8th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Hon. J. M. Chanter) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
Reported Resignation op Members - Dismissal of Lift Attendant.
– I desire to a3k you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, whether there is any truth in the rumour that several members of the House Committee have resigned on account of certain action taken yesterday by that Committee?
– I have no knowledge of the resignation of any member of the House Committee, but will make inquiries, and advise the honorable member.
– Will you, sir, instruct me as to what course I should follow to prevent a threatened injustice to an employee in this building; who, in my humble opinion, is to be most cruelly and unjustly deprived of his means of livelihood.
– Order !
– As it is a serious matter, I appeal to you, sir, to inform me as to the procedure I should follow to prevent this injustice being done.
– If the honorable member will place before me any definite facts with which I can deal in my capacity as Acting Speaker, I shall do so.
– I desire to tender my resignation as a member of the Joint House Committee, and, in order to save time, I ask leave to make a statement. . (Leave granted.)
I find my position as, a member of the House Committee anything but a pleasant one. The Committee is a Committee in name only, because its members have no power. I find that a young man who has been employed in the capacity of lift attendant in this building for the past ten or fifteen years has been given notice of dismissal. During that period he has been courteous to every honorable member, and most assiduous in the perform- ance of his duties. But he has now been discharged, under the pretext that there is no room for him. The real trouble is that, some time ago, when the Wages Board increased the wages of lift attendants, he made an application for the increase. He was so insistent that the authorities here had to grant his application. Since then he has been a marked man. This is proved by the fact that when other officers of this Parliament were granted a bonus last Christmas he was not permitted to participate in it. As a result he saw his superior, officer, to whom he stated that he. had been robbed of the bonus. For having made that statement he was fined £2. Upon four or five occasions this young man attempted to enlist for active service abroad. He was obliged to subject himself to inoculation because of certain epidemics in’ Australia, with the result that to-day one of his hands- is maimed. . We are now casting him adrift, and .1 refuse to remain upon a Committee which allows that sort of thing to be done.
– May I ask whether you, sir, as Deputy Speaker, will ascertain the facts of this case, and inform the House of them next week?
– The matter to which the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) has» allude was referred to last night, upon the motion’ for adjournment, by the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney). I then promised that I would make full inquiries into it, and inform the House of the result of those inquiries at a later stage. I have not yet had an opportunity of conferring with the President of the* Senate and the members of tha House Committee upon the subject, but I shall do so at the earliest possible opportunity.
– A statement appeared in the press yesterday that the Deputy Leader of the Labour party (Mr. Ryan) had received a communication asking that a nomination for appointment to tha Board .of Trade should.be sent to the Government by him. I wish to a3k the Minister for Trade and Customswhether such a letter has been, sent, and, if appointments to the Board of Trade are to be of a political character, why. an invitation to make a nomination has not been received by the Country party?
– I have no knowledge of such a letter having been sent. Board of Trade matters are under the direct control of the President of the Board (Senator Russell). As a member of the Board of Trade, however, I know that it is intended to associate with the Board a direct representative of the workers, but the appointment is not meant to be in any sense a political one. We are anxious also to fill a vacancy on the Board caused by the resignation of Mr. McRae, president of the Primary Producers’ Association of New South Wales, as a represent tative of the primary producers. If the honorable member, as Deputy Leader of the Country party, can suggest to the Government the name of an. individual who would be prepared to act in that capacity on the Board we should be pleased to receive it, since we are very anxious that a satisfactory appointment shall be made.
– We would prefer that a request to make a nomination be sent to the recognised organization.
– We desire to obtain the best assistance so that we may make the most suitable appointment.
– You want a man who is representative of the whole of the primary producers?
Strangers in the House Corridors.
– As a matter of privilege, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I direct attention to the fact that the corridors immediately adjoining the chamber are continually filled with disputants as to matters before this House to the great inconvenience of honorable members passing to and from it. I complained of this in Committee on Wednesday evening, but there is no improvement, and I should be very glad if you would use your influence to insure the observance of the rules of the House in this regard.
– I mentioned last night that I had instructed the officers of the House to keep the corridors absolutely free to members only, and I called upon honorable members to assist the officers of the House by not introducing non-members into the corridors.
– Has the attention of the Postmaster-General been called to the fact that great discrepancies and inaccuracies in telegraph messages are constantly occurring, and that it is exceptional to receive a telegram that is literally correct. If this has not been brought under the honorable gentleman’s notice, I ask him to make inquiries, and to ascertain whether, having regard to the grave importance of literal accuracy, capable persons cannot be employed in the interpretation of telegraph messages?
– I shall do so.
Speech by Prime Minister: Newspaper Reports of Proceedings.
– I desire to ask the Acting Prime Minister whether he has observed that, although it is stated in the press that no official report of the proceedings of the Imperial Conference on Wednesday has yet been supplied, there nevertheless appears in to-day’s newspapers a long report, in which we are told that the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) made a smashing rejoinder to the speech made by the Prime Minister of Canada? As no official report has been supplied to the press, are we to understand that this report has been inspired by the Prime Minister of Australia?
– It is a pity, when a representative of Australia is doing his best to forward its interests, that people here should be picking and pawing at him in this way. It seems to me to be a pretty contemptible piece of business.
– Is the report official ?
– Will the honorable member make his own inquiries? He knows as much about the matter as I do. I should say, however, that the Prime Minister’s bitterest enemies will not deny that at this moment overseas he is doing splendid work for the Empire.
– That is what they do not like.
– I suppose that is what is’ making my honorable friend opposite so angry; he does not l:ke to see the Prime Minister doing so well.
Lack of Freights
– Is the Acting Prime Minister aware that Australian flour millers have received large orders from Britain for flour, but are unable to obtain freights? Does he not think that this is strange, seeing that the vessels of the Commonwealth line and others are laid up for lack of cargoes? Will he endeavour to see that if other vessels are not available, the Commonwealth, liners are used to convey this flour to the consumers in Great Britain?
– I shall be very glad to make inquiries.
– Last night the Acting Leader of the Opposition asked some questions and read some telegrams in regard to the Northern Territory. The honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) has also taken this matter into his cognisance. I should like, therefore, to read a reply which I have received from the Administrator of the Territory in reference to the particular meeting to which allusion has been made. It is in the form of a telegram, which is as follows: -
Yours to-day. Gibson’s telegram shameless distortion of true situation. For information of Acting Prime Minister I wire extracts from account of meeting in last Tuesday’s Northern Territory Times.
We have had one newspaper quoted here, and the Northern Territory Times is the other newspaper which is published iu Darwin. But, whereas in the case of the former the editor himself telegraphed the information, the Administrator of the Territory has telegraphed this statement : -
The largely attended meeting in the’ Town Hall last night, called by leading residents, including the heads of the local churches, cer- tainly aimed at a most worthy and desirable object, but the proceedings throughout were interrupted and frustrated by the organized mob of hoodlums that invariably get busy when anything for the benefit of the Territory is being undertaken.
– The author .of that statement ought to be upon the Argus staff.
– The honorable member wishes to hear both sides, I suppose? The telegram continues -
The object of the meeting was to explain the contents of a petition in favour of representation and the franchise, and asking for the cessation of prosecutions for over-due taxes, to enable the Government to give a promise in that direction, and the debtors to realize that their ends were thus being attained without any further loss and suffering; but the cabal that uses its poor dupes for any and every purpose saw fit to bludgeon the effort, notwithstanding that they so loudly boast about that liberty and justice which they appear to be willing to extend only to themselves.
As an exhibition of suicidal madness, not to speak of hypocritical exposure, it would be hard to surpass the shameful procedure of last night. No wonder the people of the South are cold towards our legitimate demands, and that Darwin is suffering accordingly.
The despotism and knavery, as well as unscrupulous manipulation, which are in evidence here, were unfortunately exemplified to the fullest extent on the occasion in question.
All the skill of the Black Hand gang had been brought to bear to prevent the speech of Mr. M. C. O’Halloran from reaching the ears of the audience. It was delivered eventually, but was only partially successful. Mr. O’Halloran read, seriatim, the clauses of the petition, and explained them without a break in point or argument, in spite of the howling of the organized gang who thus cheated themselves of what might have done much to give them enlightenment. He urged that liberty did not mean’ liberty to bludgeon’ and victimize, but equal liberty to all, and that the present impasse waa one particularly for so’lution by reason and common sense. He showed that it. was criminal, ‘ for the mere sake of limelight, to stand in the way of an immediate solution, as the Territory and its people were being victimized by the present conflict.
Kev. Father McCarthy stated four cogent grounds in support of the wisdom of reason and judicious action, and in condemnation of rash and inconsiderate action.
By permission, then Mr. H. Gibson opened a discussion on the petition, but turned off to the moving of a resolution in support of the demand for immediate liberation of imprisoned debtors, amounting to the absolute cessation of the Government.
Mr. Balding seconded, and a couple of other speakers supported, one opposing. After which the motion was put and carried.
My information is, meeting most disorderly. Convenors who attempted to speak were counted out and howled down. Euberta’ vote of thanks was ironical.
My comment is that community tyrannized and1 terrorized by camarilla of unscrupulous and disaffected persons, to “whom no. concession should be made until law completely vindicated and peaceful inhabitants ot -Darwin permitted to live under normal civilized conditions.
– In view of the statement which the Acting Prime Minister has just read from the Administrator, who was not present at the meeting at which the resolutions in question were’ passed, but who substantiates the contents of the telegram which I read here last night, will the right honorable gentleman take the position into’ his careful consideration? After all, I should say that the Mayor of Darwin is in a position very much like that of the Mayor of Melbourne or any other city.
– Not much!
– Well, I should say he- is in the same position relatively, and, therefore,- had the right to attend the meeting and speak as a representative citizen for the people of Darwin. Is there not reason to suppose there is room for investigation when the two statements practically coincide as’ to the resolutions which were passed? Will the Acting Prime Minister, in the interests of the public, see.that the matter is probed to the bottom ?
– Yes. I am awaiting the return of the Minister for Home and Territories (Mr. Poynton), who confirms what the Administrator says by describing the position of Darwin at the moment as a “ reign of terror.” I have never before stated that fact to the House, but it is the Minister’s expression in regard . to the condition of Darwin. I hope the House will not be too much impressed by these telegrams which, pur- . port to come from the council, but which really come from one man only, not the council.
– Who is that?
– It is the mayor, who wires on his own account.
Several honorable members interjecting,
– I must ask honorable members to restrain themselves.
– An Administrator having been appointed in the Northern Territory, wilt the- Acting Prime Minister see that while in charge he is upheld by the Government i
– The honorable member may rest assured that the Administrator is receiving all the support he needs. and will continue to receive it until things right themselves.
Commission on Wheat Sales.
– Yesterday the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney) asked a question, repeated many times again, whether Mr. Sheppard received any commission in connexion with the wheat sale to Sanday and Company, and this morning I have the information for the honorable member. This is what the secretary of the Wheat Board says - “ Neither Mr. Earl nor Mr. Sheppard had anything to do . with the wheat transaction in any shape or form.”
– Where did you get that information?
– I. got it this morning from Mr. Pitt, the secretary of the Wheat Board.
– That does not prove anything.
– I am not concerned as to what it proves; I am concerned in answering the question of the honorable member ‘ yesterday, repeated over and. over again. The honorable member wished to know whether Mr. Sheppard received any commission, and the answer is that he did not, and that he had nothing whatever to do with the” . transaction in any shape or form.
– Did he get anything from” Sanday and Company?
– No, sir. Mr. Sheppard had nothing whatever to do with the transaction, nor had Mr. Earl. 1 told the honorable member yesterday that Mr. Sheppard had stated that the first intimation they got from London was on Mr. Earl’s arrival here, and that neither he nor Mr. Earl knew anything about the transaction. Is there anything more the honorable member would like to know ?
– Mr. Sheppard said that he introduced Mr. Earl to a Federal Minister.
– Is there anything wrong about that? The honorable member, himself, has introduced many people to Ministers.
– Yesterday, in answer to a question by the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Marks), I stated, amongst other things, that this year the Commonwealth had advanced to New South Wales more than £2,000,000 as a general advance, in addition- to a special advance of £250,000. The question was asked without notice, and, as accuracy is essential, I wish to amplify my reply yesterday by saying that the general advances this year amount to £1,100,000, plus aspecial advance of £250,000. In addition, the Commonwealth has permitted to.be carried over previous advances of £1,130,000. This makes a total of £2,480,000 advance to assist soldier land settlement in New South Wales. Recoupments on certified accounts have also to be considered.
– I do not believe every statement made in the press, and therefore, I should like some verification of one made quite recently. We are informed that the cost of deporting the Reverend Father Jerger was nearly £1,300. Does that represent the total cost? Will the Treasurer have the accounts audited and tell us whether the same expense was incurred in the deportation of every other German?
Question not answered.
Costof Telegraphic Communication
asked theActing Prime Minister, upon notice -
What was the total amount paid by the Commonwealth Government for wireless communications and cablegrams despatched to and received from the Prime Minister from the date of his departure this year until the 30th June?
– I suggest that this matter be left to be dealt with later.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– During the war certain restrictions were imposed on the payment of invalid and old-age pensions’ and maternity allowances to claimants of enemy origin. The question of removing these restrictions is now under consideration.
– On the 29th June, the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Fleming) asked when the general service and other war medals arelikely to be issued to returned soldiers. I am now in a position to furnish the honorable member with the following information: -
To date the following medals have been issued to Military Districts for distribution to those concerned: -
There are, approximately, still 50,000 British War Medals to be issuedand these are being inscribed as fast as possible. No supplies of the Victory Medal are yet available from England, and itis anticipated none willbe distributed for another three or four months.
asked the Acting. Prime Minister, upon notice-
Whether, in view of the reduction of the high cost of living, he will take steps to introduce legislation to reduce members’ allowances proportionately?
