House of Representatives
4 June 1931

12th Parliament · 1st Session



Mr. Speaker (Hon. Norman Makin) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and offered prayers.

page 2497

QUESTION

MR. MAKIN, M.P

Alleged Attempt to Influence.

Mr WARD:
EAST SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES

– In theGoulburn Penny Post of the 17th May this telegram was published -

NOPRICE BIG ENOUGH.

Makin Suggests Attempts to “Buy “ Him.

Melbourne, Sunday. - “ I have received two telegrams from a man connected with the Adelaide Stock Exchange asking me to break away from the Labour party “, said the Speaker of the House of Representatives (Mr. Makin ) at a meeting at Geelong to-day.

He had scut a reply, he declared, stating that no price would buy him.

I ask you, Mr. Speaker, if the statement is correct, what action you propose to take in order to expose the person or persons responsiblefor this action; because an attempt to bribe the Speaker of the House is a very serious matter?

Mr SPEAKER:

– No attempt was made to bribe me as Speaker. As the member for Hindmarsh, I received certain communications. Due publicity has been given to my reply, and any further statement on the subject will be made to my constituents.

Mr McGRATH:
BALLAARAT, VICTORIA

– The inference in the statement which you, Mr. Speaker, are reported to have made, is that somebody offered you money. Is that true?

Mr SPEAKER:

– At least two communications have been addressed to me from an agency of the Adelaide Stock Exchange by a man representing a certain public organization in Adelaide. In them I was asked to transfer my political allegiance to a person who is not now a member of the party to which I, in my representative capacity, belong. I was assured by the writer that the organization which he represented would stand behind me in every way. As the representative of Hindmarsh,I could not expect any greater electoral support than that which I have received through the ballot box in the past, and having regard to the quarter from which this offer of support emanated, only one inference can be drawn from it. I replied that I was” not flattered at receiving a second communication asking me to leave a movement with which I have been associated all my life, and that there was no price, either electoral support or any other, that could buy me.

Mr HAWKER:
WAKEFIELD, SOUTH AUSTRALIA

– Were you, Mr. Speaker, correctly, reported as having said that you were offered support and inducement to alter your political allegiance by somebody on behalf of the Adelaide Stock Exchange, or did the person concerned represent an outside organization, and communicate his offer to you from the post office near the Stock Exchange which is known as the Stock Exchange Post Office, Adelaide? Further, is the House to understand that you know the individual who made the offer?

Mr SPEAKER:

-Like other honorable members, I cannot hold myself responsible for the reports that appear in the press from time to time. I have already given a comprehensive answer to questions on this subject, and have nothing further to add, beyond the statements that I shall make to my constituents at the proper time.

page 2498

QUESTION

PROPOSED WHEAT POOL

Mr THOMPSON:
NEW ENGLAND, NEW SOUTH WALES

– Is the Minister for Markets prepared to make a statement regarding the possibility of conflict between the proposed State wheat pool of New South Wales, and the proposed Commonwealth pool? Would it not be advisable to suggest to the State Minister for Agriculture that the ballot-paper relating to the State pool should also afford the farmers an opportunity to declare whether they are in favour of a federal pool?

Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– If the establishment of a federal wheat pool is approved by this Parliament it will be necessary for each State Parliament to pass enabling legislation. I understand that that is contemplated by the Government of New South Wales, and at least one other State. I am communicating with the Minister for Agriculture in New South Wales, and suggesting that when a ballot of the wheat-growers is taken they should have an opportunity to consider the proposed State pool in conjunction with a Federal pool. The opinion of the farmers on the two proposals could be obtained at the one ballot.

Mr Stewart:

– The sooner the Minister reintroduces the Wheat Marketing Bill the better.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– I propose to do that at an early date. I desire the bill to be as effective as possible, and only the completion of a few details is delaying its introduction.

page 2498

QUESTION

PREMIERS CONFERENCE

Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:
WARRINGAH, NEW SOUTH WALES

– I ask the Acting Leader of the House whether any action has been taken by the Government to give effect to the request by the right honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page) last week that copies of the experts’ plan, which is now being considered by the Premiers Conference in Melbourne, should be made available to honorable members. Will the Government consider also the issue to honorable members of the daily verbatim report of the proceedings so that we may be made au fait with what is occurring ?

Mr BRENNAN:
Attorney-General · BATMAN, VICTORIA · ALP

– It was my purpose to make a statement later in answer to the questions that have been asked by a number of honorable members on this matter. I now have a report, signed by the sub-committee, consisting of Mr. Jones, Mr. Hill, and Sir James Mitchell, of which I am arranging to have a sufficient number of copies made for the information of honorable members. Thesewill be placed on the table of the library. Other reports that may be printed by theMelbourne conference will be made available to honorable members immediately after receipt in Canberra. I notice that fairly full reports are appearing in the press, but I shall inquire whether an authentic Hansard record of the conference can be supplied to honorable members.

page 2498

QUESTION

ABOLITION OF STATE PARLIAMENTS

Mr BAYLEY:
OXLEY, QUEENSLAND

– Will, the Minister in charge of the House advise whether there is any justification for the statement that was made in Sydney ‘ recently by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Forde), to the effect that the Commonwealth Government intended placing the question of the abolition of State Parliaments before the people of Australia, per medium of a referendum?

Mr BRENNAN:
ALP

– The Minister for Trade and Customs is eminently wellequipped to answer that question for himself. He has already made an announcement to the House as to the statement attributed to him on the occasion referred to by the honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Bayley).

page 2498

EXPORTATION OF STUD SHEEP

Mr WHITE:
BALACLAVA, VICTORIA

– I draw the attention of the Minister for Markets to the following article, which appeared in the Melbourne Herald of tho 2nd of this month, and also in the New South Wales press. It reads -

page 2498

SOVIET WANTS OUR SHEEP

Emissary in Sydney. -Sydney, Tuesday,

Instructions from the Soviet to launch a campaign for the removal of the Commonwealth Government’s embargo on the export of stud sheep from Australia are stated to be responsible for the presence in Sydney of a Russian who cannot speak English. Naturally he cannot approach the Labour Government direct, but his plan of campaign will be to work from the background, with the aid _ of Communist forces, in an endeavour to bring pressure to bear in the caucus. Abolition of the export ban would leave Australia’s wool industry open to further serious competition from overseas countries. The ban was directed chiefly against Russia and South Africa. Moscow wants to grow and manufacture its own wool. And, once its flocks have been built up, it is suggested, it would dump its wool like its wheat. Sheep could be purchased in Great Britain and in the United States, and, for that matter, in South Africa; but these clips are not equal in quality to those in Australia. The Soviet wants the best, so it looks to Australian studs.

Publicly, nothinghas been done by the Soviet representative, but influences are now at work. The ban on the export of stud sheep was imposed by the Federal Government in November, 1929. There have been recent fears that the ban may be evaded by the export of Australian sheep to New Zealand and their re-shipment to Russia or South Africa.

Has the Minister been approached recently from any quarter regarding the existing ban on the export of stud sheep? In any case, will the honorable gentleman give an undertaking that the embargo will not be removed?

Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– I can assure the honorable gentleman that I have not been approached in the manner suggested by anybody, and that the Government has no intention of removing the existing embargo on the exportation of stud sheep.

page 2499

QUESTION

POSTMASTER-GENERAL’S DEPARTMENT

Postage Rates

Mr ELDRIDGE:
ley · through Mr. Beas

asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -

  1. With reference to the Post and Telegraph Rates Act and the statement of the Postmaster- General that the Government has sustained heavy loss owing to the increase last August on the postage on printed matter from1d. per 4 oz. to1d. per 2 oz., will he inform the House whether it was on the advice of the secretary of his department that the postage rates were increased in the way indicated?
  2. If so, will the Minister state what- was the estimate of increased revenue which the department expected from the increased rates?
  3. In view of the alarming departmental miscalculations in regard to this matter, (a) what action, if any, has been taken by the Government to deal suitably with the incompetence of the officer or officers responsible for such miscalculations, and (6) will the Minister take special precautions on future occasions to ensure that his officers’ estimates are more competently prepared?
Mr A GREEN:
KALGOORLIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -

  1. There is no evidence that the Government sustained heavy loss as a result of the altered tariff on printed matter. On the contrary, the revised postal tariff brought in, during the eight months of the operation of the new charges, additional revenue of £216,499, as compared with the preceding corresponding period. The main reason for reverting to the old tariff for printed matter was that the higher charges appeared to have an adverse effect on the printing trade, without commensurate benefit to the postal revenue.
  2. Owing to the prevailing financial depression and the difficulty of foreseeing what the future had in store, the department did not feel able to submit an estimate with the same degree of certainty as in normal times. In placing the bill before the House, the late Postmaster-General stated, “As far as can be foreseen, the additional revenue which will be derived during the current financial year will not exceed£ 1,000,000 “.
  3. No action is called for.

page 2499

QUESTION

GOVERNMENT SAVINGS BANK OF NEW SOUTH WALES

Advances from Commonwealth Bank - Trade Union Funds.

Mr ELDRIDGE:
through Mr. Beasley

asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

  1. Will he negotiate with the Commonwealth Bank to make further advances on Commonwealth securities (as has been done in connexion with the present amount advanced to enable payments to be made in necessitous cases), and thereby enable the Government Savings Bank of New South Wales to function as previously, so that the assistance already given to farmers and other mortgagors can be continued?
  2. If these advances cannot be obtained, will he make the matter a question of appeal when submitting the amending Commonwealth Bank Bill to the electors?
  3. Will he cause an inquiry to be made into the actions of the Commonwealth Bank in deliberately embarrassing and forcing the closure of the Government Savings Bank, and were the motives designed to accomplish the taking over of this institution on discredited terms ?
  4. Is it a fact that the indefinite statement by Sir Robert Gibson in the morning’s press of the 22nd April was designed to create a panic and thereby hasten the closing of the Government Savings Bank?
  5. Does the Commonwealth Bank intend to take over all the lending departments of the Government Savings Bank, including the Homes Department; if not, what are the reasons for not taking them over inview of their boon to the community?
  6. Is it a fact that revaluations are being made of bank premises (which have already been generously written down and constitute a valuable secret reserve, also of securities covered by Homes Department and Savings Bank and Rural Bank Department mortgages?
Mr BRENNAN:
ALP

– I am authorized by the Prime Minister to say that -

The taking over of the Government Savings Bank of New South Wales by the Commonwealth Savings Bank is at present the subject of negotiation by the Commonwealth Bank with the Government of New South Wales, and I am not in a position to furnish anyinfor- mation as to the nature of those negotiations. I may add, further, that the questions are largely based on premises that are either not correct or not admitted.

Mr KEANE:
BENDIGO, VICTORIA

asked the Treasurer, upon notice -

  1. What amounts of Trade Union funds are locked up in the Government Savings Bank of New South Wales?
  2. When will it be possible to release these amounts ?
  3. How many unions have deposits in the said bank ?
Mr THEODORE:
Treasurer · through Mr. Brennan · ALP

– As it has not yet been decided whether the Government Savings Bank of New South Wales shall be taken over by the Commonwealth Bank, the Government Savings Bank is still a State institution, and I regret that I am unable to furnish the desired information.

page 2500

QUESTION

TARIFF RATES

pile-drivingequipment.

Mr PRICE:
BOOTHBY, SOUTH AUSTRALIA

asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -

  1. Is he now in a position to state whether he has been able to give further consideration to the request of the South Australian Harbour Board for the admission of certain pile-driving equipment under concessional tariff rates?
  2. In the event of any Australian manu- facturing firm having intimated to the Minister or to his department that it could manufacture similar equipment, will the Minister state the name of such manufacturing firm ?
Mr FORDE:
Minister for Trade and Customs · CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND · ALP

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -

  1. This matter has received repeated consideration. It was first refused by the late Government in December, 1928. The board now proposes to send representatives to Canberra to make further representations.
  2. The names have been communicated to the honorable member in my letter of the 30th May lost.

page 2500

MR. H. P. BROWN

Terms of Appointment

Mr MARTENS:
HERBERT, QUEENSLAND

asked the Postmaster-

General, upon notice -

  1. What are the terms of the appointment of Mr. H. P. Brown as Director of Postal Services, including salary, tenure of office and other details?
  2. Will he lay upon the table of the library a copy of the contract or agreement between Mr. Brown and the Commonwealth Government?
Mr A GREEN:
KALGOORLIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -

  1. Mr. Brown’s appointment as Secretary to the Postmaster-General’s Department was made under the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Service Act, and approved by the Governor-General in Council on the 28th November, 1923. His appointment was at a salary of £2,500 per annum, and took effect from” the 18th December, 1923. On the 27th November, 1928, the Governor-General in Council approved of Mr. Brown being paid at the rate of £500 per annum as Chairman of the Wireless Broadcasting Advisory Board to date from the 12th September, 1928, and for his salary to be at the rate of £4,000 per annum (inclusive of £500 as Chairman of the Advisory Board) from the 1st January, 1929.
  2. The appointment under the Public Service Act, as covered by the Orders-in-Council, forms the contract with Mr. Brown. The Orders-in-Council weregazetted on the 6th December, 1923, and the6th December. 1928, and a copy of eachGazette is being laid on the table of the library.

page 2500

QUESTION

LIFE INSURANCE PREMIUMS

Mr KEANE:

asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

What steps does he purpose taking to protect the holders of life policies, in the event of their default in premium payments, as a result of the present wave of unemployment?

Mr SCULLIN:
Minister for External Affairs · through Mr. Brennan · ALP

– I am not at present in a position to indicate whether any action can be taken by the Commonwealth, but the suggestion of the honorable member will receive consideration.

page 2500

QUESTION

METAL PANELS FOR MOTOR CAR BODIES

Mr PATERSON:
GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA

asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -

  1. Has he granted any permits since October, 1929, for the importation under Tariff Item 404 of metal panels for motor car bodies?
  2. If so, to whom were permits granted, and on what dates respectively?
  3. When were the permits gazetted?
  4. On what grounds were they granted?
  5. What was the origin, quantity and value of panels imported by each permit-holder respectively ?
Mr FORDE:
ALP

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -

  1. No. 2 to 5. See answer to No. 1.

page 2501

QUESTION

DUTY ON NEWSPRINT

Mr KEANE:

asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -

  1. What amount is realized from the duty on newsprint?
  2. What fluctuations in the price of newsprint have occurred since the imposition of the duty?
Mr FORDE:
ALP

– The information is being obtained.

page 2501

QUESTION

PRICE OF PETROL

Mr LACEY:
GREY, SOUTH AUSTRALIA

asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

  1. Is it a fact that a Minister of the Victorian Government is reported in the press to have stated that the State Government favoured a joint commission to inquire into the price of petrol, and the general activities of the oil companies, including Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited?
  2. Will he enter into negotiations with the Victorian Government on this question, or give early consideration to the appointment of an authoritative body to make full inquiry into the matter of the costs of petrol?
Mr SCULLIN:
through Mr. Brennan · ALP

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -

  1. I have seen press reports of the proceedings of the conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers in Melbourne which indicate that the matter of a joint Commonwealth and State investigation into the price of petrol has been discussed. The conference is still Bitting and the official report of the proceedings is not yet available.
  2. When the conference has concluded its deliberations, the Government will be in a position to inform the House as to what is proposed regarding an inquiry into the price of petrol.

page 2501

QUESTION

COMMONWEALTH OIL REFINERIES LIMITED

Mr SCULLIN:
through Mr. Brennan · ALP

– The honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Crouch) has asked a series of questions, upon notice, relating to the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited. The information desired by the honorable member is being obtained and will bo furnished as early as possible.

page 2501

QUESTION

COMMONWEALTH GOVERNMENT LINE OF STEAMERS

Mr KEANE:

asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

  1. Is it a fact that the shipping company of which Lord Kylsant is the head, which purchased the Commonwealth line of steamers, has gone into liquidation?
  2. What was the amount paid for the fleet by the company?
  3. What amount lias been paid?
  4. What is the present amount of the purchasemoney remaining unpaid ?
Mr SCULLIN:
through ‘ Mr. Brennan · ALP

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -

  1. I have seen reports in the press regarding the shipping company referred to, but have no official information on the subject.
  2. The amount agreed to be paid was £1,900,000.
  3. £580,000.
  4. £1,320,000.

page 2501

QUESTION

FIJI TARIFF PREFERENCES

Mr PROWSE:
FORREST, WESTERN AUSTRALIA

asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice - 1-. Has his attention been drawn to the action of the Legislative Council of Fiji in giving tariff preference to New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Canada and Hong Kong in the importation to Fiji of the following items: - Ale, beers, &c. ; bacon and hams, biscuits, bran, cheese, confectionery, flax, hemp, fish, dried fish, fruit, .golden syrup, treacle, grease, tallow, fat, hay, chaff, hops, jams, jellies, bird, dripping, earthenware pipes, fresh vegetables and soaps? If so, can he suggest any reason for the action of the Fijian Government in granting preference to other countries and ignoring Australia?

  1. Is it a fact that in recent years there has been a considerable reduction in the trade between Australia and Fiji?
  2. Can he suggest any way whereby Australia may recover its lost trade with Fiji, and also obtain preference similar to that enjoyed by other dominions?
Mr FORDE:
ALP

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -

  1. Yes; but no information is available as to the reason of the Fijian Government for the action taken.
  2. There has been no very marked reduction in the trade with Fiji during the past five years. There was a reduction about -1921-22 and adjacent years.
  3. To secure this advantage it would probably bc necessary to effect a trade treaty with Fiji.

page 2501

QUESTION

SUGAR-GROWING INDUSTRY

Mr FORDE:
ALP

– The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) has asked a series of questions, upon notice, relating to the sugar-growing industry. The information desired by the honorable member is being obtained.

page 2502

QUESTION

COMMONWEALTH BANK SECURITIES

Mr GUY:
BASS, TASMANIA

asked the Treasurer, upon notice -

When may a reply be expected to the question asked on the 13th May by the honorable member for Bass concerning the classes of securities held on the 30th April, 1931, by the Commonwealth Bank against the note issue?

Mr THEODORE:
through Mr. Brennan · ALP

– I expect to be in a position to reply to , the honorable member’s question to-morrow.

page 2502

QUESTION

COTTON YARN

Mr CROUCH:
CORANGAMITE, VICTORIA

asked the Minister for

Trade and Customs, upon notice -

  1. Has the firm of H. B. Dickie, towel manufacturer, of Yarraville, been unable to obtain sufficient supplies of cotton yarn locally to meet its requirements?
  2. Is the capacity of the three Australian mills producing cotton yarn able to supply this firm?
  3. Has he information that, because of insufficient supply of yarn, the firm has already had to stop one of its shifts?
  4. Can the Minister permit the duty on cotton yarns to be modified or suspended to meet these conditions?
  5. Is it a fact that since it started operations Dickie’s mill has not reduced wages; if so, has this fact had anything to do with the three cotton yarn manufacturing mills not meeting its demands?
Mr FORDE:
ALP

– The answers to the. honorable member’s questions are as fallow: -

  1. It has been so stated by the firm.
  2. Yes, under ordinary conditions, but the present demand is abnormal.
  3. No.
  4. Yes, arrangements have been made to meet the case.
  5. No information is available on this subject.

page 2502

QUESTION

IMPERIAL WAR SERVICE PENSIONS

Mr PATERSON:

asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

  1. Has the Government yet come to a decision with regard to the addition of exchange premium to imperial war service pensions ?
  2. Has the difference between the sterling value remitted and Australian money substituted therefor in payment of these pensions gone into Consolidated Revenue?
  3. Will arrears of exchange premium which have been withheld from British ex-service men be refunded?
Mr SCULLIN:
through Mr. Brennan · ALP

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -

  1. The Government has approved of the principle that imperial war service pensioners are to receive the equivalent in Australian currency of the sterling value of their pensions. In this way they will receive the benefit of exchange. Details in connexion with this arrangement are at present under discussion by the Treasury and the British Ministry of Pensions.
  2. No. Reimbursement of amounts paid to such pensioners in Australia is received in London. No remittance is made to Australia as these moneys are used to meet Commonwealth expenditure in London.
  3. Yes; from a date yet to be fixed.

page 2502

TASMANIAN AIR SERVICES

Mr GUY:

asked the Minister for Defence, upon, notice -

In order to allay any anxiety that may exist as to the safety of commercial aeroplanes flying between the mainland of Australia, and Tasmania, will he establish a regulation providing -

That no aeroplane be permitted to leave either place until some responsible officer of the aviation branch of his department has received favorable reports as to weather conditions, including visibility, from lighthouse keepers’ or some other responsible officers, situated at Wilsons’ Promontory, Eddystone, Low Head, and Stanley;

That uponreceipt of suchreports a responsible officer of the aviation branch shall decide whether the conditions are safe for flying, and, if so satisfied, shall authorize the proprietors of the aeroplanes, and/or their representatives, that they may proceed on their journey?

Mr CHIFLEY:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -

  1. and (b). It is not desirable that the Defence Department should be required to accept responsibility under regulation for deciding whether individual flights may or may not be undertaken between any places within the Commonwealth in licensed aircraft with properly qualified pilots. The Defence Department is, however, in collaboration with the Meteorological Bureau, arranging for the dissemination of special weather forecasts covering the Melbourne-Tasmania route to be issued each evening with correction if required on the following morning. It is also anticipated that reports each morning of actual weather conditions will be obtained for the information of aircraft operators from Wilsons’ Promontory, Flinders Island, and Low Head, and that these’ reports will be at their disposal before departure from Tasmania and the mainland.

page 2503

QUESTION

EXPORT COAL TRADE

Mr JAMES:
HUNTER, NEW SOUTH WALES

asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

  1. Has any of the£ 50,000 placed on the Estimatesfor 1930-31, to assist in cooperation with the States towards recovery of the export coal trade, yet been expended?
  2. If not, has any suggestion been made by the Government or the coal-owners as to the best means of expending the money to gain fresh trade overseas?
  3. If there are no prospects of securing new coal contracts overseas, will the Government give consideration to a proposal for the establishment of an experimental plant for the extraction of oil from coal, thereby endeavouring to build up the coal trade in this manner?
Mr SCULLIN:
nan · through Mr. Bren · ALP

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -

  1. . No.
  2. No comprehensive proposals have been submitted, although certain requests received by the Government for an allocation of money from this vote were not regarded as coming within its scope.
  3. The suggestion of the honorable member will receive consideration.

page 2503

QUESTION

SOVIET BUTTER

Mr BERNARD CORSER:
WIDE BAY, QUEENSLAND

asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

As this Parliament is at present revising its tariff schedules with provision for preferential tariffs for imperial goods, will he make a strong protest to. the imperial authorities against the increasing importation of Soviet butter to London, which threatens to seriously hamper Australia’s butter export trade in that market?

