9th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Rt. Hon. W. A. Watt) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
Proportion of British Manufacture
Mr.FENTON.- I understand that negotiations are now proceeding with other British dominions for the purpose of arriving at uniformity in regard to the minimum proportion’ of British manufacture in goods that will he eligible for admission’ under the preferential tariff applied by the dominions to British goods. If the majority of the dominions should agree to the proportion of British manufacture being, say, 60 per cent., and Australia desires the proportion to be 75 per cent., will the Commonwealth be entitled to follow its own course, or will it be bound by the decision of the majority?
-The negotiations are, I hope, drawing to a successful close, and if the honorable member will place his question upon the noticepaper, I shall give him an answer cm Tuesday.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until Tuesday nest at 8 o’clock p.m.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Customs Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1924, No. 140.
New Guinea Act- Ordinances of 1924 -
No. 32.-Supply (No. 2) 1924-25.
No. 33. - Transfer of Land Control (No. 2).
Leave Pay - Boys’ Termof Service - flinders Base.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are - 1 and 2. No alteration has been made in leave conditions. The only alteration which occurs whilst a member is on leave is that he receives, in addition to his ordinary pay, a cash allowance of1s. 9d. per diem in lieu of rations.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– -The answers to the honorable member’s questions are-
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Is it a fact that the Government are now acting as agents for the Boucaut Bay Company to the detriment of local agents?
-No. On the 17th September, the Administrator asked that he be given the requisite authority to enable him to ensure the prompt despatch of the John Alce on her recent voyage to Elcho Island, or, alternatively, that he be advised as to who is at present the company’s accredited agent at Darwin. This authority was duly given to him by the company but it was limited to the occasion referred to. The company has been requested to arrange, at the earliest possible moment, for the appointment of a local agent, and it has undertaken to do so.
Importations from South Africa.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Is it a fact -
– Inquiries are being made, and a reply will be furnished in due course.
asked the Minister for
Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– It is not usual to furnish information that discloses the business of individual firms. It is therefore regretted that the particulars sought cannot be supplied to the honorable member.
– On the 5th Septem ber, the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) asked -
I am now able to furnish the honorable member with the following information : -
£107,980. The demands include-
Portions of the amount were demanded as cash deposits to cover any duty found to be due, and were taken to facilitate prompt delivery.
£101,881, of which £32,159 was subsequently refunded. The refunds include -
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) agreed to -
That a charge at the following rates be imposed on all butter and cheese exported from the Commonwealth after a date fixed by Proc lamation under the act passed to give effect to this resolution, subject to lower rates being, prescribed by regulations made under that act -
That the charges imposed in pursuance- of this resolution shall cease to be imposed upon a date fixed by Proclamation under the act passed to give effect to this resolution as the date upon which that act shall cease to be in force.
Standing Orders suspended ; resolution adopted .
That Mr. Bruce and Mr. Pratten do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. Bruce, and read a first time.
– I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
This measure is complementary to the Dairy Produce Export Control Bill, which was passed by this House during the last few days. In that bill provision was made for the disposal of moneys to be obtained under a levy to be imposed by this related measure, which is now before the House. It provides for the imposition of a levy at a rate not exceeding1/8d. per lb. upon all butter exported, and at a rate not exceeding 1-1 6d. per lb. upon all cheese exported. The rate may be such a rate as the Governor-General may, , after report by the Minister, prescribe by regulation, but it cannot under any circumstances exceed one-eighth of a penny per lb. upon butter and one-sixteenth of a penny per lb. upon cheese. The purpose of the levy is to provide a fund for the work to be carried out by the Control Board. A principle underlying such measures as this is that the industries concerned shall finance their own operations. Any expenditure by the board will, of course, be an expenditure of the producers’ money, and the board will be answerable to the producers for the manner in which that money is expended. It will, of course, be necessary to provide for the ordinary administrative work of the board, and, no doubt, also for a certain amount of propaganda and advertising to give effect to the general purpose of the bill, which is the orderly and proper marketingof Australian dairy produce in Great Britain and other countries. I commend the measure to the House.. The principle that a. levy should be made to provide for the financing of the Board of Control is generally accepted by honorable members.
– I regret, that the Prime Minister did not tell theHouse the exact amount that will be raised by this levy.
– It will depend upon the season-.
– The anticipated figures on the exports for 1924-5 are £46,000; for butter and £1,000 for cheese. That is, on the basis of a levy of one-eighth of a penny a lb. and one-sixteenth of a penny a lb. respectively. The total would be £47,000.
– That is close to the figure that I quoted when speaking last Friday on the second reading of the Dairy Produce Export Control Bill. I then estimated that the levy, based upon the exports for the last three years, would amount to £50,000. The House should know how this money will be expended. The board is obviously too unwieldy. It would be preferable to appoint a smaller board composed of- dairy experts. There is really no necessity for a board of thirteen members, with a large staff,, to control the export of dairy produce’. This. Government has. a greater inclination to* create unnecessary boards than had any previous Government. When this Administration came into power its one aim, judging by the speeches then made bysome of its member, was the restoration of responsible government,, yet it has established a record in the appointment of unwieldy boards. For instance, a large board has been appointed to control the Commonwealth Bank, which institution Government members before taking office said should be controlled by a Minister. I recognize that the dairying industry should be controlled by a board of experts, but there is no necessity to raise £50,000 by way of a levy on the producers.
– That will be the maximum expenditure.
– It is proposed to make a straight-outlevy of oneeighth of a penny per lb. upon butter alone.
– The levy is not to exceed that amount.
-Judging by experience, the maximum’ expenditure, will be reached. Clause 21 of the Dairy Produce Export Control Bill places no limitation upon expenditure by the board. When that bill was at the second-reading, stage the Acting; Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Anstey). moved an amendment to strike out certain words in clause. 21 to limit the expenditure of the board. That amendment being defeated the board will have a free hand to expend, at all events, up to £50,000 in travelling expenses and in other directions.
– What is the ostensible purpose of the expenditure?
– The Prime Minister has not. supplied that information to the House.
– It is for advertising; and a very good object, too.
– The honorable member does not think that £50,000 will be expended in advertising.
Mr.Foster. - Yes, if it pays the board to advertise to that extent.
– We do not know what salaries will be paid to members of the board. We are now asked to agree to a levy that will place an extra burden upon dairymen who are already heavily taxed. When speaking on the second reading of the Dairy Produce Export Control Bill, I stated that the burden borne by the dairymen in the form of levies amounted to £100,000 annually. Those people are in a bad way. There is no calling that is more exacting than the dairying industry. We should be failing in our duty if we placed a further burden upon these people without information being given to us respecting the expenditure by the board. I propose, in committee, to move an amendment to reduce the amount of levy upon butter from1-8d. per lb. to at least1-16d. per lb. Before honorable members agree to the bill I should like them to obtain figures respecting this proposed expenditure and the burdens already placed upon the dairymen of this country. I am satisfied that the people engaged in the dairying industry will not agree to this proposal. A poll of the dairymen is to be taken concerning the operation of the Dairy Produce Export
Control Bill, and one of the things that will help to defeat it will be this proposed levy of £50,000. Without the fullest information it is impossible for honorable members to support the bill.
Mr.W. M. Hughes. - Does the other bill provide for the taking of a poll?
– Will this bill be affected by the poll?
– The poll is to be taken to decide whether the producers shall accept the other bill. They certainly should also have full knowledge of this bill. Beyond saying that the £50,000 will be required for advertising and administrative purposes, the Prime Minister has given no information whatever. There should be some limitation placed upon the expenditure of the board. Our first consideration should be for the milk suppliers of this country, and I shall not support any proposal to place an extra burden upon their shoulders in the form of unnecessary expenditure. This expenditure must be considered unnecessary so long as there is no information available respecting it.
Mr.R. GREEN (Richmond) [11.29], - I cannot understand the purport of the amendment moved by the honorable member for Hume.
– There is no amendment before the House.
– I mean the amendment that he has outlined.. The honorable member protested strongly against the appointment of a board of thirteen members. The Inter-State Dairy Conference first of all asked for a board of seventeen members, who would be truly representative of the whole of the people engaged in the industry. Later the Government proposed a board of ten, and this Parliament has agreed to appoint one consisting of thirteen members. This is quite agreeable to the representatives of the dairying industry, who were present in the House during the discussion of the Dairy Produce Export Control Bill.
That bill makes provision for the appointment of an executive of five members, who will carry out the work of the board. The board need not meet more than twice, or at the most three times, a year to frame the policy to be adopted for the development of the industry. That policy will be put into operation by the executive, which will consist of only five members. Then a London board of three members will be necessary to look after the marketing of our products in Great Britain. However sympathetic the members of these boards may be to the industry, they must be paid for their services. The provisions of the New Zealand act have been followed in this measure, and I point out to the honorable member for Hume that a levy of1/8d. per lb. on the butter exported, and1-16d. per lb. on the cheese exported is the maximum. It does not follow that the charge will be permanent, for the board may find, after it has been operating for some time, that a smaller levy will be sufficient for its purposes. On the other hand, if the producers find that the board is spending its income carelessly, and is not securing a proper return for the money, they can elect a new board. There is no need for the honorable member for Hume to move the amendment that he has foreshadowed, for the reasons, first, that the board has to submit to Parliament an annual report and statement of accounts; secondly, that the producers are safeguarded in that provision is made for them to elect a new board from time to time; thirdly, that the accounts of the board must be submitted to the Commonwealth Auditor-General for audit; and, fourthly, that the levy is the maximum which the board can impose, and that it is quite conceivable that it may find that a smaller levy will provide sufficient money for its purposes. The members of the board will be actuated by a desire to promote the welfare of the industry, and are not likely to do anything to its detriment. Prom the tenor of the remarks made by the honorable member for Hume,I am compelled to conclude that he would oppose the provisions of this bill, whatever amount the Government had fixed as the maximum levy. I am satisfied, also, that he would have opposed the Dairy Produce Export Control Bill, whether the Government had proposed a board of three members or a board of seventeen, as suggested, in the first place, by the Interstate Dairy Conference. . The dairymen have agreed to the imposition of 1/8 d. per lb. on butter exported, and 1-1 6d. per lb. on cheese exported. In the meetings that I addressed in my electorate on this measure, I put the position clearly, and the producers heartily supported the proposal.
– The scheme that the honorable member presented to those meetings was very different from, the one that has been agreed to.
– I must admit that the Dairy Produce Export Control Bill does not go so far as I desired ; nevertheless, I am convinced that it will be of considerable benefit to the industry. The application of the levy provided for in this measure is limited to produce exported. Seeing that only one-third of our produce is exported, the levy amounts to but onetwentyfourth of lcl. per lb. on the butter produced in Australia, and that is an infinitesimal amount. We are entitled to look at the matter from that point of view, for the whole of. the industry will benefit from the provisions of the measure. I sincerely hope that the bill will be passed quickly.
