8th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Hon. J. M. Chanter) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the Minister for Home and Territories whether he will he able to inform us before the session closes what is the population of each State, members generally being anxious for the information, because of the probable redistribution of seats?
– I hope to have the figures to-day.
– Some time ago the Minister representing the Minister for Re patriation said that it was his intention to meet in conference representatives of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers’ League, the Fathers’ Association, and other bodies, to discuss matters affecting the welfare of soldiers, and that he would bring with him the Prime Minister. Is the Minister now in a position to state when that conference is likely to be held?
– I promised to have with the organizations mentioned a round-table talk on subjects affecting the general welfare of the soldier, and that the Prime Minister would be present; but I was unable to obtain a fitting opportunity, and as the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen) was on the eve of returning to Australia, I let the matter await his return. It is now one for him to deal with, I shall see my honorable colleague, and let the honorable member have an early answer to his question.
– A great deal of fencing is being done by pastoralists in Western Australia with 14-gauge wire, and I have just received from that State a telegram in which these words occur-
Amended duty on fourteen and lighter gauge wires will impose serious restrictions on fourteen-gauge high; tensile steal wire of which fair quantityused for fencing as duty will be increased from four pounds ten to about eighteen pounds a ton.
I do not think that it will amount to as much as that; but it will be over £14 per ton. I wish to know whether the Minister proposes to take action, so that 14-gauge fencing wire may be put on the same footing as ordinary fencingwire.
– Will the honorable member give me an opportunity to look into the matter?
– I spoke to the Minister about it last Saturday.
– Yes; but so many personsspeakto me on various subjects that it is difficult to keep every conversation in mind. It is not our intention that fencing wire shall be. included, and if it be necessary, in order to get over the difficulty, to increase the gauge from 14 to 16-gauge, or to take some action of that kind, we shall do it.
Mr.BRENNAN-Ihave heard from a reliable source that His Royal High ness the Prince of Wales has asked the Prime Minister “when his old friend Joe Cook is coming over to be High Commissioner.” Will the Treasurer be good enough to gratify the curiosity in this regard of my old friend the Prince of Wales?
Question not answered.
.- (By leave.)- A fewdays ago, the administration of the Department which pays war gratuities and pensions was discussed, and I had a fewwords to say on thesubject. I have also approached the Acting Prime Minister about several matters, and he has done what he could for me. But there is one case about which I have been in correspondence with the Department for months,during which I have received a letter from Mulvaney, dated the 23rd March, “re 1597 Kent, 21st Battalion,” saying that he was in New Zealand; a letter from Cooley, dated the 31st March, saying that “ 1597 Private Kent, 21st Battalion,’’ had lodged application for gratuity in New Zealand; a letter from Mul- vaney, dated the 4 th April, about “ 1597 Private Kent,21st Battalion”; another letterfrom Mulvanoy, dated the5th May,saying thatthey were still awaiting a reply from” 1597Private Kent” in New Zealand ; another letter, dated the l8thMay, informing me that the delay indealing with the matterwas owing to the fact that “ 1597Kent” had left New Zealand; andanother letter on the23rd May,in which the District Finance Officer wrote that “1597 Kent,2lst Battalion,” had lodgedclaim wi th order to pay agent, Notwithstanding all that correspondence with the Department, when I wrote tothe Acting Prime Minister, protesting against the delay,and saying that a deserted wife was concerned, I was told that the Departmenthadno knowledgeof” 1597 Private Kent.” Ifsomething definite is notdone about this case very soon, I shallmove the adjournment of the House day after day untilI getsatisf action.
-As the honorable member has put the case - and, of course, his is anex parte statement- the last replyhe has received is aridiculous one. I shall havean inquiry made into the case.
– Will the Minister for Trade and Customs lay on the table the correspondence and cables sent to and received from America relating to the pricespaid by farmers in Canada for agriculturalmachinery?
– Yes; any ordinary communications. I do not know that some of thecommunications may not be confidential.
-In view of the fact that the peopleof the Northern Territory holdthe record for voluntaryenlistment and theper-head subscription for the Red Cross Fund, and have no parliamentary representative, will the Acting Prime Minister consider the holding in abeyance of the sentences passed upon residentsoftheTerritory fornonpayment of taxes?
– Icannot say now that these persons will have their sentences remitted; but I have a reply to give to another questionon the same subject. All these matters must await the return of the Minister for. Home and Territories (Mr. Poynton), who has been making an investigationon the spot, and whose genuine Laboursympathies very few who know him will in the least question.
– Hold over the sentences until the Minister returns.
– They will have been served by then.
– If so,the delinquents will have learned the lesson that theyshould stand up to their civicobligations.
-If I werethere, I would be withthem .
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation lay on the table of the Library all papers relating to the suggested removal of military mental patients from the Mont Park Hospital to Kew and sundry other asylums ?
– I shall confer with the Minister, and, if he approves, will have the papers laid on the table of the Library.
– Has the Acting Prime Minister noticed a cablegram stating that the House of Commons is to be given the opportunity of dis -cussing the agenda paper for the Imperial Conference, and, if the right honorable gentleman is aware of the full contents of that paper, will he make them known to honorable members?
– The agenda paper for the Imperial Conference is al- ready a record of this Parliament.
Rates of Interest
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
Representation in Parliament.
Mr. STEWART (for Dr. Earle
Page) asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
When does the Government propose to bring in legislation to secure representation of the Northern Territory in the Federal Parliament?
– The Government has submitted legislation with this end in view, and it was decisively rejected by the Senate. Any further proposals should, I think, await the return of the Minister who has lately investigated the conditions of the Territory.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: - 1 and 2. There is no provision in the Act under which postmasters may assume a power vested in the Chief Officer. If the honorable member will furnish me with details of any cases in which a postmaster is said to have assumed such power, I will have inquiries made.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– I have endeavoured during the greater portion of this morning to ascertain exactly what applications havebeen received in reference to this question, but I can find no trace of any. However, I shall have the matter sifted to the bottom, and when I am in a position to do so shall make a statement to the House concerning it. I shall do this in my own interests, because I find that in Queensland I am being accused of victimizing that State because there happens to be a Labour Government in power there. Of course, this assertion is just about as true as many others which are being thrown about the country with so much recklessness and irresponsibility at the present time.
The following papers were presented : -
Defence Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1921, No. 108.
New Guinea Act - Ordinance of 1921 - No. 6 - Expropriation.
Public Service Act - Appointments of R. S. Browne and G. M. Evans, AttorneyGeneral’s Department.
In Committee of Ways and Means:
Consideration resumed from 14th June (vide page 9044) : 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.
Machinery, machines, and appliances: -
Hay rakes, horse, ad val. British, free; intermediate, 5 per cent.; general, 10 per cent.; and on and after 1st January, 1921, each, British, £1 15s.; intermediate, £2 15s.; general, £3; or ad val., British, 30 per cent.; intermediate, 40 per cent.; general, 45 per cent., whichever rate returns the higher duty.
Reapers and binders, ad val., British, free; intermediate, 5 per cent.; general, 10 per cent.; and on and after 1st January, 1921, each, British, £6 10s.; intermediate, £9 10s.; general, £10; or ad val., British, 30 per cent.; intermediate, 40 per cent.; general, 45 per cent.; whichever rate returns the higher duty,
Mowers, ad val.., British, free; intermediate, 5 per cent.; general, 10 per cent.; and on and after 1st January, 1921, each, British, £2 8s.; intermediate, £3 15s.; general, £4; or ad val., British, 30 per cent.; intermediate, 40 per cent.; general, 45 per cent, whichever ratereturns the higher duty.
Metal parts n.e.i. of hay rakes (horse), reapers and binders, and mowers, ad val., British, free, intermediate, 5 per cent.; general, 10 per cent., and on and after 1st January, 1921, per lb., British, l¾d.; intermediate, 2¼d.; general, 2¼; or ad val., British, 30 per cent.; intermediate, 40 per cent.; general, 45 per cent., whichever rate returns the higher duty.
Metal parts of hay rakes (horse), reapears and binders, and mowers, viz.: - Knife sections, and ledger plates, ad val., British, free; intermediate, 5 per cent.,; general, 10 per cent.
.- No doubt the Minister (Mr. Greene) will agree to reduce the duty on metal parts of reapers, binders, mowers, and rakes, as he did in connexion with a preceding item.
– Yes, I shall do so.
– In regard to the duty on reapers and binders, I want the Government to strike out the ad valorem rates. Increased duties having been placed on steel, I naturally assume that the Minister would insist on having a higher fixed duty upon reapers and binders if the ad valorem rates were struck out. In this schedule there is a fixed duty on reapers and binders of £6 10s. British, £9 10s. intermediate, and £10 general, or an ad valorem duty of 30 per cent. British, 40 per cent, intermediate, and 45 per cent, general, and the importer of the machine pays whichever rate returns the higher duty. My wisest course is to ask for a reduction of the ad valorem duty on the first sub-item, although I quite recognise that without the Minister’s concurrence I have no chance of securing any reduction; but I want to impress honorable members with the fact that the imposition of a 45 per cent, duty against Canada, where most of these machines are made, will mean placing a big handicap upon the purchasers of them, because in common with other machinery the cost of these implements has risen enormously, not only in Australia, but in every other part of the world. Therefore, I hope the Minister will see his way clear to make some reduction. Prior to the 1908 Tariff reapers and binders were on the free list. In the 1908 Tariff there was a provision making them dutiable in certain circumstances, but it did not become operative. Under the 1914 war Tariff reapers and binders -were made dutiable at 5 per cent, under the general division, and under the 1920 Tariff the duty was 10 per cent, until the 31st December, 1920. The duties on this class of machinery under the general Tariff were fixed to operate after the 1st January, 1921, as follows: - Hay rakes, £3, or 45 per cent.; reapers and binders, £10, or 45 per cent. ; mowers, £4, or 45 per cent., whichever rate returned the higher duty, which, undoubtedly, owing to the high cost of this machinery, the ad valorem rate would do. These higher rates were enforced on reapers and binders, but in respect to rakes and mowers they were suspended until the 1st July of this year under a regulation framed by the Minister.
I have already referred to the natural protection afforded to locally produced machines. The figures given by me on a previous occasion included the cost of assembling, and in those I intend quoting there will need to be deducted from the natural protection an amount on that account. The natural protection on a 6-ft. binder in 1914 was 30 per cent., but owing to increased freights it is now 61 per cent. The figures in respect to a 4-ft. mower are 39 per cent, in 1914 and 61 per cent, to-day, and on a 9-ft. hay rake 32 per cent, and 53 per cent. From each of these items we can deduct 10 to 12 per cent, for the assembling of the machines. The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) is compelled to add 10 per cent, to the value of the machines under the Customs Act, and a 45 per cent, duty, on the present basis of commercial exchange, really means an impost of a little over ‘ 62 per cent., so that protection, both natural and that provided by the Tariff, amounts to considerably over 100 per cent, on each machine. It is not my intention to refer at length to the local productions, hut we know that in Victoria last year machines were produced by Mr. H. V. McKay at the Sunshine Harvester Works. These machines were inspected by some honorable members, and so far as one could judge they appeared to be particularly serviceable. It is difficult, however, to judge their suitability except under actual working conditions in the field; but there seems to be no reason why machines of this type should not be manufactured in Australia on a large scale. Knowing the policy of the Government, I believe that some duty will be imposed, although my personal opinion is that machines of this type should be admitted free on account of the natural protection afforded. Until last year reapers and binders had never been made in Australia, but since then three or four machines have been manufactured. The duty was made effective on the 1st January of ‘ this year, and up to that time machines had never been manufactured in any quantity, although to-day I believe they are being produced somewhat extensively. It is, therefore, to be assumed that before the coming harvest manufacturers will be able to supply some machines, although not sufficient to meet requirements. Are we going to say that the farmers of Australia must purchase machines which have never had what can be termed an effectual trial?
– To what machine is the honorable member re’f erring?
– The reaper and binder. I propose moving an amendment asking for a reduction in the duty on the other types mentioned in this item. It is not my intention to attempt to disparage in the slightest degree the produets of Australian manufacturers, because I have no wish to do so. I would be very pleased if Australian manufacturers were producing machines superior to anything imported into the Commonwealth, but at the same time we are not justified in compelling farmers to purchase machines which have not had an effective trial. ‘The present price of £102 for a reaper and binder is based upon a 10 per cent, duty, and if the importers had not imported a large number of machines in November and December last on that basis the additional duty proposed under this sub-item would immediately be added, which means that the imported machine would cost about £130 instead of £102. Even if the machines produced at the Sunshine Works are superior to those imported, which is very problematical, it will not be possible for the manufacturers to meet the demand in the coming year, and a duty of 45 per cent., as proposed, will really mean an impost of 60 per cent. in addition to the natural protection, which is altogether preposterous.
– It means an additional £30 or £40 on each machine.
– Absolutely. It cannot be said that the business of Mr. McKay is not in a prosperous condition, and it has reached its present state of efficiency on lower duties than those now proposed. Very little of this type of machinery comes from Great Britain, and the duty on the general Tariff, is what the farmer will have to pay. I move -
That the following words be added to sub-item (a) : - “ And on and after 16th June, 1021, ad val., British, 15 per cent.; intermediate, 25 per cent.; general, 30 per cent.”
.- I think the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) should consider the present prices of reapers and binders. I do not think there is, at present, any necessity for imposing any duties, but, of course, we are living under abnormal conditions, which are not likely to prevail for any length of time. Personally, I think these duties should be deferred for a time, in order to see if Australian manufacturers are in a position to produce reapers and binders in sufficient quantities to meet the demand. If Australian manufacturers can produce machines in large quantities, I do not think they would be affected if the duty were deferred. In some of the States reapers and hinders are used very extensively, hut in Tasmania we cannot largely use harvesters. In certain portions of my electorate a few machines are in use, and I understand they are giving satisfaction. They are chiefly made in Victoria, at the “ Sunshine “ works. But the bulk of the farmers, especially the small men in Tasmania, for climatic and other reasons, cannot use the harvester. Besides, a great deal of their crop consists of hay and oats, and a reaper and binder suits them very much better than a harvester. I want to see the Australian machine used. ‘ The history of the “ Sunshine “ people, and of other Australian firms, affords good ground for expecting that any difficulties which may present themselves to-day in the manufacture of the right kind of implement will be overcome. In this instance,, seeing that conditions are abnormal, I suggest that tha Minister consider whether it would not be wiser to defer the duties for a matter of six months.
.- I cannot agree with the proposal of the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr- Atkinson). In the past the reaper and binder has been almost exclusively imported; the Australian farmer has had long experience of the foreign make and its local importer. Whether the machines have come from Great Britain or America the farmer has had to pay through the nose for the past forty years. The overseas makers have had a free run, and have heavily exploited the Australian market. If the total sum of the profits made in Australia by foreign manufacturers of these implements could be authoritatively compiled and made known in this Parliament, the figure would prove astounding. The groundless fear expressed by the honorable member for Wilmot is not a new one. I refer to the allegation that if importations of these machines cease, as an outcome of the new Tariff, there will be a serious scarcity, with resultant harm to the Australian farmer. That is an old bogy. As soon as there is a possibility of the local manufacturer coming into competition with the importer of the foreign implement, the printing press throughout the country is set in active motion, and agents and representatives of the imported machines, from one end of the land to the other, diligently spread the tale that if the protective duty is agreed to, the farmer will be unable to secure his necessary machinery. The Customs YearBooh shows the following particulars of importations of reapers, hinders, and mowers:- 1919-20, £69,000; 1918-19, £63,000; 1917-18, £84>000; 1916-17- a little while prior to the introduction of the Tariff- £131,000. The total for the four years shows that £348,951 worth of reapers and binders was imported intoAustralia. From recent monthly returns supplied to the Customs Department, it isfound that from July, 1920, to April, 1921,. reapers and binders and mowers to the value of £385,846 were imported ; so that importations, in this brief term of ten- months, practically equalled the total of the previous four years.
– Not in numbers of machines, the actual number would be about two-thirds.
– I am speaking of values. I accept the Minister’s estimate of the number of machines imported. The factsand figures reveal the cunning of the importer. This huge total has been imported from overseas since the Tariff was first tabled. The importers are trying, as far as possible, to smother the local industry, or prevent it from getting any standing in the community. As for the complaint that ifthe duty is agreed to there will be a disastrous cessation of importations; whereby the farmer will be stranded, the figures for the ten months which I have just quoted suggest that enough machines have been imported into Australia to supply primary producers for a consider able time to come.
– Are those machine’s in bond, or will their importers be required to pay the higher rates of duty? Suppose that these rates are not confirmed, whatwould be the position then?
– Suppose that this Committee were to wipe out the duties altogether. It would mean that those who had put tens of thousands of pounds into this new Australian industry would lose all, and the infant activity would be killed. And, at the same time, importers would have a free hand; and then the farmer would be made to pay. In the past, Australian manufacturers have had to put up with tactics such as I have just indicated. It was a long time before the Federal Parliament came to their rescue and struck down the strangling clutch of the foreign makers. With the assistance of the Federal Parliament, once more, the local manuf acturers will be given a fair chance and, given that, they are capable of effectively fighting the foreign manufacturers. It is very apparent that there will be a good supply of reapers and binders, and mowers in this country for a considerable time. Consequently the Australian farmer is absolutely safe. There are enough reapers and binders in the Commonwealth to-day to supply the whole of our farmers’ requirements during the next two or three years.
– From where does the hon- orablemember get that information?
– From an exceptionally reliable source.
– From a propagandist source?
– The honorable mem bermay behis own propagandist, but the figures I have quoted are taken from the CustomsY ear-book.
– Now the honorable member has given me an answer to my question.
– I merely allowed the honorable member a little tether, and found that he was prepared to level accusations against myself and others which were totally undeserved: If he has any complaint to make in regard to the figures which I have quoted, he should make ittothe Customs Department.
– The Customs Department cannot tell us the requirements of the farmer for a season.
– In 1916-17, when we garnered a bountiful harvest, reapers and binders to the value of £131,000 more than satisfied the demands of Australia for the whole year. Obviously, therefore, £335,000worth of these machines will supply our requirements for two years.
