1st Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
PUBLIC SERVICE APPOINTMENTS.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH. - I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council when the return ordered by the Senate on the 28th May, with regard to the appointment of civil servants from outside State services will be laid on the table?
Senator O’CONNOR.- I shall look into the matter.
LETTER CARRIERS’ OVERTIME.
Senator Lt.-Col. NEILD. - Some time ago I asked the Postmaster-General a question with reference to the payment for overtime work in the Sydney Post-office, and an answer was promised at an early date. I shall be glad to know if the honorable and learned senator can give me an answer now?
Senator DRAKE. - The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
The question of payment to letter-carriers in New South Wales for overtime is under consideration with a view to devising some more equitable scheme for submission to the Public Service Commissioner, who, in accordance with sub-section(i) of section 80 of the Commonwealth Public Service Act, is empowered to make regulations for the payment of officers for extra services. Under existing regulations, the longservice letter-carriers are paid overtime, but such payment is not made to those more recently appointed.
PEARL SHELLING INDUSTRY
Senator STEWART asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Has the report of Judge Dashwoodon the pearl-shelling industry been received by the Government,; and, if so, when will it be available to members ?
Senator O’CONNOR.- The report has not yet been received. Judge Dashwood is now at Merauke, Dutch New Guinea. His report is expected soon after his return.
Senator BARRETT asked the Vice-
President of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Has his attention been called to the landing of ten Chinese by the steamer Tsinan under permit?
What was the nature of the permit referred to?
Senator O’CONNOR. - The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
The form of permit was one issued under the Victorian Chinese Restriction Act by the Government of Victoria. The issue of these permits was discontinued at the request of this Government in January last.
UNREGISTERED LANDING PLACE.
Senator DE LARGIE asked the Vice-
President of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Are the Customs authorities, aware of the practice of the ship Hesper unloading cargo on the beach at Gerald ton, Western Australia, which is not a registered landing place ; and is not such practice likely to lead to smuggling, and other breaches of the Customs Act ?
Senator O’CONNOR.-I am informed by the Customs authorities that the ship Hesper has been allowed to unload on the beach at Geraldton, as the crane power at the Government jetty is insufficient to land the timber which constitutes her cargo. The revenue is fully protected, duty having been paid before she commenced to discharge. Her cargo consists of timber only ; her stores were sealed at Fremantle and checked at Geraldton.
Senator O’CONNOR (New South Wales - Vice-President of the Executive Council). - I move -
That henceforth during the present session, unless otherwise ordered,Monday in each week bo a sitting day of the Senate, that half-past two o’clock be the hour of meeting, mid that Government business take precedence on such day.
I have already intimated that it is the intention of the Government to ask the Senate to adjourn over Coronation week, and to meet on the following Monday. It will be necessary to have a sessional order for that purpose. I think that honorable senators will realize that in. order to get the Tariff passed -in anything like a reasonable time, it may become necessary to sit on Mondays as well as the other days. It is only right that we should have the power to sit on Mondays, if it becomes necessary, as it mav.
Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania).- I feel that it is somewhat difficult to resist the motion chiefly because we are at one in being anxious to see the session closed. At the same time it is my duty to point out that this is a very serious step to take if the Senate is to consider the convenience of its individual members. It will make it almost imperative for the senators from New South Wales to stop altogether in Melbourne, and it will make it absolutely imperative for the senators from South Australia to stop here. So far as I know the habits of the Tasmanian senators, I alone should be affected by the passing of the motion. I do not believe that any honorable senator makes a habit of going back to Tasmania occasionally as I do, therefore my mouth is shut with regard to that State. Seeing that there are twelve senators who come from New South Wales and South Australia, and that their attendance has been very good and regular during the session, we ought to pause before we inflict on them this very serious penalty. I feel some doubt as to whether the motion, if carried, will expedite the passage of the Tariff Bill. I am afraid that it will only create an opportunity for more talk. I regret that the difficulty with which we are confronted has not been met in another way. I do not propose to indicate the method, because I am perfectly certain that Senator O’Connor knows what I mean.
Senator 0’CONNOR - I do not, indeed.
Senator CLEMONS. - We might have expedited the passage of the Tariff Bill if individual senators who, for the most part, sit on the other side and support the Government, had shown .more moderation, not only in the length, but in the frequency, of their speeches. I do not make the observation with any acrimony, but it is a fact that a great deal of time has been wasted in that way. Much as the consideration of the Tariff was prolonged in another place, the Government did not think it necessary to inflict this penalty on the members of that House. Its consideration occupied the attention of the other House for seven or eight months at the least, but they never sat on a Monday.
Senator 0’CONNOR - They sat much later than the Senate ever does.
Senator CLEMONS. - I do not believe that any honorable senator would “object to sitting later at night, especially if it would relieve him from the necessity of coming here on Monday. Senator O’Connor might have saved many hours, and still might save many hours by sitting until half-past eleven o’clock. By sitting an hour later every night we should practically accumulate the time of an extra sitting every week without compelling the senators from other States to come to Melbourne on the Monday. For these reasons, I must oppose the motion.
Senator McGREGOR (South Australia). - I am very much obliged to Senator Clemons for his anxiety on behalf of the senators from South Australia. I would rather sit on Monday and Saturday than be compelled to sit later on any night, or to sit all night at any time. It should be understood that the Government have no intention “of asking the Senate to sit on Monday, unless it is found necessary, and when it is found necessary it will be a good thing to have in existence an order of this kind. I would rather stop here a whole week, or a month, than allow the consideration of the Tariff to drag on to ,the detriment of the interests of the commercial community. It was rather a piece of presumption for Senator Clemons to insinuate that time might be saved in the consideration of the Tariff Bill. He knows very well that we have continually complained about the conduct of the Opposition. We come here quite unprepared for anything they propose to do. For hours they sit and agree upon a proposal, and when it is suddenly sprung upon us, we must take some time to consider it.
Senator CHARLESTON - Do not you sit daily and consider, too 1
Senator McGREGOR - Certainly not. We have never sat at any time to consider the Tariff. We have other matters that we think of just as much importance to deal with. With very few exceptions, not an item in the Tariff has come before the committee without having being challenged by the Opposition, and challenged with a suddenness that has compelled some honorable senators to combat their assertions, and, in some instances, their misstatements. If Senator Clemons wishes to give fair play, let us all have a conference outside the Chamber. Then we should be perfectly prepared to vote when the Government or the Opposition brought the question to an issue. But, as things are, those who hold views on certain questions have been compelled by the Opposition to take a certain course of action. I hope that they will continue to take that course. I do not think that to give the Senate power to sit on Mondays will be to do anything wrong. Whether, when the power is given, we should sit on Mondays, must be decided in the future. If sufficient progress is made to justify the Senate in sitting only on four days in the week well and good, but if that progress is not made I should advocate sitting on six days rather than .late at night.
Senator STEWART (Queensland). - I am very glad that the Government have seen lit to propose to add Mondays to the sitting days of the Senate. This is a step that should have been taken some time ago. A number of honorable senators seem to be exceedingly anxious to suit the convenience of the representatives of New South Wales and South Australia, “ but they appear to have no consideration whatever for senators from Queensland, Western Australia, and Tasmania. The Victorian senators are at home here, and the New South Wales and South Australian senators can get home every week-end. But the representatives of Western Australia, Queensland, and Tasmania are practically exiles from their States. No one has any objection to the New South Wales and South Australian senators getting home to their families at the end of the week, but I ask them to consider that thereby the session is spun out longer than it otherwise would be. The longer the session lasts, so much longer are the other senators kept from visiting the States they represent. The time has arrived when some little consideration should be shown for the senators who come from distant States, and I therefore hope that the motion will be carried. I sympathize deeply with Senator Clemons in his attempt to sit upon a rail with regard to this question. We have often heard him twitting other honorable senators with performing that acrobatic feat. To-day he has attempted it himself. He does not care to oppose the motion, because, if he did, it would seem to indicate that he did not want to work ; but he does not like to support it, because it is a Government proposal, and no matter what the Government propose he is opposed to it. He says he would like the Senate to sit till about half-past eleven every night. I have had as much experience of night sittings as any honorable senator. I have sat in Parliament for three days and nights consecutively. Night sittings simply mean scamped legislation. Every hour that the Senate sits after halfpast ten is, in my opinion, time wasted. It is much more desirable that we should sit on Mondays until the Tariff is dealt with than that we should idle away our time from Friday afternoon until Tuesday. Senator Clemons says that Monday sittings may possibly hinder rather than expedite the passage of the Tariff by giving fresh opportunities to talk. Then why not restrict our efforts to one day a week 1 That seems to be the logical conclusion of the honorable and learned senator’spoint. If we only sit one day a week there will be still less opportunity for talk. When the Tariff was being discussed in another place, and the Government complained - not without reason on many occasions - of the loquacity of the Opposition, we were told that the Opposition were merely performing the duty for which they were sent to Parliament, and that the Commonwealth was under a deep debt of gratitude to them for the microscopic examination of the Tariff which they had made. But when in the Senate the Government do the very same thing in connexion with amendments, sprung upon them by the Opposition - which is in a majority here - complaints are made about undue discussion. As the Tariff is intended to last a considerable time it is advisable that the work should be done well now rather than that we should have to go back upon it in a year or two.
Senator Lt. -Col. NEILD (New South Wales). - Senator Stewart has just said that he thinks it better that we should discuss the Tariff fully at this stage than that we should have to go back upon our work in a year or two. Let me assure him that the public 1 of the Commonwealth will go back upon the Tariff in a year or two, whether the
Senate sits on Mondays or not. There is nothing more absolutely certain than that. What Senator Clemens has said as to the position of senators from New South Wales and South Australia is perfectly true, but at the same time it is not advisable that anything should be done to militate against the prompt transaction of public business. Monday sittings will be a heavy tax upon some of us, but we cannot shut our eyes to the fact that other honorable senators have to put up with great inconvenience by remaining in Melbourne - in what I believe is locally regarded as a charming climate - with nothing to do between Friday and Tuesday except, perhaps, to visit the monkey house at the Zoo ! While it will be rather a tax to sit on Mondays, we cannot very well get out of it. But while I shall vote for the motion, I think I am justified in begging Ministers who have charge of the conduct of the business in the Senate, not to pursue the course they have followed during the last few weeks with reference to public business. I have known two Ministers in this Chamber in the course of three hours to make five speeches between them ; and if honorable senators apply a foot rule to the columns of Hansard they will find that during the Senate debate the Ministerial supporters have managed to fill four inches out of seven. . The greater part of the talking has not come from this side of the chamber. For instance, during the last two days of sitting last week I never once opened my mouth, and for the other two days I took up Jess than a column. I merely typify myself as one of those who are determined to facilitate the passage of the Tariff by refraining from speaking. I have voted, and voted, and voted, without opening my mouth, and others on this side have done the same. We have refrained from speaking, with a persistence that merits a little more consideration at the hands of some honorable senators who are more loquaciously disposed. I agree with Senator Clemons, that if we sat for an hour and a half extra every night there would be no need for a Monday sitting. I am sorry that cannot be done, but as it seems to be impossible, let us push on with the business. But I do beg of Ministers and their supporters, that having asked for this concession at the hands of the Senate, they will exercise some generosity towards others, and not be so frequently eloquent.
Senator BARRETT (Victoria).- On a question of this kind honorable senators should not study their own convenience. We are sent here to do the business of the country, and we all recognise that the Tariff ought to be despatched as soon as possible. The delay in passing the Tariff is stagnating business, and putting a large section of our people to inconvenience. I have received letters from various persons pointing out that the Senate ought to hurry up in regard to the matter. Those letters have not come only from my own State. Recently I received a letter from the New South Wales Traders’ Association, in which they quoted from an article in the Sydney Daily Telegraph. That paper says -
Despite the somewhat more animated character of the general business throughout the State during the week the influence of the Tariff difficult3’ is everywhere unmistakable. Traders are heartily sick of the unwarranted delay in fixing the duties, and the losses which have been incurred by importers in consequence will go far to discount the current year’s profits. Indeed, merchants are for the most part thankful to see their money back during the present interregnum of federal muddle, as prices ave generally below ante-Tariff free-trade quotations, notwithstanding the increased cost.
Then the association goes on to state that -
Since the above was written the acuteness of the position is daily increasing, and every one is calling out for settlement, as, without it, stability of business is impossible. The Senate would be studying the best interests of the Commonwealth by accepting the proposed Tariff.
The PRESIDENT. - I do not think the honorable senator should have read the last sentence. He should not quote any document reflecting on the conduct of -business in the Senate.
Senator BARRETT. - The conduct of the Opposition during the Tariff discussion has also, I think, delayed business. I would point out to Senator Clemons that honorable senators supporting the Government do not know what motions are to be proposed by the Opposition until they are actually tabled. In all seriousness, I would urge honorable senators of the Opposition to give us some opportunity of learning the position which they intend to take up in regard to any item. When. they fail to do so, we are unable to discuss items in the way that we should desire, owing to the want of opportunity to look up references necessary to present our view of the matter. The honorable and learned senator has drawn a comparison between the time occupied by another place and by the Senate in dealing with the Tariff. He has said that another place occupied something like seven months in dealing with it. Does he mean to tell us that we should be as long o in dealing with the measure? Does he not know that, under the Constitution, we must have a uniform Tariff throughout Australia within two years ; and that, if we go on at the present rate, the end of the year will find us still, discussing the Tariff, with the result that we shall have to fall back on the State Tariffs formerly in existence ? There would be other complications which it should also be our desire to avoid. Under the circumstances I think that the Government have done right. I agree with Senator McGregor that we should sit on Mondays, and, if necessary, on Saturdays. If these extra days prove insufficient, I would suggest to the Government that we should meet every morning at 10.30, just as we do every Friday, in order to expedite business.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - I do not agree with those who say that the Government have done right in proposing an extra sitting day. I think that if we sit on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays we shall have ample time to deal with the Tariff, provided that honorable senators curtail their speeches. I sympathize with Senator McGregor and Senator Barrett in their objection that honorable senators of the Opposition do not give us any information as to the course they intend to pursue in regard to the items in the Tariff. If we are to come here for five days a week, and to be told from hour to hour, and afternoon to afternoon, what is proposed by Senator Clemons and his colleagues, I shall ‘ regard it as .an almost overwhelming burden to have another sitting day. What time shall we have to look up our facts if we meet on Mondays 1 I do not think it is fair to ask those of us who take an interest in the Tariff to meet on Mondays. Unlike Senator Neild I do not spend my spare time at the monkeyhouse in the Zoo. I try to discover what weight there is in the points presented by Senator Sargood and others who come here fully armed, and I must say that the time at my disposal is too limited to allow of the defence that I should otherwise make. I am sure that is the case with many other honorable senators. We find that there is too little time given us to deal with questions relating to the Tariff in a proper way. - To my mind, that is a great loss to the Commonwealth. Decisions are arrived at by a majority of one or two votes when, if we had but a little more time, we should be able to convince the one or two senators who turn the balance in favour of a motion for an amendment of the Tariff, that the motion should not be carried. Senator Clemons has claimed that the Government supporters take up the time of the Senate in discussing the Tariff. I would ask him how much of our time is occupied in listening to Senator Symon 1 That honorable and learned senator makes more speeches and longer ones than even Senator Harney would do if lie were here.
Senator Major Gould. - What time does the honorable senator take up ?
Senator HIGGS. - If honorable senators would go through the records with the footrule mentioned by Senator Neild, they would find that I do not* occupy half as much as do certain honorable senators. Some honorable senators on the Opposition side take an inordinately long time to introduce a question, and deem it necessary to reply to every speaker on the other side. Senator Symon must reply to Senator O’Connor and must reply in turn to Senator Barrett, Senator Styles, Senator Glassey, and every other speaker on the other side. I think the proper course for the Minister to pursue would be to withdraw the proposition, and that honorable senators of the Opposition should desist from moving motions for alterations in theTariff in regard to such items as dress hats. It is a great mistake for the Government to propose an extra sitting day, and their action shows very little gratitude for the staunch way in which some honorable senators have stood by the Tariff. I suppose gratitude is unknown in politics. Inasmuch as we have sat here for some thirteen months, and are likely to be here for another three or four months during this session, I think it will make very little difference to the progress of business whether we sit four or five days a week. My own opinion is that four days a week are sufficient. Honorable senators must recognise that when a proposition is sprung upon us from the Opposition we hav.e to seek information, and while we are doing so some other honorable senators are probably good enough to keep the discussion going so that the matter shall not be allowed to pass too hurriedly. Therefore there will be very little gain by meeting an extra day every week. However, I shall not stand in the way of the
Government proposal. I desire that the business of the country shall be1 expedited. If honorable senators think that by meeting five days a week we shall assist the commercial community to learn what they have a right to know in regard to what the Tariff is to be for the next year or two> I will offer no objection to the proposal. At the same time honorable senators must excuse me if, as the result of the extra sitting day, I am unable to condense my speeches as I should otherwise be able to do.