– I welcome this bill, for I see great possibilities in the extension of the principles involved in its provisions. For instance, we could impose an export tax on greasy wool, the result of which would be that our wool would not be exported, but would remain in this country, and would be manufactured here. That would provide employment for hundreds . of thousands of people. No one can deny that it would be in the best interests of Australia to keep our wool here and manufacture it into cloth, rather than send it abroad and import the cloth which is manufactured from it. An export tax could also be imposed on sheepskins, the consequence of which would be that the skins would not be exported, and that manufacturing processes would be established in Australia to treat them. The adoption of a general policy of this kind would make for great prosperity in Australia, and our people would not remain hewers of wood and drawers of water, but we should become a great manufacturing nation. In my boyhood wheat was exported from the United States of America to Great Britain, until the Government of the United States of America put an export tax on unmilled wheat, the result of which was that a big milling industry was established in the United States of America. Why should we not establish a great milling industry in Australia, and, instead of exporting our wheat, export flour and other byproducts of the wheat? Who can imagine the great prosperity that would be experienced in Australia if we manufactured all our wool, wheat, and other raw materials, and sent the manufactured product instead of the raw material abroad? I give this bill my blessing, for I can see great possibilities in the general application of the principle behind it when the Labour party is returned with a majority to this Parliament.
– I consider this a very good bill, and I propose to support it. The honorable members for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney) and South Sydney (Mr. E. Riley), no doubt, have an extensive and varied knowledge of cows, but they appeared not to know what they were talking about when they were discussing the bill. The measure gives effect to a principle in which I firmly believe, and the application of which I consider to be absolutely essential to the progress of this country, and, indeed, to the very existence of our great primary industries. We have been told that this proposal violates certain great principles, but I do not know what those principles are. I do know, however, that if Ave are properly to market our primary produce overseas organization is essential. The proper overseas marketing of our products is impossible without organization. The principles which, we are told, are overridden by the provisions of the bill are, in my opinion, in conflict with the facts of life, and, therefore, the sooner they are scrapped the better. The only principles which matter are those which make for the welfare of the whole community. We must settle people upon the land. The dairying industry certainly has few attractions for the adventurous, the romantic, or the ambitious, for it carries with it the acceptance of conditions extolled in that very uncomfortable book of
Dr. Smiles, Self Help. Those engaged in the industry must rise at an early hour in the morning and work throughout the long day on their meagre allotments, deriving such pleasure as they can from hearing from others of what goes on in the busy world at a distance. What are the objections to this proposal ? The honorable member for Richmond has suggested that the board may not spend all the money that it will derive from the imposition of the proposed levy. If it does not do so, it will be composed of men who should not be on it. The duty of the board will be to boom Australian butter in the markets of the world; to make the people of Great Britain and Europe, and wherever else our butter may be exported, believe :that it is the best butter in the world, and that, therefore, they ought to buy it. If our butter is properly packed and graded, it will be the best butter in the world, but that fact cannot be impressed upon the people in other countries by the mere making of speeches here, where we cannot buy any other butter. In Great Britain our butter has to compete against Danish, New Zealand, Irish, Siberian, Argentine, and local butter, and there is a prejudice in that country against what is termed the “ colonial “ and the “ foreign “ article. In that market we have to meetkeen competition, which every year grows keener. Who is to pay for this scheme? Very properly, the men engaged in the industry will j>ay for it, who are those most concerned. They have considered the matter, and have agreed at last to do what they should have done many years ago. As I have said, I believe in the principle contained in the bill, and favoured its application to the beef industry. It is a sound principle, and ought to be applied to the control pf all those Australian products that have to be marketed overseas. When in America I found that, although the import tariff there did not necessarily exclude our products, regulations were ingeniously contrived to do so. Such regulations can be combated only by publicity, and publicity costs money. As money does not come by fair words, earnest exhortations, or prayers, it is proposed in this instance to levy a tax of £d. per lb. on all butter exported. I am perfectly satisfied that if- the right men are appointed on the proposed executive of five, the money spent in furtherance of the scheme will be well spent, and the dairymen will have reason to consider that they never did a better thing than agree to it. I recall the time when there was no organization of the dairying industry in this country, and the price of butter then fluctuated in the course of twelve months between 6d. and 2s. 6d. per lb. When few persons had any to sell it was 2s. 6d. a lb. ; when everybody had it, it was 6d. Organization was introduced later, and cool storage provided, and now we have virtually a uniform price throughout ‘ the year, and, looked at fairly, not an excessive price. I have expressed no astonishment at the attitude of the two honorable members to whom I have referred, because it is their business to point out any little short-comings in the Government’s proposals. Personally, I express my keen satisfaction at the conversion of certain gentlemen who sit around me; it is most gratifying. The bill has the support of the dairymen, and they, we must suppose, understand their own business.
– The honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. W. M. Hughes) must have caused cold shivers to those honorable members opposite who were responsible for cutting his political throat because of his socialistic tendencies. When they see him upholding the principle of the bill and giving it his blessing, it should be condemned in their eyes. If the honorable member had been here when the previous bill was under consideration, he would know that every honorable member on this side supported its principle. What we opposed was the unwieldy and expensive character of the proposed board. The fluctuation in the price of butter from 6d. to 2s. 6d. should be approved of by honorable members opposite. They believe in “ no interference with the law of supply and demand.” By that law, butter, when it is scarce, should be dear, and when it is plentiful, should “be cheap. To keep butter at a uniform price of 2s. a lb. when it is plentiful and when it is scarce is a negation of1 the principles for which those honorable members stand, for that is interference with the law of supply and demand. The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green) took great pains to show that the charge of Jd. is a maximum. The view of honorable members on this side is that aa a maximum it is too high.With a board of thirteen members in Australia, and a sub-board of three members in London, making a total of sixteen members, the levy will work out at. about £3,000 each. These boards will employ expensive retinues of servants, who will have to be paid travelling allowances and expenses, and when these things are considered it seems probable that the maximum of1/8d. will be imposed. The honorable member for Richmond cunningly pointed out that the1/8d. would be levied on only one-third of the butter produced, and would thus amount to only1-24d. per lb. on all butter. Many factories do not export butter. The information given by the honorable member would have been acceptable if it had been authoritative. Such information should be given by the Prime Minister.
– Can the honorable member name a butter factory that does not expert butter?
– I cannot be expected to name them.
– The honorable member cannot name them.
– Honorable members opposite have mentioned that some factories do not export butter. The exporter, and not the manufacturer, will pay the tax.
– Does the honorable member suggest that the board will spend all this money?
– I suggest to the honorable member that, with his knowledge of the boards created by this and the previous Government, he must know that the board will go to the full limit of the expenditure allowed. I go farther than that, and say that it will assume powers that Parliament never intended it to exercise. We know what happened with the Central Wool Committee. A firm in the electorate of the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. E. Riley).
– The honorable member cannot discuss the provisions of a bill that has been passed. The bill before the House relates to a levy to be made on certain people.
– I am endeavouring to show that the board should not be given this amount of money to play with. With the money provided by the dairymen, it will probably fight them. That happened in the case of the Central Wool Committee, which would not allow Mr. F. W. Hughes to manufacture wool taken from his own sheepskins. I predict that the butter producers will find themselves, in the course of time, fighting this board, and that the board will use their money to fight them. We should be very careful in allowing the board to handle such large sums of money, particularly when it is given such unrestricted power in the spending of it.
– Have not the dairymen a remedy in their own hands?
– The dairymen have no remedy. The board will not be elected by the rank and file of the dairymen. An amendment was moved from this side to give the dairymen the right to elect the controlling body.
– Indirectly, the dairymen will, through their representatives, elect the controlling body.
– The factis often lost sight of that many so-called co-operative companies are managed as joint-stock companies, and that it is not the suppliers, but the shareholders, that elect the board of directors. Honorable members opposite refused to support a proposal to give the suppliers of milk the right to elect the majority of the members on the board, and the result is that the suppliers of milk will have no effective control over the board. For that reason I support the amendment suggested by the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney). If it should become necessary to provide more funds for the board, Parliament would readily vote the money if the. board was doing its work efficiently. A tax of1-16d. per lb. would produce £25,000, which is quite sufficient for the board to play with until Parliament has had an opportunity of seeing what it can do.
– The levy will never be felt by the dairymen.
– It does not appear to be very much from the point of view of the individual, but a tax of £50,000 on the industry is a heavy burden. Honorable members opposite seem suddenly to have developed broad views. They argue as if sums of £50,000 here and £50,000 there do not matter. I remind them that it was the last straw that broke the camel’s back. The men in the dairying industry are already carrying an almost intolerable burden, and anything added to it may be like the last straw on the camel’s back. The representatives of country electorates have been working hard for a long time to get relief for these people through the medium of rural banks.
– This levy will be compensated for by the improved prices that will be obtained for butter sent oversea.
– It is very doubtful whether improved prices will be received. I am afraid that if the dairymen expect to receive higher prices they will be disappointed. If the board achieves everything honorable members opposite expect of it, it will provide a very strong argument in condemnation of the methods of private enterprise.
– We are now introducing compulsory co-operation in place of a cut-throat system.
– Honorable members opposite have displayed a remarkable conversion during the last few weeks to some of the principles espoused by the Labour party. Parliament will be meeting again probably early next year, and if it can be shown that the board has rendered efficient service, the sum that it is empowered to levy can be increased. The less money that such a board has to spend, the better for the producers.
.- I am glad to know that the dairymen will have a voice in the matter before the scheme comes into operation. In an industry worth £16,000,000, I realize that the expenditure of £50,000 on a board to co-ordinate and control the marketing of its produce is a mere bagatelle; but it must be remembered that there are numerous other levies borne by the dairymen. The honorable member for North Sydney (Mr.W. M. Hughes) said that the dairymen were going to do something, at least, in advertising their industry and their products. Although they spend tens of thousands of pounds through their co-operative companies on advertising their products, butter is still disposed of through the same channels in London as in the past. To superimpose a committee of three or four upon a board in Australia of twelve will not result in any increased benefit to the industry, and I expect that the dairymen will vote against the proposal. I shall await with interest the result of the poll. They may permit themselves to be taxed to the extent of id. per lb., but I am afraid that the result will be a disappointment to them.
– The honorable member is too pessimistic.
– The House should have put some element of vitality into the measure when honorable members on this side indicated how it could be done. Many of the co-operative butter factories could not be kept in operation if it were not for the financial support of shareholders who do not contribute cream to the factories.
– That is the position in most of the states.
– I doubt whether there is one co-operative butter factory in Australia that has not received capital from non-contributing shareholders, who, of course, will have the right to vote on tin acceptance of the scheme.
.- The pro- posed levy of1/8d. per lb. on butter and 1-16d. per lb! on cheese is very moderate, considering the prospects of the industry. A board of thirteen is not too large for an industry established throughout Australia. The administrative costs will be reduced through having an executive of five, which will be responsible to a board in constant touch with the various districts represented. The industry has been shamefully neglected by state governments in the past. It is only within the last couple of years that a movement has been made to advance the interests of the dairymen, and the action taken has been almost entirely due to the efforts of the producers themselves. The state and federal advisory boards are rendering honorary services, as a result of which the quality of butter has been improved more in the last two or three years than in the previous ten. The dairymen will be grateful for this small measure of assistance. The extent, to which the board will be able to assist the industry will largely depend upon the stamp of man appointed. They will have ample power to supervise the marketing arrangements in such a manner that nobody will have grounds to cavil at the infinitesimal expenditure of £50,000 a year. The price of butter has Varied from ls. to 2s. 6d. per lb., and there is scope for saving many hundreds of thousands of pounds to the producers. The measure will be the forerunner, I hope, of a much improved bill. I believe that the board will do such good work that it will gain the confidence of producers and consumers alike. At present the consumer pays probably more for his butter than he will under the new scheme. A regular price would give confidence to the dairymen without increasing the cost to the consumers. It is desirable to minimize the army of parasites that is living on this and many other industries.
