8th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir Elliot Johnson) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I have received the following letter:- “ Lachlan,”
Coogee, Sydney, 8th October, 1921.
To Sir Elliot Johnson,
Speaker of House of Representatives.
Dear Sir Elliot,
My children and I desire to thank you most sincerely for sending us the copy of the resolution passed in Parliament, expressing sympathy with us in our greatsorrow.
I am deeply touched by the kind references which were made to my dear husband’s devoted service to his public duties in the Federal Parliament and the Parliament of Queensland.
The record of the expression of sympathy by the members of the House of Representatives with us in our sad loss will always remain a valued possession.
Our heartfelt thanks to you all,
Yours very sincerely,
The following papers were received: -
Nauru and Ocean Island - Their Phosphate
Deposits and Workings - Paper by Harold B. Pope, Commissioner for Australia.
Defence - Department of the Navy - State ment explanatory of Estimates, 1921-22.
Ordered to be printed.
Seat of Government - Ordinance of 1921 - No 2 - Noxious Weeds.
-Will the Assistant Minister for Repatriation see that the fullest inquiry is made before vocational trainees are transferred to Melbourne from Ballarat, Maryborough, and other inland cities of Victoria?
– Yes. As the honorable member knows, I interested myself in a former proposed removal of vocational trainees from Ballarat, with the result that it was avoided. It is my opinion that before such removals take place, it would be wise for the authorities to consult those who are in charge of the training institutions in the country districts.
– I wish to know how the money for War Service Homes for the current financial year will be allotted, and when applicants will know how their applications will be dealt with ?
– The money appropriated for this financial year will, so far as possible, be allotted to the States on an enlistment basis. But as that basis may not have been adopted for prior allocations, inequalities will be made good. It is proposed to divide the building programme into two sections - the country construction and the metropolitan construction, and to determine an order of priority in each, so that the great number of metropolitan applicants shall not absorb the money needed for country expenditure. A Board will be appointed to revise the applications which have been received to date, and these will be classified. Each soldier will be allotted his priority number, and will then have a fair idea of when his home will be built.
– I ask the Minister for the Navy if these linos of Kipling’s express the present position of the Australian Navy, as outlined in to-day’s Argus -
Far-called, our navy melts away;
On dune and headland sinks the fire;
Lo! all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre.
– The honorable member has quoted Kipling. My reply is to remind him of the well-known line of another English poet, Cardinal Newman
Lead, kindly light.
– A statement appears in this morning’s newspapers which indicates that it is intended to appoint a Board of Management to assist in controlling the Commonwealth Line of Steamships. Will the Prime Minister, before authorizing any such change in the management of the line, give the House an opportunity to consider the alteration of what appears to be its present policy in regard to ocean rates of freight, namely, the adoption of rates in accordance with those fixed by the outside shipping ring, the effect of which has been to crush Australia with the burden of charges on her exports, and to keep 10,000,000 tons of shipping idle in the ports of the world?
– The questions cover a wide field. My reply to the first is yes ; and to the second, no.
– Is the Prime Minister aware of the critical position that has arisen in Australia through the promiscuous and non-co-ordinated sales of wheat; and has he any suggestion to make for benefiting the wheat-grower and assisting the community in this matter?
– I understand that the Western Australian Parliament is passing legislation to deal with the matter, that the people of Victoria, having had an opportunity of doing so, have expressed their opinion upon it, and that theGovernment of New South Wales are in favour of exercisingcontrol over the sale of the wheat of the State.
– But they are all selling against one another. There is no coordination.
– In that respect I can merely refer the honorable member to thepowers conferred upon the Commonwealth by the Constitution Act.
– About a fortnight ago I asked whether the Government would consider the matter of making a grant to the fund for relieving distress among the dependants of those who were killed in the Mount Mulligan disaster. Has anything been done in the matter?
– The action of this Government will be guided by what is done by the various States, particularly Queensland.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn toa recent paragraph in the press, that there is a great risk of a Federal crisis ? I would like to know if the right honorable gentlemanhas any information to convey upon the matter, or if he thinks there is any possibility of such an event ?
– Does the honorable member think that that is a fair question to submit?
– The answer is No.
Excess Costof Houses
– Has the Assistant Minister for Repatriation any information to convey to the House in reference to complaints madeby soldiers who have been charged more for their homes than the amounts it was originally stipulated they would cost ?
– I made a statement to the House some time ago in the honorable member’s absence, but, in fairness to the honorable member who waited on me with a deputation some time ago, I can inform him that no excess cost will be charged in the case of individual applications for the building of homes within the limit fixed by the Act, and that a Board is investigating every case where the individual undertook to pay more than that fixed limit. The exact cost of each house will very shortly be ascertained.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether he will afford the House an opportunity of discussing the question of the alteration of our system of representation in England before making any appointment to the vacant office of High Commissioner?
– This question can be discussed when the Estimates are before the House next week.
Taxation Paid to Commonwealth
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Ex-Imperial Service Men
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
What is the difference, if any, made by the Commonwealth Government in settling on the land returned soldiers of the Australian Imperial Force and those who served in the British Forces?
– A few ex-Imperial men have been settled by the States, and have been accepted by the Commonwealth under the agreement- entered into; but as increasing numbers are now coming to Australia, this concession has been temporarily withdrawn so that Australian Imperial Force men can be settled first, and definite proposals discussed with the State for ex-Imperial men as a whole.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Is it a fact that the steam-boats trading from Fremantle to Singapore have been advised that three wireless operators must be provided on each boat in compliance with the Navigation Act?
– The position is that the provisions of the Navigation Act, and of the Regulations relating to wireless telegraphy installations on ships, require that foreign-going ships carrying 200 or more persons, and which take, on board passengers in Australia, shall carry three certificated wireless operators, who are required to maintain continuous watch whilst the vessels are at sea. These provisions were adopted from, and are identical with, the Imperial Merchant Shipping (Wireless Telegraphy) Act and Regulation.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Question - That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair, and that the House resolve itself into Committee of Supply - proposed.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Hughes) adjourned.
In Committee (Consideration of Senate’s requests).
– When the Tariff was under consideration in this Committee previously I moved for increased duties on iron and steel. It was said at the time that the people engaged in the industry had not sought for increases, and it would appear that I had acted upon my own initiative, and that increased duties were not desired by those engaged in the industry. In justice to myself and those who spoke in support of my amendment, I think I should take this opportunity of putting the true position before the Committee.
I desire to make a statement which I trust may furnish exact proof to the contrary of two statements made, probably in good faith, one by the Acting Prime Minister on the 7th June, 1921,and the other by the Minister in charge of the Customs Tariff Bill in the Senate on 16th August, 1921, each statement in turn greatly influencing the attitude of honorable members and senators towards the proposed increase of duty on iron and steel. Apart altogether from the merits of the proposed increase,. I am sure that neither the right honorable the Acting Prime Minister nor the honorable the Minister in charge in another place would desire to have uncorrected a distinctly erroneous statement concerning the attitude of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, which is definitely supported by Mr. Hoskins in its request for increased duties. Owing to the turn which the discussion took in this House and another place, the directors of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited have asked me to place before honorable members the facts in relation to their request for increased duties. In submitting data from time to time to the Minister - and much of it was submitted at his request - in addition to that supplied to his officers in the Customs Department, the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited has sought to assist in the framing of a Tariff suited to the iron and steel requirements of the Commonwealth rather than to appear as advocates for a particular set of duties. It is only right, however, to state that they have submitted the duties which, in their judgment and experience, are necessary if the iron and steel interests of the Commonwealth are to be efficiently protected.
– On a point of order, I wish to know whether we shall be entitled to make what may betermed secondreading speeches on the schedule containing the Senate’s requests, or whether we shall be confined to a discussion of each request as it comes before us?
– The honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) intimated that he desired to make a personal explanation which could be made only in Committee, since it related to a matter that arose in Committee. I am following him closely to see that he does not enter upon a general discussion of the Tariff. Honorable members will not be permitted to discuss the Tariff generally; the discussion will be confined to each particular request as submitted.
– I have no desire to enter upon a general discussion. I am merely making a personal explanation in order that there may be no misapprehension in regard to the action taken by those interested in the iron and steel industry when the Customs Tariff Bill was before us. The first list of the duties to which I was referring when interrupted was furnished on the 4th June, 1919, and handed to the Minister for Trade and Customs, and the last on 25th May, 1921. All of these were submitted before the 7 th June, 1921, when the following debate took place in this House: -
– We desire that a certain measure of Protection shall be given to the iron industry.
– Ithas a certain measure of Protection.
– But it has not a sufficient Protection to enable it to maintain the present standard of wages in competition with the outside world.
– Who says that!
– I do, and so also do the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) and the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton).
– The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited has never said so.
– Has it not?
– No; it has not made any representations to us at. all.
– I think the honorable member is now going beyond a personal explanation. I have looked through the schedule of requests made by the Senate, and find that there is one relating to the iron and steel duties. When that request conies before the Committee the honorable member will be able to deal fully with the matter he now desires to raise.
– Very well.
– I endeavoured to follow the tariff debate in another place, so that I might be fullyconversant with what was done there. May I suggest to the Minister that as each request made by the Senate comes before us he should give the Committee an explanation of what actually happened with regard to it in another place?
– As we come to the items in respect of which requests have been made. we. can deal with the point which the honorable member has raised. Where it is necessary to refer to what happened in another place I shall do so; but otherwise we have to take the requests made by the Senate as we find them., and I presume the Committee will deal with them in its wisdom as it thinks best. I desire first of all to move -
That any amendment made in the schedule by the Committee shall have effect on and after the day following the day the amendment is made, except where the Committee otherwise decides or the contrary intention appears.
– Will the submission of such, a motion prevent a discuss sion as to the right of the Senate to make these requests ? That is a matter I desire to discuss?
– The honorable member may raise that question when the requests are before the Chair. I am not yet in possession of the Minister’s proposal.
– We are now dealing with the clauses of the Customs Tariff Bill itself, and ‘as I cannot move a separate resolution I have to submit this proposal as an amendment of the Bill. The object of it is to avoid having to move in connexion with every amendment made the addition of the words “ And on and after,” &c. In this way we shall save a great deal of trouble. It is a purely formal matter.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 12 (Repeal of Acts).
Senate’s Bequest”. - Leave out the clause and insert the following new clause: - “12. (1) The undermentioned Acts are hereby repealed, as from the time when this Act is deemed to have come into operation, namely: -
Customs Tariff 1908 (No. 7 of 1908).
Customs Tariff Amendment 1908 (No. 13 . of 1908).
Customs Tariff 1010 (No. 39 of 1910).
Customs Tariff 1911 (No. 19 of 1911).
– I move -
That the requested amendment be made.
I am going to ask the Committee to accept this and the following two requests made by the Senate. The reason for them is that owing to an error in drafting it was found that the South African Preference Tariff would cease from the date of the introduction of this Tariff, namely, 25th March, 1920. That was not our intention; our intention was to cancel the South African Preference Tariff as from the date on which. this Bill was assented to. The two following requests were made by the Senate, at the instance of the Government, in order to get over the drafting error. .
– I scarcely know on what I am called upon to vote, and I should like some explanation from the Minister. I have just now received my copy of the requests made by the Senate.
– It is a purely drafting amendment. If the Bill were passed as it now stands, without the Senate’s requests being acceded to, the only effect would be that we would have overcollected in some cases under the South African Tariff, and under-collected in others. The intention was that the South African reciprocal Tariff should come to an end with the . assent to this Bill; and as the Bill is now drawn, that Tariff will come to an end as from the date the Bill was introduced.
– We are not now dealing with the schedule.
– No. We are dealing with the machinery portion of the measure.
– I agree with the explanation made by the Minister, but I suggest that it would expedite business if we dealt with the three amendments at once.
– I scarcely follow the honorable member. We propose to take each request of the -Senate in regard to these clauses of the Bill. If the Senate’s request in regard to clause 12 be agreed to, it will cover the whole of the amendments as set out in clause 12.
– The Minister has given reasons for accepting the first amendment, but what as to the two others?
– They are all the same, all formal, and all made for the same reason.
– I take it that after this Bill went to the Senate the Governr ment desired these amendments, and that they were made at the instigation- of the Government ?
– That is correct.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 13 (Cessation of certain Tariff proposals) .
Senate’s Request. - Leave out’ the clause and insert the following new clause: - “ 13. (1) The undermentioned Tariff proposals shall be deemed to have ceased to have effect as from the time when this Act is deemed to have come into operation, namely: -
The Tariff proposals proposed in the House of Representatives on the following dates, namely: - 3rd December, 1914 - (Relating to the Tariff on goods other than those imported from, and the produce or manufacture of, the Union of South Africa) ; 12th December, 1914; 9th June, 1915; 12th November, 1915; 10th August, 1917; 26th September, 1917; and 25th September, 1918 - (Relating to the Tariff on goods other than those imported from, and the produce or manufacture of, the Union of South Africa). “ (2) The undermentioned Tariff proposals shall cease to have effect as from the date of assent to this Act, namely: -
The Tariff proposals proposed in the House of Representatives on the following dates, namely : - 3rd December, 1914 - (Relating to the Tariff on goods imported from, and the produce or manufacture of, the Union of South Africa) ; and 25th September, 1918 - (Relating to the Tariff on goods imported from, and the produce or manufacture of, the Union of South Africa.)”
Motion (by Mr. Greene) agreed to -
That the requested amendment be made.
Clause 14 -
Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, where the duty which would be payable on any goods under any Act repealed by this Act or under the Tariff proposals to which the Customs Tariff Validation Act 1917 or the Customs Tariff Validation Act 1919 applies is higher than the duty payable on the goods under this Act, such “higher duty, or, if more than one, the highest duty’, shall be charged.
Senate’s Request. - That the words, “ this Act or under the Tariff proposals to which the Customs Tariff Validation Act 1917 or the Customs Tariff Validation Act 1919 applies,” be left out, and the following inserted : - “ subsection (1) of section twelve of this Act or under the Tariff proposals specified in subsection (1) of section thirteen of this Act “.
Motion (by Mr. Greene) agreed to -
That the requested amendment be made.
Item 1. Ale and other beer, porter . . .
Senate’s Request. - General, 4s.
Motion (by Mr. Greene) proposed -
That the requested amendment be made.
– I desire to raise the question of the general right of the Senate to interfere in the wholesale way it has done with a purely financial measure. This question has been debated in this chamber before, but in view of the early meeting of the Convention for the purpose of revising the Constitution, I think it should be raised again. This interference of the Senate with the financial legislation of the House of Representatives cannot be justified if the Senate is to be regarded as a States House guarding the rights of the States, unless behind each of these requested amendments there is some indication that the rights of a, particular State are infringed. To admit that the Senate, based on the most unequal suffrage - a Chamber in which the elector of one State has many times the power- of the elector of another State-
– Is the honorable member raising a question of order?
– No ; I am raising the question of the general right of the Senate to interfere with the financial policy of the Government.
– That is not a matter that is before the Chair, though the honorable member may raise it if he chooses.
– I do not wish to raise it for the purpose of getting a ruling, from the Chair.
– If that is so, I am afraid the honorable member must confine himself to the question before the Chair - to this particular amendment.
– Then I desire to question the right of the Senate, as the custodian of States rights under “the Constitution, to interfere with the rates of duties that shall be placed on ales, beers, and spirits. By no stretch of the imagination can it be held that in requesting this -amendment the Senate is doing any other than interfering with the financial policy of the Government, and with the policy as laid down by this Chamber. There is no shadow of pretence that the duty as set out in the Tariff, as it left this Chamber, in any way interferes with the rights of a
State, or is a matter for the determination of the States as States. That being so, if the Committee admit the right of the Senate to interfere in a financial matter, in which the rights or powers of a State are in no wise involved, we are admitting the right of the Senate to interfere with the financial policy of the Government, and are acceding to any claim that Chamber may ever have made to the supervision of our financial policy.
– What have we done about the entertainments tax?
– We have done nothing. I strongly hold the view that the Government is the custodian of and ought to fight for the privileges which the Constitution intended to confer on this Chamber. If, on any attack, we simply accept what is done in another place, and allow the control of this Chamber over the finances to be frittered away, we give to the Senate, with its unequal constitution, powers which, in the interests of the electors who send us here, we should most jealously conserve.
