8th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Deputy Speaker (HonJ.M. Chanter) took the chair at 2.30, and read prayers.
– It is stated in the South African newspapers, that the sending of unwholesomeflour to that country from Australia recently was due, not merelyto slipshod methods,but to the downright dishonesty of the exporters. I ask the Acting Prime Minister if inquiry has been made into the facts, and, if not, I ask that it may be made, so that the prestige of Australian exports may be maintained.
– The matter is under very serious consideration. Inferior flour was certainly sent to South Africa, but so far this is one of thosecasesin which nobody seems to he to blame. We are trying to get to the bottom of it, with a view to doing what the honorable member thinks should be done. I hope he will leave it at that for the moment.
– Yesterday a deputation of unemployed waited upon the Government ofNew South Wales to ask it for relief, and stated that the unemployment’ at Balmain, is extreme, but that thisunemployment could be lessened by the starting of work at the Cockatoo Docks by the Commonwealth Government. Does the Government intend to do anything in that direction?
– I understand that orders have been issued for the. resumption of work at Cockatoo Island as soon aspossible. The recommendation contained in the interimreport of the Royal Commission was that the Adelaide and another vessel should be completed by the new Board of Control within the terms of their appointment. The. members of the Board are now at the Island, or are due there, and the sooner they can arrange to get men back to work the better I shall be pleased.
– The following paragraph appears in this morning’s Argus: -
Probably never beforehas such a large number of third-class passengers, representing so many nationalities, left Autralia as the batch which sailed . by the Orient liner Ormonde from the new pier, Port Melbourne, yesterday afternoon for London. The steamer carried 900 steerage passengers, and of. this number 20 were Indians, 41 Jugo Slavs, 10 Germans, 19 Russians, 1 Dalmatian, 2 Danes, 8 Italians,1 Spaniard, 10 Greeks, 2 Belgians, and the remainder British……A considerable number of the British passengers wereyoung men, who had served in tha
British Army during the war, and had come to Australia in search of employment, but were returning.
I direct specialattention to the concluding sentence, which speaks of the number of young Britishers who are returning. The state of affairs disclosed is extraordinary, in view of our recent immigration legislation, and the campaign that has been launched to attract immigrants. Will the Acting Prime Minister cause inquiry to be instituted by the Immigration authorities, with a view to ascertaining the reason for the exodus of young men of whose services the country is so much in need?
– I am glad that the honorable member has asked the question, thoughI should have been better pleased had he givenme notice of it. The facts thathe has mentioned are serious, and are due, I think, to lack of organization. A number of young men came here from Great Britain, paying their own passages, but no arrangement was made for dealing with them on arrival. It was reported to me by Mr. Gullett, that a number of these immigrants were in very straitened circumstances in Sydney, and it was suggested that the Commonwealth Government should grant money for their relief. Iagreed to the expenditure of £5,000, on the condition that the Government of New South Wales should make available the same amount, and wrote a minute for the information of Mr. Hughes - this was before his departure for Great Britain - to the effect that the men should be looked after, and should not be allowed to starve in our cities.
– The return of men like these will kill the immigration campaign in the Old Country.
– I agree with the honorable member that it may have a bad effect upon it, and I said so in my minute. The State Government would not make the grant asked for.
– They are spending thousands a week.
-Yes; on their unemployed generally. They said that their own unemployed problem was acute, as no doubt it was. And they could not see their way to. close with our offer.
– And all the time the country is clamouring for development.
– That is true, but men may perish where there is plenty if there is a lack of organization, and the trouble now under consideration is due to the failure of organization, to put it mildly.
– Who is responsible?
– Certainly we are not, except in so far as we are responsible for the general condition of Australia. Nothing was done by the State Government of New South Wales, and last week I heard from the chaplain of one of the big church social organizations in Sydney that he was relieving a number of these immigrants, some of whom had wives and families, and had nothing to eat and no home to which they could go. I have made available to him £1,000 for the relief of those people. The whole scheme needs organization, and the great point is that we should take care that when immigrants come here there is an organization ready to receive them. There again we are up against our own limitations. The arrangement we made at the recent Conference in regard to immigration was that the Commonwealth would take full responsibility for the immigrants at the London end and attend to their passage to Australia, the States, on their part, undertaking to receive and deal with them onarrival, as is already being done by Western Australia and some of the other States. That was the division of work that was agreed upon, and I hope that the arrangement may soon be got into working order. There is, however, some little difficulty with the State Governments.
– There is room for thousands of domestic servants and farm labourers.
– We cannot find work for our own men. There are 100,000 men out of work in the Commonwealth
– There is work for them if they will work the same hours as the primary producer does.
– Badly off as we are in regard to unemployment, we are still better off thanany other country in the world. We have unemployed in Australia, but there is no country in. the world thathas not got them at present, and in very much larger numbers than they are here. This is a temporary difficulty, I hope, and we must try to get over it in thebest way we can.
– The unemployed trouble is much deeper than mere lack of organization.
– Order! This question is developing into an irregular debate.
– It is a very important matter, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and affects our reputation abroad and our immigration scheme most profoundly. I hope honorable members will believe that with our limitations and all the defects we have at present in regard to this organization, we are doing the best we can. We have the whole matter under review. I have already made £1,000 available for the relief of these cases, and Mr. Gullett is now at work upon this very problem, and I hope we may soon find some solution for it. Meanwhile, he is developing his organization. It has been already launched in Victoria with very good prospects, and I see that a similar organization was launched in Sydney last Monday. I had promised to be present, but was unable to leave Melbourne. We are doing all we can to get the organization under way, but the obligation is on the States to undertake responsibility at this end, while we undertake the responsibility in London. If the States will not take the responsibility here we must, and will. In the meantime, I agree that, in our present circumstances, we shall do well to encourage the immigration of domestic servants and nominated immigrants. The latter is the best of all forms of immigration, because when the people arrive here after having been nominated by their friends, there is a place to which they can go and get something to eat until they can shift for themselves. That class of immigration is being developed already, and we expect 30,000 or 40,000 new arrivals next year through this medium alone. But that is only a trickle, and we must look to the larger tide of immigration in the immediate future.
– In view of his statement that the immigration organization is not complete, and having regard to the fact that thousands of men are unemployed in the different States, necessitating heavy calls on all the Governments, will the Acting Prime Minister take into consideration the advisability of at once informing the immigration officials abroad that because of the position here immigration activity should be deferred for the time being?
– No; I will not.
– Whilst I realize that the electoral provisions of the Constitution can be amended only by the people themselves, I ask the Acting Prime Minister whether, prior to the redistribution of seats in accordance with the new proportions of population in the different States, he will afford the House an opportunity of discussing what is known as the formula for ascertaining the quota, which is pronounced by experts to be altogether ineffective and inequitable. If that is done, I am certain the House will do no injustice to any State. All I am asking for is a fair deal for all the States, so that we may arrive at a formula that will be just to all concerned.
– In my simplicity, I was not aware that there was anything occult, complex, or extremely difficult in ascertaining the quota for the electorates throughout the Commonwealth. I should think there would be no trouble about that, and I ask the honorable member to indicate where the difficulty lies.
– If the Acting Prime Minister will inquire of the experts in connexion with the Department or the Minister presiding over it, I think he will be told that there are some inequalities in the present system.
– I shall certainly ask my colleague to make inquiries at the earliest possible moment.
– Do the Government intend to appoint immediately under section 13 of the Electoral Act a Commission for alteringand defining the boundaries of constituencies?
– So far only an interim report upon the census has been made. The figures have still to be checked, so that it may be some little time before the final report is made, but immediately that comes to hand the matter to which the honorable member has referred must command the serious attention of the Government.
Illness of Dr. Earle Page;
– Paragraphs appear in each Melbourne morning paper reflecting on some honorable members of this House. I would like to know whether there is any means by which honorable members who leave their party at critical moments and fail to support their leader may be called to account?
– With the honorable member’s long experience of caucus methods, which, of course, are up to date, no doubt, he could enlighten the House upon many ways in which this could be done, and I suggest that some day when there is not much business of importance to be transacted he might do so.
– By way of personal explanation, I would like to say in reference to certain criticisms directed towards the Leader of the Country party (Dr. Earle Page) that his absence from the House is due to illness.
Position of Merchant Seevice Men
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
-The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– In all the correspondence and records of conferences I have seen, not only was there no promise made by the Prime Minister of monetary assistance for the development of this Burnett land scheme, but, on the contrary, there was a very definite statement by him that only in connexion with the further development of the Murray waters scheme, and the alteration of railway gauges to a uniform gauge, did the Commonwealth propose to give aid to the States in connexion with immigration schemes. Everything else was specifically excluded from the range of that aid. The honorable member will see all this in the following lengthy summary of what has taken place in connexion with the matter : -
Immigration and Land Settlement.
Premiers’ Conference, May, 1920.
At the Premiers’ Conference, held at Melbourne during the month of May, 1920, the following resolutions were carried: -
Resolved : “ That the proposals of the Prime Minister as follow: -
Commonwealth to have full control overseas;
Agents-General of the several States to form consultative committees in London;
Commonwealth to he responsible for, and have control of, all overseas organizations and transport arrangements for bringing immigrants to Australia;
Primary object of scheme to be the settlement of immigrants on the lands of Australia;
Type of immigrant - preference to be given to British ex-service men, Commonwealth to seek co-operation and assistance of British Government in obtaining right type of immigrant and of passages for same;
Commonwealth, to assume financial responsibility for organization for immigrants from overseas and transport to Australia;
The States to be responsible for immigrants from arrival in Australia, and for their settlement on suitable lands and/or employment on public works;
States to enter into an agreement with the Commonwealth, setting out in definite terms what they bind themselves to do in regard to providing -
other forms of assistance, such as depots, sustenance, general care of immigrants, employment on public works, particularly on unification of railway gauge and Murray Waters scheme,&c.- for (1) ex-service men;
Commonwealth and States to co-operate and consult from time to time as to the number of immigrants who can be absorbed, in the respective States, and the class of immigrants required.
The Commonwealth undertakes to assist the States by way of loans for approved land settlement and public works.”
Resolved: “That the Premiers undertake to submit the scheme for consideration by the respective State Cabinets.”
The Prime Minister, together with other Commonwealth Ministers, attended the Conference on the 24th May, when the proposals of the Commonwealth Government with regard to immigration were placed before the Conference by Mr. Hughes.
During the course of the debate, Mr. Hughes said - “ I must not be held to commit the Commonwealth to that proposal, if it is to be considered as part of the scheme, so that the scheme is itself contingent upon it. All that I say is this: That the scheme itself is limited clearly in the most definite way, and is under your control, because you are to say how many mcn you can Absorb, and what kind of men. Having agreed to that proposal, with that first addendum, if you ask, ‘ Are you prepared to consider the question of advancing loans for the purpose of this scheme on public works approved by you?’ I say, ‘We are prepared to consider it; but we do not say with regard to public works other than the Murray River and the unification of railway gauge that we will provide the money.’ In regard to the unification of gauge, we do say that we will provide the money. As far as developmental railways are concerned, I may remark that I shall look very favorably on them, because I do not think we can spend our money in any better way.”
Premiers’ Conference, July, 1920.
At a further Conference, held at Melbourne during the period 16th to 20th July, 1920, between the Commonwealth and State Ministers, the proposals outlined in the first resolution with regard to immigration passed at the former Conference were re-affirmed, and the Conference decided that a scheme should be drawn up by the Commonwealth and submitted to the State Governments for approval.
With regard to the second addendum to the first resolution, however, the Prime Minister stated that the Commonwealth Government would not undertake to give any assistance except in respect of the Murray River waters scheme and the construction of a uniform railway gauge throughout Australia.
During the debate in connexion with this matter, Mr. Fihelly asked the Prime Minister what money would be made available for public works ?
Mr. Hughes replied that the Commonwealth Government was prepared to co-operate in all these public works undertakings to the extent of the mutual resources of the Commonwealth and State, but it could not go beyond that. He stated that the Murray Waters Scheme could be expedited, the Unification of the railway gauges undertaken, also any other public works that might be suggested, and upon which agreement might be arrived at. He also stated that the Commonwealth was prepared to cooperate to the fullest extent, because immigration was essential to the welfare and safety of Australia.
Mr. Fihelly then pointed out that Queensland offered exceptional facilities for the settlement of the largestnumber of immigrants, and added that the Murray Water Scheme did not interest Queensland as a State. He intimated also that the same applied to the Unification of the railway gauges, because that would merely connect Brisbane with the border.
Mr. Hughes agreed that Queensland and Western Australia offered greater facilities than the other States for the settlement of the largest number of immigrants, but added - “ In regard to public works we must cut our coat according to our financial cloth.”
Premiers’ Conference, November, 1920.
At a Premiers’ Conference held at the Prime Minister’s Office on the 1st November, 1920, Mr,. Theodore said - “ We could absorb straightway a few thousands of immigrants if wehad the money to carry out our proposals. We want assistance financially.”
Mr. Hughes replied “I do not know to what extent we can do that. You know the state of the moneymarket. I do not know what we can do. You (Mr. Theodore) said the Burnett district wants ?2,000,000 spent on it. . . . We have got to do something. I have done the best I can. We must carry out that scheme. We cannot settle it now, but this general conversation helps.”
Mr. Fihelly’s Inaccuracy.
Mr. Fihelly, in May, 1921, stated that a promise was given at the July Conference between Federal and State Ministers that money would be advanced by the Commonwealth Government in connexion with the Burnett lands.
The answer to this assertion is summed up in the explicit statement by the Prime Minister “ that the Commonwealth Government would not undertake to giveany assistance except in respect of the Murray River Water Scheme and the construction of a uniform gauge.”
This had reference solely to immigration proposals.
Regarding soldier settlement, Mr. Fihelly (at the July Conference) asked - “What about Queensland’s Upper Burnett Tailway proposition?”
To which Senator Millen replied - “ That will come out of the £1,000 if the line is agreed to.”
This £1,000 was the amount to be paid in respect of each settler, £625 being secured to the settler himself and the £375 being available to the States for the purpose of providing land.
Nothing was said that could be construed into a promise “ that money would be advanced by the Commonwealth Government in connexion with the Burnett lands.”
On the 15th November, 1920, Mr. Theodore wrote to the Prime Minister, stating that the ability of Queensland to absorb any number of immigrants depended upon the opening of further areas of land therein for settlement. He stated that there was a large tract in the Northern Burnett and Callide Valley districts suitable for close occupation, on agricultural areas, of many thousands of selectors, but that about £2,000,000 would be required for railway and road construction to adapt it for such purposes. This work would extend over three or four years, but, in the meantime, 1,500 men would be employed on the construction as soon as money was available. He added that if the Commonwealth Government would grant the State a loan of £2,000,000, to be used for the above purpose only, and to be drawn on as required, the Queensland Government could make a concrete proposal with regard to immigration.
The Premier further suggested that Mr. Gullett, Director of Immigration, proceed to Queensland and go fully into the matter with the State authorities.
In reply to that letter, the Premier of Queensland was informed that Mr. Gullett would inspect the areas in question early in the” year 1921, and, further, that as soon as the report in the matter had been received the request for financial assistance would receive full consideration.
Queensland’s not Unnatural Desire.
