1st Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Royal assent to the following Bills reported : -
Supply Bill (No. 10).
Supply Bill (No. 11).
. -I move -
That the Senate at its rising adjourn until half-past four p.m. to-morrow.
At 3:30 p.m. to-morrow His Excellency the Governor-General will hold a levee, at which he will take leave of the people of the Commonwealth who are here, and I take it that a number of honorable senators would’ wish to attend it. An address from’ the Senate has to be presented by the President, and, as he cannot attend officially to make the presentation while the Senate is sitting, it will be necessary for us to adjourn for. that purpose. Therefore I think it will meet with the necessities of the position and the wishes of honorable senators if we adjourn until 4.30 p.m. to-morrow.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
asked the Vice-
President of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable and learned senator’s questions are as follow : -
In Committee. (Consideration resumed from 20th June, vide page 13989.)
Division VI. - Metals and machinery.
Item 74. - . . . Iron, galvanized, plate, and sheet, per ton, 15s.
Upon which Senator Pearce had moved -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 74 by adding to - the duty - “Iron, galvanized, plate, and sheet,’ per ton, 15s. , “ the words ‘ ‘ and on and after 1st July, 1902, free.”
– On this occasion I do not propose to do more than to ask honorable senators to come to the conclusion that galvanized iron shall be made duty free. That decision was arrived at by the House of Representatives, but afterwards, on the score of revenue, galvanized iron was restored to the list of dutiable articles. I believe that if the motion is agreed to, the other House will adopt our suggestion.
– I am very sorry that after the adjournment Senator Pearce did not formulate a number of arguments in favour of his motion. Some 50,000 tons of galvanized iron are brought into the Commonwealth every year, and this, I think, is a very just and equitable means of raising a little revenue. I am not one of those senators referred to by Senator Dawson as wishing to cast a reflection upon the miner. I look upon the miner as a man who, when he is in his right senses, isa protectionist. Whenhe has had verylittlepoliticaleducation,orwhenheis on thewrongtrack,hehappenstobea strongfree-trader,who wishes toget£318s. perozforhisgold,andtobuyasmuch goods as possible with the money, frequently regardless of the interests of those persons whoare engaged in otherindustries, and forgetfulofthefactthatifthesepersonsarenot doingwelltheymaytaketominingpursuits and compete with him. I do not desire to place any undue burden on the miner, but put. it to the miner who is a protectionist that it is to his interest to bear an equitable share of the taxation, and if possible to encourage those industries that will’ flourish in the Commonwealth. I disagree with the proposition of Senator Pearce, among other reasons because he makes no attempt to differentiate between the better I quality of galvanised iron and the cheaper article which is most likely to be used by thepoorer classes. The Government seem to havefallenintothesame mistake. The “Orb” brand referred to by Senator Dawson as the best in the. market will pay no”more per ton. than will the cheaper qualities. Sena tor Bearee has not pointed out that the duty ‘ which will be paid by the importer will be very small, seeing that the galvanized. iron will be useful for very many years. Provided that it is not attacked by those who pelt stones at night time, or by hailstorms, it will last a life-time with ordinary care. Five per cent. on an article worth £15 per ton is a small duty to impose. If we are anxious to lighten the burden on the thrifty man, who has succeeded at very great -cost to his own comfort in saving sufficient to enable him to build a house of galvanized iron, we should make some distinction between the various brands, imposing a higher duty on the best quality, and a reduced duty on the lower-priced article. We need not go into the long catalogue of various items that are daily necessities on which duties ranging from 25 to 40 per cent. have been fixed. In supporting the duty as it stands, or in . proposing to increase it, I do not take up the position that, because a man is able to cover- his roof with galvanized- iron, he should be taxed for the reason that galvanized iron is a. luxury. What. I said on a prior occasion, was that when a man was able to build a house and cover- it with iron at a cost of £150, he should bo called upon to pay duty on that iron in proportion to the taxation borne by the man who cannot save £1-50 with which to erect a house, and who is required to contribute to the support of the Government by paying duty on various other necessities. Those who use galvanized iron are, as a rule, very well to do, and can; afford to pay this tax. Ko doubt Senator Pearceis actuated by the very best motives in proposing this motion, but, like Senator Symon, in regard to many of his propositions, he is misguided. He is anxious to make some alteration a in the Tariff in the interests of the -miners, but I believe that if he succeeds in bis desire it will be harmful to the general body of workers. Naturally a reduction of this duty must mean a reduction of revenue, and the Government will have to make good the deficiency by taxing, food stuffs which probably cannot be produced here.
– In moving this motion Senator Pearce had a good deal to say in regard to the position of the primary producer. I should like to point out to him that for one sheet of galvanized, iron, in plate or sheet, which is used as roofing material by the primary pro– ducer, 100 sheets are used in other directions, and, therefore, we should remember that there is another side to this question. In my opinion the duty is not high enough, and should be increased for protective purposes. Iron, is galvanized to a very large extent throughout the Commonwealth. Perhaps Senator Pearce does not know that there are no less than four galvanizing establishments in this city. Some of the people who have embarked, upon the industry have been engaged in it, to my own knowledge, for the last 30 yeans. They should have a certain amount of protection, although I regret to say that they did not receive any under theVictorian Tariff. In the interests of that industry as well as with a view to encourage the iron trade, which we are all anxious to build up, this duty should be made a protective one.
– Those engaged in the iron industry do not want it.
– That is not the statement of those interested in the industry. Mr. Sandford, manager of the Lithgow iron works, desires to see a protective duty imposed, and he has stated that without it the industry in Now South Wales must die. For every sheet of galvanized iron used for roofing purposes’ by the primary producers, 100 are used by manufacturers of baths, I buckets, tubs, and hundreds of other I articles. .The duty as proposed by the Government is only for revenue purposes, but I hope that later on we shall impose a substantia] protective duty, to encourage, not only the manufacture of iron, but the galvanising of iron throughout Australia.
– I can hardly understand the position taken up by Senator Higgs, and I am satisfied that if I were to present the Senator Higgs whom we heard last Friday week to the Senator Higgs of to-day there would be a family quarrel. The honorable senator has made a pathetic appeal to the committee to vote against the motion on the ground that it is desirable that a reasonably protective duty should be imposed in the interests, I presume, of those engaged in the galvanizing industry, as well as of those who may be induced to embark upon it later on. Subsequently he made a still stronger appeal for the retention of the duty proposed by the Government on the ground of revenue. If the duty is to afford any substantial protection to this infant industry, its usefulness from a revenue stand-point must be destroyed. The more effective it is from the stand-point of protection, the more destructive it must be to revenue. In common with the VicePresident of the Executive Council and several other honorable senators, Senator Higgs appears to be imbued with the idea that the miner is fair gome, not only in regard to this, but in relation to. every other item in the Tariff, because he is a rich man, and is able to indulge every Sunday in the great luxury of tinned milk. Senator Higgs says that a miner who is able to erect a tin house, costing £150, should be well able to pay this duty. But does he know how the average miner erects such a house 1 Unlike the working man in the city, he does not obtain a loan from a building society and pay it back by weekly instalments. As a rule, ho buys a few sheets of iron on one occasion, and a small quantity of timber on another, and builds his residence ‘ during his spare time. He scrapes and struggles from week’s end to week’s end, and it is some time before he can leave the tent with which he starts for his galvanized iron house. Such a man should be encouraged instead of being penalized for his industry. I shall not quarrel with Senator Barrett as to the state-; ment that for every one sheet of -iron that is used by a primary producer 100 sheets aroused for other than building purposes. If the committee- wish to deal specially with those who use- iron for other than buildingpurposes well and good. But an exception should be made with regard to corrugated iron which is used for building purposes, while other classes of iron might be allowed to bear the duty proposed by the Government.
– The honorable senator who has just resumed his seat has again introduced the miner to our notice. I thought we had got rid of him for a time. No one wishes to put him in a position different from that occupied by any other citizen, but it is rather absurd to call for the special protection of the miner against this terrible exaction. What do we propose? I suppose that the miner, as’ well as any one else, must have some kind of roof over his house, and I imagine that for every piece of iron that is used by him for roofing purposes 100 pieces are used in the metropolis, aa well as in country towns, and other places, by persons who are very well able to pay this reasonable duty. The three kinds of roofing material which - apart from bark and shingles - are generally used are slates, tiles, and galvanized iron. Slates pay a duty of 15 per cent., while on tiles there is. a like impost. Now, we are asking that galvanized iron shall pay a duty of 5 per cent. At the outside, if we take the margin of the lower values of iron, it certainly cannot amount to- more than between 5 per cent, and 6 per cent. -I shall show the . committee’ that that is so, and that the suggestions which have been made- as to the - varying prices of galvanized iron have really no foundation. I have been at some trouble to have inquiries made, and I find that £15 per ton is a very fair price, and that the duty does not, therefore, amount to more than 5 per cent. Mi-. Davey, of Lysaght & Co., who are the biggest dealers in this particular kind of commodity, informs me that the wholesale price, with duty, freight, and everything paid, is £18 15s. per ton, less per cent, discount. The price, free on board, for iron in 8-ft. lengths is £15 per ton first quality, which is known as the “ Orb,” and, I understand, represents 50 per cent, of the galvanized iron imported into Australia. The second qualities consist of the Ratcliffe, the Blackwell, the Crown, the Sun, the Cornet, and some others not so well known, which are sold at 10s. per ton less than is the first quality, prices being regulated by the Hardware Association. Mr. Gelately, of Messrs Briscoe <fe Co., states that the first quality, the Orb, is sold wholesale at £17 10s. to £18 per ton, and retailed at £18 15s., the price, free on board, in London being £15. Mr. Gelately also says that the Orb quality represents about 50 per cent, of the galvanized iron imported, and that the Blackwell, Crown, and other brands of the second quality are sold at 10s. per ton less, while the inferior qualities known as the J.C.M., the Phoenix, the Pagoda, and other brands are sold at £1 per ton less than the first quality. The best information we have is that there is no variation greater than £1 per ton between the price of the very best quality and the price of the lowest quality.
– There is far more variation in the retail prices.
– As to that I cannot say, but iron dealers inform us that prices are cut to the very lowest possible point with a view to getting business, and that in many cases prices are really below those at which the iron can be profitably delivered here. It may be that in Western Australia particular dealers may be able, owing to discount arrangements with particular firms, to land iron a little cheaper than can other firms ; but it may be taken, on the authority of the firms I have quoted, that the position is as I have described. The duty proposed is 15s. per ton on an article valued at between £14 and £15 pelton, and it means something like 5 per cent, or 6 per cent., which cannot be described as a heavy impost, in view of the fact that tiles and slates have to pay a duty of 15 per cent. This is an item from which we expect to realize a revenue of £34,000 a year, and we .ire asked to give that up because a number of persons, who use a very small proportion of this class of iron, cannot afford to pay the Id. or 2d. per sheet which is represented by the duty. It is absurd to suppose that we can regulate the Tariff in that way, and honorable senators who propose a reduction of the duty must find some better reasons for the position they assume. I am quite certain that the persons who use galvanized 6iron will not feel this duty in the slightest degree. It has been very properly pointed out that iron is not like a commodity which a man buys every day or every week.
– It is not like a case of fruit.
– No ; nor is it like a hundred and one household articles on which there has to be continuous expenditure. A person may have to buy corrugated iron once a year, or once in ten years ; and when we contrast the proposed duty with others which have been imposed by the unanimous consent of this and the other Chamber, on articles of food and clothing, we see the absurdity of the arguments used by those who favour a reduction. Prom the protectionist point of view, I altogether join issue with Senator Dawson, when he says we cannot have a duty which is both protective and revenue producing. There are in the Tariff a number of duties which are both protective and revenue producing, and we could not otherwise frame a Tariff on the principles on which this Tariff is framed. We have factories in the Commonwealth which are producing this article, and which I hope will produce it to a very much greater extent, though foreign competition will not be kept out with a duty of 5 per cent. A heavier duty might have that effect, but with the duty proposed there will always be a certain amount of this commodity received at the ports which have direct dealings with the old country. The freight on such an article as galvanized iron from either N/ew South Wales or Victoria to the northern ports of Queensland, or to Western Australia, comes very nearly up to that which would have to be paid from England direct to those ports.
– There is about 5s. pelton difference.
– With a duty of 15 per cent, or 20 per cent, iron manufacturers in the different States might be able to overcome that difference, but a duty of 5 per cent, will not so counterbalance the cost of the freight from the various States as to very seriously affect importation. From both the revenue point of view and the point of view of protection, the duty ought to be passed as proposed. We cannot afford to lose the revenue, and the protection will give a certain amount of encouragement and stability to the industry.
The duty is necessary to the industry, but it cannot prove to any extent burdensome.
– We constantly hear the free-trade argument that a duty cannot by any possibility be both protective and revenue producing. But, no matter what duty is imposed, theremust be importation until local manufacture overtakes local requirements. The lower the duty the greater the importations, and the longer the importations will continue with less encouragement to the establishment of manufactures. The “poor miner “ is getting almost as common as the “poor widow” and the “poor orphan.” Senator Dawson and Senator Pearce have no monopoly of sympathy with the miners or others who develop the outlying portions of the Commonwealth. Does Senator Dawson imagine that the gold miner is the only man who follows mining pursuits in the Commonwealth ? So far as the iron industry is concerned, I am sure that the benefit claimed would be more for coal miners than for any other section of the community. We hope a time is coming when the enormous sources of wealth which we possess in the shape of iron ore will be developed, and will employ thousands of miners. Are we to confine ourselves to importing the very articles that we tread under our feet every day? I do not wish to anticipate, but I must do so to a certain extent, in order to -show the fallacy of the position assumed by the opponents of the duty. I hope we shall pass legislation giving power to the States to develop the iron industry, and that the States will take this matter up. Would it be reasonable to allow manufactured iron to come in free when the States were thus engaged, and when, as I hope, we shall agree to spend nearly £1,000,000 in furthering that object. I feel sure that neither Senator Dawson nor Senator Pearce would wish to prevent the States encouraging the production of iron in Australia. What do. these honorable senators know about the subject? What will the duty mean to the poor miner about whom Senator Dawson is so pathetically interested ? I have travelled in mining districts and have seen the houses in which miners are compelled to live in. I have witnessed the result of their industry in endeavouring to keep homes together. Let Senator Dawson contradict me if he can when I say that the majority of the places in which they live measure about 12 feet by 24 feet.
They are poor two-roomed places, but necessity compels the miner to live in them. Take an establishment of that description, and we shall -find that it means that there is .about ‘288 superficial feet of roof space to be covered. Allow for 300 feet, and how many sheets of galvanized iron will be required ? Thirty sheets of 6-ft. galvanized iron will be sufficient, allowing .any amount of margin for overlapping. When I tell honorable senators that there are 192 6-ft. sheets of 26-gauge galvanized iron in a ton they will have some idea of what 30 sheets mean.
– Six-foot sheets would make a very small roof.
– There is the honorable senator again, looking with that indefinite orb which sees so very little. Does he not see that I take 6-ft. sheets as a basis, and that it will cost no more for 9-ft. sheets than for 6-ft. sheets ?
– There will be fewer to the ton.
– Of course there will, but they will be the same superficial area according to value, and I am taking 6-ft. sheets merely as a basis for my argument. Two 9-ft. sheets will probably cover a little more than three 6-ft. sheets. There are 192 6-ft. sheets of galvanized iron in a ton, and if we impose a duty of 15s. per ton, that will amount to 180 pence, and honorable senators will see that the duty will come to a little less than Id. per .sheet so far as these 6-ft. sheets are concerned.
– They are of no use for this purpose. The honorable senator’s basis is wrong.
– The basis is not wrong, and I have ‘already pointed out that if 9-ft. sheets are taken, two of those sheets will be -as good as three 6-ft. sheets. The difficulty is that hide-bound freetrade conservatism has such a hold of honorable senators’ minds that no amount of argument or reasoning will shift it. The poor miner who has to cover a roof of 288 or 200 superficial ‘ feet of . galvanized iron will have only about 2s. 6d. to pay in consequence of this du t)7, and that payment honorable senators will remember extends over many years. Cannot .honorable senators see that ‘ the very people who are helping them to take this duty off galvanized iron, which must remain a revenue duty for a great number of years, are prepared to put a duty upon tea which the miner .must use every day 1 We have been told of the establishment of the industry in New South Wales without protection, but honorable senators do not know the anomalies which exist in New South Wales in respect to galvanized, iron. They do not know that Mr. Sandford cannot send a ton of galvanized iron to compete with ‘the imported article in Sydney, the very locality where it is most required, while he can send it away north to Armidale and Maitland or ‘anywhere outside the 100 miles radius, and then compete with the imported article. That shows the absurd condition under which the industry exists at the present time in New South Wales. Honorable senators will not look at these things, but content themselves with rattling out old arguments which have been threshed into shreds a hundred times during the debates upon this Tariff.
Senator DAWSON (Queensland). - I regret that Senator McGregor should so fiercely object to any honorable senator raising his voice on behalf of the mining community, one of the most deserving classes we have in the Commonwealth. The honorable senator has spoken in- a manner which is -not altogether complimentary to the miner, and it seems to please him to disparage the miner as much as he possibly can.
– That statement is not true.
– Then I will say that the honorable senator seems to resent, and with a great deal of heat, the efforts which other honorable senators are making to put the views of the .miner before the committee. So far as I am personally concerned, I have said very little during the whole of the debate upon the Tariff, but I have been an attentive listener ; and I am able to say that the miner has been introduced into the discussions times out of number by those supporting the Government proposals, and he has been sneered -at by those who have referred to him, whether with a good-natured or an ill-natured sneerI cannot say. If it is competent for those who believe in the Government proposals to make a statement as to the position of the miner from their point of view, it is surely competent for those who do not agree with the Government proposals to make their statement upon them. Let it be distinctly understood that neither the miner, nor those who speak on his behalf, are making -any ad misericordiam appeal in connexion with this Tariff. The reason we desire that .-galvanized iron should be free is not that the miner is a poverty-stricken individual. The position we take up is that he is not the millionaire which some honorable senators would have us believe. Somehonorable senators seem to have come to the conclusion that because a man is a miner he is a well-to-do man, whereas we, who know better, say that miners are not wealthy men by -any means, and that they deserve encouragement as much as any class in the community for their energy and enterprise, and because they do not reap the reward towhich their energy and enterprise properly entitle them. Senator McGregor admits that he knows a good deal about miners, and the result of his observation is that he has found that they live in iron houses 24 feet by 12 feet. I quite agree with the honorable senator, but why do they live in those houses 1 It is because they cannot afford better. They usually develop from the tent to the bark hut, and then to the galvanizediron house. In Western Australia they cannot get bark, and they are obliged todevelop straight from the tent into the galvanized-iron house 24 feet by 12 feet. Imagine such a building in the tropics of Northern Queensland. These pioneers whoare opening up our country live through the fearful summer of the north in buildings which are not merely roofed with galvanized iron, but the sides of which are also constructed of galvanized iron, and they are really little iron ovens. Honorable senators must remember that many of theminers have wives and families, and they are obliged to live in these galvanized-iron ovens even in the tropical districts of Australia. When that is remembered, it will be admitted that they deserve every encouragement. They should be assisted to secure larger and better houses in order that they may bring up their families in decency and comfort, as do other classes of the community. It might well be considered in the discussion of all these items that there is another party concerned besides the importer and manufacturer, and that is the consumer. It appears to me that the consumer has >een forgotten throughout these debates.