– This is only a request.
– To which the Government have assented, and I object to the Government assenting to a request by the Senate on a matter that in no way affects the rights of any State, but is a matter of financial policy.
– The honorable member is not raising any question as to the Senate’s right to make these requests ?
– That question was settled in 1902.
– It was settled wrongly in” 1902; but I do not wish at this time, when the Constitution Convention is so near at hand, to take up the time of the Committee by further discussing the point. My only object in drawing attention to it at this time is that the question as to whether the Senate is a States Houseor a branch of the Legislature having equal power with this House may be brought before the minds of those constituting the Convention. If it be accepted that the Senate has the same power as this House has to interfere with financial legislation, we must again question the constitution of that Chamber by equal State representation. If the Senate is not a States House the electors of Tasmania have no right to the same representation as is given to the electors of New South Wales or Victoria, and it should not be possible for eleven senators representing the smaller States to dictate the financial policy affecting four or five times as many people in other States.
– But a proposal might have been passed in this House by an even smaller number of members.
– That could only be because the much larger number of members who were entitled to sit in this House were not in their places. But an amendment made in another place by even the full membership may have been passed by the votes of senators representing a comparatively small proportion of the electors against the votes of senators representing a much greater number of electors. Equal’ State representation in the Senate was conceded on the ground that the Senate was to be practically a States House. There was no such preposterous claim as that the Senate should have the power to tear up a Tariff passed by this Chamber.
– The Tariff has not been torn up half as much as it should have been.
– That is a matter of opinion; but when the privileges of this House are in question, differences of view in regard to the Tariff should be sunk, and the fact of the rights of the electors of this House being overruled by another place in which the people are unequally represented, should become the common cause of all honorable members. Because one amendment pleases me and another amendment pleases some other honorable member, that is no reason why any of us should acquiesce in an invasion of the privileges of this Chamber.
– Where is the invasion?
– Yes, where is the invasion ? So far, the honorable member is only shadow-sparring.
– The State from which the honorable member for Dampier comes is represented even in this House entirely out of proportion to its population, and has privileges that it should not have under any fair division of representation ; therefore, I am not surprised that the honorable member should defend Western Australia having four times the representation it should have in the Senate. But I object to the Government yielding to pressure by that Chamber on a matter of financial policy.
– In 1908 this point was taken in Committee, and was referred by the then Chairman (Mr. McDonald) to Mr. Speaker Holder, who gave a very extensive ruling, the effect of which was that the Senate had no power to amend a money Bill, but had the constitutional right to suggest to this House any amendments, which this House could accept or reject. The Senate is within its rights in suggesting amendments to the Tariff.
Motion agreed to.
Item 1 -
Ale and other beer, porter . . . (b) In bottle . . . per gallon . . . general, 3s. 6d.
Senate’s Request - General, 6s.
Motion (by Mr. Greene) agreed to -
That the requested amendment be made.
Item 8 -
Perfumed spirits . . . per gallon, British, 40s.; intermediate, 45s.; general, 50s.; or ad val., British, 20 per cent.; intermediate, 25 per cent.; general, 30 per cent.; whichever rate returns the higher duty.
Senate’s Request - British, 40s.; intermediate, 45s.; general, 50s.; and ad val., British, 20 per cent.; intermediate, 25 per cent.; general, 30 per cent.
– Honorable members will notice that the Senate is requesting that the rates which this Committee laid down as alternative shall be made cumulative ; that is to say, that they shall be read together, and that both of them shall operate. This is a matter to which the Department has given ‘careful consideration since the original duty was changed. When the itemwas before the Committee on a . previous occasion I moved, and the Committee assented to, a reduction in the rates originally provided in the schedule. Since that time many representations have been made to us by perfumery manufacturers in Australia that the net effect of the alterations which the Committee made has been, to all intents and purposes, to wipe out the protection of their industry. This is a very complex and difficult subject for various reasons, but principally because, unless these duties are read side by side with the Excise duties,’ with a thorough appreciation of the manner in which the duties operate, it is impossible to ascertain accurately the amount of protection given, as between the Excise duty on the spirits which the Australian manufacturer uses and the import duty which is paid ‘bythe importers of perfumery. There has been, side by side with the duty on perfumes and the Excise duty charged to the Australian manufacturer, an attempt by this Parliament to encourage the growth and development of a primary industry that is carried on in several . parts of Australia, namely, the manufacture from various plants and flowers of those essential oils from . which perfumes are made. An attempt has been made by an adjustment in connexion with the ‘Excise duty to encourage the production of essential oils in Australia. When we were discussing the matter before, it was attempted to encourage the use of Australian essential oils by reducing still further the Excise duty to be paid on the spirit used by Australian perfumery manufacturers, if they used a certain proportion of Australian essential oils. As the Tariff was originally framed, encouragement was given in two ways to Australian manufacturers . of perfumery. The Australian manufacturers were allowed to get their spirit at a special rate of duty, and were charged duty at so much per liquid gallon instead of per proof gallon, provided that they used Australian essential oils in their perfumery. It was found in prac- , tice that the quantities of Australian essential oils obtainable were insufficient for the local industry, and that, therefore, this encouragement was of little advantage to it. Therefore, the manufacturers were given the advantage I have mentioned, provided that one- third of the essential oils they used were of Australian origin. As the spirit used is very much overproof, that gives an additional advantage. The Committee altered the proposals of the Government, making a reduction in the Excise duty on the liquid gallon for Australian manufacturers using Australian essential oils. These things have to be considered side by side in determining the amount of protection that is being given to this industry. The industry is a useful one, because the spirit that it uses is distilled from our primary products, and use is found for our essential oils, the production of which is increasing. Prior to the war the perfumery made in this country consisted almost wholly of the cheaper kinds of scents, but during the war our manufacturers com menced to make the more expensive perfumes. At the outset they encountered difficulty, because none of the essential oils required for the. higher grades of perfumery were obtainable in this country.
– Their production is being commenced now.
– Yes, though at the present moment the production is wholly in- ‘ sufficient for the industry. Australian manufacturers of the higher grades of perfumery cannot take advantage of the provision in the Tariff which allows the use of spirit at a lower rate of duty, charged per liquid gallon instead of per proof gallon, because they cannot comply with the requirement that they must use a certain proportion of Australian essential oils. They have, therefore, to pay the full duty of 25s. per proof gallon.
– By adding water a manufacturer could bring down the duty to 12s.
– No, he could not, because unless spirit is used which is very much overproof, the essential oils will not amalgamate with it.
– Is the Minister standing by the provisions adopted by this House?
– Yes, so far as essential oils, about which the honorable member is concerned, are affected. At present the manufacturer of the higher grades of perfumery has to pay 25s. per proof gallon on his spirit, because he cannot obtain the Australian essential oils that he needs. Ignoring the fact that the local manufacturer of high-class perfumery has to pay duty on the fancy bottles and other articles that he is obliged to import - which come in at a lower rate when imported with perfumery manufactured abroad - the protection given ‘ to the local manufacturer by the Tariff as it left this House was almost negligible.
– It was nothing at all.
– In some cases that was so.’ The following memorandum, which has been carefully prepared by my officers, sets out the true position : -
In a letter addressed to the Department, and circulated also among honorable members, the following statement is made : -
The following duties were paid a few days ago on a shipment of. eau-de-cologne from France:– 2¼-oz. bottle, invoice value £21 6s.11d., duty £24 5s. 8d.- 112½ per cent. 4½-oz. bottle, invoice value £31 2s. 7d., duty £43 17s.11d.- 140 per cent. 9-oz. bottle, invoice value £22 4s. 9d., duty £41 14s. 10d.- 187 per cent. 18-oz. bottle, invoice value £14 6s. 3d., duty £39 17s. 2d.- 280 per cent. 36-oz. bottle, invoice value £12 7s. 2d., duty £39 9s. 6d. - 317½ per cent.
This statement implies that Australian manufacturers are protected in regard to the lines quoted to the extent of from112½ per cent, to 317½ per cent. This view ignores the fact that the Australian manufacturer has to pay Excise duty on his spirit and import duties on bottles, corks, containers, ribbons, and labels. The duty is also calculated at the general Tariff rate, whereas it is the position in regard to the British preferential Tariff that must be kept in view.
The following statement shows the percentages represented by the fixed rates of 40s. and 50s. under British preferential Tariff and general Tariff on the one hand and the percentage represented on the other by the Excise duty alone, i.e., without giving any consideration to the duties the local manufacturer has to pay on his bottles, fancy boxes, labels, &c. -
Duty at British preferential Tariff.
Duty at general Tariff.
Duty payable by Australian manufacturer on Excise spirit at 25s. per proof gallon.
Protection as against United Kingdom.
Protection as against other countries.
Protection against France if intermediate Tariff extended to French products.
In every case worked out in this statement the local manufacturer of perfumery is without protection under the present operation of the Excise duty. The matter was given careful consideration by the Department, and the alteration requested by the Senate, and, as a matter of fact, made at my instance, is in all the circumstances fair. It is not all that the manufacturers have asked for, but at the same time it will give them that encouragement the industry needs. I move -
That the requested amendment be made.
– The United States of America have done exactly what the Senate has requested us to do.
– Except that their duties are very much higher.
– That is so. The American duty on perfumery is 40 cents per lb., and 60 per cent, ad valorem.
– And their spirit is free of duty.
– Yes, their raw material is absolutely free of duty. I have been informed that 72 per cent, of the material used in the manufacture of Australian perfume is of Australian origin.
– I do not think that statement is quite correct.
– Of course, the essential oils are imported, because the flowers from which they are extracted are grown in France and Italy. We have not yet developed thatbranch of the industry.
– We can grow most of them in Australia just as well as they can be grown elsewhere.
– It takes years to propagate plants to the degree of excelence such as has been attained by those engaged in cultivating these flowers in Italy and France; but Australia can produce practically everything it needs.
– At a cost.
– It is worth while paying a little more in order that we may establish industries.
– It is already proved that we can produce these oils, although the fact is not generally known to the public.
– Australian perfumery manufacturers have been very modest in their request. They might reasonably have asked for greater protection against the wholesale competition to which they are now subjected. As the article they produce is regarded as a luxury, they were protected during the war by the embargo upon the importation of luxuries but now that all barriers against such importations have been removed, the Australian market is being flooded with foreign perfumes, to the detriment of an industry which gives employment to a large number of people.
– How many?
– I will not say how many, but there is no industry in Australia in which the employment given is confined merely to itself. It is true that the bottles in which the Australian perfume is sold and the stoppers are imported from Belgium and other countries, where the manufacture of dainty glassware has reached a stage of high perfection. The Australian buyer of perfumes would be prejudiced against an Australian perfume put up in the ordinary medicine bottle produced by Australian bottle-makers; but all the lithographic work in the labels on the bottles themselves, and on the boxes in which they are packed, is the work of Australian artists. A few years ago this class of work was all imported, but our own artists can now produce artistic’ work of this description superior to that which is turned out by firms in other parts of the world who have been established for centuries. However, I believe that the Committee will agree to the request made by the Senate.
– After the explanation given by the Minister (Mr. Greene), it is not necessary to enlarge very much on the claim for the protection of the perfumery industry. It has been clearly demonstrated that under the Tariff as it left this Committee practically little or no protection was afforded to the Australian manufacturer. I believe it represented about1s.8d. per dozen bottles, a mere trifle in some cases, and that the importer in other cases had a distinct advantage over the local manufacturer. The honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Fleming) has emphasized the necessity for encouraging the growth of the flowers that produce the essential oils used in the manufacture of perfumes. That has been recognised in the Tariff, but it is necessary that the perfumery manufacturers here shall be given such a measure of protection as will enable them to use those essential oils. The one industry co-operates with the other. Parliament in its wisdom has seen fit to give effect to the desire of the people that every encouragement shall be given to the production of essential oils. The local perfumery manufacturers, if they use the local essential oils, have to pay an Excise duty of only 23s. per gallon, but if they do not they have to pay 42s. per gallon.
– That is, 42s. per liquid gallon.
– That is so. Thus every encouragement is given to the production of essential oils here, and, naturally, the local manufacturer of perfumery desires as far as possible to use local material. It is useless for any one to attempt to slander the perfumery that is made here.
– No one is slandering the local manufactures.
– But circulars reflecting very seriously upon the local product have been distributed. Prior to the war, it is true,. we produced only the lower class of perfumery, but since then there has been a remarkable* development in the local production of high-class perfumery. Various factories ‘which produce a high.class article have been thoroughly established in Melbourne, Sydney, and other cities. I have had the pleasure of seeing some of these perfumes. They are used by my own family, and no better class of perfumery could be imported. I submit, therefore, that we shall be justified in agreeing to the request made by another place, and which I remind honorable members was made at the instance of the Government. The Government saw that they were doing the industry a gross injustice. When they found that a mistake had been made, and that we could no longer continue to manufacture high-class perfumery unless additional protection were given, the Government suggested the request made by another place. That request provides for only a fair and reasonable protection.
– Is it not strange that the Minister did not discover this mistake until the Tariff had been in operation for more than twelve months?
– I can only say that as soon as the Minister did discover it he took the right course. He has told us frankly that the Government prompted the making of this request in another place. I am sure honorable members have nodesire to destroy this industry, in which something like £100,000 has been invested.
– What has the honorable member to say as to a duty under which over £1,100 was collected on a shipment of Eau de Cologne, valued at £860.
-I know nothing of the case. The whole matter has been investigated by the officers of the Department, who have shown that under the item as it left this House the importers could still bring in perfumes with advantage to themselves. There is no protection to the local manufacturer under the item as it’ stands, and unless we agree to this request the importers will ‘be able to wipe out the industry. The request is a result of the investigation of invoices actually produced to the Department.
– We cannot get away from invoices, in which the effect of the duty is given in pounds, shillings, and pence.
– I agree with the honorable member, and the Minister has seen the invoices relating to importations actually made and showing the duty paid. The departmental investigation shows that there is no protection as against the British manufacturer, and only a small measure of protection under the intermediate and general Tariffs. The Minister has done the right thing. He says that we have a valuable industry producing high-class perfumery, and that it ought to be encouraged by means of a fair and reasonable measure of protection. I regret that, as the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) has said, it would be impossible to sell the beautiful perfumes made here, or for that matter any other high-class perfumes, if they were put in the class of bottles that aire manufactured in Australia. High-class perfumes have to be put into high-class fancy bottles, and, unfortunately, at the present time such bottles are not being made here. As soon as they are I am sure the local manufacturers of perfumery will be glad to use them. I submit that the Committee, has always been anxious to give reasonable protection to local manufacturers, and since it has been demonstrated conclusively that the Tariff as it left this Chamber gave practically no protection to the manufacturers of high-class perfumes in Australia, th’e Minister invites us to agree to this request. I think the Committee will readily accept it.
.- Again we have the cry that in order to encourage new industries in Australia we must have high duties. The Minister (Mr. Greene) told us when the Tariff was before us on a previous occasion that, as the result of the heavy duties for’ which it provided, we should have cheaper goods. Th’e fact is that these high duties have so increased prices that one wonders how the man in the back country will be able to carry on. Honorable members have been speaking of the great perfumerymaking industry of Australia, but we find that practically everything used in the manufacture of perfumes, with the exception of water, is imported. We are told that one reason why this request should be agreed to is that perfumery bottles have to be imported, and are dutiable at a high rate. The corks and practically everything else used in the putting up of perfumery have also to be imported. When we discussed this duty some four months ago, the Tariff had been in operation for more than twelve months, and the Minister then told us, in moving an amendment of the item, that his experience of its operation was that the ad valorem duty pressed heavily on the high grades of perfumed spirits, which were not manufactured in Australia. He therefore asked for a re-arrangement of the item, which he said was necessary to protect the lower classes of manufacture in this country, would lead to a greater consumption, and would consequently produce more revenue. That was his opinion of the effect of the item ‘after it had been in operation for about fourteen months ; but as soon as the honorable gentleman showed his hand in this House by agreeing to an enormously increased duty on bananas, we had representatives of the Chamber of Manufactures - which has been silent up to that point - as well as individual manufacturers, who up to that time had been quite satisfied with the duties imposed in the Tariff as introduced, besieging the House and making demand after demand for increased duties. The Minister gave way to this clamour, with the result that we have the present monstrous duties. The statements I have before me in regard to the effect of the duty on perfumed spirits came only from the importers of perfumery, and I cannot vouch for their accuracy; but I should like to know what will be the average duty paid when the ad valorem rates are added as proposed to the fixed duty. The Minister has not given us that information.