Mr SCULLIN:
through Mr. Brennan · ALP

– This matter is at present under consideration, and all possible steps will be taken to safeguard the interests of the butter producers of this country.

page 2503

TOBACCOFIRMS

Employees’ Wages

Mr. FORDE, replying, on the 19th May to a question asked on the 14th May by the honorable member for Grey (Mr. Lacey) as to whether it was a fact that certain tobacco firms in Victoria had reduced the wages of their employees by 10 per cent., said -

I have had inquiries made, and I am now able to inform the honorable member that, so far as Carreras are concerned, there has been no reduction whatever in the wages of either the inside or the outside staff. The other firm mentioned by the honorable member was

Godfrey Phillips and Company. The representative of this firm stated that he had had an interview with the secretary of the Tobacco Workers Union as to the rates paid to strippers which appeared to him to be too high in comparison with the other workers in the factory. He had accordingly sought the assistance of the union, as it was considered unfair that his firm should pay more than their principal competitors. Moreover, the rate paid, being high, caused dissatisfaction among other sections of workers, who wanted to get on stripping work also. No wages have yet been reduced in the factory, although the company has required the workers to strip more cleanly than formerly. The firm has taken advantage of the Arbitration Court’s award reducing the basic wage of case packers, and fitters in the engine-room, but no tobaccoworkers have been reduced.

page 2503

WHEAT MARKETING BILL 1930

Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

by leave - In placing on the table of the library, at the request of the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory), the correspondence between the Commonwealth Government and the Commonwealth Bank relating to the provision of finance for the proposed payment, under the Wheat Marketing Bill 1930, of 4s. per bushel for wheat of the 1930-31 season, I desire to point out that it is unusual to make available for perusal documents of this character, and to add that the action in this case must not be regarded as a precedent. It has, however, been so persistently stated that no proposal to provide finance for this purpose was ever made by the Commonwealth Bank, and there has been so much propaganda against the Government in relation to the matter, that I have considered it advisable to make the papers available for perusal, in order that honorable members may learn for themselves the facts of the case. The papers which I now propose to lay upon the table of the library refer to my communications with the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank. They reveal that the Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin) conferred with the Chairman of the Commonwealth Bank Board, Sir Robert Gibson, on the 24th March, 1930. At that conference various aspects of the financing, of the proposed compulsory wheat pooling scheme were discussed, and Sir Robert Gibson then undertook to submit the matter to the Commonwealth Bank Board with a view to ascertaining the views of that body as to the manner in which, the necessary finance could he carried out. On 1st April, 1930, Sir Robert Gibson wrote to the Prime Minister submitting a memorandum getting out the views of the board in connexion with the matter. That memorandum, in effect, shows inter alia -

  1. That the Commonwealth Bank offered to advance 4s. per bushel for f.a.q. wheat of the 1930-31 season delivered at the railway station, plus transport charges,’ &c, the latter not to exceed an average of 8d. per bushel to f.o.b.
  2. That the trading banks should join in with the Commonwealth Bank in connexion with the finance on terms to be arranged between them and the Commonwealth Bank.
  3. That, in the event of the trading bank3 not joining in as proposed, the Government would issue treasury-bills to supplement the funds of the bank. The Government made provision for the issue of these treasury-bills in clause 8 of the bill.
  4. That the realization of the wheat should be a continuous operation, and a certain proportion should be disposed of every month in accordance with a table submitted by the bank.
  5. That the Commonwealth Government would . reimburse the Commonwealth Bank any” loss accruing through the operation of the pool.

In addition, the Wheat Marketing Bill itself contained a proviso that, in the event of any loss accruing in connexion with the operation of the pool, half of such loss would be borne by the Commonwealth and the balance by the State or States concerned.

The papers also disclose that on the same date that the Chairman of the Commonwealth Bank Board wrote to the Prime Minister - the 1st of April, 1930 - the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank wrote to me enclosing a copy of the Chairman’s letter to the Prime Minister, and that on the 7th April, 1930, in acknowledging receipt of the letter from the Governor of the bank, I forwarded to him an advance draft copy of the Wheat Marketing Bill, which the Government decided to introduce upon receipt from the Commonwealth Bank Board of an intimation that the board could arrange the necessary finance for the payment of the 4s. per bushel referred to above. The

Governor of the bank replied to my letter on the 9th April, 1930, intimating that the bill itself seemed quite satisfactory from the bank’s point of view. At the same time, he suggested certain alterations in the schedule to the draft bill in order that it might coincide with the conditions relating to finance set forth in the bank’s memorandum. These conditions were adjusted accordingly in the bill which the Government introduced. In view of the position as now disclosed, it is to be hoped that those who have been indulging in widespread misrepresentation of the facts will be generous enough to admit their error.

Mr GULLETT:
Henty

.- by leave - The Minister in tabling these papers for perusal in the library has charged honorable members on this side of the House with misrepresentation in connexion with the financing of the Government’s original proposal for a wheat guarantee. I submit that nothing in the statement which the Minister has just read, bears out that charge. On the contrary, I contend that the honorable gentleman has by quoting various extracts from the memorandum justified every protest from this side of the House. The whole point at issue was this: The Minister in the first place told this House that the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank had given him an undertaking that the bank would finance the proposed wheat guarantee.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– The honorable member should read the memorandum.

Mr GULLETT:

– That was the Minister’s specific assertion, made not once but twenty times during the debate upon the Wheat Marketing Bill. I submit that on the Minister’s own admission he was not warranted in making that statement in this House.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– That is absurd.

Mr GULLETT:

– The statement which the Minister has just read shows that the Commonwealth Bank not only refrained from giving a clear and specific undertaking to the Minister or to the Government to finance a guarantee of 4s. a bushel, but also stipulated that its undertaking to finance “the scheme was subject to the co-operation of the trading banks of this country.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– That is not correct. The honorable member should read the memorandum.

Mr GULLETT:

– The Minister has just read from the memorandum that the undertaking given by the Commonwealth Bank was subject to the co-operation of the trading banks.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– That is not so.

Mr SPEAKER (Hon Norman Makin:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA

– I ask the Minister for Markets to kindly assist the Chair by refraining from making frequent interjections. I have intimated that when an honorable member has leave to make a statement, or rises to make a personal explanation, he must be heard in silence.

Mr GULLETT:

– The undertaking given by the Commonwealth Bank, as has been admitted by the Minister, was conditional upon the trading banks participating in the guarantee, so that the absolute guarantee of which this House was assured by the honorable gentleman, was obviously never given. That was the whole point taken by honorable members on this side of the House. Moreover, the Minister has now referred to a proposal to finance the scheme by the issue of treasury-bills. I repeat that all along we on this side challenged the statement of the Minister that the Commonwealth Bank had undertaken absolutely to finance the wheat guarantee. It is now obvious that that undertaking was never given.

page 2505

NORTHERN TERRITORY (ADMINISTRATION) BILL (No. 2)

Motion (by Mr. Blakeley) agreed to-

That he have leave to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Northern Territory (Administration Act 1910-1931.

Bill brought up, and read a first time.

Second Reading

Mr BLAKELEY:
Minister for Home Affairs · Darling

by leave - I move -

That the bill be now read a second time.

This proposed amendment of the Northern Territory (Administration) Act has been rendered necessary because of omissions from the previous bill which was brought down to this House some little time ago. It will be remembered that that bill provided for the appointment of an advisory council in connexion with the administration of the Northern Territory. That provision was rejected by another place and upon it disagreement arose between the two chambers. Ultimately both Houses appointed managers who met and conferred with regard to the points at issue. It was during the conference of the managers that the question of officers’ rights was raised. The previous bill provided for the abolition of the North Australia Commission. The Northern Australia Act under which the North Australia Commission was appointed, preserved to the officers of that commission certain existing and accruing rights, but the previous bill which abolished the commission made no provision for the continuance of those rights and privileges.

Mr Beasley:

– Would not those officers be covered by the Officers’ Rights Declaration Act.

Mr BLAKELEY:

– It is possible that some of the officers of the North Australia Commission would be covered by such legislation, but certain officers in question will have no rights reserved to them unless this bill is passed, and, so that they may be given a fair deal, I recommend this measure to honorable members. The second object of the bill is to provide a title for the Government Resident at Alice Springs or Stuart. The position of government resident in both North and Central Australia is being abolished, and obviously the Administrator at Port Darwin cannot be the Government Resident at Stuart or Alice Springs. The bill provides that there shall be a deputy administrator, in lieu of a government resident, in that portion of the Northern Territory now known as Central Australia.

Both of these are simple provisions, and there is no more in them than the billdiscloses.

Mr GULLETT:
Henty

.- It would appear that owing to an omission in the drafting of the original bill, certain officers in the service of the North Australia Commission would suffer hardship and loss unless this measure was carried. It therefore has my cordial support.

Mr BEASLEY:
West Sydney

– I should like a pronouncement from the Minister as to the effect that this legislation may have upon other officers in the Service generally. A number of those who were employed by this administration entered it under conditions which differed from those that apply to the ordinary Public Service. Will the proposed alteration enable those particular employees to be placed in the Public Service with all the rights and privileges relating to transfers, promotions, leave, and superannuation that the Service enjoys?

Mr White:

– I should also like the Minister to state whether the Deputy Administrator to whom he has referred will be newly appointed or whether the appointment will be made from an officer already in the Service ?

Mr BLAKELEY:
Minister for Home Affairs · Darling

– Very few officers will be affected by the proposed amendment. Mr. Hobler, a member of the commission which is to be abolished on the 12th of this month, has rights only in respect of leave and superannuation. Mr. Moyes, secretary to the Commission, has the right to return to the Commonwealth railways. Those who are being retained in employment are - Messrs. F. P. Shepherd, surveyor, who has rights under the West Australian service; G. J. Piggott, Chief Clerk of Lands, who has rights as a New South Wales officer; P. W. Binet, draftsman, who has rights under the West Australian service; and two officers of the Northern Territory service, who will return to that service. Any person who entered the service of the North Australia Commission without any rights will have no rights conferred upon him by the passage of this bill.

With regard to the point raised by the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White), already there is a Government Resident in Central Australia, and there will merely be a change of title.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time, and - by leave - passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.

page 2506

QUESTION

TARIFF

Customs Duties

In Committee of Ways and Means: Consideration resumed from the 3rd June (vide page 2493), on motion by Mr. Forde -

That the schedule to the customs tariff be amended -

Division V. - Textiles, Felts and Funs and Manufactures Thereof, and Attire

Item 107 (Badges, ribbons and galloons) .

Mr FORDE:
Minister for Trade and Customs · Capricornia · ALP

– I desire to comment upon certain points that were raised last night by the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill). An increase of 10 per cent. British, and 10 per cent, general tariff, under sub-item a, and of 20 per cent, under sub-item b, is proposed. In 1927 an increase of 10 per cent, was imposed in the general tariff under item 107a. An examination of the import figures shows that the imports since that date have increased by £8,944, or approximately 43 per cent. Severe competition is being experienced by Australian manufacturers, particularly in connexion with French and German ribbons and galloons.

Since 1927 the two largest Australian manufacturers have amalgamated, and an extensive building programme has been undertaken with a view to bringing both concerns under the one roof. The amalgamated company stated that its prices would not be increased following the increased protection, and that promise has been fulfilled to the letter.

Mr Maxwell:

– Are these promises not to increase prices given in writing?

Mr FORDE:

– Invariably they are given in writing. In some cases they are made before the Tariff Board.

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– What is done with them afterwards?

Mr FORDE:

– A check is kept on them in the department, and the operations of the manufacturers are periodically policed.

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– If they do not carry them out, what happens?

Mr FORDE:

– If it is found that they are not carrying out their undertaking, that fact is brought under the notice of the Minister.

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– What happens then?

Mr FORDE:

– I personally have not had brought under my notice the case of a manufacturer having repudiated his undertaking. The prices of many lines, especially woven labels and hangers, have been decreased by from 10 per cent, to 30 per cent, since the increased duty became operative. The principal local manufacturer reports that progress has been made with practically all of the lines included in the item, with the exception of woven labels and hangers, and embroidered badges and hat-bands for colleges and clubs, the demand for which has fallen off enormously owing to the general trade depression. The increased rates have enabled the company to secure the small amount of business that has offered.

Prior to the imposition of the new duties, four looms were in use in the production of slipper, shoe, and blazer bindings. The effect of the duties is that 33 looms are now running continuously, producing an average of 74,000 yards of binding a week. The large stocks of bindings that were held by the agents of overseas companies are becoming exhausted, and the trade of the local manufacturers of those lines is increasing every month.

Galloons for renovations were at one time admitted at low rates of duty under by-law. The removal of those goods from the by-law provision, and the consequent application of the full rate of duty under item 107, have resulted in the operation of five looms at full-time, ten looms having been employed at the commencement to prepare quantities of the various shades for stock. With the depletion of the stocks of imported lines held by wholesale houses, the business in hat galloons for renovators will increase in volume. I have here a number of samples of hat galloons. If honorable members care to inspect them they are at liberty to do so. The effect of the duties, so far as this firm’s whole business is concerned, has been the retention of the full staff in fairly constant employment.

Mr Gullett:

– What does “fairly constant “ employment mean ?

Mr FORDE:

– It means, I suggest, employment with greater continuity than previously. A falling off in trade in respect of certain lines was almost entirely countered by the additional trade secured as a result of the manufacture of new lines also covered by item 107. But for the imposition of these new duties this company would have been compelled to add to the numbers of the unemployed. Last night, the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill) commented adversely upon this item. It is not, as he said, a new one. It was first incorporated in the tariff in 1914, was amended in 1920 and again in 1926. The present Government is merely increasing the rates of duty, because the protection afforded by the previous administration was found, after careful investigation, to be inadequate. I have made inquiries into the question of water-waved regalia ribbons under 48 ribs to the inch, and under 3i inches in width, and I find that such ribbons are not being manufactured in the Commonwealth. It is the only ribbon, coming under the item, which the local industry does not manufacture. All other types ©f regalia ribbon are being made in Australia. If the honorable member will furnish me with full details of the matters mentioned by him last night, I shall consider the admission of this ribbon under departmental by-laws. The department has always given sympathetic consideration to all applications in Australia in respect of the tariff, and I have no desire to be unreasonable or inflict hardship upon any section of the community provided the protectionist policy of the Government is not compromised. The anomaly about which the honorable member complained last evening did not arise under the administration of this Government. It has been the practice to charge the higher duty on this type of ribbon for many years so that the charge of thoughtlessness levelled against me last night by the honorable member for Warringah is not wellfounded and I believe that, upon reflection, he will withdraw it.

Mr GULLETT:
Henty

.- As the increase in duty under this item is relatively small, I have not much opposition to offer to it. The Minister’s proposal merely increases the British ad valorem rate from 35 per cent, to 45 per cent. It represents an advance of about 33 per cent., but compared with other increased duties it is a very mild one indeed. I should not have risen to speak upon this item but for the Minister’s general reference to promises given by manufacturers not to increase the prices of their commodities if they are given prohibitive duties under the tariff and have virtually a monopoly of the Australian market. When I asked what action was taken by the department, I was informed that these promises from manufacturers were periodically policed. Nobody knows what that means. But even if they are policed, what action is likely to be taken against those manufacturers who do not stand up to their promises ?

Mr Beasley:

– This Government said, in effect, that it would deport them.

Mr GULLETT:

– The Government is just as likely to do that as it is to take any other action. No one doubts that manufacturers, given prohibitive duties, can increase their prices to almost any level without any risk of punitive action by the department. We all recall the futile, threat made by the Prime Minister that, if manufacturers took advantage of the prohibitive tariff and charged excessive prices, the duties imposed for their protection would be withdrawn. Action in that direction is quite impracticable. Manufacturers may, apparently, retain prices at the old level, but reduce the quality of the article supplied. The only worth-while guarantee, from the consumers’ point of view, is to give the manufacturer reasonable protection and rely upon competition to regulate prices and maintain a reasonable standard of quality. That is the only form of tariffmaking to which I shall ever subscribe.

Mr Forde:

– Surely we can. depend on internal competition to keep down prices.

Mr GULLETT:

– The Minister knows very well that in certain industries heavily protected by this schedule the Australian market, being limited, offers little or no attraction to competition. In respect of certain lines, there is room for only one big manufacturing unit. It would never pay a new manufacturing organization to challenge a well-established industry, unless there was good reason to anticipate early success. The Minister suggested also that the increased duty was necessary to enable industries to carry on during this period of depression. It is entirely impossible for this committee to authorize special tariff duties to meet a time of seasonal depression. The Minister further emphasized that the higher duty was responsible for fairly constant employment in the industry. What that means nobody knows. When I asked him just now what “fairly constant “ employment meant, he replied that he meant a greater continuity of employment than would have been possible if the higher duty had not been imposed, and suggested further that, but for the additional protection which this duty affords, there would have been an addition to the numbers of our unemployed. If the Minister intends to chase every depressed industry of this country, and apply a tariff tonic to it, he will be busier than he appears to be now.

The honorable gentleman’s concluding remark was to the effect that Australia can manufacture everything that can be manufactured in other parts of the world. No fallacy deserves such complete condemnation as that which suggests that Australia can at once be made self-contained industrially. Statements that suggest that that is possible are utterly foolish, and those who make them display a woeful ignorance of economics. The aborigines of this country were self-contained. They engaged in no trade with outside communities. It was because they were fending for themselves that we found them in such a deplorable condition. The attempts of the Minister to make tariffs lead one to think that he is desirous of reverting to a condition of savagery. At any rate, he is doing a good deal to kill trade in Australia. I suggest that his title should no longer be Minister for Trade and Customs. The word “ Trade “ should be eliminated. The attempt to establish in Australia every branch of every manufacturing industry so that we may become self-contained is ridiculous. If we persist in .this policy we shall inevitably revert to the conditions of the dark ages. I am sure that before very long it will be necessary for us to completely revise the whole of our customs duties.

Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:
Warringah

– Having listened to the speech of the Minister I feel that there is no reason why I should withdraw a single statement that I made in discussing this item last night, for the Minister has not nullified a single objection that I took to this duty. He did not even attempt to reply to my statement that certain ribbons and trimmings are now admissible duty free under item 106 b. I suppose this was because he knew very well that importers had to run the gauntlet of the department’s interpretation of its own definitions before anything could enter Australia duty free. These definitions are of such a drag-net character that it is almost impossible for anything to get through them without the payment of a substantial duty. We have been told that £8,000 worth of galloons were imported last year, and the Minister contends that these should have been manufactured here. The reason for this is, as I pointed out, that certain, articles of this nature could not be made in Australia. The honorable gentleman said, “If those particular items are brought under my notice I will graciously allow them to come in free”. He made the statement with strong emphasis on the “ I “, and with a pleased smile. I submit that no Minister should have the power to decide whether certain people shall, or shall not, be allowed to import buckles, ornaments, or any other goods into Australia. The decision on this matter should be given by the Parliament irrespective of any individual consideration.

Mr Forde:

– The power to which the honorable member has referred was conferred upon the Minister for Trade and Customs by a Nationalist Government.

Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:

– I do not care how the power came to be conferred upon the Minister. I know that the present occupant of the office takes the greatest of pride in exercising it. Such power should not be vested in a Minister. No single person should have the right to say that certain citizens may import goods duty-free, but that certain other persons shall not do so. Parliament should determine all matters of this kind.

I hold in my hand a card containing samples of a number of badges. The person responsible for this card of badges being made available to us was somewhat indiscreet, to say the least of it, for practically every badge on it is a badge of a branch of the Loyal Orange Institution. One emblem for instance is the emblem of Lodge No. 248. It shows the Bible and King William riding his horse. Another badge has the letters P.M. stamped upon it. This is, doubtless, a past master’s badge. The coffin shown on one of the badges suggests to us that a similar political container is awaiting all honorable members who have the folly to support extortionate duties of the kind now under consideration. The man who prepared this exhibit was extremely fortunate to obtain any protection from the Government.

I shall oppose these duties because, in my opinion, they have not been given mature consideration. The promise of the manufacturers that prices will not be increased is valueless. It might be possible for one manufacturer to make this promise honorably, with every intention of fulfilling it ; but if other manufacturers, who later engaged in the industry, increased prices, the Minister surely could not penalize them because of a promise made by the original manufacturer. It would not be either practicable or fair to withdraw the duty. It will be seen, therefore, that the undertaking of the Minister that the duty will be withdrawn is really worth no more than the honour of the manufacturer who makes a promise that he will not increase prices. I am not making any charge against the manufacturers of this country or suggesting that they would dishonour their promises; but circumstances may arise which may make it impracticable for them to carry out an undertaking such as the Minister has mentioned. The Minister has not shown any justification for the imposition of these duties, and particularly those on certain lines which cannot be manufactured in Australia. The fact that he is prepared to agree to certain goods coming in free of duty is proof that they are not being manufactured in Australia.

Question - That item 107 be agreed to - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. McGrath.)

AYES: 31

NOES: 28

Majority . . 3

AYES

NOES

Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Item agreed to.

Item 109 (Artificial flowers, &c).

Mr NAIRN:
Perth

.- I suggest for the favorable consideration of the Minister the insertion of the words “other than porcelain” after the words “ artificial flowers “. The object of this suggested amendment is to bring porcelain flowers used for making wreaths under the general heading of porcelain goods in item 237 instead of under the duties provided for artificial flowers in this item. Under paragraph b of item 237 “porcelain ware, n.e.i. “ is dutiable at 35 per cent. British, 40 per cent, intermediate, and 60 per cent, general. Under item 109, which the committee is now considering, there is a surcharge of 50 per cent., but under item 237 there is no such surcharge. I have been informed by the officers of the Customs Department that there are no porcelain works in Australia, and that it is very unlikely that the manufacture of porcelain will be undertaken in this country. Porcelain flowers are manufactured almost exclusively on the continent, and the requirements of Great Britain are obtained principally from that source. The object of the surcharge under this item is to exclude certain articles which are regarded as luxuries and which can be made in Australia ; but there is no likelihood of porcelain flowers being manufactured here. The existing duty is 60 per cent, foreign which, together with the surcharge, primage duty and other imposts, brings the total amount payable up to 103 per cent. Such a high rate is surely unnecessary for what is only a revenue tariff. It has been suggested to me that, without disturbing the classification of the tariff, my object might be achieved by means of an amendment to the Special Duties Bill. If the Minister is favorably disposed to the removal of the surcharge on this item, I shall not at this stage insist upon my present amendment.

