8th Parliament · 1st Session
My. Deputy Speaker (Hon. J. IE. Chanter) ‘ took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– On 18th May last, when I was speaking in this House, on the question of Protection for the local confectionery industry, I said, in answer to an interjection, that I was not aware that Cadburys wanted a higher duty than was provided for in the Tariff schedule as introduced, and that I believed they were satisfied with the existing duty. The Minister for Trade and Customs interjected, “ They have asked for more, but I have not given it to them.!’ I desire to ask the honorable gentleman whether he was referring to Cadburys? 1
– The honorable gentleman has drawn my attention to this matter. Hansard shows that a number of interjections were being made at the time, and that, in the statement made by the honorable member for Darwin (Mr. Bell) immediately before my interjection, he did not mention the name of Cadbury. I had that day received a request for increased duties on confectionery from certain parties, and it was to thom- -that I referred. I have had no specific request of any kind, in relation to the duty on confectionery, from Cadburys
– On Tuesday last, the Treasurer, in reply to a question, that I addressed to him, said that he had been able to redeem a number of Commonwealth bonds, and that during the financial year, in ‘ one way or another, he had cancelled £15,000,000 or £17,000,000 worth of debts. The Argus, in commenting on this statement Hub morning, stated that what had taken place was a mere book-keeping transaction- that the Treasurer had merely made certain transfers from the Notes Fund. Will the right honorable gentleman amplify his statement?
– The statement I made on Tuesday is quite correct. There was a definite cancellation of debts to the extent of over £7,000,000 from the accumulations in the Notes Fund itself. In addition to that, I have paid off, this year, £1,500,000 worth of war gratuities, together with other sums, making the total that I gave on Tuesday.
– And these transactions mean a lessening of our public debt, and a consequent reduction in our interest obligations ? ‘
– A definite lessening of our public debt and a definite cancellation of interest obligations to that extent.
– Has the Acting Prime Minister received any communication from the Government or the Chamber of
Commerce of Fiji, in regard to -a proposed alteration in our trade relations with the island, owing to the restrictive import duty that we have placed on bananas. If so, will the right honorable gentleman give the House the effect of that communication!
– I am not in possession of any such communication.
Advances to States: Repatriation Regulations
– Saa the attention of the Assistant Minister for Repatriation been drawn to a statement in the press by Mr. Lang, State Treasurer of ‘New South Wales, in which he combats the statements made by the honorable gentleman in a reply that he gave to a question, addressed by me to him on Tuesday last, as to the allegation that soldier settlement in New South Wales had practically been closed down owing to the want of funds from the Commonwealth. In this later statement, Mr. Lang states that the New South Wales’ Government are still waiting the receipt of moneys due to them by the Commonwealth.
– I have seen the statement by the Colonial Treasurer of New South Wales to which the honorable member refers, and in which it is said that the Commonwealth Government: still owes New South Wales £6,000,000 under its promise to provide for the settlement of returned soldiers on the landa of that State. The actual position may be put’ very shortly. As the result of two conferences held between the Commonwealth authorities and State Ministers, the State of New South Wales proposed to settle 8,405 returned soldiers on the land at a cost of £12,254,191. Of that number of men 5,694, according to the State returns, have been settled, and the Commonwealth has provided already for the State of Now South Wales £6,266,135. There still remains to be settled under this arrangement 2,711 men, and as these men are settled the Commonwealth’s obligation has to be discharged, under the system fo. which I referred on Tuesday last. The State has to provide accounts certified to by the responsible Ministerand the Auditor-General that the expenditure has been incurred, and on receipt of such accounts recoupment is made by the Commonwealth. Up to date, the Commonwealth has made to the State of New South Wales, during the present year, general advances amounting to over £2,000,000, and in addition has made a special advance of £250,000 through the Treasury to help the State Government. I repeat again, most emphatically, that there is not in. the Commonwealth Treasury one certified account from the New South Wales Government that has not been paid.
– Has the attention of the Minister been called to the remarks of General Howse, as reported in the press this morning; and, if so, will he ask the General to supply the cases to which he alludes of the placing of soldiers on utterly unsuitable land in New South Wales?
– My attention has not been called to the remark’s referred to.
– The General alleges that soldiers have been shamefully treated by being placed on lands on which successful settlement is utterly hopeless.
– Under the arrangement made between the Commonwealth and the States, that is obviously a. matter over which the Commonwealth has very little control. The States are allowed to be the judges of the suitability or otherwise of lands for settlement, as has always been the case in the past; while the Com-, monwealth obligation is to provide the funds.
– Surely the Minister does not say that the Commonwealth is to find the money and take no concern about getting value for it?
– I am explaining the -actual position to-day. Under the arrangement the States have complete control, so far as the acquisition of lands suitable for soldiers is concerned, and under that arrangement the Commonwealth has no power to withhold funds.
– The Minister has spoken of all claims “ certified “ to ; what are the claims that are uncertified to, if any?
– I thought that I had made it perfectly clear that the obligation of the Commonwealth is practically to recoup expenditure incurred by the States in accordance with the definite terms of the agreement, which covers the acquisition and resumption of lands, approved public works, and direct advances to soldiers. It is the duty of a State, when applying for recoupments, to send to the Commonwealth Treasurer, through my Department, accounts certified in accordance with the arrangement - that is, certified by the State Minister responsible, and by his Auditor-General - to the effect, first, that the money has been expended; and, next, that it has been expended in accordance with the definite agreement. When the accounts come to hand, the invariable practice is, when they have been passed by my Department, to forward them to the Treasurer, who provides the money. I repeat that, neither in my Department nor in the Treasury are there any certified claims from the State of New South Wales unpaid up to 30th June.
– In view of the widespread dissatisfaction caused by the somewhat harsh interpretation of the regulations under the Repatriation Act, and of the fact- that for this the blame is, to a great extent, placed on the Parliament as responsible for the Act, will the Acting Prime Minister consider the advisability of introducing at an early date an amending measure?
– If the honorable member will indicate instances of “ harsh “ interpretation, I shall, be glad to see if it can be ameliorated in some ‘ way or other. I am afraid that a great deal of the criticism we hear has to do, after all, with the financial commitment connected with the matter. I should like to say, quite candidly, that this Parliament, and the country, cannot do all that is expected in the time expected. We took certain definite obligations on our shoulders, and these obligations must, and will be, discharged. But ten years’ work cannot be done in two years; that is the real difficulty. ,
– I shall mention some of the instances on the adjournment tonight.
– I shall be very glad to hear them. While on my feet, may I say that, instead of criticising us, us some of these State Ministers are doing, it would be much better if they said, “We will help you in these matters “? This has been done in the case of some of the States; in the State’ of Victoria, for instance-
– The model State!
– Give credit where credit is due. When the Victorian Government had received their quota this year for land settlement - and they received it pretty early - they came to see about some further advance in the terms of the general agreement we had made; and I had to tell them that I could not find them any more money. The Victorian Minister then said to me, “Very well, this work cannot be stopped, and we shall go along on our own account until the end of the year - we shall resume some estates on our own account.”
– Why does the Victorian Government not resume some of their own Crown lands?
– The Victorian Government have resumed the estates, and paid for them with bonds bearing current rates of interest. That is an instance of the way in which the States could help the Federal Government in meeting the tremendous obligation laid on our shoulders. With one or two exceptions, and one in particular, the States have taken the trouble to do this. In New South Wales, the attitude taken up is, “ Cash on the nail, or nothing doing !” That is the attitude of Mr. Lang, and I am very sorry to say that I cannot find him all the money he desires. He can help me if he chooses to do so; but he declines^ and rushes into newspaper print to blackguard this Government, instead of trying to help us.
Several honorable members interjecting -
– I point out to honorable members that it is disorderly to sustain running comment upon a Minister’s answer. . It is due to every honorable member to be permitted to hear the statements of the Minister, and it is neither necessary nor orderly to assail him with a series of further questions while he is answering . one. Honorable members have their opportunities, if replies are not considered satisfactory, of following them up with a view to securing further detailed information.
– Has the Assistant Minister for Repatriation any further information concerning a case which I brought under his notice some time ago? It had to do with a soldier whose application for land in New South Wales had been refused on the pretence that the Commonwealth was not providing the money.
– The Commonwealth authorities cannot interpose in respect of any individual application, as I have previously pointed out. And, as I have also stated before, while the full quota of returned men who desire to. settle have yet to be furnished with land,,, no State can refuse such settlement to a soldier who holds a qualification certificate. That is in accordance with arrangements made between the Commonwealth and the States.
– I desire to address to the Acting Prime Minister a question that I put some years ago to Mr. Andrew Fisher when he was Prime Minister of the Commonwealth. When an honorable member receives a letter from a Commonwealth Department appertaining to a “case which he has brought under its notice, no reference is made in it to the individual concerned nor is any telephone number given. Will the Acting Prime Minister have a circular addressed to all Departments requesting that on their written communications to honorable members the telephone number of the Department shall be stamped, and also that the addresses of the persons referred te in the letter shall be given?
– My impression is that most of the Departments already do that.
– Most of -them do, but some do not.
– I do not know why all should not do so. It involves no cost, so far as I am aware, and is of the utmost convenience to honorable members. I shall take care that it is done.
– Public servants are granted long-service furlough, and some who have served for exceptionally long periods, are regarded as entitled to further furlough. . How does the matter stand at present? “What are the intentions of the Government?
– The intention of the Government is to get statutory authority to provide for the further furlough mentioned, and that authority is embodied in the new Public Service Bill.
– Has the attention of- the Government been drawn ‘ to the fact that there has ‘been a very serious disturbance in Inter-State trade by the application of the Navigation Act?’
– I am not aware of it. . ‘ I have no doubt that, in connexion with the administration of that Act, . some readjustments will’ be’ necessary, and that. there may be a little temporary ‘ dislocation. ‘ However, the difficulties can be got over. Here again, I suspect that it is a case of “ cash.” . I suppose the ship-owners will make adjustments later on, ‘and pass on the effects thereof to the. public. Up will go the price of things once more; and, sympathetically, up will go the corresponding growl.
– Will the Acting Prime Minister consider the advisability of bringing in a Bill to prevent all those honorable members whose names are on the dishonorable list - that is to say, all. those who have not accepted increases in. their salaries up to the close- of the present, financial year -from taking the extra ‘‘money thereafter ? I understand that some of them are weakening, and are. now beginning to want;. it. I desire to prevent that.
– “While the- lamp holds’- out to burn— *
– I consider the honorable member’s question a reflection upon honorable members who- are-not drawing more than £600- a year for their parlia mentary services. In view of the reduction in the cost of living, will the Acting Prime Minister immediately take into consideration the introduction of a measure for the reduction of honorable members’ salaries accordingly?
– Will the honorable member please put his question on the notice-paper?
– Before the Defence Bill is introduced into this Chamber, will the Minister representing the Minister for Defence Have copies of the British Army Act made available for reference?
– I have already made arrangements for twenty-five copies of that Statute to be placed on the Library table, so that honorable members may make themselves acquainted with its provisions. If any honorable member suffers from insomnia he may be strongly recommended to peruse- the- British Army . Act.
– I have read in the press that Sir Robert McC. Anderson has been appointed manager of the Commonwealth Line of Steam-ships. I wish to know if this is the same individual who started a subscription list for the Prime Minister while he was in- England.
– I. have no knowledge of the matter to which the honorable member alludes. I have not seen any such announcement in the press, nor do I think that the newspapers have recorded that the. gentleman in question has been appointed manager of the Commonwealth line. I saw some statement, however, to the effect that he might be so appointed. I know nothing- further.
extension of telephone LINES.
-Will the PostmasterGeneral consider the question, of amending the Post and Telegraph regulations in order that the Department may have authority to erect telephone lines- for a greater distance from any postal centre than 20 chains? I refer particularly to party lines.- I have been informed that a quarter of a mile is the limit of extension authorized. In consequence, many people are prevented from securing telephone connexion, and there is, incidentally, a considerable loss of revenue.
– I shall make inquiries. I know, however, that the Department often runs out telephone lines as far as 2 miles.
– I received an official reply only the other day stating that 20 chains was the limit. The Department was prepared to erect the line.
– In view of the»fact that the financial year has practically ended, I wish to know what are the prospects, during the early part of the coining year, of thousands of would-be subsci’ibers who are waiting to secure telephone connexion. Have they any chance whatever ?
– A great number of applicants will be connected as soon as the necessary material has arrived. Connexions are being made as rapidly as possible, having regard to the quantity of material coming to hand. I am not in a position to say what is on hand and immediately expected, but I am having a return made and will make known the facts to honorable members.
Control and Management of Wheat Pools.
– I have received from. the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney) an intimation . that he proposes to move the adjournment of the House to discuss a definite matter of urgent public importance, viz., “ The advisability of appointing a Royal Commission to inquire into and report upon the control and management of the various Wheat Pools since their initiation.”
Five honorable members haying risen in their places,
– I regret that I should have had to take this step in order to ventilate the subject-matter of my motion. For several months I have had a notice of motion upon the business-paper for the appointment of a. Royal Commission to inquire into the management and control of the various Wheat Pools, but have not secured an opportunity of stating my case in the House. Consequently, no other course than the present has been open to me. Ever since the last elections, and,, indeed, from the moment when my campaign opened, I have had inquiries from people interested in the growing of wheat, who desire an investigation of the character indicated. It cannot be denied that there is a widespread feeling in the wheat-growing areas that an inquiry of this sort should be held, and in fulfilment of a pledge I made during the election campaign I have endeavoured two or three times to have it instituted. Unfortunately, when honorable members submit a notice of motion it is placed at the bottom of the business-paper, and nothing further is heard of it. If I had had an opportunity of ventilating this- matter, by means of an ordinary motion, I would not. have had to take this course to-day. At the outset, I assure the House that I am a believer in the pooling principle in regard to wheat and many other of our primary products. As a matter of fact, it is, and was long before the war, a plank in the platform of the party to which I belong. I believe it is the best system of marketing wheat and a large number of other products. But the best of systems can be spoilt by bad management. I am urging the holding of this inquiry in order that the results of the bad management . of the Wheat Pools may be brought into the light of day. It may be said that my remarks to-day constitute an argument against the pooling system, but the same objection could be offered to the criticism of any other great concern. If, for instance, the Commonwealth Bank, in which every honorable member believes to-day, -were badly managed, and the- bad management were criticised, that criticism could not be construed into an argument for the abolition of the. Bank. Therefore, I repeat that when I complain of bad management in connexion with the Wheat Pools, I must not be understood to be opposed to the pooling system. I, and I believe ninetynine out of every 100 wheat-growers in Australia, are at present in favour of the wheat pooling system in some form. It would be a mistake if the system were abandoned at the present time, and I cannot understand the attitude ‘of the Government, .because pooling is one of the planks in the platform of the National Federation, , of which honorable members opposite are adherents. That plank refers to the continuance of the pooling system in regard to wheat and its extension to other primary products. Yet the Acting Prime Minister (Sir Joseph Cook) has revealed himself as opposed to a continuance of the system.
– The Barwell Government in South Australia also have broken away from their own’ .platform.
– Yes, and so have the Victorian Government; but they may not foe in office very much longer;
The Acting Prime Minister, in reply to a question by me, said that he did not think the Federal Government could accept very much responsibility for the conduct and management of the various Wheat Pools. The right honorable gentleman knows that his Government have had control of the financial and shipping arrangements, and have been represented on the Wheat Board by a Minister. Therefore, it cannot be denied that the Government have been very closely associated with the conduct of the Wheat Pools. Time does not permit of my tracing the history of these Pools back to their initiation, so I shall deal only with those matters which are of the greatest importance to the wheat-growers and the general public. In the first place, I express my disapproval of the refusal of the Government and the Wheat Board to give definite information in regard to most of the transactions in connexion with the sale of wheat, particularly in regard to the clearing up of the earlier Pools. It must be admitted that there has been an amount of secrecy which is altogether unjustified. 1 Many months ago several honorable members, including myself, inquired as to the reason for the delay in finalizing the earlier Pools. We have received no satisfaction. This is a matter in which the .great majority of the wheat-growers are closely interested, and, therefore, it is hard to understand why the Central Wheat Board refuses so stubbornly to give this information to those .who are interested. As an instance of the secrecy associated with this matter, I remind honorable members that on the 28th April, before the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) left for England, the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) tried to get from him a definite statement as to the causes of delay. The Prime Minister said that he would try to get the information by the next day, and that if he failed to do so the Acting Prime Minister (Sir Joseph Cook) would give the facts to the House during his absence. Since then several other attempts have been made to get that information, but apparently the Acting Prime Minister has made no attempt to get it. At each of the last five or six meetings of the Wheat Board a promise was made by Senator Russell, the Minister representing the Government, that the information would be forthcoming at the next meeting, but meeting after meeting was held without that promise being fulfilled. The last meeting was ‘held a few day3 ago, and Senator Russell said -
Although the Roumanian and Servian bonds had yet .to bc realized-
Some wheat was sold to Roumania, and I have heard it said that the sale3 were made under such conditions that payment was not likely to be made for a long time, if ever.
– .’Those “were diverted’ cargoes.
– The point is that the Minister will not supply any information. The statement continues -
It was thought that what would practically be a final adjustment on account of the 1915-16 Pool would be announced before the next meeting of the Board.
There is no mention of the other Pools. The public-have no information in regard to what’ is stopping the winding up of the other Pools, except this vague reference to Roumanian bonds. It is no wonder there is so much widespread disgust, especially amongst wheat-growers who are holding script and want their money, at the failure to make known the cause of this delay in winding up the various Wheat Pools. The Acting Prime
Minister told us the other day, when I was speaking on this matter, that everything was ready, except for certain delay caused by the New South Wales Government; but the New South Wales Minister for Agriculture states that all the information asked for from New South Wales by the Central Wheat Board in regard to the finalizing of the earlier Pools has been supplied. The statement of the Acting Prime Minister can only be regarded as misleading.
I believe in the Pool system, because one of its essential features is the removal of the middleman; but there has been no elimination of the middleman in the control of the Australian Wheat Pools - at- least, the relief granted in that direction has been almost imperceptible. I could give numerous examples in proof of my statement. A few months ago, evidence given before a Royal Commission in New South Wales, appointed to investigate certain wheat transactions, disclosed the fact that commissions were paid on the sales of wheat made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), who always claimed great credit for having made direct sales, giving the impression that on this account no commission had been paid. Witnesses spoke of a large amount of commission being paid on the 3,500,000 tons of wheat sold direct by the Prime Minister.
– Who were the agents who received that commission?
– That is what we want to know; and only inquiry could bring out that fact. It was also /.stated in evidence that heavy commissions had been paid’ on the re-sales of cargoes in London and elsewhere. I want to know if that is . so. It was also said in evidence that the Central Advisory Board contributed £6,000 commission towards £14,000 paid by the Holman Government of New South Wales to Lindley, Walker, and Company. But one of the most serious aspects of this payment of commission was in connexion with the sale of 300,000 tons of wheat to the French Government. Time does not permit me to go into every case; but this is a typical one. The wheat-growers of Australia are familiar with the transactions in which Sanday and Company were associated; but the latest development is that a firm known as Sheppard, Harvey, and Company, entered into the business as Australian representatives of Sanday and Company. Why they should come into the matter, seeing that they were not connected with the Advisory Board, and were not on the list of official agents of the Government, no one knows.
– It is said that Mr. Sheppard is related to the Acting Prime Minister.
– The Acting Prime Minister will, no doubt, tell us if that is 60.
– It is perfectly true. He is related to me by marriage. But what have either of you to say about Mr. Sheppard ? ,
– I am not so much concerned about that aspect of the matter as I am in regard to what this firm will get out of it.
– You know that this is a dirty piece of business. You have not the courage of mice.
– I repeat that I am not concerned about the Acting Prime Minister’s relations.
– No; it is the suggestio falsi, which is the worst sort of lie. .
– Order !
– That re mark cannot, surely, be directed to me.
– The remark is directed to the man behind you.
– The honorable member for Gwydir (Mr.Cunningham) is well able to speak for himself. I was referring to the commission which was paid to Sanday and Company, and I pointed out that an Australian firm, which claimed to be the Australian representatives of . Sanday and Company, was also associated in the. matter. I took my information from a statement made by Mr. Sheppard to the Sydney Sun to the effect that another mysterious person by the name of Earl had been introduced by him to a Federal Minister.
– Mysterious person ?
– I do not know who Mr. Earl is, .or how he came into the’ wheat business, or why. I do not know why Sheppard, Harvey, and Company should get any commission, or why Sanday and Company should.
– How does the honorable member know that Sheppard, Harvey, and Company got anything out of the transaction?
– I want to know why Sanday and Company were paid 1 per cent., and whether Sheppard, Harvey, and Company got any of this money. The Prime Minister made a statement here the day before he left for London that the commission paid was . 45d. per bushel, or less than a halfpenny.
– Would the honorable member complain at Sanday and Company being paid commission if Louis Dreyfus had also received . 45d. per bushel?
