10th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir Littleton Groom) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
Duty on Maize.
– During the general debate on the tariff the Minister for Trade and Customs promised that before the Easter adjournment he would let the House know the result of the negotiations with South Africa for a reciprocal trade treaty, and that in the event of those negotiations not being successful the duty of 3s. 6d. per cental under the general tariff would operate against maize from that country. Can the Minister inform the House of the stage the negotiations have reached ?
– The Commonwealth Government has informed the Government of South Africa that it proposes to abrogate the 1906 treaty before entering into negotiations for a. reciprocal treaty which has been found necessary in the interests of Australia owing to the alteration of the South African preference to British goods, and I propose to introduce a motion, before the tariff is disposed . of, for the abrogation of the existing treaty as from 1st July next. As the motion must be approved by the Senate, which has adjourned for some weeks, the 1st July is the earliest reasonable date at which it can become effective.
– Has the Prime Minister noticed the report in this morning’s newspapers of a resolution of the Iron Workers Union that unless all repairs to the damaged steamer, ClanMcNaughton, are effected in Australia the vessel will be declared black, and no repairs done to enable it to continue its voyage ? Is the Government prepared to take action to deal with this restraint of shipping? The Trades Hall will be extremely pleased -
– Order ! The honorable member may not advance arguments or make statements.
– The motion carried at the Trades Hall was-
– Order !
– I am endeavouring to inform the Prime Minister.
– In asking a question the honorable member may not inform anybody. The object of a question is to elicit, not to give, information.
– I have read the newspaper report, and the matter will be considered by the Government.
– In view of the disclosures made last evening by the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Marks), who asserted that certain interested persons were endeavouring to frustrate the efforts to locate oil supplies in Australia, will the Prime Minister see that every precaution is taken to prevent interference with the boring operations now in progress ?
– The statements made last evening by the honorable member for Wentworth were very serious. Representations in regard to this matter had previously been made to the Government, and are now being investigated.
– For several years the Soldiers’ Rest Home at Bendigo has been successfully carried on by the Ladies’ Red Cross Guild and has done very valuable work. Recently the home was closed, and protests against that action have reached me from various bodies, including, the Bendigo Fathers’ Association. Will the Minister for Repatriation explain the reason for closing the institution ?
– The home is being closed because of the dearth of patients of a class that would be benefited by the treatment it offers.
– Can the Prime Minister furnish me with a reply to the question I asked on Monday, regarding the payment of increased allowances to returning officers for extra work entailed by the general election!
– I stated recently that a report had been received from the Public Service Board, and that . the Government was considering the matter. In that report the board stated that it could not recommend an increase over the amount granted under the classification. It would appear, however, that in making that report the board was under the misapprehension that the Public Service Arbitrator, in fixing the maximum salary at £480 per annum, had taken into consideration the extra overtime that would be involved under the compulsory voting system. The determination of the Public Service Arbitrator was made on the 5th February, 1924, whereas it was not until the 4th July, 1924, that leave to bring in the Compulsory Voting Bill was given. In view of this apparent error, and also of the fact that the 1925 elections were the occasion of the initial application of the compulsory voting law, and that the difficulties incidental to the innovation were accentuated by the fact that the elections were held some three and a half months earlier than the anticipated date, the matter has been referred back to the board, with a request that it shall review the whole position.
– Has the attention -of the Minister for Trade and Customs been drawn to a statement in the Argus to-day by the manager of the Australasian Film Company that, in order to encourage their exhibition in Australia, the company had imported severalhundred thousand feet of British films, but although they are free of duty, the Customs Department has demanded the payment of a considerable duty on the material of which they are made. Therefore, the films are still in bond and cannot be exhibited ?
– I have read the paragraph mentioned by the honorable member, and I have also received an official letter from the Australasian Film Company in regard to this subject. I have been too busy to investigate the complaint, but will do so at the earliest possible date.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. I intended to oppose the ultra-socialistic measure introduced yesterday by the Prime Minister to increase the capital of the Commonwealth Oil Refineries.
– The honorable member is criticizing the bill rather than making a personal explanation.
– I would have asked for much fuller information in regard to the proposal than was given to the House. Unfortunately, after the bill had been introduced, I left the chamber to keep an appointment with the Prime Minister. Naturally I assumed that members of the Opposition would offer the same opposition to thebill as they did to the original bill four years ago, and that the debate would extend for some time, but on returning to the chamber I found that the measure had been passed through all its stages. I desire to make it . clear that had I been present I would have done my best to retard its passage.
– An article was published in Smith’s Weekly recently regarding Dr. Philip de Luca’s discovery for the treatment of tuberculosis. So many inquiries have reached me since its publication that I ask the Minister for Health to make available any information he may have on the subject?
– I have no personal knowledge of that treatment, but I shall have inquiries made, and convey to the honorable member any information that the Department may be able to obtain.
– What is the intention of the Minister for Trade and Customs in regard to giving further tariff protection to the saw-milling industry?
– No tariff matter has had from the Department and the Government more careful consideration than theduties on timber. Last year the Tariff Board devoted two or three months to a very exhaustive inquiry into the timber industry, and submitted a re- port, which has been printed, in which certain minor duties were recommended. Since thenhonorable members interested in the timber industry have asked that a further inquiry be made, and as soon as the Tariff Board has completed investigations that are now in progress, I shall ask it to report upon any new developments in connexion with the timber industry since last year.
– The Tariff Board recommended the imposition of an increased duty on shooks. As a result of the recent bush fires a lot of the young timber is now suitable only for case making, and must be -used soon or it will be useless.
– Order ! The honorable member is arguing the question.
– Large quantities of timber arebeing imported, and in View of the urgent -need for granting relief to the timber industry, I ask the Minister ‘to endeavour to have the board’s further inquiry and . recommendations expedited.?
– I have already promised that any complaints or new evidence shall be investigated, and as soon as possible the result will he placed before Cabinet.
Report and Balance-Sheet
– Will the Prime Minister arrange for the publication, before the Oil Agreement (Bill passed by this House yesterday reaches another place, of the report and balance-sheet of the Common-wealth Oil Refineries Ltd., so as to disclose what have been the advantages to Australia of the establishment of that business?
– I shall certainly make arrangements to expedite the publication of both the balance-sheet and’ report. When speaking yesterday, I intended to refer to the delay that has taken place in making the information available to honorable members. It would have been possible to publish the balance-sheet some time ago, but it was withheld until the Government had determined whether the debit to profit and loss, which would have been shown if the balance-sheet had been published before the passing of the bill, should be included or not. Now that the bill has been passed by this House, the balance-sheet, showing the probable figures for this year and the actual result of the last year’s operations, can be made available.
asked the AttorneyGeneral,upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s “questions are as follow : -
Mail Vans: Railway Charges, New South Wales - Linesmen and Telegraphists: Wages and Allowances. - Postal Assistants and Sorters, South Australia : Classification - Transport Branch : Motor Drivers
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Investigations recently made in regard to the
Proposed T.P.O. mail service, from Sydney toismore, indicate that an annual cost of £13,200 will be incurred, of which amount over £8,000 represents haulage costs.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : - 1 and 2. This information is being obtained, and will bc communicated to the honorable member later.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
– On the 25th March, the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Coleman) asked the following questions : -
I now desire to inform the honorable member that the replies to his questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
CONVERSION of Gauge.
asked the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
– The information will bc furnished to the honorable member by letter.
– The honorable member for Grey (Mr. Lacey) asked a series of questions in the House yesterday in regard to the ballasting of the transAustralian railway -
The answers are as follow : -
Food Supplied to Trainees
– On the 18th March the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. E. Riley) asked the following question: -
Has the attention of the Minister for Defence been called to an occurrence which took place at the Liverpool Camp, when certain trainees marched out of camp as a protest against the foodsupplied to them?
I replied that I would have the matter investigated, and am now in a position to inform the honorable member that from a report of an inquiry submitted in connexion with the occurence, it would appear that in the 1st Divisional Casual Camp at Liverpool, at the evening meal on the 12th March, four portions of meat issued to one mess were found to be fly-blown and were replaced immediately. The meat was in good condition when issued from the kitchen, and was probably infected during the distribution in the mess huts. The systems of cooking and preparation of the food were normal and satisfactory, and I have issued instructions that all possible steps shall be taken to prevent infection during distribution to the mess huts. There was no” riot “ or unseemly behaviour on the part of the troops as reported in some sections of the press.
The following papers were presented: -
Elections and Referendums - Statistical Returns in relation to the Senate Elections, 1925; the General Elections for the House of Represenatives, 1925, together with Summaries of Elections and Referendums 1903-1925.
Elections, . 1925 - Statistical Returns showing the Voting within each Subdivision in relato the Senate Elections, 1925, and the General Elections for the House of Representatives, 1925, viz. : - New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia.
Papua Act- Ordinance of 1925- No. 17- Mineral Oil and Coal.
Consideration resumed from 25th March (vide page 2066).
Postponed item 54 -
Honorable members will remember that when this item was under consideration there seemed to be an almost unanimous desire that the duties on asparagus should be increased. It was felt that big developments were in sight in asparagusgrowing and canning, and it was generally thought that, our climate being ideal, and other conditions being good as compared with conditions in other parts- of the world, Australia ought to be able to supply the whole of its requirements of this vegetable. Since then, I have very carefully considered the suggested amendment of the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Lister), and the whole subject has been re-investigated. To meet the wishes of the committee, I move this amendment, which goes farther than the original proposal : -
That the item be amended by adding the following : -
The effect of the amendment will be that sub-items 2a, 2d, and 2e will remain practically unchanged, but that, in the case of sub-item 2b, which applies to halfpints and over quarter-pints, and 2c, which applies to pints and over half.pints, specific duties have been substituted for ad valorem duties-. I submit the amendment to the committee with some confidence. My reason for suggesting the deferred duty is that I am still without conclusive proof that Australia is producing, or can produce, the bulk of the asparagus required in. this country.
.- I am sorry to hear the Minister’s statement. Ee has certainly gone a little way in the direction I desired.
– What do the honorable member and his supporters want?
– What we ask for. I ask the Minister not to defer the duties at all, but to make them operative immediately. Considerable quantities of. Australiangrown asparagus are stored in. the various States, and a market for it cannot) be found, because of the Californian competition. The committee should bemade aware of the fact that asparagus produced in California is almost exclusively grown by black labour. Filipinos are employed at the rate of 36 or 38 cents, which equals ls. 6d.. or ls. 7d. a day. The bulk of the work in the canning factories is done by Chinese labour, under the contract system.. My complaint is not against the wages paid, so much as against the class of labour employed. Australia cannot hope to compete in primary or secondary industries against goods produced by Asiatic or other coloured labour. I ask the Minister to reconsider this matter, because there is no possibility of disposing of the present stocks of asparagus in Australia if the duty is not made operative forthwith.
