8th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Hon. J. M. Chanter) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Has the attention of the Acting Prime Minister been called, since I last addressed a question to him on the subject, to the very serious inconvenience that has been caused in some of the States by the application of the provisions of the Navigation Act to overseas shipping companies?
– I have been absent from Melbourne since Friday, when, I think, the honorable member last drew my attention to this matter. No doubt the Act is causing some inconvenience, and will do so until readjustments have been made. Compliance with its conditions, means, among other things, the provision of more space for the crew, and that on some ships will lessen the passenger space.
– The effect is that some ports will be shut out altogether. The Act is going to affect Tasmania very seriously.
– There will be inconvenience until matters have shaken down, as, no doubt, they will within a short time.
– Has the Minister for Trade and Customs any information to give the House about the case of Smith v. Hudson, in which his Department is alleged to be defending an action for a refund of duty paid under protest, on the ground that the word “ paid “ was left out and only the words “under protest” used? Mr. Justice Pring is reported to have said that he was ashamed to think that any Government would take such a point, and that what had occurred was astounding. I am sure that neither the House nor the country desires that any Department shall be run like a small pawnbroking establishment.
– I understand that the case is not finalized, although a formal verdict has been given. When the proceedings are finished, I shall tell the House what was done.
– Is the Acting Prime Minister prepared now to give the country the names of those members who have not drawn the increased allowance voted by Parliament? He promised last week to give the matter consideration.
– I am still giving it consideration.
Representation of Australia
– Some time ago, when I asked if it were the intention of the Government to be represented at the British Empire Exhibition of 1923 that is to be held in England, the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) said that when he was in England he would make inquiries on the subject. Has the Acting Prime Minister any information about the matter?
– None whatever, so far.
Maintenance of Law and Order
– I ask the Acting Prime Minister if it is true that the Administrator of the Northern Territory has suspended the constitutional means of settling disputes, and that a Mr. Nelson has proceeded against him for assault, the Administrator being fined £1, and costs?
– He was not fined.
– I have seen a telegram in which it is stated that he was fined £1, with costs.I ask the Acting Prime Minister if he will do his level best to maintain law and order in the Northern Territory?
– Yes, I shall do so ;but may I suggest to the honorable member that he, for his part, might well send a communication to Mr. Nelson, asking him to behave better than he did when he interrupted a public function in the Northern Territory, and suggesting that he might use some other occasion for distributing his Bolshevik literature?
– An ad valorem duty has been imposed on wire of 14-in; gauge and under, which includes fencing wire of small gauge. I understood from the Minister at the time that such wire when used for fencing would be admitted at the fencing-wire rate, but this morning I have received a letter from the Department stating that only when used for making wire netting or barbed wire will 14-in. gauge or smaller wire be admitted at the lower duty. We were given to understand that a duty of £18 per ton will have to be paid on this wire, and I ask the Minister, therefore, if he will take prompt action to correct this anomaly ?
– Yes ; we shall do so.
– I ask the Acting Prime Minister whether there is an embargo on the export of coal from the Maitland mines, and whether the Government intend to extend it to the coal from the Borehole seam? Is the right honorable gentleman aware that the Prime Minister, when the matter was being dealt with, gave the undertaking that the Borehole coal should not be interfered with, so that those who were chartering might provide for vessels coming to Australia for coal for foreign ports?
– There is an embargo on the export of coal, or, at least, control is exercised in regard to coal exportations. It was found necessary to impose that control in order that Australia might have enough coal for her own purposes. The price of coal overseas is now sohigh that, were there no control, this country would have to go short of coal, because it would be exported to countries where it could be sold at higher rates. For some time past there has been a very strict control in regard to the coal won in the Newcastle districtj though at first control was applied only to the Maitland coal. I understand that the Maitland coal was originally put under control because the representations of persons connected with industry in Australia showed that it was best suited for their requirements. However, only 4,000,000 tons of Maitland coal are produced per annum, while the requirement of Australia is from 6,500,000 to 7,000,000 tons. Therefore, there is not enough.Maitland coal to meet our needs. Maitland coal has had to be sold in Australia at the price fixed some time ago by the Court, namely, 21s. per ton, while Borehole coal could be exported overseaswithout restriction and sold for very much more. That did not seem fair or right, and, therefore, the control has been extended to the Borehole coal, to put it on the same footing as the Maitland coal.
– Is the Acting Prime. Minister aware that the coal produced in New South Wales is upwards of 1,500,000 tons per annum over and above the requirements of the Commonwealth, and, if the Government are going tocontrol both of the seams named, will he make arrangements whereby the colliery owners will be able to charter vessels for the overseas trade so as to prevent the closing down of mines?
– The action I am taking is at the suggestion of Commander Fearnley, who is in control of matters up there, and who emphatically assures me that by taking control of both kinds of coal he can do very much better for both Australian requirements and the overseas trade than would otherwise be possible.
Complaint Against Naval Board
-Is the Minister for the Navy in a position today to make a statement regarding the severe criticism levelled against his Department for its alleged failure to send out vessels to search forsteamersoverdue at the port of Sydney ?
– The Naval Board has a policy from which it is most difficult to depart without interfering seriously with the training of our men. When the vessel which the honorable member has in mind was reported to be overdue, the Naval Board immediately caused wireless messages to be sent out to all ships at sea, requesting that a strict lookout be kept for the missing vessel. Some of our own ships which were at sea at the time were also so instructed by wireless, and asked to carefully watch for an S.O.S. message, on re- ceipt of which one of them should be despatched at once to the assistance of the missing steamer. No one is more anxious than I am that every assistance shall be given to those in peril on the sea; but I think I may safely say that almost every week, or at all events at least every month, a ship is reported missing from one or other of the Australian ports. If, whenever such a report was received, a naval vessel were sent out to make a search, it would be practically impossible for our training arrangements to be properly carried out. It is our desire that our ships shall be kept as effective as the limited funds at our disposal will allow.
– Are vessels of the Navy able, then, to train only in calm waters ?
– Their operations are carried on in allwaters. The vessels of the Australian Navy carry crews of from 200 to 400 men, and are without any accommodation for passengers. Would it not be unreasonable to despatch a vessel, with a crew of 400 men and with a coal consumption costing £300 per day, to look for a ship for which any ordinary vessel, with a crewof, say, thirty men, might very well search ? The Naval Department cannot undertake salvage work, since that would mean that we should have no training for our men. In a case, however,such as that which happened off the New South Wales coast a few days ago, when we knew that the crew of a vesesl was in distress, we at once sent out a ship. More than that, however, the Naval Board cannot do.
– The honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) on Friday last asked whether, if other vessels were not. available, some of the steamers of the Commonwealth Government Line which were held up for lack of cargo could not be used to convey flour to Great Britain, so thatAustralian millers might fulfil their orders. I have had inquiries made, and find that the rate of freight on flour to Great Britain is so low as to make it entirely unremunerative to load a ship for the United Kingdom inview of the fact that there appears to be no prospect of obtaining back loading.
In the circumstances, it does not pay to take a cargo of flour to Great Britain.
The following papers were presented : -
Increased Duty on Bananas. - Cablegram received by His Excellency the GovernorGeneral from the Acting Governor of Fiji, dated Suva, 24th June, 1921.
Public Service Act - Department of the Treasury - Appointments, Promotions of -
B. Biden, W. V. Fyfe, L. C. Lovegrove, B. B.R. Adderley, W. S. Appleyard, H. P. McFall, J. A. Williamson, E. McFall, A. G. Wall, S. L. Bagley, S. H. Hawkins.
FREEZING PLANT FOR s.s. EURELIA.
asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
In Committee of Ways and Means:
Considerationresumed from 1st July (vide page 9633). divisionxiii.-paperand stationery.
(1) News printing, not glazed, mill. glazed, or coated, in rolls not less than 10 : inches in width or in sheets not less than 20 inches by 25 inches or its equivalent, ad val., British, 5 per cent.; intermediate, 10 per cent.; general, 10 per cent.
(1) Copying and manifold copying, in sheets or rolls, weight not to exceed 0 lb. for 480 sheets 20 x 30 inches, ad val., British, free; intermediate, 5 per cent.; general, 10 per cent.
(1) Writing and typewriting paper (plain), in sheets not less than 16 x 13 inches, ad val., British, 20 per cent.; intermediate, 25 per cent.; general, 30 per cent.
(1) Wrapping of all colours (glazed, unglazed, or mill-glazed), browns, caps not elsewhere specified, casings, sealings, nature or ochre browns, sulphites, sugars, and all other bag papers, candle carton paper, paper felt and carpet felt paper, per cwt., British, 6s.; intermediate, 7s.; general, 8s.; or ad val., British, 30 per cent.; intermediate, 35 per cent.; general, 40 per cent.; whichever rate returns the higher duty.
(1) N.E.I., cover paper, and pressings, ad val., British, 30 per cent.; intermediate, 35 per cent.; general, 40 per cent.
s ) ( 1 ) Strawboard, per cwt:, British, 2s.; intermediate, 2s.6d. ; general, 3s. 6d.
.- I understand that the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) proposes that imports from Great Britain under subitemc, which deals with news printing paper and printing paper n.e.i., shall be free, while a duty of £2 per ton shall be imposed under the intermediate and general Tariffs.
– Yes; I am adhering to that proposal.
– Then, instead of moving for a duty of 40 per cent. under the general Tariff, I shall vary the proposal that I made on Friday last by asking that such imports shall be free under the British preferential Tariff, and dutiable at 15 per cent. under the intermediate and general Tariff. I want an ad valorem instead of a fixed duty. My proposal will mean, with the price of paper at £25 per ton, a preference of £3 15s. per ton for British imports. With a further fall of £2 per ton, it will mean a preference of £3 per ton. That is what I want. I move -
That sub-item (C) (1) be amended by adding the following : - “ And on and after 6th July, 1921, ad val., British, free; intermediate,. 15 per cent.; general, 15 per pent.”
– I do not think that the proposal of the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) will achieve the object which he has in view. The method which will be adopted by the American Combine to kill the British paper business in Australia will doubtless be to sell newsprint here for a few months at a low price, so that the ad valorem duty will be decreased proportionately. It is quite possible, therefore, that within the next month the ad valorem rate advocated by the honorable member will be less than the fixed duty proposed by the Minister.
– No. The price of paper would have to fall to the pre-war price before the ad valorem duty which I propose would be less than the fixed duty proposed by the Minister.
– With paper at £10 per ton the ad valorem duty advocated by the honorable member would represent only 30s. per ton, whereas the Minister has proposed a fixed duty of £2 per ton. If the cost of paper were £12 per ton, which represents a little more than its pre-war price, an ad valorem duty of 15 per cent. would therefore be less than the duty proposed by the Minister. We have also to consider that the pre-war price of” newsprint is quite easy of realization by the Combine. The cost of production at the mills in America is 3½ cents per lb., so that as between the two propositions I prefer that submitted by the Minister, although I would like him to increase the duty a little. Britain is entitled to a preference of at least £3 per ton as against the American Combine. That Combine practically controls the whole of the newsprint supplies from America, irrespective of whether they are produced in the United States or in Canada. This organization exhibited very little regard for Australia during the war, and nothing whatever can be said in its favour. Upon the other hand, the British manufacturers of paper are entitled to our support in their efforts to recapture the markets which they have lost, owing to their patriotic action during the war. If honorable members only realize the position, I feel sure they will provide an opportunity for the British manufacturers to re-establish and extend their Australian market. I am satisfied that if the necessary encouragement be forthcoming they are in a position to supply the whole of our newsprint requirements. Some persons have urged that the British manufacturers donot send any newsprint here. As a matter of fact, I was using British newsprint years before the outbreak of war, and soalso. were the daily newspapers of Melbourne. Lloyd’s Agency had considerable contracts in Melbourne, and the British manufacturers to-day are able to supply the whole of our requirements at a reasonable price. Of course, I know that a lower price will be quoted by the Combine so long as there is a competitor in the field. But the position of the British paper industry is such that if wo do not go to its aid there will be no competitor with the Combine . in the near future. In my opinion the newspaper proprietors of Australia are acting very unwisely in permitting British competition to be driven entirely out of our market. It was a short-sighted policy on their part which led to some of the troubles experienced during the war, and a similar policy, if pursued to-day, will eventually result in the handing over of the Australian market to the -tender mercies of the American Combine without the possibility of there being any other competitor in the field. I hope that the Committee will grant a substantial preference to the Old Country - a preference which will enable its manufacturers to produce newsprint to the advantage of Australia, and one to which they areentitled because of the services they rendered us when it was necessary that somebody should produce the paper required for war purposes rather than exploit the markets of the world, as other countries did. I intend therefore to move-
That the following words be added to subitem (c) : - “ And on and after 6th July, 1921, per ton - British, free; intermediate, £3; general, £3.”
.- The honorable member’s amendment will suit me, and I am quite willing to withdraw my own in its favour. But I understand that the ad valorem duty must be settled before we deal with the fixed duty.
– I do not know what is the procedure.
– I am willing to withdraw my amendment, but if I do so, and the honorable member’s amendment be defeated, I cannot afterwards propose an ad valorem rate of 15 per cent.
– But the honorable member may vote for a lower fixed duty.
– I desire to know precisely where I stand. An ad valorem duty of 15 per cent. represents a preference to Great Britain of about £3 15s. per ton.
– Upon the normal price it is more than £3 per ton, but upon the price which is now being quoted it is not.
– Before the ad valorem duty can fall to less than the fixed duty proposed by the Minister, the price of newsprint will have to decline below its pre-war price.
– It will decline to almost nothing if that course be necessary to kill the British industry.
– I quite agree with the honorable member’s statement. I shall, therefore, adhere to the ad valorem duty which I have proposed, namely 15 per cent. If my proposal be defeated, the honorable member for Illawarra will afterwards be at liberty to move for the imposition of a duty of £3 perton, and if he does so, I can assure him of my support.
.- It is difficult to know exactly where we stand. The honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) moved an amendment; the next momenthe intimated his withdrawal of it; now he wishes to resubmit it.
– I did not withdraw it.
– Then, I understand that the honorable member has moved that the duty upon newsprint under the intermediate and general Tariffs shall be 15 per cent. I hope that the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) will not consent to that. When we were dealing with steel, of which commodity Great Britain isone of the chief manufacturers of the world, no desire was exhibited by the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) to grant a preference to her manufacturers to enable them to obtain a strong hold of our market. Yet, that isthe course which he is adopting in connexion with the paper industry, notwithstanding that Britain has to import a very large proportion of her own newsprint. If we grant this special preference, the British manufacturers, for some time at least, will be able to manufacture paper for which our newspaper proprie tors will have to pay an increased price, although British newspaper proprietors will be obliged to importnewsprint for theirown requirements.
– That is hardly a fair statement..
– It is a correct statement. Britain has always been a fairly large importer of newsprint. I know the effort she is making to render herself absolutely independent in connexion with the manufacture of this class of paper. She has acquired large forests in Canada, with the view to- securing pulp. I am glad to knowthat the Minister agrees with the proposal that newsprint from Great Britain should be admitted free.
