3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Defence Schemed 11419
Tuesday, 26 May
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether he has seen in” the press of to-day the following -
When the fleet was at Magdalena Bay, California, Admiral Thomas made the following request to the associated press : - “ I wish that you would convey my request to the people of California, that, us far as may be possible, they refrain from furnishing the men of the fleet with intoxicating liquors. I would consider it a personal favour ifthey would do so. It is nearly always the case when our men reacha home port that some of the people are inclined to offer them liquor. Many consider it a part of the entertainment, and perhaps it is; but it works a bad end. The men are thus induced to drink, and drink too much. “ On board the ships liquor is prohibited, and the men are unaccustomed to its use. When they get ashore there is no such restraint. On the way around South* America the fleet has made an enviable record for good conduct ashore. It would be exceedingly regrettable if, upon reaching the United States again, this good reputation should be dimmed. “ I appreciate that most people have the best motives onlyin offering liquor to the enlisted men, but it would be better for the men and the navy in general if it were not done. I sincerely trust that it will not be.”
In view of this request on the part of Admiral Thomas, who is in charge of the fleet which will shortly visit Australia, will the Prime Minister issue instructions to the Committees making arrangements for the entertainment of the men that, as a matter of courtesy, the wish of the Admiral in this respect should be conceded?
– I saw for the first time this morning the letter from Admiral Thomas published in the press. At the first meeting of the Joint Committee, held last week, this subject was discussed, as far as it could be, in the absence of knowledge of what the wishes of the American Admiral would be. Subject to that consideration, the genera] feeling’ of the Committee was that undue temptation should not be placed in the way of the sailors..
– Undue temptation! What does that mean?
– As the Committee arrived at no resolution absolutely defining its attitude on this subject, I am not here to make a definite statement; butthefeeling of the Committee was that whilst no temptation should be placed in the way of the sailors, it was undesirable to ignore those who might wish for other than temperance liquors.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral lay upon the table any correspondence relating to the alteration of the Tasmania!) mail service?
– There is very little correspondence on the subject, but what there is I shall be pleased to lay on the table.
– Does the Prime Minister think it fair to take ?250,000 of Customs and Excise revenue for naval and military purposes to protect the property of the wealthy when such money, in the form of indirect taxation, comes for the most part out of the pockets of the never-ending struggling poor? Is he. aware that under such a financial system the great burden of defence oppresses the poor, and allows the rich - who own and control the wealth of Australia - to escape that which is their legitimate liability ? Seeing that the cost of national defence under his proposal brings about this result, will he introduce a Bill to impose a graduated land, income, inheritance, absentee, and wealth tax, so that those who shriek so loudly for naval and military armament in Australia will thus be afforded an opportunity to indorse their lip-loyalty to the Empire and their propertyinspired Australian patriotism with their own sovereigns?
– When I have an opportunity of seeing the honorable member’s elaborate question in print, I can take an early opportunity to consider it.
– I have a question to put without notice to the Prime Minister. I am unable to find in the Budget papers or in those detailing the proposals of the Government in regard to the financial relations of the Commonwealth and the States any definite statement as to the services, other than defence and old-age pensions, for’ which provision is to be made outof the surplus revenue to be withheld . from the States. As the Premier of one State has already started an attack upon the Commonwealth in respect of the Government’s financial proposals, will the Prime Minister make an official statement as to the services which the Government propose to take over from the States, and the additional services for which they propose to provide out of the Commonwealth’s present proportion of Customs and Excise revenue? Further, will the Prime Minister have such a statement circulated for the information of the general public ?
– If the honorable member will move for a return of that character,I shall have much pleasure in allowing the motion to go unopposed.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been called to the following telegram from Lithgow, published in the Sydney, Morning Herald of Saturday, 23rd inst. : -
Mr. Hoskins stated this morning that the blast furnace was working very satisfactorily, and turning out pig-iron equal if not superior to the best Scotch pig. Yet they were not able to sell the local article owing to the fact that the imported article could be sold at a lower price. During one week recently nearly the whole of the product of the furnace of 700 tons was stacked, while on other occasions about 400 tons each week have been stacked. In view of this absence of demand and the excessive cost of manufacture, it will mean that they will have to stop the furnace or get some encouragement either by way of duty or bonus.
In view of this report, I wish to ask the Prime Minister what’ steps he intends to take with regard to the encouragement of this national industry?
– The honorable member is probably aware that the Manufactures Encouragement Bill is still on the business paper, and that its further consideration in Committee was suspended pending the determination of what provisions should be included in the Tariff regarding the importation of iron. Those provisions having been practically settled, the Bill will be proceeded with as soon as possible.
Judgment of High Court
– Seeing that the business of this national Parliament in connexion with new protection is practically hung up owing to the extraordinary delay in the deliverance of judgment in the harvester excise case, does theGovernment think a second High Court necessary to do the work of the country, or is the existing High Court afflicted with an exaggerated form of government stroke?
– If the honorable member had been as well acquainted as most professional men are with the arduous work that the High Court has been discharging, I am sure that he would not have inferred, even by indirect imputation) that there has been any lack of energy or devotion to duty on. the part of the Bench:
– But they are hearing and giving decisions in other cases.
– The honorable member does not discriminate, as lawyers would, between the different categories in which those cases must be placed. The particular case to which he has called attention, and on which he, like all of us, desires to obtain, as early as possible, the judgment of the High Court, is one of the greatest, and probably one of the most complex issues submitted in recent years to a judicial Bench. It is above all things desirable in the public interest, that when such a judgment is given it shall be not only well weighed, as it is sure to be, but as complete and as comprehensive as the circumstances of the case warrant and require.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether he will defer closing the session until the question of the new protection has been dealt with in accordance with his statement that it was portion of the Tariff?
– The Government programme remains unaltered. Whenever the High Court may deliver its judgment, out policy is that the new protection shall be associated with the Tariff.
Mr.Wilks.-The judgment will be delivered this week.
– It has been anticipated - I do not know upon what authority - this week. There is not necessity to prolong this session for the purpose of securing the new protection, inasmuch as whenever the judgment is given, the guidance it affords will enable the Government to proceed with its proposals. That course will be pursued whether it be during this session or next session.
Expenses of Mr. Kennedy
– I wish to ask the Treasurer whether the Government have made provision for payment of the expenses incurred by Mr. Kennedy, one of the candidates for the representation of Echuca at the election which was voided owing to mistakes on the part ofelectoral officers? If they have done so, when will the amount be payable?
– I may tell the honorable member that some delay occurred in furnishing particulars of the claim to which he refers. When I was ready to include in the Additional Estimates not only Mr. Kennedy’s account, but other accounts, I found that I had not received details of the claims. I had to communicate with those concerned, and to urge them to forward these as soon as possible. The claims have since been received, and have been referred for examination to the Crown Law officers. I am now awaiting their reply before presenting the Supplementary Estimates, of which I spoke the other evening, and which I intend asking the House to pass before Parliament prorogues.
– I desire to ask the Treasurer whether he will look into the matter of the wages being paid to labourers employed at the Government Printing Office, who, I understand, are now receiving less than 7s. per day, with a view to seeing if the pay cannot be increased? I understand that a short time ago Mr. Bent showed that an additional expenditure of £67 per annum would enable their wages to be raised to £2 2s. per week.
– I have already madecertain inquiries into this matter, but on the “spur of the moment I do not recollect with what result. I shall be glad to make further inquiries, but it must not be forgotten that the Government Printing Office is a State office, and not a Federal one. > It is very difficult to bring about harmonious relations in reference to all these matters. As I have said, I will make further inquiries and refresh my memory as to what is being done.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether he is in possession of information to the effect that Judge Murray, the Acting Administrator of Papua, whilst sitting on the Executive Council, announced his approval of Lands Office officials holding shares in companies applying for land in that Territory, an action which he has since repudiated, as shown by the papers bearing upon the land scandals that were presented to this Parliament ?
– If the honorable member implies that there is some contradiction involved in the statements made by the Acting Administrator, I confess that I have not noticed it. When refusing authority for land office officials to become applicants for land in Papua it was intimated that the same prohibition would not necessarily apply to their holding shares in some company which was applying for land.
– There is no distinction between them getting land for themselves and being shareholders in a land company.
– There may be a very great distnction. For instance, the veryproper restrictions which are imposed upon honorable members of this House under our Constitution do not apply in regard to a limited liability company in which they may be shareholders. The same doctrine appears to have been adopted by the Act ing Administrator and the Executive Council in Papua before they had received the first communication from us, after we had become aware that these applications on the part of Land Office officials were being dealt with. Our communication imposed: very much more stringent conditions than previously obtained upon officials, even if only holding shares in companies endeavouring to secure grants of land.
– In connexion with the trouble which has arisen in Papua, is it a fact that Mr. Drummond was a member of a syndicate, and not adirect applicant for land ?
– In the first casespeaking from memory - Mr. Drummond was directly interested. I forget whether the application was made only in his name or not. In the second case, he was partner in a syndicate applying for the land. Of course, the honorable member must recollect that the second application was put in by a brother officer - Mr. Pinney - an hour or two in advance of the application of a person who is not a member of the Public Service. It is also recorded in evidence that the application on behalfof the syndicate in which the officers were partners was pressed into a condition of precedence because of the knowledge that a second application was about to be made. In New Guinea,’ owing to the absence of competition, it has become the invariable rule to grant land to the first applicant. Thus, by securing priority in application, one practically secures the land. This attempt to secure priority was made by Mr. Pinney, another officer who intended to be interested in the land referred to.
– Is the Prime Minister in possession of information that Judge Murray, prior to the trouble arising with the land officials in’ New Guinea, stated in the Legislative Council that Lands Office officials may be members of a syndicate applying for land within the Territory ?
– I know that he made a statement as to shareholders in companies, and my impression is that he made it in the Legislative Council.
– Was that prior to the particular case to which reference has been made?
– Yes. That was the first occasion when . Mr. Drummond and other officials were openly interested in an application for land.
– And the Acting Administrator has since denied having made the statement ?
– I think that is not supported by the papers. It is a tenable theory that he had intimated to officers that under certain conditions they mightbe applicants for land. But, as I endeavoured to point out, the second case was not merely an application for land in which, as members of a public company, the officers might thereafter have had an interest, but one in which they pushed forward a certain syndicate applicationto secure priority. This, as I have already explained, would have had the effect of giving them the land, no matter who the second or third applicants might be.
– Was that proved?
– Yes; the proof is conveyed in the judgment of more than one member of the Council, but more particu- larly in the written judgment of Mr. Campbell, the Police Magistrate. It was one determining motive with some members of the Council, when they decided that Mr. Drummond’s action amounted to an attempt to evade the previous instruction, that officers of. the Lands Depart- . ment should not apply.
– Mr. Drummond was not responsible for the preference given to him over an outside applicant.
– No. Mr. Drummond was associated with the application. It was Mr. Pinney, who, as I have said, was associated with both cases - an officer, I believe, in the Treasury - who lodged the application in the manner to which I have referred.
– The Prime Minister, has not’, I think, made the position quite clear. These criticisms and instructions were, I presume, founded on the fact that it had come to the knowledge of the Department of External Affairs that the. Administrator and the Council had approved of lands being applied for by public servants under certain conditions.
– I understand that public servants may participate as members of a company.
– As I say, public servants may apply for land under certain conditions - that is, they may be interested in lands applied for- and I desire to know whether the objections of the Prime Minister had reached ANew Guinea before Mr. Staniforth Smith took part in allowing an application by an official.
– In the first place, Mr. Staniforth Smith’s participation hardly deserves to be characterized even by so strong a word as “ allowing.” The Land Board in Papua had never been called on to exer- cise the function of selection which is continually exercised by Boards of similar denomination in Australia. On the mainland, the Land Boards are appointed chiefly becausethere are rival applicants-; whereas in Papua the quantity of land available has been so much greater than the number of applicants, that there has been practically no judicial duty cast on the Boards. Their task was that of registration before sending on the application to the Council, which had finally to determine its fate. In justice to Mr. Staniforth Smith, let me point out that in no case up to this had there been any real competition for land in New Guinea. That is why the practice arose of giving the land to the first applicant. Practically, there had never been other applicants for the same block-, or, if there had, it had always been possible to satisfy them in the immediate neighbourhood of the land which they desired. Therefore, there had never, as I say, been any obligation cast on the Land Board to exercise judicial functions. ‘ Consequently, when Mr. Staniforth Smith sat on a Board, of which Mr. Drummond was a member, the latter called attention to the fact, in the first case, that he was an applicant, and in the second, when again it was known that he was interested directly or indirectly, Mr. Drummond, was not asked to withdraw, because there was no other officer available at Port Moresby to make the Board complete. The Board had only to discharge what may. be called a clerical function by forwarding the application to the Executive Council, by whom it had really to be decided.
– Without any recommendation.
– The application was sent on witha recommendation. The point is, however, that Mr. Staniforth Smith, at the first opportunity, detailed the whole of the circumstances to the Executive Council. He told the Executive Council that he had asked Mr. Drummond to remain as a member of the Board, because there was no other officer available, and that the whole responsibility of forwarding the application was his own. Mr. Staniforth Smith further reminded the Council that Mr. Drummond was an applicant, or was immediately interested in the second case. He laid all the facts within his knowledge before the Council, so as to enable them to deal with’ both applicationsquite independently of any recommendation of the
Land Board. Mr. Drummond was quite frank about the matter, making no secret of his interest in the applications; and he offered to withdraw from the Board. Mr. Staniforth Smith did not behave in any way improperly, in Papua’ the application to the Board being merely . a formal stage. He made a full disclosure of all the facts to the Executive Council, who, when they came to deal with the matter, refused the first application, and based a charge against Mr. Drummond on the second. Although I have only indirectly replied to the honorable member for North Sydney, I think I have answered the greater part of his question.
– The great point is the time when the instructions reached Papua.
– The question, I understand, is as to the time when the instruction sent by himself reached New Guinea. That instruction was sent directly I saw there was a chance of difficulties arising, although at that . time no difficultyhad actually arisen. Directly the facts came before me, with my experience of the working of land laws in Australia, I saw the mischief of permitting any system under which officers concerned in the surveying and reporting on land were permitted to have an opportunity of competing with the outside public, who had to depend on them for information and assistance when selecting or applying for holdings.
– How could there be a charge based, if everything was above board?
– I have answered that question once, but I shall be glad to answer it again. I am at present speaking only from memory, but, to the best of my belief, my instruction had not arrived before the first case, and I doubt whether it had arrived before the second occurred; but I can let honorable members know in a short time, if necessary.
– That is the whole point, and it is very important.
– Why should there be any reflection on Mr. Staniforth Smith if he were acting with the approval of the Administrator and the Council ?
- Mr. Staniforth Smith laid the case before the Council at once. He said he considered that, in view of the authority given by the Administrator, the mere fact that officers were interested in a syndicate; when that fact was known, need not prohibit them from applying for land. But the charge against Mr. Drummond, based on the second case, had nothing to do with Mr. Staniforth Smith. The charge against Mr. Drummond was that, knowing the first order was meant to exclude anything like active and real competition between officers of the Lands Department and the public outside, he had consented to remain connected with a syndicate which was in competition with an application lodged by a member of the public. This was held to be a deliberate breach of the previous prohibition; of course, it had to be considered in conjunction with all the surrounding circumstances. It was on that charge that Mr. Drummond was, as the House is aware, found guilty, and suspended by a majority of the Council.
asked the Prime Minister upon notice -
– In reply to the honorable member I can state that no arrangements are yet complete, but the whole question is now receiving consideration. It is intended to lay proposals before Parliament before taking any definite action.
Delivery of Parcels Post Matter by Contractors.
asked the PostmasterGeneral upon notice - 1.Whether any of the parcels from the General Post Office, Melbourne, are delivered by contractors who are carriers, and not by postal officials?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Constitutional Rights of House of repre sent ati ve s .
. Before theorder of the day is read for the consideration in Committee of the Senate’s Message No.’ 28, I desire, by permission of the House, to move a motion similar to that which was placed on record in1902, when we were dealing in the same way with the first Tariff passed in the Commonwealth when it had reached the stage which the Tariff now under consideration has reached. I move -
That having regard to the fact that the public welfare demands the early enactment of the Tariff, and pending the adoption of joint Standing Orders, this Houserefrains from the determination of its constitutional rights or obligations in respect to the Message No. 28 received from the Senate in reference to the Customs Tariff Bill of 1907, and resolves to consider it forthwith.
We have standing orders of our own, though these are intended to be subjected to some revision before they are finally adopted. There are no joint standing orders in existence governing the procedure to be followed in dealing with questions which affect both Chambers. Consequently, we are, just as we were in 1902, at large in the absence of any defined method of procedure. A constitutional question might have been raised in 1902, and, speaking from memory, the point was raised then as to whether a second series of requests, or the pressing of requests by the Senate, ought to be entertained by this Chamber. In the absence of standing orders’ dealing with the matter, it was thought wise to waive any constitutional question that might arise, and to deal with the practical question that had arisen, pro- tecting ourselves by a motion of this sort, in order that we might be able to take into consideration without delay the pressing of particular requests by another’ place. That was considered to be a wise course to adopt then, and as, in the absence of joint standing orders, we are still in precisely the same position as we were at that time, and there is the same obligation to the public to dispose of the Tariff as soon as possible, in order to permit business to flow in well ascertained channels, instead of being subject to the doubts and hesitations in which it would be plunged if the Tariff were set aside whilst constitutional questions were argued between the two Houses, it would, I think be well to adopt the same course on this occasion. In the circumstances, we protect our rights in future by this motion which I trust the House will agree to.
– What is the particular stage at which it is considered that such a motion is desirable ?
– There is no provision in the Constitution for our dealing with requests from the Senate with a message returning aCustoms Tariff Bill for the second time. The Constitution is silent upon the question, and as we have not yet made any joint standing orders, we are, so to speak, at large in the matter of practice.
– The words “ at any stage “ are used in the section of the Constitution dealing with the matter.
– In order to preserve any rights which this House may have, when joint standing orders are being drafted, this motion is submitted to show that we have recognised that there is a question to be settled, and that we are guarding ourselves against the presumption that we are agreeing to it’s being settled by the actual mode of procedure that is being adopted. We are safeguarding any rights we may have to alter this method of facing such a situation another time.
– Is it the pleasure of the House that the Prime Minister have leave to move the motion without notice?
– Cannot the motion be debated ?
