8th Parliament · 1st Session
The Clerk announced the unavoidable absence of Mr. Speaker. Mr.Deputy speaker took the chair at 11.1 a.m., and read prayers.
Mr.WATKINS. - Yesterday, in reply to a questiton asked by me, the Acting Prime Minister said that the Government could not afford to keep State or private shipyards going, and I nek now whether it is not a fact that Messrs. Poole and Steele, who are subsidized by the Government of South Australia, have three or four steamers of the present programme yet to build. .
-Iunderstand that that firm is engaged in the completion of some of the contracts which they got much about the time that the Walsh Island contracts wore let, hut that Walsh Island “- cut out its shed “ a little earlier.
– Will you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, bring under the notice of the Standing Orders Committee the farce thatis played each day in tie absence of Mr. Speaker, the Clerk getting up to tell us that Mr. Speaker is absent, and that youwill therefore take thechair, We know the state of the case, and yon might take the chair without all this frill and flummery.
– It is for the House to refer to the Standing Orders
Committee any. rule which it wishes to have reviewed.
– Standing order 22 says that whenever the House shall be informed by theClerk at the table of the unavoidable absence of the Speaker, the Chairman of Committees shall, as Deputy Speaker; perform the duties and exercise the authority of Speaker in’ relation to all proceedings of the House until the next meeting of the House. I ask the Acting Prime Minister if he will permit me to move that Mr. Deputy Speaker take the chair each day at the accustomed hour until the Speaker has recovered from his illness ?
– I cannot, offband, promise that.
– Well, make the motion yourself.
– I cannot encourage the honorable member in his iconoclastic ideas.
– Then whathasbe- come of your republicanism ? .
– Has it come under the notice of the Minister for Trade and Customs that certain books which have been imported and circulated by some booksellers have been stopped at the Customs when consigned to other booksellers? I have here a hook by Hugh Martin, entitled Ireland in Insurrection. It has been imported by a firm of booksellers in this city and is in circulation. On its cover are pictures of persons known as Black and Tans, and these are labelled murderers.. Another book, bearing on tbe whole subject of Sinn Fein and the Republic. written in a temperate and analytical fashion bya learned professor in Ireland, has been stopped at the Customs, apparently because it . has been imported by a particular firm of booksellers. Have these anomalies been brought under the notice of the Minister; and, if not, will he inquire about them and have them corrected?
– I suggest for the honorable member’s consideration that one of the books to which hehas referred was imported prior to the proclamation prohibiting its importation, and the other sought to be imported after that proclamation.
Unless the honorable gentleman isprepared to furnish me with the names of the booksellers concerned, so that Ican ascertain the exact facts - which I am quite willing to do - I cannot do more than give that as a probable explanation of what has occurred; but if I find that there has been a breach of the Custom’s Regulations, I shall see that the matter is rectified.
South . Australia
– What is the exact position of soldiers in South Australia who are not assisted under the State Act, and what arrangements have been made for the housing of them under the Commonwealth scheme?
– To avoid having two constructing authorities in South Australia, this Government recently concluded with the Government of that. State an arrangement by which the State Government would erect War Service homes, and would alter its legislation so as to provide for all persons whom our War Service Homes Act seeks to benefit. Since then, good progress has’ been made with the construction of houses, no fewer than 696 having been erected, at. an average cost of £648 each, including land. Full provision is made for all soldiers, and’ all dependants df soldiers, in South Australia, as in every other State.
Statement by Mr. Hughes.
– I have been informed, from a number of sources on which I have reliance, that a day or two ago, at Colombo, the Prime Minuter stated that the Imperial Conference, which he is about to attend, will be one of the most important held since Australia won her new status of a separate nation. I wish to learn from the Act-! ing Prime Ministerwhen and how the Commonwealth acquired the status of a separate nation, and why there were no public rejoicings in connexion with the matter?
– I know of no new status that Australia has gained as a separata nation, that is; separate from the Empire. But representatives of the members of the great British Empire family are now hurrying to London to consult together as to what is best to be done in the common interests of the whole.
– Before the Minister for Trade and Customs comes to any decision in regard to the request of the recent deputation, which asked him not to impose the proposed duty on ships, will he inspect the various shipbuilding yards of Australia, and see whether or not they are capable of building vessels of any size or type?
– The duty upon ships set out in the Tariff schedule is a deferred duty. First of all, the House must determine whether or not it shall remain in the schedule, or in the form in which it appears there, and then, if the House decides that it must remain there, it will be the responsibility of the Minister for Trade and Customs in office at the time the duty is to operate to say whether it shall be applied or not.
asked the Post- master-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Rent of Buildings
asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
What is the annual rental paid for buildings occupied by the various Commonwealth Departments in the State of South Australia?
– Thetotal annual rental paid for all Departments in South Australia is £5,974.
asked the Post master-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
Will he supply the following information: -
The number of soldiers settled on the land in South Australia?
The number of eligible soldiers waiting for land?
The area and price paid for land for soldiers’ settlement? 4: The land available for immediate allotment?
Total amount advanced for stock, implements, fencing, &c.?
Number settled on repurchased land?
Number settled on Crown lands?
Amount advanced by the Commonwealth to the State Government for land settlement?
– Action is being taken to obtain the desired information, whichwill be furnished to the honorable gentleman as early as possible.
The following papers were presented : -
Defence Act -
Regulations- Statutory Rules 1921, No. 88.
Regulation Amendment. - Statutory Rules 1921, No. 87.
.- I move-
That leave of absence for one month be given to the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) on the ground of ill-health.
Honorable members are aware of the serious affliction from which the honorable member js suffering, and I am 6ure there is not one honorable member on either side of the House who does not sympathize with the honorable member, and deeply regret the unfortunate happening to him.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill presented by Sir Joseph Cook, and read a first time.
– (By leave). - I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
As I explained last evening, this is a simple alteration to the Westralian
Farmers’ Agreement Act. The effect is to make the scheme upon which the farmers of Western Australia propose to embark for the bulk handling of their wheat a more modest one. It will relieve the shareholders of the necessity for collecting £60,000 more capital, and also relieve the Commonwealth in the meantime to the extent of £110,000 of its obligation. I commend the measure warmly to honorable members. I think the farmers of the western State are acting wisely in proceeding, in the circumstances, with a modified scheme, and in confining their operations for the present to the building of terminal silos.
.- This House in August last passed a measure confirming an agreement between the Commonwealth Government and the farmers of Western Australia, who were about to form a co-operative concern for the purpose of handling their wheat in bulk. It provided for a capital expenditure of £800,000, and’ stipulated that the farmers should allot at least 300,000 shares at 10s. a share. After they had spent £100,000 in the erection of silos in country districts, or at terminal points, the Commonwealth was to lend them £1 for every £2 expended by them. That, shortly, was the proposal put before the House. There was little opposition to it. Honorable members of the Opposition endeavoured to secure the insertion of one or two small amendments, but beyond that there was no division, either on the second or the third reading. Evidently the farmers of Western Australia calculated rather highly. Otherwise we would not be asked to amend the Act. Apparently, they have not been able to issue the whole of the 300,000 shares.
– That is not quite the point. They could raise the whole amount, but with a modified scheme, there is no necessity for doing so.
– They were unable to raise the full share issue, but the fact that over £240,000 has been subscribed is a satisfactory achievement for a small State like Western Australia.
– And they are nearly all struggling wheat growers.
– I was about to make the same remark. We are asked in this modified Bill to assist the farmers’ co-operative organization in Western Australia to erect terminal silos.
