14th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon.G. J. Bell) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Does the Minister for the Interior intend to allow Mrs. M. M. Freer to land in Australia, and if so, why? Or is it intended that she shall be denied admission, and, if so, why ?
– It is proposed that Cabinet shall deal with this matter on the return of the Prime Minister to-morrow.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral whether his attention has been drawn to a statement in theDaily Telegraph, Sydney, of to-day’s date, that at Melbourne he said there was neither legal nor moral grounds for the exclusion of Mrs. Freer from Australia?
-My attention has been drawn to that alleged statement. I did not make it.
– In connexion with the Government’s request that the Tariff Board should inquire into and report upon the best means of giving effect to the policy of establishing in Australia the industry of manufacturing motor-car engines and chassis, will the Government undertake to add to the reference made to the board a request that it shall also consider and report upon the general economic effect ofsucha policy?
– To meet the wishes of a number of honorable members, expressed in the tariff debate last week, the Government has decided to amend the reference, and to ask the board to give consideration to the general national and economic aspect of the matter.
– Can the Minister for Commerce explain why a shipment of oranges to be made to New
Zealand is to be drawn, I understand, only from the Murrumbidgee irrigation area and from Victoria! Has the Government any knowledge of the reason for the adoption of this course, and is it possible to have oranges from other parts of Australia, particularly New South Wales, sold to the dominion?
– Last week the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. John Lawson), the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) and others, asked whether it was possible to secure the admission of Australian oranges into New Zealand, owing to the shortage now experienced in the dominion. The Government made general representations to the New Zealand Ministry, but the terms and conditions upon which that Government is prepared to permit the importation of oranges from Australia have been laid down by the New Zealand authorities themselves. They have stated that, in addition to the quantity now imported from South Australia, they are willing to admit 12,500 bushel cases of oranges from the Murrumbidgee area and from Victoria, if a certificate is given that those areas are free from the Mediterranean fruit fly. If the honorable member desires that further representations should be made, with a view to the admission of oranges from other parts of New South Wales, where at certain seasons of the year the Mediterranean fly hasbeen troublesome, the Government will be pleased to carry out his wishes.
– I ask the Minister for Commerce if it is a fact that under the arrangement made for the entrance of Australian citrus fruits into New Zealand, the whole of the quota allowed to Australia must be received before the middle of December?
– That is so. The cablegram from New Zealand stated that consignments must be made through certain specified houses appointed by the New Zealand Government. In order to inform those desirous of consigning fruit as to the houses to which they must apply a statement was issued yesterday by the Department of Commerce.
– Can the deci sion of the New Zealand Government to relax the embargo against Australian citrus fruits be interpreted as meaning that negotiations will be immediately reopened with a view to arriving at a permanent treaty to cover our trade in fresh fruit and vegetables with New Zealand?
– It has been the desire of the Australian Government during the last two years to resume negotiations on the general matter of our trade in fruit with New Zealand, and it has not been the fault of this Government that such negotiations have not been resumed.
Mr. WHITE laid on the table reports and recommendations of the Tariff Board on the following subjects : -
Soap n.e.i., soap substitutes and compounded detergents.
Furs and other skins and articles made thereof.
Oils, including medicinal oils (except essential oils), not compounded - in vessels not exceeding one gallon:
Ordered to be printed.
– Will the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties state whether it is true, as reported in the press, that the visit of the proposed Canadian trade delegation to Australia has been cancelled?
– The answer is “No.”. Advice has been received from the Government of Canada that the delegation will leave for Australia during the first week in January next.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Commerce been drawn to the statement in to-day’s Canberra Times, with reference to trade negotiations with New Zealand, in which Mr. Savage, the Prime Minister of the dominion, is reported to have said -
Although the balance of trade was in Australia’s favour,his Government intended to meet the needs of the people, whether it was oranges or anything else they wanted.
Has the Commonwealth Government taken this matter up with the New Zealand Government, and, if so, has the subject of protecting the Tasmanian potato industry been considered? If not, will the Minister see that this valuable industry is protected?
– No new negotiations have taken place in regard to this matter since the return of the Minister for Defence (Sir Archdale Parkhill) from New Zealand.
– With reference to the recent announcement by the right honorable the Minister for External Affairs (Senator Pearce) that the Government proposes to appoint diplomatic representatives in several countries, will the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs state whether a liaison officer will he attached to the staff of the British Ambassador in each of these countries, or does the Government intend to appoint fully-accredited representatives of the Commonwealth?
– The proposal is to appoint officers in the nature of liaison officers, who will he attached to British Embassies, although the places to which they are to be appointed have not yet been chosen. Up to the present time no proposal has been made to appoint ministers in the full sense of the term.
– I ask the Acting Leader of the House if, as has been reported in the press, it is the intention of the Government to appoint a consul to represent Australia in the United States of America atWashington or New York?
– I understand that a statement has already been made by the Prime Minister with regard to Australia’s representation at Washington.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs whether the Commonwealth Government now has any representation trade or diplomatic, in the United States of America other than that provided by the present official secretary and the British Embassy, and if, as has been stated, it is the intention to appoint a liaison officer to the British Embassy, whether that indicates that it is the intention of the Government not to appoint another CommissionerGeneral ?
– The matter of the appointment of a Commissioner-General in the United States of America has not yet been determined, but the appointment contemplated of a diplomatic kind is of the nature described in my reply to the honorable member for Lilley (Sir Donald Cameron) .
– Have we any representation at the present time other than that provided by the official secretary?
– Has the Government decided upon the consular representation of Australia in foreign countries, and, if so, at what places?
– I have already answered a question by the honorable member for Lilley on the same subjectmatter. It is proposed to appoint, not consular representatives, but at places not yet determined, officers who will act as liaison officers and will be attached to the British Embassies at those places.
– Will the Treasurer make provision for the invalid and oldage pensioners to be paid on the Wednesday and Thursday before Christmas, instead of on the Wednesday and Thursday after Christmas? If that be not possible, will the pensioners be given three weeks’ pay prior to Christinas ?
– I am having the question of the dates for the payment of the pensions at the end of this month investigated, and, as soon as I have come to a decision in the matter, I shall advise the honorable gentleman and honorable members generally.
– I move -
That the House at its rising adjourn until 11 a.m. to-morrow.
I submit this motion in conformity with the general desire of honorable members to dispose of the maximum amount of business possible this week, and to afford the House an opportunity to discuss it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– Has the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties any further information to give to the House regarding the trade negotiations with Japan, or can he state what stage has been reached in dealing with the matter?
– No, but Japanese delegates will arrive in Canberra this afternoon to resume the negotiations.
– Will the Minister for Commerce lay on the table a copy of the trade agreement which, according to the press, has been entered into between the British Government and Argentina? If this cannot be done immediately, will a copy of the agreement be tabled before the House rises for theChristmas recess ?
– I understand that the President of the Board of Trade will lay a copy of the agreement on the table in the British House of Commons tomorrow. The Government expects to have full details’ of the agreement on Thursday, when I hope to make a full statement concerning the position with respect to meat.
– Has the
Department of Commerce any knowledge of negotiations between France and Great Britain with regard to an arrangement under which French wines would receive more favorable treatment in the British market than they do at the present time?
– I am not aware of any such negotiations. I should like to say, however, that at the conference at which the question ofthe nomenclature of Australian wines wasraised, the British Government stood solidly behind the Australian Government in the claim to the free use of names given to Australian wines.
– With reference to the fatal shooting of a public officer in Thornbury, Melbourne, recently, by a military trainee, can the Minister for Defence inform the House as to the rules andregulations governing the rights and authority of individual trainees to carry weapons when not on duty and also to use ammunition? If he is not in a position to give such information forthwith, will he kindly obtain a report on the matter for the information of honorable members ?
– I shall be glad to obtain a report on this matter for the information of honorable members.
– Has the Minister for Trade and Customs received the report from the Tariff Board regarding the dumping of cement? If so, will he treat this matter as urgent in view of the fact that the duties which have operated for the last six months will be removed as from to-day?
– That report will be tabled to-morrow.
– I ask the Acting Leader of the House if he has read the report of the chairman of the Bank of New South Wales in respect of the proposal of that bank to restrict advances in order to retard the improvement of the financial position generally? What action does the Government intend to take in this matter ?
– I have not seen the report referred to by the honorable member.
– In respect of the renewal of the Federal Aid Roads Agreement and the proposal that the Commonwealth Government should amend the agreement to enable the States to use 20 per cent. of that grant for forestry and public works, I ask the Treasurer whether that proposal originated from the State governments? If not, will the Commonwealth Government review its decision in this matter in view of the objections raised to it in the debate which took place in this House recently on the Federal Aid Roads Bill?
– The matter arose in conversation between Commonwealth and State Ministers. I should not like it to go on record that the proposal originated either from the Commonwealth or from the States, but I have good reason to believe that the proposal is acceptable to the State governments. The new agreement will he enshrined in a bill which will be introduced when the House meets in 1937.
– I ask the Treasurer whether there is any truth in the report that the Government proposes to abolish the Federal Taxation Board of Review, with a view to establishing in its place a Federal Court of Appeal?
– The Government has not yet come to a final decision in this matter, but I think it is unlikely that it will have an opportunity to introduce a measure to create an appellate tribunal before the House rises for the Christmas recess.
– Most ex-soldiers resident in the northern portion of New South Wales are required to go for treatment to the Repatriation Department in Brisbane. On the 18th November, one of my constituents, who is an ex-soldier, received a letter from the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia, Brisbane, informing him that, as he resided in New South Wales, his papers had been referred to the Repatriation Department, Sydney. On the 20th November, the same ex-soldier received a letter from the Repatriation Department in Sydney, stating that his papers were being dealt with at the Brisbane office. I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation whether, in view of the fact that such interplay between the Deputy Commissioners in Sydney and Brisbane is undesirable and causes definite hardship-
– Order ! The honorable member must not express an opinion when asking a question.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation whether he will take steps to see that this practice is not persisted in?
-I shall bring the matter under the notice of the Minister for Repatriation, who, in turn, I have no doubt, will bring it under the notice of the Commissioner for Repatriation.
– Can the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral tell me, and the people of Brisbane, whether the Government intends to carry out its promise to erect a new general post office at Brisbane? Can he say whether plans for the new building have been completed, and, if not, when the Government proposes to take the necessary steps to prepare such plans ?
– I am pleased tobe able to inform the honorable member and the people of Brisbane that the Government is carrying out its promise which was to obtain reports from the Postmaster-General’s Department and the Department of Works regarding the erection of a new general post office at Brisbane. When those reports have been received a decision in regard to the building will be made. I cannot give the honorable member more precise information now, but I shall obtain it for him.
– Have any of the governments of the States applied for assistance from the Commonwealth to enable them to establish agricultural colleges or similar institutions? If so, what States have applied? If not, is it intended that the opportunity to apply for grants shall remain indefinitely?
– The Commonwealth Government has placed on the Estimates a sum of money, for distribution among the States, for the improvement of existing courses or the establishment of new courses of training as managers of butter factories. Most of the States have applied for assistance, and the way is still open for further applications.
– Has the Government yet determined what classes of ships are to be built under its new naval programme, and can the Minister for Defence say whether there is a likelihood of their being built in Australia?
– A determination has not yet been arrived at as to the classes of ships to be constructed ; but the prospects of their being built in Australia are exceedingly bright.
– Is the Minister for Commerce prepared to amend the legislation providing for a subsidy on fertilizers so that the subsidy will vary according to the grade of fertilizer used, with a minimum payment of 10s a ton?
– A similar suggestion was carefully considered when tb« legislation was before Parliament. The Government then decided to continue the present method in the interests of the primary producers.
– Has the Government yet received from the States replies to questions regarding the operation of the Loan (Farmers’ Debt Adjustment) Act about which I asked a question some time ago? If not, can the Minister say whether there is any prospect of replies being received from the States before Parliament rises at the end of this week?
– Each State government has been, requested to furnish a report on the operations of the act in that State, but, replies have not yet come to hand from all the States. Each State, however, is participating in the grant from the Commonwealth Treasury.
– Have the States intimated their intention to supply reports, and, if not, has the Minister power to compel them to answer the questions submitted by the federal authorities?
– The Commonwealth Auditor-General will, in due course, report on the operations of the Loan (Farmers’ Debt Adjustment) Act. Each State will furnish the information asked for.
– Has the Minister seen, in the Melbourne Sun of the 19th and the 30th November, reports of abundant supplies of fish in Tasmanian waters? Further, has he received an inquiry from the secretary of the ‘Fisheries Association as to whether the Common wealth Government intends to grant financial assistance to the fishing industry in order that it may be established on a sound basis so that the Australian people may have adequate supplies of fish food ? If so, has any decision been arrived at?
– The Commonwealth Government has taken a great deal of interest in the establishment of the fishing industry in Australia and has now in the course of construction, a vessel which, when completed, will he used to investigate the supplies of fish in Australian waters with a view to their being exploited commercially.
– Have any steps been taken to appoint a Lands Officer at Alice Springs, in order that lessees who desire to participate in the grant made last year for developmental purposes, may he able to do so?
– I shall be glad to ascertain particulars and let the honorable member know.
– Has the attention of the Attorney-General been drawn, to the declaration of the State Arbitration Court in New South Wales that it has not the authority to reduce the standard working hours below 44 hours a week, and can he say whether a similar limitation is . imposed on the Federal Arbitration Court?
– I have seen a report along the lines indicated by the honorable gentleman, but I have not yet read the full judgment, and am not familiar with the facts on which it was based. Consequently, I can offer no useful opinion on it. In this matter the Commonwealth is limited, but I am unable to express an opinion as to the position of the States.
– I ask the Attorney-General if, in the event of a majority of the full bench of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court desiring to introduce a 40-hour week, that court would have the power to implement its desire ?
– The Full Court of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, when dealing with a dispute in which the 40-hour week or any other week is claimed, has full power within the limits of the dispute to award the hours which it thinks proper. It follows from that that any organization having a dispute within the ambit of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court which asks for a 40-hour week, can now have that matter determined by the Full Arbitration Court.
– Will the Minister representing the Postmaster-General obtain a report from the Director of Posts and Telegraphs as to the practicability of introducing a zoning system for border telegrams?
– I shall be glad to do so.
Bill brought up by Mr. Thorby and read a first time.
– I desire to inform the House that the
Honorable Yoshiaki Hatta, a member of the House of Peers, Japan, is within the precincts. With the concurrence of honorable members I shall provide him with a distinguished stranger’s seat on the floor of the House beside the Speaker’s chair.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear!
The Honorable Yoshiaki Hatta thereupon entered the chamber, and was seated accordingly.
Assent to the following bills reported : -
Lands Acquisition Bill 1936.
Referendum (Constitution Alteration) Bill, 1936.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of Governor-General’s message) :
Motion (by Mr. Paterson) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to amend the Petroleum Oil Search Act 1936.
Suspension of Standing Orders.
Motion (by Mr. Paterson) proposed -
That the Standing Orders be suspended to unable the remaining stages to be passed without delay.
– I oppose the suspension of the Standing Orders to admit of the passage of this bill without delay, because the bill raises, I submit, very important considerations. It involves the consideration by this House of the whole question of the search for petroleum oil in the Commonwealth, and although I have not had the chance to peruse the bill, I would submit, in certain territories outside the Commonwealth as well. I have asked a series of questions in regard to the manner in which companies have been formed, and as to who have formed them, for the purpose of sharing in advantages from the £250,000 which has been allocated by this Parliament for the encouragement of the search for oil. I am extremely dissatisfied - this is the best I can say - with what has been done and, furthermore, I am disquieted by the probability, rather than the possibility, of the major oil companies, whose interests are predominantly associated with the nondiscovery of oil in Australia, having a substantial interest in the companies which have been promoted and have been given leases in territories under the control of the Minister to search for oil.
– The territories the honorable member has referred to are not under the control of the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson).
– I do not wish to discuss the merits of this bill or the general position at this stage; that properly would come up in connexion with the consideration of the proposed bill. But the honorable gentleman, as we all are, is in this position : There is a number of bills already on the notice-paper, and this new bill has been circulated at this very moment. Yet we are expected to digest this bill without having the customary opportunity afforded by the Standing Orders to giveus adequate time for its consideration while at the same time we are preoccupied with a dozen other bills, some of which, I inform the House, are not yet on the noticepaper; and we are to rise on Friday night ! I protest against bills of importance being thrown at us in this way and the Standing Orders suspended so that ordinary precautions to ensure their proper consideration shall be taken from us. I ask the Minister, therefore, not to suspend the Standing Orders, unless he can show us that this bill is not only indispensable to the implementing of the steps already approved by legislation, but also that it is so urgent that we can violate the right of honorable members to control the course of legislation. Otherwise, to suspend the Standing Orders in connexion with this bill wouldbe to take absolute licence, as it were, to shove measures down our throats without our having any opportunity to look at them. I am occupied with other business on the notice-paper, and it is outrageous to ask me to consider this bill without the time for reflection.
– I am opposed to the suspension of the Standing Orders to enable this bill to be considered without delay, because I claim that the subject with which it deals is too important to be treated hastily. The bill has just been submitted to us and it contains several important amendments. One in particular that I have noticed in my cursory glance over the measure, is designed to give to the Minister a privilege, originally confined to a committee, which will enable him to make recommendations for moneys to be disbursed to certain companies. At this stage, however, I do not intend to pursue argument on that aspect, because the actual consideration of the bill at a later stage will provide the appropriate opportunity for such discussion. The importanceof such matters, however, warrants the House in asking the Minister to give reconsideration to his motion. I understand that a petition has been drawn up in the northern districts of New South Wales praying the Government to take action to obtain oil supplies by a certain method for which there is no provision in the existing oil-search legislation. That, however, is also a matter for subsequent discussion, although I submit that it is extremely doubtful whether the Government has adopted the wisest course in the allocation of the grant towards the conduct of a search for oil in Australia. I ask the Minister not togo on with this bill immediately, and to give honorable members ample opportunity to consider it. As it is, it has been shoved under our noses and one has hardly had an opportunity to peruse it.
– Some slight misapprehension has occurred on this subject. The intention of the Minister who moved the motion was simply to make it possible to take the bill to the first-reading stage. The state of the business before the House subsequently will determine when the bill is to be discussed, and even whether it is to be proceeded with during this period of the session.
– Then why suspend the Standing Orders?
– It is the usual practice.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Mr. Paterson and Dr. Earle Page do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill brought up by Mr. Paterson and read a first time.
Debate resumed from the 27th November (vide page 2494), on motion by Mr. White (vide page 2220, volume 150) -
That the schedule to the Customs Tariff 1933, as proposed to be amended by tariff proposals, be further amended as hereunder set out .
By omitting the whole of paragraph (2) of sub-item (c) and inserting in its stead the following paragraph : - “(2) Other-
Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga Douglasii) , per 100 super. feet (Brereton measurement) - British. 4s.6d. ; intermediate, 4s. 6d.; general. 5s. 3d. (b)N.e.i., ad val - British, 10 per cent.: intermediate, 30 per cent.; general, 30 per cent.”
By omitting the whole of sub-item (d) and inserting in its stead the following sub-item: - “(d) Spars in the rough -
Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga Douglasii), per 100 super. feet (Brereton measurement) - British, 4s. 6d.; intermediate, 4s.6d. ; general, 5s. 3d.
Other, ad val. - British, 10 per cent.; intermediate, 30 per cent.; general, 30 per cent.”
Upon which. Sir Henry Gullett had moved, by way of amendment -
That paragraph (2) of sub-item (c) be a mended by adding the following: - “ And on and after 27th November, 1936 -
Douglas Fir(Pseudotsuga Douglasii) ; Hemlock (all species of Tsuga) ; Larch (all species of Larix) ; Spruce (all species of Picea) and White Fir (all species of Abies), per 100 super. feet (Brereton measurement) - British, 4s. ; intermediate, 4s.6d.; general, 4s.6d. (b)N.e.i.,ad val. - British, 10 per cent.; intermediate, 30 per cent. ; general, 30 per cent.”
That sub-item (d) be amended by adding the following: - “And on and after 27th November, 1936 -
Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga Douglasii) ; Hemlock (all species of Tsuga) ; Larch (all species of Larix);Spruce (all species of Picea) and White Fir (all species of Abies), per 100 super. feet (Brereton measurement) - British 4s.; intermediate, 4s. 6d.; general, 4s. 6d.
Other, ad val. - British, 10 per cent.; intermediate, 30 per cent.; general, 30 per cent.”
Item proposed to be amended -
Logs, not sawn, viz.: -
Spars in the rough, ad valorem. - British, 7½ per cent. (net); general, 30 per cent.
.- I am surprised at the attitude adopted by the Government, not so much because it implies consent to an increase of the price of timber, but because it will involve considerable loss to persons who, in consequence of the policy which the Government had previously enunciated, have expended large sums of money in installing mills in Australia to saw the log timber imported into this country. These persons bad a right to expect that the Go vernment, having announced the policy which encouraged such action, would adhere to it. I am surprised, also, at the speeches made on this subject by the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Frost) and the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) in particular. These honorable gentlemen have demanded further protection for the timber industry. When honorable members look at the beautiful timber with which this very chamber is fitted they must feel, as many honorable members must have felt in other days, as they saw the beautiful timbers with which the Parliament Houses in Melbourne were fitted, that it is deplorable that much of our best timber has been wantonly destroyed. I am. satisfiedthat if we exploited our timber resources wisely we should be using our choice hardwoods, in particular, not for rough work in house construction, but for first-class cabinet work, the manufacture of furniture, and so on. The Commonwealth Bank in Perth has been decorated with veneered jarrah, some of which has an absolutely mirror-like finish, and is magnificent for decorative work. Our hardwood timbers could undoubtedly be used tomuch better effect, but apparently there is no satisfying some people. The honorable member for Wide Bay and others of similar outlook have become so accustomed to sugar embargoes and the restrictions on peanuts, canary seed and the like, that they are almost demanding of the Government that similar action shall be taken in regard to timber. It is disconcerting to. me that the Government has announced that it does not intend to give effect to the Tariff Board’s recommendation in its report on “ Undressed timber, viz., Douglas Fir “. It is pointed out in that report that -
The Queensland Government charges a royalty on all hoop pine removed from Crown lands; in the case of the tree in question the royalty was estimated at about 9s. per 100 super. feet.
It also stated -
The f.o.b. cost of junk Douglas fir in Canada is about 5s. 3d. sterling per 100 super. feet, and the present duty of 10s. 6d. per . 100 super. feet (nearly 200 per cent. ad val.), with primage duty, freight, landing charges and exchange, brings the cost to 22s 6d. per 100 super. feet at Sydney.
In Canada wages, in the better class industries at least, are higher than in Australia and it seems to me to he ridiculous that honorable members should be asking for such extraordinary conditions. One honorable gentleman argued that we should cease to admit Oregon duty free for mining purposes and that the Broken Hill mining companies should he obliged to use hardwood for timbering purposes in their mines. Freight charges alone would make that impossible. Moreover we should have to remember the implications of agreeing to a provision of that kind. Big mining deposits are undoubtedly awaiting discovery elsewhere in Australia. There is, for example, great hope of substantial developments in the Northern Territory and the north-west of Western Australia. A huge banket formation is known to exist in Western Australia extending from the Nullagine district for some 60 miles to within 20 miles of Marble Bar, and some splendid values are being discovered in this formation. Are we to determine that only hardwood timbers shall be available for use when the timbering of mines is necessary in a big way in that comparatively remote area? Costs would destroy all hope. Extraordinary things have happened in the past in Australia in regard to freight. My information is not exact at the moment, but some time ago it cost 3s. 6d. per 100 super, feet to bring timber from Norway to Adelaide; 6s. 6d. per 100 super, feet to bring it from. Vancouver to Adelaide; and 9s. 6d. per 100 super, feet to bring it from Launceston to Adelaide, and yet in spite of this honorable members would force the use of hardwoods for all purposes. It is extraordinary to me that we should even think of practically compelling builders to use our beautiful hardwoods for the commonest purposes when oregon could be made available for the purpose much more economically. We ought to reserve our hardwoods for high class uses. I regret that the Government has adopted its present policy and, in the circumstances, the best thing I can do is to support the amendment of the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Price), the object of which is to bring into use the Hoppus system of measurement. This, at least, would make necessary the im- porta tion of oregon in log form so that it could be sawn in the Australian mills which have been established for that purpose.
.- The new duties imposed on timber seriously threaten the prospect of the successful continuance of certain sawmillers in the timber trade in Australia. In the district of Port Adelaide in my electorate, sawmillers have gone to considerable expense in erecting machinery for cutting up imported oregon logs. The expenditure of money for such purposes was largely undertaken because of the then existing duties on sawn timber compared with those on timber in logs; and those duties permitted increased employment to be given to Australian workers. In the past, the sawing of these logs has provided considerable employment, but I fear that the new duties will very seriously prejudice the prospect of the continuation of this employment. At this juncture, I submit, we can ill afford to deprive our own people .of avenues of employment.
– The new duties will provide more employment.
– I join issue with the honorable gentleman in regard to that. Far from giving added employment they will, in my opinion, result in a diminution of the work which has been made available.
