8th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir Elliot Johnson) took the chair At 3 p.m., and read prayers,
– I have just found in my letter-box an intimation that a lecture on Anglo-American relationships is to he delivered to-night in ‘the Senate club-room, by a Washington professor. I do not wish to throw any reflections on the gentleman who is to lecture, but I suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, and, through you, to the House, that at this juncture to allow an unauthorized and irresponsible person to deliver a lecture within the precincts of the House on such a difficult and dangerous subject is open to very grave objection. I call your attention also ‘to the fact that the parliamentary building is being used frequently for advertising purposes, and that members have sometimes sat listening to lectures the substance of which could easily have been obtained from any elementary textbook. It is derogatory to the dignity of Parliament to have lecturers coming here to inform us on matters about which we should be fairly well (‘acquainted, and there are methods by which these gentlemen could obtain the publicity that they wish other than by the use of parliamentary accommodation.
– The honorable* member’s- complaint concerns the President of the Sen- ate rather than me, because the Senate club-room, together with all other accommodation reserved for senators, is wholly under his control; but I shall bring the observations just made under his notice. As to the using of the parliamentary building for advertising, I myself have had occasion to take exception to it more than once, and have refused permission, when appeals have been made to me, for the holding of exhibitions which I have considered would have purely a commercial advertising purpose. There have been occasions when, with the permission of Mr. President and myself, the Queen’s Hall has been used for exhibitions which it was considered would be of an Intellectual and informative character, and of interest to members generally. In this connexion I might say that something of the kind is contemplated next week, in the nature of a musical programme associated with “ music week “ under the direction of a University Professor, to which, I think, no real objection can be taken. Members might obtain from the entertainment some relief from the tension and nervous irritation sometimes created by political discussion ; but if serious objection is offered to what is proposed, I shall confer with the President of the Senate with a view to preventing the use of the Quean’s Hall for similar purposes in future.
The following papers were presented : -
Taxation. - First report of the Royal Commission on Taxation; together with Appendices.
Ordered to be printed.
Arbitration (Public Service) Act. - Determiminstion by the Arbitrator, &c. - No. 10 of 1921 - In the matter of the Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.
New Guinea Act. - Ordinances of 1921 -
No. 19- Natives Taxes.
No. 20- Customs.
Public Service Act. - Regulations Amended -Statutory Rules 1921, No. 198.
– Will the Minister for Trade andCustoms lay on the table of the Library all papers, including the departmental reports, dealing with the duties on perfumery?
Mr.GREENE. - Certainly.
– Last week I asked the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) if he had noticed that a prominent member of the Nationalist party had advocated the use of indentured labour for the development of Central Australia, and whether, as leader of the party, he did so. The right honorable gentleman emphatically denied that he advocated any such thing, and I have since received the following telegram from the member to whom I referred -
Do not blame yon asking question, but I did not advocate indentured labour, let alone black labour. On contrary, I stated that like every other member I was for White Australian policy. Naturally I did not mention what Government was or was not in favour of. Newspapers reported exactly what I did not
I did not at the time mention any name, but I feel bound to make this statement to prevent injustice being done to Senator Guthrie.
– In view of the drastic criticism which has lately appeared in the press regarding the Victorian home for returned soldiers who are consumptive, will the Prime Minister allow a motion for the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into the subject to go as formal ?
– Before permitting a motion to go as formal, I should like to see it, and I should like to hear the matter argued.
– When can the House expect a statement of the policy of the Government concerning shipbuilding?
– I have frequently reminded honorable members that questions about policy are not in order.
– Has the Prime Minister seen in the newspapers cabled information regardingcertain preposterous statements appearing in the London Times-
– On a point of order, is the honorable member in order in referring to newspaper reports when asking a question?
– If the honorable member were to ask his question without reference to any newspaper report, he would be in order, but a question founded upon newspaper paragraphs and reports can be asked only if the honorable member asking the question makes himself personally responsible for the accuracy of the statement he is quoting.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that certain preposterous statements have been made in a certain London newspaper regarding the condition of parts of Australia, particularly the northwest and Queensland?
– I have already reminded honorable members that questions founded upon newspaper statements are not in order, but I intimated to the honorable member that if he asked his question without reference to any newspaper, I would not know whether or not it was founded upon a newspaper report..
– Will the Prime Minister take steps to have sent to the High Commissioner’s office in London all available information regarding those parts of Australia that are still awaiting occupation and development in order that the people of Great Britain may be advised authoritatively as to the actual condition of those territories?
– I saw a cabled statement in this morning’s newspaper, and it did not surprise me at all. It is in keeping with those reports that are made from time to time, and which emanate from this country, regarding what are alleged to be the conditions obtaining in parts of Australia. They are infamous lies, and those who make them know them to be lies when they make them. As to the statement that the north of Queensland is not suitable for white settlement, all I can say is that some of the finest soldiers and specimens of manhood sent from Australia came from those areas which the writer in the London Times says are not suitable for white settlement. In regard to the western, north-western, and northern portions of Australia, thepeople who write of them have no knowledge whatever of them; or, if they have, their infamy is still more obvious and contemptible. I do not pretend to have that knowledge of the nonth-west or Northern Territory that some people have, but one part of Australia which has been called a desert I have recently passed over; and I say, advisedly, that it is very much better than a great deal of the country in South Africa about which people say little or nothing. The north-western part of Australia is well watered and has a good climate, and will in the fulness of time carry a very large population. I hope this refutation will be published in London.
– Has the Minister for Home and Territories any information to convey to the House regarding the elections held at Port Darwin under the new Ordinance ?
– I have not been officially advised of any results yet.
– I know that it is utterly improper to base any question upon reports published in the newspapers, and therefore I shall not do so; but I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs whether he is aware that the steam-ship Themistocles recently arrived in Sydney Hanbor flying at its mainmast the red flag; if so, will he take steps to, suppress such disloyal conduct on the part of the captain of any ship visiting this country?
– I was not aware of what the honorable member alleges.
Mr.RILEY (for Mr. West) asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Is it a fact that awards of the Federal Shipping Tribunal have not been given effect to?
When the matter was before the Shipping Tribunal, did the Government representative give his assurance that the management would pay 8s. 6d. over award rates from the date other employers paid to waterside workers the rates under award No. 352 of 1920?
Did outside employers pay the amount of 8s. 6d. from 5th November, 1920?
Will the Prime Minister take such steps as will honour the promise made by the Shipping Tribunal; or, if he will not do so, will he give the reasons for refusing to do so?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : - ‘-
-On the 27th October, the honorable . member . for . Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) made inquiry regarding, the question ofunemployment in the several States. I have looked . into the matter, and find that the State Premiers were communicated with, but.the information received was incomplete.’ ..The subject will,, however, ‘ be considered at. the Premiers’ . Conference now being held.
Officers of Mail Branch, Adelaide - telegraph messengers.
– On 28th October ‘ the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Blundell)asked thefollowing questions : -
I promised that the information would be obtained. The following are the replies to the honorable member’s questions : - 1. (a) 76 sorters. (b) 41 permanentassistants, and (‘c) 18 temporary assistants now employed in Mail Branch, as compared with (a) 84, (b) 22, and (c) 5 in 1912. ;
On 28th October the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Mathews) asked the following questions: -
I promised that the information would be obtained, and the Acting Public Service Commissioner has furnished the following, information : -
The policy is to promote telegraph messengers to higher positionswhen they reach an age at whichtheir continuance as telegraph messengers is not desirable.
In Committee’ (Consideration of Senate’s requestsresumedfrom 27th” October, vide page 12249) :
Saddlers’ webs; upholsterers’, webs; collar check and collar cloth36 inches and over in width; saddlers’ kersey; saddlers’ serge and felt; felt for . lining horse andcattle rugs, ad val., British, free; intermediate, free; general, 10 per cent.
Senate’s Request. - Amend item by addingAndon and after 1st November, 1921-
Upon which Mr. Greene had moved -
That the requested . amendment, be made, but modified as follows. - By omitting the words “ 1st November; 1921’,” and ‘ inserting in lieu thereof the words ‘‘1st January, 1922,” by adding- after “ felt “ in sub-item, (a) the words. “ and’ felt,” and by leaving out of sub-item (b) the words British) ‘3d per cent.; intermediate, 40 per cent. ; general, 45 per cent. ; “ and inserting, in lieu thereof the words “British, 25 per cent. ; intermediate, 30 per cent. ; general, 40 per cent.”
Mri GREENE .(Richmond- Minister for Trade and Customs) [3.14] . - I asked that any honorable members who were in doubt about these duties should have a look at the factory which is being erected: I have made my investigations, and’ am satisfied. I1 remind the’ Committee that this is a deferred duty, and will come into operation only on our being satisfied that the factory is in operation. Th duty will not Operate until on and after the 1st January next.
Question - That the requested amendment be made,, with the proposed modification - put. The Committee: divided.
Ayes….. .. 33
Noes .-. .. . ‘ .. 13
Majority . . . . 20
Question, so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to. ,
Iron mid steel;. . . and on and after 9th July, 1921, (e) (1) Wire of No. 16 or finer, gauge, ad val., British, 2.5 .percent.; intermediate, 30 per cent. ; general, 35 -per cent. (2) Wire, other, per ‘ton, British, .52s.; intermediate. 72s. 6d.; general, 90s’.’
Senate’s Request. - (1) British, 20 per cent.; (2), British, 44s, ,.
:– I propose . to agree ; to the Senate’s request to make the duty on wire of No. 16- or finer gauge, British, 20’ per cent., instead-‘ of 25 per cent.,, because these wires go up to fairly high .values, and the rate suggested by the Senate should be sufficient protection against the United Kingdom for the persons here who are engaged in drawing wire. However, I cannot agree to the Senate’s proposal to reduce the duty upon other wire from British, 52s. per ton, to British, 44s. per ton, because a duty of British, 44’s. per ton, has already been agreed’ to ‘ upon the rods from which this wire is drawn. If the duty upon wire were to be the same as that upon the rods from which it is drawn, people will import wire instead of rods. For these reasons I move -
That the requested amendment be made, with the following modifications: - .Omit subitem (e) (thrice occurring), and insert the following: - i
Wire - on and after 25th March, 1920, per ton, British, 52s.; intermediate, 72s. 6d.; general, 90s. c
And on and after 9th June, 1921, (e) (1), wire of No. 16 or finer gauge, ad val., British, 25 -per cent.; intermediate, 30 per cent.; general, 35- per cent. (2) Wire, other, per ton, British, 52s.; intermediate, 72s. 6d. ; general,. 90s.
And on and after 3rd. November, 1921, (e) (l); wire of No. 16 or finer gauge, ad val., British, 20 ,per cent.; intermediate, 30 per cent.; general, 35 per cent. (2) Wire, other,, per ton, British, 52s. ; intermediate, 72s. 6d. ; general,, 90s.
We have’ arranged- these dates to try to carry out a promise which I made to the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) when , the Committee was discussing the duties on this wire of finer gauge, and we were trying to adjust matters in such a way that the high ad valorem duty would not apply to fencing wire.
– So that the Minister supports Free Trade so far as fencing wire- is concerned, although it is being drawn here at the rate of a mile and a half per minute. 1 ‘
– Not at all. We are, only asking for a lower, rate of duty on fencing wire because1 it is not of anything like the same value as the higher grades of. fine wire. - When the- Tariff was originally before us, and we were making cer- . tain adjustments of this item; . one, or two shipments were, caught by the - high ad valorem duty on’ fencing wire.’ That was1 not the intention of the Committee. ‘I have, therefore, arranged the dates in such a way that it will not be compulsory for us’ to collect the duty at the higher rate on those shipments of fencing wire which came ‘ in during the period’ ‘of adjustment in’ this Committee.
– Suppose the importers have already passed it on 1 We may be sure that they have.
– I do not think they have. The whole matter has been hung up. I am endeavouring now to redeem the promise that I made, and I ask the Committee to accept the Senate’s request with the modifications set out in the motion.
.- I do not know who is advising the Minister (Mr. Greene) on the items relating to iron and steel, but it seems to me that he is treating very badly those who stood by the Government in relation to other items in the Tariff. The iron and steel industry is the key industry of Australia. When the items relating to iron and steel were originally before the Committee, statements were made by responsible Ministers to the effect that those engaged in the industry had not approached the Government, and did not require the duties that I was urging should be imposed. On the House resuming, in September last, after a short vacation, I made a personal explanation, in which I showed that the people engaged in the industry had not only approached the Government in support of higher duties, out had done so as far back as 4th June, 1919. and, by request, had supplied the Department of Trade and Customs with particulars as to their requirements as late as May last. The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) would have supported the duties which I was urging the Committee to accept but that he was led to believe that the people engaged in the industry had not asked for them. He. said -
And I have not heard that the proprietors of the Newcastle works have asked for additional protection. If they had done so and made out a case, as they might have done through the Minister, or the press, or by circularizing honorable members, there might have been some excuse for giving their industry additional protection.
The Leader of the Country party (Dr. Earle Page) also said -
It is remarkable that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, who are producing the bulk of the steel, are not asking for this protection. . . They have not asked for it, unless it be within the last few days.
In fairness to those who supported the increases for which I moved, I think it should be known that those engaged in the industry here had actually asked for the increase, and had supplied the De partment from time to time with information as to the duties that were necessary to keep the iron and steel industry of Australia going. It is not fair that responsible Ministers should make misleading statements. One of the firms engaged in drawing wire - I refer tothe Messrs. Rylands-carry on operations in my electorate, where they have established big works. They came ‘here from Britain practically at the request of the Government. There was a general invitation to manufacturers abroad to establish their industries here.
– That is the object of the Tariff.
– That is so.
– The honorable member is too ready to impose duties at other people’s expense.
– The farmers of Australia, were lucky during the war in being able to obtain supplies of locally drawn wire.
– Even now they cannot buy it.
– Let the honorable member give me an order, and I will see that it is executed.
– But at what price ?
– At a price below that which the farmers would have to pay but for the establishment of the industry here. The local industry enabled the farmers to get supplies of fencing wire during the war at prices much below those which they would otherwise have had to pay.
– That statement is made in the circulars of the local manufacturers, but it is hot correct.
– Some honorable members of the Country party were glad enough to make use of these local industries during the war, but they would now wipe them out. When this item’ was originally before the Committee amendments were made in the gauges of wire set out in it, and the effect was to rob the local industry of a considerable amount of protection. The Senate has made a request that the protection granted in respect of one particular size or gauge of wire shall be wholly wiped out, thus leaving the industry at the mercy of the most glaring dumping that I think we shall ever be able to find. People are going about asking for contracts for next year, and are prepared then to sell cheaper than at the prevail- ing Australian rate. The following is a statement from Rylands Brothers (Australia) Limited: -
We started manufacturing wire in Australia in 1911. Finding ourselves unable to compete with continental wire under Australian conditions, ‘we were compelled to discontinue, but again started in 1915. We then made arrangements to obtain the raw material from the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, and now have large works in Newcastle, New South Wales, capable of supplying the total requirements of Australia and New Zealand, and, in addition, hope to secure a good share of the trade of the Pacific and in the East generally, as also South Africa. Our mill at present covers an area of 3 acres, and further large additional buildings are being erected in conjunction with Messrs. Rylands Brothers Limited, of Warrington, England, in which wire netting and all classes of fine wires will be manufactured. We usually employ 750 men, many of whom earn very high wages as wiredrawers; and with the present additions completed, in three months’ time we shall employ 1,400 men should the business be available.
– Why not give a bounty which the whole community would pay?
– That is a matter that we cannot go into at present -
When we first put our wire on the market imported wire was £56 per ton. Our price was £30 per ton, and the selling price had to be reduced by the merchants to the farmers and others in order to compete with us.
– What gauge of wire was that?
– The firm is drawing pretty well all gauges at thepresent time -
Since then our policy has been to supply the primary producers at the lowest price possible, showing a reasonable working returnon capital. The following comparison of prices confirms our statement), the English prices being taken from the monthly price list of the leading exporting London house - Messrs. Chapman, Sons, and Deekes, New Oxford-street, London : -
To those English prices has to be added freight and insurance.
