1st Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator MILLEN presented a petition under seal from the Colonial Sugar Refining Co. Limited, of Sydney, in the State of New South Wales, praying the Senate to amend the Excise Tariff Bill so as to insure uniform and equitable treatment to all taxpayers, and to preserve the rights to assert claims under section 154 of the Excise Act.
Senator GLASSEY presented a petition from eleven farmers and agriculturists at Pioneer River, Mackay, in the State of Queensland, praying the Senate to exempt from excise duty sugar made previous to 8th October, 1901.
Senator FRASER presented a similar petition from 21 cane-growers and sugar manufacturers atHabana, Mackay, in the State of Queensland.
Petitions received and read.
Senator FRASER presented a petition similar to the precedingone from nine canegrowers and manufacturers in the same district.
Has theusual allowance for overtime been paid to letter-sorters in the G.P.O., Sydney, for the period from November last to date ?
At what rate per hour is this allowance calculated ?
Have not the officials concerned to expend the said allowance in the purchase of meals ?
Is it intended to place the allowance of overtime pay on a more equitable basis ?
– The desired information is being obtained, and will be furnished as early as possible.
President of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Does not the Customs Act provide for the cessation of work in the Customs department at 5 p.m. on five days per week, and at 12 noon on Saturday ?
Areout-door officers of Customs paid for overtime work in Sydney as follows : -
When working to convenience the department.
When working to convenience merchants, are not Customs officers paid by merchants interested ?
If it is proper forCustoms officers to be paid when working overtime for the convenience of merchants, is it not equally proper that they should be paid when working overtime for the convenience of the department ?
Is he aware that officers of Customs are required to attend at the Custom-house, Sydney, on Saturday afternoons, holidays, and Sundays, for which attendance they receive neither pay nor allowances?
If so, will steps be taken to remedy and redress the state of things referred to ?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
-Col. NEILD asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The following answers have been supplied to the questions of the honorable senator : -
2 and 3. None.
Debate resumed from 14th May(vide page 12580), on motion by Senator O’Connor -
That the Bill benowreadasecondtime.
– It has not been my pleasure to hear all the speeches which have been delivered during the past fortnight upon this important question. I should like to have heard them, but I sacrificed myself on the altar of duty, and denied myself that pleasure for one week, in order to permit of my accompanying the members of the House of Representatives on a portion of their tour of inspection of the sites proposed for the federal capital. . At this stage of the debate I recognise that almost every argument that could be used for either freetrade or protection has been adduced, and I therefore do not propose to enter into the fiscal controversy. Although the Tariff, as first introduced into the House of Representatives did not meet with my approval, as a fair compromise, I think that in its present form it will as nearly as possible meet the financial exigencies of the States, and operate fairly, taking into consideration their varying circumstances. During my electoral campaign I refused to be bound down to either of the fiscal platforms, and, therefore, like several other senators, I have practically a free hand with regard to this Tariff I recognised that this must be a compromise Tariff. When I considered that the six States forming the Commonwealth had widely differing fiscal policies, and that their representatives would seek to give effect to the fiscal ideas embodied in these policies, I felt confident that nothing but a compromise Tariff would be passed by the Federal Parliament Although I was called to account by the newspapers holding extreme views on the fiscal question on either side, I adhered to that opinion, and events have justified me. When it is remembered that the fiscal policies of the States differed so widely that in New South Wales, representing one extreme, the revenue collected through the Customs did not exceed 17 per cent. of the total revenue of that State, and that in Tasmania - which, with the exception of Western Australia, was raising the largest proportion of revenue per cent, through the Customs - 47 per cent. was represented by customs duties, it must be recognised that the Ministry had a difficult task to perform in meeting the varying needs of the States, and at the’ same time carrying out that part of the Maitland programme which was expressed in the historical phrase, “ Revenue without destruction.” Several honorable senators have stated that they do not believe in revenue without destruction, but I do. It would have been nothing short of criminal on the part of any Federal Ministry to attempt to bring in a Tariff which would destroy industries already in existence, even although they might have grown up with the assistance of heavy protective duties. If we are to have atrue federation, and if the federal spirit is to prevail, it will be impossible for any one State to have its own way. Surely it is only by mutual concession on the part of all the States that we can have a true federation. No matter what Ministry had been in power - a Barton Ministry, or a Reid Ministry, or any other set of men in Australia - there would have been the same long fiscal struggle before the first federal Tariff was finally passed. I allied myself - if I allied myself with any fiscal party - with the revenue-tariffists ; but thereare two kinds of revenue-tariffists. There are those who hold that revenue is the first and only consideration, and others who, whilst trying to obtain the revenue necessary for their own States, will, if possible, raise it in such a way as not to destroy existing industries in any State, but, on the other hand, assist them. Whilst I shall endeavour to cast my votes so as to meet the financial needs of the State which I represent, I shall also do my best to assist in giving employment to Australians. The arguments we have heard, based upon the results of the fiscal policies of Great Britain, America, and Germany, are quite beside the question. Honorable senators have gone too far back into the history of the old world. I maintain that we have nothing to do with the policies of older countries, but that we are here to frame an Australian Tariff for the Australian people. Free-traders and protectionists alike must agree that if in framing our Tariff we can provide employment for Australian people, we shall do right. We have heard a great deal about bolstering up artificial and secondary industries, and placing immense burdens on the primary producers or those engaged in what have been called the natural industries of the country. I desire to know what is the difference between a natural and an artificial industry. Surely any industry which is necessary for the comfort and wellbeing of the people may appropriately be called a natural industry 1 At all events it is a national industry, and I shall be found voting to support such industries, consistently with making provision for the revenue necessities of my own State. In making this drastic change from the fiscal policies of the different States, it is our duty to see that as little harm as possible is done, and I maintain that the Government, however successfully or unsuccessfully, have earnestly tided to frame this Tariff in such a way as to work the smallest possible injury, having regard both to the fiscal policies and to the revenue needs of the States. A great deal has been said against the ultra-protection that has hitherto existed in Victoria. I never believed in this ultra-protection, and I thought that many of the Victorian duties were higher than necessary. We have not, however, to consider that aspect of the matter so much us the fact that Victoria entered the Federation, just as did New South Wales and the other States, believing that she would 35 x 2 get fair play. In spite of all the blame that has been attached to Victoria during the long struggle in the House of Representatives, and during the debate in this Chamber, I consider that the representatives of that State are perfectly justified in trying to secure as highly protective duties as they possibly can. It must be remembered that one-third of the total wealth of Victoria is represented by her manufactures.
– How does the honorable senator arrive at that conclusion 1
– I obtained the information from what has been called the free-trader’s bible - Coghlan. According to Coghlan, the value of the manufactures of Victoria for 1900 amounted to XI 0,052, 000, or £S 13s. per head; roughly speaking, about one-third of the total value of wealth productions of the State.
– That is exclusive of the cost of the raw material.
– Tes. I am not urging this in support of the high protective duties hitherto levied in Victoria, but I contend that the people of that State are justified in trying to obtain as much protection as they can. On the other hand,, the representatives of New South Wales are warranted in trying to secure as nearly as possible a free-trade Tariff, because they represent what has been a free-trade State. It has been admitted by a number o’f freetraders - even by Senator Pearce - that they cannot have free-trade under the Federation. Senator Pearce is about the only genuinefreetrader in this Senate.
– No, he .is not - there are plenty of others here.
– So far as we can judge from the speeches that have been, delivered, Senator Pearce is the only freetrader who has stated that if he had his own way he would not rely upon a CustomsTariff for any revenue whatever.
– Hear, hear. That honorable senator is the only one who has carried his arguments to a logical conclusion.
– I should like to see that policy practically worked out.
– Senator Clemons, during his electoral campaign, won the respect of all the free-traders of Tasmania by his sturdy advocacy of free-trade principles, but, genuine free-trader though he may be, he has not told us that he would he prepared tq go to the same length as Senator Pearce, and derive all revenue from sources other than the customs.
– Senator Pearce said that we could not do it.
– He said that he was not able to do it, because the freetraders would not consent to it. But even Senator Pearce, who is the most genuine and logical free-trader in this Chamber, admits that he must go to the Custom-house for revenue. That being so, what is the difference between the free-traders and those protectionists who, in the main, intend to support the Tariff under consideration ? Of course, there are items in the schedule - I will not mention them specifically - with which I am not in agreement. But, taking it as the first instrument of Customs taxation for united Australia, I say that it offers very little room for difference “between free-traders and protectionists. The former can support this Tariff just as -consistently as can the latter. Of course, I am aware that it does not suit the Victorians. Even those ardent freetraders who, if possible, would alter every item which it contains, do not for a moment claim that it suits protectionists. The latter are as loud in their complaints regarding some of the duties imposed as are the free-traders. Consequently I am upon firm ground when I maintain that it is a compromise Tariff. A great deal of blame has been cast upon the Government for having framed such a Tariff, on the plea that it destroys the revenue-producing powers of the States - in short, that it is not a revenue-getter. Upon the one hand we have the newspapers which are opposed to the Government in the smaller States - generally the free-trade organs - crying out that the Tariff will ruin those States, because it will not produce sufficient revenue ; and -on tho other the leader of the free-trade party, in what might be termed his valedictory speech in the House of Representatives, -complaining bitterly that it will produce £1, 500, 000 more than the Treasurer’s estimate, and will therefore conduce to extravagance in all the States.
– Not in all the States. Tasmania will not be extravagant on account of the operation of this Tariff.
– Tasmania cannot be extravagant, because it will not produce more revenue than she requires. I was merely pointing out that the leader of the party to which the honorable and learned senator belongs - the champion free-trade advocate in Australia - has consistentlycontended, and especially in the closing hours of the Tariff debate in the other Chamber, that this schedule will conduce to State extravagance. I am sure he hopes that its revenue-producing powers will be still further curtailed in this House. But, whatever a man’s fiscal opinions may be, when he comes, as I do, from one of the smaller States, he has to fight “with his hands tied behind his back,” to use the happy expression supplied by Senator Clemons. He recognises that in his advocacy of free-trade he cannot forget the revenue needs of his own State. Although I hope to see a fair measure of protection extended to Australian industries, I occupy a very similar position to my honorable colleague in that I must recognise the revenue needs of Tasmania. In that State we have to face the fact that, instead of deriving £440,000 or £450,000 of our total revenue through the Customs, as we did prior to federation, we shall get approximately £300,000 only during the first year of the operation of this Tariff. That means that our Tasmanian Treasurer will have to forego £140,000 or £150,000 of the revenue which he was accustomed to receive prior to the accomplishment of federal union. But I maintain that that amount represents a Treasurer’s loss ; it is not a people’s loss. Almost the whole of that money is left in the pockets of the people, and consequently the Tasmanian Government will only be required to alter the incidence of taxation in that State. Although it is not my province to touch upon the matter here, I think that that incidence of taxation might well be altered to the ultimate benefit of my own State. I believe that it will be far better for the people there to pay less than they have been contributing through the Customs, and to pay more in direct taxation. The exact form of direct taxation which should be imposed is of course a matter for the State Government to deal with. During this discussion it has been stated that Tasmania will lose from £15,000 to £20,000 ‘annually through the suppression of “ Tattersalls “ consultations. That reference must be my excuse for touching upon this question. It is true that Tasmania will lose from £15,000 to £20,000 in postal revenue because of the action of the
Commonwealth Parliament in endeavouring to suppress “ Tattersall’s.”
– Is “Tattersall” still defying the law t
– Yes, with the assistance of the State Premier.
– Then the law will find a way to vindicate itself.
– Although I fought against the suppression of “Tattersall’s” consultations through the medium of the Post and Telegraph Bill, I did not oppose the particular provision relating to that matter, upon the ground that it would involve Tasmania in a loss of revenue. Neither did any of my colleagues from that State.
– I did.
– I do not think so. The honorable and learned senator opposed the clause, not because it interfered with “Tattersall’s” sweeps, not because it would result in a loss of £15,000 a year to that State, but upon the ground of State rights. I took up a .similar position then to that which I now occupy. But what I particularly desire to point out regarding the taxation proposals which must be submitted in Tasmania, for the purpose of adjusting its revenue, is that the Premier of that State has now a chance to exhibit his consistency. He has fought bitterly against the Barton Government, and against the Federal Parliament, by raising the issue of State rights, for all it is worth. The question of revenue has been largely dragged in, if not by the Premier himself, by his colleagues and by politicians in Tasmania. If he wishes to be consistent, let .him take a step which will enable Tasmania to retain “Tattersall’s” consultations, and provide that , State, not with a revenue of £15,000 annually, but with one of £40,000 or £50,000. I merely touch upon this question incidentally, because if the Tasmanian Government are so incensed at the action of this Parliament in endeavouring to suppress “Tattersall’s” sweeps, let them openly conduct those consultations as a State concern. By so doing, instead of securing a revenue from that source of £15,000 a year, thev will easily obtain from £4.0,000. to £50,000”.
– I hope they will never do that.
– They should either do that, or hold their peace for ever regarding the action of this Parliament in having removed “ Tattersall’s.” In support of my argument that the financial affairs of Tasmania are not in such a bad state as they have been made to appear, I can put in evidence the utterances of the Treasurer and Chief Secretary of that State. This Tariff has been condemned by the free-trade press and by many members in both Houses of the Federal Parliament, on the ground that it will ruin the smaller States, particularly Queensland and Tasmania. I hold, however, that it will not deprive those States of anything which they previously possessed. Its only effect will be to compel an alteration in the incidence of their taxation, and, in the long run, probably it will benefit Tasmania. In support of my contention, I quote the following newspaper extract concerning addresses delivered by the Treasurer and Chief Secretary in the south of that State : -
Both Ministers spoke most cheerfully of the present generally prosperous condition of the. State, and hopefully of its future. While clearly pointing out the serious shortage of State revenue under the federal Tariff, they indicatedseveral advantages arising from federation, such as larger and freer markets, improved prices forour products, and, in some respects, reduced cost of living. They both strongly insisted that, though strict economy must be practised in State affairs, there was no necessity for such drastic and severe retrenchment as that which took place during the depression of 1892 and the following years, but that it would be quite possible, by a reasonable reduction of expenditure in some directions, and by the ‘adoption of a more equitable and general system of taxation than, now exists, to keep the expenditure for 1903.- within the limits of the revenue for that year. The people were warned that they must expectto have to submit to some sacrifices, in order tosecure the balancing of the State ledger, but theywere reminded that not only are they better able today to bear new financial burdens than they werea few years ago, but that they are paying now in taxation very much less than they were payingthen. During one of those years twice as much was paid in land tax as is paid now, and during; several of those years £25,000 or £30,000 was paid! in income tax, £30,000 in police rates, and £20,000 in tea and kerosene duties, a total of over £100,000 a year paid in taxation in those years. That is not paid now. It was, therefore, clear that the more prosperous people of to-day, even if called upon to pay, in one form or another, £50,000 or £60,000 of new taxation, will be more lightly taxed by £50,000 or £00,000 a year than they were a few years ago.
So much for the latest official utterances in opposition to all the statements which have been made that this Tariff will ruin Tasmania financially.
– It will not ruin her, but it will certainly harm her.
– I am quite in agreement with two of my colleagues, who declared that Tasmania possesses great recuperative powers. Perhaps I go further than they when I say that Tasmania is now reaping immense benefits from federation. The farmers there were never so well off as they are to-day. If they were asked whether they would relinquish federation should this Tariff pass both Houses without alteration, they would reply with an,emphatic “No.” The people of that State are benefiting immensely from federation, and they must be prepared to enter this’ union in. a proper spirit. If they are required to make small sacrifices, they should be prepared to do so. Although they have not been accustomed to stiff duties upon some articles which it is proposed to tax heavily, they will submit to the alteration cheerfully. As a matter of fact, the Tasmanian Tariff, although imposed for revenue purposes, certainly had a protective incidence. No one will deny that a 20 per cent, duty upon woollens in Tasmania has materially assisted that industry.
– It is almost the only industry in Tasmania.
– The honorable and learned senator must surely forget the jammaking and fruit-preserving industries.
– What protection do they receive?
– They get the benefit of a wider market. I am speaking of the benefits which federation conferred upon them. There was one remark in Senator O’Connor’s introductory speech, which occurred to me as being of very great importance to the State which Senator Clemons and I represent. In speaking of a proposed bonus to the iron industry, Senator O’Connor said -
No industry employs so many men, compared to the value of its products, as does the iron industry.
He also said that there were in Australia tens of thousands of tons of spelter from which zinc may be made. He might well have said that there are hundreds of thousands -of tons of spelter. I certainly know of hundreds of thousands of tons of zinciferous ore, the working of which would be of considerable benefit to Tasmania, if the proposals for granting bonuses to the zinc industry are carried out. If bonuses for the production of iron are given, I suppose there is no State in the Commonwealth that is likely to gain more than Tasmania. Whatever the future of Australia is going to be, in connexion with primary production or manufactures, we cannot settle its policy in a day nor in a session. Australia will work out its own destiny in these respects. Progress must be gradual, and that is why I am found supporting what I maintain is a purely compromise Tariff in preference either to an extreme free-trade or an extreme protectionist Tariff at this juncture. It would be too violent and sudden a wrench to bring all the States up to the verge of extreme protection, or to submit them to extreme free-trade. That is my justification for supporting a compromise Tariff. The process of growth towards a high protectionist Tariff or towards a freetrade Tariff for Australia must be gradual ; and although I hope that within a very few 3’ears we shall see Australian industries securing even a larger measure of protection than this Tariff is going to afford them, we cannot ‘do anything less than accept this gradual process. But even the smallest of the States, which some honorable senators think cannot be benefited by a protectionist Tariff because it has not many so-called secondary industries, has a chance of becoming a manufacturing State in the future.
– Where is it going to sell its manufactures t
– In Australia. We shall not always have a population of only 3,850,000 in Australia. I hope the honorable and learned senator himself will live to see 10,000,000 of people here. If any part of Australia is to become strong in manufactures Tasmania has as good a chance as any other State. Up to the present, Tasmania has had practically no secondary industries of any great importance, if we take the whole volume of her productions. About nine-tenths of the total wealth of Tasmania is derived from what may be called primary industries. I think that is exactly the amount, because I have gone into the matter carefully, though I am not going to flood the Senate with statistics at this stage. We have ‘great and magnificent water power in Tasmania - more so than in any other State in the Commonwealth. We have natural energy to the extent of millions of horse power in our water power going to waste. I am not without hope of seeing some of the mainland manufacturers establishing their industries in the island.
– Tasmania may become the England of the southern hemisphere.
– I hope she will. In regard to the iron industry we stand in an unique position in Tasmania. Coghlan estimates the value of the manufactured iron imported into the Commonwealth at £5,306,729 per annum. I understand that the quantity of pig-iron in manufactured iron to that value is 380,000 tons. On an average of 2 tons of iron ore to 1 ton of pig-iron that would mean that 1 60,000 tons of ore would be required if we had an iron industry established within the Commonwealth supplying all Australia’s requirements. Each ton of pigiron also requires three tons of coal. That would mean that 1,140,000 tons of coal would be required more than is now produced. These figures have a peculiar interest to me, as one who has been all his life practically mixed up with mining, and who is a representative of the State which possesses the richest iron mine in Australia. At the Blythe iron mine the ore is said to be superior to most of the iron ores of the world. As a matter of fact, I believe it carries 66 per cent, of pure iron, as against from 66 to 68 per cent, which is the quantity of pure iron carried by the ore in Swedish mines, which are said to be the richest in the world. An estimate of the quantity of iron in Tasmania made by one of the most careful geologists and public servants we have ever had in Australia, Mr. Montgomery, the Tasmanian Government Geologist, is that there are deposits of 30,000,000 tons of ore disclosed in the outcrop.
– Why do not the owners work it ?