Queensland representatives have expressed a not unnatural anxiety to receive some indication tending to justify the hope that undeveloped parts of their richly-endowed State might be made more accessible to new settlers. The Commonwealth Government sincerely desired to formulate some plan that could be initiated on practical and financially sound lines. This much was indicated by the Prime Minister at the commencement of the negotiations with the Government of the Northern State. The Superintendent of Immigration was sent to Queensland to report on the value of the Burnett country as a district for settlement. He carried out this duty, and the report was printed for the information of honorable members.
This action appears to be accepted ; by some critics as an admission on the part of the
Commonwealth Government that it was committed to a scheme involving a loan of £2,000,000 to the Queensland Government.
The facts of the case surely demand no elaborate explanation. Queensland asked for £2,000,000 to be used in opening up undeveloped country. Admittedly, this was an admirable objective. But the Commonwealth Government desired to learn full details regarding the advantages to be gained in alloting £2,000,000. This would have been a natural procedure, even had the Commonwealth Government held ample funds for general purposes. But with a Treasury meeting heavy demandsof an abnormal character, financeduly dominated the position.
The importance of the opportunity for development in the Burnett district has never been questioned -it cannot be questioned. But the fact cannot be ignored that Queensland is a State in which established railways cover wide areas of rich country, in which there is ample space open to prospective settlers.
The Commonwealth Government regrets that it is not able to comply with the request submitted by the Queensland Government at the present time, as money is not available for the purpose.
Expenditure on Re-afforestation.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
Have the Government yet formulated a policy with regard to the administration of the various territories and mandated islands; if so, when is such policy to be applied?
– The question asked by the honorable member is of so general a character as to make a definite reply difficult. Civil administration was introduced in the mandated territory as from the 12th May, 1921, and the many important phases of administration which have arisen are at present under consideration by the Government.
asked tbe Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– Tbe answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
In view of the information in the cablegram published in Melbourne newspapers, that Dr. Butler, of the Columbia University, has been asked to lecture at the Imperial Conference on constitutional problems, have the Government any information that the question of an Imperial Constitution will be discussed at the Conference; and, if so, has that information been received since the Prime Minister’s departure?
– According to the public press, this statement has proved to be incorrect concerning Dr. Butler, whom I met when passing through America; but I would like to say very emphatically - and it is necessary in view of what is being said in the papers, and in view of the demand in some quarters that something ought to be done - that the Government have no information on these matters other than that which has already been communicated to the House.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Retiring Age of South Australian Officers
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether the Government has considered the judgment of the High Court concerning the rights of South Australian officers transferred to the Commonwealth Public Service, in the matter of age retirement; and what action does the Government propose to take in regardto post and prospective retirements of such officers?
– The judgment of the High Court was only delivered on the 14th June, and the Government have not yet had an opportunity to consider the matter.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice- -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
– I have received further preliminary figures in relation to the recent census. The following statement shows the decennial increase of population in each of the Australian States since 1SS1 :-
The following papers were presented : -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act; - Determination by the Arbitrator, &c. - No. 3 df” 1921 - In the matter of the Commonwealth. Medical Quarantine Officers’ Association.
Public Service Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1921, Nos. 89, 102, 107.
In Committee of Ways and Means: Consideration resumed from 15th June(vide page 9093). 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.
Manufactures of metal, n.e.i., ad val., British, 35 per cent.; intermediate, 40 per cent.;, general, 45 per cent.
.- When the discussion on this item wasadjourned last night I was directing attention to the necessity of further protecting this industry, and I advised honorable members to inspect the factory” which has recently ‘been erected in Melbourne. I have again visited the plant, and am impressed even more than I wason my first visit with its possibilities. In view of the unemployment prevalent in. our midst I am hopeful that it will be possible for the Government to provide adequate protection for this industry,, because I have been assured that if it is forthcoming, this company wil be prepared to employ 500 handsin connexion with the manufacture of metal. For the information of honorable members who were not in the chamber when the House adjourned, I desire to again direct attention to the interesting specimens of work exhibited in theQueen’s Hall, which have been” manuf actured from raw material produced in Australia, prepared by Australian workmen, and, in many cases, treated by Australianmachinery. An inspection of the factory will show that .work of a highly satisfactory character is being performed by machines manufactured in Sydney. Articles of various sizes can be manufactured, and in the hope that adequate protection would be provided under theTariff this firm has erected a factory covering, approximately, 2 acres,. saX a cost of between £20,000 «nd £30,000. The building has been erected on modern lines, and the company -only need fair protection to enable it to prosper.
– What is the name of the firm?
– Sturtevant, Bedford; Proprietary Limited, of Lonsdale,street The firm is now occupying small premises, but hopes shortly to be occupying the new building which I have mentioned. If this and other industries are. given .sufficient protection there will be no necessity for sending away from this country hundreds of passengers who have arrived from the Old Country, as we have heard -of to-day. I am continually being interviewed by men seeking employment, and if our Australian industries are ade»quately protected these men will easily be absorbed. Since the present duties were imposed an award of the Arbitration Court has increased the wages bill by 20 per cent., and has also reduced the number of working hours. I do not desire at this juncture to discuss Arbitration Court, awards, but I am convinced that until the cost of living is reduced wages must remain, as they are to-day. When the machinery is installed, approximately £100,000 will have been invested in this particular industry, and it is only fair that the Government should come to its aid. Australian metals are used in the production of builders’ brassware. The copper comes from Mount Lyell, the spelter from Broken Hill, the sheet brass from the Colonial Ammunition Company, and the tin from Mount Bischoff. All the machinery is manufactured in Australia. Quite recently the Repatriation Department called for tenders for 12,000 locks for War Service Homes, and, so far as one can gather, orders for only 600 were placed with Melbourne manufacturers. The bulk of the requirements in this direction were purchased from importing houses, which is conclusive proof that the present duties are inadequate. c
– Was there any great difference in the price?
– Those who are conducting this industry are quite prepared to invest more capital if the present duty is increased by 10 percent. Quite recently importing firms’ placed orders with Japan. I have no interest whatever in this industry, and there are no factories in my constituency. I produce for the information of honorable members an article made in Japan, and one of similar type manufactured in Australia.
– Is that the stuff they are putting into the War Service homes?
– I do not know whether the Department is equipping the soldiers’ homes with Japanese furnishings; but I do know that, out of 12,000 lock sets for which tenders were invited by the War Service Homes Branch, only 600 were purchased from the Melbourne makers.
– Where were the others made?
– That is scandalous.
– I have these two locks before me. In comparing them, the man in the street, without practical knowledge, would say that the Japanese lock appeared to be all right, and was good enough. But the man who knows would compare the finish of the two. He would note the superiority of the Australian article, and perceive its greater durability. Price, however, would be the appealing factor with the uninformed individual. Naturally, the Japanese article is the cheaper, considering that the item of wage cost is almost negligible as compared with the same in Australia.
– - What is the difference between the prices?
– I have not that specific information ; but the Japanese lock costs very much less. Having had twentyfive years’ experience in the building trade, I can say, although I do not set up to be an expert, that there is vastly greater value in the Australian product. That, however, would not appeal to the average’ individual. Price, I repeat, would be the main consideration.
– If they put these Japanese lines into the War .Service homes, they will fly the good old flag over them, and that will make everything all right.
– If that is to be the purpose for which our flag is to be employed, I shall have no time for it. But
I stand up for my country all the time, and every time, with Japan and every other country nowhere. I consider the desire of the Australian makers for a 10 per cent, increase in the duties extremely moderate and altogether reasonable. A Melbourne importing house recently sent a sample of the Australian product to Japan, and asked the foreign makers to imitate it as closely as possible, and forward a “ quote.” I emphasize that the wage cost in Japan is almost nothing, and that thus the foreign makers have an enormous advantage. But -we must keep out these cheap Japanese goods if we are to foster the best interests of our own country. I mon -
That the following words be added: - “And on and after 17th June, 1921, ad val., British, 45 per cent.; intermediate, 50 per cent.; general, 55 per cent.”
.- I hope the Minister will accept the amendment. I thank the honorable member for Henty for having moved it, and for having so ably stated the case for the Australian makers. Having inspected the samples, I noticed an undoubted similarity, but I point out that the play of the Australian lock is more facile than that of the Japanese; also, that the spring which holds the bolt of the local- product in place is of brass, in keeping with the material of which the lock is made, whereas, in the Japanese bolt, the spring is of a cheaper metal. I can appreciate that there is hound to be a considerable difference in the selling price. I wish to- say, by the way, that in my criticisms, I do not desire to disparage Japan. Its people are the most artistic race the world has ever known. At the same time, our duty, as representatives of a white race, is first to Australia; and, even if the price of the imported line were less than half of that of the local production, we should support the Australian industry. One tremendous factor calling for our support is that all the material in the Australian lock is from Australian sources, that the machinery employed is Australian made, and that the workmen are Australians.
With respect to the furnishing of War Service homes, Mr. McKenzie, the president of the Melbourne branch of the Returned Soldiers Association, made known to the public some time ago that the incandescent lamps which had been used in connexion with the* electrical installations in soldiers* homes had been made in China. That assertion was contradicted by the head of the War Service Homes, branch ;. Mr. McKenzie was told plainly that he was a perverter of the truth. Unfortunately for the veracity of the highlyplaced Government official concerned, Mr. McKenzie had some of these lamps, in his own possession. An order was issued by the War Service Homes branch, /for the return of all the Chinese lamps,, but some of them were not given up. They were missed, and their return was demanded. The lamps were only given, up, however, upon the Department issuing a receipt bearing the words to the; specific effect that the lamps were “ Made> in China.” In the light of that incident one can understand that the War Services Homes Department would readily equip the soldiers’ homes with Japanese goods.
If honorable members care to examine the display board in the Queen’s Hall, which contains numbers of bolts, among; other things, they will be convinced that, since Australian factories can turn out such products, the makers deserve to be> encouraged, not merely by 10 per cent, increases in the duties, but- by even more.
– In the first place, this item deals with manufacturesof metals n.e.i., and certainly covers the particular articles to which the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Francis) has referred. But I should be extremely sorry to be put through a catechism as to the additional articles which it covers. It embraces an immense range of articles, which vary both in the degree of manufacture that is involved in them and also in their values. The particular subject of the honorable member’s remarks was brassware of one kind or another. I hope that he does not forget that very nearly as much labour is involved in the making of a steel bolt as is involved in the making of a brass bolt. It is true that there is a greater amount of labour requisite in the manufacture of a brass bolt than there is in the manufacture of an iron bolt, but the ad valorem duty in both cases is the same. The duty upon the brassbolt, however, represents a far greater measure, of protection than it does upon. the iron holt, because we have to consider the value of the metal used’ in each instance, and we all know that the value of the metal used in the manufacture of a brass bolt is very much higher than is the value of the metal used in the manufacture of an iron holt. The same remark is applicable to the still higher processes of manufacture. In the case of goods from foreign countries, the duty proposed, namely, 45 per cent., would be very high if we added 10 per cent. to it. I cannot see my way to increase the existing impost. If honorable members will look at the item, they will see that the duty uponit has been increased from 30 per cent., under the 1908 Tariff, to 45 per cent. under this Tariff. In all the circumstances the duties proposed appear to be sufficient to afford our local manufacturers a reasonable chance of competing successfully with the manufacturers overseas. I know that the industry is almost an entirely new one. Prior to the war its operations were almost of a negligible character, but since then it has made wonderful strides in. many directions, not merely in the manufacture of the articles of which the honorable member for Henty has spoken, hut also in the manufacture of locks. Then there is the brass metal, and other metal industries which are being established all over the country. It seems to me that the duties set out in the schedule are quite sufficient to enable our manufacturers to successfully carry on their operations. I ask the honorable member for Henty to accept those duties, because they cover a vast number of articles other than those which he has enumerated.
– I regret that the Minister cannot accede to the request of the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Francis), although I recognise the difficulty in which he finds himself owing to the general character of this item. “Manufactures of metal n.e.i.” covers a very numerous class of articles, but I have always been under the impressionthat importations from other countriesbear the name, of their country of origin.
– That is insisted upon by the State.
– I donot know whether that is so, or whether the matter is. subject to our Customs regulations; but a quantity of boltsmay be imported from Japan, and the box containing them may have printed across it the words, “Made in Japan.”When those bolts have been taken out of the box, the public is absolutely ignorant of their country of origin.
– The honorable member is quite right. They ought to bear the name of their country of origin.
– During the summer I had occasion to look put for a bathing costume, and accordingly visiteda draper’s establishment for the purpose of buying one. I selected one which was rather to my liking from a colour-point of view, but upon closely examining it I discovered that it hadbeen made in Japan. That was sufficient warrant for its rejection.
– Thebranding of all goods with the name of their country of origin does not come within the provisions of the Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act.
– I think that Australian purchasers should be protected, because bolts, for example, may be sold by the gross, by the hundred, or by the thousand, and they may be palmed off as having been manufactured in Australia when, as a matter of fact, they have been made in Japan.
– The Australian bolt is branded.
– It only bears its name. The Minister has confessed that he was almost ashamed to say that our Australian manufacturers are frequently asked to keep the brand, “ Made in Australia,” off the articles which they produce, because of the public prejudice against goods of local manufacture. Unfortunately that is true. If we have no regulations under which imported articles must bear the name of their country of origin, it is time that our Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act was amended in that direction.
.- Section 7 of the Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act provides -
That provision enables us to prescribe, amongst other things, that such goods shall bear the name of their country of origin, and, as a matter of f act, we do so prescribe in so far as the Act enables us to do so. But section 15 of the same Statute says -
Sections 7 and 11 of this Act shallnot apply to any goods other than -
These are the limitations imposed by the Act. If anything beplaced upon these goods descriptive of what they are, under our regulations they must alsobear the brand of the country of their origin. But we cannot insist upou all goods being so marked. However, the Government have under consideration at the present time a proposal to amend the Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act, with a view to making it applicable to all imported goods, and specifying that such goods shall be marked with the name of the country of their origin.
– I am very glad that the Minister for Trade and Customs has intimated the intention of the Government to amend the Act in question. As I interjected when the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) was speaking, I do not think that that Statute applies to the case to which he has referred, and, as. a result, the Australian article has suffered severely. The intention of the Commerce Act was to enlighten the public as to what they were buying, and there is ample room for a substantial extension of it, so as to cover casesof this kind. I regret, with some of my honorable friends who have addressed the Committee, that the Minister (Mr. Greene) cannot see his way to give some further assistance to this industry. He has rightly said that this particular item, “Manufactures of metal n.e.i.,” has a vast range. I admit that it has, and from that stand-point his argument is difficult to answer. If, however, the honorable gentleman is satisfied that any department of industry, such as. that of brassware, covered by the item is entitled to special encouragement, there is nothing to prevent him from breaking up the item and givingtothat department of the industry such further encouragement as he thinks proper. It is unnecessary to repeatthe arguments which have alreadybeen advanced, but I would point out to the Minister that when he introduced the Tariff, some twelve months ago, he was satisfied that thebrassware industry and other like enterprises were entitled to the percentages of protection set out in the schedule. The very object that he had infixing these schedule rates was to give them the encouragement they required. If the value of those duties has since been substantially reduced, then Wewho are enacting this Tariff legislation at thepresent time must take cognisance of that depreciation. If, when the schedule was introduced last year, 35 per cent. wassufficient, a greater percentage must now be necessary;
– Thesame depreciation, or an even greater one,has been going on in other countries.