Mr FORDE:
Minister for Trade and Customs · Capricornia · ALP

– I suggest to the honorable member for Perth that when the Special Duties Bill is before the House he move an amendment exempting porcelain flowers from the list of items subject to special duties. He will thus achieve his object without disturbing the classification followed by the department. The proposed increases of duty are 10 per cent. British preferential, and 15 per cent, general, so that the preference to Great Britain is increased by 5 per cent. The increase in duty is mainly for revenue purposes. There are ten factories operating in Australia making this class of goods, and they are in a position to supply a reasonable range of designs.

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– How many persons do they employ; - about twenty?

Mr FORDE:

– The number employed has recently increased, and is much more than the honorable member suggests. The Australian industry has been pressing for the imposition of a fixed rate of duty on artificial flowers, sprays, trails, posies, &c. In the 1921-24 tariff a differentiation was made between artificial flowers, sprays, trails and posies, and other artificial” flowers, and the department’ found a difficulty in administering the item, besides’ which the commercial community was almost always in doubt as to what rate of duty would be levied on imports. In view” of those difficulties it is not proposed to impose a fixed rate of duty. Moreover, the rate necessary to prevent importation would need to be exceptionally high. I went into this matter fully, and it has been decided not to impose a fixed rate.

Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:
Warringah

– This is an extraordinary duty to ask a national Parliament to sanction. This Parliament is allegedly intent upon building up national industries, but surely it cannot be seriously contended that we are so engaged when we impose a duty of 60 per cent. on artificial flowers, fruits, plants, leaves and grains. By no stretch of imagination could the manufacture of such articles ever be classed as a national industry. It requires no capital to start, and is mostly conducted by private persons in their own homes, or in their backyards. Who is it who uses these artificial flowers ? They are used mostly by members of the working class as decorations for their hats, and for similar purposes. Artificial flowers and fruits are not bought to any extent by wealthy people, nor are they employed for the decoration of expensive millinery.

Mr.C. Riley. - They are used as decoration on evening frocks, &c.

Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:

– Yes, in Newtown perhaps, in the honorable member’s electorate. That is where he has seen them used to decorate evening frocks; but if he were to come over my way he would not see them used to any considerable extent. Artificial flowers, fruits, &c, are used almost exclusively by working people.

Mr Watkins:

– And made by them.

Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:

– Yes, made by them, worn by them and paid for by them through the nose, as a result of these excessive duties. I have previously pointed out that most of the recent increases in duties will bear harshly on the middle and working classes of the country, because they will increase the cost of clothing. This industry might very well be left to the women who are now mostly engaged in it. It is generally a family affair, two or three people at the most engaging in the manufacture of these articles. I asked the Minister to say ‘ how many persons were employed in the industry in Australia, and he did not say. I asked for a Tariff Board report on the industry, but no report was forthcoming. Evidently this is another of those instances in which some one came along and asked the Minister - who, in these matters, has always been so generously inclined - for a little extra protection. We can imagine the Minister rubbing his hands as he receives the caller, smiling upon him, and asking what he wants. The other day the Minister objected to my saying that he invited applicants for increased tariff protection to write out their own ticket. Therefore, I shall not put it in that way, but I shall say that the Minister asks his visitor what he wants, and the visitor replies that a little duty of 60 per cent. would not go amiss. “Right you are,” says the Minister. “ You shall have it “. And the applicant gets his 60 per cent., plus the extra charges which are imposed.

Mr Forde:

– The honorable member’ knows that these things are never done in that way. New duties are imposed only after the most, careful investigation by tariff officers.

Mr. ARCHDALE PARKHILL.Well, one lives and learns. I” do not think it can be as the Minister says, because the present Government was in office for only five weeks when the Minister for Trade and Customs brought down a tariff containing over 200 items.

Mr Forde:

– We worked very hard during those five weeks.

Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:

– Yes, going through the schedule already prepared. I do not desire to cast any reflection, upon the Minister, but I point out that Ministers such as Senator Massy Greene, and the late Mr. H. F. Pratten, took as long as eighteen months and two yearsto produce tariff schedules containing only half as many items as the schedule produced by the present Government in five weeks. Such a trivial industry as this duty is designed to benefit should not engage the attention of the National Parliament. The policy of the party opposite should be that the Government select certain important industries, and give them such tariff assistance as is required to enable employment to be provided for thousands of men, with indirect benefits to thousands of others; but a few firms employing half a dozen girls could manufacture all the artificial flowers required in Australia. As to- artificial fruit, I have not seen any for years, although, at one time, it was exhibited in a home occasionally, under a glass case. I suppose that one factory, employing half a dozen girls, could make enough artificial fruit in six months to meet the demand for a century. [Quorum formed.]

Mr WHITE:
Balaclava

.- Since a division has been called for on almost every item, I desire to make my attitude to this duty clear. I join the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill) in objecting to the method employed by the Minister in imposing duties such as this. Had an inquiry been made into the proposal, the committee would have had some technical evidence to guide it, but the Minister has simply put the duty up 10 per cent., and we are asked to take it or leave it.

Mr FORDE:

– It is mainly for revenue purposes.

Mr WHITE:

– I have supported the Minister with regard to such duties as that on jewellery, but the imposts on ribbons and artificial flowers are prohibitive. The raising of the ad valorem duty on artificial flowers to 50 per cent., plus exchange amounting to 30 per cent., shipping charges, insurance, &c, about 10 per cent. ; duty on packing cases about 2 per cent., and primage duties 4 per cent., gives a protection of no less than 96 per cent, to a back-yard industry. I am prepared to grant reasonable protection to the woollen and .iron and steel industries, and similar important industries which provide employment for large numbers of persons, but I do not intend to support the Government in giving a heavy duty to every pettifogging industry that asks for protection. A duty of 96 per cent, is not a- revenueproducing impost; it amounts to” prohibition. Work will not be created by imposing such duties. Their only effect will be to do injury to importing firms that are providing employment, and whose staffs, in times of depression, cannot readily be absorbed in other industries. I shall oppose this duty as I did the previous impost; but if it can be shown that a duty will result in providing employment, and will not cause exploitation of the public, that is, if it means protection and not prohibition, I shall always support it.

Item agreed to.

Item 110 (Apparel, &c)

Mr GULLETT:
Henty

.- We now come to the important industry of clothing manufacture. I think that I am speaking for almost every member of the Opposition when I say that we are entirely in favour of granting a reasonable amount of protection to this industry. Generally speaking, wearing apparel is a necessity, which can, and should, be manufactured in Australia. My remarks on this item should not be interpreted as indicating opposition to reasonable, and even generous, treatment of clothing manufacturers; but, having made that comment, I have said all I can in favour of the schedule as it stands. Here, again, as in the case of many other items, the obvious objective of the Minister is to prohibit imports absolutely, and to hand over this great industry to the Australian manufacturers, without price or quality control, except in regard to internal competition. I admit that in this particular industry there is a considerable amount of internal competition; but we have no guarantee that, if we create a monopoly, it will not be taken advantage of by the local manufacturers engaging in pricefixing. I am not condemning them, or casting reflections upon them, but they are business men, and will do as business men of the highest integrity do all over the world.

The Minister said that, in the preparation of this schedule, he had followed the advice of his special departmental officers.

Mr Forde:

– -Do not twist my remarks. Those officers do not recommend whether the Government should stand for protection or freetrade. This party was elected on a definite policy of protection, and we are carrying it out. We have the assistance of departmental experts, who make investigations for us.

Mr GULLETT:

– I take it that the Minister decided on the duty imposed in this instance.

Mr Forde:

– When an application for increased duties is made, a departmental officer is instructed to make investigations- and when he submits his report, a subcommittee of Cabinet considers it, and decides what the rates of duty should be.

Mr GULLETT:

– That is. an extraordinary disclosure. Three or four Ministers, already over-taxed with work, as they have been during the last eighteen months, have met and surveyed the whole field of the technique of Australian manufacture, taking into consideration the raw material and the opportunity for marketing it, the costs overseas and transport costs, and so on, and have then produced this schedule. It certainly bears every appearance of having been compiled in that way. But no matter how it has been arrived at, no intelligence has been displayed in framing it. It shows a lack of true appreciation of the relative Australian and overseas costs. No system of any kind seems to have been followed. I said the other .day, and I repeat, that apparently an office boy has prepared it according to a formula provided for him by the Minister or a sub-committee of Cabinet.

Mr Paterson:

– It has been simply a case of multiplying the old rates by two.

Mr GULLETT:

– That is quite evident. We can imagine the headaches the Cabinet sub-committee, the investigation officers and the Tariff Board suffered in trying to carry out their task, until finally they decided to multiply all the old rates of duty by two. On overcoats and suits, the” old rates of duty were 7s. 6d., 10s., and 12s. 6d. In this new schedule they are 15s., 20s., and 25s. Similarly in regard to youths’ overcoats and suits, the old rates were 5s., 6s. 6d., and 7s. 6d.; they are now 10s., 13s., and 15s. What a marvellous result to come out of all these profound deliberations! It is not scientific tariff-making.

Mr E RILEY:
SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– What does the honorable member call it?

Mr GULLETT:

– I call it prohibitive tariff-making. A much simpler method would have been to make it a capital offence to import any goods at all, and to complete this extraordinary process by giving bounties of 50 per cent, or 100 per cent, on everything produced in Australia. The object of these duties is said to be to ensure the Australian market for the Australian manufacturer and his employees. The ready-made clothing, to which these particular duties apply, are the garments worn by the Australian worker and his children. No consideration is extended to the wearer of this cheap clothing. I want to show how unnecessary these duties are, and how wrong it is for the Minister to afford an opportunity for raising prices against the workers, and I want to appeal to the manufacturers- in their own interests to consider the effect these duties are likely to have on their manufacturing costs. Any addition to the cost of the clothing to (the Australian worker immediately increases the cost of living. This in turn leads to an increase of the basic wage, and any increase of the basic wage means an addition to the costs of manufacture. When I was for a while Minister for Trade and Customs, I appealed, particularly to the Sydney Chamber of Manufactures, to police - I use a word the present Minister often employs - applications for increased duties. In their own selfish interests, I asked them to wipe out all applications that applied to industries which were not worth establishing in Australia. They had started to act on my suggestion and were doing good work, but apparently that has all gone by the board since the present Ministry has assumed office. The landed cost in this country of a suit of clothes worth £2 in London, is £4 2s. Id. A similar suit of clothes made in Australia costs £2 7s. 6d. Where is the need for the duty? It only affords an opportunity to the manufacturer to add £1 12s. 6d. to the price of this cheap clothing.

Mr Forde:

– It also shows that he is not, doing so.

Mr GULLETT:

– I have no doubt that if the manufacturers told the Minister that they would not put up their prices if given a big increase of duty, they would not do so immediately, but inevitably the force of circumstances must bring about that result. The landed cost of a suit of clothes, which costs £3 in London, is £6 2s. Id. That suit of clothes could be made in Australia for £3 10s. Here again is opportunity to raise the price by at least £2 and still be 10s. under the London price. I do not know that there is any surcharge duty on these items, but in addition to the margin I have already indicated the Australian manufacturer has an exchange advantage of from 30 per cent, to 35 per cent. It is not protection, it is sheer madness. It is, however, futile to protest, and I really apologize for taking up so much time in opposition to these duties, knowing that all our protests are doomed to complete failure against the solid votes opposite. But we cannot acquiesce in. these increases. Our silence would perhaps be used against us in the future, and it is necessary for us to continue in a more or less wearisome way pointing out the monumental folly of the Minister.^ He thinks that by this schedule he is doing something that will benefit Australian industry and the workers of this country. His intentions are the very best, but he is really doing an infinite amount of harm to the workers, and striking a very heavy blow at the manufacturers. As a sincere protectionist I appeal to manufacturers to dissociate themselves from this class of tariff-making, which can only degrade the whole . principle of protection and inevitably must awaken in this country a great storm of protest. It can only breed resolute opposition, and 100 per cent, of the country people and a large proportion of those in the metropolitan area will, within the next few years, join in a clamourous and successful attack upon the manufacturing position. That will come about as the result of the abuse of protection by the Minister and those who support him. We know also that this policy strikes a fatal blow at the export trade. It is ‘ piling up costs against the whole community and particularly against the primary producer. If the depression has taught us nothing else, it has reminded us more forcibly than ever before of our absolute dependence upon primary production and export. Futile though it be, I again enter my protest.

Mr FORDE:
Minister for Trade and Customs · Capricornia · ALP

.- By his speech this afternoon, and previous utterances on the tariff schedule, the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) has proved himself to be the greatest enemy of the Australian manufacturer. We have had another example of the monumental foolishness of his advocacy of freetrade in accordance with a brief which was obviously handed to him by the importers’.

Mr Gullett:

– On a point of order. The Minister’s remark is grossly offensive, as he knows and intends. I ask that it be withdrawn.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Mr Keane:
BENDIGO, VICTORIA

– I ask the Minister to withdraw the remark.

Mr FORDE:

– If it is offensive to the honorable member for Henty I withdraw it. But his extravagant language, and his endeavour to reinstate Flinders-lane and York-street are nauseating to any one who stands for the protectionist policy that has been accepted by the great majority of the people. The Labour party was elected to give to Australian industries, not shandy-gaff protection, but adequate protection. The honorable member for Henty spoke of the manner in which the tariff -schedule was prepared and questioned the advice given by the departmental experts. The officers’ obligation is to carry out the policy of whatever government is in power. If a government is elected on a freetrade policy, the experts will do what is required to give effect to it. The present Government, having been elected on a protectionist policy, the duty of the experts is to ascertain what is adequate protection, and in the preparation of this schedule they have worked extremely hard. I make no apology for proposing duties that are adequate - not merely high enough to admit, competitively, suits made in England from the “worsted woven by English mills and made up by tailors and tailoresses receiving lower wages and enjoying less favorable conditions of employment than their fellows in Australia. We have woollen mills capable of supplying all our requirements and thousands of tailors and tailoresses out of work who could be employed in converting into suits the cloths made by Australian mills from Australian wool. Effective protection of a great natural industry like the manufacture of clothing is justifiable. The honorable member for Henty quoted the prices at which suits could be bought in England. I remind him that the Empire Marketing Board recently made a pronouncement which was repeated in this House by the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) that preference should be given first to the products of the United Kingdom, and secondly to those of the dominions. In those circumstances, there is nothing wrong in our giving first preference to Australian products. The honorable member said that when he was Minister for Trade and Customs he had the New South Wales Chamber of Manufactures well disciplined to police applications for tariff assistance and comb out those which it considered were unimportant’. The manufacturers knew that while the honorable member was in charge of the department, it was as difficult to get adequately protective duties as it is for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle. They realized the futility of approaching him, because he qualified for his portfolio by saying, in 1928, although secondary industries were then languishing, that it was time Ave had a tariff holiday. The clothing industry is one of the most important in the Commonwealth. It provides employment for about 41,000 hands in 2,338 factories, and the annual production approximates £17,000,000. Is it not better to develop an industry which ‘‘uses Australian raw material than to import from the other side of the world, shoddy materials, possibly made from wool grown in South Africa? The present proposals provide for increased duties in respect of goods which form the raw materials of the apparel industry, such as cotton and wool yarns, cotton tweeds, woollen piece-goods, and silk and artificial silk, piece-goods, and it is necessary to increase the duties operating against importations of the made-up garments in order to prevent any possible detriment to the industry. In 1926, when Mr. Pratten was Minister for Trade and Customs, the tariff was drastically amended in favour of the clothing industry with a view to securing to it practically the whole of the Australian market. But statistics shows that the reduction in the value of imports over the three years from 1927-28 to 1929-30, was only £288,000. Another factor operating to the detriment of the Australian clothing industry is that overseas manufacturers holding excessive stocks at the end of the season are prepared to job them out at any price in order to be relieved of stock, which, ,being subject to changes of fashion, would probably be worthless for the next season. These goods were being dumped into

Australia, and it was impossible for the local manufacturers to compete against them. Numerous inquiries have been made with a view to ascertaining whether the provisions of the Industries Preservation Act can be applied in the interests of the Australian industry, but it is very difficult to obtain, conclusive evidence of dumping. The enthusiastic advocates of freetrade opposite seem to want to curry favour with the merchants of , Flinderslane and York-street. But many enterprising merchants have already seen the light, and transferred from importing to manufacturing. I met recently a man who eight months ago was a big importer, and who now employs 600 hands in two factories. Listening to the honorable members for Henty (Mr. Gullett) and Warringah (Mr. Parkhill), one would think that the Australian manufacturers are the greatest enemies of this country. Surely, these men, who have invested millions of pounds in factories and employ 41,000 hands, are more patriotic Australians than importers who buy goods from cheap-labour countries, and give employment in this country to only a few clerks. I am confident that these duties will be supported by all honorable members who believe in fostering a great natural industry.

Mr BEASLEY:
West Sydney

– Throughout the consideration of’ the duties on textiles my colleagues . and 1 have consistently opposed the granting of additional protection to manufacturers who, while seeking by every means at their disposal to get increased duties from a Labour Government, are simultaneously slashing wages, lengthening hours, and amending downwards the conditions of their employees. But the duties now under consideration appear to be in a different category, for they affect a section of manufacturers against whom so far we have no complaint. Those engaged in the making up of apparel are, so far as we know, doing what is expected of them by a Labour Government and the trade unions, and, therefore, it behoves us not to interfere with any proposals for the adequate protection of their industry. For that reason we propose to support these duties. The Minister stated that the speeches of ‘members, of the Opposition might lead one to conclude that the manufacturers are the greatest enemies of this country. We may yet live to see the day when that may be truly said of them, and when ‘Labour will be called upon to fight strenuously against them. We have already had evidence that some of them, while taking advantage of the assistance granted by Labour Governments, are doing everything possible to undermine the conditions of their employees. Though at times they may assist Labour politically when it suits their purpose, we know that very many of them are strongly allied with organizations which are doing everything possible to decry, and misrepresent Labour in both the Federal and State spheres. I am not misled by the overtures they may make to Labour members of this Parliament, and I am also confident that the time is not far distant when industrial Labour will find that many manufacturers are amongst its greatest enemies. We are in a measure setting up in this country a class who might be termed “ manufacturing capitalists “, whose bash of thought with regard to the standard of living does not differ from that of the importing capitalists, who have been the chief opponents of the Labour movement in Australia. Realizing these things, I feel that there is a responsibility resting upon myself and others to defend at every available opportunity the living standards of our people, politically as well as industrially. Where the industrial movement is not sufficiently strong to resist the demand of the people to whom I have referred, I shall do whatever it is in my power, politically, to do for them. Because these items affect a large number of employees, particularly females; and as the manufacturers in this section are honouring their obligations to their employees, I am prepared to allow the duties to go through without opposition. At the same time I make it quite clear that, no matter what industry may be concerned in a request for additional duties, I shall strenuously oppose the imposition of such duties whenever the employers concerned are actuated with the desire to lower the standard of living of their employees.

Mr GREGORY:
Swan

.- In dealing with this item it is necessary for honorable members to ask themselves whether any increase in duties is necessary. I submit that it is n6t. What then, is the object of the Minister in increasing these duties? The honorable gentleman must recognize that the poorer section of the community, particularly, purchase ready-made clothes, and that these higher duties will adversely affect the artisan, the unskilled worker, the farmer and the bush employee. The Minister should have very strong justification ‘ before he increases these duties, which were already needlessly high. In the Canadian tariff that was introduced by the Government which preceded that now in power in our sister dominion, the highest duty was 37^ per cent., on foreignmade clothing. Here the Minister is increasing previous duties by hundreds per cent. In the report of the Economic Inquiry into the Australian Tariff, made by five of our prominent economists, reference is made to the relative value of the duty on the articles protected, and the wages paid in the industry. I instance dressmaking and millinery. The value of the wages paid in the industry was £1,507,000, while the value of the duties imposed amounted to £1,905,000, or £400,000 more than the total wages paid in the industry. Similarly with hats and caps, in which case the value of the wages paid was £622,000, and the amount of the duty £637,000. That was under the old duties. The comparison now will be infinitely worse. What must be noted is that the value of the duty is greater than the whole of the wages and salaries paid in the industry, and now we are asked almost to treble these duties.

Anybody perusing this schedule might imagine that 15s. is the duty on an overcoat. It is not. To that must be added 30 per cent. British tariff, 40 per cent, intermediate and 45 per cent, general tariff.

Mr Paterson:

– And 50 per cent, super charge.

Mr GREGORY:

– And also exchange. I know that on two occasions last year clothing that came to Australia from Europe was burned on the sea-coast, at Fremantle, because the importers would not pay the duty then imposed. What will happen now with these enormous increases ?

The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) drew attention to a phase of the matter to which I should like to refer. I shall deal with the conditions that existed in Victoria many years ago under a very high protective tariff, and the contemporary conditions in New South Wales under freetrade. Time after time, the Victorian manufacturers of that time took every advantage of the high tariff, and sweated their employees. Yet, by 1900, when federation was effected, the New South Wales industries under a freetrade policy, had outstripped their Victorian competitors. I have here an interesting reference to the clothing trade as then carried on. It reads -

In the clothing trade the conditions were even worse, the Chief Inspector of Factories reporting in 1890 a considerable increase in the pernicious sweating system. The marvellous patience of the women engaged in the trades in which sweating was carried on must excite the pity and admiration of all person:: who come in contact with them. Many of the women earn from (is. to 8s. a week, and have children dependent on them. They work from 00 to 04 hours a week, uut even then the work is not regular.

Wages in New South Wales during the same period wore equal to and often in excess of the Victorian rates, and considerably less unemployment existed. In fact, if one looks back to the big labour disputes which tooK place at intervals during these years, it is found that in almost every instance, the strike was broken by the importation of Victorian labour.

Mr Forde:

– Conditions improved considerably with the advent of the Labour party in politics.