– It can be debated, but as it is submitted without notice it cannot be put from the Chair without leave. There being no objection, I shall put the motion.
– So far as the constitutional rights of this
House are concerned they cannot be determined by any Standing Orders, whether made by this House or by the two Houses of the Federal Parliament.
– The motion means merely that we do not insist upon our rights on this occasion.
– All constitutional rights which affect this or the other Chamber, or both, can be determined only by the Constitution itself. But I see no objection at. all to the motion submitted by the Prime Minister. It follows a precedent set upon another occasion. My own view of the matter, on the spur of the moment, is that there is really no right of this Chamber involved in the return of a Bill for the second time with requests from the Senate to this Chamber. I do not see any constitutional difficulty in the matter. But in order to preserve any rights that others may think we have, I think the course proposed is not inappropriate.
.- I am not quite sure that the course proposed will preserve the rights of this Chamber. The fact that we took this course in 1902, and to-day propose to follow the same procedure, will possibly create a precedent which may be followed for all time. It is quite evident that when the Constitution was framed, it was held that the Senate should not, by way of amendment, interfere with financial Bills or taxation. To overcome the difficulty it was proposed that the Senate should be empowered to make suggestions.
– Their repetition becomes insistence upon amendments.
– I remind honorable members that we have already received suggestions from the Senate for the amendment of the Customs Tariff. Bill. We have agreed to some, and have refused to accept others. My opinion is that when we dealt with the suggestions of the Senate, the matterended so far as this House is concerned, and the Senate should not be allowed to take any other course than to accept the Bill in the form in which we returned it after having considered the suggestions made–
– Or throw out the Bill.
– If the Senate finds that it cannot agree with the Bill in the form in which we returned it, after having dealt with its suggestions, it should take the responsibility ofrejecting the Bill. The Senate is doing nothing of the kind.
It has returned the Bill again to this House with certain further requests. I appeal to the leader of the Opposition, and other honorable members representing New South Wales and Victoria, to recognise the real position. The Senate is not constituted in the same way as the House of Representatives. The small State of Tasmania has as much power in the Senate as have either of the large States of New South Wales and Victoria. Inthese circumstances, we are placing in the hands of the Senate a power out of all proportion to the measure of its representation of the people as compared with their representation in this House.
– Surely we did not forget that when we passed increases of duties which the Senate suggested?
– That is a very different matter from that with which we are dealing to-day. I hold that the Senate had a perfect right to make certain suggestions for the amendment of the Tariff as passed by this House, but this House having considered those suggestions, and having accepted some, and refused to accept others, the powers of the Senate in the matter are exhausted, and it cannot suggest further amendments, but should take the responsibility of accepting or rejecting the Customs Tariff Bill as sent from this House, after its suggestions had been considered. Now it appears that we are to have the Bill bandied about between the two Houses, and we are invited to believe that the motion moved by the Prime Minister will protect our rights in the matter. As a matter of fact, it will not protect our rights at all, because the very fact that we are taking this course time after time can be cited, when a similar occasion arises, as a. reason why we should take the same course again. We have practically established a precedent. It is of no use trying to make ourselves believe that everything will be made right by passing the joint Standing Orders. These have now been for some years before this House, after having been considered by the Standing Orders Committee, but have not yet been dealt with. An understanding can be arrived at, so far as those joint standing orders are concerned, only by making certain compromises with the Senate . But this House has. no right to make compromises with the Senate in the matter of our powers with regard to money Bills. We must be guided entirely by the directions of the Constitu tion, and we are bound to settle definitely what the proper interpretation of the Constitution is with regard to this question. The matter is a serious one, and I very much regret that the House at the end of a long session happens to be in. such an unfortunate and tired state that it does not care to go into the matter thoroughly, every one desiring that the Tariff question shall be settled at the earliest possible moment. Thevery fact that the Senate is constituted on an entirely different basis from this House should be sufficient in itself to lead those who represent at all events the larger States to make a strong stand against the action of that Chamber.
– I am pleased that the honorable member for Kennedy has taken the stand he has. His speech throws light on the casting votes which he gave as Chairman of Committees in regard to several items on whichthe Senate had requested amendments. I believe he. felt that the Senate in making requests for increased taxation were taking to themselves taxing powers’ that they had no right to take. Apparently the position is whether the convenience of the public in having the Tariff passed is of greater importance than the settlement of the relative powers of the two Chambers. It is of no use for us to mark up on the door of the Senate “No taxing powers,” while at the same time giving them power to tax. They have sent down one set of requests, and now they are repeating and insisting upon those to which we did not accede. It will be found that those requests are mostly for increased taxation, and, therefore, they are, in effect, insisting on the power of taxation.
– They are increasing their own proposals in some cases.
– That is so. The question is - Are the. Government prepared, or not, to take a strong stand on this matter? Is not the House prepared to take up a firm attitude? One House must give way. The Senate have already repeated some of their requests. Are we to understand that if we reject those requests a second time the Senate will accept our decision, or further press them ? If they do press them again, there will be, comparatively speaking, a deadlock. I approve of the stand taken by the Chairman of Committees. It shows, as I said, that his casting vote must have been given in Committee with a view to prevent the Senate from exercising the power of taxation. His contention that the Senate is not composed in the same way as this House shows that the course proposed by the Government will make the Senate stronger than the Constitution intended that it should be. In 1902, as the Prime Minister said, we wrote oyer the door of the Senate, “ No taxing powers,” and then passed the matter by. Every time we run away from the issue in that fashion, the Senate will become stronger. If, on this occasion, they resist our action with regard to twenty items, they will do so next time with regard to forty items. If they can do that, why should they not take the full power of taxation into their own hands ? If, on this occasion, we adopt the course proposed by the Prime Minister, I hope that we shall send back to the Senate, rejected, every one of their requests.
.- I desire also to support the view taken by the honorable member for Kennedy. A distinction was undoubtedly made in the Constitution between the powers of the two Houses with regard to money Bills, and rightly so, because this House represents the people in the mass, while the Senate represents them in States, and financial questions are not questions which affect the States as States. The Constitution, therefore, laid down a deliberate distinction between the powers of the Houses with regard to measures of taxation. Such measures can be initiated only in this Chamber, and the Senate has no power to amend them. What the Senate are trying to do now amounts to a distinct assertion of equality of power with regard to money Bills, and in some cases of their right to initiate taxation. The Constitution provides that theSenate shall have no power to amend money Bills, but that they may make requests for alterations or omissions, the intention being to make a distinction between an amendment and a request. If the power of making requests can be insisted upon for any length of time, there is not the slightest difference between a power of amendment and a power of request. The introduction of the method of making requests was intended to convey some power less than the power of making amendments. Obviously, therefore, the Constitution intended that the power of making requests should not be insisted upon. A request can be made’ which we may or may not grant, and there the matter should end. If it meansanything further than that - if a continued insistence on requests is allowed - there is no sense in saying that the Senate cannot make amendments. In these circumstances, it seems to me that the House will be abrogating its powers and privileges as the Chamber representing the masses of the people if it gives way in the fashion proposed. I agree with the honorablemember for Kennedy that if we admit on this occasion, as we did in 1902, the power of the Senate to press requests, notwithstanding that we carry a sort of pious resolution that we are not really giving way, we shall, as a matter of actual fact, be giving way. The fact is that we are giving way, although we say that we are not. We are saying in effect, “ While we are giving way, we are onlydoing so on this occasion.” We said the same in 1902, and the excuse now, as it was then, is that the pressure of public business renders this course necessary. But will not the pressure of public business always render it necessary ? Can we expect ever to have an occasion when we can take as much time as we like to settle the question of the relative rights of the two Houses? The question ought to be considered on this Bill, which represents absolutely the most important expression of the money powers of this Chamber. Proposals for taxation are the very proposals which render it essential that this House should make a firm and determined stand to protect its rights. No occasion could be stronger than this one.
– Have a double dissolution - that is the only weapon we have.
– But we are not using the weapons that we have. The proper thing to do is to assert the principle that this House alone has the power of imposing taxation, and that the Senate has no power of insisting upon its requested amendments being made. If the power of insistence is granted, it amounts to a power of amendment. If this House were to take up a determined stand on the question, the Senate would, I think, recognise the true constitutional position, and would give way. Otherwise, it would have to take the responsibility of throwing out the Tariff. On the other hand, if this House gives way on every occasion, our power goes by default, and the Senate is placed on an absolute equality with us in regard to money Bills.
.- I was one of those who in the Convention did my best to secure equal powers to the Senate and House of Representatives in regard to all Bills. But that view was not adopted. I do not say that at present I have any regret for what was determined, but the power to amend money Bills was refused to the Senate, whilst the power of making requests was granted.. I submit that the procedure which we have adopted in dealing with the Senate’s requests has resulted in giving greater power to that House than it would have had if the Constitution had secured to it the power to amend. We may leave out of consideration the possibility of either House laying this Bill aside. Neither House has any intention of doing anything of the kind. The laying aside of an important measure of this character is not likely to occur amongst reasonable persons. But the fact remains that the power of submitting requests has been so used, that duties have been increased at the instigation of the Senate. In fact,’ for all practical purposes, the Senate has originated taxation - power to do which is actually denied by the Constitution - by requesting increased burdens on the people, and which requests this House has adopted. I blame the Government for that. Had it not been for the anxiety of Ministers, improperly, I contend, to obtain increased duties, and thereby to impose greater burdens on the people than this House was originally Willing to impose, the Government should have refused to allow the Senate to usurp a power which it has no right to exercise by opposing its requests. In their desire to get their own way and to increase Customs duties, the Government have yielded, ‘ improperly, in my opinion, to the Senate, and that House has consequently practically increased taxation on its own initiative. This House occupies’ a very unsatisfactory position in consequence of the course which has been adopted. Leaving out of considerationfor the moment the, question whether the Senate has or has not the right to request increases of duties - and I say that it has no such right - it certainly is a fact that this House, under the Constitution, possesses the exclusive power of originating taxation. It should, therefore, have refused to agree to any proposed increase of taxation emanating from the other Chamber. I do not take exception to the course now proposed to be taken under the circumstances. We know that time is short. I suppose that . time always will be short, and that we shall be in the same difficulty on every occasion when the same power is asserted by the Senate. At the same time, I certainly do not think that We are exercising and protecting our rights to the same extent as the Senate is trying to increase its powers. That House has increased its powers, first of all by suggesting increased burdens upon the people, a right not conferred by the Constitution; and, secondly, by insisting a second time on requests having that object in view. How many times messages of this description can go backwards and forwards between the two Houses, I am not aware. It appears that we have given up any rights in regard to the matter which we had.
– Why did not the right honorable member take that view when he was a member of the Ministry which took the same course in regard to the first Tariff?
– The honorable member is always interrupting with observations as to by-gone times. As a matter of fact, I was in London at the time referred to, and consequently, took no part in it. If he is ever a member of a Ministry, and acts as independently and conscientiously as I have done, he will do very well. I know what is due to a Government of which I am a member, and to the head of that Government. I have always shown my appreciation of what is due to my colleagues and shall always do so. As far as I can see, there is no other course to pursue in present circumstances than that proposed by the Prime Minister. At the same time, I regret very much the confused position in which this House is now placed.
Colonel FOXTON (Brisbane) [3.57]- I agree with the honorable member for Boothby that by adopting the motion which has been proposed by the Prime Minister we are practically surrendering any rights that we may possess. In 1902, there was some excuse for this procedure, because then there had been no time for this House to consider maturely and adopt standing orders for itself. I was much surprised when I became a member of this House to find it working under standing orders which were, I believe, originally those of the Parliament of South Australia.
– They were compiled from the Standing Orders of different States ; not only of South Australia, but also of Queensland and New South Wales.
Colonel FOXTON.- I understand that the task of drafting new standing- orders was referred to a Committee, but this House has not yet taken the trouble to consider the Committee’s report. The matter has been allowed to remain in abeyance. With all respect to’ the House, I must say that it is not altogether creditable that such a state of affairs should exist. I was at first inclined to agree that it is not desirable that the privilege or right claimed by the Senate should be conceded to it. But after more mature consideration, I am inclined to think that itwas rather an advantage that the practice which obtained in 1902, and which is about to be repeated, should be made perpetual. I believe that where there are opportunities for the interchange of views by messagebetween the two Houses, there is less likelihood of there being a deadlock on a matter such as the Tariff, as might be the case if the Senate were limited to sending one set of requests only.
– How far will this procedure go?
Colonel FOXTON. - If the Prime Minister’s motion is carried, the effect will be to revert to the practice established in 1902. If only one of the Senate’s requests be adopted, there is immediately shown to be justification for the second message. As to the constitutional question, I was at first inclined to think that the Senate had no such constitutional right as it appears to assert. But, on looking at the section of the Constitution, I find that it is a privilege of the Senate to send requests of this sort “ at any stage.”
– There is no power to enforce a request, though.
Colonel FOXTON.- The Senate has what is practically a right of enforcing its opinion by rejecting the Bill. Whether they have the right to send down one set of suggestions, or half-a-dozen sets, they can reject the Bill as a whole. But there is less liklihood of “a Bill being rejected if there are continuous opportunities given to the Houses to meet upon common ground by way of message. For that reason, I think there is no very great danger to the people of Australia and to their rights as represented here if the practice which was adopted in 1902 is followed on. this occasion.
– What is the difference between the power of suggestion and the power of amendment?
Colonel FOXTON.- I never did see much difference between the two. powers.
– It is merely the difference between Tweedledum and Tweedledee.
Colonel FOXTON. - It is merely a distinction in name without any difference, because if the Senate’s suggestions are not adopted on the first occasion or on subsequent occasions, it always has the power of saying, “If you do not adopt our suggestions in the same way as if they were actual amendments we will throw out the Bill.” That is all that any second Chamber can do where it has not, and even where it has, the right of amendment.
-The difference between Mr. Smith and Mr. Smyth represents the difference between the two powers.
Colonel FOXTON. - That is so. For that reason I do not view with the same amount of alarm as some honorable members appear to do the adoption of this course, although,as I said before, Iw as inclined to be of a contrary opinion some time ago. I do not know who compose the Standing Orders Committee,but having regard to the position in whichwe find ourselves to-day, it should be patent to the House that it is extremely desirable not only that permanent standing orders should be adopted either with or without amendment as recommended by the Standing Orders Committee, but also that joint standing orders should be adopted as soon as possible.
– I take it that if it was the intention of the FederalConvention that the Senate should have the power which it now claims, it would have been set out very clearly in the Constitution. To my mind, it is a dangerous thing that, whereas in one House two States have each six senators, in the people’s House,’ which was constituted on the basis of population, one of those States has only five representatives, and the other twenty-seven.If it was intended to give the Senate an equal voice with this House concerning money Bills, I venture to say that the intention ‘would have been set out very clearly in the Constitution. But it was emphatically the intention of its framers that, while the Senate might exercise the power of suggestion for the purpose of a proposition being reconsidered by this House, if should not have the right to press its suggestions time after time, and try toforce down our throat an amendment - for that is what it amount’s to - because of its numbers. I askhonorable members to consider this list of suggested amendments. From my stand-point on the fiscal question it containsmany suggestions which I should like to see adopted, but we have come to that stage, I take it, when we ought to put aside all fiscal controversy, and to recognise one fundamental necessity, and that is the preservation of the control of this House over money Bills. Is the House going to surrender its powers, and allow the Senate to practically amend money Bills?
– That is exactly what it has been doing.
– Precisely. We went too far when we complied with the Senate’s requests for increases of duties, and, it has taken advantage of our action. It is only human nature that it should. In the case of the first Customs Tariff Bill, the Senate tried on several things.
– If we had refused to comply with its suggestions’, then it would not have tried it on again.
– Exactly. I venture to think that if we accept some of these suggestions and reject the others, the Senate will send down the rejected requests again.
– We ought to return them all rejected.
– This is no party question. It is not a question of whether this is to be a high or low Tariff, but a question of maintaining therights and privileges of the House. It is about time that its leader, the Prime Minister, gave us some advice. I feel very strongly about the matter. I have indicated that if there were a chance of dealing with the suggestions, it is probable that, from my. fiscal stand-point, I might favour some of them, but I want to put them all on one side. I ask every honorable member to regard the situation from a much broader stand-point than that of fiscalism, and to maintain the- powers and privileges of this House. If we give way now, we might as well grant to the Senate full power in regard to every money Bill - initiation and everything else.
.- I think it may be fairly said that,’ under the Constitution, the Senate has only the power of suggestion at one stage of a Bill. In section 53, the phrase used is “at any stage.” After its third reading here, the Customs Tariff Bill was forwarded to the Senate, and for the second time it has been returned at exactly the same stage. I con sider that the thanks of the House are due to the honorable member for Kennedy for drawing attention to that fact. I feel that the Government are leading us on a > wrong road in proposing to assent to what has been done. This House has the sole power of dealing with money Bills, ‘but, in spite of that fact, it is proposed to allow the Senate to make recommendation after recommendation at the same stage. I think that it is a fair argument and a fair reading of section 53 of the Constitution to say that the Senate has the right to make suggestions once and once only, and that is when it receives a Bill from this House after its third reading here. When the Senate sent down its first message to this House, it had exhausted its. power of suggestion, and when we disagreed with any of its requests it had no right to make further requests in regard to the Bill.
– One House will have to back down in-order to get finality.
– In all cases one House has to back down.
– But which House has to back down?
– We had an opportunity of compromising or agreeing to the Senate’s proposals. In a large number of instances we took the latter course, and those proposals were settled, I contend. There is no other stage at which the Senate can act. Where we have rejected any proposals of the Senate, I submit that it has no right to further request amendments. It must reject the Bill if it disagrees with our decisions. It has exhausted its powers of request, and if this House once consents to allow message after message to be sent down covering requests, it might just as well give to the Senate equal powers in regard to all money Bills.
– I was rather pleased to hear some representatives of the smaller States speak as they did regarding the power of the Senate. I regret to say that. I cannot altogether hold with their view. I should like their view to be the correct one, and that is that the Senate has not the right to make a suggestion more than once. I should be very glad to believe that that was the constitutional position.
– The honorable member would not mind if the Senate did not have the power to make one suggestion?