In order to do that, it is necessary to amend the agreement so that we may advance to> the society a certain proportion of the money originally arranged for, notwithstanding that they have not been able to fully comply with the terms of the Act. In view of the fact that the Federal Government is not asked, in this amending Bill, to incur further obligation, I cannot see that any great objection need be offered to the proposal. We are simply reducing, as it were, the amount provided for in the Act. That is to say, because the farmers were not able to take up the whole of the 300,000 shares, they have approached the Government for the purpose of having the Act amended so that they may proceed with the erection of terminal silos as portion of the whole scheme for the preservation of their wheat. The amount to be advanced by the Commonwealth Government is to be reduced, proportionately. Instead’ of being called upon to advance to the society £550,000 the Government, in the terms of this amending Bill, will be authorized to advance up to £440,000, which is the true proportion of subsidy to the farmers’ capital investment in the venture. The war demonstrated the urgent need for the protection of the wheat crops of Australia. It would have been much better if the proposed silos were built on land owned by the cooperative society. If I remember aright, during the’ debate on the scheme some little time ago, it waa stated that the site of the terminal silo at Fremantle was owned by the State Government; but, nevertheless, the Commonwealth is amply protected “by mortgage’ over the securities of the society, which moreover has to expend £100,000 of its own money before the Commonwealth is required to advance anything by way of subsidy. I am sorry to have to say it, but I believe there is a bad time ahead, and that neither the Federal Government nor the State Governments will be able to get all the money they require for public works. This will mean a large amount of unemployment I fear in the near future, although I hope I am wrong in that supposition. If this co-operative society can undertake the expenditure of £100,000 on its terminal elevator it will provide employment for a good number of men in the western State, and to that extent the Commonwealth Government will be relieved from its obligation, because it will not be called upon to expend one shilling of subsidy until the society has spent £100,000 on the scheme. The rate of interest on the Commonwealth subsidy will be 6 per cent.
– We paid 6£ for the last loan.
– Probably the rate in respect of this-subsidy would represent 6£ per cent.- if the necessary charges were added. It is very advisable that every effort should be made to find employment during the trying period that is ahead of us, and this is one way.
– We should also encourage production.
– Exactly, and if we encourage production we must also make provision for the protection of our primary products from deterioration. This may be regarded as an urgent matter. Another subject to which, perhaps, I may be permitted to refer as equally urgent, is the question of increasing the allowances paid to our old age and invalid pensioners. I hope the Government will consider this matter. I believe the House is favorably disposed towards it,- and also towards an increase in the exemption of the Income Tax Act.
.- The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) is to be congratulated on the manner in which he has dealt with this Bill; but the position is scarcely as he stated it - that the farmers of Western Australia undertook more than they were able to carry out. What is now sought is a temporary modification of the Act passed last August. Experts have unanimously advised that the first work to be undertaken should be the erection of the terminal elevator, because the money so expended will immediately come into utilization. It is regarded as the wisest’ course, and it is therefore pot necessary to call the whole of the money Until the terminal site has been erected. There is another reason why it is not advisable simultaneously to go on with the whole scheme. Materials have come down in price somewhat and will drop lower, and the advantage thus gained will be shown over the entire scheme. Therefore, it would not be good policy for the society to proceed with the whole of the work at once. When terminal elevators have been erected they will be used immediately, even though the other section of the scheme may not be completed. It is unnecessary for me to speak further in support of the Bill.
– I wish to raise one point, and to do so early, in order that some representative from Western Australia when speaking may put me right ifI am under a misapprehension as to the real position. My point is apart altogether from the desirability or otherwise of providing silos. If I understand the position rightly, the Government of Western Australia takes no financial responsibility whatever. If that be so, then we are establishing what may. possibly prove to be a very dangerous precedent.
– That point was raised when the original Bill was before the House.
– I do not think I was present when the original Bill was under consideration. There is involved a question of principle which ought to be discussed.
– This assistance was promised to all the States.
– To all the State Governments.
– That is the point. I may be wrong, but I do not think such a course as this has been taken in regard to any previous business venture.
– I would remind my honorable friend that this Bill simply provides for a modification of the original agreement.
– I am aware of that; but I wish to place my views on record. This point will be raised again.
– The question of principle was considered on a previous occasion.
– The position is no better because of that.
– Does the honorable member object to the farmers helping themselves in this way ?
– I do not, and if the honorable member could only see a little further than his nose, he would realize that the point I am raising has nothing whatever to do with the erection of silos. I intend to make my statement whether honorable members like it or not. We are undertaking to render a service to the farmers of Western Australia. I do not object to that. The point I wish to raise is that if we are to undertake this service, and incur the liability set out in the agreement, the State Government of Western Australia should be behind it. Who ought to know the position from every point of view better than the State Government? I ask the representatives of Western Australia in this House to’ let us know whether the State Government stands behind this liability, and, if not, why not?
– They have done so. They have passed legislation offering every facility for this scheme, but they did not think it desirable that there should be two mortgagees. There is one mortgagee now, and that is the Commonwealth.
– That is no answer to my inquiry as to whether the Western Australian Government is behind this scheme. If it is not, I want to know the reason why.
– There is no need for the State Government to be behind it. This is a gilt-edged proposition.
– But where is the application of this principle to end ?
– Why did not the honorable member vote against the originalBill ?
– I do not think I was here at the time, but I told the promoters of the scheme that I should completelyobject to it if the State Government did not stand behind it.
– Why is thisspecial arrangement made in regard to the farmers of Western Australia?
– It is probable that similar schemes will come before us from other States. If the liability is one which the Commonwealth should properly incur, then the State Government should stand behind it. It is not because of want of sympathy with any legitimate effort to stimulate and increase production that I raise this question. The principle involved is important, and I ask the Acting Prime Minister (Sir Joseph Cook) for a reply to my inquiry.
– The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Richard Foster) has done a service to the House by raising the question of the principle involved in this proposal. At the present time there is a great lack of housing accommodation in the State capitals. If a company is formed to build homes for the people in, say, Melbourne or Sydney, and applies to the Commonwealth for assistance in carrying out that scheme to the extent of a Government contribution of £2 for every £1 spent by it, will there be any objection to the application of this principle to such an enterprise ?
– - Why raise this point now ?
– Because I think the Government have been rather lax.
– Even if this Bill were dropped we should still have on the statute-book a measure providing for the bigger scheme.
– I am pleased that such a measure is on the statute-book of the Commonwealth. It will be a useful precedent to the Labour party when we get into power. ‘ The people of Australia find it difficult to obtain the clothing and blankets they require at the present time. If co-operative companies are formed to produce such goods i-i Australia, will the Commonwealth Government come to their assistance as they are coming to the aid of this co-operative enterprise? Will my honorable friends from Western Australia agree to assist any similar co-operative concern ?
– Yes, on similarly safe lines.
– I am pleased to have that assurance, because the principle foi which this Bill provides may be extended to other enterprises. Australia is not producing anything like the quantity of woollen goods that it consumes, and I hope that if co-operative companies are formed to carry on the woollen industry here the Government will be prepared, as in this case, to assist them in supplying the requirements of the people. I shall vote for the Bill, because I believe in the principle of the Government assisting cooperative enterprises.
.- I have been surprised at the speech delivered by the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Richard Foster), because
I know what are his political views, and his - remarks on this Bill were hot in accord with the political opinions to which he usually gives expression. In the policy speech on which the National Government were elected the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) promised that advances would be made by the Commonwealth Government on safe lines to assist production. He realized that we have enormous waste spaces in Australia. He realized the necessity for populating this great country. He made definite promises that co-operative organizations established to increase production would be given Commonwealth assistance, and an Act was passed, two years , ago, enabling £2,800,000 to be allocated for this purpose. Knowing the honorable member for Wakefield as I do, I should have thought that he -would give his approval to a proposal such as that contained in this Bill, where the control of the enterprise to be assisted is left, as far as possible, in the hands of those engaged in the industry.
– Why is not the Western Australian Government behind the business ?
– The honorable member must know that the Western Australian Government are behind this proposal, but he desires that they should fill the position of a second mortgagee. We have to satisfy ourselves that the security proposed is good enough and that this enterprise will help to increase the production and wealth of the country. It should be remembered that, as has already been pointed out, this Bill represents merely a modification of a proposal which was accepted by this House almost unanimously a little time ago. I trust that there will be no serious opposition to the passing of the Bill. The difficulty of providing labour need not greatly concern honorable members, in view of the great probability that the proposal will increase the wealth of the community and so will provide for increased employment. I am prepared to give the Bill my most earnest support. It does not involve any new principle. Only the other day, at Shepparton, I saw evidence of marvellous progress as the result of assistance given by the Victorian Government to fruit-growers and muttongrowers. I was told that tinned fruits to the value of no less than £90,000 were, this year, sent away from the canning works at Shepparton. I hope that honorable members ‘will pass the Bill, which I believe to be a good one.
