8th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Hon. J. M. Chanter) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers,
Mr. FOWLER presented a progress report from the Committee of- Public Accounts on the operations of the War Service Homes Commission in New South Wales.
Ordered to be printed
– In view of what has bean published about the allowance paid to members of this Parliament, I ask the Treasurer if he will have a statement prepared showing the extent to which the Age newspaper proprietors rob the people of Victoria by the charge which they -make . for their newspaper. . The price of news print has fallen considerably, and the proprietors of that journal pay small wages to their employees.
Question not answered.
– Last week the Acting Prime Minister said that work would be commenced forthwith at Cookatoo Island. I understand that work has not yet commenced there, and I ask the right honorable gentleman if that is because of a dispute between the recently appointed Board of Control and the Naval Department, or because money has not been made available. Many men are in dire distress because of a long period of non-employment.-‘ I hope that something may be done?’
– I know no more than I have told the honorable member.
Mr.Charlton. - Work has not been started again.
– I cannot help that.
-Is the necessary money available?
– Yes, and there is nothing to prevent the transfer of the dock to the control of the new Shipping Board. Indeed,, I understand that the transfer has taken place.
– Hear, hear!
– I cannot tell the honorable member why operations have not been recommenced.
– Will you get into touch with the Board?
Inconvenience to States - Wireless Apparatus on Vessels.
– Can the Acting Prime Minister give me any further information about the matter on whichI questioned him yesterday? Has . the attention of the Government been drawn to the fact that serious inconvenience will be caused in some of the States, and particularly in Tasmania, by the enforcement of the Navigation Act in its entirety!
– I have had no time’ to make inquiries on the subject, but I shall do so.
– Recently several vessels have been lost off our coast, and nothing has been heard of them. I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs whether ho can require coastal vessels to instal wireless apparatus!
– Regulations under the Navigation Act have been published under which certain vessels are required to carry wireless, and these regulations will be enforced. We had to give notice - I think, nine months - to enable the installation to be carried out.
– Can you say whether the vessels that have been lost were equipped with wireless?
– I cannot.
– I ask the Minister for the Navy what action has been taken by his Department in searching for the Canastota, the Fitzroy, and another vessel recently lost. Has the Navy done everything it could by way of search?
– I told the House yesterday that the Navy had done all it could in searching for the missing vessels. When I read. in the newspapers of the shipping disaster which occurred recently on the New South Wales coast, I immediately instructed the Naval Board to send a vessel to render assistance, if possible. The Marguerite was thereupon despatched to the locality where the steamer Fitzroy was supposed to have foundered, and made a thorough search, but without finding human bodies or being able to do any good. I have since received the following letter in appreciation of the services thus given: -
North Coast Steam Navigation Company Limited,
Sydney, 28th June, 1921.
H.M. Naval Establishments,
By direction of our board of directors, I desire, on behalf of the company, to convey to you the appreciation of the directors and of the relatives of the unfortunate people who lost their lives, at the offer to dispatch one
Of His Majesty’s ships in a prompt endeavour to render whatever assistance was possible on the scene of the disasters to the vessels Our Jack and Fitzroy. You were good enough to send H.’M.A.S. Marguerite to sea, and those intimately connected with those unfortunate casualties realize that the Department of the Navy placed their services for immediate disposal in an effort to minimize, if possible, loss of life.
I have the honour to be.
Tours faithfully, (Sgd.) W. C. Sturrock.
As I said yesterday, whenever we hear that a vessel is in trouble and definite information is available as to the locality of the disaster, a war-ship, if in the vicinity, will be sent immediately to render aid.
– I ask “the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation whether anything has been done, or will be done, to enable appeals to be made against decisions of Government medical officers adverse to the claimants of war pensions ?
– Full provision exists under the pension regulations for the making of appeals, which may be addressed, first to the State Board, and then to the Commissioner. ‘ The fullest consideration is given to every appeal, and we accept a letter expressing dissatisfaction with what is being done, and the desire to have the action appealed against, as a sufficient notice of appeal.
– In the Budget I provided £7,250,000 last year for war pensions, and spent £250,000 more on them.
– What does the Government propose to do in connexion with the protest against the duty on bananas, from the Government of Fiji, conveyed through the Governor-General to the Acting Prime Minister, and laid on the table of the House yesterday?
– As yet the Government, so far as I am aware, is not proposing to do anything. This House has decided the matter, and this House alone, if it feels so disposed, can reverse the condition of affairs of which complaint is made. So far the Government has not considered the matter further.
Basic Wage and Child Endowment
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: - 1, 2, and 3. Prior to 8th January, 1920, artisans in the Commonwealth Public Service were subject to the award of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. Application was made by the Artisans Association to the Arbitration Court to have all positions which are the subject of outside awards or agreements deleted from the Public Service award, and the officers in these positions remunerated according to the rates granted in similar industries outside the Service. This was agreed to as from Sth January, 1920. 4 and 5. From 1st November, 1920, all adult officers in receipt of salary of less than £400 per annum, except officers paid rates awarded to outside industries, were granted basic wage allowances at the rate of £12 per annum, and similarly officers in receipt of less than £500 per annum, excepting those mentioned, were granted- child endowment. No justification exists for granting the basic wage allowance and child endowment to officers receiving the rates of pay Awarded to outside industries, as the existing cost of living conditions are taken into consideration by State Arbitration Courts and other wages tribunals in determinations as to rates of pay.
If they will insist upon following outside awards, then they take themselves out of our jurisdiction. They cannot have it both ways.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
What action has already been taken by the Government to encourage civil aviation under the following heads: -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : - 1. (a) The Civil Aviation Branch is provid ing aerodromes and preparing emergency landing grounds on the following aerial routes, which cover a total distance of, approximately, 2,210 miles: -
Subsidies are being paid to the shires and municipal authorities along these routes.
The Department of Home and Territories is now negotiating for the purchase of aerodromes in Melbourne, Sydney, and other centres.
The Royal Australian Air Force are surveying and organizing additional routes which will be available for civil aircraft.
Recommendations are now under consideration that tenders be called for the establishment and maintenance of developmental aerial services between -
The Government, realizing that a first essential of a successful aviation industry in Australia is public confidence in the safety of this newest form of transport, has legislated for the strict control of all aircraft and flying personnel. Regulations made under the Air Navigation Act were issued on 28th March, 1921, and came into force on 28th June, 1921.
to prepare and issue aerial maps of all approved routes.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice - -
– An answer to the honorable member’s question will be furnished to-morrow.
– On the 24th June, 1921, the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. Cameron) asked the following question -
Will the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation state - (a) The number of war pensions cancelled during the period 1st January, 1921, to date; (b) the number of war pensions reduced, also the number increased, during the same period?
I am now in a position to furnish the honorable member with the following information, supplied by the Repatriation Commission: -
The total number of war pensions in force on 1st January, 1921, was 225,826, and the cancellations since that date therefore represent 6.23 per cent.
During the same period new war- pensions have been granted to the number of11,644.
The number of . war pensions reduced and increased quoted above include ex-members of the Forces and their dependants in the proportionof approximately 40 per cent, and 60. per cent, respectively.
– I wish- to’ inform the House that I have received from the authorities of the London General Post Office the. following official confirmation, of the advice already received by the Australian representative of the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company in regard to the mail service to Europe : -
Your telegram 24th June. Arrangements have been made for four weekly service Peninsular and Oriental Company.
The following papers were presented : -
Aeroplane Service between Geraldton and Derby (Western Australia) - Conditions of tender.
Northern Territory - Ordinance of 1921 - No. 7 - Darwin Town Council (No. 2).
Motion (by Mr. Greene) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act relating to the Tariff Board.
Bill presented and read a first time.
-(By leave.) - I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
I am taking this course in accordance with the promise I made to the House some time ago that I would endeavour to introduce this Bill and another Bill dealing with dumping before the conclusion of the consideration of the Tariff schedule in order to enable honorable members to make themselves familiar with the provisions of these measures before being called upon to actually debate them. And I propose, if the necessary documents reach the House before I conclude my speech on this measure, to proceed iu Committee of Ways and Means to explain the proposed anti-dumping law. I am advised that I am obliged to proceed by way of a formal resolution in Committee of Ways and Means, and to then bring in a Bill to carry out the resolution of the Committee.
Australia, rightly or wrongly - I believe, rightly, but that is a matter of opinion - has adopted a Protectionist policy, and ever since the inauguration of Federation we have framed our Tariffs more or less on Protectionist lines. Naturally, with the development and extension of industry in this country, progressing as we have done from stage to stage in the processes of manufacture, there has been a tendency always to broaden the base of our policy of Protection and to cover more and more ground. It has been my experience, and, I believe, that of every honorable member in the House, that there has been a great need for more complete and accurate information on the one hundred and one details that we are called upon to consider when dealing with a Tariff schedule. There are a vast number of things that it is necessary for honorable members to know in order to make it possible for them to appreciate the necessity for, and the effect of, proposed duties. One thing on which I lay special stress is the necessity for the information placed in the hands of honorable members being up to date. An inquiry held two or three years ago into the conditions of industry is’ perhaps of little or no use when dealing’ with the conditions existing to-day. The main consideration is that our information should be kept up to date. The Department over which I preside has endeavoured to do that, and has succeeded to a very large degree, but Burdened as my officers are with all the details ‘ of ordinary administrative work, it is almost impossible to keep the information “quite up to date unless we appoint a special staff of officers whose special duty shall be that and nothing else. It seems to be highly desirable, therefore, that there should be a special body created whose duty would be to study ‘from’ day to day, and month to month, and year to year, not only the operation of the Tariff, but also the development of industries in Australia and the means that should be adopted to encouragestill further- development. That body should study also in its broadest aspect the effect of the operation of the Tariff generally upon industries, both primary and secondary. No doubt there is room for the development of primary industries in certain directions, but only if, side by side with them, are the related secondary industries. I am a great believer in the diversification of primary industries. We do not get the best results from primary industry by growing either wheat or wool and nothing else. There are avenues in which we could find useful and remunerative employment for the people on the land other than in the present great staple primary industries. Therefore, it will be the duty of the proposed Tariff Board, if Parliament in its wisdom agrees to its establishment, to not only study the effect of the actual duties we impose, but to also investigate in that broader’ and wider field the possibilities of future, development in both primary and secondary industries. The duties will include, no doubt, the collection and collation of a great deal of statistical information, from which the Board will work out their conclusions. But I believe that statistical information of and by itself is of very little use when considering the duties necessary to be imposed in connexion with the establishment of an industry. I agree entirely with some . remarks made by the Chairman of the Tariff Board of America in . a ‘speech which he delivered at the annual dinner of the Association of Commerce in Chicago on the 3rd December, 1910. That was about a year after the Board had been appointed, and they had had some time in which to consider the methods by which they would tackle the immense responsibility that had been thrown upon them by the President of the United States of America. The Chairman of the Board said, in regard to statistics: -
Frankly, we do not believe that a mere statistical knowledge of comparative costs of production is an all-sufficient basis for a Tariff judgment. In fact, we wish to emphasize most strongly our position ‘that the Tariff problem is not a mere statistical problem. It is important that we do not delude ourselves or the public with the idea that the greater the mass of figures accumulated the greater the knowledge derived. We must limit our work in such a way as to avoid two grave dangers : First, that the Board would be so swamped by a mass of material that even if it were greatly enlarged it could not handle the matter intelligently; second, that the Board would be forced to trust merely to tabulations and. averages in mathematical form. This latter danger promises to become the crux of the whole situation. There are those who seem to think that by getting a sufficient mass of figures and putting them through the adding machine the result will be some magical figure which represents ‘an ideally just rate of duty for any specific article. Please do not think for ohe moment that we share this view. Despite the need for a large amount of statistical materia) and special technical reports, there pan be no satisfactory results secured unless the officers of the Government intrusted with such investigations can supplement these materials by the application of common sense arid practical business judgment. They must know the conditions of competition in each industry, they must be familiar with local conditions through study on the ground, so far as possible, and they must analyze sympathetically, and yet critically,. the claims of each interested party. They must recognise that the question of prices sometimes proves more fundamental than the question of costs. The Tariff question is one of business, and not of mathematics. The problem of how fur an industry needs protection to keep it in sound existence, or what the effect of its decay would be, cannot” bc settled by any algebraic formula.
I quite agree with that statement of the case, and while I realize that one of the chief duties of this Board will be the study and compilation of statistics in relation to the Tariff, I should be sorry to think that it was going to submit to this Parliament from time to time recommendations based on a mere balancing of figures. I. dp not think we can ever properly consider a Tariff based entirely on information of that character, valu able as it may be as an assistance towards securing the end we have in view.
While I hope the Board will not rely on statistics as the main ground for their recommendations, I trust also they will not rely upon evidence given on oath by witnesses before them as the main means of informing their minds. Sworn testimony may be found of the greatest possible use in elucidating information it is necessary to get, and this Bill makes ample provision to give the Board powei-3 of investigation in that direction; but the taking of evidence on oath at an inquiry is not an ideal way of arriving at a proper judgment in regard to the Tariff.
– Sometimes what is left unsaid by witnesses is of more importance than what has been uttered.
– I thoroughly agree with the honorable member. Very often what is left unsaid is the most material point in the consideration of a question. The Tariff Board must be left free to inform its mind in regard to the Tariff in any way it likes, and I hope- it will endeavour to make itself, as far as possible, familiar with the expansion and growth of industry in this country by getting into close personal touch willi that development, for by that means they can do far better work than by the mere summoning of witnesses before them and the taking of evidence on oath. Of course, in connexion with their inquiries there may come a time when it will be most essential that they should place a man in the witness box and put certain definite questions to him, and they are given power to do this; but I hope that they will not rely upon this means as the sole way of informing their minds.
– Even though a heavy penalty is provided for supplying inaccurate information?
– It is most necessary that penalties should be provided so that when the Board in the exercise of this discretion which is given to it summons a man and puts him on oath, and asks for certain information, provision should be made to punish him in a proper way if he supplies false information.
I hope that neither the members of this House nor the public generally will expect too much of the Tariff Board. It is often said that the Tariff should be made a business matter, and dealt with apart altogether from political considerations. In fact, some reputable journals suggest that the imposition of the Tariff should not be left to Parliament itself, but to some outside body. But after all. is said and done a Tariff is a form of taxation, and although taxation levied by Parliament may be regarded as disagreeable in a Democracy, taxation imposed by a bureaucracy would be as impossible as would be the exactions of an autocrat.
Let us be under no delusion that the creation of this Tariff Board will bring about a fiscal millennium. It will do nothing of the sort. All the Board will be able to do is to investigate, to inform, and to recommend. It will be able to make its investigations as thorough as possible, its information- as comprehensive as possible, and its recommendations as wise as possible, but when these three things are done Parliament alone can fix the Tariff.
– Not according to clause 15 of this Bill.
– I think so, and if anything has crept into the verbiage of the Bill which brings about a different result, it was not my intention. I do not think that such has occurred, but we can look into the matter later on. After all, the application of the recommendations of the Tariff Board involves a great problem, of economic policy regarding which there always has been, and always will be, great difference of opinion. It may be demonstrated beyond the shadow of a doubt that the findings of the Board -are unimpeachable, but there still remains the question of a high Tariff, a low Tariff, or no Tariff. These are questions which; in the long run,- can only be settled by the popular will as expressed through the chosen representatives of the people. Tariff Board or no Tariff Board, the Tariff is, and must remain, one of the great problems of political controversy, and I think it is impossible to prevent the Tariff reflecting, from time to time, in a greater or lesser degree, the play of public opinion as mirrored through the constituencies. It is inevitable, therefore, that many of the benefits which are popularly expected to flow from the appointment of a Tariff Board are likely to prove “illusory; and, though I think there are some substantial benefits to. be derived from the creation of such a Board, it is, so far as we are concerned, largely an experiment. It is for that reason, perhaps, as much as any other, that honorable members will find the Bill drafted in the way it has been.
It is true that America has had a fairly long experience of a Tariff Board, which there is now called a Tariff Commission. It was created, I think, in 1909, with, a Board of three members, and we have followed that example to the extent that we propose to appoint three’ members under this Bill. It will be found that the Bill does not propose to make three new permanent appointments. For reasons which I shall give directly, it is proposed to make one of the appointees a member of the administrative staff of the Department of Trade and Customs, and to appoint two other men from outside, and pay them so much per sitting. The fees are laid down in the Bill itself. It is provided that the member of the administrative staff -of the Department shall be Chairman of the Commission, and that, in addition to his usual salary, whatever that may happen to be, he shall be granted allowances which, together with his salary, must not exceed £1,400 per year. Then we propose to pay the members of the Board £5 5s. per sitting for every day they sit. There will, of course, be times when they will not require to sit. They can set investigations going, employ men to do the “devilling”’ work for them, and then, with the information obtained in front of them, come to their conclusions from time to time. So much for the personnel of the Board, which, we think, will be able to carry out its work with a comparatively small staff. The members of the Board will, of course, rely largely, on the officers of my Department for a great deal of the statistical and other information they will require. I cannot say, because it is difficult to tell until the Board has been in operation a little while, whether it will be necessary to add to . the staff more than one or two, who will be required for secretarial work in the first instance.
– If so, it will be different from any other Board !
– Will the members of the Board be selected from the Department, or from outside?
– Other than the Chairman, the members will be selected from outside. If the honorable member will look at clause 6 he will see this provision -
The Governor-General shall appoint as Chairman of the Board a member who holds an administrative office in the Department of Trade and Customs . …
That is provided because we felt that, in any case, and under any circumstances, it is necessary that between the Board and the Department there should . be a close liaison. There is, of course, in the Department a vast amount of experience in connexion with the handling of the Tariff, and with the Customs laws, and it is .most essential that the Board should have the benefit of that experience, so that the members may know, in many instances, what they are doing, and what the’ effect of their recommendations may be. I have known quite a number of cases in which people have asked the Department to take certain action which they believed to be in their interest, when, as a fact, they lacked knowledge of how such action would work out in application, and if we had done what was desired, the result would have been the direct opposite of what was expected. So, therefore, we think there should be this close liaison between the Board and the Customs Department, and propose that the Chairman shall be a departmental officer.