– We cannot get revenue without putting some burden upon the consumer.
– The honorable senator would rather put the duty upon tea.
– Senator McGregor sometimes lets his tongue get the better of him, and then it runs away with him and looses him. It has lost him upon this occasion, because the honorable senator has no warrant whatever for saying that I desire that the duty should be taken off galvanized iron in order that it might be put upon tea. Considering that I belong to the party which Senator McGregor leads here, and that it was that party who succeeded in getting tea free in another place, the insinuation made is an unworthy one. So far as party is concerned, I have said already that on Tariff questions I have no party. So far as the labour party is concerned there is no party in connexion with the Tariff except in connexion with the duty upon tea, and that is free. Senator O’Connor has said that a duty can be revenue producing and protective at the same time. I can quite easily understand that a duty on clothing and food-stuffs can be revenue producing and protective at the same time. But surely he will recognise that there is a distinction between those articles and galvanized iron ? No matter how cheap it is, a man will purchase no more ‘galvanized iron than he requires. Senator McGregor has charged me with forgetting that there are other miners than gold miners in the Commonwealth. I did not forget that there are, although I did not specially mention coal miners. He has made his own position worse by including the coal miners. Collectively the latter are better off than are the gold miners, and all I have said about the struggles of the gold miners applies with equal force to the coal miners. In the interests of all miners the motion ought to be carried.
– It is quite true that the miner has been referred to time and again ; but I do not think that the reference has been made except in a bantering way. No serious reflection has been cast on the rnining industry, or on the miners. We have heard a good deal about the miner’s condensed milk and top hat ; but I do not think that any honorable senator intended to reflect on or sneer at the miner. What I believe they wished to do was to make fun of honorable senators who had referred to the miner so often. We have heard a great deal about protecting industries. Tiles, which are subject to 15 per cent, duty I understand, enter into competition with galvanized iron for roofing purposes. Yet free-traders ask us to make galvanized iron duty free in order to help to kill the tile-making industry. We all have the greatest sympathy with the miner, or any other poor man. If we could separate the poor from those who are well able to adopt any kind of roofing material, and decrease the cost of the little house of the miner or any one else, we should be most happy to to so. In Sydney and Melbourne there are about 200,000 houses, of which 90 per cent, are covered with galvanized iron. Probably a third of these buildings have been run up by jerry-building speculators. Yet some of my honorable friends in the labour corner would allow the jerry-builder to get his galvanized iron duty free if they could. A jerry-builder or any person who builds houses in large towns is well able to pay a duty on his galvanized iron, and a 5 per cent, duty is not protective. Senator Pearce says that we cannot have a protective duty which will yield revenue. He objects to the duty on galvanized iron because it will not yield revenue - because its protective incidence will prevent importation - and he mends the matter at once by proposing to strike off the duty. In the Lithgow Valley, coal and iron deposits lie side by side, and I hope that we shall soon see those iron mines fully developed. I shall vote for any proposal to protect our native industries. I hope that we shall soon produce sufficient iron for the requirements of the Commonwealth. When that time arrives the galvanizing will be done here, and the importers’ occupation, so far as iron is concerned, will be gone - I hope rapidly.
– I trust that the amendment will be carried, because I believe that galvanized iron is not a material which should be taxed. I also deprecate the constant reference to the miner in all matters of taxation. Senator Pearce did not mention the miner when he was moving his motion, but Senator Higgs, a protectionist, did. In all discussions the miner is introduced by protectionist senators, and he seems to be a man against whom the protectionists are prejudiced. Whenever a miner, is mentioned there is a sneering laugh around the Chamber, and I think Senator Higgs let the cat out of the bag when he said that the miners are free-traders. I suppose they are to be penalized because they happen to hold that faith, Senator O’Connor has said that the Government expect to derive a revenue of £30,000 or £40,000 from this item. I do not know what returns he relies on for that statement; but if we turn to the Treasurer’s original statement, we find that it is estimated to yield £13,800.
– Corrugated iron is estimated to yield £13,S00, and plain iron £27,000.
– Very often the honorable and learned senator is wrong in his estimates of revenue. For instance, when we were discussing the duty on tinned milk, he pointed out that the duty payable by the people of Western Australia could not be more than £3,000 a year. In a period of five months this Government collected in that State considerably over £8,000, or, at the rate of over £20,000 a year, which is more than I stated in my remarks. Senator. Higgs urged that the galvanized iron on roofs would last a long time, and that therefore the duty should be retained. Does he not hope that the population of the Commonwealth will increase, and consequently that a large quantity of galvanized iron will be used 1 The Government assume that when a man is in a position to cover his house with galvanized iron he is a fit subject for taxation. Coghlan states that in New South Wales there are 18,794 inhabited huts and dwellings with canvas roofs, in Victoria 5,862, and in Tasmania 1,195. He does not give the figures for Queensland, South Australia, and Western Australia where canvas is most ‘largely used for roofing purposes. But speaking of dwellings generally, he says that the number of dwellings built of canvas, linen, and calico ave 18,794 in New South Wales, 5,S58 in Victoria, 8S9 in South Australia, and 1,552 in Western Australia. Canvas buildings are not fit for people to live in permanently. Why should we place any obstruction in the way of those who desire to replace the bark on their roof with corrugated iron 1 In the interior of Australia it is impossible to build houses more cheaply or quickly than with galvanized iron. The poorest persons who have to erect buildings in the interior must use corrugated iron, and vet we are asked to say that it shall be subject to a heavy tax. It cannot be contended that this duty is necessary from a protectionist point of view. Senator Barrett has pointed out that there are three firms manufacturing corrugated iron in Victoria, while a very large quantity is also being manufactured in New South Wales. I understand that those are the only States in which galvanized plain iron is made, and there no duties were imposed under the State Tariffs.
– Galvanized iron is made only at the Lithgow works in New South Wales, and the industry was, established there on a 20 per cent. duty.
– That duty was in operation only two years. In Victoria, where there has been no duty on this article, there are three firms engaged in the industry. Therefore, we can look at the proposal only from the point of view of revenue, and I say distinctly that galvanized iron is not an article upon which we should endeavour to collect a large amount.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales).For the arguments which have been adduced in favour of placing this item upon the free list I have every sympathy ; but I would point out that, so far as they touch the fiscal aspect of the case, they could apply to every other item in the Tariff. If we are to indorse them while dealing with this item we should propose that every other item in the Tariff be placed upon the free list. If I were called upon to frame a Tariff upon free-trade lines I should vote for the motion ; but, as we must have revenue, it is a little hypercritical to cavil at a duty of something between 5 and S per cent, while we have passed duties ranging up to 25 and 30 per cent. With every sympathy for the primary producer, and with a desire to relieve him as far as- possible of taxation, I can see very little reason for objecting to a duty of 5 per cent, on the roofing of his house, -while we impose a duty of 25 per cent, on the roofing for his head. Some honorable senators who ask us to support this motion voted for a 25 per cent.’ duty on hats. For this reason, and believing that the duty, whilst necessarily increasing to some extent the price of the article, is only one of those which must be imposed in order to raise revenue, I propose, with very much regret, to vote with the Government.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - I think that it is due to myself that I should explain that I have never for one moment attempted to sneer at the miner, nor has any honorable senator on the protectionist side done so. On the other ‘hand, we have certainly attempted, and with success, I think, to hold up to ridicule honorable senators’ who, while claiming that they wish to relieve the miners of some of their burdens, have endeavoured to reduce the duties on silk hats. Honorable senators will recollect that in the early part of the Tariff discussion -Senator Matheson and others continually quoted .the position of the pioneer miner of the Western Australian gold-fields in support of a demand for the reduction of certain duties ; and when we came to deal with “Senator Symon’s proposals, suggesting to another place that the duty on silk hats, high-class cigars, and blanc-mange powders should be reduced, we could not refrain from drawing the attention of -the committee to the way - in which some honorable senators proposed to reduce the burdens on the miner. When we referred to the-fact that some honorable senators desired to reduce, a duty in order that the miner might have a linoleum on his tent floor, it was not with any desire to sneer at him, but only to show the hollow pretensions of honorable senators on the free-trade side.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia). - It is only right ‘that I should reply to some of the statements whish have been made this afternoon with respect to the reason which prompted me to submit this motion. In defending the. duty from a protectionist stand-point, Senator Barrett pointed out that there are three industries already established in Victoria, but he did not tell us that they were created under free-trade conditions.
– The honorable senator is making a mistake. I said that there were three galvanizing establishments in Victoria.
– Why did the honorable senator defend the duty unless . he thought its imposition was necessary for the expansion of the industry 1 If it has been possible to found three of these establishments in Victoria without ‘any duty, why should this impost be necessary now when the whole of the Commonwealth is open to them for a market? Tint what is the galvanized-iron industry ? A vat is.prepared, in which ;a solution for the galvanizing of iron is placed. -Then a large crane is employed in lowering a number of plain iron sheets into the vat, and after they have remained in the solution for a certain time the iron is galvanized. That is the whole scope of the industry to which we are :asked to afford 5 per cent, protection against, I suppose, the cheap-labour cranes of China or India. With regard -to Senator McGregor’s lecture, I think she will give those of us who support this motion credit for having sufficient sense to be able to look after ourselves. I shall give the States >all the protection they require when I am satisfied that such will lead to the establishment of State-owned iron-works, and will not be for the benefit of any private firm. But this item does not affect that question. We have no guarantee that if we agree to the duty the spoils of the monopoly will not .go into the hands of the manufacturers. In supporting the duty, ‘Senator McGregor is supporting, not State-owned iron-works, but private manufacturers, the monopolists, and the future Carnegies of Australia. He was very funny at the expense of -Senator Dawson who championed the miner, but the very example which he gave showed that this tax will -lessen the .accommodation which the miner’s hut affords. As Senator Dawson has pointed out, the average miner builds . his hut out of his scanty savings, and ‘we are going to compel him to reduce the size of it, in order that duty amounting to 5s., which otherwise might be devoted to the purchase of another sheet of iron, may be paid, not into the Treasury, but into an industry owned by Mr. Sandford and others. Senator McGregor may know -something of the manufacture of oleomargarine, but I pit my knowledge of building against his j and when1 he ‘talks of placing 6-ft. sheets of iron over a 12-ft. room, he does not know what he is speaking about. Last week Senator Styles discussed eloquently for the benefit of the farmers the way in which the votes given by protectionists in the Senate and another place would benefit them ; but he ought to have told them this afternoon how this duty, amounting to 15s. per ton, will reduce the price of the iron they use. He cannot controvert the statement that in most of the towns in Australia galvanized iron is the roof of the working .man ; that slates compose the roofs of the mercantile classes ; and that tiles constitute the roof of the rich man. Thus, by agreeing to a duty on galvanized iron, he is agreeing to a taxnot upon the roof of the rich man, but upon the roof of the worker . I do not mind helping theminers, because I recognise that, if there are three industries which Australia needs to assist her, they are the mining, agricultural, and pastoral industries. These producers cannot be protected, as their products go into the markets of the world, and every shilling of duty which we impose on the articles they use is a handicap upon their struggles in the foreign markets. Galvanized iron is used by every one of them ; the pastoralist uses it for his shearing sheds, his stations,and outbuildings; thefarmer uses it to shelter himself, his stock, and his machinery; while the miner finds it the most portable covering for his domicile. It forms the greater portion of the roofing and building material of the gold-field towns in Victoria and Western Australia, and it is because this duty affects the three primary industries which cannot be protected, that I urge that it should be remitted.
Senator BARRETT (Victoria). - I wish to clear away a misapprehension that seems to exist in the minds of ‘Senator Pearce and Senator Smith with respect to the remarks I made earlier in the afternoon. With a great flourish of trumpets theyask how it is that there are four establishments in connexion with this industry in Victoria without a protective duty ? It must be remembered that the galvanizing industry is not confined to the galvanizing of sheets of iron. It is not merely roofing iron which we are discussing. Galvanized iron work enters largely into other manufactures. When I referred to four establishments in Victoria, I meant four that were engaged in iron galvanizing generally. As Senator Styles and others have pointed out, the iron industry in the future is likely to be very extensive as far as the Commonwealth is concerned. The burthen of my earlier remarks was that although what is proposed is only a revenue duty it would to a great extent have a protective incidence. Senator Pearce has referred to the method employed in galvanizing iron. Evidently he does not know very much about it. He says that the iron is simply dipped into a vat by means of a crane, and that when it is drawn out again we have the finished article. Such is not the case. I had two or three years at this business in the trade with which I am connected, and I know something about it. The process is this - first of all there has to be prepared a solution of muriatic acid and water. This mixture has to be of a certain strength, because if pure muriatic acid were used, in two or three hours there would be no iron left; it would be all eaten away. The iron is dipped into the solution. After it has gone through that process, and the scale or rust which may be adhering to the iron is thoroughly cleaned off, it is dipped into a solution of pure muriatic acid, dried over a coke fire, and put into a stove. After that it is put into the galvanizing pit, taken out again and plunged into cold water, after which it is dried or cleaned with sawdust. It is a fairly extensive process, and certainly is not to be treated in the light and airy fashion adopted by Senator Pearce. Under the circumstances, I am prepared to allow the item to go as it stands in the schedule, although I Am sorry that the Government, in the interests of those who are engaged in the iron industry, and who intend to engage in it, are not prepared to put it upon a more substantially protective footing.
– I shall vote with the Government in this case, as I regard the duty proposed as one of a revenue character. It will not amount to more than 5 per cent., and the duty cannot be called excessive.
Question - That the House of Representativesbe requested to amend item 74 by adding to the duty, “Iron, galvanized,’ plate and sheet, per ton 15s.,” the words, “and on and after 1st July, 1902, free” - put. The committee divided -
Ayes … … …8
Noes … … …14
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to.
Item 75 (Lamps and lampware) agreed to.
Item 76. - Lead, sheet, and piping, free.
– I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 76, by adding the words “and on and after 1st July, 1902,1s. percwt.”
Under the Tariff as originally introduced there was a duty of £2 10s. per ton, or 2s. 6d. per cwt., on sheet-lead and piping. That duty was struck off by the House of Representatives. The previous duty in Victoria was £2 10s. per ton, in New South Wales there was no duty, in Queensland there was a duty of £2 10s. per ton, and the same duty was also levied in South Australia and Tasmania, whilst in Western Australia there was no duty. There is £35,000 worth of pig - lead worked up into sheet-lead and lead-piping every year in Australia, and the whole of this material is produced within the Commonwealth. It pays railway carriage from the mines to the factories. Since the duty was struck off by the House of Representatives, a shipment of lead-pipes and sheet-lead has been ordered, and is about to be delivered into the Commonwealth. The singular thing is that the Hardware Association of Victoria in its price list of October 21st last - a week or two after the Tariff came into force, and when there was a duty of £2 10s. per ton - quoted a certain price for lead, sheet and piping. The price is precisely the same, although there has been no duty since 10th December. This shows that the consumer does not pay the duty. I have the list here, and it is open for inspection. It may be thought that there is a certain amount of natural protection to this industry through the freight that has to be paid on the lead imported from Great Britain. But, as a matter of fact, the manufacturer of sheet - lead and lead-piping can send a consignment at the rate of 25s. per ton from London to Western Australia, whilst a consignment of precisely the same material from Melbourne to Western Australia pays £1 per ton. This shows that there ‘is a natural protection of only 5s. per ton to the manufacturers of sheet-lead and lead-piping in New South Wales and Victoria. Again, it has been thought that the carriage to Australia would be some protection. But, as a matter of fact, the London price of piglead, as shown by the Argus list of the 5th April, was £11 9s. 4½d., whilst the Melbourne price for the same article was £12 2s. 9d.; that is, 13s. 4½d. more in Melbourne than in London. So that it will be seen that the manufacturer of lead-pipes and sheet-lead pays half the carriage himself. The average price of pig-lead is 10s. or11s. more here than in London, and, according to my calculation, the natural protection left is 14s. or 15s. per ton, if there were no other consideration. The manufacturer here has to pay a higher rate of wages to men who work shorter hours. He has also to pay more for fuel, and more for money borrowed, and should, therefore, get more interest on his capital invested. The duty I propose is only1s. per cwt., but I suppose the Government will oppose such an amendment, seeing that they desire to adhere to the Tariff as it came from the other Chamber. In view of the fact that the Tariff as introduced imposed a duty of 2s. 6d. per cwt., or £2 10s. per ton, the Government could now very well support a proposal for a duty of £1 per ton.
– On the ground which I have already stated on many occasions, I cannot accept the amendment. I agree with Senator Styles in the protectionist views he has put forward, but I intend that, as far as possible, the Tariff shall be returned to the other Chamber in the shape in which it was presented to us.
– All the amendments which have been proposed in the Tariff are stated to take effect from 1st July, and, under the present circumstances, that appears slightly ridiculous. Some other date ought to be fixed, because we cannot ask the House of Representatives to agree to alterations taking place on a date which has already gone by.
– The date is only nominal ; the amendments will operate from the date on which they are agreed to.
– I very much doubt that. If we leave the date unaltered, it will be open to any keen member of the Government in another place to raise the point that the Senate has proposed something which is obviously impossible, and that, therefore, all the suggestions must be declined. As to the item itself, lead is one of the primary productions of Australia. The commodity is produced here in quantities far beyond any possible local consumption, and the value of the article cannot be in any way increased by means of a duty. The chief manufacturers of this commodity carry on their operations in Sydney, and they neither require nor desire a duty.