.- 1 have listened with interest to the honorable member for Indi (Mr.. Cook), knowing that he always poses as an ardent friend of the primary producer, and particularly of the butter producer. Although he told us some time ago that the dairymen were “ down and out,” ho now states that their prospects are so good that the proposed impost for the upkeep of the board is not too much Saa?* them to pay. Side by side with that statement we have the remark of the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green) that, owing to the amendment accepted by the Government curtailing the powers of the board, the bill is not worth the paper on which it is printed.
– -The Government will have that amendment deleted in the Senate.
– “We cannot say what the Senate will do. What will the farmers of Indi think when they learn that their representative has applauded a measure that puts an impost of id. per lb. on the butter exported by them? He tells us that the interests of the dairy men have been shamefully neglected in the past. That has been the case in some of the states, but if they had all followed the example of the Queensland Labour Government, that created the council of agriculture, from which emanated this scheme for the control of the export trade, and also a scheme for .the establishment of a tribunal to inquire into the industry and fix prices, the dairying industry to-day, in all the states, would be on a. much better footing than it is. The honorable member should lay the blame on past governments, in Victoria particularly, and not on Labour governments. I believe in the principle of this bill. I supported the Dairy Produce Export Control Bill. The only fault I had to find with it was that lt did not go far ‘ enough. My objection to it was that it dealt only with the one-third of the output of the industry that is exported, and left unregulated the other two-thirds that is sold locally, so that the dairy farmers remain exposed to a continuance of the sweating to which they have been subjected for so many years. Those who have considered the question must realize the necessity for advertising Australian products. The market rigging, speculating, and gambling in connexion with Australian products have been largely due to the fact that the marketing of those products has not been regulated and controlled by those who produce the butter. A measure of this kind, socialistic as it is, and abhorrent as it is to certain honorable members opposite, is absolutely necessary for the proper marketing of Australian dairy produce overseas. The Dairy Produce Export Control Bill is an experimental measure, and this bill is necessary to finance its administration. I am not opposed to the general principle of this legislation, but I agree with the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney) that an impost of l-16th of a Id. per lb. on butter exported, and l-16th- of a Id. per lb. on cheese exported would provide ample revenue to meet the requirements of the control board. If necessary, an amending bill can easily be passed next session. I realize the importance of the board to the industry. Honorable members on this side supported an amendment which I moved to the previous measure, providing that the producers should elect their representatives on the board. Honorable members opposite turned down that amendment, and now it is the co-operative butter and cheese factories that will elect the control board, which is given the power to spend, not its own money, but the money of the producers. We know how the producers in this industry have been taxed in the past, and we object to further unnecessary imposts. ‘ In 1921-22, 127,000,000 lb. of butter were exported. An impost of 1/8 th of Id. per lb. on that quantity would amount to £66,280, and if, as the honorable member for Hume proposes, the impost were l-16th of Id. per lb., the control board would receive a revenue of £33,140 from the export of that quantity of butter.
– Is the honorable member in favour of, or against this bill ‘
– I have said that I am in favour of the principle of the bill, but I believe that an impost of l-16th of Id. per lb. on butter and cheese exported would meet the requirements of the board, and I am against increasing further the taxation of the producers of Australia. Private enterprise has failed in the handling of our produce, and it is necessary to control the export of this product. The dairy farmer has to make out too many returns, and too many taxes are levied upon him. A licencefee, of 6d. per cow is levied in Victoria, and taking this as an average, we can arrive at some idea of the extent of the total levy in this connexion. The number of dairy cows in the Commonwealth in 1920-21 was 2,056,000; in 1921-22 it was 2,343,000; and in 1922-23 it was 2,390,000. For each of those years the fee of 6d. per cow returned an average revenue of £56,583. Under the Dairy Produce Act of Victoria, a tax of Id. is imposed on every 100 lb. of butter manufactured. The average amount realized by that tax is £9,862 a year. On cheese, there is a tax of £d. per 100 lb. levied, and over a period of three years this impost returned an average of £828 per year. Under the regulations covering the export of butter it is compulsory for a butter exporter to pay Id. per box as a grading fee. Then 1/2 d. per box has to be paid to cover the cost of the Australian Dairy Council, a meeting of which costs £350. The fees collected under these levies amounted in 1921 to £9,475 and £4,437; in 1922, to £5,876 and £938-; and in 1923, to £4,869 and £2,434. The average under the first heading was £6,740, and under th» second, £3,370 per year. The sum *oi all these fees and charges gives a total of £77,373, and this bill proposes a further impost of £66,280 per annum. We say that an impost of l-16th of Id. per lb. on butter exported would provide an annual revenue of £33,140 for the control board, and that should be ample to cover its expenses. We on this side are mindful of the interests of the dairy farmers, and do not want to see them taxed to a greater extent than is necessary to enable the work of the control board to be carried out. If it should be found that an impost of l-16th of Id. per lb. on butter and cheese exported is insufficient to provide ‘ for the requirements of the board, there will be no difficulty in inducing this House to pass an amendment of the measure under discussion providing for an increased impost to secure the revenue required by the board. I hope that the bill will be carried with the amendment which has been suggested by the honorable member for Hume. I am very sceptical as to the actual result of the scheme so far as advantage to the dairy farmers is concerned. Honorable members opposite hold it out to them as a bunch of carrots. They are not prepared to grapple with the whole question. The bill, as I have said, deals only with the one-third of the output of the industry that is exported and not with the two-thirds that is put on the Australian market. That is- to remain unregulated and liable to the gambling and rigging that has taken place all along in connexion with the marketing of the produce of this industry, and the result of this legislation may be that in two years’ time the dairy farmers of Australia will be very little better off than they are at present.
.- The speeches made in opposition to this measure so far have been chiefly a rehash of the debate which took place on the Dairy Produce Export Control Bill. If we are to make any use of that measure to improve the marketing of butter, it is necessary that the bill now before the
House shall be passed. The assessment proposed to be made is trifling when- considered in relation to the advantages to be anticipated from this legislation. It is trifling also in relation to the amount of butter manufactured. It is only upon exported butter that the levy is to be made. The only alternative to the passing of a measure providing for such a levy is that the Government should be asked to meet the cost of the administration of the Dairy Produce Export Control Act from the Consolidated Revenue, and I feel certain that many honorable members on this side of the House, at any rate, would strongly object to that. There may be objections urged against the imposition of the proposed levy even by dairymen, but T remind honorable members that a poll is to be taken of the producers, and in that way it will be left to them to decide whether they will consent to penalize themselves to the extent of the small levy proposed in order to ensure the success of the scheme. Honorable members can safely leave this bill to those who are most concerned in the matter.
.- Like the honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. W. M. Hughes) I do not claim to be a cow expert, although in the “ days of yore,” riding bareback on a brumbie I often tracked cows through the scrub. I should like the Prime Minister to explain who is to pay the proposed levy, and how it is to be collected. So far as I know, that has not yet been explained. There is to be an impost of id. per lb. on butter exported. What machinery is to be set up to collect it, and where and how is it to be collected? We are told that it is to be levied on exported butter, but is the levy to be spread over the whole production of butter or to be a charge only on those who export butter? All the butter produced in Australia is not exported, and all Australian producers are not exporters of butter. The object of this legislation is to stabilizethe price of butter. I hope it will do something in that direction. I do not expect that it will do very much, because it does not go far enough. Assuming that it does do some good, it must be of benefit to the whole of the producers, whether they export butter or not. The stabilizing of the export price must ad vantageously affect the local price. The export of the surplus production is necessary to stabilize local prices. Is the levy of id. per lb. to be collected only on the butter put into the hands of the control board for export?
– That is clearly set out in the bill. It provides that the levy is to be on butter exported y and then sets out what the rates shall be.
– I do not think that it is -made clear in the bill. It is clear that a levy of id. per lb. is to be levied on all butter exported, but who is to pay the levy? Is it to be paid by the butter factories or by individual producers? Will those in charge of a butter factory say to their suppliers, “ We are going to impose a certain levy on all the cream you supply to the factory, and will collect it from you each week or each month”?
– The levy will be imposed on the butter exported, and will be paid by the exporters.
– It is quite clear that if a factory exports a parcel of butter it will pay upon it id. per lb., but from whom will the factory collect that charge? And what machinery for collecting it will be set up ?
– Will not the factory deduct this charge from its usual payments to suppliers?
– But the levy is to apply only to the one-third of the output which is exported. If a factory is exporting one-third of its output, will it charge all its suppliers only one twentyfourth of a penny in order to meet the levy of -Jd. on the proportion to be exported? Some factories do not export any butter. Are they not to pay the levy? I submit that they should pay whether they export or not. I ask the Prime Minister to inform the House how the -id. will be collected, and how the levy will be spread over the suppliers. That question will certainly be asked by the producers when the poll is being taken. This bill will appear to them a tax of id. on all their butter, and for that reason they will reject it.- I am inclined to think that that is the desire of the Prime Minister. This is one of the forms of “blackmail” levied by one section of the Government supporters, and he is attaching to the scheme conditions that will ensure its rejection. He will be able to say to the members of the Country party, “ You blackmailed me for this scheme, but the producers do not want it.” If, as the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Cook) predicted, the bill would cut out the parasites and loafers who batten on the producer, it would receive my hearty support, but nothing short of effective control of the industry will do that.
– I cannot understand how there can be the slightest uncertainty regarding the manner in which the bill will operate. A previous measure provided that moneys collected by the Customs Department under the bill now before us would be paid into a certain fund. Butter will be entered for export, and the levy of1/8d. per lb. will be made upon the owner and exporter. The proceeds will be paid to the Customs Department, and then handed over to the controlling board, which will operate the fund.
– But who will pay the levy?
– The exporter.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 - (1.) A charge is imposed and shall be levied andpaid on all dairy produce exported from the Commonwealth after a date to be fixed by Proclamation. (2.) Subject to a lower rate being prescribed by the regulations -
Mi. PARKER MOLONEY (Hume) [12.37]. - I move-
That the words “ one-eighth,” in paragraph (a), be omitted with a view to inserting in lieu thereof the words “ one-sixteenth.”
If the Prime Minister desires this bill to receive the endorsement of the dairymen, he must clear up the point raised by the honorable member for Yarra. Upon whom will the levy of id. per lb. actually fall?
– Is it not intended to collect that charge upon every pound of butter produced?
– We do not know, but I have no doubt that the suppliers of milk will have to pay the levy.
– Of course the suppliers will pay it, and properly so, because they are the persons who will benefit by the measure.
– By what machinery will the levy be collected ?
Mr. PARKER MOLONEY . Information upon that point should be furnished by the Prime Minister. The levy will apply only to the one-third of the output that is exported. By what means will a particular set of suppliers be singled out for the imposition of the levy?
– A particular quantity of butter cannot be earmarked as likely to be exported.
– I assume that all persons who supply milk to the factories will have to pay this charge.