– I am not interested in what Louis- Dreyfus did or did not receive; I am merely quoting this as an example of how hard it is to get at the actual facts. The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) gave the House and the country to understand that the maximum commission paid was . 45d. or ‘less than ½d. per bushel. As a matter of fact, in answer to questions put by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin), and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor), it has since been admitted that Sanday and Company received 1 per cent, by way of commission,,, and that, in addition, the ordinary , commission of thirteen thirty-seconds per cent, on the . f . o.b. value was paid to the Wheat Board’s selling agents in London. That . statement is entirely different from- that made by the Prime Minister. This matter can be cleared up only by the appointment of a body that will investigate the whole matter. If there is nothing to hide, the Government should take that action, and let the wheat-growers of Australia know the facts. There should have been nothing to prevent the Wheat Board’s official agents in London from communicating with ‘the representatives of France there. There is absolutely no reason why the firm of Sanday and Company should have been brought into the transaction, and have secured a big commission. The statement has been made that the Australian firm of Sheppard, Harvey, and Company were associated with them, and I desire to know whether they got anything out of the transaction. If the commission actually paid on this sale of wheat was, as stated by the Acting Prime Minister, one and thirteen thirty-seconds per cent., over £100,000 was then paid out, whereas if the commission paid had been, as stated by the Prime Minister, less than½d., it would have worked out at about’ £23,000. Thus if the statement be correct, the commission paid in respect of this one deal was over four times greater than it should have been. The wheat-growers are the sufferers to that extent.
– The wheat-growers made a very good deal, and would like to make a few more of the kind.
– As to that statement, I believe that during the war-
– But that deal was made after the war.
– Quite so. The honorable member was not present when I said that I favoured the pooling system - that the wheat growers, as a result of the Pool, had done better than they would have done without it. But every one else at the time was also doing well! The fact that the wheat-growers got a higher price than they would have obtained in the absence of the pooling system is no justification for the payment of commission to persons who should not have received any commission. The honorable member’s interjection, therefore, is not an answer to my complaint. There is a wealth of meaning in the reply that was made to a question addressed by the honorablemember for Hindmarsh and the Leader of the Opposition to the Prime Minister. They . asked whether Sanday and Company negotiated this sale as brokers or merchants, and some months elapsed before they were able to drag out the reply, which was made by the Acting Prime Minister. The answer was, “ On behalf of the Wheat Board, as far as the Australian Wheat Board is aware, as brokers.” If the Australian Wheat Board is not able to give a definite answer to such a question, from whom may we expect to obtain an answer? This is But another instance of the secrecy which has been observed, and the trouble we’ have, had in eliciting information from the Government. If I proved that some people quite outside the official’ agents ob* tained commission and brokerage that would be nothing new. The only official stat.ean.ent by the Wheat Board in regard to the payment of commission was published in October, 191.8, and it related only to the first Pool of 1915-16. It was announced in that statement that £131,000 had been paid by way of commission to the London agents, and that other commissions and brokerage amounted to £67,000. No details were given.
Mr.Fenton. - Has no balance-sheet been published ?
– No; that is the only official statement we have had.
– This is a brokers’ and buyers’ quarrel.
– When such people quarrel amongst themselves, we get information that we should not otherwise obtain. It is becaiise of such a quarrel that I have been able to secure some information.
I am in favour of the pooling system, but it should cut out the middleman altogether. In fairness to the Wheat Board, I desire to say that this was quite a new experiment; that the responsibility imposed upon the Board was great, and the task allotted to it a very big one. The Central Wheat Board would have made fewer blunders but for the interference of the Prime Minister. My charge is directed not so much against the Wheat Board as against the Prime Minister and his interference. As an illustration of the way in which he interfered with the Board, I remind the House that when he was in London, in July, 1919, he sold 1,000,000 tons of wheat at 5s. 6d. per bushel, and gave an option over an additional 500,000 tons at the same price, although he had authority from the Australian Wheat Board to sell only 500,000 tons. One would go a long way to find an example of such a short-sighted policy as is afforded by the action of the Prime Minister in giving the British Government this option over 500,000 tons of wheat. It was a good thing for the British Government, and, indeed, would have been a good thing for any Government to secure such an option. If the price went up, the British Government could exercise the option, and if the price want down they would, of course, refuse it.
The option was at os. 6d. per bushel, and, if we may judge by the American quotations, about a fortnight later, the price of wheat Tose to the extent ‘ of something like a further 3s. a bushel. Apart altogether from the fact that the Prime Minister and the representatives of the Wheat Board in London were not as far-seeing as were British statesmen, it was a bad thing at -such a time for any one to give am option over any portion of the produce of the wheat-growers of this country. One of the worst features of this action on the part of the Prime Minister was that when Australia was depleted to a large extent by reason of the sale made by him - a sale on which we lost about 3s. a bushel - an order came to hand from the Egyptian Government for 90,000 tons, at 10s. a bushel, and we were unable to supply it. Owing to the Prime Minister’s short-sighted policy, wheat was sold in London at something like 5s. per bushel less than the price at which we could have sold’ it to the Egyptian Government. [Extension of time granted.] I do not altogether saddle the Wheat Board with that mistake, except to the extent that they should have warned the Prime Minister off their premises. It would have done a great deal better had it been permitted to transact its own business in its own way. Prom the inception of its operations, however, it was constantly interfered with by the Prime Minister, although, as shown by the transaction to which I have just referred, the right . honorable gentleman knew very little about the subject.
Among the other matters to- which I desire to refer is the bungling that has taken place in regard to freights. Some time ago a statement was published that, although freights had fallen to 50s. per ton, the Wheat Board had booked ahead freights running as high as 151s. 6d. per ton. That statement for a considerable time was deuied. On the 21st February last the Eonorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) asked in this House whether there was any truth in the statement published in a Sydney newspaper that about the end of last year the Wheat Board had entered into a contract for approximately 1,000,000 tons of freight at 350s. per ton. He inquired, further, whether, if that statement were not correct, any large freight contract had been entered into, and, if so, at what rate per ton. The Prime Minister replied -
The Australian Wheat Board does not consider it advisable to make publication of its freighting arrangements.
– And quite right, too.
– The answer did not disclose whether or not such an arrangement had been made. Later on, the same question was pub to the Acting Prime Minister, who was more candid, and furnished information which the Prime Minister himself ought to have supplied at the outset.
– But it does not really matter now.
– At all events, the Acting Prime Minister supplied a reply on 20th April last.
– After sufficient freight had been got.
– Yes. The Acting Prime Minister said, “ As to certain shipments, those figures are approximately correct.” If the honorable member for Dampier was right, as this belated answer shows he was, then it is obvious that we paid by way of freight £5 per ton in excess of the current rates.
– There was pressure to secure freight, and there was a collapse of freights, as in everything else.
– I suppose it will be admitted by the Minister (Mr. Rodgers) that it was only reasonable to suppose that there was going to be some reduction in freight, because it would not require a far-seeing statesman to realize that the tendency was downwards.
– There were sales effected of wheat as against high freight, and it was necessary to secure freight in order to make sales.
– The Minister will not say that it was necessary to do that to such a large extent, involving a loss to the wheat-grower of Australia of. £5 per ton on 1,000,000 tons, or £5,000,000. I do not say it was not necessary to take some steps under the circumstances, but as the tendency of freights was downwards, the action taken was about as short-sighted as that of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) in giving to the British Government the option over sales to which I previously referred.
– Is this anti-Pool propaganda ?
– If the honorable member who interjects was not absent so much from the chamber he would know that what I am. contending for is that the primary producers of Australia, have suffered from bungling and mismanagement, and that some inquiry should be held.. A Royal Commission was appointed in New South Wales.
– And much good it did !
-Well, that Royal Commission revealed so much that the present State Government, although not in power at that time, and, therefore, not responsible, now propose to make restitution in the shape of a grant of £600,000 to the wheat-growers on account of the wrongs inflicted on them by reason of mismanagement,. Whether the charges to which I have referred can be substantiated or not can only be ascertained by the appointment of an independent tribunal; and then, if the wheatgrowers have suffered in the way I state, they may be recouped in some way.
– The producers are getting 9s. per bushel now 1
– As I said , before. it does not matter for the purpose of my contention if they were getting *twice” 9s. per bushel ; that is not the point. If money that should have gone to the wheat-growers has gone into improper channels, some action should be taken.
– The freight was bought by the Board on the advice of its own experts.
– Did the honorable gentleman say “ experts “ ? Experts at what?
As to the interjection of the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart), I may say that I am in favour of the Pool principle, and I think that a great mistake is being made by the Victorian Government and the Commonwealth Government in not encouraging its continuance.
– Ls that the policy of the honorable member’s party ?
– It is the policy of the party on this side, and also, it is alleged to be, the policy of the National Federation, of which the Acting Prime Minister (Sir Joseph Cook) is a member; indeed, it is regrettable to see the honorable gentleman repudiating the policy of that body. The application of the best principle in the world can be spoiled by bad. management; but it is not so much against mismanagement by the Wheat Board that I am protesting as against the bungling displayed in the action taken by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes). Of course, I do not exonerate the Wheat Board from their share in the responsibility, but I regard the Prime Minister as the more largely responsible, for he interfered when the Wheat Board should have warned him off the premises. The Pool system, when properly administered, can be most effective for good. The latest Pool in New South Wales shows a’ great improvement on previous efforts. This Pool has handled and stevedored all their own stuff at Darling Island. Outside agents had previously done all the work under the Holman Government, and naturally did not like to give it up. When the present Government took a hand, they asked the agents what they would do the work for, and they offered to do it for d. a bushel. This the Government refused to pay, and the agents reduced their offer to £d. The present State Government have been true to their policy of eliminating the middleman as far as possible.
– It is only fair to say that the Mark Lane Stevedoring Company was doing the work for ls. 6d., whereas the State Government is charging 2s. 6d.
– The honorable member would do well to read the official statement by the Board inself A statement has been, published by the Board, and the cost works out at onefifth of Id. to the growers of New South Wales, to whom a sum of £125,000 has been thus saved. That is an official statement published by the Board, and shows the result of the elimination of the middleman. The traffic manager of the New South Wales railways, who, of course, cannot be regarded as in any way a party man, says that the work has never been done so smoothly as since the elimination of the middlemen, though he does not refer to the agents by that term. The traffic manager points out. that the demurrage that previously had to be paid to the railways amounted to close on £14,000, whereas, with the handling done by the Board itself, it is under £200. This shows not only greater expedition in handling, but a substantial saving to the growers; and, after all, it is savings of this kind that count.
One of my objections is to the secrecy that has been observed, and a secrecy of which we had a further example yesterday, in reference to the sale of inferior wheat and flour to South Africa. All this shows how difficult it is for honorable members to get any information. That sale has undoubtedly damaged Australian trade. Several months ago we tried to get information regarding this transaction. The honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. Riley) and others put questions to the Prime Minister, who admitted that the matter was serious, and said that he would try to ‘ ascertain the facts before he left for England. On the day before his departure he was still unable to supply any information, but said that the Acting Prime Minister would supply it in his absence. -I do not blame the Acting Prime Minister, because I take it that the Board would not supply .him with the facts; and whoever is responsible ought to be brought to book. I cannot understand why satisfactory answers are not given .to the questions that have been asked, or why the Government are so sensitive when any suggestion of mismanagement is made. I know pretty well what the reason is, but it is not ‘my place to give it.
– It is your place, if you have the information.
– I believe that the offer of this inferior wheat was first of all made to Japan, but J apan would not accept it, and that then the offer was transferred to South Africa. It cannot be supposed that the Wheat Board does not know the facts, and it ought to be the duty of the Government to probe the whole business to the bottom.
– The Wheat Board had nothing to do with those sales in any shape or form.
– Surely the honorable member does not wish us to believe that the Wheat Board had not to give authority for the shipment of the wheat? However, a discussion of this kind ought to do some good in the way of clearing matters up; and I have had many requests from wheat-growers in my electorate for some kind of inquiry. I am not wedded to any particular kind of inquiry, but an effective inquiry should be held. Statements of a most damaging character have been made as to the management of the Wheat Pools, and as one who believes in the Pool principle, I feel it my duty to take up my present attitude. The Wheat Pool system ought to be defended against wrong-doing of any kind, and the blame, if any, sheeted home to those responsible. I do not think I am asking too much from the Government in suggesting a Royal Commission, because every one will agree that the principle of pooling and the wheat-growers’ interests should not be allowed to suffer because some i people may have blundered.
– The honorable member (Mr. Parker Moloney) .has done what, he and men like him are so fond of doing, tried to sow suspicion, and there leave it.. If the honorable member knows of any wrong-doing in connexion with the Wheat Pools, he should be man enough to make statements in this House definitely and firmly, so that they may be inquired into. If the honorable member, however, desires a fishing inquiry, he cannot get one, so far as I am concerned. I know nothing about this Wheat Board; I have never been at its meetings. I believe, however, that it is being conducted to-day by men who are both competent and honest, and with the greatest possible efficiency and success. That is my impression of the Wheat Board ; at any rate, everything that could be done to press into the service of the Board, and the selling of the farmers’ wheat, the requisite efficiency, competency, disinterestedness, and ability, has been done. If the honorable member has anything to impugn in connexion with the Board, he ought to im pugn it in proper language. He ought not to suggest this, that, and the other, for that is not fair to those concerned.
– I do not know how much the Acting Prime Minister heard of what I said.
– I have heard all that the honorable member said.
– Amongst other things I said that when I pointed out that the charge was one and thirteen thirty-seconds of a penny, the Prime Minister said that it did not exceed a halfpenny; is that not a definite, charge?
– A charge of what?
– Of overpayments for commission. The Acting Prime Minister cannot camouflage me like that !
– I have no desire to camouflage the honorable member in any way. If the honorable member thinks there is anything wrong about the Sanday contract, he ought to show what is wrong.
– I say there was excessive commission paid.
– Luckily a member of this Chamber is also a member of the Wheat Board, and I invite him to make a statement. If there is anything wrong, it is for that honorable member to defend the Board and himself from any charges. 1
– The Acting Prime Minister admits that he knows nothing about the matter.
– Order! The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney) has already spoken.
– I know this much: I know the firm mentioned, Messrs. Sheppard, Harvey, and Company. I know Mr. Sheppard. He is far above any of the honorable member’s suspicions and . innuendoes.
– Why and how did he come into this sale ?
– I do not know that he has done so.
– He has said so himself, in the press.
– The honorable member is referring to a statement which he made to the newspapers in Sydney. But the honorable member, apparently, has read only one portion. At any rate, he has conveniently forgotten the remainder. If he remembers the whole of it, and desires to be fair, he will tell the House what is in that statement. He will state that it is to the effect that this sale took place without hi3 knowledge and without the knowledge of Mr. Earl; also, that <the transaction occurred while Mr. Earl was on the water.
– Mr. Sheppard did not say that.
– He. did. Has the honorable member a copy of the press report before him?
– It says-
– Will the honorable member let me read it?
– I shall use it in my own way, and at my own time.
– I hope the honorable member will put it on record if he has the statement in his possession. He knows that it is to the effect that the transaction took place in London without the knowledge either of Mr. Earl or of Mr. Sheppard.
– Did he say that he was not going to handle any of the commission t
– The honorable member is trying to cast mud in the most uncourageous of all ways, against a man whose honour is unsullied and whose, character is unimpeachable.
– I rise to order. I object to the statement of the Acting Prime Minister (Sir Joseph Cook). ‘ His remarks are scarcely parliamentary, and they are certainly offensive to myself. Of course, his opinion of me is nothing to my opinion of him.
– Will the honorable member please resume his seat ? He has stated no point of order.
– I withdraw any personal application which might be made in respect of my remarks ; I did not mean them in that way. The honorable member knows what I am referring to. I am alluding, rather, to the propaganda which has been going on practically all over Australia. It partakes of this character: Mr. Earl has done something wrong ; the agents of Mr. Earl in Australia are related to the Acting Prime Minister. This poison is being spread all over Australia. I read stuff of the kind only this morning in a Western Australian Labour journal, headed “.Grave Wheat Scandal.” That is what I am referring to.
– Why should the Government refuse an inquiry in order to clear up these things ?
– I again invite the honorable member to make some definite statement of wrong-doing, and an inquiry can be’ authorized to-morrow.
– When we make a statement the Minister only becomes insulting.
– So far as I know, there has been no wrong-doing. The honorable member for Echuca (Mr. Hill), who knows particulars concerning the Australian Wheat Board as I do not know them, will be able to. speak concerning those transactions which have come under comment. I know only one man; and he is Mr. Sheppard. I am related to him, in this way : a son of mine is married to a daughter of his, and the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney) may make all he likes out of that. All I have to say of Mr. Sheppard - and he is getting to be an old man now - is that in the course of a long life this is the first time his name has been used as it is being used to-day. If the honorable member will make any allegation concerning something which requires investigation - something which is not above-board, straightforward, or honesthe can have his inquiry to-morrow morning. But an inquiry of the kind he desires, he cannot get at my hands.
.- The subjectmatter of the motion is among the most important which honorable members could be asked to discuss. I refer not so much to the proposal for an inquiry into the transactions of the Australian Wheat Board as to the subject of the continuation of the Pools. I understand that the honorable member for
Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney) nas taken action this afternoon for the specific purpose of endeavouring to secure the appointment of a Commission of inquiry. As a member of the Australian Wheat Board for the past two or three years, I desire to say that I, personally, do not offer any objection to such a procedure. I have nothing to hide; and, based on my experience of my colleagues throughout the period of my association with them on the Board, I am prepared to say that neither has any other member anything to hide. Apart from that altogether, however, it would be most injudicious at present to institute an inquiry, for the reason that the Board is making an earnest endeavour to have the earlier Pools wound up as soon as possible. To go into the whole of the transactions of the Board, covering a period of six years, would occupy from six to twelve months; and there are few men in Australia who are capable of conducting such an inquiry. The Board’s transactions have been so intricate that very few men are qualified to sit in judgment upon those activities. Personally, I repeat that I shall not oppose any inquiry ; but I would like to give honorable members some information, even though the greater part of it, perhaps, has been already made available to them.
I do not wonder at the ignorance ‘ displayed by the public generally, and, more particularly, by the farmers, concerning the operations of the Wheat Board, for the reason that the press at present is not giving us a fair ‘ deal. I desire to draw attention to a manifesto which appeared in the Argus of 13th June. I understand that it was published also in the Age. This manifesto was issued by the “Victorian Partners-‘ Committee.” At least, that is the name which its sponsors gave themselves. It is headed, “Farmers and Wheat Pools: Demand for Freedom: Compulsion Opposed.” The manifesto, according to theArgus, is addressed to “ Victorian wheatgrowers “ by Mr. G-. C. Berrett, secretary of the “ Victorian Farmers’ Committee.” I understand that that gentleman is, or was, the agent for Messrs. Louis Dreyfus and Company at Quambatook, and I am given to understand, further, that the other two members who then formed the “Victorian Farmers’ Committee” were the manager and sub-manager respectively of a foreign wheat firm.
– Who elected these people?
– They elected themselves; and it was they who issued the manifesto. Since the honorable member for Hume has quoted from it - or, rather, has mentioned several matters alluded to therein - I propose to deal with one or two of the points. The manifesto states -
With the object of enabling these farmers to get together and express their views, the Victorian Farmers’ Committee has been formed.
I cannot understand two reputable journals, such as the Argus and the Age, having consented to permit publication through their columns of a matter of this kind. Through the medium, of those newspapers the manifesto has gone out to practically every farmer in the State. Whether it was designed deliberately to hoodwink the farmers, I am not prepared to say; but it has had that effect. It would appear that the farmers of this country are not to be considered as such, but are to be treated as children.
– Why not read your own journal, devoted to farmers’ interests?
– I would get the truth there.
– Hear, hear!
– In future, I shall place little reliance on anything that may be published in those two great metropolitan dailies in view of my knowledge of the fact that their proprietors must have been aware that this organization was not a bond fide farmers’ committee. Taking one of the statements published therein, it is said that the Australian Wheat Board was actually paying 150s. per ton for freight. It specifically states -
Vessels (chartered last November) at 150s. per ton, were loading last month alongside of vessels whose charges were 50s. per ton.
The Board in October of last year recognised that Australia was going to have a bountiful harvest, and that there would probably be 2,700,000 tons available for export. As business men, the members of the Board immediately set about chartering the necessary vessels in order to have a sufficient, number placed in position in various Australian ports in the months of January, February, and March of this year. At that time it was costing ships 50s. per ton to come here in ballast. The sum of £8 per ton was being paid on coal from Newcastle, New South Wales, to the “United Kingdom and channel ports. If the freight on coal transported to the other side of the world was £8, it is only natural to suppose that boats coming out here from the other side would bunker there. Thus, it will be seen why it cost 50s. per ton to get the vessels to Australia in ballast. For every dear ton of chartering that was arranged - and I am bound to say that £7 10s. per ton does amount to a very high freight - the Board endeavoured to secure an adequate return. As the Board chartered its boats it also covered them by sales ; and, for every dear ton of freight chartered, there was returned to the Australian farmer 10s. per bushel net, f.o.b. As to the statement that the Board was loading boats side by side at 150s. and 50s. per ton, I emphasize that in respect of the higher rate of chartering there was returned to the Australian growers 10s. net f.o.b. ; while, as for the 50s. per ton charter, there was being returned only 7s. 3d. per bushel net, f.o.b. What would have been the position ‘ of the Board had we made those sales without effecting our charters ? We would have found, as we actually did in one instance in the early part of the year, that the freights would have gone against us. But, as we chartered at the higher rates for freight, we immediately made the sales.