A dutyof 30s. to 40s. per ton is a con siderableincrease on the old duties of free and 5 per cent., and, later, of 5 per cent. and 10 per cent. During the past few months . British agents have been taking orders under the 5 per cent. and 10 per cent. duties, with a view to obtaining absolute control of the market, and they have been touting within Parliament House for such a large Tariff against other countries as to make it impossible for the latter to compete. The whole of the burden is placed on the newspapers of this country, and it has been particularly felt by the country newspapers, which, unlike the newspapers of the big cities, cannot pass it on. In my opinion, a duty of 30s. to 40s. is ample. When we know that Britain will have to import newsprint, it is most unfair to propose that the newspapers of this country should be penalized to the extent of £4 per ton. in addition to the cost of transport. Last year the output in Norway and Sweden of newsprint was about 300,000 tons, and of that 195,000 tons were exported to Great Britain. This might be due to the fact that the British manufacturers have not yet been able to resume their old output; at the same time, it. is clear that, even if British manufacturers had nothing to do with the Australian market, she would still have to import for her own requirements. While my own idea is that a duty of 30s. would be sufficient, I am prepared to go with the Minister to the extent of 40s., though an increase of 300 per cent. on the original proposal seems too great. The higher duty will not mean any more employment in Great Britain, because the first duty of the British manufacturer is to supply the British people before exporting. What is asked for is a special and unfair preference. No one would deny that right throughout the consideration of this Tariff , I have consistently supported preference to Great Britain, but now it is proposed to go beyond what is just to the newspapers of this country. If itcould be shown that Britain was an exporter of newsprint in thesense that she is able to supply her own requirements and have enough for export, and that 30s. to 40s. would not afford her protection, the further proposals might be worthy of consideration; but not one argument has been advanced to show that this increased protection is necessary to enable the British manufacturer to fight a fair battle . I specially plead for the country newspapers, which were “hard hit” during the war. The Minister has specially investigated theircase, and has come to the conclusion that what is necessary is a duty beyond what I consider a fair thing; but, as I have said, I am prepared to accept 40s. I understand that it requires about 1½ tons of coal to make 1 ton of newsprint, and, with the enormous price of coal, the cost of the paper has been somewhat higher. There is no doubt we were exploited during the war, not only in connexion with newsprint, but in connexion with almost every other commodity. I had some wonderful statistics prepared showing the enormous increases in prices; and a remarkable fact disclosed was that the only machine that did not show an increase was the oil engine. In many cases combines were created -for the purpose of exploiting the public ; and there is no doubt that, in this direction, we shall have some serious matters under our consideration shortly. We hope that conditions will gradually approach the normal,and we ought to take a reasonable stand in preparing our Tariff so as to give fair protection to our own people, with preference to Great Britain. What is a fair preference to give to Great Britain? I do not meana preference that would result in a monopoly,but a preference which would give Great Britain a chance of competing on fair terms. Prior to the war, and in the very early periods of the war, Great Britain, with a free and 5 per cent. Tariff, and, later, duties of 5 per cent. and 10 per cent., was able to hold her own in the Australian market; and I can see no ground for the proposed increase of 400 per cent. I hope the Committee will consider carefully before accepting either the amendment of thehonorablemember for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) or that suggested by the honorable member for Illawarra (Mr. Hector Lamond).
.- The honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) is unnecessarilyconcerned about the interests of the country newspaper proprietors. It isnot so long since the Country Newspaper Association wasvery anxious that the Minister should impose a duty on newsprint of£3 per ton.
-That is so.
– ThePrime Minister had to intervene to secureany paper for them at all at one stage.
– If the statementI have made is correct, there can be no great objection on the part of the country newspaper proprietors to the proposal of the honorable member forIllawarra (Mr. Hector Lamond) . The speech made by the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) on Friday afternoon was of so sensational a character that I wondered if there had not been some little exaggeration on the honorable member’s part, due to the enthusiasmwithwhich he usually presents a case. I waited with some interest to see what the newspapers, and especially the metropolitan newspapers of this city, would have to say on the matter. Their silence in this regard is. very suggestive indeed. The Age was particularly silent. It cut the report of the speech of the honorable member for Bourke down to about halfadozenlines, and those lines, of course, give an altogether incorrect idea of the honorable member’s speech . The other newspapers have treated the honorable member’s remarks in much the same way. It occurs to me that, in view of the fact that there has been no refutation of them, we must take the accuracy of the remarks of the honorable member for granted. That being so, it is, I think, quite clear that the duties proposed, will inflict no undue hardship on the newspaper proprietors, whilst they will give effectto the principle of preference to British products, which, I understand, is the policy, not only of the Government, but ofthe country as a whole. What wc have heard with regard to the possibility of the establishment of the manufacture of newsprint in Australia is another reason why we should give the preference to Great Britain which is proposed. There is, I believe, a substantial prospect of the manufacture of paper in Australia from our own wood pulps. Western Australia has taken a keen interest in- the matter, and with assistance from other States, has carried its experiments forward to such a stage that they promise very well indeed for the future.
When a British paper manufacturing organization makes a promise, as I understand is the case with regard to the development of the manufacture of paper in Australia, .that is a sufficient justification for the preference now proposed. In view of the fact that the country press proprietors suggested a duty of £3 per ton, I shall have no hesitation whatever in supporting the amendment moved by the honorable member for Illawarra.
– I hope that the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene), if he does not see his way to accept the amendment moved by the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey), will accept the suggestion made by the honorable member for Illawarra (Mr. Hector Lamond). Since the House rose on Friday, I have made some inquiries concerning the matter referred to by the honorable member for Bourke, and, according to my information, it is not only probable, but practically certain, that in the not distant future, if we adopt the duty now proposed, there will be a combination of British and Australian interests which should enable us before very long to manufacture in Australia a considerable portion of the paper we require. One thing which the Committee should take into account is that there are great organizations in other countries of the world backed financially by millions sterling, and the organization concerned in the manufacture of paper is one of them. By those who nave personal knowledge of Canadian paper mills we are informed with absolute confidence that those mills are dominated to a large extent by United States capital.
– To the extent of 90 per cent.
– That being so, it is quite time that we in Australia at tended to our own interests in this matter, and secured the establishment of the manufacture of paper in this country. I have in my possession a letter from an authority on the subject, in which it is stated that in Japan, the United States of America; Italy, Germany and Switzerland, in connexion with this and other industries, there are great combinations which, with their practically unlimited financial backing, are in a position to do pretty much as they please, as the honorable member for Illawarra has said. If we made arrangements- for supplies of newsprint from Great Britain, there can be little doubt that the United States Combine, as I prefer to call it, in conjunction with those interested in the industry in Scandinavia, would dump paper into this country at a loss, with the object of defeating British competition and preventing the establishment of more paper mills in the world. Having attained their object, they would then be in a position to fleece Australian newspaper proprietors. If those requiring this class of paper in Australia do not know -how to protect themselves, the Committee will show wisdom in stepping in to protect them in spite of themselves. I ask honorable members to listen to the following quotation from a letter I have received : -
Japan has broken her agreement made at the Labour Congress at Washington in 1919, by which the Government of Nippon undertook to abolish child labour, and to reduce working hours, sp as to bring Japanese conditions more into line with those of her Allies. The Bill was ready for introduction into the Japanese Imperial Diet in. January, 1921, but was postponed for one year to enable the Nipponese manufacturers’ to create a foreign market for their goods. That foreign market includes Australia Furthermore, the Imperial Government of Japan has established a Bureau of Foreign Trade, which financially and otherwise assists Japanese manufacturers to place their products on foreign markets, .including those of Australia.
As I said on Friday last, having almost absolute control of the great Siberian forests, Japan to-day “ stands on velvet “ so far as the production of paper is concerned. Unless we are prepared to protect both British and Australian manufacturers, our industries must go by the board. I hope that the Minister will accept the suggestion which has been made to him, if he cannot accept the amendment submitted bv the. honorable member for Bourke, ‘ which would mean a duty of £3 15s. per .ton. In the course of competition, as the honor- able member forIllawarra has said, the foreign manufacturers might cut their price down to £10 per ton, and, in that case, the ad valorem duty would be less than that suggested. If the Minister will accept the suggestion which has been made, he will give effect to the desire of the people of Australia.
Question - That the words proposed to be added to sub-itemc (1) be so added (Mr. Anstey’ s amendment) - put. The Committee diided.
Ayes . . . . . . 14
Noes . . . . . . 24
Majority. . . 10
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That the following words be added to subitem (c) (1) : - “ And on and after 6th July, 1921, per ton, British, free; intermediate, £3; general, £3.”
It is idle to talk of giving preference to Great Britain if the Committee accepts the argument advanced by the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory). I desire British paper to have a free market in Australia, and that foreign competitors shall be compelled to pay a substantial duty. With respect to the complaint concerning the heavy burden which will be placed on the country press, the suggestion that £1, added to the cost of newspaper, will prove insuperable is absurd in view of the fact that the country press proprietors have had to pay to a monopoly during the war years, not 15 per cent., but 500 per cent., 600 per cent., and 700 per cent. Some of these gentlemen are now so short-sighted as to believe that, because the monopoly has undergone a change of heart, and is prepared to give a price a little under that of the British manufacturers,, it will be to their interest to encourage the foreign monopolists. They will be fatally short-sighted if they do not hold out a hand to British firms to re-enter the Australian market and so keep prices down. The proposal of the British manufacturers is reasonable; and had it been made by their foreign competitors during the war, Australian users of paper would have escaped the heavy imposts which these foreigners forced upon them for several years. I warn the local newsprint users that, as soon as they succeed in killing British competition in this market, they will be once more at the mercy of the foreign Combine, which has different prices according to the circumstances of different countries. The law in America has had to be invoked to counter its rapacity. Newspaper can there be had at one-fourth the price paid in Australia; but here we have not the protection of the Courts against the demands of the rapacious foreigner. For the country press to speak of saving a few shillings per week reminds one of the pitiful cry of the “ poor struggling widow.” On this occasion, it is the poor struggling country newspaper proprietor - a man who uses, generally, not more than 10 to 20 reams of paper each week, and who will be required to pay only a few shillings to save himself from the exploitation of the war years. The country proprietor has to thank the British newsprint-makers for the fact that there is any such thing as a low price to-day. If the British makers had not offered to make contracts in Australia equivalent to the cost of manufacture in Britain, plus 15 per cent. by way of return for special knowledge, expert superintendence, &c, the price would have been about where it was six months ago, and would have remained there for so longas we were unable to find some competitor whose intervention would have reduced the rates. The choice is between the price paid during the war, and whatever price British competition may now bring about. And the whole case, both from the commercial and patriotic view-point, should be to strengthen the British competitor in our market. That is certainly the strongest commercial argument. As to the national consideration it is our duty, as apeople who benefited by the heavy sacrifices of the newsprint-makers in England during the war years; to see that the latter are now placed in a position to regain their former trade. The degree of protection indicated in my amendment is the lowest which can be granted with any prospect ofgiving British firms a chance toregain their Australian business.
.- I do not desire to add to the sound economic argument submitted by the honorable member forIllawarra (Mr. Hector Lamond), but take this opportunity of expressing my views on the questionof British preference. Throughout the war the people of Australia stood behind the Empire and made splendid sacrifices, and, on the other hand, Britain has done whatever we have asked of her. But when we have an opportunity of affording effective, sincere and permanent assistance in some other way we seem to split asunder. There is something going on which I cannot understand. I do not wish to say more than that.
– The honorable member has said a good deal.
– Very well; I shall go on. Ten days ago Iwas asked by a country newspaper proprietor in Victoria to askfor thefollowingduties : - British £1, intermediate £4, and general £5. I understood then that those rates were favoured by the Victorian country newspaper proprietors; buttoday the positionseems tohave changed. I do not knowwhy. I haveplaced before honorable members thefacts as they appear tome. This isan occasion, if ever there was one, when we can show Great Britain preference, and for the sake of Australia and for the Empire let us do it.
– As the honorable member for Grampians (Mr. Jowett) does not appear to understand the situation I shall endeavour to submit my explanation. I shall proceed from stage to stage, if he so desires, until I get right up to the mark.
– And then explain the explanation.
– Yes. The honorable member who has just resumed his seat has said that he does not understand the reason for the sudden change in the attitude of some honorablemembers ; but if he had been present lastFridayhe would understand the situation.Of course, a few weeks ago therewas unanimity. Last Fridaysome honorable members were representing menwho wereessentially pro-British, but the lower the price of foreign paper became the less British they became. A section of the Australian newspaper proprietors were ardent supporters of British preference, but they have changed their views, because they could not get a 2½ per cent. commission on British importations, which would have brought in a nice little nest-egg of £30,000, which was to be an instrument of conversion to true British preference. Some gentlemen were indignant - and properly so - because they were notin the swim. I have been asked for an explanation, and I give it with pleasure -
The members of the Victorian executive of the provincial press -
I wish honorable members to notice that this refers to the Victorian executive, as I intend, stage by stage, to explain - met the representative of the British paper mills in Melbourne at several round table conferences in the most fair, above-board and straightforward manner.
That is quite true.
The Victorian executive did not offer to sell the support of the provincial press for 2½ per cent. commission, or for payment or remuneration ofany sort.
That is quite true; they did not.
No such suggestion wasmade, either individually or collectively, by the Victorian executive.
Thatis also quite true.
Infairness,the above statement should be made by Mr. Anstey to clear the Victorian executive from the inference of hisstatement to the Committee last Friday.
I do that with pleasure. If any other section of the Australian press produces an equally convincing statement I shall be prepared to quote it. I wish to say a few words in reply to the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory), who on Friday objected to the attitude I have adopted in connexion withthe debate on the Tariff. It is quite true, as he states, that I have had very little to say on many of the itemsthat havealready been passed by the Committee. On many occasions, when I am not here, I have found that there are other places in the vicinity of this chamber which are more pleasant. At the outset of the discussion on the Tariff I think I stated fairly, clearly, and distinctly, that I stood for two things. One was that I was in favour of the highest possible duties being imposed upon articles that could be manufactured in Australia, and the otherwas that I was in favour of a British preferential Tariff, and for that I would vote without talking. To that extent I have adhered to my promise, and the only instance in which I have faded away was in connexion with films, because I do not believe that art can be produced by means of a Tariff. I have said that if Bill Hart comes to Australia there is no reason why Ginger Mick and the Sentimental Bloke should not go to New York. I stand by what I have said. On one occasion, when the interests of the country were really at stake, and when “increased duties “ were necessary, an honorable member who moved an amendment was not in the chamber when a division was taken. That honorable member faded away, hewas not here. I am not that gentleman. Does the honorable member for Dampier knowhim ?
– Yes; I do.
– When the honorable member canfind an excuse for being absent on such an occasion, it will be time enough for him to criticise others who may be here but who do not enter into the discussion. This honorable member has pointed out that Great Britain cannot supply her own needs in connexion with paper. What is the reason for making such a statement? Where is the evidence ?
– Great Britain cannot supply her own requirements.
– That is the statement. And the proof?
– Is lacking.
– I have the information here. It is owingto large importations coming to Great Britain ?
– Has the honorable member the British figures?
– I shall deal with the statement of the honorable member for Dam pier.
– While the British mills were doing war work Britain was importing paper.
