8th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Hon. J.M. Chanter) took the chair at 2.30 p.m. and read prayers.
– In view of the improved financial circumstances of the Commonwealth, will the Government consider the increasing of old-age and invalid pensions?
– All I can say at the moment is that we are facing a very serious financial position in the year which we- have just entered, and I am glad to have a little nest egg to meet the conditions ahead of us.
– In the absence of the Minister for Home arid Territories, I ask the Acting Pri-me Minister if it is a fact that, on the 8th July, the Commissioiier for Commonwealth Railways is to reduce the running on tie Hues from Darwin to the Katherine River froma weekly to a fortnightly service. In view of the tremendous set-back that that will mean to the development of the Northern Territory, and the hardship that it will impose on those who have had the courage, to settle there, I ask whether the Government cannot see their way to have the normal time-table restored?
-I shall have inquiries anade. The iGommissioner f or CommonwealthRailways . seems to have eanghf the notionthat there must be economy.
Mr.CHARLTON.- There are 400 eoal miners inQueensland whoare unemployed, and atLithgow inNew South Wales, 120 coal miners have received notice because ofthe expiration of a contract with the Victorian Government. Will the ActingPrime Minister,thore fore, take such steps as may be necessary to prevent immigrants who are cool miners from being brought here? ‘
– Immigrants are not broughtto Australia xuiless they have been approved of and- asked -for by the Governments of the States -to which they come. A coal minercannot be brought to Queensland unless Mr. Theodore has asked forhim, and cannot be brought to New South Wales unless Mr. Dooley has asked for him.
Mr.BLUNDELL. - In connexion with a case that I recently brought before the House, I have received the reply from the RepatriationCommissioners that the reason why a certain pension has -been reduced is that in their opinion thepen: sioner should not have been passed for active service abroad. I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation if it is a function -of the Commissioners to determine whether a man should have been passed for active service abroad, and if they are justified in reducing his pension because . they think that he was improperly ‘passed?
Mr.RODGERS.- It is not the function of the Repatriation Commissioners to determine whether a man should -have been ‘accepted for active service abroad, but it is their function to ascertain whether a claimant; is eligible for partieipation in the pensions scheme, and it- is -therefore necessary that the medical evidence shall be thoroughly investigated. This investigation requires a review of the medical examination passed before the man was accepted^ his medical record abroad, and the conditions governing his health at the time of his discharge. That a man was accepted for service is no guarantee that he is eligible for a pension. Eligibility for a pension is determined entirely by the fact that the soldier received injuries while on active service, or that his ‘health was -impaired by such service, or that a pre-existing trouble was aggravated thereby. Those are matters which the medical authorities rightly investigate, ‘and on their report the Commissioner ‘a determinations are based.
– In view of the fact that the timber areas and mills recently purchased in -Queensland by - the’ Commonwealth Government have been closed down, and that a large number of employees have thereby been thrown -out of employment, will the Minister ‘ representing the Minister for Repatriation state the circumstances in which the closing down took place, and the intentions of the -Government in regard to the future?
– Yesterday the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Wienholt) asked me a ..question on this subject, -and I desired -him to . put it on the notice-paper for to-day. The reply whioh I havo,;prepared dn answer to .. that question -will, I think, give the information for’ which the honorable -member asks.
-Is it a fact that -the gentleman -who controls’the-export of- eoal from. Newcastle is preventing’ the sending of ‘cOal -to ‘foreign countries:? For what reason is export-so ‘prevented?
-Theofficer ref erred to is merely taking’ care, ‘in ‘terms of the original agreement,that “enough coal is keptforAustraliaandfor the use of oar own -people.
– I am told that the export of coalis being presented.
– Only so far asmay be necessary to keep enough coal here. The officerconcerned would facilitate, rather than prevent, the export of any surplus.
– Can the. Acting
Prime Minister reply to ther question which. I put yesterday about the effect of the Navigation Act on Tasmanian. shipping ?
– At the present time, as the honorable member knows, there is a world-wide- depression in the shipping trade. Seaborne trade has very seriously decreased in volume in all parts of the world, including Australia and New Zealand, and shipping services have, therefore, been greatly curtailed. There is reasonto believe that the withdrawal of certain vessels from the Tasmanianservice is due to this cause alone. I understand that the “Union Company has withdrawn one or two of its large steamers, and has substituted. smaller ones for them simply because it cannot get cargo for the larger ones. The depression is affecting not merely the Commonwealth lines, but all shipping lines. It is to it, rather thanto the Navigation’’ Act, I think, that we must attribute much, of the inconvenience that is now being suffered. The Government” certainly intend, as far as they have the power to insure Tasmania,, as well as every other part of theyCommonwealth, an adequate shipping service, and I hope I have given proof of that recently. There is’ no reason to doubt the assurance givenby the Commonwealth steam-ship owners that they are anxious to meet all the requirements on the coast. If itshould transpire that reasonable andadequate service is not being obtained, there is power in the Act for the Minister to exempt such service from its terms.
– Can the Acting Prime Minister give any indication when the Government are likely to introduce legislation to provide for the, proposed Constitution Convention?
– Not at present. I understand that the matter is to be. taken in hand immediately the Prime Minister returns from London.
Mr.RYAN.- When is that likely to be?
– I am afraid the honorable member will have to give long notice of that question., At the moment I cannot say.
– It is a somewhat importantquestion in view of the speech made by the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) last night.
-Hope springs eternal”!
-What has the honorable) member for Dainpier (Mr. Gregory) been doing? Has he’been saying things?He is always’ saying things in this. House ; has he been doing so outside?
– Can the Acting Prime Minister give any indication when the information required from the Commonwealth Statistician as a prelude, to preparation for a redistribution of seats may be expected ?
– The Census people have been asked to expedite the checking of . the figures, andwe hope it will not be long before we have them. At any rate, we are anxious for them at the earliest moment.
Exemptions to Colliery Proprietors
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, . upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’squestions is as follows: -
The arrangement of Senior Cadet- drills in the employers’ time was prescribed during the latter part of 1917. by the insertion of section 134 (1a) of the Defence Act.
The arrangement prior to this amendment was that Senior. Cadet drills should be held on the weekly half-holidays and at nights.
The proposal aimed at, the reduction in the number of night drills) and required that Senior Cadets should be paid by their employers for any time they were absent from employment for the purpose of attending any training prescribed in the employers’ time, except any training required of the Cadets for failure to become efficient.
The annual compulsory training for Senior Cadets is sixty-four hours, and the Minister has power to prescribe the number of hours (if any) that should be performed in the employers’ time.
Approval was given for thirty-six hours out of the sixty-four hours’ trainin? to be carried nut in the employers’ time, and the proportion set down was, it is considered, a very fair one.
The interpretation placed upon this approval was tli at cadet drills must be held during the working hours of the collieries, but it was pointed out to the Department that a serious dislocation’ of work in a national industry during a critical time would be brought about by the introduction at that time (1918) of the proposal.
Realizing the seriousness of the position, particularly during such a period of’ stress, approval was given for cadet drills in all coal mining centres to be held at times that were not working hours of the collieries.
No exemption was granted to colliery proprietors, but the majority of the managers of the several mines in the Newcastle district, as in other districts, availed themselves of the special approval, and the area officers arranged the drills at times that were not working hours of the collieries.
The special approval came into operation from the 16th January, 1918, and operated till 30th June, 1921, from which date the ordinary arrangements were made to apply.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow:- 1 and 2. The Government has not insisted in the case of the Hobart agency that the agent for the Commonwealth Government Line of Steamers shall not also act as agent for other’ lines, but the agent at Launccston for the Commonwealth line, in common with the agents in the other States, does not represent any other line.
” TATTERSALLS’ SWEEP’S.”
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Will he advise the Auditor-General that Parliament requires the Treasurer’s financial Statement for the year 1920-21, with the Auditor-General’s report thereon, when the Budget statement is made?
– In all my experience I have never known the AuditorGeneral’s report to be ready earlier than November, and it has usuallybeen December. However, I am going to make a brave effort to see if I cannot get the report a little earlier. My answer, therefore, is -
An endeavour is being made to have the Financial Statement “1920-21 available to the Auditor -General in such time as will enable him to transmit it to Parliament, together with his report thereon, before the Budget Statement is delivered.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
In view of the Minister’s reply of 8th June last to my question of 1st idem regarding the internment of G. Dehle, will the Minister allow a private inquiry by a Committee composed of one or two Federal members and the Minister representing the Minister for Defence to investigate this case?
– It is considered that owing to the nature of these internments, it ‘is not in the public interests to re-open cases of this kind.
asked the Acting
Prime Minister, upon notice -
Are the members of the Wheat Board paid for their services? If they are paid, how much has been paid to each member of the Board?
– The following reply has been furnished to me by the Wheat Board: -
The Ministerial members of the Board do not receive any salary, allowances, or expenses.
The wheat-growers’ representatives are not paid any salary, but receive an allowance at the rate of £4 4s. per day while attending meetings of the Board and travelling to and from the meetings. The following is a statement of the payments made since Mav, 1910:-
– In my opinion, the honorable member for Echuca (Mr. Hill) is well entitled to the money-
These payments arc met by contributions from the various States to the Wheat Board.
asked the Acting Prime
Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
– Yesterday the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Wienholt) asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation -
I promised to supply him with an answer to-day. The answer is as follows: -
Milling operations ceased at Canungra in March last and at Beaudesert in June. Until then the Commission carried on operations to the full limit of the financial provision and storge capacity for timber at both the central depotsand mills. The Commission has considerably more timber on hand than necessary for its present requirements and for which storage and seasoning space is available. The Government regrets the necessity forthe temporary cessation of milling and consequent dislocation referred to by the honorable member, and has under earnest consideration the question of resumption of work at Canungra, and it is hoped that a very early announcement will be made as to the arrangements in this regard. There is, however, no immediate prospect of milling being resumed at Beaudesert.
It may be added for the information of the honorable member that milling operations throughout the’ State of Queensland and elsewhere have been very greatly reduced, and, in many cases, practically suspended by private mill-owners, and vast quantities of timber hare accumulated.
The Commission has also a running contract in Queensland for the supply of 6,000,000 feet of hoop pine, and the mill carrying out that contract has been working full time during the whole of this period, although other mills have had to cease operations.
Mr. CORSER brought up the following report from the Printing Committee: -
The Printing Committee have the honour to report that they have met in conference with the Printing Committee of the Senate.
The Joint Committee, having considered the papers presented to Parliament since the last meeting of the Committee, recommend that the following be printed: -
Statement of appointments by Federal Government and promotions in Federal Service since 30th dune, 1920, at salaries in excess of £350 per . annum.
Defence - Statement showing -
Names of officers appointed to the rank of major-general or higher rank in the Australian Military Forces, and particulars of pay received; and
) Amounts now paid, and the rate of pay for corresponding positions or appointments in the Commonwealth Military Forces prior to August, 1914.
Fruit - Return showing the exports of fresh fruit from each State of the Commonwealth to Great Britain from 1st November, 1920, to 10th April, 1921 -
The Joint Committee also recommend that the House of Representatives reconsider its dcoision to print the following: -
Burnett Lands scheme, Queensland -Re- port by Mr. H. S. Gullett, Commonwealth Superintendent of Immigration in Australia.
Report read by the Clerk.
Motion (by Mr. Corser) proposed -
That the report be agreed to.
.- It seems to me, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that a recommendation made by the Printing Committee in the report just read is an invasion of the privileges of this House. Some time ago a report by Mr. H. S. Gullett, Commonwealth Superintendent of Immigration, on a proposal that the Commonwealth should lend the State Government of Queensland some . £2,000,000 for closer settlement purposes on the Upper Burnett was laid on the table of the House, ‘and ordered ‘to be printed. The Printing Committee now proposes that only a portion of that report shall be printed. Is. the House, or the Committee, to have supreme control of such matters? The House having ordered that the . document be printed, I submit that it must be printed regardless of what may be the views of the Printing Committee. By way of illustration, I would point out that the present Government some time ago, wisely or unwisely, decided that the House should not be -asked to order the printing of a- certain report since it would involve considerable expense. The Government forwarded the report to the Printing Committee in order that it might determine the. question, and the Committee decided ‘not to recommend that it be printed. The Committee, however, sent the report back to the House, and thus the House itself had power to order that it ‘should be’ printed, together with the evidence accompanying it. In this case, the House having ordered a report to be printed, it should stand by its privileges, which in the past have meant so much for the liberty and progress of the people. I bring this matter forward, not because of any difference between myself and my fellow members of the. Printing Committee, but because 1 desire that the privileges of the House shall be preserved.
– I think an explanation of the position at this stage may tend to shorten the debate. The Votes and Proceedings for 25thMay last contains the following : -
Queensland Proposed Loan - Burnett . Land Scheme - Report by Mr. H. S. Gullett, Commonwealth Superintendent of Immigration on Australia, on a proposal that the Commonwealth Government should lend to the State of Queensland the sum of £2,000,000, to be expended upon the construction of railways designed to -open for closer settlement the country known as the Upper Burnett, Callide Valley, and ‘Prairie lands,’ Queensland.
Ordered to lie on the table, and to be printed.
The House, it will be seen, ordered that the report lie’on the table, and be printed. Attached to the report, however, were certain plans and other documents that were not ordered to be printed. I understand that all the Printing Committee now desires is that somealteration of that order shall be made in respectof the printing of the appendices, and, therefore, asks that the question be reconsidered. The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. West) is right in his contention in regard to the report itself. The House having ordered that a report shall be printed, the Printing Committee has no power to direct that only certain portions of that report shall be printed. In this case, however, the House failed to follow the usual practice of ordering that not only the report but the appendices be printed. The order of the House referred only to the printing ofthe report itself.
– I wasvery much surprised, to learn that the Printing Committee had recommended, apparently, that Mr. Gullett’s report on the Upper Burnett land, schema should not be printed, although the House had decided- that it should be.
Mr.Fenton. - The Committee merely asks the House to reconsider the matter.
– I think it would be. a grave misfortune if the report by Mr. Gullett on the Upper Burnett lands were not printed. In my opinion the scheme for settling soldiers on those lands is probably one of the most valuable schemes for soldier settlement within the Empireat the present time, and one regarding which information, should be widely circulated throughout not . only Australia/but also Great Britain.
– I think a little explanation might put this matter right.
– I should be glad to hear theActing Prime Minister’s explanation. I tried in vain to get a copy of the report in Melbourne, but themoment I arrived in Brisbane.I obtaineda copy from the Premier of Queensland.
. -I am surprised to hear that this document has been circulated in another State, while honorable members of this Parliament are unable to get a copy. Does the honorable member for Grampians say that the report itself has been circulated?
– Copies of Mr. Gullett’s. report.
– That, is, a very improper proceeding.
– The report became available to the press when it was submitted to the House.
– Yes, but. the honorable member for. Grampians says that the report he saw was not. a newspaper summary.
– I saw a copy of the document itself.
– Then copies: should be as’ readily available to member of this House, as to anybody in Queensland. I understand that, what thePlanting. Committee suggests is that thereport should be printed, but that the. plans which accompany, it should bo, omitted’.
– I understandthat the Committee does not object, to printing the report.
– The majority of the Committeedecided against printing it.
– I understood there would be no trouble about printingthe report itself with the photos, omittingmerely the annexed plans.
– The right honorable gentleman is wrong.
– ThenI do not know anything, about the matter.
.- As a. member of the Printing. Committee, I understand that the duty of that.. body is to investigate any matters submitted to it by the House, otherwise the. reference’ to the Committee would he a farce.We haye; on record a. report, from. a Commonwealth officer, that any honorable member can see. It is a matter that, affects, only Queensland and the borrowing of £2,000,000 for railway construction.
– Why only Queensland?’ It is a Commonwealth matter.
– The documents mainly consist of correspondence between the, Commonwealth, Government, and, the Queensland Government.
– Why would the Commonwealth Government want a report on the Burnett lands– unless- the matter were of Australian- interest ?’
– All the inf ormation that is desired can be obtained by looking at the files in the House and the report that has been submitted to us. The. report is in type in Queensland. The settlement of the Burnett, lands, is a matter affecting, the Queensland . immigrationpolicy, and the Premier of that, State says that Queensland wants no immigrants unless he can borrow £2,00.0,000 for the construction of a railway. The. printing of the report and documents would cost £160. The printing of the. maps alone would cost £102. The Printing Committee have a right to point out, that nothing is to be gained by printing; thereport, because it is already in. type, and has been distributed by the Queensland Government. It would be a waste of £160 to print a document that is already in print, and* the Committee have done their duty in calling the attention of the House to the matter.
.- That matter did not come before the Printing Committee, and we found that to’ print the report with certain appendices, maps, and plans would cost, approximately, £160. A~ discussion took place as to whether the plans should be omitted, and merely the report and photographs printed.’ The Committee decided, practically unanimously-
– Not unanimously.
– The Committee decided, practically unanimously, after considering the whole question, that to order the printing of the report by a Commonwealth officer on a land settlement scheme in only one State would be to establish a bad precedent. The South Australian Government might ask for a report on the Murray Waters scheme, and then the Committee would be asked to have that printed. The Committee decided that the Commonwealth, having borne the expense of sending an expert officer to Queensland, where he obtained a considerable amount of information, had already incurred enough expense without shouldering the additional cost of printing the report.’ We felt, also, that if a precedent were established in this instance, other States would ask for the same concession in regard to reports of purely State , interest.
.- The Printing Committee was advised that the printing of the report would cost £12, and the photographs £43, making a total expenditure of £55. The reproduction, of the maps and plans would cost an additional £102. I pointed out that these maps could be obtained from the Queensland Government at any time, and that the reproduction of them was not necessary. I further suggested that the report and photographs should be printed, at a cost of £55, because this was a matter of interest to the Commonwealth, which had specially sent an officer to report upon the Burnett lands. His. report has been submitted to the House, which decided that it should be printed. At the meeting of the Printing Committee the question arose as to whether the report alone, or the report and appendices, should be printed. I hold that the Committee should not interfere in the slightest degree with any instruction given by the House in regard to printing, But we did desire to know to what extent the instructions should be carried out in this instance. Although I do not think it necessary to spend £102 on the reproduction of maps, I think £55 would be well spent in reprinting .the report and photographs, so that immigrants desiring to come to Australia- to settle on the land would be able to consult a valuable document, obtained, printed and paid for by the Federal Parliament.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker-
– Order! The mover of the motion has replied, and the debate is, therefore, closed.
– I rose at least twice.
– But nob when the mover of the motion rose to reply. Before calling on him, I looked carefully round the chamber to see whether any other member wished to speak. I am, of course, bound by the rules, but if it is the unanimous desire of the House, the honorable member may make a statement.
.- (By leave.) - I thank honorable members for this opportunity to speak. To my mind, the motion raises a very important point : Has a Committee of the House the right to question in any way a decision of the House, or to make recommendations regarding it?
– Then why was the matter referred to the Committee?
– I take it that a Committee of the House exists to carry out the orders of the House.
– Did not the House order this report to be printed ?
– Yes. That should have ended the matter. 0
– The House merely ordered the printing of the report, the appendices not then being ready.
– I understand that the Printing Committee now recommends that the House should reconsider its ‘decision. I question the competency of the
Committee to make that recommendation. l’h-» House having directed that the report should be printed, the printing should take place. We are now being asked to rescind our decision that the report be printed.
– It is only a suggestion for the saving of a. little .money. The validity of the report is not affected.
– A matter of principle is involved. If a member objects to the printing of a paper, he should make his objection known on the motion for the printing of that paper. I submit that the House came to a proper decision in this matter, and I regret that objection to the printing of the paper has been raised by two members of my own party on the ground that Queensland is the only State affected. It is only a few days since I argued - and I still maintain - that the duty lies, not on a State, but on the Commonwealth Government, to make provision, for the immigrant’s brought here, and to provide for the repatriation of our soldiers. On the Burnett we have an area of Crown land capable of settling no fewer than 10,000 persons.
– I hardly think that the honorable member is in order.
– I am giving reasons why the House should not rescind its decision ‘ to have the paper printed.
– You are opening up the whole question.
– Two of my colleagues have given reasons why the paper should not be printed. They say that it affects one State only, whereas I maintain that it affects the whole Commonwealth. I wish to dissociate myself from the narrow view that Queensland is the only State ‘ concerned in this proposal for settlement. The Commonwealth Ministry, I take it, asked for Mr. Gullett’ s report, believing that they are responsible for the provision of money for the development of these lands. I understand that they have under consideration a proposal for advancing money to make these lands available for the settlement of immigrants and for the repatriation of soldiers; and, to ascertain whether they would be justified in making an advance, they sent an officer to report on the whole scheme. That officer’s report was prepared for the information of, not the Government of Queensland, but the Government of the Commonwealth, and it is our duty to see that it is made available to us and to the public. The scheme with which it deals is one of the largest and most important in Australia, and the views of Mr. Gullett should be made widely known, which is possible only by the printing of the report. I think that we should not rescind our decision to have the report printed.
– As a member of the Printing Committee, I ask for permission to say a few words.