– If the new duties do. not provide additional work in Adelaide they will at least provide it elsewhere.
– The Minister must realize that no matter how consistently we may seek to advance the use of Australian timbers, hardwoods are not suited for use in specified portions of dwellings, and we shall have to continue to import our requirements of soft woods for those purposes.- These duties will not prohibit the entry of oregon, ‘but it will now be imported sawn rather than in the logs. It is not a case of Australia versus imported timbers. The Minister must surely recognize the Government’s obligation to those who have spent considerable sums of money on the installation of plant capable of dealing with timber imported in the log ; their rights and claims must not be overlooked.
It is evident from the remarks of the -Minister, however, that he has no regard for the rights of those who have endeavoured to develop the timber trade in this country under the assistance formerly granted to them by the tariff.
– That is absolutely wrong.
– The Minister knows full well the fallacy of the argument which he has advanced. I agree with the views expressed by the honorable member for Boothby .(Mi: Price) and others who have criticized the new timber duties. I shall do all that I can to preserve the rights of those employed in this way, as well as those who have purchased machinery and plant to handle this class of timber. I ask the Government to give this matter further consideration in view of the added cost which the new duties will impose on those engaged in the building of homes.
.- When speaking on this item on Friday last, I indicated that I proposed to move an amendment that the Hoppus ( measurement system and the original duties be reverted to. The Government proposes to adopt the Brereton system of measurement and to increase the duty on Douglas fir logs to 4s. 6d. per 100 super, feet. I contend that the present system of measurement, known as the Hoppus system, should he continued. As honorable members know that system is the standard which has been accepted in Australia for a number of years.
– The Brereton system is only to be applied in respect of imported timbers.
– It may be of interest to honorable members to know the difference between the two systems of timber measurement. Hoppus measurement is arrived at by squaring one-quarter of the circumference; that is, a log 48 in. in circumference is measured as if it were a square piece of timber 12 in. x 12 in. On the other hand the Brereton measurement is a formula which is used to take care of the space wasted in the stowage of the logs in the ships, as logs do not stow nearly so well as sawn timber. Some little time ago in an effort to increase employment in this country, the Government decided that it would encourage the importation into Australia of timber in the log. The adoption of’ that policy certainly resulted in a good deal of additional employment being provided in the timber trade; but in changing from the Hoppus to the Brereton system of measurement it appears that the Government is lending itself to a trick engineered by the department to obtain greater revenue. Honorable members should not permit such a trick to be played on the timber trade. The. adoption of the Brereton system will have a detrimental effect on employment in Australia, because it will result in timber merchants bringing in their supplies of soft timbers in a sawn state instead of in the log. That from many points of view is undesirable. Apart altogether from the loss of employment which must follow the adoption of the Brereton system, it will have a further ill effect inasmuch as merchants are able to obtain very much better timber when it is imported in the log. The importation of logs into Australia will not harm the Australian hardwood millers. The use of oregon will continue in this country because it is essential for specific building purposes, particularly in South Australia, principally for roofing. Honorable members representing constituencies in which there are large areas of growing timber and also timber mills always endeavour to ridicule those who contend that oregon is more suitable than other timbers for building purposes.
– No other timber compares favorably with oregon for those purposes.
– That is so. I have always contended that because oregon is especially suitable for that class of work it should be subject to only a reasonable duty. I always advocate the use of Australian products when practicable, but experts assert most definitely that oregon is more suitable for certain classes of work than is any timber produced in Australia. In these circumstances it is of vital importance to the people of Australia that supplies should be available at a reasonable price. Honorable members who are always saying that building costs should be reduced so that workers’ dwellings may be built at a reasonable rate should remember that if Oregon can be obtained at fair prices the cost of building houses can be reduced. If the rates provided in this schedule be adopted, building costs must necessarily rise, and workers and others who wish to build homes will be penalized. I move -
That the word “ Brereton “ be omitted, with a view to insert in lien thereof the word “ Hoppus “.
I trust that the Minister will accept my amendment.
– The honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Price) has moved to substitute the word “ Hoppus “ for the word “ Brereton Perhaps the honorable member may be surprised to learn that the Hoppus system of measurement has never been used in respect of imported. Oregon logs. Imported logs are always invoiced under the Brereton measurement, and as it is considered satisfactory to invoice them in that way surely it is right to impose customs duty on the same basis. Before using the Brereton system due allowance was made for waste, but if the Hoppus system, which is an estimate instead of an exact measurement, were adopted it would be necessary to increase the duty from 4s. for each 100 super, feet to perhaps fis. or 6s. for each 100 super, feet. The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) said that if this proposal be adopted it will prejudice employment in the electorate which he represents.
– Of course it will.
– I am conversant with the position in South Australia. There is a nominal rate of only 10 per cent, on logs which is equivalent to 10d. per 100 super, feet whereas there is a duty of 10s. 6d. on the sawn timber in South Australia and in other States. In advocating retention of the old rate of duty the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. E. J. Harrison) and the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) and the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) are speaking on behalf of sawmillers, who in consequence of the gap in our tariff schedule have had a good innings on what is practically a waterfront industry.
– Why not adopt the Tariff Board’s recommendation?
– The Government is merely closing a gap which has been of benefit to the importers of logs. I have made it clear previously that if this proposal be adopted, there will be a larger margin than was recommended by the Tariff Board, and that unemployment will not increase as the honorable member for Hindmarsh has predicted. Instead of a margin of 5s. which the Tariff Board said would be generous, the Government is providing a margin of 5s. 7£d. per 100 super, feet. I cannot accept the amendment moved by the honorable member for Boothby.
Mr. HOLLOWAY (Melbourne Ports) [4.5 . - I intend to support the Government’s proposal, because I consider that this subject should be considered on other than a State basis. Honorable members represent different portions of the Commonwealth, where conditions naturally vary, and in matters of this kind we must endeavour to provide the greatest good to the greatest number. The first consideration which appeals to me is that it is our duty to encourage the use of native timbers. During the regime of the Scullin Government, many timber-getters were told not to destroy timber unnecessarily. Thousands of pounds is now being expended in preparing Australian timber so that it will be suitable for practically every purpose for which timber is utilized. Opinions concerning the suitability of Australian timber have altered considerably, and it is now used extensively throughout the Commonwealth. The object of these duties appears to be to encourage the use of local timber. At first I was afraid that the increase of the duty on logs would compel the use of imported sawn timber in larger quantities, and that those now employed in sawing imported logs would lose their jobs; but a- careful examination of the Government’s proposal shows that that is not the case. A smaller quantity of imported timber will be used; I cannot sa.y whether that will be an advantage to those engaged in the building industry, but it should benefit a large number of persons engaged in the timbergetting industry.
– Has the honorable member read the Tariff Board’s report on the subject?
– Yes; the Government i3 not bound to adopt the recommendations of the Tariff Board. My main desire is to help to foster the Australian timber industry, and I believe that under this proposal that can be done.I also wish to ensure that whatever timber comes to Australia shall be in logs, so that Australian labour shall be employed in cutting it. Under this proposal, the timber industry in Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia and New South Wales will have an opportunity to develop. I support the Government’s proposal.
– I should not have risen at this juncture had not the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) insinuated that 1 and some other honorable members misunderstand the position. I intend to support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Price), because I am anxious to do justice to those who are endeavouring to construct homes at a reasonable price. The effect of the amendment moved by the honorable member for Boothby will be to reduce the rate from 4s. per 100 super, feet to 3s. per 100 super, feet. Although imported logs are invoiced on Brereton measurements, as the Minister stated, the standard measure in Australian timber yards is the Hoppus measure. Under that system advantage is taken of the actual timber in the log. The Brereton system is adopted by shipping companies to cover the space taken up by the log, and under that system no allowance is made for the sap wood on the log which cannot be used commercially. If the amendment moved by the honorable’ member for Boothby be adopted, waste material will not be included, and the duty will be based only on that portion of the log which can be used. In May last, the price of oregon was 25s. per 100 super, feet, but in June, because of the increase of the duty, it was advanced to 3s. per 100 super, feet. To-day the price is 33s. per 100 super, feet, and that increase will have an appreciable effect upon the cost of building.
– The price of Australian timber has been reduced by 25 per cent., which ought to balance the increased price of imported timber.
– On a previous occasion, I quoted figures to show that the proportions of softwoods and hardwoods used in the building trade, seldom vary. Softwood is complementary to hardwood, and if more softwood be used, then more hardwood will be used also.
– That is only a theory.
– It is not merely a theory; it has been proved, and the honorable member may check the figures for himself. If we take steps to reduce the price of oregon, we shall enable the people to get cheaper homes, and we shall, at the same time, stimulate the demand for hardwood. Therefore, this amendment, if agreed to, will have the effect of simultaneously reducing the cost of building and helping the hardwood industry.
– Can the honorable member point to any unemployment as the result of the increased duty on oregon?
– It is feared that, because the margin between the cost of sawn timber and log timber is so small, there will be a tremendous influx of sawn timber into Australia, especially if the exporters in Canada are able to come to an arrangement with the ship-owners regarding freights.
– The amended duty has been in operation for seven months.
– There were considerable stocks of Oregon already in the country. The Minister for Trade and Customs has stated his case to the committee, and I give him credit for having done so with all sincerity, but I point out that, when Parliament was discussing the duty on cement some time ago, he said that he proposed to adopt the recommendation of the Tariff Board, because he believed in taking the advice of an authority which had heard expert evidence on the subject. I suggest now that he do the same thing in regard to oregon. The Tariff Board has recommended that the old duties be not disturbed. The honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Price) is content that they be increased by not more than 200 per cent., but for ray part I should like the duty to remain at the old rate. If the Minister were sincere, when we were discussing the subject of cement, in saying that he would be guided by the recommendation of the Tariff Board, then he should be prepared to accept its recommendation in regard to Oregon.
– Surely the honorable member knows that, in the case of cement, the Government was bound by the Ottawa agreement, whereas in regard to Oregon we ave free to do as Ave like.
– The Minister for Trade and Customs was the only member of the Government who raised the issue of the Ottawa agreement, and it lias always been recognized as a very doubtful argument. As a matter of fact, the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) and I were the only two who adhered to the original proposal of the Government, and voted consistently throughout. The Government, under pressure, was quite content to swallow an amendment moved from this side of the House. I still maintain that the Government, in this case, should be guided by the report of the Tariff Board, which made its recommendation after listening to the evidence for and against the proposal for a higher duty.
.- If I were to criticize the Government at all, I should do so because it did not at an earlier date increase the duty on oregon logs. When I had charge .of a government, we went thoroughly into the question of the protection of Australian timber. In 1929-30, the Australian timber industry was in a chaotic condition. It is true that there was a good deal of chaos in practically every industry, but that waa due to the general depression. The position of the timber industry, however, was particularly bad. One of the results of that, and quite the worst result from a national point of view, was that our forests were neglected, and in some instances destroyed, because they were no longer so valuable as they should have been. The damage was done to some extent by the millers themselves, but most of.it was done by settlers who burnt the forests in the ranges in order to get feed foi- their cattle. I am deeply interested in our Australian forests, and
I am convinced that, in’ order to conserve them, it is desirable to make the timber valuable. That is the strongest reason for protecting the Australian timber industry. Of course, another reason is that it provides a great deal of employment. There is no ‘ comparison between the amount of labour required to get timber from the bush, and saw it up into commercial sizes, and that required merely to saw up imported logs. I do not deny that it will probably always be necessary to import a certain quantity of softwood timber, but I do deny that it is necessary to import so much as some honorable members seem to think.
What is the history of this duty? Early in 1930, the Government which I led, grappled with the question of the protection of the Australian timber industry. Certain duties were imposed, and the marvellous change which took place in the industry as the result of the imposition of those duties may be seen by any honorable member who visits the timber-producing districts to-day.
– Other factors besides the duty accounted for the improvement.
– That is true. I am not like some honorable members who claim, on behalf of government action, all the credit for improved economic conditions. I do not ignore the general improvement which took place in the building trade, hut I say that the protection given to the timber industry at that time enabled it to take advantage of the improved conditions. Had it not been for that protection the advantage would have been reaped by the importers of timber. The duties on imported timber were very carefully considered by my Government and the then Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Forde) and I suffered many headaches over them. However, the duty on logs was never considered because it was not an issue. There was no industry in Australia at that time for cutting up imported logs, but there was an industry of procuring logs from our own forests and cutting them up, and there was an industry of importing junk timber and cutting it up. Therefore, we imposed a duty on junk Oregon and on sawn Oregon in order to protect our own timber industry, but the duty left on logs was merely nominal, representing about l0d. per 100 super. feet. Taking advantage of this, certain interests erected plants to cut up logs, with the result that their importation has increased enormously, to the detriment of the Australian industry.
Mr.Rosevear. - The importation of sawn timber has decreased, as the figures show.
– The importation of timber in the bulk has not decreased. The honorable member is speaking of sawn imported timber, the importation of which should decrease, but what has increased is the consumption of sawn Australian timber. Honorable members should open their minds and compare present-day Australian hardwoods with the product of twenty, or even ten, years ago. At one time Australian hardwood could not be used for flooring, except in a barn, because it warped so badly that the fingers could be inserted in the cracks between the boards after it had been down for a year or two. Australian hardwood to-day is a very different article. I have tested it, because I have just built a new home, in which I used Tasmanian hardwood for the floors. It makes the best floors I have ever seen in a private house. Kiln-drying is practically a new process in Australia, introduced, I am glad to know, by an Australian bushman.
– What timber did the right honorable member use in the roof?
– Hardwood. The only softwood in the place is in the windows and doors. I hesitated over this, but I do not think our hardwoods have been yet brought to the condition of the pinewoods for doors and sashes. The duty imposed on junk Oregon in 1930 was 10s. 6d. That was the stage at which the fight as to whether we should use Oregon or Australian timbers took place. My Government fought in the interests of Australian industry. The matter of imported logs was not considered then, but it has become an issue, because of the tremendous increase of their importation, due definitely to the fact that there was practically no duty on them.
– Avoiding the duty.
– The importers were really avoiding the duty put on junk Oregon by importing the timber in logs. The Government now proposes to impose a duty equivalent to 5s. per 100 super. feet on imported logs, which still leaves a margin of 5s. 6d. per 100 super. feet for those who wish to carry on the industry of cutting up imported Oregon logs. I admit at once that, if we must have Oregon, I prefer it in the log, because the cutting up provides more labour.
Mr.Rosevear. - This will not stop the importation.
– This will not stop the inflow of logs to the legitimate and allowable extent of Oregon importation, but it will stop the excess importation of logs as against the use of Australian hardwood. That sums up the position so far as I see it. Before we put on those duties - and we did not impose them lightly, because we knew the value placed upon Oregon by builders - we went carefully into the matter, and were given certain definite assurances by the industry, which has since lived up to every one of them. It is providing to-day timber of which we have reason to be proud. It is giving us quality that we never had before. The Australian product will, for durability, compare with anything in the world. As regards the assertion that we are being robbed, the answer is that those in the industry have reduced the price within the last twelve months.
Mr.Rosevear. - That proves the robbery.
-Rather it proves that, as in many other Australian industries where protection has made available a larger share of the market, they are able to reduce proportionately their overhead costs and bring about price reductions. When they got into their swing, and a bigger demand was created because of improved building conditions, plus the tariff protection, they were able, without any pressure, to reduce prices substantially - in recent timesby as much as 25 per cent. That is surely the best testimonial we can give to our own Australian industry. I ask honorable members not to attempt to reduce the protection now proposed, because what is put forward by this Government is the natural corollaryof what was done by my Government, the result of which has been to make the Australian timber industry & really successful one.
– It is not my intention to support the amendment of the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Price), who asks for a reduction of duty from 4s. to 3s., and the substitution of Hoppus measurement for Brereton measurement. As a matter of fact, in introducing this item, the Minister brought down an amendment reducing the rate by 6d., so as to make possible an effective duty of 5s., and to make provision for a margin of 5s. 6d. per 100 super. feet, between the duties on logs and sawn timber, as recommended by the Tariff Board. It has been argued by several honorable members that the adoption of the honorable member for Boothby’s amendment would allow the importation of a large amount of Oregon timber for sawing. I cannot follow their reasoning, because they claim at the same time that we should have accepted the Tariff Board’s recommendation, under the general item, of 6s. per 100 super. feet. The Government has already imposed a duty of 10s. per 100 super. feet on sawn timber. If the Government had not shown foresight on a previous occasion by making a 10s. rate possible, and if the Tariff Board’s recommendation had been adopted, the very result which those honorable member’s predict would certainly have followed. The honorable member for Boothby would not ask for a 3s. rate if he could get it duty free.
– I did not say that. The honorable member is quite wrong.
– Judging by his remarks, the honorable member would be more satisfied still if Oregon timber were introduced into Australia f ree of duty, because he said “ We want to provide timber for the homes of the Australian people as cheaply as possible “.
– Hear, hear - reasonably.
– Therefore, if oregon were duty-free, it would be provided as cheaply as possible. I cannot understand the honorable member wanting to adopt this “ small Australian “ attitude towards native timbers. He recently took a very different stand with regard to other products, notably cement and motor-car bodies. In respect of them he wanted substantial duties to protect Australian industries, yet he now asks that imported timber should be allowed to take the place of Australian timber, be it hardwood or softwood. The honorable member takes no interest in the number of workmen engaged in our forests and scrubs.
– Working under slave conditions !
– No; they work under Australian conditions. Whether they work under the contract or piece-work system, or for wages, Australian timber-getters do not accept slave conditions. I invite any honorable member to cite an instance of the operation of these so-called slave conditions; the timber-workers’ unions exercise considerable vigilance in order to ensure that no such conditions exist. Honorable members are endeavouring to create slave conditions in the industry by their willingness to permit the importation of cheap timbers, which would compete with Australiangrown timbers. The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) recently gave an account of his experiences in regard to the sawing of imported timber in Sydney and his association with the works there. I believe that he stated that some thousands of men were engaged in that work. I have a letter from the Australian Federated Sawmen’s Association, in which it is claimed that at no time were more than 200 men engaged exclusively in the cutting of oregon logs.
– That is 200 men who were not previously employed.
– No man engaged in this branch of the industry has been dismissed during the six months that this duty has been in operation.
– That is not correct.
– I challenge the honorable member for Dalley to produce evidence that any man engaged in the sawing of Oregon logs has been dismissed as the result of the importation of this timber during the period which I have mentioned. The contention of honorable members that the continuation of this practice wouldcreate unemployment among the 200 millworkers of oregon cannot be substan- tinted. What of our timber-getters and our country saw-millers?
– They have to work twelve hours a day.
– That is a ridiculous assertion. If the honorable member were employing them, they probably would be compelled to work twelve hours a day!
– The sons of “ cockies “ ure now working in the saw-mills.
– If that is so, it is quite within the rights of the sons of our farmers. In every country district the saw-mills are working at greater pressure than ever before, as the result of the protection received by them and the increased demand for Australian timbers. Apart from Australian hardwoods, local softwoods must be considered, and of these 98,000,000 super, feet was produced in Queensland from State forests last year. Our hoop pine is utilized in the building trade throughout Australia ; no better timber is obtainable in connexion with roof construction, despite the statement of honorable members that hoop pine would warp and curl if so used.
– >We protect maple timber.
– Maple is not in the same category; nor is it included in this tariff item. For the most part, maple is used for veneers, internal fittings, cabinet work and furniture, and for these purposes is unexcelled. I fail to understand the refusal of some to grant protection to Australian softwoods against imported timbers. Why should we not be given the opportunity further to develop this industry and encourage the re-afforestation schemes, which are being undertaken to provide for the future timber requirements of this country. In declaring my attitude, I do not condemn the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) for taking the opposite view. He is consistent in his opposition to these duties, and applied the same principle to other industries. But the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Price) and the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. E. J. Harrison), who are opposed to this item, have on other occasions defended to the very last the granting of protection essential to the continuance of industries in their own electorates. In this connexion, they have solicited the support of every honorable member who stands for the protection of Australian interests. On this occasion, however, they have somersaulted, and are prepared to admit overseas timber to compete against the Australian product, in respect of which they have spoken in condemnatory terms. Their action would react to the detriment of workers in the timber industry, who would he thrown out of employment.
.- The very thing which I hoped would not occur in this discussion has very prominently obtruded itself - the majority of honorable members are talking to their electorates and not of the timber industry. My concern is with the employment factor in the industry. I should not on any account cast a vote or speak against any Australian industry; but, as I showed on a previous occasion, Canadian oregon and Australian hardwoods are not competitive; they are complementary to one another. In the building industry a complete reorientation in the use of timbers has occurred, and in this altered scheme of things, a demand has arisen for certain classes of imported timber which, cannot be replaced by Australian hardwoods. The only effect of this increased duty will be to cause this particular section of the building industry to suffer. Extra costs will be passed on to the consumer, and the Australian hardwood industry will not be benefited. . It is unnecessary for me to recapitulate the statement which I made in this connexion a few days ago. The figures quoted by the Minister disclose that in 1931-32 over 86 per cent, of the oregon imports were represented by sawn timber. The significance of that statement is that over 86 per cent, of the Oregon importations in. that year were already sawn ; hence they did not provide one hour’s employment for Australian workmen.
– That is not so ; they had to be cut up again.
– I concede to the Minister that some of them did. In 1935-36, only 12 per cent, of the imports of oregon were sawn ; S8 per cent, were imported as logs; that is to say, the position in regard to employment was completely reversed. That indicates clearly enough the volume of employment that has been provided in this particular section of the industry.
– What is the total number employed in this section of the industry?
– I. am not concerned about that point for the moment, but I understand that the number thus specifically employed in Sydney alone is 406, and their weekly wages amount to over £1,700. That is directly attributable to the importation of oregon in log form.
– Last week the honorable member said that thousands are employed. I now inform him that the total number is 567.
– I made no such assertion. In 1931-32 the imports of oregon logs totalled 3,S00,000 super, feet, and in 1935-36 they increased to 137,000,000 super, feet. The Minister for Trade and Customs can work out for himself the additional employment which those greater imports would be likely to provide. The Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties (Sir Henry Gullett) made the following statement last week: -
Ignoring primage duty, which has not been altered, the old duty on Canadian logs was 20 per cent., or 10(1. per 100 super, feet of sawn timber. The present duty is 4s. Cd. per 100 super, feet (Brereton measurement), which is equivalent to 5s. !)d. per 100 super, feet of sawn timber.
I shall deal now with arguments that have been advanced by honorable members who are opposed to views that I have expressed. I take, first, the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Bernard Corser). I deny emphatically that oregon comes into direct competition with the majority of the Queensland timbers. But from my experience of the timber trade I can say that there has been ruthless and unscrupulous exploitation of the public by country timber interests in Queensland which have had no opposition to restrain them. I refer particularly to those who have had the marketing of maple. About 20 years ago the price of that timber was 4½d. a foot, but when it became popular for furniture and joinery purposes the price jumped suddenly to about ls. 3d. a foot, and, for some sizes, to as much as 2s. 6d. a foot, and to-day its purchase is almost impossible. These are the sawmillers who are now asking that oregon shall be kept out of Australia in order that they may have opportunity for further ruthless exploitation. In March, 1936, a month prior to the introduction of these new duties, a contract was let to certain country hardwood sawmillers by the Maritime Services Board - a government institution - for the delivery of brush box decking to its depot at Balmain. The price charged was 30s. per 100 super, feet net delivered. About the middle of August the board let a further contract for similar timber at a price of 25s. 9d. per 100 super, feet net delivered, and in September a third contract to a more difficult specification at 27s. 9d. per 100 super, feet net delivered. On the 10th September, Allen Taylor & Company Limited, Pyrmont, secured a contract at 25s. 8d. per 100 super, feet net delivered. In every case the specifications were similar and delivery was made to the same place. It will thus be seen that, notwithstanding this tariff, the price of hardwood timber for the same class of contract has been reduced by 4s. 4d. per 100 super, feet, clearly showing that there had been ruth.7 less exploitation of the Australian public and of government departments by sawmillers, whose only concern now is that they might have to meet competition if oregon continued to be imported in the log form on a reduced tariff as had been done previously.
The honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green) said that we owe to Australian forests the beautiful timbers that decorate this chamber. That is true. There are no better timbers for that class of work. I point out, however, that no one would think of decorating this cham’ber with oregon. Oregon for. decorative purposes is either stained or painted, and does not come into competition with Australian decorative woods. The only point at issue is, whether the importation of oregon logs for building purposes would interfere with the Australian hardwood and pine trade.
