8th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Hon.J.M. Chanter) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Imprisonment Of Tax-Resisters
– In regard to aggrieved persons in the Northern Territory, I ask the Treasurer whether it is not a fact that residents there are now assessed for income tax by Ordinance on the same basis as that which was operating in South Australia before the transfer of the Territory to the Commonwealth, and that they are, therefore, paying a very much Tower rate than appliesto the general taxpayers of the Commonwealth?
– The honorable member is quite right. These men are in gaol, not for refusing to pay the taxes which are paid by every other Federal’ taxpayer in Australia, but for refusal to pay’ a local tax - a territorial income tax, which would correspond, I presume, with the State income tax.
– But the revenue so obtained goes into the Commonwealth Treasury?
– As a matter of fact it is spent in the Northern Territory in the interests of the people there, and for the development of the country.I want to make it quiteclear that it is not the ordinary income tax imposedbythe Federal authorities which they are refusing to pay. It is a territorial income tax.
– Who collects it?
– That is a matter of no concern. The point is that the tax hasbeen in operation practically-ever since the Territory has been known as such. It came over with the transfer of the Territory from South Australia. We incorporated the State . Statute, and adopted it. The tax was paid for many years by residents of the Northern Territory when the Territory was under South Australian control, and for many years later it was collected without the slightest trouble. Suddenly some real-. dents of the Territory took it into their heads that they would stop paying taxes. That, I think, was in 1918, and since then they have declined to pay any taxation. As the Territory has to be developed so that they may live in it, and since it has also to be governed at very great expense in their interests, they must pay these taxes voluntarily, or be compelled to pay them.
Mr.Considine.- What about their representation?
– The point I am trying to make is that their representation in this Parliament has nothing to do with this local tax for local purposes. Such an objection might apply to some taxes that we were imposing upon them, but surely not to this.
– In regard to the imprisonment of certain people at Darwin for the non-payment of taxes, which, of course, are a debt due to the Government, will the Acting Prime Minister ascertain whether in any other part of Australia the failure to pay a debt entails imprisonment upon the person who defaults ?
– I understand that what happened was that these mon were first summoned to the Court and judgment obtained against them, and, as they then would not pay, they were sent to gaol. They were not sent to gaol, however, by the Administrator or any other official of the Government other than the Judge; and surely the Judge oan be trusted to do whatisfair in these cases?
– Does the Acting Prime Minister intend to order the immediate release of the men imprisoned at Darwin ! If not, will the honorable gentleman tell us under what Commonwealth Act they are imprisoned?
– The Acting Prime Minister has already answered the question.
– The Acting Prime Minister has not done so, and I wish for an answer.
– I do not know that I can add anything to what I have already said. I know no sufficient reason for interfering with the process of the law in the Northern Territory.
– Then, as to the second part of the question?
– I have already explained that these men are not imprisoned for refusing to pay Federal taxation, but for refusing to pay a territorial tax.
– Under what Act?
– Under a South Australian Aot, which was incorporated in our own Ordinances governing the Territory.
– That is, there is no Act!
– Under these Ordinances, this same tax has been paid for many years - I think I should be safe in saying for a quarter pf a century, Now, all at once, these men take it into their heads to stop paying their taxes; and I am afraid we cannot encourage that sort of thing; in view of our obligations down here.
– Is the Treasurer aware that, on 5th September, 1911, a return was presented to Parliament, giving in minute detail particulars in regard to those honorable members who hadreceived the increased allowance agreed to some time previously, and also the names of those who had refused it, and had allowed the increase to revert to the Consolidated Revenue? Since this is so, the right honorable gentleman was incorrect in stating yesterday that, to give such a return in relation to the Parliamentary Allowances Act, would be to oreate a precedent; and I, therefore, ask whether he will now have placed on the table a return giving in detail the names of honorable members, and the amounts they have drawn from the date of the passing of the Parliamentary Allowances Act to the end of the present financial year.
– I am obliged to the honorable member for calling my attention to this precedent. I asked my officers if such a return had previously been presented, and was told that such a thing had not been done. It appears that they were wrong. I accept the honorable member’s statement that the details to which he refers were furnished in 1911; but I do not know what good would result from the publication of such a list just now. The honorable member ought to be quite all right. I see that he is on the “ honour roll “ in this respect. I will, however, consider the matter.
Press Statements as to New Appointments.
– In reference to a statement published in the Melbourne newspapers this morning concerning a number of new appointments said to have been made to the Commonwealth Public Service, will the Acting Prime Minister state whether the list refers to new positions which have been created by the Government, or merely represents the filling up of offices that had become vacant ?
– Some of them are new positions. I really do not know what is coming over the sub-editors and reporters of the newspapers in this State, but the statement made in the press this morning that twenty-five new appointments have been made to the Public Service is entirely misleading.
– Surely the right honorable gentleman would not expect anything else from these newspapers!
– I can only say that, of the number mentioned, twenty appointments have Been made, and that only six of those appointed have been taken into our own Public Service, and will appear on our own Estimates. Of the six, three need to be explained. Three of them are appointments under the Navigation Act. I believe that, in connexion with the administration of that Act, we are making as few new appointments as possible, but are using the lighthouse officers on the coast for the purposes of the Act. In that way, therefore, we cut out three of the six. They are not new appointments, except in the sense that the officers concerned are taking on other duties in addition to those previously performed by them. Of the remaining three, two of them are appointments to the new Flying Corps, and one to the control of the Aerodrome. The balance of the twenty relate to the mandated Territories. They will not appear on our Estimates, and will not be paid by the taxpayers of Australia.
– Are they not civil appointments to take the place of military officers?
– They will be on the Estimates for the mandated Territories, and, in all these cases, are replacing officers who werealready there. In that sense, therefore, they are not additional appointments. The civil regime is taking the place of the old military regime. It is greatly to be regretted that we cannot have a simple fact stated correctly in the press.
repatriation department and island Timber Areas.
– Can the Assistant Minister for Repatriation state whether any negotiations have been entered into between the Commonwealth Government and the Eesident Commissioner of the Solomon Islands for the lease of certain timber areas in those islands?
– The Commonwealth has as much timber as it wants at present, and has no intention of seeking timber in the islands. There are no negotiations pending at present between the Commonwealth and the Eesident Commissioner. On the contrary, the Commissioner has been informed that the Commonwealth has no further interest in the old negotiations that were opened up some time ago.
– Has the Treasurer any idea when the Taxation Commission will present their report, and will he endeavour to hasten the work of that body ?
– I understand that the Commission has now completed its inquiries in all the States with the exception of New South Wales. At the request of the chairman of the Commission I shall meet him in Sydney on Saturday, and I imagine the purpose of the interview will be to consult about the matter in which the honorable member is interested.
– Have investigations been made in connexion with the shipment of inferior wheat to South Africa? If so, is any report available in connexion with them, and is any action to be taken against those people who sent such wheat out of Australia to the detriment of its trade with South’ Africa ?
– It is difficult to. say who is to blame in the matter. Deficient wheat was sent from Australia, but the Wheat Board tell me that they are not to blame.
– There are two sides to this story .
– I think there are. I am not able to clear the matter up just yet, but I imagine that the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) is consulting General Smuts at Home in regard to it. My answer for the moment must be that the thing is not ready for decision, and that I cannot ascertain who is to blame for sending the wheat away.
– Has the attention of the Postmaster-General been directed to a paragraph appearing in to-day’s Age to the effect that the Queensland State Government has decided to establish a State lottery, the first prize in which is to be £10,000, and will he insist upon the embargo now operating against Tattersalls sweeps being raised against the person or persons who may be in control of or engaged in the promotion of this lottery ?
– I have not seen the paragraph, but I will consider the matter.
– Some months back
I asked the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) whether graders engaged in grading rabbits for export were employed by the Commonwealth or by the companies interested in the export trade. The reply furnished to me was that they were employees of the Commonwealth Government. I now wish to know whether these graders are paid their salaries out of a fund contributed to by the exporting companies or whether they are paid out of the Consolidated Revenue ?
– The graders are paid their salaries from the Consolidated Revenue, but the Commonwealth imposes a fee for inspection upon the meat companies or the rabbit-freezing companies, as. the case may be, which in the main meets the cost of these salaries. In other words, the service is made to pay for itself.
– Canthe Assistant Minister for Defence say when the general service and other war medals are likely to be issued to returned soldiers?
– I have no information in regard to the matter, but I shall make inquiries.
– Has the attention of the Acting Prime Minister been directed tothe usual monthly attack by the Age on the Canberra project in which it is stated that the fact that the Government are going on with works in the Federal Capital site is due entirely to the pressure of New South Wales members upon the Cabinet. I would like to know from the right honorablegentlemanwhether the fact that the Government are proceeding with works at Canberra is due to that pressure, or whether it is due, if not to the ‘pestilential attacks made by the Age, at any rate to the desire of the Government to fulfil their obligations to the people of Australia?
– I take strong exception to the terms used by the honorable member. He has not described the position accurately. ‘ He speaks of the “ monthly attacks “ of the Age upon the Canberra question.He would have been more correct if he had spoken of the daily attacks. I am afraid the Government j.ust now, ave not satisfying the people at all by the way in which they are proceeding. They are certainly unable to satisfy the enthusiasts from New South Wales. They are equally unable to satisfy the Age and the people in Victoria, who think that we are rushing pell-mell to financial destruction, because of the money which they, inaccurately, describe as being squandered at Canberra. All that the Government are doing at the present moment is discharging in a reasonable and moderate manner an obligation imposed upon them: by the Constitution.
– In view of the fact that the celebration of the birthday of the Prince of Wales is not observed on the actual birthday itself, causing considerable inconvenience to the commercial world, and that the climatic conditions at this part of the year are not at all congenial for holiday making; would the Acting Prime Minister see if the celebration of the birthday cannot take place at a better season of the year, when people are more likely to enjoy themselves ?
– I think I had better call the attention of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales to the fact that his birthday falls upon a day which is most inconvenient to the honorable member for East Sydney.
Balance-sheets of Companies.
– Will the Minister for Trade and Customs place on the table of the Library the balancesheets, for the past six or seven years, or a summary of the balance-sheets, of the companies engaged in the manufacture of paper and strawboardin Australia?
– I shall endeavour to obtain the information.
-Is the Treasurer aware that the New South Wales Workmen’s Compensation Act has in that State superseded the Miners’ Accident Relief Fund ? Is the honorable gentleman aware that by this change considerable hardship hasbeen imposed on invalid and old-age pensioners under the Commonwealth Act, their pensions being now stopped because that Act has not been amended so as to exclude beneficiaries under the Workmen’s Compensation Act, as in the case of the Miners’ Accident Relief Fund ? In the light of these facts, will the Treasurer afford an early opportunity to amend the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act so as toobviate thishardship ?
-I think that what the honorable member speaks of took place some years ago.
– No; thechange has only just come into operation.
-It was two- years ago ; butthe honorable member is right as to the effects.
– Last December was the date of the amending Act.
– The honorable member is two years behind.
– That does not answer my question.
– I understand thatthe Miners’ Relief Fund is regarded in the same light as an ordinary friendly society in’ regard to contributions and benefits.. Since the Miners’ Accident Relief Fund has been superseded,I am afraid that mining pensioners will have to take their place alongside other pensioners, who live-
– And suffer!
– If the honorable member chooses, he may use the word “ suffer,” but the mining pensioners must submit to exactly the same conditions as other pensioners. Although the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine) refers only to miners, I take it that he is suggesting a general revision of the Invalid and Oldrage Pensions Act so as to make, its provisions apply equally to everybody?.
– I wish to be sure that when people are given pensions, old-age or otherwise, it shall not be a matter of juggling between the States and the Commonwealth.
– There is no “juggling” that I know of. It is a matter of pure law; and what the honorable member is asking me to do is to change the law so as to benefit one section” of the community- only. . I cannot do that ; whatever changes in the law are made, they must affect every section of the community alike and be made by this Parliament.
– Has the attention of theMinister representing the Minister, for Repatriation . been called to a statement in the ‘‘press this morning by the Minister for Lands of Victoria, that under the land settlement scheme in that State 97 per cent. of the cases arc expected to result in complete success; and, if so, will the Minister bring the fact under the notice of the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Fleming) ?
– I have observed the paragraph referred to, and have to say that, in regard to land settlement, and also iu regard to War Service Homes, in most of the States, there has been a very commendable compliance by the soldiers with the conditions under both schemes.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The works referred to are now in hand.
asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
When any applications for naturalization are held over for any cause, will he arrange that a notification to that effect be sent to the applicants?
Mr. WISE (for Mr. Poynton).It is the practice, when for any special reason applications are not likely to be proceeded with for any considerable time, to notify applicants of the fact.
Mr. GIBSON (for Dr.Earle
Page) asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice - ]. What is-
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
– On the 24th June, the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) asked whether it was within my knowlede that there are certain ex-members of the Australian Imperial Force, one of whom is alleged to have enlisted at the tender ago of seventeen years, who are still in the Pentridge Stockade serving sentences that were im- posed by court martial, and whether I would supply the House with the terms of those sentences and the offences for which they were inflicted. I am now able to furnish tho honorable member with the following information : -
There are at present threemen undergoing imprisonment in Victoria for crimes committed whilst on active service. Their ages at the date of enlistment were, according to their statements, respectively -
18 years 10 months;
19 years 8 months;
34 years 11 months; and the offences and sentences are as follow: -
Robbery with violence - 7 years’ penal servitude.
(i) Escaping, (ii) shooting with intent - 20 years’ penal servitude.
Manslaughter - 10 years’ penal servi tude.
The sentences have, however, been reviewed from time to time, and substantial remissions have been granted in each case. It will bc seen that the crimes were of a non-military character.
In Committee of Ways and Means:
Consideration resumed from 28th June (vide page 9435). division x. - wood, wicker, and cane.
– I desire tomakeapersonalexplanation concerning a matter which arose in Committee some time ago. It was dealt with, . I think, by the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Fleming) and by the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory). It has to do with the manufacture of cardigan jackets. The honorable member for Robertson will recollect that he invited me, quite a while ago, either to substantiate the statements which I had made or to withdraw them.
– That was the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory). I was never so unkind as to make such a demand of the Minister.
– I was under the impression that, in the course of one of his speeches dealing with the Tariff, the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Fleming) had made some such reference. The specific statement which I made originally was uttered during the course of my first speech upon the introduction of the Tariff. I said-
I could give the Committee a long list of many contracts that were delayed through the lack of articles that were insignificant in themselves, but essential to manufacture. Our experience in that respect was not unique. Free Trade England had allowed certain portions of her trade to drift to other countries, and I venture to say that many a man is lying beneath the sod to-day because of that fact. The manufacture of, cardigan jackets and other knitted woollen goods was a case in point.
I call the special attention of honorable members to the fact that I cited; not only cardigan jackets, but “ other knitted woollen goods “ also. My speech continued -
These garments were sorely needed by the troops in the first bitter winter in France, when they went down in hundreds of thousands to pneumonia.
Hansard records that I said “hundreds of thousands.” Asa matter of fact, my expression was “hundreds and thousands.” I have turned up my original notes, and have checked that point, which, I think, will be obvious.
– There were some interjections, I believe, at about that stage of the Minister’s speech. Did not the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Mcwilliams) make some comment concerning cardigan jackets?
-H ansard reports several interjections at a later stage. My speech continued -
England had the wool and the machinery for the manufacture of cardigan jackets, but she had not got, and for a time did not produce, the knitting needles for the machines. The manufacture of those needles had been allowed to drift to Germany, which was the only country that was supplying this class of knitting needle before the war.
What I was then endeavouring to show was that an industry, insignificant, perhaps, in itself, was, nevertheless, often alsolutely requisite for the completion of some other and far more important process of manufacture.
Mr.Gregory. - The Minister’s statement carried great weight because of his reference to so many lives having been lost for lack ofcardigan jackets.
– I re-affirm that I did not limit my remarks to cardigan jackets, but specifically mentioned “and Other knitted woollen goods”; and I added that those items were a case in point. I now wish to showfirst, in . the most definite possible way, that England had not got these needles.I hold in my hand a report of the Engineering Trades (New Industries) Committee, which was presented to the British Parliament in December, 1918.On page 33 of that document, paragraph. 185, the Committee states, under the heading “ Latch needles making machinery “-
There is an. immense demand forlatch needles, which is not being adequately met by home production. These needles before the war came almost entirely from Germany. The Branch Committee is. of the. opinion that, to manufacture latch needles economically, larger factories must be developed, the amount of capital must be greatly increased, and the manufacture put on modernlines.
The Committee proceeds to give its recommendations concerning,thenature of the proposed Government assistance, which it deemed necessary to place the industry on a firm foundation. Those recommendations were as follow: -
Thatwas in 1918; at theend of the war. Ihaveanother file of documents before me, taken from the Records Branch of my Department. The data reveals the shifts to which. England was forced to obtain these : needles, during the progress of the war. The facts which I. shall now quote are taken from our own records, through. the High Commissioner’s Office; and. the. letter in which the particulars are contained is dated from the office of the High Commissioner, 19th March, 1915. I propose to omit certain names, and to leave out reference to the channels through which England got these German needles. The report states : -
It is stated that the needles are required in the Commonwealth-
I should here mentionthat this matter had relation to a certain importation into Australia -
I will say, “ a certain channel.” The document proceeds: -
The “ certain channel “ referred to- who also act in a similar capacity for the German manufacturers.
It is clear that England had to adopt methods of smuggling to obtain latch needles in order to get the industry going. These facts’ fully establish that point. NowI wish-to- turn to. the question concerning whether the suppliesweresufficient or not. The honorable member for Dampier has furnished me with a statement issued from the War Office. I draw particular attention to the point that, though the facts were perfectly well known, those who drafted this report say therein” that it is probable that the trade was largely dependent on Germany for thesupply of hosiery needles before the war. I will say that, not only was it probable, but that England, in fact, had been absolutely dependent on Germany, and was equally dependent after war broke out. That is a truth which ought to have been well known. I have added up the figures contained in the honorable member’s statement concerning the total issue of cardigan jackets to the end of November of the year in question, and I find that the articles numbered 240,120. My remarks applied to other things beside cardigan jackets, as I have more than once this afternoon stressed. I have had some difficulty in ascertaining the number of British troops in France and elsewhere at that time, but Volume X. of the New Age Encyclopaedia says at page 313-
Great Britain, alone of European nations, began the war with a voluntary army. Her Expeditionary -Force consisted of 150,000 very highly trained and equipped men, of which about 70,000 (i.e.) four divisions and a cavalry corps) were transported across the Channel with marvellous secrecy and despatch between 7th and 16th August. This forco was quickly reduced to somewhere about 00,000, but by 1st October had been augmented to 150,000, and by the end ofNovember to double this number.