– I object.
– I ask leave to make ‘a statement on the subject. .
– I object.
– I propose to submit, first, to the House the question that certain papers mentioned by the Printing Committee, other than the report, on the Burnett lands be printed, and then to submit the question that the Burnett lands report be printed. .
Question - That the papers, other than the report on . the Burnett lands, be printed - resolved in the affirmative.
– May I suggest that we should negative the proposal of ;the Printing Committee? I am sure that the members of the Committee will understand that no discourtesy to them is intended.
– Other members who wished to address the Chamber were not given leave to do so; therefore, I object to the Acting Prime Minister speaking now.
– I wish to show courtesy to your leader. .
– Then I withdraw my objection.
– The question I now submit is -
That the decision to print the paper, “ Burnett lands scheme, Queensland, Report by Mr. H. S. Gullett, Commonwealth Superintendent of Immigration in Australia,” be rescinded.
Question put. The House divided.
Majority . .. ‘ . . 17
Question so resolvedin the negative.
The. following papers were presented : -
Quarantine Act - Regulations AmendedStatutory Rules 1921, Nos. 98, 105, 106.
In Committee of Ways and Means:
Consideration resumed from 6th. July. (vide page 9764).
Explosives, viz.: -
Cartridges, n.e.i., ad val., British, 15 per cent.;, intermediate,. 25 per cent.; general, 30 per cent.
Fireworks, ad val., British, 25 per cent.; intermediate, 30 per- cent.; general,40 per cent.
Fuse, n.e.i., per coil of 24 feet or. less, and in proportion for any greater quantity, per coil,. British, id. ; intermediate, 3d.; general, Jd.; and on and after 1st July, 1920,. per coil, British,1d.; intermediate,1½d.; general, 2d.
Powder, sporting; wads for cartridges, n.e.i.; caps, percussion;cartridges for military purposes; detonators.; cartridge cases, empty, capped, or uncapped; fuse cotton.; mining fuses, electrical, ad val., British, free; intermediate, 5 per cent.; general, 10 per cent.; and on and after 1st July, 1920, ad val., British, 15 per cent.; intermediate, 20 per cent.; general, 25 per cent.
Explosives, n.e.i., ad val., British, free ; intermediate, 5 , per cent. ; general, 10 per cent.; and on and after 1st January, 1922, ad val., British, 15 per cent.; intermediate, 20 per cent. ; general’, 25- per- cent.
Wads, felt, for cartridges,, ad. val., British, 20 per; cent.; inter-mediate 25 per cent.; general,. 35 per cent.
.- I desire to place before the Committee two Teasons, which I hope will prove to be substantial, why explosives should be admitted frea. The first reason is that a monopoly controls the manufacture of explosives in Great Britain, and that the Australian industry which we are asked to foster is merely an offshoot of that monopoly. During the war this monopoly charged considerably more for their explosives-
– Why not?
– This monopoly charged considerably more for their explosives in Great Britain than they charged for them in Australia, in consequence of there being competition here at that time. The next reason I submit why explosives should be admitted free is that in the interests of life and property, which ought, to be paramount, those manufactured in Australia ought not to be permitted to be used in the mines.
– The honorable member is taken with a spasm of Free Trade!
Mr.CHARLTON.-I shall justify- the faith; that is in me before I sit down; and that ought to he- -acceptable to the Com-? mittee. There is not a shadow of doubt as to the existence of this, monopoly. This is clearly shown in the report of the Inter-State Commission, together with the- fact that the industry here is merely an offshoot of the British organization. I shall not read a newspaper, clipping- I have, which shows that in 1919 this monopoly was being formed at Home,, but I wish to place before honorable members tlje following extract from the report of the Inter-State Commisr sion : -
It is apparent from the. evidence of Mr.G. A. Evans, manager of the Australian Explosives and Chemical Company Limited, of Melbourne, and chairman of the High Explosives Trade Association in. Victoria, that the Australian Explosives and Chemical Company Limited is ke,pt in existence by the Nobel Dynamite Trust Company Ltd., and. in the opinion- of: the Commission, it is so kept 1b existence for. the sole, . purpose, of . giving colous to the. idea, that there is, an. independent Aus? tralian industry. Its output is trifling. It is contended that ‘its products enter into com: petition with the products of the great- explosives manufacturing linns who constitute the High Explosives Trade Association. Its prices are regulated by that association, and they must not exceed or bc less than those charged by the world’s greatest manufacturers. The relative costs of production at Deer Park, Melbourne, at Glasgow, and at Hamburg were not permitted to enter into consideration of the question. In the opinion’ of the Commission, tlie local factory is not a hon& fide effort to establish an Australian industry-
That opinion must carry some weight.
It would appear to be kept on foot” merely for the purpose of imposing on the minds of the authorities the presumption that competition from South -Africa might vitally affect an Australian industry. There is, at present, no Australian industry of high explosives in existence which answers to the ordinary acceptation of the term. This question of the supply of explosives is of supreme importance to one of our chief primary industries.
The report further states: -
We-may,’ therefore, say, that on the average, there are 100,000 employed in the mines here. Yesterday, or the day before, a statement from this monopoly company was read here to the effect that those engaged in the manufacture of explosives in Australia number 400 or 500. I again emphasize the fact that the industry here is merely a branch of that monopoly which is regulating prices and exploiting the public of Great Britain; and yet we are asked to penalize 100,000 men in order to provide employment for 400 or 500 men -
Notwithstanding the immense mineral resources of Australia, and the great possibilities in the development of our mining industry, the above figures disclose a regrettable decrease -which has been persistent for several years - in the number of .persons employed. In the cost of mining, particularly in respect of miners who have but little capital, the question of the price of explosives is a most serious consideration.
I wish honorable members to note that -
Whilst the Explosives Combine, known as the High Explosives Trade Association, controlled the Australian market, the prices compared with those since the inception of competition by the Cape Explosives Works Limited were excessive, and there can be no doubt of the ; truth of -the statement that .the local “mining, industry is under a great debt to the Cape Explosives Works Company,” and “that it would be a calamity to us from a mining point of view if South African explosives were kept .out.”
The Inter-State Commission also states, what I know to be true, that the coal miners themselves have to pay for the explosives they use. In the case of the metalliferous mines, the employer is charged with, the cost, and, if abnormal prices are levied, they are a tax upon the industry. The Inter-State Commission pointed out in its report that -
The present discriminating rates of duties are to the advantage of the European Combine, and to the disadvantage of the miner. The Cape Explosives Company Limited is hampered to the extent of 5. per cent., which is a serious handicap in the face of fierce competition. As a co-operative effort in supplying explosives at a fair cost, the company should not be under any disadvantage.
At present it can only do business in Australia when large contracts are obtainable, and it may be anticipated with certainty that if this independent competition 13 destroyed the prices for explosives will be immediately restored to their former high level.
It pointed out further that -
The Australian Explosives and Chemical Company Limited is owned and controlled by the Nobel Dynamite Trust Company Ltd., in respect of which it was cabled to the Melbourne press from London, on 11th August, 1915, that-
The Nobel Dynamite Trust Company, with the sanction of the British Government, has arranged to sell the company’s German assets to the Norddeutsche Bank, in consideration of the bank surrendering 1,800,000 of the company’s ordinary shares, or paying compensation for any shortage. Nobel’s German assets consist mainly of a large holding of shares in Nobel’s Explosives Company, Glasgow, and investments in the Alliance Explosives Company, and the Australian Explosives- and Chemicals Company. The directors, therefore, recommend that the Trust be wound up, and the British assets transferred to ‘Nobel’s Explosives.
The recommendation of the Commission was as follows: -
In the opinion of the Commission, the Tariff disadvantage (5 per cent.) to high explosives from South Africa is detrimental to the interests of the mining industry of Australia, and lessens the chance of return freights for our export trade with .South Africa, and it is, therefore, recommended that the preference now extended to the United Kingdom on high explosives may also be extended to ‘South Africa.
That supports the first point that I desire to make in regard to these duties.
The Commission shows clearly that the Australian Company is only an off-shoot of a British company which was charging the British public more than £1 per box in excess of the price that it was asking for its explosives in’ Australia^ where it had to compete with explosives manufactured in South Africa.
I come now to what, to me, is the paramount consideration. If explosives manufactured here are allowed to be used in our mines without being submitted to a proper test to determine whether they give off a name, we shall run serious risk of disastrous explosions occurring in cur mines. We “have had quite anumber of explosions in the mines of this country. We all remember the Dudley mining explosion, and also the explosions in the Bull and Mount Kembla mines at a time when we were using explosives that were not on the permitted list. Since then it has been made obligatory that explosives used in the coal mines of New South Wales shall beon the permitted list. We have no testing station in Australia, and, that being so-, locally manufactured explosives are not tested. We are told that they are manufactured here according to a standard which is adopted in Great Britain, and, since British explosives made according to that standard are on the permitted list, their use here is also permitted. But is it safe toallow explosives that have not been tested to be used in gaseous mines, where, by the ignition of a spark, a serious explosion might occur, and send hundreds of men to eternity ? Is it reasonable to say that, because the local company is an off-shoot of a company carrying on operations in Great Britain, where its explosives are tested, the explosives manufactured by the off-shoot here shall be used in our mines, although they are not tested?
– Does the honorable member challenge the quality of the local article ?
Mr.CHARLTON. - I am told that it is very inferior.
– Is it not a fact that itis made according to the recognised standard?
– It may be made according to the recognised standard, but we have no testing station here, and, therefore, cannot determine whether or not it is up to that standard. As far back as 1913, I brought before the House the importance of establishing, a testing station in Australia in order that we might manufacture explosives that could be safely used in our mines.
– It is represented to me that the locally manufactured explosives are made to standard specification of the “ Rotherham Test,” England, and other British statutory tests, and are the safest in the world.
– I repeat that there is no testing station here, and that being so, the local manufacture of explosives cannot be tested.
– Is there a testing station in South Africa?
– The South African explosive is tested.
– That is not so.
– Here is a certificate from. South Africa. When interrupted, I was pointing out that, in 1913, I brought this question of a testing station before the House with the result that the honorable ‘ member for Yarra (Mr. Tudor), who was then. Minister for Trade and Customs, caused an investigation to be made. Unfortunately the war broke out before finality could be reached. In T915, however, I again brought forward the matter, and in- July of that year I received from the then Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Tudor) the following letter: -
I beg to forward herewith for your information copy of a report by the Federal Analyst on the subject of the establishment of a Commonwealth testing station for explosives.
The report reads as follows: -
A supply of blasting explosives for coal and ore mining is at all times of vital necessity to Australia. Without coal our railways, shipping, and manufacturing industries generally would be paralyzed, as these are dependent on coal as the primary source of energy.
Practically the whole of the supplies of blasting explosives used in the Commonwealth are imported. During the year 1013 the value of the imports of explosives reached £570,000.
It is possible to make explosives of the kind required for coal mining in Australia. Much of ‘the raw material, however, for this purpose has to be imported. The production of all the necessary materials for explosives manufacture should be undertaken within the Commonwealth, in order to insure that this country should be no longer completely dependent on the supplies of materials from abroad. Obviously, if it should happen at any time that the Navy of the Empire failed, even temporarily, to command the sea, the importation of explosives and materials used for their manufacture would be stopped, and as no large reserve is stored in the Commonwealth, our industries, railways, and shipping’ would cease, or be very seriously hampered, through shortage of coal.
The establishment of a Commonwealth testing station for explosives would be an essential step towards the encouragement of the local manufacture of blasting explosives. It would enable explosives manufacturers in the Commonwealth to have these products ex-: peditiously tested in regard to their degree of safety for coal mining, and, perhaps indirectly, afford a stimulus to Australian inventiveness. The question of cost of the station, whilst not unimportant, has been possibly made too prominent; it should more correctly be deemed of relative importance only, and subordinated to the prime question of national efficiency.
The testing station should be installed, primarily, for the examination and testing of explosives intended for coal mining purposes. It is considered desirable that the closest uniformity of practice should obtain in” relation to the testing system officially adopted in the Motherland. In order to fully obtain this objective, the testing installationshould reproduce the essential features of the larger gallery recently established by the Home authorities at Rotherham. Theorotherham Testing Station is the direct outcome of the recommendations of the British Departmental Committee of 1006, and is, in its newer features, based on the Belgian Testing Gallery erected at ‘Frameries. …..
– It would differ here also very materially.
– Yes. The report proves that, from the stand-point of safety of those employed in , our mines, it is essential to establish here a station for the testing of explosives.
I asked the New South Wales Government for the names of the “ permitted “ explosives now in use in that State, and was supplied with the following : -
List of Permitted Explosives
A list of the permitted explosives now in use is given below:- Abbcite, Al Monobel, Ajax Powder, Bobbinite (2nd definition)?, Cambrite, Duppnt Permissible No. 1, Dynobel, Giant Coal Mine Powder, Kynarkite, Excellite, Gelignite (limited to certain collieries), Ligdynite, Monarkitc, Miner’s Friend No. 7, Monobel No. 1, , Neonal, Bit-Ite No. 2, Quarry Monobel, Bed H Dynamite^ Rippite, Samsonite, Stanfordite, Storaonal No. 1, . Sunderite1, Super-Exccll-ite, Super-Excellite No. 3, Super-Koiax, S’uperKelax No. 2, Super-Bippite,, Victor Sowder, Viking Powder No’. 1, Viking, Powder No. &, Westonite No. 3.
– There are thirtyfive. It is absolutely necessary that these different classes of explosives should be available, since there is a variation in the coal found in the different mines, and very often a variation in the coal found in one mine. Certain explosives will not do the work required in some cases, and the miners therefore must have a choice of explosives. I want to satisfy honorable members of the importance of the point I am raising. I have here a copy of the plans of the gallery for testing explosives in Great Britain, which I obtained for the information of the Committee from the Department of Mines, New South Wales. A glance at these plans will convince honorable members that it is of the utmost importance that a testing station to deal with these explosives should be established in the Commonwealth. The honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) was interesting himself in this question even before I was returned to this Parliament, and some eighteen months ago he joined with me in approaching the Acting Prime Minister at that time, who stated that he would communicate on the subject with the expert at the Cordite Works, Maribyrnong. As a result of his representations that expert waited on us but said that at that juncture he could not consider the’ question of erecting a testing station, although he hoped to be able to do so later on. There is ample evidence that fracteur for use in coal mines must be tested. During the war period, we had to use practically anything that came to hand because of the lack of supplies and very often the mines were closed because of the inferiority of the explosives available. Here is a letter dated 11th May, 1921, from Mr. Brennan, Secretary of the Northern District Branch of the Australian Coal and Shale Employees Federation, which still further emphasizes the point I am making -
In further reference to the matter of explosives, I beg to inform you that there is great dissatisfaction at Dudley and’ Burwood collieries, owing to the failure of Nobel’s people to keep them supplied with the explosives which they have been accustomed to use, and which has evidently giventhem the best results. ‘
The explosive they have been using is Quarry Monobel, but owing to their inability to obtain same, the result is that their explosives bill at the end of the fortnight is almost double what it was previously, for the reason that they arecompelled to use unsuitable explosives, which are thrust- upon them-.
The Dudley miners have been dealing direct with Nobel’s for their supplies for some considerable time, and store such supplies in the magazine at the colliery. Iff February of this year they Signed up a contract with these people to be supplied with Quarry Monobel, but have had only two small supplies of same, and have to be content with whatever the company think fit to dump in upon them without consulting them in the matter. Consequently the men there are very dissatisfied, and are almost on the point of stopping, as no satisfaction can be obtained locally; the only reply they get through the agent being that he is unable to obtain supplies of this explosive.
Mr. Cant, the representative of the Dudley Company, has done his best in the matter of getting in touch with’ Nobel’s representative, and has gone to Sydney to-day for the purpose of interviewing him in the interests of the men and peace at the colliery.
I am writing as I thought this information may be useful to you, as it goes to show that these people, who desire a monopoly, are not able to1 supply orders for a particular and suitable explosive, but forward any substitute, without consulting their customers in the matter.
P.S, - Re the contract referred to, I may state that we have had legal opinion, and find that it is so drawn that our chances of success in an action are nil.
That letter shows that the explosives supr plied locally are inferior, that because of that menhave been unable to do their work, and that the collieries have had to lie idle.
– Does not that letter prove the necessity for giving protection sufficient to properly establish the industry in Australia ?
– I have always argued that in order to be prepared against war we should be self-contained in respect of all munitions, and the authority to attend to that is the Government. The Commonwealth should establish a factory, and not be dependent on any private individuals or companies for supplies of explosives. I do ask the Committee to realize the danger that attends the use of the locally-manufactured explosives under present conditions. Unless a testing station is established to give a certificate that all explosives are up to the prescribed standard, we are not justified in permitting men to go into the bowels of the earth and take great risks. Some years prior to the war a company started manufacturing an explosive in the western district in my electorate, but the company made the mistake of investing their capital and manufacturing the explosive before ascertaining whether they would be allowed to dispose of it to the mines. I went into a mine with an inspector to test the explosive, and we were quite satisfied that it was not emitting any flame; but the company could’ not have the article placed on the permitted list unless it was certificated at a testing station in the Old Country. That was an effective bar to its use, because either on the voyage to England it would deteriorate, or the influence of the Combine in England would be exerted to prevent any competitors establishing themselves in Australia. In that way Australia, when attempting to get any locallymanufactured explosive on the permitted list, was at the mercy of the Combine controlling the explosives market on tlio other side of the world. The company to which I have referred established their industry without any fiscal assistance, and it would have been a great thing for Australia if their product could have been placed on the permitted list; but there was no testing station in Australia, and the officials of the Department of Mines could not be expected to permit the use of an explosive that had not been tested. One honorable member has said that there is no testing of explosives in South Africa. I have here a certified copy of a certificate issued by Major A. Cooper-Key, Chief Inspector of Explosives in Great Britain -
I hereby certify this to be a true copy -
Chief Inspector of Explosives. 13th September, 1916
This is to certify that ligdynite of the following composition: -
manufactured at the Cape Explosive Works Ltd., at their factory at Somerset West, Cape Province, South Africa, was tested at the Home Office Testing Station, at Eotherham, in the county of York, England, On the 11th day of August, 1916, and passed the official test laid down by the Home Office memorandum of May, 1912, for inclusion in the list of ‘.’ Permitted Explosives” in the First Schedule of the Explosives’ in Coal Mines Order of the 1st September, 1913, regulating the supply, use, and storage. of explosives.
A copy of the definition and conditions as to use under which, if intended for use in the United Kingdom, it would have been included in the First Schedule are attached hereto. (Signed) A. Cooper-Key, Major,
H.M. Chief Inspector of Explosives
Home Office, Whitehall, S.W., 13th September, 1916
That certifies that the. explosive which is coming into competition with the product of the Combine in Australia has been tested and is on the permitted list. The honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) asked whether it was not a fact that the South African manufacturers used the same ingredients as does the Combine in Australia; but I ask him whether the Australian Combine sends its explosives to the Old Country to be tested?
– Has the honorable member any proof of that? . I have produced an actual certificate in relation to the South African product, and I say that the explosives manufactured in Australia are not tested. I think I have made out a good case against the imposition of duties ion explosives. I have shown how essential it is for the preservation of human life, which is paramount to every other consideration, that we should permit explosives to be imported as cheaply as possible until the Commonwealth establishes its own factory and a proper testing station. I give this assurance - that if the Government will establish an explosives factory with a testing station the miners will give them every assistance and will not hesitate to use the explosives manufactured in this country. It is because of the danger to human life that we are opposed to the use of untested explosives, and, having worked underground and knowing the danger of gaseous mines, I would be recreant to my duty if I did not tell the Committee before coming to a decision on this item the menace to which men may be subjected. Explosives should be admitted free. There is *in Australia a monopoly through the operations of which the prices are being kept up. The prices were lowered during the war only when the South African manufacturers commenced sending explosives to Australia. I noticed that in the South African Parliament a few days ago a question was. asked as to whether it was a fact that after all South Africa had done for Australia during the war the Commonwealth Parliament was about to impose a high duty on explosives. I argue this question on national grounds, and I assure the Committee that unless the explosive industry is placed on a safe footing thousands of lives may be lost.
– I call attention to the state of the Committee. [Quorum formed.’]
– I give notice of my intention to move -
That sub-item (e) be amended by the addition of the following words: - “And on and after 8th July, 1921, British, intermediate, and general, free.”
– I rise to support the remarks of the honorable member for Hunter, but I desire to first call attention to the item of cartridges. There has teen a great deal of talk during the Tariff debate about the encouragement of Australian industry. We have been told to-day that the manufacture of cartridges in a big way has been started in Australia. That is not true. There is, near Melbourne, a factory in a building about 20 feet by 40 feet, and employing four girls and six men, allegedly for the manufacture of cartridges, but all that is being done is to assemble parts and ingredients imported from abroad. Yet the -high Protectionists will tell us that this is a big Australian industry that should be fostered, and that if we do not protect it we shall be striking a blow at the defence pf Australia.
– To which factory does the honorable member refer?