– The honorable member is contradicting the Prime Minister, but I hope that he will vote in accordance with his interpretation of the bill. If the charge is to be collected from the whole of the producers, it will be necessary to strike a levy of about 1-24d. The suppliers are already burdened with levies and taxes amounting to between £80,000 and £100,000 per annum, and the Prime Minister says that they are to bear this further burden. Will he tell the committee what collecting machinery will be devised?
– I shall tell the honorable member.
– Apparently, the mind of the PostmasterGeneral, unlike that of the Prime Minister, is not befogged by all-night sittings.
– The proposal is quite simple.
– I ask the Minister to give the committee some information respecting the manner of making the levy upon the dairy producers.
– I cannot accept the amendment moved by the honorable member.
– On what ground ?
– The order of leave was embodied in the resolution agreed to in Committee of Ways and Means, which was adopted by the House, and it was ordered that the Prime Minister and the Treasurer should prepare and bring in a bill to carry out that resolution. The honorable member now. wishes to move to amend something to which the House has agreed, and, therefore, I cannot accept his amendment.
– I am unable to move the amendment that I foreshadowed in my second-reading speech?
– The honorable member cannot move the amendment of which he has just spoken.
– I wish to know what is your authority, Mr. Chairman, for ruling that the amendment moved by the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney) cannot be accepted. I contend that the amendment is not inconsistent with the Standing Orders and our parliamentary procedure generally.
– On the 23rd October, 1918, the right honorable member for Balaclava - Mr. Watt, our present Speaker - moved an amendment to the Entertainments Tax Bill and the then Chairman of Committees (Hon. J. M. Chanter) ruled the amendment out of order. His ruling appears on page 7149 of Hansard, volume lxxxvi., and reads as follows : -
As regards the question of a right of a member to move in committee on a bill an amendment of rates of tax agreed to by a preliminary Ways and Means Committee, and adopted” by the House, the latest decision on the subject is that given by a Temporary Chairman on the 20th September, 1917 (Votes and Proceedings, page 128), who ruled an amendment out of order on the ground that the question had been previously negatived by the Committee of Ways and Means when considering the resolutions on which the bill was founded, and that the House had subsequently adopted the committee’s report.
In the Imperial Parliament on 21st December, 1888, in committee on the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill, (Hansard, 3rd series, volume 332, page 976), the Chairman said -
This is a committee of the whole House, and. it is not open to’ a committee of the whole House to vary or negative any resolution which is a resolution of the House itself. (Page 979.) Those resolutions of Committee of Supply have been reported to the House, and the House has been pleased by resolution to agree to those resolutions, and it is not competent for this committee to either review or alter the decisions which have been come to by the House itself. (Page 981.) …. This committee of the House is not competent to entertain any amendment which would be inconsistent with the resolutions which have been arrived at by the House itself. (Page 985.) ….
In reply to a question as to what was the object of putting the schedule when there was no power to move amendments, the Chairman said, “ It is not part of my business to explain the reasons for the various forms of the House.” (Page 986.) He further said that it was not in the province of the committee to consider the policy embodied in the votes; the commitee had to consider the details of the bill to see that they were correct. (Page 989.)
In the 12th edition of May, pages 497-8, a similar principle is laid down in regard to taxation bills, as follows: -
If any of the provisions of the bill should be found to go beyond the resolutions of the Committee of Ways and Means, or other committee of the whole House, as agreed to by the House on report, upon which the bill is founded, a further resolution must be passed by the Committee of Ways and Means or other committee of the whole House, and agreed to by the House before those provisions are considered in committee on the bill, or the bill must be amended so as to conform to the resolutions to which the House has agreed. Amendments to the bill which are not covered by resolutions of the Committee of Ways and Means or other committee of the whole House, are out of order.
It seems to me perfectly clear, from the foregoing extracts, that a committee on a bill cannot reverse or in any other way alter a deci- sion of the previous committee which has become a resolution of the House itself.
I rule the amendment out of order.
– When I foreshadowed the amendment on the second reading, the Speaker indicated to me that it could not then be moved, although it might be moved at the committee stage. I acted on the advice of of the Speaker, and merely foreshadowed the amendment. If you, Mr. Chairman, disallow my motion to amend the clause, you must also disagree with the opinion of the Speaker, who indicated to me what should be done. I ask your advice, Mr. Chairman, respecting what steps I should take to move the amendment.
– The amendment cannot now be moved.
– I shall certainly report the matter to the Speaker.
– The honorable member for Hume wishes to know how the levy is to be collected, by whom it will be collected, and what machinery is in existence for its collection.
– I wish to know in what way the producers will pay the levy.
– The levy will be collected through the Customs. Every butter factory will Enow the exact amount of butter it is exporting, and will naturally deduct the amount of the levy from the returns to the suppliers. In this way the levy will be borne by the individual supplier, or by the source from which the butter comes.
– Among the suppliers may be some supplying the home market only.
– A factory that pays, say, £20 to the Customs Department on the amount of butter exported, will naturally pay the suppliers £20 less ; and, therefore, the levy will be made upon the whole of the suppliers.
– The levy, which should be imposed on one-third of the butter production, will be made on the whole of it.
– The initial collection will be through the Customs, and the levy will later be spread over the whole of the suppliers. No additional machinery is necessary to impose this levy. What is a tax of £50,000 to an industry worth £16,000,000? There are individual merchants in Melbourne with probably an annual turnover of £1,000,000 spending more than £50,000 on advertising alone. The expense of advertising both here and abroad will be taken from the £50,000. It is a small expenditure to place this great industry on a proper basis.
– That will not be the only levy upon the producers.
– A great deal of the advertising done to-day by the cooperative companies will naturally be con trolled by the board. From what I have seen on the other side of the world, I know that it isabsolutely necessary to incur some expenditure in order to organize the dairying industry.
– The Minister has given honorable members information respecting factories that consign their own butter; but there are a number of factories that sell f.o.b. the whole of their output, with the exception of the local trade.
– The same conditions will apply to both, except that the man buying f.o.b. will pay1/8d. more for his butter.
– There will be many difficulties in the way of imposing the levy upon the f.o.b. buyer. The people who now export butter will continue to export it after the passage of this bill. This also applies to those who handle our butter in London. Certain producers supplying co-operative butter factories will sell their butter f.o.b. Melbourne, and will not be called upon to pay the levy. But producers supplying other cooperative factories that do a certain amount of consigning, as well as local selling, will pay the levy. .
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
– If the dairymen agree to the scheme for the export of their produce provided for in the Dairy Produce Export Control Bill there will be considerable heart-burning in some places ; but the provision in this measure will, in my opinion, be sufficient to turn the scale against the scheme. Should it by any chance be accepted, all sorts of anomalies will occur. It may happen that quite a number of exporting firms which buy butter direct from the producer will allow for this1/8d. per lb. export duty in the price they pay, while others will not. Practically all the butter sold in Victoria is dealt with on an f.o.b. Melbourne basis. Co-operative companies in one district may take the id. tax into account, and those in another may not. Whatever happens, the dairy farmers stand to gain very little from the scheme.I do not quarrel with your ruling, sir, but we shall not be caught in this way again.
.- It is regrettable that we are not able to get a vote of the committee on the amendment of the honorable member for Hume, which has been ruled out of order. Our intention was to prevent any “cushy” jobs from being provided on this board or elsewhere at the expense of the primary producers. I wish to know whether you will accept an amendment to add after the word “exported,” in subclause 2, paragraph b, the words “provided that no more than £12,000 shall be expended from such levy or levies for the purpose of paying salaries, wages, fees, travelling allowances, or any remuneration to the members of the Dairy Produce Control Board, the London agency of the board, or to officers or servants employed by such board or London agency.” I have no desire to prevent the board from spending a fair proportion of its income -in advertising, but it should not be given absolute freedom to fix its own remuneration.
– The matter with which the honorable member’s suggested amendment deals must be left to the board. Clause 22 of the main bill gives the board absolute power to do as it pleases with the funds at its disposal. Consequently, I cannot accept an amendment of the nature he has indicated.
– I disagree with the view that clause 22 gives the board absolute power. Provision is made in the main bill that the salaries to be paid to the board should be “ as prescribed.” I submit, therefore, that I am in order in proposing that the remuneration shall not exceed £12,000 per annum.
– I do not think it is” competent for this committee to determine how the moneys levied under the bill shall be expended, but there is a more serious objection to the proposed amendment from the constitutional stand-point. This is a taxing measure pure and simple, and honorable members know that it is not competent to introduce any other matter into such a measure. The amendment the honorable member for Angas has suggested is a distinctly different matter, ind cannot be embodied in the bill. It !s for the reason that this is purely a “axing bill that the provisions it contains :Ould not be put into the main bill.
.- I do not accept the view of the Prime Minister. In a bill that was before us some time ago, provision was made for the appointment of a board, and clauses were inserted to fix the salaries that should be payable to the board members. I submit that we should be quite, in order in setting out in this measure the proportion of taxation which could be used for salary purposes.
.- I contend that this is not a taxing bill, for the money raised under its provisions will not be paid into the Consolidated “Revenue, and so be available for the purposes of government. The money is to be raised purely for the purpose of assisting the producers to market their butter and cheese. I object once more to the manner in which the bill has been submitted to us. We should have had it before us when we were considering the main measure. We have been tricked, and I enter my protest against it.
– It has been ruled most distinctly by the Crown law authorities that this is a. taxation measure under the provisions of section 55 of the Constitution, one of which is -
Laws imposing taxation shall deal only with the imposition of taxation, and any provision therein dealing with any other matter shall be of no effect.
It is clear, therefore, that even if the amendment were made in the bill, it would have no effect.
.- I do not agree with the Prime Minister, but I am compelled to give way to his view, for he has the force of numbers behind him. I protest against this attempt to deprive honorable members of the committee of their rights. If we continue to do business in this way, I do not know what we shall come to. It is only the fear of being removed from the chamber that prevents me from using much stronger language. “ Clause agreed to.
– I should like to know whether I should be in order in moving to amend this clause as I proposed to amend clause 3. I point out that this clause is not part of the resolution of the Committee of Ways and Means.
– Asthe amendment is intended to have the same effect, it must be treated in the same manner as the other.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 5 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
– I desire to raise a question of privilege. I understand that we are elected to this House to do the best we can for our constituents. In a bill providing for the control of the export of dairy products, reference was made to an act that docs not exist, and no bill for which had been presented to Parliament. When the second bill was presented, I was not permitted to move amendments in it. Is it in order for the Government to mention in one bill an act that does not, in fact, exist, and for which a bill has not been presented to the House?
– I do not think that the statement of the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) involves a question of privilege. Privilege is naturally divided into two sections, one of which affects the corporate honour and dignity of Parliament, and the other the rights, privileges, and immunities of members individuially. The honorable member implied that his rights have been infringed, and voiced an objection accordingly. Parliament has made its own rules and defined its own practices in regard to all bills. It is particularly jealous with respect to money bills. The rights of individual members in relation to charges to be levied upon the people are necessarily limited by the Constitution, our Standing Orders, and the law of Parliament. When the resolution on which the House ordered the bill to be prepared and brought in was before the Committee of Ways and Means, honorable members could have proposed amendments to it, but after it had been reported and adopted it could not be altered. I am sure that the honorable member, on re flection, will see the inevitability, if not the wisdom, of the procedure.