– The honorable member for Dampier says that Great Britain was unable to supply her own requirements because she was importing certain products. Isthe quantity of commodities imported into this country proof that we cannot supply our own needs? Is it not true that in this country, as well as in others, there are people who will always purchase a foreign product in preference to that produced locally ? As a matter of fact, the bulk of the British newspaper proprietors are loyally helping the producers to get back topre-war conditions. But there are others who do not wish to use British paper and who desire the cheaper foreign product. At. present, Lord Beaverbrook and others are bitterly opposing the use of British paper, and are importing supplies, because they can get them cheaper. One of the reasons why British manufacturers are appealing to the Government to place a duty upon imported paper is that they are being annihilated by the disastrous foreign exchanges, which enable the Scandinavian countries to flood the market with their papers in the endeavour to drive the British manufacturer out of business. But here is a fundamental fact: When in the early part of the year paper was £75 per ton, plus £3 duty, the newspaper proprietors were paying that price, and were not complaining of ruin. Then came the intervention of British manufacturers and their offer, and that has been followed by the foreigner selling paper in this market £5 per ton cheaper than in the country of production. In order to smash up British competition, the foreigners dumped their goods into Australia, reduced the priceby £50 per ton, and the people in this country who were prepared a few months ago to pay £75 per ton, plus £3 duty, are now objecting to pay £25 per ton, plus the duty. I said on Friday that not only had paper been imported from Japan,but that a ship was enroute to Australia with a cargo of Japanese paper, and there is a section of the press which, while mouthing its loyalty and prating of its patriotism and love of Empire, is printing and circulating its sentiments upon this cheap foreign paper. The London Daily Chronicle, the Manchester Guardian, and a number of other important British journals are supporting the productions of their own country. I have here The Times Trades Supplement of the16th April, which includes a special Japanese issue, on which is printed pictures of great machines for the production of paperpulp and newsprint in Japan. The machines are shown at work, and there are two or three pages of descriptive matter. It is there stated that Japanese manufacturers are producing all classes of paper, and that, whereas before the war 60 per cent, of Japan’s requirements of paper pulp came from Canada and 40 per cent. from Scandinavia, during the war the Japanese people were shut out of the Canadian market; but out of the northern islands of Japan, Korea, and the maritime provinces of Siberia they are now producing pulp so cheaply that it will yield the cheapest paper in the world. Such is the abundance of material produced by Japanese labour in Japanese territory that they are able to not only supply their own requirements, but to export a large proportion of their product to other countries. Sixty pulp mills have been established, and they arc to-day entering into competition with the world, sending paper to India, China, South America, and Australia. And at this critical juncture, regardless of the position in Great Britain and Scandinavia, when we are asked to put a duty of £3 per ton on paper which is selling to-day at £50 per ton cheaper than it was three months ago, we find certain members objecting to it. From the beginning to the end of the Tariff, through scores of items, there has been one clearly-defined principle of preference, namely, to maintain a difference of 15 per cent. between the duties on the British and foreign products. If we placed a duty of 30 per per cent. upon British goods, we made the general Tariff 45 per cent.; if the British duty was 15 per cent., the foreign was 30 per cent.; if British goods were admitted free, the general Tariff was 15 per cent. But when we come to this particular item of newsprint, that affects a powerful section, who claim to be the propagandists of a particular faction, because of their power and influence, and because they want the cheapest paper they can get from any part of the world, the Minister refuses to impose more than a revenue Tariff. I have been unsuccessful in getting any amendment of this item carried) but I hope that the majority of the Committee will vote for the proposition made by the honorable member for Illawarra (Mr. Hector Lamond).
.- I hope the amendment will be carried. As the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) has remarked, in respect of most of the items throughout the Tariff we have given a marked preference to Great Britain. Even the representatives of the country press have emphasized the need for a fair margin of preference to the British manufacturer in connexion with paper; the additional burden imposed upon any newspaper by so doing would be very small indeed. The proposed duty of 15 per cent. is 5 per cent. more than the Minister has proposed, but that difference will mean a great deal to the British manufacturers. We have been told that during the years of the war the British mills were not able to supply us with newsprint. That was on account of the industrial disturbance due to war conditions. But now that we are returning to normal times, it is only fair to allow the paper mills of Britain to set their wheels in motion again. Although the Old Country may not have been able to supply us in the past, we are given to understand that she is in a position today to send us all the newsprint we require. Australia, like most young countries, is now expecting a big influx of population, and we have tried to encourage immigrants to come from Great Britain. Increased production will mean increased newspaper circulation, and a bigger demand for paper. I hope the time will soon arrive when the Australian Paper Mills will be able to supply the local requirements of newsprint. The strides which these mills have made already is a matter for congratulation. They have endeavoured against great odds to build up an industry that will be a credit to this country. So far they have been handicapped by the necessity for importing all their machinery, but the time is approaching when the machinery, too, will be produced locally. While we are, so to speak, feeling our feet, we ought to see that the wheels of industry are kept going in Great Britain to supply our needs here. Surely if it is essential to give preference to Great Britain in one direction it is equally essential to give it in another, particularly when the paper mills of that country have given us the promise that they will supply the whole of Australia’s needs. Our big daily newspapers, who tell us that it is in the interests of the country to foster its industries by means of protective duties, should readily recommend the granting of a preference to Great Britain in regard to the newsprint they require. In any case, the preference asked for is very small, and I trust that the Minister (Mr. Greene) will see fit to keep the flag flying and show that Australia is prepared to do again what it did in the time of Britain’s trial, that is, to help her to keep the wheels of industry going, and to encourage her to send us not only immigrants, but also the goods we unfortunately cannot manufacture ourselves.
.- The honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey), who made some reference to my absence from an important division some time ago, might also have told the Committee that the division in question was taken prior to the time at which it was arranged to be taken, and that at the moment I was in Mr. Speaker’s room engaged with him upon another matter. Also, I would like, to say that if there is the slightest suggestion that an honorable member is likely to secure an advantage by advocating high or low duties the matter should be ventilated here. No honorable member can afford to rest under any imputation in this respect, and I trust there will be no repetition of this sort of thing unless the demand is also made that the charge shall be fully inquired into. I can say quite freely that in regard to this item I am acting entirely on behalf of the country press. My leader (Dr. Earle Page) had agreed to do this. He and I attended deputations in which relief was asked for the country newspapers. The honorable member for Grampians (Mr. Jowett) is a bit mixed over the matter, but I want it to be clearly understood that on 23rd May the country press wrote to the Leader of the Country party asking him when this item in the Tariff was reached to advocate a duty on newsprint not exceeding 30s. per ton, which would then be an increase of over 50 per cent. on the pre-war rate, which was United Kingdom free, general 5 per cent. Under that rate Great Britain exported to Australia paper of the following values: - 1914-15, £329,000; 1915-16, £323,000; 1916-17, £534,000.
– Those figures cover all classes of paper, including newsprint.
– At any rate, they show that Great Britain was well able to hold her own in these markets at the then existing rates of duty. When the representative of the English manufacturers interviewed me and told me of the contracts his principals were prepared to make, I told him that I could only deal with those who deserved consideration, namely, the country press. I said that the big newspapers could look after themselves, but that if the British firms were able to arrange reasonable contracts with the country press I was prepared to give consideration to whatever representations were subsequently made to me by the country newspaper proprietors. A person who is lobbying may tell an honorable member the truth, but at the same time may conceal material facts. I do not say that these people have done this. The representative of the British manufacturers with whom the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) has been in touch asks for a duty of £3 per ton as against the foreign manufacturer. This is what he says in a letter directed to the Provincial Press Association: -
If you could recommend that a flat rate of at least £3 per ton be placed on foreign paper, with a free Tariff to the United Kingdom, or, alternatively, for the purposes of revenue, £4 to the one and £1 to the other, I feel sure the Federal Government would accede to your wishes.
He represents a number of British manufacturers. He says: -
I am director of Donside Paper Mill, Aberdeen, and am the accredited representative in Australia of the following group of mills : - Rambottom Paper Mills Company Limited, Irish Paper Mills Company Limited, Northfleet Paper Mills Limited, the Empire Paper Mills Limited, Watson’s of Bullionfield Limited, and Donside Paper Mills Limited. In addition to this, I have the cabled authority of Edward Lloyds, London, the Imperial Paper Mills, Gravesend, the Empire Paper Mills, Thames, and the Marsden group of ten mills.
He says that the British manufacturers are prepared to supply the whole of the newsprint required in the Commonwealth, up to 50,000 tons; and I believe that if they could get these contracts they would be able to do so.
– That would be a good thing; would it not?
– Yes; but the first question is: What is a fair preference to give to Great Britain? No honorable member has touched that point. It is of no use to wave the flag and say, “We want to give all this preference to Great Britain.” What we should do is to be fair and just to our own people, and then give a preference to the Old Country. There has been no greater fighter than myself for preferential treatment of Great Britain throughout the consideration of this schedule.. I wanted to give a preference, and I was pleased when the Minister proposed that imports from Great Britain should be free, and that the rate of duty on imports from other countries should be 40s. per ton, although I thought at the same time that 30s.per ton would be quite fair. We have no evidence to show that with a preference of 40s. per ton Great. Britain willnot be able to hold her own against the competition of the world. Onthe other hand, if we make the preference too high, we may create a monopoly in favour of Great Britain. One evil might be just as bad as the other. Honorable members should act fairly to their own people, and then, in fixing the preference to Great Britain, consider what is a fair amount in order that the Old Countrymay be able to hold her own f airly and equitably as against the foreign trader. If it is proved that a preference of 40s. per ton is not enough, we must give more; but, in view of the statistics showing how the trade has gone in the past, we should be quite satisfied that it represents what is fair.
Question - That the words proposed to be added to sub-itemc (1) be so added (Mr. Hector Lamond’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … . .7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move -
That the following be added to paragraph 2 of sub-item (d) : - “ And on and after 6th Julyj 1921, per cwt., British, 6s.; intermediate,. 7s.; general, 8s.; or, ad val., British, 15 per cent. ; intermediate, 20 per cent. ; general, 25 per cent.; whichever rate returns the higher duty.”
The reason for this amendment is that the ad valorem rates on this sub-item in the schedule, namely, 30 per cent., 35 per cent., and 40 per cent., are out of all proportion to the fixed rates of duty. We want to bring them closer together, as it has been proved that the ad valorem duties as they now stand in the Tariff have a higher protective incidence than is necessary in the circumstances;
– Is the paper referred to made in Australia?
Amendment agreed to.
– I move -
That the item be further amended by adding the following to sub-item (f) : - “ And on and after 6th July, 1921 : -
Writing and typewriting paper (plain), not including duplicating -
We have satisfied ourselves that a sufficient quantity ofwriting and typewriting paper is not being made in this country to warrant the imposition of high duties, and I haveproposed duties at the rates applying to printing paper, n.e.i., because it is almost impossible to distinguish between it andcertain kinds of typewriting paper. We exclude duplicating paper, because it is much softer than the other paper dealt with in the subitem, and its finish is not nearly so good as that of ordinary writing paper. Moreover, it is being made here. Duplicating paper is dealt with elsewhere.
-Why are ad valorem instead of fixedrates applied? Many classes of writing paper of the highest quality are not, and will not, be made here.
– I have taken them out.
– I move -
That the item be furtheramended by adding the following to sub-item (c): - “And on and after6th July, 1921-
(1) Wrapping of all colours (glazed, unglazed, or mill glazed), browns, caps not elsewhere specified, casings, sealings, nature or ochre browns, sulphites, sugars, and all other bag papers, candle carton paper, paper felt, and carpetfelt paper, per cwt., British, 6s.; intermediate, 7s.; general, 8s.; or ad val., British, 15 per cent. ; intermediate, 20 per cent. ; general, 25 percent., whichever ratereturnsthe higher duty.
Wefind, on further inquiry, that the ad valorem ratesare greatly in excess of the fixed rates onthe higher qualities, “and, while we wish tolevy rates higher than thefixed rates on Certain grades of this paper, we do not wish to penalize those who use the lower grades as their raw material.
– Why is fruit-wrapping paper made free ?
– Because it is notmade here, and cannot be obtained from Great Britain. The exemption used to apply to apple-wrapping paper, but there is no reason why apples should be wrapped in duty-free paper and lemons in dutiable paper.
.- The paper mills of Australia are turning out wrapping paper of a quality that compares more thanfavorably with that of the wrapping paper produced in other parts of the world, and are manufacturing it in large quantities. If, as the Minister says, fruit-wrapping paper is not made here, the exemption of it is justifiable. I have been furnished with the following information about wrapping papers: -
Wrapping Papers. - The materials used consist principally of wood pulp, old rope, and old bags. With the exception of the first-named material, what would otherwise be of no value are converted into a marketable article employing some hundreds of workers and plant to the value of many thousands of pounds. The better grade, known as kraft and sulphite papers, are made almost entirely of wood pulp, which is imported from Canada and Scandinavia. In addition to wood pulp, the chemicals used are soda ash, caustic soda, sulphate of alumina, lime, and bleach. Wood pulp is in the early stages of development in Australia. The manufacture of sulphate of alumina is now being established, and supplies of the Australian article are now being used. Caustic and soda ash arc now being produced in small quantities, andnegotiations arenow being madefor theformation of alarge British-Australian company to manufacturethe whole ofthe Australian requirements. Lime is being obtained locally, and bleach isbeing produced by numerous plants by the electrolytic process, which becomes abig factor in the use of Australian salt. The establishment of (these new industries is entirely due to the supplies requiredby the Australian manufacturers, and their success depends largely upon the success and expansion of paper making andsimilar industries. There seemsto be no reason whythe wholeofthe requirements forAustraliashould not be madein Australiaby Australian workmen, and made as much as possible from Australian material and Australian chemicals.
During the warconsiderablesums were invested in businesses supplying raw material tothe paper-making industry, and these subsidiary manufactories depend largely f ortheirprofits on the disposal of their products to paper manufacturers. New South Wales and Victoria have a number of paper mills, and there may be mills in the other States. If honorable members wish to inform themselves of the quality of the locally-made paper, I ask them to inspect a book of samples which has been given to the honorable member forMelbourne Ports (Mr. Mathews), who is absent because of an urgent call from another State, and I am, therefore, endeavouring to take his place. We have heard a great deal of the competition of Japan, and no other country is in a better position to compete with our paper manufacturers. The honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) has told us that there are sixty large mills in Japan, and there are also smaller mills there. Many of these mills have a large amount of capital behind them, and the Japanese Government is subsidizing shipping companies and taking other steps to extend its foreign trade. In Australia, unless our manufacturers are properly protected, she could easily undersell the local manufacturers. The duties proposed by the Minister are too low. I hoped that he would propose fixed rates per cwt. of 8s. 6d., 9s., and10s., and ad valorem rates of 35 per cent., 40 per cent., and 50 per cent. I am afraid that the effect of the amendment may be bad for our Australian paper mills. I have no exceptional expert knowledge, but I know a little about the quality of paper, and that of wrapping paper, strawboard, and cardboard. In Victoria, the paper-making industry is decentralized. There are several mills in the country districts of the State. Two of the mills are within the city boundaries, a third is at Broadford, some 50 miles up the northeastern line, and there is also a mill at Geelong. It will thus be seen that the element of decentralization is associated with the industry. We are using, in the manufacture of wrapping paper, large quantities of straw which would otherwise go to waste, and the Broadford mill to-day is turning out a very much better paper than it did a few years ago. With anything like reasonable encouragement, the industry would be able to supply the whole of Australia’s requirements in the matter of wrapping papers and strawboard. I am acting on behalf of the honorable member for Melbourne
Ports (Mr. Mathews), who cannot attend to-day, and I appeal to the Minister to grant a further measure of protection to this industry, which is subjected to competition of such an unfair character that’ I am rather afraid its existence will be seriously threatened unless we come to its aid in this way.