That is to say, at the end of November there were 300,000 British troops in France, and the total issue of cardigan jackets was only . 240,000.
– Not the total issue, but the total receipts.
– I am quoting the total issue from the return which the honorable member placed in my hands.
– The British Government had placed a number of orders to be made up by the French people.
-The return says that on the date mentioned 240,000 cardigan jackets had been issued.
– That would probably include the French issue.
– I presume that it does. Consequently, of the troops in France 60,000 were not supplied with cardigan jackets. In this return nothing is said about the enormous number of men in camp to whom, equally with the other soldiers, my remarks applied. So I can say nothing about the number of jackets issued to them. But F. W. Wile, in his book The Assault, quotes a speech made by Lord Kitchener at the Guildhall on the 9th November, 1915, which includes this passage -
But we want men, and still more men, and we now have 1,250,000 in training.”
– Why does not the Minister read the whole of the letter I gave to him ?
– I have quoted the material portions. The. only question was as to whether there was a sufficiency of cardigan jackets. The writer says that there was no deficiency. I have given this explanation in order to confirm the information which was supplied to me and upon which I based the statement I made to the Committee.
Mr.FRANCIS (Henty) [3.14]. - I propose to move -
That sub-item (a) be amended by the addition of the following words : - “ And on and after 30th June, 1921, ad val., British, 15 per cent. ; intermediate, 15 per cent.; general, 20 per cent.”
A great deal of the discussion upon this item last night consisted of the argument that, because we have not imported a large number of spokes recently, we need have no fear for the future. The following figures will emphasize the need, for increased protection of this industry: During the twelve months ended 30th June, 1919, we imported 227,925 spokes of a value of £3,374; during the year ended 30th June, 1920, we imported £6,932 worth; and during the eleven months ended 31st May, 1921, £28,446 worth. Those figures show a startlingincrease, and I believe that within the next twelve months the increase will be even greater. I ask honorable members to recollect that during ohe eleven months we imported £28,000 worth of a manufactured article that could be made in Australia.
-Where did the honorable memberget those figures?
– I shall let the Minister see myauthority. Will he agree to -an increase of the general duty by 5 per cent. ?
– All I can say is that if, on inquiry, I find there is a necessity for an increased duty, I shall recommit the item.
– I do not wish to detain thi Committee. I am prepared to do anything to help the Minister, provided he wingive the matter consideration.
.- If thefigures placed before the Committee are correct- and they have not been denie-
-My trouble is that I have not got the official figures.
– Those which have been quoted by the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Francis) support the statements that were made last night. I had been told that the imports were increasing very rapidly, and that was why I was so anxious last night to do something to secure this industry. If the value of imports increased in one year from £6,000 to £28,000, it is clear that the trade is going out of Australia.
Mr.Robert Cook. - Does the honorable member desire to keep hickory out of Australia ?
– No; the importation of hickory is provided for in another item. The only question at issue now is whether our people are to be given the opportunity of working it up in Australia, or whether that work is to be done by people on the other side of the world. The Minister would be well advised to increase the general duty by 5 per cent.
– If the position is what the honorable member represents it to be, I do not think that an increase of 5 per cent. would be effective.
– If the Minister will promise to recommit this sub-item if, on inquiry, he finds that there has been a considerable increase of imports during the last eleven months, I am prepared to let it pass for the time being.
– Ishall have to look into the whole question. If, on inquiry, we find it necessary torecommit, we shall do so.
– If the honorable gentleman finds that there is anything like a considerable increase in importations, will he consider that a justification for recommittal?
-Very well; I am satisfied with that assurance.
Item agreed to.
Wicker, bamboo, and cane : -
Basketware n.e.i., ad val., British, 35 per cent. ; intermediate, 40 per cent. ; general, 45 per cent.
– Imove -
That sub-item (d) be amended by inserting after the words, “ Basketware n.e.i.,” the words, “up to and including 29th Jine. 1921.”
The object of this amendment is toremove basketware entirely from this item, our intention being to bring all basketware under item 376.
– I was going to suggest that the words “with or without fittings “ be added here, but if the sub-item is removed to item 376, those words will apply.
– It is to get over that very difficulty that we are proposing to put this sub-item under item 376.
Amendment agreed to.
Item further consequentially amended, and agreed to.
Item 302 (Handles) agreed to.
.- Subitem a of item. 303 enumerates many articles made of wood, but I should like the -Minister (Mr. Greene) to introduce a new sub-item relating to clothes-pegs. We have made the boast throughout the Tariff debate that we are prepared to do everything within reason to establish local industries. There has been established in this city since the war an industry which has been capitalized, and is being conducted, principally, by returned soldiers. I refer to the manufacture of clothespegs. The industry is in its infancy, and I understand that the factory to which I refer is the only one of its kind in Australia. Prior to the war, all clothes-pegs used in this country were imported from America, and the Americans had been charging what they liked for them. A number of our soldiers returning from the war, vid America, saw the possibility of establishing the industry in Australia, and particularly for the reason that some of our Australian timbers lend themselves specially to the manufacture of clothespegs. They decided, therefore, to enter upon their manufacture in this city. They had no sooner done so than they met with opposition from manufacturers overseas, and unless they are granted some greater protection than is afforded them under the item as it stands, their industry is likely to be wiped out. I ask the Minister, therefore, to consider favorably the insertion of a new sub-item giving the industry the protection that it needs.
– Does not the honorable member think that the duty of 45 per cent. under the existing general Tariff is sufficient ?
– Under existing conditions it is not.
– I think it is adequate today, but the trouble is as to what may happen in the future.
– What is required is a Tariff that will place the industry on a perfectly sound footing. Many honorable members have spoken in support of an increased Tariff to foster industries already well established, and if they are logical they will support the proposition I make.
– Would a flat rate of so much per gross be more satisfactory ?
-. That would meet the ease much better. I suggest a flat rate of1s. per gross under the British and intermediate Tariffs, and, of ls. 6d. per gross under the general Tariff. That would give the industry all the protection it required.
– I am prepared to move along those lines.
– Then I shall say no more.
Amendment (by Mr. Greene) agreed to-
That the item be amended by adding the following : - “ (d) Clothes pegs, on and after 30th June, 1921, per gross, British, ls. ; intermediate, ls.; general, ls. 6d.”
.- Will the Minister (Mr. Greene) consider in connexion with this item the desirableness of applying a uniform rate of duty to a number of articles covered by it, as well as by items 305 (a) and 305 (e) such as metal bedsteads and cots, manufacture of metals n.e.i., manufacture of wicker and cane n.e.i., manufacture of wood, n.e.i., furniture, n.e.i., and chair seats of any material. Importers would be saved a great deal of trouble if uniform duties of 30 per cent. under the British Tariff, 40 per cent. under the intermediate Tariff, and, say, 50 per cent. under the general Tariff were imposed. If that were done, we would also give a slightly greater preference to British imports.
– I could not, without carefully looking into the whole matter, say what would be the effect of the alteration suggested by the honorable member (Mr. Gregory). I could not promise to make such a revision as he sug gests without knowing what I was doing. I will look into the matter, and should it become necessary to recommit this item in order to bring it into line with others, I shall do so.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 304 (Oars and sculls) agreed to.
Item 305 (Furniture n.e.i.).
.- Under sub-item (a) a duty of 35 per cent. is imposed in respect of British imports, while provision is made for a duty of 45 per cent. under the intermediate Tariff, and of 50 per cent. under the general Tariff. I propose to move that the duties be 30 per cent., 40 per cent., and 45 per cent., so as to bring the sub-item into line with item 303 (a), or if the Minister (Mr. Greene) would prefer it, that the duties be 30 per cent., 45 per cent., and 50 per cent.
– I should be glad if the honorable member would allow the item to pass now, on the’understanding that if we find it necessary we can come back to it. I should not like to commence making such alterations at this stage, because there are other items which are in line with this.
– I merely desire to secure uniformity, and to give British goods a little more preference.
– There is not much furniture coming in here from Great Britain.
– No. This is a small matter, and I shall notpress my proposal. I shall be satisfied if the Minister will look into it with the object of securing what I consider to be a very necessary uniformity.
Item agreed to.
Item 306 (Photograph frames) agreed to. division xi. - jewellery and fancy goods.
Items 307 (Shells, weapons, and curios; old coins) ; 308 (Combs, toilet and’ shaving sets) agreed to.
Fancy goods, viz. : -
Card cases, hatpins, matchboxes, serviette rings and clips, sovereign purses, n.e.i.; button hooks, glove stretchers, shoe horns and lifts, thimbles, toys, ivory and other ornamental ligures, feather dusters,ad val., British, 25 per cent. ; intermediate, 35 per cent. ; general. 50 per cent.
Articles f or personal wear, not including articles partly or wholly of gold, silver, or other precious metal or imitations thereof or partly or wholly of pearls or precious stones or imitations thereof, viz. : - Beads, bangles, necklets, studs, sleeve links, and tie clips, ad val., British, 25 per cent. ; intermediate, 35 per cent..; general, 50 per cent. …
– I suggest a new reading for sub-item b as follows: -
Fancy goods, n.e.i., card cases, match boxes, serviette ring3 and clips, purses, except partly or wholly of gold or silver; wallets, button hooks, glove stretchers, shoe horns and lifts, toys, ivory, and other ornamental figures, feather dusters.
A specialist, commenting upon this suggestion, writes as follows: -
The inclusion of fancy goods, n.e.i, would simplify classification, while the deletion of the word “ sovereign “ would includeall purses not mentioned in item 300 under this sub-item to which they belong as much as do the other articles enumerated. The deletion of the letters “ n.e.i.” after “purses” and the insertion in lieu thereof of the words “except partly or wholly of gold or silver “ would make reading clearer in conjunction with sub-item (a). Wallets also should appear here, seeing that card cases are included. Purses and wallets are now included in item 376 (a), which is a confused mass of unmeaning verbiage as regards these lines. The effect would be to lower the duty under the British Preferential Tariff by 10 per cent. on same.
In regard to sub-item c the same specialist comments as follows’: -
The wording of this item still leaves the classification of the articles enumerated very vague. Take, for instance, a collar stud - a rolled gold, or gilt, or yellow metal stud, or a stud of metal with on imitation pearl or precious stone, that is a piece of glass, inserted, would be dutiable under item 314 at 45 per cent., 55 per cent., and 60 per cent., while gold or silver collar studs would actually be dutiable at a lower rate than the imitations. If the words “ or imitations thereof “ were deleted all these articles, other than those of gold or silver, or containing pearls or precious stones, would be classifiable thereunder. It is, therefore, suggested that this alteration be made accordingly.
I am given to understand that a cheap collar stud is classified at higher Tates of duty than one made of gold or silver or any other precious metal. I would like the Minister to make a note of these points for consideration later on.
– I shall take a note of the points raised by the. honorable member for future consideration?, because I could not deal with them on the spur of the moment.
Item agreed to.
Items 310 (Articles used for outdoor and indoor games); 311 (Bullion and gold, &c); 312 (Beads, catches, clasps, points, and brooch pins) ; and 313 (Jewellery unfinished), agreed to.
Item 314 -
Jewellery commonly known as rolled gold, jewellery under 9 carat, imitation jewellery, ad val., British 45 per cent. ; intermediate, 55 per cent. ; general, 60 per cent.
.- The duty on imitation jewellery is higher than that on gold or silver jewellery.
– Actually, that is not so.
– Under the next item jewellery made of. gold and silver bears a duty of 40 per cent., 50 per cent., and 55 per cent.
– In practice the amount paid in duty upon imitation jewellery works out at a. very much lower amount as compared with the duty payable on the real article. I admit that the rates are high, but they are luxury duties. The rate paid on imitation jewellery, which is of intrinsically low value, although it is a high ad valorem rate, works out in practice very much less than does a lower ad valorem rate, in itself high, upon the more valuable articles of gold or silver.
Item agreed to.
Item 315 (Jewellery, n.e.i.) agreed to.
Item 316 (Imitation precious stones and pearls) amended in punctuation and agreed to.
Item 317 (Watch and clock main and hair springs, compasses, &c), agreed to.
Watches, clocks, and chronometers, n.e.i; time registers and detectors; opera,field, and marine glasses; pedometers; pocket counters and the like, ad val., British, 25 per cent.; intermediate, 30 per cent.; general, 45 per cent.
– I suggest that watches should be transferred from sub-item a to sub-item b to get the benefit of the lower duty. These articles are not made here, and what are known as boys’ watches are imported in large quantities.
.- I hope that the request submitted by the honorable member will be granted’, so that the people of the Commonwealth, rich and poor alike, will be in the position to buy watches. It is purely a revenue item, and has nothing whatever to do with affording protection to any industry.
.- As there is a limited manufacture in all the articles mentioned under this item, I hope the British preferential rate will be slightly reduced. It is purely a revenue item, and we could easily make the rates in sub-item b 20 per cent., 30 per cent., and 45 per cent.
– I am prepared to accept a somewhat lower rate of duty on watches and chronometers.
– Place watches in sub-item b.
– I cannot do that.I am prepared to make watches 10 per cent., 2.0 per cent., and 30 per cent. Imove -
That the following words be added to subitem (a): - “And on and after 30thJune, 1921-
(1) Clocks, n.e.i.; time registers, and detectors; opera, field, and marine glasses; pedometers; pocket counters, and the like, ud val., British, 25 per cent. ; intermediate, 30 per cent. ; general, 45 per cent.
Watches and chronometers n.e.i., ad val.., British 10 per cent.; intermediate, 20 per cent.; general, 30 per cent.”
.- I must enter my protest against this action by the Minister (Mr. Greene). Watches can only be classed as a luxury, and should, therefore, bear their fair proportion of duty, though I should not object if there were some slight concession made in the matter of British preference. Up to the present we have been placing heavy imposts on all the articles which are required by those people who are developing this country, and yet we find a proposal of this kind when it is a matter of a toy, or something that any one might reasonably , do without.
– Is a watch a luxury?
– Surely any person who requires a watch is able to afford one, though, under this Tariff, a farmer might find some difficulty in doing so.
.- I join the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) in protesting against this pro posal by the: Minister (Mr. Greene). It is remarkable that the honorablegentleman should so readily assent to a. request of this kind, when primary producers, who are creating that wealth which keeps every class of industry going, and have to compete with black labour elsewhere, are denied any advantage. It has been truly said that the country can live without the cities, but that the cities cannot live without the country, and the Government have been blamed by the press for its centralizing policy; but on an itom of this kind, which does not advance the national development one bit, the Minister is prepared to reduce the duties by over 100 per cent. I fear for the future of Australia when we see such unsympathetic consideration extended to those who do not deserve it.
– I am not at all surprised at thearguments advanced by the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) and the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Prowse). Apparently it is impossible for those gentlemen to understand the difference between a revenue duty and a protective duty. It is that difference which explains why in one case, in a matter which is comparatively insignificant, I am prepared to accept a suggestion of the kind referred to, while, in another case, I do not do sobecause there are involved protective duties for the establishment of industries here. I presume the people in the country, in common with the people of the cities, will get whatever advantage accrues from this proposed reduction in the duty.
.- It would be interesting to know why the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best), suggested that watches should be removed from sub-item a to sub-item , b, for he must have good and sufficient reasons for so doing. I am glad to see that the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Francis) now seems inclined to do what is the fair thing in regard to the Tariff, but I should like to know whether this proposed reduction of duty will result in the purchaser and the user of watches obtaining any benefit. There must be some reason for the proposed reduction, and- if I were informed in regard to it, I might employ it in my efforts to induce the Minister to reduce other duties.
– It is a revenue duty pure and simple.
Question - That the words proposed to be added be so added - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 24
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 319 (Records for Gramophones) agreed to.
Films for kinematographs -
British, free; intermediate, free; general, free.
– I desire to make a. number of amendments int his item. The first, which I now move, is -
That the following words be added to subitem (b) : - “And on and after 30th June, 1921, (b Kinematographs, n.e.i., including are lamps for projection . purposes, ad val., British, 20 per cent. ; intermediate, 35 per cent. ; general, 40 per cent.”
This is to make it quite clear that the duty covers the complete machine.
Amendment agreed to.
– I now desire tomove an amendment, the effect of which will be to take films for home kinematographs from their present position in paragraph 2 of sub-item c, and place them where they will be subject to a lower rate. These home kinematographs are very largely used in schools, and films which are educational are not dutiable. The ouly films which are dutiable are those which are of Australian subjects; for example, depictive of an Australian industry. Those would be dutiable, even though they were educational. If a film is of an Australian subject it is regardedasone which ought to have been photographed in Australia by Australians, and made here also by Australians. Films which are dutiable comprise dramatic films and, I repeat, films of Australian subjects.But it has been represented to me by those who are interested in using the home kinematograph that among a series of pictures shown to children for educational purposes there are generally a few devoted to amusement.. We propose to’ permit them to be brought in at a lower rate of duty. There is a further amendment which I shall propose also to section 2 of sub-item c. The effect of this will be that the British preferential rate will apply only to films which have been taken in Great Britain ; that is to say, the picture itself must have been made in Great Britain. My Department has experienced considerable trouble with firms claiming the British preferential rate on films actually produced and made in America, but duplicates of which have been printed in Great Britain. We do not desire to grant British preference in suchcircumstances. I ask the Committee to consent to a proviso which will have the effect of giving the preferential rates on films, the originals of which have been actually made in Great Britain. I move -
That the itembe further amended by adding the following to sub-item (c) : - “ And on and after 30th June, 1921 -
British, free; intermediate, free; general, free.
Exposed or developed films representing dramatic or Australian subjects -
Provided that any such films printed from a negative which was not the produce or manufacture of the United Kingdom shall not be entitled to entry at the rate of the British preferential Tariff under this sub-item.”
.- I suggest that the Minister (Mr. Greene) move his amendment in two sections, so as to keep separate all relation to films for home kinematographic purposes. I have no objection to the proposals in the latter regard; but, with respect to films for ordinary show purposes, I have an important suggestion to offer.
