1st Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I have a petition to present from 61 cane-growers in Queensland with reference to the excise duty on sugar. The petition is in order.
– Has the petition been certified to by the Clerk?
– No, it has not.
– Ishall ask the Clerk if it is in order.
– That is placing the Clerk above me.
– There is no prayer to this petition, and it is therefore not in order.
– I submit that there is a prayer to the petition.
– I have already ruled the petition out of order.
SenatorFRASER. - I have another petition from Mr. Anderson, the chairman of directors of the Australian Assets Company, who are interested in sugar plantations upon the Burdekin River.
– Has the Clerk certified to the petition as being correct?
SenatorFR ASER. - No, he has not, and I am not going to ask him.
– I shall ask the Clerk if the petition is in order. Having referred the matter to the Clerk, I find that there is no prayer to the petition, and it is therefore out of order.
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 21st May, 1902, vide page: 12749).
Division IV.- Agricultural Products and Groceries.
Item 14. - Butter and cheese, per lb. , 3d.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 14 by adding the words “ and on and after 1st July, 1902, butter, per lb., 2d., and cheese, per lb.,1d.”
This item is one of the anomalies of the Tariff. The duty of 3d. per lb. applies to both butter and cheese, although butter costs at least twice as much as does cheese. In order to make the duty proportionate to value - if there is to be a duty - it is necessary to deal with the two articles separately. If I were to carry out my own views, quite irrespective of other considerations which we must all more or less recognise, I should like to see both articles admitted free of duty: This duty is, of course, open to the great general objection that we free-traders take to duties of this description, namely, that it is a tax upon food. Further, the duty is not warranted as a means of affording direct protection. We export butter in large quantities, and there are no importations of the article. No revenue is derived from the duty, and is not likely to be, except in times of scarcity and stress. There is considerable revenue derived from cheese, and this we ought to encourage as far as possible. Our action in imposing a duty upon butter and cheese is not a very neighbourly or brotherly one, because it is directed mainly against New Zealand. There is no other country from which we could possibly import butter, arid there is no place from which we so largely import cheese. Whilst we have to look first to our own interests, we should avoid, if possible, striking an unfriendly blow at our neighbours in New Zealand. We should not impose undue taxation upon New Zealand butter, which may come to us in a time of scarcity, or upon New Zealand cheese, which - without impugning the quality of Australian cheese - is much better than our own in certain lines. The only possible reason why we should not interfere with a duty upon butter is that which was discussed at considerable length yesterday. Senator Glassey and others pointed out very forcibly that we must maintain duties of this kind, even though they are inoperative at ordinary times, so that if a season of scarcity and stress should arise the local producers might obtain the advantage of an increase in price equivalent to the duty before outside products could be introduced to compete with them. That is equivalent to saying that every human being should pay 3d. per lb. above outside rates for the local butter before supplies from abroad were introduced. Even from that point of view, a duty of 2d. per lb. upon butter would be ample in times of stress and scarcity. If such a condition of affairs ever arose in Australia - personally I do not anticipate it - an increase of 2d. per lb. in the price of butter would be sufficient advantage to give the local producer before the general community could derive the benefit of importations from other countries. I regard my proposal, therefore, as a very fair compromise. It is only under such conditions as I have mentioned that the revenue aspect of the question would present itself, and the reduced duty would undoubtedly tend to an increase of revenue, because imports would commence as soon as the price of local butter had been advanced 2d. beyond the ordinary level, and we should not have to take quite so much from the unfortunate consumer as would be involved under the present duty. So that I say, first, that as a matter of direct protection, we do not want the duty. It is merely an ornament, and is in the Tariff without any operation whatever. It is to operate only in times of scarcity, when prices run high. From the point of view of revenue, we should “temper the wind to the shorn lamb “ by exacting in times of difficulty a duty of 2d. instead of 3d. on cheese. The duty I propose to put on cheese bears the same proportion to its value as 2d. does to the value of butter. Of course, cheese is at present a revenueproducing article, and if we are to have any duty on foodstuffs we should make it low enough to aid the revenue, and at the same time not to be oppressive to the consumer. By lowering the duty to Id. that effect will be produced. The articles would be placed upon an equal footing, and the revenue would be enhanced. Although in Victoria there has been a very large pro,duction of cheese, it is a singular commentary upon the matter, from a revenue point of view, that the largest revenue collected in the six months ending 31st March last, under the existing Tariff, has been in Victoria. The figures are put under the heading of butter and cheese, but so far as I am aware no butter has been imported into Victoria, so that we may really look upon the figures as representing duty paid upon cheese imported. In New South Wales the revenue has been only £860 ; in Victoria it has been £3,696 ; in Queensland, the small sum of £231 ; in South Australia, £33S ; and in Tasmania, £76. The estimated receipts for a normal year are £4,062. Either that large increase in Victoria is due to the fact that there was a large quantity of cheese in bond - no doubt under the belief that the duty on the cheese might be lowered by the Federal Parliament - or there is some other reason ; but there is the fact that in Victoria there was collected an amount of revenue four times greater than that in New South Wales. If this duty were reduced to Id., cheese would be placed upon a fair proportional footing with butter. The additional price of 3d. on a lb. of cheese amounts, I am told, to over 33£ per cent, on an average.
On the higher-priced cheese the percentage, of course, is much lower; but the bulk of the cheese that we import is not fancy cheese, but is cheese from New Zealand. There is no doubt that by reducing the duty to Id. the price will be lowered to the consumer, because cheese is an article with regard to which the local manufacture, apparently, has not overtaken the consumption, and the revenue will be stimulated to a considerable extent. This being a tax on food, I appeal to honorable senators to view it from the stand-point that I have adopted, and to consider very gravely whether 2d. a lb. is not enough to put upon butter as an extra amount which the producer may make out of the consumer in times of scarcity when’ famine prices may prevail ; and with regard to cheese, I ask the committee to consider the double point of view, that of the consumer and that of the revenue, and to reduce the duty to Id.
– I oppose the motion. Looking at the matter first of all from a revenue point of view, the amount in question is certainly not negligible, because it is estimated that un,der a duty of 3d. per lb., applying both to cheese and butter, the sum of £4,062 will be received. According to the returns from October to March, there has actually been received £5,351 - that is to say, making an estimate of £150 for Western Australia, from which State returns have not been received. As Senator Symon has said with regard to Victoria, we have the extraordinary circumstance that the duty paid is four times as much as in any other State. The explanation of that is, I am informed by the Custom-house officers, that butter which was required to fulfil orders in Victoria has been imported from New Zealand. The exportation of butter from Victoria is very large, and, of course, the trade depends very largely on long-term contracts. A certain quantity has to be supplied, and there is no doubt that when butter is dear and scarce it may even be profitable to pay the duty and import New Zealand butter in order to fulfil orders. Of course, if the butter was to be re-exported, it would not pay duty. But the explanation I have given would account for a very large amount of the importation into Victoria. Certainly there is no other reason, so far as we can see, bearing one way or the other upon the duty under consideration, which will explain the large amount of importations of butter into Victoria. The practice of having a lower duty on butter than on cheese has been followed in most of the States. Leaving out New South Wales, where both butter and cheese were free of duty, we find that there was in Victoria a duty of 2d. per lb. on butter and 3d. per lb. on cheese. In Queensland there was 3d. per lb. on butter and 4d. per lb. on cheese ; in South Australia there was 2d. per lb. on butter, and1d. per lb. on cheese. In Tasmania and Western Australia there was the same duty on both articles. These duties were in most of the States put on for protective purposes. The reason why there was not so high a duty on butter as on cheese is that butter cannot be imported, even from New Zealand, except at certain times of the year, and without special provision for its care. It has to be frozen or carried in a freezing chamber, or packed in some special way. The freight on frozen stuff is higher than that on other goods. Cheese, however, may be brought from long distances without the special provision which is required for butter. The article, therefore, has not what may be described as the natural protection which exists in the case of butter. There is also another reason. The making of butter is a very simple process indeed. It may be made on almost any farm, although, of course, we are aware that the bulk of the butter now produced is made in factories. The making of cheese, however, is an industry requiring much more mechanical skill and more expensive appliances. Therefore, although the price of butter is higher than the price of cheese, it has been found necessary to put a higher duty on cheese to overcome the greater ease with which it may be imported from other places, and also to secure protection to theproduceronaccountof the superior mechanical skill and more expensive appliances required in its manufacture. Senators must see that there is really no ground for reversing what has been the practice of Australia hitherto.
– The practice of some of the States, but not of Australia.
– It has been the practice of all the States but one.
– And that is the principal State.
– In this matter New South Wales is no authority, seeing that in that State butter was admitted free.
In all the States where a duty was imposed, the practice has been that which I have stated. I am glad to find that Senator Symon in this matter is willing to recognise the principle that we cannot disregard the protective incidence of the Tariff, or the obligation to maintain protection wherever necessary for the producers.
– I do not recognise that principle - at any rate, that is not exactly how I put it.
– I want to put the matter with perfect fairness. I presume Senator Symon will admit that the protective incidence is a matter to be considered ?
– Certainly; we want to consider it in the spirit, as I said, of generosity.
– We do not want generosity. If this protection is not a matter of right, then I do not care about having it. That, however, is a point which can only be decided by numbers. Senator Symon is quite right in saying that the business of producing cheese and butter has become so extensive that we are now large exporters. . Notwithstanding that, however, we say that in the interests of the primary producer this duty ought to be maintained in order that the market may be secured for him, and he may thus be justified in investing his money in the business. That justification and that security can only be given if there be a certain duty imposed to interpose between the products of this country and the cheap products from abroad. Something has been said about this being an unbrotherly sort of tax in relation to New Zealand. I do not regard the matter from that point of view.
– Will Senator O’Connor accept the New Zealandrate of duty ?
– Will Senator Pulsford ask me something relevant to the matter before us ? If the honorable senator does want an answer, I say that I shall not accept the New Zealand duty.
– But there is no New Zealand duty.
– Exactly ; does the honorable senator suppose I do not know that fact as well as he himself does ? The question is whether we are entitled to maintain this duty for the purpose of preserving the existing protection ; and it is well to note the importation of butter and cheese into the Commonwealth during the last few years. In this connexion I should like to draw a distinction between cheese and butter. There will always be a certain importation of high-class cheesesfrom Canada, England, and the Continent, whatever the duty or whatever the cost may be, and a certain amount of revenue will always be derived. Some people are willing to pay an extra price for certain cheeses, and there is really no reason why these should not be taxed fairly high as articles of luxury. The probability is that the importation of such cheeses will not interfere with the ordinary class of cheese manufactured locally. Prom a return compiled by the Customs officers from the statistical records and other authorities, I find that in 1898 there were imported into New South Wales 506,768 lbs. of butter and 1,934,559 lbs. of cheese. In the same year the importation of butter into Victoria was 209,381 lbs., and of cheese 231,851 lbs. At that time there was no duty in New South Wales, but in Victoria there was a duty of 2d. per lb. on butter and 3d. per lb. on cheese; and it is interesting to note the immense difference in the importations from abroad in two States.
– May I suggest that a considerable portion of the importation into New South Wales was across the border ?
– These figures leave out all Inter-State trade and deal only with imports from outside the Commonwealth. The difference in the importation is very striking when we consider that Victoria has one-eighth less population and is a little over a third the size of New South Wales. It seems extraordinary, the cheese making facilities being fairly equal in both States, that there should be this difference, which was doubtless occasioned by the duty imposed in Victoria. Protectionists ask why should not New South Wales and every part of Australia employ our own people in the production of these immense quantities of cheese. In New South Wales it is necessary to import from abroad, but if Victoria may be taken as an illustration of what would happen under a protective duty, this product ought to be manufactured by the people of the former State. In 1899, the importationof butter into New South Wales amounted to 865,266 lbs., and of cheese, 2,472,520 lbs. InVictoria, the importation of butter in that year was only 189 lbs., and that of cheese, 54,132 lbs.
Here again, nothing but the existence of a duty in Victoria can account for the difference.
– Had the drought in New South Wales nothing to do with the difference ?
– Drought may, to a certain extent, affect the figures, but, if the honorable senator goes back over a number of years, he will find the same proportions maintained as between the two States. In 1900, the importation of butter into New South Wales was 211,222 lbs., and of cheese, 1,656,853 lbs. In the same year, the importation of butter into Victoria was only 50 lbs., and of cheese, 83,509 lbs. That was the position of Victoria, with a duty of 3d. per lb. on cheese, such as the Government now propose to maintain, as compared with New South Wales under free-trade. In Queensland, in 1898, there was, apparently, no importation of butter, but in that year the cheese imported amounted to 13,326 lbs. In South Australia in the same year the importation of butter was 23,405 lbs., and of cheese 19,169 lbs. ; and in Western Australia the butter imports amounted to 80,614 lbs., and those of cheese to 53,914 lbs.
– Do the figures include importations from New Zealand ?
– No doubt with regard to butter, and to a certain extent with regard to cheese, these importations were from New Zealand. In Tasmania, in 1898, the importation of butter was 324,973 lbs., and of cheese 114,019 lbs. I need not quote the figures for 1899 and 1900. They are on very much the same lines, and I shall be glad to show them to honorable senators who may wish to see them. The deduction which I draw from these figures, and which I think must be drawn by any person viewing them impartially, is that they measure the immense amount of protection to the producers engaged in these particular industries in the States. There is no industry of more importance to Australia than that of buttermaking and cheese-making. It employs a large number of people. It involves the use of an immense quantity of land, and the various sudsidiary industries helping and accompanying it also give employment to a large number of people. Considering the dimensions the industry has attained in Victoria and the other States under these particular duties, the Senate ought not in an airy way to cut down the protection hitherto afforded as proposed by Senator Symon. He proposes to reduce the protection on butter to 2d., and upon cheese from 3d. per lb. to1d. per lb. The proposal made by the honorable senator cuts down the protection upon cheese by 2d. in Victoria, 3d. in Queensland and South Australia, and1d. in Tasmania andWestern Australia, though I do not know that there is very much manufactured inWestern Australia. That is a very sweeping reduction to make in dealing with this industry. We have been asked, and will be asked over and over again when we come to deal with machinery, what we are going to do with the farmer and producer, but I say we mustlook at this Tariff as a whole. There are provisions in it which will give the benefit of protection to the farmer, which will help him at once, which will continue the protection he is getting now, and which will ensure a market for him and the permanency of his business. If we take away the protection of these duties from the farmer, they may very well say - “We were told the farmer was going to be helped. How ? By giving him cheap machinery?”