– Will not the Board clash in. some way with the InterState Commission?
– The honorable gentleman is not very often in that condition in which, Rip Van. Winkle is supposed to have been, but is generally wide awake, and I thought he knew1 that the InterState Commission has ceased to exist for quite a long time.
– How has it ceased to exist?
– By the expiration *f the term for which the members of it were appointed, and some considerable time ago the Government announced that it was not proposed to make any reappointments.
– It is satisfactory to know that.
– I do not know that it is necessary for me to deal with the more or less mechanical clauses of the
Bill, between those which provide for the appointment of the members of the Board and clauses 14 to 17. These latter clauses really contain the measure itself, and clause 14 is, perhaps, more important than any other. I wish honorable members to observe how that clause, which deals with the reference of certain matters to the Board, is drawn, and the effect of it. The clause begins -
The Minister shall refer to the Board for inquiry and report the following matters -
Then these matters are enumerated, and the first paragraph concludes - and shall not take any action in respect of any of those matters until he has received tha report of the Board.
That is a very drastic provision. It makes it mandatory on the Minister, in respect to the matters mentioned, to refer to the Board before taking action.
– What do you mean by taking action - say, for instance, in regard to the application of the intermediate Tariff?
Mv. GREENE. - It is impossible for the intermediate Tariff to be applied to any country until Parliament has agreed to its application. The Minister may enter into negotiations with the representatives of another country with a view to its application to that country, and may conclude those negotiations, but before he brings to Parliament a Bill for their ratification, he must obtain the report of the Tariff. Board on the subject. When Parliament comes to consider a proposed application of the intermediate Tariff, if any member calls for the report of the Board that report must be available.
– Does not the Minister think tha,t the prohibition contained in paragraph b of sub-clause 1 of clause 14 will hinder bini in his work?
– Let me deal first with paragraph a of sub-clause 1 -
The classification of goods under all Tariff items which provide for classification under by-laws.
The honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) has been constant in his complaint, iu season and out of season, that the Minister acts in this matter without any review of his actions being possible; and I promised, on behalf of the Government, that when we introduced this measure it should provide that, before the Minister took action under a by-law, he should obtain the report of the Tariff Board. All responsibility for any action taken rests with the Minister, and it must so rest; but before he takes action he must get the report of the Board. Paragraph b requires the Minister to refer to the Board for inquiry and report -
The determination of the value of goods for duty under section one hundred and sixty of the Customs Act 1901-1920.
That section is an arbitrary provision which puts on the Minister the duty of determining the value of goods which come into this country but are not sold here;. goods, for instance, which arc subject to royalty. Before the Minister comes to such a determination, he must receive the report of the Tariff Board.
– Then the Minister cannot exercise the powers given to him by the Tariff schedule unless he first consults the Board ?
– Until he has consulted the Board. Before the Minister takes action, either in making a departmental by-law., or in performing duties conferred on him by Statute, he must get a report from the Tariff Board. Hu need not necessarily follow the recommendations of the Board.
– The members of the Board will not have much time for golf if references are to be made to them so constantly.
– In regard to many matters, their decisions will be more or Jess formal. The information on which recommendations will be made will be collected for them, and put in front of them. Information is put before me in that way, and I may act upon it; or I may say that I require further information. The Board will do the same.
– Apparently, under clause 14, the Board will operate only upon reference from the Minister. Is there no provision giving them the right to initiate action on their part?
– Yes, clause 16 gives the Board that right with regard to matters which come under sub-clause 2 of clause 14. In regard to matters involving Ministerial action, the Board is to bo moved by the Minister. The Board, of course, cannot move the Minister; but the Minister cannot take action until he has moved the Board.
– Those are general questions?
– Yes . The Board, if it likes, may go into that field and make such investigations as it pleases; but when it is a question of parliamentary action by the Minister, such as the introduction of a new Tariff, he must bring the report of the Board with him, or must have it ready to be made available. I draw particular attention to paragraph h of subclause 1 of clause 14, which says that the Minister shall refer to the Board for inquiry and report -
Any complaint that a manufacturer is taking undue advantage of the protection afforded him by the Tariff, and iu particular in regard to his -
charging unnecessarily high prices for his goods; or
acting in restraint of trade to the detriment of the public.
That provision is intended to carry out the definite promise made more than once during the discussion of the Tariff schedule, that if a manufacturer took undue advantage of the protection given him by the Tariff, means would be provided for its rapid review. What it is proposed to do honorable members will ascertain by looking at clause 15 -
The Minister may, if he thinks fit, take action in respect to any of the matters dealt with by the Board in its report.
The Board may report, and the Minister may decide to take no action.
– But when he decides to take action in regard to any of the matters mentioned in clause 14, he may take it without Parliament being advised.
– There are things which Parliament will learn in the usual way, such as the classification of goods under the Tariff items providing for classification under by-laws. With regard to them the same procedure will be followed as is followed now, the by-law being gazetted in the usual way.
– But this is the first time that the Minister has been given power to reduce or abolish duties merely by reporting to Parliament.
– The Bill says that a copy of every report made in pursuance of sub-clause 3 shall be available for Parliament. If the Board finds,on inquiry, that any complaint referred to it, under paragraph A of sub-clause 1 of clause 14, is justified, it may recommend that the amount of duty payable be reduced or abolished, or that such other action may be taken as the Board may think desirable.
– That is very wide. It might include the imprisonment of a manufacturer.
-Yes; but all that the Board can do is to recommend.
– The Minister, under subclause 1 of clause 15, may take action, and if his action is taken in relation to the particular matters mentioned in subclause 2 of clause 15, all he will have to do is to report to Parliament.
– The Minister may take action only so far as the law permits. There is a number of matters under subclause 1 of clause 14 in regard to which he must get a report from the Board, and on which he may take action, but it does not necessarily follow that that will be final action. I refer to such things as a proposal for the application of the British preferential Tariff, the granting of bounties for the encouragement of. any primary or secondary industry.
– As, I read the Bill, the Minister has power to grant such bounties.
– That is not. intended.
– Then clause 15 needs amending.
– That may be so. It is not intended to alter existing procedure in the slightest degree. This House is left the master of the introduction and rejection of duties. However, we can look at the drafting by-and-bye, and, if it is faulty, can amend it. So far as paragraph h of sub-clause 1 of clause 14 is concerned, all that is intended is that if the Board, after an investigation, reports that a manufacturer is charging too much for his goods, or is acting in restraint of trade detrimentally to the public, then the obligation is thrown on the Minister to bring the report before this House within seven days.
– If there were not a Board could not the Minister act? Is not the interposition of the Board a fetter on the Minister ?
– The Bill gives the Minister a power, apart from the Board, which no Minister has previously had.
– It gives new powers of investigation and report; but it does not interfere with the existing position in relation to matters which a Ministermay or may not do.
– The Minister - cannot do anything until Parliament has sanctioned his action.’
– No; so far as those things are concerned in relation to which he must now obtain parliamentary approval.
– Is there anything in the Bill which gives the Minister power to put into effect the recommendations of the Board?
– Under clause 15 he has summary power.
– Clause 15 says-
Upon receipt of a report from the Board, in pursuance of the last preceding sections, the Minister may, if he thinks fit, take action in respect of any of the matters dealt with by the Board -in its report.
He can take action only within the limits of the law.
– That is legislative power to the Minister, the preceding condition having been fulfilled.
– I am not prepared to express a legal opinion on the point; and if the clause requires amendment we shall have it amended in Committee. It is not the intention of the Government that it shall give thatpower to the Minister. Sub-clause 1 of clause 14 deals with the review of the Tariff. It was never intended that after report by the Board the Minister should act.
– Not with regard to that particular phase.
– No; nor was it intended in regard to this particular form of inquiry into the operations of an individual manufacturer or manufacturers.
– But in other matters it was.
– There are some matters in respect of which the Minister now has power to move.It is not proposed to disturb that power, nor to give to the Minister any greater powers than those which he possesses to-day. We propose really in that respect to leave everything exactly as it is.
– I think that the Minister, in considering the question, would be well advised if he decided to exempt from Ministerial power certain phases of clause 14.
– If the Crown Law Department holds that the words in question have as wide a meaning as the honorable member suggests, we shall take action. If there is the slightest doubt we shall clear it up. Nothing is further from our intention than to go along the lines suggested by the honorable member.
– That is satisfactory.
– It will be noticed that in clause 17 provision is made for an annual report. The clause provides that -
The Board shall in the month of June in each year report to the Minister generally as to the operation of ‘ the Tariff, and the’ development of industries, and shall in such report set out the recommendations made by the Board during the preceding twelve months, other than any recommendations whose inclusion the Minister and the Board agree is not in the public interest. …
– What is meant by the last few words ?
– The Board, for instance, might recommend to the Minister that certain duties be increased. It would probably be most injudicious, in the public interest, to make known that information before action had been taken by the ‘Minister.
– The provision, if it is only in protection of the public revenue, is wise; but it might be abused.
– I *’ think honorable members will recognise that a definite obligation is laid upon the Board to report at a certain time, and upon the Minister to lay that report on the table of. the House within a certain time. The Board might have recommended to the Minister certain alterations in the schedule of duties, and the Government .might not be in a position at the particular moment when the report was to be presented to Parliament, to give effect to the recommendation.
– Does the clause provide for a specific report on specific items from time to time ?
– Roughly speaking, the intention is that the report of the Board shall disclose all the recommendations made to the Minister from time to tune.
– But this is to be done only once a year..
– Yes, except in regard to matters mentioned in sub-clause 2 of clause 15, the reports under which are to come automatically on to the table of the House.
– Is it not conceivable that such a report as that referred to in clause 17 might lead to heavy withdrawals from the Customs?
– Is there any protection against that probability?
– I take it that it is the protection against that probability to which the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) is objecting. Notwithstanding that it might not be in the public interest bo make known a certain recommendation, the honorable member thinks it should be embodied in the annual report. We want to safeguard that provision .
– The Minister could avoid the difficulty by laying any such recommendations before the House in a separate report, after his Tariff proposals had been presented.
– They would naturally come along in the ordinary course of events. There may be. other matters that it- would be undesirable to disclose, but this is the only one that occurs to my mind at the moment. It was certainly in my mind, when the clause was. drafted, that, although the Board might have recommended to the Minister the alteration > of certain duties in the Tariff schedule, the psychological moment for action in Parliament might not have arrived. The provision as to withholding a recommendation from the annual report is safeguarded to the extent that the Board and the Minister must agree that it is not in the public interest that it should be made known at that time.
– Has the honorable gentleman satisfied himself as to the necessity for the clause?
– I think it will do’ useful work.
– Are there not some constitutional difficulties?
– I am advised there are not.
– Is there not American precedent for the creation of a Tariff Board?
– The United States of America Tariff Commission was set up by’ Act of Congress, and although we do not propose to set up anything like so large an organization as that of the United States of America Tariff Commission, we are following very much the same lines..
– Does the Minister th’ink that for the fee named in the Bill he will be able to obtain two colleagues of the right quality and experience to act with the Chairman? I doubt it very much.
– I think that, for the fee named, we shall be able to get two suitable men. We have been guided by the fees paid to directors of ‘big companies; but if the House thinks that the fee is insufficient, I do not think the Government would very strenuously object to raise it.
– The fee, £5 5s. a day, will run into £1,000 or £1,400 a year.
– If the Board sits three days a week, the remuneration provided for will run into a .very fair amount.
– The members of the Board, in addition, will be allowed expenses.
– We have provided for the payment of reasonable travelling expenses. That, however, is a minor detail. If it is the feeling of the House generally that we cannot obtain for this fee the type of men necessary, the Government may agree to raise it. We require men of the highest type for this particular class of work. ‘
– And free from conflicting interests.
– Yes, as far as possible. The Bill provides that if any member of the Board is pecuniarily interested in any particular subject that comes up for discussion before it, he shall stand aside. I am hopeful that we shall obtain suitable men for the fee set out in the Bill.
– Some honorable members in the Ministerial corner would like to know whether’ the Board will have its headquarters in Canberra?.
– In due course, no doubt it will.
It is not necessary for me to deal further with the measure this afternoon. I hope that when the House proceeds to consider it, it will give the Government its fullest assistance. This class of legislation is new to. the Parliament, and the Government in putting it forward do not tie themselves to the absolute letter of it. If we can obtain any help in making it more perfect we shall be very glad.
.- I understand that it is the usual practice when a. Minister has moved the second reading of a Bill to move the adjournment of the debate, but all that I have to say can be said. at. once.
– It would not be fair to the House for the honorable member to debate the Bill at this stage. He should move the adjournment of the- debate.
– I do not intend to move the adjournment of the debate. This Bill was circulated only a few minutes ago, and the brief examination that I have been able to make of it satisfies me that ‘ I can say all that I want to say with regard to it before the debate is adjourned. My view is that the Bill should go into- the “waste-paper basket and stop there for ever. It is designated a Bill for the appointment of a Tariff Board, but all it proposes to do is to resurrect the defunct and useless InterState Commission. It proposes to establish a number of gentlemen in new positions, ta build up around them a large staff, and to create a number of highly-paid offices. The members of the Board are each to receive £5 5s. per day ; and, since there are 365 days in the year, they will make a very fine thing out of it.
– But : the honorable member would not have them work on Sundays?
– If the Board looks after its own interests while looking after the interest of the public as well, it will sit every day in the year and receive £5 5s. per day. It is declared in the Bill that members of the Board may be suspended, but may thereafter be restored to office, and that after the Board has made inquiry into certain matters, called witnesses, and involved the country in an expenditure of thousands of pounds, it is to’ report to the Minister. How is the Minister going to act when he receives the annual report of the Board? As a matter of fact he could act just as effectively without the assistance of this Board. It will be a mere encumbrance. The measure provides for a passing over of Ministerial responsibility to an expensive and useless Board. After the Board has reported to the Minister its report may be emasculated.
– Quite so. Is it not absurd that we should provide that a body of gentlemen shall draw up a report embodying all their recommendations, and that if the Minister does not agree with them he may say that certain recommendations shall not be published? Of what good will an annual report be in such circumstances? What a farce it will be for the Board to go. to the expense of drawing up and printing a report after making exhaustive inquiries, if the Minister may say that that report, or portions of it, shall not be published. We shall have a repetition of what has occurred in connexion with the Inter-State Commission, which inquired into all sorts of things at a cost of thousands of pounds, and made reports that ended in nothing. There is no’ Ministerial responsibility recognised in this case. The Minister does not propose to do anything until the Board has . made investigations and reported. “Mr. Hector Lamond. - The honorable member would not substitute the Board for the Minister?
– Early in the Tariff debate the complaint was made that manufacturers or importers might take advantage of the Tariff to exploit the public, and we were told that in order to overcome that trouble the Minister would bring forward a Bill dealing with the dumping evil and another dealing with the exploitation cn the part of local manufacturers. The honorable gentleman told us that on complaint that a manufacturer had taken undue advantage of the protection afforded him by the Tariff - that his charges were unnecessarily high or that he was acting in restraint of trade to the detriment of the public - the Board would make inquiry and report. When that has been done, what will be the next step? Does the Bill provide any -machinery by which the Parliament may act? The machinery is to be provided by the officers’ of the Customs Department. Primarily, there must be a complaint or accusation, to deal with which a Board is to be established. If we are to deal with the evil at all there must be some authority with judicial power. Either that authority is to be the Minister. < r it is not to be the Minister. If it is to be the Minister, leave it to him and the officers of his own Department to make inquiries, and, when satisfied, to act. If we do not trust the Minister, or the Department, establish a Board and give it the judicial authority to put the law into action and ‘do all the things necessary to prevent the undue robbery of the public by an abuse of Hie benefits conferred by the Tariff. But to merely appoint a Board to inquire and report to an individual who may or may not act is only to create a number of new jobs to be filled by additional functionaries, increase expense, and do nothing effective. This proposal simply ends between wind and water, and it might as well be thrown into the waste-paper basket. I cannot believe that any honorable member who wishes anything effective to be done will waste time in discussing it. The resumption of the debate ought to be made an order of the day for this date six years hence.
Debate (on motion by Mr- Watt) adjourned.
Bill received from the Senate, and (on motion by Mr. Greene) read a first time.
In Committee of Ways and Means:
.- I move -
That the undermentioned duties of Customs be collected in accordance with the following provisions: -
freight free, or that by reason of the granting of rebates, refunds, or other allowances, the net amount of freight payable on goods exported to Australia, of a class or kind produced or manufactured in Australia, is lower than the rates of freight prevailing at the date of shipment, and that in any such case detriment may thereby result to an Australian industry - a dumping freight duty on those goods imported into Australia which are specified by the Minister by notice published in the Gazette as being goods as to which he is so satisfied, the amount of the dumping freight duty being 5 per centum of the fair market value of the goods at the time of shipment.