– Do I understand that the honorable member is prepared to agree to my amendment down to and including paragraph o of sub-section 2?
– That is so.
– The desire of the Committee will be met, Iunderstand, if I state the Minister’s amendment in two sections. I therefore put first the following:
That the item be further amended by adding the following to sub-item (c) : - “And on and after 30th June, 1921 -
(1) Sensitized films and films n.e.i., British, free; intermediate, free; general, free.
Exposed or developed films representing dramatic or Australian subjects -
Suitable for use only with home kinematographs, per lineal foot, British,½d. ; intermediate,½d. ; general, ½d.”
Amendment agreed to.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.I now put the remainder of the Minister’s amendment, as follows : - “ (b) Other, per lineal foot, British,1d.; intermediate, l½d.; general, l½d.
Provided that any such films printed from a negative which was not the produce or manufacture of the United Kingdom shall not be entitled to entry at the rate of the British preferential Tariff under this sub-item.”
.- I suggest that the Minister agree to make the rates of duty ad valorem, or to impose a fixed or ad valorem duty, whichever rate is the higher.
– I have considered the matter very carefully, but the honorable member’s proposal is impracticable. I cannot agree to impose an ad valorem duty.
– I am astonished at the attitude of the Minister. Practically the whole of the production of pictures, so far as the Australian public is concerned, is carried on in the United States of America. There are numbers of famous picture stars, among whom I may mention, as an example, Charlie Chaplin. Against his ability I say nothing, but I do complain that this artist is drawing large sums of money out of this country, and is not paying one penny of taxation to the Commonwealth. When theatrical artists come to Australia - and some of the finest in the world do come here - they are immediately pounced upon by the. Treasury, and compelled to pay income tax upon their earnings in the Commonwealth.The “movie” stars in America, according to the statements of leading men in the picture-show business, practically dictate the terms upon which their pictures are to be exhibited in Australia. If only for the purpose of making men who are earning large incomes out of the Australian people pay their share towards the revenue of the country, the Minister (Mr. Greene) should agree to make the duty ad valorem. The fixed duty he has proposed is utterly ridiculous.
– It would be a good thing if a lot of the pictures were not allowed to come in. at all.
-No doubt, there are some pictures which should be excluded; but there are others which are of great benefit to the community. It has been stated that the importers of films estimate their value at about 4d. or 5d. per foot. It is upon that estimate that this duty is based, and an examination shows how hypocritical such a valuation is. Some pictures have an enormous value on account of their capacity to attract the public and earn large sums of money. The value per foot of the film is no indication of the value of the picture. The fairest way would be to impose an ad valorem duty. Pictures in which the star is Charlie Chaplin are worth many thousands of pounds. It is ridiculous to value a picture in which he or Mary Pickford figures at only 5d. per lineal foot. When those who control the picture industry in Australia complain of the enormous percentage of duty we are imposing in collecting1½d. per foot on films that they value at 4d. or 5d. per foot, they are throwing dust in the eyes of the Government. I cannot see why the Minister should object to adding to this sub-item a certain duty ad valorem, and collect either that or the fixed duty, whichever is the higher.
– Would- it not be better to encourage the importation of the best pictures, and keep the others out?. The tendency of the ad valorem duty would be to prevent the better pictures from coming here.
– Not at all. The value of a picture depends entirely upon its capacity to. attract the people, and those which . have a big drawing power should not be allowed in atthesame ridioulous’ rate of duty as is a picture for which an intelligent person would not pay 2½d. It has been said that anybody daring to suggest that picture films should bear an increased duty would be endeavouring to put an additional burden on the workers and their children. I consider that the amusement ‘tax on all charges of admission up to ls. should be remitted immediately. Anyrevenue lost in that way could be recovered by an ad valorem duty on films.
-I have already given this matter my careful consideration.
– Does the Minister consider that l½d, per foot is a fair duty ? Has he made inquiries as to the actual value of pictures of Mary Pickford. Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, and Fatty Arbuckle, and what showmen in Australia are called upon to pay for them ? I am not prepared to allow pic- ture artists thousands of miles away to draw a huge revenue from the people of this country, and not pay one penny in taxation. We should consider also the building up of the moving picture business in Australia. Mr. John W. Hicks, managing director of Paramount Pictures is reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, of the 27th May last, as having said -
Up to the end of 1919, the main picture business was in the control of five stars who were in n position to compel the producers to pay them any fee they demanded.
We are practically at the mercy of the “movie” stars in America. In this morning’s paper, Mr. Hicks is reported to have said -
The firm -hoped to establish picture studios here, but unless exhibitor and producer were to work in unison, pictures could not be profitably produced. Also many changes would havetobemade. Hitherto about five persons dominated the’ moving picture business.
He said that the whole picture business was controlled by two orthree individuals. What he seeks to establish in Australia is- not so much a star- artist as a star picture, in which the story and not the artist is- the main feature. I would like the Minister to explain to the Committee why he insists on retaining the duty . in its presentunsatisf actory -form.
– I have gone carefully into “the question as to whether it is possible to impose an ad valorem duty on these films. The possibility of getting extra revenue out of the picture show business occurred to my mind, and I shall explain to the Committee why I did not proceed with it. In the first place none of these films, so far as I can learn, are purchased outright. There are some for which certain definite. ‘sums are paid, but other arrangements are entered into which make it almost impossible to arrive at the ad valorem duty which should be paid on any of the films. There are three , distinct ways in which payment for films is madeby the picture, show proprietors in Australia. Firstly, the filmis invoicedat practically the cost of production of the film itself, not the picture, and exclusive of the salaries of artists, cost of staging, &c. In addition to this, however, certain royalties are charged in the form of a lump sum, which” usually equals from three cents to four’ cents per foot. In the second method the. film is invoiced at cost, and in addition to this a. percentage of the gross takings for the use of thefilm in . Australia is remitted to America. The amount so remitted depends upon the success of the film as an attraction in the Commonwealth. This is the usual method when the purchaser in Australia is a branch house of an American company, the percentage remitted to America being usually . about 65 per cent. The third method is that, in the case of some companies, the parent houses of which are in America, the film is invoiced . at cost, and all profits are remitted to the parent house. Itis. practically impossible to arrive at the ad valorem duty offilms when the business, is handled in those ways.
– What percentage on the value does the Minister regard these duties as representing?
– A duty of1½d. per foot on the value of the film is not very high. I have no figures which would enable me to say what percentage the duty represents on the value of the picture.
– In what difficulties will the Department be placed if we retain the fixed duty, and add “or ad. val., British, 10 per cent. ; intermediate, 15 per cent. ; and general, 20 per cent. ; whichever is the higher.”
– Will the honorable member explain to me how, having regard to the arrangements under which films are imported, it is possible for me to arrive at an ad valorem duty.
– You could soon make the film importers declare the values.
– That would be eitremely difficult. I have gone into this matter’ with my officers, and I am perfectly satisfied that the administrative difficul ties in collecting anad valorem duty on films are almost insuperable.
– No harm would be done byinserting an alternative ad valorem duty, which need not be collected if it is found to be impracticable.
– The difficulty is that the law compels us to ascertain whether the fixed duty or the ad valorem duty is the greater, and my officers inform me that itis practically impossible to arrive at the value of the great majority of the films.
– I think the Customs officers are much abler than the Minister’s remark suggests.
– After some experience of the administration of the Customs Department, and knowing the difficulties associated with valuations of this kind, I agree with them that the obstacles to the collection of an ad valorem duty are almost insuperable.
.- I recognise the difficulty which confronts the Minister (Mr. Greene), but it appears to me that because of obstacles created by the firms controlling thepicture shows in America they are enabled to escape just taxation. If in respect of other commodi ties the importers made the assessment of duty difficult, we would not be justified in wiping out the duty. I suggest to the Minister that every film imported into Australia should be submitted to public auction at the Customs House. In this way the value of a star picture would be ascertained immediately.
– How can we submit to auction the Australian rights of production which certain people have bought ?
– If at auction the films realized a greater price than had been placed on them by the importers, there should be no cause for complaint. The Minister’s statement regarding the difficulties of collecting ad valorem duties strikes to the root of all Customs taxation. If the importers can make the valuations difficult they escape with the payment of small “duties. The picture show proprietors and all amusement vendor’s have been mulct very unfairly by the amusement tax. Picture-show promoters have followed the lead of all profiteers, and have raised their prices very considerably. So far as I know, there is only one man in Australia who deserves praise in regard to the charges for admission to his theatres. I refer to Sir Benjamin Puller, who allowed the children of Melbourne and Sydney to see a pantomime for 6d. No other theatrical entrepreneur has displayed such thoughtfulness for the little ones of the community, and Ithank him for it. Pictureshow proprietors and others have in many cases doubled their charges of admission. Would it not be possible for the Minister so to word this item as to leave it to the Tariff Board to call expert evidence in addition to that of his own officers, in order to determine what should be the basis of value. Every boy in the street knows that there is a difference between the value of a Charlie Chaplin film and a scenic film.
– Yes. but one Charlie Chaplin film may be worth far more than another.
– I know that the Minister is with us in the desire to make these large Combines pay a little more. Every picture-show proprietor in Australia is bound by agreement to show American pictures. Many of the American pictures are both instructive and refreshing; hut the point I wish to make is that picture-show proprietors are compelled, under an agreement extending, I believe, either to the end of this year or to the middle of next year, to screen a certain number of American pictures. That is an advantage which the film producers in the United States gained during the war, and they seek to retain it.
I object to the pettifogging policy under which visiting artists are compelled to pay income tax on their earnings while here. My first knowledge of such a policy was gained some twenty years ago, on the occasion of a visit that I paid to India.
– Even our soldiers and nurses were required to pay income tax in respect of the time they spent in passing through India to the Front.
– I am sorry that Australia has followed so bad an. example We have an opportunity to gain ten times as much as great artists would pay the Treasury in respect of income tax during their stay here. I recognise that there is some difficulty in carrying out what we propose; but I am satisfied that any obstacle put in the way of the Customs Department by rich companies, Combines, or artists, could ultimately be overcome. If a Government official, on the arrival of films from overseas, were to announce his intention of submitting them to public auction, every pictureshow proprietor would be represented at the sale, and we would be able quickly to arrive at the value for Customs purposes.
– The Minister says that the Department cannot value a film, but they have to be valued for Customs purposes when they are brought in here.
– I know that. The Minister said there were three difficulties in the way, and in listening to him I was reminded of the device to which a Japanese firm resorted at a time when the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) was the Victorian Minister for Trade and Customs. The firm sent out with its goods three invoices, one to submit to the Customs House authorities, one to show the importers’ customers, and a third setting out the actual cost to the importer. The honorable gentleman came down very heavily on that firm, but its device was certainly most amusing. We are told that films are invoiced at the actual cost of producing them, exclusive of the fees paid to artists, the cost of stage fittings, and so on. If that be so, we might get at the value by allowing, say, 2d. a foot for the -celluloid, plus so much a foot for printing. If the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) intends to move an amendment, I shall vote for it.
– I do not desire to do that.
– I know that, and perhaps the difficulty might be overcome by the Minister promising, in the event of the item being passed as it stands, to consult with his officers, and, if necessary, to recommit it.
– We have given the matter a great deal of consideration.
– It may still be possible to arrive at a satisfactory solution of the problem. The Minister may be prepared to promise that, if we pass the item as it. stands, he will recommit it later on if he can obtain further information that will enable him to arrive at a proper basis of value. If he assures us later on that, as the result of further inquiry, he is still unable to get over the difficulty, we shall have to accept the situation for the time being.
– I am extremely disappointed that the Minister (Mr. Greene), in the preparation of this schedule, has accepted the system of levying Customs duties on films which the film manufacturers and importers have foisted on the country. It is obviously not only inadequate, but paltry. A duty of1½d. per foot imposed in respect of a big film might yield a revenue of something like £20, whereas that film, before it had been finished with in Australia, would probably be worth £2 or £3 per foot to the importer. One frequently hears of a film worth from £2,000 to £5,000, and for the right to screen it for one evening only a picture show proprietor may pay £5 or more.
– As much as £50 is charged in the case of a first release.
– No doubt.
– The Minister (Mr. Greene) says that it is impossible to impose an advalorem duty. That being so, why not increase the rate of duty per foot?
– I am not prepared to accept without a fight the system of taxation which the Americanfilm producers have foisted on the Department. We know the value both of films and of artists coming to this country. When Sir Harry Lauder, for instance, comes to Australia-, we know months before he reaches here what his value from the point of view of the Income Tax Department is. His value is determined by the people who bring him here, and as soon as he arrives the Taxation Department assesses him accordingly, and he pays income tax. If it is possible to assess the value of an artist for income tax purposes, surely it is possible to assess the value of a film, a musical instrument, or any other means of amusement brought here. It seems to me to be a sinister fact that the manufacturers abroad send out films accompanied by absolutely false descriptions as to their cost.
– They do not do that.
– At any rate, they do not set out the truth - they do not set out what the film has cost in respect of the artists engaged in its production, the scenic effects, and sp forth.
– The trouble is that practically in every case they refuse to sell a film straight out at its exhibition value as a film. They sell it for what it costs as a film, and on top of that they charge certain allowances, royalties, profits, or whatever it may be. That is the way in which they work.
– The value of a film is determined in the way the Minister has indicated. It is known to the exporter in America, and to the importer here, long before a film arrives in this country. We ought to be able to ascertain the value at which the negatives of films are insured in America. How.ever, it should not be impossible for us to impose a heavy rate of duty at so much per lineal foot, although it would mean charging the same rate for high-grade and lowgrade films.
– That is the difficulty.
– Seventy-five per cent. of the pictures imported into Australia are rubbish; they merely depict bedroom scenes, or custard throwing, or deal with sex problems; but the balance are educational or high-class matter. The trouble, is that, if a duty of l½d. per foot is charged on high-grade films, people will ask why the same rate should be imposed on low-grade films. I object to the introduction of these low-grade films. I have no objection to the importation of high-grade films of educational value or depicting high-class subjects, so long as the producers in America are not evading our taxation. Pictures have been produced in Australia under great difficulties. The “ Sentimental Bloke “ film has been distributed throughout Europe and America at fairly high rates. The Snowy Baker cowboy pictures have not the value of the “ Sentimental Bloke “ picture, but they have been produced in Australia mostly by Australian artists and under Australian conditions; that is to say, Australian wage3 have been paid, sometimes under arbitration awards. Snowy Baker went to America and copied the tricks of the American cowboy, transplanted them to the Australian bush, and retaliated upon America by exhibiting his films there. I believe that we ought to be able to build up in Australia a fairly large film industry. Any pastoral, mining, or other company engaged in some activityin Australia, whose head office is in London, is obliged to pay taxation on the money earned by it in the Commonwealth,yet American firms, who may make £50,000 or £100,000 out of a set of films distributed in Australia, are not taxed upon that amount. While we are endeavouring to protect an Australian industry, we ought also to take steps to insure that these people pay us an adequate share of the earnings derived in Australia. We are told that it. is impossible to do this by means of an ad valorem duty. I believe that the American picture producers have instituted a system of distribution of their films which prevents the Commonwealth Customs Department from ascertaining what their business is, so that, whether the picture be educational or merely depicting custard throwing, the rate of duty . collectable by us cannot be other than a fixed rate at so much per lineal foot of film. . But it is a shame that the rate should not exceed l½d. It ought to be; at least,1s.perfoot,whichwouldbringin arevenueoffrom£250 to£350 ona fairly good film,butwouldbebutasmall impost upon ahigh-classfilm,worth about £2or £3per foot.
.A film importedfromAmerica is shown in dozens of theatres in each State, so that the proposeddutyof1½. per foot willbe a mere nothing compared with the return secured from screening it. Let the Minister (Mr. Greene), if he can impose a charge of1½d. per foot each time a picture isshown. Thepicture-film proprietors could wellafford to pay it.
Ido not think the Ministerhas heen toowell advised onthis matter. He says that he cannot ascertain the valueof a film. If I am a pictureshow proprietor, and I want a certain film, I write to the person who produces it in America, and hereplies thatthe can let me have the film for so much. Thus it has a certain value. The (producer places a value upon it.
-Inmany cases that is notdone. That is our difficulty.
– Thenlet us make the producers place a value on the films they sendhere.
Mr.Greene.-Wehave not thepower to do so.
– Ifthatcannotbe done, Isuggestan increase of the duty to3d. perfoot. Would the Ministeraccept such anamendment?
– Iwill stand by therates I have already proposed.
Mr. RlLEY.The ‘honorable member for Bass (Mr.Jackson), if he were not absent wouldbe able to tell theCommittee his experience in running a picture show. He was not permitted to show an Australianproduction, and was told that if he did so he would not be Supplied with American pictures. Hon- orablemembersshould express their resentment of the attitude of these American producersby increasingthe proposedrates of duty. I move -
That the amendment bo amended by omitting intermediate, l½d.: general, l½d.” with a view to insert in lieu thereof “ intermediate, 8d.; general, 3d.”
Question - That theamendmentofthe proposedamendment beagreed toput. The Committe divided.
Ayes . .. 25
Noes . . . . 18
Majority . . . .7
Question so resolved inthe affirmative.
Amendmentoftheamendment agreed to.
Amendment, asamended, agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Mr.Richard Foster.- I desireto makeapersonalexplanation.Inthe previousvoteontheitemofwatches,I was led astray by the honorablemember for Dampier . (Mr. Gregory), and Ivote on the wrong side. I was trustingtothat honorable member, and, moreover, I saw that . amongst thosevoting inthe affirmative were the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best)and the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Francis), and I thought I ought : to be . against them. I swish to -say, however,, . that . I fought to have- voted on the . same sidewith those two honorable members.
Mr.Anstey.- I alsodesiretomake a personal explanation. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Richard Foster) endeavoured to seduce me to vote on the other aide, pointingout that it was the sidewhich would produce high revenues. I merelywish to pointout that I was capable of resisting the temptation..
Item 321 (Spectacles,&c.)
.- I move -
That the following, words be added: - “ And on and after 30th June,. 1921 -
Spectacles and’ spectacle’frames magnifying and. reading glasses, viz : - (a). Wholly or partly of gold or silver (not being included in sub-item (b)), adval., British, 30 percent.; intermediate; 35 percent.; general, 40 per cent.