– So much the worse for us. A depreciation in values in countries exporting here decreases, very largely, our opportunities, because it makes them better able to pay the duties imposed.
– Then let the manufacturers here drop their prices. It is time that they did so.
– But, instead of wages in the brassware industry going- down, they have actually increased 20 per cent. since this schedule was presented. That being so, the industry to-day is not getting 25 per cent. by way of protection. WhilstI admit the force of the Minister’s argument as to the omnium gatherum character of this particular’ item, yet there is a means of compassing the difficulty; and if he cannot see hisway now to give additional encouragement to the brassware industry, he may, after further investigation, entertain a proposal for an in creased duty when the Tariff is before another place.
– An industry that wants more than the protection provided for in this case is not worth fostering.
– The brassware industry in Australia is only in its infancy, but it is of very great value to the Commonwealth. Exhibits of its products have been made within the precincts of the House. Many thousands of pounds have been sunk in starting the industry, and we should not overlook the fact, since it has been demonstrated that it cannot carry on in face of the competition from Japan and elsewhere. The Minister should further investigate the matter, and, if necessary, break up the item so as to afford the increased protection sought.
Question - That the words proposed to be added (Mr. Francis’ amendment) be so added - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 11
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to.
Items 209 (Malleable iron castings n.e.i.) and 210 (Metal pins), agreed to.
Printers’ type, including clumps, leads, spaces, and quads; lino, and other slugs; metal furniture and quotations, ad val., British, 22i per cent.; intermediate, 30 per cent.; general, 35 per cent.
– We have taken clumps and leads out of item 212, in which they appeared in the old Tariff, and included them in this item. I propose to return them to item 212, under which they will be free of duty if of British origin, and subject to ad valorem duties of 5 percent. (intermediate) and 10 per cent. (general), for the following reason : -It was represented to us that the manufacturers were prepared to make clumps and leads in Australia. For that reason we included them in this item, thus making them dutiable. They now tell us that they cannot manufacture those articles here unless we grant them an increased duty, and this we do not propose to do.
– I am surprised to hear that. They are the most easily manufactured things in printers’ materials.
– Exactly. When these people undertook to manufacture them if we included them in the dutiable list, we did so include them; but now they tell us that they will not manufacture them unless we impose an additional duty. I kept my undertaking with them so far as I could ; but they have not lived up to it, and I do not propose to proceed further.
– Is this the duty with which they were satisfied at the time?
– This is what they asked for; but now they say they want another 10 per cent. I am not going to agree to that; but, of course, the Committee canplease itself.
– The Minister smile3 when he says that, because he knows he is the Czar in this matter.
– I have to submit to the will of the Committee, just as other honorable members have. This is one of those cases in which I do not feel justified in doing what is asked.
– If you cannot do it, it is a very bad case.
– I move-
That the following words be added: - “And on and after 17th June, 1921 -
Printers’ type, including spaces and quads; lino, and other slugs; metal furniture land quotations, ad val., British, 22½ per cent.; intermediate, 30 per cent.; general, 35 per cent.”
.- The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Blundell), who is at present engaged on a deputation, asked nae to refer to this item. According to my information, “ The manufacture of clumps and leads is a different and distinct industry from type founding or casting of type, and in the United Kingdom no typefounder makes his own clumps or leads.” I hear also that the whole of the typemaking industry is in the hands of a tremendous American Trust, which is not only dealing with the type-makers of England by getting them into their fold, but is also beginning to deal with the Australian industry. If that is so, the request of the Australian manufacturers for an increase in the general rate, where it does not strike at anything British, is very modest. During the debates on this schedule those who desire to create Australian industries have said that they would rather have trusts here than outside, because they could deal with them here; but in this case, if the facts submitted are correct, an Australian industry is in imminent danger of being crushed by a Trust over which we have no control.
– The whole point is that you trust no Trust?
– That is so. After the Minister’s amendment is dealt with, it would be a fair concession for him to agree to an increase of 10 per cent. in, the general rate on articles manufactured in Australia.
– I am not moving for an increase. It must be remembered that these are the raw material of the printer.
– Do I understand that clumps are the raw material for the linotype and other machines?
– They are printers’ raw material. I do not think clumps and leads are used in the linotype.
– Perhaps we can go into the question more fully after the amendment is dealt with.
– The statement made by the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) places the whole question in quite a new light. The Americans are doing their best to make their trade in many lines as world-wide as possible. It would be remarkable to me if we could not manufacture these articles in a big leadproducing country like this. We produce the lead and antimonyin Australia, and it seems strange that we cannot supply the demand for the commoner articles used in the printing trade. A clump is merely a piece of lead made to various sizes, while a lead may be described as a thin strap of lead not quite type high, which is usually placed between the lines of type, although the linotype machine puts what is known as a “beard” upon each line, thus dispensing with the need for this separate piece of lead between the lines. Honorably members may have noticed that the leading article of a newspaper is usually printed in larger type, with more space between the lines, due to the insertion of the lead referred to. All circular printing, book printing, and work of that nature is treated in much the same way. Metal furniture should also be easy to manufacture, because all that is required is a mould into which the lead is poured, and afterwards cut off into the lengths required. The operation is so simple that it is evident the manufacturers here have not entered into the business more extensively because of the danger to be apprehended from American competition. This, I think, must be the reason for the request for a further protection. I can understand the Minister’s disappointment at this request, because I presume that eighteen months ago - just prior to the introduction of the Tariff - the manufacturers suggested what they thought would be a fair duty, and evidently they came to the conclusion that 22½ per cent., 30 per cent., and 35 per cent. would be sufficient protection against the American Combine. But conditions have so altered since then that this protection has in some measure been wiped out. I am anxious that the raw material for these articles should be turned into the finished product in Australia, because our printing houses use thousands of tons of lead material in the shape of clumps, furniture, leads, and quads every year. We obtain a good deal of our requirements from Great Britain; but it seems strange that we should have to send the raw material 12,000 miles by sea to England, and bring the finished product back to Australia.
Mr.Wienholt. - I thought that was the natural protection we had been talking about.
– The bottom has been knocked out of that argument long ago, as the honorable member for Moreton must know. I am very disappointed to think that the items referred to are on the free list so far as Great Britain is concerned, and 10 per cent. in. the general Tariff, because 10 per cent. against the American Combine is worthless.
– My amendment puts clumps and leads, not printers’ type, in item 212.
– Why make any difference between the clumps and quads? A quad is more difficult to make than a clump. If our manufacturers can turn out quads under the present Tariff I cannot understand why they cannot make clumps.
– That they can is shown by the importations, which have fallen off by one- third.
– And they tell you they cannot make clumps and leads?
– That is what they say.
– What about spaces?
– They are all right.
– But a space is a very thin piece of lead not type high, used in composition between the words. If spaces can be manufactured here, it is strange that clumps cannot also be made.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
.- It is my intention to move to amend the item by increasing the British duty to 35 per cent. Those engaged in this industry in Australia have had a big struggle against a great deal of opposition, particularly from the American manufacturers, who are employing their well-known methods to destroy the local industry in order that they may have a clear run of the market. The Australian manufacturers are selling their type at prices considerably less than those at which we have been able to purchase outside. I can speak from experience, because I have been associated with the co-operative movement in my own State, and I know that we have been able to get almost everything we required at reasonable prices. There is a gentleman in Australia acting as foreign and InterState correspondent for one concern that has not the welfare of the Australian industry at heart. This organization has issued a circular in which it invites the trade to endeavour to secure a considerable reduction in the existing duties on this item. This shows that even in Australia itself there are those who are endeavouring, in connexion with this particular industry, to bring about a reduction of the duties by which it is protected. After setting out the need for a reduction of duties, and dealing with the question of the serious injury to the import trade which the local industry represents, the circular to which I refer reads -
Should the foregoing meet with your views, it is suggested that you might see fit to place the matter before the member for your Division in the House of Representatives and the senators representing your State, asking that the old duty be re-established without preference, which, after all, only serves to hamper the importation of the best and not the worst classes of new type designs. Apart from any communication you may make to your political representatives, I should esteem it a favour if you would give me your views on this matter at your early convenience, for the confidential information of my principals.
That circular is signed by T. D. Chataway, who, I understand, at one time occupied the position of a member of the Senate. That is the kind of opposition which the local industry has to meet. I have said that prices in Australia are less than the prices of English and American imports at the present moment; but a circular has been issued by a representative of one of the American firms in Australia in which the statement is made that they are prepared to sell type at a 50per cent. reductionon present prices. The firm carrying on the industry in Australia pays all the wages they are called upon to pay; and I may inform the Committee that 55 per cent. of the selling cost of type is paid in wages which are spent in Australia. In spite of this, the local industry is called upon to enter into competition with American firms that are prepared to agree to a reduction of 50 per cent.on present selling prices in this country. I mention, further, that everything used in the production of type locally is of Australian manufacture. Here, again, the local industry is placed at a very great disadvantage in connexion with the cost of the material it must use. In the
Argus of the 10th instant, I find that lead is quoted in Melbourne at £30 per ton, and tin at £224 per ton. In England, the price of lead is given at £22 17s. 6d. per ton, and the price of tin at £167 12s. 6d. Honorable members will see the great advantage which these lower prices for material give to the makers of type overseas. I ask the Minister to agree to an increase in these duties, and to retain in the item the two articles which he proposes to take out of it. It is true that representatives of the local firm approached the honorable gentleman some time ago, with a view to extending their operations, and becoming in a position practically to supply the whole of the requirements of the trade in Australia. On their representations, the Minister agreed to include in the item one or two articles which he now proposes to strike out of it, on the ground that the firm has not already started to manufacture these particular articles. Thereason for this is obvious. It is of no use for the firm to undertake to put in the machinery essential for the manufacture of these particular articles when the industry they have already established is confronted with the disabilities to which I have referred. It is not reasonable to expect this firm to spend thousands of pounds upon the installation of the machinery essential to make these articles when theyrealize that their present industry is seriously attacked by outside competition. I have the authority of a representative of the firm for saying that, if these duties are made such as to protect the local industry against outside competition, they will be quite prepared to manufacture these particular articles that have been referred to, and to place themselves in a position to supply the whole of the requirements of the trade in Australia. I move -
That the following wordsbe added: - “And on and after 17th June, 1921, ad. val.. British, 30 per cent.; intermediate, 35 percent.; general, 45 per cent.”
I hope that the Minister will agree to this amendment. He should recognise that this industry deserves adequate protection, and that those engaged in it should be placed in a position to continue tbe business they have established, and which has proved so beneficial to the trade generally in Australia.
– I hope the Committee will not accept the amendment. In this Tariff I have raised the general rate already by 10 per cent. Importations under this item have in 1919-20 fallen off from £12,024 in 1913 to £4,499. Ever since this Tariff was tabled the figures of importation have included in this item clumps and leads, which were not included in it under the 1913 importation figures in the old Tariff. In the circumstances, it appears to me that the duties proposed are sufficient.
– If any developments injurious to the industry take place,will the Minister promise to review this matter ?
– I promise to look into it.
Amendment (by Mr. Greene) agreed to-
That the following words be added: - “And on and after 17th June, 1921.
Printers’ type, including spaces and quads; lino and other slugs; metal furniture and quotations, ad val., British, 22½ per cent.; intermediate, 30 per cent.; general, 35per cent.”
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 212 consequentially amended, and agreed to.
Item 213. (Refrigerating condensers, &c.), item 214 (Retorts, &c.), item 215 (Saws), item 216 (Steel grit, &c.), item 217 (Sprinklers), item 218 (Tanks), and item 219 (Tools of trade), agreed to.
Traps, dog and rabbit, ad val., British, 20 per cent. ; intermediate, 30 per cent. ; general, 40 per cent.
.- It is a lucky thing for the Minister that a dingo is not able to bark, because proposals like this, coupled with the heavy duty onwire netting, might well elicit their approval, and also win for the Minister a medal from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. I ask him the difference between a dog trap and a vermin trap. In my opinion, the dog is the most destructive of all vermin, and annually destroys stock worth millions ofpounds. The proposal to tax dog traps is comparable in stupidity with that to put a tax on arsenic. The people of Australia need the easiest and cheapest facilitiesfor gettingrid of pests. I move-
That the following words.be added: -
And on and after 17th June, 1921, ad. val., British; free; intermediate, 5 per cent.; general, 10 per cent.”
.- I am prepared to meet the honorable member for Moreton(Mr. Wienholt) by taking dog traps out of this item, and making them taxable under item 221, as vermin traps; but rabbit traps are made in Australia in large numbers, and the industry should be protected. We thought that the manufacture of dog traps would have been undertaken. These traps are not made here.
– What is the difference between a dog trap and a rabbit trap?
– Arabbit trap would notbe strong enough to hold a dog very long.
– What is the duty on mouse traps?
– There is no duty on them, because I am not satisfied that the. industry is on a sufficiently large scale to justify a duty.
– I shall support the amendment.
The Minister’s proposal is far from satisfactory. Itis needless to repeat now what was said the other day, during the discussion on another item, concerning the loss to our primary producers caused by vermin. There are districts which would have to be given up entirely were not huge sums expended on fencing out and on trapping vermin, this expenditure being often greater than the rentalpaid.. The Minister haspromised to make dog traps dutiable as vermin traps at 5 per cent. and 10 per cent., if imported from any other country than great Britain; but he insists that rabbit traps shallbe dutiable at 20, 30, and 40 per cent. I would remind him, however, that, generally speaking, it is the big man who suffers from the depredations of dogs, and that the tax on rabbit traps will fall more particularly on the small holders. It is absurd to say that the manufacturers of these traps need the protection of a duty of 40 per cent. Every member who knows anything of country conditions will oppose this hampering of the man out-back. Many such men are holding country on which they barelymake a living, because they lose in one year what they have gained in the preceding year.
.- I shall support the amendment. To-day the rabbit is just as great a pest in the southern States as is the dog in Queensland and New South Wales.
– What is tho price of rabbit traps?
– They were 12s. per dozen pre-war.
– And they are now 33s. per. dozen.
– Tho same honorable members who passed item 219, tools of trade for the use of artisans and mechanics, at duties ranging . from nil to 10 per cent., are now supporting duties of 20 to 40 per cent. on the tools of trade employed by rabbit trappers. I object to this differentiation. The worker in the country should be treated in the same way as the worker in tho city. The Committee has already imposed a duty on wirenetting, although it and dog traps and rabbit traps are essential to the man outback. I hope honorable members will realize the injustice that is being done to the man on the land by imposing these high duties of 20 percent., 30 per cent., and 40 per cent. on dog and rabbit traps. I ask tbe Minister to consider the advisability of bringing these articles under item 221, so that they may bo admitted free fromGreat Britain, with a general Tariff of only 10 per cent.
.- I am pleased that the Minister has agreed to reduce the duty on dog traps, but the proposed high impost on rabbit traps is very serious.
– They are being made by the thousand in Australia.
– I grant that. But whereas the pre-war price was from 12b. to 15s. per dozen, the price to-day is 35s. 6d. per dozen.
– What was the pre-war price of wheat ? Comparisons are odious.