– On all the higher grades of perfume it will not exceed 25 per cent.
– If the Minister wants an increased duty, why does he not provide for an increase of so much per gallon, so that -we may know exactly what is contemplated ?
– That would defeat the objects of the Tariff.
– What is the reason for this proposal ? Why are we to be kept in the dark ? I have a memorandum here from -the French Chamber of Commerce, in which it is stated that -
The duty on perfumed spirits, which, up to March, 1920, was 25s. per gallon, was altered to 35s., 37s., and 40s. per gallon, or 35 per cent., 40 per cent., and 45 per cent, ad val. (whichever rate returned the higher duty). This meant an increase of duty of from 200 to 500 per cent.
– Of course, that is all rubbish. These duties must be considered in conjunction with the Excise duties if honorable members are to grasp the position at all.
– I have a lively recollection of the cablegram which the Minister received from Canada in regard to reapers and binders, in which the ex- change between the two countries was added to show the cost of the implements in Canada. That was published in the newspapers. That was so preposterous that I could not understand the press being misled in that way. What had the exchange to do with the price paid by the Canadian farmer for his reaper and binder? I say that in that matter the Minister misrepresented the position.
– The honorable member may think so, but I am equally entitled to maintain that I did not misrepresent the position.
– As I have explained, I am informed that, if the Senate’s request in this matter be. agreed to, it will involve an increase in the duty of from 200 to 500 per cent. In a letter which I have here from a Melbourne firm, the statement is made that this proposal represents, in the case of a 2¼-oz. bottle, a duty of 112½ per cent., and to indicate the accuracy of these figures I may say that the Minister has admitted that it represents a duty of 112¼ per- cent. On the 4½-oz. bottle, the duty will be 140 per cent. ; on a 9-oz. bottle, 187 per cent.; on an 18-oz. bottle, 280 per cent.; and on a 36-oz. bottle, 317½ per cent. The Minister has himself pointed out that the imposition of such extreme duties must involve a loss of revenue which he does not desire to see brought about.
– Will the honorable member say what is the ad valorem duty on brandy? I may inform him at once that it is about 600 per cent. In dealing with the articles now under consideration, the honorable member is really objecting to the spirit duty. He is not making a fair comparison, and so is guilty of misrepresentation.
– That is not so. I am not putting figures on paper with a view to misrepresent the position. I am quoting figures which 1 believe to be correct, and I give my authority-, for them. The firm supplying me with those figures must accept responsibility for them.
– Is the honorable member arguing against the amount of protection involved in the Senate’s request or against the principle of Protection?
– I am objecting to the increase of these duties in the way proposed, merely for the purpose, and I shall speak plainly, of helping certain people starting an industry in a small way. The duty at first proposed by the Minister was in operation for twelve months. Because of certain representations made to him, the Minister changes his mind, and now proposes that on these articles there should be an ad valorem duty as well as the fixed duty previously imposed. The same thing is proposed in connexion with cigars ; but we shall come to them later. The Minister did not quote the report of the Inter-State Commission in regard to this matter. I specially direct the attention of the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) to it.
– The honorable gentleman knows my opinion of the Tariff recommendations of the Inter-State Commission.
– The Commission reported, in 1914, on this subject, as follows : -
No particulars were afforded by manufacturers as to the local costs of production. It was said they were mixed up with other costs. The difficulty in connexion with this industry is that, whilst it is probable in certain cases there may be some care necessary in the process of the manufacture, in many instances by the use of imported concentrated and synthetic perfumes, the process is that of simple admixture, and is quite useless from an industrial point of view, except the labour indirectly employed in connexion with bottles, labels, and outside packages.
In spite of that report, we now have the Minister proposing an increase in the duty on these goods when only a little while ago he told us that he could not accept an increase because it would lead to a reduction of revenue.
.- I shall not waste time in submitting arguments in support of the Senate’s request in this case. It is so reasonable that: I am satisfied the Committee will agree to it. There is, however, a matter connected with this item to which I should like to refer. When we give adequate protection to an Australian industry, and it is fostered by that protection, those carrying it on should, in Common decency, distribute their products to the public as Australian-made articles. That is not done by those engaged in manufacturing perfumery in Australia. I have been engaged in the retail trade for many years, and prior to the war there was a German Eau de Cologne for sale which had practical control of the Australian market. As a result of the war, that article disappeared from the market, and we had patriotic Australian manufacturers making substitutes for it. They sent their commercial travellers around to the storekeepers of Australia and sold their perfume to them as an old French Eau de Cologne dating back to 1648. It was put up in bottles and packages with lettering upon them in the French language, although the article was manufactured in Sydney. There should be a condition attaching to the imposition of these duties that the Australian-made article protected ‘by them should be sold as an Australian manufacture. If that practice were adopted, the result would be to foster trade in Australian goods. When perfumes made in Australia are sold in the names of the German and French importations, which had the run of our market for so long, the effect of the Tariff is merely to enable the local manufacturers to make money, whilst it does nothing to create amongst Austra lians a desire to use Australian-made goods. The man who will prostitute business principles merely in order to make money should be dealt with, and the protection afforded by the Tariff should be withdrawn from him. A man engaged in business has not the time to make these minute inquiries to discover where the goods offered to him are made. In the case of perfumery, storekeepers were invited to give their orders months ahead for the Christmas trade. They were told that because the goods had to be imported from France their orders must be’ sent in early. The goods were being made in Sydney and Melbourne all the time, and that is the sort of thing of which I complain, and which should be put an end to.
– Queensland bananas are sold here as Fiji bananas.
– I have no doubt that there are some people who would try to sell apples as Fiji bananas if it suited them, and they thought they could mislead the public. Manufacturers who’ engage in these practices should, in my opinion, not only be refused the protection of the Tariff, but should not be allowed to trade in Australia at all. They should be given only the King’s protection in the gaols of Australia. Goods made in Australia need not fear competition with similar goods made elsewhere, and if the local manufacturers labelled their goods “Made in Australia,” one result would be to create a general desire for Australian-made goods. We should in this way be doing much to protect Australian industries from foreign competition. I believe that the people of Australia are sufficiently patriotic to prefer to purchase goods made in Australia if they are at all equal to similar goods manufactured elsewhere.
.- This is a difficult and complicated matter, and without attempting to elucidate a question upon which I am not myself too clear, I wish to impress upon the Minister that we should be careful to do nothing that might interfere with our friendly relations and trade with France. I agree that what we can do to encourage Australian industries should be done. If we establish perfumery and essential oil factories in Australia on a sound basis, they, will provide helpful and useful occupation for numbers of people unfitted for heavy toil. In the citrus orchard districts of Australia there is ample scope for the establishment of the essential oil industry. At present we are losing thousands of tons of fruit every year which might be profitably used if that industry were established. It could be worked in conjunction with the perfume industry. At present we are making a well-known perfume in Australia from the eucalyptus. I am not referring to eucalyptus oil, but to a recognised perfume that is made from the eucalyptus. There are many plants in Australia which might be turned to good account in this way. I have seen in Australia a number of imported plants, which it is not generally known are to be found here. The export of some of them from the countries in which they are indigenous is prohibited, yet I have seen them growing in Australia. This industry is in its infancy, but will doubtless become a very valuable, one, and, as I say, find ample employment for those who are unable to do hard work.
– It ought to find employment for ‘ thousands, once it is properly understood.
– More particularly amongst the gentler sex. “When the men are doing the hard work of the orchard, the girls can do the lighter work of growing plants for perfume. Instead of the present waste, thousands of citrus trees will be turned to account. Only last month I was in one of the great citrus districts of Australia, and I visited one orchard, the proprietor of which had been injured in the back country and rendered unfit for further station work. He pointed to some 6 acres of eight-year-old lemon trees, which were carrying a magnificent crop. When I asked him as to his returns from the land in this particular connexion, he told me that he could make a very comfortable living, but that that was about all he could say. He added that there was not much real hard work, and what had to be done could be spread over his own time. As to the lemons on the trees, he told me that he was going to plough them all in, because the price’ of lemons at present did not pay for the picking and sending, to market. If the particular industry under discussion can be established in Australia, every lemon will be picked and sent to the factory, and will, at least, realize enough to make their cultivation a paying proposition. Of course, when the price of lemons is good for their usual purposes, still better returns will be obtained.
– Then those in the industry should not require protection.
– But, as I have been showing, they do require some protection. The lemon peel is well worth handling, and ‘then there is acid production, and quite a number of incidental developments. All that can be done with safety for this industry should be done, and in such a way as not to lessen the trade between here and France. In my opinion we can. continue our trade with that country without a prohibitive Tariff ; we can allow high-class perfumes to come in on a reasonable basis, and at the same time, under the Excise law, encourage local production in such a way as to establish the industry on a firm basis.
– It isremarkable in an Australian House of Parliament to hear a mem ber so careful of the interests of the French people.
– You have not been in France, have you?
– Had I been in France fifty times, I am the representative of the people of Australia, and it is their interests to which I have to pay regard. If it is a matter of sentiment, I have as much sentiment, I think, as has the honorable member; but I can hardly imagine a French deputy speaking in support of the commercial interests of Australia, at any rate, without his tongue in his cheek. Whether it be the perfume industry or any other, we have to consider Australians, and not the people of France. I may be told that the industry here is hardly worth considering, as we have been told in regard to every industry whose development has been attempted. There was a time when arguments were raised against duties on any form of machinery, on the ground that the Australian people could not manufacture machinery, but could only assemble parts; but now we are manufacturing in Australia all kinds of machinery. In the present case we are told that the industry is a mere mixing business, but we have to consider the many and varied interests connected with it, and’ I may say that in France and Germany whole towns and districts are devoted to the manufacture of perfumes. We hear a great deal of talk from honorable members opposite about the “poor farmer “ and the “ poor little children “ of Australia, and it is a wonder we have not had the “poor old widow’’ dragged in. Personally, I have never bought any scent in my life, even for my “best girl”; the proper thing “to do is to wash oneself and leave perfumes alone; at any rate, those who demand perfumes ought to be made to pay for them. I am sorry that the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) is not present, for I am sure he would, as usual, be very pathetic and sentimental about the “ poor farmer”; but I should say that . this is an industry in which the farmer is as much interested as anybody else. I do not suggest that’ the farmer uses perfumes, or has any need to do so, but the fact that all the ingredients are” produced from the land gives him an interest. I hope the Minister (Mr. Greene) will be quite as explanatory on every item as he has been in regard to this. The honorable gentleman’s explanation ought to be sufficient to settle the question at once.
– Not for me.
– Of course not. The honorable member is a Free Trader, who . does not believe in encouraging manufacturing in Australia, but would rather import cheap and nasty commodities.
– That is not so.
– I hope that the Minister in succeeding items will have more satisfactory results from his explanations; at any rate, the explanation in regard to this item -was so clear and concise that it has raised the ire of those opposed to Australian manufactures. The farmer of Australia ought to be ashamed of the men who represent him, for they simply make him ridiculous. I hope that the Minister’s proposal will be agreedto. The industry is in its initial stage, and requires time for development. Before the war the perfumes produced here were not all that might be desired, but the opportunities given by the war enabled those in the industry to make enormous progress in the quality and value of their product.
Motion agreed to.
Spirituous preparations, viz. : - . . .
Essences, fruit ethers . . . medicines . . toilet preparations, . . . per gallon, British, 7s. 6d. ; intermediate and general, 7s. 9d.
Senate’s Request. - Leave out “medicines” and “ toilet preparations.”
– I move -
That the requested amendment be made.
This is a somewhat similar amendment to the last, and arises out of a similar reason, namely, the difference between the amount of Excise duty which the Australian manufacturer has to pay and the amount of import duty. What is requested by the Senate is to strike out of the item medicines and toilet preparations, with a view to inserting them in items 285 and 290. If honorable members turn to requests number 60 and 62 they will see exactly what the effect of the requested amendment is. They will see that medicines and toilet preparations are brought under an ad, valorem rate instead of a fixed rate. I do not know that I need go into the matter fully at this moment. It was found on a comparison of the rate which the importer was paying under this item with the rate of spirit Excise which the Australian manufacturer had to pay on the spirit he used, the Customs were charging the Australian manufacturer more Excise than the amount of protection given him. The requested amendment makes no difference in the rate of duty, but merely has the effect I have indicated.
Motion agreed to.
Limejuice and other fruit juices, n.e.i., and fruit syrups and liquid substitutes therefor, non-spirituous -
In bulk, per gallon, British,1s. 3d. ; intermediate,1s. 6d. ; general,1s. 6d.
In bottle, per gallon, British, 2s.; intermediate, 2s. 3d.; general, 2s. 3d.
Senate’s Request -
In bulk, per gallon, British,1s: 6d. ; intermediate,1s. 9d. ; general,1s. 9d.
.- I move -
That the requested amendment be made.
The Senate, after careful consideration of the item, came to the conclusion that the duty agreed to by the House of Representatives was insufficient to adequately protect the local industry. The Government have no objection to the request, which might prove of additional assistance to the orchardists, who have been having a particularly rough time lately.
Motion agreed to.
Cigars, . . per lb., British,11s.; intermediate, 12s.; general, 12s.
Senate’s Request - Per lb., general, 13s.
Mr. GREENE (Richmond- Minister for Trade and Customs [4.39]. - I move -
That the requested amendment be made.
The Excise duty on cigars is pretty high, therefore the local manufacturer finds himself in a difficult position. The imported cigar, generally speaking, may be regarded as a luxury, and at a time like this we can afford to make the duty a little higher.
Motion agreed to.
Animals living (except for stud purposes), viz. : -
Senate’s Request - Free.
Mr. GREENE (Richmond- Minister for Trade and Customs [4.40]. - I move -
That the requested amendment be made.
When this item was under consideration I said that I thought the duty was of no value from a revenue-producing point of view.
– Are we getting any revenue from it?
– We get, perhaps, a couple of hundred pounds a year.
-Is it not a fact that all imported animals have to be quarantined for a certain period at the expense of the Government?
– In some circumstances cattle may be imported and taken straight to the slaughtering yard to be slaughtered without undergoing the quarantine restrictions.
– Will it not be necessary now to strike out “ except for stud purposes.” The request is for the removal of the duty on all -living animals. Therefore, if the words to which I direct attention stand, they might be interpreted as implying that such stock is not free.
– In order to meet the point raised by the honorable member for Swan, who fears there might be some confusion in the minds of importers of stud stock, and with the permission of the Committee, I should like to amend my motion by adding the following words : - “with the modification that the words ‘except for stud purposes ‘ be left out.”
Motion, as amended, agreed to.
Fruits fresh, viz. -
Senate’s Request - Per lb.,½d.
– I move-
That the requested amendment be not made.
I do not know of any industry more entitled to a full measure of protection.
– How about the poor Fijian trader ? Will you not consider him at all ?
– Just at the moment I am thinking about a great number of Australians who, I believe, are entitled to the fullest consideration.
– Are they not troubled with the bunchy top ?
– There is a certain amount of bunchy top which might become a serious matter; but I am hopeful that before long a remedy will “be found. Banana-growing is one of the industries that offer to comparatively poor men a good opportunity of making a living upon a very small area of land. If the growers get anything like a reasonable price for their fruit, and are not robbed by the distributors, a man can make ‘a good living off 5 acres of land. This is essentially a primary industry, and utilizes land which otherwise would be practically useless. The majority of bananas are produced on land upon which one would not ask a self-respecting cow to walk. It is high, cliffy land, for the most part, covered with rocks, but on it the banana flourishes in a way that it could not possibly do on the rich river flats. One can see ‘in various areas of Queensland and New South Wales little settlements clinging to the mountain sides, and hundreds of men earning a living where a few years ago there was nobody at all.
– And thousands of children.
– That is so. I do not know of any industry connected with the soil which, proportionately, has put so many men upon the soil in a reasonable time as has the banana industry.
– Anil those settlers include a number of soldiers.
