13th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr.Speaker (Hon. G. H. Mackay) tookthe chair at2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr.HUTCHIN. -Has the attention of the Assistant Treasurer been drawn tothe article in to-day’s Canberra Times headed “CustomsBoom “, “ Revenue againover Estimates “, the first paragraph of which rends-
Accordingtofiguresissued by thefederal Treasureryesterday; customsrevenueforthe firstfour months of the financial yearexceeded theestimates by £475,957.
Will the honorable gentleman inform the House whether there is that excess over the estimate ?
-It is a factthat the customs receipts are just under £500,000 in excess of the estimate. I point out, however, that reductions of duties have not yet begun to operate, and as these remissions are expected to total £1,750,000 per annum, or £1,300,000 this year, the progress receipts to date do not indicate that the collections for the full year will exceed the estimate.
– Is the Minis ter for Commerce yet in a position to assure the House that any scheme adopted by the Government for the assistance of the wheat industry will not have the effect of increasing the price of poultry food to poultry farmers?
– I give the assurance that in considering the assistance to be given to wheat-growers due regard will be paid to the interests of every section of the community.
– I have received from an agricultural society in Western Australia a letter which states -
We notice from a report on the 29th ultimo that investigations in connexion with the redlegged earth-mite in this State have been discontinued, the reason given by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research being lack of funds.
Is it correct that it is not intended to continue research work with a view to the destruction of this serious pest?
– I am not able to state the exact position, but I shall obtain the information for the honorable member as soon as possible.
– Does the Government intend to give effect to the recommendation of the Royal Commission on Performing Rights that the Australasian Performing Right Association be compelled to file in prescribed form lists of all musical works in respect of which authority is claimed to issue or grant performing licences, and to collect fees?
– I understand that this matter is being considered by the Attorney-General who, at the moment, is absent from Canberra.
– Is it a fact, as reported in the London Economist of the 9th September last that the signatories to the International Wheat Agreement agreed to abstain from the granting of a subsidy or a bounty on the production of wheat?
– No such undertaking was given; but the importing nations which are signatories to the agreement agreed to take no steps to stimulate further the production of wheat in their countries.
– Will the Treasurer say whether it is a fact, as is stated in to-day’s local press, that treasury-bills to an amount of approximately £100,000,000 have been issued, and still await liquidation or funding?
– Treasury-bills have been issued, but what the exact amount of them is, I cannot say. Of necessity, they await renewal, redemption or funding at the due dates.
– In view of the fact that the distinguished airman, Mr. C. T. Ulm, landed at Derby, and AirCommodore Sir Charles Kingsford Smith at Wyndham, on their recent flights from England to Australia, will the Government consider the claims of these two air ports in conjunction with other landing places, when accepting a tender for the overseas air-mail service?
– I shall bring the honorable member’s request to the notice of the Minister for Defence.
– Is the Assistant Treasurer in a position to inform the House of the price and the average yield of typical Australian stocks in Loudon on the 1st instant, and on the 1st’ November, 1931?
– The honorable member was good enough to inform me that he intended to ask this question. The price of Commonwealth 5 per cent. 1945-75 stock in London was £76 early in November, 1931, and, according to the latest advices, is now £108 l1s. 3d. The yield at the earliest date of maturity was £7 18s. 2d. two years ago, and is now £4 1s. 8d. The Commonwealth 4 per cent. stock is now regarded as the indicator stock in London. Its yield at the earliest date of maturity is £3 12s. l1d.
Motion (by Mr. Perkins) agreed to -
That the following paper, laid on the table of the House on the 12th October last, be printed: -
Railways Act. - Report on Commonwealth railways operations for year ended 30th June, 1 933.
Mr. WHITE laid on the table the report and recommendation of the Tariff Board on the following subject : -
Ordered to be printed.
The following papers were presented : -
Customs Act and Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1933, No. 119.
Nauru - Ordinances of 1933 -
No. 4 - Appropriation (Supplemental) (Half-year ended 31st December, 1929).
No. 5 - Nauru Royalty Trust Fund Appropriation (Supplemental) (Halfyear ended 31st December, 1929).
Navigation Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1933, No. 115.
– In view of the serious statements I made in the House yesterday, and which I am prepared to support with evidence, I ask the Minister for the Interior if the Government is prepared to appoint a committee of inquiry, such as I asked for?
– I have nothing further to add to what I said yesterday in; reply to the honorable member. The correspondence on the subject reached me only on Monday. The Government received an advance report by air mail, but has not yet had time to peruse the evidence.
– I ask the Prime Minister if the Government can arrange for the Public Service examination to be conducted in December to be held in such provincial towns as Maryborough and other large centres as well as in the capital cities, in order to save the cost and inconvenience incurred by candidates who would otherwise be compelled to travel to capital cities ?
– I shall consult with the Public Service Board in order to ascertain the effect of such a change upon the existing system.
– Can the reported statements of the Prime Minister to a deputation of wheat-growers yesterday be interpreted to mean that the Government is seriously considering imposing a sales tax on flour? In view of the possibility of such an imposition resulting in an increase in the retail price of bread, will Parliament be given an opportunity to discuss fully the Government’s proposal in regard to assistance to the wheat industry?
– Parliament will have a full opportunity to discuss whatever proposals the Government makes in this regard, and, as I stated to the deputation, an announcement will be made at an early date as to the intention of the Government. The sole object of the wheat-growers is to obtain something approaching an adequate return for their labour and for their product. If they are to get that, it must necessarily mean an increase in the price of wheat, and, consequently, in the price of flour, so that whether by the imposition of a sales tax on flour or by some other method, the price of bread must necessarily be increased.
– In connexion with the proposed expedition to Caledon Bay, will the Government consider whether some indemnity cannot be made to the relatives of the four missionaries who, in trying to persuade the murderers to give themselves up to the authorities, may be murdered themselves ?
– I am sorry that I cannot give an undertaking such as that sought by the honorable member. The missionaries, who are making the expedition voluntarily, have had all the dangers brought under their notice. Although they have been advised’ that the wet season is approaching, and that the natives are in an infuriated state, they intend to proceed. We are not asking them to go ; their action is purely voluntary. Actually, they are not undertaking any greater risk than they would in carrying out missionary work elsewhere. Missionaries frequently venture their lives. These gentlemen, however, believe that their expedition will eventually lead to the civilization of the natives, and that these will be pacified to such an extent that they will no longer he a menace to the white man. That being so, I do not think that the Government should be expected to give an undertaking such as that mentioned by the honorable member.
– Will the Minister for Commerce state what stage has been reached with the negotiations relating to the introduction of Commonwealth legislation to provide for the stabilization of butter marketing? Has the Minister anything further -to add to the statement he made ‘ to the House about ten days ago?
– There has really been no development since I made my last statement on the subject. It is involved with the Government’s general marketing policy, which is to be placed before Cabinet at an early date.
– In considering the conditions to apply to the payment of a Commonwealth award for Australianproduced films, will the Minister for Trade and Customs give special consideration to those picture producers using a locally-built picture recording machine of Australian design ?
– The conditions governing this matter will be announced within a few days. I shall take into consideration the point raised by the honorable member.
Debate resumed from the 31st October (vide page 4072), on motion hy Mr. Ward -
That in view of the printer and publisher of Sun Newspapers Limited having been adjudged guilty of contempt, they now be called to the bar of this House forthwith in order that the House may demand from them an explanation of their conduct, and, if necessary, deal with them as it thinks fit.
– Before this motion is proceeded with, I direct the attention of the House, and of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), in particular, to the wording of the motion originally proposed, by the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser), who complained of a certain article in the Sydney Sunday Sun. On that occasion, the House declared the printer and publisher of that newspaper to be guilty of contempt. The motion of the honorable member for East Sydney refers to the printer and. publisher of Sun Newspapers Limited having been adjudged guilty of contempt. As the motion is not strictly in order, I suggest that the honorable member for East Sydney obtain leave to amend it.
– I ask leave to amend* my motion by omitting the words “Sun Newspapers Limited”, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “‘Sydney Sunday Sun.”
Motion amended accordingly.
– When this matter was first raised, and to some extent considered, it was decided to postpone further consideration in order that opportunity might be afforded to determine what definite action should be taken upon it. At a later stage, I moved that its consideration be held over until to-day to give me an opportunity to confer with the Solicitor-General and his department as to the powers of the Parliament, and generally as to what course it would be wisest to follow. I have had great difficulty in finding sufficient time to consult fully with the Crown Law Department, and the officers of that department are themselves not quite satisfied as to certain aspects of the present law. In addition, the right honorable the Attorney-General (Mr. Latham), the ministerial head of the de’partment, who, in the ordinary course, would have consulted with his department about this matter, is absent through ill health. In these circumstances, I move -
That the order of the day bc postponed until next Wednesday.
By Wednesday I hope that the’ AttorneyGeneral will have had an opportunity to consult with his department, and will be back in bis place in this chamber, in which case he will deal with the matter personally.
– I oppose the further postponement of a decision on this matter. On Friday last, when this matter was under consideration, in compliance with the request of the Postmaster-General (Mr. Parkhill), then Acting Leader of the House, I ‘agreed to the adjournment of the debate, so that a legal opinion might be obtained from the Crown Law Department, to guide the Government as to the exact- procedure to adopt so that punishment .might be inflicted upon the offenders. When the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) asked on Tuesday for the further postponement of the ‘debate, the members of my party agreed, but we stated in the House, and the Prime Minister concurred in our suggestion, that the matter should not be postponed beyond to-day. Therefore, members on this side, at least, expected that there would be no further delay, and that the Government would have come to a decision by to-day. It is remarkable that it is only when dealing with newspapers that express political views opposed to those of the Labour party, legal difficulties seem to arise. If a Labour journal had offended in this way, no legal difficulties would have arisen or even, have been mentioned; the Government would have been prepared to take immediate action against it. I contend ‘that the Government and the Crown Law. Department have had ample time in which to ascertain the exact legal position, and that the Government should now be prepared to say how far it is prepared (to proceed in giving effect to the unanimous resolution of the House that the printer and publisher of the Sydney Sunday Sun are guilty of contempt.
– I can quite understand the attitude of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), and I sympathize with him in the frame of mind in which he finds himself; but, if he would allow me to say so, lie has not yet had the necessary experience of parliamentary administration, to enable him to realize the great difficulty in which the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) is placed through the absence of his colleague, the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Latham). I beg of him, therefore, to- be patient. So far as I understand this matter - and I trust that the honorable member for East Sydney will realize that I am not speaking dogmatically - the Parliament as a whole has certain powers under section 49 of the Constitution, but has not hitherto thought fit to exercise them legislatively. That being so, the common law applies, and, in a parliamentary matter, that means the practice of the Imperial Parliament, which may or may not be applied to our own proceedings, in certain cases. It is by no means clear that the common law of the Imperial Parliament wi’th regard to contempt and to punitive proceedings can be applied to our own proceedings without special statute. At any rate, it is an extremely doubtful point. The Crown Law Department has, no doubt, given certain opinions, but, in the absence of its ministerial head, it naturally hesitates to recommend definite legislation, and in the absence of any such recommendation the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), I take it, is also hesitant to take immediate and definite action. The honorable member’s sense of grievance is justified; but, if he will be patient for a few days, until the Prime Minister has had an opportunity to confer with his, colleague, the AttorneyGeneral, the matter will be taken up by many honorable members at the point which was reached last week when certain assurances were given by the Postmaster-General (Mr. Parkhill). I beg the honorable member, in the name of all those who wish to see definite action taken in this case, to allow the debate to stand over for a few more days, and not to embarrass the Government in the unfortunate absence, through illness, of the Attorney-General, who is unable to give his advice on the subject. If legislation should be necessary, as I believe it will be, obviously’ the Government must have the benefit of the Attorney-General’s opinion, before proceeding further in the matter. I ask the honorable member for East Sydney to regard the situation in this light.
– I support the motion for the postponement of the debate, and I hope thatinthe meantime the newspaper concerned will take the opportunity that will be afforded it to make amends for its insult to this Parliament.
– The honorable member must confine his remarks to the motion before the House.
– The postponement of the motion will give that newspaper an opportunity to consider the damage it, has done to members of this Parliament, and I hope that it will make amends for its misrepresentation.
Mr.R. GREEN (Richmond.) [2.58].- I should like yourruling Mr. Speaker regarding Standing Order 284, which provides -
All questions of order and matters of privilege at any time arising shall, until decided, suspend the consideration and decision of every other question.
As the” House is now dealing with a matter of privilege, the debate on which has already been postponed once, will it be in order further to postpone its consideration. No honorable member, I presume, desires that we should act precipitately, or without full consideration of the various issues involved; but, in any action which we may decide to take, we should act strictly in accordance with the established practice and the Standing Orders.
– The honorable member has quoted the standing order correctly; but I point out that it does not provide that a question of privilege should be finished immediately. A resolution to adjourn the debate is a decision for the time being. I am convinced that the procedure which has been followed in connexion with this motion has been in conformity with the standing order and with the practice of the House of Commons. A motion affecting privilege does not lose its right of privilege by adjournment.
X also mention that the practice of this House, when it is desired that an order of the day shall be postponed, has been for a motion to that effect to be moved before the order is called on. In the circumstances, I suggest that the Prime Minister move that the debate be adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Lyons), proposed -
That the debate be now adjourned.
.- With certain other honorable members
– There can be no discussion on a motion for the adjournment of the debate.
Question put. The House divided. (Ms. Speaker - Hon. G. H. Mackay.)
Majority . . . . 28
Question so resolved in the affirmative. Ordered -
That the resumption of the debate bo made an order of the day for Wednesday, the 8th instant.
In committee: Consideration of Senate’s requests resumed from the 1st November (vide page 4166).
Vehicle parts, viz. - (d). . .
Chassis, but not including . . . bonnets, instrument boards and radiator shells -
Bonnets,instrument boards, each, British, 7s.6d.; general, 10s. (6)Radiator shells—
Plated, each, British, £2; general, £3.
Steering dampers, ad valorem, British, 45 per cent.; general, 65 per cent.
And on and after 12th May, 1933 -
Shock absorbers, each, British, 5s.; general, 12s.6d., or ad valorem, British, 45 per cent.; general, 65 per cent. whichever rate returns the higher duty. Senate’s request -
(4) Leave out comma after “absorbers,” and insert “excepting”; after “studs” insert “and”; leave out “bonnets, instrument boards, and radiator shells “.
Leave out -
Bonnets; instrument boards, each, British, 7s.6d.; general, 10s.
Radiator shells -
Plated, each, British, £2; general, £3.
Other, British, free; general, free.
7) Steering dampers, ad valorem, British, 45 per cent.; general, 65 per cent.
Insert after “ absorbers “ paragraph ( 8) “ but not including steering dampers “.
Upon which Mr. Guy had moved -
That the requested amendment be made with a modification that paragraph (8) of sub-item (c ) be renumbered (5).
– The removal of the dutyon radiator shells would mean the destruction of an industry which has been established in Australia for six or seven years. At South Melbourne, in my electorate, there are two factories for plating radiator shells, and at South Yarra and Carlton, in the electorates of Fawkner and Batman respectively, there areothers. A similar factory exists in every capital city of Australia. Altogether, these f actories give employment to hundreds of adults in plating radiator shells.
– That is an exaggeration; all the employees are not employed solely on radiatorshells.