– Nobody will convince me that duties of from 20 to 40 per cent. on rabbit traps are needed at the present time. Honorable members say that the prices of traps are falling, but I doubt if they have ever been higher than they are to-day. I should like the Minister to explain what has actuated him in imposing such a high duty. Is the cost of production more than twice what it was before the war? This is not merely a question of giving assistance to the big pastoralists; hundreds of men are earning their, living by trapping rabbits, and the more they can trap the better for the community.
.- On this item, as on nearly every other that has been discussed, honorable members who are opposed to the proposed duty have compared present prices with pre-war prices. The comparison is not fair, because to-day the whole world is upset, and conditions are different from those existing in pre-war days. The price of this article during the war washigher than the price to-day.
-Is the honorable member sure of that?
Mr.WATKINS. - I am basing my statement on the figures in the possession of the Minister. The making of rabbit traps is a new industry, and I have seen traps being turned out by the score.
– So they should be, even without the duty.
– And I suppose the farmers’ wheat should have been handled during the war without Government assistance ?
– If that had been done, very little wheat would have been grown, andthere would have been a large influx of population from the country to the cities.
– I supported the proposal that . the Government should go to the’ assistance of the primary producers during the war, and I will always be ready to help them in times of stress ; but I ask the farmers to realize that conditions are not normal to-day, and that the Australian-made trap will catch a rabbit as well as will an imported one. The troublo is that the farmers will not be fair in return for the fairness they received from other sections of the community during the war. The manufacture of rabbit traps will mean the employment of some people, and the more we employ the more there will be to consume the wheat and wear the wool produced by the man on the land.
– Is it Worth the 40 percent. duty to get a locally-made rabbit trap ?
– The duty necessary to. protect an industry from foreign competition is. always worth while. The sheep-grower regards the rabbit as a curse, but the hat-maker considers it a blessing, because it supplies him with the fur for his industry, whilst those who conduct refrigerating plants and export meat also are grateful for the rabbit, and some people are wondering whether it or the sheep is the greater asset to Australia. I agree that up to a point the rabbit is a pest to the sheep-growers, but in’ the country I have been glad to share with a farmer a rabbit caught for his own food.
– The honorable member could not have eaten the rabbit if there had not been a trap with which to catch it.
– It might have been shot. I prefer rabbits trapped rather than poisoned, but trapped by ah article made in Australia. I shall support the Minister.
.- In framing this Tariff the Government should. have been prepared to admit free of duty anything that would assist the country in destroying a pest. The Government established a Department of Health, and are carrying out special investigations in the north for the purpose of abating some of the plagues to which the country is heir, and all this is being done at the public expense. Again, the State Governments are spending enormous sums of money to combat the rabbit pest. Western Australia built a rabbitproof fence over 1,000 miles in length to stay the invasion of rabbits from the east, and when that failed built other fences for the same purpose. Every honorable member is aware of the. grave injury done by these rodents, and the placing of a heavy duty on an article that helps to keep them in subjection is absurd. I sincerely hope that the Committee will insist that rabbit traps be admitted free of duty, and I shall make the same request when we are dealing with sheep dip and insecticides for use iu orchards. Those things are of immense value to the country. I cannot understand the Minister, who is a country representative, placing a duty of 40 per cent. upon rabbit traps.
– It is because I am a country representative that I stand by the duty in the schedule. After the experience of this country during the war, I cannot understand honorable members who represent rural constituencies opposing this measure of protection.
– We have had the war dished up ad nauseam.
– Surely we should learn something from the lessons taught by the war. While it was on we could not get traps, and rabbits were overrunning the country. Then three or four firms started to manufacture traps in the Commonwealth. But honorable members in the Corner now say that they do not care how those men came to the Telief of the farmer ; their money must be thrown into the gutter, and their industry must be left to fight against foreign competition. Then when war happens again they will expect other firms to come to their rescue by producing locally the things they require. Is that a fair proposition? It is a short-sighted policy. It is to the interests of the primary producers that these industries should be established in the country.
– At the cost of a 40 per cent. duty?
– I do not object to meeting honorable members to some extent in respect of the rate of duty, but over and over again the honorable member for Dampier and those associated with him have said that they did not care what the general duty was so long as preference was given to the British article.
– We were talking of different goods. I did not say that in regard to agricultural machinery.
– I increased the general duty on these traps because during the war the whole of that business was lost by Great Britain. The importation figures show that the whole of the business has been taken by British competitors. I do not mind making the general rate 30 per cent. if honorable members wish it ; but, in view of the fact that these people came to our rescue during the war, and established works on a big scale, enabling them to turn out all the traps that Australia can use, the British rate should be, at least, 20 per cent.
– Australia could use a lot of dog traps.
– I have cut out the dog traps altogether, because they are not made here, and these people propose to confine their operations to rabbit traps. It is not an unreasonable rate. The process of manufacture is comparatively simple, machinery being largely employed, but a fair quantity of labour is required in assembling. It passes my comprehension that members representing country interests, forgetting the bitter experience of the past, should be prepared to throw to the wolves those who came to their rescue in a period of stress and difficulty. An honorable member talks about cheapness. The first consideration in the question of developing any fiscal policy is security, cheapness coming in afterwards.
– We want security against rabbits.
– Exactly; and to get that we should use rabbit traps made in Australia to catch Australian rabbits.
.- This is oneof the most important items in the schedule, and, it ought to be very fully debated. I have many constituents who are making an honest endeavour to keep down the appalling rabbit pest.
– If it had not been for the local manufacturers they would not have been in a position to get traps during the war.
– There is no reason why they should not have got all the traps they required. The making of a rabbit trap is not a difficult matter, and there is no justification for the imposition of this heavy duty. The Minister (Mr. Greene) has treated the Committee with the greatest possible courtesy, and has extended the utmost consideration to the views of others and appreciation of their arguments. Therefore I appeal to him to be merciful, and to consider the sufferings of the very large numbers of people engaged in farming and grazing pursuits in Australia -numbers which, I regret to say, are steadily diminishing because of the heavy burdens being placed on this section of tbe community, and because of tbe lack of adequate consideration shown to their needs. During the last few minutes I have heard views expressed by honorable members opposite which indicate that they are not fully seized with the serious nature of the devastation caused by rabbits. The inference has been made that the existence of large numbers of rabbits is beneficial because they supply food and skins. I admit that when rabbits are trapped or shot their carcasses may be used for food and their skin for fur, or for the raw material used in hat making. This to some extent is a mitigation of what is otherwise a terrible affliction upon the Commonwealth. But this fact provides the strongest possible argument in favour of the removal of a duty which may result in making it unpayable to trap rabbits.We cannot exterminate the rabbits, but there is an enormous advantage in trapping them, and thus securing the carcasses and the skins, as against adopting the purely destructive policy of poisoning them.
Mr.Watkins. - Is not closer settlement the best means ofpreventing the spread of rabbits?
– Closer settlement, of which members of the Country party are the strongest advocates, is a. most excellent preventive against the spread of rabbits, or any other pest; but the rabbit question has a most important bearing upon closer settlement, especially upon the settlement of soldiers on country lands. On one large estate I visited a few years ago in search of grass for sheep during a drought period I saw enormous numbers of rabbits. There was a sufficient amount of grass, but I remarked to my manager, when I decided to put my sheep there, that I felt confident we could not keep them there for more than three or four months. The rabbits on the property were very numerous, because at that time it did not pay to trap them exhaustively. This estate was subsequently bought for. the settlement of soldiers. It was exceedingly valuable land, with a good rainfall, and the prospects were favorable, save in one respect, the prevalence of rabbits. Last week I inquired as to the progress made by the soldiers who had bought the land, paying a price which would not have been unreasonable if there had been no rabbits. I was informed that they were not doing too well, and when I asked if they had got rid of the rabbits, the reply was, “ No; they are the trouble.” In regard to the duty upon rabbit traps, I ask the Minister to make some concession upon the British rate of duty. I know that he is prepared to make someconcession in regard to the general rate, but the proposed duty of 20 per cent. on. British-made traps is too high. The discussion on this item has made it apparent that the imposition of heavy duties on rabbit traps is a very serious matter to all engaged in the farming and grazing industry. Will the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) reconsider his decision, and amend the rates to 10 per cent. British, 20 per cent. intermediate, and 30 per cent. general?
– That is very fair.
– I think it is, andI trust the Minister will accept my suggestion.
Mr.Greene. - I will do what I have said.
– Do I understand that the Minister is agreeable to a 10 per cent duty on British goods?
Mr.Fenton. - Why not give the Australian manufacturer an opportunity?
– I am prepared to give the Australian manufacturer every possible opportunity to conduct his business on a successful basis ; but I would be neglecting my duty if I did not endeavour to also protect the interests of those hardworking men on the land who are toiling day and night endeavouring to combat this pest.
– The honorable member should assist the firm that was of benefit to those on the land during a very trying period.
– I have nothing to say against the firm - I do not even know its name - indeed I am anxious to assist them. But I am also anxious to assist those people on the land whose properties have been devastated by the ravages of rabbits. In my own electorate, and in those represented by the other members of this party, there are thousands of settlers who are fighting day and night to protect their properties against rabbits and other pests. In some instances the burden has been so great that settlers have been driven off the land, and they are already increasing the numbers of people in our over-populated cities. Will the Minister agree to my suggestion ?
– I have already said that I will agree to the rates being 20 per cent., 25 per cent., and 30 per cent.
– You have received a concession, and are not satisfied.
– There hasbeen no concession or reduction in the British rate. The bulk of the rabbits trapped can be used commercially, and we should encourage the trapping industry rather than allow the rabbits to be poisoned, because the carcasses arc then of no use to any one. Even if it means remaining here late, I shall not neglect my duty by allowing this item to pass without raising a strong protest against such high duties. I again appeal to the Minister to reconsider his decision in view of the cogent arguments which have been adduced.
– I call attention to the state of the Committee. [Quorum formed.]
– Is the Minister prepared to agree to a British rate of 15 per cent.?
– A large number of people in the country producing foodstuffs are not even paying expenses, and it is the duty of the Government to protect their interests. The cost of erecting wire netting fences on small areas of from, say, 200 to 800 acres, is more per acre than on larger areas. I would now point out that any extra cost of rabbit traps, or of rabbit trapping, must fall much more heavily upon small landowners than upon the owners of large estates, The owner of, say, 10,000 acres in one solid block will have comparatively little difficulty in protecting his property from rabbits by erecting a wire-netting fence all round it. But the smaller the area the greater the cost per acre incurred in wire netting. Consequently, a large number of settlers on small holdings cannot afford to protect their properties by completely enclosing them with rabbit-proof netting, because it adds to the cost per acre of the land. Therefore, they have almost entirely to rely upon trapping. I have already detained the. Committee longer than I intended, and. I now make a final appeal to the Minister to amend the rates in the direction I have suggested.
.- It is difficult to know, in following the arguments of the honorable member for Grampians (Mr. Jowett),whether he is speaking as representative of the disappearing constituency of Grampians or as a prospective candidate for some metropolitan seat. I do not care, personally, whether the matter at issue is rabbit traps or not. With me, the question is, “ Is this article, necessary as it is for use in Australia, to be made in this country or not? “ Does the honorable member for Grampians desire the importation of rabbit traps from overseas ?
– We want them cheap. We do not care where they come from.
– I do not take that view.
– Then there is a disagreement on the part of honorable members opposite. One wants rabbit traps, cheap, and does not care who makes them.
– I consider they could be. made easily in Australia, and that they would be of a quality which would defy competition; and, moreover, that Australian makers could cater for the demand with the help of a 10 per cent. duty.
– Of course, these simple things ought to be turned out in Australia as easily as anywhere else, and there is no reason why they should not be made here to cater completely for Australian requirements. But, if honorable members desire rabbit traps to be made in Australia, let them agree to a duty which will permit these things to be turned out here, and overthrow foreign competition. If an honorable member were to say that there should be no duty at all, I could appreciate his view-point; but, when he advocates a duty as low as 10 per cent., it is obvious that he does not favour a Protective Tariff, but wants a revenue Tariff. He wants to impose so low a duty that it will not protect the Australian manufacturer, but will encourage the importation of foreign products - which, however, will be required to pay a heavy revenue tax. Why should any one take up such an absurd position?
– I would rather have them come in free.
– There is no article capable of being made in this country which can be adequately protected with a 10 per cent. duty. If honorable members desire Protection, the rates’ of duty must be high enough to really and adequately protect, at the same time having regard, however, to the price which the people must pay for the goods. ‘ I consider that the Minister has gone far enough, and I hope he will not, either now or upon any occasion, agree to less than a rate of 20 per cent. For a duty less than that is not protective, but is merely revenue productive.
.- The honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) has apparently missed a most important point. It is involved in the consideration of what is the least expensive method of destroying rabbits. Poisoning and the trap are the means most commonly employed. But poisoning is the most wasteful. It not only destroys the rabbit as an asset after its destruction, but it is destructive to the natural life of the bush generally. The use of the poison cart has cost Australia hundreds of thousands of pounds, if not millions.
– It has saved Australia that much.
– I know that quite a lot of people consider the poison cart the best and most effective means of coping with the pest.
– It is certainly the easiest.
– There lies the whole trouble.
– In fact, it is the only really effective way.
– Sometimes poisoning is the most effective way ; but if effectiveness is the sole objective, the best method of all is to poison the water. That settles the rabbit, but everything else also, at the same time. The poison cart has been the means of almost exterminating bird life in parts of Australia. It has had the effect of tremendously increasing the blowfly pest, and it has added to our troubles with grasshoppers. There are many factors which operate in upsetting the balance of nature; but nothing has been so ruthless in that direc tion as the poison cart. By its use not only is the carcass of the rabbit itself wasted, but the balance of nature becomes seriously disturbed, if not locally overthrown ;- and that balance is the only certain safeguard of the man on the land. The trap may not be as destructive as poison; but it does not destroy the ‘natural enemies of the rabbit and the various other pests which burden the producer. The rabbit trap is the small man’s weapon. Netting, which is becoming ever more expensive, is the means adopted by the large holder for ridding his land of rabbits. Not only is the trap the main asset of the small holder in keeping down the pest, but it is the means adopted by thousands of children throughout Australia of bringing in a little pocket-money while assisting to rid their neighbourhood of rabbits; and it is similarly the means of providing employment for large numbers of men in the off seasons. The poison cart takes away the opportunity for young people to make a little money, and for the working man in the country to make a living during the dull periods. If .the Minister insists upon the rates set forth in the schedule he will be conferring undue advantage upon the poison cart. It is highly necessary that we should, as far as possible, restore the balance of nature. An old resident of New .South Wales, who has been writing to the papers for many years upon this subject, has established a sanctuary on his own extensive property in an effort to restore the depleted bird life and native fauna. He will not permit a poison cart anywhere near his run, yet, I am told, he is the least troubled by rabbits among all the landowners in his district. If all holders were to follow the advice and example of Mr. Abbott, they would not be troubled with the vermin and other pests which so handicap the man on the land to-day. There is a prominent resident of Melbourne who has also long given consideration to the subject of the restoration of the balance of nature. He has practically spent his life in working out problems having to do with the extermination of rabbits and the like, and he is bitterly opposed to the poison cart. In the matter under discussion there is not only involved the question of the rates of duty to be fixed upon rabbit traps, but there is this additional consideration:
That any difference made in the cost of applying the two methods of destruction will go a long way towards further increasing the disabilities from which Australia is now suffering. If the Minister intends to accept or move an amendment, I hope it will be in the direction of according greater preference to Britain. In the course of the Tariff debate I have already urged more generous measures of preference towards the United Kingdom, and I have suggested that, if necessary, the duties in respect of foreign products should be increased. With its wide variety of climatic conditions, the Empire is capable of becoming self-supporting. Australia is not, and never can be, self-supporting. No single country, indeed, which sets out in that direction can become anything but a failure.