Tariff for the time being in force; and
The special duty provided by paragraph (e) of this resolution shall be calculated as follows : -
If the bank rate of exchange between London and the country of export or origin at the date of export is greater than 25.22 (par) but is less than 30.00 no special duty shall be chargeable; and
If the bank-rate of exchange between London and the country of export or origin at the date of export is greater than 20.43 (par) but is less than 25 no special duty shall be chargeable ; and
The Bill, which will contain certain administrative clauses, must he precededby a. formal resolution in Committee of Ways and Means, because this is in itself a taxation measure. There are two main provisions in the resolution, one referring to dumping, and the other to exchange and the difficulties that arise out of it. Dumping, as it is generally understood, may be defined as the _ sale of imported goods at either less than the prevailing market price of such goods in the country of production or actually below the cost of production. There are two methods of dumping. The first is to sell the goods at a lower price than’ the price at which they are sold in the country of origin, q and the other is to sell the goods below the actual cost of production. I shall sketch briefly the history of anti-dumping legislation throughout the world, in order to explain why we ate introducing this new law notwithstanding that there is already an Act on the statutebook which deals with dumping. The first country to pass anti-dumping provisions in its Customs laws’ was Canada, which in 1904 passed a measure covering goods which were sold in the Dominion at prices lower than the prevailing market price in the country of origin. The principal Canadian difficulty was in respect of goods imported from the United States of America, and the operation of that special law was made a purely administrative” matter. That is to say, when the Customs authorities were satisfied that goods were being sold in Canada at prices lower than the market price of the same goods in the country whence they came, the Department «had power to impose an additional duty, being the difference between the prices in Canada and -the prices in the country of origin, provided such additional duty did not exceed 15 per cent, of the value of. such goods. That was the definite limitation ultimately placed upon the administrative authority. . In 1906, Australia followed with’ an Act with which I shall deal later, explaining why it has never been operative, and why, in all probability it never will be. South Africa followed in 1914 with a Bill on the Canadian model, again leaving the power of imposing the additional duties with the administrative” authority. America, although it already had some provision dealing with certain phases of dumping, passed the first comprehensive law on the subject in 1916, the Act largely following the Australian method. This year the United States of America abandoned the 1916 law, and passed a new Bill framed on the Canadian model, placing the power in the hands of the administrative authority. England followed suit this year, and the memorandum which has been distributed to honorable members in explanation of portion of this Bill includes a summary of the Imperial legislation. The Canadian law of 1904 applied only to goods which were being sold in Canada at a price lower than that at which the same goods were being sold in the country of production. In 1907, the Dominion extended the law to consigned goods. There is, of course, a difference between goods sold straight out on invoice and goods imported on consignment and sold subsequently, but in both ways goods can be dumped. This year Canada took a still further step in order to deal with goods sold below the cost of production, notwithstanding that the market price of the goods in the country whence they came might be lower. The Canadians, in their last legislation, have covered that aspect- of dumping where goods are sold below the actual cost of production. The provisions we are introducing to-day are following the Canadian model, inasmuch as they are made effective by administrative act, and by covering all three phases of dumping, namely, goods sold to Australia at a lower price than the market price in the country of production, goods consigned to and finally sold in Australia at a lower price than the price in the country of production, and goods sold in Australia at a lower price than the cost of production.
– If a company which is manufacturing goods in a foreign country has established a branch business in Australia, and charges up its goods at the manufacturing cost, will the duty be based on the price payable for the goods in that foreign country?
– The honorable member is referring to inter-house dealings. The cost of the article will be the wholesale price in the country whence it comes, and, in. accordance with that price, the officers of the Customs Department would take action should it become necessary to do so.
– Does the Minister mean the price at the actual place of production or the price at the port of export ? .
– The market price with which the Australian price will be compared will be that in the country where the goods are produced ; that is to say, the country of origin.
– I call attention to the state of. the Committee. [Quorum formed.”]
– In the memorandum honorable members have before them, they will find certain provisions enacted by the Canadian Parliament for dealing with the exchange question, but we have not followed the method’ adopted by Canada in this respect, for reasons which I shall endeavour to explain later. The American Act of 1916, which followed the Australian model in our antidumping legislation, has, as’ I have already said, been abandoned, and I have not the slightest doubt as to the reason for this.In fact, the report of the Tariff Board in America on anti-dumping legislation reveals quite clearly why America abandoned the method laid down in their 1916 Act, and also incidentally the weakness of our own law. The Australian Act of 1906, containing provisions against dumping, is called “ An Act for the preservation of Australian industries and the repression of destructive monopolies.” That measure set out to do a great deal, but, briefly, it relied upon a legal process. Before dumping could be proved the ComptrollerGeneral had to establish before a Justice of the High Court that goods were being imported and sold at a low price with intent to destroy or injure an Australian industry. It is almost impossible to prove that goods are being sold at a low price with intent to destroy an Australian industry.
– The action is equally objectionable if there be no such intent.
– Exactly. From the dumping point of view, the danger to an Australian industry is just as great whether there is an “intent.” to destroy or whether incidentally there is destruction without that “ intent.” Of course, the result has been that no action has ever been taken under the Australian Industries Preservation Act in relation to dumping.
– Why not?
– -For the simple reason that it is impossible, or, at any rate, nearly impossible, to prove intent. No serious effort has ever been made to do so. One or two half-hearted attempts have been made, but when the officers of the Customs Department came up against the actual technical and legal difficulties in regard to proving intent’ to destroy, or in- jure the. cases were dropped. It is unnecessary for me to quote- from the Act. Honorable members will find for themselves in the Act of 1906 the provisions requiring the Comptroller-General first to satisfy himself that there is an intent to destroy an Australian industry, and then to prove before a Justice of the High’ Court that that intent exists. He has never attempted to do it, for the best of possible reasons - that I do not suppose it’ would have been possible for him to prove this.
The Canadian Act of 1904*7 has been a success, and the legislation we are now submitting follows the general lines of that measure. The American Act was originally put through in the emergency Tariff of May of this year, and is nowbeing embodied in the permanent Tariff. The United States Tariff Commission has published, for the Committee of Ways and Means of the American House of Representatives, a pamphlet containing information concerning dumping and. unfair competition in the United States and Canada’s anti-dumping law; and, largely as the result of this report, the American Legislature adopted its recent legislation. On page 29 ,of their report the Commissioners say -
Canadian Clause a Check on Dumping rather than a Source of Revenue.
As evidence that the anti-dumping clause serves as a check on dumping rather than as a revenue producer, Canadian Customs officials . point to the -following table, which shows that, in the eleven years from 1907 to 1918, inclusive, the ‘Canadian dumping duties have averaged less, .than one-tenth of 1 per cent, of the total duties collected.
Total duties and dumping duties - a comparison of latter to former collected on articles shipped to Canada, fiscal year ending 31st March: -
So far, the experience .of Canada supports the conclusion that the Canadian clause, in the main, ‘has achieved its purpose.
That is the definite finding of the United States Tariff Commission after a very careful investigation of the anti-dumping laws of the British Dominions. As I have already said, the application of the provisions of the Canadian law is administrative, and not through any legal process, and we have followed that principle, the only difference we are making being that in every case the Minister must _ proceed after a report by the Tariff Board.
– Has the Minister copied the definition of “reasonable price” from- the Canadian or any other’ legislation?
– I cannot say for the moment whether it is Canadian or not, but the purpose is to ascertain a reasonable price in order to arrive at the cost of. production. The dumping duty is to be the difference between the cost of production and the price at which goods are sold, and we must, therefore, arrive at what is a reasonable cost of production in the country of origin.
– Could we not- ascertain the actual cost of production 1
– It is because we cannot do so that we must lay down something upon which we can base this definition. The whole object of ‘the provision is, where goods are being sold at less than the cost of production, to impose a duty which will bring them up to the cost of production. We do not want goods sold here at lower than their cost of production, thus imperilling our own industries.
– But the resolution says, “ less than a .reasonable price,” and not “ below the cost of production.”
– I admit that there are all sorts of difficulties in connexion with the matter. When certain legal obligations are imposed we must have a means of arriving at what is a reasonable price, and we have laid down the means of doing so. There may be cause -for varying the method or for objecting to it, but that is a matter we can discuss when we come to it. -‘ ,
– Is there any reference to the economic conditions existing in any country ?
– No. Putting aside ‘for the moment the exchange position, we may divide dumping into- two kinds. The first is organized and, deliberate dumping with a view to crushing a rival industry out of existence. I do not suppose there is an honorable member who disagrees with the proposition that we ought to protect Australian industry from dumping of that kind - deliberate and intentional dumping with a view to killing an opponent so as to leave a clear field.
– What is to be done, say, in the case of Germany, which subsidizes its ships for the carriage of cement?
– The Bill covers subsidized and ballast freights, which is not so in the case of the Canadian Act, so far a3 I am able to learn. It .will also be found that the various dumping duties, putting aside exchange dumping for the moment, are cumulative in their effect; they may all be levied if necessary, but altogether, or severally, they may.not exceed 15 per cent. Whether that is enough is a matter of opinion; if honorable members think that the limit ought to be raised, I have no particular feeling in the matter; I adopted that limit because it is provided in the Canadian Act; and, so far as I know, ithas been found effective.
Now we come to the other kind of dumping, which is generally practised with the object of clearing stocks; it is promiscuous dumping, with no deliberate intention, perhaps, except tha.t of getting rid of surplus goods.
– It is temporary.
– Quite so. Some people may hold the view that the’ consumer should get the benefit of any cheap goods coming into the market under such conditions. I doubt, however, whether the consumer does benefit. In most cases, I believe, it is the importer who. benefits, and it is at him the benefit stops. An importer may buy a very cheap line, an’d get rid of it at slightly under the ruling market price; but, generally speaking, I venture to say he raises the price of such goods to the existing market level, and. puts the difference into ‘his own pocket, leaving the community without any benefit.
– According to, that, if the importer charges the market price he does not wreck Australian industry.
– But the point is that this merchant does not buy Australianproduced goods, but other .goods, which displace Australian goods that otherwise would he bought. , i, - «
– It cuts into our demand.
– Quite so; and, consequently, Australian industry suffers; the home market suffers, and the producer suffers, and I do not believe there is any great compensating advantage to the community. That is why I think Australian industry .should be preserved from this particular class of dumping, just as it ought to be preserved from the deliberate dumping of which I previously spoke. I have said that our resolutions cover the whole ground covered by the Canadian Acts - goods sold below homeconsumption price, goods sold below the cost of production, and goods consigned and eventually sold both below homeconsumption price and below the cost of production. Provisions will also be found, as indicated, by me, covering .subsidized, and ballast freights. If unfair competition, detrimental to ‘Australian industry, arises from any of these causes, the Minister must ask the Board to report, and on the report by the Board the Minister acts. It does not necessarily mean that the Minister must follow the report of the Tariff Board, but he must get a report before he acts.
– The question is whether it is for the Board or the Minister to determine.
– It is for the Minister to determine.
– But who has to be satisfied?
– The Minister must be satisfied. Under the old Act we had to prove intent, and that is rather different from a provision that the Minister must be satisfied.
Now I come to the exchange provisions, which are, perhaps, the most difficult part of the Bill, and I ask the attention of the Committee while I endeavour to cover the ground as briefly as possible. There are some people who hold the view that there is no advantage whatever derived from the depreciation of exchange when a coun-try with depreciated currency comes ..to sell its goods in the markets of the world. I have met quite a number of people who hold the view that the full extent of ‘the depreciation is necessarily reflected in the increased cost of manufacture, and, consequently, that there is no advantage of any kind when a country with a depre- elated exchange sells its goods in the open - markets of the world.
– Nonsense !
– I think it is nonsense, but I have met quite a number who hold that opinion, including some whom the honorable member knows and respects very’ highly.
– I know one, and he is mistaken. ,
– I have talked with all sorts of people, and endeavoured to get at the truth. It is a very difficult question, and I do not attempt to dogmatize in any way; all I can do is to state what are the broad, general conclusions which I have formed. I am confident that some part - some part - of the depreciated exchange must De reflected in the increased cost of production, but the difficulty, of course, is to determine how much. Probably the best evidence I can give to the Committee as to the advantage that is derived from a depreciated exchange, when a country comes to sell its. goods in the markets of the world, is from the lips of the German Chancellor (Dr. Wirth), as reported in the cable message published in the Times; of 1st July, and subsequently re-printed in the Melbourne Herald. It is a report of the debate in the Reichstag on the 31st May, when the German Chancellor spoke cf the economic programme for “meeting the terms of the Allies’ ultimatum, and in the course of his address . he said -
The difference in the value of exchange must be exploited to the utmost.
I feel confident that if the German Chancellor, and the German people, had not recognised that there is a material advantage in their exchange position he would never have uttered those words.
Almost every country in the world, in some form or another, is trying to deal with this problem of exceeding and peculiar difficulty. In the memorandum I have ^circulated amongst honorable members, will be found the proposals of Canada, and I am going to say directly why I did not follow those proposals. It will be seen that there is., a provision in the new Canadian law which’ ‘the Minister for Finance of Canada mentioned in his Budget speech in these words -
A further change should also’ be made having regard to the valuation of goods imported from foreign countries ‘ whose currencies have greatly depreciated. Under the law, valuations are made in the currency of the country of export, and this value has under Customs ruling been adjusted to the basis of the exchange prices. The increased cost of production in the foreign market does not,however, bear a direct inverse relation to the extent of the depreciation of the currency, more particularly so having regard to the countries where currencies are depreciated to a greater extent than 50 per cent. It is, therefore, proposed- to provide that any depreciation of a foreign currency greater than 50 per cent. shall be disregarded, and that the lowest valuation which can be made will be arrived at by a depreciation of 50 per cent.
I shall endeavour to explain what that means, as far as I am able to understandit. The Canadian Act provides -
Notwithstanding any of the provisions of this section, in computing the value for duty of the currency of an invoice, no reduction shall be allowed in excess of 50 per cent. of the value of the standard or proclaimed currency of the. country from whence the goods are invoiced to Canada, irrespective of the rate of exchange existing between such country and Canada on date of the shipment of the goods, and in respect of goods shipped to Canada from a country where the rate of exchange is adverse to Canada. The value for duty of the currency of the invoice shall be computed at the rate of exchange’ existing between such country and Canada at the date of theshipment of the goods.
– Does that mean that the mark is treated as, apparently, 30 to the sterling?
– I think thatif, under the ruling commercial exchange rate, the mark is worth about “2 cents in Canada, while, at par rate of exchange, the mark is worth 24 cents, as they may not allow for more than a depreciation of 50 per cent., it means that the mark is worth 12 cents when it comes to valuing goods for duty. That is to say, supposing an invoice comes into Canada for $100 converted at the current rate of exchange, and that the mark is worth 2 cents at current rates, and only 50 per cent. depreciation is allowed, the value for duty being 12 cents, instead of 2 cents, the value of the’ invoice for duty purposes would’ be $600 instead of $100.
– The duty is increased by 600 per cent.?
-The invoice is multiplied by six, and then the ad valorem duty is struck on that increased value for duty. America set out to do the same thing, but her law provided that a greater depreciation than 662/3 per cent. was not to be allowed for, and she has abandoned that method because of the reasons for which we decided not to adopt the Canadian method. Let me now direct attention to the method which Great Britain is adopting. It is set out in the memorandum with which I have provided members. The full text is -
There shall be charged on any of the following articles imported into Great Britain or Ireland, in addition to any other duty of Customs chargeable thereon, a Customs duty of an amount equal to 33.1-3rd per cent. of the value of the article, that is to say: -
Articles of any class or description in respect of which an order by the Board of Trade has been made under any Act of the present session for giving effect to this resolution, if manufactured in whole or in part in any of the countries specified in the order, or deemed to be so manufactured.
Any such order as aforesaid may be made on the ground that articles of the class or description in question are being sold or offered for sale in the United Kingdom - (a) at prices below the production thereof ; or
at prices which, by reason of depreciation in the value in relation to sterling of the currency of the country’ in which the goods are manufactured, are below the prices at which similar goods can be profitably manufactured in the United Kingdom’, and that by reason thereof employment in any industry in the United Kingdom is being, or is likely to be, seriously affected.
For the’ purposes of this resolution, “ cost of production “ in relation to goods of any class or description means the current sterling equivalent of -
the wholesale price at the works charged for goods of the class or description for consumption . in the country of manufacture; or
if no such goods are sold for consumption in that country, the price which, having regard to the prices charged for goods as near ‘as may be similar when so sold, or when sold for exportation to other . countries, would be’ so charged if the goods were sold in that country.
These are the reasons why we have not adopted either the Canadian or the British method. We feel that, in many cases, the Canadian method imposes absolute prohibition, and it would be impossible in some circumstances to trade under it at all. On the other hand, the English method is too rigid, providingin some cases for too much, and in other cases for too little.
– But it is at least specific, and enables dumping to be identified.
– Yes; there can be no doubt in the minds of the trading community as to what they will have to pay.
The Canadian method is also definite. I shall show how we propose to make our method definite, and at the same time to allow for the rise and fall in the rate of exchange, fixing different rates of duty in different sets of circumstances, and yet definite as far as possible, so that the commercial man may know approximately his position. I have already given in brief the reason why we did not adopt the Canadian method. When the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt) interjected regarding its effect, I pointed out that it required that the value upon which duty was levied, converted at the current rate of exchange, must be multiplied approximately by six. It would really have to be multiplied by a greater number, because, at the present time, the mark is worth in Canadian currency only 1.6 cents;but, for the sake of this argument,I have taken its value at 2 cents. Presuming that my interpretation of the Canadian method is right - and I have consulted gentlemen, whom I . think are in a position toadvise me as to its operation, and their interpretation of it agrees with mine - if the invoice price of goods converted at the current rate of exchange were $100, and the rate of duty 10 per cent. , the value on which that rate would be levied would be $600, and the total bill that would have to be paid by the importer would be $160. If the rate of duty were 20 per cent., the total bill that the importer would have to pay would be $220.
– That would be the amount of the duty plus the value of the goods as. shown on the invoice?’
– Yes; the duty coming to $120. If the rate of duty were 25 per. cent., the importer would have to pay $250. If the rate of duty were 50 per cent. - and Canada has a number of items on which she charges this rate,i and even higher rates-
– And so has Australia.
-I think that the Canadian duty on textiles goes up to75 per cent. Under the Canadian method, if the rate of duty were 50 per cent., an importer would have to pay $400 for goods invoiced at $100, of which $300 would be duty. To my mind, the Canadian method attacks the problem from the wrong angle, because everything depends upon the rate of duty that applies. What we are aiming at is equali zation of the advantages derived by a country whose exchange is depreciated exporting its goods, but under the Canadian method you get a much higher duty with a highrate of duty, and the chances are that the results are the opposite from those that are sought for. The manufacture which it might be most necessary to protect, so far as the exchange advantage is concerned, might be that to which the 10 per cent. duty was applicable, and that least necessary to protect might be protected by the 50 per cent. rate. If honorable members will turn to the memorandum that I have placed in their hands, they will see there a table showing how duties will apply under different conditions. If the franc went to 300 to the£ 1 - it is nothing approaching that- the Australian importer would have to pay less under a rate of 25 per cent. duty, plus the 75 per cent. added duty for equalization of the exchanges, than the Canadian importer would have to pay under a rate of 20 per cent., after applying their method of. dealing with the exchange.