– The honorable member is really asking me to undo a deliberate act of this House. However, as this is a non-party proposal, I am willing to take any suggestions from a unanimous House.
Consideration resumed from 30th June (vide page 9599).
That the consideration of the intervening items be postponed until after the consideration of Division XIII. division xiii. - paper and stationery.
Paper, viz. : - …..
.- Under this item, duties of 5 per cent., 10 per cent., and 10 per cent. are proposed for newsprinting paper. It seems to me that there is room for someexplanation of the proposal. Most of this news printing paper comes from foreign countries, and particularly from Scandinavia. I am under the impression that there should be a greater preference than 5 per cent. given to Great Britain in connexion with the importation of paper of this kind. From what I have heard, I believe that Great Britain, if given a reasonable preference, can supply the requirements of the Commonwealth for this kind of paper. Underthe Minister’s proposal, Great Britain is given a preference of only 5 per cent., as against countries where the conditions of industry are not equal to the conditions prevailing here or in Great Britain. As only the United Kingdom is covered by the British preferential Tariff, most of the importations of this class of paper will be dutiable under the general Tariff. I understand that the intermediate Tariff makes it possible for reciprocal relations to be established with British Dominions, and perhaps the Minister (Mr. Greene) will make a statement, showing where this class of paper is obtained, and will say whether he has any objection to increasing the preference to the United Kingdom now proposed, and whether some provision cannot be made to give some advantage to Canada, where this class of paper is manufactured, over countries outside the Empire.
.- This is a subject to which we have given a good deal of consideration, and in regard to which representations of various kinds have been made to us. First of all, the proprietors of newspapers, who are, of course, the great users of news printing paper, are anxious that fixed rates should be substituted for the ad valoremrates. I think that they asked for a fixed rate or an ad valorem rate, whichever would be the lower. Heretofore, the duty on newsprint has always been a revenue duty, and I think it will be some time before the manufacture of this paper can be successfully undertaken in this country. How long that will be it is very hard to say, but it will not be in the immediate future, and in the meantime any duty imposed on the article must be a revenue duty. The Government are not prepared to go the length of surrendering revenue under this item to the extent that has been asked.
– Will the newspaper proprietors reduce the price of their papers and cease to rob the people if the duties are lowered?
– I do not suppose that anything we might do in connexion with these duties would have any effect on the prices charged for newspapers.
– Does the Minister know what difference the reduction in the price of newsprint makes in the revenue from these duties?
– No; for the reason that the prices which have been paid in the past have been enormously high, running, I think, up to £80 per ton. The duty has always been collected on ‘the home consumption value. Honorable members know that an ad valorem duty must be collected on the home consumption value of the goods in the countries in which they are produced. The home consumption value fixed for newsprint is considerably below the export value. We collect duty, not on the invoice value of the goods, but on the home consumption value fixed by the authorities in the control of prices in the countries from which the paper comes.
– They fix a higher price for export.
– What happens is this: Local authorities in the country in which the paper is manufactured fix the price for home consumption. The export price is very much higher than that.
– Just as we did with our wool during the war.
– The practice is somewhat similar to that we adopted in the case of wool. The law compels us to collect duty, not on the export or invoice value of the goods, but on their home consumption value. Consequently, in those cases - and there are quite a number of them - the actual amount of duty collected is less than that which the invoice value of the goods would give. Since the period just indicated, the prices of paper have fallen materially, so that the invoice value would now return somewhere about the same sum as in respect of home consumption value. The difference between the latter and the invoice prices of the goods is such that we now collect about the same amount of duty as hitherto.
– What .are the countries of origin?
– Principally Canada, America, and the Scandinavian countries. The price of paper to-day, I repeat, has fallen very considerably. It is, in some cases, £24 per ton; and I have heard of one contract, recently made, in connexion with which the f.o.b. price was £19.
– For immediate delivery, or twelve months hence?
– I suppose that it would be for immediate delivery.
– But would it be available?
– I think so. We may anticipate that paper will stay at about £20 per ton for some time. The Government are prepared to substitute for the present schedule rates of 5 and 10 per cent, a fixed duty. We propose to make that duty 10s. per ton, British; and £2 per ton, intermediate and general. We expect that by this alteration we shall get a rather less total volume of revenue.
– How will the revenue under those proposed rates compare, with the returns from, the present schedule?
– A comparison must depend on the price of paper. Suppose that we take £20 per ton as a basis; the value for duty is 10 per cent, in excess of the £20; and, so long as the Tariff is 10 per cent., the .duty collected amounts to about £2. Operating in regard to the United Kingdom, if the price of paper is £20, the amount, of duty would be £1. We are, therefore, slightly increasing the British preference. There will now be about 10s. per ton added to the British preference over and above what would be derived under the ad valorem rate.
– Suppose that Australia were to enter into a reciprocal treaty with Canada?
– We could give Canada the British preferential rate of 10s.
– Would it be possible to extend reciprocity in respect of newsprinting paper ?
– Yes. We will be able, under the measure shortly to be introduced - that is, if Parliament agrees to it - to extend to Canada the British preferential rate of 10s. as against £2 so far as concerns the United States and the Scandinavian countries.
– What is really the meaning of the intermediate Tariff?
– I have endeavoured to explain that more than once. We must fill in all the columns in regard to every item coming under the Tariff. We do not propose to extend reciprocity, in regard to paper, to any other country thana British Dominion - that is, if it is ever so far extended. The Tariff is, therefore, arranged in this way. It is for the Committee to say whether it prefers a further adjustment of the intermediate Tariff. The intention is that the intermediate rates shall only be capable of extension to countries other than British Dominions. I will put it in this way: Negotiations between foreign . countries and ourselves can only be in respect of the intermediate Tariff. As for negotiations with other portions of the British Empire, we can extend the British preference, if we so desire. The proposals which I am now making will result, as I have indicated^ in considerable loss of revenue compared with what has been collected during the past few years. Taking the importation of news-print to be 45,000 tons - which is about what we import every year - and taking the duty to be £3, the revenue derived from that source totalled £147,000.
– How much are you giving newspapers by the remission of this duty ?
– If the paper all came from sources which had to pay a £2 duty it would result in a revenue of £90,000. We are, therefore, surrendering under this rate a considerable amount of revenue which we have collected in the past.’
– You have fixed a. 10 per cent, duty under the general Tariff, which on £20 is. equal to £2. If you make, the £2 a specific duty in place of the ad valorem duty it must be the same.
– In fixing the duty at £2 we recognise that it means losing a considerable amount of revenue ; but , I think it will be some time before the whole of the importations to Australia will come in at £20 per ton. The probabilities are that we shall find in collecting duties this year, if we keep it at 10 per cent., that we shall get considerably more than the fixed rate will produce. If values come down we may receive slightly more revenue than we would if we kept the rate at 10 per cent. We will probably balance the ledger “if we leave it at 10 per cent.., but this allows a slightly increased preference to Great Britain over other countries.
– Do I understand the Minister has moved an amendment? ‘
.- It was my intention to move an amendment to this item to amend the rates to read - Great Britain, free; intermediate, 71 per cent. ; and general, 10 per cent ; or, as an alternative, Great Britain, 10s.; intermediate) 25s.; and general, 30 s. pelton, whichever produces the lesser duty; but I. am quite satisfied, that the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) would not accept, the former. I therefore ask the Committee to agree to the second alternative mentioned, which 1 now move -
That the following words be added to subitem (ci (1): - And on arid ‘after 2nd July. 1921, per ton, British 10s.; intermediate, 25s.; general, 30s.”
– I thought the honorable member was in favour of giving preference to Great Britain?
– I am doing so -in this instance to the extent of 15s. per ton.
– The Minister proposes giving a preference of 30s. per ton to* Great Britain.
– In the items which have passed every other Australian industry has been well protected, but in connexion with one which disseminates information throughout the Commonwealth there is a general desire on the part of some honorable members to refrain from giving the assistance that is necessary: I do not think that Great Britain is exporting much paper, but from what I can learn manufacturers there are desirous of entering into the business somewhat extensively. It is quite possible that in the near future Great Britain may be a strong competitor in the printing trade. In the past the bulk of our supplies have come from Canada and Scandinavian countries, and at present these are the only sources to which we can look for our requirements.
– As Japan is likely to be one of our allies, why should she not be considered ?
– If the honorable member peruses statistics he will see that there is very little newsprint coming from Japan. I think the Minister will agree that during the war period the duty imposed on paper, coupled with the enormous price charged, involved the country press in very serious losses. I am not arguing in the interests of the big metropolitan newspapers, because they can pass on their costs to their customers.
– The country papers use about 1,200 tons per annum, and the metropolitan papers consume the balance.
– Honorable members cannot help appreciating the wonderful value of the country press. When city industries are under consideration, every effort is made to give them protection to the “fullest possible extent; but when it is a matter of assisting those who are endeavouring to carry on under adverse circumstances in country districts, very little help is forthcoming. Honorable members cannot help recognising the injury that is being done to the proprietors of small country newspapers, not only by the greatly increased prices of paper, but by the heavy Customs imposts.
– The honorable member will admit that the greatest disadvantage experienced by the country press is that metropolitan newspapers are sent into the country at very low rates.
– That is on account of an arrangement made with the State Governments, who give special facilities to the proprietors of metropolitan papers. No effort is made to build up a sound provincial press, although there is every possibility, in such places as Geelong, Ballarat, and Bendigo, as well as in some of the large towns in New South Wales, to have influential country newspapers. In my constituency about a dozen papers are published, the proprietors of which have had a particularly trying time, especially during the war period. Many of them have ceased to publish owing to the impossibility of competing with other papers in consequence of the high cost of production. I trust the Committee will view this matter favorably,’ having regard to the fact that we are not manufacturing this class of paper in Australia. As the Minister has stated, it is merely a revenue duty.
– That is so.
– A fortnight ago wa imposed additional duties on imported timber, which will be the means of greatly increasing the revenue. If the same quantity of timber is imported in future as in. pre-war years, there will be an enormous increase in the Customs revenue from that source I estimated that the duty to be derived from six items would be about £730,0.00, so that the Minister has a margin for concession on this item. There has ‘not been much reduction of duties in this Tariff, but several have been increased.
– We have reduced a good number. The reduction of the duty on motor chassis by 7^ per cent., represents a big loss of revenue.
– I have had communications from a large number of country newspapers ; representatives of the provincial press have interviewed the Minister on many occasions, and they have held meetings recently. They will be quite content with a general duty of 30s. per ton; but I think the Minister should realize the heavy cost of producing a newspaper nowadays. We cannot expect a complete reversion to the old condi tions; the price of paper is bound to keep up, and that will mean an increase, in the cost of producing a small newspaper. The proprietors of these journals deserve some sympathy. As a rule, the circulation of country newspapers is not very large, but these journals play an important part in the rural life of the community. Honorable members know with what avidity the chronicles of matters of local interest are read in country towns. The representatives of the provincial press are agreed that a general duty of 30s. per ton would not press upon them too heavily. Prior to the 1914 Tariff, paper was admitted free of duty, and the country realized the great importance of newspapers in the dissemination of news and the education of the people. The country press particularly has been of great service in that way. I therefore ask the Minister to give further consideration to this matter. If honorable members so desire, I shall be only too pleased to propose that paper from Great Britain shall be admitted, free, but I think that duties of 10s., 25s., and 30s. would give the necessary incentive to British manufacturers to try to develop the paper trade with Australia.
– I thought the object of honorable members opposite was to establish these industries in Australia.
– That is so. In the laboratory in Perth marvellously good work has been done in testing the possibility of producing paper pulp from Australian timbers. The first paper produced there was made entirely from the silky oak; then experiments were made with mountain ash and karri, and it was proved that many of the Australian timbers would produce pulp which could be converted into a very fair quality of paper. The large newspapers, with, I think, one exception, provided £250 each . foi the purpose of carrying on these ex- periments, with a view to the development of paper manufacture in Australia.
– And the Government provided a lot of the money.
– I know that the Government assisted. So far, this enterprise has not advanced beyond the laboratory stage.
– If the argument ad vanced in . regard to other items holds good, this industry will remain ‘ ‘at thelaboratory stage.
– Not* at all; I am satisfied that when it is shown that the industry can be developed, the Government, through the Bureau of Science and Industry, will render assistance. As soon as Parliament realizes that there is a possibility of paper being manufactured in Australia upon a commercial basis, it will be only too pleased to vote a reasonable subsidy for the development of the industry; The manufacture of paper in Australia on a large scale would give a great filip to re-afforestation and would encourage the planting of trees that are particularly suited for pulping. But while the industry remains at the experimental stage it would be absurd to impose high duties in the hope that, in the dis.tant future, we may be able to manufacture paper from Australian wood pulp.
– There will not be much chance of establishing the Australian industry if British paper is to be allowed in free.
– The Minister (Mr. Greene) has said that he will introduce a Bi,11 to provide machinery whereby Parliament can be kept regularly informed of the progress of various industries, and we shall be able to follow up any successful experiment. I am sure every honorable member would be pleased if we could develop in Australia a paper industry like that in Canada and Scandinavia. It would produce enormous wealth directly, and would give an impetus to a policy of reafforestation. At the present time there is no hope of producing paper on a commercial scale; therefore, these proposed duties can only serve to produce revenue. If the proprietors of the large metropoli-, tan newspapers make big profits, we can reach them by means of the income tax. Complaint is made that the price of the metropolitan daily newspapers has been increased from id; - to 2d., but I remind the Committee that in the Old Country the price of newspapers was raised much earlier. I am not here to champion the proprietors of the big newspapers, but it is impossible to have a duty which “will discriminate between the country and metropolitan press.