– Decidedly. I am against the Senate altogether. I should like to see that Chamber abolished.I voted twice against the acceptance ofthe draft Constitution, because it contained provision for a bi-cameral Legislature, whereas I’ was in favour of having a single House of Parliament. But the people of New South Wales were given to understand that the Senate would have the right to press its requests again and again. When, at Parramatta, Mr. Justice Barton was asked the difference between a suggestion and an amendment, he said that it was the difference between Tweedledum and Tweedledee, and Mr. Justice Higgins who, in New South Wales and Victoria, took an active part in opposing the acceptance of the draft Constitution, speaking of some of its defects referred to clause 53 in this way -
In this Bill (section 53)you will find words to the effect that the Senate may not amend the principal Money Bills - Bills imposing taxation and Bills appropriating revenue for the “ordinary annual services of the Government.” But if you look a little further on, you will find that the Senate can “request” amendments, and can keep on “ requesting “ as often as it likes. The Senate can send down “ requests “ atany stage. I say there is no material difference between the Senate proposing amendments to the House, and requesting amendments to the House. Calling it a different name does not alter the true nature of the thing. But as if we had not enough difficulties already to face, this Bill throws an apple of perpetual discord between the two Houses. This precious distinction between “ requests “ and “amendments” will lead to continual friction between the two Houses in Appropriation Bills.
In another speech, reported in the Sydney Daily Telegraph, he said that the Senate could request amendments at any stage ; not once, but as often as if liked.
– What was said on the other side?
– It is only fair to Mr. Justice Higgins to add that when, during the consideration of the Customs Tariff Bill of 1902, I quoted these remarks, in this Chamber while he was present, he stated that his views then differed somewhat from the conclusions which I had read. But the extract which I have cited is from a report of a speech revised by him. I should be glad to know that the views there expressed were not correct. We, in New South Wales, who voted against the acceptance of the Constitution, did so mainly because of the power which the instrument gave to the Senate. I have never opposedthe Union of the States; I have always been in favour of unification, and the substitution of a national for the States Parliaments. But the impression conveyed to the people of the smaller States, as I proved on a former occasion by reading a long extract from the Adelaide Advertiser, was that the Senate, in regard to money, as well as to other Bills, would have rights equal with those of the House of Representatives.
– That was distinctly refused by the Convention.
– The Convention gave the Senate the right to make suggestions. I do not wish to allow that Chamber to exercise powers which it does not possess, and if by fair and legitimate means I could cripple any of its powers, or take them away, I should do so. But if the Senate has the right to make requests repeatedly, it is useless for us to passthe motion submitted by the Prime Minister. If Ministers think that the Senate has not the right to make requests more “than once, they should fight the question now, while if they agree with Mr. Justice Higgins that it can press its requests as often as it likes, they should withdraw the motion, and proceed to the consideration of the Senate’s message. Should it be proved that the Senate has the right to make requests only once, its powers will be known tobe much smaller than I fear them to be.
– Are not the relative powers of the two Chambers indefinite, and ought we not therefore to determine them ?
– I do not profess to know the legal position. If there is any doubt as to the right of the Senate to press its requests, we should fight the matter now, and have it definitely settled. . But we have had no such statement ‘from. the. constitutional lawyers , who are members of the House,’ while, on the other hand, Mr. Justice Higgins, an able and prominent member of the Convention, made it one of the strong objections to’ the acceptance of the draft Constitution that the Senate could, even in regard to a Tariff Bill, press its requests as often as it thought fit. We should have some clear pronouncement from Ministers of their views of the rights of the Senate. If the Chamber has the right to press its requests, they should not waste more time with this motion ; if they think it has not, we should fight the matter.
– Will Ministers vote on the motion, or do they intend to walk out of the chamber when it is put ?
– Perhaps they will walk out. I do not know yet whether they have made up their minds; but I, for one, should be glad to know definitely what their opinions are, so that I may take one side or the other.
– Whatever may be the views taken by honorable members in regard to the constitutional question at issue, the motion of the Prime Minister is not calculated to add to the dignity or efficiency of the House, or to settle the point. It rather leaves it open, inviting further differences which may be of more serious consequence than that now existing. But there is another aspect of the matter which has not yet been put before the House. It seems to me that in this, and in all similar cases, in which ‘a message comes from another place which it is doubtful that the Senate hasthe constitutional right to send, there is thrown upon you, Mr. Speaker, the responsibility of determining whether it is properly before us. Your position, as Speaker, is not defined in the Constitution, but it is referred to. It carries with it the whole authority and power of the position of Speaker of the House of Commons, with this difference : that the House of Commons is part of a unified Parliament, in connexion with which there cannot occur such difficulties as arise under a written Constitution defining the respective rights of the two Houses of a Legislature.
– The House of Commons is the interpreter of its own Constitution.
– It makes it from day to day.
– In one sense, too this House may be the interpreter of its own Constitution in matters of this kind ; but, so far as I. understand the question, you, Mr. Speaker, are the only existing authority who, so far as this House is concerned, has to determine whether this message is properly before us. In your capacity as Speaker, sir, you have given a ruling, with which, I think, we all agree - whatever difference of opinion there may have been at the time the question was raisedupon the validity of a previous message from the Senate. You were then asked to determine whether it was a message. The same responsibility, I submit, falls uponyou at this stage, and the question raised undoubtedly involves the interpretation of the Constitution for a specific purpose. But the interpretation of our Constitution does not rest wholly upon the High Court. It is not wholly within what is known as the judicial power of the Commonwealth. As I understand it, the judicial power of the Commonwealth is distinct from what is ordinarily known as the executive and the legislative power. It is a Department which metes out justice - which carries out the laws of this Parliament, as Well as of others.
– The honorable member does not carry that argument so far as to say that the High Court will not ultimately determine our powers here?
– Certainly, I do. I hold that the High Court not only cannot entertain, but would not dream of entertaining, this question in any shape or form. Once an Act is placed upon the statute roll, the High Court has no more power to determine how it came there than any of us who are uninvested with authority.
– It has a right to determine whether it should be there.
– It has not. I think that theAttorney-General will concur in my statement that it has always been held that no matter what the Standing orders, regulations, or provisions, in regard to the two Houses may be, no matter what the constitutional -
– Take the case of a measure which the Constitution provides shall be carried by a certain majority. Would not the High Court consider whether that provision had been complied with ?
– That provision, of itself, would have’ no. effect on the validity of the Act. It would be perfectly right for the GovernorGeneral to be advised not to give his assent to a Bill which had not complied with the constitutional requisites; but I have not heard it arguedthat the High Court can go behind an Act of Parliament, which has received the Royal assent, and inquire whether it was passed by the requisite majority, or what messages in regard to it passed between the two Houses of Parliament, and then say, “ We think that this is not an Act of Parliament.”
– Would not the Court inquire into such matters?
– The Court has to determine whether an Act comes within the constitutional powers of the Parliament; but I have never heard it suggested that it can institute an inquiry into the particular steps taken in connexion with it in Parliament before it was passed.
– Hear, hear.
– It cannot inquire’ whether an Act was passed by the majority required by theConstitution ?
– Not unless there is something entirely new introduced in connexion with the powers of our High Court - something which has never been claimed, so far as I am aware, either in the United Kingdom or in the United States. The United States has a Federal Constitution, but I do not think that it has ever been suggested that a Court there has a right when determining the validity of a law to question any of the steps that have been taken during its progress through Parliament.
– Would not that arise from the fact that before a Bill is presented for the Royal assent the Attorney-General has to certify that all the requisites have been complied with?
– It does not arise from that fact, but the honorable member has made a very apposite remark. The position I have mentioned does not arise from the fact that the Attorney-General must so certify ; but the Attorney -General has to do so, because a measure becomes law as soon as it receives the Royal assent, and usage has always insisted on that security. In Australia, before , the final act of granting the Royal assent to a Bill - so that from that time forward it can be regarded by the Courts only as an Act of Parliament - the practice is that the Attorney -General shall advise - as is done in Great Britain - that it is fit to be presented, and that it complies with a number of requisite’s that are mentioned in the instructionsissued to the GovernorGeneral or the Governor as the case may be.
– The Speaker of the House generally certifies that a Bill has been passed by the requisite majority.
– I accept the honorable member’s statement. Mr. Speaker and also the Attorney-General are asked to give certificates.
– That has to be done in the case of every Bill.
– Such a practice is merely a precaution to prevent any Bill which, in its mode of passing through the
House, has not complied with constitutional requirements from receiving the Royal assent. - But it has never been suggested that once that assent has been granted any Court has a right to question the mode in which a Bill has been passed : to say whether the majority by which it was passed or whether the form of the messages passing from one House to another in connexion with it was such as to leave it within the Constitution. Let us take as an illustration what took place, Mr. Speaker, when you were asked recently to give your ruling on the point of order raised by the right honorable mem- . ber for Swan, that the Senate in making -requests for increases of duty had . exceeded its powers under the Constitution. Suppose that you had determined that it was wrong for the Senate to request any increase of duty, and that at the same time we received a message containing requests for reductions of duty in the case of 150 items, and one small request for an increase ofduty. Let us assume that’ that one request for an increase passed unnoticed, that the message was dealt with, and the Bill became law. Could it be suggested that in such circumstances the Courts would have a right to examine into the records of the two Houses, to turn to the evidence of the papers or messages passing between them, andto say finally, “ Yes, we find that at one stage a message was sent by the Senate to the House of Representatives actually containing a request for an increase of duty, and that that request was unnoticed by honorable members, and effect was given to the message”? Such a position would be altogether impracticable. The Courts could never arrogate to themselves the right to inquire into those matters, and in my opinion, the High Court would never venture to do so. If that view is right, then the position is that we are either dealing with a message under section 53 of the Constitution, or there is nothing before us. I understand that, following the usual practice, a messenger from another place placed this message in the hands of the Clerk, and that, as soon it is was handed to you, sir, the Prime Minister moved the motion now before the House. The message being in your hands at the present time, and the Prime Minister having moved this motion, I desire to request your ruling on the point of order whether there is any message, under section ‘53, before the House. It must be decided, and you, Mr.
Speaker, are the only authority within the four corners of the Constitution who, so far as this House is concerned, can decide it. I do not want to press very strongly the arguments one way or the other. If I may say so, with all respect, I was entirely in favour of the view which you took on the point of order raised on the first message on the Customs Tariff Bill received from the Senate. You then held that the Senate hada right to send a message requesting increases as well as decreases of duty. That is a very different question from the one now before us.
– I do not think so.
– There is room for a difference of opinion on that point, but the question now before us is, in my view, a very different one. Section 53 of the Constitution provides that -
The Senate may at any stage return to. the House of Representatives any proposed law which the Senate may not. amend; requesting, by message, the omission or amendment of any items or provisions therein. . . .
It seems to me that, whilst that provision may be wide enough to include one or more requested amendments, yet, reading the section as a whole, the intention was that at any particular stage the Senate might return the whole Bill, and that the. Senate has no power to send a message without returning with it the Bill to which it relates. The message must be accompanied by the Bill to which it relates. I suppose that at the present moment, Mr. Speaker, the Customs Tariff Bill is in your hands, and the only question is whether this message is one that can be sent down from another place. It seems to me that it is not a matter that’ can be solved by any motion such as the Prime Minister has brought forward ; that upon you, Mr. Speaker, rests the responsibility of deciding the question so far as this House is concerned. If by any chance the House disagreed with the view that you took on such an extremely important point as this - and I admit that the responsibility cast upon you is a very grave one - it has a constitutional way of disagreeing with your ruling. I should not think it likely that it would do so, but it is in this way alone that the House is master of the question. You, sir, as Speaker, are the only authority that can determine it, and this House can only affect your determination by disagreeing with your ruling if it should desire to do so. I therefore ask you to determine whether this is a message that can be sent down from the Senate under section 53 of the Constitution?
– I do not know whether you, sir, will give a ruling uponthe point raised by the honorable member, butI am inclined to think that, under present circumstances, we ought not to ask you to do so. I would remind the honorable member for Flinders of the old saying, which dates back some hundreds of years, to the time of Speaker Lenthal, that the Speaker has eyes to see and ears to hear only as the House shall direct him. In these matters he is the servant of the House, and therefore the servant of the Standing Ordersadopted by the House.
– But the British Parliament does not work under a written Constitution.
– I am aware of that. But the fact that we do work under a written Constitution does not relieve us of the obligation to frame such standing orders as shall accurately and fairly determine our own procedure in so far as we can do that under the Constitution. Questions regarding the validity of any of our Acts must ultimately be determined by the High Court.
– Not in the present case, surely ?
– I am not so sure that circumstances cannot arise in connexion with the procedure adopted between the two Houses which would raise the question of the validity of an Act. Suppose, for instance, that both Houses agreed’ to certain rates of duty, and to a certain wording of the various items connected with those rates, and that the Senate subsequently altered the rates and the wording? There is a standing order of the House of Commons, which dates back to time immemorial, to the effect that any matter which has been agreed to by both Houses cannot be re-opened. The transgression of that law, I venture to say,would goa long way toward invalidating any Act passed by this Parliament, if its validity were questioned before the High Court.
– The Governor- General can suggest certain amendments.
Colonel Foxton. - Not after he has given his assent to any Bill.
– I am assuming a case in which the rates of duty have been altered - in which the validity of a Bill that has received the. assent of the Governor -General has afterwards been questioned before the High Court.
– Suppose that a Bill had to. be passed by a statutory majority, and that it obtained a statutory majority of one, if the High Court were entitled to go behind that Act at all, could it not investigate the question whether any honorable member improperly held his seat in this House?
– I do not think that that consideration would be quite relevant. However, we need not discuss this matter’ at the present stage. I submit that, until we frame joint standing orders, we must accept responsibility for what is now being done. It is not right that Mr. Speaker should be saddled with that responsibility unless he chooses to accept it voluntarily. If he does so, we may be grateful to him for interposing to do something which from time immemorial he has been under not the slightest obligation to do. I repeat that it rests’ with you, sir, to say whether you will give this ruling or not. I do not think that we ought to ask you to give it, and so relieve us. from the responsibility which rightly devolves upon us. It is our own fault thatwe find ourselves in this position, seeing that we ought to have passed joint standing orders long ago.
– They would not help us.
– I think that they would.
– In what way would they help us?
– I shall not discuss the matter further. In the absence of standing orders and of precedents of any kind to guide us, the responsibility for determining this question rests with the House, and we shall not discharge our duty by endeavouring to transfer it to the shoulders of Mr. Speaker. .
Colonel Foxton. - This motion will not determine it. .
– No, it waives the whole question as we did before. I have grown tired of raising questions in this House relating to standing orders and procedure. During the first three years that I was a member of the Parliament - owing to the imperfect standing orders that were in operation - I was in constant trouble with Mr. Speaker and the Chairman of Committees. I dropped that kind of thing. I could get no assistance in the House, and consequently the questions Which I raised were allowed to go by the board. Now, after seven’ years have elapsed, we are still without adequate pro vision in respect of Standing Orders,and are still to a large extent dependent upon what Mr. Speaker in his wisdom may deem to be right. I submit that he is the servant of the House, and as such, equally with every other honorable member) is bound by the Standing Orders that we adopt.
.- Upon the question of your ruling, which has just been invited by the honorable member for Flinders, may I be permitted to suggest that reference to a previous debate shows that when this question was first raised in 1902, you stated the difficulty to the House? It was possible then for the House to have adopted one of three courses. It could have admitted that the Senate was within its rights in transmitting the message which it did, it could have denied that it was within its constitutional rights in transmitting that message, or it could have put the question of rights aside, pending the passing of joint standing orders, having in view the enormous practical importance to the whole community of the settlement of the first Federal Tariff. Upon that occasion a division was taken, and the proposal submitted was fortunate enough to receive the support of the greater number of those who have taken an adverse view of it today.
– Was a division taken upon it?
– Yes, and by a large majority the motion which I had the honour to submit was carried. The honorable member himself supported it, so that he is in no respect inconsistent in the argument which he has just addressed to the House. Why was that course adopted ? It was recognised that’ honorable members are inclined to place the largest interpretation upon any references to their own powers under the Constitution, and consequently by implication to restrict those of’ the other Chamber.
– If I remember aright, upon that occasion the Senate had made very large reductions in the Tariff schedule.
– Yes, and what was sauce for reductions upon that occasion is sauce for increases on the present occasion. The House then had to consider whether it would raise this important constitutional question at thatstage, thus imperilling the work of some twelve months upon the Tariff schedule, or whether it would put the question aside pending the adoption of joint standing orders. T hese would not in any respect alter the constitutional powers conferred upon either House, but might have proved a means of arranging a modus vivendi that we could consent to adopt.
Colonel Foxton. - That is really interpreting.
– In this case it is interpreting, but it is interpreting by supplement and addition to the existing words of the Constitution. We are driven back at present’ upon the intent of those words. The words themselves leave us very much at sea. They are capable of two interpretations, and each House will naturally place upon them that which is most favorable to itself. But for pressing practical reasons the House in 1902 put the question aside pending a certain contingency. During the interval we have been so closely occupied that we have not been able to approach the task of arranging a modus vivendi by the adoption of joint standing orders.
– The adoption of joint standing orders would not overcome this particular difficulty:
– It would be unlikely to do so, but the course of framing joint . standing orders might involve a settlement of this question. I can conceive that that is possible, though it is not very probable. But joint standing orders have not been adopted, and consequently we find ourselves, in a sense, in the same position to-day that we occupied in 1902. But we do not find ourselves in the same position in regard to the particular question before us, or even in regard to that to which the honorable member for Flinders addressed himself. If, at that time, instead of carrying the motion submitted, we had taken our other course, a practice would have been established by which you, sir, would have been bound. As it is, neither of those practices - the one aggressive, the other concessionary - has been adopted. But, instead, this House then deliberately declared that it. would put this question aside until joint standing order’s have been adopted. Those standing orders have not yet been framed, and, therefore to my mind, the precedent applies. Under the circumstances, I submit that your ruling must be that the House, having already been confronted with a precisely similar question under precisely similar circumstances, and having adopted a particular course, which is to have a defined and limited operation, a precedent has been established, and that, in the absence of any other decision to which you, sir, could be pointed, that precedent ought to be observed.
– Then the Senate has only to delay the adoption of joint standing orders to retain this power ?
– Not if this House should expressly take the question into its consideration and deal with it.
– We cannot adopt joint Standing Orders.
– But we can decide the attitude that we shall in future take up under our own standing orders.
– We can do that today.
– We can.
– We have no standing orders which will fit this case at all.
– May I point out to the honorable member for Boothby, who is one of those who supported a similar motion upon a former occasion-
– The circumstances today are not the same.
