12th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Norman Makin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and offered prayers.
– Having regard to the reports of the proceedings at the Premiers Conference and the Loan Coun- cil at Melbourne during the last few days, I ask the Attorney-General, in the absence of the Prime Minister, whether the Government’s policy in regard to old-age, invalid and war pensions has changed since last week?
– The Premiers Conference is still sitting, and the results of its deliberations are not yet known.
– Has the Minister for Trade and Customs yet received the Tariff Board’s report upon cotton yarns? If so, will the honorable gentleman undertake to place the report on the table before proceeding further with any tariff items upon which it has a hearing?
– I shall inquire into the matter, and let the honorable gentleman have a reply later.
Mr. JACOB JOHNSON.
– Is the Attorney-General yet in a position to make a statement relative to the missing documents in connexion with the case of Mr. Jacob Johnson?
– Not yet, but I shall be able to do so at an early date.
– I ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister whether the sugar agreement has yet been signed on behalf of the Commonwealth Government?
– I have no information on the subject, but I shall obtain it, and let the honorable gentleman have a reply later.
– In the event of thefossils in another place-
– Order ! The honorable gentleman is not entitled to speak offensively of members of another place.
– In the event of the reactionaries in another place-
– In the event of members of another place continuing to thwart the will of the Government in regard to employment on the waterfront, will the Government be prepared to co-operate with the Government of New South Wales in an endeavour to give effect to the will of the people, as expressed at the last general election, that peace be restored on the waterfront?
– The Government is giving effect to its policy in regard to employment on the waterfront.
Flying of the Australian Flag.
– In view of the fact that on Empire Day the Australian flag was flown upside down on No. 2 Secretariat building, will the AttorneyGeneral issue the instruction that on the rare occasions on which the national flag is displayed in the national capital it shall be properly flown?
– I am not aware whether the facts are as stated by the honorable member.
– I assure the AttorneyGeneral that the flag was flown in that way.
– I accept that assurance, and shall make inquiries with a view to ensuring that in future the flag shall be flown properly;
– When the AttorneyGeneral is investigating the incident referred to by the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. D. Cameron), will he endeavour to discover whether it was the outcome of a subtle plan on the part of civil servants to signify publicly the dire distress of the present Government
Question not answered.
– -Is the Minister in charge of Transport aware that a permit to trade on the Tasmanian coast has been granted to ss. Nellore, which employs cheap labour, while there are in Australia plenty of idle ships suitable for the trade as well as hundreds of unemployed Australian seamen ?
Mr.CULLEY. - I assure the honorable member that no such permit has been granted.
– An article published in. the Melbourne Age of the 18th May draws attention to the fact that the prices charged for agricultural machinery in South Africa are very much higher than in Australia. Will the Minister for Trade and Customs draw the attention of Australian manufacturers to the magnificent market awaiting them in South Africa, and urge them to export some of their machinery, thus helping to ensure a favorable trade balance?
– I shall investigate the matter, and I hope to be able to prove that the protective duties g ranted by the present Government are h elping to build up Australian industries.
– Is the Minister for Health aware that thousands of people in the Northern District of New South Wales, including many women and children of tender years, are homeless and without proper food or clothing? If so, will he use his influence with the Minister for Defence or the Government to have made available the military tents at Rutherford camp to shelter the homeless during the winter, and ensure that they will enjoy at least a reasonable standard of health?
– I am not aware that thousands of people in the district referred to are starving. The Defence Department is supplying blankets, great coats and tents as rapidly as possible to those in need of them.
– Can the Postmaster-
General say whether any mail matter was carried by the missing air liner, Southern Cloud?
– Comparatively few letters were aboard. I shall ascertain the exact number, and let the honorable memberhave the information.
– A reward was offered recently for information leading to the discovery of the perpetrator of the theft of mail bags, containing Commonwealth Bank notes, from a train bound from Sydney to Canberra. As the Southern Cloud carried mails, and as the relatives of those who lost their lives in that disaster have been put to great expense, will the Minister for Defence consider offering a reward for information that will clear up the mystery surrounding the disappearance of the air liner?
– Every effort has been made to trace the missing air liner, and I think that there is now little hope of discovering what happened to it, even with the offer of a reward. The suggestion will be considered.
– Can the PostmasterGeneral state briefly what are the conditions covering the broadcasting of political speeches, or political propaganda, through “ A” class wireless stations?
– I should like the honorable member to place that question on the notice-paper; but I may mention that for all “ A “ class, or government stations, regulations have been carefully drawn up, so that nothing of a party political nature shall be broadcast, except when the Prime Minister or the Leader of the Opposition, or other approved party speaker may be given permission to use the wireless on behalf of their respective parties. It has been complained, in a general way, that unfair party political propaganda has been resorted to, and if any honorable member can give me an instance of that kind-
– The addresses given at Wesley Church, Melbourne, on “ Pleasant Sunday Afternoons.”
– If I am furnished with exact data, action will be taken in the matter.
– Was the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Forde) correctly reported in the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday, when he was alleged to have said at the meeting of the Labour Executive in Sydney on Monday night, that, while he could not reveal Cabinet secrets, he was in a position to say that at the next general election the Government would take action to secure the abolition of State parliaments? If he was correctly reported, is it proposed to abolish the State parliaments, or to carry out the Government’s previous policy of placing the power to amend the Constitution in the hands of this Parliament?
– No newspaper reporters were present at the meeting that I addressed on Monday night, and, in certain details, the reports in the press were not correct. I was asked whether the Federal Labour party stood for the abolition of State parliaments, and I quoted the Federal Labour party’s platform on the subject. It provides for reconstruction of the Commonwealth Constitution, giving all the residual, or sovereign, powers, to the central legislature, with a devolution of adequate local governing powers to subordinate provincial legislatures. If effect were given to that part of the programme, the Slate parliaments would no longer retain the sovereign powers that they hold to-day. They would be shorn of a great deal of the expensive paraphernalia that now surrounds them, and there would be one Parliament, with central governing powers for the whole of Australia, and local provincial parliaments. I think that that would accord with the wishes of, not only of the honorable member for New England (Mr. Thompson), but also the great body of the people who desire constitutional reform.
– Is the Leader of the Government in a position to state whether the Mr. Charles Hardy, who has built up a reputation recently as the “ Cromwell of the Riverina,” mainly owing to his attacks upon the Lang Labour Government,’ is identical with the Charles Hardy, timber merchant, of Wagga Wagga, re ferred to in the advertising columns of last Saturday’s Sydney Morning Herald as having repudiated the claims of his own creditors?
– I have no information on the subject.
– Seeing that this Parliament, when the amendment of the Arbitration Act was under consideration, definitely turned down the Government’s policy of preference to unionists, how long is this midwinter madness of the Attorney-General to last?
– The honorable member is not in order in expressing himself in those terms.
– In view of the fact that the Parliament has definitely turned down the principle of absolute preference to unionists, how long does the AttorneyGeneral propose to continue his whirligig controversy with another place ? In view of the fact that the judges of the Arbitration Court in giving an award have deliberately refrained from prescribing preference to unionists, how long does the Minister propose to flout the law?
– It is neither the intention nor the practice of the Government to flout the law, and I have to add that this Parliament, up to the present time, has done nothing which precludes the Government from, administering the laws of the Commonwealth.
– In view of the recent decision of the Federal Government to refuse to Amalgamated Wireless Limited an extension of its powers and operations in Australia against the national interests, I ask the Postmaster-General whether the application of the company against the national interests was pressed by one of the directors of that company who was appointed by the Commonwealth Government, and also whether the other directors appointed by the Government acted in the interests of the Commonwealth, or in the interests of the company in the matter?
– Certain representatives of the Government, who were placed on the hoard of directors by a previous government, did think that it was in the interests of Amalgamated Wireless Limited that the agreement with the company should he ratified by the present Government. That was the opinion of the previous Government which appointed those representatives, but it is not the opinion of the present Government. I think that the representatives acted in good faith from their point of view, but the present Government has a different viewpoint.
– Is it not a fact that after the proposals of Amalgamated Wireless Limited were rejected by the exPostmasterGeneral (Mr. Lyons) as against the interests of the Commonwealth, Senator Millen, a representative of the Commonwealth on the directorate, frequently interviewed the PostmasterGeneral and the postal authorities with Mr. S. T. Fisk in order to obtain concessions for Amalgamated Wireless Limited which the previous Postmaster-General had refused to grant, because they were not in the interests of the Commonwealth?
– Senator Millen has not frequently interviewed me on this subject; he has interviewed me once or twice in the interests of Amalgamated Wireless Limited. His view is, of course, that as the Government has a controlling interest in Amalgamated Wireless Limited, it would be in the best interests of the Commonwealth to grant the requests that have been made ; but, as I have said, the Government’s view is different.
– Has the attention of the Attorney-General been drawn to the following statement by Mr. Davidson, New South Wales Minister for Works, published in this morning’s press: -
My colleagues and myself, regard the stoppage of the federal grant of £433,000 as a cruel act of vindictiveness.
This Government had about 1,000 men working in the country under a system of rationing, and the act of the Federal Government resulted in these men and their wives and children, being subjected to untold hardships, and in many cases, to actual starvation.
Will the Attorney-General have these statements investigated, with a view to informing the country people of New South Wales why the payment of this money has been stopped, and will he consider whether it is not possible to allocate some money to New South Wales, so that the thousand people mentioned in the paragraph may be given some employment?
– I have not seen the paragraph referred to by the honorable member, but it is a matter of common knowledge that the stoppage of the payment of the money referred to is the direct and inevitable result of the policy of the Government of New South Wales.
asked the Minister for
Health and Repatriation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Mr. ELDRIDGE (through Mr.
Beasley) asked the Attorney-General upon notice -
Docs the Government intend to give effect to its election promises for the reconstitution of the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, with a view to securing greater equity, and to removing the complaints levelled at that court because of its alleged active discrimination against the workers of this country?
If so, will he state when and in what manner it is proposed to give effect to this?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– Official publications issued by the British Government give the following figures: -
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– I regret that there is no official information available which will enable me to furnish definite replies to these questions.
– On the 21st May the honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page) asked the following questions, upon notice -
I am now in a position to inform the honorable member as follows: -
– On the 21st May the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Keane) asked the following question, upon notice -
What were the profits mode and what was the allocation of such profits by the associated banks for the past ten years?
The following statement supplies information for the trading banks, but excluding the Commonwealth Bank. The figures given include profits on such business as is transacted by the banks outside Australia : -
– On the 22nd May the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) addressed to me the following questions, upon notice -
I am now in a position to inform the honorable member as follows : -
– On the 22nd May the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Keane) asked the following questions, upon notice -
I am now in a position to inform the honorable member that, during the period from the 22nd October, 1929, to date, no awards of the court have been suspended under section 38i> of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act. During that period, however, certain awards of the court have been partly setaside under section 38 (oa) of the act. On the assumption that the honorable member’s questions relate to these awards, the information desired by the honorable member is as follows: -
– On the 21st May the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Long) asked the following questions, upon notice -
The answer to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
The disposition of the whole of the estate of a deceased purchaser would be governed by the terms of the will of the deceased.
If no. will existed, however, the estate would require to be distributed in accordance with the law of the State related to this subject.
– I have received a letter from Miss West, daughter of the late Mr. J. E.. West, thanking the House for its resolution of sympathy.
The following papers were presented : -
North Australia - Report on Administration for year ended 30th June, 1930.
Ordered to be printed.
Aircraft Southern Cloud - Report by the Air Accidents Investigation Committee on the loss of the Aircraft Southern Cloud.
Naval Defence Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1931, Nos. 52, 56.
Northern Australia Act -
Central Australia - Public Service Ordinance - Regulations amended.
North Australia -
Ordinance of 1931 - No. 7 - Education.
Public Service Ordinance - Regulations amended.
Public Service Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1931, No. 54.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act - Ordinance of 1931 - No. 9 - Canberra Social Service Association (Windingup).
– I move -
That order of the day No. 1 be deferred pending consideration of order of the day No. 2.
In doing so I have no desire to embarrass the Government-
– Order ! The honorable member is not in order, as a Minister alone may move for the postponement of a government order of the day.
In Committee of Ways and Means: Consideration resumed from the 20th May (vide page 2150), on motion by Mr. Forde -
That the schedule to the customs tariff be amended.
Division V. - Textiles, Felts and Furs, AND Manufactures Thereof,and
By omitting the whole of sub-item (aa) (twice occurring) and inserting in its stead the following sub-item : - “ (aa) Piece Goods, Knitted or Lock- stitched, in tubular form or otherwise, of any material except when wholly of wool -
.- This item covers material containing cotton, and I wish to take the opportunity to protest against the committee being asked to give any further consideration to cotton goods until the Minister has produced the report of the Tariff Board on imported cotton yarn, which I believe is now in his possession. About July of last year an application from a big spinning firm for increased protection on cotton yarn was referred to the Tariff Board. The board conducted a long and expensive inquiry into the matter, and I understand that its report has been in the hands of the Minister for some months. Despite his reply to my question to-day, I cannot believe that the honorable gentleman is not fully aware of its contents. I have no idea of the nature of the board’s recommendation, but it appears remarkable to me that the committee should be asked to consider granting increased protection, for cotton goods, in all their diversity of manufacture, without first perusing that report.
– Had it been favorable, the honorable gentleman would have produced it.
– This matter is of special importance, because I doubt whether, in the whole of this vast schedule, there is to be found a series of duties that will impose a heavier burden upon the people of Australia than those upon cotton goods. By and large those duties will add substantially to the cost of living to the people as a whole, and to the workers in particular. We know that, in the main, the clothes of the worker and family are made of cotton.
There is another aspect of the matter to which I should like to refer in passing, and that is that cotton-growing is confined practically to one electorate in the Commonwealth, and that is Capricornia
– That is not true, as the honorable member will find if he questions the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) and the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis).
– I said that cottongrowing was confined practically to one electorate, that represented by the Minister in . charge of this schedule. I do not suggest that there is the least impropriety in the Minister for Customs introducing duties in favour of the people of his own electorate, but I do contend that when those duties inevitably inflict a heavy penalty on the public as a whole the Minister might be expected to proceed with very special care, and in the full light of day. I do not like to see a Minister of the Crown bringing down a ‘whole sheaf of increased duties in favour of his own constituents, and at the same time suppressing a report of the Tariff Board which deals with the industry concerned.
– That is unfair.
– There is nothing unfair or improper in my statement. I submit that the Minister should have supplied the committee with the fullest information from every source bearing on this subject. The honorable gentleman believes in the retention of the Tariff Board. As it is being treated by the Government at present, I do not. That board has reported on the cotton industry. The Minister has its report, and ho is increasing the duties on cotton. I, ask him to present that report to the committee before the debate proceeds further.
– If the honorable gentleman has the report he should be able to explain to the committee the nature of its recommendations.
– The Minister should intimate whether the report is favorable or otherwise towards an increase in duties. If the honorable gentleman does not make the report available to the committee, I shall definitely move for the postponement of all the cotton items until the report is presented.