– I must ask the honorable and learned senator to deal with the item before the committee, and not to enter upon a general debate.
– I presume you will not decide the point of order without hearing what is to be said about it. This is a very important matter, and I understood when you enunciated the way in which you proposed dealing with this question you agreed that reference should be permitted from one subject toanother for purposes of illustration.
– It is impossible for me to illustrate the argument I was about to address to the committee without making a reference to another item.
– That is perfectly right. I intended that, by way of illustration, other items might be referred to, but I understood from the honorable and learned senator’s remarks that he was dealing with protection to farmers in a general way, as it appears on the face of the Tariff.
– My argument, if I may be allowed to state it again, is this : I say we cannot regard this item in the light of any isolated series of arguments, but must look at it as an item in a Tariff, and we must have regard to the effect which it has upon the producer. I say that if we take away the protection which this gives the producer under the Tariff there is nothing to compensate him for it.
– I cannot object to that. I understood the honorable and learned senator to be dealing with the matter from another stand-point, in making a reference to the duty upon machinery.
– Then I am afraid I did not make clear what I intended to say. I shall make a reference to machinery now, which I think will not be out of order. It is of very little use to tell the farmer that he is going to be benefited in other ways by this Tariff - for instance, by the cheapening of a machine which he may have to buy once in two or three years - if at the same time we take away from him the protection existing upon an article which he is producing every day in the week. If we are to have any regard for the position of the primary producer whose champions my honorable friends opposite have declared themselves to be, we shall not allow his income to be diminished and his position to be rendered insecure by taking away the protection under which his business has grown up. There is no reason, so far as the consumer is concerned, why this duty should be taken off. The price of butter and cheese of local production has not been increased by it. There is an abundance of cheese and butter produced here, as good as can be got anywhere in the world, and the people are willing to use it. The price will not be regulated by this duty in any way whatever, but the advantage of continuing this protection is that if it is removed altogether there may, and probably will be, times when, for instance, there will be a glut of cheese and butter in New Zealand, and when those articles may be sent here for sale at prices which will drive our . own gutter and cheese out of the market.
– Out of what market?
– They will send the glut to London, and not here.
– Does the honorable senator presume to prophesy that no circumstances will arise in which it will be better in the interests of the farmers of New Zealandto send that produce here rather than to London? It altogether depends upon the state of the market at the time, and unless the honorable senator is prepared to guarantee that there shall never be such a condition of the Australian markets as will pay the New Zealand farmers to send their produce here, how can he say that these duties are not justified? I am astonished to hear a sentiment of the kind from an honorable senator who is believed to be a protectionist. I think it is one of the first principles of protection that there shall be a duty imposed not only in the early days of an industry, but that it shall be maintained, for purposes explained at full length yesterday evening.
– For ever?
– For ever, if the honorable and learned senator likes, but at all events as long as there is any danger of the market being invaded by the foreign producer.
– There is no danger of the wool market being invaded.
– The honorable senator’s interjection is perfectly irrelevant, because he knows as well as I do that wool is not imported into Australia, and that cheese and butter are. We know there is alongside of us, in New Zealand, a place where cheese and butter are largely made, and from which they might at any time be sent here. The honorable senator has asked me why these importations should take place from New Zealand to Australia, and I point out at once that a very large quantity of butter and cheese was sent to New South Wales instead of to London. Of course there was no duty in New South Wales, but this proposal, so far as cheese is concerned, will cut down the duty to such a point as to provide very little protection.
– I have the figures before me, and I can tell the honorable and learned senator that very little butter was sent from New Zealand to Sydney.
– I hope the honorable senator will give us the benefit of his information later.
– The honorable senator might as well put a duty upon New Zealand coal, to keep it out of the Australian market.
– What connexion there is between coal and butter in the honorable senator’s mind I do not know, but they seem to me to have become mixed up there. I hope the committee will consider this matter carefully, and that the result of that consideration will be that Senator Symon’s proposal will not be carried.
– In discussing this matter, I intend toseparate these two items, butter and cheese. I do not intend to take the undue advantage that Senator O’Connor has taken of mixing them up. Whenever the honorable and learned senator has found it convenient, he has dealt with the duty proposed upon cheese as thoughthe article affected were butter. I intend first to deal solely with butter. I wish to say that we have heard a good deal about duties which are revenue duties, and duties which are protective duties, and I should like to know what sort of a duty the duty upon butter is. I regard it as a deceptive duty. It seems to me to be part and parcel of the confidence trick which the Government are endeavouring to play upon the farmers.
– I ask if it is in order for the honorable and learned senator to say that this is part of a confidence trick the Government are about to play upon the farmers. I agree with the remarks which the Chairman has made in connexion with the preservation ofdecent order in debate. I certainly think that to say that the Government are guilty of a confidence trick upon the farmers is not in order. If it is in order I shall be very much astonished at the objection taken to some observations made last evening as being out of order.
– May I say, without the Chairman giving a ruling, that if Senator O’Connor considers the remarks I have made offensive, I promptly withdraw them. I will not say that this is part of a confidence trick, but I will say that these duties fool the farmers with the idea that they are getting some protection. This is an attempt on the part of a Government which is a protectionist Government to extend protection to all classes - an impossible feat. It cannot be done, and these duties only fool the farmers with the idea that they will be getting protection on butter. Could anything be more absurd, in view of the fact that in the case of butter there is an enormous excess of exportation over importation? Senator O’Connor did not like an interjection with respect to coal; but I say without the slightest hesitation that there would be just as much justification for the Government to impose a tax upon gold, silver, lead, wheat, wool, hides, and other such articles produced in the Commonwealth and exported in large quantities as there is for a duty upon butter. That being so, with regard to this absurd duty upon butter, I do not care whether it is 2d. or 2s. per lb. ; but I shall be no party to passing in silence items in this Tariff which are simply an attempt to fool the farmers into the belief that they are getting protection. Since Senator O’Connor, with the consent of the Chairman, was permitted to discuss the position of the farmer under this Tariff, I may be allowed to say that my object throughout the discussion of the Tariff in the committee will be to assist the farmer in a genuine manner, and not by offering a kind of assistance which is sheer humbug. The duty upon butter is neither a revenue nor a protective duty. It is nothing better than a sham and a pretence. With regard to the duty upon cheese, the question arises - To what extent are we justified in imposing a revenue duty upon this article ? Whenever a revenue duty comes up for consideration, I shall make it my business to consider those who will be called upon to pay it. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has spoken of the duty upon cheese as a tax upon those who buy expensive cheeses imported from England. Such cheeses are certainly luxuries, and I should be prepared to heavily tax those who buy them ; but, as a matter of fact, the proposed duty will fall almost entirely upon the purchasers of New Zealand cheese, who belong very largely to the poorer classes.
– If the Government desired to deal fairly with all classes in connexion with this duty, they would impose an ad valorem rate.
SenatorCLEMONS.- Yes. But let us see to what the proposed duty is equivalent as an ad valorem duty upon New Zealand cheese, which I take to be worth 5½d. per lb. on the average.
– That is rather high.
– I prefer to be on the safe side. A duty of 3d. per lb. upon an article worth 5½d. per lb. is equivalent to an ad valorem duty of over 60 per cent. Is that a fair tax upon the consumers? Of course, the local manufacturers of cheese may be benefited to some extent by the exclusion of New Zealand cheese, but to impose a duty of over 60 per cent. upon an article of food is to allow protection to run mad. A duty of1d. per lb., however, is equivalent to only about 16½ per cent. ad valorem. Surely that is not too much to ask the consumers to pay, and will give sufficient protection to the local makers of cheese. Later on, we on this side will show that we are willing to do everything we can to assist the farmers in the prosecution of their industries. But would it not be an insult to them to say that they are so ignorant and incompetent that they cannot compete with the New Zealand farmers in the manufacture of cheese, even with the advantage of an import duty of 16 per cent. ?
– I think they would willingly pocket the insult, and accept the larger duty.
– However that may be, I do not think they will be deluded by the pretence of giving them protection by imposing a duty upon butter, which; whether it be 2d. or 2s. a lb., cannot be operative. I appeal to a protectionist like Senator Styles to say if a duty of 16 per cent. would not be sufficient protection to the farmers of Victoria.
– I am sorry that the honorable senator has such a poor opinion of the farmers of his State. I do not believe that the farmers of Australia are so far behind the farmers of New Zealand as to require a higher protective duty than 16 per cent., and I regard such a duty as a sufficiently high revenue duty.
– I should have been more inclined to attach importance to the arguments of Senator Clemons if he had told us that he would vote for the duties as they stand. He pointed out that under protection the manufacture of butter and cheese in Australia has developed into a splendid industry, so that we have now become in regard to those products a large exporting country, and he argued that, therefore, an import duty would be inoperative, and that to propose such a duty would be simply to attempt to fool our farmers. For that reasonhe said he would as soon vote for a duty of 2s. per lb. as for a duty of 2d. per lb. The duty proposed by the Government, however, is a duty of 3d. per lb., and the honorable and learned senator tells us that he is prepared to vote for a reduction to 2d. per lb. But by reducing the import duty he will enable foreign producers of butter to send their produce into this market. It is true that Australia at the present time exports an enormous quantity of butter. In1900 New South Wales exported over 10,000,000 lbs. and Victoria over 32,000,000 lbs. of butter, but there was, nevertheless, a certain quantity imported, and Senator Clemons wishes to increase the importation by lowering the import duty.
– How much butter is imported into Australia ?
– The figures have been given by the Vice-President of the Executive Council. In 1898 New South Wales imported 506,000 lbs., and Victoria 209,000 lbs.
– But the imports of New South Wales represent largely the consumption of South Australian butter by the people of Broken Hill.
– Inasmuch as importation is still going on, if the import duty is lowered the importation will increase, and will take the place of the locallymanufactured article to the extent of the increase. By reducing the import duty, we shall undo the work which has been done in building up our existing industry.
– What will be the increase inthe importation of butter if the duty is reduced to 2d. per lb.?
– It is very difficult to make an estimate, but, since a duty of 3d., and in some cases of 4d. per lb., has not entirely prevented the importation of butter, it is clear that the reduction of the duty to 2d. per lb. would increase the importation. With regard to cheese, I accept Senator Clemons’ valuation of the New Zealand article at 5½d. per lb., though my information is that the average price of the whole of the cheese that has been imported into the Commonwealth is 9½d. per lb If 5½d. per lb. is a fair average price for New Zealand cheese, it must have represented a very small proportion of the total importations, and we must have imported a very considerable quantity of cheese of higher value, including Italian and Swiss cheese, such as Parmesan and Gruyere, and English cheeses such as Cheddar and Stilton. If we deduct the value of the New Zealand cheese, which is stated at 5½d. per lb., the cost of the foreign cheeses must be very much higher - in fact I know that some of them are worth as much as 2s. per lb. Upon these highly expensive cheeses, which are consumed by the well-to-do people, a duty of 3d. per lb. would be a purely revenue duty. According to Senator demons, New Zealand cheese is of exactly the same character as that which is principally made by our farmers, whom we desire to help. Is it not perfectly clear, therefore, that the New Zealand article comes into direct competition with our farmers, and that to the extent to which we admit New Zealand cheese, we shall injure our own producers? In 1898 New SouthWales imported nearly 2,000,000 lbs. of cheese. According to Senator Clemons, this would come principally from New Zealand, and. would thus enter into direct competition with the local producers. Cheese was free of duty in New South Wales. In the, same year Victoria imported only 231,000 lbs. of cheese. Here we see the results of the opposite policies. Will Senator Clemons tell us that it would not benefit the people who are producing cheese in Australia if these enormous importations were checked ?
– The honorable and learned senator would stop them altogether.
– If the duty of 3d. per lb. had that effect, our own people would no doubt be well able to supply all our requirements by providing us with a good article at a low price.
– We find that the cheese imported into Western Australia averaged 53/4d. per lb. That included cheeses of all sorts.
– That was, no doubt, principally New Zealand cheese. There connot be the slightest doubt that if the duty is reduced as now proposed, there will be a flood of importations from New Zealand, which will have the effect of discouraging our farmers and undoing much of the good work that has already been accomplished in building up the industry. I do not see how any one who votes for a reduction of this duty can claim that he is a friend of the struggling farmer.
– The Postmaster-General has told us that the butter and cheese industry has been built up by protection, but he forgets that in the free-trade State of New South Wales the industry has assumed almost the same magnitude as in Victoria. He forgets also that the great competitor of which he is so much afraid, namely,. New Zealand, imposes no duty upon butter or cheese. Every one knows perfectly well that the butter and cheese industry in Australia has not grown up as the result of protective duties. The prices of butter in Australia and New Zealand are regulated by the rates ruling in the London market, and consequently the prices in both places must necessarily be about the same. If the duty results in raising the prices of butter i and cheese thus enabling the farmer to -secure more for his produce, it will operate to the prejudice of the people of Western Australia, who joined the Federation in the belief that Victoria would not be unreasonable in asking for protection, and that the people of the back-blocks would not be bled for the benefit of others living under more favorable conditions. Senator O’Connor has said that there is no .parallel between imposing a duty upon coal and levying a duty upon butter. I claim, however, that the cases are exactly on the same footing, because we are producers and exporters of both coal and butter. The Government have the impudence to tell the farmer that they are going to benefit him by imposing a duty upon butter. They ‘might as well tell the coal-miners that although enormous quantities of coal were being exported, and the industry was in need of no protection, it was proposed to place a duty of 6d. per ton on coal in order to benefit the miners. Supposing they told the coal-miners that the duty was to be imposed for their benefit as a set-off against a heavy duty upon machinery, would they not be fooling the coal-miners in the same way that they are now deceiving the farmers 3 They are pre. tending to confer a benefit upon the farmers by imposing a duty upon butter, whilst they -are at the same time asking them to pay heavy duties upon agricultural machinery. The tax upon machinery will injure the farmers, but the duty upon butter, which it is pretended will compensate them, will prove absolutely ineffective. The Government proposal is nothing short of a swindle and a political lie. The farmers are being told that as a 66 per cent, protective duty is to be imposed upon their butter and cheese, whilst they will have to pay only 25 per cent, duty upon their machinery, there will, therefore, be a considerable balance in their favour. The Government, however, do not tell the fanners that they will have to pay the 25 per cent., and that they will never receive any benefit from the 66 per cent, protective duty. Honorable senators who say that the Government proposal is an imposition upon the farmers, and a swindle upon the electors generally, are using very moderate language indeed. I look upon it as nothing more nor less than an attempt to make a section of the community believe that the Government are their friends, and that the free-trailers are endeavouring to do them some substantial harm, whereas in reality the Government are offering them something which is worth absolutely nothing, and, on the other hand, are taking out of their pockets 25 per cent, on their machinery.