– I support the amendment of Senator Styles, who is a good protectionist, and entitled to take a hand in framing a Tariff with a protective incidence, when so many attempts are made in the other direction. The excuse given by Senator O’Connor for not accepting the amendment is not valid. He states that he desires to adhere to the Tariff as it came from another place ; but not very long ago he was willing to back down when the item of gold lace was under consideration.
– That was to remove an anomaly.
– If we can give protection to our local industries we should do so.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 76 - “Lead, sheet and piping, free,” by adding the words, “ and on and after 1st July, 1902, per cwt.,1s. “ - put. The committee divided -
Ayes … … … 5
Majority … … 14
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to.
Item 77 - Mangles, clothes wringers, and washing machines, ad valorem, 20 per cent.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 77 by adding the words “and on and after 1st August, 1902, 10 per cent.”
These are articles used mainly by widows, deserted wives, and other struggling and industrious women, who have met with adversity, and who endeavour to make a living by undertaking very necessary but poorly remunerated work.
– Tools of other trades are free.
– Exactly; and though some of the articles mentioned can be made in Australia, many of them, on the other hand, are patented, and must be imported.
– I must oppose this suggestion. The honorable senator’s view that the only persons concerned in this duty are poor washerwomen is altogether mistaken, because these mangles, clothes wringers, and washing machines are used very largely in households. The washerwoman has no monopoly of the mangle, especially as there are mangles used in almost every household in the land. The other articles referred to are also largely used in households, and so the honorable senator’s ad misericordiam appeal on behalf of the poor washerwoman appears to fall to the ground. Another honorable senator suggested that these articles should be admitted as tools of trade. That seems to me a very extraordinary argument, because, for the same reason, pots, pans, and kettles might be admitted free on the ground that they are the tools of trade of the cook. Honorable senators must see at once that tools of trade are tools used either in a manufacturing process or in the carrying on of some industry. To say that articles which are used not merely by tradesmen, artisans, and manufacturers, but generally by the community, are tools of trade, and should therefore be admitted free, is to say that one-half of the ironware covered by this Tariff should be admitted free, because it constitutes tools of trade. The suggestion is carrying the tool of trade argument a little too far. I hope that upon every ground this item will be allowed to remain as it is. Those who use these articles can certainly afford to pay the duty. Th& bulk of them can be manufactured here, and 20 per ‘cent, is not too high a duty to impose upon them.
– I supposethat if we say a word against Senator Neild’s proposition we shall be accused of sneering_at the poor washerwoman and the poor widow, as on the last item we were accused of sneering at the poor miner. In all probability the majority of the people who purchase- mangles and American wringers are able to pay the duty proposed, and such a duty will be a hardship in only a very few instances. The honorable senator’s poor widow- and poor washerwoman will not be able to get an American clothes-wringer or a mangle, but she will have to use her hard knuckles and elbow grease if she has any washing to do. This proposal, made in order to get up a little cheap sympathy, will not go down with the committee. A 20 per cent, duty will not prove a very great hardship, and in all probability a number of Senator Neild’s constituents will start making these very desirable aids for the saving of labour if this duty of 20 per cent, is imposed. I think the committee should very promptly shut down upon these fraudulent proposals, which are submitted with an outcry on behalf of the poor widow. The poor widows did duty for the distressed banks when they had a bad time in 1893. They were useful to persons in favour of sweating in opposing the Factories Act and Early Closing Act, and they are now trotted out again in the interests of the free-trade party. The party is just about bankrupt, and the widow is brought forward to save them, as she saved the banks in the past. I trust that the committee will not agree to this- proposal.
– When I look at the words, “Mangles, clotheswringers, and washing machines,” I think of Chinamen. A great deal of the laundry work in all the big towns of Australia is done by Chinese, and we know that John does not pay much towards the government of the country. As some one has said, lie can live for six months on a bag of rice and the smell of an oil rag, and therefore in this case even free-traders might allow the duty to stand. It will not affect a great many poor washerwomen, and it must be remembered that a woman buys one mangle to last her life. I think that John Chinaman should be made to pay duty upon every occasion : and I heard- a similar argument advanced when we were considering, the duty upon rice. If the duty is permitted to remain as it stands, John may have to contribute a little towards the revenue of the Commonwealth.
Senator Lt.-Col. NEILD (New South Wales). - Senator O’Connor pooh-poohed the idea of a lower rate of- duty upon these articles on the ground that they were tools of trade, because, on that ground, it might be urged that the pots and pans which are the cook’s tools of trade, should also be admitted duty free. Surely the honorable and learned senator knows- enough about the ordinary- affairs of life to know that cooks do not carry on their business in the private premises in which they ordinarily live. The cook goes out to work, and uses his employer’s apparatus and tools of trade, and he is not called upon to supply them for himself. How does my honorable, and learned friend reconcile his lofty scorn for this proposal on the ground that these articles are used in all households with the fact that in this Tariff sewing machines are included in the free list? The honorable and learned senator proposes to give a sprightly young woman her sewing- machine free of duty, and -to tax the poor old woman to the extent of 20 per cent, upon her mangle. It would be quite unnecessary to go through column after column of these exemptions to point the moral of what I am saying, but, while we find printing, machines of the most expensive type and a great many other articles admitted free, it does seem to me an extraordinary « thing that there should be such a desire on the part of the Government to derive Customs revenue from the poor and needy. It is all very well for Senator Styles to talk of Chinese laundry work. I suppose that in the large cities, and in some of the large towns, Chinese laundrymen are occasionally to be found, but how many are there compared with the number of white laundresses ? I suppose they would not amount to more than 1 per cent.
– Fob every two white laundresses there is one Chinese laundryman here.
– I am not speaking of one locality, but of the whole Commonwealth, and I should be surprised to find that even in any one locality the proportion is that stated by Senator Styles. With respect to the argument that the articles which we are now considering are used in various households, I say that sewing machines are used in quite as many households as .are mangles, and that if we go through the exemption list we shall find a number of articles which are ordinarily used in households. Therefore Senator O’Connor’s reply on that ground does not amount to much. Senator Higgs does not think that 20 per cent, is a high duty, but I venture to suggest to my volatile friend that he would consider a reduction of 20 per cent, upon a little sum of £400 per annum a considerable reduction. In that case the honorable senator would consider the proportion, a fairly large one, and after all is said and done it is a question of degree. A 20 per cent, reduction on £400 would be a sufficiently large reduction to be of some interest to Senator Higgs. If an unfortunate washerwoman has to pay £.6 instead of £5, or £12 instead of £10, for an article which she requires to use for the purpose of obtaining, her daily bread, the proportion, although it may be only £1 or £2, is still a very heavy charge. The Government might very- well give way in this instance, and if they do not, I hope that there will be a majority who will see that it is a reasonable proposal that I am making.
– I feel called upon- to make some defence for being willing to agree to a duty of 10 per cent, on mangles, clothes- wringers, and washing machines. I hold in my hand a list of articles which the Government have agreed to make free. One of the first of them is linotype machines, which are generally owned by wealthy- firms. In the first instance, they cost about £700 each, and I believe they are sold to-day at .£500. Steam hammers, and all sorts of valuable, costly tools which are required by great engineering firms, are admitted duty free, and yet we are asked to impose a duty of 20 per cent, on mangles. These articles are used in households as well as in laundries. They are used by all sorts of people, who gain their living by mangling clothes for others.
– Are not 90 per cent, of them used in households ?
– No. Every year it is becoming more and more usual for people to send out their clothes, and the business of washing and laundrying is passing gradually into the hands of persons who do nothing else, and largely into the hands of the charitable institutions. I feel, that I shall be open to a great deal of blame for voting, in favour of even a 10 per cent, duty. Taking no note of the Chinaman on the one hand, or of the widow on the other, 10 per cent., even as a matter of compromise, is a very high rate.. I hope that the motion will be carried by a very large majority.
– The statement of Senator Styles that two Europeans to every Chinaman are engaged in this industry has been challenged by Senator Neild. I have looked up the figures for Victoria, and I find that whereas in 1900 there were US laundry establishments run by Chinese with 194 workers, in 1901 the number of establishments had increased to 140 with 242 workers: In 1901 we had 521 European1 workers in Victoria, as against 412 in 1900. The proportion of Europeans to Chinese is about two to one, and the figures that Senator Styles gave at random were perfectly correct. I believe that if the figures were worked out it would be found that the position in Victoria is a very fair reflex of the position in the Commonwealth. I am prepared to vote with the Government.
Senator PULSFORD (New South Wales). - The figures which have been given by Senator Barrett show that every year it is becoming more and more usual for persons to employ laundries to do their work. Taking Victoria alone, the figures show a very large increase in the employment in these establishments. This is- going on, I believe, in every State, and within a. certain number of years there will be no Chinese left; According to the statement made by Senator O’Connor, the bulk of the articles included in this item are used in private houses. If that were so iti would upset Senator Barrett’s argument ; but Senator O’Connor is largely wrong in what he said in that respect. These articles are very largely used in businesses which are wholly devoted to laundry work, and the industry is growing every year. Under the law of the Commonwealth, the number of Chinese workers will decrease year by year, and ultimately disappear, and then the business will be left wholly in the hands of white people.
– I am much surprised that the motion of
Senator Neild has not been to make these articles duty free. We free the tools of trade in other industries. Mangles any wringers are largely used by women who have to support their families. They are used in thousands of cottages. If they were used in only laundry establishments, I do not know that I should be so much in favour of making them duty free. When the bread-winner is taken away, the widow with a familyto support turns to washing andlaundrying as a means of earning her living. How can she earn a livelihood unless she purchases a machine 1 Yet it is proposed to place a duty of 20 per cent. on the machine she requiries. I think that a 10 per cent. duty is too high. On the free list we find linotype machines, which are used by Mr. David Syme and other great newspaper proprietors, who can well afford to pay a 20 per cent. duty. The bootmaker’s machinery is also placed on the free list, and he is given a very high protection. But the machinery of the washerwoman, who very often has to compete against coloured labour, is taxed 20 per cent. It is not the Chinaman who uses laundry machinery, because he relies on hand-labour. My experience is that it is the white man or the white woman who uses laundry machinery.
– What do the Chinese mangle with? They do not mangle by hand.
– The Chinese do not use wringers, or if they do they use them very little. I have been through Chinese laundries, and horrible sinks they were as a rule; but 1 did not see much machinery. The white man’s laundry is provided with machinery of every description. I regard this duty as a tax upon unfortunate women who have to earn a livelihood for themselves and their families. I shall be very much surprised if the committee does not by a large majority agree to the motion.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 77, by adding the words, “ and on and after 1st August, 1902, 10 per cent.”- put. The committee divided
Ayes … … … 13
Noes … … … 7
Majority … 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Item 78. - Manufactures of.metals, viz., agricultural, horticultural, and viticultural machinery and implements, n.e.i., including shares and plough plates cut to shape, horse gears ; and roadmaking ploughs, scoops, horse road rollers, and machines, ad valorem, 15 per cent. . . .
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 78, by adding to the duty “Manufactures of metal, viz., agricultural, horticultural, and viticultural machinery and implements, n.e.i. . . . ad valorem, 15 per cent.,” the words “and on and after 1st August, 1902, 7½ per cent.”
It seems to me that we have now a substantial opportunity to assist the farming community and those generally settled upon the land. It has been admitted by practically both sides of the committee that the conditions in Australia are such that it is impossible to render any substantial assistance to the farmer by the imposition of duties on his products.
– We say that we can render substantial assistance to the farmer by imposing duties on his products.
– There are some who believe that it is possible to render help by duties on anything, but a large section believe that no substantial assistance can be rendered to the farmer in the way I have mentioned. On the other hand, many of us think that the best way in which to assist him is to make the burdens placed upon him by the Government as light as possible. Whilst we desire to remove from the shoulders of those engaged in what are called the primary industries of the country all taxation which has a tendency to do their productions harm, we must remember that revenue has to be raised. The only reason that I have not moved that another place be requested to make the item absolutely free is because people all over Australia realise that whatever their calling may be, they have to pay something under existing conditions towards the revenue of the country. An argument in favour of the reduction of this duty is that a great deal of agricultural machinery is patented, and for that reason cannot be produced here. If we consider, first, what has been so often urged by Senator O’Connor, namely, that a duty imposed by the Commonwealth should be a fair compromise between the various States, it will be found that7½ per cent. is, as nearly as we can arrive at the figures, a compromise between the pre-existing duties. Agricultural machinery, for example, was free in New South Wales ; in Victoria it was subject to a duty of 15 per cent., reapers and binders being free ; in Queensland there was a duty of 25 per cent. on some lines, while others were free ; in South Australia the duty ranged from 15 percent. to 20 per cent., while certain lines were free ; in Tasmania, agricultural machinery was free ; and in Western Australia there was a duiy of 5 per cent. on certain lines, while others were free. If these figures are worked out, it will be found that a substantial compromise between the whole of the State Tariffs is the duty named in the motion. Looking at the matter from the stand-point of revenue, it surely cannot be urged that a reduction will decrease the revenue. The argument in favour of the imposition of the duty originally proposed by the Government was that it would directly encourage the manufacture of agricultural machinery in the Commonwealth. The duty was imposed, not as a revenue tax, but as a protective one, and it was admitted that after the lapse of a few years the revenue raised under it would be very small. It is very difficult indeed to draw any absolutely correct comparison between the number of persons actually employed in the various States in the making of agricultural machinery, except with regard to the totals of persons employed in industries of this class, because in Victoria and New South Wales the divisions under which the statistics are given are very different. For instance, the manufacture of agricultural implements stands comparatively low in New South Wales as regards the extent of labour employed, but we find that in this respect other classes of engineering works in that State stand much higher than in Victoria. I take it that the reason that there are only 169 persons shown to be employed in the making of agricultural implements in New South Wales, as against 1,151 in Victoria, is that the industry is more specialized in this State. If we look further we shall see that in the statistics relating to New South Wales figures are given not only in regard to the manufacture of agricultural implements, but under the heading of engineering generally. We have also a division relating to iron works and foundries, and other metal works, all, more or less, producing agricultural implements. The agricultural implement factories in Victoria are more specialized, and show a better result when collected under the individual heading of “ agricultural implement works “ ; but when we take the total number of persons employed in all the industries coming under the heading of “machinery and metal works “ the position is reversed. New South Wales, without any protection whatever, either in respect of agricultural implements or anything in connexion with engineering, employed, in 1900, 11,091 hands in her machinery and metal works. In Victoria, in the same year, notwithstanding the small protection - for Victoria - that was given on agricultural implements, and the extreme protection given in regard to the manufacture of many other articles, there were only 9,000 persons employed in these trades, leaving a balance of 2,091 in favour of New South Wales. These figures include engineering works, iron foundries, docks and slips, lead works, railway carriage, bicycle, cutlery, and all other works of that class. I have already admitted that on the figures Victoria has a tremendous advantage over New South Wales under the heading of “agricultural machinery “ ; but that is to be explained by the fact that, to a very large extent, agricultural machinery is manufactured in New South Wales in general engineering works. I submit that a duty of 7½ per cent. would be a reasonable one from a revenue point of view ; that as against a duty of 1 5 per cent. it would produce, if not in the immediate future, at all events ultimately,, a revenue from year to year in just about the same proportion as we shall obtain it during the next few years, while the result of a very heavy duty would be to place on the shoulders of the farmers a very great burden in connexion with man3’ classes of machinery which cannot be manufactured here. We have heard a great deal from honorable senators opposite as to what they will do for the farmer. They say that they will give him the benefit of protection. Real protection is that which will stimulate and assist an industry, whether it is by the imposition of a duty or the remission of one. We find protectionists agreeing to place on the free list tools of trade, and what are agricultural implements to the tiller of the soil but tools of trade? If we are to buy only in Australia or to pay a heavy duty upon those machines which are of the most recent invention, and which are patented, it will be impossible for many of our producers to obtain them. The patent laws prevent the most modern machines from being manufactured in Australia. The consequence will be that if the farmer wants new and modern machinery he will have topay the full amount of duty upon a machine imported from the country in which it is manufactured. Any person who really believes in the principle of enabling the producer in Australia - whether he is an artisan, a cultivator of the soil, or a miner - to produce cheaply, will, as far as the financial exigencies of the case will allow, carry the principle of free tools of trade to the length of giving also free modern machinery. If it be a good principle that workmen should be allowed to have free tools of trade, the same argument applies to the farmer and the miner ; and, as I have previously said in the course of these debates, the only substantial way in which we can help our farmers is by allowing them to purchase machines of the most modern type free of duty. We know perfectly well that in agriculture, everything depends upon cheapness of production, and cheapness of production to a great extent depends on the use of such labour-saving machinery as is from time to time invented. What has enabled America so successfully to compete in agricultural products ? Surely it is the fact that her people have invented more up-to-date machinery of their own than have the people of any other place in the world. Almost all our modern agricultural machinery has originally been invented and patented in America. No doubt improvements upon it have been made e’ w here.
– And no doubt they have pirated some of our machinery.
– Possibly. The success of an industry of this kind especially depends upon cheapness of production, when the produce has to face competition in the markets of the world. It is impossible to protect the farmer absolutely. He has to sell his produce in London. If he cannot get the cheapest machiney from America, and cannot avail himself of the most modern inventions in this respect, he will be handicapped very much in the race when he is competing with other producers. In the handling of grain, in the treatment of crops, in the tilling of the soil, in dairying, and in almost everything connected with farming, success depends upon the employment of the most modern improved machinery. If we tax that improved machinery we hinder production. The protectionists may say that we can produce those machines for which patents exist which are held by Australian firms. But there are many of the most modern appliances connected with farming the patents of which are owned in America. Any one who knows anything about patent law and about commerce is aware that patents are frequently taken out in Australia as well as elsewhere. The consequence is that we are debarred from producing the patented, machines in Australia until fifteen years have elapsed. When the fifteen years have gone by, and probably a new machine has been patented, the Australian producer will be allowed to obtain the old one free of duty ; but until that time comes he has to pay the exact amount of the duty that is placed upon the patented article that he wishes to purchase.
– What patented farm implements are imported into Australia today?