– I hope to convince the Minister that a further inquiry by the Tariff Board is necessary. The proposal before the committee is one to abolish a duty altogether, not merely to reduce it. Instead of duties of £2 British, and £3 foreign on radiator shells, it is proposed to allow these shells to come in free from all countries. If the Senate’s request is agreed to, 40 or 50 apprentices who have almost completed their apprenticeship to this technical trade will be left without a trade to follow. The practice of the Ford Motor Company, and other companies, of having their electro-plating and chromiumplating done in Australia, has resulted in 90 per cent. of the total number of radiator shells imported into Australia during the last three or four years being plated in local workshops. Repeat orders have been received by the companies engaged in this work and these, together with many congratulatory references as to the polish and finish of the jobs done, afford striking evidence of the outstanding success of the local industry. Price reductions have also been made to the extent of . 50 per cent. in the last three years. I cannot find one logical reason for the Government’s action except that the Ford Motor Company at Geelong has changedits policy. Two or three years ago this company was quite prepared to bring radiator shells in unplated, and have the work done here, but it now desires the work to be done elsewhere. Twoor three other motor companies have followed its lead in this regard. Apparently the Government thinks that that is a sufficient reason for altering the fiscal policy of the country. Two orthree years ago the present Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) was strongly opposed to the importation of luxury lines for motor cars and otherwise from the. United States of America, and he showed quite clearly last night that he was , not really happy about this proposal. If this alteration ismade, the outlook of the apprentices, who have spent five or six years in learning this industry, will be gloomy indeed. The Government is suggesting not a reduction of 4 or 5 per cent. in the duty but the removal of all protection from the industry.
– :Tb.at is not so. A duty of 32£ per cent, against foreign importations will remain.
– The fixed rates of duty are being struck out, and it is those which afforded protection to this industry. Many Australian companies were encouraged to install extra plant, including technical chemical baths and other equipment to do this work. The Walhalla Company, at Carlton, installed extra shafting and additional acid baths for this work, and it and most of the other companies that installed extra plant are still paying for it. If this proposal is approved, one of the. worst acts of . fiscal vandalism and industrial wreckage that this Government has yet attempted will be successful. Employers and employees alike ask that this proposal be subjected to further inquiry by the Tariff Board, and I hope that the Minister will agree to refer the item back to the board.
– I see no reason why this item should not be referred back to the board for further consideration. Because of this projected legislation one firm has already been advised that in future all shells will be plated in Canada. If factories engaged in chromium plating and similar activities lose the business of this kind, which they at present enjoy, additional unemployment must be caused. I do not think that tlie Canadian Parliament would entertain such a proposition as this for a single moment. It has been said that the dismantling and reassembling of radiator shells add to the cost of them, . but it is quite unnecessary for these parts to he assembled in .the coun-try of origin. They can be crated loose and assembled here. The Australian companies engaged in electro and chromium plating are rendering a national service. During the war small plants of this kind operating in France were able to render valuable service in keeping aircraft in commission. Aero-engine worn parts were re-surfaced that . otherwise would have been discarded. The establishment of this industry in Australia has involved the installation of plants costing over £100,000. Worn parts are reconditioned by an electro deposition process’, and1 are” returned to service in a’ condition as good as that of the original parts. Here, where we are dependent upon the importation of aero engines, this service will prove vital $o. the maintenance of our aircraft. We are expending a large amount on defence, and with these plants in operation the surfaces of worn gun sights and gauges can be restored and the equipment, instead of being discarded as formerly, can be placed in service again. This reconditioning of worn parts saves thousands of pounds. The Australian industry is efficient in every respect, -and the quality of its work first class. The cast of operations here is comparable with that of similar operations abroad. In Australia we have the plant, the knowledge 6.f the industry, and the capital, and we can supply the full requirements of any trade requiring the electro depo.sition of metals such as chromium, nickel, copper, &c. I sincerely hope that the item will be referred back to the Tariff Board for further consideration, and that this Australian industry will not be destroyed.
Mr. BEASLEY (West Sydney) [3.17J. - The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway), and the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. Jennings) have made out a strong case for the reconsideration by the Tariff Board of this item. The only reason given in justification of the Government’s altered policy is that a certain motor manufacturing company operating in the Corio division now desires work of this’ kind to be done overseas. Last night Ministers protested against suggestions that the Government was being influenced by the pictureproducing interests of the United States of America; how we are told that the motor manufacturing interests of that country are also influencing it.
– Has the honorable member read the report of the Tariff Board on this item?
– I have not, but I have been influenced by the speeches of honorable members. We- all know that the Tariff Board does not give consideration to all the ‘ramifications of these industries. Other factors have to be considered than those relied on by the Tariff Board. Apparently no’ regard whatever has been paid to the welfare of the employers or employees in this industry. Surely the interests of the Ford manufacturing company should not be our sole concern; yet, apparently, because that company may be able to obtain plated radiator shells overseas for a little less than the shells would cost if plated in Australia, f.ho Government intends to allow it to do 30. It has been argued throughout the tariff debate that these changes are being made in order to give the primary producers some relief in respect of their requirements, but I hardly think that that argument could be stretched to include this item. The withdrawal of these duties will not affect those who are in a position to purchase motor cars, but will adversely affect the chromium-plating industry of Australia and throw many men who are now engaged in it out of employment. The case that has been put on behalf of this industry is surely strong enough to attract the support of most honorable members in order to prevent the Ford Company from exercising its influence on the Government.
– The honorable member for West Sydney has stated that the Ford Company has in some way influenced the opinion of the Government. I take that statement as offensive, not only to me, but also to the Government, and I ask that it be withdrawn.
-. - I do not consider that the statement of the honorable member for West Sydney to the effect that the Government was influenced by a certain company to be offensive. 1 suppose that every government is influenced by many people, and properly so. It is the practice for an honorable member to withdraw a statement to which exception has been taken by another honorable * member on the ground that it is offensive to him, but I. cannot insist upon the withdrawal of a remark which, in my opinion, ought not be regarded as offensive.
– The Ford Company does not come into this matter at all, and I cannot understand the honorable member’s reference unless it has some sinister meaning. If’ it has that meaning, I insist upon its withdrawal.
– My reference was not personal, and was along the lines indicated by the chairman. The Ford Company is interested in this matter, and has a right to make its representations to the Government. All that I am saying is that its representations should not be accepted.
– I desire to associate myself with the request of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway), that this item be postponed. I take a particular interest in this matter, because, as has been mentioned by the honorable member, there is a plating factory in my constituency. Only a few days ago, I discussed the industry with the head of that establishment. I have carefully studied the report of . the Tariff Board, and it seems to me that the reasons given in it for the removal of the specific duties and the substitution of ad valorem duties are not sufficient to warrant the alter ation. I understand that the Minister considers that in some way the specific duties, which were practically prohibitive, infringe the Ottawa agreement, and, if that were so, that would be a fatal objection ; but I have considered carefully sections 10 and 11 of the Ottawa agreement, and have come to the conclusion that the specific duties do not infringe those sections at all. It might be suggested that, by reason of the prohibitive duties, there was not sufficient opportunity given to British exporters for reasonable competition in the Australian market, but when we consider that the cost of, plating radiator shells forms an infinitesimal part of the cost of the imported motor car, that objection vanishes. The evidence given before the board shows that an allowance of from 3s. 6d. to 5s. is made in respect of unplated radiator shells imported from Great Britain, and that coat cannot, have the slightest effect, upon the export trade from Great Britain to Australia. It is n mere fly upon the wheel of the British industry, and does not infringe in the. least upon the opportunity given to the British manufacturer to conduct his motor trade in Australia. I understand also that the plating of radiator shells has, during the depression, really been the backbone of the Australian business, because it has provided the manufacturers with regular work and enabled them to main tain their staffs at a normal standard. I have been assured, that if these specific duties are withdrawn, these manufacturers will be forced to dismiss a number of their employees. Surely at a time Like this when we are not out of the depression, it would be inopportune, to say the least of it, to make such a’ drastic change as that now contemplated by the Minister in respect of this item; and I hope that he will see his way clear to postpone it even for a reasonably short time to enable the Tariff Board to inquire into the matter again. No objection has been raised by the users of these parts to the specific duties, and as they do not increase the price to the purchasers of motor cars, I consider that the work of plating radiator shells should continue to be performed by our own workmen in our own shops.
– There is a good deal of misunderstanding upon this item. I disagree with the statement of the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) that the specific duties do not infringe the Ottawa agreement. Article 12 of that agreement reads -
His Majesty’s Government in the Commonwealth of Australia undertake that no new protective duty shall be imposed and no existing duty shall be increased on United Kingdom goods to an amount in excess of the recommendation of the tariff tribunal.
– Under this item we are not increasing duties nor imposing new. duties.
– We are imposing a new duty against the United States of America, and that fact has not yet been fully appreciated by honorable members. Some honorable members seem to think that the new duties will tend to help the United States of America, but actually, their effect will be otherwise. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) believes that the duties are - free, British, and free, general; but the recommendation of the Tariff Board is - free, British; and 32½ per cent. general. The duty in the bill in the case of unplated radiator shells is free, British, and free, general, which would allow American radiators, when unplated, to be admitted free of duty, and if the American manufacturers cared to japan or lacquer the shells, or subject them to any process other than plating, they were able to evade the duty. We are now imposing against those manufacturers a new duty of 32½ per cent. At the same time, we are removing what was a very heavy duty against importations from Britain amounting on the specific rates to over 500 per cent.
– Has the duty of 500 per cent. against American imports been reduced to 32½ per cent.?
– The duty is now 32½ per cent. on a line for which the bill provided free admission. The effect of the alteration is to place a duty on foreign unplated radiator shells, and to remove the specific duties from plated radiator shells while allowing free admission of the British product. I am aware that the industry of plating is well established in Australia, and I know the firms engaged in it. The firm situated, in the electorate of the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) is most uptodate, and so is that situated in the electorate of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway), but the honorable member exaggerated when he said that the industry would collapse if the duty were varied. These firms are. engaged in other work than plating shells. Such work as plating bumper bars for motor cars, besides hundreds of other items, is also performed.
Honorable members have been inveighing against the Tariff Board’s report, but theboard hadfacilities for obtaining information which honorable members have not. Honorable members should not allow their sympathies to run away with them. They should study the report, and determine for themselves whether it is good or not. I have already said that I am prepared to send this item back to the board for further consideration, but, in the meantime, I ask honorable members to agree to it, and not hold up the whole schedule, most of which has been already passed. There is no danger that the country will be flooded with hundreds of thousands of radiator shells. Only one shell comes in for each car, and it is not. likely that shells will be dumped here in large quantities simply because some additional advantage has been afforded under the tariff. The president of the recent motor exhibition in Melbourne said that the value of motor cars sold last year had exceeded by over £1,000,000 the value of those sold the year before. That is undoubtedly a sign of returning prosperity, and the plating firms will also prosper as the result of these increased sales. The local industry will not suffer.
– The alteration, will injure the small manufacturers, but not the big ones.
– The Government has always attempted to follow a tariff policy that will hold the balance evenly between all sections of the community, and between primary and secondary industries. On previous occasions, honorable members have complained that motor car items have been microscopically dissected, and that there are, in consequence, items in the tariff which should never have been there. The Tariff Board has now recommended that the schedule be simplified in this respect. It has cut out instrument boards, which no one ever asked to be included, and nobody has complained at their removal. It is now proposed that radiator shells shall also be admitted as part of the complete chassis, so that it will not now be necessary to remove the shells, and have them plated, and then put back again. On page 5 of its report, the Tariff Board shows, among several examples, that the additional cost of this operation to car importers is 17s., while Australian industry benefits only to the extent of 8s. for labour and material. .
– It is suggested that these parts can be sent out in crates.
– Even so, only one is required for each car. I submit that some’ honorable members have got this matter out of perspective. It has been said that one firm has been doing 50 per cent, of the work for the whole of the Commonwealth, and the value of all the work taken together is estimated at only £2,500. Therefore, the other firms must be dividing the other 50 per cent, of the business, and the value to each cannot be very great. .Some of the firms which have complained that they did not have an opportunity to present their case to the board were represented by the secretary of the Chamber of Manufactures. In any case, the inquiry was advertised well enough, and the firms could have had their own personal representatives there if they wished. The Tariff Board’s report shows that the principal firms carrying on in Australia were, as a matter of fact, represented in one way or another at the inquiry. Honorable members know that I would not willingly see any industry injured by overseas competition. Many predictions have been made that various Australian industries would be smashed as the result of tariff amendments, but can any honorable member mention one industry in which unemployment has followed as the result of this Government’s tariff policy.
The CHAIRMAN.- Order ! The Minister is digressing.
– In Bond’s works in Sydney the number of employees has declined from 1,000 to 600.
– ‘That was largely due to inefficiency on the part of the management.
– There will be a definite falling off in employment as a result of the tariff amendment we are now considering.
– I ask honorable members to accept my assurance that I will refer this subject once more to the Tariff Board.
– I am sorry that the Minister-has not agreed to the postponement of the item, and in order that the proposal may be more fully discussed, I propose to move -
That paragraph (G) of sub-item g of the requested amendment be postponed.
As there is a great diversity of opinion on this matter, which is not a party issue, honorable members should be given every opportunity to debate it in an endeavour to serve the best interests of Australian industry. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway), and the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell), who are familiar with the operations of plating factories in their districts, have stated the case fairly and concisely. By confessing that article 14 of the Ottawa agreement leaves him powerless to impose a higher duty than that recommended by the Tariff Board, the Minister has proved the soundness of the contention of honorable members of the Opposition that the Ottawa agreement- has jeopardized the safety of Australian industries, and it is time that the whole matter was completely reviewed.
The Minister mentioned that the existing duty on radiator shells represents an impost of 533 per cent, even under the British preferential tariff. Does he not consider it too drastic to remove that protection ; will it not, as the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. Jennings) has said, lead to the wholesale importation from (Canada of radiator shells that are already plated? Companies in the United States of America will simply have their product turned out across the border in our sister dominion, and land it in Australia duty free, so making it impossible for our own industry to carry on. Incidentally, if the British duty is 330 per cent., surely the foreign equivalent will be over 700 per cent.
– I did not say whether that represented the British or foreign duty, as I have not yet worked it out.
– That has an important bearing on the case. This duty was imposed when I was Minister for Trade and Customs for a very good reason, to force car importers to have radiator shells plated in Australia. In its report the Tariff Board states -
Radiator shells are not manufactured in Australia, they arc all imported, and, in most cases, arc, on importation, attached to the radiator cores to which they belong. This means that on arrival in Australia they have to be removed from the cores for plating and the parts re-assembled when the shells are returned from the plating works. In addition to the delay and inconvenience caused by this procedure, the importers are put to the additional expense of dismantling and reassembling, the costs of which range from ls. Cd. to 6s. 6d., and the average about 4s. 6d.per shell.
That has not subjected the importers of motor cars to any great hardship.
The honorable member for South Sydney, in a thoughtful speech, referred to the proposal of one company to import these radiator shells packed in crates, which would overcome the uneconomic handling necessitated by the present system.
It is interesting to note that in 1930-31 the chassis were imported into Australia numbered 9,200 ; I presume that in 1927- 28 and ‘ 1928-29, when conditions were more normal, the importations were even greater. If Australian factories were called upon to plate radiator shells for 10,000 motor cars in the next twelve months, that would mean a considerable increase in employment, and, surely, normal times are coming nearer and nearer.
There are many efficient concerns in Australia capable of carrying out the plating of radiator shells, including the Edson Plating Company Proprietary Limited, Modern Plating Works, Nella Enamelling and Electroplating Proprietary Limited, F. R. Quinton Proprietary Limited, Walhalla Plating Works, all of Melbourne, and Woodward and Thurston and other capable companies in Sydney. I have inspected many of their plants. , When dealing with the subject, the General President’ of the Amalgamated Engineering Union, Sydney, said -
Prior to the imposition of the present duties, particularly on chromium plated articles unemployment in that section of the trade was very rife. A good many men have since been placed in. employment. An official of the organization had ascertained that £20,000 had been expended on plant and £10,000 on land and buildings in Victoria since the duties were increased. A reduction in the duties which would result in the importation of plated radiator shells would mean the displacement of several employees. This would be serious at the present time when there are 40 or 50 members of the organization with experience in the electroplating trade who are still unemployed.