Rolled-gold, gold-filled,, gold-cased, gold-plated or gilt, including the articles named when fitted with pads-, bridges, or knuckles’ of gold, ad. val, British, 10- per cent.; intermediate, 10 per cent.;: general-,, 20 per cent. (c)N.e.i., ad val., British; free; inter mediate, free; general, 10 per cent.
The object of the amendment is to- take- out of the- higher range- of duties’ thoserolled:gold and plated spectacle caseswhich have pure gold pads; bridges; or, knuckles.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to:
Item 322 (Spectaclecases, &c..) agreed to. division xii. - hides, leather, and rubber.
Item 323 (Hides and skins).
.- I hope that- the. Minister (-Mr. Greene) will see his way to place, goat-skins, raw or pickled, on the dutiable list. These pickled goat-skins are partially prepared, and. they ought, to, afford a good deal of employment hereforourown people. My suggestion, which- I hope will be accepted, rs that the duty be 10 per cent, in each of the columns. Such a duty would not, injure Great Britain, which, does not export goat-skins except those obtained in the course of trade. When the previous Tariff was under consideration goat-skins became a burning question, and I certaintly think that a duty ought to be imposed. Weare trying-‘ to’ build up. in Australia a civilization which will give the’ average1 worker higher wagest and better conditions than are to be found inany othercountry; and. to that end! we have the freest Constitution under the British flag, with an unexampled fran chise. In the previous Tairiff there was a duty on pickled goat-skins such as I now suggest, and I think it might well be re-imposed.
– Goatskins pickled were removed from the dutiable list because, since the duty was imposed, there has been a large development of the glace kid industry. After careful investigation of’ the whole subject, I came to the conclusion that duty on pickled goat-skins would be detrimental to the development of the glace kid business, and, as the latter represented the more valuable side of this class of industry, it was. decided’ that, under all’ the circumstances, they should be free.
:.- Can the Minister (Mr. Greene) give particulars concerning importations of raw hides from New Zealand? Representations ha,ve been made to me from persons interested in Queensland that the number of hides brought in from that source are rapidly increasing, and’ they are being,, and always have been, introduced free-. During the twelve months ending 30th June,, 1920, 12,637 calf skins were imported, compared with 57,893 during, the eleven months ending 3,1st. May,. 1921. The importations of hides, during the year ending 30th June,. 1920, totalled 37,056, while., for the following eleven months, the importations were 96,796. These figures reveal a total increase for the Tatter period’,, in respect of hides and. call skins combined, of 104,996 . Can the Minister account for that considerable increase? I consider the Queensland hide industry is likely to be seriously affected by the apparent probability of. dumping from New Zealand. I undesstand that for some time prior to those years to whichIhave just referred, an embargo was placed on the. importation of New Zealand hides.
Mr.GREENE. (Richmond;- Minister for. Trade and Customs)[5.23].. - I have no particulars for the year 1920-21 concerning the specific countries from which hides were imported, but in1918-19 and1919- 20, there were large increases from New Zealand, although not materially above the figures of pre-war. years.. Hides imported in 1913 totalled; 90,639.’, and in 1915-16, 122,336.In 1916-l7 and 1917-. 18 importations’ dropped to about 64,000 and 70,000, respectively. In 1918-19 there was again an increase, the number of hides imported being 116,000, and in 1919-20 the total was 106,000. I do not think the Departmental statistics differentiate concerning hides as between calf skins and bullock and cow skins.
– There is a great difference, of course, between calf skins and other hides.
– The Tariff discriminates between hides which are bullock hides and calf skins, in that the latter are not acknowledged as hides at all.
– At what age or size of skin does the difference operate?
– The hide of a yearling is not called a bide, but a calf skin.
– Do the Minister’s figures include both bullock’s hides and calf skins?
– The statistics which I have just furnished relate to hides, and do not include calf skins.
– Do we get calf skins from New Zealand?
– I think we do; but I am not prepared with information at this moment. .
– How does one determine whether a hide has. been taken from a six -months’ old beastor from one aged eighteen months?
– I presume that the question is governed by size and weight.
– Those factors would not necessarily give accurate results.
– I should say that general appearance would be the chief factor. Generally, ah expert can tell whether a hide has been taken from a calf less than a year old or from an animal rather more than a year of age. We are also large* exporters of hides. Last year Australia exported 569,000.
– I wish , the Minister (Mr. Greene) would agree to the restoration of the 1914 rates of duty on goat skins. These are chiefly imported from India in a partially manufactured state, and the work done on the skins is performed by cheap coloured labour. Will the Minister agree to accept a general Tariff of 10 per cent., instead of permitting them to enter free?
– I cannot accept an amendment of that character. If such a duty were imposed we would be doing greater injury to the tanning in dustry than could be balanced by the amount of good conferred upon either employers or employees here. My information is to the effect that if we were to insist upon the importation of’ dry. goatskins, with the idea of having the pickling done in Australia, we would not be able to secure all the skins we require.
.- The honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) does not wish to interfere with the importation of sheepskins.
– Except a very few from New Zealand, no sheepskins are imported into Australia.
– I support the view of the honorable member for Bourke that the rate of duty upon goatskins, under the 1914 Tariff, should be reverted to. The Minister has stated that to impose a duty would interfere with the manufacture of glace kid in Australia. If honorable members accept that view, will the Minister be sympathetic when dealing with patent and enamelled leather?
– I will undertake to give most careful consideration to any proposal at the proper time.
Item agreed to.
Item 324 -
Leather, viz.: -
.- I notice that chamois leather is on the free list. Is the Minister (Mr. Greene) prepared to make a statement concerning his reasons for the removal of duty?
– We should not be afraid of the importation of chamois leather from any part of the world.
-The honorable member overlooks that the manufacture of this leather is a new Australian industry, and, as such, should be safeguarded. Once it has become firmly established I would say, “ Let them all come.” This is essentially an infant enterprise, and is in close association with the great pastoral industry. Numbers pf Australians have placed a great deal of capital in the manufacture of chamois leather.
– In several States. In South Sydney, for example, there are several factories, and I know of one in Queensland which is doing its best to place a first-class article on the market. It is, indeed, an excellent chamois, as honorable members will perceive by the sample which I hold in my band. Although thousands of so-called chamois leathers are imported, the description is not accurate. “Chamois” is only a trade name. They are made almost entirely from sheepskins. The Australian manufacturers, however, are chiefly using lambskins; and I hope the industry will receive support by way of a substantial degree of protection. I suggest 20 per cent.
.- I ask the Minister (Mr. Greene) to look upon the manufacture of chamois leather as a new industry. I do not know why this article should be placed .on the free list, having regard to the fact that we have in Australia plenty of skins, and people who are prepared to put capital into the development of this industry.
– What about 10 per cent.?
– So long as the Minister will give some encouragement to the industry I shall be satisfied. Manufacturers, in my electorate, are turning out very good chamois leather.
– Sham chamois leather.
– A sample of it is before the Committee. Chamois leather is daily coming into greater use. Motorcar owners use it for cleaning the enamel and fittings of their cars; and it is employed in the cleaning of silver ware and windows. There is a possibility of establishing a large industry for its manufacture, and I think we should give it some encouragement by means of the Tariff.
.- Does the Minister intend this item to refer to real chamois leather, or to this rubbish - this sham chamois leather - that is before the Committee ?
– I do not suppose there is any real chamois leather imported. It is almost unknown now.
– It can be obtained.
– I think that chamois leather such as the sample the honorable member is holding is covered by this item.
– For some considerable time lambskins and sheepskins have been purchasable at from 04d. to Id. per >., and if manufacturers who can get the sheepskins so cheaply cannot, without the aid of a duty, produce chamois leather in competition with foreigners who have to import the sheepskins, this country is in a bad way. This imitation chamois leather is a poor makeshift, and after it has been used in water for a while will become hard. In twelve months- enough of this kind of material could be turned out to meet the Australian requirements for the next twenty years. I have manufactured this stuff, and know something about it; it is poor, at the best.
.- I suggest that, as this is a new industry, the Minister (Mr. Greene) might impose a deferred duty on chamois leather. Whilst a number of firms are actually engaged in making chamois leather to-day, others are only now doing the preparatory work, and I know that, in a number of instances, the machinery is only being installed at the present time. The statement by the honorable member for Echuca (Mr. Hill), that he was not successful in the manufacture of this article, is not proof that others will similarly fail. The sample before the Committee demonstrates that chamois leather can be made in Australia.
– What is the price of it?
– I do not know, but I do know that we can produce sufficient ir. Australia to supply local requirements. If, as the honorable member has said, pelts can be obtained at from 0¼d. to Id. per lb.., that is evidence that tho demand for skins is not sufficient. If we give encouragement to the manufacture of chamois leather and similar industries: we shall not only assist them directly, but will give a meed of support to the primary industry which-produces the skins.
Mr.GREENE (Richmond - Minister for Trade and Customs) [5.42].: - I did give some thought to the imposition of a duty on chamois leather, but my difficulty was that at the time nobody was quite ready to manufacture it. I know of three, manufacturers who have imported, or are about to import, the special machinery required for this work. I suggest that a deferred duty will meet the requirements of the industry, and. I move -
That the following, words be added to sofa-item (a) : - “ And on and after 1st’ January,. 1922, ad. val., British, 10 per cent.; intermediate, 15 per cent.; general, 20 per cent.”
– That will do.
– The Minister should make provision against the public being duped by having this sham chamois leather sold to them for the real thing.
– I do not see how we can do that in respect of the locally produced article any more than in connexionwith the imitation chamois that is imported from abroad to.day. I do not suppose that 2 per cent. o£ the stuff imported is true chamois: It is the process of manufacture of the split skins that, produces the article) which we usually callchamois leather.
Amendment agreed to.
.- I move -
That after sub-item, (c) (1) the following; word’s be inserted : - “ And on and after 30th June, 1921, per square foot, British, 6d. ; intermediate, 7d. ;: general, 8d.”
Honorable members are aware that there are different varieties of patent and enamelled leather, having different values-, and for that reason it would be preferable to impose an ad valorem duty. Some of the raw material used in this; trade is taxed severely, the duty on. colours being as high as, 30 per cent. The importations, of patent and enamelled leather in l920 amounted, to 2,200,000 feet, and during the first nine months of 1920-21 to 2,400,000 feet, representing, on a conservative estimate, about 80,000 hides. If a sufficient duty, were imposed, those hides would be purchased in Australia, and. I think we all would prefer to export our hides in manufactured form rather than in the raw state. The duty in 1908-11’ was 2d., and in 1914, British, 2d.; gene ral, 2½d. Only about 50 per: cent.ofthe employees who were engaged, in the industry last year are at work to-day,. Any, honorable member who knows of the splendid material produced by, local manufactures must support an ‘ increase in this, duty.. I. would, prefer, that the duty should be advalorem, for, whilst I recognised the difficulty in arriving at the. values of picture films for duty purposes, no such, difficulty presents itself, in connexion with leather. I desire to explain that I am moving this amendmenton behalf of the- honorable’ member, for Bourke (Mr. Anstey).
.- We We may reasonably look forward to those honorable members, who are interested in, the market for hides to help- us in. increasing the- duty on. this leather: I think I am safe:in saying: that, some years ago there- was onlyonefirmin Australia manufacturingthis class of leather whereas to-day quite a number, are engaged in its production.
– Can the. honorable member say how many?’
– I think there are’ four or five inthisState; and’ that patent’ and enamelled leather is also- beingmanuf actured in other States. The process of. manufacture, of this class of leather for many years remained a secret known only to a few, but a- Victorian’ firm imported) from Great Britain a number of men, and paid’them very high wages, to inaugurate the industry here:. At the outset, there was. a considerable prejudice; against the; local article,, but gradually it won its way; and to-day the Victorian Railway Department practically obtains from local manufacturers all its supplies; for the trimming of carriages audi so forth.
– The Victorian Railway Department does not use the local article for its best class of work.
– I think the honorable member will find that it does.
– It is also used for cans.
– That, is: so.. In the, circumstances, I. fail to understand why we should indulge in these exceptional importations. We produce thousands- ofr hides per annum;’ and, as the Minister (Mr. Greene) has stated, we annually export something like 600,000- Seeingthat we can manufacture all classes of leathers here, it seems to me aneconomic waste that we should send our hides thousands of milesoverseasto be turned into the manufactured article and brought back again. In respect of the last year for which the records are available, 2,400,000 feetof patentand enamelled leather came into Australia. That was under the present Tariff. We know what is going onto-day in America andGreat Britain, and owing to the inadequacy of the Tariff I fear that, unlesswe make a very considerable increase, there will be an enormous developmentin these importations. The industry is established, so far as efficiency is concerned,; but the present duties are not sufficient to protect it against thecompetition with which it will be confronted within the next twelve months. I would remind honorable members of the Country party that we axe dealing here with something that is producedfrom one of the raw materials of the farm. The making of these patent and enamelled leathers, in the first place, was a close secret. Some thirty years ago, I think, only onemanin Victoria knew how toproduce them. He, in turn,, handed over the secret to his son; but to-day quite a number of Australians are familiar with the process, and are engaged in this industry. The Victorian firm to which I have just referred, on the death of one of its experts, obtained fromNew South Wales an expert who knew the secret, and who ultimately became a member of the firm. An industry that is so important andnecessary to Australia, and which uses up so much of one of the raw materials of the farm; ought to be encouraged.
– This sub-item, nodoubt, relates to a growing industry.; but the honorable memberforMaribyrnong (Mr.Fenton) has rather overstated (the position insaying that the Victorian Railway Department is using locally-manufactured patent leathers for its best class of trimming work.Thatis not a fact,nor is ita fact that the production of this class of leather has . reached a high state of efficiency in Australia. The industry is certainly important, and shouldcontinueto tdevelop ;butthe honorable mem- ber for Maribyrnongknows very well that it is impossible within a few years to reach the degreeofperfectionthatob- tainswheretheindustryhasbeencarried onfor,perhaps; ahundred years. Australian conditions are favorable to the manufacture of tihese classes of leathers; we lackonly experience. The industry is well worth encouraging, but it would be unreasonable to double the present duties.
Mr.GREENE(Richmond- Minister for Trade and Customs)[6.0] . - I havebeen looking into this matter for sometime. It is extremely difficult to balance these duties because leathers become the raw material of other industries, and the duties relating tothose industries must also be considered.Wehave made a strenuous effort to try to draw them together,but whether wehavesucceeded or notIcannotsay. The industry of producing patent orenamelled leather has made very considerable strides in Australia, anddidso particularly duringthe war period.We have here , a number of manufacturers, and I have seen samples of their leathers which I think would stand almost any test. A patent leather that can bebent and pressed as hard as tonepleases without cracking is a fairly good article.
– The local patent leatherswill crack when they have beenexposed for a time to the weather.
– I tested a sampleby leaving it out ofdoors for a week. At the end of that periodIfound it was almost as good as when Ifirst tried it.
Mr.Fleming.- What was the weather likeat the time?
– It wasbright, sunny weather, butnorain fellduring the week. The sample I tested in this way was subjectedtothedewsofnightaswellasto the direct rays of the sun during the day. That, I think, was a fairlygood test. The value of , the material turned out in Victoria last year - I have not the figures forthe rest of Australia, - was ?400,000. There can be no question, therefore, that the industry is growing and hasreached the stage at which it can pretty well provide for the greaterpart of Australia’s requirements. Before the warit could notdo so.Up to that time we produced only about 10 per cent.of our requirements,Whereas to-day., althoughno’t producing the whole of our requirements, we are turningoutavery much greater . proportion than before.
– And that has been accomplished under a lower duty.
– But under war conditions. I would stress the point that the industry developed very materially during the war period, owing to the fact that we could not get supplies from other countries.
– Our export trade in other leathers has enormously expanded.
– But we are dealing now only with patent and enamelled leathers. The old duty of2½d. per square foot was equal to only 10 per cent. on the prices then ruling.The duty now works out atabout 17 per cent. on the values for 1918-19. In respect of some classes it is slightly more, and in regard to others slightly less. Honorable members are aware that there are some grades which are more expensive than others. After going into the matter carefully, I am inclined to think that the position would be met by making the fixed duty per square foot - British, 3d. ; intermediate, 4d.; and general, 5d. That, I think, will be sufficient protection on the lower grades of leather, and we should provide alternatively for ad valorem duties of 25 per cent., 30 per cent., and 35 per cent. That, I understand, will meet with the general acceptance of the trade, and I think it will meet the position.
Mr.Fleming.-Shop girls will have to forgo their patent leather shoes if the duties are so increased.
– I do not think these increased duties would make the slightest difference to the present prices of patent leather shoes. I shall also propose an alteration in regard to glace kid, suggesting a reduction in the ad valorem duty with a fixed rate to deal with lower grades.
– I ask leave to withdraw my amendment.
.- I trust the honorable member’s amendment will not be withdrawn.. I hope that he will add to it by providing alternatively for ad valorem rates of 30 per cent., 35 per cent., and 40 per cent.
– I am quite willing to do so. .
– There are many people in my electorate who cannot find work as a result of the conditions appertaining to this industry. I have a few facts to place before the Committee in regard to patent and enamelled leathers. In 1914-15 this industry employed 90 hands, who produced a little over 1,000,000 feet of patent and enamelled leathers, andearned in wages, roughly, £15,000. In 1919-20 the industry employed 340 hands, who produced over 3,500,000 feet of these leathers, and earned in wages £60,000. The figures show an increase of over 300 per cent. The fact that British journals ave complaining very bitterly that Germany is endeavouring to wipe out Great Britain’s trade in these leathers, and that America is imposing a special duty on patent and enamelled leathers, should cause usto open our eyes as to what may happen here unless, the industry is accorded further protection. In reply to the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Richard Foster), who has, said that the locally manufactured leathers arenot being used extensively by the State Governments, let me point out that these leathers are used almost exclusively on the South Australian railways, and are used extensively by the Railway Departments of every State. The leather trimmings in Australia House are of Australian manufacture. If we can afford to advertise our own work in that magnificent structure at the seat of the Empire, we have no occasion to doubt our ability to turn out a first-class article here. I ask the Minister (Mr. Greene) to reconsider his proposal, and accede to the request of the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) by making the fixed duties 6d., 7d., and8d. or ad valorem 30 per cent., 35 per cent., 40 per cent., which ever rate returns the higher duty.