– I look upon an import duty upon butter in the same light that I should regard a duty on wool, hides, skins, wheat, or oats. Such a duty does not benefit the farmer one iota. The stream of exportation is the other way - to London - and has been for years. How can any honorable senator say that the farmer will benefit by an import duty on butter ? Such a contention is protection run mad. I am a large exporter of many commodities. I farm 300 acres and irrigate 80 acres. I know what I am talking about, and I say that to impose a duty of this kind is to throw dust in the eyes of the farmers, who, so far from requiring a duty on butter have been exporting to the value of £1,250,000 worth per annum. Possibly we are exporting less during the present year owing to the dreadful devastating drought which is now ruling all over the continent. Cheese is not in the same category as butter, because we are not producing as much as we consume. The reason for this is that it is much simpler and more profitable to produce butter than cheese. The dairy farmer, with the aid of a little machinery, which costs only a few pounds, can take the cream off his milk once or twice a day, convey it to a butter factory seventeen or eighteen miles away, and secure a very good profit. It is laborious work, but there is no difficulty about it ; and now even the laborious part of it is greatly mitigated by. the fact that there is an effective milking machine available, greatly reducing the drudgery which in the past existed in connexion with dairying. Consequently, I do not anticipate that the farmers of this country will take to cheesemaking as they have done to butter-making. I am not so conversant with the condition of things in New Zealand, but I am thoroughly well acquainted with the state of things in this State. We are wasting our time over an import duty that will not be of the slightest use. Even in Western Australia, where they have imported £188,147 worth of butter, and have a duty of 2d. per lb., the quantity imported from foreign countries amounted to only £331 in value, and all the rest came from the federated States. I have been lectured on account of my political views. Well, I hope I am not a political fool. I have lived 50 years in Australia, and have worked very hard, and surely I know a little about production. It is an idle beating of the wind to discuss a duty of this kind, because it will be of no avail. Of course, the present circumstances are exceptional. We have never had such a bad time as we have at present during the whole of the 50 years I have been in Australia. From the Murray to the Gulf of Carpentaria the country is one howling devastated wilderness, with hardly a tank containing a drop of water. Yet this Government would befool the farmers by putting a duty on butter. I have warned the Government months ago that I did not care about their goings on, and I will repeat the warning. The. Vice-President of the Executive Council has gone out of his way to give me a lecture ; but I am not to be driven. I will do what my conscience tells me to be right, irrespective of any driving or coaxing. I am not in favour of a duty of 3d. per lb. on butter, and I shall vote for Senator Symon’s motion.
– I think the committee have reason to complain of the character of the figures which have been put before us by members of the Government. I am not aware that any one figure or statement which has been quoted is in itself incorrect, but at the same time, by reason of their incompleteness, and their not covering the whole ground, they have been extremely misleading. Take the statements made by Senator Drake with regard to the value of cheese imported. The figures for the importation of cheese into New South Wales during 1900 show that the total value was £46,094, and that the value per lb. was less than 5½d.
– I was giving the figures for the whole Commonwealth.
- Senator Drake’s figures led him to state that the value was about 9d. per lb. The figures I have quoted are taken from the New South Wales Statistical Register. Of the £46,000 worth of cheese imported into New South Wales about £42,000 worth came from New Zealand, Canada, or the other States of the Commonwealth. Figures have also been quoted to show that New South Wales is in a bad condition, and needs protection. With regard to butter, I find that in 1897 New South Wales exported to the extent of 6,000,000 lbs. ; in 1898 she exported over 9,000,000 lbs.; in 1899 about 8,000,000 lbs., and in 1900 considerably over 10,000,000 lbs. Surely it is clear that the position of the butter industry has quite passed beyond the possibility of any advantage being derived from a customs duty. What does it matter if we do import a few pounds of butter as long as we are exporting to the extent I have mentioned? Senator O’Connor did not correctly represent the position. From what he said the committee would be led to expect that what was proposed was a fair and reasonable compromise between the duties in force in the States. But nothing of the sort is the case. In the first place, in New South Wales, butter was free. The duty proposed by Senator Symon has been for some time the Victorian rate, though it is not the rate which Senator O’Connor now desires. In Queensland the duty has been 3d ; in South Australia, Tasmania, and Western Australia it has been only 2d. per lb. Why, then, should we have all this talk about the farmers being threatened with ruin if the duty of 3d. per lb. is not imposed on butter ? This, as has already been said, is a deliberate attempt to fool the farmers. Further than that, in Canada there is a duty of 2d. per lb. on butter, and I desire honorable senators to notice that in Canada the duty on cheese is less than that on butter. In Canada the duty on cheese is only 1½d. per lb. We must remember that in New Zealand, cheese is absolutely free, and, although that is a protective colony, there seems to be a willingness to represent things fairly to the farmers, and not ask them to believe that they are enjoying a protection which does not exist. It is a singular fact that whilst care is taken by the Government to impose a considerable duty on butter, butterine or oleomargarine does not appear in the Tariff, and is therefore free. In the Customs Bill, as originally introduced, butterine was amongst the prohibited articles ; but an amendment was made by the Senate allowing its importation under certain conditions, and all this time the farmers of Australia have been exposed to the serious danger of a flood of butterine which, however, has not arrived. “What a comment this is on the protective policy of the Government, and on the alleged advantage of a duty on butter !
– If Senator Clemons, as it appears, does not care whether the duty on butter be 2d. or 2s. per lb., why should a duty of 3d. be objected to ? Five out of the six Parliaments of Australia imposed a duty on butter and cheese. In Queensland the duty was 3d. per lb. on butter and 4d. per lb. on cheese ; and we may take it that the Parliament of that State know better than we do what is to the advantage of their people. If a duty of 2d. is enough for Victoria, but is said .to be not enough for Queensland, the views of the latter State ought to have some little weight with the Senate.
– Then why not continue butter duty free in New South Wales ?
– New South Wales imports in large quantities.
– And exports large quantities.
– And exports some. Where New South Wales exports 7,750,000 lbs. of butter Victoria exports 36,250,000 lbs., while only 27,000 lbs. of butter is imported into Victoria as against 3,438,000 lbs. into New South Wales. We have been told that to impose this duty is simply befooling the farmers. But is there not another aspect to the question ? Are the free-traders, headed by Senator Symon, not fooling the farmers ?
– No ; we are helping them.
– The free-traders are going to tell the farmers that it does not matter about removing the duties on butter and cheese, because by-and-by the duties on machinery are going to be reduced as far as possible.
– The farmers get no benefit from the butter duty.
– Does not the difference between the importation into New South Wales and Victoria show that the farmers in the latter State are benefited by a duty?
– Not a halfpenny ; Victorian farmers exported under a’ bonus.
– We are told that owing to the freights we have nothing to fear from New Zealand ; but butter costs only £1 per ton, or under half a farthing per lb. to bring across the sca. New Zealand is a wonderfully fertile country owing to the plentiful rainfall and the nature of the soil, and crops there average nearly three times as much as those in Australia over a period of ten years. Is it anywonder, that that colony can produce cheese and compete against the world? It is said that no butter is sent from New Zealand to Victoria, but only a year ago there was a law suit here over some butter which had been imported from that colony, and was said to be not of the quality purchased.
– In Victoria a bonus was being paid in order to send butter out of the country.
– That has nothing to do with the importation of butter into Victoria.
– Surely ? It paid .better to export the butter ?
– The farmers in Australia will be injured if butter better than that produced locally is imported from New Zealand. Senator Clemons is like Mr. George Reid, when the latter spoke to the people of Melbourne about free-trade exposing the farmers to the cold southerly winds of the world’s competition.
– I must ask the honorable senator to keep to the item before the committee.
– If the Chairman would allow a little latitude he would not have so much trouble ; this is a difficult subject on which there is great diversity of opinion. If the proposed duty on butter will do no harm and do no good, why should it be removed or reduced ? But Senator Drake clearly pointed out that a reduction of the duty means the increased importation of commodities which can be produced here in sufficient quantities to supply the whole of the Commonwealth. Why not preserve a market for those engaged not in an “artificial” or “secondary” industry, but in one of the natural industries of which we have heard so much ?
– Senator O’Connor is never so eloquent as when dwelling on the necessities of the poor farmers in connexion with a duty which does not assist them in any way. This is one of our great exporting industries, and a duty of 3d. per lb. can be of benefit to the farmers only under very exceptional circumstances. Senator O’Connor is very eloquent on what he describes as an attempt on the part of freetraders to injure the farming industry and I shall be anxious to know his attitude when we come to deal with the duties of machinery, hats, boots, and other commodities, in which farmers and the community generally are deeply interested. Those who oppose these duties have been described as “ fanatical “ free-traders, who use “ nonsensical “ arguments ; but I think the terms would more appropriately apply to theo remarks of Senator O’Connor. This industry has become so large, that the idea of protecting it is absurd. In 1889 the export of butter from Victoria amounted to 505,000 lbs., and in 1899 to 26,000,000 lbs. In New South Wales, under absolute free-trade, the export in “1889 was 284,000 lbs., and in 1899 it was 7,000,000 lbs. The Government have time and again dwelt on the necessity of “ revenue without destruction yet in five out of the six States, the proposal in the Tariff means an increase in the duty by no less than 50 per cent. Every State in the Commonwealth, with the exception of Western Australia, is exporting butter. In that one State, duties amounting to £200,000 a year are paid on butter, and thousands of pounds are expended in the same way in connexion with cheese. The five States only export for about five months in the year, there being some seven months from Christmas onwards, during which there is scarcely any exportation. Western Australia is an enormous consumer of butter and cheese, and unless during that time she has an opportunity of importing these articles from some other place, such as New Zealand, her people may have to suffer very great hardship, because her importation of butter and cheese goes on just the same during the seven months in which the States of Australia produce only enough for their own requirements. Why should this proposal cause all this consternation amongst protectionists ? I suppose I shall be correct in saying that the average price of butter is lOd. per lb. We are proposing a duty of 2d. per lb., which is equal to an ad valorem duty of 20 per cent.
Surely that cannot be construed, even tj protectionists, as revenue with destruction. I should like to see the duty swept off altogether, but we find protectionists fighting this proposal to impose a duty equal to 20 per cent, ad valorem. I think that in this matter the Vice-President of the Executive Council is carrying out the threat he made in his second-reading speech to fight every proposal from this side, whether or not it could be shown that there was anything in the Tariff which should be altered, and whether or not the proposal was reasonable. That is not a reasonable spirit to adopt, and the proposal now made is an eminently fair one. The duty proposed on cheese is a prohibitive duty. The revenue estimated in a normal year from the duties proposed upon butter and cheese amounts to £4,062 ; but I point out that a duty of 3d. per lb. on New Zealand cheese, which is imported at 5d. per lb., is equivalent to a duty of no less than 60 per cent, ad valorem. We have to import a considerable quantity of cheese into Western Australia from New Zealand, and it appears that the Commonwealth is going to insist upon our paying a duty of 60 per cent, upon this article, which our honorable friends in the labour corner will admit is a necessary of life.
– Are they going to take the duty off in Western Australia ?
– I am not speaking of the Inter-State duty, which was not imposed by the people of Western Australia, but by a member of the present Federal Cabinet, and against the wishes of the people of Western Australia.
– Then why does not the Western Australian Parliament take it off?
– They will as soon as they get proper representation in Western Australia. We were told that we did not export cheese, and did not supply our own requirements. But I find that in 1889, Australia imported 2,600,000 lbs. of cheese, of which 2,400,000 lbs. was imported by New South Wales, and that in the same year Australia exported 5,000,000 lbs. of cheese. It is, therefore, clear that our exports of cheese were very much larger than our imports. We are proposing now a duty of Id. per lb. upon cheese, and at a selling price of 5d. per lb. that is equivalent to an ad valorem duty of 20 per cent., which must be admitted to be reasonable. The Government might have accepted a reasonable proposal of this nature if Senator O’Connor had not in his second-reading speech declared that he would oppose every proposal made by this side.
– I thought that after a calm night’s sleep Senator Symon would come to-day with some more cheering news than that he intended to renew his attack upon the industries established in the different States. Instead of that the honorable and learned senator comes down with his tomahawk freshly sharpened and prepared to renew his attack.
– I must ask the honorable senator not to continue general remarks.
– We are to be considered a lot of ignoramuses in protected States. That is the logic, if there be any logic, in the argument of the other side. We are to be considered a lot of numskulls, who did not know our own business and who have acted in a way which has been destructive to the best interests of our States. That is the plea put forward by honorable senators on the other side, who wish to confer wonderful benefits upon the farming population. We attempted to protect butter and cheese in Queensland to a limited degree in 1888. In that year we derived a revenue of upwards of £13,000 from those two articles. Did the people get them cheaply and good at that time ? I have said that I have been a fairly extensive householder for many years. I have been a purchaser of these articles to a considerable extent, and I know that they were neither as good nor as cheap in those days as they are to-day under the beneficent operation of protection. In those days butter and cheese were imported from different parts of the world. They were brought long distances, and kept a considerable time in warehouses, and the people had to put up with old butter and cheese, instead of getting fresh butter and cheese, as they do to-day. The prices, too, were infinitely higher, and I have had to pay as much as 2s. 6d. and 3s. per lb. for inferior butter, and as much as ls. 6d. per lb. for inferior cheese. I mentioned last night the enormous strides which farming has made in Queensland within the last few years. Has that been due to free imports of farming produce ? Not at all. It has been in consequence of the imposition of protective duties which gave encouragement to farmers, and as a result butter and cheese are now secured by the people daily at far less expense than previously. I have said that the revenue derived from butter and cheese in 1888 amounted to over £13,000, but the revenue derived in Queensland from those articles in 1900 was only a little more than £500. It has been alleged that the protection afforded has been in no wise beneficial, and that freetrade would have been much better. T wonder if the farming community will agree with the statements made by our honorable friends opposite that protection has been pf no value to them. I wonder if they will be gulled and deluded by the platitudes used by honorable senators opposite. I say that the progress made in agriculture within the last few years, and which we hope will eontinue to be made, cannot be maintained if these particular duties are removed or reduced to such an extent as to be of comparatively little value in the way of protection to people engaged upon the soil. I hope the proposal that the duty should be 2d. per lb. will not be carried. We tried a duty of 2d. per lb. on butter in Queensland, and we were obliged to increase it to 3d. Were we such a lot of numskulls up there that we did not know our own business ? We tried a low duty, upon cheese, and were subsequently obliged to increase it to 4d. per lb. Again I ask whether we were not competent to manage our own business. We were told before federation that the Federal Parliament would be able to decide what was best and wisest in the interests of the States, but if the people of Queensland could have brought themselves to believe that a fatal blow was likely to be struck at their industries by the Federal Parliament
– I must ask the honorable senator not to enter upon that subject, which has already been sufficiently discussed.