– I call attention to the want of a quorum. [Quorum formed.]
.- I am surprised, having regard to the importance of the industry covered by sub-item g, that the Minister (Mr. Greene) has not moved to increase the duties relating to it. I understand, however, that he proposes to decrease them.
– I propose to decrease the ad valorem rates, but to leave the fixed duties as they stand.
– My desire is that the local industry shall be fully protected. The paper mills which have beenestablished here are extending their premises, - and enlarging their plants, so that with reasonable encouragement in the near future they will be able to supply our requirements to a far greater extent than has hitherto been possible. The case has been well put by the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton). Surely wrapping paper, which is made very largely of refuse, can be manufactured in Australia. My desire is that our paper mills shall be given a “ fair spin.” If we cannot make wrapping papers and fruit wrappings in this country, wecannot make anything. I ask the Minister to give the industry the protection which it needs.
.- I am at a loss to understand why the Minister (Mr. Greene) proposes to reduce the duties as provided in respect of sub-itemG. I should have thought it would be easier for him to secure an increase rather than a reduction. That, at all events, has been our experience in connexion with many items during the Tariff debate. It seems to me that the duties, as they stand, are somewhat inadequate, but the honorable gentleman proposes to reduce the ad valorem rates.
– It is the ad valorem rates that have given rise to all the trouble, and if we can meet the Committee betterby increasing the fixed duties and striking out the ad valorem rates, I shall do so.
– I propose to move that the fixed rates be increased from 6s., 7s., and 8s. per cwt. to 8s. 6d. per cwt. under the British preferential Tariff, 9s. per cwt. under the intermediate Tariff, and 10s. per cwt. under the general Tariff, and that the ad valorem rates be struck out. I also desire that roofing and sheathing felt and paper, now included in sub-itemI and made dutiable at 30 per cent., 35 per cent., and 40 per cent., shall be transferred to paragraph 1 of subitem g. I am informed that they are practically identical with candle carton paper, paper felt, and carpet felt paper, which are already under sub-itemg. My object in proposing that the duties be raised is that I understand that practically the whole of the” papers included in paragraph 1 of sub-itemg are made very largely from straw, which in many parts of Victoria, and particularly in the North, where we carry on wheat and oat farming upon a big scale, is burnt from year to year because there is no market for it. By encouraging this industry, we shall be able to put to profitable use straw that is now destroyed.
– I do not think straw is used to any extent in the manufacture of wrapping papers, although it is used in the manufacture of strawboard.
– I may be wrong, but I understand that it is used in the making of wrapping papers. Some time ago while visiting the Broadford Mills, I saw in course of manufacture there some very excellent light-brown glazed wrapping papers, which I was told were made largely from straw. “Would the Minister be prepared to increase the fixed duties as proposed by me, leaving the ad valorem rates as at present?
– In respect of some of these wrapping papers, the ad valorem duties work out at such a high rate that bag-makers cannot get along with them.
– Then I shall leave the Minister to dispose of the question of the ad valorem rates, and shall move -
That paragraph 1 of sub-item (g) he amended by adding the following: - “And on and after 6th July, 1921, per cwt., British, 8s. 6d.; intermediate, 9s.; general, 10s.”
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Mr.
Atkinson). - I suggest to the honorable member that if he desires to transfer roofing and sheathing felt and paper from sub-itemI to sub-item g he should make that his first amendment.
– I do not desire todo that at this stage, since the Minister proposes to reduce the ad valorem rates in respect of paragraph 1 of sub-item a. I prefer to wait until that amendment has been dealt with.
– I ask the Committee to adhere to the Minister’s original proposal. I hope that he has not conceded anything, because, under the existing duties, this industry has been pretty well established. The increased power of production which it now possesses is also the power of more economical production.- I am speaking, of course, of the proposal which has been outlined by the honorable member for Echuca (Mr. Hill). To my mind, the duties proposed in the schedule are sufficient. We must always remember that every increased duty which we impose upon any article renders it more difficult for the ‘succeeding industry to successfully carry on operations.- If we unnecessarily increase the cost of the raw materials of any industry we may, perhaps, be handicapping it to a greater extent than we are encouraging the industry which supplies it with those materials. A much stronger case will require to be made out before we shall be justified in altering the duties which are enumerated in the schedule.
.- I am glad that the amendment proposed by the Minister (Mr. Greene) will not decrease the direct duties leviedupon the articles comprised in paragraph 1, subitem g, but will make for simplicity by reason of an alteration being effected in the ad valorem rates. Wehave paper mills in Australia which do very great credit to this country, and I am quite satisfied that, eventually, they will be able to manufacture the particular papers mentioned in thissub-item, in competition with other countries. The duties proposed by the Minister seem to me to be adequate, and it behoves the Committee to consider the interests, not merely of the few paper manufacturers in Australia but of those persons who manufacture articles out of cardboard and strawboard. They are entitled to reasonable consideration. I am very pleased that the Minister is willing to remove the duties upon fruit wrapping which are set out in the schedule. The bulk of the fruit wrapping manufactured is exported, so that if a duty be placed upon this article, it would be only reasonable to allow a rebate in the case of exported fruit wrapping. Ishall support the Minister’s amendment.
.- I hopethat the amendment foreshadowed bythe honorable member for Echuca (Mr. Hill) will be carried. In speaking upon sub-item g a few minutes ago I confessthatIconfused it with another sub-item. I am more than ever surprised tolearn that a proposal has been made to decrease ‘the ad valorem duties upon wrapping papers. These papers are being made in Australia, and the paper mills arenow considering the advisableness of extending their operations, so that they will be able to instal additional machinery, and thus employ more labour. I do not suggest that the increased duties proposed will be the means of increasing the price of these papers to the public. They will, rather, encourage our mills to extend their operations, to instalfurther machinery, and thus to provide additional employment. I trust that the amendment suggested by the honorablemember for Echuca will afford encouragement to the paper industry, and thus allow it to make use of all therefuse which, at the present time, is going to waste.
.- I do not know whether the honorable member for Echuca (Ms. Hill) intends to submit the amendment which he has outlined. I agree with the honorable member for Illawarra (Mr. Hector Lamond) that in imposing heavier duties we need to be careful lest we. increase the cost of the raw materials of other’ industries. To-day the Australian paper mills are using raw -material which is being manufactured locally, but which wasnot so manufactured prior to the war. From these mills our paper manufacturers are obtaining their raw material. I am sure that if any honorable member thought for a moment that by reason of unfair competition from abroad some of these valuable industries were threatened with collapse, he would not hesitate to support the proposal of the honorable member for Echuca (Mr. Hill).
Throughout the consideration of* the Tariff schedule, we have been increasing rather than decreasing duties. Now we are right up against a serious proposition. Already a shipment of 500 tons of material has come to Australia at such a cutting price -
– What is the price?
– A statement with which I have been supplied reads -
The fears predicted have already taken place, even to the extent of dumping, one shipment of 500 tons coming to Melbourne on consignment, while the prices now being quoted c.i.f. are less than what we paid for the pulp to meet the requirements of the trade in 1021.
Yet Ave are only half way through the year. The statement continues -
This is still on our hands, and can only be utilized and made into paper at considerable loss. Orders have ceased,to a large extent, forthis particular paper, owing tothe huge importations. While this company is making provision to increase its output by a new mill in course of construction at Botany, without an effective protective duty they will not be allowed to exist. We, therefore, insist upon the alteration as printed in red. which is in accordance with the proposal outlined by the honorable member for Echuca.
– They may have entered into bad contracts.
– I do not think so.
.- The difficulty which has been experienced in connexion with these ad valorem duties is that thecost of paper has increased to two or three times its pre-war price.The importations during 1919-20 show that the average invoice price for this particular class of paper was well over £47 per ton. During the year that war broke out, we imported 9,542 tons of it, for which we paid £149,448, or an average of, approximately, £18 per ton. The ad valorem duties upon these high values have created an almost impossible position. If it will meet the views of the Committee, I am prepared to make’ the fixed dutiesupon thearticles enumerated in paragraph1, sub-itemg, 8s.,9s., and 10s. percwt. under the British preferential, intermediate,and general Tariffs respectively, and to entirelydispensewith the ad valorem duty.
– The amendment outlined by the Minister in regard to fruit wrappings will still stand?
– Yes. Then when we come to paragraph 3 of this sub-item we shall need to alter the duties proposed uponbags n.e.i. from 10s.,11s., and 12s. per cwt. under the British,intermediate, and general Tariffs respectively, to 12s., 13s., and 14s. percwt, and to again strike out the ad, valorem duty. I think that the adoption of such a course will meet the position all round.I, therefore, ask leave to amend my amendment accordingly:
Amendment; by leave, amended accordingly, and, as amended, agreed to.
– I understand that malthoid is included in sub-itemI of this item?
-Then unless it can be shown that a substitute for malthoid is being manufactured in Australia. I shall ask the Minister to admit that article free. Malthoid is a great boon to the people out-back, where, in many instances, roofing material has to be carried hundreds of miles. Galvanized iron is bulky and weighty, whereas malthoid is in rolls, takes up little room, and is easily carried. This material has proved itself, and I know of none other manufactured in Australia that can take its place.
– Where is it made?
– I do not know.
– Apparently, it is made here.
– I think that the malthoid placed on the additional rooms to this Parliament House for the use, of Ministers is: an imported article, judging from the brand; and I concluded that no similar article could be obtained in Australia, or it would have been used for this work.
– Malthoid enters into competition with other roofing.
– But it has its place, which cannot be filled by any other roofing material.
.- I do not know whether “ malthoid “ is a registered trade name, or, if so, whether the material is made here; but roofing felt is extensively made locally. Before 1918-19 the importations were grouped under another item, and I cannot now say what they were; but in 1919-20 all imported was practically from the United States of America, and its value was £4,404. My notes show that inquiries have been made and conclusive evidence gathered to show that Australian-made roofing felt is of good quality and gives satisfaction to users. Application was made to the Department to have admitted under departmental by-law the paper used in the manufacture of roofing felt, but it was refused in view of the output in Australia, which is practically supplying the whole of the local requirements, and will doubtless increase as the demand grows. The local production in 1920 represented £22,000, as against £4,404, the value of the imports, and employment was directly given in the manufacture of the paper and so forth required. My notes also say that the Australian roofing felt is selling cheaper than the imported. The whole of my information goes to show that this commodity is made extensively here, is meeting local requirements, and giving satisfaction. I desire to insert a consequential amendment in sub-itemJ, which I now move -
That the following words be added to subitem (J) : - “And on and after 6th July, 1921-
Cartridge paper of all colours (glazed, mill glazed, rough, or smooth), duplicating paper, absorbent paper for copying machines; and blotting paper, irrespective of weight, per cwt.,
British, 6s.; intermediate; 7s.; general, 8s.”
. -I suggest to the Minister (Mr. Greene) that it would be advisable to place this sub-item on the samebasis as sub-itemg. This item is much of the same family as the previous one, and the Minister, who has to leave the table frequently, may have overlooked that fact.
– So far as I can see, the importations under this sub-item are not very great, though those of cartridge paper have gone up somewhat. However, I desire to amend my amendment so as to make the duties 8s., 9s., and . 10s.
Amendment amended accordingly, and, as amended, agreed to.
– I should like to move that after the words “foil paper” the words “box makers design printed, fancy coated or friction glazed covering paper” be inserted. This proposal has already been submitted to the Department, and I understood there would be no objection. So far as I can learn these papers are not made here at all. There are one or two printed papers made in sheets, but the imported paper is on reels which fit into the reels of the cardboard box-makers’ machines. If the sheet papers are used it means that the boxes have to be taken out of the machines, and the covering done by hand. I think that most of these papers are at the present time admitted free under Departmental by-laws, and it would’ be better to have them in this item along with the surface-coated papers.
. -I shall accept the amendment with the addition of the words “ subject to departmental by-laws.”
– Should not the words “not printed” be inserted after the words “ marble and foil paper “ ?
– I do not think so.
Amendment (by Mr. Bowden) agreed to-
That the item be further amended by adding the following to sub-item (k) : - “And on and after 6th July, 1921-
– It is suggested that staypaper and stay cloth, dealt with in sub-itemL, should be transferred to item 338, which deals with paper partly manufactured. This is essentially a manufactured paper, and, perhaps, it is a matter of classification.
– I prefer to leave the sub-item where it is.
.- As to gummed paper, n.e.i., it was thought, when the duty was imposed, that it would encourage the making of such paper in Australia, but nothing has resulted in that direction. Under the circumstances is it necessary to continue the duty? If this gummed paper were made in Australia. I should not desire any change, but my information is that it is not made here.
– My information is that there is a certain amount of gummed paper being manufactured here now, and there are preparations being made for. the extension of the industry. The Government Stamp Printer, for instance, has machines for making gummed paper, and there are others ready to enter into the industry.
.- The illustration quoted by the Minister is a rather unfortunate one for his argument, because I understand that all the paper that is used for stamps is imported, and is not even gummed here.
Amendment (by Mr. Greene) proposed
That the item be further amended by adding the following to sub-item (m) : - “And on and after 6th July, 1921-
.- I have a communication from a constituent of the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell), in which it is stated that a particular firm is beginning the manufacture of emery paper in Australia. I have here samples of the papers which this firm has manufactured. The firm does not ask for any very high protection, because they recognise that they have not yet fully established their industry. I quote the following from the letter to which I have referred : -
I have to informyou that the above company has decided to commence the manufacture of emery paper and kindred products. A great amount of experimental work has been done, and we are now laying down the necessary machinery, which is all being made in Australia. Within a month we will bo making certain grades, and the other classes of paper will follow.
We submit herewith samples of what we have already made, and whatever capital is required . will be provided to enable all the requirements of the Commonwealth inall classes of papers and cloths to be supplied.
There is, however, no Tariff protection from Great Britain, whore, of course, large importations come from, as item 334 (m) in the present Tariff is free British preferential Tariff, 5 per cent. intermediate, and 10 per cent. general.
We would, of course, not” have gone into the manufacture of this line, which has previously not been made in Australia, unless we felt satisfied that substantial and effective protection will be granted by the Government, as what we fear is that, owing to the fact that up to the present time none of these lines has been manufactured in Australia, the importers have had a monopoly, and no doubt the establishment of an Australian factory will cause them to promptly reduce their prices in order to prevent the establishment of the industry in Australia.
We are of the opinion, and we therefore respectfully suggest, that a duty of 40 per cent. British preferential, 45 per cent. intermediate, and 50 per cent. general Tariff be placed upon item 334 (m), and we sincerely hope that when this item is reached in the House of Representatives the present Tariff will be amended accordingly.
We cannot blame the company for asking for duties of 40, 45, and 50 per cent.
– We should blame ourselves if we gave them.
– I ask the Minister to take into consideration the advisability of providing for deferred duties, such as have been suggested on this item, to give encouragement to the people who are prepared to manufacture these emery papers. In the compilation of this Tariff it was possibly not known to the Minister and others that the manufacture of these papers in Australia1 has been commenced. I have brought this matter forward for the honorable member for Fawkner, in whose constituency, I understand, these papers are now being manufactured. I should like the Minister to say whether he will be prepared to provide for deferred duties under this item.