Despite the assurance of the honorable member for Wide Bay, (Mr. Bernard Corser) I believe that if he were asked to choose between Australian hoop pine and oregon for roofing work, his choice would fall on oregon. Oregon has come to stay. I assure the right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) that the duty proposed by the Government will not put a stop to imports, because oregon lias particular uses for which it will still be demanded. The danger, of an increase of the tariff is that the price of log timbe. will be brought so close to that of sawn timber that the sawn timber will be preferred and its importation will destroy the log-cutting industry that has been built up in this country. That is u danger that I wish to avoid. I am not concerned about the Timber, Merchants Association. I should not care if the members of that body were to walk down to Manly Beach, and keep on walking until their hats floated. But I am concerned for the welfare of the employees. I know what hardships these men suffered between 1929 and 1935, and can vouch for the beneficial effects of the establishment of the log-cutting industry, even in the Sydney metropolitan area, in respect of hundreds of men who had previously to walk the streets in idleness. 1 am anxious that those Australian workmen now engaged in the log-cutting industry should not lose their employment. The new duties bring the prices of log timber too close to those of sawn timber. The overseas sawn timber combine will surely take advantage of this position and will probably reduce its prices, with a view to recovering the trade lost owing to the establishment of the local log-cutting industry. The figures submitted ‘by the Minister show that, within three years, extra log-cutting work has been provided. Plant suitable for the sawing of logs has been- erected at the cost of tens of thousands of pounds, hut it has not been shown in this debate that since the introduction of the new duties any adverse effects have been felt by the local hardwood industry. Oregon and hardwood are not in serious conflict; both are required for building purposes. If there has been any conflict, hardwood has come out on top. The extent to which sawn hardwood and softwood have been used in Australia in recent years is seen by the following figures : -
In 19r25-26, the difference in favour of softwood was greater than in 1933-34. Although the demand for both classes of timber had fallen off, owing to the slump in the building trade, the use of hardwood had not declined to the same extent as that of softwood, despite the fact that oregon logs had been imported under the Scullin tariff. The right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) stated that, owing to an omission from the schedule, log importers had flooded the Australian market with oregon.
– That was not the point taken by the right honorable member.
– He stated that through an oversight it had been possible to bring in oregon logs practically duty free, thereby ousting- hardwood from the market.
– I understand that the first plant erected for the sawing of logs was not brought in until 1932 ; therefore, the honorable member is proving my point.
– The right honorable gentleman showed that certain timber merchants took advantage of a gap in the tariff schedule and established logcutting plants.
– But it was some years before they could do that.
– If the right honorable gentleman did not intend to show an attempt to undermine the hardwood industry, there was no point in his argument.
– Cite the figures for 1935-36.
– I can make a comparison between the log figures for 1931-32 and 1935-36. In 1931-32, over 86 per cent, of the imports of oregon were sawn timber, but in 1935-36 the sawn timber represented only 12 per cent, of the imports. In 1931-32 the imports of log timber amounted to 3,800,000 super, feet, whilst in 1935-36 the total had increased to 137,000,000 super, feet. Of course, as the imports of log timber increased, the imports of sawn timber showed a reduction. Practically no alteration has taken place in the total quantity of timber coming in, but in 1935-36 the imports of log timber increased by over 133,000,000 super, feet. This resulted in employment for Australian workers.
As the logs are measured under the Brereton system, duty is paid on sap and bark. The -importer refuses to bear that extra cost, and passes it on to the purchaser. The danger that confronts the local industry is that an increase of the cost of cutting the logs would bring a’bout a condition contrary to that desired by the Timber Workers Union, and encourage the importation of timber of small sizes. I maintain that the Hoppus system of measurement should be adopted. This is advocated, I understand, by the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Price), and would result in a reduction of the rates proposed by the Government by approximately 12 per cent. Under this system importers would pay duty on the timber alone, and a margin would be preserved between the duties on log and cut timber, which is the real safeguard of the timber workers. I am informed that in Sydney alone, the cutting up of logs has provided work for 400 men, who earn £1,600 a week in wages. The cutting up of this timber in Australia is not prejudicial to the interests of the local hardwood industry. No attempt has been made to show that this industry has suffered by the cutting of imported oregon logs in this country. On the contrary, the builder and architect get the better cuts of the logs, whereas when the trade was in the hands of the sawn timber combine, the local buyers had to pay top prices for fifth and sixth grade Oregon. My knowledge of the industry enables me to state that both oregon and hardwood have their respective uses. The right honorable member for Yarra spoke of the hardwood floor in his new house. Unless a builder were a raving lunatic he would not use oregon for flooring.
– Baltic timber was always chosen for flooring until the suitability of Australian hardwood was discovered.
– Hardwood was used before Baltic timber was imported. Baltic timber makes good flooring, but oregon does not. I challenge any honorable member to prove that if we adopt the rates on log timber proposed by the Government, less oregon will be imported next year than this year. Unless these duties check the importation of all oregon, either sawn or in log, they cannot benefit the local hardwood industry. If the object of the Government is merely to get revenue, it should say so, but if the new duty is to assist the local industry it must necessarily reduce the imports of all Oregon.
– Would the honorable member then favour higher duties?
– No. I have pointed out that both oregon and hardwood have their uses; one is complementary to the other. The result of an excessive duty on logs would be to make timber dearer immediately. To force the timber trade into the hands of the overseas sawn timber combine would be detrimental, not only to the men now employed in sawing the logs, but also to the building trade generally.
.- As has been shown by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) and other honorable members, the point at issue is not the protection of Australian industry, because it appears that for certain building purposes no wood is grown in Australia which can reasonably be compared to oregon. I have been advised by those interested in the building trade in Sydney that builders are practically unanimously of opinion that oregon should be imported because it is essential for roofing, and for other purposes. There is no question as to the excellent value of Australian timber. I strongly support the’ Australian timber industry but for the reason which I have given, and also because apparently no Australian wood can take the place of oregon, I support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Price).
.- I confess that I am completely ignorant of the building trade from its technical aspect, but one point which has been made clear in this discussion, and one need have only a superficial knowledge of the trade to realize it, is that there is a distinct use. for softwood as against hardwood. In the past, with the object of encouraging manufacturing in this country, we have invariably levied a much less duty on raw material compared with the duty on the finished article. For instance, when we did not manufacture cotton goods on any substantial scale, cotton goods were admitted free, but once an industry, such as shirt-making had become established in this country, we placed a high duty on the imported shirt. To-day we seem to he reversing that policy in respect of the comparative tariff treatment of imported logs and imported sawn timber. I am impressed, by the argument of the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) that the importation of timber in the log tends to create employment in saw mills in this country
– That is so, but the imports of logs are increasing.
– Nevertheless, an advantage will he extended under this proposed duty in respect of sawn timber as compared with the position when the old duties operated.
– Only in theory, but not in practice.
– I do not know what the honorable member means.
– It looks like it on paper, hut it does not work out that way.
– I can only take the proposed duty at its face value. Few. if any, honorable members can speak with as much authority on the timber industry as the honorable member for Dalley, and if it is a fact, as he has pointed out, that softwood and hardwood are complementary, an increase of the duty on softwood must, to some extent, injure the hardwood industry. If a certain amount of hardwood is ordinarily used in proportion to the amount of softwood used in the building of a house, for instance, then, if the price of one timber is raised, building operations generally are made mere costly; and should they be held up for that reason, the demand for hardwood must decrease. If we cannot produce sufficient quantities of softwood to take the place of oregon, it is stupid to increase the duty on Oregon logs as proposed in the schedule. For that reason I am forced to the conclusion that the new rate is purely a revenue rate. I am as anxious as any honorable member to protect Australian industry and I have never, by my vote in this Parliament, done anything calculated to injure an Australian industry. After listening to this discussion, however, I frankly admit that I cannot see how the lessening of the margin between the duty on logs and that on sawn timber, will protect the timber industry in this country. I believe that the Minister would be well-advised to leave the old rates stand. I have followed this debate as closely as I could and it seems to me that it has developed into an argument between those who are more closely associated, or have a greater knowledge of, one side of the industry as against those who understand other phases of it. In these circumstances I feel I must be guided mainly by my protectionist inclinations. If the proposed duty threatens to affect employment in this country adversely and to restore conditions under which imported sawn timber will be able to compete with Australian timber, I must vote against it. When so much unemployment now exists in this country any action calculated to displace even one man from a job should not be tolerated by this Parliament. I feel, therefore, that I must vote against the rate of duty proposed in the schedule.
– The remarks of the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) show that some honorable members are of two minds in respect of this matter, due undoubtedly to the very clear speech made by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear). I submit, however, that the honorable member for Dalley, in his enthusiasm, has lost sight of the other point of view and has been misled in some directions. The honorable member said that the proposed duty would interfere with existing employment in the industry and also claimed that oregon is not. competitive with Australian timber. The central secretary of the Australian Federated Sawmillers’ Association writes -
Oregon lias always been the worst competitor of our Australian timbers and without adequate protection against it our position would be serious. We must, in the course of operations, produce very large quantities of certain grades that must come into direct competition with oregon, and those badly-informed people who contend that oregon does not compete with our Australian timbers are only proving their ignorance of the prevailing conditions in Australian timber production. Proof of this is, in the fact, that before the log duties were imposed in May last our mills were slack of orders and stocks could not bc cleared, whereas to-day, every mill is working full-handed and sales ‘are good.
I admit, as the honorable member for Dalley has said, that the two classes of timber are, in a large measure, complementary, but, on the other hand, the honorable member should admit that they are, in a large measure, competitive. If he says that they are not competitive he is blinding himself to the other aspect of the case.
– On which side is the balance?
– If the honorable member were building a house and told his architect that he wanted Australian timbers he would get them’; but many architects automatically specify oregon because that timber has been used so freely in the past.
– Does the honorable gentleman say that architects would specify oregon merely because they have been used to specifying that timber in the past?
– No, I did not say that. As to what effect the increase of duty will have on employment, the general secretary of the Australian Federated Sawmillers’ Association writes -
I challenge Mr. Rosevear to show where the new duties, which were tabled in May last, have been responsible for the dismissal of any hands in the log-cutting mills at Sydney. There may have been some dislocation of labour during the months involved owing to the uncertainty of supplies caused by the timber workers’ strike in Canada and America, but there have not been any hands dismissed from the log-cutting yards owing to the tariff alteration.
The honorable member for Dalley says that the proposed duty will cause unemployment, whereas other honorable members declare, definitely, that it will not have that effect. The figures dealing with imports of timber show clearly that employment will not be affected. Despite the increased duty, the imports of log timber increased during the period from May, 1935, to September, 1936, from 38,900,000 super, feet to 51,900,000 super, feet, or an increase of approximately 33-J per cent.
– What were the building figures for that period?
– As the honorable members knows, those figures are soaring, but does he want the industry to be centralized at the waterside in operations which have only developed as the result of a gap in the tariff wall? According to honorable members who represent electorates in which country sawmills are established, the proposed duty will prejudice those mills, but any honorable member who flies over the forests situated between Canberra and Melbourne will see many flourishing sawmills, practically the only industry in much of that mountainous country. Does the honorable member for Dalley contend that their operations should be minimized because of the importation of oregon logs?
– I have given figures to show that their trade is increasing.
– I am aware of that. Several honorable members, including the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin), Franklin (Mr. Frost), and Denison (Mr. Mahoney), and honorable members from Western Australia, have told us of the increase of employment in recent years in sawmills. In anticipation of a point which is probably agitating the mind of the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. E. J. Harrison), in respect of the marginal difference of 6d. between the duty on timber from Canada and the duty on timber from the United States of America, I point out that the margin prior to the 22nd May was only 3.7 pence in favour of timber from Canada. It is now 6d. Seeing that Canada got practically all the trade under the old margin, it should be able to retain its advantage with the larger margin operating in its favour.
– The issue arising in this debate is not whether an Australian industry is being properly protected; nor is it the demand for oregon as against hardwood and vice versa; it is whether oregon should be imported in the log or imported as sawn timber. The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) pointed out that from four to five years ago 86 per cent, of the imports of oregon consisted of sawn timber and that since then, because of the low duty on the log, a certain industry has sprung up and is now giving employment to Australian workmen. I do not care whether that development has given employment to 200 or 2,000 persons - the more the better; but if this Government does anything which will mean the displacement of any number of men, no matter how small, it will be doing wrong. We have been told that the production of Australian timber has increased by leaps and bounds. No one enjoys reading of the progress of any Australian industry more than I do, but the point which arises here for our consideration is that none of our timbers can be used for certain purposes in the building trade.
– What are some of those purposes?
– If the honorable member goes down some of the mines in. Tasmania in the electorate which he represents he will find that oregon has been used for certain purposes for which no other timber is suitable.
– That class of timber comes in free.
– That is so, but my point is that such timber should be admitted and not whether it should or should not pay a duty. The right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) has told us that he used Tasmanian hardwood for flooring in a house which he has constructed. Of course he did. What builder of a home would put in a softwood floor when he could use Tasmanian hardwood? On the other hand, what builder would put in a roof of Tasmanian hardwood when he could get more suitable timber for that purpose? We are asked to say, not whether hardwood or softwood is the “better timber, but whether the softwood that is imported shall be brought here in logs, or already sawn into sizes.
– Logs will still come in.
- Mr. Quinn, writing on behalf of the Victorian Sawmillers’ Association, states that the pro portions of hardwood .and softwood used in Australia have not altered materially during the last 30 years. The imposition of higher duties on oregon has helped to develop the Australian hardwood industry, but it has not prevented the growth of the trade in softwoods. Oregon is still imported, for irrespective of its cost or of the duty imposed on it, builders require it. Through no fault of his, the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) was unable to give figures for the present year. Figures supplied by timber merchants of Sydney, covering the months of May, June, July, August and September of this year, reveal that the imports of Oregon during May were valued at £178,172 and, during June, £183,000. The duties were imposed in May. The value of the oregon imported in July was £200,336, and in August, £193,100. For September, five months after the imposition of the new duties, the imports were valued at £220,756.
– Those figures prove that the duties do not affect the imports.
– We are not discussing the duties; irrespective of the rate of duty, Oregon will continue to be imported. That being so, why not let it be imported in logs, so that the cutting of the timber into the sizes required can be done in Australia? The higher duties have not greatly affected the ratio of sawn oregon to logs in New South Wales and Victoria, but in South Australia the tendency is for oregon to be imported already sawn. If it were a question of choosing between Australian timber and timber from overseas, I should vote for the Australian timber every time; but when it is merely a question as to whether timber shall be imported in logs or in cut sizes, I say that it should be imported in logs, so that Australian machinery and Australian workmen may be employed in cutting it into the required measurements. I shall support the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Boothby.
.- It is our duty to develop Australia’s natural resources, and to give as much employment as possible to workers in this country. As one with a knowledge of the timber industry of Tasmania, I inform the committee that since the new duties were imposed in May the timber industry of that State has grown, and on the northwest coast alone has given employment to 400 additional men. Some honorable members have said that higher duties on
Oregon mean increased building costs, but the difference is, after all, trifling. In house construction the use of oregon is confined practically to architraves and doors; only on rare occasions isoregon used for roofing.
– Timber for floors, skirting boards, picture rails and most interior decoration is generally of Australian hardwood. This timber is being increasingly used for doors. I shall support the Government which, in this instance, is adopting a democratic policy. A good deal has been said about the amount of labour involved in cutting into sizes timber imported as logs, but I point out that two men can handle the biggest oregon log in a timber mill - one to head it in and the other to tail it out. The employment thereby provided is not nearly so great as is given in Australian forests to men who fell the trees, place them on the hauler, convey them to the mill and cut them up there. The term “robbery” has been mentioned. If robbery is inevitable, I prefer to be robbed by Australians, than by foreigners. There is a chance of getting even with the local robber, whereas there is no chance at all of getting even with the foreign exploiter. I have been associated with the building industry all my life, and my experience of imported pine timber, such as is used in weatherboard construction, is that it is full of knots and resin, which after a time fall out, leaving holes. Australian hardwood is different. Many thousands of acres of valuable timber have been destroyed by the farmers of this country in clearing land for the growing of wheat and other cereals. In the Barrington district of Tasmania, I have seen blackwood logs, 3 ft. 6 in. or 4 feet in diameter, rolled into heaps and burned. Such valuable timber - it is unsurpassed anywhere in the world - should be protected. Satisfactory working conditions obtain in Australian forests. Nowhere else in the world are men paid for the time that they are forced to remain in their tents because it is too wet for them to work. I am opposed to throwing Australian workers out of employment in order to increase the profits of foreign exploiters, and, therefore, I shall support the Government in its attempt to protect an Australian industry and Australian workmen. In many parts of the Commonwealth, Australian bushmen are engaged in laborious and skilful work, and I, for one, will not do anything to injure them.
– How many of them are in the unions ?
– If they are not in the unions, the fault lies with the union organizers. I shall vote with the Government to keep Australians in employment.
– If the Government’s proposals be carried, 50 men in my electorate will be thrown out of work.
– If those proposals be not carried 300 or 400 men on the north-west coast of Tasmania will lose their jobs. Those who support the amendment of the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Price) place the claims of the few men engaged in cutting up imported timber before the claims of large numbers of Australian bushmen in our forests. I prefer to vote in the interests of timber-getters in Australian forests instead of those in Canada and the United States of America. The more money that is expended in Australia in providing employment, the better it will be for this country. Naturally, carpenters and woodworkers prefer soft timber to Australian hardwood; but if they be true Australians, they will be willing touse Australian timber, even though it is more difficult to work. I remind the honorable member for Boothby and other South Australians that the people of Tasmania buy their oranges, not in the cheaper overseas market, but from growers at Renmark and other areas in Australia.
– Imported oranges cannot be obtained so cheaply.
– The people of South Australia must be prepared to be patriotic and loyal to the timber that is hewn in Tasmania. Another aspect of this matter is the fact that the Tasmanian timber is carried on vessels which are manned by crews which enjoy Australian rates of pay and conditions, whereas oregon and other imported pines are brought to this country on vessels manned by black coolie labour. If the matters of industrial ethics and trades unionism are to be imported into this debate, I ask honorable members who are opposed to the amendment moved by the Minister, whether they are prepared to protect labour throughout the country or whether their only concern is the small section of workers in their own electorates. For my part, I stand for the protection of the Australian worker against the foreign worker, and I am here to-day to do my bit towards ensuring that the Australian timber-cutters, no matter where they be situated, continue to be employed in producing timber for Australian timber-users.
.- I purpose voting for the amendment moved by the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Price). I have watched with interest to the differing stands taken by various members of the Opposition on this matter. It has been recognized for many years, however, that in the building trade, places exist both for hardwoods and for softwoods. I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) why he has listened so much to the Victorian Hardwood Millers Association on this matter. It is, in fact, the only organization to which he has listened. Victoria carries more weight with the Minister than any other State, and I look on that fact with deep regret. As a matter of fact, at this moment, I notice how carefully honorable members from Victoria have crowded around the Minister in order to induce him to stand firm on his amendment. I desire also to know why the Minister has passed over this most important statement by the Tariff Board -
It has boon proved beyond reasonable doubt that Douglas fir is an essential requirement of the building industry in most of the Australian States. It follows then that if the cost of Douglas flr is increased by a duty, the building industry must carry the impost, and its revival will be impeded. Conversely, if the building industry is relieved of any of its existing burdens its recovery will be expedited.
– The answer is that that report was written early in 1933. The recovery has started and is going on apace.
– The reason for the diminished use of hardwood timber from 1934 onwards, is the fact that there has been a depression. There has been practically no activity in the building of workmen’s homes. In my electorate alone 500 homes could be let with the utmost facility if they were built. Building has not been carried on to the extent necessary, and accordingly the hardwood industry has suffered, but the softwood industry has suffered to the same degree The extra duty proposed by the Government will mean that the Australian workman engaged in cutting up the oregon timber, which is as essential in the building of homes as is hardwood, will be put out of work. Furthermore, the cost of workmen’s homes must be increased as the result of the increased duty. To place increased burdens on the workers seems to be governmental policy. State governments have allowed the cost of bricks to rise by 10s. a thousand, and the cost of tiles has also risen greatly.
– The Stevens Government did that.
– I am not concerned with the actual party responsible. My contention is that whoever did it acted wrongly. It is just as essential to keep down the cost of building as it is to keep down the cost of foods.
– That is why the Government took the sales tax off building materials.
– And not before time.
– We did not impose it.
– No, but this Government has kept it on for a long while. If, however, there is any virtue in the Minister’s statement, the Government has not relieved the people on the breadline to the extent that it should. One example of the added burdens cast upon the poorer classes is the high cost of war service homes. This is due, not only to high building costs, hut also to the fact that no new war service homes are being built. Also evidencing the way in which the poorer classes are being exploited is the fact that, in my electorate, a three-roomed cottage which, in 1932, was rented at 12s. 6d. a week, cost the tenant 17s. 6d. a week in January, 1936. When he was unable to pay that amount and vacated the premises, the rent for the new tenant was raised to £1 a week.
– The people responsible for that kind of thing are the .people whom the honorable gentleman seeks to protect.
– I am seeking to protect the man who is on relief work. and who was paying 12s. 6d. a week for his home four years ago,, and when faced with demands for increased payments offered 16s. 6d. a week. His offer was rejected and the rent was subsequently raised to 17s. 6d., and then to £1. The only way iri which this problem can be dealt with is by making building materials cheaper in order that new homes may be built and leased at reasonable rates. Duties of this kind do not create a position which will help the building trade, as every extra duty on timber makes for added costs of building. I submit that the statement made by the Tariff Board should have carried more weight with the Minister than any other statement to which he could give his attention. The Tariff Board’s report continued -
The board lias given serious consideration to the question of employment, and is convinced that in recommending lower duties it is doing more to increase employment than if it recommended duties which are practically prohibitive.
The Minister has told honorable members a thousand times that the Tariff Board consists of experts who go into every State and take evidence from industries into which they are inquiring before they produce, for the benefit of this House, a report containing the highest expert knowledge obtainable in this country; yet, in this respect, he has ignored its findings. The report went on -
The building industry is. a large employer of labour, and on its success or otherwise the fate of allied and subsidiary industries depends.
I ask why the Government has overlooked that.
The following table shows the relative per capita use of sawn timber: -
Figures for the years 1934-35 and 1.935-36 would show increases in regard to the use of both softwoods and hard woods, and with the honorable member for Parkes (Sir Charles Marr), I contend that this is not a question of hardwood versus softwood. Each is complementary to the other. When I built my home 30 years ago, the carpenter declined to use, in certain parts of the building; a large quantity of hardwood, for the reason that oregon was the best wood to use. I admit that there are certain timbers in Queensland which are of great use for building purposes, and if there were sufficient quantities to supply the whole of Australia-
– There are.
– There are not. Unfortunately, Queensland adopts a policy which prevents its timbers from competing in the southern markets. By royalty charges and enhanced freights Queensland, although it is governed by a keen set of men, has cut itself off from theother States.
– That is untrue.
– That is true. I have inspected timber yards in Queensland, and I know that Queensland produces some of the finest timbers in the world. Their uses are many and varied, and they are being used in the Australian timber industry to-day. I contend that, in certain sections of the building trade, Oregon will never take the place of Queensland’ timbers, but, at the same time, I contend also that Queensland timbers will never replace oregon in the sections of the trade in which it must be used. No matter how much the Government seeks to prevent oregon from coming into Australia, its importation must continue, and what the Government is doing is to raise the duty on log oregon to such a level that it will be cheaper to import sawn oregon; thereby an industry which is employing a great number of men will be almost irreparably damaged. With all due respect to honorable members who claim that they are always on the side of the Australian worker, if they vote for the Government’s proposal they will . be damaging the interests of the men who are employed in the sawing of oregon logs in Australia, and giving the benefits they now enjoy to men. in Canada.
.- I desire to correct some misleading statements that have been made to-day in re- gard to hardwoods. Some honorable members appear to think that only a lunatic would use hardwood in certain parts of houses, but I could show to them buildings at Port Arthur built by convict labour about 100 years ago, and still in a state of excellent preservation, in which hardwood was used to the exclusion of all other timbers for the stay3 and ‘buttresses, and in fact, for every purpose for which timber was necessary. People used hardwood in building construction work in Australia until oregon became cheap enough to use, and then they used oregon because it was more easily worked. It appeared to me that the honorable member for Parkes (Sir Charles Marr) did not know what he was talking about when he addressed himself to the subject of roofing timbers. Some honorable gentlemen have said that the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) is interested only in the Victorian industry. It must be borne in mind that the local timber industry is important to every State except perhaps South Australia, but even South Australia is, to-day, planting forests and seeking to supply its own needs.
– South Australia is actually supplying Victoria with timbers from its south-eastern areas.
– I am glad to hear that statement. The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) said that 200 men were employed in the timber mills of Sydney normally, but I ask him to remember that at one time 4,000 men were employed in the milling industry of Tasmania. For every man employed in a city mill a dozen are employed in ‘ the bush. The latest band saw mills handle the timber almost automatically - not even a header-in is required. Practically no hand labor is used. It is essential that we should find additional work for men in our bush areas. The honorable member for Denison (Mr. Mahoney) stressed this point. The people who go into the backblocks actually develop the country. They hew out the forests and make some settlement possible, and then villages grow. The honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain) had a little to say about sweating in the timber industry, but I do not think he knows much about the subject. The timber workers are better organized than the employees in many other Australian industries. They are very easily organized. Recently I visited a timber mill where there was no organization, but a man very quickly volunteered to undertake the organization of his fellow workers and he got them all to pay in to the union. Conditions in the timber mills are better than they are in most industries.’ The honorable member for the Northern Territory ought to go back to the country where the blackfellows are, for judging from his speech that appears to be all that he knows anything about. I sincerely trust that the Government will adhere to the duties provided in the schedule. I believe that the policy which has been enunciated will protect the interests of bushmen and millers in every State.
