10th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir Littleton Groom) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
-As I understand that whilst the present reciprocal tariff treaty with South Africa continues in force, the alterations proposed in the tariff schedule now under consideration by the House will have no more effect than did those which were proposed in the tariff schedule passed in 1922, can the Minister for Trade and Customs inform the House whether the South African reciprocal tariff treaty will be cancelled ?
– The honorable member’s premises are correct; but the Government has decided to cancel the treaty with South Africa he has referred to, which, I think, is dated so long ago as 1906. A bill for this purpose has been prepared, and if the state of public business permits, it may be passed this week.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral whether, in connexion with the proposed Arbitration and Conciliation Bill, he has consulted the trade unions of Australia that are likely to be affected by the proposed legislation, or will he undertake to do so before the bill is introduced 1
– I have already received a considerable amount of assistance from representatives of the trade union movement in the inquiries which I am making, and the work I am doing in connexion with the matter mentioned by the honorable member. It is certainly the desire and object of the Government to obtain further assistance of that character. While the House is sitting as at present, it is very difficult indeed, as the honorable member will understand, to do very much work on the subject. But when the House rises it is intended to obtain the assistance of all sections of the community.
– Has the Prime Minister any information to give the House concerning what is being done by Amalgamated Wireless Limited? The representative of the company, who went to Great Britain in. connexion with its business, is now back in Australia., and I should like to know what has Been done.
– Mr. Mason Allard, the chairman of the Amalgamated Wireless Company, went to Great Britain last year in connexion with the establishment of the beam station in Great Britain, to endeavour to obtain the consentof the’ British Government to our having our own reciprocal station there, and also to negotiate with regard to the rates between the British Government and the Australian company in the event of our not obtaining a licence to work our own station. I have only within the last two or three days received areport from him, and it is now under the consideration of the Government.
Sale of Alcoholic Liquors
– Will the Prime Minister give the House an opportunity of discussing whether or not the sale of alcoholic liquors shall be permitted at Canberra ?
– The question is now under the consideration of the Government, and when a decision has been arrived at, an announcement will be made to the House.
Vacancy for Ministerial Messenger
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Mr.PRATTEN.- The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow. -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
How long is it anticipated it will ‘be before the reclassification will be finalized by the Commonwealth Public Service Board and duly gazetted in respect of the Postmaster-General’s Department in South Australia?
– Certain sections of the classification have already been finalized, and the Public Service Board is endeavouring to complete the whole of the classification by the end of 1926.
Wages and Allowances : Linemen, Telegraphists
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made, and the desired information will be furnished as soon as possible.
Treaty of Locarno
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Mr.BRUCE. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
The method of execution shall be by contract, but in special cases the Minister may approve of execution by departmental labour, provided that the work is carried out according to approved methods of construction in which modern plant is utilized to the fullest extent.
– On the 19th instant the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Parsons) asked a question in regard to the installation of electric headlights on Commonwealth railway engines. I have received the following information from the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner : -
Prices in London and Australia.
– On the 11th March, the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) asked the Minister representing the Minister for Markets and Migration the following question : -
Will he supply the Housewith return showing from the time of the inauguration of the Paterson butter bonus system- (a) The daily English prices per lb. of Australian butter sold in London; (5) the daily price per lb. of butter sold in Melbourne; (c) the sum per lb. paid, on Australian butter exported, with the total amount paid to date.
I am now in a position to give the honorable member the following information : -
The Commonwealth Government is in no way connected with the Paterson butter scheme, which was devised and put into operation by the dairy industry. The Stabilization Committee, however, has been good enough to furnish the Department of Markets and Migration with the following replies for the information of the honorable member: - (a) and (b) The retail prices for butter in London and Melbourne vary considerably, according to the locality in which it is retailed, but, generally, the retail price is about 2d. to 3d. per lb., above the wholesale price. The London wholesale average prices, since the 1st January last to date, were - January, 167s. per cwt. ; February, 166s. per cwt. ; and March, 166s. per cwt. The Melbourne wholesale prices for the same period ranged from 168s. to 191s. 4d. per cwt. (c) Threepence (3d.) per lb. is paid to producers on butter exported. The total paid to date is nearly £150,000.
– On the 19th March the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) asked the following questions : -
I am now able to furnish the honorable member with the following information : -
The particulars sought are not recorded separately, but the value of dry cells and accumulators imported during the period mentioned amounted to £196,351.
Customs and Excise Duties
In Committee of Ways and Means:
Consideration resumed from 22nd
March (vide page 1866).
– I move -
That the- item be amended to read -
Wood naphtha and methyl alcohol, free.
Acetone on and after the 1st January, 1927, 30 , per cent. (British), 35 per cent. (intermediate), 40 per cent. (general).
When the tariff, schedule was introduced in September last, I stated that there were 47 items in regard to which there were decreases, and that they had not yet been inquired into by the Tariff Board. This is one item respecting which the Government proposes to de crease the duties. In view of the important defence aspect of acetone and also of the possibility of its manufacture being renewed here by Cuming, Smith and Co. Pty. Ltd., for commercial as well as defence purposes, it is proposed to amend the item as indicated. Such additional duty will, of course, only operate should our practical requirements of acetone be manufactured here, and then only after report and inquiry by the. Tariff Board.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
.- I do not understand why, under the tariff, egg albumen, dry, is dutiable, while egg yoke and albumen combined, is free. This seems to be an extraordinary anomaly in the tariff.
Mr.PRATTEN (Martin- Minister for Trade and Customs) [11.19]. - Under item 46 of the general tariff, the duty on egg albumen, dry, is at per lb., 2s. 6d., 3s., and 3s., and it is this item which the committee is asked to amend. Under item 47, which is not included in the tariff alterations, the duty on egg contents, being yoke and albumen combined, dry, at per lb., is 1s. 4d.,1s. 8d., and1s. 8d. We have a large importation of egg albumen, totalling 32,000 lb. weight. Of this, China supplies 31,523 lb., valued at over £7,000. The Australian poultry growers made application for an increased duty, and, after full investigation, the rates as set out were recommended. It is estimated that, to meet our own requirements of egg albumen, an additional 4,000,000 eggs would have to be used in Australia.
Item agreed to.
.- I have already intimated to the Minister that I wish to amend the sub-item relating to asparagus. I have been informed that I am not permitted to move an amend ment to increase the tariff, and I therefore suggest to the Minister that he should move in the direction that I shall indicate. The proposed duties are as follow : -
I suggest to the Minister that these duties be altered by deleting the rates in sub-item 2b, and inserting in lieu thereof 4s.. 5s., and 6s.: by deleting the rates in sub-item 2c, and inserting in lieu thereof 6s., 7s., and 8s. 6d.; and by deleting the rates in sub-item 2d; and inserting in lieu thereof 7s., 8s., and 9s. 6d.
I ask the Minister to accept these suggested, amendments, because hitherto the Australian asparagus-growing industry has received very little encouragement. As a matter of fact, it has been confined largely to market gardeners, who, by the cultivation of a few acres, have supplied a portion of the asparagus requirements of the Commonwealth. The position to-day respecting this industry is somewhat serious, because the growers are meeting with severe competition from California. As the Australian industry is on the eve of considerable expansion, the Government would be wise to give it further assistance in the direction asked for, to relieve the growers of any unnecessary handicap. At Barwon Heads, in my electorate, a considerable area of asparagus is being cultivated. One grower, Mr. Foster, has 250 acres already planted, and this year he will be cutting for the first time. There are many other smaller growers in Victoria and in the other States. This industry is in its infancy, and requires fostering. The growers have asked for additional assistance merely as part of the policy of protection, of which we in Australia are justly proud. There are few, if any, primary industries that require so much labour as does the growing of asparagus. In California an asparagus farm of 130 acres employs for several months of the year no fewer than 108 men. This industry offers extensive employment at a season of the year when many men are looking for work. It is stated that the wages alone for every acre of asparagus . grown amount to £85. In addition, a considerable number of people are engaged in the canning of asparagus. Honorable members will, therefore, recognize the importance of this industry. The Australian growers are confronted with one great disability. In California the asparagus growing industry is carried on with coloured labour. Few white people are employed in the actual growing of asparagus. The whole of the labour is undertaken by Japanese, Chinese, Hindus, Philippines, ‘Kanakas, Mexicans, and Portuguese. TheCalifornian growers are, therefore, able to place their produce on the Australian market at a price with which it is absolutely impossible for Australian growers to compete. I ask the Minister to give this industry the necessary measure of protection.
– What is the Californian tariff ?
– I do not know. I understand that it does not in any way assist the Australian industry. Our present tariff permits of dumping, and that is what is taking place to-day. I have with me a few sample tins of imported asparagus. The duty under the general tariff on a small tin of 10½ oz. is 2s. a dozen tins. The ad valorem rate increases the duty to 2s. l1/2d. a dozen tins. The article is sold at about1s. 4d. a tin. The edible contents in this 101/2-oz. tin are equal to 76 per cent, of the edible contents of the large tin, but, dutiable at the latter is 8s. 6d. a dozen.
– I cannot understand that.
– On the 15-oz. tins the duty is 4s. a dozen.
Mr.Hughes. - How do the contents of the large and intermediate tins compare ?
– The intermediate tin contains only what are known as “ tips,” and its edible . contents are equal to those of the larger tin. which contains a greater length of stem. The American canner pays the grower 3d. per lb. for asparagus for canning purposes, but, owing to the greater cost of production in this country the Australian canner pays the grower 7d. per lb.
– The Californian asparagus is grown by coloured labour.
– It is grown largely by Japanese, Chinese. Philippinos, and other coloured labour. The Australian canner is heavily handicapped, and unless he is granted more protection, he must abandon the industry. This is practically a new primary industry, and I hope Australian people are sufficiently patriotic to pay a little more, or even a good deal more, for a local article produced under the best conditions. The quality of Gee- long asparagus is recognized all over Australia. One gentleman in my electorate has invested about £30,000 in the industry, and others have laid out large sums. Since the tariff was increased,the price of Californian asparagus hasdeclined, and the101/2-oz. tin of “tips” is being dumped in Australia and retailed at about1s. 4d. The fostering of this industry will give additional employment to tin-platers, manufacturers of containers, and printers. The first heavy crop is to be cut this year, over a fairly extensive area. I am informed that the industry only requires to be established on a firm footing, and then will be able te compete successfully with importations, and prices will fall. If I am not permitted to move an amendment to increase the duty, I request the Minister to favorably consider the request that I have made on behalf of the growers.
– I support the request made by the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Lister). This industry should certainly receive assistance from the Government. If the honorable member for Corio has evidence that 10-oz. tins of asparagus “tips” are being dumped at the present time, he should bring the facts under the notice of the Minister, so that the antidumping legislation may be brought into operation against such imports. Honorable members must, recognize, however, that no matter how high the duty on asparagus, unless the Australian canner produces an equally good article the imported commodity will hold the market. Much of the asparagus that we see for sale in the shops and streets of Melbourne is not up to the Californian standard.
– Has the honorable member tried A.J.C. asparagus?
– I am not speaking of the canned article. The asparagus grown on tb.p Macquarie flats is equal to the best that is imported. It is marketed in a way that is a credit to the grower, and always brings the highest prices in the Sydney market. The Australian grower is producing, under conditions which involve heavier costs than are borne by his foreign competitors, and, therefore, he is entitled to assistance from the tariff.’ The growing of asparagus entails a great deal of labour, and this committee would be well advised to grant additional assistance to the canners. If they produce an article of the same quality as the imported asparagus, they will find a profitable market; if the quality is not what it should be, the public; will still pay more for the foreign commodity.
– I heartily endorse the request of the honorable member for Corio. There is a big opportunity for Australian producers of asparagus. It is unfortunate that at big public banquets, even in this building, we have to place before our guests Californian asparagus. Considerable areas of this country are capable of producing asparagus of the very best quality, and it is a pity that the local market is not supplied by the Australian growers and canners. As the honorable member for Corio pointed out, the encouragement of asparagus canning will give increased employment in tin factories and printing and lithographic establishments. Most honorable members have a bed of asparagus in the kitchen garden, and know what a delectable article it is. Already considerable sums of money have been invested in the asparagusgrowing industry, and with the splendid soil available in Australia, there is no reason why its production should not extend very rapidly. As stated by the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Lister), the Californian product which comes into competition with the Australian article, is handled by black labour. In California, many Asiatics have obtained large areas of land which they have planted with asparagus, and, in view of the unfair competition with which the Australian producers have to contend, there is no reason why a fairly heavy duty should not be imposed in order to keep this trade in the hands of our people. As it is not competent for a member to move for an increase in duty, I trust that, in view of the general support accorded to the honorable member for Corio, the Minister will amend the schedule in the direction suggested.
– I believe that what the honorable member, for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) has said is quite right, and, if the statements of the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Lister), and those who have supported him, are correct, there can be no reason why this industry should not be further protected. The sample tins produced by the honorable member for Corio, particularly the two smaller, make it obvious that the Californian producers are attempting to evade duty by reducing the length of the asparagus stalks. Asparagus has to be eaten much like maccaroni; but how it can be so eaten when only the tips are served, I do not know. One reason that disposes me to favour the local product is that asparagus has to be picked by hand, and, as the imported product is handled in many cases by Asiatics and other coloured labour, there is the possibility that certain diseases, which are endemic among such peoples, may be communicated to the purchasers. Consequently, I prefer asparagus picked by white men. In the electorate of the honorable member for Corio, and in other parts of Australia, asparagus can be grown which will compare favorably with that produced in any other part of the world. By increasing the duty we shall be giving encouragement to an Australian industry, and an emphatic and most complete reply to the efforts of the Calif ornian producers. I propose to support the very modest request of the honorable member for Corio.
.- I have gone carefully into this matter, particularly in regard to the suggestion that the duty on the smaller tins of asparagus should be raised. I believe that a deliberate attempt is being . made by the Californian producers to evade the payment of duty. This can be confirmed bv an examination of the specimen tins submitted this morning by the honorable member for Corio. I support the suggestion of the honorable member for the reasons for which I have always supported an embargo on sugar and bananas grown by coloured labour. It is unreasonable to allow the Californian product, fully 90 per cent, of which is cultivated by Chinese, Japanese, and Hindus, to compete with the Australian article. During the last Parliament I asked the Minister for Agriculture in New South Wales if asparagus was being canned at the Government cannery at Leeton. Six months later the Minister informed me that the work had been undertaken and a trial pack produced, but that they were handicapped in having to compete with the Californian’ asparagus, which was shipped to Australia in small tins, and at a price with which the Australian canners could not compete. “ I understand that the wages costs in cultivating asparagus amount to approximately £85 per acre. As Australians can produce almost anything from the land, there does not appear to be any valid reason why we should be importing a vegetable of this type when it has been clearly shown that it can be successfully grown in this country. I trust that the Minister will agree to an increased duty, to the extent indicated, as I understand that if a higher rate is imposed the Australian producers will not attempt in any’ way to increase the present prices.
.- I trust the Minister (Mr. Pratten) will give favorable consideration to the suggestion of the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Lister). If he is favorable to the proposed increase, he should inform the committee and thus save time, because I am quite satisfied that an overwhelming majority is in favour of higher duties.
.- I strongly support the request of the honorable member for Corio, as I consider the present duty altogether inadequate. It is a disgrace to Australia that we have to obtain supplies of asparagus from California. I remember the day when our warehouses were fully stocked with Californian fruits, and when consumers, in what might be termed the best homes, refused to eat Australian canned fruit. We’ have, however, fortunately passed that stage, and the Australian canned fruit is now very largely used in preference to the imported article. Any honorable member who has sampled the A.J.C. brand of asparagus must admit that it is equal, if not superior, to the imported product. In these circumstances it is ridiculous to suggest that we should depend on California for our supplies. I trust that the Government will further support this primary industry, and enable Australian growers to place larger supplies on the market than they have been able to do in the past owing to the inadequate duty imposed.
– In view of the practically unanimous desire of the committee that a more effective duty should be imposed, I ask the committee to postpone consideration of this item to enable the suggested amendment of the honorable member for Corio to be examined, with a view to meeting the wish of the committee in a practical way.
Item 57 -
By omitting the whole of sub-item (c) and inserting in its stead the following subitem: - “ (c) Maize, per cental, 2s. 6d. (British), 3s. (intermediate), 3s. 6d. (general).”
– Honorable members will notice that an increased duty is proposed on maize. In the 1921 tariff the British preferential duty on this commodity was ls. 6d. per cental, and when this was imposed it was the belief of those engaged in the growing of maize that they would be protected to the extent of 3s. per cental, but owing, to a reciprocal trade agreement with South . Africa, it was found that South African maize could be imported under a duty of ls. per cental. The Minister (Mr. Pratten) has not told us what the Government proposes to do in regard to’ the agreement with South Africa. Is it proposed to denounce the treaty?
– He said that it is to be cancelled .
– Very well. That brings me to the point that I want to make. If it is denounced the duty on maize will be 3s. 6d.
– Unless a reciprocal arrangement is made by which South Africa will get the benefit of the British preference.
– That is so. What I suggest, and what the conference of the Chamber of Manufactures asks, is that if and when the Trade Treaty with. South Africa is denounced, steps shall be taken to prevent cargoes of maize grown under black labour conditions in South Africa from being dumped into this country in the event of a shortage occurring in our supplies of locally-grown maize. To my knowledge two shipments came in last season.
– A good many more than two came in.
– Even those two shipments threatened to destroy the maize industry in Australia. . According to the sworn evidence of maize-growers, it costs 4s. l0d. per bushel to produce maize. The maize-growers at Atherton say that they cannot grow it at that price, and that applies to the growers in the greater part of Queensland. Although it may be possible for maize-growers in Victoria to grow it profitably at less than 4s. lOd. per bushel, room should be allowed for a reasonable profit to be made. But if maize rises above 6s/ 6d. per bushel it does not pay the local manufacturers to use it to make maize products, and the American manufacturers, who use maize grown by cheap foreign labour, are able to com pete successfully against them in the local market. I presume that negotiations have taken place, or are taking place, for the denouncing of the South African Trade Treaty. If no satisfactory reciprocal treaty is made which will in itself overcome the difficulty that I have outlined, will the Minister give us an assurance that the whole matter will he referred to the Tariff Board immediately, so that our secondary industries will be certain of adequate protection to ensure their stability and permanence? It is necessary to protect, not only the maizegrower against importations from South Africa, but. also the local manufacturers, who use maize to produce glucose, starch, cornflour, and other maize products, against manufacturers abroad who use maize grown by black labour. Thousands of people are employed in the maize-using secondary industries in Australia, and tens of thousands of pounds of capital have been invested in them. I am sure that the Minister will see that, should circumstances arise which force the price of maize up in Australia, and so make it impossible for the local manufacturers to use it profitably, it is only logical and just that there should be a readjustment of the duty which would enable them to carry on their businesses as usual.
.- I was pleased to hear the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten) say that steps were being taken to denounce the Trade Treaty with South Africa, but I was somewhat alarmed to hear the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) suggest that it was possible that a reciprocal agreement might be made with South Africa which would give a preference to South African maize grown by black labour. We should make it impossible for maize grown by black labour in South Africa to compete with maize grown by white labour in Australia. As the right honorable member for North Sydney pointed out, the natural sequence to protecting our maize-grower3 is protecting the manufacturers who use locallygrown maize in our secondary industries. I should like the Minister for Trade and Customs to give us an assurance that he will . earnestly consider the whole matter. If large quantities of maize are imported to Australia from South Africa, there is no doubt whatever that the local maizegrowers will be ruined. I trust that if a new trade treaty is made with South Africa there will be no provision for a preference for South African maize.
. I agree with the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) that the natural corollary to protecting the local maize-grower against importations from cheap labour countries abroad, is protecting the local manufacturers of maize products against manufacturers from abroad who use maize grown by cheap labour. There is a very large factory making maize products in my constituency, and it would do honorable members good to pay it a visit to see the first class products that it manufactures.
– What is the good of developing secondary industries if the primary industries must be destroyed to do so?
– I have always argued that our primary and secondary industries must work hand in hand ; and that the development of primary industries in Australia is of little use without the development of secondary industries, and vice versa. I do not trouble the Minister for Trade and Customs very often, but I have had necessity to bring under his notice the fact that a good deal of foreign glucose manufactured by black labour, and made from maize grown by black labour, is being imported. ‘ I am sure that neither Parliament nor the Minister himself stands for that kind of thing. I agree, also with the honorable member for Herbert (Dr. Nott) that no provision should be made in any new trade treaty that may be arranged with South Africa for a preference for South African maize grown by black labour. There should be an embargo on its importation.
– We cannot go too far with the embargo policy. South Africa takes a lot of our wheat and flour.
– But we must go far enough to protect our secondary industries against black labour products. We have been successful in doing so up to the present, and I see no reason why we should not continue to be successful.
– Consideration must be given to the nature of our trade with South Africa.
– In developing the interempire trade policy, we must take care that we do not consent to anything that will crush our local primary or secon dary industries. Developments are occurring in a certain part of the Empire which I will not name, which suggest to me that our wheat-growers are in danger.
– The honorable member need not fear that.
– If the experiments being conducted there continue to be successful, our wheat-growers will be subjected to very serious competition.
– The honorable member need not worry about them. .
– They may be all right for the present, but I am looking into the future. Surely honorable members who represent maize-growers desire to protect their constituents. I hope that the Minister will make a statement to the effect that adequate protection will be afforded both our primary and secondary maize industries.
– I agree that our maize-growers should be protected against importations from countries with cheap labour conditions; but at the same time it must be remembered that in drought periods in Australia maize is one of our best standbys Without it we should lose thousands more head of stock. In such periods I and other honorable members have known maize to be 10s. 6d. a bushel; and even at that price the supplies were inadequate. If the wonderfully beneficial rains we have just had throughout Australia had held off for another six weeks, I venture to say that maize would have been 10s. a bushel. We should be careful that the duty on foreign-grown maize is not so heavy that in ‘drought times it will be impossible, on the score of expense, for our pastoralists and farmers to import it. Consideration for a few moments of what would happen if we were not able to obtain maize in a serious drought period, would compel even the most ardent protectionist to agree to the abandonment of the duty on it during such a period.
– How does the honorable member suggest that a sliding scale to suit circumstances could be administered ?
– I am merely seeking information. If Parliament were in session there would be no trouble; but I am thinking of occasions when it might be otherwise. Perhaps the GovernorGeneral in Council could be given authority in those circumstances to vary or dispense with the duty. I consider it is essential, in the interest of the stock- owners themselves, that this duty should be imposed. Otherwise many local growers would cease to produce, and when required in times of drought, supplies would not be available. I suggest, however, that, if possible, provision should be made that, in times of drought, such as occurred in 1902, 1914, and 1919, if sufficient supplies of home-grown maize are not available, the duty should be suspended. It is essential to the continued prosperity of Australia that in such periods every head of stock possible shall be saved. I should like to know whether the Minister is prepared to consider the practicability of an arrangement such as I have suggested.
– Would the honorable member be prepared to give the Minister & general power to dispense with duties ?
– If the Government on this, or any other occasion, did so, it would act at its own peril. If it so abused the occasion as to lose the support of the House, it would naturally suffer. The position is very acute, and requires the careful consideration of the committee.
– The adoption of the honorable member’s suggestions would not effect a cure.
– I am not indicating a cure; I am pointing to a situation that is certain to arise. History is bound to repeat itself. This country is subject to periodical droughts, and we have just narrowly escaped one. A continuance of dry weather for another three months would have been very seripus.
– Why legislate specially for maize? Why not apply the same policy to other products?
– I am directing attention to a difficulty that will surely arise in the future - a difficulty which had not been mentioned before I rose - and, in directing attention toit, I am surely doing no more than my duty. If it is within the power of the right honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt), or the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), to provide a solution, the committee is no doubt ready to listen to them.
– I support the views of the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Manning), who has raised a very important point. 1 admit that the interjections of the right honorable member for Balaclava, and the right honorable member for North Sydney, are pertinent, but the point raised by the honorable member for Macquarie, notwithstanding the difficulties surrounding it, must be considered. Two figures were mentioned in relation to the cost of growing maize. 4s. lOd. was stated as the cost of growing maize, and the right honorable member for North Sydney mentioned 6s. 6d.
– I said that the manufacturers contended that when the price of maize rose above 6s. 6d., they could not compete with foreign manufacturers cf maize products.
– When the price of maize, by drought or other conditions, increases to 6s. 6d., the maize-growers receive well above the cost of production. Is it not anomalous, in those circumstances, to impose a heavy duty ? The value of maize as a stock fodder in times of drought should be taken into consideration.
– Does not the honorable member admit that the stock-raiser’s extremity is the fodder-grower’s opportunity ?