– If the amendment is defeated, will it. ‘Iia possible to moto afterwards to increase tha duty?
– Certainly. If there are two amendments before the Committee, that which seeks to impose the higher duty will be submitted first.
– The. manufacture of printing paper is another industry which is being neglected in Australia, but which, if undertaken here, would give considerable employment and also, incidentally, a very fair return upon any capital invested in it. I want to draw the attention of the Minister (Mr. Greene) to the fact that by lowering the duty upon, printing paper, which is also largely used for wrapping purposes, he would be bringing it into unfair competition with the output of local manufacturers of this class of paper. The Minister proposes to have fixed rates of duty of 10s., £2 10s., £2 upon printing paper, described under sub-item c, if imported in sheets not lees than 20 inches by. 25 inches. I ask him to alter the item and provide that these sheets must not be less than 15 inches in width, which would mean that the paper would have to be cut before being used for wrapping purposes, and that a certain degree of protection would be’ accorded to the local manufacturer. When the 1908 Tariff was under review, I endeavoured to have a high duty placed on printing paper, with a view to its local manufacture; but when T approached the Australian paper mill proprietors, ‘ they told me candidly enough that they were not prepared, at that stage, to make that class of paper commercially or in sufficient quantities. However, they pointed out other ways in which Parliament could help them, and what they asked for was done. During the war these people made good profits. Previously, their business had not been too payable, because the industry had not got a great deal of assist ance from, other protected industries, but the money they made has been spent in providing new machinery and in extending their mills for the purpose of increasing production, not with any philanthropic object, but in order to increase their gains. Naturally, in doing this, they anticipated receiving further assistance from the Government, in the shape of increased protective duties, but their anticipations in this respect have not been met. They waited upon the
Minister, and he received them and listened to their representations with every courtesy, but courtesy, although it may be very nice,, fills neither pockets nor stomachs. The local manufacturers were anxious to learn whether, as the result of their representations, increased duties would be proposed on some of the lines they produce, and I was raised to the seventh heaven of delight last Tuesday when the Minister asked the Committee to defer the consideration of this division of the schedule, because I thought that he had come to the conclusion that, from a Protectionist stand-point, the duties upon paper were useless, and that he should bring down a revised schedule with substantial increases. However, I do not gather from his remarks to-day that this is what he intends to do. He can afford some degree of assistance by rectifying anomalies, such as the one I have just pointed out. I have in my hands an exhibit of the work performed bv one local maker, showing that he can produce a very fine quality of paper. This firm makes both white and brown wrapping paper, and has recently spent a considerable sum of money with a view to producing, not only all sorts of paper, but also paper of a higher commercial value. The local manufacturers, after considerable efforts, have at last produced a craft paper which is most suitable for wrapping and other purposes. Then there is the question of leatherboard strawboard, or millboard.
– I rise to order. Is an honorable member in order in discussing the whole division at this stage, or is it necessary for him to confine himself to the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Dampier’ (Mr. Gregory) ?
-The amendment of the honorable member for Dampier* is the question before the Chair, but the honorable member for Melbourne Ports is perfectly in order in referring incidentally to other parts of the division in order to support any arguments which he may wish to put forward concerning the amendment.
– Before the war the manufacture of newspaper or, in fact, of any form of paper or board in Australia was not encouraged in the way it should have been and during the war we found, as in other cases, what an awkward position we had placed ourselves . in, and were very thankful to the local manufacturers of these necessary commodities who had carried on under very slight encouragement. Since the war a good deal has been done. The honorable member for Dampier and myself saw examples of what has been done, to produce paper in Australia in a laboratory connected with the Institute of Science and” Industry. We agreed that those efforts were likely to succeed, and I look forward to the successful production of paper in Australia in the not far distant future. During the war other industries, which had to use newspaper, strawboard, and other forms of paper or board found that, if it had not been for the local manufacturers, they would have had to go out of business. The firm I have mentioned did not take advantage of the fact that importations were blocked by overcharging for their products. Yet to-day those who use strawboard in other industries are objecting to the duties proposed. In my time, I was associated with a trade which used cardboard boxes, and I am willing to admit ihat the raising of the price of board was a certain charge on that trade, but it would have been much worse for those in the trade if they had not been able to obtain supplies during any considerable period. The Australian mills did not charge for strawboard and other paper anywhere near what the importers of the Japanese article were asking. They did npt avail themselves of the high market price as they might have done. I do not pretend to know why they took up that attitude. Unlike most others in business, they might have felt some qualms of conscience, but the fact remains that they did not take the full profits that they might have taken. They can manufacture enough strawboard to supply the full requirements of Australia. Sp far as the price is concerned, the increase would be infinitesimal on certain- boxes used for trade purposes, and cannot injure traders in the wry that they are suggesting. T do not say that an increase of duty will not, in certain instances, raise the. price to a small” degree, but it must not be forgotten that, but for the existence of the local manufacturers, the importers would have raised the price still higher.’ I do not feel inclined to go into the case, exhaustively at this stage, because I know that we can do little unless the Minister is willing to help us. If this division were, fully debated, it would take us months to get through it, and it will be to the Minister’s advantage to let us know exactly where we stand. In order to prevent paper from being used for purposes other than what it is intended for, and to encourage the local manufacture of paper for wrapping purposes, will the Minister agree to add after the word “width” the words I have indicated? There are many items that I should like to see altered. For instance, I should like to add to both paragraphs 1 and 2 of item 334, sub-item d, the words, “Plain, not printed, coated, or waxed.” If the paper comes in plain, the printing, coating, and waxing will give work in Australia. I should also like to see subitem f transferred to item 338, subitem a, in order to obtain better conditions for the manufacturers. I expected an increase in the duty on strawboard, because the rates at present in the schedule are of no use to the local manufacturers. Will the Minister announce his intentions? It might be more convenient to the Committee if the honorable member for Dampier would first withdraw his amendment and move it later on; otherwise it appears that discussion on the whole item will be blocked. Instead of saving time, that is likely to lead to longer debate.
– The motion of which I have given notice is as follows: -
That the item be amended by adding the following to paragraph 1, sub-item (c) : - “ And on and after 2nd July 1021, per ton, British, 10s.; intermediate, £2; general, £2.”
Without replying to the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Mathews) regarding the question of wrapping andother papers, which are not associated with the particular subject-matter that we are now discussing, I desire to say that the Government feel that the proposals they are making in regard to news print are in all the circumstances justified. The times are difficult; the revenue requirements of the Commonwealth, owing to the tremendous war debt we are carrying, are very considerable, and the Government do not feel, inclined to go any further in the direction of surrendering revenue. Had it not been for the position of the country press, which we recognise, and with which we sympathize, we should have asked for somewhat higher duties. We feel, however, that it is quite impossible to dissociate one user of news print from another in collecting revenue, and while it is possible for the big metropolitan dailies to pass on the charge, we realize that it is not possible for the country papers, in many instances, to pass it on at all.
– The Government recognise the educational value of the press, and must realize that they can obtain by means of income taxation a return of some portion of the revenue they surrender.
– There is no question about that, but we feel that at this particular period we are justified in asking for some revenue from this sub-item. Spread over the tremendous circulation of the daily press, the duty per copy is nothing at all.
– The cost of paper has been an enormous item of expenditure for the press.
– I know that the cost of the paper has been phenomenally high.
– By insisting upon these duties the Government will help to close down many small country newspapers.
– The country press have felt the increase in the price of paper to a greater extent, perhaps, than any other section of newspaper proprietors.
– Some country papers have had to go out because of the increased cost of paper.
– As long as I can remember, small country papers have beencoming and going.
– But not at the present: pace.
– I can only say that I can recollect a good many instances of” small country newspapers starting, and disappearing in a remarkably short time when the price of paper was much less than it now is. Having given the matter most careful consideration, the Government feel that, in all the circumstances, the duty for which they are asking on-, this occasion is justifiable.
.- I should have been glad hadthe Minister (Mr. Greene)been able to agree with the amendment. It would have been in the interests of users of paper generally. The class of paperto which it relates is not beingmanufacturedhere, so that the duties being proposed by the Government are of a purely revenue character. I recognise that we need revenue, but the educational benefits of the country press, and indeed of the press generally, are of advantage to the whole Commonwealth. Many of our country newspapers are struggling to such an extent that they have tobe content with the publication of secondhand news. They cannot afford to pay for that briskness and brightness of news which the city newspapers, because of their larger revenue, are able to provide. If by these additional duties we add to the cost of country newspapers, they will continue to struggle, and will not be marked by that briskness and uptodateness which is due to newspaper readers in the backblocks, as much as to those who reside in our cities. I should, therefore, be extremely pleased if the Minister would agree to duties of 10s., 25s., and 30s. per ton. The press in Western Australia has been very anxious to bring about the local manufacture of news print. Newspaper proprietors there have been putting their hands in their own pockets, to a great extent, to accomplish that object, and in the elementary stages of paper production have achieved wonderful results. The time is not far distant when we shall have manufactured in Australia the necessary news print. We have been able, in Western -Australia, to discover processes for producing the most suitable papers, and I have here samples of paper manufactured in that State.
– Produced wholly from wood.
– Yes. This is a use to which we shall be able to put the waste timbers of Australia. Meantime, however, we are not manufacturing and when we are able to do so on a commercial basis it will be soon enough to give consideration to providing the necessary Protection. I am sorry that the Minister will not agree to the amendment providing for duties of 10s., 25s., and 30s. per ton.
.- I desire to give notice that I shall move a further amendment, providing that the duties per ton shall be - British, 10s.; intermediate, 25s. ; and general, 45s. I understand that the duty on news print is of a purely revenue character, and since we have to import this class of paper, I would encourage the use of that produced in Great Britain rather than thatcoming from Scandinavia, Japan or other countries. We have boasted from time to time of our patriotism and loyalty to the Mother Land. Here is an opportunity to demonstrate it - here is a chance to prove that we prefer to use paper made in Great Britain rather than that coming from other countries. If the amendment moved by the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) is agreed to, imports of this class of paper will come from Scandinavia and Japan, or, at all events, from countries other than Great Britain.
– We are not importing news print from Great Britain at the present time.
– And apparently honorable members opposite do not wish us to do so. The daily press of the metropolis is particularly anxious to secure cheap paper, no matter from where it may come. During’ the war they made much use of the cry of “ Love of the Mother Country,” but they are not very much concerned about the welfare of the Mother Country so long as they can get cheap paper. The Protectionist section of the metropolitan press is everlastingly writing of the value of trading with the Mother Country. They havehere an opportunity to encourage that trade. By obtaining our supplies of newsprint from Great Britainwe shall provide more employment for the paper manufacturers there. We are not manufacturing this class of paper in Australia, and, desiring, therefore, that Great Britain shall be given the fullest possible preference, I propose to move on the lines I have mentioned.
.- I regret that I was temporarily absent from the Chamber when the Minister (Mr. Greene) made his statement, but there seems to be a decided lack of knowledge as to the countries from which our news print is obtained. I do not claim to be better informed on this subject than are other honorable members; but I do not see how it is possible to get a great deal of our news print from the British Isles. So far as I am aware, nearly the whole of our supplies come from Scandinavia, Canada, and the United States of America.
– Before the war, our importations from the United Kingdom under sub-item c, which covers news print and printing paper, n.e.i., amounted to £390,000 per annum.
– Those importations would consist largely of the higher grade papers. I am aware that before the war we imported large quantities of such paper from the United Kingdom; but the greater part of it would not be used for country newspapers.
– It was used by the press of the country.
– In nearly every case, for the higher-class productions.
– No. Before the war, we got news print from Great Britain. One of the big Melbourne dailies, for instance, used nothing ‘ but British news print for some considerable time.
– Even so, the importations from the United Kingdom were relatively small. In respect of an item of this kind, we should make the British preference as strong as possible; but it stands to reason that the United Kingdom cannot grow much of the material from which paper is made. It must import a great deal of the raw material and work it up.
– Paper manufacturers in the Old Country do import pulp.
– That, I think, is very desirable. Inthis case the competition is between foreign countries and different parts of our own Empire. We all know that the raw material for the manufacture of paper comes principally from the softwood forests in the colder regions, the greater part of which are outside the British Empire.I am strongly in favour of the Tariff on paper being so framed that all our trade in paper shall come through the Empire. If we can make such a difference between the British preferential Tariff and general Tariff as will lead to the paper pulp actually coming from our own countries, wherever the raw material may be produced, we shall be doing something to improve the trade of the Empire generally. Personally, I am rather in favour of importing paper pulp from the Old Country, for the simple reason that we must have oversea vessels coming here to take our produce away. It seems to me that this Tariff would have been framed upon very much better lines if the question of inter-Empire trade had been kept more prominently in the foreground.
– It has been kept in the foreground to a greater extent than it has ever been kept there previously.
– That is one of the natural results of the war. But it has not been kept prominently enough in the foreground, and here is an opportunity for us to” make the position more pronounced. I think that we should admit newsprint from the United Kingdom free, and impose a duty of 30s. per ton upon that commodity under the intermediate and general Tariffs. That would impart quite a stimulus to the interEmpire trade.
– I am giving more than that now. I am proposing a duty of 30s. per. ton upon paper coming from other than Great Britain.
– But proportionately the preference is no greater under the Minister’s proposal, and the interference it would cause with trade would be considerable.
– The honorable member’s suggestion would give a smaller preference to Britain than that which I am proposing.
– Britain must import very much greater quantities of paper material than we do.