– I think the honorable and learned senator will acknowledge that no iron industry was ever established in any country without a measure of protection. It is admitted, even by extreme free-traders, that some measure of protection must be granted before an iron industry can be established. Unless some support be given to it we certainly cannot have an iron industry in Australia. We not only have the iron ore, but also the coal and all the necessary fluxes to provide all the iron that is required for all the manufactures which I hope will be established in Australia. I do not intend to detain the Senate any longer. I have a vast number of statistics prepared, but I intend to have mercy on honorable senators who have sat here for the last fortnight and listened so patiently to the quantities of figures which have been showered upon them. Although I say this, I do not wish to speak sarcastic ally as to the debate which has taken place. I have never enjoyed a week in my life more than I have enjoyed the time I have listened - as I have done with the greatest amount of interest - to the arguments and statistics that have been adduced from both sides of the Chamber. But at this stage it is not necessary to repeat any of those facts, in order to prove that either free-trade or protection would be the better policy for Aus tralia. What Australia now wants is a settlement of this Tariff. The people of Australia do not care so much what the Tariff is as to know what it is going to be, and they want to know that as soon as they possibly can. Therefore, I shall now conclude by saying that I support the second reading of the Bill, and hope that very little time will elapse before it leaves the Senate, and is passed into law.
– I wish to say a few words in support of the protectionist doctrine. I shall not speak at any great length, but I desire to say that I am a protectionist, because I do not see how Australian working men can hope to compete with the cheap labour-not only the coloured labour, but also the cheap white labour - of’ other countries without a considerable amount of protection. I am not one of those who would for a moment claim that protection is a panacea for all the ills that flesh is heir to. A man can build a most beautiful house to protect himself and his family against the cold and the rude’ blasts of wintry weather, but all may be dissension within. We may have a high Tariff; we may succeed in keeping in circulation in our own country many millions of money, and at the same time that wealth may be so unevenly distributed that there may be the greatest poverty amongst the working classes. But I submit that, by means of a protectionist Tariff against the cheap labour employed by the manufacturers of the world, we do at least secure an opportunity of putting into force our labour legislation. We have an opportunity of passing legislation, such as minimum wage laws, factories Acts, the application of the eight hours principle where practicable, and so on, at present, and I do not see how we could possibly hope to do so if we allowed our country to be flooded with cheap manufactures from other countries. How could a labour organization approach a manufacturer, asking for its members to be paid such a rate of wages as is authorized to be paid by the wages boards of Victoria, and expect that manufacturer to compete with the labour paid at the rates which have been mentioned by Senator Glassey, particularly in the case of Japan?
– And even in that of England.
– I do not want to quote England, because figures with regard to that country have been quoted so repeatedly, but I think a more telling case is made out in our favour when we refer to Japan and China, and when we refer to India, where there are millions of people only too glad to get work at wages lower than1s. per day.
– Then India should lead in manufactures.
– I take the stand that when we exclude the cheap labour of Japan, India, and China from our shores, we are illogical if we are willing to allow the cheap manufactures of those countries to come in here free, or at a low rate of duty. Senator Pearce suggests that if what we claim is correct, and there is so much cheap labour in India,’ that country ought to be leading in the manufactures of the world. But the honorable senator must not forget that there has been a very great change in the system of industry during the last few years. There has been very great advance in the invention of labour-saving machinery.
– Where? In the highwage countries ?
– I take it that the greatest number of inventions, and the most successful inventions, have come from America, the great protectionist country. But these labour-saving inventions in machinery and the modern method of industry have only of late years been availed of by capitalists in cheap labour countries for the purpose of competing with manufacturers in white labour countries. It is only during the past seven years that a factory has been established in Japan by an American.
– Factories were established there 25 years ago.
– It is only within the last seven years that there have been factories of any magnitude in Japan.
– I make the contrary assertion, and it is as good as the honorable senator’s.
– I, should like to draw the attention of Senator Pearce to an extract from a bulletin issued by the Department of Labour in “Washington, in the United States. The gentleman writing spent several months in Japan investigating what he calls - “The industrial revolution,” and speaking of the establishment of a watch company in Japan, he says -
The first genuineforeign factory to be established in Japan is the Osaka Tokei Seizo Kubushiki Kwaisfia, familiarly known as the American Watch Company. It was started on 1st January, 1895, and turned out its first finished watch on 10th April. The organizer and promoter of this company was Mr. A. H. Butler, of San Diego, California, who took an outfit of watch-making machinery to Japan and induceda number of jewellers and watch-dealers in Osaka to furnish160,000 dollars capital to pay the cost of a building and the running expenses of the business. The company is incorporated under Japanese law, and the stock is all in the names of Japanese citizens, although 140 of the 300 shares actually belong to Mr. Butler and his associates.
As no foreigner is allowed to engage in manufacturing outside of certain limited districts in the treaty ports of Japan until the new treaties go into effect in 1899 -
By the way, this gentleman was writing in 1896- it was necessary for Mr. Butler to evade the law, which he did with the knowledge and consent of the authorities, by having his stock issued in the name of Japanese trustees who assigned to him the certificates in blank, and gave him a written agreement to protect his interests. At the end of four years, Mr. Butler will have the stock registered in his own name and become an officer of the company.
Japanese architecture is not suitable to factory work that requires a great deal of light and protection from wind and weather, and, therefore,it was necessary to erect a new building of brick, upon the American plan, 240 by 40ft. in size, with an abundance of windows.
Inthemeantime, the machinery was set up in temporary quarters, and a number of men and boys, who had already been engaged in repairing andmanufacturing hand-made watches and clocks, were assembled to be educated by P. H. Wheeler, the superintendent, and his assistants. Mr. Wheeler had worked in Elgin, Rockford, and Springfield, Illinois, and in Columbus, Ohio. He brought with him from America nine experts, who, like himself, had contracts for three years and an option of renewal for three years longer at the end of the first term. They are as follow : - From Elgin, F. M. Clark and William
Keene; from Rockford, T. Schnarke; from Springfield, L. Sylvester, E. V. Goodman, and Charles Gassier ; from Columbus, H. Barbier, S. P. Finch, and George Flick.
These gentlemen say that their Japanese students show very great aptitude and skill, and that they learn much more rapidly and have a much more delicate touch than persons of similar intelligence and condition in the United States. Nearly all of them had some experience in making or repairing watches and clocks before they came into the factory, and a few hud used hand machines for drilling, polishing, and that sort of work ; but the modern machinery at which they were placed was entirely new to them. They are mostly young men, aged from IS to 30: As none of them can understand u word of English, and none of the American experts could speak Japanese when they arrived, the work of instruction might have been very slow but for the keen perception of the pupils.
It is difficult to explain a proposition to the Japanese, but their power of imitation is so well developed that the easiest way to teach them is to go through the process yourself, and let them watch you. Almost instantly they are able to repeat it, and will continue to do so until the end of their days without the slightest variation. Another difficulty in this school of instruction was the absence of words iu Japanese to describe the machinery and the parts of the watch, but the English terms were adopted and are now exclusively used.
The highest wages paid to the skilled native workmen in the factory ure only 40 sen. a clay, which is equivalent to 20 cents, or J.Od. in our money. The lowest wages are 10 sen. (Scents, or 2Ad.) a day, while in American factories the same labour would be paid from 50 cents (2s. Id.) to o dollars (fi ls.) a day. The capacity of the factory when fully in operation will be 150 watches a clay, and owing to the low price of labour they can Lie sold with a profit for BO per cent, less than the market price in the United States and Europe.
– Now what has been the results of that 1
– Yes. Where are the Japanese watches ?
– This shows that it is only within the past few years that capitalists have turned their attention to these cheap labour countries. It is only about 40 years ago since the ports of Japan were forced open to trade, and it is within only the past decade that capitalists have turned their attention to these countries.
– Will these Japanesemade watches be able to compete against the protected Swiss watches 1 If they will, what is, the use of protect: on to the Swiss manufacturer t
– The protected Swiss watches have beaten the unprotected watches of England.
– It is possible that in tho very near future the Swiss people may find it necessary to keep out the cheaply manufactured Japanese watches. I say it is only within the last ten years that capitalists have been turning their attention to these cheap labour countries with the object of establishing factories there, that they may be able to take advantage of the cheap labour. When Senator Glassey was speaking, an honorable senator asked where the goods manufactured in these countries went to, and in what way the Japanese compete with us. I have seen that some people are stating that we have no reason to fear competition with Japan ; but within the last ten years Japan has commenced to send into Queensland, the State from which I come, the following articles : clothing of various kinds, arrowroot, biscuits, blankets, boots and shoes and slippers, brushware, cotton goods, drapery, furniture, beans, peas and rice, buttons, braids, tapes, pins, china and porcelain ware, clocks and fancy goods, glassware, ironmongery, hats, caps, bonnets, &c. Though some honorable senators havesaid that we have no reason to fear Japanese competition, I can give them the value of the imports of Japanese goods into Australasia for the years 1881 and 1899, the only years for which I could get the figures. In 1S81, the value of imports from Japan amounted to £23,245, but in 1899 it had run up to £271,297, an increase of 400 per cent.
– What was it compared to the total imports ? - not 5 per cent, of the total trade.
– There is at fill events an increase of 400 per cent., and the increase of late years has been very large. It must be remembered that it is only within the last five years that a line of Japanese steam-ships has been trading between Queensland and the other States of Australia and J apan. -I remember when the first Japanese steam-ship came to the port of Brisbane, and at a great dinner on board the steamer some of our friends, who I think ought to have known better, were wishing great success to the company in their work of bringing here the cheaply-produced goods of Japan, to compete with those produced by Queensland working men. How can we expect men earning a trade-union rate of wages for a week of 48 hours to compete with men working at wages which run down to lower than 3d. per day of twelve hours?
– How is it that there are more trade union members in Great Britain than in any other country of the world?
– Great Britain, of course, has a great deal to be proud of in that respect.
– And a great deal to be ashamed of as well.
– She has a great deal to be proud of in that connexion ; but if the honorable senator mentions that in favour of Great Britain, may I ask him how many millions of working men there are in the old country who cannot get a vote because the conservative free-traders who run that country will not give them a vote ?
– Why, the conservatives are all protectionists.
– There are conservatives who are protectionists ; but I will ask whether the honorable and learned senator is not a conservative ?
– I am just as good a liberal as the honorable senator.
– If any measures of working class legislation which the majority of the working classes, in their various political organizations, have decided would be to theiradvantage, were brought into a legislative chamber of which the honorable and learned senator was a member, would he vote for them? Would the honorable and learned senator vote for a minimum wage law? Would he not say - “This is an interference with trade, and with the individualistic theory I believe in, and I shall not vote for it ? “ Would he vote for an eight hours law wherever practicable - a plank which is to be found in the platform of every labour organization throughout the country ?
– Are there not protectionists who would act in the same way?
– Certainly; and let it be borne in mind that if both free-trade and protectionist Members of Parliament in the past had been at all liberal in their views, the labour party, which now takes its place in politics, would not be here. The labour party is now taking a part in politics because free-traders and protectionists, in the past, seem to have had the same objection to that social legislation to which, from their advance in industry, the working classes are entitled.
– It all depends upon what the honorable senator means by “ liberal.”
– When I say liberal legislation, I mean that legislation which the various working classes in their organizations have unanimously decided they are entitled to, and which will benefit them and the whole community.
– I call that very illiberal.
– The honorable and learned senator may call it illiberal, but he is a free-lance in politics, and he told us the other evening that he could advance as many telling propositions on the side of protection as on the side of free-trade if he were paid for it. With all his ability as a legislator, and he has great ability and is very eloquent, I really cannot take the honorable and learned senator seriously.
– He has ability, but not stability.
– We will not be too hard upon the honorable and learned senator, but he looks upon Parliament as a place in which honorable senators may indulge in a little recreation. We do not look upon Parliament as an institution of that kind. For the life of me, I cannot see how we can hope to get what we require, or how we can. ask employers to give us shorter hours and higher wages, if” we allow the products of cheap-labour countries to come in at a low rate of duty, or to be admitted free. Honorable senators who, like Senators Clemons and Harney, profess themselves willing to vote for revenue duties, thereby abandon their free-trade principles. Senator Pearce is the only free-trader now in the Senate. He declares that he would raise revenue solely by direct taxation - by land and income taxation - though, to my mind, that is beyond the scope of practical politics. Those who support a revenue Tariff wish to draw revenue from the general consumers without giving them the advantage which the protectionists would give them by protecting their industries. If reductions are made in the duties upon boots, hats, and other manufactured articles, the effect will be to throw a large number of operatives out of employment. What do honorable senators who call themselves free-traders propose to do with such operatives?
– Would a reduction of the duty upon boots throw any persons in New
South Wales out of employment? The hoot industry was established there under freetrade.
– If the duty upon boots is reduced, the effect will certainly be to throw a number of operatives out of employment. The so-called free-trade members of the Senate tell us that by reducing duties we increase the revenue ; but the revenue can be increased only by increasing importations, and if importations are increased there must be a decrease in the consumption of locally-manufactured goods and less work for our own people to do, so that a number of them will be thrown out of employment. Do honorable senators think that they can find work in the mining industry, for example, for those who are thus deprived of occupation? Are there not already more miners than can find work ?
– A motion was passed at Broken Hill, under the auspices of the labour bodies there, with Mr. Jabez Wright at the head of them, denouncing the. Commonwealth Tariff, and declaring that the duties it contains mean an imposition of £30,000 a year upon the mining industry, and will result in the closing of many of the mines.
– No doubt certain classes of labourers would be ready to pass motions of that character, but such action is very one-sided. I can quite believe that the public servants of New South Wales might say - “We have permanent situations, with fixed incomes, which are not likely to he retrenched. Under free-trade we can live for 5s. or 10s. a week less than under protection, and therefore we shall vote for free-trade.”
– Is that the explanation of the action of the Broken Hill miners ?
– If the miners of Broken Hill passed such a motion as that to which the honorable senator has referred, they do not comprehend what their action may lead to.
– I know many miners who are protectionists.
– If it were possible for the miners of Broken Hill to establish free-trade throughout the Commonwealth, the result might be that their wages might be reduced by one-half, because the removal of duties would throw a great many operatives in various trades out of work, and the mining companies would be only too willing to take advantage of the overstocked condition of the labour market to reduce . wages. Senator Millen has referred to the boot operatives of New South Wales, but, during a conference of persons connected with the boot trade, held in Melbourne quite recently, Mr. Ould, the president of the New South Wales union, is reported to have said -
The conditions of labour in the boot trade were being gradually improved in that State. The union was making good headway, and had now over 600 members on the books.
Mr. Mugglestone president of the New South Wales Clickers’ Union, said that -
The men of the trade in that State had worked under sweating conditions of the worst character, wages at the rate of £1 and fi 5s. per week being common ; but since the formation of the organization, six months ago, matters had improved.
The boot trade operatives are protectionists, because they know that they cannot compete with the productions of Japanese labour. Since some honorable senators have claimed that most of the coastal workers of Western Australia aTe free-traders, I ask them to explain why Mr. J. Curran, the secretary to the Western Australian union, speaking at the same conference, said that he - could not understand the attitude of some of the free-trade labour members to the trade. He urged the men in the trade to join the unions.now that federation of their efforts and interests was on the eve of being accomplished, and expressed the opinion that federation would, by enabling them to speak as one voice, be a turning point for good.
Sweating exists in all the States at the present time. Honorable senators have referred to the fact that certain manufacturers, who wish to have protection for their industries, are seeking to obtain free-trade in regard to labour; but such conduct is quite common in our social system. We find selfishness wherever we go. Quite recently the Fruit-growers’ and Vignerons’ Association of Victoria passed a resolution condemning the action of the honorable and learned member for Indi in voting for a duty upon timber, notwithstanding the fact that they receive a great deal of protection from the Commonwealth Tariff. But, because the manufacturers of South Australia ask candidates if they are in favour of abolishing the Factories Acts and doing away with wages boards, we must not be influenced to vote for revenue duties and against protective duties. I believe that the majority of the manufacturers of Australia are willing to pay fair wages to their workers for a fairday’s work. There are, however, a small minority who are either incompetent or extraordinarily selfish. They want to get rapidly rich, and they do not care who sinks so long as they swim.
– They adopt the honorable senator’s argument that cheap wages mean cheap production.
– Low wages and uptodate machinery mean cheap production. There is a small minority of manufacturers who are anxious to obtain protection for their industries, but who do not care what happens to other industries. They say - “After us, the deluge.” But we should take a broader view, and study the interests of the whole people. Trusts have been spoken of by some senators as peculiar to protectionist countries. Although we read of trusts far back in history, the modern trust sprang up in the United States, and the great example of such a combination is the Standard Oil Trust. But trusts are the outcome of our present industrial conditions. They are the result of competition, and in many cases have been created to put an end to ruinous competition. What is the shipping combine which is now being formed but an attempt to do away with cut-throat competition between a number of shipping companies ? Trusts are not confined to the United States ; they exist also in England. We find a tobacco trust there.
– Is it not very much easier for the manufacturers of one country to combine, than to bring about a combination of the manufacturers of the world ?
– Yes ; but it is also more easy to deal by legislation with the manufacturers of one country than to deal with persons outside. Trusts are merely the development of the company system, and companies are the result of competition. A man who goes into the grocery or drapery trade soon finds that he has to meet such competition that he is forced to associate himself with others, and thus is formed a company to supply, not only groceries or drapery, but also ironmongery, boots, and shoes, and, perhaps, even drugs and almost all the requirements of modern society. In this way we get establishments like that of Anthony Hordern and Sons, in Sydney, where one can buy almost everthing one requires, from tea and scones up to the largest machinery. So, if honorable senators go to the stores of Senator Sargood or Foy and Gibson, I venture to say that they can get almost any commodity they may require. These companies are the outcome of the competition between individuals in the supply of goods to the general body of the community, and it will not be very long, I venture to say, before they will find it necessary to combine amongst themselves in a trust.
– How can they if other countries can send in things free?
– The honorable and learned senator does not see that if we threw open our ports to the products of other countries we, as a community, should be involved in almost universal ruin, and should have to be mere hewers of wood and drawers of water, producers of wool and gold, and other primary products. We should all have to compete in a few primary industries.
– My interjection was meant to suggest that open ports would prevent the high prices of the combinations the honorable senator speaks of.
– I venture to think that open ports would not prevent combines. I have mentioned the case of the combines in the old country as showing that open ports there do not prevent the formation of a trust. Honorable senators have looked right over the water for a trust or combine ; but here in Australia we have a large trust in the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, that divides each half-year £80,000 amongst its shareholders, and that decides the price which it shall pay the sugar-growers for the production of their cane. In Queensland the sugargrowers must either sell their cane to this company for 9s. or 10s. per ton, or allow it to rot on the fields. That is a trust to all intents and purposes, and there is no doubt that it will grow under the Federation. The labour party in the State Parliament have a proposal - and it is the only one which I think will be effective in clipping the claws of the combine - that the State should establish State sugar refineries. That, I venture to say, will be far preferable to throwing open the ports of Australia to the introduction of free sugar from other countries. Have we not in Australia a combine of wheat buyers, the persons who bought up the wheat of the farmers of Queensland some time ago, and who are now reaping a very great benefit ?
– Yes, under the protection afforded by this Tariff.