-Last week, when debating the duties upon wire netting, I spoke of the devastation caused by rabbits in the north-west of Tasmania and parts of Victoria. I do not propose to repeat those remarks, but I earnestly ask the Minister to accede to a reduction in the rates of duty upon rabbit traps. Of what importance is an industry - if it can be so called - engaged in the manufacture of rabbit traps compared with the welfare of agriculture and grazing throughoutAustralia? I fear that the Minister and many honorable members do not realize the menace of the rabbit pest. Had their experience been such as mine, they would perceive how Teally trivial is the question whether or not rabbit traps can be or should be profitably made in Australia. The cry of honorable members is, “ Give Australian industry a chance.” I say, “ Give Australian pioneers a chance, and do not talk about the manufacturer every time you speak of Australia.” I said, by interjection just now, that I did not care where rabbit traps came from so long as we got them cheap. I repeat that with all seriousness. What does it matter who makes the weapon with which we fight and try to overcome the menacing rabbit pest? I do not care whether the rabbit trap which I use to save my holding is made in Japan, or in Germany, or in some other world, in fact. It is our chief weapon of offence against Aus tralia’s worst scourge. In many parts, the man on the land is faced with ruin. We must use the trap, and the poison cart, and wire netting, too. We have already put on wire netting a very high duty, which was not justified in any sense. I am now offering my little plea against a further increase on the other weapon which we must use for the destruction of rabbits. I ask the Minister to give favorable consideration to our request. I have supported him on every occasion when those on the Opposition benches have asked him for an increase, and I do expect him to give some consideration to the people for whom I am speaking.
– I am sorry that I cannot see my way clear to agree to my honorable friend’s request. I have heard a number of debates which had some amusing and some annoying features, but to-day I have heard statements about which I can say that I really do not know whether they annoy or amuse me most. Any honorable member who has had experience of what happens under practical trapping conditions knows full well the net result on the number of rabbits in this country.
– I can prove to the Minister that last year. 16,000 rabbits were trapped on one sheep run, of less acreage than that number, at any rate.
– It cannot be said that 16,000 acres off which 16,000 rabbits are trapped in a year is infested country.
– We have trapped more than that in a week in a place half that size.
– Tes, in heavily infested country far more would be trapped. Everybody knows that in most instances the rabbit trapper’s idea is not to get rid of the rabbits entirely, but to keep them going.
– Do you want to make it a permanent industry?
– No; but trapping by itself is not much good as a means of getting rid of the pest. We have had experience in Australia regarding the industry of manufacturing rabbit traps. The effect of making this duty 10 per cent. would simply be to turn it into a revenue duty, and the industry would go out of existence.
– Why should it be simply a revenue duty ? The trap is the simplest thing in the world to make.
– I will give the Committee an instance of what happened under the old 10 per cent. Tariff. I have received a letter from a man who is now manufacturing rabbit traps, in which he says -
Without a duty local manufacture is impossible except for just a month or two as at present, while there is a dearth of imported traps. My reason for making this assertion is based on the experience of a few years ago. At that time a local factory was established, but the venture was disastrous, because makers abroad dumped traps into Australia at a price which made it quite impossible for the Australian firm to compete, and when it had been defeated, prices were, of course, raised.
– They were not raised much before the war.
– I feel that, with the experience we have had, we cannot agree to reduce this duty if we have any real desire to see Australia put in a position to protect itself in all circumstances. I cannot believe that a duty of 20 per cent, can result in any increase in the price of rabbit traps, with several makers manufacturing in this country. The duty is moderate. I am prepared to take out dog traps, and to make the foreign duty 30 per cent.
– No; we do not ask for that.
– Some have asked for it. In making that offer I am meeting the Committee in a reasonable way, and at the same time keeping faith with the manufacturers who came to our rescue at a time when we were practically helpless.
– The duty of 10 per cent., which operated some years ago, did not apply to British traps?
– And there has never been a duty on British traps?
– No. _
– Then, in the circumstances, a duty of 10 per cent, would be reasonable.
.- The Minister’s reply to the common-sense arguments that have been used has been simply a repetition of the answers he has given all through the piece to reasonable demands made by reasonable members. We have given him a very fair go so far as the Tariff is concerned. Everywhere outside one can hear it said that the people are going protection mad. I am a Protectionist, but many of the items to which the Committee have agreed represent, not protection at all, but extreme prohibition. An instance of that is the duty of 45 per cent, on a reaper and binder, which is one of the most useful necessities that a man can have on a’ farm; and another instance is the duty of 68s. British, S4s. intermediate, and 105s. general, per ton on wire-netting.
– Order! I must ask the honorable member to direct his: remarks to the item before the Committee.
– The items to which I refer are closely connected with, this item, which puts an almost prohibitive duty on imported traps. Rabbit traps were manufactured here for years in the past, and sold for a paltry 8s. 6cl. per dozen, and even then the makers made money. They are the implements of trade for hundreds of people, who have made a’ very fine living at trapping. In 1917-18, the exports of rabbits, taking eight rabbits to the sheep, were equal, to 3,288,579 sheep. That shows what a good industry it is to the trapper. We must also remember the losses suffered by the man on the land through the destruction caused by rabbits. Hundreds of people throughout the “Commonwealth who are now idle could be well employed in trapping rabbits. Trappers have made up to £6, £8, and £10 per week. A good trapper can manage about 100 traps. The lifetime of a trap is only about one season, taking into account losses and other causes. Of the two industries, the manufacture of traps, which the Minister is so anxious to foster, and the destruction of the rabbit pest, the latter is far greater, and of much greater importance, and employs many more hands. If we handicap the man on the land in the way proposed, the population of our capital cities will increase in a still greater ratio than it has done in the past. The penalizing effects of the imposts which we are placing on wire netting and rabbit traps will make it practically impossible for any person to live in the outlying parts adjacent to rabbitinfested country. We have heard with great regret how the rabbits have taken possession of Gippsland. They caine in there only comparatively recently, and honorable members can picture the lot of the Gippsland farmer, who is penalized to the extent of £100 per mile to fence his property, and is now to be further penalized by the fact that the rabbiter will not be able to purchase traps in consequence of the price that they will be put up to. All through the piece the amusing argument has been put forward that these excessive duties are going to reduce prices. That has not been my experience in the past, nor do I think it has been the experience of many other members. I am convinced, speaking on behalf of the man on the land in particular, that by imposing penalizing duties of the kind now before us, we shall do the country tenfold more harm than good.
.- There is a principle underlying this item. The manufacture of traps is an industry.
– Do you want to. make the manufacture of rabbit traps a permanent industry in Australia?
-We want traps to eradicate the pest. An effort was made to start the industry thirty years ago, but the market was flooded, and the firm which had begun to make Australian traps was completely wiped out, so that up to the time of the war all the traps used here were imported. When the war began we had to fall back on our own resources, with the result that a factory has been established, machinery has been installed, and men have been trained to make these very important articles. The factories buy their steel and wire from Australian makers. Surely we are not going to take the advice of the honorable member for Darwin (Mr. Bell), and say that we do not care where the traps come from so long as we can get them cheap? Such a policy could be applied to every industry in the Commonwealth, and we should then have hundreds of thousands of men out of work. I do not say that the Corner party believe in that sort of thing. No matter whether an industry is large ‘ or small, we must consider the principle of establishing it in our midst. If this industry is killed we have no guarantee as a Parliament that the price of rabbit traps will not b§ increased simply because the local competition has been beaten. Our experience is that the importer will regulate the market to get the highest price possible for his article. The reduction of this duty would not mean cheap rabbit traps. If local competition were destroyed, farmersand others who use rabbit traps would bein. the hands of the importers, who could enter into a Combine to regulate prices, and charge what they pleased. It israther curious that honorable members of the Country party should be putting up a strenuous fight on this relatively unimportant item, seeing that far more important items were allowed by them to go> through yesterday, notwithstanding that they were of great moment to the primary producers. I do not think that farmersand graziers will appreciate this display on the part of the Country party, who assert that pastoralists and others will be ruined if a duty of 20 per cent, be put on rabbit traps. That is all moonshine.
– We have a 10 per centincrease made here and there on almost all items affecting the primary producer.
– Surely the farmers will not go out of business because of a duty of 20 per cent, on rabbit traps.
– No; but instead of trapping rabbits, they will poison them.
– This duty will interfere with the food supplies of Sydney. It will mean that rabbits, instead of beingtrapped and sent down -to the Sydney market, will be poisoned.
– We are considering now not a question of food supplies, but the manufacture of rabbit traps in Australia.
– Quite so; but we have to consider what will be the result of this duty, and I repeat that it will lead tothe farmers resorting to the cheaper method of poisoning, instead of trapping, rabbits.
– I would prevent them resorting to that means of dealing with the pest. I can sympathize with the desire of the man on the land that the cost of agricultural machinery and implementsshould be kept as low as possible, but thisis such a. relatively small item that I fail to understand the attitude of my honorable friends of the Country party. We have to consider the position of the’ manufacturer of rabbit traps in Australia and the men who have been trained in the industry established by him.
– What about the returned soldiers who have gone on the land?
– I hope we shall do something better for our returned men than merely finding employment for them as rabbit trappers.
. - I feel very strongly on this question, and am going to make an emphatic protest against the action of the Minister (Mr. Greene). The honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. Riley) has referred to the manufacture of rabbit traps here as an “ industry,” and has said that men have been educated in the manufacture of traps. I invite the honorable member to say what education is necessary in this regard seeing that all the parts of a rabbit trap are cut out by a machine. The process is as simple as shelling peas. The Minister also spoke of this as an “industry.” I prefer to speak of it as a business. We do not want a permanent rabbit-trap making industry in Australia. What we want is to exterminate the vermin.
– Wherein lies the honorable member’s consistency? He voted for a higherduty on agricultural implements, and yet puts up a fight against this duty on such a small item as
– I gave my support to a fairly high duty on implements and machinery that are technical in character, and are the product of many brains. Their manufacture also involves an enormous outlay, whereas one machine is capable of turning out all the rabbit traps required in Australia.
– The principle, however, is the same.
– But the conditions are different. My honorable friend can make black appear as nearly white as possible when he is showing that he is the friend of the farmer and also the friend of the city dweller, who is not always acting in the best interests of the man on the land. The Minister gave away his whole position in regard to this item when he said that one factory for the manufacture of rabbit traps had been established here, and that the proprietor of it had told him that it was impossible to make a success of it in the face of the present competition, because the business was exceedingly erratic. Undoubtedly it is erratic, because the vermin are at times more troublesome than at others; and there is no reason why we should endeavour to establish a permanent industry which is subject to such erratic conditions. There is no getting away from the fact that this increased duty will mean for all time an increased price for rabbit traps.
– I do not think so.
– The manufacturer who seeks this duty of 20 per cent. says that it is essential, because he cannot cope with the existing competition. I am proud to admit that the duties imposed to encourage a good many industries in Australia have ultimately led to reduced prices; but, according to the expert who asked the Minister to impose this duty it is impossible to establish a successful and continuous industry of rabbit trap making. If that is so, why impose this big duty?Some of my honorable friends opposite are familiar with the ravages of the dingo, the fox, and the rabbit. They know that in many parts of Australia the man on the land finds his work being destroyed night and day by these , pests. They know that both the rabbit and the dingo drove everything before them in the western districts of New South Wales many years ago. Their ravages were worse than those of a drought. Hardly a head of stock was left in many districts. And yet we are asked to impose this duty to support what is a mere pretence at an industry. I will fight this item to the last ditch, and, if it is. passed, I will do my best to bring about its rejection by another place. We ought to display some common sense; but it seems to me that this is about the worst example we have had of Protection run mad.
.- Although one can well understand the attitude taken up by strong Protectionists, I want to make it plain that in this case a new principle is involved. Every one knows that Australia, a virgin country when first occupied by white men, has been particularly subject to a number of plagues. The worst of these is the prickly pear, and then come the dingo, the rabbit, the fox, and other pests. I think that the most ardent Protectionist, without any sacrifice of principle, can heartily adopt the view that no obstacle should be thrown in the way of obtaining, in the cheapest and most effective form, the materials necessary for coping with these pests. We need traps for trapping rabbits and dingoes, arsenic to deal with the prickly pear, and chemical dips for dealing with the tick and other evils. All these should be obtainable in the speediest and cheapest way. We are all familiar with the historical advice that a man should not argue with “ the master of fifty legions,” and it may be well for us not to refuse the bargain which has been offered us by the Minister (Mr. Greene), who is, after all, the master of the situation, since he is in charge of the Tariff. The honorable gentleman has offered to remove dog traps from this item; and I should like to know whether, in the event of my pressing my amendment, and the Committee deciding against it, we shall lose that offer.
– Certainly not. I will stand by what I have promised the Committee.
– TheMinister has made a fair and courteous offer, but I shall not be able to withdraw my amendment, since to do so would be to break faith with those who have strongly supported it. I hope that, even at this the eleventh hour, the Minister will render it unnecessary for us to proceed to a division, by agreeing to a 10 per cent. reduction of the duty as against imports from Great Britain. If he will do that, he may make the general Tariff as high as he pleases.
– I have a little more information which I desire to place before the Committee. But, before doing so, I should like to hear the Minister again address himself to the amendment.
– He has only just finished speaking.
– Cannot the Minister make some concession in regard to the proposed duty under the British preferential Tariff?
– He has promised to put a lower duty upon dog traps.
– That would be the most preposterous absurdity of which one can conceive. However, I am discussing the duty which it is proposed to levy upon rabbit traps.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Atkinson) . -The amendment of the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Wienholt) covers the whole item.
– I have here some very important information relating to the ravages wrought by rabbits upon forests. But I do not desire to introduce fresh matter if there be any hope of inducing the Minister to make some concession in regard to the duty proposed under the British preferential Tariff.
– I have told the honorable member what I am prepared to do.
– I am sorry that the honorable gentleman has clothed himself with an impenetrable armour, and that he is not open to conviction upon this matter. I am strongly in favour of having rabbit traps made in Australia, but I. do not think that the imposition of a duty is necessary to secure that result. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Richard Foster) has shown that this is one of those simple industries which do not require the assistance of any duty whatever. If a duty of 20 per cent, be imposed upon rabbit traps, it will most certainly increase their price to our rabbit trappers.
– What about the bite of the rabbit?
– The bite of the rabbit is one of the most injurious in Australia. This rodent bites the grass lower, and depreciates the pasture more, than does any other animal. It consumes the natural herbage which is required by our sheep and cattle, and tends to destroy the valuable grasses, and it thus inflicts incalculable injury upon our pastoralists. The rabbit is also one of the greatest enemies to our forests. In this connexion I propose to quote from The Standard Cyclopedia of Modern Agriculture, a work which has’ evidently been exhaustively studied by honorable members, because I notice that every page of it has been cut. Under the heading of “ Rabbits - Damage to Woodlands,” I find the following : -
In Britain rabbits are the most dangerous enemies to forestry. The time when rabbits are most likely to attack young trees is during frosty weather, and especially when the ground is covered with snow. They prefer soft-barked kinds of trees, but as all kinds of trees have soft bark when young, none are safe where rabbits abound. In copsewoods the ash and hazel underwood suffers most, and in many parts of England once valuable coppices have been decimated where rabbits are preserved inthe vicinity.
