8th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Hon. J.M Chanter) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
Mr.RYAN. - If a cablegram about the proposed renewal of the AngloJapanese Treaty,which was received some time ago from certain persons in Shanghai,has not yet been made available to honorable members, will the Acting Prime Minister be good enough to haveitlaid on the table?
– I do not recollect the cablegram referred to, but I shall inquire about it, I see no reason why, should it be on the records, a copy of it should not be laid on the table.
– I ask the Acting Prime Minister if work has yet been recommenced at the Cockatoo Island Dockyard? If not, will the right honorable gentleman, in view of the destitution of the men formerly employed there, take steps tohave a start made on Monday?
– An instruction for the recommencing of work immediately has gone from the Minister in charge, and I have no doubt that it will be carried out.
-Has the Government yet considered the effect of the verdict of the High Court in a case brought before it by a South. Australian Commonwealth official ?
-No, but I shall look into the matter.
-When does the Government intend to appoint the Commissions necessary for the redistribution of seats and the re-adjustment of electoral divisions ?
– Thematter will be immediately considered when the certified results of the census have been reported to the Government.
– Will the Acting Prime Minister inform honorable members whether the Government is defraying any of the expenses of a member of the staff of a Melbourne daily newspaper who left for England almost simultaneously with the Prime Minister?
– So far as I am aware, the answer is “No.”
– Can the Acting Prime Minister inform me what subsidy will be paid to Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company for the Pacific Islands mail contract?
– No contract has yet been made. The company,as I told the honorable member yesterday, proposes a five-weekly instead of a twomonthly service, so that undoubtedly there must be a substantial increase in the subsidy. The amount paid under the last subsidy was £40,000.
– The company is doing very well out of it.
– As soon as the contract has been arranged, I shall make a statement to the House, when I think I shall be able to show that, although the company may be making good profits out of its business interests, they are not making anything out of the mail contract.
Purchase of Timber Areas and Saw-mills.
Mr. FENTON laid on the table the evidence taken during the inquiry of the Public Accounts Committee into the purchase of timber areas and saw-mills.
Payment for Resumed Estates - Pensions
– Have steps been taken to make money available for the payment for estates purchased from persons in New South Wales for the settlement of returned soldiers?
– Money is made available for every certified case. The delays that are occurring take place in the public offices of the States. I know of cases in New South Wales which have been hung up for two years. There is a long delay in the Lands Office, where the principle of priority is applied, and then another delay in the Treasury. It is easy to blame the Federal Government because payments are not made more speedily, but the reason why payment is not made is not that the money is not available, but that the cases are not dealt with more speedily by the State officials.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation furnish a statement to the House showing how many returned soldiers have been settled on the land in each State, how many remain to be settled in accordance with the arrangement between the Commonwealth and State Governments, and the average cost of settlement in each State per man?
– I shall be pleased to furnish the information desired.
– Will the Treasurer make clear the reason why the payment for estates resumed in New South Wales for soldier settlement does not proceed more speedily ? There is an estate near Parkes, in New South Wales, belonging to a South Australian, which two years ago was sold for the settlement of returned soldiers. One of them has taken a crop off 2,000 acres of that land, which were fallowed by the former owner, yet nothing has been paid for the land. The estate was sold at a reduced price on the understanding that spot cash would be paid.
– The Commonwealth Government have nothing to do with the settlement of soldiers on the land, beyond finding the necessary money. We have to pay up and look pleasant while the State Governments spend our money for us, as may seem best to them.
– They are putting on the Commonwealth the blame for delays in the payment of purchase money.
– I know that they are, and it is easy to do so. Some of these cases want looking into. The other day I saw a list of purchases in New South Wales which seems to show that the State Government is doing its best to disparage the Commonwealth Government in this matter.
– Do not say that.
– But it is so. The State Treasurer (Mr. Lang) is at this every day. I do not see why I should not mention these cases. The list came from an agent in Sydney, and showed that, apparently, provision had been made for the settlement of fortyone soldiers on the land at a cost of about £130,000 - an average cost of about £3,500 a man.
– Why do you agree to that sort of thing?
– We have not agreed to it.
– If the State authorities want to have these things talked about, all the facts had better be stated. The list I referred to accompanied a complaint that the Commonwealth would not pay what was due - the usual statement scattered throughout the country by Mr. Lang.
– It is a pure political stunt.
– Every one knows that it is, and it is a very mean one. The list surprised me.
– There is a good deal more about these cases which would surprise the right honorable member if he knew it.
– The men who sell properties are not to blame.
– Certainly not. A returned soldier who at the beginning is faced with an interest charge of£220 is likely to be “ settled “ in real earnest. I regret that there are these cases.
– The State Government is paying only 4½ per cent. on the money owing.
-I do not, and cannot, know anything of the arrangements. What we do is to pay when certified accounts are presented to us for payment.
– The case to which I have referred has been certified for two years.
– Is it not about time that the arrangement with the States was reconsidered ? I think that they are treating the Commonwealth badly:
– We are in the hands of the States in this matter, because it. is the State authorities who control the lands of the Commonwealth. We cannot settle soldiers on land that is not ours, and, therefore, made the best arrangements we could with the State Governments. Now we seem to be the burden bearers and the people to be shied at.
– The State Governments arebuying most of the land on which settlement is taking place; they are not putting soldiers on the lands they own. They are making big deals in land.
-I believe that most of the State Governments are doing the best they can with a difficult problem.
– Theyare using the Commonwealth money, and are not paying the land-owners from whom they buy estates.
-If the honorable member will give me particulars of the case to which hehas drawn attention I shall have the matter looked into.
– YesterdayI mentioned that a pension had been refused to a soldier because the Repatriation Commissioners said that he should not have been accepted for active service. Will the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation lay on the table of the Library the report of the medical man who passed this soldier into camp, and the reports of subsequent examinations prior to his going away?
– I shall be pleased to do so. Every soldier is entitled to the fullest statement of the reasons for the refusal or reduction of a pension.
– Is it a fact that one of the members of the Commonwealth Ship-building Board has resigned? If so, what is the reason for his action?
– It is true that Mr.Aird has resigned from the Board. He interviewed me about a week ago, and, after a talk over the matter, I told him to do nothing hastily, but to give further thought to his position. Later I received from him a letter which, if honorable members so desire, I shall get and read to the House. Mr. Aird feels that as he is, connected with a private firm it would be better for him not to continue in the service of the Government, although the interests of the Com- monwealth and the firm in no way clash. As, however, his position on the Board is only a consulting one, at a very nominal salary, he prefers to resign that rather than his other employment.
-Is there any conflict with the Navy Board ?
– Not the slightest. I think the Government are
Unfortunate in losing his services.
– He is a first-class man.
– From what I have seen of Mr. Aird I have formed the highest possible opinion of his character and capabilities.
– In recent conversations with the Chairman of the Taxation Commission was the Treasurer promised that anything in the nature of an interim report, particularly in relation to the averaging system, would be submitted by the Commission before the House reassembles in September?
– I had an interview with the whole Commission in Sydney on Monday, and I found that there was a slight disinclination on their part to present an interim report. I told them of my difficulties-
– The Government will have to stop the Commission’s supplies
– No; they have a very big job on hand. For instance, although they had previously taken evidence in Sydney, they had still eighty witnesses to hear in that city.
– All telling them the obvious.
– No; all, like the honorable member, grumbling about; what they have to pay. Those eighty witnesses are presenting’ memoranda- of cases and principles. After completing the evidence in Sydney the Commission will go to South Australia.
– This should-be an education to the critics as to the information necessary to form an opinion.