– What is the par value of the franc?
– 25.22 to the £1.
– Your system grades better than the Canadian?
– That is my contention. We did not adopt the English system, because I felt that it is too rigid, being probably too much in some cases and too little in others. Unfortunately, the British news files are not yet to hand; but on. the 17th June it was cabled to our newspapers that the statement had appeared in the London Times that fears were expressed that the duties provided for under the English method were, in some cases, much too low. I agree, as I have already said, that these duties must be sufficiently definite for the trading com- munity to know how it stands. Under the Canadian method it knows exactly how it stands; merchants being able to. calculate exactly what they will have to pay. It is the samewith the English system. We have also followed the English Act in one other important particular in which it differs from the Canadian provision. The Canadian provision applies to all goods coming from a country with a depreciated exchange, whereas we propose to apply this provision to only specific goods. Once it is so applied it will apply to those goods coming from all countries with a, depreciated exchange.
– Do the Government propose to specify the-goods by proclamationin the Gazette?
– By proclamation.
– Who will decide what goods shall be specified ? .
– Tlie Minister, on receipt of a report from the -Tariff Board, will do so. If the question arises the Minister is to refer it to the Tariff Board for report. It does not necessarily follow that he must give effect to the report of the Board; but if he is wise- he will not depart from it more often than is necessary, and, generally speaking, I think he will be able to follow its recommendations. When the Minister has received a recommendation from the Board he will proceed to act by proclaiming the .particular goods. Suppose for the sake of argument that the goods in question were merchant bars - that is, steel and iron - he would proclaim merchant bars, under this measure, from countries with a depreciated exchange, and then the provisions of the law would apply. If merchant bars were coming from Germany, France, or Belgium, and the Minister was satisfied that those importations, owing to the exchange position, jeopardized an Australian industry, he would proclaim them, and then, in addition to any existing .duties, the duties laid down in the schedule to these resolutions would apply.. If, say, the exchange position was that between France and London the franc was worth 50, that between Antwerp and London it was worth 60, and that between London and Berlin the mark was worth 120, all that the buyer of “proclaimed” goods A from any of those countries would have to’ do in order. to ascertain what additional duty, he had to pay would be to turn up the schedule -to these resolutions, just as he has to refer to the Tariff schedule when he is making purchases abroad. He would glance down the outside column of “the schedule at the end of these resolutions, and if, say, he were buying from -France, with the franc at 50, h© would see opposite 50 the figures’ 30, and would know at once that he would have to pay. 30 per . cent. in addition to the ordinary Tariff duty whatever it might be.
– That is so, so far as the exchange position is concerned. But supposing he was hit also by another special. duty, presuming those goods to be purchased in the country of origin, and-
– That would be a second dumping duty. It is impossible to tell the commercial community what is going to happen in regard to the dumping duty.
– That uncertainty will tend to restrict a good deal of such business.
– Ifr is the- very uncertainty which results from buying when there is a dumping duty imposed that makes dumping almost impossible. Theexperience of Canada is that owing to the existence of its dumping duties, and the way in which they are administered, people abroad do not sell dumped goods to Canada. The net result is that it is not easy to dump. A commercial man asks himself what is the use of buying specially cheap goods in- such circumstances in view of the risk involved.
– But does not that, uncertainty interfere with the legitimate purchasing of goods ^
– I do not think so. What I was about to point out was that, in regard to the exchange position in the main, commercial men will know where they are. We cannot cover in the same way the other class of dumping to which the honorable member for Balaclava- (Mr. Watt) alluded, but in regard to the exchange we can show in advance what the additional duty will be.
– ‘The only trouble is that it will depend upon the date on which the Department bases its calculations. Goods might be shipped, say, from Antwerp. in May and not arrive here until July. On what date would the Department base its calculation?
– I think we are obliged to calculate it as on the date of invoice. That is to say, a man who is buying goods in a country with a depreciated exchange knows what is the rate of exchange at the time he buys. Consequently, if the franc was at 50 in the case of France, all that an importer’ would” have to do in respect of proclaimed goods would be to look at the schedule at the back of - these resolutions in. order to ascertain what additional rate of duty he had to pay. ‘ He would find the figures 30 set opposite the figures 50, and would know that he would have to ‘pay an additional 30 per cent. If the franc were worth. 60 at Belgium, he would look up the figures 60, and would see opposite the figures 36, and would know that he would have to pay an additional duty of 36 per cent. If we were buying in Germany, and the mark was at 120, he would see by reference to this schedule that he would have to .pay an additional duty of 61-&, per cent.
– Are we to conclude, then, that the Government are going to allow goods to come in from Germany?
– That matter is on “the knees of the gods.” I say nothing with regard to it, but that we have made provision for it in this schedule.
I” am going to try to tell honorable members as precisely as I can how this schedule is drawn up, the principles upon which it is based, and, roughly, how we arrive at our calculations. When I was speaking on this question in the House some little time ago, I said. that I believed there were three main causes for the exchange position as we find it in the world to-day. The first is the definite depreciation of the currencies “of the various countries. That is one of the ‘ great reasons. Then there is the balance of the exchanges coupled with the embargo on the” movements of gold. That is another of the main causes of the exchange position. The third is the lack of confidence. We have a number of incidents in quite recent times when, owing to some international movement, there have been rapid movements of the exchange, either up or down.
– There is another, important although not a governing, factor, and that is the disorganization of the producing and exchange machinery of Europe.
– That, I think, is included in the second reason I gave - the balance of the exchanges coupled with the embargo on the movements of gold. I’ mention these reasons again, to-day, .because whilst. I believe that a great part of the depreciation of the currency itself is necessarily reflected in the increased cost of manufacture in the country of production with, a depreciated currency, I do not believe that the hist two causes are so reflected. I believe that they entirely arise from international considerations which are not necessarily reflected’ in the cost of production in the country itself. For instance, when a little while ago, the lira in Italy moved 20 points in something like forty-eight hours, that movement did . not add anything to the increased cost of production in Italy. It did not affect the cost of production there at all; but it did materially affect the international exchange position. The difficulty with which one is confronted is to arrive at what is a fair amount to allow for these increased costs of production which must be reflected in the invoice cost of goods coming- from countries with a depreciated exchange. I think that we have to divide the goods which come from those countries into, roughly speaking, two classes- (1) ‘goods which are manufactured entirely, or almost entirely, from raw material, the product of the country with a depreciated .exchange; and (2) goods which are manufactured from raw materials which are bought in the markets of the world under those depreciated exchange conditions . I believe that there is a vast difference between these two classes, and that whilst there is a very material advantage in regard to those goods which , are manufactured from the raw product found almost entirely within their own borders,’ there is nothing like the same advantage in the case of goods, the raw materials used in which have, been purchased from outside. That, I think, is an additional reason why we should not make the application of this law general in its character, and why we should retain the power to declare specified ..goods, since this class of competition will arise mainly, if not entirely, from goods which are the produce of raw material found in the country with a depreciated currency, from which those goods aTe coming.
– Wool going from here to France, made up there into woollens, and returned to Australia would furnish a* case in point.
– No; woollen goods made under these conditions would be an example of the direct opposite of the point which I was putting to the Committee. . _ But ‘ in, say, the case of iron and steel. the product of a country’s own mines -and iron works,and manufactured witE” that country’s own coal, we have an example of -goods, which are manufactured almost entirely from the raw material - produced in the country from which those goods are sent out.
– Does the Minister intend to gazette, after consideration of these differences between the two kinds of dumps? Does he intend to discover what goods are made from raw materials obtained within the country without importation ?
– I think competition would arise from goods coming under that class, and , consequently they would be proclaimed. I do not think it would arise from goods of the other class, made from raw material purchased outside, and consequently those goods would not be declared. I say quite frankly that one is more or less guessing in this matter, and should we be wrong-
– Take the case of buying hides in Australia, and converting them into leather in Germany with the present relatively low prices of labour. It might be necessary to proclaim some such lines.
– It might be; but seeing that Germany would have to pay, perhaps, 260 marks for every £l worth of hides that she had purchased in our market, I do not think it is very likely that competition of that kind would arise in regard to leather. It might, and if it does here is the machinery, and we shall have to apply the same rate of duty as we apply to anything else.
I shall explain to the Committee the lines upon which the schedule to this resolution has been framed. We have assumed certain things. I do not profess to know whether those assumptions are right or wrong. I have found it impossible to get’ any good and sufficient data upon which to base’ my conclusions. We have cabled to England’ and America, and have sought information from every possible source in order to find out precisely the cost of manufacture of certain classes of goods as expressed in terms of the currency of different countries. One would have thought that that was a simple thing to do, but the last advice I had from England was’ that the . same question had been asked in the House of Commons, and had not been answered. The only definite information I could get was that in organized trades the cost of wages had risen in line with the increase in the costof living; but in unorganized trades wages had not risen in that proportion. I shall quote some figures showing the comparative rises in the cost of living in different countries up to the year 1920. Since then it has fallen in a number of countries, more or less, but those figures will give some indication of the position, and I think I shall be able to show that the cost of living has not risen in proportion to the depreciation in the exchange . That is to say, the difference between the relative value of the sovereign, the mark, and the franc is greater proportionately than the relative rise in the cost of living in those countries compared with England.
– What is required is information as to whether wages show a rise corresponding to the fall in currency.
– I said that I have not been able to get definite figures, but was told that wages had risen in organized trades in accordance with the increase in the cost of living.
– That is a very rough statement.
– I admit that, but it isthe best information I could get.
– Wages have risen in proportion to the cost of living in a number of trades in Australia, and in a great number of others they have not.
– I think I can show that the relative cost of living between England and France, between England and Belgium, and between England and Germany, has not risen in the same ratio as the exchange rate between those countries has fallen. And that is the proof that there is an advantage in manufacturing inFrance, Belgium,and Germany as against Great Britain and Australia. The assumptions upon which this schedule have been based are as follows: - (1) That the increased cost of production must be expressed in the invoice value of the goods coming from a country whose exchange is depreciated.
– Because there is no other way.
– It is assumed that the goods- must cost more to produce as expressed in the depreciated currency of the country of origin.
– That is a rough guide.
– I say nothing as to the extent of the increased cost; but that cost must be expressed to a greater or lesser extent in the invoice value.
It is upon those four assumptions that this schedule has been prepared, and I have set out in a printed memorandum for the information of honorable members illustrations of exactly what will happen, and how the results will be arrived at. In regard to the relative increase in the cost of living, taking 1914 at 100, the weighted averages for 1920 are as follows: -
From those figures it will be seen, if compared with the ruling rate of exchange, that whilst the exchange rate between Britain and France to-day” is, roughly, as 1 is to 2, the increase in the cost of living is as 1 is to1½. And whilst therate of exchange as between England and Germany is as1 is to 13, the cost of living is, approximately, as 1 is to 4½ .
– If the Minister is testing the relative rise in the cost of living as between England and Germany, it is as 1 is to 6¼.
– That is immaterial to my argument.
– Suppose you take the currency values in the two countries in the ratio of 1 to 13, and the cost of living in the ratio of 1 to 6, what is the deduction ?
– As we are told that the wage rate has risen approximately in proportion to the increase in the cost of living, we can substitute the wage rate for the cost of living and thus arrive at the relative costs of production. Taking the relative values of British and German currency to be in the ratio of1 to 13, and the relative rises in the cost of production in the ratio of 1 to 6¼, we can get an approximate idea of the advantage which Germany gets in selling her goods under existing exchange conditions. As currency depreciates a greater relative increase is reflected in the cost of production when selling their goods. Applying that to this schedule, it will be seen that as the exchange depreciates we increase the rate of added duty by proportionately smaller steps.
– As you get to the top of the stairs the steps are shallower ?
– Did the Minister work out those figures ?
– No; I told the Statistician what I wanted, and gave him an illustration of what I thought should be done. He did it. He worked it out on some mathematical scale I do not profess to understand.
– It goes up almost regularly in steps of one and a-half .
– No. The added percentage is worked out in decimals - we could not go into fractions except in halves - and although the steps appear to be a little more regular than they would otherwise be, for that reason, nevertheless, there is a gradual diminution from the bottom to the top in the added rate of this duty. Honorable members will notice, from the illustration in the memorandum, that the actual bill which the importer will have to pay, in every case comes out approximately to £127 10s. If the invoice value in francs amounts to 2,,522, which is £100 at the par rate of exchange, the bill he pays is £127 10s.; but if the rate of exchange goes to 300 francs to the pound sterling, then the invoice value of the goods amounts to 18,216 francs and the actual bill the importer will have to pay with the 75 per cent. of additional duty will still be £127 10s. We consider that the difference of . 12,047 francs between the 18,216 francs for which the invoice for £100 worth of goods would be made out with the rate of exchange at 300, and 30,264 francs for which it would be made out if the whole of the increased cost of production were reflected in the invoice value - that is to say, the importer would have to pay 30,264 francs to get £100 worth of goods -expresses the advantage which he gets from the rate of exchange, and which is not reflected in the increased cost of production. I. am not saying it is so; I am simply saying that is what we presume would be about the position. The same applies, of course, to the mark.In the course of debate I may be able to explain more clearly what is in our minds. In the meantime, I leave the matter with the general statement that it is proposed to take power to proclaim any other country than those provided for in the schedule in like proportions.
I cannot say whether the provision we have made is adequate, but I think it is. I do not think that it will prohibit trade ; I think it will allow trade to go on; but I, believe that it will effectively meet the advantage which importers get from exchange. However, no one can dogmatize upon this matter ; and all I ask the Committee to do is to give me the best possible assistance they can, because I shall be only too glad to listen to what honorable members have to say upon the subject.
– Will this resolution be embodied in a Bill which we shall have the right to amend?
– Once the Committee of Ways and Means has agreed to a resolution of this character which is embodied in a Bill, honorable members cannot materially alter it. Consequently the Committee ought, to proceed to discuss this resolution and finish it off. Then it will be embodied in a Bill with the addition of a few small administrative clauses to give effect to it, and the schedule to the resolution will become the scheduleto the. Bill..
In Committee of Ways and Means:
Consideration resumed from 5th July (vide page 9673). ‘ division xvi. - miscellaneous.
Item 376 -
Bags and purses, n.e.i., wallets, . baskets, boxes, cases, or trunks, with or without fittings, viz.: -
Fancy, other than of metal or glass; hand; jewel, other than of metal or glass; trinket, other than of metal or glass; sporting; travelling, other than of metal; picnic; toilet; dressing; glove; handkerchief; collar; work; satchels; reticules; valises; companions, ad val., British, 35 per cent.; intermediate, 40 per cent!; general, 50 per cent.; or a duty on any article mentioned in this subitem not subject to the rate under the British Preferential Tariff of each, intermediate,1s.; general,1s. 6d., whichever rate returns the higher duty.
Jewel, trinket, and other fancy boxes, of metal or . glass, ad val., British, 35 per cent.; intermediate, 40 per cent.; general, 50 per cent.
Fancy Boxes, containing free goods or goods subject to a specific rate, ad val., British, 35 per cent.; intermediate, 40 per cent.; general, 50 per cent.
Fancy boxes, containing goods subject to duty ad val. to be dutiable at the same rate as the goods.
.- In view of the duties placed upon the raw material used in the manufacture of jewel cases made in Australia, I would like the Minister to consider a suggestion for an increase in the duty upon these cases, which are now suffering competition from Japan, where no duty is paid on the raw material. These jewel cases are given away with purchased jewellery, and nearly every article used in making them,, with the exception of the hinges, which are admitted free from the United Kingdom and onpayment of a duty of 10 per cent. from other countries, is subject to the payment of a high rate of duty. For example, the duty on ‘ the velveteen , which is used in making them ranges from 15 to 30 per cent. Will the Minister consent to a slight increase of duties on these articles which are made here, which haveto compete with Japanese manufactures? It is true that, according to the Tariff, there is a duty of 50 per cent. against the foreigner,’ but we have to remember that the Australian makers of these cases have to pay duties, in some cases amounting to 30 per cent., on most of the raw material they use. In my opinion, the duties ought to be 45 per cent., 55 per cent., and 60 per cent.
– I cannot consent to any increase in the duties.
– The Japanese competition is unfair, because Japan possesses almost the whole of the necessary raw material, and, under the circumstances, it will be seen that this apparent protection of 50 per cent. amounts, really, tono more than 15 per cent. or 20 per cent. There is a factory in Melbourne employing 100 hands ; and there is another factory in Sydney, so that we may suppose the industry provides employment for 400 or 500 people.
– I beg to call attention to the state of the Committee. [Quorum
Amendment (by Mr. Wise) proposed - That the following words be added to the item: - “And on and after 7th July, 1921, Bags, baskets, boxes, cases, trunks, purses, wallets, with or without fittings, viz.: -
Bags, hand (including ladies’ handbags and purse bags, except of metal), sporting, travelling; baskets, sporting, travelling, picnic; cases, toilet, dressing, travelling; trunks, travelling; companions, reticules, satchels, valises, ad val., British, 35 per cent.; intermediate, 40 per cent.; general, 50 per cent. Or aduty on any article mentioned in this sub-item not subject to the rate under the British preferential Tariffof-each, intermediate,1s. ; general,1s. 6d. ; whichever rate returns the higher duty.
.- I should, like the Minister in charge (Mr. Wise) to move a further amendment providing that violin cases, containing violins, shall come under sub-item b. There is a little factory in Victoria which can supply violin cases as they are needed, and from which the following deliveries have been made: - Manby Violin Patents Ltd., fifteen deliveries, valued at £100; Suttons Ltd, six, valued at £85 ;. A. E. Smith and Co., fifteen, valued at £600; and Allan and Co., seven, valued at £100. The Committee, I feel sure, will recognise that this is an industry which ought to be encouraged. These goods are being manufactured in Japan, and no word shall fall from me derogatory of that great nation, the inhabitants of which the good God has made a little different from us in the way of colour, but who played their part in the defence of Australia. The Japanese have followed the advice of Herbert Spencer, and we can follow their example and say that we will allow one Japanese to settle in Australia. for every Australian who settles in Japan. I re mind theMinister that we need increased revenue. A violin case, with a violin inside, is at present admitted absolutely free, whereas an empty case has to pay duty; and I see no common sense in the differentiation. The manufacturers of these cases are content with the rates of duty set down in the item, but. they maintain that no difference should be made between a case which is imported empty and one which is imported with aviolin.
