made a promise which it is legally bound to fulfil, I suppose we must consent; but the honorable member for Parkes says that it is not so bound. In my opinion, favoritism is being shown) which nothing can justify. Similar treatment is not proposed for the wool -scouring industry. Apparently, protectionists are ready to consider only the interests of manufacturers who make things to sell in this country; they will not consider the interests of those whose productions have to compete in the markets of the world.
.- I shall not occupy time -by repeating the remarks of other speakers. In my opinion, the honorable member for Parkes raised very strong objections to this proposal. The honorable member for Dar! ing has referred to the lack of consideration given to the mining industry. It is singular that the hatmaking industry, whose productions receive a protection equivalent to 120 per cent. aif valorem, is alone to be permitted to import its machinery free. As I have said on many previous occasions, the engineering trades have received least consideration under the Tariff. Those connected with them are taxed on their hats, and on everything else they wear or use. Yet, while they have to pay duties for the advantage of the hat-making industry, they get no return, since it is allowed to import its machinery free of duty. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie said that this is objectionable ; I say that it is scandalous. I hope that the protectionists of the Committee will show themselves disposed to assist the engineering trades, and will vote against the proposal. Why should this advantage be granted to the industries specified? ‘Not only the people on the spot, but also the industries on the spot have received the first consideration. One of the reasons why I changed my attitude on fiscalism was because such industries had received special treatment, while industries far removed- from this city had been neglected Throughout the consideration of the Tariff I have been fighting on behalf of the engineering and machinery industries. They have received the least protection, and when there is a chance for them to do some work, surely they have a claim upon a highlyprotected industry like hat-making ! It is really scandalous that any protectionist should allow this proposal to pass. Those who should receive some consideration are picked out to be penalized in the interests of the proprietors of woollen mills and hat factories.
– All this machinery is dutiable now.
– Why was it treated differently in the first instance?
– Because it was done under departmental by-laws.
– This proposal found a place in the Tariff simply because a certain man had “ got in “ early. Why should his machinery be> exempted any more than that of the man who did not “ get in “ early?
– In those- particular cases the rebates have been . paid.
– The honorable member for Parkes has questioned whether it is constitutional to appropriate any money in a Tariff Bill.
– How are the men to get their money back, then?
– That does not matter.
– Does not this proposal provide for the payment of some persons who have not yet been paid?
– Surely if this Parliament desires to set an example to other Parliaments in Australia, it will pass its legislation in a proper manner, and will not attempt, under cover of a Tariff Bill, to appropriate public money ! It ought to be done in a separate measure. I do not see how the Minister can ask for an indemnity’in this Bill. For that reason, and others, I shall oppose the proposal. In my opinion, it is a dangerous one.
– There seems to be an inclination on the part of some honorable members to say that the Department has taken upon itself a responsibility which it should not have done. It has done nothing of the kind. If honorable members, will refer to the Tariff in its original form, they will find a schedule providing for a rebate of the duty paid under items 164 and 166 on
Machinery and partsthereof, used in the manufacture of fibrous materials and felt, and felt hats, -when installed for use in a woollen mill or a hat factory for the manufacture of such materials, felt, and hats.
It will be recollected by honorable members that the leader of the Opposition took exception to that provision. When that exception was taken under this Bill, the rebates had been given ; but no rebate has been given since that time. The provision was rejected on the nth December.
– In the event of this schedule being passed, will any more rebates be paid?
– Why bother about it then ?
– Does it matter whether it is passed or not?
– We are engaged ira framing a Statute, and so we must validate what has been done under the Bill.
– The point I raised was that when the schedule was guillotined, there was lying on the wharf machinery for certain purposes, for instance, for scouring wool.
– It had not been cleared at the Customs?
– No; it had to be installed.
-r-Did the Department allow a rebate on that’ machinerv ?
– It was lying on the wharf, and was not installed, and, therefore, a rebate was not given.
– I thought that it was the other way round.
– That is what I referred to. What I said was, that I wanted the ‘Committee to understand that there was lying on the wharf certain machinery, which was in exactly the same category as machinery which had been installed, and oh which a rebate had been allowed. It seemed to me to be unfair to give a rebate to^one man simply because he happened to get’ his machinery installed a day before the machinery of another man was landed on the wharf.
– The honorable gentleman wants to make an allowance on that which was not installed?
– I think that that is only fair. I have not said that I want to do that ; but I felt it my duty to state the exact position. I have not’- submitted a motion. I am not asking the Committee to do one thing or the-; other, but I do not want honorable, members to pass or reject the schedule without knowing exactly the position of affairs.
– If the Minister’s idea is adopted, it will upset the whole principle of the Tariff. He has not allowed a rebate in other cases where duties have been repealed.
– The honorable member for Maranoa saw me on .the subject’, and I made a promise to him. I moved that special wool-scouring machinery, which, according to my information, was not made here, should get a rebate, because I had made a promise to that honorable member, as I deemed that it was just ; but he relieved me of the promise, and, therefore, I did not persevere with my proposal, and there the machinery has remained ever since. AIT I wanted to do to-day was to explain what this meant. If the Committee desires to allow a rebate on the machinery which has not been installed, it can say so. The Department will not, and cannot.
– We cannot do it.
– How can we do it?
– If the Committee, with its eyes wide open, says that a rebate shall not be made, it will not be done.
– The Committee cannot decide that question.
– It may be done under this proposal.
– Does the honorable, gentleman propose to put it in ?
– I am not submitting a motion. I rose to explain the position because several honorable members had appealed to me, and I did not want the schedule to go through quietly, as it seemed likely to do, without the Committee understanding what it was doing.
– This proposal, if carried, will validate what has been done, and will not authorize any more rebates to be paid ?
– It will not. Under the provision I have quoted, and also under the old Tariff, a rebate was allowed ‘in the case of this machinery, and the day that this schedule was cancelled by the Committee was the last day on which. a rebate was given. There has been none paid since that time. The object of this proposal is to validate what was done under the schedule before it was repealed.
– Was it paid on machinery not installed by that date?
– No; the rebate was not given on machinery not installed, although it may have been lying on the wharf, as a good deal of it was, so that the Department is only asking to have validated what was authorized by the schedule before it was cancelled.
– Was the honorable gentleman about to propose an amendment ?