– The honorable senator knows very well that it would not be of much advantage to the wheat-grower to have wheat coming in free ‘from other places. It would not increase the price of his wheat. The same rings existed under free-trade almost wherever one went. They seem to be very powerful, and I see no way of coping with them other than by interference through the State Parliament. That ‘State interference will not be supported by those who hold a fiscal faith, and it will be left to a party such as our own to propose and carry legislation of that kind, if ever it is carried. I do not care to quote a number of figures, because I believe that the Senate has had nearly enough of them. During ‘ the debate, honorable senators have compared New South Wales with “Victoria, to the disadvantage of the latter. I lived in New South Wales for some years; I have lived for only twelve months in Victoria, and that residence, I may say, has been compulsory. From what I have seen, I believe that the people of New South Wales are not as well off, generally speaking, as are the people of Victoria, and I arrive .at that conclusion by taking statistics concerning life assurance, friendly society membership, inmates of charitable institutions, offences brought before magistrates on arrest or summons, number of insolvencies, the number of persons paying income tax, the number and value of estates left by persons dying, and the number of depositors and amount of deposits in the savings banks. I think honorable senators will admit that statistics under these headings give a very fair idea of the social life of the people in a given place. In 1899 in New South Wales there were 149,639 life assurance policies, which was equal to 11 per 100 of the population, assuring for the sum of £27,162,278, or an average of £181-5 per policy. In Victoria, on the other hand, there were 156,411 life assurance policies, which was equal to 13-5 per 100 of the population, assuring the sum of £26,536,403, or an average of £169-7 per policy. It will be seen that a smaller number of persons were assured in New South Wales for a larger sum of money, showing, to my mind, that there was a better distribution of wealth in Victoria. Coming to the friendly society membership, the figures I have been able to obtain from Coghlan are only up to 1898. In Victoria there were 1,088 branches with 88,726 members, and with funds amounting to £1,173,960, or an average of £13 4s. 8d. per member. In New South Wales there were 774 branches, with 70,287 members, and with funds amounting to £612,104, or an average of £8 lis. 2d. per member. That, of course, is exclusive of trades unions and those bodies which undertake to furnish unemployed allowances and so forth. With a smaller population Victoria had 18,439 more members of friendly societies than had New South Wales.
– They clung together in their distress.
– It is one of the best evidences of the thrift of the people.
– It is a good sign. The members of the friendly societies are amongst the most intelligent, capable, and desirable citizens in the community. The honorable and learned senator must admit that.
– I do.
– Senator Styles reminded Senator Millen of the criminal statistics; but the latter did not tell the Senate that in 1900 there were 2,238 offences against the person in Victoria, as against 4,115 in New South Wales ; 3,540 offences against property in Victoria, as against 5,711 in New South Wales; 15,878. offences of drunkenness in Victoria, as against 21,003 in New South Wales; 30,192 other offences in Victoria, as against 25,761 in New South Wales; or a total of 51,848 offences in Victoria, as against 56,590 in New South Wales. On the 31st December, 1,168 persons were in gaol in Victoria, as against 1,897 in New South Wales.
– What has this to do with the question 1
– I submit that a very great deal of the crime in both States was due to the poverty-stricken condition of the offenders, and when we can show that a greater number of offences were committed in New South Wales than in Victoria, undoubtedly it must go to prove that there was a better distribution of wealth in Victoria. Senator Dobson, as a business man, will recognise that one may gauge the comparative condition of prosperity in a country by the number of insolvencies.
– And there are more financially embarrassed boot manufacturers in Melbourne than in Sydney.
– That is very amusing, coming from Senator Dobson, who, judging from his speech, is a kind of protectionist free-trader. His assertion is very like a number of assertions which have been made in the Chamber. Senator Matheson, for example, said that every person, as well as every newspaper, in the Commonwealth is against the Tariff. The honorable senator of course is against the Tariff, and, possessing a vivid imagination, he imagines that every one else must be against it, although in his speech he ventured to point out that there are several thousands of protectionists banded together to try to place extra burdens on the community. As showing that what Senator Dobson states cannot be correct, we find that in 1900 there were in Victoria 30 compulsory and 314 voluntary insolvencies, with liabilities amounting to £183,531 for the 344 insolvents ; whereas in New South Wales there were 122 compulsory and 518 voluntary insolvencies, with liabilities amounting to £743,887 for the 640 insolvents. There were nearly twice as many insolvencies, and with four times the total liabilities, in New South Wales as there were in Victoria.
– Let the honorable senator ask the leather merchants which bootmakers they would rather sell to.
– What better criterion of the truth of his statement can Senator Dobson find than the number of insolvencies in the two States 1
– It is a fair criterion, but any comparisons between the two States do not help us at all.
– Let us compare the returns of the inmates of charitable institutions. In. Victoria, in 1899, there were 4,848’ inmates in the charitable institutions, as compared with 6,640 in New South Wales. I am sorry that I have not been able to ascertain the number of income taxpayers in New South Wales for the year 1901. I propose to. quote the figures for that State for 1900, in comparison with those of Victoria for 1901. The comparison is not a fair one, and I venture to say that if we could obtain the statistics for New South Wales for 1901 we should find as great a discrepancy between the two States as I shall show by the figures I am about to quote. In Victoria, in 1901, there were 32,932 distinct income taxpayers with a total net income of £12,257,700, less exemptions £5,199,600, leaving a taxable net income of £7,058,100. In New South Wales,- in 1900, there were 21,301 distinct taxpayers with £12,691,300 net income, less exemptions £4,100,000, leaving a taxable net income of £8,591,300. There was a £200 exemption in each State. If the proportion is about the same for the year 1901, we shall find that there are in Victoria, 11,631 more persons able to pay income tax than in New South Wales, although the taxable net income of the 32,932 distinct taxpayers in Victoria was £1,500,000 less than that of the 21,301 distinct taxpayers in New South Wales. It must be remembered also that there are 150,000 more people in New South Wales than in Victoria. This shows a more equal distribution of wealth in Victoria than in New South Wales. It will be admitted that the returns relating to probates and letters of administration afford a very fair criterion as to the prosperity of a community. We find that, whereas in Victoria in 1900, 3,961 persons died, leaving estates of the sworn value of £6,918,533, the returns for New South Wales show that 2,452 persons died leaving estates of a sworn value of £4,731,032. This proves that in Victoria a greater number of people are able to leave estates behind them. I do not mean for one moment to say that the wealth in Victoria is distributed in the way that it ought to be. I believe that there are many employers in that State who receive large incomes and who could well afford to give their employes a better rate of pay. This applies right through the whole range of industry. The position, however, is worse in New South Wales. Senator De Largie mentioned the savings bank returns in the old country as affording a very good criterion of the amounts which the working classes are able to save. I now propose to give the figures relating to savings bank deposits in the States of New South Wales and Victoria.
– We have had that over, and over again.
– The honorable senator refers to the total amount of the. savings in the banks. I do not think that the number of depositors has yet been mentioned.
– I mentioned them.
– Then I need not repeat them. It is sufficient to say that in 1900 there were no less than 11,631 depositors in the public savings banks of “Victoria in excess
Of those in New South Wales, although the population of the latter State is much the larger. 1 do not intend to take up much more .time. I hope that honorable senators will keep in view the text of the speech of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, namely, that the various States entered this federation because they believed that consideration would be shown to the industries which had sprung up under the various Tariffs. I know that when I was advocating the cause of federation in Queensland, and also when I was afterwards a candidate for federal honours, I said I believed in federation, because it would enable us to bring about Inter-State free-trade, with protection against the outside world. Nearly every free-trader said the same thing, and that view was freely expressed in Queensland, and was never challenged or denied. I do not remember any free-trader saying anything further than that he hailed the advent of Inter-State, free-trade as a triumph of the free-trade cause. No candidate ever told the electors in Queensland that he would do his level best to so reduce the duties on boots, shoes, and hats, and other articles that they would bring in more revenue, owing to the greater volume of importation, even though this might involve the destruction of colonial industry and loss of’ work for Australian operatives. I hope honorable senators who are opposing this Tariff will not endeavour to reduce the items merely because they think that the Senate should exercise its authority. As a protectionist, I should be prepared, if other honorable senators were similarly inclined, to accept the Tariff now before us as a fair compromise. Honorable members in another place have spent six or seven months in trying to frame it on just and equitable lines, I and it is not for us, because we think we i have a majority of one or two, to make reductions, and thus take an unfair advantage. I think the public will have reason to complain if the settlement of this Tariff question is delayed, much longer. I do not for a moment think that the Tariff, as passed in the first session of the Federal Parliament, will prove acceptable to the people of Australia for all time. At some j period or other there will be a revision, j Perhaps- it would have been better if a j whole session had been given to the con- isideration of this Tariff, or if it had been delayed until after the first session of this ‘
Parliament. Since, however, it has been brought forward under pressure, and since the present state of suspense is seriously hampering trade and commerce, and affecting the working classes directly and indirectly, the Senate should endeavour to interfere as little as possible with the work of the other Chamber. The Senate will not subject itself to any reproach, but, on the other hand, the public will be grateful to us if we allow the Tariff to pass with as little alteration as possible.
– I had made up my mind not to say a word in this debate, because there must be some sort of finality in matters of this sort. Moreover, if we continue to keep the whole commercial system of the States in suspense, as at the present time, on account of some finely-drawn questions whether this duty is a little too much or that duty is not quite low enough, we shall be guilty of gross dereliction of duty. There is an old saying, that it is better that the administration of justice should be rapid than that it should be altogether just Life is too short to allow of our seeking absolutely attributive justice; we can only do our best with the limited facilities and the limited time we have in this world to do anything. In view of all this, I intend to support the Tariff just as it stands. There are some items which I think might be altered, but every alteration will involve delay. The trade of our great Commonwealth is paralysed by the uncertainty as to what is going to be done, and the mischief is being accentuated from day to day. It is not for us to set up some fads or opinions of our own to continue this paralysis, when by waiving a few points here and there, we can make the way smooth and pleasant. If it should afterwards transpire that some injustices have been done, we may depend upon it that there are gentlemen in. both Chambers who will take very good care that the means which exist for remedying them are availed of. During this debate, the advocates of free-trade and protection have as usual run riot. We have heard arguments of the most inconsistent character, and figures have been quoted which not only contradict each other but contradict themselves. Statistics have been got together, heaven knows how and where, and party statistics have been gathered together from sources which suited the men who used them, but which statistics we have no means of verifying. All manner of means have been resorted to for complicating the whole question, and if we had known nothing about the subject, and had attempted to work out our conclusions from the figures quoted in this House, we should have been in a state of absolute chaos. I quite agree with honorable members who say - “Bother the figures,” and who urge that we should look round us and see what has occurred. I have read the speech delivered by my honorable friend, Senator Playford, and I had the pleasure of listening to the exceedingly sensible speech which was made by Senator Keating last evening. I also heard a very valuable statistical oration by Senator Pulsford, but whilst I agree with the figures which he quoted, I deduce from them exactly opposite results. He told us what a poor plaything England was under protection, and how after 1846 she rose to a superior position, whilst all the industries which tended to the accumulation of personalty were promoted, and rapidly increased. He spoke of the proud position which England occupied 40 years afterwards, in that whilst the value of personal property was immensely larger, the value of land had declined enormously. Is that a benefit t I say it is a curse to any .community. There has never been a community established in this world which did not have a strong love of home, and that love attaches to the land - to the soil. Make it impossible to hold the soil, make the community a wandering one, either by reason of persecution or from any other cause, and we at once bring about, as in the case of a race whom we all admire, but who have been very much disturbed from time to time - I mean the Jews - a most undesirable state of things, Constant persecution makes them vicarious in their habits ; they, therefore, get their property together only in such a form that, when the inevitable day which threatens them comes, they can run away as quickly as possible. Such a state of affairs does not conduce to a healthy home life, or to any of the higher influences which bring people well together. Thus, instead of becoming a well-settled, well-ordered community, loving the soil upon which they live, they develop into a lot of money-lenders, with a large amount of cash with which they can cut away whenever danger is imminent. That is the proud boast of Senator Pulsford, and I say that, whilst I am obliged to him for his figures, they have induced me to come to an exactly opposite conclusion from that at which he has arrived. I do not know that there is any object to be served by occupying much time in discussing the question of free-trade versus protection. It has been thrashed out so thoroughly all over the world that he who runs may read. Now we see it practically abandoned by the only country in the world which ever consistently sup- , ported it, and which never would have supported it had it not suited her purposes at the moment. Why did England adopt a free-trade policy ? Because she had a remarkably virile population, and special facilities in the shape of her deposits of coal and iron for doing the work that she was doing. She had not only the people, but the necessary material and the tools of trade. Accordingly she said - “ Throw all your stuff in, and we will send it out 90 per cent, better than when you threw it in.” That was a verysensible sentiment, and very good business. But as time went on, other nations found out the trick. It could not be practised interminably by Great Britain alone. England established her industries under protection. She began with all the advantages which New South Wales now possesses. But she did not adopt free-trade till her industries were established. When she had matters all her own way, then came the great Cobden wave, under the guise of an unselfish doctrine, which said in effect - “ Let us study ourselves.” The Cobden agitation was a business one, and not a moral one. When Great Britain had everything complete, when all her machinery was ready, she said to the outside world - “Now, come one, come all; this is a free-trade country - make your ports free to us.” The other nations did so for a while until they discovered the trick which was being practised upon them. At the time, Germany was doing practically nothing in the way of manufactures. Bismarck said that he was distressed to find the decadent position of everything, and that nothing could save Germany except heavy protective duties, which would stimulate the people into doing for -themselves instead of being dependent -upon others. His policy was carried, with the result that, when I was at Home in 1887, most bitter complaints were being made about the way in which English people were being undersold by Germans, not in Germany, but in their own market. They were asking very freely when something would be done to protect them. I remember having a conversation with LordKnutsford in reference to this very question. At that time he was the Secretary of State for the Colonies. I expressed views similar to those which I am now advancing, and he replied - “I agree with you, but it would give many of my colleagues a nasty pain in the stomach if they heard your sentiments.” But they have to get over that pain, as is evidenced by the fact that in England to-day they are actually reviving the corn laws. What do my freetrade friends think of that? Germany undoubtedly became great and prosperous through adopting Bismarck’s policy. America became great because she adopted a similar system. So also did France. Every country in the world follows a protective policy with the exception of Great Britain and New South Wales. Now, ifthere is one country in the world which ought to have been protectionist, it is New South Wales. Why ? For identically the same reasons that prompted England to adopt protection. If New South Wales had possessed people of the same virility as those of England, she might have reaped some of the benefits which the former derived. But she has simply spent her time in quarrelling with Victoria, which, to a very large extent, was living upon her, and which did not say much in return. What is the condition of these States ? New South Wales is undoubtedly at the present time the greatest State, the richest in every way, possessing as she does almost endless resources. At any rate, her resources are absolutely superior to those of any other State. Victoria is the garden of Australia, with a small territory. She was inundated through accidental circumstances, such as gold discoveries, &c., with a greater population than she was able to maintain when the excitement had abated. Of Queensland we do not know much. It may be that some day the northern State will be the greatest of the group. That, however, is a matter which time only can reveal. South Australia is a big sterile country, with a small area of remarkably good territory, whilst the remainder is valueless. What sort of people do we expect these States to produce? What class comes from Italy, which is the easiest country in the world to live in? What do we find in Scotland, which has produced the greatest men in the world? From the very sterility of their climate, the people there are put upon their mettle, and so become great. In South Australia we have experienced very hard times, which we have fought as best we could, and we leave our character in the hands ofhonorable senators. My proposition is that the great advantages which New South Wales possesses have been a curse rather than a blessing to her, and that she has not improved them as she should have done. Had she gone in for high protective duties, she would have attracted people from all the other States. She would have been filled with South Australians, Queenslanders, and Victorians - with men from all the more virile portions of the continent, who, in the end, would have become. New South Welshmen, and would have asserted themselves in the way that New South Welshmen ought to have done, instead of simply quarrelling with Victoria, without doing very much for themselves. It appears to me that Western Australia is, perhaps, the only State which might have some reason to regret the effect of the imposition of these duties. As Senator Keating pointed out, the very basis upon which we entered into Federation undoubtedly was that we should have free-trade amongst ourselves and protection against the world. Federation would not have been carried in any of the smaller States save upon that understanding. That was the basis upon which the Convention acted, and I appeal to those who were members of that body to say whether that was not the understanding upon which the Constitution was agreed to ? True, it was lamented by a few eccentrics, but it was accepted by strong free-traders, like Mr. G. H. Reid, and other gentlemen with equally strong free-trade proclivities. Then came the election, and then came the Ministerial programme, expounded in the speech of Mr. Barton which has been so much criticised. Nothing could have been clearer than the expressions used in that speech, and nothing could better have carried out those expressions than the Tariff which was originally brought down to Parliament. I say so advisedly. The Tariff was cut about in every way in the other House, as has been said. What the results will be is purely a matter of speculation. We have nothing material before us at present to show exactly how the figures will work out. We have heard how the leader of the Opposition in the other House thought, at one time, that the amount which would be realized by the Tariff would not be enough, whereas later on he said it would be ridiculously too much. We know how ingenious figure men, like Senator Pulsford, have been devoting their lives to prove that the whole Tariff scheme is utterly wrong - figures wrong, reasoning wrong, everything wrong ! We know also that, just as many men as there are of Senator Pulsford’s notions, just so many different opinions are there on the subject. One feels a little lost and incapable of entering into these figures in order to knowexactly how the Tariff will work out. But I think we shall all agree that it ought to work out well, and that there should be no doubt about it. We should take care that sufficient revenue is raised - that the first year of our Commonwealth shall not be accompanied with the disgrace of having insufficient revenue to meet our responsibilities. But I say honestly that, having listened to orread everything that has been said on the subject, in my opinion it is impossible to know exactly how the results will work out. It is possible that they will realize the original view of the leader of the Opposition in the other House rather than the view that is now entertained by him. How are my free-trade friends assisting the revenue of the country ? I call them free-traders, but they are really revenue tariffists ; or rather they are more distinctly not protectionists. What is the first principle of the revenue tariffist ? That tea should bear a duty. No revenue tariffist ever had any doubt about that. Tea was the one primal thing that they said should be taxed, because it could not be produced in the country. Of course, that is the free-trader’s principle. Once you know that you can produce a thing, do not protect it ; once you know that you cannot produce a thing, then tax it ! So tea was essentially a. subject for taxation. A duty on tea is easily collected ;it is a tax on an article generally consumedby thepeople; it isnotfelt. But what did my free-trade friends do about tea? There was a rally in the other place on the subject. They are true to something, I suppose, and I thought that if they were true to one thing more than another it would be to the fiscal principle which must exist amongst some of them, that tea was peculiarly a subject upon which taxation should belevied. But what was done?
The duty on tea was rejected by the votes of the free-traders in the other House.
– Not at all !
– The leader of the Opposition in the other House voted against it.
– He was only one ; Sir William McMillan voted for it.
– If Mr. Reid had voted for it, however, there would have been a tie.
– And if Mr. Higgins had voted for it there would have been a tie.
– Of course, there are certain people who hold certain views as to taxes on goods which are generally consumed, and I will not speak about that matter. But I believe that if Mr. Reid had voted for the duty on tea it would have beencarried, because I should not like to ridicule his influence so much as to suppose that he would not have carried over more than one vote.
– He was not there.
– At any rate, he was paired against the duty. Although his body was not there, his vote was there, and was cast against the duty.
– Does not the honorable and learned senator think that was creditable to him as a free-trader ?
– Our freetrade friends prove themselvesto be true to the principles of a revenue Tariff by upsetting the finances of the smaller States - and of the larger ones also to some extent - in rejecting a duty which their principles told them was one that it was peculiarly right to enforce. But when the Tariff comes to the Senate do we find any attempt on their part to re-impose the duty?
– We are not in charge of the Tariff.
– We are all in charge of the Tariff. There is not one of us who is not responsible. But not one of the free-traders has made the slightest suggestion that their party will try to re-impose the duty on tea.
– Have we heard the Government deploring that the duty has been taken off?
– Isay unhesitatingly that I would propose it if there were any chance of carrying it; but I do not want to propose it simply to have a month’s discussion without any prospect of success.
– It is impossible to carry such a motion.