He was hoping that when Australia returned to more normal times, there would be a considerable increase of employment in the industry. Because of the high rates of duties imposed practically all of the cars now sold in Australia are fitted with radiator shells that have been plated in this country. The work compares favorably with any carried out elsewhere, being effected at a cost very little greater than that at which it can be done overseas. Consequently, the motor car user in Australia stands to gain nothing from the change that is proposed by the Government. It speaks highly for the efficiency of the Australian plating firms that this should be the case, as the work is extremely technical, and is carried out by highly trained operatives who serve an apprenticeship of six years, and whose rates of pay are fully double those which obtains in Great Britain. In Victoria alone, 120 employees of the firms named are directly affected by the duty on radiator shells, and several other smaller firms would he able to provide more employment if we returned to normal conditions as regards the importation of motor cars. The wages bill of the five Victorian companies alone- totals more than £17,000 a year. Corresponding expenditure is incurred in the other capital cities by firms which are doing this class of work. “When this duty was imposed, additional plant and equipment were installed in Victorian factories at a cost of about £20,000. The request of the Senate will, if acceded to, render much of this plant useless, and what is probably more important, men and youths who have been trained in this special work will lose their employment. There should be a further investigation into this industry. It is to be regretted that the Victorian firms did not see the advertisement of the Tariff Board inviting witnesses to give evidence in respect of this duty. No doubt it was published in some obscure position in the newspapers, and for that reason was overlooked. Consequently, these firms did not appear before tlie board, although they have convincing evidence as to the strength of their claim for consideration. I hope that the Minister will agree to the postponement of the item, so that’ the conditions of the industry may again be investigated by the Tariff Board.
– It is, I think, desirable that I should, at this stage, refer to a ruling which I gave yesterday in respect of an amendment submitted by the honorable member for Maribyruong (Mr. Penton), that consideration of the item then under discussion be postponed. I ruled that, as there was a substantive motion before tlie Chair, I could not accept another, and suggested that the honorable member for Maribyrnong would achieve “his purpose if he moved-to add to the motion the words, “ but that the item be referred back to the Tariff Board “. In that form I accepted the amendment. Since then I have given the matter further consideration, and have come to the conclusion that my ruling was not a good one. An amendment must be strictly relevant to the bill. The amendment that I permitted yesterday, was not. I now rule that a motion to postpone consideration of the item before the -Chair is in order. I gather from the remarks of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde), that his wish is not to postpone consideration of the whole of the item now being considered, but only a portion of the requested amendment of the Senate. It will, therefore, be necessary to dissect the item. If the Minister agrees to this course, the procedure will be simplified.
Motion (Mr. Guv’s) - by leave - withdrawn.
Motion (by Mr. White) agreed to -
That the requested amendment up to and including paragraph 5 of sub-item o be made.
Amendment (by Mr. Forde) proposed -
That paragraph (0) of sub-item (g) of the requested amendment be . postponed.
– I hope that the committee will not accept the requested amendment of the Senate to leave out the duty on plated radiator shells. I agree with the remarks of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) as to the importance of this industry. The honorable gentleman was not strictly accurate when, he stated that some of the factories affected by this duty are situated- in my electorate. They are not; but, as is well known to honorable members, the fact that a particular industry does not happen to be in my electoral division does not weigh with me at all. My concern is to see that industry, generally, irrespective of the district or State in which it may be situated or sufficiently safeguarded to ensure employment for our people. Although it is not in my district, I know a great deal about the Carlton factory, where extensive additions have been made in recent years, in order to cope with the work offering. These frequent tariff alterations are entirely wrong, and cause a feeling of insecurity among those engaged in industrial undertakings. Many of the factories engaged in this class of work in Victoria are really family concerns, working on a co-operative basis. In some cases the owners have entered into large commitments. ‘Consequently, if the Senate’s requested amendment is made, the financial position of these firms may be imperilled. They give employment to 120 persons. I admit that the whole of the time of employees may not be given to the work of electroplating radiator shells, but on one knows better than the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White), who has been a manufacturer for many years, how important it is to have orders which can be carried out when other work may be slack. Therefore, I hope that nothing will be done in connexion with this subitem that may cause unemployment in this particular industry. It follows that, if the electroplating of radiator shells is done before the chassis leaves the factory overseas, there will be less employment for Australian operators. I hope that the committee will accept the amendment of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde), and in that way help to keep our people in employment. If the Senate’s request is accepted, a considerable number of men engaged in electroplating will lose their jobs. Some of them are just finishing their apprenticeships, and will have no opportunity to find other work. It is the duty of the committee to see that this industry is treated fairly in the interests, first of the employees, and, secondly, of factory-owners, who have, in many cases, invested the whole of their life savings in the industry. I am pleased that some honorable members with freetrade leanings, having factories in their electorates, feel disposed to support the proposal of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.
– I was interested to hear the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) give the assurance that this matter would be at once referred to the Tariff Board.
– Only because some of the manufacturers said that they were notrepresented at the previous inquiry.
Mr. -SCULLIN.- Such a definite assurance would not be lightly given ; consequently there must be strong grounds for maintaining the status quo until the matter has been again investigated by the board.
– The original duty was imposed without a reference of the matter to the board.
– But it has operated for a considerable time, and, under it, the industry has expanded, and a considerable number of persons have been employed. Even the Minister himself must be satisfied that the final pronouncement has not been made by the board. Therefore, why effect a change until a further report has been received from the board ?
The next point made by the Minister was that a violation of the Ottawa agreement is involved. The honorable gentleman became entangled in an argument with the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell), with whose contention I am in entire agreement. Surely the action proposed would not violate article 12 of the Ottawa agreement, which lays it down that there shall be no increase of an existing duty in excess of the recommendation of the Tariff Board! The existing duty is £2 British and £3 general, and the proposal is to reduce, not to increase, it. The Minister said that the duty against Great Britain is equivalent to 500 per cent.
– I said that it rose to over “j 00 per cent.
– According to- the report of- the Tariff Board, it admittedly is a prohibitive duty. The contention of the Minister, that the effect of the recommendation of the board is to impose an ad valorem duty of 32£ per cent, on unplated radiator shells from America, cannot be contested; but the Government’s proposal also involves the removal of the flat rate protection of £3 in connexion with American plated shells. As the equivalent of £2 is 500 per cent., the equivalent of £3 must be infinitely higher ; consequently, the protection against American plated shells is being reduced from approximately 700 per cent, to 324 per cent., which is n very drastic reduction.
– On a different item.
– The duty on plated shells is being reduced from a flat rate of £3 to an ad valorem rate of 32-J per cent.
– But the protection against unplated shells is increased.
– That will not benefit, the plating industry in Australia.
– The shells could be brought in lacquered or japanned.
– But they are not. The shells are plated in Australia, and that operation provides employment in this country. There is no evidence of over-charging; on the contrary, the cost has been reduced. Although the work is good, the price has been reduced, and employment is given to Australians, it is proposed to withdraw the existing protection. The effect must be to wipe out the industry. There is a strong case for further consideration.
– This is a most interesting subitem. The Tariff Board says that the industry is an uneconomic one. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) has presented a very fine case in opposition to the contention of the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) tha.t there is a definite violation of the Ottawa agreement. The companies concerned wish to have the matter further considered. The stand that I take i3, that if the industry is uneconomic, it should be wiped out, but that such action should not be taken until the fullest investigation has been made. The report of the Tariff Board shows that only one firm out of the five that operate in Victoria was represented .at its inquiry. The bounds of fairness would not be exceeded if the question were referred hack to the Tariff Board before the committee came to a decision upon it. There is a precedent for the adoption of that course in the case of the glass industry, which was investigated by the board on more than one occasion. Obviously, this industry has not been able to state its case, possibly on account of its own carelessness, and now finds that it is likely to bc wiped out.
– It will not be wiped out ; only one phase of its activities is involved.
– But it is an important phase, as the Minister knows. If it is essential to the uninterrupted operation of the plant, it must necessarily be given full consideration.
– The business is increasing.
– The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) has pointed out that plated radiator shells will come in duty free.
– Tes, from Great Britain, but the duty will be 15 per cent, in the case of Canada, and 32^ per cent, in the case of the United States of America.
– I still think that the Minister should endeavour to obtain all the evidence available from firms who were not represented at the previous inquiry. If he referred the matter back to the board, he would be commended by the whole of the committee.
. -Reading carefully the report of the Tariff Board, one can come to no other conclusion than that this is a most uneconomic industry. It has been proved that the plating done in Australia is remarkably good, and that no fault oan be found with those who conduct the enterprise. The report of the board contains the following statement: -
Radiator shells are not manufactured in Australia; they are all imported, and, in most cases, arc, on importation, attached to the radiator cores to which they belong. This means that, on arrival in Australia they have to be removed from the cores for plating, and the parts reassembled when, the shells are returned from, the plating works. In addition to the delay and inconvenience caused by this procedure, the importers are put to the additional expense of dismantling and reassembling, tlie costs of which range from ls. Cd. to <Ss. 6d., and average about 4s. Od. per shell.
Overseas manufacturers make’ certain allowances when they supply non-plated shells. The allowances represent the bare cost of plating the shells, and consequently are very low’: United Kingdom manufacturers allow from 3s. 6d. to 5s. per shell, and manufacturers in the United States of America from 2s. 3d. to 2s. 9d. per shell.
That shows that the cost of dismantling the shells, sending them to the plating works, returning them, and having them re-assembled, is greater than the allowance made by overseas manufacturers for their unplated condition upon arrival in Australia. The board gives . representative examples, showing the excess costs to car importers in comparison, with the advantages to Australia in the way of labour and the use of Australian raw materials. In example A, the cost of dismantling and re-assembling shells and cores is 3s. 8d., while the charge for plating is 7s. 6d. The allowance made by the exporter for -supplying the non-plated shell is 3s. 6d. Therefore, the additional cost which results from having the plating done in Australia, is 7s. Sd. In example B, the cost of dismantling and re-assembling is set down at 3s. 6d., and the cost of plating at 9s. 6d., a total of 13s. The allowance made by the exporter for supplying the non-plated shell is only 4s. ; therefore, the additional cost in that case is 9s.
– The shells could he imported separately.
– Example E deals with such a case; consequently, no figure appears in the column which gives the cost of dismantling and re-assembling. But the charge for plating is 18s., and the allowance made to the exporter for supplying the non-plated shells is only 5s. The board goes on to say -
It is clear that the advantages of having tlie shells plated in Australia are hopelessly outweighed by the - disadvantages which the excess costs impose on users of motor vehicles.
XJ113 is not entirely the fault of the local platers, who appear to be turning out good work at reasonable prices.
The whole of the arrangement is utterly uneconomic, and the benefit conferred by the local industry is not commensurate with the cost involved. In the circumstances, it appears to me difficult to find an argument in favour of the postponement of the sub-item. [Quorum formed.]
.- As the report of the Tariff Board is dated the 10th July last, the information it contains is not by any means out of date. When this matter was inquired into the meeting of the board was advertised, witnesses were called and those who wished to give evidence had every opportunity to do so. It is incorrect to say “that this industry is carried on without’ detriment to any one, because I have received a telegram from the president of the automotive industry of Perth, which states that the cost of plating shells in that city is 30s., whereas the overseas factory allowance for unplated shells is. 5s. In addition to the cost of plating in Perth 5s. is charged for removing and replacing the’ shell so that the actual cost of this small amount of plating is 30s. In larger cities, where there are more cars, the average cost of plating, according to the board’s report, is 12s. 6d-) which has to be paid by the importer or by the purchaser of a car. This duty represents a tax on some one to provide protection for what is merely a branch of an industry. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) said that in Victoria £17,000 is paid annually in wages for plating work; but as the Tariff Board states that the average number of motor cars imported into Australia during the last two years was 6,000, the total value of the Australian work and materials used in plating would not exceed £2,500. It would appear that, in saying that £17,000 is paid in wages in Victoria”, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition grossly exaggerated the position.
Electroplating was undertaken in Australia before motor cars were in use. Electroplating works have existed in every city and in many important towns in Australia for many years, and even if radiator shells are not plated here, these works will still continue in business. I cannot support the postponement of the item, because I consider that, the committee should come to a decision to-day.
– I support the views expressed by those who suggest that this matter should be referred back to the Tariff Board for further investiga-tion. If the last word has not been said in this matter, the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) would not be agreeable to the duties being further considered by the board. Up to the present the electroplating industry has been conducting its operations with a certain amount of protection, and it would be undesirable io reduce the duty and then to refer the matter back to the board with a view to that body recommending a higher rate of duty. It would be more logical to leave the duty as it is and ask the board to reconsider it.
– That would mean delaying the whole schedule.
– Not unduly. Chromiumplating is highly-specialized work, and I cannot understand why the Tariff Board has dealt so harshly with the industry. Chromium-plating was first undertaken by a Sydney man named W…T. Carmichael, who incurred a great deal of expense in importing modern and costly machinery. He made such a success of the work that a number of others engaged in the industry. No one denies that the quality of the local work is excellent, or that the industry is efficiently conducted. Some firms, particularly in Sydney, say that if they are given another opportunity to present their case before the
Tariff Board, sufficient additional evidence will be tendered to induce the board to recommend a greater degree of protection than is now afforded. The right course to follow is to refer the matter back to the board, which can make a further report before a final decision is reached.
– It has been said that the value of the work involved in plating radiator shells docs not exceed £2,500 a year, and that the average cost of plating shells is 12s. 6d. each. I have just received a communication from one of the twelve firms engaged’ in this work in New South Wales, which states that the value of the plating work done by it on radiator shells unplated, manufactured in the United States of America and shipped from Canada is £2,400 per annum. The price this firm quotes is8s. 6d. a shell, including packing and transport. I am informed that the Tariff Board was invited to investigate the plant of this company, but did. not do so. Further investigation should be made, and I shall support the postponement of the item to enable the Tariff Board to go further into the whole matter.
– I have received the following information from Victorian firms engaged in electroplating : -
This “request “, although based on a Tariff Board report, dated the 10th July, 1933, should not be supported, because such report does not furnish a proper investigation into this industry. In Victoria there are five electroplating firms specializing in the chromium-plating of motor-car fittings, four of whom knew nothing about the Tariff Board inquiry, having failed to notice the advertisement in the paper. Clearly insufficient evidence was available to constitute a fair investigation.
Australia stands sixth among the nations of the world in the number of motor cars in use, and the chromium-plating industry is valuable to Australia. Prior to the depression, one motor firm imported motor cars, trucks, and accessories to the value of £10,000,000, and although business has been practically stationary for some time, it is now improving, and, according to the Minister, those engaged in the automobile industry has indicated that,£l,000,000 worth of additional motor cars was purchased last year. The representative of one firm has recently returned from a visit to two or three of the principal States with £200,000 worth of orders, clearly showing that the motor trade is improving and that employment in this industry and in allied industries will rapidly increase. I trust that the Minister will allow this matter to be further considered by the board.
Question - That paragraph (6) of subitem (g) of the requested amendment be postponed (Mr. Forde’s amendment) - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. Bell.)
Question so resolved in the negative.
Motion (by Mr. White) agreed to -
That the remainder of the requested amendment be made, with the modification that paragraph8 ofsub-item6 be re-numbered “ 5 “.”
Vehicle parts, viz.: -
Senate’s request -
Amend paragraph 5of sub-item F to make it-
Amend paragraph 7 of sub-itemF to make it -
– I move -
That the requested amendment be made, with the modification that the fixed duty under the general tariff in paragraph 359 (F) (7) be made 2s. 3d.
The addition of the words “ and for motor car window regulators “ is requested. No alteration of the duties is sought. The effect of the request is to include handles for window regulators in the same item as handles for motor car doors. Window regulator handles are similar to motor car door handles, and are manufactured by the same process. The regulator handles and the door handles are often sold in sets, and the prices are very much the same. The Tariff Board has recommended this alteration; but, apart from this, the alteration is desirable from the point of view of administration, as under present conditions regulator handles are charged a proportion of the fixed rate applied to the regulators, and similar bundles will often be dutiable at different rates of duty. Difficulty is encountered by the department in ascertaining the correct duty payable, and the alteration is desirable in the interests of both the trade and the department.