.- By his original proposal, the Minister seemed to me to have “ out-Heroded Herod”; but in the present case he has gone even further than that. He states that the committee is practically unanimous in its desire’ to increase’ the duty. I can assure him, however, that I am not of that opinion. It would be infinitely preferable to reduce the production costs in. the industry.. The Minister asserts that the most favourable climatic conditions for the growth of asparagus exist in Australia. If that be so, the industry enjoys a natural advantage, and, therefore, his argument does not support his case. The proposal must increase the cost of living, and encourage a demand for a further increase in wages, thus helping to place Australia in a more insular position than it now occupies.
.- The proposal of the Minister is probably satisfactory, so far as it goes; but it would be highly dangerous to postpone the operation of the duty. The honorable member for Corio (Mr. Lister), who has taken keen personal interest in this matter, has shown that ample stocks of asparagus, grown in Australia, are ready to be placed on the market. If the duty is deferred, the effect will be to flood our market with foreign supplies sufficient to last for years, with the result that the duty, when it becomes operative, will be of no value to local producers. If the duty is justified at all, it should be made operative immediately. I positively refuse to support a deferred tariff. The Minister should pay no heed to the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse), and the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory), but should be guided by those who support Australian industries. I hope that he will not throw this particular industry to the wolves, since it is seriously threatened by competitors that employ cheap and nasty labour.
– I think that this matter has been well considered, and that an overwhelming majority of the committee supports the duty; but it would be dangerous to defer its application, since the importers would flood the market before the duty became operative. With the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green), I think that every consideration should be- shown to an industry whose competitors have an advantage over them by reason of their employment of cheap coloured labour. The honorable member for Forrest suggested that the Minister, who, in his first proposal, had “ out-Heroded Herod,” had now gone even further ; but the honorable member’s argument seems to have “ out-Prowsed Prowse.” Asparagus is purely a luxury, and, in order to retain a market for it, an article of the first quality must be produced. I have ho doubt that the honorable member, because of his previous arguments against protection, felt bound to say that an increased duty on asparagus would both increase the cost of living and cause a rise in wages.
.- I have rarely heard a more inconsistent speech than that of the honorable .member for Corio (Mr. Lister). The unfair competition, of which protectionists usually complain, consists in the employment of lowpaid workers. The honorable member, however, confessed that he did not take exception to the wages paid by Californian producers j his chief objection was that they employed foreigners. Therefore, he contended that the competition was necessarily unfair. Could a protectionist argument be more ridiculous? If the wages said to obtain in California are -paid, they are an indictment of protection, because it is claimed that protection prevents “ sweating,” and keeps wages high. It is almost incredible that such low wages are paid in a wonderful protectionist country like the United States of America. The same argument was repeated by the honorable members for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) and Macquarie (Mr. Manning). Nothing has so displayed the insatiable greed of the protectionists as the speech of the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Lister) who complained of what he termed the small concession which the Minister was willing to grant. I should not have spoken had it not been for his illogical, absurd and inconsistent statements.
– Scientific and medical opinion is unanimous that it would be wise in the interests of public health for every tin containing fruit or vegetables to be embossed with the date of canning, in order to prevent labels with different dates from being put on them. The practice of embossing tins in this way is in operation in the United Kingdom and in the United State of America, in connexion with many forms of tinned food, as well as tobacco and cigarettes. In view of the wide-spread feeling that cancer is caused largely by tinned foods, especially when the foods are old and when opportunity has been given for the acid in the vegetables or fruit to attack the tins, I suggest te the growers that in future seasons - I realize it is now too late to adopt the suggestion for this year’s crop - they should adopt the system of embossing the date of canning on the tin.
– I move -
That the amendment be amended by leaving out the words “ on and after 1st July, 1926.”
If the imposition of the higher duties be deferred until . the 1st of July next, the Australian market will in the meantime be flooded with supplies from the United States of America.
– It was not my intention to take any further part in this debate, but-
– Has the Chairman abandoned the rule about calling from each side alternately ? He has called two successive speakers from the same side.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bayley).There is no written rule on the subject, but the practice in this chamber has been for the Chairman to recognize in turn the members of the various parties.
– The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann) has given us a clue to his outlook on life. He said that, seeing that it is possible in other countries which employ cheap coloured labour to produce articles more cheaply than they can be produced in- Australia, where our standards of living are higher, the wages and working conditions of those countries should apply to Australia also.
– He did not say that.
– That is the only inference which can be drawn from the honorable member’s remarks. I shall not stand for the introduction into Australia of conditions similar to those obtaining in the United States of America, which, while ostensibly a white man’s country, has a big coloured problem and working conditions quite dissimilar from those in Australia. I therefore support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Jackson). With him I believe that if there is justification for the duties being increased at all, the increase should be made immediately. Our Australian manufacturers should not be exposed to the risk of the market being flooded with importations from overseas.
, - It was the invariable rule of the ex-Speaker, as it is of the present Speaker, to call on honorable members from each side alternately.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bayley).Is the honorable member raising a point of order 1
– Then the honorable member must address himself to the amendment before the Chair.
– I am unable to understand the action of the Minister in giving way on this item to the wishes of. a few honorable members who are in a minority in this chamber. He should not disregard the great majority of honorable members who have assisted him in connexion with this tariff schedule. I do not say that minorities have no rights. Were the honorable members for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) and Swan (Mr. Gregory) to stand alone they would still have their rights; but the Minister would not be justified in attaching to their views the same importance that he would attach to the views held by the majority. The honorable member for Corio (Mr. Lister) submitted sufficient evidence to make it clear that the asparagus industry in Australia is not different from other industries.
– What about mushrooms ?
– The honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) is not capable of assisting any Australian industry. The attitude of the small minority which opposes this tariff reminds me of the story of the professor and the frogs. The professor asked for a number of frogs for dissection, to demonstrate in the interests of scientific research. A friend told the professor that in a pond in his back yard were thousands of frogs, and that he could supply cartloads of them. Two days later he called on the professor, and handed him a small box containing three frogs. When reminded that he had stated that he could supply cartloads of frogs, seeing that there were thousands in the pond, he replied that he had been led to think so because of the noise which emanated from the pond, but that he found only three frogs when the pool was emptied. Those three frogs had made all the noise. The honorable members for Swan (Mr. Gregory), Forrest (Mr. Prowse), and Perth (Mr. Mann) are like those frogs in that they make a big noise. Those engaged in growing asparagus in Australia are increasing the area under cultivation. 1 remind honorable members that the asparagus grown in Australia is, at least, equal to that grown in any other part of the world. I ask the Minister not to be influenced by the small section of the committee which favours deferring the imposition of these duties until the 1st of July next.
.- I support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Jackson). This is a comparatively new industry in Australia; each year greater areas are being placed under cultivation. If the increased duties are not to be operative until the 1st of July next, importations from countries where asparagus is grown by cheap-coloured labour will flood- the Australian market, and nullify the effect of the tariff when it does become operative. In that way this industry might be destroyed. Already it is subjected to unfair competition, from other countries. I urge the Minister to accept the amendment.
– In view of the general support accorded the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Jackson), I desire to inform the committee that I shall accept it.
.- Is the duty on asparagus imported in jars to be the same as on that imported in tins?
– Then it is the intention of the Minister (Mr. Pratten) to encourage the importation of asparagus in containers made of tin produced by coloured labour. I do not think for a moment that the Minister desires to assist an industry using containers consisting of tin produced by coloured labour. It is unreasonable not . to encourage the use of asparagus imported in glass jars.
.- The Minister, in supporting an increased duty upon asparagus, gave an excellent reason why a duty should not be imposed when he said that the conditions in Australia were particularly suitable for the production of this vegetable. If that is so, why cannot the industry prosper without the imposition of a heavy duty ? The honorable member for Corio quoted the wages paid to those employed in the! industry in California. I understand that an honorable member said that by increasing the duty the Minister had out-Heroded Herod, but the honorable member for Corio has out done Tom Pepper in saying that coloured labour recruited in the Philippines was employed in the asparagus growing industry in California, at a wage of 36 cents, or approximately ls. 6d. per day, or 9s. a week. It is impossible for a human being to live in California on 9s. a week.
– Who said that 9s. a week was paid?
– The honorable member said that the daily wage was 36 cents., which, in English currency, is equivalent to Ds. per week.
– A Filipino can be kept on much less than that.
– In California?
– Anywhere. That is the beauty of the Filipino.
– In introducing such an argument in support of an increased duty, the honorable member for Corio displayed the weakness of his case. I intend to oppose the amendment.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bayley).I cannot accept the amendment moved by the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Jackson) for the deletion of certain words, the effect of which will be to increase the duty, which it is not competent for a private member to propose.
Amendment of amendment (by Mr. Pratten) agreed to -
That the words “ 1st July “ be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ 27th March.”
Amendment, as amended, agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Postponed item 114 -
By omitting the whole of sub-item (d) and inserting in its stead the following sub-item: - “(d) Caps and Sewn Hats, n.e.i.,. per dozen, 10s. (British), 12s. (intermediate), 14s. (general); or ad valorem, 35 per cent. (British), 40 per cent, (intermediate), 45 per cent, (general), whichever rate returns the higher duty.”
– I move -
That the item be amended by adding the following : - “ And on and after 27th March, 1926-
The effect of this amendment is to increase by 2s. per dozen the duties on certain specified caps and hats. Asit is the desire of the committee that “ shoddy “ material shall practically be excluded from Australia, the raw material used in the manufacture of caps will cost considerably more, as . manufacturers will now have to use genuine cotton tweed or woollen material made in Australia. Further, the proposed duty will give an increased measure of protection against the importation of some caps and hats manufactured of “ shoddy “ material, which cannot be excluded from the country except by a heavy duty. The operations of this Australian industry are perhaps greater than many imagine, as the output is valued at approximately £200,000 a. year. The Australian factories axe so efficient and so well conducted that the importations with which they have to compete are valued at only £25,000 a year. The local, industry controls the bulk of the Australian trade. Strong; representations on this subject have been made by certain honorable members, and investigations have been in. progress for some time. The matter has been carefully investigated departmentally and also I understand by the Chairman of the Tariff Board, and it has been decided that unless this amendment is carried the Australian industry will be placed in a serious position.
