1st Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the choir at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator Lt.-Col. NEILD presented a petition from the moderator of the Presbytery of Wagga Wagga and the clerk of the Presbytery of Albury, praying the Senate to reject the Matrimonial Causes. Bill.
Declaration op Peace.
– With concurrence I beg to move -
I do not propose to say many words in commendation of the motion, because it appears to me to express the universal feeling of Australia. The Empire has gone through a great trial. It has metwith some reverses ; it has overcome many difficulties, and I think it has emerged triumphantly by the exercise of stupendous energy and magnificent resources. The price - the awful price - which has had to be paid has, of course, been exacted throughout the Empire as well as in the country of the brave and devoted people who have been our enemies, but who to-day are our fellow citizens. May we not hope that out of this condition of war and its necessary destruction there will come a permanent peace in South Africa, that the Briton and the Boer will unite in a common patriotism for the development of that great country, and that it may not be long before the free institutions that we have in Australia will enable a united people in South Africa to soon attain that measure of prosperity and independence which we have gained ?
– It affords me very great pleasure to second the motion. One need hardly add many words to what has been said during the last few days with regard to the rejoicing which must exist in the minds of all British-speaking people over the cessation ofthe war, which, as Senator O’Connor has pointedout, has exacted very severe’ terms, both from the victors and the vanquished. It is with feelings of pride that one can recall the way in which the difficulties that the British Empire had to encounter have been overcome. In the early stages of the war there were some dark days for the Empire, because those were the days of reversals, at a time when Great Britain did not realize the immensity of the task which she had undertaken; but more recently there has been a steady continuance of circumstances which have shown that the war was coming to an end, and, although the end has been delayed, still we feel none the less rejoiceful that it has come at last. And it is gratifying to believe that the war has ended on such terms aswill enable both the British and the Boers to live together peaceably, and to assist in forming a great confederation, which we hope will endure for all time as a union of peacefulness and kindness one towards the other. The war has done more than demonstrated the magnificent resources of the British Empire. It has shown that, no matter how far Britons may be from the centre of British rule, they form one loyal and homogeneous people; that when the Empire is threatened there are in these outlying States men who are prepared to assist in maintaining its integrity. The war has taught the world that the British nation, even if it has to stand alone at times, nevertheless is a nation of great power, great strength, and great resources, and as the result of the war our ties are more closely bound and knit together than ever they were previously. I feel sure that the whole Empire, and also the Boers who form a portion of that Empire to-day, must be. gratified to see that peace has arrived at last.
– It is with very great pleasure that I rise to support a motion of this description, because I am quite certain that, no matter what position any British subject has taken up in connexion with the war, every one is glad that it is over, and it is only the great calamity that has befallen many of the widows and orphans in Great Britain and’ her colonies that will make any disagreeable memory last for any time. I hope that the prosperity of South Africa will not be retarded, and that it will be only exampled by the good feeling which will exist among the different races who inhabit that part of the Empire. I am sure we are all gratified that the war has come to such a termination, no matter what our feelings may have been with respect to the justice of the conflict. Our enemies were a brave people, and, having secured honorable terms, they may look their fellow British subjects in the face, and live in peace with them. I hope that the peace will be of long duration.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Royal assent to the following Bills reported -
Governor-General’s Establishment Bill.
Supply Bill (No. 9).
In Committee : (Consideration resumed from Wednesday, 28th May, vide page 12937).
Division IV. - Agricultural Products and Groceries.
Item 23. - Grain and pulse, prepared or manufactured, viz. : -
Oatmeal, rolled oats, wheatmeal, pearl barley, Scotch barley, maizena, corn flour, per lb.,1/2d.
Groats, per lb.,1/2d.
Bran, pollard, and sharps, per cental,1s.
N.E.I., per cental, 2s.6d.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 23 by inserting after the words “rolled oats” the words “per lb.,1/2d., and on and after 1st July, 1902, £3 per ton.”
The proposed duty on oatmeal and rolled oats is1/2d. per lb., making £4 13s. 4d. a ton, which is a very heavy rate under normal conditions of the market. In proposing that the duty be reduced one-third - namely, to £3 per ton - I shall not attempt any pitiful story on behalf of any section of the community. Oatmeal is an article of consumption by all classes. The normal price is from £11 to £13 per ton, upon which1/2d. per lb., as proposed by the Tariff, amounts to no less than from 35 to 37 per cent. duty. I know that the rate of duty is not so high now, because oats are dear, but I am taking the normal conditions of the market. I am using as my authority a large firm, a limited liability company, which is both an importer and manufacturer of oatmeal. The duty I propose of £3 per ton would amount to about 25 per cent. Oatmeal cannot be regarded as a luxury, but is one of the standard foods of the people. I presume that the Government will oppose the motion on the score of interfering with the revenue. But I put it that a 25 per cent. charge on an article of such general consumption as oatmeal is sufficiently high, and that the prospective revenue, as shown by the Government’s own figures, is high enough.
– I oppose this motion, not only on the ground that it would mean a decrease of revenue, but also because the great bulk of the oatmeal used in Australia is manufactured within the Commonwealth. The price quoted by Senator Neild is that for ordinary oatmeal manufactured in Australia.
The imported oatmeal is of a special kind, which is sent here in parcels. Our view is that that kind of oatmeal is in the nature of a luxury, and is quite different from the ordinary article of food which is made here. There is no reason why the imported oatmeal should not pay the duty proposed to be charged upon it, and, in addition to that, following out the policy that has already induced us to make a difference between wheat, and barley and oats, I urge that if we can produce this article of a good quality there is no reason why we should not at the same time derive from it an amount of revenue beyond what Senator Neild’s proposal would give us, and also extend some incidental protection to States like Tasmania and New South Wales, where oats am be very successfully grown. I trust that the committee will not interfere with the duty, as it seems to me to be very reasonable.
– I support Senator Neild’s motion ; in fact, I would support a proposal to make oatmeal free if it were brought forward, because this is a food duty. The larger quantity of oatmeal consumed in Australia is imported, for the reason that New Zealand oatmeal is looked upon by some people as being superior to that made in the Commonwealth. I understand that the two leading brands of oatmeal in Australia are a Victorian brand and the New Zealand Maori brand. The duty proposed by the Government is practically prohibitive, and if we are going to vote for prohibition on any one article let us be consistent and have a Tariff which is prohibitive right through. We have heard throughout the debate that this is a compromise Tariff, and that prohibition is not asked for. But I am told that this duty will amount to £4 13s. 4d. per ton on imported oatmeal, the price of which is about £15 a ton. That is practically a prohibitive rate. The process of manufacture is not costly, and a large amount of Labour is not employed, because the machinery is, to a large extent, automatic. We have protected the oat-growers of the Commonwealth, but there is no reason why we should give double the protection to the man who grinds the oats into oatmeal. The grower does not get 35 per cent. protection. Nor can it be said that a lower duty will force the local manufacturers to come into competition with the cheap labour of other countries, because the greater quantity of imported oats comes from New Zealand, where the operatives are just as well treated us are those of Australia. There is no reason why the manufacturers should not be satisfied with a duty of from 15 to 20 per cent.
– Why should we not grow as good oats in Tasmania as New Zealand ?
-That is .a good argument with regard to the growing of oats, but this is a duty for the benefit of the manufacturer of oatmeal. If oatmeal were free of duty the imports would only drive the local article out of the market if the imported article were considered superior in quality, and there is no reason why the Victorian manufacturer should not be able to compete on equal terms with the New Zealand manufacturer. If there were a scarcity of oats in the Commonwealth, and the manufacturer had to pay more for his oats than the New Zealand manufacturer of oatmeal, there might be some reason for a high duty. But as it has been constantly stated that a duty on oats would not raise the price to the consumer to any great extent, it cannot be argued that the oatmeal manufacturer would have to pay more for his raw material if it were imported. There are various kinds of speciallyprepared oatmeal, such as rolled oats, which run up to a greater price. For the ordinary oatmeal, such as we obtain from New Zealand, the quotation of £15 per ton is, if anything, too high. I am given to understand that I could quote it at £12 per ton and that it is often invoiced here at that price. Therefore a duty of £3 per ton is a very high one, and if I thought that the committee would support me I should move that another place be requested to make the item free.
– It is hardly fair to tell us that the proposed duty of id. per lb. represents a certain percentage upon the wholesale price of bulk oatmeal, because there are various kinds of imported oatmeal which command a much higher price.
– They are in the minority.
– I am not sure of that. No doubt the prices quoted for bulk oatmeal by the honorable senator are substantially correct. Hordern’s. of Sydney, in a price list issued by them before the Tariff was introduced, quoted 56-lb. bags of oatmeal at 8s. each. That would give a total of £16 per ton. Uncle Toby oatmeal, in 3-lb. tins is quoted at 10£d. each, or 10s. per dozen; and 5-1 b-. bags are quoted at ls. 2d. The smaller tin commands 3Jd. per lb.
– That is because of the fancy tin.
– We have to take that into consideration. The duty applies to these special brands, and no doubt they are luxuries. The’ ordinary oatmeal can be made upon the spot from Australian oats, and no duty is payable upon it. A consideration which seems to be overlooked by many honorable senators is that all the produce of Australia passes from State to State free of duty, and that the duty relates only to the imported article. We find that the whole of the oatmeal bearing certain special brands comes from beyond the Commonwealth, and certainly some duty should be levied upon it. If we take the market price, the proposed duty is certainly a very moderate impost.
Senator MACFARLANE (Tasmania).I hope that the motion will not be pressed, for the reason that tho value of oatmeal has been understated. I have here si price-list, issued on the 31st March last by Messrs. J. T. Morton and Co., of London - one of the largest firms of exporters - which quotes oatmeal in bulk at 1 6s. 9d. per cwt., or £] 6 15s. per ton. The motion proposes that the duty shall be three-eighths of a penny per lb. instead of id. per lb., and, as oatmeal is always sold by the lb., it will be seen that, if carried, the reduced duty will afford no benefit to the consumer. Upon that ground, although I am in favour of allowing food to be introduced as cheaply as possible, I do not think that the motion should be pressed. Is this a question of revenue? I admit that I import oatmeal from New Zealand for my household, and it costs me 1 1/2d. per lb. more than does the ordinary article. I am willing to pay the increased cost, because I regard the New Zealand article as a luxury. Those who enjoy a luxury should pay for it. The poor reap the benefit of the locallymade article.
– I am pleased to hear that, although Senator Macfarlane is a fairly pronounced freetrader, he recognises that this is a fair article for taxation; that it is reasonable that we should impose the duty proposed by the Government in order that those who grow oats and manufacture oatmeal here may be protected, while, at the same time, additional revenue may be obtained for some of the States which are in need of it. I appeal to honorable senators on the other side to glance over the items which have hitherto brought in a certain amount of revenue to the different States, and I do so specially on behalf of the State from which I come. This may appear to be a very small item but, small as it is, it has returned a revenue of £2,000 a year to Queensland.
– The proposed duty is 13s. id. per ton higher than that which existed under the State Tariff of Queensland.
– Even if it is, I would appeal to honorable senators to view the matter, at all events, from the standpoint of protection as well as from that of revenue. I appeal to honorable senators from Western Australia, where the Tariff will be somewhat protective for the next five years at all events, not to be too exacting in their desire to give full effect to their free-trade principles, and not to support an ything that may be calculated to dislocate the finances of the smaller States. If we are going to reduce item after item - and the reductions made have been enormous, so far as they affect Queensland - where shall we land ourselves ? My honorable friends opposite should have some regard to the growers of oats and the manufacturers of oatmeal in the Commonwealth as well as to the revenue. Queensland has suffered enormously, and it will suffer still more if the motion be carried.
– I am governed in this, as well as in every other right matter, by a principle. My object is that Australia shall be as nearly as possible self-supporting. That is the foundation upon which I seek to build. Oatmeal can be produced in Tasmania, Victoria, and New South Wales, and therefore I am going to assist in keeping out oatmeal sent from any other country. Senator Pearce has requested us not to tax the food of the people : but surely it is an ambition that every man should keep in mind, that we should be entirely self-supporting as far as our food supplies are concerned.
– -.A collection of Robinson Crusoes.
– I do not care what the honorable and learned senator calls it. We may be a collection of Robinson Crusoes, or a kind of zoological exhibition ; that is nothing to me. Honorable senators of the Opposition are more anxious to see ships sailing out of Sydney than they are in regard to any other matter relating to the Commonwealth. I feel that I must support the duty as proposed by the Government:
– Senator Stewart seems to regard this duty as affording protection to the grower. As a matter of fact, however, it fails to benefit the grower in any direction; it is a protective duty on oatmeal, and simply affords protection to the miller. The grower is affected by the duty upon oats, and with that we have dealt already. The question arises, Does the miller want this protection 1 I have before me a wholesale price list issued on the 30th April last by Messrs. Bartram and Sons, of Victoria, in which they quote oatmeal for export at 5s. per dozen packets of 2 lbs. each. The brand of oatmeal referred to is, I believe, Messrs. Harper and Co.’s “Tam o’Shanter.” I am also awarethat Harper and Co. quote the same brand at 6s. per dozen packets of 2 lbs. each for consumption within the State. It is evident, therefore, that not only does the consumer in Victoria have to pay the duty of 1/2d per lb. before he obtains his oatmeal, but that, as Messrs. Bartram and Sons are able to ship this brand of oatmeal at 5s. per dozen packets to the foreign consumer, the protection of 1/2d. per lb. is unnecessary. These people do not ship oatmeal at a loss, and if they can export oatmeal at the price I have stated, they should be able to sell it locally at the same rate. The existence of this protective duty of £d. per lb. constitutes the reason for their failure to do so. I am sorry that Senator Neild has not moved to make oatmeal free ; as. he has not done so, I shall certainly support his motion, which will, to a certain extent, reduce the price.
– Senators Matheson and Neild have raised the question of a manufacturer exporting an article at a cheaper rate than that at which he sells it for home consumption. I desire to make the reason foi1 that clear as I can from the little commercial knowledge I have. Senators Matheson and Neild should have sufficient commercial knowledge to enable them to understand that one of the reasons why an export trade can be carried on cheaper than a local trade is that it requires less handling, and is done in greater bulk. That applies not only to the trade in oatmeal, but in other articles that for the local trade have to be made up in small parcels for retail storekeepers, and not in large bulk as in the export trade. Senators Pearce and Matheson have said that this is not a protective duty so far as the grower of oats is concerned. It would be a very peculiar kind of protection to put a duty upon oats, and then allow the article manufactured from the oats to come in free. Where a duty is placed upon an article manufactured from oats, it must protect the local manufacture of the article, and the local producer of the raw material. With respect to the cost to the consumer, and the quality of the article produced, I put myself up as an authority upon oatmeal. I have eaten it for 53 years, and by this time I should be a fairly good judge. I have taken some little notice of the trade, because I have had an interest in the matter as a consumer. Queensland had a duty of £4 per ton on oatmeal ; South Australia, £2 per ton ; in New South Wales it was free, and in Victoria there was a duty of 9s. per cental. What was the result of that 1 The result was that the growing of oats was carried on’ to a greater extent in Victoria, and I could get oatmeal in Melbourne cheaper than in Adelaide, Sydney, or Brisbane. I can assure honorable senators that I do not disguise the taste of oatmeal by putting a lot of sugar ‘ on it, and without sugar the oatmeal produced in Victoria tastes better than any oatmeal we can import. The oatmeal produced in Victoria and in the Mount Gambier district of South Australia, where the)’ have begun its manufacture only within the last two years, is as good as new oatmeal produced in Scotland. A great deal of pains used to be taken to send oatmeal from the old country. It used to be sent in barrels, and packed in different ways, but the voyage from the old country to Australia never improved its value. Unlike whisky and wine, this is an article which does not improve with age. They have actually put oatmeal produced in Scotland into tanks hermetically sealed, and sent it out here in that way. But any one who knows anything about it will be aware that when it is placed upon the local market it is not as good as the local product, though it may have been as good when it left Scotland. This duty, small as it is, will be a protection to the grower of oats and the manufacturer of oatmeal, and we have proof from the result of the Tariffs which have hitherto existed, that it will add nothing to the cost of oatmeal to the consumer. Western Australia will be able to get oatmeal from Tasmania, Victoria, and South Australia free, and will not need to pay any more for it than she has had to pay in the past.
– It was free in Perth.
– It was free in Perth, but the information I had from people on the Western Australian gold-fields was that they had to pay almost half as much again for it as people had to pay in Melbourne.
– It was cheaper in Perth than in Melbourne. I have bought it in both places.
– I do not believe the honorable senator would know good oatmeal if he tasted it. This duty will be a protection to the producer and manufacturer. It will not injure the consumer, and as it will be a benefit to the whole Commonwealth, I hope honorable senators will allow it to remain as it is.
– I think I heard Senator Pearce say just now that this is a food, and he would not like to increase the price to the consumer by putting a duty upon it. I would like to know from the honorable senator whether he really thinks the duty would increase the price ?
– I do.
– I can show that the imposition of a duty does not increase the price in the case of oatmeal. I have in my hand the Sydney Trade Review and Prices Current for September 28, 1901, that is prior to the introduction of the Tariff in the House of Representatives. It will be remembered that there was no duty in New South Wales at the time upon oatmeal, and these are the prices given : - “Excelsior Mills oatmeal, £24 per ton ; other brands, £19 to £14 per ton.” A duty of Id. per lb. was proposed by the Government in the Tariff as introduced, but the House of Representatives reduced that duty on 29th November to £d. per lb,., which we are told amounts to £4 13s. 4d. per ton. What was the effect of the imposition of that duty % I quote the prices from the same publication, dated 15th February, 1902 : - “ Excelsior milled, £24 per ton ; other brands, £19 to £14 per ton/’ or exactly the same as in September last. These are quotations which will not be disputed by members representing New South Wales, who probably know this publication better than I do. We find that the prices are precisely the same several months after the Tariff of id. per lb. has been in force as before it was introduced, when oatmeal was free ia New South Wales. This should convince any one that a protective duty does not increase the price of oatmeal. Senator McGregor has just told us that he could buy oatmeal in Victoria, where there was a duty of 9s. per cental, or roughly, £9 or ±’10 a ton, better and cheaper than in other States of Australia.