Senator KEATING (Tasmania). - I hope this motion will pass, and I believe that if it is carried the passage of the Tariff will be very much expedited. I must take this opportunity of making some reference to the remarks which have fallen from honorable senators opposite, and in the course of which one honorable senator expressed a hope that, in the event of the motion being agreed to by them, honorable senators on this side would extend some generosity to them by limiting their speeches. I wish that some honorable senators opposite, before addressing themselves to that phase of the question, would remember that, according to everything we know here, they have at other times and in other places a discussion amongst themselves as to the items in the Tariff - a discussion which, in the interests of the people of the Commonwealth, would, I think, be very much better if it took place on the floor of this Chamber. If they have that discussion before they enter this Chamber, and arrive at a decision amongst themselves as to the course of action they should follow in regard to any item in the Tariff, they certainly cannot blame honorable senators who are not privileged to participate in those previous discussions if they wish to discuss in their entirety the pros and cons of the proposals which they submit for amending these items. Before they criticise so severely, for what they call their loquacity, the remarks of honorable senators who support the Government from any quarter, they should remember that they themselves have an opportunity before they come here of indulging their own loquacity, arid of arriving at some definite decision from which it seems impossible to remove them by arguments put forward either from this or any other part of the Senate. These are circumstances to which the people of the Commonwealth should pay some attention. It is very evident, not only in relation to this motion, but in regard to others, that industrious efforts are being made to give the people of the Commonwealth to understand that the delay in the passage of the Tariff is due to the loquacity of members of the Government and those who are supporting them.
Senator Matheson. - Hear, hear.
Senator KEATING. - The honorable senator evidently agrees with me that industrious efforts of the character I refer to are being put forward most strenuously.
Senator Matheson. - Efforts to disseminate the truth.
Senator KEATING.- I think that the people of the Commonwealth are entitled to know that honorable senators opposite, who claim as a virtue that they maintain a considerable degree of silence, are privileged to participate in a close discussion which they reserve to themselves, and agree elsewhere to a final determination despite any discussion that may take place here within the hearing of all the electors of the Commonwealth. I do not think that those honorable senators are entitled to claim any virtue in this respect^ and it is putting before the people a wrong aspect of the situation when they consent to the course now proposed by the “Vice-President of the Executive Council, and ask, as a quid P’.0 quo, that honorable senators supporting the Government should limit their loquacity.
Senator CHARLESTON (South Australia). - I think that honorable senators on this side are entitled to ask the members of the Government and their supporters to assist them in facilitating the passage of the Tariff Bill if they agree to this motion.
Senator Glassey. - “What does the honorable senator mean by “ assisting “ the Opposition ?
Senator CHARLESTON. - They should assist us by putting a stop to a great many of the speeches from the Government side, which apparently have no other object than that of killing time. We are told that honorable senators on this side meet daily, and consider what they will do before they attend the Senate. There is nothing to prevent honorable senators on the Government side meeting in the same way. We meet as the revenue Tariff party, consider the items upon their merits, and ask ourselves how we can best preserve for the various States the revenue they require.
We have been charged with not giving notice of our amendments, but we may presume, I suppose, that honorable senators opposite are thoroughly conversant with every item in the Tariff. They know that the tendency of motions proposed from this side is always in the direction of the reduction of duties, and they should therefore be prepared to meet any such motion proposed. With other honorable senators on this side I have purposely refrained from addressing myself to various items in the Tariff, resting content with having the matter from my point of view, clearly stated by the leader of the Opposition. It does not matter very much to me whether I remain in Melbourne or not, but it is calling upon other senators from South Australia and New South Wales to make a sacrifice, which they should not be called upon to make at the present time, to ask them to remain in Melbourne in order to meet here on Mondays and Saturdays. Senator McGregor has for the time being made his home here, and is prepared to sit on Mondays and Saturdays so long as we are not called upon to sit late at night. On the other hand, I am willing to sit late at night so long as we are not asked to remain in Melbourne at the week end. I would urge the Government to withdraw the motion, as’ I think we can get along with the business with expedition without imposing upon honorable senators the burden of Monday sittings.
Senator Major GOULD (New South Wales). - I compliment Senator Keating ipon the speech which he has delivered. I am glad to find that the statement which has to a certain extent been disputed by honorable senators opposite has been so freely admitted by the honorable and learned senator.
Senator Keating. - I admitted nothing but that the Opposition have made a charge.
Senator Major GOULD. - The honorable and learned senator put the cap on his head, and admitted the charge at once by attempting to excuse himself and other honorable senators on the Government side for having prolonged the debate upon the Tariff unnecessarily by making long speeches. Let me say that if the honorable and learned senator likes to become a member of the freetrade party he will be at liberty to attend the meetings held from time to time by that party.
Senator KEATING - I shall never attend them upon that condition.
Senator Major GOULD. - I do not suppose the honorable and learned senator will, because he is too good a protectionist to believe in the principles of the other side. I recognise, as many honorable senators do, that for many of us Monday is an inconvenient sitting day, but I also recognise the fact that Parliament has been in session now for a very long time, that there is still a good deal of work to do in connexion with the Tariff, and that the sooner we get it out of hand th’e better it will be, not only for Parliament, but for the Commonwealth generally. Belying upon the promise made by Senator O’Connor, and upon the understanding that advantage is only to be taken of Monday sittings for the purpose of dealing with the Tariff, I am willing to record my vote in favour of adding Monday to the sitting days of the week for the purpose of getting through with this business. I believe, honorable senators generally recognise the necessity which now exists to give additional time to the matter, and giving it willingly we shall the more speedily get rid of the Tariff and bring a session which has already been a very prolonged one to a close.
Senator GLASSEY (Queensland).- One is almost sick and tired of listening to the everlasting chatter about honorable senators on the Government side delivering long speeches. That is all idle chatter intended to throw snuff in the eyes of the public outside. Do honorable senators opposite imagine that when they come here ‘ and make attacks upon the Government side, those attacks are not to be repelled 1 Is that the position which we are to take up ? So long as I am here, and have any voice ov any strength, I shall try to repel the attacks made, and reply to the chatter to which I have alluded. I am no lover of five sitting days in the week, but the Government are the best judges as to how the business of the Chamber should be conducted. It is not for me to dictate to them, and take the conduct of business out ‘of their hands. If they think five sitting days in each week are necessary, I shall agree ; but I tell them candidly that I do so reluctantly, and I tell them with equal candour that I shall oppose all late sittings. I do not believe in them because, from my experience, they are not conducive to good legislation or to the health of honorable senators. This, of course, is an exceptional time, and we must be prepared to make some little sacrifices. Above all honorable senators in this Chamber, those who have least room for grumbling are the honorable senators from New South Wales and from the model State of South Australia. I am glad to say that a capital spirit has been shown from time to time in giving facilities to those honorable senators to visit their homes at the week-end, but surely it is not unreasonable, when we have arrived at this stage in a long and wearisome session, to ask those honorable senators to give up some of their little privileges, and make some sacrifice in order to bring the session to a close. Senator Charleston, in speaking of the great sacrifice which those honorable senators are being asked to make, has failed to recognise the sacrifice which honorable senators coming from Queensland, Western Australia, and Tasmania are called upon to make. I have been anchored here all the year, and have not seen my home since Christmas. Lam opposed to the suggestion made that we should sit until half-past eleven at night, because, as I have said, late sittings are not conducive to wise legislation.
Senator O’CONNOR (In reply).- I hardly expected that the proposal to give us simply the right to sit on Mondays would have elicited so much discussion. I gather, from the general tenor of the observations made, that the motion will be assented to.
Senator Higgs. - With a bad grace.
Senator O’CONNOR. - With what is called in law a “ a grumbling assent ;” but, so long as the assent is given, it does not matter very much whether it is “ grumbling” or not. I should like to say one or two words with regard to the suggestion made by Senator Clemons, that we might gain time by sitting late. I have had some experience in managing the business of the Senate, and I have tried on several occasions to get honorable senators to sit late. Somehow or another, about ten o’clock their resolution appears to weaken all round, and I have had most pathetic appeals made to me not to keep them up all night.
Senator Matheson. - Why do you listen to them.
Senator O’CONNOR. - I have pointed out that we are not a body of old men, and that we might sit a little later, but I have had to recognise that there seems to be a general feeling in the Senate that we should
not sit later than about half -past ten o’clock. An honorable senator has asked - “ Why listen to these suggestions V The answer is that we cannot go on unless we have honorable senators willing to sit and conduct the business of the country.
Senator Matheson. - We could supply a quorum.
Senator O’CONNOR.- No doubt that is what the honorable senator wishes, but I have to consult the general convenience of the Senate. I would just as soon sit until 1 2 o’clock, and I am sure that my honorable and learned colleague is of the same opinion, but I do not see that a longer sitting is practicable, and therefore we must get the extra time as we propose. I intend to ask the Senate to sit on the Monday following the Coronation adjournment, and I shall have no hesitation in asking the Senate to sit on other Mondays if it appears to me that it is. necessary in order to get the Tariff Bill put through. We began the consideration of’ the -measure on the 25th April ; we went into committee on the 15th May, and we are only dealing now with the division relating to apparel and textiles. We have not reached” the machinery division, and we have a great deal of work yet to do. Unless the business is to be expedited in some way it is almost appalling to contemplate how long we shall be engaged here. I cannot sitdown without making a protest against the insinuation that the waste of time has been caused by long speeches from this side of the Chamber. There is absolute!)’ no shadow of truth in the suggestion. We come here to discuss the Tariff in the constitutional way in which public questions ought to be discussed - that is, in public, in the presence of the press and the people. We are not ashamed that any reasons wehave to give for our faith should be stated publicly and given the utmost publicity to.. It is all very well for honorable senatorswho, before they come here, discuss and decidequestions for reasons they will not allow to see the light of day to attend here with their opinions ready made and simply sit back and speak as little as possible.. The Government and their supporters are here to uphold, under, all circumstances, certain principles in which they strongly believe, anu they will use such arguments as are necessary to support them. If my honorable friends opposite will use their constitutional power of making suggestions for the amendment of the Tariff a little more reasonably, there will not be so much time taken up.
Senator Major Gould. - The honorable and learned senator announced his intention to fight every item - to stick to the Tariff.
Senator O’CONNOR. -Whenever a suggestion is made which I do not think is in accordance with the principle and spirit of the Tariff, I shall fight it. If my honorable friends opposite wish to get the Tariff put through iiia reasonable time, they will confine their suggestions to important matters, and not time after time select matters which are trivial and unimportant in effect, but which are very important in relation to the principle on which the Tariff rests.
Senator Clemons. - Do not limit that advice to us. It applies to Government supporters.
Senator O’CONNOR. - I do not wish to enter into any recriminations with the honorable and learned senator. I hope that my advice will be taken to heart by those, honorable senators who . really, are very largely responsible for the delay which has taken place.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee - (Consideration resumed from 17th June, vide page 13744).
Upon which, Senator Lt.-Col. Neild had moved -
That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the item, Department of Defence, “ Seventh Regiment Volunteer Infantry, salaries £322,” by £33 13s. 4d.
– In consequence of the absence of the Acting Minister for Defence, who is not well to-day, I have been unable to get all the information I should like to have. The officer referred to by Senator Neild is the adjutant of the St. George’s Rifles.
– Perhaps it will save time if I state the case very briefly. There is a proposal to vote a sum for an adjutant. Who he is, or what he is, does not come into the question at all. The regiment has had no adjutant for two and a half yea.rs. I object to the voting of a Salary for an adjutant who does not exist in order that the money may be diverted to some other purpose. I do not wish to deal with the matter from the stand-point of any one officer.
– My information is that there is a gentleman who holds this position, and his salary has been placed on the Estimates for New South Wales for some time past. The Estimates that were tabled last October contained a salary for an adjutant, and, of course, it has been paid to the officer who holds the position. Recently he has been detached for duty in another State, and as soon as his services are not required there he will be returned to his former position in New South Wales.
– The Minister has been misinformed.
– That is my information. If there is no such officer the salary will not be paid. But there is such an officer, and if the money is not voted under this head, he cannot be paid. The real trouble is whether the salary of the officer should be paid by the Defence department of New South Wales, or whether, as “ other expenditure,” it should be borne by the Commonwealth. That is a question which will have to be decided in another way. There are a great number of officers in the States who have been temporarily performing duties in other States. There are some cases where officers who belong to the Postal department in one State have been called upon temporarily to perform duties in another State or for the central administration. If a State claims that the services of any officer have been given wholly to another State, or to the Commonwealth at large, then it certainly has a ground for requesting a refund of that salary. But it is another question, altogether to vote the salary in some form or other to the officer. If this money is not voted, then the officer who has been performing duties in his own State or in any other State cannot be paid. Clearly, the proper remedy is to pay the salary and then seek an adjustment as between the State and the Commonwealth.
– Will not the AuditorGeneral do that ?
– No doubt he will. That there is such an officer I have not the slightest doubt. Surely we are not going to refuse to pay an officer his salary because he has been ordered to perform duties outside the State in which he was originally appointed ? I ask Senator Neild, under these circumstances, not to persevere with his motion.
– I do not believe that there is any desire not to vote to any officer who is performing duties the salary which he is entitled to receive. But the objection, I take it, is that the Government are asking us to vote a salary for an individual who, practically, is non-existent, with the idea of paying an individual who is existent. Does it not appear unreasonable that the Estimates should be burdened with a salary for the services of a gentleman as an adjutant, a position the duties of which he has not discharged for the past two and a-half years ? What we ought to insist upon is that the Government should correctly state on the Estimates what officer they are providing a salary for, and not ask us to vote money for the adjutant of a regiment when there is no one performing the duties of the office. Of course, if the officer in question had simply “been removed for two or three months to do temporary work elsewhere, we could very readily understand the position ; but he appears to have been detached from the regiment; and, although he has been so detached for upwards of two years, we are asked to vote his salary as if he were still doing the work of the office, when he is really doing another class of work. It is a pity that the Estimates are not framed in such a way that honorable senators would have no occasion to make a complaint of this kind.
– I think we should endeavour to obtain competent officers in connexion with our defence force, and it is necessary that all appointments should be made in a regular and aboveboard manner. I want to know from the Postmaster-General who is the actingadjutant of the New South Wales Volunteer Infantry?
– I have no knowledge.
– I also want to know whether the general officer commanding in New South Wales sanctioned the appointment? I should also like to know whether it is within the power of Lt. -Col. Neild to Appoint an officer of his regiment to the’ position of acting-adjutant without the sanction of higher authorities 1
– What Neild is that?
– The celebrated poet and statesman. Is it a fact that the com- pany commanded by the officer appointed to the position of acting-adjutant is about 39 o z to be disbanded ; and further, is it true that the men of the company refused to drill under the officer in question ? I should have given notice of these questions earlier, except that the Tariff has taken up too much of my time, and has obscured the defence question for the present. But, fortunately, I am not too late to secure the information which is thirsted for in New South Wales. It is surprising that Senator Pulsford and others did not secure an opportunity of bringing the matter forward, but, of course, Queensland senators are always willing to shoulder the burdens of their fellow Commonwealth citizens. If the Postmaster-General is unable to give me the information, perhaps one of the senators from New South Wales - Senator Neild for preference - will tell us what he knows about the matter.
– It is perhaps just as well that I should say a word. I suppose that no one has been misled by the funnyisms of Senator Higgs. It will be recognised that the honorable senator is trying to indulge in a little joke.
– I was never more serious in my life.
.- The honorable senator has made a very bad attempt at seriousness, particularly as he showed bv the questions he asked, that he really does not understand military matters at all, and is simply indulging ‘in a farce. Senator Gould has stated the matter very clearly, but there is one point which perhaps Senator Drake does not recognise. So lone as a salary is being paid to the adjutant of a regiment for doing some other work in some other place, the regiment in question cannot have an adjutant because there is no money to pay him. The money is- being devoted to another purpose. My difficulty is that I cannot give full particulars of what I happen to know. I can speak of no military matter in public involving information that comes to me officially. I can only speak of matters that are public property. According to the Postmaster-General himself there is no pretence that the salary in question is going to be paid on account of the office of adjutant to the 7th Regiment. Therefore it is going to be paid to some person who is doing some other work. Meanwhile the regiment has to do without an adjutant.
– The information I have received is that the officer holding the position of adjutant to the regiment in question is at present performing duties outside the State of New South Wales. As soon as these duties are discharged the officer will resume his position as adjutant of the regiment.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - I am sorry that Senator Drake has not seen his way clear to enlighten us on the matters brought forward by me. Senator Neild may describe my remarks as funnyisms, but that will not prevent us from pursuing him. We have now got on to his trail and will keep there. The honorable senator tells us that he knows something, but that to divulge the information in his possession would not be in accordance with military practice, law, or etiquette. What would happen to the honorable senator if he gave this information to the public 1 What are the consequences that will overtake him ? Would Lieutenant Wilks arrest him ? Who is the man who would have the temerity to arrest a senator who availed himself of the privilege of giving this Senate information in his possession? The acting adjutant in question may be a most estimable man and a most competent officer, but we ought to have the information asked for. The eyes” of the New South Wales electors are upon Senator Neild. He cannot get behind the fact that some appointment has been irregularly made. There seems to be something very serious in the back ground, or the honorable senator would give us the benefit of his knowledge. I can only leave him to his constitutents.
– I wish to direct attention to division No. 130, subdivision 2, - “Contingencies £960.” As far as I can judge from the Estimates, page 103, a sum of money, at the rate of £50 per month, is to be given to Mr.Lambton for acting as advisor to the PostmasterGeneral in all matters dealt with by the public service boards of the States, and matters of a similar character. How is it that the Postmaster-General requires an adviser other than Mr. Scott?