.- Whilst we are thankful for small mercies, I do not consider the proposed increase in duty sufficient. I therefore propose to place a few facts before the committee, although it is perhaps too late to ask for an amendment to be made at this juncture. I hope the subject will be further considered before the tariff is in another place. It is true, as the Minister(Mr. Pratten) stated, that the Australian cap manufactures have control of the bulk of the Australian, trade, but their manufacture consists principally of schoolboys’ caps, which represents a fairly extensive trade, as nearly all Australian, schoolboys wear caps. If we eliminate the value of schoolboys’ caps from the total value, it will be found that the trade in men’s tweed caps is held by importers, as shown by the following figures : - In 1917-18, the importations were 4,000 dozen; in 1918-19, 3,000 dozen; 1919-20, 2,344’ dozen; 1920-21, 6,600 dozen. It will be seen that between 1918-19 and 1920-21 the imports of this article have more than doubled. I do not wish to see an exceptionally heavy duty imposed on schoolboys’ caps, as, although the local manufacturers are working on a small margin - I have seen their figures - they have been able under the- present tariff to hold the Australian, trade. I am. assured that the manufacture of men’s- caps is not at present extensively undertaken, in Australia.. Imported caps, a sample of which. I submit, are invoiced in Great Britain alt 12s. per. dozen, or.1s. each, notwithstanding that the material in them costs 7½d. in Great Britain..
– Are they not sold in Australia at 10s. each?
– Not as much as that. The cost of the material is 7½d., lining l¼d., peak and canvas1d., button and thread½d., making thetotal cost in Great Britain l0¼d. These caps which cost1s. in Great Britain are made in the homes of poor people under sweated conditions of the worst character, recalling the “ Song of the Shirt.’ The cost to Australian manufacturers importing tweed as they were doing before this duty was imposed would be 15s. 3d. per dozen caps with landing charges 20s. 3d. or a total cost of 35s. 6d. per dozen., without profit. By using Australia, tweed purchased at 5s. 6d. a yard, samples of which I submit, they are able to do better. The Minister said that as the increased duty of 2s. did not cover the increased cost of the raw material due to the increase in the tariff, he proposes to increase the duty by an additional 2s. But that does not meet the competition.
– Then increasing, the tariff sometimes means increasing the cost?
– In some instances it does and no one has argued to the contrary.,In many cases, however, the effect of the tariff has- been to increase’ output, cheapen the- cost of production, and also the price of the article.
– The intention is to increase the price.
– The intention is to prevent caps made under conditions, totally opposed to Australian standards, from entering into competition with, locally made caps. I have never argued! that an increase in the duty always results in a reduction in the price- of an article to the consumer. An article made under sweated labour conditions abroad cannot be made at a lower price in Australia. I have shown, time after time, in machinery lines, that the importers work on a very high margin of profit, when there is no local competition, and that when a duty is imposed to enable Australian manufacturers to compete against them, they substantially reduce their prices. But the public are not being exploited by the importers of these caps, which are made at a ridiculously low price. Honorable members must find it hard to believe that this cap that I exhibit was made for one shilling, but I have seen the invoices and know that it is so. The importers formerly manufactured them here, but the competition from abroad became so keen, that they were compelled to cease manufacturing and import them. To enable them to regain the business, it will be necessary to impose a high duty of 15s. a dozen, plus 35 per cent, on the imported caps.
– That would be a heavy tax to put on school-boys’ caps.
– - It is not proposed to tax the school-boys’ caps. I should absolutely refuse to consent to the imposition of a duty like this on them. The manufacturers have been quite frank in the matter. They have pointed out that they are able to* ‘compete successfully “with the overseas manufacturers of school-boys’ caps, and make a little profit.
– Those caps are not tweed, but cloth.
– They are made of flannel. It is not -suggested that this heavy duty should be placed on them, but only on men’s tweed caps. I have been in consultation with officers of the Trade and Customs Department, as well as with the manufacturers, in regard to these caps, and I can understand the point of view of the department. On the figures before it, we were doing all but £25,000 worth of the £200,000 worth of business done here annually in caps, and it naturally concluded that the local manufacturers were holding their own. The fact was that they were only holding their own in. one line, namely, the school-boys’ caps. Seeing that we have put a heavy duty on the importation of cheap woollen tweeds from abroad, we should not allow the material to come in nea sly free if made up into caps. I am sure that the Government does not stand for that. I can quite- understand the difficulty of determining, in a moment, a point like this, and I suggest that the Minister should consult with his department and interview representatives of the manufacturing firms on the matter. If he is satisfied that the facts are as I have stated, he could take steps to amend the item when the schedule is before another place.
– Why could we not deal with the matter immediately? We could amend the item to read “ Men’s tweed caps.”
– It would no* be a fair thing to spring a matter like this on the Minister or on the department. I had not thought of this way out of the difficulty until this morning. We could let the item pass as it is, on the understanding that the Minister would reconsider it, and if he felt it desirable, have an amendment proposed in another place. Surely we are not willing1 to allow the British manufacturers, who make these caps under shocking conditions, to have the business in preference to the local manufacturers who formerly had it. I trust that the Minister will adopt my suggestion.
.- I must say that the cap manufacturers are well represented by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin). He has admitted that it is not necessary to increase the duty on school-boys’ caps, and that only men’s tweed caps need consideration. If that is so, why cannot we amend the item at once to make it cover men’s tweed caps? That would be the better way out of the difficulty.
.- I will accept the suggestion made by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin). Throughout the debate on the items of the schedule I have adopted the practice’ of being extremely careful in accepting amendments. We have the ComptrollerGeneral and the Chief Surveyor at the Customs Department who are responsible for the technicalities of the tariff, and I have been surprised when I have suggested certain amendments, to find sometimes, on examination, what a different effect they would have from what was in- tended. I will carefully consider the remarks of the honorable member for Yarra and the honorable member for Forrest on this item.
Dr.MALONEY (Melbourne) [12.25].- I understand that the proposal definitely before us is to increase the duty on item 114 from 8s., 10s., and 12s., to 12s., 14s., and 16s. respectively. I have in my hand what appears to be a fine piece of tweed, but examination shows it to be absolute shoddy. I suggest that it would be advisable for us to make a provision that all shoddy should be branded according to its composition. That would prevent our people from being deceived by the appearance of the cloth.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Postponed item 174 -
– I move -
That sub-items b and c be left out.
If the amendment is accepted I intend to move later for the insertion of a new item, No. 415a, to read as follows: - 415a. On and after the 27th day of March, 1926 - Manufactures imported for use in the development of an Australian industry or of the natural resources of Australia, or for use in public hospitals or public educational institutions, or “for use by public utilities established under Commonwealth or State law and not conducted for private gain-
I trust that honorable members will approve of this procedure.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Postponed sub-item (d) of item 176 -
On which Mr. Pratten had moved by way of amendment -
That the item be amended by adding the following to sub-item d : - “ And on and after 25th March, 1926:- 176d (1). Cement-making machines, n.e.i.; aerial rope-ways, exclusive of cable; hand operated, travelling, and portable cranes; coal conveyors and ash-handling plant, exclusive of motive power equipment, ad. val., British, 35 per cent.; intermediate, 45 per cent.; general, 50 per cent. 176 d (2). Road-making machines, n.e.i., stone-crushing machines, ad. val., 30 per cent., British; 45 per cent., intermediate; 50 per cent., general.”
– I desire, with the permission of the committee, to withdraw the amendment of which I gave notice yesterday. 1 was under a misapprehension as to the proportion of labour and material employed in the manufacture of the class of machinery covered by sub-item d. These machinery duties have beengrouped along certain fixed lines. Machinery in which there is the lowest proportion of labour to material has been placed in the lowest group. There are four groups, and the duties range up to 45 per cent. British for machinery requiring seven or eight times the amount of labour compared with other types of machinery. I was, as I have said, under a misapprehension as to the proportion of labour required in the manufacture of road-making machinery. Therefore, I desire to withdraw my amendment to reduce the British duty by 5 per cent. I have made careful inquiries into this subject, and I find that concrete-mixers are made by about two dozen firms in Victoria and New South Wales, tar-boilers are made by five firms, tar-sprays by four firms, and stone-crushers by three firms. Practically all engineering establishments in Australia make these machines. I have received a pertinent telegram from Sydney bearing on this matter.
.- I object strongly to the withdrawal of the amendment.
– The honorable member ought to be decent about the matter, and allow the amendment to be withdrawn.
– The honorable member for Swan will be quite within his rights in again submitting his amendment before the item is disposed of.
– I withdrew my amendment on the clear understanding that the- Minister (Mr. Pratten) had agreed to submit one. I wanted the duty on cement-making, road-making, and stone-crushing machines to remain at the old rate of 27½ per cent., and the Minister gave me an assurance that he would meet me by moving an amendment to reduce the British tariff to 30 per cent. I protest against the withdrawal of the amendment. If it is withdrawn, I shall resubmit my amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
.- I move -
That the sub-item be amended by inserting after the word “ size “ the words “ and on and after 27th March, 1926, ad. val., 30 per cent. (British) ; 35 per cent. (intermediate) ; 40 per cent. (general).”
I am not seeking to reduce the duties in the intermediate and general tariffs. I stated yesterday that there is a natural protection of from 50 per cent. to 60 per cent. on this heavy class of machinery, which is essential for road making purposes in Australia. Owing to the action of the Government in imposing dumping duties on cement, many manufacturers in Australia are making enormous profits. A couple of years ago these manufacturers protested that the industry was suffering severely through the dumping of foreign cement, with the result that special dumping duties were imposed, but as the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) showed last night these people now find it difficult to hide the enormous profits they are making. The Commonwealth Government is committed to an expenditure of . £20, 000,000 for the building of roads throughout Australia. Because of the great development in motor traction, good roads are essential, and I am sure that no honorable member is in favour of allowing cement manufacturers, or indeed any other manufacturers, to make illegitimate profits. We want a fair deal. Prom what I can learn, it is apparent we are not getting a fair deal in the manufacture of cement, which is so badly needed for road making purposes. A lady friend of mine who has lately returned from America informed me that there is a magnificent cement road all the way from Vancouver to San Francisco. I understand road making in the United States of America costs only about one-third the price in Australia.
– We are comparatively new at the business.
– I know that., and I am sure the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) does not wish any manufacturing concern in this country to reap undue profits from our protectionist policy. I should like to see a new cement industry established to come into competition with existing concerns, but that is not likely if we retain these high duties on the requisite machinery plus the natural protection afforded by freight and other charges. The duties proposed in this subitem are atrociously heavy, and I hope the committee will not agree to them. The fact that a number of manufacturing establishments are malting these types of machines in Australia is no justification for the imposition of unfair charge on those responsible for road making, and that class of work in Australia.
– If we have no local industry we shall be at the mercy of any importing monopoly.
– Prior to the introduction of heavy protectionist duties, firms like Thompson and Company, Castlemaine, “Walkers Limited, of Queensland, and others, were prepared to compete with the world. Thompson and Company had one of the finest industries in Australia.
– The honorable member knows that Thompson and Company competed against the outside world only in mining machinery.