– I am satisfied so long as I have some reply from the honorable gentleman.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Greene) proposed -
That the item be further amended by adding the following to sub-item (o) - “And on and after (6th July, 1921-
(1) Cover paper and pressings, ad. val., British, 30 per” cent.; intermediate, 35 per cent.; general, 40 per cent.
N.E.I.; paperhangings or wall papers, ad val., British, 15 per cent.; intermediate, 20 per cent.; general, 25 per cent.”
– I do not like the imposition of ad valorem duties on cover papers. The higher class of cover papers are not made here, and the imposition of ad valorem duties must be a severe handicap on the development of the artistic side of printing and book production. Some cover papers are works of art in themselves, and to tax them in the way proposed is like taxing high-class pictures and engravings. While I agree that we should encourage the production of all kinds of cover papers that can be made here, these ad valorem duties represent an enormous tax on a few enterprising people who like to use a superior article. With respect to wall papers, I do not know that they are manufactured here at all. If this is a purely revenue duty I suggest that this is a very bad item under which to collect such a duty.
– Paperhangings and wall papers have been subjected to. the duties here proposed for some years past. I have not disturbed the duties which for some time have been imposed upon them. Many cover papers are made here.
– High-class cover papers are not made here.
– That is merely another instance of a difficulty which arises in connexion with many items of the Tariff. Some things which come under an item are made here, and some are not.
– Would not a fixed duty be effective against the lower-class article?
– We should still require an ad valorem duty. As the processes of manufacture progress from stage to stage, we must have ad valorem duties to protect the higher-class goods as their manufacture is undertaken. I think that in all the circumstances it is better that we should leave the duties on this item as they stand.
Amendment agreed to.
.- I find that leatherboards are included in sub-item q. I desire that it should be transferred to the next sub-item, “r, millboards,” and that the Tariff upon them should be ad valorem, British, free; intermediate, 5 per cent.; general, 15 per cent. ; because leatherboards are not made here at all. I should like to know whether I would be in order, when the next sub-item is before the Committee, in submitting -an amendment to include leather boards init.
– The honorable memberwill be in order in movingsuch an amendment when the Committee is dealing with sub-itemr.
– I should like the Minister to agree to practically the same amendment on subitem q as has been agreed to in connexion with previous items, and propose fixed duties on boards, n.e.i., of per cwt.: - British, 8s.; intermediate, 9s.; general, 10s.
– There is such a big range of boards that we should get into trouble if we tried to cover them with fixed duties.
– I remind the Minister that- sub-item J, which has been amended in the way I have suggested, also covers quite a number of different kinds of papers. I understand that the honorable gentleman prefers to adhere to the ad valorem duty on this sub-item.
– I find that mills in Australia can supply 30,000 tons of boards per annum, which represents 50 per cent. more than the Australian consumption of last year. However, if the Minister is not disposed to agree to fixed duties, I shall not press my suggestions.
.- I trust that further protection will be given under this sub-item. We should recognise that this industry has been-
– Established under a much lower Tariff-
– That may be so. But the manufacturers of these boards have provided increased machinery and have also built new factories. The profits made by some of the mills have been fairly good, but it is better that profits should be made from industries here and spent here than that they should be made and spent abroad. I am in a. position to say that the profits made here in the production of boards have been invested in the further development of the business. The manufacture of these boards involves an important industry. I wish the Minister would agree to make the rates respectively 8s., 9s., and 10s., or to increase the ad valorem duties to 35 per cent., 40 per cent., and 50 per cent. Such additional protection would mean new life to this key industry,which has installed much Australian-made machinery, as well as other costly machines which could only be secured from overseas. I would be preparedto give the highest possible degree of protection. The raw materials are produced in Australia from matter which otherwise would be waste; and from that waste there is manufactured an article used in connexion with a number of associated industries.
– Is the honorable member proposing a 50 per cent. general duty ?
– That is what I would like; but I am prepared to hear the Minister offer a compromise. Failing any such indication, I move -
That the item be further amended by adding the following words to sub-item (Q): - “ And on and after 6th July, 1921, ad val., British, 35 per cent- ; intermediate, 40 per cent. ; general,50 per cent.”
– This is a very desirable industry, and one which should, of course, be encouraged. Under existing conditions, however, it has beenenabled to establish itself thoroughly, and make satisfactory profits. These latter have been largely and very wisely employed to extend the industry itself. During the war it had a good run; but it should not now be overlooked that it produces the raw material for a large range and variety of articles. During the war period the cost of some of these went so high that, in respect of certain particular lines, the cartons ordinarily used had to be dispensed with, and the abnormal conditions created considerable inconvenience to the consumer. I emphasize the fact that the returns derived by the industryhavebeen quite sufficient to enable it not only to stand against outside competition, but to extend, apparently, as far as its controllers have deemed necessary. It would be unwarrantable to add to the cost of the raw material of associated industries, and I deprecate any alteration of the present schedule.
– Will the Minister agree to insert under sub-item q reference to corrugated strawboard, which comes under sub-item s?
– That would mean a lower rate of duty.
-If the Minister cannot see his way clear to accept the amendment of the honorable member for. Henty (Mr: Francis), a slight increase in the general Tariff would be acceptable.
.- I suggest that the British rate remain at 25. per cent., and that the Minister agree to increase the intermediate and general Tariffs to 40 per cent. and 50 per cent. respectively. We do not want to give higher protection against the importation of materials from Great Britain, but there is veryheavy competition from foreign countries.
– I am willing to agree to increase the general Tariff from 35 per cent. to 40 per cent.
– I hope the Minister will not move in that direction. Very little of this stuff comes from England.
– The importations of boxes in 1913-14 were chiefly from England.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Mr. Greene) proposed -
That, the item be further -amended by adding the following words to sub-item (q). : - “And on and after 6th July, 1921, ad val., British, 25 per cent; intermediate, 30 per cent.; general, 40 per. cent.”
.- I am sorry that the Minister has departed from the schedule rates. During the war the producers of the. class of board under discussion served a useful national purpose; and, for that reason, they should be commended. But the. industry has been built up well, and present profits aresuch that it may be classed asa really good one. It should not be forgotten that this is a key industry, and that if the Committee adds to the cost of the rawmaterial certain minor industries will perhaps be seriously affected. And, in any case, if the latter have to pay more for their working material, it will be, as usual, the general consumer who will bear the brunt. Almost all lines of grocery and sweets, as well as dozens of other articles, are put up nowadays in cardboard cartons, and, generally, in the most expensive style. I know, of course, that it will be useless to suggest a reduction of duty, but it should be borne in mind that the present rates have assisted to make the industry stable and profitable. What, further degree of protection is needed, therefore? Here is an. instance of Protection run. mad, to the limit, practically, of prohibition.
Amendment agreed to.
.- I move -
That the item he further- amended by adding the following words to sub-item (r) : - “And on and after 6th July, 1921 -
Millboards and leatherboards, ad val., British, free; intermediate; 5 per cent. ; general; 15 per cent.”
My reason for including leatherboard with millboards, so as to bring the former under the existing rates upon the latter, is that imported leatherboard is a product employed in the manufacture of special boxes. Among its uses is the manufacture of a type of box used, for example, by jewellers and electroplater’s. Leatherboard is employed also for making boxes which have to carry heavy weights, and which have metal corners. Nothing but this type of board will carry metal corners; at any rate, there is no satisfactory substitute. Leatherboard is used, moreover, in tailors’ boxes, and for heavier classes of foodstuffs ; for instance in the putting up of tea in 71b., or 14 lb., or 21 lb. packets. Leatherboard is also largely used in respect of packages which must be posted. This class of material is the only product of its kind which is accepted by the Postmaster-General’s Departmont without requiring that it be supported or stayed with deal battens. Battening. of other kinds of boxes makes postage rates very heavy. There is a certain amount of corrugated strawboard used in the grocery trade as a substitute for leatherboard; but I do not think that the admission ofleatherboard free, under. this sub-item, will have the effect of creating unfavorable competition against corrugated strawboard. All this material, I understand, is imported at present from Holland, and the duty I propose would be 15 per cent. What has been remarked concerning costs added to certain other lines applies also in this instance. Fluctuating exchange rates affect exporters, and freights and handling charges are so much higher than in prewar days that leatherboard is now costing in the vicinity of £70 per ton. As local chipboard is about £26 per ton, there is every probability of that material being substituted for leatherboard wherever that is possible. I. have before me a letter written by a customer of a large manufacturer, who says, that he will be compelled to cease using leatherboard packages for tea unless lower prices are charged. The letter continues -
We can now purchase tin containers for practically the same price as we have to pay for boxes, and unless there is a considerable drop in the price we shall use tin, which is preferable to boxes at any time. Please advise me if you are prepared to do business in this matter, otherwise we must close the account.
Unless there is some relief in this direction this particular type of box will go out of use altogether.
– They do not use leatherboard for tea packages.
– I have been informed that they do.I have already mentioned the different purposes for which leatherboard is necessary, and I trust the Minister will be able to include it under the sub-item relating to millboards.
– The honorable member for Nepean (Mr. Bowden) must realize that if leatherboard was included with millboard it would be substituted for boards which are made here. I have before me a letter from one of the principal manufacturers in Sydney to the directors of the Cumberland Paper Board Mills. It reads: -
During the period when it was impossible’ for us to secure leatherboards from overseas, and our customers were clamouring for it, we used Cumberland leatherboard in the manufacture of boxes. We found it an excellent board to work. Its use enabled us to keep our customers supplied, who have expressed themselves thoroughly satisfied, and have not asked again for the imported board. It is some considerable time since we first used it, and our output of boxes made from it is increasing.
The communication is notreferring to a true leatherboard, but a substitute which has been produced in large quantities, and which can be used for all purposes for which leatherboard is used. The honorable member referred to the increased cost which duties involve. But what is the position ? Supposing an additional duty of £2 10s. were imposed- we have not imposed that - on the boards required for boot boxes. The total weight of material in one gross of boot boxes is 45 lbs., or equal to a1s. per gross of boxes, which would pack £150 worth of boots. The honorable member referred to jewellery boxes, but the total weight of a gross of these packages is 2 lbs., so that the increased cost per gross is½d. for boxes in which, say, £150 worth of jewellery could be packed. The total weight of the material in a gross of suit boxes is 126 lbs., and the extra duty . would increase the price by 3s. l½d. per gross, and thus make the extra cost of packing¼d. per. suit. When we . get down to such details we discover the absurdity of increased charges which higher duties involve. If we adopted the proposal of the honorable member it would mean that leatherboards would be vised instead of boards produced locally, and much of the good that a Protective Tariff has done would be rendered useless.
.- The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) said that if leatherboard was included with millboard the former would be used instead of boards produced locally. Wherever the local article could be used it would be used, and only where the local article was not suitable would the leatherboard be used.
.- I suggest to the Minister the advisability of increasing the duties in sub-item s relating to strawboard. It has been suggested that the duties should be 4s., 5s., and 6s., respectively. I understand that the Minister will not agree to those increases, but I ask him to realize that the manufacture of strawboard is an important industry, and that, on’ his own showing, these increased duties affect the community very slightly. I move -
That the item be further amended by adding the following words to paragraph (1) of sub-item (s) : - “And on and after 6th July, 1921 (1) strawboard, plain not lined, per cwt., British, 2s.; intermediate, 4s.; general, 5s.”
.- If that amendment is defeated I shall move to make the duties1s. 6d., 2s., and 2s. 6d., respectively. There is always a good deal of difficulty in connexion with this item in balancing evenly the assistance to be given to two different classes of manufactures.
– How much duty does the honorable member think the boxmakers have got?
– The duties do not affect them; very much, because the freights are so high and the parcels are so bulky that very little of their manufactures can be imported. This is one of the items in which the Committee has to try and hold the balance evenly between two classes of manufacturers. We have, on the one hand, the strawboard manufacturers, and, on the other hand, the boxmakers. When we give consideration to one set of employees in one industry we do not wish to forget the other set of employees in the other industry. The present price of strawboard is at least three times as high as it was in the pre-war times. In a pamphlet that has been distributed to honorable members the manufacturers claim that the box-makers are indebted to the Australian mills for their existence during the war period. That argument sounds all right, but. the converse is equally true, that the millers are indebted to the boxmakers for their existence during the war period. Although it has been said that the mill-owners did not take full advantage of the war period in order to raise their prices to the level of. the rates for the imported goods, the fact remains that during that period the price of strawboard rose from £7 to between £20 and £25.
– How much did the price of the raw material increase?
– The price of straw increased by about 20s. per ton.
– The price of straw rose to £5 or £6 per ton.
– Not during the whole period of the war. But even if the price of straw was £5 or £6 per ton, that did not justify a charge of £25 per ton for strawboard. It must be admitted that during the war the Australian mills supplied to the box manufacturers strawboard at a price below that at which Dutch, or even Japanese, board could be imported.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– The Australian paper mills have an ample market for all the strawboard they can make, but the box-makers find their market decreasing. In the boot trade less boxes are used than formerly, and pastrycooks are employing paper bags instead of boxes. Sargent and Company, of Sydney, are now putting all their small purchases up to1s. in value in bags. Their order for boxes is only one-third of what it was.
– That is because there is some cheap material coming from Japan.
– The material imported from Japan inthe past may have been nasty, but it was not cheap, and was only used because there was no other strawboard available. One Sydney firm which made a large purchase of Japanese strawboard found that its quality was so bad that they could hot use it, and eventually they sold it on the market at a loss of £5 or £6 per ton. I do not think that we have any need to fear the competition of strawboard from Japan. The Australian box-makers will not use inferior material if they can get a better article. In a circular issued to honorable members, the box-makers intimate that they are quite willing thatthe importation of strawboard from Japan should be prohibited, but I do not see how this can be done unless the prohibition also extends to Dutch strawboard. Various opinions have been expressed as to the ability of the local mills to produce sufficient strawboard to meet the requirements of the box-makers of Australia. The box-makers declare that the local mills cannot supply them with all their requirements, and that, therefore, it is necessary for them to import. On the other hand, the mill-owners declare that with the new machinery they have installed and are in the process of installing they may at some futuretime be able to furnish all the strawboard needs of Australia.
– They say that next year onemill in Australia will be able to turn out 16,000 tons per annum, and that another mill will be able to turn out 5,000 tons per annum.
– I hope they will do so, because the Australian box-makers will use their output; but if, as a result of this Tariff, the price of the strawboard is increased, it will be a case of killing the goose that lays the golden egg. It will kill the industry for which strawboard forms the raw material.
– What justification has the honorable member for saying that the increase in the duty will put up the price of the article?
– In every case where a duty has been increased, the price of the article has also increased. I have to admit that during the war the Australian strawboard makers-
– Kept Australia going.
– No more than the box-makers kept the mill-owners going. Both are mutually dependent upon one another. I do admit that during the war the strawboard-makers did not put up their price nearly to that of the imported article.
– They were very moderate.
– Yes, they were very moderate; they merely asked for a 350 per cent. advance on pre-war prices. The paper mills which are now asking for an increased duty on strawboard are among the most prosperous concerns in the Commonwealth, and they became prosperous under the old Tariff.
– Why envy an Australian firm that is prosperous?
– I am not expressing any envy. I am simply pointing to the fact that we have ample evidence that the old duty was sufficient to establish the strawboard industry, and that, therefore) there is no need for an increased duty, which may have the effect of crippling the boxmaking industry, for which strawboard is the raw material.