Mr GREGORY:

– That is absurd. I know perfectly well that Labour members who entered Parliament naturally worked for the amelioration of those conditions, but the Liberal party has at all times endeavoured to introduce legislation to achieve a similar purpose. We do not want such conditions, and they will not again exist in Australia except, perhaps, as a result of the mad tariff policy of this Government, the most insane that one can conceive. The idea that obsesses the Government is to make commodities as expensive as possible, in the interests of the manufacturers. Every article that is needed by the people carries a heavy tariff imposition. [Quorum formed.’] I do not suppose that I should be in order if I gave a list of the cost of living figures that prevailed at that time in New South Wales and Victoria, but I assure honorable members that they are very revealing. Potatoes only were cheaper in Victoria than in New South Wales.

It is inexplicable that the present Minister should bring down these enormous tariff increases. I can quite understand the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) increasing duties when he was Minister for Trade and Customs, because on the first day that he came into Parliament he declared that he would like to erect a tariff “ wall of China “ around Australia. It was his desire that no goods should be imported, that Australia should be self-contained. I submit that that idea is impracticable.

Mr Lewis:

– I rise to a point of order. When is the honorable member for Swan going to connect his remarks with the item before the committee?

The ACTING CHAIRMAN (Mr. Keane).- The honorable member for Sivan is quite in order.

Mr GREGORY:

– I do not desire my remarks to be out of order. The case that I am submitting is too good. In 1928 the rates of duty on overcoats were 7s. 6d., 10s. and 12s. 6d. Now they are 15s., 20s. and 25s., plus 30 per cent., 40 per cent. and. 45 per cent. It is impossible for Australia to exist without importing goods from other countries. These duties will merely increase the profits of the manufacturers, which is to be regretted at a time when the standard of wages is being reduced. The Minister will say that the cost of these articles will not be increased. What guarantee has he that that will be so? This Parliament cannot pass legislation that will prevent manufacturers coming to an agreement as to the prices they will charge for their products. We know that certain manufacturers refuse to supply retailers with their goods unless they agree to sell them at the price fixed by the makers.

Mr C RILEY:
COOK, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP; FLP from 1931

– The honorable member has persistently opposed every effort to give the Commonwealth Parliament such powers.

Mr GREGORY:

– Of course I have. I prefer my State to be out of the federal pact. The sooner all the -States are freed from the incubus of federation, the better it will be for Australia generally. My blood boils when I realize the difficulties under which the people of Western Australia labour as the result of the handicap imposed by federation. They have to battle against every conceivable difficulty when endeavouring, to open up new country, and this Government persists in placing these huge imposts on the commodities that they require. In whose interests is this done? These duties are definitely in favour of the manufacturer, and adversely affect every unemployed person in Australia when he buys the necessaries of life. He has to pay prices 400 and 500 times in excess of those existing in other countries for similar commodities. The Minister knows that the duties do not benefit the workers ; also that the Government has no power to fix wages and conditions to counteract the impost. Very properly this Parliament cannot interfere in that matter, * which is attended to by the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. The whole thing is preposterous. In ‘July of last year an importer brought a consignment of singlets from Japan-

Mr Lewis:

– I rise to a point of order. I ask what the importation o’f singlets from Japan has to do with the item under discussion.

The ACTING CHAIRMAN.- Order ! The honorable member for Swan has mentioned the word “singlets” only once. I am keeping a careful watch over the debate. I advise the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Lewis) to leave the matter in my hands.

Mr GREGORY:

– If the honorable member for Corio, who is so fond of interjecting and raising points of order, would look at item No. 110, he would realize that it deals with “ apparel “. Perhaps he is unaware that a singlet is an article of apparel. The landed cost of 100 dozen singlets from Japan was £25 17s. 6d. With a duty of 48s. a dozen, plus 45 per cent., and, in addition, a super tax and a primage duty, the total duty on those articles amounted to £379 18s. 5d., or just 1,500 per cent, of the landed cost. In order to show the effect of these duties, I desire to quote the case of a boy working on a farm in Western Australia. His uncle died in India, and his aunt thought that some of the uncle’s clothes would be useful to the boy. Among them was an old dress suit, the duty on which was 25s., plus 45 per cent., a total of £3 ls. The parcel of clothing also contained nine beach suits, worth about 25s. each in India. The duty on them was 25s. each, plus 45 per cent., or a total of £15 16s. The duty on a blazer valued at £1 was 15s., plus 45 per cent., or a total of 24s. At the time I drew the attention of the Minister to the effect of these high duties on the boy, but was unsuccessful in. obtaining a remission of the duties.

I should like to hear some arguments advanced to show the necessity for these higher duties, for it cannot be said that there have been large importations of ready-made clothing from other countries. Moreover, it is absurd for the Minister to say that foreign countries export shoddy material to Australia, and thereby exploit the Australian consumer. I imagine that the people of this country can get in Australia all the shoddy material they require. It is for the person making the purchase to say what goods he wants. I fail to understand the attitude of honorable members on the other side, for they must realize that these duties will press most heavily on the poorer sections of the community. It cannot be contended by them that by supporting these high duties they are ensuring that high wages will be paid to the workers in the industry. Indeed, they cannot do anything to protect those workers. Under the Federal Constitution we have no power to fix wages. This can only be done by an. arbitration court free of any political control. Yet they persist in granting considerable advantages to Australian manufacturer 3.

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– The Labour party in Australia is the only radical party in the world that supports high duties.

Mr GREGORY:

– The Labour party in Great Britain is opposed to duties on foodstuffs entering that country, because it realizes that Britain must manufacture for export, and that, if the cost of living is raised, Britain’s export trade will be lost. The people of Western Australia are, for the most part, exporters. Their goods have to compete in the markets of the world with the products of low-wage countries. In my opinion, the action of the Government in imposing duties which injure the workers of Australia, when it cannot show that they will gain any advantage from them is diabolical.

Mr RIORDAN:
Kennedy

.- In a very heated speech, the- honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) has attacked the manufacturers of this country. Yet the honorable gentleman, prior to the coming into office of a Labour Government, supported a government which stood for the protection of Australian industries. The honorable member endeavoured to compare the conditions of industry in Victoria and New South “Wales in 1893 with those which exist to-day. The honorable member knows that in the early ‘nineties Labour had not been organized as it is organized to-day., As a result of the organization of the workers, we have to-day in Australia an Arbitration Court which fixes the wages and conditions which shall obtain in industry. The honorable member for “West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) says that he can visualize the day when the workers will have to fight the manufacturers. Has there not been a fight between the workers and the manufacturers or other employers ever since 1893?

Mr Gregory:

– There has been until now.

Mr RIORDAN:

– Since 1S93 Australia has been trying to evolve some system whereby disputes in industry can be settled to the satisfaction of both parties.

Mr Ward:

– That is impossible.

Mr RIORDAN:

– I do not know that it is. I should like to know what system the honorable member suggests for the settlement of disputes. Surely he does not advocate direct action; for he must know that direct action brings in its train great hardships, not only to those engaged in the industry directly concerned, but, by disrupting industry generally and throwing others out of work, it also causes suffering and hardship to many not directly concerned with the dispute. He must know also that the greatest sufferers in an industrial upheaval are the workers. Frequently, attempts to improve working conditions have resulted in the wives and families of the workers being brought to the verge of starvation. Until the system of settling disputes by arbitration was instituted there was almost a continuous state of chaos in industry.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Mr Keane:

– I ask the honorable member to connect his remarks more closely with the item before the -Chair.

Mr RIORDAN:

– I was endeavouring to reply to the arguments advanced by previous speakers. The honorable member for West Sydney expressed fears as to the effect of these duties en the workers ; the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) referred to the conditions which prevailed in industry from 1893 to 1900. I thought that I should be in order in expressing views on behalf of those engaged in the industry, with whose interests I am concerned.

Mr Ward:

– It is useless for the honorable member to be concerned about their interests unless he is prepared to take action on their behalf.

Mr RIORDAN:

– The action that has been taken by me on behalf of the workers at mil times since I have been a member of Parliament will compare more than favorably with that of most honorable members. When I was a member of the Queensland Parliament steps were’ taken by the party to which I belonged to protect the workers in industry by means of arbitration and also by the appointment of a price-fixing commissioner to prevent the workers from being exploited.

Mr Beasley:

– I have never complained about the honorable member’s efforts on behalf of the workers when he was in the Queensland Parliament.

Mr RIORDAN:

– The honorable member for West Sydney must admit that he fathered the Arbitration Bill which was before this chamber some time ago. If he accuses other honorable members of not having the same high principles as he possesses, they are entitled to defend themselves. I repeat that the Arbitration Bill, which passed through this chamber last year, was fathered by the honorable member for West Sydney after its return from another place.

Mr Beasley:

– I handled it only in its closing stages.

The CHAIRMAN (Mr. McGrath).The honorable member has been allowed considerable latitude; but I must now ask him to confine his remarks to the item before the Chair.

Mr RIORDAN:

– I support the principle of Australia for the Australians. Indeed, I believe that every country should strive to be as self-supporting as possible. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory^ referred to the high duties imposed on certain articles brought to this country from India. Surely the honorable member would not have Australians work twelve hours a day for a payment of ls. in order that the articles dealt with in this item may be sold more cheaply? In the manufacture of the articles covered by the item before the committee, large numbers of Australians are employed; their wages totalling about £17,000,000 per annum. If the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill) is content that Australians shall for ever be wood and water joeys, that is his concern. I should prefer those honorable members who are opposed to these duties to be whole-hearted in their opposition to them instead of being luke warm as are the honorable members for Henty (Mr. Gullett) and Warringah (Mr. Parkhill). They believe in a “fifty-fifty” fiscal policy. Having no desire to offend the Australian manufacturers, they attempt to compromise by saying that a protective policy is all right so long as the duties are not prohibitive, and provided there is also a reduction in the wages of the employees. I remind those honorable gentlemen who desire the passing of legislation, to reduce wages that the Arbitration Court is the constitutional authority to deal with wages and conditions of labour.

Mr Maxwell:

– What is the necessity for increasing the duties in these cases?

Mr RIORDAN:

– The manufacturers found that the protection provided by the tariffs introduced by the previous Government was not sufficient to justify the installation of up-to-date machinery for the manufacture of certain goods. They, therefore, asked for increased duties. Since this Government has been in power, many industries that had closed down as result of insufficient protection, have revived because of the operation of the Labour party policy.

Mr Gregory:

– Did the honorable member see the report of the commission to the effect that the value of the duty is greater than the wages paid in this industry.

Mr RIORDAN:

– Although, a lot of money has been expended in connexion with the reports of various commissions, few of them are given any consideration at all. I hope that the committee will agree to these increased duties. If the manufacturer’s concerned are exploiting the people, this Government has no power to take any preventive action. It has entered into a gentleman’s agreement with the manufacturers, and if it is not observed it is within the power of the States to prevent the exploitation of the people. I trust that after the next election, this Government will have power to control prices throughout the Commonwealth.

Mr PATERSON:
Gippsland

.- I did not intend to speak on this item, but the Minister made two or three remarks which it is difficult for me to leave unanswered. The Minister complained that the arguments of honorable members on this side of the chamber were opposed to any protection whatever. He practically branded the Deputy Leader of the Opposition as a free trader, although that honorable gentleman in his remarks this afternoon avowed himself to be a .protectionist. It appears to me that unless an honorable member is willing to accept, without comment, increased duties of 100 per cent., 150 per cent, or even 200 per cent., he is regarded as a free trader. That is the line of reasoning adopted by the Minister in charge of this schedule. What particularly brought me to my feet wa3 the Minister’s remarks in regard to departmental officers, and the expert nature of their advice. I have a high opinion of the personnel of the Customs Department. I believe that the department has excellent officers, who are doing conscientious work, but I wonder whether the Minister realizes the significence of his remarks in regard to the assistance given to him by those officers. He told us very naively that if a freetrade policy is favoured by the Government of the day, and the departmental experts understand that it is the desire of the Ministry to institute such a policy, then they will provide freetrade advice without any difficulty whatever. The Minister also said that if a high protectionist government is in office and if the departmental experts know that the policy of the government is highprotection, they can be depended upon to provide advice in keeping with that policy. The Minister told us that the departmental officers could be relied upon to provide whatever kind of advice - freetrade, moderate protection or high protection - was desired by the. Government of the day. I do not contradict the Minister’s statement, but I submit that it can scarcely be regarded as calculated to impress the Opposition as to the value from an impartial point of view of the expert departmental advice. It seems to me that the Minister really destroyed whatever faith honorable members on this side might have in the advice tendered to the Minister by his departmental officers. It is the most extraordinary statement on tariff policy that I have ever heard from a responsible Minister. I dispute not its truth but the wisdom of the extraordinary frankness of the Minister on this occasion. The sub-items of item 110, which cover several pages of the schedule, deal mainly with the woollen industry which I regard as a good natural secondary industry for Australia. It is not an exotic industry, as are some industries which have, unfortunately, been given high protection; quite a considerable number of lines of woollen goods are being turned out at almost competitive rates. I wish, however, to protest against the tremendous height to which the tariff wall is being built by means of these increased duties. The Government has adopted the splendid mathematical practice of multiplying the old duties by three. It has really multiplied, them by two and, in addition, imposed a super tax of 50 per cent, of the existing duty, which means, in effect, that the duties have been multiplied by three. On this point I differ from the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, who has said that the Government apparently has not adopted any fixed principle with regard to these duties. It seems to me that the principle is exactly _ fixed. It is a mathematical principle of multiplying the duties by three.

Dr MALONEY:
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936

– Will t:he honorable gentleman point to particular instances?

Mr PATERSON:

– There are three and a half pages of them, and when we are dealing with the sub-item, I shall point to some in respect of which undue advantage is being taken of these tremendous duties. I admit that, in many instances, undue advantage is not being taken of these duties, and that goods are being sold at almost competitive rates. But I should like to point out that the purchasing power of the people has been considerably reduced, and that it can be regarded as a good policy on the part of the manufacturers to cut their prices as low as possible in view of the fact that they cannot hope to effect sales otherwise. But later on when the depression lifts, and money becomes more plentiful, manufacturers may decide to make hay while the sun shines, and prices may be increased. The Government has gone too far in providing the enormous increases of duty under item 110.

Dr MALONEY:
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936

.- This debate carries me back over two score years, and I purpose to quote from the report of the first inspector of factories appointed in Victoria. Although not a Labour supporter, he was a just and truthful man, and he gave details of what occurred in Victoria at a time when the tariff was modelled somewhat on the lines of the ideal of the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory). Honorable members who are extensive readers must recognize that, in regard to the manufacture of the articles of clothing enumerated in item 110, the vilest instances of sweating occurred not only in Australia, but also in the Old. Country. At one time the influence of the sweating interests extended everywhere. It has been stated publicly, and the statement has never been contradicted, that the elder brother of the present King of England died of typhoid contracted from clothing made in a sweating den. It was expensive clothing, because the kings and princes of England do not underpay for anything that they use in the way of food or clothing. I mention that because it has some relation to a quotation which I propose to read to honorable members, and if they so desire, I can supply them with a copy of it. Some 42 years ago a movement, led by the Reverend A. R. Edgar, perhaps the brightest light of the Methodist community of Melbourne at that time, raised a cry against the sweating which was taking place in the clothing trade. [Quorum formed.] Many years ago I visited various factories in London and on the Continent, and the conditions in the clothing trade were really appalling. In Great Britain woman labour was being brought in at reduced wages to take the place of man labour. Child labour was also being introduced to further reduce costs. Honorable members will find confirmation of my statement in The Life of Lord Shaftesbury. That gentleman used prodigious efforts to keep woman and child labour out of the mines. At that time only one non-conformist minister was prepared to speak from the pulpits of England in support of that good work, which was God’s work. In South Africa the native is employed to reduce the white man’s standard of living, and to further reduce that standard, black labour is employed.

The CHAIRMAN (Mr. McGrath).I ask the honorable member to confine his remarks to item 110.

Dr MALONEY:
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936

– I am showing the conditions which prevailed under a policy of freetrade. It was the awful examples of sweating in various industries that caused legislation to be passed with the object of improving the standard of living of the workers. Only by increasing duties to prevent the importation of shoddy goods that sell at bagatelle prices, can we protect our workers.

The CHAIRMAN:

– The honorable member is making a second-reading speech. The committee is dealing with item 110, and I ask him to confine his remarks to that.

Dr MALONEY:
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936

– Let me tell honorable members what happened in Melbourne under the so-called protection policy of that day, which ultimately developed into what is now known as “ new protection “. The “ new protection “ aims at the protection of the manufacturer, by way of the tariff, the protection of the worker by way of prescribed wages and conditions, and the protection of the citizen by the inauguration of a system of list prices to prevent him from being exploited. I cannot follow the argument of the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson), who said that the Minister, in fixing these duties, has adopted the mathematical practice of multiplying the old duties by three. I cannot multiply 7s. 6d. by three and arrive at 15s., nor can I multiply 5s. by three and arrive at 10s. I am a protectionist up to the hilt; but I respect the free trader who conscientiously believes that no duties should be collected. I may say, however, that I have visited only one place that was absolutely freetrade, and it has since seen the error of its ways to the extent that it now imposes a revenue tariff. I refer to Hong Kong.

Why should not our workers be permitted to make every article of clothing that we require? Had I the power, I would absolutely prohibit the importation of boots, hats, coats, trousers, shirts, or singlets.

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– We cannot do much more than we have done.

Dr MALONEY:
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936

– I disagree with that contention.

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– The duties now are as high as 490 per cent. How much higher does the honorable member expect them to go?

Dr MALONEY:
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936

– The conditions that existed during the semi-freetrade period in Victoria, when huge fortunes were amassed by importers whose warehouses were in Flinders-lane, can be realized by a perusal of a report submitted by Mr. W. F. Harrison Ord, Chief Inspector of Factories, in 1899. At that time, girls were employed for as low as 2s. 6d. a week. They were allowed to keep that 2s. 6d. over the Sunday, but were compelled to return it to their employers on the Monday morning, the pretence being that they were learning a trade. The words used by Mr. Harrison Ord were -

The kind employer would then say that, instead of insisting on the money down, he allows her to return to him on Monday the 2s. 6d. he pays her on Saturday.

Those were the conditions that obtained in Victoria under a moderate policy of protection, of which I understand the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) is a supporter. I am astonished that any honorable member should support the idea that goods which are made under the conditions that operate in foreign countries, and that are dumped in Australia at the prices which are asked for them, should be allowed to enter our ports. I regard it as a reflection on our great wool-growing country that we do not manufacture that wool, and export it in the manufactured form more cheaply than it can be manufactured on the other side of the world. I have come to the conclusion that the high efficiency of our factories and the up-to-date machinery installed in them count for more than low wages and bad conditions.

Mr E RILEY:
SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– And high interest.

Dr MALONEY:
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936

– If there is a special punishment in the next world that is reserved for the worst offenders, high interest mongers ought to undergo it. After what I have said, honorable members must agree that it is necessary to afford Australian manufacturers sufficient protection to enable them to maintain a decent standard. Our factories to-day compare more than favorably with those in any European country. They are splendidly built, and- have the conveniences of light, heat, and power.

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– And they are visited by a union secretary every other day.

Dr MALONEY:
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936

– At the present time the good employer in Melbourne welcomes the union secretary.

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– He has to, whether he likes it or not. He knows better than to kick him out.

Dr MALONEY:
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936

– Those to whom I am referring do not come within that category. They say, “If I am not observing the law, show me where I am at fault, and I shall have the matter remedied “.

I compliment the Minister on the splendid speech that he made when introducing this item. While we cannot have new protection as a policy, the more we cause manufacturers to come to Australia to make these goods, the greater the control we are able to exercise over them, thus assuring decent conditions to the workers.

Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:
Warringah

– The duties on overcoats and suits have been doubled, and if we take into consideration the 50 per cent, surtax they have been trebled. The duty on a man’s overcoat imported from Great Britain to-day is 22s. 6d. plus 45 per cent. ; and should’ these high imposts fail to equal the equivalent of 90 per cent, of the value of the coat, the alternative ad valorem rate of 60 per cent, applies, the surtax increasing the duty to 90 per cent. Men’s suits come within a similar category. The following list will show the effect of the duties : - .

Are such duties necessary in a country like Australia ? The Minister has had the audacity to say that preference is being given to Great Britain. How on earth oan Great Britain, or any other nation, get through these duties, which range from 154 to 490 per cent.?

Mr Forde:

– We do not want them to get through them ; we want them to make the goods here.

Mr. ARCHDALE PARKHILL That is the truth. But having excluded Great Britain-

Mr Forde:

– All overseas manufactures.

Mr. ARCHDALE PARKHILL.Why hypocritically claim that preference is given to Great Britain, when you say that you do not want British goods to come to Australia? If the tariff wall is raised so high against Great Britain that none can scale it; what does it matter if it is raised still higher against other nations ?

Mr Forde:

– We give preference to our own manufacturers.

Mr. ARCHDALE PARKHILL.Therefore, the Minister should withdraw his statement that this tariff gives any preference whatever to Great Britain. He now says, by way of interjection, that it does not purport to give any preference to Great Britain.

Mr Forde:

– I did not say that. It proposes to give preference to the Australian manufacturer.

Mr. ARCHDALE PARKHILL.The honorable gentleman should withdraw the statement that he made in reply to the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett), and admit that no preference is given to Great Britain, because he has said repeatedly, by way of interjection, that it is his desire to keep out of Australia goods from all other countries, and to give preference to Australian manufacturers.

Mr Forde:

– Not to keep out everything, but only what we can manufacture here.

Mr. ARCHDALE PARKHILL.Australia grows the best wool in the world; and it is claimed that we have the most efficient factories, and the most efficient workmen for the manufacture of that wool. If that be the case, where is the necessity for duties ranging up to nearly 500 per cent.? I submit that no justification can be offered for them. I have exploded the Minister’s contention that there is any suggestion whatever of preference to Great Britain in this item.

In an endeavour to be offensive to the honorable member for Henty, the honorable gentleman said that that honorable member was the agent of Flinders-lane and York-street. He also made a similar reference to me. I might with equal justification say that he is the agent of the Chambers of Manufactures; but I shall not do so, because that would be out of order. What I do say, however, is that I exonerate the Minister entirely from having had anything to do with the negotiations that brought about the arrangement for the introduction of this tariff. For that I give credit to the master mind of this Government - the Treasurer (Mr. Theodore). He has negotiated all these arrangements with regard to tariff matters.