– An honorable member who raises a question of privilege is required to conclude his remarks with a motion. The honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) did not move a motion, and I therefore submit that he was out of order. Will he be given an opportunity, if he so desires, to submit a motion?
– The rule of Parliament requires that a member rising to a question of privilege must conclude with a motion, but I assume that what the honorable member for Angas desired to do was merely to ask a question regarding his privileges as a member of the House, and, that being so, I did not enforce that rule. There is confusion in the minds of some honorable members as to the distinction between questions of order and questions of privilege. On a more appropriate occasion I should like to make that distinction clear, for the information of honorable members.
– I was present in committee when the honorable member for Angas was not permitted to move his amendment, and I support his protest. He did not attempt to alter that part of the measure which embodies the resolution passed by the Committee of Ways and Means; he merely sought to define the administrative expenditure of the board.
– Parliamentary law places upon honorable members three limitations with respect to the taxation of the people. They may not increase the rates prescribed in a message from the Crown ; they may not extend the area over which those rates are to be levied; and they may not change the destination of the money once the levies have been sanctioned. I suggest that honorable members, when the opportunity comes to them, should read a little more on these questions. If they would do so, it would facilitate the consideration of business.
– I desire to raise a point of order. I submit that the Government was out of order in mentioning, in the Dairy Produce Export Control Bill, the Dairy Produce Export Charges Act, which did not then exist. The Government, having mentioned the DriedFruits Export Charges Act in the Dried Fruits
Export Control Bill, shall I be prevented from moving amendments to that bill?
– The honorable member has raised two separate points of order. He asks whether it is competent for the House to discuss a bill that refers to an act for which a bill has not been introduced. British Parliamentary history is full of instances of closely related bills introduced in sequence, and Speakers of the House of Commons have frequently ruled that it is advisable at certain stages to discuss such bills together. It is not uncommon, moreover, to have a bill introduced and decided before another bill to which it is intimately related has been introduced. So far as my reading and experience go, the procedure adopted by the Government is not irregular. The second point of order is whether it is competent for honorable members, after the second bill involving charges has been introduced, to move amendments to it without messages from the Crown. Some amendments are permissible in such bills without a message, others are not. Amendments affecting the matters which I have already mentioned, namely, the rates, incidence, area, and destination of the charges levied on the people, can be moved only under messages from the Crown, but there are verbal amendments and other amendments which are permissible, and may be moved at the proper stages of the consideration of the bill. If the honorable member has missed his opportunity to move an amendment, either in committee or in the House, I am sure that the House regrets it, but there are well-established rules which, under our Constitution and our practice, which has been largely borrowed from that of the House of Commons, must be observed.
-When a committee is considering a message from the GovernorGeneral, which forms the foundation of a bill to be introduced later, can a debate on the principles of the bill take place? Can honorable members at that stage elicit all the information they require regarding the bill?
– The bill in question was not introduced under a message from the Governor-General; it was founded on a resolution of the Committee of Ways and Means.
– A general question has been raised relating to bills founded on resolution of Committee of Ways and Means, whether that resolution originated in a message from the Governor-General or not. If precedent to the bringing in of a bill there is a resolution in Committee of Ways and Means, it is competent for any member of that committee not only to require an explanation of the full effect of the resolution, but also to debate it; and to amend it in certain directions, though not in others. If charges are involved in the resolution, honorable members may, without a further message, move to reduce, but not to increase them. If a resolution of the Committee of Ways and Means originating a bill is reported to, and adopted by, the House, the bill founded upon it may not be amended in a manner contrary to that resolution.
– I move -
That Orders of the Day, Government Business, he postponed until after the consideration of a motion to be submitted in connexion with Preferential Trade with Canada.
I submit this motion to enable a statement to be made on the subject of Canadian preference, about which many questions have been asked in the House. Arrangements having now been made for a reciprocal treaty with Canada, the earliest possible opportunity should be taken to make the facts public. Another reason why I suggest the postponement of the remaining orders of the day is that the Ministry has entered into an arrangement with the Government of Canada for an announcement of the proposed agreement to be made in this House as near as possible to 2.30 p.m. to-day as a similar announcement will be made in the Canadian Parliament at the same time. The proposed agreement has been arrived at after very long negotiations. It is a matter for gratification that we have been able to arrive at an agreement that the Governments concerned regard as mutually satisfactory, and I am sure that it will do much to promote the trade between the two dominions. It is a step towards the realization of the ideal of reciprocal trade arrangements within the Empire, and it should result in an augmentation of imperial trade generally. The agreement covers only a limited number of items in our tariff and in the Canadian tariff, but it is hoped that as a result of the arrangement a great increase of trade will be brought about which will show that it is desirable and practicable to extend the agreement now being entered into. The resolution will be introduced by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten), and the proposed application of the British preferential and the intermediate tariff to Canada will be fully set out. At the same time the Minister will give the House the details of the proposed concessions by Canada, and all the necessary information as to the effect that the arrangements will probably have on both Canadian and Australian trade.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
(By leave.) - I move -
That whereas in pursuance of the provisions of paragraph (a) of sub-section (3.) of section 9 of the Customs Tariff 1921-24 the Minister of State for Trade and Customs has referred to the Tariff Board the question whether, having regard to the reciprocal benefits which have been or will be granted to Australia by the dominion of Canada, it is desirable in the interests of the Commonwealth that the British preferential tariff in the Customs Tariff 1921- 24 or theintermediate tariff in the Customs Tariff 1921-24 (hereinafter referred to as “the British preferential tariff “ and “ the intermediate tariff “)should apply to the dominion of Canada, and if so the extent to which it should so apply :
And whereas in pursuance of the provisions of paragraph (a) of sub-section (4.) of the said section the Minister of State for Trade and Customs has referred to the Tariff Board the question whether it is desirable in the interests of the Commonwealth that the Britishpreferential tariff or the intermediate tariff,as the case may be (applied to the dominion of Canada by means of a proclamation under the said section in pursuance of this resolution) should cease to apply to the dominion of Canada or that the application to the dominion of Canada of the British preferential tariff or the intermediate tariff should be varied from time to time to the extent which may be mutually agreed upon by the Governor-General of the Commonwealth and the Government of the dominion of Canada, or, after six months’ notice by the Governor-General of the Commonwealth to the Government of the dominion of Canada to the extent which may be specified in the notice:
And whereas the Tariff Board has reported that it is desirable in the interests of the
Commonwealth that the British preferential tariff and the intermediate tariff should apply to the dominion of Canada to the extent specified in this resolution:
And whereas the Tariff Board has reported that it is desirable, in the interests of the Commonwealth that the British preferential tariff or the intermediate tariff, as the case may be (applied to the dominion of Canada by means of a proclamation under the said section pursuant to this resolution) should cease to apply to the dominion of Canada or that the application to the dominion of Canada of the British preferential tariff or the intermediate tariff, as the case may be, should be varied from time to time to the extent specified in this resolution:
Now therefore this House agrees -
That the application of the British preferential tariff and the intermediate tariff in the Customs Tariff 1921-24 to the dominion of Canada, is to the extent specified in this resolution, desirable an the interests of the Commonwealth:
That the British preferential tariff and the intermediate tariff respectively shall apply to the dominion of Canada to the extent that in lieu of the duties of Customs imposed by the Customs Tariff 1921-24 on goods the produce or manufacture of the dominion of Canada imported direct from that dominion, there shall be imposed, on and after a time and date to be proclaimed, duties of Customs, as hereinafter set out, on the undermentioned goods the produce or manufacture of the dominion of Canada imported direct from the said dominion, namely: -
On goods described in the first schedule to this resolution the rates of duty, shall be the rates of duty for the time being applicable to goods to which the British preferential tariff in the Customs Tariff 1921- 24 applies; and
On the goods described in the second schedule to this resolution the rates of duty shall be the rates of duty for the time being applicable to goods to which the intermediate tariff in the Customs Tariff 1921-24 applies :
Provided that nothing in this resolution shall affect the right of the Commonwealth to impose or collect any duty chargeable under the Customs Tariff (Industries Preservation) Act 1921-22; and
That it is desirable that the British preferential tariff or the intermediate tariff, as the case may be, should cease to apply to the dominion of Canada or that the application to the dominion of Canada of the British preferential tariff or the intermediate tariff shouldbe varied from time to time to the extent which may be mutually agreed upon by the Governor-General of the Commonwealth and the Government of the dominion of Canada, or, after six months’ notice by the GovernorGeneral of the Commonwealth to the Government of the dominion of Canada, to the extent which may be specified in the notice.
For some years the question of a tariff agreement with Canada has received attention from several Governments, hut the difficulties arising from the fact that we take far more goods from Canada than she does from us has been a stumblingblock. For example, during the five years ended the 30th June, 1923, the average yearly value of Canadian goods imported into Australia was £3,600,000, while the average value of Australian goods exported to Canada during the same period was £400,000. That is, over the five years’ period the value of the Canadian goods entering Australia was nine times the value of Australian goods sent to Canada. The disproportion is even greater if we take the last year of the period quoted, namely 1922-23. In that year Canada sent to Australia goods to the value of £5,064,000, while Australian goods shipped to Canada were valued at £361,000, or about onefourteenth of the value of Canada’s trade with us. Under any circumstances the working out. of a tariff agreement is a matter of considerable delicacy, and is beset with many difficulties. It rarely happens that the interests of the contracting countries are mutually exclusive to such a degree as to enable an exchange of advantages to be effected without involving some concessions. The problem was to arrive at a result which would achieve the main objects of the negotiation, namely, a wider market for our primary products with a minimum of disadvantage to our secondary industries. The utmost care has been exercised to attain the result, and I feel sure that a careful examination of the proposals will prove that it has been attained. It is hardly to be expected that all the difficulties would be overcome in such manner as to avoid every possible opening for criticism, especially if attention is focussed on details to the exclusion of the general effect and advantages of the results achieved.
Taking a general view of the position, we find that the Commonwealth is chiefly concerned with the opening up of wider markets for her primary products.. In the present stage of our secondary industries, concessions by Canada to our manufactured goods, on however generous a scale, possess no attraction. On the other hand, Canada is looking for more extensive markets for her secondary products, as her trade with Australia consists almost wholly of manufactured goods. These conditions, viz., the one-sided nature of the trade in Canada’s favour, and our need of markets for our surplus primary products, practically dictated an agreement limited to a comparatively small range of goods, so as to bring the reciprocal concessions to something like an equality of advantages. We can readily imagine that the concessions proposed by Canada on primary products, of which she is a large producer, will lead to criticism by representatives of Canadian primary producers on the ground that their interests are being sacrificed to Canada’s need for markets for manufactured goods. They, no doubt, will dwell upon the immense market Canada offers for the primary products on which preference is given, and #he scope afforded to Australia for developing this trade. On the other hand, our primary producers in their eagerness for extended markets abroad, may be inclined to expect too much from the concessions which we have gained from Canada, and thus be led to express exaggerated views of their importance, and very possibly create an unfavorable impression in Canada. I feel confident, however, that an impartial examination will lead to the conclusion that the ‘ proposals will provide an extended market for our surplus primary products, the disposal of which is causing us so much anxiety at the present time, but that the successful exploitation of this extended market will call for an organized and sustained effort on our part to gain the trade from present suppliers, chiefly the United States. Further, I. feel sure that the concessions we are making to Canada compensate her amply for those she is making to us, and that as regards our secondary industries the concessions we are making will not be prejudicial to them.
