8th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Hon. J.M. Chanter)took the chair at 3 p.m., and road prayers.
Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER.Yesterday I issued a writ in connexion with the by-election for the Maranoa Division. The dates fixed therein are those announced to the House lastweek..
-Can the Acting Prime Minister tellme what legislation the Government proposes to pass this session in addition to the Tariff ?
– Our original intention was to deal with the Tariff only, and, of course, any consequential legislation, and then, if possible, to have a short’ recess before beginning the important work which lies ahead, and which at the moment seems likely to take us into the middle of next year. Last week a series of resolutions . passed in this State were put before me, the effect ofwhich was that Parliament should sit longer. This House, however, sits longer than any other legislative body in the Empire, excepting the House of Commons; and I am not quite clear that, taking the whole year through, we do not sit as long as the House of Commons. In Canada, Parliament sits for four or fivemonths in the year, and, in South Africa, for four months. Here we are sitting almost perpetually. So far is I knowat the moment, the business oi the sessionwill be the Tariff and incidental legislation, and, of course, Supply for the early months of the next financial year.
-Have appointments yet been made, or is it intended to make any, to the position of Assistant Trade Commissioner for Shanghai and Hong Kong,for which applications were asked some months ago and, I understand, some 3,000 applications received.
– It is intended to make the appointments when Parliament has voted the necessary appropriation.
– On behalfof the honorable member for. Cowper (Dr. Earle Page) I ask the Acting Prime Minister whether the statement emanating from many quarters in Darwin is correct, that there is a political censorship in operation over press and private telegrams sent by persons who advocate representation for the Territory f If so, by what authority, and by what Department, is the censoring done?
Mr.Ryan. - I was asked to put the same question.
– I, too have been approached on the subject. There is no truth whatever in the statement that telegrams are censored. The Administrator at Darwin has been communicated with by telegraph, andhis reply is this -
Local postmaster knows nothing ofany censorship, nor of any interference of any kind with telegrams, nor do I. The whole thing is a figment of imagination.
Mr.WATKINS. - In view of the isolation of the Northern Territory, and the continued requests of its inhabitants, who are taxpayers of the Commonwealth, for representation in this Parliament, has the Government yet considered how such representation can be given, and whether it should beby the election of a member, either exercising or not exercising a vote!
– The Governmenthas made a brave attempt to give representation to. the people of the Northern Territory, but neither House will sanction it. What morecan Ministers do? . We proposed to give the Northorn Territory representation in the Senate.
Mr.Ryan. - Stake the existence of the Government on the proposal.
– Ishall think over that suggestion.
– Has the Acting Prime Minister read the newspaper report of a speech by the honorablemember for
Cowper (Dr. Earle Page), in which it is suggested, in effect, that members should be paid £1,000 for each session, instead of per annum, and that, the session should, if possible be cut down to three weeks? Is the right honorable gentleman, in view of this suggestion, prepared to agree to charging for questions upon notice, or without notice, and so much per yard for speeches, in order to bring about that efficiency, economy, and effective despatch of business which is so desired by the honorable member for Cowper?
– The honorable member for Cowper is a new, and in some respects a young member. In my thirty years’ experience, I have seen many attempts to reform Parliament. I have not read the speech referred to.
– You will read it, and refer it to Cabinet?
– I shall read it, though I do not know that I shall refer it to Cabinet. Certainly I shall not refer to Cabinet revolutionary proposals for still further increasing salaries.
– On behalf of the honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page), I wish to know from the Minister for Trade and Customs whether, in view of the danger of citrus canker being introduced into Australia, it is not advisable, for the present at any rate, to prohibit the importation of all citrus fruits?
– The matter has received careful consideration. No citrus tree, and no portion of a citrus tree, may be imported into this country until it has been subjected to a rigorous quarantine, and under no circumstances may a citrus tree. or portion of a tree, including fruit, be imported from countries in which canker is known to exist.
– As many thousands of applications ‘for telephone connexion remain undealt with, is the PostmasterGeneral in a position to say whether early relief may be expected?, Th present situation is causing the gravest inconvenience. Can the PostmasterGeneral expedite the giving of telephone connexion?,
-We .have been doing’ all we can for. months past to expedite the giving of . telephone service to those i who apply for it. . ,
– I have heard that information has been received concerning the allocation of the German indemnity, and that a certain sum has.been ear-marked to meet the claims of merchant seamen, who fell into ‘the hands of enemy powers., for (1) personal injury and (2) in respect to dangerous work performed while interned in Germany. Does the Acting Prime Minister know anything of the matter?
– Absolutely nothing.
– I noticed a statement in the press the other day to the effect that Commonwealth income tax returns were received from some twenty-three millionaires, and approximately forty or fifty semi-millionaires. I also saw a paragraph in the newspapers on the same date requesting assistance for a benevolent institution. In those circumstances, will the Acting Prime Minister (Sir Joseph Cook) furnish me, not for publication, but for my own information, with the names of any of the gentlemen who are in such a fortunate position, in order that they may be approached with a request to make -a donation of any cast-off clothing, or other articles, they do not require, since it would be very acceptable to the poor in my district ?
-If the honorable member analyses the position of some of the alleged millionaires to whom he refers he will find that they have many complaints concerning their obligations, which, they, say, they are unable to meet.
– Will , the Acting Prime Minister (Sir Joseph Cook) cable to the United States of America, Canada, South Africa, and the United Kingdom for full information concerning (a)’ the insurance of soldiers engaged during the war, (Z>) the .repatriation of returned soldiers; and (c) the ‘pensions given to returned . soldiers and dependants. . Will the Acting: Prime Minister have such information epitomized and distributed to honorable members and the press?
– I shall be glad to do that. 1 shall welcome any such information that we may obtain on this subject, because I fancy it will not hurt us.
– I desire to ask the Postmaster-General (Mr. Wise) if he has noticed that Mr. Oxenham is returning to Australia on the Niagara, and that an outbreak of small-pox has occurred on that vessel. In the interests of the members of this Chamber, will he avoid coming in contact with this gentleman?
– Mr. Oxenham was in this building on Friday last.
– (By leave.)- I move -
That leave of absence for one month be ;$iven to the honorable member for Lang (Sir Elliot Johnson) on the ground of illhealth, and to the honorable member for Grey (Mr Poynton) on the ground of urgent public business.
I am sure it is a. matter of the deepestregret to all of us that Mr. Speaker is still unable to resume his duties. He is experiencing a severe illness, and our sympathies go out to him in his trouble.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Lack of Cargo
– On the 7th June, the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) asked a question in regard to vessels of the Commonwealth Government Line, said to be held ug owing to lack of cargo. I have had inquiries made in connexion with the matter, and find that the Eurelia is not laid up for lack of cargo, but for the purpose of undergoing reconstruction of her store freezing chamber. Other vessels of the Line are, however, held up through inability to obtain payable cargo. While there is a general shortage of cargo, business is offering in various directions; but freights have fallen so. low as to make this business, which consists mainly of bulk cargoes from Australia to places from the majority of which there is no back loading, quite un attractive on the present running costs. As I stated a few days ago, our vessels are, so far as I can judge, as well oft as most vessels engaged in the trade from Australia to the United Kingdom.
– I wish the Minister had disclosed the information he is now giving a .few days ago, when we were discussing certain items in the Tariff.
– I am telling the honorable member now.
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Whether, in’ view of the statement of the Metal Manufacturers Limited at Fort Kembla, that they were able to supply the Telephone Department with any quantity of copper wire, he will immediately take steps to carry out the erection of the copper metallic1 circuit on the north coast of New South Wales, from Gloucester to Grafton, which has been, reported on favorably for four years, and has been held up owing to lack of copper wire, and the absence of which is said to be causing grave disabilities to the whole of the north coast ?
– The erection of this line is not dependent upon the wire required being procurable, but upon the necessary funds being available. The matter will be considered in connexion with other works of a similar kind when financial arrangements for the coming year are under consideration.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
In connexion with the Dumping Bill which he has promised -to introduce immediately after the Tariff is disposed of, will he state if it is his intention to demand a certificate on ali imports of iron and steel from the United Kingdom that they are wholly produced and manufactured in that country?
– If Parliament approves of the Bill, it will contain adequate provisions to effect what the honorable member has in mind.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
In view of the danger of difference of exchange dumping, will he inform the House what is the exchange rate with the Czecho-Slovakian nation ?
– The Prague rate of exchange on London on 7th June was 266 krone to the pound sterling. I might add that the par of exchange with the late Austro-Hungarian Empire was 24 krone to the pound sterling.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
In view of the definite promise to introduce Bills to deal with matters of exchange and dumping, will he endeavour to circulate these measures during the debate on the present Tariff, so as to expedite the passage of these proposed Bills through Parliament?
asked the Minister representingthe Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
The following papers were presented : -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determination by the Arbitrator (with reference to the Basic Wage,&c.)- No. 2 of 1921- In the matter of the Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association, Post and Telegraph Association, Commonwealth Postmasters Association, Australian Letter Carriers Association, Federated Public Service Assistants Association, Postal Electricians Union, Postal Linemen’s Union, Commonwealth Public Service Artisans Association, General Division Union of the Trade and Customs Department, General Division Telephone Officers Association, Postal Sorters Union, Line Inspectors Association, and the Meat Inspectors Association.
Papua - Ordinances of 1920 -
No. 13 - Supplementary Appropriation (No. 3), 1919-1920.
No. 14 - Trust Fund Advances.
No. 20- Supply (No. 3), 1920-1921.
No. 21 - Appropriation, 1920-1921.
No. 22- - Supplementary Appropriation (No. 1), 1920-1921.
Public Service Act - Appointment of S. F. Whittington, Department of the Treasury.
Public Service Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1921, No. 101.
Considerationresumed from 10th June (vide page 8995) :
DIVISION VI. - METALS AND MACHINERY.*
Motive power, engine combinations, and power connexions are dutiable under their respective headings when not integral parts of machines, machinery, or machine tools.
.- I move -
That the following words be inserted after sub-item (a) : - “And on and after 15th June, 1321, British, £10; intermediate, £12; general, £14.”
– I suppose the honorable ‘member cannot see his way clear to wipe out the duties altogether?
– I would be very glad to do so. It would be the best thing for Australia if this machinery could be brought in free. I shall endeavour to prove that the natural protection accorded, in connexion with the importation of these lines of machinery, should be more than ample to give a fair measure of protection to Australian manufacturers.
– It is a pity Australia cannot afford to give you another taste of what you really want.
– I respect the honorable member, but it is clear that his sympathies are not with the people in the back country. I cannot understand that he should fail to foresee the trouble which is brewing for city workers with the discouragement, if not the destruction, of primary industries. It has been suggested during the deliberations of the Committee that I am delaying progress and generally incurring unnecessary expense to the country. But I am. here to put the case for those engaged in primary production; and, although there may be very little result from my efforts in this Chamber, I trust and expect that it will be perceived elsewhere, and in the country. The people to-day are realizing that every action or decision of this Government tends, as a whole, to increase concentration in the great cities. Already the evil resulting from concentration is apparent in the large numbers of unemployed to be found to-day in several of the State capitals. In the course of discussing the rates of duties as set out in the schedule, and as proposed to be amended by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene), no effort has been made to prove. that the various increases have become necessary for the welfare of Australian industries. There has been much talk about a proposed Board of Trade; but nothing has been said of the fact that a Board of Trade was appointed by the Government nearly two years ago. Has that Board, tendered any report concerning any of the grave matters which have come before the Committee during the Tariff discussion? Has the Board offered any opinions or recommendations? So far as honorable members have been advised, it has neither prepared nor presented any report concerning the huge increases of Customs duties. Another significant fact is that, in all that has been said during the deliberations of this Committee, honorable members have not been informed that either the primary producer or the importer or the consumer has been consulted. It appears that only one section of the community has been approached, and that is the section represented by the Chamber of Manufactures. There have been speeches by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), the Acting Prime Minister (Sir Joseph Cook), the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene), and other members of the Government, one after another. All are in accord in realizing the effects of the war. They have impressed upon the public two great essentials for the well-being of Australia - the one being increased population, and the other enhanced production. I agree that without the latter, certainly, we shall never be able to pay off Australia’s tremendous war debt. “Without a big increase of population, the burden of taxation per head must become unbearable. Considerable expenditure is now being devoted to immigration. Are the newcomers being conveyed here for the purpose of entering our factories; or are we going to ask them, and our own young Australians as they grow up, to go out on the land and take up the heavy responsibilities involved in primary production to-day, while at the same time adding the further handicap of huge imposts by way of Customs duties? If industries are to be built up here, why should not the whole community share fairly in carrying the burden? It is grossly un- fair that one section should be loaded with the whole. I can only express the hope that punishment will fall upon this Government similar to that which was meted out ‘ to the Government who stood behind the McKinley Tariff, in the
United States of America ; that is to say, that they will be promptly kicked out. Can it be shown by the Minister, or by any one else, that Australian manufactures are languishing? Can it be demonstrated that imports are alarmingly increasing, and that business is being taken away from our own manufacturers? I can show by statistics that such is not the case. It cannot be seriously suggested that our manufacturers are becoming impoverished. In all that has been said for the latter, no word has been heard about the grave injury which is threatening the Australian consumer. As for the Australian worker, I yield to none in my admiration for him. ‘ During the great struggle no man of any of the nations showed finer initiative, sounder judgment, or greater courage. Surely, then, those same characteristics should make the Australian worker, as a factory employee, second to none. “What with the natural protection afforded to our manufacturers, together with the consideration which has been given them by the framers of past Tariffs, they should be able to stand “ on their own “ to-day. I shall show that the agricultural machinery industry has prospered in Australia under the moderate duties that have been imposed in the past. One of the reasons given in support of high protective duties is the alleged low rate of wages paid by manufacturers outside of Australia, and I intend to expose that fallacy. I can show from Canadian and Australian statistics that the employees in this industry in Canada to-day are paid at a far higher rate than are those in Australia. I can show also that when, in 1914, the Inter-State Commission was giving special consideration to the question of increased duties, there was no request made for increased duties by the big manufacturers of agricultural implements in Australia. I intend to show further that, relatively to production and population, New Zealand manufactures more agricultural machinery than does Australia, and that machinery is sold more cheaply in New Zealand than it is here.
– In spite of the figures quoted by the Minister.
– Can the honorable member vouch for the accuracy of his figures ?
– I intend to take up some time in the consideration of this question, and, amongst other things, I intend to let honorable members know that the farmer in Canada can purchase agricultural machinery for about half the price that has to be paid for it in Australia. The natural protection from Canada averages nearly 50 per cent., including freight, insurance, and exchange. With a duty of 45 per cent., and taking present exchange values with an allowance for freight and insurance as well, the Tariff protection from Canada works out at 62.59 per cent., or nearly 63 per cent. I have mentioned some of the questions I intend to raise on this item, and they should be fully answered before these onerous duties are placed on this class of machinery. In connexion with this industry, I wish to make some comparisons between Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. Honorable members will understand that I quote from reports and- from statistics taken from the latest Tear-Books available. I have said that this industry has made progress in Australia under the low Tariff we had in existence up to 1911. In 1908, the number of persons employed in the industry here was 3,134, and the annual production amounted in value to £879,000. In 1911, the number employed in the industry had increased to 5,156, and the value of the annual production to £1,656,000, or an increase of nearly 100 per cent., in three years. Another satisfactory feature was that the value of production per employee increased in the same period from £281 in 1908 to £322 in 1911. Whilst the value of local production was nearly doubled in the period, importations did not increase in the same way. The percentage of imports to local production in this industry in 1908 was 30 per cent. ; in 1909, 24 per cent.; in 1910, 27 per cent.; and in 1911, 27 per cent.; an average during those years of, roughly, 25 per cent. In the years following, there was a decline in local production due to many causes, and amongst them the drought and the war. The average percentage of imports to local production in 1913 was 25 per cent. ; in 1914, 26 per cent. ; in 1915, 28 per cent. ; in 1916, 19 per cent. ; in 1917, 25 per cent. ; and in 1918, 32 per cent. I should like honorable members to pay particular attention to these figures, because they show that, roughly, 25 per cent, of the agricultural machinery used in Australia has been imported, and 75 per cent, of it has been locally manufactured. The reason why I wish to make this quite clear is that every £1 imposed by way of duty means actually, £4 added to the price of the article to the consumer. Despite what the Minister has said, there cannot be the slightest doubt that the local manufacturer has kept his prices well up to what similar agricultural machinery can be sold for by the importer.
– The honorable member holds that the total charge on the industry is four times ‘the amount of duty collected at the Customs?
– I say that as threefourths of the agricultural machinery used in Australia is made here, and as the local manufacturer keeps his prices as close as he can to the price of the imported machinery, every increase of £1 in the Tariff duty means an actual increase in the cost of £4 to the consumer.
– Granted that the honorable member’s argument is right, which I do not admit, then the total charge on the industry represents four times the amount of duty collected?
– It comes to pretty nearly that.
– The honorable member can make figures do anything.
– I want those who have to pay for this machinery to take a greater interest in the Tariff. I have stated that in 1911 the local production of this machinery amounted in value to £1,656,000. There was a fall in production, and in 1918 it amounted in value to only £1,415,000.
– Notwithstanding the increased prices.
-Yes, but the war and the drought have to be considered -
– There was an increase in the price of steel and general material used in the industry, and the honorable member’s figures of £1,415,000 would represent proportionately that much less. If the increase in the price had been 30 per cent., there- would be a reduction of one-third in the value of agricultural machinery turned out.
– The figures show that the reduction amounted to about £240,000 in value. In my view, the chief reason for that was the war, and, secondly, reduced consumption. No one knows better than does the Minister that the .area put under cultivation was considerably reduced before 1918.
– There would be fluctuations due to big harvests and small harvests.
– We had some very small harvests prior to 1918, and no one knows better than does the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Richard Poster) that the prices of both imported and local agricultural machinery were soaring- up, and that machinery that had been Thrown on the scrap heap was recovered, repaired, and put into use again. I received a most important letter about four months ago from the president of the Stock-owners Association of New South Wales, in which he told me that people were attending sales, and paying fabulous prices for old machinery, which was subsequently repaired and made effective, because of the heavy cost of new machinery. It is clear, therefore, that, owing to the war and increased prices, a falling off in production: was natural in the period to which I have referred. There was also a reduction in our exports of agricultural machinery from Australia. In this connexion, I propose to quote a statement made by Mr. Walmsley, who was a member of the Tariff Commission in 1906, and who deals with this phase of the question. He says -
The Commonwealth Year-Book, which is simply an official compilation of facts, vol. 7, 1914, page 482, says: - “The following table shows the progress of this industry to have been very satisfactory. During the four years the number of establishments increased 13* per cent., the number of employees 51 per cent., and the value of plants and machinery 107 per cent.”