The CHAIRMAN (Mr. McGrath).The honorable member must confine his remarks to the item under discussion.

Mr. ARCHDALE PARKHILL.Surely I am entitled to reply to the arguments of the Minister. There is no justification for this enormous increase in the duties, which will fall heavily upon the people. Who wears these goods ?

Mr Jones:

– They are worn by good Australians.

Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:

– I agree with the honorable member, and I remind him that hundreds of thousands of good Australians who, through lack of employment, are now in distressful circumstances, will be compelled to pay greatly increased prices for their clothing as a direct result of these excessively high duties. That is how good Australians are being treated by this Government. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory), a little while ago, directed attention to the fact that the British Labour Government did not subscribe to the tariff policy which has been adopted by the Labour party in Australia, in order, so it is argued, to improve the position of the working classes. The Ramsay MacDonald Government of Great Britain would not for one moment countenance these excessively high duties. Where is the justification for a duty equivalent to an increase of 224 per cent, on certain classes of woollen goods, including cardigan jackets? If, as has been stated, the industry in this country is efficiently managed, and if Australian workmen are equal to the best in the world, why should there be need for these extraordinarily high duties? One effect of this tariff is to increase the cost of clothing. This is reflected in the employment figures relating to the tailoring industry. Fewer tailors are now employed than there were a year or two ago.

Mr Jones:

– Suits are cheaper to-day than they have been for years.

Mr. ARCHDALE PARKHILL.They are cheaper because there is growing up, in what may be termed the substratum of the clothing trades, the undesirable system of sweating, to which the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) has referred. Arbitration Court awards and other conditions imposed on employers have made it impossible for the tailoring industry to produce suits at a price which will ensure a ready demand. Consequently the subterranean industry, if I may term it such, is flourishing. This is what Arbitration Court awards have done for indutsry in this country, and this is one reason, although the Minister will not admit it, why these duties are so high. I am as anxious as any other honorable member to see industry in Australia established on a sound basis. But these high duties will not do that. I remind the committee that the tariff we are discussing has never really operated. The industries already in existence were built up under the Pratten and previous tariffs.

Mr E RILEY:
SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– I was pleased to hear the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill) read the statement which had been prepared by the importers relating to these duties. Whatever may be said against the duties imposed under this item it is a fact that last year our imports of ready-made clothing amounted to not less than £1,000,000. The honorable member referred to the efficiency of the industry andits operatives, but omitted to tell the committee that, however efficient the industry may be, it is impossible for it to compete on anything like equal terms with countries that employ cheap labour.

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– That is why the honorable member is supporting duties ranging up to 400 per cent.

Mr E RILEY:
SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– Not at all. In many countries producing the commodities affected by this item, the employersare not affected by awards of Arbitration Courts or other tribunals for the regulation of industry. In those countries the manufacture of clothing is a home industry. There is no restriction upon the hours of work or the wages of the workers. Sweating is the order of the day. If the industry in Australia is to hold its own it must have adequate protection, through the tariff, against competition from cheap labour countries. This tariff has been in force for twelve months, and it is a fact that clothing is cheaper to-day than it was twelve months ago. Some of the leading retail houses of Sydney are advertising ready-made suits for £3, and I am informed that the price in Melbourne is down to as low as 45s. Last year the clothing trades in Australia gave employment to 41,000 people. If adequate protection is withdrawn from the industry a large number of operatives will lose their employment. I admit that these duties are prohibitive. I stand for that, policy. If our manufacturers are to carry on with a reasonable chance of making a profit and giving to their employees reasonable conditions and fair wages, they must have adequate protection. If breaches of awards take place. the aggrieved parties have their remedy; they may appeal to the Arbitration Court. I commend the Minister for having introduced these duties, and hope that they will be adopted.

Item agreed to.

Items 112 and 113 agreed to.

Item 114-

By omitting the whole item and inserting in its stead the following item: - “ 114. Hats, caps, and bonnets -

Caps and sewn hats, n.e.i., per dozen,

British,15s.; intermediate, 16s.: general, 17s.; and ad vol., British, 35 per cent.; intermediate, 40 per cent.; general, 45 per cent.;

Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:
Warringah

– I think that the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Forde) should explain why excessive duties are required on hoods which are not made in Australia, . and are really the raw material for many lines of local manufacture. There has been a considerable agitation for a reduction of the duties proposed, but so far the Minister has not acceded to any request for a reduc- tion. This item applies to panama hats which are worn in summer by 90 per cent. of our school girls. Under the old duty, the hood was landed at from 15s. to18s. a dozen, and the finished and trimmed hat sold wholesale at from 45s. to 48s. a dozen. Under the new duty these hats cannot be landed under 72s. a dozen wholesale. What justification is there for such a prohibitive duty ? ‘ Under the old rates of duty, the finished and trimmed hat was sold retail at prices ranging from 5s.11d. to 9s.11d. according to quality, and of those prices all but 10d. remained in Australia. There is a class of hood known as a pandan. If used for men’s wear the duty is 45 per cent. ; but if used for hats of any other description it is 60s. a dozen. This hood also has always been popular for school children and for yard hats for women. Prior to the new duty being imposed, the wholesale selling price was 18s. a dozen. The present duty makes importations prohibitive, and there is no locally-made hat to take the place of the imported article at the price which made it so popular. Straw harvest hats are another example of the effect of this duty. Before its imposition, their retail price was 4s.11d., of which 4s. 9d. represented money spent in Australia, the c.i.f. cost of the raw material being only 2d. The new duty of 5s. is more than equal to the old retail price, and importations have been effectively prohibited, with the result that the revenue has suffered, and the 4s. 9d. previously spent in Australia has been lost, whilst there has been no setoff in favour of the Australian manufacturer. These duties are altogether unreasonable, and I submit that they should be reconsidered in the interests of Australian industry and the revenue of the Commonwealth.

Mr WHITE:
Balaclava

.- Sub-item e which reads -

Wool felt hoods for girls’ and women’s hats in conical shape which have not been proofed tipstretched, sandpapered, or polished, per dozen, British 20s. ; intermediate, 25s.; general, 30s.; or ad val., British, 35 per cent.; intermediate, 40 per cent.; general, 45 per cent.; whichever rate returns the higher duty, is really an alteration of the classification which as it operates amounts practically to a prohibition of importations. Under the tariff resolutions of the 11th December, 1929, the sub-item reads as follows : -

Wool felt hoods for girls’ and women’s hats, per dozen, British, 20s.; intermediate, 25s. ; general, 30s. ; or ad val., British, 35 per cent.; intermediate, 40 per cent;; general, 45 per cent.; whichever rate returns the higher duty.

Honorable members will notice the difference in the wording. This change has been made in direct contravention of the written assurance given to the millinery trade by the Comptroller of Customs, and in direct opposition to the report of the Tariff Board dated the 23rd December, 1929, which was as follows: -

After taking into consideration all the circumstances in this case, the Tariff Board recommends that no alteration be made in the duties provided by Customs Tariff 1928-1929, in respect of wool felt hoods.

When a change in the wording of the item was made several manufacturers of millinery wrote to the Trade and Customs Department for a straight-out definition of what was wanted, and among the replies forwarded by the Comptroller of Customs was a letter, dated the 23rd September, 1930, and addressed to Carter and Company, Melbourne (also Mr. G. Hubbard, Luton, England). It reads as follows : -

With reference to your letter of the 16th September, 1930, relative to the tariff classification of felt hoods, I desire to inform you that the goods in question, as per sample submitted, are correctly classifiable under tariff item 114 e - per dozen., 20s., or 35 per cent. (British preferential tariff) ; per dozen, 30s., or 45 per cent. (general tariff), whichever rate returns the higher duty, plus 2½ per cent. primage duty.

All these imported goods are of British manufacture. Despite this assurance, and despite the recommendation of the Tariff Board that no alteration should be made, an alteration has been made. Instead of a spade being called a spade, it is called something else. By providing that these hoods shall not be proofed, tipstretched, sand-papered, or polished, the articles previously imported at rates of duty ranging from 20s. to 30s. a dozen can no longer, be imported at those rates. At the proper time I shall move an amendment to alter the wording of the sub-item and bring it more into line with the form used in the resolution of the 11th December, 1929. It is not as if there were unfair competition of any description with any local article. Before this change was made the old prices of imported lines were considerably higher than those of local lines. Many lines could not be landed at less than 40s. The local lines were selling at 33s. Under the new classification British hoods now cost approximately 70s. to land. It is about twice the selling price of Australian lines. These imported lines were bought by those who required a better article; probably something which they thought would wear well; and they were prepared to pay the higher cost; but now, by altering the definition of hoods, English lines are practically shut out of the Australian trade.

On this schedule I have supported increases of duties and have opposed others ; but I regard this particular proposal as a colossal blunder. It is directly opposed to the assurance given to Carter and Company by the Comptroller of Customs and to the recommendation of the Tariff Board. If the matter of employment comes into the question, the hoods admitted under the old classification were the raw material for millinery factories in Australia. The firm I have mentioned had 150 hands engaged in making up the raw material admitted under the old classification, and there are certainly about eight times as many hands employed in millinery factories as there are in making bodies or hoods in Australia. In any case, the locally-made bodies or hoods are not always suitable for the work done by these firms. For that reason, the whole of the millinery trade is opposed to the altered definition. The following letter has been forwarded by A. W. H. Smith Proprietary Limited, of Melbourne: -

This company has been much concerned with the recent alteration in the wording to clause 114 e of the tariff, as tabled in the House on the 27th March, 1931, and which now reads -

114.-

Wool felt hoods for girls’ and womens’ hats in conical shape which have not been proofed, tipstretched, sand-papered, or polished.

This is in direct contravention to a written assurance given by the Comptroller-General of Customs on the 21st August, 1930, when it was definitely ruled that the duty of 20s., British, would continue to apply (see our letter, No. 1, copy attached).

It was on this written assurance that we placed our winter orders abroad, and the whole of our orders for wool felt hoods had been delivered, and were in Australian waters at the date of the recent alteration.

We have not used British hoods exclusively in our manufacturing business, but have placed large orders with Australian hood manufacturers. The main reason for placing orders abroad was. that last year we were unable to get anything approaching our requirements from the local manufacturers, and to preserve the continuity of our organization had to make very definite arrangements for our raw material supply.

At the time of the alteration in the tariff wo had 780 dozen hoods in bond, and in Australian waters. This quantity was being reduced weekly as we absorbed our factory requirements from bond. Had we cleared all hoods as they arrived only the last shipment of 250 dozen would have caught the altered duty.

This company has 150 employees directly dependent upon its operations for employment and sustenance.

We might add that all these goods now in bond have been paid for in London, and we have definitely decided that unless relief is given to us these goods will be shipped back to London, and the position then will be -

  1. No duty whatsoever will have been paid to the Australian Government.
  2. Many operatives will have lost work in our factories.
  3. Financial loss to ourselves.

We would point out that we have orders in hand for theready-to-wear hats manufactured from this particular type of hood, and if, the concession asked for is granted to us it, will rectify an anomaly that will be beneficial both to employer and employee.

Representatives of the firm have discussed the matter with the Minister, but without success. In respect of other items, the Minister can use his stock argument that work will be provided for another 200 or 300 employees. But this sub-item applies to a fashion article. Fashions are still dictated from overseas. No one in Australia can create them. No one can standardize women’s attire. It would be a brave man who would attempt to do so. Even Kemal, the Dictator of Turkey, who has unveiled the women of his country, would not dare to do as much as our enterprising and enthusiastic Minister for Trade and Customs is attempting to do under this sub-item.

Mr Paterson:

– The dress designers of Paris are men.

Mr WHITE:

– That only proves what I am saying that fashions are not made in Australia. They are made on the Continent, or in London. To compel the women of Australia to buy hoods of a particular type would be to imitate Russian methods. The Russian authorities are trying to make the women of their country wear one style of millinery. If the duties are adopted in their present form it will enable hood-manufacturers to dictate to millinery makers who are the largest employers in the business and are therefore entitled to first consideration. Seeing that the official definition of the sub-item was to the effect that the old duties were to be adhered to, the amendment which I suggest will prevent any possible misunderstanding. More labour is involved in making the finished article than in the manufacture of the hoods themselves. The felt hood manufacturers of Great Britain purchase over 1,500,000 lb. of Australian wool, only 25 per cent. of which is returned to Australia as hoods and capelines, the other 75 per cent. being exported to United States of America, Canada, and South Africa. For the information of the committee, I produce a hood of British manufacture and also a sample of the Australian product, and I would point out that a capeline has a brim, whereas a hood has not, also that the Australian article is more a cone than a hood. If unnecessarily high duties are imposed, wool will be obtained from other sources. In the past, we made the mistake of imposing heavy duties upon

French products and the French Government has naturally adopted retaliatory measures. Germany has also engaged in reprisals against us, and in the action proposed in this instance we are giving Great Britain a great deal of provocation. If British manufacturers are treated in this way they will purchase their wool from South Africa, where they can obtain supplies of a satisfactory quality in sufficient quantities. The amendment I have suggested is fair and reasonable, and if it is accepted will be the means of keeping men and women in employment, which should be the desire of the Government. The sub-item is framed in such a way that manufacturers and importers are in a quandary. I trust that a majority of the committee will support the insertion of the sub-item in an amended form in place of the present sub-item which is so framed as to be of a prohibitory nature.

Mr HAWKER:
Wakefield

.- This is one of the rare instances in which we have a report from the Tariff Board to guide us, although it does not cover all the articles mentioned in the subitem. The hoods are the raw material of the millinery industry.

Mr E RILEY:
SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– They are made in Aus-tralia.

Mr HAWKER:

– Their manufacture provides work for Australians and Australian wool is used as the raw material, but I do not know if the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. E. Riley) considers that the hood manufacturers of Australia should receive protection far in excess of their wages costs. Personally, I think that protection to that extent is too generous. According to the report of the Tariff Board, the wages cost of making hoods is about 10s. 6d. a dozen. Under the 1921-28 tariff, the protection afforded was equivalent to 15s. a dozen, which was in addition to the natural protection in the form of transport, insurance and other costs. The hoods under consideration are made from what is essentially Australian raw material which is no more expensive in Sydney or Melbourne than in other countries where these goods are made. The duty previously in operation was equal to 50 per cent, in excess of the total wages costs of the manufacturers, quite apart from the natural protection. Under this proposal the duty is double the wages cost. I ask honorable members to consider why the manufacturers should need more than three times the amount of their wages bill in order to keep their factories in operation. If they need such high protection, they are entirely inefficient or too greedy to receive further consideration. Even if we afforded protection to the extent of 50 per cent, above the wages costs, we should be paying too much. We would be legislating more in the interests of the workers of Australia if we used the money in carrying out reproductive works. If we impose a duty equivalent to four times the wages bill of the industry, threefourths of the amount involved is being wasted. Duties of this character seriously reduce the purchasing power of the people and result in increased unemployment. The Minister is not prepared to accept the recommendations of the Tariff Board, which submitted a report on the subject on the 23rd December, 1929. In this instance he has again amended the schedule by further increasing the duties, contrary to the recommendations of the board. It would be interesting to know who is getting the advantage from action of this kind which only results in increased unemployment. Although the labour costs are equal to 10s. a dozen, the higher duties are equivalent to 40s. a dozen. Who is getting the advantage ?

Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.

Mr HAWKER:

– Honorable members should ask themselves who is gaining by these increased duties. I do not insinuate that the Minister is getting a cut out of it. So far as I know there is no suspicion of anything of the kind, but somebody else must he in a position to get a tremendous rake-off. Certain sections of the community upon which the Minister looks with favour are, by means of the tariff, placed in a position to keep up their dividends, and, at a time like this, when the Customs Department is in some confusion, they may be able to make excess profits. This favoured section is being made wealthy at the expense of the rest of the community. I have no special antagonism to manufacturers as a class, provided they earn what they obtain from the public. I would prefer that articles such as those under discussion should be made in Australia, but coming as I do from a part of the country where unemployment is very severe, I object to the imposition of high duties of this kind, the effect of which must be to increase unemployment still further, and to raise the price of necessary commodities. On other occasions I have explained to the House how the distributing trade in Adelaide has been injured by the Government’s tariff policy, and the present item, which covers articles generally handled by the warehouses, will still further injure their trade. It is difficult to follow some of the definitions contained in the schedule, but it is evident that, in some instances, the duties recommended by the Tariff Board have been just about doubled, while in others the Minister has been rather more merciful, and has allowed the old rates of duty to remain in force. The rule which appears to have been generally followed by the Minister is to double the Tariff Board’s recommendations in the case of those industries which happen to have taken his fancy. I oppose this item, not because it represents an attempt at protection, but because it is protection gone mad. I hope that it will be defeated, if not in this chamber, then in another place.

Mr PROWSE:
Forrest

.- The proposal to increase the duty on this item is undesirable, because it will tend, if put into effect, to decrease the consumption of wool. The woollen industry will be still further handicapped if people are prevented from buying cheap woollen goods. We, as a Parliament, should do nothing to discourage the use of wool by the public. A great many of our people are now out of employment, and an attempt has been made to reduce the cost of living by moving the Arbitration Court to reduce wages. Surely, then, this is not the time to do anything which will directly result in increasing the cost of living. The legislatures of the country are endeavouring to discover methods by which we may live within our means, yet this Government, in pursuance of its fanatical tariff policy, is actually increasing import duties, which must result in raising the cost of living.

Mr.R. GREEN (Richmond) [8.11].- I also object to the action of the Minister in doubling the duties recommended by the Tariff Board. I ask honorable members to show some reason in considering this matter, and to check the tariff madness which has affected the Government. When this Government goes to the country at the next elections, it will have to answer for its tariff policy on every platform throughout Australia. Some information on this item has been placed in my hands, and the following is an extract from it : -

Compare what the salariedman pays for his wife’s requirements. She wants a Baku hood which is also in demand, and is the genuine article, the Pandan being the imitation. The Baku hood costs landed, 12s. to 24s. each under the old tariff, but under the new tariff will cost 13s. to 25s.6d. each, only an average increase of 7 per cent. for her who can pay, and well afford to, so that they will still be imported for the select, and the Government collects the 7 per cent. increase, and the hat manufacturer goes without. A 7 per cent. increase for the wealthy, and 170 per cent. increase for the poor.

Most of the hats now being worn by children in this country are what are described as pandan hats, upon which the tariff increase is no less than 370 per cent. Instead of their being sold at 4s. 11d. each as formerly, they now cost up to 18s. 6d. each. As I have said before, any Australian industry which requires more than 50 per cent. tariff protection is not fit to live in this country. We should be far better off without it. This alleged Labour Government appears to be determined to force up the cost of living.

Mr PATERSON:
Gippsland

.- It has already been mentioned by one or two honorable members that the duties proposed by the Minister are double those recommended by the Tariff Board. The rates suggested by the board for “wool felt hats, n.e.i., in any stage of manufacture, including wool felt hoods, n.e.i., were 15s. per doz. British preferential, 20s. intermediate, and 25s. general, but the duties specified in the schedule are 30s., 40s., and 50s. per dozen respectively. With respect to fur felt hats, though the board recommended duties of 24s., 30s., and 36s. per dozen respectively, the Government has provided duties of 48s., 60s., and 72s. In addition to that, the ad valorem rates have been increased by 10 per cent., and 15 per cent. above the rates recommended by the board. What is the Minister’s explanation for departing from the board’s recommendations? Sub-item e relates to “ wool felt hoods for girls’ and women’s hats, in conical shape, which have not been proofed, tip-stretched, sandpapered or polished “. . I find that these hoods are really the raw material of a considerable number of establishments, and if these prohibitive duties are imposed, about 35 hat factories and 50 millinery establishments, employing between 3,500 and 4,000 persons, will be heavily penalized. I understand that about three firms, in using these hoods, are able to add certain manufacturing processes, and consequently they have an advantage over other firms who find it necessary to import the hoods in a more advanced stage of manufacture. If the present duties are passed, a large number of hat factories, and millinery establishments will sustain a serious set-back. I should like to know if the Minister has any statement to .make on that point?

Mr GREGORY:
Swan

.- Last night I referred to the blundering incapacity of the framers of the tariff. When speaking on the tariff generally, I expressed the belief that the officers of the Customs Department were not responsible for this schedule. When it was first brought down by the present Government, a duty was imposed on pandan hoods which were obtainable from Java at the cost of 2s. 8d. a dozen. These goods are used in the manufacture of children’s hats. A friend of mine imported £150 worth of these goods from Java, and the duty amounted to about £3,000. I believe that the department realized the absurdity of that impost. The duties provided on “handwoven or hand-plaited hoods, not sewn, of hemp, vegetable fibre, paper, or similar materials “ are, ad valorem, 45 per cent. British preferential, 55 per cent, intermediate, and 60 per cent, general; but, under the original schedule, the general tariff was 60 per cent., and there was also a surcharge of 60 per cent. Such duties are beyond comprehension. One wonders on what basis the Minister framed this schedule. Did he merely decide to double or treble this or that duty ? The honorable member for Gippsland has pointed out that the Government has imposed rates exactly twice those recommended by the Tariff Board.

One asks if it would not be wise to eliminate the expenditure incurred in maintaining the Tariff Board.

Mr C RILEY:
COOK, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP; FLP from 1931

– Is that the view of the Opposition ?

Mr Gullett:

– ;Yes, if the board is to be employed as the present Government uses it.

Mr GREGORY:

– There is, I understand, a strong desire to build up the hat industry in Australia, and I hope that the efforts being made in that direction will be successful. Most of the raw materials required for this industry are obtainable here; but, if excessive duties are imposed on the few raw materials that must be imported, the cost of the article produced will be so increased that the industry will not succeed. I realize that there is little to be gained by prolonging the discussion on this item, but I point out, again, that the brunt of heavy duties, such as those now under consideration, usually falls on the workers, who desire cheap clothing, and will be forced to pay the extra cost that these duties will involve. It is idle to say that the manufacturers will not take advantage of heavy duties.

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– They refuse to give an undertaking not to raise their prices.

Mr GREGORY:

– Even if they gave such an undertaking, they would, no doubt, find some excuse for raising them, as was done in the case of galvanized iron. I am disappointed to find the Government bringing down duties which must ultimately be felt almost wholly by the working classes.