Amendment by (Dr. Maloney) amended, by leave, to read as follows.: -
That the item be further amended by adding the following to sub-item (c) (1): - “And on and after 30th June, 1021, per square foot, British, 6d.; intermediate, 7d.; general, Sd.; or ad val., British, 30 per cent.; intermediate, 35 per cent.; general, 40 per cent., whichever rate returns the higher duty.”
.- The Minister (Mr. Greene) has made an effort to meet the wishes of honorable members, but has not gone far enough. Possibly he might agree to increase the general rate to 7d. The increased output referred to by the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Lister) was followed by a severe slump.
At the same time importations from America have increased. The menwho were conducting our industry during the war could have sold their products in foreign markets at 2s. 6d. per foot more than they were getting locally : but, as they did not take advantage of the opportunity to do so, they are now entitled to every consideration from us. Last year hides for motor leather were quoted in the American market at 25s. per lb. Their price is now 6d. per lb. Hides for boot uppers were quoted last year in the Chicago market at1s. 6d. per lb.; they are now 5d. per lb. Hides for patent and enamelled leather were quoted at 25d. per lb.; they are now 6d. per lb. As a matter of fact, the value of hides to-day is practically 40 per cent, lower than it was before the war. Possibly the Minister has gone as far as he can in regard to the ad valorem rates, and the fixed Britishand intermediate rates; but I ask him to increase the general rate to 7d.
– I do not propose to go any higher in regard to fixed duties than I have already intimated my willingness to go.
Question - That the words proposed to be added be so added (Dr. Maloney’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
– The votes are equal, and, therefore, I give my casting vote with the “Noes.”
– I should like to move an amendment. I do not ask for any alteration in the ad valorem duties.
– I shall meet the honorable member to the extent of proposing a fixed rate of 6d. under the general Tariff.
– I now desire to move a reduction in the ad valorem duties on, glace kid, and to impose fixed duties of 9d., l1d., and 12d. The ad valorem duties on the better grades work out considerably higher than the fixed duties that I am now moving. I move -
That the following words be added to subitem (c) : - “And on and after 30th June, 1921-
(1) Patent and enamelled, per square foot, British, 3d. ; intermediate, 4d.; general, 6d.; or ad val., British, 25 per cent.-, intermediate, 30 per cent.; general, 35 per cent., whichever rate returns the higher duty.
Glace kid, per square foot, British, 9d.; intermediate,11d.; general, 12d.; or ad val., British, 25 per cent.; intermediate, 30 per cent.; general,35 per cent., whichever rate returns the higher duty.
Calf, other than patent and enamelled, ad val., British, 25 per cent.; intermediate, 30 per cent; general, 35 per cent. (4)N.E.I.., ad val., British, 25 per cent.: intermediate, 30 per cent.; general. 35 per cent.”
We have gone very carefully into this matter, and I believe that this adjustment of a very difficult question, if it does not entirely satisfy, will, at all events, reason- ably satisfy both the leather manufacturers and the boot manufacturers.
.- Why reduce the intermediate duty by 10 per cent. and the British duty by only 5 per’ cent. ? I could understand cutting down the British or the intermediate duty by 10 per cent., and the general duty by only 5 per cent. Why reverse the process? If you make the two first duties 25 per cent. and 30 per cent., why not make the general duty 40 per cent. ?
– I do not wish to make the general duty 40 per cent.
Item, . as amended-,, agreed te-.,
Item 325 . (Leather manufactures &c.) agreed, to..
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
Idem 326 (Leather belting, &c.).
Mr- Riley.- I rise’ to a question of privilege. What protection have honorable members in connexion with the votes they give in this- Committee ? Is; it within the right of anybody within the- precincts of the House, to. threaten, to attempt to defeat. a member at the. next election by showing, his photograph and a paragraphabout his vote in. eyeEy. picture show, in hia electorate? I contend: that any man who uses a threat of. that . kind should be cleared out of the galleries, and I desire to know what steps you, Mr. Temporary Chairman, can take to protect honorable members.
– The proper procedure is for the honorable member aggrieved to ventilate the matter, and if it is serious enough, foc the Leader of the House to move that I report progress so that the. matter may be dealt with by Mr. Deputy Speaker. The consequence then may be that the offending, person- will be forbidden to enter the precincts of- the House.
– I am: glad’ that this matter has been mentioned. I have no fear of the consequences- that, may attend any vote I give in. this Committee, but I certainly do object to being’ threatened almost- at the. door of. the chamber by any man, and especially by a stranger. This afternoon I voted for an increase in the duty on picture films,, and already I. have been threatened by one: man who is interested’, with a systematic, propaganda in my electorate, and. the’ exhibition of my photograph on every picture-show screen in order to make known that I voted to increase the cost of films. I do not mind that, course of action, being taken’.. The parties concerned may screen my photograph, if they, choose; butsurely members of the- Committee should.be protected, from interference) by anybody., Conditions are quite bad enough, without threats of that. kind. One. can hardly walk into, the. lobbies without being addressed, by people who have requests to make. I take strong exception to any person, newspaper reporters or others, attempting to- intimidate me- or threatening me with a certain course’ of action in’ my electorate, and. conduct of that kind/ should be stopped immediately.
– Of. course what has, been done cannot be excused, but from, what I have, heard so far, nothing very new has happened. I remember, that a, little, time, ago something of. the kind was done at some picture shows in connexion with what, had happened in. regard to films. If. honorable members think, we should take this matter: further:-
– Any man who- threatened’ an ‘honorable, member should not be allowed within the- precincts of the ‘chamber.
– I’ do. not know that any better course could’ be adopted’ to punish that sort of conduct than for Mr.. Deputy Speaker to forbid the offender from entering’the precincts. If an example were thus; made: of one- or. two men, it would be the most, effective way ofl dealing with the matte. So- far no-names have been mentioned, and no definite charge has been. made.. . If a definite charge is made- against any person, it willbe for the House to. deal’ with the offender. Things like this have occurred’ before, and the guilty persons have been summoned to the Bar of the House, and censured or admonished. But it cannot be said, that any of these affairs ever ended quite satisfactorily. This incident having been carried so- far, the best plan would be. for Mr. Deputy Speaker to take it upon- Himself to exclude the persons who offended from the House. That is the. only effective way of dealing- with conduct of this kind.
– It would be wrong; to punish innocent people, for the offences- of others.
– Pre - Precisely; and I know of no mote effective way of dealing, with this reprehensible conduct than, that I have’ suggested. But honorable members shourd’ consider this iiji’the light of the whole surroundingsofthis. debate. I have never’ known, a Tariff debate in connexion -with which there was. not, some lobbying, and’, according to- my expert-, ence, there-has been, less done in connexion with this Tariff than in connexion with any . other.
-But this, is a direct attack upon an honorable member, and it should be dealt with.
SirJosephCook.-I . know ithat; and my idea isthatthe : offence would -be met ifthe inameiof ithe individual who (has offended were -conveyed toMr. Deputy Speaker, who has power to take ithe necessary action.
– Is he to take the word of one member . and’sentence an individual without . hearing what he has to . say?
– I -do not say that. I am quite sure that I am suggesting the best course to adopt . in all . the circumstances. I have known Parliament to become very ridiculous in connexion with some of these incidents, and I ihave never known . one of them to end satisfactorily.. I suggest that the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Francis) should letthe Committee know who threatened him, and then the matter can be left to Mr. Deputy Speaker to do what -he considers best.- On that understanding I ‘propose that w.e proceed with the business, and do not let any individual interrapt theiconduot : o’f . Parliament by getting tfor himself- what be, perhaps, desires, namely, some prominence that he does not deserve.
– I am sorry that this matter . has been mentioned, because, unless a specific ‘.charge is made against an (individual, the House . should . take no cognisance of the affair. No chargehas been made against any individual. No man who has i attended at this . building in connexion with the Tariff debate has -ever endeavoured to do any lobbying with me, and I think other honorable members can say the same.
– There has been a great deal less lobbying in connexion with this Tariff ; t’han any other.
– Exactly; and for that reason we should be careful as to any action we take in this matter. If the (honorable member for Henty (Mr. Francis) makes a definite charge against any individual, it will be the duty of the Leader of -the House to bring the matter sunder the notice . of the ‘Deputy Speaker, aird he can . take action.
– It would be better to let it drop.
– That is my opinion, unless the honorable . member for Henty desires to make a -specifici charge.
Mr.Considine.-i enter my protest against the course of action contemplated by the Acting Prime Minister (Sir Joseph Cook).
– : The offending individual . belongs to the honorable memfber’a : Soviet.
– I - If he. did : he woufcf not . make threats; ihe would put them intooperation. The nndividual under discussion should be punished for, if . nothing: else, his stupidity,- (because the . Acting’ Prime Minister has intimated -that if any man displayed our pictures throughout the -electorate ‘for the purpose- -:of . advertising , us and -our vote, it would not matter iso long as they had not threatened usbeforehand. IDhe offence of ‘the individual of whom . complaint lhas been made seems to consist of -threatening the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Francis), and some other honorable member unnamed, that their vote in a certain -way would . be advertised -per medium iof ‘the picture shows in their electorate. I fail to - see the ‘difference between making the fact known through : the Age or -the Argus, and doing the same “thing through a pictureshow. The one method . is just as reputable as ‘the other, and has the -same effect, . unless the . objection of honorable members ‘be to -seeing -their own photographs on the -screen. -It is . proposed to take the word of one honor-able . member against ..some individual..
– I did . not say that.
Mr.Considine. - I -am not in favour df taking the word of . any honorable member . against -another person without that other iperson having a chance to be . heard. It ie not in accordance with my views of justice to sentence a man without hearing his defence.
– No name has been mentioned.
– But it is proposed to leave the matter to the Deputy Speaker. If the (honorable meiriber for Henty can complain to the Speaker . against ‘some individual who frequents the House, and have him forbidden the precincts, I, too. am entitled to adopt the same secret methods of getting somebody who is objectionable to me debarred from ithe precincts. It might after all have been only a misunderstanding.
– It might have been an invitation, and not : a threat.
– Or an offer to give the honorable member a free advertisementallover his electorate. If any picture-show proprietor offers to screen myphotograph throughout the electorate of Barrier Ishall noticome to -the House Ito complain about -the matter.
– We have to be exceedingly careful that nothing in, the nature of intimidation shall take place, particularly in regard to such a question as that which is now before the Committee. If there has been anything of the kind in this case, then the method of dealing with it, which the Acting Prime Minister (Sir Joseph Cook) has suggested, is certainly the proper one to pursue, subject, of course, to inquiry and report. I do. not know what actually occurred, as I was not present when the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Francis) made his statement; but during the dinner adjournment I heard a good deal of talk about the matter, and it seemed to me that a mountain was being made out of a molehill. I thought that honorable members were merely laughing at the suggestion which had been made. In the course of this discussion, however, a statement has been made which reflects upon newspaper men generally. We have a number of gentlemen of the press who attend here regularly, and the statement to which I refer might reflect upon them as well as upon the individual who is said to have uttered this threat. Such a reflection upon newspaper men generallv would be most unfair. Although they may sometimes publish statements of which we do not approve, we all realize that as a rule they are exceedingly fair. If the matter went as far as has been stated, it is the duty of the honorable member concerned to make his report, and for the House to have it investigated by Mr. -Deputy Speaker, who, in turn, would report to the House.
– It seems to me - : -
– Order! There is nothing before the Chair.
– There has been enough to allow some honorable members to speak about this alleged intimidation.
Item agreed to.
Item 327 (Slipper forms).
– As a matter ofprivilege, I desire, sir, to direct your attention’, and I hope, through you, the attention of the Deputy Speaker, to the fact that honorable members when coming into this chamber are continually impeded by visitors who have no right to obtain admission to the immediatelv adjoining corridors. If no trouble has anisen through this practice, I can only say that it is likely to lead to trouble in moments of excitement, and that honorable members ought not to be subjected to the ordeal of meeting their political enemies’ when leaving the chamber immediately after a division has been taken.
Item agreed to.
Item 328 - ‘
Goloshes, rubber sand boots and shoes, and plimsolls, ad val., British, 25 per cent., intermediate, 30 per cent.; general, 35 per cent.
– Representations have been made to the Minister (Mr. Greene) in regard to this item and the next. I should like to know whether he has considered them, and whether he can grant any relief to the manufacturers affected by this item who desire a higher duty.
– I have gone carefullv into this matter. A large number of very poor quality rubber shoes come into Australia at such values that ad valorem duties do not afford sufficient protection against them, especially when they are imported from cheap labour countries. I do not propose to raise the ad valorem rates, which, I think, are ample in respect of the better class of rubber shoes, but I will move a fixed duty of so much per pair which will provide adequate protection against the poorer classes of canvas rubber shoes. I move -
That the item be amended by adding the following : - “ And on and after 30th June, 1921, per pair, British, ls. 6d.; intermediate, ls. 9d. ; general, 2s.; or, ad val., British. 25 per cent.; intermediate, 30 per cent.; general, 35 per cent., whichever rate returns the higher duty.”
This fixed rate will put a stop to the importation of a lot of rubbishy rubber shoes such as are coming into the market at the present time,and which are really of no value to the individuals who purchase them. At, the same time, it will provide the necessary protection for the Australian industry, which is capable of great developments. There are at present about 200 hands emploved in this particular branch of the industrv. and I am informed that if it is developed, asI believe it can be. it will give employment to fully 600 hands. Importations latterly havebeen growing, and last year £103,000 worth of. these shoes were imported. We canmake them here, and I think we ought to do so.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 329 (Boots, shoes, &c.). .
– There has been some complaint that, the present Tariff imposes an extra 5 per cent, on the English article, while an additional 15 per cent, duty is levied on glace kid.
– I am not going to increase this duty.
Item agreed to.
Item 330 (Boots, rubber) agreed to.
Item 331 (Rubber and rubber manufactures).
– I think some representations were made to the Minister (Mr. Greene) in regard to this item, and that it was suggested to him that it should be dutiable.
– I have considered the matter, and do not propose to take any action.
Item agreed to.
British, 25 per cent.; intermediate, 30 per cent.; general, 40 per cent.
.- I want to move a consequential amendment in sub-item b, which at present includes rubber stoppers and corks. We propose to take those goods out of this item. They will then fall automatically under another item which we have already passed, and in which we have included them. I move -
That the item be amended by adding the following to ‘sub-item (b) : - “And on and after 30th June, 1921-
Mr. GREENE (Richmond - Minister amended item 118 by omitting from it rubber floor coverings, and I propose to include them in this item. I move -
That the item be further amended by adding the following to sub-item (c) : - “And on and after 28th May, 1921-
Floor coverings and floor and carriage mats of rubber, ad val., British,’ 25 per cent.; intermediate, 30per cent.; general, 40 per cent.”
This again is a consequential amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 333 -
Pneumatic rubber tyres, and tubes there for, valved. or unvalved -
Rubber tyres other than pneumatic, including compositions made up in form and size suitable for use with pneumatic tyre covers as a substitute for the inner tube, ad val., British, 25 per cent. ; intermediate, 35 per cent. ; general, 40 per cent. .
.- I have been furnished with a great deal of information in regard to rubber tyres. It appears to me that the rubber-making industry of Australia has progressed beyond all bounds. The manufacturers have made enormous profits, and I think we ought to be able to look forward to a big reduction in the duty. The Goodyear Company suggests a fixed . duty ranging up to 2s. 6d. per lb., instead of an ad valorem rate. We must realize the great part that motor cars play in opening up our country, and how necessary they are to people in the outlying districts. We know that the motor bodies are made very well in Australia, but I think that we can ask for a big reduction of the duty on tyres. As a matter of fact, the local manufacturers are now exporting them. Is the Minister (Mr. Greene) prepared to omit the ad valorem rates ?
I have also received communications from several people in regard to this duty. I understand that the difference between Che ad valorem rate and tihe ‘fixed duty is very little, but fthat <& great -deal of diffieulty is sometimes ‘occasioned in passing entries. A fixed duty of 2s. 6d. per lb. would be higher than the ad valorem rate ;on .heavy tyr.es,. Jhough possibly it would be lower an .the .case of lighter tyres. I ask whether it would suit ‘the Customs Department just -as well to abolish the ad valorem rate?
– As I have not gone into that aspect ?of ‘the matter,, it would be impossible for me to say off-hand .the effect of doing away with khe ad valorem orates, but as the importations, which ‘in 191’3 were valued at ?’4’93,893, .had risen in 1918-19 to ?834,000, <and in the following year to ?884,950, .one can .only suppose that the duty proposed ‘to be ‘imposed is not excessive: I know that the rubber manufacturers are .extending their plants, but in the face of ithe import figures it would be hardly safe Hx>>r-educert>be duties, and probably ‘jeopardize what, promises to be one of the largest industries in Australia. I think the rates .proposed are sufficient, and I would mot like to see them reduced.
Mr.GREGORY (Dampier) [8.38]. - I move -
That the item be amended by adding the following -to sub-item (a) : - “-And .on -and after 30th June, 1021, -per lb,. British, Is. fid.; intermediate, Sb.; general, 2s. 6d.”