– The honorable member’s figures are quiteworthless.
– They are not. I can count the numberof votes which will be recorded in favour of the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory), and I cannot conceive that they will number more than eight of nine. What following has he even amongst the members of his own party? The consensus ofopinion of this Committee, from the time the Tariff was introduced into this Chamber has been overwhelmingly in favour of the encouragement of Australian production. Having emerged from the storm and stress of a terrible war, all true Australians desire that this country shall be made as selfcontained as possible. We possess all the raw materials to enable us to achieve that objective; we have workmen who are second to none in the world from the stand-point of efficiency; and we have also the inventive genius which has supplied not merely our own farmers, but the farmers of other countries with some of the best agricultural implements that are in use to-day. It is idle for any man to say to the farmer, “ Here is a strong machine which will do splendid work for you.” He must prove that it is a laboursaving implement, which it will pay the farmer to use. If it will enable the latter to sow and reap his crops at a less cost than he has done hitherto, that is the kind of machine which will improve his position. I cannot understand why certain honorable members who profess to represent the farmers desire to prevent them from obtaining the best locally manufactured article at the lowest possible price.
– We want them to have the best machinery in the world.
– The honorable member knows that Australia stands second to no country in regard to the manufacture of improved machinery. If the local manufacturer be wiped out, the specialists who are engaged in the laboratories attached to our factories, and who are devoting themselves to such tasks as perfecting, for example, the improved harvesters, will also be wiped out. These men are constantly receiving suggestions from outside sources as to the way in which certain mechanical contrivances may be improved so as to make that machine more effective. Do honorable members of the Country party wish to deny our manufacturers an opportunity of introducing such improvements? We have given to the world some of the best implements which have ever been placed upon the farm, and if we are afforded an opportunity to do so, we shall produce even better machines. If we had manufactured the 6,000 combined harvesters which have been imported into this country, how much cheaper would our factories have been able to turn them out? In such circumstances the overhead charges would certainly have been not more than they are to-day, and our farmers would have been able to purchase these machines cheaper than they can at present.
– Massed production should be cheaper.
– It stands to reason that with massed production, assuming that the overhead charges were the same, our manufacturers would be able to manufacture these machines at a cheaper price than that at which they are manufacturing them to-day. I am very sorry that the Minister is absent from the Chamber just now, because I want to invite his attention to a supplementary duty. Whilst the duties proposed upon reapers and binders in this schedule may be all right so far as the complete machines are concerned, it may be possible for the makers of them to import them in. parts, and have those parts assembled in Australia. Consequently, the best thing we can do is not merely to impose duties upon the complete machine, but also to impose a duty upon the various parts of it. This course is absolutely necessary if we are to effectively protect local industry. For instance, the weight of a 6-foot reaper and binder is given in the Massey-Harris price-book as 15 cwt. 3 qrs. Of this total, the metal parts weigh, approximately,14 cwt. If the machine were imported in parts to be assembled here, the duty on the parts at the rate of2¼d. per lb. would amount to much less than the duty on a complete machine. It will thus be seen that unless departmental precautions are taken, the duty may be evaded by this importation in pieces. I understand that the Minister is proposing that the duty shall apply to machines already assembled.
– The machines need not necessarily be assembled. Nearly the whole of this machinery comes in more or less broken down.
– How is the duty to be applied when a machine isbrought in in parts? An importer might bring in three or four cases of parts which, when assembled, would make two complete machines, and the duty levied on those parts would be less than the duty levied on the complete machines.
– If it is a substantially whole machine that is imported in parts the machine rate of duty applies, but spare or duplicate parts come in under the parts duty.
– I see that in respect of parts there is a duty of1¾d. per lb., British, and of 2¼d. per lb. underthe general Tariff. Does the Minister think that is sufficient?
– I promised the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) that I would move to reduce the duty on parts to 2d. per lb., as in the case of reaper-threshers.
– If the machines are brought in unassembled- if the parts are imported separately - the duty in respect of the complete machine may be wiped out altogether. The object of the importers is to destroy the local industry. There is no reason why those who at present import parts for reapers and binders should not have those parts made in Australia. It is merely a question of the American manufacturers bringing out the necessary patterns. If that were done, the parts could be produced here in large quantities, and at a reasonable price. One would anticipate that the importers would take a step of this sort in the interests of the farmers who have purchased their machines. I am inclined to think that the cutting down of the duty on parts will lead to a considerable evasion of the duties on the complete machine.
Mr.Riley. - ‘The importers will bring in the machines in parts instead of complete.
Mr.FENTON. -That is what I fear. I shall, however, leave the matter to the Minister in the hope that he will see that the schedule is so framed that it will give to the manufacturershere true protection, and will prevent any nefarious practices on the part of importers of parts instead of completely assembled machines.
– The honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) has dealt with the duty on reapers and binders and on mowers and hay rakes. I can remember mowers being made here long before the introduction of the newer fangled machinery. They were made at Footscray some thirty-five years ago; but the American mower was brought in, and drove out of the Australian market, not only the locally-made article,but that which hitherto had been imported from the Old Country. If these mowers and hay rakes can be manufactured here, why should we not encourage their local production? These importing firms are already looking out for lands whereon to establish factories in Australia, and it is our duty tocompel them, if possible, to carry on their work here. In this we ought to be helped even by the farmers, for it will ultimately prove to their advantage. I know that two firms have already obtained land in Victoria, and that the arrangements for commencing work are nearly completed.
Why is it that the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) will misquote, or exaggerate, the natural protection that exists for our manufacturers ? I did not hear the whole of the honorable gentleman’s speech,but I think he said there is a natural protection of 61 per cent, on the mower and 53 per cent, on the hay rake.
-With a deduction of 12 percent, for the assembling.
– The following table shows the landed cost and other particulars of a 4-ft.6-in. mower in June of this vear : -
– What are you working on - the manufacturing invoice price or the selling price?
– I am working on the imported price of the article - the price on which duty is paid.
– That is mostly the manufacturing cost, and not the price of the machine, which is increased considerably here.
– How can we ascertain the natural protection otherwise than bycalculatingthe cost of bringing the article to Australia? What afterwards takes place in Australia has nothing todo with the natural protection.
– I worked my figures out on the manufacturing price.
– Perhaps the honorable member is making a mistake such as he admitshaving made in regard to- the assembling. I have also thefollowing, figures in regard to the landed cost of a8-ft. hay rake this month : -
When thehonorable member talks about natural protectionheought to tell us whatis covered bythe term, so that his argumentsmay berelated, if he takes into account anything but the natural, charges between the country of originand Australia.
– I have specific cases of two machines, with full particulars of the cost of importation.
Mr.MATHEWS.- Itis remarkable that every time the honorable member deals with the question of natural protection he overstates the case. In the case ofthe hay rake the freight would have to be £0 10s., and, with the mower, £12 10s., to arrive at the figureshegaveus. Isthe honorable member not quite as desirousas weon this side are of compelling those American firms to manufacture in. Australia if possible?
Mr.GREGORY. - I think we ought to havea certain protective duty. I do not see whythose firms should be allowed to carry on here their business in another countrywithout paying any portion of our cost of government. Iwish, however, to see competition.
-Does the honorable member not think that there is enough competition in Australia ?Doeshe wish to hold up theforeignmanufacturer as a menace against our own manufacturer ? Does he not think that wecan by scientific laws, provideforsufficientcompetition here?
Mr.GREGORY. - Scientificlaws ? Good gracious!
– Ifthe honorable member thinks otherwise,then he must admit, with me and those of my way of political thinking, that our present economic system is useless.
Mr.GREGORY. - The more the interference, the worse things get!
– The honorable member has, certainly, the most peculiar ideas. He wishes to have the. foreign manufacturer as a menace against” the manufacturer here - hecan see no other method of meeting the case.
-Is not the natural protection, with a 15 per cent. duty, sufficient, considering that our workers are as good, and as intelligent, as any in the world?
– I am merely trying to show what thehonorable member’s contention really is. He must know that natural protection is useless where dumping is resorted to ; if he cannot see that that is so, it is not my fault. Hewever, I know it is useless to try to convince the honorable member, who hasa ” beein his bonnet “ ; andI, perhaps, should not have spoken were it not that it might subsequently be said that his statements had gone unrefuted.
.- The fears that have been expressed of the consequences, of ‘high duties on these machines are very reasonable, and areshared by the farmers of Australia. An extraordinary high duty on reapers and binders will have the effect of limitingthe number ofmachines available for the coming season. In spite of the figures quoted by the honorable member forMaribyrnong (Mr.Fenton), there are good grounds for the fears in this connexion; indeed, I consider his figuresabsolutely worthless. It is idle forthe honorable member to attempt to show that, because there wasan increase in the number of machine imported last year, there will be a surplus available for next season. Obviously that increased importation was to meetthe demand occasioned by anextraordinarily good season. It must be remembered that in, thebad seasons,such as thatof 1915-16, when, at the same tume, the pricesofthe machines were high,farmersrenovated theirold machines, and kept going in the hope of better times. Thatreally was the cause of the high demandfor machines last year. That alone was the, reason for
.- I recognise, with other honorable members of the Country party who are endeavouring to do something in the interests of the primary producer, that our efforts are hopeless, and only a waste of. time; but I fear that honorable members generally are not looking at the serious impost which they are placing on the agricultural industry. The decline that hasbeen taking place since 1913 is absolutely astounding. The Sydney Bulletin last week, in an articleon “ The Burdened Farmer”-. showed that in 1900 there were 67,136 people actively engaged in agricul- ture in New South Wales. In 19 07 there were 69,163, which, the Bulletin remarked, was wretchedly poor progress, butstill progress. The paper adds that that was shortly before the “ heroic loan and settlement boom” began. In 1919, when the latest estimate was published, it was possible to trace only50,881 of these agriculturists. “ If the same rate of decline takes place for the next thirtyone years,” says the Bulletin, “there will not be a solitary agriculturist remaining in New South Wales.”
– Does the Bulletin show that there werethat many less, or that so many had retired ontheir wealth?
– It shows that the industryhad declined, and thatso many had actually gone outof farming. The honorable member knows what was said by the deputation which waited on the Treasurer (SirJoseph Cook) the other day on behalf of certainfarmers in New South Wales. Thosefarmers approached their own StateGovernment last year and obtained a loanof £1,000,000 to carry on. The honorablemember knows also that theyhavehadfive of the worst yearsever knownin the history ofNew South Wales. The Bulletin’sfigures show that there has teen a loss of farmers in New South “Wales, in twelve years, to the number of 18,282.
– Does the Bulletin give the reason why they are going ofl the land! Does it ascribe this to the Protective policy?
– lt is well worth the honorable member’s while to read the whole article, which shows the facts regarding the decline of agriculture in his own State.
– How do you connect that with the Tariff?
– I am showing that the Committee is placing on the farmer additional imposts that will put him out of production altogether.
– The Bulletin will not agree with you in that contention.
– The honorable member, like other representatives of New South Wales, is out for the highest possible duties, in order to build a prohibitive wall around Australia.
– We learned that from the Victorians.
– At one time, honorable members opposite took the opposite view of the fiscal question. Why they have . turned their fiscal beliefs upside down is beyond my knowledge. All those honorable members opposite who were Free Traders at one time are Protectionists to-day. In 1914-15, 7,372,000 acres were under cultivation in Australia. Then followed the first years of the war, when we had 9,000,000 acres and up to 12,000,000 acres under crop. Those were the record years for Australia, but in the post-war years there has been a decline, until last year we put only 6,379,000 acres under crop. By increasing these duties the Committee is going to make the position worse.
– That was the rotten management of the Wheat Pool in New South Wales under the Government which the honorable member supports.
– That remark might aPPly. to New South Wales, but the management of .the Wheat Pool, in Victoria was excellent. At the present time, the Victorian Government are placing 10,000 soldiers on the land. The New South Wales Government are . also plac ing many men on the land. The duties alone, on the cheapest set of agricultural machinery that these men can get, amount to £130. Therefore, honorable members, are placing on every man who is being put on the land a tax of £130. The honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) has a son who is going on the land to grow wheat. That youngman will have. to put his hand in his pocket to the extent of £130 to meet the extra charge on his machinery over and above what he would have to pay if the articles could be obtained at the old rates. That calculation does not take into account the extra money that will be added to the duties by the commercial man to represent his profits and money out of pocket. The Minister, speaking ‘ of reapers and binders, said that the life of a binder was 1,000 acres.
– I did not say it was 1,000 acres. I merely took that as a supposition.
– The Minister’s figures are correct, although a binder might give a little more service than that with good management and care.
– The life will depend on whether you cut that area in a few’ years or many.
– df the farmer looks after his machine, he will get more life out of it.
– If he cut 500 acres in. two years, its life would be more than- if he cut 1,000 acres in one year.
– The Minister admits that the life of the machine is in the vicinity of 1,000 acres of hay, and, therefore, this duty is equivalent to an impost of 9d. per acre for all time on every acre of land under hay. It is really more than the farmer’s municipal rates.
– But we have been told that the duty will make the machines cheaper.
– I am aware that the Minister is speaking ironically. He knows perfectly well that the duty goes on at the other end. I hope that the new reaper and binder which is to be manufactured by H. V. McKay will be just as pronounced a success as the harvester manufactured at the Sunshine works. I admit that H. V. McKay has built up the finest manufacturing business in Australia, and
I am satisfied that if the Australian reaper and binder proves to be as good as the harvester turned out at Sunshine, as well as by Robinson and Company and one or two other manufacturers, competition from American manufacturers need not be feared. The Australian machines stand alone. Very few farmers care to buy a stripper-harvester of American make, and I repeat that if the McKay reaper and binder is as good as the Australian harvester, this duty will not be required to protect the industry. And are we going to place this tax of 9d. per acre on every acre of hay that is cut in Australia for the sake of one industry? It is absolutely unfair, and in sub-item b I intend to move that the duty be £10, £12, and £15. I trust that the Committee will give consideration to the interests of the wheatgrower, who will be vitally affected by this duty. Our wheat is worth £50,000,000 this year, and, as the Treasurer said the other day, it is going to save the finances of the Commonwealth. It is practically the only taxablecommodity that the farmer has, and, unfortunately, the tax will go into the pockets of the manufacturer. I challenge the statement made by the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) that if the duty is not imposed, the primary producers of this country will be at the mercy of the importers. . For many years our farmers have been able to get their reapers and hinders at £38, £40, and £41, but it appears that, from now onwards, they will be called upon to pay anything from £98 to £105, and probably more. I intend to support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory). I remind the Committee that duplicates represent a very important item to the farmer because he is replacing parts of his machine from time to time. There are scores of old out-of-date machines in use throughout Australia. The machines are not now being imported, but the parts are coming in and are dutiable. In order to enable the farmers to keep the machines going a little time longer, I think the duty on these parts should be at the same rate as the old machine itself.
– I cannot allow the statement made by the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Gibson) to go unchal lenged. I object to the contention of honorable members in the Corner that they alone represent the views of the primary producer, although I realize the truth of the saying that if you repeat a statement often enough, although it may be fallacious to the last degree, eventually you make yourself believe there is something in it. The honorable member for Corangamite is quite justified in stating his point of view if he really believes what he is saying ; but he has no right to assume that he is also putting the views of the man on the land.
– I think I am.
– The honorable member has a perfect right to think that way if he likes, but I conscientiously believe otherwise, and so I am not going to accept his statements. He said something about the condition of agriculture in New South Wales in recent years. I remind him that New South Wales has passed through an unprecedented drought, and that, with the exception of last season, the interests of the farmers in that State suffered very much owing to mismanagement of the Wheat Fools. This, I submit, caused many of them to go out of agriculture. I object to the honorable member quoting from the Sydney Bulletin, and allowing honorable members to believe that the Bulletin supports his contention as to the reason for this decline in agriculture. It would have been much fairer had the honorable member read the whole of the extract. He would then have shown that the majority of the farmers who had given up wheat-growing had merely changed this form of occupation on the land for another. The honorable member knows that the policy of the Bulletin is to encourage the establishment of Australian industries, and that it describes his attitude on this subject as a “ hideous superstition,” to use its own words.
– And it points to a decline in the biggest industry in Australia.
– The point is that the honorable member gave us the impression that the Bulletin was with him in contending that in building up our secondary industries, we were driving the agriculturist off the land.
– I never suggested that at all.
– Why. did the honorable member quote it then?
– To show the decline in agriculture.
-But how could the honorable member expect to connect that newspaper extract with this discussionon the Tariff ? I claim to know something about the conditions of the wheat-grower in New South Wales, and I repeat that the temporary decline in wheat-growing is due largely to the gross mismanagement ofthe Wheat Pools in New South Wales, but that the farmers there ceased wheat production for the time being only to take up some other rural occupation.
– You say that the action of the Government has driven men off the land in New South Wales, and Isay that the action of the Government in this matter is going to have thesame effect.
– The honorable member is only assuming that something like that will happen. He knows that the Tariff had nothing to do with driving farmers off the land.
– I never suggested anything of the kind.
– I am glad to have that admission. Why did the honorable member quote the Bulletin?
– Simply to show the decline of agriculture in Australia?
– For the first timein five years the Wheat Pool in New South Wales has been properly managed, and as a result of that management and a good season the last yield, about 60,000,000 bushels, was the best for many years. That fact is a complete answer to the statement of the honorable member that men are going off the land. If I believed that the impositionof these duties would have a detrimental effect; upon the manon the land, I would be opposed to them. But I believe it to bein the interests of the farmer to establish local manufacturing industries and create a better local market . The honorable member forCorungamite, instead of reading matter that was irrelevant, should have endeavoured to answer my argument of last night in regard to reapers and binders. On 1stSeptember, 1920, Massey-Harris and Company quoted intheir own price-list the 6-foot reaper and binder for deliveryin 1921 at £130 . Local firms started to manu- facture the same machine, and as soon as Massey-Harris and Companyfound themselves confronted with local competition they reduced their price by £24, Local industry meant a gain of £24 per machine to the primary producers, and I am endeavouring to retain that advantage for them. When the honorable member for Corangamite was on his feet he made no endeavour to answer that statement.
– I explained it fully last night.