– If the honorable senator does not know, I do not intend to mention them to him. He should look up his own information. I know perfectly well, from my experience of him, that all the information I could give him would not convince him. There are some people whom it is impossible to cure ! I submit that the amount of protection that has been imposed upon these goods has not had the tendency that protective duties have usually been credited with - of employing in the protectionist States a larger quantity of labour than in other parts of the Commonwealth. I look at the amount of duty to be imposed purely from a revenue point of view ; though I confess that if I had my way, and the exigencies of the case allowed me to carry my opinion to its logical conclusion, I should vote for free mining and agricultural machinery, and for permitting io be imported free everything that was necessary for the development of the primary industries of the country. But I realize that the farmer, and the miner, like every one else in Australia, has to contribute towards the revenue, and therefore, instead of proposing that the item be free, I have moved that the duty be 7-£ per cent.
– I do not know that there is a more important item in the Tariff than that now under discussion, and it appears to me that the honorable’ and learned senator who has just proposed the motion before the Chair has not quite grasped the full significance of the position. Before I reply to his arguments, I think it would be well that the committee should be reminded of what the proposal of the Government, as embodied in the Tariff, is. It is proposed that -
Agricultural, horticultural, and viticultural machinery and implements, n.e.i., including shares and plough-plates, cut to shape, horse gears, and road-making ploughs, scoops, horse rollers, and machines shall pay a duty of 15 per cent. The honorable senator is in error in saying that the Government first of all proposed that these machines should pay a high protective duty of 25 per cent. Their original proposal was 15 per cent., a lower duty than that borne by other machinery, for the express purpose of recognising the position in which our agriculturists stand. The desire of the Government was to make certain that no heavier duty was put upon the agriculturist than was absolutely necessary in the interests of revenue, nor than the industries affected could bear. This item must be read in connexion with the list of special exemptions. There are exempted from duty the following agricultural machinery and implements : -
Chaffcutter knives, drill wheel and hoe cultivators, huskers and shelters, ‘horse rakes, lucerne launchers, maize harvesters and binders, maize huskers and shedders, milking machines, mowers, potato raisers, rakes and ploughs combined, root cutters, straw stackers, strawsonizers, threshing machines, winnower forks (wood and steel). 39 x z
In addition to that list, if honorable senators look at the next item they will see that there are also exempted from duty -
Automatic can making and closing machines, cream separators, testers, and pasteurizers.
In fact, we find that the majority of the machines used in the agricultural industry are free.
– Some of them were taken out of the Government’s original list of dutiable goods.
– What does it matter who took them out of the original list ? I want to discuss this matter apart from personal considerations, and surely it is right that we should consider the manner in which the farmer is actually affected by this duty. It does not matter whether the machines in question were exempted at the instance of the Government or of a majority in the House of Representatives. We have to deal with the position as it exists to-day. There may be other matters which bear incidentally on the position, but I want to make it clear that at any rate the machinery I have mentioned has not to pay the 15 per cent. duty. That is a duty which, I submit, achieves in the best possible way, and in a way least onerous to the farmer, the task of raising a large amount of revenue. An estimate, made on very careful consideration of the probabilities of the expected revenue in a normal year, places the amount at £34,950 ; that is, after the disturbance of importation caused by the imposition of the new Tariff has disappeared, and after local production has begun to have something like full effect. During the Tariff discussion, I have been enabled,- in many instances, to place before the Senate, in corroboration of estimates of revenue, the actual collections made; but in the present case, unfortunately, the collection of duties on agricultural machinery has not been kept separate. The actual collections on machinery and iron work generally have been very large, but, as I say, the figures do not show separate results for agricultural implements and machinery. We may, however, get some idea of how the duty is likely to operate, from a revenue point of view, by reference to the amounts collected in States where a similar duty was imposed. I should here like to refer to the statement that the proposed 7- per cent, is a compromise. It is not a compromise in any sense of the word, not even if it be assumed that a compromise can in any way be a guide as to what a duty ought to be.
– I did not say that a compromise was a guide ; what I said was that that was an argument which had been frequently used by the Vice-President of the Executive Council.
– I have never used such an argument except in cases where I could show that the resultant compromise amounted either to a reasonable protection or to a reasonable revenue duty. A compromise cannot be a guide as to what a duty ought to be. Suppose there were only two States to be considered in relation to such a duty, and that one State imposed a duty of 15 per cent, as a fair protective duty for the purposes of that State, while the other admitted all the goods free. The average in such a case would be 7 j per cent., but it would be absurd to suppose that because we place the two together and divide by two we get anything like a reasonable indication as to what protection is sufficient. When we take into consideration New South Wales, which imposed no duties, we are brought face to face with exactly the same absurd position sis that disclosed in the illustration I have given. In considering the matter of revenue, we might, perhaps, lump the States together and divide by the total number. I do not, however, see much use in such a course, and certainly, in dealing with duties from the protectionist point of view, it is absolutely absurd and illusory. The suggestion now made gains no additional merit from being a compromise between, or an average of, the different duties.
– Nobody ever said the suggestion was a method of ascertaining what reasonable protection was ; but Senator O’Connor’s arguments have been in favour of disturbing existing conditions as little as possible.
– If the honorable and learned senator will adhere to that argument, I shall show him conclusively that, wherever industries have grown up under these duties, he is proposing to disturb existing conditions to such an extent as to probably destroy the industries.
– Are free-trade States not to have a say ?
– I prefer to answer the honorable and learned senator in the course of my speech. I mention this matter incidentally, because I am about to refer to the duties which were in force in the various States, for the purpose of showing what revenue was collected. In New South Wales the articles under discussion were free, but in Victoria there was a duty of 15 per cent, on all but reapers and binders. In Queensland the duty was 25 per cent., with a very large free list, which practically meant a mere revenue duty on a very limited class of articles.
– Shares and plough plates were the only articles taxed.
– Agricultural machinery was substantially free.
– It was practically, free, and I suppose that the duty did not yield much revenue. In South Australia, the duty was 15 per cent., and in some cases 20 per cent., with a very moderate free list, though it was larger than the free list in Victoria. In Tasmania, this class of goods was admitted free, and in Western’ Australia there was a duty of 5 per cent, on certain articles, others being admitted, free. The only States in which there was what can be described as an effective duty on the greatbulk of agricultural machinery were Victoria and South Australia, which for many years have been the great agricultural States of Australia. In proportion to atea and population, the production in agricultural, horticultural, and kindred pursuits, and the number of people employed, have been larger in these two than in any of the other States.
– No doubt Senator O’Connor has the facts, but I think Tasmania has been omitted from his consideration.
– In regard to horticulture, it may be that Tasmania has a higher record in proportion to population, but in the production of wheat and grain on a large scale there can be no doubt that Victoria and South Australia are far and away ahead of all the other States. New South Wales, by reason of the large area of land which is there available for the production of wheat and other grain, has entered as a competitor, and, no doubt, in time will outstrip both Victoria and South Australia. At the present time, however, these two latter States are the great agricultural States of the Union. In view of that fact, it is important to consider that the people of both these States have deliberately adopted a policy which has had the effect of creating a large and prosperous industry. That industry bogan by supplying the farmers of the particular States, and afterwards developed to such an extent as to supply the great bulk of the farmers of Australia. The people of Victoria and South Australia imposed duties which had not only the effect I have mentioned, but also the effect of yielding a large amount of revenue. In Victoria, in 1900, agricultural machinery and implements were imported to the value of £78,066, while in the same year the value of similar articles imported into New South Wales was only £64,629. In each case, of course, the importations were from abroad, and we see that the value of the imports into protective Victoria was larger than the value of the imports into the free-trade State. It may be said that a certain portion of the imports into Victoria were for distribution - that machinery and implements were sent, say, to Riverina and other places for which Melbourne proved a more convenient centre of distribution. As against that there certainly must have been very strong reason why a duty of 15 per cent, should have been paid, instead of these goods being sent into free-trade New South Wales. The duty proposed in the Tariff has a very much larger list of exemptions than was attached to the duty in Victoria. In Queensland the value of similar imports in 1900 was £34,312, and in South Australia., notwithstanding the effective duty on almost all articles of the kind, the « value was £4.1,068. I need not trouble with the imports into the other States, because they do not affect my argument one way or the other ; but we cannot disregard, from the point of view of revenue, the illustration drawn from Victoria and South Australia. We find that in these States, which admitted free only a very small proportion of agricultural machinery and implements, there were large importations on which the duty of 15 per cent, could be collected. It is now proposed to reduce that revenue by one-half; and in order to keep even to the level pf the revenue which will be derived under the proposal of 15 per cent., the importations would have to be doubled. Who will say that the value of the agricultural implements and machinery imported is likely to be anything like double that of the present importations? If the honorable senator carries this proposal the effect will be to shut up a number of the factories and workshops which are producing these implements, and I quite agree that if he does that the importations will be increased. But is that desirable, even from the point of view of my honorable friends opposite, who admit that they are not here simply for the purpose of carrying out the doctrine of free-trade under all conditions ? There are many of them who, like my honorable friend Senator Sargood, while adhering to free-trade principles, .ire still pledged to the opinion, and have acted upon it here, that we should not allow existing industries which have grown up under protective duties in this or in any other State to be unduly interfered with. To cut down by one-half the amount of protection which has been enjoyed hitherto in the two States which have so largely produced agricultural machinery will be to interfere very seriously with existing industries. I advert for a moment now to the question of protection, which I shall deal with at length later on, merely for the purpose of showing the dilemma in which my honorable friend opposite places himself. He can secure the amount of revenue which we should derive from a 15 per cent, duty only, by doubling the importation. Are we likely to do that ? I say we are not likely to do it, and if we do it, it can only be by throwing out of the market a very large proportion of the goods which are already manufactured here.
– Or by increasing the area under cultivation.
– If that is done there will be a distinct violation of one of the first principles laid down here, even by free-traders, that existing workshops and factories which have grown up under the previously existing state of things shall be interfered with as little as possible. I would ask Senator Staniforth Smith whether he really thinks that by lowering the duty’ upon agricultural machinery the area of land placed under cultivation will be increased ?
– Does the honorable senator suppose that the difference between the value of an agricultural machine duty paid and duty free - assuming that the cost will be increased by the imposition of a duty - will influence the area under cultivation? How often does even a man, who farms on a large scale, and gets the latest inventions to apply to the. working of his land, buy one of these machines ?
– About every fourth year.
– Does Senator Staniforth Smith suppose that the fact that a man will have to expend double the amount of duty now proposed every fourth year is going to make such a difference in the area of land cultivated as to compensate in any way for the loss of employment which the closing of these factories will bring about.?
– That is not the whole of the argument. The farmer who buys these machines does not buy only one every four years.
– I am quite aware of that, but each machine will last four or five years, and many will last much longer. A farmer may buy some machine each year, but that machine will last him for the four or five years. I say there is no escapefrom the position as I state it. Looking at the matter from the point of view of revenue I say we cannot afford to lose the large amount of revenue which will be derived from a 15 per cent. duty. I say also that it can be obtained under a duty of 7£ per cent, only by doubling the import, and I say that we cannot double the import without interfering with existing industries to an immense extent.
– The honorable and learned senator forgets the new markets which Victorian manufacturers have for the implements they manufacture.
– I do not forget that. I am considering not only Victoria and South Australia, but my own State of New South Wales, and also Tasmania, and the other States. Why should we not in all of the States, and particularly in the large agricultural States, have factories producing these implements to as large an extent as the States of South Australia, New South Wales, and Victoria are producing them at the present time? Upon that point I should like to use again an argument which I used to-day in dealing with another topic. It is this : where we have such a small amount of protection as 7J per cent., we do not overcome the difference in freight between America and Europe, and freight between the States themselves. To put the matter in a more concrete way : a machine is imported from England, and pays a certain amount of freight. We will say that it is imported into Queensland in one of the ships’ trading directly with ‘ports in that State. The same machine, we will say, is made in the State of Victoria, and imported to the same place by a ship trading between the States. I will undertake to say that between the two freights the difference will not amount to more than 5s. per ton, if to that amount, in favour of the Inter-State freight. When there is such a moderate difference between freights in Europe and freights between the States of Australia a duty of 7£ per cent, is nothing.
– All the difference lies in the fact that the Australian producer sends the article he manufactures direct to the man to whom it is supplied, while the foreign producer sends his goods to either Melbourne or Sydney.
– The honorable and learned senator is thinking of the mail boats, but I am speaking of the large cargo boats which go direct, for instance, to Queensland ports, and of the large boats which go direct to ports in Western Australia.
– They go direct to Fremantle, but the goods have .afterwards to be shipped from there to Bunbury and other places.
– That takes place everywhere.
– No ; the Inter-State boat will carry the machinery straight to Bunbury.
– There may be Inter-State boats going direct to a port like Bunbury, but in the majority of cases agricultural machinery has to be sent inland, and the cost of transport from the port in such cases would be the same whether the goods were imported from England by an ocean-going boat or from one of the States by an Inter - State steamer. This is a -matter of great importance in considering the protection which will enable manufacturers to start in other States, and which -will give them the advantage that manufacturers in Victoria and South Australia have at the present time - in having secured the markets of the other States. It is clear that we must give a reasonable amount, of protection against the outside world. From the point of view of revenue there is no question that it would be a most risky thing - to put it on the lowest ground - to interfere with a duty which, judging by what has happened in South Australia and Victoria, has yielded a very substantial amount of revenue. The probability is that this duty, if imposed, will be paid very largely on machines which cannot be made here, and we shall certainly lose a very large amount of revenue if it is not imposed. I altogether join issue with my honorable friends opposite when they say that the farmer has. derived no benefit from this Tariff. They, of course, assert that no one derives any benefit from protective duties. They have taken part here in imposing protective duties without believing in the least in their efficacy. I can quite understand a person holding those views arguing that, no matter what duty we impose upon farm produce, it will not benefit the farmers ; but I do not think that view will appeal to the majority of honorable senators, because I find that in going through this Tariff they have been engaged in imposing duties upon products not only for revenue purposes, but for purposes of protection, and, for the purpose of protecting the farmer, the man who will buy these implements, and the man who, above all others, will ‘be directly chargeable with any burden which will be imposed on account of these duties.
– All bogus protection.
– Is not all protection bogus to the honorable senator ? Everything is bogus to him except free-trade which subtends the whole angle of his existence. He sees nothing else but free-trade, and I do not hope to convince him. To run through a few of the items in connexion with which protection has been given to the farmer, I find, amongst others, bacon, hams, butter and cheese, stearine, vegetables, and fruit of different kinds, and though it has been sought to place wheat upon the free list, the farmer is protected in respect of other grain such as barley and oats. Honey, jams and jellies, hops, dried fruits, potatoes, malt, meats, preserved milk, onions, pickles, salt, and wine are also protected. I should like to know why the farmers, who get the benefit of these duties, should not have to bear some burden in connexion with the revenue. I should like to know why the farmers, who have such a large proportion of their agricultural machinery admitted duty free, should not bear the burden, if any burden is to be borne by them, of the payment of this duty.
That argument is, of course, only available on the supposition that there is any burden to be borne by the farmer ; but, as a matter of fact, that burden will exist only in the case of a comparatively few machines which are not on the free list, and which cannot be manufactured here. The condition of the agricultural implement trade in Australia shows most conclusively that the effect of local production has been everywhere to givean article which is more adapted to the particular needs of the States, which in some cases is cheaper, and which in the great bulk of cases certainly does not cost any more than the imported article. That has been the experience in all the States where this production has attained to any dimensions up to the present time. It may be interesting to honorable senators to have the statistics in regard to the Inter-State trade in agricultural machinery and implements. They are most instructive as tothe position of Victoria and South Australia - the only two States in which there has been any effective protection and in which the duties were very much the same as the federal duties. In 1899, New South Wales exported to Victoria £93 worth of her own- manufactures, while Victoria exported to New South Wales £84,077 worth of her manufactures. That is the difference between New South Wales and the State where the industry had been fostered under protection, and had thus developed to such an extent that New South Wales was willing to take £84,077 worth, although it was open to her to get her machinery from any part of” the world. There is a most extraordinary contrast when we find that the great State of New South Wales, which had every facility for becoming a manufacturing State, which had a local demand for agricultural ma’chinery of all kinds, and which supplied a very small quantity of her own manufacture, was not able to capture the markets of any other State, except to this ridiculous extent, that in 1899 she exported to Victoria £93 worth. It may be said that perhaps her trade was with some other State. In that same year she sent to Queensland £604 worth, to South Australia £15 worth, to Tasmania £19 worth, to Western Australia £10 worth, and to New Zealand £24 worth. On the other hand, Victoria supplied to New South Wales £84,077 worth, to Queensland £4,666 worth, to South Australia £364 worth, to Tasmania £993 worth, to Western Australia £2,539 worth, as against £10 supplied by New South Wales. In that year South Australia exported to New South Wales £22,713 worth, iis against £15 worth exported by New South Wales to South Australia. To Victoria South Australia exported £4,723 worth, while to Western Australia she sent £9,608 worth, as against £10 worth exported there by New South Whales. The figures for the next year are comparatively the same. For instance, New South Wales exported to Victoria £1,312. worth, while Victoria exported to New South Wales £81,922 worth. In 1900, the export to South Australia by New South Wales was £793 worth, and by South Australia to New South Wales £20,345 worth. These figures establish a crushing case in favour of the policy which has produced such wonderful results in the two States. We have the two States starting with agricultural communities, whose requirements they had to supply. But we also have New South Wales with a very large and fast growing agricultural community, with larger districts to supply, with a largely increased area of land going under cultivation every year, and yet we find that her industries fell short of supplying her own requirements to the extent I have mentioned in 1899. On the other hand we find that Victoria supplied very largely her own requirements, and was able to export to New South Wales, Queensland, and other States. What conclusion do I draw from these figures ? That that result takes place in the two States where there has been a protective policy, and that in the State where there has been no protective policy there has been no growth of these manufactures.
– Until the last three or four years New South Wales did not grow enough wheat for herself.
– Will the honorable senator say that the wheat production in New South Wales has not for. the last six or seven years been very considerable ? I do not remember the figures, but I believe that she has exported a large quantity, and the production is increasing year by year.
– According to Coghlan she exports nothing.