– Then why did they not send it to the Sydney market, which was open to all comers 1
– Because the Sydney merchants would trick them.
– I was rather surprised to hear Senator Matheson suggesting that oatmeal should be admitted free, and that there should be a duty upon oats. That is an extraordinary view to take, but it is the sort of inconsistency which free-traders seem to revel in. Here is an honorable senator who would put a duty upon grain, but who, when that grain is manufactured into an article for home consumption, would admit it free.
– Senator Matheson was against the duty upon grain.
– I remind the honorable and learned senator that there was no vote taken upon oats at all. The committee was unanimous in that case, and so Senator Matheson must have voted for the duty.
– That is a most unfair and ungenerous statement. The honorable senator must know perfectly well why no vote was taken.
– I do not. I was waiting here expecting a vote to be taken, and I was surprised to find it carried on the voices. The figures to which I have referred prove that the imposition of this duty will not add to the cost of oatmeal to the consumer by a single farthing.
– I hope Senator Neild’s motion will not be carried.
Senator Pearce has somewhat mistaken the situation if he thinks that this duty will not give any protective benefit to Australians. He bases his opposition to the duty on the ground that the greater part of the work is done by machinery. I think I can show him that he has not looked into the question very closely. The honorable senator says that the duty will protect only a few millers, and that it will not employ any labour in grinding the oats. i Senator Pearce. - What I said was that there is no difference in cost of labour between Australia and New Zealand.
– The honorable senator also said that it is principally machinery that is used in grinding the oats. We should remember that a great deal of labour is required to take the oats to the mills, to remove the oatmeal from the mills, and to manufacture the machinery for grinding the oats. New Zealand seems to be troubling some honorable senators. I do not see why we should have so much regard for the interests of New Zealand farmers as against the interests of Australian farmers. That colony is not a part of the Commonwealth, and, therefore, we should not be very much concerned about its interests. I hope that the item will not be altered, and that many other items will be passed to-day without alteration and without man)’speeches from either side, for I am as anxious as is any honorable senator on the other side to see the Tariff passed.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia). - Senator Styles quoted the figures for two particular months in his endeavour to show that the price of oatmeal had been raised.
– No; what 1 said was that the price in both instances was precisely the same.
– The honorable senator quoted the price in Sydney, but why did he not tell us that during the period the price of oats had risen in that market 1
– But the price of oatmeal has not risen.
– The rise in the value of oats explains why the price of the manufactured article has risen. The honorable senator might as well have stated that the price of the raw material had risen, and that therefore the price of the manufactured article had risen.
– But he did not say that the price had-risen.
– The honorable senator said that the price of oats was higher before the duty was imposed than it was after it was imposed. In South Australia, where they used to have a duty of 2s. per cental or1/2d. per lb., the price of a 7-lb. bag of oatmeal was from1s. 2d. to1s. 3d. before the Tariff was imposed, and from1s. 8d. to1s. 9d. after it was. imposed. Senator Stewart’s appeal for protection for this industry would lead one to believe that we cannot manufacture oatmeal of as good quality as that produced outside the Commonwealth. If we can compete in the manufacture of oatmeal, why do we need a protection against the outside world? So far as New Zealand and Victoria are concerned, Western Australia was the same as the world’s market, and yet it imported 503 tons of oatmeal from Victoria, and only 144 tons from New Zealand.
– I suppose because the Victorian is better.
– If Victorian oatmeal is better than New Zealand oatmeal, why is a duty needed? Honorable senators are putting a very low estimate on the quality of the oatmeal, and the ability of the industry to stand competition, when they ask that it should be protected against the New Zealand product. In 1900 New South Wales imported 19,527 tons of oatmeal and rolled oats, while the exports were nil. Victoria imported 1,542 centals of oatmeal and rolled oats, and exported 11,616 centals. If honorable senators wish to safeguard the revenue they had better vote for a lower duty, because the higher duty in Victoria has practically been a prohibitive one.
– The duty is not prohibitive.
– It trenches on prohibition. Three pounds a ton is a fair revenue duty, and, at the same time, it is strongly protective.
Senator STYLES (Victoria). - I wish to point out the mistake that Senator Pearce has fallen into. It is quite true that the duty on oats was imposed at the same time as the duty on oatmeal ; but the honorable senator does not seem to have noticed that the duty on oats is only 30s. per ton, while the duty on oatmeal is 90s. per ton. He has remarked that I did not tell the whole story. Although it is quite true that a duty of 30s. a ton on oats has been imposed, in New South Wales the price of oatmeal was the same after the Federal Tariff was introduced as it was before that time.
Senator Lt.-Col. NEILD (New South Wales).-The Sydney Trade Review and Prices Current shows that there is rather a long price - £24 a ton - charged for one brand of oatmeal, and that other brands are worth £19 per ton. If we deduct the duty of £4 13s. 4d. per ton from the quoted price of these other brands, the result agrees with what has been said by Senator Pearce. Messrs, Gollin and Co. Proprietary Limited, of Melbourne and Sydney - a leading firm - state that the average price of common oatmeal in the market is from £11 to £13 per ton. It is little better than a financial outrage to impose a duty of £4 13s.4d. on a ton of oatmeal worth £11 or £13. It is of no use to quote the present price of oats and oatmeal for the purpose of influencing this controversy. The price of oats to-day is 3s. 4d. per bushel. What is the normal price? The chairman of the grain section of the Sydney Chamber of Commerce tells me that oats usually range from1s.10d. to 2s. 3d. per bushel. If the value of oats has risen from 1s.10d. to 3s. 4d. we can readily understand a very considerable rise in the price of oatmeal. I wish this question to be dealt with from the stand-point of normal conditions of trade, and not from the stand-point of the exceptional conditions existing to-day.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 23 by inserting after the words “ rolled oats “ the words “per lb.1/2d., and on and after 1st July, 1902, £3 per ton”- put. The committee divided -
Noes … … … 14
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 23 by adding to the duty “ Bran, pollard, and sharps, percental,1s.,” the words, “and on and after 1st July, 1002, free.”
I move this motion because, leaving out the question of revenue,which would not amount to anything, the articles involved are those upon which it would be impossible to collect any duty whatever except in times of public calamity through drought.
– I think the committee will see that if the line we have already dealt with is to be charged with duty, it must follow that the articles proposed to be made free by Senator Neild should also be dutiable.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 23by adding to the duty, “Grain and pulse . . . n.e.i., per cental, 2s. 6d.,” the words, “and on and after 1st July, 1902, 1s.6d.”
It will be remembered that we had a division upon the duty on grain and pulse, in volving the point whether the goods should be free or not. Now we come to tha grain and pulse, n.e.i. It is plain that this duty is intended to apply to flour, and as we have Agreed to make wheat free of duty, the motion I propose now deals chiefly with flour. It would be only a natural thing that we should free flour from taxation, as we have done with regard to wheat, but all I propose is to reduce the duty by 1s. per cental, making the rate1s. 6d. per cental. This will come to something like 30s. a ton benefit to the manufacturers of flour in the States. The argument used in dealing with wheat, was largely that the States have become exporters in large quantities, and that there was no reason why a protective duty upon wheat should be imposed, especially as the duty represented a tax on the food of mankind. I find on looking up Coghlan’s statistics that the amount of flour imported during 1900 was very small indeed.New South
Wales imported flour to the value of £18,812, chiefly from Manitoba. The other States do not appear to have imported flour from outside at all. The export of flour from New South Wales during the same year amounted to £98,000. Victoria exported to the value of £122,000, and South Australia to the value of £200,000. Altogether the three States I have mentioned exported flour to the value of £420,000. It is also a reasonable thing that some relief should be given to the consumer in connexion with this commodity. The desire of the side of the House for which I speak has been as far as possible to give the consumer the fullest and best opportunity of purchasing whatever he requires for his ordinary everyday consumption at the lowest possible price. I have great reliance upon the vote of the committee in submitting the motion.
– Senator Gould has referred to the fact that the committee has made wheat free of duty, but that need not necessarily influence the vote upon this item. The argument upon which the motion in regard to wheat was carried was entirely different to the considerations that apply to flour. It was urged that wheat was a necessary part of the feed of stock during seasons of drought. I feel sure that, if it had not been for that argument, the majority of the committee would not have differentiated wheat from oats and other grains that were dealt with certainly no such argument can be used in regard to flour. Its manufacture requires elaborate machinery ; and is there any reason in the world why the whole of the flour required should not be manufactured in the Commonwealth, and why we should not export as well ? The fact that we do not export flour does not affect the question of whether there should be a duty or not. It may happen that in some years California will have a glut of flour which may lead to extraordinary quantities being sent here at low rates. That is the reason why we ask the committee to keep on the duty on flour. No doubt if there were a heavy duty on flour it might influence the price of bread in times of great scarcity, but the duty hitherto imposed has not had that effect. Its only effect has been to keep up a permanent steady market, and to encourage farmers to put in large crops of wheat, because they knew not only that they had a large market for their wheat, but that there was also a market for flour. There have been duties in the various States in the past. In ‘Victoria the duty was twice as high as that now proposed. In Queensland the rate was £1 a ton ; in South Australia a little less ; in Tasmania a little less ; and in Western Australia 30s. a ton. It cannot be said that the duties have operated to the detriment of the consumer ; and it is only fair and just to those who produce wheat that they should know not only that there is a market for the export of wheat, but that there is also a demand for it to be ground into flour.
– Senator O’Connor was scarcely fair in saying that the arguments used against the duty on wheat were not applicable to the duty on flour. The argument that wheat during times of drought was used as food for stock was only incidentally part of the argument against the duty. For instance, Senator O’Keef e distinctly said that he was in favour of making wheat free, because he recognised that wheat is the raw material of flour, and flour is an absolute necessity as food. It was for that reason, and also because a duty on wheat was unnecessary, that we decided to knock it off. The VicePresident of the Executive Council has quoted the duties that were in force in the various States prior to the Federal Tariff coming into operation. I think that such quotations are always useless. Very often they are utterly misleading. We all know that these duties were imposed not t6 protect the State in question against the out-‘ side world, but rather as an act of retaliation against a foolish neighbour. I am surprised that Senator O’Connor did not refrain from quoting the duties which formerly existed in the various States, for the quotation was decidedly against him. It showed very plainly that prior to federation all the States, with the exception of Victoria, imposed a duty lower than that proposed by the Government. The proposed duty of ls. 6d. per cental will, if carried, amount to 30s. per ton, and I submit to ardent protectionists that such a duty ought to be ample, even from their point of view. I am certain that it will prevent imported flour from entering our local market, unless we should be reduced to the terrible extremity of a local production insufficient for the wants of the Commonwealth. If we were in such a position, a duty of 30s. per ton would certainly be quite enough to bear. As. a matter of fact, however, we know that this duty will be inoperative, and that the freight on flour would alone practically prevent its importation. On the other hand, if we consent to the duty proposed by the Government, we shall run a slight risk of the formation of a millers’ ring to put up prices here.
– This is only one-half the amount of the duty imposed under the Victorian State Tariff.
– The duty proposed by the Government is decidedly above the average of all the previous State duties.
– I said that, with the exception of Victoria, the duty was either equal to or less than that proposed by the Government.
– If that argument is worth anything, I wonder that Senator O’Connor does not accept the motion. He has recited the list of duties formerly prevailing under the State Tariffs, and although he tells us now that in every State, with the exception of Victoria, the duty was either equal to or less than that now proposed, he still opposes the motion. I urge the committee to accept it. If carried, it will afford an abundance of protection to the millers and farmers, and will certainly act against the possible formation of a trust in the Commonwealth to put up the price of flour.
– I opposed the remission of the duty on wheat, and for the same reason I shall vote against the abolition of this duty. We have been told of the exports- of wheat and flour from the States, and it is because we have extensive exports that we really require protection for the producer of these commodities. We know that the grain and flour export trade is confined for the most part to merchants and big buyers, and if we impose a duty of ls. 6d. instead of 2s. 6d. per cental on flour, it will be quite possible for a ring of exporters to import 1,000 tons of flour at a loss of ls. 6d. per cental in order to bring down the price of the local article. A ring of exporters would be prepared to lose the amount of the duty of ls. 6d. per cental on 1,000 tons of flour if they believed that the effect of the importation would be to bring down the price of 100,000 tons of local flour by 10s. pelton. A “ gag “ which is very often used by wheat merchants, when our producers seek to obtain a fair price for their produce, is that they will import grain from California. Such importations would have the effect of bringing down the price by Id. per bushel, and if by means of importing 1,000 tons of flour at a loss of 30s. per ton, a ring could compel the flour producers here to reduce their price by 10s. per ton, they would be able to make a profit of £50,000 on 100,000 tons.
– Why should that not occur with the duty at 2s. 6d. per cental 1
– There would not be the same danger, and the danger of such a combination would be still less if the duty were 5s. per cental. However, we do not wish to make the impost prohibitive, because in that case there might be the possibility of a millers’ ring. With a moderate duty such as that proposed by the Government, a ring would be impossible, while it would be less possible for the exporter to import with the object of reducing the prices of the local article. These are some reasons why even when we have an export trade we should, remember the people in framing the Tariff. The duty proposed by the Government will be a protection to our producers, and some little guarantee that the market will not be rigged, at least without risk, by the wheat buyers of Australia, who, as we know, are few in number. We know that these things have happened, and I hope the committee will agree to the Government proposal.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales).Senator McGregor has been careful not to refer to one very important fact. He imagined some wonderful manipulation of the wheat market, but he failed to mention that under the motion to reduce the duty the position of the vendor of wheat would be very much better than it was under the Tariff as first introduced here. When the Tariff reached us it provided for a duty of ls. Cd. per cental on wheat and 2s. 6d. per cental upon flour, leaving only ls. per cental as the difference between the two duties. As we have removed the duty on wheat, Senator Neild’s motion will, if carried, make a difference of ls. 6d. per cental, or afford 50 per cent, more protection against the imported article than was the case under the Tariff as introduced here. If it would be possible for the manipulation suggested by Senator McGregor to take place under the proposal made by Senator Neild, it could have taken place, with 50 per cent, more profit to those who rigged the market, under the Tariff as it reached us. It is absolutely clear that the measure of protection proposed by the motion in conjunction with the previous duty, is 50 per cent, higher than that proposed by the Government. If the Government proposal of a difference of ls. per cental, between the duties on wheat and flour, was considered sufficient, surely it is idle to say that the duty proposed in the motion would be insufficient when it will make a difference of ls. 6d. per cental. I intend to vote for the motion for that reason. If it had proposed that the duty should be ls. instead of ls. 6d. per cental, it would have still afforded the protection recognised by the Government as necessary
– I think that the point put by Senator Millen is a very important one, and that no protectionist, who was prepared to adopt the original proposal made by the Government, can grumble at the motion. This is one of the food duties which has been felt to press very heavily upon the people of Western Australia. Throughout that State there has been a great agitation for the abolition of the duty, and I am sorry that it is not proposed that flour shall be duty free, although I have no intention of moving in that direction. In Western Australia there was only a protection of ls. 2d. per cental to the miller ; but the people there considered that it was exorbitant. I am not going to help to make the position in Western Australia worse; therefore I support the motion.
– I propose to vote for the motion, because it appears to me that the protection which it will afford will be absolutely fair to the producer, apart altogether from the fact that it is really more than the protection which the Government originally proposed. The reduced duty would amount practically to over 30s. per ton. It must be remembered also that the natural protection against flour from New Zealand must represent an extra £1 or 30s. per ton, and that if flour is imported from America there must be a natural protection of about £2 per ton. So that the protection which the motion would give to the miller would be from £2 10s. to £3 10s. per ton, which I think is ample.
– I shall support the reduction of this duty, because I recognise it as another of the iniquitous food duties. It will only operate when food-stuffs are scarce, and surely at such a time we should welcome imports so that our people might get cheap food? I find that New South Wales, in 1900, imported 59,487 centals of wheatmeal and flour, and exported 528,834 centals. Victoria, in the same year, imported 6 centals, and exported 637,666 centals. Surely an industry which is so well established as this is shown to be by the large exports and small imports quoted does not require protection, and the proposal made by Senator Neild is sufficient? It is very interesting to see the attitude adopted by the British working men on the question of the corn duties. I have here a copy of a cablegram which appeared in the Age of Friday, 30th May, 1902. It reads-
London, 29th May. - A conference of 170 trade union delegates, representing in the aggregate 1 , 000,000 working men, met yesterday in London, and passed resolutions protesting against the new Budget duties on corn and flour.
There might be some defence for a protective duty of this character in the old country if we admit that protection benefits the grower, because, although I do not admit it, we are told that the agricultural industry in the old country is in a languishing condition. “We are exporting food products from Australia, and the old country is now importing food products, and protectionists there might very well say - “ Let us put a duty upon these imports in order that our local growers may have a show.” In Australia, where we produce far more than is sufficient for the local consumption, and where we export large quantities of flour, it is ridiculous in the extreme to suggest a duty upon the article. I have said that it is only in a time of drought and scarcity, when the local supply is insufficient, and when we must import, even if the duty be 10s. per cental, that such a duty becomes operative. It is only when people require to be able to get cheap foods, because they have little money to purchase it, that this duty can become operative, and on that ground it is iniquitous, because that is when people will most feel the pressure of it.