That was during the operation of the 1908-11 Tariff. Volume X. of the’ YearBooh for 1917, page 494, says : -
The following table shows the progress of this industry in the five years, 1910-15, to have been very satisfactory. A general decline has taken place during the latter part of the period, attributable to various causes, the recent drought, and a reduction of exports to other countries being the principal contributing factors.
– Our export trade was destroyed when we lost the Argentine trade.
– The big reduction in the local manufacture of agricultural implements is largely due to the loss of our export trade. I have here figures showing that the export trade from Australia in 1913 was valued at £192,000, whereas in 1918-19 it had dropped to £28,036.
– We had the Argentine trade, and lost it.
– I think that the stripper harvester has gone somewhat out of fashion in the Argentine.
– The honorable member’s statement has no bearing upon the position unless he can show how much agricultural machinery the Argentine imported from other countries.
– I am merely attempting to assign one of the reasons for our decreased productions in Australia. Why we lost the exporttrade, I cannot say.
– The honorable member will admit that it was owing to the Canadian Government subsidizing the vessels trading to the Argentine.
– I do not know anything about that. I wish, however, to deal with the statement made by the Minister in connexion with the subsidizing of shipping services from Canada to Australia. The honorable gentleman’s statement may have been correct, but if he referred to agricultural machinery, it was his duty, before making it, to consult the importers with the object of ascertaining their views upon the Question. Evidently he did not do that. When we consider the effects of the war, coupled with the loss of our export trade, we shall see that there has been no falling-off in production, so far as the industry in Australia is concerned. It has been carried on successfully under the low duties which were operating, particularly in 1908 and 1913, when the industry made much greater strides than it has made at any later period.
– The honorable member cannot get away from the Argentine so lightly as that.
– I would further point out that the wages paid in the industry in Australia do not compare with those paid in the industry in Canada. I invite my Labour friends opposite, who so strenuously support the imposition of high duties, to carefully examine figures which I am about to submit in this connexion. The contention that the wages paid in Canada are much lower than those paid in Australia, and that, therefore, the imported article can be produced much cheaper there than it can be manufactured locally, is absolutely false, and false to the knowledge of those who make it. The fact is indisputable that the wages paid in Australia are very much lower than are the wages paid in Canada. The particulars which I am about to quote are taken from the Commonwealth Year-Boole No. XII. for the year 1918, and the Census of Manufacturers for the Dominion of Canada for the same year. In Australia the salaried employees numbered 346, and the average salary paid to them was £170 2s. In Canada there were 1,129 salaried employees whose average salary was £292 10s. In Australia, for 2,.846 operatives, their wages averaged £129 18s. In Canada, the factory operatives numbered 8,966, and their average wage was £192 12s. It cannot, therefore, be argued that the imposition of higher duties is necessary because the wages paid in Australia are higher than those which are paid in Canada. As a matter of fact, the wage-earners of the industry in the Commonwealth receive upon an average 32½ per cent. less than do the employees of the industry in Canada, whilst, taking all hands into consideration, the wages paid in Australia are 34 per cent. less than those paid in Canada for the whole year. When we were dealing with the iron duties, I pointed out how coal has to be imported by Canada for industrial purposes, and how the manufacturers of that Dominion have to compete with the manufacturers of the United States of America. They have to face similar competition in regard to agricultural machinery.
– What is the Canadian Tariff upon agricultural machinery?.
– Speaking from memory, I think that it is from 12½ to 15 per cent. The cost of living in Australia has been high, and wages here ought not to be below those ruling in Canada. I should like to see our workmen getting wages equal to, or even higher than, those paid in any other country. But when we come to look at the added value of this class of machinery, we see at once that there must be something wrong with our manufacturers or our workmen, since we ought to be able to do at least as well as Canada in manufacturing agricultural implements and machinery. The added value of Australian agricultural implements works out at £652,406, or equal to £196 per person employed, while in Canada the added value works out at £3,506,760, or £347 10s. per person employed. The value of plant and machinery, is scheduled at £355,830 in Australia, which is equal to £107 per employee, while in Canada, at the time covered by these statistics, it was £1,194,506, or £118 per employee. If we divide the gross value of production by the total number of persons employed, we shall arrive,, at the average value of the work done by each employee, and we shall find that in the case of Australia at this time it amounted to £424 6s. per head, while in Canada it was £690 10s. per head. These facts demand careful consideration. If our manufacturers are not following up-to-date methods, if they are not making the best use of the protection which has been afforded them by putting down complete plants, so as to be able to turn out their manufactures at the lowest rates, is it fair that other sections of the community should be called upon to carry these imposts in order that they may be protected? I think I have shown clearly that Australian workmen in this industry do not receive anything like the pay received by Canadian workmen, and that the value of the output per employee in Canada is considerably more than it is in Australia.
– The figures referred to by the honorable member relate to the year 1918. Since then there has been an increase in wages here, and a reduction in wages in Canada.
– These are the latest statistics available. The honorable gentleman knows that our statistics are nearly always two years old.
– I think the honorable member will find that wages rates in Australia to-day are higher than they are in
Canada, because since the year mentioned by him wages here have increased, while in Canada they have been reduced..
– The honorable gentleman knows that wages continued to increase in Canada, the United States of America, and the Old Country for some considerable time after the war. All over the world to-day there is a demand for a’ reduction of wages. Wages here did not go up to anything like the level reached in America during the war. Even in Great Britain the wages paid in the steel industry were considerably higher than in Australia.
– But the honorable member’s figures are three years old.
– I have taken them from the Commonwealth Y ear-Book for 1918, and they are the latest available.
I stated at the ‘outset of my remarks that the Australian manufacturers of agricultural machinery made no request to the Inter-State Commission when it was inquiring into the Tariff for increased duties. ,1 have here a report by* Mr. Walmsley, in which it is stated that -
In March-October, 1914, the Inter-State Commission held an inquiry to hear requests regarding the 1908-11 Tariff on agricultural implements, but according to the report, which is. dated August, 1916 - nearly two years later - no information of any practical use was obtained, inasmuch as no manufacturer of consequence in Australia submitted any requests or furnished evidence in Australia.
A blacksmith, who was about to put on the market a potato digger, and a maker of peg- tooth harrows in Tasmania, who submitted that his trade was on the increase, and was profitably carried on, wanted a higher duty in order to expand his business more rapidly.
The Commission’s inquiries covered the period from March to October, 1914. At that time we had manufacturers carrying on here under low Tariff duties. They were doing well, but the Inter-State Commission was requested to collect evidence from all parts of Australia in regard tothe Tariff, and to make recommendations to this Parliament. They set apart the period from March to October, 1914, toan inquiry into the position of manufacturers of agricultural machinery, and wehave it stated that no manufacturer of consequence submitted a request or furnished any evidence in support of higher duties.
– As far back as 1908 we tried to get a duty of £16 per machine on stripper-harvesters.
– I am speaking now, not of politicians, but of manufacturers. Sworn evidence, taken before a Committee, and showing why these increased duties are necessary, should have been submitted to us ; but we have had no such evidence. It is a shame that such duties should be proposed. The Inter-State Commission reported that -
The most noticeable feature in connexion with this industry is the fact that, except in regard to three comparatively unimportant branches, manufacturers have refrained from approaching the Commission, either in regard to unsatisfactory conditions which may exist in the manufacture of machines and implements in which they are at present engaged, or in respect to an extension of their operations to machines and implements which hitherto have not been commercially made here.
It is a fair inference from this that at that time local manufacturers were satisfied with the 1908-11 Tariff.
– Is the honorable member aware that most Protectionists regard the Inter-State Commission, which made that report, as a Free Trade body?
– No. Any Commission that is appointed to take evidence will report according to the evidence sub,mitted, and not according to its personal predilections. The honorable member, as a member of the Public “Works Committee, has had to bring in reports according to the evidence submitted, although they were contrary to his own views.
– I do not doubt the sincerity of the Inter-State Commission, but I would not expect them to propose higher, duties.
– Here is a quotation from a report of the Commission, which shows that the honorable member, unintentionally, no doubt, was unfair in making such a remark: -
Notwithstanding that no evidence was adduced, the Commission did make some recommendations, chiefly in the direction of raising the general Tariff, in order to give a preference to implements, &c, of United Kingdom origin, which may partly account for the preference in the 1914 Tariff brought in twenty-one months before the Commission’s report ‘was presented to Parliament.
– That gentleman says the Commission recommended increases in the duties without being asked.
– The Commission did recommend increases of the duties, although no manufacturer suggested that any ‘increase was necessary.
– That is a most remarkable statement to make. I think your information is astray.
– I am quoting a member of the Tariff Commission of 1906, and I take his statements as being absolutely correct, as I think they will be found to be. “When the Minister (Mr. Greene) was speaking on the Tariff he said -
There are some subsidized freights in existence at the present moment. I can quote one instance which has come under my notice. I cannot give the particulars, because I have them in confidence, but I can give the figures. The ordinary freight at the present time is £10 per ton on a certain article; yet one firm is able to bring it to Australia at the rate of £1 per ton.
I am assuming that the Minister was referring then to agricultural machinery from Canada and the United States of America, and, if that be so, the honorable gentleman’s reference was incorrect. The following is information supplied by importers of that machinery: - The steamer freight rate on agricultural machinery from the east cost of America - Montreal, and St. Johns, Canada, and New York, United States of America - for the year 1911-12 was 20s. per ton; for the year 1912-13 it was 22s. 6d. per ton; for the year 1913-14 it was 27s. 6d. per ton. In the early part of 1914 an effort was being made to establish a new shipping line in the American-Australian trade. Agents for some of the old lines offered the agricultural implement concerns and some other large shippers a five-years contract at an average rate for the whole period to the five principal Australian ports of 22s. 6d. per ton. The contract was accepted by both the International Harvester Company and Massey-Harris Company. That contract was effective from 1st June, 1914, to 31st May, 1919, and to the credit of the shipping companies, it can be said that they honoured their contract through that troublesome period, and gave the shippers their fair share of space in every ship they loaded for Australia, although many of their charters cost them from £8 to £10 and more per ton. Had they wished to do so, the machinery companies could have made enormous profits for themselves out of the contract by charging their Australian customers the prevailing rates ; but they did not do so. Their retail prices throughout the whole period were based on the average rate of 22s. 6d. per ton, and the farmersof Australia, instead of the importing implement companies, got the full benefit of this exceptionally favorable contract, which accounted for the moderate prices of imported machinery in Australia during the war period. At 1st June, 1919, the rate on agricultural machinery from America to Australia was increased to 67s. 6d. per ton, three times the average rate that prevailed during the war period, which has been, next to the increased Customs duties, a most important factor in fixing the present high prices for farm machinery. The Minister laid great stress on the small quantities of machinery being manufactured inFree Trade New Zealand, and I said that I would show that, so far as population and production are concerned, they produce more than is produced in Australia.
– Yes; but they are not a farming people.
– But I say that relatively they produce more, and this makes the Minister’s argument of less value. Where there is a small market, and implements have to be sent to four different receiving houses, the cost of administration is thereby increased, so that the Minister’s statements are of little value.
– The freight from the eastern American ports is greater to New Zealand than to Australia.
– The honorable member for Indi (Mr. Robert Cook) told us of agricultural implements sold in Canada at £61, and in Eree Trade New Zealand at £97.
– I shall show the cost in Canada, New Zealand, and here. The Minister, in reply to the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Prowse), said -
The honorable member claimed that if we had Free Trade in agricultural implements, the farmers would be in a position to buy in the markets of the world just as they are called upon to sell in the markets of the world. Hesaid that that would be an advantage to them. But why did not the honorable member argue his case from the point of view of the price of machinery in New Zealand? For the simpleand sufficient reason that agricultural machinery there, which is supplied almost entirely by overseas manufacturers - because there is practically no agricultural implement making: in the Dominion - is without exception dearer than it is in Australia.
To say that practically there is no agricultural implement making in the Dominion is much the same as to say that there is no agricultural machinery madein Australia in comparison with theUnited States of America.
– How can machinery be produced in New Zealand without at Tariff?
– It is beingproduced.
– Who will believe the figures?
– I have the latestGovernment statistics of both countries, which show that the Minister’s statement is incorrect.
– Are you referring; to Mr. Massey’s statement?
– I shall refer to that later. There is no more important statement than that of Mr. Massey - thatowing to the increasing cost of machinery many people are going out of the agricultural industry in the Dominion.
– Because the importers’ are exploiting them.
– The honorable member did not hear my previous remarks, and, therefore he cannot follow the argument. To continue the information I have - The acreage under wheat, oats, and barley, the three principal cereal crops in both countries, was, for the year 1918-19, 9,013,166 in Australia. The total wages paid to the employees in the Australian agricultural implement factories in the same year was £428,522, which equals11½d. per acre. The finished value of the product of the Australian agricultural machinery factories for the same year was £1,415,375, equalling 3s. 2d. per acre. The New Zealand acreage for the same year for the same crops was 399,469. Note the difference between the small area in New Zealand and the large area here. The wages paid to agricultural machinery employees for the year was £128,185, equalling 6s. 5d. per acre. The total value of the finished product of the New Zealand factories for the year was £380,044, equalling 19s. per acre. The population of Australia for 1919 was 5,247,019. The wages paid in the industry equalled1s. 8d. per head. The value of the finished product was 5s. 5d. per head. In New Zealand the population that year was 1,164,405. The wages paid per head of population was 2s. 3d. The value of the finished product per lead was 6s. 6d. In the case of New Zealand, the population test is scarcely a fair one, for the reason that the population has been increasing there in about the same proportion as it has in Australia, while the acreage under crop has been decreasing. The acreage under the above three crops in New Zealand for the year 1909-10 was 729,500. For 1919 it was 399,469. In Australia the acreage in 1909-10 was 8,157,568, in 1919, 9,013,166. That calculation shows the wages to be 11½d. per acre in Australia, as against 6s. 5d. per acre in New Zealand, while the value of the production was 3s. 2d. per acre in Australia, as against 19s. in. New Zealand.
– Those figures might mean anything.
– The honorable member can try to work them out from the Year-Book, as I have done. I think I did so on a fair basis. I took the basis of the three principal crops which are applicable to both countries - wheat, oats, and barley, and their production per employee engaged.
– Has the honorable member worked the comparison out on wheat, oats, and barley only, and compared the relative productivity of the two countries on the basis of those three crops?’
-I took wheat, oats, and harley because they are the principal cereal crops. I did not include other crops that are not common to both countries. In the New Zealand Y ear-Book other products, which- are different from ours, are given ; but, taking if as a whole; I think it will be found; that the way I have worked: out the comparison is fair and equitable. Ifit had included the Australian hay crop it would have made the comparison veryunfair.
– I hope the Minister replies to those statements. They are very striking.
– It is easy to reply to that part of it.
– I find from the statistics that the manufacturer in Free Trade New Zealand pays his workmen a higher rate, because the percentage of the wages paid to the value of the finished product is 34 per cent. in New Zealand, as against 30 per cent. in Australia.
I wish to dealnow with the prices of farming machinery, and quote the differences in various countries. I had intended to deal with the Argentine, but all the evidence I have showsthat the reaperthresher has not been a success there.
– They were a long time finding that out.
– They were a good time finding it out, but that machine has never been properly on the market in the Argentine. It seemed hardly worth while to deal with that phase of the matter, but, perhaps, it will be just as well to do so, because I want to get these facts into Hansard, so that the people may know them. The Minister has been getting information from the Argentine, and has been asked how and from whom he obtained it, but he has not told us. It would be just as well if he did tell us how he obtains his information about prices in that country. A considerable time ago there was a good deal of comment on the difference in the prices of agricultural machinery in the Argentine and here; but I wish to deal more exhaustively to-day with the questionof the prices in Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. I will come back to the question of the Argentineprices later on if necessary, merely emphasizing the fact that the reaper-thresher never could be considered to be properlyupon the market there. Several machines were sent there, but they were never an unqualified success, for. several reasons, which I do not propose to go into now. As to reaper-threshers now being tried in the Argentine, they are enginedriven machines, quite different in design and construction from those which are being sold in Australia . Up to the present time none of these machines (have been sold in the Argentine. The International Harvester people are still engaged in developing the machine which they desire to put on the Argentine market.
The Minister compared the prices of different machines in New Zealand and Australia, notably disc ploughs, spring tine harrows, grain drills, and fertilizer drills. “Why those machines, which have scarcely any sale in New Zealand, were selected it is difficult to understand. I have the following information: -
In pre-war times prices in New Zealand were, on the average, lower ‘than in Australia, although the cost of delivering them, as well as distributing expenses, was much higher. Freight rates from the east coast of America to New Zealand were then from 10 per cent, to 15 per cent, higher than to Australia. On account of the broken nature of the country it has been found necessary to have distributing warehouses in the four leading cities, while only one for a much larger business is required in each of the Australian States. Distributing expenses in New Zealand average from 15 per cent, to 20 per cent, higher than in Australia. In Australia farm machinery is sold on the basis of delivery on rails at the station nearest the manufacturer’s or distributor’s place of business; the farmer pays the outward railage. In New Zealand the practice is to prepay carriage to the farmer’s nearest railway station or wharf, and the cost of it, estimated at 3i per cent., is added to the retail price. Then the equipment of some machines in New Zealand is materially different from the same machine in Australia. For instance, in Australia, drills are fitted with steel road wheels, while in New Zealand wooden road wheels, which cost more, are used.
– If you ask for specifications for any implement with wooden wheels in Australia, it is always charged as an extra.
– Yes. -
Australian manufacturers charge £3 extra for wooden wheels where supplied. In New Zealand a canvas cover to protect it from the weather is supplied with each drill at a cost of about £2. No such covers are used in Australia. Owing to the difference in seasons New Zealand price lists are usually issued about six months later than in Australia, and some interested parties, when it suited their purpose, have been known to compare current Australian prices with the preceding season’s prices in New Zealand. By reason of its more regular seasons, New Zealand has closely sold out its supplies yearly at prices based on the landed cost of the importations during the year, while quite the reverse has been the case in Australia, where it frequently happened that the machines sold were imported two or three years previously at lower invoice prices and with lower freights, and as prices there were also made on the basis of landed cost, they were, for the time being, more favorable to Australian than to New Zealand purchasers.