– No; but I wanted to let three or four honorable members who had spoken to me on the subject, and to whom I had made a promise, know that if they desired to move an amendment they had an opportunity of doing so. That is all that I wished to do, and that is what has. created, this hub-hub. . The Department is not to blame. It has done nothing that the Committee has not authorized. It has merely carried out its wish up to the . present time.
– It has taken some time to get this matter cleared up.
– It is not cleared up yet.
– I think that it is cleared up in the minds of most honorable members; but it appears that the mind of the Minister is still in a state of fog. I take it that the phrase “ when installed “ is the condition precedent to any rebate. There, can be no rebate paid on any machinery which has not been , installed.
– Then what isthe reason for this talk by the honorable member and the talk by Senator Best?
– I do not. know what he said.
– We must validate what we did up to a certain date.
– Where is the AttorneyGeneral ?
– I understand that at the time when we applied what’ the Minister has called our guillotine, the Department had received certain applications for a refund of- the duty on machinery which had been installed.
– That is right’.
– And some applications for’ a rebate on machinery which had not been installed.
– I understand that this schedule has nothing- to do with any machinery which had not been installed.
– The Treasurer suggested that it had.
– Is it not fair to give to those who had machinery here, though not installed, the same concession as was given to those whose machinery had been installed?
– This schedule does not give them any concession?
– What it does, I understand, is to treat alike all who were entitled to a rebate on the date in question, but who, for geographical reasons, were not so well able to get the rebate as were men who lived on the spot.
– That is right.
– So far as my information goes, three applicants were paid because they were on the spot, but similar applications which had been made in, say, Sydney or Brisbane, had not been dealt with when this Committee applied the guillotine. The object of this schedule is to validate the payment of the latter claims. I am informed that,- unless it is passed, the Comptroller-General will be called upon to recover the moneys which have been re-: funded.
– Why does the Minister distinguish between the machinery which was installed and that which was lving on the wharf?
– He does not.
– He. said so, at any rate.
– Yes, he said so, and that has led to a lot of this, debate and confusion.
– He said that he thought that it was a fair thing that it’ should be done.
– So I do, but that is not provided for in the schedule.
– The Minister’s pious expression of . opinion of what would be a fair thing has nothing to do with the provision. We are only confusing ourselves when it is imported into the debate. I take it, therefore, that the object of the proposal is merely to validate applications which came in at the same time as the others, and were equally - good, and that unless it is passed the rebates will have to be recovered from the applicants who were paid. We must accept the re sponsibility for our action. If we led these person’s to import this kind of machinery up to a certain date, and promised them a rebate of the duty up to a certain date, we must keep faith with them no matter how wrong it may be to distinguish them from other sections of the community. That is the point I take - the simple point of justice. I admit the anomaly, but there is the contract.
– Have we authorized these rebates?
– They were authorized under the previous schedule.
– We have authorized them- as we have authorized all duties that have been collected and not refunded - not under the Tariff, but under, the Customs Act. Under that Act, refunds need not be made. We are entitled to retain all that we collect, unless there is some specific provision for a rebate. We have in this schedule a specific provision, and under its terms some rebates have been made in the case of certain applications, but refused in respect of others which were lodged at the same time, but in Sydney instead of in Melbourne. Owing to their being lodged in Sydney instead of Melbourne they have not been granted.
– I do not think that there can be any doubt that, following the usual practice in these matters, we must validate what has been already done. It is not easy for the House to say that it has given no express authority for any rebate, because Parliamentis responsible for the acts of Ministers. We can punish Ministers; but an executive act must be upheld by the House. We cannot repudiate what has been done by executive’ authority ; all that we can do is to punish those who have done wrong. That being so, we are compelled, whether we like it or not, to validate what has been done. I do not think that any great measure of sympathy need, be extended to those engaged in highly protected industries in respect of their having to pay duty upon their machinery. I am prepared to vote that they be called upon to pay duty on their machinery, but when we have to deal with a mere question of validating acts done under resolution of the House, it seems to me that the only course open to us i.o to approve of the request of the Senate as itcomes to us. I regret that it is not possible to make provision for some of the cases mentioned by the Treasurer. I know of a case in my own electorate where, following the encouragement offered under the Bounties Act, passed last session, to the wool “ tops “ industry, a lot of machinery is about to be imported into Australia-
– It is on the way out.
– That is so. This machinery is intended for use in an indus-. try which is not protected, although Parliament recognised, by granting a bounty, if it is successfully established here, that it will lead to great industrial changes in Australia. Machinery of this kind has not been made here, and it seems, rather unwise to hamper the establishment of a totally new industry .by imposing a duty upon it.
– We had an opportunity under the Tariff to deal with that question’.
– That is so; we have probably missed it. I am inclined to think, from what I have heard, that it would not be in order at this stage to make a proposition ‘dealing with that machinery, but I feel that we have no option save tq validate what has been done, and to approve of the Senate’s request.
.- A few moments ago, I gave expression to a certain opinion which the discussion, to my mind, has proved to be well founded. If the Treasurer had told the Committee what this request really meant, we should have understood his action, but I think that the requested schedule means a very important leakage. The Treasurer has repeated the words I used on a previous occasion when the. leader of the Opposition drew attention to this most remarkable schedule providing for a rebate on imports for home consumption. The debate on that schedule took place on the 28th November, and we then’ struck out of it not only item 124, but items 164 and 166. We prohibited the granting of any further rebates under the schedule from that date, yet we now find that it is proposed under this request that rebates shall be granted up to and including nth December, 1907.
– That date relates only to rebates of duty on piece goods used in the manufacture of rubber waterproof cloth. The honorable member should look at the date named in respect of the other items in the schedule.
– In the case of the remaining items, the date named is 28th November, 1907. As a matter of fact, we made no alteration in respect of the date; we struck out the whole schedule. This request has been made to justify the action of the Treasurer, and the Government have actually exceeded the power granted by Parliament. The schedule was not debated on nth December, and this House did not agree to rebates being granted up to that date.
– The honorable member forgets that the item relating to rubber cloth was debated not on 28th November, but at a later stage.
– I have looked up Hansard, and know what I am talking about. I well remember when the schedule was under consideration. It was then said that consideration should be given to pastoralists who had to import machinery, and also to those engaged in the mining industry. That consideration was not granted. I have a particularly clear recollection of’’ the incident, because I drew attention to the fact .that the Stanley Mining Company had imported special machinery which could not be made here, and that it could not obtain a rebate of duty, although a rebate was granted on machinery imported for use in the Denton Hat Mills, which are protected to the extent of 150 per cent. As the leader of the Opposition said, the Government collected the duty on hat-making machinery at the front door and returned it at the back door. We now have a proposal to exceed the power which the Committee then gave the Government. I say, unhesitatingly, that this is a proposal to extend the granting of rebates from 28th November until the nth December. If the Government can deal in this way with the revenue of the Commonwealth, then Parliament has very little power over it. I agree with the statement made by the honorable member for Parkes that a special Bill is necessary to’ legalize this proposal.