– I do not expect any assistance on the subject from the party represented by the honorable senator, and it has only been mentioned by the free-trade party by way of a reflection on the Government for not having taken the trouble to get the duty passed, without their making any attempt to rehabilitate so important a duty. As far as the Tariff itself goes, I prefer it as it was originally introduced. As it stands, no doubt, it contains many anomalies ; but, at any rate, it is a well-considered Tariff which has been fought out, to a large extent, by persons holding entirely opposite views. If we once begin to go into the Tariff in detail, we shall be extending the paralysis of trade that now prevails, and simply for the sake of gratifying a whim or a fad here and there, causing immense inconvenience to the mercantile public of Australia. If I had any chance of getting the tea duty restored - even if it were only as a protest against the action of the House of Representatives - I should move to that effect ; but generally I intend to stand by the Tariff as brought up to the Senate, because I think more mischief will be done by further delay than can be caused by any small incidence in it about which we might disagree. Of our right to interfere, I have no doubt whatever. Of our right to suggest alterations,I have no doubt. We have a right to suggest new items or to suggest that duties be increased, decreased, or removed. That is a constitutional position which, I think, is absolutely clear, and I know, sir, that you will stand by it. I hope each and all of us will assist each other in standing by that position. But apart from the constitutional aspect, I intend to take the view - without sacrificing any right we have, or departing from any duty which we ought to discharge, but on the sole ground of expediency - that we ought to get this matter settled as soon as possible.
– In reply. - I think, Mr. President, that it will be admitted by every one who has listened to this debate that I shall not be expected to reply in detail to the great number of arguments that have been used, and the statistics that have been quoted in the course of it. The discussion has wandered over a vast field of inquiry. I do not know that anything has been said that has not had some bearing on the matter under discussion, and I think, considering the immense importance to Australia of the issues involved, that it is well that there should have been such a full debate. No one has cause to complain that in the settlement of this first Australian Tariff there has been any want of energy, or research, or inquiry on the part of the Parliament which has to determine the duties that are to be imposed. But, at the same time, sir, I freely admit that as regards the actual bearing of the issue which we have to decide, I do not think the matter has been affected very much by the statistics which have been adduced, and the facts which have been quoted, except that we may draw from them two conclusions which it seems to me stand out unanswerably. The first conclusion is this : that in this time of invention and of mental and commercial activity, so far in advance of anything that has taken place in the world before, the vast majority of civilized people have adopted the policy of protection. When that conclusion is put into figures the result should appeal strongly to honorable senators. We have to remember that the only countries that have adopted free-trade are Great Britain, with her population of, say, 40,000,000 ; Turkey, with a population of something under 5,000,000 ; and New South Wales, with a population of a little over 1,250,000 - that is, countries containing altogether about 45,000,000 of people ; whereas the people who have adopted protection, who are thriving and prosperous under protection, and who adhere to protection, number 360,000,000 of the civilized peoples of the globe. I say that is a fact which no amount of distinctions and qualifications and explanations can get rid of. It may be that all the wisdom of the world is centred in the 45,000,000, and all the blindness and stupidity in view of their own interests is in the 360,000,000 ; but I think that the experience of the world generally is that the 360, 000, 000 can be trusted to very well understand their own business.
– All minorities are wrong.
– I do not know that there is a stronger advocate for majority rule in this Chamber than my honorable friend, the democrat, par excellence, of this assembly. The honorable senator is so much in love with democracy that he went right back to Babylon, and even to ancient Egypt, to find democracy there. I say he is the last in the world who ought to advocate the rule of the minority here, and, if he applies the rule of the majority, we have an unanswerable argument against him. I think, also, we may deduce from the fact to which I have referred, this consideration - that there are a number of countries in the list of those who have adopted protection that are young countries, communities comparatively young, and communities which have adopted protection at a stage of development exactly similar to that in which we are in Australia at the present time. I think that when we are able to show that these countries have adopted protection, and are prospering, it is a very strong reason why a similar policy should be effective here. Those are the only facts. I intend to refer to, and they do seem to me to establish beyond all question that the principle which is embodied in the protectionist policy is a principle which has commended itself to the bulk of the civilized people of the world at the present time. And why ? Because it is above all things a principle of nationality. It is above all things a principle which seeks in the first place the benefit of its own people. We all remember that the doctrines of Cobden were based partly upon business grounds, but very largely upon the sentimental and rather illusory basis of “ the brotherhood of man.” But, as my honorable friend, Senator Downer, has pointed out, there was no “ brotherhood of man “ in the question. In reality it was a policy founded upon that consideration which ought to be the basis of all considerations of national policy, and that is the benefit of the people themselves. It was thought at the time that it was for the benefit of England, as it. Was, to introduce cheap food to the immense mass of operatives who were carrying on all the manufacturing business of Europe at that time. When in those particular circumstances it became necessary to adopt that policy, it was surrounded with all that glory of “the brotherhood of man,” which has formed the basis of innumerable perorations by free-trade orators, but which I venture to say has no solid foundation in actual fact. Even if it had, I say that as
Australians, framing here for the first time a policy for the Australian people, it is our bounden duty to look to Australia in the first instance, and it is our bounden duty to see that our own people are employed in making valuable our own resources. And that accomplished, if there is anything left over for “ the brotherhood of man,” by all means let “ the brotherhood of man “ have it. It is just as well that we should at once be frank about this matter. It is just as well that we should see that our policy is put upon a proper basis, and I say that there is no policy which, according to the experience of the world up to the present time, can insure to the sons and daughters of Australia the full benefit of the immense wealth of resources which we have in this continent except a policy which will secure our own markets for our own people. I do not intend to go into the details of this subject. They have been fully thrashed out ; but I do say that it must” appeal to any man who has looked at this matter from the point of view of history, and from the point of view of current events, that there is no nation which has adopted this national policy which has ever found reason to regret it. There are some matters of a quasi-personal character which have been introduced into this debate by my friend opposite, Senator Neild, and some other friends from New South Wales, and which I had rather had been left unsaid. At the same time, as they have been said, it appears to me that it is necessary for me to say something in reply. Now, I quite agree with my honorable and learned friend, Senator Symon, that consistency, as he says, is a much over-praised virtue.
– -No doubt of it.
– And, after all, when you wish to inquire into a man’s consistency, what is the object of it ? Surely it is to compare an utterance in the past with an utterance in the present, in order to find out whether he is sincere and earnest in what he is advocating.
-Col. Neild. - Hear, hear.
– I ask Senator Neild if that is so, and he admits it, what possible advantage is it, in discussing this Tariff, to tell us that the Prime Minister fifteen years ago made a speech in favour of free-trade? Surely the Prime Minister is. not one of those persons who never learn anything, who can never forget anything, and who is not capable of grasping new ideas ? If we were to adopt a view of that kind, we should be all stereotyped in the views which we held fifteen years ago. But what we have to inquire into is this : Whether a man in the views he is advocating before us is sincere, and has reasonable grounds for his belief. Any man may change his opinion and change it honestly. Some honorable senators also thought fit to remind the Senate that I was myself at one time a member of a free-trade association, or rather that I paid a subscription to such an association.
– That was done because the honorable and learned senator said that the whole of the members of the Cabinet had been protectionists all their lives. That was the point.
– I am coming to that in a moment. Senator Neild also thought it worth his while to say that I had myself been a member of a free-trade association. That is perfectly true, and I make the honorable senator a present of it. But I say that that was at a time before 1 had entered upon political life, and before I had given much thought to political questions, and before this question of free-trade or protection had become a living and active question in the politics of New South Wales.
– Before the sudden conversions took place.
– The honorable and learned senator talks about sudden conversions ; but before I entered public life, something like fifteen years ago, I had been a consistent protectionist. I have advocated protection upon every possible occasion. I was a member of the Ministry who introduced and carried the Dibbs Tariff.
– And it was repealed when the next election took place.
– It was repealed, and with disastrous consequences to New South Wales.
– Nonsense !
– I was, as I say, a member of the Cabinet who introduced and carried that Tariff, and in every public utterance of mine I have shown that I have been a strong and consistent adherent of the policy of protection. But, sir, I am not one of those persons who regard a fiscal policy as the be-all and end-all of national existence. I think there are many questions of infinitely greater importance in the circle of national activity than the question of the manner in which revenue is to be raised. I know there are some honorable senators who think otherwise. I would undertake to say that there are some of my friends here who are like my honorable friend Senator Pulsford, every fibre of whose being is saturated with fiscalism. I do not pretend to have that kind of enthusiasm for either protection . or free-trade. I look upon that question as one which may at times become of immense moment, when we are called upon to decide how revenue is to be raised. I think the question ‘is of great moment at the present time, and whenever I have found it of public moment in public affairs, I have never wavered in my adherence to a policy of protection. Senator Neild, in referring to a speech of mine during the elections, has dna up one of those stale election calumnies. I do not say for a moment that the honorable senator knew it was a calumny, or that he did anything else than take it from the party organ which first originated it. I have never, as the honorable senator told us, attempted to deny this calumny before. Why should II If I, or any other public man who is attacked in the party newspapers, were to set to work to deny every invention of the enemy that is circulated against him, we should have nothing else to do. I have never attempted to do it, and it was not necessary for me to do it in New South Wales, because my voice on every platform, night after night, in that State, showed unmistakably what my opinions were, and gave the lie to the leading article which was to appear the next morning. But as the matter has been referred to here, I think Senator Neild will admit that it is_ only fair that I should quote from that very speech to which two honorable senators have referred to show what I said then with regard to protection. In the first place, I used the expression, which those honorable senators have correctly quoted, in the beginning of my speech, and I said -
On the eve of the contest he thought it was well that they should look at what was the real issue of the election. Although they might be obliged to accept the wretched issue of fiscalism, which had been made the war cry of both parties in this election - it might be that force of circumstances might drive them to accept it - he made his protest, and, for reasons which he would make plain to them, he could show why the putting forward of that issue at this time was a false, unreal, and unsubstantial thing, and something done merely for the purpose of dividing the best men of this community.
I thought so then ; I think so now ; but that issue was made, as all issues are made, not by the politicians, but by the people. That was made the issue, and it was forced on- by the newspapers in New South Wales, and in other States, and it became the issue. In the same speech I said this -
He was a protectionist, and he had been so ever since he had had the capacity to think upon political affairs, and he said with regard to himself, and he believed with regard to every other member of the Federal Ministry, that in the first place a certain amount of revenue was a necessity; that the necessity for that revenue made it impossible to place in the Tariff duties of a prohibitive character. In the establishing of those duties, and selecting the article that would be subject to duty, they would follow such a principle as would fairly give encouragement and protection to the producers and manufacturers of every part of Australia.
Those are the expressions I used in the speech to which honorable senators have referred, and, although the first part of the speech has been quoted and commented upon time after time in the organs of the free-trade party, the passages which I have just read have never been alluded to. I now leave the matter in the hands of the Senate, and shall say no more about it. I should not have mentioned it were it not that honorable senators had put it forward in support of “the contention that, although the Prime Minister and myself are members of the Government which has introduced this protective Tarin0, we were elected to this Parliament as men whose colour upon the fiscal question was neutral. I absolutely deny the truth of that contention. Every speech made by the Prime Minister, the Minister for Home Affairs, or myself, either foreshadowed the policy enunciated in the Maitland speech, or adopted that policy, and the pledges which we made during the election have been fulfilled in the introduction of the Tariff now before the House. The Government have been taunted with the fact that the Tariff introduced in the House of Representatives has been altered. I very much regret, both in the interests of existing industries and in the interests of future industries, that it has been altered. I regret it still more deeply in the interests of the smaller States, whose revenues we were bound to preserve, and who have been placed in a worse position than that in which they were before federation. By whom ? As Senator Keating pointed out last night, by the free-traders - by those who are now claiming that above all things we should, in dealing with the Tariff, consider the question of revenue. It is a great pity that their party did not consider that question when the Tariff was in the other House. It is also a great pity that some of those who were returned to the House of Representatives as supporters of the Maitland policy did not adhere to it when the Tariff was being discussed there. Those -who are elected to Parliament because they advocate a certain policy are bound in honour to adhere to it when in Parliament. I have no sympathy with that class of politicians who join party organizations to secure their election, but who, when they get into Parliament, and the performance of party duties is required from them, are so weak-kneed as to give way in the interests of some particular State, and to lend their aid to the breaking down of the policy which they were pledged to preserve. I hope we shall have nothing of that sort here, and that every one who has bound himself to maintain the policy of protection will see that this Tariff, which puts into force the best and most moderate demands of protection under existing circumstances, is, as Senator Downer has said, supported in every particular. We cannot expect perfection in human affairs, and least of all, in matters of legislation. We cannot expect that a measure dealing with a large number of items, and affecting an immense number of interests, will please every one. All we can hope to do is to get the best general result possible, and from the point of view of the Government it is impossible to get a better general result than that given by the Tariff we are now considering. It is the duty of every senator who came here as a protectionist to see that the advantages which are to be obtained from the Tariff as it stands are secured to the people of Australia. Although I make these references to the support of protectionists, I say that the Tariff is one which ought to appeal, not only to protectionists, but also to federalists who put the interests of Australia before the ‘ triumph of a faction. Those who were sent here as federalists were elected to support a policy which can be carried out only by the abandonment of a certain amount of protection on the one hand, and of a certain amount of free-trade on the other. If we have a compromise here ; if we have such a mutual concession as is reasonable and cannot be carried further without the destruction of existing industries, it is the duty of every federalist who puts Australia first and faction afterwards to see that the Tariff is supported.
– Which is the faction - the protectionist side ?
– The honorable and learned senator has put the cap upon his own head.
– And it fits nicely.
– It becomes him admirably. Honorable senators opposite have indulged in a great deal of chaff or denunciation - I am uncertain which to call it - in regard to my position in connexion with this Tariff. I have been told that I have asked the Senate to regard it as a sort of sacred ark which is not to be touched ; that I have resented the least interference with it, and have asked honorable senators to abrogate all their functions in respect to it. I admire the ingenuity of those who have put that complexion upon my words, but I appeal to those who heard what I said, and who are not predisposed to distort my meaning, to say whether there was anything in what I said to support that construction. I think honorable members will give me credit for not being absolutely wanting in common sense. Placed in the position in -which I am, a roan could not be, guilty of greater folly than, to say that a body of this kind - which I acknowledge stands in an entirely different position from any second Chamber in Australia - should record its assent to a Bill of this kind as ,a matter of form. But I put before honorable senators considerations which I was bound to put before them, and which I wish to repeat, in order to make my attitude perfectly clear. There is no. member of the Senate to whom I would yield in the desire to uphold the rights of this Chamber. I had a part in the framing of the Constitution, and other senators who were also members of the Federal Convention will agree with me that we are pledged to maintain the spirit and intention of every provision of the Constitution. That duty is much higher than the exigencies of party politics, or the needs of Government. No matter what it involves, I shall be no party to any proposal derogating from the power which I’ believe the Senate has in dealing with legislation. It is a small matter whether a Government succeeds or fails, but it is a great thing to see that the Senate does not give up one iota of the powers conferred upon it by the Constitution. I should, be the last to belittle or detract from the powers of the Senate in this respect.
– Then the honorableand learned gentleman withdraws the slipabout the Governor-General’s veto ?
– The honorable and learned senator reminds me of an expression which has been laid hold of by himself and Senator Symon. I said that the veto of the Governor-General, and the power of the Senate to throw out a Bill, stand upon the same footing. What I was speaking of: was this : The Senate is, by the Constitution, given certain powers in regard to legislation, and surely the greatest of them is the power to entirely reject a measure. The Governor-General is also given the power to veto a measure. They are both extreme powers, and I was speaking of the impossibility of supposing that under certain circumstances either of them would be exercised. In that respect they stand upon precisely the same footing ; but I did not intend to say, and I did not say, that there is any analogy between them. I dare say honorable senators have read an essay by Gladstone upon the British Constitution, in which he points out that its practical work- ing depends upon the reasonable exercise of the powers which it contains; upon the assumption that the House of Commons, the House of Lords, and the Crown will each be reasonable in the exercise of its powers. He goes on to show that if any of these estates pushed its powers to an extreme, legislation would be impossible.
– Does the honorable and learned senator say that that principle applies to a House of Parliament?
– That is an extraordinary constitutional doctrine.
– I do npt think so. The Senate has power to throw out every measure that is put before it.
– So has the House of Representatives, if the measure originates in the Senate.
– That is so. But does any one imagine that that power would be exercised in an extreme and unreasonable way? The expression which I used has been twisted into a meaning which I never intended it to have, and I am astonished that any one who understands the English language, and heard what .1 said, could draw from it the conclusion which Senator Symon has drawn from it. I pass that by, and 1 should not have alluded to it but for the interjection of my honorable and learned friend.
– Who only said that the honorable and learned senator made a slip
– When that interjection was made, I was dealing with the position I took up. I admit to the full the right of the Senate to make any suggestion it thinks fit. I admit that it has the right to send back to the other House any portion of the- Tariff which it thinks fit, to be again discussed for some seven months.
– But they will not discuss it so long as they did when it goes back.
– If the Senate undertakes the responsibility of doing that, in view of all the circumstances - -in view of the discussion which has already taken place elsewhere, in view of the paralysis Qf trade all through Australia, in view of the interests which are involved in the settlement of the Tariff - then I submit that it is bound to look ahead a little, and to see what are the consequences in front of it. I am bound to point that out to the Senate.
– It must do that with every measure which comes up.
– The Senate, of course, will do its duty. It will riot take the step of .referring back to the other House any portion of this Tariff, unless it sees its way clearly to carry out its own views. I ask the Senate what will be the position if the other House does not accept its suggestions ?
– Of the other House %
– What will be the position of the other House or the Senate ‘(
– We shall consider that when it arises.
– It ought to be considered now.
– That means that we must not touch the Tariff.
– The Senate will be putting itself in a contemptible position before the country if it takes up an attitude which has the result of sending back this measure to the other House, and having it rediscussed there for,t perhaps, one month or two months, and in the end it feels that it is not justified in throwing out the Tariff. That is the position I put before the Senate. Not in any way as an honorable senator, using an immense power of imagination, said, to terrify the Senate, to hold a whip over the backs of honorable senators, but to point out, as it was my duty to do, that if it entered on a course of referring this measure back to the other House, it must look clearly ahead to see where it was going to lead to.
– What does the honorable and learned senator advise us to do - to accept the Tariff holus-bolus 1
– No. If I thought that question was asked with the view of my honorable and learned friend following my advice I should give it to him in a moment, and we should not take very much time over this discussion. It was m)r duty to point out to the Senate what was ahead of it, and to urge it to consider, before it took the step of delaying the settlement of this question, for which all Australia is waiting, to see whether there was a likelihood of its suggestions being attended to, and if not, what position it was likely to occupy. My honorable and learned friend asks me what I would advise. I do not, for a moment, ask the Senate, as I said before, to regard the Tariff as an absolutely unalterable piece of legislation. There may be inconsistencies or contradictions which have crept in owing to the method in which amendments had to be made in committee in the other House, which were overlooked when it was sent up here, and which ought to be remedied.
– The honorable and learned senator thinks that we are only to correct verbal errors 1
– To be only a revising House ?
– If, in order to carry out the intention of the Bill, I saw that it was necessary that certain matters should be remedied, I should certainly not oppose the making of a suggestion of that kind, or the making of any suggestion which would carry out the measure as it is. Senator Gould asks - Is it proposed to make this a mere revising House t Certainly not. Under the circumstances which have taken place, the Tariff comes to the Senate as the best possible compromise between the contending views of the two parties in the other House, and no better compromise can be arrived at here.
– Surely we are to have a voice in saying that 1
– If honorable senators think that, surely the time of the country is not to be taken up by the mere discussion of suggestions, which it is known will not be carried out.
– What !
– We might as well do away with the Senate at once.
– Who authorizes the Minister to declare that our requests will not be complied with ?
– I cannot answer twenty honorable senators at once !
– The Senate is not wanted then !
– When my honorable friend says - “ Letus do away with the (Senate,” he shows that he has absolutely misapprehended what I have been saying.
– No. I have been listening very attentively indeed.
– I have not intended for a moment that the Senate is not to exercise its full power, but I do submit that in this particular matter of the Tariff no matter what honorable senators may do, or how they may .discuss it, they cannot get a better settlement than they have got now.