.- When a Bill similar to this was before this House on a previous occasion I opposed it as strongly as I could. One of the grounds for my opposition was that the people of Western Australia took no interest in the proposal, and showed that they had no confidence in it. The Commonwealth Government have no right to lend money for such purposes without satisfactory security. Another objection I had to the original proposal was that, at the time, there was in existence a coalition Government, which we know is an immoral Government, and will do things which no other Government would do in order to please different sections of their supporters. I know <that on’ the last occasion on which we dealt with this business an . honorable member said -
Of course, the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Prowse) says that the Bill is a very good one. Only a few days ago, after a division had been taken in which the Government narrowly escaped defeat, I heard a member of the Country party remark, “ If the Government do not do what’ we wish them to do, they will be faced with something even worse than this.”
– I think the honorable member is quoting from Hansard of the present session.
– There is no date on the volume from which I am quoting. I wanted to show that the outcome of that threat to the Government was the measure then brought forward. My action in opposing that measure has been more than justified, inasmuch as it has since been shown that the people of Western Australia, who will benefit from the proposal if it is a success, have failed to support it. If anything more is required to condemn the proposal, I am unable to say what it is. The people of Western Australia have, not subscribed the funds they undertook to subscribe when this House was asked to pass the previous measure. In my view, this is a rotten business to ask the Commonwealth Government to enter upon. If there are men on the Treasury bench who are not alive to the need- for security before money is advanced for an undertaking of this kind, it is time a change of Government was brought about. It is the first duty of members of this’ House to sc< that there is good’ security for any money advanced by the Commonwealth. The honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. James Page) and I represent the two States of the Commonwealth which, because of their larger populations and greater resources, will have to bear the burden for the benefited the smaller States. Some honorable members are very anxious to obtain from the other States the money required to finance this enterprise to help Western Australia.
There are some honorable members who howl from the housetops at the idea of the Commonwealth Parliament passing any Socialistic legislation, but there could be no more Socialistic legislation than that now proposed. It stands to the discredit of the Western Australian Government that it tried to blind the people as to the real meaning of the financial business that was being undertaken. More consideration should be given to public finance than in the past ; but Mr. Lloyd George,’ and, following him, our own Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) seems to pursue a policy of rousing the people to a state of excitement, and then using tha’t excitement for the purpose of passing legislation which ‘ I feel quite sure future generations, not only in Australia, but in Great Britain, will condemn. We all remember how the Country party threatened the Government with votes of censure in order to attain ends desired by country interests. ,
– The honorable member is not in order in imputing improper motives to honorable members.
– If I cannot impute im- ‘ proper political motives, then God help discussion ! I am not calling the members of the Country party scoundrels, but merely denouncing their political views.
– Will the honorable member please deal with the Bill?
– I am under the impression that I have been dealing with the Bill all the time; and I am only sorry that Mr. Deputy Speaker seems unable to realize the fact. This Bill is introduced because the people of Western Australia have shown that they have no confidence in the scheme. No. better evidence df that oan be found than the fact that, when the Government offered to subscribe £550,000, the people of Western Australia refused on their part to ‘subscribe £300,000, the latter being a condition precedent.
– The leaders of the honorable member’s party took a prominent part in working up the scheme.
– I am speaking as the representative of East Sydney, and in a national spirit, and I claim my right to do so. I do not know how the Western Australian members can sit in their places, considering the humiliating position, in which they have placed themselves. Last night, when the proposed additions to the Perth Post Office were under consideration, I noticed that Western Australian members cleared out -of the chamber.
– The honorable member is now dealing with other honorable members, and not with the Bill.
– Then I shall say that last night I noticed the absence of representatives of a certain State. I have no doubt that the Treasurer (Sir .Joseph Cook) feels his position very keenly. I defy any honorable member to point to similar legislation in any Parliament in Australia. No one can deny that this proposal is for the benefit of the farming community, seeing that it has for its object the storing of wheat in order to keep up its price. There is no excuse for the refusal of those interested in wheat to subscribe towards the £300,000, for never before had they such heavy balances at their back. ‘Where is their patriotism? What is their idea of the future of the wheat industry? I can quite understand the financial institutions not “rushing” the proposal; because there is not that sound security behind it that there would have been if the State of Western Australia had been a guarantor. With good security, we should have found not only the banks, but insurance and trustee companies contributing the necessary money, which would have obviated the humiliation to which the representatives of Western Australia are now subjected. If the scheme had been a sound business proposition there would have been no necessity for this Bill, and’ members would be very well advised to hesitate before supporting it. Other States do not ask the Commonwealth to advance money on security that is not of the best. In financial matters, the Government ought to show an example and not take risks; it ought to offer ari object lesson to those inclined to enter into speculations of this character. After all, this Bill has in view only a terminal port ; the wheat will have to be bagged from the country districts to the silo, so that that branch of the work “will not be obviated. My own opinion is that the silo will not be used, and that, I take it, is «one of the reasons why those interested in the wheat industry have not’ subscribed the -necessary capital. My acting Leader (Mr. Charlton), with that -affability .so characteristic of him, .has intimated that he raises no great objection to “the measure. The Bill provides for the expenditure of a lesser amount than -was contemplated under the original Act. Our only consolation, therefore, is that the Commonwealth will suffer a smaller loss. In my judgment the scheme is not a sound one. The State of Western Australia ought to guarantee the Commonwealth against all loss in connexion with the proposed undertaking. If the scheme were an ordinary business one, the person who had to advance the money would require the feesimple of the land upon which the proposed silos are to be erected.
– The honorable member is a great believer in freehold titles.
– That has nothing whatever to do with the question which we are now considering. I am prepared to debate the question of leasehold versus freehold with the honorable gentleman upon any public platform. I am thoroughly satisfied that the undertaking upon which we are now asked to embark is not a sound one.
– Was it sound business when the Commonwealth handed over £7,000,000 of loan money to New South Wales?
– Tie honorable member talks so rapidly that I am quite unable to follow him. In addition, I am not good at answering conundrums. Whereever the Commonwealth enters upon such an .undertaking as is outlined in the measure which is now before us it should be absolutely guaranteed against loss. But no enterprise of which I have any> knowledge is pregnant with such possibilities of loss as is that which we are asked to approve in this Bill.
– I unhesitatingly support the measure enabling the Commonwealth Government to make an advance by loan for silos to be constructed by cooperative farmers in Western Australia. It represents a move in the right direction. I agree with the encouragement of the principle of co-operation, and in new countries like those of Western Australia and Queensland, the people are badly in need of that encouragement. It is all very well to say that they should lean upon their State Governments. At the present time the Queensland Government have no money with which to proceed with any of their enterprises. In such circumstances the parent Government ought to go to the primary producers’ assistance so as to promote the growth of our primary industries, and with a view to settling as many people as possible in the great States of Queensland and Western Australia. There are 419,000,000 acres in Queensland, of which 400,000,000 acres aTe still unalienated. It is our duty to encourage settlement upon Crown lands, and to achieve that result the settlers must receive either from the State or the Commonwealth some measure of financial assistance. If that assistance can safely be granted upon co-operative lines, as it can be in this case, it should be granted. I hope that, in the near future, Queensland farmers will come to the Commonwealth Government with a request for assistance by way of loan in the erection of silos for the maize industry, which is destined to become a very important industry, not merely to returned soldiers, but also to immigrants.
– I intend to oppose the Bill at every stage. Ever since the opening of this Parliament honorable members of the Country party have been doing nothing else but preaching economy.
– This is a matter of wheat, and not of wool.
– The laugh is upon the other side. The wool industry has not asked this Parliament for a single copper. All that those who are interested in that industry have said is, “Leave us alone. We can pay our taxes and we can pay our creditors 20s. in the £1.”
– The honorable member merely asked us to fix the price of wool a little bit higher for him.
– Does the honorable member think that 8d. per lb. is a high price to pay for wool ?
– Then why did he make that remark? As a matter of fact, the wool-growers of Australia did not need even the small consideration for which they asked. What was done by this Parliament has merely had the effect of stabilizing the industry. But we have nothing for which to thank honorable members. We want nothing from them. All that we ask of this Parliament is that we may be left alone. Only last night the honorable member’ for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Austin Chapman) pointed out what taxation the man upon the land is really paying. My principal objection to the Bill is that it is not in the interests of the country at all. Last evening we witnessed the spectacle of £50,000 being voted for city interests in connexion with additions to the Perth Post-office.
– Order! The honorable member must not reflect upon that vote.
– I beg your pardon. Surely I am at liberty to make a passing reference to it. When the Government are going to spend more money in Perth-
– I would remind the honorable member that when a vote has once been agreed to by the House it must not be the subject of any imputation or reflection.