– There is no satisfactory explanation of it. Those honorable members in the Corner who say that the supporters of these duties are opposed to the interests of the man on the land, are contradicted by the whole history of fiscalism. The Minister (Mr. Greene) last night advanced an argument which honorable members in the corner didnot attempt to refute. Indeed, the figures he quoted from actual prise lists were unanswerable. It must be remembered that, the Minister represents one of the largest primary producing electorates in Australia.I, too, represent a country constituency which is second to none of the electorates represented by members of the Country party. Government; supporters and members of the Opposition represent more country electorates than do the honorable members in the corner, who arenot unanimous on this question of reduced duties. Does the honorable member for Grampians (Mr. J owett) agree with the attitude adopted by his Deputy Leader (Mr. Gregory)? I donot think he does. Last night I quoted a speech made by the honorable member when he was contesting the Maribyrnong seat, and I could employ no better argument to prove how illogical is the attitude taken up by some of the members of his party. Those honorable members who are opposed to these duties have a perfect right to express their own views, but they have no right to claim that they are speaking for the primary producers. Very seriousconsequences may follow the alteration of the duty on parts of machines. Last night the Minister agreed to an alteration of duty on some parts; but I hope he will not do that again.
– I am sorry tohear that. What is the good of giving with one hand and taking away with the other?
– It will not have that effect, as I shall show.
– I am informed that of the total weight of 15 cwt. 3 qrs. in a reaper and binder the metal parts weigh 14 cwt. If the machine were imported in parts to be assembled in Australia, and the duty on the parts were 2¼d. per lb., the total paid would be less than the duty collected on the complete machine. If that were so, thu effects would be serious, unless departmental precautions were taken to see that the duty was not evaded by the importation of machinery in pieces.
– I shall deal with that
– I see no advantage in imposing a duty on the completed article and taking it off the parts. Of course, instructions may be given by fhe Department to adjust the duties.
– Make the poor farmer buy a new machine every year. .
– That sort of talk does not strengthen a bad case. The farmers are too intelligent to be influenced by that talk, and they do not thank anybody for referring to them as the “ poor farmers.” A fallacy such as is preached on the question of a Tariff by a few honorable members of the Corner, although repeated a thousand times, never becomes a truth.
– I intend to move for a duty of £15 on every binder imported.
– This is what the Bulletin, says about the attitude of the honorable member and his party towards the Tariff: -
Gibson asked for a duty of 6s. ‘per cwt. on foreign-grown onions and got it. He is a member of the Country party, and the public expect to hear less in future from the disgruntled minority of his colleagues about the iniquities of the Tariff. A Tariff which can save a body of farmers from the extinction to which Free Trade would inevitably condemn them, deserves something better than the cheap gibes of Prowse and Gregory. In truth, the fiscal policy of the Commonwealth is a policy for the producer. It has saved him in the past from being exploited by the makers of foreign machinery and implements, it is saving him at present from the operations of cheap labour competitors and dumpers - and there would be a ruinous amount of dumping in these distress ful times if the Tariff didn’t prevent it - and it is providing him all the time with the best and safest of all markets, a home market. The war and the post-war slump have shown how utterly impossible it is for Australia to continue its old, heedless, and shiftless dependence on foreign markets.
The ACTING CHAIRMAN (Mr. Fleming). - I am afraid that that has nothing to do with the item under discussion.
– At any rate, I commend the passage to the perusal of the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Gibson). When he quotes from the Bulletin, he should read all that appears therein, and not endeavour to make the Committee believe that that publication supports him in a policy which is detrimental to the primary producers, as well as to the secondary producers and the people at large.
– The official organ of the Labour party advocates the boycotting of our butter, . and objects to immigrants coming to this country to give us the local market which you say you wish our ‘farmers to have.
– The members of the Labour party, on an occasion which my honorable friend will remember, were ready to give our producers of butter a higher price than those in the Corner party would agree to. That statement can beproved by reference to Hansard. There is no agricultural implement industry in my electorate, so that I have no selfish interest to serve in advocating a protective policy. All the evidence that I can collect shows that where there is protection of secondary industries and local competition, the primary producer fares better than where there is no local competition. The farmers of New Zealand and the Argentine, under Eree Trade, are infinitely worse off than those of Australia. It is worthy of notice that only two or three members of the Corner party are supporting its Deputy Leader in this matter.
– I had a strong letter from Albury a few days ago.
– Yes ; and the honorable member deserved it. The honorable member, if he went to Albury, would find that a majority of the electors there would not accept his reasoning on this matter.
– Some of the honorable members of the Labour party, if here, would vote with us, as they have done before. That is not a united party.
– The honorable member cannot get even the members of his own party to vote with him. There are in the Labour party as many representatives of country districts as are to be found in the Country party.
– And the people of Albury always supported a former honorable member for Hume (Sir William Lyne), although he was the strongest Protectionist in the House.
– Yes ; as the honorable member states, one of my predecessors, Sir William Lyne, was the strongest Protectionist’ in the House. I do not think that a majority of the electors of any district in Australia believe that the destruction of industries will benefit the primary producers, or any one else. It is to the advantage of a young country like this to have industries. Honorable members who support proposals like that of the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) will not come into the open and say, “I believe in Free Trade,” because they know that Eree Trade is dead, and that no large number of electors is in favour of that policy; they say, “We do not want high duties. We desire moderate protection.”
– Adequate protection.
– To prove that moderate Protection is a good thing, they draw attention to the, alleged benefits that the producers of Free Trade countries are supposed to enjoy.
– The honorable member complains of the existence of monopolies, and then does his best to. build them up.
– What utter nonsense! As I have already stated a dozen times since the Tariff debate began,, if the Labour party were in power, we should apply the New Protection ; but, not being in power, we have to choose between the Old Protection and Free Trade. Under Free Trade, monopolies are built up outside the country; and if there be any danger of monopolies, I prefer to have them in this country where we can control them, rather than overseas and beyond our control. I rose, not to go over the figures that I Have already given, but to challenge the statement of the honorable member for Corangamite, and show that it was not fair for him, in putting his case, to claim that his views were those of the men on the land. .
– I wish to deal first with what has been said by the honorable members for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) and Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney) about the importation of parts. They contend that machines may be imported in parts, and that thus the intention of the Tariff will be frustrated. That, however, will not occur. On page 325 of the Official Tariff Guide 1908-11, there is to be found this interpretation of parts, which has been duly gazetted, and, under the Customs Act, is, therefore, the law of the land: -
In pursuance of the powers conferred on me by the Customs Tariff 1908-11, I hereby direct that parts of any article, machine, or appliance shall, although specifically or generically provided for in the Tariff as parts, if imported with any such article, machine, or appliance in a complete or substantially complete state, be classifiable under the Tariff item applicable to such article, machine, or appliance. Articles, machines, and appliances shipped in an unassembled condition, ready, or practically ready, for assembling, shall be treated as though actually assembled.
When all the parts that make up a machine are imported, they are treated for duty as if they were assembled ; but when parts are imported separately, as certain wearing parts are imported, they are dutiable as parts. It would be impossible to evade taxation by importing parts as parts and then assembling them.
– What is to prevent that from being done?
– It could not be done to any extent without the Customs officials becoming aware of it. Item 167 of the Tariff, dealing with parts of reaper threshers, has been in the Tariff since 1908-11. The machines are dutiable under another item, and the parts pay a special rate. It has never been suggested that the law is evaded, although these machines are always imported in parts, that is, unassembled.
– If what is feared were being done, the Department would promptly take action.
– Importers have to declare the nature of the goods they import, and if they imported as parts what were not properly dutiable as parts, they would be liable to severe penalties, and would be prosecuted by the Department. The experience of the Department indicates that there is no fear whatever that the duty will be evaded by these machines being imported in parts.
– That is an evasion I had no desire to assist when I made the suggestion I put forward last night.
– I am quite sure the honorable member did not have it in mind. Last night, the honorable member called me to task for not having consulted the Board of Trade in regard to these matters, but this is one question upon which that Board was consulted. The origin of the industry affected by this item lay in certain negotiations which took place between the Minister for Repatriation and ‘the Australian agricultural implement makers, with the idea of creating work in special industries for returned soldiers. A proposal to this end was submitted to the Board of Trade, which considered it and made a unanimous recommendation upon it, which we have incorporated in the Tariff. Therefore, although I feel strongly inclined to meet the request of the honorable member for Dampier, I am in this difficulty, that I feel that I am obliged to give expression in the Tariff to the definite undertaking arrived at as a result of these negotiations. I have never held that these duties will be passed on to the farmer. The evidence we have had is the clearest indication possible that they are not passed on. Before this particular duty came into operation, the importing firms had raised their price to £98 in Australia, in New Zealand, and in Great Britain, where no duty is imposed upon them, to the farmer the price is £97 and £92 10s. respectively. The Australian manufacturer is now supplying these implements at his works for £95. It is quite evident, therefore, that the duty is not being passed on to the farmer.
– The importers assert that, if they are called upon to pay the ad valorem duty of 45 per cent., that price will be increased to £130.
– It will be some time before the importers are obliged to fall back upon further importations, because they have taken all sorts of care to have a sufficient quantity on hand. The honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) has already informed the Committee that during the last ten months as great a value of these machines have been imported as were imported during the preceding three years.
– The honorable member quoted values, but not the actual number of machines. The invoice price of these machines during the last ten months would be nearly double what they cost prior to that.
– We all know that the price of these machines has been going up steadily for years past. The total value of importations during the years 1916-20 was £349,000, whereas during the last ten months the value of the machines imported was £336,000. Even allowing that the price has doubled - and I doubt whether, on the average, that is the case - as many machines have been imported in the last ten months as were imported in about two years prior to that period. These facts indicate quite clearly that the importers have already provided their full requirements for the ensuing harvest, and that these machines are already in Australia. In any case, the history of the agricultural implement industry in Australia shows that the duties have not been passed on to the farmers, and that the importing firms, in almost every case, have had to take a smaller profit because of the fact that it was impossible for them to stand up against the competition of the local manufacturers if they attempted to pass the duty on. The statement of the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Gibson) that these duties represent a charge of about 9d. per acre on the farming industry i3 very wide of the mark, and cannot possibly be substantiated. So far from the duties being passed on, the reverse is the case. The local manufacturer is turning out these machines at £95, as against £97 or £98, to which the importing firms had raised the price before the duty became operative. Therefore, the local manufacturer is saving the Australian farmer from some of the charges which would have been imposed on him if there had been no local manufacture. In view of the unanimous recommendation of the Board of Trade, and the, definite undertakings entered into, if this industry were established, with a view to employing, as it is employing, a large number of returned soldiers, the Government must stand by what has been done, whether it is right or wrong. I am not saying that it is wrong. Therefore, although I did feel inclined to meet the honorable member, but not to go to the length the honorable member for Dampier has suggested in reducing this duty, I feel that the Government are obliged to stand by the undertaking given which for the moment I had overlooked.
.- I am sorry that the returned soldier has been brought into this question, but as he has been brought in, I merely wish to say that an enormous number of returned soldiers have been put on the land, and, in spite of the Minister’s fantastic predictions, they will be called upon to pay this duty.
Amendment (by Mr. Greene) proposed -
That the item be amended by adding the following to sub-item (d) : - “ And on and after 16th June, 1921, per lb., British, l¾d.; intermediate and general, 2d.”
– This amendment which, apparently, the Minister is making in accordance with his promise to the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory), will undo in connexion with this industry everything carried out by the Government in the negotiations referred to by the Minister. Of course, the Minister explains that he will see that these machines do not come in as parts, but he will be giving his officials a particularly arduous task to perform. Furthermore, I am quite certain that the importers will growl that they are being imposed upon if they are charged full duty upon parts which, when assembled, will form portions of a full machine. Under this proposal the assemblers of the parts will be able to import at reduced rates which will enable such firms as the MasseyHarris Company, which are the biggest sweaters in Australia, to underpay their workers. The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. ‘Greene) has handed the assemblers over to the tender mercies of the Massey-Harris Company and the International Harvester Company, and they will now have an opportunity of improving their position. I suppose pressure has been brought to bear upon the Minister, and that is why he has shown such weakness. We on this side have not had any assistance from the supporters of the Government, or the members of the Country party, and it appears that some honorable members are making preparations for the next election. If the remaining items in the Tariff are to be dealt with in this way, we are not likely to get much assistance from the supporters of the Government who are supposed to be strong Protectionists.
– To what is the honorable member objecting?
– To lower duties on parts. The Minister knows that reduced duties will enable importers to take advantage of local manufacturers.
– I am perfectly satisfied that they cannot get any advantage.
– Will the Minister say that if parts were admitted free, the importers would not derive benefit ?
– They would get a slight advantage. They are really not getting any benefit because it is an alternative rate.
– The Minister knows that the owner of a machine is in a precarious position if he cannot obtain the necessary parts at a reasonable price.
– Would the honorable member favour the prohibition of importations to compel farmers to use the locally manufactured machine?
– That would be real Protection. Farmers could, I suppose, secure their requirements by purchasing machines outright, and thus securing parts at a reasonable price. I know it is useless hammering away on this matter when the supporters of the Government and the members of the Country party are united, but I shall expect more assistance from the Government supporters in the future.
– The honorable member for Mellourne Ports (Mr. Mathews) seems to think that the best support one can give to a Tariff is to delay it. He would be rendel ing greater assistance if he took up less time so that we could get on with the work before us. c
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Mangles, clothes wringers, and clothes washing machines, for household use, ad val., British, 12½ per cent.; . intermediate, 20 per cent.; general, 25 per cent.
.- Will the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. “Greene) inform the Committee what Australian industry will be encouraged if the duties proposed under this item are imposed ? At present, we have not any factories manufacturing mangles, clotheswringers, clothes washing machines, vacuum cleaners, and other such articles required for household use,, and if it is our desire that the arduous work of women should be lessened, these machines should be admitted either free of duty, or at a very low rate. I do not know of any factory in the Commonwealth manufacturing the machines enumerated in this item.
– Was it not worse to impose a duty on sewing machines ?
– Sewing machines should be made in Australia. What benefit is likely to be derived by imposing duties on the machines mentioned ? These necessary machines should be made available at the lowest possible price, and, as they are not manufacturedin the Commonwealth, the imposition, of duties is altogether unnecessary.
– I have been informed that these machines are being manufactured in Australia. The duty on importations from the United Kingdom is the same as it has been for a number of years, and the general rate has been increased by 5 per cent. It is a low rate, and as there is a . certain amount of manufacture being carried on in the Commonwealth I ask the Committee to agree to the item.
Item agreed to.
– I move -
That the item be amended by leaving out the words “ cash registers.”
I mentioned this matter last night, and said that cash registers would be included under another item.
– I do not think the mechanical portion of cash registers is so complicated that they cannot be manufactured in Australia. Under an Act of Parliament it has been provided that if manufacturers do not commence to produce locally within a certain period we can undertake the manufacture, notwithstanding the existence of patent rights. The other day I saw a . cash register quoted at £110, and I do not suppose its actual value, including patent rights, was more -than £20. These machines are made up from stamped . parts, and as the manufacture of a complete machine is a simple process, we should compel firms -to produce them in Australia. The prices at present charged are so high that, irrespective of any duties that may be imposed, the sellers could not possibly ask for more.
.- Is it the intention of the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) to place computing scales and balances in the same category as cash registers? I have been informed that these machines are used solely in retail establishments, and that it would not pay manufacturers to make computing scales and balances unless they were producing them on a large scale.. I understand that their manufacture was undertaken a few year3 ago, but, owing to the small number of machines’ required, the work was. unprofitable.
– What does the honorable member suggest?’
– I wish the Minister to place computing scales and balances on the free list, as they are not manufactured in Australia, and their exclusion from this item would not affect the Australian scale-making industry. An English firm of scale makers is established in Sydney, and is manufacturing weighing machines, but not of the type referred to.
– What do these machines do besides indicating the weight and possibly the price ?
– That is all they do. I have received requests from Adelaide and Sydney to bring this matter under the notice of the Minister.
– If honorable members will turn to item 169, they will see that there is a line, “ Adding and computing machines and all attachments,” and that these are admitted “free, 5 per cent, and 10 per cent.” Computing weighing machines, such as are indicated in the item under discussion, are a different type “of machine altogether, and one which has been made both in Sydney and in Brisbane. The same remark applies to the computing scales and balances. That is why those lines are set out under item 173. The Department took out the adding and computing machines, which are highly technical inventions, and are not, and cannot be, made here, and made them duty free; and then it grouped these other machines under the item now being discussed.
– In the circumstances, I will not proceed further with my proposed amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
– I draw attention to the lack of a quorum. [Quorum, formed.’]
Item 174 -
Machines, machine tools and appliances, as prescribed by departmental by-laws, ad. val., British, free; intermediate, 5 per cent.; general, 10 per cent.
.- I desire to draw attention to a most extraordinary innovation in the present Tariff. This item contains verbiage which is quite new, and involves a most important and sinister change in departmental procedure. In the past, the Minister for Trade and Customs has had power to place “ machine tools and appliances, as prescribed by departmental by-laws,” under the free list, or 10 per cent, general list. There has now been added the word “ Machines.”
– The old item read, “ Machine tools “ only. The item now is, “Machines, machine tools and appli- ances.”
– That is so. The Minister told the Committee the other night that he would even go so far as to designate a tram rail as an appliance for a machine. If nothing has” quite convinced me hitherto that this Tariff emanated from the Prime Minister himself, I am emphatically converted to that belief by this present proof. It is the sort of business which one would anticipate - knowing the tricks of the Prime Minister, and the methods he usually adopts.
– On a point of order, is the honorable member for Dampier in order, first in refusing to accept the assurance of the Minister for Trade and Customs to the contrary, and, secondly, in describing the actions of the Minister as being due to the tricks of the Prime Minister?
– I did not hear the honorable member use either phrase; but, if he did so, I must ask him to withdraw.
– I am not bound to accept any assurance which the Minister may feel inclined to give. He can utter . any statement he likes. I am not under compulsion to accept it. I did not say that I would not accept the Minister’s assurance. I did not hear him give it, as a matter of fact.