It will be seen that throughout the war we have ‘supplied the Australian market with fencing wire at practically one-half the price the British manufacturers charged. The price in the United States and in Canada was practically the same as in England. We adopted the policy of fixing the price merchants had to sell our wire at, and the result of this is that Australian farmers have been able to buy their fencing wire at less than half the price the farmers in any other country have had to pay. Our prices (as above) are the best proof of our attitude toward the settler and farmer in giving him a fair deal.
Owing to the low prices being quoted for Belgian wire, large quantities of which are now coming into Australia, we had to reduce the price of our wire to £20 per ton, which is below actual cost of production, and at which we are ‘ making a material loss. As so much imported wire is in the market we have been compelled to close our works to one-third its capacity, and two-thirds of our men and two-thirds of our plant is now lying idle.
That is what the farmers desire - to see Australian key industries dispensing with two-thirds of their employees. That is what is happening in my electorate today, and I am half afraid that, in the case: of the smaller rolling mills, something serious may also occur; -
We have already over £500,000 capital involved. Trusting you will see your way to give us the lowest amount of duty this new industry can do on, viz. - British, 52s.; intermediate, 72s. 6d. ; general, 90s. per ton. And on wire 12-gauge and finer, British, 30 per cent. ; intermediate, 35 per cent. ; general, 40 per cent. ad val. And wire netting at - British 68s. ; intermediate, 85s. ; general, 105s. per ton, and so save what should be one of the most important industries in Australia from being crushed out of existence.
The farmers’ representatives here talk of the high rate of these particular duties, and, in reply, I should now like to show what has been done in other countries, where there are farmers and wheatgrowers, and where it has been determined to establish the wire industry, with duties which make ours, by comparison, look like revenue duties. Between 1881 and 1910 the minimum French duty on wire rods varied from 48s. 9d. to 40s. 9d., and the maximum from 101s. 6d. to 142s. 2d., whereas the United States duties between 1874 and 1896 averaged 112s. 4d. Yet the Minister (Mr. Greene) proposes that we shall . endeavour to establish our wire-netting industry with a duty of 20 per cent. Coming to the drawn wire, whereas we have a duty of 52s. against Great Britain, the French, between 1881 and 1910, had a minimum duty of 81s. 3d. on iron wire, and 162s. 6d. on steel wire; their maximum duty averaging 304s. 2d. In. the United States of America, where it must be admitted there are not a few wheat-growers, the average duty on wire between 1874 and 1896 was 140s. per ton. If the amendments requested by the Senate are made, those interested in the manufacture of wire in Australia will have to seriously consider whether they should not close their works. Whereas all gauges of wire are dutiable at higher rates elsewhere, we charge a low duty for wire of 16 gauge and finer wire.
– Why should one section of the community carry the industry ?
– Are the farmers the only persons who use wire or nails? The duty on the fine gauges’ of wire is only 25 per cent.
– Which the Senate asks to have reduced to 20 per cent.
– Yes. This Chamber fixed the duty on wire at 52s., although, as I have mentioned, the average duty in the United States of America, over a long period was 140s.; yet the Senate seems to regard our proposal as equivalent to a prohibition against importation.
– It must not be forgotten that there is a freight of £3 10s: per. ton.
-The honorable member talks about freight as if he understood the subject. What is the freight from Newcastle to Western Australia compared with the freight from Great Britain to that State ?
– The way. regulations are being made in this country, it will soon become impossible to send goods from one side of Australia to the other.
– Then alter the regulations. It must not be forgotten that we have a big coastline.
– Is it desired to destroy Western Australian interests?
– No. What is there to prevent the people of Western . Australia from having wire-drawing establishments of their own?
– There is not the. market.
-There newer will be the market until industries are established which will attract people to the country, and find employment for them.
– How much per ton does a duty of 20 per cent. on 16-gauge wire come to ?
– It all depends on the value of the wire, the duty being ad valorem. I am disappointed that the Minister proposes to give way to those who have attempted from the beginning to destroy this Tariff.
-Do you refer to the Senate?
– Well, the Senateis not a democratic body, because each State returns six members to it, ‘irrespective of population. We agreed to enormous duties for the protection of the farming- industry.
– What were they?
– We imposed a duty of £6 per ton on onions..
– Yes. Then there is the banana duty and there are others. My opponents are good, solid Protectionists when it comes to protecting the farmer; but they wish to throw open to dumping competition key industries which employ thousands of persons. At the present’ time supposedly Belgian steel, which, I honestly believe to “be German steel, is being brought to Australia. I should like the Minister to withdraw his motion, and to move that the amendments requested by the Senate be not made. What he now proposes will mean the strangling of our industries, because of the fierce competition to which it will subject them. When the Tariff. ‘ was originally under discussion in this Chamber, the Acting Prime Minister (Sir Joseph Cook) promised that, . if it could be shown that these industries would suffer for want of’ increases, the whole schedule would be re-cast. He made that promise to. get, the Tariff through. A majority of members was then in favourof certain increases, and the promise was made to defeat an amendment to provide for such increases: Having succeeded in that instance, the Government new propose ‘to- make the amendments requested by the Senate, so that they may get rid of the Tariff quickly. I am in favour . of giving the fullest preference ‘ possible to Great Britain, butI say that there should, be a closer scrutiny of importations, because there are British traders who are no better than, the traders of other nations. They send here goods which are partly their own . manufacture, but also in part the manufacture of Germany or other ‘countries, and such goods get the benefit of British preference.
-Surely you do not say that of the crowd who fly the ‘ Union Jack?
-They fly the Union Jack when it suits’ them, . but when something definite is proposedfor the development of key industries in this country, they do not care where they get their goods, so long as they can get them more cheaply than those made in thiscountry.
– That was your doctrine on explosives. ‘ ;
– If you can show me that they are’ going to make explosives properly in this country, as theMinister triedto get them to do, and hot have a little, make-believe industry, , ‘so ..that men’s lives will not be endangered by the use of the locally -made explosives,, I shall vote for the highest protection for the explosive industry. I again ask the Minister to stand by the duties agreed to in this Chamber,, “ ,;
.-The honorable member for ,Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) spoke of the difficulty that Messrs. Rylands Brothers had in making what for ‘Australia . is a necessary commodity’, because of the great cost involved. This cost must be passed on to one section of the community - the primary producers. I should like’ to know why the proposed duties on wire arenecessary, seeing that the local manufacturers of it are protected against importations by the high freight charges, and seeing, too, that they get cheap coal. The prices that were quoted by the honorable member were entirelymisleading. When we were dealing with a previous item interested influence was suggested, and we were told that we could not take much notice of either side. But as one who purchases ‘this black wire, I know positively that the information quoted by the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) is wrong. I was accustomed in pre-war times to purchase No. 8 ‘black wire for between £10 and £12 per . ton.
-And . it was. all , of German . origin.
– And I could purchase good No. 10 galvanized . wire at from £18. to £21 per ton. That is the fencing wire mostly used in Australia. The trouble with the local industry is that it commenced under war conditions, and those defending it desire to retain those conditions, whereas the general tendency inall industries, is to return to pre-war conditions. The primary producer has to submit to pre-war prices for his product, but those who . supply him with . the material used in his industry ask that . he should be compelled to continue to pay war-time prices. The. prices, of these commodities , have fallen in . other countries, but by means of,, a high , Tariff the prices in , Australia are maintained, and . become a burden upon the primary producer, who is obliged to accept forhisoutput a price inkeeping withthe . markets of the world. We : are told of thedifficulties of ‘ manufacturing in . Australia. The same difficulties arise ‘in all ‘forms1 of production in Australia, whether primary or secondary. The -‘ honorable -member for Newcastle, who isin favour of high duties, supported the following doctrine when the ‘Committee was dealing with explosives -
You, will, therefore, see that if the, Tariff becomes operative as set out, the prices of explosives imported will immediately increase; and asthe miner has to purchase his- explosives, it will immediately affect him,
– Does the honorable member allege that I made that statement ?
– That is thecontention which . the honorable member supported. Will this Committee pass legislation that will strangle primary . production ? , I, . like hundreds of others, had intended to enclose the whole of my holding with a . rabbitproof fence, and that would have absorbed- about 40 miles . of. fencing, but . that project has, had to be abandoned because the prices of material are exorbitant in comparison with the return we get. Therefore, we have to adopt the antiquated method of the poison cart to battle against what is almost a tidal wave of rabbits. I do not know how honorable members can claim to be good Australians, when they are prepared to kill . industries which are truly Australian, and . expect one section of the community to bear the unnatural burden, they are . creating by means of a Tariff.
– Does the honorable member say that the iron and steel industry is not truly Australian?
– If it is a truly Australian industry, it should be able to supply me with its products as cheaply as the imported product can be sold here. The primary producer in other countries is buying his requirements more cheaply than is the Australian producer, who is thus seriously handicapped in the markets of the world. I have no objection to prohibiting the importation of any article that Australia can make properly, and at a reasonable price. The Committee seems very ready to come to the help of the secondary producer, and no doubt it is nice to extend gracious patronage at the expense of the other fellow. The census returns indicate the ruination that is being caused in Australia by the building up of the cities at the expense of the country, and that evil will be accentuated by a high Tariff which places the whole burden upon one section of the community. If it is desired that this wire-making industry shall be fostered in Australia, let the burden be borne by all, and not by only one section which is already bowed to the ground.
– We have become so accustomed to the extraordinary fiscal doctrines of the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Prowse) that we need not be surprised at the exaggerations and inaccuracies in many of the statements he has made. lue has referred to wire making as “ a bit of an industry,” although its promoters have, in pursuance of an invitation from the Government and the policy of the Commonwealth, expended upwards of £500,000 in the establishment of their business in Australia. .
– I was speaking comparatively, as the honorable member knows.
– The honorable member asked us to believe that this industry is, in its operations, imposing a burden upon the farmers. That contention may be urged only if one completely ignores the facts, but statements have been placed before the honorable member which I challenge him to dispute
– I have already challenged them.
– The honorable member has challenged one item and ignored the broad general fact that the farmer, who is said to have borne a burden through the encouragement of the local industry, has in reality had the advantage of being able to buy his material at a lower price than he would have had to pay had he had to rely on the imported commodity.
– The honorable member for Swan has blown out that argument long ago.
-*-The honorable member fbr Swan has blown himself- out. As the facts of the case are not particularly acceptable to the honorable member, I shall place some of them before the Committee, and leave him to refute them if he can. The Tariff came into operation on 25th March, 1920, and in April following the local price of No. 8 gauge black burnished fencing wire was £24 10s., and the price of the English article was £42.
– I dispute that figure.
– These prices are taken from the quotations of Messrs. Chapman, Sons and Deaks, of New Oxfordstreet, London. In January, 1921, the price of the local wire was £24 10s., and of the imported wire £33.
– What was the price in 1913?
– I have not the figures for that year.
– The honorable member is simply quoting the figures which the manufacturer gave him.
– That is a very unworthy statement. I have said that the English quotations are from the price list of Messrs. Chapman, Sons and Deaks and I can give the quotation for every month since December, 1919, until April last.
– Why does not the honorable member go back a year or two for his figures? The prices he is giving are wickedly misleading.
– It is quite competent for the honorable member to quote the prices for earlier years, but surely we should try to be up to date with our information, and the only question for honorable members to decide is whether or not the figures I am supplying are true.
– They are not.
– Let the honorable member refute them if he can. In January, 1921, the price of the local wire was £24 10s., and of the English wire £33; in February, 1921, the local price was £24, and the British price was £27 10s.; and in April the prices were £22 and £22 10s. respectively.
– As against £8 before the war.
– That may be. I am quoting . up-to-date British prices.
– During the war British firms were not manufacturing wire; they were otherwise engaged.
– The industry which has been established within the Commonwealth has undertaken to supply the whole of the requirements of Australia and New Zealand if it is given an opportunity to do so. This is a key industry which it is our duty to encourage. In fact, this Parliament hasendeavoured to foster the whole of the iron and steel industry, and Rylands, a British firm of great reputation, and with vast business connexions, have, in response to the invitation given by the Tariff, established themselves in Australia, and proved their bona fides by expending over £500,000 on a plant to supply local requirements. They tell us that they can supply the whole of the wire required in Australia. Honorable members will say at once that people protected in this way could fix their own prices, and of course it is of the greatest importance that we should provide against such a contingency; but provision is made in the Tariff Bill to enable the Tariff Board to exercise supervision and control over such an industry. The fact that the drawers of wire will be obliged to operate according to Australian conditions, and under control by the Tariff Board, will be sufficient guarantee that the Australian consumer will be fairly treated. However, I thinkthe Minister (Mr. Greene) has made a great mistake in proposing to agree to the Senate’s request that the duty be reduced to British, 20 per cent. I think he ought to adhere to the rate of 25 per cent. It is not competent for the Committee to accede to the request of the manufacturers and make the duty 30 per cent., which they declare is absolutely essential ; ‘but it is certainly a cruel blow to the industry for us togo back even on the 25 per cent. which this Committee agreed upon when the Tariff was last under consideration.
– Is not the Senate’s request a very reasonable one?
– It is not reasonable.
– Surely 20 per cent. will be a sufficiently heavy burden on the farming industry?
– A rate of 25 per cent. would be reasonable. It would certainly be lower than what the people engaged in the industry declare is essential for them.
– Instead of an ad valorem rate, would not the honorable member prefer a fixed rate of duty, as in the American and French Tariffs?
– I would agree to a fixed rate of duty, so long as I approved of the amount of it.
– No one understands what the ad valorem rate will really mean.
– That is certainly the difficulty.
– It is a difficult matter to have a fixed rate of duty on some of the very fine wires.
– But those wires are not drawn in Australia.
– Yes, they are.
– I join with the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) in urging the Minister to reject the Senate’s request and adhere to the rates of duty as agreed to in this Committee before the schedule went to the Senate. The industry affected is entitled to every encouragement from us.
.- I add my plea to that which has been put forward by the honorable members for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) and Kooyong (Sir Robert Best), that the Minister will see fit to retract the action he has taken. The weight of argument being heavily against acceding to the Senate’s request, the Minister should be quite willing to leave the rates of duty upon wire as the Committee fixed them on a previous occasion.
– The Senate has merely asked for a reduction of 5 per cent. on the ad valorem rate against British manufacturers.
– I admit that, and I agree with the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) that we ought to be prepared to trade within the Em; pire wherever practicable, but I always put Australia first. Some honorable members seem to have very short memories. Ifthisschedulehadbeen discussed during the war there would have been no hesitation, not only in passingi the present, proposal, but also in increasing the duty.. Honorable members during the war realized the lengths . to which the people of Australia were driven when . sup; plies from outside were cut off. . . .
– Yes; there was an increase of 300 or 400’ per cent, in the price ‘ of those commodities) and the ‘ result was that’ no one could afEord to1 buy them.
– Why were Australians not in a position to buy Simply because prior to the war they had not. made. any provision. to establish local industries capable of. i supplying, Australia’s, requirements^ This country presented a most pitiable spectacle during the . ‘war, . having an abundance of raw material which’ it couldnotturnintothefinished article.
– The honorable member’s example is a most unfortunate one for the sake of his own argument.
– No, . ‘ it is not., . We must go back to extreme times in order to ascertain what our position is to-day. At any rate, this wire industry is part and parcel of the great iron and steel industry of Australia. The honorable’ member for Wakefield will admit that at Iron Knob, in South Australia, we ‘have the raw material for this industry of a quality second to none in the world.
– Certainly, and right at hand, which, is the very beot argument against the imposition of heavy duties. -
– But that ore has to be conveyed nearly half way round Australia, to the place of manufacture. The British and American manufacturers are much closer to their supplies.
– A great proportion of the iron ore required by British manufacturers is imported.
– The great bulk of the raw material used, in Great JBritain for the manufacture of the superior classes of steel goods . is obtained in the British Isles.
– A great quantity is imported’ from Spain.
– But Spain is not nearly as far from . Great Britain as Iron Knob is from Newcastle. We odght ‘to have more of the spirit of’ Americangreater loyalty to our own manufacturers. The farmers of America would’ look at one with scorn if h’e asked them whether they would purchase Australian-made matchines.’ Lady Northcote, an- ‘American by birth, ‘ set ‘ ‘an ‘ ‘example ‘ to ‘the women of- this country in : using as . far as practicable’ Australian-m-ade ‘material. She reproached Australians for not’ being moreloyaltothelocallymade; goods. We wan t. more of. that, spirit displayed here.
