1st Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council upon notice -
– The Government know nothing of the matter beyond what appears in the. newspapers, and do not think it necessary to take any action.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– It is the case, under a tender let by the State Government of Queensland. No complaints have been received, but inquiries are being made.
Ordered (on motion by Senator Clemons) -
That there be laid upon the table of the Senate a return showing -
. The number of days on which officers in the Department of Trade and Customs in the State of Tasmania have worked overtime.
The number of hours of such overtime.
The names of the officers so over-worked.
Ordered (on motion by Senator Stewart) -
That there be laid upon the table of the Senate copies of all correspondence and other documents having reference to the additional subsidy granted to Burns,Philp, and Co. in connexion with the mail service to the New Hebrides.
– The officers of the Hansard staff inform me that it is impossible for them to get pairs correctly if they have not some official document to refer to, and, therefore, they have asked me to state that in future they will insert in Hansard only the pairs entered in the pair book, A mistake occurred lately in consequence of honorable senators making statements to the reporters, who were busy with other matters.
– It would be a more convenient practice, sir, if the system followed in Queensland were adopted. There the members write on a circular the item on which they pair. Under that system there is no confusion, because a circular records each transaction.
– I know nothing about the practice in Queensland, but it seems to me that if there is a pair book, and honorable senators wish their pairs to be recorded, they should take the trouble to enter the pairs, or to get others to do it for them.
In Commitee (Consideration resumed from 1 8th June, vide page 13839).
Division 5 - Apparel and textiles.
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 mode up (notbeing piece-goods), including articles cat into shape, and dressed feathers, ad valorem, 25 per cent.
Towels and handkerchiefs, mode of cotton or linen, ad valorem, 15 per cent.
Upon which Senator Major Gould had moved -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 58 by adding to the duty, “Apparel and attire and articles n.e.i. . . 25 per cent.,” tho words, ‘‘and on and after 1st July, 1902, 20 per cent.”
– This is perhaps the most important item in the Tariff. It affects all families, and the poorer the people are, the more important the duty is to them. A heavy duty on clothing may happen to be a very severe tax upon very large families. Therefore, this is a duty to which every honorable senator should give very careful attention, with the view of making its incidence as easy, and’ its amount as light as possible. Not only is it a great burden upon all families, but it is a severe tax upon the country producer. To have all his apparel taxed unnecessarily, must bc a burden to the country producer, and in his interest also we ought to consider what we coa do to make the load as light as possible. It is a recognised fact that the Tariff generally can yield no advantage to the country producer, and, therefore, we ought to go very easy in the matter of the burdens which are imposed upon him and others for the benefit of certain classes. Taking the duties under the various
State Tariffs, and remembering that there was no duty in New South Wales, I find that the average for the States amounts to 18 per cent, on the imports. I am aware that Senator O’Connor says that we have no business to take the State of New South Wales into consideration, but I submit that we have.
– I did not say that. What I said was that we cannot arrive at what is a fair protective duty by taking tho average, including New South Wales.
– Without taking New South Wales into consideration, we cannot arrive at what is a fair compromise, because the honorable and learned senator has repeatedly told us that the Tariff is not a protective one after his own heart. If it is a compromise Tariff, as he says, we have no right to be told what the duties have been in the States which had protection, and ignore the one State where there was no duty, notwithstanding the fact that she happens to he the biggest State, and consequently the largest importer. Remembering that the duty in Victoria was 35 per cent., and that the average for the States is 18 per cent., a duty of 20 per cent is a reasonable one, and is something more than generous to those who produce clothing. If we follow the course indicated by the Government, and agree to a duty of 25 per cent., and the result is as they calculated when they placed their original estimate on the table, there will be a very considerable slump in the revenue of the Commonwealth, and especially in the re- . venue of the smaller States, which will be dependent very largely on the great factories in two or three leading cities of Australia. According to the original estimate, £209,000 is expected to be derived from this one line. Senator O’Connor did not give us these figures lost night, but he quoted figures showing the actual revenue collected, which amounted to a much larger sum. In fact, taking the revenue for the six months, and calculating therefrom what it would be for the whole Commonwealth for a year, it appears that it would be something like £500,000. In that calculation I agree. It follows that if the importation of apparel is brought down to the point calculated by the Government when they introduced their Tariff, instead of £500,000 of revenue being received, there would be only £200,000 ; and that is the point which has been aimed at by the Government. To bring the revenue down to that extent there must be a very great reduction of importations into the States. Is it desirable that we should proceed to force down importations so violently? If an all-round duty of 25 per cent, will ultimately bring in only £200,000, it is for honorable senators to consider very carefully whether it is a judicious thing to adopt a rate which will have such an effect. With regard to the protection, it is clear that the manufacturers of clothing do not need much assistance There is a very substantial industry in New South Wales. The hands employed in the two branches of the clothing trade - slop manufacturing and tailoring, together with dressmaking and millinery - in the vear 1S96 were 5,500 ; in 1897, 5,900 ; “in 189S, 6,300 ; in 1S99, 6,500 ; and in 1900, S,100. These are very substantial figures. It is clear, therefore, that it is possible without protection to carry on a very important clothing industry. The manufacture of clothing in ‘Victoria is largely independent of the Tariff. In 1900 Victoria exported about £170,000 worth of manufactured clothing to the other States. This is a considerable amount ; and if Victorian manufacturers could carry on this trade without the aid of protection, it is quite clear that the industry is not in need of an excessive amount of protection such as is now proposed by the Government. We only want to give to the clothing trade a protection to the amount of the value which the clothing manufacturers add to the cloth. If a manufacturer has £100 worth worth of woollen cloth and turns it into £150 worth of clothing, it can be seen that £150 worth of imported clothing would have to pay £37 10s. - or, plus 10 per cent., it would really pay £40 - in duty. If the manufacturer only adds a total of £50 in value to £100 worth of cloth, a protection of 25 per cent, is very much in excess of what is needed. The reduction which has been proposed - 5 per cent. - is very small, and the duty which we propose to leave will be an exceedingly substantial one, highly unsatisfactory, indeed, from the point of view of the free-trader. Therefore I trust that the committee will accede to this small request.
– When I spoke last night, there were a few facts and figures which I did not quote to the committee, and it may be convenient that I should give them at the earliest possible moment. In looking at this duty from the point of view of revenue and protection, it is very necessary to realize that many persons are directly or indirectly interested. The number of persons employed throughout Australia in the different industries which are affected by the making of apparel are, according to Coghlan’ 8 figures, 23,050, and there are, in addition, 1,522 persons employed in woollen mills. These figures are for the year 1899. Making a reasonable allowance for an increase since then, it may be taken that there are at least 25,000 persons employed in the clothing factories and woollen mills who are directly affected by this duty. That is a matter to be considered very carefully, because, according to all the ordinary rules, many of these persons must be heads of households, and their interests must affect an immense number of other persons. I do not think that there is any other industry the condition of which comes home more directly to a larger number of persons than does that of the industry which we are dealing with now. Honorable senators who wish to magnify the extent of the industry in a free-trade State like New South Wales may point to the fact that there are a large number of persons employed there. That is so ; but many of these industries are carried’* on from year to year in a merely hopeless condition. The)7 are carried on in many places in the hope of something turning up to improve their position. Money is invested in them, and people are employed, and if they are doing badly this year it is hoped that they will do better next. . An employer does not like giving up, and dismissing his employe’s. The result has been that, in some of the States, these industries have been kept going by reducing wages, cutting down . the cost of employment to the lowest possible point, employing very young persons, and protracting the period of apprenticeship as long as possible. When we are told that in New South Wales, Tasmania, and other places industries such as this which have had little or no protection have succeeded, I point to the fact that in many cases the industries have been kept alive by a process of cutting down wages to the lowest possible point. Therefore it proves nothing to tell us that an industry has grown up where no protective duty has been imposed. It altogether depends upon how the industry has been existing, and whether the persons employed in it have been getting an adequate wage. We cannot tell that simply by the number of persons employed. We have to remember that in New South Wales all the material was free in the days referred to by Senator Pulsford. But for the purposes of revenue in some cases, and for the purposes of protection in others, we have put a duty upon the raw material of these industries. We have imposed a duty upon the imported woollen and silk goods, and mixtures of silk and woollen goods, which are largely used. We have put a small duty on cotton goods, and a high one on such things as lace and frillings. That affects very largely the question of what protection is given to these industries, and we cannot compare the protection given by this duty, which amounts only to 10 per cent., with that given in New South Wales and other places where previously this raw material was admitted free. Another point of view, from which it seems to me that this is a very important question, is the relation of this item, perhaps more than any other, to the employment of women. It is often urged as a reproach by some of our oratorical friends opposite, that a larger number of women is employed in the factories of Victoria than in the factories of New South Wales. The reason of that is that, by its Tariff, Victoria gave encouragement to industries which employ women. It is a matter of great importance to the. community that employment should be given both to men and women, and there is no reason why large numbers of women should not be employed, and thus enabled to help to keep their households by the occupation which is given in the innumerable industries that a Tariff of this kind creates and fosters. Looking at it from a revenue point of view, the motion, if adopted, will not insure any substantial increase in revenue, but it will certainly affect to a serious extent the protection of workers in the apparel and woollen industries. I think I shall be able to demonstrate that. It does not matter what set of figures I take by way of illustration, but I will adopt as a basis the revenue actually collected under the item of apparel for the six months ending March last. During that period £235,096 was collected. I merely wish to use an argument which is drawn from proportions, and we may take it that on that basis the collections for the year will be £500,000.
– The amount collected last month was £21,000.
– That may be so, but it has nothing whatever to do with what I am putting to the committee. What I am about to show is the proportion of additional importations which will be necessary to make up for the reduction, and it does not matter what set of figures I take by way of illustration. The collection of £500,000 per annum on a duty of 25 per cent., means an importation of £2,000,000 worth of these goods.. Certainly that is not an out-of-the-way estimate, because, as pointed out by Senator Pulsford, the importations into New South Wales during the year before the Tariff came into force, amounted to something over £1,000,000. To obtain the same revenue from a 20 per cent, duty, we should require an additional importation of £500,000 worth. But that is not all, because if we take that £500,000, we may put it down fairly that £250,000 of it is the value of material, while the balance represents the value of labour. Therefore, not only have we to import £500,000 more of the madeup article, but we have also to make up an amount of £187,000 which we would lose in respect of the value of the raw material on which duty would be paid. That is to say, although we might gain if we obtained the extra £500,000 worth of importations under apparel, we would lose in respect of the duty on the raw material. Therefore, if we want to calculate how much more it would be necessary to get in order to make up the loss by the reduction of duty, we have to allow not only for increased importations amounting to £500,000, but for £187,000, representing the value of goods that we would require to import in order to make up the raw material here. We should have to import apparel made up to the extent of £687,000, in order to make up for the difference between the duty at 25 per cent, and the duty at 20 per cent. That statement is absolutely unanswerable, and those who support the motion must be prepared to face this position. If this largely increased importation takes place, what will be its effect upon the manufacturers of apparel, and the thousands of persons who are employed in the industry? I do not say that it would necessarily close up those industries, but it would make the difference between prosperous and flourishing industries which are able to deal fairly with their employes and give them fair wages, and industries which have to struggle along and in cutting down would seize that part of their business which can be most easily dealt with - the wages of employes. The increased importation would displace a very large quantity of clothing made up here. Not only would it displace the work of making up the material here, but to a large extent it would displace the use of our own material. If we have only a difference of 5 per cent, between the value of the piece goods and the value of the clothing as made up, we shall encourage a very large importation of ready-made clothing. In fact, it would be impossible to make up the difference in revenue without that. That means that the protection of our own woollen mills must be largely interfered with. It means that instead of our own tweed having a market here for the making up of clothing, the same purpose will be served by importations from abroad. It may be contended that it is worth our while to cut down the employment given to persons in the woollen mills and in the industry concerned in the making of this apparel for the sake of getting revenue ; but the fact is that we cannot expect to get more than the amount of revenue we should get under the duties now proposed if the reduction suggested is agreed to, without importing, as I have said, no less than £6S7,000 worth of these goods. That importation would seriously interfere with the employment of persons engaged in the apparel industry, and in the woollen industry itself. As an illustration of the position, I may appeal to Senator Sargood. That honorable senator desired yesterday to transfer the piece-goods under the heading coatings, vestings, and trouserings to the item covering cotton piece goods at 5 per cent., instead of 15 per cent.
– Only the cottons.
– We are really speaking of the same thing, because all the woollen goods which contain no cotton are brought in under the same heading. The honorable senator told us that those goods would enter very largely into competition with the made-up clothing.
– No, I said only to the extent of 3 per cent.
– To the extent to which they are imported, whatever that may be. The honorable senator wanted them transferred from the 15 per cent, list to the 5 per cent, list, and why? Because he said there would not otherwise be a sufficient protection. He told’ us that the difference between the duty upon these goods at 15 per cent, and the duty upon apparel at 25 per cent, was not enough. He desired that the duty upon these goods should be reduced to 5 per cent, in order that there might be a protection of 20 per cent, afforded to the industry engaged in the making up of these goods. If the honorable senator, with all his experience of this particular business, thinks that a protection of 20 per cent, is required in the making up of’ cotton tweeds and goods of that kind, surely a protection of 10 per cent, for the making up of woollen goods is not very much to ask ?
– I did not desire that margin. I did not express any opinion as to what the duty upon apparel should be.
– The honorable senator did not express any opinion, but he said that he wished the duty upon those materials to be reduced from 15 to 5 per cent., because the margin of 15 per cent, allowed was not sufficient, and a larger margin was required in the interests of the manufacturer of apparel from those goods.
– I did not say that. ‘
– Really that was the whole purport of the honorable senator’s argument. On what other ground did the honorable senator suggest the reduction ? I certainly heard him use the argument that there was not a sufficient margin left, and he told us he was very much afraid that if the margin was left as it was the result would be a very large introduction of ready-made clothing made up from these materials. I say that is an argument which applies with equal force in the case of these woollen goods. If it is necessary that there should be a protection of 20 per cent, for the making up of cotton goods, it is certain that there should be at least a protection of 10 per cent, for the making up of woollen goods, especially when we remember that avery large number of persons are employed in the industry, and that by affording this protection we shall protect our own woollen factories, which must be seriously affected by any such altercation of the duty as is now proposed. I can, therefore, adopt the argument urged by Senator Sargood in regard to cotton piece-goods as the strongest argument which can be used in support of the duties upon woollen goods proposed in the Tariff. The effect of the proposition now made may be summed up in this way : If the object of honorable senators opposite in reducing the duty from 25 to 20 per cent, is to get additional revenue, it cannot succeed unless our imports are increased to the extent of £687,000 worth of apparel, taking the basis I have mentioned. If we do secure additional imports to that extent we shall only getthesamerevenueasweshouldgetunderthe proposal of the Government, and we must to a very large extent interfere with our existing industries. If we do not increase our imports to that extent, the object which honorable senators opposite have in view will not be achieved. This duty has had a great deal of consideration, and though that is no reason why it should not be reconsidered now, I submit that it bears a due and reasonable relation to the duty proposed on the raw materials of the industry, and a fair relation to the duties existing in the different States previous to federation. The protection existing for this industry in Victoria was very much greater than is now proposed. The present proposal cuts down the protection previously existing in Queensland, and with the exception, I think, of Western Australia, where the duty was 5 per cent, lower, there is no State which will be improved in the matter of protection by the duty we propose.
– Taking the five States, and excluding New South Wales, the duty proposed by the Government is an increase upon the average duty previously imposed, which was 22-i per cent.
– I do not think it is. The figures must be taken in relation to the facts, and honorable senators will see that in some of the States the raw material was taxed to a certain amount, and in others to a different amount. All these matters have to be taken into consideration before we can find out the relation which this duty really bears to the duties previously existing in the States, But, even according to the honorable senator’s own figures, a duty of 20 per cent, is lower than the average previously existing in the States. I have taken up some time in explaining the matter, because I conceive it to be one of immense importance, not only to the revenue, but to a very large number of persons engaged in the industry affected, and I trust that the committee will agree to leave the item as it is.