– I think it is a parliamentary rule to accept any such assurance.
– There are other ways of calling a man a liar than the indirect method just employed.
– Yes; quite so. Moreover, I know that Cabinet dealt with the Tariff. I am quite satisfied that the introduction of the objectionable phrase in this item has been for the purpose of enabling the Minister to use political influence. That naturally appeals to those honorable members who feel that they can always do something for their constituents by getting the ear of the Minister and begging for personal favours. That is the way in which certain lucky people can get a line of machinery which they may require placed by the Minister under a “duty-free” item. This objectionable phrase, I repeat, is entirely new. Item 175 of the 1914 Tariff says :-
Any dutiable machinery, or machine tool, or any part thereof specified in any proclamation issued by the Governor-General in pursuance of a joint address passed on the motion of Ministers by both Houses of the Parliament, stating that such machinery, machine tool, or part cannot be reasonably manufactured -within the Commonwealth, and that it should be admitted free; British, free; general, 10 per cent.
That is the procedure which has hitherto been followed. The Minister has had no power to declare that various lines of machinery, upon which this Parliament at one time or another had fixed duties, should be allowed to enter the Commonwealth free. I have had a list prepared of the machines which have been admitted duty free since March of 1920. It will be said, of course, that, since these various lines were not being manufactured, or could not be made, in Australia, it was only right that they should be admitted duty free ; but it is only the manufacturer who gets the concessions. Anyhow, they include the following: -
Machines for wrapping confectionery.
Paper finishing, cutting, and folding.
Boilers for flour mills:
Shell forging presses.
Brazing and steaming machines and all component parts thereof except brushware and leatherware for use in manufacture of yarns (for use in the manufacture of textiles) and textiles.
Evaporators for use in production of alkali.
Machines for affixing to wheels rubber carriage tyres having an internal wire or wires.
Machines for close jointing rubber carriage tyres having an internal wire or wires after attachment to tyre.
Swaging machines for tube making.
Electrodes of graphite for use in the production of metals, sulphur, chemicals, and lead sulphate.
Photographic developing, washing and toning machines.
Photographic exposing, typewriting, and cutting machine (automatic).
Weaving machines for manufacturing reed or basket work from cordage made of paper.
Woodworking - bobbin and spool barrel boring and reaming machine, bobbin and spool barrel turning lathes.
Barbed wire making machine.
With respect to the last-mentioned item, a Western Australian gentleman some time ago imported one of these machines. He subsequently told me he had been compelled to pay duty at the rate of 45 per cent. I advised him that, under instructions issued by the Minister, the machine was being admitted free. He thereupon made representations to the Customs Department, and eventually secured a rebate of the amount of duty which he had been called upon to pay.
– The honorable member will admit that, unless there is corruption, this method to which he objects is a scientific one ?
– Some extraordinary things have happened in the Customs Department.
– I have never heard of corruption.
– Is this not opening the door to it?
– This is the outcome of a recommendation of the InterState Commission.
– I do not care whose recommendation it may have been. The method opens the door to a very bad practice.
– It is opening the door to the assistance and encouragement of some of the best industries in Australia.
– It is strange to hear the ‘Minister speaking like that.
– At any rate, I cannot understand the honorable member’s mind or appreciate the consistency of his arguments.
– The Treasurer on consistency is remarkable. The position amounts to this: that Australian manufacturers have not to pay any duty on certain lines of machinery which they need in their factories, and which lines are not made in Australia, and which, incidentally, have a life of forty years or more; while the miner, the pastoralist, and the agriculturist, when they need machinery - the life of which, I might add by way of comparison, is only five to eight years - have to pay duties as high as 45 per cent. Is that fair or just?
– It is not a fair way of putting the matter.
– I shall further quote various machines which have been introduced duty free, by specific intervention of the Minister, since March of last year -
Machine for manufacture of textile pom poms.
Furnaces - annealing, case-hardening, tempering, and similar processes.
Coating attachment for photographic plate, coating machine.
Forging machines for manufacture of bolts, nuts, and rivets and similar materials.
Diesel engine to each firm of engineers in Australia.
Presses - hydraulic extension.
Cutters - pneumatic rivet.
Paper- finishing, cutting, and folding, viz., plate eccentric screens for screening pulp.
Millspaugh’s patent suction couch and press rolls.
Baths for use in process of galvanizing.
Motion picture for reproducing (printing) positive copies from original film negatives.
Machines - transformers, rotary converters, alternating and direct current switch gear for controlling current from transformers and rotary converters for use in the manufacture of electrolytic zinc and by-products.
Doubling and filling machines (also known as universal winding and doubling machines) for winding silk or cotton from the bobbins to quills or small cops, for use in the manufacture of wovensmallware.
Soap and candle making - candle moulding machines, turbine centrifugal patent fat extractors, automatic soap presses, automatic power soap-cutting tables, automatic power soap-slabbing machines, continuous wicking self-fitting candle machines, packing and wrapping machines combined or separate.
Carding machines, teasing machines, for use in the manufacture of yarns and textiles from marine fibre.
Diamond cutting and sawing machines and accessories.
Rotary drying machines for use in the manufacture of sheep dip.
Bulldozer forging machines.
Carbon paper coating . machines.
Typewriter ribbon preparing machines (inks and winds ribbon on spools).
Gas engines and electric alternators, direct coupled or for direct coupling when imported for use in the production of Portland cement.
Magnetic pulleys for use in . the manufacture of sheep dip.
Presses for embossing leather and plates for use therewith.
Carbon electrodes (17 inches in diameter by 60 to 70 inches in length, including screwed nipples therefor for use in the . production of steel ) .
Drills for use in drilling machines.
Brushes, brass wire scratch for use on metalpolishing machines.
Stone channellers for quarrying stone or marble.
Metals - Copper plates known as stripper or starting -plates of No. 16 or thicker gauge and of which the length and width both exceed 30 Inches when imported for use in the production of electrolytic copper,
– In regard to all these things the necessary regulation” has to he laid on the table of Parliament.
– When were regulations dealing with these numerous lines laid on the table ? And, in any case, ho w many honorable members read the Gazette? The question is whether the duties which have been imposed in various forms and in varying amounts by past Parliaments are to have continued effect; or whether, because some manufacturer, by political favour, has gained the ear of the Minister and made out a convincing case, those duties are to be abrogated. I was thunderstruck last year, when making certain inquiries regarding the cost of copper sheets, and while seeking information and endeavouring to get the duty reduced, to discover that the large sheets of copper, which are not manufactured here, were coming in free, under item 404. That item reads -
Materials and minor articles, as prescribed by departmental by-laws, for use in the manufacture of goods within the Commonwealth.
– Beyond the honorable member’s fear of corruption,he has not a single argument.
– I object to political pressure. I am satisfied that the Minister himself would not have promulgated many of the rates of duty which have been decided upon by this Committee. Eor example, will the Minister say that such a. high duty as has been placed upon bananas was justifiable?
– Will the honorable member say that, in all that list of machinery which he read as coming in free, there was a single item that ought not to have been permitted to enter free?
– I am not going into details.
– The Minister went into the necessary details before agreeing to make them duty free. This is a Protective Tariff,- and not a revenue Tariff.
– Suppose that a mineowner wants a machine which cannot be made in Australia. How is he to know that the Minister has been remitting the duty upon that particular type of machine ?
SirRobert Best. - But the Minister could not have done so until the regulation had been laid on the table of the House.
– The public do not know anything about that
– The interested public can always ascertain, the exact position throughthe Customs Department.
– I recall tihe instance of the Tasmanian Government importing a large quantity -of machinery, such as water turbines, generators, and transformers. Great political pressure was brought to bear. I wrote for particulars, and a promise was made that they would be supplied me. But suddenly the Minister issued an order making the provision retrospective to the date of the introduction of the Tariff schedule, and under that order, either the whole, or a majority of the items comprised in the list, were admitted duty free. I contend that such a power should not be placed in the hands of any Minister.
– If those articles cannot be manufactured in Australia, they ought to be admitted free.
– If a man enters into a contract for the delivery of certain goods which are subject to specific duties, and if those duties are afterwards remitted, the position is a pretty bad one.
– It is all right, because that position, has been provided for.
– We all heard the statement, of the Minister the other evening, that he was admitting tramway rails as appliances of machinery.
– Does the honorable member object to tramway rails being thus admitted ?
– I do not; but it shows in what an elastic way the item may be administered. But. the Tariff should distinctly set out what items are upon the free list. It should not be open to any Minister to remove dutiable goods to that list. We: know that to-day high Tariff rates are increasing the cost of living, and until the cost -of living declines very considerably we shall not be able to get back to normal -conditions;
– Perhaps the situation can be met by placing’ this- responsibility in the hands of the Board which it is proposed to- create.
– I intend to move to strike out the- word “ machines.” I cannot understand why honorable members are prepared’ to sacrifice their rights. I hold that, when once this Committee, has determined’ that certain, duties, shall be imposed upon any article,, those duties should be collected,, and’ the Minister should’ not be clothed with. power to remit them.
– Parliament itself created this position.
– I deny that. “It has been created by the Minister.
– Provision for it is ‘ contained in the Customs Act.
– The Act was framed to meet very minor contingencies, and the Minister has considerably extended it.
– The schedule is perfectly clear. We all know the action which the Minister took in regard to navvy shovels.
– That action was not taken under this item.
– The Minister included those shovels in a special item- of the- Tariff. It was currently rumoured that many thousands of pounds were made by persons who purchased them only a few days before a duty was imposed upon them. It is this sort of thing which Creates suspicion in the public mind.
– Does the honorable member know anything about the matter ?
Mr.GREGORY. -No ; only from the general-‘ statements that were- made.
– Then d’oes he think that it is a fair thing to mention it?
– If I had known the facts of the case, I can assure the Minister that I would’ have ventilated them long ago. He must realize the position which will be created if there be the slightest leakage from his Department, of which he will not always be the head. To a very great extent, the- honorable gentleman must- be advised by his departmental officers, and we are being invited to clothe that Department with . the power to say that’ any of the machines with which we have been dealing shall be included in this item, and shall be admitted’ duty free. I move -
That the following words he added: - “And on and- after 16th June; 1921, Machine tools and appliances, as prescribed, by departmental by-laws, ad; val., British, free; inter- - mediate; 5: per cent. ; general, l0- per cent.”’
– I am surprised at the honorable member foe Dampier (Mr. Gregory) suggesting- that the alteration in the wording, of. this, item has been adopted by me. owing, to pressure which has been brought to bear upon me by the Prime Minister. So far from his statement being true, if the Prime Minister were subjected to a third degree examination, I do not suppose that he could tell honorable members what is contained in a single line of the Tariff, and certainly he does not know anything about this particular item. Now, I shall tell the Committee from where I got the wording of the item. The honorable member has repeatedly told us that I should have followed the recommendations of the Inter-State Commission. I have done so in regard to this particular item. I thought that the honorable member had studied the reports of that Commission.
– We tore them up when we found that the Minister did not follow the recommendations . of the Commission.
– When the Inter-State Commission recommended that this particular wording should be adopted, and gave excellent reasons in support of its recommendation, I adopted it. I have not followed it in one particular, however, inasmuch as I have not included the words, “Provided they are not commercially manufactured in the Commonwealth.” But I have not the slightest objection to the insertion of those words, because they merely reflect what, as a matter of practice, has always been done. Let me tell honorable members how this thing is worked. When we receive an application for the free admission of any particular class of machinery, we immediately ask the applicant to support it with declarations from a number of prominent manufacturers in the line that they do not manufacture that class of machinery. We then proceed to make independent inquiries as to whether it is manufactured in Australia. It is only when an application is definitely supported in the way I have outlined, and when we cannot find anybody who is prepared to manufacture it, that the machinery to which it relates is placed upon the free list. In practice, the definition to which I have referred has always been followed. As a matter of strict definition, a machine tool is a machine which is used only in an engineer’s shop.
– Not necessarily.
– That is what is known in the trade as a machine tool.
Such tools are used only in engineering establishments. They do not include the ordinary machines which are used in manufacturing operations. As a matter of fact, in the working of the Department, the definition which I have quoted has been generally applied. Let me give an instance of this. I visited a factory a little while ago in which a machine was being used for the packing of goods. An empty carton went in at one end, passed along a machine which cut off a piece of paper, and the carton was then filled, weighed, and finally shot off the machine. I do not know whether that machine is a machine tool or an appliance. To my mind it is both. The honorable member for Dampier has suggested that the adoption of this proposal may open the door to corruption. I think that it would be an extremely difficult thing for corruption to occur in connexion with it, for the simple reason that it can be applied only when goods are not manufactured in the country. That is the test. Suppose that any Minister were to say, “I am going to allow So-and-So to have certain machinery free of duty, notwithstanding that it is being manufactured in Australia,” what sort of hornet’s nest would he immediately draw around his devoted head? He would not be able to stand against the opposition which would be created for a single instant. One of my greatest anxieties about the operation of this departmental by-law is that I may make a slip.
– Here is a particular case in which you allowed certain machinery to come in free to the 27th August, 1920, and in which you make it dutiable from the 31st December next.
– From the informa- ‘ tion supplied by the honorable member I cannot say definitely what was the position. In that particular instance we, probably, found that somebody was about to start manufacturing, that the whole of his operations were tied up pending the delivery of certain machinery, and that later on somebody else was going to manufacture that machinery here. It was probably to meet some special case of that kind that the action in question was taken. But had we done any wrong upon that occasion, Parliament would have learned of it within a very short space of time. As to the application of this item, if honorable members will turn to item 176, they will find a sub-item which reads, “Machines and machinery n.e.i.” It is one of those drag-net items in the Tariff in which practically everything in the way of machinery is included. It includes every class of machinery, and a vast quantity which is not made in this country. It is impossible to set out in detail in the Tariff all the various classes of machines in existence, or that may come into existence. Take any industry that is being conducted in Australia today. The honorable member for Dampier is always telling us that the local manufacturer ought to be efficient. He certainly ought to be; and if there is invented in some other country a machine which revolutionizes the methods of production in his industry, it is necessary, in order that he may compete, that he shall obtain that machine. Does the honorable member suggest that, it is right that we should charge duty on that new machine ?
– I am afraid we would have great trouble if it happened to be an agricultural machine.
– Such a machine, like everything else, would be dealt with on. its merits. There are quite a number of things which have come under my notice from time to time to which free entry has been given. The honorable member must recognise that to impose the full duty on a machine which cannot be made in this country - and the test all the time is as to whether the machine can be made here - would be to impose immediately on the local manufacturer requiring the machine an additional overhead charge as compared with his competitors abroad, and thus to put him in a relatively worse position. This is not a case where the machine in question is made in this country, but where it is not made here, and in such circumstances we would put the local manufacturer requiring that machine in so much worse a position than that of the manufacturer abroad. As a consequence, we would then have to give him additional protection to enable him to compete. Wherein would lie the wisdom of such a procedure? From a Protectionist point of view, one could not excuse or condone it. It would be nonsensical to load the manufacturer here with a huge additional overhead charge in respect of machinery which could not be made here. And so we interpret this item in a way in which I believe the Parliament intended that it should be interpreted.
– Will that apply to agricultural machinery which is not made in this country ?
– So far as one can say in regard to machinery that is not made here, and which is not a competitor with machines that are already being made here-
– Or if the requirements of the country were not met, how would the item apply?
– The question is not as to the requirements of the country being met, but rather as to whether the machine is made here. In adopting this wording of the item - and I admit that the change, to some extent, widens the interpretation - I am following a definite recommendation of the Inter- State Commission, which reported that -
The authority afforded by this item has been largely utilized, and a perusal of the list of machines exempted from duty under its provisions indicates that its interpretation has been of great service to Australian industries. The Commission recommends that the item should he amended to read, “ Machines, machine tools and appliances, provided they are not commercially manufactured in the Commonwealth, as prescribed by departmental bylaws.”
The Inter-State Commission inquired into the whole position, and reported that it was desirable that the alteration should be made.
I have only one other matter, to deal with at this stage. The honorable member for Dampier said that we should have retained item 175 in the form in which it appeared in the old Tariff.
– I said the word “ machines “ should be struck out.
– The reason why we struck out the old item 175 was that, al- . though it had been in the Tariff from thevery beginning, I think - certainly since 1908 - it had never once been operated. That shows clearly that the means adopted there were for all practical purposes inoperative, and it seemed to me that it was not desirable in those circumstances to continue something which was of no effect. I have asked the Committee on this occasion, therefore, to agree to its being struck out. I assure the honorable member that I believe this alteration in the wording of the item will prove to be beneficial to the industries and the people of Australia.
– Are we to understand that the principle is to be made applicable to all industries, including the agricultural industry?
– Provided that the machine comes within the - definition, and is not covered by any specific item. The manufacture of machinery ir. this country is developing all the time, and under the item to which I have referred, namely, “ Machines and machinery, n.e.i.,” which is dutiable, there falls a vast quantity of machinery which at present is nob made here. The definite intention of the Parliament in regard to the operation of the Tariff has been that, as a machine is made here, it shall automatically become dutiable. Over and over again I have been criticised for operating the item in the opposite direction. The intention of the Parliament is that it shall be operative in both ways. It- intended that a machine which is not being made in this country, but is required here, should be brought in under the free list. But it is equally intended that when a machine is made here it shall go back under the duty. In other words, Parliament, in the first place, -makes all machinery dutiable. It then gives the Minister power to release it from duty, but it also gives him the power, once a machine is being made here, to impose the duty that Parliament has allotted to it. That is the way in which the whole machinery of the Tariff operates. I admit that it gives to myself and my officers a great deal of work. It involves also a responsibility which one feels sometimes one would like to put on some one else’s shoulders.
– But we must have Tariff elasticity if the system is to be workable.
– That is so.
– The manufacturer gets his machinery free of duty and his parts of machinery under item 404 are also free of duty. He should be compelled to pay like other people.