– I rise to speak a word in defence of the unfortunate forests which are being destroyed. Dumb as they are, yet how they speak with mysterious tongue. Only the right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) seems to have given any thought to this branch of the subject. We are cutting too much timber in Australia. It has surprised me that in thecourse of this debate the view of the Inspector-General of Forests, Mr. LanePoole, has not been referred to, for he is an authority on the subject. If he were consulted I believe -that he would deprecate the cutting out of our forests in order that the timber mills might go “full smoke ahead”. We should notexploit our forests as we are doing. The Inspector-General of Forests should be requested to gather data of the forestry resources of Australia for submission toParliament, and the Government should attempt to rationalize forestry activities. This Government is more to blame forth e cutting out of our forests than previous governments, for it has more information at its hand than has been available to previous administrations’. Weshould think of the future as well as the present. It will be wrong for us tocriticize what our forebears have done in depleting our forests if we pursue thesame course. Much as I appreciate theremarks of the right honorable memberfor Yarra, in his delightful speech on forestry last year, I contend that we must reorientate our ideas.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Prowse).The honorable gentleman had better confine his remarks to the item.
– I contend that when we import too little timber we must cut too much. This tariff has been framed by people with too little knowledge of the subject. I deplore the fact that so many of our timber mills are overwhelmed with orders. We should regulate both local and overseas supplies so as to maintain a balance between them, even to regulating the percentage of grades of imported and local timbers used in houses of definite designs. Our endeavour should be to preserve our forests so far as we’ can, keeping in mind reasonable price conditions for home building, and reasonable wage conditions for the cutters and haulers engaged in the industry. I regret that both the forests and forest workers of Queensland are being exploited.
– Of which part is the honorable member speaking?
– Of South Burnett, Bunya Mountains and other places. I should like to have the opportunity to entertain some honorable gentlemen at my own home in that area, so that they may ascertain for themselves that certain workers in the timber industry are, in fact, working under sweating conditions. I have seen men carting logs pass my home at midnight and at 3 o’clock in the morning, yet the return they receive for their work i3 quite inadequate, although the big timber merchants are able, by reason of the tariff, to charge inordinately high prices for timber to the detriment of the cutters and haulers. It is a disgrace to the Queensland Government that these men are treated so outrageously. We should attempt to preserve the balance in this important industry, controlling importations so that our own resources shall be husbanded wisely. It would be desirable, for the Commonwealth Government to determine what percentage of our timber needs shall be allocated to oregon and what percentage to other timbers. The quantity of softwood timbers used in ordinary dwelling houses should also be rationed. I am fortified in this state ment by a remark of the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) to the effect that oregon is the greatest competitor with our local timbers. We ought not to hasten the depletion of our forests by unduly restricting the importation of
Oregon, but should do all that is possible to encourage the use of our hardwoods in the best way.
– I have already pointed out that importations of Oregon are increasing.
– Yet the Minister says that Oregon is the greatest competitor with our local timbers. I should be prepared to allow sufficient oregon to enter Australia to lengthen the life of our forests reasonably. In that way we would bridge the gap which must inevitably occur and at the same time would enable our thinned-out and replanted forests to reach maturity.
– That is what the Government is doing.
– Yet the timber mills are working at full capacity. I support the remarks of the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) that certain men who, under the previous customs duties, were employed in the sawing of imported Oregon logs, have now lost their employment. Last year when I was at Alice Springs, I met three carpenters who had lost their employment at Port Adelaide on this account. Later I met one of the men at Newcastle Waters. He was a good tradesman and a returned soldier. He told me that until the new duties became operative he had had constant work at Port Adelaide.
– I suppose the job on which he worked was finished.
– He told me that he had lost his work when the new duties came into operation. His reasons were similar to those given by the honorable member for Hindmarsh, and he stated that small additions to houses had become too costly. The Government would be well advised to order a stocktaking of our timber resources and the InspectorGeneral of Forests, Mr. Lane-Poole, should be employed on that work. The honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Price) has requested that certain action be taken by the Government. My information is that the timber merchants are already making a fine “rake-off” from this industry. People buy £ in. boards and are charged for 1 in. boards. It is easy enough to calculate the number of super, feet in a log, say, 30 ft. long, with an SO-in. girth in the middle. I submit that it is entirely unfair that merchants should be allowed to charge for 1 in. boards when they deliver only § in. boards. A fine “ rake-off “ is made also in regard to ironbark or jarrah weatherboards. I have no doubt that many sawmillers actually benefit to the extent of 1,000 ft. of weatherboard for every 1,000 super, feet they saw from certain big timber logs on which they pay a royalty. For this obvious reason two weatherboards are cut from the one board. Reversion to the Hoppus method of measurement would not get us very far. I cannot ‘see that the proposal of the honorable member for Boothby would remedy the ills of the present situation, as it is quite clear that the millers have been charging for something which has not been delivered for years. Mr. Lane-Poole could undoubtedly give the Government and the Tariff Board valuable information on this whole subject, and I suggest, in the interests of the preservation of the forests of Australia, that his advice should be sought. Recently, I had a conversation with the Chief Forester of Brisbane on this subject in the course of which I asked him, “Don’t you think the Commonwealth should control these forests in some way, by tariff action or otherwise, so as to regulate imports?” He replied, “We will let the Commonwealth control our forests when we are mendicants and have nothing”. That is frequently the trouble. The Commonwealth comes into the matter when the States have exhausted all their resources as the result of undue exploitation by the millers. Why should we wait until that perilous condition is reached? Now is the time to take action to preserve our forests. It seems to me that in certain States, at any rate, the natural forests of the country arc being exploited to a degree of which honorable members generally are ignorant, and the timber cutter or hauler is still being deprived of decent living conditions.
Mr. HOLLOWAY (Melbourne Ports) to what I said previously in connexion with this subject, in order to reply to some of the points raised by honorable members during the discussion this afternoon. It has been asserted, by innuendo at any rate, that the imposition of the new timber duties has reduced employment in that section of the timber industry engaged in cutting up imported oregon logs. Figures which I have in my possession prove that that is not so. The new duties have been in operation for about six months, and during that period the number of logs imported lias increased. It can be seen, therefore, that no harm has yet been done. It can also be shown that the continuance of the importation of softwoods will make possible greatercompetition against Australian hardwoods, although their use may seem tobe most desirable. The duties should remain as now proposed, otherwise more logs will be imported and less Australian timber will be used. The statement that there is a good deal of sweating in the Australian industry and that more men are employed in cutting up imported timber than are engaged in the Australian section of the trade is absolutely contrary to the truth. If sweating exists, it is in city saw-mills, where imported timbers are cut up, largely by juvenile labour employed at low wages. I speak with some knowledge of this subject, because, in the past, I have had many headachesin my endeavours to protect the wages of the men working in the city saw-mills. I have in my hand a letter from the secretary of the Australian Timber Workers Union, which contains some up-to-date information in regard to the timber industry. Dealing with the question of employment, this gentleman writes -
The protection of the Australian hardwood saw-milling industry provides twice as much employment as if there was no adequate protection. Practical timber-workers realize that the cutting of hardwood timbers provides at least twice as much employment as the labour required in the cutting of imported, timbers. . . .
At a compulsory conference convened by Dethridge, G.J. iri October last, the hardwood saw-millers arrived at an agreement with the union to concede increased marginal rates for approximately SO per cent, of the workers engaged in that section of the industry. The increases ranged from 2s. to 12s., whereas the employers who cut and machine imported timbers only conceded an increase of 3s. per week for band sawyers.
The band sawyers are the top-notchers in the industry -
Re machinists : This section of the employers were adamant in their refusal to grant any increased marginal rates and stood solid for the Lukin classification ofwood machinists.
I may say that the marginal rates set out in the Lukin award, which is still operating, were reduced by from 3s. to 18s. a week below the previous award. The hardwood millers agreed to fix the margin for skill for No. 1 sawyers, the most expert men in the industry, at 27s. a week. One saw-miller from Adelaide requested the court to fix a margin for skill of18s. a week for his No. 1 sawyer.
– What are the wages paid in the bush mills compared with those paid in city mills?
– The honorable member would be ashamed of the wages set out in the Lukin award. The letter from which I am quoting continues -
Another striking feature of the present court proceedings is that the box and case manufacturers, of whom a number are also engaged in the cutting of imported logs, are risking the court to confer upon them the legal right to use unrestricted boy labour. To give youan idea of what this request means let me here cite what is occurring in General Motors-Holdens Limited, Box and Shook department, Adelaide : in January, 1936, they had 138 juveniles and eighteen adults; in February, 145 to fifteen adults-
– Order ! The honorable member is getting wide of the subject.
– I am showing why the present duties should be maintained. These men are engaged in the cutting up of imported logs. In August 1936, General Motors-Holdens Limited employed 74 juveniles to seven aduts. If that is not sweating, I do not know what is. The timber merchants of Adelaide, including those who cut imported logs, are asking the court to fix an hourly instead of a weekly engagement. There is not the slightest doubt that the present duties are in the best interests of the timber workers of Australia. The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) has already read a letter from the employers saying the same thing. The secretary to the employees’ union goes on to point out that the present duties will safeguard the workers engaged in the timber industry; that the wages paid in the Australian section of the industry are higher than those paid in the import section, and that in the bush-workers section ten juveniles are employed to one adult as against 74 juveniles to seven adults in the General Motors-Holdens Limited works. In the interests of those employed in the industry the present duties should remain.
– I desire to say one or two words in reply to statements made by honorable members opposite. May I say at the outset that I propose to support the existing duties because I realize that they will have a beneficial effect on the timber industry, not only in Queensland, but also over the whole of the Commonwealth. The honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain) said that he learned from visits to the timber country of Queensland that timber haulers were being exploited by the State Government. That statement is not in accordance with facts; the Queensland Government does not employ the people engaged in hauling timber from the forests to the mills; they are employed by the different mills under contract. The honorable member also stated that the conditions under which the timber workers of Queensland generally were working left much to be desired and that, in fact, sweating was indulged in. That statement also is incorrect. Timber workers in Queensland, in common with workers engaged in practically every other industry in that State, enjoy better conditions than operate in any other State in Australia. Statements of the sort made by the honorable member must not be allowed to pass unchallenged. As a matter of fact the Government of Queensland has done everything to assist in bringing the timber industry up to its present state of efficiency. Due to the efforts of the State Government and to the new timber duties imposed by the Commonwealth Government, the Queensland timber industry to-day is more prosperous than it has been for many years. Queensland is fortunate in possessing large quantities of timber much superior to that grown in the other States.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
– The Queensland timber industry is in a most flourishing condition, due chiefly to the fact that the State Government has assisted it in every way possible. Its action in that respect has been recognized and appreciated by all of those associated with the industry from the men who fell the timber in the forests to those who use it in building or for other purposes. The timber industry provides employment for more workers in Queensland than in any other State of the Commonwealth. Honorable members who have visited Queensland must have realized that that State which has larger timber areas than any other State, including even Tasmania, can supply practically all classes of hardwood and softwoods required. Several honorable members have said during this debate that it is absolutely essential to import oregon, as it is almost indispensable for building purposes; but practically every home in Queensland is constructed of local hardwood or softwood. The roofing timbers are of Queensland pine, which is of exceptionally good quality, and the heavy joists and studs are of Queensland hardwood. Queensland homes compare more than favorably with those in any other State, and dwellings can be built in Brisbane at a lower cost than in any other capital city. Some honorable members have advocated a reduction of duty on Oregon, because it is contended that builders cannot obtain Australian timbers to suit their requirements; but Queensland can supply all kinds of timber used in home construction, and foi- almost any other purpose. It is necessary to import a certain quantity of Oregon; but even under the present duties, those who have to purchase supplies will be able to obtain all they require at reasonable rates. A certain quantity of Oregon is used in Queensland, but only in the construction of large buildings, in which it is more suitable than Queensland pine. The existing rates of duty have provided employment for additional workers in the forest areas, not only of Queensland, hut also in the other States. For these reasons, I trust that the Minister (Mr. White) will not accept the amendment moved by the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Price). I intend to support the duties in the schedule, because I believe that they are in the interests of the majority of the Australian people.
– I compliment the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) upon the attitude he has adopted in connexion with these duties, because I believe that, in taking a long-range view of the position, he is safeguarding the welfare of the Australian timber industry. I know that if architects, builders, carpenters and joiners were consulted, we should find that they are opposed to the present duties, because Oregon is easier to work than many other timbers. But if we inspected some of the substantial structures in and around Sydney, now being demolished, we should find that oregon has not been used in the construction of any of them, showing that in the early days hardwood was used effectively and economically for building purposes. If we were sufficiently patriotic, we should find that timber other than Oregon can still be used without injuring any one. A succesful policy of re-afforestation cannot be carried on unless the Government devises some means whereby the timbers that we are now growing can be used more extensively. The duties in operation prior to. the introduction of this schedule assisted importers of logs, but that industry has developed at the expense of many country workers. Representatives of country timber-milling associations have said that, since the present duties have been operative, there has been increased employment in timber-getting, and sawmillers have also been able to dispose of stocks that had been on hand for some time. In the timber-cutting districts more work is now being done than was the case before the present duties became operative.
– Because more buildings are being erected.
– Yes, and there have been heavier importations of oregon on that account. I realize the difficulties :>f those who find it more convenient to use Oregon; but reafforestation can be encouraged and developed only by using our own sawn timbers wherever practicable.
Question - That the word proposed to be omitted (Mr. Price’s amendment) stand part of the proposed amendments - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. Prowse.)
Majority . . . . 17
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendments (Sir Henry Gullett’s) agreed to.
. -Since the committee has clearly indicated its opinion by the vote just taken, I could serve no good purpose by persisting with my other amendment. Therefore, I do not propose to go on with it.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
By omitting the whole of paragraph (4) (twice occurring) of sub-item (d) and inserting in its stead the following paragraph: - “ (4) Chassis, including lamps but not including rubber tyres and tubes, storage batteries, shock absorbers (excepting steering dampers ), bumper bars, sparking plugs and springs-
Unassembled, viz.: - Car, and car type capable of use for commercial vehicles, per lb., British, free; intermediate, 5d. ; general, 5½d.
Unassembled, viz.: - Truck omnibus or other commercial vehicle, per lb., British, free; intermediate, 4¼d. ; general, 4¾d.
Assembled, per lb., British, l¼d.; intermediate6½d. ; general, 7d. and in respect of sub-paragraphs (a), (b) and (c)- An additional duty of, per lb., British 7d.; intermediate, . 7d. ; general, . 7d.
Provided that for the purposes of subparagraphs (a) and (b) the classification shall be as determined by the Minister and the Minister’s decision shall be final.”
Item proposed to be amended - 359 (d) (4) Chassis, including lamps but not including rubber tyres and tubes, storage batteries, shook absorbers (excepting steering dampers), bumper bars, sparking plugs and springs -
Unassembled, ad valorem, British, free; intermediate, 32½ per cent.; general, 32½, per cent.
Assembled, ad valorem, British, 5 per cent.; intermediate, 45 per cent.; general, 45 per cent.
.- In this item for trade diversion purposes it is proposed to charge the duty on motor chassis on a basis of weight instead of ad valorem. Apparently, however, it is the policy of the Government, if the manufacture of complete motor cars is undertaken in Australia, to confine their construction to two, or at the most three separate makes. Indeed the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties (Sir Henry Gullett) has already indicated that the market will be reserved almost entirely, if not completely, to those concerns which make an immediate beginning with manufacture in Australia. The altered method of assessing the duties has resulted in raising the price of popular American cars in Australia by approximately £15 each, which represents a very large sum of money on all the cars sold in Australia in a year. It appears rather anomalous, therefore, that we should impose duties to effect diversion of trade to the United Kingdom, and yet at the same time threaten the United Kingdom market in Australia. The Minister has promised however, that the proposal to manufacture motor cars in Australia will be referred to the Tariff Board which, after inquiry, will report whether, in its opinion, the proposal is economic. The Government proposes to impose an additional duty of 7d. per lb. on imported motor chassis for the purpose of raising money with which to pay a bounty on cars manufactured in Australia. It is possible that the Tariff Board, after investigation, will recommend that it would be uneconomic to proceed with the manufacture of motor cars in Australia, just as on a previous occasion, it recommended that the manufacture of motor car bodies was uneconomic. The Government would then have to decide whether to proceed. with this proposal, or abandon it, and I maintain that, until it is in a position to state definitely that manufacture is to begin it should not impose any duty for the purpose of establishing a fund from which to pay a bounty. If, on the advice of the Tariff Board, the Government should determine not to proceed with its proposal to have cars constructed in Australia, it would be in the position of having already collected, for no purpose, some hundreds of thousands of pounds from the users of motor cars. I have calculated that a duty of . 7d. per lb. rate on imported cars will average about £5 a car, perhaps a little less.
– That is what we have estimated.
– I am glad to have my calculation confirmed. Assuming that 70,000 are sold each year, this extra duty will amount to £350,000 a year, which represents a heavy additional impost upon the motoring public. The collection of this extra money would be particularly unjust should the Government eventually decide not to go on with its proposal. No doubt it will be argued that it is desirable to impose the duty immediately so that a fund may be established from which the bounty can be paid if and when the manufacture of motor cars in Australia becomes an accomplished fact. I do not agree with that, however. It is estimated that, during the first year, 5,000 cars will be manufactured, so that the bounty payable at the rate of £30 on each car, will be £150,000. It is evident that if collection of this duty of . 7d. per lb. were deferred until the manufacture of cars actually began, there would still be plenty of money in hand to pay the bounty.
– But only for the first year.
– Well, during the second year, it is estimated that 15,000 cars will be manufactured, and that the bounty on each car will be £26. This will absorb £390,000 or very little more than the amount estimated to be raised during a full year by the extra duty. Therefore, I maintain that there is no justification for imposing the duty now. If, after inquiry, the Tariff Board recommends that the manufacture of cars is an economic possibility, then will be time enough to impose the duty. Therefore, I move -
That in respect of sub-paragraphs (a), (b), and (c) of paragraph (4) - an additional duty of - per lb., British, . 7d.; intermediate, . 7d.; general, . 7d.; he postponed.
– I trust that the committee will not agree to theamendment moved by the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Hutchinson). The Government, after a very careful investigation, has arrived at the conclusion that internal combustion engines, particularly of the motor car type, should be manufactured in Australia. Such an industry is, if anything, overdue in this country. The Government was led to that conclusion by the fact that there is no other country using so many motor cars as are used in Australia which is not already a successful manufacturer of motor car engines. We should be entirely false to the principle of protection, and to the policy of building up indispensable engineering industries in Australia, if we did not take a definite step towards the establishment of the motor chassis manufacturing industry in this country. We are endeavouring to bring this about as expeditiously as is consistent with economy. I ask the committee to consider the facts I have placed before it and test the proposal by the following consideration: - Is there any prospect of the manufacture of the internal combustion engine in Australia being less economic than the engineering we already have? I submit first - although the case can be put far more strongly - that unless it can be established that the manufacture of the internal combustion engine and chassis within the Commonwealth is going to prove less economic that the engineering already established here, a complete case “is made out for it, because no other industry is so vitally necessary to this country. Nothing we have already done here in manufacturing will give us greater means of creating employment in one piece, nothing will more stimulate and make more economic the other industries we have established here, such as the iron and steel industry generally, nothing will give us a bigger one-piece increase of coal output and of transport, and, over and above all, no project that wu could bring into this House will do more for our defence. It is on that last consideration that a great deal of this case must and does rest. No one can read the papers in these days without being impressed and depressed by the world’s news. I do not wish to sound any note of uneasiness or alarm as to the safety of Australia; I speak, I hope, very deliberately and coolly in terms . of plain common sense, when I say that a young country like this, with its amazing spread and its extraordinary homemaking capacity cannot be safe unless we are up and doing to bring about a far stouter defence than we can show the world now. At the present time we take various steps towards defence, by means of increased expenditure upon actual defence services and . equipment, but no expenditure that we can afford will give us adequate defence, which, for a country like this, must be gained more by indirect than by direct means. As time goes on, war will become more and more mechanized. We can no longer look to either loan or revenue expenditure to provide sufficient straight-out war weapons and war mechanism. We are proceeding now to build aircraft engines, but all the efforts of a company with a capital of £1,000,000 cannot for many years provide us with a sufficient air force or air equipment to carry us through a time of real trouble. In any isolated country it is necessary to have behind a sufficient air force, a far greater capacity for building internal combustion engines than we can have in ft normal peace-time aircraft factory. In other words, to put this country on a safer basis of air defence, we must have an engine-building industry. That is indispensable to the safety of every advanced country in the world. We must first have our engines, but also, for the safety of a country like this, we must have mechanics, more particularly highly skilled engineering mechanics, to produce the modern mechanism of war. We cannot get enough mechanics for adequate enginemaking out of one aircraft factory. Only a handful of them can be engaged there. We must establish an industry which will provide employment for 6,000 or 7,000 skilled engineering mechanics. The > making of motor engines is such an industry. Its skilled artificers, spread over the engineering works of the Commonwealth as key men, can give us an almost immeasurable output in lime of war. I did not at the outset base my advocacy of this policy upon that argument, nor did I at the outset make a straight-out trade diversion measure of it, because I believed the economics of it to be absolutely sound ; but we cannot contemplate Australia’s future with peace of mind unless we have definitely taken steps to establish in a big way the manufacture of the internal combustion engine - and there is room for it in a big way, not only for aircraft engines but also for all land transport. War in this country will not mean going to earth, as we did in Flanders and in France. We may do that in isolated areas, but the war of the future here will be an extraordinarily mobile war, far more mobile than would be possible with horse transport or horse-mounted troops. Motor transport will be essential. The basis of the re-armament that has been taking place since the new war scare arose, and of the immense multiplication of air squadrons and wings in the great countries of the world, lies not in the building of thousands of new engines in the old aircraft engine factories, but in the mobilization of the motor car building factories. Nothing but that can put us on a safe basis. So associated is this industry with defence that in one great country of Europe the government has taken over the main motor building plant. It does not take it out of the hands of the owners, but it dictates everything that is done and everything that is built, and particularly lays it down that every chassis must be adaptable for gun haulage, whippet tanks, or other war purposes. . All chassis arc built with a capacity for instant conversion to wartime service. I cannot see anything that we can do better on an economic basis, or that will at the same time do more to increase the security of the Commonwealth in time of war.
– What about a little oil from coal, which is even more important?
– The Government has made practically a simultaneous announcement in that regard.
Order ! The Minister W111 not be in order in discussing that matter.
– The reason this project was not submitted to the Tariff Board was that, we had no application from a prospective manufacturer of motor car chassis and engines, nor do I suppose we shall ever get one unless we take some such steps as the Government is now taking. We shall always have great difficulty in getting evidence before the Tariff Board in favour of this industry because all the sources of well informed evidence available are interested in the import of chassis with engines into this country. I do not think there can be found a motor engine authority who is not employed by some firm interested in the importation of chassis into Australia. That was the obstacle in the way of a Tariff Board inquiry into the subject. There is no applicant, but I have the best reason for saying that, if this proposal of the Government receives a sound endorsement from Parliament, this industry will be commenced in the Commonwealth. Even now I foresee that the Tariff Board will have a heavy task in getting evidence in favour of its establishment. It will get a mountain of evidence from all the importing interests and all the great manufacturers of motor pars overseas, in favour of continuing importations.
– Will not the board get just as much evidence as the Government has?
– No, I do not think it can. There are sources of evidence, and very sound and credible evidence, which will not and cannot come before the Tariff Board, because, as I say, all the big interests in this industry are opposed to its establishment in Australia. Why should an importer who is doing well out of his present mode of business change over to manufacturing in Australia? When did an Australian importer ever vote for protection on the manufacture in Australia of the good® he was importing? I have not heard during this discussion one argument against the Government’s proposal which has not been used a thousand times in connexion with the establishment of every industry that has ever been brought into Australia. I attended the meetings of this Parliament as a very young man, and heard the first tariff introduced; from that day to this I have been familiar with the arguments used by honorable members against proposals of this kind.
I come now particularly to the amendment moved by the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Hutchinson) who asks that we should not continue to collect the duty of £5 now being imposed on each chassis. He thinks that we should not begin now to pile up a fund from which we may at an early date, and certainly at no distant date, begin to pay the bounty upon the Australian-made engine. The bounty for the first two years will be £30 a car.
– Does not the change over from an ad valorem duty to a fixed rate involve a substantial increase of the duty?
– It may, but it is not being collected for this particular purpose.
– What is it being collected for?
– It is a’ change-over based on policy.
– What is the. objective of the policy?
– It has nothing to do with diversion. That policy is to give increased preference to British motor cars in this market.
– Therefore it is not to give Australia an advantage.
– No, it has nothing to do with the establishment of the industry in this country.
– It is for the benefit of British manufacturers.