– When the departments were transferred to the Commonwealth the officers were taken out of the jurisdiction of the Public Service Boards in the three States of New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland. In each of those
States there were Public Service Acts and boards, and regulations were provided in order to protect the officers in all matters connected with appointments and promotions, and in cases of fines, inquiries, and so on. When on the transfer of the department the officers were removed from the control of the Public Service Boards, there was no body to adjudicate as between the officers and the department. I considered it very desirable that there should be some officer with knowledge of matters connected with the Public Service Acts in order that each case which would previously have come before a Public Service Board might be inquired- into. It has been the duty of Mr. Lambton to consider the Public Service Acts and regulations in the three States, and to advise what course of action would probably bc taken by such a board if its regulations were in operation in connexion with the department. ‘It is a year and three months since the department was transferred, and Mr. Lambton, during that time, has been a substitute for the Public Service Boards. These boards have been fairly costly in the States, and it will be admitted that it was an excellent arrangement, from the financial point of view, to select Mr. Lambton for this work. Mr. Lambton was the Deputy PostmasterGeneral in New South Wales. He has occupied that position for a great number of years. He is a man of very great ability, and with the most complete knowledge of the public service. He arranged with the New South Wales Government to retire on a pension on the last day of February - the day before the transfer - and thus his services became available. It appeared to me that I could not select any other gentleman, either from within or without the department, who would be more efficient in the discharge of these duties ; and I think that, almost without exception, I have accepted the advice of Mr. Lambton as a substitute for that of the Public Service Commissioner. In my opinion, honorable senators will have a difficulty in finding a case in the Postal departments of any of the States in which there has been dissatisfaction with action taken on Mr. Lambton’s advice. I have given him notice that I shall have to lose the benefit of his services at the end of this month, in anticipation that the Public Service Commissioner will be in a position to undertake these duties on the 1st July. I am hopeful, although not sanguine, that the commissioner will be in the position to do so on that date.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia). - An item in the Postmaster-General’s department, to which I wish to draw the attention of Senator Drake, is as follows : -
Expenses of Mr. F. L. Outtrim on a visit to ^London in connexion with the International Telegraph Conference, .-£250.
If my information is correct the International Telegraph Conference has not been held, and will not take place this year.
– That is so.
– Therefore this gentleman is taking a pleasure trip to Europe, and we are asked to vote him £250 in connexion with it. I would ask the PostmasterGeneral to give us full information on the subject, and to say whether it is not a fact that on reaching Colombo Mr. Outtrim received a cablegram intimating that the conference would not be held 1
– I was informed that this conference would take place in London during the present year, and as it appeared to me that there was no one available at the time who would be a more fitting person to appoint to represent the Commonwealth, I asked Mr. Outtrim to undertake the engagement. He agreed to do so, and I offered him £250 as a lump sum to cover his expenses. That is considerably less than what has been paid on previous occasions to representatives who have attended sittings of the conference. Mr. Outtrim made all his arrangements, and asked for six months’ leave of absence, to commence from the termination of the sittings of the conference. He had a right to that leave under the Victorian Act, and I agreed to it. After he had left the last port of call in Australia, a cablegram reached me stating that in consequence of the death of Queen Victoria the sittings had been postponed until next year. I wired to Mr. Outtrim at Colombo, telling him that he could return, and that all the arrangements in regard to leave would be off, or that if he chose he could continue his trip, and that his leave would date from the time of his arrival in London. I think that was a fair arrangement. Without breaking faith with Mr. Outtrim, I do not see that I could have done anything else.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia). - I think that the item should be struck out, although perhaps we should give some reasonable compensation to Mr. Outtrim in respect of the time for which he was actually occupied upon Commonwealth business. Most of us know that just before this gentleman left for London, he practically defied the Government. He gave information to the press as to matters of discipline connected with his office, and under the regulations of the Victorian Postal Service any other officer would have been dismissed. We know that there was a conflict of opinion between Mr. Outtrim and the Postmaster-General, and at the time the public generally thought that this trip was offered as a kind of solatium to the officer.
– There was no ground for that belief.
– It followed very closely upon the dispute. The facts are that he intended to take his leave whether the conference sat or not.
– I know nothing of that, and I should be just as well informed on the point as is Senator Pearce.
– The information given to the press first of all was that Mr. Outtrim was to receive six months’ leave of absence. Later on it was stated that during his leave he would attend the International Telegraph Conference on behalf of the Commonwealth. He was given six months’ leave on full pay, and why should we vote him in addition a sum of £250 when he is practically on a holiday trip ? The arrangement was that the money should only be paid to Mr. Outtrim for attending the conference, and on arrival at Colombo he was advised that the sitting had been postponed. I do not think that the Commonwealth can afford to treat its public servants in this way. The postponement of the conference entailed no loss upon Mr. Outtrim, and why should we vote him £2d0 ? In my opinion he has no claim to it. If this proposal is adopted it will establish a precedent under which any other Deputy Postmaster-General will be able to ask, not only for six months’ leave on full pay, but for a gift of £250.
– I think the Government must pay him something.
– I would not object to recouping Mr. Outtrim the cost of his passage. In order to test the feeling of the committee, I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the item. Postmaster-General’s department - “Expenses of Mr. F. L. Outtrim on a visit to London in connexion with the International Telegraph Conference, £250,” by £125.”
That would ‘allow Mr. Outtrim £125 in respect of his passage money to England. If we grant him that amount, I think we shall treat him in a very generous way, especially in view of the manner in which he acted before leaving.
– The honorable senator has said that Mr. Outtrim made certain statements to the press.
– ^1 do not say that he made them ; I say that they appeared in the press.
– The matter was fully gone into at the time, and a communication was sent to Mr. Outtrim telling him practically not to do such a thing again. That was the end of the incident, and I think it would have been most unworthy conduct on my part if I had allowed my attitude towards him subsequently to be influenced by that matter. This was not a solatium to Mr. Outtrim, and had no reference whatever to the incident. I do not know where Senator Pearce obtained his information, but when I asked Mr. Outtrim to undertake this trip, and made the arrangement as to his expenses, not a word had reached my ears in regard to the fact that he was entitled to leave of absence, or that he contemplated applying for it. Although ‘it has nothing to do with the matter, I may mention, incidentally, that I am informed that previous to his departure Mr. Outtrim broke up his home and sold his furniture, a transaction which often involves heavy loss. The amount which we undertook to pay for his expenses was clearly a compensation to Mr. Outtrim for the duties he was to perform. In the cablegram which I sent to him at Colombo I said that the arrangement in regard to his expenses would not be disturbed. If we had received a longer notice, of course we should not have incurred this expense, but on the other hand the postponement of the conference really means a curtailment of Mr. - Outtrim’s leave by about six weeks; He lost that, and the loss to the department was inevitable. I took counsel with some of my colleagues, and at the time we could not see that anything else could be done without involving a breach of faith. If the arrangement had been that he was to be paid his actual ex7penses it would have been different, but it was considered at the time wise to limit his expenses by agreeing to give him a fixed sum. When we had agreed to give him that fixed sum, it seems to me that we could not, without a breach of faith, have withheld a part of it, because the conference did not sit. ‘
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - I do not think Senator Pearce has done any harm in, drawing attention to the item. Te outsiders who did not know the facts, it certainly did seem that Mr. Outtrim had taken the huff, and having succeeded, apparently, in brow-beating the politicians and statesmen, it was found necessary to give him six months’ leave of absence to get him out of the way. The statement made by the Postmaster-General disproves that, but without the honorable and learned senator’s explanation, the fact seemed to indicate that a very simple method was adopted of getting rid of a very troublesome officer. We need not now deal with Mr. Outtrim’s action in furnishing information to the press, because Senator Drake has told us of the letter he got, and that the incident ended there. With regard to his trip and the conference, Senator Drake’s explanation that Mr. Outtrim sold up his home, must weigh with honorable senators. A gentleman leaving home for several months might very well be put to expense and loss in that direction, and under all the circumstances I suggest to Senator Pearce that he should not press his motion. If Mr. Outtrim had not suffered loss in connexion with breaking up his home I should have considered that the payment of his passage money to and from London would have been a fair thing, but under the circumstances as explained by the Postmaster-General, the matter might be allowed to drop.
– After having heard Senator Drake’s explanation, I ask Senator Pearce to withdraw the motion. We must recognise that the PostmasterGeneral would be placed in a very awkward position, indeed, if the committee refused to ratify his action. To me the honorable and learned senator’s explanation is entirely satisfactory. Though we may regret the fact that the conference had to be postponed, and that we shall be involved in still further expense if we desire to be represented at the conference when it is held, its postponement could not have been foreseen. Senator Pearce will be consulting the wishes of the majority of the committee by withdrawing his motion.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia). - The explanation given by the PostmasterGeneral should certainly alter the impression in the public mind with regard to this matter. It was for the purpose of contradicting a number of statements which are being circulated that I raised the question. It is all the better that the PostmasterGeneral should have had an ‘opportunity of letting the public know exactly what is the position of this officer. I ask leave now to withdraw the motion-
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Senator MATHESON (Western Australia). - I should like to know something about the conveyance of mails by subsidized boats other than recognised mail boats. I desire to know whether every boat calling at an Australian port is bound to carry mails, and whether the public are entitled to demand that their mails shall be carried by those boats. Considerable doubt prevails on the subject in Western Australia, and proper notice of opportunities for sending letters by intermediate boats is never given to the residents of that State.
– The vote referred to is for gratuities for vessels, not under contract, carrying mails. I think we have not the right to insist upon a mail being carried by any steamer ; but if a mail is received, the master of the ship can demand payment at certain prescribed rates. Though it is intended that we shall do so, we have not yet framed any new regulations upon the subject, and at the present time the regulations of each State are in force with regard to this matter. With reference to the despatch of letters by intermediate boats, the department does not undertake to do that in every case.
Senator MATHESON (Western Australia). - Asa matter of fact, the department does so. in Victoria. The Melbourne papers every morning contain a list, provided apparently by the Post-office department, of the names of boats by which people can send letters to Western Australia, but the same facilities are not given to the people of Western Australia to send letters to Victoria.
– Are they not always sent by the first steamer ?
– No ; as I understand it, the practice is to keep them for the regular mail boats. I know from my own experience that letters indorsed per such and such a boat have not been sent by that boat, but by the regular mail boat._ As I have said, notice of steamers by which people may send mails is given in the Victorian newspapers, and I believe a similar notice is posted at the Post-office. I desire that the same facilities shall be afforded in Western Australia.
– As a rule, we have-, considered that it is better to discourage people from marking a particular route upon their letters, for the reason that,, whereasthe Postal department always does, or should, forward mails by the very first conveyance, if a letter is directed to be forwarded by a particular route, it may be that the steamer taking that route has just left, and the letter may in consequence be held over. No doubt the Postal authorities will be prepared to send letters by any particular steamer if the persons directing that to be done are willing to take the risk of delay. I shall make inquiries with regard to the practice in Western Australia, and in framing any regulations for the future the practice in each of the States will be assimilated.
Senator MATHESON (Western Australia). - I direct attention to division 133, sub-division (4), “Miscellaneous services.” There is a guarantee for a cable to New Caledonia of something like £2,000. Then there is stated the proportion of loss on theNew Zealand cable business, and the proportion on account of the Tasmania- Victorian subsidy, £700. I desire some general information in respect of these three subsidies, and particularly in connexion with the Victorian and Tasmanian subsidy,, because I understand that that subsidy originally affected only Victoria and Tasmania, and I find now, upon looking through the Estimates, that all . the States of the Commonwealth are being debited with a contribution to that subsidy. I should like to know under what arrangements with a States this liability has been thrust upon them. I understand that the New Zealand and New Caledonia cable subsidies are applicable solely to Queensland and New South Wales.
– With regard to the cable to New Caledonia, two States, New South Wales and Queensland, are guarantors to the extent of £2,000 each, which, of course, is to cover any business done over the cable ; but, as a matter of fact, the amount of business has never come up to l the£2,000. The Eastern Extension Company agreed to reduce its charges for New Zealand cable business conditionally upon a guarantee of revenue being given by the Australian States concerned. It was accordingly agreed that a revenue of £26,258 should be guaranteed, any loss to be apportioned as follows : - The Cable Company a quarter, New Zealand a quarter, and the other States one-half. Provision has to be made upon the Estimates, but the loss upon this account is either nil or very small.
– When was this agreement entered into. Was it before the establishment of the Commonwealth ?
– A long time before. The position with regard to the Tasmanian cable is that a subsidy of £4,200 is payable to the Eastern Extension Company in connexion with this cable under a previous agreement. This subsidy was shared by the Australian States, including, pf course, Queensland.
– And Western Australia.
– I do not know whether Western Australia was a party to it. This agreement having been revoked by Tasmania, and– no new agreement having been entered into, it has been decided, on the advice of the Attorney-General, that thewhole subsidy is now payable by Tasmania. The arrangement made, by which .the loss was apportioned to the different States in certain proportions, has been revoked by the subsequent action of the Tasmanian Government, and now the whole of the subsidy is payable by Tasmania.
– Did not the Premiers’ Conference decide to go back again 1
– They passed a resolution to the effect that in their opinion any loss entailed by an alteration of the cable agreement should be borne by the Commonwealth, and I was informed by a member of the conference that they intended it to apply to the Tasmanian cable and not to any other. But I have not received an authoritative statement from any State that it is prepared to accept that liability. At the present time there is no loss, because the charge of one penny per word is producing a revenue far in excess of the £4,200. But should the charge be reduced under the Postal Rates Bill, then a certain liability would spring up under this agreement. And as the law stands, according to the. opinion of the Attorney- General, all the loss would have to be borne by the Tasmanian Government. The Premiers, in their conference, I am informed, were willing that that loss, having been caused by an alteration of the rates under the Commonwealth, should be borne by the States on a population basis.
Senator MATHESON (Western Australia). - So far as Western Australia or any other State is concerned, the amount to be contributed ought to appear in the schedule as “ other expenditure,” and the Minister’s explanation is not entirely satisfactory.
– There is nothing on the Estimates for that yet.
– There is. On page 130 of the Additional Estimates, for instance, there is only a small amount, but it is still worth considering.
– Yes, but that is under the old agreement.
– I understood the Minister to say that Western Australia was not a participant in the old agreement 1
– I do not think I said it was not. I am not prepared, at the present moment, to say what States ave concerned. The information I have is that “ this subsidy was shared by the Australian States,” and apparently it includes them all.
– Then it applies to Western Australia’s participation under the old contract ?
– Yes; but there is nothing there in regard to Victoria or Tasmania.
– On page 130 of the Additional Estimates there is an item for subsidies’ and guarantees in regard to the Tasmanian cable.
– It is borne by all the States on a population basis.
– If so, it should come under the head of new expenditure.
– Up to the present time, no. Previously there was an agreement that this loss should be borne by the States in a certain proportion, but not on a population basis, and that is what that item refers to. If the Premiers hold to the view that they expressed at their conference, in the future any loss will be borne by the > States on a population basis.
– The Postmaster-General has stated that at the time the departments were taken over by. the Commonwealth any loss on this subsidy of £4,300 was shared by the States. If this arrangement existed at the time of the transfer, I take it that it was a contract. How is it that the Attorney-General advises that it need not be adhered to after the transfer has been made, and that although the subsidy was shared by all the States before ‘the transfer, Tasmania must pay it all? I do not quite understand it.
– This business is very complicated. Some time ago there was an agreement by which this loss on the Tasmanian cable was to be borne equally by all the States, but then there was a provision that that should be repealed on some action of the Tasmanian Government. Afterwards the Tasmanian Government took that action ; but the other States, apparently not knowing that the first agreement had been repealed, continued their payments. The latest information I have is that by the subsequent action taken by the Tasmanian Government the original agreement was repealed.
– Can the Postmaster-General say whether there was a separate agreement between Tasmania and Victoria under which the latter was to pay a larger sum than the other States ?
– It does not appear on the Estimates that Victoria is debited with any payment.
– The arrangement at one time was that Victoria should pay the first £1,000 loss, and that thereafter the loss should be borne equally by Victoria and Tasmania. That arrangement, I am advised, has been repealed by the action of the Tasmanian Government.
– Prom division .133, 1 notice that a gratuity of £200 has been paid to the widow of Alfred “Wright, late mail officer in the General Post-office, at Brisbane. I desire to know from the Postmaster-General if the widow was entitled to receive that sum under the agreement between her late husband and the department ?
– In Queensland it has been the practice for the widow of an officer, who died while he was on leave, to get a gratuity according to the length of his unexpired leave. The gratuity has not been paid under any statute, or regulation : but it has been voted on the Estimates. Very shortly after the transfer of the department
Mr. Wright died under circumstances which, according to the old practice, would have entitled his widow to receive a gratuity. We are following exactly the course which has been adopted in the past by the Queensland Government.
Senator STEWART (Queensland). - From all quarters we hear many complaints as to the cost of the various departments, and every little leakage should be stopped. If it was the custom in Queensland to give a gratuity of this character to the widow of every official of the department, it has not my sympathy. I do not suppose it would be of any use to submit a motion, because the money has been paid and cannot be recalled. But when we reach the item on the Estimates I shall oppose it and call for a division, because I am entirely against the principle of giving gratuties in this way.