– A very large proportion of the banana-growers are returned soldiers. The industry is nourishing, but, at the same time, it is open to competition from the adjacent islands, where the banana is grown by black labour. In regard to the question asked a few moments ago by the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Richard Foster) as to whether the higher duty had increased the price to the consumer, I have not the slightest doubt that, before this debate closes, particulars will be furnished the Committee to . prove that since the increased duty was imposed the price of bananas in the markets has been less than for many years previously.
– Because nobody will buy them.
– The reason is that there has been an enormous increase in the number of bananas produced.
– I cannot imagine any substantial increase of production having occurred since this House imposed the duty of 8fe. 4d. per cental.
– The honorable member may not be aware that a large number of the banana plantations have come into bearing for the first time during the last nine months.
– Would they not have come into bearing if the duty had not been increased?
– I did not say that the increase in the duty was responsible for the lower price at which the bananas were sold.
– But the Minister said that since the duty was increased the production had increased considerably.
– That is true, because during the last few months a number of plantations have come into bearing for the first time. For instance, from Coolangatta Station, in Queensland, in the third week in August, six times as many bananas were sent away as were despatched during the corresponding week of the previous year, and that increase was entirely due to the fact that a large area that had been planted “ with bananas last year had come into bearing.
– Then the industry did not require encouragement through the Tariff?
– The increased duties were not required to bring those plantations into bearing; but the fact that we have a flourishing and extending industry shows the necessity for preventing its extinction by the importation of blackgrown bananas.
– Did not the people who laid out those plantations know that their product would be competing against black-grown bananas?
– Possibly they did. But during the war, when ‘the importation of bananas from Fiji was practically discontinued, prices rose higher than ever before, and banana cultivation in Australia received a tremendous impetus.
– Fruiterers in Adelaide state that everybody wants bananas, but nobody will pay the price for them.
– Growers sold at remunerative prices every banana they produced, and I cannot imagine fruiterers buying those bananas unless they were able to sell the fruit at a profit. Owing to the encouragement which the bananagrowing industry received during the war, a very large number of primary producers are growing bananas, and the market is fully supplied. The obstacle with, which they have- to contend is not the number of bananas imported in the course of a year, but the fact that large shipments come to Australia at a given time, temporarily destroying entirely the market for the local article. Australian growers who send their bananas to the market at such a period - and bananas must be marketed when they are ready - strike an overloaded market, and get practically nothing for their fruit. If that were allowed to continue, it would not be long before the number of banana plantations would’be reduced, and many men would- be driven off the soil. We think the industry is so important to the country, employing in the best possible way a large number of people, and bringing about that intense closer settlement which is the most valuable form of settlement that Australia can have, that the Senate’s request should not be acceded to.
– Why is that form of settlement most valuable? We do not sell the bananas outside of Australia.
– We do; bananas are being sent to New Zealand now.
– Do I understand that the honorable member does not consider an industry of value to the Commonwealth unless its produce is sold outside Australia?
Mr.Prowse. - The value of the product is increased when we are able to sell it in competition with others outside Australia.
– That is one of the most extraordinary economic doctrines I have ever heard enunciated. Primary produce is equally valuable, whether we send it abroad or sell it locally. If we have a particular obligation to soldier settlers it is in regard to those who have embarked on banana cultivation.
– Will the Minister say whether he has had a report upon the injury done to Australian trade with the Islands owing to what is practically a prohibition of the importation of bananas?
– I have seen a report, but I da not attach much value to it, because, when all is said and done, bananas formed but a very small proportion, of the trade between the Commonwealth and the Islands.
– Will a duty of1d. per lb. keep Fiji bananas out of Australia if a. duty of½d. per lb. will not?
– I believe so.
– I am hopefulthat the Committee will not agree to the request of the Senate to reduce the duty on bananas from1d. per lb.’ to½d. perl lb. When the item was previously before the Committee I went to considerable trouble to point out that Australian growers could fully supply the local requirements. The last shipment of bananas from Fiji arrived in Melbourne in May last, and since that time the market has been over supplied. Some of the objections which have been raised this afternoon to the duty of1d. per lb., are effectively answered by the following letter, which was sent to the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) by Mr. Ellison, Secretary of the Southern Queensland Fruitgrowers Association -
I am in receipt of the following wire to-day from our Melbourne representative: - “Oversupply of bananas; choice to 17s., inferior lines practically unsaleable.” The prices ruling on the Sydney market, I understand, are from 9s. to 16s. per case of bananas. The above prices and over-supply are on markets that have no Fiji banana supplies, and fully prove our statements that we could supply the Australian markets. I am advised from Perth this week that two shipments of bananas are due from Java, and advised growers not to send there for the next three weeks, although latterly we have been sending their full requirements. We are now compelled to send bananas to New Zealand, or otherwise allow the fruit to rot here, as Australia cannot consume what we now grow, and yet, in face of these facts, the Senate considered that we should have further competition from Fiji.
That letter brings out three interesting facts, (1) that the Melbourne and Sydney markets were over-supplied, (2) that bananas are being introduced into Western Australia at the present time from Java in spite of the duty of1d. per lb., and (3) that on account of overproduction of bananas in Queensland and New South Wales an outlet is being sought in New Zealand, to which shipments have been sent weekly for some time past. I have also a copy of a letter forwarded to the Minister for Trade and Customs by the secretary of the Tweed Co-operative Fruit-growers’ Association. It is dated 29th August, and reads -
In view of the . resolution in the Senate to recommend a reduction in the Tariff on imported bananas from 8s. 4d. to 4s. 2d. per cental, my board desiresme to submit for your consideration figures taken from the records of this company relative to the increase in production of bananas within the Commonwealth, and market values immediately prior and subsequent to the passing of the Tariff measuresin the House of Representatives. This company supervises the marketing of the greater portion of the bananas grown on the Lower Tweed and in the vicinity, and the figures submitted are authentic records, and open to verification. The figures regarding production apply, of course, only to that part of the district whose outlet is Tweed Heads, but may be taken as fairly representative of the general increase in production in New South Wales and Queensland. The market values given are those actually realized by growers in the Sydney markets, and are an emphatic denial to the statements made in both Houses that the imposition of the increased Tariff had caused an increase in the price of the fruit.
The total quantities of bananas marketed by the company during the months May to August inclusive, 1920, and during . the corresponding period in the current year are as follow: -
These figures represent an increase in production in one year of 234 per cent.
The relative market values of the entire quantity of fruit sold through the company for the period of six weeks both prior and subsequent to the imposition of the increased Tariff are as follow: - Six weeks prior to increase, 10,342 cases realized £11,829 10s. - 22s. l0d. per case average; six weeks subsequent to increase, 11,190 cases realized £11,903 4s. 6d. - 21s. 3d . per case average. The difference in values for fruit sold during the calendar months prior and subsequentto that in which the Tariff was imposed is still more marked, being 22s.6d. per case for the month of April, and 19s. 4d. per case for the month of June. Since the Tariff was increased values have consistently declined, and the average value at time of writing is about 13s. per case. Had the Fiji fruit been arriving on the markets in the customary way, it would probably have been found impossible to dispose of large quantities of both the Australian and Fiji products at any price.
With reference to the opinion expressed in quarters hostile to the Tariff that the Commonwealth is unable to produce sufficient bananas for her requirements, I may say that my directors, who can claim to have a sound practical knowledge of the various phases of the industry, consider that the question of over-production has to be faced in the very near future. This matterhas been engaging their serious attention for some months’ past, and practical steps, have already. been taken towards an endeavour to cope with the situation when it arises, if we are not entirely faced with it. (Sgd.) E. M. Smith, Manager.
Honorable members will notice that for the four months mentioned there was an increase of 21,432 cases, and the writer of the communication points out that this may be taken as fairly representative of the general average increase in production in the two States during that period. I desire now to refer to the quantity of bananas at present arriving in Melbourne. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Richard Foster) has said, by interjection, that there has been a shortage of this fruit in South Australia; but the figures I have before me showing the weekly consignments reaching the Melbourne market disclose that for the first week of the present year 2,421 cases arrived in Melbourne, and that the total number of cases which arrived only yesterday was 12,198. The honorable member will therefore see that there has been a considerable increase during recent months. Every fourth week, when a Fiji boat arrived here, it was necessary for the Queensland growers to reduce their shipments, because they had to compete with the Fiji consignments, and, consequently, suffered considerable loss. Now that the growers have the market to themselves they are despatching supplies with the greatest confidence, and any one who has been around Melbourne or Sydney streets must admit that the price of the fruit is extremely moderate.
– Then the honorable member admits that they have now the market to themselves, and that . there is an embargo on importations?
– That is disproved by the fact that bananas from Java are coming into Western Australia. The Queensland growers have been sending as much as 700 cases a week to Western Australia; but consignments have been arriving from Java.
– We cannot obtain bananas in Western Australia.
– They are being shipped there in large quantities. Many misleading statements have been made, particularly in another place, concerning the price at which the fruit is being sold. The growers have no control over the price at which it is disposed of, because it is consigned to their representative in Melbourne, who distributes it to the various agents. The growers are in the hands of the distributer. I produce for the information of the Committee two photographs taken in Sydney, showing fruit carts on which appear the words “ Bananas, extra choice, 18 for 6d.”
– I would like to see that in Adelaide.
– These are actual photographs taken in Sydney streets, and I think any reasonable man will accept them as authentic. It will be admitted that bananas are cheaper than they have been for some time.
– The photograph does not give any indication of the quality.
– They are marked as “ extra choice,” and if the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Fleming) ticketed his wool in such a way he would expect his classification to be accepted.
– How many bananas are packed in a case?
– I shall deal with that when I have dealt with prices. The selling agents have given the highest and lowest price at which fruit arriving in Melbourne has been sold, from the 7th June to the 22nd September. During this period bananas have been sold at as high as 23s., and as low as 6s. per case.
– Is that since the duty was imposed ?
– Are there not twentyfive dozen bananas to a case?
– There are from twenty-four to thirty dozen of choice fruit; but with smaller fruit the number would be larger.
– If there were thirty dozen, the fruit would be very small.
– Perhaps the honorable member may know something of this particular business. I have made :it my duty to investigate the position very closely, and in doing so have visited banana-growing districts.
– Has the honorable member any figures showing the quantity despatched to Adelaide? .
– In my letter-box I have a telegram sent to the organization in Queensland from the agent in Adelaide to the effect that 2,000 cases had arrived, and that they did not know what they were going to do with them.
– When was that?
– About one month ago. Considering the quantity arriving in Melbourne. I cannot see that there is any possibility of the. Adelaide market being in any way neglected.
– In Adelaide they arc being sold at ten for ls.
– What quantity was sold at as low as 6s. per case? Was it one case?
– The honorable member knows perfectly well that a retailer would not purchase only one case. All the fruit arriving in Melbourne is received in a green state, and no one would think of purchasing one case of green bananas. All the fruit goes into ripen.ing rooms, where it remains for ten days or a fortnight before it is ready for consumption.
– A fruiterer in my district said that he paid 28s. for a case, and I want to know where they can be purchased at 6s.
– I am quoting authentic figures to prove my statements. I now desire to refer to the allegation that the industry in Queensland is in the hands of the Chinese.’ The Minister for Agriculture in Queensland recently introduced and passed a’ measure entitled “ The Banana Industry Preservation Act,” which deals with foreigners ‘engaged in the industry. Tn the measure provision is made whereby any one who wishes to engage in the banana-growing business shall submit to a’ dictation test. It is very evident that the Queensland Government are anxious to make this industry a white man’s industry, and to do all they can to prevent foreigners engaging in it. The Queensland Minister said -
There was an additional reason why they should get this legislation on the statutebook at the earliest possible date, in order to prove to the Federal Parliament- particularly the Senate - the taxpayers, and consumer that they were determined to keep the industry white. He hoped that the House of Representatives would not reduce- the Tariff as suggested by tha Senate, because a duty of 8s. 4d. per cental would encourage the growers to establish themselves in Queensland and in New South Wales.
The Minister of Agriculture is to be congratulated upon having introduced such legislation, and I understand that tha New South Wales Government also intend passing a similar measure.
– Does that mean that a naturalized Chinese would be excluded?
– No. That point was raised during the debate, and the Minister made it clear that any foreigner at present engaged in the industry would not be disturbed. I understand that there are not more than half-a-dozen Chinese so employed in Queensland.
– There are fifty or sixty on one plantation in New South Wales.
– There are a number on one plantation in New South Wales controlled by Chinese in Melbourne, but on the Tweed River there is not a single Chinaman.
– The figures in regard to New South Wales were that there were fifty or sixty.
– But all on one plantation.
– Another objection raised is that ex-soldiers are engaged in Fiji in the production of bananas; but for every ex-soldier so engaged in Fiji there are forty or fifty in Queensland and in New South Wales. As I said on’ a previous occasion, a great deal of the money advanced for the repatriation of soldiers has been spent in establishing men on banana plantations, and as the plants take only about eighteen months to develop’, much of the land is now coming into production. There has been a remarkable increase in the area under cultivation, and thousands of acres are still available for banana-growing. I cannot imagine any returned man preferring to settle in Fiji instead of in Australia. The duty will stabilize the banana industry, and in the future there will be plenty of bananas available for local consumption; indeed, the production will be so great that it will be necessary to export some of the fruit. This will insure reasonable prices in the Australian market. Even now we are sending bananas to New Zealand. It is not intended to penalize the banana-growers in Fiji; it is the speculators there who are hit by the duty. In the last issue of *Nickos, a journal published in Brisbane in the interests of the fruit industry, a correspondent writes : -
When I was in Fiji recently I was surprised at the conditions prevailing there. I was told that all the banana exporters were only dealers who bought the fruit as cheaply as they could from the natives, paying from 7d. to 2s. a bunch, and 2s. 6d. to 3s. a case for the fruit on the river bank.
These statements are confirmed by a passage which appears on page 39 of Land and Products, a little publication printed by the Government Printer of Fiji -
Many growers disposed of their fruit to shippers on the plantation or on the steamer, thereby saving much trouble and thus securing a certain and quick cash return for their fruit without taking the risk of the outside market.
Apparently, therefore, the Fiji growers of bananas will continue to be as well off as they have been. They will get the same prices as formerly, and the profits that have been going into the pockets of the speculators will add to the revenue of this country. I take it that there have been no Fiji bananas sent to this market since May last merely to scare this House into reducing the duty, because I have not tie slightest doubt but that Fiji fruit will come on to this market again, even if the duty is continued. The duty has already had beneficial effects. Not only has it increased production in Queensland and New South Wales, but I learn on the authority of the Customs officials, and have heard from representatives of Western Australia, that banana plants have been sent to Western Australia, so that within a short time that State will be growing bananas for itself. The following is a resolution passed by the Country party in the Queensland Parliament ; and I understand that a copy of it has been sent to the Leader of the Country party here. I quote it in the hope that members of the Commonwealth Country party may realize that it is just as important to protect the growers of bananas in Queensland and New South Wales as to protect those engaged ‘ in industries in Victoria and the other States: -
That the Federal Government bo approached with a view of getting the full protection in the banana industry, as moved in the House of Representatives. Further, in view of the legislation which is being passed by the Queensland Government, which practically makes the banana industry a white-man industry, and such policy is part of the Federal Constitution, we think that a full measure of protection should be granted to the banana industry. That the above motion be sent to the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Country party, the Leader of the Opposition, and the President of the Senate, asking them that, as the matter is urgent, steps be taken to deal with the matter at once.
The banana industry is of great importance to the people of two States, and I hope, therefore, that the Committee will agree to the motion for the retention of the duty.
.- My attitude towards the duty on bananas is fie same now as it was when the rate originally proposed by the Government was increased. The Minister for Trade and Customs has spoken of the shortsightedness of certain persons, but I was at least able to foresee the consequences of this restrictive impost and its effect on the trade of this country. As I pointed out on a former occasion, we in Australia cannot live an insular life. Fiji is a British territory, where bananas were growing before Australia was discovered.