Mr NAIRN:
Perth

.- When the manufacturers appeared before the Tariff Board in 1929, their request with respect to “wool felt hoods, unblocked or partly blocked, in any shape or weight “, was for duties of 20s. per dozen British preferential, 25s. per dozen intermediate, and 30s. per dozen general, or, ad valorem, 35 per cent., 40 per cent., and 45 per cent. It must be assumed that they did not expect to be given higher duties than were asked for; but the present Government, in its patronage of the manufacturers, has granted duties considerably in excess of those requested, and no doubt the manufacturers and the workers will divide the loot to their mutual satisfaction. In Great Britain, wool felt hoods are sold at 15s. per dozen, but the price in Australia is 33s. per dozen. The English hood is of better quality, as is shown by the report of the Tariff Board. The manufacturers pointed’ out that their trade was declining, because they were unable to compete with the overseas article. The public prefers the British article, which has a wider range and a better finish; but, notwithstanding the fact that the local manufacturers are turning out a comparatively inferior article, the price in Australia is 33s., compared with 15s. in Great Britain. It is admitted that, in the manufacture of these goods, the more important outgoings are not for wages, but for materials. I do not see how we can reasonably explain the disparity in the costs of production in the two countries, unless it is that either the manufacturers or their employees are incompetent, or fail to do their best. Such duties as have been imposed discourage efficiency. Australia should hope, before long, to export wool hats to other countries; but while this disparity in cost continues, and the present conditions of employment are encouraged by excessive duties, there is little chance of a profitable export trade being developed. The English price is 15s. per dozen, and the duties bring it up to 60s., while landing charges and extra customs charges make the landed cost in Australia 70s. per dozen. Since similar goods made in Australia are being sold at 33s. per dozen, where is the necessity for such extraordinary protection?

Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:
Warringah

– The Minister might have saved a good deal of discussion if le had taken the trouble to give the committee some information regarding these hoods, and the manner in which the duties operate. I regret that this discussion is being conducted under difficulties, for the Minister is conversing with one honorable member of the committee on the subject in which all of us are more or less interested. In this instance, the Government had the choice of advancing the interests of a few - two or three - Australian industries, or of leaving the position more or less balanced as it was before 1921-28 tariff was altered.

If these prohibitive duties are imposed on felt hoods about 35 hat manufacturers and 50 millinery establishments which employ, in the aggregate, between 3,500 and 4,000 hands will be heavily penalized in purchasing their raw material, merely to benefit two or three small manufacturing industries which are producing the bodies of felt hats.

Mr Keane:

– -From where did the honorable member obtain his figures?

Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:

– The figures were obtained after careful inquiries and they are authoritative.

Owing to the recent alteration in the wording of this sub-item the articles which are regarded in the trade as “ wool felt hoods”, are now debarred from admission under Item 114 e “ hoods “. The article does not become a hood, according to trade usage, until it has been fully felted, tipstretched and shaved or pounced; that is, until all the operations have been performed which ‘are expressly excluded by the words recently added to this item. Therefore, by the recent alteration felt hoods in the state in which they form the raw material of the great majority of hat manufacturers and all millinery establishments become dutiable under Item 114 x which covers capelines, and provides a duty of 45s. per dozen, which is prohibitive.

Mr C RILEY:
COOK, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP; FLP from 1931

– So it should be.

Mr. ARCHDALE PARKHILL.I disagree with the honorable member for Cook (Mr. C. Riley). I cannot see the justice of giving a benefit to two or three comparatively small establishments at the expense of about 85 other manufacturing concerns. It is stated in the report of the Tariff Board that employment is provided for only about 100 persons in the making of felt hoods, and that the maximum capacity of the factories is only about 200 employees. In these circumstances the Government was not justified in making an alteration in the wording of the sub-item. These hoods should not be classed as capelines for they are the raw material of other hat manufacturing firms. The felt hood manufacturers were adequately protected by the duty of 15s. per dozen which operated prior to November, 1929, on felt hats in any stage of manufacture. The matter was re- v ferred to the Tariff Board in 1928, and in December, 1929, the board reported as follows : -

After taking into consideration all the circumstances of this case the Tariff Board recommends that no alteration be made in the duties provided by the Customs Tariff 1921-1928 in respect to wool felt hoods.

The board realized that wool felt hoods were the raw material of a great number of hat’ and millinery factories in Australia. However, the Government has seen fit to ignore the recommendation of the board, and, as the honorable member for Gippslaud (Mr. Paterson) has pointed out, has doubled the duty. But what is worse still, is that it has altered the definition of wool felt hoods and brought them under an item the duty on which is quite prohibitive. In 1929, the duty on wool felt hoods was increased from 15s. to 20s. per dozen British, but in March of this year wool felt hoods were brought within the scope of the definition of capelines and became dutiable at the prohibitive rate of 45s. per dozen.

Mr Martens:

-From what is the honorable member reading?

Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:

– If the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Martens) would stand upon his feet and make a speech instead of muttering to himself in a more or less maudlin fashion he might contribute something to our knowledge on this subject. I regard this as a very serious matter.

I have received the following telegram which also throws light upon the subject : -

Understand item 114 woven or hand plaited hoods will be discussed Thursday. These cannot be made Australia nor can local mills produce anything so suitable for farmers and workers anywhere near price. Hoods are blocked in Australia where wages paid are considerably more than original cost of hoods excepting in highest grades. Suggest leave duty60 per cent. as at present. Any increase means more unemployment Australian straw hat blockers and trimmers.

Mr C RILEY:
COOK, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP; FLP from 1931

– From whom did the honorable member receive that telegram?

Mr. ARCHDALE PARKHILL.From the firm which manufactures a certain brand of hats. These hat manufacturing firms have invested considerable sums of money in Australia and are giving employment, in the aggregate, to several thousands of persons. It is only reasonable, therefore, that they should be allowed to purchase their raw material under equitable conditions. It should not be possible for a capricious Minister, under his definitions power, to bring, these articles under a higher rate of duty than obtained formerly. Seeing that only a very small number of persons are employed by the wool felt hood manufacturers compared with the number employed by the hat manufacturing and millinery firms, I appeal to the Government to review this item. The caucus could not have been aware of all the facts. In any case the general public is not “ caucussed “, and it will exercise a sound judgment on this subject. I shall oppose this item in the interests of the 4,000 persons employed in hat manufacturing.

Mr MORGAN:
Darling Downs

– When I spoke during the general tariff debate I said that this was a panic tariff. The item now under discussion emphasizes the truth of my statement. It is not my intention to repeat the arguments that have been already used in opposition to this item; nor do I intend to ask the Minister why he has departed from the recommendation of the Tariff Board. If I were to ask such a question and the honorable member saw fit to reply to it, his answer would not be satisfactory for no satisfactory reason can be given for such action. I wish to emphasize that if we agree to this item we shall go further towards reducing our standards of quality and our range of selection, in a line in which there should be the fullest possible range of goods. I do not suppose that a wide range of selection is more to be desired in any line so much as in the dress requirements of women. In this direction I do not think the purchasing power of the people should be limited in any way. We are told that this item should rightly come within the prohibitive duties in the schedule. I dissent from that view. Quality, standards, and range of selection should not be forgotten when we are considering proposed duties, particularly those which affect the requirements of women.

Mr Thompson:

– On a point of order. I ask whether honorable members are in order in converting this chamber into a hat emporium?

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Hon R A Crouch:
CORANGAMITE, VICTORIA

– The wearing of hats in the chamber is not irregular. It is a recognized custom.

Mr MORGAN:

– I protest against this item for three main reasons : The duty is prohibitive, and there is no need for it, because the industry already enjoys all the protection, it. needs; it will limit the choice of women when purchasing their requirements, and will restrict the export of one of our principal primary products, because in these hoods wool is the main ingredient. The committee would act wisely if it refused to sanction the duties which the Minister has proposed.

Mr E RILEY:
SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– I hold a hood manufactured locally from Australian wool. No process of manufacture could be simpler than the production of articles of this kind, but because the makers ask for adequate. protection against imports from abroad members of the Opposition protest. The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill) said that only two or three manufacturers would benefit from the duty, but that it would adversely affect thousands of milliners. Whether the hoods are made in Australia, or Germany, or elsewhere, they have to be trimmed and blocked by the milliners before they are sold to the public. Therefore, the statement that the manufacture of hoods in the Commonwealth will put thousands of persons in the millinery trade out of employment is absurd. The best wool produced in the country is bought by the makers of these hoods, and there is keen competition for it. A large factory in my electorate produces the best hats made in this country, but unfortunately they cannot compete: against hats that are dumped by manufacturers abroad. Australia has the best of wool, equipment, and workmen, and surely we should not depend on other countries to produce these articles for us. The hoods are sold to the millinery trade in conical form, so that they may be blocked and trimmed according to the changes of fashion. I advise the committee to approve of this duty which will increase the competition for Australian wool.

Mr STEWART:
Wimmera

.- I appreciate that it is useless to discuss this item, or indeed any other item, because the Minister has made up his mind, and can count on sufficient votes to carry any duty he proposes. This duty, however, illustrates the extreme lengths to which the Ministry will go in pursuance of its fanatical protectionist policy. It shows clearly that the Government is ready to give protection - or a charter to exploit - to any manufacturer who pitches a tale to the Minister, and produces a few samples of his products. The spectacle of so many hoods and hats distributed about this chamber at the present moment impels me to enter a protest. It is true that in the discussion of past tariff schedules there was a limited exhibition of the goods proposed to be protected, but never since I have been in this Parliament has this practice been carried to such extremes as it is to-night. The dignity of the chamber is being lowered, and the floor of the National Parliament is being converted into a cheap-jack show in pursuance of propaganda by interested parties who regard this display as a means of forwarding their own interests. If all who are applying for new duties are to have’ the right to exhibit their wares in this chamber, no logical objection can be offered to extending the same privilege to firms that are opposed to the duties.

Mr Forde:

– Several members asked to be shown pandan, wool felt, and fur hoods, so that they might know the difference between them. That is why certain samples have been produced.

Mr STEWART:

– I recognize that we should know what we are discussing, hut it would be better to set aside a room for the exhibition of samples, or even to show them in, the King’s Hall. This chamber should not be used as a sample room for manufacturers. We should be merely carrying this practice to its logical conclusion if representatives of agricultural constituencies were to drag into the chamber a stump-jump plough, or some other implement of cultivation, or a few sheets of corrugated iron. I have only to add that the item before the committee shows that in the imposition of duties by this Ministry “ the sky is the limit “.

Mr FORDE:
Minister for Trade and Customs · Capricornia · ALP

.- It is most inconvenient for me to explain to honorable members the difference between pandan, wool felt, and fur felt hoods, and it was in response to the request of some honorable members that I produced samples so that they might have firsthand knowledge of the products to which the duties relate. When Mr. Pratten was piloting a previous schedule through this committee, he readily acceded to requests that he should produce samples. On one occasion when the production of cotton tweeds in Australia was being ridiculed by the then honorable member for Angas (Mr. Parsons), Mr. Pratten dramatically produced a pair of cotton trousers which had been locally produced. I have courteously endeavoured to meet the convenience of honorable members, but if some would prefer to go to the Customs Department to see exhibits they may do so. Others, however, may improve their knowledge by applying to the officers in attendance on me in the chamber to be shown samples. The hatmaking industry may be divided into three main groups - (1) felt hats, both wool and fur, and felt hoods ; (2) women and girls’ headwear; and (3) caps and sewn hats, n.e.i. The extent of the hat industry in Australia is shown by the following figures from the production statistics for 1928-29 : -

Number of factories in Australia, 89; number of employees, 3,772; annual salary bill, £604,400; value of land and plant, £948,411.

In 1925 the Tariff Board reported on this industry, and expressed the view that its re-organization would do more than anything else to place it on a firm footing. Following the expression of that opinion a number of factories producing in Victoria amalgamated, in an endeavour to reduce production and marketing costs. Despite that re-organization it was found that the industry was not progressing, and the Tariff Board made a further inquiry, furnishing its report in .1928. The evidence adduced at the second inquiry indicated that the Australian industry was practically at a stand-still, while importations for the year 1927, taking quantities, showed an increase of 233 per cent, over those for 1922-23. Despite that remarkable increase, the Tariff Board was still of the opinion that by proper concentration on the part of the Australian mills on the manufacture of the lines in which the principal trade was held by importers - high-grade fur, felt hoods, and grades of wool felt and hoods worn by women and children - the unsatisfactory position could be remedied.

The hat-making industry in Australia must be regarded as a natural secondary industry, as approximately 90 per cent, of the raw materials used are produced in this country. The felt-hatting section of the industry employs approximately. 930 hands, but a number of these were on part time prior to the introduction of the increased duties. In New South Wales 56 additional hands are being employed, and £22,000 has been expended on new plant. Prices have been reduced by from 6£ to 20 per cent.

Mr White:

– Has the Minister any figures showing how many are employed making women’s felt hoods ?

Mr FORDE:

– The industry employs approximately 930 hands, making felt hats for both men and women. The Australian production in 1928-29 was somewhere around 55 per cent, of the requirements of the home market, so that under effective protection at least 400 more bands could be employed. Prior to the increased duties being imposed, men’s imported felt hats sold at from 7s. 6d. to 10s. higher than the price commanded, by the best quality Australian hat. This indicated a biased and unreasoned preference on the part of a number of Australian users for the imported article. They imagined that they did not look well dressed unless they wore a Stetson, Borsalino, or other imported hat. I believe that it will be admitted now thai the Australian hat manufacturers hav-e s . improved the quality of their product thai to-day the highest-quality Australian hal is equal to the best imported.

The benefit accruing to the wool-grower must not be overlooked. It has been authentically stated that the advent of one of our leading hat-makers in the market for wool has had the effect of considerably increasing the sale price of the particular class of wool required for hatmaking. The demand for the short heavy fleeces suitable for hat-making purposes comes from Italian, American, and Belgian operators, and, as the local hat manufacturers are prepared to bid higher than.are.the overseas buyers, the competition is all in favour of the Australian wool-grower. . In many cases the result has been the payment of higher prices for the short fleeces than for the leading line of the same clip.

No definite figure is available regarding the Australian requirements of head wear covered by the women’s and girls’ section, but at the time of the Tariff Board’s inquiry it was estimated at £3,260,000 per annum, and the proportion manufactured in Australia was pat down at £2,400,000, which represents about 74 per cent. of the total trade. On these figures potential employment existed for ‘600 additional employees, provided the local market could be secured for Australian manufacturers. In evidence before the Tariff Board it was stated that the average wage paid in the industry in Australia is 126 per cent. higher than that paid in England, and the following figures were quoted: -

page 2535

ENGLAND

Average earnings for males - 55s.10d. per week.

Average earnings for females - 27s. 5d. per week.

Average hours equal - 46.7 per week.

Hourly earnings - 9.6d.

page 2535

QUESTION

AUSTRALIA

Average earnings for males - £5 2s. 6d. per week of 44 hours, 2s. 4d. per hour.

Average earnings for females - £2 12s. 6d. a week of 44 hours,1s. 2½d. an hour.

Average hourly rate -1s. 9¼d.

Mr FORDE:
ALP

– I shall deal with that in due course. Samples of felt hats were submitted to the board, and the following table was quoted to indicate that the duties under the 1921-28 tariff were ineffective.

The buying public derived no benefit from the lower price of the imported hats, as the retail price of fashionable lines is fixed in accordance with the willingness of the public to pay. Early in the season both local and imported hats command good prices irrespective of production costs, while late in the season they are sold at the best price obtainable, also irrespective of the cost of production.

An assurance was given to the Tariff Board by the Straw Hat and Millinery Association of New South Wales and Victoria, comprising in all 85 members, that no concerted action would be made to take advantage of any revision in duties by way of increased charges for the locally manufactured hats, and no complaints have been received that local hat manufacturers have taken advantage of the tariff to increase their prices. Indeed, since the duties were imposed the prices of the Australian article have been reduced 20 per cent. on the average.

Practically the whole of Australia’s requirements in boys’ skull caps and sewn hats are manufactured in this country, so that the competition with overseas manufacturers is in respect of men’s and boys’ tweed caps. From 1922-23 to 1928-29 the importation of sewn and blocked caps increased from £22,420 to £31,880,. or by 42 per cent. From evidence that was submitted to it, the Tariff Board formed the opinion that the present annual output of caps and hats covered by this section is £170,000, and that the possible output under effective protection is £230,000. That would mean an increase of 120 in the. number of hands employed, making a total of 500 employees in this section of the trade. Since the imposition of the duties, prices generally have fallen from 10 to 25 per cent. The raw materials for the manufacture of tweed caps are substantially protected, and this of course has its reflex in the cost of the completed cap. Cap tweeds which cost the English manufacturer 3s. a yard are not available in Australia under 6s. 6d. a yard. The increased duties imposed on woollen piece goods in 1925, without compensating duties being placed on caps, almost put this branch of the industry out of existence, and it was only by the additional duties brought down in 1929 that it was saved from closing down.

During the war period, Australia supplied the whole of her requirements in tweed caps, and there is no reason why that should not be the position to-day, as the necessary plant is available. I therefore move -

That the item be amended by adding after sub-item (d) the following: - “ And on and after the 5th June, 1931 -

Caps, n.e.i., per dozen, British, 15s.; intermediate, 16s. ; general, 17s.; and ad val., British, 35 per cent.; intermediate, 40 per cent.; general, 45 per cent.”

The object of the amendment is to overcome difficulties that have been experienced by the department in classifying sewn hats under the tariff. In the past, it has been the practice to classify as a sewn hat only those hats made of cloth. Because of certain amendments that have been made to other sub-items, the weakness in maintaining this classification has been accentuated, and in order to remove it, it is proposed to delete all reference to sewn hats in sub-item d. The sewn hats previously classifiable under this sub-item will now be classifiable under sub-item f. As only £2,000 worth of these articles were admitted under sub-item d during the financial year 1929-30, the amendment will not be of much importance from the point of view of the importers.

No alteration is proposed in the duties on bathing caps, firemen’s helmets, and miners’ hats. The duties on bathing caps are the same as those operating under item 114d of the 1921-28 tariff.

Increased duties were provided first in the schedule tabled on the 21st November, 1929, and further amendments were incorporated in the schedule on the 12th December, 1929. Sub-items e andc were later amended in the resolution of March, 1931. The amendment made to sub-item e has the effect of defining what a wool felt hood is, for tariff classification purposes. The representatives of local industry maintained that hoods processed to the capeline stage, and even beyond it, were entered at the lower rates provided under sub-item e, instead of being entered under sub-item f at 45s. or 60s. per dozen, or 45 per cent. and 60 per cent. The importation of such goods at the lower rates was detrimental to the established industry in the Commonwealth. Moreover, the question as to what was a wool felt hood, and what was a wool felt capeline or hat was a very difficult one to determine from the administrative point of view, so the Government decided to incorporate a definition in’ the tariff which will enable local manufacturers to compete on better terms, and also solve the difficulties of the department.

The rates on woven or hand-plaited hoods have, been increased to the same ad valorem rates operating under subitem f and the by-law provision has been deleted.When the item was first incorporated in the tariff it was intended to admit hoods for use only in the manufacture of men’s hats, and a by-law was issued accordingly. But owing to the practice of certain importers of reconverting men’s hats into women’s hats, the position of the honest local trader who paid the higher duty on the hoods intended for conversion into women’s hats, became intolerable, and the by-law was cancelled in order to place every one on the same footing. This class of hoods is not manufactured in Australia, although hoods made from braids or plaits which are sewn together to form a hood are made here.

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– What is the duty on them?

Mr FORDE:

– The duty on hoods imported from Java and elsewhere is 45 per cent. British and 60 per cent. general tariff. In order to overcome the difficulty which has been experienced in deciding whether a hood has- been hand plaited or hand woven, it is proposed to amend the item to include woven or plaited hoods whether done by hand or by machine. The Tariff Board has recommended the inclusion of a definition which will prevent any of these hoods which are not manufactured in Australia from coming under this item. I therefore propose also to move -

That the item be amended by adding after sub-item (g) the following: - “ And on after the 5th June, 1931 -

Panama and pandan hoods, and hoods similar to panama and pandan hoods, made of hemp, vegetable fibre, paper or similar materials, which have been plaited from the tip of the crown to the base of the brim, and which do not contain any thread, straws or other materials joining the plaits or other materials together; British 45 per cent., intermediate 55 per cent., and general 60 per cent.”

When the Tariff Board inquired into thi3 matter in December 1929, it recommended that the duties be 35 per cent., 40 per cent, and 45 per cent., respectively. It will be seen therefore that the duties set out in the amendment are only slightly in excess of the Tariff Board’s recommendations. The class of hoods covered by this item is not produced in Australia, although hoods made from braids or plaits, which are sewn together to form a hood, are made here. The plaited type of hood is used principally in the warmer parts of Australia, whereas the Australianmade sewn hood is more in demand in the southern districts, principally for women’s wear. The amended proposal now before the committee is designed to exclude from the item any hoods which are being made in Australia. I hope that the proposal, which is substantially in keeping with the recommendations of the Tariff Board, will be agreed to.

Mr GULLETT:
Henty

.- I shall be glad if the Minister will tell us what the duty on sewn hats will be under his proposal. He has taken these articles from sub-item d under which the duty is 15s. per dozen and included them under sub-item v under which the duty is 45s. per dozen. The long statement read by the Minister leaves honorable members more confused than before. Nevertheless, when the bells ring, Government supporters will come along and be in such marvellous agreement that the Minister’s proposal will be adopted. It really seems useless to participate in this debate, in view of the docile majority behind the Minister. Indeed I should not have risen other than to point out how this item discloses the inconsistency of the Minister. I do so at the instance of two well-known manufacturers of hats in Victoria, who have made particular reference to these so-called pandans - a very cheap form of straw hat which is imported at a cost of 3s. or 4s. a dozen, principally from Java. The Minister’s original intention was to place a duty of 60s. a dozen on these pandan hoods, notwithstanding that their landed cost is about 3d. each.

Mr Forde:

– The duty is 60 per cent, ad valorem.