The effect .of carrying .this amendment would -be -to wipe out the -ad .valorem rate, Jjut the possible effect on the industry I icannot .say. That .is .our difficulty. Honorable members get .extraordinary .information from -those who come to see them lin regard <to .the Tariff. One person interested .in a .certain .direction will give ispecific particulars in -regard to an industry .which will be contradicted by another person, w.ho will supply information entirely .different. Yesterday two honorable members were .most ‘emphatic in regard to the cost of certain material manufactured in Australia. Y<et this evening an entirely -different >v?ew of the circumstances was ‘afforded ,to me from official .souiices. Instead of our hawing a Board to .collect information, .and .tell. -us the effect of this or that duty, - we are groping in .the dark, and acting upon the advice ‘tendered by interested parties, with the result, perhaps, tha? we mav do wrong. The Tariff Board which ‘the Min ister (Mr. Greene) proposes 4o create should have been appointed -twelve months ago for the purpose of providing information to this ‘Committee. I have no desire to injure any industry, but equally il am not anxious to build up monopolies. Honorable members opposite, also, ‘are not anxious to build up monopolies, tout our trouble is that we have -not ‘the information at ;out disposal to prevent us from doing so. Even .the Minister has mot the best of material at his command. ‘Wiiafc lie told as about the price o’f agricultural machinery in Canada and the United States was not quite correct. ‘The Committee would mot have iknown, except for information which .came to me, that <a reaper and binder could be bought in Canada for ?60. The position in -which we are iplaxsed as -hardly fair’ to us. Wis do not know whether we are doing tan ‘industry any injury or not. We .know ‘that the motor car has come to stay,, and that, although some people may use it for pleasure, its .most important function is -in (helping the .development loif business and industry, particularly in -the back country. The -cost -of shoeing a motor lorry ‘is, approximately, .from ?100 to ?130, while a set of tyres .carries a Tariff tax of ?40, showing what a tremendous impost is placed ‘upon mechanical transportation. IThe -principal Ja’bour in making a. tyre is paid for on a .piecework rate of Is. Id. -.per tyre casing,, and as the rubber .tread .is also done on piece work at Is. Id. per tyrce, two .important .iiems in the ‘manufacture of tyres .cost for labour ronly .2s. 2d., so -that fha total is ‘well under 10s. for labour ; but this same tyre, which .costs less than 10s. for labour, sells to the public, according to information supplied to me, at -
A 935 x 135, ‘nearly ?14 each, .or ?56 aiset of four, whilst the cheapest (tyre for la ismall wheel costs nearly ?25 ‘for the -set. -Out of the above there is less .than ?2 for labour,, .yet the duty collected ‘0,n four 335 x 135 tyres ‘.is over ?14, or .seven times ,the Australian labour cost.
– Is the honorable member complaining. of the low -wages paid?
– I ‘have never favoured low wages; hut I -think that every man should .give a fair return for ?he -wages that are paid ‘to h’im. The firms ‘carrying on business in Australia are the Dunlop Rubber Company, the Barn-et -Glass Rubber Company, the TPerdvirra -Rubber “Company, ‘a-nd the -Colonial
Rubber’ Company, and the documenlr I has?? jn, jr,y hand discloses the profits.made bji ijiem. . Oai the factSj. these companies do not need continuous, high protection,, and the time has now arrived when some consideration should . be shown to the public. Aire we to, keep* on imposing high duti.es,, and thus; enable manufacturerstOi build up huge establishments without any cnue for those who have, to use their coin-modi ties?! It is. not. the expensive limousine cars that I . have- in, my mind ; on. suph. luxuries I would impose high,, if noli prohibitive duties, especially in times such) as the present.. What I am thinking; ojS ojie - the utiiity cars, which have puov-ed of marvellous value in tihe opening up; ami development of the country. At the jfjEOSCflit time there is a motor* service from the end of the Perth railway line, »way> north, to the Murchison. Gold-fields, and ou to Nullagine amd’ Marble Bar, connecting with the railway system at; the. coast. I should say there arei quite 100! past’oratists now who make use of motor cars from the southern’ portions- of Western- Australia th order to- get in touch with various pastoral districts throughout the northwest of Australia. It may be taken- that similar conditions- pra$aiP also in- the western portions of . New South. Wales, owerthe< whole of Queensland, and! a large part of South Australia. We have1 also to consider- the wonderful! value, of’ the motor in cases; of sickness and other emergencies’ im the bush; I db not? refer to tne manufacture of motor bodies, though- I must say I should like’ to- see any combination, such as that reported in the -press; prevented. In th& case of tyres and chassis-
-Imay, be able- to- do something in regard tOi; chassis.
– And I hope the honorable gentleman will’ also be able to do something with regard to tyresl The cost of a set of tyres for a motor car is now enormous.
– I do not think a reduction of the duties would make- tyres any cheaper.
– Not at- the. present time, parhapsj because- prices tare abnormal all over the world ; in any case, I am prei- pared to take the chaaice if the duties are reduced. There is no doubt that the firms I have mentioned are doing -marvellously well in the manufacture of rubber goods; and the duties of Is. 6d. to 2s. 6d. per lb. are ample.
-I hope the Minister (Mr.. Greene)- will make- asubstantial’ reduction in the duties xm rubber tyres other than ‘ “pneumatic. Manifestly such tyres are used for commercial purposes on country roads, and where railways are not available. Whenthe motor . car was first- introduced there was an idea that it was entirely an aristocratic vehicle,-; but motor transport is really taking the place, of, the horse and dray. It is a mistaken policy to make it difficult to obtain these cars, seeing that the- producers’ here are in competition, with* the producers! of other countries, where: there are greater- facilities fon transport. An attempt: is being- made to caitch ‘ua.’wipb “ chaS when we are asked to i place; the lod’estone- of heavy duties, on gub primary industries! I should! not mind! almost, prohibitive* duties; in the: case of countries with whichs we. have no desire to deal, but, . where: the handicap, is. fair, why should:- we be afraid of the- competition, of our owiu people, elsewhere ? There is: no. doubt- that, every, time we impose high duties we- enable, the profiteer to increase Ms profits, and thusi raise, the coft of living. In this regard the attitude of the,. Coriunitt.ee is to a large extent! inconsistent. Not so long ago the Government. -y^as, challenged! on tjhe) questi.ora. of thp high, cost of. living, and we find those who, then opposed . the.. Government, now supporting the Minister in iric-iseasjiBg. tjha.t cost, by- means of) tie Tariff, ., , ,
QjjegtipnTmThat’..thei wor.ds ‘proposed to be added be so added- (Mr.Gregory’s amendment - pvt. Thje Committee divided.. ‘ ‘ , [
A^es, …. ‘ . i, …… ,, -10
Noes……… __ 3©
Majority ,.’ … 20;’
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to. division xiii.- paper and stationery.
.- I should be glad if the Committee would consent to the postponement of this division until uftcr we have dealt with the next division, which deals with vehicles. There are some adjustments which I would desire to make, and I have not had an opportunity to thoroughly consider them.
.- Has the Minister any objection to give an indication of what these adjustments are?
– Yes, I have.
– The Minister will riot state them?
– I cannot state them at this stage.
– Then has the Minister any objection to tell us when paper and stationery are likely to come, on for consideration?
– After we have dealt with Division XIV.; though I do not know when that will be.
– Am I to understand that the question of news-print and other paper is to. be postponed until some subsequent date, so that the Minister may, without giving any intimation, bring up the division when honorable members who are interested may be taken unawares? I ask the Minister to give some clear intimation when Division XIII. will come on.
– If we postpone Division XIII. now, I imagine it will have to be postponed until after we have considered -the whole of the schedule.
– I am not particular, but I thought it would be suiting . the Committee’s convenience to postpone the consideration of this division until after Division XIV.
– Postpone it until after consideration of the schedule. In the meantime I desire the Committee to know thatI stand firstly for the local production of news-print. If I cannot get that I shall support prohibition, or as large a duty as I can get upon American, Scandinavian, and Japanese news-print. I shallask for a big lump of preference to the British article. I have something interesting to say upon this subject, particularly in regard to what is taking place outside Parliament at the present time.
.- I suggest that we should postpone this division until we get through the schedule and the Excise duties.
– We might get through Division XIV. to-night. The Minister (Mr. Greene) desires to go carefully into some phases of Division XIII., and requires time to consider them; but the Committee ought to have a clear intimation as to the date to which the division is tobe postponed.
.- We shall not finish Division XIV., dealing with vehicles, to-night. Other business is to come. on later in the evening. We propose to go on with the consideration of Division XIV. for a little time, and when we have finished it we can return to Division XIII.
– Will that be tomorrow ?
– It will not be before to-morrow. There is a number of . adjustments which I am trying to work out onpaper. It is a complex job, and will occupy a little time. I think I shall be ready to proceed . with the division tomorrow. If not, we can postpone it further.
.- It would be better if . the Minister could make a definite statement, because some honorable members are in attendance this evening who desire particularly to discuss Division XIII.
– They should be here every evening.
– Usually they are; but every honorable member has at times some business which necessitates his absence from the chamber. It would be fairer if the Minister would intimate that he will proceed with Division XIII. when the House meets to-morrow.
– If I postpone the division till Tuesday will that be suitable?
– I hope you will not do that. Division XIV. should be finished by dinner time to-morrow.
– I think I will be ready to proceed to-morrow with Division XIII. as soon as we dispose of Division XIV., but I cannot say definitely.
.- This Tariff has been before the country since March, 1920, and has been the subject of debate for many weeks. Now Division XIII. is to be postponed because the newspaper proprietors have not made up their minds between their pockets and their patriotism. They are standing undecided between . their . cash-box and their King and country.
– It is not only news-print that I desire to consider further. There are other items.
– At any rate, newsprint is one item; and it is the duty of the Minister to tell the newspaper pro- prietors to make up their minds quickly. Ifthey do not, we shall. The Minister proposes to defer the consideration of Division XIII. until next Tuesday, so that the newspaper gentry may make up their minds and let the Minister know what kind of Tariff they want, and so that they may reconcile their selfishness with their lip patriotism. If they have not made up their minds to-morrow, the Minister will have an opportunity of postponing the division until they have. But he should give honorable members a clear intimation to-night whether we shall have a” opportunity of dealing with the division to-morrow.
– My proposal is that Division XIII. be postponed until after the disposal of Division XIV. .
– I am opposed to that, because it is too indefinite. I desire to know definitely on what date this division will be proceeded with. Give the newspaper proprietors two or three weeks in which to make up their minds, if you like ; but let us know the date.
.- I hope that Division XIII. will be proceeded with to-morrow. The Committee is not bound to finish a division that it has started, and if we have not disposed of Division XIV. to-morrow I do not see why it cannot be postponed until after we have dealt with Division XIII.
– I shall move that the discussion of Division XIII. be postponed until Tuesday.
– I am quite prepared to make it Tuesday if the Committee is agreeable.
– The Minister said that he would endeavour to move on Tuesday the second readings of some Bills associated with the Tariff. ,
– I. will make my secondreading speeches, and then we can proceed with the Tariff.
– Postpone Division XIII. until Friday next.
– Very well.
Division postponed accordingly. division xiv. - vehicles.
Item 350 (Balls for cycle bearings) agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Greene) agreed to-
That the item be amended by adding the following to sub-item (b) : - “ And on and after 30th June, 1921,
Valves for pneumatic tyres; cyclo meters; speedometers, direct and transmission linings, ad val.,British. free; intermediate, free; general, 5 per cent.”.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 352 (Cycle, motor cycle, and side car parts, plated, brazed, enamelled, or permanently joined, &c), and item 353 (Bicycles, tricycles, and similar vehicles, &c.) . agreed to.
Motor cycles, side cars, motor tricycles, and similar vehicles, n.e.i., and frames thereof, whether partly or wholly finished, each,
British, £10.; intermediate, £11;, general, £12, or ad val., British, 30 per cent’.; intermediate,, 35 per cent.; general, 40’ per cent., whichever rate- iseturns the higher duty. -
’.- I a I askohe Minister (Mr. Greene) to make. a. considerable- concession ini regand- to this item. The. duty’ oni the motor cycle itself, should be reduced. I ani told* by those engaged in the tirade thai; the. prices of. motor, cycles are so exorbitant that very few are- being sold. These; machines are. vehicles of utility, and of the greatest: iwportapice’;, they- are the poor, man’s motor ear,, a t)d . particularly in the outside coiinr try are invaluable, if not indispensable., Dealers in. Adelaide have told- me, and dealers, in other Statea-hava. confirmed the.statement,, that fchey a?e stocked: up with motor cycles, of which, they cannot disrpose,, because, the. price is too high* Men who.- in the- past /ware prepared to ‘buy them, now cannot afford, to dq so:.
– The . pricfii of petrol is a factor.
– The price of petrol is- high enough; buifc it is a mere flea-bite compared with the cost of the cycle itself-. I have introduced to’the Minister deputations representative, of all the States, and they assure me. that that is. so-.. I believe it is true of every dealer,, not only in, Adelaide,, bub in. the country towns of South Australia. I am also told that.no orders have been sent Home for quite a long time,, and that business has come to a complete standstill. I want to, know what, the Minister has to say, because I am. aware that: he has given vexjj careful, consideration to> the. representation’s that have been made to him from all the States in the Commonwealth.
: - I asmprepared to move for a’ lower duty on motor cycles .
Mar.-‘ Riley. - Motor cycles’ are made here.
– No- complete- motor cycles are made, in Australia. Pbrtions are made- here, but the1 remaining- parts are/ imported1 and assembled’. I have- seen a great- many people, in- regard -to this matter, and the only satisfactory- way of meeting the situation is, I think, to. take motor cycles out of this item and to put them, under a. lower duty. Such, a course, I believe-,, would. Lead., to. a greater volume of work in the, sidecar industry.,, as well as. in the assembling of. motor cycle parts. I move -
That the item be amended by adding tine fdllowihg : - “‘And on- and after 30th June-, 1921,
I am not asking for a fixed duty in re-‘ spect of motor cycles’., .
.- I I invite the” Minister (Mr.. Greene) to consider hofw’the’ amendment just1 moved will square with - item- 35-2, under which we have- already imposed duties’ of’ 20^ per cent, and 30 per; cent, on motor cycle parts: Even’ if ‘complete’ motor cycles- are not’, being; made here, we. should, at least encouragei the. assembling of tha parts. During the: last two* years more . particu:larly motor cycles of all makes have in? creased’ im price to a most- unreasonable extepib. If. - there, is- anything approaching profiteering in connexion, with any imported article,, it certainly exists in. respect of’ motor cycles. There appears to be an arrangement, between the various manufacturers’ bringing these machines into. a. country, because if the- price^of one particular’ make’ of’ motor cyclfe’ is* raised the companies’ producing other ‘brands immediately raise their prices’. If t)he duty of . £12 per machine; were taken’ off tomorrow: I do- nob. think amy reduction would be made iw the. price. I ‘trust that thei Minister- will see-that the Tari-fl- Board j when appointed, goes carefully/ into- the qiiestion: of the exonbitant; rates, charged for imported motor cycles, so. that, local users: may bei protested’.. . .
– That- cannot, be* done, in regard tor the imported article.
– So. that whilethe Board will be able to control, local manufacture we. shall have no control over importations. If we are to- reduce the duty on the finished article, we should have a corresponding reduction of the duty on’ motor cycle parte,, so. that the industry, of assembling motor cycle, parts may be enr coxtraged in Australia.,
Mr. RICHARD FOSTER (Wakefield) vious qteni relating to -motor -cycle parts. Has not Ithe Minister (MrGreene) had some very pressing appeals from men “in the motor ‘cycle trade to -allow motor cycle engines to . come -in -at a small djrty . of, -say, -5 per ‘cent, or 10 per cent., sso Jas to ‘encourage the assembl’ing of ‘motor cycles /here?
Mr.Greene. - But isuch engines are being manufactured here.
– I underistand Ithat ionly one or two . firms have attempted to ‘make (engines fornnotor cycles.
Mr.Greene. - I think that local manufacturers axe producing -up to 300 motor cycle engines a year. ‘
-FOSTER.- I was not awareof ‘that.
Mr.GREENE (Richmond- Minister forTrade and Customs) 9.2’6].- I was not sure : as to . what would be the attitude of honorable members in regard to a reduction of the duty on ‘motor cycles, ‘but if the Committee is prepared to accept ‘the reduction for which I have moved, it will be necessary for me -later on to ‘move for the recomini-ttal of ‘item . 352, which relates to -motor cycle parts, in order-to make the requisite ‘adjustments.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, asamended, ‘agreed to.
Item 355 (Children’s tricycles) ; item 356 (Perambulator or go-cart parts n.e.i.) ; and item 357 (Perambulators and gocarts) agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Greene.) agreed to-
That the item he amended by adding the following: - “ (c) Landing lights specially constructed for use in aerodromes for night flyings - on and after 30th June, 1921, ad val., British, free; intermediate, free; general, 10 per cent.”
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Vehicle -parts, viz.: -
Steel or iron wheels’ and s’tee’l-tyred wheels ‘for use on railways and tramways, and . all steel or iron parts for such -wheels, including axles,, ad val., British, 35 per. cent.; intermediate, 45 per cent.; general, ‘‘55 per cent. (c.) Parts of railway ‘and tramway vehicles propelled by petrol, steam, -electricity, oil, or alcohol, n.e.i., whether incorporated in the complete vehicle or separate, viz.: - (‘1) Bodies, ad val., British, -35 per cent.; . intermediate, 43 iper cent.; . general, 55 per cent.
– -.Sub-item a provides that axles -and axle boxes, roller (bearing and ball bearing, . as prescribed by departmental bylaws, -shall be free under the -British and intermediate Tariffs, while a duty of 10 per cent, is impeded under the general Tariff.We can make these parts here. I learned from a manufacturer in Sydney that owing to the introduction of cheap parts from other countries, under the free list, he has . been forced to lay aside automatic machinery for the purpose which he imported, at considerable cost from America. - The firm in -question : made for the ColonialSugar Refining Gompany roller bearings . and ball bearings and axle boxes of av.ery intricate character involving measurements to the . nicety ofa thousandth part of an inch. The ‘firm cannot carry on, however, whilst ithas to compete against importations coming in under the free list, -and I flunk the Minister (Mr. Greene) should consider the desirableness of imposing an adequate duty so that this automatic machinery may once niore be put into operation.
: - So far as we know, there is no production -of these articles in Australia. At any rate, we -have ‘had no ‘request for a duty . on these particular items. The honorable member can . see -that they are subject to departmental” by-laws. This has been done for the express purpose of enablingthem to be dealt with if their manufacture is undertaken inAustralia., and the manufacturer is able to supply the necessary requirements of -the . country. In those circumstances, -the line of goods he manufactures will be brought- into the dutiable list. These bearings vary in character, and -are used very extensively in . all classes -of machinery., so that it would not be judicious . to have them . all included in the dutiable list.