.- Item No. 392 deals with cotton yarns. The committee is now dealing with item 105 aa which deals with “ piece goods, knitted or lock-stitched in tubular form or otherwise, of any material except when wholly of wool “. These tubular piece goods may be of silk, artificial silk, wool and silk, wool and cotton, or cotton. The report of the Tariff Board on cotton yarns will, be submitted to the committee long before item 392 is reached. I submit that it would be a waste of time to discuss cotton yarns under an item which deals with tubular piece goods of all kinds; that it would be better to wait until item 392 is reached, before which time the report of the Tariff Board on cotton yarns will be made available to honorable members.
.- I join with the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) in asking the Minister to produce the report under which increases have been made on cotton goods covered, by item No. 105 aa. Unless the honorable gentleman is prepared to supply honorable members with that report, the committee is justified in assuming that he has not yet received it, or that it is of a character not favorable to the Government’s policy with regard to this item. The committee is also justified in believing that the report from which I quoted last week, which states that cotton piece goods other than those specified should not be subjected to an increase in duty, covers the articles dealt with in item 105 aa. After a cursory glance at these duties, particularly those embodied in this item, one would wonder whether the Minister has lost his powers, whether the ever-present desire on his part to make duties go still farther and farther skyward has temporarily deserted him.
Such a glance suggests that the rates of duty are to be 2s. 6d., 3s. and 4s. per lb., or an ad valorem rate of 30 per cent., 40 per cent., and 50 per cent., that is, just as they were before. .When we look more closely, however, we see that the little conjunction “ or “ has been omitted and for it has been substituted the little conjunction “ and “. The result is that these duties, instead of being alternative, have the effect of doubling the previous impost. Instead of the ad valorem or the fixed duty being charged, whichever is the greater, according to the new schedule both will be charged. I protest against the imposition of these duties. It would be much more straightforward on the part of the Government to fix a definite rate of duty, and it would be easier for merchants and, indeed, for honorable members of this House, to understand the effect of the impost if a simple ad valorem or fixed rate of duty had been decided upon. The effect of this alteration has been to further complicate an already sufficiently complicated matter. Moreover, it seems to me that at this particular time, when the leaders of the Government are engaged in a momentous conference, the object of which is to effect huge reductions in the cost of government, we should not impose duties which will increase costs to a large section of the community. Without rhyme or reason, without even being fortified by a Tariff Board report, we are asked to add still more to the existing high costs of production, and to make dearer goods which are needed by the poorer people of the country. I again ask the Minister to produce the Tariff Board report on item 105 a a. Failing that, I desire him to state his arguments in favour of substituting the word “ and “ for the word “ or “ in this item.
– I move; -
That the Bub-item be postponed.
I desire that consideration of this item be deferred until some satisfactory solution of the present dispute between the employers and employees in this industry has been arrived at. Honorable members opposite may bo taking up a correct attitude on this item when they ask for the submission of a Tariff Board report. I, for the moment, am not con cerned with that; but I believe it to be the duty of honorable members representing industrial workers to use every means at their disposal to protect the interests of the workers engaged in thi* industry in regard to wages and working conditions, and if a Labour Government proposes to put into effect a policy of protection-
– A charter for profiteering in this case.
– -That is as it may be, but if the Government grants protection to Australian industry to prevent the country from being flooded with cheap goods from low-wage countries, it must, if it is to be- logical, take steps to preserve in Australia the standard of living which the Labour movement demands. Only to-day the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) referred in the course of a question to the action of the employers in the wine and spirit industry, who, having obtained increased protection, immediately applied to tho Arbitration Court for a reduction of 10 per cent, in the wages payable to their employees. The same sort of thing has been done by the employers in other industries. Not only have they reduced wages, but they have raised prices to the general public. Since these increased duties were first introduced, honorable members have repeatedly asked what the Government proposed to do to prevent manufacturers from exploiting the public. Time after time Ministers have given the assurance that the Customs Department had detailed special officers to check prices, and to inform the Minister in charge if anything in the nature of exploitation were taking place. I am convinced that such checking, if it were done, has not had the desired result, because it is quite evident that manufacturers have taken advantage of the high duties to exploit the community. Representing, as I do, an industrial constituency, I am not going to sit idly by and allow the workers to be exploited not only in regard to high prices for their goods, but also in regard to their wages and conditions. I am not going to support protection for manufacturers who, immediately they obtain it, take steps te exploit the workers in their employ.
.- I support the proposal for deferring consideration of this item, although I do so from motives different from those which actuate the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley). It is due to this committee that the Government should give reasons for any increased duties which it proposes. The duties come before the House in the nature of a resolution which we are asked to adopt, and the Government should support the resolution. It is not fair that the Minister should simply throw the schedule on the table, placing honorable members in the position of having either to accept it or to give their reasons. The manner in which this item has been amended by changing the word “ or “ to “ and “ shows merely that it is a rough and ready method of arriving at what the Government thinks ought to be done. Sufficient time has elapsed since the alteration was made to enable the Government to determine whether or not it has been justified. The Minister should be able to tell honorable members whether the alteration has resulted in the establishment of new enterprises, or whether it has affected ‘the price of goods. He should be able to give us the result of the experiment as far as it has gone, and should then advance his reason for proposing these altered and increased duties.
– I oppose the suggestion of the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett), and also the motion of the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley). I cannot follow the argument that, because there happens to be a dispute between the workers in the secondary side of this industry and their employers, the primary producing section should be penalized by the withdrawal of protection which is essential if the industry is to succeed. The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Nairn) asked whether the experiment, as he described the increased duties, had been successful. If he wishes to find out, he should take steps to inspect the cotton-growing industry in Queensland, and to discover, by personal observation, just what has been, and is being, done. He should visit the cotton areas in the northern parts of Australia, particularly in the central districts of
Queensland, and in the Burnett area, where marked progress has been made. Special organization has been undertaken, and sufficient ginneries and oil mills have been established, mainly as a result of the co-operative efforts of the growers. Cotton-growing in Australia to-day is not only practicable, but also a successful means of settling people on the land, and of producing our own requirements of cotton goods. Formerly an enormous sum of money left this country annually in payment for imported cotton goods. To-day we are’ purchasing our own cotton goods, at the same time keeping in Australia the money that we expend on them. The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Nairn) has asked whether the operation of the tariff has had the desired effect, but he forgets that this tariff protection has been in operation only twelve months. If honorable members were to visit Queensland, they would soon learn that the actual production of cotton in the field has entirely warranted the tariff protection that the industry has received. Large areas in Queensland, which previously were used for cattle-growing, are now producing cotton of a quality equal to that produced in any other part of the world.
– Surely the honorable member does not expect other honorable members to visit Queensland merely to verify his statement?
– No; and I do not expect honorable members to be conversant with all matters that come before them. If honorable members had a knowledge of this industry, they would not, as they are now doing, harass it in its early stages of production.
– We merely pay.
– This is a matter, not of paying, but of promoting an industry in Australia. If the honorable member were to-day in charge of the Customs Department, I fear that this industry would not receive the assistance necessary to enable it to progress. Australia is capable of absorbing the whole of the £10,000,000 which is required annually for the purchase of cotton goods. Why should we not give to our workers, and the community generally, an opportunity to benefit by this expenditure?
Both this and the previous Governments increased duties so as to protect the cotton-growing industry.
– Will the honorable member accept the report of the Tariff Board when it is placed on the table?
– When the honorable member was Minister for Trade and Customs he promised repeatedly that the Tariff Board’s report on this industry would be made available to honorable members, but he left office without honouring that promise, and if he is aware of the nature of that report, he has an advantage which is denied to me, and I, therefore, do not propose to answer his question. This additional protection is necessary in order to encourage those who are now producing cotton, to continue their work of .development. The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) has referred to the wages and conditions of the workers in the cotton-growing industry, but I remind him that those conditions have been fixed by the Arbitration Court, and are capable of adjustment by that tribunal. The primary producer has carried out his part of the contract. He lias paid his employees a wage which has been satisfactory to all concerned, and he, therefore, should not be penalized by any decrease in the tariff protection which he is now enjoying.
– Is the honorable member prepared to give the cotton-grower any protection that he may ask for?
– I am prepared to give to the industry a protection sufficient to enable it to be properly developed, and to become valuable to Australia. The trouble with this country is that too many people wish to live in the cities so as to enjoy the conditions prevailing in the great industrial centres. It is time that at least some honorable members realized the necessity for giving encouragement to those people who are prepared to develop our virgin lands in Queensland, and to produce a commodity which to-day we are importing from overseas, and which is required by every person in this country. It has been said that because some of our cotton fabrics contain percentages of silk and wool, this additional protection is not warranted , but I ask honorable members whether the woollen industry is not entitled to some measure of protection? 1 am taking no .parochial view in this debate
M>r. Archdale Parkhill. - The honorable member is electoral in his view.
– The honorable member himself takes no other view. I am supporting the cotton industry. I refuse to be a party to dishonouring the promise of. adequate protection which was made to the cottongrower -when he first engaged in the industry.
– I disagree with the argument of the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Bernard Corser), because I consider that it is. utterly unsound. I cannot for the life of me understand why we should pass this item without having before us the report of the Tai-iff Board on the cottongrowing industry. The duty on this item formerly stood at, per lb., ‘2s. 6d., British preferential; 3s. intermediate, and 4s., general, or #0 per cent., 40 per cent., and 50 per cent., respectively. The word “ and “ is now to be substituted for the word “ or “, and if that alteration is agreed to, the cotton industry will have the protection of both the ad valorem duty and the fixed duty.
– Was that intended?
– It was fully intended, and I shall later give an explanation.
– This excessive duty strikes at the very root of our revenue. It gives inordinate protection to the cotton-growing industry. Already this Government has granted a bounty of £800,000 to the industry, and I venture to say that it will never develop beyond its infant stage, and will never be of any va/hae to this country. It will be another .of the great white elephants which have been introduced into this country, under the pretence of giving increased employment. Nothing of the sort has happened. The protection that we have given to this industry has been to the detriment of natural industries.
– The Queensland Country party does not agree with the honorable member.
– I am speaking for Australia as a whole. We have in this chamber the spectacle of one honorable member putting the view of the Labour party. Another honorable member puts the view of his’ constituents. The Minister himself always advances arguments that favour certain industries in his own electorate. That seems to be his life’s desire. To-day I asked the Minister whether the operation of the duty on a certain item had increased by 500 per cent, the cost of the farmers’ requirements. Certain manufacturers have increased their prices, although they promised, in the event of protection being afforded them, that they would not do so. In some instances, prices have doubled, and the position is that the consumers generally are being fleeced. At a time like this, one would have expected the Government to introduce a revenueproducing tariff, but the duties are so excessive that they preclude imports and restrict revenue customs. This excessive tariff has enabled a few manufacturers in this country to build up small fortunes at the expense of the rest of the community, one section of which is on the verge of penury, because of the fall in the price of its products. These new tariff duties are entirely unbalanced and improper. I trust that honorable members will decide to defer the proposal of the Minister, particularly in view of the fact that the recommendation of the Tariff Board is not yet before us.
– When a previous proposal was made at the instance of the textile workers, that certain duties should be postponed, the explanation was offered that the employers of New South Wales had no desire to reduce wages, but merely wanted the conditions under which they are obliged to conduct their industry made uniform with those in other parts of Australia. The protection given to the textile industry applies throughout Australia, and it is reasonable to ask that all employers be on the same footing in respect of wages and conditions of labour. In New South Wales this industry is being conducted under an expired award of the Federal Arbitration Court, pending the making of a new one. But the New South Wales State awards prescribe rates of pay approximately 24’ per cent, higher than those in Victoria. The’ direct and obvious consequence is that the- Victorian mills can tender below their rivals in New South Wales. The only effect of the amendment proposed by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) Would b’e to bring the industry in New South Wales to a standstill and throw out of work a large number of people, while the trade went to Victoria. The following table shows the rates of wages paid in the industry in New South Wales and Victoria : -
In addition, the hours of labour in Victoria are 45 a week as compared with 44 in Now South Wales. In the former State there is no child endowment, whereas ill New South Wales the’ employers have to pay a special tax of 1 per cent. The piece-workers’ rates are: Victoria, basic wage, plus 10 per cent.; New South Wales, basic wage plus 15 per cent. In Victoria when the piece-worker’s earnings are below the basic wage, the basic wage only need be paid; in New South Wales, the employer must pay the basic wage plus 15 per cent. In regard to workers’ compensation, the act in New South Wales is more comprehensive than that iri Victoria, and the premium is greater in accordance with the higher individual rate of wages.
– How many persons are employed in the industry in the respective States?
– About three-fourths of them are in Victoria.
– All the employers in New South Wales seek is’ a levelling of wages, so that the industry throughout Australia may be operated under approximately uniform conditions. The proposed amendment would merely maintain the existing trend of trade from New South Wales to Victoria, to the detriment of the workers in the former State.
The reason given by the Minister for his refusal to produce the Tariff Board’s report is most un satisfactory. It is obvious that cotton yarn, is an important constituent of many of the articles covered by the item now under consideration, and, therefore, the request for the production of the board’s report on cotton yarn at this stage is reasonable. The Minister should take thecommittee into his confidence, and place before it all the facts relating to the industry and the proposed duties. Unfortunately, the Minister is always seeking to get an item accepted with no explanation, or only half an explanation. There is reason to believe that the Tariff Board’s report does not favour this duty, and the Minister’s endeavour to get the item agreed to without the report being made available is not fair to the committee. This item affects a portion of the everyday requirements of over 6,000,000 people, and we are entitled to all the information that has been prepared by the board and the departmental officers. The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) has pointed out that the substitution of “and” for “or” places on imports an exorbitant duty, amounting almost to prohibition. The Minister may declare that the granting of a monopoly to local manufacturers will not lead to increased prices, but nobody will believe him; the public knows better. Manufacturers will be able to charge whatever prices they choose. Are only the interests of the manufacturers and those engaged in the industry to bo considered? Will nobody on the Government side of the chamber say a word for the consumers? I ask the committee to show some sympathy with the workers to whom these goods are an every-day necessity.
– Does the honorable member know that prices have been reduced 14 per cent, since these duties have been imposed ?
– Even if that were so, the exclusion of im ports and the granting of a monopoly to local manufacturers will destroy all incentive to the attainment of greater efficiency.
– And what becomes of the revenue?
Mr. ARCHDALE PARKHILL.By these prohibitive duties we lose revenue, and the exclusion of outside competition restricts patterns and styles.
The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr.Corser) has made the usual appeal, which he employs whenever an industry in his electorate is affected. He seems to think that before one should dare to speak about the cotton industry, he must have walked over the plantations, and inspected the ginneries. He would permit representatives of industrial and suburban constituencies only the right to “ pay up and shut up.” His appeal leaves me cold, because, whether the subject be cotton, ginger, peanuts, sugar, or anything else produced in his electorate, he advances the same pleas and arguments. I have sympathy with all these industries; but I feel bound to have some regard to the cost of their production. The honorable member does not care what burden is placed on the taxpayers of Australia, so long as an industry in his electorate gains, and he gets thereby an electoral advantage. That is a narrow view, which I am proud not to take either voluntarily or compulsorily. Industries and protective duties should be considered on a nation-wide basis. If that were done, the consuming public, including the workers, and even the unemployed, would receive some consideration; instead, the Government seems intent on serving only the interests of the employers and the employees in industry, regardless of the effect upon the general public. The Tariff Board’s report on cotton yarn should be produced. There must be an extraordinary reason why the committee has not been supplied with a report that is germane to this item. No Minister should be allowed to trifle with the committee. Every member has a right to all information that the Tariff Board provides. The Minister, in withholding this report, is committing, to say the least, an error of judgment.