– No doubt, but she had her own requirements to supply. What is the use of talking of matters of that kind when the honorable senator must admit that, at all events, there was in this country, which imported so very many agricultural implements from Victoria, South Australia, and other countries, a large market, if she was manufacturing such articles ? I do not care what quantity of wheat was grown. The second position, which is established conclusively by these figures, is that in the two States with a protectionist policy the industry has grown, and that in the State without a protectionist policy it has made no start towards growing. An honorable senator has asked the question - If this industry has attained such dimensions in Victoria and South Australia, is it not able to stand without any protection? It is not. In the first place, it is not right or fair to other States not to give them a sufficient advantage by way of protection to enable them to become manufacturing States and to put their industries in the same position as those of Victoria and South Australia. There is no doubt that in those States the industry is to a large extent established. But why has it been established ? Because each State has had its own market as a certainty to begin with, and with that knowledge the manufacturer has been able to extend his operations, and with his surplus to compete in other States with the product of those States and of other places. If he had not had these markets, if he had had no certainty of securing and keeping these markets, what position would he have been in ? To put an illustration, supposing “that to-morrow we removed this duty, and made all Australian ports free to the importation of agricultural machinery, what would be the position of the Australian manufacturer ? It has been admitted by even such an authority as Sir William McMillan that a free port always becomes the dumping ground of surplus products. When we know that these goods are turned out in such large quantities in America, England, and other places, and that there is such competition amongst the manufacturers, how can we be certain that we may not have our market invaded at any time by a particular class of goods which can, and will, be sold year after year at an under price, and an under value, for the express purpose of driving the local article out of the market? Can there be any doubt that it would pay the enterprising firms in America, England, and Canada to sacrifice their prices year after year for the purpose of getting such a market as Australia ? If they once secure tlie market, what possibility can there be of the Australian manufacturer recovering it again ? That is my answer to the argument suggested by the honorable senator’s interjection. No protectionist on principle ever uses the argument that protection is required only until the industry affected has acquired a certain position, and that it may then be removed. A protective duty remains always. It is there as a protection - not only to give an industry an opportunity to develop, and to make that large output which alone can place any industry upon a satisfactory basis, but for the purpose of insuring that its output shall not be interfered with, so far as the home market is concerned, by the incoming of the cheap surplus and refuse goods of other manufacturing countries. To all honorable -senators who are not dominated by” a fetish or a fad, who want to see revenue obtained, and who want also to see an industry created here for the manufacture of agricultural implements, I would say that they can carry out both purposes by the adoption of a duty which in the case of Victoria and South Australia has been proved to yield a substantial amount of revenue and to give a protection which, has enabled these industries to grow and flourish, so that they are able to supply, not only the needs of their own particular States, but to enter into competition in the other States with the products of other countries imported undera free-trade Tariff. I would appeal to honorable senators whether it really is not worth while to sacrifice some little portion of their preconceived views in order to cany out the purpose of establishing a national industry which will give employment to our own people. I cannot understand the position taken up by Senator Ewing. He spoke as if we were to be for ever dependent upon the manufacturers of America. His cry was, “ If we impose this duty, what is to become of our poor farmers who have to buy this and that from America ?” Are we to be always in leadingstrings ? Are we to be told always that we cannot manufacture our own implements? We have proof to the contrary ; we have proof that we are able to manufacture them, not under free-trade, nor under such a shadowy protective duty as one of 7- per cent., but under a dutv which has been proved satisfactory from the point of view of revenue, as well as of protection.
– The honorable senator has forgotten the great Clyde Engineering Works, near Sydney.
– Will the honorable senator tell me why those works are not able to supply the whole of the farmers of New South Wales with agricultural implements, and why it has been necessary for that State to import in one year £84,000 worth from Victoria, to sa)’ nothing of what has been imported from America and the old country ? I am dealing now simply with Inter-State competition. If the Clyde Engineering Works are as wonderful as the honorable senator imagines, why have they allowed the Victorian article to capture the New South Wales market ?
– The honorable and learned senator knows that the Riverina district, to which the bulk of this machinery has been sent from Victoria, is much nearer Melbourne than Sydney, and that the cost of carriage is cheaper.
– That may appear to be a very ingenious answer, but it is no answer whatever. These implements have been sent, not only to the Riverina, but to every part of New South Wales. We know also that in proportion to her population South Australia has sent quite as large a contribution of agricultural machinery to New South Wales as has Victoria. Any agricultural implements sent to New South Wales from South Australia have to bear a cost of transit, which is equal to what would have to be paid on the New South Wales railways. The honorable senator knows that, for the express purpose of retaining the Riverina trade for the Sydney manufacturer, differential railway rates were charged upon the New South Wales railways, to counteract those of South Australia, Queensland, and Victoria. How is it - and this is something for honorable senators opposite to answer - that these great manufacturing industries in New South Wales - and I wish they were greater - have allowed large quantities of agricultural machinery to be imported into that State from Victoria and South Australia?
– The honorable and learned senator has not told us of the output of the Clyde Engineering Works.
– I have not the particulars of what they produce ; but it is unnecessary to have those particulars in order to be enabled to reply that they do not put out sufficient for local requirements, because in addition to importing machinery and implements from Canada, America, and the old country, New South Wales had to take £S4,000 odd worth from Victoria, and some £22,000 worth from South Australia, in one year. If these industries were flourishing in New South Wales, as they were in the other States, why were not all these goods made there? Another aspect of the matter is that the result of this protective policy has been, not only to create a large industry employing a great number of persons - and employing them, not only in these particular trades, but in the ancillary trades which belong to them - but that it has not increased the cost of these articles to the consumer. Honorable senators . will recollect, no doubt, that we had a very able, practical, and instructive speech from Senator Playford during the second-reading debate on the Tariff, and I am sure I am expressing the feelings of every honorable senator when I say that we are heartily sorry that he is not present, and that we shall welcome him when he comes back, as I hope he will do shortly, completely restored to health.
Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear.
– We all remember that, in his very interesting speech, Senator Playford pointed out that the result of the establishment of these industries in Victoria had been a reduction of the cost of these manufactures to the farmer, the production of an article better suited to his needs, and one which might also be renewed, or repaired, or supplied with missing parts, in his own country at any time. That has been the result in Victoria, as it has been the result in South Australia ; so that for this great benefit of a splendid industry established by protection and maintained by protection the consumer has to pay no increased price. If he had to pay something, it would be only a small compensation for what he has gained by the protective policy. All that he will have to pay duty upon now will be articles which must be imported from abroad, an expensive class of articles, which are not upon the free list, and which it is only reasonable should bear a duty. I have occupied some little time in dealing with this matter, because it is of immense importance to our agriculturists, and of immense importance to the revenue I hope that it will be looked at from the point of view of the desirability of bringing about a fair balance between the requirements of revenue, and the protection of those industries which are already in existence, and which mean homes and livelihood to an immense number of our fellow citizens.
– I can compliment the VicePresident of the Executive Council upon the very interesting address which he has delivered in dealing with the item under consideration ; but I am, nevertheless, sure that a considerable number of honorable senators do not agree with the views that he has laid down. In the first place, he has argued that we should retain the duty of 15 per cent, on agricultural machinery in consequence of the revenue that will be derived. I think the amount is something like £34,000. But, at the same time, he has argued in favour of the duty rather from a protective than from a revenue stand-point, and much more force was placed upon the argument from the protective than from the revenue point of view.
– We must have regard to both points of view.
– I recognise that we have to look to the revenue aspect as by no means unimportant. But we have also to regard the farming industry of the country as one that deserves and is entitled to the fullest measure of assistance at our hands. However the honorable and learned senator may feel towards the manufacturing industry, I still maintain that the farming industry is far more important in the interest of the community. If we are to distinguish between giving a high measure of protection to the manufacturers and giving a fair amount of assistance to the farmers, unquestionably the farmers have a right to hold the balance. Senator O’Connor has candidly admitted that only two States of the Commonwealth have really entered upon the manufacture of agricultural implements under a protective policy. In the great State of New South Wales they have been free of duty for many years past. In Tasmania and most of the other States they have also been free. Victoria and South Australia are the only States in which this industry has grown up under a system of protection, and the VicePresident of the Executive Council admits that the industry is not yet able to stand without the prop of protection. Although Senator O’Connor now contends that protective duties must always be in existence in regard to this industry, such duties were originally proposed in Victoria upon the plea that it would only be necessary to continue them for a few years until the industries had felt their feet, and that not more than 12^ per cent, protection would be required. But the 12 J per cent, was increased from time to time until the duties became almost prohibitive. Now Senator O’Connor contends that it is necessary to give a measure of protection to the other States in order that they may build up industries - as against whom ? As against the industries already established in other States, which will still have the benefit of the protective duty that it is proposed to give. So that practically the honorable and learned senator is giving no further help to the States in which the industries do not exist than would be given by abolishing the duty altogether. Victoria and South Australia have their industries established, whereas the other States will have to make a fresh start. Then comes the question as to the competition from the outside world. Victoria has been enabled to meet that competition in New South Wales, as has been shown by Senator O’Connor’s figures. She has been enabled to export agricultural machinery to New South Wales in open competition with the rest of the world. Senator O’Connor argues that Victoria and South Australia have been able to export agricultural machinery, owing to the fact that duties have been placed upon imported agricultural, implements in those States. But although large quantities of machinery have gone into New South Wales, while that State has been a large producer of wheat and other agricultural commodities, it must be borne in mind that the great increase of cultivation in New South Wales, has been in the Riverina district and the western slopes. In the table lands of New England the amount of agricultural production is not one-fourth what it has been in Riverina and the western slopes districts. The reasons why such large quantities of agricultural implements have been imported into New South Wales from Victoria and South Australia, are that those States were much closer to the districts in which cultivation was being carried on, and the means of communication from the sea-board within New South Wales were not as rapid and as cheap as the means of communication from the States whence the machinery was imported. It must also be remembered that it has only been during the last few years that New South Wales has taken the field as an agricultural State. In the earlier stages of her history the pastoral industry swallowed up every other interest in the whole of the back blocks of the State. Victoria, with her smaller area and denser population, her agricultural lands being much closer to the sea-board, naturally took the lead, so far as agriculture is concerned. In South Australia there were not the great inducements existing for. other industries than agriculture, such as prevailed in Victoria in the earlier days and in New South Wales at a more recent period. Consequently South Australia naturally increased her areas of agricultural land, and equally naturally demanded a large quantity of agricultural implements which could readily be supplied by industries established almost upon the spot. I have taken the trouble to note down the real position so far as concerns areas under cultivation in the various States in the year 1899. I find that while New South Wales had in round numbers 2,500,000 acres under cultivation, Victoria had nearly 3,200,000 acres under cultivation, while South Australia had 2,225,000 acres. So that South Australia, with a much smaller population, had almost as much land under cultivation as had New South Wales. The reason for that was that South Australia found agriculture to be a far more suitable industry than the pastoral, and has been working upon that line year after year ever since the foundation of the State. But now New South Wales is rapidly increasing her areas of agricultural land, and we also have the satisfaction of knowing that a great number of the agriculturists in New South Wales are men who left Victoria for a State where they could live under free-trade conditions. In New Zealand, where there is a large area of land under cultivation, agricultural implements are admitted absolutely free. There is, nevertheless, a large production of agricultural implements in New Zealand. I find from the statistics of New Zealand that in the year 1901 she imported farming machinery to the value of £72,698. Strange to say, of the machinery forwarded to that State, a greater quantity came from New South Wales than from Victoria. New Zealand imported from Victoria £2,751 worth, and from New South Wales £2,908 worth. On referring to the New Zealand Handbook, which gives the returns for 1898, I find that the whole of New Zealand’s production of agricultural implements and machinery for that year amounted in value to £102,000, so that without a duty New Zealand manufactured nearly two-thirds of the quantity of the agricultural implements she used, giving employment to 581 hands. These facts show that New Zealand has been wise enough to allow her agriculturists to import their machinery duty free. We must realize that the time has now come when the principal agricultural States of this Commonwealth - New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia - must rely upon the outside markets of the world for the sale of the products of the land. That being the case, it behoves us, for the sake of the farmers themselves, to reduce expenditure in every possible way, and by that means induce people to go on to the land rather than crowd into the cities with the desire to make machinery for agriculture, which may or may not be ultimately in existence. I have taken note of the value of the machinery in use for farming purposes, apart from dairying and pastoral pursuits. In New South Wales, on 31st March, 1901, the value of those implements was £2,065,000, of which £1,031,000 worth was in Riverina. Here is a reason why these agricultural implements have flown from Victoria into this portion of New South Wales, instead of coming from Sydney, and it is abundantly clear in what direction the market has been opened for these particular manufactures. Is it not a fact that Victoria and South Australia have always regarded the Riverina as their natural market? Have these States not always felt it a great injustice that the Riverina is not absolutely within their borders ? Victoria and South Australia have always had the advantage of this market, though they have not had the disadvantage of paying any part of the cost of government there. The large production in this industry in Victoria as against the comparatively small production of New South Wales has been claimed as an evidence of the advantage of protection. . But it has been pointed out that in the different branches of the manufactures of machinery, and in the various industrial pursuits comprised in the item under discussion, there are about 9,000 persons employed in Victoria as compared with 12,000 in New South Wales.
– In the same industry ?
– All these industries are jumbled together in the item.
– Comprised in manufactures of metals, which are dealt with in item 78, are a number of different industries, and I take them as a whole, and say that there are absolutely more men employed in them in New South Wales than in Victoria.
– But the 12,000 includes all the men employed in tlie shipbuilding industry, and at the docks.
– The great thing is to have men employed, not in one or two particular industries, but extended over the whole State. In that way men are enabled to go to that class of industry in which they think their services are in greatest demand.
– A variety of employment. That is the protectionist principle.
– And I say that the variety of employment in New South provides for a greater number of men than in Victoria.
– A few minutes ago Senator Gould said that the people should all go on the land.
– It is much, better for people to go on the land than to go into any particular manufacturing industry. The more they are distributed in employment the better it is for the State. Senator O’Connor -pointed out that New South Wales imported £84,000 worth of machinery from Victoria ; but, practically, that is counterbalanced, by the £78,000 worth of machinery which Victoria imported from over the water. As to the imports into Riverina, it was claimed by Senator O’Connor that differential rates on the railways were established to enable the New South Wales people to get possession of that market. On the other hand, it must always be remembered that both Victoria and Queensland were sinners in the same way, and, along with differential rates, had the advantage of water communication, which New South Wales was unable to enjoy in consequence of the long distance which goods had to be carried by rail in the latter State. Senator O’Connor wanted to know why the farmers should not bear some portion of the burdens of taxation. It occurs to me that, so far as we have gone with the
Tariff, the farmer has already been called on to bear a very fair amount of taxation, as must be admitted when we remember the considerable duties which have been imposed on his wearing apparel, his hats and caps, boots and shoes, and everything he may see fit to use. The farmer is perfectly willing to pay a fair share of taxation, but it is not reasonable to ask him to bear the amount represented by the proposed duty of 15 per cent. I hope that the result of this debate will be a division in favour of reducing the duty to 7½ per cent. Indeed, it would only have been reasonable to propose that the farmer in the Commonwealth should be placed in exactly the same position as his brother in New Zealand, and get his implements free. But, viewing the whole of the circumstances, and bearing in mind the fact that by the Tariff we are endeavouring to obtain a fair amount of revenue, I suppose the farmer must be prepared to pay a modicum of taxation.
- Senator Gould urges that the farmer must have someconsideration ; but I hope that he, and those who are acting with him, will remember that there are others to whom we must have regard in considering any proposal to reduce this duty. The speech of Senator Ewing was one of the lamest that I have heard in this Chamber, considering the importance of the question. By a reduction of the duty not only will the livelihood of thousands of people be imperilled, but the capital of those who have embarked in this particular industry may be lost. I hope that honorable senators will in this case, as in others, deal out evenhanded justice to all concerned. The suggestion of Senator Ewing will, if carried, deal a deadly blow to an industry which has been fostered and encouraged in several of the States, and the interests of those who now find employment in this direction should not be lightly put aside. The one cry of Senator Ewing was that we must have revenue, and he endeavoured to prove that his proposal would return a larger amount than that of the Government. Senator O’Connor, however, effectively answered that argument ; and, in my opinion, a reduction of the duty does not necessarily mean increased revenue. Neither do I think that if our market is opened to the other manufacturers of the world, the Australian farmer will get his implements any cheaper. The experience of Victoria has been rather the contrary. As soon as a duty has been lowered and a blow dealt at local industry, imported implements have been increased in price. That was so in the case of reapers and binders, which, in the absence of any duty, were sold at double the invoiced price. I have received several communications from the largest manufacturing firms in Victoria. As a rule, I do not read communications of this description, but in this connexion I believe it to be my manifest duty to allow the manufacturers to speak for themselves. They have put their case better than I could put it, and they show how, under any lower duty than 15 per cent., they would not be able to compete with the manufacturers on the other side of the world. The first letter is from Mitchell and Co., of Elizabeth-street, North Melbourne, one of the largest firms in the city, and is as follows : -
In view of the discussion which is likely to occur on the question of agricultural implements and machinery, when that item conies before the Senate, we would like to say a few words on the subject, as it affects us personally, in the hope that they will prove of some service to you. The claim we make primarily is that we are to be classed as a natural industry, just as much as farming or mining pursuits, and it should, therefore, be one of the first considerations of the Senate to afford us some measure of protection against outside competition. This industry has many manufacturers throughout the Commonwealth who are dependent on the protection afforded at the Custom-house, and it has taken them a number of years, and enormous sums of money, to bring their plants up to the requirements of the States. They have produced an article in the past that is better suited to the Australian farmer than anything that can be imported, but latterly the foreign manufacturers have turned their eyes to Australia, and are now endeavouring to their utmost to secure a monopoly of the trade at the expense of the local manufacturers. When brought into competition with them we are at a disadvantage for the following reasons : -
Our men work 48 hours per week, against the foreigners’ week of about 60 hours, whichin itself is a gain to our competitor of about 25 per cent. over us. Our seasons only last a few months in the year, and during the rest of the time we are slack, whereas the foreigner can go on making machines all the year round, because he has the markets of the world to supply, and what he misses in one he will gain in the other. Raw material of all kinds can be obtained at his own doors ata low cost, while we have to pay heavy charges on it, and in a number of cases have to pay duty also. It is contended that under the Federal Tariff we enjoy a larger field by being able to trade with the other States, and that they can and will do the same with us ; but we would point out that the cost of shipping to any port in other States of the Commonwealth is asmuch as the cost of shipping from America to the Commonwealth, so that we gain very little when we have to compete with them in the other States.