Under the proposed agreement the
Commonwealth grants to Canada reductions of duty on twelve items, while- the Commonwealth receives reductions on fourteen main and six minor items. I propose to deal with these items in detail. Taking them in their order, the first on which we are giving the rates of the British preferential tariff is fish. Under this heading our importations in 1922-3 were valued at £1,125,000, of which Canada supplied goods to the value of £221,000, or about 20 per cent, of the total. Practically the whole of Canada’s contribution consisted of tinned salmon valued at £218,000. Hitherto the rate paid on Canadian tinned fish has been 2£d. a lb. Under the agreement the rate payable will be Id. As we do little or nothing in the tinning of fish the reduction of the duty will not affect any Australian industry. Its chief effect will be to benefit Canada at the expense of the United States, which sent us £144,000 worth of tinned fish, mostly salmon, in- 1922-3. It will have little or no effect on British trade, which consists principally of tinned herrings. The next item is gloves of textile materials. Leather gloves, in which we have a growing industry, were excluded on this account. Textile gloves are not made in Australia. In 1922-3 Canada sent us gloves of this kind to a value of £21,500, out of a total importation of £615,000, or about 3 per cent, of the total. The chief suppliers were the United Kingdom and the United States ‘ of America, which supplied £291,000 worth and £130,000 worth respectively. Here, again, there is no local industry. The duty payable on Canadian textile gloves, hitherto 25 per cent., will be reduced to 10 per cent.
The next item is tariff item 169, which covers type composing machines, printing machines, typewriters, electrotyping and stereotyping machinery, adding and computing machines, and cash registers. These machines, of Canadian manufacture, will be admitted free, instead of bearing a 10 per cent, duty as at present. Canada supplies only a small proportion of the total importations. There is practically no manufacture in Australia.
We come next to newsprinting paper, which is probably the most important item dealt with in the agreement from the Canadian stand-point. The present duty against Canada is £3 a ton, but under the agreement Canadian newsprint will be admitted free of duty. When the tariff was introduced in March, 1920, the duty proposed was 5 per cent, under the British preferential tariff, and 10 per cent, under the general tariff. During the discussion in this Parliament an amend- ment was made whereby admission under the British preferential tariff was made free, and a duty was imposed under the general tariff of £3 a ton. This immense preference had a most striking effect on British and Canadian trade with Australia. In the year 1920-21 the United Kingdom supplied 5,800 tons, and Canada 30,400 tons of this paper. In the twelve months ended 31st May of this year, the United Kingdom supplied- 60,000 tons and Canada 2,000 tons. The effect, therefore, was that this arrangement of the tariff practically destroyed Canada’s trade. It had much less effect on the trade of Scandinavia with Australia. In 1920-21 Norway and Sweden sent us 34,700 tons, and in the twelve months ended 31st May, 1924, 26,000 tons.
Turning to the latest figures available of British exports - those for the six months ending 30th June, 1924, we find that under the heading “ Paper - Printing not coated and writing in large sheets,” Britain imported during that period 85,000 tons.. During the same period she exported 73,700 tons. She, therefore, imported 11,300 tons more than she exported. Out of the total export trade of 73,700 tons, Australia took 39,700 tons, or somewhat more than half the total exported. During the six months’ period. Britain imported 428,000 tons of. wood pulp for paper manufacture. Of this quantity 9,200 tons was Canadian. The balance of 419,000 tons was imported from Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Germany. Many complaints have been received from Australian manufacturers that the present condition on which preference is granted to Britain is simply a premium on the use of foreign materials, and. it certainly appears that our present preference on newsprint is of no small benefit to the northern countries of Europe. It furnishes them with an enormous and expanding market for their wood pulp.
If the printing paper at present imported into Britain from the Continent were manufactured in Britain itself instead of being imported, the advantage would far outweigh the present advantage obtained from the export trade. It would appear to be a primary obligation on British authorities to secure the local manufacture of the paper at present imported rather than to look to preference from the dominions to provide a market for production which could be absorbed at home if the foreign products were shut out.
Our pressing necessity is to find wider markets for our ever-increasing surplus of primary products. Vigorous efforts Were made at the Imperial Economic Conference .to secure larger preferences in Britain. These larger preferences were rejected by the British Parliament. The Prime Minister, in his opening speech at the conference, spoke very frankly on the necessity of Australia finding markets by means of tariff agreements. He said -
During the last few years in Australia we have had many requests that we should enter into reciprocal arrangements with different countries. These countries offered to give us very great advantages in their markets for our primary production in exchange for advantages they sought in our markets for their manufactured goods. We have rejected all those requests and have refused to listen to them.
We say that the whole basis of our trading policy is to try to ensure, as far as wo can, the Australian market for the British manufacturer. But one must stress (and I am sure everybody should desire that one should stress) the point’ that while we are determined to pursue that . policy in the future as far as wo possibly can, our own economic necessities must drive us into a position in which, to some extent, we should have to relax, or we should be bringing disaster to our own country and to our own people.
It cannot, therefore, be said that the position has not been fully and forcibly stated to British authorities.
The extension of the British preference rate to Canada on newsprint simply means that the preference of £3 per ton will be maintained in regard to all other countries except Canada. This still leaves a very large field for exploitation. Britain already does a fairly large trade in newsprint with foreign countries where she does not receive any preferential treatment, and, although the extension of the preferential rate to Canada will make competition keener in Australia, there is good reason to suppose that she will retain a very large proportion of her present trade.
Canadian authorities state, owing to the demands in the United States and Canada for newsprint, and the rapid inroads being made into their valuable pine forests, the export to Australia is not likely to exceed 25,000 or 30,000 tons per annum. The benefit of £3 per ton granted to
Canada should result in that dominion displacing the Scandinavian export of approximately that amount, so that it is not expected the concession to Canada will materially alter the present trade enjoyed by Great Britain. Any export trade lost should find a ready market at Home, where the imports of newsprint greatly exceed the exports.
We how come to the item printing paper, n.e.i. (that is printing paper other than newsprinting) in rolls not less than 10 inches wide or in sheets not less than 20 by 25 inches. As in the item just mentioned, Canadian paper pays £3 per ton, while the British paper is admitted free of duty. Australia’s total importations under this item in 1922-3 were 18,594 tons, valued at £524,574.
Canada supplied only a very small proportion of this paper, the quantity being 431 tons, value £13,432. The United Kingdom is the principal supplier, her share of the trade being 13,325 tons, .value £389,239. The balance of the imports come chiefly from continental countries.
The paper covered by the item is used largely by newspapers, chiefly the weekly papers. Apart from ihe question of preference, it is inadvisable to make any distinction between this item and the newsprint item. It would result in differential treatment as between the daily papers and the weekly papers.
The next item is printing paper n.e.i. This item applies to printing paper not coming within the terms of the two preceding printing paper items, that is to printing paper imported in rolls of less than 10 “inches in width or in sheets less than 20 x 25 inches. It is a quite unimportant item; the total importation in 1922-3 was 52 tons, value £1,878. Canada did not send us any paper in that year under this item.
The next item on which the British preferential tariff rate is extended is writing and typewriting paper. At present Canada pays 15 per cent. Under the agreement the rate will be 5 per cent. In 1922-3 we imported under this item goods to the value of £664,000, of which Canada supplied £40,000, or about 7 per cent, of the total. Britain’s share in the trade was £478,000. In view of this, position, the concession is not likely to materially affect British trade.
Our tariff provides a deferred duty on finis item of 20 per cent. (British preferential), 25 per cent, (intermediate), 30 per cent, (general tariff). As there is no local industry, the deferred duty has not been brought into effect. Under the agreement, the right is retained of giving effect to the deferred duty, in which case the Canadian paper will be subjected to a duty of 20 per cent.
We now come to the items on which we propose to extend the rate of the intermediate tariff, the first item being corsets. The present tariff rates are 30 per cent. (British preferential), 40 per cent, (intermediate), 45 per cent, (general tariff). Corsets of Canadian origin at present pay 45 per cent. Under the agreement they will pay 40 per cent. In the year 1922-3 we imported corsets to the total value of £509,000, of which Canada sent us £76,000 worth, or about 15 per cent, of the total. Britain and the United States of America were very much larger suppliers, the former supplying £313,000, the latter £118,000 worth. It is probable, therefore, that any increase in Canadian trade will be at the expense of. the United States of America. We have a fairly large local industry, but from the figures I have quoted it will be seen that its principal competition comes from the United Kingdom, whose product is admitted at 30 per cent. Canadian corsets will pay 40 per cent., and it can be confidently estimated that this substantial protection, combined with the fact that Canadian wages are similar to our own, will prevent any injury to the industry arising from the slight concession to Canada.
The next item is iron and steel pipes and tubes not more than 3 inches internal diameter, on which the rates are free (British preferential), 5 per cent, (intermediate), 10 per cent, (general tariff). Canadian tubes now pay 10 per cent. The agreement will reduce the rate to 5 per cent. Our total importations under this item amounted in value to £869,000. Of this total Canada supplied £76j000 worth, or about 8 per cent’, of the total. The chief supplying countries were the. United Kingdom £673,000, and the United States of America £115,000 worth. We have no local industry producing these tubes yet. The tariff provides for this eventuality a deferred duty of 27$ per cent., 35 per cent., and 40 per cent. Should an industry be started in Australia sufficient to justify imposing the deferred duty, Canadian tubes will be liable to 35 per cent. I feel sure it will be readily admitted that no objection lies to the concession we are making to Canada on this item.
The next item refers to goloshes, rubber sand boots and shoes, and plimsolls. The present rates of duty are - Per pair, ls. 6d., ls. 9d.. and 2s., or ad valorem 25 per cent., 30 per cent, and 35 per cent., whichever rate returns the higher duty. Canada at present pays 2s. per pair, or 35 per cent., whichever higher. Under the agreement she will pay ls. 9d. per pair, or 30 per cent. Under this item we imported in 1922-3 goods to the value of £95,000, of which Canada supplied £52,000 worth, or somewhat over half the total. The United Kingdom supplied £32,000 and the United States of America £10,000 worth. The concession to Canada represents a very slight reduction of the protection to the local industry. The Canadian articles will pay ls. 9d. per pair, or 30 per cent. As the specific rate ordinarily applies the reduction amounts to 3d. per pair.
The next item is chassis. At present Canada pays 10 per cent, on unassembled chassis, and 12$ per cent on assembled chassis. Under the agreement these rates will be reduced by 2$ per cent. Our total importations of chassis in 1922-3 amounted in value to £5,671,413, out of which Canada supplied £1,833,000 worth, or about one-third of the total. The United States of America is the greatest supplier, accounting for £2,534,000 worth. The effect of the concession will be to place Canada on a better footing as compared to the United States of America. At present, apart from the question of duties, Canada is at a disadvantage owing to our practice of charging duty on the domestic value in the country of export. “For similar cars, say, a Ford, which are made in the United States of America and Canada, the Canadian domestic price is higher than that of the United States of America, and duty is paid on the higher value, which results in a higher amount of duty being paid. The concession of 2$ per cent, in the rate of duty will slightly more than counterbalance this disadvantage. There is no Australian industry engaged in making chassis. The only effect, as far as Australia is concerned, will be a tendency to cheapen the cost of cars. It is not apprehended that the concession to Canada will have any prejudicial effect on British trade in chassis with Australia.