The honorable member for Hume is probably justified in saying that a certain amount of secrecy has been observed. But I am satisfied that had he been a member of the Board he would have found himself in exactly the same position as I did. He would have recognised that in a business organization, such as is the Board, it is absolutely essential to keep one’s business to oneself . If we were in the habit of giving it away to competitors, I need scarcely add that the average price returned would have been very much less than it has been. “Various questions have been asked in this chamber. -I am absolutely certain that they -could not have been formulated by the men who asked them, and were asked only for the purpose of discrediting the
Board and’ eliciting information that would be of value to our competitors..
– All were of importance to the wheat-growers.
– Yes; but secrecy had to be observed. The farmers of Australia have four representatives on the Wheat Board, one for each wheat-growing State> an-d they must have confidence in those representatives. I tell the growers in Victoria . that when they no longer have confidence in me they must remove i>me from the Board. I earnestly and honestly do everything I can in their interests. If they are not satisfied with my work and my silence in regard to certain transactions, they can very easily get rid of me. During the last . three -weeks I have addressed twenty-one meetings on the subject of Pool continuance, and I have explained very much of the secrecy that is supposed to have been observed in connexion with the Board’s transactions. In every case the meetings indorsed the views I put forward. I may add that over a large area of the Victorian “wheat belt I have met only five opponents “to the continuance of the wheat-pooling scheme.
– The honorable member referred to “ our competitors.” I under-; stand the Australian Wheat Board disposes of all Australian wheat. Who, then, are the Board’s competitors ?
– There are certain foreign wheat firms who are not allowed to handle Australian wheat, ibecause it is not considered in the best interests of the growers for them to do so ; and because . they have been kept off the Board, ‘and prevented from handling our wheat, they naturally feel somewhat aggrieved. It is reasonable to suppose that these gentlemen would decide . to get as much inside information as possible, because it would be of great value to them. I could have told any of the farmers I met of most of the transactions of the Board if I knew that they would keep it to themselves ; but no member of the Board except the chairman (Senator Russell) was permitted to make a public statement regarding the Board’s dealings, and most members of the Board ‘have honorably observed that condition. As a matter of fact, no harm would have been done to the farmers if they had been allowed to know these things; but the information would have been of great advantage to those firms who would have acted in opposition to the Wheat Board, because it would have been to their interest to discredit the Pools and bring about a reversion to the conditions that obtained before the war. Those firms have been shut out of the control of our wheat, and if I had my way they would never be re-admitted. I sincerely hope that the Pools will be continued for a definite period of three years, and after that the farmers can decide whether they wish a further continuance for a definite or indefinite period. I am so satisfied with the benefits, that have accrued from the pooling system, that “I believe its continuance to be in the interests of not only the growers,- but every man, woman, and child in the Commonwealth. What would have happened this year had we -been forced to place 131,000,000 bushels pf wheat on the market through private enterprise during a period of eight or ten weeks in the early part of 1921? Some “of the private firms say they could have financed the crop. The representative of one firm told the Victorian Minister for Agriculture the other day that his principals had financed the Argentine crop to the amount of £’2,000,000 ; and another gentleman undertook in behalf of Sanday and Co., to place to the credit of that firm in Australia £4,000,000 sterling. Even allowing that that could have been done, the amount required to finance 131,000,000- bushels. at 7s. 6d. per bushel, would have been £49,125,000 net. The price of 7s. 6d. per bushel is the least that the farmers will get; they will probably get a little more. In addition to’ that £49,000,000, there would have been the f .o.b. expenses, including railway freights, Pool administration, handling charges, interest, and bo on, which would have amounted to another £5,500,000. A total of £54,625,000 would have been required to finance the crop during the months of January, February, and the early part of March. Would it have been possible for any firm or combination of firms to raise that large sum of money? I acknowledge, on behalf of the farmers of Victoria and of all Australia, the gratitude we owe to tha Commonwealth
Government for the help they gave usthroughout the pooling scheme, and particularly last year. Between £15,000,000 and £16,000,000 was required to pay the first 2s. 6d. per bushel, ana the Commonwealth Bank and the Associated Banks, with the Commonwealth Government behind them as guarantor, had as much as they could do to raise that amount. In addition, there was another £16,000,000 for the second’ payment, and next month we propose to pay a further £8,000,000, making a” total of over £40,000,000. I sincerely believe that had we handed over’ the farmers to the mercy of private firms, as the Victorian Minister for Agriculture proposes we should do for the coming harvest, we should not have received more than half the amount which we are now to receive. [Extension of time granted.]
– Can you” tell us why any commission should have been paid to Sanday and Company, or any other firm of brokers, for sales of wheat to the French Government?
– I am coming to that.
– The extension of time granted to the honorable member may mean a continuance of his speech till 4.30, when the debate will be automatically interrupted under standing order 119. As other honorable members, particularly the honorable . member for Gwydir (Mr. Cunningham), desire to speak, I suggest that a short extension of the debate be allowed.
– The first large sale of wheat was made to the French Government. The quantity was. 200,000 tons, and the rate of commission was jj per cent, c.i.f., out of which a sum of £5,000 was returned by the agents for the purpose of financing the -Australian Wheat Board. Later a further quantity of 500,000 tons was sold to the French Government, the commission being per cent, f .o.b. After that another parcel of 3,000,000 tons was sold to the British Government at a commission of –fa per cent, f.o.b., and another parcel of 1,500,000 tons at 5s. per cent, f.o.b. In connexion with the present harvest, our London selling agents have transacted practically the whole of the sales, and ha>ve done extraordinarily good work. Some little time ago inquiries were made by brokers in Europe in regard to 300,000 tone of wheat which the French’ Government required. That business was brought to our London selling agents by the- firm of Sanday and Company; the sale was effected through them, and, if my memory serves me correctly, it returned to us 112s. 6d. per quarter c.i.f., which would work out at about 14s.0¾d. c.i.f. From that freight and insurance would have to be deducted. It is’ probable that that sale gave us a net return of approximately 10s. per bushel f.o.b. We would have welcomed from : Sanday and Company, or any other firm of brokers, business which would- result as satisfactorily to the Wheat Board as that
– Was nol* the principle adopted that only the Board should sell wheat?
– -We are only allowing for the present Pool a commission of 13-32 of 1 per cent., which represents about Ad. per bushel f.o.b.
– Have Sanday and Company themselves, or through their agents, made any purchases from the Wheat Board?
– Not to my knowledge. I should like to. . explain that the reason why this transaction has been given so much publicity is that Sanday and Company were employed as brokers between the London selling agents and the French Government., I think I am right inlaying that, had the firm of Louis Dreyfus and Company, who are French agents,’ been employed in connexion with this sale, we would have heard nothing about it or the commission of 1 per cent. I also believe, but my statement is subject to correction, that one of the principals of Louis Dreyfus and Company js a member of the French Parliament, and in that Legislature he made a tremendous noise because Sanday . and Company -were employed instead of his firm.. That is the pith of the whole complaint. Louis Dreyfus and Company were not wilfully ignored, but the business was introduced to our London agents by another firm.
– lt is- a reflection on the Board to sav that we would never have heard anything about the transaction but for the complaint ofsome outside firm.
– It is no reflection on the Board, because we would have been pleased to ‘do through any firm business that would return to the farmers 10s. per bushel net. . . ^
– But should we not hear about these transactions ?
– You would have heard about them ; all the. accounts are audited.
– The ‘ honorable member for Hume (Mr.’ Parker -Moloney) has said that the farmers are dissatisfied because the earlier Pools have not been wound up. There . are. difficulties almost insurmountable in connexion with that matter, and I shall briefly refer to some of them. In connexion with the first two sales, that of 500,000 bushels to the French Government and the later one of 3,000,000 bushels to the British Government, there was a clause in the agreement which provided that. 50 per cent, of the profits on any diverted cargoes should be returned to the Australian Wheat Board. A number of the cargoes were diverted to Egypt, America, Greece, India, Roumania, Servia, and other places, and it was only by continually dunning the British Wheat Commission that towards the end of last year” we received a statement regarding the diversion of these cargoes and cash- to . the amount of £400,000 as our share of the profits. The honorable member for Hume has spoken of Servian and Roumanian bonds. I want the growers to understand that if these bonds are never realized- upon they will lose nothing, because the Australian Wheat Board has; already been paid 4s. per bushel for 500,000’. tons and 4s. 9d. per bushel, for -3)000,000 tons, and the only thing still ‘ to be accounted for is the profit upon the diverted. . cargoes, for which payment was made in Roumanian bonds to the value of £100,000 - and Servian bonds to the value of £10,400. We do not know whether -these bonds are worth the paper they are written on, but the Prime Minister. (Mr. Hughes) promised that upon his arrival in Great Britain he would i ascertain what could be done with them, an,d what their value was. In any case, we would not- have been losers in regard to these diversions. If the British Government had not informed us that they had diverted cargoes to Roumania and other countries, we would not have been any the wiser. The vessels taking this particular wheat away left Australia during the stress of war, and were diverted to these countries by their order, and we have already been paid £400,000 profit upon the cargoes. We think a ‘little more is due to1 us, but we do not propose to hold up the finalizingo f the earlier Pools until _,- these bonds are realized upon,
– Do the bonds apply only to the 1915-16 Pool?
– They apply to the 1915-16 and 1916-17 Pools. The profits on these diverted cargoes will be allocated as between those two Pools when later they are realized upon.
There were quite a number of other difficulties in connexion with, the winding up of these earlier Pools. For instance, the South Australian Wheat Board stacked 1,500,000 bushels of wheat at Spalding, 15 or 16 miles back from the main railway line, in the hope that a bran,ch line would be constructed within twelve months. The route was surveyed, but owing te a strike and other difficulties that line has only recently been completed. Meanwhile, the Wheat Board took steps to have the wheat removed by bullock and horse teams., but after 1,000,000 bushels had been taken away in this manner the roads became so cut up that it was impossible to remove the balance.. The branch line is completed, and the remaining 500,000 bushels can be readily sold, but no doubt the Wheat Board will make arrangements to transfer that quantity to one of the other Pools, with a view to having the earlier Pools finalized. South Australia, owing to its geographical position, also suffered during the war because, together with Victoria, it was obliged to hold up large quantities of wheat, ‘ while New South Wales and Western Australia were able’ to get their, stocks away. In that stressful period vessels had only time to come to the nearest Australian port and load their* . cargoes so . that they could get away as quickly as possible.- As a result, Victoria and South Australia had to hold their stocks of ‘ wheat a great deal longer, and had large accumulations on hand at the time of the armistice. In fact, it is only quite recently that we could clean up the 1916-17 wheat of those States. When the armistice was signed vessels were sent out by the British Government to lift their large purchase, but they came here at so fast a rate that it was impossible for them to be furnished with cargoes from the 1916-17 or earlier
Pools, and. we were obliged to load them from the 1917-18, 1918-19, 1919-20 Pools. At this time the 1916-17. wheat was being reconditioned, ‘and, consequently,- was practically the last to be cleaned up.
I think I ,. have answered to the satisfaction of the honorable member for Hume all the points he has. raised. I hope that this discussion may be the; means whereby we can bring this matter under the attention of honorable members and the public generally) and I sincerely trust that, if we do not get a threeyears’ Pool on behalf of the growers, the House will use its best influence to see thatj at least, we have one more Governmentcontrolled Pool, because, by the time it is concluded, the farmers,’ who are’ now giving a 90 per cent., majority in favour of continuance, will, as a result -of . their experience, be found to be more deter? mined than ever to see an extension of the pooling system. I could say very much more upon this question.. If there is arcy point I have not cleared up I shall be only too happy to do so. The Australian Wheat Board would welcoiue an inquiry, but I am certain it would not pay for it. In any case, the farmers of Victoria are absolutely ‘satisfied with the way in which the Wheat Pool has been managed in Victoria. I am- aware -that dissatisfaction has been expressed in New South Wales, and that there has- been -an inquiry there, but none i# required in Victoria.
– Ask for an extension of time; there are other honorable members who wish to speak, and the time allowed for the debate will expire in a few minutes.
-I am prepared to do so. I would like to see an extension of time granted to enable honorable members to speak- on thi3 subject.
– But honorable members have not been discussing the general question.
– Can the honorable member state why the farmers of New South Wales have not been paid the 2s. 6d. per bushel promised to them?
– Apparently, the State Government has not been able to raise sufficient money to fulfil its promise* but, after the 7th of next month, when the farmers will have received 6s. 3d. per bushel, it will only be obliged to find an additional ls. 3d. per bushel.
– Under standing order 119 the time for the discussion of this motion has expired.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
If so, of what nature? “Mr. GREENE. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Briefly, the position is as follows: - At the Imperial “War Conference held in London in 1918 a resolution respecting the development of the British dye industry was passed “ in the following terms : -
The Conference takes note of the action taken and contemplated by His Majesty’s Government with a view to freeing the industry of the United Kingdom from the dependence of German dyestuffs, and recommends the Governments of the Empire to consider immediately steps to be taken to co-operate with the efforts of the Imperial Government, and to free their own industries.
During the proceedings it was intimated by Sir Arthur Stanley, representing the Imperial Board of Trade, that it was proposed to prohibit the importation into the United Kingdom, for a period of ten years, of all foreign dyes of kinds producible within the Empire. In communicating the resolution adopted by the Imperial Conference, the Secretary of State for the Colonies, in his despatch of 31st October, 1918, to the Governor-General, intimated that -
His Majesty’s Government would be glad if your Ministers would consider, in the light of the resolution, what action can be taken to co operate in order to promote the successful development of the dye industry in the British Empire, and would in due course notify thora of any steps -which it is proposed to take in the matter.
The Cabinet decided to co-operate in the matter, and a proclamation was accordingly issued on 26th February, 1919, prohibiting the importation of dyes other than of British origin unless with the consent pf the Minister for Trade . and Customs. Capital has been made of the fact that dyes of German origin have been permitted entry into Australia. The reason, for this is that, in terms of- the Peace Treaty, a quantity of dyes, not exceeding 50 per cent, of the total stock of each and every dyest’uff in Germany or under German control at- the date of the coming into force of the treaty, was acquired for the use of Great Britain and her Allies; of that quantity, a proportion, representing approximately £40,000 in value, was sent to Australia to be distributed to users, all of whom, on 8th January, 1920, by public pronouncement in the press, had been given an opportunity to state their requirements. With the foregoing exception no dyes that .owe more than 5 per cent, of their value to material or labour of ex-enemy countries have been knowingly admitted. An arrangement has been made under- which the High Commissioner issues permits for the exportation to Australia of any foreign dyes (other than those consisting of more than 5 per cent, ex-enemy origin), for- which import licences into the United Kingdom are granted by the Imperial Board of Trade for home use in the United Kingdom. This course was adopted with the object of placing Australian manufacturers on an equal footing with their competitors in the United Kingdom. In by f.ar the greater number of instances, British substitutes for foreign dyes are now obtainable from the United Kingdom. This achievement is of enormous national importance. As to American dyes, permission to import these will be given in instances where conclusive evidence is produced that similar dyes of British manufacture are not available. In conclusion, it may be stated that arrangements have been completed to’ form Dye Committees in Sydney and Melbourne to deal with applications to import foreign dyes, and it is expected that the first meeting of the respective committees will be held at an early date.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– Inquiry is being made, and the information will be furnished as soon as possible.
asked the Acting AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
Whether the Government will delay the appointment of a law reporting staff, temporary or permanent, until such time as the Parlia- ment may have an opportunity of discussing on the Estimates the: necessity or advisability of creating such a staff?
– During the present financial year the Commonwealth has expended, in connexion with the reporting of evidence before arbitration tribunals or Royal Commissions, the sum of £6,670. In addition, the amount unpaid on 30th June, 1921, is estimated to be £1,170, making the total estimated expenditure for this year £7,840. In view of the fact that provision for the appointment of a reporting staff has been on the Estimates, and has been passed by this House, in each of the last four years, and that it is estimated that a saving of several thousands of pounds.^per annum will be effected by the establishment of a staff, the Government cannot, in view of the urgent need for economy, postpone this matter any longer.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Whether it is a fact, as stated^ by Mr. Fihelly, Treasurer in the State of Queensland, that the Queensland Taxation Department has submitted to the Commonwealth authorities a suggested form for taxation returns whichwould avoid duplication?
– The form referred to was received by the Commonwealth Commissioner of Taxation as a member of a Board of Inquiry consisting of the- Honorable James Ashton, New South Wales (Chairman) ; the Commonwealth Commissioner of Taxation, and the Commissioner of Taxation of the State of Victoria, which was appointed in September, 1920, pursuant to a resolution passed by the Premiers’ Conference last year. Amongst other matters submitted to the Board for inquiry was the best means of giving effect to the principle of one form of taxation return, and the report, which was presented to Parliament on 6th April, 1921, contained the following: - “ On the question of one form of return, the Board came to the conclusion that, while the State taxation machinery laws remain in their present respective forms, and while existing conditions of administration continue, no practical advantage would accrue to taxpayers by the use of a combined form of return.
The State Commissioner of Taxes for Victoria pointed out that, if -the Amending Income Tax Bill, introduced to the Victorian -Parliament last session, be re-introduced in July next, as the Government has agreed to do, and the Bill becomes law, the forms issued by the. Commonwealth and the State of Victoria to Victorian taxpayers would be practically identical.
It was considered that all State Taxation Departments should follow the course recently decided upon by the Commonwealth and the Victorian Taxation Departments, viz., to issue a single sheet form of return for use by the taxpayers who derive, the whole, or practically the whole, of their income from salaries or wages. These forms of return would meet the requirements of 75 per cent, of the taxpayers.”
I might add . that the Commonwealth taxation authorities are, this year, issuing a single, sheet form of return for use by taxpayers, as recommended in the last paragraph of the report of the Board of Inquiry.
The following papers were presented : -
Defence Act. - Regulations Amended. - Statutory Rules 1921, Nos. 115, 116, and 117.
War Service Homes- Act.-Land acquired under, in New South Wales, at^-Lismore; Young.
Consideration resumed from 29th June (vide page 9522). division xiv.– vehicles.
. -Before we reported progress yesterday I intimated to the Minister (Mr. Greene) that ^-proposed to move an amendment of this item. The honorable gentleman will remember that some time ago a deputation waited upon him and requested a reduction of the duty on chassis. It was pointed out by that deputation that chassis are really the raw material of the motor-body builders of Australia, and that the only effect of an increased duty would be to make motor cars dearer; and thus to some extent to reduce the demand for -them. Figures were quoted by those interested in the industry showing that a. large number of their employees were out of work because of the reduced demand, which they suggested was due partly to the fact that the duty on chassis greatly increased the cost of cars.. I propose to ask, the Minister to agree to an amendment which I shall “put in three sections. Sub-item d(4) provides that chassis unassembled shall be dutiable, ad-. valdrem, at British, 7½ per cent. ; intermediate, 12½ per cent. ; and general, 17½ per cent. I propose to move that the duties be as follows: - British, free; intermediate, 5 per cent.; general,7½ per cent., and that the duties in respect-of chassis, assembled, shall be - British, free; intermediate, 7½ per cent.; and general, 10 per cent., instead of the existing duties of 10 per cent., 15 per cent., and 20 per cent. I propose further to move for the insertion of words provid- ing that “Chassis” shall include all parts, fitments, and .instruments which the manufacturer incorporates in his desigh, and inclusive of various instruments which are necessary in that particular design to guarantee proper functioning of the complete car.. At the present time there are different rates , of duties affecting different portions of the chassis. I do not propose to occupy the time, of the Committee in advancing arguments why. this amendment should be made’ until I hear what the Minister has to say on the subject, since I hope that he may have been convinced of the reasonableness of the request that has- been made to him. The maufacturers contend that the horn, speedometer, jack, pump, spare wheel or rim, and tools as per list should be treated as portion of the chassis. At the present time they are separated from the chassis, and are subject to differing rates, the duty in some cases running up to 55 per cent. The manufacturers contend that this does not benefit the Department.
– The manufacturers or the importers ?
– The importers . of the chassis are the manufacturers of motor cars in Australia, and it is to them I refer. They contend that while the increased duties, in respect of the tools I have mentioned do not benefit the Department to any extent, they occasion considerable inconvenience and trouble to those who have to furnish - a list of the costs’, in the country of origin, of these varying accessories which the manufacturers furnish as part of the complete chassis. I ask the Minister to accept this modification, and I shall be prepared later on, if necessary, to .urge further reasons why some reduction of the duty should be made.