– It is, and more especially for their benefit over this transition period. A protective tariff will take the place sooner or later of the bounty which will expire as the importation of cars ceases. The changeover from the ad valorem duty to a specific rate per lb. was, in the main, designed to give a larger preference to British cars. The British manufacturers have been asking for it for many years, and it was justified unless we were to allow the British car to go entirely off the market, as it was doing at the time. The changeover will give to the British manufacturer a better opportunity to sell his motor cars in the brief transition period before the Australian chassis is manufactured. It is presumed that he will get that benefit at the expense of cars from North America as a whole.
Returning to the economics of this matter, I have already stated that, in my opinion, the Goverment’s policy cannot make the Australian motor car dearer than the price of imported vehicles at the present time. On the contrary, local manufacture of motor cars will actually make the product less expensive, and for a very simple reason. In the first place, a bounty of £30 will operate which will not be paid by the purchaser; it will he collected through the customs office at the rate of approximately £5 a car. Upon imported Canadian cars a duty of approximately £22 is imposed; upon cars of the United States of America origin, the average duty will be £43 or £44. That brings the total to £73 or £74, and on a conservative estimate £20 a body will be saved when we have mass production of cars in Australia. That gives in all a sum of over £90 by which the price of the local cnr could be increased before it. would become dearer than imported cars are at the present time. I fail to understand the reasoning of honorable members who insist that the manufacture of motor cars in Australia will increase the price of the vehicles by anything like that amount.
– A sum of £73 for each car will be lost to the revenue.
– When has the loss of revenue ever been used as a contention against the establishment of an industry in Australia? It is the last resort of opponents of Australian industry.
– The Minister used that argument in the past.
– Let us deal with one thing at a time. Of the amount for which a car is sold, only 20 per cent, on the average represents the goods imported into this country. Therefore, it is only on that 20 per cent, that the price of an all-Australian car can be made more expensive. Even if the Tariff Board were not being asked to report on this issue, the Government has never been committed to the manufacture in Australia of the whole chassis. At the very outset I said that the Government would submit the matter of chassis, frame and accessories entering as part of a chassis to the Tariff Board for consideration. The Government aims, very definitely, at the complete objective - the manufacture of the engine together with chassis parts in Australia - but we are confining our attention to the engine for the time being. The rest of the chassis will be dealt with by the imposition of duties or by other means to be decided by the Tariff Board. The factory cost for the engines coming into Australia does not exceed £30. The Government offers for two years a bounty of £30 on motor car engines, which is equivalent to 100 per cent, of their cost. Is there an honorable member who will contend that that does not provide an ample margin for the increased cost of manufacture in this country? We are building in Australia to-day nearly 5,000 oil engines, 80 per cent, of them being petrol driven, under a protective duty of 39 per cent.
– What is the average horse-power of those engines?
– It varies from horse-power to SO horse-power; most of the engines are small. This industry is very uneconomical for a simple reason: 22 manufacturers are engaged in turning out no fewer than twenty kinds of engines. Yet we are making up to 5,000 of them under a protective duty of 39 per cent. In respect of motor car engines manufactured in Australia, the Government offers a protective duty of 100 per cent. Such a proposal may seem generous to honorable members, but the Government recognizes that initial difficulties will arise. This will be a great national venture. I emphasize that the added cost of £30 will be provided by bounty at the outset; it will not be added to the cost of the motor car.
I come now to the imported chassis frames and accessories as distinct from engines. The factory cost of these parts is another £30; it cannot be any more than £35, because the landed cost, including transport, is between £70 and £80. I should not be prepared to propose a duty of anything like 100 per cent., but if that duty were imposed only £35 would be added to the import cost of the chassis. Against that there is in operation a protective duty on Canadian cars of £22 a car, and on cars from the United States of America, £43 a car. This will be taken away from the present price. In brief, that is the total increased cost. Then there will be, inevitably, a big saving on motor car bodies produced in the mass. How any honorable member can believe on these simple facts and figures that this will not be an economic industry, I fail to understand. In my view, it is not only the most economic, but also the greatest proposal for increasing employment in Australia that has ever been formulated by an Australian government. As a diverter of trade, it will cause £4,000,000 or £5,000,000 of Australian money which annually leaves the country for the purchase of foreign cars, to remain here. It is worthy of the support of every honorable member.
– The honorable member has not proved those statements. ,
– Such opposition has been encountered by every Minister for Trade and Customs from the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) in respect of every protective duty proposed since he entered this
Parliament. Therefore, I do not think that the honorable gentleman may be regarded as being a very convincing opponent of the establishment of new industries. !
In regard to the amendment, the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Hutchinson) stated that it is not reasonable for the Government to begin to collect .7d. per lb. or £5 a car at the present time. The reference of this matter to the Tariff Board is undoubtedly a venture, but I give the committee my assurance at this stage that if the Tariff Board itself, after an inquiry, arrives at the conclusion that I am totally wrong, and that this industry would be uneconomic and expensive, I shall be finished with the proposal. In that regard, I speak for the Government. It will not proceed with the expansion of this industry if the Tariff Board declares that it will be uneconomic.
– That is my point.
– But I do not abandon my complete belief that the construction of motor cars in Australia will be an economic industry, or my belief in the urgent necessity for establishing it at the earliest possible moment.
– The Government does not propose to ask the Tariff Board to frame its policy.
– No; but if the Tariff Board can prove that this industry is hopelessly uneconomic, I shall drop it.
– Then drop it now; it is only a big bluff.
– The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) is as a voice crying in the wilderness. In view of the fact that he represents an industrial constituency, it is extraordinary that the honorable member should oppose the establishment of this industry which gives such promise of creating employment.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Prowse).Order ! I ask the Minister to discuss the item.
– The Government firmly believes that this industry will prove economic; it is still more strongly of opinion that, in the national interests, the industry should be established at the earliest possible date.
Holding that view, the Government believes that it is completely justified in beginning now to establish a fund which will, unless we run the risk of making the car more expensive, be essential to the foundation of the industry. The honorable member for Indi contended that the Government would collect a lot of money this year, and for part of next year, before a start could be made with the industry. But a tax on six cars at the rate of £5 each is required to provide a bounty for the building of one engine in Australia. In those circumstances, the Government will need to accumulate a large sum of money in order to launch the industry successfully.
– That will not be the whole of the tax?
– The £5 is a special tax which will be paid into a fund. It will not be collected for the purposes of consolidated revenue.
– What will be the tax that the Government expects to collect on the remainder of the car?
SirHENRY GULLETT. - That will be a matter of future policy.
– It is expressed in this schedule now.
– That is not part of this scheme; I have already said that the change from the ad valorem to the weight basis, does not form part of the Australian building scheme.
– Hear, hear; that is the admission we want.
– That is a policy by itself; it serves only to make the position of British manufacturers a little stronger during the transition period. When the Australian industry comes into being, protection will apply against British cars as against foreign and Canadian cars, as do other duties for the protection of local industries. In the best informed minds in Great Britain, there is no opposition to the Government’s scheme. I do not say that the motor trade is not opposed to it; but there has grown up in the United Kingdom in very recent years a great belief in the value to the Empire as a whole of the development of engineering trades in the Commonwealth. I shall say no more upon that aspect; but it is a most significant development in the minds of prominent authorities of the United Kingdom.
– Does the Minister say that there will be no re-action against the Commonwealth’s policy at the Imperial Conference ?
– The British Government will not oppose this scheme. I have no hesitation in making that very definite statement.
– Will the Minister explain the reasons for the change from an ad valorem duty to a specific duty?
– Yes, at a later stage. At present, I desire to deal with this subject in a connected form. If the industry is to be successfully established, the Government must have the means for its assistance. It is no use waiting, perhaps until this time next year, for the Tariff Board to report and the Government to say that it proposes to establish the industry when it will not have so much as 5d. with which to help it. To collect sufficient with which to pay a bounty on cars produced in Australia will take a long time. Obviously, the bounty will be only a temporary measure, because, as imports diminish, the fund will fade out. I hope that honorable members who are favorable to big industrial development, the stimulation of employment, the resumption of migration upon a proper basis, and adequate defensive measures, will follow the Government sufficiently far to enable those objects to be achieved, particularly as the Government has met the wish of honorable members that the Tariff Board should conduct an investigation into the general, national, and economic aspect of the matter. I appeal to the honorable member for Indi to reconsider the matter, with a view to the withdrawal of his amendment.
.- It is perfectly true, as the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties (SirHenry Gullett) has said, that this is a matter of outstanding importance. Insofar as his proposals could be said to relate to the development of industry in Australia for purposes of national security, with consequential assistance to the improvement of the economic competence of Australian artisanship, we would welcome them, believing that they made a notable contribution to the future history of this country. But I cannot find in them any very substantial contribution to that objective. On the contrary, I find in them features that will very seriously militate against Australia’s present efficiency in respect of transport. In all probability, for the next few years - the period which the honorable gentleman has described as “ brief “ - a distinct impediment will be placed upon Australia’s industries by and large, many of which at present regard it as imperative that they shall have more substantial protection than the Government is apparently willing to give to them. Their costs are bound to be increased by this proceeding. We have to ascertain what the cost is likely to be of this addition to the industries of Australia, and make the necessary provision to meet it. We should need to have some account of the additional cost to the pastoral industry, the wheat industry, and other industries, and to make some adjustment in respect of it. The Minister has said that if the venture should prove uneconomic he would wash his hands of it.
– It would then be too late.
– Not at all.
– What, then, becomes of the argument that attracts me most - that this industry is essential for the defence and the security of Australia? Are we not assuredly in the position of being invited to do a thing because it is imperatively necessary, regardless of the cost?
– WO have never said that. We have mentioned an amount of £30.
– If it is imperativeand I believe that it is - that we should make some contribution towards Australia’s capability to defend itself, in a period in which mechanization is going to count most powerfully in war and in resistance to war, then most certainly we should make such provision as will enable Australia’s defensive forces to be properly mechanized. We should now be measuring and making preparations to meet the cost of every essential aspect of that mechanization. The honorable gentleman has said that if the venture should prove uneconomic it will not be s!>1 continued. If that be so, then apparently he would regard Australia’s defence as too costly to undertake. If private enterprise cannot do this thing, and the Tariff Board should advise the honorable gentleman accordingly, will he be prepared to utilize the collections for the purpose of establishing a Commonwealth unit, and prove that the Commonwealth can do what private enterprise has not done and well may not do? I am prepared to have this industry established either with or without the assistance of private enterprise, but I should prefer to have it as a national undertaking, the Commonwealth bearing all the experimental costs, and, furthermore, being itself responsible for its development. The Minister has said that this schedule concerns not only the development of the industry in Australia, but also, for a period: - I do not know the length of the period, but judging by the cautious observations of the honorable gentleman I should say that at present it is somewhat indefinite-
– I expressed the belief that an offer would be made soon after this measure had been passed by this chamber.
– I seriously question that, for reasons that I propose to give. This is a proposal to divert to the United Kingdom trade which at present apparently has its roots in Canada and the United States of America. The honorable gentleman has circulated figures which enable us to know precisely what has happened. I shall take those for the latest year, even though they are only preliminary. These show that Australia imported 14,000 odd chassis, valued at £1,497,000- over £100 apiece -from the United Kingdom; 30,800 valued at £1,600,000, or £54 each, from Canada; and 30,007, valued at £2,300,000, or approximately £75 each, from the United States of America. It i3 important to note that the Canadian chassis, the chassis of a sister dominion - a dominion, moreover, with which this Government has a trade treaty of a reciprocal nature - costs Australia less than does the chassis imported from the United States of America, and approximately one-half of that imported from the United Kingdom.
– They are chassis of different types.
– The types of chassis, I grant, vary. These figures are grouped. I have averaged the total number of chassis, with the value as set out in the table that the Minister himself has circulated. I submit that, by and large, from the viewpoint of Australian transportation, whether for pleasure or for service, the Canadian chassis last year cost Australia approximately one-half of what the chassis from the United Kingdom cost. Yet the Minister proposes to divert a large portion of this trade from Canada to a country, imports from which will inevitably involve a substantial addition to the costs of Australian transportation services !
– The Canadian figure was made up very largely of imports of two cheap makes of car.
– Surely a car is not to be banned from Australia because it is cheap !
– It is not being banned. I merely mention a fact which destroys the honorable gentleman’s argument. It is a matter of quality, not of value, on either side.
– The quality has to be taken into account from the chassis viewpoint. We have also to consider the probable economic incidence on the life of Australia. The Government says that at some distant time cars will be produced in Australia, and that in the immediate interim this trade is to be diverted to Great Britain. I am merely pointing out that in doing that we shall probably impose an immediate additional cost on Australian transportation. I believe that the change-over from the ad valorem rate of duty which has hitherto applied, to the poundage duty at the rates specified in the schedule, will involve approximately an increased customs duty of 113 per cent.
– The honorable gentleman is figuring very widely. I shall give the official figures.
– Very well ; the official figures can be examined. The honorable gentleman says that the cheap cars come from Canada. The cheap cars are the popular cars.
– Not all of them come from Canada.
– Two standard types do. I ask honorable members to consider what the Canadians have done for Australian transportation services. First, they have respected every change that we have made in our tariff from time to time. They have endeavoured to adapt their industry to Australian requirements. They have done what Great Britain has not done - invested a very large amount of capital in the manufacture of auxiliaries to motor services in Australia. I am told, and I believe, that £2,000,000 of Canadian capital has been invested in the Australian motor industry; that large works of a variety of kinds have been established; and that 2,900 Australians are employed in these establishments. The British car manufacturer desires only local agencies engaged in distributing the cars that he makes. He has invested little or no money in the development in Australia of the assembling branch of the industry. He has not done anything in connexion with body-building in Australia. But he has complained that he has experienced difficulty in obtaining bodies for English chassis. I daresay that that is true. The considerable volume of evidence which has been adduced in this chamber in recent debates would suggest that that is the case. Apparently, the explanation is that the Canadian chassis manufacturer has been ready to invest sufficiently largely in the Australian bodybuilding industry to enable him to have bodies constructed in accordance with our desires. Our tariff policy has led along those lines, and he has respected it by largely investing in the Australian bodybuilding industry. The result has been, not the complete establishment of the motor industry, but, to the extent that our tariff has encouraged the development of that industry, a manufacturing activity which makes a definite contribution to the ultimate objective of the Government. On this point, all that I shall say is that I understand that it was the Bruce-Page Government which invited the Canadian interests to invest in Australia; and while no assurances were given in respect of future policy, none the less it was believed that the Australian tariff changes made from time to time would have the exclusive objective of encouraging the development of an Australian industry in respect of the manufacture of motor cars. The policy that we are now considering does not do that.
– Are these Canadian interests prepared to go further?
-I do not know. I simply say that the Canadians who have invested £2,000,000 in an Australian industry will have no complaint against this Parliament for a breach of any assurance, either implied or half-stated, if in our tariff policy we protect the Australian industry against all-comers. I think, however, that they have most reasonable ground for dissatisfaction with a proposal to divert chassis-building, not from Canada to Australia, but from Canada to the United Kingdom. There is nothing anti-British about my argument. The Minister cannot, in this debate, make any of the suggestions for which he was somewhat chided in another discussion.
– Undeservedly so.
– After all, we are dealing with a partnership of countries which are members of the British Commonwealth of Nations. With the Dominion of Canada we have a treaty which, only a week or two ago, we were assured was a most satisfactory one, and I cannot see why we should regard as reasonable a tariff schedule which places a chassis from Canada almost on the same basis as one from a foreign country.
– By no means.
– The British preferential rate is free, the intermediate rate 5d. per lb., and the general tariff 5½d. per lb. The difference between the British and the intermediate rates is enormous, whereas the difference between the intermediate and general rates is not great.
– On the weight basis the new duty against Canada is £21, and against the United States of America and other foreign countries, it is £44.
– Where does the difference come in?
– It is the difference between 2½d. per lb. against Canada and 5½d. per lb. against the foreigner.
– Apparently the Canadian preferential tariff, which has not yet been submitted to us, provides a rate of 2½d. per lb. against Canada and 5½d. per lb. against foreign countries, whilst the British preferential rate will be free. Although these duties may divert certain trade from the United States of America to Canada, the Minister stated in his speech on the 22nd May last, that the major purpose is to divert even from Canada to the United Kingdom, trade which Canada previously enjoyed.
– I do not think that I broadly stated that.
– The Minister said that in the interim, whatever the. space of time might be, the purpose of the schedule was to give definite encouragement to the British manufacturer. I take it that that encouragement means a rate of duty so substantial as to give the British manufacturer an advantage in the Australian market over the Canadian manufacturer. If it gives an advantage which is sufficient to be substantial, obviously the Canadian must be prejudiced.
The Canadians have treated us handsomely by reason of their trade investments in this country. If the Minister had looked at this matter wisely, and with more deliberation than appears to have marked the preparation of this policy, he would have invited the representatives of those now engaged in the motor industry in Australia to present to him their views upon the point. He might have said to them, “ We know that you are importers of chassis and that your paramount interest is probably to retard the manufacture of motor cars in Australia, but it is our intention to launch this enterprise, and we believe you are in a position to assist us to face the initial difficulties, and to frame a tariff schedule which will help to carry out our objective and, at the same time, will be fashioned in the light of greater knowledge of the factual position than we now have “.
The Minister said that the Tariff Board could not obtain the whole of the facts.
– I stated that it had great difficulty in getting them.
– But the difficulty of the board could not be greater than that of the Minister. He has been around the world, it is true, but his department -was occupied with a great variety of exacting problems last year. I believe that the trade diversion policy with respect to motor cars was arrived at somewhat hurriedly between the 1st April, when the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Fairbairn) delivered his speech and the 22nd May last; that an interval of not more than two months elapsed between the conception of the idea and the launching of the proposal in this chamber.
The Minister has asked for facts. Approximately 30,000 motor car engines were imported from Canada last year. The disbursements in this country due to the assembling of the 30,000 motor cars in which the engines were placed amounted to £1,082,000. Of that sum, labour accounted for £142,000, material £690,000 and overhead costs £250,000. I am informed that, as the result of the policy introduced on the 22nd May, employment in the motor industry fell from 8,993 on the 1st April, to 6,102 on the 1st November. It appears that at the present time, at any rate, the great mass of the Australian workmen employed in the automobile industry’ is engaged either in assembly plants and repair shops or in connexion with services associated with body-building. Apart from this, no great amount of employment is afforded in Australia in putting motor cars on the road.
– But great opportunities will be afforded for employment if chassis are made here.
– The Opposition is prepared to assist the Minister up to the hilt to establish the motor car manufacturing industry in Australia, but it may be of the opinion that it would be fairer to give the industry a bounty out of the Consolidated Revenue instead of imposing a special tax.
– A bountywould have to be renewed from year to year.
– If the policy of the Government has been introduced in the interests of national safety, the whole of the taxpayers should contribute towards its cost.
– If the industry had to depend upon a bounty, the pay ment of which had to be authorized every year; we should never induce the industrialists to enter into the scheme on such an uncertain basis.
– In face of the fact that governments which preceded the present Ministry induced Canadians to invest £2,000,000 in this industry in Australia, why jeopardize that investment?
– That was brought about, not by an annual vote of Parliament, but by means of fixed duties.
– Fixed duties in a changing world! How many tariff schedules has this Government brought down since 1931? Change after change has been witnessed. The Minister treated us to an illuminating discourse within the past fortnight regarding the instability of markets and trade conditions throughout the world. We know, that these changes in tariffs are to be expected, and that there is nothing fixed to-day in a world in which everything seems to be in a state of flux. Every tariff change introduced by the Scullin Government, which the present Minister enthusiastically opposed, unjustly, in many instances, and which the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) also opposed enthusiastically but consistently, was accepted without question by overseas investors of capital in Australia. They recognized that the purpose of the Scullin tariff was to meet Australia’s economic difficulties, and to place this country in a sound position for the future.
– Does the honorable member say that during the regime of the Scullin Government capital flowed in and employment grew?
– The steps then taken did not meet with any reproach from those who had previously invested large sums in Australian industries, but, on the present occasion, the Minister is doing something which has never been done before in the history of tariff-making in this country. Whilst he claims that his purpose is the development of an Australian industry, his major object appears to be to divert from a certain dominion to Great Britain itself, a large and substantial part of this trade. He should be able to tell us more about his proposition in regard to the launching of the industry of the manufacture of internal com- bustion engines and motor chassis. He should be able to say what capital is immediately available for the establishment of this industry, and to give us some particulars as to what we may expect to be the situation in a year’s time.
Whether we regard the proposal as imposing a special tax to establish an Australian industry, or a change-over from the ad valorem rate to the poundage rate, we must not, if we are not blind fools, fail to see that its immediate effect will be to impose upon every part of the Australian automobile industry additional costs which will be reflected in further charges upon Australian transportation services. Upon these important national considerations, which I think affect our economic security, the Minister should have had better information for the committee, and should have been able to give to it a more connected account of what is ahead of us than he has been able to provide up to the present time. I shall vote for these duties with extreme diffidence. I am influenced to do so solely because I believe that, to make Australia safe in the years to come, this country must be possessed of the economic instrumentalities of defence. In the course of its long history, the Labour movement has made a substantial and most valuable contribution to Australia’s industrial capacity in that direction, and it will go on doing that, but I think that we ought not to be involved in an issue of this description in considering a trade diversion policy.We should completely look after our own industry. When the Government is in a position to do that, then is the time to change over the duties.
– We are doing it now.
– Yes, and the Minister contends that it will give an advantage to one set of manufacturers over another set, whereas one set - the Canadians - is efficient, and has contributed to the development of the automobile manufacturing industry in Australia, whilst the other - the British - is inefficient and has contributed nothing towards the development of that industry in this country. I leave the subject there very much in doubt as to what steps the committee should take. I should have preferred that we were in possession of a report from the Tariff Board on this matter, so that we might know all the facts and realize the full consequences of any action which we might decide to take.
– Having the interests of the workers at heart, would the honorable member, if he could, delay this matter?
– My informationand the honorable member has not convinced me that it is incorrect - is that this change-over will immediately cause unemployment.
– The honorable member has exhausted his time.
– It was my intention. Mr. Chairman, to move an amendment prior to the amendment moved by the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Hutchinson).
– I am willing to withdraw my amendment temporarily in order to allow the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) to move his at this juncture.
Amendment - by leave - withdrawn.
.-I move -
That sub-paragraph (a) of paragraph (4) be amended by adding the following: - “And on and after 2nd December, 1936 -
Unassembled, viz.: - Car, and car type capable of use for commercial vehicles, ad val. - British, free; intermediate, 32½ per cent. ; general, 32½ per cent.”
I am rather surprised at the announcement made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) that, while he is dissatisfied with the proposal of the Government, he still intends to vote for it. After making a speech in which he pointed out the dangers of that proposal, he would have been wiser had he expressed his intention, and the intention of his party, to ask for a delay and for a continuance of the old duties until the investigation promised by the Government had taken place. After listening to his speech, I naturally expected that the honorable member would have followed that course. My amendment will give an opportunity to the committeeto decide whether the change-over to the new duties should take place prior to the investigation already promised by the Government.
The Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties (Sir Henry Gullett) has made a very strange speech this evening. He told the committee that he was present in this chamber in 1921 when the first high tariff policy was brought forward, and when every opportunity was taken by those who were desirous of exploiting the community to point out the need for the higher duties in case Australia should become involved in war again in the near future. It appears to me that the Minister has been doing his best to create a first-class war, and now comes here and asks us to carry his proposal in case ‘that war might eventuate, in which event we should need to be able to manufacture these cars in Australia. In the absence of any investigation in any shape or form, I suggest that it is hardly fair to ask the committee to agree to a proposal of this sort by simply playing upon the fears of the community, suggesting that we might become involved in war in the near future, and, therefore, it is essential that we equip ourselves to manufacture these cars. If the honorable gentleman held that idea when these proposals were introduced six months ago, surely it was his duty, and the duty of the Government, to have referred this matter to the Tariff Board with a view to finding out how much it would cost the community and what time would elapse before it could be carried out. Whilst the proposal makes some concessions to Canadian manufacturers, the duties are being increased from 32 per cent, to from 113 per cent, to 115 per cent. That is an enormous increase, and some section of the community will have to pay for it. I have here a copy of an extract from an Australian customs import entry on a motor car, complete, imported from the United States of America. It is as follows : -
– What sort of a car was that?
– I think it was a Dodge. The copy of the extract was furnished to me by a firm in which I have every confidence. It shows that a car costing £137 15s. 5d. in the United States of America, costs £437 5s. on the showroom floor in Perth.
Very heavy duties are levied to-day in respect of a motor, body constructed in
Australia. I understand that motor bodies are being built here at the present time under what might be termed massproduction, yet the body, which would cost £35 in England, costs from £100 to £110 in Australia. Is the committee going to accept the cost of building a complete car, as given by the Minister, without asking for any further inquiry into the matter? The Minister has made another most extraordinary speech to-day, in which he said that he has made a full investigation into the cost of manufacture of chassis in Australia, and he has assured honorable members that, as the result of his investigations, he has no doubt that it will be possible to have cars made in Australia in the near future without any great increase of cost to the Australian purchaser. If he were able to make those inquiries and submit the results of them with so much confidence to the committee to-night, surely it would have been possible, since May last, for the Tariff Board, had the Government so desired it to do so, to make an inquiry into this matter. Had that been done, honorable members at this juncture would be in possession of fuller information than the Minister himself has been able to cull from outside sources within the same period. Are honorable members to place any confidence whatever in the statements made by the Minister, particularly when he has not given any authority, in any shape or form, for them? Who are the engineers who supplied him with his information? I have been given to understand from a reliable source that it would cost approximately £4,000,000 to erect a factory for the manufacture of motor chassis on anything like a mass production scale.