The duties provided in paragraph 7, covering window regulators, were imposed by the previous Government with out having received a report from the Tariff Board. The board has now reported on the matter, and is satisfied that the duties requested by the Senate will provide adequate protection. The board found that Australian manufacturers are in a position to supply all Australian requirements of window regulators, and that the fixed duties of1s. 3d. each, British; 2s. each, general, should afford the industry sufficient protection against the importation of the single arm and other low-priced types; but in order to protect sufficiently the local manufacturers against the higher-priced types, ad valorem rates are necessary. The present duties are unnecessarily high, exceeding in some cases the Australian manufacturer’s price, and in all cases of the single arm type represent over 100 per cent. It will be noted that handles have been excluded from the paragraph. This has been done because difficulty has been experienced in. determining the duty which is payable. Handles are at present dutiable at a proportion of the fixed rate applicable to window regulators, and the situation arises in which identical handles are dutiable at different rates of duty. Provision is, made in paragraph 359 f 5 forhandles for window- regulators to be made dutiable at the rates applying to door handles. The proposed modification of the Senate’s request is necessary in order to maintain the margin of preference of1s. each, in accordance with the Ottawa formula.
Motion agreed to.
Articles of an advertising character, which would not otherwise be dutiable at a higher rate of duty under any other heading, including all articles which would be free but for their advertising characteristics, ad valorem, British, 45 per cent.: general,65 per cent.
Senate’s request -
Make the duty, ad valorem British, 25 per cunt.
Motion (by Mr. Guy) proposed -
That the requested amendment be made, with the modification that the general tariff rate be made 42½ per cent.
.- This isa non-Government request. It relates to a rticles of an advertising character, which would not otherwise he dutiable at a higher rate of duty under any other heading. The grounds for the request are that, unless it were shown that something was being done to prejudice the revenue, there would be no justification for the heavy increase of duty under this item. The increase was made by the Scullin Government, and was rather higher than necessary. The item refers to earthenware articles, glassware, pencils, pens, smoking requisites, thermometers, fancy goods, and’ penknives when used for advertising purposes. The Scullin Government increased these duties for revenue purposes, but the available figures show that the importations have been very small.
– Does the item cover goods not made in Australia?
-I think that I can give the honorable member that assurance in the case of practically every article. Some of the earthenware articles may be competitive with Australian products, but very few goods of an advertising nature are manufactured in Australia. I admit that pencils of some kind are made here. The articles covered by the item are usually given away by merchants for the purpose of advertising their wares, but the present trade depression has practically ended such distribution. If the request were acceded to, only £292 per annum would be lost in revenue. That fact, . in my opinion, should justify acceptance of the motion.
– I take it that this matter has not been investigated by the Tariff Board.
– That is so.
– All that I ask is that the Minister have further inquiries made regarding the effect that the alteration might have upon certain local industries which manufacture articles such as pencils that compete against imported samples that are brought in for advertising purposes. I desire to see that’ no injustice is done to any small struggling industry that is in the embryo stage. When I was Minister for Trade and Customs, the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Riley) showed me through a factory that’ had been established for the purpose of making pencils, and this industry had great possibilities of development. I believe that it could supply Australia with all the pencils necessary for advertising purposes.
– For all purposes.
– I believe that that’ is so. I hope that the Minister will look into this matter, and if he finds that an Australian industry suffers as the result of this alteration, see that its position is safeguarded.
.- I shall do that, but I again point out that the item refers to articles of an advertising character which would not otherwise be dutiable at a higher rate under any other heading. That provision should be sufficient safeguard, but I shall watch the position.
Motion agreed to.
Articles specially designed and imported for the use of the blind, deaf, and dumb, when imported by governing bodies of public institutions having the care thereof, British, free; general, free.
Senates request -
Amend item to make it - 368. (a) Articles specially designed and imported for the use of the blind, deaf, and dumb, when imported by governing bodies of public institutions having the care thereof, British, free; general, free’;
.- I move-
That the requested amendment be made.
This request has been made with the object of providing for the free admission from the United Kingdom of non-electric deaf aids. Electrical deaf aids on the telephone principle are at present dutiable at free, British, and 20 per cent., general, and as these non-electrical appliances are not being manufactured in Australia the Government desires to grant this relief to those who are unfortunate enough to need these articles. These goods are manufactured in the United Kingdom, and the same margin of preference as is accorded the electrical type is applied, viz., 20 per cent. The goods affected by this request are mainly dutiable at present at 45 per’ cent. British, and 65 per cent, general.
Motion agreed to.
Outside packages, n.e.i., and outer coverings, including the sole containing package, in which goods are ordinarily imported, when containing such goods -
When containing any goods which are subject under any item in the tariff to an ad valorem duty or to alternative or composite duties, ad valorem,’ British, 20 per cent.; general, 30 per cent.;
Otherwise, British, free; general, free. Senate’s request -
Amend item to make it - 408. Outside packages, n.e.i., and outer coverings, including the sole containing package, in which goods are ordinarily imported, when containing such goods -
When containing goods subject to the ad valorem duty under Item 267(b), ad valorem, British, free ; general, 10 per cent. ;
When containing any goods which are subject under any item in the tariff (other than goods subject to ad valorem duty under Item 207 (B ) to an ad valorem duty or to alternative or composite duties, ad valorem, British, 20 per cent.; general, 30 per cent.;
Otherwise, British, free; general, free.
– I move -
That the requested amendment be made.
The effect of this amendment is to reduce the duty on the containers of bitumen, asphalt, &c, from 30 per cent, to 10 per cent. The value of bitumen and allied products in relation to the value of their containers is high as compared with most other commodities, and the heavy revenue duty of 30 per cent, is acting harshly on the users of the bitumen. Several municipalities have brought this matter forward, and attention was also directed to it by the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Stacey), the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Dennis) and others. At the Premiers Conference, the Government undertook to see if relief could be given, and the present alteration is proposed to give effect to the Government’s promise.
Motion agreed to.
Saws n.ei., ad valorem - British, 45 per cent. ; general, 05 per cent.
Postponed Senate’s request -
Amend item to make it -
Saws n.e.i., ad valorem - British, 15 per cent.; general, 35 per cent.
– I move -
That the requested amendment be made with the following modification: -
Instead of -
Saws n.i.e., ad valorem, British, 15 per cent. ; general 35 per cent., read -
Saws, viz. : -
Inserted tooth . circular saws, ad valorem - British, free; general, 15 per cent.
– A recent report of the Tariff Board, which has been circulated among honorable members, contains alternative recommendations. Circular saws- are tools of trade in the milling industry, and it was contended that the heavy duties on them placed a severe burden on the saw-milling industry. The Tariff Board, therefore, recommended that the duties on circular saws with inserted teeth should be British, free, and general, 15 per cent. All the parties represented at the board’s inquiry agreed that these saws are not being made in Australia, and are not likely to be made here for many years. The Tariff Board states. that under existing conditions, but without primage, reasonable duties would be British, 30 per cent. ; and general, 50 per cent. ; but that if the rate of exchange were now at par and primage duty non-existent, reasonable and adequate duties would be 45 per cent, and 65 per cent, respectively in the case of saws n.e.i., but on saws not made in Australia British, free, and general, 15 per cent. The Government had two choices, and it accepted the recommendation that the dutiesbe British, 45 per cent., and general, 65 per cent. The reason for accepting it is that provision is already made in the exchange adjustment proposals to adjust the British preferential tariff rate on account of exchange, which means that there is really not a great deal of difference between the two recommendations when all the factors are taken into consideration.
– What is the difference ?
– Duties of 45 per cent, and 65 per cent., less the exchange adjustment of111/4 per cent., would leave the British rate of duty 333/4 per cent., and the general rate 65 per cent. The Government preferred the second recommendation for the added reason that the figures show that, under it, manufacturers in the United Kingdom will be given a wider margin of preference.
M.r. Rosevear. - I take it that under the present proposal, the position is not greatly different from what it was when the schedule left this chamber for the Senate.
– “When the exchange adjustment is taken into account, the position is much the same.. The Government had the option either of accepting a definite rate of duty or of applying a formula. This is the first report of this nature from the Tariff Board.
Motion agreed to.
Motion (by Mr. Guy) proposed -
That the resolutions he reported.
.- This motion provides an opportunity to refer to items not included in the schedule before the committee. I desire to bring forward the subject of the duties on cotton yarn. A former Minister for Trade and Customs (Sir Henry Gullett), offered inducements to the Bradford Cotton and Spinning Mills to set up a spinning mill in Australia.
– The honorable member will not be in order in referring to that matter now.
– I submit that I am in order in asking that other items be considered before the resolutions are reported to the House.
– As everything within the ambit of the proposals before the committee has been considered, extraneous matter may not now be brought forward.
– Am I not in order in expressing the opinion that other things should be added?
– I think not.. There may be other opportunities to introduce matters which the honorable member thinks should be in the schedule, or in the list of requested amendments from another place, but he is not in order in bringing them forward at this stage.
– I submit that this motion provides honorable members with an opportunity to draw attention to the failure of the Government to include in the bill definite proposals-
– I have already ruled that this is not an occasion on which the honorable member may take action of that nature.
Motion agreed to.
Motion (by Mr. White) proposed -
That the Senate’s requested amendments he now recommitted to a committee of the whole House for the reconsideration of Nos. 5 and US.
– I oppose the motion, because it is not sufficiently comprehensive. It covers only two items - cornflour and axe handles - whereas, in my opinion, other items should be brought within the scope of the motion in order that adequate protection may be given to a number of important secondary industries, some of which have an important bearing on primary industries. For instance, Australian cotton-spinners, especially those engaged in the manufacture of cotton tweed yarns, are embarrassed because of the failure of the Tariff Board to facilitate the completion of its report. This delay affects an industry which would use considerable quantities of raw cotton from Queensland. The Tariff Board has been slow in presenting its reports on a number of important matters. In view of the assurances given by the Minister from time to time, he should have availed himself of this opportunity to include cotton yarns and other items.
.- The motion asks for the recommittal of two items; but the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Riley) rightly urges that the claims of the cotton-spinning industry and other industries should be considered.
Mr. -SPEAKER (Hon. G. H. Mackay). - The honorable member may not debate matters other than those contained in the requests made by the .Senate.
– I ask the Minister to give favorable consideration to the case presented by the honorable member for Cook on behalf of the cotton-spinning industry. When the Minister rose, I was about to move for the recommittal of the Senate’s request dealing with cornflour.
– In moving for its recommittal, I was merely giving effect to an earlier promise.
– I hope that the Minister’s object in moving for the recommittal of the request in regard to axe handles is not to reverse the decision which the committee arrived at yesterday. Believing that a great injustice was done to the manufacturers of cornflour when the committee accepted the Senate’s request, I am glad that this matter is to be further discussed.
.- The honorable member for Cook (Mr. Riley) directed my attention of Thursday of last week to the position of the cotton-growers and cottonspinners, and I can add very little to what I told him. then. At a conference of representatives of the growers and spinners recently held in Sydney satisfactory arrangements were made for the disposal of this year’s cotton crop. A high official of the Customs Department was chairman of the conference, and has officiated in a similar capacity at previous conferences. The honorable member knows better than most people that the Tariff Board has made a prolonged inquiry in to every aspect of the cotton industry. Evidence was obtained from Great Britain, and the board sat in both Melbourne and Sydney. Its report is not yet to hand, but the Government will not delay dealing with it . when it is received. It may be taken for granted that the subject will be dealt with in the next schedule tabled in the House.
– In the meantime one of the companies interested in the industry will have to cease operations.
– That is not so.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
In committee (Recommittal) :
Item 58 -
Grainand pulse, prepared or manufactured, viz.: -
Cornflour, per lb., British, 3d.; general, 3d.
Senate’s request -
Amend sub-item to make it -
Cornflour: Starch flour derived from maize -
Motion (by Mr. Guy) proposed -
That the requested amendment be made.
.- In view of the fact that the Australian consumers may now purchase cornflour at the price at which it is retailed in England, I hope that the Government will refer this item back to the Tariff Board for further investigation and report. It is believed by the Australian manufacturers of cornflour and the Australian maize-growers that they will suffer seriously if this duty is reduced. The duty on cornflour under the 1921-28 tariff was British, 2d. ; general, 2d. That duty had operated practically ever since federation until the Scullin Government, in 1929, increased it to British, 3d.; general, 3d. On the 4th April, 1930, importations of cornflour were prohibited, and that prohibition remained in force until May, 1932. During that period the Australian cornflour manufacturers supplied the whole of Australia’s requirements, and our maize-growers were able to sell their product at prices much above average world’s parity for maize. The Senate has now requested that the duties be reduced to British,13/4d.; general, 23/4d. when not packed for household use, and 2d. and 3d. respectively when packed for household use. Such a reduction would undoubtedly adversely affect the local industry, for it would open the market to cornflour manufactured overseas from, black-grown maize. I have always believed in protecting both the primary and secondary branches of allied industries. While it may be said by some honorable members of the Country party that overseas competition is desirable in connexion with such’ monopolies as those engaged in the manufacture of galvanized iron, steel, ‘and matches, it cannot be justly said that overseas competition is necessary in this case, beeause Clifford Love and Company Limited, of Sydney, Maize Products Proprietary Limited, of Melbourne and Sydney, and Parsons Brothers Proprietary . Limited,of Melbourne, are competing against one another for the Australian cornflour market. As both the primary and secondary branches of this industry have been . protected in the past, it would be wrong for us to remove such protection now. In 1925, the Tariff Board recommended duties of 2s. 6d. per cental British and 3s. 6d. per cental foreign on maize, and these were approved by Parliament. A consequence has been that the Australian maize-growers have received an average price of 5s. a bushel for the maize that they have sold to the local cornflour manufacturers.
I ask the committee to reject the Senate’s request,because itsacceptance would lead to unemployment in both the primary and secondary branches of the industry, deal a blow at maize-growers as well as the workers in the maize products industry, and enable Scotch cornflour manufactured from maize produced by black labour to enter into competition with the cornflour manufactured in Australia from maize grown by white labour. I feel that the committee acted hastily a few days ago in acceding to the Senate’s request on this item, and that, if it reconsiders the subject now, it will realize that, if the duty is lowered, ‘both the maize producers and cornflour manufacturers will be in jeopardy. The Country party has frequently emphasized that the wheat, butter, potato and onion growers of Australia should receive prices for their products commensurate with the cost of production, and surely the maize-growers are entitled to similar consideration. If the price of maize is maintained at something near the existing figure, the industry will be conducted with a sense of security. That the old rate of duty was ineffective can be judged from the following table showing the quantities of cornflour imported inrecent years: -
In five years approximately 2,000 tons of cornflour was imported. This has meant that our maize-growers have lost the sale to cornflour manufacturers of approximately 160,000 bushels of maize. The Queensland maize-growers stated in the evidence submitted by them to the Tariff Board that their position was so serious that ‘any action which tended to reduce the market for, or lower the price of, maize would be a calamity:. I think thatthey submitted a convincing case to the board. Evidence . also submitted to the board showed that the average prices paid for maize : bythe cornflour manufacturers ofNew South Wales over aperiodofyears have been as follows : -
I understand that the present price is about 5s. a bushel. Evidence was also submitted showing that the price of maize in the United States of America, according to the Sydney Morning Herald of the 19 th January, 1933, was as low as 7 cents or 31/2d. sterling a bushel. A fair average price was stated to be 21 cents, or 101/2d. abushel. At the time that the inquiry was being made by the board, maize was quoted on the London market at 2s. 2d. a bushel, ‘but the Australian maize-growers were receiving 5s. 8d. a bushel for the maize that they were then selling to the cornflour manufacturers. All branches of the industry are concerned about the probable adverse effects of a reduction of the duty on cornflour. Mr. P. J. Riley, the secretary of the Manufacturing Grocers Employees Federation, writing to me from Melbourne, stated that -
The members of the Manufacturing Grocers Employees Federation are vitallyinterested in this matter. If the duties are lowered to allow cornflour to be freely imported into tie Commonwealth, a number of our members will be affected, and will no doubt be thrown out of work.
Surely it is reasonable to ask that the Australian maize industry be protected against imports of maize or cornflour from overseas. I sincerely hope that the Minister will agree to refer this item back to the Tariff Board, so that information availablenow, but not available when the inquiry was made, may be submitted to the board. It is felt that such information will cause the board -to alter its recommendation. If the Minister will allow the old rate of duty to apply until the Tariff Board has made a further recommendation; we on this side of the chamber will be prepared to forgo our amendment’ with a view to discussing this item some time before Parliamentadjourns. This industry has been built up in the face of great difficulties, and is giving- employment- to hundreds of our people, and unless the local manufacturers are given sufficient protection they will be unable to compete with overseas manufacturers who are using- maize grown by black labour.