Sitting suspended from 6.28- to 7.43 p.m.
– I think that some confusion has been created in the minds of honorable members owing to the manner in which the reason underlying this request’ was placed before the Committee by the Treasurer. As I understand it, this schedule is merely intended to validate the action of the Customs Department up to certain dates - the dates upon which we made alterations in the rebates granted upon the articles therein enumerated. To that request I take no exception whatever.
But the Treasurer is apparently anxious to feel the pulse of the Committee in regard to quite another proposition, and it would be unfortunate if he were to gather from the attitude of honorable members that he could do what he seemed to suggest would be fair, namely, grant rebates to. those persons who, whilst they had on the wharfs at the period indicated, machinery, intended to be used in woollen mills and hat factories, had not actually installed it in their factories. Such a step would constitute a grave departure from the whole principle which has hitherto guided us in respect of similar matters. It would be an attempt to remedy, perhaps, two or three cases of hardship whilst ignoring thousands of cases in which an equal amount of hardship has been imposed in connexion with other’ items in the Tariff. There is no difference - so far as the hardship inflicted is concerned - between machinery which was lying on the wharfs and had not been installed in factories upon the date that we made the alteration in the rebate of duty, and machinery on which duty was increased which was on board ship at the wharfs and the entries in respect of which had notbeen passed.
– Oh, yes; there is.
– I fail to see it. We know that those having goods in vessels which have discharged the goods at their first port of call on our coast have only had to pay the lower rate of duty in respect of those goods, whereas at their next port of call they halve been obliged to pay a higher rate upon the same class of goods. Although such cases may seem to be hard, the Treasurer has declined to consider them. He has adhered to the principle that the duties imposed by this Committee ought to be collected from the date upon which they were levied. I do not know whether he intends to submit a proposal of the character to which I have previously referred.
– I should like to see any such proposal first.
– Do not debate what is not before us.
– But the Treasurer himself brought this matter before us, evidently with a view to feeling the pulse of the .Committee. I do hope that, for the sake of equity and symmetry, he will not make an exception in the present instance,’ seeing that he has already refused to make an exception in thousands of other cases involving an equal measure Qf hardship.
– - This schedule has been inserted by the Senate, and purports to permit of rebates being made upon certain articles intended for home consumption. The rebates relate to piece goods used in the manufacture of rubber waterproof cloth and to machinery used in woollen milts of hat factories. I have listened attentively to the several explanations made by the Treasurer as to the reason why this schedule was inserted by the Senate, and I confess that I am not quite clear as to what really lies behind it. In. the first place, the honorable gentleman has told us thai, prior to the dates specified in the schedule, the Customs Department made certain rebates to the importers of these articles, and that it is necessary to indemnify the Treasury for the action that has been taken. The point upon which I am in doubt is why the Department made these exemptions?
– Because they were provided for in the Tariff.
– If that be so, where is the necessity for submitting a proposal to indemnify the Treasury ?
– Because this Committee struck out the provision without specifying dates up to which the rebates should operate.
– Do I understand that this proposal indemnifies the Treasury only up to. those dates ?
– And that, prior to those dates, the provision as to the granting of rebate was contained in the Tariff?
– If the Treasurer had made that point clear earlier in the debate-
– I did so three or four times. I quoted the schedule under which it was done.
– The Treasurer had evidently something else in his mind, because he gave a very different explanation to the Committee. From the remarks which he made in reply to the honorable member for Maranoa, I gathered that it is open to this Committee to extend the provision under consideration to the machinery imported by pastoralists up to particular dates.
– I do not think it is.
– Nor do T, but certainly that is the inference to be drawn from the remarks of the Treasurer earlier in the evening, when he indicated that he did not wish his proposition to be passed without the Committee being fullyaware of his meaning,’ and of their powers. If I have correctly interpreted the utterances of the honorable the Treasurer, 1 should like to know what are the privileges of the Committee with .respect to other branches of industry? Would it be possible for an honorable member to move an addition embracing some other industry which is quite as much in need of the concession as is the particular industry referred to? Here we have a Victorian industry, which has enjoyed the advantage of high protection for twenty-five or thirty years- advantages which have never been denied by the Federal Parliament - and this’ industry is carried on with the aid of duty amounting to 120 per cent, on some lines. One particular firm was mentioned by the honorable member for Parkes, and the figures he .quoted showed it to be a fairly flourishing industry, paying 10 per cent, on its capital, carrying 5 per cent, to a reserve fund, and having its paid-up £1 shares quoted at 38s. in the market. This is an industry which was specially favoured by the Treasurer under the old Tariff, and it is the industry for which this special concession is now sought. I ask the Treasurer to compare this industry with the farming industry in his own electorate, which is just now being overwhelmed by the rabbit pest. In the original Tariff the Treasurer proposed to impose duties of 25 per cent, and 30 per cent, on wire netting, but the House decided to remit that taxation. Only the other day I received a letter from a constituent who was compelled to pay £^5 in duty on 5 miles of wire netting necessary to protect his holding against the rabbit pest, but it is not proposed by the Treasurer to indemnify that struggling man, and thus .place him in the same position as those who imported prior to 8th August, or since 1st May. If the whole question is open, as may be gathered from the Treasurer’s remarks, I should like to move a further addition, placing wire netting on the same basis, and empowering the Treasurer to return to the users - I do not say the importers - the duty paid on the wire netting actually used in enclosing land against the rabbit pest. As to the particular interest under discussion, I have no desire to deal with it harshly, because I should like to see the necessary machinery introduced as cheaply as possible; but I do object to an industry being so coddled as to be given a distinct advantage over other industries. The agricultural and pastoral industries are vital to the progress of the Commonwealth, and those engaged in the fight against the rabbits deserve every consideration at our hands. It is unfair that those who were compelled to fence during the time the duty was eoi’lected should be penalized, whilst those who imported prior to the 8th August, or since 1st May, should obtain their wire netting duty free. With a view to testing the question, I give notice that at the proper time I shall move the addition to schedule B of the following1 -
Item 186. Wire. Netting, used for the enclosure of land, as protection against rabbits or other noxious animals, rebate up to and including 1st May, 190S, full duty paid.