-Isthe honorable member wearingsuitmade of- Australian tweed?
– Yes. I always say to my tailor that I must have the Australianmade article.
– And. if he, has none, what do you do?
– I wait until I can get it. The finer . classes of. tweeds we are so. fond of wearing in , summer, are made in . Australia and are superior, to the imported article. The- only trouble is that we ane not , producing them in greater quantities. Some honorable members who are speaking with tears in their, voices bought their wire when it was cheap. Their paddocks are already fenced. My position is quite different. I am buying wire . to-day, and I think the price is fairly reasonable. It^is lower than it was.
– We are; obliged to chase the rabbits with packs of dogs.
– The honorable member will never get rid of rabbits in that way.,
– But. we cannot afford to buy the wire necessary to keep them out. -
-The honorable member rkept asking the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir , Robert Best) , to refer to the rprices which applied in 1913, but does- heexpectthe, price, of wire, to, fall to. the 1913 rate again.?,
– I expect the- price of wiretofallin consonance- with theiprices of other commodities which, are falling;.
– What commodities?
-Wheat, meat, butter, and foodstuffs generally.
– Those. honorable members who are asking for a reduction in the price of wire are taking the risk ofgetting German goods through “English’ houses. We are very fast losing that spirit of patriotism which was 1 supposed to buoy’ us up. During the war anything German was anathema to some people, ‘but they have speedily forgotten why the war was fought, and are ‘now quite’ ready ‘to accept’ German-made goods if they are a little cheaper than the Australian-made articled
– But your party wants to trade with Germany.
– That is so. It is foolish on our part not to do so. Britain is , already grading with Germany. But I prefer Australian-made goods to German or English.
– Unfortunately, you are not obliged to buy them.
– Recently I have bought mom wire than the honorable member has purchased, and very likely I have done a great deal . more work on a farm than he has.
– Where is your ranch,?
– It is so situated as to require a considerable amount of wire. In all our cities to-day- even in. Perth, where the honorable -member for Swan probably puts in more time than he does on his farm - there are thousands of beautiful homes with gardens enclosed by woven wire fences.
– A mere drop in a bucket.
– A very big drop. Those engaged in. making, woven wire fences and gates will tell you, that their trade is a very extensive , one. As a . -staunch. Protectionist, I expectedthat,in connexion with: this Tariff, we wouldhave -a Tariff Board and anti-dumping legislation. We werepromised at, theoutset thatsuch legislation would.be. passed,but there seems to be just now consider able : lukewarnrness in- regard to’ the “whole- matter. I wandto sec aTariff Board that will keepthe chargesofour manufacturers within reasonable bounds. ‘The honorable member forDampier(Mr. Gregory) will admit that we were ‘ promised such . ‘ a Board.
– When the Tariff Board Bill was before us, the honorable member for Ballarat . (Mr,. McGcath) succeeded in carrying a certain amendment, but that was thrown out by the Senate. The Tariff Board as now. proposed means nothing more than additional public expenditure.
– Only a few moments ago, the honorable member asked what had become of the Tariff Board proposals.
– I want to see the Tariff Board established.
Mr.FENTON.- So do I. Without’ a Tariff . Board and anti-dumping legislation, this Tariff . will be incomplete ; but many supporters , of the Government are remarkably silent just . now in regard. to those two projects.
– The high duties on wire netting are going to put a cruel burden’ on every primary producer.
– I do not think so. Some honorable -members seem to think that Protective duties necessarily result in increased prices. I deny that they do.
– I suppose the honorable member says that Protective duties lead to reduced prices.
– In some cases they do. The Minister’s statement is that in the initial stages of an industry the protection afforded it may result in a slight increase in the prices of its output, but that as soon as the industry becomes established those who use its products reap the benefit of reduced prices.
– We are giving this industry a duty of 20 per cent.
– But the honorable member knows that an additional 5 per cent. often means. the difference between success and failure in a business enterprise. I would urge honorable members of the, Country party, not tobe . always contending that the imposition of a Protective duty necessarily . means increased prices.There is another side to the picture. It is a known factthat, in the absence of local competition, . the charges made for imported articles- are often overand above a fair thing.
Mr.Prowse.-What about considering this item on the 1913 ‘ prices of wire ? We could not buy ‘wire to better advantage than during that year.
– And practically every lb. of the cheap wire coming in at that time was of German manufacture.
– I am not attempting to bluff the Committee. The honorable member for Swan has admitted that no one expects to obtain wire at the low price ruling in 1913.
– And no one wants to pay as much, as we had to pay for fencing wire in 1918.
– The honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) has shown that even last year we were paying for English-made wire nearly double the price that prevailed before the war, and the Minister for Trade and Customs says that the cheap . wire of . 1913, in which honorable members of the Country party gloried, came, for the most part, from Germany.
– Lots of wire came from the Old Country.
– Practically every lb. weight of the cheap wire came from Germany.
– Imported goods bearing Australian names have been sold in Australia before to-day. Let us assume that the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Richard Foster) was the head of a big firm of Australian merchants, and that our relations with Germany were as they were in 1913. In such circumstances the representative of a German manufacturer might call on him, and show him samples of certain goods of which he approved. If, however, the honorable member took exception to the German name on the goods the traveller would not hesitate to promise that an English or aboriginal name would be substituted for it. Prior to the war Japanese tennis racquets branded “ The Lloyd George,” “ The Asquith,” “ The Chamberlain” were being imported into Australia. Proof has already reached our shores that the Armistice had no sooner been signed than British traders, with the blessing and. approval of the Board of Trade, sent representatives to Germany to purchase German goods. Owing to the exchange position and other advantages, German manufacturers are going ahead to an extent that was impossible during the war, and their manufactures are reaching Australia through English and American channels. It is time that Australia rose to a reasonable pitch of patriotism and determined that Australian industry should be properly protected. I ask the people of Australia to treat our local manufacturers in the spirit with which the people of the United States of America have dealt with their manufacturers. The Americans spurn an offer of foreign-made goods when they can obtain supplies from a local manufacturer. With a good Australian sentiment in regard to Australian manufactures and primary products we shall see the industries of the Commonwealth going ahead by leaps and bounds. I am prepared to do all I can to’ assist the primary producers as well as the manufacturers of this country. ‘ I am prepared to do everything possible to bring about decentralization, which is calculated to benefit the whole of our provincial districts. I want to see a diversity of industries in Australia. Before the war we were sending millions of pounds’ worth of minerals to Germany, where they were treated and sent back here in a manufactured state. It is true that we have but a limited market, but we have vast natural resources, and it should be the aim of every true Australian to see that we supply all our own requirements instead of encouraging importation.
.- We have had a very long discussion in regard to the importation of German goods, but I fail to see anything in the request now before us that should give rise to such a consideration. The Senate has not requested an amendment of the general Tariff. It has merely asked for a reduction of the duty under the British Tariff. I was hopeful that the Minister (Mr. Greene) would see his way to make even a greater reduction than that which another place has requested. I am sure that the Committee, when the item was originally before us, did not fully appreciate the effect of the duties imposed under it.
The remarks made by the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fen ton) in regard to the iron and steel industry should not be allowed to pass without comment. In view of his comparisons and his statements as to patriotism and sentiment, it is well that some of the actual facts relating to the iron and steel industry should be placed before the Committee and the country. The Country party has said again and again that it is prepared to support a moderate Tariff, but only when such a Tariff is essential to the building up of an industry. We have had the sworn statement of the manager of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company that it was prepared to enter upon the steel industry here, and build up its business, without any assistance whatever from this Parliament. He said that it wanted neither a duty, a bounty, nor a subsidy. The value of the ore obtained by the company from the Iron Knob, South Australia, is double that of the ores that are imported into Britain, so that it takes 2 tons of the latter to producewhat 1 ton of Iron Knob ore will give. The Broken Hill Company has this enormous deposit of high-grade ore right on the sea-board, and it has its own vessels and wharfs, and coal within a mile or two of its works. It has also one of the most up-to-date plants in the world. What more should it require? We have a right to expect manufacturers with all these facilities to be able to compete with those of other countries. No greater advantage could have been given the manufacturers of Australia than was conferred on them by the recent great war, when prices advanced by leaps and bounds. There was then no limit to the price which a manufacturer could get for his output. He was able to make enormous profits, out of which he could provide for up-to-date plants, and so fit himself to compete with manufacturers in other countries. We are prepared ‘to give a moderate Tariff, and I regard it as unfair for honorable member after honorable member to quote statements every one of which is from the circular issued by the Rylands Company. Let us take the price that that firm says they were supplying goods at in Australia in December, . 1919. Their price, according to the circular, was £22 10s., when the British price was £39. Can any one who has been compelled to buy wire say that they obtained any advantage from those low prices? Again, we are. told that this firm was selling at £24 10s. when the British price was £43. Did purchasers in Australia get any advantage? I think the general reply, if it were given, would be that nothing was seen of any such low prices.
– Does the honorable member say that the statements in the circular are untrue?
– I do not; but if this firm were selling at such low prices the. wholesaler and retailer must have got abnormal profits. It would be unfair for me to suggest that the statements made by the firm are untrue; but I say that the consumer did not gain any advantageby it. They are now asking that on wire over 12-gauge there shall be a duty of 20 per cent. as against Great Britain. In the firm’s circular we are told-
It will be seen that throughout the war we have supplied the Australian market with fencing wire at practically one-half the price the British manufacturer charged.
Now, I cannot believe that -
The price in the United States and in Canada was practically the same as in England.
Mr.Greene. - Why does the honorable member say that he cannot believe the statement?
– Because the prices quoted to me, when I was obtaining figures for the general Tariff debate, were double those quoted in the circular from Rylands.
Mr.Greene. - The circular makes a very definite statement of fact.
– Of course, it is possible that their output would be so small as to be unnoticeable in the market. If so, the consumer again has to pay. The circular goes on -
We adopted the policy of fixing the price merchants had to sell our wire at-
That is a most dangerous policy, one to which I have grave objection. When wo were dealing with the Tariff Board Bill, and also when the Tariff was before us, I pointed to the undesirability of such a practice. The circular continues - and the result of this is that Australian farmers have been able to buy their fencing wire at less than half the price farmers in any other country have had to pay.
Then further -
Owing to the low price being quoted for Belgian wire, large quantities of which are now coming into Australia, we had to reduce the price of our wire to £20 per ton, which is below actual cost of production, and at which we. are making a material loss.
It would seem that this firm cannot produce No. 8 black wire at £20 per ton, although the pre-war price was below £8. Are we to understand that there is to be a duty on wire sufficient to enable the firm to charge £20 per ton in the future ?
Is the price they pay theBrokenHill Proprietary Limited for their rodsso highthat they cannot manufacture fencing’ wire at less than £20 without loss, although it is from 230 to” 260 per cent. above pre-war prices? Any representative of a country electorate realizes ‘the necessity of primary producers, who are developing the country, having their’, requirements supplied at the lowest possible . price. We have a prospect in -the near future of a large stream of immigration from the . Old Country,, efforts to Which end. are now being made ‘ by the Imperial and Australian. Governments. However honorable members opposite may believe, . in High . Protection, they cannot fail . tosee the great importance of building upthe. nor them portions of this Country. During my recent trip to. the north-west I was told, that ordinary wire fencing is costing . £100 per mile. On the boat on which I travelled’ from the north I met a wheelwright; . who told me, hehad a contract for building , a waggon, and that in submitting his price hesaid therewould be on-© extra, namely, the 6 -in. by 1¼in. iron required for the tyres; which alone cost- £44forthefour tyres. Of course, this included heavy freight and handling charges’ at Onslow. Mr.Greens.- When was the’ waggon being built? I do not think we are rolling any of that steel in Australia. I believe it is all imported. ‘ ‘
Mr.GREGORY. - We have not quite returned to normal conditions; but I do not seewhy this iron cannot be turned put by the same people who turn out steel rails. ‘ ‘We are asked to impose 30 per cent. against. Great Britain, and 40 per cent. in the general Tariff, on’ all wire of 12 gauge or larger’. ‘When the Minister ([Mr. Greene) proposed his ad valorem duties’ on wire 14-gauge and smaller, ‘it was not realized how heavy the impost would be. The result was that the duty on 14-gauge wire amounted to £18 7s. fid. per ton.
Mr.Greene. - In twelvemonths time the ad valorem duty, whatever it may be, may not be so Heavy- it depends entirely onthe price of the wire.
– Then itwould , have been only fair to the Committee . for the Minister to have told , us. how,, much . the duty,- approximately, would amount to. I . am sure that no honorable member be lieved, when he agreed to the ad valorem duty, that it would amount to somuch.
– It would not’ amount’ to so much under normal conditions. Wire then must have been very dear. ‘ .
– That does not affect the issue ; the duty is, abnormal. ‘ The Minister has power,, by departmental regulation, to . admit wire, for, barbed wire ami wire netting at a lower rate.” . What, about all those other industries, in our midst; in which wov,en wire is. used to a large extent ? I; have . received a letter in reference . to tinned steel, . mattresswire, which is, used for many purposes besides mattress making.
-The mattress industry has very heavy protection.
– This letter says-‘
We have a stock ofabout 10 tons American; which cost approximately, including conversion, £10,5 . per ton c.i.f.and e., Sydney, and being under bond will, at the new rate, pay about £35 perton duty, whereas thepre-war selling pricewas about £26 perton c.i.f. and e.
Thismakes the commodity terribly expensive.
– ‘This, material, is from the United States of America’?
-What’ is the use, of introducing United . , States of America stuff with the present rate of exchange?
– The rate of exchange makes the position worse in many ways. Even when we send primary products to America we receive £17 to £20 less than we do in the Old Country; and the only way to right matters is by trading. It is pointed out in the letter that the actual cost, prior to the war, was only £26 per ton, while to-day the duty is about £35.
– When the price of ‘the article comes down, the duty will be less. We’ cannot avoid the position.
– Surely we are framing a Tarifffor present-day conditions? The Rylands firm, in their . catalogue,point out thai; the French Tariff on.14-gauge and, heavier is. 85s., 4d;on 15 to 19 gauge, 121s:10d. ; -and on 19 to 25 gauge, 146s.. 3d. , This . enables us, to know, exactly, . what the; ‘duty , is.., I made a similar protest, and a. much. more justifiable one,’ in regard to copper wire.Copper varies in price from £75to £140 per ton, and with a. duty Of 45. per cent., if copper goes up, the people engaged ; in. manufacturing it get double the profit they would under any other circumstances ; and this the Government and the people have to pay.. The price; of telephone wires,.; for instance, is something like £.80, per ton over the price of electrolytic copper. Honorable members opposite might note that, rightthroughput , the Tariff discussions, we- have had not one wordof protest from:Broken Hill,: Mount Lyell,.or Mount Morgan.: Theydid hot protest against the increasedcosts which were imiposed ‘ on mining1 operations ‘by the Tariff, but to-day’ they are asking their employeesto accept a reductionof 20 per cent. in wages because of these increased costs: ‘ The reasonis that they have interests’ at Port Kernels,’from which they make’ profits because ‘of’the Tariff.
Mr.Mathews.-Would’ thehonorable member expect themenin the millsto work more cheaply than theminiers’?
Mr.GREGORY.- I do! not’ askthat; but, I think that thoseemployed, in . protected’industriesshould .,be preparedto, compete, with their rivals under,, a moderate Tariff. . I object to the men in the workshops, . getting better -wages- and- conditions than those who- have to do. /the. hard work . of, mining. The miners -are. being asked , to . . accept ia reduction) . in wages . of 20 per cent,, and nothing has been done , to decrease . the cost of- living. The party , to which I belong’ made suggestion after suggestion, in regard to -the’ Tariff, for the reduction of the cost’ of living, and this, was opposed’ by ‘Labour members, and now a ‘ section of the coftimuhity is being compelled to -accept lower wages because -nothing- was- done to reduce costs, while those interested in’ other industries are- getting an advantage’. ‘
– Do’ you’ suggest that1 a reduction -of the duties ‘under discus-‘ sion ‘would’ reduce the cost of living? ‘
– My remark’s’ ap-‘ plied’to tKe Tariff generally. I hope’ that the Minister will insist on having the amendments’ requested by the Senate, made.’ The’ primary producers have had’ very lit’tle consideration! The other day, the Prime Minister (Mr.. Hughes) spoke, of the unholy alliance between the’ Labour party and the Country party ‘;. but, in regard to,, the’ ‘iron and. steel ‘duties,, there is an unholy combination between, the Ministerial party and the Labour . party. I wish all classes to get a fair, deal,; but the men. who take the- risk3.pf mining, arid who have had the courage and resource? fulness to venture out into the waste places. of Australia- to. prospect for metals) the. men to whose individuality the country largely owes: : its: prosperity, , should have -some consideration shown to themi Neither . they nor> the “-consumers generally have ‘ . ‘received consideration ‘ under the Tariff; the ‘‘only section-‘ whose- ‘interests h-aVerbeen’Jstudied. is’ the- manufacturing section.