– I am pleased that the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) has recommitted this item, because it gives tlie committee an opportunity to rectify what, I feel sure, would be a great injustice to an Australian industry. There is little that can be added to the case against the change of duty which has been presented to the committee by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde).’ I would remind the Minister, that the cornflour industry is preeminently an Australian industry, that it handles a raw product of Australia and manufactures it into the finished article, that it supplies a wide and constant demand, and that it has been established for half a century. I have taken the trouble to ascertain the position of this industry in pre-federation days, and I find from the Victorian YearBooh 1S95-1S9S, that 40 years ago the Victorian duty on maizena was 2d. per Jb. I ask, the. Minister to try to conjure up the conditions that existed in Australia in those distant days, and to remember that this industry has been established and has continued its operations during all these stirring and revolutionary changes that have marked Australia in the interim. I ask him to bear in mind the fact that the duty of 2d. per lb. in 1895 was more than wouldbe a duty of 5d. per lb. to-day, that in those days the currency of Australia was gold, that the general level of wages was much lower, and that, in short, Australia was then undeveloped, yet it was then considered that a duty of 2d. per lb. was fair for the purpose of encouraging the Victorian industry. When federation was established all the States were brought together. Previously some of them had been freetrade. In the State of New South Wales cornflour was at that time admitted free of duty, but! previously there had been a duty of d: per lb. The Federal Ministry, in its effort to adjust a tariff to meet the conditions- imposed upon them, fixed the duty at id’, per lb. Thus before federation the duty was 2d. per lb.; after federation it was for some time id. per lb. It was subsequently raised to 2d: per lb., and later to 3d. per lb.
It has been pointed out that the cornflour industry is ancillary to a great primary industry; is as. much a part of’ maize-growing as butter-making is of dairying. Honorable members of the Country party would be the last to say that butter-making is a secondary industry. They regard it as a primary industry, but it is certainly no more a primary industry than is the making of cornflour’ from maize. They recognize that the price of wheat and of flour must go hand in hand, and they are not at all unmindful of the necessity for demanding a local price for wheat and a local price for flour. I remind them that I have supported the fixation of local prices for both wheat and flour, and I consider that they should now be prepared to support the imposition of a duty sufficient to place the cornflour industry upon a satisfactory basis. I have been disappointed at the report and recom mendations of the Tariff Board. In my opinion the evidence does not support the recommendations. It is curious that the board has become, or is in danger of becoming, a kind of pooh-bah in this country. Its original duties were severely circumscribed. It was appointed originally to inquire into and report upon the conditions existing in every industry so that the Government might come to a decision upon the facts as adduced by evidence; and for a long time it was the practice of governments to exercise their discretion, sometimes accepting and sometimes rejecting the recommendations of the board. But those spacious days are gone.
– We have to respect article 12 of the Ottawa agreement.
– I admit that; but, the welfare of our country should be our first consideration. Whatever we may say of the Ottawa agreement or the Tariff Board, we cannot relieve ourselves- of the responsibility for every act of this legislature. The supreme test of the policy of this Parliament is to he found in its effects upon employment or unemployment of our people. The position to-day is that at least 500,000 of the workers of this country are employed in industries sustained by the .tariff; yet we see that the whole fabric by which their destinies are shaped is controlled by the Tariff Board, and not by this Parliament, and that nothing that this Parliament may do can raise the customs tariff except upon the recommendation of that board. It may be that some honorable members will approve of this or that recommendation of the board; that may easily happen; but, as a general principle, I do not think that they will subscribe to a principle by which this Parliament abrogates all its responsibility, and is stripped of all its powers. We are asked to accept the duties specified in this item because Tariff Board has recommended them. “.’’;«re was a time when the board had lei-sure. But those days are gone. It is assumed by some people that this body is composed of super men; but they are men like ourselves, staggering under the load of their obvious imperfections, and, without resource to make careful inquiry into the conditions existing in each industry, are racing through the tariff. They have been asked to rebuild, within a. few weeks, the structure which it has taken this Parliament and this country years to erect. The cornflour industry is essentially a primary industry. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has pointed out that the maize-growers of this country receive 5s. a bushel for the maize used in the manufacture of cornflour. The Tariff Board, in its report, being unable to refute that fa.ct, has fallen back upon the weak excuse that in Queensland the growers receive -only 2s. 9d. a bushel. It proposes to remedy that condition by taking action, which, on the face of it, must reduce the maize-growers of Queensland, to extremities by cripping the industry that helps to maintain the price even at the low level I have indicated. What is to become of the maize-growers of Queensland if the cornflour i n d 11 st r v is seriously injured as a result of a reduction’ of duty? It is sufficiently obvious that this continual harping on the fact that Scotch cornflour can be produced for 2d. per lb. is intended to prepare the minds of the people of this country for a catastrophic fall in the price of cornflour, and, of course, of maize from which cornflour is made.
– Only 4 per cent, of the Australian maize crop is used for the production of cornflour.
– Evidently it is intended to reduce the price of cornflour in Australia by flooding the market as far as possible with cheap Scottish cornflour produced from, black-grown maize. Surely we should have some regard for our ideals. This is a White Australia - a fact which honorable members should keep firmly fixed in their minds - and how we can abase ourselves at the shrine of black-grown products I cannot understand. There must be some compelling motive to induce a Parliament, which is pledged to support a White Australia policy, to follow instead a policy which encourages the use of black-grown maize. No one is a greater supporter and champion of the Empire than I am, but our first duty is to the people of this country. If the boot were on the wheat leg instead of on the maize leg, there would be no doubt where our friends of the Country party would stand. I appeal to them to broaden their views, and admit that even the maize-growers must live. For the manufacturers of cornflour in Australia, the home market is the only one open to them ; but it is proposed by this tariff amendment to deal the manufacturers a staggering blow. In the aggregate there are thousands of people dependent for a living on this industry. It has been in existence for over 40 years, and never during the whole of that time has it sweated its employees, or paid low wages. At the present time, it is paying more than the basic wage to its employees. It has maintained those honorable traditions of business which are eminently desirable in this materialistic age, and has treated its employees as human beings. It has refused to be alarmed by the depression, and has during the darkest days gone on paying good wages.
The Tariff Board, in its report, says that the Australian manufacturers have been making inordinate profits. The board cannot prove that assertion, nor does it attempt to do so. It conveys the impression that the manufacturers in England and Scotland are inspired by philanthropic motives and are indifferent to profits, and so are able to produce cornflour at very low prices. It is suggested by the board that the well-being of Australia depends upon the price of cornflour being reduced. This comes on the heels of a declaration by a judge of an industrial court that the cost of living has come down to such an extent that the basic wage in New South Wales should be reduced by 2s. a week. While the old duty
I do not suppose that we shall be able to buy cornflour any cheaper in Australia if this duty is reduced. The Tariff Board states on page 7 of its report - ‘
The duty of 2d. per lb. represents an ad valorem duty of approximately 00 per cent, on’ a well-known and expensive brand of cornflour packed in England.
An attempt is made to show that in England cornflour can be bought for 2d. or 3d. per lb., but the fact is that Brown and Poison’s cornflour is being sold in England to-day at 9d. per lb., while the same cornflour is being made in Australia, and sold at 7d. per lb.
– I have already disproved that assertion.
– I did not hear the Minister’s statement; but I point ‘out that, if the price in England is 9d. per lb., that price is in sterling, which represents 11¼d. in Australian currency. Even if the price in Australia is 8d. per lb., that is still 3id. less than the price in England. Moreover, I am informed, and believe, that this firm established a factory in Australia, and continued to manufacture for some years. It made every effort to establish a business in this country, but failed even in this Eldorado, where it is said that the cornflour manufacturers are piling up riches beyond the dreams of avarice. Where is the evidence that the firm of Brown and Poison, in Scotland, is a benevolent institution, while the manufacturers in Australia are vampires sucking the people’s blood? There is no evidence to that effect. One day the Tariff Board says that the manufacturers of axe handles, for instance, need not be protected, because three Australian axe handles can be bought for the price of one imported handle. Then, the next day, the board says that cornflour ‘ is not deserving of protection because it * is making too much profit. It frowns upon one industry because it sells its product too cheaply, and upon another because it charges too much. The cornflour manufacturing industry has been in existence for more than 40 years, it has built up a. great business, it sells a good article, and no one has ever complained of the price or pf the duty. Because of this, and because we should do nothing to reduce the chances of employment for Australian citizens, I ask the Minister to leave things as they are, and to give the Australian industry an opportunity to continue.
Mr. PATERSON (Gippsland) [5.37 J. - The right honorable member for North “ Sydney (Mr. Hughes) said that the cornflour manufacturing industry had been in existence for 40 years, so that, presumably, if wa3 in existence before there was any protective duty at all. He said that members of the Country party would be more disposed to support this industry if it were connected with wheat rather than with maize; but I assure him that, while a certain amount of wheat is grown in my electorate, a great deal more maize is grown there. My electorate produces 85 per cent, of all maize grown in Victoria. However, the question before us is : Are we to give this cornflour industry reasonable and adequate protection, taking into the consideration the higher price that -it has to pay for maize or to make the duty so extremely high that excessive profit taking will be possible? Those honorable members who have spoken in favour of retaining the old duty have failed to furnish a satisfactory reply to that part of the board’s report in which it is stated that the price for Australian cornflour, oven after deducting the whole of the cost of maize and labour, is still higher than the price at which cornflour can be imported, exchange paid, from abroad. Much has been said this afternoon about the higher price which the Australian manufacturers have to pay for maize, and it is true that they have to pay more than is paid by their competitors overseas, but the board has made allowance for that. It points out that the price of Australian cornflour is £39 6s. 3d., while the cheaper < variety of Scottish cornflour is sold in Britain at £10 5s. a ton, and can be imported, freight and exchange paid, for £17 5s.1d. The board goes on to show that at 5s. a bushel the cost of the maize required to produce a ton of Australian cornflour is £13 6s. Sd., and the factory wages costs amount to £5 a ton, making a total of £18 6s. 8d. If we subtract this from the selling price of £39 6s. 3d. for Australian cornflour, we have still a margin of almost £21 left to cover overhead charges and profits.
– That £39 includes the cost of delivery to the premises of the buyer.
– That may be so, but, with a margin of £21, there is nothing very remarkable in that. The point is that cornflour can be landed in Australia from Great Britain, exchange and freight paid, for £17 5s.1d. a ton, and that apparently the Australian manufacturers want about £21 in addition to the cost of the maize and labour in order to cover overhead charges, and provide themselves with a profit.
– Will the honorable member say why the retail price of cornflour is so high in England?
– There certainly seems to be something in the argument that cornflour is sold more cheaply in Australia in proportion to its wholesale price than it is sold overseas. We cannot fix retail prices in Australia, but we can ensure that the wholesale price is not unreasonably high.
– Have we any assurance that imported cornflour will be sold in Australia any cheaper if the duty is removed ?
– There is no suggestion that the duty should be entirely removed; the proposal is to reduce the duty by a reasonable amount. It is obvious from the figures I have quoted that the local industry enjoys more protection than it needs.
– Why should the duty be reduced below the level at which it stood when the honorable member was a Minister of the Crown?
– The Tariff Board has gone into the matter, and it must be realized that the total protection afforded to-day, inclusive of exchange, is greater than was the protection during the time to which the right honorable member has referred.
– The price of maize is higher.
– That may be; but the Tariff Board has made a comprehensive inquiry, and as one who represents a great number of maize-growers, and is prepared to give to the secondary section of the industry just as generous treatment as that which is given to the primary section, I believe that the Tariff Board has made out a strong case.
– Is the honorable member in favour of a proportionate decrease in the duty on maize?
– No.. The right honorable gentleman does not appear to realize that the duty of 3s. 6d. per cental on maize represents little more than id. per lb. on cornflour, while the duty on cornflour is 2d. and 3d. per lb., which means that the secondary product has a much higher duty, proportionately. I am prepared to grant a fair duty to both sections of the industry, . and in my opinion, the recommendation of the Tariff Board is fair to those engaged in the manufacture of cornflour.
– Despite the point that has been raised by the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) the fact remains that cornflour manufactured in Great Britain is the product of black-grown maize that has been purchased for practically 2s. per cental, and, on the Minister’s own showing, cornflour produced therefrom, ifsold at 3d. per lb. In Australia 5s. per bushel is paid for maize which is grown under white man’s conditions from the start to finish; yet the price of the Australianmade cornflour is still only 8d. per lb. Therefore, it cannot be claimed that Australian manufacturers of corn- flour have fleeced the public. History has demonstrated that, once the local manufacturer is eliminated, consumers are left absolutely at the mercy of the importers. I believe iu a White Australia, and, whether the cornflour comes from England, Ireland, . Scotland, or Wales, I object to its importation so long as its origin is “ black.” Nobody who countenances the importation of blackdown products can claim to be a true adherent of the White Australia policy. As members of an Australian Parliament, honorable members should protect the interests of white people. I am prepared to go before the maize-growers and debate the matter with the honorable member for Gippsland, for I am satisfied that the growers would be averse to wiping out this valuable secondary industry.
.- This subject was re-opened because, rightly or wrongly, some honorable members thought that the debate upon it had, to some extent, been stifled. I have listened with interest to the speeches of the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) and others; but I do not think they have broken new ground. The report of the Tariff Board discloses that an excessive profit has been made in the industry, not bythe retailer, but between the manufacturer and retailer, and its annual report specially deals with the subject of cornflour, in these words -
In the cornflour industry the board ascertained that in the United Kingdom the production costs (excluding the principal raw material - maize), profits and delivery charges to f.o.b. were from £4 9s. 5d. to £10 14s. 5d. per ton. In Australia the margin between maize costs and selling prices was £25 19s. 7d. per ton. In other words, if maize were available to the United Kingdom and Australian manufacturers at equal costs, it was costiug £20 in Australia to do what was being done in the United Kingdom for £11 at most, and this despite the fact that direct wages amounted to only £5 in Australia. After allowing for the difference in currencies the board considered the disparity too great, and recommended that the duties be reduced.
That answers the question raised by the right honorable member for North Sydney.
– Then why is cornflour sold retail at 9d. per lb. packet?
– The retail figures for Great Britain and Australia are very close, and not as set out in the circular sent to honorable members. The right honorable member urged that at all costs we should preserve this Australian industry. I remind him that the desire of the Tariff Board and of the Minister is to do the fair thing by all Australian industries; the board is not the pooh bah that the right honorable member alleges, and it has at its disposal facilities for obtaining information which are not enjoyed by honorable members. Its annual report contains this paragraph -
The board considers that a reasonable duty to protect an efficient, economic industry should be high enough to raise the landed cost of an overseas product to the level which will -
compensate the local manufacturer for the higher cost (if any) of Aus tralian labour;
offset the higher costs (if any) of raw materials . and overhead charges; and
provide a marginal advantage in favour of the Australian manufacturer.
The board has put Australia first, just as Great Britain puts Britain, first in her considerations. In implementing the recommendations of the board, my only desire is to ensure the greatest possible prosperity for Australia. Yet, I have received a letter couched in strong terms from a prominent firm in Sydney which manufactures cornflour expressing regret “ that any Minister should show such bias towards an industry which is 100 per cent. Australian “. That is just as unfair as it is to attack the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) because of his candid attitude towards the position on maize. The letter states that I was wrong in declaring that’ Brown and Polson’s cornflour is made in Australia under licence. I advanced that as an opinion partly to show that the quality of the Australian product was well up to that of cornflour made in Great Britain. I am informed that this firm “ paid for the rights and interests of the name of Brown and Poison in Australasia “ - which is near enough to what I said. The letter objects to my extract from the Australasian Grocer to the effect that the retail price of Brown and Poison’s cornflour was quoted at 8d. per lb., and declares that in most retail shops this cornflour is sold at7d. per lb., or even for 61/2d. per lb. The October number of the
Australasian Grocer shows that Brown and Poison’s cornflour is retailed at 8d. per lb. packet, while “ Comma “, which is made in Victoria, is sold for 10d., which disproves the claim made in the circular. ,
– What’ is .the price of Brown and Poison’s cornflour in England ?