– I think we cannot complain of the time the honorable and learned senator has occupied in dealingwith a very important line such as this. I always admit and appreciate the exhaustive way in which he brings forward every possible argument, whether well or ill-founded, to support a duty as it stands in the Tariff. He said that no one could deny that this duty has been very well considered, but that, as the honorable and learned senator admitted, is no reason why we should not re-consider it. We have now our first opportunity of considering matters for which we are just as responsible to the people of Australia as are the Members of the House of Representatives or those engaged in any department of the government. No conscientious man can say that this duty will not bear further consideration. As it stands now in the Tariff, I think it cannot have been given any consideration whatever. Honorable senators will notice that the very next sub-division of the same item deals with what are known as cotton and linen piece goods other than those containing wool and silk, and the duty imposed upon the raw material in that case is 5 per cent., while the duty imposed upon the made-up article is 25 per cent. We have, therefore, in one line, actually a difference of 20 per cent, protection, and in the line with which we are now dealing the difference between the raw material and the made-up article affords a protection of only 10 per cent, for the made-up article. Can it really be said that these items have received that reasonable consideration which one would have expected them to have received with the desire to secure fair and even justice ? We must also remember that the original proposal of the Government was that woollen piece goods should carry a duty of 20 per cent., and apparel 25 per cent., as it now stands, the difference of protection being only 5 per cent. What is the use of a long speech from the leader of the Government in the Senate against our proposal that the duty should be 20 per cent, upon apparel, when we are actually giving identically the same margin of protection to the industry as was given by the Government themselves in their original proposal. Is not that enough to satisfy every reasonable mind that we are doing what is just and moderate ? I think we are giving a great deal too much. Looking at the matter broadly we ought to reduce the duty upon apparel, the clothing of the people of the country, to at the very most 15 per cent. I thought that the proposal now made from this side would have been accepted without debate. I thought that it would have been accepted by the Government as being the identical margin and measure of protection which they themselves proposed. What more do they want. I think I may appeal to all reasonable protectionists, and to Ministers also, to accept a proposal that the duty shall be 20 per cent, on this line, bearing in mind that a duty of 15 per cent, has been imposed upon woollen piece goods, and other goods of a similar character which are the raw material of the industry. What is proposed is the margin originally proposed by the Government, and it is only because it is a compromise that I am willing to agree to such an extortionate duty as 20 per cent, being put upon that portion of clothing which is used chiefly by the great mass of the people. It is not the bettertodo classes that wear this kind of clothing. They get their clothing made up at the tailors’ shops. The clothing to which this line chiefly applies is that worn by the mass of the people, and no body of reasonable and just men could consent to such a monstrous duty as 25 per cent, upon articles of that description. Senator O’Connor says that by supporting this duty we shall give a certainty of employment to people engaged in the industry. He said that those who are engaged in making up these goods must be kept flourishing and prosperous. I say so too; but out of what? Not out of the taxes of the people. Why should we tax the people to indemnify tailors from loss? If there is to be indemnity for these people they can get plenty of companies to guarantee them under certain conditions. Why should we tax the poor people of the community to the extent of 4s. in the £1 for every pound’s worth of clothes they buy or wear, in order to guarantee to some tailoring establishment the profits they desire to make? No such indefensible proposition has ever been put forward in a legislative chamber as a justification for taxing the people to the very high-pitched tune of 25 per cent. I look upon the duty mainly as a heavy and extravagant protection. From the revenue point of view, Senator O’Connor built up an argument resting upon a purely imaginary basis. I thought it was like some of the tales of Baron Munchausen done into figures. He said that taking the collections for the half-year at £250,000, it meant a revenue of £500,000 for the year, and that if we relieved the users of the articles to the extent of 5 per cent., we should require to import an additional £2,000,000 worth of ready-made apparel.
– No. What I said was that £2,000,000 is the amount which is necessary to produce a revenue of £500,000 on a 25 per cent, basis, and that with a 20 per cent, duty we should need to import £2,500,000 worth, or 25 per cent. more. Whatever the numbers are, the proportion will be the same.
– Of course, the difference would be a fifth, and, if I had used a wrong figure, I should have quickly set myself right. The vice of my. honorable and learned friend’s calculation is in assuming that £500,000 is the: revenue which he is going to get. It is nothing of the kind. Excluding Western Australia, the collections for six months were £235,096. That represents a total revenue of £470,000 odd for the year. My honorable and learned friend tells us to take the revenue at £500,000, but let us take it at £470,000, which is near enough for our purpose. Will honorable senators believe that, out of that total, New South Wales contributed £103,420. In that State there had been no duty, and, of course, all the shipments on the water could not be landed’ without paying the enormous federal duty, .. but that sort of thing will not recur… . What is the Treasurer’s estimate of what he is going to get in a normal year? It is £209,350.
– And that includes the revenue from the next item.
– I am much obliged to my honorable and learned friend for the reminder. What becomes of Senator O’Connor’s estimate of £500,000, or of my estimate of £470,000? It is gone into thin air. What does that mean ? It means that a duty of 25 per cent, will shut out importations, and reduce revenue to the extent of at least 50 per cent, on the collections for this year. What becomes of all this persuasion from the revenue point of view t It is gone. The Treasurer calculates that a 25 per cent, duty will reduce the revenue, which, according to the collections, will be nearly £500,000 - to less than onehalf, £209,000. Where is your revenue to come from ? You are wiping it off in one act. Even if some of my honorable friends behind me think that 20 per cent is enough, I am sorry that it is not proposed to reduce the duty to 15 per cent in the interests of revenue. But we have to do the best we can, and to be as moderate as we can. I believe that if it is reduced to 20 per cent, from the revenue point of view, we shall have a considerable increase on the Treasurer’s estimate of £209,000 for the year. But from whatever revenue aspect it is regarded, there are the figures, which demolish utterly the whole of the structure raised up so ingeniously by Senator O’Connor, to show that a 20 per cent, duty would produce a fifth less revenue than a 25 per cent, duty, when we have the Treasurer’s own estimate that the latter willproduce more than 50 per cent, less than, according to the collections for this year, one would naturally have expected. If the Treasurer’s figures are not convincing, I do not think I can say any more on the subject. One word from the point of view of protection. Senator O’Connor said that we have all these industries, and that the employes number 23,050. I shall leave out the hands engaged in the woollen mills, because the committee has left the 15 per cent, protective duty on woollen piece goods for the benefit of the 1,500 employes. Taking 23,050 as the number of persons employed in making up clothing, what is it 1 One would think that these are factories. Nothing of the kind. They comprise all the tailors in the Commonwealth, and all their employes. Surely no one will deny that all this employment will go on as before, whether we have free-trade or protection 1 Will any one tell me that all the tailors’ shops and outfitters’ establishments would be closed even if we wiped off the duty ? The tiling is too childish to talk about even for an instant. We have no details. It is all very fine to shy at us a number like 23,050, when it includes persons who will pursue their occupations in a peaceful, and, I hope, prosperous way, no matter what the duties are, or whether there are none.
– Does not my honorable and learned friend know that there are a large number of persons engaged in making up clothing for the big houses?
– I know that there are, and I am going to give a few figures to my honorable and learned friend, taken from the latest return laid on the table of the House of Representatives. Taking the persons engaged in tailoring shops, clothing factories, dressmaking, and cognate occupations, and in the woollen mills, in 1900 we had employed in Victoria 911 males and 9,075 females, or ten times as many women as men.
– Does the honorable and learned senator object to them getting work ?
– No ; but when my honorable friends begin to talk about a lower duty reducing wages what is it that reduces wages in Victoria ? It is the employment of women at less wages than men.
– Not at all.
– Does my honorable friend say that the women engaged in these pursuits in Victoria are getting the same wages as the men? Is it because of the employment of men at higher wages that we have the wages boards and the anti-sweating associations in this State ! Of course it is not. It is, as is admitted, because the employers get the benefit of the taxes sweated out of the people, and do not distribute them amongst their own employes.
– The honorable and learned senator would bring about more sweating by importing a lot of cheap stuff made under a low wages system.
– Those are not the people that my honorable friend generally has the care of. Let us care for our own people, and do not let us drive women into these dens, because they take less wages than men in the prosperous tailoring State of Victoria. Let us take New South Wales, which certainly presents a much better picture. There are 2,240 males as against6,070females - a thirdfewer females. That means that the suggestion about reducing wages is simply empty talk ; because the reduction of wages in this branch of employment is due to men being driven out, and to the invasion of women. If there has been a cutting down of wages, I admit that that is very wrong, and I would welcome any reasonable means of preventing it ; but it is unreasonable to tax a population of three or four millions in order to keep up wages. Senator O’Connor says thatal though there has been just as much employment in New South Wales without a duty of 25 per cent, as there was in Victoria, we must remember that in New South Wales piece goods were free. What difference does that make when - since both apparel and piece goods were f ree - there was no margin of protection of any kind ? We must remember the cost of importing these goods. In New South Wales, with a free port, before the operation of this Tariff the cost of importation was from7½ to 17½ per cent. Yet it is proposed to put a duty of 25 percent. plus from 7 to 17½ percent., on the clothing of the masses of the people, with a dead loss to the revenue, as I have shown, of more than 50 per cent. What is the margin which we should allow ? It should be not a margin which will put additional money into the pockets of the manufacturers, but a reasonable and fair margin to equalize the different rates of. wages. Surely the difference between 20 and 1 5 per cent, is a fair margin to allow. So long as we preserve that margin we accomplish the end in view in seeking to provide for those who are making up this apparel. In the case of New Zealand, where the manufacture of apparel is far larger than in Victoria, and where thewages paid are at least equal to those paid in this State, the margin between the duty on woollens and on apparel is exactly what we now propose, 5 per cent. Surely that is enough in all conscience. On these grounds, also on the ground that we should obtain more revenue from reducing the duty, and particularly because what is proposed by the Government is an extravagant and extortionate protectionist duty on the clothing of the masses of the people which they can ill afford to bear, I venture to hope that the motion will be carried.
– I can well understand Senator Symon’s success at the bar. He has almost convinced me that he is right - and it takes a lot to do that ! He appears to be very solicitous for the welfare of the protected industries, but, at the same time, he would impose a duty of 15 per cent, on their raw material, and a duty of 15 per cent, also on imported clothing. That would leave no protection whatever for the manufactures. I am aware that the honorable and learned senator regards the clothing industry as “a two men and a boy industry.”
– No; two women and a girl !
– If I recollect aright, Senator Symon told a newspaper in Tasmania last November, that the clothing and boot manufacturing industries of Victoria were mere exotics, employing only a few people.
– The honorable senator is quoting from memory, surely.
– I quoted the passage from a newspaper in my second-reading speech, and it is on record. The honorable and learned senator now admits that a larger number are employed in the industry than he previously thought. Indeed the number is greater than has been quoted here to-day. Senator O’Connor told us that the number employed is about 25,000, including those engaged in the woollen industry. But, according to the figures of the Victorian Government Statist, there are 18,449 employed in the textile and clothing trades of Victoria alone. That leaves only 6,500 for the rest of Australia. There must be a mistake somewhere. Thenumber of factories in Victoria is 571, showing an average all round of about 30 persons per factory, so that the industry is no trifling one. We hear a great deal about the factories in New South Wales. We are told that they have carried on successfully under freetrade. It has been asserted that the wages paid in New South Wales are as good as those paid in Victoria. No particulars have been given, but I will supply the omission. If wages were higher in New South Wales than in Victoria it is wonderful that the best workmen and workwomen do not gravitate to that State. Ihavehere Coghlan’s Industrial Wages for the 31st of December, 1900. I am going to compare the particulars given therein with details furnished in connexion with the Victorian wages boards. It will be seen that in nearly every case the minimum weekly wage in Victoria is as high as or higher than the average for the same kind of work in New South Wales. The particulars are as follow : - Tailors, males, average weekly wage in New South Wales, £2 3s. 3d. ; minimum in Victoria, £2 5s. Cutters, average wage in New South Wales, £2 1 6s. 6d. : minimum in Victoria, £2 5s. Trimmers, average weekly wage in New South Wales, £1 15s. ; minimum in
Victoria, £2 5s. ; or 10s. more. The average wage of pressers in New South Wales is £2 3s. 6d. per week, while in Victoria the minimum weekly wage is £2 5s. Machinists in New South Wales receive £2 15s. 3d. as an average weekly wage, while here the minimum is £2 5s. Examiners in New South Wales receive an average weekly wage of £2 3s. 6d., while in Victoria the minimum is £2 os. “ Stock “- cutters in New South Wales receive an average weekly wage of £2 16s. 3d. ; here the minimum is £2 10s. Folders in New South Wales are paid an average wage of £1 16s. 9d. per week ; here the minimum wage is £2. The average weekly wage of steam pressers in New South Wales is £1 7s. ; while in Victoria the minimum is £1 10s. Machinists (female) receive an average weekly wage of 19s. in New South Wales; in Victoria the minimum is £1. Finishers (females) in New South Wales receive an average weekly wage of 16s. 3d.; in Victoria the minimum is £1. Tailoresses are paid an average weekly wage of 19s. in New South Wales ; here the minimum is £1. White-workers, that is, women engaged in making shirts, receive an average wage of 15s. 6d. per week in New South Wales ; while here the minimum is 16s. Shirt-front makers in New South Wales receive 15s. 6d. per week on the average ; in Victoria they are paid a minimum wage of 16s. These figures all relate to the clothing trade. In the underclothing trade, finishers (female) receive 1 Os. per week on the average in New South Wales, and. 16s. is the minimum wage in Victoria. Machinists receive 16s. 9d. per week on the average in New South Wales, while here the minimum is 1 6s. Sorters are paid an average weekly wage of 17s. in New South Wales ; in Victoria they receive a minimum wage of 16s. In New South Wales, the average weekly wage of trimmers is 12s. 3d., while here the minimum is 16s. These figures ought to satisfy those who tell us that the wages paid in this trade are higher in New South Wales than in Victoria, that their statement is absolutely incorrect. Some little consideration, should also be given to the money invested in this industry- in Victoria. I find that the value of plant, machinery, and buildings used in the industry here is £652,000, while there are 17,000 persons employed in making clothing, according to the return furnished by the Government.
As we all know, the wages boards fix the hours of labour, and all the persons to whom I have referred work only eight hours a day in the Victorian factories. In New South Wales £995,000 worth of apparel was imported during the year 1899, while the importations into Victoria amounted to £343,000. The difference represents clothing that was made here, the money being circulated amongst our own people instead of being sent out of the country. I am sure we are agreed that if this money is to go out of the country it should go to our own people, but if it does go out of the country it will find its way into continental as well as Asiatic countries. Girls employed in these factories in Japan work for 3d. or 4d. a day. Mr. Sowden, the free-trade writer, from whom I have quoted on several occasions, says in regard to China -
I suppose that the average manual worker in Australia receives at least ten times as much for the same class of labour as is paid to the Chinaman in his own country.
A man may be owner of a little plot of land on which his family depends for ‘subsistence - or what in the East is termed subsistence - but which in Australia would be called worse than starvation.
Surely we do not want to throw our ports open to the goods of these people 1 Mr. Sowden has visited these factories in Japan, and he tells us that it is possible to get a suit of genuine Scotch tweed of the very best quality, made to measure in that country for 30s. I suppose I might as well try to make an impression upon a piece of adamant, but I desire, if I can, to impress upon the committee the desirability of refraining from injuring this industry and throwing a lot of people out of work, more especially at this particular juncture, for I think we are going to have rather bad times. If anything is done to dislocate trade in a way that might be avoided, the responsibility will rest upon those who cause that dislocation. My contention is that the reduction of the duty will not make clothing cheaper. If our woollen mills and clothing establishments are closed up, nearly’ everything we require will be imported, and a combination will be formed amongst the importers. If we were to put the manufacturers into the position occupied by the importers, of course they would do just the same, because people carry on business for their own profit ; but it is the duty of Parliament to prevent either importers or manufacturers from doing anything of the kind. If we close these places, we shall not only throw thousands of people out pf employment, but open the door to the introduction of goods that are unsaleable in the country from which they come. We shall open the door to shoddy material, which will be sold as genuine West of England or Scotch tweeds. We require good material, and let us have it made here from the wool we produce, under the inspection of those who are paid to look after such matters. I should be sorry to see any reduction in the duty, because it has never been shown to me that clothing of good quality was cheaper in New South Wales under free-trade than in Melbourne under protection. I have ascertained from authentic records that the wages paid in the trade in “Victoria are considerably higher than those paid in New South Wales. And I am also told that the persons employed in these factories work longer hours in New South Wales than in Victoria. As Senator Symon pointed out very fairly, if the factories continue and cannot be made to pay, the difference will have to be made up by a reduction in the wages of the employes, and an increase in the number of hours worked by them. I hope the committee will agree to the duty as it stands.