– The honorable member is now giving us the excuses of the International Harvester Company for selling: their machines dearer in New Zealand than here.
– The paper I have here is from the Massey-Harris people. It gives the reason why at times there were increased prices in New Zealand as compared with here. Nobody knows better than the Minister that the prices of these goods have been jumping up considerably month after month. Manufacturing costs have been going up month after month, and year after year, until they have reached an enormous figure. Nobody knows that better than the Minister does. He knows also that machinery canbe imported for one season’s product, and:’ I suppose nobody knows better than hedoes why the reaper and binder is beingsold at its present price to-day instead of with the duty added. It has been kept very secret up to the present, but although the Minister knew it the House was not told anything of it.
– But the beauty of the thing is that, notwithstanding these reasons in regard to New Zealand, the Australian manufacturers, who were subjected to all these extra costs, did not charge as much.
– Can the Minister tell us how the price of the stripper harvester has jumped up?
– Prices have not increased here so much.
– Prices have increased everywhere. The Minister knowsthis quite well.
– But the Australian manufacturer did not have such large stocks in hand. He was manufacturing all the time. The honorable member’s statements are pretty hot.
– I do not think they are. I have at times questioned some. of the Minister’s statements. He draws hisinformation wholly from one source - I might almost say a tainted source, because it comes from those manufacturers whoexpect to benefit by the increased duties.
– One might as well say the same of the honorable member’s information.
– Nothing of the sort. I am quoting figures that ought to have been obtained by a Board for the information of honorable members.
– The Minister’s interjection is an admission that, if the information obtained by the honorable member for Dampier is unreliable, his own figures are unreliable also.
– I did not say they were.
– The Minister stands in an entirely different position from any other honorable member. His duty was to get the fullest possible information from every section of the community in regard to the effect of these duties, and allow honorable members to make up their own minds; although, of course, he would be entitled to throw his own weight into the balance if he so desired.
– In Tariff matters one gets help from both sides, as the honorable member knows.
-Why not pass the Tariff in globo, so that we may deal with the dumping trouble?
– I cannot understand why some members opposite do not screw their courage up to the sticking point, and declare against the importation of any goods into this country. Why not increase the duties three hundredfold or five hundredfold, and test the issue at once ?
– As we did on onions?
– And in the case of bananas ; which only shows what political pressure will do.
– Did the honorable member object to what was done in connexion with bananas?
– Of course I did. I spoke against the proposal, and emphasized the danger of losing our trade with the Islands altogether.
But I want to give honorable members some information as to current prices for these seed and fertilizer drills in Australia and New Zealand, the comparison being between Mitchell (Australia), Reid and Gray (New Zealand), and Massey-
Harris (New Zealand and Australia). The figures are -
– What is the price of the Sunshine implement?
– Mitchells and the Massey-Harris Company make the oddnumbered colters, whereas the Sunshine people do not, so it would be hard to make a comparison, as the honorable member for Wakefield suggests.
– The actual price of the 15-hoe drill in New Zealand is £61 17s. 6d., but the farmer pays, in addition, £2 for a canvas cover, £2 extra for wood wheels, and £2 7s. 6d. for outward railage, which bring the landed price to £68 5s. Even with the addition of the3C items the New Zealand farmer gets a cheaper machine than the Australian producer. I am told that the prices charged by Mitchell and the Sunshine Harvester people are approximately identical, but Mitchells have been chosen for the reason, as explained by the honorable member for Wimmera, that their drills are constructed with odd-numbered colters, as are Reid and Grays, in New Zealand, and the Massey-Harris implements, while the McKay drill is manufactured with even-numbered colters. Honorable members will note that the small New Zealand manufacturer, with an output that is trifling in comparison with that of the leading Australian manufacturers, sells his drill in Free Trade New Zealand at a price 16¾ per cent. lower than the Australian manufacturer does in his highly-protected market, and lower also than the importers, whom the Australian manufacturers are attempting to exclude, can do. Current prices in the Commonwealth and the Dominion for the other items referred to by the Minister are as follow: -
– Wasthat machinery manufactured by a New Zealand firm?
– I am quoting the Massey Harris prices in Australia and New Zealand.
– Those figures were supplied to the honorable member. The honorable member is wrong about the four-furrow disc plough. My figures are that in Australia, with a 40 per cent. duty, it is sold at £44, and in New Zealand, duty free, at £52 10s.
– The statistics I have used I collected for myself, except those which I quoted from Mr. Walmsley, but these figures in regard to prices are supplied by Massey-Harris, and I believe them to be true. If I doubted their accuracy, I should not put them before the Committee. I have the assurance of Massey-Harris and Company that these are their prices, and, moreover, I have checked some of them with the printed price lists issued in Canada by Deering and McCormick. I have taken all possible care to verify my information, and I would not read to the Committee any document if I thought it contained any misrepresentation. The Minister (Mr. Greene) said during this debate -
Agricultural machinery there (New Zealand), which is supplied almost entirely by overseas manufacturers - because there ispractically no agricultural implement making in the Dominion - is without exception dearer than it is in Australia. . . . There are eighty-five items in this list, &c.
I propose to read a list of the retail prices for 1921 in Canada, New Zealand, and Australiaof Massey-Harris farm machines of the same kind.
– Where did you get that information?
– Prom Massey-Harris and Company.
– Bad though our local manufacturers are because of the low wages they pay, Massey-Harris and Company are worse, because they sweat their employees under contract.
– I have previously quoted statistics showing that the average wage per employee in this industry is considerably greater in Canada than in Australia, whilst the output also is larger. If a machine manufactured in Canada can be sold for £60 while the one manufactured here is sold for £100, there must be something wrong with the local manufacture.
– The Massey-Harris crowd here sweat their employees.
– The comparison of wages per head is wholly in favour of Canada.
– Has the honorable member worked out the percentage difference between Canadian and Australian wages?
– Wages in Canada were about 25 per cent. higher two years ago.
– The wages I quoted related to 1918.
– What is the good of quoting those?
– The average income of salaried employees in this industry in Australia is £170 2s., and in Canada £292 10s., whilst the average wage of the operatives in Australia is £129 18s., and in Canada £192 12s. I shall quote the prices paid for different articles of machinery by the farmers in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. The Australian prices of binders are quoted on the basis of a 10 per cent. duty, because Massey-Harris & Company had a large number of machines on hand just before the new duty became operative. Had that machinery arrived a month later, and borne the 45 per cent. duty, the increase would have had to be paid by the consumer.
– Can the honorable member say why the Massey-Harris people knocked off £24 off their catalogue price for the reaper and binder?
– I can. While I was speaking on the first item, the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Richard Foster) interjected: - “The price quoted here for the imported reaper and binder was £130, but as soon as Mr. McKay quoted £100 for his machine, the price of the imported article dropped.” The explanation is this : The Australian retail price for a Massey-Harris 6-feet reaper and binder for the 1920 harvest was £102 payable after harvest. As forward orders for harvesting machines are booked all through the year, it became necessary to fix a price for binders for the 1921 harvest soon after the new Tariff was brought down, and a price list was issued on 19th July, 1920, in which the pricefor the 6-feet reaper and binder was fixed at £130, which included the duty of 45 per cent. under the new Tariff. Honorable members are aware that in March of last year the new Tariff was introduced, which* imposed a duty of 45 per cent. on reapers and binders, but it did not become operative until the 1st January of this year. However, a large number of reapers and binders arrived in December too late for delivery for the 1920 harvest, before the new duty came into effect, but after the High Court decision was announced under which the Customs Department charged duty on the exchange. It is those reapers and binders, carried over from 1920, that are now listed at £105 for the 1921 harvest. Had they paid the new 45 per cent. duty and the duty on exchange, their price would not have been less than £135. The price established by McKay had nothing whatever to do with the question.
Mr.Richard Foster. - The only trouble is that they did not quote the lower price until McKay quoted £100.
– The honorable member knows perfectly well that, up to that time, the Sunshine Works had turned out only one machine.
– I am speaking of quotations which I know were made by McKay for this season in South Australia.
– The Massey-Harris people distinctly intimated that, as soon as they would be called upon to pay the higher duty, the price would be increased to £132.
– Yes; but it fell to £100 when the Sunshine machine came out.
– The Massey-Harris people state that their price at the present time is based on the 10 per cent. duties paid by them on. these machines.
– No; it is based on their competitor’s price here.
– I cannot credit that statement. I know the price of everything has been increased, and may still increase, but I have with me a list comparing the various prices charged to the farmers on the usual terms, cash payable after harvest, for agricultural machinery in Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. It is as follows : -
– Does it cost the MasseyHarris Company £35 to send a reaper and binder to New Zealand ?
– There are very many handling charges. As I shall show the honorable memberpresently, the natural protection afforded varies from 20 to 50 per cent. This comparative list of prices continues -
I hope that the Minister does not object to my putting in Hansard the whole of this list.
– I did not put the whole of mine in, but please yourself.
– Are not the Canadian prices an argument in favour of establishing the industry in our own country?
– The industry is already established here, and has made marvellous progress under the lower duties.
– I am afraid that the honorable member for Dampier is quoting the wholesale prices for Canada.
– No; these are the prices, the farmers pay in cash, after harvest. The honorable member can compare his figures with mine. The list continues -
– May not the difference between the Australian and New Zealand prices be accounted for by the difference in freights?
– There is no duty in New Zealand, but it costs the seller more to get. the Canadian goods to the New Zealand farmer than it does to land them at the vending point in Australia. The list continues -
– There is juggling somewhere.
– Before the honorable member speaks, I shall take the op portunity of comparing my list with his. The list continues -
Cream separators cost £20 in Canada, £23 in New Zealand, and £29 5s. in Australia. No doubt the bigger duty here accounts for the difference in price. The list from which I have read shows that our farmers pay on the average 60 per cent, more for the machinery and implements they use than is paid by the Canadian farmer, and that in every instance the New Zealand prices for agricultural machinery and the like are lower than the Australian prices. The Minister has laughed at my statement about the value to our manufacturers of the natural protection which they enjoy. In regard to wire, there is a natural protection of £3 per ton in freight, exchange, and insurance charges, and in the long list from which I have quoted there is scarcely an item in regard to which the natural protection is not over 30 per cent., and in some cases it amounts to nearly 75 per cent. The Massey-H’arris Company has supplied me with figures showing the actual cost of importing a 4½-feet mower, which was landed in Melbourne last December from the steam-ship Vir’gilia, and a cultivator, which was landed here on the 30th March last from the steam-ship
Port Hacking. These are the figures giving the cost of importing the mower: -
A duty of 10 per cent., which was formerly the rate, would have amounted to £1 10s. 2d. on par value, or to £1 17s. 9d. on commercial exchange value.
– These machines are imported in the flat - that is, unassembled, and the cost of assembling them here should not have been included in that statement, because it is not part of the cost of importing. All machines have to be assembled, either at the factory or al the place to which they are exported.
-I assume that this machine would originally be assembled in the factory ; but, perhaps, the Minister is right. On the figures I have given, the duty at 45 per cent. on commercial exchange value comes to £8 9s. 9d., or 62.59 per cent. on the invoice value. Deducting the cost of assembling here - £1 5 s. - the duty would be between 40 and 50 per cent. on the invoice value. I have similar figures regarding the cost of importing a cultivator, but I shall not read them. In 1918, about 70 out of 110 countries mentioned in a list I have consulted allowed agricultural machinery to be imported free of duty. The United States of America was one of those countries. There, everything in the nature of agricultural machinery, or implements, or parts, is admitted duty free.
– Has that always been so?
– No ; but when the last Tariff was passed these things were placed on the free list.
– Because the manufacturers of the United States of America are well established.
– The reason may have been to obtain reciprocity of treatment with Canada, in the hope of capturing the markets of the far western portion of the Dominion. The farmers and others in the western parts of Canada are agitating for Tariff reform so that they may buy their requirements at something like the world’s prices, and yet the duties which they have to pay are nothing like those which the Australian farmer has to pay. A huge political organization is being formed in western Canada for the protection of the interests of the farmers, who have to compete with other countries in the markets of the world.
– Does not Canada manufacture agricultural machinery ?
– The Canadian manufacturers of agricultural machinery are the chief competitors of our own manufacturers.
– Then the Canadian farmer should get his agricultural machinery cheaply.
– He buys for £60 what our farmer pays £102 for, and yet he complains. This Tariff will generate a feeling of hostility in Australia, because it penalizes the man on the land.We are trying to induce our population to settle on the land, and at enormous expense are bringing immigrants from the Old Country, and yet we are charging them enormously highprices for everything they need. Our farmers have to accept the world’s prices for their products, and their trials and troubles have been many and severe.
– At the present time, fowls’ food costs 10s. 3d. a bushel.
– The present price of wheat is due to an arrangement made by the State Governments; but will any one say that it compensates the New SouthWales farmers for the recent two years of drought in which they made nothing? We ask that these items be reconsidered. Should the agricultural machinery industry need assistance, let it be given by way of a bounty. Our manufacturing industries, however, made greater progress under low duties than they have made since many of the rates were increased by the 1914 Tariff. The present Tariff will injure the producer, and I do not think it will benefit the workers, although it plays into the hands of Trusts and monopolies, and tends to increase their number.. Honorable members know how the promises that were made when machinery duties were increased in 1908 have been broken. The farmer does not know from day to day what return his industry, will yield him. He has to compete without protection in the markets of the world, and he deserves special consideration. Land has been falling out of cultivation, and though the area that is being cultivated has increased this year, that is due chiefly to the efforts of repatriated men to make homes for themselves. The man who goes out into the bush to win a livelihood by tilling land that has hitherto produced nothing, and cuts himself off from the advantages of civilization, often being unable to get schooling for his children or a proper mail service, is surely worthy of consideration. Yet, these duties fall wholly upon such men and other tillers of the soil.
, - I recognise that the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory), although ill-advised, has made out a good case from his own stand-point. We who support the duties have been told that we are trying to ruin the agriculturist.
– Not that you are trying to do so, but that that will be the effect of the duties.
– -That will not be their effect, and were it likely to be so not one honorable member on this side would support them; because if the man on the land cannot make a living, the rest of the community suffers. We quite understand that; but we believe that the farmers’ representatives in this Chamber are over-estimating the effect of the increased duty. We are charged with looking solely after the interests of the manufacturer, but we would rather do that than protect the importer. The honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) has referred to the Massey-Harris Company. I have a particular objection to that firm, because I believe it is worse than the International Harvester Company. In connexion with the assembling of these im plements, the workmen are in a somewhat unfortunate position, as there is not a Federal award covering this particular trade. Victoria and South Australia are the principal manufacturing States, and operations are governed by the decisions of a Victorian Wages Board. Unfortunately, a mistake was made in preparing the Victorian rates and conditions, and the Massey-Harris Company and the International Harvester. Company are taking full advantage of the position. The representatives of the men had it arranged that these firms could not under-pay men, but under certain contract arrangements men are engaged in assembling the parts of agricultural implements at rates which do not allow them to earn a living wage. These firms, however, are controlled, to a certain extent, and we can demand from them wages and conditions which we cannot exact from importers.
– Is it not rather strange that men can be secured to work for less than a living wage?
– It is; and at times the firms find great difficulty in obtaining their services. At present there is a good deal of unemployment, and these firms are taking full advantage of the situation by employing men to work at wages below those usually paid. Agricultural implements can be assembled by men who do not possess engineering skill, although a certain amount of mechanical knowledge is necessary. In many countries where there is over-production, the manufacturer is compelled to export his surplus to other countries, where, it is sold at a lower price than it is disposed of to the consumers in the country where it is manufactured. It is only six weeks ago that the South African farmers objected to Victorian wheat being dumped in that country, because it was detrimental to the interests of the South African producers. Australian wheat has been sold in South Africa at a lower rate than it was disposed of in the Commonwealth. The American manufacturers are not the only transgressors in this direction, because all manufacturers dispose of their over-production in a way that is detrimental to the interests of those in the countries from which they export. The honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) quoted the ruling prices in Canada, New Zealand, and Aus- . tralia, but Canada is really the same as the United States qf America, because the same firms are operating in the two countries, and the Tariff in the two countries is framed to suit the interests of both. The difference in the Canadian price of £61 and the New Zealand price of £97 is accounted for by extra profit, because in New Zealand there is no competition with the local manufacturer. If the New Zealand price is £97 and the Australian £102, the difference of £5 does not mean ruination to the Australian farmer. Surely the average agriculturist would be prepared to pay that amount if it would mean placing the industry on a sound basis and making the farmer independent of foreign manufacturers. I doubt very much whether, individually or collectively, the Australian wheat-growers would enter any protest if they realized that the imposition of the proposed duty would eventually be the means of placing them in a better position. I quite understand that the farmers’ representatives are advocating reductions because they fear that some injury will be inflicted, and if they do not protest they may have to explain. I believe ihat some farmers’ representatives are asked to make statements with which they do not agree. How much would it mean per bushel qf wheat, oats, or barley if the extra price was paid?
– Will the honorable member encourage primary production by giving a price above the world’s parity?
– I do not like being nasty, but 10s. 3d. per bushel for fowls’ food is ridiculous. I have been informed by poultry farmers that it is impossible to carry on because farmers want so much for their wheat.
– The farmers are not receiving anything like that price.
– I know that, but they are receiving on an average 9s. 4½d. per bushel.
– I do not think there is one who has received 9s. a bushel.
– I know that certain charges have to be incurred, but I have been assured that they receive over 9s. 3d.
– The farmers do not receive more than 8s.
-Then some middlemen must be making the profit.
– The honorable member must not overlook the railway charges and the wages paid to wharf-lumpers.
– I know what rates they, are paid, but they are not to be compared with the profits made by the middlemen.
– They are getting some of it.
– We are quite agreeable to the farmer receiving a fair price, because we believe that he has to work.
– He is the worker.
– He does not work harder than the operative in any other industry.
– He works longer hours.
– No farmer works harder than the gas stokers in my electorate.
– I doubt that.
– The work of a gasstoker is very strenuous.
– I do not think the honorable member is right in saying that the farmer does not work hard.