– I am not anxious to come into conflict with the Chair, but surely we are entitled to give illustrations and to draw conclusions from them ? I say that we in Queensland found it necessary to put on these duties to encourage the production of the articles we required. That protection has been highly beneficial to Queensland as a State in encouraging the agricultural industry, and it has also been beneficial to the consumer.
– Queensland wanted the Commonwealth as a market.
– That was looked forward to as one of the advantages to. he gained by our entering a union which I am glad has been brought about, and which, I may be permitted to say without egotism, I did a reasonable share to accomplish. For what . reason ? So that the fiscal barriers might be removed, and that there might be free interchange of commodities among, perhaps, the most homogeneous people in the world. In Queensland we tried low duties, and they failed, but when we increased our duties success attended our efforts. I ask honorable senators to show a federal spirit, and retain the State duties. On some points the protectionists may have to give way, and on other points free-traders may have to give way, but in this instance the duties have proved so beneficial to Queensland and to other States that to reduce them as proposed would be detrimental to our interests and destructive to our industries. I have sold thousands of pounds’ worth of butter and cheese in the old country, so that I know something about this matter. The buttermaking industry has increased to a larger extent than the cheese-making industry because it is a simpler matter to produce good butter than to produce good cheese ; b’ut if the producers and the consumers are to continue to enjoy the benefits which they now obtain from the existence of these industries, we must give them the protection which is required. While the duties may in some instances be inoperative, the time may come when- they will be operative. I can understand that Senator Smith and other Western Australian senators should be in favour of reducing the duties, because the people of their State consume a much larger quantity of butter and cheese than they produce ; but surely the system which has proved beneficial to the people of other States is one which ultimately must benefit Western Australia, and one which it would be unwise for the Commonwealth to abandon. I hope that the reduction of the duty upon butter will not be carried, and that every hair’s breadth of the ground will be contested before we allow the duty upon cheese to be reduced.
– As a Queenslander, I cannot allow the motion to pass without saying a word or two, although the matter has been rather fully debated.
Queensland has special claims for consideration, and, through her Premier, is at present appealing to the Senate for justice. In passing, I wish to again protest against the suddenness with which the motion has been sprung upon the committee. Although the free-trade party profess to be anxious to assist the farmers, they have hitherto shown their practical sympathy only by knocking off the duty upon arrowroot, and reducing the duty upon bacon and hams, and now they propose to reduce the duty upon butter and cheese. The Treasurer does not expect to receive a very large sum from the proposed duties, and certain honorable senators therefore jump to the conclusion that the duties will be inoperative. They blindly refuse to recognise the real facts - and I suppose I may use the term “ blindly,” since we who support the duties have been termed stupid people, swindlers, and confidence men by honorable senators who are such paragons of good taste
– The only statement made this afternoon was that the item was a swindle, and that statement was immediately withdrawn.
– Senator Ewing spoke about the stupidity of those who support the Government proposals, and said that the Government party are trying to fool the farmers, and that their proposals amount to a swindle, which was only another way of saying that those who support the Government are swindlers. In Queensland, with the assistance of protective duties, and the encouragement which the Government have given to the farming industry by theestablishment of agricultural colleges to teach people how to farm, we have built up a very large butter and cheese-making industry. Butter factories have been established at Allora, Beaudesert, Biggenden, Brisbane, Bundaberg, Caboolture, Childers, Crows Nest, Dugandan, Esk, Gatton, Gympie, Harrisville, Highfield, Ipswich, Logan, Mackay, Marburg, Maroochy, Maryborough, Redcliffe, Rockhampton, Rosewood, South Brisbane, Tiaro, Toowoomba, Warwick, Woodford, and other districts. In all there were, in 1900, 3,630 establishments handling cream and butter. When honorable senators argue that the duties will be inoperative, because Australia is a large exporter of butter and cheese, they forget how strong a competitor the Argentine is in wool and other produce, and it may be that if the duties are removed, butter and cheese produced by coloured labour will be exported into the Commonwealth from the Argentine at prices which will seriously affect the local market. Senator Clemons spoke of the price of New Zealand cheese as being less than 5Jd. per lb., but in 1898 the average prices current in New Zealand were - in the Auckland district from 4d. to 6d. per lb.; in the Taranaki district, 7d. per lb.; in the Hawkes Bay district, 6d. per lb.; in the Wellington district, 5d. to 6d. per lb.; in the Marlborough and Nelson districts, 5£d. per lb.; in the Westland district, 7’d. per lb.; in the Canterbury district, 4£d. per lb.; and in the Otago district, from 4£ to 7d. per lb. In Brisbane, in 1900, the retail price of New Zealand cheese was ls. 2d. per lb.; of English cheese, from ls. to ls. 4d. per lb.; and of Queensland cheese from 7d. to 9d. per lb.; so that in spite of the duty of 4d. per lb. there is a considerable importation of cheese into Queensland. Queensland in that year was importing cheese from the United Kingdom, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Germany, France, Switzerland, Holland, Denmark, and the United States of America. The great importing industry which Senator Pulsford and others seem to be so anxious to protect employs only a few clerks and typewriters in sending away, orders to foreign countries, and its importance cannot be compared with that of dairying and farming generally. If Queensland has been importing cheese subject to a duty of 4d. per lb.,’ what may the Queensland farmers expect if the duty ls reduced -to 2d. per lb 1 Some honorable senators have spoken about the farmers being fooled by the imposition of a duty upon butter and cheese, but I would point out that nearly the whole of the farmers, even in the free-trade State of New South Wales, are protectionists.
Honorable Senators. - No.
– Some of them may be free-traders with regard to the introduction of agricultural machinery, but they favour the imposition of duties upon agricultural products. The farmers throughout Queensland know what is good for them, and are protectionists, and the Government are npt fooling them, but are carrying out their wishes, and are also studying the interests of the farmers throughout the Commonwealth. Senators who now adversely criticise the action of the Government are fooling the public by leading them to believe that, if the duties are reduced, cheaper butter will be supplied to them by the importers, whereas the chances are that the prices will be increased instead’ of being reduced.
– The really practical reason why a duty should be imposed upon butter and cheese has not yet been touched upon. The object is not so much to protect the farmer as to prevent the country from being flooded with an inferior article. A leading merchant in New South Wales recently told me that the effect of remitting the duty upon tea would be to flood the markets of the Commonwealth with a cheap and inferior article, and a similar result might be expected to follow in the case of butter.
– We produce and export butter, but we do not produce tea.
– Nevertheless, they are both articles of general use, and the same influences would operate upon the market in either case. The reduction of the duty on cheese would lead to the introduction of large quantities of the commonest kind of Dutch cheese, and the duty will at least prove useful in keeping out both butter and cheese of inferior quality. Senator Smith has discussed this question from a Western Australian standpoint solely, but I would remind him that we are not dealing with that State alone, but with the whole Commonwealth, and that our object should be to frame a commonsense Tariff which will prove beneficial all round. We should not take any extreme measures which will have a prejudicial effect upon any of our industries. It is ridiculous to institute any comparisons between the possibilities of dairy farming in these States and New Zealand. The rainfall in New Zealand is twice as great as in Victoria, which is more favoured in this repect than most of the States, and it is because of our less favorable climatic condition that we are not in a position to compete with New Zealand. There may be some advantage in separating the duty upon butter from that imposed upon cheese, but there should not be any such general reduction in the rates as is now proposed. Those honorable senators who have told us that no benefit can be derived from the imposition of such duties are speaking without any practical knowledge of the industry.
– Senator Zeal, whilst expressing the fear that our markets would be flooded with inferior produce, also said that New Zealand is the only place from which our markets could be supplied, and that that colony is in a position to send us produce of a superior class. We find, moreover, that New Zealand, which has achieved such a high position as a butter and cheese producing country, does not find it necessary to impose a duty upon either. Victoria levied a duty of only 2d. per lb. upon butter, and now we are being asked to increase that rate to 3d. per lb., and to impose duties of 50 per cent, on butter, and 75 per cent, on cheese, in New South Wales, where no duties were collected previously. The people of New South Wales do not require this duty, and the people of Victoria have not shown the slightest desire for any increase upon the rates formerly levied. Western Australia does not require any increase, and we have heard no demand from either South Australia or Tasmania, in which States a duty of 2d. per lb. was formerly imposed upon butter. It appears, therefore, that the only State that could possibly want any increase of duty is Queensland, which is specially favoured in the matter of rainfall. There is no State in the whole group that has so fine a rainfall in its great coastal districts. I do not see that there is much good to be derived from quoting statistics as to the exports and imports of the various States in connexion with any particular article that may be under discussion. We find that it pays better in some States to produce butter, whilst in other States it pays to devote the product of the cow .to cheese-making. Because it pays New South Wales to make cheese instead of butter, and Victoria to do exactly the reverse, that does not show that either State is backward in the progress of the race. It simply shows that one State finds it more profitable to devote its energies to one article of produce than to another. We do not derive much advantage from ringing the changes on these wretched columns of Coghlan, until one wonders whether it would not be better if the whole Statistical department were abolished, and the figures burned. I have not troubled the committee with quotations from these excellent authorities, because I recognise that figures, however valuable they are, must be judged according to the circumstances of the country to which they apply. There is no political regeneration in connexion with the quotation of figures. The duty proposed by the Government will be of no advantage to the producers, except in times of drought, when without any duty they will receive high prices for their produce.,. We are not justified in legislating merely to pass duties which will apply only in times of public calamity. Seeing that the butter industry of the State from which I come has grown to such large dimensions without any adventitious aids, I think it my duty, having regard to the interests of the consumers of the Commonwealth, to support a reduction. Here I may say that I respectfully deprecate the cry that is so frequently heard that honorable senators on this side of the Chamber are simply advocating the cause of the importing industry. I represent the consumers, because there are 500 consumers to one importer. But I do not see why we should be so very tender- on the subject of one class of money-makers against another. Why does the importer import ? To make money. Why does the manufacturer produce ? To make money. I am not here to study the interests of any one money-making class, but rather those of the great body of the people, who are consumers rather than producers. I am considering what the people who use the articles in question have to pay for them. Senator Higgs says that by lowering the duty we are placing the consumers at the mercy of an inferior imported article, but I reply that by maintaining a high duty we are placing the consumer at the mercy of an inferior or local article.
– The manufacturers compete with one another.
– I have a strong belief that importers also compete with one another, and that they cut things a little bit finer when there is no duty than do manufacturers when they are protected by high duties.
– It has been clearly shown that previous to the imposition of duties on butter and cheese in some of the States, when the industry had very little chance of being supported, the consumer had a great deal more to pay than at present, and got a very inferior article. That has been generally admitted. It has also been stated that it does not matter whether the duty on butter is Id. or 2s. per lb., because it can have no protective effect. What is the object of altering the Tariff? Is it not to benefit somebody ? If we, who have been sent here to study the interests of the community wish to alter a duty, should we not do so for somebody’s benefit ? If it does not make any difference either to the producer or the consumer whether the item under dis.cusssion is altered or not, why is it so. strenuously attempted to alter it? Apparently the attempt is made to show the power of the Opposition with respect to the position of the Government. If the alteration will not do any good to the consumer or to the producer, and is only proposed to create a little amusement between the Government and the Opposition, is it worth while to make it ? With respect to butter, I would point out that producers have only a short season within which this commodity can be produced to any great extent. Certainly butter can be produced all the year round by judicious management, but the season within which it can be produced extensively is very limited. Another point is that the fresher the butter the better it is. When these points are taken into consideration, it is right that we should consider the producers at times when they have difficulties to contend with. Those who have any knowledge of farming pursuits in Australia will recollect the state of affairs which existed before there was any attempt made by legislation to assist the dairying industry. In South Australia farmers who attempted to produce butter received only from 2^-d. to about 4d. per lb. It was by means of bonuses and protection that the industry was placed upon a better footing. New markets were created, and the producers received great benefit. No one can deny that. There may be other parts of the world so favoured that even at the start the butter industry did not require legislative encouragement, but every one will admit that in the Australian States that encouragement was required. But the industry being established, every one must admit that the season is short. Are we going to put .our producers in this position - that during the latter part of the summer and during the winter months, when they have the greatest difficulties to contend with, and a bard life to lead, we will not give them any protection? That is exactly what we are doing with respect to the duty on ‘butter. If we want to encourage and stimulate the efforts of those in the industry we must continue thisprotection at the very time it is most required. Those engaged in the manufacture of cheese have great difficulty to contend with. It was a very long time before prejudice was overcome in South Australia and other States in regard to local production ; and that is the reason it is necessary to give some protection. In many of the States, previous to any attempt being made to protect industries, prices were higher and the quality lower, but the result of encouraging the production of cheese has been to reverse the position. If Senator Symon and others took the trouble to visit the cheese factories in South Australia, they would be told that protection has been, and is, of very great advantage, and will continue to be so.
– The advantage was in being protected against States which are now allied.
– The advantage lies in being protected against any country. We do not want to be protected only against those who compete in the immediate vicinity, but also against others who work under different conditions. When the people of Australia found that they were prepared to all work under the same conditions, they arrived at the conclusion that it was time to have free-trade amongst themselves, with protection against others outside, whose conditions are different.
– What is the difference between the labour conditions in New Zealand and those in Australia ?
– There are other parts of the world besides’ New Zealand ; and if it becomes profitable to send butter and cheese to Australia it will be sent from Argentine, the South American States, and elsewhere. It is against contingencies of that description we have a right to protect ourselves. Why should we not protect ourselves against New Zealand? The States of the Commonwealth were quite willing and anxious that New Zealand should come into the Federation.
– And compete against New Zealand ?