– They are exactly the same. The whole contention urged in 1902 was that the framing of the Tariff represented practically twelve months’ work on the part of both Houses, and that its rejection at that particular stage would have involved the most grave and serious loss to the whole community. Precisely that position arises again to-day. But I venture to say - and also to hope - that this is practically the last occasion upon which it will be necessary to revise the whole Tariff. Particular proposals - however they may be dealt with - would not involve the community in anything like the same amount of confusion in” which it would ‘be involved if we were to provoke a constitutional conflict upon this elaborately complete Tariff with the other House.
– Even if this Tariff were rejected, we should still have a Tariff.
– But the work of twelve months would be thrown aside, and we should practically have to begin again.
– But compare that with the position which obtained in 1902. If the Tariff had been rejected then, the old State Tariffs would have been revived.
– That is so. I confess that the point escaped my attention when
– This is hardly on the point of order.
– That may be. However, I submit that we have a precedent which does lay down a feasible procedure, without sacrificing our rights, a practical course which has been followed once without undesirable results, and may be followed again.
– I do not desire to debate this question at any length’. I think, however, that, under the circumstances, it would be wise if the honorable member for Flinders did not insist on you, Mr. Speaker, giving a ruling at the present moment. The question is of such importance to the future conduct of the business of the House, and its relationship to the Senate, that I do not think you should be called upon, almost at the last moment, to give a ruling which is of such vital moment, and which, probably, would create a precedent. . This is a question which you should have ample time to thoroughly consider, it may be, with the assistance of the Crown law officers ; and, therefore, I think that, under the circumstances, we ought to adopt the procedure which was laid down on a former occasion. My object in raising thequestion was to emphasize the fact that a motion of this character had been before Parliament and had been the subject of some debate, showing that the course taken then was not to be regarded as a precedent. I hope that the honorable member for Flinders will see his way clear to withdraw the suggestion that a ruling be given at the present moment.
– I have no desire whatever to embarrass either you, Mr. Speaker, or honorable members. If it be the general desire that some means may be taken whereby you may have fuller opportunity to go into the question before giving a ruling, I am quite prepared to withdraw the suggestion I made, because I recognise this as a matter of extreme difficulty and paramount importance. Sooner or later, the question will have to be decided by you, sir, but for the present I am prepared to accept the suggestion of the honorable member for Kennedy.
– I should like to say on the point of order that I hope that while I occupy this high office, I shall never attempt to shirk any duty, however responsible, which may devolve on me. At present, however, having regard to the desire to proceed with business, it may be convenient to seek from me a more detailed and considered opinion later on.
Question - That the motion be agreed to - put. The House divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Deakin) proposed -
That the foregoing resolution be incorporated in the Message returning the Bill to the Senate.
-I do not wish to continue the discussion further, beyond saying that, in my opinion, we can incorporate anything in the Message sent to the Senate, and that I should like to see the day when the Government will find it convenient to take up another attitude on this point.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee (Consideration of Senate’s Message concerning requested amendments) :
Item 118. Curtains and Blinds) n.e.i. (not including blinds attached to rollers) ; Curtain Clips, Bands, Loops-, and Holders; and Blind Tassels and Acorns, ad val (General Tariff.) 25 per cent. ; (United Kingdom) 20 per cent. Senate’s Message. - Request pressed, that the item Be made free.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the requested amendment be not made.
.- We could not have better evidence that it was a farce to pass the motion, which has just been agreed to by the House than is to be found in the motion now submitted by the Treasurer. The Prime Minister pleaded that, in the interests of the convenience of the public, a certain course should be taken, and, to be consistent, the Government should follow thatup by proposing that every amendment requested by the Senate should be made. By pressing their requests, the Senate are insisting that the amendments should be made. In the circumstances, it is a waste of our time to argue the matter further. ‘ Honorable senators will only make their position stronger than it has been made by the motion carriedat the instance of the Prime Minister, and this Committee will only further humiliate itself. Before going into Committee the House practicallyagreed not to insist upon anything, and that honorable senators, in another place, should have their own way. But immediately we get into Committee, the Treasurer moves to reject the first suggestion made by the Senate. We refused to make this amendment before, and the Senate, adhering to its original decision, has decided to press it. Now the Treasurer is again asking us to refuse to make the requested amendment, and the Senate must either give Way or stand firm on its original request. The motion carried by the House has’, in my opinion, handed over all power to the Senate. An appeal was made by the honor able member for Flinders that we should deal with the difficultybetween the two Houses, apart from fiscal considerations.
-I ask the honorable member not to discuss the question as between the two Houses.
– The Committee must not reflect upon the House.
– It is just as well that the country should not be in a position to reflect on both. I ask the Government, and honorable members who have been so anxious to uphold the power of the Senate, whether the Committee should not make all the amendments in the Tariff proposed in the requests received from the Senate
.-I intend to support the Government in objecting to make the requested amendment. I do not know What the item is, or what the requested amendment is about, but in view ofthe motion carried at the instance of the Prime Minister, I intend to object to every amendment requested by the Senate, because I think the time has come to make a fight on the question as to whether the Senate has the right it claims, or has not that right.
.- This is an. item in connexion with which the Committee might very reasonably make some concession. I have always been of opinion that the proposed duties of 25 and 20 per cent. on curtains and blinds are too high: These curtains and blinds are used as furnishings in every cottage, house, and mansion in the country.
– Can they not be made here ?
– No, they are not made here. They are brought here as piece goods. They are, for the most part, made of cotton piece goods mixed with wool. They are used in every dwelling in the country. The duties proposed press most heavily on the working class. Every housewife feels them, and every draper in the country protests against them. They are really revenue duties of an unwarrantably excessive character. The protectionist section of the Tariff Commission recommended a duty of 10 per cent. on curtains and blinds, and the free-trade section recommended that the duty should be 15 per cent.
– As a part of a general scheme. That has been explained over and over again.
– I am aware of that. The Government propose duties of 25 and 20 per cent., and if any modification is moved, I shall be prepared to support duties of 15 and 10 per cent.
.- Surely the Committee does not propose to keep on backing and filling on the items of the Tariff? There must be some finality. If these itemsare to be sent backwards and forwards between the two Houses, and continually altered by each, we may be here until Doomsday without having concluded our consideration of the Tariff. The only sensible course for Ministers is to agree to the suggested reductions or modify the exorbitant duties, and have done with them.
– I think there is a great deal in the suggestion of the honorable member for Bendigo. Ibelieve that it would be very much better to impose duties of 15 and 10 per cent. on this item than to impose duties of 25 and 20 per cent., as proposed by the Government. I think that, consideringthat these curtains and blinds are not manufactured in Australia, the item ought to be free. But, as there seems to be no possibility whatever of carrying such a proposal-, we might meet the Senate to a certain extent. I therefore move -
That the following modification be added : - “but that the duties be (General Tariff) 15 per cent. ; (United Kingdom) 10 per cent.”
– I have already indicated that I am firmly of the opinion that the time has passed for the Senate to appeal to this House for the amendment of the Tariff. The only way in which we can emphasize that view is to send these items back to the Senate in the form in which they previously left the Committee. In the circumstances, there is only one course open to me, and that is to vote against all the amendments requested by the Senate. The white-washing motion just carried in the House only plays with the matter.
– It will lead to trouble later on.
– The trouble must come, and personally I am prepared to meet it at once. As soon as the House of Representatives shows that it has a backbone, the trouble will vanish.
– This schedule to the Customs Tariff Bill is going back to the Senate, and the only question for the
Committee now to consider is whether the duties imposed on this item shall be 25 and 20 per cent., or 15 and 10 per cent.
– I say that we have passed that stage. It is a question now of . maintaining the rights and privileges of the House of Representatives.
– The. House has dealt with that question.
– The honorable member for Parramatta is taking the matter too easily. Later on he will find that we have established a precedent which will tie the hands of this House, which should have control of the public purse. I wish it to be clearly understood that I intend to vote against the whole of the amendments requested by the Senate.
.- I feel as strongly as other honorable members who have spoken that the House should have decided thematter which has been referred to by refusing to carry the motion which has been passed.
– The honorable member voted for the motion.
– I did, because I believe that when the House does take any action of that kind it should be united, and not divided. . Honorable members should recognise that we have now to consider the schedule, and that, as the honorable member for Parramatta has said, it must be returned to the Senate. It should be remembered that the duty we now impose must remain in force possibly for a considerable number of years. It will be admitted that the duties of 25 and 20 per cent. proposed on curtains and blinds are revenue duties, because, while these curtains may be cut into lengths here, they are not made here.
– They are made here.
– The honorable gentleman does not mean to say that the material of which they are made is manufactured here? The cutting of the piece goods into curtain lengths may be done here, but that is not an industry the protection of which justifies the imposition of duties to the extent of 25 and 20 per cent. I have voted consistently throughout the consideration of the Tariff against the imposition of heavy duties for the protection of these little peddling industries. If the piece goods from which these curtains are made were manufactured here, their manufacture would be worthy of some protection; but we do not need to impose duties of 25 and 20 per cent. to cover the cost of cutting piece goods into lengths. The duties proposed by the honorable member for Parramatta may be regarded as revenue duties also.
– They are more in the nature of revenue duties than are those proposed by the Government.
– That is so, and I think it would be better that we should accept the suggestion of the Senate, and make the item free.
– What hope have we of being able to make the item free?
– Such a proposal would have my support. I do not know what the voting on the item was previously. I must express my surprise that honorable members should insist upon these extremely high duties in view of the nature of the industry which it is sought to protect.
.- I hope that the Committee will agree to the modification proposed by the honorable member for Parramatta. From a revenue stand-point, duties of 25 and 20 per cent. must be regarded as extremely high, whilst duties of 15 and 10 per cent. might be considered reasonable revenue duties. I do not think we should neglect an opportunity to derive revenue, but we should make its collection equitable. I intend to support the modification proposed.
.- Before we vote, we are entitled to a statement from the Treasurer as to the attitude he intends to adopt regarding all these requests.
– I propose to accept some, and reject others.
– That leaves us free to vote according to our wishes. Otherwise I had intended to support the Minister in rejecting every request made by the Senate.
.- If this is a purely revenue duty, as. is stated by the honorable member for Bendigo, who is a solid protectionist, there is no justi fication for voting for rates of 15 and 10 per cent. That would be worse than duties of 25 and 20 per cent., because in all probability, if the higher duty was imposed, even if the articles are not made here now–
– They are made here.
– The honorary Minister disputes the statement of the Chair- man of the Tariff Commission.
– I cannot dispute what I saw at the Women’s Work Exhibition.
– The goods the honorable member saw cut’ up at that exhibition are not those that supply the needs of Australia.
– Thousands of them are made in Australia.
– I am prepared to accept the definite and deliberate statement of the Chairman of the Tariff Commission. This is one of those small industries for the sake of which, if it exists in Australia at all, the Committee is asked to impose a burden on the whole of the people of the Commonwealth. If there was a possibility of establishing the . industry throughout Australia, and meeting the requirements of the people, there might be some justification for the proposal. The honorable member for Bendigo assures us that there is no such prospect. In order that we may vote on lower duties first, and subsequently, if necessary, vote on the proposal of the honorable member for Parramatta, I move -
That the following modification be added : - “but that the duties be (General Tariff) 5 per cent.; (United Kingdom) free.”
– Iwas about to withdraw my amendment in order to move in the. direction indicated by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. We ought to test the question first on a lower scale, and afterwards, if necessary, proceed upwards. I therefore ask leave to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment (Mr. Joseph Cook’s) by leave, withdrawn.
.- My principal reason for objecting to the duties of 25 and 20 per cent. is that - according to the definition of “ piece goods” in the foot-note to item 123 (piece goods)-curtains and blinds, if imported in the form of piece goods defined by selvedge or by pattern for cutting up into separate articles, are not to. be considered piece goods for the purpose of the lower duties, but are to be dutiable “ under the heading applying to the article into which the material is designed to be made.” I have gone through drapers’ establishments, and been shown long rolls of piece goods intended to be cut up into curtains and blinds and defined by selvedge or pattern, and those, although’ really piece goods, are charged the full rates of 25 and 20 per cent. They are not admitted as piece goods.
– They are being admitted as piece-goods.
– According to the definition I have quoted, they are charged the higher rate because they are defined by selvedge or pattern.
– This matter has been before the Committee twice previously, and we have adhered to the rates of 25 and20 per cent.
– We must compro mise if we want to get the Tariff finished.
– The honorable member is in such an extreme hurry to jump through his skin that I do not pay much attention to him.
– The honorable member wants all the delay he can get.
– Iwant no delay. I will politically fight the honorable member whenever he likes, in this House or out of it.
– I do not want to fight the honorable member.
– The honorable member will find he will not have an easy time, so far as I am concerned:
– What is all this about?
– Because the honorable member is behaving in an unseemly way.
– I rise to order. 1 have not said or done anything unseemly. I said that we must compromise. As we have agreed to consider the message, it is of no use for us to send the requests back just as they came to us. I cannot understand the Treasurer’s rude observations. I am surprised at him, especially as I am on such friendly terms with him.
– I am not in a temper to be always compromising. The honorablemember wants todo nothing but compromise.
– The honorable member need not be personal about it.
– The Government are going to swallow the Royal Commission on the Post and Telegraph Department. They propose to compromise on that. That is a big one.
– What right has the honorable member to say that?
– I ask honorable members not to continue these inter jections.
– Every time this item has been considered, we have adhered to the present duties.
– Will the Minister assume the same attitude in regard to. other items?
– Honorable members seem to be terribly agitated in their minds because they hear that a Royal Commission is to be appointed. The leader of the Opposition seems to know more than the Government knows.I am quite entitled - and so is the Committee - to adhere to the position we took upbefore on this item. The honorable member for Bendigo’ s statement regarding the duty charged on these importations is absolutely wrong. The honorable member for Melbourne put the case exactly by, interjection. It is wrong to say thatthe full duty is charged onpiece-goods which are to be cut up here. Our object is entirely different. I know that the honorable member for Bendigo, unlike some other honorable members, is a protectionist, and I assure him that this is a protective and not a revenue duty. These articles are made here to a considerable extent.
– They are not.
– I am sorry that the remarks ofthe honorable member for Bendigo have injured the prospect of our retaining a really protective duty.
– I am only supporting the recommendation of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission, which included Senator McGregor and exSenator Higgs.
– The protectionist section of the Tariff Commission was at fault in a great many cases.
– We have a right to stand by our opinions.
Sir WILLIAM LYNE. Surely they are not. like the laws of the Medes and Persians, unalterable. I was very much surprised by the honorablemember’s remarks, and hope that the Committee will again re-affirm the proposal sent to the Senate.
– The Minister has given it as his reason fornot making the requested amendment that we have already twice affirmed the proposal which the Senate wishes us to amend. If he intends to lay that down as a general principle to be observed in dealing with the Senate’s requests, I understand his argument; but if he does not, there is no force in it.
– I gave that as only one ground for not making the requested amendments. My contention is that the rates fixed by this Committee are protective.
– The industry to be protected is a trifling one, and the rates suggested by the honorable member for Parramatta would sufficiently protect it.
.- The Minister is taking up an unreasonable attitude. He has said that he intends to makesome of the requested amendments pressed by the Senate, notwithstanding that we have twice’ affirmed our proposals. Having looked through the schedule, this seems to me to be an item on which we might well compromise, and therefore I intend to vote for the lowest rates proposed.
.- I hope that the rates originally fixed by this Committee will not be reduced. Raw material in the piece which cannot be made in Australia ought to be admitted free, but the work of cutting it into lengths and finishing it should be done here. In the big furnishing warehouses of the Commonwealth, not only are fine gauze nettings, but also embroidered material of choice designs, cut into curtain lengths and attached to rings, and we should protect this industry. I should like to see a larger margin between the duty on the raw material and that on the finished article, just as I should like to see a larger margin between the duty on cloth and dress material, and that on apparel and attire.
.- In my opinion, the Committee should re-affirm the duties to which it originally agreed. I believe in building up our industries. We shall become a manufacturing community only by protecting industries which can be carried on in Australia. We ought not to wait until an industry has been built up under free-trade to give it protection. Surely clips, bands, loops, holders, and curtain tassels, as well as curtains and blinds, can be made in Australia?
– I hope that the Committee will adhere to its original proposition. Material for making blinds is dutiable at 5 per cent. under the general Tariff, and free if it comes from Great Britain. . It is only when it bears marks showing where it should be cut into lengths ‘that it. is dutiable at higher rates. Persons who wish to import blinds practically ready made should have to pay more than those who use what is really raw material.
– Private persons cannot importblinds ready made.
– They can buy the raw material very cheaply and make the blinds. The proposed rates give little or no protection to the labour involved.
Amendment (Mr. Frazer’s) negatived.
Amendment (by Mr. Joseph Cook) proposed -
That the following modification be added : - but that the duties be ad val. (General Tariff) 15 per cent. ; (United Kingdom) 10 per cent.”
– In order to prevent discussion and to save time, I am willing to agree to rates of 20 and 15 per cent. as a compromise.
.- My proposal has been put forward in the hope that the Senate will agree to it as a reasonable compromise, not with the object of preventing discussion here. I hope, therefore, that the Committee will agree to it, and that the Senate will accept it.
.- As I have stated, I intend to support all disagreements with the requests of the Senate ; but if the Government is willingto make a compromise, it will not have my support. Personally, I should like to see this material admitted duty free, because I consider the proposed duties merely revenue producing.
.- As the Minister has shown a disposition to make a compromise, and as I am not sure that the proposed reduction will be agreed to, I intend to support his proposal.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Modification not made.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to-
That the following modification be added : - “ but that the duties be ad val. (General Tariff) 20 per cent. ; (United Kingdom) 15 per cent.”
Requested amendment not made, but duties made 20 and 15 per cent.
Item 123. Piece Goods, viz. : -
Senate’s Message. - Request pressed, that the duties be ad val. (General Tariff) 5 per cent.; (United Kingdom) free.
– I am prepared to accept this request. The item deals with piece goods which, to some extent, are made into certain articles here. It is quite different from the last item with which we dealt. I want the duties reduced from 10 and 5 per cent. to 5 per cent. and free. I move -
That the requested amendment be made.
Motion agreed to.
Requested amendment made.
Item 143. Sheet Lead and Lead Piping, per ton, . 50s. ; and on and after 15th November, 1907, free.
Senate’s Message. - Request pressed, that the duty be 20s.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) . proposed
That the requested amendment be made.