– He pays duty on everything that is made here. The quantity of machinery which is imported under item 404 as compared with the enormous mass of machinery that is going into the various manufactories of the Commonwealth, is a mere drop in the bucket. To say that our manufacturersget their machinery free in that broad sense is to say what is absolutely incorrect. We cannot specify certain machines which are not made in this country. In many cases, we do not know what they are. They are machines which are not yet invented, or which may comealong as a result of new processes of manufacture. If we knew of all thathings that might be done in this country we could set them out in a long schedule,, and Parliament could say definitely whether or not they should be free. But we do not know what they are. And so*Parliament says, first of all, “ All machinery is dutiable.” Then it gives theMinister power to release machinery from duties. That is the way in which theTariff has been operated from the inception of the Commonwealth, and it will have to be continued in that way if we are to have the necessary elasticity.
Mr. HECTOR LAMOND (Illawarra> [5.35]. - I presume that we shall have an opportunity to discuss the method under: which these items are lifted in and out of the Tariff when the clause under which? the authority is given comes before us.
– This item is the clause.
– But them must be a clause giving the Minister thi* power.
– That provision is in th& Customs Act now, and will not come upfor review.
– I find that in this Tariff a power that has hitherto been exercised over inconsiderable items has been extended to a rangeso wide that no one can say what may be done under it. That being so, I think the Committee ought to very carefully review the circumstances under which this power can be exercised. We are fortunate in having, in charge of the Department of Trade and Customs to-day, a Minister against whom the breath of suspicion cannot lie. That gives us an opportunity of discussing these mattersentirely free from any personal application, and we should therefore provide such safeguards as will make it impossible for future Ministers to be subjected to? grave suspicion without being able to protect themselves unless specific charges are made. That is the position of every man who is called upon to exercise autocratic powers over matters which affect the interests of sections or individuals in the community. There is no doubt that the power conferred by this clause is such as to make it very much to the interests of some people- importers or manufacturers - to have it operated in either one way or the other. I think it very unwise for Parliament to allow its power of supervision over this matter to pass to the Minister individually, particularly when it covers so wide a range of articles as are. included by the change made in the wording of the item. It is scarcely open to the Minister (Mr. Greene) to rely on a report of the Inter state Commission in this instance, when he has rejected so many of the other reports made by the same authority. I admit at once that it is necessary that some body should have authority to do this thing; but it is highly undesirable that it should rest in the hands of one man without the supervision of Parliament. It places a Minister in a position” in which he should not be placed if other remedies are available, and it seems to me that in this case other remedies are available. The Minister, before taking action, should be moved either by specified officials of the Department or by some specified authority.
– He cannot move until the matter is brought up by his officers.
– That is the departmental routine.
– I mean that, as a matter of fact, in practipe, it would otherwise be impossible.
– The officers who have to take action are gentlemen who look to. the Minister for those recommendations which assure their professional future..
– Possibly it will be a matter for the proposed Bo.ard.
– The Minister may be glad to. have, the responsibility placed on the Board; A system of the kind has operated in the past,but it is now sought to operate it in much more important matters, and to- give the Minister greatly- increased powers.
I think the Inter-State Commission might have gone further. It is quite possible for a local industry to be established on so small a scale as to be utterly useless as ameans of supplying the whole requirements of Australia, and yet the existence of some such trifling enterprise may give the Minister power to impose a tax on every user of the commodity produced.
– The industry must be on a commercial basis.
– That does not mean that an industry shall be able to supply all the requirements of Australia, but that the commodity produced can be sold at a commercial price. In the case of mangles, for instance, with which we dealt a little while ago, we had no information to show that even ten of any description are produced in a year in Australia. Yet because, somewhere or other, a little industry has been established, as to which, as I say, we have no information, every user is to be taxed. That, I think, is a principle for which, we cannot stand. It is laid down that, if there is an industry producing an article on a commercial basis, the Tariff shall operate, and the whole of the power is placed in the hands of the Minister alone. It is, of course, a great power for any Minister to exercise, and there ought to be every possible safeguard. I further think that the decisions of the Minister should be brought before Parliament in some more definite way than simply in the form of a document handed in with a host of others from time to time. The assent of Parliament should be necessary for these changes at some stage. There cannot be the slightest objection to such subsidiary Tariff arrangements coming before Parliament every quarter, halfyear, or year ; and in that way honorable members would be kept informed of what was being done. Then greater publicity ought to be given to these decisions ; the people interested in the particular industry ought to have the fullest notice of what is proposed. I venture to say that not one-half of the members of this House knew that the Minister possessed this extraordinary power until the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) informed us that the Minister could make items free, and could give retrospective relief, as in the case of Tasmania, involving ‘thousands of pounds. I feel quite sure that honorable members generally did not know that by the mere official publication of a document such things could be done. At any rate, it was certainly news to me; and I think there should be some method of either requiring the consent of Parliament to the decisions, or providing that the latter shall be placed before us in some definite way, so that there may be the constant check of publicity on the actions, nominally of the Minister, but really of the officers of the Department.
– There is full publicity now; it is quite impossible to do anything in secret. If there was anything wrong, those interested would very soon know.
– That is the safeguard.
– Quite so; it would be impossible to do anything wrong without immediately raising a storm.
– It is the only safeguard we have.
– And I think it is pretty effective.
– That is, we have power to “lock the stable after the horse is gone.”
– Not at all.
– Take a case in which the Minister makes an order that is retrospective for several months - the fact that the thing is done, and the concession granted, cannot be altered if objection is subsequently taken. The real check is the fear of the Minister that if he does anything wrong it will he immediately exposed. Wherever possible, this sort of business should be done in the open day, rather than by the Minister, on the recommendation of departmental officers, without Parliament knowing anything at all of the matter.
.- I should like the Minister (Mr. Greene) to indicate what is the practice in other countries.
– So far as I can learn, there are, in some form or another, similar provisions in most other countries.
– I am much averse to legislation by regulation, and the responsibility under discussion is a very serious one to impose on any Minister and his officers. I think, however, that there are sufficient safeguards. There are alwayspeople interested in any decisions of the kind, and if the Minister or his officersare guilty of any malpractice, it will soon come to the knowledge of some member of Parliament, and be discussed herei Again, I take it that the new Board will from time to time be called into consultation on matters of the kind. I understand that the Board will be in a position to recommend, for instance, that a duty shall be imposed in the case of an industry which is coming into being; at any rate, the Board will doubtless be able to render the Minister some assistance. There is one fact in connexion with the Customs Department on which we may congratulate ourselves. We are very fortunate in having the services of the present ControllerGeneral, who, like his predecessors, has for years followed the practice of selecting the most brainy men for special tr aining, with the result that now, I believe, the Department stands in the happy position of possessing some of the most efficient officers to be found in any part of the world. This is a practice which: “might well be adopted in all the Departments, both Commonwealth and State Another fact on which we may congratulate ourselves is that, neither in the case of the present Minister nor any of hist predecessors, has there been any suspicion: in regard to their integrity in the work of administration.
– “ How oft the sight of means to do ill deeds “ !
– I know; and, as I say, no one is more averse than myself to legislation by regulation. But we seem to be living in times more abnormal than ever, making it essential to give powers of the kind under proper safeguards to the Minister and his officers, and, of course, also to the proposed” Board, in order that industries already established, or in prospect, may be assisted. If theproposal of the Minister goes to the vote, I shall support it.
– From my practical experience, I am led to largely indorse the statement” made by the Minister (Mr. Greene). Theprinciple involved in this item is absolutely essential for the effective workingof the Tariff; there must be a certain degree of elasticity. The same verbiage- maynot, perhaps, appear in every Tariff throughout the -world, yet this elasticity is. provided for, either through Customs Commissioners, Commissioners of Taxa- tionsome Board, or Ministers themselves.
Mr.Hector Lamond. - There is a difference between the Minister and a Board, or Commissioners.
– I am at present speaking of the principle involved. The next point is publicity, and I call the attention of honorable members to the fact that the schedule provides that the item shall bo applied as prescribed by departmental by-laws - the latter meaning by-laws made by the Minister and published in the Gazette. The first point, it will ‘be seen, is the publication in the Gazette, which circulates throughout Australia. The information may also be published in the newspapers.
– You mean that the by-law is the -actual determination ?
– Quite so. I admit that the by-law does not go through all the formalities usually associated with a regulation, but the enactment of the order by the Minister, and its publication in the Gazette, -constitute a departmental by-law for this particular . purpose. As the Minister says, it is obvious that there are many “watch-dogs” about. The Minister must, first of all, . protect himself by an assurance that the- commodity in question’ can be commercially . produced in Australia, and to that end he requires certificates from the leading manufacturers in the line in support of the application. Many industries owe their origin to the fact that it was made. possible to obtain patented machines free of duty. In some cases if duty had had to be paid on a machine worth, perhaps, ?100,000, the duty might be anything from ?25,000 to ?40,000, representing all the difference between starting and not starting an industry. I quite admit that it is possible, as in many other Departments - although surrounded by such safeguards it is not likely- that there may be corruption, and that _ a degree of influence may be exercised on a Minister. I have urged for many years the creation of a Tariff Board, and I am glad that the present Minister proposes to appoint one, which I trust will be composed of experts, for the purpose of guid ing Parliament in these matters. It maybe advisable, when the Bill is introduced, for the Minister to consider the wisdom of including a clause to the effect that before this item operates it must receive the recommendation of the Tariff Board.’
– -As a matter of fact, I propose to do that. That was one of the objects I had in bringing the Board into existence. I felt the responsibility on my own shoulders, and felt that I would like to shed it.
– I sympathise with the Minister, and regard his decision as a very proper and wise precaution. - I would urge on the honorable,member-for Illawarra (Mr. Hector Lamond) that it would be a grave mistake to submit- anything of the kind to Parliament) as it would mean serious delay.
– I explained, when speaking, that the old item 175 had been in the Tariff for years, but hadnever been used.
– To. submit these things to . Parliament for its sanction would altogether destroy the value of the provision. “We could never get anything done promptly. If it is to be effective, provision mustmade for expedition, and if action’can-.be taken expeditiously - as it has been in many- cases - it will add largely to the value of what we are doing. With, the Minister’s assurance that provision will be made in that regard when the Bill is introduced, the Committee may readily accept the item as it stands.
Item agreed to.
Item 175 (Apparatus for liquefaction of gases) agreed to.
Item 176 (Roller bearings, &c.).
. The wording of the item as it stands does not do all that we desire. I therefore move
That paragraph(a) be amended by adding the following; - -“’ And on and after 16th June, 1921- (a)Roller bearings -and ball bearings . not being roller-bearing or ball-bearing- Plummer or hanger blocks,, ad val. British, free; intermediate, 5 percent.; general, 10 per cent.”
Amendment agreed:. to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item , 177-
Locomotives, traction and . portable . engines, road rollers n.e.i., including scarifier attackmenta, ad vai., Britian, 27½ per cent.: intermediate, ‘35 per cent.; general, 40 percent.” ‘
. -Certain classes . of traction engines are npt made in this country, particularly ‘ the very heavy kind, which is used for heavy ploughing work, where the ploughs are operated by a cable Tvhich is drawn between the engines,, one of which stajids on . pither . side of tiie piece of iland which is being ploughed. The only place where these engines are being made is England. Not many of them are likely to be used here,’ and, so far as I know, they . are never owned by individual land-ownerB. as the plant is too expensive. They travel from places to place, and so muuh an acre is charged for the ground they break up. They alsp do draining work) and are very good for breaking up swamp land. Wo do not want to include those machines in this item. There are . also certain other oliisses of traction engines which we do not want to include. The effect of the amendment which I shall now move will be to exolude altogether from the operation of the duty those classes qf traction engines which are not made in Australia. I move -
That the item be amended by adding tiie following: - ‘‘And on and after16th June, 1921,
– Do those covet the . petrol-driven traction engines?
– No; I think all the petrol-driven engines come under another designation.
– I. would urge on the Minister the advisableno?s of increasing the duty on this item in accordance with the recommendation of . thie Iii’ter^tajle’ Ooinmissiop. It should be remembered that we have made the cost of the steel’ higher than was anticipated when the Inter-State Commission made their recommendation. ‘They recommend duties of 33i per . oenti British and 45 per. cent, general, and that rate is what I. would like the Minister- to adopt. Mr. lust joe . -Higgins lias recently given . an award reducing the working hours in the industry from forty^eight,. as they were when the Commission . sat, to foJty-four. There has also “been a general reduction in wages in ‘Great Britain and America of about 20 per cent. Therequest I am making , is, therefore, only reasonable, and I think it -applies also to> item 176; but that has already -been passed. It should also apply to . item 178.
– ‘The honorable member is probably thinking. of sab-item o of item 178-‘’’ Motive power machinery and appliances (except electric), n.e.i., ad val.r British, 27$ per cent.; intermediate, 35- per cent. ; general, 40 per cent.?’ : TheInterState Commission recommend that the duty should be: British, 32 J per cent.j general, 45 per cent.
– Having brought thematter under the Minister’s notice, I should like, him to consider whether he can increase tho duty pu thia item as well.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended; agreed to.
Item 178 (Motive power machinery : and appliances except electric).
– I now ask the Minister to . adopt the recommendation pf the Inter-State Commission for . an increase of the duty oit sub-item c, “n.e.i.,” to 32$ per cent. British . and 45 per cent, general.
.- I think that in this itfmi I iave followed . the reoommemda^ions of. the Inter-State Commission.
Mr.Fenton. - The information I have hero is ..that- the Inter- State Conimissiori recbmm«in4ed ifchat the duty should be inr creased as stated by the honorable member for Wide Bay.
– That is -not my information.
Item agreed to.
Item 179 (Electrical machines and appliances).
– I have a letter dated 9.th May from the Fremantle Municipal Tramway and lighting Bear.d, stating that -they wereexpecting the -arrival of certain electrical material, and informing me that’ they had communicated with the Customs Department enclosing letters from the English Electrical Company and Gr. Weymouth and Company advising that neither of these firms was able to manufacture the requirements of the Perth State trams or the Fremantle’ municipal tramways. They deal with turbine generators of over 5,000 kilowatt capacity, rotary converters., electrical motors, and equipment for cars. My informant advises. me. that they were expecting delivery of a rotary converter at a cost of £6,000. As these machines are not manufactured in Australia, I should like to know if the Minister oan give some relief? .
– They will be in exactly the same position as other machinery. If we can give them relief under item 174 we shall . do so.
– I am satisfied with the Minister’s explanation that relief may be given under item 174 if the machinery complies with the conditions laid down this afternoon.
– The same complaint is made by a great many corporations and public bodies in connexion with the installation of. heavy electrical plant. I am not quite clear whether item 174 will apply to specific cases or to a certain class of machinery.
– If a specific case is stated action will be taken under item 174 to release that particular machine from the operation of the Tariff, and the decision will stand so long as the by-law is in existence in Tegard to every case that may arise.
– In the old Tariff there was a limit of horse-power. That seemed to be the difficulty, because the special class of machinery required for these huge concerns, was subjected to a duty of 40 per cent.
– I agree, and that is why we operate item 174.
– Has it operated in every such case?
– In every case in which we could do so conscientiously; that is to say, in regard to machinery which cannot ‘be manufactured in Australia.
– There is no attempt to manufacture such machinery.
– I hardly agree with the honorable member. Some very big contracts have been accepted.
– Parliament ought to know what is.” being done in regard to enterprises, of the kind mentioned. ; Here is a great scheme for the conversion of water-power into electrical energy for industrial enterprises in cities and country towns, and it is met by a Tariff operating in a way never intended by . Parliament. The provisions of item 174 leave it the sport of Ministers and departmental officials, thus making it impossible for any business men to engage in any such enterprises. Under the general Tariff a business man has the written document to consult and see how he stands, but when the duty may be remitted at the will of a Minister no man will know his exact position. Under the system at present in operation, one duty is suspended for three months, another is made retrospective for six months, while another may run for twelve months, thus making confusion worse confounded. A business man wants to look ahead, and to be able to see where he stands.
– He could find out without very much trouble.
– These business men have not the knowledge of the Minister regarding the operation of the Tariff, and I venture to say it will be news to many of them to know that this system is in operation.
– Nearly all of them know it already.
– A big “contract has been let quite recently to a British firm. They know all about the operation of this Tariff.
– Then how is it that complaints are coming from municipal and shire councils in New South Wales, as well as other big bodies controlling large enterprises? These secret treaties in connexion with the Tariff ought to have been avoided if possible. Parliament does not intend to impose a duty upon machinery that cannot be made in Australia, and so inthese items we ought to be able to say definitely what class of machinery is protected and what class is not. These big high-.class machines, such as are required by the
Sydney City Council, are certainly not being made in Australia.
– Some of the very largest machines for the Sydney City Council are being made in Australia.
– This must be news to many honorable members, because it has been reported recently that the Cockatoo Island Dockyard has refused to make certain machinery for the Sydney City Council, and we have been informed that it cannot be made anywhere else in Australia. This reported refusal by the dockyard officials is understood to be responsible for some of the unemployment at that establishment, but now the Minister tells us that Borne of the machinery referred to is being made here. One wants to know where the truth lies in this matter. Australian requirements in these enormously powered machines will hardly warrant the installation of big plants to meet the demand, and so we ought to have a definite assurance that these enterprises are not going to be handicapped by the failure of the Tariff to give a definite expression to the intention of Parliament.
.- The electrical industry is developing in this country, and during the last few years has made most wonderful strides. The advance of electrical engineering, in Australia reads almost like a romance.
– I am afraid there is a little romance about some of the statements that have been made concerning it.
– I am sorry I have not with me a photograph of a turbine generator which is in course of construction now for the Sydney municipal works, I think. Recently a transformer of 150,000 volts waa made in Western Australia.
– That is correct.