– At the same time I am informed, upon good authority, that half the British newsprint mills are idle today.
– There is no reason why we should not assist in re-starting them.
– If they are idle, it must be due to the fact that they cannot get the necessary pulp.
– They shut down during the war period .
– But the war is now over, and we desire to restore trade to its old channels, and as far as possible to create trade within the Empire. Here is an opportunity for us to widen and strengthen inter-Empire trade, without inflicting any injury upon our own people. I ask the Minister (Mr. Greene) to make his proposal conform with that of the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory).
– The honorable member for Dampier has suggested a smaller British preference than I am proposing.
– Of course, I would prefer to see the duty imposed which I have suggested. The Minister, no doubt, has studied this question exhaustively; but whilst, under his proposal, trade within the Empire would be increased, it should be increased in such a way as would avoid crushing many of the country newspapers, which are now struggling for an existence. We have been told that country newspapers come and go. I know that the life of a country newspaper proprietor is a precarious one.
– What I have proposed will afford him considerable relief.
– And he badly needs that relief. Every honorable member is aware that during the past two or three years, country newspapers have been dying at an alarming rate, so that it is really time we gave them considerable help, not merely in the interest of those who are conducting them, but in the interests of country residents generally. Everybody who has had anything to do with rural areas knows that in every district great interest is exhibited inthe local newspaper.
– Necessarily so.
– Exactly. The residents of country districts get information through their local newspapers which is of great value to them, and which otherwise would not come under their notice. I desire the Minister to encourage more of these journals wherever there is room for them.
– If I could free the country newspapers entirely from the payment of duty upon newsprint I would do so; but I cannot.
– As far as possible, we ought to relieve them of the burden which has been breaking them down, whilst at the same time seeking to establish our inter-Empire trade upon a firm basis.
– I agree with the attitude that has been adopted by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene). He has wisely taken into consideration our need to obtain revenue, and alsothe desirableness of granting a preference to Britain in connexion with the supplyof printing paper. Many honorable members are not, I fear, aware of the fact that during the war period the paper mills of the Old Country did not produce the quantity of paper that they had produced previously, owing to the fact that their mills had been commandeered by the British’ Government for war purposes. But Great Britain is now in a position to supply the requirements of Australia in this connexion at a reasonable price. There are people from Britain out here at the present time who are anxious to enter into contracts for supplying the press of Australia with paper. It should be our aim to encourage the production of that article there in preference to encouraging its production in countries which treated us very unfairly during the war. In some instances those countries not only combined for the purpose of charging prohibitive prices for paper, but they also prevented the shipment of supplies, except in vessels loaded by themselves. To-day Great Britain has paper-mills standing idle - mills which are in need of orders to enable them to restart operations.
– Would the honorable member admit British paper free?
– I would, but for the fact that it is necessary for us to get revenue. I should like to see paper from Britain admitted free in preference to a duty of 10s. per ton being imposed upon it.
– I am prepared to go to that length. I am willing to admit British paper free, and to impose a duty of 40s. per ton upon paper from the other parts of the world.
– Then I am perfectly satisfied.
.- 1 have a little information which will enable me to still further pursue the idea which I entertain in regard to this item. The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) stated just now that British paper-mills are lying idle. Why are they idle?
– Because they -were cut out of their trade during the war.
– No such thing. If they were cut out of their trade during the war, why are they not going ahead now?
– They are anxious to pick up orders now.
– In one breath, the honorable member says that they have suspended operations, and in the next he affirms that they are going ahead.
– I did npt say that all of them were idle; but that some of them are.
– I have heard that there are British firms which would like to come here and start the manufacture of paper. But it is not possible for them to undertake operations upon the scale that would be necessary to meet our requirements, within the next six or seven years. That being so, we must ask ourselves what is the next best thing to do. In my opinion, it is to grant a preference to Great Britain. The Minister’s original proposal was that a duty of 10s. should be levied under the British preferential Tariff, and of 40s. per ton under the intermediate and general Tariffs. If the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) will eliminate the 10s. duty which he has proposed upon paper coming from the United Kingdom, I think that his amendment is a fairer proposal than that of the Minister. Of course, I am speaking only of newsprint.
– The honorable member is out to destroy the revenue. He knows that we must have revenue.
– During the war period, the British manufacturers could not continue to provide newsprint because the paper they were manufacturing was being used for another purpose altogether. I desire that Britain shall be granted a preference, especially over two countries which I have in my mind. I do not wish to see Japanese paper coming into Australia; but I do not think that we need entertain any apprehension under that heading; because the Japanese cannot manufacture paper. But I .would like to see Britain granted a preference over Sweden. To my mind, it is questionable whether, during the war period, certain so-called neutral countries were neutral in the truest sense of the word.
If any countries which were supposed to be neutral at that time really assisted our enemies in. their endeavours to defeat us, here is an opportunity for us to hit buck, aud to hit them as hard as we can. Before paper was declared contraband during the war, thousands of tons of it passed through the British lines for Germany, and this material was actually protected by the Allied soldiers.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
– We have next to consider how this preference to Britain will affect Australia. It has been said that a British firm is able to supply all the newspaper that we require; but if paper from Britain is to be free, I fail to see why users of papers imported from other countries should be penalized by the imposition of the heavy duty proposed’ by the Minister.
– It is less than the duty collected now.
– On the figures of the Minister that is so; but we all hope that the price of paper will fall to an appreciable extent in the future, though, of course, not to the old price.
– Say, £15 a ton.
– At that price the Minister’s proposal will -mean a big impost on the users of paper throughout Australia. Each honorable member who has spoken has said that he holds no brief for the large newspaper proprietors; but the newspapers are an Australian institution, and certainly I hold a brief for any undertaking which tends to the education of the Australian public.
– If on the right lines.
– I daresay that the honorable member would regard the Daily Mail, of- Adelaide, the Worker, the Call, and other newspapers, as giving education on the right lines. But every phase of industrial and political opinion ought to be able to find free expression through the press ; and I remind honorable members opposite that it is only because of the prohibitive price of paper, printing machinery, and other ‘ accessories, that the Labour party has not an official organ in each of the States.
– Why is the Labour party so slow in Sydney after all the money that has been, collected?
– I am not going into that phase of the question. We can do no more in the case of Britain than make paper free, but with a lowered price of paper the Minister’s proposal will prove very much greater than the duty at present in force. Newspapers, irrespective of the varied opinions in the community, have played, and do play, a big part in public affairs. I am told on good authority, which I have verified in one or two instances, that the newspapers were of a greater importance during the war period than, perhaps, many would believe. At one time news-print was almost unobtainable, and, indeed, was quite unobtainable in France, and it is said that, as a result, the morale, not of the French Army, but of the French people suffered in the absence of news from the Front. Before paper was contraband it was going to Germany, there to be used, not in the production of newspaper, but in the production of cartridges and other munitions of war; but the British Government realized that newspapers were a power, and, though they required paper for the production of cartridges, and so forth, sent enough to enable the French newspapers to be published, with gratifying results. An institution of such power as the newspaper press is worth preserving. The duty proposed by the Minister is certainly high, and while it will result in revenue, it will also penalize an Australian industry. I suggest that, with Great Britain on the free list, the intermediate duty should be 25s., and the general duty 30s. This would, in my opinion, prove of great benefit, not necessarily to newspaper proprietors, but to the Australian public.
.- There are large paper mills, not only in my district, but elsewhere in New South Wales, and also in Victoria, engaged in the production of wrapping paper. If newspaper from Britain is admitted free, there is great risk of its being used for wrapping purposes, with consequent injury to the Australian industry. These mills have been established at great expense, and employ many people.
– I do not think that even a duty of 10s. a ton would make any material difference from the point of view of the honorable member.The position has always been the same in that respect.
Mr.RILEY.- As it is, these mills have a great struggle to compete in the market, and the admission of this paper free may lead to their being closed up. I take it that if this paper is admitted free, the Minister (Mr. Greene) will use the powers he possesses to prevent its being used for improper purposes.
– The present duty of 5 per cent. would not prove effective protection for wrapping paper. The proposal before the Committee will not alter existing conditions in any material way.
Mr.RILEY. - Is the Minister prepared to give wrapping paper greater protection, so as to make the Australian mills absolutely secure?
– I shall consider that matter when we come to wrapping paper.
Mr.RILEY. - I accept the Minister’s promise that he will see what can be done in the direction I have suggested.
.- We have to regard news printing as an industry. The Minister (Mr. Greene) always has power to allow printing machinery in free, if it cannot be manufactured in Australia.
– Practically all the printing machinery - linotypes, and so forth - comes in free.
– In thecase of apparel, the Minister, by weekly notice, may permit large quantities of material to be admitted free, subject to its being legitimately used.
– I can assure the honorable member that the printing industry gets a fair share of free machinery.
– It is quite possible that the price of paper may come down, and I suggest that the Minister should make the duty 40s., or 10 per cent., whichever is the lesser.
– Under that proposal, if the paper costs nothing, it will pay nothing !
– What is the honorable member’s objection to the country newspapers being able to get the necessary paper?
– I have no objection to the country press getting their paper; my objection is to the honorable member’s silly proposal.
– Is it not more silly to suggest that they might get their paper for nothing? The newspaper industry was “ hard hit “ during the war, and many country proprietors were ruined in their small way. Those interested in the country press have already made strong representations to the Minister, and, certainly, they should be given consideration. I do not think the impost is a fair one, inasmuch as it falls so heavily on one section of the community. If the Minister will agree to my suggestion to make the duty in the general Tariff 40s. or 10 per cent., whichever is the lower, he will give satisfaction to that section.
– I have done my utmost to meet the wishes of the Committee in this matter. Bearing in mind the representations that have been made, and the honorable member for Dampier (Mr, Gregory) knows that there have been many, the Government were prepared to sacrifice some revenue under this item at the present time. We should get considerably more revenue if we adhered to the proposal as it stands in the Tariff, 5 per cent., 10 per cent., and 10 per cent., than we shall receive under the proposal to which I have consented. Recognising the justice of the claims in many instances, particularly in regard to the country press, we have given the fullest consideration to the recommendations which have been made. If the country press were the largest users of news print in Australia, the situation would be somewhat different. But they are not. The proportion of news print they use is comparatively small. The vast bulk of this paper is used by the big metropolitan dailies throughout the Commonwealth. I have tried to meet the views expressed by the honorable member for Dampier, and by other honorable members, and as I have said, I am prepared to amend the original proposal put before the Committee and to agree to a proposal that news print shall be free from the United Kingdom, and that the duty in the intermediate (and general columns shall he 40s. I do not feel justified in going further than that at the present time. If any additional preference were given it would have to be within the Empire, and as the British preferential rates can be extended to the British Empire, there is no necessity in this case for any adjustment in the in termediate column, and we prefer, in the circumstances, to make the duty in the intermediate column the. same as in the* general column.
– If that amendment were carried, and I moved to add the words “ or 10 per cent., whichever is the lesser,” what would be the attitude of the Government?
– We should vote against the honorable member’s proposal. At the present time, the 40s. would be the lower duty, and we would collect on that. We are proposing to give away revenue now by the amendment to which I have agreed. If we were to accept the proposal of the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory), when the balance, if it did, turned in the other direction, we should lose still further revenue, and that, in the present financial “circumstances of the Commonwealth, we are not prepared to agree to.
– Has the Minister any idea of the amount of revenue we shall lose by making importations of news print free from the United Kingdom?
– I cannot say, because I do not know how much we are likely to get from the United Kingdom.
– Whatever the loss of revenue would be, the proprietors of the metropolitan journals would get the benefit.
The proposal submitted by the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) is one of the most remarkable that has ever been propounded in this Parliament. He proposes that whatever may be the lower duty under this item shall be collected. Under the Customs Act it is provided that when foreign prices reach the dumping point the fixed duty or the ad valorem duty, whichever is the higher, shall be imposed, but the honorable member for Dampier, in some particular interest, proposes that the very reverse of the principle provided for in the Customs Act shall be adopted in this case. His proposition is that if the price of newsprint comes down to £10 per ton the Government shall collect the lowest possible duty on it, and the lower the price of the imported article the lower the duty to be collected.
– And the greater the opportunity afforded for dumping.
– Yea. What the honorable member really proposes is a bonus for the dumping propositions of foreign corporations. The fundamental principles of this Tariff are, first of all, the creation of industries within our own boundaries, and then, if we cannot do that, our object is at least to give a preference to Britain. Under this particular item there is practically no attempt made to give effect to either of the principles. So far as the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) is concerned, all that he wants to do is to collect in this case a purely revenue duty, and even that he is prepared to forgo at the present moment, in order to meet the situation. There is no item in the Tariff which interests me more than this does. It is not a question of the Tariff at all, or a question of the country press. It is a question of sham, fraud, and iniquity, and of bogus Imperialism and bastard patriotism. Under this proposition we are asked to forgo everything for which we have stood for a long period, and I propose to say a few words on the item. First of all, in connexion with Protection, we have great industries in this country, and we have refrained from imposing duties on much of the machinery which they require and the raw materials which they must use. We have had constitutional government in this country for fifty or sixty years, and we have never, so far, made any attempt to establish the manufacture of the paper used for the printing of newspapers. Whatever may be the argument put forward for the establishment of industries for the production of various articles in this country, they have never been applied to the production of newsprint. There, Protection has ceased. Our supplies of that particular article are imported from abroad. They are imported, not merely from the centre of our Empire,but from Scandinavia or Japan, wherever they can be got most cheaply. So long as those interested cang et their supplies of newsprint cheaply from the Empire they are content to do so, but if from anywhere outside the realm of our Empire they can get cheaper paper, then, so far as they are concerned, the Empire can go to hell.