– I beg to call attention to tbe state of theCommittee. [Quorum formed.]
– The article which I was quotingcontinues -
During severe winters they also attack big old park and avenue trees, sometimes completely ringing the bark and killing the trees. Almost the only kinds of trees they do npt attack are large, thick-barked oaks, although the Corsican pine, among conifers, is comparatively immune, and the common Rhododendron ponticum among shrubs. Smearing with illsmelling substances cannot be relied upon to protect young plants against this pest.
– I beg again to call attention to thestate of the Committee. [Quorum formed.]
– I had intended to give the Committee some information of very great value; but, seeing that the Minister is evidently resolved that he will not be influenced by any argument, and that the majority of honorable members may be relied upon to support him in the attitude which he has taken up, it is idle for me to continue to debate the amendment.
Question - That the words proposed to be added (Mr. Wienholt’s amendment) be so added - put . The Committee divided .
Ayes . . . . . . 10
Noes … .. ..27
Majority . . … 17
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- I move-
That the following words be added : - “ And on andafter 17th June, 1921, British, 10 per cent.; intermediate, 30 per cent.; general, 40 per cent.”
It seems to me incontrovertible that the duties I propose are quite adequate for the protection of local manufacturers of traps. The Minister told the Committee that he had received a request for higher rates from a gentleman who said that the demand for traps fluctuated greatly. That must be true, because there are times when vermin of all sorts increase rapidly, and other times when they abate. The statement seems to me to show that the business of trap making is not an industry worth protecting. It is not. a manufacture that is complete in itself, and cannot properly be dignified by the name of “ industry.” One machine could pretty well provide all the traps that Australia needs. It is not creditable to the Minister and to his officers that they should have recommended a duty of 40. per cent.
– But that is one of the rates in the honorable member’s amendment.
– We have to take what we can get, and what I am chiefly concerned about is getting a reduction of the duty on British imports to 10 per cent.
.- The honorable member for Wakefield has not given to this matter the consideration which he might have given to it if he thinks that one machine could make all the traps that Australia uses. I should thinkthat a rabbit trap goes through twenty processes in the course of its manufacture.
-Possibly; but it is a very simple contrivance, and the capital involved in any business for the making of these traps must be relatively small.
– Probably between £20,000 and £30,000 would equip a factory. What the correspondent to whom the honorable member alluded said was that it was useless under the then existing conditions, there being no duty, to manufacture traps in Australia, because the only chance of trade was when traps were not being imported and there was a shortage of them in the country.
– The Customs Department has no record of the importations of traps.
– No ; but we keep records of the revenue under each item of the Tariff from which we can estimate approximately the importations.
– In ordinary times, nearly every trap imported has come from the United Kingdom.
– In 1918-19 the revenue collected on traps imported at the general rate of 10 per cent. was £1,500, which shows the value of the importations to have been about £15,000. In that year, not many rabbit traps could have come from the United Kingdom. In 1915-16 the revenue was £323. I have no pre-war figures immediately at Land. The reason for the 40 per cent. duty in the general column is, as I have already explained, that the trade was passing from the United Kingdom to other countries, and I wish to restore the balance; not that so high a rate is necessary for the protection of the local industry, which I think should be protected with a duty of 20 per cent. The value of. traps used in Australia annually would not be much under £50,,000, and their manufacture at the present time employs quite a number of people. Lane, a well and favorably known English maker, has recently established a factory here, and I think we should see that men who take a risk of this kind should be reasonably dealt with.
– How long has he been here?
– The factory has been working for about six months. I am sorry that so much time should have been occupied in arguing this matter. I feel that the people of Australia are agreed that our war experience should not be repeated, and that we must be selfcontained in the matter of providing means for dealing with this pest, so far as trapping can deal with it, although as a means of exterminating rabbits, I personally do not think that the rabbit trap will play any conspicuous part.
.- I am sorry that I cannot allow the amendment to go to a vote without expressing the view that honorable members are not yet seized of the real importance of this matter. I say that, because I have been accused of making a most exaggerated statement when I said that the duty is of real importance to Australia. It is important to this country as affecting the destruction of a pest which has cost Australia hundreds of millions in money, and the end of which no man can foresee. There are honorable members of the Committee who think that the rabbit is a source of profit, but any profit derived from the rabbit is more than counter-balanced by the injury we suffer from the depredations of the pest. The rabbit is a parasite upon the greatest Australian industry, and we are dealing under this item with a parasitical industry.When the Minister talks of establishing this industry at a cost of £30,000-
– I said that would be sufficent to equip one industry.
– If we had ten factories costing £30,000 each, the capital invested would not represent more than the price of one large, well-stocked station. It is too ridiculous to think of establishing an industry of this kind at the expense of what is unquestionably the greatest industry in Australia. It cannot be too strongly insisted upon that we cannot afford to interfere with the balance of nature. Nature, if left uncontrolled, has destructive methods of its own, and, in my opinion, the use of poison for the destruction of rabbits destroys the balance of nature, and throws everything out of gear. It is not merely a question of the number of rabbits spoiled by the use of poison as compared with the use of traps, but a matter of very much greater moment in the disturbance of the balance of nature, which is the only thing that keeps Australia such a remarkably healthycountry for the rearing of stock. Those who are engaged in primary production know that there are fewer pests and diseases affecting primary production in Australia than in any other country.
– The pests we have are pretty bad.
– I would remind the honorable member that the worst of our pests are imported. I am myself Australianborn, whilst the Minister has come here from overseas.
– The honorable member is quite wrong. The dingo is a native of Australia, and is as big a pest as the rabbit.
– The interjection shows that the honorable gentleman does not understand theposition.While I admit that the dingo is a pest, the injury he does to Australia does not represent a hundredth part of the injury done by the rabbit. The dingo is not nearly so bad a pest as even the prickly pear. I say this although I know that many people are to-day being driven off their holdings, and thousands of acres that used to be devoted to the rearing of sheep are now devoted to the rearing of cattle because of the ravagesof the dingo. If we leave things to natural law we shall be able to cope with the rabbit pest; but when men bring along the poison cart, and so disturb the balance of nature, it is difficult to say what will be the ultimate result. I am opposed to this duty because, in my view, it may mean all the difference between the destruction of rabbits by trapping and their destruction by the use of poison, which is one of the most dangerous means that could be adopted.
Question - That the words proposed to be added be so added (Mr. Richard Foster’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . 9
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Mr. Greene) agreed to-
That the following words be added : - “ And’ on and after 17th June, 1921 -
Traps, viz. -
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
Item 221 (Traps, vermin, n.e.i.) and item 222 (Tubes, collapsible, empty) agreed to. divisionvii. -OILS,PAINTSAND varnishes.
Item 223 (Bronzing and metal powders) and item 224 (Graphite or plumbago, black lead, &c.) agreed to.
French chalk and other preparations of steatite n.e.i., ad val., British, 20 per cent.; intermediate, 20 per cent.; general, 30 per cent.
– Since the Tariff was framed, an industry for the manufacture of crayons and chalks has been started in Australia, using our own raw materials, and I propose to give it a slight increase in the duty. I move -
That the item be amended by inserting (a) before the word “ French,” and adding the following: -
On and after 17th June, 1921, ad val., British, 25 per cent.; intermediate, 30 per cent.; general, 35 per cent.
I understand that the manufacturers will be able to provide practically the whole of the Australian requirements.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 226 (Blacking; dressing and polishes for boots, &c.), item 227 (Tallow and greases), and item 228 (Oils in bulk or otherwise), agreed to.
Oils in vessels exceeding one gallon.
(1)Castor; Turkey red oil; commercial oleic acid; tung and other vegetable paint oils, per gallon, British, 6d.; intermediate, 8d.; general, 3d.
.-I move -
Th at sub-item (f) be amended by adding the following: - “And on and after 17th June, 1921-
The manufacturers of both linseed and castor oils are experiencing great difficulty in carrying on at present. The position of linseed-oil manufacturers in particular is somewhat difficult owing to the fact that in England, which is the chief competitor, the product is the cake and the by-product the oil, whereas in Australia the oil is the product and the cake the by-product. In England, the cake commands a much higher price than in Australia; and, as 3 tons of linseed produces 2 tons of cake and 1 ton of oil, and as the manufacturers obtain the raw material from the same market as we do, namely, India, they are in a better position to compete in the Australian market in connexion with the production pf oil. As far as I am able to judge from a number of letters from manufacturers of paints and varnishes, no material objection will be raised to increasing the duty on linseed oil. I think that 4d. more on the general Tariff, and 3d. more on the British Tariff will give the local manufacturers a reasonable opportunity of carrying on their business. The rearrangement of duty oncastor oil is necessary in order to put the manufacturers in a more satisfactory position.
.- I take it that the Minister (Mr. Greene) has gone carefully into this question, and I am glad to know that some alteration has been made in the item, because in many parts of Australia, and particularly my State, manufacturers are obtaining from local plants oils which are gradually taking the place of the imported article. In Western Australia, one big firm en gaged in the manufacture of methylalcohol is obtaining a valuable oil byproduct from the blackboy tree.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 230 (Oils, including medicinal oils, except essential oils, not compounded) agreed to.
Item 231 (Paints and colours) consequentially amended and agreed to.
Item 232 -
– I move -
That sub-item (a) be amended by adding the following: - “And on and after 17th June, 1921, per gallon, British, 2s. 6d.; intermediate, 3s. ; general, 3s. 6d. ; or ad val., British, 25 per cent.; intermediate, 30 per cent.; general, 35 per cent.; whichever rate returns the higher duty.”
When we were framing the Tariff it was our intention to insert the ad valorem duty to protect the higher grades of varnishes manufactured in this country. The existing duty is sufficient for the lower grades, but it does not adequately protect the better class of varnishes, and we desire to encourage the higher just as much as the lower grade article.
.- Apparently these materials are required in the manufacture of certain goods. If a manufacturer applies to the Minister for these goods to be admitted free under item 404, and his request is granted, will another person who wishes to use the materials for other than manufacturing purposes still have to pay the higher rate of duty prescribed in this item?
.- That would not be done under any circumstances, except in respect of a grade of material that was not manufactured in this country.
For instance, if a special varnish required for the wings of aeroplanes were not being manufactured in Australia, and applications were made to the Department for its admission under item 404, it would probably be allowed in free of duty.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 233 (Liquid removers of paint and varnish) agreed to. division viii.- earthenware, cement, china, glass, and stone.
Item 234 (Portland cement).
.- Local manufacturers of cement have represented that the duty provided in the schedule is not sufficient. I know that prior to the war cement was brought cut practically as ballast at a freight of £1 per ton. If that was done then, when there was more cargo being sent to Australia than there is likely to bc under this Tariff, there will be greater risk of it happening in the future, because vessels coming to the Commonwealth to lift our primary produce will probably carry cement cheaply as ballast. It has been pointed out to me that in other parts of tho world the hours worked in the cement industry are sixty-six per week, as against forty-four in Australia, whilst in the local industry time and a half is paid for overtime, and double rates for Sundays. If we desire to make this industry secure, we must protect it against the dumping of a product which has been produced at a considerably less cost than has the local article. The freight from overseas need not be taken into consideration, because it would probably be not greater than the cost of sending cement from Victoria or New South Wales to the north of Queenslandor Western Australia.
– Western Australia has its own cement works now.
– The rates of duty provided in this schedule are the same as those in the 1914 Tariff, and I appeal to the Minister (Mr. Greene) to give increased protection to the local industry, especially in view of the danger of cement being used as ballast by vessels coming to Australia.
– If the ships cannot get cargo, what does the honorable member suggest that they should carry as ballast ?
– We shall have to pay pretty high freights on our produce if the ships cannot get cargo of some sort.
– At any rate, I do not desire them to carry ballast that will destroy industries which have been established in New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia, and Queensland at very great cost. We experienced the advantage of the local industry during the war, when, if we had been dependent on overseas supplies, we would not have been able to get any cement. During the drought in New South Wales one large cement works suffered severely because for a number of months they had no water for manufacturing purposes, but I believe that provision has now been made for an adequate supply.
.- Has the Minister (Mr. Greene) given sufficient consideration to the fact that new cement works have been established quite recently? I believe there are works in the Newcastle district, and there is a new factory in my own electorate. In the 1908 Tariff the dutywas 9d. per cwt., and in 19141s., the same as is proposed in the schedule now before us. As the Minister has been careful to strengthen somany other industries by affording them additional protection, I should like him to state why he has not increased the duty on cement.
– For months we could not get a cask of cement of any kind.
– I guarantee that we shall be able to get plenty in future. We have adopted, in respect of many other articles, a new principle, in the form of deferred duties. Will the Minister explain why he has not applied that principle to this item?
. Representatives of cement companies interviewed me a little time ago, and their only request was that the 1914 rate shouldnot be departed from.
– Hear, hear! Cement was not obtainable anywhere.
– That was the reason why I did not propose any increase in the duty. It was not asked for.
– I have letters which show that an increase is desired.
– I am only stating what happened at the interview between the manufacturers and myself. When framing the Tariff, I made inquiries to ascertain whetherthe duties would be sufficient, and the extent to which the local manufacturers were able to meet the demands. During the last few years there have been enormous developments in the plants manufacturing cement in this country. The great shortage of cement during last year was due, not so much to the inability of local plants to cope with the demand as to the fact that because of shipping strikes and industrial disturbances the cement works could not carry on, and although they had a capacity of over 350,000 tons per annum, they were not able to produce more than 260,000 tons. New companies have been formed in Queensland, Western Australia, and Tasmania; and, in addition, almost every one of the existing companies has taken steps to nearly double its output. The prospects are that before the end of 1921 the capacity of Australian cement plants will be nearly 700,000 tons. This will be increased by nearly 100,000 tons in 1922 by the operations of the Tasmanian Cement Company. In all probability, the shortage will be entirely overcome this year; and, next year, unless there is some increase in building operations, the output of Australian cement works will be, I believe, greater than the actual requirement.
– There are plenty of countries near Australia to which the surplus can be sent.
– I have no doubt that there will be a market for it. In view of the facts I have related, I see no necessity for increasing the duty.
.- I have the following extract from Rock Products, dated 5th July, 1919 : -
In 1916 there were in Japan twenty companies manufacturing cement, employing an aggregate labour force of . 6,444 persons, of whom 692 were females. The output of these companies increased from 4,772,579 barrels, valued at $9,957,798, in1916, to 5,398,918 barrels, valued.at $15,758,401 in 1917. Values of cement exported in 1916, 1917, and 1918, amounted to $1,355,514, $1,335,065, and $2,996,065 respectively.
I am afraid that while Japan is increasing its output so rapidly, Australian companies may be very seriously handicapped by the dumping of Japanese cement here. They would appreciate an assurance from the Minister (Mr. Greene) that if any suchdumping be attempted he will apply the provisions of the anti-dumping legislation, which he informed the Committee will apply in regard to iron and steel products. Local manufacturers need the Australian market to enable them to stabilize their industry. They say that there will be no attempt to raise the price ; and I have if on the best authority that when the industry is stabilized, which must first be done, there will be a reduction in price.