– That is my honorable and learned friend’s opinion. We have to express ours.
– That is my opinion ; that is the opinion of the party which supports me here; that is the opinion of the protectionist party ; and that is the opinion of the party under whose wing Senator Fraser was elected.
– That applies to every Bill which comes here.
– Of course it does.
– It represents the opinion of the other House.
– I cannot convince the honorable and learned senator or Senator Symon. I do not intend to try to do so. All I care about is that my views shall be made plain. I thought I had made them plain when I introduced the Bill to the Senate, but it appears that my honorable friends have misunderstood them. I have explained them now more definitely, and I intend to leave the matter at that. From my point of view it is a compromise which ought to be accepted. Senator Symon may take opposite views.
– The honorable and learned gentleman is quite entitled to say that.
– Perfectly right; and that will be the contest between us; and I quite agree with much that was said by Senator Clemons last night, in his able speech, in which he admitted certain principles in the adjustment of this matter which we ought to follow. I think we shall be able to agree on those ‘general principles ; our difference ‘ is as to whether they have been carried out. I have no objection to fight the matter on this issue. - Is this a reasonable compromise, or is it not? I tell m)’ friends opposite that I intend to fight every inch of the ground on that question.
– So do we.
– Very well, that is understood.
– That is plain sailing.
– I intend to fight every inch of the ground, and I intend to do it more particularly because of the sentiments which have been expressed by Senators Symon and Pulsford. We are told by some of our honorable friends opposite that it is an underlying basis of the federal union that we should take care that each State has returned to it, as far as possible, the amount which it was getting from the Customhouse before Federation. No one denies that, but whence do they get that basis ? It is not in the bond. It is not in the Constitution. It is derived from the very same principle that I have already enunciated - that the underlying basis of the whole of this federal agreement is that we shall do nothing here which will disturb more than is necessary the existing conditions in the finances of the States, the industries of the States, the interests of the individuals of the States - and if we admit one, we must admit the other.
– .What about the Post and Telegraph Act 1
– What about the Pacific Island Labourers Act 1 Is not that interfering with industry 1
– Does not the honorable and learned senator know that one of the principles which, above all things, Australia made up its mind to carry out, was the principle of a white Australia1!
– And a number of us were sent here as free-traders?
– Let us deal with one tiling at a time. One of the principles which we were sent here to carry out, and about which all Australia was unanimous, was that of a white Australia. That could not be carried out without bringing to an end the trade in kanakas and the employment of them. It might have been done at - once ; but it is to be done gradually. The law is to be carried out by a process extending over five years, which seems to us to ease off, as far as possible, the effect of this necessary legislation. Why was that process of easing off the effect of this legislation adopted? For the precise reason that we should respect the needs of the manufacturers of all the States. It was because of the underlying principle of the Constitution that we must do no more damage than is necessary to carry out legislation for the Commonwealth. As we were bound to carry out the principle of a white Australia, so we were also bound, in carrying that out, to do no more harm to the interests of the sugar-growers and other persons concerned than was essential. And I submit that, in framing a uniform Tariff, just in the same way that we are bound to respect the finances of the States, so we are also bound to take care that, while we regard the interests of the free-trade State of New South Wales, we also regard the interests of the protectionist States and the interests of industries in every part of Australia. I should have thought that that was common ground, but my honorable friends are divided upon it.- Senator Clemons assents to that position, and our only difference is as to whether the Tariff does or does not give more consideration to existing industries than it ought. But there are some of my honorable friends like Senator Pulsford who say, “No; there is no such duty binding upon us at all.” Senator Symon says the same thing.
– We do it from generosity.
– So the manufacturers of Australia, and all dependent upon them, are to be placed in the mendicant position of appealing to the generosity of the free-traders in the Senate for their existence?
– They are in that position.
– I say that to place them in that position would be to absolutely violate every duty we owe to the people of Australia, and I, for one, can make no terms whatever with men who hold views of that kind. I can quite appreciate the view that we can join issue upon the question whether our Tariff has gone a little too far, or has not gone far enough ; but I cannot understand those who say - “ Although we have .entered into this federation, free-traders and protectionists alike, we intend, if we have a majority, to cany out such a policy as will smash up all existing industries.”
– No one said anything of the kind.
– That is, in effect, the attitude taken up by some honorable senators. “We shall smash up these industries if we think fit, but you may appeal to our generosity, and if it pleases us to be magnanimous in the midst of our great power and to throw you some concession we will do so.” I say that the manufacturers of Australia are not to be placed in that position. Every honorable senator who wishes to see this Tariff framed in such a way as to afford a satisfactory settlement of this question will take care that every interest is so dealt with that it will not be necessary to appeal to the generosity of any party or any individual. We should see that the Tariff is settled upon such a basis of fair compromise as will ensure the carrying out of all the objects we have in view. We should ensure a sufficiency of revenue and a sufficiency of return to the several . States. There should be no undue loading . of the free-trade States with taxes, but , at the same time such duties would be imposed as will preserve as far as possible . the manufacturing industries which have grown up in the different parts of Australia.
– We join issue on the last point.
– No honorable; senator who supports the view enunciated by Senator Pulsford, and by the leader of the Opposition, can make any pretence of approaching this matter in a federal spirit. Senator Millen, in his speech yesterday, made use of some figures . in order to show, as he thought, the in- .terests which are really involved in the consideration of the existing industries. By the very simple process of taking the total number of persons employed in manufacturing in New South Wales, and the total number employed in manufactures in Victoria, and substracting one lot of figures from the other, he brought out the result that there were 15 per cent, more persons employed in Victoria than in New South Wales, and he put this down as the number of persons who might be said to depend upon the protectionist policy. That was an utterly fallacious method of dealing with this question, as I shall show in a moment. The honorable member included in his figures, which are taken from Coghlan, manufactures of all kinds. The passage in Coghlan from which, the honorable senators took his figures reads as follows : -
Of the 60,070 workers employed (in the manufactories of Victoria) in 1S99, £,184 may be said to have found occupation in connexion with domestic industries for the treatment of perishable produce for immediate use ; 21,425 in other industries dependent upon the natural resources of the country ; and. 34,461 in industries, the production from which comes into competition with imported goods.
It is only the latter class of workers with whom we have anything to do in this comparison. The other kinds of employment arising out of the natural products of the soil, such as dairying, butter-making, and things of that sort cannot enter into our calculations when we are considering the effect of protection. Protection is the effect, which comes from dealing with imported articles, and therefore the only industries we can consider are those the products of which come into competition with imports. Adopting that basis, we find that Victoria has employed in industries the products of which come into competition with imported goods 34,461 persons. I will read the passage from Coghlan relating to the manufactories of New South Wales. He says -
Of the 55,646 workers employed in 1899, 22,522 found employment in connexion with industries, the products from which come into competition with imported goods ; 3,633 were engaged in domestic industries for the treatment of perishable produce required for immediate use; and 29,491 in other industries called into existence by the natural resources of the colony.
So that the persons employed in industries, the products of which come into competition with imported goods in New South Wales numbered only 22,522, as compared with 34,461 similarly engaged in Victoria. When we remember that the population of New South Wales is larger by one-eighth than that of Victoria, we might expect, if there was anything like an equality, that the number of persons employed in New South Wales would exceed the 34,000 finding work in Victoria by one-eighth. It must also be borne in mind that New South Wales has a territory three and a half times larger than that of Victoria. Putting the matter on the basis of actual facts, the persons who may be regarded as directly dependent upon the results of protection in Victoria are not the 16 per cent, which the honorable senator represented, but something like 33 per cent. I have used this illustration not only for the purpose of showing how large an interest is directly involved in this question, but also to indicate how dangerous it is for honorable senators to base arguments on figures of this kind without being quite certain that they are adopting the same basis of comparison. It is impossible to compare, in a general way, the employment afforded by the factories of New South Wales and that provided in Victoria with, a view to ascertaining the effect of protection. What really has to be considered is the employe ment afforded by those industries, the products of which come directly in contact with imports. The result of this comparison is to show how immensely the manufacturing industries which are affected by imports have been stimulated by protection in Victoria. I do not intend to enter upon what has been described by Senator Playford as the duel between New South Wales, and Victoria beyond pointing out the absolutely erroneous method of calculation adopted by Senator Millen.
– The honorable senator has succeeded” against Senator Millen, but he has made a point against himself.
– Now, I wish to deal with another matter. Senator Macfarlane, in the course of a very short speech, drew attention to an important aspect of this matter, which was afterwards emphasized and elaborated by Senator Clemons. The honorable senator said that it was quite true that we were proposing certain duties - it might be heavy duties - for the benefit of Tasmania, but that that State would not get the benefit of them in many cases now, because she would be supplied from the other States. Take, for instance, woollens, which now bear a duty of 15 per cent.t as compared with a 20 per cent, duty previously levied in Tasmania. Senator Macfarlane pointed out that Tasmania collected the 20 per cent, duty on the -whole of her imports of woollen goods, but that she would lose under the 15 per cent, duty, because a great, proportion of her requirements, if not the whole of them, would be met by importations from Melbourne and Sydney upon which no duty could be collected. I should like to point out, however, that one of the immense advantages which Tasmania will derive from the federal union is that she will have opened to her products the whole of the markets of Australia. What was her position before 1 Extraordinarily rich in natural products, and with a population of something like 170,000 people, she was surrounded on all sides by protectionist countries, the only free ports open to her being those of New South Wales. Her natural ports, that is to say those nearest to her, were closed by hostile Tariffs. Now what is the position of Tasmania? For all her products she has free markets throughout the whole of Australia. Victoria and South Australia are immediately at her doors, and the ports of other States are a little further off, and if she does lose in one way, as Senator Macfarlane has indicated, she will gain immensely in the way I have stated.
– Does not the honorable senator think that that applies equally to the manufacturers of Victoria 1
– We are dealing with totally different matters. There are two aspects of this matter, and as Senator Macfarlane has referred to one of them, I wish to show that in dealing with this question of federal union, the advantages and disadvantages must be regarded as a whole. I am pointing out that whilst on the one hand Tasmania will no doubt lose a certain amount of duty, on the other hand she will gain immensely by the stimulus given to her natural production through the new markets provided immediately at her doors. Now, what effect will this have upon the Treasury, because that is the point to which I am coming? I say that these enlarged markets will increase the purchasing power of the people and their capacity to absorb dutiable commodities ; so that while Tasmania may lose upon one portion of the Tariff, she must gain upon another.
– That is no special advantage.
– It is a very special advantage, foi1 the reason that the capacity of a country to establish manufactures depends very largely upon the extent of its own market. In a population of 1,250,000, we may have a very fair market which will justify the establishment of manufactures. But what market is available with a population of 170,000? Therefore, in regard to what are known as “ secondary “ industries, Tasmania occupied a worse position than any other portion of Australia. Under the present Tariff her position will be improved. We have to look at this matter all round. On the one hand, Tasmania may lose a certain amount of revenue upon goods from Victoria, but upon the other, through the increased market available, her people will assuredly become more prosperous. The Tasmanian Treasurer, therefore, is justified in anticipating a large increase in the consumption of dutiable goods. But, in addition to that, we are surely not to suppose that Tasmania herself is not destined- to become a manufacturing centre 1 Personally, I welcomed Senator Macfarlane’.? remark that the State which he represents would become the Belgium of Australia. What does he mean by that expression? I take it that herefers, in the first instance, to the undeniable richness of the Tasmanian deposits of iron ore. There is no portion of Australia which is more richly gifted in natural productions under the earth than is Tasmania. We all know that the opinion of experts is that it is the one State in which the richest deposits of iron ore exist in conjunction with coal of a sufficiently good quality for smelting purposes, and all the necessary fluxes.
– The real trouble is that we have not got the coal.
– The honorable and learned senator is quite mistaken. I have heard from a very much better authority, in the person of Senator Macfarlane, that Tasmania does possess coal of a quality sufficiently good for smelting purposes, though it is not suitable for steaming purposes. I do not know why Senator Clemons is so disposed to discount the advantages of his own State. I have always understood from experts who have spoken and written upon this subject that there is in Tasmania everything that is necessary for the establishment of very important iron works. That brings me to the portion of this Tariff which was alluded to by Senator Clemons the other evening. Dealing with Tasmania, I ask - Is there any reason why under this Tariff that State should not establish an iron industry which will supply the requirements of every portion of Australia 1 It possesses the ore, and all the necessary material for the production of iron. If proper encouragement be given, what reason exists to prevent this industry from being firmly established ? We were told by Senator Clemons that it is altogether an improper thing for this Parliament to commit itself to a policy for five years in advance by enacting Division VIa. of the schedule to this Bill, which binds the Ministry to impose a duty by proclamation, after the success of the iron industry has been assured. I think every one will admit that we can offer no encouragement to industries - especially to such -an industry as that of iron production - unless we insure that such encouragement shall be extended over a period of years. Therefore the Ministerial policy provides that for five years a bonus shall be paid for the production of iron. If at the expiration of that time the industry is in a position to supply the wants of Australia, a duty will be imposed to protect it from outside competition. That is a continuous policy. If the industry had been in a position to immediately supply the requirements of Australia, we might, perhaps, at once have imposed a duty. But it was impossible to do that, because iron is the raw material of an immense number of industries, which would be unduly handicapped by the immediate imposition of such a duty. By adopting the policy that we have adopted, we shall probably insure the laying down of the necessary plants for the production of iron upon a large scale : and we hope that when the bonus provision has been operating for five years, the industry will be able to supply the requirements of Australia, and will thereafter be benefited by the measure of protection which we impose. If we are to enter upon this policy of developing our iron industry at all, it is necessary that there should be some certainty about it, and it is equally necessary that there should be some system. That is my answer to the honorable and learned senator. It has been said that in the framing of this Tariff particular regard has not been paid to the revenue requirements of Queensland and Tasmania. That statement is absolutely without foundation. If honorable senators will examine the Tariff they will see innumerable articles - several of which were referred to last night by Senator Keating - upon which duties have been imposed for the express purpose of providing revenue. Duties have been levied upon articles which, in those States particularly, will produce a reasonable amount of revenue. Unfortunately the duties in many of those cases have been cut down, but in some others they still remain. T have listened in vain for any indication of a better policy than that which we have adopted in connexion with the two States in question.
– Cut down the protective duties and more revenue will be received.
– The honorable and learned senator will pardon me for saying that that is an entirely exploded fallacy. It altogether depends upon the article with which one is dealing. No doubt the principle may apply up to a certain point. We may double the amount of duty upon an article, but it does not necessarily follow that we shall thus double our collections. On the other hand, we may halve the duty upon an article, but that does not mean that we shall double our collections.
– I can suggest lots of ways in which to increase the revenue.
– Perhaps the honorable and learned senator will make his suggestions by-and-by. But I would point out that it is very much easier to criticise than to construct. In this connexion I should like to ask the representatives of Queensland and Tasmania to see that some better system of providing for increased revenue for those States is adopted before they depart from the system which is laid down in this Tariff. There is one question which was referred to by Senator Sargood, and to which I wish to direct attention, because it is one of those matters connected with the administration of the Customs department, in which my honorable friend the Minister for Trade, and Customs has been rather unfairly misrepresented. Of course, I admit that Senator Sargood would not willingly misrepresent the action of anybody. But, unfortunately, he enters upon the consideration of this matter with that bias which we must naturally expect in a gentleman who has large dealings with the Custom-house. He complains that recently there have been prosecutions. I think he used the term “monstrous prosecutions of respectable firms.” No doubt there have been prosecutions, and no doubt the firms prosecuted are respectable. But every one will admit that the Minister for Trade and Customs is a man who does his duty, irrespective of persons ; and if he finds that a law is broken, he will see that measures are taken to punish the offenders.
SenatorFraser. - If it is only a technical breach, he ought not to do so.
– Senator Fraser uses a word which is susceptibleof varyinginterpretations.A breach which may be merely a technical one, may have very serious consequences to the revenue. Honorable senators seem to forgot that in the Customs Act the making of a false entry was expressly made a punishable offence. The reason why this should be so is, that in dealing with ad valorem duties, the Custom-house is, to a large extent, at the mercy of the importer. It is therefore necessary to put upon the importer the responsibility of stating not only the truth according to the best of his belief, but of declaring what are the actual facts. Whether an error is made intentionally or not, it is very properly a punishable offence to make statements which have the effect of misleading the Customs officials, and of depriving the revenue of a large amount. In this connexion it is a curious circumstance that in 90 per cent. of the cases in which errors occur, those errors are in favour of the importer. It is a psychological position which I do not attempt to explain. The Minister for Trade and Customs did not act without reason, and without strong representations having been made on the part of his officers. For the information of the Senate, I should like to read two of these statements which came from Tasmania. I have here a memorandum to the Comptroller-General from the State Collector, Mr. Barnard. He says -
If the quantities and values taken out by the experts here are correct - with regard to the item on the attached copy of certificate - it would show that some of these certificates are totally unreliable ;
I may explain that these are dealing with the passage from State to State, of goods which have not paid duty within the two years’ period - and in the interests of this State, some action should be taken against those persons who make these declarations falsely. Otherwise the revenue of this State must be seriously affected. In the case in point, the dutiable material from which the cotton apparel is stated to have been manufactured, is declared to on the certificate as of value £3 2s.11d., and the cost of manufacture at £1311s., whereas the experts here agree that the material used cannot be of less value than £618s. 6d. , taking the value at bare American cost, thus defrauding the revenue of the duty on £3 15s. 7d., plus 10 per cent.
There is a further memorandum dated the 17th March, 1902, from the same collector of customs, in which he says -
I have the honour to forward for your information papers in connexion with several cases in which false declarations have been made by consignors of goods by which loss of revenue would have been sustained by this State. It will be evident, from a perusal of these papers, that consignors, when making declarations transferring goods Inter-State, have little or no sense of their responsibility in the matter, and their clerks less, so that it becomes highly necessary in the interests of the revenue of this State that some drastic steps should be taken in order to obviate the growing evil. I therefore trust that these papers may be forwarded to the Federal law officers to take such steps us may be necessary to vindicate the law in each case.
Then follow a list of the cases, but I need not mention the names of the several firms which areappended to the collector’s memorandum. These are the grounds on which the Minister for Trade and Customs feels bound to proceed against these persons, and if he is not to proceed because the offence has been committed by a well-known firm, or it may bea perfectly honest and respectable firm, what is the use of his office? He is there to administer the law, and to see that it is carried out properly. He is there to see not only that persons are not dishonest in dealing with the Customs, but that they act according to the law, in such a way that they themselves help the officials to administer the Customs Act, and that they give that assistance which the law expects them to give, in properly declaring the value of their goods. Myhonorable colleague has done nothing more than that, and I hope and believe that in the action he has taken, notwithstanding that it may be very unpalatable to some persons, he will have the support of the whole community.
– It is well known that in regard to the Inter-State certificates things are abominable.
– I dare say it is very difficult, but whose fault is that?
– There are cases in which no revenue is involved at all.
– I altogether dissent from what the honorable senator says.
It is very difficult, we all admit, to trace out the value of goods passing from State to State, but unless States are to be defrauded of their revenue, and unless . the proper distribution of revenue is to be disregarded, we must in the best way possible arrive at these particulars ; and it is only by the honest and accurate co-operation of the importers that this can be done. As far as my honorable colleague is concerned, he will take care that it is done.
– It has been done in cases where there was no revenue involved whatever, and I know it as a fact.
– The honorable senator is absolutely wrong.
– I am not wrong ; I can prove it up to the hilt.
– The honorable senator had better prove it up to the hilt, but unless he has something better than that to say, it would be well for him not to interrupt me. I do not intend to occupy the Senate at much greater length, because, as I have said before, these matters have been thrashed out in detail, and I- have only done what I thought necessary to place my own views upon the debate which has taken place clearly before the Senate. I now leave the matter in the hands of the Senate. I am quite sure that my attitude will not be misunderstood. I admit to the fullest degree the right of the Senate to deal in any way it thinks fit with this Tariff, but I say that in dealing with the Tariff it must always be remembered that we are dealing with a question that can only be settled by a fair compromise, and that the manufacturers of the States, and the interests of the individual States have both to be considered.