The growing of bananas is, part of the livelihood of the people of that country, and is it a Christian act to seek to deprive them of it? Furthermore, there is a tremendous amount of Australian capital in Fiji. Persons connected with the Government of that country have shown how offensive some of our legislation has been to its people, and that it has resulted in the diversion of trade which was more beneficial to Australia than to Fiji. Mr. H. M. Scott, KC, who has been a member of the Legislative Council of Fiji since his election to that body nearly fourteen years ago, and who has been mayor of Suva for the last six years, arrived in Sydney recently by the Niagara, and an interview with him was published in a local newspaper. It is as follows : -
In an interview to-night, he spoke as aa ardent advocate of a federation of British-owned islands in the Pacific. He was asked whether such a federation would not tend further to sever Australia’s connexion with the islands. “Fiji is not thinking of that aspect,” he replied, “and this is hardly to he wondered at m view of the very unfriendly policy of the Australian authorities towards Fiji and a.11 other islands. We have so long had to put up with hostile Tariffs and irritating restrictions on ,our produce, not to speak of strikes that delay our steamers, that we have grown sick of Australia’s treatment. It is not for me to question the wisdom of the Commonwealth Parliament in imposing a tremendously heavy duty on our bananas, for instance, but do Australians realize that where our people sold their bananas they bought their goods? They sell their bananas in New Zealand now., and they are purchasing their requirements there. Our trade with Australia was worth, roughly, £1,000,000 a year, and with New Zealand about £250,000, but New Zealand’s trade will show a great advance next year. The feeling is growing in Fiji that we must strike out for ourselves, so we have established a direct service with England that cuts out Australia. Just before my departure from Suva, the first steamer under the new contract left with 5,000 tons of copra, and it will come back also via Panama full of goods from England. For example, it will bring £15,000 worth of machinery for our electric light plant in Suva. The last plant was purchased in Australia, but such is the resentment against Australia’s treatment of us that this time- we decided to import direct from England.”
The honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Mackay) has stated that “an attempt is being made to grow bananas in Western Australia. That State has found -it practically impossible to get Queensland bananas. Messrs. H. J. and. F. Simper
Limited, two of the leading fruit merchants there, say -
We have many times endeavoured to import bananas from the eastern States, but without success. The distance is too far for the fruit to carry, and the cost too great to enable the people to buy them. During the past few years we have interested ourselves in the Java trade, and now have a considerable amount of capital invested in it. This has enabled us to provide a good outlet for Western Australian fresh fruit. Take grapes, for instance. Previously we have exported a few hundred cases each year. This year we have sent out about 3,000 cases, obtaining high prices for the Western Australian grower. We would »point out that it is only because we are reciprocating by taking their goods that we are able to do this. The new duty of Id. per lb. is too heavy to allow of the successful importation of bananas from Java, which is the only practical source of supply; consequently we fear the loss of our investments. Wc would like to point out that during a considerable portion of the year bananas are the principal fruit of the people, and this impost is likely to rob them of this fruit. This is serious as regards young children. During the glut season of Western Australian fruit, when soft fruits are in, very few bananas are imported, but large quantities are brought in commencing about April, when the only local fruits available are apples and oranges, with .a few pears. The restriction of the importation of bananas will not in any way affect the price of these fruits, which is always high during this period, but it will have a had effect on all fruit shops, as this is one of their principal lines. Wo would ask you to use every endeavour to obtain a, reduction in this rate, or at least exempt Western Australia.
A letter I have received from, another source states -
We learn from the Customs Department that a duty of Id. per lb. on ali bananas grown overseas is now in operation throughout Australia. We wish to draw your attention to the serious position in which it places the whole of the residents of Western Australia. As you are no doubt aware, the following towns, viz.: - Derby, Broome, Port Hedland, Point Samson, and Onslow, are for a great part of the year without any fruit at all, except that received from Java. These ports are supplied by the Joint Service boats, one about every two to three weeks, the bulk of fruit being bananas. Up to the present no one has been successful in growing bananas on a commercial basis in Western Australia, consequently the gold-fields and agricultural towns are supplied from Perth and Fremantle with fruit also grown, at Java. From many years* experience, the importers in this State recognise that the importation of bananas from Queensland or Sydney is not a commercial proposition, owing to the fruit deteriorating in transit. This, in actual practice, is proved to be a very real risk against which the importer has no redress. We feel that we ‘are on safe ground in saying that, should bananas be absolutely prohibited from entering Australia, Queensland growers cannot, now or at any future date, supply Western Australia with bananas. The reason is that the fruit is of a delicate nature, and the distance from the source of supply is too great to avoid heavy losses. This is accentuated by the many delays in transit, caused by ships calling at Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide. You are aware that our company (consisting of all local shareholders) has been trading between Fremantle, Java, and Singapore for the last eight years, and during that time has been the means of shipping a very large portion of Westralian fresh fruit, flour, and other products to these markets. ,
It has been said that man cannot live on bread alone, nor can he subsist merely on bananas. ‘“Western Australia, as well as Queensland, has big interests.
– Why injure the primary producer?
– I have no desire to do that. If I were speaking selfishly, I would go for a high Tariff. That might be good on party lines, but I wish to get as far away from those lines as possible. The duty suggested by the Senate is quite high enough for the protection of this industry. According to the Minister’s own statement, the industry developed to a huge extent in Queensland before this protection was offered it. Now there is to be almost a prohibitive Tariff directed against the fruit of a friendly country which is a British Territory.’ We are professing to have a fatherly interest in Fiji, and we are going to point out at the Washington Conference how careful White Australia is in looking after the interests of black Polynesia. We cannot live without trading with the people of the Pacific. We have £7,000,000 worth of trade with France, and’ we buy from that country goods to the value of only £1,000,000, yet we are endeavouring to manufacture perfumes in Australia by the aid of a Tariff which will exclude the French product. It would be better to take advantage of the natural potentialities of our country, and extend a little reciprocity in connexion with an industry which has been peculiar to France for centuries. We cannot be surprised if, in pursuing such a policy, we find other people building up walls of reprisal against us. It is natural for the people in the Pacific Islands ‘to grow bananas, and yet there are members in this House who seem to suggest that those people should be starved. There is a huge principle in volved in the question of the duty on bananas. I support the reduction suggested by the Senate, and think it ought to give reasonable protection. The Minister said the production of bananas had already increased rapidly in Australia, but it shows that the people who undertook the project without a Tariff knew what they were doing. The very costliness of some of the banana-growing lands, which have fetched up to £150 an acre, indicates that there is money in the industry. I do not favour excessive costs for anything. The attitude adopted by the House will shut out interests in a way that will simply make the Budget of the Federal Treasury the most difficult in Australia. It means killing our own goose that is laying the golden eggs. When I was living in Queensland twenty-one years ago the banana trade was thriving.
– The kanakas were there then.
– No, they were not. The honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Mackay) has already told us that Queensland bananas are being sold in New Zealand. It seems to be a sin for Australia to get anything cheaply. Notwithstanding all the protection that seems to be necessary for Queensland traders, they are able to send their goods to New Zealand against all competitors, and they say they are doing very well.
.- I support the reduction in duty suggested by the Senate. When the matter was before the House recently I opposed the duty of Id. per lb., which works out at about 4d. per dozen for good-sized bananas, and if we bring the duty down to ½d. it amounts to 2d. a dozen. As I previously stated, from my experience of the retail fruit trade, there is a fairly long period in South Australia, as there is in Western Australia, when for variety in fruit the people depend largely on the banana. Many of the poorer people purchase a few oranges and bananas once a week for a salad ‘for the Sunday evening meal. Knowing that fruit is one of the finest foods for mankind, I am opposed to any duty being put on which would keep it off the market. My .district is the principal fruit-growing area in South Australia, and if t spoke purely from a parochial view-point I would be advocating as high a duty as I could possibly obtain, so as to leave the market free for the fruit grown in my own district. As I stated a few moments ago, however, there is a period when even my. district cannot provide a sufficient variety.
– In what months would that be?
– In a heavy apple year, from the end of June to the middle of November, and in a light apple year, from the end of May until the middle of November.
– Are the apples not put into cold storage?
– Yes; but the conditions which apply to bananas also apply to cool storage apples ; that is to say, they are in the hands of a few packers. The retailer gets a fair deal when he can deal direct with the growers, and the consumers also benefit ; but the retailer who is compelled to buy from the packers finds himself very much at their mercy. When I heard the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Mackay) inform the Committee a little while ago that the price of prime bananas in Sydney quite recently was 17s. per crate, and that inferior bananas were at the time unsaleable, I went into the Library and had a glance at the Adelaide papers. I found that the quote for bananas in Adelaide last Saturday was 30s. per crate. There are about 24 dozen decent sized bananas in a crate.
– Adelaide is a long way from Sydney.
– And 30s. is a long way above 17s. The railway freight would not account for the difference.
– Do the Adelaide people ever get their bananas at 17s. a crate when the price in Melbourne is 26s. per crate?
– The Adelaide prices for bananas are always above the Melbourne prices, and, in fact, never even approach them. I would like the co-operative concerns among the banana-growers in Queensland to extend their operations to Adelaide, and deal direct with the retailers there.
– They are making preparations to do so.
– I am pleased to hear that statement. I cannot think that the agent in Adelaide who informed the honorable member that two months ago there was a glut of bananas on the Adelaide market, and that it could not do with another 2,000 cases, was telling the truth, because at that time there was room in the city for a big supply of bananas at anything like a reasonable price, particularly if they could be quoted at the rate of eighteen for 6d., at which, according to the photographs in possession of the honorable member for Lilley, they were being sold in Sydney the other day. In my experience, the price of this fruit has not altered very much in Adelaide. Bananas were dear years ago; they are still dear. The only way out of the difficulty is to get growers to cut out the middleman. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Prowse), evidently expressing the views of a middleman in Western Australia, said that bananas were one of the profitable lines of the retailer. His statement was contrary to facts. The banana to the greengrocer is like sugar used to be to the grocer. There is very little profit in selling it, but it is necessary to carry stocks in order to meet customers’ needs.
– Are there not big losses in connexion with bananas?
– As a retailer I lost more than I made out of them.. If a man could get at a reasonable cost a line that had ripened loo speedily to’ suit the packer’s plan, he could sell as many as he could secure, and make a good profit on them, but no one could make a reasonable profit out of fruit kept closely under the control of packers. I shall vote against high duties on bananas. I shall be pleased to see evidence of the fact’ that the Queensland growers are about to go into the business of meeting the retailer direct. If they do so in Adelaide, it will be a good business deal on their part.
– I think that I was the only Western Australian representative who supported the increased duty on bananas when the Tariff was before the Committee on a previous occasion, and I did so because, a few weeks previously, I had seen official reports concerning the prospects of growing bananas in the north-west of Western Australia. One authority I had in mind was Sir James Mitchell, the Premier of the State, who is as keen on land settlement and on the development of the State as any one could possibly be, and who is very anxious that steps shall be taken to encourage banana-growing in the northwest.
– Bananas are now growing near Perth.
– They are plantains.
– What is the difference? Where one will grow the other will grow.
– Some people say that the plantain is coarser than the banana, but I am not an expert in the matter.
– In any case, plantains grown near Perth cannot be bought at under 2d. or 3d. each.
– Three weeks ago, when I was in my electorate, Messrs. McCorkill Limited and Simper Limited, whose names have been mentioned this afternoon, approached me in connexion with their scheme for growing bananas near Carnarvon, in the Dampier electorate, where the State Government had granted them from 5,000 to 10,000 acres. These are the people who developed the trade in bananas between Java and Fremantle. They are excellent authorities upon all phases of the question of importing this fruit. I understand that in Queensland the growing is done on small plantations, because it is not practicable to got an extensive area of suitable land. I am not in the position to say how much of the area taken up by Messrs. McCorkill and Simper, who are working in conjunction in this matter, is fit for bananagrowing, but fifteen years ago bananas were grown in the district on experimental plots.
– They were plantains.
– The firms I have mentioned had. invested a considerable amount of capital in a steamer running between Fremantle and Java, but they realized that the imposition of an increased duty on bananas compelled them to focus their attention on locally-grown fruit. I do not regret the fact that they had to turn their eyes to internal growing of bananas. Within the last few weeks, plants have been secured from Queensland, and if they are not already planted are now on their way’ to Carnarvon.
– I was in Carnarvon the ‘ other day, and the people there urged me to do allI could to get the duty off.
– Carnarvon is in the electorate of the “honorable member, and I can only give the Committee the benefit of the information placed at my disposal by the people who are about to embark in the growing of bananas in the neighbourhood. We are endeavouring to encourage the settlement of white people throughout Australia. Most honorable members on this side of the Chamber favour a strong policy of immigration. If we could encourage hundreds of people to settle in the north-west of Australia, it would mean providing employment for others in supplying them with food and other requirements. Certainly we should do all we can to assist in bringing about such a settlement. Queensland had to make a beginning somewhere in this industry. Western Australia is about to make a beginning. I am pleased at the prospect of the people of the State being able to get bananas at a reasonable cost. At present, the cost of conveying the fruit from Queensland to Fremantle makes its price well-nigh prohibitive. Furthermore, as every bananagrower will admit, the fact that the banana has to be cut before it reaches a decent stage of maturity has a bad effect on it when it is placed on the market. I do not think that the Queensland growers would offer any opposition to the granting of practical assistance to those who are endeavouring to establish the industry in Western Australia. Messrs. McCorkill and Simper have placed before the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) a request for direct assistance during the period their banana plants are growing. Before the plants mature sufficiently to enable the growers to put on the market a quantity sufficient to have an appreciable effect upon the position, nearly two years must elapse. I realize that the Minister is placed in a very peculiar position in regard to this request, because he cannot make fish of one and flesh of another, and anything done by the Commonwealth Government must apply to the whole continent, and not to any particular State or section of it. However, I hope that he will.be able to assist these firms who are blazing the trail in Western Australia, just as assistance was given to encourage banana-growing in Queensland in years gone by, and that he will, as a Protectionist, exercise the wide powers he possesses in the direction of helping to develop an industry which so badly needs encouragement.
.- After the able speech of the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) and the member for Lilley- (Mr. Mackay), there is not much purpose in my going over the same ground. There is one thing, however, that seems to me to be extraordinary as coming from members who are apposed to the imposition of this duty. They seem to think, because during a certain period of the year banana-growers have to export their surplus product, that that is a sufficient reason why. they should not have protection. If that idea were applied logically, what would be the position of the fruit-growers of Victoria and South Australia - at Mildura, Renmark, and elsewhere? They have increased the production of fruit eightfold as compared with pre-war days. Why should they have a protective duty of 3d. per lb., when they export large quantities of their products to other parts of the world? What is sauce for one industry should be sauce for another. We must have a larger population in Australia, and that in the near future, if we are to continue to hold this very large territory under the White Australia policy. To accomplish that objective we must encourage the man on the land in every possible way.
– We are encouraging” the man on the land - beautifully !
-If the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) would go to Queensland, be would see that those who are advocating this duty on bananas are advocating the cause of the man on the land. ‘A large number of people in Queensland are opening up fresh ground for the extension of this industry. I can assure honorable members that there is ample land available in Queensland for the growing of bananas in quantities sufficient for the requirements, not only of the present population of Australia, but also of a population four times as large. We must do everything we possibly can to encourage people to come out to this country and settle on the land; and when they arrive there is no doubt but that many of them, especially after their experiences during the war, will have very limited means for setting themselves up in any industry. Banana growing is an industry in which one can make a successful start without much capital. I sincerely hope that the members of this Committee will be reasonable, and, at any rate, will give credit to those who understand the subject from A to Z, and who are giving honest advice. I ask them to believe that those who are advocating the higher duty are giving the proper advice to this Committee. I hope the Committee will support the motion.
.- The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) has, in his appeal for the protection of bananas, put forward an argument for which I have very great sympathy. I quite realize with him, and I think I have made it a feature of my political life in Tariff matters, that the development of rural interests ought to be the one outstanding aim and object of the National Parliament of Australia. The prosperity, welfare, and development of the “ country will determine the degree of prosperity and progress of the towns. Therefore, if I could be satisfied that the claim made indicated a concern for the protection of banana growers, I would be found probably supporting the duty. But is it necessary to impose a duty of 8s. 4d. per cental in order to protect the banana grower?
– Against black labour it i3 necessary.
– I want to. point out to the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser)’ that, the banana industry has developed in Queensland under much less protection than is afforded by 8s. 4d. per cental.. As a matter of fact, it has developed on a duty of ls. 6d. per cental.
– The industry was declining.