– Although practically every other country has entered upon the manufacture of motor cars, Australia, has not yet ventured to do so. . If the Parliament had had the courage in . 1908 to impose a substantial duty on motor cars, we should have been able, within a. few years, to manufacture sufficient to meet, all our requirements. I have to plead guilty, with others, to failure to take such action on that occasion. The coachbuilding section of the .community at the time placed their views before me, and showed that if we- imposed duties. <m chassis, we should do away altogether with their trade,., in- so far as the making «f motor - bodies was concerned-. I believe, however,’ that we should -have done well had we imposed a heavy duty on chassis, because,- in that event, we. should have been manufacturing motor cars here today. I do not agree with those who say that motor cars are a luxury ‘.’ They are a necessity to a large section of the community, and should not ‘be taxed as a luxury. I have often seen in the- press paragraphs charging the Government with want of economy because- they employ motor cars’ in connexion with the work of the Department, but I hold that no uptodate’ business can afford to be without a car. A motor car is as essential to an up-to-date business ‘as is ‘ a -telephone or a typewriter. “Every agriculturist and- every business man needs one, and I believe that- the” time is approaching when motor traffic will, to a large extent, supersede railway traffic. The field1 for motor production- can be enlarged a thousandfold: If a cheap standard car, such as a ford, were built in Australia, at least 100,000’ of them would be sold every year.
Some honorable members, may smile at that statement, but in America;, where a cheap’ standard car- is available, many workmen ride to and from their work in cars. In pre-war- days- there, a man could get a good second-hand car at from £50 to £70. We are told by dealers that it is idle to talk of encouraging the building of chassis here. Those men, however, have, only .an eye to their own interests, as agents* and desire to create- in’ the minds of the. people the idea that it is impossible for a good car to be turned ant in Australia at a reasonable price.
– Is the honorable member aware that the proposal to lower the duty on chassis is designed to encourage the building of motor bodies here;? “
– The honorable member must think I am very innocent when he offers, me such an explanation. I understand quite well what the- honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Story) has in. . view, - and I shall support him. The present duty . is only a revenue one. I propose to: test the feeling of the Committee later on by moving that, on and. after. 30th June, 1922, the duties can motor cars shall be, ad valorem,. Britian!, 50 per cent. ; intermediate, 70 per cent. ; and general, 100 per cent. If such duties were imposed, they would encourage some big firm overseas to establish a large factory in Australia for the manufacture of cars.
– But thousands of men would be put out of work while we were waiting for some one to start.
– That is an absurd statement. Surely the Minister (Mr. Greene) does not think that duties of 7½ per cent., 12½ per cent., . and 17½ per cent, on chassis unassembled will encourage the building of chassis in Australia. Does he think that Protectionists do not know better than to vote for such duties which, instead of shutting out imports, merely encourage them? I have only seen one up-to-date motor body factory in the Commonwealth. It is situate in Adelaide, and the bodies that it is turning out seem to me to be superior , to those which are imported. If the duties proposed in the schedule are imposed on chassis, they will discourage the manufacture of such motor bodies.
– What we want is a supply of chassis, for which we may build the bodies. .
– For the present, that is so; but does not the’ honorable member think we can build chassis in Australia? He shakes his head. If we eannot build chassis here, then we cannot grow wheat.
– Chassis cannot be made as cheaply here.
– How do we know until we try.? In 1918, I endeavoured to induce Senator Millen to do something in this direction for repatriation purposes, with a view to trainingreturned soldiers and experimenting in the industry; and it would have been well if my suggestion had been acted on, even if the result were the expenditure of a considerable sum of money. Now I think the Government ought to offer a bounty for the production of complete ears, which I am sure would be forthcoming, for what can be done in America or Japan can bc done in Australia. It would encourage capitalists to embark iu the industry, and would doubtless result in our being provided with up-to-date cars at £250. Scarcely a commodity can be instanced that would not have been cheaper to-day if proper protective duties had been ap plied, though I must admit that in some cases success has been jeopardized by the competition of cheap . labour in other countries. This is a key industry, which in the future will be one of the greatest in Australia; certainly there is none so capable of expansion. As for the men who earn a living in the repairing shops here, it is a case of Heaven help those “who have to resort to them - they’ take a motor, look over it, “ collar “ some of the parts, and charge the . owner £5 for their work. We ought to fix a duty to take effect some time.
– Be consistent, and stick to your bounty proposal.
– If there were a bounty, there would still have to be aduty afterwards. The honorable member is so enamoured of bounties that when, by means of one, an industry has been established, he would leave it to fight the cheap labour of the world. My idea is that at a certain date a stiff duty should be imposed, and a bounty offered for, say, the first 1,000 complete machines produced in Australia,
.- I quite approve of the action . proposed to be taken by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Mathews)’. We are told that if we do not reduce the duties on chassis we shall throw out of employment a number of motor-body builders; but the answer to that is,- that if we make the whole car here, no one will be thrown out of employment.- When recently in Sydney I met a gentleman who is prepared to enter into this industry if sufficient encouragement be given, and turn out complete motor cars to cost not more than £200.
– Why does he not get to work? There is a fortune for him;
– Because there is not sufficient protection. Henry Ford, in America, turns out and sells cars for £95 and under, and those who say that Australians cannot also produce complete cars are simply belittling their own countrymen. We were once told that Iocomo- . tive engines could not be built in Australia, but to-day the Clyde Engineering Company, and also State Railway Workshops, are turning out high-class engines; indeed, the best locomotives on our linos have been locally built. Similar objections were raised to shipbuilding in Australia,, but three high-class cruisers and other vessels have been constructed, which, in the opinion of expert naval men, compare favorably with any craft turned out at Home. Mr. Beale, of New South Wales, who has long been identified with manufacturing interests in Australia, and conducts a large piano factory in Sydney, visited Ford’s works in America, and was told by Mr. Ford that if a substantial duty were imposed he would be prepared to embark on the motor-car industry in Australia. There -is no doubt that the large continent of Australia will require motor traction in the future, and there is a great opening in the direction for enterprising men if sufficient encouragement is given by means of the Tariff. Men are out of employment now because the importers of chassis have so put up the price that it is almost as cheap to purchase a complete car from abroad. If we were faced with war conditions in the Pacific, and had to defend Australia, we would find motor traction absolutely essential, and, cut off from America and Great Britain; would be thrown entirely on our own resources.
– What about the oil?
– If we had the oil we should still have to build our own cars.
– Motor spirit is being made here now.
– Quite so; and all the facts show that, if a fair duty were imposed, to take effect in, say, twelve months’ time, there would be no unemployment, and the encouragement would be sufficient to bring manufacturers here. If manufacturers did not come, however, no harm would be done.. The great majority of honorable members are Protectionists, and they ought to discard the literature with which their intelligence is being insulted at the hands of importers. Only to-day circulars have reached us containing the word3, “ Be sure, and be in your place.” Well, I am in my place, but I am here, not in the interests of importers, but in the interests of- the people as a whole. Importers have been making large fortunes. The people who have paid the duty, the freights, the upkeep of agents’ large establishments all over the land, and the price of newspaper advertisements, have been the eventual buyers of the machines. I say, cut out all these factors which so greatly increase . the cost to the Australian user, and manufacture the machines in Australia, employing” Australian workmen. Thus only will the public have cheaper cars; and that is what we should all aim at. If Henry Ford can make a car in America for less than £100 we ought to be able to make cheap cars in Australia. Wages are as high there as here. No man in Ford’s factories is paid less than £1 a day; and almost every man with a back yard in America has a motor car of his own. There are great possibilities for the industry in Australia, and I hope honorable members will agree to give it a fair start by intimating, for, example, that duties will be imposed after twelve ‘ or eighteen months, and that if, meanwhile, any one. cares to come to Australia and establish works here, he will be given a fair degree of protection to help him make good.
– It is desired not only that the duty on the chassis, assembled or unassembled, shall be considerably reduced, but that there shall be some adjustment of the present arrangement of the Tariff under which various parts of a chassis are differently taxed by the Customs Department. A chassis should be regarded as a complete thing in itself.
– I understand that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Mathews) desires to move an amendment to sub-item b.
– I wish to propose a new section covering the imposition of duties of 40 per cent., 50 per cent., and 60 per cent., respectively, upon motor cars complete after 1st July, 1922.
– If the amendment of the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Story) were carried in that form it would have the effect of releasing from duty certain portions of a completed car which the body builders , make here in Australia. We do not wish those’ portions to come in free. It would also release from duty the tyres which are imported on a chassis ; and, similarly, that is not desired. The exporters of cars from their countries of origin to Australia are straining every effort to make importers here take with the chassis every possible part of the car itself. That remark applies particularly to American manufacturers. Thereare - several difficulties surrounding the whole problem, but the- main trouble arises from the price of the chassis itself, and does not rest with the matter of the duties imposed. During the past twelve months there has been a very sharp rise in the price- of motor chassis.
– That applies to all machinery.
– I am referring to a very recent period, and not to the term immediately following the end of the war. Naturally those people who have been “ bumping up “ the prices of their cars are trying to put the blame on us:; but it rests on the shoulders of those ‘who ace taking from Australia a very much 1 greater profit, perhaps, than they are reasonably entitled to make. I am not speaking of the Australian importer, but of the maker on the -other side of the world. There are some difficulties which it will be specially hard to surmount. We think that the motor car, in so far as it is a luxury in times like these, should be a medium for contribution to the general revenue. A man who can afford to buy a Rolls-Roy cemay be taken to be -well enough off to pay something into the Treasury. The same” remark applies to the purchasers of other1 well- known and expensive makes, such as the Cadillac and the Daimler. At the same –time, it is impossible to put a value on -one chassis and say that it shall pay a higher duty than a chassis of less value. I do not- say that it is actually impossible : to do so, »but that it would not be possible by that medium, to attain the object of taxing ; the wealthy man who buys an expensive car purely “for pleasure. The Cadillac, for instance - and 1- here indicate the exact nature of the difficulty - is one of those expensive makes which is used -extensively in country districts for the conveyance of passengers and mails.
– The Wolseley and other British makes are also great favorites for similar purposes’.
-That is so. We cannot set’ out to more heavily tax a suan who buys an expensive car than the -purchaser of a lower-priced machine without penalizing also, the purchaser of an expensive chassis who uses the motor for such utility work as I have just mentioned; We are obliged, therefore, to fall back upon a revenue duty over the whole lot. The most expensive cars, and those which are used, perhaps, more than any other for pleasure, ‘ are imported from Britain ; and I do not feel disposed to: go as far as the honorable . member for Boothby (Mr. Story) suggests, namely, to make the British chassis “free. Nearly all the cars imported from England” are high priced.
– The man in the back eountry nearly always buys a European car, for reasons of safety.’
– I know a great many people, out back who use a Ford, and prefer it to anything els.e.
– If they go for anything else they generally jump from the Ford to a European car.
– My experience is that, where roads are bad. Fords are used because the owners know that their Fords, owing to “the light nature of their ‘ construction, will get them through and. over anything when a heavy British car will go down to its axles and stick. However) I am prepared to meet honorable members in connexion with the duty on the chassis.
– I believe that there has been a considerable curtailment of service on the Australian railway systems for financial reasons, and in . many country districts the ordinary train services have been cut down considerably. I have been hoping to see evolved in connexion with the railway systems a light petrol car capable of carrying fifteen or twenty passengers and 2 or 3 tons of goods so that it might be utilized for carrying mails in remote districts. Such a car would be exceedingly valuable where big trains cannot be profitably operated. The proposed heavy duty on chassis would make the cars very expensive. Of course, . the bodies will be manufactured in the railway workshops regardless of what the duty is. But if chassis cannot be made in this country - I do not say that they cannot - the Minister (Mr. Greene) might consider the advisability ‘ of admitting them free from Great Britain and imposing a duty of 10 per cent, on those imported from other countries. Honorable members will realize that the facilities offered by an oil-driven car would be an immense boon to settlers in the back country. It is well worth considering1 “whether we Cannot make this’ means of conveyance a little cheaper.
. -The Minister (Mr. Greene) has given f o the ‘Committee some very valuable information, and has shown that it is not’ the imposition of these duties that has caused the price of . motor chassis to rise to an exorbitant figure.. He attributed the rise to ‘other reasons which he did not. specify, but I assume one of the reasons to be . combinations or mutual imderstandings” on the part of manufacturers on the other side of the world.
– These vehicles, including the chassis,, are made in Australia^ with the exception of the engines.
– I am glad to hear that. Nearly three years ago the Commonwealth Railway Department was operating oil-driven cars on the KalgoorliePort Augusta line to carry the workmen to their jobs, and they estimated that they were saving £1,500 per annum by this means. I believe that these motor vehicles are being made in Victoria and South Australia.
– Yes; we are importing only the engines.
– The vehicle in its entirety could be made in Australia; therefore there is no necessity to reduce the duty.
My. GREGORY (Dampier) [5.25]. - I move -
That sub-item (d) be amended by adding after paragraph (1) : - “ And on and after 1st July, 1921, each, British, £15; intermediate, £20; general, £25,” and by adding after paragraph (2), “and on and after 1st July, 1921, each, British, £25: intermediate. £30; general, £35.”
Honorable members may recollect that during the general debate on the Tariff I quoted an extract from the Australian Motorist to the effect that a Combine had been formed- amongst the motor: body manufacturers of Australia, and the result had been an increase in prices. Following that speech I received a letter from the Universal Car Body Committee of Adelaide. I may say at this stage that while I was on a visit to Ade^ laide some time ago, I went through a very large factory that was manufacturing these car bodies, and I was quite satisfied that the article being manufactured there was as good as the bodies being imported from any part of the world. I believe that in other factories in” Victoria and New South Wales good! work is being done; I was informed by the Adelaide firm that they are receiving orders from Singapore, and havehad inquiries as to” the possibility of expqrjting to.Great Britain. I am’quite satisfied that the industry will be a big one,, andr will employ a large number of people. Nevertheless,, the ‘fact remains ‘ that forthese car bodies very high prices sirebeing charged: . The Universal’ Car Body Committee,’ in their letter to- me, reproduced the following paragraph, which I had quoted from the *Australian Motorist: -
Under this precious combination . the price of the Ford body is to be £165, or £160 if six bodies are . ordered . at one time. . Before the ‘ body embargo the imported Ford: body was invoiced at £15, so our readers can realize the “ slugging up “ . process planned now that tlte Government -has given the Australian motor body builder a monopoly.
I was not responsible- for that quotation The letter goes on rto say -
In the first place, we should explain thai this Committee has been formed for the purpose of keeping the price of the bodies foxFord motor cars throughout Australia, by standardization, at a minimum cost to the private purchaser. In future, so . far as “the Ford business is. concerned, only the unassembled chasses will be imported into Australia, aa& the bodies will be. manufactured locally, giving employment to a very considerable number of tradesmen and other sections of the Australian community, incidentally, and in no small way, helping to build up an industry that will be of benefit to the whole of Australia, as it is the intention that, wherever possible, Australian products, such as timber and many other items, will, preferably, -be used in the construction of the Ford bodies.
Now, in connexion with the prices mentioned in the Australian Motorist, viz., thai the price of the Ford body is to be £105, »s compared with £15, which is reported to he the invoiced price before the body embargo on the imported Ford body, we feel very strongly on this statement, because it is essentially missleading. The pTice of the standard Ford body, either the imported or the locally manufactured article, has, in so far as the Ford indentors are concerned, never a-eached anywhere near £165; in fact, the actual price charged! for the body, including wind-screen, hood, &e.t is very considerably below . half that figurp.
– Holden’s flat rate is under £50.
– I am glad to gis that information. I wrote to the Universal Car Body Committee asking to be informed what the present price for Ford. bodies was, and I received this reply on 28rd June -
I must apologize for not answering your letter of 23rd May before this, but I have been waiting upon a few particulars which I now have pleasure, as requested, in submitting to you. … - r-
The pre-war cost of the. bodies for the Ford cars was £60 to £65, and we are now making a better article for less money. The’ reason for the difference in price of the present and pre-war bodies is the fact that we employ better methods of manufacture, and are working on a. quantity output, which the public receives the benefit of.
As far as the present Tariff is concerned, we. are quite satisfied that, it be left as it stands, because it is going’ to make no difference to the- standardized Ford body in Australia.
Havingregard to that letter, how can the Minister justify duties of £30, £35, and £40 on single-seated bodies, and £50, -£55, and £60 on double-seated bodies?
– If these duties are im posed, no bodies will be imported; all -will be made in Australia.
– Cannot the honorable member see the possibility of building up a Combine which will raise the prices?
– Holden’s, in Adelaide, cannot produce at the price I have mentioned unless they have a quantity output . representing practically the whole of the Australian business.
– The Australian Motorist stated that, when an embargo was placed on the importation of motorcar bodies, a Combine was formed amongst Australian manufacturers, and a monopoly was given to a small section of the people. That is the evil I am fighting against. I was intensely pleased to see what was being done in Holden’s factory.
– That is only one factory; there are several others.
– Yes ; but I understand that Holden’s are likely to be exporters. And if that should happen it would be a splendid thing for Australia.
– The honorable member would not like to do anything that would destroy that industry?
– Not at all. I believe this will become a big industry. Australia has magnificent timbers, which are suitable for this industry, and the work done in the factories I have inspected commended itself to me. A friend of mine recently drove me in a Brick car, the body of which had been manufactured in Ballarat, and excepting, of course, on very high-class cars, it would’ be difficult to* get, anywhere, a superior body for ordinary road work. We have, however, the’ written testimony that Ford bodies’ are being made for less than the pre-war price of £60 to £65, and in those circumstances can the Minister justify a duty of £60. on a double-seated, body? Protection to that extent is preposterous, and must lend itself to improper uses. If that duty is agreed to the tendency will be to raise the prices to an unreasonable figure. Therefore, there should be no objection to my amendment.
– I would like to clear up this matter straight away by reminding the Committee of how this industry was built up. Every one knows that the number of motor bodies built in Australia before the war was very few indeed. Mostly the motor-car-body builder confined his efforts to replacing a worn out body, and naturally the work could not be done on an economic basis, which without mass production we could not expect. The maufacturer turning out an odd body now and again could not produce it at anything like the price at which he could build hundreds of bodies. The organization necesary for motor-body building is an extensive, one, and the motor-body builder who wishes to carry on his operations on commercial lines must establish a big plant involving the investment of a large amount of capital, and the training of a large staff of employees.
One of the first actions taken by the Government during the war was to prohibit the importation of motor cars with bodies, on them. After some considerable time that prohibition was varied, and permission was given to import two chassis for one complete car.” It was under those conditions that the motor-body building industry was developed in Australia, -and the men who first took hold of it happened to be progressive and enterprising persons, who, having the necessary ability and business acumen, have been able to establish one of the finest vehicle industries in the Commonwealth. If we were dealing with the ordinary class of ‘competition in the motor-bodv building ‘business, we could afford to give a lower rate of duty,but we are not. We are faced with competition which is not ordinary commercial competition, because the- overseas exporter in invoicing his cars can put practically what value ‘he likes upon the. chassis, and what value he likes upon the body.
– Have you not the power to see that the body is charged at its home consumption price? “ Mr. GREENE The Minister for Trade and Customs has considerable powers in that’ direction ; but the trouble is that he has no means of ascertaining the home consumption value of a motorcar body, because the manufacturers overseas lay down their establishments on a balanced plant basis, and produce just sufficient bodies for the cars they turn out, and sell them as complete cars. Thus we have no means of checking what is the homo consumption value of a body in the country of production. There is no satisfactory basis on which to work. I. admit that it is a high duty. Under the 1908 Tariff the rate was just about what the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregor)’) is now proposing; but no motor-building industry was established under it, because the overseas manufacturers found it suited them better to send their cars here with the bodies on them, and the local man could not compete owing to tho manner in which they were invoicing their goods. We have a pretty good idea of what they are doing, but it is practically impossible to pick it up. We think that unless we have a high fixed rate of duty we shall very soon reach a position in which we will have no motor-building industry in Australia. If wo lowered the duty to .the point suggested by the honorable member for Dampier, the net result would be simply to wipe out the industry. It must be remembered that we are fighting very strong and immensely wealthy people, who are prepared to go to .a pretty good length as long as they are not losing too much money - with a high fixed duty it would not be possible for them to do it -in order to throw the Australian body builders out of business. Some day I hope to see the motor-car industry established in this country by “ building the chassis here, but I do not think that will be for some considerable” time. I think we shall need a big increase in population before it will be possible to manufacture in Australia the various types of oar re quired. If it were possible to use one type of car for all’ requirements, the industry could be established here.
– Even that would not make a big factory as motor-car factories go.”
– That is so; but, nevertheless, it would make a considerable in dustry which, I think,, could be carried on on commercial lines.
– But the demand in Australia is too small.
– I have talked over this matter with a number of people who were in a position to advise me, and they say that if we can adopt one standard type of car that would meet all the requirements of the people, we could lay down’ a plant and manufacture it economically, and at a very reasonable price. However, as things stand to-day, that cannot be done. It is impossible for Australia, at the present time, to talk about a deferred duty on motor cars. I admit that from a defence point of view it is highly desirable that such an industry should be established here, and that we should be in a position to build internal combustion engines at the earliest possible moment.
– We need’ more, people here first.