Mr.REID (East Sydney) [6.0]- Without a word of explanation, the Minister is accepting a radical alteration in the duty, although this Committee has twice deliberately affirmed that, in the interests of Australian industry, the articles should be made free.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative
Requested amendmentnot made.
Item 153. Cutlery, of all kinds, n.e.i., including Plated Cutlery; Knife Sharpeners; Manicure Sets ; but not cutlery in part or wholly made up of gold or silver, ad val. (General Tariff) 20 per cent.; (United Kingdom) 15 per cent.
Senate’s Message. - Request pressed, that the duties be ad val. (General Tariff) 15 per cent.; (United Kingdom) 10 per cent.
– I move -
That the requested amendment be made.
This is one of those cases where Mr. Morgan, the representative of the British Manufacturers’ Association, intimated that duties of 15 and 10 per cent. would do no harm to manufacturers in England or here.
Motion agreed to.
Requested amendment made.
And on and after 29th November, 1907 -
Item 175. …
Senate’s Message.- Request pressed, that the paragraph be free.
– I ask the Committee to reject this request, as I want to give a preference of 5 per cent. to the United Kingdom. There is no reason why the duty in the general Tariff should be altered. I move-
That the requested amendment be not made.
Motion agreed to.
Requested amendment not made.
And on and after 29th November, 1907 -
Item 177. Electrical Machines, &c. . . .
Senate’s Message. - Request pressed, that the figures “500 “ be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the figures “ 10,” and that the paragraph be free.
– No doubt honorable members will remember what happened on two occasions when this question of horse-power was debated very lengthily. I do not intend to repeatwhat was said then, but merely to express the hope that the Committee will reject the proposal of the Senate. I move -
That the requested amendment be not made.
– I trust that the Committee will notagree to the Treasurer’s- proposal. We have had this matter under consideration twice. I think that I can truthfully say that on a previous occasion when this Committee accepted 500 horse-power as being the capacity beyond which dynamos should be allowed to be introduced free of duty, we acted on insufficient information as to the ability of the Australian manufacturers to produce powerful dynamos. On the second occasion the matter slipped through without much consideration.
– Does the honorable member say that we cannot make in Australia dynamos over 10 horse-power?
– The number of electrical ‘ dynamos that have been made in Australia of a capacity beyond 500 horsepower would certainly take some finding.
– There are several of them in Melbourne. The Melbourne Electric Supply Company has one.
– Was it made in Australia ?
– That is an admission from one of the strongest protectionists in the Committee. I. quite agree with my honorable friend that dynamos beyond the capacity mentioned are not made in Australia. We stipulated originally that dynamos beyond 500 horse-power should be admitted free. The Senate took up an extraordinary attitude, and altered the 500 to 10. Probably both Houses were wrong. I believe that the 500 horse-power limit is altogether too great, taking into consideration the usual requirements of Australian firms; but at the same time I believe that the 10 horse-power limit’ is. altogether too small. I think that we ought to give to the manufacturers of electrical machinery in Australia protection in regard to the production of dynamos up to at least 50 horse-power. By so doing we should secure to them the great bulk of the Australian trade. They would thus be able to manufacture those dynamos for which their plants are best suited. The. number of firms in Australia that require electrical appliances up to the capacity of 500 horse-power are very few.
– The 50 horse-power limit would be very fair..
– It would mean the death of the industry.
– It is, I think, a fair proposition. It would give the Australian manufacturers, perhaps, 90 per cent. of the total trade, whilst it would afford those firms who require dynamos of a greater capacity facilities for obtaining them without penalization. What I propose is a reasonable compromise. I move therefore -
That the following modification be added : - but that “10” be left out and “50” inserted.
– The Tariff Commission’s report on electrical machinery material, paragraph 8 of the conclusions, contains the following passage -
There seems to be no reason why electrical generators and motors, practically up to a high capacity and certainly up to 500 h.p., should not in the future be made in Australia, provided the insulated conductors and insulating materials required are admitted free.
We recommended that the limit should be 500 horse-power. I consulted with a Bendigo electrical engineer, Mr. B. Sluyterman, on the subject, and in a letter to me, dated 14th August, 1906, he said -
Referring to your inquiries re electrical engineering in reference to the Tariff, I beg to state that, in my opinion, electrical generators and motors can be made in Australia up to almost any capacity, say 500 h.p., providing the insulated conductors and insulating materials, such as covered wire, mica, insulating varnishes, prepared tapes and papers, vulcanite fibre, rubber and all insulating compounds, also platinoid and manganin wires, were kept on the free list.
This statement was made by an electrical engineer in the employment of the Bendigo Electric Supply Works - a thoroughly competent man.
– Does he say that engines are being made in this country up to the capacity of 500 horse-power?
– They can be. In fact, I was remonstrated with for the insertion of the 500 horse-power limitation in our report. It was said to me, “ Manufacturers have been making some of these 500 horse-power engines in Australia, and if you throw open the doors for their importation you discourage the local production of electrical machinery.” It isclear that unless we give an impetus to the industry it cannot develop, and importations will continue indefinitely. I did not sign my name to any recommendations in the Tariff Commission’s report unless I had conclusive evidence before me. I hope that on this occasion the Committee will adhere to their former decision.
.- It seems tome that the whole of the evidence before us is that one man in Bendigo says that machinery up to 500 horse-power can be made in Australia. But I can see no reason why we should penalize industries in this country whose machinery is being worked by means of dynamos. It will certainly mean penalizing those mines in Western Australia whose batteries are’ running in conjunction with electric dynamos.
– Western Australia is a very troublesome place.
– Perhaps it is the Western Australian members who are troublesome to the honorable gentleman?
– The Treasurer would find Western Australia a troublesome place if he went over there after what he has had to do with the passing of this Tariff.
– I should be popular enough.
– I know several mines the machinery of which is being worked by means of dynamos of a lesser capacity than 500 horse-power. It is perfectly true that very few mines require such powerful engines. A really practical proposition is that the limit should be 10 horse-power. But the proposition submitted by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie is reasonable enough, and I shall not object to it.
– Does not the honorable member know that engines of over 50 horsepower are being made in Melbourne?
– Of course anything can be made here if people are prepared to pay enough. The honorable member for Bendigo told us that the engineer of the electrical works at Bendigo informed him that powerful dynamos can be made in Australia. But I observed when I went to Bendigo that the dynamos in use at those works were imported.
– It is for the other fellow that they want the duty !
– The recommendations . of the engineer mentioned by the honorable member for Bendigo remind me of the bald-headed barber who recommended a wash to produce hair on the heads of other people. There is no sense in that kind of advice. I trust that the Committee will accept the proposal of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie.
– Honorable members must recollect the debates that have taken place on this question. It has been proved beyond doubt that dynamos have been made in Australia of a capacity beyond 400 horse-power. Four in particular were referred to that are nowworking in this country, all of them having a capacity between 400 and 500 horse-power. Therefore, it is nonsense to say that the more powerful machines cannot be manufactured in Australia. As the honorable member for Bendigo has very truly said, if we do not protect those who have been struggling to make these machines, we cannot expect the industry to progress.
– What did the Treasurer do regarding wire netting?.
– The honorable member’s vote on wire netting did not do him very much credit.
– The honorable member had no right to interject. It is due to those who have been manufacturing these powerful engines, and due to the country also, that they should be helped to extend their operations. Nearly the whole of the objections to the 500 h.p. limit have come from the Western Australian members.
-We are a bad lot !
– I have no doubt about that. Western Australia happens to be the State which is nearest to Europe, and is, therefore, better able to obtain machinery from other parts of the world than is the case with the other States. The Western Australian people seem to prefer to get their machinery from foreign countries rather than from the eastern States of Australia. That seems to me to be one of the principal reasons for the opposition to this duty. The big mining companies of Western Australia are at the back of the objection..
– I challenge that statement.
– This is being done at the dictation of the big mine owners,
– I rise to order. I wish to askyou, Mr. Chairman,whether it is in order for the Treasurer to say that any member of this House is acting at the dictation of big mine owners?
– I did notimpute such conduct to any honorable member.
– The honorable gentleman said that the Western Australian members were at the dictation of the mining companies.
– I did not say anything of the sort.
– The honorable gentleman said something near it then.
– What I said was that Western Australia occupies the nearest point to Europe, and has the advantage of cheap freights.
– The mining companies of Western Australia are using their nearness to Europe to enable them to get their machinery from foreign makers instead of from our own people.
– Freights to Western Australia are from 50 per cent. to 100 per cent. higher than to the eastern States.
– If that be so, it does no more credit to those who are getting their machinery from other parts of the world.
– The honorable member is exceedingly reckless in his statements.
– I do not want to imitate the honorable member, who is always reckless in his statements.
– He has supported the Minister.
– If I do not get more support from other honorable members than I obtain from him, I shall not have much. The honorable member has turned himself inside out. He has put on a coat of many colours.
– He belongs to the Labour Party.
– I do not know what party he belongs to, and I do not think he knows himself, because he has beer* turning himself inside out ever since he has been here. To return to the request, I may say that I have no personal interest to serve in this matter. I am not a member of any company, or manufacturing institution. I take up this stand” purely in the interests of Australian, as. opposed to foreign, concerns. Some honorable members who profess to be Australian in sentiment, are prepared to throw Australia and its manufactures to the winds, and I cannot help feeling indignant when I see them taking up such an attitude. We ought to be true to ourselves. There are honorable members who, “ although they describe themselves as protectionists, vote against protection. That does not coincide with my idea of what is expected of them. I hope honorable members will not agree to the proposal to limit this item to dynamos under 50 horsepower. Such a modification would do great injury to the engineering industry, and I appeal to the Committee, in all sincerity, not to agree to the proposal made by the honorable member for Western Australia.
.- Like the Treasurer, I trust that this debate will not be a long one. The duties originally imposed on electrical machinery by this House were the result of a compromise.
– And that compromise has been ignored ever since.
– It has not. Some honorable members opposite, as the result of that compromise secured reductions that they desired, and other members of their party in another place have, I presume, sought to so reduce this item that it will apply only to dynamos up to 10 horsepower. Those who know anything about the engineering industry will admit that many dynamos of far greater capacity than 10 horse-power are made in Australia. The honorable member for Kooyong who, I believe, was one of those who arranged the compromise arrived at when this item was previously before us, knows full well that we are making large dynamos here.
– But not dynamos of 500 horse-power.
– Dynamos up to 400 horse-power have Been made at Weymouth’s works, Richmond.
– Are many of those dynamos being used?
– Some are being used, but the honorable member must be aware that the demand for dynamos of such great power is not so large as is that for smaller ones. It will be interesting to note how those who urged this afternoon that the Senate had no power to send down a second message in respect of its requests will fight in connexion with this item for what they believe to be the rights of this House.
– The honorable member has given away his case.
– I am doing away with the right honorable member’s case, as he stated he was opposed to the Senate making requests’ a second time. I trust that the Committee will stand by the compromise previously arrived at. We have not dealt fairly withthe engineering industry in the past, and I sincerely hope that we shall adhere to the decision that this item should relate to dynamos of up to 500 horse-power, so that it may be given a chance.
.- At the risk of offending the Treasurer, I rise to refute his remark that the representatives of Western Australia are here at the dictation of the big mining companies.
– I did not say so.
– I say that the honorable member did. I took a note of his words, and Hansard will bear out my statement. I challenge any honorable member to show that any representative of Western Australia is here at’ the mere dic tation of any company. We are certainly not here at the dictation of the Treasurer or of a mining company. Although 400 horse-power dynamos may be made in Richmond, that is no reason why we should agree to the Treasurer’s proposal. I hope that the proposition which has been put before the Committee will be accepted.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.4.5 p.m.
– The Government cannot possibly accept the proposal of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. I would remind the Committee that the duty originally levied upon this class of machinery was greatly in excess of that which we are now asking honorable members toadopt - that as the result of a compromise it was reduced from 30 to 121/2 per cent.
– That was not because the Government studied theinterests of the users of these machines.
– We have irrefutable evidence that machines of this class have been manufactured in the Commonwealth up to a capacity of 200 horsepower, and it is also stated that they can and have been made up to 400 horsepower.
– In Victoria. When this item was under discussion upon a former occasion a photograph was exhibited of a 400 horse-power machine which had been made in Australia, and we know from the evidence which was tendered to the Tariff Commission, that it is quite possible for machines up to 500 horsepower to be manufactured locally. I ask honorable members to meet us in this matter in order that we may dispose of the Tariff schedule to-night. The Government do not desire to sit late, but it would.be a great convenience if, without unduly curtailing the speeches of honorable members or interfering with their undoubted rights, we could complete the consideration of the schedule this evening, so that it may be considered by the Senate to-morrow. I ask the Committee to stand by its former decision.
– The Government are not giving effect to that decision.
– We are. We have reduced the duty upon the machines specified in this paragraph from 30 to121/2 per cent.
– We did that.
– Then why is the honorable member asking us to go back upon his own decision?
– We did it in selfdefence.
– I have no desire to waste time, but we cannot possibly accept the modification proposed by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, and therefore I ask the Committee to stand by the item as printed.
– The remarks of the Honorary Minister deserve some attention. He has appealed to us to adhere to our former decision in respect of this matter upon the ground that a compromise was arrived at. I am not quite sure, speaking from memory, whether a compromise was arranged, and, if it was, what was the nature of it. But the Minister must not forget that honorable members upon this side of the chamber offered to adhere to any compromises that had been arrived at in regard to Tariff items, so long as the Government would also respect them. The Treasurer would not agree to that proposal, and consequently honorable members have exercised their own judgment regarding these compromises. The Honorary Minister has also asked us to stand by our twice made decision in respect of this item. I should be willing to adopt that attitude if the Treasurer would intimate his intention to take a similar course in respect of other items. To be fair, any such arrangement must be adhered to by both sides of the House. Regarding the proposal immediately before us, I do think that we ought to consider the mining industry as far as we possibly’ can. It is an industry of importance to many States, and of particular importance to Western Australia. We know the difficulty experienced in that State in working the poorer propositions. These mines cover a very large area, and if they can be worked profitably they will confer an immense benefit upon Western Australia.
– The matter also affects the labour market.
– Yes. These mines employ a considerable number of men. If we make the operation of such enterprises more expensive merely for the purpose of allowing three or four machines to be manufactured in one of the other States, we shall commit a great error. The mining industry is one which . receives absolutely no protection. -
It is very important that in connexion with t he extensive operations which have to be conducted to make low grade properties payable, the industry should not be handicapped by any taxation which cannot be fully justified.
.- The Honorary Minister has appealed to the Committee to complete the consideration of the Tariff schedule to-night. May I suggest that its passing would be greatly expedited if the Government would accept the modifications of the Senate, and not insist upon pressing for the imposition of excessive duties ? Both the Minister and the Treasurer appear to think that there is only one interest which has to be considered - the interest of the manufacturers. Apparently, the users of machinery which is the subject of high duties are to receive no consideration whatever. They merely have to pay and look pleasant. If we can only get Ministers to realize that other persons besides manufacturers and their employes should be considered, there may be a chance of disposing of the Tariff schedule this evening, but not otherwise. The proposal of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie is certainly preferable to that of the Government, and I intend to support it.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to -
That the following modification be added : - “but that ‘ 10’ be left out and ‘200’ inserted.” .
Motion, as amended, agreed to.
Requested amendment not made as to duty, but modification made as to horse- power.
And on and after 29th November, 1907 - Item 177. Electrical Machines, &c. : -
Senate’s Message. - Request pressed, that the paragraph be made free.
– I desire to alter the wording of the item by leaving out the words “ Apparatus and “ and “ n.e.i. including “ and inserting “viz: - “ after “metal.” I would then make the item free, and electric apparatus would fall under item 1 7 8b, and be dutiable at 171/2 per cent. I am informed by the Department that these words, and those in item178, paragraph b, mean practically the same thing, but there is a difference in the duty, and the Department cannot, at present, distinguish which is which. I move -
That the requested amendment be made, with a modification leaving out the words “ Apparatus and “ ; and the words “ n.e.i. including” with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word viz.”
– On a point of order, I desire your ruling, Mr. Chairman, as to whether it is possible to make the amendment indicated by the Treasurer at this stage. Standing order 207, relating to “ amendments after disagreements,” says -
No Amendment can be proposed, in any words of the Bill which, having received the concurrence of the Senate, have not been the subject of, or immediately affected by, some previous Amendment, unless such proposed Amendment be consequent upon an Amendment already agreed to or made by the House.
Where our Standing Orders do not deal explicitly or completely with a matter, the practice of the House of Commons is our guide; and on page 507 of May, eleventh edition, it is stated that -
It is also a rule that neither House may, at this time, leave out or otherwise amend anything which they have already passed themselves ; unless- such amendment be immediately consequent upon the acceptance or the rejection of an amendment of the other House. In 1678, it was stated by the Commons at a conference, “ That it is contrary to the constant method and proceedings in Parliament to strike out anything in a Bill which hath been fully agreed and passed by both Houses “ ; and in allowing consequential amendments, either in the body of the Bill or in the amendments, the spirit of this rule is still maintained. So binding, indeed, has it been held, that in 1850 a serious oversight as to the commencement of the Act having been discovered in the Pirates’ Head Money Bill, before the Lords’ amendments had been agreed to, no attempt was made to correct it by way of amendment, but a separate Act was passed for the purpose.
That seems very definite, and as it will affect our procedure, not only now, but in the future, I submit the question for your ruling.
– In this case, the Senate has asked that the whole item be free. I agree to part being free, and ask for a modification by which another part will not be free.
– In many cases the position taken up by the honorable member for North Sydney would be quite correct, but in this instance the Senate asks that the various articles that come under this item should be all free, and the Treasurer, while agreeing to a number of them being made free, asks that some of them may not be made free. The Treasurer, therefore, is quite in order. His proposal is clearly a modification that he can move.
.- The Treasurer’s proposal would be all right from my point of view if the articles which he wishes to take out of this item would fall under a lower duty or be put on the free list, but it really involves an increase in the duty on electrical apparatus from1. 15 to 17j per cent. I understand that electrical apparatus will fall _ automatically under item 178b, dutiable at 17^ per cent. Consequently the Treasurer’s proposal really means proposing a new item with that duty attached to it.
– We give you three articles free and increase the duty on one other by i per cent. The really important things are to be made free.