– I was assured by an acquaintance of mine, who went up to Queensland recently to take up land for the growing of bananas, that the growing of bananas was a most profitable industry in Queensland under the old duty of ls. 6d. per cental. That being so, how much more profitable will it be with a duty of 8s. 4d. per cental? I suggest that there is room in the markets of Australia for all the bananas that Queensland, is likely to produce, and also that there is room for a large import business. The representatives of Queensland know quite well that the area of land suitable for banana-growing is strictly limited.
– I know quite well that it is not.
– It is only in certain localities, and with certain conditions of soil, that bananas can be grown profitably. The rush for that particular quality of land is one of the most notable factors in the rural development of Queensland at the present time. Everybody who has money and wants to go into the country is clamouring for banana land, and is prepared to pay stiff prices for it.
– Pineapple growing is also going ahead in Quensland.
– That is another profitable industry. As the banana is more of a food than a fruit, the Queensland growers ought to be satisfied with the high degree of prosperity that they were enjoying with a duty of ls. 6d. per cental. They ought to leave to the consumers an opportunity of still getting bananas at a fairly reasonable price.
– Great loss has been occasioned to the banana-growers in Queensland by the fact that when they send bananas to Sydney or Melbourne thousands of cases may arrive at the same time from Fiji. The consequence has been, in some instances, that they have not received a sufficiently high price to pay the freight.
– That is a matter that could be very easily adjusted. When I tell honorable members that I was in the Old Country a few years ago, and found fruit vendors selling West Indian bananas in the streets of Glasgow at 4d. a dozen, they will realize that there must be a large profit on the sale of bananas at the pricesruling in the cities of Australia. The banana is a food of immense value and importance, especially for children, and I would like to see it in much more general demand, and obtainable at a much cheaper price than it can be purchased in Australia to-day. . If it can be shown that bananas can be grown in abundance in Australia, that they will be put on the market at a reasonable price, and that there would be no combine or ring to force up the prices, then I will be prepared to increase even the present duty a little. But I want to be shown that it is necessary, and the proof has not been made available. I am obliged, therefore, to take up the position that in the interests, particularly, ‘ of the children of Australia, the banana is a fruit that should be put on the market cheaply and in abundance. At the same time I do not wish to withdraw the protection under which the banana industry has flourished in the past, but will give it a little increase. I will be prepared to give it½d. in the lb., which is equal to Is. 2d. per cental. This represents a very substantial protection indeed, and, to my mind, is more than the industry should receive, even at the hands of. the most extreme Protectionist.
.- There are many phases from which one might discuss this question, and the most important of them, appears to me to be that of Australia’s connexion with the islands of the Pacific. We have been claiming in the Imperial Conferences that have bean held in England the right to be classed as a nation and the right to the position, almost, of a godfather “to the islands of the Pacific. Any person who takes a statesman-like view of the position and desires to build up the Empire and the prestige of this country, will endeavour to do all he possibly can to create a feeling of friendship with the islands of the Pacific. There is not the slightest doubt that Parliament, in imposing a duty of 8s. 4d. per cental, has done an enormous amount of injury to Australia as far as these islands are concerned. Is this policy going to be extended when we are dealing with the mandates that have been placed in our hands? We have a mandate for New Guinea. Are we going to apply the same arguments to that territory in the future that we are now applying to Fiji ? If people undertake the development of these islands, is it going to be said to them that, because native labour is employed, special duties must be imposed upon their products coining into this country? Is this the way in which we will build up our prestige as a nation ? I think the figures quoted by the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Prowse), in the letter he read, were slightly exaggerated, because our imports from Fiji were in the neighbourhood of £350,000 a year, while our escort trade with that island varied from £750,000 to £800,000 each year. That is to say, we were sending to Fiji quite double, if not more than double, the value of the products which we were receiving from that place. It is our duty as members of this National Parliament to do all we can to create a feeling of friendship with the peoples of the Pacific Islands, and to make them believe that Australia would be their future friend, as well as their chief market. In sending a delegate to the Washington Conference1 we are claiming a voice in matters pertain: ing to the Pacific. The actions of the Go. vernment, so far as concerns our trade with Fiji, are proving injurious from the stand-point of statesmanship, and costly from the economic point of view. We are losing our trade associations with Fiji, and before long we shall be able to say the same, unfortunately, of our relations with Java. Java has been buying from Australia more than double the value of the goods which we have been purchasing from that country. It may be said, of course, that it pays Java to trade with us; but, even so, if Australia shows that she does not want ito trade with Java, there are bound to be reprisals. Already Fiji has informed us that she does not want to have anything more to do witE us commercially. But we must find and keep markets for the export of our goods.” I had been hopeful of seeing the expansion of considerable trade, in the matter of flour, fruits, and cattle, between Western Australia and the islands and peoples generally of the north and east; but now we must look for reprisals, and is it all worth while ? The Minister (Mr. Greene) has provided statistics indicating the considerable growth of the banana industry in Australia. All this added production occurred, however, during- the years when the duty was lower than that which has now been enforced.
– It was the war, arid nothing but the war, which led to the development of the Australian banana industry.
– I have particulars of our trade with Fiji during the war years, and since. In 1915-16 Australia imported 310,000 centals of bananas; in the following year, 386,000 centals; during the year afterwards, only 225,000 centals; and, in 1918-19, 122,000 centals. In 1919-20 there was a still more considerable fall.
– The reductions in the importations ‘ of bananas from Fiji were due to tornadoes, which devastated the banana plantations. Fiji had practically no bananas to export.
– I was not aware of that factor.
– It was during those years that the Australian industry was built up.
– The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Fowler) ascribes the expansion of the Australian industry to the fact that tornadoes prevented the export of bananas from Fiji, whilst the Minister advances, as the reason, “the war, and nothing but the war.”
– There was an even better reason than either of those. The Tariff was before this House for twelve months, and the Australian growers knew that they would be expected to afford proof that they could supply sufficient bananas to meet the demands of the Australian market. For that reason they planted largely, and those plants are now coming into bearing.
– I can only say that the greatest surprise afforded throughout the whole period of the consideration of the Tariff was when the Minister accepted the amendment of the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Mackay) in respect of the duty .on bananas. I am convinced that the increased duty was secured by the merest accident; and, as for the contention that the Australian banana-growers are now supplying Australia’s requirements, I know that they are not fulfilling the demands from Western Australia, and that they cannot do so. In 1919-20 - the latest year in respect of which I have been able to secure statistics - the total number of centals received by Western Australia was only 619.
– During the past two months the Australian growers of bananas have been sending to Western Australia as many as 700 cases a week.
– I am unable to secure reliable figures covering as recent a period as that.,
Sitting suspended from 6.29 to 8 p.m.
– It is impossible for the people of Western Australia to obtain bananas from Queensland except at high rates, and without suffering heavy losses. There must be something in the nature of reciprocity in a trade of this kind. I was surprised to hear the statement made by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Burchell) in regard to the attitude taken up by certain business people in his constituency. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Prowse), when this question was before us on a previous occasion, read letters dated 27th May of this year, in which certain fruit and produce merchants carrying on business in Perth pointed out that at considerable expense they had built up a trade with the islands to the north and countries to the east in connexion with the banana industry. In ‘a letter to me, one of these firms, writing in May last, stated that -
During the past few years we have interested ourselves in the Java trade, and now have a considerable amount of capital invested in it. This has enabled us to provide a good outlet for Western Australian fresh fruit. Take grapes, for instance. Previously we have exported a few hundred cases each year; this year we have sent out about 3,000 cases, obtaining high prices for the Western Australian grower. We would point out that it is only because we are reciprocating by taking their goods that we are able to do this. The new duty of Id. per lb. is too heavy to allow of the successful importation of bananas from Java, which is the only practical source of supply. Consequently we fear the loss of our investments.
I wish to emphasize the point that this trade between Java and Western Australia has been built up only as the result of our taking bananas from that island. The trade that Western Australia is doing with the islands to the north is three times as great as that which they are doing with us. We have established in and around the southern portions of Western Australia a big fruit industry, and the Java market for that fruit will be destroyed unless we are able in return to import bananas from that country. Where are the people along the north-west coast of Western Australia to get fresh fruit if this supply be cut off 1 Surely those who are trying to develop that part of the continent - the people in and about Carnarvon, Roeburne, Port Hedland, Marble Bar, Broome, and many other places - are deserving of some consideration. I sent a telegram ‘a little while ago to the then Acting Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Wise), pointing out that he was able to allow tram rails to come in free of duty under the heading of machine tools and appliances, and asking him whether bananas could not be classified as a medicine, and allowed as such to come in free of duty. He was not prepared, however, to entertain that proposal. If we could induce people to settle in the tropical parts of Western Australia, there is no doubt that bananas and other tropical fruits would ultimately be grown there. So far, however, we have not been able to do so. Mr. Despeissis, a specialist who was ap> pointed by the Western Australian Government to visit that part of the State, reported that it comprised big areas of very rich land with a splendid rainfall. In and around the Kimberleys there is some of the finest country in Australia; but the temperature is bad. and we shall have difficulty in settling that part of the country. Until we can induce people to produce bananas in. the tropical parts of Western Australia, the Parliament should not be prepared to impose a duty of Id. per lb. on this fruit. In the far-distant parts people have very little in the way of good fresh fruits, and it is essential that they should obtain a supply of bananas. Are they to wait until the people of whom the honorable member for Fremantle has spoken have» their plantations going? I very much doubt the advisability of handing over Western Australia’s banana supply to those who have been endeavouring to build up this trade. They are wholesalers and retailers, and I do not know whether, if these plantations were developed, the people would be better supplied than they are at present. The development of the country should, of course, be encouraged, but this heavy duty is absolutely unjustifiable. The Minister knows that great losses are suffered in connexion with the shipment of bananas from Java to Fremantle. The duty of 8s. 4d. per cental has to be paid on a full consignment, and it is quite possible that, having regard to the wastage that takes place, it may amount to 10s. or 15s. per cental in respect of the marketable bananas actually delivered. I object to the duty as passed by the Committee, and hope that the request made by another place will be agreed to. It offers a fair compromise. The duty accepted by this Committee absolutely astounded the people. It is preposterously high, and it has done us infinite harm. I hope that the good sense of the Committee will lead to the request for a reduction of that duty being agreed to, so that the people of Western Australia, by whom this fruit is badly needed, will be able to obtain it at something like a moderate price.
.- It is to be regretted that the majority of honorable members have gained .their knowledge of bananas and the banana-growing industry from fruit shops and fruit trucks. If they were to visit Queensland or the northern rivers of New South Wales, and see ‘the industry as it is carried on there, they would realize what a great asset it is, not only to the districts in which the fruit is grown, but to the whole of the Commonwealth. Despite what the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Fowler) has said, we have in Queensland vast areas suited to the production of bananas. It may not be known that bananas are grown as far north as Cooktown. It is true that few, if any, of the bananas grown, in the northern part of Queensland reach the southern markets, but that is due solely to shipping difficulties. The steamship Levuka, which was built specially for the banana trade between Fiji and Sydney, has during the last three or four months been on the North Queensland run. The company operating that vessel has put her in commission there for the tourist traffic, and there is every hope that she will ultimately be used for the carriage of bananas from North Queensland ports as far South as Sydney. When that takes place, there will be no further talk as to the impossibility of Queensland and the Northern River districts of New South Wales supplying the whole of the Australian market in bananas.
– They cannot supply Western Australia.
– I admit that there is some difficulty in so far as that State is concerned. Thank Heaven, however, all the people of Western Australia are not pessimists. It was a positive joy to hear the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Burchell) speak as he did. He gives us a ray of hope that the people of Western Australia will try to help themselves in regard to the banana industry. The honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) said that incalculable damage had been done Australia by the imposition of the duty of Id. per lb. If, however, the imposition of that duty has induced the two firms mentioned by the honorable member for Fremantle to embark on the industry in Western Australia, then it can only be said that it has done incalculable good. The objections raised to the duty as passed by this Committee some months ago are based very largely on ‘the fact that middlemen have been able to make large profits out of the industry. The honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Mackay), when addressing himself to the question earlier this afternoon, mentioned that it is necessary to cut bananas while they are in a more or less green state in order that they may be placed on the southern market in sound condition, and that, because of this, the marketing of them could not be handled by the growers direct. The ‘ green bananas are bought up by men known in the trade as “ripeners,” who store them, and place them on the market when they become fit for consumption. The honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) was bitter in his denunciation of the middlemen and the profits which they take unto themselves. He expressed the hope that the time would soon come when the Queensland growers would co-operate and place their fruit upon the market by means of their own direct agencies. I should like honorable members to realize that a co-operative movement of that kind cannot be entered upon until the growers .are assured of a steady market. In the past they have not had that assurance. They knew that any day a shipment of bananas from Fiji might reach Sydney simultaneously with a large consignment from Queensland, with the result that the market would be glutted, and the return would not pay them for the cost of conveying the fruit to that city. If the duty passed by this Committee be retained, however, the growers will be assured of a reasonable return for their labour. They are not unmindful of the fact that should the price of bananas go beyond a certain point the general public will cease to buy them. There is a price beyond which bananas will not be purchased by the average individual.. Rather than pay such a price, he would spend his money in buying some other fruit, such as Tasmanian apples. We should not forget ‘that the Tariff Board will have all these matters under supervision, and should it be proved to its satisfaction that the growers are unduly “ bulling “ the market, Parliament will be informed, and we shall have an opportunity to prevent it. The honorable member for .Swan dealt with Fiji as well as with Java, and lamented that our trade with Fiji has fallen off in a marked degree. He neglected to say that, although the *Levuka has been taken from, the Fiji trade, the Suva is still running, and the trade between Fiji and Australia is still’ of very great dimensions. The honorable member for Perth dealt with the high cost of land used for the cultivation of bananas. He overlooked the fact that the averagebananagrower is content with a very small acreage. A farm of 15 acres is sufficient for him. When it is remembered that land used for the growth of bananas is, in its virgin . state, covered with very thick scrub, and costs anything from £40 to £50 per acre to clear, and that on a 15-acre farm there. may be erected a more or less substantial house, with storing sheds and other conveniences, it will be seen that the overhead charge per acre amounts to a very considerable sum. We cannot compare the cost per acre of banana land with the cost per acre of land suitable for the growth of wheat.
– What about grapes?
– A man requires a larger acreage for a vineyard than for the growth of bananas. The class of land suitable for a vineyard is not as expensive to bring under cultivation as is the soil required for the successful production ofbananas. It must further be borne in mind that a vineyard will last for many years, and that there is practically no limit to the life of a grape vine.
– There is higher protection on grapes than on bananas.
– As I mentioned when this matter was previously discussed in this Chamber,the banana is a great feeder. Although it comes into bearing within eighteenmonths, it is found that at the end of five years the land on which bananas are growing is practically worked out, and must be discarded for that purpose. These things should be taken into consideration, and the question should also be regarded from the point of view of the national welfare of Australia. Every member of the Committee realizes the necessity for peopling the north of Australia. The fostering of the bananaindustry will prevent settlers being forced into the ‘backblocks of the interior. It will induce them to take up coastal lands. Many things might be said in favour of the advantages to be gained toy settling people on our coastal lands. I know of no reason for the objection to the duty on bananas at first agreed to by the Com mittee if it be not, I will not say the selfishness, but the self-interest, of people of States in which the banana is not grown. They are disposed to view this matter solely from the point of view of their own pockets, and do not consider the welfare of Australia generally. I hope the Committee will adhere to its previous decision, and will retain the duty at 8s. 4d. per cental, which, as the Minister has pointed out, is only equal to the duty imposed on citrus fruits.