.- If conditions arise under which cement is being dumped in Australia in an unfair way - that is to say, if it is sold in Australia at less than the home consumption price, the anti-dumping provisions will apply.
– The home consumption price in Japan may be very low.
– I venture to say that the home consumption price is the world’s price at that particular period. If Japanese manufacturers are dumping cement into Australia at a price lower than the world’s price, or in any unfair way, the anti-dumping provisions will apply.
Item agreed to.
Item 235 (Asphalt mastic), and item 236 (Scientific apparatus, porcelain), agreed to.
.- Would the Minister (Mr. Greene)be prepared to consider an increase in the general rate to 45 per cent., and a reduction in the British rate to 15 per cent.? The natural protection already affords a very reasonable margin.
.- We have the clays here, and the manufacture of china and porcelain ware is a natural industry which I am anxious to see developed, because it may become very valuable to the Commonwealth. In the. circumstances, I am not disposed to consent to any reduction in the duty.
– During the war, in order to meet the demand for this class of ware, an attempt was made to produce it in Australia, and met with a fair amount of success, particularly in respect to the manufacture of porcelain insulators to meet the requirements of the Postal Department. Previously Government officials had been rather diffident about affording to the local manufacturers that assistance which would enable them to meet the requirements of the Department; but that diffidence has now been overcome. Of course, if I ask for an increase I am met with the answer that the local manufacturers have been producing these wares for some time past; but, as I have already shown in regard to other local products, although during the war, and until quite recently, sufficient natural protection was afforded to enable the local makers to continue their operations, all the nations of the world which are now beginning to resuscitate their prewar industries, may be in a position to flood our markets with their products if the local man is not afforded some further protection. When the Minister (Mr. Greene) was approached by the people associated with this trade, did he not recognise that the duties he has provided in the schedule were not likely to give any security to the local industry? Was it not shown to him that the inadequacy of the proposed rates would, soon be proved when other nations revived their pre-war industries, and did he not consider the advisability of increasing the rate under the general division ?
– I did take that matter into consideration, but I do not think I ought to give any higher duty except in regard to certain classes of insulators.
– If I can assure the Minister that he would be supported in any attempt to increase the general rate on this item by honorable members on this side of the Chamber, can he tell me the temper of honorable members sitting behind him in respect to adding a further 10 per cent. to the duty?
– We cannot give it.
– Surely the honorable member will agree that it would hot be an additional charge upon the cost of mining operations. The primary producers cannot say that it would be an impost particularly aimed at them. I have a good deal of information before me, and could elaborate extensively on the excellent qualities of Australian clays.
– In this item you have a natural protection.
– Natural protection does not exist in this instance, because the Japanese are our competitors, and are in a position to ship their products to Australia at very low rates.
– Is the honorable member asking for an increase in the general rate?
– Yes. If we encourage the manufacture of the higher grades of clay products there is nothing to prevent Australian industries exhaustively undertaking the manufacture of other articles made from clays. This is an industry that could be successfully conducted, not only in the cities, but in country districts, and would be a means of giving employment in outside centres, as has been the case in the Old World. I came from the south-western portion of Britain, where china clay of a high standard is produced, and am fully conversant with the possibilities of this industry. It would be a difficult matter to enumerate the different uses to which clay can be put. I trust the Minister will give careful consideration to the arguments I have adduced, and will consent to the general Tariff rate being increased by 10 per cent. The manufacture of porcelain ware should be extended. Is the Minister prepared to increase the rate?
– I cannot do it.
– Will the Minister agree to an increase of 5 per cent.?
– Western Australia is as rich in clay as any other State in the Commonwealth.
Mr. Gregory. They are producing better material there than in any other part of Australia.
– I am glad to hear it, and I hope to have the support of the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) in the proposal I am submitting,
– The manufacturers are quite satisfied with the present duties.
– Surely the honorable member will support me in this instance; he cannot say that an increased duty under this item will be a special charge upon the farming community.
– I do not think it is needed. The honorable member has not shown it to be necessary.
– I hope- that the honorable member for Dampier is not in favour of goods produced in cheap labour countries entering Australia to compete with those manufactured by our own people. During the war we were unprepared to meet our requirements of iron, wool, and timber, but we were in a hopeless position as regards cotton and clay products. During the war period the women of Australia found it practically impossible to purchase many articles manufactured from china, and this is our opportunity of encouraging local industries so that we shall be in. a position to meet all demands.
– We do not make china here.
– No, its production has been neglected to a serious extent, and the Acting Prime Minister (Sir Joseph Cook), I am sure, realizes that china products are greatly in demand. This is an industry which should receive every assistance, and though I appear to be merely “ beating the air,” I again ask the Minister if he cannot accede to my request. .
,- If it be the desire of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Mathews) to increase the general rate by 10 per cent., and not to interfere with the British rate, I shall support him.
– That is my desire.
– This is an instance in which it has been clearly shown that a large proportion of our requirements come from abroad, and not from Great
Britain. Here we have an opportunity of increasing the British preference by 10. per cent., and I hope the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) will take that into consideration.
– So he has.
– I do not consider that the present rates show adequate preference to British commodities. The preference to Great Britain should be at least double what it is, and I shall support the honorable member for Melbourne Ports in his proposal to increase the general Tariff to 50 per cent.
.- Of course industries ave stabbed at from abroad in a manner that at times does them injury. I have communications before me showing the competition we are subjected to in Australia. One does not wish to speak in unfriendly terms concerning the activities of other nations ; but we have to remember that in some countries the workmen are paid low wages, and work long hours, and it is time this Parliament made a stand in preventing competition of this sort. Prior to the war Germany commanded practically the whole of this trade, and when she lost it Britain began to pay greater attention to the manufacture of china and porcelain ware. When capital was invested in British industries, the Government subsidized them to such an extent that I believe they are now able to compete with the German product, that is, of course, if it is not “ dumped.” In Australia we are in close proximity to another country, whose shipbuilding operations have been on an extensive scale, and which owns a mercantile marine which is specially charged with ‘ the conveyance of goods manufactured in that country - I refer, of course, to Japan. This makes her a very serious competitor. The advantage Japan receives in consequence of her proximity to Australia, and the conditions under which goods are shipped, places her in a fortunate position, quite apart from the benefits J apanese manufacturers derive in consequence of cheaper production. If white men working in civilized conditions are to be properly protected, our local industries will have to be considered. Quite recently local manufacturers in this industry suffered in competition with Japanese manufacturers. Tenders were called for the supply of insulators for the city of Maryborough, in Queensland, and when tenders were received there was some doubt as to whether the insulators to be supplied under the accepted tender were of Japanese manufacture, and on inquiries being made the tenderer said that such was the case.
– Who accepted the tender?
– I presume the civic authorities. Information has been received that Australian manufacturers of insulators - which come under this item - have had to compete with goods coming from Japan, and unless we stand behind our Australian industries and protect them from this sort of competition they must go under. The Acting Prime Minister (Sir Joseph Cook), with his previous Free Trade predilections, would, I believe, stand up - especially in view of our experience during the war period - and say that it is time we protected our Australian industries.
– Protect them from whom ?
– The Japanese. Surely the honorable member for Moreton is in favour of that. We require insulators for our telephonic and telegraphic systems, and for a long time we have had to fight in this House to get the officials in the Postmaster-General’s Department to admit that those manufactured in Australia were good enough for the Postal Department. Now we have achieved that proud distinction, and to-day we are producing, not second or third-rate insulators, but an article that is not only equal, but in some cases superior, to those manufactured in other parts of theworld.
– I do not like the way this item is made up. I think china sbould be separated from the rest.
– I am referring more particularly to porcelain goods.
– We do not make china in Australia.
– We have made a series of successful attempts with Australian clays, and in different parts of the Commonwealth we have varying types quite equal to any found elsewhere. The raw materials are at our feet, and other nations have been laughing at Australia because we have shown such inactivity in erecting factories and machinery for the manufacture of goods which we consume, and which are imported. In my own constituency we were fortunate in having a man bearing a foreign name-he was a German - who has some knowledge of the manufacture of china and porcelain ware. There was some trouble concerningthis man, but he was a peace-loving individual, and left his country because he did not believe in the conditions under which he was working, and in the manner in which he was governed. A company was formed and, at Sunshine, they have been turning out cups and saucers and other lines of porcelain ware equal to anything in the world. This man has been instructing young Australians, with every prospect of firmly establishing one other phase of Australian industry. But, against the competition finder conditions existing to-day, the enterprise cannot make a successful stand. Cannot the Minister see his way clear to agree to a greater measure of protection?
– Forty per cent. is pretty substantial.
– The war taught even Great Britain that she must no longer look to Germany to supply her with goods of this class. She has decided to make them for herself.
– I move -
That the item be amended by adding the following words: - “And on and after 17th June, 1921-
The acceptance of this amendment will necessitate a corresponding amendment in the item dealing with “ earthenware,” since there are certain classes of these manufactures which approximate so closely that, when they involve matters of administration, We cannot tell one from another.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 238 (Roasting dishes, &c.) agreed to.
Fire and glazed bricks; bricks n.e.i.; fire lumps; fireclay manufactures n.e.i., ad val.;
British, 20 per cent.; intermediate, 25 per cent.; general, 30 per cent.
.- I ask for an increase of tbe duties, including those upon British products, to 25, 35, and 45 per cent. respectively. The manufacture of many of the different lines of glazed products is a fine art, and why should we not encourage the expansion of the industry here?
– I have considered the question, and these rates show increases of 5 per cent. and 10 per cent. on the intermediate and general rates in the 1914 schedule. As a matter of fact, the importations are very small.
– This is bulky stuff, and there is a great deal of natural protection afforded thereby.
– There is nothing in the argument about natural protection.
– It costs a lot to bring these bricks out from the Old Country. However, the honorable member ought to be satisfied, since the Minister has indicated that he will agree to an increase of 5 per cent. on the intermediate and general Tariffs.
– As a matter of fact, I had not made any such promise. However, I move -
That the item be amended by adding the following words : - “And on and after 17th June, 1921- ad val., British, 20 per cent.; intermediate, 30 per cent.; general, 35 per cent.”
.- Before the extra duty is agreed to, I would like to be assured that the additional measure of protection will not mean merely so much the more profit for the Australian manufacturer by reason of his advancing prices.
– Practically all the importations come from the United Kingdom, and the British preferential rate is not being amended.
– It is all very well to encourage Australian industry; but we do not wish the encouragement to be abused by the needless raising of prices, or by middlemen getting an extra “ cut.”
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 240 (Mosaic flooring, &c.) agreed to.
Earthenware, viz.: -
Spurs, stilts, and thimbles, adval., British, free; intermediate, 5 per cent.; general, 10 per cent.
Earthenware, brownware, and stoneware, including glazed or enamelled fireclay manufactures, n.e.i., ad val., British, 25 per cent.; intermediate, 30 percent. ; general, 40 per cent.
– I move-
That sub-item (b) be amended by adding the following words: - “And on and after. 17th June, 1921 -
Earthenware, brownware, and stoneware, including glazed or enamelled fireclay manufactures, n.e.i., and all kinds of porous insulating blocks, ad val., British, 25 per cent.; intermediate, 30 per cent.; general, 50 per cent.”
I desire to include all kinds of porous insulating blocks. Really, my purpose is to get over a departmental difficulty; but I also wish to increase the general Tariff to 50 per cent., as I indicated would be necessary a few minutes ago.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 242 (Glass), and item 243 (Glass, n.e.i.), agreed to.
Glass, viz.: -
Lenses, n.e.i.; locket, brooch, and watch glasses, ad val., British, free, intermediate, 5 per cent.; general, 20 per cent.
Lenses, edged, for spectacles, ad. val., British, 20 per cent.; intermediate, 25 per cent.; general, 35 per cent.
– I move -
That the item be amended by adding the following words: - “And on and after 17th June, 1921 -
Lenses, n.e.i.; locket, brooch, and watch glasses, ad val., British, free; intermediate, 5 per cent.; general, 10 per cent.
Blanks, fused, for bifocal lenses; and bifocal lenses partly or wholly finished, including such lenses imported in frames, ad val., British, 30 per cent. ; . intermediate, 35 per cent.; general, 40 per cent.”
Lenses, edged, for spectacles, except bifocal lenses, ad val., British, 20. per cent.; intermediate, 25 per cent.; general, 35 per cent.”
The lenses, of course, are not made here at all. Therefore, I have proposed to reduce the general rate. My purpose, further, is to split up the grouping of lenses for spectacles, so as to separate the bifocal, which are made here, and to place upon them a higher rate of duty.
– I object to this proposal. The lenses in my glasses are bifocal.
– As a matter of fact, it was the Acting PrimeMinister who brought this very matter under my notice.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 245 (Glass, &c.), item 246 (Scientific apparatus, glass), item 247 (Screens, process engravers’), item 248 (Tubes and rods of resistant glass), agreed to.
Item 249 (Mica).
.- It seems tome that the difference between the duties upon the raw material and the finished article, which amounts to only 10 per cent., is scarcely sufficient.
– I think that it is quite sufficient.
– Very well.
Item agreed to.
Bottles, flasks, and jars over 5 drams fluid capacity, fancy, ground, or cut glass, empty or containing goods not subject to ad val. duty,, provided that bottles, flasks, and jars ground only in the neck for the purpose of fitting the stopper shall not be deemed ground; glass stoppers; glassware n.e.i.; thermometers, other than clinical, ad val., British, 25 per cent.; intermediate, 30 per cent.; general, 40 per cent.
– I move -
That the item be amended by adding the following words: - “And on and after 17th June, 1021 - Bottles, flasks, and jars over 8 drams fluid capacity, fancy, ground, or cut glass, empty or containing goods not subject to ad val. duty, provided that bottles, flasks, and jars ground only in the neck for the purpose of fitting the stopper shall not be deemed ground; glassware n.e.i.; thermometers, other than clinical, ad val., British, 25 per cent.; intermediate, 30 per cent.; general, 40 per cent.”
The reason for the amendment is that the smaller bottle is not manufactured in Australia.
– Is that the Minister’s departmental information ?
– I thought that arrangements had been made for the manufacture of the smaller bottles.
– In future it will be the 1-oz. bottle that we shall start with. There is no alteration in the rate of duty proposed upon bottles of the larger size, but we wish to admit bottles of less than 8 drams fluid capacity free.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Bottle stoppers, n.e.i.; glass bottle marbles, ad val., British, free; intermediate, 5 per cent.; general, 15 per cent.
.- In this item I desire to group all bottle stoppers n.e.i. So far as I am aware, there are no bottle stoppers which are not being made in Australia. I therefore move -
That the item be amended by adding the following words: - “And on and after 17th June, 1921, Bottle stoppers - (a) Crown corks and all other bottle stoppers, including stoppers for re-sealing but not including glass-bottle marbles and goods classified under item 395, ad val., British, 35 per cent.; intermediate, 40 per cent.; general, 45 per cent. (b) Glassbottle marbles, ad val., British, free; intermediate, 5 per cent.; general, 15 per cent.”