– I am by no means sure of that. The term “ apparatus “ may be stretched by the Minister and his officials to cover quite a wide range of electrical appliances. There is no definition of electrical apparatus in the Tariff, and we certainly should have a definition of it. Whilst the Treasurer expresses a- hope “that the Committee will get through with the Tariff, he should not forget that such proposals as that now before the Committee tend to delay its passing. We may, without knowing it, be including at a higher duty under the term “electrical apparatus “ a number of things of which we have no knowledge. The Treasurer ought to explain what is covered by the term.
.- The hon’orable member for Lang has made a very sensible request. Any one who has had any dealings with the Customs Department must be aware that it is the practice, of the officials in doubtful cases to levy the highest duty. If there is no trick in this proposal - and I tell the Committee candidly that I fear a trick- it would appear that the Treasurer is willing to forego a 15 per cent, duty on electrical fittings consisting wholly or partly of metal n.e.i, including switches, fuses, and lightning arresters. The honorable gentleman should tell the Committee what the term “ electrical apparatus ‘ ‘ will cover, and he should put it in the Tariff. We should then “know what we were voting for. I do not believe the honorable gentleman knows what the term covers, but his officers have told him that the proposal he has made will get, over the difficulty. It seems to me that it will provide a drag-net under which all kinds of electrical appliances will be included in the term “electrical apparatus,” and will be dutiable at 17J per cent. I am not disposed to support the proposal until I know exactly what will be covered by the term “ electrical apparatus.”
.- If there is one industry which has been badly treated in the framing of this Tariff it is the engineering industry of Australia. In the circumstances I am prepared to vote in this matter with the Treasurer. I remind honorable members that the duty proposed on electrical apparatus is only 17 J per cent., and that they have not been satisfied with duties of 30 and 40 per cent, for the protection of other industries. Foodstuffs and wearing apparel used by engineers in common with other persons in the community have been’ made dutiable in the interests of various industries at from 30 up to 120 per cent. ; but apparently it is a crime to suggest that the engineering industry should be’ protected to the extent of 17 J per cent. Really the way in which this Tariff has been framed is enough to make any man a protectionist. We find that every member of the Committee looks after the interests of industries established in his own electorate or in his own State, and it is about time that some one considered the interests of those engaged in the engineering industry of Australia.
– Is the honorable member out for “ loot “ on this item?
– Other honorable members are always out for’ loot, and I say openly’ that the passing of the Tariff is nothing but a scramble for loot. I am prepared to make that same statement from a public platform. Right through the piece, in considering this Tariff there has been a struggle for what 1 call “ loot “ on behalf of .various industries, and I can only regret that so far the engineering industry has been able to get so little of it. Probably the reason why fittings, switches, fusings, and lightning arresters are to be made free is that they are not made here, and that it would be rather an assistance to the engineering industry than otherwise to admit them free of duty. No body of men has done better work for trade unionism than have the engineers of Australia. The industry pays good wages, and is carried on under- fair conditions, and I should like to see thousands of people at work in Australia under such conditions. We shall shortly be asked to encourage the immigration of persons of the artisan class, and the best persons of that class that we could introduce are those of the English, Irish, and. particularly the Scotch race, whose industry is devoted mainly £0 engineering.
– Some- of the most highly equipped engineers are about to leave Australia for America, because they cannot find employment here.
– They .are about to go to a country where there are 6,000,000 of unemployed !
– I find it difficult on account of the interjections to put forward a plea on behalf of the engineering industry of Australia, whilst honorable members have been ready enough to listen to pleas put forward for the protection of other industries. Throughout the consideration ‘ of the Tariff, I have endeavoured to advocate the interest of those engaged in the engineering industry, and I shall take advantage of every opportunity afforded .to benefit them. I make no secret of the fact that a great number of them reside in my electorate. For years past they have given me strong support as a free-trader, and it is about time for me to do something “for them now. -I hope that the Treasurer will make a strong appeal to the protectionists in the Committee, and to the “ leaven “ of whom he scoke the other day, to give some protection to the engineering industry. As the engineering establishments of New South Wales are larger- and better equipped than those of any other State, “I can speak on this matter not only from the stand-point of my eleclarger and better equipped than those of my State. I urge that this important industry of the State from which I come should receive some assistance under this Tariff.
.- I think the Committee might make the concession asked for by the Treasurer, although, after the abusive language which the honorable gentleman applied to me early in the afternoon, I do not know that I am called upon to advance any special reasons in support of his proposal. It appears to me that if it is within the capacity of Australian workmen to make dynamos, up to 500 horse-power, and all their accessories, honorable members are quibbling over a very small matter when they object to a duty of 17
– And all the rest to be dutiable at 17^ per cent.
– I shall tell the honorable member what I think all the rest means. . It will cover chiefly the wiring for the distribution of the electric current produced through particular channels, and other small fittings. I do not think the matter is worth the discussion which has been bestowed upon it. 1 frankly confess I am rather surprised that the Minister has made a concession in regard to switches.
– That is because the honorable member asked me to do so.
– I have already said that the Treasurer has used abusive language towards me, and the honorable gentleman is now either in a jocular frame of mind or is incapable of grasping the full significance of the suggestion I made.
– I am obliged to the honorable .member for his suggestion ; he has not supported me much before, but 1 think he is turning round.
– I have supported the Minister whenever he has been right, which, I am sorry to say, he has not been on many occasions throughout the discussion of this portion of the Tariff. The apparatus is infinitesimal ‘ when compared with the whole of the machinery, and the subject is not of sufficient importance to occupy more time.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta) (8.32]. - I am surprised at the attitude adopted by the honorable member for Dalley, because the engineers in his constituency will starve if they are depending on the passing of this item. The apparatus under discussion has not the remotest connexion with any engineering industry carried on in the honorable member’s electorate? We have been told by the honorable member for Wimmera, by way of interjection,, that engineers are leaving this country for America, although we know that there are 6,000,000 unemployed in that country.
– It is quite true what I said.
– Then all I can say is that I did not know Australian engineers were so foolish.
– I know of some engineers who left Lithgow for America, and hadto have money sent in order to bring them hack.
– I also know of such cases; we hear a great deal about people who leave Australia, but not much about those who are only too glad to return. If the Treasurer’s proposal is carried there will not be much left in the item, and no engineer in Australia will be the slightest bit better off for the rearrangement. ‘ Most of this electrical apparatus is covered by patent rights and manufactured abroad. ‘ The Postmaster-‘ General has to import all his apparatus, simply because it cannot be purchased here.
– No; such apparatus is made in Tasmania, and I can speak with the experience of an electrical engineer.
– Then more power to Tasmania ; and’ I hope that the industry will prosper. However, if the proposal be carried, the bulk of the item will be free; and, as I said before, there is nothing that will affect the engineering trade in any way.
.- When I spoke of the engineering trade I meant the whole trade embracing brassfinishers, moulders, and so forth ; I was not thinking merely of marine engineering. This is an electrical age, and Australia is . more and more using electricity, with the result that engineers are endeavouring in a larger measure every day to supply the demand. I admit that’ this “is only a side line, but the results will be serious if we lop off one line after another.
– The honorable member forgets that the Minister proposes to make the bulk of the item free.
– Not necessarily the bulk. There is no doubt that a good deal of the electrical apparatus, such as telephone switchboards, and so forth, required by the Postmaster-General, are admitted free ; but, at the same time, this item touches my electorate very nearly. There are resident in my electorate the members of at least three firms and many of their employes, who are engaged in this class of work. There is, particularly, the firm of Edge and Edge, who are very enterprising, and have done a good deal of work for the Post and Telegraph Department in the past. The work, however, has been greatly reduced for want of proper encouragement; and I take this present opportunity to emphasize the fact that the trades for which I am particularly concerned have been very badly treated, in view of the fact that other industries have received the most favorable consideration. It is quite true that the engineers will not starve if this item be passed ; but every little encouragement is a step toward success, and this industry ought to receive the same treatment as that meted out to others.
Motion agreed to.
Requested amendment, as modified, made.
And on and after 29th November, 1907-
Item 177. Electrical Machines, &c. . . .
Senate’s Message. - Request pressed, that paragraph G be left out.
– I move -
That the requested amendment be not made.
This item depends on the alteration we have made in reference to dynamo electric machines, and, therefore, the present motion is necessary.
Motion agreed to.
Requested amendment not made.
Requested amendment, inserting in item 178 new paragraph bb (Telephones, Telephone Switchboards, and Appliances, free), made.
Item 268. Stone and Marble -
Senate’s Message. - Request pressed, that the paragraph be made free.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the requested amendment be not made.
.- It would, of course, be no use going to a division on this item, in view of what took place on a previous occasion ; and, therefore, I must satisfy myself with protesting against a duty on this particular item.
Motion agreed to.
Requested amendment not made.
Item 303. Timber, viz. : -
Senate’s Message. - Request pressed, that the words “ including door stocks “ be left out, and that the following paragraphbeinserted : - “(d) (i) Timber, undressed, in sizes less than 7 ft. 6 in. x 10 in. x 21/2 in., for door stocks, per 100 super, feet, 2s.”
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the requested amendment be not made.
.- I appeal to the Treasurer to give consideration to the suggestion I previously made, unfortunately, late in the evening. I pointed out that, while the duty on manufactured doors had not been increased, the duty on door stocks, out of which Australian workmen make doors, had been increased. If the Minister’s proposal be carried, door stocks will remain subject to the duty of 2s. 6d., with the result of decreasing the protection afforded to men employed in making doors throughout Australia. The protection granted to the manufacturer of doors in Australia at the present time is so narrow that the greatest possible difficulty is experienced in competing against the doors imported from America. I am told that the amount of timber available for this purpose in Australia is very limited indeed. Even if we made the duty 2s. 6d. per 100 feet super. instead of 2s., the material used in the manufacture of doors would still be imported, or, at any rate, the great bulk of it would be.
– Even if we accepted the Senate’s request, it would not affect all door stocks.
– It would affect many doors.
– Certain sizes only.
– It would affect the bulk of the sizes, ranging in value from about 3s. 6d. to 7s. 6d. per door. I am further informed, in connexion with the smaller doors, that the protection already given is so narrow that the manufacturers in Australia have only the lowest possible margin to work on to enable them to keep the industry going. This information was not at the disposal of the Treasurer when we previously dealt with the subject, and I think that he might listen to an appeal from the Australian worker engaged in this industry.
Requested amendment made.
Requested amendment in item 303, paragraph u (Broom Stocks), made.
Item 356. Paper, viz. : - ….
Senate’s Message. - Request pressed, that the duty (United Kingdom) be 6d. per lb.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the requested amendment be made.
– We have already had two debates on this subject, and the Committee decided that the duty against the United Kingdom should not be increased from 4d. to 6d. per lb. The duty affects only one firm of directory proprietors, andI am unable to understand why they are being differently treated from those who are interested in other books, which are admitted duty free. Why is this particular printed book taken out of the free category ?
– The directories are full of advertisements, for which the proprietors get well paid.
– So are other books.
– Not with my consent.
– The honorable gentleman seems to have a monomania regarding publications containing advertisements.
– This is an Australian book.
– But other Australian books are admitted duty free.
– This is not a book in the same sense as others.
– What difference is there between books on natural history and other subjects, prepared here after great research and expenditure of money, and sent to England to be printed, and this particular book, which is also prepared here after great research and expense and printed in England? Why should’ not a directory be treated in the same way as any other book? But the point in dispute is whether the duty should be 4d. or 6d. per lb. As the duty of 4d. would amount to about 2s. 8d. per copy on the larger directories, surely that would penalise the proprietors sufficiently to satisfy honorable members. It has been stated that the printing can easily be done in Australia.’ It was said in the Senate that a firm of Sydney printers who formerly had the contract for printing Wise’s directories had given up the work on account of the conditions imposed. I have it authoritatively stated that no new conditions were imposed, and that the proprietors of these directories did not vary their contract in any way ; but the firm in question’ indicated that they could notcontinue the printing owing to the difficulties involved. Honorable members are well aware that there are difficulties attached to the printing of such books as directories. A great quantity of type has to be kept “standing,” and a large number of corrections have to be made, which involve a considerable amount of work and conduce to the disturbance of other work with which the printing firm may be concerned. In any case, if thework can be done in Australia a duty of 4d. against the United Kingdom will afford an ample opportunity for Australian printing firms to tender. I protest against an unfair distinction being made between this particular book and other books which may be prepared in Australia, and printed in England. I shall vote against the Minister’s motion.
– Honorable members have been led to believe that there is a difficulty about printing Wise’s directories in Australia. In fact, a circular has been sent out by the proprietors, in which they state -
We have made every effort, both by calling for tenders in the newspapers and interviewing printing firms, to have our publications printed in Australia.
They say further -
No doubt, could we allow the printing to extend over a period of nine months in each year for each work instead of three months, we should not have the difficulty. Owing to the nature of the work, however, it is impossible. We cannot, therefore, find a firm willing to undertake the responsibility.
I have here a telegram from the firm referred to, in which they say -
We printed Wise’s Directory several years, and voluntarily abandoned same only because proprietors’ views regarding price and conditions intolerable. Cheaper prices outside always used as leverage. - Wm. Brooks Ltd., Sydney.
Of course the lower wages paid in England would be used as a leverage .
Mr. Dugald THOMSON.There was not a duty of 4d. per lb. at that time, though.
– The honorable member for North Sydney has asked why a distinction is made between directories and other books prepared in Australia and sent to England to be printed. There may be many reasons. Wise’s directories contain many advertisements that the other books referred to do not contain. The leverage used by the firm in question is easily understood. I have before me a copy of the British Printer, which contains a list of wages paid to compositors in some of the cities in England. They range from 28s. to 34s. per week. In this country, however, the wages of compositors range from£2 12s. to £2 16s. per week.
– The duty of 4d. per lb. is sufficient to cover that difference.
– Such a duty would not nearly cover the difference. There is a great deal of labour involved in printing a book like a directory.
– In this case those who vote for the lower duty as against the United Kingdom will be voting for the flag.
– We have given a considerable amount of preference in this Tariff, and I want to secure preference for Australia in this instance. The fact that the proprietors of these directories use the low wages and long hours of British printers as a lever ought to be a sufficient reason to induce us to make the duty 6d. per lb. The Committee has been entirely misled by the firm in question regarding the difficulty of having the work done in Australia. They say that they have given every opportunity. I have a letter signed by the manager of the printing department of the Advocate, and addressed to Messrs. Sands and McDougall.
– A rival.
– It does not matter if it is a rival or not. Rivalry does not enter into the matter of tendering for the printing of any work at a price.
– Not in getting out a directory ?
– The honorable member is green.
– This firm will have to compete against other firms in Australia, and if any firm puts in a lower tender, then that firm will get the contract.
– They never put ina tender.
– I should think not. If I were in business, I would not put in a tender under the conditions which I understand have been laid down.
– What were the conditions ?
– I do not know what all the conditions were. Here is a telegram from the firm who did the work.
– What does it say?
– I want to get the attention of honorable members for a moment. I intend to read this letter, not to show that Sands and McDougall are going to do the work, but to show that the statement from the agents of Wise’s Directory is not in accordance with fact. Here is a firm who say that the work can be done in the time prescribed, and that they are prepared to do it.
– Why do they not do so?
– Let the honorable member go and ask the firm why.
– They will not pay the price.
– Of course, they will not. Mr. Brooks says that the cheap labour in outside countries is used as a lever against local printers. This is what Mr. C. Smithson, manager of the printing department of the Advocate, says -
With reference to printing Wise’s Directory of Victoria, we should be delighted to take up this work, and would guarantee to turn this directory out complete in a style equally as good as the sample submitted to us.We would require for first issue five months to produce it, and for subsequent editions about three months.
The firm stated that they would require about nine months. The writer continues -
Of course, we recognise that our plant would have to be increased somewhat, but this, Mr. - Winter says, he would immediately do for such a work should he secure it. Personally, I might say, as a practical printer, that there is not any reason, as far as machinery and men are concerned, why such a work should not be printed in Melbourne.
– The Salvation Army could do the work easily.
– Yes. It is doing magnificent work now, and can turn out work equal to any done by any office in Melbourne to-day.
– The Salvation Army has a plant which will turn out a very high class of work, and itwould only need to make a comparatively small addition to its plant to be in a position to turn out Wise’s Directory. However, there is no need to waste time in labouring the question. It is sufficient to say that the statements which were previously quoted to the Committee are not in accordance with the facts, and that there’ is no difficulty now in getting one or a dozen firms in Australia to do the work if the conditions submitted are anything like fair. When a firm state that the reason why the directories were not printed here was not as stated by Messrs. Brooks and Company, of Sydney - that the conditions were bad - the least which they might have done would have been to send a copy of the conditions to honorable members. There is no more difficulty in doing that sort of work in Australia than there is in doing any other class of printing work, and I speak with some experience of printing.
– A protection of 2s. 6d. per volume ought to be sufficient for them.
-I do not think so. I believe that if we impose a duty of 6d. per lb. all round we shall not be granting the measure of protection which has been cheerfully extended to many other industries. I hope that the proposition will not be carried.
.- The honorable member for Hindmarsh, although he has been supporting the proposal for a higher duty, and has spoken about the intolerable conditions under which the successful tenderer was to do the work, has not told us what they were. I think that the Committee ought to be informed on that point.
– The honorable member wants to know too much.
– At any rate, no one will ever accuse the Minister of knowing very much. If he knows anything about this matter he has not enlightened the Committee. He takes too much for granted, so long as the representations come from ‘one side only, and are in the direction of an increase ina duty. I have received a letter from another firm who are interested in this matter. I do not happen to know the writer personally, and I ask the indulgence of the Committee’ while I read the letter in rebuttal of the one just read. It reads as follows -
In the Senate last week, Senator Findley, in supporting an increase of duty to 6d. per lb. preference on directories, said that Messrs. Sands and McDougall had received a telegram from Brooks and Co., of Sydney, stating that the reason they had ceased printing Wise’s Directories was that the conditions imposed by Wise’s were “ intolerable.”
In contradiction to this statement I have to say that the firm of Wise’s never in any way wished or did vary the contract entered into with Brooks and Co. in 1902 ; and, further, that in 1904 Brooks and . Co. undertook the printing of Wise’s South Australian Directory on exactly the same terms and conditions. Again, in 1905, Brooks and Co. advised the firm of Wise’s that they were putting in additional plant, and would be in a better position to cope with the work, and asking for additional directories.