– This is a new dictum. Evidently the expenditure of money which has already been voted cannot be criticised. I am very sorry, sir, to hear you make that statement.
– The honorable member may refer to the matter at another stage, but he is not at liberty to do so upon this Bill.
– I am merely making an incidental reference to the fact that country interests are not being adequately safeguarded.
– All expenditure for the city.
– All for the city every time. Not a word was said last night against that money being spent in the capital of Western Australia, and this morning a fresh Bill .comes down for spending another sum near that city, because we are told that they are going to erect the silos only at the terminal ports.
– A very wise thing to do.
– It may be from the honorable member’s point of view, because he is interested in ports. Only yesterday the Treasurer told the House and the country that there was no money available to settle returned soldiers and Imperial soldiers on the land in the Burnett district, which the honorable member for Wide Bay represents, yet he had nothing to say about that. He sat in silence, but when a proposal comes forward to spend money lavishly in Western Australia, he says it is a good thing. He had not a word to say for his own State and for the district which he represents. He sat there smiling, and why? For political reasons, because there happens to be a Labour* Government in Queensland, and the harder that Government is hit, the more pleased he is. If ever there was a fraud and sham perpetrated on the Houses-
– The honorable member knows that I am interested in the farmer.
– -The only time the honorable member is interested in the farmer is when he is going -to get something out of him. That is my experience of him, and I have known him for years, not personally, but by repute. It is a peculiar thing that, although the honorable member and his crowd have always tried to put me out, I have been here ever since this Parliament first met. If the Country party are consistent-
– There is no “if” about that.
– If there is one thing more than another which makes the Country party consistent, it is their inconsistency. In one breath they condemn the Government for spending money, and in the next the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) compliments them, as he did this morning, on what they are doing.
– But this is a sound investment.
– I have had a lot to do with investments. I have never known one yet which was not the soundest in the world until they got hold of my “ few bob,” and then I am sorry to say that every one of them has turned out a blank. I do not blame the Western Australians for getting all they can, but what I do blame them for is their inconsistency in asking for money to be spent at the terminal ports of their State when it could be advantageously saved. Although it could have been saved, not one word of protest has come from the Country party.
– If they were asking for more money instead of less, there would be some justification for the honorable member’s remarks; but they are not.
– As man to man, leaving politics out of it altogether, does the honorable member think that this is a sound scheme ?
– Then why does not the honorable member put his money into it?
– I put £1,150 into it before the honorable member started.
– If it is such a good “ spec,” let the honorable member put another £1,150 into it. I started with about a “ fiver,” and as I kept going, and saw it was such a good “ spec.” I put more “ fivers “ in until I had put in thousands.
– The honorable member for Swan put in all he had.
– He could not put in much more.
– He is trying to put more in now.
– Yes, of the Commonwealth’s money. I have neverhad that opportunity, or I might have been in the same boat as the honorable member. I should like to see as much money as possible put into the primary industries, but are those industries going to gain anything by the two votes asked for last night and this morning?
– This will save the expense of bagging.
– They will have to bag the wheat just the same in the country.
– They can get the bags back. That is a big consideration.
– The honorable member means that they can tip the wheat into the silos, and take the empty bags back. That will be some consideration. If this is such a good proposition as honorable members would try to make us believe, I am sure there are plenty of business speculators in the Commonwealth who would go into it with both hands and both feet. If there is one thing more than another that makes me chary of it, it is the interjection of the honorable memberfor Echuca (Mr. Hill). They have had a long time to gather the money.
– The honorable member for Echucahas not replied to your question whether he believes this is a sound scheme.
– I will not press the question, as I should not like to put the honorable member for Echuca in a false position. He is a hard-headed business man. It is an undertaking that, candidly, I should not go into.
– Then let us have a vote.
– I am going to vote against the Bill at all stages. “We shall have a day out on this Bill. If I oan get any one else to call for a division with me, I shall do so at every stage.
– The honorable member evidently does not want to lessen the liabilities of the Commonwealth.
– I have been saying ever since I rose that I wondered at the members of the Country party voting for either of these two appropriations. If that does not show I am anxious to lessen the liabilities of the Commonwealth, I do not know what would. There is something I have heard, but I shall not repeat it here, because I have no confirmation of it. A man who makes serious statements on the floor of the House ought to have something behind him, and the mattter to which I refer would involve a serious statement.
I am pleased and proud to know that the Western Australians always hold up their end of the log. They say they have one of the finest countries under the sun, and I believe they have a fine country. When I was overthere, what they were doing in the way of agriculture and fruitgrowing was a revelation to me.
– Why not encourage them more?
– If the Bill would do good to men on the land, I would support it heartily.
– In opposing the measure, the honorable member puts a greater responsibility on his party, because the Bill reduces the amount of the advance.
– These gentlemen cannot get the necessary shares taken up. That is what is the matter.
– Then you should sympathize with them.
– To what extent?
– It has often been said, and it is a truth, that there is no sentiment in business; but this is a sentimental proposition.
– Did you raise the same objection to the Bawra wool scheme?
– That scheme did not ask the Commonwealth to provide money. What guarantee have we that this measure will be final?
– If they wentto work and raised the necessary shares, the Commonwealth would be committed to a larger advance.
– I was very ill when the first Bill was introduced, or I should have opposed it as strongly as I oppose this.
– Should this Bill be defeated, the Act will still remain.
– The Bill will not be defeated, because all the honorable members opposite - Nationalists and Country members alike - are behind the Government. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Richard Foster) may rage and threaten, but when a division is taken, he and all the others on that side will vote for the Government. But the Bill will not pass without a protest from me at every stage. I shall oppose it in the interests of economy, and the real economists must support me. Why should the Government give £.300,000 to the Westralian Cooperative Farmers Association?
– The money is only being lent, and will be repaid.
– I have had experience of persons who, in borrowing a “ tenner,” say, “ I shall let youhave it back at a certain date.” The money never comes back.
– Perhaps your attitude to would-be borrowers is the same as ‘that towards the Bill.
– With all my knowledge of human nature, I, like other honorable members, am occasionally taken down. No one seems to have any qualms about taking down the Government. This morning a man tried to evade payment of a tram fare, and I said to him, “ That is rather mean,” but he replied, “Oh, this is partly a Government affair. No one is hurt.”
– What is proposed is one form of protecting the farming community.
– I should be well satisfied with a system of Protection that gave me an advance of £300,000. Testerday, the Acting Prime Minister said that bc had no money to lend to the Queensland Government. The Commonwealth would be more likely to get money back from a State Government, or, at any rate, interest on its advance, than from a private corporation. Population is needed in Queensland, ,and the State Government asks, not for £2,000,000 in a lump sum, but for permission to ‘ draw up to that amount, to settle our returned soldiers, and the Imperial Service men, on the rich Burnett lands. There was no protest from Country members, or from the representative of the district, when the Acting Prime Minister said that he had no money to lend. Yet to-day it is proposed to advance money to a farmers’ cooperative company in Western Australia.
– Why do not the Queensland Government give freehold to soldier settlers instead of perpetual leaseholds?
– The only difference between freeholds and perpetual leaseholds is that the latter are reappraised at intervals, and surely the people have the right to any increase in the value of land due to community effort.
.- I congratulate the Country party on their success in securing the presentation of this measure to the House. It is an achievement. It is clearly designed in their interests, and in those of their friends , and of a particular class of person in Western Australia. In matters of this kind I have noticed that the Minister’ in charge addresses himself almost exclusively to members of the Country party. We know that if a proposal of this nature had not the indorsement, and, indeed, had not been moved for in the first place by members of the Country party, it would not have been accepted by the Government, nor’ presented to Parliament. Thus, I emphasize, the Country party are entitled to my felicitations. The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) is just fresh from his entirely laudable work of making this country blossom like the rose, by means of the Tariff; and, while so engaged, it was a matter for criticism that members of the party in .the corner looked upon him with a somewhat scowling front, and that the Minister, when he made his apology, directed it and all his arguments to the Corner. This, then, is a solatium, and those honorable members are happy. Secondary industries have been amply promoted during the past week, and now something is being done by this benevolent Government for .primary industry.
– Is the honorable member aware that the Government agreed to a very similar proposition, which involved the expenditure of about a million of Commonwealth money, in New South Wales ?