– That is one of the highest tension machines that has been made in this country to date; in fact, there are few machines of higher tension made. I mention these two instances as an indication of what is taking place. I should be loath to take any steps which would prevent this development, because I feel that, in the progress of the electrical industry in Australia, lies the solu tion of many of our problems. We are only on the fringe of what can be accomplished with hydro-electric power. I agree with the honorable member for Illawarra (Mr. Hector Lamond) that it would be a grave mistake to put a duty on these machines if they are nob being made in Australia, but this industry is growing rapidly, and we are passing necessarily from stage to stage in the progress of development. Things are being done to-day in the Commonwealth the mere suggestion of which ten years ago would have been received with laughter. In regard to the complaints mentioned by the honorable member for Illawarra, a number of gentlemen waited on me recently, and I told them frankly that I was not prepared to allow the large free entry of goods for which they were asking, but that whenever they could show that the local manufacturer waa unable to produce the goods they required, or to give delivery within a reasonable period, the . duty would be waived. If delivery cannot be given for two or three years ahead, and a machine is required immediately, it is useless to impose a duty. I told them that the decision of the Department would depend on the special circumstances surrounding each application. Wherever necessary we allow free entry, and that has been done particularly in connexion with the hydro-electric scheme put before us by the State Governments of New South Wales and Tasmania, and the Morwell scheme in Victoria. But when we have been asked for a remission of duties upon machines which are being made in this country, we have refused.
.- A large factory for the manufacture of electrical machinery has been established in New South Wales for some time, and additions to the premises are now being made. About £200,000 has been invested in the establishment, which now employs 355 hands. When the building is complete, 1,000 hands will be employed. This factory is engaging extensively in the class of work now under discussion.
– That establishment is dealing with general electrical appliances, but I was referring to special machines.
– We should encourage the local manufacture of the special machines also. A big effort is being made to supply all Australia’s requirements. We do not . yet know the possibilities of this industry, and it is one in respect of which the Commonwealth should be self-contained.
.- The honorable member for Illawarra (Mr. Hector Lamond) is unduly apprehensive as to the possible danger of the permissive clause in regard to the free importation of certain things which otherwise would be dutiable. The automatic process by which the goods are allowed to enter now is preferable to the older one, by which the introduction was a mere matter of decision by the Executive. In this case, we are safeguarded by conditions that are reasonable and right, namely, that the article is not being made in Australia, and is not likely to be made. Therefore, I think that even the most ardent Free Trader will agree that this is a power which certainly ought to exist in connexion with the Tariff, and which, if exercised in a proper way, will be advantageous to the industries of the Commonwealth. The honorable member has also said that certain electrical appliances cannot be made in Australia. I know that an effort was made a little while ago to convince the Minister that even some of the machines which are being made in Australia should be- allowed to enter the Commonwealth duty free. It so happens that transformers are being made in Western Australia, which, however, is so remote from the immediate interests of the majority of honorable members that they probably will not give that State credit for a manufacture of this kind. The following telegram from the manufacturers of electrical appliances in Western Australia is enlightening: -
Strongly protest against allegation that it is impossible to manufacture high-tension transformers in Australia. Output of our works last twelve months was fifty-three transformers, ranging from 6,000 to 150,000 volts, total, 1,450 kilowatts.
That is a pretty good record for Western Australia. If the honorable member for Illawarra cannot find firms in Sydney who can meet the requirements of some of the enterprises in his State, he might indicate to me what is lacking, and I assure him that the order will be taken in hand and carried out satisfactorily in Western Australia for New South Wales.
I shall not claim any commission on the transaction.
Item agreed to.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
Electrical and gas appliances, viz. : -
Amendment (by Mr. Greene) agreed to-
That the following words be added to subitem (d) : - “ And on and’ after16th June, 1921, Filament lamps for lighting and heating, per lb., British, ls.; intermediate and general, 3s.”
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Electrical articles and materials, viz.: -
Amendment (by Mr. Gbeene) agreed to- .
That the following words be inserted after sub-item (a) : - “And on and after 16th June, 1921, Arc lamps n.e.i.; covered cable and wire n.e.i.; electric vacuum tubes; measuring and recording instruments, ad val., British, free; intermediate, 5 per cent.; general, 15 per cent.”
.- I move -
That sub-item (b) be amended by inserting the figure (1) before the word “Cable”, and by adding the following words: - “ (2) Cables, telegraph and telephone, paper insulated, lead covered, on and after 1st October, 1922, ad val., British, 30 per cent.; intermediate, 40 per cent.; general, 45 per cent.”
– Does this amendment apply to telephone wire and connexions?
– If covered. It does not affect material imported by the PostmasterGeneral.
– Does it affect the main cables or the cross-country wires and independent lines?
– The wire used in the country is bare; the amendment relates only to covered wires. This is a deferred duty.
Amendment agreed to.
.- The Committee is asked to impose rates of 30, 35, -and 45 per cent, on carbon manufactures of all kinds, including carbon blocks. I am assured that those rates are insufficient to protect an industry which was established in consequence of a promise made by the Prime Minister during the war that companies formed to supply the needs of Australia at that time would subsequently receive every consideration from the Government. This company has spent between £10,000 and £15,000, and during the war supplied carbon at less than it could bo bought from importers, its price being £12 10s. per thousand, while imported cell carbons cost £40 per thousand. Now that the war is over, carbon cells are being imported from America, and probably from Germany through Great Britain, because, before the war, much of this material came from Germany. Those interested in motion pictures have circularized members in protest against the duties, pointing out that the local carbons are unsatisfactory. They desire to kill this industry.
– Does it need the protection, of a duty higher than 45 per cent. ? If so, it might as well be killed.
– Those interested in moving pictures are well able to support an Australian industry. With the least’ excuse, they increase the price of admission to their entertainments; as, for instance, when the musicians award slightly increased the pay of musicians.
– Then they will probably incrase their prices again if these rates are increased.
– Their prices are rapidly becoming so high that the public will refuse to pay them. Recently, I visited a picture theatre in Melbourne where the films were the cheapest that could be obtained, and it was a waste of time to look at them. We know that many persons have rapidly become exceedingly wealthy at the expense of the picture spectators. An industry which cam manufacture the’ carbon cells that Australia requires should receive more protection, if it cannot continue under the present duties.
– Would those who manufacture the films suffer, or only those who reproduce them 1
– If the manufacture of this material is discontinued, three factories, I understand, will close. This industry is only in its infancy, and can grow only if adequately protected. I hope that the Minister (Mr. Greene) will .consider the matter. Those interested in moving-picture shows are not deserving of more attention than others in the community.
.- I hope that the Minister (Mr. Greene) will give heed to the representations of the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton). In a letter that I have received from persons interested in the carbon industry in Australia, they say that their company recently tendered in Sydney for a contract, and was beaten by an American firm, which put in a price almost 50 per cent. less. They add that the Americans are determined to capture the carbon market of Australia. Prior to the war, Germany and Austria chiefly supplied the carbon used here, but the Australian firm, if it gets the protection that it seeks, will be able to meet the needs of this country in regard to carbon. Men who have invested their money in this business are satisfied that, if they get the protection which was practically promised to them, they will be able to build up an industry that will fully supply the needs of Australia. The opponents of this duty say that sufficient money cannot be raised in Australia for the purpose of establishing factories for the manufacture of all the different classes of carbons required by the various trades operating in the Commonwealth, because the manufacturers in the older countries of the world have not only more up-to-date machinery, but also the advantage of the world’s markets at their command. But our concern should be, not as to what is done in other countries, but as to whether we can build up industries here capable of supplying a/11 the needs of Australia. In order to enable them to be established here; I would build up a wall all round Australia, and prohibit the importation of any goods capable of being satisfactorily manufactured by ourselves, both, in regard to quantity and quality. I know that the picture-show proprietors are anxious to secure an article much below the Australian cost of production, but I am sure this Parliament will not listen to opposition of that nature when the life of young industries is at stake. One firm has already spent ?15,,000in the purchase of land, the erection of a building, and the installation of the necessary machinery for the manufacture of carbons; and it has undertaken to supply the whole of Australia’s carbon requirements. Our Government Departments were very glad to get the carbons made by this firm during the war; and surely now, armed with the assurance that the company will provide the necessary quantity and quality, the Minister should favorably consider the request of these people for the increase of the duty by another 5 or 10 per cent. The wishes of the picture-show proprietors are a secondary consideration. I have not asked the Minister for much during the consideration of the Tariff, but I hope that the request I am putting forward will appeal to his common sense, provided the people manufacturing these carbons can supply the whole of the needs of Australia, which I am sure they can do.
.- The industry referred to by the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Francis) was commenced during the war, and did some very useful work in turning out carbons which, -according to the evidence given by users, quite outside the picture film people, have given satisfaction. In framing the Tariff, I took into consideration the service rendered by this industry during the war, and fixed rates of duty which I think ought to be sufficient. I am not quite satisfied . that the company which is now making the carbons is managed on the best lines, but I am satisfied that if it increases its efficiency it will find the duties provided quite ample. In the circumstances, I do not feel disposed to increase the rates.
– I have not received one of the circulars in opposition to these duties. It is about the only . one issued to honorable . members that I have not received, but my general knowledge of the subject will- stand me in good stead. I have, however, read the circular forwarded by the company referred to by the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Francis). My information is that these people are not using graphite to the extent it should be used, and that they are making their carbons from coke. If that is the case, they cannot possibly compete with the carbons made in Great Britain, because the article used in picture shows must be guaranteed to stand a very high voltage. I have seen an Australian carbon side by side with a British carbon, and the evidence in favour of the British article was overwhelming. We have graphite in Australia, and there is no reason why it should not be used. An industry which seeks protection ought to be in a position to deliver the goods. I do not believe these people are doing so. Mr. Langley, an expert in picture-show work, who submitted the Australian carbons to a practical test covering a period of several months, has assured me that they do not approach the British article in any point. On one occasion he found that through the faultiness of the carbon he was using his machine was almost ruined, and if he had not had a stand-by, the show in which he was using the carbon could not have proceeded.. The . protection -on this item - 45 per cent, under the general Tariff - is about the highest protection afforded in the schedule. At any rate, it should be enough to induce any firm to make a good article. It is not worth while imposing a handicap upon’ other people unless the industry so protected can “ deliver the goods “ up to the amount of that handicap. The protection afforded in this instance is altogether too high. Mr. Langley is willing to . give a demonstration before any electrical expert nominated by the Government to prove that his evidence is correet. Those associated with him say that they are quite willing that this high duty should be imposed if their evidence is wrong, but that under presentconditions they moist use British carbon, -even if the duty be 60 per cent. However, they ; also say that if the Australian . manufacturer can produce carbon aap to the right standard, they will usenothing else. This isa fair proposition, and I think that the discussion on the item should be adjourned to enable this demonstration to be given. We are anxious to foster Australian industries on sound lines. Here is an opportunity of doing so. Let us have a demonstration that this industry is “ delivering the goods” up to the necessary standard. The same firms are agents for the Australian products. I have made inquiries from another source which show that if one desires to purchase Australian carbons they are not always available. There may be an understanding with some of these firms so that it may pay them ‘better to sell something that is not manufactured in Australia. That is what we should endeavour to prevent. My information was not obtained from the same source as the other information given to me by an expert who said that he was prepared to use the Australian product if it was as good as the British. He also said that he would be compelled to use the British product irrespective of the duty.
.- The honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Foley) appears to be full of information, but so far as I could gather he has not been quoting from any file. I have before me a most voluminous document from the Amalgamated Pictures Limited, which contains nothing but information, but after reading it, I have come to the conclusion that it is of little value; it would take a great deal to convince me on the arguments adduced by that body. I am not likely to alter my opinions in the slightest degree, on the evidence brought forward by this corporation, because all the arguments used against this Australian industry have been employed against other industries. For instance, they say that it is inadequately capitalized, and in answer to that I may say that there is nothing in the world to prevent them contributing the requisite funds. They also say that the products of the Australian Carbon Proprietary Limited are of unsatisfactory quality, and if there is anything in that, the same argument might be used against other industries. There is another statement in their circular letter - I do not think it is true - in which they say that biograph carbons used to cost £25 per 1,000, but owing to the new duties, and various other factors, the price has risen to £57 per 1,000. That may be so; but what do the other parties say ? The local manufacturers say that for various sizes they, the Ever Ready Company of Sydney, quoted 36s., 43s., 58s., 64s., and 220s. per 1,000 carbons. The prices for the imported article of the same type were 17s. 10d., 19s. 10d., 22s. 2d., 32s. lid., and 123s. 2d. per 1,000, and the opinion is expressed that these were German goods coming in as British. There has evidently been under-cutting to kill the local industry. The Australian Carbons Proprietary Limited say that when their company quoted the Ever Ready Company of Sydney for a large parcel of cell carbons, they were informed that their prices were about 50 per cent, higher than the quote from England notwithstanding that the quote was under the cost of production. They also state -
During the war, the cellmakers were charged £40 per 1,000 for cell carbons by importers, when my company were able to supply we quoted at £12 10s. per 1,000. The result ‘of this was that cellmakers were able to get orders for cells; to-day, two new firms - Widdis Company and Mcllwraith Company - are making cells, and only recently received an order for 150,000 cells from the Post Office. This order was only possible on account of our company being able to supply them with the carbons as required, and at a reasonable price.
I do not care to what extent the duties are increased. If an industry was worthy of support during the war, and could produce a satisfactory commodity, we should give it adequate protection. In the words of the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best), the higher the duty the lower the price. Of course, every one knows that when the rates are increased the importers bring down the price, in order to compete with internal competition. In this instance we can be a light to the world by producing our own carbons, and if the Amalgamated Pictures Limited want carbons, let them use those manufactured in Australia. Carbons used during the war period can be used in times of peace. I believe the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Foley) said that a duty of 45 per cent, was a sufficient handicap, but it all depends on how far a competitor has to run. A handicap of 45 per cent, over a short distance would be a great advantage, but over 100 miles it would not be of much use.
– The proportion is the same.
– Yes ; but a competitor would be “winded “ before he reached the post. The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) assured us that, if advantage is taken of the high Tariff, the provisions of a measure which he intends introducing will be applied, and in these circumstances the imposition of high duties will not be detrimental to the consumers. In order to give the -local company an opportunity to produce, I move-1-
That the item be amended by adding to sub-item (c) the following words : - “ And on and after 16th June, 1921, ad val., British, 45, per cent.; intermediate, 55 per cent.; general, 60 per cent.”
.- I am strongly opposed to the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey). There is one argument which I did not use when previously placing the position before the Committee, and I shall now submit it to the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) in the form of questions. Did the Australian Navy use Australian carbons in their searchlights during the war period? Did the Military Department use Australian carbons for military work? If the replies are in the affirmative, I am prepared to support the higher duties proposed; and, if not, they should be allowed to remain as they appear in the schedule.
.- If the Australian Navy did not use Australian carbons in the searchlights, and if the Australian Military Forces did not use Australian carbons for military work they should have done so.
.- I am in favour of having everything we require manufactured in Australia, and I shall always fight for increased duties. At the same time, I wish that the whole of this Tariff could be taken in globo, so that we could discuss the difference in exchange dumping Bill, which is to be introduced. I was surprised to learn from the Acting Prime Minister (Sir Joseph Cook) yesterday that the difference in exchange with Czecho-Slovakia is eleven times greater than it was in pre war days. Prior to the war, a German piano could be purchased in Berlin for £20, after allowing a fair profit to the seller. If the cost of production of that piano has increased by 100 per cent”, 200 per cent., or 800 per cent., the price on the last-mentioned rate would, therefore, be £60, which, phis another £20, makes it £80 for a £20 instrument. If £20 was sent, by permission of the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene), through the Melbourne Post Office, or if a credit was passed through to Great Britain, it would have . a purchasing power of £150, so on that basis three pianos could be purchased for what the pre-war price secured one, and a balance would still remain. That is a serious thing, and that is why I am strongly in favour of passing the Tariff so that we can deal with the other very important phase of the question. I believe it is the first time a Minister for Trade and Customs has promised to appoint a Board which will be able to go into the whole matter of Tariff charges. The honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) informed me this evening that we might endow that body with the powers that I understand exist in Japan, to follow up the goods even after they are sold. I have carefully perused the Tariffs in existence in other countries, but I had overlooked that important provision. I have received a communication from Williamsons Limited, but there is one paragraph in their letter which I resent very strongly. It reads -
We have assisted the carbon manufacturers here during the last two years by experimenting with the local products, in order to give them a fair trial. We have pointed out where the difficulties lie, but there has bren no improvement in the quality of the carbons. We are quite prepared to give you a practical demonstration by an expert as to the inferiority of the locally-made carbons, and the impossibility of using them on our biographic -machines.
These people are quite prepared to accept the money of Australian patrons at their shows, but are so unpatriotic that they do not desire to support Australian manufactures. I would like to see an advertisement displayed on their screen in these words, “Williamsons do not believe in using the carbons produced in this country.” Although these people are personal friends of mine, I feel it my duty as a true Protectionist to place this matter before them. Honorable members will recollect that during recent years the prices of admission have increased considerably, and some companies saved expense by eliminating musicians and placing “ hurdy-gurdy machines “ in their place.
– Williamsons do not do that.
– Perhaps not. I frequently attend picture shows, and find them interesting and instructive; but I want them to use Australian products. If the firm would exploit Australian pictures, I would be prepared, if they decided to start a factory in order to produce their own goods, to give them every encouragement by way of protective duties. I intend to support the amendment of the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey).
. - I hope the Committee will not be influenced by the statement of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Foley), to the effect that the Defence and Navy Departments are not using Australian carbons. If those Departments have not done so,” and are not doing so, the fact carries no weight as an argument against the quality of the Australian productions. The Postmaster-General’s Department uses them, as far as possible, in its activities; and, if we can protect the industry, as the amendment of the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) would do, all the Commonwealth Departments would be able to use these carbons, and they would find that they are of the very highest quality. The industry should have the degree of protection which it so richly earned by supplying Australia’s requirements during the war.
Question - That the words proposed to be added (Mr. Anstey’s amendment) be so added - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . 11
Question so resolved in the negative..
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 182 -
Bolts, nuts, rivets, and metal washers, n.e.i’. screws with nuts or for use with nuts; engineers’ set screws, ad val., British, 27½ per cent.;. intermediate, 35 per cent.; general, 40. percent.