– The honorable ‘ member would be out of order in moving an amendment of that description.
– The , proposal foreshadowed by the honorable member for Calare is just what. one might expect to result from: that now submitted by the Government. This is not a new question, but one handed down from the Tariff of 1901-2; and such a provision is bad, and ought not to have been introduced by the present Government. An opportunity should have been given to the Committee to say whether they would perpetuate an advantage to any particular industries. At any rate, the Government now ask the Committee to validate what has been done, and that, I think, is a proper thing to do. Possibly the Government have been advised by their Attorney-General that there is some technicality as to date, and to make matters doubly sure, as has been the way of the Government all through, we have this proposal before us. . Even if it were possible to- bring -all classes of machinery under such a provision, I should still regard it as unsound and unbusinesslike, for the reason that it would give those already in an industry an advantage of 75 per cent, or 1 00 per cent, over those who might subsequently enter on the same line of business. I should even regard the provision outlined by the honorable member fr.r Calare as unfair and unsound, inasmuch as the rebate would never find its way into the pockets of the people who have paid for the wire netting at the increased cost ; and thus the advantage would really go to the importer or distributor. I think, however, that there must be something more in the mind of the Treasurer than has been made clear to the Committee. The honorable gentleman would never waste the whole afternoon on a proposal so simple as that in the schedule, but must, I think, have an’ intention of, by-and-by, submitting an amendment to include consignments of machinery that were on the wharf, and not actually placed in the factory, on the ground that those who- had in good faith introduced those imports, should- receive some consideration of the kind. If that be the intention, I assume that I would be out of order in discussing it at the present time. I may say, however, that I should regard such a proposal, as quite improper, because all engaged in importing should be placed on exactly the same level. It may be that these few anticipatory remarks may have the effect of inducing the Treasurer to change his mind, seeing that he has not had the courage to table a motion to the effect indicated.
– Before the discussion on this schedule closes, I desire to say one or’ two words in modification of an opinion I expressed at an earlier stage on the constitutional aspect el the question. I was under the impression, when the present Tariff was intro’duced, that there was not a similar provision in the Tariff of. 1/901.-2. .From that I made the deduction that the rebate could not be given, and that this provision was an improper one. But I find that at the foot of the page upon which the duties- upon machinery are included, there is a note to this effect -
Subject to rebate under the conditions’ specified in the schedule hereto.
That seems to me to. get rid of the objection that the rebate provision in the schedule is in the nature of an appropriation, and would require a different Bill ; because the note gives it the character of a modification of a duty introduced in the Tariff. But it seems to me, also, that that note cuts the ground from under the proposal which the honorable member for Calare has indicated ; because it is quite clear that no rebates could be provided for in the part of the schedule which we are now debating, unless there had been some provision in the Tariff originally for rebates which it is intended to indemnify the Government for having paid. I still, however, hold the opinion that the provision now under discussion is unnecessary. It -may be. desir able to have it in for the sake of extra’ precaution, but if the schedule provides fora rebate, then I do not see. any necessity for putting this new provision into the Tariff at the present time. I shall not, however, find fault with it on that ground, because it only makes what is intended to be correct, doubly correct. I want to say a word about the prolongation of the debate. I quite agree with the honorable member for North Sydney that the whole matter has been accentuated largely by reason of the very confused statements which the Minister has made.
– He did his best.
– We have a right to expect something good from a Minister who does his best,, but we have not had anything from the Treasurer which was as clear as we were entitled to expect from a member of the Government.
– The Treasurer has not had a legal training.
– I am not complaining of the lack of legal character in the Treasurer’s explanations, but of the want of ordinary clearness which we expect from every business man, and indeed from every clear-headed man.
– The Treasurer has admitted that he will not pay any more rebates under this provision.
– The thing is not at all clear.
– The honorable member must have a very dull mind.
– I have a very suspicious mind, and I am quite ready to tell the Treasurer to his face that I am very suspicious of him. His character reminds me very much of Bret .Harte’s “ Heathen Chinee.” He works in the dark, and one never knows what he has up that wide sleeve of his, to bring forth at any time and lay upon the table. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie seems to think” that everything is clear and above board. But it is not so clear as the honorable member seems to think.
– ;I am accepting the Minister’s statement that if this provision goes through he will not pay any more rebates.
– In the course of one of the Treasurer’s addresses - he delivered half-a-dozen> and his last was as confused as his first - he said that, although in some cases the machinery had been placed in position, in others it was on the’ wharf ; and he did not say that those people who had their machinery on the wharf were not entitled to the same consideration as those who were fortunate enough to have their machinery placed in position’.
– That statement was in the Treasurer’s first speech.
– Whether it was in his first or his fourth I am not clear, but it was in one of them. He said also that it would be a fair thing to make a rebate to those who had their machinery on the wharf as well as to those who had it placed in position. Well, I need not tell the Committee that under this provision, unless the machinery is actually “ placed,” on or before the dates mentioned as to those two particular classes of machinery, the owners will not be legally entitled to the rebate.
– It must be “ in position.”
– It must be “ in position ‘.’ ; and, therefore, whatever the Treasurer may think to be a fair thing - and I am bound to say that a fair thing in his mind is a very .varying factor, according to the point of view, and the peri sons whose interests are affected - will not make it law. The Treasurer, therefore, will have no possible right to make a rebate, as to importations in the past or in the future, with regard to any machinery that is not actually placed in position on or before one of the dates mentioned. The Treasurer says - or did say in. another of his speeches - that the money had been paid, and that this provision . was merely to indemnify the Government for what they had done. Perhaps the Treasurer is going to propose an amendment in order to enable the- rebate to be paid to those who had machinery on the wharf but not placed in position. But when he was asked during the course of the debate whether he intended to submit an amendment, he said that he did not; and. when the honorable member for North Sydney addressed .the Committee after the dinner hour and asked the Treasurer whether he intended moving an amendment extending the rebate to cases ‘ in which the machinery was upon the wharf but not placed in position, he simply smiled. I may again mention the “Heathen Chinee” as a fair illustration of the sort of smile. He would not say, in answer to the honorable member for North Sydney, whether or not he would’ favour an amendment, if moved, for the pur- pose of granting a rebate in cases where machinery was not placed in position. Well, I do not know that ‘anybody has shown any inclination or disposition to move such an amendment. But I hope that if one is suggested, the Committee will remember this. I can mention a number ot cases. One occurred in my own constituency, and came very prominently under my own notice. Ritchie Brothers, the wellknown agricultural machinery makers, imported some machinery for use in their own industry. They wanted it immediately, in order, to complete a very big work. They paid £600 in duty upon that machinery. This House subsequently made the goods free. Of course, an application, was made for a refund of the whole or part of the payment, but none of the money was ever refunded. That was in accordance with the principle acted upon by the Customs authorities under the law towards all persons who pay duty upon goods afterwards ‘ made free of duty.