Mr. FORDE (Capricornia - Minister honorable members are evidently laboring under a misapprehension in this matter. The Tariff Board reported on this item as far back as 1927. After a thorough investigation, it recommended that protection be given to the industry, as was provided for under the 1921-1928 tariff. The increased duties included in the present schedule were imposed by the Government on the 21st “November, 1929, when the member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) was the Minister for Trade and Customs, after certain investigations had been made by officers of the department. It should be remembered that the present Government went to the country on a policy of high protection, and was elected upon it. It found that certain secondary industries were languishing, and among them were those manufacturing tubular piece goods. On hearing the remarks of certain honorable members, one might think that this item dealt only with cotton goods. It covers also silk and artificial silk tubular goods, wool and cotton, and cotton tubular piece goods. Tho Tariff Board’s report on item 105 was submitted when the previous government was in office.
– Does not this new duty encourage the use of Australian yarn?
– Yes ; it is fortunate that it does. It helps to provide employment in this country in the manufacture of yarn, and it assists to provide a market for our wool and cotton. A well balanced policy of protection is desirable, so that it will help the farmer who grows the raw product, and assist local industry through all stages until the finished article is produced.
The policies of past governments have been shortsighted, because, while a bounty was given to help cotton growers, and certain cotton spinners, adequate protection was not given to those who were turning out the cotton tubular piece goods, wool and cotton goods, or artificial silk piece goods included in this item. When the present Government assumed office it corrected that mistake. The report of the Tariff Board on cotton yarn relates to an entirely different matter. This subject was submitted to the board in connexion with item 392, and the report of the board will be made available before that item is reached. I remind . the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) that the Tariff Board’s report on cotton generally was submitted to his Government in February or March, 1929, and fully nine or ten months elapsed before it was made available. That honorable member himself refused to make it available to me, and to other members of this committee.
– But, in that case, no action was taken upon the report.
– When the present Government came into office, there were 50 or 60 reports by the board which had never been made available. I have adopted the practice of tabling the board’s reports immediately the Government has finished with them. I shall see that the board’s report on cotton yarn is made available before we reach item 392. On inquiries made by the Government, we feel justified in increasing the duties on cotton piece goods. All the talk about the consumers being charged an increased price is so much gallery play, because the prices of cotton piece goods have been reduced 14 per cent. since these duties have been imposed.
– If the manufacturers can compete on a falling market, why increase the duties?
– As the result of the increased duties they have obtained a market, and they have reduced their prices to the consumers. There is keen competition among these manufacturers to-day. Generally speaking, the price of textiles has been reduced by 33 per cent., in comparison with the prices ruling eighteen months ago.
The importation of artificial silk piece goods has been increasing, and this shows that even the present duties under this item are insufficient. The imports of artificial silk piece goods, not containing wool, and knitted in tubular form or otherwise, were valued at £35,011 in 1927-28, and at £181,313 in 1928-29, while, in 1929-30, their value increased to £226,331. Many factories import artificial silk yarns, and are turning them into the knitted tubular piece goods included in the item under consideration. The imports of knitted cotton, in tubular form or otherwise, were valued at £156,624 in 1927-28; at £105,717 in 1928-29; and £67,399 in 1929-30. The imports of silk piece goods, or piece goods containing silk, but not containing wool, knitted in tubular form or otherwise, were valued at £12,762 in 1927-28 ; at £9,007 in 1928-29 ; and at £5,718 in 1929-30. In 1925, the duties on apparel, including knitted apparel, were substantially increased, in the interests of Australian clothing manufacturers. I think that that action was taken at the instance of the late Mr. Pratten when he was Minister for Trade and Customs. In 1928, the duties on knitted piece goods, other than all-wool piece goods, for the manufacture of apparel, were increased to 30 per cent, ad valorem, or 2s. 6d. per lb., British preferential tariff, and 50 per cent, ad valorem, or 4s. per lb., general tariff, as it was found that the manufacturers of knitted cotton, underwear were being deprived of their market by the importation of cotton piece goods, in tubular form or otherwise, and the subsequent manufacture of underwear and such like from the imported piece goods.
Insofar as cottons are concerned, the statistical figures indicate that the duties have been particularly effective. The value of imports has decreased from £156,624 in 1927-28 to £67,399. Australia is now growing practically all the cotton required by our manufacturers for tubular piece goods. Certain mercerized yarns required for cottOn tweeds are not dutiable, but all cotton yarns are dutiable. Australia is fast reaching the position in which she will be growing all the raw cotton required by Australian factories. Some thousands of farmers are engaged in the production of raw cotton in Australia, and in the electorate of the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis), and the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser), between 3,000 and 4,000 workers obtain seasonal employment in the picking of cotton, after they leave the canefields. In accordance with the policy laid down by the Government in regard to the cotton industry, and at the request of certain, interested parties in Queensland representing the growers and the workers in the industry, I had a Commonwealth tribunal appointed to fix fair and reasonable rates for the cottonpickers, and these have been settled satisfactorily by a unanimous decision of that tribunal, representative of the growers and the workers, of which the Commonwealth Conciliation Commissioner is chairman. It is true that, when the present Government came into office, a bounty was operating to encourage the growing of cotton and the spinning of the cotton yarns in Australia, but the future of the industry was uncertain. The Government put the matter on a proper basis, and gave adequate protection to both the primary and secondary branches of the industry, by providing for an annually diminishing bounty, which will cease in 1936, This action has mean! a great deal to the big factories in the capital cities of the southern States, to thousands of farmers who are growing cotton in Queensland, and to the workers who obtain seasonal occupation in the fields.
– Has the number of factories increased?
– There has been a substantial increase. The number of employees in Bond’s Industries Limited rose from 1,382, in 1929, to 2,267 in 1931, an increase of 885. There has been a pro rata increase in the other big mills of Australia. Notwithstanding the present depression, there is great activity in the textile industry. The manufacturers assure me that they are working at high pressure to meet the demand for their goods, because the imports were substantially reduced at a time when we had an adverse trade balance, and were faced with bankruptcy if we did not rectify it. Is it not a wise policy to meet our own requirements, as far as possible, particularly in regard to- wool and cotton, by converting the raw product into the finished article? It surely will not be denied that it is much better for us to manufacture our requirements here than to send our raw materials 16,000 miles overseas to be manufactured and then sent back to us. The figures covering th* importation of artificial silk piece goods, knitted, have been recorded separately for the last three years only. In 1929-30 a substantial increase of these imports, valued at approximately £45,000, occurred, which shows beyond question that the duties cannot be too high.
– When does the Minister think that we shall be growing all the cotton we need?
– The development is increasing year by year, and greater quantities of raw cotton are being grown. This, with the protection of the secondary industries, is enabling the Australian manufacturers, who have agreed to buy Australiangrown cotton, to increase their activities considerably. In the circumstances it should not be many years before we are growing all the cotton that we require, though, naturally, I cannot say exactly how long it will be.
Information received recently indicates that various factors, in which may be included the high tariff rate, the adverse exchange, and the temporary lack of demand, have brought about an almost total cessation of imports of artificial silk knitted piece goods. Local factories are now equipped to produce the normal Australian requirements, but the plants are to-day running at only about half their capacity. With a revival of trade, and subject to the present rates of duty being maintained, Australian manufacturers anticipate that their machines will soon be running at full time. There has been an improvement in the last few weeks. It is worthy of mention that the present world-prices of artificial silk piece knitted goods are lower than those which have ruled at any previous period for the same quality of material. We are thus carrying on our operations in a time of extreme difficulty. The’ Government assumed office when price levels were falling rapidly in England and Europe. This, with a pegged rate of exchange, enabled these goods to be dumped on this market at prices with which the Australian manufacturer could not compete. It was, therefore, necessary that strong action should be taken. The importation of knitted piece goods is detrimental alike to the class of Australian industry which engages in the knitting of completed garments, and to that which engages in the manufacture of piece goods from which the completed garments are made up. Australian manufacturers are capable of supplying the whole of our requirements of cotton underwear. In view of the increases in duty on apparel incorporated in the 1919 tariff schedule, our underwear manufacturers should make every effort to use Australian materials. This item has been amended to cover lockstitch piece goods, as the process of lockstitching, is very much akin to knitting.
Since the imposition of these duties there has been a considerable development in the industry. A new factory has been established in Melbourne for the making of tubular piece goods and underwear of all kinds. The firm responsible for opening it has also established a big spinning mill, the machinery of which was bought in England, and it recently bought, in one lot, 3,000 bales of Australian-grown cotton. The company, Davis, Coop Proprietary Limited, is now making cotton yarn for its own use, and is also willing to sell yarn to other manufacturers. The amount of capital invested in this enterprise is £75,000. This money has been made available by good Australians, in order to give employment to the people of this country.
The honorable member for West Syduey (Mr. Beasley) has foreshadowed an amendment which, if carried, would mean the postponement of the consideration of this item. He has told us that he intends to take this step because of the efforts of certain manufacturers to bring about a reduction of wages and a lengthening of working hours in New South Wales. I dealt with this subject last week when another item was being considered, and explained that, although the policy of the Government was new protection, which provides for the protection of the workers in industry and of the consuming public, the High Court, in the case of Bex v. Barger, decided in 1906, held that the Commonwealth Parliament had not the constitutional power to put that policy into full operation. I make it clear, however, that I do not approve of manufacturers who have claimed and obtained protection on the ground that they have to observe Australian standards of wages and conditions, approaching the Arbitration Court, or other fixing tribunal, immediately after such protection has been granted, in order to obtain a variation df wages and conditions.
– That is what some manufacturers are doing.
– The action of certain manufacturers in this respect is regrettable; but I have to regard the interests of the whole of Australia. I can only fight a battle against such persons with the weapons which the Government has at its disposal. I know that on the representation of the Textile Workers Union, in Melbourne, a conference was held between representatives of the employers and employees, which reached an amicable arrangement. It is true that the workers were obliged to accept a 10 per cent, wage cut, but 1 per cent, of this was due to the fall in the cost of living. This reduction is to operate from 1st July, by agreement between the parties. A spirit of compromise was shown on each side. I sincerely trust that the employers and employees of New South Wales will also confer on this subject, and come to an amicable arrangement. So many industries are affected by tariff variations that it would be impossible for the Minister for Trade and Customs to convene and preside over conferences of the employers and employees in the different industries. Requests have been made to me recently to convene conferences of employers and employees in the metal trade, the glass manufacturing industry, and the textile industry. If I convened such conferences, cumbersome and overlapping machinery would be put into operation. In any case, the only weapon that I could use would be the withdrawal of the duty. I have discussed that possibility with representatives of the Textile Workers Union, and they understand the difficulties of the position from the Government stand-point. They know that if the duty were withdrawn great injury would be done to the industry.
– The New South Wales branch of the Textile Workers Union has asked that the duty be lifted.
– I am aware that that branch of the union and the Sydney Trades and Labour Council desire the duty to be lifted ; but I must consider the effect of that action upon employment generally in this . industry throughout Australia. If the duty were lifted, probably 50 per cent, of the persons engaged in the industry would be thrown out of work. In these circumstances it would be useless for me to adopt a stand-and-deliver attitude. I am not prepared to face the consequences of throwing out of work half the people employed in the industry, and of allowing an influx of these goods from cheap labour countries. It would be impracticable for me to convene a conference, as has been suggested. Consequently, I cannot agree to the postponement of the item.
– We are not asking the Minister to convene a conference.
– I have received a telegram from Mr. Larke, the General Secretary of the Textile Workers Union of Australia, asking me to convene a conference. I regret that I cannot do it. In regard to the New South Wales position, I remind honorable members that the matter was first dealt with at a conference arranged by the Conciliation Commissioner. This proved to be abortive, and recourse was then had to the full Arbitration. Court of New South Wales. The officers of the union were unable to tell me how long it would take the court to deal with the case. For this reason also I cannot agree to the suggestion that consideration of the item should be postponed. This matter has already been awaiting attention for eighteen months, and it is desirable that the new duty shall be ratified as early as possible. We have about 400 items to deal with, and are now only at item 105. I know that the Attorney-General is desirous of introducing some arbitration legislation, and I have a number of bills to submit to honorable members. It is essential, therefore, that we should push on with the business before the committee.
.- I am not altogether surprised that the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Forde) has adopted a “hush” policy in regard to the report of the Tariff Board on cotton goods, for these duties are the most one-sided ever presented to this Parliament. In deciding upon them the Minister has shown an utter disregard of the interests of the whole community in order that he might benefit the people of one constituency. He has said that tb> report of the board applies only to cotton yarns. Last week, when another item was under consideration, the report of the board on the subject was made available: but no recent report on this subject is available to honorable members. An old report has been tabled, and certain investigations ha.ve been carried out by departmental officers. But not even the full result of those investigations has been published. The Minister has seen fit to reveal only the parts of the reports of his officers which support the action he has taken in the interests of the cottongrowers of Capricornia.
– This item covers six different kinds of tubular cotton piece goods.
– That is an additional reason why the report of the board should be made available. The price of cotton piece goods has a big influence upon the cost of living in Australia. Our workers are the principal wearers of cotton garments, and in their interests it is highly desirable, and in fact urgent, that the report of the board on the subject should be made available. In a report which dealt with an item considered by the committee last week, a point made in evidence by a cotton-weaver in support of a claim for an increased duty on certain cotton piece goods was that the price of cotton yarn had been increased; in this case the manufacturers may also want higher duties because the price of cotton yarn has been increased. Surely, in these circumstances, the Minister should not refuse to table the report of the board on the subject. It is most unfair to the committee and to the people who use cotton goods, particularly the workers, to bring forward these increased duties under a fog of suppressed reports, and in sections which tend to obscure the identity of the cotton piece goods concerned. It is the duty of the Minister to supply the committee with the fullest and latest information that he has on the matter. The honorable gentleman has given us some information, and, if he had not shown some reluctance to produce the report that has been asked for, honorable members might assume that his statement, based upon investigations made by departmental officials, was an entirely fair one. But, when the honorable gentleman endeavours to sneak these duties through a bit at a time, and deprives the committee of information to which it is entitled, he cannot expect honorable members to accept his statement as to the necessity for these duties. The honorable gentleman stated that this item includes artificial silk and wool, wool and cotton, and other piece goods, and that the duties will confer a substantial benefit on local wool-growers, manufacturers, and users. The Minister completely ignores the fact that the grower receives export parity for his wool. Even when it goes to cheap labour countries, or comparatively dearer labour countries, such as Canada and the United States of America, and the manufactured article comes back here, the determining factor is the price of the finished article in Australia.
– Is the honorable member aware that, in the opinion of prominent wool-brokers, the competition of local buyers, representing Australian woollen mills, has the effect of increasing the price of certain lines?