If the conditions were, as the telegram says, so “intolerable,” why were Brooks and Co. anxious in 1904 and 1905 for additional work? I can only presume, from my own knowledge and what has come to light during this debate, that the rivals of Wise’s had induced them to join forces in crushing my firm.
As regards the printing of the works in Aus tralia, I can only reiterate my statement that my firm has not had a single offer to print the works at any price whatsoever.
Trusting the House of. Representatives will retain the 4d. per lb. preference which they have twice carried,
I have the honour to be,
I do not happen to know Mr. Gray, but I received his letter to-day, and have quoted it in order that honorable members may be in a position to form their own conclusions. As regards the contents of the letter, I take no responsibility. Where conflicting statements are made by interested firms, honorable members must realize that there is always very great difficulty in knowing exactly where the truth lies. The firm who produce Wise’s Direc tory are known as reputable people, and I think that their statements may be given that credence which is due to the. statements made by any firm of established repute.
– Where do they print the directory ? Why does it not contain an imprint ?
– Evidently it was printed by Brooks and Company, of Sydney, for 1904-5 and for 1905-6. I consider that a duty of 4d. per lb. as against the United Kingdom is ample protection.
Wise’s Directory for New South Wales weighs as much as a volume of Hansard - about 8 lbs.-
– No; about 4 lbs.
– No; I had a copy here the other day.
– On the honorable member’s own showing the duty is equal to about 121/2 per cent.
– The persons who have to be considered are the public, who buy these directories. There is not a word said on the other side about anyprotection for the unfortunate person who is to pay. According to the Treasurer, and those who think with him, there is only one person to be considered, and that is the person who has something to gain by the duty. The smaller section of the community have to be considered by them, and the largest section have to pay and to look pleasant, whether they can afford it or not. In the opinion of the Treasurer, only one person in this community has any right toreceive any consideration from the Committee, and that is the manufacturer or producer of something in Australia. The taxpayer is not to receive the slightest consideration. Take a New South Wales Directory, which weighs about 8 lbs. At 4d. per lb. the protection on one copy amounts to 2s . 8d. Surely, in all conscience, that is sufficient protection! To raise the duty to 6d. per lb., and thus increase the protection per book to 4s. is, in my opinion, daylight robbery, and nothing else.
.- This is one of those cases which make protection stink in one’s nostrils. This proposal is made absolutely for the purpose of putting a rival firm in a position to force upon the public a directory which is not nearly so good. As a matter of fact, Wise’s Directory for South Australiawas printed from 1902 to 1907 by the Sydney firm, who say that the conditions of tendering were intolerable. Why is this extra duty wanted? Simply because Sands and McDougall are issuing a directory which does not contain within thousands of the number of names in Wise’s Directory. Sands and McDougall do not spend, within thousands of pounds, as much as Wise’s spend on the collection of names. In their Bendigo list, there are not one-fifth of the names to be found in Wise’s list, and the same remark applies to the lists of residents in Geelong, and other Victorian towns. An attempt is being made’ to force on the public a Victorian directory, which is useless in comparison with the full and complete directory issued by Wise’s. The Minister agreed, without a division, to rates of 6d. and 4d.
– He is going back on that.
– He goes back on all his compromises. Has any arrangement made from the Treasury bench been kept?
– Yet the honorable member supports the Government.
– Not in regard to the Tariff. This is an attempt to assist rivals of Wise’s, and: their directory, if it supplants Wise’s Directory, will come out only after long delays.
– It has been shown that it would take fivemonths to print the first set of names.
– I hope that the Committee will insist on the original duties. I have evidence to support all my statements. It is, I repeat, proposals of the kind now being made that cause protection to stink in the nostrils of honest persons. Undoubtedly, Messrs. Sands and McDougall, the issuers of a directory, are pulling in this, and though other honorable members may allow themselves to be pulled, I shall not do so.
.- The honorable member for Grey says that Sands and McDougall are the rival firm in this matter; but they were here before Wise’s firm came into the field; so it must be Wise’s firm which is the rival.
– They have not issued a directory worthy of. the name.
– Sands and McDougall’ s is a business directory, which does not give the names of every resident in country places, nor for the matter of that does Wise’s Directory, I think. I know that for five years a name appeared in the list of residents in Box Hill, although the owner of it was not living in the house with which it was connected.
– Similar mistakes occur in other directories.
– I admit that; but Sands and McDougall do not profess that their publication, except so far as the metropolitan area is concerned, is other than a business directory.
– Who was busy enough to discover the case to which the honorable member refers?
– The honorable member may be sure that I was not ; the information was given to me. The Melbourne Advocate office have stated that they could print, within five months, a directory similar to Wise’s, and that the work in subsequent years would take only three months. If the Melbourne Advocate office could do the work in that time, there must be dozens of other printing offices in Victoria which could do it in less time. The Salvation Army, which has as fine a printing plant , as there is here, could, I am sure, do it in less time. It may be objected that the information in the directory would be five months old ; but that in Wise’s Directory must be still more out of date, because the names after collection here have to be sent to England to be printed, and no local correction of proofs is possible. Then the printed matter has to be sent out again. With regard to the statement made by the honorable member for Lang, regarding the firm of Messrs. William Brooks and Company, let me read the following letter - 159 Clarence-street, Sydney, 21st May, 1908.
Messrs. Sands and McDougall Ltd.,
Dear Sirs,-In response to your request - per telephone this morning - I waited upon Mr. William Brooks - of William Brooks and Co. Ltd. - whom I found had printed Wise’s Directory for several years, and he very courteously gave me information on the subject which enabled me to wire to you in terms as per copy of original message enclosed. I may supplement my telegram by stating that when William Brooks and Co. were printing the Directory they appear to have studied Wise’s interests in every possible way, despite the fact that Wise or his representative failed to observe nearly all the conditions intended to operate in favour of William Brooks and Co., while the conditions governing the financial part of the contract were of the most stringent character and quite unfavorable to William Brooks and Co. Further, it was constantly impressed upon W. B. and Co. that the work could be done at a lower rate in New Zealand and England, and this aspect of the matter was invariably introduced whenever W. B. and Co. endeavoured to secure a more reasonable rate of remuneration for their work. Eventually, becoming tired of the exacting and harassing conditions of the contract, Mr. Brooks informed Wise of his intention to relinquish the work, whereupon Wise implored Mr. Brooks to continue the printing of the Directory. Mr. Brooks was obdurate, and now says that while his firm could easily undertake the work’ without in the least straining their resources, nothing will tempt him to work for Wise again. Given the same work under reasonable conditions, Mr. Brooks is ready and willing to undertake it. I trust I have comprehended your message aright, and that the information furnished will be of service to you.
Copies of Wise’s directories for New South Wales and Tasmania have been produced ; let me produce one of the Western Australian directories, which does not weigh 3 lbs. The duty on that directory, which is sold at £11s., would be1s., or about 4 per cent.
– Surely the rate of duty should be calculated on the cost of printing and bookbinding, not on the cost of compilation. What does the printing and bookbinding cost?
– For every copy of an Australian directory sold outside the Commonwealth there are, probably, 1,000 copies sold inside. Australian directories may be found at the General Post Office, London, and in similar places in some of the other large cities of the world, but there are very few outside Australia.. The duty on the Western Australian directory would be 4 per cent., and that on the Victorian directory would be less than 8 per cent.
– More than 8 per cent. The printing and binding could be done for 2s. 6d.
– No. No information is given as to where Wise’s Western Australian directory is printed. All we are told is that it is “published annually.” As a protectionist, I desire a Tariff which will compel work of this kind to be done here, under conditions which we can regulate by legislation. The honorable member for Hindmarsh has given information as to the rates of wages and the hours which obtain in many places in England. The firm of Wise, if necessary, could get their directories printed in a newspaper office, as his New Zealand directory is printed at the office of the Otago Times. Many newspaper offices could print such a directory in less than three months. I hope that, for the protection of our printers and bookbinders, the Committee will put this duty of 6d. per lb. on Australian directories.
.- The Committee ought not to make any amendment requested by the Senate which, in their opinion, would do an injustice to the people of Australia ; but I think that in this instance we might readily accede to the request of that Chamber. I voted for a duty of 6d. under the general Tariff and 4d. against importations from Great Britain ; but we must, if we are to arrive at an understanding with the Senate, make some of the amendments requested by it, and none is more reasonable than this. A duty of 6d. per lb. is hot heavy. Wise’s Victorian Directory weighs about 41/2 lbs. Assuming that it weighs at the. most 5 lbs., this duty would amount to 2s. 6d. per volume, or about 10 per cent. on the selling price.
– That is not a fair comparison.
– I think that it is.
– The labour of compiling the production is not an element of weight.
– But it is a matter of cost. The position is plain. The weight of this volume is at the most 5 lbs., and the duty can be charged upon it only as it is imported in its finished condition. It is a protection to Australian workmen. In the circumstances, the only way in which we can gauge this duty is to consider the total cost. When we propose to impose a duty on any goods coming to Australia, we do not endeavour to ascertain the cost in the various ramifications of production.
– But in this case, the compilation is done in Australia.
– Quite so; but we must have regard to the selling price of the volume, which is£11s. According to the imprint, this directory is printed in Great Britain. We are unable to say definitely what is the cost of compilation, but it is probable that . it is fully covered by the revenue from advertisements.
– There are very few advertisements.
– There are many. Every name printed in black type is an advertisement.
– The honorable member is missing the point.
– I am not. I cannot go into details respecting the cost of compiling the names in this directory, but, as one having some knowledge of printing, I have no hesitation in saying that that cost is covered by the advertisements. The cost of the paper is about 2s. per volume, so that the selling price is a very fair basis on which to estimate the duty. This duty, amounting to 2s. 6d. per volume”, is a protection to workmen in Australia as against workmen in Great Britain.
– But why should we single out this book for special treatment, when we do not deal in the same way with others ?
– Because it involves a very large amount of labour in printing, and is sold at a very high price.
– Many books, sold at a high price and involving much labour in printing, are allowed to come in free.
– I am not prepared to say that this directory is in the same category as books imported for general educational purposes.
– In the case of those books, no money is spent in compiling them here, Whilst thousands of pounds are expended locally in compiling these directories.
– I think the honorable member will agree that books which are educational in their influence stand relatively in a very different position from this directory, which can be regarded only as a purely commercial concern.
– Has it no utility?
– It has a utility which should be paid for. Books on scientific subject’s, and literature covering various branches of learning are brought in at the lowest possible rate, and made available for general educational purposes. This directory does not come within that category. In the circumstances I consider this is a request that’ might well be accepted, because ‘I see no reason why the printing cannot be done in any of the States as well as it can be carried out in the Old Country. “
– The honorable member for Wim- mera has convinced me that we ought to adhere to our original decision, and maintain the preference of 2d. per lb. He assures us that the paper in each volume costs about 2s., and the duty of 4d. will amount practically to the same sum. Surely a duty of 100 per cent. should be sufficient, and we ought not to increase that protection in respect of imports from the Mother Country to 150 per cent.
– I mentioned that the duty was a protection . to Australian printers. I was not referring to the manufacturers of the paper.
– I think that a duty of 100 per cent. in the case of imports from Great Britain ought to he sufficient. I am in favour of giving a preference to Great Britain in every case. I have consistently supported the principle of preference, and fail to see why we should not preserve it in this case.
. - The honorable member for Grampians has put succinctly the case for the retention of the existing duties.I am amazed that such a practical man as the honorable member for Wimmera should have missed the point, that the compilation of these directories is done in Australia.
– The publishers cannot help that. They would have that work done in England if they could..
– But would the honorable member say that it is not an advantage to Australia that men are employed here in compiling these directories?
– It is an advantage, and we should enjoy a still greater advantage if the rest of the work were done here.
– I am not contending against that proposition, but the honorable member for Hindmarsh and the honorable member for Yarra if they had their way would vote prohibition every time. The chief question involved relates not to the actual printing of these directories, but to the great principle of preference to which this Government is pledged. We decided to grant a preference of 2d. per lb. on directories imported from the Mother Land, and now that another place, which is notoriously opposed to the principle of preference, has requested us a second time to strike out the preferential duty, we find the honorable member for Wimmera and the Government themselves going back on that great principle. The honorable member for Wimmera has shown that the duty of 4d. per lb. is equal to a protection of from 50 per cent. to 100 per cent. on the actual printing and bookbinding.
– What ground has the honorable member for that statement?
– The cost of the printing and bookbinding is from 4s. 6d. to 5s. per volume.
– And the price per volume is £11s.
– But if is the cost of compilation, not the cost of printing, that is responsible for that price.
– The advertisements cover the cost of compilation.
– That is not the point. Upon the weight of the directory for Western Australia the duty now being charged ranges from 50 to 100 per cent. I ask honorable members who believe in the principle of preference to stand to their guns and to extend a real preference to the flag.
Question - That the requested amendment (item 356, paragraph c, “Directories,” &c), be made - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Requested amendment made.
Requested amendment, inserting in item 406 new paragraph b (Atomizers for mining purposes, free),’ made.
And on and after 29th November, 1907 - Item 177. Electrical Machines, Appliances, and parts thereof : -
Senate’s Message. - Request pressed, that the figures “ 500 “ be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the figures “ 10.”
– I move -
That the requested amendment be not made, but that the item be amended by leaving out “ 500 “ with a view to insert in lieu thereof “200.”
This will bring the paragraph under consideration into harmony with the decision of the Committee in respect of paragraph b of this item.
Motion agreed to.
Requested amendments, in item 46 (Liquorice) and item 93 (Pickles, &c.,) made.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to-
That the consideration of item 114 be postponed until after item 123.
Item 115. Carpets, Carpeting, Floor-cloths,. Floor and Carriage Mats of any material except Coir; Lap Dusters; and Floor Rugs and Coverings (including’ Felts and Pads), ad val. (General Tariff) 20 per cent. ; (United Kingdom) 15 per cent. on and after 8th November, 1907.
Senate’s Message. - Request not pressed, that the duty be ad val. (General Tariff), 15 per cent. ; (United Kingdom),10 per cent. Make the item free.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to-
That the requested amendment be not made, but that the duties be made ad val. (General Tariff), 15 per cent. ; and (United Kingdom),10 per cent.
Item 1 20. Gloves . . . .
Senate’s Message. - Request to make item free not pressed. Make the duty ad val. (General Tariff), 30 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), 20 per cent.
Motion (bv Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the requested amendment be made.
– - The Senate now requests that the duties shall be just double those passed by this Committee, and a most extraordinary fact is that, in the first instance, the Senate recommended that the item should be free.
– What is the reason?
– I really cannot explain such an extraordinary reversal.
– I think the Senate has, made a mistake.
– I ask the Treasurer to reconsider this item, because we ought not to be asked to agree to a proposal which does not in any way represent a compromise.
– What does the honorable member suggest?
– Personally, I should prefer the item to be free, but, at most, I think . we ought to adhere to the duties originally carried by the Committee. At any rate, we ought not’ to agree to such an evident absurdity as that now placed before us.
.- I hope that the suggestion of the Senate will not be accepted. First we were requested to make the item free, and then, by some. extraordinary process of reasoning, the Senate go. to the other extreme and suggest duties of 30 and 20 per cent. The protectionist section of the Tariff Commissionrecommended 20 per cent., while the free-trade section recommended 15 per cent, j and, under the circumstances, I see no reason for departing from the decision which .this Committee arrived at originally. The bulk of the gloves- are imported, and the duty in the main is a revenue duty, which, of course, presses very heavily, especially on the ladies. Duties of 15 and 10 per cent, are quite adequate for revenue purposes, and for protecting the small inferior classes of gloves which are made here.
.- The Chamber which has recommended such a reversal’ is the Chamber to which we were this afternoon asked to bow down in the matter of. taxation. How can we listen to a body which would refuse to give protection amounting to 17J per cent, to the engineering industry, and yet propose duties of 30 and 20 per cent, on gloves? This is only an illustration of the unscientific way in which this Tariff has been dealt with. The bulk of the gloves included in the item aire not made in Australia, and I am prepared to vote for duties of 15 and 10 per cent, on gloves because I believe that the people who wear them can afford to contribute in that way to the revenue when the poorer sections of the people are asked to contribute so largely, under other items.-
.- I am not taking any extreme view as to our rights in connexion with these matters, but really it does occur to me that, when in connexion with an item on which we proposed duties of 15 and 10 per cent., another place should have suggested that the item should be free, and should then suddenly propose double the duties to which we had agreed, if we accept such a proposal we shall be transferring the right of taxation with a vengeance to the other Chamber.
. Although the duties suggested by the Senate on this item are exorbitant, I must say that, so far as the right of another place to propose increased duties is concerned, I can see. no difference between this and any other item in the Tariff. I agree with the. honorable member for Dalley that if it is wrong for the Senate to propose an increase, of duties in one case, it is wrong for that Chamber to propose increases in any case. I was very sorry that the motion submitted this afternoon was carried. When the leader of the Opposition so strongly objects to the Senate’s proposal in connexion with gloves, I want to know why he did not take the same strong objection to all the requests by the Senate for increases of duty?
– The honorable member puzzles me so often that I might as well puzzle him’ sometimes.
Requested amendment not made.
Item 123. Piece Goods, viz. : - ….
Senate’s Message. - Modification inserting the words “ including women’s and children’s dress flannels “ after the words “ dressgoods “ not agreed to, and request that the words “ viz. : - Women’s and children’s dress goods” be left out, pressed.
Motion (by Sir William: Lyne) proposed -
That the requested amendment be not made.
.- There is no dispute as to the rate of duty on this item, but I understand that the Senate propose to leave out the words which would limit the item to women’s and children’s dress goods not weighing over 5 ounces per square yard.
– It must not be forgotten that we inserted those words to modify the item.
– The question is whether piece goods weighing not more than 5 ounces the square yard should not be imported at the rates of duty stated for the use of men as well as of women and children.
– We passed the item in this form at the instance of the honorable member for Melbourne.
– I do not know whether men wear any materials of the kind referred to in the item, and I am sorry that the honorable member for Melbourne is ‘not present to give the Committee some information on the subject.
– These goods are made at Parramatta, in New South Wales.
– Under 5 ounces per square yard ?
– Yes ; and we wish to give this protection to the manufacturers.
– I do not know whether these piece goods weighing 5 ounces and under per square yard are manufactured at. Parramatta, as the Minister says. I wish to point out that the item as it stands would do exactly what we intended it should not do. The stipulation as to the weight of these materials gives a preference to the foreigner over the British manufacturer. I am informed that these dress materials, of high quality, light weight, and fine texture, are for the most part manufactured on the Continent. Where the texture and quality are the same, piece for piece, foreign goods of this kind are always lighter than those of British make, and therefore the stipulation as to weight deliberately gives a preference to the foreigner.