Mr.Story.-What about the1’ ‘o’nion growers, the maize growers, and’ the banana growers ?
Mr.GREGORY.- Thedutiesto which the’honorable’mem-ber refers operate’only occasionally,1 in’ periods ‘ o’f’’ scarcity.’^ Onions may tnen come . from “Japan. I dp” not blame theJ primary producers, ff or askj ing for. protection, seeing, that every one else has demanded. Tariff ‘assistance. ,
Mr.Story.- What about the ‘fruit growers?
– The people: of MilT dura d,id not ask, for protection.. I should lij^e , to know [whether the -Minister thinks it^ possible. to impose . specific rates- On wire of . the . finer, gauges ?
-Itwouldadd so tremendously to- the schedule that I.. do . not think.it would be worth, while to do ‘that.
– I should also like to know whether. ‘the Minister can- let lis deal separately with the ‘two items’ in his proposal.
– I cannotdo that, but the honorable member 1 could 1 move’ an amendment ‘on my ‘motion. ‘
Amendment (by Mr: Watkins) proposed
Thatthemotion be amended by ‘ omitting from sub-.itera; El ‘ last ‘occurring the figures “20” , with a yiew to inserting in lieu thereof the figures “ 25.”
.-r- There are twoi or three plain facts which I wish to place beforei the” Committee before ; a ‘ vote’ is ‘taken . i ‘ In . iny opinion, the statement read, by the- honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best)., and commented pn by thelhonbrable1 member for Dampier ; (MrL Gregory1* , is. absolutely valueless., I. do not challenge, the correctness, iof . the figures, given in it, . but the, prices* . mentioned: are only those for a period beginning about j twelvemonths -before the -armistice.. . >
– The local people were not manufacturing earlier. They came into the business during the war.
– Yes, and during the war freight charges were so heavy as to make it impossible to bring here in any quantity the commodities referred to. The prices were then 300 and 400 per cent. above pre-war prices, so that had the commodities been available they would not have been purchased. No one could buy wire or wire netting at the prices that then prevailed, unless it were a bundle here and there for the repair of a fence.
– Wire went up to £80 a ton.
– Wire netting did, but the maximum price for wire was £50, and during the greater part of the war it could not be obtained for less than £40 a ton. I do not expect to get these commodities now at pre-war prices, but we may hope to get them for prices much lower than we have been paying, and much lower than the latest quotations. During the war no purchases of wire and wire netting worth speaking of were made. There were no improvements or extensions carried out. Everything was in abeyance until prices should come down to a reasonable figure. What is now proposed is a very big impost on commodities that are a plain breadandcheese line for the primary producers. Wire and wire netting can be made without the manufacturers having to pay large sums for patent rights. The processes are simple. They are not the result of brainy experiments, for which the users of the articles might fairly be expected to pay highly. Both commodities are essential, especially in the far interior, and are needed to open up new country to provide for immigration. For a bread-and-cheese line the duties are excessive.
– What is the ad valorem equivalent of the rates on the present prices of wire?
– It is considerable. The Minister can work it out for himself.
– It is about 12½per cent.
– Yes; but what are the prices that are being ‘ charged, and that are likely to obtain? It has been contended that Parliament has only to protect an industry sufficiently to greatly benefit the consumer.
Something in that way was done for the woollen industry forty years ago, but the consumer has got no relief.
– To-day you can get a decent suit made of Australian tweed for £8, and pay £18 for a suit made of impelled tweed.
– The Minister could get a suit made of the best tweed that ever came out of the mill for half those prices. The firm of Rylands Brothers is one of the finest in the world. There are no better people in the business. But we have been told that they will act benevolently towards the community, and will see that the merchants do not step in to increase prices. Before the war the Government of South Australia said that this bread-and-butter line, as I have termed it, must be cheaper, and it imported wire and wire netting for the farmers. That importation had not to be continued long, because the big merchants said, “ We can get this stuff out as cheaply as the Government can,” and until the war commenced it was brought out on an interest charge of only 5 per cent. There was not much robbery in that business, for the settlers could then extend and develop new country very cheaply, so far as material was concerned, but by this high duty the Government are simply placing an embargo on the development of the interior, while they are putting a duty upon people who participate only to a very small degree in the advantages of the Protectionist policy. I ask the Minister to consider this fact. He says that the raw material is in Australia; that is so. There is only one other place in the world like the Iron Knob, and that is in Sweden. With that one exception the Iron Knob is unique in both extent and character, and it is almost inexhaustible. I am, prepared to be very generous in regard to this new industry that is established in, our midst, but the proposal of the Senate goes beyond the limit of generosity, and I shall oppose the Minister’s motion.
– I am. sorry that theGovernment have agreed to hand over to the importing -sectionof the community, who are a bane to Australia, a clear profit. We know that they have no soul, and that any duty they have paid has been passed on. to their customers. If the duty is now given back to the importers the persons who bought from them, and paid the duty, will get no benefit. I therefore object to a proposal tha-t- will mean a loss of revenue to the Department, and a gift to the importers, and I think the Minister should make some better arrangement. There is not an honorable member of the Committee who would support a refund to the importers of a duty which has already been passed on to their customers.
– We do not do that sort of thing.
– Then what is the true position ?
– We are adjusting the duties in such a way that they shall apply to all wire that was imported from the moment we started in this Committee to deal with the duties on wire.
– So the Munster is not making the importers a present of a penny?
– We are not.
– I am glad to hear that. The debate on this item has shown the inconsistencies of some honorable members. I listened with appreciation to the fight which the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) put up for the wire-netting industry. I also listened to the mutterings of honorable members in the Corner, who do not represent the farmers, although they profess to do so, and get kudos on that account. We saw also the fiendish grin which is usual on the part of the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Prowse) when any reduction of duty i3 proposed. He administered a severe body blow on the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins), when he twitted him. in regard to his attitude on the duties on explosives. If I had been the honorable member for Newcastle, I would have retorted by quoting the attitude of the honorable member for Swan upon timber. If any honorable members have adopted peculiar attitudes during the discussion of the Tariff, they are the honorable members for Newcastle and Swan.- The former advocates the protection of the wire-netting industry, but he will not concede to the men who work in the explosives factory the same assistance as he demands for the men who are employed in another industry in his own electorate. And we have heard the honorable member for Swan speaking against duties on timber and voting for them’. The whole of the members of the so-called Farmers party are opposed to the duty upon wire netting, but quite recently we heard a great deal about maize. I remind honorable members in the corner that if maize could be imported cheaply into Australia, a factory in my electorate could give employment to three or four hundred extra men and women, but I voted for a duty that would exclude imported maize, because I know that the Australian farmer’s product cannot compete with the cheaper grown article of South Africa.
– It was the manufacturer who got the duty imposed upon maize.
– Does not the honorable member realize that if the manufacturer could get cheaper maize he could use more of it? It is absurd to suggest that the manufacturers asked that a duty should be imposed on imported maize, which is the raw product for their industry.
– I ask the honorable member to connect his remarks with the item before the Chair.
– Does the honorable member expect the farmers to enclose their holdings with wireless fences?
– I expect the farmers of Australia to concede to other sections of the community the protection they desire themselves. When the farmers demanded 9s. per bushel for their wheat and caused the price of bread to rise, and yet will not give adequate protection to the wire-netting industry, they are not acting fairly. The farmers know that during the war, and since the war, they would have been in a sorry position but for the local production of wire and wire netting. When they were unable to import wire netting because of its scarcity and cost, they exulted in the fact that the article was produced in Australia’, but now, having got all they could out of the manufacturer, they are ready to see foreign wire dumped in this country, thus showing that they are anxious to get all they can from the rest of the community, but will give nothing in return. The Minister’s motion has been proposed in such a way that I and others will have to vote against him, because I will not agree to a reduction of the duty to 20 per cent.
– The honorable member for Newcastle has moved ‘an amendment which will give the honorable member an opportunity to vote in favour of the 25 per cent, duty., and when that proposal. has been disposed of he can vote on my motion. ,
– I cannot understand why the Minister grouped his proposal in this way. I agree that with wire, as with any other commodity,, a 20 per cent. duty on. somegrades may beas effectiveas a 40 per cent. duty on others. But I do not think that he . has. differen- tiagted at the right point, and. . therefore, it will npt( pay , tp produce ‘ the . finer wire’s.
– The important thing is to know the right wire , to pull. . ,
Mr.MATHEWS . - Wire manufacture irig is not carried oil in m-y electorate, and I ‘am pulling no’:wires, ‘but-T am seeking to! protect Australian industry. We shall never establish . the iron industry ‘in Australia unless we manufacture- the whole of our requirements of wire, because that commodity enters so. much into- every, phase of commerce- and industry that its production becomes a, key industry.
. -I am a little surprised that a key industry should be endangered by’ a proposal, on the part of the Minister ‘(Mr; Greene), to agree to the Senate’s’ request. When’ this item was before the- Committee previously good reasons were advanced for fixing the rates- agreed upon. I notice that the Seriate do not propose that we should interfere with’ th.e; intermediate or general rates. Possibly’ it is an endeavour, on the part of senators,’ to give Great Britain a greater measure of preference, and it is a . principle to which we can all, agree,, but the question is whether the extra margin suggested , in this case can be given, with safety to our own industries. , 1 am , given to ; understand that the rods from which, wire is drawn, in , Great Britain are imported, possibly from, Germany, so that German goods may . eventually find their, way out to Australia in- the form, of , . British goods. If. this be.. the case, and I have no -reason, to doubt- that it is, it is surprising to find men in . Australiai prepared to argue in favour of utilizing foreign goods in preference toi those made ‘locally.1 I can quite, understand the primary producer making’ a gallant effort tosecure something for his personal use at ai-very low price, irrespective of the effectupon the Commonwealth.
– Why should the primary producer pay this duty instead of the’ burden of establishing, this industry being placed, on the whole community ?
– The primary producer has a right to’ helpto build up Australian industries. The masses of people have been called upon by1 this Tariff to buy Australian-made . articles, and I believe that they are prepared to p.ay a’ little more for them ‘than they would possibly pay for imported- good!.’ A few days before Kis death the’ late honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. James Page) . made . one of ‘the, ‘finest spe,ephes ever heard in this Chamber, and’ , told us that he believed the people of Australia were willing to pay a little more . for the locally., made article/ ii< this’ Parliament would only gjjve , the , Australian- industries an opportunity of going ahead. It has: already been, said i-n, this Committee that. 5- per . cent . represents -.the profit on which Rylands are working. : The. firm say- . .
We- have all alongsold our wire at the lowest . -rate,, consistent with a reasonable return, for capital, . our net profit on sales for twelve months, being under, 5 per . cent. We, are prepared to’ certify to this.
Are we, byreducing the dutyby 5 per cent. to take away from -this industry this 5- per cent: profit, its very life1 blood ? ‘ I cannot see anything but’ death to Australian- 1 industry at the ‘back of the argument of those who advocate Free Trade.
– Will 5 per cent, make that difference?
– It will kill this particularindustry. Primaryproducers ‘are very much ‘ like ‘members of Parliament who are always complaining’ about the amount of work they have to do,but yet stick to their jobs ‘as longas theycan. Notwithstanding’- all the troubles they seem to have to overcome’, the primary producers are quite willing to stick to their jobs. Their balance-sheets are always very1 satisfactory . “ Good’ luck to them’’ I say,’ but’ during-‘ the war’ Australia was verygood1 to them.’
– They,were very good to Australia.
-Hear, hear They were very good to each other. Let -them continue to be ‘gobd ‘to each other, but do- not let ithis ‘‘Committee reduce this duty below- thei rate which only a ‘month or so ago the Minister (Mr; Greene) thought ought to ibe imposed.
– What did these pedple charge for ‘wire when- the war was’ in progress?
-I do. not. know; , but they . charged £22 10s. in 1919, and, £24 lfls. in 1920.
-Do you not think that £22 10s.’ ‘was too much?
Mr.FRANCIS. - I am riot prepared to’ say’ that it was . too , High a price; ibut I accept r their’ certified statement , that they are, not , making, more, . than 5 ; per cent, prbfijt.
– I have ‘paid £31 10s. for Waratah . wire within the- last twelve months.. That was the price in: Melbourne. It -was £32 10s.. , in the country towns,
– That was not the fault of the manufacturer.
– No. The trouble’ is that a’ good deal of ‘wire had to he imported, and the local’ merchants brought, up the price of the local wire to the cost of the imported article.
– I am” not speaking on behalf of the middleman. This firm at Newcastle has spent £500,000 on; its establishment,, and can. engage from 1,400 to 2j000 employees. It will do so if it is given sufficient, protection.
– ‘Yes ; if we keep out imported -wire.
Mr.FRANCIS.-The . firm”.doe3 not ask us to keep out other wires ; . it simply a’sKs for a fair measure -of protection.
Mr.Fenton. - I ‘ suppose that the firm’s employees will; eat (Oniony and potatoes,, and . so. fortfi?
Mr.FRANCIS. - Yes.I cannot ravdei’Stand1 the attitude ‘of the- prim’ary producers. I am- sufe that-an extra 5 -per cent, on* the few coils of ‘Wire’ required to fence ‘fen-‘ average1 holding will ‘iio’t make nutch difference to ‘the ‘ ‘farmer ; ‘ but evidently the -aim! of ‘the primary producer, as expressed’ by his ‘representatives here, is to kill the secondary industries of Australia. I ask ‘the Minister to display again that Australian . patriotic spirit he showed us when he. was. conducting the schedule through the Committee previously, and to stick to his guns, and- not take away the very life-blood’ of an industry.
– The honorable member is very generous when the other fellow pays. ‘
– I am prepared to pay my share towards’ the’ building iip bf Australian industry. ‘Honorable members are singing. out about an extra 5 per cent, on the cost of their ‘wire.’ On the other hand, the imposition ‘of this 5 per cent, would prevent’ 2,000 men from being thrown out bf work, arid keep a plant costing’ £500,000 from being idle. It will be, an , absolute disgrace to’ this C.onJriiittee if it takes’ away a 5’ per ‘cent.’ margin front an industry that is not’ earning more than 5 per cent, profit. ‘’ ’
– Who is- going to guarantee the farmer’s 5 per cent?
– The farmer has had a fair show. As I said before, “Good luck to him”; but he is always on the growl. , I recognise that the primary producers are worthy of the greatest consideration.
-But the honorable member is. not prepared to give them -much.
– The fionorajble member would have absolute Free Trade, whereas I stand for Protection - as much as ; I can get,’ and more. I am not one of those who from the ‘public platforms of the country’ say,’ “‘Let “us’ help Australia,” but1 when the opportunity offers to assist an industry vote to destroy it by ‘allowing ; the free introduction of ‘ the products of foreign’ labour.
Mr.Mc Williams.- But this relates to British wire.’
Mr.FRANCIS.- The- imports of which we . complain are Jio’t of British manufacture. If thei Minister will ‘ ‘postpone the further ‘consideration of the item, I will bring proof that a’ good deal of ‘the wire imported- ; into Australia’ is” drawn from rdd iron that conies from. Germany.
– I do not think that is so. We know, as a matter of fact, that practically no rods are being drawn in England, except from German and Belgian blooms. The German and Belgian blooms are being mixed in the works. They send us the result of the Belgian blooms, but the average price at which they can sell is very low, and the English furnaces are out. We have to see that our furnaces do not go out.