– They competed in high class machinery. They produced the finest winding plant in Australia for the Great Boulder Mine fourteen or fifteen years ago. I was Minister for Mines at the time and took part in the opening ceremony of starting that magnificent plant. It was as fine a piece of machinery as could be produced in any part of the world. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mt. Foster) knows that many years ago machinery manufacturing firms in South Australia were in a position to meet outside competition under what was practically a freetrade policy; so there is no justification whatever for the imposition of these duties on the heavier types of machinery. In metropolitan districts such as that represented by the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) the position may not be so difficult as in country areas in Queensland or Western Australia. A gentleman told me this morning!, that freight on maize from
South Africa was 22s. 6d. a ton to Melbourne and Sydney, and 25s. a ton to Brisbane, whilst the freight from North Queensland to Sydney for the same class of cargo was 42s. 6d. I quote this to illustrate the heavy burden that is imposed on distant States in respect of requirements obtained from, say, Melbourne or Sydney. The competition should be fair. People who live in the capital cities where the manufacturing industries are, as a rule located, should be just to the people who live in the country. This heavy burden on machinery so essential for country work is a grievous injustice to country people. The Commonwealth is pledged to heavy expenditure for road-making. Let us then be helpful, and not put obstacles in the way of establishing new cement industries which may put an end to the exploitation of the people. If these companies are making enormous profits the Minister should withdraw the dumping duty; he should not allow cement to be retailed in Australia at a price two and a-half times as great as that which is asked in America, where the rate of wage is probably 70 per cent, higher than it is here. I condemn the action of the Minister.
.- I am sorry that the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) has not framed his amendment in such .a way as to give effect to the promise that was made by the Minister (Mt. Pratten) the other night. We were willing to go with him to a certain point, but I am unable to agree to a reduction of duty on cementmaking . machines. Any industry that reaps a benefit from tha application of the policy of protection should be prepared to apply that policy to another industry. I am surprised that the honorable member for Swan should lend encouragement to an industry that objects to that principle. I regret that I did not hear the whole of the arguments which were advanced hy the Minister in support of his present change of attitude. He has gone back upon a definite promise that he made to the committee, on the strength of which a compromise was agreed to.
– The Minister is giving expression to the will of the committee.
– The will of the committee “was expressed the other night.
– The Minister has acted very unkindly towards honorable members.
Mr.Watt. - He has been very fair.
– I shall not -vote for the amendment, but I shall subsequently endeavour to place the committee in the position that it formerly occupied. Is the Minister adamant in his present decision?
– Yes. I am sorry that my honorablefriendwas not in the chamber when I gave my reasons.
– This is an item upon which there was a clear compromise that satisfied honorable members with the exception of those who sit opposite. We should not be asked to abandon that position.
Question - Thatthe amendment (Mr. Gregory’s) be agreed to - put. The committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
– I want to restore theposition arrived at by the committee on Wednesday night after a full discussion upon the great problem of road-making in Australia. The necessity for good roads is supreme, outweighing all considerations in favour of the retention of the duty of 35 per cent. on road-making machines as set out in the schedule. At any rate, thatwas the general feeling of “the committee on Wednesday -night. In view of the fact that within the next ten years the Commonwealth will be spending £20,000,000 and the States £15.000,000 on roadmaking, the manufacturers of roadmaking machines -will have an unprecedented flow ofbusiness which should enable them to build up their industry without the additional 5 per cent. duty. It is a fundamental principle recognized by all manufacturers that if a manufacturer can secure a great quantity of local business, be can produce his articles much more cheaply than he can otherwise do. A great portion of the £35,000,000 to be spent on road-making in Australia will go to the local manufacturers. There is no sound reason that I can see for departing from our decision to reduce a proposed duty on roadmaking and stone-crushing machines by 5 per cent.
– There was no decision, to do so.
– The Minister’s promise to make the reduction amounted to a decision of the committee. Because of the promise given by the Minister the committee did not take certain action, and in order to restore the arrangement arrived at, I move -
That the sub-item be amended by leaving out the words “road-making machines;stonecrushing machines, with jaws up to . and including 30 inches by 12 incites in size,” with a view to inserting in lieu thereof the following new sub-item : -
And on and after 27th March, 1926: - “ (g.)Road-making machines; stone-crush ing machines, with jaws up to and including 30 inches by 12 inches insize, ad val., (British) 30 per cent. (intermediate) 45 per cent. (general) 50 per cent.”
The duty desired by the Minister would be retained in respect . of all imported machinery except British, but the British rate would be reduced by 5 per cent. The Minister promised to do this on
Wednesday night, and his action was endorsed by the committee.
– Not by the committee, -i
– The reduction I propose would violate no principle of protection. The increased volume of business the manufacturers would get would easily make up for the reduction previously agreed to by the committee.
– On a point of order, I understand that when the committee resumed the discussion of this item this morning’, the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten) obtained leave to withdraw an amendment practically identical with that which has now been submitted by the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers). The honorable member for Swan then moved to reduce the rate of the British duty to 27£ per cent. The committee divided, and defeated the honorable member’s amendment. Is it now competent for an honorable member to move an amendment which the Minister, with the consent of the committee, has already withdrawn?
– I am at a disadvantage, in as much as I was not in the chair this morning, but I rule that the honorable member’s amendment is in order.
– I support the amendment. If it had been put to the vote on Wednesday night it would have been carried. There is no doubt that the majority of honorable members on the Ministerial side regarded the Minister’s proposal as a compromise which he was willing to accept. It is but a small concession to reduce the preferential duty on road-making machines by 5 per cent. Apart from the duty the natural protection afforded to the manufacture of these machines is about 30 per cent., and before the ordinary duty fixed by the tariff is imposed 10 per cent, is added to the invoice price of the imported article. In these circumstances, the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) is asking for a reduction of 5 per cent, on a total protection which really amounts to about 75 per cent. On Wednesday night the Minister practically agreed toto make this reduction.
– It would be a god-send if we could come to a division on . the matter at once.
.- It would be a god-send if the Minister for Trade and Customs would stand to his proposals. We are told that no item has been inserted in the tariff schedule except after most careful . inquiries, but as a result of the debate on the proposed duties on road-making machines, the Minister agreed to a reduction of 5 per cent. This paltry concession did not please honorable members opposite who, at the moment, seem to be running the Parliament. I do not blame them if they can get away with it, but I blame the Government for allowing them to do it. We have had the spectacle of the Minister climbing down. and climbing up with great agility, and it should not require any great effort on his part to climb down again on this matter. I suggest that he should do so now in order to please honorable members sitting in the Ministerial coiner.
.- I support the amendment. I appeal to the Minister for Trade and Customs to return to the decision he reached on Wednesday night in response to the demand from this side of the chamber. Road construction is of paramount importance. There is no municipality in the Commonwealth that is not hampered by the excessive cost of construction. Out of every 20 miles of roads in Australia 19 miles are in a bad condition. Consequently the excessive wear and tear on every form of transport means a big loss to business men of every kind. This loss is of more importance than the loss of an additional 5 per cent, duty to the industry engaged in the manufacture of road-making and stonecrushing machines. The committee would best serve the interests of Australia by agreeing to the amendment.
– I know that honorable members are anxious to get to a division on this amendment, but I cannot allow to go unchallenged the statement of honorable members on the Ministerial side that a 5 per cent, reduction in the duty will not affect the industry. The Country party is strongly opposed to centralization.
– That is why we are fighting this tariff.
– The additional duty has already led to the estab- lishment of a road -making machine factory in Ballarat. The reduction of the duty will bring the industry to an end. There are 60 nien employed in it, and they have already turned out for the Country Roads Board three rollers which have proved to be better than any previously supplied to the board. As a matter of fact the board has just given the factory an order for a fourth machine.
– The up-country factory has an advantage in making roadmaking machines.
– Of course, and we want that advantage to be maintained. Without the increased duty, this industry would not have been started. I believe that if the duty is maintained, 160 men will be employed in the factory at Ballarat, and there will be a reduction in the price of the machines. It was foolish of the Minister for Trade and Customs to listen to a few members of the Country party the other night. I was reminded of the story of the man who thought he would get tons of frogs from a pool, but only succeeded in obtaining two frogs. Honorable members in the Ministerial corner make a great deal of noise, but their numbers are very few indeed, and their views are quite antagonistic to the general feeling of the country. We should encourage country industries. In this case, an industry has been established because of the imposition of an increased duty that the Country party now wishes to abolish.
.- I hope that the Minister will stand to his guns, and nob alter the proposed tariff on this item. The Country party members have said that a reduction of 5 per cent, in the British preferential tariff is only a small item. It would be a very small item so far as country roads are concerned because the increased cost of road-making machinery would be spread over a considerable area. But from a manufacturing view-point, this is indeed a big item. The honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath) has shown that a reduction in the duty would adversely affect the manufacturer of road-making equipment in his electorate. I am surprised at the attitude of the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett). He is evidently opposed to the development of all Aus tralian industries. Only the other night he said, in effect, that Australian whisky was nothing but poison. I hope that the Minister will not accept that sort of dope. Members of the Country party are trying to make him believe that this proposed duty will penalize country districts.
– So it will.
– Let me remind the honorable member of something that happened in his own district. A railway was constructed from Adelaide to Willunga under the guarantee principle, the district councils concerned promising to make good any loss on the line. According to the latest returns, there has been an annual loss of £35,000 on this railway of only 30 miles, and yet these district councils have never been called upon to make good their guarantee. In the same, electorate a railway runs from Adelaide to Victor Harbour. At the last New Years’ Day celebrations at Victor Harbour, the town, by the way, at which Sir Henry Barwell made his famous statement about black labour, the present State Premier promised the residents there a bitumen road from Adelaide, despite the fact that two railways already serve that district, and that there are fewer primary producers there to-day than there were 35 years ago. The honorable member for Barker (Mr. M. Cameron) cannot deny what I am saying. Compared with those things and the tremendous taxation that they have imposed upon the people of South Australia, the effect of the proposed duty will be infinitesimal.’ The honorable member advocates a reduction of 5 per cent, on this item to enable the British manufacturers to compete successfully with our own manufacturers. Rather than accept his advice, and that of the Country party, the Minister should stand to his principles, and be all Australian by insisting that, where possible, we shall manufacture our own machinery. After all, road-making machinery is made here as cheaply as it is anywhere else.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the sub-item (Mr. Rodgers’ s amendment) - put. The committee divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Sub-item (d) of item 176 agreed to.
Postponed’ item 242’ -
Mr.SEABROOK (Franklin) [2.41].- I referred to this item in my general remarks. I realize that the duty is deferred until the 1st of July next; but I wish to know, if it is then imposed, will it be made operative by the Minister, the Tariff Board, or this Parliament?