The final item in which we are giving Canada a preference is vehicle parts n.e.i. At present Canada pays 55 per cent. The rate under the agreement will be 50 per cent. Under this item we imported in 1922-23 goods valued at £644,000, of which Canada supplied £154,000 worth, or about 25 per cent, of the total. Other supplying countries were the United States of America £362,000, and the United Kingdom £121,000. The rate of 50 per cent, guarantees effective protection on those vehicle parts which are made in Australia.
The goods, on which Canada will grant preference to Australia are comprised in fourteen main items. The first ~ is meats, fresh. Canada’s imports under this item- for the year ended March, 1924, were 24,000,000 lbs., valued at £649,000. Australia has done some export trade to Canada in fresh meat, as the following official statistics show:- 1918-19, £43,086; 1919-20, £21,011; 1920-21, £3,085; 1921-22, £18,029; 1922-23, £44,129. At present Australian meat pays 3 cents per lb., while meat admitted at British preference rates pays 2 cents per lb. Under the agreement Canada will alter her tariff, making the British preferential rate 1 cent per lb., which Australian meat will pay, and the general tariff 4 cents per lb., which will be payable on meat imported from, for example, the United States of America, which country is Canada’s principal supplier. Our meat will therefore have a preference of 3 cents, equalling l$d. per lb. The fresh meat imported by Canada consists chiefly of pork, of which the United States of America supplied about £500,000 worth. Australia’s total export trade in frozen meat in 1922-23 amounted to just under £7,000,000.
Canada’s imports of canned meat for the year ended March, 1924, totalled 3,340,000 lb., valued at £83,000, the chief suppliers being the United Kingdom 1,154,082 lbs., and Argentine Republic 1,196,770 lbs. Under the present Canadian tariff the rates are 174 per cent. British preferential and 27-J per cent, general. Under the agreement the rate will be 15 per cent. British preferential and 27£ per cent, general, thus increasing the preference from 10 per cent, to- 12£ per cent. Australia has at present practically no trade in canned meats with Canada. The Canadian statistics show that for the year ended 31st March, 1923, the importation of Australian canned meats amounted to 53,333 lbs., and for the year ended 31st March, 1924, 56,412 lbs., of a value of about £1,300. The total Australian exports of canned meats to all countries in 1922-23 were of a value of £293,000.
Canadian imports of lard in the year ended 30th March, 1924, amounted to 10,400,000 lbs., valued at £245,000. Under the agreement Australian lard will be admitted at cent per lb., while the general tariff rate will be 2§ cents per lb., thus giving to Australia a preference of 2 cents, or Id. per lb. Australia has not yet exported any lard to Canada. We have, however, a small export trade to other countries, totalling in value £38,000.
Canada’s imports of tallow for the year ended March, 1924, were 466,252 lbs., of a value of about £7,500. The Canadian tariff rates at present are 15 per cent. British preferential, and 20 per cent, general tariff. Under the agreement these rates will be altered to 10 per cent. British preferential, and 20 per cent, general, thus increasing the preference from 5 per cent, to 10 per cent. Australia has not hitherto exported any tallow to Canada. Our total exportation of that commodity in 1922-23 was of a value of £1,635,000.
Eggs imported by Canada in the year ended March, 1924, totalled 6,512,812 dozen, of a value of approximately £406,000. At present the Canadian tariff rates are, per dozen, 2 cents British preferential, and 3 cents general. In the terms of the agreement the rates will be altered to, per dozen, 1 cent British preferential, and 4 cents general. In other words, Australian eggs will be admitted at 1 cent per dozen. In 1922 Australia exported to Canada 30,000 dozen eggs, but none have been sent to the dominion since that year. Australia has, however, a considerable export trade. In 1922-23 the exports were 1,236,000 dozen, valued at £103,000.
Canada’s imports of cheese for the year ended March, 1924, were 1,688,29”6 lbs, worth approximately £111,000. In this, as in the other items, Canada will alter her tariff for the purpose of increasing the preference. At present it is 1 cent per lb.; that will be increased to 3 cents, or l$d. per lb. Australian cheese will be admitted at 1 cent per lb. So far we have not sent any cheese to Canada. Our total export of cheese to all countries in 1922 amounted to £232,000.
Canada’s importations of butter in the year ended March, 1924, were 1,558,102 lbs, approximating in value £126,000. The present Canadian tariff imposes a duty on butter of 3 cents per lb., general. Under the conditions of the agreement Canada will alter her tariff to 2 cents per lb. British preferential, and 5’ cents general, thus increasing the preference from 1 cent to 3 cents, or l$d. per lb. In 1922 Australia exported 297,000 lbs. butter to Canada, and in 1923 13,758 lbs, but none in 1924. It may be mentioned that New Zealand supplied to the sister dominion 2,268,760 lbs. in 1922, 1,893,312 lbs. in 1923, and 1,296,707 lbs. in 1924. That was due to New Zealand having a preference over Australia.
– Will the agreement put New Zealand and Australia upon the same footing?
– Yes. Although the Commonwealth has only exported small quantities of butter to Canada, the export trade to overseas countries is, of course, very large. For example, in 1922-23 the value of the butter exported was £6,0S2,000.
In regard to onions, Australia will get the benefit of free admission under the British preferential tariff. The general tariff is 30 per cent, so that the preference will be 30 per cent. The total importations of onions by Canada in the year ended 30th March, 1924, were £81,000. Australia has done a small trade with Canada in this line, viz., in 1 922, £3,500, and in 1923, £6,700. The preference of 30 per cent, should materially increase that trade.
The item, “Apples, dried, aud other dried fruits,” includes all dried fruits except raisins and currants, prunes, bananas, dates and figs. Canada’s importations under this item in the year ended March, 1924, were 6,167,311 lb., of a value of £103,000. The present rates under the Canadian tariff are 17$ per cent. British preferential, and 25 per cent, general. These rates will be altered in accordance with the terms of the agreement to 12$ per cent. British preferential, and 27$ per cent, general, thus increasing the preference from 7$ to 15 per cent. Australian dried fruits coming within the item will be admitted at 12$ per cent.
Raisins and dried currants offer to the Commonwealth the largest opening for trade. The importations of currants into Canada during the year ended March, 1924, totalled 5,598,000 lb., of an approximate value of £114,000, and the importations of raisins totalled 38,792,000 lb., of a value of £663,000, making a total importation of currants and raisins of 19,800 tons, worth £777,000. For the year ended March, 1924, Australia exported to Canada currants to the value of £5,300, and raisins to the value of £100. In the Canadian tariff there is a suspended item for raisins and currants under which these products are to be admitted free, British preferential, and at 3 cents per lb., general. According to the terms of the agreement this suspended item will be brought into effect, and as a result currants and raisins of Australian origin will be admitted free, and have a preference of 3 cents, equalling l$d. per lb, or £14 per ton as against foreign currants and raisins. Greece is Canada’s chief supplier of currants Out of ‘ a total importation of 5,598,000 lb., Greece supplied 4,768,000 lb. Of raisins, the United States of America supplied 35,690,000 lb. of the total importation of 38,792,000. lb. On the average value of currants shown in the Canadian official statistics of imports, a preference of £14 per ton is equivalent to 30 per cent, ad valorem, and, on the average value of raisins, to 36. per cent, ad valorem. With this substantial preference Australian currants and raisins should have an excellent opportunity of supplying a very profitable proportion of Canadian requirements.
While Australia has not hitherto sent any appreciable quantities of raisins and currants to Canada, it has, of course, a very large surplus for export, which is rapidly increasing. For example, in the year 1922-23 our export of currants and raisins exceeded 15,000 tons, their value being £1,126,000.
Under the present Canadian tariff the duty on canned fruit is 1 cents a lb. British preferential, and 2 cents a lb. general tariff. The agreement requires the alteration of these rates to li cents a lb. British preferential, and 3^ cents a lb. general tariff, giving a preference of 2 cents, or Id., a lb. Australian canned fruits will be admitted at 1^ cents u lb. Canada’s imports of canned fruits in the year ending March, 1924, were 14,731,000 lb., valued at £294,000. Somewhat more, than half the quantity imported consisted of canned pineapples. Australia shared in this trade in the year mentioned 1p the extent of the negligible amount of £250. The United States of America supplied about 63 per cent, of the total. Australia has a considerable export trade in canned fruit, and the preference should enable a fair proportion of Canada’s trade to be secured.
The rates of the Canadian tariff on still wine are 55 cents a gallon British preferential, and 55 cents a gallon, plus 30 per cent., general tariff. These rates apply to still wines, the product of fresh grapes, containing 26 per cent. or less of proof spirit. There is an additional rate of 3 cents a gallon for each degree of proof over 26 per cent. Under Canada’s tariff treaty with France, the duty on French still wines is 15 cents a gallon up to 20 per cent, proof spirit, 20 cents a gallon over 20 per cent, and up to 23 per cent, proof spirit, 25 cents a gallon over 23 per cent, and up to 26 per cent, proof spirit, and if exceeding 26 per cent, proof spirit the rate ie 55 cents a gallon, plus 3 cents a gallon for each degree in excess of 26 per cent, up to the limit of 40 per cent, of proof spirit. Australian still wines bear the same rates of duty as are payable on the French still wines. On sparkling wines we shall have the same rates as France, that is, 9 dollars 30 cents a dozen quarts, 4 dollars 65 cents a dozen pints, and 2 dollars 32) cents a dozen half-pints; and, if the bottles exceed a quart, 4 dollars 50 cents a gallon. These rates are less a discount of 10 per cent. Canada’s importations of still wines for the year ending March, 1924, were 516.000 gallons, valued at £166,000. The value of the importations of sparkling wines for the same year was £57,000. Australia has not hitherto exported wines to Canada except in quite negligible quantities. In the year 1922-23, however, the exports of Australian wines overseas totalled 698,000 gallons- of still wines, valued at £153,000, and 2,255 gallons of sparkling wines, valued at £4,390.
Under the agreement the preference on glue and gelatine will be increased from 7 A to 15 per cent. The importations into Canada of gelatine and isinglass were 963,419 lb., valued at £75,000, and of powdered and sheet glue 2,093,601 lb., valued at £44,000. The value of imported liquid glue was £16,300. Australia has not exported any of these goods to Canada. In 1922-3, however, we exported to countries other than Canada, £14,000 worth of glue and gelatine.
In addition to these items, Canada also proposes to grant Australia some degree of preference on beeswax, honey, and eucalyptus oil, and a substantial preference on canned vegetables, pears, quinces, apricots and nectarines, and brandy.
The position may be summed up as follows : - Australia offers Canada preference on twelve items - seven at British preferential rates and five at intermediate rates. Canada offers Australia British preference on fourteen important items of primary production and six items of minor importance, all of which Australia has a surplus for export. As to the probable advantages to be obtained by the treaty for the two dominions, it is not difficult to estimate the probable advantage to Canada. On the latest Canadian exports to Australia, plus an anticipated increase in newsprint up to 30,000 tons, the value of the preference to that country will be approximately £200,000 or more per annum. The value of the preference to Australia cannot be estimated, but the agreement provides an excellent opportunity for our entry into a large and profitable market, of which it is hoped our primary exporters will be able to take full advantage.