– At times one section of competition is stronger than another, and so influences the price of wool, but there is no evidence that the local mills pay higher than they are forced to do, because of overseas competition. In the long run, the only effect that the establishment of a local woollen industry can have upon the returns to the grower for his wool is that which would result from the creation of a greater demand for woollen goods because of the attractiveness of their price or quality to local consumers. If the use of woollen articles were being encouraged as a result of low prices, there would be no necessity for this prohibitive tariff. While this particular rise in duties may not have increased the existing prices of woollen goods in Australia, it has definitely prevented the fall in prices that is taking place everywhere else in the world. By keeping woollen goods dearer, the Government will reduce the ability of wool to compete with cheaper kinds of material. It is nothing but eyewash to suggest that, where a big proportion of the output is exported, and the producers are dependent for their main market upon sending their products overseas, the diversion of some of the raw material, such as wool, to the local manufacturer enhances its selling price to the grower. The case of cotton is different, because Australia does not export that commodity. Every increase in the tariff with regard to cotton goods can be shared by the growers of raw cotton at the expense of tha poorer section of the community. That may be the result of the duties set out in this item. But it is most unfair for the Minister to suppress the presentation of the report concerning a section of the industry which, although it may not be covered by the item with vhich the committee is dealing, materially affects the cost of these goods. The report of the Tariff Board on cotton piece goods, made on the 30th June last, states, among other things -
Under the 1929 tariff proposals, the duty on yarns for the manufacture of denims, drills, jeans and dungarees is 35 per cent. (British preferential tariff). In order to pass on the increased costs of materials due to this duty, an increase of from 33;’f per cent, to 50 per cent, in the rates now requested on the cloths mentioned would be necessary.
That is the only independent and impartial report on cotton piece goods that honorable members have.
– The Government did not increase the duty on denims. The board was merely dealing with a request that that should be clone.
– The increase on yarns must similarly affect the position with regard to piece goods, and it is unfair to ask the committee to consider the piece goods section of the schedule until the report of the Tariff Board on yarns is made available. It is improper to ask honorable members to increase the cost of these necessary articles to the workers when the Minister is deliberately suppressing knowledge that has been made available to him by the Tariff Board. For his own credit, and for the sake of the committee, I urge the honorable gentleman to make the report available, so that honorable members may arrive at an unbiased opinion in the matter.
.- I think that the Minister might accede to the request of the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley), and postpone this item. An increase in duty cannot be justified if the employees in the industry concerned do not receive a proper rate of wages. The Minister stated that if the item were postponed he could not convene a conference of these manufacturers and workers. I contend that if the item were postponed the manufacturers would be tumbling over themselves in an endeavour to meet their employees in conference, so that they might make this increase in duties a certainty. The Minister, therefore, need not bother, about his inability to convene a conference.
I want the item to be postponed for another reason. I view it in relation to item 432 - the duty on cotton. I do not desire to go into the reasons too fully, or to disclose the nature of the correspondence that has passed between myself and the Minister on the matter. The whole of these duties on cotton represent a sort of artificial, pryamidical increase.
– I point out to the honorable member that cotton piece goods are only one of many kinds of piece goods included in this item.
– The Stawell Woollen Mills are situated in my electorate, and my attitude towards item 432 depends upon that of the Minister in this matter. The honorable gentleman is fighting chiefly for his constituency.
– I assure the honorable gentleman that I am fighting for Australian industries generally.
– The Minister is fighting for 1,400 people in his constituency. I am fighting for 600.
– And I am fighting for 6,250,000 Australians.
– The operation of these duties will probably throw 600 men out of work in my constituency. The manufacturers do not want these increases if they can get free cotton.
– The honorable gentleman says that if I postpone this item the manufacturers will tumble over themselves to ensure that the duties are imposed, and in the next breath he says that they do not want them.
– I said that they would tumble over each other to avoid wage cuts in order to get the duty. They want them only because the manufactured material of one industry is the raw material of another. The cost of raw cotton has been increased by 3d. per lb., and it is only because of the absolute necessity to do so in their own defence that manufacturers have sought these increases in duty. I have copies of letters which have been sent to the Minister, which indicate that if a certain regulation that was withdrawn on the 7th April, and which allowed the free importation of cotton used in the manufacture of flannel, is not reinstated, the Stawell “Woollen Mills, which manufacture flannel, and need a certain percentage of cotton for the process, will have to dismiss a number of men. I forwarded those letters to the Minister on the 2nd May, but have received no reply.
– The matter is being investigated. All forms of intimidation are used against the Minister. He is told that if he does not do this or that, certain people will be thrown out of work, or that some other evil will follow. All such matters have to be .investigated.
– I know the lionhearted courage of the Minister, and 1 should be the last man in the world to attempt the useless task of trying to intimidate him. Stawell is only a small country town, but its woollen mill is of considerable importance to that community. I have to fight for those men. who tell me that if this duty goes on they will lose their jobs. That is sufficient justification for my attitude. I am not in the magnificent position of the honorable member for “Warringah (Mr. Parkhill) who is fighting for 6,250,000 people. I am fighting for the interests of about 600 voters in Corangamite. That is a very important matter to me. I urge the Minister to postpone the item. I know, too, that the Maryborough Knitting Mills will be very much affected by this increase in duties, and I do not desire to see any more people thrown out of work.
.- I intend to support the amendment, although not on the grounds advocated by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley). I support it because I desire, first of all, to postpone these duties, as they are excessive, and again because of the failure of the Minister to produce the report of the Tariff Board on cotton yarns. A great deal has been said about the magnitude of these increases. I point out to the committee, and especially to the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) that the increases shown in the schedule do not include the 50 per cent, surcharge to which these items are subject. It will be realized when that 50 per cent, surcharge is taken into consideration, that an extraordinarily high level of protection will be given to these items that cannot fail to increase substantially the price of all articles of clothing made out of cotton piece goods, whether imported or manufactured in Australia. As the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) pointed out, the old duty was 30 per cent. British, or 2s. 6d. per lb. Under the new tariff the duty is to be 2s. 6d. per lb., and 30 per cent., but if we add the surcharge to this, the new duty will be 3s. 9d. per lb., and 45 per cent. That is the British rate, which is substantially lower than either the intermediate or the general rate. These duties, extraordinary as they are, represent only the beginning of the protection afforded to this industry. It also receives a large measure of assistance hy way of bounty payable directly from the Treasury. There is a bounty of lid. per lb. on seed cotton, amounting to 4Jd. per lb. on cotton yarn of the popular Wo. 16 count. Then again, there is a bounty of one-third of a penny on cotton yarn of No. 16 count, which amounts to a further 5.3d. per lb., or a total bounty on each lb. of cotton of 9.8d. per lb., whereas the landed cost of imported cotton yarn of No. 16 count is ls. 7d. per lb. Then we have the new cotton yarn duty imposed in item 392. Here again there have been very large increases. The old duty was 35 per cent., whereas the new one is 35 per cent., plus a specific new duty of 6d. per lb. on all imported yarn. Altogether, therefore as against imported cotton yarn worth ls. 7d. per lb., there is a total protection by way of duty and straight out bounty of ls. lOd. per lb., or 115 per cent., much of it paid in spot cash. That is the basis on which the Government now begins to build the further greatly increased duties on cotton piece goods containing yarn which is, or could be, produced in Australia. I have said before in this House that the bolstering up of the cotton industry is easily the most expensive piece of protection in which this Parliament has ever engaged. The new duties will have the effect of doubling or even trebling the cost of cotton clothing as compared with what it might be sold for. Such a policy is most undesirable, especially at this time.
Therefore, I rejoice at the prospect of any postponement of this item. There are many ways in which the Minister could overcome the difficulties he has raised. He pleaded that the item contained piece goods made up in materials other than cotton, hut if he wishes to deal fairly with the committee, let him exclude from the item cotton piece goods, and let him take in, if he likes, artificial silk or woollen piece goods. I would prefer, however, that he postponed the item altogether, or negatived it insofar as these increased duties are concerned.
– The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill) placed before the committee a detailed statement regarding the wages, hours of labour, and working conditions of those employed in the cotton industry in Victoria. The honorable member, in my opinion, only succeeded in proving that those who represent industrial constituencies in New South Wales should do everything in their power to maintain the standards of employment which have been secured in their State. His remarks should strengthen them in their determination to fight against the proposed reduction of wages in New South Wales. The honorable member said that it was unfair to ask the employers in New South Wales to pay higher wages than were being paid by their friends in Victoria. I do not complain because he holds that opinion, because he is advocating the cause of those he represents, but I point out that, while the hours of labour in this industry are 45 in Victoria, the application of the employers in New South Wales is for a 48-bour week.
– That is not to say that it will be granted.
– If the employers in New South Wales are successful in this application, the position will be that. Victorian employers will want their hours increased, and a state of affairs will very quickly grow up in which the employers will seek to make the lowest wage rates and the longest hours prevailing in any part of Australia the standard for the whole of Australia. If the employers in any State are able to bring sufficient pressure to bear to reduce wages or lengthen hours, owing, for instance, to the weakness of trade unions, that will be used as an argument in this chamber and elsewhere for applying that lower standard to all parts of Australia. I do not complain because the honorable member for Warringah puts the case as he sees it; because that is his job in this chamber; but I do not wish honorable members on this side of the chamber to be misled into accepting his arguments. The workers of Australia, or indeed of any part of the world, have won such amenities as they enjoy only by close organization and effort. I have heard the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) say in this House that if the working farmers are to better their condition, they must organize and make their strength felt iii the politics of the country. In that I agree with him. The same reasoning applies to the industrial workers. It is because they have organized, and because they have built up their trade unions, that they have been able to win for themselves such wage rates and working conditions as they now enjoy. If they had not taken that action, the question of preserving such standard of living as is now theirs would never have arisen. There would be nothing to preserve. If we accept that principle - and I am sure it is accepted by most honorable members on this side, for many of them have been associated with the trade union movement - we must realize that at no cost should we surrender the favorable position won in those States where a higher standard of living prevails. There should be no support from this side of the House for the policy advocated by the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill). The Minister said that he had taken steps to see that the interests of the cottonpickers in his own State had been safeguarded to the fullest extent. I applaud him for his action, but I wish to impress upon him that he should not confine his interest to the welfare of the workers in his own State.
– I have taken action to protect the interests of the cotton-pickers because I, as Minister, have power to do that.
– The Minister has done right, and I applaud him for it.
The cotton industry is particularly associated with Queensland ; but I do not mention that for the purpose of suggesting that the Minister, who hails from that State, is concerned only for the interests of the workers of the north. The Minister, as I have pointed out, has been successful in affording those workers the protection they deserve, and my contention is that he, and others who support the Government, should do what is possible to assist and protect the workers engaged in the secondary side of the industry in other States. The field workers in Queensland have informed me that they are in sympathy with the fight being waged on behalf of the factory workers. I am convinced that Victorian representatives on this side of the House will see the wisdom of endeavouring to maintain the 44-hour week in’ New South Wales, and of preserving the present rate of wages, because once the present standard is lowered in New South Wales there will be very little prospect of the workers of Victoria ever being ,able to win back the conditions they enjoyed before the recent reduction. The Government has publicly declared itself to be in opposition to the Arbitration Court’s recent 10 per cent, wage cut. The Government took such action as it thought to be within its powers to oppose the application. It failed in its endeavours, but it has definitely proclaimed itself to be opposed to the policy of wage slashing. Although it failed to prevent the reduction ordered by the federal court, it can take such action now as will be successful in preventing the cutting of wages in the cotton-milling industry. I agree with the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Crouch) that if the Government showed its sympathy with the workers, and deferred consideration of this item, the manufacturers would very quickly agree to an arrangement which would be favorable to their employees.
– The honorable member for Corangamite said that the manufacturers had not asked for the duty.
– I am sure that there will be no need for the Minister for Trade and Customs to intervene in the matter. I do not suggest that he should. “His job lies in another direction. If it is desirable that some representative of the Government should preside over a conference between the parties, there is an Assistant Minister for Industry who could very well do the work. This Government favours industrial conferences for the settlement of disputes, and the holding of such a conference on this occasion would tend to establish the practice.
It is being more and more accepted in all parts of the world to-day, and has been emphasized in recent American publications, that wage reduction is not going to solve national problems and is not in the interests of the countries in which it is practised. Most reasonable persons will agree that if the purchasing power of the people is reduced, they can no longer be in a position to purchase so much of what the industries of the country produce. If protection is applied in any country to stimulate local industry, it is utterly wrong at the same time to reduce the wages of the workers and thereby prevent them from purchasing the products of the industries which have been assisted. It is vitally necessary that every means should be adopted to establish a home market for our industries. If wages are reduced in the textile industry they will, no doubt, be reduced in other industries also, and the home market for the product of both our secondary and primary industries, will be restricted and, in some respects, destroyed. The employers have adopted a sta.nd-and-deliver attitude in regard to this matter, and it is within the power of this Government to let them know that they cannot have things entirely their own way. If they insist upon forcing down the wages and living conditions of their employees, the Government should see that it metes out similar treatment to them, more especially if they take advantage of the protection afforded by the tariff to exploit the public. It has been suggested that if this or that duty is removed or decreased, the result will be increased unemployment. The secretary of the textile workers’ organization in New South Wales has informed me that the increased duties have not been the means of giving additional employment to members of that organization.
– Rubbish !
– I do not know whether that is all that is in the honorable member’s mind, but I am prepared to take the word’, of the secretary of the textile workers? organization before that of any manufacturer in the- textile industry. Those of us who have sought aid’ for- the unemployed have questioned dozens of men and women engaged in this industry, and they are all of opinion that no extra hands have been engaged in it. “We have sent many people along to the manufacturers, and in each case they have returned with the story that no hands are wanted. The same old story has been told over and over again. The Minister has said that if we postpone the duty on certain lines thousands will be thrown out of employment.
– That is what Mr. Larke, the general secretary of the textile workers’ organization, informed me.
– It is a form of intimidation on the part of the employers, and I refuse to accept their word before that of the secretary of the organization in New South Wales.
– I hope that the Minister will defer the vote on this item, but not for the reason given by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley). He looks at this item from the point of view only of the trade unions in New South Wales. Other honorable members have said that four of the States are under federal awards which have given satisfaction to employer and employee alike. The allegation that prices have not been reduced, although duties have been increased, has been refuted, because prices have been reduced by something like 21 per cent, in many of the mills throughout the Commonwealth. I ask the Minister to defer consideration of this item until the report of the Tariff Board is available, because that report will be of undoubted value in the debate.
– The report deals only with cotton yarns, while this item relates to woollen and cotton and silk and cotton goods.
– Surely the Minister is aware that an inquiry into cotton yarns bears a relation to cotton piece goods? Various inquiries were made by the Tariff Board into the metal trade, but the report on the steel and iron industry was deferred. Iron, and steel form the base of most manufactures in the metal industry, yet, because of the absence of the report, the duties on many manuf actures of metal were increased to a much greater extent than, they should have been. A similar mistake may be made, in this instance. The Tariff Board has inquired into cotton yarns, and its report has been made to the Minister. For some reason he is hiding it.
– Long before we come to item 392, the Tariff Board’s report on cotton yarn will be made available to honorable members.
– Surely the Minister is aware that cotton yarns bear a relation to cotton piece good’s.-
– Very little.
– Cotton is the base material in the manufacture of cotton and silk and cotton and woollen articles.
– Does not the honorable member wish to help the producers of the raw material?