Colonel Foxton. - There are scores of such cases.
– There are, but I only mention one, because I happen to know of the circumstances. If we are going to adjust matters by what the Minister considers to be a fair thing, I consider that it would be a fair thing to refund the thousands of pounds which have been paid in duty in cases where the House has afterwards decided that no duty is to be imposed. Therefore, if the Treasurer knows of any amendment, or- intends moving one himself, which would have the effect of giving a rebate upon machinery which was not fixed in position as required by the law, I hope the Committee will set its face against such a proposal, and will say that if we are going to make fish of one we shall make fish of all, and not treat one set of people differently from another. The case which has been mentioned by the honorable member for Calare and the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, where a refund to the last copper was made on machinery imported by a hat-making company, which is’ making ‘ profits of 15 per cent, per annum and setting aside a large sum tq a reserve account - although that machinery has not been placed in position - is one of those conundrums which I do not pretend to solve. I do not think that the case would have been unearthed except for the leader of the Opposition’s comments upon the unfairness. I think that the Treasurer ought to tell us whether anything more is to be paid. I ask him to tell me now whether there are any rebates, which have not been paid, upon machinery which had not been placed in position prior to these dates.
– Ask me something easier.
– This is an illustration of the difficulty of getting information from the Treasurer. He conveyed the idea that other rebates have not been’ paid. I think we are entitled to know whether rebates have been paid, or whether case’s are “ hanging fire “ because of that legal distinction between being “ on the wharf “ or “ in position.” If the Treasurer will not give us that information, I think that we ought not to hesitate to take whatever steps we may think necessary with regard to any proposed amendment, or even with regard to the Tariff itself, in order to compel the
Treasurer to give the information to the
– I do not ‘ know whether the honorable member has been asleep, but I have stated the facts .more than once.
– Do I understand the Treasurer to say that all the moneys have been paid that could be paid under this provision ?
– As far as I know everything has been pair].
– As far as he knows.
– I hope I understand the honorable gentleman rightly. He says . that he has no intention to move an amendment ?
– I did not say anything of the kind.
– I understood him to say so.
– I did not say anything of the kind.
– The honorable gentleman may have forgotten it, because he made the statement two hours ago. I think it was in his second speech out of six.
– This is the honorable member’s fourth speech.
– It is my second, as a matter of fact, and I am now correcting something which I said in my first. I confess that I mistook something regarding the constitutional aspect of the matter, and I have risen partly for the purpose of correcting myself. But will the Minister tell us whether he intends to move an amendment?
– I do not know what I shall do.
– I will leave it at that. , It is a good illustration of the mental condition of the Minister in charge of the Tariff.
.- This matter is too important to be passed’ until we know the exact position. Prior to the dinner adjournment, I understood that I had a statement from the Minister that in the event of the provision submitted by the Senate being agreed to, no further rebates would be paid to those who had imported these particular classes of machinery.
– I told the honorable member that before.
-I accept the Minister’s assurance, but how does he reconcile it with the. reply he has just given to the honorable member for Parkes? The Minister was asked: “Are there, any yet to be paid?” and his reply was : “ Ask me somethingeasy.”
– Supposing there has been a dispute with the Customs Department in regard to any of the imports that took place at the time, and that that dispute has not been settled? A payment may then have to be made. But nothing will be paid on anything imported after the dates specified.
– I take it that the question in dispute is not whether the machinery was imported, but whether it was placed in position prior to that time.
– I do not know whether there is a dispute, but I am not going to say now that all the moneys have been paid. Honorable members opposite would try to catch me for making what they would call a mis-statement, if it were ascertained afterwards that there was any outstanding payment.
– The Minister now says he is not going to commit himself to something to which he has already committed himself. I have not been one of those that have requested adjournments of items, but the possibility of one section of the community getting exceptional treatment-
– The honorable member knows better. He has no right to make those statements.
– If the Minister succeeds in getting this provision passed, there is a possibility of one section of the community getting treatment that cannot under the terms of the amendment be given to another.
– The Minister could get the information in a minute.
– I am not ‘going to be baited here hour after hour to suit the convenience of honorable members opposite. I have made statements repeatedly, and if they will not accept them, I cannot help it.
– Then I will accept the other position - that the Minister, to the best of his belief, believes that there are no further rebates to be paid under this provision.
– In face of that statement, and of the fact that the schedule as originally introduced gave him the power to make rebates, where is the necessity for this declaration of the validity of his action? I do not subscribe to the doctrine of dodgerv in connexion with this matter, no do I believe in taking up that line of debate, but the Minister must surely admit that under the resolution which he moved when he submitted the new Tariff schedule, which superseded the old Tariff, he had authority to pay rebates, and evidently he has done so.
– I did not do it. I piesume the Minister of Trade and Customs did it.
– Then without this provision the Minister has paid certain claims. If, there are no other claims to be paid, and those that have been paid were legally paid, where is the necessity for this provision ?
– All I can tell the honorable member is that the Department ask that this provision shall be put in to validate what has been done.
– Does the Minister think that under his original resolution something has been done which was not valid?
– We knocked out the rebate schedule without putting in the date up to ^yhich it should apply.
– If so, and if this is a proposal to validate something that has been previously done - something which does not carry with it the additional responsibility of searching for possible claimants - I see no reasonable objection to it.
– Why not call it a validating provision?
– That would be the sensible course to follow if it is a validating provision. As it is submitted, there is ample room for misunderstanding as to it.
– There is none whatever. It is all a bogy deliberately raised- by the Opposition.