.- I move-
That the following words he added: - “And on and after 16th June, 1921 -
My object in moving for these increases is to give reasonable protection to an industry which has been started in Australia practically since the armistice. The useof automatic machinery for the manufacture of a host of things in England during the war threw upon the market, at the end of the war, great quantities of very valuable machines, some of the best of which were sent out to Australia at very reasonable prices. The result has been that a number of new industries have been established which call for protection now, so that, in a world of keen and open competition, they may have a chance to become established and prosper. Amongthese is the manufacture of bright finished or milled screws, nuts, and so on. They- are made in quite a different way from the other lines mentioned in the item; and, in the course of their manufacture, the waste of material is so great that the rates of duty which permit the production of those other lines to be carried on successfully . are altogether insufficient for this new branch of the industry. Of the steel which goes originally into the factory, only one-third is sent out in the finished article. To put the position in another- manner, for every ton of manufactured goods, three tons of raw steel are required. I trust that the Minister will agree to the amendment, since the rates proposed are necessary to preserve an infant industry, which, even in its present state of development, is able to supply the whole of the wants of Australia to-day. Factories have- been established in Sydney and in Melbourne. I am not sure that there are others, hut I am authoritatively informed that those in existence are able to cater for all local requirements.
Mr. GREENE (Richmond-Minister for
Trade and Customs) [8.56].- I have looked into this matter, and was prepared to move an amendment which is not exactly on the lines of that of the honorable member for Illawarra, Subject to the withdrawal of his, I move-
That the item be amended by adding the following words: - “And on and after 16th June, 1921-Bolts, nuts, rivets, and metal washers, n.e.i.; screws with nuts or for use with nuts; engineers’ set screws -
The effect of my amendment will be similar to that of the honorable member for Illawarra, the only difference being that the rates of duty which I have indicated are not quite as high. I think, however, that they will prove sufficient.
Amendment (Mr. Hector Lamond’s), by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Mr. Greene) proposed.
-The only purpose of the amendment of the honorable member forIllawarra was to raise the price of the articles.
– I deny that.
– If the amendment wasnot for the purpose of raising prices, why did the honorable member move it ?
– I desire to reply to that interjection, because I wish my constituentsto know why I advocate higher duties. The honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) wishes to know why I moved as I did, if my purpose was not to give manufacturers an opportunity to raise their prices. In regard to nearly every item of the Tariff, I am confronted with the position that, if Australian industry is to have a fair chance, the Tariff must be sufficiently high to keep out the most cheaply produced foreign goods. In order to bring that about, such a Tariff must be imposed as would enable the local manufacturer, if he saw fit, to raise his prices to just below those at which the imported goods would have to be sold to cope with the duties. Thus, the Australian maker could improperly exploit the people. But I know that unless a high Tariff is given, Australia’s industries must struggle against a competition which they cannot overcome. I have arrived at the conclusion, therefore, that, in this Tariff, I shall go as far as theMinister is prepared to go in respect of most items, further than the Minister with regard to some, and not at all with him, possibly, concerning some others. Generally, however, I shall go as high as I believe is necessary to give to the local manufacturer a fair chance to capture the whole of the Australian trade. “When he secures that trade, he ought to be ableto reduce his prices.
– He will do it without any asking.
– If. he is a wise man he will do it without any asking, as the honorable member Sagely suggests. The biggest industries touched by this Tariff have done it without being asked. I shall extend to every industry which has a reasonable chance of capturing our market an opportunity to do so. If those engaged in these industries fail to act fairly, and this Parliament is always sitting, we shall then have an opportunity of treating our manufacturers as they deserve.
– Then make the duty high enough.
– I will make it high, enough to enable the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Gibson) to sell wheat in Australia continuously at 7s. or 8s. per bushel. I did not notice any reluctance on the part of the honorable member for “Wimmera to accept 9 s. per bushel for his wheat when he could get it.
– He did not get it, unfortunately.
– He did get it.
– He did not.
– Then he must manage his business badly. We have to admit that during the war period some manufacturers in this country treated the consumers shamefully, and if a difficulty be experienced to-night in getting justice for the manufacturer, it is because of the action of a very few of their number in extorting from the people the utmost farthing during a time of unparalleled stress. To say that all of our manufacturers did that would be to mislead the Committee.
– And some importers did it, too.
– If a comparison is to be instituted between the ability of the local manufacturer and the local importer to impose taxes upon the people, the honorable member has merely to look at the prices which he pays for goods which do not enter into competition with our own manufactures to obtain his answer. If an industry exists in Australia, this Parliament or the State Parliaments have the control of it in their hands. If those who are engaged in it do not “ play the game “ it is within the power of the Legislature to regulate that industry at every. step.For my own part, I prefer to have industries in Australia, where we can control them, to importing goods from other countries whose industries we cannot control.
Question - That the words proposed to be added (Mr. Greene’s amendment) be so added - put. The Committee divided.’
Majority . . . . 13
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 183 (Rivets, bifurcated), item 184 (Washers and rivets, copper), item 185 (Brake and plough screws, &c), and item 186 (Screw hooks, eyes, and rings), agreed to.
Nails, viz.: -
.- It will be noticed that there is an alternative ad valorem duty provided in this item. This duty was imposed with the intention of providing . an adequate measure of protection for certain classes of manufacture outside of wire nails - some of the smaller varieties of nails. We have found, as the result of experience of the operation of the Tariff, that the rate of duty set out in the schedule is unnecessarily high.
– That sounds better.
– It is just as well when we find that we have made too much provision by way of duty to frankly acknowledge it. When I introduced the Tariff I said that we did not suggest that our proposals were counsels pf perfection.
– They were very near to it.
– They were as near to it as we knew how to make them. In the operation of the Tariff it has been found that the present duty is unnecessarily high, and therefore I intend to ask the Committee to agree to a reduction of it and to cut out sub-item d. Accordingly I move -
That sub-item (c) be amended by adding the following words : - “ And on and after 16th June, 1921, per cwt., British, 5s. 6d.; intermediate, 6s. 6d.; general, 8s.; or ad. val., British, 25 per cent.; intermediate, 30 per cent.; general, 35 per cent., whichever rate returns the higher duty.”
I wish also to add to sub-item d the words - “ Up to and including tho 15th June, 1921.” The effect of these amendments will be to place horse-shoe nails under the ad valorem duty.
– Will they have the effect of lowering the duty upon horseshoe nails?
– They will slightly increase the duty upon horse-shoe nails, because we have found that the present duty is inadequate.
– The honorable gentleman said that the duty was too high just now.
– But in the schedule as it now stands, the ad valorem duty does not apply to horse-shoe nails.
– So we are going to lame our horses by using bad horse-shoe nails.
– Until a comparatively recent date, the Australian mann,facturers were supplying nearly the whole of our Commonwealth requirements in horse-shoe nails. I think that they supplied 90 per cent, of those requirements. But owing to competition from one source and another, they are now quite unable to compete successfully, with the result that they are producing only a very small proportion of our requirements. Accordingly, we provide for a reduction in the ad valorem duty, and propose to bring horse-shoe nails under that duty.
– Then the fixed duty upon horse-shoe nails will go out ?
– There will be a fixed duty, but it will not apply to horse-shoe nails. The ad valorem duty will be applicable to them.
– Then the Minister is increasing the duty.
– I have said that in regard to all nails other than horse-shoe nails this will mean a reduction of duty, but that it involves an increase in the duty on horse-shoe nails.
.- When the Minister (Mr. Greene) announced that he proposed to move an amendment providing for a reduced duty, I thought the reduction would apply to the duty on horse-shoe nails. I am extremely disappointed that it does not do so. If there is any article in respect of which it is essential we should have the best quality for use, I should say it is horseshoe nails. While the Minister was. speaking, I heard an honorable member interject that the Australian-made article, as usual, was of no value, and it is frequently said that Australians will not use any article made in Australia if they can avoid doing so. Such statements are absolutely absurd^ and it should be unnecessary to dwell on them. To say that a farrier objects to use an Australian horse-shoe nail solely on the ground that it is not an imported article is ridiculous. The farriers surely know which is the better article, and I have been assured by a number of them that until quite recently it was almost impossible to obtain a good horse-shoe nail. Those used during recent years have been almost exclusively of Australian manufacture. As the Minister has explained, the imported article is now coming into use again, and the Australian manufacturer finds it hard to carry on against this competition.. Unless, however, the Australian manufacturer can make an article equal to that which can be imported, we are not justified in giving him any protection. I regret that the Minister cannot see his way to reduce instead of proposing to increase the protection on horse-shoe nails. Although not a farrier, I have been compelled occasionally to nail on a horse-shoe, and I know how important it is that only nails of the best quality should be used for such a purpose. I therefore consider that the Minister is scarcely justified in proposing to increase instead of to reduce the protection on horse-shoe nails until he has assured himself that the locallymanufactured article is equal to that which is imported.
.- Regret has been expressed that the amendment proposed by the Minister (Mr. Greene) does not mean a reduction of the duties under this item. Taking the item as a whole, however, we find that it will mean a reduction, since it will apply to picture nails, spikes, staples, tacks n.e.i., wire and other nails n.e.i., gimp pins, and spouting screws. In respect of all those articles, the duty under the general Tariff will be reduced to the extent of 10 per cent, if this amendment be carried. I should like to know exactly to what class of nails the reduction will apply. For instance, there is the ordinary wire nail used in building operations. Is that nail covered by another item ?
– No, it is included in this item.
– So that the duty on building nails will be reduced. The proposed reduction may affect the subsidiary industries of the iron works in the Newcastle district to which reference was made on a former occasion, Many of those factories, even with the existing duty, have not been working for eight or ten weeks, sp that if the duty is reduced we can say “ good-bye “ . to them.
– I am quitesatisfied as to the position, so far . as wire . nails are concerned.
– What about spikes? They , are manufactured . here, and are used freely throughout Australia.
– I amquite . satisfied that, so far as . the articles enumerated are concerned, thereduced duty will be quite . sufficient.
– Having no infpr.mation . to go upon, . I -thought . it well , to ascertain exactly what . would be ..the effect of the proposed . reduction. If ; the . Min ister is satisfied with the position, I have nothing more to say.
.- We are dealing with this item in the wrong way. If the Minister (Mr. Greene) had moved to raise the duty on saddlers’ tacks and lines of that kind, and to reduce the duty on horse-shoe nails, there would have been far more reason in his proposal. Inferior saddlers’ tacks and brads can do no serious harm, but the use of an inferior horse-shoe nail often leads to the laming of a horse. The Minister, like the rest of us, may some day have a long journey interrupted and the horse he is riding ruined as the result of the introduction of some of these bad nails, which are going to be forced on the community. It is dangerous to restrict in any way the choice of horse-shoe nails. Every mart with experience of horses must know that horses have been crippled by the use of inferior nails. I can bear out the statement made by the honorable member for Darwin (Mr. Bell) that one inferior nail is sufficient to ruin the best horse in” Australia. Th.e Minister would be well advised if he reconsidered the item. Every farrier likes to have a choice of nails, and different farriers use different brands. If we take away from a tradesman the nails to which he has been accustomed, we. may have a number of pricked horses and a horse with a pricked hoof is often ruined for life. The laming of one good horse a year would involve to the owner a loss greater than the profit -which the additional duty will give to the local manufacturer.
– If I thought there -was any reasonable ground for supposing that . the Australian horse-shoe nail was inferior, I would not ask the Committee to increase the duty on horseshoe nails. I know as well as does any honorable member who has been in , the country that an inferior horse-shoe “ nail is the last thing you want to meet with on a journey. The position, however,is roughly this : In 1905, a . manufacturer of horse-shoe nails here turned out 14,098 boxes, . each of 28 lbs. weight. That quantity -would shoe a . fair . number . ofhorses.. For -a number pf years laterhe turned out , well over 10,000 boxes. About 1912, however, competitionset . in,and last . year be turned , out only , 2,088 ‘boxes of nails. Here we have an industry which apparently gave to the Australian public complete satisfaction, as shown by its large output for some years. The manufacturer could not maintain his trade for a number of years unless his nails were giving satisfaction; but he now finds it impossible to compete with imports from outside. I am therefore asking the Committee to agree to this additional duty on horse-shoe nails. It will not work out at a much greater rate, but I think it will give that additional protection which will enable the manufacturer once more to carry on his industry.
.- I hope that the Committee will accept the amendment. The manufacturer referred to by the Minister (Mr. Greene) carries on his industry in the electorate of Bourke, and the figures as to his output are so conclusive that I purpose quoting a few of them. In 1905, this manufacturer sold 14,098 boxes of 28 lbs. each, and thereafter the number of boxes sold by him was as follows: - In 1906, 13,672; 1907, 13,267; 1908, 12,023; 1909, 12,906; 1910, 11,660; 1911, 10,269; 1912, 7,042; 1913, 5,979; 1914, 4,076; 1915, 5,741; 1916, 5,487; 1917, 5,524; 1918, 3,904; 1919, 1,686; and in 1920, 2,088.
– Did the introduction of motor cars make any difference?
– It must have made a slight difference, as is shown by the fact that omnibus horses have been eliminated in London. I trust that the Committee will accept the amendment of the Minister.
.- The arguments that have been advanced would be all very well if there had been no increase in the duties, or if, in those years referred to, they had been higher than they are now; I find, however, that in the 1908 Tariff the duties on horse-shoe nails were 7s. 6d. and 8s., whereas now they are 8s. 6d. to 12s. We, therefore, have to, look for some other reason for the locally-manufactured article dropping out of use. That cannot, be due to the Tariff, because the Tariff has been there all- the time ; and, apparently, under a lower rate the manufacturers did better than they are able to do now. The real reason^ as. already mentioned, is that the quality of the local article is not so good as that of” the imported article. Farriers like thebest of nails, and if they find that, with the local article they have to use two nails instead of one, and, at the same time, run; the risk of crippling the horses, all theduties in the world will not keep such nails in use. The duties of 8s. 6d. to 12s. are extremely heavy, and if the quality of the local article is as good as that of the imported, they have ample protection forthe industry. Costs are rising in all’ directions, and we do not know when this is going to end. The Minister (Mr. Greene) tells us that this schedule was carefully considered and approved by the Cabinet, and that it has been at work fora year and a half, and yet, at the last minute, he proposes amendments which, in nearly every case, have an upward” direction.
.- I think the Minister (Mr. Greene) would be well advised to separate this item of horse-shoe nails, around which, up to thepresent, the whole discussion has centred, for the effect of his amendment is to alterthe whole incidence of the taxation on other nails.
– I intended to do that, because we discovered that the duties werehigher than they need be.
– Are they higher in this Tariff than in the last?
– It happens that awiredrawing industry in New South Wales, as stated by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton), has been closed down for two months on account of” the importation of wire of the particular-, size required for fencing.
-Nail-making is still going on, as I saw myself.
– The honorable gentleman saw only one machine working;, and I would remind the Minister that the main factory of this company is in Melbourne. We are told by the Minister that the duties proposed will afford ampleprotection,’ but we have had no time to consider the facts and circumstances. People have been employed in- theindustry under the present Tariff, and we are now faced with a proposal: that it be reduced. The Minister should, tell, us why, he regards; these’ duties- as ample.
It is true that in New South Wales there was one machine going, hut the whole work of wire-drawing has ceased.
– The wire-drawing work was not going on.
– I suggest that the consideration of horse-shoe nails he postponed, or these nails separated from the others with which they are associated. There are proposalsby the Minister in this division to which I have no objection ; but when we know that the wire-drawing work has ceased - though the nail-making is going on - we ought to be shown the effect of the proposed reduction.
– The proposal before us is absolutely monstrous.
– I am proposing to reduce the duties on all the items except horse-shoe nails.
– I mean that it is monstrous to bring horse-shoe nails within this category.
– However, I suggest a postponement of the consideration of the item of horse-shoe nails, so that we way be in a position to know exactly what we are doing.
.- It may seem a simple process to place horse-shoe nails under the ad valorem duties, but I point out that at present the duties are 8s. 6d., 10s. 6d., and 12s., whereas in 1914 they were 7s. 6d. and 8s. By the amendment proposed, we shall increase the 8s. 6d. to 21s. per cwt., the 10s. 6d. to 25s. per cwt., and the 12s. to 29s. per cwt., on the assumption that nails are £84 per ton.
– My advice is that the price is £58 per ton.
– If that be so, it is out of all reason to ask for the proposed duty. I suggest that the item be postponed until we are in possession of further information regarding it. There seems to be some doubt about the price, but I may say that the information I have is from one of the, manufacturers through an officer of the Customs Department.
– I agree to postpone the item.
Item 188 (Ammunition) agreed to.
Item 189 (Arms).
.-It would be a pity that this item should be allowed to go without comment. I have taken very little part in this business of increasing the cost of living during the last few days. It has gone on satisfactorily and pleasantly without my assistance, but for once I should be in favour of a very substantial duty. I should like to move, but I do not say that I will doso, to substitute for the duties mentioned in the schedule duties of, say, 50 per cent, all round without discrimination, with aview to the introduction of subsequent legislation designed to prevent the manufacture of these articles within the Commonwealth. If a satisfactory duty were imposed for the purpose of making it difficult to import them, we might be prepared to -deal with the other matter afterwards with an open mind. I leave the question to the Committee in the confident belief that when they see I* am favorable to a high duty they will rally round me and give me the support which, in the special circumstances I deserve. The item deals with revolvers and pistols, amongst other lethal weapons. It would be fine if we could prevent their importation, and discourage, as far as this Parliament is able to do so, their free and easy use by youths of seventeen and eighteen in the streets of Melbourne. It is becoming so fashionable to carry a gun nowadays, that a man who is not an expert gunman after having gone to the picture shows about a dozen times is not fit to move in polite society in Melbourne, or indeed, I am sure, in any of the other State capitals. The Minister (Mr. Greene) does not seem disposed to tell me to what extent the bayonet industry, for instance, is flourishing in the Commonwealth. I should like to be assured that we have a good stock of bayonets in hand ready for the day on which we shall have really made the world safe for Democracy and reduced armaments to the standard that the allied nations and our late enemies are endeavouring to reach at the present time by vigorous competition in ‘ the manufacture of lethal weapons of various kinds. I have at times, with a single or double-barrel gun, done considerable useful execution amongst rabbits and other such game; and, therefore, I do not feel that the duty in the case of those articles should be so high as on others. I hope that, with the encouraging lead I have now given to the Committee, the Minister will not be afraid to propose an increased duty in this item, because, after all, it is only part of the great scheme of exploiting our unexploited resources, to which he has referred at least 150 times in the course of this inspiring debate. In the circumstances, I hope, therefore, that a substantial duty, yea even a prohibitive duty, will be imposed upon these weapons of destruction, and that we shall then suspend the consideration of the Tariff for a few days for the purpose of passing legislation designed to prevent their manufacture within the Commonwealth.