– I find myself in the position of being able to support the Government proposal on this item, as introduced into the House of Representatives, and that is to give a protection of 5 per cent, to the local manufacturer. Seeing that a protectionist Government have recognised that 5 per cent, is ample protection for this industry, their supporters ma)’ well be excused if they accept that as sufficient. Surely they will not go back upon their own leaders 1 With all the information available through the Custom-house, with the manufacturing firms at their elbows, and with a Protectionist Association backing them up, the Government came to the conclusion that 5 per cent, would be sufficient. Surely free - traders cannot be accused of a desire to destroy the industry, when they are prepared to grant that measure of protection ? I hope the motion will receive that measure of support from the Government side that we have a right to expect. The duty upon piece-goods having been fixed at 15 per cent., which, in my opinion, is too high, we should now fix the duty on apparel at 20 instead of 25 per cent. We have had a protection of 5 per cent, for this industry in Western Australia, and although that State has been chiefly occupied in expanding her primary industries, she has been able to do as much, or more, in this direction than has been done by some of the eastern States, notwithstanding that they had a protection ranging from 15 to 20 per cent. In South Australia the measure of protection ranged from 15 to 20 per cent., and I find that one in every 225 of the total population there was engaged in the manufacture of clothing, while in Western Australia, with a protection of only 5 per cent., against the cheap Victorian goods, the industry expanded to such an extent that one out of every 267 of the population was engaged in it. That shows that 5 per cent, protection is ample against the keen competition of older civilized countries. Senator Styles expressed a wish to have a comparison made between the wages paid in the industry in Victoria and New South Wales.
– I have made it.
– But how has the honorable senator made it 1 I will explain how he has arrived at his figures. In Victoria there is a wages board which fixes a minimum wage, not for Victoria, but only for the metropolitan district. How is the average wage arrived at in New South Wales? I will give an instance which has come under my own notice. In my own trade in Perth wages ranged from Ss. per day to incompetent men to 12s. per day to those who are highly competent. What, in that case, would be the average wage paid to carpenters in Perth ? It would be 10s. per day. But, from an intimate knowledge of the subject, I can guarantee that 90 out of every 100 carpenters in Perth were getting lis. per day. Is it fair, therefore, to say that 10s. per day was the average wage for carpenters in that city ? Yet, that is the way in which the average wage is arrived at b)’ our statisticians where there is no minimum wage fixed by law. When the statistician in New South Wales desires to ascertain the average wage paid in any particular employment, lie finds out the wage paid to the lowest-paid workman or workwoman, and the wage paid to the highest-paid workman or workwoman, and he strikes the average wage half way, as if half the people employed in the industry got the highest wage and the other half the lowest wage.
Senator Styles cannot tell me that what he calls the minimum wage in New South Wales is the same as the minimum wage fixed by the wages boards in Melbourne. When the Government statistician desires to find out the average wage paid in the clothing trade in New South Wales, what does he do 1 He goes to the manufacturer and asks what are the lowest wages paid. He is told that the lowest wage paid is 8s. per week and the highest wage £2 per week, and then he says that the difference between 8s. per week and £2 per week is the average wage.
– Certainly not.
– He does. I am able to say so, because I have supplied figures to the Government statistician of Western Australia for the purpose. In my position as secretary of our union, I have supplied to him the wages we recognise in our union, but I have found that he has not in his statistics given as the minimum wage paid to carpenters the minimum wage recognised by our society. What he has done has been to take the average between the lowest wage paid to incompetent workmen, and the highest wage paid to competent workmen. To compare a minimum wage arrived at in that way to the minimum fixed by law by the wages boards of Melbourne, is not fair at all. If we desire to know what are the wages paid in Victoria and New South Wales, we can easily get information upon the subject. There has been some evidence given upon the question in New South Wales, as well as in Victoria.
– How long ago ?
– Quite recently - to the Victorian Royal Commission on the Factories Act, in Sydney, in 1901. I find that Mr. Peter Strong, representing the Journeymen Tailors’ Association of New South Wales, in giving evidence before the commission, said : -
Many Victorian workers have come to Sydney because there is more work for men here. Such work is done in Melbourne by women at much lower wages. Tailors are better off, on the whole, in New South Wales than in Victoria.
I ask honorable senators what object a man representing the Journeymen Tailors’ Association of New South Wales could have in making such a statement as that? Can it be to the interests of the workers of New South Wales to say to their employers, “ You are paying us better wages here than our fellow workmen are getting in Melbourne “ ! If they had any self-interest at all it would seem to be to their interest to suppress the fact.
– Did he say anything about the hours worked.
– There is nothing said about the hours worked, but we know that throughout Australia the hours worked in this particular trade are very much alike. If there is any one trade in which more than in another the labour of women has proved a curse, it is the tailoring trade. As secretary to a trades council I have had some little experience of this trade in Western Australia. I helped to organize the Tailors’ and Tailoresses’ societies which now exist there, and I know that the tailoresses had a very great difficulty in getting piece-work rates for certain goods anything like the rates paid to men for the same class of work.
– It is the same everywhere and in every department.
– That is true, and wherever women are employed in the greatest numbers it is clear that the average wages paid must be lower than where there are not so many employed. Senator Styles convicts himself, because in Victoria the greater number employed in this trade are women, and in New South Wales the greater number employed are men. Let us take an instance of the wages paid in the country districts of New South Wales and Victoria, where the workers have not the benefit ofthe strong hand of the law to secure fair wages for them. I have this information upon that subject : - “George Hortan, journeyman tailor, makes affidavit, on 27th March, 1901, as to the following rates of wages paid to him in Deniliquin, New South Wales, for making trousers, 6s. 6d . each ; vests, 6s. 6d. each ; coats, 14s. 6d. each. In Bendigo, Victoria, for making trousers, 5s. each ; vests, 3s. 6d. each; coats, 10s.”
That is1s. 6d. less for trousers, 3s. less for vests, and 4s. less for coats in Bendigo than in Deniliquin. That is the experience of the trade in New South Wales and in places in Victoria, where the Factories Act is not in operation, and where the cruel law of supply and demand has full effect.
– But Deniliquin is in the back-blocks, and higher wages are always paid outside.
– I think that the higher wages might have been expected in
Bendigo. We have been told that we must impose these high duties, because they are necessary to keep up wages. Paney such an argument as that being used in Victoria, where it has been absolutely proved that high duties do not keep up wages, and where the greatest sweating and the’ lowest wages to be found in any part of Australia existed.
– Does the honorable senator say that that was caused by protection 1
– It existed in spite of protection, at any rate, and it shows that protection and high duties do not keep up wages. I can give honorable senators a few facts in connexion with sweating in Victoria, from evidence given before the board of inquiry upon the Factories Act in 1895. It is not evidence given by those who were sweated, because they were afraid to go before the board. It is evidence given by manufacturers in many cases, and by persons who made it their business to inquire into the system of sweating existing in Victoria. I find that Miss Longdill, a deaconess iii connexion with the Australian Church, gave this evidence in answer to the chairman of the board -
We have a letter from the Rev. Dr. Strong, suggesting your name, and saying that you might be able to give some information. Part of your duty is to visit poor and distressed persons. Have you noticed any poor persons unduly worked? And have you heard any complaints about their being unduly paid for that work? - I know very well about half-a-dozen women employed in trousers finishing. I have known a good many more, but at present I have been visiting halfadozen. They do that work at prices ranging from 2s. to 3s. 6d. a dozen. Very few can do more than half-a-dozen a day. They earn, on an average, 10s. 6d. a week, and out of that they have to pay ls. 3d. for thread.
The wages are, therefore, cut down to 9s. 3d. per week for working from ten to twelve hours per day. This lady gives a whole host of instances in various departments of the clothing trade in which similar conditions existed.
– Unless the honorable senator can prove that those conditions were due to protection, his statements can avail nothing.
– I do not say that these conditions were the result of protection, but I do say that protection did not prevent them, and I remind honorable senators that the Federal Parliament has not the power to constitute wages boards.
That power is in the hands ‘of the State Parliaments, and the Government of nearly every State, when asked to hand over their power to the Federal Parliament, have refused to do so. We know that the protectionists of - Victoria have advocated these high duties on the ground that they would protect the people of Victoria from the sweated labour of England, and would result in high wages and plenty of work for the Victorian people. We know that those have been the parrot cries of Victorian protectionists at every election. They have told the people that high duties and a protective Tariff would give employment, and keep money in the country instead of sending it away to purchase clothing made in the sweated factories of the East End of London. Mr. John Wing, secretary of the Tailoresses’ Union, gave a marvellous instance of how a protective policy was encouraging the industry. He said that when he took the office ten years before, there were from 1,S00 to 1,900 employ 6s, but that in that year there were only about 400 employes, showing that the protective policy did not agree with unionism. I shall quote a passage from his evidence -
Have you known about moleskin trousers ? - In Richmond, in finishing the moleskin trousers, a party took the work out to a private house, and she was sub-letting to two other parties. I know they were working from eight to twelve hours, and got 2Jd. a pair for finishing, and all they could make was 188. a week between the two. I think you should summon them ; but the fear of starvation creates a regular reign of terror, and they will not come.
Have you tried to induce any to come ? - Yes, I have tried them all round, and they are afraid to come; in fact, some are afraid to come to the union, for fear that someone may carry the information, and they may be kept waiting for work, or even discharged.
– Would not the sameterrorism be possible under free-trade ?
– The evidence given recently before the Victorian Factories Inquiry Board in Sydney was that under free-trade the workers were not so badly sweated, and that there was a greater proportion of male labour employed.
– And they are going to appeal to the Arbitration Court for better wages.
– Of course, they are. They are now under a protective system, and, therefore, they find it necessary to appeal for better wages. Asked to express his opinion about the proposed extension of the Factories Act, this witness says -
If yon had the power would you make such a law? -I would, to prevent the great evils at present existing, which require a drastic cure.
If the outside price were fixed, would that do it ? - Yes ; if the board would make a permanent log for inside and outside, I think that would go far to provide a remedy.
What kind of price does the average tailoress get ? - The average of the last month has not been more than 12s. a week ; they have not been on full work.
I propose now to give the evidence of the manufacturers as to whether protection in this trade is necessary, and for that purpose I turn to the report of the Tariff Board of Victoria, who took a large quantity of evidence - first, as to whether there should be a duty on the raw material, and if so, what it should be ; and secondly, as to the difference between the duty on the raw material and the duty on the apparel. The evidence is summarized in their report, at page 38, in these words -
Some of the manufacturers of clothing made from free material went so far as to assert that they required no protective duty, and that the entire abolition would not lead to a return of importation.
– Made from free material?
– As in New South Wales.
– If they were prepared to do without a duty on apparel, does it not show that they did not require protection, as they pointed out? The board say-
The manufacture was so firmly established that the makers were able to compete with the British factories on equal terms.
Of course, they do not mention the Chinese actories that Senator Styles considers so much, where clothing can be made at such a low cost. It is a strange thing that China does not lead in the clothing trade any more than she leads in the manufacturing trades of the world. I have not seen much Chinese clothing in Australia, and I do not think we shall do so until the Chinaman becomes as efficient as the European ; and when he attains that proficiency it may be that he will require the same wages. We are now legislating with an eye to the future, and there is no indication that the Chinaman will flood our markets with cheap clothing. He has not clothed himself yet, let alone begun to clothe the Australian. The board go on to say -
Wages were no higher here, and the methods and management of the local factories were equal to those of the factories in England.
I could quote a number of witnesses to bear out that statement, but I shall content myself with quoting the opinion of two witnesses. Mr. Charles James Lane, who is manager of the tailoring and mercery department of the Mutual Store, gave this evidence at page 156 -
There is a duty on woollen apparel of 50 per cent. , and on woollens 35 per cent. ; how about those duties? - I suggest that woollen apparel should be 30 per cent. , or . 10 per cent, higher than woollens. I recently bought a parcel of Standen’s goods in Sydney from a house that imported them there, and the bankwould not given them delivery. They came to us as cash people and asked me to make an offer, and I made an offer so much off English price. In opening up the goods - I had just the samples - I was surprised to see that such a beautiful quality of goods is imported into New South Wales, and I can candidly state that no such class o£ goods can be bought here in Melbourne. With the same patterns they must buy lower in range, lower in price, to meet the landed cost here as compared with Sydney ; the same pattern, but inferior. We in Melbourne are a shoddily-dressed people compared with any other people in the world.
On the same page, Mr. Norman McLennan gavethe following evidence -
What changes do you think should be made in the duty on clothing and piece goods ? - I said the other day that I thought woollens should bear 25 per cent. In that case, the clothing should bear 35 per cent. ; but I would not give the clothing one farthing duty were it not for the woollen mills, because they do not require it. They are quite independent of any duty.
How doe3 the Tariff affect you ? - We do not want a halfpenny duty on anything.
What duty in that case would be required as against the world? - In the other colonies it depends on how long the industries have been established. Here we want none. In New South Wales and South Australia they would need some.
– I presume that they import as well as manufacture.
– If Senator O’Connor will refer to the evidence of the witnesses, he will find that each of them said that he did employ a considerable number of hands in the making up of clothing. At any rate, the evidence was sufficient to convince the board that the apparel industry could stand without any protection.
– One witness said that he wanted a 10 per cent. duty, and that is what the Government propose to have.
– Certainly he did, but at the same time he pointed out that it was not necessary. In “Western Australia this duty will tax the apparel of the poorer classes at a much higher rate than they have been charged. It will not affect the rich man, because he does not wear slop clothing. There was only 5 per cent, more duty on the apparel than on the raw material, so that this duty will tax the poorer classes in that State 10 per cent, more than they have been taxed. Is that a fair method of taxation? The order trade will not go out of the Commonwealth, and therefore it is not affected by the duty. In Western Australia it is an increase of taxation on an article which is just as much a necessary as is condensed milk or any other food in respect of which we have been trying to reduce the duty. We should keep the duty as low as possible, consistently with the idea of allowing some measure of protection to the industries which have had a larger measure of protection in the past. That 5 per cent, is ample is shown by the report of the Tariff Board of “Victoria, by the evidence of the manufacturers, and by the experience of Western Australia, where, with the same protection, we have as many per head of the population engaged in this industry as there are in the eastern States.
– Senator Pearce has given us the seamy side of clothingtrade life in parts of Australia, and I intend to give the seamy side of clothing manufacturing in another part df the world, against which we have to protect ourselves. Much of what Senator Pearce has said, as to the conditions of the clothing trade in Victoria, applies to the conditions which existed before federation and the establishment of the wages boards. It is very misleading to wish to saddle the protectionists with the statement that protection means absolutely high wages and better conditions to those engaged in various industries. What we say is that high duties give us the means of obtaining better wages for the workers by securing the home market and the chance of compelling employers to extend fair treatment to their work-people. We need a high duty upon the article under discussion, because it will enable the local manufacturers to compete successfully against the “imported article and will enable the workers employed in the trades affected by the item to demand higher wages. What has taken place in this very trade in Victoria will, without a doubt, take place in Queensland, New South Wales, and the other States. The workers here have succeeded, with the assistance of such men as Senator Sargood, in bringing about improved conditions. Honorable senators probably know that in Victoria the local manufacturers were compelled by law to agree to better conditions, and that a duty was given them to enable them to compete with the state of things existing in England such’ as is described in the volume which I will quote to the committee. This volume is the fifth report of the select committee of the House of Lords on Sweating in England. It is dated 1S93. Paragraph 9 states -
The conditions under which life is carried on as described by some witnesses are deplorable in the extreme. These witnesses have seen people working with the garments on their backs to keep the worker warm, Mr. Monro knowing o£ a case of a child with measles being covered bV one of these garments. “ Three or four gas-jets may be flaring in the room, a coke fire burning in the wretched fireplace, sinks untrapped, closets without water, and altogether the sanitary condition abominable.” A witness told us that in a double room, perhaps !) feet x 15 feet, a man, his wife, and six children slept, and in the same room ton men were usually employed, so that at night eighteen persons would be in that room. These witnesses alluded to the want of sanitary precautions and of decent and sufficient accommodation, and declared that the effect of this, combined with the inadequate wage earned, had the effect of driving girls to prostitution, .As to sanitary arrangements - in a sweater’s den with which witness is acquainted, there is one water-closet for all workers, male and female, about 22 persons. The medical officer stated to witness that one water-closet was insufficient for more than 20 persons. If the owner of the shop is required to make an additional water-closet, he refuses, and he says he will reduce his hands. This may be done in the slack season, but in the busy season he will take more hands on, and the state of things is as bad as ever. Referring to workshops in PrincesStreet, there is a shop in which the water-closet is in the shop itself. The females sit within three feet of the door of it, and the water-closet fixed into a corner, not behind an ordinary fireplace, but behind a big furnace used for heating irons, so that it is the hottest corner in the room.