Mr. FOLEY. Kynock’s. Another company has a contract with the Australian Government for the manufacture of cartridges, and no other concern is allowed to make them. The imposition of this duty on cartridges will do incalculable harm to those men throughout Australia who make their living by the rifle. For instance, there are men who make a livelihood at kangaroo shooting, and the prices already charged for cartridges are very high, and will be higher if the local manufacturers are given a monopoly. Thus the riflemen may be deprived of their means of subsistence. I ask the Minister to reduce the duty on cartridges, and if he will n”t do that, I ask him to defer it for some time in order that those people who are in the trade, and those who live by the rifle, may have an opportunity of getting in supplies and making their business arrangements for three or four years ahead. The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) and myself both represent mining constituencies, and we agree in the opinion that the explosives needed for mining should be admitted free of duty. The explosives made in Australia are, in some ways, deleterious to the health of the coal miners, as the honorable member will explain more fully. I shall proceed to show that the proposals of the Government are in the interest of a small concern, which is part of a big Combine, that in 1908 let Australia see what it would do if it ever had full control of the explosives market. The pre-war price, at Kalgoorlie,1 of blasting gelatine was £2 lis. 3d. per ton, and the present price is £4 10s. 3d.; the pre-war price of blasting dynamite was £2 10s. 3d., and the present price is £4 9s. 6d. ; and the pre-war price of standard gelignite was £1 19s. 3d., and the present price *£3 10s. The dearness of gelignite is hitting the mining industry very hard: It must be remembered that the Western Australian mining industry is not as efficiently staffed now as it was before the war. Western Australia sent to the front the 11th, 16th, and 28th Battalions, and, as statistics show, there were only two other battalions that suffered as severely as they did. Consequently, great numbers of good, efficient, well-skilled miners who were formerly at work in Western Australia are now out of the industry, and others have to be educated to take their place. The Committee may be told that ore is being broken at a lower price per ten with Australian explosives than it used to be broken for with the explosives imported from the other side of the world ; but that is not the case. Before the war, the Western Australian mines broke ore per ton per man at a lower rate than it was broken for in South. Africa with the employment of black labour. In making the comparison, the cost of developmental work in Western Australia was included.
To-day, however, there is no developmental work, because the prices of commodities have become too high. I wish to put up the fight of my life against this item, because the life of the mining industry of Western Australia is at stake; and, as my friends from that State will bear me out, it is the mining industry that provides ready .money for the working of many of the other industries of the State. In 1920,. when a member of the Parliament of Western Australia, I was urging the Government of the State to do all that it could to assist mining; and, in the course of my speech, made a comparison of the prices of a number of commodities, giving the rates before the* war, in .1918, and in 1920. For instance, borax, which is extensively used in mining, cost £55 19s. per ton before the war, £127 19s. in October, 1918, and £133 19s. 3d. in 1920. All my figures were taken from invoices for goods delivered at the mines, and I saw the invoices and the receipts for payment. Another commodity mabo- cost £41 9s. 4d. before the war, £97 8s. 2d. in 1918, and .£97 8s. 2d. in 1920. Gelignite cost £1 18s. 4d. before the war, £2 4s. 4d. in 1918, and £2 16s. lOd. in 1920.
– I call attention to the state of the Committee. [Quorum formed.]
– The figures I have given were not prepared to make out a case against this item; they were collected a year ago, when I had no intention of seeking a seat in this Chamber. In 1908, the Nobel Combine was a combination of British and German interests, the British and the German Nobel companies being practically one organization. At that time most of the contracts for the supply of f fracteur to Western Australia were let in London. The contract would be for the supply of fracteur that could be used in a White Australia. Now, there have been circulated to members, copies of a pamphlet showing three or four niggers conversing in pidgin English about the White Australia policy -L but I shall show that I am consistent, and that I support that policy. The Nobel firm, having its headquarters in Glasgow, would get a contract,’ and not being able to’ supply from Glasgow material manufactured by white labour, would supply from factories in South Africa, where 80 per cent, of the labour was black. I yield to no man in this Chamber in my consistency to the
White Australia policy ; but I consider the pamphlet to which I refer an insult. Those who caused it to be circulated are pandering, to the lowest instincts of humanity, while trying to make it appear that they are appealing to the highest interests of Australia. Nobel’s, of Glasgow, have been putting into Australia a fracteur which is as much a black-labour product as that of the Cape Explosives Company, the only difference being that the latter company said straight out that their products were made with black labour, while the Nobel people tried to make out that they were selling whitelabour fracteur.
– There are no black men working in the factory here.
– From 1908 up to 1914 this fracteur was brought out here, and any one who goes to the factory iu Australia can see the stuff being reconditioned. That is done because the Australian establishment is really part of the self-same Combine which is making this fracteur under black labour in South Africa. Let me read, the following : -
The following twenty-one companies have, amongst others, been amalgamated into Nobel Industries Limited, which has an authorized capital of £18,000,000:- Alliance Explosives Company Limited, Australian Explosives and Chemical Company Limited, Bickford, Smith and Company Limited, Bennet, Wm., Sons and Company Limited, St. Helens Electric Fuse Company .United Safety Fuse Company,Birmingham Metal and Munitions Company Limited, British Explosives Syndicate Limited, British South African Explosives Company Limited, British Westfalite Limited, Cotton Powder Company Limited, Curtis’s and Harvey Limited, E.C. Powder Company -Limited, Eley Brothers Limited, Eley Brothers (Canada) Limited, Abbey Improved Chilled Shot Company Limited* Elterwater Gunpowder Com,pany Limited, King’s Norton Metal Company Limited, Kynock Limited, Kynock-Arklow Limited, National Explosives Company Limited, New Explosives Company Limited, Nobel’s Explosives Company Limited, Electric Blasting Apparatus Company Limited, Patent Electric Shot Firing Company Limited, Roburite and Ammonal Limited, Sedgwick Gunpowder Company Limited, Schultze Gunpowder Com1pany Limited, W. H. Wakefield and Company Limited. ‘
Lam against Combines, and I am taking advantage of the first opportuniy I have had of -putting up a- fight against one. I have no desire, to see black-labour stuff iii Australia. ,
– You have; your action can have no other result.
– At any rate, the miners of Kalgoorlie are backing me up. This company has eaten up every bit of competition possible for them to absorb. On the 4th July this year there was a paragraph in the Age to the effect that proposals were being made’ for the taking over by, or the amalgamation of, certain chemical works with the company which operates the munition works on which we must depend in case of war.
– The Government have taken those works over.
– That is not so; I defy any one to point out to me the name of any Government official in the public announcements regarding the matter. I would strenuously oppose leaving the defence of Australia in the hands of any persons, or a company, who elsewhere are engaged in making munitions of war which might be used against us and the Empire. Further than what it can make out of Australia, the Combine has no interest at all in this country; indeed, I have heard, on good authority, that it is not the desire of the Combine to have fracteur manufactured here; and, further, that certain proposals have been made by the satellites of the Combine to the Department of Trade and Customs. I am informed, and I believe it to be true, that these representatives of the Combine suggested that, the Tariff should be so framed as to admit the British product free, with 20 per cent, against all other countries.
– Who were the parties to the arrangement the honorable member speaks of?
– The representatives of the Combine.
– Where do the Western Australian mines get their explosives)
– I have just struck one of my deaf moments. This suggestion of the Combine clearly shows that those concerned in it desire to cut out all competition. As to standardization and inspection, . which have been referred to, I should like to quote the opinion of Mr. Mann, the Chief Inspector of Explosives in Western Australia, whose opinions I value, although I have in past years come into conflict with him because on matters of policy, I contended I had as much knowledge and as much right to speak as himself. However, Mr. Mann is a good chemist, who has been engaged in this analytical work for many years, and in bis annual report he says -
It is very probable that in future the whole method of conducting the explosives trade in this State will be very considerably modified through the combination of explosives interests which has taken place by the formation of a powerful syndicate known as Explosives TradesLimited. The full effect of this cannot yet be seen, but it would appear as though the element of competition will be largely done away with. It is probable that this will throw greater responsibility upon this department, demanding greater care in the supervision of the quality of the explosives used. One immediate result of the changed conditions has been the accumulation of importations in very large shipments- at longer intervals than hitherto, and the question has arisen, with a view to the safety of the port of Fremantle, whether the size of these shipments should not be restricted.Representations have been made to importers on the matter, and it is hoped that it will not be necessary to use statutory measures in order to bring this about.
That is the opinion of a man who knows, and who has the control of every case of fracteur that goes into the mines of Western Australia.
– Where does that fracteur come from?
– I, not the honorable member, am making this speech. During the war, conditions arose in Western Australia of which, perhaps, honorable members are not aware. The Imperial Government then did everything possible to maintain supplies, and on representations having been made that there was a shortage, they sent out explosives. These, however, were of a higher grade than usual, and for a long time they were kept stored in the magazines, because the Federal authorities would not allow them to be used. Then the State Government stepped in and forbade the use of the sodium nitrate explosive. This is the explosive mostly used in Western Australia, supplied by the Oape Explosives Company; and pressure was brought to bear, even on the inspector in that State, to prevent its use. Those engaged in mining, from their experience, knew that this explosive was superior to other fracteurs, and perfectly safe to use; and the word of first class chemists to the same effect was certainly good enough for the miners of Western Australia. Mr. Wainwright, a mining manager at Broken Hill, showed in practice that the nitrate sodium explosive is just the same as any other. This is the explosive that is being made in a factory in Australia, and everything necessary for its manufacture is imported.
On the one hand we have the mining industry, which employs thousands of men with good wages and under good conditions, and which has brought millions of money to Australia, and, on the other, we have an industry employing 250 hands, the majority of whom are juniors and girls. Which are we going to sacrifice. I defy any honorable member to dispute that statement.
– I can disprove it. They are all unionists.
– I also am a unionist. The overwhelming weight of evidence is -that the Cape explosives are, from the point of view of strength, safety, and the health of the miners using them:, quite as good as those . manufactured by the Combine. In 1908 Nobel’s had sole control of the market here and put up their prices. The Cape company then came to the rescue of the miners and gave them at a fair average price a fracteur which was quite’ the equal of that produced by the Combine. Surely the South African company is worthy of consideration. I shall not go into the question of the importance of this matter to the coal mining industry, because I have done little or no work in a coal mine. I have, however, worked in gold mines, and I would remind the Committee that no industry has done more for the Commonwealth than has the mining industry, which at the present time is under a severe strain. The miners themselves desire that the Cape fracteur shall not be handicapped out of the market. It is true that that fracteur is manufactured by black labour, but 80 per cent. of the labour employed by Nobel’s in the manufacture of explosives in South Africa is also black. I would sooner deal with a manufacturer who sets out fairly and squarely that his product is made by black labour and sells that’ product at a fair price, than with a Combine that tries to induce me to buy a fracteur made largely by black labour on the ground that it is made by white labour. If the honorable member for Maribyrnong examines the statistics of the Department of Trade and Customs he will see that some of the fracteur used in Australia comes from Great Britain and some from South Africa, and that only a small quantity is manufactured here. Themajority of that used in Western Australia comes from South Africa. I have nothing more to say at this stage, but I notify the Minister that I shall move later on an amendment relating to the duty on cartridges.
– I desire, as briefly as I can, to deal with this important subject.- I am sorry that the debate so far as it has gone has centred very largely round a squabble between two companies.
– I dealt with the question from a higher stand-point.
– I admit that the honorable member did. I am not concerned . with the squabble between the Cape Explosives Company of South Africa and the Nobel’s Combine, nor is Australia concerned with it, We should endeavour to deal with this question from a much higher stand-point.
– If it can be proved that . the British company has been entering into a combine, ‘ then Australia is concerned.
– As to that, I think it is only a matter of degree so far as the two companies are concerned. Both are trying very hard to supply this Committee with information. It is not from philanthropic motives, but rather because their business depends on what this Parliament does in regard to this item that they axe pouring upon us such a flood of literature. Let us be perfectly frank about the whole matter. There is no question that the Cape Explosives Company em-, ploys black labour, nor is there any question whatever that the Nobel Combine, so. far as its manufactures from South Africa are concerned, also employs black labour. That, however, has nothing whatever to do with the question from an Australian stand-point. It has been suggested that if we persisted with the duty as we have it in the Tariff schedule to-day the mining industry would be ruined. I do not believe that it would be. The total value of the annual importations under the heading of “ explosives n.e.i.,” even at the high values ruling to-day is only £58,000. The contention that the imposition of this duty, even if the whole of it were passed on, would ruin the mining industry, is ridiculous. We cannot shut our eyes to the fact that it is necessary that Australia should sooner or later have within its own borders the means of manufacturing high explosives.
– The sooner the better.
– No one can doubt that. The Committee cannot afford to lose sight of the further consideration that the laying down of a plant which is capable of being converted under war conditions to the manufacture of high explosives is also of the utmost importance. I am not suggesting that the ordinary business of manufacturing explosives is what is required for war purposes, but a factory which is laid down for the manufacture of. high explosives can at a moment’s notice be converted to war purposes, and would become then almost absolutely essential to the defence of the country. It is for that reason that the Government agreed to the imposition of this deferred duty. It is true that the Government were approached by certain gentlemen with a proposition for laying out a facv tory on a very extensive scale, which would be capable, not only of manufacturing the whole of Australia’s requirements in times of peace, but of being converted in times of stress and difficulty to war purposes. The proposition made by that company, so far as I was able to gauge it, appeared to be eminently fair. It was that the majority of the shares in the new company to. be created should be taken up by the various mining companies - that the whole business should be conducted on co-operative lines, that the company should take a fixed rate of profit, and that any profit made over and above that rate should be returned to the mining companies which used its explosives. That seemed to be a very reasonable proposition which, so far as I could judge, would leave the mining companies from a monetary point of view on possibly a better wicket than they are on to-day. It was because we believed that that proposition was going to see the light of day within a reasonable time, and that by the time the House came to consider this question the company, would have been definitely floated and well on its way, that we agreed to ask Parliament to consent to this deferred duty on “ explosives n.e.i.,” which is the important feature of this item. That was a considerable time ago, but the proposition has not fructified. For various reasons, principally, I think, owing to the financial depression, mining and otherwise, the parties have been unable to proceed. The original proposal was that the new company, when formed, should purchase the existing works at Deer Park, and extend and lay them out on modern lines as a large factory. When the parties went into the matter thoroughly, however, it was found that the Deer Park site was unsuitable. There is a run of basalt country passing through the area which would be required for the manufacture of explosives there, and the presence of basalt makes it, under certain conditions, very dangerous to manufacture high explosives. As a consequence, it became necessary to abandon the Deer Park site altogether and to go elsewhere. That led to considerable delay. Meantime the financial depression came along, with the result that the proposition is still in the air. The Government have given further consideration to this matter, and have decided to ask, the Committee to’. negative the deferred duty on “explosives n.e.i.” But we are studying the matter further in connexion with the defence scheme. Although I am quite unable to say what policy will be ultimately adapted, we cannot lose sight of this matter in connexion with the defence of the country. We feel that it is most necessary that in some circumstances we should have at our disposal the means of producing explosives, and for that reason we propose to abandon the deferred duty on “ explosives n.e.i.,” and when ‘we are considering a little later the whole question of defence this matter will receive further attention.
– Why not make the duty 5 per cent. all round? According to the Minister’s own statement, the South African and English companies are the same.
– When this schedule was framed we raised the general Tariff to 10 per cent. I was not then aware of the whole of the circumstances, but a little later I took the question to Cabinet, which authorized me to collect that duty at the rate of 5 per cent., instead of 10 per cent, as prescribed in the schedule, and to advise Parliament of what -we had done, and ask for a ratification of our action. We have not collected the 10 per cent, duty at all.
– Will the Government continue to collect only 5 per cent?
– I shall ask the Committee to make the duties - British free, and intermediate and general 5 per cent., from the date on which the Tariff was placed before the House. Under the amendment I propose to move to subitem e, “explosives n.e.i.,” which is the important one, there will be no deferred duty, bub current duties of 5 per cent, intermediate and general.
– Will the Minister say something about cartridges?
– It was our belief that the manufacture of cartridges would be undertaken in this country almost immediately. I refer to the complete cartridge, including the case, and not the mere filling of imported cases. That expectation has not been realized, but we. are very anxious that the industry should be established. Therefore, I propose to ask the Committee to amend item a by restoring the old duties of 15 per cent, and 20 per cent., with a deferred duty at the rate set down in the schedule, as from” 1st January, 1922.
– Make it 1923.
– That would be fair.
– I do not mind whether it is 1922 or 1923. I shall propose the same amendment to sub-item d, which includes cartridges, cases, and all the things connected with them. We shall collect the duties prescribed in the schedule from the 1st January, 1923, thus giving the local manufacturer eighteen months in which to get a start. I am proposing to defer this duty further because cartridge cases are not being made here, and there is no sense in charging a duty that will prevent them being brought in to be filled. We shall, however, fully. restore the duty prescribed in the schedule when the cartridge cases are made in Australia. I think these proposals will be generally acceptable to members of the Committee. We must not lose sight of the necessity for sooner or later laying’ down a plant which will be capable of conversion in war time for the manufacture of high explosives. In the meantime, as the original proposal of the local company has not yet reached the stage at which we would be justified in imposing the deferred duty on. explosives n.e.i., we propose to remove it.
.- The statement by the Minister was no surprise to me, but it is one of the worst climb-downs ever seen in this House. I shall not mince matters in regard to this item”. In my judgment, Ministers have wobbled at the knees simply because they might have been threatened with a little industrial trouble. The Government are supposed to have spine, but they have none at all; if a coal miner puts a pistol at their heads they reply, “ Don’t shoot, we will come down.” Three great combines, Dupont in America, de Beers in South Africa and elsewhere, and Nobel’s in Britain and Europe, control explosives generally throughout the world. The Minister has told the Committee of the proposal made by the local company; it was one of the fairest submitted to a Government by any private concern; but, unfortunately, the depression in the mining industry prevented the scheme from coming to fruition. The honorable members who oppose the placing, of a duty on explosives prefer to buy from men who employ niggers rather than purchase the product of those who employ Australian white men and women. What would Mr. Willis, the secretary of the Coal Miners Federation, say if I were to remark to him, “I believe that coal is raised in South Africa with: nigger labour, and I think I can purchase mv supplies cheaper there.” Willis, Charlton, and Watkins would say that it was one of the meanest and most contemptible things ever proposed by any Legislature or individual. But that is precisely the attitude of those gentlemen in regard to the manufacture of explosives. Bather than that Australian workmen should be employed to make these explosives, they will accept the product of nigger factories in South Africa. White Australia! We might as well draw a pen through those words. I belong to a party which for many years emblazoned those two words on its flag, included them on its platform, and fought elections with them. But the White Australia policy goes by the board, partly at the dictation of so-called unionists in Australia. In respect of this item the Labour party, or a section of it, is no better than the most conservative party that ever sat on the Ministerial bench. To-day the Corner party has a chance of levelling its artillery against two honorsable members on this side who’ have been fighting against the niggers of India, the Jap, and theChinaman, but who to-day are embracing the kaffir. They said in connexion with iron and steel, and I supported them, that we should prevent the white population of Australia being thrown into competition with the black labour of other countries. But to-day socalled Labour men are throwing open the gates, and saying, “ Come along, blackfellow, we will take your stuff in preference to ‘ that manufactured by our own white fellow-citizens.” I am opposed to Nobel’s, de Beers, and Dupont. We have a chance of establishing in Australia an industry that could be worked under white men’s conditions. I have no time for Nobel.He was npt a German, as some honorable members have supposed, bub a Swedish scientist and engineer, and. although he during his life-time, and those associated with him, have taken a good deal out of the public, he has left behind him a legacy that in science and peace will result in great good to the world at large. . Dupont is a young Frenchman who started his industry at Delaware, United States of America, and is now head of the big explosive combine. As to de Beers, we have only to look at the records in the Library to discover their record. The niggers they employ in South Africa are herded in compounds which are wire-netted overhead, and they cannot get in or out without a pass. Conditions of absolute slavery prevail. Yet unionists in Australia are prepared to accept the product of labour such as that. Lel honorable members consider the conditions on the Band, where these same hooknosed gentry have control, or in the diamond mines. “We read of people of old bowing down to the calf of gold, but the Australian Parliament to-day is bowing down to a set of hooknosed gentlemen, some of the greatest slave-drivers in the world, who have piles of diamonds behind them. When a man is wounded in the house of his. friends, it is time for him to speak out. I have no patience with any one who says that a slave-made product should be preferred to a white-labour product.
– I call attention to the state of the Committee. [Quorum formed.]
– The following paragraph appeared in the Sydney Daily Telegraph of 21st March last: -
Delegates waited on the Council of the Ammunition and Cordite Employees Union asking that miners should be recommended to use explosives of Australian “manufacture in their work. The Council decided that the miners should take a vote on the question.
Possibly, the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) may say that the miners have discussed this matter in their lodges, but I have so much confidence in the miners of this country that I believe that coal miners, gold miners, shale miners, and all others would sooner have a white than a black labour product.