– If that is so, would it not be better to impose the extra 5 per cent, for which the amendment provides, and so save the Department the trouble involved in finding out whether imported wire has been drawn from English or German rod? If we agree to° the Senate’s request we shall destroy this industry, and the men now employed in it will be pleading to us for assistance. We shall throw out of action £500,000 worth of plant, and, to put it shortly, will, in my opinion, disgrace Australia.
.- I hope the Committee will consider the advisableness ‘ of protecting, not only this, but every industry in Australia. We can only by Protection increase our population and thus prevent this country from being overrun by peoples whom we do not wish to come here. It goes without saying that we shall not be able to hold this enormous territory of ours for long unless we people it, and we can hope to people it only by establishing industries which will give ample employment at satisfactory rates. In connexion with, not only this industry, but many others, British manufacturers were promised that if. they established works here substantial protection would be granted them. The firm of Rylands Brothers, Australia, Limited, were induced to establish their industry here on the distinct understanding that they would secure the benefit of a protective duty, such as was recently passed by this House. On that understanding they expended £500,000’ in setting up works in New South Wales. At the present time they are employing 750 hands, and their plant, if in full use, would give employment to 1,400. No large establish-, ment could be expected to produce at the lowest cost unless its machinery was fully and constantly employed. Certain overhead expenses must be incurred whether the plant is wholly or only partially in use; and, in order to reduce the costs of production to a minimum, all the machinery in a big industry must be kept going. We have to take care that by cutting down these duties we do not make it possible for goods to be largely introduced from overseas, and so lead to the partial closing down of Messrs. Rylands Brothers’ and other big works. In a circular issued by the firm it is stated that as recently as 9 th August last an order for 1,000 tons of wire for the Hume Pipe Company of Australia Limited went to a British firm, which was able to quote a price below that at which Messrs. Rylands Brothers tendered. They state distinctly - and their statement can be verified - that during a given time they had not been making a profit of more than 5 per cent, on their undertaking. It is quite clear, therefore, that if, notwithstanding that they were not making more than 5 per cent., and that they cut their price to the lowest possible extent, they were unable to get this order in , competition with a British firm, there is no room for any further reduction of the duty. By reducing it to the extent of 5 per cent., as now proposed, we shall jeopardize the business of this firm, which has set up very large works in Australia. 0 The plant will be only partially, instead of fully, occupied, and the manufacturing costs will necessarily be increased. The overhead expenses on the reduced output would be greater than they would be if the whole plant were constantly employed.
– If an additional 5 per cent, is necessary for this firm, why not give it to’ them by way of a bounty t
– We are not dealing just now with bounties. We are face to face with a difficulty, and, as reasonable men, should deal with it. Are we going to risk the ruin of this industry? Are we prepared to reduce the duty, and so to discourage other firms from setting up new industries here. Is it not better that we should keep faith with those who have been induced to commence operations here? By helping them to employ their plant to its fullest extent we shall reduce the cost of their output to the con- sumer. ‘Some honorable members of the Country party, however, are now advocating a division of thework of drawing wire amongst factories here and overseas. Such a division would lead to increased, instead of reduced, costs. With reasonable protection there is every prospect of this firm being able to employ 1,400 men. We have to consider not only the men but their wives and children as consumers of primary products. The primary producer will benefit by the influx of population. We should view these matters in a brighter light than some honorable members are prepared to do. We can hope to keep Australia white, I repeat, only by peopling it, and we can not people it unless we adopt much the same policy as that which was followed by the United States of America.
– If we reduced the duty to 20 per cent. the firm mentioned by the honorable member would have to close down.
– At all events, even if it carried on under the lower duty, its plant would not be fully employed, and its cost of production would be increased. The duty that we are now asked to agree to in respect of some classes of wire is the same as the duty on the raw material - the rod iron from which it is drawn.
– Whose fault is that?
– The blame rests with another place. This fact goes to show that honorable members of another place have not taken that degree of interest in this question that others have, and I see no reason why we should reduce the duty merely because another place, by a majority of five, has requested us to do so. I hope we shall not agree to the request.
Question - That the amendment (Mr. Watkins’) be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- I move -
That the proposed modifications be amended by leaving out the figures “52 “ in sub-item
E2 second occurring, and inserting in lieu thereof the figures “44.”
We have already had a lengthy discussion on this item, and the occasion calls for no further words from me. The substance of the amendment is that it accepts the two requests made by the Senate, instead of one only.
Question - That the amendment be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . .l2
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- When speaking . previously I omitted to refer to’ a comparison of duties on certain iron and steel’ ‘items in the Tariff schedule, with the, 50, per cent. increases asked for by meon 1st June last, and the duties asked ‘for” by the ‘Broken Hill Proprietary Company on4th June, 1919. It is as follows: -
Motion agreed to.
Item 137 -
And on and after 10th June, 1921, aluminium and nickel, viz. : -
Senate’s Request. - Ad. val., intermediate, 5 per cent. ; general, 15 per. cent.
– Three requests have been made by the Senate in regard to this item. Since the Tariff was originally framed a full plant has been laid down in Sydney for the manufacture of aluminium from the ingot. I dare say that honorable members know that we ‘ have . not yet manufactured aluminium in this country from the matrix or rawmaterial. As a matter of fact,weare not manufacturing aluminiumhere, and , one of the. commodities in which . the Empire found itself most deficient during the war was this. In England there are one or two suppliers , of aluminium ingots., which can also . be ob- tained from other countries. We have in thiscountry quite a number- of deposits which . contain. alumina in, one form or another. One ofthese, a bauxite de- posit, in , Gippsland, is being used for the manufacture of what, I thank, is. called sulphate’ alumina, and another is being prospected. The latter deposit is, I think, sufficiently near a possible ..source of hydro-electrical energy to make it a payable concern, and the people interested in it hope to demonstratedefinitely before very long that it is one. It is not quite as rich ‘as some ofthe best French deposits, but it is a good one. These particular duties will not assist the production of aluminium from t.aw material obtained withinthis country ; they aredesigned entirely to enable persons who. import it to work it tap here into a finished article of commerce.
– Then, do you think it wise to impose a dutyof . 15- per cent. in the general column ?
– That is imposed to meet the wishes of the British Government, which, I understand, is endeavour-‘ ingto encourage in every’ way possible the production of aluminium within the Empire. . Supplies are being.drawn from Africa, and other countries, and arebeing worked up in Great Britain.There is a large plantin Sydney, which it is hoped will benefitbythe duty, and I think that the Port Kembla. Company contemplates rolling aluminium.
– If nickel or aluminium were imported in a crude state from New Caledonia,’ wouldit come in free?
– Nickel not’ worked up would come in’ free.
– The raw alumina would be imported in pigs and ingots. ‘
-If the Ore had been smelted or dealt with in any way it would be ‘dutiable unless imported from Great Britain.I move-
That the requested amendment be made.
.- I should like to be satisfied that the rates that are proposed will . assist the local in; dustry. I have a vivid recollection of an exhibit , in , the Queen’s Hall, of . nickelplated . stamped . goods made by returned soldiers, and. it seems,to m.e that in iinposing a duty of 15 per cent. on. ingot cube , and. scrap . aluminium we, may . injure ata… industry like this by making its . raw materials, too costly. , There is aluminium right thrpugh the, P,arling Ranges ( and. in my own electorate,, , but it t has. not been developed.
– Some of the best deposits, in Australia are to be found in the honorable member’s , - State, and occur throughout a wide;,. area.
-But not having been developed they are of no present value -to manufacturers. Great Britain’s production of . aluminium is- nil. I do not think that Australia produces nickel.
– Most of our. nickel comes from Great Britain, ore being imported into that, country from, New Caledonia and elsewhere, and smelted there.
-It is not. /usual to export crude ore. . Of course, tin ore is sent away sometimes, but, generally, metal is. sent away in the ingot, or concentrated in s6me way. It would be a pity to impose a duty which, would hamper our manufacture of. aluminium goods.
Sitting.suspended from 6.29 to8 p.m.
Motion agreed to.
Aluminium and nickel; free.
Senate’s Request. - Make the duties Qn-r-r Aluminium angles, bars, plates, . rods, sheets, strips/ and tees, riot polished, plated; decorated, or further manufactured; on- iand after - 1st -January, 1922, ad val;, British; 15 per cent.-; intermediate, 20 pel cent.; general, 25. per cent.
Motion (by Mr., Greene) agreed, to -
That the requested . amendment be , made.
Aluminium, and nickel, viz. : -
. Aluminium wire, ad val., British, 10 per cenl ; intermediate, 15 per cent. ; general-, 20 per cent.
Senate’s’ Request. - Amend sub-item by; addingAnd on and after , 1st January, 1922, ad. val., British, , 15 per cent.: intermediate, 20 per cent.; general,’ 25 per cent.
Motion (by Mr. Greene) agreed to -
That the requested amendment be made.
Item 157 -
Barbed wire; per ton,British,.68s. ; intermediate,’, 85s.; general^. 105s.
Senate’s ‘Request: - British, 50s..; intermediate, 70s.; general, 90s.
Motion (by Mr. Greene) proposed -
That the requested amendment be not -made.
.- I call ‘ attention’ ‘ to the ‘ state of the Committee. (Quorum formed.) Does the Minister propose to ‘content himself by merely telling ‘another ‘ place peremptorily that its proposed ‘request cannot be ‘ considered ? I have argued all along 1 that; only . light ‘ duties’ should. ‘ be placed upon barbed wire and wire netting in, view of the all-essential nature 6f ‘these adjuncts tp land ‘settlement and ‘development.
-The original rates are only in the nature of revenue duties.
– If the honorable member had a farm, and had tp protect his paddocks with barbed wire, he would not consider that these rates were merely intended to produce revenue. An important meeting was held in Melbourne last week. A scheme was inaugurated in New South. Wales some little while ago with the slogan, “ A . million f arms for a million farmers.”
– The honorable member is wrong if* he attributes the meeting in Melbourne to- the- Million . Farms movement -of New South Wales. The gathering in this city was entirely the outcome of the immigration policy of the Government and of ‘the organization’ which the Government are attempting to create in connexion therewith.
– Interest in the matter was first created by the efforts of Sir Joseph Carruthers.
– The. honorable, member is, entirely wrong.
– And I say that the Minister knows nothing of the matter. Anyhow, the people of Australia are taking a greater interest in this matter than ever before. All the States are anxious to nil the waste places with genuine settlers, but the encouragement of the right type of immigrant, must be practical. The Government cannot be said to be assisting those who are on the land and encouraging others who desire to settle outback by imposing heavy duties upon these wires.
– The manufacture of barbed wire is not a new industry in Australia.
– It is not.
– Not the actual making of the wire, but the enterprise of drawing it from the local raw material is entirely new.
– Just as in the case of the manufacture of nails, the machine for which does all- the work, even to the packing in the cases. Any one can import a barbed-wire making machine duty free; after which he may go ahead and flourish because of the special duties put upon barbed wire. The man who pays, however, is the man whom the Government say they wish to encourage - the man who is really developing this country. The requested reductions of the duties are fair and moderate, and this Committee should accept them. I hope that the Committee will agree to this and many other of the amendments requested by the Senate.
– I think it was generally admitted when we were discussing the iron and steel duties, which, honorable members will see, are carefully balanced, starting from the pig iron as a basis and proceeding through all the various stages of manufacture-
– Go through them again.
– I do not think it is necessary for me to go through all these items. They constitute one big, carefullybalanced scheme, going from the pig iron to the bloom; from the bloom to the rod, from the rod to the wire, and from the wire to the barbed wire or wire netting, and to each particular process the requisite measure of protection is accorded.. It was generally admitted that the iron and steel industry is essential to this country, and that the defence of Australia is utterly impossible unless the industry is developed. Upon that point I do not think there are two opinions in this Committee, with the possible exception of “ the representative of Russia “ (Mr. Considine). Honorable members must recollect that these products of the steel furnace represent a very large proportion of the total output of the furnaces, and unless we secure for the Australian manufacturer the local market as far as practicable, we shall close down the steel furnaces, and the whole of the iron and steel industry will disappear. It is useless for honorable members to say that they believe that the iron and steel industry is essential to the welfare, DrOgress, and safety of the country, and at the same time declare, as they would to all intents and purposes do by not giving a sufficient measure of protection to those items, . that we should impose low duties, which in their final analyses would mean that we should be collecting a revenue duty for all time, because the iron and steel industry would never become established. If there is one industry that depends more than another upon massed production and continuity of operations it is the iron and steel industry. Without those conditions the whole scheme collapses. That is why I feel that it is essential that these items should be sufficiently protected. These are not high duties. What is happening to-day is this: The British iron and steel furnaces are nearly all cold; the proportion of them working to-day is practically negligible.. In Germany and Belgium every one of them is working at high pressure night and day and is employing a full complement of hands, and, owing to the conditions of exchange between Great Britain, Germany, and Belgium the British manufacturer finds it is cheaper to import Belgian and German steel in one form or another and work it up. We are to-day meeting with competition of that character.
– The coal strike in England was largely responsible for that.
– That has nothingwhatever to do with the actual condition of affairs. The British iron and steel” furnaces are not working, but the manufacturers are purchasing steel abroad and working it up in England-, from which we are now getting low-priced wire. If”
Great Britain were manufacturing iron and steel from the products of her own iron mines, and working it up into the finished article she could not compete with Australia, but she is not doing that.
– Does not the Minister see that he is imposing a permanent impost in order to cope with a temporary condition of affairs?
– No, because the only way to put the Australian manufacturer into a position in which he can turn out a cheap article is to give him, as far as we can, the run of the home market, so that he may keep his works going night and day. Even with the present measure of protection - it is not the Senate’s proposals that are operating to-day - the local works are two and three parts idle.
– Simply because their products are too costly to use.
– I do not think so. I have used a fair amount of them myself, and I know pretty well what the cost means. After all, how much wire does the average farmer - not the man engaged in pioneering work - use in the course of a year?
– Plenty of land is unfenced because the farmer cannot buy the material.
– -What is the general effect of encouraging local manufacture? The fact of ari Australian industry having been established has enabled the farmer to purchase agricultural machinery cheaper than if we had hot manufactured locally.
– We say that statement is wrong.
– That is a matter of opinion, but the whole of the evidence shows that, but for the Australian manufacturer, the farmer would have paid,’ very much more for his agricultural machinery than he is paying to-day, and I am only too glad to know that the Tariff is accomplishing its purpose, and that the foreign competitors with Australian manufacturers are coming here to compete on Australian soil. After all is said and done, that is as it should be. I am credibly informed that the foundations of one big factory are already laid. A firm from abroad has purchased the necessary land, and is making all preparations to proceed with the erection of a factory.
– The Minister stated that if it were not for the Australian manufacturer the farmers would be paying more for their machinery. If that be so, how is it that the manufacturers want increased duties? .
– Notwithstanding, these duties over £1,000,000 worth of agricultural machinery is imported each year. If that money .were put into Australian factories, instead of foreign factories, and the local manufacturers could get that additional turnover, they would be able to supply the local market at an even cheaper price than they are charging to-day. I am satisfied that if these duties operate, as I hope they will eventually, when we escape from the exchange difficulties which surround us at the present time, they will enable the Australian manufacturer to compete successfully with all outside competitors. If he is to do that, I have not the slightest doubt that, as a result of the big turnover, he will be able to reduce the prices considerably below those which he finds payable to-day, and the ultimate result of these duties .will be that the farmer, instead of paying something extra, will be getting his wire cheaper. There is another phase of this matter of which country representatives should never lose sight. The establishment of these industries does provide a home market for hundreds of Australian producers. Today potatoes are marked up in Melbourne at 30s. per ton, and onions at £1 per ton. Do those prices pay for the mere digging and bagging? Honorable members ‘ say that we should put more people on the land so that more people may grow potatoes and onions. There are not enough people in Australia to eat the potatoes and onions that are already produced. Honorable members must know that the places where we can have intense rural settlement are those places which are pre-eminently suited for growing, not the things which we export, but the things for which we require a local market, and it is utterly impossible to get that intense rural settlement, which I desire to encourage, as does every other honorable member, unless there is a local market to consume what is produced. I know of quite a number of cases in which the British manufacturers establishing themselves in . Australia have brought with them a large number of skilled employees. There is not one of those industries started recentlywith British capital that has. not resulted in a considerable increase in the population, and’ a very valuable increase, too, because it is not merely . that fif ty or sixty . employees, with their wives and . families, settle in the country,, but the presence of these people in Australia providesemployment for many more people. Thus a local market is created;, men in constant employment, at good wages . are , able to “purchase the goods which the primary producer (grows. Unless, we have a local population to “Consume a vast amount of what the Australian soils , are preeminently, : fitted to produce,we ; cannot make the best use of them. That is the argument . I, have put forward . in . this. Committee previously.