– I am considering not the producers, but the tariff on piece goods. The Minister has said that if this duty is imposed employment will be increased, hut I suggest that the growing unemployment with which we are faced shows that the Minister has overestimated his power to create work. He fervently believes that he can increase employment by simply increasing duties, but the result has proved otherwise. The excessive tariffs have shattered established importing businesses, which previously ‘ contributed, through the customs, large sums of money to the Commonwealth revenue. I have no doubt that the increased duties have benefited, a few people in the Minister’s own electorate. However, I urge him to defer the consideration of this item. If he refuses to. do that,. I shall vote for the amendment.
– I was inclined to vote for the motion for postponement as a protest against the Minister refusing to take the slightest heed of the request made to him to produce the report of the Tariff Board on cotton yarn, but I decline to vote for it now that the honorable member for West Sydney has further explained his reason for moving it. He spent much, time in pointing out what organized Labour had won, and what it was entitled to do. I agree that Labour is entitled to what it can get. It is entitled to a fair thing. The employee has just as much right to. organize for the betterment of his wages and conditions as the employer has to: organize for the protection of his interests. But what is overlooked by the honorable member is that in that process a tremendous injustice is likely to be done to another class of the community - the general public. The honorable member for West Sydney has proposed the deferring of this duty because the employers in the textile industry have made application to the Arbitration Court. Why does he object to the case of the textile workers going be-fore that, tribunal? It may he that the court’s decision would be in favour of the unionists. Because a section of the employers in this country propose to take an action which they are legally entitled to take, because they propose to go before the Arbitration Court, in order to settle their disputes, the honorable member for West Sydney has contended that they be denied the tariff protection proposed under this schedule. If the employers were summarily reducing the wages of their employees there would be some ground for his argument, but the employers merely wish to approach the Arbitration Court so that the conditions of employment in the industry may be brought into line with those applying in other industries in Australia. The court may decide differently.
– The court only carries out the desires of the employers; it does not give justice to the workers.
– J was assuming that the Labour party believed in the policy of arbitration, and in the integrity of the Arbitration Court, and, despite what the honorable member for- East Sydney has said, I still believe that the great majority of the Labour members in this House believe in r.he justice and integrity of that institution. That the employers in a particular industry wish to take advantage of the arbitration laws which were supported by the Labour party, and upon which they won the last federal election., is no ground for withholding the consideration of this item. Do.es >the motion to postpone mean that if the two parties in this industry come to a mutual arrangement they are bo be entitled to, ask this Parliament for whatever- duties, they desire?. That is what is happening to-day. It is wrong in principle because it ignores the biggest interest of all - that of the general public’ It is a species of blackmail that should not be tolerated. The honorable member for West Sydney has said that if we postpone this item we shall compel the employers to, seek a conference iri order to come to some arrangement with the unio.n concerned, and that, 30 soon as that is done, this duty should be imposed. No more nefarious or pernicious action has ever before been advocated in any Parliament. It should be stopped at once. It should be made perfectly clear that the tariff is to be f ramed and considered by this Australian Parliament, due consideration being given to the great mass of the consumers, as well as to those who are engaged in the industry. Much as I should like to compel the Minister to produce the report of the Tariff Board, I will not support the motion of the honorable member for West Sydney.
.- When” I spoke previously I was. under the impression that the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) had moved- that this item be deferred. I have no wish to be associated with the members of the Lang group, who, in the same way as Mr. Lang is defying the Commonwealth, would now defy the Commonwealth Arbitration Court with the object of making the State Arbitration Court supreme in New South Wales. If the honorable member for Henty’- moves, after the vote has been taken on the motion of the honorable member for West Sydney, I shall give him my support.
.- In a previous speech I said that I would vote for the motion “to postpone, but not for the reasons stated by the mover. On reflection, I have decided that a vote in favour df that motion might be interpreted as support of the views of the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr.
Beasley). In no circumstances would I have my attitude misconstrued in that way, and therefore, I shall vote against the motion.
Question - (Mr. Beasley’s motion to postpone) - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. McGrath.)
Majority . . . . 42
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- No satisfactory explanation has been given of the tremendous increase of the duty on sub-item aa2 by the substitution of “and” for “or”, the effect of which is to make the two duties cumulative instead of alternative. In addition, this is an item on which a surcharge of 50 per cent, of the existing duty is imposed. That represents an enormous increase on the duties in force in 1928. The Minister stated this afternoon that the most recent report by the Tariff Board in regard to the piece goods included in this item dates back to 1927. In the absence of other information it is reasonable to assume that the 1928 duties conformed to the recommendations in the 1927 report.
I therefore move -
That the item be further amended by adding to sub-item (aa) the following: - “And on and after the 28th May, 1931- (aa) Piece goods, knitted or lock-stitched, in tubular form or otherwise, of any material except when wholly of wool -
1 ) For the manufacture of goods other than apparel, as prescribed by departmental by-lays, ad val. British, free; intermediate, 5 per cent.; general, 15 per cent.
Other, per lb., British, 2s.6d. ; intermediate, 3s.; general, 4s.; or ad val., British, 30 per cent. ; intermediate, 40 per cent.; general, 50 per cent. whichever rate returns the higher duty” .
Duties of 2s. 6d., 3s., and 4s. per lb. with a 50 per cent, surcharge should be sufficient protection for the industry; if they are not, the industry is costing us more than it is worth. Surely some limit must be imposed on the height to which the tariff wall may be raised to shut out external competition. As the Minister stated this afternoon, this Parliament has no power to fix prices, and, therefore, it has no means of protecting the consumers in respect of the prices charged for goods produced in Australian factories except by leaving the tariff door ajar to admit of some competition from abroad.
Mr.Forde. - Keen competition within Australia has caused prices’ to drop between 14 per cent, and 33 per cent, in the last two years.
– What then is the need for a very high fixed duty plus an ad valorem duty and a 50 per cent, surcharge ?
– All manufacturers within Australia are on the same basis, but they cannot hope to compete against the importers.
– The Tariff Board’s report of 1927 said that other cotton piece goods not specifically mentioned in item 105 aa, b, and c should not be protected by any higher duty. If the Minister cannot, or will not, produce a more up-to-date report, this committee is entitled to assume that the piece goods covered by item aa2 were included in the “other piece goods not specifically mentioned” which the Tariff Board declared in 1927 should not be further protected. Honorable members sitting on this side do not desire that any cotton goods should be imported which can be economically produced in Australia, but the prices of local goods must compare reasonably with those of goods from abroad. We have to ask ourselves how much handicap is to be imposed on outside goods, the competition of which is the only means of regulating the prices and quality of the local article. The duties that were in operation in 1928, plus a 50 per cent, surcharge, are more than ample for the industry.
Question - That the amendment (Mr. Paterson’s) be agreed to - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. McGrath.)
Majority . . . . 11
Question so resolved in the negative.
Question - That the sub-item be agreed to - put. The committee divided. ( Chairman - Mr. McGrath.)
Majority . . . . 18
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
. -I take it that the duties on both artificial silk and pure silk goods are in the main revenue imposts. It has always appeared to me to be an anomaly that the duty on artificial silk should be 25 per cent., and on pure silk 10 per cent. Artificial silk is the wearing apparel of relatively poor people, as compared with silk, which is a luxury. I should have thought that, in these needy days, without striking a heavy blow at any particular country, and inviting retaliation, we might have imposed a higher revenue duty than 10 per cent, on pure silk.
Question - That sub-item b be agreed to - put. The committee divided. ( Chairman - Mr. McGrath.).
Majority . . 22
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That sub-itemc be agreed to - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. McGrath.)
Majority . . . . 21
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
By omitting the whole of sub-item (d) (three times occurring) and inserting in its stead the following sub-item: - “(d) (1) Artificial silk, or containing artificial silk or having artificial silk worked thereon, except piece goods enumerated in sub-items (aa) and (f) - ad val., British, 25 per cent; intermediate, 30 per cent.: general, 35 per cent.
.-I move -
That the item be further amended by adding to sub-item (d) the following: - “ And on and after the 28th May, 1931-
Artificial silk, or containing artificial silk or having artificial silk worked thereon, except piece goods enumerated in clauses (b) and (c) of paragraph (1.) of sub-item (a) and in sub-items (aa) and (f) ad val., British, 25 per cent. ; intermediate, 30 per cent.; general.35 per cent.
Silk, or containing silk or having silk worked thereon, except piece goods enumerated in clauses (b) and (c) of paragraph (1) of sub-item (a), in paragraph (1) of sub-item (b). and in sub-items(aa) and (f) - ad val., British, 10 per cent.; intermediate,22½ per cent.; general. 30 per cent.”
The effect of this amendment is to exclude from the operation of this sub-item goods which it was intended should fall under item 105 a 1 b or c which has already been dealt with. As item 105d stands, it is possible to include within it such lines as cotton tweeds and other similar materials . used for outer wear, containing a thread of silk or arti- ficial silk. Ithas been observed that overseas manufacturers are producing such lines in order to evade the duties under item 105 a 1 b and c, which were imposed for the protection of Australian textile manufacturers. It will he noted that a precedent has been established in the case of knitted piece goods - item 105 aa and woollen piece goods item 105 f. This amendment, if adopted, should effectively dispose of any further attempts to defeat the protective incidence of the tariff. If this amendment were not adopted cotton tweeds containing stripes of artificial silk, perhaps half an inch apart, would be dutiable under the lower rate.
Question- That the amendment (Mr. Forde’s) be agreed to - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. McGrath.)
Majority . . . . 20
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Question - That sub-item d, as amended, be agreed to - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. McGrath).
Majority . . . . 27
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That sub-item e, paragraph 2 be agreed to - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. McGrath).
Majority . . . . 22
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
By omitting the whole of sub-item (f) and inserting in its stead the following sub-item: - “ (f) (1) Piece Goods, woollen, or containing wool, ordinarily used in the manufacture of outer clothing for human wear and weighing more than three ounces per square yard - per square yard, British, 2s.; intermediate, 2s.6d.; general, 3s., and ad val., British, 35 per cent.; intermediate, 45 per cent.; general, 50 per cent.”
.- Item f 1 deals with “Piece goods, woollen, or containing wool, ordinarily used in the manufacture of outer clothing for human wear and weighing more than three ounces per square yard,” upon which the British duty is 2s. per square yard and 35 per cent, ad val. These rates are now absurdly excessive owing to the operation of both the flat rate, increased from1s. to 2s., and the ad val. rate, raised from 30 per cent, to 35 per cent. The most serious aspect of the subject is, however, the all-round increase in the range of goods covered by the item, which now includes all woollen piece goods weighing more than, three ounces per square yard, instead of six ounces as previously. Wool crepe de chine from Great Britain, wool jersey from France, and wool georgette are examples.
In order that honorable members may appreciate the full effect of this duty, I point out that the f.o.b. price of British wool crepe de chine is 4s. 8d. per square yard. Under the old rate of duty, the landed cost of this fabric was 7s. 3d. per yard; under the new duties it is 10s. 3d. per yard, or 120 per cent, above the f.o.b. price. No attempt is made by the Australian manufacturers to produce wool crepe de chine, the production of which was specially undertaken in Great Britain in order to put on the market a light woollen cloth which could compete with artificial silk. The hold that artificial silk was gaining on the market was so seriously affecting the woollen industry that the manufacturers felt it necessary to produce this type of woollen material suitable for outer wearing apparel for women and children. In the manufacture of this cloth, Australian wool is used, and the competition of artificial silk goods has been met, at least to some extent. Under the duty now in operation the importation of this material has, however, been practically prohibited, while, at the same time, a special preference has been given to artificial silk.
Wool jersey, made in France, is another similar item. The f.o.b. price of this cloth is 5s. 9d. per yard. Prior to the imposition, of the present duty, it could be landed in Australia for 9s. l0d. per yard, whereas it now costs 15s. l0d. per yard to land it here, or 175 per cent, more than the f.o.b. price.
Wool georgette at 5s. per yard f.o.b., previously cost8s. 7d. per yard to land, while it now costs 13s.1d. landed, or 162 per cent, in excess of the f.o.b. price. The landed costs quoted do not provide for abnormal exchange rates, which make the prices considerably higher.
The effect of this duty on one very well-known British material was to increase the retail price to 12s. per yard as against 4s.11d. per yard at which it is sold in England. The exchange at the time this price was fixed was only 10 per cent. The manufacturers of this fabric have a factory in Australia, employing Australian labour for turning into garments here its cloths made overseas. In the past this company has bought Australian wool with every penny realized from its Australian sales, and spent a good deal of other money besides. It continues to buy Australian wool, but there is now little incentive to it to give preference to the Australian product as against that of other dominions which do not impose prohibitive tariffs against its own manufactured products. If these goods came into active competition with Australian goods, there might be some justification for a high protective tariff; but they are a highly specialized product which is not made in Australia, and, I . am informed, is not likely to be manufactured here for the present. The goods in question have certain definite advantages and uses, and cannot he replaced, either in quality or in quantity, by Australian goods. The effect of the duty is to deprive the Australian public of the benefits of this popular product, by making it too expensive for them to buy; consequently, trade which legitimately belongs to woollen goods is diverted to artificial silks and other cheaper imported fabrics. It will be seen, therefore, that not only does the Australian manufacturer derive no benefit from the duty, but the producers of wool also suffer by the Minister’s action in bringing about a decrease in the consumption of woollen goods. This class of light woollen clothing has been manufactured mainly in Great Britain and Trance in order to meet the competition of artificial silks and other substitutes for wool. Since the imposition of this duty, some Australian manufacturers who specialized in the production of light woollen fabrics have closed their factories, while others have closed the portions of their factories previously devoted to the manufacture of goods made from the imported materials, because the high prices necessarily charged for such goods place them beyond the reach of the public. Honorable members will see that this item in the tariff has meant a falling off in the consumption of woollen goods, and has increased the difficulty of disposing of our wool yield. It has also added considerably to the number of unemployed persons in our midst. I should not be surprised if this duty has thrown more men out of work than the Government claims to have been employed as a result of it. I am satisfied that this item has been directly responsible for considerable accretions to the ranks of the unemployed. I have here two samples of wool crepe de chine. The wool crepe de chine in the first garment which I have just submitted to the Minister, cost ls. 3d. per square yard. The factory costs of manufacturing the wool amounted to 3s. lid. per square yard, the duty represented 6s. 9d. per square yard. Without any freight or insurance charges, the garment cost 10s. 7d. per yard. Here is an article made of Australian wool which costs the public to land in Aus tralia 10s. 7d. a yard, while the grower nf the wool received only ls. 3d. per square yard of the material. The chief item in the excessive cost of this material is the heavy duty. I again emphasize that this material is not made in Australia.
– Better material is made in Australia.
– I have been definitely informed that such is not the case. I have also a sample of a French-made jersey, the landed cost of which is 9s. Id., although the value of the wool in it is only about ls. 2d.
– Who cares about that?
– Apparently the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Keane) does not. If the imposition of prohibitive duties decreases the use of woollen goods, we help neither the producer of the wool nor the Australian workers. The samples which I have exhibited are only two out of at least 50 classes of articles which are similarly penalized under this item. They are not made in Australia, and are not likely to be made here at present. This duty strikes a serious blow at our wool industry by encouraging the wearing of artificial silk. A heavy duty on these woollen goods, which are worn chiefly by women and children, means either that people pay more for them or are forced to wear substitutes.
– The honorable member favours a prohibitive duty on sugar.