– The miners have too much sense to believe much that has been said during this debate.
– I am willing to go with the honorable member to bis constituency and place my case against his before the coal miners there.
– Why not go to the constituency .of one of the Labour members who is opposed to the duty on explosives ?
– The Tariff affects employment and conditions of labour, and opens up many economic questions. I hope that this country may soon have established a factory for the making of explosives of all kinds much more extensive that that at Deer Park, so that when the enemy is at the gate we shall not have to depend for munitions on the niggers of South Africa. The honorable members for Newcastle and Hunter fought for having the iron used in this country made in the Newcastle electorate; why do they not fight for having -the explosives that we need made in the Commonwealth? Are they swayed one way or another- as the particular interests of constituents dictate? When the explosive works to which the Minister has referred are established, it will not be in Maribyrnong that the factory will be placed. I have heard it said that munitions are to be made at Port Kembla; but whether in the Hunter, the Newcastle, the Illawarra, or any other constituency, I would fight for the manufacture in Australia of the explosives that we need, and I shall always oppose the use of cheap labour and materials, the importation of which throws our people out of employment. In a letter which I have received from Mr. W. E. Edwards, of Loftus-street, Sydney, it is stated that a large number are out of employment in that city. I am sorry to say that there is unemployment in all our capitals, though in Australia not a man or woman should ask in vain for work. It is lack of proper organization and of inadequate Tariff protection that is responsible for unemployment in this country. The writer of this letter says -
This army of unemployed is increasing rapidly, and the distress is becoming very acute.
If seventy per cent. (70 per cent.) of what is used and consumed in Australia were manufactured in our own Continent there would be no unemployment. Our people are out of work simply because of the extent to which we employ the workers of other countries to produce the goods we require.
The - remedy .is a Tariff, and such national organization as will foster existing manufacturing industries and create new ones.
There is much other good material in his communication. I quite agree with the statement quoted. But I feel that were I to speak until physically exhausted I could not induce honorable members of the Committee to change their minds. I have endeavoured to be consistent. Recently I warned the Committee that it should beware of making this a “ piebald “ Tariff, yet now it is more black than white, and especially black at the tail end. I do not despise the black man because of his colour, but I hold that the social conditions of Australia should not be disturbed, and I would prefer to have kaffirs living in this country, so that we could control the conditions of their employment, than to accept goods made by them under conditions such as I have described. The men who control the niggers of South Africa are all-powerful on the exchanges of London, New York, and Paris; most of them Jews, wearing the German helmet. -‘They are in touch with what takes place in every Parliament in the world, and will rejoice when the result of the vote on this item is cabled to them. It will please them to find that they have secured yet another set of worshippers. Even if it were true that the Nobel Combine controls operations at Deer Park, it is, nevertheless, a fact that the average wage paid there is £4 8s. a week, while the blackfellow in South Africa gets £1 a week, or less.
I do not know what this Parliament is coming to, or what the Labour party is coming to when attempts are being made to give the nigger preference over the white man. If these attempts are to succeed I shall be ready to step out of the party, because it will be no longer the party to further whose aims I have worn out my health. It may be my lot, if I do not stand again for my old constituency, to oppose some man who has voted for preference to black labour.
– The honorable member should say that there is not a majority of the Labor party in favour of this, and that the Tariff is .not a party question.
– I admit it. It is not my policy to prefer .black labour to white, and I would not remain in a party in which there was a majority in favour of giving such preference.
– It is not the desire of the majority of the Labour members to give that preference.
– The division lists will show how we all stand. One might think that mining is the only industry in which explosives are used, but, in my constituency, at Footscray, they are used for blasting out some of the finest stone in Australia, known as bluestone, and I have a licence to use explosives, and am using them to blow up stumps in making land ready for the plough. In the interests of agriculture, we should make our own explosives, and not depend upon Combines. overseas for our supplies. If there were any chance of success there might be some reason for ..my going on fighting, but, unfortunately, the die is cast. The position reminds me of the great patriot, Gratton, who, on one occasion in the Irish Parliament, delivered himself, almost with his dying breath, of some of the most burning and eloquent words that ever fell from the lips of man.” I cannot, of course, hope to approach, even in the most feeble way, that eloquence, but he said then, as I might say now, “ I know that my words are in vain, because the Parliament has already made up its mind as to how it is going to vote.” The Minister has said that the question is . one of tweedledum, and tweedledee, but I wish honorable members to realize what the results may prove in Australia. I have no desire to use extravagant language, but I believe1 that if the duties are accepted as proposed, it will not be long before we shall have weeping women, and children in consequence of the loss of employment. And all because this Parliament has decided to take the bread away from their fellow-countrymen, and give it to black men in South Africa. The curse of it is that members of my own party are helping to do this. If this factory closes up with the results that picture themselves to me, the blame will be, not only on the Minister, but on the majority of honorable members. Sooner or later We will require this factory for our own safety, and why not firmly establish it to-day ? I am no believer in war mongering, but we never know from day to day when a spark may light the fire, and we may see the nations once more at each other’s throats. If that day should come, God help Australia, unless it has a Parliament prepared to stand by those industries which can save the position. It would not matter so much if the advantages were going to Britishers or Americans, but they are going to black men in South Africa. I say nothing derogatory of the black man, but I certainly make a most earnest appeal to the Committee on behalf of .the men, women, and children who will suffer if this industry is crushed. I notice that members of my own party have left thech amber, so that I have no chance of influencing them.
– I call attention to the state of the Committee. [Quorum formed.]
– The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) in the course of his remarks referred to the relative prices of explosives; but, to use a homely example, I ask what honorable member, if offered a garment made by black labour for 7s. 6d., and another made by white labour at 12s. 6d., would hesitate for one moment to purchase the latter?
– Is what the honorable member for Hunter said about the tests true?
– The honorable member for Hunter made a great flourish with a certificate, but that certificate is dated the .-3rd September, 1916 - five years ago! What has been done in the meantime in. regard to testing?. There is no testing station in South Africa; what is the certificate that the honorable member produced?
– The British certificate.
– Issued to whom? A small parcel of the great bulk of explosives produced in South Africa is sent Home, and found to be correct, and hence, for a certain length of time, that becomes a permitted explosive.
– That is all assumption.
– It is a fact.
Mr. Charlton . The testing is done periodically.
– The certificate the honorable member produced is five years old, and he cannot produce a later. The information I have is not obtained from interested parties, but from Government officials and experts who know the facts. When a ship with explosives from South Africa to, say, New Zealand calls at Melbourne, a State Government official, at the request of the New Zealand Government, examines the cargo, . and gives a certificate which goes on with the boat. I do not pit my knowledge against that of honorable members who have been practical miners, but, as I say, my information is obtained from perfectly disinterested sources. I have here a circular, but I shall not read it until later. It is not from a Combine, but from a man who knows more about explosives than all the members in the House and all the miners in Australia put together.
– A marvellous man !
– I am sure the honorable member for Hunter couldnot tell the component parts of any explosive he saw, whereas an expert can. The explosives turned out at the Maribyrnong factory, for coal-getting purposes at Newcastle!, are in a fresher and better condition than any that come from South Africa. Not a single ounce leaves the factory, except it is certified by a Government officer as a permitted explosive. Why, I ask, are one-half of the Newcastle mines using the Australian manufacture? Why are Victorian explosives used in the New Zealand mines? We hear of no accidents or loss of life from their use; and any one who asserts that the explosives turned out at Maribyrnong are not safe is not telling the truth. The same precautions are taken in England as in Victoria..
– The Rotherham testing station is out of commission.
– And, owing to that fact, the Nobel testing station is now being used by the British Government to give the hall-mark to the explosives which are sent from Britain to-day. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Foley) would not answer when I asked him where the Western Australian mines got their explosives.
– I shall tell you now ; they come from Great Britain and South Africa.
– As a matter of fact, the Western Australian mines are get-, ting most of their stuff locally, so that the honorable member does not seem to know much about the matter. He also said that the Colonial Ammunition Company was amongst the signatories to a combine arrangement. I may point out that the manager of that company (Mr. Leighton) is a Government official, and one of the most eminent experts on explosives in the world. Australia has been singularly fortunate in securing the services of this gentleman. He was in Great Britain when the war broke out, and the British Government at once commandeered his services, which were as . valuable as any rendered in the course of the war. He is now back again in Australia; and it is a libel to assert that an arrangement has been signed on behalf of the Colonial Ammunition Company, in order to form a greater Combine than ever. The factory is now controlled by the Government. The allegation only shows the inaccuracies which creep into debates of thiskind. It grieves me to know that the Minister has given away. However we may differ politically, we must all realize that there is no matter of greater moment than that of the explosives used in our mines - that this is a great national question which must be taken up sooner or later.
– By the Government, too.
– I am with the honorable member; and why should we wait? If war should again come upon us, we would have a factory which could, almost’ at a moment’s notice, supply all our requirements. This industry, like many others, involves the employment of numerous highly-trained chemists who, very often, in the course of their investigations, make discoveries quite apart from the immediate object in view. Germany would have had to fly the white flag at the end of 1916 but for the chemists employed in its aniline dye works and other industries. In passing may I say that I hope that we shall not allow the Tariff to leave the House until the Minister (Mr. Greene) has made substantial arrangements to encourage the manufacture of aniline dyes in Australia. Such a manufactory would involve the employment of an army of chemists, whose services in time of war would be of inestimable value to the country. At a moment’s - notice chemists engaged in making aniline dyes in Germany were ordered by Ludendorf to forsake their usual occupation for that of manufacturing gases. They did so and produced much that did great damage to our people.
For the present I shall not further discuss this question. I have more documentary evidence in support of my contentions, and I am going to work in favour of the local industry as long as I have the strength to put up a fight, because I believe it not only means employment for white men and women as opposed to the black labour employed in other countries, but is of vital importance to the safety of Australia.
.- I am extremely pleased that the Minister (Mr. Greene) has taken . the course outlined by him. I have here a circular dated 24th May, 1920, and which was issued on behalf of the Australasian Coal and Shale Employees Federation by Mr. J. M. Baddeley, President, Mr. E. Aubin, Vice-President, and Mr. A. C. Willis, Secretary. All these gentlemen are well known in the Labour movement, but the views expressed by them, in the circular are greatly at variance with those just uttered by the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton). I am glad to find myself at one to-day with the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton).
– One or the other must have slipped.
– The honorable member for Hunter has slipped on explosives, whereas my attitude to this item is that which I have adopted throughout the Tariff discussions. This circular, which might easily have been issued by ‘the
Country party, reminds one of the way in which support or opposition to Tariff items coane from certain quarters according to the interests involved. The Country party has not been strong enough tosecure a reduction of the duties on certain items which press heavily on the primary producers, as this duty on explosives is said to press on the miners. Men, women, and children, too, often in rags, on our farms have to suffer simply because those living in and around our cities must have short hours of employment and high wages. This circular from the Australasian Coal and Shale (Employees Federation is headed “Customs Tariff - Explosives - How it will affect the Miner,” and if reads as follows: -
We beg to present for your information the effect the proposed Tariff will have on. members of the Miners Federation.
Doubtless you are aware that the proposed Tariff makes provision for an increase of 25 per cent, on explosives made up as follows: - . Intermediate Tariff, 5 per cent.; general* Tariff, lO.i per cent, (explosives n.e.i.), and on and after 1st January, 1922, British preferential Tariff, 15 per cent.; intermediate Tariff, 20 per cent. ; and general Tariff, 25 per cent. You will, therefore, see that if the Tariff becomes operative as set out, the price of explosives imported will immediately increase in price; and as the miner has to purchase the explosive, it will ‘affect him, and not the coal owners.
It would be a matter of no concern to them -if the duty affected only the coal mine owners -
Consequently the miner is not disposed to bear the increase. We may state that explosives and fuse have increased in some instances since 1914 fully 120 per cent., and the wages of the miner have only increased, on an average, 39) per cent. You will, therefore, understand, in the first place, why we resent any further increase on explosives.
These are excellent arguments. They have all been put before this Committee in connexion with other items. We pointed out, for instance, some time ago, that the cost of agricultural implements and machinery would be increased to the primary producer by the imposition of certain duties, but our arguments bore no fruit. The same arguments are -being put forward by some members of the Labour party in opposition to the duty on. explosives, and it will be interesting to watch the result. The coal miners who work on co-operative lines in my Division asked that coal-cutting machines should be free of duty, and I agreed with them. The whole is greater than its part, and we must have regard to the well-being of the whole community if we wish to advance Australia. The circular continues -
We recognise thegovernment’s policy, to encourage and protect local industry, to which we agree, subject, of course, to the Durden being shouldered by the community. But in this case the miner is asked to carry the burden.
Therefore they object, although they would not if the burden were fastened on the shoulders of the whole community. Listen to this perfect logic -
We raise no objection to testing stations being erected, or against the manufacture of explosives in this Commonwealth, but we regarded it as quite improper to prevent outside competition when we have not got suitable explosives at a reasonable price.
That is very good -
Our coal seams in all States of the Commonwealth vary.
– I call attention to the want of a quorum.[Quorum formed.]
– The circular continues -
In support of our contention we refer you to the findings of the Inter-State Commission, Tariff Investigation, Miscellaneous, Group Ho. 7, presented pursuant to Statute, 9th May, 1916.
– An antiquated finding.
– Sound principles are not affected by age. The findings of the Commission are set out in this circular, and among them are the following passages: -
Whilst the interests of enemy ownership may now have disappeared, the combination known as the High Explosives Trade Association remains, and it must be obvious, from the evidence taken in this investigation, that any Tariff encouragement which will tend to benefit and strengthen their monopoly must be accompanied by corresponding loss and injury to the Australian mining industry.
We are invited by some honorable members opposite to consider the interests of the few persons employed here by the company of which the honorable member for Maribyrnong is an advocate, rather than those of the thousands of men employed in the mining industry. I represent primary industries, in which something like 2,000.000 persons are engaged, and they are being bled by city representatives, as the Age in its issue of 16th May so well pointed out. This circular continues -
The lever which has been used up to the present time in opposing the extension of British preference of 5 per cent, to South Africa is the “black labour” question. It would appear that only a proportion of the labour employed is coloured labour; but, even so, the question is one in which the decision should be guided by the best interests of Australian industry.
That is good doctrine, and, what is more, it is preached , by leading men in the Labour movement -
We want cheap explosives for the purpose of developing our mineral resources; and we also desire to extend a preference to every bona fide industry conducted in the United Kingdom. If, however, such preference, as it appears to have been in the present case, has been utilized by means of a combine for the purpose of unduly inflating prices, to the disadvantage of au Australian industry then there appears to be no justification for its continuance in its present form.
Then we have the recommendation of the Inter-State Commission -
In the opinion of the Commission the Tariff disadvantage (5 per cent.) to high explosives from South Africa is detrimental to the interests of the mining industry of Australia, and lessens the chances of return freights for our export trade with South Africa, and it is therefore recommended that the preference now extended to the United Kingdom on high explosives may also be extended to South Africa.
Mr.GABB. - I call attention to the want of a quorum. [Quorum formed.]
– The letter continues -
We regret that the Government did not adopt the. Commission’s report, recognising that, had it done so, we would have benefited considerably, as the price of explosives would have been reduced, and, as a matter, of fact, if the 5 per cent, is now eliminated, we can still obtain a reduction. In conclusion, we have only to say that ‘ the members have decided not to pay any further increase on explosives, and we do submit that, in view of all the circumstances, the Government would act wisely in not consenting to any alteration which will disturb the peace in the industry and have a very prejudicial effect.
To a large extent, I agree with those sentiments. They have been submitted to the Committee on other occasions, but were not so favorably received, because different interests were involved.
– The honorable member is disturbing the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best).
– The honorable member uses no explosives. He uses electric light, and not candles and calcium carbide. Therefore, he is favorable to theimposition of plenty of duty on the two last-named articles. I am glad that the Minister has revised his attitude in regard to cartridges. He rightly noted that the factory in Melbourne merely assembles imported parts, and nobody can claim that that industry gives any additional safety to Australia, because as ‘soon as the overseas communication was cut off the cartridge-assembling industry would cease. If the cartridges were manufactured in their entirety in Australia the industry might be regarded as a factor in defence, and, therefore, entitled to consideration. .If the amendment indicated by the Minister is agreed to, it will not be necessary in future to lay down so large a fortune in order to buy 100 cartridges to destroy the pests that are ruining our crops. In Western Australia I. had to pay 9s. for twenty-five cartridges. That is equivalent to 36s. per 100. Orchardists require cartridges for the destruction of the parrots that feed on their fruit, and it is in the general interests of the community that we should be able to get ammunition cheaply: If anybody can manufacture cartridges locally under reasonable conditions and make the country selfcontained in that respect so much the better, but the duty prescribed in the schedule was only tending to a little more centralization, and giving protection to a few people assembled in an unhealthy building to put together in cases cartridge parts imported from abroad. Until we have a legitimate industry, that’ can carry on without being spoon-fed so much, these duties should be cut out.
– I listened with interest to the speech by the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton). His sentiments certainly did him credit, and his presentation of them was well worth hearing. The . only defect about them was that they were very wide of the mark in their application to the item now before the Committee. What he said would have been apropos had there really been any prospect of establishing an Australian industry capable of supplying the whole of our needs. But no one has ventured to say that the small industry which has been built up here under the Tariff which the Minister has now agreed to continue is capable of supplying Australian requirements, except to a very limited extent, and even then in only specified lines. The honorable member for’-Hunter (Mr. Charlton) gave to the Committee a list of the different varieties of explosives that are necessary in the conduct of the mining industry, in Australia, and he might have indicated that a great number of them are not, and will not be, manufactured in the Commonwealth unless the Government themselves undertake the work.
– I call attention to the absence of the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb). In other words, there is an absence of a quorum. [Quorum formed.]
– Honorable members know that there is no prospect of establishing in the immediate future an industry capable of supplying the needs of the mining industry alone, and in those circumstances the choice is not what the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) would have us believe it to be. It is a choice between a great monopoly that levien toll upon the whole world and a co-operative undertaking in South Africa. How excessive have been the extortions of the monopoly that has established this little’ industry in Australia in the hope that it may enable it to pursue its depredations unmolested is shown by the fact that ‘ wealthy corporations in South Africa, conducting a very profitable industry, found that the exactions upon them were such that they must form a combination to supply their own needs. That fact throws a strong light upon the character of the organization, which, in order to exploit the Australian market, is employing a few people in Melbourne. W’e are not in a position to establish a local industry of the kind we want here - an industry representing Australian brains, and capital, as well as labour.
– I call attention to the state of the Committee. [Quorum formed.]
– There is no proposal to establish in Australia an ade- ‘quate industry for the manufacture of explosives. For that reason I am a little loath to go as far as the Minister has gone in the imposition of a duty. He has proposed a preference to the Mother Country; but here, again, the benefit can go only to the same world-wide monopoly. It is not even a genuine British enterprise. This duty will be of a purely revenue character, and I do not think that we ought to impose a revenue duty that has to be paid by the great industries that are at the base of the industrial life of: the Commonwealth. While the system continues by which the miner pays for his own explosives - that, of course, can be subject to alteration - every increase in the cost of explosives is really a reduction of the miner’s wages, and he, in ton, has to approach the Court for a corresponding increase. This fact should influence the Minister not to impose this revenue duty upon explosives. I feel sure that the withdrawal of the deferred duty is not an indication that the Government are not fully alive to the necessity for establishing in this country at the earliest possible date an industry capable of supplying the needs of the Commonwealth in time of war. But when one looks at the cost of establishing such an industry, I think it is beyond argument that that cost can only be undertaken by the Government itself. We shall fail in Our endeavour to find private capitalists to put their money into an industry costing so much to establish, when the consumption of their products will be so small that the undertaking will be unprofitable. So we must regard the manufacture of explosives,, not as part of the industrial organization of the community, but as part of the defence policy, and we must not hope to establish it as a profit-making concern; we shall have to face the prospect of paying a considerable subsidy in order to be protected should war again, threaten. For that reason, reluctantly, I confess, I shall support the Minister’s proposal to give a 5 per cent, preference to Great Britain; but beyond that I do not think we should go.
– The proceedings on the Tariff have developed into comic opera, and the attitude of some of the Protectionists in regard to this item reminds me of a song in Patience^ or Bunthorne’s Bride, in which some of the characters, who are endeavouring to acquire the right æsthetic attitudes, say -
You hold yourself like this; You hold yourself like that; By hook or crook you try to look’ Both angular and flat.
These Protectionists are trying to look both Protectionists and Free Traders. Of the Free Traders I say nothing; they have justified their existence by being a nuis ance to every one. Nevertheless, there was a chance of carrying the duty until the Minister made his speech. Had he offered to postpone the operation of the duties until 1923, to give the industry opportunity . to develop, we should have had some hope’. He showed that the organization which the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Foley) has described as a hydra-headed monster had failed to keep its promise; but he added that there were many reasons for that. I have always deplored the existence of Combines, and I do not like haying to support an industry that is controlled by a Combine; but the only thing that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie had to urge against this Combine was that it had dared to establish a factory in Australia. He was enthusiastic about the American and African Combines, but he could say nothing in favour of a’ Combine which had dared to come to Australia, and Was giving employment to persons in Victoria- to the detriment, he said, of thousands elsewhere. The Minister has told us that the offer to the great mining companies of the opportunity to take shares in this business was not accepted, which is rather remarkable if there is the profit in the making of -explosives that there is supposed to be, though I admit that at the present time it might be difficult to finance such an arrangement.