– The Commission has a very big job, and we must notbe too impatient; but I am hopeful that before the Budget is presented they will have presented a report to me on two or three matters, including the averaging principle. I have intimated to them that if they do not I shall have to proceed on my own account. There is no misunderstanding on that point. I have told the Commission that the matter must be dealt with in the Budget, and if they are unable to report to me before I prepare my Budget I shall have to deal with the matter myself. I have, however, the greatest hope that the Commission will report before that time.
– Has the Minister for Trade and Customs information that some of the islands over which Japan has been given a mandate possess very rich phosphatic deposits, which the Japanese Government are working ? Now that the duty has been removed from superphosphates, will he see that the Tariff Board keeps a keen eye on the operations of the Japanese in connexion with the importation of superphosphates?
– I am aware of the facts stated by the honorable member. The Government will exercise all necessary supervision to insure that the Australian superphosphates industry does not suffer.
-In view of the probable early adjournment of the House for some weeks will the proposed works at Canberra be referred to the Public Works Committee before that adjournment?
-I hope that may be the case. Unfortunately, the Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Groom) was called to Queensland on account of a bereavement. When he returns I shall consult him immediately about the matter.
– What steps have the Government taken, following upon the very definite report submitted by the Public Works Committee in regard to the Kidman and Mayoh shipbuilding contract?
– The Government have refused to take over the ships, and the contractors have been asked to refund the money advanced to them. The matter is now in the hands of the lawyers.
– Is the reported statement correct that one of the Commonwealth Line of Steamers is unable to take a cargo of flour to India because the cost of running the. boat would be greater than the earnings?
– That is true, having regard to the fact that it is almost impossible to get back loading.
– In view of the Tariff, how can the Government expect back loading?
SirJOSEPH COOK.- The trouble is that there is cargo only one way, and the freight chargeable on that cargo has to pay for the voyage both ways.
– Good old Tariff!
– This has nothing to do with the Tariff. Shipping in all countries is experiencing the same trouble.
Excesses by Coloured Troops.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether, in view of the shocking sexual excesses and atrocities reported of the Allied Army of coloured troops at present placed as the Army of Occupation in the Rhine provinces, the Government will communicate to the Prime Minister the distinct disapproval of the Australian people of this circumstance, and request that he make the strongest representations to the Allied Councils to have such coloured troops withdrawn, and thus afford protection to the white women of these provinces; and, further, if an Army of Occupation is deemed necessary, that it be composed of troops of the white race?
– I invite the honorable member, ifhe has the proof of these charges, to furnish it. Until he does so, I will take no step in connexion with the matter. I disbelieve the allegations.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Will he inform the House when the promised proposals for superannuation for our soldiers will be submitted to Parliament for consideration?
– The proposal of the Government in regard to superannuation is for the Public Service generally, and would include the Permanent Military Forces. It is not possible yet to fix a date for the introduction of the Superannuation. Bill, which is still under consideration by the Government.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
. -I move -
That the Resolution with respect to Duties of Customs be now recommitted for the further consideration of item 53 (Dried fruits), subitem (a) ; item 105 (Piece-goods), sub-item
; item 136 (Iron and steel), sub-item (e), paragraph (1) ; item. 179 (Electrical machines and appliances), sub-item (d) ; and item 365 (Pianos and piano-players).
The purpose of recommitting item 105 is to bring the duty on velvets into line with the reduced duty on silk. On item 136I propose to raise the gauge of wire, so that it will include smaller wire and exempt fencing wire from the ad valorem duty. The proposed amendment to item 179 is consequential upon something which the Committee did last night in connexion with X-rays apparatus. We desire the Committee to reconsider the duties on pianos and piano-players.
– I wish to move -
That item 24 (Cigars) be added to the motion.
Amendment (by Mr. Gregory) proposed -
That item 171 (reapers and binders) and item 334 (news print) be added.
.-Will the Minister (Mr. Greene) consent to the recommittal of item 161, with a view to placing milking machines on the free list?
– I could not, to-day; I do not know enough about the matter.
– These machines are not manufactured in Australia.
– If they are not manufactured in Australia they may be admitted free in any case.
.- When item 300 (spokes) was before us I handed some figures to the Minister (Mr. Greene), who said that if they were correct a duty of 5 per cent. was not sufficient to protect the industry. Further, when I rose to speak on that item, the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins), who was in the chair, through some misunderstanding, put the item, and it was allowed to pass. Under the circumstances, I suggest that the item, and also item 116, parasols, be recommitted to give opportunity for further discussion. I move -
That items116 and 300 be added.
-I rise to a point of order. I wish to know how we stand in regard to this motion, because it appears to me that we are opening up a very wide field ofdebate. Is what is going on strictly in order? I have submitted a definite motion, are thevarious suggestions made to be added to my motion, or what is transpiring? So far as I understand the position, the only thing that can be done isto amend the motion. Is that the position?
– The Minister (Mr. Greene) has proposed to recommit certain items; the numbers of which he has mentioned. The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Blundell) proposes to add item 24 to that motion, and the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) proposes to add two items-
Several honorable members interjecting.
– If honorable members are not inclined to obey the Standing Orders, I shall have to take some other steps. It is usual, particularly when the Speaker is asked for an explanation as to procedure, for honorable members to listen to the explanation. It is quite competent for the honorable member for. Adelaide to move for the recommittal of a certain item., and it is quite competent for any other honorable member to move the addition of others; it is thenwithin the province of the House to accept or reject the proposals.
– I desire to give notice that I shall move for the recommittal of item 160, with a view to the increase of a duty on threshing machines.
– I give notice of my intention to move the recommittal of item 291 (timber).
.- I should like to move that the whole Tariff be recommitted and the items considered seriatim.
.- I desire to give notice that I shall move to recommit item 320, in order to reconsider the duty imposed on films.
– So that we may know where we are, can we not have each amendment proposed put to the House and voted on? Otherwise we shall be here for ever.
– I submit that this procedure is quite irregular. So far as I have always understood, the proper procedure on recommittal is that while each proposed addition is quite in order, each must itself form the subject of a separate amendment andbe voted on before it is added to the Minister’s list.
– That procedure will be followed. The Minister has submitted a motion, and these various motions, of which notice is being given, are proposed as additions and will be put in their turn.
-I submit that no other proposed additions can be submitted until the Minister’s motion is dealt with.
-May not the Minister’s motion have amendments moved to it?
– We cannot have a group of amendments added; each individual member must have his proposed addition decided by a specific vote of the House.
– It is my wish to propose that the item of pianos be omitted from the Minister’s proposed recommittals. Shall I have to move that separately ?
– The honorable member will have to move an amendment to omit that item.
-Shall I need to move an amendment?
– I have already intimated to the House that it is in order to propose any addition to the motion of the. Minister. I intend to put those proposed additions to the House separately, and put the Minister’s motion as he has proposed it.
– I am not yet quite clear. The Minister has proposed to recommit three or four items, one of which I wish to have omitted. Will the Minister’s list be put seriatim, or shall I have to move the omission of the item ?.
– When that question comes before the House, the honorable member will be in order in moving the omission of any item.
– If the Minister will place before the Committee only those items in regard to which there is some doubt, or some errors we can rectify, I shall be only too pleased to withdraw my amendment to permit of such items being dealt with. But if the Minister is going to contest the decision of the House as arrived at the other night in regard to pianos, I shall feel quite justified in asking for the recommittal of the items I mentioned.
– I shall agree not to raise the question of pianos at this time.
– Then I shall withdraw my notice of amendment for the time being.