– If New Zealand entered the Federation, the other Australian I ‘States would have to compete, and would be quite willing to do so. New Zealand considered, however, the balance of advantage to be in stopping outside the Federation ; and that colony has no right to complain if the Commonwealth States protect themselves against her, and gain the balance of advantage for themselves. It was very properly thought in New Zealand that there would be a sufficient number of freetraders in the Commonwealth Parliament to reduce the duties, irrespective of what th« effect might be on the producers. “We protectionists say to New Zealand - “We gave you the offer to join the Federation, and have a free market in the Commonwealth, but you would not accept the invitation, thinking that you would get a free market for your produce, whilst still protecting yourself against our produce. We shall prevent your getting any advantage over the people of Australia.” That is the principle we are endeavouring to carry out. Those who are not prepared to protect, not only -the manufacturer, but also the cheese and butter makers of Australia, are, I was going to say, traitors to the producer’s of the country. Senator Fraser has exhibited much knowledge of agriculture ; but I venture to express an opinion different from that held by him with regard to the butter and cheese industry. We ought to be more concerned about the cheese industry than about the butter industry.
– I said so.
– The butter industry has got such a hold that it may be able to stand a great deal of opposition. But the position is different with regard to cheese. Between Melbourne and Dandenong, and even beyond Dandenong, there is a very large tract of excellent grazing country, admirably adapted for butter production, and the same may be said of a great portion of the southern and western districts. Beyond, in a great portion of the Gippsland country, the character of the soil and the vegetation is of a totally different description. On one occasion I went down with a bricklayer to build a dairy and cheese factory for Mr. Dunlop, of Holmwood. That gentleman assured me when he farmed in the Dandenong district he got the best price in Prahran for his butter from a storekeeper who supplied the aristocracy of Toorak. With the object of getting more land and increasing his business, he went further out beyond Koo.weerup ; but people to whom he sent his butter from there refused to believe that it came from his farm, the character being so entirely different from that of the butter previously sent from the Dandenong district. Under these circumstances Mr. Dunlop turned to cheese-making, and he found that the conditions of Gippsland, though injurious to butter, were excellent for hisnew branch of industry. But he and others urge that from one end of the year to the other, cheese producers have a claim on the Legislature of the Commonwealth for some little protection until such time as they are able to compete or until other countries are under the same labour conditions, and can come into union as have the States of Australia. When we hear from men of practical experience that the reduction of the duty will make a difference to producers, so far as cheese is concerned, we are justified in supporting the Government so far as we possibly can in maintaining the Tariff proposal in this connexion.
– The speeches in favour of the duties show that the idea is to retain these imposts for all time. It is recognised that the States have got beyond the necessity of importing butter and cheese, and are now exporting.
– Cheese is still imported.
– I shall have something to say as to that in a moment or two. Senator Styles spoke of the great value which an import duty had been to Victoria, but he forgot to mention the bonus that was given on butter for export. I dare say these bonuses were added to the profits which otherwise would have been made. While recognising that Victoria has produced the largest quantity of butter, the free-trade State of New South Wales is an excellent second in this connexion. Senator Glassey claimed that because of protective duties a large area of land had been brought under cultivation in Queensland. But in the freetrade State of New South Wales, during the last five or six years, the area of land placed under agriculture has very largely increased. There does not appear to be any necessity for a duty on butter ; but in consequence of the tender regard we are urged to show towards industries, we on this side are quite willing to have a reduced duty equal to that which prevailed in Victoria for many years. If that duty is not sufficient from the Victorian point of view, it is a great deal too much from the New South “Wales point of view. It is claimed that there was a scientific system of protection in Victoria ; and if the suggested duty was sufficient for that State, it surely ought to be sufficient for the Commonwealth.
– Will the honorable and learned senator apply the same doctrine to cheese?
– In New South Wales, where the cheese of Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, and New Zealand has had free entrance, we find that the quantity of cheese introduced from the lastmentioned country has been vastly in excess of that from other parts of the world. The reason is that the cheese produced in New Zealand is of a quality superior to that produced in the other States. It is recognised that New Zealand cheese is on the top of the market, and it was preferred by people who had equal opportunities of buying the Victorian or South Australian product. While the imports of cheese into New South Wales last year amounted to 1,928,000 lbs., with the exception of some 392,000 lbs. the whole of that cheese came from New Zealand, showing that in New South Wales it was believed that a far better cheese was produced in New Zealand that in the States of Australia. What I want to lead up to is this : If we are going to protect our own market in such a way as to make it impossible to introduce cheese from other parts of the world, we shall thereby be inducing our own people not to try to produce the very best article. They will be induced to think that, as they need no longer fear competition from outside, they may adopt old systems, and that the people must putup with what they give them. The arguments used by some honorable senators seem to show that they have no faith in the farmers of their own States, and that they believe that they are incapable of producing as good an article as we can import from elsewhere. They are really proposing to make the consumer pay in order that these men may continue to produce an inferior article and I say that is a mistake. Senator McGregor asked why we were altering the Tariff, and whether it was simply to belittle the Government. The answer was given by Senator Zeal, when he said that he wanted to make a common-sense Tariff. We want to make a common-sense Tariff, and to have a Tariff which will be reasonable. The Government have said that they want revenue without destruction. They cannot introduce a purely protective Tariff, andthey profess to introduce such a Tariff as will not destroy revenue while giving incidental protection to our own people. On this question of the duty upon cheese, I find that the importations into New South Wales for the last year quoted by Coghlan, at a duty of 3d. per lb., would give a revenue of £25,860.
– The honorable and learned senator is assuming that the importations would not be lessened by the duty. Is that a fair assumption ?
– I find that the Treasurer anticipates that he will receive from these duties from the whole of the Commonwealth in a normal year only £4,062. Here appears to be an attempt to obtain revenue without the destruction of an industry ; but I ask, where is the revenue 1 Is it not an attempt to destroy revenue in order to protect the industry by preventing any importations at all ? The Postmaster-General has interjected that I was assuming that the same quantity of cheese would be imported.
– Which is an unreasonable assumption.
– It is an unreasonable assumption, because we are charging a very high., rate of duty, and I say that in this matter the Government are entirely departing from the principle they have laid down, and are giving themselves entirely into the hands of the protectionist party in these States. -I do not blame protectionists for fighting for these duties, as we fight for free-trade. I would very much sooner that an attempt had been made to reduce them to a very much greater extent than is being proposed at the present time. I can only account for the small reduction at present proposed by the promise that has been made that at any rate any industry which has been established, or which it is believed has been established, by a system of protection shall have a certain amount of that protection continued for a time.
– I have listened with very great interest to the discussion, and have followed it very closely, but I must say that I find it altogether impossible to discover what the Opposition are driving at. They tell us that this item will not produce revenue, and 1 will not protect the local producer, but if that is the case, what is their objection to it, and why do they advocate a reduction of the duty upon butter so strenuously 1
– Because it is humbug.
– I do not think the Opposition would oppose the duty so strongly if it were merely a question of it being humbug. There is something else behind their opposition which is more than the mere assertion that it is humbug, and that the Government are trying to fool the farmers. The position of the Government in the matter is perfectly clear to me. When one considers the circumstances under which the great butter industry has been built up in several States of the Commonwealth, one can see the reason why the Government stand to their position.
– In New South Wales, for instance.
– My honorable friend is always citing New South Wales. New South Wales is the horrible example on every occasion. I remind the honorable senator that at one time New South Wales had a duty upon butter. They abandoned it, and re-imposed it, though under their latest Tariff there is no duty upon that article. I ask honorable senators to remember that at one time the principal market of New South Wales was Queensland. I have had no experience of New South Wales, and will not attempt to speak about it, but it appears to me that there is one fact in connexion with that State which honorable senators entirely overlook, and it is this : New South Wales is the oldest of the States, and farming was established there many years before it was established in the other States. That of itself has given a certain measure of protection to those engaged in dairying and other cognate industries in New South Wales. But I come to Queensland, with which I am connected, and in which I saw the butter industry grow up from nothing to its present dimensions under a protective policy. I can remember when in Queensland I had to pay 2s. 6d. per lb. for butter which was hardly fit to be used for anything but as grease for a cart. I used to say to the selectors, “ Why do you not go in for butter-making, and supply the local market? Look at the prices paid V The invariable answer I got was this : “ If we make .butter and bring it into the market, the storekeepers, in whose hands the entire butter trade is, will not give us a price. They would much rather buy their butter from New South Wales than from us. It is utterly impossible for us to attempt to go into an industry of this kind in the face of the New South Wales competition. So long as those people have the market to themselves, they charge any price they please ; but, when we begin to put our butter upon the market, the price of the imported butter immediately comes down, and forces us entirely out of the running.” But, as I said last night with regard to bacon, a new Tariff was proposed, which gave the Queensland farmers a protection of 3d. per lb. I ask honorable senators to pay attention to facts, to set their feet upon the solid earth, and to cease swinging about on the edges of rainbows. When one sees an industry grow up before his eyes from nothing to great dimensions, he can come to only one conclusion, and it is this : that the policy which produces such a result must be a policy suitable to the locality in which it is operation. What happened in Queensland ? First we had only men in the southern portion of that State beginning dairying. They began to supply local wants, and they are now sending hundreds of thousands of lbs. -of butter to the English market every year. We have men in the Central districts of Queensland, who before could hardly produce 1 lb. of butter for their lives, even in the present season, when the country is almost paralyzed by drought, producing a sufficient quantity of butter to supply local needs.
– Because they have turned their attention to other things than wheat-growing.
– The honorable senator is always ready with his explanation, but I am not going to follow him like a coney into its burrow. I am merely taking the facts as I find them, and, as I have said, I have seen the butter, cheese, and bacon industries in Queensland grow from the acorn to the gigantic oak. Now we are a Commonwealth, and the whole of the States of the union are one. We find that we are exporting butter to foreign parts, and our friends the free-traders say, “ Your production has overtaken the local consumption, and you are compelled to go to the open markets of the world. Why do you not do away with your dyke 1” I will tell honorable senators why we do not do away with our dyke. From little we have grown tomuch, but we desire to grow still more. This butter industry, even in Victoria, is only in its infancy. As Senator McGregor very forcibly pointed out, the butter season is a very short one,but we desire that it should be a twelve-months season. To do that we should encourage our local producers. We should say to them, “ No matter how bad the season, and how small the local production, we shall not permit foreigners to compete with you unless they are willing to pay an import duty of 3d. per lb.” That is the policy which has been productive of such good results in the past, and which we hope will produce excellent results in the future. When one local producer has overcome the difficulty of supplying butter during the off season, thousands of others will follow his example, and in that way it will come about that we shall have a butter season lasting for twelve months, instead of the present butter season which lasts for only five months. Senator Smith wishes to have the duty reduced, so that the people of Western Australia, who import large quantities of butter, may be able to obtain their supplies more cheaply ; but surely the policy which in the past, has been productive of such good results in the other States will ultimately benefit Western Australia too. We have been told that there is excellent grazing land there, and if that is so it is surely desirable to encourage farmers and dairymen to make use of it. The experience of Queensland is that protection has lowered the price of butter, improved its quality, and given employment to thousands of citizens.
– In Western Australia we have had a duty upon butter for the last ten years.
– Yes ; but a thirteenyearold boy could give the reason why the local article has not yet overtaken the local demand there. The population of Western Australia in 1890 was only about one-fifth of what it is to-day. The mining population especially has grown so rapidly that it would have been impossible for the farmers of Western Australia to keep pace with such an increase, even if their position had been much better than it was. Then, too, people must be given some inducement to remain upon the land. The only reason for reducing these duties is to increase importation.
– We want revenue.
– Honorable senators want everythingto pass through the port of Sydney. They would like to see the whole country given up to the rearing of sheep, to mining, and to other primary occupations. Instead of encouraging the production of butter here, they would support the New Zealand farmers, because, for the time being, we can get butter more cheaply from New Zealand. I do not believe that such a policy is in the interests of the Commonwealth. Honorable senators who are free-traders may be perfectly sincere, but their view of the aspirations of the people is a very limited one. They must think the farmers terrible fools, but the farmers know that under protection the butter industry in four of the States has become a very flourishing one.
– Protection of State against State !
– And against the outside world. Honorable senators ask where the importations of butter are to come from. I cannot answer that question ; but it is well to be prepared for all contingencies. In New Zealand they have a large area of fertile country, a beautiful climate, a copious rainfall, an industrious people, and a progressive Government.
– If we buy butter from New Zealand she will take some of our products in return.
– What does New Zealand want that we can supply? She stands in the same relation to us, except as to size, as the United States do to Great Britain. She produces coal, wool, mutton, beef, wheat, butter, cheese, and bacon in great abundance. I hope that the patriotic gentleman who form the Opposition will have some consideration for this industry, and will continue the protection which has hitherto been in force, except in New South Wales, against the outside world.
– Senator Stewart has just told the committee that we should impose an import duty upon butter in order to obtain the same supply all the year round. I do not know how he proposes to bring about that result, unless he can alter the laws of the universe and obtain a more copious and regular rainfall, or introduce an artificial cow which will milk all the year round. In times of drought the fanners cannot produce butter, and why should the 3,000,000 or 4,000,000 inhabitants of Australia be compelled to pay 3d. per lb. more for an article of universal consumption when they are forced by the conditions of the season to import it? In Western Australia we have had ten years of protection under a very heavy duty, but, although we have the most liberal land laws, our production has not yet overtaken the demand. Senator Stewart says that we should build up this industry, but the only way in which the people of Western Australia could build it up would be by protecting themselves against the people of the eastern States. In five years’ time, however, there will bef ree-tradebetween Western Australia and the eastern States. It is all nonsense to talk about the dairying industry being injured by the reduction of the duty to the rate which was levied in five of the six States prior to the introduction of the Tariff. The industry has been built up with the assistance of a protective duty of 2d. per lb. upon butter, and yet we are being asked to increase this impost by 50 per cent.
– I suggest that the committee should be afforded an opportunity of voting upon the proposed duties separately.
– I shall submit them separately.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 14 by adding the words “and on and after 1st July, 1902, butter, per lb., 2d.”- put. The committee divided.
Majority … … 4
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– It seems to me that the case in respect to cheese is very much stronger than that of butter, strong as the latter may be. The duty of1d. per lb. upon cheese now proposed by Senator Symon is very much lower than any duty hitherto levied in the States. Prior to the introduction of the Tariff, the duty on cheese was 3d. per lb. in Victoria, 4d. per lb. in Queensland and South Australia, and 2d. per lb. in Tasmania and Western Australia. It is now said that a duty of 3d per lb. would prohibit importations, but would point out that under a duty of 3d per lb. Victoria, in 1899, imported 10,131 lbs. cheese from the United Kingdom, 26,453 lbs. from New Zealand, 1,393 lbs. from Belgium, 525 lbs. from France, 10,455 lbs. from Germany, 1,131 lbs. from Holland, and 4,034 lbs. from Italy. No duty was imposed upon cheese in New South Wales, and in 1899 that State imported from New Zealand no less than 2,347,029 lbs.