– I am informed that all violins are imported in cases, and that, therefore, to put a duty on the cases would increase the duty on the violins, which the Minister for Trade and Customs thinks unreasonable.
.- I suggest the insertion of the following new sub-item : -
– I agree, to that, and ask leave to amend my amendment accordingly.
Amendment, by leave, amended accordingly, and agreed to.
Item 377 (Baskets), item 378 (Billiard balls), item 379 (Blankets for printing machines, &c), and item 380 (Brooms), agreed to.
Brushware and materialstheref or -
Tooth brushes, ad val., British, free; intermediate, 5 per cent.; general, 15 per cent.
Amendment (by Mr. Wise) proposed -
That after the words “ Tooth brushes “ the words “up to and including6th July, 1921,” be inserted.
.- I understand that it is proposed to make tooth brushes dutiable at a higher rate for the protection of local manufacturers, butthat these are merely importing the handles and the bristles and putting them together. There is no protection, however, for the manufacture of the bone handles of tooth brushes, which could easily be made here.
– When the Tariff was introduced, there was no evidence of the local manufacture of tooth brushes; but that has since been undertaken,both in Sydney and in Melbourne.
– The local manufacture is merely what I have described.
– It employs labour.
Mr.WATKINS . - . More labour would be employed if tooth-brush handles were made here. What is being done will not encourage the making of tooth-brush handles locally, but will mean the increasing of the price of tooth brushes.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 382 (Cameras, &c.) agreed to.
Photographic negatives, free.
– It has been represented to the Minister for Trade and Customs that the value of the importation of photograph negatives is increasing considerably. I should like to know if it is intendedtodo anything in thematter?
Mr.WISE(GippslandPostmasterGeneral) [5.58] . -I am informed thai the item previouslyread “ photographic dry plates and negatives,” and that, therefore, the statistics recorded covered both lines, and no information can be given of the quantity of photographic negatives im-. ported. There is a large local production, but thereason for exempting negatives from duty is that there is an appreciable trade with the adjacent islands, and, in any case, the importation can only result in providing workin Australia.
Item agreed to.
Items 384, (Lantern slides, &c.), 385 (Coke), . 386 (Copying apparatus), and 387 (Cordage, unserviceable, for paper manufacturing) agreed to.
Cordage, metal . . and on and after 1st January, 1921, ad val., British, 30 per cent.; intermediate, 40 per cent.; general, 45 per cent.
Amendment (by Mr. Wise) agreed to-
That the item be amended by omitting the . figures “1921,” and inserting the figures “1922.”
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item389 (Fishingandrabbit nets) agreed to.
Item 390 -
– The yarn and twine from which rabbit, fishing, and tennis netting are made is largely manufactured in Australia, and duringthe war- those industries that use such yarn and twine would havebeen very much at a lossif it had not been for the local manufacture. I ask the Minister to remove tennis netting from this sub-item, sothat theduty on. it may be increased. I desirethat such, netting shall be made of Australian twine, Ido not say that the local industry produces’ all the twine that is needed, but during the war it employed more hands and increased its. business. Now it has a lot of stock for which there is no demand.
– Is the raw material imported ?
– The hemp which is made into yarn andthen into twine is imported.
Mr. Wise.I do notthink that it is necessary to do whatisproposed.
.- I support the suggestion of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Mathews) ; but I should like tosee the words “rabbit and tennis netting” taken out of this sub-item. The Department would then getmore revenue . I know that by speaking an hour I cannotshake theMinister, who is like the rock at Gibraltar; but Ihope that he willconsider this request.
– I should like theMinister to recommit item 388,which pertainsto wire ropes for mining purposes and also wire cables such asare used in connexion with the Melbourne tramway system, and the manufacture of whichin this country has never been attempted. Will the Ministeragree to recommit the item?
Mr.Wise. - I askthe honorable membertoallow his request tostandover until Ihavehadan opportunity toconfer with my colleague (Mr. Greene).
– Very well.
Reaperand binder twineandyarn, per cwt., British, 6s.; intermediate, 7s.; general, 7s.
Mr.PROWSE (Swan) [6.7] . -Ihope thatthe Committeewill agree to a substantial reduction of thisduty.There seems tobe no justificationforincreasing the duty on binder twine. While we might agree to a fairly high duty under the General Tariff ourprimary producers should! not be further hampered by high duties under the British and Intermediate Tariffs. The Tariff of 1901-2 provided for a duty of only 5s. per cwt., while under the Tariff of 1914 duties of 6s. and 7s. per cwt. were imposed. ‘Much of the binder twine that we use is obtained from New Zealand, where the raw material is produced.
– We grow flax in Victoria.
– But not toa sufficient extent, and the binder twine used is not made from flax.
– And the. honorable member does not want to encourage its production here.
– I do; but I find that most of the encouragement given to secondary industries is at the expense of’ our primary industries. If the Committee is not prepared now to recognise the unfairness of imposing heavy burdens upon the primary producer, in order to foster, as it were, hot-house secondary industries of this class, it will do so later on. If black-labour conditions prevailed in New Zealand one could understand the desire to impose a high duty.
– The honorable member knows that most of our imports come from India.
– I do not; and what the honorable member says is probably incorrect. Last year Western Australia imported only 13 cwt. of binder twine from the United Kingdom, as against 2,627 cwt. from New Zealand, and 1,591 cwt. from other parts of the Commonwealth.
– Andwhatquantity fromIndia?
– None. We are asked to put an extra burden on the primary producer, but the product he binds with this twine is not protected. The primary (producers who, for instance, are supplying Melbourne with chaff are having a hard enough battle as it is, without having to pay more for this article. The price ruling for chaff to-day does not pay costs. I ask honorable members to realize that it is upon the primary production of this country that the success of our secondary industries depends. There will come a day of reckoning for those who support a high Tariff, unless steps are taken to ease the Tariff burden placed on. the farmers. Under the United States of America Tariff farming and agricultural implements are on the free list. The Minister (Mr. Greene) has again and again quoted the example of the United States of America in support of his high Tariff policy. Why is he not prepared to, follow its example in the matter of farming and agricultural implements? I move-
That the item be amended by adding the following : - “ And on and after 7th July, 1921, Reaper and Binder Twine, per cwt. British, 2s. 6d.; intermediate, 5s.; general, 7s.”
– I ask the Committee not to agree to this amendment, which provides for even a lower duty than that which prevailed under the Tariff of 1908. Under that Tariff we had a duty of 5s. per cwt., while under the Tariff of 1914 duties of 6s. and 7s. per cwt. were imposed. Those are the duties for which we are now providing. No increase is proposed. I am advised that local producers of binder twine are meeting practically the whole of the requirements of Australia, except with respect to a special quality of Russian flax twine.
– If flax and hemp are not primary products I askthe honorable member for Swan (Mr. Prowse) to say what is a primary product. That, I think, is an effective’ answer to his argument that the interests of primary producers are ignored in so far as this item is concerned. During the war the farmers would not have had anything like a sufficient supply of binder twine but for the localoutput.
Mr.prowse -butforimportsfrom New Zealand.
– The local production of. binder twine enormously increased during the war. Local manufacturers kept down their prices, although Calcutta merchants took advantage of their position, and robbed us right and left. Some of the importers did exactly the same. Flax has been cultivated on an extensive scale in the Drouin district for some years.. It should be our object to greatly extend its production in Australia. Hemp and flax crops would Be helpful to the small farmer. We are told that we are trying to ruin the, primary producer; my answer is that, but for the establishment of this industry in Australia before the war, our farmers, during the war period, would have been ruined. The price of ordinary sewing thread, not necessarily produced from the best of flax and hemp, increased during that period from about 8d. to 3s. 6d. per reel. We are not able to encourage the production of cotton here, but we can en- courage the production of hemp and flax. Primary producers should support this duty, which is designed to assist them to resist the demands of those who fought them during the war.
.- No reason has been advanced for increasing the duty on this item. It is all very well for the Minister to say that the same duty was in operation under the Tariff of 1914 , but that Tariff was not debated in this Parliament. With a duty of 5s. per cwt., under the Tariff of 1908, local manufacturers did remarkably well.
– And such a duty ought to be sufficient for them to-day.
– Yes. Importations have not been very heavy. The local manufacturers have the market, and I am afraid that, to a very great extent, they control it. It is for that reason that, in connexion with allthese matters, I desire that there shall be reasonable competition. It is only with fair competition that we can secure fair conditions from local manufacturers. If the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Prowse) will -withdraw his amendment I will move that the duties operating under the Tariff of 1908-11 shall apply.
– Very well, I will with- drawmy amendmen t.
– Then, I move-
That the item be amended by adding the following : - “ And on and after 7th July, 1921, per cwt.; British, 5s.; intermediate, 5s.; general, 5s.”
During the year 1920, the total imports into the Commonwealth were of the value of £17,279, of which £10,500 worth came from the United Kingdom, £6,776 worth from New Zealand, and only £3 worth - an odd lot - from South Africa. It will be seen that the total importations in that year were from countries within the
Empire. The importations for the five years 1915-16 to 1919-20, excepting 1916-17, when they reached a value of £43,720, averaged about £20,000 per annum, whilst in 1919-20 they totalled only £17,297. Therefore, this industry is on a commercial basis, and I can see no justification for placing an increased burden upon those who are compelled to use this article. The Minister has not vouchsafed any information as to why the duty provided in the 1911 Tariff has been increased.
– It is just as well to note that in 1913, which was the year before the 6s. duty was imposed, the value of the importations was £29,000, as against £17,000 last year. The importations were from the United Kingdom, New Zealand, the United States of America, and other countries. Evidently, it required the increase of the duty from5s. to 6s. to enable the local manufacturers to successfully compete with the manufacturers overseas.
– I hope that the duty provided in the schedule will be adhered to. Nobody can say that the slight increase in duty will mean an increase in the cost of binder twine to the consumer. Last year I paid 1s. 6d. per lb. for binder twine;will any honorable member say that that price was due to the duty ?
– What were the local manufacturers charging ?
– There was a slight shortage of binder twine last year, because the hay crop was larger than had been anticipated, and as soon as the importers discovered the shortage, the price, which was 8¾d. in August, was gradually increased to1s. 6d. per lb. There was no protest then from honorable members in thecorner,theimporters were allowed to bleed the farmers to the greatest possible extent. The local manufacturers had made their contracts at 8¾d. per lb., and had as many orders as they could fulfil; consequently, when the importers took advantage of the shortage I had to pay1s. 6d. per lb. in order to save my crop. What consideration had they for the primary producers? The high prices last year were due to our dependence on outside sources, instead of having all the twine made in Australia. If all our requirements of that article were locally supplied we could legislate to deal with ‘ anybody who endeavoured to obtain an unfair price, and thus the primary producer would be protected. To allow the local twine-making industry to be killed, and to allow importers to rig the price whenever there was a shortage, would be sheer /lunacy. Such “a policy is not favored by the farmers, and those to whom I related my experience last year considered the action of the importers a scandal. If I were again in a similar position, I would seriously consider leaving the hay uncut and harvest for grain rather than be bled by the importers. I hope honorable members will not object to such a duty as will allow the Aus-, tralian twine-making industry to live.
.- A communication I have received ‘ from Westralian Farmers Limited, a big cooperative concern, does not corroborate the statement of the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Cunningham).
– I asked the Cooperative Farmers Society of Victoria to supply me with twine, but, because I did not live in the Riverina, they refused my request.
– This letter from Western Australia says -
We desire to bring under your notice the present duty on New Zealand binder twine. The present schedule stands at 7s. per cwt., and, at the same time, there is a preferential Tariff ‘ on English twine of 6s. per cwt. This, organization has, for the last four years, imported its requirements in twine from New Zealand, lt was found that the New Zealand manufacturer was giving a much .superior article to the Australian-manufactured string, and, even with that very considerable impost of £7 per ton, we- have been in a position to command from, 86 to 90 per cent, of the binder twine business in this State.
It seems unreasonable to impose upon, a neighbouring Dominion, whose people have ideals and’ aspirations similar to our . own, such a heavy duty. They are. practically the same people as the people of the Commonwealth, but they were wise enough to remain out of the Federation. Honorable members and others seem desirous of framing a Tariff in the light of war conditions. I understood that the Labour party was entirely anti-military, and held the opinion that we should not plan out policy on the basis of war conditions, and yet they are always referring .to Australia under war conditions. It seems absurd to impose a duty upon- New Zealand twine when the people of the Dominion stood by us so well during the war.
Sitting suspended from 6.S0 to 8.5 p.m.
– During the tea adjournment honorable members had the opportunity of gathering some information in regard to this item by viewing some lantern slides depicting Pacific Island industries, among which is that of sisal’ hemp culture. There seems to be an impression that sisal hemp is grown in Australia and needs protecting.. As a matter of fact, it is the middleman who seeks the protection, although by giving it to him we may retard the progress of the primary producer. The raw material for the reaper and binder twine and yarn made up in Australia is imported, and the duty is imposed for the purpose of protecting the work of making it up into twine. New Zealand not only - grows the hemp, but also makes it up into a. twine which has proved satisfactory to the farmers of this country who use it. It is not a good policy to impose a duty simply to encourage- the making up of the New Zealand hemp into twine in Australia as against the country where the raw material is growing, particularly when that country joined its Forces with ours in the recent war, so that New Zealanders and Australians fought as one unit. The water carriage between New Zealand and Australia ought to be sufficient protection to the . local twine- makers, and I hope the Committee will,., at least, bring the duty down to the rates; imposed in the 1908 Tariff. If the increase shown in the present schedule is adhered to it will hurt a primary industry, which is not wheat-growing in this case. Honorable members ought to realize that the more they Hurt the primary industries of the country so much more will the city industries in turn be hurt. I hope that the Committee will agree to the amendment, and that New Zealand will be put on the same footing as -Great Britain in regard to this item.
Question - That the words proposed to be added be so added- (Mr. - Gregory’s amendment) - put. The ‘ Committee divided. ,
Ayes . . . . . . 12
Noes .. .. :.. 3d
Majority . . . . 24
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to.
– I understand that under sub-item a - cotton, including mercerized cotton yarn - threefold twine is imported, presumably, for use in reapers and binders, but mostly for use as shop twine. Can the Minister (Mr. Greene) say whether this is a fact? We are successfully manufacturing this twine in Australia, but importers can sometimes take advantage of a little anomaly in regard to classification, and bring in an ‘article under a certain heading free of duty when it was never intended that the article in question should be admitted free. In the circumstances it is suggested thatthe words “ as prescribed by departmental by-laws “ should be added to sub-item a.
– I cannot say whether threefold binder twine comes in under this item, but it certainly could not be classed as “ cotton, including mercerized cotton yarn.”
.- When the Tariff was introduced I spoke on the question of cotton, and I was advised by the Minister (Mr. Greene) that this commodity should be dealt with in this item. On a former occasion I gave at some lengththe particulars of cotton production in Australia, and now call attention to the fact that so late as the 9 th June the Herald published the following cablegram: -
Growers to be Encouraged.
British vote or £1,000,000. (Reuters.)
Mr. Winston Churchill, Secretary , of State for the Colonies, addressing the British Cotton Growing Association at Manchester, declared that theBritish Empire, despite its steady progress, produced only a fortieth part of the cotton needed to keep its hungry mills fully active.
The formidable fact nowwas, he continued, that America was consuming a very large proportion of her own cotton crop. He advocated the location and development of supplies within the Empire, and deplored the neglect to develop tropical Possessions in the past twenty years.
He urged the use of scientific apparatus as a remunerative investment; also the development of Inter-Imperial trade, both with tropical dependencies and the Dominions.
The British Government, he said, was devoting £1,000,000 to the encouragement of cotton growing within the Empire.
There is no question that cotton can be grown in Australia of as good a quality as in any part of the world. It was estimated that last year, in Queensland, there were 1,250 acres under cultivation of cotton, and steps are being taken to extend planting in other parts of the State. No doubt the industry could just as well be carried on in some of the other States of the Commonwealth; and this is a matter to which representatives of theprimary producers, no matter on what side of the House they sit, should give their serious attention with a view to adequate protection. I trust that the Minister will be able to indicate some means by which this industry may be safeguarded. It is not as if the rates of wages in Australia were higher than those ruling at present in America. I have particulars in. regard to wages in America, and I am sureour cotton-pickers would be quite satisfied to accept the same. We have the climate and the soil, and there is no doubt that cotton can be grown here profitably if given a chance.
– I gave full particulars on a former occasion, and they appear in Hansard. I hope the Minister will give those engaged in this industry some assurance that, either now or in the near future, they will be placed in a position to enter heart and soul into an effort to comply with the wishes expressed in the newspaper extract I read, and thus assist in carrying out the desire of the Empire.
.- I thoroughly agree that there is room for a development of the cotton-growing industry in this country. I believe that, in time, it will probably develop along the lines on which it is being carried on in many parts of America. There the industry is very largely conducted by means of family labour on. comparatively small plots, and in the aggregate large quantities of cotton are produced. There is no doubt that the climate and soil of Australia are admirably adapted to its growth, and it is only a question of time, provided the price keeps up to a profitable level, when we shall see the industry extend over large areas of country. It has been proved beyond a shadow of doubt that Australia can produce longstaple cotton of very fine character, but it is too early to talk about protecting the manufacturing side of the industry, particularly in regard to yarns. Protection has been given in the case of waddings, waste, and those comparatively primitive manufactures in the early stages. But yarns are quite another matter. They, of course, enter largely into our textiles; there are such things, for instance, as Viyella, of which cotton forms a material portion, and there is also the knitting industry. To impose a Protective duty when we have no spinning plant would be simply handicapping those other industries without doing any appreciable good to the cotton industry. It is too early to think about a duty, but, in the meantime, I have no doubt that the cotton-growers, under the arrangements come to, and the guarantees given by the Manchester Association for the development of cotton-growing in the interests of the Empire, to give a price which will pay for five years to come, will prove the’ best possible inducement to cottongrowing in Australia.