– (By leave). - Iam prepared to amend my motion so. as to provide for the recommittal of item 53, dried fruits, according to a definite promise which I made to the Committee. There was some doubt about the item at the time which I could not clear up, and I promised to recommit it. The next item is 105, sub-item e, piece goods, and it is simply an adjustment for departmental purposes, making the duty 5 per cent. lower, so as to bring it into line with another item. The next item I propose to include is 136, iron and steel, sub-item e, paragraph 1, and this represents an adjustment which I promised to make. Then there is item 179, sub-item d, electrical machines and appliances. This is a consequential amendment, this result of something we did in Committee last night in connexion with X-ray apparatus and induction coils. Induction coils were included with X-ray apparatus, and the ‘object now is to make it quite clear that this item does not include them. If honorable members are satisfied with my motion as thus amended, I shall so limit it.
-Do I understand the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) to withdraw his amendment ?
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
-Do I understand that the discussion on which weare now apparently entering will prevent honorable members from giving further notice of motions to recommit items? . I desire to give notice of a further recommittal.
– There can be no discussion.
.- Am I to understand that this motion is for a recommital of the Tariff.
– In respect of certain items.
-To consider certain items which the Minister has mentioned? Do I understand that if an honorable member desires to have other items reconsidered, he must move an amendment to the motion of the Minister ? That is what I understand the position to be; otherwise we should.be precluded from debating the question in the ordinary way. I have an amendment of the Minister’s motion which I desire to move, and I propose to doso before I sit down; but i do not wish to raise any question that will lead to the undue protraction of the consideration of the Tariff. At the same time, it would be unfortunate if, by the procedure we are adopting, honorable members could only rise in their places to refer to certain items which must be put without debate.
– Why not recommit the whole Tariff?
– Why not?
-That shows the absurdity of the whole procedure.
-Exactly. We have a motion before us to reconsider certain items, and I understand that every motion submitted to the House is subject to amendment. I would like to know the position. Will the amendments of which honorable members have given notice simply be put to the House without debate, or will the honorable member who moves an amendment have the right to submit reasons to show why any particular item should be recommitted? I contend that he can do so.
– Then there will be no finality.
– There will be finality when every honorable member who wishes to speak has done so; and a vote is taken. To test the matter, I wish to move -
That item 291, sub-items (i) and (j) be added to the motion.
These sub-items referred to are timber, sawn or dressed, imported for the use of box making.
-The honorable member must not debate the merits of the duty he may propose to recommit. He may only give reasons why the, item shouldbe recommitted.
-I propose merely to relate the circumstances which I think justify the recommittal of the item. When the Tariff was before the Committee of Ways and Means the duty on timber in the rough was raised, but no corresponding increase was made in the duty on timber cut into sizes for box making, the result being that there is every inducement to have that timber sawn into sizes outside Australia. Unless a corresponding increase is made in the duty on this timber great injury will be done to the box-making industry, and a large number of men will be thrown out of employment.
-When an honorable member is moving for the recommittal of an. item, is he permitted to discuss the merits of his proposed alteration to the duty?
-I have just informed the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) that he would not be in order in discussing the merits of any item, but must confine his remarks to giving reasons for recommittal.
– If a specific motion is moved, to which amendments are made, I understand that only one amendment can be dealt with at a time, and a vote must be taken on it before any other amendment can be submitted or voted upon.
– It is quitecompetentfor any honorable member, or for all honorable members, if they chose, to move additions to the Minister’s motion for the purpose of including other items, and when honorable members have ceased to notify their desired recommitments, I shall submit their amendments in the order in which I have received them as amendments to the Minister’s motion, and the House will decide upon each one separately.
– It would be just as logical for me to give notice that I intend to move for the recommittal of the whole Tariff.
– “When honorable members interrupted I was moving an amendment to the Minister’s motion, the only amendment, I understand, which, so far, has been actually submitted, although some honorable members have given notice of others; and I am giving reasons for desiring the recommittal of this particular item. I understood that it was proposed to submit each item to the House for decision without debate, butI regard that as an impossible way of getting a decision from a deliberative assembly. Honorable members could hardly know what the various items proposed to be recommittedrefer to without information upon them, or without hearing the reasons in the minds of the honorable members who desire the recommittal. I have given my reasons as briefly as possible for the recommittal of item 291, sub-itemsi and j.
– I want to know the exact position. I have no great desire to add anything to the Minister’s motion, but I took the opportunity afforded to me by the submission of the motion to bring under the Minister’s attention an amendment which I submitted to the Committee ofWays and Means last night, but withdrew on the distinct promise of the Minister that he would reconsider the position, and endeavour to meet the situation.
-I will do so, but I cannot do it now.
– Will the Minister promise to have the matter dealt with in another place?
– I can assure the honorable member that I will reconsider the matter. More than that I cannot do.
– In the circumstances I shall not move the amendment of which I have given notice.
. -I appeal to the House not to continue this course of submitting amendments.
– Why not appeal to the Minister for Trade and Customs? He can do all he wants to do now when the Tariff is before the Senate.
-The Minister is merely keeping faith with the Committee of Ways and Means. He promised that he would recommit the duty on dried fruits, and theother items which he proposes to recommit are to be amended simply for the purpose of making re-adjustments, but now every honorable member wants to open up a new Tariff debate on a matter on which he has not been able to convincethe Committee of Ways and Means. This is not playing the game. I appeal to the House to allow the Minister’s motion to pass so that he may make these simple readjustments which raise no new principles, but at the same time enable the Minister to keep faith with the Committee of Ways andMeans. Then let us finish off the Tariff. It is not fair at this stage to introduce new matters, or to re-open items already decided upon. No one wants a Tariff debate over again. In any case, there was an understanding that we would try to close this matter up. It will be absolutely impossible to do so if honorable members continue as they are doing this morning..
– How could anomalies clearly shown, on the face of the Tariff be rectified ?
– On the best Tariff in the world there will be specks; but there is another place in which the whole matter can be reviewed.
– Nothing has been said about that.
– Honorable members know that what I am suggesting is the right thing to do. What they propose to do to-day will only lead to further confusion, and not help matters. Therefore I ask honorable members to withdraw their: amendments.
– I submit that if the Minister’s motion were put to the House, it would , be. . competent for any honorable member to move an amendment, and we could take a vote on that amendment, and be done with it. But there is now nothing before the House. The Minister has moved a motion, but it has not been put.
– The honorable member has failed to understand the position. The Minister has moved a motion which has been submitted to the House.
– Excuse me, it has not been submitted.
– The honorable member must withdraw that statement.
– I am unaware that it has been submitted to the House.
– The Minister’s motion was submitted to’ the House, and immediately afterwardsan honorable member rose to submitan amendment to it by the addition of a further item.Other honorable members followed with amendments for the addition of other items. The Minister’s motion could not be submitted to the House after an amendment had been moved upon it. “When all the amendments submitted have been dealt with, we shall revert to the Minister’s motion, which it will be competent for honorable members to accept or reject. I am powerless to refuse to accept any amendment moved by an honorable member to provide for the recommittal of additional items.
. -In reply to the Acting Prime Minister-
– Order! The question cannot be debated.
– The Acting Prime Minister was allowed to address the House.
– He was allowed to make a suggestion to the House, and in the circumstancesI thought that it was a proper thingto do.
.-I am opposed to the recommittal of any item. In Committeeof Ways and Means we have had almost endless talk on Tariff items.
– Order ! The honorable member may not debate thegeneralquestion.
-I shall divide the House on the question.
– The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Francis) proposes to amend the motion by adding item 116 and item 300.
-MayI give my reasons for submitting the amendment?
– May I beg leave to follow the excellent example of the Acting Prime Minister (Sir Joseph Cook) by making a suggestion to the House?