– But at the same’ time the great part the internal combustion engine plays to-day in defence matters makes it highly desirable to have the manufacture of these engines commenced in Australia. However”, I do not think we can do it yet. I hope the honorable member will not press his amendment, because if it were carried it would wipe out the motor-body building in Australia. The powers we are taking in the Bill to be submitted for the consideration of this Parliament later on will prove an effective check in the event of the body builders taking undue advantage of their position. It will contain machinery under which this Parliament can, if -it so desires, very rapidly review, a duty of this character, .which in itself must necessarily be confined to comparatively few firms carrying on this class of work. But as long as we have in Australia a number of firms doing this class of work and competing one with another, I do not think we shall find them entering into any combination to raise prices unnecessarily.
.’- The Adelaide- firm which is turning out motor bodies is able to do so at a price I have already indicated because of the conditions under , which the bodies are turned out, and because of the big turnover.
– If it does not get the turnover it cannot get the work.
– First of all, the whole business is standardized. When this concern ‘started it was the pluckiest venture of the kind ever seen in Australia, because it meant ruin to the firm if it did not meet with, success. It intimated to the dealers throughout Australia that it could build a . body under certain conditions and at a certain price. The traders deemed . it impossible to do so. However, the firm submitted to a committee representative of all . the States, which met in Adelaide, . the approximate price it would charge for a standard body. The dealers replied that they were importing chassis for certain makes- of cars, and, naturally, would- require three or four different designs of body, so that it would be impossible for them to standardize their requirements. The firm pointed out that it could not go on with the enterprise if the dealers could - not agree upon ‘ a standardized body, and it urged them to select the best of the different designs and agree to one that combined all the best elements of the others. The dealers did this, and agreed to one standard design, and under this condition the firm was able to turn out these bodies - and splendid bodies they are at the price, as every one admits who has seen them. But there was another condition. The firm pointed out that it would require a turnover of at least 2,000 cars per annum to get the necessary number of hands trained to turn out the work at the price quoted; but orders came in so rapidly that the turnover soon exceeded 2,000 car bodies per annum, and, as a matter of fact, the firm’s premises have been extended to deal with a turnover of 4,000 car bodies per annum.
– Is the honorable member referring to Holden’s ?
– Yes. I understand that there’ is a similar firm in Sydney, but I do not think that it is quite as big as Holden’s. The point is that Mr. Holden says that the company had- a’ ‘surprisingly few pounds’ -profit on each car/ but that the aggregate on 4,000. cars was quite a decent’ stfin, and; he was1 satisfied with, it, and was, doing’ ample justice to his men.’ - Not only did he have the advantages I have indicated, but’ his son, who is” a- member of the firm, went to America and spent a long time there. He got holdof a good” “many ideas there, and brought back > tools and a limited number of men to act as leading hands to teach others. The result is that- in that establishment to-day the cost of some odd parts of a motor body . has been literally reduced from a pound to a shilling through the standardizing principle. We could not have fifty ‘concerns of ihat sort in Australia, because Australia could ‘not supply the orders for “them.
– Could that firm carry on if the honorable member for Dampier’s amendment was carried?
– There would be a danger of destroying the firm. At the factories in Australia that are not standardizing the . price is double, and more than double.
– Oh, no!
Mr.RICHARD FOSTER.- Certainly. A good many of them ate charging more than double, and cannot do otherwise. In the Adelaide factory we have mass production on the standardizing principle,
– What price are they turning bodies out for?
– Under £50.
– The honorable member is quite right, ‘because you can easily -pay three times- that for a body.
– It is quite a common thing to have to pay £150 for a body in Australia. It is not intended that the body-making industry In Adelaide shall be dependent on Australia for its- orders.” They halve already sent’ their representatives to Java ‘ and - Singapore, and have been asked to establish factories in some of the eastern countries. We can, for ordinary-priced cars, . fight the world’ in this trade when this firm gets properly going, if it is given proper treatment.- The honorable member for Boothby -(Mr. ‘Story) proposes to move for’ a -lower ‘ duty’ on the chassis. . - : -t
– Order! The honorable member had better wait until the honorable member for Boothby’s amendment is before the Committee. The question* now before the Chair is the amendment of the honorable member for Dampier.
.- I Jio not question your decision, sir, but the questions of the duties on the body and the chassis are correlated. I proposed to rise as soon as the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Richard Foster) sat down, to ask the Minister how he was going to treat chassis. We do not know how to treat the bodies until we have that information. The total cost of the caf has to be considered.
– I am prepared to move for a duty on the chassis of .5 per cent. British, 7 A per cent, intermediate, and 10 per cent, general; that is, unassembled.
– On that condition I urge the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) to accept the item regarding bodies as it now stands.’ We do not want to destroy the industry of body making in Australia. It is quite a good industry, which should grow. I want to protect those who are using motor cars,- and those .who should be using them, but are at present prevented by the price, from having the price put up further. If we allowed bodies to be taxed to this extent, and the chassis also to be heavily taxed, we should ‘ be stopping the spread of motor cars in Australia. We all know the value of cars in country districts.
– Have you any idea of the price of the Ford car to-day as compared with pre-war days?
– Before the, war *, good Ford car could be bought in Australia for about £220, although in America, where Ford turns his cars out like sausages, it would cost only £98. I saw cars being’” made there, and can assure the- Committee that it ‘ is utterly ridiculous to talk about turning out chassis here at anything like a price to compete with the rest of the world, because if that one factory alone turned its whole output into Australia, and no other kind of car were used here, our market would be. flooded in a month. It is impossible to establish the actual making of chassis in this country with any re gard to the necessity of spreading and ex- . tending the use of cars.. The creation here of conditions which would enable us to build chassis at a remunerative price would do away with far more employment than it would bring here, whereas to do away with the building of bodies would be a loss to Australia. Body building is an active industry here, and we have all the requirements for it. I do not say we can produce the bodies at anything like the price at which the United States of America can send them over to us, but, considering the quality of the two, we can produce them at pretty nearly the same value. We can produce them at that price because we can afford to import chassis on a comparatively free list, but we could not afford to go. on building bodies at that price if we put up the rates on chassis. I hope that when we deal with the chassis the Minister will adhere to the rates he has suggested.
– We will give him a tussle on that. ~
– Unless I thought the- Minister (Mr. Greene) would stand firm on that point, and could carry it, I would not be prepared to agree to the existing duty on, bodies. In view of the interjection of the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr.- Riley) we ought to know at once whether the Minister will stand firm on the duties ho has indicated for the chassis. If he will, we can give him the duty he wants on the bodies.
– I will abide by what I have said,- but I am in the hands of the Committee.
– That is quite good enough for me. I want to bring the two items into correlation in order that we may extend the use of motor cars throughout country districts. I am prepared in the circumstances to do all T can, not only to maintain, but to expand the Australian body-building industry.
.- I understand that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Mathews) desires to move for the insertion of a new paragraph in sub-item d to deal with the complete, motor .car under the deferred duty principle. In other items, the Minister (Mr. Greene) ha8 proposed deferred duties to come into operation on the 1st July-, 1922, and if the industry is not established by that time the. Minister has power to defer the duty still further. Will the honorable member for Melbourne Ports have an opportunity later on to put forward his . proposal?
– It is quite true that every item needed in the manufacture of motor bodies in Australia is made of Australian wood.
– Every part of the motor body is made of Australian material, with two or three exceptions, which will not exist long.
– I visited one or two of these works this morning, and can bear out the eulogy which has been paid to the firm of Holden Limited in Adelaide. I saw at one place the body of a motor car, and the man who told me about giving the order for it to that firm spoke of the work in the very highest terms. He said, “ There we have an article the superior of which cannot be obtained from any other part of the world.” It really looked a beautiful car. The firm are using Tasmanian wood, some New Zealand kauri, and Queensland and Victorian timber. I presume that in New South Wales the local hardwood is used.’
– There are some parts of the steel that the Newcastle Steel Works are not ready to turu out yet, but they will do so later on, and then all the parts of these motor bodies will be obtained in Australia.
– The upholstering- an item we were discussing yesterday - is being done locally, and it was pointed out tome that the Australian material’ which they are putting into the Ford body in Australia is better than what is put into it in America.
– That is not saying. much.
– It is very much better.
– As we pay four or six times the price for it, it should be very much better.
– It is really a treat to see the fine body of workmen there. The two principal places are Ford’s and Tarrant’s, and Ford’s have in Melbourne, alone seven large establishments, with a big body of men busily employed at each. The Ford works in Lonsd ale-street always keep 150 completed bodies in- stock, which shows that they anticipate a very considerable advance in the trade. In Victoria we have one motor vehicle for every seventy-five persons. That means 20,000 motor vehicles in this State alone. Those are the figures for 1920, so that . the re]>air~work alone for that number of cars means the employment of a vast body of men. I saw a 20 horse-power waggon with a trailer lorry which is capable of carrying as big a load as the waggon itself. The trailer is a New South Wales invention, and I believe it has given splendid trials. By the use of the trailer double the load can be carried, 6o that these vehicles are going to be of very great use to the rural community. I am confident that the day is not far distant when we shall load our goods at the warehouses in the city and take them to the farm door by motor.
.- It is not often that I have a dash in on Tariff matters, but this is an item that appeals to me as a car owner. Although I am a Protectionist, I am glad to hear that the Minister (Mr. Greene) has decided to reduce the rates on chassis to 5 per cent., 7½ per cent., and 10 per cent.,- respectively. Quite recently I have had . an Australian body put on my own motor, and I have not seen a better one even in the great English motor ‘body factories that . I have visited. It was made for me in Sydney, and I arn convinced that we can make in Australia motor car bodies that are not excelled in any other part of the world. Unquestionably we . must encourage motoring here. The work carried out by the motor body factories in the various States is unequalled, and I am glad that the Minister is not prepared to reduce the duty on the imported bodies. The man who imports a complete car from the Old -Country or elsewhere can afford to pay a duty-on the body.
Amendment (by Mr. Story) proposed
That the item be amended, by adding, after sub-item d(4), the following:–” And on and after 1st July, 1921-
The chassis shall include all parts, fitments, and instruments which the manufacturer incorporates in his design, and inclusive of various instruments which are necessary in that particular design to guarantee proper functioning of the complete car, exclusive of tyres.”
– I desire to assist the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Story) ; but when he proposes to include in his amendment a definition of chassis which would practically cover a complete motor car, I am not prepared to support him.
– Then let us divide the amendment, and deal with one part at a time.
– If that is to be done, I shall not support the first part of the amendment. I desire to protect not only motor-body builders in Australia, but those who are making here commodities used by the body builders. If the motor-body builders, think that they are going to be allowed to import at a low. rate of duty not only the chassis, but also the parts used by them, they are making a mistake. If we have in Australia factories producing parts required in the manufacture of motor cars, they also must be protected. It would seem that the amendment moved by the honorable member for Boothby is designed to suit only the bodymakers - that it was framed by them - and that itoverlooks altogether the claims of those who make other parts of a car. I have in my electorate coachbuilders who make motor bodies, and I want to help them; but I am not prepared to do so at the expense of the local makers of . other parts. I desire that chassis shall come in at a low rate of duty, in order to encourage the building of motor bodies here; but I cannot associate myself with the honorable member’s proposal to -bring under the duty relating to chassis a lot of acces- sories.
.- In order to shorten the debate, I am prepared . to accept the amendment suggested by the Minister (Mr. Greene). It goes a long way towards giving what I want, and is, I think, a very fair compromise. I ask leave, therefore, to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Mr. Greene) agreed to-
That the item be amended by adding- after sub-itemD (:4) the following: - -.”And on and atfer 1st July, 1921-
Unassembled, ad val., British, 6 per cent.; intermediate, 74 per cent.; general, 10 per cent.
Assembled, ad val., British, 7½ per cent.; intermediate, 10 per cent.; general, 12½ per cent.”
.- I move -
That the sub-item be further amended by adding after the foregoing amendment the fol lowing: - “And on and after 1st July, 1923 -
Chassis, but not including rubber tyres -
Unassembled, ad val., British, 30 per cent.: intermediate, 40 per cent.; general, 50 per cent.
Assembled, ad val., British, 40 per cent.; intermediate, 50 per cent.: general, 00 per cent.”
My object in moving for these deferred duties is to afford an opportunity for the establishment of the industry in Australia. It is not only desirable, but very necessary, that the industry should be firmly established here. I have been . given to understand, on very good authority, that Henry Ford has said that he . would be prepared to establish works in the Commonwealth if a reasonable measure of protection were given the industry.
– Hashe so advised the Minister?
– I do not know. I am quite willing to furnish the name of my informant privately.
– How long is ‘it since he made that statement 1
– Quite recently. As a matter of fact,, he has only returned to Australia during the past few months. This gentleman discussed with Mr. Henry Ford the possibility of establishing the motor industry in Australia. He pointed out that Mr. Ford had already opened factories in many countries where the prospects of success were not so” bright as they are in the Commonwealth. In reply, Mr. Ford said that if we erected a sufficiently high Tariff wall he would establish the industry here. I admit that at present we are not making chassis in Australia, and that we would be unable to manufacture them immediately. But the imposition ofa deferred duty would be an intimation to manufacturers in other parts of the world that if they are prepared to’ come here and establish the industry, two years hence, we shall be willing to give them the* benefit of the proposed duty. The point touched upon by the Minister’ (Mr. Greene), so far as it affects the defence of Australia, is of paramount importance. What we have to realize is the great isolation of our centres one from the other, and the great cost of railway communication over such long stretches in a country which is so sparsely populated. But with the establishment of the motor industry in our midst, it would be possible for us so to mobilize our Forces that in case of attack we should ‘be in ‘a position to convey our troops from one point to another very rapidly. We have the lessons of the war before us. The greatest achievement on the part of- the Allied Forces during that momentous struggle was the result of motor traction. In the early stages of the war, Paris itself was saved by reason of the fact that France was able to quickly mobilize her troops, and to transport them by motor vehicles to the point where the German Forces were most threatening. Do we not all remember how General Gallieni, by commandeering every motor vehicle available, was enabled to convey his Forces to. the most vulnerable point, and by striking the German Army in the centre, to save Paris?
– Viewed from that stand -point it would be better to remit the duty altogether.
– Let me show the fallacy of ‘the honorable member’s argument. Australia, if attacked, must be attacked from the sea. Being an island continent, it is quite possible for this country to be completely cut off from the. rest of the world. It is absolutely necessary, therefore, that we should establish the motor industry in Australia.
– Some honorable members opposite do not-care about the defence of Australia so long as they can get cheap motor cars.
– Apparently, the safety of the Commonwealth does not weigh with them, though, a majority of this Committee will agree with me that something should be done to establish this industry in our midst. Consequently, I hope that we shall agree to the imposition of the deferred duty proposed * : If at the end of two years it is found that it is impossible to establish the industry in Australia, I shall be quite willing to see the duty remitted.
– The honorable member’s amendment would be all right if Australia had a population of , 15,000,000.
– That argument has been advanced in opposition to the establishment of every industry in this country.
– It is the argument which has been advanced to me. by the Australian makers of automobiles.
– We have always been met with the same cry ; but the argument of the honorable member has been exploded time after time.
– Not in respect of motor cars.
– At the end of two years we shall know the position better than we know it to-day. But we ought to intimate to the ‘manufacturers of chassis in other parts of the world that if they are willing to come to Australia, and to establish the industry here, we are prepared to meet them fairly by granting them a reasonable measure of protection.
Sitting suspended f rom 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– I hope that the deferred duty proposed by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) will not be accepted by the Committee, for reasons I ( intend to give.
Mr. -Mathews. - The reason is that there are not enough Australians here!
– That is exactly the reason. Nobody will pretend that any engine is being built in Australia that “ fills the bill.” Of the motor cars in Australia to-day it ‘ is stated that those costing less than £350 each represent 66 per cent. ; those costing between £350 and £500 each, 26 per cent.; those between £500 and £800, 4£ per cent. ; and those costing £800 and over, 3J per cent. It is a well-known fact that Britain can beat America ‘” into a cocked hat” in the production of expensive cars.
– Not many of those cars .are imported into Australia.
– Very few, indeed, are imported. British manufacturers have devoted themselves mainly to the production of ‘ such cars as the only class in which they could successfully compete with American manufacturers, who,, because of the greater population, can ‘beat Britain so far ‘as the” cheaper ; cars’ are concerned. We- are told thatBritish motor . manufacturers state that they cannot ‘ produce low-priced automobiles -‘because ‘‘thejir home market- is limited to a ‘ population- of 4^000,000, and that’ the home market, and not the export market, is the determining factor in output- and consequent cost. The American figures are: very eloquent. The statement by the British manufacturers is confirmed ‘by” statistics Concerning- the motor industry of the’ United States’ of America. We are told:.that; due to the’ low first cost, America is the leading exporter in the world of automobiles. Yet the exports to* eighty-one countries last year amounted to only 4^ per cent, of the production; that is, the home market absorbed 95A per. cent, of the output of 1,586,787 passenger vehicles, although the export during that period constituted a record. Eighty-one countries, therefore, secured the benefit of low production cost occasioned by the ‘great domestic market the United States of America possesses for its own automobile industry. “
– That is the old Free Trade, argument I have heard for forty years.
– The argument scarcely applies to any other industry with which we have to do. We have been told that Mr. Ford said that if there were a decent Tariff he would start business in Australia at once. Such an event is Scarcely likely, in view of the Statement by the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Marks), that Mr. Ford told him there was no hope of any manufacturer coming to Australia, with its 5,000,000 of people, to enter into the business of building engines. If the time should come when there is a fair opportunity, and some justification for protecting this industry, I am sure this Par- liament will be prepared to listen sympathetically ; but it does not seem to me the proper course to encourage the bodymaking industry, which . is giving such abundant promise, and, at the same time, hold out the prospect of a Tariff in thef other direction at the end of two years.
– It is only an expression of opinion.
– That may be, but it involves absolute discouragement, instead of assistance, to an indus try Jthat is promising to “secure practically the’ whole of the business-, except’ to the case of the very costly cars,, for which “the purchaser can -afford, and ought, to pay.
.-*- I shall not waste any argument on a “ hard-shelh Baptist “ Free Trader like the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Richard Foster), but will address what I have to say to the younger men, who are Australians and desire to see Australian industries successful. The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Marks) says that this industry cannot be successful here because our population is not -large- enough to make the enterprise commercially successful.
– That . was not my argument, but my interjection.
– May I tell the honorable member that I have heard exactly the same argument applied in the case of the woollen industry? A warehouseman has produced to me material and declared that nothing like it would ever be . produced in this country ; further, that if it ever were produced it would not pay, in view of the small population, nor would it pay to make the requisite change in the patterns. Exactly the same argument has also been applied to the cotton and other industries.
– Australia can keep a good many woollen mills going, but it would not keep a factory like Ford’s going for fourteen days in the year.
– The argument was just as strong in the case of the woollen industry as it is in the case of motor cars. Is Australia over-supplied with motor cars at the present time?
– They are too dear for people to buy.
– I do not expect Australia to bo able to manufacture twenty or thirty different types of cars. What I desire is to see our own people manufacture a strong car for about £250, of a type useful to our agriculturists and business men generally. With a duty on chassis and engines, there is enough trade in Australia to keep the industry going. Of course, such a car would not be produced here so cheaply as at Ford’s; that is, for about £100.’ I do not expect a car to be built here at that price, but the market is sufficient to make it profitable to produce cars which could . be sold at £200 or £250. In America production is cheaper, because there has been a reversion to savagery, with a ten-hours day. Chassis might aswell be free until wo arrive at the stage when we can manufacture the whole car. L. am told that if an interval of two years be allowed, Australia will be flooded with chassis. Well, let them flood us for even up to ten years - we should still then have a hope of starting the industry. In 1908 there was a fierce debate on this very item, and we were warned by. opponents of Protection of what would happen if we attempted to manufacture them here. The majority of those opponents thought., and said, that Australian workmen had the brains to construct an engine. Several admitted that they had changed their minds so far as locomotive engines were concerned, but they pointed to the “ highly technical skill “ essential to produce an engine for a motor car. Such an engine, they said, was not like a big, clumsy engine, and then they proceeded to talk a jumble of trade names and claptrap. But motor cars are made in Japan, and we can make them here if we have sufficient encouragement. It is the duty of the Government, in the interest of agriculturists, business men, and the workers, to do what is possible for this industry.
– We do not want such help.
– Of course, the honorable member doe’s not. I separate him from the rest of the Corner party as a consistent anarchist, who does not believe in the Government having control of anything, not even a police force. As a matter of fact, the honorable member is like one of those gentlemen who drew up the Constitution for the United States of America, and who, in their desire for liberty, gave so much that every man was free to rob his fellows,, so long as he was the stronger. This will always occur under a social system in which the Government does not interfere. The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) and his staff must have put in many months in compiling the Tariff. I. am satisfied that they have gone carefully into every detail of. its various items. It must have become, apparent to the Minister ‘that the time has arrived when we should build motor cars in- Australia from start to finish. This is an . industry which must increase. No one can say what developments of the aeroplane are likely to take place! We must have engines for motor cars, aeroplanes and motor boats, and I want, to see a duty imposed upon this class of engines to induce our people to undertake their manufacture here. I undertake to say that any of the engineering establishments in my electorate could, in three months, train their men to turn out these engines in competition with any workmen in the world. I suggest the imposition of a duty deferred for two years or three years in order that we may have some hope that in the future the complete manufacture of motor cars will be undertaken in this country. Honorable members who are not prepared to take the” necessary action to bring this about are, in my opinion, remiss in their duty. They have no rightto represent Australia unless they are prepared to protect Australian industries.