– It may suit- the Minister to throw the responsibility on the Opposition, but other honorable members wanted enlightenment as to the effect of the proposal. If that is the extent of it, I see no reasonable objection to it, although it appears to be a duplication, but if there is any intention of making it a searching provision in order that some other people may get rebates, I can assure the Treasurer, that he will receive a hundred applications ‘ for consideration from my constituency alone in connexion with imported articles the duty on which has since . been ‘ reduced or removed. There would be no end to it. The Committee hais, I think wisely, decided that no more applications for rebates are to be considered. The Minister might have stated whether he intended to submit an amendment with the’ object of giving special consideration in the case of certain other kinds of machinery, but I admit that he is not compelled to show his hand. I warn him, however, that if it is to be a question of getting special consideration for certain classes of machinery, I shall probably entertain or penalize the Committee with an enumeration of cases that are deserving of consideration if any are to be considered.
.- I quite agree with the general position taken up by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, but I think he is forced into the position of being a trusting onlooker of the Treasurer’s action. I do not think he wishes to give the Treasurer the enormous powers which he will undoubtedly get under this proposal if it is passed, especially in view of the Minister’s doubt as to whether or not he has anything up his sleeve. He first of all told the honorable member for Kalgoorlie and the Committee that no further rebates were going to be paid under this proposal . Then he said that some might have to be paid ; and afterwards, when we pressed him, he said he would not bind himself one way or the other. I rise to suggest to the Treasurer a means by which he can prove his bona fides.
– I do not want to prove it ; the Committee know it..
– We seem to have been looking for several hours at the pathetic picture of a fairly intelligent Committee trying to understand a still more intelligent Treasurer. The Treasurer has made no fewer than seven speeches to explain his position, and the Committee have made even more numerous efforts to understand him. We appear now to have the Minister in an absolute dead-lock. He says, on the one hand, that no more payments will be made, and, on the other, that he is not’ going to give his position away by definitely admitting that no more payments will be made. The Committee ‘is dead against the making of these payments by the Government contrary to the intention of Parliament. We can take that as an axiom. If any more rebates are to be paid, I would suggest that they receive the formal ratification of Parliament, in the same way as is done with regulations under certain Acts. If further payments are to be made, why should not! the Minister place them in a schedule and ask both Houses to pass a resolution to make them law? Will the Minister adopt that course? I think we are entitled to a reply, even if the Minister is still at this eleventh hour trying to understand . the subject. If he will not reply, he will put us in the position of having to move some such motion as I have foreshadowed. I cannot make the honorable gentleman out. Our difficulty is to understand what is behind that forehead of his.
– Lots of brain.
– Then why does not the Minister make the subject comprehensible to less fortunate members? I am afraid that his brain is a somewhat tortuous one. I have offered a suggestion with the most friendly feelings to a Minister who is obviously floundering in difficulties. He will not be straightforward with the Committee. It is only circumstances - I will not say constitutional disabilities - that prevent him.
– Will the honorablemember address himself to the item?
– The honorable member is very insulting.
– I have no desire to be. I am simply trying to drag an answer from the honorable gentleman. In the absence of any sort of light from him I am compelled to move -
That the requested amendment be modified by inserting the words “validation of” before, and the word “paid” after, the word “Rebate.”
– That will stop it at a certain point.
– It . will stop it at the point it has already reached - at those already paid.
– There are some not paid.
– The Minister has told us that there are none.
– I did not.
– The Minister now tells’ us distinctly that some of the rebates are not yet paid.
– I said I did not know.
– He now says that he does not know ! It would be wiser to include the words I have proposed.
– The whole thing is a stupid piece of baiting on the other side.
– Certain honorable members, who appear to be in possession of better knowledge than our unsuspecting friend the Treasurer, have just assured me that there are amounts still to be paid.
– The Minister did not say that.
– The Minister said four different things - first, that there was nothing more to be paid ; next, that he was not going to declare himself ; next, that there were amounts to be paid ; and lastly, that he did not know.
– I never said there were amounts to be paid. I said I did not know, nor does any one in this Committee know.
– If there. are no more amounts to be paid, what is the objection to my amendment, which will limit this provision to those already paid ?
– It would be very unjust if claims were made in the proper time and were not yet paid. ‘ The honorable member must be very dense, or else he is doing this deliberately for the purpose of obstruction.
– I have heard the honorable member make the same remark to half a dozen members. We all know that he is the only illuminating factor. in the Chamber.’ No more of these rebates should be paid. They were paid against the intention of Parliament.
– They were not.
– Parliament stopped them at the earliest opportunity.
– When they were agreed to be paid the old schedule was in existence. I said that no payments would be made that did not properly come under that schedule.
– That was after the Committee declared against the Ministerial action.
– The . honorable member for Wentworth has been making an exhibition of himself which is neither creditable to him nor respectful to the Committee. I stated more than once and, in reply to the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, very definitely, that no rebate would be paid in respect of machinery that was not installed at the time the Committee omitted the rebate schedule which appeared in the Tariff as at first introduced v
– This is another equivocation.
– The honorable member should not be so insulting. I have been as fair in the matter as a man could possibly be, but honorable members have been trying to cause trouble and disturbance over this matter. That is what has been done by the boy opposite, who has his tongue in his cheek at the present moment.
– Who is insulting now ?
– The honorable member for Wentworth has been trying to make fools of honorable members. He has been as insulting as it is possible for a boyish member to be.
– Order !
– I am not going to submit to insults from a brat like that, who ought to be at school-.
– Order ! I ask the Minister to resume his seat. Many remarks are being passed across the chamber which are certainly insulting to those to whom they are addressed. If these personalities are continued, they can only lead to recriminationi which it will be most difficult for me to check. I ask honorable members not to indulge in them any more.
– I told the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, perhaps more distinctly than any other member of the Committee, that the rebates paid, or to be paid, were made under the schedule which appeared in the Tariff as originally introduced, and which was rejected by the Committee when we reached it. On the nth December last, so far as piece-goods were concerned, the schedule referred to was annulled; but up to that date it gave authority for the payment of rebates, and up to the 28th November the same provision applied to the machinery referred to in the schedule.
– What, about the “bag”?
– You, sir, made a reference just now to the use by honorable members of insulting remarks. If I am to be insulted by the other side, honorable members opposite must expect a retort.
– I did not catch what the honorable member for Indi said, but if his remark was of an insulting character I ask him to withdraw it.
– I did not say any-, thing that the Minister has not said before.