– I quoted it the other night as 8d. per lb. packet.
– Of course that is 8d. sterling, which is different from 8d. in Australian currency.
– As the honorable member for Gippsland has pointed out, the Government cannot control retail prices, but it is perturbed about that great disparity between the wholesale charges for cornflour in Great Britain and Australia. Another part of the letter refers to an interjection which I am reported to have made while the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) was speaking as to- the effect that “ the duty was lcl. in 921, and -Jd. later in that year”. As honorable members know, interjections that are recorded in another member’s speech easily escape one’s attention. The year should have been 1901, and not 1921, as was erroneously recorded in Hansard. L see no reason why the committee should not support the vote that was recorded the other evening in this chamber, for it’ is in conformity with the report of the Tariff Board, gives adequate protection to the industry, and accords with the Ottawa agreement.
Silling suspended from 5.58 to 8 “p.m.
.- The acceptance by the Government of the Senate’s request for a lower duty on this sub-item is a serious - mistake. As the Minister for Trade and Customs ‘ (Mr. White) has indicated that he is prepared to refer it back to the Tariff Board for further consideration, the right thing to do is not to disturb the status quo pending such investigation, because there is good reason to believe that, after having obtained further information concerning conditions in the industry, the board will substantially alter the recommendation upon which the Government is now acting. I cannot understand the board’s logic, for while it is alleged that excessive profits are being made by Australian manufacturers of cornflour, aud that, therefore, a lower duty should be imposed, neither the board nor the Government is able to inform its mind with regard to profits being gained by foreign manufacturers of this commodity. But, on the evidence available to us and from our knowledge of trade practices in other countries, we may quite safely reason that, if excessive profits are being made by Australian manufacturers, quite extraordinary profits are enjoyed by their foreign rivals, who obtain maize, the raw material, at a lower price than that ruling in Australia, and whose labour and other costs are very much less. It follows, therefore, that since there is little difference between the prices charged for cornflour of foreign manufacture, and those of the Australian article, the oversea manufacturer, being in the enjoyment of the advantages which I have mentioned, must be making much greater profits than his Australian competitor. I say further, that if, as is alleged, the price of this commodity in Australia is higher than it should be, lower duties will not prove to be the right corrective. On the contrary, if, as seems likely, the foreign manufacturer secures a stronger hold of the Australian market, he will have further opportunity to exploit it. Obviously, the situation calls for the appointment of a pricefixing tribunal. If, as has been alleged, the Australian manufacturers are making excessive profits, why have not overseas firms established branch factories in this country, for the purpose of securing some of the advantages which, we are told, this market offers to local manufacturers? This is a phase of the industry which is not mentioned in the report of the Tariff Board, nor is it suggested that, if a lower duty is imposed, the price charged for cornflour will be less than present rates, though no one can deny that interference with the measure of protection now enjoyed by the Australian industry will seriously affect local manufacturers, and, through them, those maizegrowers who depend upon this market. It is estimated that between 400,000 and 500,000 bushels of maize is required to meet the Australian demand for cornflour, and that the area given over to the production of this grain is between 15,000 and 18,000 acres. If the duty is lowered, and if, because of the more intense competition from overseas, local manufacturers lose a substantial proportion of their present trade, losses will also ‘be sustained by Australian maize-growers. About 500 persons are directly employed in the manufacture of cornflour in this country, and employment is given to a considerable number of other persons in the handling and marketing of it. It must be borne in mind, too, that whilst the Australian manufacturer uses maize grown by white labour, overseas competitors obtain the bulk of their supplies from countries which employ cheap coloured labour. So, unless adequate protection is given to the Australian manufacturer of cornflour he will be exposed to the risk of being driven out of business. There is a strong case for further consideration by the Government of the Senate’s requested amendment which, if accepted, will make the duty lower than it has been at any time since the commencement of federation.
– That is not so.
– The duty now proposed is13/4d. per lb. in the British tariff, whereas the lowest previous duty was 2d. per lb.
– The British rate has been down to11/2d. per1b. since federation.
– The Minister’s statement is not in accordance with information which has been supplied to me.
– Expressed in terms of Australian currency, the honorable- member for Hindmarsh is right.
– I leave it to the Minister to prove that what I have said is not correct. A reduction of the duty from 3d. per lb. British, to13/4d. per lb. is altogether too drastic. I therefore, hope that the Government will give this matter further consideration, in the interests, not only of the manufacturers, but also of those primary producers who grow maize for the Australian market. Many growers are producing maize as a side line and, possibly, depend upon its sale to manufacturers of cornflour to enable them to carry on their farming operations. A number of settlers on the Murray River reclaimed areas, in addition to growing maize, engage in dairy-farming and fruit-growing. We should not by interfering with the duty on cornflour jeopardize their chances of making a decent living. I again urge the Government not to alter the duty on this sub-item until the Tariff Board has further investigated the . conditions of the industry.
Question - That the requested amendment be made - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. Bell.)
Majority . . . . 10
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.
Item 302 -
File and chisel handles unattached, per dozen, British,1s. 3d.; general. 1s.6d. ; or ad valorem, British, 50 per: cent.; general, 65 per cent.; whichever rate returns the higher duty.
Senate’s request -
Amend the item to make it - 302. Tool handles, unattached, viz.: -
Motion (by Mr. Guy) proposed -
That the requested amendment be made.
No question or amendment shall be proposed which is the same in substance as any question which, during the same session, has been resolved in the affirmative or negative.
The question before the Chair is exactly the same as was resolved by the committee last night. I therefore submit that it is out of order.
– Standing Order No. 125 applies to questions proposed by the Speaker, and, therefore, obviously applies to questions resolved in the House. The question before the Chair has not been resolved in the House.
– There is not a separate set of Standing Orders for the committee. Unless otherwise provided, the Standing Orders of the House apply equally to the committee. I submit that the point raised by the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green) is sound, and I ask. that it be given further consideration.
– I refer the honorable member to Standing Order No. 172, which reads -
No new clause or amendment shall be at any time proposed which is substantially the same as one already negatived by the committee, or which is inconsistent with one that has been already agreed to by the committee, unless a recommittal of the bill shall have intervened.
This standing order refers solely to questions resolved in committee. Reading the two standing orders together, it appears to me that, inasmuch as the resolution has been recommitted by the House, a question previously determined by the committee may now be resubmitted to the committee.
– In effect, the Assistant Minister is asking us to rescind a motion which the committee carried last night.
– The heading to committee “. If honorable members Standing Order No. 172 is “ Decision of committee not to be reversed in same will read the two standing orders they will find that No. 125 refers to questions resolved in the House and that No. 172 stipulates what may or may not be done by the committee. It seems to me perfectly clear, therefore, that the motion before the committee is in order.
– I refer you, sir, to Standing Order No. 126, which reads -
A resolution, or other vote of the House, may be read and rescinded; but no such resolution or other vote may be rescinded during the same session, unless seven days’ notice be given and at least one-half of the whole number of the members of the House vote: Provided that to correct irregularities or mistakes one day’s notice only shall be sufficient.
The question before the Chair is identical with that resolved by the committee last night. The committee is now asked to rescind that resolution. If this procedure is in order there are all sorts of possibilities.
– I submit that Standing Order No. 126 was deliberately intended to act as a safeguard against catch votes which would not correctly reflect the will of the House or the committee. Standing Order No. 172 relates to. new clauses and amendments. The item which has been recommitted is not a new clause, or an. amendment, but a request upon which the committee has already come to a decision.
– Standing Order No. 126, quoted by the honorable member for Richmond,’ and mentioned by the honorable member for Hindmarsh, refers only to questions resolved in the House.
– You have not yet ruled whether standing orders governing proceedings in the House cover also proceedings in committee. I submit that that question must first be decided..
– A matter cannot be resolved by the House until it has been passed and reported from the committee. I therefore rule that the motion by the Assistant Minister is in order.
Mr.ROSEVEAR (Dalley) [8.32]. - I intend to oppose the request. Last night the Minister and some of his supporters found it difficult to justify the Senate’s request, and after a good deal of discussion it was rejected. The Minister has not introduced any new facts to justify the reconsideration of this matter; he is not attempting to debate the matter on its merits, but is simply trying to manipulate the numbers in the committee. During the debate last night stress was laid on the evidence given before the Tariff Board by H. J. C. Beer, the president of the Axemen’s Association, and I remarked at the time that that gentleman had put forward two contentions. In one he asserted that no Australian timber, suitable for the manufacture of axe handles, is available in commercial quantities. On the other hand, we have the evidence of those who are so confident that, suitable timber is available in Australia in commercial quantities that, if they receive sufficient tariff protection, they are prepared to extend their factories and to build new ones. This gentleman’s evidence was directed at something which he did not understand, or else he wished to misrepresent the position to the board. Mr. Beer alao said that there was a possibility of a timber-feller working on a platform at some height from the ground meeting with a serious accident owing to an Australian axe handle breaking. He did not tell the board that American axe handles also are likely to break. He was more concerned about the quantities of suitable timber available in Australia than he was about the suitability of the Australian timber, and he neglected to mention the possibility of a man using .an American axe handle meeting with an accident. I have also discovered that Beer has another axe to grind. He has been giving evidence on behalf of overseas interests on the subject of saws. Apparently, he is a professional organizer on behalf of overseas interests. Great stress was placed upon his evidence as a supposed axeman, but it was not disclosed that he is also a professional urger on behalf of importers and is endeavouring to break down the tariff erected to protect Australian industries. Before this matter . is considered further, the Minister should submit substantial arguments to show why the decision recorded last night should be reversed. Unless that be done, the committee will not be treating the subject on its merits. The Government is using the forms of the House to manipulate the numbers and secure a majority in favour of a proposal, which, after full discussion, was rejected by the committee last night. Unless the
Minister is able to give good reasons why those who opposed the request last night should now reverse their vote, I hope that a majority will adhere to the decision previously recorded on this item.
.- Until this evening, I was under the impression that’ tariff schedules are dealt with on non-party lines. I have heard that so often that, in my innocence, I believed it to be true.
– What was the attitude of the honorable member on motor bodies?
– In dealing with the tariff schedule, I have voted according to my convictions. This matter was discussed at length last night, and a decision reached. Subsequently, if was rumoured that the item would be recommitted because the Government believed that it would be’ able to reverse the vote. Probably pressure has . been, brought to bear upon certain honorable members, but I hope that they will record their votes as they did last night. If they do not intend to do so, they should say why they have changed their opinions. Neither the Minister nor the Assistant Minister has given any reason why. this request should be reconsidered. No additional facts have been brought before the committee to justify the course which the Government is now taking. The voting last night was 27 against and 24 for the Government’s proposal,, making a total of 51, or roughly 10 more votes than are available to-night. If the Government secures a majority on this occasion, another belief which I have held will become an illusion.
– As no objection was raised when I voluntarily offered to recommit the item covering maize products including cornflour, I am wondering why such a strong protest should be made because this item has been recommitted. Some honorable members have said that they did not have an opportunity fully to discuss the Senate’s request with respect to cornflour, and the same can be said with respect to this item which has been recommitted to afford further opportunity for discussion. An essential point that seems .to he overlooked is that if the request is not acceded to the duties “will not be in conformity with the Ottawa agreement.
– How will the duties be contrary to the Ottawa agreement?
– Because they affect the importation of handles from Canada and also from Great Britain. I have already pointed out that even if the request bo accepted,” the Australian industry need not necessarily be injured, because Australian manufacturers can make handles from hickory imported in the log. Honorable members cannot close their eyes to the valuable report submitted by the Tariff Board, which has every facility for obtaining evidence from both sides. Why should some honorable members criticize the evidence of only one individual when testimony’ has been given on both sides? The board acts in a judicial capacity. It weighs the evidence submitted to it, and arrives at a conclusion as to the facts, and it is in a better position than honorable members to arrive at a reliable decision. In the course of some pertinent remarks, the board stated in its report -
The board is most anxious to avoid making a recommendation which will cause a serious setback to the industry. At the same time it cannot deny the rights of users of hickory handles to obtain their requirements at reasonable prices.
Would honorable members insist that hardwood should be used in the manufacture of all furniture ? It is not the same class of timber as imported hickory.
– It is just as good.
– The honorable member for Herbert is an enthusiastic advocate of the use of Queensland timbers, but while I recognize that that State produces timbers in greater variety than is to be found in other parts of Australia, the honorable member will admit that one class of timber is not suitable for every purpose. In. the southern States hardwood axe handles are made, and although they are quite good enough for household purposes, ample proof was submitted to the board that many timber-getters and bushmen prefer hickory handles, and are willing to pay a higher price for them. Is it suggested that these men should be penalized in buying the tools that they require for their work? They should not be saddled with a heavy duty because of State selfishness, nor should they be forced to use axe handles which they consider unsuitable. The board went on. to say-
The experience oi the last few years has shown that hickory handles are essential for certain purposes, and the board considers that the costs of such essential requirements should not be raised by duties imposed in an attempt to force users to purchase definitely inferior substitutes.
The members of the Tariff Board have Australian sentiments as strong as those of honorable, members who desire only Australian materials to be used ; but honorable members should exercise a sense of proportion, and not claim that simply because a. certain class of timber is grown in this country it is better than any tim-her procurable in other parts of the world. The board further stated -
The above table shows that under normal conditions the margin of preference may be insufficient to enable Canadian exporters to capture a very large proportion of the available Australian trade. Having regard to the fact that the handles imported from Canada are manufactured from American hickory, the board is of the opinion that no greater margin of preference is justified.
That, I think, is a fair report. Although some honorable members have predicted that injury will be done to local industries because of the board’s recommendations, they cannot point to any in which such injury has actually occurred. I shall watch the industry carefully,, but I urge the committee to accept the recommendation of the board. The board rnakes an economic survey of an industry, and, having a good idea of values, it is in a position to judge the merits ‘ of the requests made to it. If the committee adopts the recommendation it will be observing the spirit of the Ottawa agreement.
.- I hope that the committee will adhere to the decision reached by it last night. I do not pose as a timber expert, but last night I quoted evidence given by a Queensland expert who knows more about timber than do the members of the Tariff Board. I may be quite as competent to express an opinion on this subject as the members of that board; I am not aware, that they have more commonsense than a good many other persons in the community. Last evening I referred to opinions expressed by Mr. T. H. Winkworth, the owner of a factory in Cairns which 118es classes of timber recommended by Mr. Swain, chairman of the Queensland Forestry Board, who is a greater authority on timber than is the Tariff Board. He has made a lifelong study of Queensland woods, and spent a number of years in the forests of the United States of America. In a book written by him he states that Queensland hickory, although not quite so flexible, is stronger than American hickory.
– Is Queensland hickory readily available?
– There is plenty of it.
– But not in Melbourne.
– Melbourne is closer to Queensland than to North America, and Queensland is of much greater value to the southern States than is the United States of America. Personally I should be glad if Australia ceased to import any goods from that country.
– I agree with the honorable member on general principles, but we are now dealing with one of the exceptions.
– No exception should be made in this case. According to representatives of the Queensland Forestry Department who gave evidence before the Tariff Commission, and Mr. George Duffy, timber adviser to the Queensland Government, large quantities of hickory are to be found in that State. Mr. Duffy, who spent many years in North Queensland, stated that on an average the trees measured from 80 to 120 feet from the ground to the first limbs, and had a girth of from S to 9 feet. They are to be found from Gladstone to beyond Mareeba on the Atherton Tableland, a distance of SOO or 900 miles. We should use that hickory rather than timber grown in a foreign country. Because it has a majority in this committee the Government is prepared to reduce the duty on imported axe handles, and the excuse offered by the Minister is that the spirit of the Ottawa agreement must be observed. Are axe handles the only articles that it is necessary to import? I claim that the adze and the broad axe are much more dangerous tools than an ordinary axe, and the board admits that handles for those tools made in Australia are as satisfactory as those produced elsewhere. Australia has ample supplies of timbers for the manufacture of handles for axes of all kinds.