– Is it the pleasure of the House that the honorable member have leave to make a statement?
.- I rise to speak to the amendment moved by the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Francis), who has moved for the recommittal of item 116 and item 300.There is no explanation before the House as to the matters to which those items relate, and I am endeavouring to look them up, so that I may cast an intelligent vote upon the amendment. There seems to be a desire on the part of some honorable members to have done with the Tariff.
– They have been here while the honorable member has been away.
– Perhaps they have.
– On a point of order, is it competent for the honorable member for West Sydney to make two speeches on the motion ?
– I am not doing so; I am addressing “myself to the amendment. The honorable member apparently is not acquainted with the procedure under the Standing Orders. We should not allow an injustice to be done to any section of the community merely because some honorable members are in a hurry to get away.
– Well, let us vote on the amendment.
– That is all very well, but I want to know why the honorable member for Henty desires to recommit the two items mentioned by him.
– He has not chosen to tell the House.
– Because he has not been afforded an opportunity to do so. He probably thought that he would be allowed lateron to give his reasons for submitting the amendment. That is why I object to the procedure that has been adopted of simply allowing an honorable member to move an amendment providing for the recommittal of a particular item and not permitting him to state his reasons for doing so. I am prepared to remain here for a fortnight, if necessary, to deal with recommittals, rather than that any injustice should be done. For what are we paid but to do our work by, in this case, examining the Tariff?
– The honorable member was not here for the greater part of the time that the Tariff was under discussion.
– The honorable member is not going to prevent me from giving proper consideration to this amendment, or to any other that may be moved.
– Where has the honorable member been during the last fortnight ?
Mr.RYAN. - Those who are interjecting do not even know the subject-matter of the items covered” by the amendment.
– We do. We have been hearing of them for over a week.
– Then what are they?
– We have heard the honorable member for Henty speaking of them.
– Will the honorable member tell us to what the items relate? Unless an opportunity be afforded us to discuss these matters, I shall vote for every amendment to recommit an item, so that I may be sure of having an opportunity of discussing it if it is recommitted. We have had no statement-
– The honorable member has not been here.
– The honorable member may keep on interjecting, but he is not going to make me sit down.
– I want to call attention to the honorable member’s absence during the Tariff discussions.
– The honorable member may call attention to whatever he pleases.
– This is quite unworthy of the honorable member.
– Honorable members opposite may keep on interjecting, but they will not deter me from doing what I consider to be my duty. We know that there are anomalies in this Tariff.
– There is no doubt about that.
– Then, why should we not be prepared to spend a littlemore time in rectifying them ? I have no special interest in the amendment moved by the honorable member for Henty; I do not even know yet to what the items covered by itrefer. No doubt, when they were beingdealt with in Committee the honorable member did not get what he conceived to be justice for those represented by him.
– On a point of order, I submit that it is not in order to discuss the amendment moved by the honorable member for Henty until that previously moved by the honorable member for West Sydney has been dealt with.
Mr.DEPUTY SPEAKER. - The amendment moved by the honorable member for West Sydney is not before the Chair, and will not be until the preceding amendments have been disposed of. The honorable member for West Sydney is entitled to speak to the amendment moved by the honorable member for Henty.
– On a further point of order, is not the honorable member for West Sydney obliged to confine his remarks to the subject-matter of the amendment immediately before the Chair?
– Undoubtedly. I have already ruled that the debate must be confined to a statementof reasons for or against the proposed recommittal.
– On a point of order, is it competent for the honorable member for Henty to include two items in -his amendment? I might be in favour of recommitting one, and opposed to the recommittal of the other.
– The matter is entirely within the province of the honorable member for Henty himself.
– Have I no right of reply ?
Several honorable members interjecting,
– Honorable members opposite are not going to get on any faster with this business by trying to put me down. Iask them to put aside any feeling that may have been engendered by any discussion that has taken place this morning. I desire only to give intelligent consideration to each amendment as it is submitted. The honorable member for Henty has moved an amendment, and we have not even been told what are the subjectmatters of the items covered by it.
– I shall soon tell the House if I get an opportunity.
– I shall be very glad to hear the reasons that actuated the honorablemember in moving to have these particular items included in the motion for recommittal. I find that item116 refers to parasols, sunshades, and umbrellas, while item 300 refers to woodware for vehicles. But how can we give an intelligent vote on this or any other amendment unless we are permited to debate it? If we are to be called upon to vote without any debate whatever, we shall be voting in the dark.
– We have spent six weeks in discussing the Tariff.
– Having regard to the large number of items included in the schedule, the discussion has been very short, and the Minister (Mr. Greene) should not be impatient of a little further discussion in order to clear up in this Chamber what he may not be able to clear up in the Senate. We have no guarantee that the items covered by the amendment, if not recommitted here, will receive any consideration in another place. We have no undertaking from the Minister that he will ask his representative there to take up any particular attitude in regard to them. If, in respect of each amendment, he would state what attitude his representative in the Senate is likely to take up, it mightlead to a speedier decision of the question here. I do not desire to delay the House, but I hope we shall deal with each amendment on its merits. It might take a few days to discuss all the items proposed to be recommitted, but,at all events, their discussion would not take verylong.
– Why not move to recommit the whole schedule?
– You can do so if you like.
:- I have taken a very keen interest in the debates on the Tariff, and, save in respect of anomalies that have occurred, and which, as the Minister has said, should be rectified here, I am quite content. I took strong exception to the proposed re-opening of thepiano duties when they had been settled after a long discussion in Committee, feeling that if they were to be reconsidered I would be justified in asking for the reconsideration of other duties of importance to those whom I represent. If members are going to propose item after item for reconsideration, merely because they were dissatisfied with the decisions of the Committee on those items, we shall find ourselves committed to the reconsideration of the entire schedule. I ask the Minister not to permit that.
.– What is in the mindof the honorable member for Henty in asking for these recommittals ?
– The Minister told me that, if I could show that my figures were correct, he. would give me a higher duty.
– Then the honorable member should be permitted to give reasons for asking for the recommittal of the items. The recommittal of about twenty items has been proposed, and they should be disposed of in Committee of Ways and Means ina couple of hours. The Minister and his officials cannot know the effect of every duty, and members who have other information should be permitted to bring it before the Committee, so that anomalies may be rectified. So far as parasols are concerned, I object to an increase of the duty; but the schedule should not be sent to another place until we have made it as perfect as possible. If a member is not allowed to give reasons for moving for the recommittal of an item, the parliamentary institution becomes a farce. No member can vote honestly on a proposal for recommittal without knowing why it was moved.
– Have I leave to make a statement?
– I do not know what reasons actuated the honorable member for Henty in moving for the recommittal of certain items, though they may be supposed to be obvious. It seems to be thought unnecessary for a member to be informed on these questions. Therefore, I can only say that, in my opinion, the items should be recommitted for the reasons which have not been allowed to be stated, and which, therefore, I do not know. Incidentally I should like to give notice that I propose to take certain action.
– The honorable member may not’ do that at this stage.
– I hope that the honorable member for Henty will press his proposal to a division, and that he will get the support of all those who are not permitted to know the reasonsfor what he is doing.
.- (By leave.)- It is beyond my physical capacity to make speeches about all these items this morning; but the reason why I do not agree to the recommittal of the duty on hickory spokes is that on investigation I have found that the spokes cost three times as much now as they did before the war, and, therefore, there seems to be no need to increase the protection given for the manufacture , of them..
– Does he ask for an increase or a decrease of the duty ?