– I suppose that the honorable member knows that the Japanese factories are equipped with the most, uptodate machinery for this kind of work?
– The answer to the honorable member’s interjection is that the Australian manufacturers shouldalso get the most up-to-date machinery for this sort of work. I believe that they are installing new and modern machinery, but I am sorry that it is not of a larger type, because for very little more expenditure a 128-in. machine could be secured which would turn out a great deal cheaper product than can a 64-in . machine. Our experience is that the strawboard turned out by Japan is so bad that our boxmakers will not use it if they can getanything else.
– Is that the reason why the Japanese people increased their price so greatly ?
– They increased their price because they had our market at their mercy. The Australian mills could, not turn out enough strawboard.
– The honorable member is willing to excuse the Japanese, but he will not excuse the local manufacturers.
– I do not excuse the. Japanese. In every case where Japanese, goods came into our market, the Japanese manufacturers exploited us for all we were worth. I would exclude all Japanese goods on the ground that they “are absolute rubbish, not only their strawboard, but also their silks, cotton, glassware, crockery, and so on. The Japanese goods have never been up to sample. In many cases, the lengths were not what they were guaranteed to be. Ourmerchants were required to pay cash before any goods were shipped, and in nearly every instance that has come under my notice, there were short shipments and wrong shipments, or the goods were not up to sample. In fact, although the Japanese had a splendid opportunity of getting a firm hold of the Australian market, they abused it to such an extent that I do not know of any people in Australiawho will buy Japanese goods now if they can get others.
In. reply to the contention of the millowners that they have been able to supply, the. demands of the boxmakers, I hold in my hand a number of letters, dating- back to 1917, written by one firm in Sydney to the Australian Paper Mills. Each containsa complaint that the firm’s orders had not been supplied. The mills were given an order-f or 40 tons- a month. Theyi replied that- they could not . supply that quantity, but would supply 20 tons; they did not even supply that quantity. Almost–1 every month a letter was sent from this firm to the mills asking and’ pleading for more strawboard, in order- to enable it to supply the orders it had for boxes. Therefore, when honorable members point out that strawboard has been coming into Australia from Japan and Holland, the simple explanation is that it could not be got anywhere else. If the local manufacturers can supply the - demand with new, up-to-date machinery, they ought to be able to do it at less cost, and if ‘they can do this, what foundation, have they for their request for a higher duty than they- had under the old-
Tariff ? The Sydney boxmaker, ‘.to whose letters I have just referred, told the Australian Paper Mills, as far back as 1914, after the last Tariff was passed, that he would take all the strawboard he required at a price £1 per ton higher than that which he was paying for Dutch strawboard. Although he said that, he had to get other board, because the mills could not supply him. These mills started m a small way, but have gradually built up their trade until they have become quite flourishing and- prosperous under the old Tariff. They were paying 25 per cent, and 30 per cent., and have watered their stock in two or three instances, yet they still pay good dividends. If they have carried money to reserves, and otherwise capitalized their profits, it shows that, in addition to the dividends they have paid, they have also made other profits. If the bonus shares represent capitalized reserves, those reserves must have been profits at some time or other. The mills are not in a doubtful or unstable position. They are not threatened by any competition that will crush them, but the box-makers, on the other hand, are losing their ‘ trade week by week, because the price of the article they produce is too high. We ought to go back to the old Tariff, which was sufficient to enable this industry to grow into the flourishing concern that lt is now_. There is no need for the duty which appears in this schedule, and certainly no need for the increase proposed by the honorable “member for Grampians.
Amendment, by leave, amended by leaving out the words “ plain, not lined.”
.- The honorable member for Nepean (Mr. Bowden), who has been putting the case for a reduction of the duty, has made out an excellent case for an increase. He has saved members who are in favour of an increase a great deal of time, and we are thankful to him, as we all desire to finish the schedule, so that we may deal with other important matters for which the country is calling. The question of strawboard is more important to the Commonwealth than it may appear to any one who has not considered it, or inspected the great factories already erected or in course of erection. We recognise that other industries depend .upon the production of strawboard. A great deal has been said of the box-making industry, which is naturally concerned, but the increasing or decreasing of the duty on strawboard has, - in my opinion, nothing to do with Sargents or any other firm putting their pastry up in bags instead of boxes. The strawboard industry is responsible, for converting into a useful manufactured article a great deal of material that might otherwise go to waste. It uses between 30,000 to 40,000 tons, and perhaps 50,000 tons, of straw per year.
– They get it cheaper here than they do in Holland.
– I am not concerned about the price of straw in Holland or Japan. I am concerned about the uses to which we are going to put our raw materials, especially when they can be manufactured into articles which will give employment to many men. Honorable members know that there is quite enough unemployment at present; but if we do not give protection to this industry I venture to nay that the .machinery which has recently been installed will not be used for the purpose for which it should be used, from an Australian point of view. The industry also uses coal, thus giving employment to more hands. This coal has to be carried by sea or rail, and, altogether, the strawboard industry, considered in . relation to other industries which it helps to support, is undoubtedly worthy of the protection which the honorable member for Grampians (Mr. Jowett) proposes. The honorable member for Nepean said that one firm advertised for sale a quantity of Japanese strawboard. I am given to understand that there is a firm who are box-makers and also deal in strawboard. They have purchased a great deal of strawboard from’ Japan and, not satisfied with making their boxes of it, are offering it for sale in competition with the Australian-made board. What we should be concerned about, as an Australian Parliament, is the building up of Australian industries, even at a slightly increased cost, which will be spread over the whole community. I venture to think that 90 per cent, of the people will never object to that so long as it helps to push along the country pf which they are all so proud. The box-makers who are complaining about the additional cost do not complain about the quality of the Australian boards. The honorable member for Nepean has admitted that the Australian-made article is far superior to that of Japan, and wo .appreciate that .admission from him. We contend that it is most unfair for the box-makers to put before this Committee a case for the reduction of the duty, under the pretence that otherwise boxes will be made dearer, when they are really entering into competition with the local strawboard manufacturers by importing and re-selling stuff in bulk, and not using it for box-making, the purpose for which they are supposed to . buy it. We most decidedly object to that, because that traffic in foreign strawboard has nothing to do with keeping in work any of the employees in the box-making industry. Australia may congratulate itself upon possessing the prosperous industry of strawboard making. It has been said that it has been paying fine dividends, aud also, that it has watered its stock. The latter is a very bold statement to make ‘without sufficient evidence that the industry has been doing anything of the kind. Any one who cares to look into the details df the working of the Australian mills will be satisfied that they have made good profits, but they have placed the whole of those profits, and even double those profits, back into the industry. They have not sent their money to Japan or elsewhere, as the boxmaking industry is doing to a slight degree, but have re-invested double the amount of money they made, by building factories and installing machinery which is a credit to Australia.
– That shows what a good “spec.” it is.
– It is much better to have a good spec, in our own midst than in Japan. It is better to have Combines in Australia than in any foreign country. We are better without Combines altogether, but if there are any let them be here, so that we can deal with them. Unless this industry is given more protection than it has now, it will be at the mercy of the Japanese by means of dumping, although the proposed Bill may prevent dumping to a certain extent. Most honorable members have seen at Fairfield a factory in which machinery which is undoubtedly a credit to the Commonwealth has been installed.
– We should have a quorum. [Quorum formed.]
– It has been, said that during the war the Australian box-makers were not able to get from the local makers all the strawboard they needed. But since then new machinery has been installed, and the Australian mills will now supply the needs of the box-makers if these will place their orders with them. Bad as the quality of the Japanese strawboard is admitted to be, even by those who are asking for lower duties ou that article, no less than 2,500 tons of it have been imported during the last nine months. I hope that the Committee will see that those who have invested capital in an industry which is employing Australian labour, and using up Australian raw material, are properly protected.
– I think that the case for higher duties on strawboard has been fully made ‘ out, and I hope that the Minister will agree to the amendment. The honorable member for Nepean (Mr. Bowden) supported his - argument with quotations from the letters of box manufacturers, but many of these are also importers of strawboard. This is. the advertisement of Messrs. P. J. Firth Limited, boxmakers, paper and twine merchants, of Newcastle, Sydney, and Brisbane=-
We can offer Japanese strawboard 10, 12, and 14 ounce, size 25 _x 30 at 21s. per cwt. (5 cwt. lots), delivered ‘to your store, and subject to the usual discount nf 3 per cent, for prompt cash, or’ 2 J per cent., monthly account.
– That is only one firm out of many.
– When a big firm of boxmakers is an agent for Japanese strawboard, it naturally wishes to have the duties on strawboard reduced. Years ago the cry was that Australia could not make strawboard equal to that imported from Japan ; but to-day even the honorable member himself admits, that the Australian mills turn out strawboard as good as that made in any part of the world. I remember the strawboard that was made at Broadford nearly twenty years ago, when the first Tariff was under discussion, and I am amazed at the improvement of their manufacture shown by comparing their present output with that of 1902. This mill and others have completely answered those who said that Australian strawboard was not good enough for our boxmakers. Our paper mills are the foundation of the great paperrmaking industry, which is a key industry. It has been admitted that during the war the local strawboard was sold for less than the imported strawboard, although, at that time, nearly every other manufacturer, Australian and foreign, was charging for his goods very much higher prices than we had been accustomed to pay. Our makers of strawboard, on the contrary, although they had practically the market to themselves, dealt liberally with their customers, though, of course, they did not fail to make a profit on their capital. Within the last few days many honorable members have visited some new mills which have been equipped with the latest machinery for manufacturing strawboard to meet the demands of boxmakers and others, and to-day Australian mills can supply all the strawboard required in the Commonwealth. The honorable member for Echuca (Mr. Hill), the honorable member for Indi (Mr.Robert Cook), and the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) must admit that these mills are now using in large quantities what was once a waste product of the farm by turning straw into strawboard. I have seen the fire-stick put into great heaps of straw.
– That is done now.
– It may be done in South Australia, because there is not a straw mill accessible, but thousands of tons of straw elsewhere are taken to the mills and converted into strawboard. This gives employment on the farms in compressing and handling the straw, makes freight for the railways, and produces an article equal to the imported article. Why should we destroy a magnificent industry such as this? It is a natural industry of the country, and many Free Traders have said, “We feel inclined to stay our hands in regard to native or natural industries.” The honorable member for Nepean has to-day resurrected opinions which died years ago, and should have been buried too deep to ever again see the light of day. If the Minister will not alter the intermediate duty, why should he not at least alter the general duty? The honorable member forNepean put in a plea for the Dutch; but they would do nothing for Australia during the war, or even in peace. When the Dutch strawboard could not be sent here, and the stocks of Japanese strawboard were short, Australian makers, as I have said, were selling their strawboard to the boxmakers of the country at what were not excessive prices. I. have here a circular, in which it is stated that -
Box-makers are indebted to the Australian mills for their existence during the war period.
– Does the honorable member want me to state the other side of the case? We have all seen that circular.
– It contains facts that are worth placing on record. It is stated, further, that -
Box-makers were supplied during same period with strawboards at 100 per cent, less in price than they paid for Japanese boards.
– How could a thing be 100 per cent, less in price?
– They would be ruined if they sold at that price very long.
– I am merely quoting from a circular on the paper and strawboard industry. It is stated further in it that-
Box-makers were compelled to purchase Japanese . boards, as the Australian mills’ capacity was not equal to their demands, owing -to want of pre-war support.
Before the war, orders were intermittent, box-makers sometimes using the local article and sometimes the imported -
Box-makers can now obtain all they require in straw and other box boards, as new mills and machinery have been erected and installed with an increased capacity of 20,000 tons per annum, at a cost of £400,000.
Surely such an industry is worth protecting.
Box-makers say they prefer Australian boards. They cannot obtain Australian boards cheap if through ineffective protection large importations of foreign boards cause Australian mills to run only part time or close.
Box-makers can obtain cheap Australian boards if effective protection be given.
I would remind honorable members that if any of these manufacturers seek to fleece the Australian public the Tariff Board will be able to deal with them effectively; but, as is shown in this circular they have never attempted to do anything of the kind.
Box-makers used in 1914-15 2,460 tons imported strawboards, of which. Japan supplied 398 tons.
Box-makers used in 1919-20 1,234 tons imported strawboard, of which Japan supplied 1,037 tons.
Box-makers used in 1920-21 (nine months ending 31st March) 2,514 tons imported strawhoards, of which Japan supplied 2,000 tons.
The figures in regard to the employment which this industry affords have already been mentioned, and I shall not repeat them. We know that it converts into a marketable commodity an almost waste product of one of our great primary industries, and I hope that the Committee will decide in favour of an increased duty.
.r-The Minister” (Mr. Greene) has carefully considered all the representations that have been made to him in regard to ‘this sub-item, and while he is strongly of the opinion that the industry requires increased protection, he thinks’ that the duties of 2s., 2s. 6d., and 3s. fid. per cwt., for which he has provided in the Tariff are ample. On the price to which strawboard may be expected to come back the duty of 3s. 6d. per cwt., under the general Tariff, will be something like 35 per cent., and that, he considers, a reasonable proposition. -
.- ^ The Committee, and particularly honorable members opposite, should hesitate before increasing these duties, since the employment of a very large number of people in the box-making industry is involved. A large number of these employees waited upon the Country Party about a week ago, and pointed out to us° that the manufacture of strawboard boxes had been popularized in Australia, with the result that a large number of men were employed in the industry, but that, owing to the present high prices of strawboard, some five hundred of their number were out of employment. It is quite possible that if we unduly increase these duties on strawboard the goods made from them will so increase in price that their use will be very much restricted. I have no personal interest in this matter. Primary producers are interested to only a small degree in respect of the straw used in the manufacture of the boards, and the case put before us by the box manufacturers shows that they have not been too well treated by those engaged in the local strawboard industry.
– Nor by the people supplying the imported strawboard.
– They said that the Japanese strawboard was cheaper than the Australian article, but was not satisfactory. I was pleased to hear them say that the Australian strawboard was far more satisfactory than that coming from Japan, but they pointed out that the price of the local article had increased from £7 a ton before. the war, to £24 10s. per ton, and that the present price was £23 per ton. An enormous quantity of coal is used in the manufacture of strawboard, and, having regard to the rise in the price of coal and the” difficulties in the way of obtaining adequate supplies, there may have been some justification for that increase, but it is hard to say whether or not the whole of it can be .justified. I had a letter from a Perth trader, who states that in prewar times strawboard made in Melbourne was sold in Perth in small quantities at lis. per cwt. Prices were raised during the war, and the strawboard manufacturers made “ a very good thing “ out of it. Th© writer adds that, not content with that, they secured increased duties, and, ultimately, the actual prohibition of imports of strawboard, with the result that the Victorian article rose in price to- £45. per ton, and wa6 sold in Perth at 57s. 6d. -per cwt. My correspondent states further that there has been a good deal of profiteering in connexion with this product. As to that I have no personal knowledge; but, in view of the facts I have stated, I think that the duties proposed by the Government, which, apparently, were quite satisfactory to the local manufacturers until recently, should be ample, and I hope that no further increase will be granted.
.- As there seems to be some misunderstanding as to the price of strawboard to-day, I desire to point out that, during the war, Dutch strawboard was selling at Home for as much ae £80 per ton, whereas the price here to-day is only £19 per ton.Throughout the war the price here never exceeded £20 per ton.