The ACTING CHAIRMAN (Senator Dobson). - Does the honorable senator think that is relevant?
– -Senator Pearce described the conditions existing in the clothing trade in Victoria, and I am pointing out the state of things existing in England, against which we have to compete.
– Would a duty on clothing in the old country cure that ?
– Whoever suggested such a preposterous idea ? But a duty will enable the work people of Australia to be protected against such competition.
– Shut out the goods of the Empire !
– I would shut out the goods of any Empire if they were produced under such conditions as exist in England according to this report. It may be unpatriotic to say so, but honorable senators will admit that the state of things here described is deplorable in the extreme. However much we may sympathize with the condition of the workers in the old country, we cannot, in the interests of our own selfpreservation, permit our workers or manufacturers of clothing to be brought to such a level by having to compete against goods made under such conditions. Regarding the rate of wages, the report says that Mr. Burnett’s attempts to give the average rate of wages in various branches of the clothing trade, show that -
It would appear .that the highest rate paid for men’s work is 10s. a day, and that it runs down to 2s. 6d. ; women occasionally get 6s. a day, but the average is very low. For a slop coat, from 2s. to 3s. 9d. was formerly paid ; the rate is now ls. 6d. to 2s. 3d. A good coat, for which a man got 10s. 2d. a few years ago, now brings to the maker only Gs. 6d. A woman makes a dress outright for 5d., and she is able to make four a day Mr. Arnold White produced a coat which was made for 7 1/2d ; and, by working fifteen hours, a woman could make four of such in the day, earning 2s.- Gd. ; but, out of this, she had to pay 3d. for getting the button holes worked, and id. for trimming. The work-shops are described by witnesses to be miserable dens ; so is the food stated to be of the poorest description. I am almost ashamed to say what my food is ; said one of the witnesses. With regard to the rate paid in Glasgow, a witness stated what were the wages paid for making boys’ clothing.
The ACTING CHAIRMAN.- The statements made by the honorable senator appear to me to be quite irrelevant. I am aware that the preceding speaker has, at considerable length, referred to rates of wages, but I do not see what wages paid in the old country has to do with this duty.
– I submit that it is of very great importance to the Commonwealth, that when arguments are brought forward to show the poverty stricken state of things which existed in connexion with one of our local industries, we should be able to prove that the duty asked for by the Government and the local manufacturer is necessary to protect our own workers. Goods made under these sweating conditions, and at such wretched wages, in England, are sent into the Commonwealth. I want to show honorable senators what tire the wages and conditions in England, in order that they may realize the necessity of protecting ourselves. A great point has been made about the number of females employed in Victoria as against the number employed in New South Wales. In the first place, it cannot be expected that in free-trade New South Wales there will be the same number of clothing factories as in Victoria. In the next place we- want to know from the honorable senator what he thinks these female workers are to do if they are not to be employed in the clothing trade. Will Senator Symon employ them as typewriters 1 Surely they should be permitted to obtain some employment ? As reference has been made to the employment of women in Victorian factories, let me further quote from the report of the select committee in regard to their position in Glasgow : -
In some small sweaters’ places, girls and children are employed . With regard to one such shop we were informed: - “The sweater makes a practice of what we call ‘ taking on learners’, “that is to- say, employs young girls for a certain time to learn the machine part of the work, and they get no wages for, say, six weeks or two months, and after that time, if competent, they get 2s. or 3s. a week, and after the busy season is over, if they have not room for them, as a rule they discharge them all, and take on a new batch. The new learners are again got for nothing, and those who have sufficiently acquired the business as to be entitled to wages are sent adrift to find employment where they can. The wholesale sweaters in Glasgow are chiefly Jews, and the number is said to be increasing, though on this point evidence is somewhat scanty. It is computed that the workers in the tailoring trade in Glasgow number about 5,000 or 6,000. One of these workers stated that he could earn, 3Os. a week when trade was very good, and 14s- or 15s. on the average, working thirteen hours a day. A tailoress, who said she was not working for a sweater, stated that if she worked night and day from Wednesday to Saturday she could make 8 s. 6d. a week ; and she had to work hard from Monday morning to Saturday twelve o’clock to make 6s. or 7s. A small master, employing four hands and working himself, stated that he got what he considered very fair prices from the wholesale firms in Glasgow provided he could get plenty of work the whole year round, but that he was unable to do. He was paid from 18s. to 24s. per dozen for jackets, ls. 4d. each for a pair of moleskin trousers, and 12s. to 14s. a dozen for vests ; but there is no established scale for prices, so the sub-contractor is always liable to have his work taken from him or to have the rate of pay cut down. “ If,” said the witness, “ I did not take them at a reduced price, they would throw them under the counter.”
The vests and moleskins mentioned in the report often find their way into this country, and that is one reason why we desire that the duty of 25 per cent, shall be retained. I shall now give the committee one or two of the conclusions and recommendations made by the select committee. After stating that the evils of excessive hours of labour can hardly be exaggerated, they report : -
The earnings of the lowest classes of workers are barely sufficient to sustain existence.
The hours of labour are such as to make the lives of the workers periods of almost ceaseless toil, hard and often unhealthy.
The sanitary conditions under which the work is conducted are not only injurious to the health of the persons employed, but ai-e dangerous to the public, especially in the case of the trades concerned in making clothes, as infectious diseases are spread by the sale of garments made in rooms inhabited by persons suffering from small-pox and other diseases.
W e make the above statements on evidence, of the truth of which we are fully satisfied, and we feel bound to express our admiration of the courage with which the sufferers endure their lot, of the absence of any desire to excite pity by exaggeration, and of the almost unbounded charity they display towards each other in endeavouring, by gifts of food, and other kindnesses, to alleviate any distress for the time being greater than their own.
We sympathize with these unfortunate workers, but we say that, for the preservation of our own race, their goods must be kept out. We say also to the sweated workers in the East end of London that there is a home for them here. Let them come here and work under our conditions, but do not let us bring down our own people to the level of the workers in these trades in Glasgow and other parts of the United Kingdom. Senator Symon said that women were employed in this way in Victoria because they were prepared to work for lower wages than those given to men. Are those honorable senators who support this motion willing to support a proposition that the female workers in the clothing trade shall get equal pay for equal work ? I know that Senator Pearce is willing to do so, but he is only one amongst a number of the free-trade party. The protectionists support the new scientific protection which provides for eight hours’ work a day. Can Senator Symon show that his party have ever put in writing their indorsement of the demand for improved conditions for the workers 1
– Every one of them.
– I have not been able to find a line in any of Mr. Reid’s speeches during the federal campaign to show that he is in favour of improved conditions for those engaged in the clothing or other trades. They show that he is in favour of nothing but free-trade. We know very well from the statements made by Senator Symon and I only mention him as the leader of the party, that he is anxious to reduce the revenue ; that he is anxious to reduce the duties, and to reduce them must be to reduce the revenue.
– That I deny. I have said repeatedly that I desire to increase the revenue.
– We have a right to draw our own conclusions from Senator Symon’s actions. He has proposed that duty after duty be reduced. The reductions made must mean a loss of revenue, and the honorable and learned senator proposes that that loss shall be made up by the re-imposition of the duty on tea.
– Do not say that I propose a duty on tea.
– I am in great hopes that honorable senators will recognise that we are not dealing with an industry that employs one woman and two girls, but with one which gives employment to thousands of people. If we retain the duty, the industry will grow in a wonderful way. Honorable senators from New Sonth Wales must know of the additions that are being made to the clothing factories there and of the increased number of hands that are being taken on. They must know also, that as soon as it has been decided that the duty shall be 25 per cent., the industry will expand in several places where people are now afraid to venture. As to the question of revenue, we cannot deny that importations will take place, because the great importing firms will continue to import any lines which they find can be obtained from abroad for Id. or 2d. a dozen below the price of the local article. There is no patriotism about the importer, but I believe that there is a good deal of patriotism about the local manufacturer. He is willing to extend to other industries the protection given to himself. There may be one or two exceptions, but if that statement did not apply generally, there would be no protectionist party defending the duty proposed by the Government.
Senator MACFARLANE (Tasmania).I was much struck with the speech made by Senator O’Connor early this afternoon. It seemed to me to breathe of very little but protection. Not a word was said by him about the poor consumer whom it is proposed to tax, nor about the revenue of the smaller States which is being interfered with. Those subjects seem to have escaped his almost all-seeing eye. This is one of those items which, by their incidence, divert revenue from the public Treasury to the pockets of the private individual. It seems to me to be extraordinary that the friends of the poor should desire to tax the needs of the poor. It is always argued by them that high duties are for the benefit of the labouring classes, as they encourage manufactories. I contend that high duties have not that effect. Moderate duties, with the incidence which attaches to importations, afford ample protection for any substantial industry. High profits do not mean high wages. It was argued by a member of the labour party a few evenings ago, that one of the most profitable industries in Europe was sweating its employe’s, and, therefore, high profits cannot mean high wages in that trade. I do not see why the friends of the poor should endeavour to make the profits of the manufacturer very Large. If we give a moderate protection to an ordinarily substantial industry, its profits will be fair and reasonable, and that is all we can be asked to give. I referred some little time ago to some official statistics I got from Tasmania, showing that under the duty upon oilmen’s stores Tasmania would lose very heavily in revenue. Senator O’Connor discounted that statement by questioning the figures and making comparisons as to what oilmen’s stores were. “We did not get very far with those comparisons, but we did get so far as to show that the honorable and learned senator’s estimate of revenue was most unreliable. I do not wish to go into the figures in connexion with this matter because we cannot rely upon them. But I take the opinion of practical people interested in the trade. The Chambers of Commerce of Launceston and Hobart, and the commercial societies are unanimous in the opinion that a protective duty of 25 per cent, upon these goods will mean that there will be no revenue derived from them in Tasmania. The position I took up upon the second reading of the Tariff Bill, and which I desire to emphasize now, was that there was no reason why the smaller States should not be considered in this matter. From my point of view a duty of 20 per cent, is too high, and 15 per cent, would be better, but 20 per cent, is in the nature of a compromise, and it will allow of a large profit to the manufacturer. The fact that the industry has beencarried on in New South Wales extensively without a protective duty shows that it cannot be urged that such a duty is necessary to its existence. I do not believe that the proposal now made, if carried, will cause the dismissal of a single employe, and the whole of that kind of talk I may perhaps stigmatize as “ claptrap.” I do not believe that we shall be injuring the revenue or injuring a single worker by securing this very moderate reduction upon a highly protective duty.
– I hope sincerely that the committee will not reduce this duty. We have been told that we who are in favour of protective duties do not study the poor consumers ; but, looking at the matter broadly, I think it can be shown that we study them quite as much as honorable senators on the other side. Our aim is to find work for the people of Australia ; while the aim of honorable senators opposite is to secure greater importations. Surely their only reason for seeking to reduce duties is to encourage importation, and to the extent to which we encourage importation we shall discourage local manufacture. Senator Symon, with his all pervading wisdom, smiles, but that is such a simple proposition that it must be apparent to any one. There are only a certain number of people in Australia, and they can consume only a certain quantity of goods, and does it not stand to reason that the more of those goods that are imported the less will require to be made in Australia.
– What does the honorable senator think would be fair protection?
– Seeing that we have imposed a duty of 15 per cent, on the raw material, I think that a duty of 25 per cent, is a fair duty to impose upon the manufactured article. On this item again we have the never-ending contention between free-traders - who I think might more happily be called foreign traders - and protectionists. The foreign traders desire to increase importations, and the protectionists desire that a larger proportion of Australian requirements shall be supplied by the Australian people. We wish to afford more employment to the people of Australia, who are the consumers, and therefore the consumers, about whom Senator Macfarlane is so anxious, will be in a better position under the policy supported by honorable senators on this side than under the policy which the friends of the importers are so anxious to carry out.
– What proportion of the consumers will benefit ?
– A certain proportion will benefit in connexion with every item on the Tariff, but if Senator Matheson had his way he would destroy all the protective benefit of the Tariff. He would consider only the importing industry, and would have nothing made in Australia.
– Is it better that the people should shiver in the cold during the winter ?
– It is not, but, if honorable’ members opposite had their way, many of our people would not only shiver in the cold, but would go hungry at the same time, because there would be no work for them at which they could earn a living. I believe that the majority of the people of Australia are anxious to see a fair measure of protection afforded to local industries under this Tariff, which I hope will not be disturbed for a year or two. If we do not give that fair measure of protection, the effect must be to decrease the amount of work available to our people. Senator Macfarlane said something about the Chambers of Commerce in Tasmania. I do not think there is a more earnest member of the Senate than that honorable senator. I am quite sure he thinks he will be doing right if he follows the advice of the Chambers of Commerce. But I would ask him - Who are the gentlemen who constitute the Chambers of Commerce in Tasmania, as well as in other parts of Australia ? The Chambers of Commerce, in most instances, simply mean a few importers banded together.
– And manufacturers as well.
– In Tasmania, at all events, a large proportion of the gentlemen constituting the .Chambers of Commerce are more deeply interested in importations than in manufactures. If the Chambers of Commerce in Australia could induce the Federal Parliament to make the duties proposed much lower, it is highly probable that it would result in very much more profit going into the pockets of the gentlemen constituting those bodies. It will be generally admitted that they are not nearly so much interested in the internal trade as in the external trade of the country. Senator Pearce this afternoon, in his earnest speech, put the facts, from -his point of view, clearly .and well. He made many references to the wages boards in Victoria, and desired to convey the impression that sweating was so rampant in Victoria that it was necessary to call those boards into existence. The honorable senator tried to show that a high Tariff would not bring about high wages any more than a low Tariff. It is not generally argued by people who believe in a protective Tariff that it does bring about high wages. But even Senator Pearce will acknowledge that the operatives in any protected trade in a country the greater proportion of whose requirements are locally supplied have a better chance of getting high wages than those in a country in which there are fewer operatives, and .which’ depends largely for its requirements upon importations. A country only wants a certain quantity of goods in any line, and the larger its importations of those goods, the smaller the. quantity of them it is necessary to manufacture in the country itself. I say that in the Australian States the operatives engaged in the clothing trade will have a far better chance of getting fair wages, and of getting the new protection - protection to the employe as well as to the employer - if local manufactures are encouraged, than they will if we increase our importation, and discourage local manufactures. Senator Symon himself must admit that the larger the volume of our importations, the smaller will be the volume of local manufactures.
– I do not admit it at all.
– If the honorable and learned senator will not admit that, I must give him up as a hopeless case. My contention is that the greater the number of people employed in any trade in Australia, the greater will be the chance which they will have of getting the benefit of the new protection - fair wages for the employe as well as the employer. I trust that the duty upon apparel will be allowed to remain as it is.
– Senator O’Keefe has made some most astounding assertions in his speech. He has stated that in a country with many operatives and a high Tariff there is a better chance of getting high wages than in a country with a low Tariff and reduced employment. What is the condition in America - ti country with a high protective Tariff, and many operatives ? The Jewish Chronicle of 23rd July, 1897, says :-
The outside price received by the tailors of New York for making a coat is 46 cents (ls. Hd. ) ; vests, 22 cents (Hd.) ; trousers, 27 cents (13&d.) i ; overcoats, 50 cents (2s. Id.) ; but a whole suit has sometimes to be made for 60 cents, or in English money, 2s. Od.
Day after clay, and far into each night, they toil in their stifling rooms, bending over their work until strained muscles and tortured nerves refuse to endure longer. Then they drop into beds of rags to sleep a few hours and rise to toil again ; not quite, but almost naked ; not quite, but almost starved.
That is the condition in which Senator O’Keefe solemnly suggests that we shall plunge the operatives of Australia.
– I did nothing of the kind. I leave it to the committee to say whether I said anything which could be construed to mean that I would like to bring operatives into that condition.