– I can well understand that a duty upon grain and flour might be objected to in the old country, because they do not produce any there now. They used to produce grain and flour, and if protection had been continued to them, they would be producing those articles now. But the free-traders ruined the producers absolutely. Senator Dobson spoke of the high freights upon flour being a great protection, and the honorable and learned senator talked of £2 a ton.
– Added to the duty.I was speaking of the total protection.
– I think the honorable and learned senator mentioned £2 10s. as freight from California and the other side of the world. As a matter of fact, the freight to Australia would not be more than about 1 0s. per ton. Flour has been brought to China and Hong Kong at 4s. 6d. a ton from Vancouver and San Francisco, and it could be brought on here for another 4s. or 5s. per ton.
– Has any ever been brought here?
– Yes, flour was brough t to Sydney in 1896. It was taken right by Melbourne to Sydney, as it could not belanded here because there was a duty of £5 a ton imposed upon it in Victoria.
– Was that the time when they were mixing flour into dough at Albury and carting it over to Wodonga?
– No, and neither was it the time when free-trade New South Wales charged 2s. 6d. a ton for taking coal over from Victoria. We could bring flour from New Zealand for from 13s. to 14s. . per ton, and we know that that would be no protection at all, because, as I have previously said, it will cost that much to bring it from numbers of railway stations in Victoria to Melbourne. On the question of whether the duty increases the price of Hour, I have alreadygiven a statement which lias not been contradicted. I took the prices at the end of each quarter of the two years-. 1898 and 1900, and showed that the average price of flour in Melbourne to the consumer was 4s. per ton less than in Sydney, though there was no duty upon flour in New South Wales, and in Victoria there was a duty of £5 per ton. The duty in this case made no , difference at all, because internal competition, where there are a number of local producers, will always keep prices down.. Men growing wheat at Wangaratta will prefer to sell it on their farms if possible. Every man wishes to sell in the nearest market, because it pays him better. He gets ready cash, and does not have to pay for borrowed money. It was the internal competition amongst the producers inVictoria that kept the price of flour down, and honorable senators will remember that I showed that not only was flour 4s. per ton cheaper in Melbourne than in Sydney, -but that the Victorian farmer got a penny per bus] iel more for his wheat than the New South Wales farmer, although in Victoria we had a duty of ls. 9d. per bushel on wheat. In New South Wales the middle-man, as usual, took the profit. I cannot understand why there should be any objection to the duties proposed by the Government, which are only half those imposed by the previous Victorian Tariff. No one has ever alleged that there, was a flour ring formed in Victoria, as there was in the case of imported coal. There are too many wheat growers, and too many millers, and they are in too small a way of business to form a ring. I do not mean to say that the manufacturers will not form .a ting. I do not know that they are very much better than the importers. Every man, I suppose, takes advantage of a chance to make the most money he can out of his business. But it is our duty to prevent that sort of thing, and one means of preventing “ rings” is to have a duty upon flour, and upon grain also. I hope the duty of 2s. 6d. will be allowed to stand, though, personally, I should like to see it fixed at 5s. If that would increase the price to the consumer, I would say that we should not impose such a duty, but I have shown that our -experience of a duty in Victoria for years past, has proved that it has not increased the price of flour to the consumer.
– The doctrines preached by Senator Styles are a very fair illustration of the unbending spirit of the protectionists, of the lack of compromise on the part of honorable senators opposite, and of the way in which they are prepared to meet the compromises we are continually putting forward from this side. The Government have put before us a Tariff in which they ask for a difference of ls. per cental between wheat and flour. We actually offer a duty of ls. 6d. on flour, and Senator Styles at once declares that if this is accepted, the flour trade of Australia will go to what Mr. Mantalini would call “ the demnition bow - wows.” It is nonsense. Is there any honorable senator who believes anthing of the sort 1 Nearly the whole of last year good quality flour was selling in Melbourne at about £6 per ton. The duty of 30s. per ton which we offer is equal to 25 per cent, upon that price. Is not that more than enough t After all, the duty will be non-protective, because, as Senator
Styles lias shown, the value of the local article will not be affected by the duty. It will have no operation, except at occasional times, when there is a great scarcity of the local supply, as there happens to be to-day. With us flour is a great article of export. We export tens of thousands of tons. But it happens that there is a small quantity of flour coming here from Canada. What is known as Manitoba flour, which is very rich in gluten, and very much liked by bakers, is imported. I believe that even the bakers of Victoria are using a small quantity of this flour to mix with the weaker Australian flour. A small quantityof some special qualities of flour may continue to be imported, and this duty of 30s. per ton which we propose will in that case act as a revenue duty, and a very big revenue duty it will be. Under all the circumstances, I confess that I am astounded at the moderation of honorable senators on this side, and the extent to which we have been willing to sacrifice our principles, to meet those who will not meet us at any price.
– Some honorable senators have stated that agriculture is nearly at an end in the old country; and I must say that the figures regarding wheat production bear out their statements to some extent. The acreage under wheat was 3,630,300 acres in 1874; 1,809,161 acres in 1897; 2,102,206 acres in 1898 ; 2,000,981 acres in 1899; 1,845,042 acres in 1900 ; and 1,7O0,82S acres in 1901. Honorable senators will notice the great diminution in the acreage under wheat production. A large portion of the land has been turned into deer parks. Senator Pulsford has asked that we shall deal with this question in a spirit of compromise. Who has ever known the honorable senator to compromise on the subject of free-trade? He is a staunch, adamantine free-trader, who never gives away a point. With either freetrade or protection I am inclined to think that there would be wheat rings and flour rings. In Queensland there has been a wheat ring ‘for a considerable time. I do not believe that the abolition of the duty would have prevented its formation. Its emissaries go round to the farmers and buy the crops in advance, and so far from the farmers getting the benefit of the present high price of wheat, they have the dismal satisfaction of knowing that they have “ missed the bus. “ Honorable senators who make these propositions seem to me to lose sight of the best method of helping the consumers. If they are so anxious to help the consumers to get cheap food supplies, the way to attain that object is not by abolishing the duty on the articles, but by establishing State central flour mills, at which the farmer can have his wheat turned into flour. Senator Pearce has referred to the iniquitous food duties. If honorable senators should decide to keep down the price of food supplies to a starvation rate, what are the fanners and food producers to do ? Unless these producers can get a fair price for their products they cannot live ; they will have either to leave their farms and compete with the artisans in the manufacturing centres, or to go on to the sheep-walks. If the duty is to be inoperative, there is no harm in letting it stand. There may be a danger in removing the duty, because the products of foreign countries may compete unfairly with our farmers, and make them turn their attention to something else.
– Why did it not do so in New South Wales, where we had no duties for years?
– And where wheat production has increased hand over hand.
– In New South Wales there have been rings. In a newspaper lately I read about a firm at Wellington that had a record wheat stack. What is a stack of58,000 bags but a corner in wheat production? As many rings could be found in New South Wales under free-trade as could be found anywhere, and the way to operate against the rings is not by the removal of the duties, but through the medium of the State Parliament. I hope that honorable senators will not be drawn off the track by an exaggeration of the cry of a free breakfast table. While a free breakfast table may appear on the face of it a very good thing, it may be the means of doing much harm to the general community, because it may put the artisans, the farming employes, and many of the workers generally in such a position that they will not have the money with which to buy cheap food products.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 23 by adding to the duty “ Grain and pulse . . . n.e.i., per cental, 2s. 6d.,” the words “and on and after 1st July, 1902,1s. 6d.”- put. The committee divided -
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Item 24. - Hay and chaff, per cwt. ,1s.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 24 by adding the words “ and on and after 1st July, 1902, free.”
I understand that since the committee last met, some communications on this subject have taken place between the Commonwealth Government and the State Governments. I do not know whether Senator O’Connor would prefer that the consideration of this item should stand over until a deputation which, I understand, is to wait on the Acting PrimeMinister has been received and replied to.
– No ; the honorable senator had better go on with his speech.
– While I think that this item should not be placed on the free list for all time, I am much more concerned to see that the duty is removed for the present than as to what will happen afterwards, because I can see that the pastoral interest in the two large States is much less able to pay the extra price now demanded than it will be to pay the prices that will be charged in normal years.
-As I pointed out the other evening, the question of what the policy of this Tariff should be, and the question of what the Government should do under the existing conditions, are entirely’ separate, and I wish to keep them separate. The fullest consideration is being given to the matter which Senator Millen mentioned, and, no doubt, a pronouncement will be made publicly by the Acting Prime Minister to-morrow. From the records of the other House, I find that this item was carried by a majority of nine votes. I do not intend to go over the ground, which has been pretty well traversed, in regard to the duties on produce. J! say again, that the object of this duty is permanently to steady the market for our own produce. If the duty is taken off the market is reduced to a state of uncertainty, and our growers are deprived of the benefit they ought to have. On the other hand, the duty does not interfere with the price to the consumer in any way except to a certain extent in times of great drought and scarcity j and they are the occasions when I the farmers in those parts of Australia which have plenty are entitled to make their profit in the ordinary way in which business people make profit. On the last occasion on which this subject was referred to, some honorable senators spoke of my extreme callousness in putting forward an argument of this kind. I would say respectfully that the whole basis of trade is the making of profit one out of another, and what reason there is why a farmer should not make his profit sis well as anybody else I cannot understand. His commodities are sold very often at a rate at which he loses. He has to put up with all kinds of difficulties, through floods, fires, and other adverse conditions, extending sometimes over a long period of years. Surely when the time conies for sending up the price of an article he is entitled to make his profit. I trust, that the committee will adhere to the item and pass it just as it is.
– I hope that the committee will not follow the advice tendered by the VicePresident of the Executive Council. If the records are referred to it will be found that little or no hay and chaff have been imported into the Commonwealth for a considerable time past. In the year 1900 there were comparatively no imports except from State to State. The argument of the Vice-President of the Executive Council is that it is not an unreasonable thing to impose this duty, as it is inoperative under ordinary circumstances, and he contends that he does not show callousness with regard to the* troubles of others in saying that the duty should be kept on in order that a number of persons may be benefited. At the present time not one State merely, but many States are suffering from drought. States like New South Wales and Queensland have for a long time past been suffering most severely. Are we going to accentuate that trouble in order to benefit those in Victoria and Tasmania who are better situated with regard to supplies of fodder? To benefit them we should be sacrificing the great bulk of the people, who are struggling against misfortune. If the Commonwealth were not in existence, New South Wales and Queensland would have had absolutely free ports for the importation of grain and fodder for sheep and cattle. But because they have come into the Commonwealth they are punished.
– How does the honorable and learned senator make that out?
– In the first place New South Wales had no duty whatever upon grain and fodder, and there can be no doubt that Queensland would have remitted her duties long ago in response to the urgent appeals of her people. But because they are members of the brotherhood of States, which ought to help one another, we are going to punish them in order that one or two of the States which have a small surplus .may have an opportunity of obtaining advantage of it, by taking money out of the pockets of the people of the other States, who are not simply in an ordinary tight corner,’ but are driven to desperate straits. It should also be remembered that as stock die, the depression will be felt in the other States in which no stock have been lost. There are many residents of Victoria to-day who are largely interested in stations in . Queensland and New South Wales. Those persons will be punished just as severely as though they were residing in States in which they own stations. But apart from that, if one State is afflicted severely the evil must ultimately affect the other States. In Sydney public meetings have been held to urge the Government to give relief, and a deputation has come all the way from that city to interview the Federal Government on the subject. It may be said that the States themselves should give relief. They are doing so to a considerable extent. In New South Wales, where the railway rates for the carriage of hay wereat a maximum of 23s. per ton, they were reduced to less than half, and have since been reduced to a few shillings. The Government of New South Wales have also intimated their willingness to forego the duty, so far as they are concerned. Hay and chaff are bulky articles for export purposes. If they are brought from a distance, there is a heavy charge for freight, because of the amount of room they occupy. That is a natural protection to the farmers who have stocks of these commodities. Some time ago New South Wales had 60,000,000 sheep. This number was reduced to 40,000,000, andsince then has sustained a further reduction by8,000,000.
– What bank is the owner ?
– This in a sense is national property, and the banks are just as much entitled to have the money advanced returned to them as any private individual would be. If our flocks and herds are reduced in number, the employment to working men is decreased. It is well known that pastoralists and persons engaged in squatting pursuits, are large employers of labour. It is, therefore, from all points of view, incumbent upon us to ask for assistance in this grave emergency. Last week Senator Fraser told us, from personal experience, of the grave difficulties that at present exist, and the urgent need for relief. I trust that honorable senators will accept the amendment, realizing that the Government admit that they expect no revenue from the duty, and that in ordinary years it will not pay any man to import fodder.
– I suppose that in taking up the position I do, I may be deemed to be a very hard-hearted individual. In referring to the pastoralists as a class. I do not allude to the individual squatter, who is fast becoming extinct, but to the banking and mortgage institutions who own the greater portion of the squatting properties, and have been only too successful in appealing to the States for pauper relief. I submit that inasmuch as this squatting class have done their level best to keep farmers from settling on the land at all, we should not now in their interest throw open the ports to cheap foreign productions which will compete unfairly with our farmers. We should let matters take their own course. If the States Governments feel disposed to relieve the squatters, that is not a matter for the Federal Government.
– Vengeance on the squatters !
– Is the term vengeance applicable to opposition to this proposal, when we see in the monetary columns of the daily press statements of the profits made by the various banking institutions ? The Bank of New South Wales, for example, which holds many hundreds of thousands of acres of pastoral property, will participate in any State relief which may be granted.
– At the annual meeting of the Bank of New South Wales the other day the chairman stated that it possessed no property whatever in the drought-stricken districts.
– Probably it foresaw what was coming, and got rid of its properties in the western district. There is the tabulated statement of the Bank of New South Wales–
– I would suggest that the honorable senator should not refer to individual institutions.
– I desire to give concrete instances, so that honorable senators may see that we have some justification for the position we take up. When a postoralistappliesto a State for relief, why should he not be required to undergo an examination as to his banking account ? Senator Gouldsays that this matter relates to what is in a sense national property. The statement reminds me of the fallacy attached to certain statistics, which go to show the average wealth of the community. For example, if the late Mr. James Tyson were alive to-day, and if he and I were the only inhabitants of an island, he possessing £5,000,000 and I £100, the statistician would say that the average wealth of the people of that island was £2,500,050. The honorable and learned senator will see how futile it is to say that we should reduce the fodder duties because the pastoralists are likely to suffer loss, and that their loss affects the general community.
– Does the honorable senator say that it does not?
– The prices obtained in the stock markets to-day - £11s. for a sheep, and £20 or £25 for a bullock - go to show that if the pastoralists had any sympathy with the consumers they would drive down some of their stock to market, so that the consumers might obtain their meat at a lower rate.
– Drive down their starving stock !
– Unfortunately for the individual squatter, and fortunately for the chief owners of pastoral property - the large shareholders in the chief banking institutions - the drought has been in existence for four or five years. On behalf of the farmers, who were kept off the land of Australia as long as possible by the squatters, I object to the removal of these duties. Senator Gould says that we have no reason to fear any importations ; but I would refer him to the statistics of Queensland, which show that the farmers of that State have’ had to compete with the farmers’ in the Argentine Republic, and other republics in South America, who are able to make use of a great deal of cheap labour in working their farms.
– I consider that this duty is almost in the same category as that proposed upon wheat. Prior to federation there was no duty on hay and chaff in New South Wales, Victoria, or New Zealand, and the whole of the trade in hay and chaff which takes place in Australia is practically of an Inter-State character. I find that in1898 £6,000 worth of hay and chaff was introduced into Victoria from the other States, while the importations from abroad amounted only to £20 worth. In New South Wales some £211,000 worth of hay and chaff was introduced from the other States during the same year, and £840 worth from abroad. In South Australia practically £42,000 worth was introduced from the other States, and only £32 worth from abroad. There were no importations into Tasmania. In Queensland £29,000 worth of hay and chaff was introduced from the other States, and £14 worth from abroad, while in Western Australia, where one would have thought that there was a likelihood of importations from abroad, nearly £59,000 worth of hay andchaff was introduced from the other States, and only some £200 worth from abroad. No matter what the duty was, the whole of the trade in hay and chaff in the Commonwealth would be between State and State. Therefore it is an absurdity to impose a duty. The Victorian export statistics are even more striking than those which I have just read. From the 1st of May, 1901, until the end of April last - exactly one year - Victoria exported 1 1 4, 000 bags of chaff and 2,303,000 bales of pressed hay, the bales weighing about 110 lbs. each. In Victoria we are large exporters of hay and chaff ; but in New Zealand they grow Timothy and rye grass, and clover, just as they do in England.
– But they impose a duty on chaff.
– Chaff, so to speak, is the manufactured article, and if it is kept in stock for any time it is unfit for use. It is absurd to propose a duty on hay and chaff when we export these articles so largely, and it is idle to say that the farmers would be benefited by such a duty. A “corner” in hay and chaff could not be formed as readily as in relation to other things. “ Corners “ may be formed in wheat and flour, but not in relation to chaff, which is very easily prepared. I blame the Government for imposing duties on goods such as these when they are not required.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - I think that the figures which Senator Fraser has supplied are quite misleading, and if I had. had more time to look into the matter, I should have been able to show their incorrectness. I think the honorable senator has quoted from some book prepared by those who are interested, and which is not accessible to me.
– The book is printed by McCarron, Bird, and Company.
– In dealing with this matter are we to be bound by the duty which obtained in any particular State prior to federation ? If so, I should like to ask honorable senators whether they will adhere to that rule when we come to deal with the duties on boots and shoes and so forth?