Mr GULLETT:

– That may be so now but originally it was 60s. a dozen. At the instance of certain wearers of hats, the Minister has removed the duty of 60s. a dozen which he had tabled, and imposed an ad valorem duty of 60 per cent. It is, indeed, strange to find the Minister paying any heed at all to the claims of the wearers of goods. -The alteration means that instead of each hat having to pay a duty of 5s., the duty will be only about 2d. I have been asked to place before the committee the views of two Victorian manufacturers of hats. First I shall read on behalf of the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell), to whom it is addressed, a letter from a manufacturer in Prahran -

With reference to duty on goods that can be made in our factory, we have installed larger plant to cope with the increased business, which would have come to us had not the duty on hoods or bodies of hats been reduced from 60s. per dozen to 60 per cent.

It will be seen that the action of the Minister induced this firm to install additional machinery. The letter continues -

These hoods or bodies ave imported from Eastern countries for as low as 3s. per dozen, whereas we pay our machinists from 3s. 6d. to 10s. Od. per dozen to machine.

Thousands of dozens of these hoods or bodies are being imported by the wholesale warehouses, and if allowed to come into this country, it will mean that hundreds of girls will be out of employment.

I would like to point out that hoods or bodies made by European labour are dutiable at 60s. per dozen, whereas hoods or bodies made by Asiatic labour are dutiable at 60 per cent.

Last year we, in our factory, were able to give employment to 50 girls, but now the duty has been reduced, we will not be able to employ more than ten or twelve.

Another firm of hat manufacturers, writing to me from Richmond, Victoria, states -

The effect of this amendment may be summarized as follows :- That preference lias been given to Asiatic labour, and whereas Australian . labour would perform the following processes with a sewn hat, i.e., sewing, blocking, trimming, all that will be necessary now will be blocking and trimming hoods.

Asiatic hoods can be bought as low as 3s. . per dozen f.o.b., and will be imported in tens of thousands of dozens. Every hood means one less hat to sew, consequently hundreds of girls (machinists) will bc thrown out of employment through> this unfair competition.

Hundreds of pounds will bo paid to Asiatic’s instead of being paid to Australian workers, as girls receive on the average 6s. per dozen for sewing hats.

I do not pretend to be acquainted with all the merits ofthis case ; I merely point out that in this instancetheMinisterhas disregarded the Australian workers.

Mr Forde:

– The matter was carefully considered by a departmental officer- for three months.

Mr GULLETT:

– We are a little tired of hearing of this departmental officer.

Mr Forde:

– If a duty of 60 per cent. it not high enough to please the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett), he should move that it be higher.

Mr GULLETT:

– I shall say no more, but shall leave this hopeless muddle in the hands of the muddled Minister.

Mr COLEMAN:
Reid

.- I am pleased to be able to associate myself, for once, with the honorable member for Henty in his protest against the action of the Minister in removing the duties on this item.

Mr Gullett:

– I have not protested.

Mr COLEMAN:

– In my opinion, it was a mistake on the part of the Minister to amend the item.

Mr Forde:

– I did not amend it; it was amended by Cabinet after a most careful investigation, both in Sydney and Melbourne. Moreover, a majority of the trade desires the alteration.

Mr COLEMAN:

– My objection to the Minister’s action is based on my belief that we should encourage, as far as possible, the utilization of Australian wool and fur felts. The use of these pandan hats is calculated to displace Australianmade hats, and to that extent it affects the utilization of Australian raw products. I hope that the Government will consider the re-imposition of these duties.

Mr Forde:

– At 60s. a dozen?

Mr COLEMAN:

– Yes, in order to encourage the utilization of our wool and fur felts in the manufacture of hats. If the principle of allowing cheap Eastern products to displace Australian raw materials is carried to its logical conclusion, it must adversely affect our primary producers. I do not know where the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill) obtained his information that wool and felt hoods for women’s and girls’ hats are not made in Australia. I;’have evidence that at least three firms inSydney manufacture these hoods. One of them is the well-knewn firm of R. C. Henderson Limited, and another the Dunkerley Hat Mills Limited, which makes the Akubra hat.

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– My reference was to straw hats.

Mr COLEMAN:

– Then I misunderstood the honorable member, as did also other honorable members. Whatever criticism may be directed against these duties, they are consistent with the Government’s policy of prohibiting the importation of goods which can be manufactured in Australia. The effect of that policy is reflected in the very big decline which has taken place in the importation of these hoods. The value of the hats, hoods, &c, imported during 1928-29 was about £1,000,000, as compared with £863,000 in the following year. We should consider this item from the stand-point of the utilization of Australian raw materials.

Mr BERNARD CORSER:
Wide Bay

– The Minister this afternoon referred to the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) as having a brief. I do not know what one might term the document from which the Minister read, but if he could be brief in his remarks it certainly would be of benefit to’ the committee.

Mr Forde:

– Any notes that I quoted from were not prepared by either the manufacturers or the importers.

Mr BERNARD CORSER:

– I am glad to have that assurance, because I imagined that the statements read by the Minister were prepared by the Sydney manufacturers. I do not wish to be misunderstood. I am out to protect Australian industry, and particularly to give an opportunity to the workers of Australia to produce commodities similar to those which we are now discussing; but there is a limit to which one may go, even one who is termed a protectionist. In this item we have illustrations of the Tariff Board having recommended duties 100 per cent. lower than those now proposed. Many primary producers have made requests for increased protection. Last week I placed before the Minister a request on behalf of the ginger-growers, but because the

Tariff Board -wouldnot make a favorable recommendation, the request “was refused. In this instance the Sydney manufacturers are receiving an enormous protection, considerably more than they expected, and considerably more than they deserve. These increased tariffs on textiles and attire will operate to the detriment of the Australian consumers. I am proud of the label, “ Made in Australia “ ; but it is obvious that this tariff schedule might well be labelled “ Made in Sydney.” It was forced upon the Cabinet by the Treasurer on behalf of the Sydney Chamber of Manufactures.

Mr.Forde. - The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) has stated that this schedule was forced upon the Government by the Sydney Chamber of Manufactures. That statement is not only untrue, but also offensive to me, because that institution had nothing to do with the framing of the tariff.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Hon R A Crouch:

– The question of the accuracy of the statement has nothing to do with the Chair, nor do I consider that the remark to which the Minister takes exception is offensive.

Mr.Forde. - It is absolutely untrue.

Mr BERNARD CORSER:

– I did not say that the Sydney manufacturers forced the tariff schedule upon the Government. I said that the Treasurer forced it upon the Cabinet.

Mr Forde:

– That is not true.

Mr BERNARD CORSER:

– This is the Theodore tariff. The tariff item with which we are now dealing has been framed in the interests of the Sydney manufacturers, whereas it should have been framed in the interests of Australian industries and of the Australian consumers. Let me quote from a pamphlet written by Mr. E. G. Theodore, Director of the Labour Campaign, Trades Hall, Sydney-

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN The honorable member must confine his remarks to hats.

Mr BERNARD CORSER:

– This pamphlet relates to the item under discussion.

Mr.Forde. - It does not.

Mr BERNARD CORSER:

– Inthis pamphlet the Treasurer refers to ‘the reduction of taxation claimed to have been made by the Bruce-Page Government, as taxation quackery. It reads - “We have reduced taxation,” says Dr. Page, “ and lightened the burden of the taxpayers.” This is an impudent and fraudulent claim. It is stark mendacity. The family man pays his taxes through the Customs Department on the clothes he buys, the food and tobacco lie consumes, and the article which he uses every day in his household. On these commodities the taxes have increased enormously. Every family man pays on an average £25 per year in customs and excise taxes. . . . In this way Dr. Page reduced the rich men’s taxes by £7,000,000 a year, buthe increased customs taxation by £15,000,000 a year.

The Treasurer is correct that the poor man is called upon to pay increased customs taxation, and that is particularly so in this instance. We should give the fullest protection to encourage the development of our industries and the use of Australian raw materials.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The honorable member is entering into a general discussion of the tariff. I accepted his assurances that the circular he proposed to read referred to the item. I ask him to confine his remarks to item 144, which relates to hats.

Mr BERNARD CORSER:

– I am endeavouring to answer the arguments which the previous speaker was permitted to use.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.If the honorable member will not confine his remarks to the item under discussion he must resume his seat.

Mr BERNARD CORSER:

– This item is closely interwoven with woollen goods. The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Coleman) referred to the use of Australian wool, and I am following his example, as wool for hoods is provided