– The importation in 1900 was much less.
– Not very much. The difference was not worth considering in such a comparison as I am making. New South Wales also imported from the United Kingdom 7,205 lbs., from Canada 3,770 lbs., from Belgium 5,020 lbs., from France 22,988 lbs., from Germany 17,259 lbs., from Italy 5,342 lbs., from the Netherlands 61,075 lbs., and from the United States 2, 74 2 lbs. Honorable senators may form some opinion from what has taken place in New South Wales as to the probable increase of importations into the States hitherto protected if the duty is reduced as now proposed. In the case of Victoria, for instance, there would be a drop in the duty from 3d. to1d. How can any one say that to permit a drop of that kind to take place is to treat the industry with that consideration which I think every one is disposed to give to Victorian industries? A number of honorable senators, without being extreme either on the free-trade or the protectionist side, have recognised that in the framing of this Tariff existing industries ought not to be allowed to suffer. I think I have shown from the imports, even under the moderate duty, into Victoria, and the imports into New South Wales, where cheese was free, that it is probable that a large import will take place from New Zealand as well as from other places outside the Commonwealth, if this duty is reduced. If that large importation is permitted to take place, an injustice will be done to the farmers who have been carrying on the industry. I have taken Victoria as an illustration, but there is also the case of Queensland, where the duty was 4d. Is this a time to take away from the Queensland producer the protection which was given to him before 1 Queensland is a State where cheese can be produced very well indeed, and surely its production is an industry- which ought to be recognised, and for which allowance should be made. It is impossible in a country like Queensland to rely altogether on industries which depend to a great extent upon the occupation of immense areas in dry country. There must be industries which are carried on near the coast, where the rainfall is comparatively good, where the land is rich, and there are a large number of small farmers. Senator Symon’s proposal would make a serious drop indeed in the protection which they have hitherto enjoyed. In the same way South Australia and Tasmania would be affected. I do not know any part of Australia which ought to be richer in dairying than Tasmania. Why should not the rich lands of Tasmania be able to produce in great abundance such articles as cheese, especially considering the climate that State enjoys 1 I sincerely hope that these reasons will be considered, that honorable senators will pay attention to the arguments that have been advanced, and that before voting they will look through the duties which already exist in- the States and compare them with the duties now proposed. In whose interest would a reduction be made ? Would it be in the interest of the consumer ? Surely no honorable senator will have the hardihood to say that the price of ordinary cheese is raised to the consumer by reason of this duty. Is cheese dearer in Victoria, South Australia, or Tasmania, by reason of the duty ? Certainly not. The local production supplies the local demand. Nor can it be said that the duty makes the high class cheese any dearer than it was before. The price is the same as it was before in Victoria, and lower than it was in South Australia. If the duty is of no disadvantage to the consumer and does not increase the price, and if it is an advantage to the producer, I trust that the committee will see that Senator Symon is going a great deal too far in his attempt to reduce it to the lowest possible amount. I hope that the committee will not agree to the motion.
– I am exceedingly sorry that my honorable and learned friend has reopened the debate upon this line, which we have been discussing all the afternoon. To do so must inevitably have the effect of postponing that desirable end which we all have in view, of bringing about as early a settlement as possible of this Tariff in the interests of the people of Australia, and particularly of the trading community. My honorable and learned friend must not think that I seek to discount or complain of his having given us information if that information be fresh. But the information he has given is not fresh. He has renewed his appeal and has reflected upon the hardihood, as he calls it - an expression which ought not to have been used - of those who take the view that Id. a lb. on cheese is in the established condition of the industry quite sufficient. I should have preferred making cheese free altogether, inasmuch as it is an article of uniform consumption amongst the workers of the community. I am indifferent about the importation of expensive cheeses. I want them to be imported, of course, but I want them to pay the highest duty we can get out of them so long as we do not stop their importation. The reasons which have been urged in favour of the proposed duty might furnish a strong argument for a differential or ad valorem duty, but they are absolutely hopeless as arguments in favour of a uniform duty of 3d. a lb., or of 60 or 70 per cent, on the average quality of the cheese imported for general consumption from New Zealand. The Postmaster-General has given us a series of figures showing the enormous importation of cheese into New South Wales as compared with Victoria. He has told us that Victoria, owing to her protective policy, only imported cheese to a small extent, and that the importation into New South Wales was infinitely larger ; that the importation amounted to thousands of lbs. in the one case and millions in- the other. We are told that this is a revenue duty. ‘ But what does the larger importation into New South
Wales mean ? If the duty stops importation it does not produce revenue. Apparently the duty of 3d. per lb. is justified as a revenue duty on the one hand and as a protectionist duty on the other. It is one of those duties which performs a double function, like the article of furniture in the poem to which an honorable senator referred yesterday -
The chest contrived a double debt to pay,
A bed by night, achest-of-drawers by day.
I suppose my honorable friend means that it is a revenue duty with a protective incidence. Very good. I admit that many of the duties in this Tariff are revenue duties with a protective incidence ; and I have over and over again said that we must remember the protective incidence, and not remove it in such a way as to do injustice or cruelty. But the question is - Who are more nearly right, those who think that under the circumstances a duty of1d. is sufficient, or those who think that we should have a duty of 3d.? Let us take the question of revenue. Senator Drake’s own figures show conclusively that the result of the 3d. duty will be to prohibit, or to largely reduce, the importation of cheese. The figures for New South Wales and Victoria show that the effect will be absolutely to shatter the revenue. What is the good of the Government telling us that revenue is the first consideration, and that the second consideration is protection to prevent the ruin of industries ? If there be any parallel in the case, the figures quoted show that the duty of 3d. in Victoria substantially reduced importation, and that a similar result would be likely to follow in New South Wales.
– There may be as much revenue from the diminished importation at the higher rate.
– Does Senator Drake think that the people of New South Wales would rather eat dear cheese than cheap cheese ?
– The result seen in Victoria is that of a great number of years of protection.
– As good cheese is produced in New South Wales as in any other part of Australia.
– A lot of cheese is imported into New South Wales.
– Of course, and on the Treasurer’s own figures the revenue will be seriously injured by the proposed duty. According to the Treasurer,there has already been collected on this item, under the Commonwealth Tariff, for the six months, a sum of £5,201, while the estimated duty in a normal year for the whole of the Commonwealth, with its 4,000,000 people, is about £1,200 less, or £4,062.
– Then the duty does not stop importation ?
– The revenue for the year on the basis of the return for the six months will be over £10,000 ; but the Treasurer estimates that importation will be so reduced that the revenue for next year will be only £4,06 2.
– Then more revenue will be received than the Treasurer estimates?
– Does Senator Styles say that the Treasurer’s estimate is out by more than 60 per cent.?
– That is what Senator Symon is showing.
– I am taking the Treasurer’s own figures, and I think the Treasurer is right; at any rate, the figures are the best we can get. The effect of a duty of 3d. would be to steadily reduce the revenue year by year. On the importations of cheese into New South Wales in the year 1899, the duty of 3d. would have returned £30,906 ; but the Treasurer’s estimate of the revenue to be collected under this head in that State is only £1,876. It is thus shown that importation will be stopped, and something like £28,000 of revenue lost. It is also said - and I frankly admit the position - that we must consider the element of protection ; but a duty of 3d. per lb. is simply protection run riot. Why should we not take the example of Canada, where the duty on cheese is1½d. per lb. ? If ever there was a country which should have a high duty on an article of the kind it is Canada, which is face to face with the 80,000,000 people across the border.
– Canada beats America “ hollow “ with cheese.
– Canada is not protected against America, as we are against New Zealand, by the expense of transport. If one thing is more plain than another, it is that a duty of1d., even as against New Zealand, is exactly the equivalent of the duty of1½d. in Canada against the United States. It is said that there are climatic differences between New Zealand and Australia; but in Australia cheese production is limited to the favoured localities. I am not aware of the existence of any cheese factories in South Australia except in the temperate regions about Mount Gambier and Woodside, and in the hills near Adelaide. I am not aware that cheese-making is carried on in the drier parts of the State, which are better fitted for the cultivation of wheat and for the pastoral industries.
– Cheese-making cannot be carried on in such places.
– Of course not. The conditions in New Zealand are as nearly as possible an approximation to those which prevail in the only parts of Australia and Tasmania where cheese can be manufactured. Reference has been made to the duties which existed in the States before federation ; but why were those duties imposed ? They were retaliatory duties against Victoria. In South Australia, in 1887, the duty was imposed because Victoria, with her greater advantages perhaps, poured her cheese, bacon, and other produce of the western districts into the South Australian market, and precluded any hope of establishing similar industries on a large scale in the Mount Gambier district. I do not say for a moment that we are not to regard this matter from the point of view of our own States. The representatives of New South Wales have a perfect right to complain of the imposition of a duty of 3d. in that State ; and justice is all in favour of their view. I can tell honorable senators that if, under Inter-State freetrade, this high duty is imposed for the benefit of the larger enterprises in Victoria, or, for the matter of that, in New South Wales - and it must be remembered that those interested in the industries cannot help taking the increased price - we shall prejudice to a degree those same industries in South Australia. The weaker enterprises will be “ wiped out,” because I do not think they are strong enough to stand against the competition; and that opinion I expressed from end to end of South Australia during the recent elections. The fact that so many of the States, prior to federation, imposed these duties, affords no criterion for the Commonwealth. The parliamentary records of South Australia, including speeches of the present Minister for Trade and Customs, show that the duties imposed there were vindicated on the ground that they afforded protection against Victoria.
– Then the natural industries are not to receive the benefit of Inter-State free-trade ?
– Of course they are ; but Senator Styles, who represents the all-grasping protected State of Victoria, wants not only the protection, but also the benefits which must arise from the enlarged market of the whole of Australia.
– Why not ?
– Of course, Victoria is entitled to the enlarged market, but why should protection be kept at the Victorian level ?
– How can it help the small factories to let in all the New Zealand stuff?
– How will it help the revenue if all this stuff is shut out? How will it help New South Wales and South Australia to be flooded with Victorian stuff? If the duty proposed were a necessary one I should accede to it, but it is unnecessary, being imposed merely for the sake of the factories in Victoria. If New Zealand, with a free list, can stand the competition of all Australia in this particular line, surely the producers of Australia are just as self-reliant, industrious, and intelligent as their neighbours across the water ? Surely, with the advantage of Id. per lb., the dairymen of Australia can succeed as well as they have done in the past? At any rate, under such a duty, for some little time to come, we shall have the revenue we so much want. The third point which I think honorable senators should bear in mind is the difference as between butter and cheese which my amendment suggests, and that is Id. per lb. I find it very convenient to take the Victorian Tariff, which was passed for the direct purpose of protection, and to see what difference it made between the two articles. I find that there was a duty of 2d. per lb. on butter, and there was also a bonus of 2d. per lb. to encourage exportation. The result of that course was to make the protection with the bonus, plus the duty, 4d. per lb. on butter. Then Victoria had a duty of 3d. per lb. on cheese, making a difference between the two of Id. The committee has adopted a duty of 2d. per lb. on butter; we put cheese at Id. per lb., and we get exactly the same difference as in Victoria.
– No, it is one-fourth less. The honorable and learned senator must remember that 4d. is not double 3d.
– I had thought that the difference between 4d. and 3d. was Id. Tha£ was considered a proper difference between butter and cheese under the Victorian Tariff, and we are proposing exactly the same difference. However, I do not put it upon that ground, but upon a ground I have quoted before. We could have no better example for our guidance in this matter than what was stated by Senator O’Connor as to protection. He said -
Cut it down if you like to the lowest possible point at which reasonably the industries can be protected.
On that ground alone, I say that a duty of 3d. per lb. on cheese is indefensible. A high duty existed before the markets of Australia were available to the Victorian-cheese maker, and Id. per lb. will now afford reasonable protection to the industry. Not a single figure or fact has been stated by way of evidence to show that there will be any less production from the Victorian factories; under a duty of Id. than there has been in the past under a higher duty. The other States will import cheese from other countries, as they are entitled to do, and will not be limited to the output of Victoria. I hope that Victoria will continue to make as much or ten times more than she has made in the past, and I have greater faith in the energy of her farmers and producers than to think that they want, more than the reasonable protection I propose.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland).- The attitude of Senator Symon upon this question is very much the same as his attitude when another item was before the committee. While professing to remove burdens from the general body of the public the honorable and learned senator seems to be endeavouring to,remove a burden from the shoulders of people who are very well able to bear it. It is the people who use high-class cheeses, such as Swiss Gruyere, Camembert, and Roquefort, which cost from ls. 6d. to 2s. 6d. > per lb., who desire that cheese shall be introduced at a duty of Id. per lb. That would enable them to save a considerable sum throughout the year.
– If the Government would discriminate, and put a higher duty Upon cheese costing 2s. 6d. or over per lb., something might be done in that way.
– If the honorable and learned senator had been in favour of making people who use these high class cheeses pay a higher duty, he would have suggested something of the kind, but he has’ made no mention of such a proposal. We all know that the cheese chiefly imported into the Commonwealth is the high-priced cheese. Senator Symon has endeavoured to create harmony throughout the Australasian States by stating that we are anxious to strike a blow at our “ vile enemy “ New Zealand. The people of New Zealand did not, perhaps, treat us as a vile enemy ; but the New Zealand politicians, who would rather reign in hell than serve in heaven, induced the people of that colony to keep out of the Commonwealth, and I imagine that to all intents and purposes they have treated the Commonwealth as an enemy. Any duties we may choose to impose to protect our people against the foreign producer must tell against the New Zealand producers. We could not protect our own people if the people of New Zealand were permitted greater freedom in our ports than other outsiders. Senator Symon told us that cheese could not be produced in the wheat-growing districts of South Australia.
– I did not say that. I said that it could not be produced in the northern parts of South Australia.
– In Queensland, where there are a large number of cheese and butter factories, wheat farming is carried on in nearly every district in which cheese is produced. Though not wilfully, perhaps, the honorable and learned senator is wasting the time of the country, as well as of the committee, in making a proposition of this kind, because he knows very well that his attitude is not the attitude of his colleagues of the free-trade party in the other House.
– That is not involved, and I must ask the honorable senator not to discuss anything as between the Senate and the House of Representatives.