– I desire to make a personal explanation. The book from which I took the figures relating to the trade in hay and chaff was prepared by Mr. James Mirams, a leading protectionist in Victoria, and it was printed by McCarron, Bird, and Company. I quoted it over and over again on many platforms during the election campaign, but it was never successfully refuted. The other figures which I gave were supplied by Mr. James Bell, a wellknown merchant in this city.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales).I wish to protest against the imputation that the motion constitutes an appeal made purely in the interests of the larger pastoralists and the financial institutions behind them. The circumstances of the case in no sense warrant the imputation. If it were so, one might stand amazed at the fact that the State Government of New South Wales have voiced the appeal which I have put forward in the shape of this motion notwithstanding that the labour party is the dominant party in the Parliament with which it is face to face. If this were an appeal purely on behalf of the financial institutions, the State Government, knowing that its life depends upon the labour party in the local Legislature, would not re-echo my proposal. Is it to be supposed that the Railway Commissioners in New South Wales would have cut down freights on fodder, as they have done, only in the interests of financial institutions ? The suggestion is so absurd that, but for the fact that it has been put forward so repeatedly, I should not have risen to ref ute it. We know that there are hundreds of selectors in New South Wales to-day who are compelled to buy fodder to feed horses used for carting water for household purposes because the natural herbage and grass is all gone. Every small settler in the country is in some way called upon to pay higher prices for produce because of these duties. The dairy farmers are particularly affected, and I mentioned recently the case of a dairy farmer who has to buy feed for his stock, and who has built stalls abutting on the railway fence between Campbelltown and Moss Vale for the purpose of feeding them there, because he finds it cheaper to bring the cattle to the railway than to cart the fodder to his farm.
– Where does that fodder come from ?
– That is a pertinent question, and I have it on the best authority that the whole of the visible supplies in the Commonwealth are not equal to six weeks’ demand. We know that if these duties are remitted it is possible that within a month or so supplies of fodder may be landed here from South America at prices at which it will pay people to import it. It is questionable whether it will pay to import it if the duties are permitted to remain. It is evident that people will be able to purchase a greater quantity of fodder for the same sum of money if there are no duties to pay than if they have to pay the duties as well. It is not only the farmers who are affected by these duties, but nearly every man engaged in any industry outside of the metropolitan cities. There are, for instance, a tremendous number of carriers on the roads in New South Wales and Queensland, and their competition is to day sufficiently severe, and their struggles sufficiently keen, without the Federal Parliament coming along, and in the sacred name of federation making the struggle harder for them. One other appeal which Senator Higgs made to the committee was that because the squatters as a class have shown themselves in the past to be antagonistic to the farmers and small settlers, the Federal Parliament should wreak vengeance upon them by refusing the concession now asked for. It is unfortunately absolutely true that the squatters as a class have been opposed to the small settlers; but the fact that they have studied their own interests rather than the interests of the community is no argument for penalizing them by imposing duties which cannot otherwise be defended. I have pointed out that in this matter the small farmers feel the pinch as keenly as their larger neighbours: I have no doubt that thefinancial institutions will survive the existing difficulties somehow, but I have very grave doubts whether the small farmers can do so unless this measure of relief is extended to them.. Senator Higgs seems to believe that it can make no difference to the Commonwealth if all the sheep die provided they are owned by the financial institutions.
– The honorable senator never thought any such thing.
– I do not think he did, but he said it. He pointed out that there would be no national loss in the death of sheep if they were owned by big squatters or financial institutions, or at any rate that the loss would not be so severe as it would be if it fell on the shoulders of the smaller men. We need only push that argument to an extreme to show how absurd it is. Supposing all the sheep die, will it not be a national loss, irrespective of who owns them ? If there would be a national loss in the death of all the sheep, there must be a national loss if only 1,000,000 sheep die. No matter what happens now - whether it rains or does not rain through the winter - we in New South Wales stand face to face with the loss of 10,000,000 sheep. But the loss does not end there, and for some years afterwards New South Wales will show a reduction in produce in consequence of that loss, and its effects will be felt for many years to come. I ask that these matters be taken into account, and that we should make the present trial for the people as light as possible. I admit that in this matter we cannot do very much for our people, but we can at least refrain from making their struggle harder, and I hope honorable senators will do all they possi bly can to help them to tide over the coming winter. This is not an appeal which should be advanced as a class appeal, and I make it in no class spirit. I have endeavoured to regard the matter’ from the stand-point of the Commonwealth itself, and if the Government were in a position to compromise with me to-day, I, being a free-trader, would say that I should be prepared to give a vote to impose these duties permanently after the 1st of January next, if the Government would say they would suspend their imposition from now until then.
– I should like to know where this is going to end 1 A man invests £20,000 in cattle and sheep, and it is said that if they are to be kept alive the Government must come to his assistance. Another man puts £20,000 into a mine in Western Australia, which turns out a “duffer,” but is it proposed that we should also help him 1
– We do not help him by putting a duty upon produce.
– Honorable senators, I u understand, are asking now that the owners of stock in New South Wales and Queensland should be assisted at the expense of the Commonwealth. That is the plain language of the proposal. I was about to point out that we grow fodder for stock within the Commonwealth, and the people who have stock can buy that fodder for the benefit of the people who have it to sell. The difficulty which has arisen is not in that sense an unmixed evil so far as the Commonwealth is concerned. The suggestion may appear to be hard-hearted, but it must appear equally hard-hearted to the farmers of Victoria to be told, “ Now you have your opportunity, but we shall not allow you to take advantage of it. We are going to step in to help the men who, but for our interference, will have to buy from you.” Senator M’illen has told us that this fodder is going to come from South America. I believe that it has been practically arranged to bring fodder from that country.
– Subject to the remission of the duty.
– I believe also that it is the people on the western plains of New South Wales who are the greatest sufferers from the drought, and not those in districts near the seaboard, where there is a good rainfall and there is some feed.
– It is everywhere in New South Wales to-day.
– Is it not principally on the Western plains and what we would call the “back blocks” in Victoria, places at some distance from the seaboard, and where there is but a small . rainfall ? The duty proposed to be imposed on hay and chaff is £1 pei” ton, and I suggest that in New South Wales the State Government might reduce the railway freights upon fodder by something like £1 per ton.
– They have done that.
– That is a good beginning. Let the people of New South Wales take their part in providing for the losses in their own State, as the people in Western Australia would have to do if there was a collapse in mining in that State.
– Does the honorable senator know that the New South Wales Government have reduced the railway freight upon fodder to 2s. 2d. per ton per 100 miles 1
– I admit that that is only a nominal rate. Assuming that there is a loss of ten millions of sheep, it must take a year or two before they can be replaced, and we may say that those sheep are worth £10,000,000”.’ What is that, when all is said and done, -to the great and wealthy free-trade State of New South Wales. in which, we are told by Coghlan there is property worth from £300,000,000 to £400,000,000.
– It is estimated that the total loss throughout the Commonwealth will amount to £130,000,000.
– I am speaking now of the free-trade State of New South Wales, whose people we are asked to assist, and the total loss there will not amount to 3^ per cent, of the value of property in that State. I do not say that that is not too much to lose, but if I am asked to assist a particular State, I shall expect that assistance will be given to all the States. Senator Millen told us that some selectors in New South Wales have to draw water for drinking purposes, but, as Victorians know, we have year after year in this State had to take water from
Bendigo into the Mallee, a distance of from 130 to 140 miles, and railway trucks have been specially built for the purpose. That has had to be done to meet the requirements of people, who had been in the habit of carting water for drinking purposes for over 20 miles. Why do not honorable senators opposite ask that these people should be assisted? They are all men with small holdings. There is not a big man there, and the small farmers have been starved out mainly through the drought. We have admitted that some of them have had to go to New South Wales because of the drought here, but I do not hear any one proposing now that they should be assisted.
– Because there is no proposal before us by which we could assist them.
– We will remit any duties the honorable senator likes if that will assist them.
– I do not desire that these duties should be remitted. I desire that these people be assisted by keeping on the duties, and by increasing them, if honorable senators were willing to do so. I think it is the duty of each State to look after its own people in matters of this kind, and not to ask the Commonwealth to step in and assist, for the simple and all-sufficient reason that no man can foresee where such a principle would end.
– It is not the dub of the Commonwealth to plunder one State in order to fatten another.
– And I say it is not the duty of the Commonwealth to plunder Victoria or Tasmania as is being done by the ‘;1 V in which this Tariff is being dealt with. Before I can cast a vote in favour of a proposal like this, I must hear from some one where the principle is going to end. I do not know where we can draw the line if we once break’ through what seems to me to be a proper method of conducting our affairs. By-and-by the sugar-growers of Queensland may have just as good a claim on the Commonwealth for assistance, and the farmers of Tasmania, Victoria, and South Australia, and the miners of Western Australia may have equally good claims for assistance. Once we begin this kind of thing, we do not know where it will end, and we had better, therefore, accept the duties as they are in the Tariff. If there is a way of assisting these people which would not create a precedent, I might be willing to consent to it, but to do anything of the kind here proposed would be a great mistake.
-Col. NEILD (New South Wales). - This is a duty which proposes to do nothing else than penalize public calamity. The ‘ arguments that have been adduced in favour of this motion are identical with those I advanced a little while before in connexion with the abolition of the duty on bagged food stuffs. I do not see any difference in principle between a duty on bran and a duty on hay and chaff, and just as I proposed the abolition of one, I support the abolition of the other. With reference to the allegation that a loss of 10,000,000 sheep is of no consequence to anybody in particular, except great financial institutions
– Who says that?
-Col. NEILD”.- It has been said as plainly as words can be uttered. Do not honorable senators who make these statements recognise that the shareholders in these great financial institutions are in many cases widows and orphans, or executors of widows and orphans ? Honorable senators who laugh at my statement indicate their own absolute unfitness to deal with a matter of this kind, because they are displaying a consummate ignorance. Of course a loss of 10,000,000 sheep does not matter to certain people who are not connected with the industry, and who do not understand public interests. But what is the value of the labour for shearing 10,000,000 sheep at £1 per 100 ? It is nothing less than £100,000, and that does not include the pay of the rouseabouts. the carriage of the. stores to the station, and of the wool to the railways, the working of the trains, the handling of the wool at the port of shipment, and its final disposal on the ship. I venture to say that the labour connected with the clip of 10,000,000 sheep cannot be worth less than £125,000 to the wage-earners of Australia.
– The honorable senator can double the cost of shearing.
– - Take everything, and it is £500,000.
.- I do not think it is .as much as that, but possibly my honorable friend has investigated the subject more fully than I have done. I am only taking it “ b)’ and large,”’ as the sailers sa It is between £150,000 and £500,000. Is not that sum in wages of importance to the whole Commonwealth? Does not its influence affect every storekeeper, every merchant, every carter in the community ? Of course it is of no consequence in the eyes of some persons, as it concerns only the banks. The starving stock do not all belong to the banks. A little while ago there were certain military encampments held in New South Wales, Of the regiments that were expected in the different camps, there were /two regiments of horse consisting of the sons of selectors almost without exception. Not one of those men was able to attend the camp on account of the starved condition of the horses. I am speaking not of the sons of squatters, but of the sons of selectors and selectors themselves. If the ordinary saddle horse of the selector was so poor more than two months ago that he could not undertake the bit of work requisite in connexion with a -camp of training, does not that fact indicate most positively the conditions of the selectors and farmers in those portions of Australia afflicted with the drought, and all the eastern part of Australia and possibly the western part of Australia is afflicted with the drought, except the little patch between Melbourne and the range, 50 miles away. Honorable senators, who see the verdant fields that one cannot but look on with pleasure between here and Seymour, know that a very different state of things exists from there northwards and into Queensland. It is not only New South Wales that is willing that these duties should be temporarily abolished, if they cannot be got rid of. Queensland is also willing that the duties should be suspended. What does that show? It shows that Queenslaud is paralyzed in consequence of the drought. In view of the attitude of the Minister and of the interjections he has made this afternoon, plainly showing that there is not the faintest disposition on the part of the Ministry to assent to the suspension of the duties, we cannot do better than vote for their abolition. If Senator O’Connor will consent to the abolition of the duties he will do the Ministry the best turn he can do them. The motion has my hearty support.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - I cannot allow the statement to go unchallenged that I said it does not matter to the general community if .10,000,000 sheep die on account of the drought. Senator Millen. - That is not what I stated the honorable senator said.
– That was the implica- tion conveyed. What I am endeavouring to say is that apparently it matters very I little to the people of the large towns and cities whether there are 40,000,000 or I 20,000,000 sheep in a State, when the ring, I or whoever it is, that is .able to put up the price of meat, succeeds in getting out of the consumer a very large price, and has done so for several years. I said a little while ago that there are very few individual squatters, and that the pastoral production is very largely in the hands of financial institutions. In Queensland in 18S4 there were 9,542 runs, comprising an area of 316,113,760 acres. Owing to the fact that the individual squatter was being wiped out, the number of runs had fallen in 1900 to 2,272, comprising an area of 225,193,000 acres.
– Exactly a third of the area has been abandoned.
– Some stations have been abandoned in the Gulf country and up north. How much do honorable senators think that the pastoral class, whose cause they advocate, pay for that enormous area of 225,193,000 acres 1 A little over £d. an acre per annum.
– : Whatever they pay, the State Government recognises that it is too much because it has brought in a Bill for another appraisement.
– It is of no use to quote in the Senate what the present Government or majority party in Queensland have done. Mr. Philp has been quoted as a man who is willing to assist the pastoralists, but I would remind honorable senators that he was willing to bleed the Commonwealth to the extent of £18,000 which he was anxious should be paid to Cobb and Co. on account of the drought. I have every sympathy for the individual squatter who is in distress, and I shall be only too glad to support any movement for his relief, but when honorable senators ask for relief for the great majority of those who hold pastoral properties, I reply that it is not needed. If the bootmakers who will be thrown out of employment by the reduction of the duty on boots come up here, honorable senators will not be willing to give them any assistance. The pastoralists - I speak of the banking institutions - should i show some independence of spirit. They should take the lean years with the fat years. To such anextent do live stock increase in good years that whereas in Queensland in 1889 there were 14,470,095 sheep, in 1891 there were 20,289,630 sheep.
– They have not bred up though, but have largely restocked from flocks of New South Wales.
– A few hundred thousand.
– A few millions.
– A few hundred thousand sheep have been brought across the border into Queensland. The great increase has been due to natural causes.
– I know of half a million sheep going over for one owner alone in those years.
– My contention that in good years there is a wonderful increase in the number of live stock, is borne out by the fact that in Queensland there was an increase of 6,000,000 sheep in a period of two years. Where is the backbone of the Australian going to be shown, if we find that a large and wealthy class like the banking institutions can seek relief at the hands of the State? There may be one or two widows whose money was invested in the banks prior to 1893 ; but I think they have been pretty well squeezed out since then. I object to give this consideration, because it is not a Commonwealth matter. It is a State matter. If a State wants to assist its squatters, let it do so. If honorable senators quote Queensland as an instance where the Government is willing for the duty to be remitted, I can quote South Australia on the other side. The squatters in all the States have received a great deal of Government assistance, especially in New South Wales, in the way of low rents, payments for improvements, and so on. According to statistics prepared by the “Victorian Statistician at the end of 1901, there were 40,000,000 sheep in New South Wales, and yet the working classes were being charged very high prices for their meat.
– Will the honorable senator return to the question before the Chair?
– I was hoping that my observations bore some relation to the subject, because honorable senators are attempting to show that the pastoralist class are in dire distress ; and I want to show that, on the face of the figures, they are not so badly off as a class. While some may have suffered through the drought, there are, nevertheless, many wealthy men amongst them who could stand a dozen droughts. In Queensland there are 2,300 runs, and 10,000,000 sheep.
– There are not 10,000,000 now.
– If the honorable senator had been in Queensland at the time of the last drought he would have heard the very people who are now clamouring for the remission of duties telling us that there would not be a hoof left if the drought continued. Nevertheless, there are 10,000,000 sheep there now.
– There are not.
– I give statistics issued by the Victorian Statistician.
– What does he know about it ?
– These are Australian statistics for 1899-1900, with summaries for previous years.
– That was in the last century !
– It appears to me that certain honorable senators, notwithstanding my request, will persist in interjecting. I urge that the request of the Chair has at least the right to be respected.
– These statistics were issued from the office of the Government Statist, Melbourne, on the 1st October, 1901, and are signed by James J. Fenton, Government Statist, as having been compiled “ from official sources.” Some honorable senators smile at that statement. But if I came forward with a secret scrap-book compiled in some hole and corner way by some agent representing a party–
– The honorable senator will be good enough to attend to the item before the Chair ; the scrap-book is certainly not before the Chair.
– I only wish it were, and could be laid on the table, so that we might look at it. But when Senator Zeal challenges my figures and wishes to cast a doubt upon the capacity of the Victorian Government Statist, I appeal to the committee as to whether these figures must not be regarded as impartial.
– But they do not bear upon the present position.
– How can I get at the present position? There are no means of obtaining statistics up to the present moment. The figures before me show that there are 40,000,000 sheep in New South Wales and 10,000,000 sheep in Queensland. I do not understand Senator Millen’s eagerness for the consumer, inasmuch as he voted for the duty on oatmeal. Yet he is going to vote to reduce the duties on fodder in the interests of the large pastoralists.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) - I desire to say in reference to my interjection as to Queensland stock - and I appeal to Senator Drake as to whether I am not correct - that official figures have been published showing that the sheep have been reduced from 10,000,000 in 1899 to 7,000,000 at the end of 1901, the number having come down from 19,000,000 or 20,000,000 ; and that in New South Wales the numberhasbeen reduced from 63,000,000 to 40,000,000. In every case the number is coming down.