– The money has notbeen paid, and there is a strong probability that it will not be. There has been a correspondence going on between the Department of External Affairs and the Premier of Queensland, and the money will not be paid except with the consent of the Government of that State. If Mr. Wright had died before the transfer of the department the probability is- at least, we think so - that the usual practice would have been followed. If we find that the Government of Queensland say that if the transfer had not taken place they would not have asked their Parliament to vote a gratuity, it will not be paid. We wish the widow to get exactly the same treatment as she would have got if the transfer had not occurred. As it stands, the Queensland Government have said that they are not prepared to consent to the amount being paid. The salary of Mr. Wright was £400 a year, and the item in the Bill is the equivalent of a six months’leave.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - I think it is not a bad thing for the Parliament of the. Commonwealth and the State Parliaments to lay down a general rule that, when a bread-winner is taken away by death, his widow should get some gratuity, especially in the case of those officers who received such a low salary that they could not afford to bring up their families respectably, and, at the same time, make provision for them. I shall not vote against the payment of a gratuity to Mrs. Wright, in the hope that, fit some future time, the widow of some unfortunate officer who was getting only a couple of pounds per week may receive a gratuity.
Senator STEWART (Queensland). - I am in full sympathy with the sentiments expressed by Senator Higgs, but my regret is that we have not enough money to go round in the way he suggests. As we cannot treat’ every one alike in this respect, we should not give gratuities to anybody. The man referred to received £400 a year for a number of years, and ought to have provided for his widow. I certainly will be no party to the funds of the Commonwealth being squandered in the fashion proposed. No one is more anxious than I am that every one should be fully and efficiently provided for as far as possible, but there is a limit to our resources. However, as the PostmasterGeneral has told us that this money is not likely to be paid, I shall not move for the omission of the item. I should like some information with regard to the sum of £500 for advertising, and the sum of £6,500 for printing. To whom is the money for advertising paid, and does the post-office in Queensland pay for its printing to the Government Printing-office of that State?
– The printing up to the present time is being done by the Government Printing-office in Brisbane, and any amount due is paid by the Commonwealth Government to the State. The advertising is done locally, but we are endeavouring to make fresh arrangements with the view to introducing economies.
– Is it advertising in the newspapers ?
– Yes, in the local newspapers.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia). - I wish to call attention to division 135, with the view of bringing forward a matter in which keen interest is taken in Western Australia. “ It affects the question of the administration of the Postal department. In Kalgoorlie there are a number of lady attendants at the telephone exchange. I find it stated, in an answer given by Sir Philip Fysh to Mr. Kirwan in another place, that -
Lady telephone attendants at exchanges mentioned are paid as follows : - Nine at £60, one at £05, ten at £70, six at £90, one at £100, and two at £1.10. … As the positions are, as a rule, filled by girls whose parents reside in the towns mentioned, the necessity tor the payment of a goldfield allowance is not apparent ; but the matter will be brought under the notice of the Public
Service Commissioner for consideration when general regulations as to such allowances are being framed.
Mr. Kirwan has received a telegram from the ex-Mayor of Kalgoorlie, in which he says -
Twenty-seven girls employed gold-fields telephones ; eight live with parents ; nineteen board out.
Any one who knows the rate of payments made upon the goldfields is aware that girls cannot obtain proper board and lodging for less than £1 per week. That means that £52 a year is paid for board and lodging, leaving only, in some instances, £6, and in other £8, per annum for other expenditure. This is nothing but departmental sweating. In Kalgoorlie, barmaids receive £3 a week with board and lodging, genera] servants receive £1 per week and their keep, and cooks get up to £2 10s. a week and keep. When we find private employers paying such wages for what may be called unskilled labour, it is evident that the Commonwealth bears the appearance of being a sweater in the eyes of the public, in paying its female employes salaries as low as 25s. a week. It expects them to keep themselves honest and respectable on such a wage. The matter has previously been brought before the PostmasterGeneral. Of course, he told us that under the Public Service Act he could not interfere, as it was a matter for the commissioner. But as no inspectors have yet been appointed, the consequence is that these officers have absolutely no redress. We know very well what treatment they would receive if they complained to the Deputy PostmasterGeneral of Western Australia. They will simply be waived aside. If we approach the Postmaster-General on a matter of this kind, we are accused of bringing to bear political influence, and I suppose that if we approached the Public Service Commissioner, it would be said that we were exercising improper political influence in regard to that official. But if we wait until an inspector is appointed and has time to go through the whole of the Western Australian service and report to the commissioner, the commissioner will have to report to the Postmaster-General, then the matter will have to be considered in Cabinet, and this will mean that the officers in question will have to wait two years before their grievance will be remedied. Surely the Postmaster-General can make some arrangement by means of which a grievance of this kind may be remedied earlier. When we brought under his notice the case of the letter-carriers who were receiving the same pay upon the gold-fields as .was received on the coast, the honorable and learned senator recognised that an additional allowance ought to be made to them on account of the extra expense of living upon the gold-fields. Why could not a similar arrangement be made in the case of these girls? Why should not they receive a gold-fields allowance to compensate them for the extra cost of living at Kalgoorlie ? I do not ask the Postmaster-General to raise their grade or class in the service or to give them a higher salary, but I do ask him to request the Public Service Commissioner to inquire into the case forthwith, and see if he cannot recommend that a gold-fields allowance shall be made, such as is given to almost all male employes on the gold-fields. This practice is recognised by almost all private employers. Senator Sargood’s firm has an establishment on the o gold-fields, and I am quite sure that he recognises that a higher wage should be paid there than in the coastal districts. I have no doubt whatever that when the inspector is appointed, he will recommend the payment of such an allowance, but before that officer has time to go into the case, I trust that the Postmaster-General will give us a satisfactory answer to the effect that he will approach the commissioner, with a view to having an inquiry made.
– This is a very old standing grievance so far as concerns the workers on the gold-fields of Western ‘AustraliaWhile I have no complaint to make with regard to the treatment meted out by the Postmaster-General to the gold-fields employes of his department generally, I must say that in this particular instance justice has been retarded, and fair treatment has not been given to the female workers as readily as it has been, to the males. In every department of industry where male workers are engaged upon the gold-fields, higher rates are paid to them than are paid upon the coasts of Western Australia, notwithstanding that even there higher payments are made than in the eastern States. The Federal Government pursues the same practice generally. It is only in the case of women workers that an exception is made. The extra allowance is given, of course, to compensate for the extra cost of living on the gold-fields. It must also be remembered that women cannot live in the same way as men can. It is no uncommon thing for men to live in tents, and have their meals in public-houses and hotels. But women are obliged to live with a family in a substantial house, which, upon the gold-fields, costs a considerable sum. Consequently the living expenses of women in these districts are a great deal more than they are in the case of men. To give honorable senators some idea of the cost of living on the gold-fields, I will quote from the last number of the West Australian Worker, which contains a report of a meet* ing of the Trades and Labour Council of Perth. Amongst the correspondence read at the meeting was a letter from the secretary of the Gold-fields Trade and Labour Council complaining that some registry offices in Perth were sending girls to work on the gold-fields for 25s. a week. The very fact that a wage of 25s. a week was to be paid to these girls was regarded as objectionable. It will, therefore, be seen that the payments made by the Postal department to the female telephone operators is altogether too little. Some years ago I was president of an important trades union on the gold-fields, and brought this matter before the head of the Postal department of the State. Since that time the question has been hung up, and we seem to be as far away from a proper settlement as ever. I know from having lived upon the goldfields for a number of years that the girls in question are entitled to the consideration that is asked for them. A. gold-fields allowance has been made to male employes, and no reason whatever can be advanced why the same consideration should not also be shown to the women workers.
– I am very sorry for these young ladies on the gold-fields who are working for the very small salaries quoted by honorable senators. The only remedy foi” the grievance is to make living allowances to them. I am aware that the whole system of living allowances requires overhauling. But as two honorable senators have said, this is a long-standing grievance, and as the Public Service Commissioner has been appointed, I do not see that I can do anything to remedy it. I am asked whether I could not make a recommendation to the commissioner. I do not think that I could do so under the Act. The permanent head can report to the commissioner, and I have no doubt that at the proper time Mr. Scott will make some suitable recommendations in regard to living allowances in Western Australia as well as in some of the other States.
Motion (by Senator O’Connor) proposed -
That the Chairman report the Bill to the Senate.
Amendment (by Senator Drake) proposed -
That all the words after “That” be omitted, with u view to insert in lieu thereof the words, “ the schedule be reconsidered in regard to Division Ho. 20, of Part IV., Department of Home Affairs.”
Senator MATHESON (Western Australia). - This is a most extraordinary proposal on the part of the Postmaster-General, and I think the committee should have some reasons given for it.
– I have moved the amendment with the view of enabling the committee to further consider a matter which was dealt with yesterday. I refer to the proposed reduction by £1 of an item in the estimates of the Department for Home Affairs. It will be remembered that Senator Matheson moved that the item be reduced to that extent as a protest against the expenditure of money in connexion with the Commonwealth offices in Sydney. I think it is desirable that the matter should be further considered. It is of considerable importance to one of the States, and may be of great importance to others. The honorable senator brought the matter forward in order that he might protest against the expenditure in question. He has done so, and a number of other honorable senators have expressed their opinions on the subject. Therefore it seems to me that it is hardly necessary or desirable that we should go to the extraordinary length of sending back a Supply Bill to another place with a suggested reduction of one of the items. I hope that upon reconsideration the committee will come to the conclusion that there is no necessity for taking that extreme course.
Senator MATHESON (Western Australia). - In view of the consideration which we gave to the item yesterday, I expected to hear the Postmaster-General adduce1 some new facts to justify its proposed reconsideration. It will be remembered that we spent something like four hours of a valuable working day in discussing this matter at length ; and I do not think that those who wish to protest against the expenditure in question left any points untouched. It certainly seemed to me that the Postmaster-General, in defending the attitude which he took up, exhausted all the sources of information at his disposal behind the railings in the corner ; and during the adjournment for dinner he had an opportunity of collecting any fresh evidence available to rebut the telling facts which we brought out. Now, without the slightest suggestion that he has any fresh information to put before us-
– He has fresh votes to-day.
– Yes. As Senator Clemons has pointed out, we have present to-day certain honorable senattors who were not here yesterday, and who preferred to look after their own personal interests in the places where they dwell rather than to qualify themselves for the decent receipt of their salaries by coming here to work. Why should we go through the whole of the facts from beginning to end in order that those honorable senators who have neglected their duty to the Commonwealth, may have the case put before them % I submit that I am only doing justice to the Commonwealth and to the electors whoseinterests we are here to watch. This is one of those cases in which a member of Parliament is bound to incur a certain degree of odium in pointing out the defects of a system of wasteful extravagance, or any other matter about which we might find fault with the Government. It may be a duty which falls to the lot of all of us at times, but it is one that we do not care to take to ourselves. If the committee reconsider the item, it is obvious that both I and the Government must deal ab initio with a question which has been discussed at very great length. Is it worth while to waste the time of the country simply in order that a few honorable senators, who did not care to attend on the opening day of the week, may have an opportunity of voting upon this question 1
– As one of those who voted yesterday with Senator Matheson, I cannot quite agree with the view that he has just placed before the committee. The honorable senator deserves credit for the trouble he has taken to ascertain the facts in connexion with the extraordinary expenditure in relation to the Commonwealth offices, which, I feel, is not justified. With a view of expressing their disapproval of the expenditure, a ‘majority of the committee agreed yesterday that the item be reduced by £1, but very few of those who voted with the honorable senator in that way ever dreamt of proceeding to the full extreme, and of practically bringing about a difference of opinion between the two Houses. Certainly I did not. It was not unusual for the Victorian Legislative Council, which formerly met in this Chamber, to disapprove of certain proposed votes, and to record its protests, but it did not hang up legislation because of that. I am not prepared to delay the passage of the Supply Bill on a motion relating to the reduction of an item by £1. The honorable senator will really obtain credit for what he has done, but if we go to extremes on a small matter like this we shall be ridiculed by the public. After thinking over the matter last night I came to the conclusion that it would be well to reconsider the schedule, and, subsequently, I heard that the leader of the Government here proposed to move in that direction. That is the proper course to take, and having recorded our protest against the expenditure in question, we should not proceed further.
– If the honorable senator who has just resumed his seat had held last night the opinion which he entertains to-day this trouble would not have arisen. The incident will teach him, as well as other honorable senators, that it is just as well to think before taking action. I have a decided objection to Senator Drake’s amendment, and I hope that the course proposed is not going to be followed in the future. After the fullest discussion a certain decision was arrived at last night, and now a surprise proposal is sprung upon us. I have an objection to the reconsideration of the schedule, because if that course is to be followed generally there will be no finality to our legislation. If we are to come to one determination one night and to another upon another night, it means that our decisions are simply to depend upon particular honorable senators who happen to be in their places.- To-morrow there might oe other honorable senators here, or some honorable senators, who, like Senator Sargood, have changed their opinion, and if, the matter were brought up again, there would probably be yet another decision. Senator Drake, in asking the committee to reconsider the matter, should have stated the real grounds for his request. I do not think it is because he desires to invite further discussion, or that he has any new facts or arguments to place before honorable senators to induce those who voted against this proposal last night to vote the other way to-day. The real reason for the request is that the honorable and learned senator desires that the Bill should bo passed by the Senate as it was received from another place, and it would be just as well to put the request for a recommittal upon that ground. The honorable and learned senator put it upon the ground that he desires further consideration. There has been no opportunity for honorable sena-‘ tors to further consider the matter. If an intimation had been given last night that this proposal would be made, honorable senators could have given their attention to the matter before we met to-day. Without any intimation of the kind, we never anticipated that this would be done. I trust that honorable senators, realizing the danger of following a practice of this kind, will not agree to the motion.
Senator MATHESON (Western Australia). - I give Senator Sargood every credit for his desire yesterday afternoon to rub into the Government, the fact that he strongly disapproved of their expenditure in this respect, but I entirely disagree with him in thinking that that is sufficient. The honorable senator ought logically to continue to hold the views he expressed yesterday, and should be prepared to see the matter through. He has told us that to send down the request we decided to send yesterday might lead to a difference of opinion with the other Chamber.
– And to delay.
– I admit that it would lead to delay, but I do not admit that it would lead to any difference of opinion with the other Chamber, and I should like to know what grounds the honorable senator has for making that statement. He has not given the same attention to the matter that I have, and I may tell him that during the course of the morning I have been canvassing round this building, and I find that a great many Members of the Federal Parliament hold opinions similar to those which Senator Sargood held last night, and which I continue to hold today. I know that there are twenty or thirty honorable members who are anxious to have an opportunity of expressing an opinion upon this question, which has been entirely overlooked on previous occasions. Honorable senators must bear in mind that this matter was brought up by me at such a stage of the proceedings that it could not be discussed in another place, because the vote had then been passed by the House of Representatives.
– They dealt with this month’s Supply Bill and took no action.
– The honorable and learned senator is right, but it so happens that these Supply Billsare really not debated in a proper manner, and it will be found that only about three pages of Hansard are taken up with the debate upon this month’s Supply Bill in the House of Representatives. I venture to say that it will mean a very great loss to the Commonwealth if the request we agreed upon yesterday is not f orwarded to another place in the manner suggested. Senator Sargood has told us that this is a small matter in the eyes of the people. I entirely disagree with the honorable senator, and, in proof that it is not so considered, I can tell him that a letter strongly condemning the expenditure was addressed to me on the strength of a letter I sent to the newspapers about the item we discussed yesterday. - I have no hope of convincing the honorable senator, or that the recommittal will not be carried. I have not the slightest desire to waste the time of the committee, and, therefore, I cut short my remarks.
Amendment agreed to.
Question, as amended, resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Drake) proposed -
That the item, Department of Home Affairs, “ Works and buildings, sub-division No. 1., Bent, repairs, and maintenance . . . £1,725 “ be agreed to.
Senator MATHESON (Western Australia). - I anticipated that the PostmasterGeneralwould have said something upon the item. I point out to the honorable and learned senator that his colleague, Senator O’Connor, has not heard his arguments, and how can Senator O’Connor possibly vote for the motion ? Then there is Senator Gould, who did not honour us- with his presence yesterday. Senator Downer, also, has not had an opportunity of hearing the arguments upon either side of this question. Are we to understand that that honorable and learned senator is going to vote upon this question simply in order to support the Government. I gather that the opinion of those who supported me yesterday is that, having passed this reprimand on the expenditure by the Minister for Home Affairs, and the suggestion having been noticed in the press, and having received publicity in that way, we have gone far enough. That, I understand, is the view of Senator Sargood, at any rate.
– It certainly is.
– The honorable senator is unwilling that we should press this matter to its logical conclusion by officially calling the attention of another place to what we believe to be right. I have found, by inquiry, that other senators are quite satisfied with this display of Greek fire - -with having blown a horn and said, “ See how big we are ; now we’ll climb down.” Those honorable senators without any backbone have deserted me and, apparently, the)’ are satisfied that a substantial protest has been made against the extravagance of the Government. Under these circumstances, it would be absolutely useless for me to push the objection any further. I wish to explain to the PostmasterGeneral what really was the object of my motion, which he does not seem to understand. The object of the motion, as it is set out in Hansard, was to indicate to the House of Representatives the opinion of the Senate -
By negativing the resolution these honorable senators who are going to slip me up on this occasion will affirm that it is desirable to make provision for the transfer of the seat of government to Sydney during the recess. I leave the matter to their consciences. I hope that some of them will consider the duty they owe to theirconstitutents. Undoubtedly it is to ensure economy. I fail to see that they will bo carrying out their obvious duty if they vote “ Aye “ when the question is’ put.