I am proposing the omission of glassbottle marbles because I wish them to be admitted free. The duty upon Crown corks will be - British, 35 per cent.; intermediate, 40 per cent.; general, 45 per cent.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Bottles, flasks, jars, vials, and tubes, empty, of glass, earthenware, stoneware, or china. -
– I desire to secure an amendment of this item to make it harmonize with the amendment which I moved in item 250, where the Committee agreed to make the minimum-size bottle which is to be admitted free 8 fluid drams instead of 5 drams. I therefore move -
That the item be amended by adding the following words:-“ And on and after 17th June, 1921 - (a) Up to and including a capacity of 8 fluid drams, ad val., British, free; intermediate, free; general, 15 per cent.”
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Bottles, flasks, jars, vials, and tubes, of glass, earthenware, stoneware, or china, containing goods not subject to an ad valorem duty, and not classified under item 408 -
Up to and including a capacity of 5 fluid drams, per dozen, British, free; intermediate, 2d.; general, 3d.
– I desire to insert a similar amendment in this item, and I therefore move -
That the item be amended by adding the following words: - “And on and after 17th June, 1921 - (a) Up to and including a capacity of 8 fluid drams, per dozen, British, free; intermediate, 2d.; general, 3d.”
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Greene) agreed to-
That the item be amended by adding the following words:- “And on and after 17th June, 1921, (b) Over 8 drams and not exceeding 10 oz. fluid capacity, per dozen, British, 2d.; intermediate, 3d.; general, 4d.”
Item, as amended, agreed to.
– I move -
That sub-item (a) be amended by adding the following words : - “ And on and after 17th June, 1921, free.”
These gums do not come from Great Britain.
Mr.Riley. - They compete with our gelatine works.
– Not those which come under sub-item a. None of those gums, I repeat, come from Great Britain. They are used in various manufacturing processes, and I think that they should be admitted free.
.- I am sure that the dry gum of which I have a sample here comes into competition with our gelatine. It is used in the manufacture of lollies. I think that the Minister would do well to impose a duty upon dry gums, which, T am informed, come into serious competition with our gelatine manufacturers.
– My information is that dry gum does not come into competition with anything that is being done in Australia to-day . In the future, it is possible that some new process may be developed and that this gum may then come into definite competition with our own manufacturers. If, upon further examination, I find that it is necessary to levy a duty upon dry gum, I will either recommit the item or make arrangements for the matter to be raised later on. I feel certain that no injury will be done to any local industry by the adoption of my amendment.
.- the manufacturers of gelatine ask that gums which are used in the manufacture of confectionery, or as adhesives, shall be subject to the same duty as gelatine. That seems to me to be a fair request. Dry gum is used to mix with gelatine for the manufacture of jubes. The importation which I hold in my hand is described as Soudan gum, from Arabia, and it comes intocompetition with gelatine. According to the statement before me, it is used in the manufacture of lollies and adhesives.
– Do the manufacturers say so?
– Yes, the statement before me comes from the manufacturers. There is in the electorate of Hunter a large factory engaged in the production of gelatine.
.- I think the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) is confusing this with the next item, which deals with all prepared adhesives. The gums mentioned there come into direct competition with gelatine, but the gums included in this item, so far as my information goes, do not come into competition with gelatine in any shape or form.
– If the honorable gentleman finds later on that they do, he will recommit the item?
– Yes, if I find I am wrong, I shall do so.
.- While I appreciate the fact that the next item deals with the gums in which the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) is interested, I would point out to the Committee that the gums mentioned in this item enter into competition with a gum which is being produced in Western Australia from the blackboy tree, and is used in the manufacture of spirit varnishes and various lacquers. I have here a sample of that gum, which is produced in sufficient quantities in Western Australia to satisfy a big want there, and the industry, if encouraged, will be able to meet the requirements of the whole Commonwealth. The Minister (Mr. Greene) is making a mistake in making these dry gums free. He should at least provide for a duty of 10 per cent. in respect of imports from Great Britain, and 20 per cent. under the general Tariff. I shall deal with the matter fully when we reach the item rela ting to methyl alcohol. I ask honorable members to give some little . encouragement to this industry in Western Australia. It is not denuding our forests, but is using up what is really a pest.
– Do not the Japanese import that gum from Western Australia ?
– No, this local manufacture should take the place of a gum which is imported from Japan.
– I will look into the matter mentioned by the honorable member, and, if necessary, will recommit the item.
Amendment agreed to. Item, as amended, agreed to Item 255-
Glue, in dry form, per lb., . British, 1½d. ; intermediate, 2d. ; general, 3d. ; or ad val., British, 20 per cent. ; intermediate,25 per cent.; general, 30 per cent.; whichever rate returns tbe higher duty.
.- I understand that the honorable member forSouth Sydney (Mr.Riley) desires an of this item, which relates to gelatines that compete with a local industry. That industry is in a bad way owing to the competition of a foreign product made from cheaper gum. I ask the Minister to grant a reasonable increase on what appears to be the very moderate duty on gelatine of all kinds.
– We should like the duty to be increased to 45 per cent.
.- There is one thing that is necessary when we interfere with these duties. Whatever duty we impose on glue, we must impose on gelatine, and vice versâ. Here, again, there are grades of glue and gelatine where they approximate so closely that, short of a chemical analysis, it is impossible to tell whether the article is glue or gelatine. I need hardly say that both glue and gelatine are made from waste products. Gelatine is made from scraps of hides, and what is more or less the refuse of the tanneries. I am prepared to meet honorable members opposite to a certain extent. I move -
That sub-item (a) be amended by adding the following words: - “And on and after 17th June, 1921, per lb., British, 2d. ; intermediate, 3d.; general, 4d.; or ad val., British, 20 per cent.; intermediate, 30 per cent.; general, 35 per cent.; whichever rate returns the higher duty.”
I shall move a similar amendment to subitem c.
– The amendment does not give all that I want, but I am prepared to accept it.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Greene) agreed to-
That sub-item (c) be amended by adding the following words: - “And on and after 17th June, 1921, per lb., British, 2d. ; intermediate, 3d. ; general, 4d. ; or ad val., British, 20 per cent. ; intermediate, 30 per cent. ; general, 35 per cent.; whichever rate returns the higher duty.”
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 256 (Printing roller composition) ; item 257 (Slate slabs) ; item 258 (Wrought slate, n.e.i.) ; item 259 (Roofing slates) ; item 260 (Bath bricks) ; item 261 (Emery, oil, and whetstones) ; item 262 (Stone and marble) ; and item 263 (Pestles and mortars) ; agreed to. division ix. drugs and chemicals.
Item 264 -
Pyroligneous acid, acetic acid, and vinegar … .
Amendment (by Mr. Gbeene) agreed to-
That sub-item (c) be amended by inserting after the word “every” the word “extra”.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 265 (Acids) ; item 266 (Coal tar products) ; item 267 (Tar, pitch) ; and item 268 (Naphthalene) ; agreed to.
.- In the fruit-growing industry, and especially in apple growing, a spray called by the trade “ black leaf forty “ is used. It is not made here, and I understand cannot be made here. It is made from an inferior kind of tobacco leaf.
– I am going to make all nicotine sprays free.
– That is quite satisfactory.
– I am glad the Minister has made that announcement, because it relieves me of half the burden I was going to take up.
– Hear, hear ! I was sharpening my axe for him, too.
– The right honorable gentleman must have whispered a word into the Minister’s ear, because in his district, and all the districts around it, nicotine sprays are certainly of great value.
But another matter of very great importance is the question of sheep, cattle, and horse washes in liquid or powder form. A little while ago we had a great deal of trouble concerning sheep dip. Any one interested in primary production, and particularly in the” production of wool, which is the chief product of Australia, knows that we must have the best sheep dips if we are to produce the best wool. Whatever may he the actual experience of other honorable members; my own, as a wool-grower, has been that our Australian dips are not up to the best standard.
– You have Coopers here now.
– Personally I do not care for Coopers’ dip. That is, of course, a matter of opinion, and I know that the honorable member for Grampians (Mr. Jowett), who has had a great deal more to do with the matter than ever I had, believes that some of the local dips are good. I have had a fairly extensive experience with dips, and can say, without in any way wishing to injure the Australian product, because I believe in using Australian products whenever I can get them of equal quality with the imported, that the Australian dip has never, in my experience, met the full requirements of the market. It is very good in districts where you simply wish to deal with pests, where you dip your sheep merely to kill insects, and possibly to keep the fly off ; but where you are dipping, not only for those purposes, but also to improve the quality of the wool, then I think that most men who have had experience will agree that the imported dips have stood far and away above the Australian.
– Does the honorable member say that they dip solely to improve the quality of the wool ?
– I did not say “solely,” although I have known it done solely for that purpose. But where they dip chiefly for that reason, some of the imported dips have been far beyond the Australian. I have on quite a number of occasions seen sheep dipped, and have helped to dip thousands, purely for the purpose of improving the fleece. If you use the right dip it has a very beneficial effect, and is a paying proposition.
– Is it like using brillian tine?
– It keeps the wool cleaner and improves the tip of the wool very much. When the sheep are out under natural conditions, a certain amount of waste takes place on the tip of the wool; but if the sheep are dipped at the right time, a great deal of what is technically known as waste in the tip of the wool is eliminated. For that reason quite a number of people have in the past dipped their sheep purely for the purpose of improving the wool; but in nearly all cases dipping is resorted to for the twofold purpose of keeping the animals clean and improving the wool at the same time.
I have not had much experience with cattle dips, but have been told by quite a number who have used them that most of the Australian dips are too severe.
– I had fifteen bullocks killed the other day. I do not think it was an Australian dip that did that. I think it was an imported dip.
– I am pretty sure, from what I have seen and heard, that if the honorable member inquires closely into the case he will find that it was some crudely manufactured Australian dip. Some of our dips are very good, but they have not yet come upto the standard of the best imported.
The primary producer has quite enough burden to carry without having to pay more for his dips. We have imposed upon him additional expense for all his improvements in the way of his fencing wire, galvanized iron, and things of that kind. We have added to the cost of all his implements and increased to a remarkable degree the cost of his fencing. We have even this evening put an additional charge on his rabbit traps and other appliances for keeping down pests. It seems to me that we have put quite enough, and far too much, upon the primary production of this country. I do ask the Minister (Mr. Greene) to give the man on the land some consideration in connexion with dips. I know that one or two firms have been using the whole of their strength and influence in order to get their industry bolstered up.
– They have not bribed me yet.
– I do not insinuate that any one has been bribed. I know the honorable member is only joking ; but some people take up a remark of that sort seriously. So far as my experience has gone in connexion with the Tariff, the finger of scorn cannot be pointed at any one on either side of the House. I believe this schedule is being put through with absolutely clean hands.
I urge the Minister not to jeopardize further this tremendous wool-growing industry of ours for the sake of minor in dustries. We have already added enormously to the burden of the wool producer. Every man is aware that, with the charges imposed on the woolgrower even before the passage of this Tariff, it does not pay to grow wool at present prices. That is rather a serious statement to make; but every man interested in wool-growing will, I think, agree with me that, at the average price of wool as fixed here a little while ago. in connexion with the Bawra scheme, it would not pay to grow wool. Since we put that arrangement through this House a number of additional burdens have been imposed, and now along comes the Minister, advised, no doubt, by people not practically interested in wool-growing, but directly interested in sheep dip, to impose another burden which will reduce the quality of our fine merino wool.
It would not matter so much for Australia, as a whole, if the effect of this impost was likely to be reflected only in the poorer qualities of wool. It would certainly be very important to the individual wool-growers, but this matter goes even further than that, because while the man who grows inferior wool will have it still further lessened in value, the highclass wool, for which Australia has become famous all over the world, will be apt also to receive a check. We cannot afford to do anything which will in any way lessen the value of our high-class clip. That is the one thing above all others for which Australia has made a name.
– What do you think it would cost per sheep?
– I could not say offhand.
– Does the honorable member think it would be more than a farthing?
– Tbe actual dipping of sheep used to cost over1d. per head, but nowadays it would probably cost nearer 3d. I do not know what this charge will amount to.
– Less than½d. per sheep.
– Even if that is so, the man who has to dip from 20,000 to 35,000 sheep begins to consider the consequences. Very often the sheep are dipped more than once in a year. In fact, the dip is used in many cases throughout the whole course of the. year, more particularly to keep away the flies. I urge the Minister to reconsider this matter and reduce the duty to 10 per cent. British, leaving the intermediate at 20 per cent., and putting the general Tariff up, if he likes, to 40 per cent. or 50 per cent., because the only dips that really matter to us - the only ones which we consider completely outclass our own - are the British. I have already urged on more than one occasion, and will continue to urge, that we should give as much preference as possible to the Old Country; but in thiscase it is not so much a question of preference to Great Britain as that we want to maintain the standard for which we are noted- everywhere, as the producers of the greatest quantity of first class wool that the world handles.
– I propose to urge the Minister (Mr. Greene) to increase the duty on this item. Honorable members are doubtless aware that during the war pressure was brought to bear to increase the production of dips within Australia, and encouragement was given to certain firms to expect protection if they supplied the quantity required for Australian Wool-growers, &c. This promise brought William Cooper and nephews from England to establish their industry in Australia.
– Who gave that promise?
– I do not say that it was a direct promise, because that could be given only by this Parliament, but there was an understanding, as there was in regard to a number of matters during war time. The undertaking was that, as far as the Government were concerned, if the local manufacturers met the requirement of the Commonwealth they would be encouraged. There are now in Australia no fewer than twelve manufacturers of dips. I do not care what any honorable member says to the contrary - I haveknown dips ever since the first cattle tick was brought into Australia - no dip has given more satisfaction for cattle than the Royalcattle dip. Tt is absolutely adequate. Nothing better has been introduced from overseas. I can also assure the Committee that Victor Leggo’s cattle dip and sheep dip are equal to anything that has been imported.
– No, they are not.
– Many people are by nature conservative. Ifthey have had their clothes made by a certain tailor, they think no other tailor can make them as well That has been the case in connexion with dips. From practical experience I am sure that this industry deserves to be encouraged in order that, no matter what happens, the best quality of dip may be produced here for the requirements of this great continent. A large quantity of the material used in dip making is imported. We have increased the duties on that considerably, and if we are to protect the industry at all we must increase the duty on’ this item; otherwise, the oversea manufacturer will ba able to compete unfairly with us in Australia. It is not as if we were at the mercy of one or two firms, because already twelve firms are, I believe, established in the Commonwealth who can meet, and are meeting, all our requirements. Many honorable members consider Thomas’ a good dip, and that article is manufactured here. Some time ago there was an outcry against the Ministry for preventing the importation of Cooper’s dip, but Coopers have now established works here, and make a dip of the same quality as that which they used to send here from overseas. It must not be forgotten that the bulk of the materials used for the manufacture of sheep dip are dutiable at high rates; and I hope the Minister will increase the protection on dip by at least 5 per cent. to make up for that.
– He should do so, or reduce the rates on the raw material.
– We have already dealt with the duties on the raw material, I do not occupy time in this chamber unduly, but I consider it my duty, on matters of vital importance, such as this, to speak strongly. Doubtless the Minister has been approached by other’s in regard to this matter, and I hope that he will see his way to give adequate protection.
House adjourned at 10.5 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 16 June 1921, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1921/19210616_reps_8_95/>.