– I should like to see an increase in the duties in the case of sub-item e, which deals with jute, hemp and flax. This yarn is a commodity the production of which ought to prove of assistance to the primary producer; but the representatives of the country interests here, by their actions, would lead one to doubt that they really represent those who sent them here. Those honorable members putup a fight, presumably in the interests of the primary producer, but when they have an opportunity to do anything for him, they take quite another, and rather a selfish, stand. I admitthat there are some honorable members who are Protectionists at one time, and Free Traders at another.
– Why not make it plain that your object is to increase the cost of living?
– The honorable member is a “dyed-in-the-wool” Free Trader, and anything he may say to me I can only take smilingly. I am now addressing myself to the half-and-half Protectionist members, and desire to point out to them that Australia is eminently suitable for the production of jute, flax, and hemp, and that the establishment of the secondary industry must be of benefit to the primary producer.
– Wait until we ask for it.
– Fortunately, the people who sent the honorable member here are not the Australian people, and it is to the representatives of Australia that my remarks are addressed ; indeed, I can hardly understand any but foreigners electing the honorable member. The duties are now 10 per cent., 15 per cent., and 20 per cent., and, in view of the influence of India in this industry, I ask the Minister whether he will make the duties 15 per cent., 25 per cent., and 40 per cent.?
– The Minister must have information regarding these commodities, and ought to know that unless something is done the Indian products will swamp the Australian industry. There is a firm in Victoria, and other associated firms, which have installed large plant for the purpose of manufacturing these particular yarns. . Some time ago there was some difficulty with the , firms, which, while making twine, did not make yarn, and objected to a duty on the yarn because it was their raw material. Since that time, however, machinery has been introduced capable of producing all the yarns necessary for the manufacture of twine. That being so, it is a foolish attitude to refuse to encourage their manufacture in Australia. The production of yarn is the elementary process in the manufacture of fabrics.’ It will be useless to attempt’ to manufacture cotton piece goods in , Australia until we can ‘ manufacture the yarn, and we did very little in woollen manufacture until we spun woollen yarn here. The local netting industry will go out of existence if v a do not make our own, yarn and twine. In my district there is an establishment which, during the war, was full of workpeople engaged in making yarn, and its storehouse was always practically empty; but now half of those who were employed have had to leave, and the storehouse is practically full. Honorable members opposite know that the storing up of productions cannot continue indefinitely, especially when the banks are treating manufacturers as they are treating them to-day. The manufacture of yarn here should encourage the. growing of hemp and flax. I hope that the Minister will increase the duties.
– I think that duties of 10, 15, and 30 per cent, should be sufficient, to protect a simple industry like the spinning of yarn. The honorable member spoke of the competition of India, but the great bulk ‘of our importation of yarn comes from Great Britain. In the year 1920 the yam coming from Great Britain was valued at £8,915, and that coming from India at £5,440. In the previous year Great Britain sent us yarn worth £9,143, and India yarn worth £4,233, and the year before that Great Britain sent yarn worth £16,700, while the importation from India was valued at £4,086. Since this duty has been in operation, the importations have decreased, the total importation this year being only £15,266, as against £33,000 last year. Although the price of the article has been much higher during the last two years than it ‘ was previously, the value of the importa tion has diminished. That seems to show that the protection we afford is sufficient. I cannot see that a comparatively minor operation like the spinning of yarn needs a higher duty than 20 per cent. The raw material of the industry - jute, hemp, and flax- is admitted free of duty, the local production of it being so small that a duty would not be justified. I do not share the view of the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Prowse) that we shall not grow our own hemp. I know two or three persons who are now growing hemp, and there” is a great deal of country on which it could be grown. I believe that we shall eventually grow it as successfully as it is grown in New. Zealand.
– Quite a lot was grown years ago.
– Yes; but the competition from abroad made the crop unprofitable. We still guarantee a certain price for flax, and a fair quantity of it is grown, and the production is increasing each year. I think that it will not be very long before all the flax yarn we require will be made from locally-grown flax.
Amendment (by Mr. Mathews) p].0-posed -
That the following words be added to subitem (e) : - “And on and after 7th July, 1921, jute, hemp, and flax, ad val., .British, 15 per cent. ; intermediate, 25 per cent. ; general, 40 per cent.
.- I desire to support the contention of the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) that Queensland is eminently suited to ‘the growing of cotton. Recently I had the pleasure of conversing with Mr. Jones, the Government cotton expert qf that State, and he assured me that he had never seen cotton elsewhere thriving so well as it does in Queensland. Not only are the pods valuable for the cotton they produce, but the plant is a splendid herbage during droughts, and will sustain cattle in periods when there is no grass. For that reason alone Mr. Jones recommended the growing of cotton. He told me that small crops were grown in the Burdekin’ District, though hardly for the sake of the fibre, yet a good price was obtained for the cotton that was picked there. Some years ago Dr. Thomatis grew cotton on the Barron River, samples of which were sent to Great Britain, and pronounced to be of the best quality. A duty would not stimulate the growing, of cotton’, but a bounty might. In 1907, this Parliament provided for a bounty on cotton available until 1915; but in the last year of that period only £22 Was asked for, and in the year before £21, the maximum amount that could have been drawn being £6,000. In viewof the desire of the British Government to increase the growing of cotton within the Empire, I suggest that the Minister should propose again’ the offer of a bounty, making the sum available three or four times as large as it was.
– I shall look into the matter.
– The conditions of the present day are entirely different from those which prevailed between 1907 and 1915. I accept the Minister’s assurance that he will give consideration to my suggestion.
.- I shall support the amendment. I am glad to have the Minister’s promise about a bounty for cotton. The honorable member” for Herbert (Mr. Bamford) omitted to mention a matter that we were told of in a lecture in the Senate Clubroom recently, namely, that cotton is a crop which does not spoil if the picking is delayed, and that sometimes the picking can be extended over a period of six months. That would be a great help to a small family. Nothing stimulates primary industry so much as a good duty, and I think that the rates moved for by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Mathews) would largely stimulate the growing of cotton in Queensland. For the past sixty years cotton has been grown in Queensland, and there is no doubt as to the ability of the white man to produce there high-grade fibre which will compare favorably with the cotton of other countries. One of our long-stapled up-land varieties, when submitted to the British Cotton-growers Association for valuation, was appraised at1s. per lb, when American “middling” was valued at only 5d. Another sample was judged to be worth from 3s. 6d. to 4s. per lb. It is an annual crop. I invite my Free Trade friends to support the amendment in the interestsofAustralia, believing that we should be able to build up a cotton industry that will rival that of the United States of America. We can produce here finer varieties of cotton than are grown in the southern States of America.
Amendment (by Mr. Mathews) negatived -
That the item be amended by adding to sub-item (e) the following: -“ And on and after 7th July, 1921, ad val., British, 10 per cent.; intermediate, 20 per cent.; general, 30 per cent.”
Item agreed to.
.-Sub- item b affects an important industry that has been set up in this State, and which it is essential should be further protected. This industry, which is engaged in the production of crochet, knitting, mercerised embroidery, and other cottons, has to compete with one of the greatest combines the world has ever known. I refer to the Coats Cotton Combine, which during the war took the fullest advantage of the Australian consumer.
– The directors of that Combine said that most’ of their enormous profits had come not from the people of Great Britain, but from the people of Australia.
– They boasted that they had made enormous profits out of the people of Australia. ‘ We now have an opportunity to stabilize an industry that has set up operations here, and which is prepared to supply the full requirements of Australia in respect of the articles covered by sub-item b. The company points out that if it secures reasonable protection it will not only give employment to a large number of people in its own factory, hut provide considerable work for those engaged in the production of cardboard boxes, printed labels, wood reels, and other things used by it. There was a great outcry in Australia when the directors of Coats and Company announced that they had made more profits out of the people of the Commonwealth than out of their business transactions in any other part of the world. We have here an opportunity to “get one back.” I produce samples of mercerised and other cottons produced by the local factory, and which, in texture and dye, are equal to those produced by Coats and Company. There is a duty of 35 per cent. on the printed labels, cardboard boxes, and paper tubes used by the industry, while on the wooden reels there is a duty of 30 per cent. Coats and Company have been disposing of enormous quantities of sewing cotton on the Australian market. The local company is content that no duty shall be imposed on imports of ordinary household threads and cottons from Great Britain, but it asks for further protection in respect of crochet, . knitting, mercerised, and embroidery cottons, and promises that if an all-round increase of 10 per cent, is granted it will extend its plant and employ considerably more labour. I move -
That the item be amended by adding to sub-item (b) the following: - “And on and after 7th July, 1921, ad val., British, 20 per cent.; intermediate, 25 per cent.; general, 30 per cent.”
I hope the Minister will accept this amendment, and so enable the local industry to compete with a Combine that glories in having bled the people of Australia in the days of the war.
.- I do not know whether the information I have regarding the local firm is correct, but it is to lie effect that the industry carried on by it consists only of reeling certain lines of cottons and labelling them for retail sale. If it simply purchases the yarn from abroad and employs a few persons in reeling it for, retail sale, it can hardly he said to be carrying on an industry. ‘ There is, however, an anomaly in respect of this item, because, while crochet, knitting, mercerised, and embroidery cottons are dutiable, ‘ I notice that under sub-item ‘ a, embroidery silks and twists, which are used for the more expensive classes of work, are free under the British and intermediate Tariffs.
– So are” sewing cottons and threads.
Mr.- GREGORY.- My desire is that a big duty shall not -be imposed on cottons, which the poorer people have to use, while embroidery silks and twists are admitted free. This, it seems to me, is an anomaly that ought to be explained.
.- I sincerely hope that the Minister (Mr. Greene) will accept the amendment. The firm referred to by the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Francis) is. the Commonwealth Cotton Company Proprietary
Limited, which carries on . operations at what is known as the Rainbow Factory,. Clifton Hill. If .the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) would visit the company’s factory, I am sure he would be satisfied that the industry isworthy of substantial protection. I have shown several ladies the crochet, knitting,, mercerised, arid embroidery cottons produced by it, and they all tell me that they are. equal to any imported cotton. This, company is also making the finest thread used by tailors. For a time it was ableto compete with the Coats Combine - wonderful in its awfulness-but that Combine has been undercutting it to such an extent that it is impossible to compete with it in the production .of threads and ordinary cottons. The principal of the company comes from that part of the Old Country in which threads and sewing cottons are made, and has the necessary machinery to carry on the industry. All that he asks for is a duty of. 20 per cent, under the British Tariff to enable him tocompete against the mighty Combine, and ari increase of 10 per cent, under the intermediate and general Tariffs. If . the honorable member for Dampier will visit the factory, he will see that the various cottons covered by sub-item b are spun there from the yarn. I shall vote for the amendment.
– Sewing and embroidery silks and twists, household threads and cottons, and’ sewing threads and cottons, are for the manufacture of garments. The silk or twist is used for outside woollen garments. They are not the class of article to which the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) has’ referred. The mercerised cotton is for crochet and embroidery work, and is rather in the nature of a luxury, while the other is- a daily necessity. I ask the Minister if he will .agree to an increase of these duties.
– I do not mind an increase of 5 per cent.
Amendment (by Mr. Greene) agreed to-
That the sub-item (b) be amended by the addition of the following words : - “ And on and after 7th July, 1921, ad vol., British, 15 per cent. ; intermediate, 20 per cent. ; general, 25. per cent.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Granulated cork, n.e.i., ad val., British, 15 per cent. ; intermediate, 20 per cent. ; general, 20 per cent.
.- I cannot understand why granulated cork used for other than fruit packing has been placed in a special sub-item, and made subject to duties of 15 per cent. and20 per cent. I assume thatthe intention is to assist the cork-cutting industry. With that I am- entirely in agreement, but the Committee should consider the effect of this duty on the corkboard industry. Under the 1914 Tariff granulated cork was not specifically mentioned, but cork mats, and all other manufactures of cork were subject to a British preferential duty of 15 per cent. and a general duty of 20 per cent. Consequently, it was impossible for the corkboard industry to prosper in Australia. This schedule provides for the free admission -of granulated cork for fruit packing, but the materials required for manufacturing purposes will be subject to duties of 15 per cent. and 20 per cent. It is unfortunate that the cork oak is not grown to any extent in this country ; the very fine samples of this treeto be found in the Melbourne Botanic Gardens is proof that it would flourish in this climate. There are many industries in which granulated cork isused. Representations were made tothe Minister early last year in regard to this duty,and I should like to know whether he will agree to any decrease in respect of sub-item b. It was my intention to ask that granulated cork for manufacturing purposes should be admitted free, but from information which I have since obtained I do not think that would be quite fair to the cork-cutting industry. The largest corkboard manufacturing company is in Queensland, and in a recent letter to me the manager disavowed any intention on the part of his company to injure the cork-cutting industry, but asked for fair consideration, so that this industry might be preserved from destruction.
– Do the corkboard manufacturers get anygranulated cork locally ?
– Theycan get all they require.
– They say they can- not. The Queensland company has a very large contract withthe State’ Government in connexion with cold storage works on the Brisbane River, and I am assured by the managing director that they find it impossible to getfrom local sources all the granulated cork they require. I trust that the Minister will agree to some reduction in respect of subitemB.
.- I support the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. Cameron) in his request that granulated cork for manufacturing purposes should be included in sub-item a. Early last year a deputation waited upon the Minister in regard to this matter, and Iknow that he has made investigations into it. It has been said there is plenty of this granulated cork available from thecork-cutters, butthecorkboard manufacturers point out that the waste from cork-cutting isnot always suitable for corkboard, inasmuch as the grains should be of a certain size, and contain air cells. An objection to the importation of the cork bark and the granulation of it in Australia is. that the process is dusty and unhealthy for the employees. I know that the Minister has all the information available on the subject, and I hope he will agree to therequest that has been made.
.- The dust nuisance in connexion with any trade can be eliminated by the use of forcedpressure. Honorable members may see an example of that in the Wertheim factory, where every particle of dust is sucked up by forced draught, and carried to the furnace. If the dust is proving inimical to the workers in any factory in Queensland, the fault lies withthe factory legislation of that State. I intend to move that anincreased duty be placed on all granulated cork. The statement that this material cannot be suppliedlocally is dearly met by the offer made by the Cork and Crown Seal Proprietary Company Limited to the manager of theVictorian Orchardists Co-operative Association Limited, Flinders-lane. Writing in regard to granulated corkf or the purpose of fruit-packing for export, the manager of the company said -
We now beg to confirm, and here set out, our undertaking, namely, to supply all your requirements, and those of your association, with the right grade of -granulated cork at f.o.b. prices 5 per cent. Jess than Portugal, Spain, or Algeria will be prepared to supply same, plus freight and landing charges.
In other words, that company is prepared to supply every fruit-grower in Victoria with cork packing at a price 5 per cent, less than that at which European countries are prepared to place it on board ship. That offer has been accepted by the Victorian Orchardists Cooperative Association in a letter dated 1st June, 1921. The writer referring to the intention of the cork cutters to ask for an increased duty on granulated cork, said -
I have pleasure in stating that, in view, of the representations made by yourselves, and also having in view your guarantee that the users of this commodity will actually reap a benefit to the extent of 5 per cent., my association agrees that the request, if granted, will meet with the full approval of the fruitgrowers generally. I trust, therefore, that your petition will meet with the full measure of success that this association feels that it deserves.
If a duty is placed on all granulated cork, every fruit-grower will be able to . get cork packing at a price 5 per cent, below the price in Europe. If the European price decreases, the local price will still be 5 per cent, lower. - Having regard to that offer, I cannot, understand that the Government should hesitate to increase the duty. I understand that in corkcutting two-thirds of the sheet is lost, and in cutting champagne corks the loss is even greater. The use of the thin layer of cork in the metal stoppers which are now so largely used om. beer and aerated water bottles has certainly freed ‘the growers of the cork oak from the fear that they might not be able to supply the world’s requirements. But in Australia there are vast areas of land suitable for the cultivation of that tree. I have seen the splendid forests of cork oak in Spain, ‘and I noticed that the trees were not only useful, but most graceful. We should assist the cork-cutting industry by imposing a fair duty, and I therefore move -
That the item be amended by the addition of the following words : - “ And on and after 7th July, 1921, sub-items (a), (b), and (c), ad val., British, 30 per cent.; intermediate, 30 per cent.; general, 45 per cent.
.- I have listened patiently to the debates during the consideration of the Tariff, and have been very much surprised to find that those Protectionists who were so keen to get an increased duty on fruit grown in Queensland have become ardent Free Traders in regard to an article which happens to be made in Victoria. I make an exception in regard to the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser), who at least has been consistent.
– The honorable member for Ballarat was- consistent with regard to bananas.
– I admit that I slipped on bananas. I have voted as a Protectionist right through the Tariff; but when I found that certain people were doing very well indeed at growing bananas, I came to the conclusion that the banana, growing industry required no further protection., ,
– Can .the honorable member . satisfy the Committee .that the Australian cork. cutters can produce sufficient granulated cork, to supply the requirements of Australia?’
– I think I can do so. The honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. Cameron) has pointed out that the manager of a factory in Brisbane said that his firm could not get sufficient waste cork in Australia. As a matter of fact, that very gentleman was appointed the Brisbane representative of a Clifton Hill cork factory, and on its behalf secured a Contract with the Queensland Government for the supply of granulated cork; but? no sooner had he obtained this contract than be practically cancelled it, and imported inferior waste cork . from abroad. I can assure the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Mackay) that the cork cutters of Australia can meet the granulated cork requirements of. Australia. The Country party need riot be afraid that the duty asked for will oppress fruit growers. The honorable- member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) has just pointed out that the Clifton. Hill firm has made a contract to ‘supply the Victorian Orchardists Co-operative Association Limited with granulated cork at a price which is 5 per cent, lower than the price of waste cork imported from Spain Algeria, or Portugal. These people are very anxious to extend their operations. Already they are employing a large number of hands, but they are suffering loss, by reason of the fact that they are not able to put their waste cork to the best use. They would be very pleased if honorable members would make themselves acquainted with’ the factory. The Quality of their, output has stood the Queensland Government’s test; it is infinitely superior to the imported waste cork, and if the Committee will agree to the proposal of the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Moloney), I am sure it will afford considerable employment to our own people.