– For one firm?
– Yes, and for building chassis of only two types, namely, the ten horse-power and the 30 horse-power. Whilst it may be possible that the huge initial cost incurred in the erection of such a factory may be forthcoming, there is no doubt that the Government’s proposal must add very considerably to the cost of the car in Australia, and it is only right that honorable members should be given the fullest information on this matter. It is decidedy unfair to honorable members for them to be asked to agree to the imposition of duties without any investigation whatever. The Minister says, “ I have made inquiries “. Over what period has he been making these inquiries? He has told us that it would take the Tariff Board an exceedingly long time to conduct a similar inquiry.
– I did not say so.
– Then what sort of an investigation can the Minister have made and what are his authorities for his statements ? I recall a statement made by a present Minister of the Crown, when the Scullin Government was in office, and when the duties on whisky bottled out of bond were being considered, to the effect that the then Minister for Trade and Customs, in sending out circulars to the manufacturers concerned, had, in effect, asked them to come into his office and had virtually said to -those manufacturers, “Do not go in there; the Tariff Board is sitting in there, you will have to give evidence on oath and what you say will be published. Come into my office.” Now the Minister suggests that there is no need for a public inquiry, no need for evidence on oath, and that the information which he has gathered on the subject is sufficient reason for the adoption of this policy.
When in opposition the policy of every member now on this side of the chamber was that inquiry should be made before these things were done. What was right then is right to-day.
– I must invite the committee to reject the amendment. The change from the old ad valorem rate to the weight basis in respect of duties on motor car chassis did not have its origin in the trade diversion policy at all. It was a change which had been urged for several years by motor car manufacturers in the United Kingdom, and, later, by the government of the United Kingdom, under the Ottawa agreement. As Australia began to emerge from the depression, the importation of motor cars, particularly light, small cars from the United Kingdom increased; but as conditions became better, the number of British moto]- cars entering Australia declined, whilst imports from the United States of America and Canada showed a remarkable growth. It became evident that, unless action were taken imports of motor cars from Great Britain would dwindle to small proportions, and, consequently, following representations made by the motor trade in Great Britain supported by the British Government, this change referred to was made by the
Government and submitted to the Parliament. The alteration proposed by the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) is not so easily made as he appears to think. About £500,000 of revenue is involved. I remind him that, whereas under the old ad valorem duties all cars imported from other countries bore a primage duty, that charge has since been abolished. Primage has been included in the new duties imposed on Canadian and foreign cars on the basis of weight. The honorable member’s amendment, if carried, would mean a postponement of this item, because some days would necessarily elapse before the position could be adjusted on a satisfactory basis from a revenue point of view.
– It would not interfere with the Australia contributory scheme.
– No ; but it would upset the whole basis of the import duties on motor cars.For instance, the old ad valorem rate would have to be increased by 10 per cent. to compensate for the loss of primage alone. I take it that the honorable member has moved his amendment in the interests of Canadian manufacturers ; at least, I hope that that is his purpose. I shall, therefore, explain the position in regard to cars from Canada. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) was mistaken when he said that the change to the weight basis meant an increase of from 103 per cent. to 107 per cent. in respect of chassis from Canada. I assure the honorable gentleman that his statement has no substantial foundation whatever. The tariff officer who specializes on this work points out that, under the old duties, the amount payable in respect of a car imported from Canada was £13 10s. 10d., whereas on the new basis it is £21 14s. 2d.- a difference of £8 3s. 4d. But of that £8 3s. 4d., the special impost of . 7d. per lb. to provide for a bounty, accounts for £5. That impost applies to all cars, whether imported from Great Britain, the United States of America, Canada, or elsewhere. The honorable gentleman seemed to think that Canada had been treated most severely. The old rates in respect of cars from Great Britain. Canada, and the United States of America were, respectively, free, 15 per cent. and 32½ per cent. Under the old duties, the average car imported from Canada was subject to an impost of £13 10s. 10d., whereas the duty payable on a car imported from the United States of America was £35 13s. 6d. Under the new duties the rates in respect of Canada and the United States of America are respectively £21 14s. 2d. and £4411s. 9d. As in each case the £5 previously mentioned applies, the increase in respect of a car from Canada is £3 3s. 4d., and in respect of a car from the United States of America, £3 18s. 3d.
– My comparison was with the United Kingdom, not the United States of America.
– The charge that we are penalizing Canada cannot be sustained, because against Canada the United Kingdom has been given an increased preference of only £3 3s. 4d. for each car.
– In a total of how much?
– The honorable gentleman estimated that the value of a Canadian chassis was £54, which was a low figure. On that basis, the preference is about 6 per cent., not 113 per cent.
– The £5 will be paid by the purchaser of the car whatever its country of origin.
– It applies to cars from Great Britain and the United States of America as well as to those from Canada.
– Yes; but the Australian purchasers of cars will have to pay it.
– The honorable member has not established his case. The increase is small - £3 3s. 4d. for each car.
– The previous duty is more than doubled.
– No. The old duty was £13 10s.10d. in respect of a car compared with £21 14s. 2d. under the new rates. That includes £5, which is common to cars from all countries.
– Would the Minister regard recent figures as having any special value?
– I suggest that the honorable member should go to the Customs Department and check the average in respect of all cars. I have quoted departmental figures which, surely, can be depended on. The average duty on Canadian cars under the old system was £13 10s. lOd. ; the increase was £3 3s. 4d.
– Because of the change from the ad valorem to the weight basis?
– Yes. The new duty on chassis from Canada is 2-Jd. per lb.; on chassis of American origin it is 5^ per lb. There is also the special duty of .7d. per lb., or £5 in respect of each car. The duty on trucks from Canada is 2£d. per lb. compared with 4Jd. per lb. in respect of trucks from the United States of America. Therefore, although the British preference as against Canada has been increased, Canada still retains a substantial preference indeed against the United States of America. It is still able to export to this country as many cars as it did last year; no one can tell me that the Canadian car import trade of this country will be shattered by this mere £3 or SA of extra duty. The total additional cost on each chassis will be £8.34 per cent., but that amount will include the subsidy which is to be paid to the Australian engineers. I cannot see that that will cause any hardship to the Canadian manufacturers or to the Australian users of motor cars. I go further and say that, if cars imported into this country did not cover a total range of 84 different types, and the industry in Australia were brought to the economic basis that must be reached by mass production, this little impost would be taken up by the trade, and not passed on to the people. I submit to the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) that this increased preference is a very reasonable gesture to make to the British motor car manufacturer at the present time. He has been asking for it for years. I remind the honorable member of the relative value to Australia of the- American and the British markets. If a change such as this is being made for the purpose of encouraging local production of motor cars and two markets have to be considered - the American and the British - is it not reasonable and proper to act as the Government has acted? I have not in my possession statistics as to the purchases of
American cars in Western Australia, but I do impress upon the honorable member that that .State, being mainly a primary producer, is dependent to an abnormal extent on the British market. I point out, in this regard, the development of the Australian lamb industry in recent years. Britain presents, as far as we can see, an unlimited field for some years. The quota that Britain has granted to us is so much in excess of our supply that last year we failed to fill it, and this year also we shall be 1,000,000 carcasses short. The Government is granting Canadian cars preference over other North American cars, and British cars preference over Canadian cars, and there was room for it without adding excessively to the cost of either the Canadian or the American cars.
– A preference of 32 per cent, is fairly big.
– The preference against Canada is only 17£ per cent., which is not excessive. I ‘strongly appeal to the honorable gentleman to support the Government in this matter. If we had more time before us something might be done along the lines proposed in the amendment. It would mean, however, a loss of £500,000 of revenue and we should have to impose primage against the United States of America. Great difficulties are involved, and the item would have to be suspended until means of taxation and imposition of ‘duties had been investigated and a redrafted proposal had been presented. . J put’ for1 ward that consideration, not’ as a reason for opposing the amendment, but as a fact which imposes practical difficulties:
.: Much of the discussion has been directed to the Canadian rate of ‘ duty and the alteration from the ad valorem rate to a new specific rate per lb. I hold some strong views on the matter of the Canadian duty, but I see little purpose in expounding them at this stage when the Canadian duties are not before the committee. I propose therefore to defer what I have to say in that regard until the Canadian duties are actually before the committee. I wish, however, to make some comments upon the more general aspects which are involved in the item now under consideration. I would say that the principle which is involved in the application of this entirely new duty of . 7d. per lb. - the manufacture of motor cars in Australia - might be viewed from two distinct points. We may view its defence aspect, which has been stressed by the Minister. Alternatively and quite separately we may consider its economic aspects. If the Government can state a convincing case in favour of the need to establish the motor industry in Australia for defence purposes, then it shall certainly have my support and, I believe, the support of an overwhelming majority of Australians.But if that is to be the motivating influence in the decision of the Government to manufacture cars here, then I can see no reason why the motor industry should be levied upon for the whole cost of the necessary bounty. If the decision to manufacture cars in Australia is influenced entirely by defence needs, any cost that is necessary to be borne in connexion with the establishment of the industry should be met from general revenue.
– It is not suggested that defence needs are the only influences bearing upon the Government in this matter.
– Alternatively, then, if the reason which actuates the Government in its desire to establish this industry in Australia is a normal desire to expand Australian industry, and if we can be convinced that the proposal is based on sound economic premises, I believe that a reasonable case can be made out that the industry itself should provide the funds for the bounty. If the Government, at a later date, as the result of the Tariff Board inquiry, which is to be conducted on amended terms of reference, is able to bring before the Parliament convincing evidence that the proposal is an economic one, it will then have, I have no doubt, the whole-hearted support of honorable members. In the expectation, or hope, that that will be the result, I am prepared to support this new duty for the purpose of establishing a fund which, it is hoped, will be used eventually to encourage the manufacture of an Australian motor car. My support, however, is conditional on the Minister giving an assurance to the committee on behalf of the Government that the proceeds from the new duty will be placed in a trust fund for the purpose of establishing the proposed new industry.
– On behalf of the Government, I give that assurance.
-I thank the honorable gentleman, and, having received that assurance, I propose to support the tentative application of the new duty.
With regard to the schedule itself there are two aspects which deserve consideration: first, the proposal to use the duty of . 7d. per lb. in the way in which I have already mentioned, and secondly, the change of the general and intermediate tariffs from the ad valorem basis to the specific per lb. basis. The position of Canada in relation to these duties is not at the moment before the committee. With that thought in mind, and with the realization that the higher duties are intended to apply to foreign countries, principally to the United States of America, with which we have a notoriously and consistently adverse trade balance, and that the preference under the intermediate tariff will apply to foreign countries which may justify receiving its benefits, I propose to offer no objection to the higher rate of duty. I do, however, propose to participate later in the debate when the new Canadian rate of duty is under consideration. Much has already been said regarding the Canadian rate of duty, and the Minister has challenged a statement that the change from the ad valorem rate to the rate of 2½d. per lb. actually doubles the existing rate. I propose to cite, at the appropriate time, some figures in substantiation of the statement that the rate of duty on a stripped chassis will be doubled.
– The honorable member for Echuca (Mr. McEwen) separated the Government’s proposal into two parts - first, the defence aspect, and, secondly, the economics of the proposed industry. I agree wholeheartedly with what he has said concerning the defence aspect, but, from my researches into the economic aspect, I draw a deduction entirely different from that drawn by him.
– I drew no deductions.
– The honorable member accepted the Minister’s assurance that the amount of money collected will be paid into a trust fund, and said that he was prepared to support the Government. He declared that if the proposals were proved to be economically possible of achievement he would support the Government. The Minister stated that if the Tariff Board should submit a report that the proposed new industry is not capable of economic establishment, he will scrap the whole plan. But in the meantime, a large amount, of money will have been collected on definite misrepresentation.
– Oh no!
– I hope to prove that the Minister is gambling on the opinion that will be expressed by the Tariff Board. The Minister, by his assurance that the Government’s proposal will not be frowned upon by the United Kingdom. Government at the next Imperial Conference, has gone a long way to obviate some of the bitter criticizm that otherwise I might have levelled against his proposal. I was doubtful as to what the attitude of the British Government would be. In addition to myself, other honorable members who have given thought to his proposal, feared a diminution of the wonderful British market for Australian producers, if our market were denied to British manufacturers of cars. I accept, however, the Minister’s assurance. The Minister was almost rhetorical in his reference to the proposal to establish this industry in Australia. It would mean immigration, he said, and a spreading of skilled artisans all over the country. It is from those points that I intend to approach this subject. In regard to defence, I suggest to the Minister that he should have taken other factors into consideration. For instance, I visualize the plant and the highly efficient and very delicately balanced machinery required to produce Whippet tanks and other armaments for warfare. We know very well that it was said during the Italo-Abyssinian war that if the League of Nations had imposed sanctions upon the supply of petrol to Italy the conflict may have had a different outcome. This shows the value of petrol for defence purposes, and the important place that it takes in times of war. The most efficient engineering works for the manufacture of armaments would be of no use to us unless we had an adequate supply of motive power. When the Minister speaks about the value of this proposal for defence purposes, I reply to him that it is useless unless the Government takes steps to encourage the production of oil from coal or shale, or the discovery of flow oil, or some other motive power. If the Government wishes us to consider this subject in the light of the defence requirements of the country, we are entitled to ask why it did not adopt a similar attitude in regard to cement.
- (Mr. E. F. Harrison). - Order! The honorable member must confine his remarks to the itembef ore the committee.
– All I will say is that the Government should he consistent. If it wishes us to bear in mind defence needs in discussing this issue, it should bear such needs in mind when the duties on other commodities are being considered.
The Minister’s statement that the adoption of the Government’s policy would mean that a large number of skilled artisans would soon be available all over Australia for defence work if the need arose, will not bear close examination. The honorable gentleman must realize that if the Government’s policy is implemented the manufacture of motor cars will be concentrated in the hands of two or three large firms, the works of which are situated in two or three States. Obviously, therefore, the skilled artisans would be available only in those centres.
– And those centres must be where cheap power is available.
– That is so. Another point that must be borne in mind is that if works are established for the manufacture of motor cars, as proposed by the Government, in the places where motor car bodies are at present being manufactured by mass production methods, in what we are informed is a highly efficient manner, obviously the motor car assembly works and smaller motor body works that are to-day to be found in all the cities of Australia, will lose their trade, and the skilled artisans at present employed in them will have to look for work in the two or three centres where motor car manufacturing is being undertaken.
Another consideration is that the two or three works which will be manufacturing these motor cars- will be controlled by foreign capital. Is it desirable that the Government should pursue a policy which will have the effect of diverting the business which British motor car manufacturing firms are now doing .in Australia to firms the head-quarters of which are in the United States of America ? Obviously this must be one effect of the Government’s policy. It seems to me that the policy which we are being asked to endorse will seriously weaken the economic structure of the Empire. That aspect of the subject appears to have been overlooked by the Government.-
– A new industry would never be established in Australia if the views of the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. E. J. Harrison) were adopted.
– The honorable member for Wentworth desires us to revert to the days of single-furrow ploughs.
– That is not so.- The honorable member for Echuca (Mr. McEwen) may rest assured, however,, that if. motor car manufacturing is undertaken in Australia under the plan which- the. Government is now submitting, the cost of -the tractors necessary to draw the big ploughs now in use, will be considerably increased, with a consequent increase of the cost of producing wheat. This, in turn, will mean that the unfortunate taxpayers in our cities will be called upon to provide additional money for the payment of bounties to the primary producers.
– Oh !
– The honorable member knows that millions of pounds have been obtained by the taxation of the people in our densely populated areas, to provide bounties for primary producers.
– The Minister has said that under the Government’s proposal the price of motor cars will not be increased.
– I challenge the accuracy of the figures upon which the Minister has based that statement, for, in my opinion, they are entirely unauthoritative and are not supported by the practical experience of men engaged in the motor car industries.
– The honorable member’s figures have been supplied by importers.
– I challenge the Minister to deny that there are not to be found on the files in his department, dealing with this subject, figures supplied by practical manufacturers of motor cars dealing with the complete manufacture of motor cars in Australia which bear out my statements.
It is interesting to some - of us to find that honorable members of the Country party have at last decided to take an active interest in the protection of Australian secondary industries. Generally those honorable gentlemen do everything in their power to sell their goods at the highest price obtainable and to buy their requirements at the lowest possible price. The change in the outlook of some of them on this subject is, therefore, remarkable. In one respect I agree with the honorable member for Echuca. The cost of any measures necessary for effective defence should be a charge upon the whole community. It is unfair of the Government to impose on the people generally taxes for the construction of main roads and other benefits for the primary producers, and yet expect only certain sections of the community to meet the added cost that will undoubtedly be entailed by the adoption of its policy for the Australian manufacture of motor cars.
No substantial figures have been submitted to us to indicate that this proposed new industry can be established on an economic basis. It is true that we are able, in Australia, to produce goods of high quality with a considerable degree of efficiency, but it must be remembered that usually the cost of production is high. We can produce anything at a cost. Surely in dealing with motor cars, which are necessary to modern business practice, we should bear in mind the interests of the great purchasing public. That is where I join issue with the Minister.
Mr- McCall. - Oh, why?
– The honorable member for Martin (Mr. McCall) could find something more useful to do than to sit in front of me and croak like a raven. I definitely challenge the reliability of the figures which the Minister has given us as the basis of this proposal. The honorable gentleman must be aware that a car which sells in Australia for £350 costs £590, Australian currency, in Germany, although the German market is ten times the size of the Australian market.
– The honorable member knows that the basis of the export subsidies of Germany make effective comparisons of that kind impossible.
– It has been estimated that if the motor cars manufactured in Australia cost £100 each more than they would cost if imported, the demand for these vehicles will fall by one-third. Taking as the basis for calculation figures slightly in excess of the actual sales last year, this would mean a reduction of purchases in Australia of 30,000 motor bodies and batteries, 150,000 motor car tyres, 180,000 spark plugs, and 2,500,000 square feet of leather, to say nothing of bumper bars, cloth of one kind and another, timber, and other materials required now to complete the skeleton chassis imported from abroad. Further, the Government would lose a substantial amount of customs revenue, and the shipping companies would lose a large amount in freight charges, and so on, estimated at approximately £1,800,000. A reduction of the number of motor bodies made in Australia by one-third would also mean a reduction by £60,000 annually of the wages paid to artisans at present engaged in this work. These and other similar facts will be submitted to the Tariff Board when it makes its inquiry into this subject. My figures are, I contend, as authoritative as the figures supplied to the committee by the Minister, and they show conclusively that the argument that the motor car manufacturing industry can be established in Australia on an economic basis is not sound.
This evening the Minister stated, as he has done on previous occasions, that about 5,000 internal combusion engines were manufactured in Australia last year, of which 80 per cent. were petrol engines. In answer to an interjection the
Minister stated that the majority of these engines were of limited power. I tried, by further interjections, to ascertain from the honorable gentleman whether engines of the kind to which he had referred were made in large numbers by mass production methods in overseas countries, but I could not get any information on that point from him. I am able to say definitely, however, that such engines are not manufactured overseas by mass production methods. Therefore, the mention of them is of little value as a support for the Minister’s case.
I was grateful to have the Minister’s promise that this whole subject would be referred to the Tariff Board for inquiry, but surely the committee cannot be satisfied with the terms of reference to the board. We have had no undertaking from the Government that the board will be asked to expedite its inquiry. The Tariff Board was requested, in 1932-33, to make an inquiry into the timber industry and it did so, but its report has only just been laid upon the table. The mere fact, therefore, that the board has been requested to investigate the proposal to manufacture motor cars in Australia means little, unless we are also given an assurance that the inquiry will begin immediately and that the subsequent report and recommendations will be laid upon the table within a reasonable time after presentation to Cabinet. If we are unsuccessful to-night we shall have another opportunity to take action to stop the imposition on the unfortunate motor car users of high duties which, as the honorable member for Indi said, will amount to approximately £350,000 a year. I have voiced my opinions with regard to this matter en other occasions and I have no intention of labouring them now. In conclusion, I feel that the Minister in insisting upon the collection of a duty of . 7d. per lb. on motor chassis, which will increase the cost of the chassis by approximately £5 each, and over the total imports will amount to £350,000, is placing upon the motor users an impost which they should not be asked to bear until such time as the Tariff Board has reported upon the economics of the proposal to manufacture complete motor cars in Australia. If the Tariff Board, after due inquiry, reports to the Minister that such manufacture is an economic possibility, the Minister can immediately take steps to implement this policy. If such a report were presented, I would be one of the first to support any attempt to establish an industry for the manufacture of complete cars in Australia. I see the need for such a development if it be possible on an economic basis, but if the Minister is not prepared to agree to the amendment of the honorable member for Indi, he is merely gambling on the opinion which he hopes will be expressed by the Tariff Board.
.- The item before the committee has two objectives - one is a trade diversion, and the other the establishment of a new industry in Australia. I am completely in accord with the trade diversion policy, even though it places an excessive burden, for some time at any rate, on imported American cars of a type to which Australia has become accustomed. The duty on these American chassis at the present time varies up to £81. I am completely at a loss to understand how, if the objective of this altered tariff is to be attained, the Minister can suggest that the carrying of the amendment moved by the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) would result in an annual loss of £500,000 of revenue. If the trade diversion objective of the Government is realized and the source of origin of motor chassis is changed from the United States of America to Great Britain, then such motor chassis will be brought in free of duty. If the amendment would mean a loss of £500,000of revenue, the inference is that, despite this new duty, the number of chassis imported from the United States of America will not he materially reduced, and that, therefore, the trade-diversion policy will not be effective.
– I meant that the immediate effect of the amendment would be to dislocate this year’s revenue to the amount of £500,000 per annum.
– I understood the Minister to imply that if the amendment were accepted, it would affect not only the first year’s revenue, but also that it would involve a loss of nearly the same amount for the second year. The honorable gentleman admits that the trade diversion proposal will not be 100 per cent. effective in the first year and it may be very slow in its effect. Another statement made by the Minister, which I think is further theorizing on his part, was that the manufacture of a complete motor car in Australia would bring about a saving of £20 in respect of each body manufactured. That is merely surmise, for which there is no justification. Buyers will not restrict themselves to a couple of types. We have mass-production of motor car bodies in Australia at the present time, and it is not reasonable to suppose that the mere making of motor chassis in Australia would enable a saving of £20 to be made in respect of each body manufactured. With regard to the value, from a defence point of view, of the establishment of the motor engine industry in Australia, several honorable members have said that we have in Australia a sufficient number of motor vehicles which could be conscripted for military use to meet all our transport needs in the event of emergency. What, to my mind, is far more important, is that we should have adequate reserves of petrol to ensure that those motor vehicles can be kept moving. I am prepared to support the Government’s tradediversion policy temporarily, in the hope that later it may be possible to negotiate a trade treaty with the United States of America. That country has been uncompromising in its attitude towards Australia in the past, but with the higher duties imposed on motor chassis under the trade diversion policy, and with the presidential election campaign over, it is possible that the United States of America may be more ready to negotiate a trade treaty. We can supply that country with products its people need, and that fact, together with the higher tariff, provides a basis for negotiations.
In regard to the establishment of a new industry for the manufacture of complete motor cars in Australia, the Government is really putting the cart before the horse. I am not prepared to support the imposition of a duty of . 7d. a lb. on every chassis to accumulate the money necessary to pay a bounty to, the Australian industry. With the honorable member for Echuca (Mr. McEwen), I- think that a such a policy would make every purchaser of imported chassis subsidize local manufacture. With him I think that if there is to be subsidized local manufacture, the subsidy should be paid by the whole community and not imposed only on those persons who happen to purchase foreign chassis. To me, the proposal is premature; the Government should have been fortified by a report from the Tariff Board which would satisfy the Parliament of the wisdom of this policy. The Minister asked what inducement there is for overseas manufacturers to transfer their operations to Australia. I think that a tariff saving of £S1 on a chassis and a bounty of £30 on each engine produced should be quite sufficient inducement. That is an advantage of £111 to manufacture in Australia chassis which can bo supplied from overseas for £50. This is an. advantage of over 100 per cent. Therefore I say that there are grave reasons to doubt the economic soundness of such a proposal; the Government should step warily, and not make’ this impost without a recommendation from the Tariff Board which would satisfy Parliament that it is a wise course to adopt. For the present I shall oppose it.