– The honorable member for Dampier assumes an ignorance on my part to which I cannot plead guilty. I recall, also, the introduction of the original measure dealing with the identical subject-matter of the Bill now under discussion; and, upon that occasion, I offered a few words of criticism. I remarked that this was a proposal to lend money to a wealthy corporation in Western Australia- public funds, which were unsecured. I repeat that criticism. This proposition represents a;n unsecured advance out of public funds to promote the interests of a Western Australian company; and, while it may be good for the company. and for the local farmers, I ask that this benevolent principle of State Socialism be extended throughout the Commonwealth, and not confined to the friends and interests of those who may be able to bring special pressure to bear upon the Government. I note that the shareholders in this concern are to be bona fide grain growers. There is no guarantee, apparently, given or sought te satisfy honorable members of what a bond fide grain grower may be; but I have sufficient confidence in the enterprise of some of the people interested in grain, and who are not altogether bond fide grain growers, to suggest that they will very soon, by specious representations, acquire an interest in this company as bond fide grain growers - an interest sufficient, at all events, to satisfy this Government, which is so easily satisfied when it has to placate the Country party. We are amending a measure which was passed last year, and was designed for purposes which are set out afresh in the Bill before the House. We are amending it, I apprehend, because in certain particulars the original Bill was found to be, on the financial side, rather more dangerous “than was at first supposed. .
– We are cautious.
– I give the honorable member and his party fullest credit for caution. No one can suggest that they have failed in the smallest regard where their own interests in this Parliament are concerned. Every one knows, for example, how staunchly they have stood for the principle of Protection, except when it applied to something which they used, and that only then did they abandon that great principle. Now, in like manner, in coming here to secure some public funds to assist the primary producer in Western Australia, I give them the fullest credit for looking after their own interests. The trouble with certain honorable members on this side, such as the honorable members for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney), Gwydir (Mr. Cunningham), and Maranoa (Mr. James Page), is that they are foolish enough to give a whole lot of consideration to the general taxpayer, to the worker, and to the consumer, instead of merely - like honorable members in the Corner - paying attention to the farmer and the grazier. Let us by all means have a general and a generous expansion of this principle of Socialism. I want State-aided boots in Batman, for one thing. Boots are dear, and many of my electors are in need of them. I propose now, as I have before, that the Government favorably consider the suggestion made by me to form a boot manufacturing company in the district of Batman, which will be able to come with confidence to the Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) for support, with the object of producing good and cheap boots for the people of Australia, and especially those in the electorate of Batman, which I represent. I criticised a similar measure upon these lines. Icongratulated the
Country party originally, and remarked then, as I now remark, that it is a somewhat unpleasant and sinister aspect of our political activities to-day when a Nationalist Ministry, so opposed to anything in the nature of State Socialism, should turn to the Country party when they ask for assistance in a local industry, and say this company is designed to assist the primary producers and make the land blossom like the rose, as contemplated by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) when discussing the Tariff proposals. The Government consider that they must give the proposal support because it has been brought forward by the Country party, and it has now been made the policy of the Nationalist party. But, between the interests of these two parties, where do the interests of the general taxpayer come in ?
Question - That the Bill be now read a second time - put. The House divided.
Majority . . . . 34
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Power to enter into agreement).
– Is the gentleman mentioned in this clause the person with whom the Commonwealth previously entered into an agreement ?
– Then, what was the hitch referred to last night? We were led to understand that the original agreement between Mr. Murray and the Western Australian Farmers Cooperative Society was not signed.
– No; the trouble referred to last night was the inability to secure the seal of the company in regard to the amended agreement.
Clause agreed to.
Schedule and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (by leave) read a third time.
Sitting suspended from 12.54 to 2.15 p.m.
In Committee of Ways and Means:
Consideration resumed from 12th May (vide page 8444) :
Division I. - Ale, Spirits, and Beverages
Item 2 (Ale, &c.) agreed to.
.- I move -
That the paragraph be further amended by adding the following: - “And on and after 14th May, 1921-
Gin, distilled wholly from barley-malt, grain, grape-wine or fruit, and certified in the prescribed form by the competent Government official in the country of production to be Gin, distilled wholly from barley-malt, grain, grape-wine or fruit; Liqueurs and Bitters.
When not exceeding the strength of proof - per gallon, 30s. (British Preferential Tariff) ; 31s. (Intermediate Tariff) ; 32s. (General Tariff).
When exceeding the strength of proof - per proof gallon, 30s. (British Preferential Tariff); 31s. (Intermediate Tariff) ; 32s. (General Tariff).
Gin, n.e.i. -
When not exceeding the strength of proof - per gallon, 31s. (British Preferential Tariff); 32s. (Intermediate Tariff); 33s. (General Tariff).
When exceeding the strength of proof - per proof gallon, 31s. (British Preferential Tariff) ; 32s. (Intermediate Tariff) ; 33s. (General Tariff).
We insist upon Australian gin being distilled from barley-malt, grain, grapewine, or fruit, but there is coming into Australia a large quantity of gin which we have reason to believe is not a pure spirit. We want to insist that gin which is brought in at the rates of duty laid down in the Tariff shall be at all events of the same standard as the Australian spirit, and that if it is not of that standard, an increased duty of1s. per gallon shall apply.
Amendment agreed to.
– Spirit used in medicinal preparations is dealt with in paragraph g, and since it may be thought necessary, if we allow the item to pass as it stands, to make the export duties correspond with the import duties, I want to put the position as it affects chemists and sick persons. The vinegar manufacturer pays 2s. per proof gallon on the spirit used by him ; the wine-maker pays 6s. per proof gallon, and the maker of perfume 23s. per liquid gallon, while alcohol used in the preparation of medicines is taxed to the extent of 28s. per proof gallon, or 44s. 8d. per liquid gallon. Those are the imposts in respect of spirit made within the Commonwealth; such spirits when imported would pay the additional duties provided in paragraph g. I want to make sure that the sick man requiring medicines in the preparation of which spirits are used shall not be called upon to pay a higher duty in respect of that spirit than is the man who desires to use with his food wine or vinegar in the production of which spirits are used. I desire to make sure that these rates will not be continued.
– I think I can give the honorable member the information he desires. The spiritused in pharmaceutical preparations is dealt with in the Excise rates, and I propose when we reach them to meet to some extent the honorable member’s views. I have been looking into the question for some time, and desire to do something on the lines which my honorable friend suggests when we come to the Excise Tariff. We must, however, have regard to the duty resting upon us to protect the revenue, and to prevent the spirit being used for other than pharmaceutical purposes.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 4 -
Amylic alcohol and fusel oil, per gallon, British, 27s.; intermediate, 28s.; general, 28s. And on and after 17th September, 1920, per gallon British, 30s.; intermediate, 31s.; general, 31s.
– I wish to ascertain from the Minister (Mr. Greene) the reason for the extraordinary increase of duties proposed in this case. There is an enormous increase in the Tariff on everything used in connexion with the preparation of medicines, serums, and vaccines. These increases will be felt by all who are troubled with illness, and will be an enormous tax on hospitals. Will the Minister state why the provision in the old Tariff for the free admission of denatured spirit under departmental by-laws has been dropped?
– Amylic alcohol and fusel oil are by-products of the distillation ofspirit. Amylic alcohol is made from fusel oil by a process of distillation,and both are used in the manufacture of paints, varnishes , lacquers, and so on. The Australian requirements can be met by the byproducts of the local distilleries. The provision in previous Tariffs for the free admission of amylic alcohol and fusel oil when denatured has been omitted, and an item inserted in the Excise Tariff providing for their free delivery where denatured. There are no importations of the denatured article. That, I think, gets over the difficulty raised by the honorable member in the latter part of his speech.
– If the item does not refer to anything used in medicinal preparations, I have nothing more to say with regard to it.
Item agreed to.
Item 5 -
Collodion, per gallon, British, 5s. ; intermediate, 6s. 6d.; general, 7s. 6d.
.- I intend to move a reduction of the duties for which this item provides. In respect of collodion, which I understand is only used medicinally, honorable members will find that the former duty of 3s. per gallon, has been increased to 5s. per gallon. The Government, having established a laboratory here, are endeavouring apparently to protect that laboratory by increasing the duties on medicines, and indeed everything that is required in cases of sickness, and everything that is required in hospitals, whose expenditure must then be greatly increased. Is it not desirable that the best of patent medicines should be allowed to come in, I do not say free of duty, but without being subjected to an unreasonable impost? Medical men urge that we must have of the best, and in the interests of the health of the people it is desirable that medicinal preparations should not be too expensive. Since the establishment of Government laboratories the duties in relation to vaccina serums, drc, ha,ve been enormously increased. In one case, the increase amounts to over 9.000 per cent. There can be no reason for such additional imposts, unless the Government are anxious to show by the imposition of such duties that a Government laboratory is worth having. I move -
That the item be amended by the insertion after “5s.” of the words, “and on and after 14th May, 1921, 3s.”