Against whom have we to compete? The wealthy American firms have established branches here instead of having an agent to represent them as formerly, and when they are invoicing goods they charge them at the manufacturer’s cost price, so that the amount of duty paid is purely nominal. They have copied the locally-made ploughs and combined harvesters by sending to America sample machines, from which they make an inferior imitation, composed greatly of cast and malleable cast iron against the high-class forgings of the local article. These imitations are cheap and nasty, and must ultimately prove expensive bargains to those who purchase them. What will be the result of this unfair competition ? Simply that the local manufacturer will be forced out of the market and the numerous industries will be closed down, and consequently the thousands of men now employed throughout Australia will be thrown out of work, which will be a serious matter for the Commonwealth.
The duty on implements and machines lias for years past been at the rate of 15 per cent., which after all is purely a revenue duty, and for the last five years the importations have been increasing yearly. As a matter of fact a natural industry like this should have a fair measure of protection from foreign competition, and in asking you to agree to the proposals of the House of Representatives we think we are asking nothing out of the way. It is only a small measure of protection, and the revenue obtainable from it will mean a good deal to the Government
A valuable industry like this should receive proper protection at the hands of the senators when it is clearly proved that the locally-made article is foi.’ and away better than the imported one. The imported machine will lust for a few years only, whereas the local one will last a lifetime.
Victoria and South Australia have a .large number of factories engaged in the manufacture of implements and machinery, which were established and built up under protection. New South Wales with free- trade has only one or two factories, showing that without some protection the industry cannot prosper. With her vast territory and large natural resources there should be factories in every corner of that State, giving employment to thousands of her people. With, coal and iron on the spot, it should be the leading State in the Commonwealth so far as this particular industry is concerned, and not occupy the backward position it does to-day.
We must apologize for writing you at such length. but our only excuse is that the question is of such vital importance to us and the other makers of this class of machines that we feel, unless some attempt is made to prevent any alteration in the duty, we shall be completely worked out of the market.
That is one of the letters.
– Is the honorable senator going to read the lot 1
– Yes, I am. I have explained that I consider it my duty to do so. The manufacturers have put their case very clearly, and there is so much at stake that, in my opinion, I should not be doing what is right, if I did not give this information to the committee. Some honorable senators may think they can afford to treat the matter very lightly, but if their livelihood was at stake, if they were workers in this industry, and might possibly have to look forward to the loss of their employment, they would feel as strongly as I do on the subject, and would be ready to give the committee every shred of information which they could get upon it.
– If the honorable senator proposes to read dozens of letters of that kind, he must not afterwards blame honorable senators on this side for waste of time.
– I propose to read four or five letters from leading manufacturers, whose names are household words in this State, and who are well known throughout the Commonwealth. The next letter I have is from Hugh Lennon and Co., a firm not only known in this State, but throughout Australia. They say -
The agricultural implement manufacturers in the Commonwealth occupy rather a unique posi– tion as regards their competition with foreignmade goods, as you will see from what we now write.
The local manufacturers have to compete against rings, combines, and powerful foreign trusts, that have established throughout the Commonwealth large distributing houses of their own. The trusts in foreign parts invoice their goods to their own people here at bottom prices. For many years these concerns devoted their- attention solely to reapers and binders, which were then absolutely duty free throughout the whole of the Australian colonies, just the same as the)’ are throughout the Commonwealth under the new Tarin;
The farmers of the Commonwealth know to their cost how “the ring,” or trusts, squeezed hundreds of thousands of pounds sterli ng out of them through this unholy combine, and the immense gross profits made out of this useful, duty-free machine have enabled them to build up a mighty organization, which now stalks or sweeps through the country, like a plague of grasshoppers, devouring all the profits of the farm. The selling organization of these trusts employs something like 1,000 travelling canvassers to rake in orders, so that the trusts may poy big dividends in foreign parts, and the “poor farmer” of the Commonwealth pays for all, and the Commonwealth is so much the poorer.
Since these trusts have become so powerful, they have practically determined that the local manufacturer has to go, and when he does go - as surely he must - Lord help the farmer !
In proof of the assertion that the binder ring, trust, or whatever name suits them best, are determined to undermine the local manufacturer, we have only to point out that samples of our best Australian inventions in ploughs, and the combined stripper - harvesters, have been sent to America to copy, and now we have on the market foreign, jerry-built imitations which are now placed in the hands of the selling organizations of the trusts for distribution throughout the Commonwealth, and sell them they will, and at big prices, too, for the foreigner will have his pound of flesh every time, and the big gross profit on his binder and the poor tools enables him to push his goods, whilst the local manufacturer has not sufficient profit to enable him to follow suit owing to the much superior quality of his product.
We” trust that you will use your very best efforts to retain the very small duty that the House of Representatives have passed.
Chas. D. Lennon,
Manager Hugh Lennon Plough and Machine Company.
I n a memorandum attached they say - “ Advance Australia “ has ever been the motto of the agricultural implement manufacturers of Australia, and no body of men have worked harder or more loyally in the interest of agriculture than the implement men - both employer and employe -and all they ask now at the hands of the Commonwealth is a fair measure of protection to the’ industry which has done so much to make Australia what it is to-day. Had it not been for the local-made implements and machines, it is very doubtful whether half the land that is now under crop would not still have been sheepwalks, for when other implements failed, the Australian-made succeeded in opening up new territory, and therefore added new wealth to the nation.
Australian-manufactured agricultural implements have now - through their excellence - made a world-wide reputation for themselves, and the home manufacturer and his employes have proved beyond doubt that they are willing and able to fill all the requirements of the agriculturist of the Commonwealth in up-to-date high-grade implements. The Victorian (now Australian) plough leads the world as a cheap and effective implement for tilling and breaking up the somewhat hard crust of Australia.
The implement trade have by the ingenuity displayed in their manufactures, and in their power to invent successfully new machines suitable to the requirements of Australia, established their claim to the right of existence, and that right they look to the people, and more especially the farmers, of Australia to uphold.
It may come as a great surprise to many to learn that the implement manufacturers of Australia. -the people who have done so much to assist the agriculturist to open up the country at a minimum cost - are threatened with extinction of their trade altogether by the vendor of foreignmade goods. These goods are, as a rule, very inferior in design, strength, durability, and stability to the Australian-madeimplement. They are not, however, offered to the farmers at a price which can be called reasonable, considering the poor class of tool that the foreign trade sell, and the very low figure at which they are landed (duty paid) on the shores of this great Commonwealth.
It may be asked - Why is the Australian manufacturer unable to compete with this very inferior article ? - and to this the reply is - That the Australian implement is designed and built to work, last, and give permanent satisfaction to the user, and therefore costs to manufacture (in many implements) from three to four times as much as the landed cost of the poor implement offered by the vendor of foreign goods which are built “ for sale “ only.
The foreign implement manufacturers have for some years been making a great effort to capture the Australian trade, and. have now established in each State of the Commonwealth distributing houses of their own, and have put in immense stocks of foreign implements in anticipation of an increase of duty. This is particularly the case in the State of New South Wales. The goods handled by them, being of the cheap and nasty breed, are invoiced from their own factories to themselves here, therefore they come in at bottom prices, and the duty of 15 per cent. only amounts to a few shillings per implement, and is practically no protection to the local manufacturer whatever. The fairest plan, therefore, to protect the local manufacturer, the farmer, and the merchant who deals in machinery generally, would be on the fixed-duty basis - so much per implement - instead of on the ad valorem plan
Nearly every vendor of foreign implements throughout the Commonwealth has a reaper and binder as his leading line, and the farmers of Australia - thanks to the press - have been made aware of the existence of the binder-ring, even if they did not know it through their pocket. The reaper and binder ring has taken some hundreds of thousands of pounds out of the pockets of the farmers of Australia through the gross overcharge on this very useful machine, and it has at the same time pretty nearly crippled every implement manufacturer in this fair Commonwealth. The farmers of Australia know to their cost how they have been compelled by the binder-ring to pay from £55 to £60 for reapers and binders which have been admitted duty free landed in every State of the Commonwealth at from £20 to £22 each, and the farmers also are aware of the extravagant methods employed in selling these foreign-made, duty-free machines, and that each member of the binder-ring employs sub-agents in the country districts, territory being allotted to the sub-agent, who receives a commission on every machine that enters his district - in other words, on every machine that is sold in Australia the sub-agents collect an amount equal to 25 per cent. on the landed cost of each machine.
In addition to these sub-agents, the vendor of the foreign-made, free-trade reaper and binder employs an army of canvassers, who go through the country like a plague of grasshoppers, devouring all the profits of the farm.
Now what chance has the local-made implement against these extravagant selling organizations ? For every sub-agent and canvasser of the vendor (or ring) of the duty-free, ring-bound binder has his line of foreign -made ploughs, harrows, cultivators, horse-works, chaff-cutters, mowers, &c, &c, and now he is adding to his already extensive line a poor copy of the combined harvester, which has been invented by Australian brains, and cost many thousands of Australian sovereigns to bring it to the perfect machine it now is - a machine that will give every wheatgrower in the Commonwealth a chance of making a profit on his product, for it has considerably reduced the cost of production, to say nothing of the other advantages that it brings to the farmer.
Now the Australian implement manufacturer does not object to the foreign-made reaper and binder, or any other implement that cannot be successfully manufactured in the Commonwealth, being admitted free of duty, but he does object to the unfair competition brought on by the binder-ring of foreigners, who extort from the farmer such an immense gross profit, through the agency of their combine, that they (the binder-ring) are practically in the position to write down the prices on the other lines which come in competition with the Australian-made implements. This, however, is not the policy of the foreign traders, their policy being to extort from the farmer an immense profit on their cheap and shoddy-made implements. This profit is then used to subsidize territorial agents and other parasites, who “ toil not, neither do they spin,” but simply bleed the farmer for all they are worth.
From Messrs. T. Robinson and Company Proprietary Limited, of Spottiswoode,I have received a communication, in which they say : -
With reference to theduty on agricultural implements and machines, which we called upon you about the otherday, when you advised us to place our collective views before you as representing the trade in Australia, we have had several conferences of the trade since that occasion, but we find great difficulty in sending you a joint letter, for the reason that the matter appeals to us in different ways, probably as our interests are more or less affected. At all events, we have come to the conclusion that it will be better forus to place our individual views before you, so that you may be able to draw such pointers from them as might best assist you in any debate that should occur in the House.
Speaking generally of the plough trade, it would be necessary to bring under your notice how very well the farmers of this country have been served by the plough makers. Under the 25 per cent. duty, which had been the law in Victoria for so many years, a class of implement was developed that had no equal in the world, and this purely because the. trade was worth giving some thought to, as our home market at that time kept the factories pretty well employed all the year round. We contend, under those conditions, no farmer in the world was better supplied with suitable implements for their industry than were those of Australia. Australian requirements in this sense are perhaps different to those prevailing in the older countries, and the implement maker laid himself out to meet those requirements in the best possible way, and hesucceeded so well that only Australian implements came into general use.
Now, sir, we point this out to you, because the people or the firms with whom we are now brought into the closest competition are those whose home affairs, that is to say, the protection afforded them in their own country is very similar to that which prevailed in Victoria under the 25 per cent. Tariff, and this accounts for their being such hot competitors of ours at the present moment. The volume of home trade which they enjoy enables them to laydown the best plant possible for the cheap production of implements and machines, so that it requires no stretch of imagination to see that the few goods they send to Victoria, comparatively speaking, is putting very little extra strain on their producing plants.
It has been said that all Australian industries are small, and, comparatively, they are so, but nevertheless, sir, these small industries are catering for a small aggregate population, and as we have no hope of developing an export trade, that is, outside of Australia, these small industries become our own and our all.
The worst feature of the competition we have now to face is that theimplements we once regarded especially Australian, foreign traders are now pirating. The pirated implements and machines, which are made lighter and cheaper than the locally-built article, are being placed very largely upon this market, and without the duty we now ask for is kept in the Tariff, the competition will become large enough to absolutely crush all local enterprise. It is a fact that the lowering of the duty has had the effect of increasing importation, and with the lowering of the duty local enterprises languish for the want of business.
The gigantic trust organizations which handle the export of American goods are enabled to do business on lines which are impossible to the local manufacturer, and which on the face of it produce a most unfair state of business competition.
All the American firms have a reaper and binder, which is the basis of their business here, and from this source they have drawn enormous revenues out of the farmers in the past, and with this as their principal line still they are enabled to run in other lines of implements and machines, giving them a full list from which to sell, and enabling them, especially with regard to the implements, to deal with the farmers at such prices and terms as are sorely felt by the local makers, and which cannot be regarded as in any way fair competition.
In connexion with the combined harvesting machine, a competition which we are now threatened with also, the Australian manufacturer has done twenty years building, experimenting, developing, and perfecting this machine. We have been assisting the farmer in his operations, where it is possible for mechanical skill to so aid them, in devising a. machine to this end, and we boldly make the assertion that no farmer in the world is so well supplied with harvesting machinery, and in no country under the sun is the process of harvesting cereal crops done with such perfection and such economy as it is in Australia with a machine the product of Australian brain and Australian capital.
Not to tire you with too long a letter, we will conclude this by asking your best assistance in the Senate in seeing that the duty as passed by the House of Representatives benot disturbed, for, small as it is, it affords us at least some little protection, and without it we could not possibly stand.
The next letter I have to read is one from Messrs. Nicholson and Morrow, who have large works in Carlton, where they have been established for 25 or 30 years. Concerning the standard article they supply to the farmers, they write as follows : -
In regard to the proposed duty of 15 per cent. on agricultural implements and machinery now under the consideration of the Senate of the Commonwealth, which will come on for discussion very shortly, we desire to say that we wish the rate of duty as proposed by the House of Representatives to be confirmed by the Senate for the following reasons : - (1). Because we consider it to be areasonable duty.
It will be recognised by all interested in the trade that this rate of duty cannot by any means be considered as protective. It is a purely revenue duty, and on this ground alone it should commend itself to both sides of the House. While it will not protect the agricultural implement manufacturing industry throughout the Commonwealth, it will afford manufacturers some little help in enabling them to compete with the unfair competition from foreign manufacturers. (2). Because the manufacturers in the Commonwealth have to cope with unfair competition from foreign manufacturers.
It is a well-known fact in the trade that Australian manufacturers are called upon, in the prosecution of their business, to face unfair competition on the part of foreign manufacturers, more especially American. This unfair competition is due to the fact that certain American manufacturers have pirated the best ideas of Australian designed agricultural machinery (which have been built to suit the requirements of the Australian farmer), and have manufactured them in America, and have sent them out to compete with the original and genuine article in these markets.
We can cite many instances of this, but the most notorious is the case of the complete harvester ; this is a machine of purely Australian invention, which has occupied the attention of at least one firm for over twenty years, during which time they have given it their sole attention, and have expended a very large amount of money and energy in bringing it to a state of perfection.
The American manufacturers, watching the development of this machine with a jealous eye, have purchased some of the machines, sent them to their works in America to be copied, and facsimile machines are now being landed in various parts of the Commonwealth. This action on the part of the American manufacturers is a distinct attempt to capture the Australian trade in this machine, as it should be remembered that the complete harvester is totally unsuitable for the American farmers, consequently there is, at the present time, no sale for these machines in America.
Another important fact, which we wish to emphasize, is that the American manufacturers have established branch offices of their businesses in the various States of the Commonwealth, and in sending out their goods to their Australian offices they invoice them at manufacturer’s prime cost, and the duty paid upon them is only nominal.
. At no time has there been a combine or ring between the Australian manufacturers to keep up prices.
It will be readily conceded that the American method of conducting business differs very largely from that of other people. In America huge trusts and combines are formed for the purpose of monopolizing trade in every branch of industry. In Australia, happily, this state of affairs does not exist, but we believe an attempt is being made by some wealthy American combines (especially in agricultural machinery) to secure the Australian market, in order that they may have an outlet for their surplus manufactures.
By lowering the rate of duty below 15 percent. it would, undoubtedly, enable these trusts to achieve the object that they have in view, and when it is remembered that Australian manufacturers have sunk an exceedingly large amount of capital in establishing their industry, by erecting works and putting down expensive plants, it will be admitted that it would be very unfair, indeed, to them.
Another potent factor to be considered is that the lowering of the duty would affect a very large number of mechanics and work people - probably some 20,000 throughout the whole of the States - and it is clear that if the duty is lowered to a point that will prevent Australian manufacturers from being able to place their machines on the market, there will be no work for the tradesmen referred to. Compared with American manufacturers, it is admitted that Australian makers of agricultural machinery are very small, but they are large enough to meet the demands of the, Australian farmers, and, therefore, are entitled to the full consideration in the matter of duty.
. By keeping the trade within the bounds of the Commonwealth the money is circulated amongst the community, and other industries are benefited in a greater or lesser degree ; while, if the money with which the farmer purchases his implement to enable him to till the soil is sent out of the country, it leaves nothing behind, and the community is poorer in consequence.
. The Americans themselves havestrenuously pursued this line of protective policy, and at the present time a very heavy rate of duty is imposed upon all foreign machinery of every description coming into the United States. By these means their industries have been firmly established, and it has placed them in a position where they can practically command the trade of the world.
For the above reasons we would respectfully ask that the duty be not lowered, but every facility should be given to Australian manufacturers to establish their industries in the Commonwealth.
There is only one other quotation which I wish to make. A few months ago the whole of the organizations connected with the agricultural implement industry conferred together, and as a result of that conference the circular letter was drawn up which I am about to read. They desire that the duty shall be increased from 15 to 30 per cent., but as the committee know the present proposal is that the duty of 15 per cent. fixed by the Government shall be reduced by one-half. This is what the men engaged in the industry have to say in regard to the matter -
The most critical stage in the history of the agricultural implement and machinery industry has now been reached, and it is in the power of the Federal Parliament to make or mar it. Agriculture is one of the staple industries of the Commonwealth, and we, as the makers of the implements and machinery used by the farmers in tilling the soil and reaping the harvest, are essentially allied to the agriculturists, and hence our industry is also a vital portion of the Commonwealth. We desire for both the farmers and the makers of their implements that protection which is necessary to maintain both industrieswhich ina young country are open to injury from the older countries, with cheaper labour, cheaper money, and the means of commanding the markets of the world. The makers of agricultural implements depend solely upon the Commonwealth for their trade, and it is patent therefore that foreign importation seriously cripples this industry.