– For an increase of it. If members will not allow us to make progress, it seems to me better that I should’ withdraw my motion and leave it to the Senate to put right anything that may need rectification. With regard to what has been said by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan), I would remind members that the same points were raised in Committee, and that I replied to them there, giving reasons why there should be no further increase of duties.
-Can the Minister say what matters he proposes to have put right in the Senate?
– If any member will bring to me any matter that he desires to have considered, I will look into it. I do not promise to do everything that I am asked to do, but when a reasonable case is made out, I shall try to have it dealt with in another place. If, on the contrary, I feel that my original judgment is right, I must stand by it.
– In justice to the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Francis), who by the rules of debate was prevented from explaining the reasons for his amendment, I wish to say that one of his proposals is the recommittal of sub-item g of item 300, so that the duties on hickory spokes may be reconsidered, the Minister having promised that if the figures which the honorable member had produced were shown to be correct a higher duty would be given. Will the Minister go into this matter with the honorable member before the schedule is sent to the other Chamber?
– I have just said that I would do that.
.- I sympathize greatly with the Minister in his present state of ill-health. When I gave notice to move in regard to item 161-
– That is not now before the House.
– The honorable member for Henty has moved to recommit items 160 and 300,for the reconsideration of two separate sets of duties. I am with him in regard to one of these matters.
– The honorable member now wishes to withdraw his amendment.
– I think I must object to that, because I desire to advancereasons
-I understand that it is not in order to advance reasons.
– In regard to one of the items included in the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Henty, I can support him, but in regard to the other, I cannot. The amendment is a complicated one, and standing order 122 provides that the House may order a complicated question to be divided. I think it is competent for the Deputy Speaker to divide the question on hisown initiative, so that the two items may be put separately. But if he is not prepared to do that, I shall be reluctantly compelled to move a motion to that effect.
-If the House desires that the amendment shall be divided, it can so order, but it is not within the province of the Chair to alter an amendment proposed by any honorable member.
.- I accept the Minister’s assurance that he will give further consideration to the items mentioned in my amendment before they are dealt with in another place. And I, therefore, ask leave to withdraw my. amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
. -When we were dealing with the item which is the subject of my amendment the Minister was anxious to reach, at that sitting, a certain stage in the Tariff, and in order to expedite the business he promised honorable members who were anxious to speak that he would recommit certain items. Honorable members refrained from speaking for that reason, and I, therefore, resent the statement of the Acting Prime Minister (Sir Joseph Cook) that honorable members who have to-day moved the recommittal of items are not treating the House fairly. However, in deference to the expressed wish of the Minister, and in view of his promise to deal with these items in another place, I ask leave to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
.- I. understood that the Minister made a statement earlier that he intended to move for the recommittal of item 365 (pianos and piano players), but I now learn that subsequently he withdrew that promise. What is his intention? If he will give an . assurance that the matter will be dealt with in another place, I shall not press an amendment.
– Is the amendment of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Mathews) for the addition of item 168(machinery) to the motion seconded?
– I second the amendment.
.- The statement made by the Minister has gone a long way to clear up the misunderstanding that arose in the early part of the discussion in regard to items other than those included in his motion for recommittal. Some remarks were made about not playing the game which would have been better left unsaid. As the Minister has a majority in this Chamber, he can do what he likes; but if he will give an assurance that he will give serious consideration to the items which have been made the subject of amendments to his motion for recommittal and, if necessary, have them dealt with in another place, that should be satisfactory to honorable members.
– I have already given that assurance, and I repeat it in the most definite way.
– So long as we have a definite promise to that effect, I am satisfied. We want some assurance that the Tariff will come back to this Chamber, because unless the proposed requests are agreed to in another place, the Tariff will not come back for further consideration in regard to those matters. The
Minister -has promised that he will make’ a serious attempt to clear the hurdles in another place, and if he does that we shall have another opportunity of considering portions of the Tariff.
– Will the Minister give an assurance that he will give further consideration to the duty upon box timber?
– I have given that promise in regard to all these items.
– Then I am prepared to withdraw my amendment.
– I do not see how my amendment can be discussed unless I have an opportunity of saying why item 168 should be recommitted.
– The honorable member was absent when I stated his amendment to the House and called for a seconder. A discussion has taken place, and the honorable member has lost his opportunity of speaking.
Other proposed amendments not moved.
Question amended to read as follows, andagreed to -
That the resolution with respect to duties of Customs be recommitted to the Committee of Ways and Means for the reconsideration of items 53, 105e, 136e1, and 179d.
Item 53 (Fruits, dried).
– I move -
That the item be amended by adding the following words: - “(c) Prunes, on and after 9th July, 1921, perIb., British, 4½d. ; intermediate, 4½d.; general, 4½d.
.- When dealing with this item previously I, and other honorable members quoted figures to prove that a duty of 6d. per lb. would be fair and reasonable, and I am glad the Minister has acceeded to my request to have the item on prunes recommitted. I am, of course, thankful to him for meeting me half-way.
-You ought to be satisfied.
– I like that interjection from the honorable member who should be giving me his support! In talcing the attitude I do in asking for 6d. a lb. duty I have the whole of the Fruit Growers Associations of New South Wales at my back. This year there was a large surplus of prunes, and the Californian fruit was imported into Sydney at 6d per lb. There was a duty of 3d., andthe freight cost ½d. leaving a price of2½d. f.o.b. in American ports , to cover production, local transport, and so forth. We know that 2½d. does not cover the cost of production, so that a great deal of dumping must have been going on.
-“ One swallow does not make a summer,” and one consignment scarcely justifies the honorable members request.
– It represents far more thanone consignment. I have here a letter from one of the largest branches of the Fruit Growers Association in New South Wales, and it puts the position very reasonably. It says -
My association is indebted to you for your prompt action in this matter. … It may be of service to mention the approximate costs of production in this district under existing conditions of labour. Briefly, they ‘may be summarized as follows : - Cultivation, spraying, and pruning,£10perton;harvesting,£7;dipping, drying, and processing, £20 per ton ; packing (cases and material), £5; and freight and cartage, £4; or atotal of£46 per ton.
That is under the estimate which has been submitted to myself and other honorable membersby another body that met us here; but I am willing to adopt the costs as set out in this letter -
To this sum must be added at least 20 per cent. for wastage from damage and inferior fruit. It should further be borne in mind that the orchardist has to waiteight to ten years before histrees reach afully productive age. The above costs are based on a daily wage of 12s. for casual labour. As you are no doubt aware, large areas of prune orchards havebeen planted for returned soldiers.
In view of that estimate of£46 per ton, a duty of 6d. is not unreasonable, particularly in view of what we have already done in regard to bananas and other commodities. I am sorry that the Minister (Mr. Greene) has not seen his way to impose a higher rate than 4½d., because the request for it is backed by the people who are most largely interested in the industry.
– It is backed by the primary producers.
– Quite so, and I am sorry to see the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) “going back” on them.
– The honorable member for Dampierhasbeen consistent right through hebelieves in fair protection but not in unduly high protection.
– That is an apologia tendered on behalf of the honorable member for Dampier by his colleague, and I cannot understand such interjections coming from members who claim the title ofCountry party. I have heard those honorable members present several cases which they claimed to represent the views of the man on the land.
– But not for high duties.
-Ifthe people interested in the cultivation of prunes do not get the higher duty, they will feel that an injustice has-been done to them, and I appeal to the House to give them a fair deal.
-i have looked into the matter verycarefully, and the duties now before the Committee are the highest I feel justified in proposing.
– Then, in order to test the matter, I move -
That the amendment be amended by leaving out the figure “ 4½d.” and inserting “ 6d.”
If the members of the Countryparty give their support we will carry my amendment.