– And the persons em: ployed.
– In considering the interests of the manufacturers of the States, we must remember that we are not merely dealing with figures or with counters, but with flesh and blood, and that every industry which is closed by reason of the striking off of any duties means the turning out to seek other employment of perhaps hundreds of persons. I say we must remember that. On the other hand, I quite agree that we must consider the consumer. But, if there is one fact established more clearly than another in this controversy, it is that in the case of protected industries, the ultimate result always is to cheapen the article to the consumer. Of course, I know that that is denied. It is the old, old controversy which we have heard over and over again, but the statement, to my mind, is proved up to the hilt. I have some figures here which I think will be interesting to the ‘ Senate, and which I will quote. Honorable senators will’ remember that” one of the industries which we propose to encourage is that of the manufacture of reapers and binders. On reapers and binders there has been no duty.
– We have heard of the reaper and binder before.
– And the honorable and learned senator is going to hear of it again. There has been no duty on the reaper and binder; but, notwithstanding that, the agricultural people of Australia have had to pay for such a machine something like 100 per cent, in many cases more than it has cost. And who has got that profit 1 Not the wicked manufacturer, but the importer. It was simply by reason of the ring formed by the innocent and guileless importers that the price of this article was put up to the sum which was charged for it. That is a well-known fact.
– It is a well-known fiction !
– It is of no use saying that in face of the facts. I find that in 1900 the price of reapers and binders in “Victoria was £50.
– From £45 to £50.
– In New South Wales the price was £55. There was no duty in either case. The invoice price in America was something like £20.
– The difference went into the pockets of the importer, and all the satellites and intermediaries who live upon the importer.
– What is the present price %
– The price began to go down in 1901 - and why? Because! of course, the importers had sense enough to see that the people of . Australia, if- they could get protection against the outside world, would not put up with that kind of thing. So the ring began to weaken and the price to come down. In 1901, the price in Victoria was £35, less 5 per cent. In New South Wales - free-trade New South Wales - the price was £47.
– I buy in New South Wales, and I have been offered machines for £32 10s. That was a few months ago.
– Yes. As the Tariff is going through Parliament, and this little scheme is unmasked, these gentlemen are very anxious to bring down the price, and if they succeed in hoodwinking Parliament, there will be nothing to prevent the ring closing up again as soon as the measure has been passed. That is a very familiar device. I may also mention, with regard to reapers and binders, that there are, certain patent rights connected with them, but the bulk of those patent rights have, I think, expired ; and, with regard to those which have not expired, it is perfectly plain that the owners of the patents would find it very well worth their while, if there was protection or a bonus here, to manufacture the articles for the Australian market, as it would be an inducement which they certainly would not have were the market open to the manufacturers of any particular State. I come to deal now with another class of articles, in order to show that where there is a duty the article becomes cheaper in the country of manufacture by reason of the local competition. Instances of the kind have been given already by some of my honorable friends, but I wish now to continue the information I have here. In 1901, on an implement called a two-horse mower, there was a duty in Victoria of 15. per cent.; but the price of the mower in Victoria and in New South Wales was precisely the same, £17 2s. So that although there was 15 per cent. of protection in Victoria, the farmer got his imported mower just as cheaply in that State as in New South Wales, where it was free. Take the case of 8-ft. hay rakes. There was a duty in Victoria of 15 per cent. and the price in that State was £9 10s. whilst the price in New South Wales was £9. There was in that case a difference of 10s. approximating to the amount of the duty. In the case of 17-tooth cultivators with seeder, there was a duty of 15 per cent. in Victoria, and yet the price was the same in Victoria as in New South Wales, namely, £23. On pony ploughs, there was a 10 per cent. duty in Victoria, and they were free in New South Wales, the price being £2 5s. in New South Wales, and £2 10s. in Victoria. In the case of one-horse ploughs, there was a duty of 15 per cent. in Victoria, where the price was £2 15s., and in New South Wales where the article was free, the price was £2 12s. 6d. In the case of two-horse ploughs, the price was precisely the same in both States, namely, £3, although there was a duty of 15 per cent. on the implement in Victoria. On single-furrow steel-beamed ploughs there was a duty of 15 per cent. in Victoria, where the price was £4, and the price in New South Wales was £3 10s. I have taken these instances - not solely instances in which the price has been precisely the same - in order to show that what regulates the price is the local competition.
– The supply and demand.
– The supply and demand. It is like everything else - there is nothing magical about it. Where there is sufficient protection to enable the local manufacturer to lay down his plant and begin manufacturing, when once he has a certain output he is able to sell at a price which either defies the competition of the imported article, or compels the imported article to come down to a reasonable price. The result has been, therefore, in the manufacture of these agricultural implements throughout Australia, wherever it has taken place, that the price has not been increased to the consumer, whilst at the same time the State which has imposed the duty has benefited by the employment of a large number of persons in the industry.
– Hundreds of instances could be quoted in America.
– Yes ; but I am dealing now with these few instances, and I should like to call the attention of the Senate, although perhaps honorable senators are not likely to forget it, to the instance given in the speech of my honorable friend Senator Playford, which came like a flash of sunlight into this debate.
– Of “sunlight soap.”
– It came like a flash of sunlight into a jungle, and it had the effect, not only of illuminating the subject, but of cheering us up. Senator Playford’s speech was an example of the practical application of this principle. The honorable senator has lived through the time he spoke about, he described exactly what took place, and showed how, by the operation of the Tariff, the particular ploughshares to which he referred became really cheaper and better to the consumer, while if the protection had not been given the industry would have disappeared altogether, and the farmer would have been in the hands of the importer, who might then have charged what he chose. Senator Best gave some illustrations, and my honorable colleague, the Postmaster -General, gave an illustration from the experience of the boot trade in Queensland. All through we have had examples of the practical working out of the principle in Australia, and it does seem to me that they are worth ten thousand bushels of those wandering statistics from Mulhall which have been quoted over and over again to show that the prices are different. We know the contrary. We know from our own experience what the result has been, and that where we have manufactures established locally, as soon as competition begins the price is cheapened. Every one admits that in the early days of a manufacture, before the output is sufficient to create competition, there may be some rise in price; but experience has shown that once an industry is fairly on its feet, which generally happens within a very short time after its establishment, the price of the article it produces goes down to what is fair and reasonable to the consumer.
– I thought starch was cheaper in Sydney than in Melbourne last year ?
– At the present time I do not know anything about starch.
– It is a very delicate subject.
– I am sorry I cannot carry all these details in my head, but when we come to consider starch in committee, I shall be glad to deal with the subject. I had a detail about tapioca flour for the benefit of my honorable and learned friend Senator Symon, but I shall deal with that also in committee.
– Has the honorable and learned senator any figures with reference to the prices of boots and hats?
-We can deal with them also in committee. I should like to say that the testimony of those honorable senators who have spoken about things they know is that the result of local protection in the cases I have mentioned, and amongst others in the case of boots-
– And apparel generally -
– And apparel generally, is to bring down the price to what is fair and reasonable, and to what is certainly not above the price charged in countries where free-trade exists.
– Then what on earth is the purpose of the duty?
– The honorable and learned senator knows quite well what the purpose of the duty is. It is topreserve the local market for the local manufacturer. By compelling the importer to maintain a certain price we steady the market, and enable the local manufacturer to embark his capital in his business with a fair amount of certainty. If the article costs him a certain amount to produce, he will know that he will be sure of a market which will not be unduly interfered with, and especially will not be interfered with by being flooded with the surplus stocks of other countries. That is what we have to be afraid of here. That is what hashappened over and over again. In the case of countries like England and America, where there is an enormous production of manufactures, it pays manufacturing firms to send out large shipments of their articles to be sold at a much lower price than is charged for them in their own country ; first, because it is often better to get rid of them almost at any price than to keep them in stock; and, second, because it very often pays them to capture a market in that way.
– Is that why candles are cheaper in Broken Hill than in Adelaide ?
– I am not going into that now, as I do not expect to convince the honorable and learned senator. With respect to the question as it affects the consumer, I would say that I very much appreciate the position taken up by Senator Pearce and other honorable senators who have addressed themselves to this matter, particularly as it affects labour. They do not wish to see living made dearer, and they do not wish to see the tools of trade or the implements of industry generally made dearer. They say that if we do make those things dearer, we handicap industry and diminish the wages fund. That is perfectly true. My answer to that, in the first place, is that by protection we do not increase the cost to the consumer. That has not been the result in the case of the different States of Australia which established manufactures when the market was small. The certainty of a reduction in price to the consumer becomes absolute when we remember that in future our manufacturers will have the whole of Australia for a market, and it will pay to lay down large plants. The result will be that large output which alone enables reasonable prices to be charged for manufactured goods. That applies not only to agricultural machinery, but to mining machinery and every other kind of machinery that can be manufactured. In the restricted conditions in which mining machinery has to be manufactured in Australia, it is idle to say that the locally-manufactured machinery is dearer than imported machinery. I say we cannot apply that to the altered circumstances which must take place immediately the whole of Australia is open as a market. What reason is there to suppose that we cannot manufacture mining machinery here as cheaply as people can anywhere else ? What reason is there to suppose that the machinery which will be manufactured here will not be as good and as applicable? The local machinery will have the advantage of being made close to the place where it is to be used, and certainly so close that inspection of orders in hand can be made and repairs can be executed without additional expense. That honorable senators will freely admit will be a great advantage in the making of machinery. There, is another view put by honorable senators who believe that the interest of the labourer is specially to be regarded. We all know that there is such a thing as what is described as “ the new protection.” There is no more ardent or able exponent of the new protection than Senator ‘ Pearce. Some of the free-traders, with whom I think he finds himself in strange and uncongenial alliance^ would say - “ We altogether disapprove of your view that a contract is a thing which may be interfered with. We think that there should be freedom in every thing - in dealing with goods, and in dealing with labour ; that a man who wishes to sell his labour at a low price has as much right to do so as the man who wishes to sell his goods at a low price has a right to do so. The great object of our policy is cheapness, and a man should be permitted to obtain either labour or goods or anything else cheaply wherever he can do so.” But the new protectionists say - “We put a restriction upon freedom of contract, for the benefit of the whole community, and we say that, apart from economic considerations, and for social reasons, it is right and necessary that men should be restrained from bringing down the price of labour to such a point that it becomes difficult for their fellows to obtain a wage on which they can live in proper comfort, and as Australian workmen should live.” That is the new protection, and it is impossible under freetrade. I ask’ Senator Pearce why, if it is right to interfere with trading in labour, it is not right to interfere with trading in goods 1 By protecting the manufacturers of goods we gain employment for large numbers of persons who otherwise would not be employed, and create a variety of occupations. Do we in Australia wish to remain tied down for ever to what are called the primary industries 1 According to the theories of honorable senators opposite, the most prosperous condition for Australia is to be occupied in growing wool and meat, and in the industries subservient to natural production. They assume that employment will be found for every one in those industries, and that we must avoid doing anything to interfere with their, output, or to prevent the workers from obtaining the cheapest goods possible. That is a fatal and unprogressive view to take of the occupation of a new country like this. The salvation of a country like Australia, where natural production is so largely dependent upon the seasons, will be found in having a variety of occupations for her people, so that the labour and capital of the country may be employed, not only in developing its natural resources, but in supplying the wants of the community at large. I appeal to those who take up the cause of labour, and advocate it so warmly, to remember that what is to be said in support of the provisions with regard to wages boards and interference with freedom of contract, in order to bring about an improvement of the condition of the working classes, applies equally to the provision which we are making by the Tariff to give increased occupation and diversified employment to the people of Australia.
– Yet the Victorian protected manufacturers loudly condemn the wages boards.
– It is to the interest of the manufacturer, as of the importer, to fill his pockets as quickly as he can.
Honorable senators talk about the manufacturer’s profits. I ask them what about the importer’s profits? Neither importers nor merchants go into business from philanthropic motives; they do so to make money. But it is our duty to see that the business of both of them is so regulated and conducted that it will serve the best interests of the community. We take the view, which is shared by the advocates of the new protection that, whatever may be said about free-trade and protection from an economic stand-point, there are other things to be considered, and other views to be taken. Even if in some instances the consumers have to pay a little more for their goods, it is better that they should do so, because they thereby give regular and diversified employment to the great bulk of the people. Senator Millen read a letter, apparently from some large salt trust in London, pointing out that whereas a person named J ames Parkinson, who gave a certificate in regard to the quality of certain salt, which was quoted by the Minister for Trade and Customs, described himself as a qualified analytical chemist of the Royal College of Chemistry, London, there is no such institution. The honorable senator did not deny that there is such a person as Mr. Parkinson or his competency to give the certificate, and I believe honorable senators who come from South Australia will acknowledge that Mr. Parkinson is a person of good judgment and experience, and is qualified to give a certificate as to the quality of salt. The Minister for Trade and Customs has had inquiries made about the matter, however, and he has received the following telegram from Mr. S. J. Jacobs, a well-known citizen of South Australia.
– He is president of the Chamber of Commerce.
– And chairman of the Salt Company.
– If he is chairman of the Salt Company, it is very proper that he should answer the letter of the chairman of the Salt Trust. This is what he says -
James Parkinson, qualified analytical chemist, Royal College Chemistry, London, graduate Royal School Mines, Museum Practical Geology, London, 1863-4-5. See Chambers’ Register of Associates, published1896, page 128. Bona fides undoubted.
If Senator Millen were present he would be the first to acknowledge that he made an error. I do not intend to keep the Senate any longer from entering upon the actual business of discussing the Tariff in detail in committee. Now that we have come to the real issue, I hope that senators will remember that it is admitted upon both sides that the amount of revenue the Government propose to raise must be raised. It cannot be raised without the imposition of duties, and therefore, free-trade, with regard to certain articles, must come to an end. The policy of the free-trader is to take revenue from the pockets of the people without imposing duties which will in any way benefit the local producer, because by helping him they will be benefiting one person at the expense of the rest of the community. We, on the other hand, say that it has been proved by experience to be possible to raise revenue by imposing duties upon articles which are not produced locally, and also upon articles which are produced locally, and that a composite Tariff of that kind will obtain sufficient revenue for our requirements, and, at the same time, reserve the home market for the local producer. I feel sure that honorable senators will endeavour to come to a conclusion as early as possible as to the principles upon which the Tariff shall be framed, and I trust that the result of our deliberations will be that we shall find that it is a fair compromise ; that, notwithstanding the destructive criticism we have had, there is no better way out of the difficulty ; that it satisfies the requirements of the States so far as they can be satisfied ; that it does not do injustice to the free-trade State of New South Wales, and does justice, though scantily, to the protected industries of other parts of Australia ; and, above all, that its general tendency is to give the people of Australia what they have a right to demand at our hands, the enactment of a national policy.
– As a personal explanation I wish to say thatit was represented by Senator McGregor last night that in 1887 I wrote a letter to the Sydney Morning Herald, advocating protection. I wrote the letter to which the honorable senator referred, but it was a transparent satire upon the action of certain alleged freetraders, who were advocating federation at the expense of free-trade.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause 1 (Short title) agreed to.
– I move -
That the Bill he now read a second time.
As the details of this Bill have been discussed in connexion with the Customs Tariff Bill, I move this motion as a formal matter. I have already stated the intention of the Government with regard to procedure.
– I do not intend to debate the Bill, so far as it relates to the duties of excise, nor do I propose to in any way allude to the schedule. Of course, duties of excise, when imposed, have relation to articles manufactured within the Commonwealth, and in that connexion I desire to call attention to what seems at least a very unusual provision in paragraph (b) of clause 5. A number of petitions were presented and read to the Senate to-day which appear to relate to this paragraph, and although we shall not have an opportunity of dealing with this question in committee possibly for some short time, it is well that the attention of honorable senators should be directed to. what the effect of the paragraph is, so that they may have an opportunity of considering whether a provision of this kind ought to be enacted in this Bill. The object of an excise duty is that it shall attach to articles which are manufactured within the Commonwealth. In the Excise Regulation Act, as in the Customs Regulation Act, a definition is given of what is meant by “ manufacture,” and that covers not merely the finished product, but every process, so that the excise duty shall attach to any article as to which any process or any portion of the process of manufacture has still to be carried out, and therefore it is exhaustive in every way. Paragraph (a) of clause 5 provides what we all understand by excise duties. It provides that excise duties shall be levied on -
All goods dutiable under the schedule, and manufactured or produced in Australia after the time when such duties are deemed to have been imposed.
But paragraph (b) adds to that this very unusual provision -
All goods dutiable under the schedule, and manufactured or produced in Australia before the time when such duties are deemed to have been imposed, and which were at that time subject to the control of the customs or to excise super vision -
That is very good so far as it goes : but then it proceeds to say - or in the stock, custody, or possession of, or belonging to any brewer, distiller, manufacturer, or refiner thereof, and on whichno duty of customs or excise had been paid before the time when such duties are deemed to have been imposed.
The effect of that is-
– To keepdown stocks
– Undoubtedly it is to impose retrospective taxation.
– To prevent fraud, I should call it.
– My honorable and learned friend must see that the effect of it is to levy a duty on manufactured goods which have been in the stock of the manufacturer for six months before the Tariff has come into operation.
– But they have not been consumed; that is the point.
– The manufacturer puts on the duty when he is selling.
– We do not know whether he puts on the duty or not. Stop him putting it on if you like. But what right have you to impose a retrospective tax - the most odious of all taxation - on the quantity of stock that a man has in his possession six months before the taxation is intended to be imposed, simply because it is in stock? It is a matter between him and his customers. The petitions which have been presented, so far as I could gather from the reading of them at the table, show that it is not a matter which affects the manufacturers - and I think one of them was from a big sugar company - but affects the growers, because these big refiners and manufacturers have no doubt taken precious good care, at least so it would appear, to protect themselves, by throwing the excise duty, if they have to pay it, on the growers in Queensland.
– Two petitions have been presented by Senator Fraser, and one by Senator Glassey, from growers in Queensland, petitioning the Senate in respect of this retrospective taxation, on the ground that it will be charged upon them.
– But what is the difference in principle between this and goods in bond ?
– There is a great difference. When goods are left in bond the importer runs the risk of the Customs Tariff, but the manufacturer has been manufacturing for years.
– Just so.
– Are you to levy a duty upon the stock which he made twelve months ago?
– And which is not sold and consumed ?
– He has bought it from the grower.
– He will get his higher price when he does sell to the consumer.
– On what principle are you going to levy an excise duty - only leviable on manufactured goods after the Tariff has been laid before Parliament - on goods made six, twelve, or eighteen months before? It is no more just that you should impose this odious retrospective tax on goods that were not in any way liable to it before, because they were manufactured prior to this Tariff being introduced, than it is that you should impose a tax on Senator Best’s furniture if he has bought any within the last twelve months. A man buys a saddle three months before the Tariff is introduced, and because he happens to still ha ve it in stock, the contention is that he should pay duty.
– Every saddle in bond will have to pay duty.
– That is quite a different thing. My honorable friend is getting more dull in his moral sensibilities in connexion with this Tariff every day. I should like to know how, on any moral principle, you can justify imposing this excise six months before the article is manufactured. The contracts are made. The Colonial Sugar Refining Company do not pay the duty, because they have thrown it back upon the people from whom they bought the raw sugar.
– They cannot do that. The honorable and learned senator has not read the petition correctly.
– I listened to the petition from the growers.
– The honorable and learned senator does not understand it.
– I do. My honorable and learned friend, I am afraid,has misunderstood it.
– I think not. The company have offered to give something to the grower if they get this refund of duty.