.- I hope that the Minister will not be influenced to alter sub-item a. If the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) is correct in saying that the local cork cutters can sell , granulated cork at 5 per cent, less than the price of the imported article, I am. sure the grape growers of Western Australia will buy up all the Australian product, if it is suitable, because they use this cork for packing grapes for export to other parts of. the world. But when imported granulated cork is used for this purpose a rebate of duty in any case should be permitted. I cannot see the necessity of going to the trouble of imposing a duty on this very necessary requirement for packing fruit. The honorable member for Melbourne has made the ludicrous proposition that we should impose a Protective duty for the purpose of enabling cork trees to be grown in Australia, without any regard whatever for those industries which are sending produce out of this country, and for which money is secured in return. It is this money which is coming into the country that makes it possible for us to establish secondary industries here. It will do no harm to the cork manufacturers of Australia to retain granulated cork on the free list, because we are told that they are .prepared to sell their waste product at 5 per cent, less than the cost of the imported waste. . The fruitgrowers of this country will be quite prepared to buy their output if they find that they can get enough of . it of the right quality to meet their requirements.
.- Honorable members ‘who will take the trouble to inspect the cork factory^ in Melbourne will find cork being cut into all shapes arid sizes, even to the granulated article used for packing purposes. If we are to make Australia selfsupporting in any essential, honorable members must begin to take a different view from that of the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Prowse).
– But why place the whole of the burden of this duty on. the grape-growers?
– They must buy granulated cork of some description; but £ suppose they would rather buy it from Spain than from Australia.
– That is not the point. We shall reach the explosives item soon.
– That is quite a different proposition.
– Yes, because the honorable member is interested in it.
Mr. -WATKINS.- I am not interested in it. I hope that the proposal of the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) will be accepted, because it will bo the means of enabling the cork industry to be considerably extended. Queensland has been very fairly treated under this Tariff, and I think the representatives of that State ought to extend their horizon a little beyond its borders. To me, it does not matter where an industry mav be established, se long as I think it is one that ought tol be developed.
.- The honorable member ‘for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) and the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath) are under a mis-, apprehension in regard to the attitude of the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. Cameron) and myself. We are asking for consideration for the corkboard industry, and have no desire whatever to interfere with the. business of cork-cutters. My remarks were based on a letter signed by the manager of a corkboard manufacturing company, who writes as follows : -
In March last our representative visited Melbourne, and when in that city endeavoured to secure supplies of Waste cork through one of the large Melbourne bouses, but was met on every hand by tlie reply, “ We have not sufficient for our own requirements.” Only one cork-cutter quoted for a small parcel of 1 or 2 tons, but the price quoted was just about 100 per cent-, higher than the landed cost of the best granulated cork. Our representative also visited four of the five principal cork-cutters and cork board manufacturers in Melbourne, and all the factories known to him in Sydney, and discussed with the principals the question of the removal of the duty on granulated cork, and in every instance the replies- received were favorable, the unanimous opinion- being thai the imposition of the present duty was unfair and its removal would be helpful rather than harmful to the cork-cutting industry.
I have a sample of corkboard manufactured.
– It is manufactured out of cork waste.
– That is so; but the pieces must be of certain size, so that the board, which is used for insulating purposes, may contain air cells. Cork shavings, which . may be suitable for fruit packing, are quite unsuited for the making of cork-board. I speak in the interests of a factory capable of turning out 10,000 square feet per week, and for which 20,000 lbs. weight of granulated cork is required.
.- If the Committee really wants to place a duty on granulated cork, I hope that it will not interfere with granulated cork used for fruit packing, because the fruitgrowers of Australia are in competition with those of Spain, Italy, and other continental countries. I ask the Minister (Mr. Greene) not to permit himself to be moved from his proposal. If primary producers have to compete with other parts of the world, surely others may be made to compete in like manner.
– What about wheat?
– The wheat-grower has to compete in the world’s market, and he is furthest away from that market. Honorable members who are supporting the higher duties would lead one to suppose that the question of the establishment of a few cork factories would make Australia self-contained. Decent wages cannot be paid here unless we get money into Australia, and that can only be done by means of export.
.- It is very evident that all the prevaricators are not in Parliament, ‘ having regard to the great diversity of views that are placed before us. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Prowse) hopes that the Minister (Mr. Greene) will not be “ moved,” but the Minister is not here to be moved. I, however, should like the Acting Minister (Mr. Wise) to explain why, in’ view of the fact that under the old Tariff the duties on granulated cork were 15 per cent, and 20 per cent., the commodity is to be made free. Why should there be a decrease in this particular item, since most of the changes have been in the nature of increases? The honorable member for Swan has informed us that the fruit-growers cannot get granulated cork, but I may inform nim. that the cork manufacturers of Victoria, and the producers of granulated cork, have time after time applied to the growers-
– Cork is not manufactured, but grows.
– Allow me to tell the honorable member that cork is both grown and manufactured. However, tlie cork manufacturers in Melbourne have repeatedly written to the fruit-packers of Western Australia asking for orders for granulated cork, and have been unable to get any; the idea is to get cork from foreign countries iri order to push the local product out of the market. The honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Mackay) has produced cork-board which was, and is, a. process of manufacture. As a. matter of fact, as the ‘honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) has pointed out, the cork industry represents three-fourths waste, which by machinery is made into cork-boards and articles for insulating purposes. The honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath) told us a story of the real foundation of the argument used by the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. Cameron) l who, with others beside him, spoke of the failure of this industry. That failure is easy to explain; and there is the same intriguing underlying nearly every industry. The. Queensland Government required insulators- for certain processes, and for such insulators it- was necessary to have granulated cork pro*duced from cork waste. Tests were made, as against the English and American article, and it was found that the Australian cork was the best. A gentleman in this city then proceeded to play a smart game on his own partners, and got the contract, and then obtained his granulated cork from abroad. The question is asked, what does it matter if this be waste cork, whether it is the local product, or comes from overseas?
– It is not a local product, anyhow.
– We are not playing on words. If we. get the raw material from some other country, and work it up into the finished ‘ product, we furnish labour for our own people; that argument applies to a variety of industries as well as to the cork industry. -When the tree is here, and the waste is here, the finished article is properly seasoned, whereas the foreign article really has the vitality squeezed out of it, and fails in its work. The result of the piece of intrigue to which. I referred was that the local manufacturers were discredited. I see no reason why the old Tariff should not be maintained, or, what is better, increased, and I support the amendment. In any case, it would be interesting to know from the Minister what prompted him to make this item free.
– The first sub-item has been inserted as a concession to the fruit packers, and it refers to fruit-packing for export only.
– It is hard to understand why the fruit-packers will insist on having imported cork when there is plenty in Australia.
– They have as much right to imported granulated cork as other people have to imported cork bark.
– One is unfortunate in dealing with the honorable member, because he is not an Australian representative, but a representative of some foreign part.
– I ask the honorable member to withdraw that remark. I represent a portion of Australia, and no foreign part.
– I was going to say-
– Mr. Bamford, am I not entitled to have this insult removed from myself and my constituents?
– I did, not catch the remark of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Mathews).
– If I have hurt the honorable member’s feelings, I withdraw.
– The remark would be offensive to any honorable member.
– It is proposed that we in Australia shall use what I call imported raw cork. In this country there are establishments equipped with machinery for cutting corks which are used for stopping liquid from coming out of bottles; and in this process of making there is a loss of 66 per cent. of raw cork. The more corks there are made for bottle stopping the more waste there is of the imported cork. It is not hard for anybody to understand that unless the waste product can be made marketable the importer of cork will have to charge more for the corks he makes. As it is, there is an enormous amount of waste cork here from these cork establishments that can be made into granulated cork for fruitpackers and the manufacture of insulators. When the fruit-packers and the manufacturers of insulators are told that there are large quantities of granulated cork available, why do they, in their cussedness, say they will not have the Australian waste product, but will have the imported waste product from Spain? If this is an Australian Parliament, these people ought to be forced to use the local waste product.
– Surely, they know what article suits them best.
– They have never raised that point; if they had said that the local product is not suitable, it would be a matter for investigation, but what they say is that there is not sufficient of it. The honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. Cameron) said that those who wished to manufacture insulators could not get sufficient raw material from the cork-cutters, but we are assured that the cork-cutters would be only too pleased to supply them. The fruit-packers also say they cannot get this cork ; but if they can get it in sufficient quantities from Victoria, and its sale would assist in the establishment of factories in that State and elsewhere, they should do so.
– Certainly, but they must have some reason for their action.
– The cork-cutters assure me that they have enough waste to supply the whole of Australia.
– Then why is a duty necessary?
– We have had an illustration to-night why it is necessary; but the honorable member will insist, on having the imported article. I do not believe, however, that that is the desire of the Western Australian growers, who, in my opinion, are willing to give the local commodity a chance. Their representative from Swan (Mr. Prowse) will not permit that to be done; throughout the whole of the discussion of the Tariff the honorable member has consistently opposed every duty that he deems to be of no use to the people he is supposed to represent. The honorable member is wrong in the stand he takes; he has shown himself to be an out-and-out Free Trader, although I must say he “ slipped “ on timber, and in doing so got a lot of “ splinters “ because he had not “ greased “ it well enough. He presented a sorry example as a member, who after strenuously imposing the imposition of a duty on timber, stayed quietly in his place and voted for it. That is the only occasion on which the honorable member has given an Australian vote. If there were not sufficient local granulated cork, at a lower price than that of the imported article, to supply the fruit-packers, I should not desire any duty; but, if there is enough cork at a reasonable price, I would compel the fruit-packers of Western Australia to use it, providing, of course, that it did no injury to the fruit.
– Would you support a compulsory Wheat Pool?
– I shall tell the honorable member when we are discussing the Wheat Pool, but I may say that I think the Pool has been of some assistance to the wheat-growers. No doubt the Postmaster-General (Mr. Wise) is at a disadvantage, and we. are sorry that the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) is kept away through illness; but I ask, nevertheless, that due consideration may be given to this matter. The loss of the by-products from wool would be a serious thing for the wool growers of Australia, and similarly the loss of the by-products of the cork cuting industry would be a loss to the people engaged in that industry.
– The concession objected to applies merely to cork used for packing fruit for export
.- What is now proposed is too selfish, and many of those who have voted for duties which will increase the cost of living will, when the public realize the effect of their votes, need all the cork they can get to make lifebelts for themselves. We admit duty-free the raw material of the cork industry and protect its manufactures, and then it wants a duty to enable it to sell the surplus rubbish of its operations. About 17- miles from Perth there is one of the finest vineyards in the Commonwealth, the grapes from which, exported packed in granulated cork, realize as much as 35s. a case in the Old Country. You can see there avenues of vines three-quarters of a mile long, and I hope that similar grapes may. be grown in other parts of Australia, and a large export trade in them built up. . It is to assist this export trade that we wish to have granulated cork admitted free. Although the grapes that I have mentioned bring 35s. a case in London, exporters cannot be sure of getting such prices for their fruit-, because there .are times when, through some small thing going wrong during transport, the sender may receive nothing, or may even be at a considerable loss.
– If sufficient cork can be obtained in Australia as cheaply as the imported cork, will it not be used ? .
– Yes. Those in the fruit industry whom I know wish to buy in the cheapest market, but would give preference to the home> production. That should be the attitude of every Australian towards Australian goods. In Western Australia seventy or eighty re- . turned soldiers are engaged in growing currants, raisins, and grapes for export, and I hope that our export fruit trade may become a big industry. We are sending fruit to Singapore and other Eastern- places, and do a fine business - with Great Britain. Last year I had trouble in obtaining space on board ship for the grapes to be exported.
– I have no desire to injure that export trade.
– We should do all we can to encourage the use of Australian granulated cork, if it can be obtained as cheaply as imported cork; and, as it is merely a by-product of cork manufacture, it should be possible to sell it more cheaply than the granulated cork’ exported from Spain can be sold: I hope that the amendment will not be pressed. The duty may not make a great deal of difference, though it may, in some degree, -injure an industry which every, member” who. knows its importance would be willing to foster.
.- It is all very well to talk of buying in the cheapest market, but if some of those who profess to represent the local producer were asked always to sell to the lowest bidder, they would complain greatly.
– The local manufacturers of cork are protected by a duty; and what is now under discussion is a surplus production of their industry.
– According to official information, .the minimum wage paid to cork cutters in Portugal- < is for men, 12.48d. ; for women, 3d. and for children, 2d.; the maximum being 31.26d., 12d., and 7d., or thereabouts, respectively. In other words, iri Portugal the men engaged in this industry receive between ls. OM. and 2s. 7£d. per day of - from twelve to fourteen hours, the women from 3d. to a fraction over ls. O-J’d., and the children from 2d. to about, 7£d. per day. The same low rates rule in Spain.
– Our primary producers have to compete in the markets of the world against that class of labour.
– Australian sentiment, civilization, and economic conditions cannot be preserved by trading extensively with countries in which the employees are sweated to the uttermost.
– .Sentiment does not cut ice, so far as the farmers are concerned.
.- If the Postmaster-General cannot give us some consideration, I hope that the item may be postponed until to-morrow, so that we may address ourselves to the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene). Some better reason must he given for the removal of the 15 per cent, duty on granulated cork. The Postmaster-General says that the removal of this duty is in the interest of the f fruit-packers ; but practically every case of fruit that left Victoria last year was packed with Victorian cork.
– It is only a small proportion of the fruit of Australia that is sent from Victoria.
– Small or large, the facts show that the cork required for packing can be obtained locally. The cork factories are overloaded with waste; but, for some reason that cannot be ascertained, certain exporters will not accept the local cork unless they can get it more cheaply than the imported cork. The Victorian Orchardists Association, however, has no complaint against this duty, and the cork makers, in order to get a waste product used, to help them to carry on their business, have offered to supply the association with granulated cork for 5 per cent, less than the price f.o.b. in Portugal.
– Then why do they ask for a duty?
– To compel those who have a decided preference for imported cork, and who would pay a little more for it, to use the local article. Some persons prefer to patronize the productions of Portugal, Algeria, and Spain rather than those of their own country. I have here a letter from the Victorian
Orchardists Association offering to assist the makers of this granulated cork to obtain this duty, and they are better judges of its effect than is the honorable member for Echuca (Mr. Hill), who represents chiefly wheat-growing areas.
– The largest fruit-growing districts in Victoria are in my electorate.
– The honorable member is not so closely in touch with the fruit-growers of Australia as is the Victorian Orchardists Association, whose members are actually growing and exporting fruit. They are big Australians, who wish to see the local article used. The honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Mackay) said that corkboard cannot be made here.
– No. I said that the granulated cork from the cork-cutters was not suitable.
– The Queensland Government called for tenders for granulated cork, and the competitors who tendered had to supply samples in Brisbane to be tested in a laboratory. This testing showed the Melbourne article to be the best submitted. It was the waste of local cork cutting, and got the order. But the individual who acted for the local firm, wishing to make a bigger profit, imported cork from abroad, and when that was made into corkboard it was refused by the Queensland Government. There the matter stands at present.. Corkboard can be made from cork cuttings in Victoria which is superior to the imported article.
– That industry is not affected by the removal of this duty.
– Yes, it is. Corkboard is used for insulation purposes, and the local makers are ready to give a promise in writing to every member, of the Victorian Orchardists’ Association’ to supply their needs at a price 5 per cent, below that of the imported article.
– They are unable to supply our requirements.
– They are able to supply the. full requirements of Australia. By supporting this amendment the honorable member will assist an Australian industry which is struggling because of the prejudice against the Australian article.
– This is not an Austraiian article.
– The manufactured article is a local production. I dp not know why the Government should hesitate to accept the amendment. They are to-day embarking on a big immigration policy, yet they are proposing to reduce this duty and so to decrease employment in the industry affected by it. I ask the Postmaster-General (Mr. Wise) to postpone the item.
– There is no reason why we should postpone it.
– I feel that if the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) were present he would accept the amendment. I realize the difficulty of the position occupied by the honorable gentleman who is acting for him, but he should be prepared, at all events, to give some protection to this local industry.
– What is the nationality of the local cork-cutter?
– I do not know. He may be a German; but as one who has met people of all nationalities, and who did a little in the late war, I say that there are Germans who are just as good as other men. Whatever may be the nationality of the proprietor of the local factory, those employed in it are, for the most part, young Australians, and they are the men we are trying to help. Why should the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) raise the question of a man’s nationality?
– The man in question has been here, I believe, for fifty years. I think he is a Dane.
– I do not know what his nationality is. I ask the Acting Prime Minister (Sir Joseph Cook) to agree to the postponement of the item until the Minister for Trade and Customs, whose indisposition we regret, is well enough to attend. He is more conversant with the items in the Tariff schedule than is any one else.
– But he has done that of which the honorable member complains.
– Even so, our experience is that he is not altogether unreasonable; and ifhe would not accept the amendment, he might, at all events, be prepared to grant some measure of protection to this industry.
Question - That the words proposed to be added (Dr. Maloney’s amendment) be so added - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . .. 10
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- I move -
That the following words be added to subitem (a) : - “ And on and after 7th July, 1921, ad val., British, 20 per cent. ; intermediate, 25 per cent.; general, 30 per cent.”
Is there any chance of the Minister accepting that compromise?
– No, I shall not accept any thing.
– Are the Government going to strangle the granulated-cork industry? The people concerned are overloaded with this waste to-day; they cannot get rid of it. They are finding a difficulty in carrying on financially. I understand that granulated cork is used practically in respect of all fruits exported from Victoria.