– I challenge the Minister’s statement that the board came to a decision on evidence regarding the relative 4 qualities of Australian and imported axe handles. Evidence in favour of handles made of local timber was given by an axeman who had used these handles in all his bush work, and had won a number of chopping competitions with them. He used one at the last Sydney Royal show, and said that he found handles made of Australian spotted, gum entirely satisfactory. The New South Wales and Victorian Railways Departments have given large orders for these handles, and it is reasonable to assume when such important public bodies are satisfied the local products possess qualities not recognized by the Tariff Board. Mr. M. B. Foley, a professional axeman of Limeburner’s Creek, New South Wales, stated in evidence before the board -
As a bush man since boyhood he has been getting his living through” the axe. For the past eight or nine months he has been cutting sleepers for the Forestry Commission and has been using three axes - two squaring axes and an American axe, all fitted with Australian spotted ginn handles. He has been using spotted gum handles for the last couple of years and one now in use for three months. One of the axes in use was for grooving, and a handle that will stand up to that will stand up to anything.
He has submitted the Australian-made article to the most gruelling tests and has found it as good as any imported handle. Mr. G. A. Duffy, chairman of the Timber Advisory Committee, Brisbane, and representing the Brisbane Handle Factory Limited, and C. A. Kruger and Son, Bundamba, Queensland, stated -
With the assistance of tariff protection, the industry has made steady progress, and prejudice against Australian handles has been gradually worn down though not entirely eliminated. If the present tariff protection is not altered, it will not be long before the standard of manufactured handles in Queensland will leave nothing to be desired by users of various tools, both in quality and price.
Mr. C. J. J. Watson, Wood Technologist of the Queensland Forest Service, also referred in his evidence to the excellent qualities of Queensland timbers. A Tasmanian merchant has sent to the mainland in the last five months 35,000 handles made by local companies, and repeat orders are being received. Despite that evidence, the Tariff Board, by some strange process of reasoning, expressed the opinion that the Australian handle was not so good as that made of American hickory; but, as the honorable member for Darling Downs (Sir Littleton Groom) has pointed out, this prejudice against Australian timbers is not new. Queensland maple is highly valued for furniture manufacture, and huge quantities of it are sent overseas for this purpose. Twenty-five years ago maple was not in demand for furniture making, and it was thought that good furniture could not be made without imported wood such as British walnut or oak, American oak or New Zealand kauri. So great was the prejudice against the use of Australian timbers that people were prepared to pay fancy prices for New Zealand kauri, stained in imitation of various other timbers. Not until the export of kauri was prohibited did Australian timbers become popular. The committee now has an. opportunity to assist to break down this prejudice. One honorable member, who spoke of the quality of American hickory for the purpose of making axe handles, said that, despite the tariff barrier, . 100,000 American hickory handles are imported into Australia every year. Honorable members speak of the wonderful durability of American hickory axe handles but, if 100,000 of them’ have to be imported each year to replace breakages, they cannot be of high quality. Such heavy importations suggest, first, that those who prefer the imported handles are prepared to pay the high price charged for them, and, secondly, that breakages must be numerous. The only direct evidence against Australian axe handles, on the ground of their lack of durability, came from a gentleman who, apparently, is an agent of overseas manufacturers. It is strange that his evidence should carry such weight with the Tariff Board, particularly when it was flatly contradicted by men who earn their livelihood as timbergetters. The agent to whom I have referred said that there was not sufficient quantities of suitable timber in Australia to justify setting up an industry to manufacture axe handles. His contention is disproved in the most convincing way by the fact that people are prepared to build factories, and to extend existing factories, for the manufacture of axe handles from Australian timbers. The evidence in favour of the existence of adequate supplies of suitable timber far outweighs that to the contrary. It would appear that the Government is piqued, and is determined to use its majority to reverse a decision arrived at by this committee after a full discussion. No new evidence has been adduced in favour of the American handle, or against the Australian-made article. The committee would be well advised to adhere to the decision at which it arrived last night.
. - The arguments . of the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) were both inconsistent and illogical. He quoted the evidence of Mr. M. B.Foley, a professional axeman, in favour of Australian axe handles; but, after all, that is the opinion of only one man. Against his opinion was that expressed by Mr. H. J. C. Beer, president of the Victorian Axemen’s Association, who submitted a statement signed by 168 axemen in that State. The honorable member for Dalley attempted to discount Mr. Beer’s evidence by saying that he was an agent for overseas manufacturers. The petition, signed by 168 axemen and submitted by Mr. Beer, reads -
We, the undersigned axemen or bushmen, consider that the present duty on hickory axe handles should be considerably reduced, as in our opinion there is no timber in Australia available in commercial quantities suitable for making axe handles. It is dangerous for us to use Australian handles in our work, because they are not reliable.
Surely the opinion of those 168 men should weigh with us. They do not say that there is no timber in Australia suitable for the making of axe handles ; they say that suitable timber is not available in commercial quantities. Who is better able than these men to determine whether timber ispresent in commercial quantities? The Tariff Board’s report is not based on the view of one man, for evidence was taken from experts connected with the Forestry Commission, New South Wales, and the Queensland Forest Service, and others. Mr. N. W. Jolly, Forestry Commissioner of New South Wales, said -
During the -last two years the commission has tested various New South Wales timbers, and has obtained very good reports indeed in respect of Pseudomorous brundniana - known either as axe handle wood or Australian hickory - Metrosideros teptopetala (ironwood), and Tristania laurina (water gum). Casuarinacunninghamiana (river oak) and Eucalyptus bicosta (Eurabbie) have received favorable, though less enthusiastic, reports. . - .
He went on to say that these timbers are inaccessible, and that their exploitation would mean the setting up of an uneconomic industry. He added that although Australian axe handles may be suitable for domestic use, they do not compare with imported handles for bush purposes. I shall support the amendment moved by the Minister.
Mr.R. GREEN (Richmond) [9.8].- Had the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. E. J. Harrison) been here last night, he would not have wearied the committee with a repetition of the arguments put forward then. When the Minister moved for the recommittal of this item, I thought that he had some further evidence to submit to the committee. The only new point raised by him was that the decision arrived at last night was not in conformity with the Ottawa agreement. I do not know how that can be. In the original tariff schedule, sub-item 302 b covered “ Tool handles unattached, n.e.i.”, and were subject to duties, British, 4s. 6d., and general, 7s. 6d. a dozen, or ad valorem, 50 per cent, and 65 per cent, respectively. The Senate’s request is for “ Tool handles unattached, viz.: (a) Axe, adze, hammer over 24 inches, mattock and pick, per dozen, British, 3s. ; general, 4s. 6d. a dozen, or ad valorem, 30 per cent, and 45 per cent.” Under the original schedule, the difference in favour of the British article was 15 per cent. The Senate’s proposal is for a similar margin, so that
I cannot see how we have violated the terms of the Ottawa agreement.
– The margin is the same, but the rates are different. We cannot accept a rate higher than that recommended by the Tariff Board. That is where the Ottawa agreement is affected.
– Under the original schedule, the rates were British 4s. 6d., and general 7s. 6d. a dozen - a margin of 3s. a dozen. in favour of the British article. The present proposal is for duties of 3s. and 4s. 6d. - a difference of only 1s. 6d. a dozen.
– The honorable member is not comparing like with like.
– If the committee considers this matter impartially, it must conclude that there was no necessity for a recommittal. Only two speeches from the Government side of the House have been made - one by the Minister, who spoke of the effect on the Ottawa agreement, and the other by the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. E. J. Harrison), who rehashed last night’s arguments. The Government proposes to reduce the margin of preference previously granted to Britain, yet it says that we must not commit any breach of the Ottawa agreement.
.- The statement of the Minister contained no substantial reason for recommittal. He said that the object of the Government was to bring this item into conformity with the Ottawa agreement. The original schedule was framed to comply with the arrangement entered into at Ottawa.
– But only in relation to the foreign rates of duty.
– We understood that the duties provided complied with those necessary under the Ottawa agreement, but the Minister now tells us that the duty on axe handles requested by the Senate is the one necessary to comply with the provisions of the Ottawa agreement. That story is a bit too thin for us. It is a poor compliment to the committee that the Government should seek this evening to alter, a decision made last night after a very full discussion. In my opinion, such tactics are unfair. It is well known that in consequence of certain circumstances some members of the committee who voted on this item last night will not be present to vote upon it to-night. It seems to me that the Government is taking undue advantage of that fact. In fairness to those of us who thought that this subject had been finally dealt with last night, I ask honorable members now present who voted in favour of the Senate’s request last night to ensure that the decision then reached shall not be reversed. The course that the Government is now taking will tend to destroy whatever little confidence the people may still have in it.
– I am sorry that it is necessary for me to discuss this item again ; but the speech of the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) shows” that he, at least, is under a misapprehension, so, if I can enlighten him, the time spent on this recommittal will not bc wasted. The honorable member said that the schedule sent from this chamber to the Senate provided for such duties as would give effect to the provisions of the Ottawa’ agreement. He should know that when the agreement was introduced some 400 increases of foreign duty had immediate application to give the prescribed margin of British preference. But the rates of duty were all subject to revision by the Tariff Board. Since then many reports have been received recommending certain alterations nf duty, as in the item being discussed, but preserving the margins required under the Ottawa agreement. In these circumstances, the honorable member should really express his thanks to me for correcting the misunderstanding under which he has been labouring.
On the general subject of tool handles, I remind the committee that the Tariff Board made the following comments in its report: -
The principal classes of handles on which these duties were requested are handles for small tools, such as chisels, files, small hammers, hatchets, saws, screwdrivers, handles for certain farmyard and garden tools such as forks, rakes, hoes, and spades and handles for shovels.
I hope that the committee will realize the wisdom of approving of the duties requested by the Senate, which are in accordance with the recommendations of the Tariff Board.
.- It. might be thought from the speeches on this subject, that this was a question of admitting handles on & free-trade basis; but I. remind the committee that even if the Senate’s request be agreed to, a substantial duty will remain on imported axe handles. I make no comparison between the respective qualities of hickory and spotted gum for the manufacture of handles, because I am not competent to judge the merits of either.. But the Tariff Board, in its report, observed that - ‘
Men who make their living with the axe should have the right to choose the class or’ handle they use. It is unlikely that timbergetters are prejudiced in favour of hickory when they know that the use of Austraiian timber would enlarge the avenue for their own employment.
No attempt is being made to force axemen to buy hickory handles. The board also pointed out that locally manufactured axe handles cost only from one-half to onethird the landed duty-paid cost of imported handles. Those who prefer the locally manufactured handle may procure it at a price considerably less than that of the imported article. If the higher duty desired by some honorable members were agreed to, imported handles would cost four times, as much as the locallymade handles. The duty now proposed is 45 per cent., and this, allowing 25 per cent, exchange, 10 per cent, primage, and 10 or 15 per cent., natural protection, would bring the full measure of protection enjoyed by the local article up to about 100 per cent. In all the circumstances, I think there is no justification, for refusing the Senate’s request.
– I had not heard until this evening that the terms “of the Ottawa agreement could be. stretched so far as to include the United States of America. I do not know what country will next be included within the terms of the agreement. The great bulk of the axe handles imported into Australia are made from hickory grown in the United States of America. I do not desire to be unduly critical of the Tariff Board, but according to a newspaper report, some of the advice tendered by it to the Government in connexion with the tobacco industry was not based on. reliable information.
Let us turn for a moment to Mr. H. J. C. .Beer, to whom the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. E. J. Harrison) referred. If honorable members consult the report of the Tariff Board on saws, they will ascertain that this Mr. Beer represented at that inquiry Messrs. Crownshaw, Chapman and Company, Sheffield, United Kingdom. The gentleman is, as a matter of fact, the agent of foreign traders. It is quite easy for us to understand that such an energetic person would find it a simple matter to collect 168 signatures to a petition for presentation to the Tariff Board, but the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) has directed attention to the opinion of a skilled axeman, which does not bear out the view expressed in Mr. Beer’s petition. Mr. Beer is simply an urger for foreign business, and is not at all interested in the welfare of Australian industries.
Mr. BERNARD CORSER (Wide Bay) ‘9.29] .-The speech of the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) a few minutes ago, revealed the folly of this Parliament delegating to the Tariff Board, its right to determine rates of duty.’ If discussion cannot affect these duties, why does not the Minister gazette the duties and save time and money? It has been shown, on occasions, that the Tariff Board, in recommending rates of duty, does not always fully analyse the evidence submitted to it or give due weight to the experience of the persons who come before it. Honorable members have failed likewise in that respect. We have heard a good deal about the evidence of Mr. Beer, the president of the Victorian Axemen’s Association, but his evidence is refuted by the following evidence of Mr. M. B. Foley, professional axeman, of New South Wales: -
As a bushman since boyhood, I have been getting my living through the axe. For the l>u.st eight or nine months I have been cutting sleepers for the Forestry Commission, and have been using three axes - two squaring axes and an American axe - all fitted with Australian spotted gum handles. I have been using spotted gum handles for the last couple of years, and one now in use for three months. One of the axes in use was for grooving, and a handle that will stand up to that will stand up to anything.
Many other practical and professional ii semen gave similar evidence before the board, yet. that body ignored it, and based its recommendations on the evidence of the representatives of the importing interests. It has been stated that the timber-getter should have the right, if he so desires, to use imported hickory handles, but the timber-getter who prefers imported handles must remember that this Parliament has protected the Australian timber industry in order to ensure his livelihood, and on that ground alone he should object to the use of imported timber.
– Did not 168 bushmen sign a petition protesting against “the duty on hickory axe. handles?
– Even the honorable member himself would find no difficulty in getting a similar number of men to sign a petition in favour of the importation of Japanese buttons. The Minister has stated that the request must be acceded to in order to conform with section 12 of the Ottawa agreement; but I oppose this item as I opposed that section of the agreement, on the ground that it places the responsibility of this Parliament too much in the hands of the Tariff Board. It has been stated that Australian timbers are not suitable for axe handles; but I contend that there is no better timber in the world for that, purpose than Australian spotted gum, which, according to experts, will stand a greater pressure per square inch than any other timber. Australian hardwoods are now being largely used in the construction of houses and furniture, and for mining purposes. It has taken a long time to break down the prejudice against local timber. At one time there was a prejudice against Australian boots and hats, but to-day few people in this country wear the imported articles. By discouraging Australian industries such as this, we are bringing about more and more unemployment. It is to our own advantage to manufacture our requirements from our own raw materials. ‘ Australian timber is now being largely used, not only for tool handles generally, but also for parts of agricultural vehicles which, a few seasons ago, were made exclusively of American timber. The Tariff Board’s recommendation is contrary to the evidence submitted to it, and is another instance of its recent efforts to put a knife into some of our secondary industries.
.- The Minister has told us to-night that we must accept this item if we are to give effect to the Ottawa agreement. There was a lengthy discussion on this item yesterday, but not one word was mentioned of that agreement. The Minister has charged the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) with being innocent of the nature of article 12, yet, apparently, yesterday he himself was equally uninformed.. The honorable member for “Wentworth (Mr. E. J. Harrison) went ‘ to a lot of trouble to quote the evidence of Mr. Beer, the president of the Axemen’s Union. That gentleman may be a high official of the organization, but he is evidently not a good axeman. Some honor-‘ able members seem to attach a lot of importance to the fact that the petition of protest against the duties on hickory axe handles was signed by 168 axemen, but I suggest that any one could get that number of persons or more to sign almost any petition.
– Those axemen did not say that the Australian timber was not suitable.