– Both Houses of Parliament have decided to support the sugar industry in Australia, and to renew the agreement. I hope that for the next three years Parliament will recognize that a decision has been given on the sugar question, and that the decision will be accepted without further criticism. I expect honorable members to accept the decision which has been given in respect of sugar, as I shall accept the decision of the committee on this item.
The imposition of high duties on articles manufactured in other countries which buy wool from us in large quantities, when such goods are not manufactured by us, has resulted in their adopting a policy of retaliation. Australia’s prosperity depends largely upon our ability to sell our primary products in overseas markets. Employment for workers in secondary industries is dependent on the purchasing power of the people, which in turn reflects, the success or otherwise of our primary industries. Every action, therefore, which retards or restricts reciprocal trade between Australia and other countries which buy our primary products, makes it more difficult for our primary industries to carry on. I submit that a careful revision of the tariff would reveal many articles which could with advantage be purchased from Great Britain and other nations, and remove the causes for retaliatory action by them. Obviously, the adoption of a policy which unnecessarily restricts our purchases from countries which are the principal buyers of our exportable surplus must eventually react upon ourselves. Decreased purchases from Britain will inevitably mean decreased sales by us to Britain. It is not sufficient’ to say that the tariff gives preference to Britain, for where the preferential duties are so high as to amount to prohibition, the preference is of no value. France has already retaliated against our clumsy and ill-considered tariff. Since the introduction of the tariff schedule in November, 1929, that country has imposed retaliatory duties by way of a super tax of 200 per cent, above the previous rates on Australian butter and wheat. Prior to the imposition of the French super tax, the duty on Australian butter entering France was 16s. 4d. per cwt. The super tax raised the duty to 49s. per cwt. As in the case of wheat, the French tariff on Australian butter has been raised until, exclusive of the super tax, it is 32s. 9d. per cwt., and inclusive of that tax, 9Ss. 3d. per cwt. Before the imposition of the super tax, France placed a duty of ls. 6d. per bushel on Australian wheat; under the super tax the duty became 4s. 6d. per bushel. The French tariff has since been raised to 3s. 6d. per bushel exclusive of the super tax, or 10s. 6d. a bushel inclusive of that tax. Japan, Germany, Belgium and Italy are also big purchasers of our principal primary products, on which we depend for our financial recovery.
The following table shows that the balance of trade with those countries is in our favour to the extent of £39,144,000 per annum : -
A large proportion of the goods which we buy from those countries comprises articles manufactured from raw materials which we sell to them. They are, moreover, articles which, for the most part, are not made in Australia. Those countries, with Great Britain, constitute the chief purchasers of our surplus primary products. During 1928-29 Great Britain purchased from Australia foodstuffs of animal origin, including butter and meat, to the value of £11,000,000. Purchases of foodstuffs of vegetable origin, including fruit, wheat, flour and sugar, represented £13,000,000. Other items were wines, whisky, &c, £540,000 ; animal substances, including wool, hides and skins, £22,700,000; vegetable substances, such as cotton, gums and resins, £165,000; oils and fats, £427,000 ; minerals, £4,000,000. Miscellaneous items bring the total to £55,000,000.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. McGrath).I remind the honorable gentleman that the time has passed for making secondreading speeches.
– I was indicating that Great Britain, France and other countries buy large quantities of our exportable surplus of primary products, and that the action of the Government in imposing heavy duties interferes with our trade in those primary products. I mentioned, also, the retaliatory action taken by France. During 1928-29 Australia’s exports to France were valued at £15,200,000. Those exports included meat and butter, £16,000; wheat and barley, £500,000; wool, hides and skins, £14,500,000 ; minerals, £80,000 ; vegetable substances, £214,000.
I am a strong protectionist, and an* always willing and anxious to assist any deserving Australian industry; but, where an item in the tariff does serious injury to our overseas trade, and causes hardship to both our primary producers and those engaged in secondary industries, I feel that it is time for us to call a halt, and to register our protest against it. These heavy duties cannot possibly help Australia. In order to regain our prosperity we must find a market for our wool, wheat, butter and other primary products. People will not buy woollen goods if, for articles of clothing, the wool in which is worth only 1.3d., they are asked to pay over 10s. a yard when cheaper artificial silk goods are available. The additional duties will assist no one in Australia, and they will do serious injury to many. I move -
That the item be further amended by adding to sub-item (f) (1) the following: - “And on and after the 28th May, 1931-“ (1)Piece goods, woollen, or containing wool, ordinarily used in the manufacture of outer clothing for human wear and weighing more than three ounces per square yard - per square yard, British,1s.; intermediate, Is. lid.; general, 2s., and ad val.. British, 30 per cent.; intermediate, 40 per cent., general, 45 per cent.”
I am informed that there has been no request from Australian manufacturers for these increased duties.
– That statement indicates that the honorable member does not know what he is talking about. I have had numerous deputations on the subject from many manufacturers.
– I have been informed that there has been no request for the increased duties.
– That is not true.
– I suggest that the matter should have been submitted to the Tariff Board, or that, if the Minister has the board’s report on this item, he should make it available to the committee, and endeavour to justify his action in bringing down these proposals. If my amendment is accepted, it will give the Australian woollen industry a better opportunity to find a market for its product which is so much needed. I am informed that neither the articles covered by this item, nor. anything like them, are manufactured in Australia. Many letters have been sent to the Minister indicating the serious injury that will result if the duties are maintained, and I urge the honorable gentleman and the House to accept my amendment.
– I support the amendment of the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis). I express my regret that the limitation of weight under this sub-item has been altered from 6 oz. to 3 oz. per square yard without being referred to the Tariff Board. The Minister has circulated the report of the board dated the 20th June, 1930, on this item and sub-item, but that report specifically states that the inquiry was confined to a request to alter the definition, “ but not including flannel “. If there is another report on the subject which the Minister has not circulated, I suggest that he should postpone the consideration of the item until copies of it have been supplied to honorable members. Incidentally, I should like to acknowledge the prompt manner in which the Minister has, on the whole, circulated the reports of the Tariff Board. In many cases he has seen that honorable members were supplied with copies before the report was tabled. I, for one, very much appreciate that courtesy. The fact, that the honorable gentleman has been obliging in a number of instances make all the more conspicuous those cases in which he has suppressed other reports. I hope that the Minister will tell the committee whether this matter was referred to tie Tariff Board, or whether he has haphazardly rushed in and altered the schedule, with the result that a good deal of money has been put into the pockets of certain manufacturers; but also with the result that much has been done to nullify the efforts that have been made to assist the woollen industry to compete in the manufacture of more attractivelooking fabrics. The woollen industry, supplemented by other industries, has subscribed tens of thousands of pounds to a research fund, in an endeavour to devise technical means to overcome the trade disadvantages under which wool suffers, as compared with silk and artificial silk. As honorable members know, wool is a textile fibre which has specially valuable qualities for clothing purposes. It has warmth, certain elasticity, and durability. At the same time as compared ‘with artificial silk and cotton it has certain disadvantages; it is less showy, will not take dyes so easily, shrinks when washed, and has not the light attractiveness of those materials. One of the results of that technical research has been the production of these light and attractive fabrics, with a weight averaging between 3 and 6 oz. per square yard. Their manufacture has led to a revival in the use of wool, and also to a restriction of the output of artificial silk. In the circumstances it is most unjust and unwise to impose a duty such as this. Even if the local manufacturers used only half of the duty it doubles the price of these woollen goods in Australia, and lessens their competitive power against substitutes.
– The prices of woollen goods have been reduced since these duties were introduced.
– Merely in conformity with the general reductions that have occurred all-over the world. Perhaps the honorable gentleman has some samples which compare favorably with those of the honorable member for Moreton, and which he can submit, Avith prices, to honorable members while they are waiting for the report of the Tariff Board. The committee may then be able to appreciate exactly what handicap the Minister is placing upon the marketing of Australian wool by introducing these duties.
It seems exceedingly short-sighted to impose heavier duties on woollen than on silk and artificial silk goods. I have no special bias in the matter of duties, but I believe in the woollen industry, for which there is a good prospect of effective and economical expansion. The imposition of this heavy duty will make such endeavours futile, and decrease the amount of wool that is now used in this country. Some honorable members opposite who represent city constituencies, and others, like the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Lewis), who come from partly rural districts, believe that if a duty enables a few more men to be employed, it is some gain. They overlook the fact that if, because of the excessive increase in price, less of the commodity will be used, great hardship may be inflicted, which may result in many more being thrown out of work. Recently funds have been collected in South Australia to give relief to farmers’ families in certain back country districts, while in the constituency of at least one honorable member opposite, there have actually been cases where children could not be sent to school because they were only clothed in bags. The Minister for Trade and Customs apparently ignores the suffering that he is causing by this indiscriminate imposition of duties. I do think that the honorable gentleman is deliberately causing misery. I attribute it to his lack of vision; to his desire to please those who live in the suburbs of Sydney, and the few monopolists and manufacturers who wait upon him in deputations.
– The Minister would support an increase of duty on any item.
– Probably he would. I do not stand for duties of this nature, when people cannot afford to buy even the simplest clothes. If honorable members have taken notice of the trend of the prices of our main commodities, they must be aware of the immense influence that Japanese competition has had lately on our wool prices. That is the result of a comparatively recent change of habit in Japan. The Japanese are particularly fond of their children. In the past, infantile mortality was exceedingly heavy in that country. At the time the Japanese were a silk-wearing people. Gradually European doctors educated them up to the advantages of wool for children’s clothing with the result that the use of » that material in Japan has increased enormously and the infantile death rate diminished. It would appear that the Minister is heedlessly following a policy which may reverse the case in Australia. While some Australian children are forced to resort to bagging for clothes, duties such as these make their chance of obtaining proper covering more and more difficult.
I do not propose to refer in detail to the many other objections that were advanced against these duties by the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis). It is well known that these imposts are causing other nations to take retaliatory measures against Australia. It will be recollected that recently certain British wool manufacturers supported a campaign against the granting in Great Britain of preferential duties to Australian primary products. That is merely one example of the hostility engendered abroad by these irritating and short-sighted duties. This feeling of hostility and resentment against the Australian tariff policy is responsible, to some extent at least, for the. present economic depression in Australia. Even if the Minister will not accept the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) I hope that he will agree to the postponement of the item until we have the report of the Tariff Board to guide us.
.- I have very little to say with respect to these particular duties, but any observations which I may make will represent, my views concerning not only this item, but the schedule as a whole. I feel that, if Australia cannot find a market for the products of its wool and wheat industries, it will be impossible for this country to get out of its present difficulties. We must, therefore, assist, as far as possible, the sale of these commodities, and particularly the sale of our wool, in the world’s markets. To this end it is imperative that we should, for some time to come, be consumers of the manufactured products of the raw materials which we sell. Although there is at Albany, in Western Australia, in the constituency of the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse), an efficient woollen mill, its economic importance to Western Australia cannot be regarded as paramount to that of the great pastoral industry in that ‘ State. If the overseas purchasers of Western Australian wool are not to be permitted to sell any of their manufactured products in that State, obviously, there will be a general decline in the overseas demand for our wool, as well as provocation to economic retaliation which will make impossible the extension of an industry which has been one of our greatest assets in the past, and which, at the moment, is almost priceless in its value to the Commonwealth. particularly from the stand-point of our economic recovery. Therefore, I consider that the contention of the honorable member for Moreton is unanswerable. We must not consider this item only as to its effect in helping to establish the manufacturing industry for which the pastoral industry supplies the raw material. Australia has a very considerable overseas interest bill to meet every year, and to discharge our obligations we must have an excess value of exports. The imposition of unscientific protectionist duties against manufactures of the raw materials which we sell overseas will not help us in that direction. As a protectionist, 1 recognize that, if goods manufactured from our raw materials are not to have a competitive chance in the Australian market, our raw materials will not be given a competitive chance in overseas markets. It is upon this general principle, which, I think, goes to the very root of our fiscal policy, that I appeal to the Government now and indicate my intention to support the amendment.
. -When speaking in July of last year upon the general tariff debate, I referred to these increased duties on light woollen piece goods. On that occasion, strangely enough, I followed the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Curtin), as I happen to be following him now, and I recall that he spoke then as he spoke to-night. He took the view that it was not wise to encourage the establishment of industries in this country unless it could be proved definitely that ultimately they would be able to supply all our requirements at a reasonable cost. I agreed with him then, and I agree with the views which he expressed to-night. Last year I urged the Minister to make a careful investigation to ascertain that the increased duties would not detrimentally affect the interests of our wool industry. When the duties were introduced in June last, a number of the leading retail organizations in Melbourne, whose business it is to sell wearing apparel, approached the then Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Fenton). The Melbourne Argus, in a report of the interview with the Minister, stated that the deputation informed him that -
In their opinion the new duties would entail a change over to the cheaper fabrics of artificial silk and cotton, inevitably affect the prices for Australian wool, and cause a serious reduction in the value of Australia’s exports at a time when large exports alone could bring salvation to the country. To install the necessary plant to manufacture these fabrics in Australia would entail a risk that manufacturers, for a comparatively insignificant market, could not afford to take..
They asked that a full investigation should be made into the effects of this and certain other tariff increases before the schedule became law.
I have had several communications from the Brisbane Traders Association with regard to these duties. That organization, writing to me on the 7th July, 1930, maintained that these lightweight woollen piece goods were not being, and probably will not for many years be, produced in Australia.
– Light woollen piece goods affected by this item are being largely manufactured in Australia to-day.
– The Minister’s statement is at variance with the view expressed by the Brisbane Traders Association. That body informs me that these goods are not being manufactured to any extent in Australia, because, as I understand the position, the limited market available does not justify the installation of the necessary plant. There is no substitute obtainable locally for these particular goods. It must be remembered also that these medium priced dress materials are bought principally by working girls and wives of the workers. The Brisbane Traders Association states that the higher rates of duty will prohibit the importation of these goods, which are largely composed of fine Australian wool, and that the net result will be a further loss of revenue and a considerable decline in the demand for our wool. I feel sure that the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) will appreciate the probable effect of these duties upon a considerable number of his constituents engaged in the pastoral industry.
– In what way?
– I have been endeavouring to explain that the practical prohibition of these light woollen piece goods, which are manufactured entirely from Australian fine wools, will seriously affect the demand for our wool in those countries which have been our best customers.
– Why not manufacture the materials in Australia?
– The limited market available will not justify expenditure on the necessary plant. In the general discussion on the tariff I indicated that although it was desirable that we should encourage the manufacture of certain classes of woollen goods, I maintained that it would not pay manufacturers to give attention to the production of all our requirements including light woollen piece goods which are affected by this item.. I intend to support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis).
.- It is difficult to understand the attitude of those honorable members who declare that they are supporters of the protectionist policy and yet oppose these duties, which are intended for the protection of this natural Australian industry. Since we grow the best wool in the world, there is no justification for the importation of worsteds and light weight woollen piece goods.
– We are not dealing with worsteds.
– The item refers to light woollen piece goods, which are being produced in many factories throughout the Commonwealth. We have to meet an interest bill overseas of approximately £36,000,000 a year. It is obvious that, if we are to discharge our obligations) we must curtail our importations of those goods which can be manufactured in Australia. I have visited factories in Sydney, Melbourne, Geelong , Bendigo and Ballarat, and have no hestitation in saying that those establishments are in a position to satisfy the demands of the most fastidious women in the Commonwealth with regard to light weight dress materials.