– That is not my statement. I said he did not work harder than the stokers in the gas works.
– I will not admit that.
– If a farmer were asked to do the work of a gas-stoker he would run away.
– And the honorable member would not get the stokers of the gas works to work as farmers do.
– A number of men in my electorate are anxious to go on the land. I know of a farmers’ representative in this Chamber who did not possess much training, and who made a success of rural work. There is nothing in farming that cannot be successfully mastered by a man possessing ordinary intelligence and physical fitness.
– The best farmers in Western Australia were originally miners.
– Quite so. A number of old Cornish miners have made very successful agriculturists. The honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) must admit that a number of farmers have been so successful that they have been able to retire.
– Yes, and a number have been through the Insolvency Courts.
– That is so. It is ridiculous to suggest that the imposition of the proposed duty will ruin the farmers.
-It may not ruin them, but it may drive them off the land.
– The extra duty, represents about one-seventh of a penny per bushel, and if that is going to ruin the farmer he is hanging on by a very slender thread. The Australian farmer owes a good deal to the implement manufacturers of Australia, because the stripper harvester, which is an Australian invention t was largely responsible for making wheat farming successful.
– Was not the chief inventor an agriculturist?
– Inventors would be of little use without .manufacturers. Quite apart from sentiment, it is good business for the man on the land to encourage the local manufacture of the implements he requires.
– But will the honorable member say that high duties are essential, either to the manufacturer or to the worker ?
– If I did not think so I would not support them. If I thought that, without imposing higher rates of duties, I could make Australian employers pay, and continue to pay, the wages which, their workmen earn, I would be satisfied not to go for increases.
– The honorable member knows that if the local manufacturer had to pay higher wages he would raise the price of his machines.
– At any rate, he would not do so because of any lack of effort on my part to prevent that course. The experience which we had in Australia with the stripper-harvester very nearly killed Australia’s Protectionist policy. I do not want to open old sores, but if our manufacturers had kept their promises, the Protective policy would have been much more easy of adoption than it has proved.
– It could not have been much more easily operated than at present.
– But for the breach of faith which occurred in 1908, the duty on every machine would have amounted to £16.’
– Under the duty which was imposed, did not Australian manufacturers do remarkably well?
– I believe they did.
– And did they not hold their own?
– I do not know. They were not paying the wages that they should have paid in a country like Australia, and we desired increased duty to enable them to do so. If such increase had been injurious to the farmer, we would not have sought to impose it. But we knew, and we still know, that it was not injurious. We know, further, that without the imposition of additional duties the prices of imported machinery have gone up and up. The establishment of local factories tends, without doubt, to check importers. That has been proved in New Zealand. The figures which the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) quoted in this respect were not accurate. I say that the machines are cheaper in Victoria, at any rate, than in New Zealand. But even the statistics which the honorable member gave proved that the importer is an exploiter. Unfortunately, he is often an individual whom we cannot get at, since the profits go elsewhere. I wish to quote some interesting figures for the particular benefit of country members. In the financial year 1905-6, the 5-ft. stripper-harvester cost the farmer £81. In 1909-10, the price was £70. The 6-ft. stripperharvester in the earlier year was £94, and in the later period £78. I could quote similar comparisons in respect of other lines of machinery, but my purpose is to show that after the imposition of a Protective Tariff there was a decrease in the price which the Australian farmer had to pay.
– Whose figures are those?
– They have been furnished for me by the trade. I have made the comparisons to show that, not only was the price to the Australian farmer reduced, but that the importer had to take less profit.
– Was there any local competition during those periods to account for the reduction in prices?
– There was in those days. I am told that there is very little to-day. It will astonish honorable members in the corner to learn that, over a five-year period, up to 1918, the duty which the farmer had to pay upon his imported implements amounted to about one-seventh of Id. per bushel on all the grain produced in the Commonwealth. Such an imposition could not possibly ruin anybody. The amount of duty collected on agricultural implements of all sorts last year was about £450,000. The farmer says that that is a direct charge upon one class, namely, the primary producer. It is not so, for the reason that the primary producer passes it on. Honorable members will be interested, I think, in the following extract from the Farm Implement News, published in Chicago: -
During the month of February, agricultural implements to the value of $7,082,800 were exported, according to figures made public by the Department of Commerce last week. This is a large increase over February, 1920, when the value of implement exports was $2,869,647: For the first eight months of the current fiscal year, implement exports were $37,272,683, compared with $19,552,593 during the corresponding period of. the previous fiscal year.
The annual report of the International Harvester Company, made public 14th April, shows that, while the company’s volume of business in 1920 was the largest in its history, the net profit was smaller than in 1919.
The report states that the machine selling prices in 1920 showed an average increase of’ GO per cent, over pre-war prices, and that the increase in repair prices was 40 per cent.
The peculiar and significant fact is that while their exports were enormously greater than during the earlier period, their profits were considerably less. It is obvious that American manufacturers were accepting lower prices for their machinery. That is what we fear in Australia. I agree with the honorable member for Dampier that, with the uptodate furnishings of our factories, and with the intelligence and individuality of the Australian workman, we ought to be able to compete and hold our own with any one in the world. So long as the conditions are fair and normal, we should fear nothing and nobody. But we have to look out for the profit-cutting foreign manufacturer. United States of America manufacturers have had to sell their products for less than formerly, and they will be compelled to continue to do so. They must find and keep and endeavour to expand oversea trade, and they can only do so by selling for less profits than they were formerly making. Acute though the general position may be in Australia and Great Britain to-day, there are also great troubles and disabilities in the United States of America. In their search for, and exploitation of, further markets, the American makers will resort to methods which, if they are not counteracted here, will prove considerably detrimental to Australian industry. It is “ up to us,” and particularly to the representatives of the farmers, to see that Australia’s industrial interests are conserved and protected. Does not the farmer perceive that an industrial smash would injure him as much as any other individual in the community?
– We do not want any smashes in this country.
– Then I ask the honorable member to assist in preventing calamity. There need be only the small beginnings of a slide to precipitate an awful avalanche. While we are all desirous of reducing the prices of commodities generally, if reductions are to be brought about by the enforcement of lower wages, there is bound to be disaster. That consideration appeals to me as a representative of the worker more than it does to honorable members opposite. In 1893, there was a smash in Victoria, and, in common with many thousands of other persons, I had to leave this State and go elsewhere to make a living. Will honorable members opposite tell me” that the farmers did not suffer then, as well as anybody else in the community?
– The honorable member is assisting to bring about a similar condition of things by injuring the producing interests of the country.
– If the effect of this duty were to injure the interests of the producers of the country I should have nothing to do with it. I believe that it cannot possibly have that effect.
– The conditions in 1893 were as different from those existing now as daylight is from dark. We are suffering now from double and treble the prices that prevailed in 1893.
– If the honorable member remembers the crisis of 1S93 he will know that we were then suffering from inflated values, which, in proportion to the value of money, were as great as the increase in prices to-day.
– But the cost of living in 1893 was down to bedrock as compared with the cost to-day.
– I notice that in Brisbane recently Mr. Andrew Fisher expressed the opinion that even the greatfinanciers of the world do not know where they are to-day. There is no one who really knows what is the true financial position in the world to-day. All the great financiers have been at sea. Our position to-day is peculiar just as it was in 1893 when the smash came. If it had not been for the discovery of gold in Western Australia at that time many people in Victoria would have had to starve. The State Government at the time were mad, and went in for economy.
– Does the honorable member intend to connect these remarks with the item before the Chair?
– I can do so. I am replying to the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory), who says that these duties will ruin the farming section of the community. I am pointing out that there are other things besides the increase of duties which might ruin the farmers. A financial smash in Australia would effectually ruin them. I have to look to the past for an example of this, and I say now to honorable members representing farming interests that the lowering of wages will bring about a financial smash in Australia more quickly than anything else. Unless we have duties to protect our manufactures against dumping from other countries we shall be likely to have such a smash.
– Would the smash come if, with a reduction of these duties, we had a corresponding reduction in the cost of living? Why should not wages come down as well as prices ?
– I would rather live in a country where prices and wages were high than in one in which wages and prices were low.
– In other words, the honorable member would be satisfied with an effective wage value.
– Exactly. I shall take no risks in bringing wages down until I know that the cost of living has been brought down. My duty is to consider the position of the worker.
– Wages have not yet caught up with the cost of living.
– That is so, and the Basic Wage Commission proved it. I fear the possibility of a crash. I do not wish to use platitudes, but we all know that no nation can build up a desirable civilization on agricultural production alone. There must be stable manufacturing industries to. make the country what we should desire it to be, and no country can be independent without them.
– We all agree with that.
– My amendment provides for fair duties on these manufactured articles.
-I should not like to suggest that the honorable member is not sincere in his proposal ; but, as a matter of fact, I desire that the duty should be increased by the amount by which he is trying to reduce it, because I know from past experience what the Yankee firms will go for, and must go for. Australia will be one of the first of the. markets which they will try toexploit. The honorable member for Dampier quoted certain figures in order to compare prices in Australia and New Zealand. I have already said that, even if the honorable member’s figures are correct, I have so good an opinion of farmers in Australia that I believe they would be willing to pay the increased prices charged in Australia in order to have these industries established in this country.
– Can the honorable member show me that the agricultural implement industry did not flourish in Australia under the low duties of the 1908-1911 Tariff?
– What I say is that if a £12 duty was essential in 1908, £16 is useless now.
– No; because this is quite a new machine.
– It is useless to base estimates on pre-war values. Things areat present in a state of flux. We do not know where we are. Experiments aredangerous, and experiments in the lowering of wages are, in my view, more dangerous than any others. In the circumstances, to give opportunity to importing firms to exploit our people is foolish on the part of members of this Committee. I have some figures here which institute a comparison between prices in Australia and prices in New Zealand. I take for instance, certain manufactures of the International Harvester Company, and I find that this company sells the Mogul stationary engine,1 horse-power, for £26 in Australia, where the duty is 30 per cent. In New Zealand, where the duty on the machine is only 10 per cent., they charge £35,or £9 more than they charge for it in Australia. For the Mogul stationary engine, 6 horse-power, the International Harvester Company charges £125 in Australia, where the duty is 30 per cent., and in New Zealand, where the duty is only10 per cent., they charge £146 10s.
– Is this an oil engine?
– I cannot say. For the Mogul stationary engine, 10 horsepower, the International Harvester Company charges £190 in Australia, where the duty is 30 per cent., and £209 10s. in New Zealand, where the duty is only 10 per cent. These figures show that the importing firms sell morecheaply in a protective country than in a practically Free Trade country. The reason is apparent, and it is that they have to compete here with local manufacturers.
-The honorable member’s figures are extraordinary, because the figures I had showed that American oil engines increased in price less during the war than almost any other article I know of.
– My figures will be placed on record, and if the honorable member can refute them he will have an opportunity to do so. For a fifteen-hoe grain and fertilizer drill the International Harvester Company charge here, where the duty is 30 per cent., £51 5s., and they charge £53 5s. in New Zealand, where the implement is admitted free.
– I think the honorable member’s figures are wrong.
– They have been collected for me, and if the honorable member can refute them, so . much the better for his case. The International Harvester Company charge, in Australia, where the duty is 25 per cent., £16 5s. for an orchard disc harrow, 8 x 16, with fore-carriage, and they charge £17 10s. for this implement in New Zealand, where it is admitted free. For a Diamond harrow, four sections, they charge £7 15s. in Australia, where the duty is 25 per cent., and £7 13s. 6d. in New Zealand, where the implement is admitted free. The Massey-Harris Com pany sell a fifteen-hoe grain and fertilizer drill in Australia, where the duty is 30 per cent., for £51 12s., and they charge in New Zealand £53 7s. 6d., though the implement is admitted free to that Dominion. They sell a fifteen-disc grain and fertilizer drill for £55 12s.6d. in Australia, where the duty is 30 per cent., and in New Zealand, where the implement is admitted free, they charge £57 10s. for it. They sell a disc harrow, twelve discs, 6 feet, in Australia, for £13 15s., though the duty on the implement is 25 per cent. here, and they charge £12 17s. 6d. for it in New Zealand, where it is admitted free. They sell a Diamond harrow, four sections, in Australia, where the duty is 25 per cent., for £7 12s. 6d., and for £7 12s. 6d. in New Zealand, where it is admitted free. For a disc plough, three furrows, 24-inch disc, they charge £35 7s. 6d. in Australia, with a duty of 25 per cent., and they charge £35 12s. 6d. for it in New Zealand, where it is admitted free. For a gang plough, two-furrow rolling coulters, they charge £15 12s. 6d. in Australia, where the duty is 25 per cent., and £15 14s. 6d. in New Zealand, where the implement is admitted free. I quote these figures to show that importers take advantage of the. state of the market, and where there is no local competition they charge all they can get. The funny thing is that the farmers’ representatives regard them as most merciful people, and appear to consider that they are philanthropists.
– No. We say that our local agricultural implement industry has been built up under a low Tariff, and now the honorable member desires to make a special concession to the men who manufacture these implements.
– The only concession I wish to make them is to enable them to hold the Australian market while paying fair wages to the men they employ and charging fair prices to those who have to use the implements they manufacture. Honorable members opposite know that if I get a chance I shall make the manufacturers sell at fair prices.
– I am interested to know what is going to happen af ter this Tariff is passed.
– The honorable member is not more interested in that than I am. The figures I have quoted represent in every instance net cash prices.
The statement regarding this matter which has been supplied to me reads: -
In New Zealand, oil engines are subject to a revenue duty of 10 per cent., but all other lines are ‘admitted free. In Australia, there were duties of 30 per cent, on grain drills and oil engines, and 25 per cent, upon all other lines mentioned above. Notwithstanding this, it will be seen that prices in Australia were considerably lower than prices in New Zealand. That was in 1918-19. In 1920, the difference was even greater. Writing to Ihe Argus of 18th April last, the Minister for Trade and Customs quoted the International Harvester Company’s then current prices in the two countries, as under : -
These figures show that Protection on farm machinery does not raise prices, and that the New Zealand farmer derives no advantage from the free importation of his implements. Whilst the removal of duties is no advantage to New Zealand, it has serious disadvantages. The Dominion loses considerable revenue, which has to* be made good by some other form of taxation, and the farmer is charged more for his implements.
May I add that the Minister is not encouraging the production in his own country of a commodity which ought to he encouraged ? That, to my mind, is the greatest crime of the lot. In New Zealand the duty was remitted, with the object of making these machines cheaper to the farmer, but the result was that they were made dearer. I know that all business men will cut lines at times, just to show how much cheaper they can sell than can the fellow next door.
– When I quote statistics, the honorable member complains if I go back to 1918.
– I have quoted the figures for 1919-20.
– The honorable member has not quoted the present prices of these machines.
– Let us get down to the question of wages. As honorable members are aware, that is the question which most appeals to me. During, the war, the manufacturers of Canada, by reason of their proximity to the markets of Europe, were able to. obtain contracts to the value of hundreds of millions sterling, whilst we’ in Australia were unable to secure any such contracts.
– Contracts for the supply of agricultural implements ?
– No; unfortunately, they were for war commodities. As the honorable member knows, all the industrial establishments in Canada were converted into war-material establishments. Now that the war is over, these have reverted to ordinary manufacturing purposes. The wages paid during the war in Canada, because of the inordinate prices which manufacturers were able to obtain for their commodities, were higher than those paid in Australia. But since the armistice the manufacturers there have discovered a most effective method of lowering wages. I hope not merely to maintain the wages which are being paid to’ the agricultural employees in Australia, but to secure an increase of those wages. At the same time, I say that the employer in Canada is not paying his employees the wages that he should. Figures prove nothing unless they are up to date.
– Figures prove everything, according to the statements of some honorable members this afternoon.
– The statements which I have quoted can be disproved only by comparison with the selling prices extant. We . have .been told that the manufacturers of Canada are paying considerably higher wages to their employees than are the manufacturers of Australia. I hope that they are. But if they are doing so, the fact only makes me anxious to see our own employees receiving a considerably higher wage. Should there be over-production, either in Canada or the United States of America, the manufacturing firms there will not exhibit any mercy or any consideration to the manufacturers of Australia. Thus, whilst it may happen that agricultural machinery may be imported at prices which for a time will suit the farming community, the latter should beware pf what is in front of it if dumping should ,take place here.
Mr.- Gregory.- It is preposterous to talk about dumping.
– I take it that the honorable member for Dampier does not desire to see that state of things brought about. But he knows that methods are adopted in business - methods which are not conducive to the best interests of the community.
– I would like to see a body established, such as has been created by the Japanese. When goods are imported into that country and are offered at unreasonably low prices, the whole thing is sifted from top to bottom with a view to seeing that the people pay fair prices for them.
– We have .been promised that similar legislation will be enacted here.
– That Japanese arrangement is in addition to the ordinary duty.
– I hope that the. members of the Corner party will not slip when we upon this side of the chamber endeavour to get similar legislation enacted. We require anti-dumping laws.
– I hope that we shall be as solidly behind the honorable member as he is solidly behind the Government in connexion with this Tariff.
– I hope so. Upon page 7815 of Hansard of this session, the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory), in discussing the duty upon stripper-harvesters, affirmed that the present duty was’ £50 ls. 5d. at the mint par rate of exchange, and that, the natural protection in 1920 was 38 per cent. The duty upon harvesters imported from America is 40 per cent. ad valorem, so that if the amount of duty were £50 ls. 5d. at that rate, the invoice price would be £113 6s. The landed cost price of an imported harvester in 1920 would therefore be as under: - Invoice price in America, £113 16s.; duty at 40 per cent, ad valorem, £50 ls. 5d.; natural protection, 38 per cent., £43 4s. 10d.; or a total of £207 2s. 3d. The honorable member did not state the size of the machine; but, assuming it to be the largest size imported, namely, 8 feet, it means that the importers were paying £207 2s. 3d. to land .it in Australia, whereas the net cash selling price last year was only £174 10s., and this year is £184.
– I was then dealing with the price of the reaper-thresher.