We desire to point an important feature in connexion with the whole question. Foryears the Australian makers have been seized with the fact that there are wants peculiar to the Australian farmers, and also that in order for the Australian to compete against foreign agriculturists, it was necessary to provide them with implements exactly suiting their requirements and enabling them to till and harvest their crops at the least possible cost. After years of study, experiment and labour, and the expenditure of large capital in machinery and plant, the Australian makers have succeeded in doing this. But now, when the reward for this outlay is likely to be received, the foreign firms, seeing the prospects of appreciation by the farmers, seek to reap a harvest without any of the study, labour or expenditure, and simply by copying our sole inventions from machines purchased here and taken to their works, are now making extensive preparations to swamp our markets with our own inventions, and thus ruin one of the staple industries of the Commonwealth. This is particularly the case with the harvester, a machine that strips, cleans, and bags the grain at one operation. A 15 per cent. duty is altogether inadequate to maintain the industry, and considering that a large quantity of the material used in the manufacture of the implements and machinery is dutiable from 10 to 25 per cent., it is only just that our request should be granted. In order to show how purely Australian-invented articles have made it possible for the Australian farmer to maintain their industry along with a reasonable protection, it is only needful to compare the difference in the cost of tilling and harvesting the crops : to take, for example, the harvesting alone, - the reaper of twenty years ago averaged per acre, as the total cost, 12s. 6d. ; and then came the stripper and winnower, total cost per acre 4s.; and now we have the harvester doing the work at a total cost per acre of1s. These facts are beyond disputation. The industry is a large one ; many firms in the Commonwealth have extensive works and machinery, and there are over 2,000 men employed, whose average wage per week of 48 hours is 44s. Not included in this 2,000 are a large number of workmen employed in their various works preparing material for use in the construction of the articles made in the agricultural shops. Then there is a large quantity of Australian timber used, and probably shortly iron. Thus in the case of the Australian made articles the bulk of the money remains in the Commonwealth; but in the case of the foreign import the bulk leaves the Commonwealth.
Statistics prove that in the Commonwealth the farmers of Australia have a market for oats and barley beyond their present growth, and that with a reasonable protection, and the machinery already proved to produce crops as cheap as the foreign grower, that as they have thus a wide field for the disposal of their produce, while the makers of their machinery are restricted to the home market that the fear of crushing the farmer is groundless, especially when it can be proved that the additional increase of duty asked for will in no case increase the price of the article to the farmer.
James A. S. Brown,
Representatives Agricultural Implement Makers’ Society Trades Conference.
Melbourne, December, 1901.
– Will the honorable senator give us an idea of the import charges on these implements?
– I intended to quote the statistics bearing upon that point, but it has been dealt with partly by the Vice-President of the Executive Council.. No doubt Senator Styles, who has been looking up the figures, will be able to give the honorable and learned senator the information which he desires. In any case, if he is thirsting for the information I will, at the close of my speech, take out the figures, and perhaps give them in a second speech. I think that the agricultural implement makers have put their position very fairly. They show that, from their point of view, as well as from the point of view of the workers, it is undesirable that the duty should be lower than 15 per cent. They point out that practically 1 5 per cent. is not a protective but a revenue duty, and considering that they and 20,000 men throughout the Commonwealth will be sacrificed if the duty is reduced to 7½ per cent., I think that the committee will not see its way to agree to the motion.
– If the committee is to be frightened by bogeys, or driven from its own judgment by contradictory statements, then possibly there has been some profit in the reading of the wretched penny-a-line stuff with which it has just been regaled. I venture to say that no junior reporter would be allowed, even on the eve of an election, to- worry the columns of a country newspaper with such stuff. I took a few notes as the honorable senator proceeded, and I propose to show some of the absolute contradictions which have been placed before the committee by those who, in Senator Barrett’s opinion, have put their case well. First of all we have in these letters coming from manufacturers, who are interested of course, and have something to gain by the imposition and retention of high duties–
– And a lot to lose.
– They fear to lose the unfair profit which they are now making. We have first of all this cry of disaster. There never has - been an attempt to lower or remove a duty in connexion with which we have not been met with this familiar cry. It rang from one end of England to the other when the first attempt was made to reduce the prohibitive duties which prevailed there. It was heard in Victoria when a successful attempt was made to lower the duties here, and we are not only familiar with the cry in New South Wales, but have seen the justification of the statement that it is so much balderdash. With the removal of the duties imposed by the Dibbs Government the same cries and fears as to the extinction of industries were echoed there, but not a single industry entitled to the name has ever been shown to have suffered by their removal. It is curious that we should have Senator Barrett, a representative of Victoria, and who, I presume, is familiar with the progress of fiscal matters in his own State, telling us that if this duty is reduced these industries will be crushed out of existence. Was not the same statement heard when an attempt was made to reduce the Victorian duties from 25 to 15 per cent. ? Can he deny that after the reduction the industries particularly affected continued to flourish?
– I deny it.
– With alldue deference to Senator Barrett, I prefer the published statistics of the Government to his own denial. They show that more hands are employed in these industries, and that the manufacturers are turning outmore implements than before. If I desired any further statement than that, I should have only to refer to the letters which Senator Barrett has read, and which show that under the’ reduced duty the local manufacturers have been able to supply the farmer with such efficient machinery that he is now. harvesting his crops more effectively and cheaply than are the farmers of any other part of the world. The statement has been made that the importing firms have canvassers spread over the country like a plague of locusts. That is the sort of statement which a junior reporter might consider to be very smart. But is it one that will appeal to the judgment of the committee when we know that however much may be said for it as a phrase likely to catch the ear, it is absolutely wrong ? If” there is a plague of canvassers it exists in Victoria, and not in New South Wales. Speaking of canvassers, as I understand the word, there are not to be found in the whole of New South Wales a score of travelling representatives of these agricultural firms. If that is so, it means that, allowing that the other States absorbed the other hundred, there are something like 900 canvassers in the one which claims to have done so much in the manufacture of agricultural implements, and which has had a high protective duty. If it is true that the importers have this locust-like plague of canvassers, and a local representative in each district, and, therefore, that their methods are so expensive, how is it that the local men, working on cheaper and more economical methods; have not been able to undersell them? The only reason why the imported article has been sold more cheaply is that those who handle it have carried on their business according to up-to-date methods and upon economical lines. It has been affirmed that the Australian agricultural implement is better than the imported one. All that I can say in reply is, that we have to assume that the farmer is a born idiot if he purchases an implement inferior to the one manufactured at his own door. I speak, at least, for the farmers of New South Wales, and I credit them with just as much intelligence as have the average men in the community. They may be left to judge which implement suits their requirements best, and when I see them buying certain articles year after year, I consider that they have demonstrated, at least to their own satisfaction, that those goods completely meet their requirements. Here are some of the contradictions to which I have referred. Senator Barrett read a letter from one of the gentlemen whom he has so gratuitously advertised, in which it is admitted that the cost of the local implement is from three to four times as great as that of the imported article. How does that tally with the statement of another firm, from whom a letter has also been read, that they are selling an article which costs the farmer no more than does the imported implement? Either the one or the other of these manufacturers is drawing upon his imagination.
– The firm in question supply a particular article - the harvester.
– The statement of Lennon and Co. was, speaking generally, that agricultural implements which they manufacture cost from three to four times as much as those imported.
– They referred to their ploughs, which they specialize.
– Then, they admit that their ploughs cost from three to four times as much as do the imported ones. If that is so, what do the operatives mean when they say that there has been no increased cost to the farmer? The two positions cannot stand side by side. If the imported article is, as has been affirmed, a cheap and nasty article, and if those who import it, in spite of selling it at so ridiculously low a price, are extorting immense profits from the farmer, exploiting him and eating up his farm, what becomes of the enterprise of the local manufacturers, who are able to sell the farmer a better article, but who cannot compete with these foreigners who exploit the farmer, and apparently leave him in a hopeless position of insolvency? We are not asked, through the medium of the Tariff to assist people who have shown some enterprise, and who say they are giving us something in return for the assistance rendered, but I point out that we are absolutely asked by the Tariff to become a shield around people who have so little enterprise that they cannot compete with manufacturers who extort enormous prices from the farmer, whilst at the same time selling him a cheap and nasty article. I really do not know how it is possible to sell a man a cheap article, and yet extort money from him.
– The article isso inferior.
– I should say that the farmer is the best judge of that.
– After he has used it, but not before.
– Does the farmer still continue to buy an inferior article ?
– Not the same farmer.
– That means that the local manufacturers have the old farmers as their customers, and do not want any protection as far as they are concerned. It is only the young farmers - the greenhorns - that the foreigners deal with. So that the argument comes back to this : that any man who has been any time on a farm will have discarded the implements made by the foreign manufacturers, and will use those made by the local manufacturers; and we are asked to put on a protective duty simply to protect the local manufacturers against importers whose goods will be used only by theyoungerfarmers, who have never previously worked on farms. But is there a man who proceeds to cultivate land in this country who has never before used agricultural implements ? Surely those who go in for farming are not generally men who have run away from the cities, and who have never used agricultural implements in their lives before. I venture to say that, of every 100 men who go upon the land, 90 have had some previous experience of farming, and have a knowledge of the implements used in it. My knowledge of the farming industry - and it is not a small one - teaches me that when a new agricultural implement is introduced into a district it is viewed very closely and critically by the local farmers. It is the customary thing to arrange for a public exhibition of any new implement of the kind. Such exhibitions, which are called “ field trials,” are attended by all the farmers for miles around. They take place at a central farm, where they can be attended by a great number of farmers. Those who buy these implements are not men who do not know what they are doing. They are as a rule hard-headed, practical farmers, who know an implement which suits them from one which does not. This pretence - for it is nothing more - this empty sham of a pretence, that the farmer does not know his own business, may look right enough to those who would be prepared to run the whole universe if given the opportunity, but as an argument addressed to practical men of common sense it is of no value.. But now we have Senator Styles saying that the argument only applies to the young farmers.
– No - to the farmers who have never used the implement before.
– Then my honorable friend thinks that even old farmers may be caught by some new piece of farming machinery which may be nicely got up. I do not know in the first place how it is that the farmers can have any money with which to buy new machinery, because we have it affirmed that they are being eaten up by the army of canvassers who overrun the country like locusts, until they have hardly left a gate-post standing on a run ! In the face of such statements it rather struck me as being rank heresy, as coming from Senator Barrett, that the letters read by him should say that what our manufacturers had to fear was American competition. I believe that to be absolutely correct. But what does it mean ? Another statement was that the operatives feared the competition of the cheaper labour of America. Surely it is strange that the country which the operatives most fear is the highly-protected country of America. I have no doubt that an attempt will be made to get away from a position which demonstrates the utter fallacy of protection.
– Did the letter say “ the cheaper labour of America “ ?
– I am putting two and two together and ‘making four. I am making, I think, a fair deduction from the letters read by Senator Barrett. Does he deny that these two affirmations are made - (1) that the competition to be feared is American ; and (2) that the operatives themselves say that they fear the competition of cheap labour? By any possible method of arguing can it be shown that this does not mean that the cheaper labour is American labour? But we shall probably be met by the statement that it is not so much the cheap labour of America, as the fear that our markets will be flooded with the surplus products of the manufacturers of the United States. Yet, it is a curious thing that the Americans are sending Australian harvesters to this country. There is no market for them in America, but American manufacturers are absolutely producing the Australian harvester and sending it’ here. Did it cost them nothing to send patterns to America and to make the machines there? We find that these enterprising Yankees - I honour them for it - are producing, solely for the Australian trade, an implement which is not required in America, and is not suitable to American conditions. Could anything go further in proving the hack of enterprise on the part of Australian firms of implement makers than the statements made in their own letters? We are told also that 15 per cent, is no protection. I am glad to hear that statement, because if it is true it is quite clear that the implement makers of Victoria have flourished since 1S96 without any protection whatever. If they can exist for five and a half years without protection, there is no great harm in asking them to continue for a little longer without it, especially as they now have the market of the whole Commonwealth open to them. Further than that*, although Senator Barrett has affirmedwith an utter disregard of the circumstances, of the case or, may I say, with a want of knowledge - that there are no firms of implement makers in New South Wales, he must pardon me for stating that he does not know quite as much about the circumstances of rural New South Wales as I do. He should remember the entire difference in the circumstances of that State as compared with his own. It is quite true that there are not somany implement manufacturers in New South Wales in the sense that factories exist in Victoria employing numbers of hands, but it must be remembered that the area, of our territory is much greater than thatof Victoria, and that our rural districts are further away from the capital. In almostevery country town of New South Wales, however, there is a maker of agricultural implements, although his shop is not classed as a factory, and he is probably known as a blacksmith. Does Senator Barrett know also that the Victorian manufacturer hasbeen competing with the manufacturers of the world in the free-trade port of New South Wales ? Victorian manufacturers have been sending ploughs and implements to that State for years past. Some of them are described as being of good quality ; others, are spoken of in anything but complimentary terms. But they are there - and that fact shows that the Victorian manufacturers are able to compete against foreign and English makers. With regard to the “ army of locusts “ that has been referred to, I am not aware that the Victorian manufacturers have been above employing a. few “locusts” of their own to over-run the country. They have adopted the same methods as their competitors in sending representatives to the various farming districts of New South Wales to push their products. There is not an agricultural show held in New South Wales at which there is not :t least one representative of Victorian implement makers.
– Yet the honorable senator accuses them of want of enterprise !
– No ; it is they who accuse themselves. There was no lack of enterprise, for instance, in their going to Senator Barrett to induce him to espouse their cause. I now pass away from those little inconsistencies which probably would have been avoided had those gentlemen managed to prepare a joint document instead of addressing themselves individually to Senator Barrett. It is idle to deny that the number of persons engaged in agricultural industries in the States is far and away greater than- the number employed in manufactures. I think I am quite safe in saying that there are three persons employed in agricultural pursuits to one person employed in manufacturing industries. I am not including those engaged in pastoral. pursuits, which, however, are very often so closely allied with agriculture as to make it impossible to determine under which heading they should come. We have to consider the position which the farming industry has reached in Australia. It happens that the usual cry about shielding our people from cheap foreign labour is utterly ‘ useless in the present case. We cannot shield our wheat-growers from foreign labour. Having reached the export point, the wheat-grower has to produce in competition with the cheapest and most miserable labour in the world, and his prices are determined at Mark-lane, and -depend on production in Egypt,- India, South America, and Russia. If honorable senators, who are pleading for the right to charge the farmer three or four times as much as he would otherwise be charged - that is according to Lennon and Company - could show some means by which he could be protected against the competition of the cheapest labour in the world there might be some justification for voting against the motion. But it is abundantly clear that wheat, like wool, gold, and silver, has to face the competition of the markets of the world, and for that reason there is no vestige of protection for the farmer. Under these circumstances the least we can do is to put the farmer in the best possible position to produce cheaply ; and that we can do only by encouraging him in the fullest and freest use of the machinery he requires. We must be careful that nothing we do as a Legislature, by the imposition of Tariff duties or otherwise, shall increase the price of machinery, not by three or four times, which is altogether prohibitive, but to any appreciable extent. We ought not to. allow the cost of agricultural implements to be increased either by means of protection or any other device. I very much regret that the financial requirements of the States do not permit of this duty being swept away. I recognise at once that under the necessity to raise a very large revenue we must have duties which to a free-trader are more or less repugnant. While still wishing to see these particular articles duty free, I am restrained by a recognition of the financial requirements of the position, and I submit that the suggested amendment is a fair compromise between the demands of the fiscal situation and the revenue requirements of the State.
– I wonder whether Senator Millen knows how many farmers there are in Australia.
– According to the latest edition of Coghlan, in 1896 the persons employed in agriculture numbered 251,165.
– According to Coghlan there were 171,000 persons employed in the factories of Australia in 1899, so that Senator Millen’s statement that there were three persons employed in agriculture to one employed in manufactures is shown to be utterly unreliable.
– But the 171,000 persons includes jam-makers, wool-washers, and people engaged in other similar industries.
– Are they not all engaged in manufactures 1
– Coghlan includes the persons engaged in working up pastoral products - that is, in canning meat and similar pursuits.
– Senator Millen wanted to know how the harvester could be brought from America and sold at a cheaper rate than the colonial harvester ; but he himself supplied the reason. These implements have not yet been made in large quantities in America, and I believe that only five have been imported ; but in America labour is cheap, and hours of work long, and, with huge plants at their disposal, the manufacturers, when they get into full swing, will be able to turn out such machines by the thousand. That is the reason why the American manufacturers could sell reapers and binders at a rate which defied competition. At one time the importers’ “ ring “ sold these reapers and binders at £70 each, but now practically the same machine, with all recent improvements, can be bought for £35. Indeed, these machines could be sold at £25, because in some of the factories of the United States there can be turned oUt as many as 10,000 in one year. The manager for Messrs. T. Robinson and Co., agricultural implement makers, Victoria, has informed me that if he got an order for several thousands of these implements, he could make them of equal quality with those turned out in America, and sell them at £25 each.
– Con- sider the small market in Australia.
– The manufacturers of Australia have not the capital to go into this trade in a large way. There are no trusts or combines here, and if any attempt be made to establish them, I hope that this Parliament will be able to checkmate it.
– By taking off the duty.
– Then we shall fall into the hands of the importers’ “ ring.”
– The fiscal anarchists on the other side of the Chamber would wreck the whole of the local industries if they could. Shall’ we call those honorable senators “amiable brigands”? They would send the people on to the land, although one of their chief spokesmen has just told us that it would be of no use to do so.
– I never said anything of the kind.
– What would such people know of the business if experienced farmers cannot tell a bad plough from a good one ? Only last week I was speaking to a practical farmer, whose authority every one in the Chamber must respect. That gentleman told me what we have heard before about ploughs being taken to America, and reproduced there in scores of thousands; and I asked him why it was necessary to have protection against these American implements. He told me that the implements were nicely finished, and the difference between them and the colonial articles could not be seen at a glance, but that .the material was so inferior in the former that any farmer who imported them once would not do so again.
– Then the competition will soon fall off ?