Item agreed to.
Item 190 (Irons), item 191 (Metal bedsteads, &c), and item 192 (Brasswork, &c), agreed to.
Item 193 (Capsules, lead).
– I propose to make this item cover all capsules, whether of lead or some other metal, when not made here. I move -
That the item be amended by adding the following words: - “And on and after 16th June, 1921 -
Capsules, metallic, for bottles, ad val., British free; intermediate, 5 per cent.; general, 10 per cent.”
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 194 (Chain and chains).
.- I draw the Minister’s attention to the big increase in the duty on all chains. I desire to ask him if he is favorable to a considerable reduction. Chains are an essential item for the farmers in the bush. The increase of duty is big, particularly in view of the enormous increase in the cost of all these articles, because an ad valorem duty makes the cost ever so much higher. Will the Minister agree to bring the duty back to the old rates of 20 and 25 per cent.?
– The chain that is dutiable does not include the variety of which the honorable member speaks. I presume he is talking of trace and similar chains.
– My advice was that the item did include them. That is why I spoke.
– It does not include trace chains and others of that sort. It takes in heavy chains, which are being made here, and not the light chains to which the honorable member refers. It is not -our intention to include them, because they are not made here.
.The item would include log-hauling chains, chains for bullock teams, and chains used for cranes. I cannot see any justification for the increase of duty. I understand that the 26 per cent, rate in the old Tariff was satisfactory. I do not know whether the Minister (Mr. Greene) has received applications for these . increases, or whether the object is to make the item harmonize with items that we have already passed. Unless there is some explanation of that sort, I do not see why this tremendous increase of duty should be imposed on articles which are absolutely essential to nearly every industry, and especially the primary industries. It will operate on the chains used on tractors and all that class of work. All that will be excluded is the small trace chains for single and double ploughs, and light work of that sort. The duty will be another handicap on the man on the land.
– It will operate on chains used for all mining purposes and all timber purposes.
– Yes. Unless there is some reasonable explanation from the Minister, which we have not yet had, I do not see why this increase should have been made.
.- My information is that not one per cent, of these chains are made in Australia. If somebody says that in the dim and distant future he is going to begin to make them in Australia, the duty might be justified, but if we make only one percent, of them the most rabid high Protectionist in the Committee will not say that these rates are fair. There is no doubt that they will hit the timber industry in particular. They will operate on the chains used by every log-hauling team and appliance, and in crane work, as the honorable member for Nepean (Mr. Bowden) says. In all the heaviest work, steel or iron chains of at least inch diameter are used. There is something wrong, about the item, or the Minister and his
Department must have received information which has led them to introduce -it. It would help us greatly to have that information. In its absence, these seem abnormal duties to put on articles which we have not begun to make here, ov which, so far as our knowledge goes, are not likely to be made here for a consider- able time.
.- I should like to point out that machine driving, sprocket and link belting chains, made wholly or partly of malleable cast iron, are largely used in the country, and I do not think they are being manufactured in Australia.
.- We are not putting a duty on any chains that are not being made in Australia. In Tegard to the particular chains mentioned by the honor- able’ member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Foley), my information is that one manufacturer alone is employing thirty men, and is turning out between 5 and6 tons per week, his output including ship steering, mooring, crane, and hauling chains. He has made a number for the Commonwealth Line of Steam-ships- There are also other manufacturers in the Commonwealth. I understand there’ havebeen considerable developments in the industry since this Tariff was introdaiced, A good deal of - consideration has been given to this item. I think our manufacturers will be able to supply all . ourrequire memts.
– What about the . machine driving sprocket land link belting chains mentioned in sub-item b ?
– They arebeing made here by the Meadowbank Manufacturing Co., . Sydney, and . the United Engineering and Malleable Co. Pty. Ltd., Melbourne. The latter, com-pany is turning out about 2 tons per week. The Meadowbank Manufacturing -Co., <ofSydney, are a pretty bigConcern, ‘and Ihave nodoubt that they . are . in aposition -to manufacture a considerable quantity..
Item . agreed to.
Item 195 (Ammonia and gas . cylin- ders),; and item . 196 . (Crucibles,metal), agreed to.
Item . 197 - (A.)P latedwaren.e.i; spoons, forks, and butter, fish, . and fruit knives of mixed metalware, platedware, or when -partly or wholly of gold or silver except , when having plated or silver ferrules only, ad val., British, 35 per cent.; intermediate, 40 per cent.; general, 50 per cent.
Amendment (by Mr. Greene) agreed to-
That sub-item (A) be amended by adding the following words : - “ And on and after 16tn June, 1921-
Platedware n.e.i.; spoons, forks, butter, fish, and fruit knives, plated or of mixed metal; cutlery, spoons, and forks, partly or wholly of gold or silver, except when gold ferruled or silver ferruled only, ad val., British, 35 per cent.; intermediate, 40 per cent.; general, 50 per cent.
.- I I move -
That sub-item (b) be . amended by adding the following words: - “And on and after 16th June, 1921-
We are providing for this deferred duty because we . believe that spoons, forks, and cutlery will be manufactured in Australia before long. The duty will only he applied in the event of the manufacture being undertaken on . a sufficiently large scale to justify its imposition, and the protection, I think, will be . sufficient to induce the manufacture on a ‘large scale of the articles referred to. In -‘the actual process -there is noltih’ing “beyond the capacity of Australian manufacturers, and the industry should give employment to a large number of people, because these articles are ‘required in every ‘household in Australia.
-Is there any special reason why, in sub-item a,the general Tariff should be 50 per cent. Has there been any capturing of British trade “by the American ‘Community Plate?
– There has been a considerable increase in importations from countries other . than ‘Great Britain. In 1913, out of importations valued at £292,000, Great Britain supplied £247,000 worth; but in 1918-19 the importations from other countries were over £120,000 in value.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 198 (Diving apparatus), item 199 (Electrotypes’ and stereotypes), item 200 (Eyelets and, eyelet hooks), item 201 (Fasteners, machine belt), item 202 (Thimbles and block fasteners for lasts), and item 203 (Fire extinguishers), agreed to.
Kettles and cooking utensils (but not including stoves) of cast iron (tinned or plain),
Aluminium or nickel, ad. val., British, 15 per cent.; intermediate, 20 per cent.; general, 25 per cent.
.- I wish to make special provision for aluminium or nickel kettles and cooking utensils, as it has been found that the duties on these articles are insufficient to insure the establishment of the industry here. I move, therefore -
That the item be amended . by adding the following: - “ And on and after 16th June, 1921 -
Kettles and cooking utensils (but not including stoves), viz.: -
Since this Tariff was framed there have been considerable developments . in the manufacture of aluminium goods in Australia. In 1920 the value of imported aluminium cooking utensils was £45,000; but we believe that by. the end of this year the development of the local industry will be such as to be able to provide for the whole of our requirements in this class of good’s. The manufacturers state, however, that unless they can get additional protection it will be impossible for them to cany on. I have gone carefully into the item, and I think that, in the circumstances, the duties I am now proposing, while not being very high, will enable the local manufacturers to get a fair share of tfhe Australian trade.
.- The Minister (Mr. Greene) has just told us that, under the present Tariff, the Australian manufacturers of this class of goods are fast capturing the home market. We may assume, therefore, that the duties are sufficient; but apparently the
Minister argues that, because of that fact, and because the local manufacturers are fast capturing the Australian trade, we should give them more protection. That is the height of absurdity.
– In do not oppose the proposed increases of duty, for I do not think the Australian manufacturer of these articles can be said to be taking undue advantage of the protection he has been receiving in the past. In a retail shop in Sydney, I saw two aluminium kettles identically the same. For the American article the salesman asked me 35s. 6d., and for the Australian article 25s. He admitted that the Australian article was as good as, if not better than, the imported one. Although the existing duty is only 20 iper cent., the local product was selling at from 33 to 40 per cent, less than the foreign. From what I have seen of locally-made aluminium articles, I think that, in regard to both durability and finish, they are at least as good as the foreign article. This is an industry that should be encouraged.
..- Will the Minister (Mr. Greene) include in this item fire-less cookers? The fireless cooker is a thermos box made of sheet steel or wood lined with aluminium, and insulated with asbestos. It is, therefore, not a stove. It is manufactured under a patent process, and it would not pay any firm to install a plant for a limited output. I do not think that at present any of these cookers are- made- in Australia. They are imported under item No. 208, and bear a 45 per cent. duty. They are of great assistance to people who have occasion to be absent from their homes during the day, and who appreciate the convenience of being able to have. their meals cooked and kept warm during their absence; I desire these articles transferred from item 208 to item 204.
.- This matter has been before me on many occa-. sions. So far as I can see, the fireless cooker is a direct competitor with the metal stove, and the general principle of the Tariff is that substitutes are subject to the same rate of duty as is the article for which they are substituted. I cannot sec my way clear to bring fireless cookers under item 204.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Steel knives for hand tobacco-cutters and hand tin-openers, ad val., British, free; intermediate, 5 per cent.; general, 10 per cent.
.- This is one of the most surprising items in the schedule. The Minister (Mr. Greene) proposes to allow tin-openers to be imported free of duty. Here is an opportunity of opening up a new and great industry that will employ hundreds of people. Perhaps because of the unholy combination with honorable members opposite, the Minister would not dare to put a duty on hand tobacco-cutters, but I cannot understand how he has overlooked the possibility of establishing an industry for the manufacture of tin-openers.
– Will the Minister say why corkscrews were omitted?
– A steel knife is not put in a corkscrew.
Item agreed to.
– I move -
That sub-item (b) be amended by adding after the words “ 35 per cent.” (general Tariff column) the words “ And on and after 16th June, 1921, general, 40 per cent.
The reason for this amendment is that Great Britain has lost a very large proportion of this trade, and I therefore ask the Committee to consent to an increase in the general Tariff.
.- On item 192, relating to brass work, bronze work, and gun- metal work for general engineering and plumbing, the Committee imposed a general Tariff of 45 per cent. There is not nearly as much workmanship in those materials as there is in lamps employed by plumbers, painters, carpenters, and other tradesmen. Prior to the war, none of those lamps were manufactured in Australia, but now an article is being produced that is so superior that the Government should give the industry every encouragement. The inventors have evolved a true Bunssn burner which develops a heat of 1,200 degrees with a flame that includes 90 per cent, of air. A further advantage in the local article is that the parts are riveted together, and in every resoect it is superior to the imported lamp. The industry, however, is menaced by Japanese competition, and the Minister . would be well advised if he agreed to increase the duty under the general Tariff to 45 per cent.
– I think what I am doing is sufficient.
– Of course, if the Government have made up their minds in regard to this article, I might as well address my remarks to a brick wall; but that is no proof that the Government are doing the right thing. I know that the people who are manufacturing these lamps in Australia had a hard struggle during the years of war. Having been closely connected with the metal trades, I know that the importers have bled the Australian purchaser more heavily in regard to these items than in connexion with any other imports. These lamps are necessary to various tradesmen, and for their sake, as well as for the purpose of encouraging a local industry, the duty should be increased.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Greene) agreed to-
That sub-item (c) be amended by the omission of the words “Primus and other.”
Amendment (by Mr. West) negatived -
That sub-item (c) be further amended by the addition of the following words: - “And on and after 16th June, 1921, ad val., British, 35 per cent.; intermediate, 40 per cent.; general, 45 per cent.”
.- I move-
That sub-item (d) be amended by the addition of the following words: - “And on and after 16th June, 1921, ad val., British, 25 per cent.; intermediate, 35 per cent.; general, 40 per cent.”
I hope that the Committee will agree to this increase of the rates on incandescent mantles. Owing “to the competition of importers, the trade of the local manufacturers of these articles is diminishing, and hands are being turned off. Three firms in Australia make these mantles, one of which expects soon to have an output of 400 gross per week, and another makes 1,736 gross per annum. They are not all conducting their operations in the same way, but they are all actually making mantles. The number of employees in the industry is large, and, as the local manufacturers are able to supply the requirements of Australia, I think that they should be sufficiently protected to allow them to do so.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 207 (Lamps, Miners’ safety).
.- I understand that no miners’ safety lamps are made in Australia, and that very few are imported, except from Great Britain.
Mr.Foley. - Only one kind of lamp comes from the United States of America, and the miners will not use it.
– The amount of duty collected under this item last year was only £90, which shows that practically all the lamps used in Australia come from the United Kingdom.
Item agreed to.
Manufactures of metal n.e.i., ad val., British, 35 per cent.; intermediate, 40 per cent.; general, 45 per cent.
– I hope that the Committee will increase these duties. The articles which have been exhibited in the Queen’s Hall demonstrate the merits of the Australian workmanship, which is of the highest quality. I should be glad if the consideration of this item could be postponed until to-morrow, so that other honorable members might visit, as I have done, the magnificent works which are being erected in the city of Melbourne for the carrying on of this industry, which, however, needs for its encouragement more protection than the Minister proposes to give to it. Builders’ hardware for brass finishing work is protected to the extent of 35 per cent. British, and 45 per cent, foreign, and during the twelve months these duties have been in operation the local industry has pushed ahead in competition with British and foreign trade, reducing prices considerably, but only enabling a bare profit to be made. However, since the imposition of these duties, an arbitration award has reduced the working hours of the employees, and increased their wages by 20 per cent. We are all agreeable that our industries should pay a wage based on the present high cost of living, but it is not fair to those industries that while the wages of the workers are increased the duties are not also increased, enabling the local manufacturers to compete with foreign manufacturers, who employ cheaper labour. A visit to the factory I have spoken of would convince honorable members and the Minister that more protection is needed.
Motion (by Sir Joseph Cook) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I told the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton). this afternoon that I expected to receive the preliminary count of the census today. I have it now. It is as follows: -
.- I take this opportunity of referring to an incident in connexion with the Tariff schedule. This evening, I have been informed by a big manufacturer as to the arrangement made with him by the Board of Trade, and, presumably, also by the Minister (Mr. Greene) for the manufacture of reapers and binders in Victoria. I am given to understand that negotiations were opened with him by the Board of Trade urging him to make an endeavour to commence the manufacture of these implements, which he had no desire to de-, and that, after some pressure upon him, he was given a definite promise by the Board of Trade that if he did so the duties contained in the Tariff schedule would be placed upon reapers and binders. If that is the position, I contend that it was the duty of the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) to bring the matter before Parliament, because one can readily realize how unfair it would be to a manufacturer if representations of that nature were made to him and he expended large sums of money in establishing an industry. It would be very unjust if the promise had been made by an irresponsible body or an irresponsible Minister. The proper course was not adopted, and as a similar instance may arise in the future, this Parliament - because Parliament and its members are pledged - should have the opportunity of expressing an opinion before the Government or a manufacturer is in any way committed. I mention this matter to enable the Minister for Trade and Customs to explain the position.
.- I desire to make a personal explanation in regard to an item in the Tariff schedule which has been passed by the Committee. The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Marr), who is at present attending the sittings of the Cockatoo Island Dock Commission in Sydney, asked me to bring before the Committee an amendment to item 180 e, which embodies accumulators for large electrical works. The matter is of considerable importance in connexion with some contracts which were pending, and which have since been cancelled owing to the high duties. These accumulators cannot be manufactured in Australia, and, after consultation with the Minister (Mr. Greene), I was informed that it was intended that they would either be omitted from the item or that a different . definition would be submitted which would cover what was wanted without- excluding more than was necessary. When the item in question. was> under consideration, I was called out of the chamber, and it was passed, so that I had no opportunity of discussing the matter or submitting an amendment. In fairness to the honorable member for Parkes I think it my duty o make this explanation,, particularly as I had promised to bring the matter before the Committee. I am to some extent to blame, but the Minister’ for Trade and Customs must also share a portion of the responsibility, because I had received an assurance from him to the effect that the point I raised would be provided for..
– In regard to- the point raised by the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory), I desire to say that I informed the Committee when the item was under consideration exactly what had happened. As far as my recollection serves me, the position was this: The Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen) was looking round for some new industry in which returned soldiers could be employed, and I believe he approached the agricultural machinery section of the Chamber of Manufactures, either directly or indirectly, in an endeavour to arrange for the establishment of an industry in which returned soldiers could be employed. It was out of those negotiations that the proposal arose for the manufacture of reapers and binders, mowers, and hay rakes. The question was submitted to the Board of Trade, so that it might recommend what, in the circumstances, would be a fair rate of duty to impose if that industry were established. It is not correct to say that the Board of Trade promised anything, because it has not any administrative power, and simply acts as an advisory body to the Government in connexion with matters referred to it. The Board of Trade, as such, cannot makeany promises, and it did not do so on this occasion.
– I am informed that a promise was definitely made.
– The Board of Trade did not make any promise, because it has not the power. It merely submits recommendations. The gentleman- referred to- was advised of the position, and that is
Why I adhered to the duties. The Government assured this person that if he started in the industry they would endeavour to impose certain duties; but it was explained at the time that he would commence operations at his own risk, because the verdict rested with Parliament, It was impossible for the Government to say what the duties would be. All the Government promised, if he started the industry, was to stand by the duties we were proposing; and that is why, after referring to mypapers,I found I had to adhere to the schedule.
In regard to the matter mentioned by the honorable member for Nepean (Mr. Bowden), . I may explain that for some time -past we have been endeavouring to get a”definition which would enable us to discriminate between various types of accumulators, but up to the present have been unable to do exactly what we wish. I may inform the honorable member that even if the Tariff goes through in its present form, there are means to do what he wishes if on inquiry we find that these particular accumulators are not made in Australia. I will promise the honorable member that the Government will do one of two things. We will either take action, after satisfying ourselves as to the correct procedure,under’ item 174 or some similar item, or we will recommit the item to give the honorable member the opportunity he desires.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.57 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 15 June 1921, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1921/19210615_reps_8_95/>.