– No. The honorable member was dealing with the stripperharvester, so that if these machines enjoy the natural protection attributed to them by the honorable member, the importers are throwing away about £25 per machine. I am, however, chiefly concerned with the dumping proclivities of manufacturers abroad who have overestimated the requirements of their own local markets. I come now to the question of whether Protection imposes a burden upon the farmer. A newspaper article, which I recently perused, thus sets out the position: -
Assuming that the farmers get no benefit from Protection, either in the way of reduced prices for their machinery or the introduction of up-to-date appliances, what do the duties actually amount to? To hear some of the statements that have been made, one would think that the duties were a crushing tax on the farmers, and would soon drive them off the land, hut an investigation of the figures shows that this is a fallacy. The amount of duty paid on all agricultural, horticultural, and viticultural machines for the five-year period from 1914 to 1918 inclusive totalled £433,948. The value of agricultural productions for the same period was £286,075,000, so that the duty equalled only 3s. for every £100 worth of produce. If we take the same period and spread the duty over the acreage under crop it works out to less than lid. per acre, or, taking it another way, the duties work out at less than one-seventh of a penny per bushel for all wheat, oats, maize, and barley raised in the years under review, namely, 1914 to 1918, that being the last year for which reliable figures are available.
Value of crops for five-year period, from 1914-1918, £274,156,452.
Bushels of wheat, oats, and barley produced for five-year period, 1914-18, 652,101,816.
Value of duty paid on all agricultural, horticultural, and viticultural implements and machines for the five-year period 1914-18, £433,948.
Acreage of wheat, hay, oats, and harley cultivated for five-year period 1914-18, 71,392,494 acres.
Duty equal to, say, 3 s. for every £100 worth of produce.
Or duty equal to, say, lid. per acre.
Or duty equal to, say, l-7th of a penny per bushel.
– The honorable member’s figures go to prove the value of the agricultural industry. They show it is worth fostering.
– Yes. They . also show how lightly this impost falls on the farmers.
– And they do not include anything like the .whole of our agricultural products, in the production of which agricultural machinery is used.
– Quite so. We are told that these duties are going to ruin the farmers. I should not have made this quotation but for certain figures quoted by the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory), which, I think, it entirely refutes.
– I pointed out that, as 75 per cent. of the agricultural machinery used here was made in Australia, every £1 increase in the duty meant a 75 per cent. increase.
– The honorable member tried to prove that an increase of £1 amounted really to a £4 increase. I have heard that contention before, but it would be difficult to convince me that, if I received £1 for something, I had in reality received £4 for it. The honorable member, as reported in Hansard, pages 7815-6, said a good deal in regard to the supposed natural protection enjoyed by Australian manufacturers. I have here a statement in which it is pointed out that -
If his figures are no more reliable than those relating to binders, mowers, and hay-rakes, they can be disregarded altogether. He said the natural protection on binders, mowers, and hay-rakes, in 1913 and 1921, was as under: -
He did not show how these figures were
Arrived at, but there is no doubt they are incorrect. Natural protection is usually considered to be freight, insurance, and all other charges except duty. The natural protection on one well-known American make of machines in 1913 and 1921 is as under: -
Naturally it was higher during the war period, hut the above percentages state the situation to-day. These figures include freight, insurance, bank exchange, wharfage, stacking, cartage, entries, and all other expenses except duty.
The honorable member claimed that the natural protection was in some cases 100 per cent., and in others as much as 130 per cent. greater than the figures prove it to be.
– The only exaggeration in the figures which I quoted was in the reference to assembling, which I quite agree should not have been included. Apart from that item, I quoted the actual figures in regard to importations.
– The honorable member will recognise that in quoting these figures in refutation of statements made by him I have no desire to be personally offensive. He laid great stress on the natural protection which he claimed was enjoyed by local manufacturers, and I am showing that it does not exist.
– The honorable member admits that if exists, but not to the extent that I was advised.
– It does not exist to anything like the extent claimed by the honorable member for Dampier.
– There can be no doubt about that. The. honorable member probably included as a natural protection the loss in exchange between America and Australia, but this should not be considered, since it is only a temporary disadvantage. This Tariff will continue until we amend it, but the loss in. exchange between the United States of America and other countries cannot continue very long without bringing about a crisis. The present situation is of the gravest concern to financiers and businessmen in the United States of America. Almost every week we read in the newspapers cable messages setting out the concern felt by financiers and others in the United States of America in regard to the exchange position. We are told that the. Government of the United. States of America will have to enter into some arrangement with Great Britain to do this, that, or. the other thing, and as soon as the exchange difficulty has been adjusted away will go any natural protection that our manufacturers enjoy in that respect.
I shall not enlarge upon the question. I have only to say, in conclusion, that if I thought these duties would injuriously affect the farmer, I. would not vote for them. I claim, however, that, the farmer must, bear his share of the cost of administering the affairs of Australia. I claim, further, that, it is better for him that he should have his requirements satisfied by local manufacturers, since in such circumstances he has ready access to the market, instead of having to satisfy his needs by imports from overseas. The farmer, like all other sections of the community; is also concerned in -seeing that we avoid such a financial crisis as occurred here in the early, nineties. Much as he may fear increased prices as -the result of increased duties on agricul tural implements and machinery, he has far more to fear from a financial crash. I advise him not -to take too much notice of the statements of the Taxpayers Association, which is howling for economy, and wants to bring down wages. We had -exactly the same cry in the early . nine.ties, and the reduction of wages was followed by a financial smash. If we try to bring down wages a great depression will’ ensue, with disastrous results alike to primary producers as well as dwellers in our cities. It is up to the farmer to see that we build up in Australia industries that -will benefit him equally with all town Workers.
– As one who endeavours to properly represent the primary producers of Australia, I desire to show exactly where I stand in regard to a matter of such vital importance as is the duty on agricultural implements. I do not feel justi fied in allowing to go uncontradicted the statements made by the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory). The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Mathews), in a telling’ speech, has already replied to some of them, and I desire, also, to put before the Committee other aspects of the question. My only regret is that other members of the Country party are not prepared to follow the example of the honorable member for Dampier and the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart), who feel strongly on this question, and do not hesitate to say exactly where they stand. Every honorable member should be prepared to substantiate the views he holds.
– We shall do that by. our votes.
– That is all very well ; but this is not a question on which we ought to register a silent vote, since the imposition of duties on agricultural machinery and implements is a bone of contention amongst so many people. If the honorable member for Dampier could support his statements by recourse to the history of fiscalism in this or any other country, or by quoting authoritative statistics, I should be found voting with him. I go further, and say that if his statements were based on fact - if it .were true that the imposition of duties on agricultural implements and machinery or anything else used by the primary producer, had the effect of increasing prices - I would mot vote. for, such duties.
– I believe these dutieswill have that effect.
– I hold the contrary view. Every figure quoted by the honorable member for Dampier came came from a biased source.
– He acknowledged quite freely that he obtained his figures from the Massey-Harris people.
– In answer to my inquiry, he candidly admitted) that the figures quoted by him were supplied by the Massey-Harris Company- ra company of importers. Such figures are absolutely unreliable.
– Then by the same token, figures supplied by Australian manufacturers must also be unreliable.
– No; because1 we are able to obtain the price lists issued by the Australian manufacturers. The honorable member for Dampier did not give us the benefit of any inquiries; he had made in that direction. He gave us, instead, a long series of figures. It is an old saying that figures’ can be made to prove anything. So they can, if they are taken from only one source, and those at the source are interested parties. That is what the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) did.
– The honorable member said he had checked the figures with the price lists from Canada.
– Indeed, he did not!
– I heard him say so.
– The honorable member said he had checked the figures in some instances.
– Quite so. I asked the honorable member if hehad checked the figures with the price lists, and he said that in some instances he had.
– And found them correct.
– I do not know ‘that the honorable member added those words; in any case, the ‘“‘instances ‘ ‘ might be only 1 or 2 per cent. The fair thing would have been to check the figures bright -through, and then quote them to the Committee; but, even chad the honorable member done so, the figures would not have borne out the statement supplied by the Massey-Harris Company. What I desire to do is to follow the honorable member for Dampier in his contention, but it is difficult to know exactly where to begin. Perhaps it would be better to begin where he himself began, when he made a great point of the “natural protection” which, he says, is afforded. The honorable member contends that the freights represent a natural protection to our own manufacturers, .and mean a great deal to thom. ‘When the Minister (Mr. Greene) was speaking on the first item, he expressed the opinion that this “ natural protection “ is largely a myth; and I am quite sure that he could have proved to the satisfaction of any fair-minded person that it is so, .indeed. Had the honorable member for Dampier troubled to ask those people, who have been so careful to supply him with certain figures, to tell him what this “ natural .protection “ really amounts to, I am quite satisfied that the reply would have shown him that it has no existence. As the honorable member did not take that course, I shall, for the benefit of the Committee, the country, and the primary producers, supply some information, which is obtained from no tainted source, but, as I claim, represents the facts of the position. I shall not bother to quote the exact words of the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) when dealing with the first item, but he then contended that this “ natural protection “ represents a great advantage to the manufacturers of Australia. Is the honorable member aware that, in the period from 1st July, 1914, until the 30th June, 1919, those large Canadian- American firms, to which he referred, were able to import the finished implements and machinery from Montreal to Melbourne or Sydney at a freight of only 20s. per ton of 40 cubic feet?
– The figure given by the honorable member for Dampier was £1 2s. 6d.
– It is news to me that the honorable member gave that figure, but if he did, then all his talk about natural protection is so much thin air.
– Did the coming of thoee vessels not enable the primary pro.ducers of Australia to get their products away?
– It is only fair to show how these importations compete with local manufacturers, who have to import their steel and other raw material at freights representing ten and fifteen times that amount.
– Have you forgotten the explanation of the honorable member for Dampier that there- was an arrangement made in 1914 for five years ?
– The arrangement was for the benefit of those who were importing these machines into Australia, and it was mainly due to the fact that the Canadian Government were subsidizing the companies which were bringing this .machinery here. The paternal Government of Canada stands by the Canadian manufacturers in a way tha’t we here in Australia would do well to copy. As a result of that assistance, this machinery is brought over 12,000 miles of ocean at a freight equivalent to that paid for carrying machinery from, say, Melbourne to Sydney.
– That is a point that is always overlooked.
– Exactly ; and the comparison made by those who talk of “natural protection” is unfair to our own manufacturers, who have to import their steel and other raw material at freights up to twelve times the amount. Any Government might well follow the example set by the Canadian Government in their efforts to build up local industries.
In the period from 1914 to 1919, Australian manufacturers were unable to procure supplies of steel from Europe and England, and large quantities were, therefore imported from America. On many occasions such steel arrived consigned to Australian implement makers at from £6 to as high as £12 per ton freight while in the same ships there were mountains high of agricultural implements from CanadianAmerican manufacturers carried at a freight of about £1 per ton. This shows how our local manufacturers suffer in comparison with the manufacturers of America and Canada, where the Governments stand by them and subsidize shipping .companies in their interests. When the honorable member for Dampier spoke about this “ natural protection,” he might have told us those facts; and, as I have already said, he might have asked the importing companies bow much this “natural protection” really amounts to, instead of endeavouring to create the impression that the freights paid by them are enormous.
I have here a photograph of a bill of lading from Melbourne to Buenos Aires by the Japanese steamer Luzon Maru, and it is a very interesting document to consider side by side with the statements of thehonorable member for Dampier. This bill of lading shows that 101 packages, representing 49 tons 5 cwts., were carried at a freight of no less than £20 per ton. The date is January, 1918, during the period that the CanadianAmerican manufacturers were landing goods in Australia at 20s. per ton, as compared with an outward freight of £20. It may be said that this is ancient history, but I have an instance, within a month or two, of a consignment of 10 tons of one-way disc cultivators, an Australian invention well known to our farmers, being despatched from Melbourne to Buenos Aires in the Citta di Genova at a freight of £10 per ton. This competes with a freight from New York to Buenos Aires of less than £3 per ton; and it is manifest that if we value our export trade we must do as other countries do, and assist our manufacturers to hold their own.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– The honorable member for Dampier was good enough to admit that he did not take into account the question of the assembling of the machines, and that there was notvery much in the contention which he raised.
– Only in that regard.
– The honorable member was not present when I showed from a bill of lading that it cost only about 20s. per ton to oversea manufacturers to land their goods here.
– Do you say that the oversea manufacturers can land their goods at £1 a ton now ?
– That was during the war.
– I gave the full particulars.
– I also showed how a consignment of about 10 tons, consisting of one-way disc culti vators, an implement of Australian invention, was despatched from Melbourne to Buenos Ayres in the Argentine on the Citta de Genova at a freight of £10 per ton, while from New York to Buenos Ayres the freight at the same time was only £3 per ton. In that case there was a natural protection to the foreigner of £7 per ton.
– I explained that that was a contract entered into just prior to the war.
– The Canadian Government by means of a subsidy enabled their manufacturers to have their manufactures brought here at £1 per ton.
– Have you any proof of that?
– It is so. I make it as a definite statement. Does the honorable member think it is unnatural for a Government to stand by their own manufacturers ? It is the duty of a Government, in the interests of the primary and secondary producers, to stand by the manufacturers of their own country if they can, in order to allow them to build up the local industry.
– If the Government are going to stand by their manufacturers with cheap outward freights to the markets of the world, it would not be a bad thing to apply the same principle to the primary producers also.
– The honorable member will find no more ardent backer than myself in anything he wishes to have done in the interests of the primary producer, but it is also in the interests of the primary producer to so build up our manufactures here as to enable him to have a good local market, which is the best market of all. I hope we shall see the honorable member for Grampians (Mr. Jowett) voting with us when the division is taken on this item, although we have not seen much of him during the debates on the Tariff. I cannot do better than repeat the words he uttered when he was a candidate for Maribyrnong some years ago. I quoted them when I spoke in the general debate on the Tariff. He pointed out how unfortunate it would be for this country in a time of war if we did not so build up our industries here that we would beatle to come to the rescue of our primary producers instead of leaving them to be the prey of foreign importers. That, in effect, was his contention, and I hope that by his vote on this item he will show that he is still of that opinion.
When I spoke on the general question, I referred at some length to agricultural implements,, and do not propose to go over the same ground again. I wish to give some figures, however, in answer to the honorable member for Dampier. I refer to him specifically, because he is the only honorable member who has yet spoken on this item. He has, of course, a right to his own opinions, and I am sure he is perfectly honest in his convictions; but I cannotsee how he can represent the interests, or voice the true opinions, of the man on the land, when he says that the interests of the primary producers are best served by doing something that will kill the local market.
– He did not say that.
– What the honorable member proposes would have the effect of leaving the primary producers at the mercy of a foreign monopoly.
-He does not propose to do so.
– But the effect of what the honorable member advocates would be to leave the primary producers of Australia at the mercy of the worst Combine of all, the one we cannot touch or deal with, and that is the overseas Combine.
– Not a bit of it. I showed that the agricultural implement manufacturers here have flourished under a low Tariff.
– If the figures I have here prove anything, they will prove the very opposite. The contention of honorable members in the. Corner is that the duty on agricultural implements is passed on to the farmer. The whole history of fiscalism in this and every other country goes to demonstrate the very opposite. I am not going to quote interested bodies. I have done the honest thing by taking the price-lists. On 1st September, 1920, the Massey-Harris Company, an importing firm, quoted in their own price book the 6-ft. reaper and binder for delivery in 1921 at £125 each. On the 21st September, 1920, the McKay Harvester Company announced that they were making reapers and binders locally, and quoted the 6-ft. machine at £95 cash. On 21st February, 1921, the Massey-Harris Company issued a new price-list, in which they quoted the 6-ft. reaper and binder at £101 cash. There is a difference of £24. The only reason why they did that was because the implement was produced locally, and the local competition forced them to reduce their price to the primary producer by that amount. Nothing could persuade me that, but for the local competition in this article, the Australian farmer would not be still paying that extra £24. I cannot see how the production of the article locally can be to the detriment of the man on the land. If it were, I would not be advocating it, but the whole history of Protection goes to demonstrate that it is to his benefit, and not to his detriment. The instance I have given is a complete answer to the argument that the duty is passed on to a farmer.
– Is that why they removed the duty on agricultural implements in the United States of America?
– I am dealing with Australia. Here is a set of facts about what has happened at our own doors. Instead of honorable members in the Corner being able to explain it away they call attention to other countries, and ask if that is why something else was done elsewhere. Why not get right down to tin-tacks, and deal with the question at issue here? We are concerned with Australia. I will give another interesting statement from a price-list. It is not a statement from an interested firm like the Massey-Harris Company. When the honorable member for Dampier was speaking, he told me that he was quoting from a document supplied to him from that company. We ought to have something more than that. It should be backed up by the price-list, at all events, but this was not done. I have here another printed price-list which was given to me. It shows that the pre-war price (1st June, 1913) for the 6-feet reaper and binder was £39, and the post-war price (1st February, 1920) £77 10s., an increase of 98¾ per cent.
– At the end of the year the price was increased to £98.
– I believe that is so. The pre-war price for the 8-feet reaper thresher was £135, and the post-war price £204, representing an increase of 51 per cent., while the pre: war price of the 15-hoe grain and fertilizer drill was £38, and the post-war price £57 2s. 6d., an increase of 50 per cent. We might very well ask ourselves why in the one case was there an increase of approximately 100 per cent, and in the other an increase of only 50 per cent. , because during that period the duty was not altered. There was a revenue duty of only 5 per cent, on reapers and binders, and a protective duty on reaper threshers and drills.
– The price of reapers and binders increased because there was no competition, and every farmer requires them.
– The honorable member for Wakefield has supplied the answer. The importers of reapers and binders were able to put up the price nearly 100 per cent, for the simple reason that there was no competition in - Australia. Therefore, there is nothing in the contention of the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) that the duty caused the increase in price, because reaper threshers and drills, which are on the protected list, advanced only 51 per cent.
– And if they are put on the free list they will go up 100 per cent., too.
– Exactly. There is no necessity at all to enter into a labyrinth of figures to elaborate this argument; The comparisons I have been able to make furnish an unanswerable argument, showing that as soon as the local industry is destroyed the primary producers of this country will be at the mercy of an overseas Combine.
– The honorable member for Dampier was not arguing that we -should leave the farmers at the mercy of a Combine.
– MOLONEY.- But that would be the effect of the policy advocated by the members of the Corner party.