– The same farmer told me he believed only that five harvesters had as yet been imported, and that they had not been sold. He went on to say that these will be in demand at first, but that byandby they will not be able to compete with the local article, owing to the inferior quality of the former. In the meantime, however, hundreds, if not thousands, of the imported harvesters would be sold in the Commonwealth. It does not matter how good an agriculturist a man may be, he cannot, so far as t’he material is concerned, tell a good plough from a bad one. The authority to whom I have referred is Mr. Thomas Kennedy, who gets his living by farming, and is a member of the House of Representatives.
– I would trust Mr. Kennedy, the farmer, but I am afraid that Mr. Kennedy, the politician, would view this matter through party glasses.
- Mr. Kennedy, I am sure, would not express any opinion in which he did not absolutely believe. Senator Millen spoke about the producer ; but I ask whether a man who makes a plough or harrow is not equally a producer with the man who uses the implement? All the people engaged in this industry - and there are a good many of them - are producers. What could farmers do without these manufacturers ? It is only a question of whether we shall send the money to America or spend it amongst our own people. Senator Ewing referred to the matter of patents but I challenge him to mention one. I believe that there is one little patent, but reapers and binders are not patented, and can be made here in any quantity, as I was informed by the manager for Messrs. Robinson and Co. Senator Ewing said there were 11,091 people employed in the metal trades in New South Wales. I dare say that figure is correct, but included in that number are 3,339 smelters, which at once reduces the figure to 7,752. If the honorable senator, when dealing with themanufacture of agricultural implements, had not available the figures as to the number of persons employed, he should not have said anything on that aspect of the question. We were told by Senator .Gould that the Riverina trade has been captured by Victoria and South Australia.
I wonder how that can be. These machines are made chiefly in Melbourne, Bendigo, and Ballarat. Melbourne is about as far from the Riverina as Sydney ; it is 200 miles from Melbourne to Albury and 386 miles from Sydney to Albury ; but the Riverina is not at Albury by a long way, and we get wool from the Riverina 100 miles from Albury.
– There is a more direct route to Swan Hill.
– It is 216 miles from Melbourne to Swan Hill by rail. I am pointing out that that consideration cannot have much to do with the matter, and Senator Millen proved it when he said that, although they had not got many of these factories in the metropolis of New South Wales, they were producing agricultural machines in almost every country town in that State. There are 55 of these factories in Victoria, producing agricultural implements alone. They employ 1,051 hands ; the value of the materials used in 1900 was £108,000, and the value of the output of the factories no less than £245,000, whilst the value of the plant employed in the industry was £128,000. We have heard a good deal about what the farmers like and do not like, and I propose to read what the farmers themselves say upon the subject, and especially what the farmers of Queensland say, though Senator Gould told us just now that there are no duties upon agricultural machinery in that State. I quote from the Age of 24th June, 1902-
Farmers on Protected Implements.
It is very amusing and not a little instructive to note how the farmers repudiate their free-trade champions. During the debates on farming implements, foreign traders had nothing but sarcasm for the Australian - made machines. It was held that a tax on the foreign makers meant a tax on the fanners. The Queensland farmers join with the Victorian in repudiating this. There was held recently in Toowoomba the annual conference of Queensland farmers. Mr. D. H. Dalrymple, Minister for Agriculture, presided over 120 delegates. One of the members, Ml”. W. D. Lamb, read a paper on agricultural implements and machinery. It was an eloquent testimony to the inventive genius and practical skill of the Australian manufacturer and his workmen. Mr. Lamb said that a man need only look over the list of Australian farm implements to be convinced that inventive talent in Australia is well worth encouragement. He pointed in support of this statement to the stripper, the complete harvester, the disc plough, the stumpjump plough, disc harrows, and travelling chaffcutters. These implements have revolutionized agriculture iu Australia, and they are Australian inventions. But if the foreigner were permitted free ingress to our markets, these discoveries would have no encouragement. So Mr. Lamb says - “ I think that our farmers should not be too eager to purchase new imported implements ou testimonials of what they have accomplished in other countries. Agricultural conditions differ so much that we cannot trust solely to experience elsewhere.” The free-trade senators, especially men like Mr. Fraser, might very well listen to the voice of this practical Queensland farmer, who tells them - “Also I am of opinion that our State farmers should take more interest in proving the worth of new machines and publishing results. It is as essential to know the right sort of tools as it is to know the right sort of seed. I would say in conclusion, from my experience of English, American, and Australian machines and implements, that as far as Australia has gone in the agricultural manufacturing business she is able to hold her own, and. I trust that the time is not far distant when Australian implements are used on every farm in this great country. I would like it to go forth from all the farmers of this State that we have a patriotic desire to encourage the manufacture of such machinery and implements within our own and other States, where the manufacture of such machinery employs so many artisans. We should receive such reciprocal support as will nullify any attempt to prejudice the primary producers of wealth from the soil, as that contained in the proposal to remove the groin and fodder duties.
That is from a Queensland farmer, and I have no object in reading it but to assist those who are least able to help themselves. That is what protectionists are always striving to do. Free-traders would send these men on to the land, and ask them to work with their hands, or with the ancient Egyptian plough - a forked stick tied to the tail of a bullock. The very best agricultural machinery is produced in Australia, and honorable senators opposite ask that it should be shoved aside by implements made of inferior material, and sent here to swamp the Australian market. We desire, on the other hand, to keep the Australian market for Australian manufacturers and their operatives.
– I desire, first of all, to correct one or two misstatements which have, no doubt, unconsciously been made by previous speakers. Senator Styles seems to think that the primary producers or farmers do not outnumber by thr.ee to one those who are engaged in factories. I believe they do. The honorable senator tried to show that the 11,000 persons mentioned by Senator Ewing as engaged in metal work in New South Wales, included 3,000 smelters. I may be permitted to tell the honorable senator that the 11,000 does not include a single mau engaged in smelting. Senator Barrett talks of 20,000 persons being imperilled if ‘this duty is cut down to 1 per cent. Senator O’Connor told us that there are 1,051 persons engaged in making agricultural implements in Victoria, and under 200 in New South Wales. I take it that in the whole of the Commonwealth there are not more than about 3,000 persons engaged in this industry, and not the 20,000, who according to Senator Barrett are going to be imperilled. This debate has brought out some of the worst features of the doctrine of protection. We have to consider the class of persons between whom the fight is going to range. There are the primary producers or farmers throughout the Commonwealth on the one hand, and the few men engaged in the manufacture of agricultural implements on the other. If there is to be any attempt to do justice and to make a fair compromise in this Tariff, we should lean a little in favour of the farmers. But we have heard only the same commonplace arguments which have been repeated over and over again by honorable senators who are protectionists. They take no account whatever of the debate and no account of the men whom this duty will affect. But, because there is such a doctrine as protection, they believe that it must be applied for the benefit of every factory and industry known throughout the Commonwealth.
– The honorable and learned senator has taken pretty good care of the Tasmanian farmer.
– In Tasmania we took care of the farmer by admitting agricultural implements free. There was a revenue duty upon agricultural implements for a long time in that State ; but finding that, if we were to have a policy worthy of the name, we should stick to the men by whom Tasmania pays her way, the hopgrower, the potato-grower, the farmer, and the f fruit-grower, the Legislative Assembly of Tasmania made agricultural implements free. Speaking of what the previous duties were, I remind Senator O’Connor that agricultural implements were free in New South Wales and Tasmania, free, and 5 per cent, in Western Australia, and if we go to New Zealand to get a hint, they were free there also.
– And they were practically free in Queensland.
– Then all I can say is that Senator O’Connor was wrong when he argued that a duty of 7i per cent, would not be a fair compromise. We have been told that in New Zealand there was a duty of 5 per cent., but I have been informed by one of the largest merchants in the Commonwealth that there has never been a single penny of duty imposed upon agricultural machinery in that colony, and yet there are 34 factories engaged there in making agricultural implements, 581 persons are employed in them, £44,000 a year is paid in wages, and the annual output of the factories is valued at £102,000. But, notwithstanding these facts, New Zealand imports more agricultural machinery than does either New South Wales or Victoria. Why ? Because the farmer of New Zealand is a skilled, cultured man, who understands his business, and insists upon having the best machinery he can obtain from the old country, America, and Canada. To say that the producers in the Commonwealth are not to have the best machinery that money can buy, and that they are to be put on one side for the sake of 3,000 agricultural implement makers is perfectly monstrous. I asked Senator Barrett to give us a bare idea of the cost of importing these machines, and he told me that Senator Styles would dive into Coghlan and tell us. I am not sure that Cog/dan tells us about the cost of import. We have to go to the merchants to get that information. I can understand that the bare import charges must be 20, 30, 40, and in some cases 50 per cent. Therefore, with a 1 per cent, duty and the import charges, we shall give to the agricultural implement makers more protection than we have given to any manufacturers so far, and I challenge Senator Barrett to contradict my statement. The way to deal with this question, I think, is to ask ourselves where is this prosperity, about which we all talk, to come from ? Senator Styles tries to answer that question by asking - Is not a man who makes a plough quite as important, and as much a producer, as a man who tills the soil ? Most undoubtedly he is not, and cannot be. Supposing for a moment that the farmer ceased to till his land for twelve months. Where would the Commonwealth be? The plough-maker would not be thought of. To lease the farmer with his hands tied behind his back, would be perfectly monstrous. All through the consideration of the Tariff we have been trying to get in free the tools of trade and the raw material of the manufacturer. Why should the man who is the back-bone of the whole community have his implements taxed, while every manufacturer is to have his tools of trade free ?. How are my protectionist friends to answer that argument ? I can see no answer to it. Some of us - all of us, I believe - have been trying to make a fair compromise between revenue, and free-trade New South Wales, and last, but not least, the manufacturers, who have been induced to invest their capital in industries under a policy which has been deliberately adopted, whether it be right or wrong. These men are entitled to our sympathy. I sympathize with the men who wrote the inconsistent letters which have been read, but I have more sympathy with the men from whom we get our wealth, and who pay the wages of the very persons on whose behalf Senator Barrett is so eloquently appealing. Does he not know that we cannot have a prosperous town without having a prosperous country, that the whole wealth of the Commonwealth comes from the soil ? Senator O’Connor asks, “ Does Senator Smith mean to say that a reduction of the duty to 7£ per cent, will lead to an increase in the area under cultivation?” But that is not quite a fair -way of putting it. It can be shown by the statistics in Coghlan that a policy which does help the farmer, and which encourages him only to the same extent as the industries of Victoria have been encouraged, will most materially increase his prosperity and will most unmistakably enlarge the area under cultivation. When I am asked to vote for a 7£ or a 15 per cent, duty I ask - Am I, as a matter of justice, to go back upon the policy of my own State. Tasmania is going to live and prosper by her mining and her farming. If we prevent her from doing that, federation will be a curse instead of a blessing to her. The Parliament of the State took off the tax on these implements, and when I have a chance of reducing the federal impost from 15 to 7^ per cent. I should be failing in my duty and wanting in common sense if I did not support the motion with all the earnestness I possess.
Senator STYLES (Victoria).- I .was quoting from memory when I said that in 1899 there were 171,000 factory hands in the Commonwealth. If Senator Dobson will look at page 599 of the Seven Colonies qf Australasia he will find that in that year there were 55,646 factory hands in New South Wales.
– Factories and works.
– “ Manufactories of New South Wales “ is the heading of the paragraph. According to this book, there were 55,646 factory hands in New South Wales, 60,070 in Victoria 27,200 in Queensland, 15,155 in South Australia, 9,407 in Western Australia, and 3,629 in Tasmania, making a total of 171,107.
– Including those not subject to competition from imported goods -some 50,000 odd.
– Under the head of “ Manufactures,” Coghlan says -
The progress of the manufacturing industry in Australasia has been slow and fitful, even in the most advanced colonies ; and although the tabular statement given below shows an increase of 76,340 hands since 1885, about one-tenth of this number has been added by a change in the tabulation of these statistics in Victoria and New South Wales.
I then find paragraphs headed “Manufactories of Victoria,” “ Manufactories of New South Wales,” and “ Manufactories of other colonies,” but no details are given.
– But the honorable senator said that my figures included some that they did not include.
– “ Metal-workers” include smelters.
– But I excluded the smelters.
– In that case I accept the honorable and learned senator’s statement.
– It has been stated by Senator Gould that the farming industry is by far the most important one in the Commonwealth. I believe that statement is very largely true, and I am satisfied, Senator Millen notwithstanding, that the farming community are quite willing to bear a proportion of the cost of government so long as they are protected against outside competition. Quite recently a farmers’ association published a list of the implements which are required by a farmer. I regret that I have not the list. The value of the plant, including horses, was given at about £500. The machinery, I suppose, would be worth about £400, and the duty on that would come to £30 or £40, perhaps £50. Although there may be individual exceptions of farmers, who are anxious to have all their agricultural implements duty free, I am of opinion that the majority of themare willing to do a fair thing by the general body of the producers in the Commonwealth. The implements on which the farmer would pay duty, presuming that they were imported, would lost about ten years, and as he puts down the depreciation each year at about 10 per cent., the duty would extend’ over a period of about ten years. When it is remembered that the farmers have their productions protected to a very great extent - for instance, butter, cheese, barley, oats, maize, onions, potatoes, sago, fruits, preserved milk - surely the committee is not going to fall in with the proposition of Senator Ewing, to reduce the duty to 7½ percent.? The Tariff does not press on the farmer to the extent to which the loud declamations of some honorable senators would lead the genera] public to suppose. If all the farmers were to go through the list of commodities which they require, they would discover, what I am sure the protectionist farmers have discovered already, that the cost of a number of articles has been reduced to them by the imposition of protective duties. Take reaper and binder twine, which is one small article that they use. Before the local industry was established, they had to pay 9½d. per lb. for it, but when its manufacture was commenced locally the price came down gradually, owing to internal competition, from 8d. to 6d. per lb. At the present time the price is 5½d. per lb. for pure Manilla, and 4d. per lb. for New Zealand flax. Some honorable senators have claimed that the farmer is very heavily taxed in respect of boots and the hate which he wears. The farmer who wore a dress hat in a country district would be regarded as a curiosity, but farmers’ hats can be obtained as cheaply as fanners’ boots, and the low prices which prevail are due to protective duties and internal competition. The hat which he wears can be obtained as cheaply in any farming district as it can be procured in any part of the world.
– Then what is the value of a protective duty?
– It shuts out the outside product. On the other hand, the internal competition protects the consumer. Those are two facts which we cannot drill into the heads of the fanatical free-traders. Wemust turn our attention only to the one or two honorable senators who, like
Senator Dobson, turn the scale in these debates - honorable gentlemen who arc willing to protect Tasmanian hops to the extent of 6d.per lb., and yet find it necessary to vote in favour of this motion.
SenatorO’Connor. - The Tasmanian woollen mills are protected by a 15 per cent. duty.
– Yes. Anything which concerns Tasmania particularly must, of course, be protected, but apparently the general body of farmers throughout the Commonwealth are not to be considered by some honorable senators. As to farmers’ clothes, surely they can be obtained cheaply. It has been said that the farmer requires to have his agricultural implements and machinery free, because he is taxed very heavily in other directions. I wish to show, if I can, that he enjoys a great advantage in the protection which is given to his products against outside competition, and that the result of this protection gives him cheap hats, boots, and clothing because of the internal competition which follows. If we secure him the Australian market for his commodities, and supply him with cheap hats, boots, and clothing, what objection can there be to the imposition of a reasonable import duty on implements?
– Unfortunately we do not give him those cheap things.
– That is only the honorable senator’s conclusion. If he would confer with the farmers he would discover that generally they are protectionists, and that while their productions are protected they are willing to pay a certain amount of duty on imported agricultural implements, trusting to the very many implement-makers throughout the Commonwealth to supply them with a cheaper article. The farmers of Queensland are, as a whole, protectionists. Certainly,a Government in Queensland thought it desirable, for’ some reason or other, to make agricultural machinery practically free, but I do not think that it was in the interests of the community as a whole, or at their desire, that such a course was adopted. It was due, probably, to some political move. I have been trying to understand what some honorable senators propose to do with those who are likely to be thrown out of employment in the various industries which they have affected by their actions right along the line. I suppose they are to go on the land, and grow wheat in competition with farmers of the Argentine and other places. Whether it is an industry of two men and a boy, or one such as this, giving employment to some thousands of hands, it is immaterial to some honorable senators. They scorn to dismiss the matter in a very airy fashion, and think that the implement makers will find employment elsewhere when this protection is removed. Where will they find it ? I presume that some honorable senators, being very largely interested in the importing industry, believe in encouraging it. They wish to make as much as they can in their time, and it does not matter what may happen afterwards. We protectionists arc the true patriots. We are looking to the future. We desire to see this country properly settled by a large farming population, which will be supplying cities equal, I suppose, to any in the civilized world, and cities giving them employment in return. This ideal which we protectionists have set up will not be assisted by the carrying of this motion. When honorable senators talk pi compromise they should be reminded that a compromise has already been affected in another place. The Tariff was discussed for seven months in the House of Representatives, where a compromise was agreed upon. Now we propose further to interfere with the result of their long labours, and to what purpose? If we succeed we shall only do a wrong, and if we do not we shall have wasted valuable time which might have been devoted to a better purpose.
Motion (by Senator O’Connor) proposed -
That the Senatedo now adjourn.
– By leave, I should like to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council if it is true, as reported in the press, that he proposes to interfere with the discussion of the Customs Tariff Bill by adverting to the Excise Tariff Bill with the view of dealing with the excise duty on sugar)
– A question has arisen which may render it necessary to make some alteration in the order of dealing with the Tariff. It appears that the sugar-growers in Queensland are beginning to produce a sugar crop with white labour, under circumstances which would entitle them to the rebate, if that rebate were completely authorized according to law. The Minister for Trade and Customs finds it necessary now to prepare regulations to put the matter in such definite shape that the sugar-grower producing sugar grown by white labour shall know exactly what his position is. It is thought, therefore, to be desirable, if possible, to have some indication of the view of the Senate before the regulations are completed. It is only in regard to that particular question that any difficulty has arisen. I have not yet determined what course will be taken, but I shall probably intimate it to the Senate tomorrow.
Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania).- With the permission of the Senate, I wish to ask another question. Are we to understand that the difficulty arises from the possibility that this Chamber may refuse to accept the provisions in the Excise Bill with regard to the rebate on sugar grown by white labour?
– Hear, hear.
– If that is so, I anticipate no difficulty whatever.
Question resolved in the affirmative. .
Senate adjourned at 10.15 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 30 June 1902, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1902/19020630_senate_1_11/>.