– In dealing with a matter of this kind we ought to be guided largely by what has hitherto been the policy in a majority of the States. AV’e are not providing for any contingency that may arise, but are laying down a policy both for the taxation of the Commonwealth and the development of its resources. In four out of the six States hay and chaff bore a duty. It is only reasonable that the policy which had the approval of the majority of the States of the Commonwealth before federation should be continued. This a matter entirely for the States. If the policy of the Commonwealth is to be protection, and if owing to the drought or some other calamity the people of a particular State find themselves in difficulties, the people in other States should not be called upon to assist them. If the squatters in New South Wales are in such terrible straits - and I believe they are, though my experience of the squatting class has led me to the conclusion that they are very like the boy who was continually crying “ wolf “ - here is an opportunity for the people of New South Wales to assist their own squatters by remitting the duty imposed by the Commonwealth. That will not interfere with the policy of the Commonwealth. The squatters will get the assistance they are clamouring for, and everybody will be satisfied. The same thing could be done in Queensland. But it appears to me that an attempt is being made to break down the policy of the Commonwealth and to throw open our ports to foreign producers. If this duty is now knocked off ic will be exceedingly difficult to re-impose it. Senator Millen has been kind enough to say that if the duty is now remitted he will gladly vote for its reimposition after January 1.
– I said that in return for its remission now, I would afterwards vote for its permanent imposition.
– The thing is “ as easy as falling off a log.” The New South Wales Government can recoup the pastoralists. The Commonwealth is not collecting revenue for itself, but for the States. What I am troubling about is not the duty, but the attack upon the policy of the Commonwealth - a policy that will develop its resources, add to its citizenship, and strengthen it in every shape and form. The drought is being made the stalking horse under cover of which the attack is being made. Senator Millen says that th e New Sou th Wales Government is giving the pastoralists cheap railway rates. Let them also remit the difference between the duty and the price of imported hay. Honorable senators do not appear to grasp the fact that we are now united in a Commonwealth. We are one body, so to speak. There may be a drought in Queensland, and splendid seasons in New South Wales, Victoria, or Tasmania. As a matter of fact even now the drought is of a partial character. It lias not attacked Tasmania or Western Australia. The contention I put forward is that if one portion of the Commonwealth is in a position to benefit by the policy of assisting our native industries that opportunity should not be taken away from it. If the people in the State which is affected wish to help some industry the proper course is open to them. If, by the remission of the duty on imported boots, thousands of men in Victoria were te be thrown out of employment, would honorable senators of the Opposition re-impose those duties in order to provide work for the men? They would say “ No, you must take your chance. We have thrown the puppy into the stream, and it can either sink or swim.”
– We know that this puppy can swim.
– But they are. extremely careful not to throw their own puppy into the stream. They will throw in somebody else’s puppy, but they take care to carry their own under their arm. I shall support the duty as it stands.
– I do not know why honorable senators on the opposition side point to every one who stands up to discuss this question. Those who support the Government proposal have not been discussing itthis afternoon. The delay has been due rather to those who are bringing forward the “ old widow and the poor orphan,” again in the shape of the “ poor pastoralist.” I have as much sympathy with the pastoralist, when he is acting fairly towards the Commonwealth, as has Senator Millen, but we are framing a Tariff to suit not the circumstances of a drought or famine, but to last, I hope, for a considerable number of years, so that the industrial and commercial affairs of the Commonwealth may be placed in a substantial position. The arguments which have been used against the imposition of the duty are exactly the same as those which were levelled against the duty on wheat. It was said that the proposal for the abolition of the duty on wheat was made in the interests of the pastoralists and others who live in the drought-stricken country, but when Senator O’Connor attempted this afternoon to remind the committee of the statement, he was Contradicted. Later on no doubt we shall be told that the present proposal was not made in the interests of the poor pastoralist. I desire to give an illustration of the way in which the poor pastoralist has treated his country. I know of one company that occupied a piece of pastoral land in South Australia for sixteen and a half years. It received from the Treasury £2, 200, or a little more, in respect of pastoral improvements, and at the end of the sixteen and a half years it repurchased those pastoral improvements for £1,300. During the whole term itpaid a little over £400 in rent, and at the end of the period, instead of the State receiving anything out of the company, it actually paid the company £511 for having occupied the land during that time. In every one of the States instances of the same kind occur. Although wehaveevery rightto sympathize with the pastoral industry I wish to show that these people often cry out before they are hurt. We know that many of them have been hurt by the present drought but the States in which they reside will receive the revenue derived from any duty on imported fodder, and will be at liberty to hand it back to those who have paid it.
SenatorFraser. - There will be no duty.
-I hope there will be a duty, and that, if it is levied, those who have suffered the distress of which we have heard will obtain a refund. Special cases in any industry should be dealt with in a special way, and not under a general Tariff. It is for that reason that we are endeavouring to maintain the duty as it stands, leaving the States to deal with these special cases.
-I trust it will not be thought that I have no sympathy for the pastoralists who are suffering from the effects of the drought ; but I think that the motion is unwise. It is not right to make an inroad upon the Tariff merely to serve a temporary purpose. It is certainly to be deplored that the drought is so prevalent, in Queensland particularly, and in most parts of New South Wales; but there are other States whose interests certainly ought to be taken into consideration when we are dealing with a question like this. Would it be wise to expose Tasmania andVictoria, for example, to the inroads which would be made upon the farming industry of these States by the removal of this duty ? It is all very well for honorable senators to say that New Zealand will supply our wants, and that that country is inhabited by people governed under laws similar to our own and under the same flag. But that is not the question. Tasmania and Victoria are members of the Union, and have a right to be considered. I understand that a deputation is to wait upon the Government to urge the remission of the duties on fodder ; but that is another matter, and I would seriously ask the committee to consider whether it would be wise to carry this motion ? Unquestionably serious loss has been occasioned by the drought, but would it be wise to expose those States which produce hay and chaff to importations from abroad? I wish Senator Millen to acquit me of any want of sympathy for the pastoralists. I certainly feel deeply, as do all honorable senators, for both pastoralists and graziers who are struggling on against the drought. Any loss sustained by them is not merely a loss to financial institutions, who are doubtless able to stand it, but a loss to the Commonwealth and an injury to us all. The proposed abolition of the duty, however, is to apply for all time, and much as I sympathize with those who are suffering by reason of the. drought, I must, in the interests of the Commonwealth, support the duty. If the Government deem it necessary to remit it for a time in order to tide over a difficulty, I am satisfied that they will be ready to extend that relief.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - Senator Millen quoted certain figures which are not available to me–
– They are available to the honorable senator just as they were available to me..
– The honorable senator quoted figures showing that the number of sheep in Queensland had been reduced from 20,000,000 to 7,000,000, as illustrating the condition of the class for whom he wasappealing. I would point out that in1892, when we had these 20,000,000 sheep, the value of exports of fresh and preserved meat from Queensland was £375,958.
SenatorFraser. - That relates principally to beef, not to mutton.
– In 1900 the value of the exports of fresh and preserved meat from Queensland had increased nearly five times, the total exports for that year being £1,473,160. There are figures relating to the by - products of the pastoral industry, to which I shall not refer, but I wish to emphasize the fact that the pastoralist of the present day is in a far better position than was the pastoralist of ten or fifteen years ago. He has now the benefit of better railway communication, he has the usual low rent to pay, and he has the assistance of a large number of fences, which enable him to dispense with shepherds.
– He has the dogs and the rabbits to contend against now.
– If we go to a station in Queensland now, we shall find perhaps one boundary rider being employed to go round an immense area of 30,000 or 40,000 acres, and yet honorable senators talk of the amount of work that is given by this industry. As for their having to contend with dogs and rabbits, I hope the time will come when those who are anxious to obtain land in small holdings in Australia will be able to get it.
– I hope the committee will not agree to the motion requesting that these items shall be put upon the free list. I think there is a disposition on the part of some honorable senators, when dealing with these matters, to forget for a moment what are really the boundaries of the Australian Commonwealth. They are apt to overlook the fact that when dealing with matters of federal concern, there should be no dividing lines upon the map between the various States. As a representative of Tasmania, I have to thank Senator Glassey for the way in which he has spoken on this question. The honorable senator has approached the subject in a federal spirit, and that is especially seen when we come to consider the actual state of affairs with regard to the production of these commodities in the various States. Taking the statistics of Tasmania for 1900, I find that of these commodities, hay and chaff, we had no imports, but we exported to a considerable, though not to a very large, extent to the two largest States, Victoria and New South Wales. That shows that under the preexisting conditions we in Tasmania were able to grow enough of these commodities for our own requirements and to export a certain surplus to the other States. In spite of the fact that there was existing in several of the mainland States a duty which operated against the introduction of these commodities from Tasmania on equal terms with the local producer, the Tasmanian people were quite prepared to grow all they required themselves, and to take the opportunity of exporting any surplus they might have. In 1900 they exported 240 tons of hay to Victoria, and 1,392 tons to New South Wales. Taking the figures quoted by Coghlan in The Seven Colonies of Australasia, 1899-1900, I find my justification for what I have said with reference to Senator Glassey’s remarks. Dealing with the net import or export of hay and chaff for each colony during the year 1899, I find that there are three States in the union which imported, and three which imported nothing, but exported these commodities. Amongst the three which imported is the State of Queensland, and amongst the three which exported and imported none of these commodities is the State of Tasmania. I find that New South Wales exported nothing, but imported 131,609 tons. Victoria imported nothing, but exported 105,177 tons. Queensland exported nothing, but imported 12,317 tons. South Australia imported nothing, but exported 10,631 tons. Western Australia exported nothing, but imported 871 tons. Tasmania imported nothing, but exported 11,206 tons. I find also that so far us New Zealand is concerned, that colony imported nothing, but exported 571 tons. When we come to consider the position of a small State like Tasmania - and when I say “ small,” I am speaking from the point of view of its acreage - we find that it stands second on the list of the six States of the union for the exportation of hay and chaff. When we find that it has no imports of these commodities, we are justified in the assumption that it has been able to supply itself absolutely, and it is only reasonable to suppose that that State is adapted to the production of these particular requirements of the whole of the Commonwealth. -As Senator Glassey has pointed out, this is an item which considerably affects some of the southern States. We have to look upon this Tariff not only as an instrument designed to raise the revenue required for carrying on the Federal Government, but as an instrument designed simultaneously to afford a certain amount of inducement and encouragement to our own people bo produce what they can for our own requirements, and to supply those commodities to those requiring them in no matter what part of the Commonwealth they may be, whether it be Northern Queensland or Southern Tasmania, Broken Bay or Fremantle. When we consider that in the State of Tasmania we have had from 25 to 30 per cent, of the land under wheat cultivation, and- when we find that it stands second on the list of the six States of the Union in the matter of the export of these particular commodities, surely some little attention should be given to those circumstances. I ask honorable senators to look at the next table given by coghlan of the value of the returns from hay in 1899-1900, which he says for all Australia was only second to that from wheat. The value in each State and the return per acre is given. I find that New South Wales is second on the list of the States in the aggregate value of its crop, which is given at £1,757,400, and the average value of the crop per acre in that State was £3 3s. 5d. Victoria stands first on the list with a crop valued at £1,959,000, and an average value per acre of £4 7s. In Queensland, the crop was valued at £326,500, and the average value per acre is given at £5 10s. lOd. In South Australia the value of the crop was£551, 500, and the value per acre £1 15s. 5d. In
Western Australia the crop was valued at £210,200, and the value per acre £2 13s. 4d. In Tasmania the value of the crop was £148,400, and the value per acre £3 9s. lOd. When we come to consider the average value of this crop per acre throughout the States, we shall find that it is greater in Queensland, which imported 12,317 tons in the year, than in any of the other States. After Queensland comes Victoria, and then third on the list, Tasmania. Therefore, I say as a representative of Tasmania, and knowing that that State is capable of producing these commodities to help to SuPplY the demands of the- Commonwealth to a very great extent, I do very much appreciate the remarks uttered by Senator Glassey. I recognise that he has been actuated by a thoroughly federal spirit in what he has said upon this item, because the figures show that his own State of Queensland has been dependent upon outside sources for these commodities, while Tasmania has been able to supply herself and also to export hay and chaff. I thoroughly recognise and appreciate the sentiment of Australian self-dependence in industrial matters, which has characterised the remarks of Senator Glassey. I quite anticipate that Senator Pulsford will say that the two States to which Tasmania exported hay and chaff, afforded her free markets, but what is proposed now is that those States shall continue to be free markets for Tasmania, and that New Zealand and other outside producing communities will have to come in to those markets on different terms from the State of Tasmania, which entered the Union, loyalty shouldered its burdens, and has taken upon itself the responsibility of paying part of the taxation, which will necessarily devolve upon it as an integral part of the. union. Under the proposal of the Government Tasmania, will have a preferential market in the States of the Commonwealth, as against producers in outside parts of the world, whether they be in the Argentine Republic, in New Zealand, or anywhere else. If we have some measure of protection against competing outside producers, we may look for an increase in the production, and in the export of these commodities from States peculiarly adapted for their production, and we may be sure that the increase under those circumstances will be greater than it is likely to be, if honorable senators accept the proposal to put these commodities on the free list.
– I think that the arguments which have been used with regard to providing for starving stock would be met by passing this item, and making other proposals. We have heard that in New South Wales something has been done in that direction by very greatly reducing the railway freights. The proposal to alter the permanent Tariff with the object of relieving the owners of starving stock seems not to be the appropriate remedy, and I cannot see any justification for accepting the motion on that ground. Taking that contention as being a sound one, we should be taking from the Treasury of a State the amount of the duty which it is proposed to remit so far as a present remedy is concerned. How could that be a justifiable way of meeting the difficulty ?
– Ours is the best way.
– I think not, because it is making an alteration in the Tariff, which is intended to be permanent - at all events for a considerable time - in order to meet a present difficulty, which surely could be met in another way. If a State Treasurer were to devote, in some way or other, the amount he would receive under this duty to the relief of owners of starving stock, it would come to the same thing, find the relief -would be given in a much more reasonable way. The present proposal is to take the duty off these commodities no matter what their destination may be. In a great many cases the commodities may be used in a part of the State that is not suffering from drought, whereas if the Treasurers use the revenue derived from the. duties, they can give relief in a much more appropriate manner, and where it is most wanted. I admit that the reduction of railway freights is a means eminently fitted to give relief just where it is wanted, because the longer the distance the article has to be carried the greater will be the relief afforded. What honorable senators really are asking the committee to do is to strike off the duty practically for all time. Let us see -how that will work. According to Senator Millen, it is contemplated to bring produce from the South American republics in order to supply a temporary deficiency. Is it desirable on account of this present deficiency to initiate a trade which ultimately the Commonwealth may have cause to regret ? It is taking advantage of a period of distress to open up a trade for the supply of fodder which we know very well we can supply. The present difficulty has arisen from insufficient production in Australia to meet the demands of the drought. The production in Australia is now below present requirements, and one of the lessons of the drought if this duty is not altered will be to stimulate Australian production. The fact of stocks having run out- and of higher prices being demandable will be a distinct incentive to the farmers to produce a larger quantity of this commodity in order to provide against such a difficulty as has occurred. It is proposed to meet this temporary difficulty by taking a step which will have the effect of discouraging our farmers, and probably paving the way to an under-production which will result in a recurrence of the circumstances which we now deplore. Surely the better course is to frame the Tariff with a view to its permanence, and then let the States take what action they think desirable in order to meet the necessities of the moment ? In that way, without the expenditure of any more money, we shall be able to give relief to the owners of starving stock, and we shall frame the Tariff in such a way as to encourage the farmers to produce larger quantities of fodder in order to provide against such circumstances as have occurred. It is admitted on all hands that this small duty is nearly always inoperative. It is not levied ; it simply stands in the Tariff as an intimation that this kind of produce is not required in Australia.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - I wish to ask honorable senators whether for this transient period they are going to sweep away the duties which have existed in the States for some time. The duty on these commodities has been 15s. a ton in Queensland, 10 per cent, in South Australia, 20 per cent, in Tasmania, and 30s. a ton in Western Australia. Of course they have been dutv free in only Victoria and New South Wales.
– And New Zealand.
– If the honorable senator quotes New Zealand I ask him - What about Canada ?
– Ss. 4d. a ton. .
– We understand that the Canadian Tariff was the model on which the honorable senator and his party were going to frame this Tariff.
-We know how uncompromising the honorable senator is, but we also know that the acceptance of the Canadian Tariff was proposed by the Argus, which has a very great deal of influence with the free-trade party. I was going to quote some statistics compiled from official sources in the office of the Government Statist in Victoria, but I shall not do so. This compilation, which was taken exception to by Senator Zeal, is one of the handiest publications in the Commonwealth. It contains a fund of information with regard to not only the subject before the committee, but very manyothers.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 24 by adding the words “and on and after 1st July, 1902, free” - put. The committee divided -
Ayes … ……… 14
Noes … …… … 12
Majority … …… 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Items 25 (Honey, jams, and jellies), 26 (Hops), 27 (Limejuice and other fruit syrups), 28 (Linseed), 29 (Linseed meal), 30 (Linseedand oil cake), 31 (Liquorice), 32 (Macaroni and vermicelli), and 33 (Malt), agreed to.
Item 34 - Malt extract, non-spiritous, per lb., 2d.
– I am anxious for information with regard to this item. I wish to know whether what is meant is that class of infants’ and invalids’ food which we know under the term of malt extract? If so I would point out an anomaly. Here malt extract is taxed at 2d. per lb., whilst on the exemption list opposite “ oilmen’s stores,” infants and invalids’ foods are made free ofduty. If by malt extractsomething else is meant I have no objection to the item.
– The malt extract referred to in this item is a preparation largely used for the making of malt bread. It is used in a wholesale way. The malt prepared in bottles and used as a medicine is a different thing altogether, and is placed upon the free list.
Item agreed to.