– I did not state that the honorable senator said he would like to do so, but that this was the fate which he was preparing for the operatives of Australia. If, as Senator Symon has said, any logical conclusion can be drawn from my honorable friend’s remarks, it is that in a country where there are many operatives, and a high Tariff, there is a better chance of getting high wages. In America, however, the result is entirety different from what Senator O’Keefe would like us to believe will be the result. He is highly intelligent, and thoroughly well posted in economic facts relating to the old world, and yet we find him endeavouring to impose upon the committee theories which he is perfectly well aware have no substantial basis. What did Mr. Burnett, Chief Inspector of Labour under the Board of Trade, say on his return , from a tour of inspection in the United j States, in 1S941 He reported as follows -
The condition of the work-shops in the clothing trade in New York appears to be worse than , that of the East London work-shops, before the reforms subsequent to the Lords’ Committee on the sweating system “
Senator Higgs omitted to state in his speech that as the result of that investigation by the House of Lords’ Committee, very great reforms have been effected in England, and that the state of affairs which he so boldly pointed out to the committee does not exist to anything like the extent it did. The comparisons he drew between the condition of sweating then prevalent in England and that in Australia have no parallel at the present time, and his arguments were absolutely useless. The people of Victoria are perfectly well aware, as Senator O’Keefe is, that protection has not brought about that improvement of wages which he pretends will necessarily follow. In a column of the Age of 1900 I find a detailed report of a meeting at the Trades’ Hall of delegates from some 30 Victorian trades, under such headings as “ Long hours - Low wages,” “ Some further revelations,” and “ Victorian wage slaves.” I do not intend to go through the statements - which are simply appalling - made by the- delegates of the working men. I shall content myself by quoting a summary in these words -
These fair samples of this authentic document relating to the present condition of large classes of the Victorian workers are not likely to impel New South Wales wage-earners to seek enrich* ment for themselves by paying taxes to -protect employers. Thirty separate trades with the same story of slave work by boys, girls, and women, low wages, and long hours of labour, after 30 years of protection !
That, I submit, is what we may reasonably expect if the desire of the Government for exorbitant protective rates is encouraged.
– I do not know whether I should have taken part in this debate but for one or two speeches which have been made, especially the last one, because a good many of the statistics I intended to give ‘ have been quoted by Senator Styles. We have just been entertained by Senator Matheson with some quotations from the scrap-book which has been so frequently quoted by honorable senators on the other side to bolster up or attempt to prove their conclusions. I protest against honorable senators picking out a few lines from a leading article or from a speech by an advocate of protection, and trying to fasten upon the writer or the speaker something which the context proves that he did not intend to convey. Senator Symon or Senator Matheson would feel himself very much aggrieved if I were to quote a portion of his speech and try to draw a conclusion therefrom. Senator Matheson, like everyone else, knows that the quotations in this scrap-book are decidedly unfair. They in no way help us to form a conclusion, and they are wrong as regards the persons on whose behalf they seem to be quoted. We have had the spectacle of several honorable senators being very anxious about the taxation that is imposed on the workers. So far as I know, they have not yet done anything to help the great masses of the people. The honorable and learned senator’s opinions regarding industrial legislation are, I think, pretty well known, and I believe I am correct in saying that he has never assisted the great bulk of the working people of this country.
– The honorable senator is quite mistaken in making such a statement.
– I deny that the honorable and learned senator has a mandate to speak here in the name of the working classes of Australia. There are some honorable senators, including myself, who are entitled to speak on their behalf. Honorable senators on the other side have no right, as their actions in the past prove, to speak about the working classes as they have done. They care very little for the interests of the great masses of the people so far as work and wages are concerned. On this occasion Senator Pearce is in very bad company. His position cannot be defended, and I am sorry to see him in his present company. The statement has been made that protectionists assert that protection gives high wages. I have never heard of any representative protectionist making such a claim. What protectionists say is that by protecting ourselves against the sweated conditions prevailing in other countries in regard to the manufacture of such goods as apparel, we keep our own market for ourselves, and enable our work people, by combination among themselves, to secure the rate of wages they desire. I pointed out last Friday that a firm in the old country was prepared to land clothes in this country and sell them at 10s. 6d. per suit. A sample was exhibited. Does Senator Pearce wish our workers to compete against goods of that kind ?
What sort of wage would they be able to obtain if they were obliged to do so ?
– Do not forget what Senator Millen said about similar suits being sold here for 14s. 6d.
–I challenged Senator Millen to produce evidence in support of that statement, and the challenge is still open. If he can prove it, I am willing to acknowledge that I am wrong. Senator Pearce quoted from the Victorian Tariff Board’s report the evidence of Mr. Wing, secretary of the Tailoresses’ Union. Mr. Wing is a gentleman whom I have known for the last 25 years. But Senator Pearce did not acquaint the committee with an important fact, namely, that Mr. Wing’s statement was made before we had a wages board in connexion with the clothing trade.
– I stated that the evidence was given in 1895.
– I make the correction because I wish the statement to go forth to the world that the evidence quoted by Senator Pearce had no particular bearing upon the argument he was presenting. He has quoted various witnesses, but, strange to say, the balance of testimony of the very witnesses he cites is not in favour of the line of argument which he presented to the committee. He takes an isolated case here and there, but as the VicePresident of the Executive Council pointed out, some of the witnesses quoted are importers as well as manufacturers, and they were wishful to bolster up the importing industry. For instance, the manager of the Mutual Store wished to bolster up the importers’ side of the case by damning protection in a faint way.
– But what about the report of the board ?
– Did not I tell the honorable senator last week that the board was divided in its opinion? Did I not tell him that the protectionist section of the board refused to sign the report, and repudiated it upon the floor of the Legislative Assembly in 1895 ?
– But the majority signed it.
– The majority may have signed it. .
– Did the chairman sign it ?
– Certainly he did.
– He was a strong protectionist.
– I take leave to say that in my opinion the late Mr. A. L. Tucker was not a strong protectionist. If the honorable and learned senator will read up the debate which took place in 1S95, and particularly the report of the late Mr. Tucker’s speech, as I have done recently lie will see that the statement I am now making is perfectly justified, and that Mr. Tucker certainly was not a protectionist in the sense that I understand the word. At any -rate he recanted his views on the floor of the House, much to the astonishment of his protectionist friends. During the debate the old argument has been presented that there is no reason for protecting our manufacturers against the manufacturers of goods in other parts of the world. But it is plain that if we lower the duty, and do not protect ourselves against foreign protection, the result, as foreshadowed by Senator O’Connor, must be that our own people will be idle and walking about the streets for want of employment. Honorable senators have spoken this afternoon about giving the masses of the people warm and cheap clothing.
– Does the honorable senator scorn that?
– Senator Symon knows that I do not, but I will tell him what he and his friends will do if their policy succeeds. If they lower this duty, and give a margin of only 5 per cent., the people of this Commonwealth will have no clothes and no food, and no money in their pockets with which to buy themselves food and clothing.
– That has not been the case in New South Wales.
– I am tired of hearing that this and that is not the case in New South Wales. The honorable and learned senator and his friends are continually raising the parrot cry, “ It has not been so in New South Wales.” One would think that New South Wales was a beautiful paradise so far as life on earth was concerned. But does not Senator Gould know that recent legislation has given to the working classes of New South Wales an arbitration court to settle industrial disputes, and to put down sweating and low wages ? For the next twelve months that board will be actively engaged in remedying the state of affairs which exists in New South
Wales in common with other countries. Certainly, the honorable and learned senator is a representative of New South Wales, but I know far more of its industrial conditions than ever he knew. The history of the next twelve months will prove my assertion that there are evils associated with the clothing trade in New South Wales, just as there are in connexion with the trade in Victoria or anywhere else. It is only by the combination of the working men that evils of this kind can be avoided. I agree with honorable senators opposite that the manufacturers in Australia and elsewhere have not done the right thing by their workmen, and that is why we are eternally fighting to obtain better conditions. If we lower this duty, and leave an insignificant margin of 5 per cent, between the duties on piece-goods and the manufactured article, instead of our manufactories being in a flourishing condition we shall have our workmen reduced to a condition which we do not desire. For these reasons I shall vote against the motion.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - I rise to make an admission and an explanation to Senator O’Keefe in reference to some remarks which he made. The admission is that if every man, woman, and child in Victoria wore only one suit of clothes in a year, and that suit was imported, it would not be necessary for those’ goods to be made here, but there would be need for tailors to repair them before the year was out. The explanation I wish to make is this : My honorable friend said that he would be satisfied with a 10 per cent, margin. Does he know that that would give a protection of about 49£ per cent. 1 We have been talking about a. margin for the sake of convenience, because the Government, no doubt after full consideration, considered that a 5 per cent, margin would be sufficient. They accordingly proposed a duty of 25 per cent, on made-up apparel, and a duty of 20 per cent, on the material - piece goods - leaving a margin of 5 per cent., knowing that that would represent about 33 per cent, of protection. The duty is upon the finished article, including the cloth of which it is composed. It is proposed now to allow the maker-up of these articles a margin of 10 per cent., not only upon what he pays in wages - and we are anxious to see wages kept up - but upon the piece goods on which he bestows no labour whatever. If we take ^100 worth of cloth, and assume that it can °e made up into £150 worth of clothing, we have to add 33 per cent., in respect Of labour and other incidentals. Of course the cloth might make up more or less. But in regard to the £150 worth of madeup clothing the duty as upon the whole thing represents, plus the ordinary 10 per cent., £41 5s. The duty on the cloth valued at £100 is £16 10s., leaving a protection of £24 15s., which is 49 h per cent, protection on the £50 which represents the whole expenditure of the maker of these articles. If the original Government proposal of a 5 per cent, margin, which I now adopt, is carried, we shall get 20 per cent., plus the 10 per cent, duty on the £150 worth of goods, and, with the duty on the cloth at £16 10s., a protection is left of £16 10s., or equal to 33 per cent, upon the whole expenditure of the manufacturer whom it is desired to protect. We have already protected the mill -owner ; we now want to protect the manufacturer of the made-up article. All his wages and other expenses are embraced in the £50. His protection is 25 per cent, on the made-up article, including the material which is protected to the extent of 15 per cent. From these figures my honorable friend will see that if he accepts a margin of 5 per cent, he will vote for what is a handsome protection for those who make up the protected material into attire.
– The contention of both parties in the committee is that, they are anxious to protect the great mass of the people. Honorable senators opposite desire that the duty shall be reduced by 5 per cent, in order to give the masses cheap clothing. We on this side say that a duty of 25 per cent, is a reasonably protective one to impose, so that the masses of the people may be benefited and have some means of employment in order to earn sufficient to keep themselves and their families, not only in clothing but in food. Some most astounding contentions have been put forward this afternoon as to the position of people in protected countries in comparison with those living in freetrade countries. Senator Matheson has quoted a statement in a Jewish journal as to the deplorable condition of the tailors in the United States of America, as well as the masses of the people there. I should like to know the date of that newspaper. 39 n
Is that statement put forward as a comparison with the condition of the tailors and tailoresses in free-trade England ?
– I did not draw that comparison.
– Does the honorable sen’ator contend that the tailors and tailoresses of America are paid less than those in England ? He quoted from a report by Mr. John Burnett, secretary to the labour bureau of the Board of Trade - with whom I was acquainted and associated at one time - in reference to the conditions of labour in America in 1S94. Does he know that there was a period of depression in the United States of America during 1893 and 1894, and that that depression was brought about by a reversal of the protectionist policy by President Cleveland, who was a free-trader 1
– That is the honorable senator’s personal opinion, and it is not borne out by the facts.
– It is no mere personal opinion. I was in America at the close of 1S93, and formed my opinion of the conditions of labour there, not from the perusal of scraps from Jewish newspapers, but from an investigation of them in many towns and States there. The departure from the protectionist regime of President Harrison to the partial free-trade of the Cleveland administration was disastrous to the best interests of that country, and caused the prosperity which had prevailed prior to the adoption of the free-trade policy to be superseded by a period of depression. Senator Macfarlane told us that high duties do not mean encouragement to manufacturers. I .think they do. What is the object of imposing high duties 1 In some instances they are necessary to obtain revenue, and they are imposed also for the purpose of protecting not merely the manufacturers, but the labourers engaged in the various industries of -the country. Notwithstanding all that has been said concerning that paradise of the working man, New South Wales, I say, as one who is no merely casual observer of the conditions of labour, that those conditions in protected Victoria are infinitely better than the conditions of labour in free-trade New South Wales. Senator Macfarlane also told us that if we lower this duty we shall get more revenue in the smaller States. Let me tell the honorable senator that in Queensland, a number of years ago, we had a fluty of 7½ per cent, upon apparel. It was increased to 10 cent., then it was lowered to 5 per cent, as an experiment, and finally it was raised to 25 per cent., the rate at which it stood for the last few years. Why was the duty raised to 25 per cent, in Queensland ? It was for the ‘ purpose of protecting the people engaged in the making of apparel. That duty has been found to work so satisfactorily that I strongly protest against its reduction, first and foremost in the interests of the people employed in the industry, and secondly, because a reduction of the duty will mean a reduction of our revenue. In 1899-1900, Queensland derived a revenue of nearly £37,000 from apparel. Honorable senators opposite propose to reduce that, and at the same time jeopardize the interests of the persons engaged in the industry by bringing the locally-made article into competition with apparel imported from countries where labour is exceedingly cheap, and where the conditions of labour are not up to our standard. Our experience in Queensland is that a duty lower than 25 per cent, will not be sufficient protection for those engaged in the industry locally, and they must suffer if this duty is lowered. I again ask my free-trade friends on the other side to have some little consideration for the industries of Australia, and some consideration for the interests of the smaller States. Senator Macfarlane claims to be anxious about the interests of the smaller States, but the honorable senator proposes to adopt a very peculiar method for preserving their revenues, a method which will mean a loss of revenue to Queensland to the extent of £8,000 or £9,000 a year. I hope the proposed reduction of the duty will not be agreed to, and I shall vote against the motion, as I shall vote against all similar proposals.
– I have kept as quiet as I possibly could this afternoon, and have taken the advice of some of our friends who have accused us of wasting time; but when I find that the leader of the Opposition had so little consideration for the interests of the public as to make two lengthy speeches on this subject already, I think I am not justified in remaining silent any longer. What is the object of the Opposition in reducing this duty on apparel from 25 to 20 per cent.? The only object I can recognise in the proposal is the gratification of the desire, where they possibly can, to alter the Tariff in orderthat they may be able to say - “ We have done something.” Some of them have said, and it has been said on their behalf by newspapers claiming to represent their views - “ Wait until suchandsuch a tame, and we shall let the Government see what we are going to do.” They propose to reduce the duty by 5 per cent, for the purpose, as they tell us, of giving the vast number of consumers in the Commonwealth the benefit of cheaper clothing. Yet it has been continually and conclusively proved that where duties are of a protective character their reduction below a certain point has never had that effect. When honorable senators opposite are taxed with intending to decrease the opportunities for employment of the people, they tell us that they do not want to do anything of the kind. The leader of the Opposition very ingeniously replies to the Government that if it were a fact that the 4,000,000 of people in the Commonwealth only wore one suit of clothes a year, there might be some logic in the statements made; and to keep that one suit in repair there would need to be a very large army of tailors and people of that description. That is the kind of logic with which arguments, statistics, and figures that cannot be controverted have been met.