.- The Minister has acted wisely in deciding not to increase at the present time the duties already imposed under . sub-item a ; but I think that the duty he proposes under sub-item b on steel or iron wheels, or steel tyred wheels for railways, is excessive, and I hope he will agree to a reduction of the British and intermediate rates. I do not care how much he increases the duty under the general Tariff, but I object to such a heavy impost being placed against people of ‘the same colour as ourselves. It seems absurd to do so, especially when every State is crying out for railways to enable its territory to be developed, and more effectively occupied and worked. To load ourselves up with such high duties, which the State Governments who own the railways will be compelled to pay, is simply a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul. One might understand the imposition of a heavy rate on these, wheels and tyres ‘if conditions existed in Australia which made it difficult for us to produce these articles, but there is no difficulty in making them here. In the exercise of the spirit displayed in this Committee, which has for its purpose the abolition of militarism, and all that kind of thing, and an endeavour to make us self-contained, we ought to protect ourselves by building adequate railways, to equip which we must have full supplies of steel-tyred wheels. There is no difficulty, I repeat, in making these here, particularly when we have our steel works situated at. the coal pit’s mouth, and when we have the richest iron deposits in the world. The freight paid on bringing wheels from overseas ought to be sufficient protection to any local industry, and, apparently, the sole object of imposing heavy duties is to make wealthy men wealthier and place heavier burdens on the people. Every State railway system is bearing a burden of debt, and each year shows a, deficit, yet this Tariff proposes to make the capital cost of each system still higher. The main weight on each system is its capital cost, which, as we find it to-day, is only about half what it would be at the present cost of materials. We ought to halt before agreeing to these duties to see whether we are acting wisely in giving such enormous protection on these railway requirements. Certainly, let us give a reasonable margin of protection against the Mother Country, but the enormous duty of 35 per cent, will only serve to encourage laziness and slothfulness, and build up big fortunes, while incidentally crippling the country. We are . asked to undertake the work of making our railway gauges uniform at a cost of from £50,000,000 to £90,000,000, and yet we expect the various State Governments to pay a duty of from 45 per cent, to 50 per cent, on the material required to carry out that work. It is absurd.
– When I hear the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Prowse) talking on these items, and telling us of the wonderful opportunity that has always been open to the Australian public to establish the steel industry, and similar industries, on a profitable basis, I cannot help wondering how much money he has put into them in the past.
– Is that fair criticism?
– It is personal, at any rate.
– I am not putting it in a personal way. I am simply wondering why a great number of people have not, like the honorable member, been perfectly willing to invest their money in industries which he imagines . must have been enormously profitable if established. The- fact of the matter is that, prior to the war, no one bad invested in establishments for the making of steel wheels and steel tyres, and had it not been that some of the States had four years’ stocks of wheels and tyres on hand at the time the war broke out, the Australian railways would not have been running during the war.
– That statement is a little bit wild.
– No ; it is not. Every railway system in Australia would have been brought to a standstill during the recent war but for the fact that the Railway Departments happened to carry at the beginning of the war immense stocks of wheels and tyres; because supplies could not be got from overseas. And had it not been that one or two Australian firms had sufficient enterprise to come to our rescue, and commence the manufacture of these wheels and tyres, even with the big stocks on hand, we would have been in a very difficult position.
– This information is perfectly new. Where did these firms commence operations?
– The first firm to establish the business was Thompson arid Company, of Castlemaine. I saw them turning out these tyres with very primitive machinery, but with marvellously excellent results, the tyres they made being fortunately able to stand the enormous strain imposed upon “them by railway work.
– - Thompson and Company could not have made a very highclass wheel with a primitive plant.
– It was a marvellous performance on their part, but they turned ou* excellent work with a makeshift plant. The process, of course, was very expensive.
– Has the Minister received any representations from the various Railway Departments in reference to this item ?
– Speaking subject to correction, I cannot recall any complaint from any of the State Governments in regard to this duty. In addition to Thompson and Company, two other firms have commenced making steel wheels and tyres. The Commonwealth Steel Products Company of Sydney has invested £190,000 in works for this class of manufacture.
– Is not a high hydraulic pressure plant necessary?
– No; the process is not carried out by hydraulic pressure. The solid ingot is put under a steam hammer, and then flattened out to about one-third of the size of the wheel, and is then pierced. It is then taken from that machine, and gradually rolled out to the exact size required, and goes through various processes until completed. A very expensive plant is required, and the operations are most interesting to watch. Hatfields Limited, of England, have arranged with the Australian Electrical Steel Company to manufacture tyres, wheel centres, and other railway material. The capital invested in this whole industry will eventually be £500,000, but that invested in the large plant, at Newcastle, for this particular branch of the business is about £250,000. The plant is now, I believe, in operation, and the products, which are entirely of Australian raw material, are giving as much satisfaction as those imported.
– The State railway authorities depend upon, the test that is applied.
– Apart from the security, the State Railway Departments derive a great advantage in that they have not to carry, as they used to, immense stocks over a long period. ‘
– You are presuming that the Railway Departments, in the future, will be able to get all their wheels from these works?
– I have_ no doubt, whatever, that these three firms amongst them will be able to supply the whole of the requirements of Australia.
– Will the wheels, and so forth, be cheaper, or as cheap, as those formerly obtained?
– I think they will. But we must give the firms a reasonable opportunity to establish themselves, and that is why I suggest what I admit is a high duty. As I have said, I have had nc complaints from the State Governments.
– If the State Railway Departments have not put forward any case I have no more to say.
– I think they are entirely satisfied.
– Is it not a case of graduating the duties until the firms get a footing?
– Parliament will, later on, have an opportunity of dealing with this duty as with any other duty, but the firms must be given reasonable security over a term of years. This is a great national work, necessary to the safety of the country. That is why, owing to our experience and the “ close shave “ we had during the war, we have thought it as well to make matters perfectly secure.
.- During the war period the engineers associated with this industry, in my electorate, found themselves unable to get axles and wheels they had contracted for, and they formed a purely Australian company, composed of the various engineering firms in Sydney, and some in Melbourne, to establish the industry with a view to turning out complete axles, wheels, and tyres. The danger to such industries in their early stages is, that one or two big ship-loads of wheels or axle3 may come from America or elsewhere, and simply wipe them out of existence. In this one industry there has already been spent £240,000. The plant consists of a 10-ton electricalf urnace for the purposeof producing lie finer classes of steel required. A complete machine shop has been erected for the manufacture of wheels ; and axles, the smallskip wheels used in mining, andother field castings. The wages spent perweek, atthe present time, amount to£1,750, while £3,000 a week isspent on local purchases necessary to ‘beep the -works going. It willbe seen that the industry isnow of some magnitude. For the firsttimeinthe history of Australia thecomplete work , is turned out here, and the test applied is . of the highest; it is that imposed by. the Engineers’ Board of Australia, and it is accepted by the railways as a thorough guarantee.
– The test is higher thanthat which our competitors, abroad have to submit to.
– Quite so. These men invested their money during the war, and it is for Parliament to say whether this country, in this regard, shall or shall not be self-contained in the . future. No increased duty is asked for.
– What was the duty in previous years’?
– This is the first time ‘the industry has been attempted. The Minister (Mr. Greene) nas proposed the ‘encouragement represented by the duties, and I hope that he will be supported by the Committee.
.- My experience makes me realize the importance of this industry to Australia, but one cannot help observing that the duties are very high. If the various Governments of the ‘States, who are almost the sole users, have made no protest-
– They have not; I have ascertained that as a fact.
– Then it is merely a waste of time to discuss the matter.
– The reason there is no protest is . that the State Governments are not over-charged.
– That may not be so in the future, for the duty will ‘remain.
Mr.Foster. - It will mean, otherwise, that theRail way Departments will have to manufacture for their own requirements.
– I am under the impression, -though I -am not quite ‘certain,that in Western Australia plant has been imported by the Government for the purpose of starting the manufacture ‘of the necessary material.
– That is quite possible; we do not know everything -that is going on.
– The articles under discussion certainly represent the most important in railway traction.
– Without them the railwayscannot be run.
– On the other hand, they must be of the best type and. quality, and in this regard ; the engineers are the best judges.
Mr.Greene. - These articles have boon put through the most drastic test.
– I - I know that in the old days the Krupp was regarded as the best wheel.
– The test applied at Newcastle isthe ‘most severe inthe world.
-However that . may bo,theMinister (Mr. Greene)must realizethatthe duties proposed are enormous.
– The duties are high.
– I recognise the wisdom of starting an industry of the sort, and that it involves a . heavy . expenditure on plant. There is some necessity ‘for a -duty at the present time, . hut I hope that it is only for the purpose of giving the industry -a fair start., and that, as time goes on, no ‘objection will be raised by those concerned to . a . gradual reduction in order to bring conditions to normal.
– I was surprised to hearthespeech made ‘by the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Prowse), for if the honorable member were to examine the railway wheels in Australia that were procured before the war, he would find the great ‘majority branded “ Krupps, Germany.”It is to the discreditof. the Australian “Governments that they bought ‘Krupp’s wheels because they were£5 per pair cheaper than British ‘wheels, a fact which I saw stated in Hansard, referring to a parliamentary return.’ on line cost of wheels- on. the east-, west railway.. The; profits made1 by the. German: manufacturers of these: wheels, were used t©> make guns- -with, which, to; blowBritishers: to pieces. An honorable member, who would challenge . anybody who doubted’ his loyalty, proposes to-day, by his action in refusing a duty, to give, more nwney to- the. foreigner with whicli to’ provide’ guns for our destruction. In is- queer reasoning when a proposal is’ made to> murder an- Australian industry which stood’ by this country in our time ofi trouble, showing;’ apparently, approval of the’ actiom of unpatriotic Governments’ before the war. I am sure, that no member’ of the Corner party would invest his money in an industry unless he were given adequate protection. The members of that party are all the time askinjr for Protection in. their own, interests, and yet, when men are prepared to invest £300,000’ in’ an’ industry of ‘.this kind, they refuse- any. ‘diity. This’ is a case in which we. should be prepared^ if necessary, to give Protection for all time. If a Combine ia formed, whether’ in. America or’ Great- Britain, wdfih the object of capturing our- market; wee ought to prevent *it,; and that can only be: dona by. means of the TafifE. By cheaper methods of manufacture, lower wages, aid’ longer Iioursj,, mau.ufactiir.ers e]sewh<sre-> can afford to sell at a lossi here in order to kill our industries., I mention this- bcr cause theihojcLOxaible- member, forDampier (Mr. Gregory) hopes that) the duties will be removedj later- on- On the. other’ hand, I hope that,, so longp as there, is any attr tempt to import these goods; the duties will; remain.-
– The Australian is the Better article: ‘
– The most severe test- is applied to. our product; indeed’, to- my mind,itis most disloyal’ on the part of Australian Governments to submit Australian products to a, higher test than that, applied to the foreign article,
– The, engineers, are dealing with a new industry, which is moat important from: the point, of view of safety, and) until they are quite- sure that the- local manufacturer is’ turning out the proper material,, they feel justified’ in applying this- severe, test,.
– But why a severer test than, that applied to. the. foreign: article?, Ia it with the, idea of killing Australian industries ?. .
Mr.BernardFoster. - No, with the idea of saving- people’s lives.
– If we require our own product to stand a greater test than that of Krupp’s, we show greater fai’th in Krupp’s product than in the Australian. . . .
– Noi railway engineer* would ask that.
– The Australian aa’ticle. is being- asked to- undergo- a. severer test. Probably, if the Australian article, would not stand as high a test, or even the- same test as the foreign, product, the latter would be usedi, I do not. desire that to be; done. I hope that, honorable. members, will, protect our own industries and our own people, and not allow a reversion to the pre-war- system of helping to build up foreign firms like, Krupp’s. .
.- Itseems to be very easy for some honorable members; including the Minister (Mr. Greene), to misunderstand m& The Minister questioned the amount of my investment in a certain! enterprise1 in Ausralia. If he desires to> be- personal, I make the> statement that I ha>ve invested more in -Australian industries’ than has the Minister. The honorable memiber for East Sydney (Mr. West) referred to’ my vtfsiD to Thompson’s’ foundry at Castlemainei I suppose that th& work done there will compare” favorably with work: of a similar character carried) out- in any paiiti of the wbrld. T-he railway wheel tyres produced by Thompsons aTc of the finest. That-, firm has up-to^’ate1 machinery, and I am delighted to find that these tyres are’ being made in Australia. I aro prepared! toi go’ further than the honorable member for East Sydney or the honorable’ member for Gwydir (Mr.. Cunningham) by -voting for the prohibition) of the importation of any such tyres pro~ vided, that; having givent such- firms as were capable of ‘manufacturing them the whole of. the Australian . tradej. they would produce:. asi cheaply- as: we. could import them fromi any other British territory after paying: the; freight and: all- eoats.
– We are dealing with a purely Australian firm who have not looked for too much assistance from this Tariff to put them on their feet.
– I would encourage them to develop their works and create greater employment by giving them the entire trade of Australia; but I do object to the raising of the Tariff without providing any protection for the consumers. I would vote also for the prohibition of the importation of agricultural machinery, provided that local manufacturers could guarantee that they would give me as good and cheap a machine as my competitors in other parts of the world are using.
– We are hoping that the. Tariff Board will give us some protection in that way.
– I feel compelled to speak in this way when the Committee is giving such heavy duties to industries, which, having the raw material, thecoal for power, and everything else needed to enable them to compete upon reasonable terms, do not seem to need this extreme protection. We are asked to give consideration to men who can produce locally the rims of railway wheels, but at the same time some honorable members are prepared to heap the burden on the primary producer, who is . expected to lift the financial load off Australia, no matter how they handicap him in comparison with his competitors overseas. If we were to adopt a policy that would really help Australia, we would give the local manufacturers full command of the whole of the natural secondary’ industries, provided they could deliver the goods at a reasonable price. That is not being done.
– We have to establish- an industry first.
– We have had the Protectionist policy in Australia for the last forty years.
– These rims were not made in Australia until a few months ago.
– I am not speaking only of them. The true interests of Australian industry have not been conserved by the past actions of this Committee. If we do not provide now a sliding scale in connexion with these duties, I am afraid that we shall not find it very easy to reduce the duties when the industries are established. We should do that throughout, because the idea of Protection is to help an industry to become established. But we seem to have departed from that principle. If it is necessary for the time being to impose such a high duty, we should have an assurance from the Minister that there will be a reduction on a sliding scale. Give industries protection until they are fully established, and then give them the whole of the. Australian trade upon the conditions I have already mentioned.
Bill returned from the Senate without request.
Agreement with Orient Steam Navigation Company.
.- I move - .
That the House of Representatives approves the Agreement made and entered into the 27th day of April, 1931, between His Majesty’s Postmaster-General in and for the Commonwealth of Australia of the one part and the Orient Steam Navigation Company of the other part for the carriage of mails and services to be performed as therein provided, a copy of which Agreement has been laid upon thu table of the House.
Honorable members will remember that about two months ago I laid a copy of this Agreement upon the table, and at the same time made a short statement explaining the nature of the Agreement and the reasons why it was proposed to enter into it, as well as the way it differed from the existing Agreement for the carriage of mails. I also stated at the time that the contract was subject to the British Government arranging with the Peninsular and Oriental Company for an alternating four-weekly service which would give us a regular fortnightly service between Australia and Great Britain . I am glad to say that to-day I received a letter from the Australian manager of the Orient Steam Navigation Company, in which he states -
My managers cable that the Peninsular and Oriental Company has informed them that it has made arrangements to carry out a regular alternating four-weekly service with ours,commencing as from September this year, when the new mail arrangements start. To secure regularity in the day of despatch of the mails from Australia, we have made arrangements to alter our day of departure from Sydney. This will he a Tuesday instead of a Saturday, so that in future there is to be a regular fortnightly service by means of the Peninsular and Oriental and Orient steamers, leaving Sydney on Tuesday, Melbourne on Saturday, Adelaide on Monday, and Fremantle on Friday.
We shall thus have a regular fortnightly service instead of the weekly service which we had before the war.
– The position will be the same as it was before the war, only we shall have a fortnightly instead of a weekly, service?
– The position will be practically the same, with the exceptions to which I referred when I laid the Agreement on the table of the House. This is the best Agreement we could get. It is terminable at any time with twelve months’ notice. The shipping company would not enter into any other, and did not think that it was desirable to ask the Commonwealth Government to do so during the transition period we are going through at present. After I made my previous statement it is very gratifying to know that there was no adverse criticism of this Agreement.
.- It is pleasing to hear from the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Wise) that he has to-day received a letter stating that arrangements have been made for the alternating service which will give us a fortnightly service, because, as the Agreement is framed, it was a matter of doubt whether we would get the alternating service.
– The Agreement was subject to that. If that had not been arranged for we could have cancelled the Agreement.
– I must say that, in my opinion, the provisions of the Agreement are very loosely drawn. It is left under the Agreement to the Orient Company to make arrangements for the alternating ‘service, and the Commonwealth Government has very little say in the matter. It is pleasing to know that the alternating service has been arranged, for, but it would be interesting also to know - and the Minister gave us no information on this point- whether the boats to be employed in the alternating service are equal to the boats to be pro vided for the monthly service by the Orient Company.
– We have no control over the Peninsular and Oriental Company, and never had.
– That is my point. The Minister is not in a position to say whether the boats supplying the alternating service will be equal to those contracted for by the Orient Company..
– They might be black-labour boats.
– The matter is in some doubt, and we should get more information upon it.
– We can deal only with the Orient Steam Navigation Company. We have no control overthe Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, nor did wo have any control over them in the past.
– But there is a provision in the Agreement under consideration whereby it is, I think, practicably optional with the Orient Steam Navigation Company to make arrangements for an alternating service, though, in the event of the company not doing so, we might give three months’ notice of the cancellation of the Agreement.
– Yes, we could cancel the Agreement
– The Agreement left it entirely , with the Orient Steam Navigation Company to arrange for the alternating service. A very interesting question which has still to be answered, is whether the boats supplying the alternating service must comply with the condition under which white labour is to be employed.
– The Agreement is practically the same as the last Agreement, with the exception of the alterations I have mentioned.
– And its conditions apply to the alternating boats.
– What we require is a speedy and frequent service. In regard to speed, notwithstanding the fact that great improvements’ have been made in shipbuilding, and more powerful engines than were previously used have been installed in vessels during the last few years, I sfind tha«t the iservice to be provided under the Agreement will not’ ‘be spesdier ithan any ^previous /service we have had.
– That is so.
Mr.Charlton- One would have expected that the ‘Government jwould be able to ‘secure a ‘qnaicker . service than . that provided for under -the Agreement rof 1905.
SirJOSEPH (Cook - We could . get a quicker- service, but we should . have to pay for it.
– Wie -could mot get it at present, because the boats . are mot available.