– I hope the Minister (Mr.Greene) will agree to the reasonable proposal now before the. Committee. This is one of the few instances: of the primary producer asking for protection against importers from overseas. The Government have promised protection for Australian industries against the foreigner, and the prunegrowers are nowasking for protection against the Californian grower, who uses Dago and child labour.
– The wages are higher in America than they are here.
– That is very interesting from a man whois always contending that the Australian workers ask, and get, higher wages than are paid in any other country in the world.
– I never said anything of the sort.
– I hope that the honorable memberwilltakecareto tell the fruit-growershow fortunate they are. in obtaining cheaper labour than is procurable in. America.
– I did not say cheaper labour; I said the American employees were paid more. It is possible to have very dear labour, even if lower wages are paid.
-That is no great compliment to the Australian workmen - to say that the Dago is the better worker.
– I beg to call attention to the state of the Committee [Quorum formed.]
– The amendment only asks for fair treatment of those who have put their money into these orchards; and here I may say that I do not observe any general desire on the part of honorable members who have city interests to rush into avenues of industry in the country. This is not a mere matter of enabling a man to earn sufficient to live on, but one of insuring him a return on the money he invests. We have to remember that many returned soldiers are being settled in this industry, andit is only just that they should be given adequate protection. It was not until the fruitgrowers got their associations to act that they were able to make any headway at all, and I think the prune-growers have put forward a good case for an increased duty. The figures presented to-day show that it costs at least 5d. per lb. to prepare the fruit for the market, and when American prunes can be landed here at 6d. a lb., what chance has the localgrower? The orchardist on the Murray, has to send his fruit, to Sydney, or to some of the other great cities, and I daresay that it costs just as much for carriage in Australia asit does from California. Unfortunately, we have no water carriage, and. railway freights have risen to such a degree as to prove a great drawback to country development.
– And do you think a Tariff ought to be imposed to enable the State Government to levy Bolshevik rates on the railways ?
-I thought the honorable member said that Bolshevism aimed at getting something for nothing, and, if I am, right, the honorable member is scarcely fair to the Railways Commissioners.
Sit ting suspendedfrom1to2.15pm
– According to promise,. I have recommitted this item. I have gone carefully into the whole matter since it was first raised in the Committee, and am sorry that I do not feel justified in the circumstances in recommending a higher duty than that of 4½d. per lb., which I have proposed. I ask the Committee to accept that duty.
-I regret that the Minister (Mr. Greene) cannot see his way to accept the amendment of the amendment movedby the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney). We have been working on this matter for a considerable time, with a view to securing something like reasonable protection for our fruit-growers I have here some correspondence on the subject, which I think puts the position of the fruit-grower better than I could hope to do. Mr. J. M. Sinclair, president of the Bamawm District Fruit-growers Co-operative Association, under date 29th June last, haswritten to me as follows : -
Dear Sir. - At the last meeting of the Bamawm District Fruit-growers, Co-operative Association, a motion was carried that the Minister for Customs, be asked to place a duty of 6d. per lb. on. imported prunes. The position is exactly and correctly stated in the attached press extract. Duringthe past two years, returned soldiers engaging in fruit growing have, both; in Victoria and New South. Wales, planted largeareas of prune trees. Victorian nurserymen sold out all their prune trees last season. One nurseryman informed me that 20,000 trees were sold for planting last season. This season, with Californian prunes being dumped on the Australian market, Victorian growers are finding a difficultyin finding a market for their prunes at payable prices. The prune-grower is entitled to protection, in the same degree as the currantgrower until the industry is more thoroughly established. We trust that you, with the Country representatives, will take action, while the Tariff is being considered, in the direction of having a duty of 6d.perlb. placed on imported prunes.
The newspaper extract refered to is from theFruit World of1st ultimo, and is as follows:-
Dried and Canned Fruit Notes. importation of prunes.
Urging on Increase of the Duty to 6d. perlb.
As wellknown prune-grower writes: - “ The position is this; that each year, before the new season’s prunes come in in America, they (theAmericans) endeavour to export their carry-over of prunes, and, needless tosay, they cut prices to make sales. “ When they are making their efforts to clearup stocks at the reduced prices, our prunes are just ready to Be put on our markets, and we have to meet the cut prices quoted by Americans. “ As you know, their new season’s prunes come in August-September. Well, in 1920, their opening prices, which are maintained for the full season in America, were, for prunes going 80-90 to the 1 lb., 8d. c.i.f. Sydney, and to-day their price for same grade prune is 4d. c.i.f. “ Although they will maintain their opening price throughout the year for their, home market, they reduce their price by 50 per cent. for the Australian market. “ To verify my figures, apply to Brown and Dureau for c.i.f. price prunes 80-90 for August last and c.i.f. prices for same prunes to-day. “The fact of the price dropping to such an extent, and it being well known amongst merchants that California is likely to have a big carry-over, makes it hard to sell Australian prunes at anything like a fair price, because merchants expect America to force sales by further reduction as their new season approaches, so as not to have any carry-over’. “New South Wales growers are very much concerned, and feel that’ if they are not properly protected they will not be able to stand the competition. “ They are not financiallystrong, and are not able to hold their fruit until after the American price cutting is over, therefore have to realize just when the competition is keenest with Americans forcing sales. “ The Coastal Farmers Co-operative Company, who sell most of the New South Wales produced prunes, we believe, are very much concerned about this matter, and are, I believe, approaching the Minister for Trade and Customs. If the duty is raised to 6d. per lb., growers would guarantee not to take full advantage of duty and, would ‘sell below the American landed prices. “ The Australian productionhas; we believe, just about overtaken the demand. “ We carried over from last season 20 tons prunes, and all merchants carried over stocks from last year, the shortage of sugar having restricted the sale of dried fruits last winter. “ We are to-day offering our prunes, which are better and fresher than Californians, at 8½d. per lb., delivered in stores Sydney or Newcastle, but whenever we quote the Americans undercut.”
That, then, is the position. The Americans can land their fruit in the stores, Sydney, duty paid, at from 6d. to 6½d. per lb. I have in my electorate a large number of fruit-growers - probably a larger number than is to be found in any other Federal division in this State. Quite a number of them are returned soldiers, who have planted large areas with prunes. Some of the older areas are now coming into medium or full bearing, and, to use a colloquialism, the owners of these areas are “up against it.” The
Shepparton Co-operative Fruit. Preserving Company, the shareholders in which are largely returned men, who are struggling financially, has still on hand large quantities of ordinary fruits, together with a fairly large quantity of prunes, for which they cannot obtain a market. The Americans are dumping prunes here at exceedingly low prices, and are getting the trade. No matter what price our growers quote, the Americans undercut them.
– In that case an additional duty would not help them.
– Yes; it would keep out these imports. The price at which Californian prunes are being sold here would return the Californian grower only¼d. per lb. for his green fruit. Even with black labour that would not be a payable proposition.
– If it is a clear case of dumping, the Anti-Dumping Bill will deal with it.
-I do not care how it is dealt with as long as our local growers are properly protected. I hope the Minister will agree to increase the duty to 6d. per lb.
Question - That the rate proposed to be omitted (Mr. Parkes Moloney’s amendment of the amendment) stand part of the proposed amendment - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 9
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment of the amendment negatived.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 105 (Velvets, velveteens, plushes, &c.).
– I propose to amend sub-item e of this item, because it is very difficult to discriminate between some of the materials that are included in sub-item d, and others that are included in sub-item e, and the Department thinks it better, therefore, to apply the same rates of duty to both. For this reason I move -
That the item he further amended by adding the following words to sub-item (e) (general Tariff) : - “ And on and after9th July, 1921, 20 per cent.”