– Does not the right honorable member for Balaclava see that he is shifting his ground when he talks like that? The primary object of imposing a duty on maize is to protect maize-growers against maize grown by black labour in South Africa. Now it is suggested that the duty is to be used, not as a protection against the blackgrown maize of South Africa, but to enable the maize-growers of Australia to exploit their fellow primary producers in this country. In 1914, the duty upon wheat was suspended in the interests of the people of this country. I hesitate to give to any Minister the power to suspend duties imposed by the Parliament. I strongly protested the other evening against the imposition of a duty, under the Industries Preservation Act, on wire netting. Such a duty is wrong in principle. Surely, in our collective wisdom, we can find a way of solving this difficulty. When the price of maize rises to 6s. 6d. or 7s. a bushel, provision ought to be made for suspending the whole or part of the duty. If the price of maize goes up to 10s., and we have millions of stock dying for want of fodder, and maize that would save them is obtainable from South Africa, it is surely anomalous in such circumstances to retain the heavy duty.
– The argument may be applied to oats and other products.
– I am simply pointing out that the principle is wrong.
– In a time of serious drought, would not the Government come to the rescue, and do what is right?
– That does not remove the difficulty. Some provision should be made for automatically suspending the duty as the price rises above a certain level. The suggestion of the honorable member for Macquarie is much more sensible than that of the right honorable member for North Sydney. The right honorable member’s remedy when the price rises above 6s. 6d. is not to remove the duty, but to impose additional duties to protect the secondary industries.
– The honorable member is looking at it from a different standpoint from that which I adopted. I was considering the necessity for doing justice to both the industries. The honorable member is suggesting that maize should be singled out, but why should not the principle be applied generally?
– If the case is as clear in other industries as it is, to my mind, in this one, I shall be prepared to consider the general adoption of the principle. If we had a duty upon, say, oats from New Zealand, and there was a serious drought in this country, and valuable stock were dying, when the price of oats rose above 5s. it would be obviously wrong to continue the duty. I speak as an oat-grower. I hope the Minister will give careful consideration to this matter. It is difficult for me, or the honorable member for Macquarie, to propose a remedy.
.- Some honorable members appear to overlook one serious fact. Unless maizegrowers have a definite guarantee of adequate protection, they must go out of business in the tropical and sub-tropical parts of Queensland, where wages are high, and other disabilities have to be overcome. When inquiries were made some time ago it was found . that freight from Durban. South Africa, to Melbourne was 22 s. 6d. a ton, while from Queensland to Melbourne it was 40s. a ton. It was also found that maize was carried by rail to Durban from other parts of South Africa at a lower rate when it was destined for export than when it was to be sold for local consumption. Those facts place the Australian grower at a serious disadvantage, and there is also the very low black-labour wage to be considered. Maize will not continue to be grown here unless the growers know that they can sell it at a profit. That profit can only be assured to them by adequate protection, which has not been provided in the past. I know of a large number of growers who have gone out of this business, and of others who are considering going out of it. If a definite protective duty is imposed, so as to ensure the grower a profitable price, the production of maize will increase; but, failing such a- guarantee, the industry in Queensland will, to a large extent, collapse. I have ‘ been informed that in Victoria maize lands cost from £80 to £100 per acre, and that many of the maize-growers are returned soldiers. It is impossible, with land at such a price, to compete against the black-grown maize of other parts of the world. I, therefore, appeal to honorable members to support the higher duties on maize, and I appeal to the Minister not to give, under any circumstances, a preference to South African maize over maize from other countries.
.- As the representative of a- district where a great quantity of maize is grown, I am aware of the difficulties under which maize-growers have been labouring for years. To my knowledge, many farmers have gone out of the industry because they have been unable to make it pay. They found that they could not compete with the cheaply-grown maize imported from South Africa. The protection provided in the past has not been effective. I strongly urge the Minister to insist upon the duties set out in the schedule. The maize-growing industry is of great importance to Australia. In 1923-4 it was worth £641,219 in Queensland, £1,078,460 a year in New South Wales, £329,564 a year in Victoria, £443 a year in South Australia, and £320 in Western Australia, making a total of £2,050,006 a year for the whole of Australia. The average value of the crop per acre was £6 9s. 8d. Unfortunately, inadequate protection has made it necessary for Australia to import large’ quantities of maize, the average quantity imported during the last ten years having been 1,000,000 bushels per annum. South Africa provides the bulk of our requirements. The net imports for the year 1923-4 amounted to 2,534,000 bushels, of a value of £505,000. It should be our aim to make it possible for those who are engaged in maize-growing to supply the whole of Australia’s requirements. The granting of adequate protection would have that effect. I strongly oppose preferential treatment to South Africa. I represent a number of maize-growers, hut I take a broad view of these matters. I cannot understand the inconsistency of some honorable members of the Country party, who desire to raise the protection on potatoes from £1 to £4 a ton, but, because the farmers in their electorates do not grow maize, wish to import that commodity from South Africa, where it is grown by black labour. That has been a characteristic of the Country party for years. Its narrow outlook prevented it from making any progress at the recent elections. Its members should take a broader view.
– The Capricornia view?
– That is more Australian than the view which is taken by the Country party, because Capricornia stands for the protection of every Australian industry, while the members of the Country party would wipe out the embargo on black-grown sugar and the. duty on bananas. This committee should not tolerate the importation of maize from South Africa. The treaty with that country should be annulled, and adequate protection should be afforded to Australian maize-growers. I am in favour of an em- bargo toeing placed upon the importation of maize from South Africa.
.- A number of rather interesting points have been raised during this debate. Similar arguments were advanced during the debate on the 1921 tariff in regard to the duty on hay and imported stud stock. I then secured the removal of the duty on hay, on the ground that it was of no use to the producer, and on stud stock, because it was detrimental to Australia. I also endeavoured, unsuccessfully, to secure the removal of the duty on wheat. I was able to prove that in the only year in which the duty would’ have benefited Australia - 1914^ - it was removed. Every bushel of wheat that I grew in that year cost me £3 10s., but, in the interests of the consumers, it was commandeered at 8s. 6d. a bushel, whilst wheat from the Argentine was brought to Australia at a cost of 12s. 6d. a bushel. The honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Manning) raised what I consider to be one of the most important points, that of keeping alive our stock in times of drought. As a matter of fact, when stock are dying there is a dearth in the supply of maize and other fodders.
– Would the honorable member consider human foods as well as stock foods?
– Both stock and human foods could be dealt with in- the same manner. It has been said that an average of 1,000,000 bushels of maize is imported annually into Australia. That may seem a large quantity to the uninitiated, but it is really infinitesimal. In considering a reciprocal tariff with South Africa wo- must exercise care so that we shall not cut off our noses to spite our faces. I believe that that country has already passed a reprisal tariff against Australia.
– That is not so.
– If it is not, it was averted only by our entering into a reciprocal tariff with it.
– South Africa has drastically diminished the preference that she used to give us.
– Other countries are passing reprisal tariffs against us. It has been argued that production costs in Australia have risen so greatly that our producers experience considerable difficulty in competing against other countries. Our protectionist policy necessitates assisting first one industry and then another. In the present instance we propose to assist the maize-grower. Those who convert the maize into other commodities will have to be assisted in their turn. That is not a good policy. The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde), and the honorable member for Herbert (Dr. Nott) referred to the climatic conditions, and the excessive wages that have to be paid in Queensland. I consider that the Atherton tableland is most favorably situated for the growth of maize. We should not penalize the whole of the people of Australia in order to assist an industry that one cannot reasonably expect to thrive in this country.
– The Australian maizegrowers would be able to compete with those of other countries if it were not for the tariff.
– That is exactly the point which I was reaching. Production costs justify the maize-grower in asking for protection, but that does not make the policy a right one. The position is weighing so heavily upon the producers that they will soon begin .to lose interest in their industry. Honorable members who represent Queensland constituencies have stated that if maize-growers are not given a guarantee they will cease producing. Who is guaranteeing them if it is not the remainder of the population of Australia? If wheat-growing becomes uninteresting, will that also have to be bolstered up ? The same applies to woolgrowing. There will soon be very few industries that are standing on their feet. I have experienced the difficulties of maize-growing and I can sympathize with those who are engaged in that industry. Those difficulties, however, are multiplied by the application of the fiscal policy that is in operation in Australia to-day.
.- I support the proposal of the Government. I should fail in my duty if I did not congratulate the Minister (Mr. Pratten) upon the announcement that he made this morning in relation to the treaty with South Africa. By letters, personal representations, and deputations, in association with the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser), the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson), and other honorable members, I have, since 1922, urged him to annul that treaty. It was made many years ago - in 1906- - and its effect became so pronounced that in 1921 it was found necessary to introduce a considerably increased tariff. The effect of the” 1921 tariff, however, was nullified by the treaty with South Africa. The present Minister is a man of foresight and sagacity, but his outstanding virtue is that of courage. Courage was certainly needed to take this step. The huge falling off in production in the past has been due to the failure to give security to the producers of maize. In the last few years the production has amounted to over 1,000,000 bushels annually. When negotiations are resumed for a treaty with South Africa I hope that the Minister will keep prominently before him the fact that in Australia maize is grown by white men, whilst in South Africa it is grown by black labour. A result of the agreement that the Minister has announced is to be annulled was the importation of a large quantity of black-grown maize. I hope that the Australian producers will be given this measure of protection. I strongly support the contention of the right honorable member for Worth Sydney (Mr. Hughes) that glucose and other byproducts of maize should also be adequately protected. Such a policy, I feel sure, would give our primary producers the full benefit of the home market, which is their best market. I hope that instructions will be given to the Tariff Board to investigate this subject with the object of giving further protection to an important Australian industry. I- heartily approve of the action taken by the Government in increasing the duty on maize.
– Several honorable members have referred to the reciprocal treaty with South Africa. It must be obvious that until that treaty has been finalized this item will be valueless. I regret that I was absent from the chamber when the Minister (Mr. Pratten) made a statement on the subject this morning. I should like very much to know if it is the intention of the Government this week to introduce a short bill dealing with the South African treaty, which, in respect of certain items, will override the existing tariff schedule. Under the existing treaty, maize is dutiable 6fd. a bushel, or ls. per cental. Frequently I protest against unnecessarily high duties, especially on goods imported from countries with a reasonably high standard of living. This item, I remind the committee, deals with a product grown by coloured labour. I believe in the protection of Australia’s standard of living against the black-labour products of other countries, whether the product be sugar, maize, or any other commodity. Concerning the question raised by the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Manning), I should like to emphasize that the tariff would only be operative in times of drought or scarcity, and that maize-growers are entitled to compensation, in the way of enhanced prices, to offset the disadvantages of a shortage in yield. The Gippsland maize-growers were very modest when they put their case before the Tariff Board. They suggested a British preferential tariff of 2s. 6d. per cental. Honorable members may wonder why there should be any British preferential tariff at all, because maize is not commercially grown in Great Britain. The Gippsland maize-growers desired to be fair to other primary industries, and wished the Commonwealth Government to be in a position to bargain with South Africa if necessary, by giving South African exporters favorable treatment under the preferential column if they, in turn, would treat Australian exporters of primary products similarly. It would be an advantage if the Minister gave us some definite information with regard to the South African reciprocal treaty, and stated if a bill would be introduced this week to> deal with the treaty.
.- I was interested in the statement of the Minister (Mr. Pratten) that it is proposed to discontinue the existing treaty with South Africa with a view to further negotiations, and the making of another treaty. Australia has suffered in other directions than by the importation of maize from South Africa. Under a treaty made 20 or 30 years ago with regard to brandy, all sorts of rubbish was poured into Australia to the serious injury of the Australian industry. Eventually the regulations were tightened up, and the Australian industry relieved. In seasons of drought the Government has full authority to come to the assistance of secondary industries that depend on an adequate supply of primary products. The Government has intervened on several occasions when our secondary industries have been in serious difficulties owing to the extraordinary high prices demanded for the local supplies of the raw product. As this item concerns a product grown by black labour in other countries, it should go through without debate.
– What quantity are we exporting ?
– We ought to export more of our primary products. If this duty acts as an incentive to local production it should lead to an enormous increase in the business of pig-raising, because maize is essential for the successful development of that industry.
– A bushel of maize will make 12 lb. of pork.
– And very fine pork, too. Under the protection afforded by this item it should be possible to build up another important industry in Australia.
.- E have been endeavouring to ascertain what the debate is about. I understood that the item was actually passed when the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), with the consent of the committee, was permitted to refer to it again, and that he mentioned that cornflour and similar products constituted the raw material of certain secondary industries. Ho fears evidently that the duty may ‘lead to an increase in the price of those raw products. I remind him that the Government has power to deal with any situation that may arise. Prior to federation New South Wales had a duty on wheat. When there was a shortage, and the entire production was required for home consumption, the farmers became socialists, and requested the Government to permit the importation of seed wheat and rebate the duty. The same course could be taken by the Government in respect of the duty imposed on maize under this item if the need arose, and I am sure that the responsible Minister would have the approval of Parliament. The right honorable member for North Sydney, as AttorneyGeneral of the best Federal Ministry that Australia has had, on one occasion in our party room declared that no law which threatened the interests of the people should be tolerated. When there was a threatened shortage of butter in Australia, the government of the day placed an embargo upon its exportation until the requirements of the people were satisfied. Similarly, if the prices of the raw products mentioned by the right honorable member for North Sydney soared to such heights as to jeopardize certain secondary industries, the Minister would have power to suspend the duty and allow maize to be imported. This practice is followed in every civilized country. Although. I am opposed to the present Government, I believe that, if circumstances demanded it, such action as I have indicated, would be taken by them in the interests of the community. We should cease chasing rainbows, and get down to real issues.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.30 p.m.
.- In dealing with this matter the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. West) rather quaintly remarked that we are painting rainbows in the sky. I cannot help feeling that there ia a great deal in that remark. Judging by the way we are going on we are painting rainbows in the sky without any regard whatever to the thunderstorms that must come later on.
– Hear, hear!
– The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), who, in the olden days, was a great freetrader, and is now a strong protectionist, drew special attention to the results which must logically follow from the imposition of all these duties. He has pointed out that some magnificient secondary industries have been started here; but the moment this duty is imposed on maize coming into this country the price of that article will be raised so high that the only way in which these industries can be kept going will be to raise the duties protecting them still higher. Will the right honorable member say where we are going to end with a policy of that kind? Is it not better that we should get back to first principles and recognize that if Australia is ever to be a nation we must trade with other countries. We must build up a great export trade. We cannot afford to fall foul of the other nations of the world. There was one sound observation made by the right honorable member for North Sydney, and that was that we are beginning a vicious circle in imposing duties on the raw materials of, other industries. The natural corollary is that the secondary industries affected must come to this Parliament year after year asking for further increases of duties. It will be discovered that the manufacturer cannot carry on without increased duties on the articles he manufactures, because owing to the duties imposed on his raw materials his cost of production has been increased. Then the primary producer having to pay more for the products of the secon dary industries, asks again for higher duties on what he produces. If this policy is to be maintained, how are we to find a place among the nations of the world ? There is no more sensible man in this committee than the right honorable member for North Sydney, and he knows that this policy cannot be carried on continuously. We must call a halt somewhere.
– But not on maize.
– I should like to give the committee some information concerning the production of maize. In the United States of. America, for the year 1923, the production of maize was 3,054,369,000 bushels. In Australia the production of maize was increased from 6,000,000 bushels to 8,000,000 bushels, between 1919-20 and 1923-4. I quote the following from page 702 of the YearBook for 1925: -
Progress of Maize Growing. - Area and Yield.- Notwithstanding its valuable properties and its pre-eminence as the world’s most extensively’ grown cereal, the cultivationof maize has decreased in Australia by about 25,000 acres during the past decennium. While increases in area were recorded in both Queensland and Victoria, the decline of nearly 50,000 acres in New South Wales was responsible for the reduction in the total for Australia. The maximum area sown to maize was 414,914 acres as far back as 1910-11, which figure was considerably in excess of the average planted during the last ten years, which amounted to 312,681 acres. The area and yield of maize for grain in each State are given in the following table for the last five years : -
The table shows an increase in the total yield from 6,764,005 bushels in 1919-20 to 8,114,733 bushels in 1923-4, and an increase in the area devoted to maize from 265,459 acres in 1919-20 to 316,307 acres in 1923-4. I agree that something should be done with a view to encouraging maize-growing in Australia. I understand that under the reciprocal tariff agreement with South Africa maize from that country is admitted to Australia on payment of a duty of ls. per cental. If the treaty with South Africa is denounced, the result will be . to increase the duty on South African maize to 3s. 6d. per cental. South Africa is about the only country that exports maize to Australia.
– There is the Argentine.
– We do not get much maize from the Argentine. The argument all along has been based upon a fear that South African maize imported at a low price may do a grave injury to the maize-growers in Australia. The proposed tariff will provide for a duty of 2s. 6d. on imports from Great Britain, but that is an absurdity, because we shall get no maize from Great Britain. The intermediate tariff will be 3s., and the general tariff 3s. 6d. per cental. If we are going to impose a duty of 3s. 6d. per cental on maize imported from South Africa, the increase on the existing duty will be enormous. It will be equivalent to telling the people of South Africa that we do not want their trade. I do not appreciate the remarks made by some honorable members in referring to trade with South Africa. If there is much of that kind of talk we shall have reprisals. We may find that our wheat, flour, and other products will not be accepted by South Africa. We need to extend our markets. We are spending large sums of money in advertising our products, and in sending trade agents to China, Japan, and other countries to build up our export trade. Wo should do nothing to restrict our export trade. Is it fair that we should say to the people of South Africa, “ To-day the duty on your maize coming into this country is1s. per cental. That has proved injurious to the maizegrowers of Australia, and we now propose to increase the duty to 3s. 6d. per cental.” I believe that so great an increase in the duty will prove injurious to Australia. I should very much like to see the maize-growing industry assisted, but not as the Government has assisted the sugar industry, by placing an embargo upon its import. If the placing of embargoes upon imports is to be the next demand of our primary and secondary producers, I do not know where -we shall end. I know of nothing that has been more detrimental to Australia than the embargo on the importation of sugar. I do not agree with such a policy at all. There is nothing which Australia needs more than an increase of population, and the placing of embargoes upon imports will tend to retard the growth of ourpopulation.
– The sugar industry must be kept alive.
– It managed to live before the placing of an embargo upon imports of sugar. It grew and developed until we. passed this kind of legislation.
– It had the advantage of kanakas at one time; now it has the advantage of legislation.
-Such legislation is crippling production and retarding the growth of the country. The right honorable member for North Sydney knows perfectly well that a special commission, on which there was a number of Labour members, fully investigated the sugar industry in 1906, but it never asked for anything of this kind in its report.
– The industry was only in its swaddling clothes then.
– It was doing fairly well, but those engaged in it at that time had not to pay from £100 to £150 an acre for land. We have to recognize that we cannot legislate for Australia alone. We must consider our position amongst the nations of the world. We must develop trade with other countries. It’ is only by our export trade that we can build up our wealth and continue to progress. We cannot live to ourselves alone, and we should be careful to do nothing to incur the resentment of friendly nations with whom we are doing business.
– I do not propose to enter upon a general discussion of the fiscal policy of Australia. Suffice it to say we are committed to . a protectionist policy for the maintenance of our high standards of living in this country to-day. I hope we shall always be so committed. I stand for the encouragement of secondary as well as of primary industries. I recognize that those engaged in the secondary industries possess the advantage of being able to pass on extra costs of production. That does not apply to the primary industries. Because of the passing on of extra costs those engaged in the primary industries are called upon to pay higher prices for clothing, foodstuffs, and agricultural implements and machinery. It is clear from this that the secondary industries are receiving considerable assistance and backing from the primary industries. The primary industries are carried on in the more sparsely settled parts of the country. The’ people engaged in them, together with their families, do not enjoy all the privileges, amenities, and benefits of civilization which are enjoyed by people in the large centres of population. They have fewer roads, and badly made roads at that, less satisfactory post and telegraph services, but they have to pay their full measure of taxation just the same. These things are inevitable, and I do not complain of them, nor do the primary producers, notwithstanding that they live a rougher and a harder life. But I warmly welcome the announcement made by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten) that it is the ‘ intention of the Government shortly to repeal the reciprocal agreement of 1906 with South Africa. The sooner that is done the better. It is overdue for revision, if not for absolute repeal. I am doubtful if the tariff proposals in regard to maize are high enough. The proposed duty is not sufficient, and I should like to see it increased. It costs much more to grow maize under our White Australia standards than it does under black labour conditions. The South African Government gives an allowance of 6d. a bushel on all maize grown for export. The freight rates are cut, to the extent of 22s. 6d a ton from South African to Australian ports. Very different is the lot of the Australian grower of maize, who pays 40s. a ton freight from Cairns to Sydney, in addition to the railage to the coast. One can easily see that a duty of 3s. 6d. on imported maize affords no great margin of protection to the Australian grower. That maize-growing needs protection is evidenced by the fact that within recent years there has been a decreased production in Australia. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) pointed out that the cultivation of maize has decreased in Australia by about 25,000 acres during the last 10 years, notwithstanding the large increase in our population and in our secondary industries during thatperiod. This fact is attributable, not to the price of maize, but to the importations of South African maize. In 1919-20 we imported 494,278 bushels of maize; in 1920-1, 96,536 bushels; “in 1921-2,. 45,066 bushels; in 1922-3, 1,198,673 bushels, and in 1923-4, 2,572,809 bushels. The average price of maize in 1919-20 was 8s. lid. a bushel; in 1920-1, 6s. 6d. a bushel; in 1921-2, 5s. 2d. a bushel; in 1922-3, 6s. Id. a bushel; and in 1923-4, 5s. Id. a bushel. Although the importations amounted to only one-fifth of the total maize consumed in Australia, yet they were sufficient to bring about a reduction in price. When maize grown by black labour is permitted to compete with our local product the result must be a falling market. As a consequence our maize growers - many of them returned soldiers - have suffered severely. They have had to contend with hardships . and privations, the mere thought of which would wring the hearts of our ordinary citizens. Under such conditions we are not justified in importing maize grown by black labour. This position particularly affects Queensland and New South Wales, because no less than 90 per cent, of the land under maize cultivation is situated in those States. Although there has been a considerable increase in the area under maize in Queensland, yet there has been a decrease in New South Wales. This suggests that maize is a poor man’s product, grown only on comparatively cheap land under rough and difficult conditions. The Australian maize industry should be protected, because few settlers are prepared to develop the far-back country. I am not concerned at all with the problem of the manufacturer who produces from maize such commodities as glucose, cornflour, starch, and maizena. I am satisfied that the average manufacturer who has any business acumen at all, orders his supplies and makes his contracts early in the maize season. Of course, if he waits for a falling market he does so at his own risk, and any loss that he makes is amply met by his previous profits. The Government should accept its full share of responsibility in regard to losses of stock bv drought by building the Bourke to Daly Waters railway. We should then have little trouble in drought periods, because stock could be moved from north to south or from east to west as the exigencies and vagaries of the season required. Given that, material measure of relief, stock could be conserved, and this would afford an extensive market for the maize-growers. This industry, if not given sufficient protection, must go out of existence altogether, resulting in the whole of our requirements being met by maize grown by black labour. This would not in any way assist our White Australia policy, nor help to develop our country. If maizegrowing is made profitable, a large number of Australians will be employed under satisfactory conditions, and our secondary industries will also benefit. Were it not for the maize-growers, what would be the position of our pastoralists ? They would be compelled to import all the maize that they need for feeding starving stock. The price of all commodities is regulated by the law of supply and demand, and the maize-grower of Australia is quite willing to bear with present conditions so long as he is not compelled to compete with imported maize. We owe a good deal to those who take up holdings in virgin scrub, because an immense amount of work is necessary before they are able to obtain a profitable return for their labours. I would welcome the repeal of the reciprocal treaty with South Africa made in 1906, and I hope that this will soon be an accomplished fact. As the Minister is not prepared to further increase the duties on imported maize, I shall content myself with voting for this item, hoping that later this Parliament may have an opportunity of reviewing it.
– The Australian maize industry has an output of nearly 10,000,000 bushels annually, and is, therefore, fairly entitled to protection. During the last few years it has had a gruelling experience in competition with South African maize, and for that reason the duties on imported maize are being increased. If the committee makes reasonable progress, I promise on behalf of the Government to take steps to abrogate the South African reciprocal treaty of 1906. This will not be an unfriendly act, because the South African Government has already received notice from this Government that it proposes to abrogate the present treaty, which has caused complications in many directions, and to negotiate for a new reciprocal treaty. The Government would not have felt bound to take such action at this stage but for the fact that the South African
Government itself, last year, very materially altered the terms of preference which it gave Australia under the treaty. Therefore, the position to-day is not as it was in 1906. The point raised by the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) is obvious. Any complaints or applications by manufacturers can be investigated and reported upon by the Tariff Board. The duty on glucose is already under review, but no further applications in regard to maize products have yet reached me. If such applications are made, they will receive that prompt and business-like attention that the department endeavours to give in all cases.