– Your ‘arguments are onlyexcuses.
– They. arenot excuses. They are reasons which go to show, in the most conclusive way, thatunless we-.are able to build up our Australian industries’ . and provide . a. local market for that which the rural producer grows, it is impossible to make the best use of our Australian ; soil. That is why. I have stood all through my political, life, ever since. I was able to think for myself, for the protection of Australian industries. I believe it is the only way in which we can get that real rural settlement which is ‘so ‘necessary for this country.’ ‘
.- One must compliment the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) on his speech. He ‘ dealt with the ‘ subject ably, from his own stand-point. He thinks that, in the long run, the policy of high Tariffs for Australian ‘industries will be the best for the primary producer. I do not think that any membersof this Committee will live long enough to see the end of the run. To my mind, an inordinate attempt is being made to foster secondary industries. We would all like tosee Australia manufacturing all her own requirements, but there is a limit to what the producer can afford to pay for it. There is not onethinking person in Australia, and certainly not one of the great newspapersof this country, but is. becoming alarmed at the evil of centralization,; which is increased by every move in the direction of higher Tariffs. When, this Committee, in its attempts . to foster secondary industries, offers better conditions to those industries than persons on the land can obtain, it aggravates the evil and increases that . centralized vote which clamours for more, and still more, protection. It -is impossible] for the small secondary industries of this country, with a - limited turnover ; and supplying a population of only 5,000,000 people,, to compete with other industries that are turning out the goods like lollies.
– Does the honorable member say it should not be’ done’?
– I saythat there is a point at which it becomes -too costly to be done. The industry which wehavejust dealt with is’ not self-contained-. We have to importthe raw material. In war time theraw material cannot ‘be obtained.
-Doesthe honorable’, member; suggest I that . wehaveto. import the.raw material to make barbed wire?.
– No. But we have just passed an.item to which that statement applies; and in connexion withthis Bill we have passed many. such, items. It is, often, contended that raw material should be admitted free in the interests of this orthat secondary industry.The item now beforethe,. Committee, and the one . previously dealt with, relate to the raw material’sof an industry very much more important than they. The cost of, these articles’ When manufactured inAustralia is far greater thantheir cost when’ manufactured in other countries owing to the small Australian output, the tremendous overhead charges, and the higher wages.Only onesection of the community has topay these ‘extra charges. If it is necessary for ‘the maintenanceof Australia to make the country self-contained, why.in- the name of all conscience,cannot the whole: of the. people bearthe . expense.?Iknow ofhundreds of people who have tremendous areas that they want to fence as a protection from the ravages of wild , dogs. and rabbits. With the small profit that they . get on their capital, they cannot , see . their way clear to purchase the netting, and are adopting poisoning and other antiquated methods to prevent the destruction of their crops and herds. On more than one occasion, the Minister forTrade and Customs, when arguing on this question, has. asked,”What amount of wire does a farmer employ, in fencing his crops ? ‘ ‘ By-and-by the question will be, “ What amount per acre does the Tariff add to the cost of machinery to a farmer ? “ I can point the Minister to a case where £30,000 has been invested ina. farming, property,on which the owner has lost money. He- made . -£250 profit one year; a loss of over £1,000 another year; and the net result of seven or eight years’ working was less than 5 per cent. return on his capital . When the Government comes along with its Tariff and wants to take this or that out of the profit - £120 for a harvester’, and . £20 for a binder - that little bit of profit is eaten into. I say that the labouring man on the farm is not getting a fair deal because his brother labourer in the city, working fewer hours, gets more money. This policy is forcing men off the land by making the conditions such that it is impossible for them to continue there. I would like to see the Senate’s suggestion accepted, and the manufacturers and labourers in the secondary industries bend a little, and make up the difference, instead of passing it all on, to the man on the land, whose produce is suffering , a slump in the market. The prices of primaay products are such, to-day- that it is impossible, for the man on. the land to buy. the things ..that he needs without screwing himself down, to the earth and working fifty, sixty, or seventy hours- a week. It is “up to” the working men and . the manufacturers of Australia tot contribute a- little.; I want, them to bear a share of, this burden, and not to pass it all, on , to the one sec-: tion. If the . Committee is. sincere in its desire to foster this industry, for the pro- duets of which only one -section of the community pays, it should do it by a bonus, so that! the whole community will share the expense. Australia would be more self-contained if the vast ruralparts of the continent were developed more rapidly, instead of the population being squeezed into four or five capitalcities. Those who are complaining of the centralization evil are aggravating it by inflicting this Tariff upon the comparatively few people who are still struggling on. the land.
.- Thehonorable memiber forSwan (Mr. Prowse) reminds me very much- of’ an.
Irish friend I was talking to recently. Speaking of. a gentleman with a reputation for generosity, he remarked, “Yes, he is a very generous man. What he has to. give away he still, keeps for himself.” The honorable member for Swan reminds me of that gentleman. He is so generous that , what he has to give a.,way he still keeps for himself. ; So that the cultivator of the soil shall be enabled to get cheap agricultural implements, he desires that the industrial working classes shall have it taken out of them. He suggests that the industrial workers of Australia should comport themselves like their cheapwages brethren in Europe; that they should “ bend a little “ and should take “ a little less,” in order that the man on the land may have a little more. No doubt, he would also agree with the manufacturer, who says, when the industrial worker complains about the highcost of living, that it is due to the people on the land wanting extortionate prices fortheir products, and suggests that the agricultural labourer should take a little less, in order that both these gentlemen should have a little more.
– Your constituents have to work the harder because of this Tariff:
– They do not not work at all at present:
– Some of them are working, but, unfortunately, at the present time, the majority of them are not, because of our old friend’s Codlin and Short. They cannot decide among themselves whether it will pay to exploit theminers of the Barrier. When it becomes profitable to do so again, the Arbitration Court will be honoured, and the award of the Court carried out by. the employers.
– It is strange that the workers at Broken Hill do not go on to the land.
– They go into it. They . go down into the mines to provide the , raw material that is afterwards manufactured and permits the man on the land to carry on. While our friends the manufacturers are endeavouring to point out that it is the agriculturists who are responsible for the high cost of living, et cetera, the producers’ representatives tell the workers, just as the honorable member for Swan has done, that, the whole- trouble’ is- due to the Tariff. If the contention of the honorable member for Swan is correct - and I contend that it is not- that the “ high Tariff “ will increase the cost of living, then under a high Tariff the wages of the workers will have to go up. Wipe out the Tariff and, according to the honorable member’s ‘argument, down will go the cost of living, and down will go wages also. The worker, whether he be employed in agricultural or secondary industries, if he has any brains at all, will see that he is only the # pawn that is used in the game between the agricultural exploiter and the industrial exploiter.
– Did you say agricultural exploiter?
– I did not know that there was such a person.
– Have you never been exploited?
– The class I represent do not exploit; they compete in the world’s markets.
– Either you exploit, or you are exploited. Either you are working somebody else, or somebody * else is. working you. I was endeavouring to point, out that this is a question in which there are two conflicting interests. It is a struggle to shift the incidence of the burden; it is a quarrel between the agricultural, importing, and manufacturing interests of Australia. We have the Minister coming along to the Committee with renewed strength after listening to a lecturette in another part of this building, and saying that hardly any one would object to his speech, except, perhaps, the honorable member for Russia - referring to myself. It is said that out of the mouths of babes and sucklings cometh forth wisdom. Out of the mouth of this Minister, perhaps inadvertently, has come a truth,’ though he may not be able to grasp the full significance of it. He is, perhaps, not aware that to-day Russia is the only country in the world run by a working-class Government. In that sense I do represent Russia, and I am proud of it.
– You have a big constituency.
– Yes, and an exacting one. The Minister again trots out the old wheeze that this particular industry is essential to the defence of the country; but can he name one industry in Australia which is not essential to its defence ? We were told during the war that not one industry could be named which was not essential to the defence of the country; and, in fact, every word the Minister has uttered in regard to the iron and steel industry in this regard could be applied with equal force to every other industry in Australia. We are told that for this reason the whole of the local market must be monopolized by the local manufacturer; and the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Prowse) tells us that the industrial worker must take less so that the local manufactories may be built up until they blossom into monopolies and Combines.
– I said that he must do his share.
– I have a fairly good idea of what the honorable member means by the worker’s share. But when compulsorily or voluntarily the worker has accepted less in order that local manufacturers may blossom forth into monopolists and ultimately become exporters, we shall find that he is again asked to take less in order that the manufacturing monopolists may be able to compete in the world’s markets with the more cheaply-produced goods pf other countries. Having assisted the manufacturer to monopolize the home markets, the worker must again take less in order that the monopolists may reach out and take” the other fellow’s markets. In the industrial revolution Great Britain certainly had a unique advantage by having a flying start, but even now it is introducing a Tariff under the plea of safeguarding its manufacturers from foreign competition, dumping, and so forth. The history of France, Germany, America, and every other industrial country, however, has been the same - first a Tariff, then monopolies and Combines, then overseas exports, then Imperialism, and with it the need for bigger navies and bigger armies, and eventually war. The working class are squeezed in peace time and then asked to sacrifice themselves in war time in order that the profits and dividends of the manufacturers and the combined interests of the wealthy classes may be safeguarded. Therefore, from my point of view, the workers have nothing to gain from a Tariff. I have not spoken for a considerable time upon this subject, and, therefore, take this opportunity of again emphasizing my view -point.
– After this Tariff has increased the cost of living to the workers in every sense you find that the miners at Mount Morgan have been asked to accept a reduction of 20 per cent. in their wages.
– I am pleased that the honorable member has become a convert to the proposition that the workers of this country should not accept a reduction of wages.
– I am not a convert to that proposition. I am merely pointing out what the action of your party has done for the workers.
– Does the honorable member suggest that because these mining companies are not getting sufficient protection they are asking the workers to accept a reduction of 20 per cent. in their wages?
– They are getting too much protection.
– Does the honorable member mean that because they are so well protected they want still greater profits ?
– My meaning is plain enough. The action of your friends has made the position of the worker worse, andyet he has been obliged to accept lower wages. The mines cannot carry on otherwise.
-The honorable member evidently means that the workers at Mount Morgan, and, I suppose, also at Broken Hill and other mining centres, have been asked to accept reductions in wages, not because the companies cannot afford to pay. them the award rates, but because they have too much protection. In that case he cannot support the demand of the companies that the men shall accept a 20 per cent. reduction in wages, because he contendsthat the companies are well able to pay the higher rate.
– I did not say that. I said that your friends have made the position worse.
– It is useless attempting to camouflage the issue with me. The Mount Morgan, Broken Hill, and Mount Lyell mining companies are seeking a reduction of wages, not because of any Protective Tariff, but for the same reason which actuates the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Prowse) and other honorable members, whether they represent manufacturing or agricul tural industries. They seek a reduction of wages so that the employers’ profits may be greater, and the workers’’ share less.
– Has not this Tariff increased the cost of labour?
– Employers do not employ people because they are philanthropists. The man on the land is not a philanthropist. He cultivates the soil in order to make a living, and if he employs others he does it in order to make a profit out of their labour.
– Of course.
– Very well. The manufacturer also employs men, and instals machinery for the same reason. The more men he is able to- employ the greater will be his profits, and the less he pays his men in wages the greater will be his own share of the profits. It is useless to talk about the workers bearing their share of building up an industry. At no time do the workers get anything approaching their share. ‘ The honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) says that it does not pay the mining companies to work their mines, but, according to the statements of the companies themselves, the mines are idle because, owing to the dislocation of Europe as a result of the war, there is no market for the metals they produce.
– As the price of copper is so low, it does not pay the Mount Morgan mine to work at the present cost of production.
– What the honorable member says about Mount Morgan applies also to Mount Lyell and Broken Hill. All these companies are in the samp boat, and, according to themselves, they cannot sell their product overseas.
– The honorable member knows that when they sell their goods they do not sell them in order to give them away. Time and again I have asked the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) to give me particulars in reference to the Broken Hill Company’s products. The Tariff makes no difference to them. The Prime Minister has told us that the metals produced by the Australian mining companies cannot be got. rid of because the world is flooded with metals at the present time, and any attempt to dispose of more would merely aggravate the position, but it suits the books of the mining companies to promulgate amongst the unthinking portion of. the populace the idea- that their mines are hung up because of extortionate demands made by the working men.
The CHAIRMAN (Hon. J. M. Chanter) . - Order. ! , I think this discussion is very wide of the item, before the Chair.
– The honorable member for Dampier was contending, by interjection, that our metalliferous mines are lying idle because of. the operation of this Tariff, and he argues that we ought to reduce this particular item, because of the adverse effect a high duty would have upon Australian labour. On the other hand, I am endeavouring to point out that the Tariff has -had actually nothing to do with the working or non-working of the particular mines in question, and that, therefore, his argument is absolutely fallacious in its application to this item. My attitude towards the Tariff is well known to honorable members, and I merely content myself with pointing out to the workers outside that this discussion, as with all Others we have had uponthe Tariff, really resolves itself into a contest between the importing interests and the manufacturing interests to get the better of one another irrespective of what’ may happen to the working’ classes as a whole. It is merely a competition between two sets of economic thieves to get at the working classes of this country, and, as a representative of those working- classes, I say that, as between these two sets of thieves, I have no preference.
– The Minister (Mr. Greene) is endeavouring to create one industry at the risk of destroying another which is our biggest and oldest-established industry. He went far afield to justify this duty when he talked about potatoes, because, while at times the price of potatoes is ruinously low, itis at other times extravagantly high. On the average, year in and year out, the potato-grower is not badly off. However, it is not a question of what effect the duty may have on the small inside farmer who merely needs barbed wire for renewals. It is the outside man who will have to bear the cost. It is in the outside areas that this heavy duty will certainly risk Australia’s future. I think, it right to remind the Minister that the outside country in South Australia would not to-day be occupied with sheep if it had not been . for the enormous outlay of capital which was undertaken in that: State for the erection of rabbit and dogproof fences. If the Government are interested in the farmers at all,- I may inform them that the amount of capital so invested in South Australia was more than the actual rent of. the country occupied. . If it had notbeen for that expenditure on rabbit and dogproof fences,, the outside country in South Australia now carrying sheep- would, as has been the case with some of the stations owned by the honorable member for Grampians, (Mr. Jowett), have had to go back to. occupation by cattle, and honorable members know what that would mean so far as the increase of population is concerned. Land-holders in South Australia, undertook that expenditure with prices then ruling, and prices to-day, are two and one half times higher, than they were then. Some of the other States are threatened with the invasion of ‘ vermin which land-holders in South Australia have been through, and at present prices there is much outlying country in the. other States that it would not pay to preserve from vermin.
– The honorable member should remember , that theprice of wool increased by three or four timeswhat it was at the time to which he has referred.
– The prices, of wool have, increased, and have been reduced again. To-day. . meat- is at zero. ‘ Meat is at such a- price -now -that on many of the interior -stations it cannot be. grown at. a profit.
– Growing . beef is no good at all to-day.
– That is so. Many outside stations are. to-day an absolute liability instead of an asset’ to their owners. In the circumstances, I ask the Government toconsider whether they are justified, at this particular juncture, in imposing this enormous impost on the occupiers of land. “I listened to what the Minister had to say as to the necessity of the establishment of works for the manufacture of iron and steel. I agree that, for our safety, we must have such a development, but if the development! of the iron and steel, . industry, by means of the Tariff is calculated . to do serious injury to the agricultural and pastoral industries, . then;I say that assistance should . be given, to theiron, and steel industry , in the -form of a bonus.