– That is where the honorable member’s arguments ought to be.
– That is where they will be, probably. In the first place, there has been.no effort to impose protective duties for the establishment of the manufacture of newsprint in this country. Every effort to establish it has met with great hostility. We possess in this country a large amount of the raw material necessary for the production of newsprint. We have thousands of tons of the straw and other materials used. We have the clay, which constitutes one of the raw materials of the industry. We have certain woods from which wood-pulp can be provided. We may require some other things, and the mere fact that we do not produce every item of the raw material required for the manufacture of newsprint in this country is no reason why the industry should not be established here.
-Does the honorable member not know that the local newspaper proprietors have contributed a fairly large sum for laboratory work to, discover whether the industry cannot be established here?
– I am coming to their laboratory work, and also to their patriotism presently. - I have said that we produce a large amount of the raw material required for the manufacture of this class of paper. If it be said that we have not established the industry because we do not produce all the raw material required, I remind honorable members that we carry on many industries the raw material for which is imported.
– The rubber industry, for instance.
– Yes. In other countries the same thing is done. Great Britain carries on immense industries, such as the cotton industry, for instance, the raw material for which is not produced withinher own boundaries. Other countries that produce paper import some of the raw material required for thepurposes.Aftersome sixty years of constitutional government,wecannot lay the foundation of this particular industry in the Commonwealth. I have said that there has always been hostility to it. The only thing that remains is that we should give effect to the second principle of our Tariff, and, by giving a preference, trade within the Empire. We should link up with the Empire in an indissoluble union, and whatever products we require we should get them, if possible, within the Empire, and particularly from Great Britain. Prior to the war, we imported a large proportion of our newsprint paper from Great Britain. But for the most part, before the war, it can be safely said that a larger volume of the Imperial sentiments expressed in this country, and of the patriotic effusions that appeared in the press of the Commonwealth, and much of the denunciation of our movement, were linked up with foreign nations. Two-thirds of the newspapers’ of this country have been printed on foreign paper with foreign ink, and in very many cases the articles appearing in them have been written by men with foreign names. The advent of the war cut off our supplies of newsprint from Great Britain, and we have had to obtain our supplies from foreign sources. We have had to obtain them from Scandinavia and from Canada, where the manufacture of this paper is largely owned and controlled by American capital. Within the last hour, a paper which I have been able merely to skim over has been circulated amongst honorable members. It is signed by a gentleman named Shakespeare, of the Country Press Association. If I read some of it, it will enable me to cut short some of my remarks. He says -
During the past four years the United Kingdomhas not been a competitor in the Australian newsprint market. Her inability to compete for Australian trade in this direction over the period mentioned left consumers in the hands of foreign manufacturers.
The gentleman goes on to say that in New Zealand the conditions were worse than in Australia. Through Great Britain’s inability, owing to the stress of the war, to supply us with the newsprint paper we required, the newspaper proprietors of this country were left entirely at the mercy of American and Scandinavian controllers of their raw material, and as a result they had to pay. up to£75 per tonforthe paper they required. iand that the Country Press Association, after sitting in conference, decided to wait as a deputation on the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene), and protest against the duties which were fixed in March, 1920. Theduties then fixed on this item were 5 per cent., 10 per cent., and 10 per cent.
The market price at the time being round about £75 per ton, they complained to the Minister that, at the date of their deputation - the 5th August, 1920 - when the price of newsprint was £75, the duty was £7 10s.; so that it was costing them over £80 per ton for newsprint to carry on their industry. The Minister saw that they were under some misapprehension of the application of the duty, and pointed out that the duty was upon the fixed price’ in Canada. He said that that did not apply to Scandinavia. These people had no time for the Canadians, whom they regarded, in this connexion, as a race of buccaneers and exploiters. They considered that the Australian proprietors had suffered victimization at the hands of the Americans who were controlling the raw resources of Canada. They pointed out that the duty at that time amounted to 10 per cent. on the Canadian home consumption price, and that the latter was about £20 per ton. That is to say, they had to add 10 per cent. upon that price, while at the same time the duty was £8 per ton on the Scandinavian product. The proposition was put to the Minister that they were quite willing, in this hour of their country’s agony, to pay £3 per ton, but that they did not want to pay £8. They emphasized that the duties upon Canadian paper were levied on “ home consumption “ values, but that the same did not apply to Scandinavian paper, whereas it should doso. The Minister, in reply, said, “ This shall be done.” And not only did these people get their way in that respect, but the Minister said, further,. “ Australia has been bled white by those controlling the sources of supply”; and he added that he would give relief at once, expressing himself thus, “ The duty does not pretend to be protective; its sole object is to raise revenue.” Thereafter, the duty of £8 per ton upon Scandinavian paper was reduced to shout £3. That was the concession which the Minister made. But he went even beyond that, namely, to the extent of giving these proprietors a refund upon the amounts which they had previously paid.
– The reason was that we were not then aware that the home consumption price of Scandinavian “news” was less than the export price. When we discovered that it was so, we were compelled by law to do as we did.
– That is so. . I am not blaming the Minister. Now, the duties to be imposed had to be upon the fair values of the exporting countries; but, in this particular case, it was not so much the values that would fairly and ordinarily have obtained, but the values fixed by the markets of those countries in respect of “ home consumption “ - values fixed in an arbitrary manner by the Canadian Government and by the Governments of the Scandinavian countries. The arbitrary price fixed by Canada was £20 per ton, and by Norway about £30. The price here was £7* per ton, so that the Canadian -people were putting on £55 to their home consumption price, and the’ “Norwegians £45. In August of 1920 - less than twelve months ago - the Associated Press of this country were prepared to pay £75. That is, indeed, what they had to pay the foreigners, plus a tax of £3, making the cost of the commodity £78 per ton. Since then, however, there has been a considerable fall, and now the price is £25 per ton. But what is the view-point and attitude to-day? These Australian people object to ask the foreigner, who has been putting up his prices tremendously, to “ battle “ with the duty of £3. They hate so to hurt and handicap these producers who have “ sold “ them in the market-, places of the world.
In January last the price was still £75, so far as foreign suppliers were concerned. But the English prices, ranged between £40 and £50. England was beginning to recover from the ravages of war. The English paper merchants had re-organized and reconstituted their manufactories. During the war the English firms were literally out of the market; their mills were largely devoted to the production of warlike material, to the output of such essential commodities as containers for jam and requisites associated with shell manufacture. As a matter of actual fact, then, through the years of the war, the British newsprint people were unable to contribute any paper to the markets of the world. Not only was that so, but the Scandinavian countries had placed an embargo on the exportation of sulphide pulp, which, had formerly gone chiefly to, Britain; but which was now. being sold to Germany as a substitute for cotton. Ultimately, the British paper producers, backed by the British Government, were compelled to secure large forest areas in Canada, and to purchase timber rights over them. Their power of control over the raw resources of- Canada now constitutes a factor and a force which they had never previously possessed. In addition, as I have just said, they thoroughly re-established their home industry; and, to-day, they have some of the finest newsprint machinery in the world. So superior is the latter that the Scandinavian and American makers are now trying to get hold of these special machines. England is coming once more into the world’s markets.
In January last the Scandinavian and American price to buyers in this country was still £75 per ton, while, for English paper, the quotation was in the” neighbourhood of £50. It was at this stage that some gentlemen in Australia, representing the big metropolitan dailies, became suddenly imbued with a burning Imperial sentiment and a deep love of Empire, simply because paper was cheaper in Great Britain than in Scandinavia. So these ardently patriotic gentlemen sent delegates to England and got- hold of several thousands of tons of British paper. But, at the present moment, Scandinavian and Japanese paper is quoted below the British rate. Therefore, the patriotic sentiments of these good Australian folk are not so bright and strong as a few months ago.
Next came a representative of the Amalgamated British newsprint manufacturers to Australia. He interviewed representative city and country press proprietors, and put forward a certain proposition. Supposing that a great British corporation were to come to this country, interested in wool or timber or steel; a*nd suppose that it promised to establish great industries here either now or within reasonable prospect, would not that proposition - being a matter of such tremendous national interest - be made known generally through the p,reG3 ? Would not the newspapers publish the particulars from one’ end of the land to the other? In this particular case, however, there was, all over Australia, an organized conspiracy of silence on the part of the newspapers. It was determined that the propositions of the amalgamated British firms should not be made known to the public. I repeat that the British makers got their agent to come out here. This representative gentleman was. associated particularly with the Donside Mills. of Aberdeen. Probably the Scots were canny. Naturally, they selected the best man they could get. They considered that if an appeal to the pocket3 of the Australian proprietors were vain, an appeal to their sentiments might succeed. -So they select-pd and sent a man who was not only a commercial director, but had been a soldier, and who carried an empty sleeve to demonstrate that he was not only a lip patriot, but had been a patriot in action. His propositions were advanced somewhat after this manner: “Gentlemen, you want 50,000 tons of paper. That quantity is equivalent to 65,000 cubic tons measurement for purposes of maritime transport. We are prepared to supply you- in any width or colour, and to deliver at any British port for the same price as our products are supplied to British newspapers. That is to say, at the cost of production, plus 15 per cent. And these particulars you may verify, if you desire, with the aid of your own auditors.” He added, “But if you will not accept that proposition, we are prepared to supply at a price not exceeding current market prices in Europe and America, but not at dumped “ prices in Australia.” This visiting Scottish representative proposed, further, to ship all the paper in vessels of. the Commonwealth Line of Steamships. He undertook, also, that all reductions in freight which might be made as a result of exclusively using those ships should go to the newspaper proprietors of Australia, in the form of reduced rates for -the actual commodity. This latter proposition had nothing to do with the matter of foreign ships or foreign flags, and it might have been thought that such an offer would have appealed to patriotism. It did not, however. The representative of the amalgamated British interestsadded, in. still further concession, that when Australia was prepared to go into the manufacture of its’ own news.paper supplies the British corporation concerned would be ready to guarantee, if so desired, to furnish half the capital, and any special machinery over which it was holding patent rights, and to send out trained, experts and technicians from its own mills, in order to thoroughly and properly establish the Australian industry. The representative finally added -
This corporation, controlling its own resources of raw- material, guarantees, in the absence . of “ local pulp production, Australian access to British resources.
If that proposition had been advanced in connexion with any other of our industries, would not the public have been given some information ‘ But there was no word of publicity. These bargainers of Emp*ire, these protectors of the flag, these lovers of their King and country, were willing to exploit anything and everything, and anybody and everybody, in the search for individual advantage. But, at first, they fell on the neck of this representative of the British corporation. Here, they said, was a man who would relieve them of the rapacity of the Scandinavians. And he was flooded with letters of warm welcome, and testimonials and effusions breathing the love of freedom and bubbling over with patriotism. One of the Australian gentlemen interested wrote to him on the 23rd May last -
The re-entry of British newsprint manufacturers into the Australian trade is the one real pleasure wc have had for several years. Even ‘before the war, Britain did not have a fair look in at pur markets, owing to so many of our merchants placing profit before patriotism.
One can’ picture him writing that stuff as he sat at his desk, a little flag stuck into something at each side of him, a statue of the King in front of him, and pictures- of Empire subjects surrounding him upon the walls. On the 1.4th June this same writer pointed out that the newspapers of Australia had been for years the victims of “ the cruel exactions” of the paper rings, not only of Scandinavia, but of America; and, further, he said that the press proprietors of Australia - had a clear and unanimous objection to any preference to newsprint manufactured in Canada, where the mill-owners have combined to rob Australian consumers of several millions sterling.
Thus our- Australian newspaper proprietors set a limit upon the. Empire because they have been subjected by fellow members of the Empire - Canadians, to wit - to “ cruel exactions.” They refer to having been robbed of millions—not of modest thousands. These are the poor half-starved wretches who are living on the verge of poverty by the production of Australia’s newspapers! The same writer went on to say to the British representative that, for these reasons - every newspaper proprietor, throughout the Commonwealth welcomes- the news that the Mother Country is about to re-enter the Australian market, and warmly supports preference being granted to her products.
Everything was very fine and serene; but did the visiting gentleman get an order? One can hear him saying, “ Thank you ! Your speeches and sentiments are grand. Will you now place an order within the Empire, or do you propose to go outside of it?” No, he could not get an order. They coldly said, “What is your price?” That- is at the bottom of it all. Six months ago the home price in Canada and in Scandinavian countries ranged from £20 to £30 per ton. The selling price here was £75 - that is, roughly, £45 to £50 over the home consumption price in those countries. At that time, these patriots in Australia, who were so anxious to re-enter the markets of the dear old Motherland, sent a special representative to England to see if the British mills would supply better paper than those in Scandinavia. Later, the price of newsprint dropped, and, although the home consumption price was £20 to £30 in foreign countries, we were being charged £40 over that figure. In a few weeks the price slumped, and newsprint is now selling below those prices in Canada and Scandinavia. What do these patriots now say? “ We shall treat you as Englishmen on condition that you follow the market down.” These newspaper proprietors, who told the Minister that he must introduce legislation to prevent dumping in this country - directly and indirectly through their agents, within and without this chamber - said that he must not interfere, but must permit the British manufacturers to follow the dumped prices. The price came down to £25 per ton, and they then said to the men of the same race and blood, “ We will trade with you Englishmen: ‘if your “prices come down.”