– It may be that no other application has been made, but I assure the Minister that the Association of Manufacturers, while content with the present rate of duty, point out that, if it results in increasing the price of maize to 7s. a bushel, they will not be able to carry on.
– That circumstance will be met when it arises. As to what was said by the honorable member for Macquarie regarding droughts and disasters, such tragic circumstances cannot be met in advance. It is conceivable that, in a period of drought, there might even be a shortage of food, but if such a crisis arose this or any other Government would legislate in such a way as to conserve the interests of the community.
Item agreed to.
By omitting the whole item, and inserting in its stead the following item: - “ 84. Rennet in liquid form, free.”
– I move -
That the Item be amended by adding the following : -
The effect of the amendment is that rennet will be admitted free from all countries, but the duties that this schedule remits will be reimposed as deferred duties. Within the last twelve months a very creditable rennet-making industry has been started in connexion with the Government meat works at Homebush, New South Wales. It is already supplying 70 per cent, of the requirements of that State, and the cost of the imported article has been reduced by almost 50 per cent. Letters which have reached me from the factories interested show that they do not object to the deferred duty, provided that the quality of the local rennet is satisfactory to them. Therefore, before the deferred duty is brought into operation, the Tariff Board will be asked to investigate and advise. The committee will agree that, in connexion with such an important primary product as rennet, the Government should have some reserve power to protect local manufacture if it should prove satisfactory.
.- I have no objection to the amendment, but I urge the Minister to consider the advisability of altering the system by which deferred duties are applied. If Parliament is in session, the Minister should give notice of his intention to operate a deferred- duty. In fact, I am inclined to think that no deferred duty should be operated except when the House is sitting. I have had some experience of deferred duties, particularly in connexion with sulphur.
– And we can still smell the fumes.
– In connexion with the operation of the deferred duty on sulphur, there has been a wilful and discreditable distortion of facts. As a general principle, before a deferred duty is put into operation, or further deferred, the Minister should give at least one month’s notice of his intention. .
– Was the Tariff Board operating when the deferred duty was applied to sulphur?
– Yes; on its recommendation the deferred duty was operated - by me, and prior to its coming into operation, no member of Parliament nor any farmer made personal representations to me that the duty should be further deferred. I make that statement emphatically, and in contradiction of some who unfairly made political capital out of that item. Representations may have been made to the Tariff Board or to somebody else, but not to me.
Mr.Fenton. - I reluctantly rise to a point of order. If general principles are to be discussed on individual items, this schedule cannot be disposed of this week. Is the honorable, member for Wannon in order in discussing general principles on a specific item?
– I understood the honorable member for Wannon to refer to the sulphur duty only for purposes of illustration. However, I ask the honorable member not to overtax the patience of the committee in completing the illustration.
– I shall not discuss the details of the agitation that was improperly stirred up in connexion with the sulphur duty, but I repeat that it would be in the best interests of Parliament, the Government,, and the conduct of public business, if the Minister were to give a month’s notice of any action in regard to a deferred duty, and if no such duty were put into operation except while the House was sitting. If that principle were followed, the duty could be again reviewed, and the House would have an opportunity to hear from the Minister the latest facts concerning the progress of the industry concerned.
.- I shall not oppose the amendment if the Minister will give the committee an assurance that the duty will not be put into operation until the cheese factories have had ample opportunity to test Australian rennet, and satisfy themselves that they may use it without detriment to their industry.
– I give that assurance unequivocally.
– I thank the Minister. The reason for my request is that I have received a letter from the manager of one of the big cheese factories in Victoria, who says, inter alia -
We have not had an opportunity of testing the rennet which is now being made in Sydney, and in whose interests it is proposed to impose a duty. It is imperative that rennet used in the manufacture of cheese should be of quality and substance which will ensure keeping and maturing. Our previous experience with an Australian-made rennet was most disastrous - alike in regard to reputation and financial loss. Under these conditions, we consider that the rennet now being made should be thoroughly tested before a duty is imposed. We will welcome the Australian-made rennet if it will prove equal to the imported.
Another letter from the Secretary of the Associated Cheese and Butter Cooperative Factories of Victoria, reads -
We understand that rennet is now being manufactured in New South Wales, and that it is ‘being used in the manufacture of cheese by factories in that State. On a previous occasion - during the war period - a locallymade rennet was used in Victoria, with disastrous results to quality, reputation, and financially. Cheese made with this rennet was apparently good for a few weeks, and then deteriorated rapidly, with the result that when matured (five to six months old) it was almost unfit for consumption. In view of this experience, the association respectfully submits that the rennet now ‘being made in Sydney should be thoroughly tested before a duty is imposed ; more especially in regard to “the keeping qualities of cheese in which such rennet has been used. Our association desires to assist an Australian industry, and will encourage the use of Australian-made rennet which will give satisfactory, results - and ensure the maintenance of quality. Under these circumstances, I am instructed to request that the application of the proposed duty be deferred until such
Item 105 - ,
.- This item covers practically the whole of the cotton piece goods, except a few comparatively minor articles mentioned in other items. It also includes cotton tweeds for human wear. Honorable members will see by a comparison with the proposals laid on the table of the House in September last that the wording of the item time as it is proven that the rennet will be satisfactory. In the meantime, the matter will be brought under -the notice of the Australian Dairy Council, and cheese-makers will be requested to make the necessary experiments with cheese manufacturer with Australian rennet. .
Accepting the assurance of the Minister that the deferred duty will not be operative until these experiments have proved the Australian rennet to be satisfactory, I offer no opposition to the amendment.
.- I have - a great deal of information concerning the duty on rennet, but I am satisfied with the assurance given by the Minister that the deferred duty will not be put into operation until the cheese factories have had an opportunity to test Australian rennet.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 96 (Unground spices, free) agreed to. has been arranged in order to give better definition and more precise classification. There has been no alteration in principle, but there has been an alteration in the wording of the item in order to make clear what is actually intended. In the tariff resolution submitted to Parliament in September last provision was made for the imposition of a duty of 5s. per lineal yard on cotton. tweeds imported
in widths of 54 inches, as was then the custom. Shortly after the duty became operative importers directed manufacturers to produce tweeds at a greater width than 54 inches, which brought the cost to more than 5s. per yard, and thus enabled them to escape the duty by importing tweeds as cotton piece goods n.e.i. No action could be taken until the present proposals were placed before the House this month. Definite steps have now been taken by re-arranging the wording te provide for precisely the same rate of duty, but on a basis of so much per square yard, which will cover tweeds of all widths, and thus prevent an evasion of the payment of duty. We have heard from all quarters that the textile industry was in a parlous position before these duties were imposed, and of the strong competition which confronted it on account of the importation of cotton and shoddy woollen goods from Great Britain, and cheap cotton tweeds from Japan and other countries. Some mills went out of business altogether, others made very heavy losses, and in many instances others were only working part time. A very thorough, patient, and complete investigation of the textile industry was conducted by the Tariff Board, as a. result of which it was ascertained that the importation of shoddy woollen and cotton tweeds, made from second-hand material and the like, was largely the cause of stagnation in the local industry. The item under discussion is designedly framed” to counteract this competition. The duties in one or two directions are so heavy that they may be regarded as almost prohibitive, and I frankly admit that I would rather see a prohibition of imports of this character than allow our own industries to face such gruelling competition as they have had to encounter in the past. Importers were also imposing upon unwary purchasers shoddy material that lasted only a little while. A good deal of the low-priced cotton tweed may be readily torn either way. The figures show that before the amended tariff was introduced the trade in cotton tweeds was almost entirely in the hands of tho Japanese and European continental manufacturers. According to the latest figures the total trade affected in connexion with the goods imported from the United Kingdom upon which specific duties are imposed amounts to only £63,329 out of a total of over £1(^000,000 worth of our trade with Great Britain in cotton goods. In response to the parrot cry that by imposing these duties we are substantially injuring British trade, I have had the figures analysed. Under the item “ (») cotton, linen, and other piece goods, n.e.i.; oil baize not containing wool - ad val., free, British; 5 per cent, intermediate; and 15 per cent., general,” I find that in 1924 Australia imported £9,870,000 worth of goods, of which £8,700,000 were British. While Britain a few years ago did approximately threefourths of the business in cotton tweeds, in the last financial year she handled only one-fourth of the business, so that the other three-fourths of the importations of cotton tweeds came from foreign countries. Only £63,329 worth of British trade will be affected, as against a total of £8,375,000 worth of foreign trade. While these specific duties apply to only £63,329 worth of British trade, they also apply to nearly £200,000 worth of foreign trade. Personally, I prefer going to Britain; but, as I have stated in this chamber on previous occasions, it must, in cases of this kind, be “ Australia first.” The approximate annual consumption of cheap cotton tweeds in Australia is from 3,000,000 to 4,000,000 yards. When the duties were first imposed, there was dislocation in the Australian manufactured clothing trade; but after full inquiry by the Tariff Board and consultation with the textile clothing manufacturers, the department decided to admit cotton tweeds ordered prior to the introduction of the tariff resolutions in September last as raw material under item 404 up to the 31st December last. After full inquiry by the Tariff Board, and consultation with the parties concerned, it was ascertained that full supplies of cotton tweeds could be manufactured by our local mills. There has been a plethora of criticism in connexion with these cotton tweed duties. In the first place, the poor working man, it was said, would have to pay more for his trousers.
– So he will.
– Hear, hear !
– I can tell honorable members exactly how much* more a
Working man will have to pay for trousers made from good Australian cotton tweed, which will last three or four times longer than those he has been accustomed to buy. The second line of attack was that cotton tweeds could not be manufactured in Australia.
– Who said that?
– The New South Wales Retail Traders Association, and scores of Pro bono publicos and other contributors to the Argus. I have in my possession a letter sent to a member of the Tariff Board by a British firm interested in the manufacture of cotton tweed. When the British manufacturers were invited, to manufacture in this country, and thus aid our progress and development, they said that it could not be done, owing to the climatic conditions, because the workmen had to be trained for years, the industry being an intricate one, and because the machinery required could not be made in Australia.
– Who said that?
– I am prepared to give the name of the writer for the honorable member’s private information. What actually happened? Within two or three weeks of the imposition of these duties, three or four mills got to work, and to-day one of the three or four mills capable of manufacturing cotton tweed required in Australia informs me that it can, if necessary, manufacture all that is required. I know of one mill in Sydney prepared to manufacture, in addition to its ordinary output, 1,000,000 yards. Another mill - I am not sure whether it is the Albion or the Abbotsford - is prepared, if these duties are ratified, to produce another 1,000,000 yards a year; and there are ten other factories here which will make cotton tweeds to a greater or less extent. The first company that I mentioned has 50 looms capable of making the cotton tweed required in Australia. But even after the honorable members who are opposed to these duties are obliged by hard facts to admit that we can make cotton tweed here, they argue that we cannot make it in sufficient quantities to. supply all our requirements, and that the British importers desire that we shall suspend the duties until we are able to do so. I say,’ unhesitatingly, that we can make all the cotton tweed we need. Seeing that the Government proposes, under the very first paragraph of the first sub-item before us, to give a clear 15 per cent, preference to British manufacturers, I repudiate, with some indignation, the suggestion that the tariff is antagonistic to British manufacturers. This one preference, as a matter of fact, will enable them to participate in £9,000,000 worth of Australian trade annually. Our objective, the achievement of which we have hardly yet begun, is the development of our Australian textile industry to the fullest extent. If I have my way, we shall go right on with our development, until ultimately we are making the whole of our cotton and woollen textiles here from our own raw material. The cotton industry is the greatest in the world. We are beginning to grow cotton in Australia, and although great developments have not yet occurred, one firm has offered to buy for its use the whole of the ratoon cotton grown in Queensland, provided these duties are passed.
– Will the Minister read to the House the report of the. Tariff Board on this point?
– The report has been laid on the table of the House, and distributed to honorable members, and they may inform their minds as to its contents if they desire to do so. I have tried to put the position concisely to the committee, and yet give them as much information as possible.
.- I embark upon my criticism of this item with considerable diffidence, for I have just been returned as a supporter of the Government which, through ‘ the Tariff Board, has framed it. But I am backed up by the experience gained in 27 years’ participation in the’ softgoods trade. In case any honorable member with that suspicious mind . which seems to be the peculiar characteristic of the politician, thinks that I have an axe to grind, let me say that I am not in any way connected with the trade at present. I recently disposed of the whole of my business interests, and as it was a cash transaction I am not interested in the matter even to the extent ‘ that I might be if there were money owing to me on it. My experience covered the wholesale, retail, and agency branchesof the, trade. I have had conversations with the
Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten) on this item, and I wish to say, in the most cordial spirit, that I believe that he is absolutely sincere in the views that he has expressed; and I ask him to credit me with equal sincerity. I am actuated, in offering my criticism of the item, by the single desire to do the very best in the interests of Australia as a whole. . It is not sufficient that the Ministers’ intentions should be good, for, as we are frequently reminded, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Good intentions do not necessarily make good arguments. I warn honorable members that disaster is likely to overtake Australia if she persists in imposing these extremely high duties on imported goods. Early in the nineties of the last century the United States of America went tariff mad, and, as the result, the manufacturing industries of the country were almost ruined. There followed such a tremendous reversal of public opinion on fiscal issues that the extreme tariffists were routed. If we persist in our present practice of imposing unnecessary and almost unbearable duties on the things that our primary producers and people generally must have, there will be a similar revulsion of feeling in this country.
– We heard that kind of talk 40 years ago.
– Why are we asked to sanction the imposition of such an extraordinarily heavy duty on cotton tweed? The altogether wrong idea seems *o be prevalent in some quarters that cotton tweeds are being used generally instead of cheap woollen tweeds. Any one with experience in the wholesale or retail softgoods business will know that nothing could be further from the truth. Cotton tweeds, as a matter of fact, fill a distinct and very useful need. Not so long ago I asked the general manager of one of our most important and flourishing woollen mills, which does not require any- increased duty to enable it to compete with foreign importations, how his business would be affected by these, heavy duties on cotton tweeds. He said that it would not- be affected at all, and added that one might just as reasonably compare cotton tweeds with woollen tweeds, as galvanized iron with barbed wire. That gentleman has spent his lifetime in the woollen industry. The proposed duty is not protective, but absolutely prohibitive. The Minister was not prepared to admit this during our general debate on the schedule, but I am glad to say that he has learnt at least so much from the speeches that have been made. I venture to say, with the greatest respect, that if he had had the long experience that I have had in the softgoods business, he would realize how unnecessary and useless this duty must be. It cannot achieve his object; it can only force our people to pay more than they need pay for the cotton tweeds that they require. A good deal has been said about the desirableness of ratifying this duty in order that our Australian textile industry may be developed. If I thought for a moment that it would lead to development in that direction for the good of the whole community, I should heartily support it ; but in my opinion its sole effect will be to put a good deal more money into the pockets of a few already wealthy companies, at the expense of the general community.
– We can make cotton goods in Australia, and we are doing so.
– We can make anything here - at a price. A little country town might surround itself’ with a prohibitive tariff, and set to work to make its motor cars, clothing, machinery, and everything else that it- required. I have no doubt that it would succeed, but at what a price! I do not deny that we can make everything, and grow everything, in Australia, but the question is whether we can afford to do so.
– We are not proposing to place a tariff round a little town, but round the whole of Australia.
– It is the same thing in principle, exactly. In spite of everything that has been said, and that can be said to the contrary, I deny that we can economically produce cotton tweeds in Australia. We have been told that the mill-owners who are prepared to take up this industry are great patriots. Some of us had an illustration of their patriotism a few years ago, when it was almost impossible to import textiles. They supplied us with their manufactures, and if any trader complained of their poor appearance, unsatisfactory wearing qualities, bagginess, or anything else, he was told “ You may take them or leave them. We have the trade in our own hands.”
– The importers said that also.
– The great difference between the cotton and woollen industry in Australia, as the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Duncan-Hughes) pointed out in speaking on the matter some little time ago, is that one is a key industry and the other is quite undeveloped. No one would be more delighted than I if we could grow in Australia all the raw cotton that we need; but I doubt whether we shall be able to do so for many years to . come. In fact, I think it will be impossible until, in the process of evolution, the natives in Egypt, and other countries, who work for a few pence a day, and live on the smell of an oil rag, so to speak, come to adopt more nearly our standards of living. If we are to be compelled to buy Australian-made cotton tweed made from Australian cotton, in preference, to the imported article - and by that I mean the British cloth - -it beggars my power to estimate the price that we shall be obliged to pay for it. A good deal has been said about the working man and his cotton tweed trousers. May I point out that the farmer, as well as the man. in the city, is a working man. Having had two years’ experience on the land, and being still interested, to “a small extent, in primary production, I know how useful cotton tweed is. I often have to- get into a pair of cotton tweed trousers myself, and do a bit of hard work, and I know how useful it is for boys’ wear. I have only one boy, but he has . demonstrated to me, time and again, how rapidly the seat of a pair of trousers may be worn out. The increase in the cost of living will have most effect on those with large families of boys. The employees in secondary industries can view this proposal without alarm, because they can recoup themselves, by demanding increased wages. They are able to pass the impost on, but the primary producers, the dairymen- particularly, cannot do that. Their . position will be precarious indeed. They will have to come- to the Government and ask for more bounties to enable them . to carry on their industries. Those who support this policy are like the cat, pourtrayed in many cartoons, which chases its tail at such a high velocity that, by centrifugal force, its brains fly out. Clothing factories ‘ in this country, even in ‘the city of Melbourne, are closing down or working only short time because of the duties in this schedule. In proof of that statement I submit the following letters: - 1 and 3 Langridge-street, Collingwood, Melbourne, 23rd March, 1926.
Dear Sir, - In response to your inquiry, I beg to state that the supplies of cotton tweed are not sufficient to keep my factory employed as it is normally.
I have already dispensed with 50 per cent, of my employees, and at an early date I expect to be in a much worse plight.
H.C. andC. Dawson.
Michael-street,- Brunswick, 23rd March, 1926.
Sir, - We, the undersigned clothing manufacturers, have to inform you that the tariff at present fixed for cotton tweeds has prevented this material coming upon the market. As the greater partof our work consisted in making up of this material, our output hasbeen reducedby at least 50 per cent. Consequently we havenot been able to employ our. full complement of hands, and ourbusiness has suffered to this extent. Should this duty be continued, we are afraid that a great part of our plant will remain idle for some considerable time.
We are, Yours, &c,
Jackson & Eckersall.
The Sterling Clothinc Coy. 27-33 Lonsdale-street, Melbourne, 22nd March, 1926.
Dear Sir, - In response to your inquiry, we have to advise that, owing to the shortage of cotton tweeds and to woollens for manufacturing into trousers, we are working only 70 per cent, of our machinery; and find it hard to keep these going.
We ought to mention that at this time last year we had 60,000 yards of material in -hand for one firm alone, and at the present moment, when the season should be in full swing, we have hardly 5,000 yards for this particular firm.
Poulton Clothingcoy. Pty. Ltd.
Melbourne, 23rd March, 1926.
Dear Sir, - Replying to your inquiry re cotton tweeds, we usually employ a staff of 33 hands. We have recently had to dispense with sixteen of these, and,owing, to stocks of material being practically exhausted, expect to have to reduce still further, and possibly close down unless some relief as to tariff is immediately afforded. (Signed ) I. . Aspinall.
– What is the date of those letters?
– 23rd March,
– If the dates, are all alike the honorable member must, have sought the information.
– The honorable member who does not seek information, but shuts his eyes to facts, is not fit to be a member of this Parliament. Had time permitted I could have obtained many more such letters. Although I am energetic, I could not gather facts from all parts of Melbourne at once; but I assure honorable members that there are many other instances like those I have cited. In conversation with a friend in Adelaide last week, I was told that Harry Rye Limited and other firms were seriously affected. I have listened with interest to the arguments advanced. What we need to do in this country is to produce goods equal in quality and price to the goods of other countries, and we need to create a true Australian sentiment. We cannot do that by being “ one eyed.” In my business experience of 27 years, during twenty years of which I was in business for myself, I always placed Australian goods first, British goods second, goods, from other white-labour countries third, and goods from coloured-labour countries last. I purchased goods from colouredlabour countries only when I could not get them from elsewhere. During the war it was sometimes impossible to avoid purchasing them. Within the last twelve months I have refused to buy American elastic, although it was cheaper by 10 per cent, than British elastic. I did so because I believed in supporting the British industry, and if Australian elastic had been obtainable I would have bought that. Here is an interesting article on high protection -
Retailers prefer to buy their goods in the local market, and will push the sale of Australian-made goods that are of the right quality and price. Many large firms insist that Australian goods sold them be distinctively marked ‘ Made in Australia.’ But retailers do not admit that increased duties are necessary for the protection of Australian manufacturers, where manufacturers are efficient. In evidence recently given my association was able to show the Tariff Board that one factory in this’ State, engaged in the manufacture of clothing, itself employed 1,000 hands. That factory had not ‘applied for increased duties on the goods it was manufacturing. When certain manufacturers of fur and felt hats made application for increased duties, three other manufacturers of those articles stated that they did not require any increased duty. If some local manufacturers are thus able to carry on satisfactorily without requiring any increase in duty, it would appear that those desiring an increase are either not properly organised or are simply using the Tariff Board in hope of increasing their profits at the expense of the public.
It seems to me about time the public had greater knowledge of protection and its consequences. Very high protection has been granted most manufacturers. Any increase in tariff duties will increase prices paid by the public. All classes outside the manufacturer and his employees are for ever being indirectly taxed by means of Customs duties from which they reap no personal benefit.
People in other States are awakening to the load placed on them by a policy of protection unrestricted.
To any one who is prepared to view the question with an open mind those arguments are sound. Apart from the large decrease in the price of wool, the woollen industry has suffered most from the fact that many woollen businesses are carried on in a slip-shod, inefficient way. It is not the duty of this or any other government to subsidize inefficiency. If a business is not carried on efficiently it must go to the wall.
– Does not the honorable member know that most of the textile factories in Australia are as efficient as the textile factories in any other country ?
– Many of them are. but some of them are not. If they were all efficient, they would not require any further protection. A circular I received the other day shows the inconsistency of those who ask for more protection. A firm, which was asking me to support higher duties for the benefit of Australian industries, insulted me by sending me a circular printed on paper made in Norway. Protection ought to begin at home.
– Does the honorable member use linen paper made in Australia ?
– I do not buy paper made in Norway. I think that most of the paper I use is made in Adelaide. We have been told that the Australian mills will make millions of yards of cotton tweed a year. When I was a youngster I used to believe in fairy tales, but now I know that they are like Father Christmas, a myth. Honorable members who believe all they are told about the effect of this tariff must be in their second childhood, when fairy tales once more become real. I hope that honorable members will take action to prevent a serious state of unemployment being caused in this country. A man in Melbourne last week told me that about the 1st November he ordered 40 pieces of material from Vicars, of Sydney, but that he had received only five pieces, with the promise that he would be supplied with -more soon. Another man in Adelaide told me that he had ordered 1,000 yards for delivery on 1st January, and another 1,000 yards for delivery on 1st March, and 1,000 yards for delivery several months afterwards. Up to yesterday week he had received only 700 yards, and even that only after a persistent “ slog.”
– The manufacturers will supply the material when they are assured of the duty.
– I have here quite a number of samples. No. 1 is a cotton tweed made up by Bond’s, the latest price of which is 2s. 6d. a yard. No. 2 is a British tweed that is more of a worsted, the landed cost of which is ls. 3d. a yard. I showed these two samples to an honorable member of this House this afternoon, and he picked out Bond’s as the better cloth. He admitted that he had had no experience in, the business. I said to him, “Why did you pick out that cloth?” He said, “ That is a wool and cotton mixture.” It does not contain a scrap of wool, but is loosely woven, and will not give as good wear as the other. I have worn and sold different cloths, and I can speak from experience-. Honorable members should make themselves acquainted with the facts of any matter they are called upon to consider. Some further samples that I have will indicate the extent to which duty affects price. On a British cotton tweed, 27 inches wide, the invoice price of which is 9d., the duty under the new schedule will be 133^ per cent. Sample No 2 is more like a cotton worsted. It is 54 inches wide, and the English price is 2s. 5d. a yard. The duty under the new tariff will be 95^ per cent.
– Our most serious competitor is Japan. .