Question put. The committee divided -
Ayes … … … 17
Noes … … …8
Majority … … 9
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Item agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Motion (by Senator Drake) proposed -
That the Bill be now read a third time.
– In consequence of some rather remarkable reporting in the press it seems that something I said in my second reading speech about the Military Estimates is regarded as in some way reflecting on the general officer commanding in New South Wales. I wish to entirely disabuse the minds of honorable senators of any such belief.
– We had no such idea.
.- I should not have spoken except that this report has come to my knowledge. I entirely repudiate any idea of the kind.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 13th June, vide page13662).
Division V. - Apparel and textiles.
Item OH. - Piece goods, viz. : -
Coatings, vestings, trouserings, n.e.i., flannels, and flannelettes, ad valorem 15 per cent.
Upon which Senator Sir Frederick Sargood had moved -
That the House of Representatives be re quested to amend item 66, by adding to the duty “ flannels and flannelettes, ad valorem 15 per cent.,” the words “and on and after 1st July, 1902, flannelettes, 5 per cent.”
– When the committee adjourned on Friday last, the question of the advisability of placing flannelettes under the head of piece cottons, subject to 5 per cent. duty, had come up, but I think it will be preferable if we first take up the question of cotton tweeds.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Senator Sir FREDERICK SARGOOD (Victoria). - I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend Item 66,by inserting after the word “flannels” in the duty “ Coatings, vestings, trouserings, n.e.i., flannels, and flannelettes, ad valorem 15 per cent.,” the words “of wool, or containing wool. “
This question of cotton tweed is rather an important one. It is a material consisting wholly of cotton. There is not a particle of wool in it, and it is very largely used by “ the million,” as the saying is, for a light kind of garment. These tweeds have been for many years absolutely free of duty in’ Victoria, while the apparel made from them has been subject to a duty of 35 per cent. The duty on the apparel has been reduced under this Tariff to 25 per cent., and if the piece goods which are used for making the apparel are to be charged with a duty of 15 per cent., the effect will simply be to kill the manufacturing trade. This is a point to which I am bound to look in view of the pledges made during the election, that I would not vote to interfere unduly with existing industries. Yesterday a deputation from the Clothing Manufacturers’ Association waited upon me to bring this subject under my notice. They pointed out - what, of course, I knew perfectly well before - the fatal injury that will be done to that branch of the manufacturing trade if a duty of 15 per cent. is put upon these goods. The amount of revenue involved is a mere bagatelle. The proportion of these cotton tweeds to woollen goods imported is, according to the figures of one firm, as . £900 to £31,000. So that the quantity really is not much more than 3 per cent. of the total amount of woollen goods imported. The loss of revenue willnot be a loss of 15 per cent, upon £900 in the case I have mentioned, but only of 10 per cent, upon £900, because under my proposal these goods would come in as cotton piece goods, to which class they properly belong. They are just as much cotton piece goods as calico is, and are in the same position as the imitation moleskins and corduroys, which are put upon the 5 per cent. list. It was never expected for a moment by those in the trade that anything more than 5 per cent, would be demanded upon these goods ; but the Custom-house demands 15 per cent., claiming that the goods come in as coatings, vestings, and trouserings, which is a designation given in the trade to woollen goods. I may state, further, in answer to the point that has been raised, that what I propose will not interfere with the woollen industry in the slightest decree. No one would dream of using these goods in place of woollens. The average value of them would not be more, I suppose, than Gd. or 6-1-d. a yard. I ha.ve in my hand a letter from the Albion Woollen Mills Geelong, in which it’ is stated -
As regards cotton tweeds, I do not think we should suffer at all if they came in free - in fact, I am sure that, as far as our trade is concerned, we would not.
That is the opinion of a local manufacturer of woollens, and it is also the opinion of other manufacturers. So that we may safely dismiss the question of whether what I propose would interfere with the local manufacture of woollens. I would strongly urge the committee to accept my motion, which will save a great deal of unnecessary confusion in the Custom-house in definitely deciding in what class these goods are dutiable. The small amount of revenue involved will, I venture to say, in the long run cease to mean a loss, because my motion will render evasion impossible. Although Senator O’Connor stands to his guns very loyally, I trust that in this instance he will accept my motion, which proposes to make a very small change, but which is of importance not only to those traders who import these goods, but also to a considerable number of manufacturers of apparel. Unless this duty of 15 per cent, is taken off these goods, we shall absolutely play into the hands of foreign manufacturers of clothing, and give no advantage to local manufacturers from the 25 per cent. duty. If we handicap the local manufacturer to the extent of 15 per cent., we shall absolutely kill the trade. I say, without any hesitation whatever, that practically the whole of the trade will go into the hands of foreign importers.
– I am sorry that I cannot accept Senator Sargood’.? motion. If it merely went in the direction of carrying out the intentions of the Tariff as it stands, or of removing some anomaly, I should only be too glad to accept it; but it appears to me that, from the point of view of revenue as well as of protecting our own industries, it is not desirable to agree to the motion. Senator Sargood has quoted some figures with regard to the proportion of the importation of these goods as compared with woollens. He says that according to the figures of one firm the proportion is something like £900 worth of cotton trouserings, coatings, and vestings to £31,000 worth of woollen goods. There is no doubt that previous to the introduction of this Tariff there was an immensely greater importation of cotton trouserings, coatings, and vestings than that, and no doubt the effect mentioned has been brought about by the Tariff, which imposes a duty of 15 per cent, upon this class of goods. The operation of the 15 per cent, duty upon these goods has been to diminish their importation.
– The figures I quoted were up to the month of J une this year, and were unaffected by the Tariff, because the orders were all placed beforehand.
– The Tariff has had time to have some effect, because in this respect the duty is the same as it was when the Tariff was introduced. The honorable senator has only given us the figures for this year. I have been unable to get particulars as to the relative proportion of cottons and flannels imported. The particulars could be obtained, I presume, by examining the Customs returns, but they are all lumped together, and I have not been ‘able to ascertain the amount of duty paid upon each item. But we all know that a large quantity of these goods are being used. If, as Senator Sargood says, the question is of so much importance to the local manufacturing industry that it is necessary to reduce the duty, I presume it is anticipated that a large amount of goods of this class will be imported.
The great objection to the importation of these materials is that in many instances they are really an imitation of flannel goods. These cotton tweeds are so made that they deceive many persons, and are really sold as tweeds. A large number of people are deceived by them, and are under the impression that they are getting flannel goods of a cheap kind when they are really purchasing cottons.
– No old woman would be deceived like that !
-The honorable senator speaks as an expert of many years experience, and what appears to him to be quite impossible might be very easy in the case of persons not so experienced. It will be seen at once what the effect of any large importation of these imitations of woollens will be. In the first instance very much less revenue will be received, because the imported cheap cotton goods would drive our own woollens out of the market. In the second place, a number of our people would be deprived of employment. The honorable senator has based his argument practically upon the protective issue. He said that the revenue did not matter much, but that is a consideration which is not to be despised. There is some revenue involved even if importations are only what Senator Sargood has stated. But I take it that the greater part of his argument was directed to the protective aspect of the question. He says that if we levy the proposed duty of 15 per cent. on these goods, as they are the raw material for the manufacture of some kinds of clothing, we impose a handicap which will largely prevent the local manufacturer successfully competing with the importer. But that is not the general opinion of the trade. I have some information from Messrs. Beath, Schiess, and Co., whoare a very large firm carrying on business in the clothing trade, and who can speak authoritatively as to the opinion of the manufacturers. They state that the manufacturers can stand a 10 per cent. margin, which will not affect importations to any extent. So that the opinion which Senator Sargood has expressed is really not a general opinion. The manufacturers get a 25 per cent. protection upon imported clothes, and a 10 per cent. margin between that duty and what they have to pay on their material will not kill the trade. It must be remembered that the protection means even more than appears on the face of it, because the duty of 25 per cent. is upon the whole value of the article, which consists very largely of labour, whereas the 15 per cent. duty is on the material only. We have established the fact that certainly one very large firm interested in this business thinks that 10 per cent. is sufficient. In the second place, we have shown that the protection is very reasonable, being something more than 10 per cent. Thirdly, we cannot afford to sacrifice the revenue, which will be lost directly byreducing the duty from 15 to 5 per cent., and the more we encourage the making of suits of clothes, and so on, from materials of this kind, the more we shall displace our own manufactures, and interfere with our own industries. Therefore, both from the protectionist and revenue stand-points, I hope that the motion . will not be carried.
– I certainly cannot agree with the Vice-President of the Executive Council, because I think the aspect of the case presented by Senator Sargood ought to commend itself to the committee. Senator Sargood pointed out that, until this Tariff came into force, these goods were free in Victoria, while there was aduty of 35 per cent. on made-up articles of this kind. He showed that there was a Tariff of 35,per cent. in favour of the local manufacturers, while, under the present Tariff, there will be only a protection of 10 per cent. It. may be that a margin of 10 per cent. between the duties on piece goods and’ the duties on the manufactured article would be quite sufficient, but we must remember that a demand has been made to place all cotton goods as against woollen articles upon one scale. Senator Sargood has attempted only to carry out what really was commenced in the House of Representatives. He wishes to bring down these cotton piece goods to the 5 per cent. duty, determined upon by another place, and which I hope will be accepted by the Senate, as the duty to be borne by cotton goods. The question of revenue appears to me to be a strong one, if I am to take the calculations given by Senator Sargood as being correct. He has pointed out that one firm imported £900 worth of cotton tweeds, as against £31,000 worth of woollen tweeds, and that shows what a small proportion of cotton goods of this class is used, as compared with the woollen goods. It has been said that people would be induced to purchase imitations of flannel goods, and that they would be deceived. I am certain that if this class of goods were imported they would be sold at such a low rate that the people would see at once that they were not woollens. In certain seasons of the year these goods would, no doubt, be very suitable for the purpose for which they are used. I do not see why we should unnecessarily tax the people. There will be a certain duty upon flannels, and why should we have the same duty upon cotton goods, simply because they form material for trouserings, vests, and coatings? This is a matter which should appeal to honorable senators who are supporting the Government as protectionists, because Senator Sargood’s proposal would certainly lean in the direction of giving protection. W e do not know what may be done later on, when we deal with the duty on apparel, but as it stands the motion should certainly commend itself to revenue tariffists and protectionists alike, as a means of treating the community fairly and reasonably in relation to goods that are not made of wool.
– I propose to address the committee from the standpoint of a protectionist who is desirous of assisting the woollen industries of the Commonwealth, and also from the stand-point of a critic who wishes to knock endways, so to speak, the arguments of honorable senators who say that the duties on flannels will increase the price to the consumer. A blow is being aimed at a primary industry by attempting to reduce the duty on woollens. In Sydney at the present time it is possible to obtain three great lines of flannels at prices less than those charged before the Tariff came into force. That is important. I wish to show the committee that the item should remain as it is, because consumers are receiving a benefit which honorablesenators of the Opposition never contemplated. I shall read a short extract in regard to flannels, and I hope those honorable senators will recognise the error of their ways. The extract is as follows : -
Three Great Lines of Flannels at Less thanfree-trade Prices. 28/29 inch. 60-yd. lengths, at 9d. per yard. 30 inch full, 48-yd. lengths, at11d. per yard. 38 inch full, 48-yd. lengths, at 13d. per yard.
In assorted colours, us samples enclosed.
Please compare these with any imported or locally-purchased goods youmay have obtained before the duties were imposed.
You will recognise these goods are of exceptional value, and it will prove to your advantage to fill requirements for the coming season immediately .
Our supplies from the mills are coming f orward freely, and we are prepared to executeyour orders at once, or if placed with us now, can guarantee delivery for either 1st March or 1st April, as you may desire.
Soliciting your favours,
We are, dear sirs,
Sydney, 20th February, 1902.
This appeared in a circular issued by the firm of the great free-trader, McMillan.
– My proposal does not touch the duty on flannels.
– The honorable senator wishes to so confuse the Customs officials that importers will be able to get in flannels, or flannels mixed with cotton or any other substance, without paying the proper duty.
– That is absolutely incorrect. My motion does not touch the question of flannels. If cotton goods were imported with even a thread of wool in them, they would have to pay the 15 per cent. duty.
– I do not know that Senator Sargood has advanced any argument to show that the Tariff should be altered in this way. The honorable senator amended his original motion after coming into the chamber, and if I am at sea in dealing with this question - and I do not think I am -he is responsible for it. I take up the solid ground that we have no right to interfere with an item which has been agreed to in another place as the result of a compromise between the two parties. ,
– I hope that the committee will adopt the motion. I. have had various letters from South Australia, as well as interviews with those who dealin articles which come under this heading, and every merchant and manufacturer whom I have met is extremely anxious that the goods should be clearly defined ; that woollen goods should come under one heading, and cotton goods under another. That would simplify the work of the Customs officials, and those who have to dealwith these goods. The motion, if carried, will simply mean that any imported cotton goods containing wool will be placed under the heading of woollens, but that cotton , goods, whether cotton tweeds or not, will be classed as cotton goods, and come under the duty relating to that item. To say that people are deceived when these cotton tweeds are placed before them is to discredit their judgment to an unjustifiable extent. Such goods are much cheaper than ordinary flannels, and the people purchase them for that reason. Therefore, in dealing with these goods, whatever may be the duty we decide to impose, we should put all goods containing wool in one class, and all goods containing cotton only in another class. All the persons to whom I have spoken on the matter are extremely desirous that we should simplify the Tariff in this direction.
– I view the proposal of Senator Sargood with some suspicion. It seems to me inevitable that if his motion is carried it will lead to a conflict with another place, and I think the committee is entitled to some assurance from the honorable senator that his motion is not merely a flash in the pan, and that at some later date he will not be overcome with some doubt as to whether the question is of sufficient importance to justify action which may lead to a difference of opinion between the two Houses.
– Senator Sargood’s motion on this occasion is different from that which the honorable senator intended to move previously. With his very vacillating habit, the honorable senator has again altered his mind. He is now attempting ostensibly to put goods containing wool or all wool into one category, and goods containing nothing but cotton into another. What we are discussing now are goods that are known as cotton tweeds. I object to frauds of any kind. I object to anything which is an imitation of a superior article, and for which the price of a superior article may be got out of an unsuspecting’ public. I shall always stick to the principle that goods made up in imitation of a superior article should pay the same rate of duty as the superior article, and I therefore contend that cotton tweeds, or any goods resembling woollens, should pay the 15 per cent. imposed upon woollens. By way of illustration I may mention that on a previous occasion an attempt was honestly made to exclude a fraudulent substance called “ butterine,” or “oleomargarine,” and I opposed the introduction of that article because it is an imitation of the genuine article. For the same reason I oppose any attempt to prevent cotton goods, got up to imitate woollen goods, being placed upon the same level, so far as duty is concerned. We can deal with cotton piece goods when we come to them, and I hope we shall deal with them honestly.
– I must congratulate Senator Sargood upon having moved this motion, because it shows that the free-traders are not such a band of brothers as we thought they were. Senator Sargood is going on his own, and I admire the honorable senator for that. At the same time I am going to vote against the motion. Senator Charleston told us just now that any one could tell the difference between cotton tweeds and woollen tweeds. But if that honorable senator will come to my house I can show him a coat made from some piece-goods purchased by my people. This was sold as beautiful tweed stuff, and was taken to a tailor to be made up, because it was so very cheap. The tailor told us that there was not a particle of wool in it, and it was not even good cotton goods, but shoddy. I am quite sure that if I had not given the information, Senator Charleston would not be able to tell the difference between that cloth and genuine woollen tweed. I do not desire to see our people clothed in cottons at all, because I think that in all seasons woollen clothing is preferable to cotton. I remind Senator Sargood that although he has had a great deal of experience, he has not been a buyerof these goods in a small way. There are people who sell these goods, and “sell” the purchaser at the same time, but Senator Sargood does notcome into contact with those people, and knows nothing about the pettifogging tricks of the small trader. If these goods are placed upon the free list, or under a duty of 5 per cent., large quantities of inferior cotton tweeds will be imported, and will be sold to poor people who do not know the difference between them and woollen tweeds. If I were a sporting character, I would not mind wagering that there are not six out of the 36 senators constituting the Senate who could tell the difference. That being so we should not allow the dealers in these goods to fleece the great bulk of the poor people by selling them stuff which is not what it is represented to be. If we put a proper duty upon these goods, it will prohibit their importation, because they will not then be able to compete with the woollen goods. It is, not the importer in a large way who sells his goods to respectable retailers that imports these goods. They are carted round the suburbs of Melbourne and through up-country towns by hawkers. I have seen several loads of these goods brought down to where I live at Williamstown, and people have run after the hawkers to get them, because they have been sold at such a cheap rate.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - I am very much surprised that an honorable senator who is held in such high esteem in Victoria as is Senator Sargood, should be found supporting a proposition of this kind. I do not doubt for a moment that he is desirous of assisting the poor by permitting the introduction of a quantity of cotton tweeds at the low rate of 5 per cent. But the proper way to protect the general body of the taxpayers who have very little money to spend is to keep out those goods. I would even go so far as to place them on the same plane as-butterine, oleomargarine, and other sham products. All over the world, especially in the United Kingdom, prohibitory laws are being passed against the placing of sham products on the market. Senator Sargood is urging us to permit the introduction of cotton goods, which will be imposed on the hard-working people as genuine all-wool articles. Is there anything utilitarian about cotton tweeds? If the samples in the possession of Senator O’Connor we’re all wool they would bring about 2s. a yard wholesale, but being a sham and a fraud they are quoted at only Gd. per yard. An honorable senator asked us if we think that the consumers are so deluded and so incompetent that they cannot distinguish between cotton tweeds and the genuine article. Would Senator Sargood be able to distinguish between them ? I have conversed with persons who are engaged in the sale of clothing in drapers’ shops, and I am informed that the want of knowledge on the part of those who go in to buy tweed clothes and various articles is very amusing. A person who wishes to buy a pair of trousers is shown a pair at about 10s. and he asks if the shop-keeper has not a pair of better quality. The shop-keeper does not happen to have a better article, but he brings forward a pair of another colour or pattern at 12s. 6d., and the customer makes a purchase believing that he is getting a better article. I am sure that most of us know very little about the textures of the materials that we wear. We have to buy our clothing on trust. Probably the first victims of this proposal would be the miners, who would be visited by the agents of the great importing industry, and told - “ Here is a sample of beautiful woollen cloth that would make a splendid pair of trousers, a coat or a vest.” It is utterly wrong for Senator Sargood to lend himself, unconsciously of course, to the tricks of those who wish to impose on the community cotton tweeds as woollen goods. If he will reflect, he will realize that the average customer cannot distinguish be”tween all wool and part wool, or between all wool and cotton tweed.