– I intend to oppose the motion. There is much more involved in this question than the mere raising of so much revenue. Although that of itself is very important, yet I think that in a young community it ought to be the ambition of every citizen to establish as many industries as possible. I have always tried to keep that point before me. I was both surprised and amused at the passion of Senator Pearce’s address. He set out to tell us what a dreadful failure protection had been in Victoria, how sweating was rampant under it, as if we did not know that. Every honorable senator who has studied the position of labour under both systems knows perfectly well that it is just as well or as ill paid in protectionist countries as in free-trade countries. While the United States is a protectionist country, it protects only the capitalist. In this Tariff we propose to protect, not only the capitalist, but the worker. We have the sheep, the wool, and the people, and we wish to employ our people and to establish as many industries native to the soil as we possibly can. My ambition is that every Australian man and woman should be clothed in the pure product of the Australian sheep, woven and manufactured by the people of the country. That, I believe, is also the goal of the protectionist party throughout the continent, and having put its hand to the plough, I hope that it will never draw back until its object is achieved. Senator Pearce harried our feelings with his description of labour in protectionist Victoria, but he did not say a word about New South Wales. In Sydney, the condition of the employes in the tailoring trade was so bad recently that the tailoresses almost broke out in riot. They held mass meetings - a tiling which, I believe, had never been done before by women - and in that way brought forward their grievances so prominently that the force of public opinion compelled Parliament to pass an Arbitration and Conciliation Act. If labour in New South Wales were in the happy condition we were asked to infer, why were those meetings held ? Why was there that tremendous impulse infavour of the passing of an Arbitration and Conciliation Act ? Senator Symon interjected that if we had free-trade there would be no need of wages boards and Arbitration and Conciliation Acts. He spoke in jest, but it was one of the truest remarks he ever uttered. It is absolutely useless to call in a doctor to a man after he is dead. Arbitration courts, wages boards, and like institutions would be utterly without value in Australia if the policy of the free-trade party were carried out. We know that in both New South Wales and Victoria there has been sweating, but we also know that while protection at one time in Victoria was only good to the capitalist, of late it has also been good to the workman, and to that idea the name of scientific protection has been given. Honorable senators who argue from the basis that protection is a failure because in several countries it has not benefited the working man would be equally logical if they said that they could not cut with only one blade of a scissors. If you protect the capitalist alone, it is a lop-sided protection. An arch with only one side built up is likely to break down at any moment, but if you build the two sides and insert the keystone, then you can pass over the arch. If you establish this scientific protection you will have a policy which will protect the capitalist, give employment to native labour, strengthen the country, and confer benefit all round. I have not been able to get any light or leading from any of the speeches from the opposite side. These honorable senators profess the utmost regard for Australian people and Australian industry. They would like to see them grow up and flourish everywhere, but professions of friendship are about the cheapest things imaginable. We require something more than declarations of good will. We desire to see a policy established which will help industries to grow up in our midst. I think it has been abundantly proved that without some measure of protection it would be impossible to establish the clothing industry on such a basis as would give to the employes a living wage. Of course, Senator Gould will tell us that in New South Wales they did establish the industry. It was a disgrace to them after it was established. What sort of an industry is it that gives 5d. for making a pair of trousers ? Some firms give 4½d. per pair for making trousers with raised seams, and4d. a pair for making trousers with plain seams, and 10s. per week for finishing 60 pairs of trousers, and in many cases the finishers are paid only from 7s. 6d. to 10s. per week. Nowonder that the first time I set my feet in Sydney my soul revolted against it. It seemed to me as if by some magical influence I had been transported to one of the dirty manufacturing cities of the old country. The place actually smelt. My usual custom when I go to a city is not to visit Government-house and all the palatial buildings in that location, but to search out the meanest and lowest places. I did that in Sydney, and I saw scenes that rather surprised me. When. I find a representative of that great city with the beautiful harbor glorying in industries like this one, which gives the miserable, beggarly wages I have quoted, I am not a bit surprised at anything that may turn up in the way of slums. I must do justice to Melbourne, whatever its demerits may be. I searched here just as closely as I did in Sydney, and I failed to find anything like the same amount of degradation here as I did there. I do not know whether protection has or has not anything to do with it ; but I think that this rule must hold good, that if you compel your people to enter into competition with the low-paid people of other countries, you must reduce them to a similar position. From that conclusion there is no escape that I can see. Suppose that we reduce the duty on this line as proposed by Senator Gould, we shall, as honorable senators urge, increase importation. If it is increased it means less employment for the people who are here, and if it is not increased it means that an additional scourge is being applied to the backs of the workers. Senator G ould says that the clothing industry has been established in New South Wales. I have tried to show what kind of an industry it is. It will be asked, “ Why do the people engage in it if it is so bad ? “ But in a place like Sydney, where there is a large natural increase of the population, a vast number of young men and women are growing up who must find employment ; and if they can only obtain work at a remuneration sufficient to keep body and soul together, they are compelled to accept it. That is the reason why, in the face of circumstances which would otherwise have operated against the establishment of the industry, it has been possible for it to exist in Sydney. But we do not desire that our working people should be reduced to a condition similar to that which exists in the old country. Those of us who sit on this side of the Chamber are prepared to take every possible step to prevent even the bare possibility of such an occurrence. Several honorable senators have had nothing but an Australian experience. They do not know of the condition of the working population in other portions of the world. I had the good, or ill, fortune - perhaps it is a blend of both, because it has given me opportunities of seeing the two sides of the shield - to be born in a country where labour is in a far worse condition than it is in Australia, a country where the great mass of the working population live under conditions in comparison with which the conditions of the working population of Australia seem like paradise. People who have been born and nurtured here, and have none but an Australian experience, are absolutely ignorant of the circumstances of labour in the older countries of the world, and some honorable senators who do know of those circumstances seem to have allowed their experience to pass out of their minds completely, and to have no influence upon their legislative action. I find that one firm in Sydney pays only 2s. Sd. per suit for the manufacture of Government clothing. Before the wages boards were established in Victoria there was no doubt a perfectly disgraceful conditions of things here ; but that cannot be attributed to protection. The competition of worker with worker always tends to reduce the price of labour, and J something else is required to bring things to their proper bearings. That something else we propose to supply by means of this Tariff. There is another reason why we should try to keep out foreign products as much as possible. Those who have studied the conditions under which clothing is manufactured in London, for instance, are aware that those places are very hot-beds of disease. It is quite possible for various diseases to be carried from Europe to Australia in clothing. That is a danger against which we are justified in defending ourselves. From the point of view of national vigour and health alone I appeal to honorable senators to encourage as little as possible the importation of foreign-made clothing. We can control the circumstances surrounding the manufacture of these goods in Australia. We can compel the work to be done in open factories, under the supervision of officers of the law, and in such a way as to guard against the communication of disease in this fashion. But when goods are introduced from abroad we are absolutely helpless. We are told that we do not consider the wearers of clothing, and that our trouble is merely about the makers of it. I represent more wearers of clothing than makers, and I can assure the committee that I am considering the wearers. The country producer has been assisted in many ways. How many millions of pounds have been poured into the lap of the squatter in the past1? In every State of the union the farmers also are being assisted. The pastoralist and the miner likewise have received assistance directly or indirectly. I claim that those industries, being now the basic industries of Australia, are in the position of being the elder brothers of the younger industries ; and as they have been assisted in the past, it is their duty now to assist other industries which are growing up. I have never heard a country producer or consumer complaining of this policy. The wearer of clothing is not such an absolute idiot as some people would try to make him out to be. He knows perfectly well that if employment is not found for the young people in other occupations than exist in the country districts, they will enter into competition ‘with the producer, and thus inevitably bring about a reduction in wages. The producers are quite prepared to contribute something towards the building up of other industries so that the pressure upon the employment in which the)’ are more immediately engaged may be to a certain extent relieved. I am glad to think that an ever increasing number of country producers look upon this question from a national point of view. They say - “ Why should we grow wool here, send it to England to be woven, brought back again, and sold in suits of clothing half a crown or three shillings cheaper than the price would be if the whole of the work were done in Australia 1” The folly of that policy is appealing more and more to the great mass of the Australian electors ; and Senator Symon, who has captained the free-trade cause in this Chamber with so much assiduity and ability, will, before many years are past, find himself high and dry, one of the last representatives of a fast dying cause. I am exceedingly sorry for the position in which he is placed - but I have not the slightest doubt that when he sees how the wind is blowing and the ebb is flowing, he will be found not upon the sands, but swimming along beautifully with the rest of us. I have1 now given the reasons why I cannot support the policy of the Opposition. I should be very glad to give them an occasional vote if I could, but their policy seems to be one which is so likely to produce injury to the community, and so much opposed to my ideas of progress, that I cannot see mv way to support them.
Senator McGREGOR (South Australia). - -I am sorry that other business prevented me from being present when the committee resumed, because I had a little more to say upon this question, and particularly in reply to some assertions made by Senator Symon. That honorable and learned senator has come so far down from the lofty pedestal on which he places himself as to say that he is willing to give some little protection to the industrial classes of Australia. He has argued to-day that under the duty as it stands the clothing industry will have a protection of something like 50 per cent. I am puzzled to know how he arrives at that conclusion. He is always making statements of this kind, and always denying them when taxed with them. I hope, there: fore, that he will not deny that he said that the protection in this case would be 49J per cent., or about 50 per cent. I have thought over this question for years. If, as proposed by the Government, we grant a protection of 25 per cent, to our manufacturers of the finished article of clothing, and they have to compete with the manufacturers and operatives in other parts of the world, that will amount to a preference in favour of our people of 25 per cent., plus the expenses of bringing the imported article here. We have already imposed a duty of 15 per cent, on the greater portion of the material used in the manufacture of clothing in the Commonwealth. Senator Symon went into an elaborate argument to show that, if £100 worth of goods were imported, the manufacturer who made them up here would increase their value by only £50, and thus bring up the total value to £150. Assuming that a manufacturer introduces that value of goods, and. assuming, according to Senator Symon’s continual argument, that he has to pay the duty of 15 per cent, if the goods are manufactured here, what is the result ? Fifteen per cent, on the raw material means a total of 10 per cent, on the £150 worth, which the manufacturer has to pay away. Therefore, the protection of 25 per cent, is reduced to 15 per cent. Is that an unreasonable amount of protection? I know that Senator Symon will not say that it is. That is the only protection which the manufacturer receives under the Tariff. But Senator Symon says that the cost of bringing the manufactured article here ranges from 7^ to 17- per cent. If we take the cost at 7-£ per cent., it gives us a total protection of 22£ per cent. Is that an unreasonable amount of protection to afford ? Is the honorable and learned senator going to refuse the thousands of operatives in Australia the very bread and butter that they are getting from this industry for the sake of a protection of 22£ per cent. ? He has said, however, that the cost of bringing the manufactured article here may amount to 17- per cent., I desire to show the absurdity of some of the statements made by honorable senators of the Opposition, although there are not many here when we wish to tell them something. What is the weight of the trousers worn by Senator Symon? The quantity of material used in an ordinary pair of trousers is 2 J- yards, but we will allow 3 yards for the production of a pair of pants for the honorable and learned senator. I find that serge or tweed of good quality weighs from about 12 to 14 oz. per yard. Therefore, allowing for the weight of the buttons and the finishing material, the honorable and learned senator’s trousers would not weigh 3 lbs. I have stated before that 11 lbs. weight of goods can be brought from Great Britain to Australia through the post for 6s. Therefore, four pairs of trousers can be brought by post from Great Britain to Australia at a cost of not more than ls. 6d. per pair. In view of these facts, where are we to look for the extraordinary expenses which, according to Senator Sargood, are incurred by importers in importing these goods? It would be far better for the people of Australia to bring by post articles of this kind which they require from England or Germany, than to go to Senator Sargood’s emporium for them. I put this argument before the committee, only to show the ridiculousness of some of the statements which are made with respect to what is called the natural protection. A pair of trousers, costing from 10s. to 15s., could be brought here by post for ls. 6d., yet Senator Symon talks about 50 per cent, of incidental protection. According to these calculations, the local manufacturer of clothing will receive under this Tariff not one penny more than 22£ per cent, of protection, and really I do not believe that some honorable senators know the meaning of statements sometimes made by them. Senator Matheson has told us of the horrible condition of affairs that exists in connexion with the clothing trade in New York. We know that in very large cities there may be a congestion of trade and other difficulties at certain periods in connexion with the clothing and every other industry. But some honorable senators of the. Opposition are always looking for proof. They do not believe in figures ; they want facts, and I intend to give them facts. Senator Matheson has compared the position of the workers in this trade in New York with that of the workers in Great Britain. How is it that the people of Great Britain, who are so well off, are flocking to America by hundreds and thousands every year? Operatives in the clothing trade go there, but not for the purpose of spending the enormous amount of money they make in Great Britain. Do we see any tide of emigration from America to Great Britain, where such favorable conditions prevail ? People belonging to the working classes who have emigrated from Great Britain to America, and have never risen above the working classes, often go back to Great Britain in order to spend a two or three months’ holiday in their native land. I have met them myself, and what I state is a fact. When we find that instead of emigration from America to Great Britain taking place it is the other way about, and when we find that mechanics and operatives and trades-people go from America to Great Britain to spend a few months’ holiday, and that it is impossible for people engaging in the same industries in Great Britain to go to America for the same purpose, it is idle for Senator Matheson to present to the committee arguments of the description I have referred to in order to influence honorable senators. It has been said by Senator Pearce that protection can never raise wages. On the other hand it has-been admitted by Senator Stewart that no protectionist claims that protection in itself has ever raised wages ; but it has made it possible for wages to be raised. So far as those connected with the clothing trade are concerned, if we import everything from Great Britain they will have no work to do here, and it will be impossible for them to receive any wages, either high or low. But if we prevent the competition of older parts of the world, and of those who live under degrading conditions, from operating in Australia, do we not give the people here an opportunity to find employment ? If we, who have the control of the affairs of the Commonwealth, fail to see that our workers have fair conditions when the manufacturers receive that protection, the fault rests with us. If we do not give the employers that, protection, we can have no excuse for protecting the workers, because there will be no work for them to do. I hope honorable senators will take a rational view of the whole subject, and that they will consider, amongst other things, that disease may be introduced into Australia with clothing manufactured under filthy conditions in the old country. I trust they will be found voting for protection to our own industry to the small extent of 25 per cent.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - Honorable senators representing New South Wales have claimed that under the free-trade policy of that State it has not been found necessary to have anything like the “Victorian legislation to protect the interests of persons engaged in the clothing and other trades, but I find that in New South Wales they have a considerable amount of legislation dealing with employes in the clothing trade and in other occupations. They have an Act called the Operatives Act of 1S94. They have the Factories and Shops Act of 1896, and the Arbitration and Conciliation Act and the Early Closing Act of 1899. In a report upon the working of the Factories and Shops Act and the Arbitration and Conciliation Act during the year 1899, I find that the New South “Wales Inspector of Factories makes the following remarks : -
Each year of administration of the Factories and. Shops Act shows more emphatically the necessity for amendment being made in the present ineffectual provisions with regard to the hours of labour for women. As the Act now stands, the limitation is so vague, and the opportunities for evasion, as well as the temptation to evade, so great, that time after time the department is put in the unfair position of being morally certain that the Act is being evaded, una yet, by the tacit collusion of the employer and employed, unable to secure a case that will stand the test of police court proceedings. As I have stated before, and now reiterate, it is unjust to place any woman in such a position that she must make an election between telling the whole truth frankly and being dismissed from the factory - thus becoming more or less marked in the eyes of other employers - or evading the truth in order to retain her means of livelihood. Yet that is what in plain language it means. Time after time letters are written to the department, signed by the familiar “Lover of Justice,” or “ One of the “Victims,” about women being worked for excessive hours in certain factories. Inspectors are sent at all hours of the day and night to detect these reported abuses. In some cases they are successful and prosecute, with the result that the unfortunate person whose interests the Act is supposed to guard is put in the witness-box to swear away ner means of livelihood. The employer probably escapes with such a penalty as magistrates appear to regard as adequate punishment for this class of offence, and thus the matter ends. … In .New South Wales it is possible for a woman to be worked continuously for 48 hours with breaks only for meals. Our Factory Act contains nothing to prevent it.
That is in free-trade New South Wales. Honorable senators like Senator Pearce have said that it is claimed that a duty of 25 per cent, on these goods will maintain the high standard of wages. If that is so, what about the free-trade claim - that, if we lower the duty, the women workers in New South Wales will get high wages 1
– I do not say there will. I did not claim that for free-trade.
– No ; but the honorable senator has said that we protectionists claim that protection will secure high wages, and he knows that there is no more soundness in that contention than there would be in my contention if I said that Senator Pearce, being a free-trader, claims that free-trade will keep up wages in New South Wales and in every free-trade State. We find sweated workers in New South Wales, and legislation has had to be introduced in the endeavour to prevent sweating. We find that there was sweating in Victoria before the advent of the Anti-Sweating Society and their sensible legislation. We may find, even in Queensland, where there is a Factories Act, that there is a good deal of sweating in the clothing trade. It will no doubt be prevented later on when the people of that State succeed in getting an improved Factories Act, but it will not be prevented if Senator Symon and his followers get their wa)’ in reducing the proposed duty upon imported apparel. This is a matter in connexion with which honorable senators who aN not strong for either free-trade or protection, may well cast their votes in favour of the thousands of workers who are engaged in these industries throughout the Commonwealth. As has been pointed out by one of the newspapers during this week, honorable senators should be willing to pay a certain price for the making of an Australian nation. Senator Neild told us the other evening that New South “Wales had given up her policy for the sake of coming into the Federation. If that be so she must be willing to pay this price of 25 per cent, upon imported apparel. I have no doubt that men like Senator Symon cannot be expected to give way, but we may ask those who are not so cold hearted and soulless as the average free-trader, who believes in buying in the cheapest and selling in the dearest market - we may ask those whose mission primarily is to lighten the lot of the working classes to vote with us upon this occasion.