– I am not going to debate the matter at length now. The time to deal with it will be when we get into committee, but I wish to protest here against so unusual and iniquitous a tax on goods manufactured before the Tariff was brought into operation, and which are in the manufacturer’s store. It ought not to appear in the Bill at all, because its essential part is to levy excise duties. Honorable senators will have an opportunity of considering this paragraph before it is dealt with in committee, when I hope that it will be fully discussed, and we shall have a chance of ascertaining, whether or not the grocers, as well as perhaps the sugar manufacturers, will suffer from the imposition of this retrospective duty.
– I do not agree with the view taken by Senator Symon, because the excise duty is really levied upon the person who consumes the article. In the first place, it is paid by the person in whose possession the article is, and afterwards - in this respect it is very different from the import duties we have been talking about - it must clearly be paid by the consumer. The money that is so raised belongs, under the Constitution, to the different States in proportion to the amount of sugar consumed in each State. At a certain moment of time the duty becomes payable. There is in store a quantity of sugar, which has been manufactured, but has not been consumed. How is effect going to be given to the duty unless it is levied on the sugar that is in store, but has not yet gone intoconsumption ? It is in exactly the same position as are goods in bond that are subject to import duty. The meaning of the petition presented to-day, if I understand it correctly, is, that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company have in store a large quantity of sugar, and, if they obtain a refund of the duty paid, they will give some proportion of it to the growers of the cane from which the sugar was produced.
– That is, they have already deducted it from the price, and they will restore half of it if they get it back from the Crown ?
– No. I understand that those who supplied the cane have been paid, and that the sugar has been made, and belongs at this particular moment to the company.
– Does this refer back to any datewhatever ?
– If the article is in store, it is not consumed.
– There is no time limit as to when the cane was grown?
– Certainly not.
– Or, as to when it went into store?
– Certainly not. At the time, when the duty becomes payable, the sugar is in store, and has not gone into consumption. The presumption is that the persons who grew the cane from which it was produced have been paid. No doubt they have been growing cane under certain contracts which could not be affected in the slightest degree by the imposition of this excise. They have been growing cane and supplying it to the mill at a certain amount, which, presumably, has been paid. When the excise becomes payable it is charged on the sugar that is in the store, and has not gone into consumption, in order that the consumers of it shall have contributed to the amount of duty which is collected by the collector of customs, and which is then handed over to the States in proportion to the amount of sugar which is consumed in each State. I think that is perfectly clear. I understand that a claim is made that this excise should not be levied on sugar actually manufactured, and the owners - that is, the company - ask to have that amount refunded to them. If it is refunded, it seems perfectly clear, in the first place, that it will all count as sheer profit to them, whatever the amount of it may be, because the sugar itself has gone into consumption since the duty has been paid, and consequently has realized for the company the previous price plus the duty. I understand that if the duty which at present belongs to the States is taken from them and paid to the company, the company will give some proportion of it to the persons who grew the cane from which the sugar was produced. We can quite understand that if a promise of this kind has been made the sugar growers will naturally send down a petition praying for the return of the duty to the manufacturers. The question, however, is whether this can be done in justice to the various States to whom the duty really belongs, and who have been credited with it. We know the principle of the excise duty, and we are also aware that under the Constitution it is provided that the duty collected shall be credited to the States in proportion to their consumption of sugar. That has been done, so that what is asked for in the petition, which I understand Senator Symon to be supporting by proposing the alteration of paragraph (b), is that the duty credited to the States shall now be taken back from the States and paid to the company.
– Not taken back from the States; the duty was deposited by the company under protest.
– The money belongs to the States.
– The matter is sub judice.
– The money has been deposited, and under the Constitution has to be credited to the States in proportion to the consumption of sugar in those States.
– That is if the clause is passed.
– Yes; the money has been collected, and if it does not go back to the company the States will receive it. Therefore, the question is whether under the Constitution, and according to all the principles of justice, it is right that this duty should go to the States or be handed back to the company?
– I agree with Senator Symon. The Act comes into force on the 8th October, and all sugar held in stock by manufacturers upon that date is subject to duty. As a merchant, however, I might hold 100 tons of sugar in my store and not be called upon to pay one shilling excise duty. I know of men who have held in stock large quantities of manufactured sugar upon which they have not been required to pay any excise duty. The manufacturer who has sugar stored on his manufacturing premises will be mulcted in the excise, whilst the merchant will go scot free. It is not fail that an act of this kind should be made retrospective. The case of the manufacturer of sugar is not on all-fours with that of the importer of goods from abroad. The importer keeps his goods in bond, and deliberately takes the risk of having to pay the duty or otherwise, but the manufacturer of Australian products is on quite a different plane. We cannot fairly ask the manufacturers to pay excise duty upon the whole of the sugar in stock on 8th October. It would be -as just, in the event of an excise duty being imposed upon wheat, to require our farmers to pay the duty upon all the wheat held by them, even though some of it might have been in hand from the previous season. The Government proposal is unfair in principle, and will be unjust in operation. I know of one unfortunate firm that will have to pay £1,000 as excise duty upon sugar that has been in stock for a very long time. This firm employs a large amount of labour, and pays very good wages.
– And also large dividends, no doubt.
– What have the dividends to do with the matter 1 We have no right to draw any distinctions between the men who pay dividends and those who do not. I have a number of petitions from cane growers similar to those which have already been presented, but owing to a slight informality I have held them back, pending a reference to the signatories. Surely the Commonwealth is not so hard pressed as to require to pass retrospective legislation with a view to compel manufacturers and others to pay duty on stocks held by them prior to the 8th October. I shall strongly oppose the clause. ‘
– I intend to oppose the provision referred to. It has been inserted to prevent people who may think that they have a grievance against the Customs authorities from obtaining redress in the courts of law. Senator -Fraser has pointed out that it must necessarily result in injustice. Kit is just to enforce the clause against cert;un personS mentioned in it, it will be unjust to exempt all other persons who do not come within the descriptions given. If the clause is passed, the Government may require the manufacturers to pay excise duty upon any sugar they may have in bond, and at the same time allow all those other persons who may have sugar in stock, but who are not mentioned in the clause, to escape. It is certain that the Customs authorities will not attempt to ascertain the whereabouts of all the sugar that has not paid excise, but wherever they find ready to hand any sugar upon which they can enforce the payment of excise, they will do ‘ so - in fact, they have done so. Coming to another point, I contend that the Commonwealth has no power whatever to. make any such provision asthis. I ask the Vice-President of theExecutive Council under what authority in the Constitution this clause has been made retrospective to the extent implied by its wording. The power of this Parliament to make laws is clearly limited by the Constitution Act. I would ask the VicePresident of the Executive Council how he proposes to overcome section 86, which reads as follows : -
On the establishment of the Commonwealth, the collection and control of duties of customs and of excise, and the control of the payment of bounties, sholl pass to the Executive Government of the Commonwealth.
If there were no other direct limitation in the Constitution, that would be sufficient to prevent us from passing the clause as it stands. We can pass no legislation giving to the Commonwealth any power to deal with customs and excise duties at Si date prior to the establishment of the Commonwealth .
– We are not asking for that.
– In this clause the’ Government are asking for it. I was delighted to hear the Postmaster- General say that there was no time limit imposed by the clause. We can see for ourselves that there is no time limit provided for, because the clause will operate in regard to sugar that was manufactured, and not disposed of, prior to the establishment of the Commonwealth. Therefore I hold that the provision is ultra vires, and I intend to oppose it in committee.
– If I remain long enough in the company of the commercial and legal gentlemen of this Senate, I shall be able to go into business, because I am learning a great deal. With respect to the collection of excise duties, I differ from Senator Clemons’ interpretation of the clause which has been referred to. The Commonwealth cannot act until goods are taken out of bond, and the Commonwealth could have no power to take any goods out of bond before it was established.
– This is not a question of goods in bond.
– Goods are in bond when they are in the custody of the private manufacturer, because the manufacturer is under the control of the Customs.
– Not unless this Bill is passed.
– With regard to the case mentioned by Senator Fraser, I can quite understand that merchants of experience would, in anticipation of the passing of an excise duty, purchase from the manufacturers as much sugar as possible before October hist. If 100 tons of sugar are in the hands of a manufacturer, and the excise duty upon that article is remitted, does Senator Symon imagine for one moment that the manufacturer will not charge that duty to the consumer?
– But there is nothing to remit.
– There is the excise duty.
– Not upon sugar manufactured prior to the imposition of ‘the Tariff.
– It does not matter to the Commonwealth whether the sugar was grown or manufactured 1,000 years ago. If it has been taken out of bond, and is stored in the cellar of a private individual, it is clear that that individual has not paid excise duty upon it. Do Senators Clemons and Symon mean to tell me that if the duty upon that sugar is remitted to the manufacturer, the latter will not charge it to the consumer ? Certainly he will, even if it were manufactured before the Tower of . Babel was built.
– Take the case of goods upon which there was no excise before the introduction of the Tariff.
– It does not matter when the goods were manufactured. If they were taken out of bond now, the consumer would have to pay the duty, because “the manufacturer would charge it, even though he himself has never paid excise upon them. Of course I can understand the attitude taken up by Senator Clemons and other legal gentlemen who realize that, in the absence of such a provision, if the Commonwealth Government attempted to collect any excise duty there might be very nice fees forthcoming in an action between the Colonial Sugar Refining Company and the Government.
– Oh !
– Did not Senator Clemons complain that this clause took away from the manufacturer the power to appeal to any court? I do not want an appeal to the courts, and for that reason I hope the provision will be inserted. Its inclusion in this Bill will compel the manufacturer to pay the excise duty upon the sugar which he has in stock, and he will then charge that excise to those who purchase from him. The consumers will have to pay in any case.
– I think that Senator McGregor has rather misunderstood the drift of our objection to this particular clause. His remarks would have been perfectly justified if our objection had dealt solely with stocks in bond. I do not think that anybody objects to goods which are still in bond paying excise duty. But the point is that a large quantity of the sugar affected is not in bond. It has gone into the private warehouses of the manufacturers, and the Government are now seeking to make that sugar liable to an excise duty. I wish to call special attention to the effect which this clause would have upon spirits, in order to demonstrate the absurdity of its application to sugar. The Bill provides that spirits in the stock, possession, or custody of a distiller, and upon which no duty of customs or excise has been paid, shall be deemed to be liable to excise. The excise duty proposed in this measure is lis. per gallon. The duty which formerly operated in Victoria was 10s. per gallon. Let us imagine the case of a distiller who has paid 10s. per gallon upon spirits, which he has taken out of bond, but which he has still in stock. Obviously, he should be charged the additional ls. per gallon, to make up the difference between the duty which he paid and the present duty.
– If he takes spirits out of bond, are they not beyond Customs control 1
– Undoubtedly they are, just as much as sugar is. The Government have expressly declared that they shall not be liable to the extra ls. per gallon necessary to bring the rates up to a parity. Let us take the case of an excise upon spirits in Western Australia. Formerly there was no excise duty upon spirits distilled in that State. Therefore, the spirits in stock there did not pay any excise. Consequently they would not be in bond, but in the custody of the distiller. Under this clause, those spirits would have to pay excise duty at the rate of lis. per gallon. But why should they pay 11s. per gallon, if spirits in Victoria only pay 10s, per gallon ? In South Australia, there was an excise duty of 9s.4d. per gallon upon spirits. Having paid that amount, we will assume that the distiller has taken his spirits into custody but has not yet sold them. In such circumstances he is relieved of any liability to pay the balance. I submit that it is impossible to rationally defend this clause. The Government may put it through by brute force, and oblige the unfortunate sugar manufacturer to pay it, but it is, nevertheless, one of the most illogical proposals of which I ever heard.
Senator MACFARLANE (Tasmania).I think that this clause should be omitted, because it seems to me that the Customs authorities themselves fear that they have done wrong, and now wish to legalize their action. Another reason why it should be eliminated is that it is urged - wrongly, I think - that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company could charge the excise duty to the consumer. But it so happens that that company is the only one which has been called upon to pay the excise. The Government proposal impresses me as being a very unfair one, and therefore I shall be quite willing to assist in striking it out.
– The object of this clause is perfectly clear. It is intended to prevent speculators from reaping a speculative profit. If any profit arises in this connexion it is the aim of the Government that the general public shall secure the benefit of it. Long before the introduction of the Tariff the possibility of an excise upon sugar was contemplated. The circumstances rendered it almost inevitable that such a duty should be imposed. The result was that manufacturers worked night and day in order to heap up enormous stocks prior to the 8th October. Consequently, some manufacturers have enormous stocks on hand at the present time. Yet this Chamber is now asked to declare that this excise duty shall be applicable only to sugar or other excisable goods which are manufactured hereafter.
– Subsequent to the 8th October.
– Precisely. Is it reasonable to suppose that manufacturers who have accumulated stocks in view of the imposition of an excise duty will make a difference in price between those stocks and sugar which was manufactured subsequent to the8th October ?
– But why should excise be charged upon it?
– Because it is a recognised customs means of protecting the revenue. The revenue would be seriously defrauded if this principle were not acknowledged. In other words, the manufacturer will have the benefit of an excise duty which he himself will extort from the public in regard to sugar manufactured prior to the 8th October. The question is whether the public revenue or the manufacturer shall get the benefit of the duty. Upon that matter the Senate should have no difficulty in coming to a conclusion. When the leader of the Opposition was speaking, I interjected that in principle there is absolutely no difference between goods in bond and goods which are sought to be taxed in this way. It might be urged by importers who have placed their goods in bond, that at the time they imported them the duty operating was only 5 per cent., whereas the Commonwealth Parliament had since increased it to 20 per cent. They might urge with equal justification that it would be inequitable that they should be asked to pay the extra 15 per cent. on taking their goods out of bond. Is there any possible difference in principle between that proposition and the one which has already been urged by my honorable friend ? I think there is none. If such a thing were possible, the importers, of course, would play the game of “ Heads I win, and tails you lose.” They would leave their goods in bond, and if, by any chance, the duty was remitted altogether, or was made less than that which was payable at the time they imported the goods, they would get the goods out of bond free, or reduced, as the case might be. If, on the other hand, they could only be charged the duty which was payable at the time of importation, it would encourage speculation, and prevent the operation of duties possibly for months, and even perhaps for years to come.
– Then why not provide for levelling up the excise on spirits?
– I am dealing with the argument of my honorable friend opposite when I lay down the proposition that there is no difference in principle in the case I have supposed - that the importer has a right to ask that he shall not be charged the additional 15 per cent. - and that of the importer who asks that he shall not be charged duty on any goods manufactured prior to the8th October. Under these circumstances, the duty of the Senate is to protect the public, and not deliberately to subsidise the manufacturers. Senator Clemons has mentioned a legal point, but I cannot think that he can put it seriously.
– I say that each State had its own control of customs and excise before the8th October, and that the Commonwealth had no control whatever until then.
-No, because the goods in stock before the8th October were not manufactured in bond or under supervision.
– But what this Parliament has the right to do is to look at what the manufacturer has in his possession.
– A very wrong thing.
– From an ethical standpoint it may be so regarded, no doubt, but it is a recognised principle in customs administration, and one which has to be enforced in order that the general public may not be injured, and that the public revenue may be protected. I think that the Government have, in this case, carried out their obvious duty, and in the interests of the general public we are called upon to accede to the clause in question, unless we are desirous of aiding and assisting speculators.
– Does the honorable and learned senator say that it is not outside the Constitution ?
– I say that it is not ultra vires.
– I confess I feel a good deal of doubt, on reading section 86, as to whether the clause referred to is not outside the Constitution ; because, although section 86 is by no means explicit, it certainly seems to imply that, until the date of the establishment of the Commonwealth, the Commonwealth Parliament has no power either to make laws, retrospective or otherwise, and the Executive has no control over customs or excise. But it is not on that ground that I am inclined to support the view put forward by Senator Symon. It seems that the intention of this clause is to render subject to duties of excise goods in the possession of persons, which goods have been free from duty or have never been passed through bond, and which were manufactured prior to the8th
October. That is, a person may have a large quantity of excisable goods that were manufactured before the8th October, but which have never paid any duties of customs or excise. Those goods are intended to be brought under the Bill, and to pay excise. The strong argument has been used - I see the force of it - by Senator Best that traders were piling up these manufactured goods for the purpose of escaping the payment of the excise which they contemplated. But I am entirely influenced in the view I hold by the illustration given by Senator Matheson. I can quite see that the object of the framers of this Bill is to prevent the trick that persons were disposed to play in loading up goods in order to evade the expected excise ; but we should not, in our efforts to countervail them, do an injustice. Take spirits. In Western Australia, as Senator Matheson has pointed out, there was no excise on spirits. Spirits paid in Victoria 10s., in South Australia 9s. 6d., and under the Commonwealth the duty is11s. Under the operation of this measure all spirits in the possession of any private person whatsoever in Western Australia become subject to this excise.
– Not any person ; read the terms of the clause.
– I will say that any spirits in Western Australia that answer the description of the clause will have to pay excise; that is to say, any spirits in Western Australia -
In the stock, custody, or possession of, or belonging to, any brewer, distiller, manufacturer, or refiner thereof, and on which no duty of customs or excise had been paid.
No excise has been paid on spirits in Western Australia. Therefore, spirits of this description in the possession of persons there have to pay this duty of11s. Is not that clear as regards Western Australia? Now take South Australia and Victoria. Persons of the same description in those States may have any quantity of spirits in their possession, but will not be called upon to pay excise.
– Have they not already paid customs ?
– This clause only hits at commodities in the possession of persons of the description mentioned, which have paid no duties of excise or customs.
– Ifwe are to have uniformity there must be anomalies when we begin ; we cannot help it.
– Let me try and show honorable senators that the anomaly unquestionably does exist. The fact of possessors of spirits in Victoria and South Australia having paid any duty whatever, no matter how small, exempts them from the operation of the clause, but because spirits in Western Australia have paid no duty they are subject to the full lis. I agree with Senator O’Connor that we cannot, in legislation of this kind, entirely get away from anomalies that may arise, but if effect can only be given to the intention by the creation of anomalies that are most unjust to one of the States, then do not let it be done in a retrospective manner. Let the anomalies begin at the Sth October, and do not cast back to a period before that time. Do not let the anomalies strike brutally hard at the possessor of spirits in Western Australia and only strike very lightly at the distiller of spirits in Victoria or South Australia. Do not let the anomaly be over-merciful to a person loaded up in South Australia who has paid 9s. 6d., and be hard on a person in Western Australia who has loaded up under no excise. I agree with what Senator Symon has said as to this retrospective legislation. We should be slow, indeed, to, carry it ; but when we find that retrospective legislation leads to the creation of anomalies that are most unfair to some States, we should be decidedly opposed to their creation. For that reason I shall vote for the omission of the provision in question.
– I have heard a good many things in my life which I did not believe, and there is one statement that I have heard from Senator Matheson that I certainly do not believe - though I do not mean to say that he made it in the way of an untruth. He evidently was under a misconception, because if, as he says, in Western Australia there has been no excise on spirits, and any man could make spirits there without paying anything at all to the State, all I can say is that it is astonishing to me that people have not gone to Western Australia and made fortunes by distilling. There is something wrong somewhere about the statement. If that statement is wrong, the backbone is taken out of Senator Harney’s argument, which falls to the ground like a pack of cards, and all the beautiful comparisons between Western Australia and other parts of the
Commonwealth go for nothing. The provision in clause 5 which is complained of is a right, intelligent, fair, and just provision. If there were no law such as is laid down here, it would be most unfair. Take the manufacture of sugar. A sugar manufacturer refines his sugar in bond. I speak from the experience of South Australia. The sugar is refined under Customs regulations, and officers are present to see the quantity of raw or rough sugar that the manufacturer converts into refined sugar.
– There is no excise in South Australia.