.- The procedure is that Parliament authorizes the imposition of a deferred duty. I think that the principle first came into existence in connexion with the 1920-21 tariff. The Tariff Board Act provides that before any classification can. be made or before any deferred duty can be imposed, it must be referred to the Tariff Board for investigation and report, the evidence to be taken on oath and in public. The principle of the deferred duty is that it shall not operate until the bulk of theAustralian requirements of the article concerned is made locally. I may say that one or two deferred duties have come into operation during the last two years. A great many have had to be deferred from time ‘to time pending the development of certain industries. It is quite possible that under the principle adopted one or two deferred duties, which were placed on the statute-book in 1921, may not, I am sorry to say, operate for some years to come.
Mr.SEABROOK (Franklin) [2.44].- In 1921 the duty on sheet glass per 100 square feet was 2s., 3s., and 4s. This glass is not manufactured in Australia, Notwithstanding what other people may say, I maintain that the Tariff Board has had no evidence whatever to justify the imposition of the proposed duties of1½d.,1¾d., and 2d. per lb. A case of glass contains 100 square feet. I wish to give the committee some idea of what the increased tariff means. We have always understood that the highest protective duties are imposed in the United States of America,, but the duty proposed in this schedule on glass is 100 per cent. higher than the American duty on glass. The sooner an industry that requires so much protection goes out of existence the better. I wish to see industries established in Australia as much as any one else, bub we are dealing here with, an item which will affect almost every individual in Australia. If this duty is agreed to, every man who builds a house in this country must pay over 100 per cent, more for all the glass he requires. This duty will increase the east of building. I. have here a few figures which will give honorable members some idea of what this item means. The lightest quality of glass imported weighs 16 oz. to the square foot, and the next lightest weighs 21 oz. to the square foot. These two kinds of glass represent nearly 90 per cent, of all the glass imported. The 16-oz. glass is imported in boxes each containing 100 square feet, and the price of a box of this glass in London is 15s. Under this item the duty will be 12s.- 6d. In addition to this, there will be a charge ofl 3s. 8d. for freight, insurance, and wharfage-. The ad valorem duty on a box. of this glass would be 7s-. 5d., and need not be taken, into consideration. The duty under this item, plus freight, will amount to 16a. 2d. on a box of glass which costs .15s. in London. These are actual figures which, cannot be disputed, and they show that the total protection afforded, on. glass of this quality is 107 per cent. The protection on 21-oz. glass amounts to 115 per1 cent. The company that is- asking for this enormous duty has newer made a square foot of sheet glass, and does not intend to do so until this item is passed. Manufacturers who have been making glass for hundreds of years have discarded in its manufacture what is known as the Fourcault system, but that is the very system which the Australian company proposes to install.
– How does the honorable member know that ? He is entirely wrong-.
– I have had reliable information. I am informed that the company proposes to install plant for the Fourcault system of manufacture. It is well known that by the adoption of this- system it is possible to make only 20 per cent, of clean glass that would be suitable for the Australian market. This means that all the bad glass, containing flaws and blows, which would amount to 80 per cent., must be sent to other markets or disposed of here at a loss. That is the reason why the company has asked for suck a high duty. It is putting in an inefficient plant, and for that reason 5s asking for this enormous duty.
– That is not true.
– The honorable member will have an opportunity to disprove what I have said, if he can. The duty proposed is unfair and unnecessary, because the kind of glass to which it refers is not manufactured here, and it would be twenty years before the Australian company could produce enough of it to: meet Australian requirements. Is the Government prepared to impose this tax on the people of Australia for all that time? I am not much concerned about imports from foreign countries, but I do want bo see- the proposed duty on British imports of glass considerably reduced. For the information of honorable members I may say that the quantity of glass imported to Australia, from the United Kingdom in twelve months was 1,858,057 square. feet, and from Belgium and other countries, 9,983, 648 square feet. We have- heard a great deal, from honorable members opposite about the low wages that are paid in England,, but in the glass-manufacturing’ industry there the wages paid are practically equal to those paid in Australia.
– The honorable member should give the wages- paid in Belgium in the industry to be fair.
– The wages paid to unskilled men in the industry in Great Britain are 8s. per day of eight hours; bo semi-skilled workmen, 12s. 2d. per day; and bo skilled labour, 20s. 8d. per day. These figures give an average weekly wage of £4 Is. 6d’., and the average worker, in Australia is paid’ £4 6s. per week. It will be seen from the figures that there is very little difference between the wages paid here and those paid in the glass-manufacturing industry in Great Britain. In Belgium and other countries, the wages paid in the industry are very much lower - as low as 4s’. 2d. per day - and the- operatives have to- work seven days a week. The glass produced in other countries by the Fourcault system is sent bo such countries as China, Japan, India, Russia, where the people are not particular about the quality of glass they use, and it is sold at a very cheap rate. In Australia we want the best glass it is possible to obtain. I hope the Minister will see his way to accept a reduction of these duties, and I move -
That in sub-item (b) the rates as on and after the 1st July, 1926, be omitted with a view to insert in Tien thereof : per lb. (British),½d. ; (intermediate),1½d.; (general). 2d.; or ad val. (British), 30 per cent.; (intermediate), 50 per cent.; (general),60 per cent.
– The manufacture of glass is one of the most important industries that could be established in the Commonwealth. I was at first disposed to take the same view of this item as the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Seabrook) has taken on the information supplied to me; but as the glass-manufacturing industry is to be started in my own electorate, I made further inquiries, and obtained information, which has satisfied me that the Minister is on the right track in submitting these duties to establish this industry. I shall not go into details, but will confine myself to advocacy of the establishment of new industries in this country. No other country in the world has experienced so phenomenal a growth as Australia, and every one must admit that great quantities of glass are required by our people. The honorable member for Franklin has said that we have not produced in Australia one square foot of sheet glass. We have produced other kinds of glass. The company which has been referred to is making ornamental glass, and has now decided to manufacture sheet glass.
– Which is a very different proposition.
– Just so, but the material of which ornamental glass is made is used in the manufacture of sheet glass. This company sent its ablest representative on two trips through the great glass-producing countries of the world to secure the best information on its manufacture. The company has spent nearly £10,000 to secure that information, and it is therefore unthinkable that it would install an- old-fashioned system for the manufacture of glass. It is composed of business men, and gives the assurance that it will use the latest appliances to produce the best possible glass.
– Sheet glass?
– Yes, sheet glass. As soon as this item is passed the company will send cables to obtain the best and most up-to-date machinery. We ought to be proud of a company that is prepared to establish a new industry in Australia. This company is putting nearly £300,000 into the industry, will employ a large staff of men, and will make this country self-contained so far as its requirements of glass are concerned. I cannot understand honorable members objecting to proposals intended to enable us to provide our own requirements. We have the necessary sand and other elements required for the manufacture of sheet glass, and we should be proud to know that there is a company that has the courage to try to establish the industry. What is proposed is a deferred duty, and it will not operate unless the works are established and sheet glass is manufactured there.
– And of a satisfactory quality.
– This Parliament takes no risks in the matter. The Government is responsible to this House, and- before this duty is put into operation the factory must be erected and glass of a satisfactory quality turned out. The company has acquired a considerable block of land in my electorate, and a regular mountain of sand that is as good for the manufacture of glass as any to be found elsewhere. The company is prepared to put sheet glass on the market as cheaply as we can obtain it now. I trust the Minister will stand by the item and give Australian workmen an opportunity ‘ toproduce an article which has not been produced here before.
.- The Government will adhere to the duties mentioned in the schedule, but I assure the honorable member for Franklin that the deferred duty will not operate until the local glass is satisfactory in quality and quantity.
.- The honorable member for South Sydney seems prepared to believe almost any story that is told to him.
– The freetraders have been whispering some nice stories in the honorable member’s ears.
– The remarks and interjections of the honorable member show that he does not know what he is talking about. The honorable member for South Sydney exhibited samples of fancy glass, and said, “If an Australian firm can make that, it can make sheet glass.” Fancy and sheet glass are made by entirely different processes. In the production of fancy glass, the molten material is run from the furnace into small moulds and compressed into shape. The making of sheet glass is a very much more complicated process.
– If the local company cannot make sheet glass the duty will not operate.
– Glass is one of the most difficult materials to run in a molten state, because the slightest changes in temperature cause variations in the stresses, and prevent the production of a uniform product. According to the evidence given before the Tariff Board by the applicants for this duty, they intend to employ the Fourcault process, and that, the honorable member for South Sydney says, is the best in the world. It is not. It was introduced in 1902, and has not anywhere produced high class sheet glass in sufficient or regular quantities.
– In Belgium alone fourteen firms are utilizing that process.
– It has been tried in almost every country in the world, and it has been abandoned by the best glass makers. It is still in use in Belgium, Czecho-Slovakia, and some other countries, because although they get only 20 per cent. of first class glass from it, they can sell the other SO per cent., with its stresses, lines, and faults, to adjoining countries whose standards are less advanced than our own. The process employed in England,which is the best in the world, is extraordinarily difficult and complicated. The molten glass is blown out of the furnace by compressed air into elongated cylindrical forms. These cylinders can be uniformly heated in all parts, and maintained at an equal temperature. After reheating they are cut longitudinally and pressed or rolled flat, and then annealed in the ovens. Obviously, such a complicated process would not be resorted to unless it were found essential to good results.
– The men who are about to start the manufacture of sheet glass in Australia are not new chums.
– They are. The expert towhom the honorable member has referred has had no experience, except in bottle blowing.
– Does he not know as much as the honorable member?
– It is evident that he knows more about the business than honorable members opposite, when he can stuff such extraordinary stories down their throats and induce them to support the imposition of a heavy duty.
– In fairness, the honorable member should recognize that the manufacturers cannot get the benefit of the duty until they make good.
– And who is to judge whether Or not they make good? This proposal has been already favorably reported upon by the Tariff Board, which did not even take into account the defects of theFourcault process, and eventually the. board will be asked to decide whether its own recommendation is producing satisfactory results. Repeatedly I have pointed out that the members of the board cannot be experts on all subjects, and in dealing with matters of which they have no knowledge, their inclination is to accept the statements put before them by interested parties. If the board accepts theFourcault process as one of the best and most up to date in the world, it casts a grave doubt upon its knowledge and judgment.
– The leading glass manufacturers of all countries are adopting this process.
– They are not. With company after company it has been a failure, andit is only effectively and economically employed by manufacturers who can get rid of a large proportion of their products in countries that do not demand an article of high quality. Australia has a high standard in building construction, and should endeavour to maintain it, but that standard will disappear if the competition of the best quality of glass is shut out. British sheet glass sets the highest standard for the world, and it supplies 20 per cent. of Australian requirements. There is plenty of scope for extra duties on the other 80 per cent.
– Belgium supplies that 80 per cent.
– I am not offering any opposition to the intermediate and general tariffs, but I am asking for a reduction of duty in respect of British sheet glass. Protectionists always profess to advocate what is best and most up to date, and they sneer at freetraders as antiquated. Two hundred and fifty years ago, a window tax was introduced into Europe, and it is always quoted as an in- stance of the antiquated ideas and barbarism of an earlier age. It was eventually abolished because of its evil effects upon the health of the community. It has remained for the protectionists of to-day to revive the antiquated idea of a tax on windows.