I propose now to deal with the comparison of New Zealand and Australian prices made by the honorable member for Dampier, and in this connexion I intend again to quote, not as the honorable member for Dampier did, from figures supplied by the interested manufacturers, but from the price lists. I may add that this is not the kind of Tariff I want. I want the New Protection, under which we could control local -prices, but, like other members of my party, I have to choose between this Tariff, which represents the Old Protection, and a Free Trade policy. The only figures that are of any value at all in connexion with this matter are to be found in the price lists, upon which the farmer would buy, and if the figures which I have are right, then those supplied by the honorable member for Dampier must be wrong. These are New Zealand prices under Free Trade conditions -
Honorable members will see that, in the course of six years, the price went up nearly 130. per cent. If there was anything at all in the Free Trade doctrine, such an advance would have been impossible. If we were not able to contrast those figures with the Australian position under Protection, it might be contended that the increase was due to enhanced cost of production, higher wages, and dearer materials; but I have been able to make a comparison between New Zealand and Australian prices for the same class of implement. The following are the figures for Australia, under Protection -
The highest quotation in Australia was £48 for a 4-furrow disc plough as compared with £72 10s. for the same class of implement in New Zealand, and I repeat that if my figures are right, then those supplied by the honorable member for Dampier are entirely, if unconsciously, misleading. I notice that he did not quote Argentine prices, although Argentine, like New Zealand, is a Free Trade country. In 1913, the 6-feet Sunshine harvesters were quoted at £8’S in Australia, and £165 in the Argentine, and the 8-feet harvester, in Australia, £113; Argentine, £187. I come now right down to 1920. and I find that, in Australia, under Protection, the American 9-feet reaper thresher was priced at £250, while in the Argentine, under Free Trade, it was £380.
– Do you say it was the same class of machine?
– Yes; it was made by the same company.
– It was not an enginedriven machine.
– I understand it was the same machine. The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) will correct me if I am wrong. I believe the Minister had something to say in reply to a letter which appeared in the Melbourne press, signed by a person styling himself “ Facts, not Fiction.”
– It was exactly the same machine.
– That is so; and I think the Minister’s statement showed that the letter contained more fiction than fact. I hope that before the debate concludes the honorable member for Dampier will take the opportunity of substantiating the figures he has quoted.
– The honorable member is quoting a machine without engine, and the honorable member for Dampier quoted one with engine.
– I am quoting the same machine as the honorable member for Dampier quoted. I have tons of other figures of the same purport as those I have already submitted to the Committee, but I have quoted enough to convince every open-minded, person that the argument that Protection increases the price of an article is an absolute myth. And I say, with all due respect to honorable members of the Country party, that they are not voicing the opinions of the thinking farmer when they use that argument. I cannot imagine the farmers, who are amongst the most intelligent section of the community, agreeing with any proposal which would be detrimental to local industries. It is of the utmost importance to them that industries should be built up in Australia. The trouble, in the past,has been that the secondary industries have been confined to the cities; they should be spread throughout the Commonwealth. Apart from that, the best market the man on the land can have is the home market. Nine out of ten men on the land will agree with that contention.
– If they do not have to pay too much to get it.
– That aspect does not enter into this argument. The home market must be destroyed if we are to introduce in Australia the conditions that obtain in New Zealand and Argentine. The figures I have quoted from the price-lists, if they do not lie, prove that under a sound system of Protection the man on the land gets the cheaper article. At the same time, he is deriving advantage from a good home market, with his customers at his own door, and he is freed from the operations of the overseas combines, with which he cannot get into touch. If he has to choose between the two systems that are offered to him, the sensible farmer will say, “ Give me the industry built up in my own country and under the control of our own people, and do not leave me to the mercy of oversea combines that exploited me in the past, and will do so again if they can destroy local competition.”
.- A great deal of time is spent unnecessarily in trying to prove that Free Trade is not in the interests of this country. I, and the whole of the members of this party, I think, agree with that contention.
– Then why did your Deputy Leader (Mr. Gregory) quote New Zealand so much?
– To answer the arguments put forward by the Minister (Mr. Greene) and others. I do not think there is one honorable member in this chamber who does not desire to see local industries built up and Australia made great. Any man who has any other desire ought not to be a member of this House. I would not like to see our own kith and kin walking the streets in idleness while we are purchasing the goods of the importer.
No member of the Country party advocates that. Honorable members opposite have put up a good fight in the interests of the wage-earners in the secondary industries, which are mainly concentrated in the cities.
– The speech of the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney) was in the interests of the man on the land.
– I speak as one of the men on the land, and also as one who was born and bred in Melbourne, and worked for many years in the factories of this city. I have had opportunities of studying this question from both points of view. It has been frequently asserted during the debate that the home market is the best of all. It depends on what the home market means, and the price ruling in it. The ruling price of wheat in Australia is world’s parity; in other words, the amount the farmer receives for the wheat consumed within Australia is no greater than the amount ‘he receives for wheat sold overseas. I do not object to the Protectionist policy if it is applied all round, but what principle does it lay down? The principle of protecting our manufacturers and their workmen from the operation of world’s parity, the very law which honorable members insist upon the primary producer obeying. They demand that the primary producer’s wages shall be fixed, not at a special rate in Australia, but at what he can get for his produce in the markets of the world, less the highest ocean freights in the world. How often have we heard from many a platform of the unfairness of expecting white men to compete with cheap coloured labour? Is there a man who can deny that that is what the Australian producer is doing all the time?
– Not in the Australian market.
– The price in the Australian market is fixed at black labour rates, or world’s parity, which Australian manufacturers and workmen say they cannot fairly be asked to stand up against.
– Does the honorable member mean that India dominates the world’s wheat market?
– No. We have to pay Protectionist prices for what we wear and for the means of production, and yet must sell our produce within Protectionist Australia at world’s parity.
– How does world’s parity mean black labour rates ?
– We have to compete against wheat grown by the coloured labour of India, the cheap Spanish labour of the Argentine, and the peasant labour of Russia.
– The Spaniards are not black.
– ‘But the -Indians are.
– The honorable member objects to the farmer paying Protectionist prices for his implements, and yet says he is not a Free Trader. What duty, if any, would he impose on agricultural implements ?
– I would fix the price of wheat and butter and other produce of the land on the same basis as that upon which the Australian manufacturer and workman fix their wages, namely, import parity, o In other words, if wheat is 10s. per bushel in London, freight from London 2s., and duty 2s., the import parity is 14s.
– We agree with you in that.
– I have no desire to set the workmen in the country and the workmen in the city against each other.
Honorable members representing city constituencies have put the case very well from the point of view of those for whom they speak. They have called the attention of the farmers to the position of the wage-earners in the factories. In reply, I desire to say a word or two from the point of view of the wage-earner outback, who works, not forty-four hours a week, but sixty-six, and often more, and who does not receive double pay for holidays and Sundays. Honorable members opposite talk about the high price of wheat, but I ask them what would be the price of wheat if the primary producers worked only eight hours per day, and received double pay for holidays and for the labour of pickling wheat at night and carting water on Sundays?
– When a man is working for the “boss” he is in a different position from that which he occupies when he is working for himself. I worked a damn sight harder for the “ boss “ than I ever worked for myself.
– The Labour Call, a very excellent paper which I make a practice of reading, contains on its front page the following placard in extremely large type:-
Price in London, 190s. percwt.
Price in Melbourne, 205s. per cwt.
When it is desired to bring down the price of an article, whether it be a necessity or a luxury, the best thing to do is to lessen the demand by going without.
Don’t buy to be robbed!
I do not know whether honorable member’s opposite condone this. They are not anxious, when selling their labour, to compete with the world’s parity, but immediately the primary producer gets something to which he thinks he is entitled, they cry out that their ancient privileges are being violated. Those who are behind this official organ of the Labour party in Victoria apparently insist that the primary producer must sell at the world’s parity, but immediately he gets any more they put a placard in their organ advocating that his produce should be boycotted and brought down to black labour rates. If it is the privilege of the city worker to have a forty-four hours week, and double time for holidays, I want the same privilege extended to the workers in the country districts. If honorable members deny these privileges to country workers, I deny them to the city workers. All that honorable members opposite ask for the men and women of the city I ask for the men and women out back.
During this debate, it has been frequently asserted that the increased duty on agricultural machinery will not have the effect of increasing the price of that machinery; but if it will not have that purpose, I cannot see why it is wanted. My opinion is that it will increase the price of this requirement of the primary producer. In fact, that is the object of it. The wonderful unanimity now being displayed between representatives of the city workers and representatives of the employers is rather interesting, but it will be equally interesting to watch, when the
Tariff goes through, who will get the bigger share of the bone. I do not think there will be so much unanimity then.
The progress of America has been quoted frequently during this debate, but not one honorable member seems to have recognised that that country blazed the trail by the development of its agricultural industry. By throwing open the land in the western States, and not sitting on it, as the majority of our States are doing in regard to their Crown lands, and by encouraging the people to get back, the United States of America brought about the greatest agricultural development that has yet taken place in the history of any nation, and only after that did they begin to develop their factories.
– The primary industry is Australia’s sheet anchor, and it will’ continue to be so for many years to come. With our wool and wheat we can compete in the world’s markets so long as the cost of production is not increased too much above what it is in other countries; but let me compare the position of the Australian farmer with that of his Canadian competitor. The Canadian pays £60 for a 6-feet reaper and binder; the Australian farmer must pay £103 for the same implement. The Canadian farmer pays £45 for a thirteen-disc drill’ as against £78 which the Australian farmer is obliged to pay. Similarly for a cultivator the Canadian pays £30, the Australian £50. For a 6-section harrow the Canadian pays £12; the Australian £19. For a two-furrow disc plough the Canadian price is £28, the Australian price being £43.
– Can a Canadian farmer deal direct with the Canadian firms?
– I cannot say; but he has the additional advantage over the Australian of being nearer the world’s market. If we force up the cost of production as we are doing, the Australian farmer will be compelled to work longer hours, and speed up in order to hold his own with his competitors overseas. I want to state here that if this National Parliament does not show a little more sympathy for the primary producer, there will be something doing before very long. The vote given only the other day upon the duty on wire netting was a distinct blow at every man and woman out-back. There are no- better citizens in Australia than those men and women, and what is their reward for going into the back country, and opening up new land? Their reward is to live under the worst conditions with the worst railway services, the worst postal and medical facilities, and the worst mean’s of educating their children. They are asked to work the longest hours for the least return of any section of the community. Why should the best citizens of the country suffer the worst conditions? lt is up to this Parliament to ascertain the reason for this. If any proposal is on foot to cut down hours, and increase wages, let a start be made in the country districts. At least, let these improved conditions apply all round. The city end is not where a start should be made.
The duties proposed in this schedule are not in the interest of the primary producers. The members of the Country party are not advocates for Free Trade, but their belief is that the existing duties on agricultural machinery are quite sufficient. At any rate, they have proved to be sufficient up to date, and our manufacturers have flourished under them. Not one honorable member has endeavoured to show that the local agricultural implement makers are losing ground. On the other hand, it is a well-known fact that their establishments are larger to-day than they have ever been, but it seems to me that the larger they grow the bigger is their appetite for protective duties. I suppose that in a year or two we shall have another Tariff brought down proposing still higher duties. Tonight, in a few minutes, duties have been agreed to, and not one honorable member opposite was in attendance.
– The honorable member is well aware that the Sydney express was delayed for four hours.
– I am aware of that fact; but other honorable members opposite did not come over from Sydney today. Honorable members have allowed duties to be passed as if they had no regard for the importance of the business before the Committee.
– The honorable member’s facts are wrong. Not one duty has been agreed to at this sitting.
– I am merely drawing attention to the fact that honorable members seem to be getting tired of the Tariff discussion. Evidently those of us who are endeavouring to put a brake on the fiscal madness displayed by the majority of honorable members, are wasting their time and their breath. I do not suppose I have changed one vote by the few remarks I have made, but I have risen to put forward, as well as I can, a plea for the men and women of the outback. I do not propose to give any figures to the Committee. The case for our party has been put so well by the Deputy Leader (Mr. Gregory) that I need not elaborate on his arguments. I simply lay down the principle that, if honorable members are .- anxious to give protectionist prices to the workers of the city, they should also give them to the men and women out-back. If they want a forty-four hours’ week for the city workers, let them give a forty-four hours’ week to the men in the back country.
– Tes, to the wageearners there.
– To the wageearners on the farms. If honorable members claim, in the resounding phrase of their Deputy Leader (Mr. Ryan), to be a party representing all sections of the community, let them take my advice and cut out of their official organ these “ Boycott butter “ appeals.
– If the farmers resort to dumping, they must get fits, as well as any one else would.
– In regard to dumping, the Minister (Mr. Greene) has promised us something which is rather nebulous. He tells us that a Board will be appointed te safeguard people In the Commonwealth against being exploited by the local manufacturers. If the duties are too high,- the Board, he says, will act as a brake upon the local manufacturers and will review the rates. I argue the matter from the other direction. If, after the passing of this Tariff, an Australian manufacturer can come forward and prove, by producing his books, that he is being unfairly and unjustly treated by the dumper overseas, I am prepared to give him a reasonable duty. But the local manufacturer, who has an obsolete plant, and who has not adopted up-to-date business methods in controlling bis establishment, who gets a few members of Parliament together, and has a deputation to our genial friend, the Minister for Trade and Customs, to ask for an increase of duty, instead of seeking to place his business on a proper footing or obtaining an up-to-date plant, will have no support from me. That is a kind of Protection I will always fight against. But in this House there is no party more anxious than that to which I belong to see the fair thing done for Australian workmen and for the Australian nation. However members may differ from the Country party on fiscal questions, I hope that we shall not be accused of being un-Australian, or of desiring to strike a blow at Australian workmen or Australian manufacturers. What we say is, If you insist on the need for protecting manufacturers, give to the producers protection in the Australian market similar to that for which you ask for those whom you represent.
– I shall not attempt to cover much of the ground wandered over during the debate. The statements of the last speaker (Mr. Stewart) were wide of the issue at present before the Committee, and, I think, have been fully answered by what has fallen from other speakers. I have already set out the view, which I hold very strongly, that the primary producer derives much general benefit from the establishment of industries in the country. For the honorable member for Wimmera and his party to say, “ We believe in the protection of and development of Australian industries,” and at the same time, in regard to the machinery and implements which the farmer requires, to object to any but duties which do not protect, and to strive for the highest possible duties on our primary products is illogical. I believe in Protection, but I believe in applying it all round. Where we can give the primary producer direct protection, I am in favour of doing so. On other occasions during the Tariff debate I have shown that the primary producer gets many indirect benefits from the establishment of local industry. For one thing, he is relieved of much of the burden of taxation which would fall on his shoulders were not the taxable area increased by the establish ment of industries. The Argentine is pre-eminently a primary producing country, its secondary industries not being developed to any extent, and there the whole burden of taxation is thrown on the primary producer.
– The people of the Argentine have no financial burden, compared with ours.
– Does not the honorable member know that the Argentine imposes an export duty of 8½d. per bushel on wheat?
– What is the national debt of that country? That is its real financial burden.
– In addition to this export duty on wheat, the primary producers of the Argentine have to pay an export duty of 24s. per ton on frozen beef, of 2d. per lb. on butter, and of 15 per cent. on wool. Those are a few of their taxes.
– What is the taxation of the Argentine per head of population ?
– I have not that information; but I say that their farmers, in being charged an export duty of 8½d. per bushel on wheat, are more heavily taxed than our farmers.
I do not know any industry from which our primary producers have derived more benefit than the manufacture of agricultural implements, and Australia can pride itself on the fact that the machines which to-day assist the wheat farmer to harvest his crop are the result of Australian brains and Australian enterprise.
– Do you say that this industry has progressed ?
– Then why do you ask for higher duties to protect it?
– I am not thinking of the financial progress of individual manufacturers.
– Australians have done their share in the designing and making of agricultural implements, but they have not done everything. Take, for instance, the reaper and binder.
– The reaper and binder is not the machine used for the harvesting of wheat. My remark had reference to the machine used for wheat harvesting. There is not a machine imported into this country for that purpose which was not originally invented and designed in Australia. That is a fact upon which Australians have every reason to pride themselves.
– The Minister is a little overstating the case.
– I have here set out the history of the development of these machines, and I shall quote some of it to let honorable members know what they, owe to the agricultural implement makers of this country and to the Australian workmen associated with them. The first successful stripper-harvester was invented in 1884, and patented in 18S5, by Australians. There had previously been attempts to devise a machine that would perform in one operation the whole work of taking off the grain and making it ready for market, but it was not till 1885 that a machine was produced in any country to fill these conditions. As the Australian stripper-harvester worked satisfactorily, it sold well when the growers realized its efficiency, and appreciated the immense reduction its use meant in the expense of harvesting. During the first fifteen years, comparatively slow progress was made, but the prejudices disappeared during that time. In 1900, the combined harvester, as it was then styled, was generally, if not universally, recognised to be the most efficient and economical machine for taking off the crop. Then the Americans took a hand. During 1900 and 1901 sample combined harvesters were purchased in Australia by the Massey-Harris Company and the International Harvester Company, both North American Combines. These machines were used as models for imitation, and both companies embarked in the manufacture of them on a large scale. They shipped considerable numbers of these imitations to Australia for sale. It was the only country using such machines. There was no demand for them in America at that time. Meanwhile, several Australian firms had gone into the manufacture of harvesters, but the wealth and weight of organization on the part of the American companies made the competition too. severe for them. Wellknown makers, such as James Martin and Company, Gawler, South Australia; Nicholson and Morrow, Melbourne; and Henderson Brothers, of Corowa, and other makers,, were forced out of the harvester business. In the Australian com- bined harvester there were embraced some features that were in the original stripper invented by Ridley, of South Australia, about seventy years ago. The principal of these was the combination of a stripping comb and revolving beater, by which the ripe heads of grain were taken off the standing crop and threshed. During the past twenty years many experiments were made in various parts of the Commonwealth, with the object of developing machines which would do the same work in different ways. Among many abortive attempts, one change emerged, which met with a measure of acceptance. This was the adaptation of the binder knife and reel with the stripping comb to take off the heads, instead of doing the work with the comb and beaters. The list in the Commonwealth Patent Office shows that patent rights were taken out by the Australians referred to as follows:- No. 2202/04, J. L. Smith, North Melbourne, 24th December, 1904; No. 4394/05, Matthew Wm. Charlton, of Newport, Victoria; and Douglas East Chapman,, of Ascot Vale, Victoria, 19th October, 1905. Honorable members will notice that in this instance the Australian inventors were responsible for a further improvement in this particular type of machine. The patent rights which embodied the inventions of Charlton and Chapman were bought up by the MasseyHarris Company, who employed the inventors to construct a trial machine in Melbourne, which was duly tested and then taken to the works in Canada. Its manufacture was entered upon and under the name of the “ Reaper Thresher “ was offered for sale in Australia in 1911-12. The Australian manufacturers were actively working also, but not having the vast selling organizations of the American firms, they at first made small headway with this type of machine. But a novel and important improvement in the method of taking off the heads was invented and patented by Hedley Shepherd Taylor, of Henty, New South Wales (under patents dated 22nd October, 1913, and numbered 10989). While retaining the comb of the harvester and the knife of the binder, he dispensed with the binder reel. This reel, which swept back the ears of grain from the comb, was replaced by a double disc spiral, which forced the heads from the knife to the elevator. The elevator conveyed them to the threshing drum. Among many useful novelties on the machine, these formed the most striking departure from recognised practice. Mr. H. V. McKay, who was approached by Taylor, recognised the possibilities of the invention, and after securing the patent rights, he at once proceeded to develop the machine. It was placed in the harvest field, and proved a success. The marked advantage of the spiral conveyor, was specially manifest in “ rescue work.” In dealing with lodged, i.e., storm-laid crop, where tangled masses of ears and straw were flattened to the earth, this new machine achieved what seemed impossible. If they were not so fully attested, its performances would be incredible. Unseasonable storms visited the fertile wheat areas of New South Wales and South Australia. Coming just about harvest time, the rain and wind laid flat the heavy crop in many hundreds of fields. The grain appeared to be lost beyond any chance of recovery; in fact, in some cases, insurance was paid on the crops. The grain was retrieved, however, with little waste, if any. This new machine, equipped with a crop-lifting attachment designed and made : in the Sunshine works, was found equal to the task, and yields of 12 to 15 bags per acre were safely garnered in cases where the owners had given up hope of reaping even a bushel. It was in connexion with these disastrous storms that the New South Wales Minister for Agriculture, Mr. Dunn, was moved to make the doleful statement during last harvest season that 5,000,000 bushels of wheat had been lost. But for the work of the new machine this might have been verified, but wherever this machine was used it rescued the fallen grain, and the actual loss probably did not amount to 1,000,000 bushels.