– I call attention to the state of the Committee. [Quorum formed.] Mr. MATHEWS.- The Deer Park Company can- make all the explosives needed in Australia for coal mining, gold mining, or other mining. As the honorable member for Kalgoorlie has admitted t its explosives are in quality as good as any that can be got. The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) said that certain explosives had caused disasters in mines, and suggested that it was Australianmade explosives that . had done that. But there have been mining accidents in other countries where Australian explosives have never been used, and’ there were mining accidents in this country before explosives were ever made here. It hurts my pride to find that, in. the great movement to which I belong, there are sections of the workers who are willing to down other sections if they may benefit thereby. . I am hurt, because the Coal-mining Soviet and the Gold-mining Soviet Will not allow the Explosives Soviet to live, and insist on using explosives made by black men.
– They are coining hack to common-sense views.
– The honorable member is abnormal in his opinion of what is common sense. I understand that the use of Australian explosives in the coal mines would not increase the cost of producing coal by more than¼d. per ton. As the boys say, the . honorable member for Swan (Mr. Prowse) was in his “ cush “ this afternoon. All he had to do was to produce a pamphlet issued by a labour union, and signed, I am pleased to say, by a man, as secretary, who, in the political sense, is not regarded as a Labour representative.
– What has he done?
– I shall leave the honorable member to find that out; at any rate, this man would rather vote for the honorable member than for myself. Why should one section of the Labour party, after all the talk about a “ White Australia,” the “ brotherhood of man,” and the rest of it, issue a pamphlet in which the honorable member for Swan can glory and find rapture and consolation ? The honorable member is, I suppose, the ideal Conservative in the Parliament, and yet he is found in agreement with the secretary of a union. If this is an example of what Sovietism means, there cannot be much in it. The Minister (Mr. Greene) has held out hope, but in that hope the men who have invested their money in this explosive factory will not find much consolation. The honorable gentleman has said that something may be done by the Government in the future - whether near or remote, we are not told - in the way of a comprehensive organization for the manufacture of explosives. As to whether that is to be in conjunction -with outside firms or “ not, . we are left in the dark.- It will be admitted that the arrangement made with the Persian Oil Company, for instance,- is not an ideal one. “Unfortunately, private capitalists always seem to get hold of the “thick end of the stick “ in any arrangement of the kind, and I think we ought to know whether anything in that direction is intended on the part of the Government. Personally, I do not like these halfandhalf arrangements; I would rather have the -control left to private capitalists, always, however, taking care to preserve the rights of thepeople. If the Government intend to undertake the manufac ture of explosives, well and good; if not, it. is bad for the people of Australia. I understand that in the coal trade the present arrangements are to prevail for a portion of a term of three years, and in, the meantime there is an objection to a possible rise in prides. The Minister might have raised our hopes by informing us that, when the present arrangement comes to an end, or at some time, the deferred duty will be applied, but he’ simply dropped the subject. If I could attribute that action to the Minister’s ill-health I would not have minded; but I take it that his attitude represents either his own ideas or the policy of the Government ; at any rate,he has left us in a false position. Once he touched on the question of Government interference, control or supervision he ought to have told us exactly what he means. I fancy that the ‘ honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) would also like further information, though from an entirely different stand-point, because he objects to any Government control whatever. The Assistant Minister for Defence (Sir Granville Ryrie) is still “ oyster,” and thus we do not . know where we are. The mining industry, especially coal mining, is highly remunerative, and should be able to bear a rise in the price of explosives. The public is paying an enormous price . for coal’, arid somebody must be making equally enormous profits.
– Why should we fight a combine at the expense of the mining industry ?
– If there is a combine in Australia it is the coal combine, as the honorable . member knows quite well.
Sitting suspended from. 6.29 to 8.10 p.m.
– Once the Minister takes a stand in regard, to any particular item, it is useless for honorable members to . attempt to shift him. All the arguments employed against the local manufacture of any’ commodity have been used against the local manufacture of explosives by those who are the enemies of Australia’s interests. The main question with them is not whether the local article is safe to use, but whether the price is cheap enough. I- do not pretend to say that Australian explosives can be manufactured as cheaply as those made by the kafSrs of South Africa, - in fact, I do not want the Australian manufacturer to try to make explosives as cheaply as they can be made by black men unless by the use of more up-to-date methods - but there is no doubt about the ability of the local article to stand just as good a test as can be applied to any South African explosive. We can produce all the explosives likely to be required by the mining community of Australia ; but I am sorry to say, the “ cheapandnasty” idea is abroad in Australia, and is fostered by many people who have no right to pursue that policy. However, I know that the time will come when the working miners of this country will be. proud to use an Australian product made by white men instead of a product of South Africa, made by black men. I leave the subject here, allowing honorable members who will not afford this industry sufficient protection to stew in their own juice.
.- I regret in some respects that the Minister (Mr. Greene) has accepted a proposal to reduce the duty upon explosives. It is astounding that honorable members who, all through the Tariff debate, have not only supported the schedule as tabled, but have also advocated increases of duties in various directions, have to-day advanced various reasons for the removal of the protection afforded to the local manufacturer of explosives. Equally astounding is the attitude of some honorable members of the Opposition, which does not accord with their platform as printed at the last general election.
– There never has been any Tariff policy on the Labour platform.
– I quote the following from a pamphlet issued under the signatures of Messrs. T. J. Ryan, F. Tudor, and E. J. Holloway, the last-named being the President of the Australian Labour party’s executive: -
We shall protect established industries and develop and foster new enterprises. While giving adequate protection by means of an effective Tariff, we shall arrange that the workers of all industries will get their share of protection. The use of Australian products by Government contractors and Departments shall be made compulsory.
If all the members of the Labour party would . stand by Australian industries they would be adhering to the policy outlined in the pamphlet they issued to the people of Australia seeking support at the last general election. AH along I have said that I am prepared to support
Australian industries, and give them sufficient protection, provided the interests of the public are safeguarded. Here we have an Australian industry that needs protecting.
– What would the honorable member call an Australian industry, if this is not one ?
– In . this, as in many other Australian industries, there may be British capital employed, but we are all Britishers. There has been a great deal of talk about supporting industries which give employment to Australians, and utilize our own raw products, and at the same time afford work for people in subsidiary and related industries. Here is a means by which we can do this. This factory may not be employing more than 250 men at the present time.
– It is claimed that they are already providing all of . Australia’s requirements in explosives under a Tariff which has been in operation for fifteen months, and which we do not propose to reduce.
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Mathews) says that he would rather support an Australian industry employing white people than a South African industry employing forced black labour.
– Yes. There are three reasons for supporting the local manufacture of explosives. It will find employment for white people, our own kith and kin; it will utilize Australia’s raw products, -and it will be the means of distributing capital in Australia to the benefit of the whole community.
– It is a wonder that the honorable member did not think of that argument in regard to the proposed increase in the duties on iron and steel.
– I supported those duties, but the honorable member for Hunter is anxious to abolish the duty on explosives.
– No. I am prepared to accept the proposal of the Minister to leave the duty as it is, and if these people can now manufacture all of Australia’s requirements in explosives, what increase of duty do they require?
– They cannot produce the whole of Australia’s requirements just yet. But they have supplied a tremendous amount of the explosives used in Australia. They are still struggling. The honorable member’s argument, in regard to the Broken Hill Proprietary Company’s works, at Newcastle, was that the industry was struggling, although it happened to be the largest monopoly in Australia. This particular explosives factory had a tremendous struggle till 1914, and since that date £150,000 has been spent upon extensions. “What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.” We have no right to pick out industries piecemeal to protect them; when we lay down a general policy we should apply it all round. If -..-3 are to make Australia self-contained, &z we are told we must do, or put it in such a position that, if necessary, its people can defend themselves, it is most essential that it should be able to manufacture its own explosives.
– It is absolutely essential that the Government should undertake that work.
– The Government are undertaking it to a certain extent.
– That is not sufficient. If we are to look after the nation’s interest, we must be able to manufacture for ourselves, and not be dependent upon the efforts of private individuals.
– The wages paid by the Australian factory amount to £900 per week. The raw material is drawn from various parts of Australia, thus affording employment in other directions.
– The only raw material drawn from Australia is the wood required for the packing boxes.
– The £75,000 per annum which this establishment spends in Australia is money we ought to keep here. It is better circulating here than in South Africa.
– If the Australian miner were allowed to do so, he would keep the money in circulation here.
– The miner is evidently prepared to send this £75,000 out of Australia.
– In some mines the increase in the duty would amount to a reduction of 3s. a day in each man’s wages. I did not mention this fact before because I did not wish to do so.
– I ani ready to help the miner, whose occupation I would not care to follow, but we must help him to safeguard his own interests. Many years ago we abolished black labour in Australia as engaged in the sugar-cane industry, and if it is good enough for us to demand that every article manufactured in Australia should be produced by white labour, why are we not prepared to support white labour in the manufacture of articles for use in our mines ? Every honorable member who records a vote for the abolition of this duty is an advocate of black labour. To all intents and purposes he is voting against the White Australia policy. No one interested in the explosives industry has approached me. I have endeavoured to follow the debate, and I have read some opinions on the question. I know that if this industry is protected, it will expand.. I believe that the Australian manufacturer is prepared to double his factory if he is afforded decent protection. If he does this, it will give employment to 600 persons directly engaged in the factory, and to many more in related industries. The Minister has already indicated that he favours a reduction of the duty, but I hope that/ even at this late stage of the debate, he will reconsider the matter, and allow the duty to pass as it stands in the schedule. The Committee should consider all aspects of this question, and determine that the industry shall receive the protection that is necessary to make it a success.
.- The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) has interjected again and again during this debate that1 the industry has been able to carry on with a duty of 5 per cent, for the last fifteen months, and that it should be able to continue to do so. I would remind him, however, of the line in. the item providing that on and after 1st January, 1922, the duty shall be ad valorem, British, 20 per cent.; intermediate, 25 per cent.; and general, 35 per cent. The industry has been carrying on in anticipation of that deferred duty coming into operation. Those engaged in it thought that the Committee would back up the Government’s proposal, but the Minister (Mr. Greene) has announced today that there are to be no deferred duties, and that the duty under the general Tariff is to be reduced to 5 per cent.
Seeing that the deferred duties are not to be adopted, surely the Committee is prepared to give a square deal . to an industry that employs white labour here, and has to compete with the product of black labour in South Africa. My desire is that our well-paid Australian workmen shall be protected from the competition of the forced labour of South Africa. The local industry annually expends £9,000 on the purchase of coal won from our mines by white workers. The South African Company employs kaffirs, who work fourteen hours a day, or eighty-four hours a week, for a wage of £1, and are practically prisoners. /They are kept in compounds covered with wire netting, and they cannot leave these compounds without a permit. These coloured workmen, driven like slaves, are making explosives, which we are asked to allow to come into competition with, explosives made here by white workers, who are employed fortyfive hours a week at a weekly wage of £4 8s. How can the local industry carry on under such conditions? In appealing for a duty of 10 per cent, under the general Tariff, I am only asking for a “ fair tiling,” which the honorable member for Hunter and other representatives of the miners should not resist. I am not exorbitant in my demand. I ask that the industry shall be preserved until the Government is ready to take it over, just as it has nationalized the manufacture of cordite. The Minister says that sooner or later this branch of the industry must also be brought under Government control, or, at all events, that it must be so husbanded that it will become well established in Australia, and make us independent of overseas sources of supply. Contrast the attitude of the miners at Wonthaggi with that which is said to be taken up by the miners of Newcastle. The manager of the State Coal Mine at Wonthaggi was told by the miners that they would “ down tools “ if they were not supplied with explosives manufactured locally by white labour. On the other hand, we are told that the miners of Newcastle desire to obtain explosives manufactured by black labour in South Africa. I do not believe that a majority of the miners in Newcastle favour such a policy. Practi- cally all the explosives used in the mining industry in Western Australia are manu factured within the Commonwealth, and one-half of the coal mines in the Newcastle district are also using the Australianmade article. There is no complaint in regard to its quality. If we are to encourage importations of explosives made by black labour on the plea of cheapness, we might just as well make up our minds to buy practically all that we consume and wear from the cheap and sweated labour markets ofthe world, and let the children of the working classes here starve on the streets. That, indeed, is the policy which has been enunciated tonight in quarters from which one would least expect it to come. Surely honorable members will agree to grant this industry sufficient protection to . prevent its collapse until the Parliament is prepared to do with our explosive factory what it has already done in connexion with the manufacture of cordite. While the grass is growing the horse starves. If the duty is to be reduced and the proposed deferred duties are not to be granted, the industry will go down, so that when the Government proceed to undertake the manufacture of explosives, as they must do if private enterprise will not carry on the work, they will have to re-organize it. I appeal to the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) to withdraw his opposition to the duty as it stands in the schedule. I appeal to him to agree to a duty of 10 per cent. under the general Tariff.
– If it is passed the price of coal will be increased by 2s. per ton.
– Is that a threat?
– I am not threatening; I have carefully avoided threats. I only wanted to let the honorable member know what would happen if a duty of 10 per cent, under the general Tariff were agreed to.
– The Minister very properly ridiculed the suggestion made by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Foley) that even if this duty were passed on to the miners using explosives, the industry would be ruined.
– It will not make any difference to the mining industry whatever.
– It will not. In the absence of local competition, however, the miners of Australia will have to pay “through the nose” for their explosives obtained from South Africa. It was the local industry that saved the miners of Newcastle and elsewhere from exorbitant prices during the war.
– As a matter of fact;, they had to pay much more for their explosives until the South African company came into the local market.
– I am not speaking in the interests of any Combine. Is cheapness always to be our cry?
– The honorable member is speaking for Nobel’s Combine.
– I am not. The honorable member in the course of his speech carefully refrained from mentioning that the South African company is one of the greatest slave-driving institutions in the world. The track of the De Beers Company’s success is stained with the blood of its slaves. I hope that the Government, in a national spirit, will come to the rescue of this industry, and not allow it to be destroyed by the product of black labour. I am as much opposed to Nobel’s Company, when it employs black labour, as I am to the De Beers Company. I am simply fighting for my fellow-men and women out yonder at Deer Park. Many of them have families. If the Committee reduces these duties, those men and women will be thrown out of employment, and will help to swell the ranks of the unemployed in this city. Surely this Committee will not refuse to grant an extra 5 per cent, by way of protection to this industry in order to prevent our well-trained workmen from being thrown on the streets to beg for employment, while their little ones have to go without that nourishment which is essential to their well-being.
– They will have to do only what the primary producers have to do.
– The honorable member has never found me lacking when an appeal has been made to protect our primary producers. Hansard will show that I have spoken and voted on every occasion in the interests of the primary producers. We are dealing now with an industry in a concentrated, form. A few years hence we shall require to manufacture 5,000 tons of explosives per annum to meet the requirements of Australia and New Zealand. The New Zealand miners have been using Australian explosives with the greatest satisfaction. To turn out 5,000 tons of explosives, 50,000 tons of raw material would be necessary. We have protected sulphur, and many other raw materials of the explosives industry, because we want to help our local enterprises, and I ask honorable members of the Country party and the honorable member foT Hunter to come to. the rescue of this important local industry even at the eleventh hour. The local company have given a guarantee not to increase their price to the miners and do not require profits beyond 6 per cent, on the cost of production; and they are prepared to give Government officials the right to examine their books to prove that that guarantee is complied with. If the Minister cannot grant the very moderate protection for which I have asked, he ought to propound some other scheme which will enable the local industry to be continued, so that when the time comes for the Government to take over the manufacture of explosives, they will be able to take possession of a well-equipped factory.
– It is unnecessary that I should repeat what has already been well said concerning the merits of the local explosive industry. If the present proposals of the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) are carried by the Committee, the result will be the destruction of the industry and the repudiation of the policy upon which our Protectionist Tariff is based, that of encouraging people carrying on industries elsewhere to come to Australia and establish them amongst us. The promise made to those conducting the explosives industry overseas has been responsible for the investment by them of £350,000 in the establishment, of the industry here. In view of the fact that this is a key industry, and a national industry, I must express my complete disappointment at the attitude adopted by the Government. Nothing which has been said by the Minister. for Trade and Customs justifies in the slightest degree any departure from the proposals he submitted in this Tariff schedule. He told us this afternoon that it is the intention of the Government to consider this matter in connexion with the Defence policy of
Australia. That is only a greater reason why the local explosives industry should be continued until the Government are themselves in a position to undertake the manufacture of explosives. The expansion of the industry at the present time will greatly assist the Government later on, when they propose to deal in a comprehensive way with the measures necessary for the defence of Australia. If the Minister’s present proposals are carried, the closing up of this industry is inevitable. This will mean, as has been ably pointed out by the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) the throwing out of employment of 250 people. “Worse than that, as I have already said, it” will involve the repudiation of the very aim and object of our Protectionist Tariff. The combination aspect of the industry has really nothing to do with the present question. It ill-becomes those who are supporting the South African Combine to complain of the Nobel Combine. There are two Combines fighting one against the other; but the Nobel Combine has seen fit to establish the explosive industry here, whilst the South African Combine has not done so. The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) made a statement in good faith which, if it were absolutely accurate, would have a very important bearing upon this question. He said that explosives manufactured here do not undergo the necessary ‘tests, and, consequently, their use involves danger to life.
– Tes, because there is no testing station here.
– The honorable member made out au excellent case for the establishment of a testing station for explosives in Australia.
– I have been trying to bring about the establishment of a testing station for the last ten. years.
– I want to remind the honorable member that the local explosives company takes exactly the same testing precautions as does the South African Company in ‘regard to the explosives they produce. The Nobel Company’s explosives are made here according to the recognised standard which is tested in the Old Country. What is made here is made in identically the same way as the Home product of the company.
– Is the honorable member aware that even in the Old Country explosives, when tested, are often condemned, although they are made under the same formula?
– That may be. But I am trying to tell the honorable member that every precaution taken by the South African Combine, for whose products he has such a vast admiration, is taken by the Nobel Company and its offshoot in Australia. In the circumstances, if the honorable member is prepared to accept the product of the South African Combine, he should be prepared to accept that of the local company.
– If the Government, in order to meet the contingencies of war, will manufacture explosives here and will erect a testing station for them in Australia, I guarantee that the miners will support their effort to a man.
-I should be glad if the Government established a testing station for explosives here, but we should establish the industry first.
– The Government should establish it, and should not leave it in the hands of a, private firm.
– I repeat, that every precaution is taken by the Nobel Company to “test the standard of their local product that is taken by the South African Company, and there is no reason ‘ why the honorable member for Hunter should reject the local product and accept that of the South African Company.
– I made no attack upon any particular company. What I said was that in the interests of the safety of life there should be a testing station for explosives established in Australia. I immediately produced the record of the tests made of the South African Company’s product that is used here. Fortunately, I had it with me.
– The product of the Nobel Company is tested in precisely the same way in the Old Country..
– That may be true of explosives manufactured by the Nobel Company in the Old Country, but is it true of their explosives manufactured here?
– Let me inform the honorable member that not only are the explosives manufactured here by the Nobel Company made in accordance with the standard tested in the Old Country, but samples of the explosives produced here are sent to the Old Country to be tested. Were there any danger to life from the use of the locally-made explosives, the case put up by the honorable member for Hunter would be an unanswerable one, but as the same tests are applied to the products of both companies the honorable member is not justified in rejecting the local and accepting the foreign product. I agree with the honorable member that there should be a testing station established here, but we must first establish the industry.
– We must establish the testing station, before the explosives are used in the mines. We cannot afford to risk some thousands of lives. .
– The . honorable member overlooks the fact that apparently he is prepared to risk a few thousand lives by using the product of the South African Company, and I again say that if he accepts the product of that company he must accept the locally-manufactured article.
– Let us establish our testing station first.
– Have they a testing station established in South Africa ?
– -No; but the South African Company tests its products in the Old Country.
– Nobel’s Company does the same.
– The honorable member submits no proof of that statement. -I produced proof of the statement I have made.
– We are considering a proposal that is of serious importance to an industry in ‘which at our invitation £350,000 has been invested. The industry established here employs 250 people, and uses Australian glycerine, timber, and coal. If there is any industry which should be encouraged under our Protectionist Tariff this key industry is certainly one. It has already done excellent work. Its product has been tested by use in ‘all the mines in Australia, supplying, as it does, 60 per cent, of the explosives used, and there never has been any reason for dissatisfaction or to discredit its quality. I support the very reasonable request of the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) that the Minister should amend his proposal to provide for a 10 per cent, general duty. Every argument that could be urged for the establishment of any industry in Australia can be, perhaps, mom strongly urged in connexion with this industry. I have told the Committee of the care that is exercised by the local manufacturers in maintaining the standard of their product and of the guarantee that the price shall not exceed 6 per cent, on the capital invested, an offer to supply at 4s. per case, or less than Id. per lb., has been made.