– A tax on wind.
– The honorable member is not prepared to rise and pit his wind against mine. Throughout this tariff debate he has not been game to rise and say one -word in favour of these prohibitive duties. This duty will add to the cost of housing, and I hope that henceforth protectionists who have revived the tax on windows will not boast of their up-to-dateness.
– I resent the imputation by the honorable member for Perth. He knows that Ministers, other than the Minister in charge of the tariff, are not supposed to speak on these items.
– Then the honorable ‘member should keep quiet altogether.
– The honorable member regards himself as an authority on everything that comes before the chamber.
– I rise to a point of order. Are the remarks of the Honorary Minister relevant to the item?
– The Honorary Minister is not addressing himself to the item, and I ask him to do so.
– I am making a personal explanation. I resent the imputation contained in the statement that I have sat silent becauseI was not game to say anything about the tariff. These proposals were discussed and approved by Cabinet, and theMinisterf or Trade and Customs is the spokesman of Cabinet. If the honorable member for Perth would discuss the tariffreasonably and temperately, and not try to ram his own ideas down the throats of everybody else, business would proceed much better.
.- I resent -the anti-Australian remarks of the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann). He and members of the Country party have no sympathy with Australian secondary industries. In connexion with the growing of wheat or cotton or wool, considerations of inefficiency never enter their minds; but when we are talking of the milling of wheat or the weaving of woollen and cotton goods, those honorable members do nothing but charge Australian secondary producers with inefficiency. Being a good Australian, I have faith in my country, and in its captains of industry. The honorable member has said that the process employed in the manufacture of glass articles pressed is different from that used in the manufacture of sheet glass. It was unnecessary for him to tell us that School boys and girls in the third class know that there is a difference between the two processes. The honorable member has endeavoured to prejudice the committee on this item. He said that the company which is about to undertake the manufacture of sheet glass has not taken all the difficulties into consideration. I anticipate that there will be certain difficulties, but I have faith in the men who are prepared to invest from £250,000 to £300,000 in the business. Many skilled men in the glass-making industry are walking the streets of Sydney unemployed. Their condition is due to the heavy importations of glass from England and Belgium. Specially trained experts in the manufacture of sheet glass have been brought out to this country by this company at great expense. They are quite satisfied with the prospect, and are showing greater faith in Australia than is shown by the honorable member for Perth, who claims to be an Australian. I am satisfied that if the duty is imposed Australia will, withintwelve months, be producing sheet glass comparable with the best Belgian sheet glass. I hope that the committee will pass the item, and, by so doing, will demonstrate its faith in Australian industries and Australia’s captains of industry. Honorable members may safely ignore the antiquated ideas of the honorable member for Perth.
.- I wish to correct one or two errors made by the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann). He asked whether the articles placed on the table were intended to illustrate the manufacture of sheet glass. Theywere not. They are here to support a request that the Minister should extend protection to the manufacturers ofthem. At present, the manufacturers of these articles have no protection; ‘they have, apparently, been overlooked. I have been, assured that they can employ 500 more men in the existing works if they are given protection. I hope the Minister will consider their request, and grant it when the schedule reaches another place. The examples of blown and pressed glass displayed on the table are a credit to the manufacturers of them. The honorable member for Perth rushed in with his very limited knowledge.
– - The honorable member is issuing his instructions.
– I am making a request. I do not like the word “ instructions.” Unlike the honorable member for Perth, I do not pretend to be an expert, but I have enough technical knowledge to know that when he described the Fourcault process be did not describe it correctly. He said it wag a process in which glass was raffed out flat.
– Did I? The honorable member had better make quite sure of that.
– As a matter of fact, it is drawn out flat. There is a great difference. If I misunderstood the honorable member, I am sorry.
– I believe it is drawn out between rollers.
– It is drawn, but not hammered, out. I have seen, two samples of this glass, and what impressed me was that one could not see the marks, due to the hammering system, under the old method.
– There is no such thing as hammered glass.
– If the honorable member knew anything about it, he would know that there is.
– What kind of a hammer is used ?
– A mallet, not a sledge hammer, such as ought to be used on the honorable member ! The committee, I think, can be quite satisfied about the system, which is in operation elsewhere. I have a copy of a cablegram sent by an expert in London to the Australian glass manufacturers, in which it is stated that the process has been established, and has proved a success. The cablegram is as follows: -
Fourcault process definitely established and proved a success-. Fourteen works Belgium alone operating: or construction “ present time, including large plant entirely financed by Plate Glass Company. Fourcault output Belgium now 200,000,000 feet per year.
The cablegram proceeds to substantiate that statement, and shows that the system is established as a success in other countries* If that is true, the Government should give these people the protection they are seeking. 1 hope, also, that the Minister will provide protection for the manufacturers of pressed and blown glass.
Item agreed to.
Postponed item 262 (Marble).
.- 1 am pleased to observe that the Minister has given some assistance to the marble industry by increasing the rate of duty. He ha3 granted, a 10 per cent, increase on slabs, scantlings, or blocks, sawn on one or two faces; a 10 per cent, increase on slabs, scantlings, or blocks, sawn on one or more faces, and one or more edges or end’s ; and 5 per cent, on wrought marble n.e.i. The proposed, increase is, however, inadequate. In Central Queensland there are marble quarries in. which, local people have invested large sums of money,, and there are also marble quarries in the Angaston district of South Australia. There has been a considerable increase in importations of marble during recent years. In. 1913 we imported £51,775 worth of marble, and in 1925, £77.400 worth. Importations of marble from Italy in 1921-2 were: In rough, £453; sawn, £22,846; and wrought, £9,950, making- a total of £33,249. For 1923-4 the figures were-: In rough, £247; sawn, £28,375; and wrought, £15,683, making a total of £44,260. In 1923-4 the importations from Italy were £11,000 in excess of those for 1921-2. The request for an increase in the duty on imported marble was made on the- ground of depreciation, of currency in Italy, inability to impose a dumping duty, low wages in Italy, and high rates of freights in Australia. A number of Australian marble companies have suffered considerably as- a result of inadequate protection. A. sum of £30,000 has been invested in the quarries in Central Queensland, and probably a similar amount in South Australia. Owing to the depreciated currency in Italy, the old protection is quite inadequate, and has closed down the Australian quarries. The normal rate of Italian currency is 25.23 lire to the £1, but it is now, approximately, 140 to the £1. The Tariff Board made its last inquiry into the need for protection for the marble industry on 14th and 30th January, 1925. On 14th January there was only one witness, who was from the Angaston Marble Company, of South Australia. No witnesses were examined in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, or Rockhampton. The board ought to have visited Rockhampton. It visited the South Australian marble quarries, but did not go to Central Queensland. My chief request to the Minister is that he should arrange for the Tariff Board, the next time it is in Brisbane, and, if possible, before the schedule is considered in another place, to visit Central Queensland, and make personal inquiries into the operations at the marble quarries there. When the board; as far back as 1923, wanted to find out certain things about the Queensland quarries, it sent a telegram to the sub-collector of Customs in Rockhampton, who collected the information, and telegraphed it to the Customs Department in Melbourne. Members of the board would certainly be greatly impressed if they could see the Central Queensland quarries. I have some photographs taken last January of the quarries, and the marble from them. I hand them to the Minister for his edification. Machinery that cost about £30,000 is now lying idle. When the ex-Minister for Trade and Customs (the late Sir Austin Chapman) visited Rockhampton on the 27th October, 1923, he received a deputation representing the marble interests of Central Queensland, and in the course of his reply lie stated -
Regarding the work of the Tarin” Board. I desire to explain that it inquires into and reports upon matters referred to it, and then makes a recommendation to the Minister.
But I point out that no personal inspection of the marble deposits in Central Queensland was made by either the Minister or the board. The following is an extract from a letter from the board, dated December, 1923 : -
I beg to inform you that it has not been found possible to impose dumping duty on marble imported from Italy: but the question of providing greater protection for the local industry by an increased duty is receiving consideration, and will be dealt with in connexion with the next revision of the tariff.
No inspection, however, was made of the Queensland quarries by the board. Last year Australia sent £80,000 to other countries for marble, and I submit that we should endeavour to keep that trade within the Commonwealth. In Central Queensland no less than 18,000,000 tons of the finest marble in the world is procurable; yet every decade Australia purchases marble abroad to the value of at least £1,000,000. It is impossible for the Australian quarries to cope with the competition from Italy, where the wages paid in this industry are from 7 to 12 lire a day. On the 17th March the Italian currency equalled 121 lire to the pound sterling, and last July it was as high as 145 lire to the £1 . When the exchange is normal the lira equals 9d. ; but at the present time it amounts to only 2d., which means that the wages now paid in Italy are equal to only ls. 6d. a day. The Italian Government has imposed an export duty on all rough marble sent out of that country, lt has done this in order to encourage employment in Italy in connexion with the working of the marble. Some of the best geologists in Australia have reported very favorably on the quality of the marble found in Central Queensland. Mr. E. C. Saint-Smith, F.S.T.O., Government Geologist of Queensland, reporting on the 15th May, 1921, on the deposit of marble in Central Queeusland, stated -
Quite apart from the marble obtainable from other leases, there can be no dou’bt whatever that these two quarries alone would not be worked out in 50 years.
I have been informed by those associated with the industry in Central Queensland that a sample of the Ulam Carrara marble was sent to Mr. Harold Parker, the Australian sculptor. Having exhaustively tested it, he furnished the Central Queensland syndicate with the following opinion : -
I have now given the block of white marble that you were good enough to send me a trial, as promised. I have pleasure in reporting to you that, in my opinion, it is very good quality, and quite suitable for sculpture. . . . . It is very like the statuary marble of Greece, and should have a great future before it for buildings, monuments, &c.
For a few years after the war the Australian marble quarries obtained a fairly good market in this country, and some of the importing firms reported favorably on the Queensland products; but, owing to the depreciation of Italian currency, and the refusal of the Commonwealth Government, to impose dumping duties, thousands of tons of cheap Italian marble were imported until it became impossible for the Australian quarries to compete against the Italian product. Dumping duties would probably have been imposed had it not been for the existence of a treaty between Great Britain and Italy, dating back to 1883. Touching on this matter, the Tariff Board reported -
In considering the request for a higher duty, it would seem necessary to bear in mind the fact that the currency of Italy has greatly depreciated, and that the price of Australian marble has been reduced below a payable level in order to meet the competition from Italy. Two Australian companies at least have been unable to carry on in opposition to Italy. If it were not for the treaty between Italy and England, which prevents Australia charging dumping duty on goods from Italy, it seems very probable that the provisions of the Industries Preservation Act would be applied to marble from Italy.