Mr.McWilliams. - Victorian orchardists do not use the article at all. It is only employed in the packing of grapes.
– The producers of granulated cork have made a specific offer that, if they can secure an extended market, the orchardists shall have a reduction of 5 per cent, on the f .o.b. price abroad.
– Apparently, these manufacturers are in the business for the good of their health.
-This is a plain offer, equivalent to a reduction of 15 per cent, on granulated cork landed here from Portugal, Spain, or Algeria. I would not advance my argument with such earnestness if I were imposing an embargo upon a British product, but the foreign competitors pay wage rates of about 2s. per day. Australians would not work for anything like that. Will not the Government accept^ a fair compromise? No one will be adversely affected by the; proposed rates. The only outcome of their imposition will be to compel those who have a prejudice against the local article to use it, seeing that they will be unable to buy the imported cork more cheaply. I emphasize the fact that the unusual effect of increasing the degree of protection’ in the present instance will be to immediately benefit Australian users of the article.
.- Those who - pack Australian grapes for the world’s market must have the best packing they can possibly obtain. The cork dust imported into Western Australia is treated with special machines before it reaches Australia, and it is again specially treated after it arrives. Great care has to be taken that there is nothing iri the dust which could cause any friction on the face of the grape. It must be remembered that our fruit has to travel 12,000 miles to the markets of the Old World. I take it that the rubbish which has been spoken of here is not suitable for packing.
– That is right. Run down another Austraiian industry!
– If it has been so well and long established that it knows all about its business, why does it ask for special protection? It is .not the corkpacking, but the grape itself, which must be protected; and, so far as Western Australian exporters are concerned, if they can secure an Australian material which will preserve their fruit in perfection, they will certainly make use of it. Our growers will buy the Australian product if it is as suitable as the imported, but I object , to them being forced, as the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath) would force them, to pack their fruits in material that would ruin the grapes, and the growers as well.
.- I intend to continue this debate without casting any imputations or reflections. A very reasonable “case for an increase in duty has been put up. We have asked the Government why they decreased the duty that was formerly placed on granulated cork for fruit-packing purposes, and we request that it be restored. Then from honorable members in the Corner came a plea of poverty, and insinuations against the men in the industry.’ There is more than one cork merchant in this country, and most of them are good Australians, men who were born, here and have done good work. An honorable member in the Corner asked a question as to the racial origin of one of the principals of a firm of cork merchants. In answer to the honorable member, I assure him that the gentleman upon whom he has reflected is iri distinguished association with His ‘ Majesty the King, inasmuch as the racial origin of both was the same, but the cork merchant, unlike His Majesty, was not able to change his name during the war. I ask the Minister to postpone this item until to-morrow in order to consider the arguments that have been put forward; and I make this request, not in the interest of the manufacturers who are exploiting the poor farmers, but on behalf of the poor farmers themselves. Having listened to the representatives of tha farmers and noted their ferocity, their bitterness,’ and their plea of poverty, I plead on behalf of the poor miserable men upon the land for a postponement of this discussion, so that consideration may be given to their deplorable conditions. I* have always shown my sympathy with the destitute farmers and their representatives; I have voted for many items in this Tariff which would assist the poverty-stricken farming population. Firstly, they ask for a duty on peanuts, and then on bananas- ‘-
– The item before the Chair is granulated cork.
– The case for peanuts was put up by one of the most respected and brilliant members of the House, and I had to give him my support. I am merely trying to put before the Committee a few facts with the intention of showing, later, their bearing on the item now before us. Onions are a local product of vast importance to the destitute farmers and their representatives. There was no suggestion of allowing unrestricted importations from abroad which would compete with the poor farmers’ production of onions; or of maize,, or butter, or canary seed, or dried fruits, or millet. To all these pleas for relief for this destitute section of Australians, whether from five, flood, or drought, and whether by way of duties on peanuts or duties on bananas, I gave my support. But now, when we ask that a duty shall be placed upon granulated cork, irrespective of the purpose for which it is required, and that an industry which has been in existence for many years shall be maintained by the aid of the protection it has hitherto enjoyed, these representatives of country interests reflect upon the people who conduct this industry and those who advocate their cause in this Chamber. It can be safely said of all these firms that the proprietors are natives of this country, and have demonstrated their genius in the building up of an industry which is beneficial to the Commonwealth. We have put forward the facts to prove that they can furnish other industries with granulated cork; but because the representatives of the poor farmers” think that, in connexion with the packing of fruit, they can save a miserable penny, they want the cheapest product from the cheapest country on earth in respect of this, as in respect of all other commodities except those in which they have a personal and pecuniary interest. That has been their policy from beginning to end. One day they ask this Committee for relief and support, and they plead with representatives of city constituencies to vote with them in support of duties vital to their industries ; and then, when they are asked to vote for the maintenance of other industries by members who represent those industries and the workmen employed in them, they impute motives. They talk of the poor starving men on the land. What of the men whose industriesare killed by foreign importations? What of the men who built up industries under the protection of the law, which protection has now been withdrawn? What of the workers in factories employing 500 hands at one time, but forced to reduce the staff to forty or fifty hands? At this date,, when more and more industries should be built up, and when the necessity for the Commonwealth being selfcontained becomes daily more apparent, country members are opposed to the protection of any industry which conflicts with their own selfish interests. That is why we are asking the Minister in charge of the Tariff to reconsider the whole matter, and come back to the question of the alleged shortage of supplies. It has already been shown that the output of this industry is sufficient to meet requirements, as the factories are choked with granulated cork.
– What duties do they pay on their raw material?
– As much as the man who grows dried fruit pays upon his raw material.
– There is no duty on the raw material.
– It does not matter whether duties are imposed or not. The arguments which apply to other duties for which the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Prowse) voted are also applicable in this instance. I can quite understand that if this was a partisan question, or one of city versus country, members of the Country party would adopt a certain attitude, but it is not. Those who are supporting increased duties in this instance have not been hostile to every claim submitted by members of the Country party, and have not been blind or stone deaf to their appeals to protect those products which come from the farm or the garden. The Country party have asked the Government for their support, and have grabbed assistance from wherever it could be obtained; but they’ are hostile to everything but their own particular industries. Is this section to dominate the policy of this country ? I trust not. I am a strong believer in the maintenance of all ourAustralian industries, and when our factories are choked with waste material, which can be supplied at cheaper rates than importations from. Spain or Portugal, the members of the Country party should give us their support. The hand of friendship has been held out to members of the Country party on every occasion when an effort has been made to protect their particular industries. It is only fair to ask the Government to strike this item off the free list and place it where it was in the old Tariff. That is all we ask. Honorable members on this side are prepared to go on until consideration is given to our request, although the Government, with the backing of their supporters and the members of the Country party, may not be prepared to accede to our request.
.- I desire to amend my amendment so that it shall read - “ British, 5 per bent.; intermediate, - 20 per cent. ; general, 25 per cent.”
Amendment amended accordingly.
– Honorable members who are opposed to placing a duty on this commodity are utterly incapable of protecting Australian industries.
– What Australian industry is the’ honorable member alluding to?
– The cutting of corks and the disposition of the byproduct at a reasonable price.
– Is that industry to be considered to the exclusion of other industries?
– No. If there was not sufficient of this waste product to supply the fruit-packers arid those who desire to produce insulated material I would not ask for higher duties; but I have been assured that such is not the case. Cork is imported into Australia, and is then cut- into corks for various purposes, and in the cutting process there is a loss of 66 per cent.
– What duty do they pay on the raw material ?
– There is a waste of 66 per cent., and that should be regarded as a duty. It is not a question of whether the waste is suitable for fruitpacking, but it appears that consumers are determined not to use the Australian product. If they were quite frank and said that they were anxious to keep the present avenues of supply open, so that they, could force the local sellers to dispose of their product at a cheaper price, their arguments’ would be sound. But when it can be shown that granulated and insulating cork in sufficient quantities can be” supplied to meet local requirements, what more is necessary? If the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. Cameron) and the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Mackay) -could be satisfied thatsuch is the case it .would, to a great extent, alter the opinions they previously held. Iri the past they have been quite willing to protect other Australian industries. . In the cork-cutting industry, as with all other industries, the cost of the raw material is increased if marketable use cannot be found for the waste products. I do not know which State is the greatest user of granulated cork for fruit-packing, nor which State uses cork of larger size for insulating purposes; but I do know that Germany has built up its industries by making use of by-products, and I well remember how Great. Britain’s industries began to become payable to a greater degree than formerly when similar use was found for by-products. We are aware that corkcutting is carried on to an enormous degree in Great Britain, to which the honorable member for Ballarat proposes to extend a preference of 20 per cent, as against foreign countries. His proposal’ will test the loyalty of the Committee, -but the trouble is that Ministers are always too willing to placate the “bushrangers” in the Country party.
– The honorable member must withdraw that statement.
– I’ withdraw it; but it is very evident the Government are only too willing to placate the foreign Country party. Realizing that they will always get the support of honorable members of the Labour party, who, being Protectionists, must vote in the interests of those who send them here, they feel that, when it suits them to do so, they are at perfect liberty to become Free Traders to placate the members of the Country paTty.
– Why all this “ stone-walling “ ? There has been more debate over these small matters than there has been over items of ten times their importance.
– No cajoling on the part of the Acting Prime Minister will lead me from the path I have laid down, that of establishing industries in Australia. Although the Government may have sold– themselves to the foreign Country party, they ought to agree to this amendment. We have the waste product of the cork-cutting industry in Australia, and yet the Government appear to be prepared to give’ Australian fruitgrowers the right to obtain this waste product free from Great Britain.
.- - I wish to refer to an interjection which was made by the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory). I am sure that the honorable member did not intend the unkindness which his interjection conveyed. It reflected upon a gentleman who has been a friend of mine for fifty years. This gentleman came to Australia in 1852, and, is therefore, a colonist of sixty - nine years’ standing. He was born in Frankfort, before that place was compelled to become part of the hegemony of Prussia after the war of 1866, when blood flowed in the streets of Frankfort in resistance to Prussian compulsion. My old friend is one of the bravest men I have ever met.’ He is seventy-nine years of agc5 and no man can hold up a finger against him/ I only wish that we had more men in Australia of the character of my old friend, Mr. Voght. I want to see preference given to the Home Land, and especially to England, from which country my mother came. If I had a choice in the matter, I should prefer that this article should be admitted free from Great Britain, but I do desire that there should be duties of 20 and 25 per cent, imposed upon importations from other countries. I carried a knapsack through Spain, and visited factories there. I can assure the honorable member for Swan that, if he were in a position to compare the factories in Spain with the Victorian factories, he would be prepared to admit that the waste product must be cleaner iri the local f actories than it is in the Spanish- factories.
– The honorable member will admit that those who use granulated cork should be better judges of the matter than either of us.
– The conditions prevailing in the Spanish factories are. not comparable with the conditions here. Any one who knows anything of lavatory arrangements in Spain will know that ohe dare not cross a vacant block in a city or town in that country at night without a lantern. The honorable member for Swan was right in saying that granulated cork is not used in packing apples. Every one knows that each apple should be separately wrapped in paper, but cork packing is used in the shipment of grapes, plums, and fresh fruit, which require delicate handling. The honorable member for Swan was wrong when he spoke of chemically treating cork dust, because, if antiseptics are used in treating cork dust they might flavour the fruit packed in it, and especially delicate fruit like grapes.
– I have seen it done; so that the honorable member cannot bluff me in .that way.
– If the honorable member knew me better, he would not accuse me of attempting to bluff anybody. Any chemist will tell the honorable mem ber that it would be dangerous to use any antiseptic in the treatment of packing for delicate fruit like grapes.
– I never said that the cork dust is chemically treated.
– Then I misunder-, stood the honorable member. I suppose that Victoria holds its own with any other State in the export of fruit. The Company carrying on the cork-cutting industry here have agreed to supply granulated cork at 5 per cent, less than the price at which it can be placed free on board in any European port.
– Have, we that offer in the Tariff?
– After such an interjection, I do not wish to argue any further with the honorable member. In all my parliamentary experience, and I have probably discussed more Tariffs than any other member df the Committee, with the exception possibly of the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Chanter), I have never known such an offer as that to which I have referred to be made by the manufacturers of a product to the users of that product. Spain- very properly took no part in the war, and was, naturally, justified in remaining neutral, though it is true that Germany claimed that Spain had assisted her, and that German submarines were at liberty to enter Spanish ports for supplies. However, factories as conducted in Australia are, from the point of view of cleanliness, pre-eminently’ superior to those of Spain. I suggest that this item be postponed, and the’ question now in dispute left to the
Minister (Mr. Greene). If that be done, the remainder of the Tariff may, so far as I am concerned, be taken in globo.
– I beg to call attention to the state of the Committee. Q-uorum formed.’]
– I should like to quote from some authorities on the treatment of byproducts. As honorable members understand, by-products treated commercially, in many instances, make industrial operations successful; and there is some useful information concerning them in the supplement to the Australian Tariff Handbook. Coal, for instance, which is most essential to industrialism, has more valuable by-products than almost any other commodity, and the cork industry deserves consideration from this point of view.
– Hours over granulated cork ! It is wicked !
– I know that the subject of by-products is not an interesting subject to Free Traders, and that the new-found disciples of Protection will not appreciate to any degree the remarks I am about to make. The discovery of the way to make plush, a material much used by “Jeames,” made it possible, in Great Britain, to carry on the silk industry. Many new uses may be found for the byproducts of the cork industry. Granulated cork is used for fruit packing, and may be used for other packing. The honorable member for Swan is interested only in the grape industry. The grapes produced in Western Australia are of beautiful quality, and I am willing to help to establish the .export trade, but if granulated cork is wanted for packing it is not necessary to use imported cork. If those who have to use cork packing are not satisfied with granulated cork produced in Australia they are hard to please. I have endeavoured to show the Government the right path. If they refuse to be Protectionists on this commodity I cannot retaliate, as members on the other side would, by voting against them in regard to some other commodity. The Government know I am here as a Protectionist, and that I will record every Protectionist vote that is necessary, so they are careless, so far as I am concerned , and they turn down the cork industry to placate certain members on their own side. The Government will regret their action in connexion with this and other matters.
Some votes have been recorded on this Tariff which would be a disgrace to a revenue-gathering Parliament, although this Parliament professes to be protectionist. I will leave the Government to “ stew in their own juice,” and to meet all the punishment they deserve from the foreign country party.
,- I hope the Minister will agree to the amendment from this side. I am astonished at the attitude which the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) seems to be taking up. He is turning a complete somersault on the whole of his previous votes on the Tariff. I thought he would assist to establish and maintain all possible Australian industries, but he is prepared to sacrifice an infant industry like this, because it is not in operation in his electorate. I stand for Australian industries regardless of whether they axe in my electorate or not. I do not apply the test which the honorable member applies. He asks himself, “ Does it affect my electorate or not “ ?
– The honorable member is making a lying statement.
– I ask that the honorable member be made to withdraw that remark.
– I will say that the honorable member is making an inaccurate statement, if he objects to “a lying statement.” I withdraw the word “ lying.”
– The manner in which the honorable member withdraws the remark is most discourteous. I am astonished to find a large number of members prepared to sacrifice an infant industry such as this, when they should be ready to put on the buckler to protect it against, the competition of cheaplabour countries. Honorable members who stood for Protection for other industries are ready to allow the cork industry to go to the wall. We, on this side, will not permit that without a fight. The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) ‘Strongly supported the protection of tlie sugar industry and banana-growing, and to that. I take no exception ; but he’ should be consistent and lend a helping hand to the cork industry, too. A large number of those who sit on the Ministerial cross benches are waiting to record a vote which will give the death-blow to this industry , but they acted differently when their own interests were affected. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Prowse), when instructed by some one in Western Australia, changed his attitude towards the timber duties.
– It is a pity that the honorable member does not confine himself to the truth.
– The honorable member for days took up a certain attitude in regard to the timber duties, and then, on getting word from Western Australia, changed his position.
– That is an incorrect statement.
– The establishment of the cork industry is of as much importance to Australia as is the establishment of the timber industry, and I should like to persuade the honorable member to change his attitude towards the cork industry ashe changed it towards the limber industry.
– May I suggest a way out of the impasse? It is that honorable members should allow the item to pass as it stands, and the duties to be collected as they have been collected for the past six months, on the understanding that immediately the Tariff Board has been set up-
– Are you sure that you will get that Board?
– I hope that we shall. I should not think that honorable members of the Opposition would oppose its establishment. We undertake that the Board shall make it one of its first duties to inquire into the operation of this item, and to ascertain whether there is sufficient material of the right kind in Australia to meet the requirements of our fruit exporting and other industries. The Board will be able to make any recommendation at any time and for any purpose.
– If we agree to that, will you consent to an immediate adjournment?
– As I said last Friday, we are desirous of finishing the Tariff this week, and there are one or two snags ahead. After the Customs schedule we have to consider the Excise schedule.
– How far do you wish to go to-night?
– I think that weshould go as far as the phosphate item.
– What about explosives?
– That item is to be postponed.
– Suppose we pass this item, and adjourn.
– Will the Committee then help us to finish with the schedule this week? .
– The Government would have been on the rocks long ago if it had not had our help.
– I do not wish to keep the Committee sitting, but there are several Bills to consider next week.
– Well, we shall do our best.
– On the understanding that honorable members will help us to finish the schedule this week, I consent to the reporting of progress.
Item agreed to.
Item 395 (Corks), and item 396 (Antiquities), agreed to.
Item 397 (Explosives) postponed.
Motion (by Sir Joseph Cook) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- Does the Acting Prime Minister (Sir Joseph Cook) hope to conclude this week the consideration of certain Tariff items to be recommitted?
– I hope that the House will conclude the consideration of the whole of the Tariff schedule.
– I take it that the Government will not resist any reasonable move in the direction of the recommittal of items. There are one or two items which I should like to be recommitted.
– I hope we shall not resist if cause is shown for the recommittal of an item.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.39 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 6 July 1921, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1921/19210706_reps_8_96/>.