– Is it on paper?
– Yes, the company is prepared to give any guarantee that is desired. No fairer proposal than this could be made or asked for, and I appeal to the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton), who has done splendid work in regard to other industries, not to forsake, the Protectionist ‘policy in respect of this item. If the Minister will not adhere to the schedule as printed, I again appeal to him to make the duty in the third column 10 per cent.
.- I am surprised that the Minister ‘should have given way in regard to this all-important item. I wonder what induced him to in the first place impose the duties set out in the schedule, and now to agree to cut them down by half. The explosives industry is one of the most, important to Australia. It is remarkable that, although members made out a good case for amendments of the schedule in regard to many other items, they experienced the greatest difficulty in getting the Minister to depart from the Tariff as presented to the Committee. Yet in respect of this item, which may materially affect the future of Australia in time of war, he has readily made a big concession, the effect of which may be to leave us entirely dependent on the foreigner for the means of defending our shores against the invader. It has been said that a reduction or increase to the extent of 5 per cent., in many cases, will not make much difference one way or the other, but ‘ the difference of 5 per cent, means the difference between life and death to this industry. Much has been said regarding the quality of the locally-made explosives, but the honorable member for Maribyrnong was quite correct in saying that no accidents in the mines are traceable to the use of Australian fracteur. No honorable member would be foolish enough to advocate protection of an industry that was producing an article that would be a menace to the lives of the miners. The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) has urged that this industry, which is now in the making, will be of no value to Australia unless a testing station is established. If the Government sincerely desire to foster the explosives industry they should establish a .testing station, no matter at what cost; but the absence of such a station does not affect my attitude upon .these duties.
– I direct’ the attention of the Chairman to the state of the Committee. [Quorum formed.]
– Over 60 per cent, of the explosives used in Australia has been locally made, and no accident has been caused by the use of the local product. The explosives industry is benefiting the farmer, the coal miner, the printer, and many others, and the labour employed is all Australian. The tendency throughout this Tariff debate has been to shut out the products of coloured labour, and, as the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) has said, although we do not desire to do an injury to any man, no matter what his colour, we do desire to protect the white population- of Australia against unfair competition, and to encourage the local manufacture of all the things we require. The imposition of a mere 5 per cent, against the product of foreign coloured labour would be useless, and would mean death to the explosives industry which is now operative in Victoria. By the reduction of this duty the doors of Australia will be thrown open to the products of the great Combines of the world and cheap coloured labour. Even if the industry in Australia is owned by one of the big Combines it is better that the Combine should be in Australia, where we can control it, than that it should be beyond our reach overseas. I appeal to the Committee to adhere to the duties specified in the schedule. I feel sure that if the Minister carries out his announced intention of reducing the duty to 5 per cent, the industry in Australia will be destroyed, and he and his supporters will have cause to regret their mistake.
.- If the most eloquent speech I have ever heard from the lips of any member during the thirty-two years I have been in this Chamber has failed to induce the Minister to change his mind, I oan hardly hope that any words of mine will do so. I compliment the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) upon a speech limned with passion and humanity, such as my ears have never heard equalled in this Chamber. His arguments cannot be refuted. He referred to the products of black labour. God knows that my lips shall never utter words to condemn a man because of his colour - that is something, no man can help - and I have often wished that God, when creating the world, had made all people white,, with but one language and one religion. Over thirty-three years ago I applied for a position as medical officer on the diamond fields of South Africa, and when I submitted my credentials I was informed that every black worker within the compound had tobe closely examined, including every aperture in the body. Strong purgatives had to be administered in addition to examination, and no man could leave the compound unless he had been taking a strong laxative <f or two days previously. These were the methods adopted to prevent robbery. The Boer war was engineered by them in an endeavour to get cheap labour. They secured the services of the Chinese when they could not exploit the South African, and later they employed Indians, and they, the Indians, are making it pretty rough for them. I have outlined the degrading work which I would have been called upon to perform if my offer had been accepted, and they were the usual duties the medical officers had to carry out for this wealthy company, which to-day is holding- £17,000,000 worth of diamonds in reserve. I wish the genius of some man - I do not care whether he is white or black - would do what the Japanese have done in connexion with pearls. On the South African fields these men have to work eighty-four hours a week for the princely sum of £1, and in sunny Australia our own men work for forty-five hours for £4 8s. per week. If the miners of Australia desire us to give preference to such a company as this, I am ashamed of them. I am proud of Wonthaggi. I have never advocated a. strike, because behind the strikers, as behind the soldiers, I always see the women and the little children. I believe that if the miners of New South “Wales knew the whole truth they would advocate utilization of the white man’s product instead of. that produced by coloured labour under deplorable industrial conditions. I am speaking on behalf of the 250 men who have signed this petition, and I am advocating the use of the Australian product on behalf of the women and children whom they have to support. We have been waiting for twenty years for the introduction of an effective Tariff, and when one considers that valuable publication embodying the Tariffs of the world, one can see the directions in which ours should be amended. If we desire to find an uptodate Tariff, we have to look, on the one hand, to the United States of America, and on the other to far-away Japan. If we lived under the law which obtains in Switzerland,, where the electors really create and control the Parliament, we would not have .to wait twenty years to get what I call a half-and-half Tariff, because if the question had been put to the vote of the people of Australia, a thoroughly Protective Tariff would have been in force many years ago. Parliament has succeeded Parliament in this Chamber, and although Governments have had* the support of a majority of Protectionists, the Free Traders by devious means have controlled the situation. For thirtythree years I have advocated the initiative, referendum, and recall, and for thirty years I have- given my electors the right to withdraw me if my services were not satisfactory. Under such a system., we would have a different Tariff to that which is before us to-day. Honorable members who were privileged to witness the pictures displayed in the Queen’s Hall last night were able to learn how the energetic Japanese in the southern seas were looking after the interests of the Islanders. They begin by instructing the young. If the Japanese had an industry such as this, they would not impose a paltry 5 per cent, duty on the products of black labour. The product of this industry is not solely for the destruction of mankind, but is essential in mining and is also used to break up the ground in fields which are difficult to plough. I find that in the United States of America Tariff of 1917 the percussion caps used in mining, and blasting fuses of all kinds, carry a duty of 15 per cent, according to the value, and we are imposing a duty of only 5 per cent. Even caps are charged $1 per 1,000. Honorable members are aware that the American Tariff was raised during the war period, and in that country they have greater facilities for amending their Tariff than we have. Japan can also amend her Tariff at frequent periods, and that was shown when they defeated the efforts of the American Tobacco Combine. I trust our Tariff will benefit by the work of the proposed Board, and that we shall have a ready means of amending duties by passing a short Bill. The time for action always follows a great war, when there is difficulty in arranging credit, and obstacles have to be overcome owing to the interchange of commerce. Looking back on the records of the “Department of Muddledom,” as a famous barrister in “New South Wales designated the Defence Department, I cannot understand why the Go;vernment do not take, over this work and make it a national industry, because if they did that they would have the support of honorable members on this side of the chamber. Let us consider the de Beers, and the Nobel’s. The de Beers are multi-millionaires ; but who knows of a single generous act of theirs? Let us contrast them with Nobel’s. Nobel originally, with his family, may have made huge fortunes from tie explosives industry, but there is not a genius in art, science, literature, or the drama who has not benefited bv the Nobel bequest. The name illuminates the world as no other name does. The clever surgeon who discovered that it was possible to keep the bones and tissues of the body alive, apart from the body, received £5,000. Tagore, that great Indian poet, the sweet singer of the East, was given the Nobel prize, as were also Madame Curie, the greatest genius that the world has produced in one hundred years, and her husband. I ask honorable members if they will vote for an organization which employs white workers in Scandinavia and elsewhere, or for one which uses black labour, to which it pays less than the white mail receives ? It has been a canon of the Labour party that colour is not to be feared if receiving the same wages as white labour. There are men by whom I am honoured with the name of friend, whose skin is as black as the soot of a chimney. Some of them are organizers in the biggest union in the Commonwealth. In the name of the men, women, and children whose livelihood is at stake, and for the honour of Australia, I ask the Minister (Mr. Greene) if he cannot see his way to retain the duty of 10 per cent. If this factory closes, Australia will not be able to manufacture for her needs what races of darker colour than ours can make. In asking for a duty of 10 per cent., I ask only for a crumb, not for a loaf. If, the Minister cannot grant this, will he promise to ibring the matter under the consideration of the Cabinet, and ask his colleagues in their wisdom to take over these works as part of the Defence policy of the country? I have often laughed at the recollection of the days when we were told that Australia could produce nothing good, and must import its needs from Great Britain and elsewhere. That genius nation of the East, Japan, can make an up-to-date Dreadnought, and yet we, the descendants of Europeans, cannot do so, because we have been taught to lean on the Mother Nation. As an Australian, loving my Australia, so that I would willingly die by inches if I could benefit her, I want this country to be self-contained, making everything it requires. Nothing but a good Protectionist Tariff will enable her to do that.
– I understand that the Minister intends to alter the duty in the third column from 10 per cent, to 5 per cent., but if I am in order I shall move to retain the rate now in the schedule.
– The honorable member will gain the same end by voting against an amendment which I intend to move on sub-item e. In accordance with a promise that I made to the Committee this afternoon, I now move -
That the item be amended by adding to sub-item (a) the following words: - “ And on and after 8th July, 1921, ad val., British, , 15 per cent.; intermediate, 20 per cent.; general, 20 per cent.; and on and after 1st January, 1923, British, 15 per cent.; intermediate, 25 per cent.; general, 30 per cent.”
Amendment agreed to.
Sub-item d. consequentially amended.
.- I move -
That the item he amended by adding to subitem (e) the following words: - “And on and after 25th March, 1920, explosives, n.e.i., ad val., British, free; intermediate, 5 per cent.; general, “5 per cent.”
– If the Minister sees the industry collapsing under his eyes, will he make any promise to do anything?
– I cannot say more to the honorable member than that the Government will take the matter of manufacturing explosives into consideration in connexion with the Defence policy.
– Certainly. I am
Unable to say more at the present time.
.- The Defence policy may not be considered till next year, and this- industry may die in the meantime. The present act is. to be regretted from the national point of view, putting out of consideration for the moment the interests of the work-people and others connected with, this industry. It is a key industry that the Committee is throttling. What is being done is a crime.
.- I draw attention to the Japanese Tariff on explosives. It is as follows : -
General Tariff rates of duty - 1.Gunpowder, per 100 kin, 8.05 yen sen.
Dynamite, per 100 kin, 6.10 yen sen.
Detonators (including inner packages), per 100 kin, 25.50 yen sen.
Fuses, per 100 kin, 37.40 yen sen. 5.Other, ad val., 30 per cent.
The value of the yen is 2s. 0½d., so that honorable members can calculate these rates for themselves. Japan is certainly an up-to-date nation in all matters connected with defence. During her war with Russia she was reputed to have the best range-finder that the world had produced, and her ammunition was of the best.
Question - That the words proposed to be added be so added - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 20
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Filters for use in the household, ad val., British, 30 per cent..; intermediate, 35 per cent. ; general, 40 per cent.
– I desire the insertion in this item of the words “ high and low pressure,” and, as I am not prepared at the moment to give the Minister (Mr. Greene) the whole of the facts in support, I ask, should he be impressed by those facts, if he will agree to have the required words inserted when the Tariff is being considered in another place? Under some other item, which permits scientific apparatus to come in free when needed for university and similar purposes, certain filters are imported; and these come into competition with the Australian-made article.
Mr. GREENE (Richmond - Minister have the matter investigated, but I doubt whether the facts are likely to prove as the honorable member suggests. In any case, if the filters to which he has referred come in under an item in regard to which university apparatus and the like is admitted free, they must be imported in only very limited quantities.
Item agreed to.
Item 399 (Fire brigade and lifesaving appliances), item 400 (Goods passed by Customs and sent out of Commonwealth for repairs), item 401 (Reimported goods), and item 402 (Hair and fibre for upholstering), agreed to.
– Honorable members will note that this item has been divided, whereas it previously appeared in the Tariff, “ Manures, free.” The object of the Government in putting duties of 5, 15, and 25 per cent, upon superphosphates was to insure that the Government-owned deposits in Nauru and Ocean Islands should be used in Australia. The Government now consider, however, that the same purpose can be secured in another manner. Consequently, it is not proposed to ask the Committee to agree to the rates set out in the schedule, and I move -
That the item be amended by adding the following words : - “ And on and after 8th July, 1921, Manures, free.”
– The Minister seems to have lost his head. It had ‘been my intention to ask for an increase upon the rates in the schedule. Honorable members in the corner may laugh. I remind them that, but for the local manufacturers of superphosphates during the war years, the Australian farmer would have paid £12 per ton. Now that the war is over, it would seem that these same men who came to the rescue can go to hell. Does the Minister expect the Committee to believe that what he is doing is in the best interests of Australia ?
– I do.
– The interests of the wheat-growers are not the sole consideration. There are such industries as mining and sulphur production. I appeal to the Acting Prime Minister. Does he not agree with me that the general application of superphosphates has vastly assisted wheat-growers ?
– We have had the cheapest superphosphates in the world.
– But for the local manufacturer that would not have been so. Yet, when I ask for some consideration for those men who did so much for Australia’s primary producers*, honorable members only laugh.
.- The Minister (Mr. Greene) appears to be going from bad to worse. A few minutes ago he agreed to a reduction in the schedule rates. Now he is apparently prepared, while dealing with the closing items of the schedule, to let everything come in free. Where does he stand? He is losing his Protectionist reputation. If there was no need for a duty upon superphosphates, what influenced the Minister to insert rates of 5, 15, and 25 per cent, respectively in the schedule? And why has he now cut out the duties altogether ?
– Because there are no importations.
– That being so, there should be no harm in letting the rates remain.
– Human nature is very strong.
– Australian industries are not going to bleed the public because of the various measures of protection which this Committee has conceded. In recent years importations of superphosphates have arrived here from Japan, Holland, and Belgium; and, with respect to the two last-mentioned countries, the works have been German-owned. Superphosphates are essential to Australia, and to encourage importations is to discourage local manufacturers. Unless it can see ahead that the protection will warrant the extension of works, the growing trade will naturally not be kept up. There is not sufficient inducements in the profits to encourage local manufacturers against the foreign importations which occurred prior to the war. It is admitted that during the war there were no importations, but we must take care, now the war is over and wre are reverting to normal conditions, that the market is not flooded with foreign goods from Germany and other countries. Superphosphates are essential to the primary producer, and the Australian industry can satisfy the demand, with an article second to none and at a satisfactory’ price. It is desired that the duty be continued so that the price to the local manufacturer will not be reduced below a fair margin of profit; and to that end protection is required to the extent of 20 per cent., if not 25 per cent. I am glad we are getting towards the end of the Tariff, because the Minister seems to be in the mood to unduly consider the Country party, who have endeavoured all through to get their own way, and seem now to be getting it.
– We share in the Mandate over Nauru Island, which is costing this country some £1,500,000.’ It is quite likely that in the mind of the Minister (Mr. Greene) there is some idea of transporting the- phosphatic rock from the island to Australia, and here manufacturing it, so that we may be secure against importations from other countries; for otherwise the Commonwealth will not be protecting a good asset which it possesses. The honorable member for Echuca (Mr. Hill) has told, us that the farmers in his district arc, very rightly, entering upon the manufacture of their cwn superphosphates.
– The only complaint is that from Nauru we cannot supply the demand. -
– My desire is to protect this great national asset for which we have to pay. Can the Minister state whether there is any intention on the part of the Government to enter into some ar.rangement with the primary producers for the production of the necessary phosphates, or is it proposed to allow local manufacturers to purchase the rock from the Government ? Why the secrecy that is being observed? The duty was 20 per cent., and the Minister suddenly makes the commodity free.
– Because, as the Minister says, there are no importations.
– I wish I were as sanguine as the Minister in regard to future importations.
– Where is the guarantee that there will be no importations’?
– There is always the Tariff Board.
Mr.FENT ON.-I am afraid that between the Tariff Board and Parliament some of our industries will fall to the ground.
– The £1,500,000 is going to be paid by the primary producer.
– And no doubt the honorable member will receive his share from the community.
– We. are all right.
Mr.FENTON. - The “we” does not represent the primary producers of Australia, as the honorable member would find if he expressed some of his opinions in the country. Is the Government going to leave this matter to the control of the Tariff Board ? There seems to be a hushup policy as we approach the end of the Tariff.
.- Has the Minister (Mr. Greene) lost sight of the fact that the price of superphosphates will be increased by the duty placed on sulphur, which is necessary in their manufacture? Will the Minister either take the duty off sulphur, or impose sufficient duty on superphosphates to place the Australian manufacturer on the “same basis as the foreign manufacturer, who, in many cases, obtains his sulphur at his door free of duty, and is thus enabled to unfairly compete.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 404 (Materials and minor articles for use in the manufacture of goods), item 405 (Models of inventions, &c), item 406 (Natural history specimens), item 407 (Ophthalmic instruments), item 408 (Outside packages), and item 409 (Passengers’ personal effects), agreed to.
(1) Oil or Water Colour Paintings by Australian students or Australian artists resident abroad for a period not exceeding five years, British, free; intermediate, free; general, free.
.- I think that the ad valorem duties on oil or water colour paintings by Australian students or artists are preposterously high.
– We do not want “ potboilers” coming in.
-It is not “potboilers “ that come in ; but if the honorable member is afraid of that, let us impose a fixed duty per picture. I object on principle to ad valorem duties on such works of art, because the more valuable a picture is, the more likelihood there is of its being excluded from the country. The rising artists of Australia are thus prevented-
– They are not given a fair chance.
– They are not given a fair chance to see in private collections specimens of some of the finest pictures of the world.
– I am prepared to make some amendment in this item. I am willing, in the case of paragraph 1, of sub-item b, to make the period seven years.
– May I ask the reason for that?
– A number of Australian artists have represented to me that five years is not sufficient as their period of study is much longer. Oil or
Water-colour paintings presented or bequeathed to the owner, and not imported for sale, are made free, although they have been dutiable hitherto.
– Will the Minister include pictures purchased abroad but not imported for sale?
– No, and I shall presently tell the honorable member why. Oil or water-colour paintings imported for exhibition in any public gallery are free, no matter from what part of the world they come, so that the plea sometimes put forward that the duties prevent Australian students seeing the best art is untenable.
– No, it is not; public institutions do not proyide all that is required in this respect.
– I think there are to be found in the public galleries of Australia collections as good as in any public galleries elsewhere.
– But not in private collections here.
– As to the ad valorem duties, I think that people who go abroad and are sufficiently well off to pay high prices for pictures, ought to contribute something to the revenue in these times.
– I do not deny that.
– Such people ought to be encouraged to import good stuff, in order to raise the taste of the community.
– There are many very good pictures by Australian artists to be found in Australia. However, I am prepared to make the ad valorem duties 10 per cent., 15 per cent., and 20 per cent. I move -
That the item be amended by adding the following to paragraph (1) of sub-item (b) : - “ And on and after 8th July, 1921- (b) (1) Oil or Water Colonr Paintings by Australian students or Australian artists resident abroad for a period not exceeding seven years, free.”
Amendment agreed to.
.- I suggest an amendment to sub-item c by adding the words -
And oil or water colour paintnigs, framed or unframed, accepted within twelve months of their arrival in Australia by any public art gallery for free exhibition, and not imported for trade.
My reason for suggesting this is that students may have the opportunity of seeing the best works of art. Australia is the only country in the world which imposes a duty on art, which is undoubtedly a means of educating the people. Australian artists will not be injured if my suggestion is adopted, and tho loss of revenue will be very small, because public art galleries will not accept for exhibition anything but the very best of paintings, which, of course, will mean comparatively few of them. In any case, against the loss of -revenue the benefit that art students would receive may properly be set. I have received three letters from leading Australian artists advancing reasons why this amendment should be made. They are as follow : -
I have heard that you are obtaining the opinion of some of those most interested in art in South Australia as to whether they consider the. importation of oil and water colour paintings by private individuals for their own private purposes, and not for sale, is detrimental to the interests of Australian artists. For my own part, I consider that the importation of good work is far more likely tobeof material benefit to local artists. Especially is this so if they are afforded the opportunity of seeing and studying the work. The great majority of Australian artists have not facilities for going abroad whenever they may wish, and practically their only means of . studying modern movements in Europe is by recourse to reading or black and white and coloured, reproductions. Both these methods are unsatisfactory, and from an educational aspect alone I think every encouragement should be given to such importation. There are, however, other aspects which should appeal to local artists. Looking at the matter purely from a business point of view, I am strongly of the opinion that to create a market for local artists it is necessary to encourage in the public an interest in and a love for the arts. When good work is introduced into the country, even if it goes straight into a private home, an interest is created amongst a wider or9 lesser circle, who will, in the natural course of events, disseminate that interest amongst others. This interest will, of course, be disseminated much more readily if the pictures are open to public view.- I think that Australian artists are quite strong enough to withstand competition from abroad, and my own feeling is that the importation of recognised works of art can1 do nothing but good, and that every facility should be given for their introduction. My main contentions are: -
That, such work is educational both to artists and to the general public.