Item 35 - Matches and Vestas, viz. : -
For each 100 matches or vestas or part thereof -
Wax … … per gross 6d.
Wood or other … ,,6d..
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 35, by adding to the duty “ Matches and vestas . , Wax, per gross6d,” the words “and on and after 1st July, 1902, 3d.”
As a question of revenue a reasonable reduction in this duty would mean larger receipts. On the other hand, the attempt in the direction of protection is of the most beggarly description. In the whole of this Commonwealth, where the consumption of. matches amounts in value to many tens of thousands of pounds per annum, there appears to be but one match factory, employing. 49 persons, 41 of whom are females. The wages paid to these unfortunates amount, in the case of the women, to 16s. per week, and in the case of the men to an average of 18s. 8d. per week.
– Is that without board?
.- Yes; and I should think that this industry does not come under the influence of a wages board. Otherwise the intolerable sweating evidenced by the figures could not possibly be allowed to continue. If the wage’s boards of Victoria,or some other authority, are not competent to cause some reasonable remuneration to be paid in connexion with this sickly little industry, the sooner it is knocked on the head, and its employes are given the opportunity of seeking employment elsewhere, the better. The payment of such wages is so manifestly a human cruelty, that we had better import our matches, and not degrade our citizens and citizenesses - as, I suppose, our women must be regarded as being under the provisions of the Franchise Act ; and we should remove them from the pernicious business evidenced by these figures. According to an official return, the highest wage paid to any person employed in the factory over 21 years of age is £1 lis. 3d. per week. I have no sympathy with imposing a duty of 6d. a gross on matches imported ‘ into the Commonwealth for the sake of benefiting a wretched abortion of a factory such as this - for it is nothing better. The employes are not paid a decent living wage for men and women, and it is not in accordance with, the well-being of the community that such a factory should be in existence in it. Matches would have been made duty free by the vote of another place, except for f ou r votes. I thank Senator Sargood for reminding me that this miserable little factory is not indigenous to the Commonwealth, but is practically an outside concern. Its profits, if any, are not disbursed amongst the people of Australia, but go elsewhere. I also want to point to the absolute imposition which this duty constitutes in the form of a subsidy to the industry. The fact cannot be controverted that, excluding duty, this factory sells its output in Melbourne at a very much lower price than the market price for the same article in the neighbouring city of Sydney. In Sydney, the imported wax vesta is selling at from 2s. Gd. to 3s. per gross. But what is the price in Melbourne for the output of this little starving factory? They have been selling at 2s. 4 1/2d. per gross - actually 1 1/2d. a gross less than the price of the article duty paid in Sydney. What prospect is there under , these circumstances of this little factory becoming of any value whatever to the community 1 On the contrary, its proprietors say that it cannot struggle on even with a duty of 6d. The proprietors have circulated to-day some typewritten matter, showing that they are only continuing to exist in the hope that the Federal Parliament will raise the duty from 6d. to something higher. If the factory cannot live with a duty of 6d., and is only remaining in existence in the hope that the Federal Parliament will raise the duty, of which there is not the slightest prospect, we need not take the industry into consideration in determining what the duty shall be. I submit that the proposed duty of 3d. is abundantly high. In the case of wax vestas a duty of 6d. is at the rate of from 30 to 35 percent., while in the case of wooden matches it is almost anything one likes to name. Wooden matches are sold duty paid in Sydney, according to prices current which I hold in my hand, at from ls. 3Jd. to ls. 5d. per gross. Taking off the duty of 6d., it will be found that the price in bond for wooden matches, with the merchants’ profit -attached, is at present, in the open market, from 9 1/2d. to lid. per gross. A duty of fid. on 9-id. is a phenomenal one to ask for ; a duty of fid. on lid. is preposterous in my humble estimation. If people are to regard matches as jewellery, and be very careful of them, necessarily so many less would be imported, and the Government will not obtain so much revenue as they anticipate.
– I do not know why my honorable friend Senator Nield should have made such a savage onslaught on this poor little industry. It seems to me that in his anxiety to attack the match industry he has lost sight of the obvious purpose of this duty, which is to bring in revenue. A very large revenue is to be derived from matches.
– Wax matches also t
– From the duty on wax matches it- is anticipated that a revenue of £21,000 per annum will be obtained, while it is estimated that the duty on wooden matches will yield £13,500 per annum. Of course, it may be a trifle to the honorable and learned senator for Tasmania-
– I think the estimate is utterly exaggerated.
– I am quoting the Treasurer’s figures, and the estimate has been borne out. I always understood that honorable senators from Tasmania were anxious to obtain revenue. We have frequently heard the complaint that that State is being cut short, and it seems to be an extraordinary thing to think of obtain^ ing revenue by cutting down a duty by one half in this drastic way.
– What revenue will Tasmania obtain from matches manufactured in “Victoria 1 None.
– I do not understand the honorable and learned senator’s remark. The Treasurer’s estimate has been borne out very largely by the actual results. During the six months from October 1901 to March last, revenue amounting to £10,959 has been derived from the duties on wax and wooden matches.
– But there was a duty of1s. per gross on wax matches.
– Not forthewhole six months. I am calling attention to these facts, not so much for the purpose of relying upon the absolute figures, but to point out that a very large sum has actually been collected from these duties, that at the same rate a revenue of £22,000 will be obtained for the year, and that even a larger sum than that has been estimated. The honorable senatorproposes to reduce these duties by one half. After his description of “this wretched match industry” in Victoria I do not think he will contend for one moment that the Victorian match industry, which, according to him, is the only one of the kind in Australia, is likely to interfere with the importation of matches ; nor do I imagine that if the duties are reduced by one half more matches will be consumed. Therefore, the only effect of halving these duties will be to reduce the revenue from this source by something like one half. There is no escape from that position. The honorable senator desires to reduce the duties by one half, and if the Treasurer is to receive the same revenue as before from this source, we must be satisfied that the importation will be doubled. What prospect is there of that?
– I should think that there would he every prospect.
– Does the honorable and learned senator suppose that immediately we reduce the duties by one half the consumption of matches will be doubled ? The idea is absurd on the face of it. When I say that the consumption will not be increased I assume that we all know that the only object of importing matches is that they may be consumed. They are not imported in order that they may be put in a glass case or hoarded up in museums, and if the consumption is not increased the importation will not be increased.
– Obviously the importation can be increased by a reduction of the duties.
– I thought it an obvious matter of first principles that if the consumption of matches is of a certain extent, the number of boxes used will not be increased by the removal of the duty. After the speech made by Senator Neild we must leave the local production out of the question. The only result ofthe proposed reduction would be to destroy a very large amount of revenue which we receive at present from the duties on matches. And why is the reduction proposed ? Really, it seems to me, because my honorable friend has become absolutely inflamed in his desire to relieve the work-people of this local trade from the unhealthy life they are living and from the receipt of the low wages to which he referred. The honorable senator seemed to me to carry his argument to extreme lengths when he actually complained that the local production was cheaper than the imported match. We have always’ been taught by our honorable friends opposite that their great gospel is the gospel of cheapness, and that their objection to protection is that it increases the cost to the consumer of the article affected. Yet when this poor little industry reduces the price to the consumer Senator Neild complains. The honorable senator has based his motion upon such a ground that under no circumstances should the committee listen to it. There is another reason why the motion should not be carried. The duties imposed on matches in the several States prior to federation were as follow : - Victoria, wax matches1s. 3d. and1s. per gross of boxes, wooden 6d. per gross of boxes, safety matches free ; Queensland, wax matches 25 per cent., wooden free or 25 per cent. - I presume that safety matches were free ; South Australia, 1s. per gross on wax matches, and 10 per cent. on wooden matches ; Tasmania, 20 per cent. and Western Australia, 15 per cent., on both kinds. Ithink it will be seen at once that from the stand-point of revenue there is nothing unreasonable in these duties. A very strong reason for imposing a larger duty than those which were imposed before on wooden matches in many of the States, is that the wooden match boxes are used largely for advertising purposes, and that a great part of the cost of the manufacture of the matches is borne by the advertisers. In that way they can be sold very cheaply. It is only fair, therefore, that the imported matches should bear a reasonable amount of duty. I have dealt with the question only from the revenue point of view. Itwould be impossible to give up the revenue derived from this source without serious detriment to the finances of the Commonwealth. ‘ If that is so, is there any reason why the industry, small though it may. be, should not receive incidentally the benefit of a duty which is imposed for revenue purposes? Whatever the intention of a duty may be, if it has the effect of affording protection to any industry, is that a reason why we should not obtain a revenue from it? Under these circumstances, I hope that the committee will not be led away by Senator Neild’s fulminations against the local match industry, but that honorable senators will remember that the reduction of the duties certainly would not lead to any increase of revenue.
– I imagine that the tone in which Senator Neild addressed himself to this question was due to the manner in which the local match industry has been treated by his great leader, Mr. George Reid, who, upon the public platform, has again and again used this particular industry in order to ridicule the theory of protection. I take the stand that, if matches are necessary for the use of the community, and can be produced here under healthy conditions, there is no reason why we should not encourage the industry. Senator Neild has said that the match factory established in Victoria is not a local, but a foreign one. Our object in imposing protective duties, however, is to induce people who have hitherto carried on industries abroad to establish factories here and employ our wage-earners. In that way a certain amount of money is circulated in the Commonwealth. Some people have such a peculiar method of buttressing their arguments, that it has been said that the people of Victoria have been paying £14,000 per annum, not for the purposes of revenue, but merely to keep this industry alive. The sum of £14,000 per annum, paid into the Victorian Treasury by way of duty on matches, had to be obtained in some way, and it does not follow that the money was used to keep up the local match industry. Since Senator Neild has given us the benefit of his research into the conditions of that particular factory, which he has described as a starveling and a wretched abortion, I think that I should give the side of the match industry. Messrs. Bell and Co., of Melbourne, addressed the following memorandum to me : -
Melbourne, 2nd June, 1902.
Duty on Wax Vestas. - The Customs duty on vestas has been reduced, as you are aware, from 1s., the old Victorian duty, to 6d. per gross. We are now in this unfortunate position, that all our protection has been taken away, for while (id. duty nominally remains, the bulk of our raw material, including stearine, glue, paper, &c, is subject to a duty to the extent of6d. per gross. It is now proposed to suggest a further reduction of 3d., whereas as we are already completely crippled by the reduction to6d., our factory is being worked absolutely at a loss in our hopes of being able to secure more equitable treatment before the Tariff is finally disposed of. We naturally wish to protectthecapital which we have invested in this industry, but if it were a question of starting to-day with a duty of (id. we would not entertain it for a moment. The right honorable the Treasurer stated to the House of Representatives that after full inquiry and perusal of our balancesheets and bank booksby the Government the reduction of the duty on wax vestas to (id. deprived us of the whole of our profit, and the carrying on of the industry under the circumstances would be a matter of great uncertainty. This statement alone, even without any of ours, should be sufficient to convince the members of the injustice which has already been done to us, and induce them to deal with this item in such a manner as to give us a chance of carrying on an industry which has cost us much time, thought, and money to establish. We enclose some facts regarding the industry for your information.
The occupation is a perfectly healthy one. Not one single case of sickness in any way attributable to employment in this industry has occurred since this factory was opened seven years ago in Melbourne. (See copies of Government reports attached.)
– We all have this memorandum.
– I believe the honorable and learned senator has a copy of it, but he forgets that the many thousands of readers of the records of this Parliament of the Commonwealth will desire to know what has induced the Senate to come to certain conclusions. The memo continues -
The wages paid for the week of 48 hours are as follow : - Girls range from6s. for beginners to £1 2s.6d. for experienced hands ; men from £1 10s. to , £3 ; boys, from begin ners at5s. to 1 3s. The number of persons employed till the reduction of duty to (id. was 70, but to supply the Australian demand for wax vestas, factories employing at least 1,000 persons would be necessary. The wax vesta industry is indigenous, as the largest portion of its raw material, consisting of stearine, glue, strawboard, &c, are products of this country, and it supplies also a large amount of support to the printing, paper-makings and case-making trades. If the vestas required for Australia are not made within the Commonwealth, the whole trade may be expected to go into the hands of the Belgians and Italians, as the British manufacturers are being driven out of the market owing to the starvation rate of wages paid in the countries named.
Extract from the report of the Victorian Chief Inspector of Factories, Workrooms, and Shops, for the year ending 31st December, 1900: - Miss
H.thear reports- “In connexion with the match making industry and the manufacture of indiarubber goods, I have made inquiries as to health of employes and have not learnt of any cases of illnesses arising from the work.
Copy of Government report in regard to R. Bell & Co.’s wax vesta factory, at Melbourne, Victoria: -
Chief Inspector of Factorial,
Spring-street, Melbourne, 1 1th December, 1900.
Gentlemen, - I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of6th instant, and to inform you that, relying on your assurance, that my reply will not in any way be used as an advertisement, I have no hesitation in stating that this department is quite satisfied with the arrangement and conduct of the match factory at Richmond. No case of illness attributable to the process of making the matches has ever been brought under my notice.
I have the honour to be, Gentlemen,
Your obedient servant,
Chief Inspector of Factories.
That to me was a very welcome document, because I was under the impression that the match-making industry could not be carried on under healthy conditions. We have here official evidence that it can. When Senator Neild speaks of this wretched, paltry, starving industry, I ask him, seeing that he is so anxious about the widow and orphans interested in the banks - What does he think is going to happen to the employes in this wax vestas factory who will be thrown out of employment if thisduty is reduced ? Will Senator Pulsford find any room for them in the great importing industry, in his “figure factory,” or elsewhere? Forty persons more or less added to the employes are not of much consequence, in the opinion of honorable senators who are interested only in getting free fodder for pastoralists. This motion is another blow at a primaryindustry. I find that in Queensland we imported from the United Kingdom 11,560 packages of matches ; from New South Wales, 259 packages; from South Australia, 15 packages ; from Germany, 405 ; from Italy,388, and from Belgium, 900 packages, or a total of 13,527 packages. I have no doubt that there has been exported from the United Kingdom to Australia a large quantity of matches made in Japan. The Japanese have made such strides in match-making that they are becoming the strongest competitors of Sweden. This is apparently very amusing to some honorable senators who come from Tasmania, but I did not notice any of them get upand propose any reduction in the hop duty.
– They would have supported it if it had been proposed by the honorable senator.
– It is not my duty to carry out free-trade principles. I think it is a very reasonable proposition that we should endeavour to encourage all the industries required for the development and comfort of the Australian race. Even if there were only two people employed in the match-making industry, why should we not encourage them? This encouragement might possibly prevent certain people standing for Parliament later on. If honorable senators continue destroying industry after industry, what a fine crop of candidates we shall have at the next senatorial election !
– I desire to correct a statement which I made just now. Senator Macfarlane said that the estimate to which I referred was made upon a duty of1s. per gross. I thought it was not so at the time, but 1 find that the honorable senator was perfectly right. That will reduce the estimate of revenue from wax matches to £10,500, which, with the revenue estimated from wooden matches, £13,500, makes a revenue of £24,000. The actual collection for six months amounted to nearly £11,000, and that amount doubled will produce a revenue very nearly amounting to the estimate.
– I am glad to hear Senator O’Connor correct his mistake. I hope the honorable and learned senator will not attempt to correct all his mistakes, because time is getting on. I should like to add a little to the corrections he has made. I have no desire to misquote the honorable and learned senator, but I believe he said that the duty on matches had been1s. per gross for only a part of the time covered by the six months. The obvious inference was that the duty had been reduced at an early stage of the consideration of the Tariff. But as a matter of fact the duty of1s. was collected for the whole period of six months, less five days. That, I think, is a necessary amplification of the honorable and learned senator’s correction. Senator O’Connor hasa happy knack of confusing these items. But members of the committee are not entirely ignorant of the fact that the duty upon wooden matches, whatever it may be, is entirely a revenue duty, and the £10,000 or the £11,000 revenue mentioned by Senator O’Connor includes the revenue derived from wooden matches as well as from wax matches. I venture to say that one-half of the revenue was derived from wooden matches, for the obvious reason that they are not manufactured anywhere within the Commonwealth. If I were convinced that Senator O’Connor is right as to the revenue-producing effect of these duties, I should oppose their reduction by one farthing. On the contrary, I am convinced that the .reduction of this duty on wax matches will increase the revenue, and I therefore support the motion which has been made.
– The reduction of the duty would not increase the importation.
– I am sorry to disagree with Senator Fraser. I think I shall be able to convince the honorable senator that it would increase the importation. That the reduction of the duty from 6d. to 3d. per gross on wooden matches would decrease the revenue, I admit, and I regret the fact. Victorian senators have, no doubt, a better knowledge of what has taken place in the Victorian Parliament than I am, but some of them may have forgotten that it is not long since the duty on safety matches in Victoria was entirely removed. The reduction was made at the instance of Mr. Duncan Gillies, in order, as he said, to encourage their use. We have to recognise that the use of safety matches should be encouraged, and it is because that is desirable that it seems unfair that wooden matches should be taxed at 6d. per gross, while wax matches are taxed, as we propose, at 3d. per gross. For that reason I admit that a certain amount of revenue is going to be lost. The reasons why we should reduce the duty on wax matches are many. What was the effect of a revenue duty in Victoria? Prior to 1894 Victoria had a duty of ls. per gross, and it yielded a revenue of £14,000 per annum. In that year Messrs. Bell and Company established their factory in Victoria, and, as a result of their output, the revenue fell, until in 1900 the State got only £2/900. In 1900, in Melbourne, the locally-made matches were selling at 2s. lOd. per gross, while in Sydney imported matches were selling at about 2s. per- gross. The price of matches throughout the world has diminished tremendously in recent years. There has not been a fall in the price of matches in Victoria because she has had a duty. New South Wales has been importing matches, and, of course, she has derived the benefit of the general fall in prices. It is extremely questionable whether we ought to do anything to encourage the making of matches in the Commonwealth. I should be glad if not a single wax match was made here. Even with the proposed duty of 6d. per gross, the enhanced price that will be derived from the sale of matches in the Commonwealth will go to the makers of them. With a duty of 6d. per gross, for every £1 that will be spent in wages in the industry, £2 will go to the proprietor of the factory. The only factory which is making matches in Australia is one which is owned in London. The sole reason why it was established here was because a heavy duty was imposed in Victoria. It has been urged in the circular that has been read that we are going to do something that is harsh and cruel again, and destroy an industry. It was only the other day that we reduced the duty on stearine and parafine wax. Both these articles are rawmaterials of the manufacturer of wax matches. Therefore, if there is any injustice from the point of view of the local manufacturer, we, at any rate, on this side, considerably helped him by reducing the duty on stearine from Id. to 1/2d. per lb., and on paraffine wax from Id. to -Jd. per lb.