– No; that is where the honorable member makes a mistake. Sample No. 3 is a British tweed 54 inches wide, the English invoice price of which is 3s. 6d. The new duty will amount to 76 per cent. Sample No. 4 is a cotton gabardine twill, 27 inches wide, invoiced at ls. lOd. The duty on that will be 74 per cent. Sample No. 5 is a 27-inch gabardine, invoiced at ls. It is of Japanese manufacture, and the new duty will be 199^ per cent. Sample No. 6 is of American ‘manufac ture, 27 inches, wide. It is invoiced at 7½d., and the new duty will be 289 J per cent. It is used in making up workmen’s overalls. I have also a sample of cotton tweed made in Belgium, the invoice price of which is 3s. 5 id. It is 54 inches wide, and under the new tariff the landed price- will be 7s. 6£d. Another cotton tweed, 54 inches wide, is invoiced at 3s. 6d. Its landed price under the new tariff will be 7s. 7£d. I have already shown honorable members a sample of British tweed, the landed cost of which is ls. 3d. Bond’s price for a cloth of similar quality is 2s. 6d. To make a pair of trousers 2A yards is required. The cost of Bond’s material would, therefore, be 6s. 3d., which, with ls. lid. for making, would bring the cost of the completed article to 8s. 2d. At ls. 3d. a yard the imported material would cost 3s. 1½d., which with ls. lid. for making would bring the total cost to 5s. 0½d. If we add 40 per cent, for retailer’s profit, we find that trousers made from the imported cloth cost 6s. lid., as against lis. 3d. for those made from the Australian material. Honorable members will see that there is a tax of 4s. 4d. on each pair of trousers.
– The Australian manufacturer is not responsible for the profits of the retailer. Give us the mill cost.
– Those figures are 5s. 0£d. for the imported, and 8s. 2d. for the Australian. Does the honorable member argue that the retailers should not derive any profit? Doe3 he want the boys and girls who work in retail shops to receive no wages? I have here another cotton tweed that was made in Belgium. It is 54 inches wide. The invoice price is 3s. 6½d., and the landed cost under the new tariff will be 7s. 8d. I shall now demonstrate to honorable members the quality of some local cotton tweed made by Vicars. I have a sample of the material, and also a pair of trousers that have been made from it. I tear the sample across, and I rip the leg of the trousers from bottom to top. One could not tear a British article as easily as that. I shall not consent to my fellow Australians being taken down with such rubbish. Let the Australian manufacture produce good material at a reasonable price, instead of charging a high price for rubbish. I was of the opinion that honorable members opposite were opposed U the big fat capitalists making fortunes out of working men and women, but it appears to me that they are now hand in glove with them in taking down their fellow Australians. Let us consider comparative prices. The retail price for a pair of trousers made from this rubbishy cloth, which one can tear to pieces, is 12s. 9d. I also have a garment made from British cloth which, prior to the tariff, was sold at 10s. 6d. The Australian article has cheap lining and cheap pocketing to keep down the cost. The English garment has good pocketing and superior canvas and silesia. The price of the English trousers to-day is 16s. lid., an addition of 6s. 5d., due to the operation of the tariff. That is a considerable tax, and it enriches only a few manufacturers in our cities. I have noticed that the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) has been testing some of my samples. Any material can be torn if sufficient strength is used. I do not claim to possess a great deal of strength. One cloth is made out of short staple waste, and the other from long staple cotton.
– Has the honorable member a pair of English trousers?
– Yes. “
– I undertake to tear them in the same way that the honorable member tore the Australian trousers. Any cloth can be torn against the weft.
– I shall proceed with my speech in.my own way. I shall now show some of the absurdities of the tariff in another direction. A sample which I hold in my hand is called a cotton tweed. It is not. Evidently the officials of the Customs Department do not know what, is cotton tweed. It is a brown moleskin, dutiable as cotton tweed, because it is supposed to resemble cotton tweed. My eyesight is not quite so good as it was a few years ago, but if I saw a man wearing a pair of trousers made from this material I would know from a distance of 25 yards that he was not wearing cotton tweed. The English invoice price for this brown moleskin, 27 inches wide, is 3s. Id., and the landed cost is 5s. 2d. The object in making cotton tweeds dutiable is, so I understand, to protect the woollen trade. Grey moleskin, a sample of which I now produce, is supposed to interfere with the woollen trade. This material, which is very largely used in country districts, is invoiced at 2s. 8d., 27 inches wide, and the landed cost is 4s. 7d. Another sample, an English cord moleskin, is invoiced at ls. 7d., 27 inches wide, and the landed cost is 3s. OJd. Still another, article that is dutiable under this tariff item is an ordinary crash suiting, which is made up into children’s washing suits.. Because it goes over 6 ounces and resembles a cotton tweed, it is included in that classification, notwithstanding that it can never come into competition with woollen goods. Another surprising decision of the Customs Department relates to denim, which is often termed dungaree. I have been told that blue denim overalls made from the sample which .1 now exhibit to- honorable members, are used only in factories. As a matter of fact, they are used in all our country districts, especially during harvest time. One of the firms which supplied my needs, I refer to the Sterling Manufacturing Company, used to send me this class of goods, and I had a ready sale for them in my business. Denim overalls made of this material have double seats and knees, because of the excessive wear on harvesters and whilst handling bags. Possibly honorable members may not be able to distinguish between overalls made of denim and dungaree material. For their information I may state that the former .has a shaded back with a white thread through it, whilst a dungaree is a fine cotton cloth resembling somewhat an English serge. I do not wish to be unfair, and therefore I cannot say definitely whether it was the Minister (Mr. Pratten) or Major Oakley who informed me that one reason for the inclusion of blue denim in the free list, tariff item (a), was that over- alls from it were used only in factories. In case honorable members inspect these samples later in the debate, and suggest that I have been misleading the committee, 1 should like to explain that differences in quality are governed by differences in weight. I have not weighed these samples of denim, but I should say they go from 6 oz. to S oz. By some extraordinary process of reasoning, brown denim, a sample of which I now show to honorable members, is dutiable as a cotton tweed. It is made in the same factory and from the same material as the blue denim, which, I was informed, is used only for overalls in factories, ‘ but because it is different in colour it bears the cotton tweed duty, suggesting that there are more wonderful things in this world than are dreamt of by the majority of us. The representative of a large Victorian woollen mill informed me recently that his firm did not need further protection.
– What mill is the honorable member referring to?
– A well-known Geelong woollen mill. This view is evidently supported by the experience of the South Australian Woollen Company. That company did not want this duty on cotton tweeds. It produces excellent woollen goods, and has extensive business connexions in Victoria and New South Wales. The Onkaparinga rugs and blankets, manufactured by that company, are second to none in the world. Eighteen years ago my eldest brother went as an honorary commissioner for the South Australian Government to the Paris Exhibition, and took an Onkaparinga rug with him. French and British merchants who attended the exhibition congratulated him upon its excellence, and declared that the company should have no difficulty in marketing Onkaparinga rugs on the other side of the world. That is what we should strive for. We should not go in for the production of rubbishy cotton tweeds, but should concentrate on the production of high grade woollen goods from the raw material in Australia, because we should then have some’ hope of selling them in other countries. I wish to be perfectly fair to all sections of the community. I object very strongly to misleading information sent to me concerning these tariff items by representatives of both the importers and manufacturers of woollen tweeds. I am not surprised -that other honorable members, who have no personal knowledge of the trade, have been misled. These interested people are . concerned principally with the effect of the tariff upon their pockets. I should like to emphasize that the duty on cotton tweeds- was. intended to protect the woollen industry. The following is an extract from a circular sent to me concerning flannels and blankets : -
Prior to the introduction of the new tariff the woollen industry had passed through a severe period of stagnation-
That was due to some extent to slackness in delivery - due to the absence of orders, brought about to a large extent by the excessive importations, principally from the United Kingdom during the year 1922-23, and which continued, though not quite so severe, up to last year.
We have been told by the Minister that importations are on the increase, but I shall show that they are not.
Even the flannel and blanket trade, which the Australian mills haw practicality caplured, was severely attacked, the importation of flannels increasing from 1922 to 1923 by 466 per cent., and blankets by 141 per cent.
My complaint is that the authors of this circular did not give me the figures in pounds, shillings and pence. A percentage increase is not necessarily conclusive. The volume of trade is all-important. I say deliberately that the yardage and prices of the articles were intentionally left out, because it would spoil their case. We should have the fullest information from both sides. Up to the present that has not been given to us. The small increase in the importation of flannels and blankets in the year mentioned was due to the fact that the market for wool was falling at the time, and the position was becoming very acute. The manufacturers in Australia were not up to time with their deliveries. Stuff which I ordered for the 1st of March, for the winter trade, was not delivered until the 1st of May. A cold snap came along, and wchad no blankets, and very few flannels to sell. The result was that next year a number of people were approached and asked to import a small quantity of blankets and flannels to tide us over the first month or two of the season, and prevent such a breakdown as had occurred during the previous year. That explains why there was an increase in the percentage of imports of blankets and flannels at that particular time, although, .as I have said, it represented but a very small increase in the value of the. goods. The fall in woollen prices was another reason why the factories were up against it. It was the reason why some failed, why some had to be reconstructed, and some were short because they could not afford to carry on. The reason was not competition from overseas, but simply that the factories were unable to stand the racket of the fall in the wool market. I can give an illustration from the experience of the South Australian Woollen Company. I am glad to be able to give that company a thumping good advertisement. It is an ideal organization, and is carried on in a way that is a credit to the company and the State to which it belongs. The South Australian Woollen Company was placed in the same position as others, but it has always refused to make “ muck,” which is a very good description of some of the stuff that is made. It makes only first-class stuff, and stands or falls by it. It was paying good dividends and increased its capital, but when it was faced with the extra price of wool it did not, as some other organizations did, carry on, trying to get the last penny, but it cut its losses; it paid only a small dividend, and extended its operations. That is the proper way in which to carry on business, and manufacturers who carry on business in that way will always receive from me the fullest measure of support through the” tariff. But when firms attempt to carry on by unbusinesslike methods, with ramshackle machinery, and altogether in a slip-shod way, without knowing or bothering to learn their business, expecting the people to pay for their inefficiency, they will get no support from me. Let me say that at different times different samples have been handed to the department for its decision as to whether they are cotton tweeds, or something else. One bunch of samples I have here consists entirely of cotton tweeds, upon which the duty must be paid. I have another bunch of samples which the importers were told by the department were not cotton tweeds, did not come under that item, and might be imported without duty. This bunch includes moles, gabardines, khaki drills, plain khaki twill, twilled moles, denims, and a lustrefinished material. The importers were told that these were not dutiable. Since that decision was * announced the department has learned more, or in its ignorance, learned less, and contrary to the opinion of experts, has decided that with the exception of a blue denim, the samples in the second bunch are cotton tweeds, and must pay duty. I do not wish to be unfair to the Minister, but this afternoon the honorable gentleman referred to weights and widths of material as governing the. payment of duty. He further stated that importers had altered the widths of certain materials in order to evade the payment of duty on them. That is surely legitimate. If it is contended that there is something dishonest about it, let me point out that what is sauce for the goose should be sauce for the gander. When the tariff schedule was tabled last September, 6£ oz. was fixed as the weight of what are known as shoddy tweeds - cheap tweeds which should carry duty. Large numbers of orders were placed overseas for tweeds coming under that weight - between 6 oz. and 6^ oz. That was perfectly legitimate. There . was nothing dishonest about it. But as soon as the department found this out, what did it do ? It reduced the weight carrying duty to 6 oz., and is now going to collect duty on these goods. Is that honest? I do not think it is. If it is contended that the ordering of material under the weight’ fixed to carry duty was a trick by the importers, who, it should not be forgotten, are also manufacturers of clothing who employ people at Australian wages, was it not also a trick on the part of the Customs Department to reduce the weight of material bearing duty after orders had been placed ? The importers of these goods, who are sometimes sneeringly called foreign traders, imported them in good faith, and, if it was a trick for them to order tweeds something under the weight fixed for the duty, was it not the duty “of the Government to stand superior to such trickery, and say, “ We are going to reduce to 6 oz. the weight of material carrying duty: but we shall not impose it on the goods that are coming along, though we think you should not have done what you did. In future, similar goods of a weight of 6 oz. will carry duty, and you will know where you are.” If is not a fair thing that, after people have accepted the word of the Government as to the goods which shall be dutiable, the Government should go behind their backs and put them to extra expense. Some of the stuff that is now coming to Australia is not worth picking up. In view of its value the duty is so excessive that it would be better to put it into a boat and sink it, than to land it. because the duty alone payable on it could not be recovered by the importers. I make the statement that, so far as the duty on cotton tweed is concerned, no evidence was taken in Melbourne and evidence was taken only in Sydney. It seems to have been the result of an afterthought or a spasm after a nightmare that evidence on the. subject was taken from several firms. One would think on reading the list of those who were called to give evidence ,on the subject, that there are only two States in Australia. I complain, as a South Australian, and as a member representing one of the smaller States, that in framing tariffs the interests of the two big States of the Commonwealth are alone considered and the smaller States are not considered. In this case no evidence was taken in South Australia, .in Queensland, in Tasmania, or in Western Australia.
– It is sufficient to have the Australian stand-point.
– Then we should have the all-Australia standpoint and not the one-third or the one-sixth watereddown Australian standpoint. Last week, when the subject of pianos was brought up and reference was made to pianos manufactured in two only of the States, I made an interjection on the lines of the protest I am now making. I have no wish to be considered a- little Australian: but, just as I say “ ^Australia first, Britain next, and the white races next,” so I say “ South Australia first, Australia next, Britain next,” and I carry the thing back to my own family, because the tariff, like charity, should begin at home. That is the rightangle from which to view tariff matters. I guarantee that some representatives of South Australia in this State have travelled Australia to a greater extent than have representatives of the larger States. We are sometimes asked, “Where is South Australia,?” and “ Where is Adelaide ?” Some people seem to be under the impression that South Australia is a suburb of one of the bigger States. I dare say that some of my honorable friends from Queensland have had the same experience, and have been asked, “Where is Brisbane?” We think that we are on the map, and we expect that, in the consideration of important matters like the tariff, before decisions are made, in formation should be obtained not from one State, but from all. The Tariff Board should secure the fullest information possible on all the subjects with which it has to deal. The Minister made some remark about “the ever- increasing importations of woollen goods.” Let me quote the figures from the Tariff Board’s recommendation. For 1922-3 the value of the woollen piece goods imported into the Commonwealth was £4,7lS,194. In the next year the value was about £3,300,000. That shows a falling-off of nearly £1,400,000. Not an “ everincreasing,” but a decreasing importation. This answers the statement that the local industries require the extra duty because of “ ever-increasing importations.” Surely to goodness Ave should be given the facts. I know that the Minister was only reading the stuff put into his hands. He would agree with me that he does not know anything about the softgoods trade. He would be man enough to admit that. I am prepared to say that I know nothing whatever about the iron and steel trade, and I - shall be prepared to listen to the advice of those who do know something about it. Last night I heard a good deal about whisky. I do not know anything about it. I do not drink it.
– The honorable member must regard the debate on whisky as having been closed.
– I referred to the matter only as an illustration to make my point that the Minister is not an authority on textiles, cotton tweeds, and so on. Various descriptions are given of imported goods, and it is often very difficult to say what are cotton tweeds. I have here samples of cotton worsteds and cotton tweeds. They are all called, by the department, “ cotton tweeds,” and include moles and brown denims. The department does not know what a cotton tweed is. I do not wish to belittle the Minister. He is probably a master of some trades, but evidently not of the cotton textile trade. We in Australia should concentrate on certain lines. We should make one thing, and perfect it. We should establish two or three industries at a time, and not box all over the manufacturing compass, finally finishing up by making nothing but rubbish. Let us pay an export bounty on woollen tweeds to establish markets overseas. We have a chance here to make woollen tweeds and worsteds on an extensive scale. Although in America there is a tariff of 80 per cent, against British worsteds, yet they are sold there because of their excellent quality. If we waste our time making cotton tweeds and rubbish, we shall never become expert manufacturers. This country will be jack of all trades and master of none. Some of the duties under the tariff are even higher than were asked for by the manufacturers concerned. I do not know the reason for this. I know that the manufacturers, and the importers also, make their applications to the department on the same basis’ as a man sells a horse. He asks not for what it is worth or what he thinks it is worth, but for a price which will permit of bargaining.
– In one case a duty was imposed because it was easier to calculate.
– That may be so. The following is taken from the Tariff Board’s report on cotton tweeds : -
The imposition of a prohibitive duty would needlessly contribute to an increase in the cost of living, by forcing the use of the more expensive woollen material upon a class whose occupations subject their clothes to rough usage. The use of such material as cotton tweeds is a necessity to workers in . Queensland’ and other tropical parts of Australia, the advantage being that garments made from this material are easily washed and are much cooler.
That statement shows that the Tariff Board has a very hazy idea of the use of cotton tweeds and knows nothing at all of the cotton tweed trade. It does not even know the difference between shoddy tweed and cotton tweed. Even the Minister this afternoon referred to cotton tweed as shoddy cotton tweed. Shoddy tweed is made up almost entirely of short staple stuff and of waste material, including the fluff off the floor. The Tariff Board has no idea where cotton tweeds are used, because it says that they are necessary to workers in Queensland and other tropical parts of Australia. Cotton tweeds are used practically throughout my electorate, and I think that I am safe in saying that 90 per cent, of the working trousers used there are made of cotton tweed or denim. I tried for years to persuade my customers not to buy cheap woollen tweed trousers, because they are not suitable for their purpose. Imagine a man working in the heat on a sheep station, farm or orangery clothed in woollen tweeds! Grass seeds adhere readily to woollen tweeds, but not to cotton tweeds, which constitute a necessary of life for the man on the land. Most remarkable statements have been made on the subject of cotton tweeds. The Minister made use of one this afternoon when he referred to the millions of yards of this material that could be made by Australian firms. If those cotton tweeds are like the sample that I have here, they are virtually useless. The Minister also stated that a certain Collingwood firm could supply the whole of the retail trade with sufficient cotton tweed. The explanation of that statement is that that firm was referring to its own retail trade, and to its ability to supply the requirements of its own factory. The Minister also said that cotton tweeds could be satisfactorily produced in Australia at 20 per cent, above the present landed cost. The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) tried to inform me some time ago that cotton tweed trousers made in Australia could be retailed at the same price as the imported article under the old tariff.
– And so they can.
– Then why impose a duty ranging from 74 per cent, to 133 per cent. ? Why not impose a duty of 25 per cent.? The honorable member’s argument does not apply at all, because when the cotton tweeds are put on the market they will be branded not as is whisky - Scotch or Australian, or whatever it may be - but simply as cotton tweeds. There will be, therefore, no room for prejudice. If honorable members who should be well informed on this subject do not know the difference between the grades of cotton tweed, how on earth can we expect the ordinary citizen to discriminate between them ? The Minister also said that a Sydney woollen mill had produced cotton tweeds which could be sold as men’s trousers at11s. 6d. a pair as against a well-known standard cloth made up as trousers and selling at11s. a pair. I suppose that statement is the source of the information that the honorable member for Yarra made use of. The information that I gave earlier about the rela- tive prices of these materials utterly confounds the Minister’s statement. When referring to the importation of cotton tweeds from overseas, he had apparently not as much information as he could have obtained. His particular friends, the Associated Chambers of Manufactures, could have given him certain figures on that subject. His information, and that contained in a pamphlet issued by the Associated Chambers of Manufactures, do not seem to correspond, and I do not know which to believe. One remarkably silly statement in that pamphlet is that the quality of Australian cotton tweeds is quite equal to that of . the British. I ask in what way ? It is quite possible for an Australian manufacturer with experience to make -a cotton tweed equal in quality to any other, but at what price? The important factor of price has been omitted. What man would be foolish enough to buy an article at one shop for, say 13s., when at another shop a similar article could be purchased for, say 6s. 6d. ? Another absurd statement in the pamphlet issued by the Associated Chambers of Manufactures is that the quality of Australian cotton tweeds is naturally far superior to the quality of those made in Japan. Why should our tweeds be naturally superior to those of Japan ? Japan can make . just as good cotton tweeds as those made in Australia or Great Britain. It is again a question of price. I am in favour of imposing prohibitive duties on all articles that can be manufactured in Australia and within the Empire so as to shut out competition from other countries. According to the pamphlet of the Associated Chambers of Manufactures the approximate figures for 1924-25 respecting cotton tweeds imported into Australia are as follow: - Japan, £139,000; United Kingdom, £63 000 : United States of America, £20,000; Belgium, £20,000;- Italy, £9,000; and other countries £500; totalling, in round figures, £253,000. The Minister, however, stated that the imports of cotton tweeds during that year were valued at £360,000. The Minister in valuing the imports from the United Kingdom at £63,000, would lead the committee to suppose that the imports from Japan are larger than they are. I am inclined to accept the figures prepared by the Associated Chambers of Manufactures, which show that Japan has been getting more than its share of this trade. I estimate
Japan’s proper share at exactly1d. less than1d. The Minister cannot be aware that a lot of material which will be included in this item is imported under other items. It may be invoiced as nap, engineers’ twist, or cotton worsted. The £8,000,000 worth of cotton goods imported each year includes a large number of lines which would certainly come within the departmental definition ‘of cotton tweed. That fact, I think, explains the apparent smallness of the imports from Great Britain. Two or three facts Iwould impress upon honorable members. First, Australia should manufacture as much as possible of its own needs, and to that end should concentrate upon the development of manufactures from our own primary products, such as wool and maize. We should also raise the quality of those products to the highest possible standard, so that their excellence, like that of our dried fruits, will be recognized throughout the world. There are people in different parts of the world wealthy enough to pay for the best, and for such people we should cater. If that principle be adopted we can not only supply the local market with blankets and woollen tweeds, but we can export our surplus. If our manufacturers are confined to the Australian market, we shall have the evil of over-production, followed by stagnation, and a request to Parliament for a bounty or some other artificial prop. In a recent letter my sister, who is a wool-grower on the Murrumbidgee River, informed me that the prices she received for her wool this year was very much less than she had expected, and in consequence she had difficulty in carrying on. Yet in that industry, above all others, Australia is supposed to hold its own against the world.
– A discussion of the woollen industry is hardly relevant to an item relating to cotton goods.
– I have previously pointed out that as the duties on cotton tweeds were imposed originally for the purpose of protecting the manufacture of woollen tweeds, the discussion must inevitably cover both. Instead of trying to foster a comparatively small cottontweed industry our manufacturers should devote their, energies to perfecting the manufacture of woollens. These duties on cotton tweed will inevitably increase the cost of living, and make more difficult the circumstances of people in the humbler walks of life. Boys attending State schools in city and country wear principally cotton- tweed . knickerbockers. This duty will hit heavily the parents of those children, and the greater the number of boys in the family the bigger the burden. Cotton-tweed trousers are almost generally worn by the manual workers, and these duties will further enrich a few already wealthy manufacturers at the expense of the more poorlypaid workers in all avocations. I estimate the increased burden on the community at £500,000 per annum. The whole of that money will not be spent in Australia, because cotton yarn and other requirements of manufacture will be purchased from abroad. I predict that the first quarterly returns issued by the statistician after the imposition of these duties will show that the cost of living has increased. Inevitably wages will advance correspondingly.
– I call for a quorum. [Quorum formed.’]
– I have said sufficient to indicate to the committee what will be the disastrous effect of the imposition of these duties. The unemployment amongst factory operatives will be serious, particularly in Melbourne. We should avoid at all costs throwing people out of employment. What will be the net gain in giving employment to two or three hundred men in the cotton-tweed industry if by the same action a few thousands of people in other industries are thrown out of employment? If the Government is wedded to these duties it should at least make temporary provision against unemployment until such time as the local factories are producing in quantity these high-priced but inferior cotton goods.
– The honorable member does not desire to see the Japanese thrown out of employment.
– The Japanese can take care of themselves. I hold no brief for them.
– The honorable member is taking care of them.
– I have not said one word in advocacy of their interests, and I object to misrepresentation.
– Is the honorable member aware that the bulk of cotton-tweed imports come from Japan ?
– I have already mentioned how that can be obviated.
– The honorable member is barracking for Japan.
– I am not doing anything of the kind. I object to the honorable member for Maribyrnong deliberately misrepresenting my attitude on this question. I hope that when a division is taken honorable members will not vote blindly, but will regard the subject from a true Australian stand-point, instead of endeavouring to conserve the interests of three or four wealthy manufacturers to the detriment of practically the whole of the people of Australia.
– Six months ago I spoke on the duty imposed upon cotton tweeds, and at that time I truthfully stated that very little of this material was being manufactured in Australia. I was then inclined to oppose the imposition of a duty upon cotton tweeds as I had not been assured that the material was being manufactured in Australia in sufficient quantities to meet the local demand. As I am convinced that cotton tweed of a satisfactory quality is now being manufactured in the Commonwealth, the proposed duty is one which I can conscientiously support. I rose more particularly to refute some of the statements made by the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Parsons), who quoted a lot of piffle, doubtless supplied to him by representatives of overseas manufacturers and importers. By a stupid trick the honorable member endeavoured to mislead honorable members. In comparing Australian cotton-tweed trousers with those of similar material manufactured in Great Britain, the honorable member endeavoured to show the unsatisfactory quality of the former by readily tearing the material. I have before ‘me a pair of English cotton-tweed trousers of similar quality to those which the honorable member for Angas displayed, and as honorable members will see, the cottontweed cloth of which they are made can be easily torn across the weft. That does not prove that the material is inferior. The honorable member, who professes to have had considerable experience in the trade, should know that almost all cotton goods sold over the counter are not cut with scissors, but after a nick has been made on the edge, are torn.