That it tends to awaken and to encourage in the public a love for art, which, looking at the matter from a purely practical stand-point, is what the artist most desires.
That it adds to the general culture of the community.
That good work of art tends to arouse the deeper and better feelings of humanity, and for this reason alone is a highly valuable national asset.
Jas. Ashton,R.S.A., R.D.S., London.
In answer to your inquiry for my opinion as to whether oil and water colour paintings which are imported into Australia by private individuals, and not for trade, should hear duty as being detrimental to the interests of Australian artists, I wish to say: -
In conjunction with others, I would like to express my views on the charging of duty on oil and water colour paintings which are recognised works of art and not imported for trade: -
The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Marks), who, unfortunately, is unable to attend this evening had a request from the artists of Sydney to support the proposal I am making for the free importation of works of art under the conditions I have named. I have read these letters to show that Australian artists do not fear the competition of imported works of art. They recognise that it is advantageous to art students to have an opportunity to inspect and study works of the best masters, imported either by public institutions or by private individuals who can afford to buy them, and are willing to loan them to public art galleries.
.- I have tried to meet the Committee as far as I reasonably could do. I do not pretend for a moment that this is a protective duty. Art is not to be so protected. The picture duty, however, is a protectionist duty in respect of one particular class of work that this sub-item covers; as to the rest, it is a purely revenue duty. The Government think that people who are sufficiently well off to buy pictures abroad just now and to bring them into this country, are probably well enough off to add something to the revenue by way of Customs duties. As we think this is a rather high duty for revenue purposes, in so far as certain works of art are concerned, we are prepared to meet the Committee by reducing the rates to British, 10 per cent. ; intermediate, 15 per cent.; general, 20 per cent. That, I think, is a fair compromise.
– The honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Story) has moved that oil or watercolour paintings, framed or unframed, accepted within two months of their arrival in Australia by a Public Art Gal7 lery for free exhibition, and not imported for trade, shall be free. The Minister (Mr. Greene), however, proposes that they shall be free when presented or bequeathed to the owner, and not imported for trade. An oil painting might be bequeathed to a man out here, and within two months, of its arrival in Australia might be sold for a large sum. In France at the present time there is a law providing that a certain percentage of the price secured at every succeeding sale of an acknowledged work of art shall go to the artist. Jean Francois Millet, possibly one of the greatest artists the world has ever known, had to paint picture after picture towards the end of his life for an income of about £400 a year, yet one of his pictures, “ The Gleaners,” has been sold for thousands, and “ The Angelus,” another work ofhis, has also been sold for a very large sum of money. I would suggest that any picture bequeathed to an owner here, if sold within ten years of its importation, should be dutiable.
– I call attention to the want of a quorum. [Quorum formed.]
– Australian artists have not had a fair deal. We could build up a National Gallery, the like of which is not to be found in any other part of the world. We could have an art gallery containing one example of every artist of note. That is impossible so far as the “Flemish, American, French, German, or Russian schools are concerned, but it is possible in Australia if Australian artists are given a chance. As a rule, an Australian artist cannot make a name for himself unless he goes to England. Streeton and Tom Roberts had some difficulty in “knocking out” a living until they went to the Old Country.
– Australia has gained through those painters going to the Old Country.
– The honorable member forgets that many have fallen by the way who would have made names for themselves if they had been given a show. The Felton Bequest is the richest in the world, but we have an old man of the sea called Bernard Hall administering it who absolutely does not like Australian work. I suppose that many honorable members have seen his picture, in which the halo is misplaced. The Frenchman said, “ If you want to paint in a halo you must paint it round the head Or not at all.” I repeat that if Australian artists were given a show it would be possible for us to establish a unique gallery in Australia. I may mention the name of Richardson, who is the only man who ever won both prizes of the English Academy - for sculpture and painting. He had to go to the Old Country, and what is he now - one of the best. I want this Tariff framed in a way which will assist Australian artists. I should permit any artist to bring his pictures to this country on the condition that if he sells a picture he shall pay duty on it. After mixing for thirty years with artists in the round, in colour, in water colour, and black and white, I want to see our Australian artists given some assistance by our Tariff. I ask the Minister to say whether the Board that is to be appointed will be instructed to receive suggestions from the’ artists of Australia to enable them to be given a fair deal under the Tariff.
– I want to put before the Committee the proposal of the Society of Artists of New South Wales, who ought to know something about the kind of protection that is good for them. This Tariffis defective in that it allows cheap and worthless rubbish to be imported if the importer is willing to pay the duty of £1 on the pictures, whilst it imposes heavy taxation on the best products of foreign artists. That is absolutely wrong.
-‘This is the only country in the world in which that is done.
– That is so. It is not possible to protect art in its highest expression, but it is possible to give encouragement and protection to struggling artists in Australia. I do not refer to men like those whose names were mentioned by the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Story), who have made their mark and can ask- their own price for their pictures, but to the young artists of Australia who paint pictures which they sell at from £5 to £10 each. They should be given some protection against cheap importations which are produced by the dozen copies in the commonest way. If this is to be a revenue Tariff I agree that expensive pictures should be taxed as luxuries, but there are many Australian artists who can paint pictures that are better than the cheap replicas, which are not art at all, but a prostitution of art, and. which are dutiable at £1 . It would be an encouragement to Australian artists if these pictures were made dutiable at a minimum of £5.1 hope that the Minister will accept that suggestion.
– I can assure the honorable member for Illawarra (Mr. Lamond) that there has been great difficulty in adhering to the minimum duty of £1, because it covers a great many things besides pictures as ordinarily accepted. The item covers designs of all sorts so long as they are the work of artists.
– They could be included in a separate item.
– They cannot, and that is the trouble. If we had a minimum duty of £5, at the rate of duty I have suggested that would represent the duty upon a picture costing £50. That might be regarded as a fairly expensive picture.
– My objection is that the Minister proposes to allow a picture worth no more than £2 to be imported if a duty of £1 is paid upon it. There are dozens of artists in Australia who can paint better pictures, and they should be protected against these importations.
– We have fixed the duties at from £1 to £1 10s. to protect Australian artists against the importation of these comparatively low-value works. The 10 per cent, rate which I propose is a fairly high protection on a picture worth £5.
– I would not admit those pictures. They are not art.
– If they are not art, then Australian artists do not produce them as art.
– The trouble is that they come into competition with art.
– I am quite certain that if we decided upon- a fixed minimum duty of £5, it would result in the absov lute prohibition of the importation of a lot of low-value pictures that are imported now. It would be frightfully difficult to administer, and it would probably handicap, to some extent, some of our other industries.
– What does the Minister say in regard to the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Story) ?
– I have endeavoured to meet the Committee by reducing the duties to a very much lower rate, and in the circumstances I. do not feel disposed to go any further. By what we are doing we will not deprive any private importer of the right to exhibit his pictures in any gallery for the. benefit of artists or lovers of art.
– That is only a test of the value of the picture.
– If ‘the amendment were agreed to, from the most valuable pictures imported into this country we woiild get practically no revenue, and it would be possible for a person to import an expensive picture duty free. At the present time, in the conditions in which we find ourselves, if people have money with which to buy these luxuries for their private homes, they may fairly be asked to contribute to the revenue to the extent that we propose.
– If a private individual imports a. picture for presentation to a National Gallery, it will be admitted free?
– Why do you allow a private individual who receives a picture for nothing as a bequest to escape taxation?
– Very often people who are in poor circumstances have family heirlooms bequeathed to them. Since I have been in the Department that has happened, and these people have had to selltheir pictures abroad because they could not afford to bring them into this country. To provide for such cases we allow pictures which are the subject of bequests to come in free. We say, however, that when people are expending their money in the purchase of pictures, they should contribute to the revenue. We are not depriving any Australian artists of the opportunity of seeing these pictures; if any National Gallery likes to exhibit them, well and good.
– Does the word “presented “ open the door to fraud ?
– I do not think so. The departmental officers must satisfy themselves as to whether particular pictures are the subject of presentation or bequest.
Amendments (by Mr. Greene) agreed to -
That the item be further amended by adding to sub-item (n) (3) the following words: - And on and after 8th July, 1021, (3) Oil or water-colour paintings n.e.i., each, British £1; intermediate, £1 6s. ; and general, £1 10s.; or ad val., British, 10 per cent.; intermediate, 15 per cent.; and general, 20 per cent., whichever rate returns the higher duty.”
Amendment (by Mr. Story) proposed
That the item be amended by adding to subitem (C) the following words : - “ And on and after 8th July, 1921-
Question - That the words proposed to . be added be so added (Mr. Story’ amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 9
Question, so resolved in the negative.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
– The honorable member suggested moving an amendment, but did not do so.
Item 411 (Pictures), item 412’ (Pictorial illustrations), item 413 (Pipes, n.e.i.), item 414 (Pipes, clay), and item 415 (Plates, engravers’), agreed to.
Item 416 (Scientific instruments).
– I move-
That the item be amended by adding the following sub-item (c) : - “Scientific instruments, . and apparatus, and materials for scientific purposes for use in universities and public hospitals, of a quality or kind which cannot reasonably be manufactured or produced within the Commonwealth or the United Kingdom, as prescribed bv departmental by-laws, on and after 8th July, 1921, free.
The war revealed the fact that Great Britain and the British Empire generally was very deficient in the manufacture of scientific apparatus, and an effort’ was made by. Great Britain during the war to take up the manufactures in which she was lacking. For that reason, we have imposed a 20 per cent, duty under the general Tariff ; but it has been represented to us that certain scientific apparatus is not produced at all in the United Kingdom. Great Britain has also been unable to reach the same standard as other countries, and I am, therefore, submitting an amendment to provide if Great Britain does not produce the particular apparatus, or it can be shown that scientific instruments of satisfactory quality cannot be manufactured in the United Kingdom, that universities and public hospitals can obtain these articles entirely free of duty to enable them to carry on their important work.
– Will the Minister’s amendment cover scientific instruments used by specialists in connexion with certain diseases? I referred a case to the Minister the other day in which a specialist was operating on a patient’s lungs. We do not wish to penalize specialists in any way.
– The item which deals with surgical instruments is . controlled by departmental bylaws, and if the instruments are not being manufactured here they are admitted free. This particular amendment deals only with universities and public hospitals.
– I have been asked by the hospital authorities to draw, the attention of the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) and the Committee to the fact that they have been’ suffering’ very much’ inconvenience and expense by ‘ reason- of the amount they have to pay for certain articles which are required, and which are not manufactured in Australia. Whilst I appreciate everything the Minister has said in regard to the . new conditions which have arisen in consequence” of the war, ‘and which apply specially to scientific instruments that hitherto have been obtained ‘from Germany, . there is a num.-‘ ber of other articles which the various public, hospitals have to import, and they are desirous, if possible, to have them admitted free, of course, under special safeguards, such as” the Minister may impose.
– The amendment covers, that.
– No; it refers only to scientific instruments’ and apparatus; but there is considerable ‘range of other articles which are absolutely essential to hospital work, and which have to be imported. Our own hospital in Melbourne, notwithstanding the care exercised in the management of the institution, is winding up with a deficit of £10,000 to £12,000 this year. Whilst I admit that the Minister is acting wisely in a certain direction, and is allowing spirits to be supplied free from Excise duties, . under necessary supervision, I suggest that an item be inserted to enable these institutions to obtain articles they require under the conditions I haveoutlined. Perhaps the Minister would agree to the insertion of a drag-net provision controlled by departmental by-laws. I appreciate what the Minister has done, but I am assured that there is need for a drag-net provision to enable a vast number of other things to be imported free. It is suggested that; the words, “ All things for the ‘ use of hospitals, free” might be inserted in the item.
. -J hope that the Minister (Mr. Greene) will admit free of duty,not only all surgical instruments, but also all medicines imported for hospital use alone.
– No matter where they come from?
– Yes. Any other arrangement would be little better than blackfellow’s legislation. The hospitals do an immense amount of good, arid in them persons who cannot afford to pay the ordinary fees of, -medical men receive the best attention.’ The honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) has pointed out that the ‘community is at considerable expense foi; ‘the maintenance of hospitals, and that many of these in^ stitutions, owing to their generous treatment of patients, are in financial difficulties. We may need revenue, but we are not at such a pass’ that we should make it out of the misery and wretchedr ness of the sick.
.- I . cannot do anything in this matter now, because I do . not know what would be ‘the effect of -accepting the suggestions that have been made to me. Without making any promise, I may, in another place, propose an amendment after I have had a chance of looking into these , matters. In concessions t’o hospitals, I have gone further than any of my predecessors.- I have given the hospitals rectified spirits free of duty, which has never been done before, and have helped them in other ways. I do not know what the concession in regard to rectified spirit may be worth to the hospitals, but it will mean a good deal to them. We, have established a special control of. the public hospitals from the central hospital in each State, which has enabled us to make the concession in regard to rectified spirit. I shall look into the matters, ‘ now before me as sympathetically as I can.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 417 (Machinery for universities, &c).
Amendment (by Mr. Greene) agreed to-
That the item be amended by adding the words, “ And . on and after’ 8th July, 1921, machinery especially designed and adapted for use in any university for the purposes of instruction- to students only or in any public hospital of a quality or kind- which cannot reasonably be manufactured or produced within the Commonwealth or in the United Kingdom, as prescribed by ‘departmental bylaws, free.”
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 418 (Scientific instruments and apparatus) verbally amended and agreed to.
Item 419 (Surgical and dental and veterinary instruments).
Amendments (by Mr. Greene) agreed to-
That the item be amended by adding the following to sub-item (a): - “And on a.nd after 8th July, 1921-
Lint; gauzes; bandages, n.e.i.; liga tures ; . oil silk ; poroplastic felt ;. splints and artificial limbs, - teeth, and eyes; surgical pessaries, except . of glass; syringes, except of glass or rubber; galvano-cautery batteries and appliances; dressing and instrument trays; accident and emergency cases; hot air apparatus’ for legs and arms; X-ray apparatus and appliances, including “transformers and -induction coils especially constructed for use in X-ray ‘ work ; snake-bite outfits; absorbent cotton wool (not medicated) and surgical dressings: aseptic -paper; impression trays; dental rubber; dental cements, ad val., British, ‘free; intermediate, 10 per cent.; general, 20 per cent.”
That the item be further, amended by adding the following to sub-item (b) : - “ And on and a,fter 8th July, 1921-
Dental materials’, viz. : - (1)Gold- solder, ad val., British, 15 per cent.; intermediate, 20 per cent.; general, 20 per cent.
.- I draw attention to sub-item d, in which there are defined certain surgical instruments and appliances described as “Amputating, cupping, dissecting, examining, operating, and veterinary.” All these various apparatus hitherto have been admitted free, and now the duty ranges from 40 per cent, to 50 per cent.
– We need those rates as a protection against Japan.
– And those instruments are excellently made in Australia now.
– The imposts are outrageous. There is no cause for wonder that the public should find it expensive to consult medical specialists in these days.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 420 (Surgical appliances, n.e.i.), and item 421 (Theatrical costumes- and properties), agreed to.
Thermit and other welding compounds, ad val., British, 20 per cent.; intermediate, 25. per cent.; general, 30 per cent.
.- I move -
That the item be amended by adding the following words : “ And on and after 8th July, 1921, thermit and other welding compounds, case-hardening cements, ad val., British, 20 per cent.; intermediate, 25 per cent.; general’, 30 per cent.”
The sense of the item will not be altered by this amendment, which is proposed solely to overcome a departmental difficulty of interpretation.
Ainendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 423 (Trophies won abroad and decorations), item 424 (Vessels, including all fittings), item 425 (Wall and ceiling parts), and item 426 (Works of art), agreed to.
Works of art, being statuary, not being less than £10 in value, free.
.- I move - -
That the following words, be. added: - “And on and after 8th July, 1921: -
– What will be the position regarding works of art less than £30 in value?
– If a work is valued at less than £10 it becomes dutiable.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 428 (Wattle’ bark), and item 429 (Wattle bark, tanning extract), agreed to-
– I move-1
That the following item be added: - “430. Straw envelopes, on and after 1st October, 1921, per1,000, British, 5s.; intermediate, 10s.; general, 10s.” “
There are . two firms in Australia which have recently imported machinery for the manufacture of straw envelopes. They will use a straw which hitherto has been wasted. The intention is to reap after a harvester has gone over a crop and. to use the stray for these’ envelopes.
– If any articles are imported in straw envelopes, what will be the position ? .
– They will not -be. affected. The rates will apply purely to . imported straw . envelopes. Since I am of opinion that the industry, will become a useful little, one, and will use up a, waste in the realm of -primary production, I ‘ ask honorable members to agree to the low rates proposed.
Item agreed to.
Division I. - Ales, Spirits, and Beverages.
Postponed item 6 -
Wood naphtha, methyl alcohol, and acetone; per gallon, British, Is.; intermediate, Is. 6d.; general, Is. 6d.”
.- I. move-
That the following words be- added:- “And on and after 8th July; 1921-
These products are derived from what is, generally speaking, a waste. A large firm has established works in Western Australia, and there are some others in various parts of Australia. The Go-r vernmerit desire to protect the” industry.
-Is wood naphtha used as a motor spirit?
– No; but, in the” making of methylated spirits, wood naphtha is the denaturant employed. In 100 gallons of methylated spirits there would be 2 gallons of wood naphtha, the remainder being alcohol.
.- I am glad that the Minister (Mr. Greene) has moved this amendment. If honorable members have, any’ doubt as to its effect, I canj if they wish, show them, what is the real position.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Division VI.- Metals and Machinery.
Postponed item 187-
Nails, viz.: -
Upon which Mr. Greene had moved by way of amendment -
That the following words be added to subitem (c) : - “ And on and after 8th July, 1921, per cwt., British, 5s.- 6d.; intermediate, 6s. 6d.; general, 8s. ; or ad val., British, 25 per cent. ; intermediate, 30 per cent.; general, 35 per cent.; whichever rate returns the higher duty.”
.- When this item was before us it will be remembered that there was some doubt as to the effect of the amendment I had moved, as applied to horse-shoe nails. We find . on goinginto the matter further that that proposal meant a higher duty than we wished. The amendment’ is to cover the smaller classes of nails, and provides for duties 10 per cent, lower than those previously’ proposed.
Amendment agreed to.
.- I move -
That the following words be added to subitem (d) : - “ And on and after 8th July, 1921, per cwt., British, 12s.; intermediate, 14s.; general, 15s.”
This- is proposed instead of the original ad valorem duties. We think that this will, to some extent at all events, help the local producer, and stop the very heavy’ importations. The trade is practically passing away from the Australian maker.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Preliminary paragraphs agreed to.
Item 1 (Beer) agreed to.
Item 2 (Spirits)-
.- I move; -
That the item be amended by adding the following to sub-item (o) : - “And on and after- 8th July, 1921-
Apple brandy distilled wholly from apple cider, and brandies distilled from other . approved fruit juices by a pot still or similar process at a strength not exceeding 40 per cent, over proof, matured by storage in wood for a period, of not less than two years, and certified by an officer to bepure apple or pure fruit brandy, per proof gallon, 27s.”
The idea is that by this amendment orchardists who have other fruit . than apples may use their surplus fruit for distillation purposes; that is, they may sell- it to the distillers.. This fruit makes an equally good spirit, but under out law as it. stands it cannot be used for the purpose.
Amendment agreed to.
. –I move -
That the following words he added to subitem (L) : - And on and after 3th July, 1921-
Spirits for the manufacture of scents and toilet preparations, subject to regulations- - (1)From Australian products exclusively, per gallon, 17s. (2)From products which include Australian products to the value of not less than two-thirds of the total value of the ingredients added to the spirit, , per gallon, 20s.
From products which include Australian products to the value of not less than one-third of. the total value of the ingredients added to the spirit, per gallon, 23s.”
This amendment is moved in order to carry put a promise I made to the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Fleming), who asked, for additional protection for Australian essential’ oils by giving the spirit used : for working’ up those oils a lower rate of duty than is paid by spirit used for working up imported essential oils.
Amendment agreed to.
In regard to sub-itemM-Spirit for industrial and scientific purposes’n.e.i.- has the Minister anything to say in reference to the position of pharmaceutical’ chemists who’ use spirit for medicinal purposes ?
– I have gone into this matter with the utmost desire to” make spirit used for medicinal purposes free. If we could guarantee that every one would handle spirit in an honest way, they could have it free of duty to-morrow ; but that cannot be guaranteed, and,, in ‘ any case, the cost of supervision to adequately . protect the revenue from’ the wrongful use of spirit . would be many times the amount of revenue derived from this source. I am afraid, therefore, we cannot free this spirit from the payment of Excise, but, nevertheless, I propose to reduce the rate of- duty, and accordingly I move -
That the item be further amended by adding the following to sub-item (m) : - “ And on. and after the 8th July, 1921, per . proof gallon, 25s.”