– Hear, hear!
– I am glad to have the approval of the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Lewis). The mills in his electorate are working day and night on the production of this class of material. In the 1926 tariff, item 105f 1 covered only woollen piece goods weighing more than 6½ oz. per square yard, the invoice selling price of which did not exceed the equivalent of 3s. 4d. per square yard. In the 192S tariff, item 105 f 1, the weight per square yard was reduced to 6 oz. and the price limitation was removed. The importation of these goods has been colossal, but there has recently been a. substantial falling off, due to some extent, I admit, to the rate of exchange, but largely to the protectionist policy of this Government. For the year 1927-28, flannel importation’s were valued at £46,169, whereas for the year 1929-30, they amounted to only £26,440. The decline in importations in respect to other items is shown in the following statement : -
The proposed increases are as follow: - Under item 105 f 1, ls. per square yard and 5 per cent, ad valorem. The weight per square yard in this sub-item has been reduced to 3 oz. A duty of 10 per cent, ad valorem has also been imposed. Knitted piece goods, being an admixture of wool and other fibres, have been removed from this sub-item, and included in item 105 aa. No increase is proposed in item 105 f 3. It will be noted that importations for the years 1928-29 and 1929-30, as compared with the financial year 1927-28, have decreased by approximately £1,000,000, and this decrease is due primarily to three causes: - (1) The decrease in f.o.b. price; (2) the increase in Australian production; (3) and the increased use of artificial silk piece goods. Importations of artificial silk piece goods show a considerable increase, and such goods are becoming a competitor of woollen piece goods. Artificial silk has become a menace to the woollen industry throughout the world. Unless women’s fashions change, and they go in for wearing woollen dress materials and cashmere stockings as they did some years ago, the demand for artificial silk will no doubt go on increasing, and the woollen industry will further suffer.
– Will not these increased duties tend to encourage the use of artificial goods?
– No, I do not think so. Representations have been made to the Government to place a duty on artificial silk, and the request has been referred to the Tariff Board. In September, 1925, increased duties were imposed upon woollen piece goods to develop an industry which must be regarded as a natural secondary industry in a country growing so much wool. This duty was put on by the Bruce-Page Government while the late Mr. Pratten was Minister for Trade and Customs. Mr. Pratten said that no one could justify continuing the export of our finest wool to the other side of the world when it could be manufactured here. I have met many freetraders in this country, or at any rate, men with free trade tendencies-
– Some of them sit on the cross benches in this House. Such men have told me that they have no objection to granting protection to the Australian woollen manufacturing industry, because they regard it as a natural industry. We grow the wool here, and it is only proper that it should be spun and woven here also. Another alteration proposed is the deletion of the words “ but not including flannel “ which appeared in the 1921-28 tariff item. When flannel was excluded from the composite rates of duty under item 105 f 1 it was the intention to exclude only flannel of the kind used in the manufacture of underwear, but owing to the change of fashion in women’s dress material, flannel dress goods became the vogue, ‘and these goods entered the Commonwealth at the lower rates of duty provided for under item 105 f 2, despite the fact that they were competing with Australian woollen piece goods ordinarily used in the manufacture of outer clothing for human wear. Under the present proposal this anomaly is removed. As the Australian industry has progressed, woollen materials for outer wear weighing lei’s than 6 oz. per square yard have been manufactured in Australia, and the weight limit has been reduced from 6 oz. to 3 oz. per square yard in order that Australian manufacturers of woven materials for outer wear may have the same protection in respect of all the materials produced as was previously accorded them on materials weighing more than 6 oz. per square yard. The effect of the reduction in weight limit was immediately noticeable. A market hitherto unexploited by knitters and weavers was placed within their reach, and the opportunity was readily grasped.
– What about the prices?
– The goods are being sold at very reasonable prices. A considerable increase has been noted in the use in other countries of woollen fabrics, particularly light weight dress goods. This trend is considered by one authority to be due more to economic factors than fashions decree, and may be explained by the fact that woollen fabrics have been tending downward in price in relation to artificial silk. This greater use of woollen fabrics abroad would have meant the flooding of the local market with cheap dress woollens, probably “ end of season “ goods, at prices below cost of production. The Government by increasing the tariff on these goods has conserved a valuable market for local mills. It would have been impossible for our local manufacturers to compete against these threatened imports. The manufacturers have invested hundreds of thousands of pounds in factories in this country. They have been obliged to pay Australian rates of wages, and observe Australian working conditions, and they are, therefore, entitled to protection against importations from cheap-labour countries. The drop in the price of wool is having the effect of inducing the people to resume the use of wool for wearing apparel, and the effect will no doubt be felt in the Australian wool market. Reports from Victoria indicate that during the last few weeks soft-goods manufacturers are experiencing a trade revival. Some factories are finding it difficult to cope with orders, and full staffs are employed, and much overtime has to be worked. “Some of the woollen mills are not able to supply Orders quickly enough. At Geelong the mills are working day and night. From October, 1929, to the present time, there have been produced in Australia 5,669 new designs of wool cloths. Of that number, 4,119 represented entirely new cloth, while the range of new patterns totalled 65,132. Some of the new lines now being manufactured are gabardines, baratheas, marcolene, face cloth, gossamer tweeds, flecked flannel, tricotines, crepe cloths, knop tweeds, spot tweeds, briarproofs, georgettes, imitation astrachan, lace tweeds, a large variety of light weight dress goods for women’s wear, sports’ worsteds, fancy flannels, fancy dress goods, bunny blankets, and art serges. The large variety and quality of cloths now made are a credit to Australian factories, and their manufacture would never have been attempted but for the tariff. The consensus of opinion in the trade is that local woollen manufacturers have produced goods which the wholesalers and retailers never thought possible. The tariff has made all the difference between success and failure. In many cases the retailers would not believe that the samples shown to them1 were of Australian manufacture. They arc so prejudiced against local manufactures that the only way to convince them is to show them through the mills and let them see the material being made. There is no doubt that a great revival in the manufacture of woollen goods has taken place. That is evident to any one who goes through the mills at Geelong, Melbourne, and Sydney. Even before this trade revival the tariff had proved the means of keeping in employment many employees who otherwise would have been dismissed. In Victoria in
October, 1929, the employees engaged in the industry totalled 4,416, while in March of 1929 the employees numbered 3,900. The position of manufacturers in New South Wales indicates that exceptional progress has been made. Employment has increased from 2,667 in October of 1929 to 2,779 in March, 1931, this in spite of the depression. Increased investments in plant and buildings in that State total £222,843, while price reductions from IS per cent, to 33^ per cent, have been made since the increased tariff was imposed.
Another important matter to be considered in connexion with these duties is that the more firmly established the local woollen, manufacturing industry becomes, and the larger the range of goods manufactured, the greater is the demand for Australian wool by the local industry. The representatives in this Parliament of wool-growing districts should not overlook that fact. Local woollen manufacturers bidding for choice lines at the wool sales have pushed prices upwards. The Australian manufacturer has now become a factor at the wool sales, and his competition must be to the advantage of the wool-grower. I have here a letter from one of the leading wool-brokers of Australia, which emphasizes this aspect of the matter. I shall not disclose the name of the firm, because I have been asked to treat it as confidential.
– I rise to a point of order, Mr. Chairman. If the Minister is not prepared to disclose the name of the writer of the letter, he is not entitled to quote its contents.
– If the matter contained in the letter is germane to the subject before the Chair, I do not think that the honorable member’s objection can be sustained.
– The. letter is as follows :-
With reference to your inquiry regarding wool purchased on your account in this centre for hat-making purposes, I desire to state that wool suitable for your trade is, at all times, in keen demand, and I can assure you that when your orders are in the market for this type of wool, higher prices are paid than the overseas buyers are prepared to pay. The chief competitors for this class of wool are the Italian, American, and Belgian operators. I may ‘ state that there are always good orders in the market for hat-making wools from these countries, and at all times I am forced to pay very high prices owing to keen competition.
Owing to the fact that several of the wool experts in Brisbane know that I select for you, they always advise me if they have a line which they think will suit me, knowing that they will obtain higher prices with your competition. It is rather an anomaly, nevertheless, a fact, that in many instances higher prices have been paid for the short, heavy fleeces of a clip when the quality and length are suitable for hat-making purposes, than have been paid for the leading line of the same clip.
I might add that quite recently Japanese buyers have been questioning me regarding the special types of wool which are bought for hat-making, and I am of the opinion that before long they will bc operating on these wools.
Following on an instruction which you gave me some years ago to the effect that I was to purchase, irrespective of price, any line which I was positive would be suitable for your requirements, I have been able to outbid overseas buyers, and have, on different occasions, paid extreme prices, thus benefiting the wool-grower. Your orders in this market over the last twelve months have been of considerable importance, not only on those wools which have been ultimately purchased, but the competition on other lines has forced overseas buyers to pay higher prices.
That letter clearly proves that the competition of Australian manufacturers for the wool that is offering has a. tendency to increase the price paid by overseas buyers.
Provision is made under item 105 f 3 foi” the admission under by-law of woollen piece goods of a class or kind not manufactured in Australia, and no alteration is proposed in. this item. The department is at present admitting under by-law manufacturer’s trimmings in the nature of alpacas, lustres, Sicilians, and beige cloth for trimming or facing underwear.
It is asserted that these duties have had the effect of increasing prices to the consumers. It is as well that that misrepresentation should be nailed once and for all. John Vicars and Company Limited, a highly reputable Sydney firm, between 1929 and 1931, reduced the price of worsted suitings from 13s. 6d. to 10s. 6d. a yard.
– On a point of order, I submit that the Minister is ‘dealing with what is not included in this item.
– The Minister must confine his remarks to the item that is being debated.
– My remark has application to a number of these lines. Repeatedly I have been asked to show where there have been reductions; yet when I endeavour to do so, objection is raised to my action. The reductions in the prices of the goods that have been manufactured as a result of this duty range from 18 per cent, to 331/3 per cent. Opposition to the duties comes from freetrade interests, who wish to import from overseas goods that canbe manufactured in Australia.
This Government came into office on a definite protectionist policy, and it is justified in putting that policy into operation. These tariff schedules fulfil the promise made on the hustings, that woollen manufacturers would be given a measure of protection. This” is a great natural Australian industry. Australia produces the best wool in the world; why, then, should she not manufacture that raw product into the finished article of wearing apparel. I have a great deal more time for men who are prepared to invest hundreds of thousands of pounds in Australian industries - which, at times, I admit, are hazardous enterprises - than for those who invest all that they can spare in bonds, and sit idly by waiting for their interest payments, which they display a marked disinclination to have reduced at any time. Those who invest money in Australian industry provide employment for Australian people, and are, therefore, entitled to be protected against importations from foreign countries. If we were to refrain from imposing duties because of the likelihood of interfering with importations from countries with which we have a favorable trade balance, no Australian industries would be built up, and we should remain for all time hewers of wood and drawers of water. The opponents of the Government contend that Australia should be supporting a much larger population than that which she now has. How can that be brought about unless we build up industries of this kind? We cannot hope to do it by putting more people on the land, to produce commodities of which there is already a surplus in Australia, and that have to be dumped on the markets of the world to compete, in some cases, against the products of black labour countries. The local market is the most advantageous for those producers. What would become of the Paterson butter scheme but for the thousands of persons who are employed by these factories ? How would the sugar industry, or any other primary industry progress, that had to be bolstered up by the local market? It is the people in the cities who afford protection to the primary producers. Of all the items in this schedule, this should most readily be ratified, because its aim is to protect a great Australian industry.
– I give notice that it is my intention to move -
That the ruling of the Temporary Chairman of Committees - that statements contained in a private letter may be read verbatim without the disclosure of the identity of the writer - be disagreed with.
– Before the honorable member moves that motion, I shall read Standing Order 317, which relates to the question that ‘ he has raised. It is as follows : -
A document relating to public affairs quoted by a Minister of the Crown, unless stated to be of a confidential nature or such as should more properly be obtained by Address, may be called for and made a public document.
The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr.Forde) stated that the letter which’ he proposed to read was a confidential document; consequently, in my opinion, he was quite in order in quoting such of its contents as were germane to the subject under discussion. Does the honorable member now propose to move the motion of which he has given notice?
– I do. I move -
That the ruling of the Temporary Chairman of Committees - that statements contained in a private letter may be read verbatim without the disclosure of the identity of the writer - be disagreed with.
– This matter is covered by Standing Order 228, which reads- -
If any objection is taken to a ruling or decision of the Chairman of Committees, such objection shall be stated at Once in writing, and may forthwith be decided by the committee; “and the proceedings shall then be resumed where they were interrupted.
Debate upon the motion may proceed forthwith.
– I am relying upon my recollection of a decision that was given by Mr. Speaker on this very point only two or three months ago. It is not possible to produce the record on the spur of the moment; but 1 am sure that many other honorable members will recollect that when an honorable member - I believe that it was the honorable member forBallarat (Mr. McGrath) - produced a letter which he proposed to read, and was not prepared to disclose the name of the writer, Mr. Speaker ruled that he was not entitled to read the letter, but might if he chose give to the House a paraphrase of its contents. That ruling was founded on the opinion of Mr. Speaker that a verbatim reading of the contents of a letter was forbidden by the rules, unless the honorable member was prepared to disclose the identity of the writer.
– My recollection is identical with that of the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Nairn). I clearly recall the fact that a letter was produced by the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath) on one occasion, and by the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) on another occasion: and on both occasions, although the information which they contained was germane to the question before the Chair, those honorable members were not permitted to read them, because they were not prepared to disclose the names of the writers. A letter of the nature of that read by the Minister for Trade and Customs clearly is a personal communication, and cannot be regarded as a public document. The honorable gentleman declined to disclose the name of the writer, and according to the rulings to which I have referred I submit that he was not entitled to read the letter when objection was taken to his so doing.
– This point has been dealt with before by the late Speaker, Sir Littleton Groom, who on the 29th May, 1928, gave the following ruling: -
I desire, for the information of honorable members, to make a brief statement as to whether a member is at liberty to quote from private letters or memoranda unless he is prepared to lay such documents on the table of the House. For the guidance of honorable members, I direct attention to the following passage in May’s Parliamentary Practice, to be found at page 321, which was recognized by the ruling of the Speaker in this House on 28th August, 1913, Vol. 70, page 647: -
Another rule, or principle of debate, may be here added. A Minister of the Grown is not at liberty to read or quote from a despatch or other State paper not “before the House unless he be prepared to lay it upon the table. This restraint is similar to that rule of evidence in courts of law, which prevents counsel from citing documents which have not been produced in evidence. The principle is so reasonable that it has not been contested; and when the objection has been made in time, it has been generally acquiesced in. It has also been admitted thata document which has been cited ought to be laid upon the table of the House if it canbe done without injury to the public interests. The same rule, however, cannot be held to apply . to private letters or memoranda.
May also cites the Attorney-General on the 18th May, 1865, replying to a question whether private documents from which he had made a statement could be laid on the table, and stating that the rule applied to public documents only. Our own Standing Order 31? provides -
A document relating to public affairs quoted from by a Minister of the Grown, unless stated to be of a confidential nature or such as should more properlybe obtained by Address, may be called for and made a public document.