.- I would not have spoken again but for certain remarks by. the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton). I do not think he was quite fair in some of the statements which he made. His insinu- ation that the box-makers of Australia will not buy, the locally manufactured strawboard was unworthy of him.
– I did not say that.
– The honorable member said that our. mills were idle because the local box-makers would insist upon buying the imported article. May I point out that they are compelled to do so, owing to a shortage of Australian board. Only last year Mr. Robert Nall wrote to the Australian Paper Mills: -
We do hope that you will be able to get away some board for us this week. We have had to work -our hands short time on account of your shortage, so you understand our position.
– What was the date of that communication ?
– It was written in March of last year.
– They have not placed any orders during the present year.
– I am quite sure that the honorable member is misinformed. The circular which was read. by the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) related only to the Japanese board to which I have previously referred. The manufacturers could not use it themselves, and they endeavoured to sell it, but without success. That was twelve months ago, at the very time that Australian board manufacturers could not supply local demands. Box-makers of Australia are prepared to take every ounce of strawboard which can be made in our own mills.
– Does the honorable member know that the Sydney Morning Herald sends its waste paper to Japan?
– I do not. But I know that our paper mills are getting from our box manufacturers their cuttings at a very much lower price than they can be purchased at elsewhere. I understand that the average price is £2 3s. 6d. per ton. I do not know how that amount is made up.
– It is the result of investigation, I am assured.
– I am told that the figures have been checked, but there is not a single box-maker that I know of who is getting that price. Mr. Robert Nall, one of the biggest manufacturers in Sydney, receives only 10s. per ton for his waste paper, and though he has asked for more he has failed to get it.
– That is for only one transaction.
– No; every bit of his waste paper during the past five - or six years has been sold for 10s. per ton. The box-makers in Brisbane get nothing for their waste product”, although the. board mills will cart it away for them. In Melbourne, the box-makers receive 22s. 6d. per ton for their wastecuts, and in Adelaide they get from 5s. to 10s. per ton.
– If they did not get that they would have to burn it.
– That may be so. Upon the other hand, this waste is the raw material for certain mills.
– Strawboard is cut into sizes for commercial use, so that there is very little waste in it.
– It is not always cut into sizes for commercial use. Mr. Nall has informed me that in connexion with his particular work, there is a good deal of waste. It is not true that the Australian box-makers as a whole are anxious to secure a reduction of the duty upon strawboard in order that they may use the imported article. But they fear that if the duty be increased, the price of strawboard will rise even higher than it is. Should that result be brought about, the industry will be killed.
.- The statements made by some honorable members have caused me at times to indulge in some very hearty laughs. Speaking of strawboard, I may mention that only a little while ago I saw an advertisement relating to a theatrical artist who had come to Australia for the purpose of getting rich quick. I am quite satisfied that if he knew the returns which are being obtained by the manufacturers of strawboard he would rush like a madman to invest his money in the industry. I presume that the figures in my possession contain a certain amount of truth, although during the Tariff debate it has been exceedingly difficult to arrive at the truth. Some honorable members have been very anxious to quote figures, and whilst figures do not lie, the members who quoted them have often been absolute liars - the greatest liars that one can imagine.
– That is unparliamentary language.
– It is parliamentary truth. The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Francis), who desires to obtain an increased duty upon strawboard, does not know much about the balance-sheets of those engaged in the industry. For the year ended 31st December, 1919, I learn that the profits of the industry amounted to £39,000 upon a. capital of £236,425, “notwithstanding the serious industrial disturbances which. compelled the cessation of work.” Within a period of six years and six months of troublous times those engaged in the industry wiped out the whole of their capital liability. During four years a.nd nine months their net profit was £27,409 upon a capital of £129,969. The second machine of the Australian Paper and Board Mills, according to their balance-sheet, commenced to run in April, 1920, and according to the mills should have reduced the cost of production. But the prices were not reduced. With, all these new appliances we’ are told that prices should have declined. The prices have not come down, and these enormous profits have been made. I understand that some honorable members opposite are connected with public companies, but I do not think they know of any company in a better position than this one. Why, even public houses do not return anything like such profits. The only excuse I can see for honorable members who desire to raise these duties is either that they or their friends are shareholders, or they know nothing whatever about the subject. The honorable member for Nepean (Mr. Bowden) is a Free Trader, whereas I am a Protectionist, but I should like to indorse some of his remarks. An affidavit has been shown to me by a firm in Sydney to the effect that the Broadford mills received an order for 40 tons of strawboard per month-, the order guaranteeing that payment would be made twenty-one’ days after delivery. That surely is not a bad order, and yet, two years and a half after, it has not been fulfilled, those who gave the order being thankful for what they can secure, and praying to God for more next month. I have no personal interest in the Sydney industry; indeed, I do not suppose that the gentleman At the head of the company, if he lived in my electorate, would give me a vote. Personally, he and I are very friendly, but I feel sure he would not vote for my party; nor would be, I believe, give a vote to some honorable members opposite.
In 1911, when the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Tudor) was Minister for Trade and Customs, and we rectified some of the anomalies in the Tariff, the duty on strawboard was reduced because the mills in Victoria could not produce the necessary supplies. At that time; the company promised that the mills would be so improved in the next few years as to be able to meet the requirements of all Australia. However, no improvement has been made to the mills ; and this I do not quite understand, for Mr. Macdonald is a shrewd .Scotchman, and always anxious for a share of the ‘bawbees.” In connexion with this company, we must also remember that all the profits are not shown in the dividends.
– How does the honorable member know that the company, paid dividends?
– The honorable member is a “ new chum “ here, and has much tolearn. Under all the circumstances, although I am a Protectionist in regard to some items, .and a prohibitionist in regard to others, I shall vote for a continuance of the present duties. This industry provides the raw . material for the boxmaking industry, which will be greatly assisted if strawboard be kept at a reasonable price. To make the price of strawboard prohibitive would benefit none but the strawboard manufacturers, and if these can get all their invested capital returned in something over four years, they must be gluttons not to accept the present Tariff.
– I wish we had more speeches like yours on the Tariff.
– When I took part in the general debate, I showed why I am a Protectionist ; I do not wish Australians to be mere hewers of wood and drawers of water, or just pick-and-shovel men. We all know the universal use to which strawboard boxes are put. If you buy a pair of boots they are put in a box,, so with a dozen handkerchiefs, and so with the chocolates when you take your best girl to the opera. It is well to encourage this sort of thing.
– Hear, hear!
– Did the tailor send home the honorable member’s famous £5 suit in a box?
– I am sure I do not know.
Mr.WEST. - Perhaps the suit was too cheap to justify a box.
-Will the honorable member explain the difference between strawboard and millboard? Some honorable members are somewhat confused on -the point, which has not been made clear to the Committee.
– I shall enlighten the honorable member when we reach mill- boards; I speak only on one subject at a time.
Question - That the words proposed to be added be so added (Mr. Jowett’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 19
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Mr. Bowden) negatived -
That the item be further amended by adding the following words to paragraph 1 of sub-item (s) : - ‘‘And on and after 6th July, 1921, strawboard, per cwt., British,1s. 6d. ; intermediate, 2s. ; general, 2s. 6d.”
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 335 (Fashion plates and books) agreed to.
Item 336 (Parchment)
.- I understand that parchment is imported, and that none is made . here. This is only a revenue duty, and we all know that the poor clients of the lawyers will be the persons who will have to pay these increases of duty.
– It is a good policy to make law dear.
– I only point out what honorable members will be doing if they pass the item as it stands. If they are content to do so, I am satisfied.
– We must have some revenue to build the Federal Capital.
Item agreed to.
Item 337 (Transfers) agreed to.
Paper, viz.: -
Amendment (by Mr. Wise) proposed -
That the item be amended by adding the following to sub-item (a): - “And on and after 6th July, 1921-
.- It is all printed matter that is included under paragraph a of this item, dutiable at8d., 9d., and l0d. per lb. These things are all covered by Australian industries.
– The honorable member does notwish to reduce the duties proposed ?
– No; I want to increase them.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 339 (Books n.e.i.), item 340 (Stationery, manufactured), item 341 (Writing ink and ink-powders), item 342 (Black printing ink), item 343 (Printing and stencilling inks), item 344 (Maps), and item 345 (Globes, geographical), agreed to.
Item 346 -
.- I move -
That the following words be added to subitem (a) : - “And on and after 6th July, 1921, Pencils … ad val., British, free; intermediate, 10 per cent.; general, 20 per cent.”
My desire is to give a greater measure of preference to Great Britain. Prior to the war, an immense proportion of the pencils used in Australia were not of British manufacture. The advantage possessed by foreign countries in exploiting the Australian markets still exists, and I desire to see the Old Country given a fairer prospect of providing for the Australian people with excellent British-made pencils.
– I am prepared to agree to a compromise, making the respective rates free, 10 per cent., and 15 per cent.
Amendment amended accordingly, and agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Wise) agreed to -
That the following words ‘ be added to subitem (e) : - “And on and after 6th July, 1921, Pen and pencil cases and boxes for school use, fitted or not fitted, ad val., British, 15 per cent.; intermediate, 25 per cent.; general, 35 per cent.”
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 347 (Paint-boxes), agreed to.
School and drawing slates, slate pencils, ad val., British, free; intermediate, 10 per cent.; general, 15 per cent.
. I understand that consideration has been given to the question of granting a greater measure of protection in connexion with the manufacture of school slates. I would like to see the rates increased respectively to 15 per cent., 25 per cent., and 30 per cent. The Education Departments of the various States are quite satisfied, I believe, with the quality of the school slates supplied. If we are to compete successfully against Japanese and American competition, we must impose some slight additions to the Tariff. How can we better rear young Australians in Australian ideals than by giving them something to work on which has been made in Australia by Australian workmen from Australian materials ?
.- The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) has reconsidered the Tariff rates upon school slates. A very good article is now being manufactured in Australia; and, on behalf of the Minister, I move -
That the following words be added: - ‘“And on and after 6th July, 1921 -
Amendment agreed, to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 349 (Kindergarten materials) agreed to.
– I point out that the Committee has already dealt with items 350 to 364, inclusive (vide pages 9515 to 9522, and 9568 to 9599). division xv. (musical instruments).
Item 365 -
Pianos and player pianos -
Upright, each, British, £7; intermediate, £8; general, £9 10s.; or ad val., British, 30 per cent.; intermediate, 40 per cent.; general, 45 per cent., whichever rate returns, the higher duty.
– I move -
That the following words be added: - “And on and after6th. July, 1921 -
Pianos and player pianos -
Under this amendment the fixed duties will remain as at present. When the last Tariff was under consideration the Committee refused to . increase the rates, but certain increases were included in ‘ the 1908 Tariff. When piano parts were under consideration, I reminded honorable members that the price of pianos at the present time is almost prohibitive. It has been said that the Australians are a musical people - according to this morning’s newspapers, the Victorians areparticularly so - and, if such is the case, every consideration should be shown those who desire to acquire the art of piano playing by allowing instruments, particularly those of British manufacture, to be imported at a reasonable price. The piano is a most popular instrument, its use tends to brighten the home life, particularly of those who live in the country, and in teaching the pianoforte many thousands earn their livelihood. In 1908, the shop price of the average imported piano, in Germany or Great Britain, was about £20.
– What was the price in Australia?
– About £45. To-day the. cheapest piano cannot be obtained, at the factory for less than £50, so that a 45 per cent, duty on a £50 instrument would be about £22 10s. Many of the pianos imported into Australia at present come from America, so that with an adverse exchange rate and high duties the cost of an American instrument is very high. At present British manufacturers are unable to supply the local demand, quite apart from the Australian requirements.
– Does the honorable member, wish us to go back to the German piano ?
– No. I desire Australian purchasers to be able to procure English instruments rather than those manufactured in America. During the discussion on other items, frequent reference has been made’ to the natural protection afforded in consequence of high sea freights; but in connexion with pianos the natural protection is, perhaps, greater than on many other items, owing to their weight and size. On previous occasions, when the duties on pianos were under consideration, we were informed that the industry was languishing,and that, if higher rates were not imposed, the manufacturer would have to suspend operations. Higher duties have not been imposed for some years, but local production has increased, and with the present natural protection of approximately 80 per cent., there is no justification forincreased duties.
– I draw attention to the state of the Committee. [Quorum formed.]
Mr. BOWDEN. The present duty, added to the other costs of importation, represents a total protection of from 144 per cent, on the cheaper piano down to 113 per cent, on the most expensive piano. In this way a proportionately greater burden is borne by the people who can afford to buy onlythe cheaper instrument. I do not think that any one will say that the piano industry in Australia needs protection to anything like that extent.
– How did the honorable member arrive at those figures?
– A list of actual examples of pianos and piano-players imported from America has been supplied to me by Paling’s, of Sydney.
– Why should we get them from America ?
– After all, music is a matter of taste, and different people like different instruments. Why should we compel everybody to buy the same kind of instrument turned out by the same factory?
– More than one firm is engaged in making and assembling pianos.
– If the pianos are assembled in Australia they comprise parts imported from other countries. I understand that all foreign pianos are imported “in the flat,” or unassembled.
– I do not think that is so.
– Toomany are imported in that way, but there are two solid firms in Australia who make the complete instrument.
– They are “ solid “ enough ; the duties have made them so.
– I do not know that the purchaser has much choice of Australianmade pianos. In New South Wales he may buy a Beale piano and in Melbourne a Wertheim instrument.
– The Beale piano can be purchased in Melbourne too.
– There is probably an agreement between the two manufacturers not to compete with one another in their own States. I will not read to the Committee the complete list of instances furnished to me, but will quote the two extremes. A piano, costing at the factory in America £32 18s. 4d., had to bear the following charges:- Freight £14 16s. 2d., commission, insurance, and wharfage £4 18s. 5d., and duty, calculated at $4.86 to the £1, £15 5s. 7d.; duty actually collected on the basis of $3.95 to the £1, £18 15s.11d. (showing an excess duty on account of the exchange of £3 10s. 4d); total landed cost of the instrument, £79 8s., which represents a natural protection, without duty, of 81 per cent., and with duty the protection is 144 per cent. Another piano costing, at the factory, £94 12s. l1d., at the ordinary rate of exchange, cost at the present rate of exchange, calculated at $3.95 to the £1, £116 9s. 2d. The freight was £16 6s. 6d. ; commission, insurance, and wharfage, £10 17s. 9d. ;. duty, £56 7s. 10d., at the present rate of exchange, instead of £45 16s. 9d., at the ordinary rate, so that there was an additional duty of £1011s. 1d., due to the. adverse exchange. These charges made the landed cost £2001s. 3d., representing, a natural protection of 52 per cent., and, with duty, a total protection of 113 per cent.
– What make of piano was the latter?
– It was an American grand, but of what make I cannot say. Those figures show that the Committee is justified in reducing the present duty. That duty was quite sufficient in ordinary times, and I am quite sure that, having regard to all additional costs that are now borne by the importers, the Australian manufacturers will be fully protected by the lower duties I am suggesting.