In conclusion, I remind honorable members that these negotiations have been going on for some years. They were initiated by Senator Pearce during his visit to Canada in 1921. As a result of that visit, Mr. Robb, Canadian Minister for Trade and Commerce, came to
Australia in 1922, but as Australia was in the midst of an election, nothing satisfactory could be done. The Prime Minister’s personal touch with Mr. McKenzie King, the Prime Minister of Canada, when in London last year, paved the way for the visit of Senator Wilson and Major Oakley, Comptroller-General of Customs, to Canada, when the negotiations were further advanced. Now, for the first time, these two Anglo-Saxon dominions have clasped hands across the Pacific. After many complicated and delicate negotiations the matter has been brought to a sucessful culmination. The proposals before the House have been examined, and have the full approval of the Tariff Board. Being a treaty, it must be accepted in its entirety or rejected ; it cannot be amended. These proposals are of world-wide importance, bringing closer the accomplishment of inter-Imperial preferential trade. Should our hopes be realized, both dominions will continue working for an extension of this treaty. For these reasons, I do not hesitate to ask honorable members to adopt this resolution, with the sure and certain knowledge that in doing so they will not endanger any Australian industry, but will open up a large potential market for our primary produce through the very substantial preference offered. The agreement has not yet been approved by the Canadian Parliament, which at present is in recess. When it is approved by that Parliament, a proclamation will be issued by the Commonwealth Government.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Anstey) adjourned.
In Committee of Ways and Means:
.- I move-
A motion in similar terms, but dealing with the export of dairy produce, has already been before honorable members. It was desired to insert certain amendments in the bill that followed, but as the amendments should have been moved when the motion was before the Committee of Ways and Means, honorable members were precluded from moving them. Honorable members, if they so desire, now have the opportunity to amend this’ motion, which imposes a rate not exceeding1/8d. a lb. upon dried fruits exported from Australia. The measure tobe founded on it is complementary to the bill which was recently passed’ establishing a board for the control! of the export of dried fruits. Representatives of the industry, through theAustralian Dried Fruits Association, have been in consultation with the Government on this subject, andthey are in. favour of a levy being made to meet the expenses of the control board, including: expenditure upon general advertising and propaganda. I ask the committee to agree to the motion.
.- I move -
That the word “ one-eighth “ be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof “ onesixteenth “.
The Prime Minister has said that it is estimated that 32,000 tons of dried fruit will be exported this year. A levy of one-eighth of1d. per lb. on that quantity would yield £37,333, which seems to me to be more than is necessary to meet the expenses of the proposed board and the London agency, even allowing for advertising expenses. A levy of one-sixteenth of1d. would yield £18,666, which should be ample. The growers do not desire that high salaries shall be paid to the members of the board. A salary of £500 a year for each of the seven members of the Australian board, and a similar amount for each of the three members of the London board, would involve an expenditure of £5,000 in salaries, which would leave nearly £15,000 to pay the necessary staff and conduct propaganda work. Were it not for fear of being ruled out of order 1 should have moved that the total amount to be paid in salaries, fees and wages should not exceed £7,000, and I might then have agreed to the levy remaining at one eighth of1d. If no limit is fixed to the salaries payable to the board members, the natural desire of the members to obtain high salaries will be too strong for them to resist. I regret that the fruitgrowers will not know the proposed salary expenses before the poll provided for in the main bill is taken. Some of the growers may vote against the scheme for the reason that they fear that high salaries will be paid.
– I regret that the honorable member has moved this amendment, and I hope he will not persist in it. In the first years of the operation of this scheme the board should have ample means at its disposal, and if we err at all it should not be by providing it with too little money. As its duty will be to organize the distribution of our dried fruits in the markets of the world, it is inevitable that in the early days of its operation a great deal of propaganda work and advertising will be necessary, which at a later date might not be needed. In view of all the circumstances, I do not think that a levy of one-eighth of1d. per lb. is unreasonable. Even if the levy is reduced to one-sixteenth of1d., the amount payable by the individual grower will not be appreciably reduced. I regret that the honorable member for Angas has given his view of the amount of salary which the members of the board should draw, but as he has done so it would be just as well for me to express my opinion. I did not intend to do so, for I think the matter should be left to the discretion of the board. There should be no necessity for this board to be sitting constantly, and I do not think that all of its members will have full-time jobs. The payment of £500 a year would, in my opinion, be extravagant for part-time officers who might be called in only occasionally to give advice and to assist in formulating the general policy of the board. Their remuneration could very well be by fees of so much for each sitting. This is a matter for the board to determine when it meets. The Government has retained the right to veto any decision of the board so that extravagance may be prevented. The growers, who will elect the majority of the board members, may be relied upon to appoint men who can be safely trusted to look after their interests and prevent extravagance.
.- I am glad that I mentioned a specific sum as a possible remuneration for the board members for the reason that it has led the Prime Minister to express his view. I hope the committee will decide in favour of my amendment.
.- I presume that provision will be made in the proposed bill, as in the Dairy Export Charges Bill, for a lower rate of levy to be prescribed by regulation?
– That will be so.
Question - That the word proposed to be omitted stand part of the motion - put. The committee divided.
Majority . . . . 13
Question so resolved in the affirmative
Standing orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Mr. Bruce and Mr. Bowden do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. Bruce and passed through all stages without amendment or debate.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
I wish to refer to the action of the Postal Department in countermanding orders for electrical insulators. Yesterday, I asked the following questions of the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Gibson) : -
Is it a fact that the Postmaster-General’s Departmentis importing telephone and telegraph insulators from Austria or elsewhere?
Will he inform the House as to the quantity and value of insulators supplied to the Department by the Maribyrnong Pottery?
Have these locally-made insulators given satisfaction?
If so, will he instruct his officers to purchase supplies from the local manufacturers?
The replies I received were -
The department has asked the factory to withhold the execution of an order for 400,000 insulators until next year. I do not know whether “ next year “ means the next calendar year or the next financial year. As a result of this action about 60 employees will be thrown out of work in less than a week. I ask the Prime Minister, in the absence of the PostmasterGeneral, to have investigations made with a view, if possible, to allowing the orders to be executed. Such action would be very much appreciated by the men con cerned and their families. I remind him that insulators do not deteriorate if kept in stock. I have received the following telegram from Sydney: -
Statement made to you in House last evening very misleading. We have a plant capable of turning out 3,000,000 Postmaster-General type insulators per year. We are contractors for these to Postmaster -General’s Department, but are asked by Department to reduce quantities. Part our plant lying idle.
Fowler Ltd., Marrickville.
Employees in this industry are being thrown out of work in both Melbourne and Sydney. The Postmaster-General informed me, privately, that a large number of insulators was wanted at a particular time. These factories’ have supplied the requirements of the department for a long time, and have stood every test. It is a crying shame that men should now be thrown out of employment when the factories in which they are employed have produced in the past an article that has met with the entire approval of the postal authorities. I have been wondering whether the post office, under its new management, is controlled by men from abroad imbuedwith free trade ideas, who prefer to deal with foreigners rather than Australians. If that is so the department should be cleaned out at once. I ask the Prime Minister to countermand the order of the Postmaster-General and allow the manufacture of these insulators to proceed for at least a month or two.
– I cannot see that the tariff enters into the consideration of this question. I support whole heartedly the suggestion’s of the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton). The practice of the department has been to get all its insulators manufactured, as far as possible, locally. The only reason stated for making purchases from abroad is that the local manufacturers cannot meet heavy demands at certain times. If that is so it is not wise that the requirements of the department should be withheld to suit the convenience of local manufactures; but if the local manufacturers are able to meet the needs of the department, it would be a great pity, and is opposed to the policy of ‘the Government and of honorable members on this side, to throw men unnecessarily out of employment. I hope that the suggestions of the honorable member for Maribymong will receive sympathetic and serious consideration.
– I wish to speak in support of the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton). I have been approached by representatives of a number of the men employed in these factories. The position does not seem to be very satisfactory. They are faced with unemployment, although they have been for several years working to the complete satisfaction of the department. A large number of insulators was imported from Czecho-Slovakia this year, because of the extra demands made as a result of the expansion of work in the department. That work is still going on. While I do not wish to see the work held up, I have no hesitation in saying that it is bad management to be importing insulators in the early part of the year and asking local manufacturers later in the year to refrain from executing orders, I have heard that the department has huge stocks on hand. That would suggest that too much importation has been indulged in. If the department is not holding large stocks, what objection can there he to proceeding with the local orders and building up stocks? The statement has been made that local factories cannot supply the- needs of the department at certain times. I believe that the factories in Victoria and in New South Wales oan supply the whole of the insulators required by the Postmaster-General’s Department. The industry is in the unfortunate position that the local factories must look to the Australian governments as practically their only customers. The industry was established here, I think, in 1908, and it had an uphill fight against the prejudice of the departments. Eventually both state and federal departments recognized the satisfactory quality of the locally-made insulators. I believe that for many years there were no importations of these articles. Unfortunately, the Commonwealth Government has resumed importation, and I have been told that nearly 100 men have been given notice of discharge from the factory established in the electorate of the honorable member for Maribyrnong. I impress upon the Prime Minister that action similar to that to which the hon orable member has taken exception is becoming somewhat frequent. Only recently I was obliged to refer to the importation for the Navy Department of many articles which are made in Australia in scores of factories. Early in the year I was on a deputation to the then Acting Prime Minister (Dr. Earle Page) to make a protest on behalf of the strawboard manufacturers of Australia against the importation of strawboard. For the first time I think in the history of the Commonwealth the Government at that time imported strawboard for one of the departments, although in Australia we are making the article in excess of local requirements. This kind of thing is diametrically opposed to the protectionist policy of the country. It is of no use for the Government to claim to support the protectionist policy if, when it has something to buy, it goes abroad to buy it. I trust, that the Prime Minister will see the Postmaster-General in connexion with, this matter, and ask him to adopt the suggestion of the honorable member for Maribyrnong, to go on with the contract with the firms manufacturing insulators, and build up a stock sufficient to meet the heavy demands which will be made as a result of a policy of expansion by the Postmaster-General’s Department.
, - I regret very much that the PostmasterGeneral is not present. I shall bring under his notice all the representations that have been made, and shall stress the fact that they are urgent, in view of the possible discharge from employment of workers in the electorates of the honorable members for Maribyrnong (Mr, Fenton) and Lang (Sir Elliot Johnson). I regret that I am unable to furnish full information on the subject, but so far as I know the fact is that these insulators were imported, as the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) has suggested, 1o meet the extraordinary demand due .to the very rapid expansion in connexion with the telephone service. Whilst I agree with honorable members opposite that it would be a great mistake to import large quantities of these articles, and subsequently have to cancel orders given in Australia, when we have an industry established here that is able to meet current demands, I remind them that it would be a serious blunder if, because of a large sudden demand due to considerable expansion of works by the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, we were to encourage the extension of plant and the employment of a large number of additional hands in the industry when a slackening in the demand later would inevitably lead to a large number of workers being thrown out of employment. I shall have all the circumstances looked into; I shall discuss the matter with the Postmaster-General, and shall ask him to let the honorable member for Maribyrnong have an immediate reply to his representations.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.18 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 26 September 1924, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1924/19240926_reps_9_109/>.