– If the honorable member votes for the Senate’s requested amendment, he will extend the preference to the foreigner.
– Not if we also include in the item the words “including women’s and children’s dress flannels,” which we decided to insert after the words “ dress goods “ when we last considered the matter. Whilst we did not agree to enlarge the scope of the item to the extent suggested by the Senate, we still agreed to make it wider than under our original proposal.
– When the item was last dealt with in this Committee. Originally we proposed to confine the item to women and children’s dress goods under 5 ozs. per square yard in weight. The Senate asked that it should apply to all piece goods, woollen or containing wool, under that weight. We did not agree to make it quite so wide, but included “women and children’s dress flannels.” The whole item, whether amended as we propose or as the Senate propose, is a mistake. The stipulation as to weight tells in favour of foreign manufactured goods as against those of British manufacture, because the former are invariably lighter, while it will not give us the protection that we thought it would give. I doubt if we are making goods of this fine quality in Australia.
– Yes; they are being made at Parramatta. I got full information this morning.
– The best thing we can do is to strike out the whole item. Whatever we do in the way of protection, I take it that we want to give a preference, in fact as well as in name, to Great Britain. This proposal does not do so, and is a mockery and a delusion. I move -
That the words “ not weighing over 5 ozs. per square yard “ be left out.
– It is impossible to leave out any words except those dealt with in the amendment. The others have been agreed to by both Houses.
– The Chairman has already ruled that it can be done.
– The Chairman gave an entirely different ruling. Originally the Government proposals contained no limitation as to weight.’ This was inserted at the instance of the honorable member for Melbourne, and somewhat against the Treasurer’s judgment. . The Senate asked that the stipulation should apply to all dress goods, including men’s, under that weight. We refused to agree to that request, as it was too wide; but, in order to meet them in part, we inserted the words including women and children’s dress flannels.” That is as far as the Treasurer thinks he can go.
– The stipulation as to weight was allowed to pass in the Senate through sheer inadvertence.
– I have no knowledge as to that; but it has passed both Houses. The Senate’s proposal is far too wide. It would include men’s dress goods under 5 ozs., and the Committee ought not to agree to it: We are endeavouring to protect our manufacturers, and these particular classes of goods are made beyond any shadow of doubt in New South Wales, and, I believe, in Victoria. I hope the Committee will adhere to the item as we modified it on the last occasion.
.- The desire of the honorable member for Melbourne was to avoid penalizing the poorer classes, as he said these lighter dress fabrics were all imported. The item, however, will not have the effect which the honorable member anticipated. For winter wear, there is not a piece of dress stuff worth making, lor men’s, women’s, or children’s wear, nhat is not over 5 ozs. per square yard in weight, so that in the winter the poorer classes would have to pay the higher rates of duty on piece goods, and get no benefit from this provision. Winter goods under 5 ozs. per square yard are absolutely shoddy.
– The shoddy is the heaviest..
– I mean shoddy so far as wearing is- concerned. In the summer, the position is reversed. All the light materials that women wear in summer will be under 5 ozs. per square yard, so that the lower duty will operate on the costly materials worn by the richer classes. As the honorable member for Parramatta said, these lighter materials are nearly all French, and not British goods. If the intention of the item was to differentiate between the poor and the rich, it is going the wrong way about it. The importer, whether he pays 30’ or 15 per cent., passes it on to the consumer. The only trouble is at the Customs House. The weight of the material cannot . always . be guaranteed, and every case will have to be.opened.
– I do not want to do anything to stop the protective incidence of this item. I am accepting the verdict of both Houses, in this case, that there must be protection. I want to make sure that we do not give a sham preference, or a preference which is actually in favour of the foreign against the British article, as to goods that, must and will be imported. Will the Government accept a limitation of 8 ozs. ?
– We cannot alter it now.
– The Chairman has decided that we can alter it. The honorable member for North Sydney has had the point settled. We can alter the wording of the item.
– A transposition of words is a very different thing from an alteration of meaning.
– I am surprised at the Treasurer not taking the earliest opportunity of removing this absurd preferential item as it applies to Great Britain and foreign countries. By all means keep on . the protection which has been passed ; but surely the intention is to give the manufacturer in the Mother Country at least an equal right to bring his goods in with the French manufacturer. That is my point. This stipulation as to weight shuts out the British and lets in the foreign article. .
– The honorable member is quite mistaken.
– Then the importers of these goods are equally mistaken, because they have assured me- - and have furnished samples to back up their statement - that the item as it is worded will shut out the British article, and let in foreign goods.
– The honorable member has hold of the wrong end of the stick.
– If the Treasurer would make the weight provision 8 ozs., so as to equalize conditions between French and British manufacturers, I should have nothing more to say. Otherwise, I shall have to press the modification of the item by leaving out the condition as to weight.
– I quite agree with the honorablemember for Parramatta. When this item was dealt with by the Committee, I happened to be coming down from Brisbane. In the railway carriage were two commercial travellers with a knowledge of the piecegoods trade. One of them said, when he read what the Committee had done, “ I do not know whether the members of the Federal Parliament are mad, but the fact of the matter is that what they have done will let in the rich person’s material, and exclude that used by poor people.” When I reached Melbourne I called upon two softgoods merchants, and asked them whether what I had beeninformed was correct. They said that they had read the debates in Parliament, and that the effect of the amendment, carried at the instance of the honorable member for Melbourne, would be to let in the very goods which he intended to keep out. Of course, the intention of the honorable member for Melbourne was to give the poorer people the benefit. But, as a matter of fact, the 5-oz. stuff is the richest material made, and it is principally made by foreign manufacturers. I am surprised at the Treasurer supporting such a provision. It is a class tax, and he professes to be opposed to taxes which set class against class.
– The information I have from people who know is exactly opposite from what the honorable member says.
– How much dress material, weighing 5 ozs. to the square yard, is used by poor people.
– The material need not necessarily be rich in quality, because it weighs 5 ozs. to the square yard.
– But such material is amongst the most valuable that is made. I can assure the Treasurer that there are members sitting behind him whowould rather vote to leave out the item altogether than support it in its present form.
– That does not trouble me.
– I should not.
– I do not suppose that the honorable member for Batman constitutes the whole party supporting the Government. He has been very active and prominent during these Tariff debates, and has “cheek “ enough for many things; but if he imagines that he can speak for the whole of the supporters of the Government he has more brazen impudence than I give him credit for. I think that the Committee should either make the weight provision 8 ozs., or leave the item out altogether.
– I have simply been trying to eliminate the stipulation as to weight. If the words to which I object be eliminated, the item will read -
Piece Goods, woollen or containing wool, including women’s and children’s dress flannels.
The duty will still remain. But I want to obliterate this unfair preference to the foreignerover the Britisher. The Treasurer seems to know nothing about the question. If he believes in protection, he has no need to resort to this subterfuge. My proposition would not interfere with the protective incidence of the item. I simply wish to sweep away the differentia tion in favour of the foreigner, but I cannot get that idea into the Treasurer’s cranium.
– The proposition submitted by the honorable member for Parramatta is a very serious one. It would amount to a tremendous invasion upon the 30 and 25 per cent. duties upon woollen goods. In fact, the effect of those duties would be swept away. Under the guise, and with the apparently good intention of having a shot at the foreigner, my honorable friend is certainly going to’ cut very deeply into the duties on woollen goods if he succeeds in getting the words referred to excised.
– Is the honorable member in favour of taxing the poor woman’s dress and allowing the rich woman’s dress to come in free?
– I am not responsible for this limitation as to the weight per square yard. 1 must confess that to me it is a puzzle. How it got into the item I do not know. It was not recommended by either section of the Tariff Commission. I think that it must have crept in on the motion of a private member.
– Yes; on the motion of the honorable- member for Melbourne.
-Perhaps the honorable member made the proposal under a misapprehension as to how it would operate. I am rather suspicious as to how it will operate ; and I should be prepared. to knock out the paragraph, and so have one uniform duty on woollen goods without any discrimination.
– That would be absolutely undoing what we did.
– I believe that very great difficulty will be experienced by the Department in administering the item, because they will have to examine every piece of goods to determine the weight per square yard. I think that the best way to meet all objections would be to amend the request of the Senate by omitting the paragraph, and I shall move a motion to that effect.
– And bring these goods under duties of 30 and 25 per cent. ?
– I shall agree to strike it out..
– I ask leave towithdraw my amendment.
– That is not necessary, as I have not put the amendment to the Committee.
– I move -
That the following modification be added : - “ but that the figure ‘ 5 ‘ be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the figure ‘ 8.’ “
I do not want to interfere with the rates of duty at all.
– That means the destruction of our own proposal.
– It does not.
– It does, absolutely. I have justbeen making inquiries, and that is what I am advised.
.- I hope that the Committee will not accept the amendment. Take the suggestion of the honorable member for Maranoa to increase the weight per square yard to 8 ounces. Before the item went to another place, the importers canvassed on the right hand and on the left to try and get that alteration made, sothat it would include material for men’s clothing. Is the Committee going to be led into the taking off the protection which it gave to the woollen industry ? This proposal is only a means to that end.
– No; no one wants to take it away.
– Representatives of the woollen industry of New South Wales came over specially to this Chamber with a view to stop the weight per square yard from being increased to8 ozs. They were anxious to retain the limitation of 5 ozs.
I am in favour of the suggestion made by the honorable member for Bendigo to wipe out the paragraph.
– Hear, hear. I will accept it.
– If that is done, the woollen industry will then get the protection which the Committee intended to give to it. I am surprised at this suggestion to increase the weight per square yard coming from the honorable member for Parramatta, seeing that it is practically a New South Wales industry which is making this material’.’ He has submitted a proposition which, if adopted, will be the means of taking off some of the protection which we intended that the industry should have. I hope that the suggestion made by the honorable member for Bendigo will be adopted.
.- I only want to point out that the proposal which honorable members on the other side are cavilling at came not from a member of the Opposition, but from the honorable member for Melbourne, whom I think no one will accuse of not being a protectionist.
– Where is he?
– Unfortunately he is ill, and honorable members on his own side of the Chamber want to take a mean advantage of his absence to undo his work.
– That is what it amounts to. I undertake to say that if he were in his place the Treasurer would not be crowing so loudly about the proposal of the honorable member for Bendigo, but on the other hand would be amenable to the persuasive eloquence of the honorable member for Melbourne tonight just as he was on a previous occasion when that honorable member rose in his place, and proposed with the concurrence of the Government what it now seeks to undo.
– I hope that the amendment will not be carried, whatever else may be done, because it would be disastrous to the Australian woollen mills generally. It could not possibly be accepted.
– Will those honorable members who are so solicitous of the interests of the Australian woollen mills show us how the deletion of this limitation as regards the weight per square yard will affect them?
– If it is increased to 8 ozs., it will give them a protection of 15per cent. instead of 35 per cent.
– If the honorable gentleman thinks that the Government are dealing with the local mills unfairly in that way, let them re-arrange the Tariff.
– How can we?
– Will the Treasurer hold his silly tongue ? He sits there grunting like a–
– Take it as said.
– For the last hour the Treasurer has done nothing but sit there and grunt. If he would only rise and make an explanation, I might understand him. I repeat that I had no thought of taking away one iota of the protection which has been given to the local woollen mills.
– But if the honorable member’s amendment is carried, he will absolutely do that.
– I am simply trying to put the British manufacturer on the same footing as the foreign manufacturer. That is my only object. If, when the limitation is struck out, the Government have not protection enough for the local manufacturers, let them re-arrange the Tariff until they have.
– How can we do that?
– The honorable memberknows that it can be done. The only effect of the stipulation as to weight is that these piece goods are coming to-day from France, whereas previously they used to come from Great Britain. Surely we do not intend to produce that result with our preferential Tariff ! That is the very last thing that we are seeking to do, and for honorable members to say that because we want to try to put matters on a fairly equal footing as between the foreigner and the Britisher, therefore we want to destroy the Australian woollen mills, is absurd. I repeat that it is in thepower of the Government to so re-arrange the duties as to protect Australian industries. If they do not do so, it is their own look out. I do not raise that issue.
– I should like to know whether we cannot strike out this provision, which has caused more trouble to those engaged in the soft goods trade than all the other items in the
Tariff. It should never have been inserted. We know that the cheapest articles can be made the heaviest by the addition of shoddy. If “ 8 ozs.” is substituted for “ 5 ozs.” the position will be still worse. I was opposed to the amendment of the honorable member for Melbourne, asI was opposed to his free hosiery proposal ; but I repudiate the statement of the honorable member for Lang that we are taking a mean advantage of him. My position would be the same werehe here to-night.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
.- I wish to point out that in this case both Houses have agreed as to the rates of duty.
– And have validated the collection of the duties.
– Yes . The duties have been fixed at 15 and 10 per cent. from the 13th November last. That has been agreed to by both Houses, and we cannot go back on it. We are engaged now in settling points of difference, and cannot re-open the Tariff in the way proposed, undoing what has been done.
– I hope that the Government - and I address my remarks to the Prime Minister in particular - realizes the gravity of the situation. I do not think that Ministers have properly considered it, and I intend to move a modification on the amendment requested by the Senate. If the paragraph is agreed to as it stands, half the protective effect of paragraph a will be destroyed, and I am sure that Ministers do not wish that to happen to one of the chief items of the Tariff. . The present arrangement allows light woollen goods to come in at half the duty imposed on heavy woollens, which was never intended. .
– It is a deliberately expressed exception to the general rule.
– Yes ; but it evidently crept in as a mistake, or under a misapprehension.
– No. There was a long debate, in the course of which samples were submitted.
– I hope that the matter will be carefully considered by the Government, as otherwise there will be a leakage, and a reduction in the amount of protection given to the woollen industry, which will cause great dissatisfaction, and, perhaps, within a short time an agitation for further Tariff reform.
– This provision was inserted on the motion of the honorable member for Melbourne, and I was forced to accept it against my will. To substitute “8 ozs.” for “5 ozs.” would make the position still worse. As the honorable member for Melbourne is unable, through illness, to be present, and as the matter is an important one, I intend to report progress at this stage.
Mr. DEAKIN laid upon the table the following paper : -
Post Office - Progress report in relation to.
Ordered to be printed.
Motion (by Mr. Deakin) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I wish to enter my protest against this early adjournment. At this stage of the session, seeing that honorable’ members have been so long kept away from their constituencies–
– And from their homes.
– Yes; the Government might have made an effort to proceed further with the Tariff. I do not wish to say anything harsh ; but it is my duty to point out that probably to-morrow time will be occupied in re-discussing matters which were on the point of being settled to-night. I think that there was no good reason tor not finishing the business to-night, and having a message ready to be sent to the Senate to-morrow.
– The honorable member is most unfair. I and the Honorary Minister have been fighting all night to get items dealt with, and an appeal has been made to honorable members to expedite matters. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie is not entirely without responsibility for the time which has been occupied in discussions. He has raised several points, and made several speeches.
– He has spoken only once to-night.
– I thought that he had spoken more than once. However, I am not complaining of that, butI am sure that the honorable member on looking at the items remaining to be dealt with, will recognise that it would be impossible for us to dispose of them during this sitting unless we sat all night. Many honorable members have been travelling all . night, and it has always been the custom not to sit late on Tuesdays.
– I have known the Treasurer to take a very different view oh many occasions.
– Not with respect to late sittings on Tuesdays.
– I hope that the honorable member will consider that phase of the question. I think that he has been rather unfair in suggesting that I am not anxious to push on with the Tariff. I am anxious to dispose of it as soon as possible, but human endurance has its limits. One must have some rest.
– I notice that the paper which’ has just been laid on the table by the Prime Minister contains a reference to the appointment of an independent Board of Commissioners to control the Post and Telegraph Department. I do not say that it is an announcement that the Government intend to make such a proposal, but it contains statements pointing to the view that an independent Board of Commissioners should be appointed.
– It does not say so.
– In the absence of the Prime Minister, I should like to ask the Treasurer whether the Government have determined to propose the appointment of such a Board. Under the heading of “ The future management of the Department,” we have a reference to the opinion of the Public Service Commissioner, who seems to favour the appointment of an independent Board of Commissioners. Then we have the statement-
If appointed such a Board could not relieve the Postmaster-General of his responsibility to Parliament for the working of the Department. Subject to this condition, it might perhaps afford a substitute for the present Central Office under a Secretary and staff whose duties confine them to their desks in Melbourne. Three or more officers clothed with greater authority whose duties, though performed at the Federal Capital for a part of the year, would also require them to keep constantly in touch with the Department’s operations in all parts of the Commonwealth might possess better opporunities of bringing its business methods up to date, and so of satisfying the reasonable demands of the public. They could undertake for the Post Office the duties at present discharged for the Department by the Public Service Commissioner, and in this manner concentrate the administration of this large and expanding Department.
– Read paragraph 95.
– The honorable member has not yet had time to peruse the report.
– I have not had time to look through it carefully, but the paragraph I have just read attracted my attention. Paragraph 95 reads -
But however attractive this or other proposals of the same nature may appear, and admitting that the adoption of new business methods has become essential for the effective federation of six separate State Post Offices, it cannot be denied that there is no direct precedent for such ‘a change, either in the Commonwealth or beyond its boundaries. The management of State railways in Australia presents very different problems and has been dealt with by Acts which differ considerably in their devolution of Ministerial powers. In endeavouring to apply these precedents to the work of a Post Office and a telegraph service operating over the whole Commonwealth daily, and affecting almost every one of its citizens, and to a telephone service rapidly extending to thousands of individual homesteads in remote districts, the problems presented are of another order and require more prolonged examination than could be afforded at present.
May I take it that the Ministry have not decided to recommend to Parliament the establishment of such a Board. If they have formed any opinion on the subject, a statement of it would be of interest to the public, as well as to honorable members.
.- It is only reasonable that we should allow one evening to pass before asking for an explanation of the progress report which has just been presented. It has not yet been perused by honorable members.
– I am asking not for an explanation, but for a statement of fact.
– I think that we might very well allow the matter to stand over until to-morrow, when the Prime Minister will be able to make a statement on the subject.
– The Prime Minister has just left the House, and I should like the right honorable member for East Sydney to defer his question until he is here.
– Very well.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.55 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 26 May 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1908/19080526_reps_3_46/>.