– The honorable member should tell me something I do not know.
– The honorable member endeavoured to mislead the committee by misrepresenting the quality of the Australian material. The material in the sample pair of trousers which I produce would, I think, wear fairly well.
Mr.Parsons. - What are they made of?
– English cotton tweed. I challenge the honorable member for Angas to give me an opportunity to tear, across the weft, the best sample in his possession. I should be able to do so as readily as I have torn the sample before me. The honorable member for Angas referred to the use of shoddy cloth which he said is manufactured largely from material of short staple and floor sweepings. There is much more likelihood of imported cloth being made from short staple material and shoddy stuff than there is of Australian cloth being so made. The sweepings from the. factories of Australian manufacturers would produce only a few hundred yards of shoddy, whereas that from the large mills in Britain, Germany, or Japan, where they manufacture on a very large scale, would be sufficient to produce perhaps hundreds of thousands of yards. In all material there is likely to be some short stapled stuff. As honorable members will see it is difficult to tear the Australian material against the warp. It was not fair of the honorable member to influence members by an obvious trick, and to endeavour to depreciate the quality of the material we produce. Even the best worsted material could be torn in the same way as Australian cotton tweed. The demonstration of the honorable member for Angas does not prove that the quality of the material is inferior, because most cotton goods, including those of good quality, can readily be torn. The honorable member also stated that the majority of workmen in the city and in the country, as well as the school children, are clothed in cotton tweeds, and that if this duty is imposed, higher prices will have to be paid for this material which he says is essential to the Australian people. For the information of the honorable member I may state that the cotton tweeds imported into Australia in 1924-25 were valued at only £252,000. Does the honorable member suggest that our workmen and school children could be clothed for that amount? Woollen clothing is very extensively used in Australia, and in consequence of the demand for such garments, our woollen trade has developed considerably. Although I have not been in the trade for seven or eight years I am able to say that the sale of woollen material as against cotton is about 3 to 1. In 1924-5. the importations of cotton tweed from Japan were valued at £139,336; from United Kingdom,, at £63,000; United States of America, £20,014; Belgium,. £20,320; Italy, £91,702; and othercountries, £568. I doubt very much whether the whole of the material imported from Great Britain was manufactured in British mills. Possibly a fair proportion of it was German stuff sent across to Great Britain and shipped to Australia by “ tricky “ importers. It will be seen that cotton tweeds valued at £139,336 have been imported from Japan, which is more than half of the total value of the importations from other countries. What are the conditions in the manufacturing industries in Japan ? A merchant once told me that when he decided to purchase a large consignment of attache cases he sent his representative to Japan to buy at the factories. His representative was instructed to be in attendance the whole time the cases were being packed, placed on the lorries, and shipped by an overseas steamer. He had, in effect, to sit on the cases in order to prevent inferior articles from being shipped. Another gentleman purchased towels from a Japanese agent in accordance with a sample of superior quality measuring about 6 feet by 4 feet. He took orders for 100,000 dozen in Sydney, but when his order was executed the towels measured about 3 feet by 2 feet, and were of most inferior quality. Apparently there is no such thing as commercial morality in Japan. Japanese flannelette when unrolled is frequently found to be of an unsatisfactory quality ‘ and most irregular in width and texture. That is what Australian importers doing business with Japan have to contend with. Our experience during the war period was such that we determined that if possible we would develop the cotton trade, and manufacturers of such cotton goods as hosiery have already made good. As the result of their enterprise, experiments were conducted in growing cotton. If such an effort had not been made, we should not be justified, in my opinion, in protecting manufacturers of cotton goods, for the industry could never become self-contained; but as a guarantee has been given that cotton growing will be carried on extensively, I am prepared to support the item. We hope that we shall never . be called upon to suffer such a great calamity as the recent war was. but in the interests of our producers, ^business men, and consumers, we should prepare against it by developing the cotton growing and manufacturing industries. We shall then never again be at the mercy of such soulless importers as exploited us during the war. I sold calico over my counter before the war at 5½d. a yard, and five years afterwards I was obliged to sell an exactly similar article at 2s. 9d. a yard. I have sold hundreds of pairs of cotton tweed trousers like those I exhibited this afternoon at 4s. lid. a pair, but since the war similar articles have been sold at 12s. 6d. and 14s. 6d., which was then the price of a superior quality woollens. If we establish the cotton-growing industry in Australia, I am sure that the Australian consumer would not be exploited by the Australian manufacturers as he was exploited by importers during the war.
.- Like the honorable member for Werriwa, I had no intention of participating in the debate until the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Parsons) made his speech. Since these duties were imposed last September, the manufacturing of cotton tweeds has been established in New South Wales on a sound basis. I venture to say that the goods made there are superior to the imported article. They are made from long staple cotton, and no shoddy is used. More than one firm is engaged in the business. In addition :to Vicars Ltd., Messrs. G. A. Bond and Co. are very active. They have already spent £60,000 in establishing their cotton tweeds mills. The local article is produced from 100 per cent. Australian cotton yarn, which contains about 80 per cent, of Australian cotton, and it is sold at prices varying from 2s. 6d. to 4s. 6d. a yard. So far from being unable to cope with the requirements of the trade, the local manufacturers have supplied every order they have received, and have 16,000 yards of cotton tweed in stock to meet future orders. In view of these facts it is useless for the honorable member for Angas, or any other honorable members to say that the industry cannot be established here, that the trade cannot be supplied, or that we cannot produce a good material. I am told that garments made of Australian cotton tweed last two, three, and sometimes four times as long as those made of the imported material. They are being retailed at a reasonable rate, and the public is satisfied with them. In those circumstances I submit that we should ratify the duty. For the defence of Australia, it is highly desirable that we should establish cotton production and manufacture here .on a large scale. The mills already in operation are efficiently operated, and they are at least as uptodate and progressive as those in any other part of the world, and are producing a superior article. I urge honorable members to pass the item without delay.
.- So far, this debate has centred on one article specified in the item. I do not think that honorable members realize all that is involved in these duties: The Minister for Trade and Customs in introducing this new schedule a few days ago told us that it was practically the same as the schedule introduced last September. He said that only verbal alterations had beer, made to make the meaning clearer.
– I think I said that the schedule was based on the same principles.
– The Minister added that no new duties were involved. I assert that that statement was not quite correct, and that the Minister was not frank with honorable members. The history of the events surrounding the introduction of this schedule is interesting. In September last cotton tweeds were specifically set out with woollen piece goods, and duty was imposed on them under item 105f. But there was considerable public outcry against the schedule as soon as it was introduced, and the Minister found himself in a rather difficult position in regard to it. He discovered that, in his eager attempt to protect particular industries, he had caused grave inconsistencies in. the tariff, which were giving his department considerable trouble. The high duty that was fixed on cotton goods affected extensive stocks, delivery of which had been delayed by the British seamen’s strike, and other causes, and the apparel manufacturers were in a serious position. The Minister thereupon gave a ruling that certain cotton tweeds should be admitted free. Why he did so nobody has been quite able to understand. He differentiated between brown and grey cotton tweeds in favour of the brown, so that materials identical in quality were taxed differently because they were of a different colour. For some reason there is a greater demand in Australia for grey cotton tweed than for brown: but the manufacturers adjusted themselves to the new conditions, produced more brown cotton tweed garments than formerly, and in order to maintain supplies, ordered considerable stocks of the same colour. At that time there was an election imminent, and in order to get out of the difficulties that his inconsistencies had created for him, the Minister gave a departmental ruling that all cotton tweed that arrived in Australia before the 31st December should be admitted free under item 404 of the general tariff. Honorable members twitted me this afternoon for saying that the Minister, in issuing this order, committed an illegal action. What I said was that, in my view, his action was illegal. I am not a lawyer, and only expressed my view as a layman. The facts on which I based it were these : The Minister introduced a schedule, and requested Parliament to validate it. It set out that definite duties should be imposed on specified articles. Item 404 of the general tariff was intended to cover articles not elsewhereincluded, and to give the Minister a discretion regarding articles not definitely specified and tabulated in the schedule, but cotton tweed was specifically set out under item 105. In the circumstances I say that the Minister acted wrongly. He not only acted without the authority of Parliament, but in direct opposition to the declared intention of Parliament. Nor is that the end of the story. Later, in November, a departmental order was issued, and firms interested in the cotton-tweed trade were informed that certain cloths other than those specifically mentioned were to be treated as coming within the provisions of item 105r. . It was only on cotton tweeds that this Parliament validated a rate. Subsequently the department issued a ruling that the rate was to be extended to other cotton - goods which had hitherto been classed as cotton piece goods under item 105a (1). In other words, by a departmental ruling the department altered the whole incidence of the duty. It had previously waived the decision of the Parliament with regard to cotton tweeds, and it then gave a ruling that articles which the Parliament had specifically included under item 105a should be subject to the new rate on cotton piece goods. I have a list of the articles affected. I am not an expert in the softgoods business, but the difference between them and cotton tweeds . is obvious. The list has been supplied to me as copied from the departmental ruling. It embraces -
Cotton tweeds, suitings, trouserings, naps, engineers’ twists, cottonades, cassimeresBedford cords, . whip cords, diagonal cords, vertical cords, coverts, gabardines, Canton mole, denims (except blue).
The second portion of this list’, comprising Bedford cords, whip cords, diagonal cords, vertical cords, coverts, gabardines, Canton mole, and denims; except blue denims, were previously classified as piece goods. Thus, all cotton piece goods which, under the original tariff, and also under the schedule of September last, were classed under item 105a, are now classed under item 105f, which subjects them to the same rate as woollen piece goods and cotton tweeds. In other words, the department has brushed aside the decision of Parliament. The departmental memorandum proceeds as follows: -
Any other cotton piece goods suitable for the abovementioned purposes which, in pattern or design, represent woollen tweeds or worsteds, and which exceed 6J ounces per square yard..1
By this ruling there is imposed on cotton piece goods a restriction’ in weight which did not exist previously. I protest against that action. The Minister must have known when he authorized that ruling that he was doing something which, to say the least, was irregular.
– Certainly not. The Tariff Board and all the leading departmental officials concurred in the decision, and, after considering precedents, I approved of it.
– In other words, the Tariff Board, the department, and the Minister may do what they like without first obtaining the authority of the Parliament.
– Classification had always been in the hands of the department until it was placed in the hands of the Tariff Board.
– The Minister is only aggravating his action. Does he admit that I have stated the facts accurately?
– I have tried to he accurate. I am speaking from information supplied to me. If that information is accurate, the Minister’s ruling was irregular, and by his subsequent action he has admitted that it was irregular. He has come down with a proposal in this schedule to confirm what he did without authority. The item we are now discussing covers the action taken by the department without the approval of the Parliament. The Parliament may approve of what has been done, but that is not the question. The Minister had no right to do such things before asking the Parliament to approve of them. To legislate by departmental regulation amounts to a usurpation of the functions and powers of the Parliament. His present action is an admission that what he did was irregular.
– The honorable member is making a serious charge.
– I know that it is a serious charge, and I am making it seriously. After the schedule had been tabled, the Parliament was asked to pass a validating bill in special circumstances, so that the Government could collect the duties until we could discuss them. We passed that validating bill with confidence in the Minister, but in the interval which has elapsed he has introduced important and far-reaching changes without authority. He now asks the committee to . pass this new schedule, and says that there is no real alteration in the duties. As a matter of fact, in this schedule he has lifted the rate of duty on an important class of goods, some of which, if they came from Great Britain, were formerly free. The schedule also contains new items relating, particularly, to woollen piece goods. The Minister might, at least, have explained these alterations to the House when he introduced the schedule. Having made that protest; I wish also to say that the Minister has altered the incidence of the duties. I do not object very much to his altering the lineal yard to the square yard, provided it is admitted that to fix a rate per yard is the right method. His action was justified to protect the revenue, but he has altered the rate of duty in another important respect. He has changed the weight from 61/2 oz. to 6 oz. That again is not fair. This House validated a bill in which the maximum weight was 61/2 oz., and it was known that thetariff was to be in force until Parliament met again. Traders were justified in entering into contracts on the assumption that the conditions fixed in September last would not be disturbed in the intervening period. They gave orders on the basis of 61/2 oz., but when the goods arrived here the new ruling of 6 oz. was applied. Merchants with shipments of thousands of yards of cloth, ordered under the apparent security of an act passed by this Parliament last September, are threatened with ruin by the alteration of the basis of weight. The Government is not treating the trading community with even decent consideration. Those persons are citizens of this country, and I am informed that some of them in Sydney have already gone insolvent as a result of this alteration. That is not a fair way to treat men who are engaged in an honorable trade. Certainly those who ordered goods under the schedule of September last should have been allowed’ to import them in accordance with that schedule. If the House approves of the present schedule, any alterations which have been made should apply in the future only. Surely there should be some reasonable policy of give and take for men who have been legitimately carrying on their business under an act of Parliament passed last September. The goods which are being lifted by this schedule include not only cotton tweeds, but also goods which are nothing like cotton tweeds, such as alpacas, Sicilians, and gabardines. The whole range of cotton materials is embraced. I shall place specimens of them on the table, and I hope that honorable members will inspect them. We are supposed to be considering a duty for the protection of the cotton tweed making industry, but no attempt has been made in this country to manufacture most of these goods. Even if we grant, which I dc not, that the “manufacture of cotton tweeds has been placed on a commercial basis, the fact remains that most of these goods are not cotton tweeds.
– Is the duty the same on all of them?
– Yes. The alteration in the schedule has made them all subject to the same extravagant rate of duty.
– Is it not a fact that in six. months ten mills have been started?
– I very much doubt the accuracy of that statement. Even if they have been established for the manufacture of cotton tweeds, they are not making the other goods to which I have referred. No attempt has been made to manufacture cotton piece goods in Australia. The rate of duty is enormous. There is a square yard duty of1s.,1s. 6d., and 2s., plus an ad valorem duty of 30, 40, and 45 per cent. I think the principle of having both a fixed and an ad valorem duty is wrong. The duty ought to be ad valorem only. It should be made as high as Parliament approves, but to have two duties is manifestly undesirable, for it simply means that any trader, however honest he desires to be, and however anxious he may be to comply with the law, is liable to make mistakes for which he will be regarded as culpable. There are brown and grey moles amongst those samples. An examination will show honorable members that the material and make of both are identical, the only difference being in regard to colour. Yet one is admitted at a rate of duty different from that applying to the other! The cost of clothing made from cotton tweed has been referred to. That has been the central point of attack and defence upon this item. It is not possible to produce figures relating to the prices and costs of many materials, because they are used for different purposes. Some are used for linings, others enter into the making of certain classes of women’s dress goods. Gabardine, for example, is used in the making of overcoats and waterproofs. It is, therefore, difficult to ascertain the result of the duties upon the cost to the consumer. I wish, however, to give detailed figures relating to the price of a cotton tweed pair of trousers. The honorable member for Angas (Mr. Parsons) included retailers’ profits in the prices that he quoted, and the figures at which he arrived were questioned. It is the retail price to the consumer that has to be considered. The honorable member for Angas omitted to point out that the amount which he added for retailers’ profit was not wholly profit in the ordinary sense of the term. It included also the cost of distribution, and other costs incurred in the running of a business. The honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Bowden) said just now that a manufacturer in Sydney could produce cotton tweed at from 2s. to 4s. 6d. a yard. The honorable member for Angas very pertinently remarked that anything could be made if enough were paid for it. The following is the basis of my calculation : -
The Tariff Board has furnished reasons for this’ proposed increase in duty. It does not claim that cotton tweeds are being manufactured in Australia, or that the manufacturers require increased protection. The astounding fact was brought to light that the application to the board was made, not by cotton tweed manufacturers, but by woollen manufacturers. It took me some time to locate the evidence and the recommendation of the board. It is to be found in the report of the board relating to woollen piece goods.
– They are also manufacturers of cotton piece goods.
– That is another story. The application was made, not by an established industry, but by manufacturers of woollen goods, who said that cotton tweeds were interfering with the sale of their woollen goods. That is an extraordinary method of bringing in a new duty. It was contended that cotton tweeds were imitating woollen tweeds. The only way in which they can imitate them is in regard to the pattern on their surface. Cotton goods are purchased, not for their pattern, but for the use which their quality makes possible. It was not claimed that they replaced woollen goods’. That is proved by the paragraph in the report of the board which states-
The use of such material as cotton tweed is a necessity to workers in Queensland and other tropical parts of Australia, the advantage being that garments made from this material are easily washed and much cooler.
Upon the flimsy pretext of imitation we are asked to consent to the imposition of the staggering duty proposed. Hitherto the guiding principle in imposing protective* duties has been that the goods in question were being made on a commercial scale in the Commonwealth. It is only since the application for a duty raised severe criticism that some of the mills which hitherto were devoted chiefly to the making of woollen goods have made a frantic attempt to produce cotton tweeds. No other ground for the duty remained; it had been cut from under their feet. Even the report of the Tariff Board is inconsistent, and has not been based on sound principles. There has been a frantic attempt by the Minister, the department, and the mills, to show that the industry is established. A certain quantity of cotton tweeds has been produced. I shall not discuss their quality. It is said that the best quality cannot compare with the imported article. That may or may not be the case. Possibly the quality can be rapidly improved. But it is not correct to say that the mills are producing these goods in quantities sufficient to meet the requirements of Australia. The manufacturers have apparently resorted to the temporary expedient of swinging over to the manufacture of cotton piece goods, machinery that is intended for the manufacture of woollen piece goods.
– They put in commission machines that had been lying idle for a long time.
– From information that I have been able to gather I shall show that they are not appropriate to the manufacture of cotton goods, and that if those goods are to be produced on a basis that will allow of competition with other countries, a different class of machine will have to be installed.
– G. A. Bond and Company Limited have machines erected in readiness for ‘ commencing operations when this duty is agreed to.
– Did they know that the duty was to be imposed?
– They expected that they would receive some assistance.
– Since last September they have . ordered £15,000 worth of machinery.
– They may have ordered it; that is a different matter.
– They are producing cotton goods with machinery that was intended for the manufacture of woollen goods.
– I have been endeavouring to point out that those machines are not suitable for that purpose.
– The honorable member for Parramata has pointed out that they have £60,000 worth of machinery in operation.
– Probably for the reason that they were offered this huge bonus. Duties are supposed to protect established industries. This industry is not established. The Minister (Mr. Pratten) stated that a Sydney firm was prepared to supply the whole of the cotton piece goods required in Australia. Did he mean that they were willing to do that eventually, or that they are ready to do it now?
– They are not prepared to do it now. The Minister knows- perfectly well that there are firms which are vainly endeavouring to obtain supplies of these tweeds. I think that when he introduced the schedule the Minister said that one mill in Sydney had given an undertaking to supply over 200,000 yards of good cotton tweed material. If, however, the Minister denies having said that, I accept his assurance, but a statement to that effect was made in the press, and some of those who were interested endeavoured to ascertain which Sydney mill had made the statement. They found out that no mill was in a position to fill an order of that magnitude. The Minister said that the duty was necessary because of the difference between English and Australian rates of wages. On this point let me quote from evidence given before the Tariff Board by the. representative of the Australian Association of British Manufacturers -
One reason advanced for the granting of this protective duty is the higher money wages paid in Australia as compared with some other countries. Thus the representatives of the applicant company say that as regards spinning and weaving, the wages in Australia are from 25 per cent, to 50 per cent, higher than in Great Britain. Taking a similar textile industry, namely, the woollen industry, we find that in 1921-2 the industry paid in wages £845,685 on a total output of £4,096,808. If wages had been paid at the English rates, as stated, they would be respectively from £561,789 to £674,147, according to the Australian rate being 50 per cent, or 25 per cent. above. On the output of £4,096,808, the Australian wages equal 20.8 per cent; if these were 50 per cent, higher than the English rates, then the wages at the English rate would be equal to 13.7 . per cent., and if Australian rates were 25 per cent, higher than. the English the English rates would be equal to 16.4 per cent, of the output. Therefore, if the Australian wages are 50 per cent, more than English, the extra labour cost is only 7.1 per cent., and in the case of 25 per cent., the extra cost is 4.4 per cent. Therefore* the extra labour cost does not justify a duty, of 25 per cent.
We quote these figures based on previous evidence to show that the 25 per cent, or 50 per cent, higher wages do not mean a 25 per cent, to 50 per cent, increase in the total cost of an article. Wages on the average are only 25 per cent, of the value of the article produced.
Nevertheless it is argued that because wages are 50 per cent, higher in
Australia, the duty should be increased by 50 per cent. These figures are confirmed by the Commonwealth Statistician, whose statistics show that on cotton tweeds the selling price of which does not exceed 5s. per lineal yard, the duties go up to 120 per cent. British and 200 per cent, general. The ratio of labour cost to the output value in woollen mills is 21.4 per cent., and in cotton mills it is only 9.7 per cent. I agree with thehonorable member for Angas (Mr. Parsons) concerning the uses and applicability of this class of goods. It is desirable that I should bring out one or two important points that have a direct bearing on employment of labour necessary for the manufacture of cotton tweeds, on the most efficient and up-to-date basis. The establishment of this proposed new industry must be considered with a clear view as to the high protective duty asked for, and its relative cost to the people as a whole. Cotton tweeds are now produced upon automatic looms with the assistance of an exceedingly small amount of skilled labour. Fifty automatic looms capable of producing 5,000 yards of cotton tweed material a week require the attention of six girls.
– I have seen automatic looms working in Melbourne.
– For the manufacture of cotton tweeds?
Mr.C. Riley. - Yes. Mr. MANN. - I am dealing with this industry from the point of view of its capacity to provide an additional avenue for employment. It is estimated that Australian requirements in cotton tweed amount to 4,500,000 yards per annum, so that on the basis I have mentioned employment will be given to 108 girls, involving wages expenditure of approximately £14,000,whilst the cost to the Australian public of establishing the industry under the 1925 schedule of duties will be approximately £774,000. By the time the goods reach the consumer, the public will pay £760,000per annum in excess of the wages of 108 girls in employment.
-When was the evidence quoted . by the honorable member a short time ago given before the Tariff Board?
– In August last.Unfortunately it was not included in the report.
Honorable members will recall that I complained, earlier in the debate, that the evidence upon which the recommendations of the board are framed is not printed with the report. 1 was able to obtain, a copy.
– That evidence, I presume, was given on behalf of the importers ?
– Certainly. The honorable member would not expect it to be given by the applicants.
– I merely wished to identify the source whence it came.
– Did the Tariff Board recommend the duty on cotton piece goods ?
– Yes, and I am showing the nature of the evidence upon which that recommendation was based. Parliament is not necessarily bound to accept the recommendation of the board. I have contended all along that honorable members should give careful consideration to all these tariff items.
– Is that the. whole of the evidence in relation to cotton piece goods upon which the Tariff Board based its recommendations ?
– No. The right honorable member for North Sydney would do well to study the report together with the evidence. When We are asked to approve of certain duties we should inform our minds upon the reasons for the recommendations. I have tried to do so. I have read the reports of the Tariff Board, and as much of the evidence as I could obtain. Unfortunately, I could not afford to buy the whole of it. There are serious technical difficulties in the way of establishing the cotton weaving industry in Australia, though I do not say that the difficulties are insuperable. There is, for example, the difficulty of obtaining adequate supplies of the raw material. It may be said that we are going to establish cotton growing in Australia. I am not so sure that we are, but if it is attempted it will mean more subsidies, and consequently higher prices for the raw materials for the cotton weaving industry. But apart altogether from the difficulty of securing supplies of the raw material, the successful development of the cotton weaving industry depends to a considerable extent on the profitable utilization of the secondary or by-products.’ There are also difficulties in connexion with obtain ing dyeing materials and, in the initial stages at all events, of securng the necessary expert operatives. But the chief obstacle to successful expansion will be in connexion with mass production to ensure low overhead expenditure.
Sitting suspended from 6.29 to 8 p.m.
– I call attention to the state of the committee. [Quorum formed.]