– It was worse than that in 1915-16.
– I am speaking of last year, and am endeavouring to impress upon the Committee that if it had not been for the development of these machines with the crop-lifting attachment, which was designed in Australia, millions of bushels of wheat would have been lost to the primary producer.
– All that was done under the 1914 Tariff.
– If all that the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) . has claimed concerning the charges which these duties represent to the primary producer were true - I do not believe it is - the development of that machine and what it accomplished last year in Australia alone would have saved the primary producer the cost over and over again.
I pass on . from that point to deal with another matter which the honorable member for Dampier has already referred to on many occasions. Here, again, he says we are imposing a crushing burden upon the primary producer.
– Can the Minister show the necessity of giving the industry further protection?
– I am endeavouring to show that, if the whole of this duty were passed on, it would not be a crushing burden on the primary producer. During the last five years, 6,200 stripperharvesters, header-harvesters, and reaperthreshers were imported into Australia.
– The Minister knows that I was not dealing with all agricultural machinery.
– I am dealing with the particular item before the Committee. Although the discussion has wandered over a wide field, surely I am. entitled, under the rules of debate, to confine my remarks to this item !
– I dealt with the others on Friday.
– I admit that the honorable member was perfectly in order, because under the arrangement arrived at honorable members were allowed to cover the whole. During the last five years 6,200 machines were imported into Australia on which duty amounting to £87,177 was paid. During the same fiveyear period, the production of wheat in the Commonwealth was 567,611,036 bushels. Dividing the bushels into the amount of duty, we obtain a result of 0369d. per bushel.
– It was one-seventh of a penny some hours ago.
– I am giving the actual figures. Those which were quoted by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Mathews), who cited the fraction just mentioned, covered the whole field of ; agricultural ..machinery, iWhile-abthe same time covering- onlyjjthe production of . whea.tjlibarley^and ; oats. IThere are” many ^agricultural ^products, ihowever, which he did -not include. : Had he done so, the actual charge per- bushel would-jhaye been shown, to , be very . materially less. The burden, if . the i whole of the duty were, passed , on and -the farmer were charged for -every machine the . full i extent of ; this additional duty, would ihave jbeen-rras I have -just- men*ioned.0369d. per bushel. iThat means ithat “for every 27 bushels i of wheat harvested in- -the ‘ Commonwealth, the duty would represent1d. , The honorable member for Wimmera has said that, on his opinion,- we ishpuld cencourage Australian industries. I ask him, as°. a ; farmer, if he -begrudges, -thet payment of 1d. for every. 27 bushels, of . wheat, by way of encouragement to ; Australian’ industry and as a reward for Australian brains.
– i-The Minister . knows Ahat it means, more than that.
-One penny ineyery 27 bushels is the price the farmer is, -asked to pay for the encouragement of . Australian industry and the payment for the employment of Australian brains, which lave given him back, many hundredfold, whatever they have taken’ from him.
– It has been truly said that figures can be made to prove anything.
– I would have . liked “the- honorable member to endeavour to establish the contention that the duty is passed, on to. the full, extent. He stated, not once, but oyer and over again, that for every £1 put on to the, duty there was involved an additional, £1 in. -cost . to the farmer. ‘ I,- do not believe that, and for quite a number, of reasons. I shall ce able to demonstrate in a moment that it is not so ; but I would like, first, to refer to one contention which the honorable member foT Dampier put forward. That was, that, if one had a limited quantity of goods to sell - which was the case in New Zealand - then, because of that, one would have: to charge a little more -in order to cover1 the selling -cost. -‘The honorable member stressed that as fui-nishing part of the excuse -or reason proffered -by the American - companies why ‘-their ‘machinery, in New Zealand, cost a little more thaninAustralia.
– No, I did, not i admit that. ^
– Then, the . honorable member did,say that when there was . only a small area there were greater. overhead charges. That is equally true in- regard to the processesof manufacture. If. a manufacturerhasa comparatively small output with a . certain overhead charge, that is necessarily reflected to a greater extent in the final price. of the product than if the manufacturer has a larger output with the same overhead charges. That . is- one of ‘the . reasons why a.Protective policy is necessary. The object of a Protective policy is to endeavour to create . such a, market; im ‘the . country of production that manufacturers . will be ableisovto.-develop-ttheir processes, and so i increase ithe.. output of their : factories, ithat,. as. a natural; result of the operation of the Protective policy, ; they will be able to . produce - at a lower- rate by reason of ithe . greater mass production. That point . is self-evident. : So -far from addi tional duty, . which; throws into the hands of >‘the local manufacturer additional trade, . necessarily tending- 4q ‘increase the cost i of- goods “ito’^he ^consumers in-‘the country . of their -production,- the effect should), be ‘the opposite.
As , to whether ‘ these -increased duties are . passed on, ‘ I -was rather - in terested in . ‘ ithe tofig.ures’ which “the honorablejmember -for; Dampier quoted. With-irespect to ‘ New Zealand *- prices torday, alb I can . say is that I . ‘endeavoured, as recently, as three weeks ago, to ascertain what they were.Owing- to the- fact that -apparently theCompanies, which have rather suffered by the comparison of New Zealand priceswith our own, seem tobe keeping their price-lists very secret, and owing to our being unable to get hold of copies, I have had some difficulty in making the comparisons, which I sought.
– Had the Minister any difficulty in obtaining the prices of the local manufacturers, which would be a very faircriterion?
– I tried toobtain, for the purposesof comparison . with the prices ruling in’ Australia, the quotations of those companies for the same machineryinNewZealand. And,as recentlyasthreeweeksback, I wasunable to ascertain that therewas any material difference. I imagine that the sources which the honorable member for Dampier acknowledged were the same as those from which the *Argus got information some time ago, to which I replied in the columns of that newspaper. To my communication the Argus had no other reply than to simply say that I was a “bumptious individual.” There has never been any answer to the reply which I sent to the Argus on that occasion. Why? They could not answer it, because the information given to the Argus from that particular source, directly or indirectly, was false information. It was information which it was perfectly easy for me, with the resources at my disposal, to show was false. I do not know whether the prices, as stated by the honorable member for Dampier, are accurate or not, but there is certainly no question at all as to the prices in Australia and in New Zealand at the time the Tariff was tabled. We had the prices then in our hands, and could compare them. There was no question then as to the position. As I have already stated, I have here a list of eighty different items, and in every case at that time the New Zealand price was higher than the Australian price. In some cases it was very much higher; in some cases it was only a few shillings higher; but in no case was it lower than the Australian price. In connexion with every one of these items, there was no duty on the article in New Zealand. There was a duty imposed on every one of them in Australia. It varied. In some cases it was 5 per cent. I speak of reapers, binders, and mowers. Oh hay rakes it was 10 per cent., on grain fertilizer drills it was 30 per cent., on spring tooth cultivators it was 25 per cent., on maize cultivators 25 per cent., on maize drills 30 per cent., on disc harrows, diamond harrows, spring tooth harrows, and on various kinds of ploughs, including gang ploughs, four-furrow ploughs, disc ploughs, and so on, there was a duty in Australia of 25 per cent. I do not propose to read the whole of this list of items to the Committee, as it is a very long one, but I shall quote a few of them to show that there is no question as to what the prices were at the time this Tariff was tabled.
– I suppose these prices are different from others that have been quoted this afternoon.
– I cannot say whether that is so or not. At the time the Tariff was tabled, I got out this list of items, and in the case of every one of them the price in New Zealand was higher than the price in Australia notwithstanding the fact that there was a duty on the article here. For reapers and binders, 5 feet, the cash price in New Zealand was £76, and the price in Australia was £75 10s., with a duty of 5 per cent, on the article. Reaper and binder, 6 feet, £77 15s. cash price in New Zealand, Customs duty in Australia 5 per cent., price in Australia £77 10s. Reaper and binder, 8 feet, £92 10s. cash price in New Zealand, duty in Australia 5 per cent., and price in Australia £92. Mower, 3$ feet, one horse, £25 7s. 6d. New Zealand cash price, Australian duty 5 per cent., Australian price £24 15s. Mower,. 44 feet, £29 5s. cash price in New Zealand, Australian duty 5 per cent., price in Australia £28 10s.
– Prices in New Zealand to-day are much higher than those the honorable gentleman is quoting.
– I think I must have made it quite clear that I am quoting the prices at the time, the Tariff was tabled. I have not made these comparisons since that time. For a grain fertilizer drill, 9-hoe, the New Zealand cash price was £52 17s. 6d., the Australian duty was 30 per cent., and the Australian price £46. Grain fertilizer drill, 11-hoe, £58, New Zealand cash price, Australian duty 30* per cent., Australian price £49 12s. 6d. Grain fertilizer drill, 13-hoe, £61 17s. 6cL cash price New Zealand, Australian duty 30 per cent., Australian price £53 5s. Then there were disc drills, which show practically similar results. If the contention of the honorable member for Dampier that the duty is passed on were right, what would have been the prices of these implements in Australia?
– If the contention of the Minister is right, why should we keep them out when they are dearer elsewhere?
– My contention has been that if by maintaining the duty the Australian manufacturer can turn out the article in such quantities that he can stand up against these big outside combines, we should maintain the duty.
– But the honorable gentleman’s figures show that the Aus- tralian manufacturer is doing that without the proposed increased duty.
– Is it not patent to the honorable member that if we had had no manufacture of these implements in Australia we should have been paying just as much, if not more, for them than New Zealanders have been paying? The honorable member for Dampier probably provided me with the best possible argument to show that the duty is not passed on. He said that the reason why, during this particular period, the foreign firms were able to sell their machines cheaper in Australia than in New Zealand; was that they had stocks in this country which they had brought in at lower prices. Consequently they were able to sell them at a lower price here. But was the price of the Australian manufacturer any higher upon that account ? He was manufacturing at the same time as these machines were being imported into New Zealand, and yet he was able to compel foreign manufacturers to accept a lower price for their machines. If I wanted an argument to show that the duty is not passed on to the consumer, I cannot conceive of a better example than that with which the honorable member has supplied me.
– The Minister knows very well that the imported machines have been selling at a higher price than have machines of local manufacture.
– If the local manufacturer is able to sell at less than the price charged for imported machines, it is perfectly manifest that he cannot be taking advantage of the whole of the duty.
– The Government are forcing up the price of the machines without showing any necessity for their action.
– Why are we forcing up the price?
– By means of an extra duty.
– It is of no use pursuing that line of argument with the honorable member. I have clearly demonstrated that the duty is not passed on to the consumer. Everybody admits that the price of these machines has advanced materially, but everybody knows that there are good and sufficient reasons why that advance has taken place.. As a matter of fact, the prices of all materials which are used by the local manufacturer have increased in some instances by 100, 150, and even 200 per cent.
There is one matter which was mentioned by the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney) to which I wish to refer. Without exception, so far as I know, machines which have not been manufactured in Australia are proportionately dearer today than are machines of local manufacture. Can the honorable member for Dampier explain why that is so?
– There is nobody in this corner who argues that we should not manufacture the machines here.
– It is very easy for the honorable member to say that. I do not know what is the manufacturing .price of the biggest reaper thresher.
– I do not know what is the manufacturer’s price, but the retail price is about £240.
– Taking the price at £240, what duty does the honorable member suggest?
– Fourteen pounds.
– That would represent a duty of about 6 per cent. That is the rate which the honorable member suggests should be imposed with a view to encouraging the manufacture of agricultural machinery in this country. I think that the honorable member must stand amazed at his own modesty. Why does he not suggest the imposition of a duty of either 1 or 2 per cent. ? Either would be equally effective as a small revenue duty. If such a duty were levied, we should probably only succeed in enabling the foreign manufacturer to further dump his products into this country for the purpose of crushing the local industry, and afterwards of charging the Australian farmer just what price he pleased.
– A 40 per cent, duty is a pretty stiff one.
– It is. But we have to remember that the manufacture of reaper threshers is comparatively a new industry. This machine was invented by Australian brains, and what has been done to improve it outside of Australia is the result of copying what had .been done in this country. I believe that it is advisable for us to secure the industry for the Commonwealth. The duties which we propose are, in the circumstances, those which are required, and their imposition will result in these machines being actually made pcheaper . - to ; the. ^consumers: than would otherwise, bet. the case.
– The. Minister rhas-. giyen us the, prices of the machines in, New. Zealand.. Will he, also tell , us the, prices which the Canadian farmers have to. pay for, them ?
– If we give the Australian manufacturer an opportunity to develop the industry to the fullest . extent,, he will have an- infinitely better chance of approaching the Canadian . prices than he will- have under existing conditions. I cannot agree to . the amendment, the adoption of which would probably result in the . wiping out of the local industry.
Question - That the words , proposed to be inserted (Mr.. Gregory’s amendment) be so inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 17
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I do not consider that a duty of 40 per cent., under the general Tariff is sufficiently high,, and, therefore,- without further ado, I move- r-
That the. following words be added: - “And on and . after, 15 th June, 1921; general, 45 per cent.”
I hope that the. Minister. will” agree to this proposal to increasa . the. duty by 5 per. cent.
– I had intended. tot.move to, . re-: auoe the proposed duty by 5 per. cent.,, but the, honorable -member (Mr. Fenton). succeeded in getting . the call of the Chairbefore me. His demand for an increased) duty -is extortionate and without reason. I did not support my honorable friends of -the Country party in -the division justtaken because I considered they-were -just as ‘unreasonable in their desire - to make the- protection altogether too low.. I told the i honorable, member . for Dampier (Mr.Gregory) that, I”. would support. him in* moving for . a . reduction, of. the. duty if hewould . agree. to a, reasonable -measure i.o£ protection fori; the. industry. I.had i intended . to speak at. length . on. this- ques-r. tion,.but. the Minister (Mr. Greene) ha* forestalled me by-idealing with many matters i on which I . proposed, to touch. . I believe jn-. a- fairly generous protection in respect, of this, litem for ‘many . of,the reasons, which -have been stated, by ^the. Minister. I would remind the honorable member for., Dampier and the honorable: member for Wimmera (Mr. fgtewart),. who. say that the protection under tneol.d Tariff was, sufficient, that the materials employed in> the manufacture of these machines have been; and are today, costing from 150 per cent. to 200 per cent. more than was - the . cost when the previous Tariff was passed.
– And the price of the materials has increased also overseas.
– It has gone down lately overseas, but there has been no decrease in the cost here. I believe that the price of the machines now under review will fall” considerably, although I do not think it will go down to the pre-war level. I would emphasise what the Minister has said by pointing: out that if there is a country where agriculture owes almost everything to the inventors and manufacturers- of agricultural: implements and machinery, it is Aus-‘ tralia. It lis only., in - respect . of about, half-a-dozen - implements altogether that we need worry as to whether or not there is a Tariff, i The Australian primary producer has the most effective implements and. machinery in the world-‘ I believe, nevertheless, that -less . - protection than that provided for in <- the -schedule as it stands would . represent a.-, very- generous treatment, of the* manufacturers. I know the . value of the . machine, that, is- under- review. ‘The ‘ price ‘‘asked for ‘it is undoubtedly big, but the1 machine itself has been a godsend’ to the’ farmer. ‘I have seen’ that . machine take off 30 bushels of wheat to the acre - wheat that would be worth from 7s. to 7s. 6d. per bushelfrom crops which could not be -touched by any other machine. ‘It is not essential for general purposes. . It is essential for crops that are “down” as the result of a storm and which would be irrecoverable by any other class of -machinery. In ordinary years it is not necessary to lave such a costly machine, for then an
Tip-to-date harvester is just “as effective and economical.
– The consequence is ifhat the’money invested in the costly machine is lying idlefor four years out of five.
-And yet it is a godsend to the farmers, though one machine would be sufficient to meet the requirements of four orfive men who are in a smaller way. If, however, every farmer had to possess one, it would ‘still be a godsend to them. If I have anopportunity, insteadof supporting -a5per cent. increase, I shall move a decrease of 5 per cent.
-I cannot agree tothe increase as moved.
Amendment (by Mr. Richard Foster) negatived -
That the following words be ‘inserted’ after sub-item (a) : - “And on and after 15th June, 1921, ad val., British, 20 per cent.; intermediate, 30 per cent.; -general, 35 per cent.”
Item agreed to.