– The remark was intended to be insulting, and we have arrived at a stage when I shall not quietly submit to insults from such a source. I stated to the honorable member for Kalgoorlie that rebates would only be paid in respect . to piece-goods, up to the nth December, and of this class of machinery, up to the 28th November, 1907, the dates on which the Committee decided to omit the provisions of the rebate schedule. I have no personal knowledge of the matter, and I spoke only from information received from the Customs Department, and I say that there has been nothing on which rebate has been promised or paid that was not installed before the dates referred to. Why I mentioned the matter at all was because rebate was not paid on some imported machinery which was left on the wharfs, and was not installed, and I felt that it ought to have been dealt with as if it had been installed.
– It could net be so. dealt with.
– I am aware that unless something more is done by the Committee, it would not come under the rebate schedule, and rebate could not be paid in respect of it. Honorable members appeared to be in doubt as to whether rebates were to be made. I said that there might be disputes in connexion with some claims for rebates which have not yet been met, but that there . was no proposal to pay rebates in respect of importations after the dates named in the schedule. I did not ‘ know how much was involved. I was not aware at the time that some payments were not made, and I wished to guard myself against a reply without- absolute knowledge. Some honorable members desired to trip me up afterwards, and say a claim of £20 was not paid here, or a claim of £10 was not paid there.
– Who did that?
– I was asked the question directly. I said that I believed that all claims for rebate had been met, and that no rebate would be paid in respect of piece goods that were not imported up to the11th December, or in respect of machinery that was not installed before the 28th November. I have been as straight as I could be in dealing with the matter, but deliberate attempts have been made to misconstrue what I said. The Minister of Trade and Customs is present, and I know that he will not allow the payment of any rebate , which was notcovered by the schedule.
.- I think the Minister’s explanation might be accepted. Unless the machinery imported was installed on the 28th November, 1907, no rebate can be made in respect of it.
– Unless this Committee does something more than it has already done.
– If machinery imported was not installed at the date referred to, it could not be brought under the rebate schedule. We have lost a good deal of time over the matter, but I think the Minister has, to a large extent, himself to blame for that, because he was not ready with a full explanation. We should have been told what claims are outstanding, and what they amount to.
– And the Minister should give the names of the claimants.
– He might also, if it was desired, have even given the names.
– Surely the honorable member will believe me when I tell him that no rebate will be paid in respect of any machinery that was not installed on the 28th November last?
– I am really defending the Minister.
– I have just, been informed that the total amount involved is
– If imported machinery of this kind was really installed on the date referred to, and therehas been some dispute between the importer andthe Department as. to the amount of rebate to be allowed, no one will contend that in such a case rebate should not be paid when the dispute is settled. The Minister has said now that only machinery which was installed before the 28th November, 1907, can be considered for rebate, and hon orable members will agree that the Government must meet any valid claim for rebate in respect of such machinery.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta; [8.55]. - I take it that the honorable member for Wentworth will not, press his amendment after the statement we have just heard from the Minister. If the honorable member was not convinced before, he ought to be after the lucid speech to which we have just listened. I venture to say that all the trouble which has arisen has been due to a lack of straightforwardness on the part of the Minister. The honorable gentleman’s tactics during the evening have been in the direction of what is called “ feeling ‘’ the Committee to discover whether honorable members would agree to afurther modification of the proposal as it comes to us from the Senate. All his talk on the subject has tended to confuse the issue, and his six or seven explanations were made with the object, if possible, of enlarging the scope of the Senate’s suggestion. The Minister has practically admitted that if he has not said so in so many words. The whole evening has been wasted by the honorable gentleman’s effort to discover whether the Committee would stand any more of this kind of thing. Now that he has stated exactly the scope of the requested amendment, honorable members will have no difficulty in agreeing to validate anything which might legally have been done before the dates mentioned in the rebate schedule. To do so will be to do a simple act of justice. Other industries do not share in the favours granted to those specially referred to in the schedule, because we did not place them in the same favorable position when we originally considered the Tariff. That is our own doing, and we must abide by it. I take it that, after the last explanation of the Minister, which has cleared up all our doubts, the Committee will be prepared to vote with him for the validation of the payment of rebates to which importers are really entitled.
.- Whilst I am unable altogether to subscribe to the very flattering interpretation which the honorable member for Parramatta has placed on the inability of the Treasurer to explain himself, I do not propose to press my amendment after the ninth - or was. it the tenth explanation - which the honorable gentleman has delivered. I am unable to agree with the honorable member for Parramatta that the Treasurer’s speech was a. lucid one, because I had to leave the chamber while he was delivering it. I Understand, however, that the honorable gentleman has now definitely told the Committee that a sum of£41 5 is the most that is involved in the present proposal. In view of that circumstance, I am prepared not to press my amendment, and, for the further reason that we may proceed with the consideration of the item covering pianos, in connexion with which I have certain hopes for the Treasurer, because of the soothing charm which music is said to have in certain directions, I ask leave to withdraw my amendment.
Modification, by leave, withdrawn.
Motion agreed to.
Requested amendment made.
– As it is necessary to attach schedule b to the items referred to therein,
That on page 14 the words in the footnote, andon page 20 the words in the footnote*, “ the schedule hereto,” be left out, and the words “ Schedule B “ inserted, and that the following footnote be attached to item 165, page ai : - “ Subject to rebate under the conditions specified in schedule B.”
Amendment’ agreed to.
– I am informed by the Clerk that, in order to validate schedule b, it is necessary, at this stage, to insert a new clause. Therefore, I move -
That the following new clause be inserted : - “ 7a. Rebate of duty may be allowed in respect of any of the articles enumerated in schedule b, and at the rates therein set out, when those articles have been used under Departmental Bylaws for the purposes therein specified.”
I was under the impression that this matter need not be dealt with until after the consideration of the items in the Tariff schedule had been completed; but” the Clerk says it is necessary . that it should be dealt with now.
Colonel Foxton. - Before we have completed the consideration of the Tariff schedule?
– Yes. I am only carrying out what I am advised ‘is necessary in order to validate schedule b.
. -i have no objection to the new clause being inserted - indeed, it seems to be necessary - but is this the proper time to doso?
– I did not intend to propose this amendment until we had dealt with all the items in the Tariff schedule, but I am advised that this is the time when it should be proposed.
– I am prepared to accept the Clerk’s advice, and, in any case, it does not matter very much.
.- The Bill was dealt with previously by the Committee, and, I understand, that we are now simply dealing with the Senate’s requests for certain amendments in the Tariff schedule. Can we, when, dealing with its suggestions, revert to the body of the Bill?
– I point out to the honorable member that this amendment is necessary, to validate the other schedule.
– But we are passing away from the Tariff schedule to the body of the Bill.