– I have been speaking of the difficulty of establishing the cotton industry in Australia. I do not quote at length the communication submitted to me because I do not wish to weary the committee, but it is a particularly interesting one from an American firm that was asked for a report on the possibility of establishing its industry in Australia. It sets out in detail the difficulties which would . be experienced. I am willing to put the communication at the disposal of the Minister or of any honorable member who desires to see it. I want to refer to the item, and certain objections I have to it. I refer first of all to the provision introduced with regard to the weight of these fabrics that are to be dutiable. The item provides that the fabrics must weigh more than 6 oz. to the square yard. It has been contended by the Minister that the purpose of this duty is to keep out cheap rubbish - “ shoddy,” the honorable gentleman calls it; but that term is, of course, wrongly applied to cotton goods. I presume that what the honorable gentleman means by using the word “ shoddy “ is cheap rubbishy goods, and it would be better to so describe them. The effect > of this item must be the reverse of what is intended. It should be obvious to honorable members, that the lower the limit of weight fixed for goods dutiable under this item, the greater the quantity of the lighter, cheaper, and more poorly manufactured goods that will be imported. So far, therefore, from excluding those inferior goods, the greater will be the quantity of material weighing less than 6 oz. to the square yard that will be imported. I recently had a sample of this class of material made up to weigh less than 6 oz., and compared it with material weighing 6£ oz. to the square yard. They had only to be compared to show the immense difference which the additional weight makes in the quality of the stuff. The outstanding feature of the department’s rule is that cloth under 6 oz. in weight per square yard will continue to be classified under the previous rate. This ruling is absolutely prejudicial to British manufacture, and will have the effect of forcing the trade into the hands of the Japanese and other foreign manufacturers, as the 15 per cent. British preference will be insufficient to enable British mills to compete against Japanese labour and the dumping by other countries of this class of goods. I presume that the Customs ruling to which I have referred will apply to the ruling which excludes blue denims, which is a very extraordinary provision. This also is particularly detrimental to British manufacturers trading with Australia, for there is no doubt that a very large share of the trade previously done in cotton tweed will now; be diverted to blue denims, which trade is practically a monopoly held by American and Japanese manufacturers, who dump their surplus production into this country. It is clear that the item will be quite ineffective for the purpose intended. I point out the great difficulty which will be experienced in the practical application of the item in the Customs House. Let honorable members imagine the difficulty that will arise upon the arrival of a large consignment of different pieces of goods of this character. Even though the invoices may show the weights per square yard of the different pieces, the difficulty of opening up a large consignment of cloth, and cutting and weighing portions from each of the rolls in order to check these details will obviously be very .great. It will lead to trouble and confusion in the Customs House and much delay in merchants obtaining their goods. As these goodsenerally come in to seasonal orders, aelay of two or three weeks or a month, which might easily occur, would be very serious. When I say that such a delay might easily occur, I am speaking from actual experience, as an instance of the kind has recently been under my notice. In spite of the extreme courtesy shown by the Customs officers with regard to ruling on certain prices of cloth, though they were submitted to them nearly four weeks ago, they are still unable to give me a ruling on them, although I have made frequent calls at the Customs House in connexion with the matter. These goods are seasonal goods imported for the making up of articles for the next season. A month’s delay in such a case must be a very serious matter for those who have to handle the goods. Again, the item is very confusing. It provides that the cotton piece goods to which it refers must be those “ which, in pattern, design, or appearance, resemble woollen piece goods used for the same purpose.” It has been shown over and over again that the goods which this item is intended to cover are not used for the same purpose as woollen piece goods. So, if I, as an importer, were to submit certain cotton tweeds to the Customs Department, this item would really not apply to them, although it is meant to cover them. The more the item is looked into, the more apparent become the practical difficulties of applying it to particular goods, and the more confusion becomes confounded. I want now to give a few further figures bearing on the employment which, it is assumed, will be given as a result of the imposition of this duty. The honorable member for Angas (Mr. Parsons) mentioned specific cases in which the imposition of the duty is causing, and will cause, direct unemployment in the industry for the manufacture of apparel. When we are concerned with trying to establish one industry, we should look abroad a little and consider what is likely to be the effect of our proposal upon other industries, and consider also their relative importance. Honorable members will not be aware of the relative importance of the weaving industry and the apparelmaking industry in Australia. In 1923-4 there were, in Australia, 47 woollen and tweed mills. In the same year there were 1,440 clothing factories, exclusive of dress-making and millinery factories. In the mills there were employed 7,532 hands, whilst in the clothing factories 28,000 hands were employed, or about four times the number employed in the weaving mills. If, by the imposition of these duties and the consequent increased cost of these materials, we seriously dislocate the clothing factories, many of their hands ‘may be thrown out of employment, and we may do very much more harm than good.
– How could the imposition of the duty make any difference in that regard, seeing that the local stuff will have to be made up?
– At present the clothing factories cannot obtain the material they require from local manufacturers. They are already in difficulties, and it must be some months, at least, before the local mills can produce all the material required by the clothing factories. The increased cost of the stuff, due to the imposition of the duty, must tend to diminish the demand for these goods, and lead to a number of hands in the factories in which they are made up being thrown out of employment. There will be a diminution of demand and shortage of material.
– How can the honorable member make good that- statement if the local manufacturers of cloth can supply the local market?
– I know that the manufacturers of apparel have themselves said that they cannot obtain locally the material they require. The honorable member for Angas has given cases in point and a number of houses to whom I have applied say that they have given orders, but cannot obtain deliveries. I mentioned a particular case of a mill in Sydney that could not fulfil its orders.
– Has the honorable member any figures to show how many hands have been put off by the clothing factories ?
– I have no detailed figures; but specific instances have been given, and from inquiries I have made I believe that the trouble and anxiety on this account amongst clothing manufacturers is widespread.
– The Minister assures us that there will be no shortage of material when the tariff is passed.
– I ask honorable members to consider the facts for themselves.
– The Minister has received guarantees from the manufacturers.
– Any one can give a verbal guarantee; and what is it worth? We have been told that the cotton weaving industry is to be established and requires this duty. I propose to read one or two extracts from a recent prospectus issued by George A. Bond Cotton Mills Limited, one of the firms applying for this duty. It was issued in March of this year in connexion with an issue of 100,000 8 per cent, preference shares of £1 each -
The cotton mills have been running day and night for the greater part of the past two years, and are at present employing about 500 hands. The whole operations are devoted to manufacturing yarns and piece goods (towels, canvas, calico, and cotton tweed) for the parent company. The earnings of the business transferred to the new company have been such as to (apart from the parent company’s guarantee) amply assure the payments of the preference dividend. Facts concerning parent company which guarantee dividend : The surplus assets of parent company (Geo. A. Bond and Company Limited) are over £560,000. Its profits for the year to 30th June, 1925, were over £66,000, subject to land and income tax deductions, whilst those for the present year show a very considerable increase.
When this company requires further capital it has a different story from that which it tells when asking for further protective duties. If its profits have considerably increased without this tariff schedule, what right has it to ask for further protection ? The imposition of these duties, and the blow thereby aimed at British manufacturers, are being seriously felt and gravely commented upon in Great Britain. Some honorable members will say that that does not matter, and that we have not to consider the British merchants. I have in my possession a series of private letters received by Australian firms from their correspondents in England, written in very strong terms. Although I am at liberty to read them to the committee I do not care to do so. I promise to show these letters to the Minister, or to any honorable member so long as he gives me his undertaking that the names of the writers will not be divulged, because if they were they would be placed at a disadvantage in regard to their competitors. The comments made by English traders and business men are rather startling, especially in view of the fact’ that a campaign has been started in Great Britain for advertising Empire goods, under a grant from the British Government. The proposal is to spend £2,000 a day in advertising, to push the sale of our own and other Empire goods in Great Britain. Considerable comment has been made on the fact that we are thus asking our own customers to advertise our goods, which is a rather unusual proceeding in business circles, and that concurrently with the commencement of that advertising campaign has come the imposition of these high duties, which will inflict a severe blow indeed upon British trade, and which are directly against the interests of those whom we are asking to interest themselves in the purchase of our products. Statements setting out the attitude of Australia towards British trade in this respect are being read at public meetings convened for the purpose of advocating an advertising campaign, and their effect has been very marked. The whole position” is complicated. The purpose of this item is exceedingly involved, and its effect is uncertain. T have shown that it will do many things it was not intended to do, and that it will apply a duty to a lot of articles which are not made in Australia. This, I am sure, was never intended by- Parliament. The effect of the tariff upon the community will be great, with little return, and it may possibly cause unemployment rather than additional employment. This tariff, if passed, will have a far-reaching effect, and will operate against the interests of Australia. I am prepared to move that the item be referred back to the Tariff Board and, in fact, I will move now -
That this item be referred back to the Tariff Board for further consideration and report to this House.
.- The opening remarks of the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann) were very interesting from a purely political standpoint. They disclosed what in his opinion was an electioneering trick by the Government. He suggested that the members of the Cabinet, and the Minister for Trade and Customs in particular, were guilty of an illegal act, of manipulating the tariff, and of going behind the decision of this Parliament just because the elections were imminent. The honorable member is in the ranks of the Ministerial party, and for the time being I shall let him fight the matter out with the Government. What I am concerned with is Australian industries - the establishment of new industries and the extension of established industries. Although I have listened with interest to the carefully thought out and prepared speech of the honorable member who leads the f freetrade party in this Parliament, I have not been able to seize upon one argument made by him to justify the motion that he has moved to refer this item back to the Tariff Board, or to justify this committee in rejecting the proposals of the Minister. With the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Parsons) he stressed the point that the request for an increased duty was made, not by any industry estab lished here for the manufacture of cotton tweeds, but by the Australian woollen manufacturers. What does it matter from whom the request came? Surely the merits of the proposal should be considered by this committee. Is there an argument for protection, or is there not ? After all, what is the history of the cotton tweed manufacturing industry in Australia ? This is the most wonderful item in the tariff schedule, because it has accomplished already something that was totally unexpected. It has established a new industry that was not even contemplated when the schedule was laid on the table of this House. At that time we had the frank statement (of atn honest protectionist that he had grave doubts about the wisdom of the application of this tariff, because it imposed a duty on articles not made to any extent in Australia. Cotton tweed goods were being imported, and it was not contemplated that as the result of its imposition a new industry would be immediately established in Australia. Why was this item included in the tariff schedule, and why did the mills ask for it? This protection was asked for because a number of cotton tweeds manufactured into patterns to resemble woollen tweeds were being made abroad, imported into this country, and sold in competition with the woollen tweeds that were made by the mills already established in Australia. In order to protect our mills a duty was imposed upon that class of cotton tweeds. That was primarily the object of the item. Within three weeks of the tabling of the schedule, however, Messrs. Foy and Gibson, I think it was, placed in the hands of the Minister samples of cotton tweeds that had been made here. I confess that I was astonished. I wondered how that firm could obtain the machinery to do this work. I know something about woollen mills, because, being interested as I have been for many years in Australian industries, I have visited a number of woollen mills, and seen them at work. I immediately inquired into this matter, and found that the looms set up in the woollen mills required only a few adaptations to allow of their conversion to the manufacture of cotton tweeds. The manufacturers should know what they are talking about. They have learnt their business in Great Britain, which is the best school of manufacture in the world. .They came here to establish industries, and they taught Australians new trades. They now say that, given the market, it is just as easy, or easier, to manufacture cotton tweed with these looms as it is to manufacture woollen tweeds. That is how the industry came to be established here. The question now arises whether this new industry can manufacture, and sell at a reasonable price, as good an article as we import. Great sympathy has been expressed by the freetraders in this Parliament for the working man respecting the high prices that he pays for his requirements, but they are not so sympathetic with him when he appeals to the Arbitration Court for a living wage. They profess sympathy for the working class only when they wish to allow the importers to dump their goods here, thus keeping Australian workmen out of a job.
– The working men are not objecting to this tariff.
– I have heard no complaints from them, and I represent as many workers as any other honorable member. The working man is prepared to pay a little more for the article that he buys when he knows that by so doing his sons and mates around him will be kept in employment. What the workers dread more than anything else is unemployment. They are sensible enough to know that the people of this country can completely control the manufacturers here, but not the manufacturers abroad. The honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) described this tariff item as a farce, which is a wild, thoughtless term to apply to a very serious and important proposition. I repeat again that the result of this item has been wonderful. It has established a new industry in which hundreds of workers will be employed. The honorable member for Perth said that this industry could not be successfully established because of the difficulty of obtaining raw material and skilled artisans. What is the use of the honorable member theorizing on this matter in face of the facts that confront us to-day? Six months ago that argument would have carried weight in this Parliament. But since that time we have passed from speculations to actualities. We have visited mills where these tweeds are on the looms, and Australian workers are turning out the material which has been exhibited to the committee to-day. Honorable members have seen the quality of the product, and have been told the price at which it is being sold, and the guarantees that are offered in regard to delivery. These are facts that can be verified by investigation. One of the most remarkable developments in connexion with this controversy is the fact that during the last few weeks the British manufacturers, who had sent to honorable members data that would not. stand investigation, have climbed down and practically accented the principle of taxing cotton tweeds.
– Hear, hear !
– They realized that their position was untenable, and in order to cover their retreat have said that as the requisite quantities cannot be supplied by local mills the duty should be deferred. As the Minister pointed out, it is not necessary to do that, because as soon as this duty is confirmed wheels will be whirling and employees will be operating looms in at least eight mills. In one mill I visited during the week, 40 automatic looms such as are required for the weaving of cotton tweeds are idle. But orders are awaiting fulfilment, provided that the proposed duties are imposed. The only thing lacking is the raw materia:!, which can be obtained within a few weeks. One honorable member asked why, if the local mills can turn out quantities of this tweed, they are not already doing it. The answer is that they are producing, not in the quantities which the country requires, but sufficient to meet the demand pending the removal of the present uncertainty due to the incompleteness of the tariff.
– They are not executing fixed orders.
– I join issue with the honorable member in regard to that statement. If clothing factories require cotton tweed that is not cheaper than the Japanese article they can get it.
– They cannot.
– They can. There are larger stocks of imported cotton tweeds in the warehouses to-day than ever before. The honorable member for Angas (Mr. Parsons) said that factories were closing down, and that men were being turned out of work because the requisite quantities of material cannot be obtained. That statement was repeated by the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann). “When this schedule was tabled, it came as a thunderclap to the importing interests, and they pleaded for delay. The Tariff Board and the Minister were in a difficult position. I do not pretend to have inside knowledge of their actions or reasons, but I shall relate my understanding of what happened. The duty was imposed in September, but was deferred until the end of the year in order to enable firm orders that had been been placed abroad to be executed. Therein, I think, the Minister made a mistake: Any extension of time should have covered only shipments on the water, so that the importers would have no opportunity to take undue advantage of a generous action. , But the Minister, realizing that this industry was not established, and that cotton tweeds were not being turned out in sufficient quantities to supply the market, and not desiring to impose the duty merely for revenue purposes, allowed all fixed orders to be cleared free of duty. I am firmly convinced that some importers took an improper advantage of that concession; they pretended to have firm orders which they had not. The importations in December, 1924, were valued at £19,900, and in the corresponding month of 1925 at £64,600. That increase was startling and significant.
– Is the honorable member aware that firm orders are placed for delivery months ahead?
– I. am aware of a number of methods employed in business, and I am giving to the committee hard facts. For the quarter ended December, 1925, the importations totalled £111,000, as compared with £67,000 for the quarter ended December, 1924. Those figures prove that the importers took an undue advantage of a concession, and swelled their imports. In the light of those figures I refuse to believe that there is any shortage of cotton tweeds in Australia. Can this article be made in Australia ? The manufacturers are organized from end to end of the Continent, and, through their representative bodies, they have ascertained the capacity of all the mills, beyond their present output. As the Minister stated this afternoon, the textile industry was in a bad way. The worst indictment of the Government’s fiscal policy is that for three years no steps were taken to protect this and many other industries. The inquiry by the Associated Chamber of Manufactures resulted in certain guarantees, promises, and undertakings. The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann) may sneer at them; they may not all materialize, but we must give some credence to written undertakings sent to this Parliament. At any rate, if they are not fulfilled, we have our remedy. The Sydney Woollen Mills Limited (J. Vicars and Company) offer to turn out 1,000,000 yards per annum: George Bond and Company, 500,000 yards; Tweedside Manufacturing Company, Abbotsford, 400,000 yards: Foy and Gibson, 100,000 yards; Federal Woollen Mills, Geelong, 250,000 yards; Geelong Returned Soldiers and Sailors’ Woollen Mills, 50,000 yards; Airedale Mills, 50,000 yards; and the Ballarat Woollen and Worsted Company, 25,000 yards. Those undertakings practically cover the whole of the requirements of Australia.
– And they are only eight out of 52 mills in Australia.
– The Airedale mills are comparatively small, but the company controlling them is now seeking a site for a new mill that will produce cotton tweeds. One wonderful effect of this duty is that it has given birth to at least high hopes of a new industry. I have never previously known a tariff to produce such a remarkable response in so short a time. Of all the items in the tariff on which the freetraders might base their attack, that relating to cotton goods is the worst. The next question that arises is the price at which the cotton tweeds can be produced. Is the working man to be penalized by higher prices? Tweed has been produced and sold at prices ranging from ls. 9d. to 2s. 9d. per yard of 28-in. material. The average price of the English article is 3s. Sd. a yard of 54-inch. It is true that the Japanese were sending to us stuff that was cheaper than the British article, and British manufacturers were being driven out of the market. In another year there would have been no British cotton tweeds on sale in Australia; and, but for this duty, the Japanese, with whom the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Parsons) professes to have no sympathy, would have acquired the whole of the trade. The average price of the British material was 3s. 8d. per yard.
– What about the quality ?
– I had not intended to refer to the honorable member’s unpatriotic exhibition this afternoon; it was effectively dealt with by the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini). We had the spectacle of a representative of the Australian people misrepresenting facts to the serious detriment of an Australian product. The honorable member tore the Australian article across the weft and deliberately turned the English article so as to attempt to tear it across the warp.
– On a point of order, I object to the suggestion that I deliberately misled the committee.
– That is not a point of order. If the honorable member has been misrepresented, he may make a personal explanation later.
– I need not pursue the incident further; the committee saw what the honorable member did. The honorable member for Angas held up to derision an article manufactured in Australia by Australian workmen, and glorified in the fact that, in his opinion, it was rotten. He held the article up to scorn, and to the detriment of his own country. The honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini), however, produced a pair of English cotton-tweed trousers, but the difference between the honorable member for Angas and the honorable member for Werriwa was that the honorable member for Werriwa, although advocating the use of the Australian article, was manly and honest enough to say that although he could tear the English tweed, it did not prove that it was not of good quality. He challenged the honorable member for Angas to bring to him a sample of English cotton tweed, which he said he could tear as readily as the honorable member for Angas had torn that of Australian manufacture. What was the response of the honorable member for Angas, who was defending the British article? He gathered up his stuff and ran away. The incident is not worthy of further comment. I have before me a statement circulated by the representatives of British manufacturers, who are endeavouring to show that the working men of Australia, because of this duty, will have to pay a high price for their trousers. It is not easy to compare articles that are not alike, but I shall give their illustration of the comparative cost of trousers manufactured in Great Britain and in Australia from engineers’ twist. ‘ The price of imported engineers’ twist is given at 4s. 4d. per yard.
– What is the weight?
– The circular does not give the weight. The honorable member for Angas may laugh, but this afternoon he was extolling the British manufacturers, and this is their circular. The price of imported engineers’ twist is given as 4s. 4d. per yard.
– What is the weight?
– I have already informed the honorable member that the report of the British manufacturers has declined to give the weight. Under the schedule the material must weigh over 6 oz. a square yard, otherwise it would come in duty free. The cost of the imported material used in making a pair of trousers, namely, 15-16ths yards, is given as 5s. 81/4d., the cost of making 2s. 6d.. and the wholesale and retail profit, 5s. 6d., making the total cost of trousers made of British engineers’ twist, 13s. 9d. They then ask what it will cost to produce a similar article under the new tariff. Taking the price of engineers’ twist, plus the duty, at 7s. 7d., it gives, as the cost of material in a pair of trousers, 10s., to which they add the cost of making, 2s. 63/4d., the same as in the other case; but when they come to add the profit they build up on a percentage basis.
– They always do that.
– It does not followthat they always ought to do it because it does not cost more to sell a pair of trousers at 10s. than to sell a pair at 15s. The profit in one case is 5s. 6d., and in the other, where they build up the cost of the protected article, it is 8s. 4d., and the cost of the completed article 20s.11d. The main thing that is inaccurate is the basis upon which they have worked. They start on the wrong basis by saying, on pure assumption, that the article to be manufactured in Australia will cost exactly the same as the imported article plus the duty. In this circular it is not assumed that anything required in the manufacture of this article can be made in Australia. Allowance is made for importing the commodity at 4s. 4d. a yard, and after adding the duty and allowing for profit it is shown that the Australian article, will cost 20s.11d. as against 13s. 9d.
– From what is the honorable member quoting?
– From the British manufacturers’ report.
– I did not quote that.
– No, but I am doing so. The honorable member dealt for some time with the case of the British manufacturers, and, as a matter of fact, it appeared that he was holding a brief for the importers and their representatives in Australia. The honorable member for Angas submitted what he considered inferior samples of Australian production, but he was not game enough to allow the honorable member for Werriwa to ‘put ‘ the English article to the same test. The assumption . of the British manufacturers is that we shall have to import the material at 4s. 4d. per yard, and, after adding the duty, be compelled to charge 20s.11d. for trousers of Australian manufacture. That is the theory, but what are the facts? Engineers’ twist is being made in Australia for 4s. 4d. a yard.
– Of the same weight?
– Yes, the same article, and I challenge the honorable member for Angas to disprove it. Samples are available from which the weights can ‘be checked. Some of the weights of Australian material are higher, I believe, than those of the English material. Engineers’ twist is being manufactured in Australia at 4s. 4d. per yard, which is exactly the same price as is charged for the imported material.
– Then why impose such a heavy duty?
– That is a fair question, and one which should be answered. In the first place, a good Australian would say that if we can manufacture an article as good and as cheap as the imported, there should be no question as to the imposition of a duty. The mere fact that a duty was necessary to assist an industry at the beginning ought to be sufficient for a good Australian. I have said before that the result of this item has been wonderful, because it has been the means already of establishing this industry. In this instance it has been shown that prior to the duty cotton tweed was not being manufactured, but looms here for the manufacture of woollen goods, many of which were idle owing to the absence of orders, are now being used for the manufacture of this material. As soon as a prohibitive duty, which I admit this is, was imposed, a new industry was established and a market guaranteed for our manufacturers. What is the use of some honorable members opposite trying to get away from the facts by belittling our production ? We are not being penalized because we are establishing a new industry in Australia. The article produced is not any dearer, and goods are being manufactured at the imported cost. I confess that when this tariff schedule was first submitted, keen as I am for protection, I felt that a strong case would have to be made out to justify heavy duties on this article, and if this debate had taken place some months ago I should not have felt as strongly as I am to-day in supporting the item. The honorable member for Angas displayed so many samples to-day that I am almost afraid to submit further specimens ; but I invite the honorable member, or any other honorable member, to examine the pair of trousers on the table, which are 100 . per cent. Australian, as they consist of cotton grown in Australia, Australian linings, and Australian-made tweed, the wholesale, price of which is 8s. 2d. I submit that no one can produce anything made in Great Britain or elsewhere which can favorably compare with them. The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann) made some comments, the exact meaning of which I was unable to follow ; but he seemed to be in a quandary as to the manner in which tweeds of 6 oz. and under would be dutiable under this tariff. I answered the honorable member by saying that under item a the rates are: Free, British; 5 per cent, intermediate; and 15 per cent, general. During the dinner adjournment the honorable member for Perth apparently saw the point, and adopted another form of attackLBV referring to- shoddy material; but the honorable member for Werriwa explained that it would be impossible to gather up sufficient waste material and floor sweepings in Australia to produce shoddy stuff. The manufacture of shoddy is a trade in the Old Country. It is handled by persons who purchase old rags and floor sweepings for manufacturing into cheap material ; but such a business is not conducted in Australia, and I trust it never will be. The honorable member for Perth said that if we admit material under 6 oz. free of duty, shoddy goods will be imported; and in saying so the honorable member, with all his pretence of knowledge of this subject, merely disclosed his ignorance. If material is light it does not necessarily mean that it is shoddy. Heavy material may be shoddy, and, on the other hand, light material may be of excellent quality. -A duty is not imposed on light material because Australian manufacturers are not yet in a position to undertake its manufacture. Probably within the next decade, when new tariffs have been introduced, that is an industry that will be established.
– In less time than that, I hope.