– I do wish that the Chairman would issue a handbook of some kind to give us some idea of the limits within which we must keep.
– I give the honorable senator the primary principle, that he must keep to the item.
– I am keeping to the item, and I know that in connexion with arrowroot Senator Symon quoted Mr. Harper, a member of the House of Representatives. I desire to show the committee that the proposal made by Senator Symon is not in accord with the proposal submitted in another place, and there is no possible hope of its being agreed to. If I can do that, I think it will influence honorable senators who, like Senator Sargood, represent a protectionist State, and who are believed to support the Maitland policy of the Government in the vote they are about to give. What did Sir William McMillan say in regard to this very proposal. I find that, at page 7779 of Hansard, he said this-
– The honorable senator cannot read the debates of the House of Representatives.
– The honorable senator must not read that quotation. The standing orders are distinctly against him. If I remember rightly, what Senator Symon did was to quote from the record of proceedings of the House in connexion with a division. The honorable senator cannot quote from Hansard speeches made in the House of Representatives.
– I very reluctantly move -
That the ruling of the Chairman be disagreed with.
In the House-
– Senator Higgs was about to quote from theHansard report of the debates of the other House when I ruled that he could not do so. He has taken exception to that ruling. The standing orders upon which I relied for the opinion which I gave are Standing Orders 133 and 136.
– I took exception to the ruling because I was under the impression that you, Mr. President, had on a former occasion ruled that we could quote from the Hansard reports.
– Only from the Hansard report of a debate in the Senate upon a subject immediately under discussion.
– It seems to me that we should be permitted to quote speeches which show why honorable members in another place arrived at certain decisions. I was about to quote from a speech of the honorable member for Wentworth upon the item under discussion.
– I think the ruling of the Chairman is undoubtedly correct. Whether the standing order be a good one or a bad one is beside the question. It is clear that not only under the standing orders, but also under the practice of all Houses of Parliament, a member of one House cannot quote or even allude to a debate of the other House in the current session.
– Is a senator allowed to read the records of another place to show the result of a division,” or anything of that kind?
– I think that the records of the other House may be referred to, but not the debates.
In Committee -
– Without alluding to what was said in another place, I may state that I know that the honorable member for Wentworth was of opinion that a duty of 2d. per lb. upon cheese would be a fair thing.
– That is not correct. He moved for a reduction of the duty to1d. per lb., and the motion was defeated by eight votes.
– Yes; but he asked the Treasurer to accept a duty of 2d. per lb., and he said that that would be a fair thing. The honorable and learned senator seems to be going beyond his instructions. However, I find that it is of no use to appeal to him to consider the industries of Queensland ; but I hope that those who profess to be willing to consider the interests of the States will vote against the proposed reduction.
SenatorFRASER (Victoria). - I have only to say that I cannot vote for a duty of1d., but that I should vote for a duty of l½d. or 2d. per lb.
– I should like to point out to the committee that the secret of the present position of the cheese trade of Australia lies in the fact that, owing to the introduction of the factory system, it is now more profitable to make butter than to make cheese. Although Great Britain in January last imported 15,000,000 lbs. of cheese, the reports of six cheese fairs which I have before me show that the local demand was very brisk. A report of the Whitchurch Cheese Fair says : -
There was a pitch of 18 tons at the monthly fair held on Wednesday, about an average for the time of the year….. Factors were present in goodly numbers from Manchester and many other large centres, and so sharp was the trade that in less than an hour not a single lot remained unsold. Finest Cheshire sold readily at from 68s, to 76s.
That extract shows that the farmers of Great Britain require no protection, and clearly we need not fear the importation of cheeses into Australia from Great Britain.
– I find from absolutely accurate information that in 1900 the rich cheeses imported from Europe amounted to only 196,000 lbs., while 1,872,000 lbs. of cheese were imported from New Zealand. Those figures do not justify the violent assault which Senator Higgs made upon the free-traders, upon the ground that we desire to reduce the duty upon cheese for the benefit of rich people who buy imported European cheese. Senator O’Connor has given us figures which show that in 1899 the weight of cheese imported into Victoria, where there was a duty of 3d., was 53,000 lbs., and the weight of cheese imported into New South Wales, 2,468,000 lbs. Those figures show that the duty of 3d. per lb. was practically prohibitive. We want to hold an even balance between the consumer, the revenue, and the producer ; we do not wish to favour any one class at the expense of the whale community. Therefore, we propose a duty of Id. per lb., which is equivalent to an ad valorem duty of something like 16£ per cent. I think that 16£ per cent, ad valorem is a sufficiently high protective duty for any industry, and in no case shall I be prepared to vote for a higher protective duty.
– On more than one occasion during this discussion I have had cause to complain that Senator Symon, in bringing his proposals before the committee, has taken into consideration only two States, namely, Victoria and New South Wales. Surely there are other States which are entitled to some little regard 1 They may not be so large in population, and they may not have had such opportunities of developing their resources, but the industries which have grown up in them should not be entirely ignored. During the last few years the cheese-making industry has made wonderful strides in Queensland, and although those engaged in it have had to combat many adverse conditions, and have incurred considerable expense in acquiring the necessary appliances, I am pleased to say that we are now able to almost meet our own requirements.
This position has been achieved with the assistance of a substantial protective duty and in view of this fact I hope that some honorable senators will display a little more of that federal spirit of which we heard so much during the federal campaign, and of which, I am sorry to say, we have seen so little during this discussion.
– The honorable senator wants the federal spirit to crystallize into protection, and we desire it to take the shape of free-trade.
– I desire that such a course shall be shaped by us as will avoid the destruction of industries which have grown up under a system of protection. In the year 1888, when the protective system was established in Queensland, 669,461 lbs. of cheese were imported into that State, the revenue collected amounting to £8,368. In 1900, when the population had increased by 100,000, only 23,012 lbs. of cheese were imported. By that time the duty of 4d. per lb. had enabled the local cheese-making industry to attain a good position. Our farmers have had to struggle against many adverse circumstances, and against climatic conditions, which, I regret to say, have not always proved favorable, and now the freetraders calmly propose that the duty which has been the mainstay of the producers should be reduced. Some honorable senators have cited the case of Canada, which levies a duty of l£d. per lb. upon cheese, and -that of New Zealand, where no duty is imposed, but these are countries which possess natural advantages perhaps unequalled in the world for carrying on dairying operations. We are asked to sit quietly by whilst our industries are being wantonly and wickedly destroyed. Honorable senators have not been actuated by those broad sentiments which the people of Queensland were led to expect when they joined the union, and I hope that a fairer spirit will find expression in our discussions and in our decisions. I shall be very pleased to accompany any honorable senators to our great agricultural districts in Queensland, from the south to even as far north as Mackay of Bundaberg, and show them how the dairying industry has grown there during the last few years. I feel sure that if they were fully acquainted with the circumstances they would not by specious and plausible arguments endeavour to bring about a reduction of the duty. I do not care anything for the revenue, that would be derived from a duty upon cheese, but what I have in view is the prosperity of our people. The imposition of a protective duty in Queensland has had the effect of making the homes of the people engaged in the dairying industry more cheerful and warm and comfortable, and of enabling them to give their children better food and clothing and better education, and I believe that the reduction of the duty would bring ruin and despair into many homes.
– After having listened carefully to the discussion, and having considered the duties which were in operation in the various States prior to federation, I have come to the conclusion that a duty of 2d. per lb. upon cheese would be fair and reasonable. I cannot vote for Senator Symon’s proposal, because I believe that the reduction of the duty to1d. would materially injure, if not destroy, the cheeseproducing industry. During the last two or three years the production of cheese in Tasmania has been considerably increased owing almost entirely to the operation of the duty of 2d. per lb. imposed three years ago. At the same time the people have not had to pay any more for their cheese, but have been supplied with a good article at a cheap price. I suppose that it is no use appealing to the leader of the Opposition to grant a small measure of protection to our Australian industries.
– I haveshown every desire to do that.
– The honorable and learned senator has not shown any disposition in that direction during the present discussion. If the present proposal is defeated, I shall move that the duty be reduced to 2d. per lb.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 14 by adding the words “ and on and after 1st July, 1902, cheese, per lb.,1d.”- put. The committee divided -
Ayes … … … 13
Noes … … … 15
Majority … … … 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
Motion (by Senator Sir Josiah Symon) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 14 by adding the words “and on and after 1st July, 1902, cheese, per lb.,1½d.”
– I hope there will not be any trifling alterations of this kind. Some suggestion has been made about the duty being fixed at 2d. There is something in that, but surely this cutting down by½d. is work that the committee will not trifle with.
– My honorable and learned friend has made an impertinent remark about this being trifling.
– I ask the honorable and learned senator to withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it ; but is that the way in which to treat motions which are seriously made? Should they be described as trifling ?
– What else is it ?
– I should not use such a word concerning my honorable and learned friend, and he has no right to use it of me. My position is just as responsible as his is. I move this motion because the committee, by a majority of two, have decided that a duty of1d. is not acceptable. The Canadian duty is1½d., and that is surely a sufficient rate. It is half way between the proposed duty of 3d. and the position in New South Wales, where cheese was free.
Question put. The committee divided -
Ayes … … … 12
Noes … … … 16
Majority … … 4
Question so resolved in the negative.
Motion (by Senator O’Keefe) put -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 14 by adding the words “and on and after 1st July, 1902, cheese, per lb., 2d.”
The committee divided -
Ayes … … … 17
Noes … … … 11
Majority …… 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Item 15. - Candles, tapers, and night lights; solid spirit heaters including the weight of the immediate containing package ; stearine, paraffine wax, beeswax, and Japanese or vegetable wax ; also lard and refined animal fats, per lb., 1½d. ; and on and after 28th November, 1901,1d.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 15 by adding the words “and on and after 1st July, 1902, candles, tapers, and night lights ; solid spirit heaters, including the weight of the immediate containing package per lb.,3/4d.; stearine, per lb.,½d.; paraffine wax, bees wax, and Japanese or vegetable wax, also lard and refined animal fats, per lb.,¼d.”
This is a large item, but happily it is free from some of the considerations which affected the items just dealt with. We all recognise that it is not of much use placing a duty on the manufactured article unless a smaller duty be placed on the raw material ; and candle-making is a very considerable industry, of which stearine is the principal raw material.
– Make the duty on all the raw materials the same.
– I should like to, but there are considerations which appeal to me, and which may possibly appeal to other honorable senators. The other ingredients are not so much used as stearine, which is in itself an Australian manufacture. The total natural protection on candles is 1 1-1 6d. per lb., which is equivalent to 28 per cent., and if we add a duty of1d. per lb., or another 26 per cent., we make the total protection 54 per cent, f.o.b. A duty of 3/4d. will, therefore, give a protection of 48 per cent., which seems to me very fair treatment. Stearine, f.o.b., costs about 4d. per lb., and the import charges are about½d.; that equals 12½ per cent., and the proposed duty of½d. will give a protection of about 25 per cent. If we made the duty ¼d., as on paraffine wax and the other ingredients, the protection on stearine would be reduced to a little over 19 per cent. The manufacture of stearine is practically carried on only by the proprietors of large candle-making establishments ; the necessary plant being too costly for the smaller men. The result is that the manufacturers in a large way really have a double protection in the3/4d. per lb. on the manufactured article, and the½d. on the stearine. Personally, I would rather have seen stearine made free, because I think the large makers have quite enough protection on the candles. The small makers are practically in the hands of those in a larger way of business for their supply of stearine, and if that commodity were made free there would be a chance of competition on level terms. If we are to have a duty on stearine it is fair that it should be no more than½d. per lb. Under the Tariff there is no duty on kerosene, and candles ought to be placed in a correspondingly fair position. The reduction I propose is comparatively small, and the protection remaining’ is ample. It may be that the smaller men will suffer, because of the enhanced price of the raw material, but it is impossible in any Tariff, -no matter how scientific, to do complete justice.
– I shall oppose all the suggestions which Senator Symon has submitted. The duty on candles is not altogether protective ; it brings in a certain amount of revenue which is estimated at £3,468. The revenue in the various States in 1899 from this source was £9,181, and the difference will be made up by the increased local production, which will displace to that extent the imported article. I shall not say much from the revenue point of view beyond that if we cut the duties down as proposed, more of these articles will be imported ; but whether the increased importation will make up the amount, I do not pretend to say.
– There will be ton times the revenue.
– I cannot see how that can be if our local production is to go on, though Senator Pulsford may be quite right if our own industry is to stop. It throws a lurid light on the consequences which may follow the motion, if Senator Pulsford thinks that the imports will be increased ‘tenfold.
– I did not say that the imports would be increased. What I said was that the Government would get ten times the estimated revenue.
– The duties on candles in the different States were as follow : - New South Wales, free; Victoria, Id.; Queensland, 2d.; South Australia, 2d.; Tasmania, 2d.; Western Australia, 2d.; New Zealand, 2d. In all the States there was a duty higher than that proposed, except in Victoria, where the impost was the same as now appears in the Tariff. It is a verY sudden drop to the amount submitted by Senator Symon, and I can see no reason for the motion. It cannot be alleged that the price of candles has been increased to the consumer by reason of the even larger duties in the State.
– Yes ; in South Australia undoubtedly.
– The experience in New South’ Wales is that a flourishing candle industry means the cheapening of the article.
– But there was no duty in New South Wales.