– This is one of the very few items in connexion with which Western Australia may receive some direct advantage from the protection proposed, and I must, therefore, support the proposal of the Government. I am prepared to support this proposal as a trade unionist, and not merely as a protectionist, because I can tell honorable senators that on the gold-fields of Western Australia we found it necessary to take measures to protect ourselves against sweated goods made in Perth, the district from which Senator Pearce comes.. We went so far as to call public meetings in the streets, and to boycott the sweated work of Perth that was hung up for sale in the clothing shops of Coolgardie. That action was consistent with the policy of trades unionism, and it was taken by the trades unionists of Coolgardie. It was recognised as a good trades union principle to keep the sweated goods of
Perth out of the Coolgardie market, and having taken a part in that action I intend to be consistent, and to go now a step further and keep the sweated goods of other countries in which the conditions of labour are far worse than they are in Perth out of the markets of Australia as a whole. We have heard a great deal of the sweating which prevailed in Victoria at one time. We admit and deplore the fact that sweating did exist in this State, but in the name of all that is reasonable what is the use of harking back to those days when we know that the condition of things complained of is at an end? When we have wages boards established here for the purpose of preventing sweating, why should honorable senators make these references to sweating, and why should they attempt to reproduce those conditions by lowering the duties which made it possible for the Victorian people to do away with them. We have heard of the conditions which existed in Victoria five or six years ago, but I should like honorable senators who are always asking for the reduction of duties to know the conditions prevailing at the present time in England -
At a public meeting held at Manchester recently, the Rev. H. Mills moved- “That this meeting deplores the late hours which so many women and girls are compelled to labour, the scanty remuneration which they receive, and the insanitary conditions of so many workrooms : and calls on all lovers of justice to endeavour to promote a happier state of things.”
Honorable senators may think th.at can be remedied by free-trade, but I hold that it cannot. We have free-trade in the clothing trade in England, and it is easy to discover from English newspapers and books the conditions of affairs existing in the trade. I find that, speaking to the resolution I have quoted, Lady Dilke, said -
To show how necessary it was that women’s wages should be raised she would quote a few case3. A Birmingham girl was making pens at 2s. a gross. A London woman made fancy aprons at 2s. fid. a dozen, and could only earn lOd. a day by working 16 hours.
I suppose that these fancy aprons are amongst the articles which will be imported under this item. Lady Dike said that matchmakers got 2 1/4d. per gross, and they had to find much of the raw material necessary, and she quoted a host of articles, which will come in under this particular item, and told df the conditions under which they are manufactured. To give honorable senators a further idea of the conditions of affairs in England, I quote from the issue of Ramsay’s Newspaper for the 22nd March - of this year the following references under the heading, “ The Sufferings of the Poor”-
Remarkable speeches as to sweating and the general condition of the poor were made at the meeting of the Church Pastoral Aid Society in Bristol on Thursday. The Rev. Wall, of St. Basils, Birmingham, stated that in his parish, for sewing 24 gross of cards of hooks and eyes, the workers were paid but 7d., and this took six people working all day to earn. Packets of hairpins made up in dozens in coloured paper, and packets sewn to a card, for a gross of such cards a women only received 4Ad. Some of the girls wanted to be respectable, but found it almost impossible to get respectable work. Ladies’ aprons, nicely tucked, were paid for at the rate of od. a dozen, whilst children’s pinafores beautifully made with lace insertion were only paid for at 9d. a dozen. The Rev. E. Despard, the association secretary, spoke strongly on life in the slums of Bristol, stating that the rate of infant mortality in some of them was even greater than in the concentration camps of South Africa, about which we have read and heard so much. Parents, too, insured their children as heavily as they could, and then gave them gin and other things to bring on convulsions and deceive the doctors.
That is on all fours with the method which Senator Higgs mentioned last night. I only cite these instances to show the Senate the state of affairs with which the workers, male and female, in Melbourne would have to compete if we allowed our markets to be flooded. The introduction of that state of affairs can only be prevented by our imposing barriers in the shape of import’ duties, and afterwards by adopting the policy of the newer protection. That is the answer to those who ask - Can wages be raised by the imposition of import duties ? A high duty will assist in that direction, and we look to the wages boards and similar institutions to do the rest. I hope that the committee will see its way to prevent the sweating which obtains in other countries from gaining a foothold in the Commonwealth.
– This is so important a question that I think it necessary to reply to some observations which have been made, particularly by Senator Macfarlane, who said that the duty on this apparel will deprive Tasmania of a large portion of revenue. He urged that if we have the duty at 25 per cent, very little apparel will be imported there from abroad ; that she will get the bulk of her supply from Victoria or New South Wales, or other large centres : and that, therefore, she will lose her revenue, and get no benefit of any kind. My answer to the honorable senator is simple, and, I believe, effective. Honorable senators on the other side have told us over and over again that 20 per cent, is quite sufficient protection to keep the industries in the Commonwealth in a prosperous condition. If they are kept in a prosperous condition by a duty of 20 per cent., will not their products go into Tasmania exactly in the same way as if it were 25 per cent.? What difference can it make to the position of Tasmania when you once establish these flourishing clothing factories on the mainland ? If their products are to take the place of the foreign article within Tasmania, surely they will come in whether the protection is 20 or 25 per cent.? Senator Macfarlane has fallen into the mistake of supposing that there is only one item in the Tariff, and that is the one we are dealing with. He has fallen into the mistake of forgetting that this is a Tariff which aims at dealing with every industry in Australia, and which has application to the production of every part of Australia. It is only by looking at the Tariff as a whole that you can fairly weigh and balance the benefit which each part of Australia is going to derive from it. We ask honorable senators to regard the Tariff in that spirit - not to consider whether Tasmania is going to get a certain amount of apparel from abroad, or whether she will be supplied by some other State, but to consider whether, as a whole, it will benefit the interests of Tasmania, or benefit the interests of the Commonwealth.
– Why should not Tasmania manufacture her own apparel ?
– I see no reason in the world why she should not. I do not agree with Senator Macfarlane’s view that she will not manufacture for herself. Assuming, for the purpose of my argument, that the great bulk of her apparel will come from the larger centres of population on the mainland, surely it is to the mainland that she must look for the ‘ consumption of the output of her woollen mills, since she cannot expect at the present time to find a market in Europe. The more you make it worth while to the clothing manufacturer to manufacture here, the more he will use the material of Australia, and the more the mills and factories, such as the woollen mills of Tasmania, will be benefited. It seems to me that Senator
Macfarlane is looking at the benefits of the Tariff with his eyes half shut, if he takes that view. While he is following this fetish of free-trade which leads him into all sorts of outlandish places, he is neglecting the real interests of his own State. He tells us that we do not regard the country people. Are the country people of his State gaining no benefit ? Is it not the case that the country people of Tasmania are going to be benefited in the large market which they get for their barley, oats, hops, potatoes, fruits, and other products ? Why is it that duties have been left on those very articles ? To keep them from the pressure of foreign competition and to preserve the Australian market for them. Yet the honorable senator tells us that he fails to see where Tasmania will get any benefit out of the Tariff. He keeps his eyes centred on one point, that there will be fewer imports of manufactured clothing into his State, and he forgets altogether that he, free-trader as he is, has benefited her by helping to put a duty on oats and the other products I mentioned. The result of this half-blind way of looking at the Tariff is that where an honorable senator is looking at one miserable little aspect of an article, or an item as it affects his own State, he loses sight of the great benefit which it derives in other ways, and forgets altogether that he has helped to impose duties for the protection of other articles in his own State. Why ? Because it is for their benefit. It is impossible that you can have an Australian Tariff unless you look at the question from every point of view. It is impossible that you can frame an Australian Tariff if every State is going to have regard to whether or not there is to be a loss, or an increase of revenue on some item affecting that State. It seems to have been assumed all through the debate on this item, that we are dealing with articles cheap in price, and used by only the poorer classes. It deals with all kinds of manufactures of wool and silk, and it includes a very fair proportion of high-class and expensive jackets, cloaks, shirts, and other articles of that kind. If you regard the question of revenue only, these are articles which ought to pay a larger percentage, on principles which are well recognised in the framing of Tariffs. Shawls, jackets, cloaks, and other expensive articles of that kind, which form a verv fair proportion of the bulk of this line, have their value according to the seasons. It happens that the London and continental season is just over in time for the beginning of the season here. The importers here buy up job lots of these goods at half price, and we do not get the whole amount of duty on them. We only get the duty on the invoice price, which is half their value, but they are sold here at their full value. That is the sort of thing we have to compete with. When you look at the nature of the articles - articles of luxury that are imported at half their real value - certainly 25 per cent., with a 10 per cent, margin is not a bit too much to give as a reasonable measure of protection to the large number of persons who are engaged in the clothing industry. I do not believe that a 20 per cent, duty would yield an increased revenue. . I do not believe that the articles would be imported in sufficient quantity over and above the present rate of importation to give us an increased revenue. But if an increased revenue were obtained it would be at the very heavy price of making it more difficult for hundreds of working women to obtain and keep regular employment, and in that way injury would be done to the general community.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - There is a point which I had hoped that the VicePresident of the Executive Council would touch upon, namely, the records of another place with regard to the way in which this matter was dealt with there. If Senator Symon is not certain that he can carry his proposal by a large majority he should have hesitated before making it. We have spent about five hours in discussing the motion ; in another place it was dealt with in a very few minutes. I find that an amendment was moved by Sir William McMillan in the following terms : -
That the words “and on and after the 5th December, 1901. 20 per cent.” be added to the duty “ Apparel and attire and articles n.e.i., woollen or silk, or containing wool or silk ad valorem, 25 per cent.”
Very little discussion took place. The question was put - “ That the words proposed to be added be so added.” The committee divided, and the result was - Ayes, 14; Noes, 32 - a majority of 18 for the Noes. Amongst the “ Noes “ were such well-known free-traders as Messrs. Fowler, McDonald, Page, and Spence. Surely the action taken by the leader of the free-trade party in the Senate may be characterised as one that disregards the interests of the community generally and of the commercial community in particular.
Question - 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 25 per cent.,” the words, “ and on and after 1st July, 1902, 20 per cent.” - put. The committee divided.
Majority … … … 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I desire to add, after the word “ shape,” in the first paragraph of the item, the following words : -
And including coatings, vestings, trouserings, n.e.i., and flannelettes.
This proposal does not affect the rate of duty. I intend to make it for another reason. Senator O’Connor will remember that coatings, vestings, and trouserings, n.e.i., and flannelettes were left at the same rate of duty as woollen piece-goods, 15 per cent. Therefore there is a doubt as to whether they would come under the first paragraph of item 58. To make it clear that they would pay the higher rate of duty, and that the manufacturers would get the benefit of the 5 per cent, margin, I make this proposal. Upon the next paragraph of the item I intend to move the reduction of the duty to 15 per cent., but I do not want to include the goods mentioned in my suggestion. If my honorable and learned Mend objects, I am perfectly satisfied to leave the wording of the item as it is, but he must not complain if we succeed in reducing the duty upon the second paragraph to 15 per cent., that there is no protection for the maker- up of coatings, trouserings, vestings, and flannelettes.
– lido not propose to take the point of order which might be raised, that, as’ we have dealt with the first paragraph down to the amount of the duty, no alteration can be made in a previous part .of it.
– . If the honorable and learned senator takes that point, I will make my proposal in the form of an addition.
– I will give my reason why I do not think the suggestion should be accepted. The item as it stands ought to be allowed to remain very much as it is, because the collections under it are validated by clause 5 of the Bill. It would be unwise ‘to add the words proposed, as. Senator Symon suggests ; but if it is desirable to make any alteration, it should be dealt with as a separate line. I will state the reasons against it later on.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - I will propose the addition of these words in a separate Une. I move -
That the House of Representatives he requested to amend item 5S by inserting the following new paragraph: - “Apparel and attire - made from coatings, vestings, trouserings n.e.i., flannels and flannelettes, on and after 1st July, 1902, 20 per cent.”
– I object to this motion, and would like to point out what it really means. In the first place, looking at the Tariff as ‘ it originally stands, under the heading of “ woollen piece goods “ there is a line “Coatings, vestings, trouserings n.e.i., flannels and flannelettes.” That does not, and did not, include anything in the way of woollen goods. “Woollen goods come under the heading of “Piece goods, woollen or containing wool.” All material of wool for the purpose of making coatings, vestings, and trouserings wil] be included under the heading of “ wool or containing wool,” but
Ave desired to make it quite clear that flannelettes, which consist of cotton, were to be included in this line, in order that we might cover, not only flannelettes, but substances made of cotton which “might be called flannel. The whole purport and scope of that line as it stood in the Tariff was simply to include cotton coatings, trouserings, and so forth. Unless this special exception had been made, all these goods would have come in at 5 per cent. “We think they should be liable to a duty of 15 per cent., and, therefore, for the purpose of making clear those words in the first sub-division, there is no necessity for this motion. The reason for the motion is that Senator Symon finds himself met with this difficulty, that when he comes to deal with trouserings, coatings,, and vestings, which have been fixed at 15 per cent., he knows that if the duty on manufactures of cotton goods is reduced, there will be no protection. It is to remove that inconsistency which stands in his way that he proposes this motion. I propose to leave the inconsistency in front the honorable and learned senator. If it were simply a matter of carrying out the original meaning of the Tariff I should consent to the motion, but when Senator Symon asks me to consent to something which will remove a difficulty that will be in his way when he comes to deal with a later part of the item, I can not do so. It is a difficulty which the honorable and learned senator will find it hard to get over, if he wishes to reduce, as he says he does, the next part of the item which includes all goods made up from coatings, vestings, trouserings, and flannelettes. If he includes them under the 15 per cent, duty, there will be no protection to the persons who make that particular class of goods, and they compose a very large proportion of the goods which would come under this provision. As I do not propose to make it easier for the honorable and learned senator to get over this difficulty, and as I object to these motions, I oppose his proposal.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - Senator O’Connor has put the position very clearly. I fail to see why Senator Symon should wish to move this motion, inasmuch as the words -
Not containing wool or silk, partly or wholly made up (not being piece-goods), including articles cut into shape embody flannelettes, trouserings, coatings and vestings that are not woollen. What is the honorable senator’s object if it is not that stated by Senator O’Connor ? He de-‘ sires to pose as a protectionist, and he knows that if this motion is not carried there will be no protection for the makers of coatings and trouserings. This is the honorable senator who is anxious to sweep away all protective duties. If there is any one trying to delude the public it is Senator Symon, and not Senator O’Connor. Senator Symon desires to give a protection of 5 per cent, to those who make up rubbish for the purpose of deceiving the general public. I do not think the committee should give way to Senator Symon’s idiosyncracies. He has frequently taken objection to surplusage and repetitions, and we should not fall in with this proposal. I claim, with Senator O’Connor, that these words are not necessary, save for the evil designs of Senator Symon, who wishes to destroy the Tariff, and to interfere with the regular work which has been done in another place.
– I must admit that I find some little difficulty in determining just now to whom my fiscal allegiance belongs. I am inclined to think that I must lean to Senator O’Connor ; certainly, I must do so if he continues in the path which, by some strange accident, he seems to have struck for once in his life. The position is abundantly clear. Senator O’Connor cannot deny that the underlying principle of the Tariff is that we should have a duty somewhat higher upon the manufactured article than upon the raw material. At the present moment, however, he stands up in opposition to that principle, not because he is opposed to it, but because he is seeking, if hecan obtain the rejection of this motion, to forestall the decision of the committee in regard to the next item. If the committee rejects the motion, it cannot with any degree of consistency consider the motion which Senator Symon has outlined in regard to the next item. Therefore, I think Senator O’Connor is trying to use the one in order to influence the committee in its judgement upon the other. J ust as he is using one as a lever against the other, so, when the time comes for a compromise between the two Houses, this will be used as a lever to frighten the Senate in regard to the position which it has just taken up. I trust that the committee will not stultify the vote it has just given by rejecting this motion.