They asked the British manufacturers to follow the prices down. The newspapers were paying £75 per ton, plus duties of £3 and .£8, for the paper they were getting twelve months ago. But now they are using their influence to prevent the Minister imposing the duty upon thu foreigner which he did twelve months ago. At that time, the. price was £75 per ton, plus duty, and to-day it is £25 per ton, plus duty, and they say they cannot pay the duty. Was ever such a proposition submitted to the Parliament of any country? Consider the reduction of the cost of newsprint, which means a saving of between £2,000,000 and £3,000,000 to the newspaper proprietors of the Commonwealth. Whilst the price of paper has tumbled from £75 to £25 per ton, and the total cost to them has dropped from £1,500,000 to £500,000, the newspaper proprietors have increased the cost of their publications to the general community from Id. to lid., and later to 3d. per copy. These newspaper proprietors are the gentlemen who refer to us as the purloiners of public funds; but they take more out of the pocket of the people in one day than we do in twelve months. This is the situation with which we are confronted. The great metropolitan newspaper proprietors, who boast of their* purity, and who pose as guardians of the public safety, are prepared to sacrifice their country in this deplorable way. They met in secret at Menzies Hotel, on the 11th, 12th, and 13 th May, with a policeman guarding the door so that no one could hear the negotiations proceeding. Then a new situation arose. We were informed that the Minister was not prepared to go on with this item because it had to be reconsidered by the Government. The policeman was removed from the door after the interested parties had come to a decision, and some one came forward and said that there should be no such proposal for British preference, because it would not pay them. It is most unfortunate for the newspaper proprietors, who applied to this Minister twelve ‘months” ago” and asked if they could pay £3 instead of £8, pa’rticularly as prices have dropped by £50. They asked for further consideration. They claim protection. But why?
Because they are the agents of the Government’s propaganda. They said they want a, duty of 30s. per ton on all newsprint. A gentleman came along and said, “Let us confer with the English representative at a round-table conference, and see if we can meet him.” Down came the price, and, of course, they were no longer patriots. They wanted the price still lower, and at last they said, “ We have no further use for you.” They wanted to adhere to the proposition that the duty should come down to 30s. per ton. There was another round-table conference, and it was said that the conference had decided upon 30s., and the executive could not alter its decision. They further said, “ Of course, we may have sufficient influence as an executive to nullify the conditions if new data are submitted.” This was not in writing; but it was so imperative and so important that it had to be whispered through a keyhole to an intermediary. That intermediary is in the vicinity of this chamber listening to what I have to say. He came over from Sydney as a confidential representative. He was not satisfied at receiving merely his travelling expenses from Sydney, but required £50 for his expenses. If the British firm would not pay £50, they would send another gentleman. This’ gentleman submitted a proposition, in spite of the decision that there might be an alteration and British preference secured if new data were submitted. The new data meant a sole agency for one man of all British newsprint on a 2$ per cent, basis, roughly, £30,000. With this, new data at command, and the new power of conversion, the all-British proposition would be enthusiastically indorsed. Since that has been turned down, they have changed their opinions, and have come to the Minister with a request to reduce the duty from £3 to 30s. These are the men who did not want Canadian or Scandinavian paper, as they were absolutely oppose! to the importation of foreign supplies. But what are they now prepared to give ?
– Nothing. ‘
– The proposal was to favour the country press.
– What does it mean? It means that these Imperialists, who de nounced others for their lack of patriotism, are now seeking a reduction.
– The honorable member has not made a protest until the last moment. I am in favour of a higher rate.
– I usually sit in silence.
– Yon have a very good brief to-day.
– It is one of the finest I have had since I have been in Parliament. That is the proposition they have made. They propose that the rate shall be - British, 10s.; Canadian, 25s.; and Scandinavian, 30s. The newspaper proprietors of this country, who, twelve months ago, . were speaking of how the Scandinavians had robbed them of millions, and of their cruel exactions and robberies, are not now prepared to impose more than a 5 per cent. duty. A 5 per cent, duty on these robbers ! Why ? Because the British have come into the market, and have become the instrument of reduction. These gentlemen are asking for a refund of the amount of money of which they were robbed. The foreign makers of newsprint now say, “We robbed you of millions, but now we are down to dumped prices,, and will rob you no more, but will give you back a little of that which we previously took from you.” And as they can put money into their pockets, the newspaper proprietors are prepared to allow their patriotism to go into the dustbin. They serve their Empire merely when it pays them. I have never prate.d about my loyalty; but these men are hypocritical scoundrels, and mere paraders of words, who would sacrifice and prostitute their sentiments and loyalty for the sake of profit. They are prepared to say to the Empire, “ You can go to hell if you cannot undersell the foreign product.” I ask the Minister if he is not prepared to submit an amendment which will be the means of affording some protection, for the simple reason that we should have some proposition which will give us an opportunity of’ establishing an industry of some kind in the near future? Is there no way by which we can give Imperial preference? Does the Minister mean to give it? I would like him to say “ yes “ or “ no.” He is silent. ‘ Is1 he >not, prepared to give a clear and definite preference?” ‘What does that preference consist of? The Minister has told us that he needs revenue, and I can quite understand that. If he needs revenue, what amount does he wish to raise? He said quite recently that on a duty of £3 per ton the Department raised from £125,000 to £150,000. If that is so, why should we not collect £150,000 on imported paper? But the revenue should be’ derived from imposts on paper manufactured in the Empire, not in foreign countries. Does the Minister know what I have here? This is Japanese paper. Does he know who are asking him for help to bring in foreign products as against the British ? They are the gentlemen for whom the honorable member for Dampier speaks. Some of the Imperalistic newspapers in this country are already using Japanese paper. Even the American paper and the Scandinavian paper is too dear for them. They have no affection for the men of their own race, because their product is too dear. The white man’s product is too dear for them, and so they go to Japan.
– Is there any Japanese newsprint coming in?
– Yes, there is some. I have particulars here of £10,078 worth of newsprint, “ other,” in rolls, in the year 1919-20.
– Already there is a newspaper in this city printing upon Japanese paper. Here are samples of a new importation. The Tango Maru left a Japanese port on the 10th June, and has already arrived with a cargo consigned to the people for whom the honorable member for Dampier speaks. Those are the men who want to knock out the protective and preferential rates. The Minister’s duty, if I may presume to tell him so, is not to listen to the voice of the press. He is responsible to this country, in the first place, to help to establish within Australia, if he possibly can, industries which are owned by Australians, and which are run for Australians. Secondly, his duty is to see that whatever comes into this country shall, if need be, be the product of men of our own race and blood, manufactured under the cover of that flag which is so often spoken about by these so-called patriots, who are patriotsonly when it does not interfere with their pockets. If the Min ister wants revenue, let him raise it upon goods that come from England. If he imposes a 10 per cent. duty on paper from Britain, let him give Britain a preference of 15 per cent. by making the duty on Japanese and Scandinavian paper 25 per cent. That would . mean, on a basis of £25 per ton, a preference of £3 to £4 per ton on British paper. What does the Minister say to that proposition ? Apparently he is against it. If he wants British paper to come in free, then let him impose a duty of 15 per cent. on the Japanese and Scandinavian product. I do. not care howhe fixes it. I do not mind if he levies a duty on the British paper or not, but I do want to see a margin of 15 per cent. in favour of the British as against the Japanese, Scandinavian, and Canadian article. First of all, we should stand by our local industries, and, in the second place, we should stand by what honorable members have all professed so long to believe in, that is, Imperial preference; but when we do give a preference to Great Britain, let us make it real, and not a sham, a fraud, and a delusion. The honorable member for Ballarat proposes a dutyof 45 per cent. on the foreign article. If that is agreed to, let us make the duty on the British article 15 per cent. lower; but the 45 per cent. proposal will not be carried. If it is not, we can try 40 per cent. ; but we will fight this thing from point to point. I put this to the Minister as my last word: “ Stick to what you were prepared to do by giving a preference of at least £3 per ton to British goods. Let that be your sheet anchor and your hope, believing that, in spite of the press of this country, you can stand on any. platform and justify your attitude to the people of Australia.”
– I indorse generally the remarks of the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey), with the exception of some of his forecasts. The Minister (Mr. Greene) fails even yet to realize the importance to Great Britain at this moment of a real protection to her paper industry. It is quite evident, from what has gone on during the past few weeks, that Britain’s foreign competitors are prepared to send into this market, at considerable loss, the paper that is needed by local newspaper producers. If they succeed in that, they will be able to cripple the paper industry of Great Britain for quite a long time to come. During the war, that industry was pushed out of every overseas market because of its patriotic devotion to the needs of the Empire. It devoted the whole of its energies to the production of the paper necessary for the manufacture of munitions and for war services. During all that time, the people buying paper here were exploited in the most scandalous way, and now the British industry finds itself faced with the prospect of extinction unless it can regain some of its outside markets. If there is any industry that ought to appeal to the people of Australia and to this Committee, it is an industry that has made the sacrifices that the British paper industry has made in the common cause of the peoples of the Empire and the Allies. I hope we” shall yet be able to obtain a greater preference in favour of the British product. If we do not secure such a preference as will enable Britain to retain the market of Australia, we shall repay the patriotism of the paper manufacturers of the Old Country by hastening their extinction in the interests of their competitors. I have heard, during these debates, many requests for the imposition of duties of 35 and 40 per cent., and even higher, in order to establish some very small industry in Australia; and on this occasion we should go very much further than a 10 per cent, duty in favour of that great industry in Great Britain which did so much to help to win the war, and which, because of what it did then, is likely to suffer the loss of this market unless this Parliament gives it that protection which our many professions of a desire for the preferential treatment of the Old Land might reasonably have led it to ‘expect. I hope we shall get a little higher duty than the Minister proposes, but ,I am not prepared to go quite so high as 45 per cent. We ought to go at least to 25 per cent, in favour of Great Britain.
.-I listened to the very interesting speech which the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) has been rehearsing for the last couple of days, but which, when stripped of its declamation, has very little left.
– I wish yours were as good.
– I- wish they were also. I should- be very proud to command the honorable member’s language; but I have not got it, and I know it. The honorable member, in spite of his great outburst of - patriotism on this occasion, has . been very silent about Great Britain all the time the Tariff has been going through this Chamber. Night after night we have battled for special preference for Great Britain on other articles, but the honorable member has either been away altogether or has been completely silent. Why, then, this sudden outburst? We know that, during the war, not only have the Canadian and Scandinavian importers been exploiting the people of this country, but in Great Britain the enormous profits made by firms like Coats and Company have been something scandalous. There has been exploitation on every hand, and efforts should have been made to prevent it. If it could not be prevented, the State should have tried to commandeer some portion of the money which was extorted from the public. No one here is- in favour of the exploiter. On the other hand, we must consider those who are building up industries in Australia, and newspaper production is quite as much an industry as any other. Right through the Tariff there will be found very fair preferences in favour of British goods, but in this item, which has been standing in this schedule now for over twelve months, the British rate is 5 per cent., as against a general rate of 10 per cent.,, and I have not heard the honorable member for Bourke, or any one else, make any special complaint about it.
– The honorable member for Bourke has just got the information about the intriguing that has been going on outside. 1
– It is only within the last’ few days that the British agent has been here, and he has done his share of intriguing. A few’ days ago he told me that he was endeavouring to arrange contracts for British firms. I told him to see the country press and endeavour to make contracts with them, and that I would want to hear from the coun- try press if anything in the way of reasonable contracts had ‘ been obtained ; that I could have no association with the agents. Honorable members cry out about Japanese paper, but only about £10,000 worth’ of paper has come from Japan. There has been practically no trade with that country in paper, and we do not anticipate any. Canada, Sweden, Norway, and Finland are supplying us, and we hope that Great Britain will come back into the market. When I proposed my amendment,, I said that I would much prefer to put Great Britain on the free list, but that I did not think the Minister would accept that, because he had included in the schedule a duty of 5 per cent, on British and 10 per cent, on foreign paper, I thought if I proposed 10s. per ton British and 30s. per ton general, I would be giving 100 per cent, more preference to Great Britain than the Minister did. I am pleased the Minister has gone so far now as to propose to make British paper free.
– Has any- other influence than your own caused the Minister to change his mind?
– I do not know, unless the fact has come to the Minister’s knowledge that Great Britain is desirous of getting into the trade again, and that its agents are- coming to Australia. . I am satisfied that the Minister has a keen desire to give preference to Great Britain. It is true that, on several occasions, when I asked for a larger British preference he would not agree to it; but, taking the Tariff right through, honorable members will see that what may be looked on as fair and generous preference has been given. The agent who supplied the honorable member for Bourke with his information asked that British paper should be allowed in free, and a duty of ‘£4 per ton imposed under the general Tariff. The question we have to decide is whether that amount of preference is not too great. I have just been handed a letter from one of the newspaper people. The writer refers to the fact that these people have put proposals before one of the large newspaper companies. In reply, the company writes as follows.: -
Our company has received your letter of 24th June, copies of which have been sent to the other daily papers in this city. This company has not had an opportunity of considering your letter, nor has there been an opportunity of consulting with the other papers. … I know of no paper which is opposed to preference to Great Britain. But it is unfair-
And the speech of the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey), bursting with patriotism significantly absent on other occasions, was unfair, because, stripped of all its platitudes, it was an endeavour to induce this Committee to give an undue and unfair preference - to build upon that opinion a suggestion that such a severe impost as you suggest should be placed upon the newspapers of the Commonwealth.
– The honorable member has a rotten case.
– But he is consistent. As a believer in the alliance with Japan, he thinks he ought to have Japanese paper brought here.
– I have no desire to enter into the discussion of another matter, but I may be pardoned for pointing out that it has been absolutely necessary for us to import strawboard from Japan.; otherwise the local boxmakers could not have carried on their trade. But Japanese strawboard is very inferior, and we know that only a small quantity of printing paper has been imported from Japan, and that, very likely, because of the impossibility of importing sufficient from elsewhere to meet the big demand here. I do not suppose that the Minister (Mr. Greene) can trace other importations from the same source.