.- For a representative of a Queensland constituency, and especially one holding the views on Tariff matters which I have expressed, this is, perhaps, a question on which silence might be said to be golden. However, one question has been raised during the debate, amongst others, by the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Mackay), who directed attention to the measures passed by the Queensland Parliament affecting the Chinese engaged in this particular industry. In common, I believe, with every other true Australian, I am opposed, of course, to the introduction into this country of any Asiatics. I should say at the same time that I have often wondered how it is that, with the strict laws we have, and have had for many years in Australia against their introduction, there should be so many Chinese in this country as we see here even now. But as we have a number” of Chinese in Australia, who, I presume, are legally and rightfully here, I believe they could not be better employed than in producing something from the land, and especially any commodity such as the banana, which is, after all, a valuable and a poor man’s food. When I was a member of the Queensland Parliament, a measure was passed prohibiting the Chinese from following the occupation of cook. If it is right to prohibit their employment in this and in that occupation, the logical thing to do would be to go further and propose their expulsion or repatriation, with or without compensation. After the war I returned on a transport on which there was a Chinese private of the Australian Imperial Force. He was born, no doubt, in Australia, but was, I believe, the son of full-blooded Chinese parents. That soldier wore the D.C.M., the Military Medal, and a bar to the Military Medal. I appeal to any soldier in the Committee to say whether he thinks that such a man won his decorations undeservedly. I say unhesitatingly that that man is as good a man as is any member of this Committee. I bring the incident forward not with a view to altering the decision of any member of the Committee on this matter, but in order that we might be warned, in dealing with these questions, not to be induced by any almost unconscious prejudice against doing anything which might afterwards appear to us to have been in any way unfair or unBritish.
Question - That the requested amendment be not made - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 19
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Requested amendment not made.
Fruits, dried, viz.: - . . . ginger, preserved (not in liquid) . . . per lb., 3d.
Senate’s Request. - (Singer,per, lb., 4d.
.- I move -
That the requested amendment be made.
This is one of the items which I promised to look into when the Tariff was going through this Chamber; and it has, on investigation, been found necessary, in view of the sugar position, to give some additional protection to preserved ginger.
Motion agreed to.
Fruits, dried, viz.: - . . . prunes .. . per lb., 4½d.
Senate’s Request. -Prunes, per lb., 4d.
.- I move -
That the requested amendment be not made.
I presume that the Senate, in dealing with this item, considered that prunes did not require any higher duty than the rest of the dried fruits, and tried to bring the whole into line. There are two reasons why I think we should give slightly additional protection to prunes. . One reason is that this is a comparatively new industry, and the other that prunes are subject to a special form of competition to which other dried. fruits are not. Our prunes have to compete against the end-of-the-season trade of America, and that acts most prejudicially to our growers. The American fruit is dumped here at a comparatively low price at the end of the season -to clear out stocks ; and the result is the destruction of our market just at the time when our new season’s fruit is coming in. Honorable members will, no doubt, recollect that this was one of the recommitted items. During the original discussion here, a request was made for an increased duty of, I think, 6d. per lb., and I promised to go thoroughly into the whole question, so that when the item was recommitted. I should be able to deal with it. This I did, and on the strength of the inquiries made, and the information we were able to gather, we increased* the duty on prunes from 3d. to 4½d., which, I think, is fully justified.
– Is not 4d. per lb. a very fair impost?
– Under all the circumstances, I think that 4½d. is about the fair thing.
.- I do not think it matters in the least whether we make the duty 4d. or 4½d. - it might just as well be 4s. The prune is a fruit that is grown without the slightest trouble or difficulty almost anywhere a person cares to stick in a tree. The cultivation is of the simplest, and the curing of the fruit is also, a simple matter. At the present time, the price of prunes in Australia is about 100 per cent, higher than in other countries that are not subject to excessive duties, so that we practically pay double prices for every pound we buy to-day. This kind of thing prevails right throughout the dried-fruit trade.
– How many kinds of prunes are there?
– There are various kinds.
– And what are the prices?
– There is practically no difference in price; the Australian fruit is sold at one price, and there is one kind of prune right throughout Australia.
– That is not so.
– If a person goes into a retail place and asks for prunes he takes simply what is given him, because he does not know one prune from another. There are various kinds of prunes grown in different parts of the world. The French prune is of excellent quality, and is subject to special conditions in growth and preparation; but, so far as my experience goes, we in Australia do nob know what we are getting, except that it is a dried plum of some kind or other. However, I do not think it worth while making any fuss about the difference between 4½d. and 4d. ; in either case the duty practically means prohibition against the importation of the fruit into Australia.
Motion agreed to.
Fruits, dried, viz. : - … per lb.. 3d.
Senate’s Request. - Insert new sub-item -
Motion (by Mr. Greene) proposed -
That the requested amendment be made.
.- In view of the big increase in the duty requested by the Senate, I think that the Minister (Mr. Greene) should give us a little information before he so readily asks us to accept it. If this requested amendment be made it will be a direction to the people in the trade to add the increased duty to. the price. No one can say with any reason that if this duty be imposed the people in the trade will pay it themselves, for we know that it is sure . to be passed on to the consumer.
.- To my mind the dried fruit industry should become a great one in Australia, and I would do a good deal to aid in nicking it prosperous. When we consider the history of fruit-growing in Australia, and the marvellous progress of Mildura, we not only realize the great value of an industry of the sort, but wonder how it comes that an increase in the duty is demanded. With the duty of 3d., which has hitherto prevailed, the industry at Mildura and throughout the country has progresed by leaps and bounds Magnificent dried fruit, of which we can well be proud, is produced, and I am looking forward to a large export trade. We must, however, also consider the consuming public. In view of this continued prosperity, land at Mildura is worth large sums, and under the De Garis movement people have made enormous fortunes. I see no danger to the industry if the old duty be retained.
Question - That the requested amendment be made - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Requested amendment made.
Grain and pulse, not prepared or manufactured, viz. : -
Maize, per cental, British,1s. 6d.; intermediate, 2s. ; general, 2s.
Senate’sRequest. - Per cental, intermediate, 2s. 6d. ; general, 3s.
– I move -
That the requested amendment be made.
When this item -was before the Committee on a previous occasion, a request was made to increase the duty, but it was resisted by the G overnment. However, the Senate has made this request. I do not think it can do any material harm, and it may do considerable good in certain circumstances. Therefore, the Government have accepted it.
.- We fixed the duty deliberately. If, as the Minister has said, the requested amendment will not do any harm and might result in good; I may follow his line of reasoning and say that if it does no good it will do no harm to leave the duty as fixed by the House of Representatives.
Motion agreed to.
Item 75 -
Milk (including cream) -
Preserved, condensed, concentrated, peptonized, and frozen -
Senate’s Request. - ‘Per lb., intermediate, 2d.; general, 2½d.
– I move-
That the requested amendment be made.
The Senate’s request is for a reduction of the intermediate and general Tariff by½d. per lb. The increase was imposed by the Committee on the general principle of increasing the British preference more or less all through the schedule, but we realize that in this item it offers no material advantage to the Mother Country. Therefore, we propose to accept the Senate’s amendment.
Motion agreed to.
Item 81 -
Peel, preserved in liquid . . . per lb., British,1d.; intermediate, l½d.; general, 2d.
Senate’s Request. - Per lb., general, 3d.
.- I move -
That the requested amendment be made.
The effect of the request is to increase the general Tariff by1d. per lb. We are importing a considerable amount of peel, and there is no doubt whatever that we can produce all that is required in this country.
– Hundreds of tons of suitable fruitare going to waste.
– I understand that is the position. This fruit ought to be turned to profitable account.
Motion agreed to.
Piece goods, viz. : -
Senate’s Request. - Ad val., intermediate, 5 per cent.; general, 15 per cent.
– I move -
That the requested amendment be not made.
When this item was before the Committee on a previous occasion I explained why we had departed from the principle of giving preference to Great Britain, which was provided for in the old Tariff. I pointed out that Great Britain has never laid herself out to manufacture this particular class of calico. We import it chiefly from America, where goods are packed in the same manner as in Australia. The request is to give a preference of 15 per cent, to Great Britain, but its effect would be to place a tax upon our export industries.
Motion agreed to.
Woven materials in the piece, or otherwise . . . Ribbons and galoons having not more than forty-eight ribs to the lineal inch, ad. val., British, 35 per cent.; intermediate. 40 per cent.; general, 50 per cent.
Senate’s Request. - Amend item to make itread - “Ribbons and galoons having not more than forty ribs to the lineal inch, and not more than 3½ inches in width.”
.- I move -
That the requested amendment be made.
This is purely a verbal amendment in order to meet a technical difficulty. The request has been made on the advice of departmental experts.
Motion agreed to.
Artificial plants, flowers, fruits, leaves, and grains of all kinds and materials, ad val., British, 30 per cent.; intermediate, 35 per cent.; general, 40 per cent.
Senate’s Request. - Amend item to make it -
Artificial flowers, n.e.i., artificial plants, fruits, leaves, and grains of all kinds and materials, ad val., British, 30 per cent.; intermediate, 35 per cent.; general, 40 per cent.
Artificial flowers in sprays, trails, or posies, per dozen sprays, trails, or posies, British, 4s.; intermediate, 4s. 6d.; general, 5s.; or ad val., British, 30 per cent.; intermediate, 35 per cent.; general, 40 per cent., whichever rate returns the higher duty.
.- I move -
That the requested amendment . be made.
I understand that considerable trouble has been experienced by the Customs officers in classification, and that the amendment requested by the Senate will meet the difficulty. This is one of the items in connexion with which we have adopted the recommendations of the Inter-State Commission. I believe the requested rearrangement will lead to the employment of a considerable number of people in the manufacture of artificial flowers.
– Is it not an unhealthy occupation ?
– I do not think so. It is a light occupation, which gives play for the exercise of whatever artistic talents girls may possess to a greater extent than work upon ordinary clothing materials. I do not see why it should be more unhealthy than the usual occupation of a seamstress.
Motion agreed to.
Senate’s Request. - Insert new sub-item -
– I move -
That the requested -amendment be made, with the following -modification : - “ Ad val, British, 30 per cent.; intermediate, 40 per cent.: general, 45 per cent.” “When this item was previously before the Committee, a discussion arose as to whether these articles of attire were made in any quantity in Australia. I am quite satisfied that the imposition of this duty has led to the local manufacture of corsets on a very large scale; and that if the proposals I am now submitting to the Committee are accepted there will be a considerable extension of the industry. The latest information I have is that a factory is ‘almost completed in Sydney, which, when in full working order, will be capable of ‘ turning out over 600,000 pairs of corsets per annum.
– “We heard a lot of these fairy tales when the Tariff was before the Committee previously. ‘
– If the honorable member will inspect the factory in Sydney, he will agree with me as to the value of this industry and the possibility of extending it. The Inter-State Commission reported that, in their opinion, there was no reason why corsets should bear a lower duty than the rest of wearing apparel; and, following upon that recommendation, and in view of the information we had obtained regarding the progress of the industry in Australia and its proposed further development, we agreed to eliminate corsets as a separate item in the Tariff, and include them under the apparel duty. I feel confident that if the Senate’s request were acceded to, we should revert to the old conditions, when practically all the corsets required were imported, representing a value of £300,000 per annum. Inasmuch as I feel quite sure that we can make in Australia all the corsets that are required, and thus give employment to a large number of people, the duties I am now proposing are very modest, and will probably be acceptable to the Senate.
.- I asked the Minister (Mr. Greene) to consider this requested amendment in connexion with the one which follows. Item 110 (b) comprises “Apparel, n.e.i., for the human body, partly or wholly made up, including material cut into shape therefor; also materials defined by pattern or design for manufacture into apparel,” and the duties passed by this House were 40 per cent., 50 per cent., and 55 per cent. What does the Minister intend to do when we reach the next amendment, which proposes to add a new sub-item relating to woven underskirts, undervests, underpants, and combinations, on which the Senate has proposed duties of 30 per cent., 40 per cent., and 45 per cent. ? The made-up garments are to bear practically the same duty as is imposed on the material defined by pattern or design for manufacture into apparel. I was shown in Sydney material called Cooltex, of which many of these garments are made, and the manufacturers complained that the raw material is subject to almost the same duty as is imposed on the made-up garment.
.- The honorable member has been wrongly informed. The materials that are imported for manufacture into corsets are piece goods, and are not defined by pattern or design for manufacture into apparel. The articles to which the honorable member refers are nearly complete garments. The object of subjecting them to the full apparel duty was to insure’ that as much of the work as possible would be done in this country, and that the garments should be made up right from the piece goods. Corsets are made from piece goods, which are admitted free of duty.
– I remind the Committee that the representations regarding the’ extent of the Australian manufacture of corsets are so much nonsense, and there is not likely bo be any material increase of local manufactures. The higher-grade corset is not made in the Commonwealth at all. The proposed duty is good for revenue purposes, and that is its only redeeming feature. It is not fair to lead the community to think that the new corset-making industry will supply the requirements of Australia straight away.
.- I was not aware that corsets were being manufactured in Australia in any quantity, because when I left the trade it was impossible to purchase an Australian- made article that could be sold over the counter to the average purchaser. I do not know what development has taken place in the last eighteen months or two years, but at the time of which I speak the wholesale houses were not handling any Australian-made corsets.
If the article submitted by the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton), which is priced at 42s., is the Only type that can be produced, it cannot be expected to meet with a ready sale, because the wife or daughter of the average working man would not be in a position to purchase at what is practically a prohibitive price. Years ago retailers were selling Canadian corsets at 3s.11d. and 4s.11d. per pair ; but they are not procurable to-day owing to the altered conditions. Speaking from memory, I believe the highest price ruling towards the end of the war was from 102s. to 108s. per dozen; but now it is possible to procure only three pairs for an amount which would previously purchase a dozen pairs. I do not feel disposed to oppose a duty if there is an industry in Australia which is in a position to meet all our requirements;, but before giving- the Minister’s proposal my support I would like to have some guarantee in that direction. Of course, there are some women in our community who would willingly pay 42s., and who would not care if a duty of 200 per cent, were imposed. If the Australian manufacturers can place their corsets on the market at a price at which they can easily be purchased by all sections, I am in favour of an adequate protective duty being levied ; but up to the present I have not seen any indication of that being done. If the manufacturers in Australia have made such rapid strides that they can meet the demands of the people of Australia when previously they could not supply anything, it is a wonder that their product is not more readily obtainable. I have been under the impression that the only Australian-made corsets available were tailored or hand-made articles, and if there are others being manufactured in any quantity I would be pleased to hear of it. I believe in adequate protection to all Australian industries; but I regard it as a misguided policy to protect one or two small industries and enable those conducting them to become wealthy at the expense of the purchasers. That is what would happen in this instance. Judging from my past experience I cannot, without proof, accept the statement that the Australian manufacturers can supply the requirements of the wives and daughters of working men at a reasonable price.
.- I rise under a deep sense of responsibility to endeavour to impress upon the Committee the necessity of supporting the Senate’s request for the reduction of this item. As the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) suggests, by interjection, corsets should be brought within the reach ofall. It will be remembered that when this matter was before . the Committee some months ago, I asked the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) whether he considered corsets a luxury or a necessity. I will not say that he gave me a flippant answer, but that he, like the Chancellor in Tennyson’s poem -
And smiling put the question by.
Up to the present, I have been unable to obtain any information on this point, either from the Minister or from any member of the Committee, and I therefore turned, as a last resource, to the information supplied in the daily press. In doing so, I found that a charming lady friend of mine, who is the President of the Housewives’ Association- a very important body, representing a most influential, section of the community - addressed a meeting in the Town Hall, in Melbourne, on 1st September, and in referring to the price of corsets, Mrs Glenoross said -
Men do not seem to see the necessity of corsets. They do not seem to care a button whether we wear them or not.
I regard this as a serious reflection on our intelligence and judgment, and we can only free ourselves from the painful reproach by directing ourselves more seriously to the question than we have done before. There was a time when such a charge could not be made against members of this Chamber, and when, to quote the words of Edmund Gosse -
Life, that when youth was hot and bold
Leapt up in scarlet and in gold,
It seems, however, that life -
Now walks in solemn garb attest
In russet and in silver dressed.
Times have changed, and perhaps I may now quote the immortal words of Edmund Burke onthis subject, when he said -
But, alas, the age of chivalry has gone, that of sophisters, economists, and calculators has succeeded, and the glory of Europe is extinguished forever.
Having done my best to impress upon honorable members the seriousness of the question, I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs to give the women a chance by reducing this monstrous impost, and to agree to the request made by the Senate to lower the duty.
.- It was not my intention to speak on this matter had it not been for the speech delivered by the honorable member for Grampians (Mr. Jowett), who, instead of fighting for the women of our community, was apparently considering his own interests. I have had an opportunity of visiting” the factories where Australian corsets are made, and I am convinced that the industry is one that should be encouraged. I presume the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) has considered this matter very carefully, and has come to the conclusion that the duty suggested is necessary. In an industry undertaking the higher grade work, a large number of women are employed, and if operations are carried out as they are in Canada the industry should have adequate protection.