– Under the 1905 Agreement, the voyage from Naples to Adelaide . occupied696 . hours. Under the 1907 Agreement, which has just expired, . and which was entered into for ten years, starting with 1910, the time allowed from Brindisi to Iranian tie was 638 hours. The present Agreement shouldhave expired in 1920. I , do not know whether it did or uot, and whether we have for some “time been carrying on under some arrangement with the Orient Steam Navigation Company.
-wehave been carrying on under the Agreement, which was to be terminated by notice from the company.
– The isame provision is in the old contract.
Mr.CHARLTON- I did not wotioe it.
Mr.Wise.- They had the optionto bring . in . another boat.
– rYes. But under the same condition’s as those provided for inthe contract.
– There -were certain exceptions.
Mr.CHARLTON. -I accept the Minister’s statement on the point, hut I . did not notice that in reading the contract. As regards cost, under the 1905 Agreementfora . fortnightly service, the eoopenditure was : to be £1:20,000a year, and -we added to that £26,000forcarrying the mails ou from Adelaide to ‘Sydney, so that inround figures the expenditurewas £146,000. Under the 1907 contractwe paid,, I ‘think, £170,000 per annum, whereas under this contract we shall pay £130,000 a year ; but the conditions in regard to the ‘running of ‘the ‘service are aTtogetlrer different. Under the former contract the company was required to carry the mails to Adelaide, -While ‘under this contract they will have to ‘carry them only as far as Freinanule, so ‘that ‘the mileage is considerably less. It seems to -me that under this* Agreement the icorapaaiy is making ‘a much better ‘.bargain than it secured in (regard . to . the carriage of ‘mails lunder the . previous Agreement. The Minister ‘(Mr.Wise) -has -.said that he had to do the best that he could,, ; and I . think he meant to infer that . he -was unable -to- secure . as-. good an arrangement as obtained under the old Agreement.. . Provision is made under this, as under -the old contract, for eaoh . vessel being fitted up with ‘insulated space. ‘Three calls a year have to be made at a Tasmanian port,, as against six calls a’ year made under’ . -the old arrangement, ‘so tliat ‘Tasmania will toe at la disadvanitajge.
– Because this is a fourweekly as against a ‘fortnightly service.
– Tasmania will have a less frequent service than ‘before.
– And so -will Australia as la whole.
– - The contractrequires the company to provide on each mail steamer a c’ham’ber for ‘ the “carriage of, butter, ‘but we have ; to “guarantee ‘a shipment of at leasife 300 tons.
– The company must provide on each mail ship- a chamber to carry butter “ if 300 tons- of 20 cwt. are- offered for shipment, at the ports of loading in the Commonwealth collectively.”
– So that, under the Agreement if we had only 100. tons of butter available for shipment, the company would not be required to -carry it. on. one. of these, mail steamers.. We must guarantee in every case a. shipment of at least 300. tons,. In mafty respects the shipowners, under this Agreement are- in a hotter position-. ‘than they were before. I take, it that under the notice which the Postmaster-General has received’ there will be thirteen departures- a year for Australia from a declared port in the Old Country.
– We have thirteen, and we understand’ that they will provide for thirteen.
– Not thirteen ships, but thirteen departures. There is one clause in- the Agreement for which I can see- absolutely no reason. I refer to that providing for the- employment of whitelabour,, but declaring, that preference shall not be given, to- unionists, as. against, nonunionists. It is to. the. latter portion of the clause that. I- objject. We say that the law of the land must- be complied’ with, and one of the laws of the Commonwealth, provides for the registration-, of organiza.tibns. which may secure awards of theCourt in regard to- hours- and conditions of lhbour. Yet under this Agreement; the company may employ non-unionists’ with the object, perhaps; of breaking down the unions and. the wages awards- that have been made. Such’ a provision- ought to, be eliminated. I should like to ask the Minister whether any other tenders were re- ceived.
– I take it that, under clause10 provision is. made for these vessels being fitted with wireless.
– The- honorable) gentleman admits: that this Agreement isi not as satisfactory from the: point of view of the-Commomwealfch asi those, which have, previously been in operation. The steamship owners have, driven a hard bargain, aoidi have insisted, upon securing for. themselves the best possible) conditions., We are building ships of our own. At the present- time1 five large: vessels are) being- constructed) to. the order - of the- Common.wealth Government.
– Twoof them have already been launched. .
– That is so. When this contract was drawn up it was believed that the four vessels agreed upon at that time would be able to conduct a monthly service: If that was so, I see no reason why, when the five large steamships being built to the order of the Commonwealth are ready to. be put into commission, we- should not employ them in providing for ourselves a monthly mail service. We could employ auxiliary vessels just as this company, is doing, and the £135,000 per year now to be paid to the company would be of great assistance in enabling our own vessels, to- Be run on a satisfactory commercial basis. There is no genuine reason why, when those ships are ready,, they should not b» used for the carriage of our mails..
– Will they not. be rather slow?.
– I do not think- so. They will be thoroughly up to date, and; as I mentioned just now, two have alreadybeen launched.
-. - They are launched’ but not. completed.
– Yea; the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) launched, one a. week or two ago, and Mrs. Storey, wife of the Premier of New South Wales, launched’ the other. They will probably be- completed twelve- months hence.
– We are told that, they are further advanced’ than any other ships that have been launched.
– We have, been, so, informed, by the shipping; authorities! In view- of. these facts, are we, justifiedin. entering into. a. terr years’ contract; with, this, company for the. carriage.- of our mails ?
– We are- not. We are: entering into a contract which may be. terminated on twelve- months’ notice.
Mir. CHARLTON. -I am aware of that proviso, and’ as soon, asithei Government, aire reasonably sure that these new steamers of the; Commonwealth line will. be available, would, it. rot he advisable: to- give the company twelve months’ notice of the termination of this Agreement? Surely if we are going to build ships of our own we will not pay the taxpayers’ money to outside firms, and thus assist them to keep going and to make a success of their own boats as against ours? It seems from what we can read that these outside companies are doing everything they can to hamper and hinder the Commonwealth Shipping Line. It is therefore necessary that we should see to our own interests and the interests of our people, and carry the mails in our own boats. The Agreement is a business arrangement, and though I could give my own interpretation of different clauses, one or two of which I hold to bo very weak, I shall not occupy time in doing so. It is a business arrangement, which will be entered into when it has received the approval of this House. The Minister says that he has made the best deal he possibly could under adverse conditions. I commend to him the suggestion that, when we have suitable boats to carry the mails- and those which are being built for us will compare favorably with any of those carrying the mails to-day - he should, as soon as is reasonably possible, give the necessary notice for the termination of the contract, so that our own vessels, may carry our mails, and in that way save the Commonwealth a good deal of money.
.- I am one of those who think that mail contracts are of great importance; but the history of the mail contracts entered into by various Governments in Australia will not bear much investigation. If they were inquired into, it would be proved beyond doubt that the interests of certain individuals and of one section of the community have been better served than have the interests of the great masses of the Australian people. In the latter portion of the seventies a contract was entered into by which the Government of
Victoria agreed to pay the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company no less than £800,000, the arrangement being that the terminal port should be Melbourne instead of Sydney. That was done in such a way that the State of New South Wales took strong measures in connexion with the American mail con tract, one good result of which is that we have to-day a line of steamers running regularly from Australia to England via, America. I do not wish to pass any severe reflections on those who entered into the contract now before the House, because I know they were at the mercy of the company, which has an absolute monopoly of the shipping between Australia and the rest of the Empire. Lord Inchcape, the chairman of the Peninsular and Oriental Steam. Navigation Company, is a man with wonderful influence. I suppose that no man within the Empire has. more, and his influence arises out of the grip he has on the shipping of Great Britain.. I should like to know if the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company are going to man their ships with coloured crews?
– We have no control over the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, and have never had since the Orient Steam Navigation Company’s contract was entered into.
– I can see in this a very good move by the steam-ship owners, by which they will be able to do everything possible to defeat the White Australia policy, because the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company run their boats direct, and the Orient Steam Navigation Company will be only a kind of subsidized line, which, on the Post.masterGeneral’s own admission, is not compelled to run its boats.
– They are under the same contract practically as they have had for ten years:
– If the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company had a dispute with their employees, we would have no control over their coloured crews, but we would have some control over’ the crews of the Orient Steam Navigation Company’3 boats. The Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, therefore, have a fine opportunity to defeat the progressive and humane White Australia policy of the Labour movement. I do not understand why twelve months’ notice should be necessary for the termination of the Agreement. Where has the Minister (Mr. Wise) been to allow such a provision to be inserted? . He must know that we have begun to build ships of our own, which surely are not going to be toys. I am sure the desire of the Government and of the people of Australia is that we should not be at the mercy of existing monopolies in the matter of transport between Australia and the older portions of the world. We should have some control over the ships that will carry on the trade between Australia and Great Britain. I direct the attention of members of the Country party to the fact that the contract makes provision for the carriage of butter and other commodities of that character to the other side of the world. It is to the interests of Australia that private companies should not have a monopoly of that trade, or be able to dictate terms to Australia. If we had our own service, it would be managed in such a way that the interests of Australia would be the first to be considered; but there is no possibility of that under this contract. I admit that our own service is not sufficiently advanced to be able to take over the carrying of mails or passengers between England and Australia, but I certainly abject to the provision requiring twelve months’ notice on either side for the termination of the Agreement. That period is far too long. It renders the contract what I might call an indecent one, or one which is not mutual. It has been held that a contract is not binding unless the agreement is mutual, and this one cannot be called mutual owing to the long period of notice required to terminate it. If the Government had given that phase of the matter proper consideration, I am certain that they wouldnever haveagreed to such a stipulation. The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) pointed out that under the contract, unless 300 tons of butter are available, the refrigerating chamber will not be worked. If some misfortune should occur, or , aRing should be formed to prevent supplies getting to England - for instance, it could be arranged between the company and those concerned in the butter interest that 300 tons of butter should not be available to send to England in order to corner the market - that clause would be open to all sorts of abuses. It leaves the door open to all the tricks of the commercial world. All such risks would be obviated if Aus tralia inaugurated and maintained her own shipping communication with the Old World. It is just as essential that our overseas transport services should be under Australian Governmental control as our national railway systems. The day is not far distant when we shall be bound, in self-defence, to undertake the sea carriage of our mails and produce and citizens. I deprecate rushing this proposal through Parliament. The practice is dangerous. The Government are not infallible; they must take the responsibility of forcing the contract upon the country. There is no keener business interest than the big shipping firms. Their sole objective is the conservation of their shareholders’ interest. They have nothing to do with the welfare of Australia. They are neither public spirited nor philanthropic; they are just good business people. For those reasons this Parliament should be very cautious. I do-not think the period mentioned in the contract should be so long. Before twelve months have gone we may be very eager to break the arrangement. Lord Inchcape, who is the individual power behind the big shipping firms concerned in the carriage of Australian mails, is the head of a huge maritime combination, the activities of which are not likely to be beneficial to the Commonwealth. I would do almost anything to arouse the Government to the urgent need for instituting an all-Australian shipping service. Only by such means can we hope to secure fair play.
– It is useless to discuss the mail contract. I rise to express my sympathy with the Postmaster-General (Mr. Wise). He has done the best he could under trying circumstances. He has been up against the biggest Combine the world has ever seen, the Shipping Combine of Great Britain. It does not matter what company the contract has been made with. Theyare all in the same Combine. Everyone who has had dealings, no matter how slight they may have been in their ramifications with this ShippingCombine, lias found himself up ‘ against a brickwall. We must carry our mails, and must make certain provision for communication between Australia and Great Britain; and, in the circumstances, the Postmaster-General has made the best terms he can get. He was not in a position to dictate terms, because tike- Inchcape Combine, or what is: called> the Gonf.crenco Line; practically commands the whole of the shipping between Great Britain and’ Australia and: between Great Britain and’ other parts of the world’. The- only hope we have of overcoming this unfortunate state of affairs’ is that outside companies will break up this Combine, as they did in connexion with freights., The Combine was charging Australia £7 a ton to get its wheat Home, and it was not until foreign companies came iru that, we succeeded in reducing that amount by one-half, and iu. some cases> to a little less than, one-half. The other d’ay a boat was lying at an. Australian wharf loading: wheat at £7 a ton, and’ quite, close to- her’ was another boat loading wheat at half that’ rate. The Inchcape Combine thought’ that by having’ the British-American shipping under their hand’s; they could dictate terms1 to the world1; but f brtunately there are fleets flying other flags, although rt is a lamentable condition of affairs that any Britisher should be, obliged’ to look to. ships flying foreign flags to secure the, carrying of goods from Australia at. a reasonable rate; of. freight., My sympathy is. extended toi the Postmaster-General in Ilia endeavour to; get the best terms, for ccmmamication betweeni Great Britain and; Ausfiraiia,. when he found himself face to face with this; the» greatest and: moat merciless Combine the world has ever seen.
– The honorable: members, for Hunter(Mr. Charlton) and East Sydney (IMr; West) did not: complain, about the? terms of the mail contract. They recognised that, the Postmaster-General (Mr: Wise) had- to make the best of a bad bargain,, hut they pointed out that, as the Commonwealth was building; ships of. a Glasssuperior to- thoses of the, Orient) and PeninsularandOriental lines- - two of: them. have, already been, launched,, and the whole; five of them, are expected to be ready before’ the end of the year - we ought to give notice; immediately toi terminate the contract, with the. Orient Company and carry our mails in our owm ves* selsj which will- be ready bef ore the twelve months have expired. We are- told by the manager of the Commonwealth Line of Steamers that he can carry on- our mailcontract.. We have other steamers- under our control-., At any rate, the five steamers, we shall have- at our disposal! at the. end; of. the, year will bei of a- better type and, speedier than the- Orient steamers, and willi be; more up to- date. . . Why,, then, should we keep on. paying a high- subsidy to the Orient. Company to; carry our mails? Will the Minister promise that,, as soon as, he can. see -that we are- prepared to carry our own mails- in our ownsteamers, notice will- be given to; termir nate the contract with the OrientCompany?
– Had we npt better get our ships first before w.e start, talkingto the company ?
– No doubt, when the Treasurer- (Sir Joseph Cook) ismaking his financial’ statement, he will, tell, us about the’ financial . liar bility he has incurred- on these; vessels. All honorable: members desire is- that, we shall, not- continue» paying the subsidy when o.ur own . vessels arei reachy- to- do- the work.. The- Orient, Company-, no., doubt,, are quite, aware that w.e are. prepared’ to terminate the, contract, as soon as. we are ready to- do, so., In fact, that is the reason for the insertion of the provision for- twelve months’ notice of the termination of the contract.
– There is- a) good deal) of misapprehension in the mind’s of honorable members with regard) tOt this contract. It is> siinpLy a, contract withthe Orierut Company for a-. fourMveekly- service, and takes; uhet place ofi the old contact with- the. same; company- which, existed for tea years’, and’ which was entered into for that period, providing for ai fortnightly, service. By reason of the fact that the British Government had arranged withi the Peninsular and. Oriental Steam, Navigation Company to run a, fortnightly service from. Great Britain to Australia, we were able’ to. have ai regular, weekly service. be the two companies: alternating- their- vessels. Af the same time;we- had not control) over the. Peninsular and Oriental Steam- NavigationCompany.. The position, is exactly the same to-day. The Orient Company gave us notice to terminate their Agreement, and we had to makesome fresh arrangement. They were not . anxions to have a lengthy contract. The matter was entirely in their hands, for there was are other means by “which we could provide another service if “they had refused to continue. However, they met us, but they said that they did not want a long contract over what they recognised was a transition period. They suggested ‘an interim contract which «ould be terminated by . twelve months’ notice on either side. They -did not even ask for a contract Cor twelve months, and thereafter subject “to twelve months’ notice, which meant a contract for at least two years; ^but only ashed for an Agreement which could be terminated by giving twelve moirtfhsl’ notice at any time, so that it we desired we could give the notice immediately after the contract started. This shows that they were net anxions to bind as to a long contract. In order that we migTit have an alternate -service through the British -Government -with the ‘Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, we made it a condition of the contract that it -was subject to -such an arrangement being made in Great Britain. Theheatsof the -Peninsular and ^Oriental iSteam Navigation Company axe quite as good as those of the Orient Company. in fact, . recently we have tad one or two of their vessels here which were wp-to date boats. We shall get the benefit of the alternative aervioe in exactly the same way as we have -had -the benefit of the Peninsular and Oriental ‘Company’s -service far the last ten or eleven years during the existence of . the Orient Company’s contract. The poitfts to which the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) . referred are embodied in the new contract.
– There are many alterations.
– There are only a few,’ andthey lave been made to cover . points ion which wehave mutually agreed.
– The new contract is better for the companies.
– It is not. Alterations have been made to give effect to a fourweekly service instead- of a fortnightly one, to allow far’ different ports of call, extra time, and the paying £130,000 per annum instead of £170,000. There is also an alteration in regard to the freight on perishable goods, such as butter and fruit, which, instead of being carried at a axed rate, will be earned according to - the ruling rates charged at the ports of call. All the other clauses are the same as in the old contract.
Question Resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (bySir Joseph Cook) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I think it only fair to the representatives of the press, who attend daily in this chamber, and who always extend to honorable members the utmost courtesy”* and kindness, to say, in connexion with *he discussion which arose earlier in the evening as to what occurred at the entrance door of the chamber that the man who molested and endeavoured to intimidate -me was not a recognised reporter of our leading daily papers, I find, on making inquiries, that this man, whose name is ‘Sampson, is an agent : for the Union Film Picture Company, . and that he is also engaged as a casual ‘ band on one of our daily papers. I think it is only fair to make this explanation in justice to gentlemen , who always extend to us the utmost consideration.
Mr.RILEY (South. Sydney)[11.5]When I previously referred to this matter I did not . wish it to be inferred . that I was commenting upon the action of recognised newspaper reporters. I -was only -referring to one who -presumes ‘to’ be a reporter in this Hotrse,–and “who is . using his position as a representative of a country paper, and, perhaps, the Argus occasirjnatlly, to interview . members on ‘behalf of the company which . he represents.
– He has been -a journalist for twenty years.
– Perhaps -that is ao. I was not referring to recognised . reporters of the -Melbourne ‘dailies.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Honse adjourned at11.6 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 29 June 1921, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1921/19210629_reps_8_96/>.