– Yes, but we have to proceed step by step. In order to be fair to the people in Australia, and to the manufacturers in Great Britain, the Government is not imposing a duty on light cotton goods, which at present are to be admitted from Britain free. The next argument adduced by the honorable member for Perth was of the most amusing character. He complained most bitterly that there was a British preference of only 15 per cent. He wanted a higher duty apparently on cotton tweeds from other countries. What kind of a freetrader is the honorable member? Does he think that the British preference should be 50 instead of 15 per cent.? The honorable member then referred to the action of the Government in imposing this tariff, which he said was causing a lot of comment in Great Britain and was striking a blow at British manufacturers. He said that he had letters from British firms which were couched in such strong terms that he was afraid to read them because we would be shocked. If that is the kind of correspondence he has in his possession. I think he would be unwise to read it, because it is not likely to influence members of this Parliament.
I would not be shocked at any correspondence the honorable member could submit to me. The statements of the honorable member, however, prove that the work British manufacturers have been performing is now being undertaken by our own people. If they are concerned about having Australia as a customer, or wish to make clothing for the Australian workmen, let them come and erect their plant here, employ Australian workmen, and build up the industry in this country. I shall not follow the honorable member’s technicalities any further. The only argument that appeals to me is that the imposition of this tariff will lead . to the establishment of the cotton tweed industry in Australia. It will turn the wheels of industry, here, and provide work for the unemployed. I confess that I view with alarm the coming winter. I have never known so many men to be unemployed in March, of any year, as are unemployed this month. They come. to my door day after day and ask me whether I can find them employment. If this tariff will help us to build up one or two new industries in Australia, or extend two or three existing industries, which will absorb a number of our unemployed army, it will,’ inadequate as it is,’ and longdelayed as it has been, justify itself in the eyes of Australia.
.- There is scarcely an honorable member in this chamber who would not be glad to see new industries built up within Australia. It has been suggested, if not actually declared during this debate, that some of our mills are not working at full time, or producing anything like their capacity output, but I know that the reverse is the case. It is of little use for any honorable member to try to bluff the country into thinking that any of us are opposed to the development of our secondary industries. The reason that I objected, in the course of the general debate on the tariff schedule, to the imposition of a high duty on cotton tweeds was thatI do not think that the industry can be established in Australia on an economic basis. I certainly object to the statement that it is already established here. As a matter of fact, there was no suggestion that it should or could be established here until the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten) was interviewed in Sydney by the two gentlemen referred to by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin). I do not deny that it would be possible,- and perhaps quite easy, for some of our Australian mills to undertake successfully the manufacture of cotton tweeds.
– At a price !
– Precisely. A few nights ago I referred to the magnificent exhibition recently held in Melbourne under the auspices of the Australian Natives Association. I observed then that it provided wonderful evidence of the development of our secondary industries. I have .no doubt that Foy and Gibson Limited would at once undertake the manufacture of cotton tweed if it could be done profitably ; but it could only be done with the assistance of an extortionate duty. The Minister for Trade and Customs has practically admitted that the proposed duty is prohibitive, and that he likes it for that reason.
– That is the way to talk.
– I know that it is the way the present-day Labour party talks, but it is not the way to build up Australian industries. If this duty is agreed to, it will be an imposition upon the working man of Australia.
– A lot the honorable member worries about the working man of Australia !
– I confess I do not worry a bit about “weary Willies.” I let them worry for themselves. But I am telling the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) the solid, wholesome truth. The consuming public of Australia is about the last section of the people to receive consideration nowadays.
– That is a reflection upon the Government.
– Whether it is or not, it is a fact. The honorable member for Yarra observed, in the course of his speech, that the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann) had made the statement that the introduction of the tariff in September last year was something like a political trick for election purposes. If it was so, the trick was effective only within a radius of 10 or 15 miles of the Genera] Post Offices in the capital cities. It was a rotten trick to play on the country people in every State. Next to the supreme issue of the recent elections, the people in my constituency were con cerned about the proposal to impose this heavy duty on cotton tweed. The workers were disturbed about it; but their wives, more so. I submit that there is no reason whatever to justify this practical prohibition on the importation of cotton tweeds manufactured abroad.
– I said that it was a prohibition in some directions.
– The Minister will find that the prohibition extends a good deal farther than he imagines. With” that cocksureness that characterizes all his remarks on tariff matters, the Minister suggests, and so does the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin), that the imposition of this duty will enable us to manufacture our own raw material in Australia, just as the duty on woollens enables us to manufacture our own wool here. But the fact is the reverse of that. We shall have to import every atom of raw material that is used in the manufacture of cotton tweeds in Australia.
– Oh, no; we have a garment here this evening which is made of Australian-grown cotton.
– One would think that this duty would stimulate cotton-growing in Queensland and elsewhere.
– And so it will.
– It cannot have the slightest effect in that way, at least for some time to come. As a matter of fact we shall never be able to manufacture much cotton tweed from cotton grown in Queensland, for it will be too superior in quality.
– We shall be able to absorb our own second grade and ratoon cotton.
– It will be a long while before we shall have much to use. We shall have to import weavers as well as raw material before we can make cotton tweed here.
– We have weavers here now who are out of work.
– Very few of them; and they know nothing much about cotton-tweed manufacture. I suggest to the Minister for Trade and Customs that the farthest we should go in this matter is to make this a deferred duty. Even if the happiest prognostications of the most optimistic honorable members are realized, there can be no reason for imposing this duty for at least six months; and probably for a good deal longer than that. I consider that the statement of the Minister for Trade and Customs that this is practically a prohibitive duty, and that he likes it for that reason, is an aggravated affront to the British nation. We ought to remember that, relatively recently, we entered into a reciprocal treaty with the Old Country. That treaty contains within it the possibility of much good to Australia. When we recall what the Mother Country has done for us, and not only us, but also for other countries that pulled through the Great War, any man who is prepared to treat her in this way deserves to have the stamp of ingratitude branded on him for ever. The ink is hardly dry on the treaty she extended to us. The British cotton tweed that is being imported to-day is entirely British.
– It is made from imported yarn.
– To meet the provisions of the Customs regulations the invoices of goods on the wate’r and’ in Australia state, “ This is 100 per cent. British.”
– How can that be the case when no cotton is ‘ grown in Great Britain?
– Much of this cotton tweed is produced from shreds and tatters; it is not. produced always, if at all, from ordinary cotton, which is too valuable for that purpose. At all events, I can give honorable members my assurance that every invoice from Great Britain for these goods has at the foot of it the declaration I have quoted.
– Does the declaration cover the raw material ?
– Yes, everything- “ 100 per cent. British.” Whatever the tweed is made of, nothing is imported. It has been freely stated that the tweed produced in Australia is equal to that produced in Great Britain. Persons who say that know nothing about the facts.
– Is not the honorable member a good Britisher? If so, why does he speak like that?
– It is because I am a good Britisher that I never forget Britain, and by not ‘ forgetting her I am rendering better service to Australia. Another fallacy is that this cotton tweed is displacing Australian woollens. No more stupid statement was ever made. It can only affect Australian shoddy. Possibly it does do that, but to say that in the broad sense it displaces woollens is simply nonsensical. Its effect in displac ing shoddy is to the infinite good of the working man. There would be nothing left of a shoddy suit after a man had worked in it for a week; but the British material is properly named “ untearable.” I protest very definitely and earnestly that it is next door to a scandal for the Minister to rejoice over a duty against Great Britain which he says is “ practically prohibitive.” It will place a heavy penalty on every working man. Even if, in the future, the working man can obtain an article of equal quality, he will have to pay double the price. I wish honorable members had a little more pride in their country.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear !
– All those “Hear, hears “ mean is that the 100 per cent, will soon appear as an argument in the Arbitration Court. If Australians had a little more confidence in themselves, and a little more real British courage, they would, instead of shouting “ Australia for the Australians,” make a success of this and many other industries. That, however, will never happen until we demand efficiency. Why do Foy and Gibson’s and Myers’, in Melbourne, the Tweedvale mills, in South Australia, and a dozen other mills in Geelong, rely on efficiency? They are not crying out for more duty.
– Foy and Gibson take all the Australian cotton tweeds’ they can obtain.
– And they do not ask for more duties. They said that they could do without a duty, and so they could. It is about time we got down to an economic basis, and refused to impose duties for the support of industries that are limping like three-legged dogs. When an industry is on an economic basis, I am prepared to support it as enthusiastically as any member of the committee.
.- If the people of Australia had the same feelings about Australian industries as the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster), there would be no secondary industries in Australia, because every time an effort was made to start a new industry, they would wail about the blow at the Mother Country. The proposal is to manufacture goods in Australia instead of sending raw material abroad to keep thousands of workpeople employed in other countries that should be employed here. The truly patriotic Australian tries to provide for manufacturing our requirements in our own country, thus giving employment to hundreds of thousands of additional people, and creating a wellbalanced, self-reliant community, and a permanent local market for the primary producers, who are so consistently misrepresented by honorable members in the Ministerial corner. One would think, to hear the honorable member for Wakefield, that the item we are discussing would rob Great Britain. But what are the facts ? It will rob not Great Britain, but Japan of £139,000 of trade per annum. That trade is constantly increasing. Great Britain supplies us with only £63,000 worth of cotton tweeds per annum, and that amount is constantly decreasing. Japan is rapidly capturing this market.
– The imports from Great Britain have increased this year.
– That is not so, as the honorable member will find if he consults the statistics. From the United States of America we imported £20,000 worth; from Belgium, £20,000; from Italy, £9,000 worth; and from other countries, £568 worth, making a total of oyer £250,000 worth. Yet the honorable member for Wakefield tried to lead us to believe that the dear old Mother Country was being given a cowardly blow by being robbed of £63,000 worth of trade. The British Chamber of Manufactures stated the case for the English manufacturers correctly when it said that all the manufacturers asked for was that the duty should be deferred until Australia could manufacture the goods.. The answer was given eloquently by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin), who pointed out that Australia can now manufacture all . her requirements of cotton tweeds. The Minister has also given that assurance. There was a very good reason why the expensive machinery necessary in this industry was not previously installed. The Australian companies had some doubt whether the tariff schedule would be passed. They were afraid of the freetrade element that sits behind the
Government, for they did not know how strong it was. They had heard a lot about freetrade propaganda, and had been told that the freetraders had a weakening influence on the protectionist policy of the Government. If these freetrade members controlled affairs, every secondary industry would be slowly and surely strangled. Large manufacturing firms have given a guarantee to the Department for Trade and Customs to manufacture the following quantities of cotton tweeds per annum : -
The Airedale Weaving Mills propose to install plant and equipment capable of turning out 1,000,000 yards per annum if this item is passed. A certain quantity will be supplied also by J. Aitken & Sons Ltd., Hobart. It will thus be seen that the Australian manufacturers will shortly be in a position to meet the whole of the local demand. It is but natural that there should be for a time a slight dislocation in the trade. Honorable members should afford the necessary measure of protection to those who are prepared to embark upon an expenditure to establish new industries, and thus give employment to Australian workmen. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) would lead us to believe that the withdrawal of this trade from British factories will cripple them. He is obsessed with that idea. Australia to-day imports nearly £11,000,000 worth of cotton piece goods, and we propose to give to our own manufacturers only £300,000 worth of that trade, of which the bulk is now held by Japan and other countries. Being a new industry the manufacturers of cotton tweeds in Australia will have to overcome difficulties in the initial stages. The fact that they are prepared to give guarantees that they will supply the local demand within six months of the imposition of the duty is an evidence of their bona fides. Complaint has been made that in Queensland and other distant States difficulty is experienced in obtaining supplies. It is the duty of the Government to investigate those complaints. The Minister (Mr. Pratten) has given us the assurance that when the schedule is passed there will be no shortage in the supply. That is sufficient for me. Some honorable members have stated that the average price of British cotton tweeds imported into Australia in 1925 was 3s. 8d. a yard for material 54 inches wide. The statement that the working men will have to pay a greater amount for the local product is discounted by £he fact that Australian “tweeds are manufactured at 3s. 6d. a yard for material 56 inches wide. Engineers’ twist, which cost 4s. 4d. per yard before a duty was placed on cotton) tweeds, is now made in Australia at the same price. Given the necessary encouragement, our manufacturers will install machinery that will cope with every demand. Some of the British manufacturers complained that they lost the cotton ‘ tweed trade of Australia when the duties were imposed, despite the fact that they had installed at considerable cost plant and equipment that would have considerably developed that trade. The Australian woollen mills did not get any sympathy when their trade was ruined by the huge quantities of woollen piece goods, sox and stockings that were imported from Great Britain. The figures relating to imports illustrate the gradual decline in the imports of British cotton tweeds. They are as follow: -
I speak as the representative of a district that grows more raw cotton than any other electoral division in Australia. No other industry is likely to bring about greater development. We have the climate and everything else that is necessary to develop the industry from the base to the top. It has been proved that cotton grown in Queensland is equal to any in the world. As a matter of fact, Queensland raw cotton brings a higher average price than American middling cotton. The average consumption per head per annum in America is 26 lb. We can assume that the average consumption per head per annum in Australia is 20 lb., which in the aggregate amounts to 120,000,000 lb.- seven times the production in Australia. If we could overtake the demand and utilize our own raw cotton in our cotton spinning and weaving mills, an additional £3,000,000 would be distributed amongst cottongrowers in Australia. Surely it is a laudable ambition for any country to strive to supply all the necessary raw materials for her cotton-spinning and weaving mills, and to turn out all her requirements in manufactured goods. Queensland has led the way in the encouragement of the production of the raw material, thanks to the encouragement that was given in the first instance by the Queensland Government, and latterly by the Commonwealth Government. I hope that a bounty of 2d. per lb. on raw cotton produced will be given for a period of at least five years. That would give such an impetus to the industry that within the next three years Australia would produce the quantity of raw cotton necessary for the manufacture of ;her own requirements.
– Does the honorable member advocate a bounty in addition to the tariff?
– The honorable member knows that I support a bounty on’ raw cotton for a period of five years in order to place the industry on a sound footing. The guaranteeing of a certain price has enabled the industry to make wonderful progress, but a bounty also is necessary, and the Tariff Board is now considering that matter. England in 1924 paid out to other countries approximately £120,000,000 for raw cotton. In 1923 her expenditure in that direction amounted to £91,188,745- and in 1922 to £85,500,000. Her chief suppliers in 1924 were: “United States of America, £48,000,000; Egypt, £26,000,000.; Peru, £5,283,000; British India, £5,565,000; Brazil, £1,289,000: Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, £954,000; ‘ Kenya Colony, £473,000; Nigeria, £442,000; Uganda, £65,000; British West Indies, £251,000; and Australia, £275,000. It would be a grand thing for the cotton-growing industry of Australia if our factories turned out the finished article from locally-grown raw cotton. Geo. A. Bond and Company - the big Sydney manufacturers) - have in Central Queensland their own plantations, comprising hundreds of acres, upon which they grow raw cotton. They ship that cotton to Sydney, and use it in their factories. I desire a market to be established in Australia for the Australian cotton-grower. Such a market would enable him to secure a higher price than he now secures on the other side of the world in competition with cotton grown in black-labour countries such as Egypt, Nigeria, and Africa. We should support this item in the tariff schedule, as it will increase the demand for our raw cotton. We should treat this as an industry possessing far-reaching influences, the ramifications of which will bring benefit to not only the city worker, but also those who are engaged in primary production. There has been a steady increase in the growth of Taw cotton, because of the encouragement that has been given to it. That is proved by the following figures relating to the production in Queensland, and its value: -
Those figures show that since encouragement has been given to the industry it has produced over 50,000,000 lb. of raw cotton, valued at- over £1,000,000. If the secondary industries, such as those controlled by Bond and Company and the Marrickville Company, obtained all their raw material in Australia, we should have a market for the raw product without having to pay overseas shipping and other freight charges, and our cotton-growers would receive approximately an additional sum of £3,000,000 a year. This would not only increase the prosperity already enjoyed by Sydney and other capital cities, but would also substantially benefit the man on the land. It would, in fact, be a good thing for Australia. This is a great national question. Only a limited number of Little Australian freetradersforeign traders, as they have been termed - are to be found raising their voices in opposition to a proposal to establish this great Australian industry.
– The honorable member who has just resumed his seat (Mr. Forde) ‘ has painted in exceedingly glowing colours a picture of the cotton-growing industry in Australia. It is, indeed, impossible to divorce consideration of the cottongrowing industry in Australia from its effect upon the general community through the tariff. The GovernorGeneral’s Speech at the opening of this Parliament contained this reference to the cotton industry -
It is proposed to terminate the present system of assisting the cotton industry by a guaranteed price, and in lieu thereof to stimulate the production of cotton by a bounty. The matter has been submitted to the Tariff Board for inquiry and report with a view to legislation being introduced.
I should prefer to make my remarks concerning the cotton industry when that measure is before us, but as this is the first instalment of the Government policy, I shall do so now, and be as brief as possible. Although I do not profess to be an expert on this subject, I believe that cotton as good as that produced in any other part of the world can be grown in Australia; but, as the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) remarked, it resolves itself into a question of cost. One has to consider the position of the world’s markets, and what is being done by other countries. As we all know, reremarkable progress in cotton production has been made in the Soudan and Egypt, where huge developmental schemes have been in progress since 1915. As to the Soudan, I may make the following quotation : -
The large developmental schemes started since 1919 for irrigation and cotton growing in the Gezira and at Kassala have not yet affected the export figures, as the schemes will not be completed till 1925. The increase in cotton exports will then be very great. Apart from these two large schemes, development is being carried out in many other districts. Thus the export of ginned cotton for 1923 was about 5,000 tons. For 1924 it should be at least 10,000 tons. As soon as the first instalment of the Gezira scheme comes into operation after 1925, it should increase to 25,000 tons, say, 135,000 bales of 400 lb., worth, at1s. per lb., £ 2,700,000; or, at 2s. per lb., £5,400,000.
A study of the history of cotton growing in Australia discloses an entirely different position from- that suggested by the honorable member for Capricornia. The first volume of the Australian Encyclopaedia, published recently, contains an interesting and informative article dealing with this industry. I invite honorable members to peruseit.
Unhappily it is a record of failure of one attempt after another to establish the industry upon a profitable basis in Australia. Let me quote a few instances mentioned in the article referred to -
Being quite ignorant of the methods of treatment the experiment was ended by hia untimely death; he (Hobert Dawson) was suspended from duty . . . and his plot disappeared with him. … he (Thompson) failed to make the industry profitable. . . . he (J. D. Lang) . . . received no support from the Colonial. Office or from the cotton manufacturers of Lancashire.
Throughout the fifties . . . many circumstances militated against the commercial success of the venture.
Honorable members will realize from this that the history of cotton-growing in Australia is somewhat different from the description of it by the honorable member for Capricornia. The article goes on to state -
Throughout the fifties . . . there was no local market. Transport costs were high. Other crops were believed to be more profitable. Suitable land was inaccessible to small farmers; labour was both scarce and expensive, and skilled labour, especially for picking, practically unobtainable; seed was badly selected; different varieties were grown in the one field and mixed in the same bale; there was an entire lack of ginning machinery, the saw-gin which was introduced, having destroyed the fibres of the more valuable cotton.
Some of these difficulties still exist today. The article also describes the attempts made by various Governments to establish the industry on a profitable basis, and states -
The Queensland legislature in 1888 tried to revive the industry by offering a bonus of £5,000 to the first person or company who manufactured cotton goods to the value of that sum from fibre grown in the colony. The Ipswich Cotton Company thereupon established a factory and produced the goods, cotton cultivation in the West Moreton district being greatly stimulated by its operations, but in 1897 the firm was obliged to close down owing to financial difficulties.
Throughout, the article emphasizes that the chief deterrent to more extensive cultivation was the high cost of picking, especially as the pickers were unskilled.
– The industry in the United States does not find labour costs a deterrent.
– It is not my intention to detain the committee for long, and I do not propose to be diverted by the honorable member for Capricornia from the point I am seeking to make. That the position of the cotton industry in Queensland has slightly improved, will be seen from this quotation from the same article -
The result of this fresh impetus is that the area under cotton in Queensland has increased from 72 acres in 1919 to about 35,000 acres in 1923, and the 1923-4 yield of unginned cotton was over 15,000,000 lb. The guarantee for 1924 was 5d. per lb.; for 1925 it took the form of a series of rates from 5Jd. down to 3£d., according to quality. None of these guarantees held good for ratoon cotton. In spite of the high price of cotton in the world’s markets, these guarantees involved the Queensland Government in serious loss, amounting in the two years, 1922-3, to nearly £65,000; the Commonwealth shares part of this loss.
The article from which I have just quoted was, I have no doubt, written by an Australian, or at least by some one who had made a careful study of cottongrowing in Australia. His story is told in plain language, and without criticism, and, as I have stated, it describes a succession of losses in varying degree from the commencement of cotton-growing under Governor Phillip down to the present time. In the circumstances we are justified in asking if there is a reasonable prospect of the industry being established on a commercial basis in Australia.
– My point is that if the tariff gives protection in the local market the Australian cotton-growers will not have to meet the transport charges on the raw material to the other side of the world.
– I am glad that my remarks on this subject have interested the honorable member for Capricornia, but I do not intend to be diverted from my point. Some honorable members have suggested that cottongrowing is in the same position as wool production. It is, of course, conceivable that some day it may be. I know that certain honorable gentlemen believe that it will be, but I have no such belief. In my view, profitable cottongrowing in Australia will be impossible, for the simple reason that we shall have to compete in the markets of the world with similar produce grown in other countries by cheap coloured labour. Any attempt to stimulate the industry by a bonus on the one hand and high tariff protection on the other, can only result in increased direct and indirect taxation on the general community. We shall, in fact, be repeating our experience with sugar, but in a more acute form. Cotton will be given a bounty to commence with, and before very long that bounty will, no doubt, have to be increased. Then the cry of “White Australia” will be raised by those who are interested in the industry, and we shall have to decide whether we are going to continue with our cotton, grown by our own labour, or whether we are going to obtain cotton grown by black labour outside. I have no desire to open up a general discussion on this subject, but I must say that, in my opinion, the proposed new tariff impost will react harshly upon a very large section of the general community. It may be that in one or two States that may not apply, but I think it will apply to South Australia, and to a great part of the Commonwealth. There will be a great increase in the cost of cotton garments, and cotton underwear. I have here a letter written to me, some months ago, by some very reputable merchants of Adelaide, which says -
On account of its strength and hard-wearing qualities, cotton tweed is used almost universally in the manufacture of clothing for the working classes, and if the present proposed duty is insisted on the worker will find himself in the position of having to pay approximately double the amount for his clothing; for example, a pair of men’s working trousers, which under the old tariff were retailed at 7s. 6d., will now cost him at least 15s.
It goes on to point out that so far as underwear is concerned, the working classes will have to pay treble for the low to medium grade of goods imported in the past for their use, and as this class of goods cannot be produced in Australia, except at approximately treble the cost, the hardship to the worker is manifest. He deals briefly with towels and towelling, and, speaking generally, he says -
In generally reviewing these facts, we must ask you to take into consideration one very potent fact, and that is that the working classes are most seriously affected, and the increases they will be called upon to pay must, speaking generally, cause considerable hardship to the community, and if the proposed tariff on cotton tweed and underwear is adhered to it will mean that the importation of these goods is absolutely prohibited.
On the one side we have this greatlyincreased cost, not only to the working man, but also to the poor man. I must here say that I rather resented the laughter which was excited when the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) spoke, of the working man. The honorable member has as much right to speak for the working men in his constituency as I have to speak for those in mine. I see no reason whatever why the working man, the poorer man, or even the man of moderate means should be forced to pay an additional price for the cotton garments he requires, unless there is some corresponding advantage to be derived, not now, but in the future, by assisting the cotton industry in this double way.
– The honorable member did not speak in the interests of the working man when he opposed the increase of old-age and invalid pensions from 17s. 6d. to £1 per week.
– When I address the committee it is to give the views I really hold, and not for the purpose of exciting prejudice. I have always clearly stated my views on the question of old-age pensions, as the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde) must agree.
– They are against the interests of the working man.
– To bring that matter up in the consideration of the question of what is to be done for the cotton industry, is to attempt to excite prejudice, and indicates that the honorable member must feel that he has a very poor case. I can see no compensating advantage in the future for the additional prices which the majority of the people will have to pay for cotton goods. Very few people ever appear to think of the consumer. I have been surprised that some honorable members have not risen to say a word for him. Surely he has rights as well as the manufacturer and the primary producer. I repeat that I can see no corresponding advantage for the additional cost which the consumer will have to pay for cotton goods, and generally I agree substantially with what the honorable member for Wakefield had to say on that subject.
.- I feel impelled to say a word or two on this question because of the loquacity of South Australian representatives on the other side, and the views to which they have given utterance in the interests, from their point of view, of the working man.
– The community generally.