– I hope that the Minister for. Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) will not needlessly prolong the debate. Can he not say whether he will agree to the amendment which has been proposed?
– I have already intimated that I am not prepared to agree to it.
– Is there, any proposal of the kind to which the honorable gentleman will agree?
– I shall not agree, to a deferred duty on motor chassis.
– The Committee of experts which the Minister intends to provide for will be able to deal with a matter like this.
– I do not approve of resigning to any Committee a duty which should be performed by Parliament. An inquiry by a Committee of . experts would not take us any further in this matter. We can only induce manufacturers to put money into the motor car industry in Australia by guaranteeing to protect them: We can only do so by imposing a duty on . imported cars which will satisfy ‘ manuf acturers abroad that it will pay them to come here to carry on the industry, and so give employment to Australians. There is nothing intricate about a motor ear engine. In campaigning over Australia I have driven a Ford car which, if it breaks down, is as difficult to repair as, possibly, any other make of’ motor car.The statement has been made that petrol engines are not made in Australia, but that is not correct, because there are works at Auburn, New South Wales, that are making heavy petrol engines which have stood the tests applied to them. This firm manufactures these engines completely, including castingsand everything else. The Ford Company is able to cut down costs because of the way in which its business has been systematized. The moulding of Ford engines is done automatically by machinery, and there can be nothing very intricate about an article which can be manufactured in that way. The war proved that women could readily learn lathe work, and the other intricate work necessary for the production of munitions, and I say that it is possible for our Australian workmen to be trained to turn out motor engines. It is not well for men to stand up in this chamber and say that Australian workmen cannot do as good work as can be done by an American, a Frenchman, or an Italian.
– That is what the honorable member says.
– I do not say that at all, and I shall not allow the honorable member to so misrepresent me. I say that whatever can be done by the workmen of any other country can be done by the workmen of Australia.
– Then why does the honorable member want this duty?
– Because manufacturers in other countries, owing to their enormous output, can sell at a loss in Australia until they have killed the Australian industry, and then we shall be called upon to pay through the nose, as we have had to do before. We want to indicate to men with capital who are prepared to invest it in the industries here that if they do so they will be safeguarded, and will not be placed at the mercy of the foreigner.
– Does not the honorable member believe in doing away with the capitalist ?
– I might have expected that interjection from the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Prowse), who is so ignorant of Labour principles. No intelligent man would, make such a ridiculous statement. Judging by their arguments in dealing with the Tariff, members of the Country party would appear to regard the Australian, manufacturer as a. being with flaming eyes and grasping hands who desires to crush the people of Australia. They give Australian manufacturers no credit for being patriotic. They argue that a man who has invested his money in industries in Australia should not be given the same considerationas a man who has his capital invested in . America, in France, or in Germany. Charity should begin at home, and if we are to confer privileges upon any one, we should begin with our own people. Representative Labour men in Australia have always advocated strongly the protection of Australian industries, and have never suggested undue interference with the investment of Australian capital.
– The honorable member: is getting away from the question.
– I did not desire that the honorable member for Swan should misrepresent the Labour party in regard to these matters. I felt that I ought to put the position clearly, so that) his interjection might not mislead others. I believe, with the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Mathews), that it is possible to produce a motor oar in Australia at a reasonable price. It is said that Ford’s motor cars are produced in America for less than £100 each.
– The honorable member would not like to see Ford’s methods introduced here.
– We might manufacture a car in Australia similar to Ford’s without adopting his methods.. I certainly do not advocate any reduction of the standard of living and wages in Australia. I have heard it stated that a Ford car can be produced in America for £65. Others put the figure at £85, but I think every one is agreed that it can be produced for less than £100. We have to pay over £200 for it in Australia, and the difference leaves a big margin to pay for the manufacture of such a car in Australia and allow for the sale of that car at the local factory at a figure less than that which Australians are now asked to pay for the Ford car.-
– That is so, even, without the duty.
– I remind: honorable members of- the Country party that the Government of the United States of America protect American industries, and iba duty now . is 3; per cent. When tile manufacturers -of cars started in America, they were protected- by practical prohibition against imports of motor cars ‘from, other ‘ countries.’ I remind honorable members also ‘ that Germany subsidized her industries to. such an extent that it was useless for’ manufacturers in other countries- to expect’ to sell their* ‘goods in. Germany. I believe that there are patriotic Australians prepared to invest capital iri the motor” car industry if they are given a guarantee of a Tariff that’ will enable them to compete against the foreigner. I do not Maine- ‘any- man for refusing to invest money in an -industry’ without some guarantee - of protection.
– <Why not overcome the difficulty by a subsidy ?
– Would the honorable member support a proposal for a subsidy?
– I would prefer subsidies to Tariff duties in many cases.
– The arguments of honorable members of the Country party cannot be reconciled. The honorable member for Swan says that he prefers a subsidy to a Tariff duty, but before a subsidy is granted to a manufacturing firm the Government is entitled to know the” whole of its business transactions ; and, if Customs officials caine forward to examine its books, the honorable member would protest against that as a Government interference. I should like some definite statement from honorable members of the Country party to show what they really do stand for in the way of protecting Australian industries. Honorable members in the Corner say that it is not necessary to impose high rates of duty, because they amount to an undue protection to the Australian manufacturer. But we should give adequate protection, so that the outside maker may be attracted to come here and set up his works, and, in his turn, reap the advantages which we wish the Australian manufacturer to enjoy. We desire the Tariff to be so high that the overseas manufacturer will start an enterprise in this country, and so work side by side and in wholesome competition with Australian films. A gentleman interviewed -me ‘last week, together with some other honorable members, and ‘stated that he was prepared to produce a- car in the neighbourhood of £250 which would have a gear box - an improvement on the Ford in that respect. He added that if a deferred duty were agreed upon by Parliament he could promise an investment of capital tip to about £750,000. Are we- to lightly turn down a proposition of that character? We should not forget the national aspect. In time of war we do not want to be dependent on outside sources- for petrol engines. Have honorable members so. soon forgotten the things which we had to do without during the years of the war because we had no factories of our own? The Minister (Mr. Greene) pointed out yesterday that, but for the various State Governments having railway stocks on hand, the Australian systems could not have been carried on throughout the war. The reason why Australia had not these various industries was that there was not adequate protection. It has been argued in the past that we could not produce railway axles and wheels because there was not a big enough demand for them in Australia. But we are doing so .to-day. Judged by our present rate cif progress, the population of Australia may be doubled within the next twenty years. Thus there will be ever greater markets provided. If we encourage our manufacturers with adequate protection, the cost of various commodities will come down. Honorable members may not know that for the last 6ix months for which figures are available we imported into Australia 6,588 motor cars. That amounts to over 13,000 cars per annum. In the past ten years nearly £20,000,000 worth of motor cars have been brought into this country. Those are enormous figures. As motors become more and more widely used throughout the country, so will the importations increase, and in the next ten years probably 250,000 cars will be required in Australia. There is wonderful scope for a new Australian industry. We are not placing any hardship on importers to-day. If a deferred Tariff is decided upon, we shall be merely saying that Australia is prepared to give any patriotic citizen who cares to put up his money ample protection in order to establish the industry. Until we oan produce motor cars in Australia, we should be prepared to let them in free. Thereafter, with our own industry, well established, our policy should be protection to the point of prohibition.
– Who is going to pay for these cars?
– Men like the honorable member. I have seen him enjoying a ride in a motor, sitting well back, just like any capitalist, and making the most of it. I have pushed a bicycle over a good deal of Australia, and I would rather ride in a motor. We have 50,000 unemployed in Australia to-day, while we are sending out millions of pounds to buy imported motor cars. Would it not be far better to have those 50,000 men engaged on the - necessary primary and secondary works for the production of motor cars? Boiled and cast steel comprises the greater part of a motor chassis. ‘ There is nothing intricate in the manufacture of that product. Australians can make bridges and locomotives; yet we are told that we cannot turn out a vehicle of the nature of a Ford motor car. I am sorry that there are men in the National Parliament who have such “little” faith in their country and its people as to say and believe that. The industry could be started here in a small way. Some of the biggest American makers began humbly, with a relatively small output; but they have grown enormously and built up world-wide trade and associations. We pay up to £250 for a Ford car, the factory price of which is £80. Between the two figures there is a wide margin for the successful inauguration of the Australian industry, provided a guarantee is given that the foreigner cannot kill our industry. In taking the Ford as ah example I do so because it is everywhere recognised as the most popular utility car. During a recent drought I saw one light car doing the work of fourteen draught -horses and a 6-ton waggon, hauling feed upon a station. There are vast possibilities in Australia for the production of a car costing about £300, and which would do the work of the cheapest motor vehicle on the market. I look to the Minister to ‘ take the present opportunity to carry out the pledge of the -Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) during the last election campaign, namely, that the
Government would provide adequate protection for Australian industries, and would encourage the inauguration of all new industries which tended to make Australia self-contained. It is necessary for our well-being* that Australia should begin to manufacture her own petrol-driven vehicles, and in that direction, at any rate, become self-contained.
– I regret that the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Story) saw fit to withdraw his amendment. The . Minister (Mr. Greene) would have been justified in permitting the motor chassis to come in’ free from the United Kingdom, and in imposing a lower rate than he has proposed in respect of importations from other countries. However, I am pleased that the Minister .has seen his way clear to accept some reduction. If something in the nature of a bounty were recommended with a view to fostering the industry in Australia, I would be very ready to sapport it. In that way lie whole community pays for Government assistance, while, if high Protection is imposed, the individual who needs the commodity for carrying on his own undertakings has to bear the burden. The Australian Motor Body Association has pointed out that the farmer in the- United States of America is required to pay £290 for a certain make of car, and that when it is imported her the Australian user has to pay £624 for it. The enormous difference is made up, among other things, of duty amounting to £118, and the cost of packing, freight, and insurance. They also, give the price of Ford chassis imported second-hand for motor lorries of. British manufacture. The -total cost of bringing these here was £826, of . which duty paid amounted to £425. These figures are enormous, and must tend to prevent the development of this country. _ I am sorry the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Story) has withdrawn his amendment because it would have enabled us to take a test vote. We have to realize that it would be dangerous to establish the precedent of deferred duties. I do not know if the Minister for Trade and Customs has been advised that certain people in Australia are prepared to invest £750,000 in this industry. ‘
-I have not.
– I should think that people who had money to invest in this industry would have approached the Minister for Trade and Customs rather than a private member. As the amendment has been withdrawn, I am, prepared to accept the reduction the Minister is making, and trust that nothing in the nature of a deferred duty will be agreedto.
– -I sincerely trust the Minister for Trade aud Customs (Mr. Greene) will accept the suggestion of the honorable . member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony), because if he does so he will be the first Minister for Trade and Customs who has had sufficient common senseto indicate to the manufacturers of the worldthat Australia is a field worthy of entering. Only this evening a gentleman - I cannot, without his permission, disclose his name - informed me that if the Government could see their way clear to introduce a similar amendment two years hence he would be prepared to expend a large sum of money in establishing an industry in Australia for producing an article which is not manufactured to the extent we wish. What does a manufacturer in the United Stales of America or Canada do when he wishes to start in business ? He first of all makes inquiries as to the Tariffs in operation, and if they prevent him selling his goods at a profit he immediately considers the desirableness of manufacturing locally, and thus escaping the high duties. We have only to realize that Cadbury’s and other manufacturers have established industries in Australia. If such a provision is embodied in the Tariff, the Minister will have established a precedent that will cause manufacturers to look to Australia in the future. I ask the Minister to correct me if I am in error when I say that there is no Tariff in the world which offers such a concession to manufacturers.
– I do not know of any which includes a provision for deferred duties, if that is what the honorable member is referring to.
– I do not know of any. but I trust , that the Minister will be prepared to adopt the suggestion. We are threatened to be hampered by the patent laws appertaining to manufac-‘ tures, and whether it is owing to the late war or the broader outlook that is now being taken, many countries are not allowing patent rights to exist unless the . owners of such rights commence manu facturing in the country within a certain period. I believe it was the intention of the Government of the day to introduce a measure embodying that provision.
– The Senate rejected it.
– If the Senate rejected the proposal it is time that Chamber was wiped out. I know it was the intention of the Government of the day to introduce such a measure, and I trust that even now action will be taken in that direction. Honorable members know that it is my desire to get the Tariff out of the way so that we can consider the terrible question of dumping.
– Even if the generations to come were to look upon me as a wise man for adopting the suggestion submitted I am afraid I cannot do so.
– What are you going to lose?
– It is premature. I am afraid that if such a course were taken we would find that one or two comparatively small manufacturing concerns would be established which would create difficulties, preventing the manufacture of motor cars in this country being brought any nearer.
– That difficulty presents itself in connexion with other industries.
– It does in a greater or lesser degree. In this case it is to a greater degree, and that is why I- do not think it necessary.
– Under what circumstances would the Minister agree to such a proposal?
– We would require a bigger market. If an industry were established in Australia, it would have to be capable of producing several types of cars, because we could not meet the requirements of the whole of Australia with one type of motor vehicle.
– The purchasers could pay a higher price for the others.
– The honorable member forgets that we do not merely require cars for driving in the streets, but need motor-driven vehicles for various purposes, and at least four types would be required. Perhaps, in a few years, it may be possible to offer the manufacturers in other countries facilities for manufacturing here. I quite agree with the desirableness of doing what is suggested, but I am not prepared to recommend to the Committee a deferred duty on motor chassis. For the same reason I” do not favour the payment of a bounty, because I do not think it would materially assist the industry. The payment of a bounty might be the means of inefficient plants being established, which would be quite incapable of meeting the actual requirements of the country. For the reasons given I do not feel disposed to accede to the request of the honorable member.
– I am sorry that the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) is not prepared to accept the suggestion made, because, if we arc to wait until some large concern is manufacturing in Australia, the Commonwealth will be absolutely in the backwash.
– That has not been our experience.
– Yes, it has. The manufacture of the combined harvester was started on the most modest lines. It was a new departure, but its operations extended until a few years ago when it was assailed to such an extent that it was ii early wiped out of existence, and if it had not been for the. protection afforded against the American Combine, we would not have had such an important Australian industry at the present. What applies to that industry is equally applicable to quite a number of others in every State of the Commonwealth.
– ls that not the place where they employed girls?
– They may have made mistakes as have other manufacturers ; but if the honorable member has anything to say against the industry, let him make his comments to the 2,500 workers who are employed there.
– I am quite prepared to express my ideas to the workmen.
– If the honorable member spoke of them there as he does here, they would not listen to him very long, and I would not blame them. There are manufacturers already in the field if only in a small way. Two men who fought on the other side of the world utilized the time at their disposal after the armistice was signed in gaining infor mation in a particular branch of manufacture, which, coupled with the knowledge they possessed before going abroad, enabled them to commence the manufacture of motor cycles in Australia. The firms with which they are now connected are known as Firth Brothers, and Foreman and Whiting. A publication issued by the Australian Mining Standard contains the following: -
For some time past Messrs. Firth Brothers have been engaged making standardized motor parts for the trade houses, so they have had full opportunity to discover the faults and virtues of the various imported machines. With the object one day .to produce a motor themselves, they have gradually perfected their plant, which, in addition to machine tools, includes a modern foundry, sand-blasting outfit, drop-forge hammer, enamelling plant, &c. Messrs. Foreman and Whiting, who, as already stated, recently arrived from England, brought with them valuable plant, and what is perhaps of. even greater importance, considerable experience in massed production. These gentlemen are erecting a factory next that of Messrs Firth Brothers, so that the various processes may lie carried out practically under the same roof. The joint area of the works (floor space) will be 10,500 feet, and the value of the plant, buildings, and machinery approximately £20,250. They anticipate being able to produce 500 motor cycles a year, to employ sixty workers, and disburse £15,000 a year in wages.
I do nob say that these two firms can compete successfully with such manufacturers as Ford.
– they started under the present Tariff.
– They did; and I fail to see the dangers forecast by the Minister. Should we not open the door to the great manufacturers of the world, and say, “ If you come here, we are prepared at any rate to protect you “ ? Notwithstanding the opinions expressed by the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Marks) and others, one great cnr manufacturer may .have said that he will not establish works in Australia, but other manufacturers have said that and later disproved their own words. The Minister has within the last eighteen months had experience of firms which did not wish to set up factories in Australia, but which, owing to certain conditions- that were created, have come here and are manufacturing in Australia what they previously said could be better manufactured in Great Britain. I see no reason why the amendment should not be accepted by the Minister. It offers an inducement to big: manufacturers in other parts of the world to come here and establish their industry.- . The- late Mr. James Page once related to me an incident which illustrates the value - of the motor car in the back country. In apportion of Queensland which was experiencing a drought, a friend came to- him and said that- lie must lose his flock of about 500 sheep, because he had no feed for them. Mr. Page suggested a district about 60 or 70 miles distant. The grazier agreed that’ there was plenty of water and feed there, but said that he had no means of transporting his Stock there. At the instance of Mr. Page, a couple of motor lorries, which were the joint property of residents, were fitted with hurdles, and in this way the sheep were transported, 100 in each load, from a place, of drought to a place of plenty. ;
– Is not. that an. argument in favour of making the cars as cheap as possible ?
– I believe that if foreign manufacturers could be induced to manufacture their cars in Australia the price would be reduced.
– If that happened it would be the exception to the rule.
– The honorable member would not make that statement if he had studied Australian manufacturing history.
– Ford cars can be purchased for £99 each in America, because they are turned out of the factory at the rate of one* a minute! No big firm in Australia would do that.
– The honorable member’s view is very circumscribed. Our population now exceeds 5,000,000, but it will not remain at that figure. I am
Optimistic enough to believe that within a few years our population will be. doubled. If we desire to attract a large and virile population we must foster, not only the primary industries, but also the secondary industries.
– The honorable member’s party is opposed to immigration.
– This, is not the occasion for discussing the resolutions of the Labour Conference. The population of Australia must- increase by leaps arid bounds. But if we put obstacles in the way of the establishment of big manufactures in the country we shall do a great deal towards depleting the population.
– The rural population of Victoria has decreased by’ 18,000 in the last few years.
– Those fluctuations occur in every country. Does the honorable member say that our population Will not increase?
– Immigration is not the question before the Chair.
– The rural population is not the whole of the people. I am not one of the pessimists in this House. I have great faith in the future of this great country; but it is the duty. of this National Parliament to legislate in a way that will help the development of the Commonwealth. There will be no danger in imposing the proposed deferred duty. Throughout this schedule the Minister has provided a fixed duty, an ad valorem duty, and also another duty to operate after a certain date, thereby demonstrating his belief that by the deferred duty system he will encourage manufacturers to start operations in Australia. Even our Free Trade friends of the Country party need not be afraid of this deferred duty, because discretionary power is left in the hands of the Minister, and if, at .the end of, *say, three years, the expert advisers in the Department- are of opinion that the Australian production of motor cars is not sufficient -to warrant the imposition of the duty, it can be further deferred. I have been informed by those who are very much’ interested in importing .chassis as cheaply as possible that a few years ago motor cars complete in every detail were manufactured in Australia, and within the knowledge of my informant one, at least, is still in use. If honorable members would visit the workshops in our capital cities and the principal provincial towns, I believe they would have no hesitation in framing a Tariff that would give adequate encouragement to every industry that it is possible to establish in Australia. We started this Tariff on right lines, but there is a tendency now to turn it into a piebald affair. I do not want a brindled sort of Tariff ; I want one that, both iri general symmetry and details, consistently expresses the policy of encouraging Australian industry. However, the Czar who is in charge of the
Tariff has said “Nay” to the amendment. I can only hope that if we are defeated in the division, the Minister will be compelled in a few years’ time to tell the House that he knows that there are motorcar manufacturers who are prepared to establish their factories in Australia.
– We hope he will.
-Give him a chance now. Open the door, and say to the manufacturer abroad, “We can offer a decent market for you to start in; this is a land flowing with milk and honey, and, so far, we have only scratched the edge of a continent; our population must increase.”
– I was deeply moved by the pathetic picture which the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fen ton) painted of the people struggling in the back country to convey their starving stock from one place to another, and I rejoiced with him that the motor lorries had been able to save one poor grazier’s stock. The only thing that . hurt me about the pathetic little story was the reflection that the Government had been heartless enough to take from the struggling selector’s friend a heavy tax upon the means by which the stock were saved, although there was no hope, by so doing, of establishing an industry in Australia. The tax upon chassis is a disgrace to the Government.
– That is not the question before the Chair.