– I have not with me the dissected importations of newsprint, except, for the year 1920, when the value was £10,000. I understand that . some paper is being landed from Japan at the present time.
– I have not heard of any previous importations from that source. If it were possible to do so, I would insist upon this printing paper having upon it something to indicate the country of its origin. We are told now that the British mills are desirous of making contracts with a- view to reestablishing their trade in Australia.; but, if they do undertake to supply us, they will need to import paper to meet the requirements of Great Britain itself.
– They are prepared to make a contract for all that is required in Australia.
– But if they do so they must import paper for their own use. Last week, 11,000 tons of printing paper was imported into Great Britain from Germany. I am aware that the British manufacturers are buying spruce forests in Canada with a view to pulping for their requirements, but the only question before us to-day is whether we are giving sufficient preference to Great Britain. The rates of duty set out in the. schedule are British, 5 per cent, and foreign, 10 per cent. The Minister (Mr. Greene) has now come forward with a proposal to allow printing paper to come in free from Great Britain, and impose a duty of 40s. in the intermediate and general columns of the schedule. My original proposal was to make the rates 10s., 25s., and 30s.; but I am quite in sympathy with the Minister’s proposal to impose no duty upon printing paper manufactured in Great Britain. If we were to impose the rate of duty asked for by the representatives of the British manufacturers, namely, £4 per ton, the duty payable upon newsprint imported from other countries, would amount to £280,000 a year. In this connexion the communication from “the newspaper company, portion of which I have already quoted, goes on to say -
The newspapers of Australia realize that the Government must have revenue, and, ‘as patriotic institutions, are willing to meet their share of taxation. I believe a fair maximum rate would be 10 per cent., or £1 10s. per ton, whichever is the lower.
Such a rate would bring in a revenue of about £105,000 per annum. I ask leave to withdraw my amendment, and when the Minister’s amendment “is before the”’ Committee I shall move an amendment upon it for the purpose of reducing the general rate to 30s.
Amendment,- by leave, withdrawn.
– When the opportunity presents itself I shall move to make the rates, British, free; intermediate, £2; general, £2.
Amendment (by Mr. McGrath) proposed -
That the following words be added to subitem C 1, General Tariff column, “And on and after 2nd* July, 1921, 45 per cent.”
– The honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) was absolutely in error in trying to make out that the paper manufac turers of Great Britain could not provide sufficient paper to meet the requirements of Australia, because I have proof of the fact that certain British companies are prepared to enter into ah agreement to provide 50,000 tons of paper per annum for Australia. . Although not personally interested, I have felt very keenly the fact that’ the’ press of Australia were being bled white by those countries which were supplying us with printing paper, among which, I am sorry to say, is Canada; because people of our race in Canada associated themselves with American manufacturers, and fixed upon a price of £75 per ton for the paper they agreed to supply to Australia, and also imposed very heavy shipping freights upon the carriage of it to this country. This is a copy of a cablegram forwarded to the Australian representatives of the paper makers of Great Britain: -
Lloyd’s Imperial Empire and Marsden group undertake to supply, for five years, or longer, up to 50,000 tons per annum any width, standard substance; commencing next year, or earlier, if necessary.
This gentleman has assured me that he has received cables from his principals assuring him that they are in a. position to enter into an agreement to supply this paper at £22 3s. 4d. per ton. The trouble is that those people who have been charging us the excess between this reasonable price and £75 per ton are in a position to utilize , the immense profits they made during the war - proceeds of robbery I call them - by furnishing’ us with paper at- a cheap price in order to drive the British manufacturers out of the market. I wonder what would ‘have been the price ‘ of their paper now if they had not ascertained that British manufacturers were prepared to come upon the market and charge us a fair price. In the circumstances it is only fair that we should give a preference to Great Britain. I sincerely trust that the Minister will not accede to the request for a lower duty against foreign countries. On the other hand, I hope he will increase the rate against those people who penalized us during the war, when we had to depend upon them for supplies of paper. The paper makers of Canada were able to -make contracts with America at certain fixe’d prices, but refused to make such contracts with Australia, simply saying “ Give us your’ orders and we will execute them at our own price, and carry the stuff in our own vessels at our own rates of freight.” If that be so, we have no right, on the pretext f trying to help the press of Australia, to prevent the imposition of an effective Protective duty. In view of the offer whichthe British manufacturers have made,how can it be said that the press of Australia will be penalized ? The only course is to protect those who have made this offer, for five years if necessary, and so prevent dumping by those who took advantage of us in our time of need.
Mr.FENTON (Maribyrnong) [3.46]. - Thehonorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) has certainly opened up a new avenue of thought in relation to this item. Some of the particulars which he gave to the Committee were known to honorable members, but we were not in possession of all the facts he has related. One of the most pleasing features is that our own kith and kin, with big financial backing, are prepared, as soon as Australia is ready, to establish the paper industry in our midst, if practicable.That is the only way in which a great industry like paper-making can be established, and some of us have been putting forward that argument throughout this debate. The Minister, too, has made that policy one of the cardinal principles of- his Tariff, and has mentioned instances of the promise of Protective duties having induced big British firms to establish works in Australia, although we had been told a few years before that there was no possibility of anything of the kind. The timber industry is closely related to paper-making. Already Australian papermill owners have carried out experiments, and the samples before the Committee prove that from our own woods a very good class of paper can be manufactured. I do not know that we possess those words in sufficient quantities, but the experiments have not yet exhausted all varieties of Australian timber. In any case, I understand that close handy in the Pacific Islands are vast forests from which considerable supplies of timber can be obtained for the manufacture of newsprint in Australia. As one who knows something about printing papers, I pronounce the samples before the Committee to be far superior to the paper upon which any newspaper in Australia is printed.
– But that paper would be too expensive for newsprint.
– Yes, but our mills are already turning out good job-printing paper. I know there is a difficulty in obtaining the pulp, but it has been demonstrated that even with the present machinery and plant very fine paper can be produced in the Commonwealth. Investigations should be carried a little further. Australia now has one of the best opportunities ever presented to it of establishing a big industry. With the present plant and material backed by British capital, and perhaps a few leading hands from the Old Country, and the establishment of pulp-making plants, we shall be able to produce in Australia, if not all, at any rate, a reasonable proportion, of the paper we require. In regard to the imports from Japan, it is a known fact that during the war, and even earlier, Japan got her nose into the paper and strawboard trade, and it will not be long before she gets her whole body in.
– Japan has sent us a small quantity of paper.
– According to the Tariff Book, in the year 1918-19 printing paper to the value of £7,058 was imported from Japan, and £59,000 worth from the United Kingdom. It must be remembered that during the war British factories were converted for the production of munitions, but now they have returned to their former business, with the advantage of improved machinery. In the same year the value of the other paper imports was from Canada, £371,000; from Newfoundland, £46,000; from Straits Settlements,£220; . from Norway, £291,925; from Sweden, £121,000; and from the United. States of America, £988,000. We know that the printing trade in America has progressed, and that practically the whole paper production of that country can be absorbed locally. But the capitalists of the United States of America have put their finger in the Canadian pie, and now control the prices of paper in that Dominion. When Australian journalists went to the Canadian mills, they were quoted 3½ cents, but they were referred from place to place, and person to person, until finally the quotation had advanced to 13½ cents. That indicates that Canada has adopted the truly American principle of trying to fleece the people whenever the opportunity is afforded.
– After the style of our manufacturers, who will not sell to retailers.
– I admit that the distribution of goods in Australia is costing the consumer too much. The consumer is not brought sufficiently close to the producer; but when the producers have got rid of the middlemen who are riding so heavily on their backs, they will reap more of the reward they ought to get for their industry. It is safe to say that some of the keenest business men in the world are to be found in Japan, and that country is now operating very extensively in Siberia. There are in Siberia great forests, control of which has passed to Japan as one of the results of the great war. It will be recollected that some years ago the Oriental Timber Company was formed in Geelong, and it was proposed to import great quantities of timber from Siberia. Our late friend, Mr. Max Hirsch, visited eastern countries for the purpose of obtaining supplies In eastern Siberia, Japan has an almost inexhaustible supply of very fine timbers ; and unless preventive measures are taken by means of this Tariff, the present importation of paper from Japan to the value of £7,000 will increase by leaps and bounds, to the vanquishment of every other competitor.
– I propose to first submit the amendment proposed by the Minister for the imposition of a fixed duty. If that is carried, I will permit the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath) to move his amendment to insert an ad valorem duty in the third column or general Tariff. If both amendments are carried, the schedule will then provide for fixed British and intermediate duties and a general ad valorem duty.
– We are prepared to go to a division to-day on the amendment moved by the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath), but not on that moved by the Minister (Mr. Greene).
– If it is the wish of the Committee I am prepared to put, first of all, the amendment moved by the honorable member for Ballarat.
– That is the better course to pursue.
– To do that will beto spring a surprise on the Committee. I do not think honorable members realize the significance of dealing with one of the three items only, and leaving the other two out of proportion. It is dangerous, and we do not know what the result may be.
– I do not intend to accept the honorable member for Ballarat’s amendment, but by disposing of it this afternoon we shall clear the way for Tuesday.
– After that has been disposed of we shall be able to divide on the honorable member for Bourke’s amendment %
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Yes.
– The rule is, that any further amendment can be moved if it does not provide for a higher rate of duty.
– We do not expect to carry the amendment providing for a duty of 45 per cent. under the general Tariff. We only want to give the Government a clear and distinct intimation that we desire that British goods shall be given a distinct preference over foreign imports.
Question - That the amendment (Mr. McGrath’s) be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority.. . . 9
Question so resolved in the negative.
The following paper was presented: -
War Service Homes Act - Land Acquired under, at Hamilton, New South Wales.
– In moving -
That the House do now adjourn, may I be permitted to express the hope that next week we shall make an effort to conclude the consideration of the Tariff schedule? That seems tobe not an unreasonable request to make at this stage of our proceedings and having regard to what lies ahead of us in that schedule. When we have dealt with the Tariff, there are three other Bills to be presented to the House for consideration. In all the circumstances, therefore, we must make up our minds to conclude the consideration of the schedule next week.
.- So far as honorable members upon this side of the Chamber are concerned, we will do our best to assist the Acting Prime Minister (Sir Joseph Cook) to dispose of the Tariff next week. But the honorable gentleman must realize that there is likely to be a heavy discussion upon two or three items. There is,for example, the item of paper with which we have been dealing to-day, and we have also to consider the duties to be imposed upon cardboard and explosives. With the exception of these items, I do not anticipate that there will be much discussion of the schedule. We shall certainly do our best to expedite the transaction of business.
– Since I announced my resignation from the Joint House Committee this morning, I have learned that a horse has been engaged to work in this building. Having dismissed the lift attendant, the President of the Senate has imposed upon one of the employees here by requiring him, in addition to his other duties, to clean the Queen’s Hall. The other cleaners in the building admit that this man, whose name is Peffiter, will have to do three times the amount of work that they do. They are laughing at the joke of the President’s imposition upon this man after his dismissal of the lift attendant. I cannot countenance this sort of conduct, and, consequently, I have resigned from the Committee.
– Before putting the motion for the adjournment of the House, I desire to say that I have made inquiries into the matter which was brought under my notice last night by the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney), and which was alluded to this morning, and again this afternoon, by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Mathews). I have had a personal interview with the Chairman of the Joint House Committee, and I have also had conversations with the members of that Committee who were present at its last meeting. I requested the President of the Senate as Chairman of the Committee to furnish me with a full report of the action of which complaint has been made. From his report, which I shall read for the information of honorable members,I gather that the appointments to which exception has been taken are not within the purview of the Joint House Committee at all. They are under the control of the Public Service Commissioner and the Auditor-General, who have several times requested the authorities here - the head of the staff and others - to take action.
– It is about time that we had control over our own officers.
– The report states -
Denholm has not been “ dismissed “ - his services as a temporary employee were terminated in accordance with the requirements of the
Public Service Act, to which the pointed attention of the head of the Joint House Department was called by the Auditor-General.
His services were no longer required owing to a re-arrangement of the duties of the staff by the head of the Department, and no appointment of any one to take his place will be necessary.
The termination of his services was made by the head of the Department, under the authority conferred on him by the Public Service Act. The Chairman of the Joint House Committee had nothing to do with it, nor did any suggestion come from the Committee, or any member of it, regarding the action taken; but when the matter was mentioned at its last meeting, the Committee, including the Chairman, unanimously agreed to leave it in the full discretion of the head of the Department, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Service Act.
The Chairman of the Joint House Committee fully indorses and supports the action taken by the head of the Joint House Committee Department.
– Who is the head of that Department?
– Mr. U’Ren.
.- May I say a word or two upon this matter now ?
– I think it would be better if the honorable member would embrace another opportunity to do so.
– That will probably mean the submission of a motion for the adjournment of the House next week, because we cannot go on in this way.
– The members of the Joint House Committee who are members of this Chamber are not now present, and consequently it would be better for the honorable member to defer his remarks till a later date.
– Then we shall have to avail ourselves of a day next week, Tariff or no Tariff.
– The honorable member cannot have a day next week.
.- I am glad that we are getting definite information upon this matter. In the past, Mr. U’Ren has been treated as a mere cipher.
– I beg to call attention to the state of the House.[Quorum formed.]