– I rise to support the Government’s proposals on this item. I have listened to-night to the remarks by honorable members on ‘both sides of the chamber who have criticized the policy of the Government in attempting to found and build up an industry which will be of tremendous importance to this country, ft has been said that if the manufacture of complete motor cars is commenced ir. Australia the price of cars will be raised by approximately £100. I would prefer to pay £300 for a car manufactured in Australia and keep the money in Australia than to spend £200 overseas on the purchase of a foreign car. If we investigate the history of the establishment of the motor car industry in this country, we find that in 1908 a slight duty was imposed on the importation of motor cars and bodies; in 1926 duties were imposed on storage batteries; in the following year duties were levied on imported shock absorbers and bumper bars; in 1928 duties were imposed on spark plugs; and in 1929 they were extended to cover such items as springs, windscreens, door handles, windscreen wipers, shackle bolts, window winders, axle shafts and propeller shafts. This policy has been evolved to work up gradually manufacture from car parts to the complete car. The statement has been made that the manufacture of a complete car in this country is an uneconomic proposition; but in the past we have been told the same thing regarding the manufacture of things which we urgently require. That story has been repeated ever since the Commonwealth was inaugurated. It is not right that members of the National Parliament should decry the efforts of their own country to manufacture its needs. It has been said that under the new duties the price of chassis of an average weight of 1,600 lb. will be raised by £5. I remind honorable members, however, that we pay a bounty of 6d. per lb. on the production of butter. There is a great difference between 6d. per lb. and .7d. per lb. When the Paterson butter scheme was first introduced I supported it, and I still do so.’
– The difference between the price of butter abroad and in Australia is only about one half-penny per lb.
– I have always given my support. to every industry, primary and secondary. Why should honorable members decry the Government’s proposal k° support a new industry? In this country we should not be content, to be mere hewers of wood and drawers of water. We have to develop industries, partly for defence reasons, but primarily to provide employment for our growing youths. I have listened to the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Frost) and others frequently asking what we are to do for our boys ; why should they not be put on the land or into secondary industries? Here is an opportunity to found an industry which will absorb many of our unemployed. I commend the Government for its brave policy in this regard. When the trade diversion policy was announced on the 22nd May last, I was one of those who were inclined to be critical of the manner in which the duties were tabled. Since then I have had time to study the Government’s proposals, and I now say unhesitatingly that the Government has adopted a far-sighted policy to correct our unfavorable trade position with certain countries. If this Government adopts a policy of building up Australian industries wherever possible, primary and secondary, it will have my wholehearted support. During my seventeen years membership of this Parliament, I have frequently been told that the manufacture of certain things in Australia would be uneconomic. I Well remember the discussion which took place some years ago with regard to the erection of the small arms factory at Lithgow. The critics of that proposal said that rifles could not be made in this country, that their manufacture in Australia would be uneconomic and that they would cost three or four times the price for which they could be purchased abroad. But we manufactured the rifles. I remind honorable members also of the establishment at Maribyrnong, of what are perhaps the finest armament factories in the British Empire. They are engaged in the manufacture of some of the best guns used in this country, as well as T.N.T., and other high explosives. The factories are a credit to the governments which brought them into being and to the staffs which have developed them. People -in this country are constantly saying that certain things cannot’ be done in Australia because they are uneconomic, but despite criticism of that sort they have been done, and done well, and have provided employment for our people.
Only the other day a deputation waited upon the Minister for Defence. (Sir Archdale Parkhill) and pointed out that as th0 construction of ships in Australia is uneconomic, it- should be discontinued; but a fortnight ago the Minister, as the representative of the Government, made a short trip to sea on a vessel built in Australia. Tenders had been called in other countries, and a comparison shows that the Australian price was competitive. Warships constructed in Australian shipyards have cost more than if they had been built in Great Britain, whore the yards have been established for many years, and consequently should be in a position to build at a lower price than is possible in Australia. What is the use of having a navy unless we have an army of artificers and tradesmen capable of carrying out mechanical work of the highest possible standard? The iron and steel industry, now so firmly established in Australia and producing such high-grade articles, was once strongly denounced by certain members of this Parliament and by some fairly influential sections of the community. Reference has even been made to the economic aspect of our defence policy; but I do not think any one can reasonably contend that a defence policy, adopted .to safeguard the interests of the Australian people, should be judged from that angle. I was glad to have an assurance from some honorable members opposite that they believe in a wellbalanced policy for home defence, but if our defence system is to be effective, we shall have to establish additional secondary industries in Australia. I Ii a ve supported the protection of primary industries on every occasion, and I intend to do so in the future; but I ask those who believe in protecting primary industries to remember that if the motor car industry be established in Australia, an even greater home market for primary products will be provided than we have at present. Where can primary producers find a better market than in their own country? I can visit the Myer Emporium in Melbourne and buy a J apanese camera for ls. ; but that is not a reason why we should not undertake the manufacture of cameras in Australia, even if they cost, fi each. The Government should not refer matters of policy to the Tariff Board. It is not the responsibility of the board to tell the Government what policy it should adopt. -When the Scullin Government was in office it did not direct the Tariff Board to evolve a policy. This Government has been elected by the people to support a high protective policy.
– Not to introduce such a policy as this.
– The Minister should ask the Tariff Board to ascertain whether the protective duties to provide, the bounty proposed to be paid are too high or too low; but it is not the function of the Tariff Board to determine whether the policy proposed in this instance is sound. I regret that some honorable members opposite, who usually support the establishment of industries in Australia, do not appear to be enthusiastic over this proposal.
– They are supporting it.
– Generally speaking, it is not receiving the wholehearted support which we should expect from them. If those honorable members who say that motor cars cannot be built economically in Australia enquired at motor manufacturing establishments in Great Britain, they would find that at the outbreak of war Britain was not manufacturing cars under a system of mass production. What happened? At the taxpayers’ expense the British Government subsidized huge works to the extent of millions of pounds to enable motor cars to be manufactured in large numbers. I spent three days in inspecting the Austin company’s works at Birmingham on which millions of pounds were expended to enable war weapons to be produced in large quantities. Some said that it would cost Australia millions of pounds to establish the manufacture of motor cars in Australia ; but I do not care what it costs so long as employment can be provided for our people. The honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Nock) is apparently anxious to assist the establishment of the industry in Australia,but is strongly opposed to the price for cars being increased. I would, rather pay £300 for a car manufactured in Australia than £200 for a car of foreign manufacture.
– A car at £200 would probably give the same service.
– But when a car is purchased in Australia, the money is retained in the country. I am glad to find that the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. E. J. Harrison) is almost a convert. I do not know what some of his protectionist friends in the eastern suburbs of Sydney will say when they read his remarks on this subject. There are many influential persons in Sydney and in the other capital cities who are strongly in favour of building up Australian industries, and do not regard the manufacture of motor cars in this country as uneconomic. Quite recently I read in a report of the Auditor-General for South Australia that . some farmers, whose names were given, would have to get 7s. 6d. a bushel for their wheat to pay interest on money borrowed on their land, but that is not an argument why the wheatgrowing industry should be wiped out of existence.
– It is being wiped out.
– It is not. Wheat-growers involved to that extent are operating on an uneconomic basis, and should not continue. This proposal should have the hearty support of every honorable member, because it will help to establish an important manufacturing industry, and in that way assist in the defence of Australia.
.- Some honorable members appear to have very short memories. Not long ago Ministers said that it was the policy of the Government to give adequate protection to any industry which had a reasonable prospect of being conducted on an economic basis. The honorable member for Parkes (Sir Charles Marr) has disregarded the economic aspect, and is now supporting the establishment of an industry regardless of its cost to the nation. The Minister (Sir Henry Gullett) secured, a somewhat unwilling convert in the honorable member for Echuca (Mr. McEwen) by promising that the proceeds of the special duty of . 7d. per lb. would be placed in a trust account. I understand that the duty will be equivalent to £5 on an average chassis, but what will become of the amounts collected if this scheme be not proceeded with? It cannot be refunded to the importers, because they will have passed it on to the buyers. Perhaps the Minister will explain how refunds are to be made.
– As it will be paid in bounties on economically built cars, it will not have to be refunded.
– It is also proposed to pay a bounty of £30 on every engine produced, but frames, radiators, gear boxes, differentials and other important component parts ai-e also imported. The Australian motor car will have to bear not only the £30 on the engine,, but also the duty on the imported parts I have mentioned. Moreover, transport costs will be materially increased. The Minister has said that £73 now paid in duty can be used as an offset against any increased cost of manufacture; but if that amount of duty be saved, it will be lost to the revenue and the Government will have to collect a similar amount in some other form. There is also a promise of a saving of £20 on every body ‘built under a system of mass production, but already bodies are being produced in that way in Australia. Even if the engines are made in Australia it is not likely that a greater number of bodies will be ‘built in Australia. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) expressed my opinions so ably on this subject, that I shall not attempt to repeat the arguments he used. Although he is obviously opposed to this scheme, he feels that he must support it because it is the policy of the party which he represents to encourage the establishment of Australian industries.
The only thing upon which I differ from him is this : I do not believe that the proposal should be put into effect until we receive a report from the Tariff Board, and for that reason, I am going to vote against the proposal. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin), if he were logical, would do the same. The argument based upon defence needs appeals to me, and is the only one which goes to justify the scheme, but I have heard no answer to the claim put forward by the Leader of the Opposition that the proposal should first be referred to the Tariff Board. This is not a matter of urgency.
– Why the Tariff Board?
– Because it is the statutory body which was created for the purpose of inquiring into matters of this kind, and because it is the most competent authority to undertake the task. We have laid it down as a principle, that we shall receive the advice of the Tariff Board before raising import duties. I very much regret that the Government did not see fit to refer its proposal to the
Tariff Board in the first place. I should be very pleased if the board were able to report favorably upon the proposal, but in the meantime, the Minister would be wise if he held his hand, and decline to take action which must undoubtedly have the effect of increasing the cost of transport, and of reducing employment in the motor industry. If the Tariff Board reported favorably on the proposal, the Government would have no difficulty in obtaining a majority in this Parliament to support it.
– The longer this debate continues, the more apparent it becomes that there is need for a searching investigation into the Government’s proposal to build motor cars in Australia. When the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties (Sir Henry Gullett) introduced this proposal, he said -
In tlie opinion of the Government, readied after considerable investigation, there is room in the Commonwealth for the profitable working of at least three separate unite of motor car manufacture. It is not intended, however, to limit the number of units, but rather to invite engine manufacturers who are now supplying the Australian trade to participate in this great new venture in secondary industry.
Now he takes up a contradictory attitude in regard to the manufacture of motor chassis. His idea seems to be that there should be the greatest possible number of firms making engines and chassis, and the least possible number making bodies. Section 15 of the Tariff Board Act 1921, states that the Government shall refer certain questions of this kind to the Tariff Board before taking action in regard to them. A breach of the law by the Government in this respect is a serious matter, and should not be passed over lightly. The Minister also said that no measures which we could afford, could give us adequate defence, but apparently he is prepared, without inquiry of any kind, to embark upon the manufacture of motor car chassis, and thus place a burden upon the community which may be entirely beyond its means.
I contend, that there is an important difference between the manufacture of motor engines and engines for aircraft. There is no country in the world in which aircraft engines are manufactured on mass-production lines. If honorable members will study recent publications, now on file in the Library, they will see that in Italy there are a great many firms manufacturing aircraft engines, but all of them on a small scale. Nothing which the Minister can do will enable him to establish an industry in Australia for the mass production of aircraft engines. As for motor car i engines, I do not know what is really behind the Government’s new policy. I doubt whether the Government knows, but it is a singular thing that, early this year, a similar policy was announced in Japan, a policy which reads almost word for word the same as that which we are now considering. Practically all the cars in use in Japan are the product of two American manufacturers, but at the beginning of this year, the Japanese authorities decided to encourage the mass production of cars. It will be a difficult matter to establish the motor manufacturing industry in Australia on mass production lines, because of the great variety of tastes among the public.
– -But are they justified?
– I have heard the honorable member in this House support very strongly the principle of the liberty of the individual, and the rights of private enterprise. Does he now propose to argue that the Government should say that the people should have the right to choose between only two or three makes of cars?
– Will the honorable member concede that the present multiplicity of makes is uneconomic?
– I do not admit that. The multiplicity of makes available in Australia is due to the fact that wo are able to import them from so many sources where they are produced under mass production conditions. There will be much work ahead for commercial travellers trying to. push the sales of the first Australian-made cars. I should like to know how many members of this Parliament would be prepared to commit themselves to buy one of these machines. I think it will be a case of everybody wanting to try it out on his neighbour.
It is not very long since there was an acrimonious debate in this chamber regarding the manufacture of armaments by private enterprise. I should now like to hear the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) justify the proposal for the manufacture of motor car engines, admittedly for defence purposes, by private firms, when not long ago he so roundly condemned that very thing. I remind honorable members opposite of the sensible suggestion which emanated the other day from the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Hawker) to the effect that, if the Government desires to try out the feasibility of its proposal, it should have the work undertaken at its own munition factories at Maribyrnong or Lithgow. Indeed, if the real reason actuating the Government in putting forward this proposal is consideration for Australia’s defences, the Government munition factories are the proper places for trying out the experiment. I have very grave doubts whether the Government will be rushed by offers by private firms to undertake the construction of motor car chassis.
The Minister confessed that the cost of an ordinary motor car engine was about £30, and it is proposed that the bounty payable on motor car chassis for the first year shall be £30. I have heard many bitter things said- in this chamber about the bounties paid at various times to primary producers, but even the boldest primary producer has never had the nerve to ask for a bounty amounting to 100 per cent, on the market value of his commodity. If the Government’s proposal is justifiable at all, it is on the ground of defence, but I am not even prepared to admit that. At any rate, the Tariff Board should inquire into it before anything further is done. I am pleased that the Government has yielded to the request that the investigation of the Tariff Board should be untrammelled. I am prepared to support an amendment the effect of which will be to defer the imposition of these duties until such times as the board has recommended that it is reasonably economic to embark upon the venture. I fear that the transport of Australia will be loaded with a heavyburden for years to come if this policy is approved by Parliament without proper investigation.
.- I support the proposal of the Government. If a Labour government were handling this matter, its policy would have to be similar to that now proposed by the Government. The very same arguments which I have heard advanced against this proposal I have listened to over and over again during the last 25 years every time a proposal was made to establish a new Australian industry. We heard it when it was first proposed to manufacture motor car accessories in Australia. We were told that we would never be able to compete with the mass production methods of the United States of America ; that if we attempted to do so the cost of accessories would be prohibitive. Now, not only is the industry established, but it is actually producing the goods at a lower cost than the Americans are able to. A start must be made some time. Members of the Country party are objecting to this proposal because they say it is uneconomic, but I remind them that more than half the railways which have been built in Australia by the various State governments at enormous cost are uneconomic, and they were built for the benefit of the primary producers in order to enable them to get their produce to market. The Labour party supports that policy. Some of these railways will not pay for the next 100 years, but the building of them was, nevertheless, justified. For services of that kind, the whole community has; to pay. The industrial workers of the cities could object to the burden being placed on them of paying interest on the money spent in building uneconomic railways to assist the primary producers, but they do not, because they recognize that these things are part of the development of a worth-while Commonwealth. According to the Minister, there are 87 different kinds of motor car bodies manufactured in Australia, but I contend that three, or at the most four, would suit the varying tastes of all our people and enable mass production to be undertaken, with consequent lowering of the cost to the user. The honorable member for Indi (Mr. Hutchinson) complains that the people he is associated with cannot get motor bodies built in Australia to suit them, because their production is uneconomic. The Government, however, has come forward with a proposal on right lines, having as a basis the manufacture of three or four different motor car styles to suit the tastes of the Australian people. I believe in the building of engines in Australia. Australian workmen are the most adaptable in the world to new ideas. I recently read in a book that the Japanese have introduced a machine, built by themselves, to weave fibre and wool at the same time. The other textile workers of the world are anxious to know how it is operated, but the Japanese have kept the whole process secret, and are the only people WhO can utilize it. As regards the argument that machines cannot be built here because Australia has not the years of background that older countries possess, new ideas come forward every day, and new machines are introduced, old ideas are scrapped, and Australian workmen can quickly adapt themselves to the latest methods of manufacture. The building of motor car chassis will be complementary to the building of aircraft engines. I do not know whether the need for defence or some other motive forced the Government to adopt this policy; all I am concerned with is that it is a good thing for the workers, and, therefore, I support it wholeheartedly. I know that the New South Wales Trades and Labour Council, with which I am identified, is 100 per cent, behind this policy, as put forward by the Government. Some of our people say that the Government is not in earnest, but I give Ministers credit for intending to carry out what they say they will do. If they do not, it will be time enough to criticize them. The principle is right, and I support it. The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) said that the proposed industry would be uneconomic, because of the multiplicity of models required.
– I did not say that. I said it would limit their choice.
– The choice is already narrowed down practically to the Ford and the Chevrolet, which comprise 85 per cent, of the engines used in this country, leaving only 15 per cent, for others to operate upon, although admittedly, owing to tariff concessions, more English cars have come on to the market in recent months. A few Pontiacs,
Buicks, and other brands are also temporarily on the market, but most of these are only glorified Fords or Chevrolets. It is suggested that the ‘Government is not in earnest or sincere in this proposal, but whether it is or not, I believe in the principle enunciated by it, and if the present Government does not carry it out I hope that the next Labour government will do so on behalf of the Australian people. I am not going to doubt the word of the Government, until I see that it does not keep it. The Labour movement puts forward various arguments on different occasions for party political purposes, but in this case all I am concerned with is the provision of work for the Australian people. We have the men and the raw material, and I stand for having the work done here, because we can do it. It took some courage on the part of the Government to introduce this policy. I disagreed with the Minister on another matter, but I support him in this, and I speak on behalf of the Trades and Labour Council of New South Wales, with all its affiliated organizations, representing 150,000 unionists. They are all whole-heartedly behind this policy of the Government.
.- I move -
That in respect of sub-paragraphs [a), (6) and (c) of paragraph (4) - an additional duty of - per lb., British, .7d.j intermediate, .7d. ; general, .7d. ; be postponed.
I desire the postponement pending investigation and report by the Tariff Board. If the board reports that motor car manufacture in Australia is going to be economic and a success, nobody will be more pleased than I, but I very much doubt whether that will be the case. The whole problem comes down to a matter of costs. In a motor manufacturing plant an enormous quantity of machinery is involved in mass production, and the adapting of it to meet alterations in the engine or chassis means a colossal addition to the overhead cost. The price of cars can only be reduced by volume sales. That, is the kev point in this argument. In Canada the manufacturers are working roughly on an 80,000 volume, but cannot approach the price levels of the parent plants in the United States of America.
– They have a protection of only 17– per cent., and yet they carry on.
– Nevertheless, that is the fact. Canada works on an export market which Australia has no hope of obtaining. Canada’s exports in 1934 comprised 33 per cent, of motor cars and 48.9 per cent, of motor trucks. If Canada was deprived of that export market, its manufacturing plant would fail, or at least be in serious financial difficulties. Volume means everything there. In fact, it is all important to any plant that embarks upon the production of motor cars. When in England inspecting a motor-car manufacturing plant, I asked the manager, “ How is it that you have not given to Australia in the past a car of reasonable power to meet the Australian demand?” He said, “You have to remember that volume sales in England are largely determined by the home market, and the sales of higherpower cars have been determined to a large extent by the horse-power tax. While the horse-power tax was at the rate of £25 for a 25 horse-power engine, we could not manufacture any great volume of that power for th’e English market, nor could we get the price down to meet the requirements of the masses.” [Quorum formed.] He added, “ If we embarked on the manufacture of a car suitable for dominion requirements we would have the New Zealand market, the Australian market, and possibly one or two other small markets available to us, and the volume there would not be sufficient to enable volume production to be reached, and prices to be reduced.” He then referred to the point, which is most important to remember in any discussion of this subject, that if depression or other calamity overtook those dominion markets, his sales would fall off, and he would have on his hands cars unsaleable in any other market. When we talk of volume sales of 15,000 or 20,000 cars per annum in Australia, we are taking a quite low enough figure. Motor-car requirements here are greatly affected by climatic conditions, and consequent prices for primary products, which make embarkation on this project still more difficult. In his book My Life and Work, published as far back as 1924,
Henry Ford states that in 1909-10, working on the old “ T “ model Ford, his production was 1S,664 cars, and the dollar price was 950. In 1920-21, when the production had risen to 1,250,000 cars, the dollar price had fallen to 440. That shows the importance of volume production. With an industry subject to heavy overhead costs, volume is essential to bring the price of the output down. Therefore, I believe that, involved in this proposal for the manufacture of motor cars in Australia there must be an excess cost. In my opinion it is unsound policy to load another excess cost onto our transportation services in view of the fact that the colossal amount of about £17,000,000 per annum, in the aggregate, is now borne by reason of such imposts as registration fees, customs duties, petrol tax,sales tax and the like.
Considerations of defence have been introduced into this matter only lately. At an earlier stage very little was heard concerning this aspect, but it is now being emphasized with a view to influencing the minds of honorable members. Yet the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties (Sir Henry Gullett) has said that if this is not an economic project it will be abandoned ; in other words, we should not then worry very much about its bearing on defence. I doubt whether, from the viewpoint of defence or migration, we are doing right by pursuing a policy that is likely to prove uneconomic. It is all very well to urge that the establishment of this industry would lead to the employment of more people, behind whom are homes and children, and, correlatively, the means for defence and a market for our primary production. It must not be forgotten that if this country is ruined by the adoption of an unsound economic policy there will be no scope for the provision of employment in any direction, the proper development of the domestic circle or the promotion of any scheme of migration. We do not know what this is likely to cost. The reference of the matter to the Tariff Board for inquiry and report on all aspects is an act of wisdom.
The Minister has stated that if the proposal is found to be uneconomic the Government will not proceed with the establishment of the industry. That being so the .7d. per lb. should not yet be collected from the car purchaser for the simple reason that the fund for the payment of a bounty may never be required. I remind honorable members that taxation is always very easily imposed, but not very readily removed. If the Tariff Board should report to the Government along the lines that I foresee, the money will have been obtained practically under false pretences. The Minister has agreed that at the rate of £5 a car the additional cost annually to purchasers on a volume of production of 70,000 units would be about £350,000. We must spread over the four-year period the amount needed to pay the bounty. In the first year a bounty of £30 on a volume of 5,000 cars would be £150,000 ; in the second year a bounty of £26 a car on a volume of 15,000 cars would total £390,000;. in the third year a bounty of £8 a- car on a volume of 30,000 cars would total £240,000; and in the fourth year a bounty of £3 15s. a car on a volume of 40,000 cars would total £150,000; an aggregate for the four years of £930,000. Yet, the amount raised to pay the bounty would be £1,400,000, or £470,000 in excess of requirements.
– Is the honorable member suggesting that the £350,000 will ‘be collected in each of the four years?
– With local production there should be a diminution of that amount; but there will still be something in the neighbourhood of £470,000 to play with. I suggest that if -the tax ‘be imposed when it is definitely decided - if that decision is ever made - to manufacture cars in this country, the amount raised will still be sufficient, or practically so, to meet thu requirements of the bounty over the fouryear period - certainly up to the end of the third year. If, after investigation by the Tariff Board, it is decided to embark on this venture, let us then impose the duty; if it be found, unwise to proceed with the matter, and the Government announces that it has abandoned the policy, there will be no need to impose it.
There is only one other comment that I should like to ‘ make in regard to defence. Is it fair to expect the car pur- chaser to pay for defence? Of course it is not. All motor users are not wealthy; many of them are poor. If this is necessary for defence purposes the Government could well consider doing what Great Britain has done. As honorable members know, when Great Britain proposes to embark on any manufacturing enterprise as a contribution to the needs of defence, private firms are given rather big subsidies. But in reality, defence is not involved to any extent in this matter. The statement of the Minister that, if the proposal should be found uneconomic, it will be discontinued, is proof of that. I say unequivocally that no fund for a bounty should be raised until the Government has definitely decided on the manufacture of motor cars in Australia. I urge the committee to support my amendment.
– The honorable member for Indi (Mr. Hutchinson) has referred to the fact that the duty of . 7d. has been imposed for an indefinite period and that already it has been operative for six months. The only point that I desire to make is that this is a direct, not an indirect, tax, and that it has been imposed without the approval of this Parliament. I strongly object to the imposition of that class of tax without Parliament having a voice in the matter. Parliamentary approval must be obtained before any other direct tax is imposed. This is no different from income tax, sales tax, or any other direct tax. It was imposed by the Government for the definite purpose of raising a fund for the payment of a bounty - perhaps - at some time in the future, to an industry that has not yet started. We have no knowledge of whether it is ever likely to start, other than is conveyed by the bare announcement of the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties (Sir Henry Gullett), whose earlier grandiose statement has been largely discounted by another that he has made quite recently. According to what he has told us, only four firms have even made inquiries. The honorable gentleman has received no assurance from General Motors-Holdens or the Ford company - the two concerns that are already established in Australia - that they are likely to interest themselves in this pro ject, which to me has the appearance of a phantasy of the Government. The committee would be well advised to treat very seriously the amendment of the honorable member for Indi, because the duty of . 7d. has already been collected for over six months and we do not know how long it is likely to be continued. We have not been told what is to become of the bounty fund if the efforts of the Government should prove resultless. Every person who imports a motor car pays this direct tax, and ultimately the sum collected may find its way into consolidated revenue. The principle of imposing a tax without parliamentary approval is one that we should not countenance in any circumstances. In this case the Ministry has gone further than on any previous occasion in the usurpation of the rights of honorable members. Its action is unjustified and is not likely to lead to any definite result. I strongly support the amendment.