.- I hope the Committee will not agree to this amendment. It is true that collodion is used as a dressing after surgical operations; but I think it will be admitted that the quantity so employed is so small that the actual increased cost to the patient, as represented by this duty, will be almost infinitesimal. It is very desirable that collodion should be manufactured locally. It has important uses in the surgical treatment of wounds. Prior to the war, practically all the collodion used in Australia was imported, and 75 per cent. of our importations came from Germany. When the war came- down on us, and’ the source of supply, which was almost entirely German, was cut off, we could not obtain any collodion, and it was not until local manufacturers came to our rescue at a very critical time that we wereable to secure a supply. The rate of duty proposed is, I think, about 35 per cent. on what we may consider the normal value of collodion. That, in my opinion, is not an excessive duty. I do not think it would, as the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) suggests, represent any materially increased cost to even the poorest person. In view of the circumstances, and of our experience during the war, in regard to this particular chemical, I suggest that the duty proposed is only fair and reasonable.
– I was not speaking so much of’ collodion as of the general requirements of hospitals.
– What is the total value of the amount imported ?
– The importations in the year 1913, the year immediately before the war. were 314 gallons. By 1916 they had fallen to 89 gallons, and in the year 1917, when the war was at its height, they were 26 gallons. Honorable members will see to what an extent the local manufacturers, who took up the manufacture of this article at a critical time, as was the case in regard to a good many other things, came to our rescue. I have not heard from any source any complaint as to the quality of the collodion supplied locally, butIhave had from more than one source excellent testimonials.
– Generally there have been complaints about the extremely high cost.
– I do not think I have had any protest at all about collodion.
– I am not referring specially to collodion.
– I must say I have had complaints about other articles.
– Howmuch collodion is produced locally?
– We took charge of practically the whole requirements of Australia during the war, and no doubt those now manufacturing can supply those requirements.
Item agreed to.
Wood naphtha, methyl alcohol, and acetone, per gallon - British,1s. ; intermediate, ls. 6d.; general, ls. 6d.
. - I shall be glad if the Committee will consent to postpone this item for the time being. Representations have recently been made to me that it is advisable to divide this item, putting wood naphtha and methyl alcohol in one class and acetone in another, for reasons that are highly technical. I shall be glad to have an opportunity to look into the matter.
– Why not pass the item and recommit it subsequently?
– If the Committee is prepared to do that I have no objections. Mr. FOLEY (Kalgoorlie) [2.35].- My own desire is that this item should be postponed, not passed and then recommitted. In Western Australia naphtha has been for some time past, and is now, being produced from the pith of the blackboy and other trees in that State which are a pest, so that there is no question of denuding the forests. The proprietors of the process contend that they produce a spirit equal to any that can be imported or manufactured by a like process from wood. They propose to give me some technical information which I should like to place before the Committee before the item is finally dealt with.
Mr.GREENE(Richmond - Minister for Trade and Customs) [2.36]. - It is because of my wish to help those people in Western Australia that I ask the Committee to postpone the item. I understand that it is very desirable that this industry shall be fully protected, and I believe that by doing what I propose I can secure better protection for an industry which is using up absolutely waste material. However, if the Committee care to pass the clause with a view to recommittal, I have, as I say, no objection.
Item 7 (Bay Rum) agreed to.
Item 8 -
– I move -
That the item be further amended by adding the following words : - “ And on and after 14th May, 1921, per gallon, British, 40s.; intermediate, 45s. ; general, 50s. ; or ad val., British, 20 per cent.; intermediate, 25 per cent.; general, 30 per cent., whichever rate returns the higher duty.
The effect of this amendment is to give a slightly increased duty on the lower grades of perfumed spirits, while reducing the duties on the higher grades. We found, after some experience of the working of this Tariff, that the ad valorem duty pressed unnecessarily heavily on the high grades of perfumed spirits, which are not manufactured in this country, with the result that, in all probability, we were losing revenue. As I say, the higher grades of these spirits are not manufactured to any extent in Australia, while the lower grades are made very extensively. The re-arrangement of the item is with a view to protecting the lower class of manufacture in this country; and I believe that in regard to the higher grades the duties will lead to a greater consumption, and, consequently, more revenue.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to. .
Item 9 (Spirituous preparations).
– How do the duties on tinctures and infusions, which are included in this item, affect hospitals?
– I do not think the dutieswill affect hospitals, but in all probability they will affect the patent medicine preparations that are imported.
Item agreed to.
Item 10 (Ethers and chloroform) ; item 11 (Amyl acetate and ethyl acetate, &c.) ; item 12 (Wine, sparkling); item 13 (Wine, still) ; item 14 (Wine, grape, unf ermented) ; item 15 (Wine, n.e.i.) ; item 16 (Lime juice, &c.) ; and item 17 (Table waters); agreed to. division ii.- tobacco and manufactures thereof.
Item 18 (Tobacco, unmanfactured) agreed to.
Item 19 (Tobacco, unmanufactured).
.- I suggest that the Minister review his decision in regard to this item, and that an additional1s. per lb. be placed on the imported article; and then, so as to still further assist the local grower of tobacco, the Excise duty be reduced by 4d.
.- If the question of the protection of the local industry is to be, as it must, adjusted by the balance between the Excise and import duty the time to raise the question is on the Excise, provided the Committee agree to the import duties now before them. When we come to fix the degree of Protection to be given to the local grower of tobacco by a reduction or an increase, as the case may be, of the Excise, honorable members will be able to increase or decrease the Protection.
– Are you not interested in the revenue? If so, this is the time and place to take action.
– If we desire more revenue we can, of course, increase the duty and leave the Excise as at present.
We are now dealing with unmanufactured tobacco; and we have so far been satisfied with the revenue from this source. Generally speaking, I think the growers are well satisfied with the Protection given ; at all events I have had no request from them for an increase of duty.
. -Prior to September, 1918, the position was that the Excise duty on Australian-grown tobacco amounted to ls. per lb., while the import duty on foreign-grown tobacco was 3s. per lb. - a preference in favour of the local article amounting to 200 per cent. To-day we find that the Australiangrown tobacco is affected by Excise duty to the extent of 2s. 4d. per lb., whereas the foreign-grown article pays an import duty of 4s. 4d. There is still a difference of 2s., but the degree of protection has decreased from 200 per cent. in 1918 to 85¾ per cent. to-day.
– When the honorable member says 200 per cent., he means 2s. as between the two duties, and not on the cost of the article.
– That is the vital point; there is the same 2s. difference.
– But when we consider that both duties have been increased we perceive that the amount of protection given to the Australian article is insufficient. I ask the Minister to review both the import and excise duties on tobacco.
.- This is a fixed duty at so much per pound. We have endeavoured to leave the margin as between the two imposts - and this refers all round- exactly the same. That is to say, the amount of 2s. protection still remains; and it is that in which the grower is interested. It is not the amount of import and excise duty collected. It does not matter to what extent we may raise both the excise and the import duty. So long as we leave the margin per pound exactly the same, we leave the measure of protection precisely the same.
.- When a pound of tobacco has been cut up and put into the ordinary commercial 2 oz. package, the 2s. per pound difference between the imported and the locally-grown article becomes so slight that the majority of smokers will not purchase the Australiangrown leaf. No one will claim that the latter is as good as the imported article, and the difference in price is so small that the smoking public prefers to pay a little more to get the better tobacco. If the Minister could see his way clear to make the difference sufficiently marked, many buyers, with the object of saving a few penceon each package purchased, would smoke the Australiangrown tobacco and thus give greater encouragement to the local grower.