The- duties proposed on these items threaten the stability of one of our largest and most important industries, and the impost will fall on one section of the community. I remind the Minister again of the statement which was made bythe manager of ‘the company whenit was first proposed to establish the Newcastle Iron ‘Works. He is one of the biggest and brainiest men who ever came to Australia. In the matter of the development of the country, I, am . of opinion, that Australia owes him . a greater obligation than it owes to any other man who ever , came, here. I have the greatest admiration, for him. When he was. laying the plans for this big development of the iron and . steelindustry he said that as the raw materials were to be, obtained in the country the company would not need to come to . the . Government for assistance.
– What does he say now ?
-He . says something different . now,, and I admit that he is justified in revising hisestimate,. , because the conditions have altered.
– I can see that Dave Watkins has his’ eye on the honorable member.
-I know that he has. I sympathize with the honorable member for , Newcastle (Mr. Watkins). He is putting up a good.. case for . his. people, and they should, appreciate what he is doing for . them. I am trying to put up a case for one of the biggest industries, in this, country, which should not have to carry the burden which the Government propose , to place upon it. The conditions to-day are different from those which prevailed when Mr. Delprat made his first estimate as to the prospects ofthe iron and steel industry, . but they will not always remain as’ they are to-day. The prices of these items are two and a half times more to-day than they wereprior to the war, and I say’’ that, at the prices ruling to-day million’s of acres in Australia are threatened by vermin. The cost at present prices of rabbit and dpg-proof fencing - and to be any’ good there must be a large proportion’ of barbed wire in it - is such that people grazing sheep Cannot afford to fence against vermin, and they must walk off their’ country, and let it go back to the raising of cattle. In my opinion, the request of the . Senate in this matter is a reasonable one, though the duty suggested is considerably in: advance of that proposed in 1914. I think the Minister would do well to think the matter over again.
– The Minister let me down on a previous item.
– Yes,, and then he treated the- honorable member very well. The honorable member’s friends up north should think a lot i of him, and he should think a. lot of- the Minister. ,
.- I intend to support the request of. the Senate with all the means at my disposal, which arerepresented . merely by my vote, because the arguments for and against a high duty on these items have already been put . by both ‘sides. The Minister (Mr. Greene) has argued that if we agree ‘tothe duties’ ‘he proposes, . theresult will be that the cost of these materials will be. less. If “we could believe : that contention there would beno further debate, because all would be satisfied. The trouble is that we are. not. prepared to accapt the honorable gentleman’s view of thematter. I support the statements made by the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) and other honorable members, with regard to the injury which will be done, if we impose high duties on these items, to those who attempt to settle the outside districts, which it is . especially necessary in the interests of the people bf the cities should be’ developed.’ ‘The Minister said that the extra cost of fencing that would be involved by the duties proposed would amount to very little.’ . The extra cost of fencing annually involved on a well-estab- lishedfarmmaynotbe a serious matter, but the Minister overlooks the fact . that it is in the initial stages ‘of development, that the man’ on the land requires assistance. ‘ The honorable gentleman would not contend that because one man was carrying on a manufacturing industry profitably that would be a good reason for withdrawing a protective ‘duty operating in its favour. It has ‘been argued over and over again that -although some manufacturers may have successfully established an industry there are others whose factories are in . their infancy, and’ must be assisted. It is further said that we need competition in our own country, andfor these reasons we mustcontinue the imposition of protective duties. The same argument applies with equal force to the agricultural and pastoral industries. Because some farms are already protected against the ravages of rabbits or wild dogs, that is no reason why we should not come to the assistance of those commencing settlement in the back country. I am afraid that the Minister and other honorable members do not appreciate what vermin-proof fencing costs.
– I have put up a few miles of it.
-Then the honorable gentleman should know that the cost of fencing is a very serious item. To fence the boundary of a block of land 100 acres in extent would, at present prices, run into considerably over £1 per acre. If the block is to be subdivided into paddocks, which is very necessary for dairying and other branches of the industry, it will not be long before the cost of fencing on a 100-acre farm runs into something like £3 per acre.
– If I could not do the fencing for less than £3 per acre I would eat my hat.
– Has the Minister any idea of what it would cost at the present prices of wire to put a boundary fence around” a block of 100 acres 1
– It would cost about £75.
– I am sure that even in the districts where timber for posts could be obtained at a reasonable cost, no one could erect such a boundary fence for less than £1 per acre. The Minister must recognise that the subdivision of such an area into small paddocks is very necessary, and if he thinks that the fencing of the boundaries of a 100-acre block, and its . subdivision into the necessary paddocks, could be done for’ less than £3 per acre, then I can only conclude that he is quite out of touch with the cost of fencing at the present time. When this item was previously under consideration, I referred at some length to the ravages of the rabbit pest, and other honorable members had a good deal to say about the ravages of the wild dog pest. I do not wish to repeat what I said then, but it must be obvious to honorable members who know anything of the country districts that fencing against vermin is absolutely necessary iu all of the States if our lands are to be profitably used. The duties proposed constitute a very serious impost on the man on the land. Over and over again honorable members have affirmed that the one thing necessary for Australia is to people our unoccupied lands. Certain people take the platform and assert that what we require most is decentralization, and then they do everything possible to prevent it. It is in the interests of city dwellers more particularly that our country spaces should be occupied, and our large areas subdivided, so that the empty spaces of Australia may be put to the most profitable use. I- indorse the view expressed by some honorable members that an attempt is being made to bolster up certain industries at the expense of others which are certainly of equal importance. I invito honorable members to give special attention to that aspect of the situation. It is impossible to maintain the high wages that are being paid in the secondary industries if as the result of duties imposed to encourage them our mining and agricultural industries cannot be profitably carried on. Whilst certain honorable members in the interests of the workmen employed in the production of iron and steel and other secondary products desire the imposition of a high Tariff, it must be obvious to them that it is impossible to maintain the present high rates of wages in that industry if others of equal importance are, as a result of that Tariff, to be rendered unprofitable. Important although these secondary industries are, it is unfair to ask the agricultural and mining industries, which cannot benefit by high Protection, to bear the whole of the cost of the Tariff which we are imposing for the purpose of building them up. Throughout the consideration of the Tariff, I have supported what I have considered to be a reasonable measure of Protection, recognising that it is essential that new industries should be established. At the same time, I think that in respect of many items, and in the case of this one more particularly, we have overstepped the mark. I shall support the Senate’s request, and I sincerely hope the Committee will view it in the light that I do.
.- The majority of those who have spoken on the motion have supported the request made by the Senate. I wish to re-affirm my belief in the duties imposed under the item in the Tariff as sent to the
Senate. The people of Australia at the last general election declared for a policy of reasonable protection to all our primary as well as secondary industries. If we hope to develop this country, we must have regard to our secondary industries. For forty years a firm in New South Wales has been manufacturing barbed wire and wire netting. It commenced operations when blooms and rods were free, and was thus able to compete with the products of other countries. With the object of developing the iron and steel industry in Australia, we have now imposed heavy duties on rods and blooms - the raw material of the barbed wire and wire-netting industry - and it is therefore absolutely necessary that we should give reasonable protection under this item. Messrs. Lysaght Brothers, of Sydney, have employed as many as 1,400 hands. “
– The Minister (Mr. Greene) says that Protection will make things cheaper.
– I do not think any one will say that, but it must be conceded that a Protective policy helps to develop the country. It will help Australia to become more self-contained, and it also has the advantage of keeping in the country money that would otherwise be sent abroad. Why, for instance, should we be sending our wool to other countries to be manufactured into woollens and various other things for our use? Why should we not convert the raw material into the manufactured article here? By working up one-third of the Australian merino wool clip alone we could find employment for 500,000 additional hands in Australia. The effect of that increased employment in secondary industries would be felt by the primary producers, who would thus have a larger home market.
– ‘What has stopped us from working up our wool into the manufactured’ article?
– The lack of patriotism. What is to be said’ of a man who on the street corner urges the people to patronize Australian industries, yet obtains his own requirements from foreigners. Go into a big city house and ask for a suit of Australian serge, and you will be told “We do not make serges here.” We could produce them without trouble if the necessary encouragement were only forthcoming. In order to develop Australia we should stand by our secondary and primary industries. Messrs. Lysaght have been manufacturing wire-netting for forty years, and it is up to us to see they “ do not go to the wall “ for lack of protection. In February last they employed 1,400 men, some of whom had been in the trade for thirty years, but quite a number of them are to-day walking the streets, because, while we have imposed big duties on the raw material of the industry, we have not “sufficiently protected the manufactured article. Last week I obtained the latest figures with regard to German and Belgian barbed wire. Belgian barbed wire is quoted f.o.b., Antwerp, at £12 per ton, and German barbed wire, of the same gauge, at £15 per ton. It can be landed here, after payment of freight and duty, at £24 per ton, yet the same material cannot be made in Australia to-d’ay under £31 per ton. Why should we not keep the local industry fully employed?
– And tax the primary industry in order that that might be done?
– Not at all. If we tax the primary producers they will see to it that the man who has to buy over the counter recoups them.
– They cannot do it.
– But they can. We are producing more wheat than ever, and it is idle to tell me that men are going off the land.”
– Knibbs says that they are.
– If the number of people on the land is growing less, then those remaining must be acquiring larger areas. In this industry, in which 1,400 men were employed in February last, less than 500 are engaged to-day. I was told, only last week, by a member of the firm, that unless the Parliament took a reasonable view of the claims of the industry ‘ they would have to close down these works and import wire-netting. Would that be a fair thing to those who have spent years’ in learning the trade, and have- been employed in the industry for thirty or forty years?
– The honorable member’s argument is that this firm was able to build up a big industry when wire-netting was free, and thatnow there is a duty on wire-netting it is likely to close down.
– I explained that when their raw material was free they were able to carry on, but since their raw material has been taxed, with the object of building up the iron and steel industry, they require reasonable protection to enable them to carry on.We should carry our Protective policy to its logical conclusion. At a deputation which waited on the Minister for Trade and Customs in. Sydney recently, I heard evidence given by representatives of the New South “Wales branch of the Wire-netting Workers Union. Men with thirty years’ experience of Messrs. Lysaght’s Limited said that they desired to express their appreciation of the manner in which it had dealt with the union. Surely we have a right to consider a firm that has dealt fairly by its employees. I shall always be prepared to vote for the encouragement of Australian industries.
Question - That the requested amendment be not made - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.
Wire netting, per ton, British, 68s. ; intermediate,85s.:’ general, 105s.
Senate’s Request. - British, 55s.; intermediate. 75s.: general,95s.
– This is a similar request, and for the reasons already givenI move -
That the requested amendment he not made.
.- I should like- your ruling, Mr. Acting, Chairman, in regard to a question of procedure. I should like to know if, in the event of the motion submitted by the Minister (Mr. Greene) being- carried, the Committee will still be, in possession of the item. The Senate- having requested a reduction in. the duties,. I am given to understand that the Committee is quite within its rights in moving now for an increase or a reduction in the duties as requested by the Senate.
– The honorable member may move an amendment now ;. but if the motion proposed by the Minister (Mr.. Greene) be carried, he will notbe able to do so.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
.- In order to test the feeling of the Committee, I move -
That the requested amendment be made with the following modification: - “per ton, British, free; intermediate, 10s.; general, 10s.”
We have just listened to an important speech by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Marr), dealing with the progress made by this industry during the last forty years, and before these duties were imposed. Prior to March last wire netting was admitted free.
Mr.Fenton. - In pre-Federation days there was a duty of £3 per ton in Victoria.
– The industry, according to the honorable member for-
Parkes, is employing 1,400men. I had no idea it had grown to such proportions.
– Where are -they employed ?
– The honorable member for Parkes said they are employed in Sydney.
– There . is nothing like 1,400 men employed exclusively in the making of wire netting.
-I do not think the honorable member, when he spoke, realized that the Senate had requested a reduction of duties in a . subsequent item dealing with the iron and steel wire required for the manufacture of wire netting. On the Estimates there is . still a sum of £10,000 for the payment of bounties on the production of iron and steel. I do not know if it is the intention of the Government to offer these bounties in. addition to the enormous duties that have been imposed ; but it is . a very significant fact that no effort has been made to repeal the Act. I . suggest that, instead of the man on the land being called upon to bear the whole of the burden apparently necessary for the development of the wire-netting industry in this country, some proportion of the cost should fall on the general community. If the primary producer is to be encouraged to wire-net his property, in order to keep out rabbits and other vermin pests, and so increase production, it is essential that he should be able to get his requirements in the way of wire netting at a reasonable cost.
Mr.Fenton. - Do you think that if we had Free Trade in this industry tomorrow wewould get wire netting any cheaper-?
– Most decidedly, I do. Why ask such a foolish question?
– It is well known that a combination of importers is infinitely worse than acombination of local manufacturers.
– Does the honorable member suggest that the man on the land should be specially taxed - for thatis the effect of these duties - for the purpose of building up the wire-netting industry? Why should a pioneer have to pay the whole of the cost ?
Motion (by Mr. Greene) proposed -
That the requested amendment be not made.
Question put. The Committeedivided.
Ayes … … … 24
Noes … … … 11
Majority … … 13
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.
Senate’s Request. - British, 44s.
– This is another request by the Senate to reduce the British preferential duty to the level of that on rods. It is impossible to frame a Tariff on those lines; we are obliged to provide for each process a proper allocation of protection. I move -
That the requested amendment be not made.
Motion agreed to.
Agricultural, horticultural, andviticultural machinery and implements, n.e.i. ; including cane loaders,, cane unloaders, and cane harvesters : . . . ad val., British, 22½ per cent. ; intermediate, 30 per cent. ; general, 35 per cent.
Senate’s Request. - British, 15 per cent.; intermediate, 25 -per cent. ; general, 30 per cent.
.- This and the following six requests deal, for the most part, with agricultural implements. We adjusted these duties by adding 2½ per cent. to the duties that previously were in force to cover the protection on the raw material from which the implements are made - this, of course, is a rough and ready way - and then we raised the foreign duties 5 per cent. in favour of Great Britain. In that form these duties were passed by this Chamber; and the Senate has requested a reduction of the British preferential duty below the pre-war duty. The Senate has not taken into account the fact that we are now manufacturing this machinery entirely from our own raw materials. The request slightly increases the amount of British preference, it is true, but by reducing the duty on British goods by 7½ per cent., and the foreign duty by 5 per cent. I do not think that ought to be done. I am most anxious to see foreign machinery altogether cut out of the Australian market. We can make, and have made in the past, the best agricultural machinery that Australian producers have ever used, and it is to Australian inventors that this fact is due, particularly in the case of wheat. The Government are very anxious to see this industry still further developed. I am quite satisfied from figures that I have already given honorable members that it can be shown that the establishment of the Australian industry has led to the farmers getting their machinery at a lower price than they would if the industry had not been established.
– Moonshine !
– The honorable mem ber must admit that the American manufacturers, who are selling machinery in Australia,are accepting a lower price here than they do in other countries.
– The Australian farmer is paying more for his machinery than does the American farmer.
– That is true, but if the Australian farmer were as loyal to Australian machinery as the American farmer is to American machinery, I venture to say he would be paying a great deal less. The reason our own agricultural machinery manufacturers have not been able to reduce their prices is that they have always had this big influx of foreign machinery to face, and they cannot get the necessary turnover to enable them to reduce overhead charges, and, as a result, reduce costs. I do not think that we should accept the request of the Senate; we should not be justified in doing so. I regard the original duties on this machinery as moderate and as sufficient to effectively do that which we desire shall be done - secure for Australia the manufacture of practically all we require. I am glad to see that the Tariff is proving effective, and that one of our biggest competitors is coming to manufacture in this country. That is exactly what the Tariff is designed to do, not only to secure the manufacture here of what we require, and can manufacture, but to create within our own borders the necessary competition which I admit is in the circumstances desirable, and provide employment that heretofore has goneto other countries. This industry will result in the employment of a very large number of men. If the £1,500,000 worth of machinery, which the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) was talking about, is manufactured in Australia instead of abroad, in all probability it will mean the employment of at least 3,000 additional workers in this country.
– In Melbourne!
– What does it matter where the employment is given so long as it is in Australia ? These 3,000 additional workers, with their wives and families, will mean at least 9,000 persons; and when we take into consideration the butchers, the bakers, and all who administer to their needs, we have a population of at least 15,000 persons for whom work is found. This population, in its turn, will put hundreds of primary producers on the soil, and give them an immediate and ready market. That is the object of a Protectionist Tariff. It puts men on the land and keeps them there.