– It has been stated by Senator Higgs that the best way to protect the working classes is to keep out cotton tweeds. I take an entirely opposite .view. We cannot keep out cotton tweeds, and the best plan to pursue is to take care that they are as good as possible when they do come in. The higher the duty is made, the worse will be the quality of the cotton tweeds that come in. Cotton tweeds wear infinitely better than do those we commonly call woollen tweeds or union tweeds. A tweed consisting wholly of cotton will wear out these other tweeds’ halfadozen times over, and will be better for the working classes, to whom Senator Higgs refers. I prefer to speak for the great majority of the consumers who are in receipt of wages, or who have limited incomes, and who, necessarily, have to consider the cost of an article. The mere impostiion of a duty will not increase their wages or their incomes. They can only afford to spend a certain sum in the purchase of a suit of clothes, and if a high duty is imposed on the material the only way to meet their requirements is by lowering the quality. The effect of keeping a duty of 15 per cent, on that which has been free for many years in Victoria, and in some of the other States, will be that instead of a large proportion of good sound articles that will wear well being imported, there will be imported a large proportion of a very much inferior quality. Speaking from the experience of a pretty long lifetime, I hold that so far from my motion being antagonistic to the best interests of the consumer, it is directly the converse. If I spoke simply in the interests of importers, I should urge the committee to put on as high a duty as it liked, because the higher the duty the greater would be the profit to the importer.
– Can the honorable senator tell the difference between cotton tweeds and all wool tweeds.
– With a match I can tell instantly.
– Is that test ever applied ?
– Yes, often.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - I am very much interested to hear that it is a common thing for a customer to invite a draper, or a tailor, to allow him to burn his cloth to see if it is what it is described to be. That plan might suit a man who wished to have a fire on his premises and to get the insurance money, but itis not ordinarily done. Surely none but experts ever saw it done. Senator Sargood admits that, in order to discover whether an article was cotton, tweed, or all wool, he would have to apply a lighted match. Yet we are told that the great body of the consumers can tell if a vendor is trying to impose upon them cotton tweed. It has been said by Senator Sargood that cotton tweed will last longer than union tweed. It might be said that a pair of trousers made of galvanized iron would last very much longer than a pair of trousers made of cotton tweed. But surely the remark of the honorable senator cannot be taken seriously. It is not in the interest of the general consumers that they should be expected to use these cotton tweeds, which will prove deleterious to the health of the community. They are sold just as oleomargarine and butterine are sold as the genuine article. If these cotton tweeds are permitted to be introduced in large quantities, fewer people will be employed in the woollen mills, and the general community will consequently suffer. We should employ our own people to supply us with the genuine article, and should endeavour to shut out imitation products, which the importing industry wish to introduce into the Commonwealth. If our people use Australian woollen goods we shall build up a good market for the pure merino article, the death rate will be lowered, and the general health of the community will be improved.
Senator CHARLESTON” (South Australia). - I am quite convinced that if we allow these cotton tweeds to be imported on the terms suggested by Senator Sargood, a very great service will be done to our poorer people, who cannot afford to purchase woollen materials. What the)’ often want is an article which is both strong and cheap. These goods fulfil that requirement, being sold very much cheaper than woollen goods. If we impose a duty of 15 per cent. upon cotton tweeds, and only a duty of 25 per cent upon apparel, we may be quite sure that there will be a large importation of made-up shoddy goods. There are very few business places where customers are not told what the material is which they are buying. It would not pay a business man to defraud the public in the way some honorable senators think people are cheated. If a man purchased a material as wool, and discovered that it was cotton, he certainly would not buy at that shop again. I should like all our people to be able to wear those materials which are best for their health, but the question is whether we should impose such a duty as will allow these goods to come in as made-up clothing, very much inferior in quality to that which we should like to see our people wearing.
Senator STYLES (Victoria).- I wish to move that silks in piece, cut up into sizes and lengths for the manufacture of neckties, umbrellas and parasols, in bond under Customs regulations, shallbe admitted duty free. Under theVictorian Tariff these goods were admitted free, and it is necessary for the manufacturing business that the same should be made in the Federal Tariff.
– It would be a great mistake to adopt the suggestion of Senator Styles. We have already agreed to admit duty free umbrella sticks and handles, and fit-ups. We have thereby given away a considerable amount of revenue for the benefit of the manufacturers. We ought not to give them a greater benefit. If we do, how can we refuse a similar concession to persons who make up other goods, and who might just as fairly claim to have their raw materials imported duty free. No doubt, regulations can be made permitting the material to be cut up in bond, but it is almost impossible to prevent fraud.
Senator CHARLESTON (South Australia). - Before Senator Styles moves the motion which he has indicated, I have a proposal to make with regard to flannelettes. I move -
That the House o£ Representatives be requested to amend item 66 by adding to the duty “ Coatings, vestings, trouserings, n.e.i., flannels and flannelettes, aci valorem 15 per cent,” the words, “ and on and after 1st July, 1902, Flannelettes 5 per cent.”
Flannelettes are purely cotton goods, and I have been informed that it is almost impossible to distinguish between a certain grade of flannelettes and ordinary cotton piece goods. It will assist the Customshouse officers materially in the execution of their duty, as well as simplify the importing business, if flannelettes are placed upon the 5 per cent. list. It is unnecessary to enter into a long argument to show that they are purely cotton goods. No wool whatever is contained in them.. As the duty on cotton piece goods has been reduced from 15 per cent, to 5 per cent., it is only fair that flannelettes should be treated in the same way.
– I hope the suggestion of Senator Charleston will not be carried. The grounds on which I base my objections are two. In the first place flannelette is an imitation of flannel.
– Nothing of the kind.
– The honorable enator will pardon me for saying that he does not seem to recognise the difference between an expert; and an ordinary member of the public who has to buy these goods. There is no doubt that, as an expert, the honorable senator can say at once what is flannel and what is flannelette. But I have a sample of flannelette here which, to unskilled persons, would appear to be really a warmer, finer, and more pleasing article to wear than the flannel itself. No doubt thousands are deceived by the similarity. The name itself is calculated to deceive people. It suggests that, at all events, there is a little wool used in the flannelette, when, as a matter of fact, it is made wholly of cotton. It is a highly dangerous material to wear. It is particularly dangerous when worn by persons who may have to come in contact with kitchen or other fires, and especially when used, as it will be used, by persons who do not realize its inflammability. Why should it not pay as high a duty as that imposed on flannel 1 We ough t not to encourage the use of such imitations. If we are in earnest in our desire to secure the prosperity of our woollen industry, which is one of the greatest industries we can establish, because it affords a market for our chief product, we ought not to be particulary favorable to- a material such as this, which displaces our own woollens, deceives the people, and is dangerous to wear.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - I have no doubt that this motion, like the one that preceded it, has been moved in all seriousness, and I hope that, like the last, it will either be withdrawn or defeated. We have to consider our pastoralists and woollen manufacturers. Allowing for the drought, we will say that there are some 30,000,000 sheep in New South Wales, and there is scope there for a very fine industry. If this motion is carried, however, we shall interfere to a very great extent with industries in that State. I have a letter here from Messrs. J. Vicars and Co., woollen manufacturers, of New South Wales.
– They have worked without protection for years.
– But how have they worked 1 I remember going through their mills some years ago, and I found that in order to compete with the imported article under free-trade they were employing child labour for 12 hours a day at the most ridiculous wages. The firm were employing the widow of an engineer who was drowned in the wreck of the Lv-ee-moon, and her three children. The youngest was aged nine, while the other two were aged about eleven and thirteen years respectively. The smallest had to keep two or three machines, weighing some hundreds of tons; supplied with wool, and was receiving a wage of 2s. or 3s. a week, with Id. an hour for overtime. To the credit of the firm it must be said that they made an effort to remedy matters later on, and that they had great difficulty in keeping their mills going in the face of foreign competition. They say -
We think for all lines of woollen goods, a duty of 20 per cent, is only a fair amount ; in fact, this might be termed very moderate. The incidental protection which freight gives is almost nothing, as you can land goods from London for 7£ per cent. This includes freight and all charges. In woollen goods, of course we include blankets and flannels, and tweeds.
This motion is a blow at the .flannel industry. Senator Charleston apparently takes up the same position as Senator Sargood in desiring to supply the wage-earners and others with limited incomes with cheap flannelette. But flannelette is a death dealing commodity. The sample before Senator O’Connor would appear to nine out of ten honorable senators to be a most desirable article with which to clothe children. It is beautifully silken and soft, and apparently warmth-giving, whereas the contrary is the fact. Flannelette seems tome to attract the damp rather than to repel it as flannel does. No doubt thousands in the Commonwealth clothe their children with flannelette in the belief that it has all the properties of flannel, and they do so to the great detriment of the health of their children, and in some cases perhaps with fatal results. A great quantity of flannelette is used in Queensland, which’ is a warm country, and I can believe that during the summer months there is no danger attaching to its use, except when worn by persons who are likely to come into contact with fire. But we ought to encourage the use of woollen materials rather than flannelette. While we are on the subject of the death and disaster caused by the use. of flannelette, I desire honorable senators to listen while I read them the following poem on the subject : -
Flannelette. “The child was standing in front of the fire, when a spark set her flannelette night-gown ablaze. In spite of prompt assistance, the burns were so severe that, in a few hours, death put an end to her suffering.” - Any day, any paper.
Oh, there’s nothing like cremation
To reduce the population,
And the cheapest way to do it is to let
All the kids you don’t require
Stand around a blazing fire,
In their little night-gowns made of flannelette.
Flannelette ! Flannelette ! though it’s useless in the wet
And in winter time it keeps the kiddies cool ;
It’s so very cheap and clean, and it burns like kerosene,
Does the gaudy cotton stuff that “ wears like wool.”
There’s nothing now alarming
In the trade of baby-farming -
The police can never get you in their net ;
And they’ll have to beg your pardon
When they’ve dug up all your garden,
If you just cremate the kids in flannelette.
Cottonette! Cottonette! Oh! the “premiums” you may get,
If you’re careful how the little pets are dressed ;
You may advertise, “Kind lady will adopt a little baby “ -
And a roll offlannelette will do the rest.
Then a cheer for Federation,
With a larger importation
Of the stuff that’s “warm for children.” How they burn !
Send our wool-ships to that other land,
They call the “dear old Motherland,”
And take her cotton shoddy in return.
Flannelette ! Flannelette ! that’s the name for it, you bet !
And the law should have it stumped on every yard ;
It may save the shopman lying, and the little ones from frying,
And put all foolish mothers on their guard.
This poem appeared in the Sydney Bulletin of 16th November, 1901. In a humourous and satirical strain, it contains a very great deal of wisdom.The suggestion that every yard of flannelette should be. branded to show its true significance, is only in keeping with what is done in other countries in relation to various products, some of which are adulterated. Honorable senators know that in Germany and other places the ingredients of certain commodities sold to the general public have to be placed on the label. If we place flannelette on the 5 per cent. list, we should require it to be branded in a way that will show the public that it consists wholly of cotton. Some honorable senators seem to suggest that there is no truth in the statement which has been made as to the rapidity with which flannelette will burn. But the difference between the inflammability of flannelette and flannel was demonstrated to me this afternoon. Flannel will not burn unless a match is repeatedly applied to it, whereas flannelette, as soon as it comes in contact with a light flares up, as the poet says, “like kerosene.” According to the Drapers’ Record, of February 22nd -
No little stir has been caused in Manchester manufacturing circles by the announcement of theSunderland coroner that a Manchester firm had written him that a patent finish would shortly be brought out to render flannelette noninflammable.
The point is that the Sunderland coroner was holding an inquest, apparently, upon the death of some person who had been wearing this flannelette, and some one in the manufacturing circles had stated that a process had been invented by which flannelette might be rendered non-inflammable. That kind of thing is very much like the assurances of certain medical gentlemen, who tell people that there is no reason to fear the plague. Senator Charleston is welcome to all the support he can get from his announcement that some one has invented a process by which flannelette can be rendered non-inflammable. It is still the same fraud as cotton tweeds : still the same delusion and the same snare. I am surprised that the honorable senator, who has a record of good work in the amelioration of the condition of the poorer classes, should submit such a proposition. The cheaper the article is made, the more likely it is that the public will be imposed upon. Shopmen will find it to their interest to say that flannelette at 3d. per yard is quite equal to flannel at ls. and ls. 6d. per yard, and the unfortunate mother, who has. to pay the rent, and the butcher’s, grocer’s and baker’s bills out of 30s. a week, will say that if what the shopman says is true, she ought to purchase the flannelette. We need to protect people against their own want of knowledge and indiscretion in these matters, and now is the time to do it, by rejecting the proposition to make the duty upon flannelette only 5 per cent.
– If Senator Higgs were consistent in his advocacy of the increased duty as a means of keeping flannelette out of the Commonwealth, he would adopt a very different course. He would propose an absolutely prohibitory duty upon- it. His argument has been that it is undesirable to allow flannelette to be brought into the Commonwealth, because of the danger from fire to which those wearing it will be exposed : but the honorable senator might urge the same argument with equal force against the importation of all kinds of cotton goods, as I take it that all cotton goods are as inflammable as is flannelette. This article is sold as flannelette, and it is known that it does not contain wool ; people realize that at once by the difference in price. It is a mistake for honorable senators to labour, as they are doing, to increase the burdens upon the people, and while Senator Higgs pointed out a case of death due to a person wearing flannelette, he could find a number of other cases in which persons wearing prints and other kinds of cotton goods have been burnt, and his argument really means that none of these goods should be admitted into the Commonwealth. So far from that view having been adopted, we find that with the exception of woollen goods containing cotton, which may be included in the items, coatings, vestings, trouserings, and flannelettes, a difference of 10 per cent, in the duty is made between woollen goods and cotton goods.
– Nearly all these articles may be imitations of woollen goods.
– I admit that, and I admit that the committee have declined to make any alteration so far as these coatings, vestings, and trouserings are concerned ; but I do not think that should bind us in any way with regard to flannelette. Allusion has been made to the fact that a process has been invented by which flannelettes may be rendered no-inflammable; but I do not think that the mere fact of its being of an inflammable nature is sufficient to justify us in taking it out of the class of cotton goods, for which a low rate of duty has been expressly provided.
– I am sorry I cannot agree with Senator Gould upon this question. As a matter of fact what has been said about the danger of flannelettes, appears to have been thoroughly substantiated. To-day I received a deputation of ladies upon this question. I found that as regards the ordinary items of the Tariff, they were more or less indifferent as to what the rates of duty were though generally they would prefer to see them low, especially in the case of parasols and apparel ; but on this one matter of flannelette they took up the strongest position. They were anxious that, if possible, flannelette should be prohibited. I do not pretend to know much of the matter, but I was extremely .impressed by the fact that ladies who have to buy it, and whose children are often clothed in it, should hold such a strong opinion upon the subject. I challenge the statement made by Senator Gould just now that cotton goods are just as inflammable as flannelette. I think the honorable and learned senator is wrong, and I challenge him to a practical exhibition of the dangerous nature of flannelettes. I have a strip of flannelette here, which I ask. the honorable senator to hold while I” put a lighted match to it, and I shall be prepared to hold a piece of undressed cotton goods while Senator Gould applies a match to it.
– I will light a match if the honorable senator will hold the flannelette.
– It is evident that Senator Gould is not prepared to stand by his opinion. I may say that I have tried the experiment myself, and it is perfectly correct that the instant a spark falls upon flannelette a flame spreads completely over the surface of the cloth. It does not immediately burn the texture, but the whole of the surface which has been combed out is burnt, and in a moment or two the cotton foundation burns also. I think the committee should be extremely careful about encouraging the introduction of this dangerous material into the Commonwealth.