– I perceive what the honorable member for Oxley desires, but the Minister is evading the question. The honorable member desires the Minister to lower the excise on the locally-grown tobacco and increase the duty on the foreign leaf in order to make the growing of the Australian article more attractive. It is all very well to say that the revenue is satisfactory as the margin between the two collections stands to-day ; but someone else besides the revenue collector needs to be satisfied. The town of Texas, in a comer of the Maranoa district, is a big tobaccogrowing centre. At one time the manufacturers in Australia refused to take the tobacco from these growers, and only by extreme pressure on the part of the then Minister for Customs by means of a threat to reduce the excise and increase the import duty, were the Australian manufacturers brought to their senses. In the Bowen district there is grown a good cigar leaf ; the leaf grown at Texas is a very good tobacco when manufactured. As the honorable member for Oxley has pointed out, smokers would not buy the locally-grown tobacco alone but preferred to have it mixed with American leaf, thus getting good value for their money. The grower here should have a fair measure of protection. The difference of 2s. per pound means practically nothing by the time a pound of tobacco is put up in 2-oz. packages.
– No one can accuse me of not being a Protectionist. No one desires more ardently than I do to see Australian industries carried on successfully. But this is one of the highest protective duties in the whole of the Tariff. In 1918-19 the average price of unmanufactured tobacco, imported, . was 2s. per pound. The duty .represented 100 .per cent. When the tobacco market went higher than during many previous years, namely, in 1919-20, the average price of imported tobacco was 3s. per pound, and, consequently, the duty was 66$ per cent. To-day it is very close to 100 per cent. I do not feel justified in going for a further measure of protection in this regard.
Item agreed to.
Item 20 (Tobacco,, cut, n.e.i.) ; item 21 (Tobacco, manufactured, n.e.i.) ; item 22 (Cigarettes) ; and item 23 (Tobacco, unmanufactured) ; agreed to.
Item 24 (Cigars). .
.- In connexion with this item there has been much correspondence in the press, having for its basis the price of cigars and the matter of relief being afforded to the local manufacturer in respect of Excise duty. I do not propose to raise the question of Excise at this stage. I am one of those who believe that, in treating a luxury of any sort in these times, it does not matter how high a Tariff is placed thereon. If I purchase a cigar - as I do - I am prepared to pay highly for that luxury. But I have a great objection to the Minister giving Protection to a phase of industry which could only live under a great deal of nurturing. It would pay the country far better to award pensions to all persons employed here in the manufacture of cigars. We raise a great cry about having to compete against black labour; but all the time we are wanting tobacco grown by black labour. I wish to know if there is any proposal to increase the duty upon cigars.
– I do not propose at present to increase the duty on cigars. The question which the honorable member has raised will come up more particularly in the discussion of Excise duties. He will have his opportunity to suggest that the Excise be increased, which would secure his objective.
Item agreed to.
Item 25 (Snuff) agreed to.
Tobacco destroyed .for manufacture of sheepwash or other purposes, as prescribed by departmental by-la*, - free.
.- Does tobacco which is used as an insecticide come within this provision? If so, it will affect the manufacture of sheepwash. I wish to know, also, if a preparation known as “ Black leaf 40 “ cornea under this item? When the Committee is dealing with, the specific item of arsenate of lead, and with similar- preparations affecting the fruit industry, I desire special consideration to be given thereto. Wo cannot afford to imperil the. prospects of our Australian orchardists merely for the purpose of placing high duties on such things as arsenate of lead. I would also point out at this stage that when the first Commonwealth Tariff was framed there was in the schedule a list of free articles, which , showed precisely and emphatically what was free. I do not wish to bring up the question of the powers assumed’ by Ministers of Customs in the past, but at a later stage I desire to thresh out the question whether this Tariff, as framed by the Parliament, is to he the Tariff of Australia, or whether the Minister shall have authority to alter the schedule in any manner he may wish. I call attention to the phrase, “ as prescribed by departmentalbylaws.” Will “Black leaf 40” come within this provision ? And will the Minister give serious consideration to making provision in the schedule to assure the public that certain articles which Parliament says shall be free shall continue to be free - no matter what any Minister may say or do?
.- If “ Black leaf 40 “ were manufactured in this country it would be possible, under this item, to allow “tobacco destroyed for manufacture of sheep-wash or other purposes, as prescribed by departmental by-laws” to be used for its manufacture; and, no doubt, if any one were to undertake the manufacture of “ Black leaf 40 “ in the Commonwealth, he would be able to obtain such tobacco free- of duty. Undamaged tobacco leaf is subject to duty. But if, as has happened on several occasions, a shipment has arrived in Australia so damaged that it cannot be used for the manufacture of smoking tobacco, we can, under Departmental by-law, allow it to be used for the’ manufacture of sheep wash or other things for which it is suitable. We do not specify all the uses to which tobacco can be put, because we do not know them. So long as we are satisfied that damaged tobacco will not be used for human consumption, we permit it to so into manufacture.
– At the present time there is a duty on tobacco leaf.
– Do you propose to give as an opportunity to consider that duty when we come to insecticides ?
– I have been a member of Parliament during the consideration of every Tariff that has been introduced since the inception of Federation, and it has been my experience that the Departmental interpretation of items is often entirely different from the intentions of Parliament. Therefore, it has been my earnest desire to make the duties asdefinite as possible, so that there may beno opportunity for an alteration of meaning by a Departmental interpretation. If honorable members wish to have this particular tobacco made free, they should move in that direction now.
.- I wish to make sure that, in taking action, we shall not leave it open to persons to use free tobacco for the manufacture of articles other than insecticides.
– When we come to insecticides, of which “ Black leaf 40 “ is one, the honorable member can deal with the matter as he pleases. We cannot mention “Black leaf 40” specifically in the Tariff, because that is a trade name.
– I do not know sufficient of the subject to be certain of the effect of striking out the words “ as prescribed by Departmental by-laws.”
– If you did that, you would have to enumerate all the uses of raw tobacco.
– It would make tobacco for manufacturing sheepwash free, but might open the door too wide.
– The pastoral industry is greatly interested in insecticides.
– So is the agricultural and nearly every other industry.
– Item 269 makes sheep, cattle and horse washes, in liquid or powder form, dutiable at 20 per cent. British and intermediate, and 30per cent. general. What we wish to make free is dutiable.
– We can discuss the matter when we come to deal with insecticides.
– What the honorable member for Dampier desires is that materials imported for the manufacture of insecticides shall be free, and tobacco is one of those materials.
– We are giving the makers of these things tobacco free. The matter cannot be dealt with under this item.
– I take the Minister’s word for it. I know what the honorable member for Dampier wants, and I am with him.
Item agreed to. divisioniii - sugar.
Glucose, per cwt., 8s.
.-I hope that the Minister will increase the duty on glucose by an advance from 2s. to 4s. per cwt. This substance is largely used by brewers and in the making of sweets. It is produced from maize, and at Footscray is being made by the Maize Products Factory. . Those interested in that factory have had to spend a large sum of money on machinery, and naturally wish to be protected against the dumping of American glucose.
– Is not the proposed duty sufficiently high to prevent that ?
– No. We are trying to encourage the growing of maize, an industry which, in Queensland and northern New South Wales in particular, will give occupation to a large number of returned soldiers and immigrants. The factory that I have mentioned has offered to purchase 20,000 bags of maize a month from one part of my electorate, and will manufacture that maize into glucose and other things, such as starch, cornflour, oil, and calf food. An immense quantity of maize is grown in America, India, and South Africa, and more cheaply than we can grow it. We must protect our manufacturers from the dumping by America of glucose made from surplus maize. The Webb Act of 1918 makes legal the existence in the United States of America of Combines and Trusts formed to dumb surplus products into foreign markets, though ordinary Trusts and Combines are illegal in that country. Transport facilities are also given to enable products destined for export, either raw or in a manufactured state, to get to the seaboard cheaply. Dumping has, for a time, seriously affected the carbide making industry of Tasmania. It will be months before the stock of carbide that was dumped here is sufficiently diminished to allow of the Tasmanian product being sold again. “We should not allow the dumping of glucose, following on a good maize season in America, to injure our glucose industry and maize farmers.
.- I approve of the suggestion to increase the duty on glucose by 2s. The article is largely used in the making of confectionery, among other things. Competition in the United States of America is supported with huge capital, and directedby organized minds of the highest capacity. It creates a trade war as pitiless as any ordinary war. A duty of 10s. per cwt. is only a little over1d. per lb. Australian confectionery will hold its own against the world. I have blindfolded individuals, and got them to taste the highest grade of European chocolates and the chocolates made by MacRobertson, and have found that they could not tell the difference between the two. The OH Gold chocolate made by this Victorian firm is a line of which I can speak highly. I do not know of anything superior to it. If the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) will move an amendment in the direction he has suggested, I shall have much pleasure in supporting him.