That is sufficient evidence that the ruling of the chairman in this instance is not in accordance with the Standing Orders as hitherto interpreted in this House.
– I desire to quote briefly from a ruling of the present. Speaker, given in this House on the 9th May, 1930. It is as follows: -
Under the Standing Orders a Minister may not quote from a document unless he announces the source or origin of it, but it is competent for a private member to read from a letter or other document without naming the author of it.
That ruling definitely states that a Minister must disclose the source or origin of any document which he submits to this House.
– I have submitted a letter, not a document.
– The source of a letter does not necessarily mean the author.
– I submit with much respect to the honorable member for Fremantle that the source of a letter is the writer or author of it, and that, therefore’, the motion should succeed.
– The source or origin of a letter may be indicated in general terms as being a representative group of woolbrokers. The term “ the origin of a letter “ substantially conveys to the committee that it is a bona fide letter, giving the point of view of some representative public body or even of some group of persons that may not necessarily be a public body.
– The latter part of the ruling of. the Speaker which I quoted, reads -
But it is competent for a private member to read from a letter or other document without naming the author of it.
It is clear that the Speaker in that instance had the author of the letter in his mind.
– I doubt that. What is meant by that ruling is that the Minister shall convey to the committee at least a general indication of the source from which the letter emanated, so that the committee may be confident that the text of the .letter represents the point of view of some representative body. In this case the Minister has said that he received the letter from a wool-broker.
– Is that an authoritative body?
– The Minister has disclosed the source of the letter.
– The source might be mythical.
– It is not. The ‘Standing Order in question contemplates a general indication of the source or origin of the letter so that the committee may bc satisfied that it is not mythical.
– May’s Parliamentary Practice, 10th edition, page 322, states : -
On the 18th May, 1805, the AttorneyGeneral, on being asked by Mr. Ferrand if he would lay upon the table a written statement and a letter to which he had referred, on a previous day, in answering a question relative to the Leeds Bankruptcy Court, replied that he had made a statement to the House upon his own responsibility and that, the documents he had referred to being private, he could not lay them upon the table. Lord R. Cecil contended that the papers having been cited, should be produced; but the Speaker declared that this ruling applied to public documents only. Indeed it is obvious that, us the House deals only with public documents in its proceedings, it could not thus incidentally require the production of papers which, if moved for separately, would be refused as beyond its jurisdiction.
That is a ruling in a case similar to the one now before the committee. I have no objection to informing honorable members of the source of this communication. It was sent to me by the Dunkerley Hat Mills, Sydney.
– As the purpose of my motion has been served, I ask leave to withdraw it.
Motion - by leave - withdrawn.
.- Throughout this tariff debate we should endeavour, as far as possible, to put aside prejudice or enthusiasm and to deal with each item on its merits. The compact Queensland party which has strongly supported the duty on cotton, and the embargo on sugar, now opposes duties on woollen goods. The woollen industry is not a phantom industry or one of those which the Minister conjures up and says will employ thousands more workmen, noi’ is it a hack-yard industry employing two or three persons.
– Why is it incompetent?
– Any honorable member who says that the Australian worker is incompetent has no faith in Australian industry. At one time it was necessary to import wheat into Australia. I wonder what the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) would say if I suggested that we should import wheat. The woollen industry is established and it is using the product of our greatest primary industry.
– How long has it been spoon-fed ?
– The industry has had this present tariff protection since June last, and although I consider that the present method of bringing down tariff schedules is wrong and that we should have an opportunity of debating them at the time they are introduced, yet because of those increased duties, the woollen mills have, since June last, expended no less than £190,000 on machinery. I have that on the authority of the Melbourne Chamber of Manufactures and the Woollen Manufacturers Association. In addition, the mills have brought out no less than 20,000 new patterns. The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis), when speaking in opposition to these duties made mention of crepe de chine and other lines more known to feminine than masculine buyers, but I submit that that class of goods comes under sub-item 3 of this item - piece goods, woollen or containing wool, n.e.i., of a class or kind not produced in Australia, . as prescribed by departmental by-laws. The duty on that class of goods is exactly the same as it was before this Government came into power. It has been said that in Australia we do not make light weight woollens. That was said to me to-day, and I took the opportunity to telegraph to the returned soldiers mill at Geelong on the subject.
– What was the nature of the telegram?
– It was drafted by the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. D. Cameron) and myself, and we asked the mill whether it made light weight woollens down to 3 oz. in weight. The reply is as follows : -
We ure making light weight dress goods down to 3½ oz. in weight. Six other mills are doing likewise. The manufacture of these enables the textile industry to carry on.
I, therefore, ask the Minister to amend this item so that the duty will apply to piece goods weighing more than 3^ oz. per square yard instead of 3 oz., as is at present proposed. I remind those honorable members on both sides of the chamber, who have no faith in their own country - and there are some - that Australian suitings are, at any rate, equal to the world’s best. I cannot remember wearing anything but Australian-made suitings and although there is a diversity of opinion about women’s dress materials, the fact remains that over 20,000 new patterns have been brought out, showing that the manufacturers have engaged in a great deal of research work, have exercised much patience, and are, therefore, deserving of every encouragement.
– What does the honorable member mean when he says that new patterns have been brought out?
– They are samples that are placed before the warehouses and on which they purchase their stocks. The biggest importers of textiles into Australia such as Myers Limited, Foy and Gibson’s Limited, and others, have established their own woollen mills. Surely that is evidence that this industry has been established and should be given every encouragement.
– Those firms have protested against these duties.
– The fact remains that they have established their own woollen mills. The Geelong mill, in the elec- torate of the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Lewis), pays in wages no less than £7,000 a week. There are some excellent mills in Australia, the majority of them in Victoria. The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Curtin) has instanced one mill at Albany which is but a small establishment. There are many large mills in Melbourne, Sydney and Geelong, as well as in provincial towns, that deserve encouragement, and unless we take this opportunity to assist them it is likely that many workers in the industry will be thrown out of employment. Then again there should be a more liberal interpretation of departmental by-laws. At present an importer may bring out a certain line of goods and unexpectedly have to pay a high duty on them, merely because the customs official decides that similar articles are being manufactured here. Expert opinion should be called in before any such decision is given. I support this increased duty because, if imposed, it will enable the mills to carry on. A Geelong wool-buyer and wool-scourer has told me that he has become a protectionist because he found that he could get a better price for his wool by selling it in Geelong than by sending it overseas.
– How much does he sell in Geelong?
– He can supply the mills with all they want. These goods are being produced in Australia, and we ought to assist the mills to carry on, particularly during this difficult period.
– I was surprised at the attitude of the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. D Cameron), who is a wool-grower and a man who, probably, knows more about the wool industry than most people. When I asked him how this duty affected the wool-grower, he referred me to the remarks of the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Hawker), saying that that honorable member had expressed the wool-growers’ case. I had already listened attentively to the honorable member for Wakefield. I notice that when a person has a weak case he generally uses violent and angry words. At any rate the honorable member did so. I should imagine that the fact that the Australian manufacturer was in competition with the overseas buyer for the raw material would give the wool-grower another market for his wool and enable him to secure a better price for it. The honorable member for Wakefield told us that the price of wool had increased in J apan. The wool-buyers tell me that the increase, which is only a slight one, is attributable to the instructions given by the League of Nations that Japan must provide for its workers an 8-hour day and a better standard of living, the result being a greater purchasing power among the Japanese people. In 1923-24 the quantity of wool used in Australian production, was 11,795,564 lb. The quantity used in 1928-29 was 23,376,591 lb. Thus the weight of the wool used in local manufactures practically doubled in five years. With a growing population why should we not manufacture our own raw material into the finished product? We ought to have more and more industries. Are we content to be the wood and water joeys for other nations? The value of woollen goods manufactured in Australia in 1923-24 was £4,863,657; the value had increased, to £7,477,295 in 1928-29. In 1923-24 the number of hands employed in Australian woollen mills was 7,532; the number increased to 11,405 in the years 1928-29.
– Do not outdo the Minister with his figures. ‘
– If, instead of calling for quorums all day the honorable member would make a study of the figures in the statistical returns, he might quote something reliable. The Minister’s figures have not been effectively challenged as yet. It is true that at the outset the
Minister predicted that the imposition of these additional duties would lead to the employment of an extra 50,000 hands in the Australian factories.
– It will do so.
– Yes, in normal years. Judging by the increase of employment in this industry in five years, the additional protection the Minister has given to industry would, in normal years, have given work to the number of nien he predicted. The honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. D. Cameron) put it to me, as member for a district in which there are quite a number of wool-growers, that these duties will have a detrimental effect on the wool-grower. Let me in turn put it to the honorable member that the duties will do more for the wool-grower than the duties on cotton piece goods will do for cotton-growers. The honorable member voted for the cotton duties ; I ask him to be consistent. It is useless to argue that these duties apply only to highclass materials. We know that they can be manufactured in Australia, and that they were not to any extent prior to the imposition of these duties.
It is said that Great Britain is a great buyer of our wool. Is not Australia a great buyer of British commodities? And do we not give Great Britain a preference of 25 per cent. ? What has Britain given us in return? When Russia flooded the British market with wheat the only consideration of the British people was for the market in. which they could buy at the cheapest price. During the collapse in our meat industry, what preference did Great Britain give to Australian beefgrowers over the Argentine? The man who buys our wool does not buy it out of sympathy with us. He buys it because he needs it for the manufacture of his goods. As a result of the protection afforded to the woollen manufacturer, not. only has there been more competition to buy the wool from the grower, but the price of suit lengths and suitings is to-day lower than it was before these additional duties were imposed. It. is certainly true that owing to the falling wage, and to the fact that the consumption power of the community has decreased, there has been a falling off in. the purchase of quite a number of lines, but the duties on crepe de chines do not affect the worker. We are told by the Minister that the Geelong mills are working night and day. I hop? that they are working on the shift system, and not on overtime. The more we can distribute work the better. What wc need in this country is more co-operation, and more support for our own industries. I refer the honorable member for Brisbane and the honorable member for Moreton to the views of the Queensland Preference League, behind which they frequently take shelter, and I refer honorable members for Queensland electorates generally to the fact that help to the worker in the woollen industry is practical help to the worker in the sugar industry. The
Argentine can sell canned meat on European markets much more cheaply than Australia can. It was only during the war that oar ‘commodities sold freely, but that was because there was a fixed price. Under the assumption that we were patriotic people the price was fixed at a lower figure than was obtainable by other countries. This protection, instead of being a disadvantage, is an asset to the woolgrowers. Between 1923-24 and 1928-29, the purchases of wool by Australian manufacturers have doubled, and as a result prices have been kept at a higher level than they would have been had there been no Australian buyers in the market.
.- In presenting a very weak case, the Minister inflicted upon the committee another lecture, in the course of which he charged honorable members sitting on the Opposition side with freetrade tendencies. But for the protectionist disposition and activities of the parties to which honorable members on this side belong, there would have been no artificially protected industries in this country. But for their tariff-making until a couple of years ago, there would have been practically no secondary industries, and not a single chamber of manufactures. That is the answer to the Minister’s cheap gibes. The honorable gentleman indulged in generalities regarding the superior quality of Australian wool. He said that it is the best in the world, and that we should convert it into fabrics instead of exporting it. If we manufactured even a substantial proportion of our wool into fabrics, what would we do with them? Because of the excessive manufacturing costs, we could not sell competitively a single yard outside the Commonwealth. By the introduction of this item, the Minister is making r definite and heavy addition to the cost of every branch of manufacture, because he is increasing the price of tho wearing apparel of every woman worker. We on this side of the chamber are in favour of reasonable, even generous, protection of this industry, but wo ure opposed to a degree of protection which amounts practically to prohibition. The Minister is doubling the fixed duties, adding 6 per cent, to the ad valorem duties and halving the weight per yard on which these fabrics become dutiable. The woollen mills of Australia represent a very creditable branch of manufacturing, but, because of their limited output, they have necessarily a restricted range of production, and cannot possibly cater for the local market in respect of all the classes of fabrics contemplated by the Minister. I ask the honorable gentleman to observe some reasonable degree of uniformity in connexion with the various import duties. He is proposing a duty of 2s. a square yard, plus 35 per cent, ad valorem, upon these light woollen piece goods; yet he is, admitting their greatest competitors - artificial silk and real silk - at revenue duties of 25 per cent, and 10 per cent, respectively. That is characteristic of the hopeless inconsistency of this tariff, and of the rough and ready, slipshod manner in which it has been prepared. It is the most muddle-headed schedule ever submitted to this Parliament. I particularly appeal to honorable members to have some regard to the costs of dress stuffs of all women and girls who work for small wages or salaries. Even though this duty may benefit a few manufacturers and a few thousand employees, there is no justification for providing the opportunity to double the price of many woollen piece goods used for women’s wearing apparel. The calm acquiescence of ministerial supporters in the constant raising of the prices of household necessities is heart-breaking. It was observable right through the division relating to groceries, and the same reckless and indiscriminate provision of opportunities for price-raising is being continued in connexion with textiles. I am ready to give to manufacturers a generous opportunity to compete against their oversea rivals; but I am not prepared to help to create a big monopoly. What must be the inevitable outcome of this reckless policy? No doubt, for a little time we shall have considerable competition, which will be carried to the extent of ratecutting and profitlessness. The opportunity presented by the Minister through’ the tariff looks so wonderful that, in some industries, particularly textiles, there is already installed enough plant to supply two or three times the requirements of the Australian people. As a result of the initial heavy competition. within thu Commonwealth, the consumer will benefit for a time ; but, in the absence of any external check, the various companies will soon come together in a price- fixing combination. That is the invariable development. I believe in the merging of big manufacturing units ; but I do not favour making opportunities for combination in the absence of competition from outside. The manufacturers will regulate the price to the Australian consumer at a level which will return profits, dividends or interest, on the whole of the capital invested in this industry, whether the factories are working full time or part time. lt is entirely wrong for this to be done iu the National Parliament, and it is incomprehensible to me that it should be done deliberately by honorable members who belong to a Labour party. Such a policy must not only fail to benefit the workers; it must result in their exploitation. The creation of monopolies in any country has always had a detrimental effect on the people - the consumers generally, and particularly on the poorer sections of the community.
At a time of hardship, such as that which Australia is now experiencing, it might reasonably be expected that there would be a great clearing up in all industrial concerns, a sweeping out of all excessive capital, a writing-off of watered capital, and a bringing of all manufacturing concerns to a level of efficiency, with their capital down to what it should be. But the Government is not assisting iu that direction; it is providing opportunities for every company, irrespective of whether it has spent its capital badly - I do not say that all companies have done that, but many of them inevitably have - to fix prices by agreement, in order to make a profit on its full capital, no matter what the amount may be. This policy of the Government is a calamitous thing for Australia, and it stands in the way of a real economic recovery. It imposes a handicap on the community that will be felt for many years. The Minister is not only assisting industries and workers by this tariff, but he is also placing heavy shackles upon them. I urge honorable members opposite to consider this matter on broad lines, and to revive their old, distinctive antagonism to monopolies in every shape and form. I beg them now to show their dislike for monopolies, however they may be created, to east ofl the fetters of party for a few weeks, and to wipe out many of these increases in duties.
House adjourned at 10.14 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 27 May 1931, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1931/19310527_reps_12_129/>.