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.I ask the honorable member to resume hisseat {: #subdebate-29-0-s5 .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE:
Balaclava .- I regret that all the sub-items in item 114 are being taken together. *[Quorum formed.']* The Minister has practically confessed that it was unwise to place all these sub-items in one item because he has now suggested a couple of amendments which, incidentally, I support. I agree that Australia makes men's hats of good quality. I have always bought Australian hats, but the position is different with respect to women's felt hats. They are a fashion line. There is little of the fashion line in men's hats. Sub-items e and f deal with wool felt hoods. The Government has evaded the recommendation of the Tariff Board by altering the wording of the item so as to put into operation a virtual prohibition. This has had a serious effect upon manufacturers who are also importers. I have previously read to honorable members a letter from a company in Melbourne which employed 150 hands. On the assurance of the department that a certain hood was included in this item, the company ordered goods from abroad, but when they arrived, the company, to its surprise and consternation, found that the duty had been raised. I also quoted a letter from the Comptroller-General of Customs to this and other firms to the effect that the duty on the hood in question would continue to apply. Yet the duty has been altered. {: .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr Forde: -- The letter from the Comptroller-General of Customs truly interpreted the item as it then stood, but it was subsequently altered. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE: -- Why was it altered, and on whose representation? The Minister says that there are many hundreds of men employed in the hatmaking industry, but he cannot say how many men are making this type of hood. He misrepresented the position to the millinery manufacturers of Melbourne and Sydney, who are also importers, and in. consequence they were misled into placing the whole of their season's orders overseas. {: .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr Forde: -- The honorable member is talking utter nonsense. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE: -- I shall read from the letter of the firm in question to show that I am not talking nonsense. We know how versatile the Minister pretends to be. He imposes this and that duty. Yet because some mill in Sydney, which he will not specify, and about which he can tell us precious little, claims that it can make a hood something like a Turkish fez, as displayed on the table, he gives it a protection amounting to virtual prohibition, and accepts its word that the hood it is manufacturing is the' type of article required by the Australian public. {: .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr Forde: -- Smith and Company, the firm to which the honorable member is referring, assured me that the Australian hood was as good as the imported hood. But it had certain lines on the water and because I did not grant its request, it now has a grievance. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE: -- In a letter written to the Comptroller-General of Customs on the 29th of July, 1930, this firm says- >We would point out that the hoods, as submitted, are basically our raw material, and no hood in a reduced stage of manufacture would be satisfactory to us for manufacturing purposes. The locally-made hood was at that time in a reduced stage of manufacture. In another letter, dated 11th of May, 1931, this company, referring to this item, said - >This is in direct contravention to a written assurance given by the Comptroller-General of Customs on 21st August, 1930, when it was definitely ruled that the duty of 20s. British would continue to apply. What kind of tariff making is it under which some Sydney manufacturer - it must be a Sydney manufacturer; I have not heard of any Melbourne firm which manufactures this line-- {: .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr Forde: -- They are manufactured by the Denton hat mills. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE: -- I admit that that firm makes men's hats of high quality. {: .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr Forde: -- There are several of these manufacturers. One is the Akubra hat mills in Sydney. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE: -- These people placed their orders in good faith, on the assurance given by the Comptroller. The goods will have to be sent back, because they cannot pay the duty. Many operatives will lose their work, and the firm will suffer a financial loss. It employs 150 men and women.. There are in the millinery trade from seven to eight times as many employees as there are in the factories that the Minister has in mind which make this type of hood. By this change, the attempt is being made to standardize a fashion; that cannot be done. Fashions are fixed on the Continent and in England. We cannot follow the example of Soviet Russia, and compel our women to accept any fashion that we may decide upon. They want what is the latest on the other side of the world. Because certain factories have representativesverseas, and have samples forwarded to them which they use as a pattern, that is no reason for forcing such an article on the purchasing public. By the time the production stage is reached, that line is out of date. The effect of the new interpretation is to shut out novelties. Styles are to be dictated by the Minister, the Labour caucus, the mills, the honorable member for Dalley **(Mr. Theodore)** or whoever decides such matters. The imports come solely from Great Britain, and the British article has always been dearer than the Australian. Therefore, there was. no necessity to make any alteration. In addition, the price of wool has dropped. These mills in Great Britain buy over one and a half million pounds of our wool, and return only one quarter of that quantity in theshape of made-up hoods. I suggest that the wording of the sub-item should be- >Wooland fur felt' hoods andcapelines for girls' and- women's hats, proofed or unproofed, in conical shape, which have been tipstretched, sandpapered or polished. . The Government would get the same duty as that for which it is now asking, but the new wording would provide for a fairer interpretation of what constitutes a hood. Honorable members on both aides of the chamber can with every reason support my proposal. It would assist industry in Australia, it is just and equitable, it is in accordance with 'the Tariff Board's reports, and it wouldnot re-act on any mills' that' may have put up some proposition to the Minister. I agree that the Minister's other amendment on straw hoods is fair and reasonable. In regard to . the hoods that come under sub- itemg, a Melbourne importing house, from whose letter I quote, states - , As you can very well understand, it requires an expert who has technical knowledge to thoroughly appreciate what is a hand-woven and what is a machine woven hood, and why the two should be differentiated in any way for , classification . is beyond the reasoning of any of our manufacturer's: moreover, it leads to unnecessary, argument by the customs authorities, which is really superfluous. The firm also points out that certain manufacturers are attempting to have the duty, restored to the rates operating, at June, 1930, simply for their -;.;own selfish- . ends, so' as -, to stop' - . completely the importation of cheap hoods and compel the public to buy only locally-made hats.. It..further contends that, there, should be no stipulation in regard to hats being hand-woven, because the local factories do not and cannot' weave straw and fibre hoods either- by machine or- hand. The Minister is supporting the importers' point of view on this particular sub-item, and I believe that he is adopting the right attitude. I want him to act similarly- in regard to sub-items e and f which I have thoroughly investigated and upon which merchants have interviewed him, pointing out the injustice that is caused by the alteration in the classification. When his department makes a decision, he is in honour bound to support it. To conform to the alteration -that I have suggested to sub-item e, subitem f should be worded as follows : - "Felt hats for women and girls, berets, women's and girls' caps, other than bathing, of any material; hats and bonnets n.e.i." The Minister should agree to these- two amendments in addition to those that he has put forward. {: #subdebate-29-0-s6 .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr MAXWELL:
Fawkner .- I am obliged to the honorable member for Henty **(Mr. Gullett)** for having read a letter that I received from one- of my constituents only this morning. I have not had the, time to look into the matter that it raises ; but as I understand the position from- his point of view, it is that about eighteen months ago the duty on these cheap straw hoods that are imported at 3s. a dozen was fixed at 60s. a dozen. Induced by that high duty, this maufacturer extended his plant and increased the number of his employees. He is now, so the letter states, employing 50 girls. ' Then the Minister came along and changed the duty from 60s. a dozen to 60 per cent., which meant a reduction from 5s. to something like l¾d. on each hat. This manufacturer says that; as a result he will be obliged to reduce the number of his hands from 50 to 10 or 12. This is just another illustration of the extraordinary methods that are adopted by the Government in connexion with the tariff, and- the injustice that is thereby caused. Had I the opporunity when the Minister imposed a duty of 60s. a dozen on such hoods, -I certainly would have opposed it, on the ground of its absurdity ; but it was imposed, and on the strength of it's imposition manufacturers have invested further capital. Then, -without any warning, the Minister changed- - his mind for some reason or other,and reduced the. duty. Such, methods- will make the carrying on. of industry simply impossible. -I could, not . advocate so, high a duty as. 60s. a dozen on hoods that cost 8s, a dozen; but I certainly sympathize with a manufacturer: who has been induced by this policy of the Government to invest more capitaland to employ a greater number of hands. I do. not know whether the Minister intends to adhere to the alteration, but if he does he will certainly act unjustly. Mr.C. RILEY (Cook) [9.56].-I regret that the sub-items are.not being taken separately, because, there are . a number of matters such as that raised by the honorable member for Fawkner **(Mr. Maxwell)** which warrant, consideration apart from the question of felt hoods. There is a good deal to be said in favour of the contention of the honorable member . for Fawkner. Themanufacturer in his electorate who has been put to some expense in installing addition al. machinery for. the purpose of complying with the policy of the Government in accordance with the previous schedule, which provided for a duty on pandans of 60s. a dozen, deserves sympathy. I feel that some explanation should be, given. by,- . the Minister for the change that, has been made. I, also endorse the views expressed by the honorable member for Reid **(Mr. Coleman),,,** to the effect that the lowering- of these duties will encourage . the importation of a cheap article from the East-, at the expense of our Australian workers and our primary wool. industry. If there are in our community persons, who are . anxious to purchase these pandans to, wear- either while- working in the sugar fields 'or while strutting, round our beaches, I am prepared to support the old rate of . 60s. a dozen. {: .speaker-KFS} ##### Mr Gullett: -- This is a cheap hat for the rural workers. {: #subdebate-29-0-s7 .speaker-KYX} ##### Mr C RILEY:
COOK, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP; FLP from 1931 -- The men who are engaged in the sugar industry enjoy Australian conditions, and there is no reason why they should be allowed to support the.- importation of a cheap article at the expense, of an Australian industry. The same argument would apply to cheap cotton tweed. {: .speaker-KFS} ##### Mr Gullett: -- There: is no. light weight straw hat like . this made in Australia. {: .speaker-KYX} ##### Mr C RILEY:
COOK, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP; FLP from 1931 -- The Australians who wear these cheap pandans use headgear that displaces good Australian felt hats. 1 would compel them to wear an Australian fur felt hat, and if they persisted in; their desire to purchase the other article, I would see that they contributed to. the customs revenue. {: .speaker-KFS} ##### Mr Gullett: -- What about those who are employed on . wheat farms, and who get nothing out of the tariff? {: .speaker-KYX} ##### Mr C RILEY:
COOK, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP; FLP from 1931 -- They are enjoying Australian- conditions, and receive protection. If the honorable member's argument is right in -this case, it should, be carried to its logical conclusion. Then, cheap cotton tweeds from overseas would be. allowed to come into Australia. I have no time for those who, while enjoying Australian wages and conditions, demand these cheap pandans because they happen to be engaged in the sugar-fields. {: .speaker-KYZ} ##### Mr Riordan: -- They do not' ask for them. {: .speaker-KYX} ##### Mr C RILEY:
COOK, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP; FLP from 1931 -- The trouble is. that when the duty of 60s. a dozen was imposed, some unscrupulous importers imported cheap pandans at the lower rate of duty, pretending that they were for men's wear; and immediately they were passed through the customs they were re-blocked, dyed, and sold asladies.' and girls' -hats to the detriment, of the Australian millinery trade. - It. would have, been better if the Customs Department had been able to police - 'these duties, so as to prevent unscrupulous importers, for whom the honorable . member for Henty **(Mr. Gullett)** and the honorable member for Warringah **(Mr. Parkhill)** are such prominent advocates, from thwarting the Government in the furtherance of its fiscal policy. The honorable member for Wimmera **(Mr. Stewart)** deprecated the action of' the Minister in displaying in the chamber, a number of models of these, felt hoods and capelines. I was responsible for bringing five or six samples into this chamber, for the purpose of informing honorable members concerning certain details of manufacture, and I do not feel it necessary to apologize for having done so. If goods, which are subject to the duties imposed under; this item, were not displayed,, honorable- memberswould not know the difference! between, a: hood and a capeline. I support the duty on felt hoods, and I am surprised that members of the Country party are not in agreement with the Government on this item. The finest Australian wool or rabbit fur will be required for the manufacture of these goods, and 90 per cent. of the operatives in the industry are skilled workmen. Mr.Paterson. - We object to the action of the Minister in exceeding the recommendation of the Tariff Board. {: .speaker-KYX} ##### Mr C RILEY:
COOK, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP; FLP from 1931 -- I am not concerned with the Tariff Board's recommendations, but I am concerned with the establishment and extension of Australian industries for the purpose of providing a wider market for Australian raw materials. For this reason we have every right to expect 100 per cent. support from members of the Country party. The honorable member for Wide Bay **(Mr. Corser)** is disgruntled because the Minister refused to give protection for . the ginger industry of Queensland, as if that industry could be comparedin any way with the great wool industry of Australia. The amendment is largely the outcome of the action of importers in describing capelines as hoods. I have bore a capeline with, attached to' it, a tag. endorsedby the manufacturer in England describing it as a woollen felt hood. It is not a hood. Customs officials and those engaged in the manufacturing trade describe it as a capeline. To avoid the tariff . on capelines which are dutiable under sub-item f at 45s. per dozen British, 50s. intermediate, and 60s. general, it' is invoiced as a hood, which is dutiableat 20s. per dozen British, 25s. intermediate, and 30s. general. A hood is conical in shape, and is in natural colour. It is merely formed, hardened, and settled to size. A capeline is dyed, bumped, twisted, proofed, tipped, brimmed, blocked, steamed, pounced, pressed, polished, and veloured. It passes through no fewer than fifteen processes as against three processes required for the manufacture of a hood. Ihave 'an invoice from a well-known Melbourne importing firm which sold this so-called hood to a Melbourne customer as a capeline at 7s.11d. per dozen. This shows to what extent importers will go to defeat the- protectionist policy of . the Government., Honorable members opposite protest that these duties are -excessive. They arenot nearly so high as duties on similar goods in the customs tariff of the United States of America. -Some months ago, an'.- American hat manufacturer visited Australia- with a- number of other American tourists, and while here was privileged to inspect a number of Australian hat mills. He was much impressed by their wonderful organization and efficiency, and took away with him a dozen Australian hoods, for the purpose, of having them finished in his factory and compared with the finished product of United States manufacture. Upon his return to -America, he discovered that the import duty on the hoods was prohibitive, so he 'returned them' to the manufacturers, the UnitedFelt Hats Proprietary Limited,Nicholson-street Abbotsford, Victoria, with the following letter: - >The dozen hoods received. We are very sorry to state we must return same. The dutyon this dozen hoods is 18.40 dollars which makes the. price prohibitive. Wesell pur hoods for the same . price that they would cost us. We are very sorry toinconvenience you. We are returning the invoice herewith. The hoods in question,cost the American manufacturer 34s. per dozen, and the American duty on them was £3 8s. 4d ., whereas theduty Under sub-item . e is only 20s. British.. I believe that these duties will widen the field of employment for the workers, engaged in Australian factories, and I intend to support them. I hope thatthe committee will agree to this item and not allow itself to be. influenced by the arguments of the representatives of importers. {: #subdebate-29-0-s8 .speaker-KFS} ##### Mr GULLETT:
Henty ,- The amendment, of the Minister in respect of sewn hats seems, at first glance, to be very innocent and unimportant. Sewn .hats appear in the schedule: under item 114d, and the duties are - n.e.i., per dozen, British, 15s. ; intermediate, 16s.; general, 17s., and ad val., 35 per. cent. The Minister has now proposed that they shall be included in sub-itemf and so be subjected to a duty of 45s.. per dozen, an increase of something like 300 per cent. on the 'original duty. But : that' is' characteristic of his tariff-making ways. I emphatically protest 'against the adoption of such methods. Mr.RIORDAN(Kennedy)[10.12].I support the proposal . of the Government {: .speaker-JVZ} ##### Mr M CAMERON:
BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · LP; NAT from 1925; UAP from 1931 -- Why stonewall the item? {: #subdebate-29-0-s9 .speaker-KYZ} ##### Mr RIORDAN: -- I am not stonewalling. I intend to express my opinion even though, it may he distasteful to honorable members opposite. In 1928-29 we imported felt hoods to the value of about £1,000,000 ; but in 1929-30, in consequence of the additional duty imposed by the .Government, our importations fell to £6S3,000. A considerable quantity of indent goods was imported that year, so that the falling-off in 1930-31 will no doubt be considerably greater than it was in 1929-30. One of the troubles which faced this Government upon assuming office was our adverse trade balance. We can assist to maintain a satisfactory trade balance by manufacturing felt hoods in Australia. We have far too many people unemployed, and we should be doing our utmost to provide work for them. The firm mentioned in the letter read by the honorable member for Balaclava **(Mr. White)** will be using Australian hoods next year. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- If it can get them. {: .speaker-KYZ} ##### Mr RIORDAN: -- It will be able to get them all right. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- But not in the styles required. {: .speaker-KYZ} ##### Mr RIORDAN: -- We have the men and machinery in Australia, to manufacture any style of hood that can be made in any other country. {: .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr Archdale Parkhill: -- That is so much hot air. {: .speaker-KYZ} ##### Mr RIORDAN: -- It is not hot air; it is common-sense. . Our wool felt hood manufacturers are able to provide all our requirements in that direction. Australian manufactures should be, and are, good enough for Australian workmen. To-day many of our people are trudging through the country carrying their swags. It is a common thing for them to be smothered in the dust thrown up from the ' wheels ' of motor cars manufactured in America. In many cases the passengers in those cars are wearing hats made in Italy or some other foreign countries. In these circumstances it is useless for the honorable member -for Henty **(Mr. Gullett)** and the honorable member for Warringah **(Mr. Parkhill)** to advocate the claims of the Flinderslane importers., , . {: .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:
WARRINGAH, NEW SOUTH WALES · NAT; UAP from 1931 -- Parkhill. - There is probably as much to be said for. those persons as for the gang the honorable member represents. {: .speaker-KYZ} ##### Mr RIORDAN: -- I would rather represent the people who sent me here than men like Rudd, the disqualified bookmaker whose case for re-admittance to racing clubs you urged upon Joynton Smith, and some of the people interested in those clubs, and of whom the honorable member for Warringah knows a good deal. {: .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr Archdale Parkhill: -- The honorable member for Kennedy has attempted to associate my name, in a blundering fashion, with racing transactions of which I know nothing whatever. His statement is offensive to me, and I ask that it be' withdrawn. {: .speaker-KYZ} ##### Mr RIORDAN: -- I withdraw the statement; but the honorable member for Warringah must not think' that he has a monopoly of right to hurl insults across the chamber. When he is given a Roland for his Oliver -he does not like it. There are far too many unemployed people in.Australia.tb-day. The Government should bend all its energies to the problem of finding work for those who need it. Work can be provided by building a high tariff wall for the purpose of establishing new industries and giving . . employment in this country, and I, therefore, support that policy. We have a higher standard of living than most other countries, and the Australian worker is willing to pay an Australian .'price for his requirements. The. wool felt hood industry is in its initial stages in Australia and it should be encouraged. Some honorable members opposite prate about a "White Australia' ", but support a policy which favours industries conducted in blacklabour countries. A good deal of the merchandise admitted into Australia to-day under the British preferential tariff comes from India, is stamped "Made in England," yet is sold here as British goods. I cannot understand the plea of honor ti hie members opposite on behalf of the Australian workers when they do not embrace this opportunity to assist in providing a means by which many of those who have been workless for such a long time can be provided with remunerative and. useful .employment. {: #subdebate-29-0-s10 .speaker-K6Q} ##### Mr BERNARD CORSER:
Wide Bay -- I desire to further explain my position with respect to the vote I propose to give on this sub-item. I wish to make it quite clear that I am always prepared to support the imposition of reasonable duties, and in this instance to assist the Australian manufacturers of wool and felt hoods to carry on their operations under fair and reasonable conditions. But the exorbitant and unecessary increase in the duties under consideration,* places an undue burden upon the users of these commodities and, therefore, is an unfair tax upon the people. I have always supported the protection, of Australian manufacturers, but I contend that many of the articles in this schedule do not require, and the manufacturers other than the members of the Sydney Chamber of Manufactures have not sought the unnecessarily high duties imposed. It should not be said that, because I am opposed to the imposition of unnecessarily high duties, I am opposed to the protection of Australian-made goods. I believe that in this instance there is almost a unanimous feeling amongst honorable members that the duties are too high, and that the rates should be reduced even if they are fixed at rates higher than those imposed under the old tariff. Prior to the introduction of the 192S tariff the articles included in this subitem were imported as the duties then in operation were insufficient to afford the necessary protection ; but as duties now in operation are more than sufficient, an unnecessary burden is being placed upon the people. The honorable member for Cook **(Mr. C. Riley)** stated that America produces hoods in large quantities, and that it was the aim of this Government, by the imposition of high duties, to place this country in. a similarly prosperous industrial position to America. The honorable member for Cook should realize that the country which he says we should emulate has a deficit this year of £200,000,000, and will possibly be faced next year with a deficit of £400,000,000. Does the honorable member think that by the production in Australia of these and similar commodities employment will be found for our own people, and by that means we shall bring about budgetary equilibrium, when in America the unem ployment in proportion to the population is even greater than it is in Australia? The honorable member for Cook also charged the members of the Country party with a disinclination to support an industry in which wool is the principal raw material used. In considering the wool industry we have also to study our overseas trade. The Australian market absorbs only a small proportion of the total production of wool, and, unfortunately, this and other secondary industries cannot manufacture for export. {: .speaker-KYX} ##### Mr C RILEY:
COOK, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP; FLP from 1931 -- That is incorrect, as goods manufactured from Australian wool are being exported. {: .speaker-K6Q} ##### Mr BERNARD CORSER: -- The products of our secondary industries cannot be profitably exported, and, therefore, overseas trade has also to be considered in connexion with the production of wool. The Australian wool producers will always receive the support of honorable members on this side of the chamber. We believe in the .imposition of reasonable duties to protect manufacturers and at the same time the safeguarding of the interests of the producers. Honorable members opposite, in endeavouring to give effect to their fiscal policy, consider the interests of the manufacturers and those whom they employ irrespective of the interests of the producer of the raw material and of the consumers. I sincerely trust that there will be no misunderstanding in consequence of the utterances of the honorable member for Cook **(Mr. C. Riley),** the honorable member for Reid **(Mr. Coleman),** and the honorable member for Kennedy **(Mr. Riordan),** who have suggested that certain honorable members on this side who have spoken against unnecessarily high duties are opposed to the protection of Australian industries. My attitude with respect to this sub-item, is not due, as the honorable member for Cook suggests, to the fact that a certain duty on ginger was not adopted. My objection is that in the case of ginger the Minister said that the higher duty could not be granted because it had not been recommended by the Tariff Board, whereas in this instance the Minister has disregarded the recommendations of the Tariff Board, and Iras granted a duty 100 per cent, higher than that recommended by that body, yet he allows ginger from low-wage China to defeat our growers. In one instance the Minister sought the protection of a recommendation of the board, but in this instance he has ignored its advice. I .shall always support the imposition of reasonable duties in order to assist the development of our primary and secondary industries. **Mr. MAXWELL** (Fawkner) [10.29J. - I should like the. Minister to 'explain why the duty of 60s. a dozen on a particular kind of hood imported at ' 3s. a dozen is being reduced to 60 per cent. Some explanation is due to the manufacturers whose case I cited. {: .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr Forde: -- I explained the reason in a speech I delivered this evening, a copy of which can be obtained by the honorable member for the information of those interested. {: .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr MAXWELL: -- Although I listened carefully to the explanation of the Minister, I am under. the impression that he did not answer the point I raised. I ask the Minister to explain in a word or two why this extraordinary reduction has been made in the duty on these goods. {: #subdebate-29-0-s11 .speaker-KFE} ##### Mr GREGORY:
Swan .--I do not desire that there should be any misunderstanding as to the policy of the party' to which I belong. Some time ago we passed a resolution to the effect that our party would not affiliate with any other party that did not stand for bringing about a reduction in the cost of living, and of production. Actuated by a desireto bring about those things, I have persistently declaimed against the high duties imposed in this tariff schedule. The honorable member for Kennedy **(Mr. Riordan)** spoke of the need for finding work for the unemployed, but he should realize that employment cannot be promoted by raising prices to such an extent that the people cannot buy. What we should do is to increase the real wealth of the community. Australia has had a magnificent opportunity of developing the hat manufacturing industry. In Victoria, from the earliest days, the hat and boot industries *were* highly protected. As a result, big combines of manufacturing firms have been brought about, but even then they have failed to capture and hold the local market against outside competition. Until the war rabbit skins were cheap enough in Australia, but the local hat manufacturers were not able to compete with overseas firms. Then, during the war, a sudden demand set in for rabbit skins, and the United States manufacturers appointed agents in this country to obtain supplies for them. Rabbit trappers were able to earn as much as £10, £15, and £20 a week. The skins were sent to America, and the fur made up into hats which were in turn sent back to this country to fill mail orders, which is the most expensive way in which the trade could have been carried on. Nevertheless, the American manufacturers were able to compete with the local hatmakers. I do not say that there should be absolute freetrade, but if Australian manufacturers had to face a reasonable amount of outside competition, it would make them more efficient, and prices would not be so high. The duties proposed in this item are simply scandalous. Our Australian workmen are as energetic and capable as those of any other country, and the raw material for hatmaking is available in plenty. Why, then, should it be necessary to impose these high duties? If we are not able to compete with other countries on reasonable terms, it is time that we gave up the ghost. {: #subdebate-29-0-s12 .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:
Warringah -- No honorable member on the Government side has advanced any sound reason for imposing these excessively high duties. The honorable member for Cook **(Mr. C. Riley)** uttered some gibes, but it was evident that he knew very little about his subject. The **CHAIRMAN (Mr. McGrath).The** honorable member has already spoken twice on the item, and must now speak to the amendment. {: .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL: -- I object to this amendment, which will have the effect of inordinately increasing the price of rag hats. As was pointed out by the honorable member for Henty **(Mr. Gullett),** the Minister proposes to remove rag hats from the item under which they were subject to a duty of 15s. a dozen, and 35 per cent, ad valorem British preferential tariff; 16s. a dozen and 40 per cent, ad valorem intermediate, and 17s. a dozen and 45 per cent, ad valorem general tariff, and place them under another item where they will have to pay 4!5s. a dozen, and 45 per cent, ad valorem British preferential, rates, 50s. a dozen intermediate, and 60s. a dozen general. In my youth these hats used to be sold very cheaply, and if the local manufacturers were able to carry on under the old rates of duty, surely it is not necessary for such an enormous increase to be made now. There has been much talk about unemployment, but how are the unemployed to obtain any hats at all if prices are increased in this way? Many of the factories are already working only half-time, and this slackness will be accentuated by the new duties.. I object to this amendment, and reserve the right to speak on the other amendments later. Question - That the amendment (Mr. Force's) he agreed to- -put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. McGrath.) AYES: 26 NOES: 20 Majority AYES NOES Question so resolved in the affirmative. Amendment agreed to. {: type="a" start="e"} 0. Wool felt hats for girls' and women's hats, in conical shape which have not been proofed tip-stretched sand-papered or polished, per dozen, British, 20s.; intermediate, 25s.; general, 30s.; or ad val., British, 35 per cent.; intermediate, 40 per cent.; general, 45 per cent.; whichever rate returns the higher duty. {: #subdebate-29-0-s13 .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE:
Balaclava .- I move - >That the item be further amended by adding after sub-item (e) the following: - " And on and after the 5th June, 1931 - {: type="a" start="e"} 0. Wool and fur felt hoods and capelines for girls' and women's hats, proofed or unproofed, in conical shape, which hare been tipstretched, sand-papered, or polished, per dozen, British, 20s. ; intermediate, 25s.; general, 30s.; or ad val., British, 35 per cent.; intermediate, 40 per cent.; general, 45 per cent., whichever rate returns the higher duty." The amendment provides for an altera-tion of the wording of the sub-item, hut the rates are the same as those printed in the schedule. The object of the amendment is to prevent what would virtually amount to prohibition. The Government gave a decision that the previous classification was correct, and, after merchants had placed their orders abroad, a new classification was made. The local article, which is called a hood, is merely a cone, and I am simply asking the committee to accept the Tariff Board's decision and the department's previous definition. {: #subdebate-29-0-s14 .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr FORDE:
Minister for Trade and Customs · Capricornia · ALP .- I cannot accept the amendment. It would mean that all wool and fur felt hats, up to the stage in which they are ready for trimming, would be admitted at the old rates of 20s. and 30s. per dozen, or 35 per cent., and 45 per cent, ad valorem. On making inquiries, I find that Australian manufacturers are in a position to produce conical hoods, and they carry out all the subsequent processes up to the stage at which the hoods are ready for trimming. The amendment would not provide the degree of protection that the Government desires to give. Amendment negatived. (c.) Hand-woven or hand-plaited hoods (not sewn) of hemp vegetable fibre paper or similar materials, ad val., British, 45 per cent.; intermediate, 55 per cent.; general, CO per cent. {: #subdebate-29-0-s15 .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr FORDE:
Minister for Trade and Customs · Capricornia · ALP -- I move - >That the item bo further amended by adding after sub-item (o), the following: - " And on and after the 5th June, 1931 - (g) Panama and pandan hoods and hoods similar to Panama and pandan hoods made of hemp vegetable fibre paper or similar materials which have been plaited from the tip of the crown to the base of the brim and which do not contain any thread straws or other material joining the plaits or other material together, ad val., British, 45 per cent.; intermediate, 55 per cent.; general, 00 per cent." I have already foreshadowed this amendment. The class of hood covered by this sub-item is not produced in Australia. There are, however, hoods made in Australia from braids or plaits which are sewn together to form a hood. The plaited type is principally used by people engaged in outdoor work in the warmer parts of Australia, but the sewn hood manufactured locally is more in demand in the south, particularly for women's wear. The amended proposal now before the committee is designed to exclude definitely from sub-item *o* any hoods of the kind which are being made in Australia. The rates of duty on these hoods were 40s., 50s., and 60s., and in some quarters it was held that they should be excluded altogether ou the ground that they compete with felt hats, but after going into the matter very carefully I found that a felt hat which would compete against a pandan hat cost 17s. 6d. against 4s. lid. I found also that there was a distinct difference in the use of the two types of hat. Thousands of these hats are being made and sold in the warmer portions of Australia where a light straw hat is required, and where a heavy felt is not considered suitable. I referred the matter to the acting chairman of the Tariff Board, and he took evidence on the point. The board recommended that the rates of duty should be 35 per cent., 55 per cent., and 60 per cent. The Government came to the decision that it would not be justified in putting a heavy duty on the straw hats, and that the local manufacturer would be protected by an addition of 10 per cent, to the rates recommended by the Tariff Board. The present proposal is to increase the rates on panama and pandan hoods to 45 per cent., 55 per cent., and 60 per cent, ad valorem, and remove the fixed rates. {: #subdebate-29-0-s16 .speaker-KFA} ##### Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP -- The Minister is not playing the game in saying that a 10 per cent, increase, making the duty 45 per cent., is only a slight addition. The hats covered by this sub-item are made in foreign countries, and the duty likely to operate is 60 per cent. The hoods that are imported are the raw material for the local manufacturers. The whole of the work of bleaching, shaping, filling, and trimming, is done in Australia, the actual original price of the hat being a small item in the ultimate cost to the purchaser. It is absurd to put a duty of 60 per cent, on raw material used by Australian manufacturers. These hats are worn by school children and people living in the warmer portions of Australia. It is absurd to expect these people to wear felt hats. I oppose this new idea of the Minister's that raw materials unobtainable in Australia should be made dutiable at an ad valorem rate of 60 per cent. Amendment agreed to. Question - That item 114, as amended, be agreed to - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. MoGrath.) AYES: 25 NOES: 18 Majority . . 7 AYES NOES Question so resolved in the affirmative. Item, as amended, agreed to. Progress reported. {: .page-start } page 2549 {:#debate-30} ### ADJOURNMENT Manufacture of Crepe de Chine - Price of Explosives. Motion (by **Mr. Brennan)** proposed - >That the House do now adjourn. {: #debate-30-s0 .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr PROWSE:
Forrest .- During the discussion of the textile items in the tariff schedule, the honorable member for Moreton **(Mr. Francis)** stated that no attempt had been made by Australian manufacturers to produce woollen crepe de chines. I have received the following telegram from the Albany woollen mills : - >Thursday's *West Australian* reports Francis stating in Tariff debate no attempt by Australian manufacturers produce wool crepe de chine. This company producing crepe de chine for months past, articles selling freely West Australian Melbourne markets. Francis quotes 10s. 3d. yard British crepes including new duty; our prices delivered Melbourne 0s. 3d. yard. Our output immediately absorbed and difficulty experienced supply demands. For confirmation Wornam Douglas, Melbourne, can substantiate. Shall be obliged you correct erroneous impression arising Francis' speech. I place those facts on record in justice to the Albany Woollen Mills which are a very up-to-date enterprise. . {: #debate-30-s1 .speaker-KYX} ##### Mr C RILEY:
COOK, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP; FLP from 1931 .Honorable members will appreciate the action «f the honorable member for Forrest **(Mr. Prowse)** in calling attention to the particulars contained in the telegram he has read. It illustrates how ill-informed members of the Opposition are in regard to the tariff items to which they offer vigorous and sustained opposition. I hope that this will be a warning to them not to maintain the same ill-informed and ignorant antagonism to the effective protection of Australian industries as they have hitherto during the discussion of the tariff schedule. {: #debate-30-s2 .speaker-KYZ} ##### Mr RIORDAN:
Kennedy .- I bring under the notice of the Minister representing the Prime Minister the difference between the prices charged in Australia and America for explosives. At the present time when metal prices are very low, the high cost of explosives is having a very bad effect on the mining industry. This morning copper is quoted at under £40 a ton. The Minister for Trade and Customs has informed me that no duty is imposed on explosives, and that a large quantity is produced in Australia. The wide divergence between prices in Australia and America is unaccountable to those engaged in mining. Has the Government any control over the production and sale of explosives? The mining industry is one of those that offers the greatest possibilities for the absorption of the unemployed. If equipment were supplied to prospectors, many men could go into the country and eke out a living. One of their chief requirements is explosives. The State Mines Departments and the Commonwealth Government offer to prospectors for gold and precious metals grants of from £1 to £2 a week, but prospecting cannot be done on that amount. If men were equipped with the necessary tools, explosives and food, many would be induced to go prospecting and so relieve the labour market. {: .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr Prowse: -- Do not make too long a speech at this hour. {: .speaker-KYZ} ##### Mr RIORDAN: -- Winter is approaching and I am very concerned for those who are without *h* od and shelter. I intend to do what I can to help them whether the hour bo early or late. It is time that the Government instituted an inquiry to ascertain whether the people are being exploited by the manufacturers and importers of explosives. {: #debate-30-s3 .speaker-KDW} ##### Mr JONES:
Indi .- I endorse the remarks of the honorable member for Kennedy **(Mr. Riordan).** Recently I have received many complaints from miners regarding the high cost of explosives. When the sales tax was being discussed I pleaded that explosives for mining purposes should be excluded. That concession was not granted. A letter from a miner, who is a member of one of the many prospecting parties in my electorate, quotes the price of fracteur there at 3d. per lb., fuse at ' 3s. 9d. a yard and caps at 12s. 6d. a tin. The prices of explosives made available to the Main Roads Board are very much lower than are charged to miners. It is only right that these struggling miners, who are subjected to great hardship in following their vocation, should obtain their explosives at a cost at least as low as that charged the Country Roads Board. The letter to which I have referred emanates from twelve to fourteen prospecting parties. In the locality in which they are operating there is only one battery. It is privately owned, and charges £5 for opening up, and £1 a ton for general crushing. These prospectors appealed to me to see whether the Federal Government could assist them by establishing a battery in that locality. I made representations to the Assistant Minister, both personally and by letter, and was informed tha*, owing to the financial position, the Government was unable to render any assistance in the directions indicated. However, I hope that something will be done by this Government to assist these mining parties especially with regard to the excessive charges made to them for explosives. {: #debate-30-s4 .speaker-KOC} ##### Mr HAWKER:
Wakefield .- Endorsing to some extent the remarks of tho last two speakers, I should like the Minister for Trade and Customs to explain to the House the existing duties on all kinds of explosives. The honorable member for Kennedy **(Mr. Riordan)** said that he understood that no duties were imposed on explosives. Certainly the tariff schedule with which we are dealing contains no amending duties on explosives, but I notice that in the old schedule the duty on explosives is shown as " n.e.i., free British, and 5 per cent. intermediate and foreign ". On detonators, mining fuses, fuse cotton, and certain other accessory explosives, the duties were to be 15 per cent., 20 per cent., and 25 per cent., after the 1st January, 1929. I hope that the Minister will advise honorable members whether those duties operate. If they do, will the honorable gentleman indicate whether the Government will consider removing them, so thai the accessories essential to explosives mav be obtained by prospectors and miners more cheaply than they can bc at present. Question resolved in the affirmative. House adjourned at 11.18 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 4 June 1931, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1931/19310604_reps_12_129/>.