– Why not reduce the duty to17s, per galjon, and bring itinto line with the duty amended oil spirits used . for the manufacture of. scents and toilet preparations?
– These preparations are manufactured in bond, and there is no difficulty of supervision. We know every ounce of spirit that comes in or goes out. In the case of spirit used by manufacturing chemists we do not. . We think the utmost we can do -in fairness tothe revenue is to make the reduction I have proposed.
– I know the difficulty in regard to supervision to which the Minister (Mr. Greene) has just made reference; but as the manufacturing chemists have asked for a reduction of the Excise duty on the spirits they use . for medicinal purposes, I hope the Minister will go a bit further than the slight reduction he has proposed. Thereis a great deal of difference between theamended duty of 25s. in this case and theamended duty of’ 17s. -agreed to in regard to spirit used for toilet preparations.
– I have done the very best I can in the circumstances.
– -That would give the big.; man such’.an advantage over, the small man that the latter could not live alongside him.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move -
That the item- be further amended by adding the following - (Q) Spirit for- use in public– hospitals, subject to. regulation, on and- after., the . 15th . July 1920, free.”
This amendment shows that-. I gave theseinstitutions’ their spirit free of ‘dutv from’ the 15th July last, of course after first securine Cabinet’s authority to do so. I’ am now ‘asking the Committee to- legalizemy action.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 3 (Amylic and. fusel oil), and item , 4 (Saccharine andother similar substitutes for sugar ),agreedto.
Item 5 (Starch)
I notice that there is no Excise duty on starch made from maize, butIam told’ that imported rice makes a finer granulated starch.
– Not a bit.
-I am told so. I am just as willing to protect the starch made from local product as is the honorable member, but is not £9 6s. 8d. per ton rather too ‘much, advantage to give to one industry as against another which is existing alongside it and within our own borders, although it does happen to be importing its raw. material.
– The protective, duty against imported starch is onlv 2d. per lb.
– But that protection applies to both starches.
.- I am told, though I am not aware of it, that the granules of starch made from rice are finer than those made from maize or potato) and I would like to know whether that is so’. However; I hope the Minister (Mr. Greene) willnot consent to any alteration in this item, because we can grow maize in Australia, . and if all our river flats in Queensland were utilized for the purpose we would almost rival the United-. States . of America in respect , to our output of maize products. Ninetyeight per cent, of the starch produced in the United States of America is made from’ maize. The figures in regard to maize production there are really astonishing. Maize, is the principal crop of the United States. Germany, on the other hand, produces more potatoes- than does any other country. ‘ The’ rice used’ for thie manufacture of starch in Australia- comes from a land ‘that - is! almost famishing for food, and it is a sin to convert into starch, a food that can ill be spared by the country from which it is principally ‘obtained. An almost unlimited supply of maize can be raised in- Australia.
No less than ‘five factories : in- Australia are manufacturing maize, starch, and 98 pericent. of. the starch’used in the United States is manufactured from maize. The Australian’ firms . that are engaged in manufacturing maize starch are Messrs. Brown and Poison, and Messrs. Clifford, Love, and Company, of Sydney, and Messrs. Parsons. Brothers and Company, Messrs. . Lewis and Whitty, . and Maize Products Limited, of . Melbourne. These firms ‘are manufacturing starch . from, maize pfoohicedj by’ white men. in Ausr tralia in competition with starch made from’ rice produced by black labour in other parts’ of the world.
– It was “ Chicory Bob “ Harper’s firm that wanted rice for starch-making purposes..
– The firm to which the honorable member refers is not sufficiently enterprising to put in machinery for the manufacture of starch from maize as. other firms are doing. It wants to have the whole of this protection, removed so that it can continue to make starcih out of imported rioe grown by black labour as against starch made from maize produced by young settlers throughout Australia, and more particularly in Western Australia, Victoria, Queensland, and northern New South Wales.
.-We have to ask ourselves, in considering this item, whether the manufacturers of starch have to import maize for that purpose.
– They have not.
– We have’ a duty on maize, and rightly so.
– Maize starch manufacturers will not have to import maize.
– The only’ other question is whether starch made from undressed rice is suitable’ for purposes for which starch made from maize cannot be used. If that is so, we may unduly penalize owners of laundries. I stand for the Australian-made article every time, but I want to have these points cleared up.
Item agreed to.
Item 6 (Tobacco)
.- When the Customs duties ‘ on tobacco were under consideration some time ago, the honorable member for Oxley. (Mr. Bayley) sought to assist the local tobaccogrowers by securing an increased duty, and stated at the same time that he intended later on to seek a reduction of the Excise duty.The Minister (Mr. Greene) then pointed out to. the -honorable member,that the latter question ‘ should be raised when the Excise’Tarifi schedule was under consideration.. I now ask the’ Minister - whether he is -prepared to take’ any action- in the desired direction?
– Honorable members will find ihat the import duty is greater than the Excise to the extent of 2s. per lb. It is, therefore, equivalent to a, duty of 100 per cent..; in other words, it is.. one of the:! highest duties in the Tariff. . ‘Much as I desire by the Tariff to help the primary producer, a duty of 100 per cent, is about as far as my. conscience ‘will allow me to go. ‘
Item agreed to.
Item 7 -
– I ask the Minister (Mr. Greene) to agree to a reduction of the Excise duty on hand-made cigars. We placed a fairly high import duty on cigars, but it is almost wiped out, in so far as cigars that are retailed at 3d. are concerned, by the Excise duty. The result is that such cigars are not now . being made in Australia, and many men in the trade are, consequently, out of work. We have been told that the people should be prepared to pay more for their cigars, but a 3d. cigar has a ready sale. Cigarmakers now in work are each paying 4s. a week towards a fund to provide £2 per week for the men out of work, so that they and their families may not starve. The operatives say that if the Excise on hand-made cigars were reduced from 2s. 8d. to ls. 8d. per lb., it would lead to these men once more obtaining employment. It is contended that there would be no loss of revenue suffered by such a reduction, since it would lead to the manufacture of cigars that are not now being made. I know that the Minister has considered this matter, and I can quite understand that he should be concerned about a loss of Tevenue. Those . engaged in the industry contend that a slight reduction of the excise duty would not involve the loss of. revenue which the Minister thinks it would. I ‘move -
That the item be amended byadding to sub-item (a) the- following: - “And on and after 8th July, 1921- per . ib;, ls. . 8d.
– I hope the Minister will accept the amendment. . It will give some small protection to the Australian white maker, of cigars as against the cigar makers of Manila and Japan. Let me inform honorable members that the excise duty now imposed represents a protection of only 9s. 9d. on a box of hand-made cigars valued at £1, and averaging l1/4 lbs. in weight. Japan concedes to her cigar makers a protection of no less than £3 l1s. upon a similar box of cigars. The Australian protection afforded upon a’ 5-lb. box of ls. cigars is 9s. 91/2d., and the protection given in Japan on a similar box . of cigars” is £7 15s. If Japan will give ker cigar ‘makers a protection of 355 per cent., we might very, well increase the protection given to makers of hand-made cigars in Australia in the moderate way proposed by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Mathews).
,- This . is one of the most extraordinary items in the Tariff. At a time when all kinds of foods are being subjected to heavy taxation, and when every attempt is made to raise revenue, an extraordinary concession is given to the cigar makers of this country under this Excise Tariff. The difference between the revenue from Excise and Customs duties for the quantity of cigars manuf actured here amounts to £2801,000 per year. According to the figures I have, we might give every man employed in this industry ‘in Australia . a pension and have a considerable amount over. It is quite unfair that one small industry like this should be given such an extraordinary concession. The same , remarks apply to the next sub-item covering machine-made cigars. -The profits made oh the manufacture of those cigars are not quite so great, but there are few people employed in their manufacture. The monopoly given to the Australian manufacture of hand-made cigars under this Excise Tariff should not be. allowed to continue. I do not know whether the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney)- received a circular:issued by the operatives employed in this industry, but if he did he will know that what they are claiming is a. monopoly of the manufactureof cigars in Australia.
– We should makeit a Government monopoly.
– I should , not care what duties were imposed if it were made a Government monopoly, Ibecause the profits, would then . go into the. revenue, instead of being’ received,by private people, as they are at. present. . A cigar is a luxury, and every.-inan who want’s to smoke one should ‘be prepared to pay a fair price for it.
– Where’ did the honorable member get his -figures?
– From the Statistical Department. . The figures I have mentioned as representing the difference between Customs and Excise -duties may be put to the extent of £10,000, but: not more. I asked some questions on,. this subject earlier in the session, and the answers given by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) supplied some interesting figures, to which the honorable member1 can refer. I wish to propose that the Excise duty on hand-made cigars should be 3s. per lb.
– In order that the honorable member may do so, it will be necessary for the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Mathews) to ‘temporarily withdraw his amendment.
– I think, the honorable members’ proposal, if carried, would amount to a heinous crime, but I have no objection to withdraw my amendment temporarily if necessary.
.- The hon>orable member for Dampier appears to be under the impression that the’ Excise duty on hand-made cigars ‘is 2s. per lb.j but as a matter of fact it is 2s. 8d. per lb.’ The duty Was raised when the last revenue duties were imposed on tobacco, wine,- beer, and ‘spirits. All these are balanced duties, and they went up automatically. This duty was increased from. 2s. to 2s. 8d. per lb: .
– My figures were based on. a duty of 2s.. 8d. per lb.
– I point out that what the honorable member is asking for is an increase in, the duty of 4d. per lb.
– I should have moved for a duty of 3s. 6d. per lb., because it was my intention to increase the existing duty by ls. per lb.
– The figure which the honorable member has given as to the amount of loss iii the difference between the’ Customs and ‘Excise duties on handmade cigars is based on the assumption that if the Excise and import duties on this item were the same, the same amount of Excise duty would be collected.
Mr.- Gregory. - That is the assumption.
– As a matter of fact, that would not be the case. . To raise this Excise duty would result in an increase of the price of the cigars now sold at a cheap rate to such a figure that the same quantity would, not be sold, and the probability is that we should not get anything like the same revenue. It is. chiefly the cheaper cigar that is made under this item, and the people who, use that cigar would not be able to afford the high price which would be charged for it4 if, .the honorable member’s proposal were accepted, and so> from the point of view of the revenue collected, we should be worse off than we are now. We have in these matters to be extremely careful to avoid defeating altogether the object of imposing these duties. The primary object is tq collect revenue, .and if a revenue duty is raised beyond a certain^ amount, it ceases to be productive. That is why I do nob think it is desirable to .alter this duty in the way proposed by the honorable member, for Dampier. ls
– The makers of these. cigars have already nearly doubled their prices. This business is in the hands of a big monopoly.
– 1 am in a position to inform the honorable member .that a’ great quantity of the cigars made in Australia to-day are. being sold at practically the same price now as was charged before the’ war,, notwithstanding the increase of ls. ,8d. per lb. in the Excise duty. - Mr. GREGORY (Dampier) [12.2 a.m.”. - -it, is true that the cigars chiefly made in Australia are. sixpenny cigars, but they have a big competition ‘with imported cigars at the same price. .
– The’ local cigars are the cheapest 4 that can be obtained. anywhere.
– The honorable member would not know which end of a cigar to light. The cigar makers of Australia are deriving an enormous profit under; the existing duty, which is not justified. The contention of the Minister, that if we increased, the Excise duty, we should not increase the revenue cannot be sustained, but an increase in the duty would take away some, of the enormous. profits which local manufacturers of cigars are now making. I shall press my amendment. .
. -I ask the Committee not to be influenced by the thought that the proposed reduction in Excise duty will, mean a loss of revenue to the Customs Department. The Minister has already told .us that the higher the Excise duties ‘ the less the amount of duty that is collected. Up to a certain point, that is perfectly correct. ‘ The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Mathews) has proposed a reduction of ls. in the Excise duty on hand-made cigars, for the reason that it is utterly impossible at the present moment for the Australian -factories; to compete with the cigars’ manufactured outside Australia by black’ labour,- living and working under black conditions. If this amendment is agreed to, there will be within twelve months an extra 7,000,000 cigars manufactured in Australia upon which the Excise duty will be paid, and in respect of which a Customs duty will be paid on the leaf that is imported for their ‘ manufacture. Thus the Department will get both the duty on the leaf and1s, 8d. per lb. Excise duty on an extra 7,000,000 cigars. Some honorable members had an opportunity of visiting . a cigar factory in Melbourne.’ and there saw men working under conditions which are not equalled in any part of the world. They saw also amongst the employees, men who had been to the Front, and on return were unable to follow their usual occupations, but had been given employment at the factory. This work is specially suitable for returned soldiers, inasmuch as a man who . has lost both his legs may still become an efficient cigar maker.The reports of the Repatriation Department will show that in every. State the. cigar manufacturers have encouraged the returned soldiers who are suffering physical disabilities to take up this occupation. The honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) spoke of a monopoly. To-day there is no monopoly in the cigar making trade. There are factories in Adelaide, as there are in other parts of Australia, that have no association with the big factory in Melbourne. Itis true that the Melbourne factory, which has an extensive turnover, is making substantial profits, but they are being utilized, not only to pay their employees the splendid wage which they are at present receiving, but for providing, life assurance policies for every man, woman, and boy employed in the industry. They are also allowing them to become direct shareholders in the company, and those who are participating in this direction collect their dividends every six months as if they were the holders of paid-up shares in the ordinary way. The company also assist them to become members of friendly societies, and if an employee is too old to join a lodge when he is engaged, or too old to be accepted by a life assurance society, . thecompany place a sum of money in the bank which provides that employeewith the benefits he would - receive if health or age allowed him to insure under their regulations. Notwithstanding that,’ we are asked to say that the goods these men produce must compete with the cigars manufactured by black labour, under conditions which are repugnant to every Australian. The Manila manufacturers have reduced the weight of their cigars, so that they are able to come into Australia, despite the duties, - and be sold . at a cheaper rate in this market than those manufactured by the men to whom I have referred. What is the consequence? These men are walking about the streets out of work.
– To what extent has the price been raised during the last six months?
– At the moment,. I cannot say.
– It has been more than doubled.
– I do not agree with that statement. The honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) said that one could purchase a cigar for 6d., equal to those made in Australia,’ but I do not think he knows what he was talking about, and I ask him to produce a cigar equal to the “ Monopole “ manufactured in Australia. The manufacturers abroad have reduced the weight of the Manila cigar, and are therefore able to export to Australia larger quantities, and have practically captured the whole of the trade for the threepenny cigar,” with the result that the men in the Melbourne factory , soon catch up to the local demand for the sixpenny article. If they were able to manufacture the threepenny cigars in greater numbers, a larger number of men would be kept in employment. I ask honorable members to realize that in asking for a reduction in the existing rates, we are only endeavouring to maintain an industry in which men and women are well paid, and where the working conditions are exceptional. If the rate is not reduced, it means that men will be kept out of employment in consequence of the competition caused by a product of black labour.
– A suggestion has been made to raise the import duty, but that; would be useless. Unless we can produce a threepenny cigar,, even of light weight, we, cannot find employment for the men who are now out of work. A reduction in the Excise duty would mean that millions of cigars more would be manufactured, and the additional output would bring in extra revenue and provide additional employment. If certain members of the Committee, will not give us their support, it is only another evidence of the fact that they do not desire to encourage Australian industries. In a spirit of fiendish delight, some endeavour to avoid encouraging Australian manufactures.
Question - That the words proposed to be added be so added (Mr.Mathews’ amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority. . . . 4
Question so resolved in the negative.
; - If the Minister will not agree to the reduction of this duty by,1s., I ask him to agree to its reduction by 6d. The matter is so important to the workers in this industry that I move -
That the following words be added to subitem (a) : - “And on and after 8th July. 1921, per lb., 2s. 2d.”
.- -I hope that the Committee will not agree to the amendment. Cigar-making now has a protection of 6s. l0d. per lb., which should be sufficient. I’ do not think that the reduction of the Excise by 6d. would appreciably affect the manufacturers of 3d. cigars,- and as this is a revenue item, the Government think it should remain as it is.
– Would the Ministerconsider the increasing of the duty ?
– I cannot see that that would help in any way. The statistics show that the local manufacture of cigars has increased enormously of late years. Thequantity made in this country in 1913 did not approach that made now, and the importations have fallen off from 433,279 lbs. to 115,470 lbs. Obviously, the Tariff has thrown a considerable portion of the trade which was formerly in, the hands of the importers ‘ into those of the manufacturers.
– I had the pleasure of going through the -factory of which the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Blundell) has spoken, and was glad to see how good are the conditions under which Australians work there; Each man is paid accordingtohis labour; some earning £4 4s., and others as much as £10: 10s. per week. The operatives are well housed and looked- after. Meals are supplied to them for 3s. per week. Their, lives are insured, or, where that cannot be done, payments are made into a Savings Bank . weekly. I have, no doubt that in time to come all the leaf used in the factory will be Australian-grown. About 600 persons are employed there, and the business is carried on under the best conditions. I was . glad to know that the head of it was a good Cameron.
– The Minister speaks of wanting revenue. The English system of taxation affords an example by the adoption of which this Government might add to the revenue of the country. We have not gone nearly to the limit in respect of the taxation of land and houses. Here is a paltry duty of 9s. 91/2d. upon a11/4-lb. box of cigars. Japan imposes a duty of £311s. upon a similar box. The duty amounts to 355 per cent. Japan is the only nation which has beaten the American Combine, and it did so by means of these high imposts. I reject the proposal of the Minister with scorn. Upon the 5-lb. box of cigars - that is, upon the is. cigar - the duty, if the weight of that box be11/4 lbs., will be a paltry 9s. 91/2d. In Japan the duty amounts to no less than £17 15s. in India, prior to the war, if a traveller asked, in an hotel for a cigar, he would be given a cigar for nothing. We have not given tobacco culture in this country a fair chahce. The National Parliament should be prepared to grant a substantial bonus for tobacco leaf. In the Manilas one could always obtain a fair cigar at the rate of 2s. per 100. But what can one say of the working, conditions in . that country? There, men and women are thrown together, and the latrines are formed like the spokes of a wheel. The women have to go into these open places, which are without a door to grant them privacy. Such are the conditions under which Manila cigars, are produced. In India the conditions are rather better. The Indian cigar-makers are exceedingly deft; in fact, they are among’ the most facile in’ the world. They were paid at the rate of one rupee, then equivalent to ls.1d.; per day, for a ten-hours day. I am disgusted at the treatment imposed upon good Australian workmen having women and children dependent on them.. Will the Minister consider, the. whole matter,and; agree to recommit the schedule at a later stage to-day ?
– - I promise to look’ into the m’atter, but not to recommit. I cannot hope to investigate the facts between this hour and the later hour of sitting.
– The Minister (Mr. Greene) has undertaken to investigate the whole position, and to see if he cannot meet the case which ha3 been stated. I am confident that the Minister is sympathetic, and, in view of his promise, I ask leave to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Mr. Gregory) negatived -
That the item be amended by adding to sub- item (a) : - “ And on and after 8th July, 1921, per lb., 3s. 6d.”
Item agreed to.
Item 8 (Cigarettes), and item 9 (Snuff) agreed to.
.- I move -
That the following new item be inserted: - 10 (a) Articlesbeing the property of the Commonwealth Government not being for purposes of trade, free.
Articles for the official use of the Governor-General and declared as being for such official use, free,
Under existing arrangements spirits, cigars, and- tobacco may be imported for the use of the Governor-General and the State Governors free of duty, but Excise is imposed on Australian products. That is to say, the Government have been giving a premium if the Governor-General or any of the State Governors use an. imported article. It is proposed to extend exactly the same provisions in respect of Australian manufactures as in the case of imported lines.
Amendment agreed to.
Preliminary matter of Customs and Excise Tariffs agreed to.
. -Imove -
That the House do now adjourn.
I am much obliged to honorable member’s for staying, to-night, and I hope they will help the . Government to conclude the consideration of the Tariff to-morrow.
– I regret at this hour to delay the. House, but I have just received a telegram from Darwin, which seems to somewhat challenge the statement made by the Acting Prime Minister (Sir Joseph Cook), ‘n reference to the Northern Territory. The telegram reads thus -
Received press message stating Prime Minister received long telegram from Administrator, Territory, reference previous wire sent by mayor of Darwin, regarding imprisonment persons. Administrator characterized it shameless distortion’ facts. Mayor wrote Administrator, Tuesday, requesting know if report correct. Administrator replied 6th - “ Have not made any comment kind mentioned, regarding any telegram, you may have sent.” Reply if press report correct.
This telegram, as I say, seems to challenge the statement of the Acting Prime Minister, and if it be correct, the Administrator should be asked to explain why he made the denial to the mayor.
– I thought at the time that the previous message sounded very like the remainder of the newspaper report.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House- adjournedat 12.44 (Friday).
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 7 July 1921, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1921/19210707_reps_8_96/>.