– If I appreciate the position this motion is proposed in order to pave the way for another motion on the second part of this item. If that is so I shall have to vote against it, because I do not intend to support a reduction of the duty on the second part of the item to 15 per cent. I intend to vote for a duty of 20 per cent., so as to make it consistent with the first part. If the two items are both fixed at 20 per cent., there can be no necessity for the motion. That is the view I tske. We ought to simplify the Tariff as much as possible. We ought to look - as I always look - at the amount of revenue we are going to receive.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - There would be a great deal of force in what Senator Baker has just said if the assumption which underlies his remarks were well founded, and that is, that we are not going to reduce the next part of the item to 15 per cent. Of course, if the honorable and learned senator’s view is that because he is not going to vote for a reduction of the duty to 15 per cent., that is to be accepted as the decision of the committee, I admit that there is nothing to be gained by putting these trouserings, coatings, and vestings under the 20 per cent list. But it is not a matter of paving the way for the next part of the item. The very reason which Senator Baker gives is the strongest possible one for dealing now with these trouserings, coatings, vestings, flannelettes, and so forth, which we are all. agreed should, for simplification, bear the 20 per cent, rate, and getting rid of them. We have just carried a motion that apparel and attire made from woollens shall be 20 per cent. Piece woollen goods pay a duty of 15 per cent., and trouserings, vestings, and coatings, flannels, and flannelettes are also 15 per cent. Therefore, on the same principle on which we proceeded in fixing the duty on woollen apparel and attire at 20 per cent., we say that these other things should also stand at 20 per cent. The simplification of the Tariff will then be brought about in the most effective possible way. We have the duty upon apparel and attire madefrom woollens fixed at 20percent., and we shall then have the duty on these coatings, vestings, and trouserings made from doubtful materials also fixed at 20 per cent. Senator O’Connor has himself pointed out that “woollen or containing wool” in the description of piece-goods is exhaustive, and that coatings, vestings, trouserings, n.e.i., do not come within the category of goods which are “ woollen or containing wool.” Now the honorable and learned senator says that they will come under the next paragraph, “ not containing wool or slik.” If Senator O’Connor does not wish to have the Tariff simplified, I have no desire to force its simplification upon him, but the honorable and learned senator is much mistaken if he thinks that will make any difference so far as the next line is concerned.
– The honorable and learned senator has counted heads now, and when he knows that he is beaten he gives way with a good grace.
– I do not know that I am beaten, but when I offer a gift and it is scornfully rejected, I do not propose to thrust it down the throats of those to whom I have offered it. I therefore propose to withdraw my motion, and then propose a motion affecting the next line, throwing the responsibility of destroying the protection upon the making up of trouserings, vestings, and coatings upon the Vice-President of the Executive Council and his supporters.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - 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., not containing wool or silk . . . act valorem 25 per cent.,” the words “and on and after 1st July, 1902, 15 per cent.”
When the Tariff was introduced by the Government the duty proposed upon this line was 20 per cent. I call attention to these figures for the benefit especially of Senator Baker. The duty was afterwards increased to 25 per cent. The first thing to be remembered is that when the duty was first introduced at 20 per cent, the duty upon the line of cotton piece goods was 10 per cent., leaving a margin of 10 per cent. On the next line of corduroys, and so on, the duty in the Tariff, as originally introduced was 15 per cent., leaving a margin of 5 per cent. only. The next line, cotton and linen piece goods, n.e.i., was originally introduced with a duty of 15 per cent., again leaving a margin of 5 per cent.; and there was a subdivision that was not made until the reduction of these lines in the Tariff of cotton and linen piecegoods, included under another head. The position was this : When the Government introduced this Tariff, the highest margin of protection -for the maker-up of apparel, and that was only on one line, was 10 per cent., and on the other lines it was only 5 per cent. On all these lines it has now been reduced to 5 per cent. I cannot understand what process of stupidity or insanity could have been used in the attempted adjustment of these items. In the case of woollen goods, the difference was between 25 and 10 per cent., but when these lines of cotton goods were reduced to 5 per cent., the margin was left at 20 per cent. This is one of the grossest anomalies in this Tariff. The difference was 5 per cent, on two lines, and 10 per cent, on one line in the original Tariff. The difference in the case of the whole of these lines was then reduced to 5 per cent., and there is still retained in the Tariff this duty upon made-up attire of 25 per cent. I ask if any principle of justice or fair play can be urged in support of a proposition like that? I propose 15 per cent., and what protection does that give? It gives the highest margin of protection which the Government offered in the original Tariff - twice as much protection as they offered on two lines, and the same protection as they offered on the third. We have just carried a duty of 20 per cent, on apparel and attire made from woollens, and the margin there is 5 per cent. The proposal I make - simply under a necessity which I shall point out immediately - gives twice the margin of protection upon these articles not containing wool or silk, as was given upon apparel and attire made entirely of wool or silk or containing woolor silk. Surely that is enough 1 I feel certain that it is an accident that this enormous discrepancy should have crept into the Tariff. I do not make any fuss about it, but point to the figures and ask honorable senators whether it is possible to justify it? If it needs to be stated that it is an inadvertence, as I venture to think that that is established quite clearly by the figures I have given showing the condition of things when the Tariff was originally introduced. Then there is the item which Senator O’Connor thinks is going to prejudice the consideration of this reduction to 15 per cent. It is only a small by-line at the best. Because the four lines at 5 per cent, in the Tariff comprise the bulk of the materials which, as a rule, would be used in the making up of this particular class of goods. But this line of “ Coatings, vestings, trouserings, n.e.i., flannels, and flannelettes, at 15 per cent, duty, is only introduced with a view of covering such articles as may be susceptible of interpretation as “imitations.” If these things are brought in in that way I have not the least desire that they should be encouraged. I believe illustrations were given here yesterday to show how inflammable flannelette is and how dangerous it is as an article of clothing. I have no particular desire to encourage the making of clothing from that material, or from any kind of shoddy or imitation. I do not desire to complicate this question with the consideration of these shoddy or dangerous fabrics, and for that reason I should not object to their being eliminated, and as they have not been eliminated I do not wish them to be given any encouragement at all. From that point of view, I am quite willing that it should be put, but I think that can be effectually done by making the duty 10 per cent. If there is to be relief, it ought to be given in that direction, rather than in the direction of making an exception of this second item. But if it is desired to make an exception of the second item, I have no objection to something of that sort being done, but at the present time I hold that this will cover the whole of the 5 per cent, piece-goods enumerated on page 1 1 ; that the difference of protection will be four times as much if the Tariff is left as it is, as has been given in the case of woollen apparel ; and that 10 per cent., as I propose, is quite as much as is given in the case of woollen piece-goods and in the case of the bulk of these articles in the Tariff as it was originally submitted.
– As the Tariff stood, all articles of apparel made up, whether they contained wool or silk, or whether they did not, were subject to 25 per cent. duty. If we have to say whether an article of apparel contains wool or silk we have in each case to make an examination in order to find out whether it bears 5 per cent, more duty, or 5 per cent, less duty. We hear a great deal about the simplification of the Tariff, and about the trouble to which importers and Customs officers are put. But there cannot possibly be any better means by which you can give an opening to fraud or put to greater inconvenience the importers and the Customs officers than by requiring an examination of goods in each case in order to determine whether they contain wool or silk. .
– Why did not the honorable and learned senator agree to my suggestion in regard to cotton piece-goods on the same ground ?
– Because I wished to have the Tariff carried as it is.
– Then the honorable and learned senator does not want the Tariff simplified.
– I cannot go into a question of that kind, but I certainly expected a gentleman like Senator Sargood to aid us in giving some kind of simplification to the Tariff where it is possible. I am asked for a reason why manufactures from cotton goods are put on the same footing as manufactures from wool and silk. The duty on the second line in this item was increased from 20 to 25 per cent, for the reason that it was of immense importance that there should be simplicity in administration, and that all apparel should bear the same duty, whether it contained wool or silk, or whether it did not. And that was altogether apart from any protective or revenue-bearing aspect which the matter had. I submit that this view should recommend itself to honorable senators who wish to see a smoothly-working Tariff, and will be regarded as of infinitely more importance than the carrying out of any abstract principles of free-trade. My honorable friends opposite seem to have the idea that so long as they can reduce a duty they are doing some good. It reminds me of the old Irish direction in a fight - “Where you see a head, hit it.” In this case, it is - “ Where you see a duty, cut it down.” I do not see what other reason there can be for making the suggestion. This line includes an immense number of articles of all kinds. A certain proportion of them may be cheap calico or print goods. Certainly a large proportion of them are highly-priced goods. The latter goods would come in to the same extent under a 20 per cent, duty as under a 25 per cent. duty. Why should we give up the revenue which we are likely to get from the importation of those articles for the sake of some idea of consistency in the rate of the duties ? My honorable and learned friend has not attempted to show that a 20 per cent, duty will produce more revenue. It is impossible to suppose that we should get an increased import to anything like the same extent as will be requisite to make up the amount. If the duty is reduced by twofifths we must have two fifths more imports in order to obtain the revenue that would be yielded by a 25 per cent. duty. Are we going to get that? As regards the cheaper lines we will not get it, and as regards the dearer lines we will get a certain quantity of articles brought in and no more whether the duty is fixed at 25 per cent, or at 20 per cent. It is perfectly clear that we shall lose revenue by reducing the duty on the high-priced articles. From the point of view of the prevention of fraud, and of disputes, it is undoubted that there ought to be the same duty on both lines. It cannot be shown that there is any more revenue to be obtained, and it is ridiculous to say that anything like an adequate protection is given by a 20 per cent. duty. If we compare the cost of this material with the cost of the woollen material, there is no doubt that there is a reason for the difference. There is no doubt that the cost of the material is a very much larger element in the price of the article in the case of the first line than in the case of the second line. That probably will be so in a great many instances, but as against that, it is always open to the manufacturer of woollen articles to get the local product on which he pays no duty. On a large portion of his goods he pays no duty, and therefore he gets the benefit of that protection. On all descriptions of cotton goods the duty must be paid. Proportionately, there ought to be a higher duty imposed on the cotton goods than on the other goods. The object of setting up a duty on cotton goods is to counterbalance the cheap labour at the other side of the world. Proportionately a very much larger amount of labour is put into cotton goods than into woollen goods. Take, for instance, a suit made of woollen piece-goods. The value of the material,53/4 yards, is 16s. 2d., and the price of the labour,&c, is 7s., making a total cost of 23s. 2d. In the case of a suit made of cotton piece-goods, the value of the material, 53/4 yards, is 2s. 5d., and the price of the labour, 7s., making a total cost of 9s. 5d. When we find that there is such a very much larger proportion of labour employed in the latter case than in the former, there ought to be a heavier protection gi ven in order to balance matters. This uniformity, which is so advantageous to both the consumer and the Customs officials, is fair in all the circumstances. For these reasons, I hope that the committee will not agree to the motion of my honorable and learned friend, who really has shown no ground for the reduction of the duty, except that he wishes to reduce it.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - I can understand Senator Symon regarding this adjustment of the Tariff as an act of stupidity or insanity. He has succeeded in reducing the duty on belltoppers, and silk parasols, and now he wishes to reduce the duty on dress feathers, and frilled shirts, and all the finery that the belles and beaux wear. I am inclined to the opinion that the freetrade party in another place very well understood the position, because when the Treasurer moved that on and after the 5th December the duty on this line should be 20 per cent., Sir William McMillan indicated that it was his intention to move that on and after that date it should be 15 per cent. The Treasurer’s proposition was carried by 27 votes to 17, and including the pairs a considerable number of honorable members voted. When Sir William McMillan discovered the state of feeling in the House, he did not proceed with his proposition, and when he was interviewed afterwards as to the reason for his action, he said -
We fixed the duty on woollen piece-goods at 15 per cent., and I think it has been generally understood that a difference of 10 per cent, would be maintained between the rate imposed on the raw material, and that upon the made-up article.
He is of opinion that there should be a 10 per cent, difference.
– I am allowing a 10 per cent, difference. The duty on piece-goods is 5 per cent., and my proposal is to reduce the duty on this line to 15 per cent.
– There is not a difference of 10 per cent, between the duty on the item we carried last night and the proposition made by the honorable and learned senator this evening.
– But flannelettes, the honorable senator says, are dangerous.
– On that point I wish to know where Senator Sargood stands. He wanted to introduce these cotton tweeds into the Commonwealth at any low rate. Now, however, he describes them as injurious. I took down his words at the time. He said - “I have no wish to encourage fraud-, and would keep out inferior and dangerous stuff.” He proposes to do it by reducing the duty. Senator Sargood, who has been in the trade for a long time, says he can only discover that these tweeds are made of cotton by the application of a lighted match. How, then, is the consumer to know when a pair of trousers is offered to him for about 2s. 6d., or a suit of clothes for about 10s., that the goods are made of cotton ? Will the shop-keeper permit him to apply a lighted match to the garments ? If Senator Symon’s real object is not to get dress feathers imported at a low rate, together with all the rest of the finery that is included under this item, he will not insist upon his motion.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 58 by adding to the duty, “ Apparel and attire and articles n.e.i., not containing wool or silk . . . . ad valorem 25 per cent.,” the words, “and on and after 1st July, 1902, 15 per cent.” -put. The committee divided.
Majority … … 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the special exemption to item 58, “Regalia, namely, embroidery woven sashes.” by omitting the words “embroidery woven,” and inserting after the word “sashes” the words “ collarsand aprons. “
I make this proposal with a view of making somewhat clearer the special exemption with regard to friendly societies’ regalia. Senator Neild, who intended to move in the matter, has handed to me a letter setting forth the view of the societies. It is pointed out that these goods are not imported for the purposes of trade, and that the three lines mentioned are not made in the Commonwealth. Sashes, collars, and aprons are exclusively used by friendly societies, and I understand that it was on account of their peculiar position in the community that the special exemption was made. Unfortunately, however, the special exemption as drafted does not apply to sashes, collars, and aprons, and it is desired to put them in the same category as woven embroidered regalia.
Senator O’KEEFE (Tasmania). - I have had a great deal to do with friendly societies who use these articles. It is quite true that if the material from which collars and aprons are made, is taxed at 20 per cent., and the goods are made in the Commonwealth, it will be unfair to put the finished article upon the free list. I do not believe that the members of friendly societies object to their regalia being subject to duty, seeing that the raw material pays duty. I have as much sympathy with friendly societies as any one, but on the grounds I have mentioned, I must oppose the motion.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - I think that there is a great deal in what the honorable senator says. In the letter to which I have referred it is admitted that these collars have not, up to the present, been manufactured in this country. Therefore, I will not press my motion.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 58 by adding to the special exemptions “ On and after 1st July, 1902, all accoutrements, badges, and material imported for making navaland military clothing under departmental regulations.”
I willshow why this is necessary. At the end of the Tariff there is an exemption of -
Articles imported by and for the use of the army or navy, viz. : - Arms, military and naval clothing, musical instruments for bands, military stores, and munitions of war.
Really this motion ought to be moved by some of our honorable friends of the protectionist party. I have tabled it as the result of a letter addressed through the Government of New South Wales, by tailors, who complain that, whilst complete uniforms are admitted free, the material - woollen or silk apparel - from which.they are made here are taxed under the Tariff to the extent of 20 per cent. It seems hard that they should be taxed to that extent when the completed uniform comes in free.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - I regret that Senator Neild is not present to throw a little light on the question of what should be the width of gold lace allowed in free of duty. As Senator Symon does not seem to be quite sure about the proposal he is making, I think we should report progress so that he will have time to hold a conference before we resume to-morrow. As it is, he is only wasting time in making this senseless proposition.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - By leave, I will amend my motion so that it will read as follows : -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 58 by adding to the special exemptions “On and after 1st July, 1902, all accoutrements, badges, buttons, braid, and lace for naval and military uniforms under departmental regulations.”
Motion, by leave, amended accordingly.
Question put. The committee divided -
Ayes … …. 12
Noes … 10
Majority … … 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative:
Item68 - Socks and stockings, cotton, ad valorem, 10 per cent.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item68 by omitting, on and after 1st July, 1902, the word “cotton.”
The effect of the motion, if carried, will be to place all socks and stockings upon the same footing ; that is, chargeable with duty at the rate of 10 per cent. The position is at present that woollen socks are liable, under item 58, to a duty of 20 per cent. There seems, to be no reason why that should be so.
– I object to this motion, for reasons that I should prefer to give to-morrow.
Senate adjourned at 10.30 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 19 June 1902, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1902/19020619_senate_1_10/>.