– Why did the honorable and learned senator encourage this industry by admitting its raw material f ree ?
– I had not the slightest intention of helping this industry when I opposed the duties to which I refer. I was thinking of the candle-makers solely, but as a result of the reduction of the duties, the wax match industry has been materially assisted. The circular which has been issued by Messrs. Bell and Company in regard to the wages of their hands is enough to make any honorable senator, no matter what fiscal view he holds, hesitate before he encourages such work. On their own showing, they pay the girls from 6s. to 22s. 6d. a week - the latter being the wage of experienced hands. I am prepared to say that there are very few experienced hands in the factory, and that the vast majority of the employes get considerably less than 22s. 6d. per week. In Victoria, in 1S95, there was a. Tariff Board which inquired into the industry, and in his evidence the manager of Bell’s factory said that the girls averaged about 10s. per week. In their report the Tariff Board stated that the number of hands employed at the time of the manager’s examination was 53, of whom 48 were girls, three were men, and two. were boys, and that the employes averaged 9s. 3d. per week. In 1901 the Chief Inspector of Factories iri Victoria reported that altogether there were employed in the previous year in the making of these matches eight males and 41 females, that the wages per week were stated to average for the males 18s. 8d., and for the females 14s. lid., that they worked 46 weeks in the year, and that the wages received by all the employes amounted to £1,750 for the year. With these figures in our possession, we ought to hesitate to encourage the industry. If by the imposition of a duty of 3d. per gross we do anything to discourage the making of wax matches in the Commonwealth, we shall have done good work.
– The question of encouraging this industry does not concern me very much. Regarding the figures which have been quoted by Senator Clemons, we were all pretty well acquainted with the facts connected with the industry. I do not think that many honorable senators are going to look at the question very largely from the point of view of protection. The simple course for the representatives of the smaller States, who wish to conserve as much revenue as they can, is to consider the duty from the point of view of revenue. Senator Neild mentioned the fact that Messrs. Bell and Company say that with a duty of 6d. per gross their industry will be snuffed out. If that is so, what is going to be the result of reducing the duty to , 3d. per gross 1 We shall simply get half the revenue that we would get from a duty of 6d. per gross, because we shall have to import all the matches we use.
– The local production pays no duty.
– According to the argument of Senator Neild there will be no local production, even if we leave the duty at 6d. per gross. The industry should not appeal to us very greatly on the ground of protection, but still a principle is at stake, and I do not agree . that it should be discarded entirely. Lookingatthequestion from the revenue point of view only, it will be very foolish of the representatives of the smaller States to reduce the duty.
– I should like to see a duty imposed that would enable all the matches we consume to be made in the Commonwealth. It appears, according to one honorable senator, that wax matches were selling at 2s. per gross in New SouthWales and at 2s. lOd. per gross in Victoria. I propose to quote an extract from Sowden’s Commercial and Political Japan to show what is done in Japan. My honorable friends opposite cannot possibly take exception to the statement of a free-trade writer. I do not believe that there is an honorable senator who would care to admit or to buy matches made under the conditions which are described in this pamphletIt is within my own knowledge that large numbers of J apanese wooden matches havebeen sold in Victoria. It is impossible to tell them from British or European-made goods, as the boxes are covered with the usual advertisements. Mr. Sowden, in his pamphlet - and it must be remembered that he is the free-trade editor of the free-trade South Australian Register - says -
At the railway station you may buy for Id. per dozen boxes samples of Japanese-made lucifer matches,
I can well understand that the heart of a free-trader must have gushed with gratitude at the chance of buying a dozen boxes of ‘ matches for Id. of which half-a-million’s worth sterling are exported annually to Australia and elsewhere.
– It is not true.
– I doubt whether the honorable senator would dare to tell this free-trade gentleman that the statement was untrue.
– It is not true in any shape or form that that quantity is imported to Australia.
– The pamphlet says : “ To Australia and elsewhere.” The honorable senator is so anxious to show that another free-trader is wrong, and that he is the only man who is fit to run a figure factory, that he did not listen properly to the statement -
Outside hundreds of houses in nearly every Japanese town may be seen heaps of the matchboxes spread to dry. The making of these boxes is chiefly women’s work: A particularly smart housewife whom I saw employed with the paste and the paper completed, with the aid of her little ones, 2,500 boxes per day of thirteen or fourteen hours, and was paid a trifle more than a farthing per 100, say 7d. or 8d. daily. Similar illustrations of the i astonishing cheapness of labour might be multiplied, but enough has been said. This aspect of the industrial problem may be left with the hardly necessary intimation that the wretched wage of the Japanese is still a living wage and even a saving wage.
He goes on to say -
At present the combined earnings of a Japanese family - practically every one of them, to the smallest chit of a girl, at work - represent the living wage of ‘the household. Manufacturers labour, and eat, and sleep in the same building, and if only one member of the circle be disabled for any length of time, the general earning power is affected, and the rest suffer.
– How much does the honorable senator think is earned in England by the makers of match boxes 1
– I should say more than 8d. for a whole family at any rate -
It is simply impossible for the living expenses to be reduced below their present level.
The free-traders would have us admit the goods they produce into the Commonwealth without paying one farthing of duty.
– We say - “Save our people from such an industry.”
– Put on a duty and have an industry in which we can employpeople at a proper wage. That is what the protectionists want.
– But Messrs. Bell and Co. say that 6d. is not enough.
– Then make it ls. This free-trade writer adds -
A family of twelve can dine at a cost of Jd. each, when all that is eaten is a handful of rice, with the addition of a spray of seaweed, or a bit of fish or vegetables, if the diners are minded to indulge in luxuries.
I want to know whether any member of this Chamber, be -,he free-trader or protectionist, would care about admitting goods made under such shocking conditions into the Commonwealth? This free-trade pamphlet shows what a dreadful condition of things exists in Japan.
– Can the honorable senator tell us what is earned at the Belgian match factories ?
– I have no doubt work-people are sweated there, but that is no reason why we should allow it to be done here, or why we should allow sweated goods produced in those countries to be introduced into the Commonwealth almost free of duty. I appeal to the free-traders to think over this matter, and if they do that I doubt whether there is an honorable senator who will vote so as to admit wooden matches produced under this shocking condition of things.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales).If the statements made by Senator Styles be correct, we need not bother about this duty from a protectionist point of view. If matches can be made almost “ without money and without price” in Japan, what is the good of wasting time bolstering up the Government proposal for a duty of 6d.? If Senator Styles wants- the protection to be effective, so as to enable the people of Australia to compete with the Japanese in the making of matches, he should ask the Government to impose a duty that would give a substantial measure of protection. But he knows that the Government are not prepared to do that. With regard to Japanese matches, I admire the ingenuity of my honorable friend. He has told us about the quantity of Japanese matches imported into “ Australia and elsewhere,” but he did not say that only £960 worth came to Australia, and that all the rest went 1 ‘ elsewhere ! “ I am now quoting from the last Statistical Register available to me.
– I was talking of years ago.
– The statement made was that matches to the value of £500,000 sterling were imported from Japan to “Australia and elsewhere,” the inference being that at least a substantial proportion came here. The Statistical Register shows that Australia took only £960 worth, all of which were wooden matches, which we do not make here. I want to say a word on the revenue aspect of the case. 1 cannot help thinking that if the estimate put forward by the Government in this instance is a fair test qf the value of their estimates in other cases, the information supplied to us in the official papers is Of very little value indeed. I have hitherto taken the estimates as being as reliable as they could be, seeing that they were necessarily framed in anticipation of the real facts. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has said that the revenue from wax. matches is expected to be £21,000.
– I explained that that was an estimate when the duty was ls. At 6d. the revenue may be assumed to be £10,500.
– The duty having been cut down to 6d. it is estimated that there will be a revenue of £11,000, in round figures. I understand that to be the estimate for the revenue from all sorts of matches - wax and wooden - at 6d. t
– No. It is the estimated revenue for wax matches only. £24,000 is the estimated revenue from all sorts of matches at 6d.
– The papers give £34,000 at ls. Half that would be £17,000.
– But the reduction is only on the wax matches. The duty on wooden matches remains as it was. The total estimate is £24,000 instead of £34,000.
– That explanation will alter, to some extent, what I was about to say, but will not affect my main argument, which is that, if Messrs. Bell and Company’s factory is to secure the market of the whole of the States, as it has secured the market of Victoria, the £11,000 estimated revenue must fall in the same degree as the Victorian revenue has fallen. That revenue has fallen from £14,000 to £2,900, according to the figures for 1900. It is, therefore, only reasonable to assume that, if Messrs. Bell and Company secure . the markets of all the States, it will mean that, instead of the Commonwealth receiving £11,000 in revenue, it will only receive from £2,000 to £3,000. So that, from a revenue stand-point, the duty is not worth considering. But we have Messrs. Bell and Company’s assurance that they cannot continue at a duty of 6d. That means that they will have to disappear. In that case the whole of the requirements of the Commonwealth will have to be met by importations, and a duty of 6d. per gross will yield more than a duty of 3d. But do honorable senators believe that Bell and Co. are going to close up ? I am certain that they will not. “We have to compare their circular with the evidence which they gave before the Tariff Board.
– That evidence was given in 1S95.
– That does not make any difference in regard to the question of wages, because according to the statement which they made in 1895 and the Victorian Inspector of Factories’ report of 1901, they are paying less wages, and employing fewer hands than in 1895. If that is to be pointed out as evidence of progress in the industry, a little retrogression is, I think, desirable. But taking their own statement as to the miserably small amount they pay in wages, in proportion to their enormous output, it is idle to suppose that they have the slightest intention of closing up, if the duty remains at fid. per gross, nor do I believe that they will close if the duty is reduced to 3d. If all the predictions which have been made came true, then and then only would the carrying of this motion tend to divert the revenue.
Senator STYLES (Victoria).- My honorable friend, although very often right, is sometimes very wrong. If he had taken notice of what I said at the outset of my remarks, he would have seen that his figures taken from the Statistical Register do not count for very much, because I explained that Japanese matches, labelled exactly in the same way as those from Sweden, are imported.
– The honorable senator means that the Victorian Statistical Register is inaccurate ?
– The officers do not know.
– Then how does the honorable senator know t
– -A friend of mine sold by auction thousands of boxes of matches, which were of Japanese manufacture, but were labelled in the same way as are those which come from Sweden.
– Thev come via England.
– Yes. Large numbers of cases of these matches were sold here by auction three or four years ago, and it was impossible to distinguish between them and ordinary wooden matches imported from European countries.
– We have been told that the match industry is a Victorian one, and it appears that honorable senators opposite - particularly Senator Millen and Senator Clemons - are delighted to have a Victorian industry in their grasp, and are determined to do all that they can to make it play second fiddle to the import trade. They are seeking to. wipe out the match industry with a very light heart, just as they have attempted to deal with a good many other industries. What are the facts of the case? I think it was in 1S94 that Messrs. Bell and Co. opened a wax match factory in Victoria, because they thought that the Victorian Tariff afforded them adequate protection. In these circumstances it would be not only a breach of faith, but a wrong to this or any other firm, to take away the protection necessary for their particular industry.
Senator Clemons was very vehement in his denunciation of the Government’s proposal, and gave us some curious reasons why these duties should be reduced by one-half. One was that the local factory was owned by a London firm. According to -his dictum, it should be wiped out on that ground. If that is to be our guiding principle in dealing with this and other industries, it seems to me that a goad many will have to be destroyed. Senator Clemons referred also to the report of the Victorian Tariff Board upon this industry, which was issued something like twelve months after its establishment. He pointed out that at that time it was in a very weak state, and did not fulfil his idea of what should be the conditions of an industry. Perhaps the statements that he made were perfectly true ; but we are not considering the industry as it existed six or seven years ago. We have to consider it as it exists to-day. I should like to remind honorable senators that the members of the Victorian Tariff Board were very much divided in regard to their recommendations.
– There could be no dispute as to the facts.
– I am disputing the fact. ‘ I am endeavouring to show that Senator Clemons was wrong. Believing as I do that the industry is worth preserving, I intend to vote for the Government proposal. It has been mentioned on many occasions that a strong minority of. the members of the Victorian Tariff Board in question refused to sign its findings. After the lapse of a considerable time some of them were induced to append their names to the document, but it was subsequently repudiated to a very great extent in the State Legislative Assembly. Senator Clemons made a quotation in regard to the question of wages. The only authentic statement which we have on the subject is that contained in the circular issued by Bell and Company, but until pulled up by Senator O’Keefe, Senator Clemons’ quoted only a’ portion of that circular. We have been told that the wages of girls employed in the factory range from 6s. per week for beginners to £1 2s. per week for experienced hands ; that the wages of men range from £1 10s. to £3 per week, and that boys receive from 5s. to 1 3s. per week. It is all very well for Senator Clemons to quote something which was written about the state of this industry six or seven years ago, but we have here a statement issued only two or three .days ago by the firm involved. It is for those who are seeking to reduce the duty to controvert the evidence placed in our hands by Bell and Company. As they have not attempted to do, so I must assume that they admit the correctness of the statement. But assuming, for the sake -of argument, that the statement is untrue - that the operatives are not receiving the wages which should be given to them - will my honorable friends of the Opposition help the protectionists to secure for these people proper’ wages ? Will they endeavour to induce the Parliaments of the States which they represent to give the Federal Parliament the. control of factory legislation so that we may be able to see that the people employed in all the industries of Australia receive proper wages, and work only during reasonable hours ? We have been told that there are 70 persons employed in the industry. Bell and Company say, however, that they are employing 70 hands, and that, if they obtain control over the markets of the Commonwealth, they will be able to employ at least 1,000 hands.
– If they have been employing only 70 hands to enable them to supply the Victorian market, how are they going to employ 1,000 when they control the market of the Commonwealth ?
– I am not prepared to answer conundrums at a moment’s notice. This statement has been in the hands of honorable senators for two or three days, and it is for those who oppose the duties to prove that it is incorrect. The Victorian Inspector of Factories, Mr. Harrison Ord, wrote on the 11th of December last, to Messrs. ‘Bell and Company Limited, as follows -
Gentlemen. - I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 6th hist., and to inform you that, relying on your assurance that my reply will . not in any way be used as an advertisement, I have no hesitation in stating that this department is quite satisfied with the arrangement and conduct of the match factory at Richmond. No case of illness attributable to the process of making the matches lias ever been brought under my notice.
– That letter was not intended for publication.
– That is not so. Mr. Ord merely stipulated that it should not be used as an advertisement. He is an officer who errs, if at all, on the side of rigid adherence to the Act, and until I obtain better evidence than that which has been put before the committee against the reduction of the duties, I intend to support the Government proposals.
– From the evidence which has been put before the committee as well as from what I have obtained in other ways, I regard the industry as a miserable one, paying starvation wages, and not worth preserving. The females who are employed in it would find ample room for their energies in much better occupations. I am confident, however, that if we reduce these duties we shall lose revenue. The statistics show that this State received two or three years ago £15,000 or £16,000 revenue from a duty on matches, and I refuse to vote for a proposal which, if carried, would reduce the revenue very largely. I do not think we can afford to lose any revenue. I care nothing for the preservation of the industry, but the duty proposed by the Government on wax matches is 6d par gross less than that which was imposed under the Victorian Tariff. I cannot see how we are to avoid a loss of revenue if we reduce the duty from 6d. to 3d. per gross.
– It has surprised me to hear honorable senators advocate the retention of the match industry in Australia. Some of the blackest pages in the history of England are due to this very industry. It has been responsible for more sweating and more unhealthy conditions of employment than any other industry, with the exception, perhaps, of the industry for the manufacture of sulphuric acid. Who has not heard of the terrible disease known as “phossy jaw,” from which those who follow this industry for any length of time are certain to suffer 1 This disease is practically inseparable from the manufacture of matches, and so far no process for their manufacture has been discovered which does not subject the employes to the disease, which renders them unfit to follow other occupations, and to which they ultimately succumb. We are asked to establish this industry in the Commonwealth, but, if I believed that we could wipe out the industry by removing the duty altogether, I should be prepared to remove the duty, and leave this industry and the “phossy jaw” to the Japanese. In connexion with the statements which have been quoted concerning I the industry in Victoria, I have been struck by ‘ the large proportion of child and female labour employed in the factory. This industry has not yet come under the beneficent sway of the wages board, or that might have been rectified to some extent. According to the statements made, there are only some eight adult males out of 70 employes in this factory. As it is an occupation dangerous to health, children and females should not be allowed to work at it. We have to use matches, but seeing that their manufacture is so detrimental to health, and has been responsible for the employment of children and sweating, I would prefer to let any foreign country take up the industry. I admit that one male, and one female inspector in Victoria have said that they know of no case of illness attributable to work in the factory in Melbourne. It is very likely that no such case has been brought under their notice. It is possible that as soon as any employe becomes sick he is discharged from the factory, and has to go elsewhere.