Amendment agreed to.
Sub-item, as further amended, agreed to.
Item 136 (as amended) -
And on and after 9th June, 1921 -
(1) Wire of No. 14 or finer gauge, ad val., British, 25 per cent.; intermediate, 30 per cent.; general, 35 per cent.
– I promised the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) that if it were found that certain classes of fencing wire were included in paragraph e, as amended, I would recommit the item. As this does occur, I move -
That the item be further amended by adding to sub-item (e) 1, the following words: - “And on and after 9th July, 1921, Wire of No. 16 or finer gauge, ad val., British, 25 per cent.; intermediate, 30 ‘per cent.; general, 35 per cent.”
.- I thank the Minister for having proposed this alteration. When the item was originally amended, honorable members could not know what the effect of the amendment would be, but the new rates had hardly been put into force before it was found that a good deal of 14-gauge wire is used for fencing, and that the duty levied on it amounted to no less than £18 per ton. I ask the Minister if he will agree to lower rates than 25 per cent. and 35 per cent. on wire of finer gauge, which is used by the farmer for the trussing of straw and for many other purposes, and by makers of cages and other manufac turers. Wire imported for the manufacture of barbed wire and netting is exempt, but many other manufacturers import wire as their raw material, and, probably, as the rates stand, the duty on the finer gauges runs to £20 or £25 per ton. I have here an article written by Mr. Brownlie, one of the big Labour leaders of Great Britain, who made an inquiry into the economic and labour conditions of America. It is dated 21st May last, and contains the statement that the average wage of the steel worker in the. United States of America is 3s.1d. per hour, while that of the British worker is about 1s. 8d. per hour. I do not think that our workers are better paid, on the average, than those of England. Surely, therefore, our manufacturers do not need a protective duty of 35 per cent. in addition to the natural protection which they enjoy by reason of the heavy freight charges on transport of wire from abroad. I do not like the ad valorem rates, but the Minister has pointed out that the length of wire contained in a ton increases with the fineness of the gauge, and that, therefore, specific rates would be unfair. While file American firms have wonderful plants, I think that with the up-to-date plants such as the Broken Hill Company and subsidiary companies use duties as high as those proposed are unnecessary.
. -I shall look into the matter, and if it is thought that the duties are unnecessarily high, I shall ask for a request for alteration in the Senate.
– You will find that necessary.
Amendment agreed to.
Paragraph, as amended, agreed to.
Sub-item d of item 179 consequentially amended and agreed to.
Standing Orders suspended, and resolutions adopted.
That Mr. Greene and Sir Joseph Cook do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolutions.
Bill presented by Mr. Greene, and read a first time.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 8 and 14 are the ordinary provisions for giving legislative effect to the Tariff schedule, and clauses 9, 10, and 11 deal with the application of the preferential and intermediate Tariff rates. Clause 9 provides for the application of the British preferential Tariff, wholly or in part, to any part of the British Dominions, and for the application of the intermediate Tariff, wholly or in part, to any part of the British Dominions or to any foreign country. Negotiations may be undertaken and arrangements entered into tentatively for the application of the Britishpreferential or the intermediate Tariff rates either iff whole or in part to any part of the British Empire, and in regard to foreign countries power is given to negotiate on the basis of the intermediate and general rates. In regard to foreign countries, British preferential rates cannot be conceded; the negotiations must be on the basis of the intermediate Tariff or the general Tariff. The Bill further provides that after the Minister has negotiated with a British Dominion or a foreign country, as the case may be, and before he brings the proposal to Parliament for ratification he must obtain a report from the Tariff Board. “We are endeavouring to insure that. Parliament shall have at its disposal a complete report by an independent body on the proposals which the Minister is submitting. Presumably the Minister will bring up with his proposal to Parliament the report of the Tariff Board. We do not lay a definite obligation upon him to do so, but Parliament can ask for the report, and no doubt will obtain it.
– Why not make it mandatory for the Minister to produce the report to Parliament?
-I do not see any necessity to go as far as that. We make it mandatory upon the Minister to get the report, and no doubt Parliament will take all sorts of care that it has an opportunity of studying it. The only other provision of any moment is that which provides for the application of deferred duties. It will be noticed that if the Minister gets from the Tariff Board a certificate that goods are not being manufactured in this country in sufficient or of satisfactory volume he may defer from time to time the operation of the deferred duties. I have repeatedly traversed this ground in the course of. the debate on the Tariff, and I think members are generallyfamiliar with the provisions of the Bill.
.- Does the Minister propose to pass this Bill this afternoon? If so, why? Unless there is a special reason for the immediate passage of the measure I think it might well be arranged to consider it simultaneously with the Bills relating to the Tariff Board and dumping. Moreover, I have a great objection to passing legislation which honorable members have not had an opportunity of perusing, let alone understanding. This Bill refers extensively to theTariff Board, but the House may not agree to the appointment of that body.
– The only reason why we want to get the Bill passed this afternoon is that until it is passed the schedule cannot be sent to another place.
-There is no debatable matter in this Bill which cannot be debated on the measures which are to be considered later.
– Suppose the House decides not to create a Tariff Board? I, at any rate, am not prepared to delegate the proposed powers to a Board.
– If the Tariff Board is not agreed to, we can delete from this Bill in the Senate the references to it, or withdraw the Bill.
– If another place has agreed to the Tariff before the Tariff Board Bill is disposed of we can introduce another Bill to amend this measure. But as the Senate is not likely to dispose of this Bill before we have come to a decision in regard to the Board, our decision can be expressed by an amendment in another place.
– Ifwe do not agree to the creation of a Tariff Board the references to it in this Bill will be rendered nugatory.
-I accept that explanation; but I always like to have an opportunity of reading a Bill. This measure includes new provisions relating to British preference. Of course,reciprocity cannot be granted without the approval of Parliament, andit is satisfactory that the Minister will not be able to make any such arrangement on his own authority.
– The Minister cannot vary the rates of duty imposed.
-But, of course, the Minister can refuse reciprocity without consulting the House. If on looking through the Bill more carefully I find that there arethings which require further consideration, we shall, no doubt, have an opportunity of having them attended to in another place.
.- I was allowing this Bill to pass without debate, becauseI understand that the Minister desires it to be agreed to to-day so that the Tariff might be sent to the Senate. I apprehend that the reference in this Bill to the Tariff Board, although such a body has not yet been created would be rendered nugatory if this House subsequently decided not to pass the Tariff Board Bill. The whole matter is left open for us to discuss when that Bill comes before us.
– Would the refusal of this House to create a Tariff Board annul this Bill entirely?
-It would annul only those provisions referring to the Tariff Board.
-In any case, a decision as to the TariffBoard will be arrived at long before the Senate gets rid of the Tariff. If the Tariff Board is not agreed to, this Bill will be amended in the Senate.
– I accept the Minister’s assurance. We are allowing him to pass the Billto-day in order to get the Tariff to the Senate ; and we have his assurance that if any decision of this House upon another measure conflicts with the provisions of this Bill, no undue advantage will be taken.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 (Definitions).
.- The Tariff Board is defined as meaning “ the Tariff Board appointed in pur suance of the Tariff Board Act 1921.” There is no such Act. Is not this peculiar legislation?
– This Bill will not become law until it is passed by the Senate, and by that time the Tariff Board Bill will have been disposed of by this House.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 4 to 10 agreed to.
Clause 11 (Deferred duties).
-If duties are deferred until next year, has the Minister discretionary power to further defer them if necessary ?
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 12 to 14 agreed to.
Schedule and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Standing Orders suspended and resolution of Committee of Ways and Means adopted.