– I intend to support the proposal of the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser), particularly in the direction of assisting in the production of maize. In times of scarcity the value of maize in the past has been as high as 5s. and 5s. 6d. per bushel, but on occasions the price has been as low as 2e. 9d. per bushel, at which figure it was absolutely unprofitable to grow it. However, the operations of the Maize Products Company have in recent years brought about marvellous developments in maize production.
– The company are prepared to guarantee to take all the maize they can get at 4s. 6d. per bushel.
– Stabilizing maize at a price of 4s. 6d. per bushel would make its production a valuable industry for Australia. I understand that the Maize Products Company feel fairly secure in regard to all the products of maize they are turning out in their establishment, except in respect to glucose.
– What is the value of glucose ?
– At 5s. per bushel for maize the bare cost of manufacturing it is about £32 per ton in Australia.
– I understand the company have just got down to the bed-rock cost at which they can operate without loss. But while their operations are considerable for a new industry, and for a new country, they are a mere flea-bite when compared with the extent to which glucose is manufactured in America. We have an overwhelming market for the various products of maize - there are six turned out by this company - and if further assistance in the manufacture of glucose will assist an important local industry, we ought to give it.
.- When I adjusted this schedule I left the Division, Sugar, severely alone, and, of course, glucose is included in that division. I am aware that it is a product largely manufactured from maize, but, nevertheless, glucose is the raw material for other industries. For instance, makers of confectionery use a great deal of it. However, I feel inclined to accept the suggestion of the honorable member for Wide Bay to increase the duty on glucose, particularly in view of the fact that the Americans are beginning to dump it into Australia at a price which will have a very prejudicial effect on a local industry, which, by absorbing large quantities of a primary product, is most valuable to the primary producers of Australia, particularly the small farmers situated in coastal areas.
– Will the Minister fix the price of the maize at the factory, so that the smallfarmer will get some advantage ?
– This company has already offered to take 20,000 bags of maize per month from a portion of my electorate.
– It is impossible for us to do what the honorable member for Swan has suggested ; but as there is more than one manufacturer, and as others besides these factories are users of maize, the people to whom the honorable member refers will have no opportunity of rigging the market. Competition will compel them to pay the market price. At the same time the factories are very useful to the primary producers when there is a big surplus of maize, because they take vast quantities which otherwise could not be absorbed. The honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Fleming) knows very well the extent to which small farmers in New South Wales grow maize. Small farmers in Queensland and Victoria also grow it extensively, and although it may not- be cultivated much in Western Australia, nevertheless it is a very valuable product of the soil. I move -
That the item he amended by adding the following: - “ And on and after 14th May, 1021, per. cwt., British, 12s.; intermediate, 12s.; general, 12s.”
.- I quite realize the value of building up r an industry, and I can quite appreciate the Minister’s argument which will, no doubt, be brought forward again when we are dealing with the duty on agricultural* machinery, but, nevertheless, see- . ing that the duty on glucose is now 8s. per cwt., it seems a most extraordinary procedure to increase it by 50 per cent.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Sugar, the produce of sugar-cane, peT cwt.,
.- I would like to know whether at the present time the Minister is allowing any rebate upon sugar used in the preparation of confectionery exported from Australia.
– And in the manufacture of jams
– The point I wish to make is that tens of thousands of acres of land have been laid out for fruit culture upon which thousands of soldiers have settled. It is possible that within a few years the production of fruit in Australia will be so enormous that it will be necessary for us to do all we possibly can to build up a big export trade in jams and preserved fruits. Nothing could be superior to the preserved fruit I saw at Shepparton the other day. I want to know if the Minister has considered the question of allowing a rebate of duty on the sugar employed in- the manufacture of jam or the preservation of fruit for export, and whether at the present time a rebate is not given to the manufacture of confectionery exported from Australia or to firms like Swallow and Ariell, who use large quantities of sugar in the manufacture of the commodities they export.
– I had better set out the whole position, so that there may be no misunderstanding hereafter. Under normal conditions when there are no such things as sugar agreements, and so forth, sugar is imported and then used in the manufacture of jams or for canning fruits for export. A rebate of duty is allowed on this imparted sugar to the full extent of the quantity so used. There is a system by which the Customs authorities arrive at the amount of sugar contained in jams and preserved fruits. Where sugar is exported in the form of jam or canned fruits, a rebate is allowed upon the full amount of it so used. We have never had a series of years when the Australian production of sugar has been equal to the local consumption. There has always been a certain amount of importation.
– It does not necessarily follow that the manufacturers who secure a rebate have used nothing but imported sugar.
– But you do not allow a rebate to the extent of more than the importation.
– The quantity upon which a rebate has been allowed has never yet come up to the amount , of sugar imported. During the. war definite agreements were in force under which the Commonwealth purchased sugar and supplied it to the jam manufacturers and fruit, preservers. Speaking from memory, I think we sold sugar to them for export purposes over a period of thr.ee yeaTs, arriving at the quantity used in this way in exactly the same way as we arrived at the quantity of imported sugar used ‘ in previous years. We sold to these people at a lower rate than was charged to the Australian public generally. It was a much lower rate, and although I cannot recall the exact amount I believe it was about £8 per ton. It was in excess of the actual amount of duty, which was £6 per ton; but that was during the war. We then reached a period when the world’s parity for sugar was infinitely higher than the Australian price, but we did not turn round and charge the jam manufacturers and fruit preservers the world’s parity for the sugar used in tha manufacture of jams for export as we might havedone. We gave them the sugar at the Australian price, because we considered it desirable to give every possible encouragement to the jam manufacturers to pay the fruitgrowers a reasonable price and thus assist in building up the export trade to the utmost of our ability. We have now reached a time when that does not apply, as the world’s parity for sugar is below the Australian price. We are making arrangements, which I trust will be completed without delay, under which it will be possible to give assistance in some way. I am not binding myself in any sense, because negotiations are in progress, but we are conferring with the jam manufacturers and ‘ the fruit preservers concerning the price of the sugar used in manufactures for export purposes, the intention being to allow the manufacturers of jams and canned fruits for export to obtain sugar at as cheap a rate as they could purchase it anywhere in the world.
– That is during the period of control.
– Yes, and that will last another two seasons, under the agreement . already entered into. The latest reports from Queensland concerning the sugar crop indicate that, notwithstanding the magnificent promises in the early part of the season, we shall this year have to import considerable quantities of sugar. It. is, however, a fact, and one which I very much regret. We hope to be able to make such arrangements as to enable them to secure sugar used in the manufacture of exports only at as low a price as they could purchase it anywhere in the world. I was asked by an honorable member as to whether any manufacturers were getting that concession now, and I can assure him that they are not.
Item agreed to.
Item 29 (Invert sugar,&c).
.- Will the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) explain what invert sugar and invert syrup means ?
– I might just as well be perfectly frank and say that I do not know, but I suppose that invert sugar is a sugar produced by some special means of manufacture.
– It consists of larger crystals.
– The duty is exactly the same, and I presume it is sugar used in some special process of manufacture.
– It is desirable that we should have some information on this item, and as I believe that the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. ‘ Corser) is the only authority in the Chamber on this subject, perhaps he will explain the difference between ordinary sugar and invert sugar.
– I have already said that it consists of larger crystals.
Item agreed to.
Item 30 (Sugar, n.e.i.), item 31 (Golden Syrup,&c.), and item 32 (Molasses) agreed to. divisioniv.- agricultural products and groceries.
Item 33 (Animal foods, n.e.i.) agreed to.
.- Will the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) explain the reason for imposing a tax on imported animals. The amount of duty is likely to be so small as to make the item appear almost ridiculous. I am sure it will not have the effect of preventing animals coming into the Commonwealth.
– The honorable member for ‘ Robertson (Mr. Fleming) is doubtless referring to stud animals which are exempt under this item.
– But what of common stock ?
– I do not attach much importance to the item, but a similar line has been in the Tariff for years. There are some islands adjacent to the mainland - I forget the names - suitable for pastoral purposes, and there is a possibility of stock coming from these sources or from Java or Noumea. With the honorable member I admit that there is not much in the item, but I did not feel disposed to have it removed.
.- Possibly the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) has not received any revenue from this source, and doubtless it is like the duty imposed on wheat, which,
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 13 May 1921, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1921/19210513_reps_8_95/>.