.- I trust the Committee will support the suggestion submitted by the Senate to reduce the duty on imported corsets. When this item was previously under consideration, I endeavoured to impress upon honorable members that the duty imposed is a heavy tax upon the womenfolk in our community, and unless we have” concrete evidence that there is a big industry being profitably conducted in the Commonwealth; we should not impose heavy duties. Statistics show that for 1919 - the latest figures available - the total importations were valued at £876,000, and the Australian production was equal to only 3 per cent. About 97 per cent, of the corsets used were imported principally from America and Great Britain. Only £36,000 worth of corsets were made in Australia. We have heard that cotton ‘ socks and stockings were being manufactured in the Commonwealth to such an extent that the trade could be supplied. The same has been said concerning corsets, and in order to prove if such were the case the Housewives’ Association directed two ladies to visit the shops to ascertain if Australian corsets were available, and they reported that they were unprocurable.
– Several firms are advertising and selling them.
– I know that there is a firm in Sydney making corsets, but until 1920 the industry was not successful is Australia, though there have always been a few persons making corsets to order. Apparently very few of the locally made corsets have yet come into use. The Minister (Mr. Greene) now asks us to agree to a duty on the American and other foreign corsets of 45 per cent., and on British corsets of 30 per cent. Every lady wishes to buy the style of corset that suits her best, and undoubtedly the American manufacturers, having paid more attention to hygiene than their British rivals, have won a popularity for their goods which insures them a more ready sale. The Senate requests us to make the duty on corsets 25 per cent, on the general Tariff and 15 per cent, against Great Britain. Surely those rates are high enough to enable our manufacturers to keep this market, especially when in addition to them there is the natural protection - perhaps not very large - and the exchange protection, which amounts to a great deal. I hope that the Committee will give effect to the request of the Senate.
.- I shall vote for the Minister’s proposal. Over forty years ago an expert stay maker came here from. London and employed a few hands at corset making, but the industry was not supported. The honorable member for Dampier (Mr: Gregory) has given us the usual Free Trade arguments, but none are so blind as those who will not see. While he has some admirable qualities, he is as blind as a bat with regard to the virtues of Australian manufactures. - The corset which I have here can be bought for £2 2s., and that is not considered dear. I understand that certain material, which comes from AlsaceLorraine, is used for some kinds of corsets, and that, when imported in the piece, it has to pav a duty of 40 per cent
– It is time we had some women in Parliament. If there were women here to speak for their sex, there would not be so much foolishness spoken on their behalf as we now hear. Thirty years ago I moved in this Cham ber to separate women from the criminals and lunatics with whom they were classed in being deprived of the ‘ right to vote. Woman has since obtained some of her rights, but she is not yet the political equal of man. This Parliament is not as civilized as that of Finland, which has twenty-two women in a House of 200 members. On one occasion, when there was some labour trouble, the care of the principal city was intrusted to a committee elected from these twentytwo women. I believe that the Australian woman and girl would prefer the Australian article to an imported one Because of the trickery of trade, boots manufactured in this city are sometimes sold as American or English goods. If this Parliament has not the power, the State Parliament should make it a criminal offence to sell goods under a wrong description. Let us, like the Americans do, glory in our country and have faith in her productions. I am sure that the women will support that view.
.- The honorable member for Werriwa. (Mr. Lazzarini) realizes that he made a mistake when he said that Australianmade . corsets could not be purchased for less than £2 2s. a pair, which is more than the worker’s wife can afford to pay. He has since seen seme samples, which he has examined carefully, that are priced at a much lower figure. I understand that some corsets are made in Australia which can be bought for 5s. a pair. Others of better quality are dearer, going up to £2 2s. a pair. Naturally, those made of the better materials are dearer than others, just as a suit made of good tweed costs more than, one made of moderate quality. I am one of those who would give the Australian manufacturer a chance in respect to this as well as other lines. We have been given evidence this afternoon that the imposition of aduty has reduced the price of certain Commodities considerably. According to the Minister, our manufacturers are now making” hundreds of thousands of pairs of corsets.
– There are three .firms which are manufacturing on a big scale. One of the plants, which is working at full capacity, is, I understand, capable of making 624,000 pairs a year.
Mr.FENTON.- With, the other two firms manufacturing as well, there is no reason why the Australian demand should not be satisfied. People who are judges of corsets ‘tell me that those made here are really first class articles, and are of a hygienic shape. I believe there were times when the articles made here were not of such a character, but more common sense is being used to-day in the manufacture of both men’s and women’s clothing. I support this Australian industry.
.- If the Minister (Mr. Greene) will not make a more reasonable compromise, I must support the suggestion of the Senate. The proposed duty would impose an outrageous and unjustifiable burden on almost every home in Australia. Only a few countries excel in the manufacture of corsets. The trade is very different from what it was five or ten years ago. For hygienic purposes, there is a class of goods manufactured to-day that is enormously costly compared ‘with those of pre-war days and the old style of corsets.
– Are you opposing the duty ?
– You voted for it last time.
– No, I opposed it unsuccessfully. Including even the lowest type of corset manufactured here, there is an insignificant supply of the locally-made article to meet the demands of Australia. We should not put on a duty of 40 per cent, or 50 per cent, when this country will not manufacture the higher class of corset, perhaps, for the next ten years. The duty is simply a revenue-producing one, and the revenue thus raised often comes out of hpmes which can ill-afford to pay it. The Minister has provided for a’ Tariff Board, and for machinery for the investigation of the operations of this Tariff. It is for the purpose of showing whether the people are unduly imposed upon, whether a growing industry is being strangled for want of generous treatment, or whether the protection already afforded is too high. As the Board will soon be in operation, I hope the Minister will be a little more considerate, at all events, to the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom and America are the countries where the best corsets are manufactured.
– You did vote for this duty last time.
– I was not under the impression that I did; but I did let a good many items go through because of the mad, unreasonable attitude of honorable members on the question of Protection. I certainly spoke in favour of making corsets in this country, because I want to see as many goods manufactured here as possible, but there is a limit to the price that the people can pay.
– Like the Minister (Mr. Greene) I was somewhat surprised to hear the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Richard Foster) say that he opposed the duty, because I remember well that he voted for it. The Senate set out deliberately to assist the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) to injure this industry., Honorable members in . another place must have known that the proposed 15 per cent, duty against the United Kingdom might as well have been wiped out altogether. Australia has a population of about 5,000,000, and any other country producing this article to any great extent could flood our market at the end of the season with, at any rate, 500,000 or 1,000,000 pairs. Australia ought to be able to manufacture corsets for itself. We cannot, of course, supply the quantity of manufactured goods required in Australia, and it is simply because we have not given manufacturers the opportunity to produce sufficient. Does any honorable member think that people with money will put hundreds of thousands of pounds into an industry without any hope of getting it protected? I heard the debate on this item in another place. Many honorable senators are like the honorable member for Dampier. They have no use for Australianmade goods. The honorable member is honest enough to admit that he does not care a rap whether an article is manufactured here or not if it has to be bolstered up by a high protective duty; but he must know that it is impossible for any Australian manufacturer to compete in the corset-making industry under a protective duty of 15 per cent. At the end of any season in Great Britain the. British manufacturers could dump corsets into Australia to put half of the workers in the Australian industry out of employment. All articles of apparel are subject to changes of fashion. Manufacturers of goods so affected are only too glad to dump theirsurplus in other countries, where they may be able to place them with advantage, even at prices lower than those charged by them in their own countries. We would do the same in Australia if we were able to manufacture articles in sufficient quantities. For years in the State of Victoria the producers sold their wheat and other farm products at a cheaper rate for export than they charged for’ them locally.
– That is an untruth.
– The honorable member does not know what he is talking about. In 1908 flour was sold for export at 10s. per ton cheaper than the Melbourne price. If we want to build up a corset-making industry we must have higher duties than those requested by the Senate. I am surprised that the Minister (Mr. Greene) should have caved in to the extent of suggesting a rate of only 30 per cent. British.
– The effective rate under the Minister’s proposal will be 45 per cent., because very few corsets come here from Great Britain.
– There are corsetmakers in Great Britain, and they would be only too pleased to send their articles here if it would pay them to do so. The margin proposed by the Minister against them is not- sufficient.
– On what basis is it necessary to have a high duty on corsets ? Why will not a rate of 15 per cent, suffice?
– I would place a duty of- 1,000 per ‘cent, on every article that could be manufactured here. The honorable member would not propose any duty. That is the difference between us. We are as far apart in our views on this subject as are the poles, but I am representing a section of the Australian people, whereas one would think the honorable member was representing foreigners. I hope that the Minister will not be so weakkneed in regard to other requests.
– The figures given by the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) should make the Committee pause. He has told us that corsets were purchased before the war at £5 5s. per dozen.
– They were sold as low: as £3 3s. per dozen.
– Australian manufacturers are turning out one style of corsets at £3 per dozen.
– Let us take 9s. or 10s. as the price at which a good corset could be purchased at the time of which I am speaking. The articles exhibited to the Committee were quoted at 42s., and the honorable members for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) and Wakefield (Mr. Richard Foster), who are experts, assured us that they were by no means high class. An expenditure of 42s. represents a very considerable portion of the weekly wage of a large number of workers in Australia. The prices before the war were 5s.11d., 9s. 6d., and 12s. 6d. I can quite understand the advocacy of high duties in the case of big industries, although I cannot agree with it, but in the case of an article of common use high duties are indefensible. If the price of such articles is made very much higher, the penalty upon the people of Australia becomes very great. Such articles as corsets are in almost universal use from one end of the country to the other. The Minister (Mr. Greene) ought to have stated how many corsets- were imported into Australia, and how many were made in this country. Numbers of small industries are being coddled in the big cities of Sydney and Melbourne, and it would pay the people of Australia to give every employee in many of’ them £5 per week to engage in some other business. The Committee has not been shown to what extent the Australian trade is being supplied by the Australian manufacturer. If , as I am informed, only an infinitesimal portion of the local requirements is manufactured in Australia, the people are being compelled to pay an enhanced price, not only on the small number made here, but also on the total number used. The Tariff is a monstrosity from start to finish. In some partsof
Maranoa during the recent by-election the Tariff now before the Committee had more to do with the outcome of the contest than anything else. I am speaking particularly of those parts of the electorate that I visited. Is it worth while to foster an industry that is turning out only an infinitesimal portion of the number of corsets required ; and is it fair to place on the whole of the people of Australia the burden of increased prices for every pair of corsets that they buy? Rich people do not care what they have to pay. The working people are the real sufferers. It is not a fair deal. I hope the Senate’s requested amendment will be agreed to.
.- The honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) said he thought it would be an advantage if we had women membars of this House. I think that, for the consideration of many subjects, it might be advantageous were women privileged to help in the government of the country. They would enlighten certain honorable members. I would refer the honorable member for Melbourne to the counsel of Mrs. Booth, head of the Women’s National Council. The matter that we have before us is very serious. If Australian manufacturers could make corsets, or any other requirements of Australia, of a proper quality, and in sufficient quantity, it would be infinitely more reasonable to prohibit the importation of them entirely. What I object to is giving a fabulous 55 per cent, protection, such as was given to the corset industry. It only tends to aggravate the iniquitous system of centralization that has grown up in Australia. All our leading newspapers are lamenting the position that we now find ourselves in in this regard. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports is supporting that little centralization section like a jumper in the “ cheese” that he represents, while he thinks that he represents the whole of Australia. He is the representative only of centralization. If we think that we can advance Australia by taking in each other’s washing, we are on the wrong track. A few women in this hall of government would be a distinct advantage. It seems that if certain honorable members can quote that in some hole or corner in Australia a thing can be manufactured, they think they have a good case for Protection. The sympathetic Minister, the capitalists, and the Labour representatives, cheek by jowl, will support him. Occasionally one of them will slip, like the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini), on corsets; and still more occasionally, like the honorable member, for Hunter (Mr. Charlton), on mining explosives. They bring up the arguments that we, on this side, consistently put forward, and they disclose where the shoe pinches. If the honorable members representing the cities think they can further aggregate the people in the cities, and, by force of numbers, exploit the other sections, they must be taught that there is a limit to that kind of thing. Otherwise Australia will be bled white. I have no objection to things being manufactured in Australia any more than 1 object to produce being grown in Australia. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports alleged that produce grown here had been sold in other parts of the world cheaper than in Australia. He may be able to cite certain instances where, possibly, contracts were made at prices which subsequently were below the local prices. The primary producers are favorable to maintaining contracts. The honorable member referred to the price of bread, but that was in the case of a contract. If contracts of any kind are undertaken in connexion with the Tariff they should, of course, be honoured. I do not desire to see foreign-made goods and products supplant Australian manufactures under reasonable competition, but T object to the erection of a high Tariff wall. The tendency to-day is not to give the public the advantage of inordinate protection; it is divided between the manufacturer and the few people who assist him in his factory, and, together, they exploit the people. I repeat that the Tariff should not be expected to do more than afford reasonable protection.
.- I had expected that when this Committee came to consider the requests of another place there would be little need either to go over the old ground or to advance fresh argument, since the Government would naturally adhere to their original intentions except in cases where errors or omissions had to be rectified.
In connexion with the duty upon corsets, consideration was given to the item in another place during an all-night sitting, and it is very evident that justice was not done to the subject. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Prowse) appears to be possessed of animosity against the dwellers in the big manufacturing cities - in fact, against almost all the people of Australia except those who livein his own electorate. Most of our city residents live in the crowded areas because they have no option but to do so. Owners of land are so greedy and selfish that they will not permit others to get away from the congested areas in order to make a living in the wide spaces and the open air. With respect to the sample corsets which have been displayed in this Chamber, it seems to me that all the artistic work put into them is mere waste, and is intended solely to add to their cost. But Australian makers can produce good utility corsets which can compare and compete with the productions of any country. One would think when listening to the opinions of some honorable members that the item dealing with corsets manufactured in Australia represented something new. I point out that corsets were dealt with in the Tariff schedule of 1908 and of 1914, and that the duties to-day are lower than those imposed previously. Yet the rent of premises used for the manufacture of corsets was much lower in 1908 than to-day, and wages were much lower. On the whole, the corset manufacturing industry is a credit to Australia, and should be reasonably encouraged. Every enlightened community realizes that it is essential to create and encourage secondary industries. I cannot appreciate the seriousness of the requested amendment. I cannot think that honorable senators were in earnest when they framed their request. They failed to do themselves justice. I understand that before a vote was taken upon this item in the Senate there were not enough members of the Committee to carry on the business, and that others had to be awakened from their sleep to provide a quorum. Honorable senators were absolutely demented under the pressure of an all-night sitting. They were not wide awake when the vote was taken and did not know what they were doing.
Question - That the requested amendment be made with modification - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 17
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Requested amendment, as modified, made.
Bill returned from the Senate without request.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Motion (by Sir Joseph . Cook) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I do not know the name of the architect who is responsible for the removal of the lavatory from its convenient position opposite the latrines in the main corridor to another part of this building, but I think the change is undesirable. I find that in nine cases out of ten, honorable members who, after . visiting ..the latrines, used to resort to the lavatory to wash their hands, now fail to do so. In these days, when, so much, attention is paid to the health of the individual, I think that the lavatory should be in the most convenient position, and that, failing a return to the old order of things, a washbasin should be provided in the latrine.
-(Hon. Sir Elliot Johnson). - Owing to the shortage of accommodation in this building, it was found necessary to rent, at very considerable cost, outside offices for the use of one of the Parliamentary Committees. When the new rooms were being added to the north wing of this building, it was thought wise to remove the lavatory in . the main corridor to what was considered to be an equally convenient, though less conspicuous position. That change released a large room in- the most prominent part of the building, which can now be made available for one of the Committees, so that a considerable saving in the annual
Tentals now being paid for outside premises can bc effected. With regard to the other suggestion made by the. honorable member, I shall be glad to submit it to the State architect for his consideration. I think it would be very convenient if what the honorable member has suggested could be done.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.30 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 13 October 1921, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1921/19211013_reps_8_97/>.