– I have in my hand a copy of the Drapers’ Record, which says that flannelettes are now being made non-inflammable. After having been subjected toafinishingprocess invented by a professor of Owen’s College, specimens of flannelette have been very severely tested by merchants and those directly interested in the trade, and it has been made quite clear that this material may be rendered non-inflammable. It is said that the process may be applied to all qualities of flannelette, that it does not destroy’ the soft warm feel, which is a leading characteristic of the material, and that it enables it to resist fire before washing, and even after it has been washed over and over again.
– Is thatan advertisement?
– I take that from a report of a meeting held in the board-room of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, on the 10th April last, at which flannelette prepared by this process was subjected to various tests. A red-hot cinder thrown upon it burnt a hole through the cloth, but caused no flash. A lighted match applied to the goods would hardly cause them to light at all, and if they did light they went out directly, while if held near a hot fire they did not ignite. I need not go into further detail, but it is clear that flannelette can now be prepared in such a way as to be rendered noninflammable. I had a sample of a piece of cotton goods sent to me. The same class of goods was allowed to come in as cotton piece-goods with a duty of 5 per cent. by the Customhouse authorities. The importers ordered a new consignment, with the result that when they arrived at Port Adelaide the collector of Customs decided that the goods which he had previously passed as cotton piece-goods were flannelette, and subject to a duty of 15 per cent. Honorable senators will see that the importer had in that case to pay 10 per cent. more for his goods than he anticipated he would have to pay when he sent the order home. A collector at one port may admit goods as cotton piece-goods, at a duty of 5 per cent., while a collector at another may decide that the same quality of goods are flannelette, and subject to a duty of 15 per cent., and honorable senators must see how unfair that is to persons trading in this material. That should in itself justify support for my motion. As no one pretends that this article is anything else but cotton, and no house; wife is deceived into believing that it is wool, it should be admitted as what it is - cotton goods. I ask honorable senators what the poor people are to do. They are extremely anxious, apparently, that our people should be clothed only in woollen goods, and yet they impose a duty of 15 per cent. upon the material with which they say people should be clothed. The duty of 1 5 per cent. makes flannel too expensive for many of the poorer people, and if they are to be obliged by the imposition of a similar duty upon flannelette to pay a higher price for that material, they will be driven to the use of other cotton materials for clothing. What is really wanted is an honorable senator to stand up on behalf of the great masses who are unable to clothe themselves in flannel. They are now prevented by a high duty from purchasing flannelette and they will be forced to wear that which is even less comfortable- the pure cotton goods without the warm feel that flannelette has. If we put a duty of 15 per cent. on flannelette and allow piece-goods to come in at a duty of 5 per cent. there will always be a tendency on the part of the Customs officers to charge the higher duty. A collector or landing waiter in one place may decide differently from a collector or landing waiter in another place, and in that way very great injustice may be clone. Surely we do not frame a Tariff in order to cause great inconvenience to traders? It should be framed with the view of giving as little trouble and inconvenience as possible to traders. If we subject cotton goods to a duty of 5 per cent. or 10 per cent., it does not matter whether an article is called cotton piece goods or flannelette. It will simplify the work of the Customs officers, and remove a great deal of the friction that now prevails. Undoubtedly, if we adopt that course, flannelette will be made so that it will be non-inflammable.
Senator EWING (Western Australia).I do not think that the Government have offered an answer to the contention of Senator Charleston. Their proposal was to subject cotton goods to a duty of 5 per cent., and they deliberately take out of that category an article which is extensively used, and make it liable to a duty of 15 per cent. It is argued that the Customs officers cannot tell flannelette from flannel, and to illustrate that argument the Government have brought here a piece of flannelette and a piece of flannel ; but they have shown conclusively that the most stupid officer could not be confused by the two articles. We have heard a great deal about the inflammability of flannelette. If the article is dangerous it is a subject for prohibition. The mere fact of imposing a higher duty will not make it any more or any less inflammable, and I have yet to learn that it is any more inflammable than are ordinary cotton “goods. We have heard a doleful dirge from Senator Higgs about the awful consequences of the new method of baby-farming - of rolling up children in flannelette, and setting fire to it. If people wish to burn children there are many materials which might be used in that way. This bogy of inflammability is merely introduced as an indirect method of putting a heavier duty on an article of very general consumption. Therefore, I shall vote with Senator Charleston.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 66 by adding to the duty - “ Coatings, vestings, trouserings, n.e.i., flannels and flannelettes, ad valorem, 15 per cent.,” the words “and on and after 1st July, 1902, flannelettes, 5 per cent.” - put. The Committee divided -
Ayes … … … 8
Noes … … … 11
Majority … … 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Motion (by Senator Styles) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 66 by adding to the special exemptions, “ On and after 1st July, 1002, Silks in piece, cut up into sizes or lengths, for neckties, umbrellas, and parasols, under Customs regulations.”
– My honorable friend has already stated his reasons for submitting this proposal. I cannot accept his suggestion, and I have already explained the reasons why I cannot.
– If Senator Styles intends to press his motion to a division, I would suggest to him that he should separately submit the articles which it comprises. To my mind there is a very great difference between the silks used in making ties and the silks used in manufacturing umbrellas. In the latter case silks are used that are mixed with cotton as well as other things. I think that a difference should be made between the duty on such silks and the duty on pure silk that is put into the best umbrellas. I believe that the inferior class of material was duty free under the Victorian Tariff. It is put into the cheapest umbrellas. It is 36 inches wide, and is invoiced at about 7¼d. per yard. I am in favour of making duty free black and brownsilks that are mixed with cotton, and are used in the manufacture of the commoner class of umbrellas. But I am not in favour of allowing silks that are used in the manufacture of the better class of umbrellas tocome in duty free. If my honorable friend does not see his way to submit his proposal in parts, I shall feel inclined to vote against it.
– I cannot see how I can deal with the silks separately. If my honorable friend’s suggestion were followed, we should have so many subdivisions by-and-by that we should hardly know where we were.
Senator McGREGOR (South Australia). I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 66 by adding to the special exemptions “ On and after 1st July, 1903, Prunella.”
This proposal ought to win the sympathy of almost every honorable senator. Prunella is only used in the manufacture of the cheapest kind of boots and slippers for women, particularly poor old women who cannot afford to buy expensive articles. The goods which are made out of this material are sold at from ls.11d. to 3s. 6d. per pair. There are many old ladies in the humbler classes who find it impossible to wear boots or slippers made of a stronger material. It may be said that if we place an article of this kind on the free list it will lead to a great deal of fraud, but I can assure honorable senators that there is very little of it imported. It would come under the head of woollen piece-goods, because it contains a certain amount of wool or shoddy of some description, and consequently it would bear a 15 per cent. duty. If it were even classed as cotton piece-goods, subject to a 5 per cent. duty, it would not be so severe upon these poor old people. I hope honorable senators, when they know of these facts, which can easily be verified, will support my proposal. The manufacturers of these goods are not wealthy men, but are usually carrying on small, struggling industries, and their goods are of great benefit to those people who use them. If it can be shown to be necessary for the prevention of fraud to insert in the suggestion some such words as “for the purposes of themanufacture of boots,” I shall be willing to consent to such an alteration, but I do not think it is necessary.
– The difficulty about accepting Senator McGregor’s proposal is that there are a number of articles which are used for the same purpose which would also have to be admitted free. Prunella is not leather. Leather itself has to pay a duty of 15 per cent. Instead of prunella, kid is often used ; and it seems to me that if we admit prunella duty free, other goods which are used for the same purpose must also be admitted free. I cannot consent to the motion.
– It is very interesting to find Senator McGregor making a proposal of this kind. After the vote he has just given, surely he ought to insist on the poor old woman, on behalf of whom he pleads, wearing woollen goods instead of mixtures of wool and cotton. I am surprised to find a man holding Senator McGregor’s principles advocating that poor old women should use such a cold material as cotton in a country where we grow so much wool. When he last voted he must have forgotten that he intended to advocate making prunella duty free. He is asking too much altogether.
– I desire to call attention to the unfairness with which this item is being administered by the Customs department. Honorable senators will notice that galloons are taxed at 15 per cent. Since 20th December, under an order issued by the Minister, galloons, “ in sizes up to 1½ inches in width, plain colours,” have been placed on the free list. Those galloons are used solely for mens’ and boys’ hats, but the galloons which are used for womens’ and childrens’ hats the Minister has refused to admit duty free, although the difference in width between the two classes of article is only from¼ to½ an inch. The matter has been brought before the Minister, and he has declined to place both articles upon the same footing. I claim that if one class of galloons is admitted free the other should be treated in the same manner. Personally, I confess that my view would be that neither should be admitted free, because the effect would be that, these goods being to all intents and purposes ribbons, galloons would be imported as ribbons, and would escape payment of duty. That would be unfair to those firms who honestly pay duty at 15 per cent. upon their ribbons. I am perfectly aware that this is not a matter concerning which I can very well move an amendment, but I feel justified in calling attention to the unfair and unequal way in which the Customs department is being administered in respect of the item. Since the 20th December the manufacturers of one class of goods have had their galloons duty free, whilst the same concession has been refused to others.
– That must be a mistake.
– It is not a mistake at all. Six of the largest firms have applied to the Minister to admit other, galloons free, and he has decided that he cannot grant the concession. I have been requested by the trade to call attention to the subject in the Senate, and I think honorable senators must agree with me that what I have referred to is a monstrous administration of the Customs Act. I should move that the whole of these galloons be exempt from duty, but honestly I cannot do so, because I feel that it would be a mistake. The proper plan is to charge duty upon the whole of them.
– None of them are on the exemption list according to the Tariff.
– (No; but according to a provision at the end of the Bill the honorable senator will see that “ minor articles used in manufacturing “ may be admitted free by regulation. Under a regulation made in accordance with that provision, it is perfectly legal for the Minister to permit galloons to be .admitted free, and accordingly galloons up to 11- inches in width have been admitted free since the 20th December. But what I complain of is that those which are half an inch wider have to pay duty. That is unfair, and I am quite, sure that Parliament never intended that the Customs Tariff should be administered in such a manner.
– I think the honorable senator will realize that this is not the place in which questions of this kind should be settled, and I might perhaps have objected on the ground of order to the references made to it. But I did not do so, because I prefer to state what the facts really are. On the last page of the Tariff Bill there is a provision under the heading of special exemptions to the effect that -
Minor articles to be specified in departmental by-laws for use in the manufacture of goods within the Commonwealth, - may be admitted free. Under that provision, the Minister placed upon the free list “galloons up to 1-J- inches in width, plain colours.” Those galloons are a kind of band used for binding hats. They are used in the manufacture of felt hats.
– I assure the honorable senator that he is wrong.
– I cannot help the honorable senator’s assurance ; I know I am right. I have ascertained what has been done. I admit that the honorable senator is an expert, but that does not make any difference to the facts. The galloons which have been admitted duty free are used in the binding of felt hats, and they are up to li inches in width. The galloons that the honorable senator speaks about are wider than that, and are used for the- purpose of putting round straw hats, and not for binding.
– The galloon 1 told in my hand was taken from a hat.
– I am stating what the real facts are. -
– It is evident that the honorable and learned senator’s facts are wrong.
– Galloons such as this may be found on dozens of hats.
– What the Minister did was to put in the exemption list galloons used for the purpose of binding felt hats, and they are the articles which are being admitted duty free.
– There is nothing about binding in the departmental order.
– The order reads- “Galloons, hat, up to li inches in width, plain colours.”
These as I have explained are simply used for binding hats, whilst the other galloons are hat bands, which are used for putting round straw hats, after the manufactured hat is practically complete. Galloons used for putting round hats in that way are in exactly the same position as other galloons.
Senator Sir FREDERICK SARGOOD (Victoria). - I am sorry to have to take exception to the statement the honorable and learned senator has made. Of course, he has only told us what has been conveyed to him. But I affirm that the ribbons which have been admitted duty free since the 20th December, being l§ inches in width and under, can be used for other purposes than binding hats. Whatever may have been the intention, the operation of the by-law is unfair. There is no references in the departmental order to the galloons being used for binding purposes.
– A man can demand that a galloon of that width shall be admitted free.
– It has been done ; whereas galloons half an inch wider are taxed. I say that that is not right, and was never intended by Parliament.
– If it is necessary to make any addition to the by-law in order to make it clearer; or if it is found to work unjustly, the matter will be remedied.
– They have refused to remedy it.
– I do not know whether the honorable senator has brought the matter under the’ notice of the Customhouse authorities.
– I have.
– The honorable senator will find that these galloons are admitted, as I have said, for binding purposes. Of course, the narrow galloons are put round felt hats, and also used for binding purposes, but the wide ones are put round straw hats.
The ACTING CHAIRMAN (Senator Dobson). - There is no motion before the Chair.
– With a view of putting myself in order, I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 06 by adding to the special exemptions “On and after 1st July, 1902, Galloons, not exceeding 2 inches in width, and of plain colours.”
At the end of the Tariff there is a clause which gives the Minister for Trade and Customs power to place on the free list what are called “ minor “ articles. That power has not yet been granted to the Minister, but under it he can from time to time place upon the free list articles which we expect to be subjected to duty. I move this motion, not because I am specially anxious in regard to galloons, but that the committee may consider the position, not only iti regard to this item, but in relation to the whole question of Customs administration. It is very undesirable that there should be a clause in the Tariff under which a Minister-
– On a point of order, I submit that the honorable senator has no right, under cover of the motion, to deal with the whole question of Customs administration.
– I submit that it is perfectly competent for the honorable senator to allude to the actions of the Minister for Trade and Customs, as well as to give his reasons for moving that galloons of the size named should be placed on the list of exemptions.
– It seems to me that the honorable senator is perfectly light in referring to the power given to the Minister as a reason why these items should be placed on the exemption list, and the objection comes with verv bad grace from the “Vice-President of the Executive Council, who has certainly received, and rightly so, a degree of latitude which has astounded honorable senators more than once.
The ACTING CHAIRMAN.- It is clear that the honorable senator cannot criticise the general administration of the Customs department, but it is equally clear that he can criticise the decision of the department on the item which is the purport of his motion.
– Nothing was further from my wish than, to criticise the general administration of the department, A very peculiar position will arise if, when we come to the last page of the schedule, the committee sees fit to eliminate the provision, which ‘reads -
Minor articles to be specified in departmental by-laws for use in the manufacture of goods’ within the Commonwealth may be made free. If that provision is eliminated the by-laws which have been issued under it by the Customs department will be null and void. Therefore it will be a convenience to the Customs authorities as well as to the various trades, if we name in the body of the Tariff articles which, in our opinion, should be on the free list. For that reason I strongly urge the acceptance of the motion. I move it purely as a protest against the system by which the Minister for Trade and Customs, or the collector, takes upon himself the right to vary duties, which Parliament in its wisdom, liasdecided shall be collected.’ The power which the Minister claims under the clause referred to might be worked by one who was not a very judicious Minister, so as to bring about a great deal of trouble. I am certain that the present Minister for Trade and Customs is a man who will do his best, but we might have another occupant of the office who would be’ less careful and less honest, and under a clause, such as we have here, . a regulation might be issued that certain cloth up to a yard wide might be admitted free, Under the provision at the end of the schedule the Government have taken to themselves the power to make galloons of certain widths free of duty, notwithstanding that they are included in item 66 as subject to a duty of 15 per cent. The Government may say that up to a certain width these galloons are “ minor “ articles, but it rests with them wholly to decide what is a “ minor” article. It is clear that the interpretation of the word “minor” would vary in the hands of different Ministers and administrators of the Customs-house. If we were to ask the sub-collectors in the ports of Australia what width, in their opinion, should be admitted free, no doubt they would all vary in their recommendations. Therefore, for the safety of the revenue and for the prudent administration of customs laws, the committee ought to say what should be the width of galloons which are to enter free.
– I hope that the committee will not accept this motion. On what principle is the Tariff to be dealt with if we are to place things on the free-list merely, as Senator Pulsford has put it, as a protest against the way in which the Minister for Trade and Customs is interpreting the power given to him in the latter part of the schedule. Surely we are not going to affect the revenue and permanently affect industries simply because an honorable senator wishes to make a protest 1 If any reason can be given for this motion let us hear it.
– I have given it. I said that if we do not carry the clause to which I have referred galloons of all widths will be liable to pay duty, and if galloons of the width I mention are put on the free list now, whatever happens to the clause at the end of the Bill they will be exempt from duty.
– That is quite true. In order to found his argument the honorable senator assumes first of all that a particular power will not be given to the Minister, but according to the whole framework of the Tariff, that is an absolutely necessary power, and we cannot do without it without doing the gravest injustice. Senator Pulsford has founded his motion in reality upon what has been done already, with galloons placed upon the free list. Those are galloons not exceeding one and a half inches in width, and they include the bulk of the galloons used for the purpose of binding felt hats. If the width of galloons to be placed on the free list is extended to two inches, they will include the great bulk of the bands which are used to put round hats. . These galloons may be made of silk, and upon what possible ground is the Commonwealth to be deprived of revenue from importations of these particular kinds . of silk? It does seem to me to be trifling with the framing of a Tariff to ask the committee to put these galloons upon the free list, because some honorable senators are not satisfied with some piece of administration by the Minister for Trade and Customs. I hope the committee will reject the motion.