– But there is a duty on sugar, and a lower duty on the inferior kinds. I know that Customs officers are employed in connexion with the manufacture, because I had the appointment of one of the first officers whose duty it was to look after the refinery at Port Adelaide. These sugar refiners have had stocks in their possession upon whicli, in South Australia at all events, they have paid no duty whatever. They will now have to pay £3 per ton. If they are allowed to escape the excise duty they will still charge it to the general public. The general public will pay the excise, and the manufacturers will pocket the proceeds. Therefore I say that the whole principle of this clause is eminently fair and just. It is the same as the case of a merchant importing saddles to be put in bond, and who did not clear them out of bond till the Commonwealth Parliament had imposed a duty on saddles, which duty he had to pay. When we say that we will not allow these people to sell their sugar to the public at the same rate as they could have sold it before the excise duty was put on, we treat the manufacturer with these large stocks in precisely the same way as we treat the merchant who has stored his goods in bond, and we treat both alike fairly.
– I think there is very little doubt as to who will have to pay this excise duty. .The manufacturer, whether he has ‘ his sugar stored in a bonded store or in a store that is not a bonded store, will transfer the added price to the general public. It seems to be admitted all round that, if the goods are in bond, the duty should be imposed. We know perfectly well that there are some mills which, by reason of the imposition of duties, have bonded stores, .and there are other mills and other warehouses which have stores that are not bonded stores ; and therefore in eight cases out of ten it will be a mere accident whether the sugar is stored in a bonded store or not. For instance, one manufacturer may have 1,000 tons of sugar in a store which is registered as a bonded store, and under this law he will become liable for the duty. The adjoining store may be a free store, and another manufacturer may have 1,000 tons of sugar stored there. Why should the sugar stored in what is after all only technically a bonded store have the duty imposed upon it if the other is to go free? I cannot see any justification for that. The position is perfectly clear. The intention here is clearly that the manufacturer shall be liable to pay the excise duty upon the sugar he has stored, whether it be in a store registered as a bonded store or not, and he undoubtedly will pass it on to the general public.
– There has been no love lost between the Colonial Sugar Refining Company and myself in bygone years, because I have always objected to the protection the company have had upon sugar. But now that something is being proposed that strikes me as being unfair, I think it is only right that I should give expression to my views on the point, so that what looks tome very like an injustice should not be done to the company. I admit at once that it is only an injustice comparatively. That is the whole of the matter in dispute. Under this Tariff importers have had goods in every State in Australia which have escaped the new duties imposed. In every State of Australia, spirits, for instance, and sugar, have been largely held, and have escaped the new excise duties which have been imposed. The only thing I desireto know is why one particular company should be singled out to pay when every other company and every other importer have escaped.
– Is only one to be singled out, or is that merely a statement ?
– Perhaps Senator Drake will inform us who the others are. There may be one or two other holders of sugar in Queensland, but substantially it is the Colonial Sugar Refining Company at whom this blow is struck. The object of this clause is this : The Senate is asked to interfere between the law and the company, to prevent the company having any redress, whether it is legally entitled to it or not ; and also to prevent the question of the right of the company to redress being even discussed. It is that to which I take exception. I think it would be a fair and a right thing if this clause were eliminated when we come to deal with the Bill in committee, or, at any rate, that it should be so amended that it will not stand as a bar to justice being given to any person who may have held a certain stock of sugar. By justice, I simply mean that uniformity of treatment which has been experienced by other holders of goods upon which duties of customs or of excise have been imposed. In passing, let me say that this is another illustration of the troubles which attend the imposition of customs and excise duties. I am not an apologist for these duties, as I would gladly see everything of the sort swept away ; but so long as we have anything of this sort, I suppose it will be the desire of everybody that the law should be administered with as. great a degree of fairness as possible, and that we should not make fish of one and flesh of another.
– I think in a matter of this kind we ought to be governed by the facts of the case. It is all very well to be led away in this direction and that by sentiment; but we have a set of facts before us which I think cannot be contradicted, and on them it appears to me it is our duty to act. Now, what was the position in Queensland on the 8th October, so far as the Colonial Sugar Refining Company was concerned ? I suppose most honorable senators know that that company hold almost a monopoly of the sugar supply in Queensland. For months before the 8th October that company shut down, so far as it was possible to do so, upon all sales of sugar. Merchants who had given orders for, perhaps, 100 tons, could get only one ton. The company foresaw that something was going to happen under Federation, and held its stocks with an iron grasp until the8th October. What happened then? The price of sugar went up with a rush - £6 per ton. The supplies to the retailer began to flow, and the added price was passed on to the public. The Government came along with their excise, and now the company, after having passed the excise on to the retailers, and after the retailers have passed it on to the public, wish to get it back again from the Government. My contention is that the public have paid the excise duty, and the Colonial Sugar Refining Company is not entitled to get it back. If it can be proved that the company did not charge this excise duty to the public, I shall be willing to assist them in getting a rebate ; but the fact is, that the added price lias been paid by the public to the company.
– Not for some time.
– And in that case I do not see that the Government could very well do anything but what they are doing. Now, with regard to the cane-growers, a plea has been raised on their behalf. It must be known to every one here that the sugar stored by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company before the Sth October had been manufactured during the previous season, and under the old terms and conditions. The growers of the cane from which that sugar was manufactured had been paid the price contracted for without any reference whatever to any advance which might be expected under the altered conditions brought about by Federation. I can easily understand that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company is using the cane-growers to influence the Federal Parliament in this matter. It is quite evident that the company is astute enough to know that what honorable senators would not concede to a rich corporation they might be induced to concede to poor cane-growers. But, as I have said, the cane-growers supplied their cane to the company under the old conditions during the season previous to the Sth October.
– In this case that is denied.
– Does the honorable senator assert that, in the expectation of a rise in the price of sugar, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company paid their canegrowers more for cane 1
– Yes ; they paid the cone-growers on the selling price ?
– They have not said so in their petition.
– I do not know exactly when the cane season commences and ends at Cairns, but I believe that it usually begins about July and ends about Christmas time. I do not know what arrangements the Colonial Sugar Refining Company may have entered into with their cane-growers, but there is this aspect of the subject to be considered - that the Federal Government does not undertake to give any rebate on cane that is not grown by white labour, and the cane from which this sugar was produced must have been grown by black labour.
– Yes ; but why should we put an excise on sugar grown prior to the Pacific Island Labourers Act coming into force?
– Because the sugar was kept back by the manufacturers, and the reason why the Government put the excise on to the manufacturer is because the manufacturer has put it on to the public. That is the sole reason, so far as I can discover, and I am certainly inclined to support the Government in this matter.
– I interjected* when Senator Symon was speaking that this provision was put in to prevent fraud, and that is exactly what it is for. The same thing is done when the Government levy duties of customs. The duties are collected on the day when the Government announcement is made, absolutely without legal warrant, but by virtue of an unwritten law of the Constitution, because for the prevention of fraud that is absolutely necessary.
– That would be parallel if we levied customs duties upon goods imported before that was done.
– I fail to see the slightest difference between that case and this. Brown has got 1,000 tons in to-day, when there are no duties : Jones gets 1,000 tons in to-morrow when there are duties. Jones pays the excise duty, and charges it to his customers, no doubt. Brown charges the excise duty also, but he puts it into his own pocket. If we desire to talk from an ethical stand-point, is not ‘that fraud ?
– Not at all.
– In a certain sense it may not be fraud upon the revenue, but it is dishonesty in trade.
– No. Suppose the honorable senator buys an article for 1 0s. to-day, and another man buys it for £1 to-morrow, where is the fraud ?
– If the price of an article is 10s. to-day, and a duty of ls. is put upon it, and if I do not pay that duty, and yet charge another man 1 ls. for the article to-morrow, that is dishonest.
– That is happening under this Tariff every day.
– If the honorable and learned senator buys a debenture to-day at a certain price, and can get an increased price for it to-morrow, there is no dishonesty.
– I venture to say that if one person can sell his goods at a certain price, plus the duty, without having to pay the duty, and his neighbour sells at the same price, plus the duty, but has to pay the duty, the two traders are not in the same position, and one has an advantage over the other. What the Go vernment propose is absolutely necessary in order to produce fairness. All they say is that every manufacturer who had goods in his store on the day when the Tariff came intoforce shall be deemed to be holding them in a bonded store. It appears to me a most practical provision, and one that is perfectly just. Indeed, it is the only way to secure evenness of trade and to prevent dishonesty. Then I come to the point raised by Senator demons, as to whether Parliament can do this. He suggests that the Constitution will not allow it. The view I take is that the States could have levied duties upon goods in existence without reference to the time of their manufacture, and that the Commonwealth, when it obtained control of the Customs, was put into exactly the same position as that occupied by the States, and can do anything that they might have done. That is the view I take off-hand, and I think that further consideration will confirm me in it. I think that, both from an ethical and from a legal stand-point, the course proposed by the Government is one which has been well thought out, and is a right course to prevent persons dealing with goods from having an advantage one over another. I feel sure that that will be the view of honorable senators, and, although the debate has occupied some time, I believe that in committee we shall carry the Government proposal without muchmore argument.
– I wish to know from the VicePresident of the Executive Council why it is provided in clause 5 that the time from which the duties are to be levied is to be reckoned as four o’clock according to the standard time of the State of “Victoria. Section 37 of the Acts Interpretation Act provides that -
Where, in an Act, any reference to time occurs, such time shall, unless it be otherwise specifically stated, be deemed in each State or part of the Commonwealth to mean the standard or local time in that State or part of the Commonwealth.
New South Wales, Tasmania, Victoria, and Queensland all have the same standard time, while South Australia and Western Australia have different standard times. That being so, why shouldwe specify the standard time of Victoria - why should we not speak of the Commonwealth time? With reference to the discussion which has taken place upon the provisions of clause 5,I consider the proposition of the Government a most novel one. It seems to me unwise and undesirable to make duties date back in the manner proposed. Customs duties are necessarily deemed to have been imposed from the date on which the Tariff schedule was introduced, to prevent importers from hurriedly importing goods before the Tariff can be agreed to by Parliament. But that reason does not apply to excise duties upon goods already manufactured and heldwithin the Commonwealth, and in regard to which no fraud upon the revenue can be practised.
Senator O’CONNOR(In reply).- It is necessary to fix a definite time from which the Tariff shall be considered to have taken effect, and the date chosen was four o’clock, according to Victorian time, upon the afternoon of the day upon which the Tariff was introduced into the House of Representatives. Senator Neild asked why Commonwealth time was not referred to. There is no such thing. Time is regulated partly by the sun’s course and partly by the laws of the States. Certain States have one time and other States have other times, so that there are in fact three standard times in the Commonwealth, and it was desirable to fix one time for the whole Commonwealth. I do not intend to answer at any length the arguments of honorable senators against the provisions of clause 5, because I take it that the matter will have to be discussed over again in committee, though I hope not at the samelength. Honorable senators opposite have been completely answered by the speeches which have been made on this side of the chamber. Those who followed Senator Symon do not appear to object to the imposition of excise duties upon goods which are in bond ; they object to the goods being subject to excise when they are in the stock, custody, or possession of any brewer, distiller, manufacturer, or refiner.
– After they have become free of bond.
– They have never been free of bond, because the Excise Act, which came into force on the 5th October, prohibited the manufacture of the articles to which the Bill refers except in a factory registered under the Act,, and everything made in such a factory is made under Customs supervision, and becomes subject to Customs control. Immediately a duty is imposed upon certain articles, such articles cannot leave the control of the Customs until it has been paid. A merchant in New South “Wales having sugar in bond could, prior to Sth October, take it out by paying a duty of £3 per ton; but after that date he could not free it without paying £6 per ton. In the same way a man who had a lot of raw sugar in his refinery could, before the Sth October, have sold it without paying excise. But if he had not sold it by that date, it would be under Customs control, and therefore liable to the payment of excise. The principle has been applied for reasons which have been stated in various ways, and with various illustrations, by several honorable senators - to prevent frauds, the forestalling of duties, and speculation, on the passing of the Tariff. If we wish to protect the revenue in the case of excise as we do in the case of customs, we must have a clause of this kind.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Resolved (motion by Senator O’Connor) -
That the Excise Bill be committed to the same committee as the Customs Tariff Bill.
In Committee. (Consideration resumed, vide page 1261 ).
Clause 4 (Time of imposition of uniform duties).
– On the strength of what Senator O’Connor said I again raise the question of the Victorian time. It is quite true, as he stated, that the time is dependent ob the sun, and recognising that fact he will also be compelled to recognise, intellectually if not politically, that if he tries to apply to the western States Victorian time, or. the time that is in force by statute in the eastern States, every mile he goes further west he will have to calculate what Victorian time is at that spot. Four o’clock in Victoria will not be four o’clock in Western Australia, but something totally different. There will be a different time at Perth, Adelaide, and the Spencer Gulf ports. So that, when my honorable and learned friend is proposing what he thinks is very simple, he is creating a difficulty which the Customs officer will not be competent to discharge. He will probably have to call in the astronomer in each State’ to calculate what is the particular time he desires to designate. I think that the proposal instead of simplifying the matter will cause confusion.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 6 -
All duties of customs collected pursuant to any Tariff or Tariff alteration shall be deemed to have been lawfully imposed and collected, and no additional duty shall be payable on any goods on which duty was so collected, merely by reason that the rate at which the duty was so collected is less than the rate of duty specified in this Act, and no duty shall be payable in respect of goods delivered for home consumption free of duty pursuant to any Tariff or Tariff alteration.
– This clause is very debatable, because it proposes to validate the collection of duties on articles which were freed from duty by virture of the decision of the committee of the other House on which the Government have so far acted. I would ask the Minister to postpone consideration of the clause.
– I do not quite understand the objection to the clause, because it says that all duties of Customs collected pursuant to the Tariff shall be deemed to have been legally imposed, even although the articles may have been made duty free afterwards.
– The objection to the clause is that it provides against a refund of duty being mode. If, for instance, on the 1st January a duty was collected on an article by virtue of an Executive act, and on the 2nd January the committee of the other House decided that it should be admitted duty free, the man who imported on the 1st of January, and paid dutv on that day, is allowed no refund, but the mon who imported his article on the 2nd or 3rd January, duty free, stands in a much better position, and to the detriment of the former. It is1 because this clause is of such a debatable character, that I suggest that its consideration should be postponed to a more convenien t time.
– If the clause is to be debated, is it not better to take the discussion now ? It does not depend in any way on the schedule, and I suggest to my honorable friend that there is no good reason why it should not be dealt with right off. I presume that what he is directing my attention to is that it validates all collections, even in a case where the goods have been made duty free since the Tariff was introduced. Surely it is perfectly right that that should be so. The collection of duties under the Tariff has been made under no law, but under a constitutional usage. The constitutional usage is that the duties are collected, and after the law is passed the collection is validated. The collection of duty on an article was made by a constitutional usage up to the time when the other House pronounced against it, and from that time it has ceased. If there is a reason for validating collections which have been made up to the present time, surely that must apply all through whatever the time may have been? If we have collected duties for a week or for a month, or if we have collected duties up to the present time and some alterations were made in the rates by the other House, surely we must put them all on the same footing ? The principle is that, inasmuch as in the public interest we allow collections to be made which are against the law, we must validate the whole of those collections whether they extend over a long time or over a short time, or whether or not they are afterwards part of the Tariff’. The illegality was committed in the public interest. There is no other way of conserving the revenue and preventing fraud, except by the commission of that illegality. I think that the honorable senator will see that precisely the same principle that covers the validation of the collection of duties which ultimately become law, should cover the collection of duties which do not become law.
Senator Major GOULD (New South Wales). - I. recognise at once the constitutional practice that is followed with regard to the collection of duties once the Tariff’ is brought down and laid on the table of the House. It is necessary that some such action should be taken in order to prevent frauds on the revenue. We all recognise that it is, strictly speaking, an illegality, but this can be cured by subsequent legislation. My point is, however, that the legislation now proposed is entirely different from any that has ever been passed in any of the Australian States, and contrary to the practice that would be followed in a similar case in the old country. It is perfectly true that when once the House has given its assent to the collection of a particular duty it is proper to validate that which has been done previously by executive act only ; but when the House determines not to follow out the course taken by the Executive, and” decides that no duty shall be imposed, it virtually decides that no duty should ever have been collected.
– To whom would the honorable and learned senator make the refunds ?
– When Parliament decides that a duty shall not be imposed it virtually declares that the action of the Executive was wrong in the first instance, unless some peculiar circumstances, necessitated the levying of a duty for one, two, three, or four months, as the case might be. When Parliament reduces a duty, a refund should be made to the importers of the moneys collected in excess of the duty ultimately fixed, and when a duty is struck out altogether, the whole of the money collected under executive act should be refunded. With regard to the carbide of calcium to which I have previously directed the attention of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, a duty of £5 a ton was chargeable under the executive act of’ the Government. Carbide of calcium is a material that no bonded store will take in, because it is of an inflammable and highly dangerous character. Therefore, it became necessary for the importers to pay the duty of £5 a ton - amounting in the case to which I have referred to some £300- -immediately the goods were landed on the wharf. Shortly afterwards another shipment arrived under precisely the same circumstances, and the duty had to be paid . Within three days after that, the House of Representatives decided that no duty whatever should be imposed upon this article. It was quite imposible for the importers to do otherwise than pay the duty upon the arrival of the goods, and surely such a case ought to be dealt with very tenderly. When Parliament decides that a duty shall not be collected it is plainly a travesty of justice, for the Government to say - “We have the duty which you have paid, and we shall not take it out of our pockets in order to hand it back to you. We know very well that if Parliament had had an opportunity of considering this duty beforehand, they would never have consented to its being levied, but nevertheless we intend to retain the money.” I admit that the case which I have stated is perhaps as strong as any that could be quoted, but the same general principle would apply to other cases as well. The Vice-President of the Executive Council oaks to whom the duty should be refunded. I admit that refunds can only bo made to importers in cases where they have the articles still in stock and unsold.
SenatorO’Connor. - Any rule that is made must apply all round.
– If an importer can show the Customs authorities that he still has the goods upon which the duty has been paid, he should be entitled to a refund. When Parliament says that certain duties shall not be imposed, or only partially imposed, the Government have no right to withhold the repayment of the duties collected from those importers who stillretain their goods, and who are not able to pass the duty paid on to the consumers. That is the reason why I desire to see an alteration made, and as I am not ready with my amendment I hope the Vice-President of the Executive Council will consent to postpone the clause.
– I would urge the Vice-President of the Executive Council to take the course suggested by Senator Gould. It is acknowledged that the duties now being collected are not justified by law and’ that this clause is inserted for the purpose of validating what would otherwise be illegal. We are therefore warranted in calling upon the Government to show us good reasons for validating what has been illegally done. I understand the injustice which the Government desire to prevent. They say that the duties paid by the merchants have been charged to the consumers, and that therefore it is impossible to make any refunds. I admit that there is a good deal of force in that argument. At the same time I desire to point out that a number of persons may have goods in their possession upon which higher duties have been paid than those which are now operative. Consequently they will be compelled to sell them at a loss. Another class which will be hit still more severely consists of persons who have imported goods solely for their own use, and not for the purpose of sale. I know that in Western Australia thousands of pounds in excess of the present rates have been paid in duty upon mining machinery. It is admitted by the Government that but for the difficulty of ascertaining the particular person who has benefited from the imposition of duties, this clause would not be inserted. But I claim that it ought to be possible to draft a provision which will differentiate between the case of merchants who have obtained the benefit of an increased duty from the consumers, and that of others who, having paid such a duty, still have the goods in their possession. What I complain of is that where a lower duty has been imposed, the benefit will not be given to those who have paid the higher rate.
– This is a very important matter. It is much more important than the honorable and learned senator who initiated the debate thinks, inasmuch as it involves the whole question of refunds, which represents an enormous sum of money. We have thought it over very carefully, and it has been found impossible to arrive at any way of adjusting refunds so as to be fair to the consumers, the importers, and the public revenue. I shall, therefore, strongly oppose any attempt to amend the provision under consideration. Perhaps a night’s reflectionmay induce the honorable and learned senator to conclude that it is not necessary to make any concession, and therefore I ask leave to report progress.
Senate adjourned at 10.10 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 15 May 1902, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1902/19020515_senate_1_10/>.