.- (By leave.) - You, Mr. Deputy Speaker, have stated that, after inquiries from different sources, it has been found that the case of this young man is not one for the Joint House Committee, but one which concerns the AuditorGeneral, who has, on different occasions, drawn attention to the fact that he has been employed here as a temporary hand for a longer term than is sanctioned by the Public Service Act Regulations. I have no doubt that that statement is correct. The Public Service Act Regulation, if my memory serves me aright, provides that a temporary employee cannot be retained for more than nine months, whereas this young fellow, to my knowledge, has been employed here for ten years, or thereabouts. During that period I have always found him most courteous and obliging; indeed, I do not think there could be a better lad employed in this House. I have quietly interested myself in the case for the last three or four weeks. It became known to me that there was a move to dismiss this lad, and I felt very keenly for him. He is in illhealth, consequent uponbeing, inoculated at the request of the Joint House Committee, and is now unable to follow any other employment than such as that he has been engaged in here. I interviewed an officer on the Senate side, who pointed out, as you,sir, have done this afternoon, that efforts had been made by the Auditor-General to have him displaced on the ground that he was not a permanent employee. I do not wish to go into the whole facts of the case, hut I remind you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that this young man could be created a. permanent official. The strange thing is that two other young men, who entered the parliamentary employment six or eight months ago, or, at any rate, quite recently, have been gazetted as permanent officers. It is true that these are returned men; but we notice the great difference in the treatment. This liftman endeavoured to enlist for the war, but was rejected as unfit.
– He did so on three occasions’.
– That is; so. Why not make him a permanent officiallike the two men to whom I have referred? In my opinion, any man who offered his services, and was rejected, stands in the same category as a returned soldier.
– That is what the Returned Soldiers Leagueargues.
– -And I dp not think that, under the circumstances, any returned soldier would take this lad’s place. My only desire is to see justice done. There is some power at work within the precincts of the House, quite apart from the Auditor-General, to “ set “ this yung fellow. I know all the facts of the case, hut I shall not deal with them this afternoon. With all the feeling at my command I say that I have watched this boy ever since -he came here, and that he has always fulfilled his duties in a perfectly satisfactory way so far as I have observed. In view of his impaired health, the least we can do is to find him suitable employment.
.- I sincerely trust that the authorities of the Parliament will take into consideration the facts and arguments that have been placed before us this afternoon. I believe that every member of this Parliament has a good word to say for this man, who, although he looks very young, has, I believe, a wife to support.
– No, but he has an invalid sister.
– This young man is not in- the physical state he was when he entered the Service, and is unable to do hard’ work. During the influenza epidemic he was compelled by the parliamentary officials to undergo inoculation, and it is this which has led to his present ill-health. As a returned soldier’, and a member of the Soldiers League, I can say that the official body of that League would not sanction the displacement, in favour of any returned soldier, of a young man who had offered his services to the country. I- trust that between now and Tuesday the matter will be reconsidered, and a satisfactory solution arrived at.
.- I indorse the remarks which have been made in regard to- the courtesy with which .members have always been treated by this young man, and to the ready response he has always made to demands upon him. It might happen occasionally that one had to ring the lift bell more than once, but he could always be heard running to the lift from some place where possibly he had been delivering a message. Quite recently there has been an appointment made in another place, and, although it is said that this man’s services are not necessary, we find a new man in the lift to-day. It has been- said that the lift attendant has been seen under the influence of liquor, but while he was working the lift, and, before that, when he was employed in the Refreshment Room, I never saw any sign of liquor about him.
– And u either have I during the ten years.
– -I thought, at first, that this dismissal was the result of a spasm of economy on the part of the Government, because of the representations made by the Taxpayers Association, the Australian Natives Association, and others, but I am now disabused of that idea, in view of the fact that another man is now working the lift.
.- Some time ago I asked whether the employee in charge of our lift received wages up to the award made for liftmen outside. I am of opinion that the Government should pay their employees award rates in every instance. I understand that this young man’s wages amounted to £2 8s. per week. The award for liftmen is lis. per day, and from the time that was mentioned a certain gentleman holding a position in another place has been very much offended with me for making inquiries in connexion with the matter. I will not say what he said, but certain words passed, and there has been evident a desire to remove this young mau, who possesses British pluck, and, like myself, will stand up for his rights and damn every one who tries to deny them.
.- Older members of the House have spoken, and I think it is right that, as a young member, I should say that I have always received the utmost courtesy from the liftboy to whom reference has been made. In my view, it is regrettable that his services have been dispensed with, and that another person should now be doing the work at which he was previously employed. There is no question of economy at issue, though there seems to be some misunderstanding on that point. I should fail in justice to this young man, who has an invalid sister and elderly mother dependent upon him, if I did not say that I had always received the utmost courtesy from him. I hope that he. will be restored to his former position, and will continue to merit the affection of members of both parties in this House.
.- I also appeal to you, sir, to -see that justice is done to this young man. The fact that he has rendered service here for ten years sufficiently indicates that his service was not unsatisfactory. I have been a member of the House for about four years, and to say that this young ‘man was anything but courteous and efficient is to utter a travesty of the truth. There is another aspect of the question which should be given- consideration. From time to time honorable members have made inquiries as to the salaries paid to parliamentary attendants. There seems to he, on. the part of those in control of those attendants, a tendency to resent any application by them for better conditions.
– - There is not very much in that.
– It kas something to do with this matter, because I have reason to believe that the dismissal of this young man is only a beginning, and that when we go into recess shortly other servants of the Parliament will be dealt with in a similar manner.
– Any one who asks for his rights is “snouted” by the heads.
– It is high .time, whatever course may be followed in another place, that honorable members of this House should secure control over the officials who minister to their wants here. We are supposed to be responsible for them, and the dismissal of this young man is, in my opinion, a reflection on every member of this House. We should insist upon the appointment of a Committee of honorable members who shall have full control over the appointment of our attendants. The Committee should be responsible for what is done in connexion with them, and they should not be handed over to. splenetic individuals.
.- The honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine) has touched upon the real trouble, and that is that the House Committee apparently, has no say in connexion with the appointment of attendants upon Parliament. The President is Chairman of the House Committee, and Mr. Speaker is also a member of it. It is a Joint Committee in every respect, and should be given more extended powers than it has. I had the honour of serving on the Committee at one time, and .1 know that questions concerning the wages of the refreshmentroom staff were considered and determined by that Committee. Why one section’ of the wages staff of Parliament should be under the control of the Committee and another should be removed from that control has always been a mystery to me. The right course to pursue is to give greater power to the House Committee to control the wages staff. So far as this particular young man is concerned, I may truthfully say that during the last eighteen months, while acting in an official position, as one of the Whips of the Ministerial -party, I never found him anything but obliging to the utmost degree. If there has been urgency in advising honorable members that a division was about to take place, or it has been necessary to inform some honorable member that his presence was urgently required, .this particular lad was always found willing .to render assistance in a marked degree.’ Few honorable members have had .as much running about this building as- I have had in the last eighteen months, and, in common with’ my predecessors in the position of Whip, I can assert that this young man has always been most obliging and respectful. I cannot for the life of me understand why. he should be penalized after ten years’ service.
– Or why the paltry excuse should be given that he was not a permanent hand, when another man has been appointed to replace him.
– It was a complete surprise to me to hear that the services of this lad had been dispensed with. As one who has had something to do with the Returned Soldiers- League, I join with the honorable member for- Ballarat (Mr. McGrath) in saying that, while it is the policy of the league that there should be-‘ preference to returned soldiers, it has never asked that men who .genuinely tried and failed to go to the Front should be displaced to make room for returned soldiers. The league has always contended that where fresh appointments areconcerned, returned soldiers should be given priority; but that is a different matter altogether. I feel that on this occasion one is bound to say what he knows of the young man in question, and I hope that, as a result of this debate, some definite action will be taken to give this lad, at an independent inquiry, an opportunity to state his case in detail, or, failing that, that the House Committee will be armed with much more extensive powers than it possesses to-day.
.- I desire to explain the reason for the injury to the arm of this unfortunate young man. During the influenza scare, the officers and other persons attached to the staff of this Parliament were asked to undergo a serum injection. The man in question opposed that, because his medical adviser had expressed the view that he was not in good health, and that it would not be well for him to be inoculated. However, Dr. Stevens, who. is a very good man, and who was tha departmental officer Who was doing the inoculating, asked that he might make an examination of him, and then said, “ In. my opinion you are fit to have serum injected.” Thereupon the young man underwent the necessary treatment. The consequences, however, were so severe that Dr. Stevens did not give the second injection.- To my knowledge, this unfortunate individual has been attending hospital for massage and other treatment, month after, month, and his arm. is not right at the present- moment. Conservative minds in the medical and surgical world are not too strongly convinced concerning the ultimate effects of serum treatment. ‘Great results certainly have been, obtained by it. This. cas.e is .the only one in which the inoculation did .not prove satisfactory among all those dealt with in this establishment. The honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Bamford), myself, and the President of the Senate, had experience on one occasion of certain vaccines, and we were the unfortunate
Ones. Serum treatments frequently give results which .are anything but desirable. I am sure every honorable member is sorry that the young man’s mother has been dragged into this vendetta. It was stated that she had written a letter saying that her son had told untruths about his hours of attendance in this building, and, in other words,, that, he was not re- liable. I have to thank Senator de Largie for the honorable position he to.ok up in this matter. In the Hansard reports of 26th November, 1920 (page 707), there will be found a complete refutation of. the accusation, for the letter was never.seen, and could not be produced.
– But ever since then the boy has been in trouble.
– Undoubtedly. Mr Speaker (Hon. Sir Elliot Johnson) ari.nounced some time ago that, on account of the increased cost of living, a certainallowance would be granted to various employees in this building, and the amount- £10 - was ultimately increased to £15. The young man- in question, in company with several of ‘his fellow workers, was opening -his pay envelope in the presence of the Senate .officer who was making the payment, namely, Mr. Broinowski, and he found that he had been given only £12 10s., whereas the others, had received £15. He turned round, and. said, “Look! I have been robbed.” The, paying officer reported this remark to -the President, saying, however, that the young man had said that he (Broinowski.) had done the robbery. Ohe other fellow employee was present throughout, the. whole incident,, and he, as well as the young man immediately concerned, is willing to give sworn evidence that the words were not used as the Senate officer complained. The young man was ready to go before a Select Committee of the Senate, in order to give evidence; but he was not permitted to be a witness.. On two distinct occasions he was summoned by the Committee to appear before it, and he actually- obtained permission from the head of his Department (Mr. U’Ren) ; but the President told him that if he dared,’ to give evidence to the Committee, drastic action would be taken against him. The honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Fleming) tabled a motion in this chamber proposing an inquiry into the position of the employees of the Parliament. Unfortunately, its immediate discussion was objected to by the late honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Page) and by another honorable member on the other side of the House. Thus the desired appointment of a Committee from this side of the Parliament to act with the Senate Committee was frustrated: Had such a Committee been appointed> it would have acted in conjunction with the Senate Committee, and some final understanding would have been arrived at. It is absurd that we should have two authorities controlling the affairs of this Parliament, the one governing this House and the other governing Senate matters, and that either, or both, should at times come into contact with the Joint House Committee. The result of it all is that we do not know where we are in regard to the control of our employees. I feel sure that honorable members will give this young man a chance. It is idiotic to say that a man is temporarily employed when he has served in this building for ten years; it is wicked, as well as absurd. Permanency of employment is the greatest incentive possible to good service.
– I have carefully noted what has been said in regard to this matter. I can only present the report of the Joint House Committee as it has been submitted to me . I referred specifically, first to that portion of the report of the Committee which stated that the employee concerned has not been dismissed; and, secondly, to the statement that no one has been appointed to take his place. As to the permanency of his employment, I do not see that any inquiries of mine can lead anywhere, or take matters any further. The young man is apparently under the control of the Public Service Commissioner, who is governed, of course, by the Public Service Act. The Auditor-General has repeatedly drawn attention to the fact that persons placed in positions such as that of the young man in question are temporary officers, and, as such, cannot be retained in service beyond a certain period. Acting upon this, the Joint House Committee has taken action. I have done all that ispossible in the limited time at my disposal. I have interviewed “the President and every member of the House Committee who was present at yesterday’s meeting, I have submitted this report to them individually, in order to ask for their corroboration, or approval, or rejection of the statements contained therein, and each of those with whom I spoke has assured me that the report, as it has been presented, is absolutely correct; that is to say, that the Committee, as a Com mittee, did not take independent action in this matter, but simplyhad to obey the law.
– But why did the Committee take ten years to find out that it had to obey the law in this case?
– I think I should not be expected to answer that question. The Public Service Act makes provision that a certain period - I think the maximum is nine months - shall be the term of service of a temporary officer, and there is the further provision, I believe, that he may after an interval be reemployed. Distinctly, however, the limit of continuous temporary employment is nine months. It was not the intention of the Act that any one classed as a temporary employee should be retained in service for ten consecutive years, without becoming a permanent officer. I do not know why that procedure was not adopted in this instance.
– Unfortunately, this dismissal will be taken as a precedent in regard to other employees. There are other individuals connected with this Parliament who have given long and faithful service, and they come under the same category as temporary employees. The present dismissal may be taken as a certainforerunner of others.
– A lead has already been taken in that direction. I refer to one of the employees stationed in the Queen’s Hall.
– I, no more than any other individual, can go beyond the law. There appears to be something in the suggestion of the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Burchell) that the responsible Minister should consider whether the Joint House Committee should not be clothed with sufficient powers to deal with its own employees. I shall do what I can in the whole matter. I shall request Hansard to supply me with two copies of its record of this debate, and one of these I shall have submitted to the President. Meantime, I shall make further inquiries, and I hope to be in a position on Tuesday next to furnish a further statement.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.50 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 1 July 1921, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1921/19210701_reps_8_96/>.