– Senator O’Connor is very clever in misinterpreting the sentiments of honorable senators. I submit that this motion, is a perfectly intelligible one. We have been informed by Senator Sargood, and it is admitted, that the Minister for Trade and Customs in the autocratic exercise of his will has made certain galloons free, and Senator Pulsford desired that galloons of a slightly greater width should also be made free. Senator O’Connor, without attempting any argument against the motion, pours vials of vitriolic ridicule upon Senator Pulsford. Senator McGregor who has taken up a great deal of the time of the committee in connexion with prunella, and upon a suggestion for which he must have known he could not secure a single vote, objects to this reasonable proposal. It must be remembered that this will validate a most high-handed action on the part of the Minister for Trade and Customs, and on that ground it should meet with the approval of the committee.
– It is a great pity that honorable senators, who began the consideration of this schedule with something like organization, should become demoralized as they appear to have become now. I suppose it is because their leader is away. I object to this motion, because I think it is not our duty to suggest amendments of this kind. If we all do as some honorable senators are doing, the Tariff will not be through for the next three years, because this schedule comprises some. 1,250 items. If those who are taking up so much of our time would be more reasonable, we should get on with the work more expeditiously.
Senator Sir FREDERICK SARGOOD (“Victoria). - I suggest that Senator Pulsford should withdraw the motion. ‘ I refrained from moving any motion ,of the kind, although I consider the continuance of the method of administration adopted in connexion with this item as not desirable in fairness to all the persons interested.
Senator PULSFORD (New South Wales). - I have no desire to take up the time of the committee by pressing the motion, however desirable it may be in the interests of the Tariff, and of the good repute of Ministers themselves. If Senator O’Connor is not willing to accept my good offices in improving the Tariff, on his own head be the blame.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 66 by adding to the special exemptions “ on and after 1st July, 1902, Piece goods, cottons, and linens.”
At present the duty imposed upon these goods is 5 per cent. ad valorem, and as by no stretch of imagination can this be considered a protective duty, or anything but a revenueproducing duty, I think it right that these goods should be placed upon the free list. I am opposed to all kinds of revenue duties, and as in this case the duty is imposed upon articles which are used chiefly by the poorer section of the community, I cannot support it. I cannot understand the burst-up in the free-trade party, which seems to have become thoroughly demoralized. I should have expected them to stand by their colours and their principles, even though their leader is absent.
– This motion involves a very large amount of revenue. We have made every endeavour possible to bring down the duty upon cotton piecegoods to the lowest point compatible with the production of revenue. These are goods upon which revenue will be collected in all the States, and it is absolutely essential that it should be collected. After a great deal of consideration, and after looking at the matter from every point of view, it has been considered that 5 per cent., which is not a large impost upon those who have to buy these goods, is the lowest duty that will be of any value for the collection of revenue. It is expected that under this duty no less than £150,000 will be collected upon the importations of these goods during the year. In the state of our finances it is absolutely impossible to give up that amount of revenue.
– Senator De Largie has made some allusion to the fact that the party on this sidehas not taken this matter in hand. But, whatever our opinions may be upon strict free-trade lines, honorable senators on this side recognise the fact that the Tariff must produce a considerable amount of revenue ; and when we find that duties such as this will produce revenue without doing any injury to the people at large, we do not feel justified in proposing to throw that revenue awayin the manner suggested by the honorable senator. Senator O’Connor has pointed out that this one item is estimated to yield a revenue of about £150,000. I presume that on the three following items a proportionately large amount of revenue will be raised. We might very well adhere to the duty of 5 per cent. which was adopted as a compromise in another place. Speaking for myself, and for honorable senators sitting on this side, it is not our intention to interfere with that which we regard purely as a revenue duty, and which it is absolutely necessary to retain in the interests of the Commonwealth.
– I would point out to Senator De Largie that this is certainly not a protective duty. We hope in time to grow cotton and manufacture piece goods. For years in Queensland we have been hoping for the imposition of a higher protective duty to enable us to carry on this industry with some degree of success. It would be a great pity if this compromise were disturbed. In Queensland, a duty of 5 per cent. yields nearly £18,000 a year. We cannot afford to do without that revenue. I am very sorry that the duty is not higher than 5 percent., not because I wish to impose high burdens on the people, but because I am anxious to promote the welfare of my own State, where we grow cotton in large quantities, but where, from the want of a high duty, we have not been able to manufacture cotton goods to any extent. The only cotton mill we have is standing idle in consequence of the low duty we have had. I hope that Senator De Largie will not press his motion to a division.
– I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the special exemption to item 66. “ Hair cloth and hop cloth,” by inserting before the word “ Hair “ the word “ Horse.”
The cloth that was intended to be put on the free list was horse-hair cloth, which is used for covering furniture, and for other purposes. There is some other cloth which is made of hair - for instance, goat’s-hair. A question has been raised as to whether it ought to be admitted free, and in order to remove any doubt I ask the committee to agree to this suggestion.
Senator PULSFORD (New South Wales).- A little while ago I received a letter from a firm who are anxious to have it made clear that camel-hair cloth is duty free. I concluded that the term, “ haircloth,” would cover camel-hair cloth, and that it was not necessary for me to submit a motion. I ask Senator O’Connor to include in his motion camel-hair cloth, which is used in the production of cotton, linseed, and other oils.
– It makes first-class cloth. I had a suit of clothes made from it.
– I shall be content if Senator O’Connor will agree to insert in his motion the words “ camel-hair cloth for press wrappers.” I do not think there is much fear of camel-hair cloth becoming a fashionable article of attire, any more than horse-hair is.
– I can assure Senator Pulsford that the cloth which is made of camel-hair is the softest cloth one can get. In the Himalaya mountains this cloth can be bought in any quantity. I purchased some there and I had a suit of clothes made of it.
– I cannot consent to the suggestion of Senator Pulsford, because it must be apparent that there would be a great danger of letting in articles which had no right to come in free.
Senator PULSFORD (New South Wales). - I confess that I have something yet to learn. I was not aware that camel-hair cloth was used in the production of clothing. I do not think that there is much danger of it being used for that purpose, nor do I think there is any danger of revenue being lost by putting it- on the free list. I very much doubt whether I could get a yard of camel-hair cloth at any place in Australia. If I had the pleasure of going up the Himalaya Mountains, as Senator Baker has had, I might be able to get some.
Motion agreed to.
Motion (by Senator Pulsford) negatived.
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the special exemption to item 66, “Horse-hair cloth and hop cloth,” by adding the words “ also camel-hair cloth for press wrappers.”
– I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the special exemption to item 66, “ Canvas, duck, hessians, and brattice cloth,” by omitting the word “Canvas,” and inserting in lieu thereof the words “Tent and sail canvas and.”
This exemption appears out of its premer place. It ought really to have been put opposite to item 69.
– Why not leave it until we get down to that item ?
– Because I do not wish the exemption opposite to item 66 to be passed without suggesting an alteration in its wording. The amendment I ask the committee to suggest is necessary in order to make it quite clear that the kind of duck which is made free is- that which is used in connexion with tent and sail making.
– I deplore the change of front on the part of the Vice-President of the Executive Council. I do not know where we shall get ‘ to if, in addition to the amounts proposed by the Opposition, Senator O’Connor himself suggests alterations in this sacred document ! Apart from that, I do. not know that any reason has been given for the change pro- posed. What is the object of it, and what is to become of the revenue to be derived from the item 1 Does the proposal largely extend the amount of the exemptions ?
– It does not extend them at all.
– Does it contract them ?
– Then I am entirely with Senator O’Connor.
Motion agreed to.
Postponed item 58 -
Apparel and Attire and Articles n.e.i. - Woollen or silk, or containing wool or silk, partly or wholly made up (not being piece goods), including articles cut into shape, ad valorem, 25 per cent.
Not containing wool or silk, partly or wholly made up (not being piece goods), including articles cut into shape, and dressed feathers, ad valorem, 25 per cent.
Senator Major GOULD (New South Wales). - This item was postponed in order that we might first discuss the duties on piece-goods. Although an attempt was made to reduce the duties on piece goods somewhat, it was unsuccessful; and now that we have come to apparel and attire, I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 58 by adding to the duty “Apparel and attire, and articles, n.e.i., woollen or silk …. ad valorem 25 per cent.,” the words “ and on and after 1st Jul)-, 1902, 20 per cent.”
The duty on piece goods as now proposed is 15 per cent. I find that when the Tariff was first submitted in the House of Representatives, while it was proposed to charge a duty of 25 per cent. upon apparel and attire, it was also proposed to charge 20 percent. on piece-goods, so as to leave a margin of 5 per cent. between the two. During the discussion, as we are aware, the duties upon piece-goods were reduced to 15 per cent., but the duty upon apparel was left at 25 per cent. I propose to ask for a reduction of the duty to 20 per cent., which will still give a clear margin of 5 per cent. between piece-goods and apparel. That will be quite sufficient, and will afford an ample protection to the clothing manufacturers, whether in Victoria or New South Wales. In New South Wales, where there was no duty whatever for the benefit of the manufacturers of clothing, they have, nevertheless, beenenabled to manufacture over 75 percent. of the clothing required in that State; showing clearly that no duty was required to enable the industry to be carried on. What was done in New South Wales I am loth to believe cannot be done in the other States, more especially as the clothing manufacturers now have a free market from one end of Australia to another. Of course, honorable senators who represent Victoria will regard my proposal as involving rather a serious alteration, but I feel quite confident that the protection would be ample to enable the clothing manufacturers of Victoria to carry on the work which they have conducted for so many years. The wages in New South Wales have been quite as good as the wages paid in Victoria. The incidental protection that is given by distance and freight, plus the margin of 5 per cent. which I propose, will extend to the manufacturers generous treatment. We have to consider the whole of the States of the Commonwealth, and ought not to take the highest duties levied in one State as a model upon which to frame a Commonwealth Tariff. When the question of the formation of the Commonwealth was being discussed we were promised that the principal object of the Tariff would be revenue, although it was said that there would be no destruction of industries. What I propose will not destroy industries as is shown by the fact that the clothing industry of New South Wales has been enabled to carry on very well with the incidental or natural protection given to it by the distance of the market from the old world. But revenue is of much more importance in the smaller States than the protective consideration. The amount of revenue the Government estimate to receive under this item is £136,750 per annum, and from apparel and attire not containing wool or silk they expect to receive a revenue of £72,600, making in all £209,350. That revenue with a 25 per cent. duty would represent an importation of apparel to the value of £ 837,400. If we turn to the figures for New South Wales, we find that the value of importations of clothing during the year 1900 was £1,261,236. Of that amount the other States of the Commonwealth supplied goods to the value of £156,578, leaving a net import from abroad of upwards of £1,000,000 worth of goods, which is a larger amount than is expected to come into the whole Commonwealth during a normal year. I find that in Victoria, even under a duty of 35 per cent., goods to the value of . £227,000 were imported during the same year. Honorable senators will therefore see that if this Tariff is to have the effect anticipated by the Government it will materially reduce the imports into the States. I have no doubt that in Victoria there would have been a larger importation if the duty had been lower.
– In Queensland, with a duty of 25 per cent., we imported to the value of £36,000 per year.
– But my honorable friend will realize that now that we have absolute free-trade between the States of the Commonwealth, the large manufacturing firms carrying on business in Victoria and New South Wales will send the largest quantities of apparel into Queensland.
– Certainly not : we can compete against any State in the Union in this matter.
– If the honorable senator will turn to the statistics, he will find that under a 25 per cent. duty in Queensland the greater quantity of clothing imported came from Victoria, and possibly from New South Wales. I submit, therefore, that the effect of a higher duty will be that the revenue will be considerably decreased. We must bear that matter in mind when we are dealing with an item of this character. If we pass a duty of 25 per cent, it will mean that by the time that the article reaches the consumer something like 35 per cent, will have been added to its original cost. Where £1 would purchase certain goods for a man under a free-trade Tariff, it would cost 26s. Sd. to purchase the same goods under the item as it stands. It will thus be seen that the item proposes materially to increase the burdens which the people will have to bear. Like tea and flour, and articles of that kind, clothing is an absolute necessity. The whole community have to clothe themselves, and the way in which they are able to clothe themselves is dependent upon the prices that they are called upon to pay for the articles they wear. Probably the effect of the duty will be that importations of goods of an inferior character to what they would otherwise be will take place, because with the higher duty and the desire not to increase prices more than possible, persons will import materials of a less valuable quality. It has been pointed out by Senator Sargood, who has a greater knowledge of these matters than any other honorable senator, that the effect of higher duties has been to reduce the quality of the goods which are supplied to the people. It has been pointed out also that in free-trade New South Wales a better class of goods has been imported and demanded than has been called for or demanded in the protected State of Victoria. In view of all these reasons, I think that the motion is a very reasonable one. We are not seeking to cut down the duty to such an extent as to place manufacturers of apparel here upon a freetrade basis. We are allowing them a 5 per cent, margin, which I contend the Government originally thought was ample protection. With all the knowledge which we have in regard to this item, it is only reasonable that we should cut down the duty by 5 per cent. Even if that reduction is made, the duty will be quite heavy enough for the people to bear. A tax of this kind does not fall so heavily upon the wealthy as upon the middle classes and those who are not so well off. If a man has a large income, he can afford to pay for his clothing a sum considerably in excess of that paid by a poorer individual, and the man who is working for a wage of £2, £3, or £4 a week, will find that every penny of duty that we impose beyond what is absolutely necessary, is a severe burden, and an unjust tax upon him.
– This motion involves an important consideration - important from the point of view of revenue, and more important from the point of view of the protective incidence of the duty. The honorable and learned senator has said that the original proposal of the Government was that there should be only 5 per cent, protection. That is not quite accurate. In regard to a portion of the item, that was so, but in regard to a very large portion of it the protection was 10 per cent. We have to look at this matter now from the point of view of the proper co-relation of all these different items. This apparel may be manufactured out of material made here, in which case, of. course, there is no duty. That would apply only to the woollen material. It would not apply to silk, cotton, or any mixtures of those articles. I hope that there’ may be a time not very far distant when we shall be able to supply direct all the material that we require for the purpose of woollen manufactures. No doubt for a long time to come we shall not be able to manufacture a portion of the woollen material here. In regard to that portion the 15 per cent, duty will apply. But in” regard to all manufactures of silk, so far as we can see, this duty of 15 per cent, will apply for many years to come. Therefore, in the case of imported woollen goods there will be a protection of only 10 per cent., and ki regard to silk goods a protection of 10 per cent. Ten per cent, is certainly not too much to allow for protection in an industry of this. kind. Senator Gould has referred to the question of revenue. It appears to me that we shall receive a very large amount of revenue from this duty. It was estimated that a sum of £136,750 would be collected upon the proposed duty of 25 per cent, on silks and woollens - that is to say, under the item which we are dealing with now. For the six months ending March last, all apparel ‘consisting of silk, woollen, or cotton, yielded a revenue of £250,000 odd. That is at the rate of £500,000 a. year. But, taking the proportion between the two, about three-fourths of that, on the Government estimate, would be in respect of the duty on woollen and silk goods. That would bring up the total amount of revenue which is anticipated from this source to something like £300,000 a year. Thus, on a duty of 25 per cent., a very fair amount of revenue has been collected. But we are not dealing only with the revenue side of the question. The item embraces articles of very general consumption, which have to be looked at from the point of view of protection, as well as that of revenue, and we have to find out, if possible, what is the rate of duty which will strike the happy mean, and give us the greatest possible amount of revenue consistent with reasonable protection. What will be a reasonable amount of protection to afford, may fairly be gathered from the opinions of those in the industry, and from the protection which has existed hitherto. We find that in “Victoria there was a protection of 35 per cent. ; in Queensland a protection of 25 per cent. ; and in South Australia a protection of 25 per cent. in relation to some articles, and 20 per cent., 15 per cent., and 10 per cent., in relation to others. In Tasmania there was an all-round duty of 20 per cent. In Western Australia where the duty was a revenue one, it was only 15 per cent., and in New Zealand the duty ranges from 20 to 40 per cent. In New South Wales there was no duty.
– So that there was an average of 20 per cent. for thewhole of the States.
– That is an utterly fallacious way of making the calculation. The honorable and learned senator will see at once that if, under a protective Tariff in Queensland, 25 per cent. was considered to be only a fair duty, while in New South Wales there was no duty at all. It cannot bo said because of that, that a protective duty would be the average between the two. It altogether depends upon the purpose forwhich, the duty is imposed.
– If the Tariff is an honest compromise, as has been stated, the average could be reckoned on that basis.
– It would be an absolutely absurd and fallacious basis. We should be dealing on the one hand withprotective duties established to protect a trade, and on the other with no duties at all. We might establish an average between the two for certain purposes, but not for a purpose of this kind. A protection of 10 per cent. is quite low enough, and that is what will be given in the great bulk of cases. There are other matters with which I shall not deal now, but with which I shall be prepared to deal, should questions be raised during the debate. The duty proposed by the Government is the lowest that will give anything like a fair protection, and it should be assented to.
Senate adjourned at 10.31 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 18 June 1902, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1902/19020618_senate_1_10/>.