Item 166 (Strippers) agreed to.
Metal parts of reaper threshers, stripperharvesters,strippers, and harvesters, n.e.i./per lb., British,1¾d.; intermediate, 2¼d. ; general, 2id.
.- I intend to move that these duties be ad valorem 10, 12½, and 15 per’ cent.
If the Minister (Mr. Greene) will iiot accept ‘this amendment, it -is, of course, ii’o use my “‘.beating the “air,” but it is a most wicked proceeding, In “connexion with any Tariff, to seek ‘to impose “such ‘heavy duties on the parts required ‘for ‘the repair ‘of ‘"”the ma’cHiries.
I am informed that there is’one’rirm in this city that has £300,000 Worth of sucSh parts in stock, and if the proposed heavy duties are imposed it will mean heavy charges when any little repairs are required.
Mr.Fleming. - ‘The proposed duties will render many of the machines quite useless.
– Quite so.
– Would ‘the honorable member consent tothe sameadvalorem duties as on the machines?
– And make the duties 25, 35, and 40 per cent. ?
– There has always been this arrangement in the Tariff. We have raised the general rate, but the British rate remains exactly the same as since 1908.
– In my opinion, a duty of 35 per cent. on parts would be enormous, and involve the users in great expense, owing to thehigh prices which follow on high duties. I hope that the Minister will, at any rate, put the duty , at the old rate.
Amendment (by Mr. Greene) proposed -
That the ‘following words be added: - “And on and after 15th June, 1921, per lb., British, 13d.; intermediate, 2d.; general, 2d.”
.- The Minister (Mr. Greene) has made one or two observations on this and the previous item to which I ‘should like to briefly reply. The rather sneering charge has been made that a section of the primary ‘ producers are advocating Protection for themselves, with Free Trade for the rest of the community. My. reply to that frequent accusation is that the producers have, “as it were, had Protection forced down their throats, and they insist that if certain sectidns of the community are to have “protective duties, they themselves may as well have “a cut.” The inference of such remarks as those of the Minister is that we are reaching out for protective duties, whilst seeking to prevent others having what we desire ourselves. This I emphatically deny.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, asamended, agreed to.
Item 168 (Machinery, viz. . . . sewing machines, &c.).
.- Sewing machines are now being made in this country, and I should like to know whether the Minister (Mr. Greene) is in earnest in submitting the proposed duties.
.- As I explained before, this is one of the deferred duties, depending on whether the industry is established. However, I have no objection, if the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) would prefer to alter the date from 1922 to 1923, though this duty will not be imposed unless the industry is definitely established to such an extent as to reasonably be able to supply Australian requirements.
– I have no intention of moving an amendment.
– I only wish to make it quite clear that this is a deferred duty, placed in the Tariff as the definite promise of Parliament to anybody who establishes the industry; it means nothing more.
.- I am pleased to be able to point out that the big newspaper will be able to get its monoline or linotype in free of duty, while the poor widow will have to pay a duty of £3 on her sewing machine.
– I intended to rise before the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) spoke, and it was that “poor widow woman” that I wished to speak of. There have been no profiteers like the exploiters of sewing machines in Australia in the last few years. The metalwork in the very best sewing machine, with all the inflated prices due to the war, is worth about £5, but with a little cabmetmaking thrown in they charge from £17 to £20 for it. If, thirty-five years ago, a duty had been placed on sewing machines in Victoria to encourage their local manufacture, as was then proposed, we should have been getting them for £10 or £12 each. As it is, they have this market on their own, and have exploited the people of Australia. We have had the values of these machines explained to us time after time by thoseassociated with their manufacture, and we know that what I am saying is a fact. In those days it was not the “ poor widow woman,” but the poor seamstress that was pleaded for. The Free Traders pictured in harrowing terms the position of the poor seamstress in Australia, who had to work from the first thing in the morning till the last thing at night by candlelight, and the injustice of taxing the sewing machine by which she earned her living.
– And now we are taxing her candle, too.
– I am pleased tosee this duty included in the schedule, but £2 10s. is not enough, though it is a start. I am sure that the manufacture of sewing machines would be undertaken properly in Australia if a decent opportunity were offered. As in the case of the wheelbarrow, there is nothing much ingenious’ about the machine. The metalwork is all cast, and there are no great engineering difficulties associated with it. There is nothing in it but what can be made in Australia. If we cannot get new patents we should compel Singers and Wertheims to come here and manufacture their machines locally, instead of bringing them out in pieces and assembling: them here. I believe that hundreds of thousands of pounds might have been saved to Australia long ago and another industry established, by means of a duty on this item.
Item agreed to.
Item 169 (Machinery, viz:, linotype, machines, &c).
.- Under the Tariff as it stands, cash registers are dutiable. I propose to bring them under this item.
– Are you going to take the tax off?
– Why cannot we get a little revenue from them?
– We shall get some revenue. So far as I can learn, there is no possibility of the machines being made in Australia. I am therefore proposing a preferential rate in favour of Great Britain, which becomes a revenue duty when the article comes from any other country. I move -
That the item be amended by inserting before the word linotype the letter (a), and by adding the following sub-item: -
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
British, 27½ per cent.; intermediate, 35 per cent.; general, 40 per cent.
.- The articles enumerated in . this item affect mining, which is one of those industries that have done a great deal towards the development of every other occupation in Australia. Every duty put on the machinery used in that industry means practically an impost on the industry itself. During the past five years it has had many imposts put upon it. Not only will it have to stand any increases in the Tariff, hut it has had to bear, in almost every instance, the extra cost imposed upon it by the conditions existing now as comparedwith the prewar period. There is not an article used in mining which has not shown a rise in price to the extent of at least 25 per cent. since 1914, whilst in some cases the price has increased ten or twelvefold. Mining, at present, needs the greatest protection that Australia can give it.
– Have you not found that the duties decrease the price?
– No. All the articles covered by sub-items a tof have increased in price. The duties on them have been raised, and that increase must be passed on, first of all, to the mineowner, then through the mine-owner to the workman in the mine, and then through him to the industry. I shall not say, as the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Mathews) does, that I do not care a jot for the manufacturer or the mine-owner. I do care for the mine-owner, and I care also for the men working in the mines and for the mining industry itself. If there were no men to put capital into mines, we should have no mining industry, and there would be no scope for miners to work. No man in that industry, whether employer or employee, begrudges any one doing well, because a man working in the mines today might be a mine-owner to-morrow. I represent one portion of the mining industry, where the best possible conditions have been created by co-operation between employer and employed. The conditions were not changed until some one altogether outside the mining industry took action.
– I saw some pretty bad conditions over in Kalgoorlie.
– The honorable member, I believe, was going to give every one in Kalgoorlie a brick house to live in, but the houses they have at present suit them much better. No doubt the honorable member thinks that, because he was over there during an election campaign, he knows all about Kalgoorlie, though I suppose he did not go outside the main street. I speak from a life-long connexion with the mining industry in Kalgoorlie. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Mathews) has expressed his indifference as to its future, but I can assure him that if this impost is placed upon the industry, it cannot be carried on much longer. Notwithstanding what the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) has said, there are, on the Kalgoorlie gold-fields, men, who intend to remain there as long as there is gold to be won.
– But they would sooner have brick houses to live in than their present homes.
– The honorable member must not suggest that I want to see them living in “ shacks.”
– No; but you said they were satisfied to live in their present “ shacks.”
– I said no such thing. I do not admit that they are living in “ shacks.” I have voted for a protective duty in respect of many items in the schedule, believing that it is possible by this means to build up manufacturing industries in this country.
– Then will’you vote for all’ such items?
– I have done so oh every occ’asion, and I defy the honorable member for Maribyrnong to prove otherwise.
– I shall keep you to your word.
– I am prepared to ‘ give sympathetic consideration to every re1 quest for a protective duty in’ respect of any industry that can be profitably established in Australia, but I want the Committee to know that those connected with the mining industry in Western’ Australia’ can obtain material ‘ more” cheaply rf ronv Great Britain than from the eastern’’ States.
Mr.Riley.- You can also import cheap labour.
– The labourites of. Western Australia have never’ undercut ‘ the”’ Australian miner’s wages. I want the Committee’ to realize that all ‘ the’ work in the Western Australiain mines” is’ d^ne by machinery; “which has made’ it impossible for the miners there to break ore at a lower cost than by black’’ labour in South Africa, so there should be’ every inducement ‘to give relief to the industry- by encouraging” the use’ of the” most scientific’ appliances. Some’ of the mining1 companies of my State have scrapped plant costing £150,000 in order to install the most up-to-date mining machinery so that’ the mines may reach”’ their’ highest “point of proficiency in regard to production. Rock drills are essential, and, therefore; should be put in the sam e category as cbalcutting machines, which are on the free list. .
– They are listed at 27½ per cent., 35 per cent., and 40 per cent.
– If the honorable member for Hunter will make inquiries he will find that it is intended to “ place coal-cutting machines on the free list, and I want the same to be done in regard to machinery for metalliferous mines. It has been suggested that this machinery is being made in Australia, but I defy any honorable, member tq prove that rotary drills are being manufactured in this country.
– Give the’ manufacturers an order, and’ they ‘will make’ tiiem.
Mr.FOLEY.-Thehonorable member should speak of something he knows.
– So far’ as I know, thdsev drills are not being made in’ Australia. “
-The- rotary? and’ percussive’ r6’c”k drills; Lft1 regard’ to’whi’ch I desire the duty removed, are not being: manufactured’ here. Another’ class of rock-boring machine covered by this items is being made in Australia ‘by the Goldfields Diamond’ Drilling Company, Melbourne; Hector Henderson Limited, Brisbane; James Steel Engineering CompanyLimited, MarrickVille; Overall McCray Limited, Rozelle, New South’ Wales j Sputhern Cross Windmill Company Limited, St. Peters, New South. Wales £ and the Toowoomba Foundry Company’ Li&¥fea ; and’-I ; afii” npt askingSfor any reduction’ in regard to’ them; but thosefirms are not manufacturing rotary and percussive rock drills.
– That is so.
– In the general debate on the Tariff, I mentioned ‘ that these rock ‘ drills were being’ made in Aus’tralia’ at ‘one time, and ‘they were excellent f6rr certain work, but the makers had not enterprise or initiative enough to producea drill up to the standard required by the miners. If the Minister (Mr. Greene) will assure’ me that he inten’cls ‘ to give some redress in this” respect, I shall’ not discuss thematter further.
.- I ask the Minister (Mr. Greene) to “consider well before he agrees to reduce’ any of the duties in respect to this item. WalkersLimited, of Maryborough, . Queensland, are one of the most enterprising firms in Australia, and the mere fact. that certain machinery mentioned in item 170 is not being made in Western ‘Australia ‘is no reason why protection should be removed from those people who are making them in Queensland. In a letter to me, Walkers ‘Lilnit&l say -
As you” kiiciw, we have, just . laid, down a large “ steam-hammer, furnace’, &c.’, costing ; usthousands of pounds for the manufacture ‘ of forging mill roller shafts and other heavyforgi’ngs.
They point out that this schedule represents an increase of only7½ and 10 per cent. upon the duties of 1914, and they suggest the increase of’ another 7½ per cent; They say- i
Ijij.this connexion I desire to , draw i your.. ^at-“ tehtion to the ‘fact ijhat large American, Canadian,’ aiia. British Arms and’ combines ‘are cir’cularizingfAustralia”afid’ appointing’” agent’s ‘alf over the Statein-.connexion with theproduction of sugar machineryforgings, locomotives, and. mining machinery. Firms like ours shouldbe protected against this propaganda. We’ received a circular from Messrs. Armstrong, Whitworth, and Company quoting for sugar-mill rollers.
There is no doubt that an attempt is being made by overseas manufacturers to dump in Australia some of the machinery that can be,and is being, made by Walkers Limited.
Mr.Fenton. - Does that letter refer to rock drills ?
– The encouragement given by this. Tariff has induced the firm to make considerable alterations and additions to its plant during the last twelve months, and- when the two ships now being constructed in their yards are completed they intend to occupy the spaoe that will bo vacated for themanufacture of other articlesprotected by this schedule. I ask the Minister to make full inquiry as to whether rock drills are being manufactured before he accedes to the request to decrease the duty.
.- We do not propose to interf ere with the duties upon the articles to which the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr.Corser) has referred. But we have made most careful inquiry since the Tariff was framed to ascertain whether rotary and . percussive rock drills and coal-cutting machines are being, or are likely to be, made in Australia. I have decided to ask the Committee to agree to an amendment of subitemseandf, but notto interfere with the other duties; There is no object in imposing a duty on a big industry when there is. no compensation gained by the establishmentof another industry.
– We get a little additional revenue.
– Certainly, the duties do produce a little revenue. Duties have beenimposed on those rotary and percussive rock drills since 1914, and on rockboring machines since 1908.
– The latter duty dates back further than that.
– And the industry has never been established.
– Rotary and percussive rook drills were free under the 1908 Tariff.
-But they have been dutiable since 1914, and I seeno probability of their being manufactured in this country. The Bendigo Amalgamated Gold Mines makedrills for their own. use, but otherwise none are produced in Australia. I therefore move-
That sub-item (e) be amendedby adding the following words: - “And on and after 15th June, 1921, ad val., British, free; intermediate, 5 per cent.; general, 10 per cent.”
.- The Minister (Mr. Greene) ought to have taken honorable members more fully into his confidence. The impression is conveyed that the duties contained in this schedule are paid by importers of machinery, but, as a matter of fact, a little while ago coal-cutting machines were placed by the Minister on the free list so far as the British preferential Tariff was concerned, and a 10 per cent. duty, imposed for the general Tariff. When we come to item 174 (Machine tools and. appliances asprescribed by departmental by-laws), I shall ask the Committee whether the Minister isto be given the power to place any item on thef ree listat his ownsweet will. He recently regarded a tram rail as an appliance, which shows how elastic his conscience is in regard to such a matter. Theman who is anxious to bore for oil or to prospect for gold in the . interior is called upon topay from 271 to 40 per cent. duty on the machinery he requires, whereas a coal-cutting machine, employed in one of the most stable and profitable industries in Australia, ispermitted to come in free or on paymentof a 10per cent. duty under the general Tariff.. It would be extraordinary for honorable members to uphold such a policy whereby, the man who invests £10,000 ina copper mine, with the prospect df, perhaps, getting no return for his money, is to be obliged to pay from 27½ to 40 per cent. duty on the machinery he imports-: -
– If the mining machinery required by such a man is not made in Australia, the. matter is reviewed by myself, and in nearly every case that class of machinery comes in free of duty.
– But that is the anomaly of the position. Honorable members of this Committee should realize their responsibility in this regard, and fix the Tariff rates; that duty should not be left to the Minister. The man who invests his money in the stable and profitable industry of coal mining is permitted to import his machinery free of duty, or on the payment of 10 per cent. duty under the general Tariff, whereas the man who invests his capital in a speculative venture, such as. copper mining or in boring for oil, is called upon to pay up to 40 per cent. duty.
Amendment agreed to.
Sub-itemf similarly amended.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Motion (by Sir Joseph Cook) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- Some time ago an embargo was placed on the export of metal, which had a serious effect upon the metal industry of Australia. After a lot of difficulty, we had the embargo removed, and I understood that there would be no further trouble. A little while ago, However, I received a letter from Western Australia about which I asked the Minister (Mr. Greene) a question, and instead of answering it forthwith, he asked me to give notice of it: I now enter my protest against an outside authority like the Australian Metal Exchange being given administrative control of the export of metals from this country. I do not know what powers this organization has been endowed with, but I draw the attention. of the Minister to the following complaint contained in a letter received by me from Messrs. Paterson& Company Limited, of Perth. They say -
Some time ago we understood that metals, especially lead, could be snipped without a permit. . . . Last week we received an order for 2 tons from Java, and there was a boat going out the following day, but before we were able to ship we were asked for our permit, as the authorities had no advice of it being allowed to be exported. This meant that we lost the opportunity of shipping.
Apparently they had not made application to the Australian Metal Exchange for a permit. I do not know under what authority the Minister insists - if he does insist - that any persons exporting metals from this country must obtain a permit and give full particulars in regard to the sale and the place of export. It is an extraordinary thing that exporters should have to give thissmall organization in Melbourne full information about the disposal of their products. I wish to know from the Minister if it is necessary, when metals are being sent out of the country, that full information about the transaction shall be givento the Australian Metal Exchange, anda permit obtained from that body. If so, by what authority doesthe Minister allow this organization to control exportation?
.- The honorable member mentioned this matter to ma some days ago, and I must plead guilty to having forgotten it, having been much engaged with other business. Therefore, I hare not had an opportunity to look into the facts. The position in regard to the exportation of metals is not exactly what the honorable member represented it to be. It is common knowledge that at the outbreak of the war Australia, in common with the rest of the world, was in the hands of a great German Combine so far as her base metal industry was concerned. Steps were taken to break down that Combine, and to deal with the difficulties which its existence had created. Now, although there is free exportation of metals, we are keeping a register - and shall do so for some time - of the movements of bur metals, so that we may know where they go, and what becomes of them. There is a possibility of other combinations being formed, and of our base metal industry again passing into: foreign hands.
– Cannot what is necessary be done by’ your Department without requiring all the particulars of sale?
– The honorable member has suggested that it is the Australian Metal Exchange that grants permits for exportation, but that is not so. These permits are granted only by the Department over which I preside. They are granted on the condition that the exporters register the channel through which the metals are to pass out of Australia. So far as I know, we do not ask for particulars as to the price at which metals are sold, but we insist on knowing their destination. That is all the information that is required.As the Australian Metal Exchange was in existence, the Government thought that it would save expense in getting it to keep this registration instead of doing it ourselves. If the honorable member desires, I shall look into the matter further, and see whether, without great additional expense, the whole business can be kept in the hands of the Government.
– I think that the fullest particulars are required of exporters.
Mr.Foley. -Yes. The conditions of
Bale and the price.
– I think that all that we want to know is the actual destination of the metals, but I shall ascertain what particulars are actually asked for. I know what it is that we wish to do, and if anything unnecessary is done to secure that object, I am prepared - and I think I oan speak for the Acting Prime Minister in this matter-
– To dispense with the giving of particulars which it may be deemed objectionable to require. The Government have only one object in view, and that is to serve the interest of the country by securing its safety.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.58 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 14 June 1921, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1921/19210614_reps_8_95/>.