Question - That the motion (Mr. Hutchinson’s) be agreed to - put. The committee divided. (Temporary Chairman - Mr. Collins.)
Majority . . . . 36
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item put and agreed to.
Sitting suspended from 11.52 p.m. to 12.25 a.m. (Wednesday).
Division 5. - Textiles,felts andfurs, and Manufactures thereof, and Attire.
Postponed item 105 -
By omitting the whole of subparagraph (a) of paragraph (1) of sub-item (a) and inserting in its stead the following subparagraph : - ” (a) Cotton piece goods and piece goods containing a mixture of fibres in which cotton predominates (excepting piece goods enumerated in sub-items (aa), (d) (1) and (f) ), n.e.i. -
Unbleached, not being printed, dyed or coloured, per square yard - British,½d.; intermediate, 2½d. ; general, 2¾d. ; or ad valorem, British, 5 per cent., whichever rate returns the lower duty.
Bleached, not beingprinted, dyed or coloured, per square yard - British, ½d.; intermediate, 2¾d.; general, 3d.; or ad valorem, 5 per cent., whichever rate returns the lower duty.
Printed, dyed or coloured, per square yard - British,½d. ; intermediate, 3¼d.; general 3½d. ; or ad valorem, 5 per cent., whichever rate returns the lower duty.”
By omitting the whole of sub-paragraph (c) of paragraph (1) of sub-item (a) and inserting in its stead the following sub-paragraph: - “ (c) Cotton piece goods and piece goods containing a mixture of fibres in which cotton predominates (excepting piece goods enumerated in sub-items (aa), (d) (1) and (f) ), viz. : - Drills dungarees and jeans, weighing 6 oz. or less per square yard or weighing 18 oz. or more per square yard -
Unbleached, not being printed, dyed or coloured, per square yard - British,½d.; intermediate, 2½d.; general, 2¾d.; or ad valorem, British, 5 per cent., whichever rate returns the lower duty.
Bleached, not being printed, dyed or coloured, per square yard - British. ½d.; intermediate, 2¾d.; general, 3d.; or ad valorem, British, 5 per cent., whichever rate returns the lower duty.
Printed, dyed or coloured, per square yard - British,½d. ; intermediate, 3¼d. ; general, 3½d.; or ad valorem, British, 5 per cent., whichever rate returns the lower duty.”
By omitting the whole of sub-paragraph (d) of paragraph (1) of sub-item (a) and inserting in its stead the following subparagraph : - “(d) Cotton piece goods and piece goods containing a mixture of fibres in which cotton predominates, of a type which would otherwise be classifiable under sub-item (a) (1) (b), as prescribed by departmental by-laws, viz.: - for use in the manufacture of shirts; for use as pocketings in the manufacture of outer clothing; undyed, whether bleached or unbleached, for use in the manufacture of leathercloth, rubbercloth and other waterproofed cloth; undyed sheetings, whether bleached or unbleached, for use in the undyed state; for use in the manufacture of other goods not specified in sub-item (a) (1) (b) -
1 ) Unbleached, not being printed, dyed or coloured, per square yard - British,½d. ; intermedate, 2½d. ; general, 2¾d. ; or ad valorem, British, 5 per cent., whichever rate returns the lower duty.
Bleached, not being printed, dyed or coloured, per square yard - British,½d.; intermediate, 2¾d.; general, 3d.; or ad valorem, British, 5 per cent., whichever rate returns the lower duty.
Printed, dyed or coloured, per square yard - British,½d. ; intermediate, 3¼d; general, 3½d.; orad valorem, British,5 per cent., whichever rate returns the lower duty.”
By omitting the whole of sub-item (b) and inserting in its stead the following subitem : - “(b) Cotton piece goods and piece goods containing a mixture of fibres in which cotton predominates (excepting piece goods enumerated in sub-items (aa), (d) (1) and (f) ), defined for cutting up for the manufacture of hemmed or hemstitched handkerchiefs, serviettes, tablecloths, or window blinds, as prescribed by departmental by-laws -
1 ) Unbleached, not being printed dyed or coloured, per square yard - British,½d.; intermediate, 2½d.; general, 2¾d. ; or ad valorem - British, 5 per cent., whichever rate returns the lower duty.
Bleached, not being printed dyed or coloured, per square yard - British, ½d.; intermediate, 2¾d.; general, 3d.; or ad valorem - British, 5 percent., whichever rate returns the lower duty.
Printed, dyed or coloured, per square yard - British,½d. ; intermediate, 3¼d. ; general, 3½d. ; or ad valorem - British, 5 per cent., whichever rate returns the lower duty.”
By omitting the whole of sub-item (c) and inserting in its stead the following sub-item: - “(c) Piece goods, n.e.i., including cotton piece goods and piece goods containing a mixture of fibres in which cotton predominates but not including piece goods wholly of silk or in which silk predominates or piece goods enumerated in sub-i tems (aa), (d) (1) and: (f), suitable for human apparel, or to be worn in connexion with the human body, having on one or both sides a teased, treated, combed, fluffed, or raised nap or surface in imitation of or resembling flannel in feel or appearance -
Unbleached, not being printed dyed or coloured, per square yard - British,½d.; intermediate, 2½d.; general, 2¾d.; or ad valorem - British, 5 per cent., whichever rate returns the lower duty.
Bleached, not being printed dyed or coloured, per square yard - British, ½d.; intermediate, 2¾d. ; general, 3d.; or ad valorem - British, 5 per cent., whichever rate returns the lower duty.
Printed, dyed or coloured, per square yard - British,½d. ; intermediate, 3¼d.; general, 3½d.; or ad valorem - British, 5 per cent., whichever rate returns the lower duty.”
By omitting the whole of sub-item (d) and inserting in its stead the following subitem : - “ (d) (1) Artificial silk, or containing artificial silk or having artificial silk worked thereon, except piece goods enumerated in subitems (a) (1) (&), (a) (3), (aa) and (f) - (a.) As prescribed by departmental bylaws in respect only of goods entered for home consumption on or before 30th November, 1936, per square yard - British,½d.; intermediate, 3d.; general, 3d.
Other, per square yard - British, l½d.; intermediate, 8d.; general, 9d.
Silk, or containing silk or having silk worked thereon, except piece goods enumerated in sub-items (a) (1), (a) (3), (aa), (b), (c), (d) (1), (f), and item 130 (b) (1), ad valorem - British, 10 per cent.; intermediate, 30 per cent.; general, 30 per cent.”
By adding a new sub-item (m), as follows: - “ (m) Linen piece goods, viz.: -
Defined for cutting up for the manufacture of hemmed or hemstitched handkerchiefs, serviettes, tablecloths, or window blinds, as prescribed by departmental by-laws, ad valorem - British. 5 per cent.; intermediate, 25 per cent.; general, 25 per cent.
N.E.I., ad valorem - British, 5 per cent. : intermediate. 25 per cent. ; general, 25 per cent.”
By adding a new sub-item (n). as follows: - “ (n) Piece goods n.e.i. ad valorem - British. 5 per cent.; intermediate, 25 per cent.; general, 25 per cent.”
Item proposed to be amended - 105 (a) (1) (a) Cotton, linen, and other piece goods, n.e.i., ad val., British 5 per cent.; general. 25 per cent. 105 (a) (1) (c) Cotton piece goods, viz.: - Drills . . ., per square yard, ad. val., British 5 per cent.; intermediate, 25 per cent.; general, 25 per cent. 105 (a) (1) (d) Cotton piece goods of a type which would otherwise be classifiable under sub-item (a) ( 1 ) ( b ) , as prescribed by departmental by-laws . . . ad val., British 5 per cent.; intermediate, 25 per cent.; general, 25 per cent. 105 (b) Cotton and linen piece goods defined for cutting up for the manufacture of hemmed or hemstitched handkerchiefs . . . ad val., British 5 per cent.; general, 25 per cent. 105 (c) Piece goods, n.e.i., other than of wool or silk, suitable for human apparel . . . ad val., British 5 per cent.; general, 25 per cent. 105 (d) (1) Artificial silk, or containing artificial silk … ad val., British 20 per cent.; general, 40 per cent. 105 (d) (2) Silk, or containing silk or having silk worked thereon . . ad val., British 10 per cent.; general, 30 per cent.
Note. - The rates under the proposals of 29th October, 1936- not operative until a date to be fixed by proclamation - are, ad val., British7½ per cent.; intermediate, 25 per cent.; general, 30 per cent.
– I move -
That the following be added to subparagraph (a) of paragraph (1) of sub-item (a) - “And in respect of sub-paragraph (a) - on and after a date to be fixed by Proclamation - such rates under the columns headed British Preferential Tariff, Intermediate Tariff and General Tariff, as are specified in the Proclamation.
Provided that -
the rates so specified under the columns headed British Preferential Tariff, Intermediate Tariff and General Tariff, shall not be higher than the rates respectively specified under those columns in subparagraph (a) ; and
the rates so specified shall cease to have effect as from 9 o’clock in the forenoon (reckoned according to standard time in the Territory for the Seat of Government) on the day following the date of introduction into the House of Representatives of a Tariff Proposal for the imposition of duties of Customs upon goods covered by subparagraph (a) or upon the expiration of fifteen sitting days from the date of the first meeting of the House of Representatives in the year 1937, whichever first happens “.
This amendment arises from circumstances of an extraordinary kind, which, I venture to say, may not recur in the course of the next 50 years. The duties, as they now stand, on both cotton and artificial silk piece goods were tabled in this chamber on the 22nd May last. In reality, the tariff levels proposed for these textiles were of a negotiatory kind. We did not look upon them in any sense as permanent duties. At the same time they were to be effective in the circumstances where they applied. We were, however, endeavouring to move to a settlement of the dispute with Japan on a quota basis covering imports from that country of cotton and artificial silk piece goods. It was always in the mind of the Government, and was, I think understoodby the Japanese Government, that, if we arrived at a settlement upon a quota basis, the new duties would be reduced. It will be clear to honorable members that, in the event of the Japanese Government accepting the reduction of imports from that country for last year of these two classes of textiles, it would not be reasonable to impose very high import duties and a quota at the same time. There are, however, difficulties which prevent these duties from being made too low. The present negotiations with the representatives of the Japanese Government are not complete,but I am pleased to be able to say that they are in an advanced stage, and I look forward with a measure of confidence to their completion at a very early date. It is therefore proposed to ask the committee to pass these duties as they now stand on the high levels introduced on the 22nd May, because we have no alternative to that. The actual duties to be imposed have not yet been quite decided upon, but we appear to be close to an agreement. I therefore ask the committee to give the Executive power, at any time subsequent to the passing of these duties, to reduce them after a settlement has been reached with Japan on a quota basis. The power to amend would be by proclamation. That is, as I have said, an unusual power to ask from this Parliament, but it arises out of the extraordinary circumstance that we appear to be so close to a settle ment, yet I cannot be certain that if we delay this matter for a few hours a settlement would be reached within those few hours. It is deemed necessary by the Government and by its representatives in another place, that this schedule should reach another place to-morrow if the programme of the Government in respect of this session of Parliament is to be adhered to.
– Is there any limit to the minimum reduction?
– There are two specific conditions, and I shall then add a third in answer to the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway). They are -
This means that Parliament must be given an opportunity to discuss the proclaimed rates of duty, and, furthermore, an opportunity at the very earliest moment possible. The third point is that I give the undertaking that the duties proclaimed shall not be below the level which leaves the Ottawa margin of preference.
– That is, the rates in the schedule before the 22nd May.
– They are on a different basis; the present basis is a specific-rates basis, as against the old ad. valorem basis, but the Ottawa margin at least will be preserved. This proposal of the Government has been communicated to the J apanese delegates, and they completely understand what is being done. There is thus no fear that the Japanese Government may misinterpret the Government’s present proposals. There are a number of these amendments. I move the first. The others are consequential. It is a somewhat unusual procedure, but iu the special circumstances, I commend it to honorable members.
– The Opposition does not intend to contest the amendments that have been put forward by the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties (Sir Henry Gullett). As negotiations are still proceeding with Japan, with, as the Minister has indicated, every prospect of success, we would not wish, at this juncture, in any way to disturb the position, but prefer to permit the Minister to do what is possible to secure a satisfactory settlement. “We wish, however, to indicate very definitely that the Government accepts full responsibility for these proposals arid the action it will take as a result of their adoption. We hope that the negotiations will terminate successfully and with mutual satisfaction to both parties.
– I protest against the method of procedure followed by the Government in connexion with these matters. I repeat the protest which I entered on the 22nd of May when these proposals were introduced, first, against the method adopted by the Government in bringing them forward on the eve of the adjournment of Parliament and, secondly, against its action in breaking the law as laid down in the Tariff Board Act, which provides that an inquiry by the board must precede the imposition of new duties. More particularly do I protest against the procedure that has been adopted this evening. I reiterate my opinion that this policy is not only bound to create enemies, particularly at a time when we want all the friends we can get, but is also likely to be injurious to Australia as a whole. I regret very much indeed that although there is a big percentage of Country party members in the present Cabinet they are to be found approving of a policy of this sort, although they are members of a party whose main objective is to try to reduce the costs of production to the primary producer. We have found, as item after item has been considered, that each has embodied something that is likely to make it still more difficult for the primary producer to make good.
– I think that these proposals are going to effect reductions.
– I have read in an editorial in the Melbourne Argus the suggestion that members of Parliament are not justified in entering a protest against the action of the Government at a time when negotiations with Japan are still proceeding. It is a very sad state of affairs indeed when one finds so important a section of the press contending that it is not the duty of a member of Parliament to express his convictions on this matter, and that he is expected to allow month after month to elapse while the whole trade of the country is held up because of some fancy programme brought forward by the Government, which was not forecast either in the policy speech of the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) or by any member of the Government prior to the introduction of these resolutions. Right up to the 22nd May last we had instance after instance of reductions of duties so far as British imports were concerned. Those reductions were evidence of the general policy on the part of the Government of endeavouring to reduce the cost of production. And then, like a bombshell, proposals which must, undoubtedly, adversely affect the future of Australia, were brought forward. This Government has been exceedingly fortunate in regard to the increased prices which Australia has received for its wool and wheat. But for those increases there would have been an outcry from one end of Australia to the other against its policy. What these increased prices for our exports may mean is difficult to say, but I believe that I am voicing the general opinion when I say that they have been brought about by a fear of war on the part of overseas countries. There is a demand by all continental countries for wool and wheat, because the peoples of those countries believe that there is grave danger of some incident causing a conflagration among the nations of the world.
– And the demand has also arisen because of the failure of crops in overseas countries.
– That may have had something to do with the demand, but not to the same extent as the fear of war. I realize the futility of my protest or of trying to induce the committee to alter the Government’s verdict. In those circumstances, one has to accept the position which has developed. I want my protest, however, to be clearly indicated, because I believe that the Government has done something in respect of these duties which will be detrimental to the industries of Australia as a whole, and that later we will have to pay a very heavy penalty for forcing these false doctrines upon our people.
– I join with the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) in protesting against any suggestion that the practice being followed by the Government to-night is to be permanent. However, I accept the statement of the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties (Sir Henry Gullett) that it is only the extraordinary circumstances surrounding the present position that have induced him to ask for the power he is now seeking. No suggestion has been made that this procedure should be followed in future, and consequently we can accept the assurance given by the Minister that it is only the extraordinary circumstances existing at present that have induced him to ask for this power.
– All honorable members, I feel sure, are glad to hear that there are very hopeful prospects of the negotiations with Japan being successfully concluded. The proposal now before the committee is one method, and possibly the only method, by which we may leave the door open for a continuation of negotiations during the time Parliament is in recess. At this juncture, I wish to repeat the suggestion which I expressed during the general debate on the tariff, that, in view of the possibility of Parliament going . into recess before the negotiations were completed, it was undesirable that there should remain on our statute-book a rate of duty which the Government admits, had merely been fixed for purposes of negotiation. As the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties (Sir Henry Gullett) has clearly indicated that such progress has been made in the negotiations that the Government has intimated its willingness to agree to a lower rate of duty and a quota for Japan, I believe that it would be much preferable if the Government were to amend this particular tariff item by substituting for the present rate of duty, the rate which has been most recently offered to Japan. Furthermore, on the substitution of the latter rate, the Government should state that a quota would be agreed upon, imports being subjected to such control under the licensing system as was thought desirable. At the same time, there could be exercised the power which this amendment gives to the Minister to continue the negotiations, and, if thought desirable, make the reductions within the limits fixed by this amendment. It is an entirely bad principle for a parliament to approve of a duty which is admitted by all honorable members and the Government not to be the rate of duty which they wish to exist.
: - The committee must have regard to the serious nature of the precedent which will be created if this proposal is agreed to. I agree with the honorable member for Echuca (Mr. McEwen) that Australia is likely to earn a questionable reputation among the nations of the world if it becomes known that the Commonwealth Government placed on the table of the House of Representatives a schedule of tariff duties which contained items about which it was not sincere, but which were placed before Parliament merely as so much window dressing. If this sort. of thing is done on the occasion of a dispute with Japan, it will be believed by other countries with which Australia may have disputes in the future that, in regard to tariff matters, Australia is like the Arab who asks for 20 piastres for an article which he is prepared to sell for five piastres.
– The position is completely understood by the Japanese Government. The procedure which has been adopted was decided on only after consultation with representatives of that Government, and following advice that in no other way could the matter be’ dealt with satisfactorily.
– The Minister’s explanation does not make the position’ any better. The fixing of rates of duty is a matter for this Parliament.
The wishes, or even the consent, of the representatives of a foreign Government should not enter into the matter at all. The committee should know definitely what quota of goods from other countries the Government is prepared to allow into this country. Parliament ought to know the Government’s intention in that respect. Personally, I distrust the method which has been adopted. We are setting up a precedent which may be used in ways entirely different from those which the committee visualizes to-night.
Amendment agreed to.
Sub-item a further consequentially amended.
Sub-items b, c, and d, also consequentially amended.
– I move -
That the following be added to sub-item n : - “And on and after 2nd December, 1936 -
Piece Goods, viz.: -
Lampwicking; Candlewicking ; Cotton piece goods in widths not exceeding one inch, viz., Tapes, Mattress binding, Lacing and webbing of the type used for bonnets and radiators of motor vehicles, ad val. : British, 5 per cent.; intermediate, 25 per cent.; general, 25 per cent.
N.E.I., ad val.: British, 5 per cent.; intermediate, 25 per cent.; general, 25 per cent.”
The amendment is designed to remove an anomaly which resulted from the imposition of fixed rates of duty a square yard on cotton piece goods. Following the imposition of the fixed rates of duty, considerable difficulty was occasioned in determining the actual amount of duty payable on piece goods of narrow widths, particularly cotton tapes, which are often imported in cardboard cabinets containing several rolls of tape each of a different width. The amendment provides for the reversion to ad valorem rates of duty on cotton tapes and other similar fabrics of narrow widths.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Items 120 and 130 consequentially amended, and as amended, agreed to.
Preliminary matter agreed to.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Sir Henry Gullett and Mr. Menzies do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill brought up by Sir Henry Gullett, and read a first and a second time.
– Will the Minister give the committee the assurance that the bill does not contain anything beyond what is covered by the resolutionwhich has just been agreed to?
– I give the honorable member that assurance.
Bill agreed to, and reported from committee without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 22nd May (vide page 2229, volume 150), on motion by Mr. White (vide page 2225) -
That, on and after the twenty-third day of May, One thousand nine hundred and thirtysix, at nine o’clock in the forenoon, reckoned according to standard time in the Territory for the Seat of Government, the Schedule to the Customs Tariff (Exchange Adjustment) Act 1933-1934 as proposed to be amended by the Customs Tariff (Exchange Adjustment) proposals introduced into the House of Representatives on the following dates, namely: - 28th November, 1935; 20th March, 1936; 1st April. 1936; and 2nd April, 1930; be further amended . . .
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Standing Orders suspended ; resolution adopted.
That Sir Henry Gullett and Mr. Menzies do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill brought up by Sir Henry Gullett, and passed through all stages without amendment or debate.
Consideration resumed from the 22nd May (vide page 2229, volume 150), on motion by Mr. White (vide page 2226)-
That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) 1934 as proposed to be amended by the Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) Proposals introduced into the House of Representatives on the twenty-eighth day of November, One thousand nine hundred and thirty-five, and on the first day of April, One thousand nine hundred and thirty-six, be further amended as hereunder set out . . .
– I suggest that the Minister report progress at this stage.
Order of the Day read for the consideration of the resolution reported on the 17th November (vide page 1899) -
That the schedule to the Customs Tariffs 1933, as amended by the Customs Tariff 1930, and as proposed to be amended by the Customs Tariff Proposals introduced into the “House of Representatives on the twenty-second day of May, one thousand nine hundred and thirtysix, be further amended as hereunder set out . .
Resolution adopted. Standing Orders suspended.
That Sir Henry Gullett and Sir Archdale Parkhill do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill brought up by Sir Henry Gullett and passed through all stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from the 29th October (vide page 1434) on motion by Sir Henry Gullett -
That on and after a date to be fixed by proclamation the schedule to the Customs Tariff (Exchange Adjustment) Act 1933-1934, as amended by the Customs Tariff (Exchange Adjustment) Act 1936 and as proposed to be amended by the Customs Tariff (Exchange Adjustment) Proposals introduced into the House of Representatives on the twenty-second day of May, One thousand nine hundred and thirty-six, be further amended as follows: -
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Standing Orders suspended ; resolution adopted.
That Sir Henry Gullett and Mr. Paterson do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill brought up by Sir Henry Gullett and passed through all stages without amendment or debate.
House adjourned at 1.9 a.m. (Wednesday).
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
e asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
In the cases of the honorable member for Bendigo and Sir Robert Knox, travelling allowance was paid from the time of leaving London until the time of return thereto. In the case of Mr. P. J. Trainer, travelling allowance was paid from the time of embarkation in Australia until the time of disembarkation on the return journey, except during the short period Mr. Trainer remained in England to meet his private convenience. Mr. Trainer also received compensation for loss of wages during the time that he was absent from Australia.
Other incidental expenses at Geneva such as the provision of motor transport, were paid from Commonwealth funds.
n asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Whether he will place on the table of the library a copy of each appeal for recruits for the Commonwealth Military Forces issued by, or with the consent of, the Minister for Defence ?
– The documents referred to have been placed on the table of the library.
s asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1-5. Permission has been given for the admission, under exemption, for a period of twelve months of four Japanese experts and one interpreter for the purpose of grading and analysing iron ore at Koolan Island, Yampi Sound, Western Australia. The leader of this party is Mr. Koichi Fujimura, of the Nippon Mining Company. Mining leases were granted by the Government of Western Australia in respect of certain iron ore deposits at Koolan Island to Messrs. H. A. Brassert and Company Limited, an English company, which is in negotiation with the Nippon Mining Company of Tokyo, Japan, for the provision of capital in an Australian operating company which will provide plant and machinery necessary to work the deposits, it being understood that the Nippon Mining Company will take the whole of the output. Provision is being made for the sale of the ore at the operating company’s works at Koolan Island and not on delivery in Japan, so that it is necessary for a limited number of Japanese experts to remainon the island to satisfy themselves as to the proper grading and analysis of the ore, and thereby eliminate a great many difficulties and possibilities of disagreement. These experts will not bo engaged on developmental work of any kind, and the position will be reviewed at the end of twelve months with a view to determining whether the work of grading and inspection can satisfactorily be carried out by Australians. The entry of Japanese experts for this purpose is not dissimilar from the
Admission into Australia of representatives of other countries for the purposes of inspecting, evaluating and purchasing the wool clip. 6-7. As mining, except within the territories controlled by the Commonwealth, is a State function, the Commonwealth Government has no power over the granting of leases at Yampi Sound or in connexion with the development of these iron ore deposits. These are matters entirely within the province of the Government of Western Australia, as are the conditions of employment in this undertaking. It would seem unlikely, however, that development will be carried out under other than recognized Australian conditions of employment. 8-9. I have no knowledge of any assurance that the capital employed in the development of those iron ore deposits would be exclusively British. It is understood that the Nippon Mining Company is providing capital by way of loan to an operating company to be formed in Australia for the purpose of developing the deposits. This operating company will not, I am informed by the Government of Western Australia, have any interest in the leases.
k asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– It is not the practice of the department to disclose information regarding the business of individual importers.
Bananas : Imports into Western Australia.
en asked the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained and will be furnished to the honorable member later.
e. - On the 27th November the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) asked the following questions, upon notice -
I am now able to furnish the honorable member with the following information : -
From the 3rd August, 1931, to the16th June, 1932, 1 cent per lb.; from the 17th June, 1932, to the 12th October, 1932, 2 cents per lb; from the 13th October, 1932 to the 13th April, 1936, no preference; since the 14th April, 1936, 1. cent per lb.
Wireless BROADCASTING : B Class Stations.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 1 December 1936, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1936/19361201_reps_14_152/>.