– That is so. The whole Bill is before us.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
– I shall now put to the Committee the requests on item 384, the consideration of which was postponed.
Item 384. Pianos, viz. : -
And on and after 12th December, 1907 -
Request. - Leave out “ (except outside packages in which pianos are ordinarily imported when containing such goods.)” Make the duties ad val. (General Tariff), 25 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), 20 per cent.
Requested amendment as to wording made.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) put; -
That the requested amendment as to duties be not made..
The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Requested amendment made.
Item 384. Pianos, viz. : -
Request. - Make the duties ad val.. (General Tariff), 25 per cent. ; (Unitecl Kingdom) 20 per cent.
– I move -
That the, requested amendment be not made.
I feel strongly that a great injustice has been done, and done in a way which I do not think extremely creditable.
– To what does the honorable member allude?
– Is the Treasurer in order in reflecting on the vote of the Committee?
– There is so much noise that I was prevented from hearing what the Treasurer said.
– He said that the vote just taken was discreditable.
– I wish to move that the words be taken down.
– The Minister stated that a vote had been taken under circumstances which were not creditable.
– If the Treasurer said that, the statement was distinctly out of order.
– I did not say that. Although the voting in the last division was even, my motion being lost by the casting vote of the Chairman, I feel so strongly about what is being done that I am not prepared to comply with this request. I do not wish to reflect on the last vote, but there was a pair of which I was not aware, and which I did not know would be made.
– I know of three members who would have voted on this side who could not obtain pairs.
– Pairs would not be given to them.
– The protection which I hoped would be given to our industries
– How many piano-making factories are there?
– More than one. I am in a position to say that a wealthy company has obtained permits to bring out employes to start a factory here.
– When were the permits given?
– I think about three months 1 ago.
– Under the circumstances, it is well to emphasize the attitude of certain honorable, members, and their evident desire to protect foreign rather than Australian industries. Therefore I refuse to allow this ‘motion to go on the voices. A great deal of notice will be taken of the division . lists in the manufacturing centres of the Commonwealth, and I wish that to be done, so that it may be known that there is a leaven amongst the representatives of the people here, destroying Australian industries.
– I submit that the Treasurer is using this term to convey an innuendo of bribery.
– I did not so understand the words.
– They had no such meaning.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Requested amendment made.
Resolutions reported; report adopted.
That the Bill bereturned to the Senate amended accordingly.
In Committee (Consideration of Senate’s request) :
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed
That the Committee have leave to sit again at a later hour this evening.
– I should like to ask the Minister what he contemplates doing.
– I intend to invite the House to proceed with the consideration of the Additional Estimates.
– What, at this hour of the night?
– I fail to understand why the Minister should propose to postpone the consideration of the Excise Tariff Bill until a later hour this evening.
– Ido nor know what the Treasurer intends to do, but 1 presume that the Prime Minister is in charge of the business of the House -
– If the honorable member will be patient for a moment or two there is a little Bill with which the deputy leader of the Opposition desires me to proceed.
– What Bill is that?
– The Excise Tariff Bill.
– I have not suggested that the Treasurer, should proceed with it.
– I think that is the best ‘ business with which we can deal to-night.
– It will be necessary for us to again go into Committee.
– I would remind the Treasurer that the motion before the Chair is “ That the Committee have leave to sit again’ later this evening.” Do I understand that the Treasurer wishes to amend that motion?
– Yes. I desire leave to amend it by striking out the . words “ at a later hour this evening “ with a view to inserting in lieu thereof the word “ forthwith.”
Question, by leave, amended accordingly, and resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee (Consideration of Senate’s request):
Amylic Alcohol and Fusel Oil, per gallon, 12s. -
Reguest.- Leave out “ ii,” and insert “13.” iu lieu thereof.
.- I move -
That the requested amendment be made.
I may add that the amendment is necessary to remove the anomaly which at present exists, and to place amylic alcohol and fusel oil upon’ the Same basis as spirit n.e.i.
.- I understand that this is a proposal to. amend the schedule of the Excise Tariff Bill so as to place amylic alcohol and fusel oil in the same category as spirit n.e.i. That, it seems to me, is a fair thing to-do.
Motion agreed -to.
Requested amendment made.
Resolution reported ; report adopted.
That the ‘ Bill be returned to the Senate amended accordingly.
.- Included in this Division is 30 item “ Allowances to persons whose election as senators has been declared void.” It covers an allowance to Mr. J. V. O’Loghlin of £240 6s. 4d., and . to Mr. J. Vardon of £166 13s. 4(1.. I wish to say that there are some other allowances being prepared which will be submitted and brought down, in another Estimate.
– Wasnot Mr.
O’Loghlin paid all the time that he occupied a seat in the Senate?
– This amount is intended to validate the payment which was made to’ him. In the next Division, which relates to the House of Representatives, an allowance of ^£99 5s. 7d. is -made to Mr. A. C. Palmer owing to his election as a member of this Chamber having been declared void.
– Has the allowance to Mr. Vardon been paid ?
– Certainly. There are several other items to be submitted in . reference to persons who have been interested in elections since that period. I mention this matter so’ that honorable members may ‘not be under any misapprehension. Later on I propose to bring down another Estimate, but I am not vet in possession of the necessary details. I have urged the persons interested to supply me with those details which will then be referred to the ‘ Crown Law officers for analysis, and for an expression’ of opinion as to whether the claims are just. I ask honorable. members to vote these small amounts now ; and I shall make a statement regarding the whole of these Additional Estimates to-morrow. ‘
– Do I’ understand that these votes are simply to validate the ‘ payments of the parliamentary allowances ?
– Yes; both are for the same purpose. .
– - I cannot really see why the Minister should be so anxious to have these items passed to-night.
– I want to make a commencement with the Additional Estimates.
– It is not clear whether or not this money has been paid.
– It has been paid.
– Then, I understand that these votes are ‘merely to validate the payments?
– I urr- . derstand that on the 1st January, 1907, Mr. Vardon took his seat as senator, and was paid his parliamentary allowance up to 31st May, when his seat ‘was declared to be vacated. Mr. O’Loghlin was subsequently elected, and drew his parliamentary allowance between certain dates ; and there being a doubt. as to the legality of the payments, the Government now seek a ratilication of them by means of these Estimates.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division- 2. (House of Representatives), £200, agreed to.
House adjourned at 9.55 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 19 May 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1908/19080519_reps_3_46/>.