It seems to me that that treaty should not have been allowed to influence the action of the Government, since it was made before the establishment of federation. The duty on imported marble provided in the schedule before the committee should be increased by at least 5 per cent. All I ask at this stage is that the Minister arrange for the Tariff Board or one of its officers to report on the Central Queensland, quarries by the time the consideration of the schedule is begun in the Senate. I should like the board, if possible, to visitRockhampton and submit a report, which could be considered by the Government and the Senate. Let me quote from other letters, which show that marble from Central Queensland was highly spoken of by firms using it a few years ago. Messrs. D. W. Custer and Company, of Sydney, on the 18th February, 1921, wrote as follows : -
The samples show a quality equal in texture to most of the Italian marble imported into Australia, and should find a ready sale amongst the monumental and building trades.
Messrs. Gunnerson Proprietary Limited, of Melbourne, stated on the 1st September. 1921-
We are pleased to say that the quality of the marble shipped per s.s. Mackarra was quite satisfactory, the colour being good, and the marble hard and firm.
Messrs. William Train and Company, of South Melbourne, reported on the 4th February, 1922 -
The last blocks of marble received from you have turned out well, and we are carving a soldier out of it. Our sculptor says he is well pleased with it, and considers it as good as the imported marble.
It may be objected that these laymen are not competent to give an expert opinion. I shall, therefore, quote the view of Professor H. C. Richards, D.Sc., of the University of Queensland. He states -
From the dressed specimens, it is seen that the marble can be worked very well indeed, and there is no evidence of cracks or brecciation. Analysis shows Queensland marble equal to any in the world.
The marble quarried in New South Wales and South Australia has also been the subject of favorable comment; and now I hope the Minister will take steps to have a request for an additional increase of duty made by the Senate.
– The commitments of the Tariff Board are such as would preclude the possibility of an inspection of the marble deposits in Central Queensland before the consideration of the tariffschedule by the Senate. I remind the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde) that the enthusiastic representatives of Queensland in the other branch of the legislature will, no doubt, see that the claims of the marble companies in that State are not overlooked.
Item agreed to.
Postponed item 359 -
– I move -
That the item be amended by adding the following: -
And on and after 27th March, 1926-
The effect of the amendment would be to include batteries as well as rubber tires under sub-item d (4). Thiswould encourage the manufacture in Australia of batteries, which -would come under another item. Unassembled chassis would, be admitted free under the British preferential rate if an assurance was given that they would be equipped -with Australianmade tires and batteries. The same security should be given with regard to the assembled chassis as with the unassembled chassis, namely, that they should be fitted with Australian-made tires and batteries. The object of the amendment is to encourage the use of locally manufactured equipment, and the assembling of motor cars in Australia.
– Is that position not already met by the duty on tires and batteries ?
– I do not think so. A duty is placed on tires in order to protect the Australian tire industry. I want to encourage chassis being imported without tires.
– Would it not be difficult to ensure that Australian tires would be put on the chassis.
– No. In 1934-5, over 70,000 chassis were imported into Australia, 75 per cent. of which were rubber shod. That means that 210,000 tires entered Australia during that year, their value being about £1,842,360. Yet motor tires are manufactured in Australia. I admit that the -whole of Australia’s requirements could not be met at once, but they could be met within sis months. This regulation should be deferred for that time. Should my amendment be agreed to, £500,000 more capital would be invested in this industry, and employment given to a greater number of workmen. I ask the Minister to give it favorable consideration.
– I am afraid the Government cannot accept the amendment, because itwould interfere with our policy of giving substantial preference to the Mother Country in respect of motor cars, if we can do so and still preserve the interests of Australia. For the reason that during -the war period the British motor industry -was engaged in the manufacture of munitions, it suffered from the competition of the United States of America. In spite of what has beensaid here, it is the earnest desire of the Government to encourage British trade with Australia; these duties have been designed to give the British motor car industry the maximum encouragement. The assembling of British motor cars in Australia has commenced, and I believe that under the Government’s proposals the assembling of American motor cars in Australia will proceed . at a greater rate than heretofore. During . recent years Ford, Dodge Brothers, and other makes of motor cars have been assembled here. The margin between unassembled and assembled chassis before the introduction of this schedule was only 2½ per cent., whereas under this tariff that margin is increased to 5 per cent. Seeing that great developments have taken place in the assembling of chassis in Australia with a margin of 2½ per cent. only, we should expect even greater developments with amargin of 5 per cent. The question of the manufacture of tires in Australia is receiving the earnest attention of the department. Although I am unable to say so definitely, I am of the opinion that the Australian tire factories are already working to their utmost capacity. I understand that further developments are projected. Ifthe honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) will withdraw his amendment, I promise him that the Tariff Board willkeep closely in touch with developments, and that I shall have no hesitation whatever insubmitting to the Government any proposal considered necessary in the interests of Australia. Notwithstanding what has been said during this debate, motor cars can be bought in Australia today at prices which are very much lower than was the case when these duties were first imposed. The Government is very reluctant to alter its policy regarding preference to British motor cars. A reduction of the preference to Great Britain would not help the assembling of motor cars in Australia. I realize that the manufacture of motor tires in Australia is an ‘important industry. If the Australian factories can add to their production, I shall see that their interests are conserved.
Mr.Fenton. - One firm has already increased its capital by £500,000 in anticipation of increased business. That firm should he assisted.
– I am aware that one firm has increased its capital-; but it will probably be twelve months before it can increase its output of tires. In the circumstances, I am afraid that the amendment, if carried, would have very little practical result.
-Can the Minister give us an assurance that the assembling of British chassis will be undertaken in Australia to any great extent in the near future?
– Yesterday I received from the Association of British Manufacturers a memorandum in. which they assured me that the assembling in Australia of British motor cars was now being carried outby Barlow Motors Limited, F. McOwan and Company Proprietary Limited, Thornycrofts, and Rohinson Motors Proprietary Limited. The honorable member may see the original letter.
– I am astonished at the attitude adopted by the Minister. This is one of the most im portant items in the schedule, both in so far as it affects our secondary industries and in its relation to the unfavorable trade balance with the United States of America. In the manufacture of motor tires, the United States of America is probably our principal competitor. Figures supplied bythe Tariff Board show that last year motor tires to the approximatevalue of over £1,800,000 entered Australia on imported chassis.
-Duty was paid on those tires
– Had their entry been prohibited by a higher duty on the rubber-shod chassis, as suggested by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin)., that trade would have been captured for Australia. The honorable member’s proposal is to defer this duty for six months, to enable our manufacturers to increase their plant to meet the increased demand for tires in Australia. This motion is the result of careful consideration, not only by honorable members on this side, hut also by some honorable members on the Government benches who have been consulted. It reserves a proper ratio of preference; it does not destroy British preference as statedby the Minister.
– I did not say that.
-Rather does it preserve British preference.
– It reduces that preference from 12½ per cent. to 5 per cent.
– We say that unassembled chassis, not including rubber tires and batteries, if security is given that they are to be equippedwith Australian tires and batteries, should be admitted at the following rates: - British, free.; intermediate, 2½ per cent.; foreign, 5 per cent. The assembling in Australia of all the motor cars used in this country would result in greatly increased employment. So far as tires are concerned, an unanswerable case has been made out.
– Yes, when the additional tires can be made here.
– We ask only that the duty be deferred for six months, by which time, as the Minister is aware, it will be possible to manufacture in Australia all the tires we require. I should have preferred a motion prohibiting the importation of anything in connexion with motor chassis that can be manufactured in Australia, but, unfortunately, the tariff is being rushed through, and there is no time for a full discussion. Tires and batteries are manufactured in Australia.
– Bumpers and shockabsorbers are also made here, and to a greater extent than are batteries.
– I should be glad if the honorable member were successful in adding them to the list. A duty hay to be paid on tires, whether attached to the chassis or imported separately, the rate being, British ls. 6d., intermediate 2s., and general 2s. 6d. per lb. Batteries are admitted free if attached to the chassis, being deemed part of the chassis; but replacement batteries, imported separately as such, are subject to a specific duty of British 27£ per cent., intermediate 35 per cent., and general 40 per cent. As batteries are satisfactorily manufactured in Australia, it is an anomaly. Batteries, like tires, should be dutiable whether imported separately or not. Half a dozen firms are manufacturing motor car batteries, and among them the Clyde Engineering Company; but their sales are confined to replacements when the original batteries are worn out. As batteries are manufactured in Australia, the same conditions should apply to them as to tires. According to the evidence given before the Tariff Board, for the year ended the 31st December, 1924, 72,551 chassis were imported into Australia,, each fitted with a battery, which, at the American cost of £6 15s., gives the total value of £489,719 in respect of batteries alone, or nearly half a million of money. The manufacturers in Australia can produce all the batteries required to meet the demand in the Commonwealth. It was stated in evidence before the Tariff Board that one firm could increase its output from 7,000 to 60,000 a year within 60 days. As no less than 80,000 batteries are used in Australia every year, this industry is of the greatest possible importance. Batteries are used for various purposes, including wireless, and I earnestly trust that if for political considerations the Minister cannot accept this amendment he will allow the question to be determined by a free vote. As the committee has shown great patriotism in its desire to help Australian industries in directions where the economic conditions and the value of the production are far less than in this particular instance, I trust that it will be decided to allow the deferred duty to operate. If it is found impracticable the Minister can bring down a recommendation later, but he should accept this amendment, which has been thoroughly examined by honorable members on both sides of the chamber, and has also received the consideration of technical officers. I trust that the amendment will be carried in spite of the difficulties which the Minister has raised concerning it.
.- I heartily agree with the sentiments expressed by the Minister (Mr. Pratten) in this respect, but I think the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) has gone a little too far with his amendment. If the honorable member had left the duty on assembled chassis as it is, Britain would still have had the preference of 12J per cent. If the honorable member had made the duty payable on unassembled chassis under the general tariff 1 per cent., the proposal would probably have met with the Minister’s approval. Preference should be given to unassembled chassis so that the work of assembling would be done in Australia. Most of the factories assembling chassis would, I am sure, give an undertaking to use Australian tires and bodies, and thus a tremendous amount of work would be provided. I trust the Minister will do something in this respect.
– I am in agreement with a great deal that has been said by the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Coleman), but will not vote to reduce the present British preference. If under this proposal Great Britain will receive the same preference as before, I will support it.
.- Do I understand that the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) wishes to restore the rates so that they will be British free, intermediate 5 per cent., and general 1 per cent. ? The rates for unassembled chassis are - British, 5 per cent.; intermediate, 10 per cent.; and general, 12½ per cent. We wish to give preference to unassembled chassis, in connexion with which an undertaking is given by those assembling them that they will use Australian tires and bodies. If the right honorable member wishes to restore the British preference, the rates could be made British, free; intermediate, 5 per cent.; and general, 7½ per cent.