.- I would like the Minister to agree to reduce the duties on pianos ; I think the protection suggested in the amendment will be quitesufficient. We should remember that there are, in the far west country, a large number of people who cannot go to picture’ shows and theatres, and whose only means of entertainment is the piano in their home. They do not desire to buy cheap pianos, because the freight and charges in connexion with their transport to the interior are just as high as on the more expensive instruments. A piano is a necessity , in outback homes where children are taught by. governesses. We want population in these outer districts and we ought to encourage people to settle there by giving them this : facility not only for entertainment- but also for educating their children musically. Therefore I suggest a reduction of this duty. No doubt the Inter-State Commission has recommended these high rates, but I doubt if they took into consideration the aspect of the question I have just put forward. A duty of 45 per cent, adds £25 15s. to the price of a cheap piano costing £50 at the factory.
– I understand that the local piano makers get most of their wood from Queensland.
– Yes. I have no doubt they find the Queensland timber a most suitable one. I have no desire to kill,, or even retard, the local piano-making industry, and I want to see pianos made in Australia, but I understand that a large proportion of the instruments turned out of the local factories are merely assembled in Australiaand not manufactured wholly. There are no piano factories in some States; - However, the plea I am putting forward is on behalf of the people in the outer districts and some 20,000 teachers, also scores of thousands of children.
.- I hope that the duty will be reduced on these instruments which are so much used in the. back parts of the country. By letting people get cheap pianos we shall, encourage a liking for music.
– It is rather interesting to note that the Inter-State Commission, which no one could imagine to be a Protectionist body, recommended a duty of 35 per cent, against the United Kingdom and 40 per cent, against other countries. The local manufacturers made an application for an increased duty, and after hearing the evidence tendered the Commissioners recommended -
The Commission thinks that the industry is worthy of special encouragement, and that there appears no reason why the greater proportion of the Australian demand should not be met by local manufactures. The percentage cost of labour to factory cost is. greater than in most industries, and a large proportion of skilled labour is necessary. It is probable, with the successful establishment of the piano industry in Australia, that the present excessive price to the consumer, largely due to distributing expenses, &c, and to the present ‘competition, necessitating expensive advertising and heavy commissions, will be substantially reduced. This, it has been asserted, has been the case in the United States of America.
There is one large piano factory in Sydney and there is another in Melbourne, where still another is about to be established. I propose to adhere to the rates of duty as set out in the schedule.
.- I do not know why honorable members are worrying about a reduction in these rates . of duty, seeing that Queensland timbers are used in making Australian pianos. The keyboards are made of Queensland ebony.
; - Honorable members are probably worrying about these duties-. because. they want the working people to get pianos as cheaply as the honorable member for Newcastle got his when he bought it at about one-third of the price his son will, have to pay if he buys one for his children. I expected to hear some explanation of why this enormous tax is to be put on the users of pianos in order to establish the piano making industry in Australia. We have in this Tariff gone through the whole range of Australian industries, and nowhere has any one been able to point out. anything approaching the increased cost of these particular instruments. A piano that costs £34 to manufacture abroad cannot be purchased in Australia to-day for less than. £95 or £100, and the Australian-made piano cannot be bought for much under that price.
– Hear, hear!
– I do not know why the honorable member should say . “Hear, hear” to the fact that an article posts nearly three times as much to manufacture in Australia as it can be made for elsewhere. It certainly is not due to the increased cost of the Australian timber or to the fact that the Australian labour used in its manufacture is three times more costly than labour in America.
– Do you object to that?
– I do not object to a thing that does not exist. Australian labour is not three times as costly as that of America. ‘ But I object to paying this enormous amount of money to establish an industry when the money is not spent either in wages or in material, and I think that the cost of this article ought to call for condemnation., from the men who pretend to represent the working classes. The idea that we should consent to the payment of a duty amounting to twice as much as the actual cost of the commodity abroad is utterly repugnant to my idea of what is a fair deal. I see no reason why the piano industry should be picked out for this special favour. It is protected by the cost of freight and by the conditions under which it manufactures, and it has every reason to be satisfied with a fair deal. This Tariff goes very far beyond a fair deal. The amendment of the honorable member for Nepean (Mr. Bowden) still leaves an immense margin for the manufacturer to work upon. While one would go a long way to assist in the1 establishment of the industry in Australia - and it has had a great deal of assistance - it is not right in matters of music that we should place unnecessarily high duties on pianos of different kinds and different tones, which may be preferred by artists visiting this country, or by. Australians who become experts in piano playing. No matter what degree of perfection the manufacture of Australian pianos may attain, there will always be in the community a number of people who prefer an instrument’ of a different tone, just as there are people who prefer certain English, American, or German makes of piano. We should not put an unnecessarily heavy tax on those who wish to have the instruments which they think better suited to the expression of their reading of different musical compositions.
– That applies to everything. It is the old prejudice against the Australian article.
– The honorable member is very apt to attribute to other people prejudices that he does not feel himself, and that he has.no right to attribute to me, at any rate. ‘ He cannot charge me with failure to appreciate things Australian. I have done just as much for Australian industries as he has, but I have not forgotten the lessons I learned when following the leaders he was following. One of them was that some manufacturers reach out for a great deal more than they are entitled to. Here is the evidence of it. We have no right to ask the Australian workman or any other man in Australia who wants to buy a piano to pay £2 for every £1 of its original manufacturing cost. ,1 am certain that the higher-class pianos in America are not produced by cheap labour or under conditions that make it easy to produce them cheaply, except the one condition, that they have a larger output. The Australian manufacturer employing Australian workmen, who are amongst the best in the world, ought to be able to produce a piano pretty nearly as cheaply here as it can be produced in America. If a piano can be produced in America for £34, it ought to be possible by efficient management to produce and sell profitably a similar instrument in Australia for £50, at any rate. To say that they cannot produce and sell a piano in Australia under from £95 to £100 is asking me to believe altogether too much. I shall vote for the amendment of tha honorable member for Nepean, although I should gladly support a further reduction in the duty. ..
.- The honorable member for Illawarra (Mr. Hector Lamond) does not appear to be aware that the American worker is protected by. a much higher Tariff than we are asking for. No one will deny that in America the manufacture of pianos is well established. The Steinway, for instance, commands a higher price th an any other make in the world, yet in America the duty on pianos in the 1918 Tariff was 35 per cent., and that rate has been since raised.
– Our protection is higher than that. It is 45 per cent, against America.
– Our duty against the United Kingdom is 30 per cent. In America the duty on parts is 35 per cent. Here the duty is only 15 per cent, on keyboards.
– No; it is ‘30 per cent.,. 40 per cent., and 45 per cent.
– The duty is 15 per cent, only on keyboards prescribed by departmental regulations.
– I want a fair duty which will give our own workers a chanceas against the Home land, and then I will give to the Home land as big a preference as this Committee dares to vote. I say “dares to vote” because there is too much lip-loyalty and too little real desire to help the Home land. I do not believe that the workers of Great Britain want the Australian workers to be placed at a disadvantage. Let us meet them on equal terms by means of a fair duty as against Great Britain, and then impose higher rates to help us against other countries, especially the late enemy countries. I should like to see the duty on keyboards raised to 35 per cent. Our rates are not as high as those which obtained in America in 1918, and it must be remembered that all the duties in that country have been greatly increased since the war. The great danger we have to guard against is dumping, especially what is known as “ difference of exchange dumping.” The honorable member for Nepean spoke about a piano costing £35 in Germany. In Berlin, in 1914, a very good piano could have been bought for £20; but, for the sake of argument, let me put the figure at £30, and assume that the cost of production in Germany has increased since that date by 300 per cent. That would make the cost of that piano in Germany £120 at the present date. The sum of £30 sent from here to Germany by the permission of the Minister for Trade and Customs, or by credit through Great Britain, would realize twelve and a-half times as much, which means that it would be worth in Germany to-day £375. Therefore, £30 to-day would buy three German pianos in Berlin equal to one which it would have bought before the war. What chance would our piano manufacturers have if German pianos were allowed to come in on that basis? It would be an infamy. The High Court of Australia has ruled that the special regulation which the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) wished to impose in regard to exchange is ineffective. No doubt, the honorable member for Nepean conscientiously believes in Free Trade, but no country ever grew great under that policy.
– Great Britain did.
– No. When Queen Victoria came to the throne, there were seventy-six Customs offences for which death was the penalty. Great Britain was a revenue-tariff country; never a Free Trade country. Any one who consults Mulhall’s Statistics will find that, with the exception of the two Scandinavian countries, . Great Britain levied more taxation at the Customs House, perhead of population, thanany other European, country - more than France, Germany, or Italy took from their’ peoples - and the poor were’ not studied by the British Tariff. As Protection built up Germany, under the wisdom of Bismarck, and as it built up the United States of America, so I want Australia to be built up. I want this country, which has benefited by Protection, to have a still better chance in the future; and, therefore, I shall vote to increase, rather than to decrease, duties.
– During the last year before the war,’ Great Britain exported to this country pianos worth about £60,000; Germany, pianos worth about £80,000; and the United States of America, pianos worth about £47,000. These figures make it evident that if the duties were reduced, Germany would practically have the field, to herself. I understood the honorable member for Illawarra (Mr. Hector Lamond) to complain that the rates would amount to. £17 10s. on a grand piano and to £9 10s. on an upright piano.
– I do not object to those rates; it is the ad valorem rates that I object to.
– I shall vote to protect our manufacturers from the competition of- those of Germany and the United States of America. Great Britain, I think, is given a fair preference. Although in the United States of America the price of pianos averages about £40, an American piano cannot be bought in Australia for less than £90 or £95. Therefore, it is evident that if there were no duty, American pianos would still be very dear here.
.- When duties are increased, the price of the imported manufactures on which they are levied is increased, and the prices of the local manufactures increase in keeping with them. New Zealand imposes a duty of 20 per cent, on pianos, and yet her people manufacture them as successfully as they are made here, where, it is said, a protective , duty of 45 per cent, is needed.
– One buys a piano only once in 30 years.
– That is no reason for having to pay for it twice as much as one ought to pay. The two makers of pianos in Australia keep the whole of their business in their own hands, making themselves the middlemen.
– Because they sell direct to the public.
– No; they do not. They have their own shops, their own salesmen, and their own overhead charges. It is no cheaper for them to sell them than ‘ for any one else. Piano dealers are not supplied by them, because they want everything for themselves. Apparently, the Committee is willing that they shall entirely control the piano trade of Australia. If, in New Zealand, pianos can be made profitably with a protection of 20 per cent., that duty should be high enough to protect our piano makers, who have a much larger home market..
Question - That the words proposed to be added be so added (Mr. Bowden’s amendment) - put. The Committeedivided.
Ayes . . . . . . 17
Noes . . . . . . 15 ‘
Majority . . . . 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Item,, as amended, agreed to.
Item 366 (Musical instruments, n.e.i.).
.- What are known as reed organs are included in this item,, and I should like to know whether the Minister (Mr. Wise) has. any notes inregard to them. Reed, organs, whichare used principally in churches and. lodge rooms, are not made in Australia,- so that this is a, purely revenue duty.
– Surely we are entitled to obtain some, revenue in respect of such an item.
– Can the Minister see his way to move the insertion of a new sub-item, providing for duties of 10 per cent., 15 per cent., and 20 per cent, on reed organs, instead of the . present duties of 20 per cent., 25 per cent., and 30 per cent. ?
– If I would be in order I should like to move to that effect.
– The honorable member cannot move to insert a new item.
Item agreed to. division xvi. - miscellaneous.
Item 367 (Articles of an advertising character), item 368 (Articles for use of blind, &c), item 369 (Articles not included under any other heading), item 370 (Articles imported by the Commonwealth), item 371 (Articles for the official use of the Governor-General), item 372 (Articles for the official use of State Governors) item 373 (Articles for official use by Trade Commissioners, &c), agreed to.
Item 374- ‘
Amendment (by Mr. Wise) agreed to -
That the item be amended by adding the following to sub-item (b) : - “And on and after 30th June, 1921-
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 375 (Atomizers), agreed to.
Motion (by Sir Joseph Cook), proposed -
That, the House- do now adjourn..
Mr. WEST (East Sydney) [10.31).- I noticed in -the press an intimation to the- effect that the Acting Prime Minister upon his return from Sydney to Melbourne would be in a position to give some information to honorable members in regard to the resumption of work at the Cockatoo Island Dockyard.
– I regret having to bring a matter relating to the Northern Territory under the notice of the House. But I am in receipt of a telegram from my friend in the Territory, which I propose to read, as it tells us what has recently occurred there. The telegram is as follows : -
Echo of Minister Poynton’e “at horns” prior departure Darwin. Local court to-day Harold Nil son sued Francis Urquhart, Administrator of Northern Territory for £31 damans for assault. Trial took place before Special Magistrate andspecial jury. Plaintiff alleged that on the King’s Birthday, in afternoon, be wasoutside Government House delivering dodgers, when defendant came out of his residence towards him in a threatening manner and struck him three times on the shoulder, wanting to know why he was sending niggers into his place with such rubbish. Defendant was very excited and heated. Five witnesses corroborated plaintiff’sevidence in various particulars. Defendant denied the assault, and claimed he merely tapped Nelson on forearm with his two fingers to draw his attention. Jury after brief retirementreturned unanimous verdict for plaintiff, awarding £1 damages. Magistrate entered verdict for same, with costs. Norman Barratt for plaintiff and D. Roberta for defendant. In course of proceedings Administratorinterjected and was called to older by the Magistrate.
Gibson, . Standard.
Seeing that the Territory is the only part of Australia which was recently free from industrial disturbances, and that its affairs were admirably administered by Mr. Staniforth Smith, . without any complaint on the part of the local residents, and in view of the terrible ordeal to which they were subjected under the regime of Dr. Gilruth, Judge Bevan, and Mr. Carey, all of whom have been sent to the right-about, I ask the Acting Prime Minister (Sir JosephCook) to stop the little fiddling prosecutions which are being instituted there for the non-payment of taxation until the Minister for Home. and Territories (Mr. Poynton) returns here. The Northern Territory residents have no representation in this Parliament,, although they previously had representation both in the legislative Council and House of Assembly of South. Australia. - They have the honour of haying contributed the largest amount per head of population to the Bed Cross Fund, and they also hold the premier position amongst those who offered their lives on behalf of the Empire during the recent war. They arefighting only for the principle of no taxation without representation; and I hope, therefore, that the Acting Prime Minister . will accede to my request Let us, as Australians who love our country, give them, and even the residents of Papua, the right to be represented in this Parliament.
– In reply to my honorable friend, I merely wish to say that this Government have attempted to give the residents of the Northern Territory representation in this Parliament, but withoutsuccess. The only way in which ‘ that can now be done is by the election of a Parliament whose members are in favour of granting them such, representation. Meantime,, it is impossible for the Government to remit taxation in the case ofthese people - taxation purely for local purposes. I do not think anything can excuse what, on the face of the press report, Nelson did upon the day in question.I put it to my honorable friend, the good doctor, whether, if he were holding a little social function, celebrating his birthday, for example, he would like an enemy to hire blackboys to scatter objectionable literature amongst his guests? The honorable member would be thefirst to resent that.
– I would have asked him into the . house and givenhim the best seat that I had, because I love him for what he has done up there.
– I am speaking of his action upon the particular day in question. Nothing can excuse or justify it. However, the Administrator took matters into his. own hands, with the result that he has had to pay £1. If he merely tapped Nelson lightly upon the shoulder, he did not get much for his £1.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.37 p m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 5 July 1921, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1921/19210705_reps_8_96/>.