– Why has it not done so?
– It is doing so all over Australia to-day. Were it not for the secondary industries the primary producers would be in a parlous position.I am satisfied that if this country is to develop rurally as well as industrially, the only way is by the establishment of secondary industries. I move -
That the requested amendment be not made.
.- I hope the Committee will agree to the requests of the Senate. 1 am sorry that I cannot accept the view put before us by the Minister (Mr. Greene). I admire the honorable gentleman for his fidelity to that which he conscientiously believes, but I have grave reasons for thinking him convinced on wrong lines. He must manifestly be wrong in his deductions as to manufacturing in Australia developing rural industries. For eighteen years of Federation it might be said that Victoria and Melbourne were the great Protectionist centres, and did the most manufacturing; but during that period Victoria has increased her population by only 190,000 persons, whereas the population’ of Melbourne has increased by close on 220,000 persons. It will be seen that Melbourne not only absorbed the whole of the increase in the population, but. drew nearly 30,000 persons from rural parts. How can the Minister say that additional manufactures here have not affected the rural districts? The recent census has disclosed a similar state of affairs in all the States. The population of Western Australia during the decade increased by 48,000, while the population of Perth increased by 51,000. Necessary manufacturing is a good thing, but there should be a proper balance. Unless ‘there be a sale for the things manufactured, the manufacturing is to no purpose. All the money that we live on comes out of the soil. The agricultural machinery is paid for by what the soil produces - all comes from the soil. We should not do anything, to retard the proper development of the country districts, for that not only injures the primary producer, but every form of industry. There is no doubt about the logic of that. If we bring 3,000 additional people here to manufacture machines, it may be more than are necessary, and it means that there are a greater number to feed out of that produced by the people on the land. This additional number will clamour for higher wages and cheaper food, a demand which can be met only at the expense of the man on the land. I have no objection to the extension of these industries, but they ought to be established in reasonable proportion to the rural producer, who has to buy the costly output. At present, everything is out of proportion.
– We send millions of pounds out of this country every year. Would it not be better to employ the people here and provide additional customers for the products of those who wOrk , on the land ?
– I would like to see it done here; but if the primary producers have to pay £12,000,000 for machinery manufactured here, which would cost £10,000,000 outside, it is difficult to persuade them that they are being assisted when they have to enter into competition with those in other countries who are able to purchase agricultural implements at a lower rate. I am paying, at least, £120 more for a harvester than an American competitor, after deducting freight and all other incidental charges. An Australian wheat-grower is 9,000 miles farther from the world’s principal markets than an American primary producer, and it is time the members of this Committee began to study the question of Protection all round.
– That is the position in a country with a Protective policy. Give us a. chance, and we will do even better.
– The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) has repeatedly quoted the Protective policy of America; but does he not see that Congress has had sufficient foresight to admit agricultural machinery free, because it is highly essential in any country that primary production should not be hampered. Here we are bleeding the producers as if they were an insignificant section. We are not taking any lesson from statistics, and are bolstering up an industry to an extent that is not justified.
– Compare Canada with Australia, and how do you stand?
– Canada has lower protective duties than we have, and many of the principal countries in the world admit agricultural machinery free of duty. I believe that some honorable members are regarding the manufacturing business in the light in which the English manufacturers are considering it, although the position is entirely different. The British people make their money from their manufactures ; that is their means of livelihood and method of obtaining, new money. They sell their manufactures abroad, and that is how they derive capital upon which, to operate. We are a primary-producing country, and produce to derive the money on which Australia lives. It is very desirable if we can .manufacture the goods we require and save at both ends, but nobody would ^suggest that we should set manufactures above primary production, from which we. get the -whole of our money.
– They should be considered side by side.
– They ought to follow each other closely; but primary production should always precede and have preference. The Minister for Trade and Customs seemed to ridicule my interjection concerning the 3,000 employees, because he said, “ What of that?” It would1 be infinitely better if -that number of men were placed on the land, because there would then be an additional demand “for manufactured implements. Only this week a farmer in Western Australia -said, “I want another machine; but what a price - £230 for a harvester.” If the -costs are piled on -to falling prices there is likely to be further centralization, and when that reasoning is carried to the extreme it means that there will be no ohe in the country to earn the money. In such circumstances, for whom are we going to manufacture? We cannot sell to America unless the overhead charges are reduced. The only men to whom we can sell are those developing Australian land, and it is by the votes recorded in this Parliament that men are being driven off the land, and I warn honorable members not to assist in doing- anything in that direction. We speak of a Protective policy ; but what protection is being given’ to the primary industries which provide new money with which to pay our debts?
Mr. HECTOR LAMOND (Illawarra) f 10.81- - I do not intend to detain the Committee .at length, but in listening to a speech by an honorable member who claims to be logical I naturally looked for some logic in his utterances. His remarks have puzzled me a good deal. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Prowse) and those associated with -birm, are very fond of referring ‘to the people engaged in -primary industries as though, they were the only ones -who did any useful work in the community. ‘The man who produces wheat :is -not going Ito eat it as wheat. Before he consumes it hie must be raided -by those ‘who .convert .the wheat into flour, and ‘by those who make ‘.the four into, bread. It seems to me that these gentlemen, if they apply their logical minds to -the real facts, will find that instead of -directing their fight as they do against those who wish to develop the industries .of this .country, they would be better employed in attacking the parasites who exist on all classes. I am prepared to pay a little more for Australian wheat than for grain ‘that is imported, and I believe that I am interpreting -the -minds of a -majority of the Australian people aright when I say -that they .are prepared to pay more for .goods manufactured1 here -than -for those imported from -abroad, -and particularly those imported ;from cheap-labour countries, which seem to have such an attraction for some honorable members. The honorable .member for Swan .spoke .of the (growing demands -of the Australian workers, but he shut his eyes to the fact that the .American workmen are organized trade unionists, and the Canadians, for whom he nas so many .good words, are also highly organized. If the honorable member cares to ascertain the wages paid to the American workmen engaged in the manufacture of agricultural implements he will find that they are receiving a good deal more” than the Australian workmen. Therefore, the oratory we heard a moment ago concerning the difficulties and high wages associated with Protection all goes by the board; because it- has ria bearing on the matter whatever. The honorable member for Swan delights in quoting figures, and submits tables when it suits his case; but he failed to tell us what quantity of these goods were imported into America under a free Tariff. As a fact, America deals with Canada, and ‘Canada with America, and that is the end of the agricultural machinery Tariff. There are practically no importations of agricultural machinery into the United States of America, and I believe the time will come .when our agricultural machinery will be made under such conditions that importations will cease also. I am sure that if protection were needed to safeguard the American, industry, it would be afforded.; but the industry -has been developed in America under ‘the -highest [Protective Tariff in the .world; and if, as the honorable ‘member says, it has resulted in the production of the cheapest’ agricultural machinery in the world, she has set Australia an example which we ought to be proud1 to follow.
.- I was anticipating that the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) would have made some concession in regard to these duties. When the Tariff was previously .under discussion, the matter was fully debated, and it is not now my intention to repeat the arguments that were then adduced. Careful consideration has been given to the matter in another place, where it has been suggested that the duties should be reduced to some extent. The honorable member for Illawarra (Mr. Hector Lamond) referred to the manufacture of agricultural implements in America, and the statement has been made that lower wages ar.e paid therethan in Australia. That is far. from the fact, because I quoted a statement made by Mr. Brownley, a Labour leader,, who was. sent to America in. May last to report on, the- question of wages in the industry. He found that the American workman: in the iron; and steel industry was- receiving’, on the aver age 3s. Id. per hour, as against ls. Sd. in Great Britain. I. gave figures^ from the Australian and Canadian Te.ar-Boo3c.-s. showing that th«» wages paid to workmen- in the machinery manufacturing industry in Canada were 34 per cent, higher than those paid in Australia. It is strange that the Canadian farmer should be able to obtain a reaper or a binder for £60, while the Austalian farmer has to- pay £102 or £103 for the same machine All the advice I had was that those reapers and binders had been landed in Australia in November and December, 1920, and were being sold on a duty of 10 per cent. With an: extra duty of 45 per cent, the price would be £130.
– Do you- think the price” will go up to £130 ? ,
– I have not seen this year’s figures, but the Minister has not been fair and generous to the Committee. I protest strongly against the attitude he took up the other night, when he gave a lecture on the want of loyalty on the part of honorable members. The want of loyalty has been on the part of. the Minister himself .
– What is wrong, now ?
– Everything- is wrong. Honorable members will recollect that I challenged” the Minister, and asked him to let us have the information received regarding the price at which reapers and binders were being sold to the producers in Canada and the United States of America. The Minister had that information. I was aware that he had sent for it, and after pressure we had it placed on the table in the Library. To the cost of the machine the Minister added the exchange fixed here to Canada, raising the cost of the machine by £6. The exchange had nothing to do with the matter. The Canadian farmer paid in Canadian money, and the fact that there was a difference in exchange values of about £17 in £100 at that time made no> difference in the price the Canadian farmer had- to pay. He gave £60, while tha farmer in Australia had to pay from £96 to- £102.. Probably the price will, come down. We know that wages are- being- reduced, and that there has been a big reduction in the cost of iron and steel since the war; that is why the Minister has- been so anxious, in connexion with many of the iron and steel duties. The principal things-needed in Australia to-day are population and1 production. When the back country is settled there will be ample demand1 for- the output of our great manufacturing- in-, dustries, and I hope there will be a market that will give the producers machinery at the same prices as obtain: in other countries. I very much- resent the attitude the- Minister has adopted on manyoccasions. He is looking after the interests of the manufacturers only, and. he has persuaded honorable- members opposite that, in supporting him,, they are doing what is best for the workers. I object to the way in which the suggestions of the Senate are being treated. I had hoped that, after the care taken in another place, more favorable consideration would be given to the requests sent down
– Why should eleven senators know more than seventyfive members of the House of Representatives ?
– There- were never seventy-five members- present. I do not suppose- there were in, this Chamber a dozen members who took the slightest intersest in the Tariff. Many honorable members simply came in and recorded their votes on the side the Minister was on. I object to the statement that there were eleven senators guiding the destiny of the Tariff.
– I beg your pardon. I have been informed that there were only seven.
– There were only seven members in this (chamber when the Minister tried to put through the Anti-Dumping Bill. Our exports of agricultural machinery from Australia, prior to the imposition of the very heavy imposts, were exceedingly large, but during 1919-20 the total exports in agricultural, horticultural and viticultural implements was only £2,372. In reapers and binders the exports amounted to £1,213; in stripper harvesters, £925; and in strippers, £261. Of all classes of implements and machinery, the exports amounted to £24,000.
– Let us get tobed.
– No ;. unless the Treasurer puts the “ gag “ on, and he can do that as soon as he likes. We were “promised consideration, butwe found that, two years before, Mr. McKay had got a promise that a 45 per cent. duty would be placed on reapers and binders.
– Who told you that ?
– Mr. McKay told me.
– You say “we.”
– I am speaking of the members of the House. I naturally concluded that the Treasurer, who was such an earnest believer in Free Trade-
– Areyou a Free Trader?
– You are the best imita- tion I have seen of one for a long time.
– There are members here who believe in prohibition. The honorable member forMaribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) has stated openly that he would like to see all goods made in Australia. If he had his way he would have prohibition. The Minister for Trade and Customs had not the courage to go so far as that, but he proposes duties which are the next thing to prohibition. The result has shown the fallacy of very high duties. I am satisfied that if we had comparatively low duties our industries would be built more strongly than with very high duties. Good manage ment is, of course, always a factor in success. It is not every man who could have done what Mr. McKay has done. But the Sunshine works were established under the old Tariff and low duties; it was not high duties that made them successful.
– This duty is only an increase of 2½ per cent.
– The duties vary from 22½ per cent, to 45 per cent. The Minister is speaking of one item, but I think it better to deal . with the agricultural machinery duties as a whole. If the Minister studies the schedule he will see that it applies to machines most of which are not made in Australia. The rates provided for in item 161 are revenue rates. Personally, I do not regard such items as of much importance. But the duties on reaper and * threshers, reaper and binders, hay rakes, and machinery of that sort are important. This machinery has but a short life, and is very expensive. It should not be dearer in- Australia than in other countries. Our workmen are the equal of those of other countries, but our methods must be defective if they require duties of 45 per cent. to protect their industry. The persons employed in our workshops can get nearly all the machinery they need practically free of duty, but the farmers pay highly for everything they have to buy. The Minister has told us that under item 174 millions of pounds’ worth of goods have been admitted duty free; but why should one section of the community get . its machinery free while the primary producers pay heavily? Surely the Committee has some sympathy with, members who are striving for fair play for the primary producers. I shall not detain honorable members longer now, but unless they are prepared to give those whom I represent some consideration, I shall quote statistics at greater length on another occasion.
.- The honorable member for Illawarra (Mr. Lamond) criticised the speech of the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Prowse) as illogical, and stated that low wages are paid in America. The honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory), however, proved conclusively that the wages paid in America are higher than those paid in Australia. That seems to count for nothing with the Committee in the present argument. But why should Aus- tralian manufacturer? charge more for the machinery that they supply to the Australian farmers than the American manufacturers charge for the machinery supplied to American farmers 1 When the American manufacturers compete in this market they are handicapped, not only by the duties, but by freights and exchange. Furthermore, our manufacturers sell their machines in the Argentine for leas than they charge in Australia, and therefore any want of patriotism that there may be in this matter is not on the Bide of the farmers.
– Does the honorable member think that on a redistribution of electorates he will get farming constituents)
– There are many farmers in my electorate. In September last these men were paying £80 for a reaper and binder, but the price of that machine went up to £100, and now it is still higher. The price of the reaper and thresher has increased, and a decent-sized harvester now costa nearly £200. If Australian manufacturers ‘ can sell more cheaply in the Argentine than they sell in Australia, why do they need extra protection? Agricultural machinery is admitted free into sixty-eight countries. There are forty countries in which slight duties are imposed, and only one in all the world which has established a prohibitive duty. That country is Great Britain. Secondary industries are as necessary as primary industries; the one group should work with the other. But . unless farming life is made more attractive, and farmers afforded some fair amount of assistance, we cannot hope to keep primary industries going. I doubt if any honorable member would, as a matter of principle and practice, pay more for Australian machines, or goods, or articles in preference to purchasing cheaper imported lines. Price governs the buyer’s selection almost every time ; the origin of the article is seldom worried about. I desire to help Australian industries, but I do not propose to abet Australian manufacturers in charging a higher price for these machines than is paid in the Argentine. The request of the Senate is fair, and should be acceded to.
.- Milking machines are among the manufactures embraced in the group under discussion.
It is rather curious that there has been no consideration of the manufacture of these machines since the Tariff was introduced. Previous opportunities for suggesting that, in the interests of the dairying industry, milking machines should be admitted duty free, have been missed; and, unfortunately, the Minister (Mr. Greene) is absent from the chamber at this moment. I desired information concerning the extent of the manufacture in Australia ; and I had hoped to succeed in pressing upon the Minister the fairness of admitting the machines free of duty. “Shortly before the Tariff Bill was despatched to another place, I pleaded for the recommittal of this item, but I had to be content with a promise that my arguments and suggestions would bc gone into, and that, if my representations impressed the Minister and Ms Department, certain steps would be taken elsewhere. Nothing was done, however. I presume that the Minister was not convinced of the wisdom of permitting milking machines to be imported free of Customs charges. If child labour is to be eliminated from the dairying industry, and if dairy-farmers are to be given reasonable encouragement, my suggestion should be adopted.
– I am informed that departmental inquiries have been made, and that it has been ascertained’ that eight Australian firms are making milking machines.
– That is news to me. I have not been able to discover them. T know of one machine which is said to be manufactured in Australia, but I understand that only portion of it is made here. In any case, the degree of protection afforded to local manufacturers is more than ample. In the circumstances, all I can hope for is that the request of the Senate will be agreed to.
.- The Government should consider whether they cannot fairly and reasonably give way upon the matter under discussion. By their unsympathetic attitude, honorable members lay themselves open to a charge of deliberately favouring, if not actively helping, a body of exploiters in this country.
House adjourned at 10.60 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 2 November 1921, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1921/19211102_reps_8_97/>.