– The proposal is to impose a very much heavier duty than has ever been imposed before. Although it sounds nicer to call it a deferred duty, it none the less means that the users will have to pay more for chassis in 1923, and farmers who have the misfortune to have starving stock in that year, and who may have need of motor transport, will require to depend upon friends who have been able to pay an extra £100 or £125 for a motor car. If there is one class of imports that should not be taxed it is this particular class, against’ which the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony). is to-night exerting, himself. Transport is the most important factor in this country. In every State we are taxed heavily, to provide railways. If we had taken more interest in the development of roads, and had encouraged people to use motor vehicles, the demand for railways would have been very much reduced, the conveniences of life in the interior would have been increased, and life would have been made very much brighter.. I. shall not vote for any duty upon means ‘of transport that are made abroad and not in Australia, because 1 believe that every encouragement should be given to the people . to use these mechanical means in their indusr tries, particularly the rural industries. Not only is motor transport desirable in the interests of the industries of the country; there is no greater educational means at the disposal of the people to-day than a motor car of the cheap type’. In America the young mechanic who has just passed through his apprenticeship is able, because of the cheap price at which he can buy a motor car, to see the land he lives in, and thus broaden’ his experience in the . best possible way. The best education a man can get is travel in “his own country. But we say to the young Australian who wants to buy a motor car that he cannot have it for £95, £100, or £125, the price paid by his American cousin, but that ifhe desires to have at his- disposal this means of education available to the young’ American he must ‘ pay £250, £275, or. £300 for “it. The motor car making industry seems to me to stand in an entirely different class from any other we have to consider in framing this Tariff. We can confer no greater benefit upon all classes in . Australia to-day, rural and urban, than by giving them cheap motor vehicles such as are available to the citizens of America. To call upon the Australian to pay as. much as £225 for a machine that prior to the war was selling in America at less than £90 is a serious handicap to the development of our country. The farmer would be much better off if he could get cheap engines for his work; the professional man would be in a much better position if he: could get about more freely, by being able to purchase a motor car cheaply; but the moat valuable purpose to which motor cars can be put is the enabling of the young people of Australia, at a time when they can enjoy the delights of motoring in all sorts of weather, to have the opportunity of travelling in the land in which they were born, and seeing more of their own country. I am opposed to any duty that will make it more difficult to use motor cars for any of the purposes I have mentioned, and certainly I shall not vote for the imposition of any revenue duty upon them.
.– The arguments advanced by the honorable member for Illawarra (Mr. Hector Lamond) are hardly worth a reply. He talks about the cheapness of motor cars in America, but they are only cheap there because the Protective policy adopted in that country made it possible for them to be built there.
– Mr. Ford has not had any protection.
– America is a highly protected country, and for that reason has been able to establish so many industries, among them the motor cai” industry. What makes the American motor car so costly in Australia? It is because, in addition to the price of the car, the buyer has to pay duty, freight, agent’s charges, and retailer’s profit. If the honorable member is so anxious that the young people of Australia shall be able to travel about their country and see the land they live in, his best policy is to vote for a deferred duty on motor car* that will encourage their manufacture here. The honorable. member for Wentworth (Mr. Marks) says we must have millions more people before this particular industry can be established in Australia, but we have already commenced the manufacture of motor cycles without those extra millions, and there is not much difference between the engine required for a motor car and that which is required for a motor cycle except that the former is of a larger type.
– The trouble is that we cannot make them cheaply.
– The honorable member contends that that can only be done with mass production, but without mass production Australia is able to produce locomotives equal to those turned out by American firms, and just as cheaply. All the arguments adduced to-day in regard to motor cars have been advanced here previously in regard to locomotives. Every time an attempt is made to establish a new industry in Australia the same cry is heard that we have not sufficient population, and that people will not be induced to put their capital into it. We must make a start somewhere, and I cannot understand why the Minister (Mr. Greene) should be so short-sighted in regard to the motor-car industry as to decline to agree to a deferred duty which would enable a start to be made in the local manufacture of motor cars, and give a guarantee to people willing to make that start that they would at a certain time have a protective duty upon their output, and would not be at the mercy of any Government that might come into power. We ought to intimate now to the people interested in the trade that after a certain time we intend to place’ a prohibitive duty upon the importation of motor cars, and that if they want to do business in Australia they must come here to manufacture their cars. Dozens of industries are carrying on successfully under our Tariff which it was said it was impossible to establish here. How are we going to get population unless we have secondary industries? We are already producing more wheat than we can consume, so that we do not want- to put more men on the land.
– The honorable member’s party is opposed to immigration.
– We are not if work can be found for immigrants.
– The policy of our party is to make the country attractive to all the people of the world by making the conditions of work here better than they are elsewhere. If we do this, and .afford plenty of opportunities for employment, people will come to Australia readily enough. We shall not induce immigrants to come here if we are dependent for the products of secondary industries on what can be brought by ships from overseas. If we attempt that line of policy we will have an unemployed market.
– It is the unemployed market in America that Henry Ford depends upon.
– Henry Ford pays higher wages than any other manufacturer does.
– I have heard it said that Mr. Ford’s employees go to their work” in motor cars, and they can do that because they get good’ wages. But if the workers can earn good’ wages in America, and own motor cars, why cannot we have a factory here paying good wages? It can be done. We do not want to bring down the conditions of our workers; we want to improve them. We are told. tonight that men are prepared to put up their money and produce a good substantial car in Australia for less than £250.
– How is it that we have not heard of this before 1
– Because the honorable member moves in a small circle, and does not know what is going on. If we build a cheap motor car in Australia, giving employment to Australians, we create a market for the sale of the cars. We imported nearly 13,000 cars last year. If we can turn out a cheap car suitable for our requirements we can double that demand, which would be a fine start for the industry. We have ample proof that there is room for such a factory, and no one who loves his country and his fellow men, and wants to see Australia progress, should hesitate to hold out an inducement in the shape of a deferred duty to a company to commence the building of motor cars here.
.- The honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. Riley), like many other honorable members, has built up a great deal of his argument on a statement concerning the Ford factory^ and one would think from the arguments put forward that we could do the same as Henry Ford has done. But it is useless to attempt to put our workers on the level of the workers of the “United States of America. We are told by honorable members opposite that the Ford employees are paid a high rate of wages, and can afford to go to their work in motor cars. They are paid a high rate of wages, and many of them do go to their work in motor cars; but, whilst the system employed in the Ford factories reflects great credit on Mr. Ford’s organizing powers and ability, it is one that would not be tolerated in this country, and honorable members who are making such a song about it to-night would be the very first to oppose its adoption in Australia. Mr. Ford has so organized his works that the workmen are arranged in two rows along a moving table 300 or 400 feet in length, and the various parts of the car are assembled on that table after coming down to it through shoots- from lofts above. Each man has to do a section of the work in a particular time as the article moves past him, and he is speeded up to the utmost. No one can drop out, or fail to do his little bit at the exact moment as quickly as his fellow man. There are overseers standing by who keep the workers up to the standard. The result of this system is that, although the men are paid high wages, within a very short time - so I was informed by the people in charge there, and by. some of the workmen themselves - generally after three or four years they get out “They find the pace too hot. They have made enough, as a rule, in that time to secure their own little dwelling, and very often to buy their own cheap car, and they then go to other factories that work at a slower pace, but where they get a lower wage. It is of no use for us to talk about doing things in that way, as it is lending altogether a false appearance to the whole position. Let us get down to actual facts, and try to establish industries here on a basis such as can exist, and such as honorable members who are advocating these things here to-night will be prepared to tolerate and support. Not only are the men there worked at that high pressure, but Mr. Ford relies on the constant influx of ignorant immigrants te carry, on with. I am not saying this in derogation of Mr. Ford, because in some /frays he has been a very good man to his country: B
– It is rather in derogation of the immigrants.
– The immigrants are of all kinds and colours. Most of them aro foreigners who are ignorant of the conditions that obtain in the United States of America. Mr. Ford has upstairs a room larger than this chamber, in which his new immigrants are collected every evening for weeks to learn English, so that they can understand .when they are spoken to and carry on with the other operatives in the factory. The whole position there is different from anything that can possibly obtain in ‘ Australia, and it is most misleading for honorable members to try to persuade the Australian community that we can establish factories in the same way as the Americans have done. If we are going to establish factories here, we must do it on a plane where men can work at what is considered in Australia to be a reasonable rate, and where they have an opportunity to carry on, not only for one or two years, but as long as ordinary men have ordinary strength. There is no slave driving id this country, although the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine) may disagree with rae, and we hope there never will be. The danger about this movement here to-night is that the motor-body building industry, which is of use to Australia, will be destroyed by an attempt to establish an industry which we are not yet fit to carry on. In. the motor-car industry, as in other highly organized trades and businesses, the orders have to be out for some time before tlie material actually arrives. In this particular instance it is from. one to four years ahead that the orders aTe sent for chassis, and the bodymakers. then get to work, here with all their employees in this growing industry to make the bodies for them. If we attempt by this false means and false reasoning to establish here an industry for which we are not fit, in the way of making chassis, all we shall do is to destroy the body-making industry, which to-day is a valuable and growing one in Australia.
– =The remarks of the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Fleming) have been so pathetic that one could almost hear the tears in his voice, so to speak, as he depicted the lot of the poor working man in America. It is most remarkable to find the poor working man protected by the honorable member. If we establish motor factories in Australia, as ‘we established bicycle works, and try to get good conditions for the workers, it will not be the honorable member for Robertson that will help us. All the pathetic language “ that h’e has just got rid of does not appeal to. me. He could have been stopped by the Chairman very early in his speech, because he did not deal with the question at issue at all. All he did was to depict, in harrowing terms the- way Mr. Ford treats his employees. If American firms do what the honorable member says, all I can- say is that there are. Australian firms which would be just as bad if they got the chance, an i the honorable member’ would not help us to stop them. We have heard a good deal from the foreign’ Country party, and from, the honorable member for Illawarra (Mr. Hector - Lamond), and, by interjection, from the honorable member for Nepean (Mr. Bowden).
– I object to that remark if the honorable member means that I am one of the foreign Country party.. .- -r
– I separated the honorable. member from them. I do nob expect a single Australian thought or desire from, the honorable members in the Ministerial corner, and it is, therefore, -of no use to appeal to £hem ; but I do appealto those who sit behind the Government. The Government have brought down a Tariff for a certain purpose. .It is intended to create work for the people of Australia. The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Marks) hurls at ‘us the accusation that we are against immigration. We are against immigration while there are Australians unemployed. I would rather spread the expenditure of £40,000 or £50,000 per year which is to be spent on immigration amongst the mothers of Australia, and increase the maternity allowance. It would be better for Australia to have immigration in the good old-fashioned way.
– There is not one member of the Country party who was npt born in Australia..
– Then they are a. disgrace to Australia. They have not one Australian thought or ‘ sentiment amongst them. It appears to be useless to appeal even to the supporters of the Government, because the Minister himself (Mr. Greene) has slipped on a division of ‘the Tariff under which we could have given to Australia something that was really worth, going for. I am surprised at his attitude. I did think that’ when a fight was put up on a proposal of this sort we would get some consideration. The Minister said - and, although he was entitled to adduce it as an argument, ‘ it is still very- debatable- that if we imposed a deferred duty it might bring into existence certain manufacturers who would not be able to make on a large enough scale, but who having put money into the industry, would say, “We can manufacture here, and we want the trade.” I am. willing to admit that this is not a small man’s game, and we do not ask the Minister “to bring the duty into operation just because some man- says he can make 100 motor cars per year. Nobody asks for that. The honorable member for Wentworth spoke about turning out one motor car’ a minute. There is no need to aim at that in Australia at present, but . there would be money in the manufacture of. cars in Australia for any man who could get a trade of 10,000 a year. We import about 26,000, and if we could make 25,00.0 of them- here they would meet all our requirements. The men who want RollsRoyce and cither expensive cars could pay for the remaining 1,00.0, and I would not care what -.they were charged for them. I want to see motor cars manufactured in. Australia, but not in the way depicted by the honorable member for Robertson, and not for £60 or £95 each, under conditions which we do not desire, and which the honorable member describes as obtaining in the Ford works. We have mentioned £250 per car as a fair price. All the arguments that have been adduced against our proposal are Free Trade arguments from start to finish, and how the Minister so far forgot himself as to take up his present attitude, when’ he is a member of a . Protectionist Government, I cannot understand.
– The Acting Prime Minister, who is sitting at the table, explains the mystery.
– I do not charge the Acting Prime Minister with being the cause of the trouble. I presume the Government as a whole are concerned -in the Tariff, which is their responsibility, and not wholly the responsibility of the Minister for Trade and Customs. We have made out a good case, and have’ asked, not for an immediate, but for a deferred, duty. The only legitimate argument advanced against it came from the Minister for Trade and Customs himself, . but we are not asking him to bring the duty- into operation unless, after the expiration of two or three years, there is evidence that cars can be produced in tbis country ‘in sufficient quantities to warrant it. Unless that evidence is forthcoming, I do not want the duty applied, nor does any other honorable member on this side. If we can get- evidence’ that the machines can be produced in Australia to a reasonable extent, then the duty ought at once to operate. It seems hopeless to expect the Minister to give way, but he is a young man, and the time will arrive when he will regret that he neglected the opportunity to help forward this one great industry by which he might have made a name for himself.
.- - I was struck by the Minister’s remark that there would have to-be four types of car. I was present at the Government Farm at Werribee when the Victorian Government gave a trial for all motor tractors run with the internal combustion engine, and on that occasion Jelbart, of Ballarat, beat three American and two Australian firms. That maker has reached that standard with a protection of 27½ per cent. British, 35 per cent, intermediate, And 40 per cent, general, under item 177. The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) is simply- asking on this item for a little increase on those rates, to operate at the end of two years. Let us see what the two most up-to-date nations in Tariff matters have done in connexion with. motor cars. At page 871 of The Tariffs of the World, I find that the United States of America impose a duty oh automobiles of 45 per cent, ad valorem. In the Japanese Tariff, automobiles* are dutiable at 50 per cent, ad valorem. It has been said that we have not the population to provide the’ requisite market for an industry of this kind. We were told not many years ago that we could not play cricket, and - that we should have to- pit a team of twenty-two against an English eleven. The answer to that statement is to be found almost daily in the press reports of the doings of the Australian eleven at Home. And so [ would urge that, ‘ even if we have not at presentthe population to support this industry, we should set to work to establish it irrespective of whether or not we shall have to pay more for our motor cars until it is placed on a sound footing. Let us obtain from overseas the most skilled motor mechanics, and commence operations. I have shown that two great nations, where the manufacture of motor cars is ‘a firmly established industry, consider it necessary still to impose high Protective duties on automobiles. I compliment the” present Government on the fact that it is the first in either State or Federal history to provide for deferred duties,, so that the manufacturers of the world may know that if they set up new industries here, they will be “ protected. The Acting Prime Minister (Sir Joseph Cook) jocularly interjected that these proposed deferred duties should not come, into operation until 1931, but I am sure that he would like to see the industry established before then, and I suggest that the Government should agree to the duties coming into operation five years hence.
– I do not think there is an industry that the Parliament would rather protect- than this if it could be shown that there was a chance, of establishing it on a paying basis.
– I am sure that is so; but unfortunately little technical differences divide us. I hope that the Minister will agree to. the deferred duties proposed by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) coming into operation, if not in 1923, at all events five years hence.
– I appreciate the splendid Australian spirit that has prompted my colleagues to support the imposition - of these deferred duties, and I believe that they have a sincere desire to see the industry established in Australia. I also am anxious that it shall be- established here, but I am doubtful whether the action taken by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony)- in proposing that the higher rates of duty shall come into operation on 1st July, 1923, is judicious. We have already set up iri Australia the industry of motor-body making, and it is an exceedingly valuable asset, since it gives employment to a very large number of our oitizens. It is just possible, however, that, as the result of the passing of these deferred duties, the trade depression and unemployment existing in the motor-body making industry to-day will recur again in twelve months because of the necessity for ordering chassis many months in advance, and the sense of insecurity to which1 the fixing of such a period would give rise.’ I learn from the official organization of the employees that’, at the present time, 2,000 of them are unemployed. This lack of employment, I am informed, has been duc to some extent to the uncertainty as to what might be done by the Parliament in regard to the duties on chassis, and if we are going to provide that, in 1923, high duties shall operate, we may bring about a recurrence of this depression in the trade,I am sure -that my honorable friends who support the amendment have no such desire. If they agreed that the deferred duties should not come into operation for a period of five years, their object would be met, while at the same time there would be a greater feeling of security on the part of the manu facturers and those employed in the motor-body industry.
– Who can say what, alterations may not be made in the Tariff within the next five years?
– No one can say what either this or the next ‘Parliament may do ; but, in dealing with the Tariff, my desire has always been to try to give effect to requests mado to me by the official organizations of the employees in any industry affected by it. I recognise thatas my first duty in this Parliament as a representative of the workers. Where I am not advised by the unions in the respective industries, I have consistently supported the protection of Australian industries. Whilst I shall be reluctantly obliged to vote against the duty which it is proposed to make operative two years hence, I shall be prepared to support a duty that would afford encouragement and protection, to come into force, say, in five years’ time. This would give a reasonable period for those interested in this and allied trades to determine the prospect of . chassis being manufactured commercially. I believe that this industry should be established in Australia, and if there has. been one argument advanced in favour of fostering it, it was the argument put forward by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene), concerning the price which is being charged for chassis by the manufacturers of, America. The information with which I have been supplied by the representatives! of. the workers is that there is a grave doubt as. to whether these motor chassis could be manufactured cemmercially in Australia at- the present moment. In all the circumstances a duty deferred for five’ years is preferable to a duty which will - become operative in two years.
.- I do not know what prompted the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr: Mathews) to make an attack upon the members of the Country party. It struckme that he was a Daniel come to judgment. Whilst he was speaking of the unemployment in Australia, I could not help wondering what efforts he and his party made to remedy the evils flowing from unemployment when the Broken Hill mines closed down, when thousands of men were thrown out of work, and the country suffered a loss of millions of pounds. We’ have merely to. look at the records of the motor-car industry in the Commonwealth to realize that if we allow chassis to be admitted free, employment in the motor-body industry will be provided for a much greater number of persons than are employed in it to-day. At the present time we have to pay for a buggy in Australia almost as much as people in America are required to pay for a motor car. The figures supplied to us by the Federal Council of Motor Traders set out the number of motor cars in Canada, as compared with the number in this country. They show that, in Canada^ there are 403,111 motor cars registered, as against 65,000 registered in Australia. In other words, Canada, with only 30 per cent, more population, possesses 500 per cent, more motor cars than we do. Why should we not be able to purchase motor cars in this country at something like a reasonable price? I exceedingly regret that the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Story) was allowed to withdraw his amendment. I hope that in another place better judgment will be exhibited in dealing with this matter, and that, as a result, motor chassis will be admitted free. If Australia possessed the number of motor cars that is possessed by Canada, look at the tens of thousands of additional people who would be employed here. The honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) spoke of the high duty which is operative in J apan. But has there been one factory established in that country for the manufacture of these chassis ? Not one.
– How does the honorable member know that?
– Because I have the information. The Japanese. Government is actually paying a subsidy for every motor car in the country which would be available for service in time of war. I hope that the Committee will refuse to countenance this proposal in any shape or form.
Mr. MAHONY (Dalley^ [10.2].- The whole of the speeches delivered by honorable members opposite have really been in favour of the establishment of this industry in Australia, and of making it possible for motor vehicles to be manu- factured here, so that they may be U3ed in many avenues in which they are not being used to-day. If we are ever to make Australia great, we must make it a selfcontained nation.
– We must get the people here.
– And the way to get the people here is to establish our industries. In the absence of industries what is the use of talking about, population? What is the use of industries unless they are organized, so that they may provide employment for our people? The idea of bringing people to Australia, and of turning them upon the streets to starve, is an utterly ridiculous one. The members of the Country party have always argued that we can do nothing in Australia. Unless it has been a matter of growing potatoes, or of raising pigs, they have consistently maintained that no industry should be established in the Commonwealth. Do we not remember how these gentlemen ridiculed the idea of establishing an Australian Navy? They said that it was not possible to do it. Yet, when the war broke out, the Australian Navy proved a great protection to this country. No one would suggest that this industry can immediately be established on as big a scale in Australia as it is on in America, but some inducement ought to be held out to persons to establish it here, with protection against the. unfair competition of the rest of the world.
– Why is the competition “ unfair “ ?
– The industry is well established and highly organized in other countries, with unlimited .capital at its command, and the moment it is started here, foreign competitors will, in the absence of adequate protection, swamp and undersell those who have engaged in it here. The firms now sending their cars to Australia would, with Protection, establish works here ; and they . are - the very people we desire. The Minister ought to give some assurance to such people that if they do start factories in Australia’., they will be accorded fair and reasonable, protection. If the honorable gentleman will do so, I shall not press my amendment to a division. The amendment is intended as an indication to manufacturers of chassis that they will be given every encouragement here.
– I do not know that I can give, that assurance.
– Surely the Minister is prepared to extend some encouragement?
– If . any firms were to intimate that they intended to establish the industry on a sufficiently large scale, I have not the slightest doubt that Parliament would protect them ; more than that I cannot say.