– They said that the timber was not available in commercial quantities, and in saying that they were guided largely by the quantity of timber available in Victoria. Had they had a thorough knowledge of ( the Australian timber industry, they would have recognized that huge quantities of suitable timber are available in some of the other States. Mr. Swain stated in evidence that suitable timber was available in abundance in Queensland, and also in the northern part of New South Wales. That gentleman, in his official capacity as chairman of the Forestry Board of Queensland, visited the timber areas of those two States and gained first hand knowledge of the industry. He has also’ inspected the timber areas of the United States of America and Africa, and therefore should know at least as much as the president, of the Axemen’s Association of Victoria of the suitability or otherwise of Australian timbers for tool handles. The greatest axeman in the Commonwealth has won many of his championships with axes fitted with Australian handles, and although he has at times to cut blocks 15 feet or 16 feet from the ground, he has never to my knowledge suffered any hurt on account of using local handles*
– The Minister stated that one of the reasons for the recommittal of this item was to afford opportunity for further discussion. I presume that that opportunity was to be given to those honorable members who did not speak last night. The only honorable member who has spoken to-night and did not speak last night, is the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. E. J. Harrison).
– The honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Hunter) also spoke.
– Apparently this item was recommitted to give the honorable member for Wentworth and the honorable member for Maranoa an opportunity to express their opinions. The Minister has certainly paid a very high compliment to them, because over two hours of the time of the committee has already been taken up through that concession to them. That is the highest honour that has been paid to any honorable member during this session.
The Minister stated that the report of the Tariff Board had not been fully considered last night, but I remind honorable members that the report now before us is the same as was before us last night. Nothing new has occurred, except the Minister’s reference to the Ottawa agreement.
– That is the all-important point.
– If it is so important, why was it not mentioned last night? References to the Ottawa agreement no longer impress members of this Parliament, or the community. Some honorable members who voted on this question last night will not be present to record their votes on it to-night. The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. E. J. Harrison) referred to a petition signed by 168 Victorian axemen. Of course, we must accept the petition as it appears before us, but we do not know the circumstances in which it was canvassed,’ and we should remember that it refers to Victorian conditions only. I am informed by those qualified to express an opinion that in Queensland and New South Wales suitable timber for the making of axe handles is available in sufficient quantities. At the present time, it is necessary to provide as much employment as possible in the timber-getting industry, and we should be careful not to do anything likely to throw these men out of work.
.- It is necessary to put forward the views of those who have to use axe handles. There is a duty of 45 per cent, on handles from America, which is the only country from which we import them. The exchange adds another 25 per cent, and primage 10 per cent., making the protection equal to 80 per cent. At the present time, I am operating a sawmill, and I know that the axemen attached to it say that it is necessary for them to use American axe handles, especially for broad axe work, as handles for this class of axe are not made in Australia. The American handles do not compete with the Australian-made article, which is only half the price, and is purchased where possible by reason of its cheapness. If the excessive duty is allowed to remain, the only effect will be that those who must have American handles will have to pay more dearly for them.
.- One might be pardoned for believing that this is not an Australian parliament, because every time an Australian industry is under consideration, it is made the target for a battery of hostile criticism. Last night, ihe committee decided upon a certain course of action in regard to axe handles, and refused to make an amendment requested by the Senate. Tonight we are having the whole debate over again, because the Minister has discovered that we are cutting across the provisions of the Ottawa agreement. The Leader of the Country Party (Dr. Earle Page) said that the axemen working around his mill were anxious to obtain American axe handles. There is nothing to prevent them from getting the handles and paying the old rate of duty. If Australia is good enough for them to live in, Australian-made axe handles should be good enough for them to use. The evidence submitted to the Tariff Board proved conclusively that the Australian article was equally as good as the imported. If we adopt this policy in regard to other industries, we shall very soon be merely “ wood and water-joeys “ for nations on the other side of the world. The reason stated by the Minister for having the bill recommitted is not the true one. The real reason is that some honorable members, who voted against the Senate’s requested amendment last night, are not present to-night, and the Government has in the meantime whipped up a few more of its own supporters.
– I desire to inform honorable members that two distinguished visitors, Lord Apsley and Captain W. P. Crawford Greene are within the precincts of the House. Lord Apsley is no stranger to Australia, as this is his third visit. He was Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department in 1922, and was Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Minister for Transport from 1925 to 1928. At the present time, he represents Southampton in the House of Commons. Captain Greene is an Australian by birth, being a son of the late Mr. G. H. Greene, who was a member of the Legislative Council of New South Wales. Captain Greene has had a distinguished military career, and served in France and Mesopotamia. At the present time, he represents Worcester in the House of Commons. With the concurrence of honorable members, I shall provide these gentlemen with seats on the floor of the House beside the Speaker’s chair.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear !
Loral Apsley and Captain Greene thereupon entered, and were seated accordingly.
– As Chairman of the Overseas Parliamentary Association, I invite honorable members to meet our distinguished visitors in the lounge, and for that purpose I shall suspend the sitting.
Motion (by Mr. Archdale Parkhill.) -by leave - agreed to -
That Standing Order No. 70 - Opposed business after 11 p.m. - be suspended for the remainder of the sitting.
In committee (Consideration of Senate’s requests resumed (vide page 4207).
.- I am extremely disappointed at the obstinacy of the Minister and the Government in again bringing forward this matter and so endeavouring to strike yet another blow at Australian industry, and open the door even more widely to the importation of inferior goods from o verseas. As has been the case withmany other fiscal sins committed by the Government, this is done in the name of Ottawa.
I have had some personal experience in. connexion with axe handles, and, because of that and my early life in the outback, have taken a particular interest in this Australian industry. In the Darling and other electorates there grows a timber called mulga. Honorable members representing Mallee districts claim that mallee is destructive to axe handles, while those who have ironbark in their electorates say that that timber is even worse than mallee. In describing the adamantine qualities of mulga, 1 need only say that, if the toughness of mallee is multiplied by that of ironbark, you reach approximately the toughness of the mulga of Central Australia. Only recently I observed the use of Australian axe handles some 600 miles inland by a number of men who are supplying wood to Broken Hill. Some eighteen months ago the attention of the men was drawn . to the fact that Australian-made axe handles could be procured - they had previously patronized the American article, at great co3t to themselves - and there came along a complimentary bundle of some three dozen axe handles made locally from Australian timber. After testing them most severely, the men declared that they were the best axe handles they had ever used. Incidentally, since I came to Canberra, I have found that one Australian axe handle has outlasted four American handles. 1 do not say that some American handles are not good; but, through the desire to get as many handle’s as possible from a flitch, and to turn them out rapidly, American manufacturers are marketing an article that is practically worthless although expensive to purchase. Many handles are made of imitation hickory. The retention of this duty is important to those who use axe handles, and who support Australian industry, for it definitely enables Australian manufacturers to produce an article that compares favorably with the imported product. Therefore, I strongly urge the committee to resist the Senate’s request.
.- “When last I spoke on this item, I ventured the opinion that the proposed reduction of theduty could not be justified on the ground that it was in any way affected by the provisions of the Ottawa agreement, and I now say, deliberately, it is to the Minister’s discredit that he should have put forward this defence. I am forced to the conclusion that the honorable gentleman has not been so frank with the committee as he might have been. The figures dealing with the importations prove that this item is not even remotely related to the agreement made at Ottawa. In 1931-32, our imports of axe handles from the United Kingdom were valued at £442; from Canada, £2,207; and from the United States of America, £11,186.
– That is quite correct-
– This being the case, it is beyond dispute that the item has been recommitted in the interests of importers of axe handles from the United States of America.
– Not at all.
– The figures which I have just given bear out my statement, and I regret that the Minister has been so unreliable. I definitely charge him with not being so frank as he should have been, and with endeavouring to persuade the committee that, because of an article in the Ottawa agreement, it is now necessary to reconsider its decision with respect to this particular item. In 1931-32 our importations of axe handles from the
United States of America were approximately five times greater than those from Canada. The figures for 1930-31 are even more impressive. In that year, no axe handles were imported from Canada; but from the United States of America they totalled in value £24,465. Last year, as I have stated, the trade bad receded to £11,186. Thus it is evident that the Government desires, by reducing the duty, to make up to importers of American axe handles what they had lost in trade to the Australian manufacturer. It is almost inconceivable that the Government, which claims that its aim is to promote Australian interests, should lend itself to a proposal that will imperil the future of this important local industry. In the discussion of other tariff items, the reasons advanced by the Government for a reduction of duties have been that local manufacturers have been taking unfair advantage of the protection given to them, and have been penalizing Australian consumers. They have urged that competition, preferably competition from overseas, is necessary to keep down prices. That argument cannot be sustained in connexion with this item. We have been told that three Australian axe handles can be purchased for the price of one imported handle. The Government, in seeking to reduce the duty, is not treating the Australian industry fairly. It is prepared to encourage, not an Empire-grown product, but the product of the United States of America, a country which has little trade sympathy with Australia. Although we import heavily in several lines from that country, it buys practically nothing from us. The Minister should certainly explain, if be can, why the Government is showing preference for foreign interests. Clearly this is now the policy of the Government. It would not be wide of the truth to speak of it as an importers’ government, because it gives such scant consideration to Australian products. It is remarkable that an industry such as the one covered by this item, an industry which has proved its capacity to supply Australia’s needs, should now be jeopardized by a lowering of the protection which, hitherto, it has enjoyed. We have ample supplies of timber suitable for all classes of axe handles, but the Government is determined to sacrifice this- Australian industry by giving preference to the product of a country that buys so little from us.
Question - That the requested amendment be made - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. Bell.)
Majority . . . . 5
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.
Resolutions reported ; reports adopted. Motion (by Mr. White) proposed -
That the bill, amended accordingly, be returned to the Senate.
– I object to the bill, as amended, being returned to the Senate. To-night the Government took advantage of a certain set of circumstances to have rescinded a motion carried by the committee last night. You, Mr. Speaker, of course, are not aware of what has occurred in committee.
– Order! The honorable member may not refer to what has taken place in committee.
– The whole of the circumstances are known to honorable members. I have supported the Government more often than I have opposed it, believing that it had some sense of responsibility, and, particularly, decency.
– Order! The honorable gentleman must realize that it is incumbent on him to use parliamentary language, and to deal with the question before the Chair.
– It has always been my aim to use parliamentary language; but it is most difficult for me to do so in this case, and for that reason I am exercising considerable restraint. It is not the value of the article affected, but the principle involved, that matters. Later, honorable members may have an opportunity to comment on the ignominious defeat of the Government on another matter.
– Order I The honorable member may give reasons why the bill should not be returned to the Senate, but may not continue along the lines he is now following.
– My indignation at the tactics that have been employed by the Government is such that I find it difficult to speak with restraint. I object to the bill being returned to the Senate in its present form, because in one particular at least it does not express the considered opinion of a majority of honorable members of this House. I, therefore, propose to vote against the motion.
– I direct attention to Standing Order No. 181, which reads -
On the motion for the adoption of the report the bill may, on motion, be recommitted, either in whole or in part; in which case, if amendments be made and the bill bc reported, a subsequent day shall be fixed for taking the report into consideration and moving its adoption, and the bill, as reported with the amendments, shall in the meantime be printed; but if no amendments have been made the report may be at once adopted.
I submit that, as amendments have been made to this bill, a subsequent day must be fixed for the remaining stages of it.
– The committee considered requests of the Senate, and came to a resolution thereon. The circumstances of that resolution were not analogous to those which obtain when a bill is reported from committee with amendments. Therefore, the Standing Order which the honorable member has quoted does not here apply.
Motion agreed to.
In committee (Consideration of Senate’s requests) :
.- This schedule is to implement the excise items mentioned in the budget. Honorable members have had the Government’s budget proposals before them for some weeks, and a memorandum dealing with the excise items was recently circulated. Unless the committee desires to discuss the schedule at length, I suggest that the two items be taken together. Are honorable members agreeable to that course ?
Opposition Members. - No.
By omitting the whole of sub-item (e) and inserting in its stead the following sub-item : - “(e) Blended whisky, distilled partly from barley malt and partly from other grain, containing not less than 25 per cent, of pure barley malt spirit (which has been separately distilled by a pot-still or similar process at a strength not exceeding 45 per cent, over proof),the whole being matured by storage in wood for a period of not leas than two years, and certified by an officer to be whisky so blended and matured, per proof gallon, 28s.”
Senate’s request -
Insert after (e) “Australian.” and insert new paragraph: - “ (2) Blended whisky, n.e.i., distilled partly from barley malt, and partly from other grain, containing not less than 25 per cent, of pure barley malt spirit (which has been separately distilled by a pot-still or similar process at a strength not exceeding 45 per cent, over proof), provided that the blended whisky contains not less , than 15 per cent, of Australian pure barley malt spirit and contains not more than 20 per cent, of spirit upon which import duty has been paid, the whole being matured by storage in wood for a period of not less than two years, and certified by an officer to be whisky so blended and matured, per proof gallon - 28s.”
And on and after 1st October, 1935 - “(e) Blended whisky, distilled partly from barley malt and partly from other grain, containing not less than 25 per cent, of pure barley malt spirit (which has been separately distilled by a pot-still or similar process at a strength not exceeding 45 per cent, over’ proof), the whole being matured by storage in wood for a period of not less than three years, and certified by an officer to be whisky so blended and matured, per proof gallon - 28s.”
Senate’s request -
Insert after (e) “ Australian,” and insert new paragraph - “ (2) Blended whisky, n.e.i., distilled partly from barley malt and partly from other grain, containing not less than 25 per cent, of pure barley malt spirit (which has been separately distilled by a pot-still or similar process at a strength not exceeding 45 per cent, over proof), provided that the blended whisky contains not less than 15 per cent, of Australian pure barley malt spirit and contains not more than 20 per cent, of spirit upon which import duty has been paid, the whole being matured by storage in wood for a period of not less than three years, and certified by an officer to be whisky so blended and matured, per proof gallon - 28s.”
– I move-
That the requested amendment be made as on and from 5th October, 1933, with the modification that the duties be reduced to 26s.
– I strongly protest against the action of the Government in proceeding with the excise duties at this late hour. During the last two weeks there has not been the slightest attempt to stonewall, and honorable members have assisted the Government by expressing their views briefly. I urge the Minister not to proceed with new business at this hour.
– I have no desire to proceed with this matter to-night unless the committee feels so disposed. As honorable members are aware, the sitting was suspended for a period and, during that time, the leaders of the political parties, and the whip of the party which the right honorable gentleman for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page) . leads, agreed to assist in disposing of this business to-night. If, however, honorable members would prefer that the business be deferred until to-morrow, I have no objection.
House adjourned at 11.35 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
en asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice-
– I have not previously seen the report to which the honorable member refers. It is not practicable to prevent the delivery of the letters referred to, as such a course would necessitate the opening and examination of private correspondence. Moreover, it is impracticable under the International Telegraph Regulations to prohibit the transmission of cablegrams in the circumstances referred to. Steps could, however, be taken to prohibit the transmission of outward correspondence bearing the address given in the case and inquiries are now being made in this connexion.
Invalid and Old-age Pensions.
y asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
In view of the hardship now suffered by many old people and invalids who have been refused pensions because they have been separated from wife or husband (in some cases 1 for over twenty years) without going through any legal formalities, will he consider the question of amending the act or altering the policy of the department so that people who are in every other way eligible for pensions may have their claims granted?
– The present law provides that, in the case of husband and wife, except where they are living apart pursuant to any decree, judgment, order or deed of separation, the income or property of each shall be deemed to be half the total income or property respectively of both. Power is, however, given to the Commissioner to direct that this provision shall not apply in any particular case if for any special reason he is of opinion that it should not apply. This power is largely used to grant relief in deserving cases and., in these circumstances, it is not considered that the policy of the department should be altered or the law amended.
y asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Will he inform the House whether there is any money left in the hands of the Commonwealth Government in the shape of balances from past grants made to the State of Victoria for carrying out works and the absorption of unemployed: if there is any balance, what is the amount?
– Under the Loan (Unemployment Relief Works) Acts 1932, the Commonwealth authorized a grant of £475,000 by way of financial assistance to the State of Victoria to provide relief to persons out of employment, on the understanding that the State provided an equivalent amount, making a total of £950,000. In accordance with the provisions of those acts, £949,758 has been allocated to works approved by the Employment Council of Victoria and the State Treasurer of Victoria. These works are proceeding, and1 of the Commonwealth’s liability for half of this amount, £315, 7S3 has been expended.
e asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 2 November 1933, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1933/19331102_reps_13_142/>.