– They do not become sick. The industry is a healthy one.
– I have read reports of commissions that have inquired into the industry in England, in which it has been’ stated that the disease to which I have referred is inseparable from it, and I take it that the same process is adopted in the manufacture of matches hero that is followed in older countries. In addition to the fact that a large number of females and children are employed in the industry here, I should like honorable senators to look at the wages paid. The highest wages paid to expert hands proves that this is nob an industry which we should encourage in Australia. No reasons have been given why we should do anything to further encourage this industry which has been fostered in Victoria since 1895, with the result that there are only 70 employes engaged in it, most of whom are children, and all are underpaid. I say that, under the circumstances, the Commonwealth Parliament should say that Victoria made a mistake in attempting to build up that industry here, and that we do. not intend to perpetuate it.
– I am quite certain that the committee have not yet grasped the full significance of the facts relating to the industry in matches. I am quite sure, also, that if we wish to guarantee to the Commonwealth a revenue from matches approximating the estimate of the Government, it is desirable to reduce the duty to the amount proposed. I shall be glad if honorable senators will pay some attention to the figures which I propose to give them. I take the imports into New South Wales and Victoria for the year 1900. Honorable senators know that there was no duty upon matches in New South Wales, and they are acquainted with the duty that existed in Victoria. In the free-trade State the imports of wax matches amounted in value to £72,000, and the imports in Victoria amounted to only £7,000. I have not the number of boxes imported into New South Wales, but, taking the number imported into Victoria and the proportion according to value, I find that on the New South Wales import, with a duty of1s. per gross as originally proposed by the Government, a revenue of not less than £36,000 would have been derived. As the Government only anticipated a revenue of something like £13,000, it is quite evident that they assumed that the imports into New South Wales would be reduced by almost two-thirds, and the reduction would go to assist the industry in Victoria. Then with regard to safety matches, I find that the imports to Victoria were twice what they were to New South Wales. Safety matches being free of duty, they were cheaper than wax matches in Victoria, and people bought them more freely than in New South Wales. The value of the total imports of matches to Victoria amounted to £24,000, as against a total value of imports to New South Wales of £80,000. If we increase the Victorian amount in accordance with the proportion of population, the imports to that State under their duty would amount to £30,000, against imports amounting in value to £80,000 to New South Wales, where there was no duty. That shows the way in which the importation of matches, and consequently the collectable revenue, is reduced by the existence of a factory, which all evidence seems to show is not a desirable one. The leader of the labour party, in another place inside and outside of the House, has asserted that the industry is neither a healthy nor desirable one, and the same view has been taken by Sir George Turner. If this matter be carefully looked into, honorable senators will find that they are far more likely to get a revenue of £20,000 or £30,000 by a small duty of 3d. per gross than by a duty of 6d., which must to a very large extent destroy the possibility of getting revenue.
– Can the honorable senator tell us what proportion of the matches consumed in Australia the one factory in Victoria supplies ?
– I should say probably one-fourth at present, but of course it is only guess work.
– The honorable senator cannot assume anything from the output in Victoria, in which State this factory was protected by double the amount of duty which we now propose.
– I am asked a question, and judging by the figures before me, I give the best estimate I can on the spur of the moment, and I think it is not very far wrong. From the reports before us it appears that the total wages paid in this factory amounted to only £1,750 per year, and if the Federal Parliament put that amount on the Estimates to be paid to the persons employed in this factory, and let them spend their time doing nothing, instead of making matches, the Commonwealth would be in pocket. In 1895, the manager of this factory stated that the average wage paid ‘to females was 10s. per week. I believe the last statement, for 1901, shows that that amount has been increased, but the wages paid are still very low. I can find nothing in the statement of the wages paid to prove it desirable for us to protect the industry. Looking at the matter solely from a revenue point of view, we desire that a substantial revenue shall be collected from matches, and that can only be secured by a small duty. I draw special attention to the destruction of revenue which would result upon the making of matches from one central factory in Melbourne. It will tell very materially upon the revenue of the smaller states. Queensland has been getting some £5,000 a year in revenue from matches, and Tasmania has been getting a substantial sum also. These revenues will come pretty well to an end if matches are to be sent to these States from this Victorian factory, of which no honorable senator has as yet had the courage to say he feels proud.
– We have heard some remarkable statements in this controversy on matches, but the most remarkable have been made by Senator Pulsford. The honorable senator tells the committee, in the coolest manner possible, that the wiping out of this small industry is amere nothing, and involves only the throwing out of employment of 70 persons. He’ says, further, that the Commonwealth would actually be in pocket if it were to pay every man a sum equal to that which he is now paid in wages. The wiping out of an industry on which 45 persons, according to their statement, and 70 persons, according to the latest information, depend for their means of living is a mere nothing to the honorable senator.
– They are half-starved.
– Certainly the wages paid are not as high as I should like, but does the honorable senator tell us how many juveniles are employed in the industry ? Is it a crime that juveniles should be employed in the industry ?
– 12s. per week is all that protection has done for them.
– Is it a crime that children of a reasonable age should be employed in any industry ? An attempt has been made to draw a red herring across the track, and to direct the attention of honorable senators to the match industry in England, which played a most prominent part in an inquiry that was held a few years ago. Of course, we all deplore these things. We are dealing, however, with the match industry of the Commonwealth. Can any honorable senator rise in his place and say that it is injurious to the. health of the employes? The inspector of factories - a man of unblemished character - tells us in language which cannot be misunderstood, that he has examined the working conditions, and found the employes enjoying reasonably good health. He states in his report, which is lying on the table, that it is not an unhealthy occupation. What is the object in attempting to drag a red herring across the track, and to divert our attention to some other part of the world ? The object is to induce the committee, if possible, to reduce the duty. How many juveniles, I ask again, are employed in the match factory? Does the inspector say that a number of the employes are below the age of employment presented by the aw of Victoria? No evidence to that effect has been adduced. If the employes are underpaid, it is the duty of the Victorian Parliament to see that reasonable wages are paid to both males and females.
– And then they would ask for more protection.
– They might reasonably ask for more protection. When are the free-traders on the other side of the Chamber going to give some little attention to the revenues of the other States ? In Queensland we derive a revenue of £5,000 a year from the duty on matches. Do honorable senators wish to take away from us that small amount in addition to what they have already been instrumental in taking ? Where is this destruction of revenue going to end ? A revenue of £5,000 per year may seem a small amount, but to a State like Queensland, with a small population, comparatively speaking, it is a considerable sum. I appeal to honorable senators not to be influenced by what has been the duty in New South Wales or in Western Australia. I appeal to the representatives of Western Australia to have some consideration for small States like Queensland, with a small population and a small revenue. Under the Constitution Act the revenue of Western Australia is protected for a period of five years, but theother States enjoy no such protection. In the calmest way possible our honorable friends troop to this side of the chamber, and insist on. reduction after reduction of duty, irrespective of the financial consequences to Queensland and other States.
– The honorable senator is destroying revenue by his votes.
– I am anxious, not only to preserve the revenue, but also to preserve the industries of the Commonwealth, even if it be the wax match industry. I would appeal again to my honorable friends to have some little consideration for Queensland, where we have to depend considerably on amounts such as this duty would produce to carry on the government of the State. If one source of revenue after another is cut off, where are we likely to be landed ? What condition of mind will the people of Queensland be in when they read in the press that time after time the sources of their revenue are reduced to such an alarming extent ? What feelings are they likely to have towards the Commonwealth, which we all so readily agreed to enter, and which we are so anxious to maintain on just and fair lines 1 The wax match industry may be considered an insignificant one, but every industry that employs a number of hands is worth preserving. If employes are underpaid, let us endeavour, so far as we are capable, to raise the wages paid in the industries. If the hours of labour are excessively long, let me join with Senator Barrett and others in appealing to the State Parliaments to callow the Commonwealth Parliament to deal with factory legislation, so that we may have one uniform system, and insure that no labourer, man or woman, boy or girl, shall be sweated in any industry throughout the Commonwealth.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - I cannot allow Senator Clemons’ statement about fiscal anarchists to pass unchallenged. He ridiculed the idea of beginners in the wax match industry being paid 6s. per week. I wish to know how much apprentices to the law get when they start. If any wages had been paid in that industry I might have been an ornament to the profession. The honorable and learned senator said that it is very advisable to encourage the use of wooden matches. That proposition seemed to be so obvious that he did not explain, and I suppose the reason is that a greater number of fires are likely to occur in the pastoral districts from the use of wooden matches. I have travelled a little in the pastoral districts of Queensland, and a very erroneous impression exists with regard to the uSe of wax matches there, because very often it is the lightning that sets the grass alight. Senator Styles was challenged by Senator Clemons in regard to his figures. On referring to the Statesman’s Year Book for 1902, I find that the exports of matches from Japan to various places, in 1900, amounted to no less than 5,760,869 yen or over £500,000. Senator Millen stated that only £960 worth of these exports came to Australia ; but he must remember that the exports of J apan are increasing year by year. In 1900 the exports of all classes of goods from Japan to Australia amounted to 2,530,525 yen. I wish to draw attention to the great advance.in Japanese production, and to the possibility ‘that, although only £960 worth of matches was sent here a few years ago, the imports may amount to a very much larger sum later on. Whereas, in 1896, the total exports from Japan amounted to 118,052,631 yen, in 1900 they had increased to 209,562,906 yen - a very great advance, owing, as we say, to the establishment of foreign factories run by British, German, and American patriots. I would draw attention to another aspect of the case stated by the honorable senator regarding the match industry in the old country. He said that a great deal of misery and sweating existed in the industry. I agree with him, but tlie honorable senator has not proved that there has been any disease in Australia such as he says exists in the old country. The decision of the committee of inquiry in the old country reported that these diseases were inseparable from the match making industry, but in all probability that report was drawn up so as to let down as lightly as possible the shareholders in the great match making companies whose operations gave rise to the inquiry. It will be remembered that at the time of the inquiry it was stated that the direst distress was being caused in companies the shareholders of winch were clergymen, lawyers, and business people. But the statement that diseases are inseparable from the industry is not borne out by the Government factories inspector in Victoria. That gentleman says he has no hesitation in stating “ That this department is quite satisfied with the arrangements and conduct of the match factory at Richmond.” Senator Barrett has stated that Mr. Ord, if he errs at all, errs in the direction of the rigid administration of the Factories Act. Therefore he cannot be accused of allowing Messrs. Bell and Co.’s factory to go unchallenged if anything wrong takes place in connexion with it. Are we willing to allow the productions of factories in other parts of the. world, where diseases are rife, to be imported 1 Would it not be better for us to have in the Commonwealth a factory which we can control in some way by making it subject to our factory laws and regulations ? It is almost impossible to prevent the establishment of rings, trusts, and combines, and therefore it would be better for us to have them in the Commonwealth, where we can control them in a reasonable way.
Question- - -That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 35 by adding to the duty “Matches and vestas . . Wax per gross, 6d.,” the words “ and on and after 1st July, 1902, 3d.”- put. The committee divided -
Ayes …….. … 12
Noes … … … 12
Question so resolved in the negative.
Motion (by Senator Lt.-Col. Neild) -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend Item 35 by adding to the duy “Matches and vestas . . . Wood or other, per gross6d.,” the words “and on and after the 1st July, 1902, 3d.” put. The committee divided -
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item 36 (Meats, fish, poultry, and game) called on.
– Before this item is discussed I wish to ask your ruling, Mr. Chairman, on a question of procedure. On previous occasions it has been your custom after an item has been passed in sections to put the whole item to the committee. There was some difficulty in regard to the matter on a former occasion. In this instance, however, we have dealt with the item in sections, but the question has not been put that the item stand as printed. I wish to know whether it is intended that the remaining items shall be dealt with in the same way.
– I put the item in two parts. It was proposed to add certain words. That proposal having been rejected, I take it that the item is passed. I cannot stultify the vote of the committee in the matter.
– I understood, Mr. Chairman, that you were going to adopt the practice stated by Senator McGregor. Having failed to obtain a modification of a duty, it might be the wish of the committee to vote against the whole item ; and if it were negatived it would necessarily be placed on the list of exemptions. The committee having affirmed that it will or will not entertain a proposal that another place be requested to amend an item, the whole item as printed, or with the words added, should be submitted.
– Senator Millen seems to desire that the Chairman shall not take the committee by surprise by passing an item so rapidly. I should like to point out that some of us do not wish to be taken by surprise in other matters, and that it would be well for the honorable senator to give notice of his motions.
– The honorable senator must not refer to that.
– I think, Mr. Chairman, that you put some of the earlier items expressly, but I have noticed that many of the later items have not been dealt with in that way. “When a motion that certain words should be added at the end of an item has been lost, it has been considered that the item as printed has been carried. I take it that where a motion to add certain words at the end of an item fails, you consider that the item itself is carried. I do not know that it is necessary to put the question expressly. Senator Millen has suggested that if that were done the committee might vote against the whole item. That is a course which the committee cannot take.
– Then why submit as a direct motion from the Chair a question in regard to which we have no alternative t
– It may be a matter as to the way in which the Chairman thinks an item should be carried, but an alternative proposal, such as has been suggested by the honorable senator, is really impossible under the Constitution. If we negative an item we amend the Bill.
– By way of request to another place.
– That is not so. If a motion is tabled in the usual form it is a suggestion that another place deal with the duty in a certain way, and it is either carried or lost ; but if the question that an item stand as printed is negatived we stand in exactly the same position that we occupy when defiling with any other Bill. If we negative a schedule to a Bill, it necessarily goes out of the measure. To do anything of that kind with this Bill, however, would be to act against the Constitution. I presume, therefore, that, for that reason, the Chairman has not thought it necessary to put this question expressly in all cases.
– On a previous occasion an incident of this kind Recurred. It was decided not to press the matter, but it was distinctly held by honorable senators of the Opposition that we had a perfect right to call for a division on the whole of an item.
– Some little time ago, Mr. Chairman, you put a proposal that another place be requested to reduce the duty on coffee. That proposal was negatived. You then put the question that the item stand as printed, and I called for a division. For some particular reason I was induced to withdraw my call.
– I remember the circumstances now.
– I submit, Mr. Chairman, that you have put a number of items to the committee upon which there has been no debate, and have declared them carried. With very great respect to you, I contend that each item of a schedule like this is upon exactly the same footing as is a clause in a Bill, and must be put to the committee, otherwise there can be no decision.
– I am glad that the honorable senator has drawn my attention to the matter. The question was raised on a previous .item by Senator Neild. Upon that occasion I decided that I should put the whole item. In this case it was proposed that another place be requested to make two amendments. That proposal was negatived, and as a matter of fact, a clause is always taken as being passed up to the point at which an amendment is accepted, or rejected. I think, however, now that my attention has been drawn to the matter, that I have no alternative but to put the- item, quite irrespective of the constitutional results. I shall, therefore, put the question that the item stand as printed.
– I hope that honorable senators will understand that the negativing of this item would really be an amendment of the Bill-.
– -It would be equivalent to a suggestion to another place.
– It would be a different thing altogether. If it were equivalent to a request it could not be put, as a motion that certain words be added at the end of the item has already been dealt with. I think you ruled before, Mr. Chairman, that you would take the motions in order, and that it must be taken that the words coming before any suggestion must stand-
– I do not think, Mr. Chairman, that we ought to have any discussion on the point of order after your ruling has been given.
– I have put the question, and the honorable senator is now addressing himself to it.
– I hope that there will not be any attempt to get rid of the vote which we have just carried by a method of this kind. The committee have already voted against the motion, an 3 it would be altogether improper to attempt by a side wind, as it were, to reverse the vote already passed. To do so would be to fly in the face of the Constitution.
– It is perfectly true that we cannot amend the Bill ; but when we determine to negative any particular item, that is equivalent to a request to another place to omit it.
– It is a different thing altogether. It is an amendment.
– For instance, in regard to several items on which no proposals weremade, the question has been put - “ That the item stand as printed.” If the question were negatived it would be equivalent to a request to another place to amend the Bill.
– We have always adopted a certain form.
– That formhas been adopted by the Chairman, and if an item were negatived it would be used in the message to another place. It would be competent for the committee to request that the item should be free. The committee would be perfectly within their rights if they saw fit - I do not say that they will - to vote entirely against the item. The motion would then go to another place as a request for the omission of the item.
– I raised the point in order that it might not be said, after half the Tariff had been passed, that an irregularity had occurred in bur proceedings. It is all very well for honorable senators to say, as Senator Gould has said, that to negative an item is equivalent to a request to another place that that item be omitted. I wish to remind Senator Gould that’ before we dealt with the item in sections it would have been quite competent for any honorable senator to havemoved that a request be made to another place to omit the item, but for any one to say that, after dealing with the item piece by piece, we can negative it, and that such a decision would go to another place as a request that the whole item be omitted, is absurd. If it is desired that an item be omitted altogether, the request to another place should be made in that form.
– Each of the items in the schedule appears to me to be in exactly the same position as is the clause of a Bill. A clause in any ordinary Bill can be amended. After an amendment has been made the question is put “ that the clause as amended be agreed to.” The whole clause can then be negatived, and I do not know of anything in the Constitution which would prevent us from following practically the same course in dealing with these items.
– The Constitution says that we may not amend a Bill of this kind.
– The request to another place is to all intents and purposes an amendment.
– It is a different thing altogether.
– Having negatived, as we have done, two proposals relating to this item,we can request another place to omit the whole item.
– We can, if that question is put.
– A vote having been taken on these two sub-sections, I am not prepared to disturb it, but I say unhesitatingly that the question should be put.
Item 35 put and agreed to.
Senate adjourned at 10.31 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 3 June 1902, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1902/19020603_senate_1_10/>.