– There was a duty under the Dibbs Tariff. In the other States the amount of protection given has not had the effect of increasing the price of candles to the consumer. On the contrary, the price has been cheapened, and a very large industry has grown up. It has been found impossible to separate the numbers of persons employed in the manufacture of candles alone, from those employed generally in the soap and candle industry. They are generally taken together, and I find the number of persons employed in the industry throughout the Commonwealth in 1899 was 1,245. We must remember, further, that the candle-making industry is really a primary industry, because it largely makes use of the products of the country. The bulk of the candles manufactured are made from stearine, which, as we all know, is a product of tallow. This is a very economical and profitable way of using tallow, which is a product of « the country, and I find that over 10,000 tons of tallow are annually converted into stearine for the manufacture ‘ of candles. It would therefore be a serious matter to so far interfere with this industry as to cut down the protection it has had already, and under which it has grown and flourished, to the extent proposed by Senator Symon. The manufacture of stearine candles requires extensive machinery and a considerable amount of labour, though no doubt the proportion of skilled labour is not large. In all the States under the protection of the duties which have hitherto been imposed a large expenditure for machinery has been incurred. These factories now exist, and I have no hesitation in saying that the result of taking off this duty will be to put them in the position that at any time their market may be invaded by foreign products. I could quite understand our friends opposite objecting to protection of an industry which would have the result of shutting out a foreign article, the local production of which would not be sufficient to make it as cheap to the consumer as if the duty were removed. But that cannot be said of this industry, because our experience has been that the protection afforded to this industry has been the means of giving employment to people in these factories, and has at the same time greatly cheapened the article to the consumer. Under the circumstances, it is altogether an undue and unnecessary interference with the present condition of things to reduce the duty in the way proposed; without any benefit to the consumer. The duty at first proposed was1½d. per lb., but that was reduced to 1d., and I say that that is the lowest duty under which this industry can prosper. I now wish to say a word about paraffine wax. It is, as we know, a by-product of kerosene, used in the manufacture of candles. But for the manufacture of candles from paraffine wax a comparatively small and inexpensive plantis required. I understand that paraffine wax is imported in a condition in which it is almost at once fit for making into candles. If we place a duty of½d. per lb. on stearine, and only¼d. per lb. on paraffine wax the result will be that we shall give a very great advantage to those manufacturing candles from paraffine wax. Paraffine wax will then enter into serious competition with stearine in the manufacture of candles. It will also enter into competition with the industries which supplies the stearine. As I have said, the plant required for paraffine candles is very much less expensive than that required for the manufacture of candles from stearine, and fewer persons will be employed I say we have no right to put the factories which manufacture candles out of our own products in a worse position than before. It ought to be our desire to assist the natural productions of the country by keeping a duty of a reasonable amount upon stearine and candles made from stearine, and by not giving paraffine an advantage.With regard to beeswax and Japanese wax the same rule applies. I said just now in answer to an interjection that, under the Dibbs Tariff, there was a duty of only½d. per lb. on candles, but that was the remnant of the duty left on by Mr. Reid. The Dibbs Tariff was amended in 1895 ; and in regard to candles, so strong an interest had grown up under the protective duty we had put on that the Premier of New South Wales at that time, Mr. Reid, felt the injustice of removing it suddenly. It was, therefore, taken off gradually, and, as part of the process, there was in 1898 a duty of ½d. per lb. on candles. In that year, under the duty of½d., the import of candles into New South Wales amounted to 2,544,852 lbs. The duty continued from the 1st January to the 30th June, 1899, and during that time the import was 563,761 lbs.; but after the removal of the duty, from the 1st July to the 31st December, 1899, the import of candles increased to 2,264,257 lbs., showing that the immediate effect of the removal of the duty was to enormously increase the amount of the import. The total import for that year was 2,828,018 lbs. In the next year, 1900, when there was no duty upon candles, the import amounted to 3,109,000 lbs. So that we find that when the duty was taken off there was for the half-year an increase in the import of candles of 300,000 lbs., and in the next year there was an increase of 600,000 lbs. over the import, even when there was a duty of only½d. per lb. It is clear, therefore, that the duty of even½d. per lb. kept out the foreign candles to the extent of at least 600,000 lbs. If that experience is to be repeated all over the Commonwealth, it must appear that we shall very unduly interfere with an industry which employs a large number of people, which consumes our own products, and which does not add anything to the cost of candles to the consumer. In these circumstances I trust the committee will take the view that the Tariff should remain as it is.
Senator MACFARLANE (Tasmania).Senator O’Connor said something about the great improvement which has taken place in the manufacture of candles in Sydney in the last few years. It may perhaps surprise the honorable and learned senator to know that that improvement arises from the fact that paraffine wax has been used instead of stearine.
– It would surprise me very much.
– I have a letter here in which it is stated that the Marble Candle Works in Sydney now produce a much better candle at a lower price using 95 per cent. of paraffine wax.
– Is that letter written by the manager of the Marble Candle Works?
– It is written by one who knows. The “ Gem “ candle is manufactured of 80 per cent. of paraffine wax, and the “ Jumbo “ candle of 70 per cent. of wax. As wax, therefore, is used as a raw product in the manufacture of candles, I look to all good protectionists to see that the duty upon this raw material is made as low as possible. If this raw material is not admitted free, the duty should not be more than¼d. per lb., as suggested by the leader of the Opposition. It is idle to say that a large number of people will be thrown out of employment by the reduction of this duty. On the contrary, in my own State by a reduction of the duty the production would be very largely increased, and it is because of the duty upon wax that the industry has been almost snuffed out. I would urge the committee to protect the industry by agreeing to this duty of¼d. per lb. upon paraffine wax. The duty upon the wax should at least be½d. lowerthan upon the candles, so that we may have a cheap candle for the benefit of the working classes and of the whole community. Stearine, as requiring a large and extensive plant for its manufacture into candles, might expect to have a greater amount of protection, but the duty upon paraffine wax should certainly be as low as¼d. per lb.
– The duties proposed in this Tariff with respect to candies and articles akin to candles supply a typical instance of a protectionist tangle. Protectionist members of the committee have frequently said that honorable senators on this side are always trying to destroy industries. I venture to say that I can prove that this proposition would give encouragement to this candle industry, and it has been submitted almost entirely for that reason. Our desire is to improve the condition of the industry throughout the Commonwealth. With regard to the proposal to make the duty upon candles 3/4d. per lb.-
– That is an absurd idea.
– It is still more absurd to place a duty of1d. per lb. upon candles and to allow those who burn kerosene to obtain it free of duty.
– Kerosene ought not to bo free.
– A duty of3/4d. per lb. upon candles would be largely protective, and, to a limited extent, revenueproducing. I ask honorable senators if they are prepared to tax the consumers of candles at the rate of1d. per lb. merely to obtain revenue?
– The duty in Tasmania, and in most of the other States, was 2d. per lb.
– I do not regard the Tasmanian Tariff as a model for the Commonwealth. We are here to frame a fair scheme of taxation for all the States, and I am not prepared o impose a duty of 1d. per lb. upon the consumers of candles.
With regard to the proposed reduction of the duty upon stearine, I would point out that, although protectionists are always saying that they want our industries to flourish, it is impossible for the candle-making industry to flourish so long as the price of the raw material, stearine, is almost equal to that of candles. With the exception of one or two large candle-making industries, the price of stearine to all makers of candles within the Commonwealth is within a farthing equal to the price of candles. Thathas come about because the manufacture of stearine requires the use of expensive machinery, though the amount of labour employed is so small that 25 men could make all the stearine required by the Commonwealth. That makes the manufacture of stearine almost a monopoly in the hands of two or three firms who also manufacture candles, and it is within their power to cripple the operations of smaller candle manufacturers who have to purchase the stearine they use. I know of two candle factories which have practically closed because they cannot buy stearine at a much lower price than that at which other makers can sell their candles.We propose to reduce the duty upon stearine to½d. per lb., in order to cheapen it for the benefit of small candle manufacturers. At the present time the duty upon the raw material, stearine, is equal to a duty of 25 per cent. ad valorem, and the duty upon the raw material, paraffine, to 50 per cent. ad valorem, while the duty upon the manufactured article, candles, . is equal to only 16 per cent. ad valorem. I do not think I could find a more typical instance than the item under discussion of the ridiculous tangles which abound in this protective Tariff. The proposals which we are making are put forward to rectify these blunders. We wish to reduce the duty upon stearine to½d. per lb., and the duty upon paraffine to¼d. per lb.
SenatorFraser. - Why not make the duty upon paraffine½d. per lb. ?
– Because the price of paraffine is only about 2d. per lb., whilst stearine costs about 4d. per lb.
– But stearine will be cheaper when tallow becomes cheaper. The price of tallow is high just now, and the article itself very scarce.
– The probability is that stearine will always be about 4d. per lb. lieally, we should not tax raw material at all, but, if we tax stearine at the rate of 12½ per cent. ad valorem, we should not place a higher duty upon paraffine. It is not my wish to destroy the candle industry, but to assist it; and the object of the amendments which have been proposed is to encourage that industry, and, incidentally, to prevent the creation of a monopoly. I am not speaking upon this subject as a freetrader. As a free-trader I should like to sweep away the duties upon all these articles.
-Foronce I find myself in agreement with honorable senators opposite. Inasmuch as very little paraffine is produced in Australia, and as it is the raw material from which candles are made, I shall be willing to vote for a reduction of the duty upon it to½d. per lb. I am not, however, going to vote for a reduction of the duty upon candles to3/4d. per lb. The facts which have been stated by Senator Clemons in regard to the candle industry are practically the same as I have gathered myself independently of him, but I shall vote for a duty of1d. per lb. upon stearine because that is a local production.
– I was surprised to hear Senator Clemons say that the proposals of the Opposition are intended to encourage the candle-making industry, but as he developed his argument it appeared that what he desires is that the candles manufactured in Australia shall be made of imported stearine. He desires to reduce the import duty upon stearine so that larger quantities of it may be imported.
– No ; to prevent the local manufacturers of stearine from charging too much for it.
– The honorable senator has shown that several firms in Australia are engaged in the manufacture of stearine, and I consider it desirable to give them encouragement. I understand that there are two processes in the manufacture of candles - the manufacture of stearine and the moulding of the candles. Senator Clemons appears not to object to the carrying on of the latter process in Australia, but he wishes to give every opportunity for the importation of stearine.
– I did not say anything of the kind.
– But the reduction of the duty must facilitate importation. We propose a duty of1d. per lb. on stearine in order to encourage the manufacture of that commodity in Australia, and so insure the making of candles from material locally produced. The object of Senator Symon’s proposal is clearly to facilitate the importation of stearine, and to the extent to which that aim isachieved our locally manufactured candles will be made of imported material. I am informed that paraffine wax is not as good as stearine for the manufacture of candles, and it is therefore considered desirable to impose adutyof1d. per lb. Thematerial must be imported, andour policy asshown by theTariff is to encourage the manufacture of candies from our own products. Senator Symon proposes to reduce the duty on candles from 1d. to3/4d. per lb. This could have only one result, namely, to facilitate the importation of foreign candles. We know that large quantities of candles could be sent in here from abroad and swamp our markets, and the obvious effect of a reduced duty would be to increase the importation of foreign candles, and to that extent to injure our local industry. Senator Pulsford says that not only as much, but ten times as much, revenue as is expected from the present duty would be obtained from the lower impost. It is estimated that £3,408 will be derived from the duty of1d. per lb. That would require an importation of 832,320 lbs.
– I was referring specially to New South Wales imports.
– If the duty were reduced to3/4d.per lb. we should require to import 1,109,793 lbs. of candles in order to obtain the same amount of revenue as I have mentioned. In order to derive ten times as much revenue, we should need to import over11,000,000 lbs. of candles. This shows the utter fallacy that some honorable senators fall into when they suppose that the reduction of a duty will result in our obtaining more revenue. To the extent to which we derived more revenue from increased importations, we should displace the article manufactured from locallyproduced materials. . In nearly all the States we have been trying to build up the candle industry for the express purpose of giving employment to our own people, and of making use of our own materials. Nearly every State is a great producer of tallow, and surely it must be to our advantage to make use of this commodity by turning it into candles instead of sending it away to the other end of the world and having it returned to us in a manufactured form.Victoria imposed a duty of1d. per lb. upon candles, with the result that several large candle factories have grown up. Queensland started ten or twelve years ago with a duty of 2d. per lb., and this has led to the establishment of a large factory, which uses local tallow, and turns out candles better and cheaper than those in use before the duty was imposed. In South Australia, Tasmania, and Western Australia, a duty of 2d. per lb. has been levied. Therefore, in four out of the five States, a duty has been levied in excess of that now proposed, and I do not think it is unreasonable to fix the duty at1d. per lb.
– In this discussion we have had a remarkable instance of the way in which industry is injured by carrying protection to extremes. The Government have evidently attempted to afford protection to the manufacturers of stearine. What is the result? That the raw material of the candle manufacturer is taxed equally with the manufactured article. Paraffine wax is a product made wholly outside of the Commonwealth. The local manufacturer of candles has to depend on the outside supply. But with regard to stearine the result has been that one or two of the candle manufacturers of Victoria have hadpractically a monopoly of the manufacture, and have been enabled to limit the production of candles. Any small manufacturer who wanted stearine had to buy from these larger manufacturers or pay the increased price caused by the duty on the imported article. The manufacture of candles has thus been kept in the hands of two or three persons. That is one of the effects of imposing protection indiscriminately. Of course the stearine manufacturer has as much right to a penny per lb. duty as the candle manufacturer. But the committee must see that if we protect both manufactures we must nullify the operation of the protection to the candle-maker. It shows that we cannot carry protection to its logical conclusion, and make it act all round. I feel certain that if the committee do not lower the duty on candles they will, at any rate, considerably reduce the duty on the raw material of the candle manufacturer.
– It is a surprise to me to find the members of the Opposition advocating a protective duty. I do not taunt them, but rather give them a pat on the back. This is an item on which we might agree, seeing that both sides practically hold the same opinion. It is agreed that candles require protection, and the free-traders are willing to impose a certain amount of duty. The Government might consent to what is suggested. There can be no doubt that if there is the same duty on the raw material as upon the finished article no protection is given to the manufacturer.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - As we are all pretty well agreed, I am prepared - and those for whom I have the honour to act concur - as a settlement of the matter to give way as to the duty of 1d. on the manufactured article.
– I am afraid that¼d. on paraffine wax is too low a duty. It is not fair to the stearine-maker, and I want to be fair all round.
– I should be pleased to see the Government meet the leader of the Opposition in what he proposes, with which most honorable senators concur. Undoubtedly this is an anomaly in the Tariff, inasmuch as it is proposed to tax the finished article to precisely the same extent as the raw material, which is absolutely necessary for the manufacturer of the article. Parraffine wax is not manufactured to any great extent in the Commonwealth, though I am given to understand that it is manufactured in New South Wales by a few individuals in the candle trade for their own purposes. It is not manufactured to sell to the rest of the trade. The leader of the Opposition has generously withdrawn his original proposal for a reduction of the duty on candles to 3/4 d., and the Government might meet him.
– I am quite willing to allow my original proposal to be negatived on the voices if my other proposals are agreed to.
– Honorable senators will understand that I do not think we ought to agree to the compromise proposed, but I can see that the committee is against me, and, therefore, I intend to allow the matter to go on the voices.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 1 5, by adding the words, “and on and after 1st July, 1902, candles …. per lb.,3/4d.” - resolved in the negative.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 15, by adding the words, “and on and after 1st July, stearine per lb.,½d., paraffine wax . . per lb.,¼d. - resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.20 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 22 May 1902, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1902/19020522_senate_1_10/>.