– The Minister means, I suppose, that if any firms are prepared to meet the requirements of Australia, he is prepared to extend them fair and reasonable protection?
– That is a matter for Parliament, not for me.
– The Minister ought not to quibble on such a question ; surely he believes in encouraging the establishment of industries?
– I cannot give any more assurance than that I have already given.
– Will the honorable gentleman say that, as Minister for Trade and Customs, he is sympathetic, and personally will do all he can to assist in the direction I have indicated ?
– Nothing would please me better than to see this industry established on sound commercial lines in this country.
– On the understanding that the Minister is sympathetic, and will do what he can to promote the establishment of the industry, I ask leave to withdraw -my amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Item-, as amended, agreed to.
Item 360 (Vehicles n.e.i.) agreed to. division xv.- musical instruments.
Musical instruments, parts of, and accessories - ‘
Actions in separate parts except keyboards; strings; felts and felting; hammers and ivories;, handles and hinges for pianos; violin mutes and chin rests; holders for attaching to band or orchestral instruments; piano player and similar records for render ing music by mechanical process, ad val., . British, tree; intermediate, t> per cent.; general, 10 per -cent.
Amendment (by Mr. Greene) proposed -
That after the word “ process,” the following words be added: - “as prescribed by departmental by-laws.”
.- I was going to move that the words’ “ except keyboards “ in this item be left out. Tho effect of that would be to permit keyboards to come in under, the duty proposed for this item. Keyboards are dutiable under a later item, and a consequential amendment would have to be made in that item if they are inserted in this. The keyboard is a material part of every piano, but keyboards are not made in Australia, except by Beale’s, in Sydney. The manufacture of keyboards is in other countries a specialized industry, and they are made in one factory for all the different kinds of pianos. They are, of course, made in different patterns, because all pianos have slightly different keyboards. It has been proved by manufacturers of pianos in Germany, England, and America that itis not economical for the factory manufacturing pianos to also manufacture keyboards. I have said that they are manufactured in Australia only by Beale, in Sydney, and he manufactures them only for his own pianos, and does not supply the general trade. Though it may suit Mr. Beale to make his own keyboards, that does not alter the fact that if a duty, has to be paid on keyboards it can only have the effect of increasing the price of other pianos, and must tend to give Mr. Beale a higher rate of protection than I think the Committee would be willing to grant him because of this one item. The increase in the cost of pianos in the last few years has been enormous. A few years ago pianos that could be produced forbetween £20 and £25 were selling for about £50. Now it is impossible to obtain in . Australia even an ordinary piano under about £120. This is an instrument which we should desire to put into the homes of ‘ all our people. There are 20,000 or 30,000 teachers of music who must have pianos, and it must be admitted that the prices a.t present charged for them are altogether too high. …
– Where do the keyboardscome from?.
– From England and America.
– Can we not make them here?
– They are not made here, except by one firm.
– Why cannot other manufacturers of pianos do what Beale is doing, and manufacture their own keyboards?
– Because it will not pay.
– How does it pay Beale?
– He manufactures only one kind of piano, and he has the benefit of such a tremendous duty now that he can charge what price he pleases.
– That should apply to all other local manufacturers of pianos.
– I have said that manufacturers of pianos in other countries do not consider it economical to manufacture keyboards, and their manufacture is carried on as a separate industry.
– The honorable member desires that we should get the keyboards we require from some other part. of the world.
– That is so.
– The Beale piano is the best I have seen.
– That is a matter of taste. The old adage, Be gustibus non est disputandum, appi es to pianos perhaps more than to anything else. In these matters of art there is no accounting^ for taste. In 1908, the duty on a piano, costing at the factory £20, was 25 per cent., or £5 10s. In 1911, the duty was 35 per cent., or £7 14s.; in 1914, it was 40 per cent., or £8 16s. To-day the same class of piano in all respects costs at the factory £50 instead of £20, and is dutiable at the rate of 45 per cent., or £26 15s. Owing to the adverse rate of exchange, the duty is really considerably higher than’ that. The rate- of duty imposed under the general Tariff is the most important consideration in this matter, because the majority of our pianos are imported from America. During the war, the manufacture of pianos in England practically ceased, because the factories were devoted to other purposes. The English manufacturers of pianos to-day are not able, to supply the demand for instruments here, because they cannot even supply the demand in England. The policy of the Government to impose a preferential duty is a right policy, and should tend to restore to England some of the trade which it lost during the war, and which was gained by America. At present the increased costs upon these items are very large. In regard to keyboards I submit that on all the facts there is no justification for a duty of 40 or 45 per cent. There is only one piano manufacturer in Australia who makes these actions, and he does so only for himself, to be attached to his own. type of piano: He will not supply any one outside. It cannot be said, therefore, that keyboards are made in Australia for the trade, in the ordinary sense of that term. Thus, this is not a protective but a revenue duty, and it is a great hindrance to those new firms which have launched upon the assembling of piano, parts. Since, in order to effect my purpose it. will be necessary for me to move a prior amendment to that of the Minister, I ask if he will consent to temporarily withdraw his.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn accordingly.
Amendment (by Mr. Bowden) proposed -
That the following words be added : - “And on and after 1st July, 1921 - Musical instruments, parts of, and accessories - Actions in separate parts, keyboards ; strings ; fe ts and felting; hammers and ivories; handles and hinges for pianos; violin mutes and chin’ rests; holders for attaching to band or orchestral instruments; piano player and similar records for rendering music by mechanical process, ad val., British, free; intermediate, 5 per cent.; general. 10 per cent.
.- I hope the Committee will not agree to the amendment. We have the piano manufacturing industry started in Australia. The firm of Beale and Company has invested a largesum of money in the enterprise, ‘and is able to manufacture its own keyboards.
– For itself only.
– If it is possible for these people to be able to produce that accessory for their own instrument, it is possible for other firms to do the same.
If, in order to enable assembling firms to become established we kill an already well-established piano-manufacturing industry, our policy will be a very bad one. Messrs. Beale and Company have shown that the manufacture of keyboards in Australia is practicable, and they turn out an excellent action. Large . numbers of employees are in constant work tinder conditions and at rates of wages which are well up to the standard.
ri0.30].- The current duty on pianos is 30, 40, and 45 per cent. Those rates are not quite as high as were recommended by the InterState Commission. I shall take a later opportunity of informing the Committee of my reasons for not adopting the proposals of that body in their entirety. If an Australian manufacturer is prepared to make keyboards for his own instruments, he is entitled to protection by way of the same rates of duty upon those parts as. is carried by a whole piano.
– Even though he will not supply keyboards to any one else?
– Certainly ! It is open to any other manufacturer to make his own keyboards. If the assemblers feel that the duty is weighing heavily upon them, and if they are not prepared to manufacture their own keyboards,” there is nothing to prevent- them from doing what is done in other countries, namely, to establish a factory devoted entirely to the manufacture of keyboards. That would be a simple way out of their difficulty - if they are experiencing a difficulty. Messrs. Beale and Company, of Sydney, are the only people who manufacture keyboards in Australia at present. They have successfully established their industry, and they turn out a large number of completed instruments every year. They have invested considerable sums in their plant, and their enterprise is being carried on most effectively, In justice, the firm should be entitled to the same protection on the special portion of the piano which it alone rnakes as in regard -to a piano imported complete. If a piano comes in complete, «we impose a duty upon its keyboard: and I cannot See why, if’ a person imports a keyboard separately from a piano, it should be permitted to come in free. -of duty, I do not feel’ disposed, therefore, to agree to the -amendment.
.- This is the first time in the course of the discussion upon the Tariff that honorable members have heard an open admission from the Minister (Mr. Greene) that duties are- being imposed for the purpose of aiding a monopoly. ‘ Everything that the Minister has’ just said reveals that the duty under consideration is for the purpose of helping a firm which holds a monopoly of the manufacture of keyboards.
– But it is not a closed monopoly.
– The firm makes these actions entirely for itself, and will not sell them to any other Australian company.
– There is nothing to prevent other people from doing the same. This is no monopoly.
– Others may not be in’ a position to make keyboards for themselves. Messrs. Beale and Company, therefore, hold a monopoly at the present time.
– The honorable member’s interpretation of a monopoly differs from mine.
– No one knows better than the Minister that there are dozens of people engaged in piano assembling, and that there are several firms which manufacture pianos in Australia. Messrs. Beale and Company are the only people, I repeat, who’ make keyboards, and they do so solely for their own purposes. In the circumstances, I do not think it fair.
– Will they not place them on the market?
– They are selling pianos, but not keyboards. Wertheim’s import their keyboards. Beale’s are making their own keyboards in Australia and use them in the pianos they manufacture; but other manufacturers of pianos have to import the keyboards, they require. Wertheim’s manufacture a large number of the pianos used in Australia.
– Why do not Wert.heim’s manufacture their own keyboards?
– I do not know. Perhaps they have not the necessary machinery; or are not inclined to enter into the business. If a manufacturer is in a small way, it may not pay him to install the plant necessary to undertake work . of this character, although it would pay him to manufacture other portions of a piano.
– Who are the large manufacturers who do not make keyboards?
– Wertheim’s are large manufacturers in Australia; and I was hoping I would have an opportunity of visiting their factory, so that I would be able to discuss this question with more information, but unfortunately I have not had the opportunity. Certain parts included in item 361 are admitted free, and at a duty of 30 per cent., to encourage the manufacture of pianos in Australia. The Beale firm are somewhat in advance of the others, and are making their own keyboards, but only for their own use. If they were prepared to supply the market I could understand a duty being imposed, but the firm are not prepared to do that. Surely it is unfair to act in this direction, because it is only assisting a monopoly.
– If Beale’s manufactured keyboards for the trade it would still be a monopoly.
– It -would be until other manufacturers undertook the work. It would be establishing an industry for supplying the requirements of the people of Australia, whereas in this instance Beale’s are manufacturing only for their own requirements. I intend to support the amendment to strike out the word “ except,” because I do not think we ahould impose a high duty on . keyboards. When we discuss ‘pianos we will be dealing with ad valorem duties, and as the Minister knows, prices are at least 200 per cent, or 300 per cent, higher than they were in pre-war days; so that an ad valorem duty now is totally different from what it was in 1908 and 1914, when certain duties, were imposed. I trust the Minister will- agree to accept the amendment if this firm is not prepared to manufacture for the trade.
.- The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) asked, by interjection, why Wertheim’s did not manufacture key boards for their own requirements. I understand that before a plant installed for this purpose could be a commercial success, from 7,000 to 10,000 keyboards would have to be manufactured. Although Beale’s manufacture keyboards at present, I would be surprised to learn that the manufacture of this particular portion of an instrument is a financial success. An output such as that I have mentioned is necessary, and I think it will be admitted that at present that is impracticable. If one firm is manufacturing keyboards to meet its own requirements, I do not see why the whole of the Australian trade should be penalized. I trust the Committee will agree to the amendment I have moved.
Amendment (by. Mr. Greene) agreed to-
That after the word “ process “ the following words be added : - “ as prescribed by departmental by-laws.”
Item as amended, agreed to.
Item 362 (Military band and orchestral instrument), item 363 (Metal pipes for pipe organs), and item 364 (Organs, pipe) agreed to.
Motion (by Sir Joseph Cook), by leave, agreed to -
That leave of absence for one month be granted to the honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page), on the ground of ill-health.
Darwin: Imprisonment op Tax Resisters : Parliamentary Representation : Ordinance - Intimidation of Member - Dismissal of Parliamentary Attendant.
Motion (by Sir Joseph Cook) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I desire to bring under the notice of the Acting Prime . Minister (Sir Joseph Cook) the following telegrams, which have been sent to me from Darwin. They indicate a very unsatisfactory state of affairs, and I take this opportunity of placing them before the House in the hope that -they will receive consideration by the Government. The first telegram is as follows: -
Leader Labour party, Melbourne, Victoria.
Enthusiastic overflowing public meeting, Town Hall,1 Monday night, convened by Roberts, Crown Prosecutor, recent income tax cases. Doctor Hill, President Returned Soldiers’ Imperial League, clergy Anglican, Methodist, Catholic churches, Darwin local representative Burns Phil p. Mayor presided. Motion carried, eleven dissentients. “ No. 1. We de-. maud imprisoned residents be released at once. No. 2. Cessation persecution by Governmentmen, women, children owing refusal pay taxes. No. 3. Full representation granted Northern Territory.” Orderly meeting terminated giving three cheers imprisoned men and the fight for birthrights. Roberts moved hearty vote thanks mayor. Carried acclamation. (Signed) Gibson, Standard, Darwin.
– They are out of gaol.
– I am glad to hear that. The second wire is as follows: -
Leader Labour party, Federal Parliament House, Melbourne.
In pursuance Darwin Town Council Ordinance No. 7 of 1915, annual electoral nominations due second Saturday June. Ordinance strictly observed, two councillors retired, two nominations received, declared elected. Two days later Government Secretary notified Town Clerk Government had amended original Ordinance but not yet gazetted here, that number one setting aside elections previous Saturday without reasons, number two extending life retiring eftiuxional councillors September, likewise without reason. . Composition council three nominated Government, four elected residential franchise. Comments : Government nominee system always been adversely criticised but apart legal aspect elected councillors absolutely refuse become marionettes administration for extended period council. Furthermore investigations disclose three irresponsible residents interviewed Minister Poynton prior departure, apparently Minister overjoyed, received only indication quasi warmth while Darwin acquiesced granting irresponsibles wild-cat. Council disfranchisement scheme further widen breach between residents and Government. Present maximum general rates two shillings unimproved capital value understand amended Ordinance reads, one shilling maximum, thereby making improvements upkeep town difficult, further harass residents. Poynton altered Ordinance exempting wealthy Eastern Extension Cable Company paying rates any land acquired but does not specify when land be utilized allowing possibility purchases be speculative nature. Company been purchasing land recently which land Council formerly paying rates. This means that between Government and cable company. 24 per cent; original surveyed freehold town land exempted rates. No Town Council could carry on if system extended, soon become bankrupt. Why does not Federal Government straightout declare discourage small employer or White Australian Northern Territory? Ask Minister table House Town Council’s two telegrams.’ Reply date Parliament prorogues. Acknowledge.
These matters appear to be of vital importance to the inhabitants of Darwin, who have held largely attended meetings’, at which exception has been taken to the grievances mentioned in the telegram. I again ask the Acting Prime Minister to give to these complaints early consideration. -
.- After the dinner-hour last night I thought it my duty to report to the Committee that I had been threatened at the door of the chamber in connexion with a vote I had given earlier in the day. Later in the evening I mentioned the name of one of the press representatives in the building as the offender. I have since had an interview . with that gentleman, and he has assured me that he spoke to me only in a, jocular way. I have no desire to do an” injustice to any man, and as this man has made an explanation that is satisfactory to me, and tendered an apology, I, too, am prepared to regard the incident as a joke, and hope that nothing more will be heard of it.
.- I was in the vicinity at the time of the incident to which the honorable member for Henty has referred, and I had been chaffing the journalist named in connexion with a vote on the Tariff that had taken me. entirely by surprise. I was under the impression that the remarks which he made to the honorable member for Henty were intended jocularly, and I was surprised to learn afterwards that the honorable member had regarded them otherwise.
– I can indorse what has been said by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) in regard to the condition of affairs at Darwin, and I hope that, in the spirit of generosity and good temper which is prevailing at the present time, the Acting Prime Minister will see his way to postpone the prosecutions, at any rate, until the return of the Minister for Home and Territories (Mr. Poynton). I am sure that if that is done the Minister will assure the Government that the people at Darwin are merely fighting for British liberty.
There is a more urgent matter pertaining to an officer of the House, and I regret the necessity for having to mention it. Honorable members may recollect that the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Fleming) moved, some time ago, for the appointment of a Select Committee to consider the Public Service Act in relation to officers of this building. One of the officers is a civil-spoken lad, who volunteered to fight in the war, but was rejected.
– He is a married man.
– At any rate, he has a mother to support. During the influenza epidemic this lad compulsorily underwent inoculation, as the result of which he has suffered injury,, because the after effects of serum treatment are not yet firmly established and known. At any rate, for nine months this young man had to attend regularly at the hospital for the treatment of his arm, and now he has received notice that he is no longer to be employed in the service of this Parliament. I am afraid that the President of the Senate has a vendetta against him.’ I know that this young man was accused of having used certain words towards Mr. Broinowski, a Senate officer, and although there were two officers, of this Parliament prepared to swear that the accusation was not correct, he was fined £2 2s.,. which amount he had to pay. I do not know what was ‘ done with the money, but if this officer of the Senate was a’ man he would not have taken it.: However, I am afraid that the President’s vendetta has been carried on. I would deeply regret the President taking advantage of the power placed in bis hands. I could not understand such action on the part of a man I have loved.
– The honorable member is not in order in reflecting on any action taken by the President of the Senate.
– Unfortunately, sir, the Speaker, whose position you occupy, and who is the co-equal of the President of the Senate, cannot be consulted through illness ; but I think that if this young man is dismissed in this way, it will be a dis-‘ grace to this Parliament.
.’ - My information’ in regard to the Ordinance passed in connexion with the Eastern -Extension Company is that, under the terms of the original contract made with that company many years ago, they are exempted from the payment, of rates and taxes .on any land they may occupy for the purpose of their business in .Darwin, and that the Ordinance in question has been passed in pursuance of that contract.
– But it is said that the effect is that 24 per cent, of the whole of the rateable land cannot be taxed. Surely they cannot hold so much land as that?
– The company has acquired two further blocks in Darwin, and under the terms of their contract these blocks become exempt from taxation. If taxes are to be gathered by the Darwin Town Council upon this land, it will only mean that the money will have to be voted on our Estimates, and repaid to the company under the terms of their agreement. The Ordinance has been passed to avoid the need for doing this.
In regard to the composition of the Darwin Town Council, we have been hearing a great deal lately from people up there, but a good many of the telegrams emanate, not from the council, but from the mayor of Darwin.
– My telegram came from the editor of the paper .there.
– It is from the mayor, through his town clerk, that most of these lucubrations are distributed over this Continent, causing all this hubbub. It is not the council that is doing it.
– If we were up there we would both of us be in it.
– We would not be in it. Up there they talk about being compelled to pay taxes without having representation. Do honorable . members know that there is not a single taxpayer on the Darwin Town Council? The taxpayers are outside paying their taxes. They have no representation on the council. The very thing is in practical operation among themselves that they are thundering against every day down here. They say down here that they will go to prison rather than pay taxes without re- presentation. Up there there is not a single taxpayer on the council.
– But the. taxpayers elect the council.
– No. There is adult suffrage in Darwin for the election of the Town Council, with the result that there is not a single taxpayer on that body. While they are preaching one thing down here, they are practising exactly the opposite up there. That is the anomaly. The point is that those who pay the taxes there have no hand in spending them. There is a good deal of comic opera in progress in Darwin, though sometimes it develops into a little tragedy.
– Will the right honorable gentleman say something about the position of those who are in prison?
– I saw the other day that three of them had been let out.
– There are still some of them in gaol.
– Those who have been let out are advising every one else to go to gaol, because they had tie time of their lives in prison. As long as they are being treated as they are, we shall find them going to gaol. However, we ought not to pay too much attention to the spluttering and hubbub going on at Darwin. There is not very much that is serious behind it all. I hope the Minister for Home and Territories (Mr. Poynton) will .soon be back in Melbourne, to enable us to clear up the whole thing, and enable a fresh start to be made in that very unhappy place, which seems to be giving bo much trouble to every one.
– Before I put the motion, I desire to make a few remarks in reply to some of the statements of the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney), concerning the President of ‘the Senate. This House has to take a certain amount of responsibility for ‘ whatever is done to any person in the employment of the Joint House Com:mittee. and as honorable members did me the honour of conferring on me full powers during the absence of Mr. Speaker (Sir Elliot Johnson), I have made myself acquainted, though not fully, with what transpired at the meeting of the Joint House Committee which led to the notification to one of the employees of Parliament that his services would be no longer required. I am making other investigations into that matter, and shall be able to give a further statement in regard to the action taken by the members of this House who were on the Committee.
– How many have we on that body?
-It is a joint Committee, on which the two Houses are equally represented.
As to the statement made by the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Francis), officially I have not been informed of anything that happened. It is impossible for me to say that I did not hear something, but, officially, nothing has been reported to me from the Committee, and I can ‘ take no cognisance of what happens in Committee unless the Committee reports it to me, and asks for my decision thereon. I have, however, taken certain action, and I ask honorable members to assist me. and the officers in this matter. I have instructed the officers of the House to keep the whole of the lobbies absolutely free to members only. If members desire to be interviewed, or to interview their constituents, there is one reception room available. I admit that it does not offer sufficient accommodation, but I hope shortly to be able to provide further accommodation for the purpose. It is in the interests of members themselves that they should assist me and the officers by not bringing any person who is not a member of the House into any of the lobbies, particularly those which open off this Chamber. I hope that arrangement will be observed in the future. If it is, then the complaint which has recently been made, and which we all deplore, need not occur again.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.7 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 30 June 1921, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1921/19210630_reps_8_96/>.