– The honorable member made special mention of the working man, and I respectfully suggest that, in this matter, he must be regarded in the main, as “ the community.” I feel that perhaps I am better qualified to speak on behalf of the working man than is either of the three South Australian representatives - the honorable members for Angas, Wakefield, and Boothby (Messrs. Parsons, Foster, and Duncan-Hughes) - who have addressed themselves to this question. The workers of South Australia do not desire to obtain a cheap product at the expense of an industry that has already been established in this country, and is a very valuable adjunct to our secondary industries. I am sure that the workers recognize the value of the product of this particular industry. I was present in the chamber this afternoon when the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Parsons) was speaking, and I was somewhat amused by his spectacular demonstration of the effect upon certain materials of a test which he applied to them. The honorable member’s test was far from convincing. When he was challenged to apply the same test to certain English tweeds he was not prepared to do so. Unless those who advance the results of those tests as arguments against the Australian product are prepared to apply the same tests to the imported product honorable members are not likely to be convinced by their demonstrations. Those who do support the Australian cotton tweed industry invite those who place so much dependence upon such tests to bring them any kind of imported material they please,and give them the opportunity of putting that- material to the test. If the imported materials are supplied we undertake, by the application to them of the same test, to produce the same results as were produced by its application to the Australian product. That challenge is not accepted. Honorable members opposite are not prepared to prove their bona fides, and we are therefore justified in discounting many of the utterances to which they have given expression.
– They are only confidence men.
– I am in a particularly generous mood to-night, otherwise I might say something more severe than that- about them. The great body of workers in the electoral division of Hindmarsh, which is the greatest industrial district in South Australia, are prepared to extend the protection which has built up that great industrial constituency to the Australian cotton tweed industry, which they regard as of great value in helping to make Australia self-contained. The honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Duncan-Hughes) quoted a letter from, I understand, a committee of the Chamber of Commerce.
– A warehousemen’s association.
– It seems to have occurred to these people that this is a wonderful opportunity for the publication of propaganda justifying an increase in their prices. They think they can make the working man believe that this Parliament will have been responsible for the increased cost of the goods upon which tariff duties are imposed, and that that will relieve them from the charge of profiteering. This affords a wonderful cover for warehousemen- to make an attack on the worker and his pocket by imposing additional duties that will bring added profits to them.
– Does the honorable member make that charge against a reputable firm?
– If the honorable member has any doubt about what I am saying, let him read the report of the Interstate Commission dealing with clothing and textiles. He will then be thoroughly convinced as I am that warehousemen are prepared to make use of any form of cover to increase prices. The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) this afternoon ably dealt with the tariff from a truly Australian stand-point. I wish to take to task the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) who, to-night, made an impassioned protest against what he described as the grave injury and great injustice that this tariff inflicted upon British interests. He seems to think that we are under some form of everlasting obligation to great Britain in these matters. I resent such a statement, as a young Australian who has always been prepared to accept his share of citizenship in this country. For every form of assistance of accommodation given by the financial and commercial interests of Great Britain in order to develop this country, they have exacted the full price and the last coin. We have met our obligations by hard toil. We have been untiring in our efforts to develop our primary and secondary industries in order to meet our everincreasing interest bill. Rather than pose as paupers and mendicants to financial interests abroad, we, as members of this national Parliament, should be proud of the fact that we have done our duty, and paid in full our obligations to Great Britain and other nations. We have been loyal in our allegiance to the British Crown, loyal in our trade relations, and I resent very much the constant cry in this House that we are under certain trade obligations to Great Britain, whose own manufacturers are not even prepared to deal fairly with their own people. The British manufacturers are looking to this country to help them in their difficulties. They import goods from cheap labour countries, and then ask us to give them a preferential tariff on those goods. Until the British manufacturers put their own house in order by showing that they are prepared to assist in relieving the conditions of their own people, we are under no obligation to assist them. When they show by definite action that they are endeavouring to promote British interests within the United Kingdom itself, and to relieve unemployment, it will then be time for us to protect their interests in this country. I wholeheartedly support this tariff item, feeling sure that it has the approval of the great majority of the people.
– I find myself in considerable difficulty respecting this item. I stand for the development and encouragement of secondary industries in Australia, but I also accept the full responsibility of my position as a member of this Parliament, even though I may be called “ the accidental member for Kennedy.” I feel that I have not had sufficient information to’ enable me to support this item. I have examined the Tariff Board’s report respecting woollen piece goods, but have been unable to obtain the evidence in support of the board’s recommendation. I understand that the minutes of the evidence are not in print. From the report I notice peculiarly enough that this item is supported by three woollen manufacturers - a Mr. John Thomas Andrew Beenie, who may or may not be a woollen manufacturer, a warehouseman, and a collarmaker. According to the report the applicants for this item state : -
– The bulk of the evidence in favour of this item has accumulated since the tariff schedule was placed on the table of this House.
– I have not yet obtained enough information to enable me to make up by mind on this item. In opposition to the application the Tariff Board was told -
My general information is that that statement is correct, and it is verified by inquiries I have made -
My experience amongst the workers convinces me that that is true, and I have worn cotton tweeds in certain circumstances with great benefit and advantage
The board in its recommendation said -
The weaving of cloth from raw material grown and manufactured in the Commonwealth was natural to Australia, and she should be the foremost country in the world in the production of these cloths.
With that I agree -
With adequate tariff assistance there is no reason why Australia should not take her proper position in the world’s production of woollen goods.
I hope to see the day when not one pound of raw wool will be sent from Australia, but large quantities of manufactured woollens will be exported. This country grows the finest merino wool in the world, and our people have brains, capital, enterprise, and energy enough to convert the raw material into manufactures. The Tariff Board’s recommendation continued -
Investigation shows that the mills of Australia are capable of producing all requirements so far ns men’s fabrics are concerned, and the quality is equal to those produced in the United Kingdom, and consequently equal to, or better than, the production of other countries. . . . The suggested increases in duty on shoddy material are necessary because the material competes with some of the cheaper fabrics made from virgin wool.
From another report by the board I find- “ Shoddy “ and “ mungo “ are the reclaimed filament substances obtained from the pulling or rags and remnants of woven or knitted textures in which yarns and fibres are completely matted and felted together, or mill waste which has never been put through a finishing process. “ Mungo “ is a shorter class of fibre than “ shoddy,” being acquired from milled or felted woollen fabrics made of short staple wool, while “ shoddy “ is obtained from fabrics of a looser structure either knitted or woven and composed of longer staples.
The board, in its recommendation in regard to woollen piece goods, said -
It has been stressed by applicants that the industry is seriously affected by the importation of shoddy and cotton tweeds. It was stated that these materials are not produced in the Commonwealth, and they have their particular uses in the manufacture of the working clothes of the Australian worker. The imposition of a prohibitive duty would needlessly contribute to an increase in the cost of living by forcing the use of the more expensive woollen -material upon a class whose occupations subject their clothes to rough usage. The use of such material as cotCon tweed is a necessity to workers in Queensland and other tropical parts of Australia, the advantage being that garments made from this material are easily washed and are much cooler.
– That is not the material now under consideration. Duck will continue to be admitted free of duty.
– This report refers to cotton tweeds, and I understand that it is the basis of the duty now proposed.
– All cotton piece goods are not dutiable.
– I know that, but apparently cotton tweeds are dutiable. The honorable member for Perth produced a large number of fabrics, many of which he said were not cotton tweeds, but would be subject to these duties. I accept his statement. It seems to me that the tendency of these imposts is to inflate considerably the cost of working men’s clothing. That does not commend itself to me. Our aim should be rather to cheapen the requirements of the worker. I am not satisfied that there exist in Australia looms specially designed to weave cotton tweeds. I do not claim to have expert knowledge, but I know that certain looms are used for the manufacture of woollens, others for worsteds, and yet others for cotton tweeds. I am told that certain looms designed for the weaving of woollens are being used for the production of cotton tweeds in Australia. Since I have not sufficient information to warrant me in voting for the disturbance of the existing duties I propose to vote against this item. But if I am subsequently satisfied that we have in Australia looms capable of manufacturing cotton goods of a quality equal to the English standard at prices which will not be prohibitive, I shall be prepared to vote for a duty sufficient to protect the Australian industry. At present I have too great a responsibility to my constituents to vote for an increase of duty which, while increasing the cost of living to the workers, will not commensurately advance the prosperity of Australia-.
. -On no other tariff item have I ever felt more inclined to vote for a prohibitive duty. I desire something done that will further my endeavours during the last five years to make the Australian people realize how absurd the policy of high protection is. I know of no better method of doing that than the imposition of the duties that are being proposed by a mad department, supported by an almost mad Parliament. The burden they involve will fall wholly upon the workers. The Minister has said that the duties will be almost prohibitive. The Tariff Board reported that the imposition of prohibitive duties would needlessly increase the cost of living by compelling the use of a more expensive material. There is not the slightest doubt that these duties will increase the cost of living to the worker. The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) said “ That is all right ; we are quite prepared to pay the bill.” He. with an income of £1,000 a year, may be prepared to foot the bill, but what of the worker receiving £250 or £300 a year ?
– Another new champion of the worker !
– Yes, and ‘not one of those who denounce the Old Country, which has protected us for a hundred years. Honorable ‘ members opposite are doing their best to increase the cost of living, but they have not a word to say regarding the effect upon the worker. In consequence of the imposition of this duty, there will be a heavy increase in the cost of clothing required, particularly, by working men. I cannot understand the attitude of honorable members opposite. I feel almost inclined to support this item, so that I could go into the country with a parcel of samples which I have in my possession, and show the workers of Australia how they have been sold by those whom they look upon as their representatives.
– Why not charge the Government with the responsibility, and not honorable members on this side of the chamber?
– I was expecting support from members of the Opposition; but, instead of giving me their assistance, they seem to be anxious to assist in placing further profits in the pockets of wealthy manufacturers in this country. I was interested in reading in Dunn’s Weekly the other day, of one of our manufacturers who was placing all his assets into one huge company. This is the sort of thing we are encouraging in Australia by the imposition of high protective duties. We find honorable members opposite, such as the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin), supporting the Minster in imposing prohibitive duties. The honorable member for Yarra, towards the conclusion of his speech, referred to unemployment in Australia; and it is a significant fact that ever since we have- had high tariffs, particularly since the tariff of 1921, there has been a large increase in the number of unemployed in the Commonwealth. The honorable member for Yarra submitted a pair of Australianmade trousers, which, he said, were made of all Australian material and sold wholesale at Rs. 2d. per pair; but the local production of this commodity will benefit only a few, and will be to the detriment of many. Is it expected that we shall be able to purchase articles of good quality at a reasonable price as the result of the imposition of high duties ? Will the industry which we are now asked to assist ever be able to fluorish without the assistance of high protective duties? Boots, shoes and hats have been manufactured in Australia for many years with the assistance of a protective tariff, but we have never been able to produce sufficient of these articles to enable us to -enter the export trade. What position shall we occupy in connexion with this and other industries if we do not alter our methods? I have not the slightest doubt that we cannot progress until the workers are paid by results, and workmen enter into some form of partnership with their employers, as is done in the United States of America, where the wages are practically double those ruling in Australia, and where they have a large export trade.
– America is a protectionist country.
– Yes; but in that country the workers are paid by results. I am not in a position to give the wages in the textile industry ; but when the committee is dealing with agricultural machinery I shall quote from American statistics to show that the wages paid in the industry in America are practically double those ruling in Australia. It is absurd to imagine that under high protective duties prices will come down to a proper level. If we wish to see Australia progress as a nation, and our population increase, we shall have to adopt other methods, because in trying to build up one industry by high duties we are actually destroying others of greater importance. The’ honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde) is supporting duties ranging up to 100 per cent., and at the same time is asking for a bounty on the production of cotton. Whence is the money to come? Who is to be taxed in order to meet the heavy expenditure involved ? The wealth of the country comes from the land, and if costs are made so heavy the ultimate result will be that people will be driven from our rural areas, and the operatives in the cities will have no one to manufacture for. I have recently read a paper by Sir James Barrett, which contains some very interesting statistics, which I should like honorable members to read. If there were any possibility of the cotton tweed industry being established on a reasonable basis I should not mind giving some assistance, but can honorable members say it is fair to impose duties ranging from 75 to 100 per cent, on articles required in every-day life, particularly by our working men? The Tariff Board makes recommendations, and immediately the Minister introduces the schedule the duties become operative. Shortly afterwards we find that duties are being re- mitted. as is disclosed in the following telegram, received by the Sub-Collector of Customs in Western Australia: -
Cotton tweeds for which firm order was actually placed with oversea suppliers on or before 2nd September, 1925, and which are entered for home consumption in Australia on or before 31st December, 1925, are to be admitted under Tariff item 404.
That period has now been extended to April. Surely the Minister should have satisfied .himself that Australian manufacturers were able to meet the Australian demand for cotton tweed before such a heavy duty was imposed. The fact that a duty is not yet being collected shows that the local manufacturers were unable to meet the demand, and it is an indication that the- Minister’s statement at the time the tariff was introduced was without foundation. I was hoping that the common sense of honorable members opposite would have influenced them to help us to keep duties such as that proposed in this instance at a reasonable level. The establishment, of the cotton tweed industry in Australia may be the means of giving employment to a few additional men, but what benefit is that to Australia when we consider the huge number of persons who will be compelled to pay higher prices for a necessary commodity ? When it is found that extra prices are demanded, the workers will approach the Arbitration Court and say that as the cost of living has increased, their wages must also be increased. How is primary development to increase ? We shall reach a period when the primary producers will say that they cannot produce at a profit. There has been no increase in primary production in Australia for ten or fifteen years, and the number of migrants coming to Australia during recent years has been comparatively small. There is no inducement for people to settle in the country and, in consequence, the population in our cities has increased. If we are to have flourishing secondary industries we must pro- vide markets. It is madness to ask the committee to agree to some of the high duties proposed in this tariff, which in the interests of the people of Australia I strongly oppose.
– I propose to speak briefly on this matter. The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) appears to think that he is -better fitted than any other honorable member of this House to speak for the working man; but I am able to say that working men all over the country realize that the burden of this impost will fall on them. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) clearly showed that the result of this duty must be an addition to the cost of living, and. I suppose that the honorable member for Hindmarsh will urge the working man to go to the Arbitration Court for an increased wage to meet it. The farmer will be obliged to pay more to the men he employs, but he will not be able to pass it . on. His wheat has to enter the markets of the world and compete with wheat produced by black and brown labour; and that has a strangling effect upon the most important industry that we have in Australia. I do not think it can be gainsaid. A dispassionate consideration of this impost must lead to the conclusion that it is foolish, The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann) fairly described the ramifications of this item. If the people of Australia will take the bit between their teeth and rush to destruction, they must suffer for it. If they will not learn through their head, they must learn through their bellies. I have received a letter from a general merchant at Albany, the oldest town in Western Australia, where the first worsted woollen mills in the State were established, which reads -
As an illustration of the application of one at least of the recent additions to the tariff, the following facts are interesting, and may be the means of removing what must be a burden to the working class. The line referred to - table covers, curtains, &c. - is not used to any extent .by the wealthier section of the community, but is extensively employed by the former. The amount involved is negligible, but, as an illustration, it - is invaluable. Per s.s. Medic we imported (inter alia) two lines of wool and cotton art serge - not, I understand, manufactured in Australia -
First item, wool and cotton art serge, 48-in., 23d. per yard (Home price).
Second item, wool and cotton art serge, 70- 72-in., 3s. 6d. per yard (Home price).
Our import entry reads -
Upon costing up the line, we find -
Duty and charges, including freight, &c, equal 111.2 per cent, on the Home cost, i.e. - Duty, say, 94.7 per cent.; other charges, 16.5 per cent.; total, 111.2 per cent.
On top of this the retailer must add his profit.
It is easily conceivable that Dr. Page should build up millions of surplus on this basis, but surely, from an economic stand-point, Australia is paying far too dearly for the doubtful protection of any local industry.
I thoroughly agree with the writer of that letter. He is in the same position as. the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Parsons). He understands the textile industry, and can speak with authority concerning it. He is a shareholder in the woollen mill that I have referred to, and desires to see local industry prosper; but he is not blind to the inevitable effect of these high duties. Looking at the matter from the economic and commonsense viewpoint, I must say that it is absolute folly to support this item, and I intend to vote against it.
.- I have listened to quite a number of speeches to-night from the calamity howlers in the corner - that necklace of negatives which is absolutely opposed to the development of industrial enterprises in Australia - but they have said nothing new on the subject. Similar speeches have been made formerly in opposition to the establishment of the great textile industry in Australia; and the arguments that they have used against it have also been used against the imposition of a duty on whisky, clothing, and all kinds of things. I have had the privilege of hearing and participating in the debates in this chamber on the last three tariff schedules; and the arguments that the calamity howlers have used to-night have been used on all three occasions. They say that the poor worker is to be crucified, and that the cost of living is to be increased so greatly that there is a poor outlook for industry. I refuse to believe that the Australian worker wants to wear garments made from materials manufactured principally by Japanese, Chinese, or other Asiatics; or that he is not prepared to pay a good price for a good article, and considerably more for an Australianmade article than for any other.
– His patriotism will oblige him to do so.
-His patriotism is greater than that of some- honorable members of this Parliament, who at least ought to be national in their outlook. Some of them have gone to the length of dramatically tearing up trousers and other garments here, in their endeavour to make it appear that the Australian article is no good. But that is only indicative of their general characteristics. The Government itself, at election time, does not hesitate to cry stinking fish about the efficiency of the Australian working men. Nothing can be well done in Australia according to honorable members opposite - when it suits their purpose to say so.
– Is the honorable member a supporter of combines ?
– I would much rather support a combine in Australia than a combine in Japan. We can, at least, control the Australian combines.
– I have heard the honorable member say that the present Government is dominated by combines.
– What I have said is that the Government is supported and heavily subsidized by the combines in Australia. The time will come when Labour will control the government of this country.
– That is what the honorable member said before.
– And I shall say it again.
– Does the honorable member admit that the increase in the duty will mean an increase in price to the purchaser of this article?
– I believe there will be a slight temporary increase until the organization is perfected. Undoubtedly, when the tariff was introduced we were not producing cotton tweeds. I want to see the manufacturers of this country employing hundreds of thousands, nay, millions, of Australian workmen, and. paying Australian rates of wages and working under Australian conditions. When I see manufacturers making these goods, and employing Australian labour under those conditions, I am prepared to assist them to the utmost of my ability, always with this- in view; that while we accept the policy of protection as put forward by this Government, ultimately we shall introduce a better policy, which will include protection for the workers, the consumers, and the manufacturers. For the time being our task is to build up a great Australian nation, and we can do that only by protecting Australian industries, which are financed by Australian capital, and, in some instances, I am pleased to say, by American and English capital. While we are prepared to allow England, America, Japan, or other countries to make our goods, they will make them under the conditions prevailing in those countries; but if we make it impossible for them to supply us from overseas, the incentive is for them to bring capital to this country and invest large sums of money here. We have evidence of that in Ford’s and Dodge Brothers’ motor works, and in the manufacture of machinery, electrical instruments, and many other things. We have had, I suppose, more than twenty illustrations of American and English capital being forced to come to this country by the protection we afford to Australian industries. In. twenty, years’ time, as a result of this policy, we shall have in this country, notwithstanding the calamity howlers, vast industrial undertakings. I conclude by expressing the hope that not only will the item be passed, but that even more protection absolutely prohibitive protection, will be provided when we are in a better position to meet the requirements of Australia.
– I cannot register a silent vote on this item. During the general debate on item No. 1. I brought under the Minister’s notice certain representations made to me by old and established firms in Brisbane. I said that in Queensland it had not been possible to secure supplies of Australian-made cotton tweeds, and I also said that the firms who had made representations to me had clearly stated that they were not opposed to the duty if the Parliament thought it necessary. I put several questions to the Minister, and have since received his replies to them. The questions and the answers are as follow: -
Question. - Names and. locations of factories in the Commonwealth producing cotton tweed?
Answer. -G. A.. Bond and Co., Sydney; Marrickville Woollen Mills (Vicars), Parramatta; Cooerwull Mills, Bowenfela, New South Wales; Tweedside Manufacturing Co. Pty. Ltd., Abbotsford, Victoria; Foy and Gibson Pty. Ltd., Collingwood; Federal Woollen Mills Pty.. Ltd., Geelong; GeelongReturned Sailors and Soldiers’ Woollen and Worsted Co-operative Manufacturing Co., Geelong; Airedale Mills, Footscray, Melbourne; Ballarat Woollen and Worsted Co., Ballarat; J. Aitkin and Sons, Hobart.
Question. - The approximate aggregate quantity of cotton tweeds produced for the twelve months ended the 30th June, 1925?
Answer. - This information is not available, but it is believed that the quantity turned out was very small indeed.
Question. - The anticipated aggregate quan tity to be produced for the year ending the 30th June, 1926?
Answer. - It is extremely difficult to give the precise information owing to the fact that the imported cotton tweeds ordered before the 3rd September last were permitted to come in free up to the 31st December, 1925. The following information is, however, given of guarantees undertaken and given to the Department as to the quantities of cotton - tweeds the mills are prepared to produce: -
Bond and Co., Sydney, up to 3,000,000 yards per annum; Marrickville Woollen Mills, 1,000,000 yards per annum; Tweedside Manufacturing Co. Pty Ltd., 400,000 yards per annum; Federal Woollen Mills Pty. Ltd., 250,000 yards per annum; Foy and Gibson, 100,000 yards per annum; Geelong Returned Sailors and Soldiers’ Co-operative Manufacturing Co., 50,000 yards per annum; Airedale Mills, Footscray, 50,000 yards per annum (if proposed item passed by Parliament, they will increase plant and produce 1,000,000 yards per annum ) ; Ballarat Worsted and Woollen Co., 25,000 yards per annum; J. Aitkin and Sons, Hobart, no special quantity.
Question. - Are the factories in question using Australian grown cotton?
Answer. - ‘Yes, in regard to two factories that are manufacturing their own cotton yarn. Other factories are at present importing the cotton yarn.
Question. - Are the supplies of cotton tweeds available for sale in all States?
Answer. - Yes.
As I have now received a definite assurance that all orders that may be sent forward will be met with very little delay, 1 shall support the Government in this item.
.- I wish to explain why, at the conclusion of my previous remarks, I was not able to hand over to honorable members the samples about which I spoke. The reason I left the chamber at once was that Hansard required my figures immediately. I did not endeavour to demonstrate that British cotton tweeds could not be torn. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green) can testify that I tore a pair of English trousers, and that it required more strength to tear them than the Australian article. I also wish to protest against the remarks of the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin), in so far as he suggested that I misled the committee. I do not wish to mislead the committee at this or any other time. I ask the honorable member for Yarra to give me credit for being honest in my convictions, and in my turn I will be at all times prepared to give him like credit. If politicians are supposed to say anything that suits their policy, irrespective of whether they believe it or not, then I am not a politician.
Question - That sub-item a, paragraphs a, b, and c, of item 105 be agreed to- - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 35
– The Chair did not accept that amendment.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Proposed sub-item agreed to.
– I rise to a point of order in relation to the division that has just been taken. At an early stage in the debate I moved that item 105 be referred back to the Tariff Board. An appeal by me to the Chair in division elicited the reply from the Temporary Chairman (Sir Granville Ryrie) that that amendment had not been accepted by the Chairman. I submit to you, Mr. Bayley, that the time to state whether an amendment is or is not acceptable to the Chair is when it is moved, and that it is hardly just to an honorable member to then ignore the amendment, and to wait until the committee is in division to inform him that it has not been accepted. In order to protect the rights of every honorable member, an amendment should either be submitted to the committee for its acceptance or rejection, or the Chairman should give a definite reason for declining to submit it to the committee. In this case the intimation that the amendment was not acceptable -to the Chair was not given at the proper time, and any reason which may now be given would hardly do justice to me.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bayley).I regret if I misunderstood the honorable member. I heard him say that it was his intention to move that the item be referred back to the Tariff Beard; but I did not understand him to actually submit that amendment.
– He did.
– Had the honorable member for Perth done so, I should have told Mm at the time that it would not be in order, and would have suggested that his proper course would be to move the postponement of the item as an indication to the Government that the matter be resubmitted to the Tariff Board for consideration. I regret very much if I have done the honorable member an injustice. I assure him that it was quite unintentional.
– I thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your statement; but with all respect to you, sir, I should like to make it clear that, after having indicated my intention to move the amendment, I did definitely move it. However, the incident is closed, and I only rose to say that I think that minorities, even small minorities, have a right to be treated with respect.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until to-morrow at 11 a.m.
– In moving -
That the House do now adjourn,
X should like to say that, in connexion with the re-organization of the Institute of Science and Industry, which is dealt with in the report by Sir Frank Heath, laid on the table of the House yesterday, the Government has decided to appoint an advisory committee of three members, as suggested by him, I cannot, at this stage, forecast the exact basis upon which ihe re-organization will take place; but I desire to announce that Mr. G. A. Julius, of Sydney, has agreed to act as chairman of the advisory committee.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.16 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 23 March 1926, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1926/19260323_reps_10_113/>.