That Mr.Greene and Sir Joseph Cook do prepareand bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. Greene, and read a first and second time.
Clauses 1 to7 agreed to.
Clause 8 (Acts Repealed).
Amendment (by Mr. Greene) agreed to-
That the following words be added: - “ Excise Tariff Validation Act 1917, No. 7 of 1917; Excise Tariff Validation Act 1919, No. 18 of 1919.”
Clause, as amended, agreed to:
Clause 9 verbally amended, and agreed to.
Schedule and title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report adopted. -
. -I move -
That this Bill be now read a third time.
I wish to thank honorable members for the assistance they have given me in a long and difficult task. I appreciate very highly not only the manner in which
I, personally, have been treated throughout, but also the excellent spirit manifested on all sides in discussing matters on which opinions are necessarily greatly divided.
– Most of the credit for that is due to the Minister himself.
– I shall be able to look back with pleasure to the time when I piloted this Tariff through the House. There has been extended to me the greatest courtesy, for which I am extremely thankful. I should also like to express my gratitude to members of my Staff for their services. They have thrown their whole heart and soul into the work, and responded to every call I have made upon them, and I have made many.
– They have had a very strenuous time.
– They have, indeed; and I desire to express my appreciation of the fact.
– As one with some knowledge of Customs matters, I may, perhaps, be allowed to say a few words. I express not only my feelings, but the feelings of the House generally, when I pay a tribute of regard and respect to the Minister (Mr. Greene) for the skill, patience, unfailing courtesy, and tact he has displayed in the arduous task he has just completed. There is no doubt that the work has been trying to honorable members generally, but to none so much as to the Minister. We are grateful to the honorable gentleman for the information and assistance he was ever ready to afford us in a protracted and complicated task. We also appreciate highly the valuable services rendered by Major Oakley and Mr. Horan.
.- I should be failing in my duty if I did not add a word of congratulation to the Minister (Mr. Greene) on the manner in which he has piloted the Tariff through this House. I quite agree with the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) when he speaks of the close attention given to this business by the Minister, whom I compliment on the grasp he has of his subject. We all appreciate the courtesy which the honorable gentleman has extended to honorable members when dealing with the various items, and I hope that the future stages of the measure may be as successfully accomplished. I also wish to’ say a word of thanks to the officers for the close attention they have paid to the business in hand, and the assistance they have extended to honorable members. I regret that the Minister is suffering from indisposition, which, in all probability, is the result of his application to the Tariff, and from which I hope that he will speedily recover.
.- While I do not share the optimism of the Minister (Mr.- Greene), and can hardly follow him in his belief that the high duties imposed will tend to decrease the cost of commodities, I appreciate more, perhaps, than any other member, the courtesy and other qualities displayed by the honorable gentleman in the conduct ofthe Tariff Schedule. I venture to say that had it not been for his hard and methodical work we should not yet have been half way through the work.- The honorable gentleman always had information at hand ready to oblige a member or crush an argument. The officers of the Department deserve great credit for their contribution to the success with which a hundred and one items have been dealt with.
– A thousand and one !
– The Minister has dealt exhaustively, and usually correctly, with the items under discussion. I hope, however, that it will not be long before the good sense of the people will induce Parliament to again revise the Tariff, so that the cost of living may not become more unduly burdensome.
. -I thank honorable members for the kind things that have been said of myself - which, I feel, are not really deserved - and also for their expressions of appreciation of the work of my Staff, to whom I am confident the greater part of the credit is due.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
The following papers were presented : -
War Service Homes Act - Land acquired under, in New South Wales, at - Auburn, Bathurst, North Bondi, Orange.
Tariff - Order of Business - War Ser vice Homes, Pensions, and Gratuities.
– I move-
That the House do now adjourn.
We may congratulate ourselves on having disposedof the Tariff schedule, at any rate for the time being. I should like to say how much I appreciate all that has been said of the couduct of this business by the Minister in charge (Mr. Greene). Sometimes the honorable gentleman has left me gaping after him in surprise at the course he has taken, but where I have not been able perhaps to altogether agree with him, I have in most cases yielded my judgment to his. That might he supposed to be a sign of weakness, but with some people it is a sign of confidence in others, and it is the latter I mean to indicate. My colleague is a man whose judgment we often follow even where we have not time to scrutinize and analyze all details. I wish to compliment him on the hard andunremitting labour he put into the preparation of the schedule, . with such satisfactory results to the House. I can but hope that the country’s good will be the reward for all Parliament has done. Next week we shall have before us the Bills to complete the Tariff.
– It is well that the honorable memberfor Dampier (Mr. Gregory)did not read some of the honorable gentleman’s old speeches!
– When a man begins to look over his shoulder it is a sign that he is getting old; our motto is “Excelsior!” - eyes front -
– Our motto is “Canberra or the country!”
– I hope honorable members will assist the Government next week to pass the measures to which I have alluded.
– What business is proposed before the contemplated short recess?
– I have nothing in mind except the Bills I have mentioned and a Supply Bill. There are certain notices of motion regarding publicworks and so forth, but these are more or less formal; at any rate, I am sure that any proposal by the Government in regard to
Canberra will go through in the most formal way. There is nothing on the horizon just now of a controversial character. The Tariff Bills next week will be followed immediately by a Supply Bill for two months, and then I hope we may give honorable members a little holiday.
.-I wish to draw attention to rather an extraordinary letter from Western Australia, in reference to the building of soldiers’ homes. The letter states that when a man has his own land, and has had plans drawn up by an architect for a building to cost £800, the Department insists on the. work being carried out according to the plans of the Deputy Commissioner at a cost of£1,020. I mention the matter now in order that it may be brought- under the notice of the Assistant Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Rodgers). If such a policy is contemplated, the sooner some action is taken by Parliament the better.
. -I desire to bring under the notice or the Assistant Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Rodgers) certain facts regarding returned soldiers, particularly those who have to be brought before the various Boards. I was under the impression that these Boards had certain discretionary powers, but I find that the only satisfaction a returned soldier receives in certain special cases is a slab of the Act. No explanation is given as to the reasons why their applications for additional consideration are not entertained. Then, again, because of alleged misdemeanors committed after the war, deductions have been made from the amount of- gratuities due to certain returned men. When the men complain, they are referred to a section of the Act which in no way does justice to their appeal. When the Minister (Mr. Rodgers) is present next week . I shall join with the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) in supplying further information in regard to these and other matters.
Mr.LIVINGSTON (Barker) [3.16].- - This morning I addressed a question without notice to the Acting Prime Minister (Sir Joseph Cook) regarding the delay that had taken place in making payment for a property near Parkes, New South Wales, which had been purchased by the New South Wales Government for repatriation purposes. The property,
Ifind, was sold for cash on 11th April, 1920, at a reduced price. The clearing sale of stock on the property took place on 2nd June, 1920, and the returned soldiers settled upon it took possession of their land on the following day. The Minister’s approval was given on 5th November, 1920. Although the, vendors sold at a reduced price on the understanding that it wasto be a cash transaction, they have had to stand out of their money for over fourteen months. During that time they have been allowed only 4½per cent. on the money owing. That, I think, is very unfair. Two widows are interested in this property, as well as boys who went to the war. I hope that the Acting Prime Minister will take the matter, in hand and Bee that payment is made,without further delay, since; I am sure that it is neither his wish nor that of Parliament that Commonwealth money received by the New. South Wales, Government for soldier settlement purposes should be withheld from those who have sold their land legitimately for repatriation purposes.
Question resolved in the affirmative..
House adjourned at 3.19 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 8 July 1921, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1921/19210708_reps_8_96/>.