– I wish the British manufacturer to receive preference over others.
– On unassembled chassis, the rates could be made - British, free; intermediate, 5 per cent.; and general 7½ per cent. to those using Australian material in assembling, which would preserve the same preference as between 5 per cent., 10 per cent., and 12½ per cent.
.- Even in its amended form the amendment reduces the margin of British preference, because the proposal in the schedule is that the rates on unassembled chassis shall be British, free; intermediate, 7½ per cent.; and general, 12½ per cent. Therefore, the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin), that the rates shall be British, free, intermediate 5’ per cent., and general 7½ per cent., will reduce the intermediate rate by 2½ per cent. and the general rate by 5 per cent. Whichever proposal is adopted, it will have the effect of reducing British preference.
– I agree with the remarks of the honorable member for. Gippsland (Mr. Paterson), and, if the committee will allow this item to go through in its present form, the department and the Tariff Board, which is closely in touch with the development of the manufacture of motor parts and tires in. Australia, will further consider the matter. I shall give an undertaking that it will not be lost sight of, and if we can do anything–
– Can the Minister assure us that if, after consideration, he is satisfied that some such amendment is necessary, effect will be given toour wishes when the tariff is before another place?
– I am afraid I cannot give that assurance, because the time in which a full inquiry can be conducted is limited. I can, however, assure the honorable member that the ultimate goal of the Government is the manufacture of an all-Australian motor car.
Item agreed to.
Preliminary paragraphs agreed to.
Excise tariff agreed to.
Motion (by Mr. Pratten) proposed -
That on and after the first day of July, One thousand nine hundred and twenty-six, at nine o’clock in the forenoon, Victorian time, in lieu of the duties of Customs imposedby the Customs Tariff (South African Preference) 1906, and the tariff proposals proposed in the House of Representatives on the following dates, namely: - 3rd December, 1914 (relating to the tariff on goods imported from, and the produce or manufacture of, the Union of South Africa) ; and 25th September,1918 (relating to the tariff on goods imported from, and the produce or manufacture of, the Union of South Africa), upon goods to which that act or either of those proposals applies, there be collected on those goods the duties of Customs imposed by the Customs Tariff 1921-1924, or, where the duties imposed by that act are amended by the amendment to which this resolution applies, the duties of Customs imposed by that act as so amended.
This resolution applies to the first amendment to the Customs Tariff 1921-1024, passed after the date of this resolution.
For the purposes of this resolution, duties of Customs collected in pursuance of the tariff proposals proposed in the House of Representatives on the 3rd March, 1926, or of any amendments to those proposals, shall be deemed to be duties of Customs imposed by an amendment of the Customs Tariff 1921-1924.
.- I do not think one honorable member heard what the Minister said. I protest against business being conducted in this way. It happens too frequently. The motion was in print, and could have been circulated in time for honorable members to study it properly.
– The Minister explained the whole matter during the general debate on the tariffschedule.
– He may or may not have done so. I could not hear what he was talking about.
– I heard him well.
– And so did I.
– The honorable members must be blessed with better hearing powers than I have. I frankly confess that I do not trust the Minister for Trade and Customs in regard to tariff matters, for I know what his views are.
– In fairness to myself, I think I ought to say that the South African Trade Treaty has been referred to frequently in out debates this week. I can remember a full hour when nothing else was discusssed. I give the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) my assurance that the motion only gives effect to the expressed wishes of honorable members.
– I regard the introduction of this motion as a fulfilment of an assurance that the Minister gave us while we were engaged on the general tariff debate. The honorable member for Swan is in a maze, or he would know that many primary producers throughout the country will welcome the adoption of this- motion. We have discussed the maize industry at great length this week, and now we are doing something definite to assist it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Pratten) agreed to: -
That the resolution with respect to duties of Customs be now re-committed to the Committee of Ways and Means for the purpose of including a proposed new item numbered 415a,. and for further amending sub-item numbered 419 (e ) .
In committee (Recommittal) :
– I move -
That the Following new item be included to follow item numbered 410: -
Whilst this will impose on. the department a considerable amount of responsibility in administration, it will obviate many of. the difficulties and apparent injustices that have occurred in the past.
New item agreed to.
Item 419, sub-item (e) -
.- I move-
That the item be amended by adding the following sub-item (e) : -
This will give effect to the intention of the committee as indicated last night.
– Is it a deferred duty?
– Yes, pending inquiries by the department concerning allegations of inferior quality.
Amendment agreed to.
Sub-item, as amended, agreed to.
Standing Orders suspended.
That Mr. Pratten and Mr. Bruce do prepare and bring in Bills to carry out the foregoing resolutions.
Bill presented by Mr. Pratten and passed through all its stages without amendment or debate.
Bill presented by Mr. Pratten and passed through all its stages without amendment or debate.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce), by leave, agreed to -
That leave of absence be given to every member of the House of Representatives from the determination of this sitting of the House to the date of its next sitting.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until a date and hour to be fixed by Mr. Speaker. which time of meeting shall be notified by Mr. Speaker to each member by telegram or letter.
– I move -
That in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act 1913-21, it is expedient to carry out the following work - “ Transfer of Postal Department’s telegraph lines between Perth and Adelaide to transcontinental railway route,” which was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, and on which the committee duly reported to this House the result of its investigation.
I have already given the House full information concerning the proposal, so it is unnecessary that I should repeat the reasons for the transfer of the lines.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act 1913-21 the following proposed work be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for investigation and report, viz.: - “South Melbourne (Victoria) - Erection of Postal workshops.”
This is a proposal to erect at South Melbourne a building to accommodate the various branches of the postal, telegraph, and telephone workshops. . The proposed site is State-owned property in Power and Moore streets, South Melbourne, which the Commonwealth intends to lease from the State for an extended period. The present accommodation for mechanics is inadequate and unsuitable. The two main workshops are situated in different parts of the city, the telephone workshops being at the General Post Office, Spencerstreet, and the telegraph workshops at Jolimont. This separation of activities causes considerable inconvenience and added expense. The proposed building will provide better accommodation, and allow for future expansion. Previously a scheme for the erection, as an extension of the General Post Office, Spencer-street, Melbourne, of a building for ‘workshop accommodation was investigated, and reported upon by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, but the proposal was abandoned by the PostmasterGeneral’s Department in favour of the one now under review. The proposed building is a simply designed concrete structure of one storey, providing a working space of 50,000 square feet. An approximate estimate of the cost is £40,000, including accessory engineering services.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act 1913-2,1, the following proposed work bo referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for investigation and report, viz., the erection of an automatic telephone exchange at Hobart, Tasmania.
It is proposed to erect a telephone exchange building on a site which has been acquired at the corner of Harrington and Davies streets, Hobart, and to install therein an automatic telephone switching system, together with necessary engineering services, including air-conditioning, beating, de-humidifying, and compressed air cleaning plant. The existing manual exchange which serves the subscribers in the Hobart telephone exchange area will reach the limit of its capacity by about 1928, and it is impracticable, owing to building limitations, to extend the existing plant in the present building. The new installation will provide an up to date and more efficient service for subscribers. The initial equipment of the exchange will be 4,100 subscribers’ lines. This will be capable of extension to an ultimate capacity of 7,000 lines, thereby allowing for anticipated development in the area over a period of 20 years. The actual total revenue received for the year ended 30th June, 1925, was £33,243, and it is anticipated that the annual revenue, based on the estimated number of lines connected on the undermentioned dates, will be as follows: -
The proposed building is a simplydesigned, fire-proof structure of five floors of brick, with concrete floors. The estimated cost of the scheme is -
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
On behalf of the Government, I express appreciation of the assistance which every honorable member in this House has given us during the almost continuous sittings of the last few days. I recognize that it is the duty of honorable members of the Opposition to obstruct, but, to a certain extent, they forgot their natural instincts, and allowed a very valuable measure to be placed on the statute-book for the benefit of Australian industries. The Government will not in any sense take that action as a precedent. We shall expect to find them in their natural mood when the House reassembles.
.- The Wackett-Widgeon flying boat, as honorable members know, was constructed by the Royal Australian Air Force. Originally it had an engine of 230 horsepower. Can the Minister for Defence (Sir Neville Howse) state whether that engine was sufficiently strong to carry -a pilot and four passengers, or was the machine under-powered? 11 it was under-powered, has it been replaced by a 360-horse-power Rolls-Royce engine? I understand that Flight-Lieutenant Mein- tyre and a number of senior officers of the Royal Australian Air Force -went to Sydney to hold further tests of the machine. Have those tests been completed 1 If they have, what was the result?
.- The tests to which the honorable member referred are still proceeding. If he will write to me, I shall be very pleased to furnish him with information relating to those tests when they have been completed.
.- Honorable members of the Opposition appreciate the thanks of the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), but remind him that they did not require them. We were working, U0t for the Government, but for Australia and its industries. There would have been no fight on the tariff had it not been that our place as an Opposition was taken by honorable members of the Country party who sit in the corner opposite. Those honorable members not only opposed, but obstructed business, although they went to the country recently under the leadership of the Prime Minister, and, as a part of the Government, pledged to the programme that was put before the country by the right honorable gentleman. The mandate which they received was forgotten by them immediately they took their seats in this House. I can assure the Prime Minister that whenever the Government comes down with a measure that is in the interests of Australia and its development it will find us, not opposing, but cooperating with, it.
.- I hod no desire to speak, but I cannot refrain from telling the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) that honorable members of the Country party went to the country at the recent elections in the interests 5f the Empire, of which Australia is a part, and with a keen desire to see returned to this Parliament a party that would introduce legislation in the interests of this country. The tariff was quite a dead letter. We are unable to congratulate the Government upon the tariff that it has passed. I look forward with some dismay to a period of depression, because I feel that the heavy imposts that are to be put upon certain key industries will make manufacturing in
Australia very difficult. We shall, however, be able to show the people of Australia that this policy of very high protection is ruining the country. I hope that the knowledge which is being gained by the people will lead them to return to this Parliament in the near future a Government that will exhibit a far greater sense of proportion than has been shown during the lost week, and realize that a moderate tariff is of greater advantage to Australia than the heavy duties which have been imposed.
– I regret that my attempt to say a courteous word should have provoked a debate. Fortunately, it did not last very long. It was quite unnecessary for the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) to speak to the motion. The remarks of the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) were merely an indication of professional jealousy of the way in which honorable members of the Country party had carried on their obstruction.
– Before putting the motion, I express the hope that honorable members have appreciated the improvement in the ventilation of the chamber during the last few weeks. I consider that it has been better than at any previous time in the history of the Commonwealth Parliament. -
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear!
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.40 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 26 March 1926, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1926/19260326_reps_10_113/>.