1st Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– In pursuance of what I understand to be the unanimous wish of the Senate, the bench on my left, which was previously occupied by representatives of the Inter-State press, has been fitted up with desks, in order that senators may write letters there, and it will in future be considered part of the Chamber. I have received two memorials in regard to the bench on the other side, one signed by twenty-one senators and the other by fourteen, the first of which asks that the representatives of the Inter-State newspapers may be accommodated in the gallery, and the accommodation hitherto allotted to them reserved to members of the House of Representatives, and the other that nothing be done ; but as several senators have signed both documents, it is difficult for me to gather from them what their wishes are. Therefore, if the Senate itself does not take action in the matter, I propose to leave things as they are, for this session at all events. I understand that the Parliamentary buildings are to be illuminated next Thursday night, and that it will be necessary, in order to give as much brilliancy as possible to the illuminations outside, to dispense with some of the electric lights inside. Therefore, senators must not be surprised if the lighting then is not as good as it generally is. I have also to inform the Senate that a box for the reception of senators’ corrections of the Hansard reports of their speeches will be fitted up and placed close to the Chamber door. In one or two instances, corrected proofs have been mislaid, or have not reached the Chief Reporter in time to allow the corrections to be “made, and the use of the box should prevent that from occurring in future.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Is it the intention of the Government to take measures to constitute an Australian Navy, and to train seamen for defence purposes, and for strengthening the mercantile marine of the Commonwealth in place of the existing policy of paying a subsidy in connexion with the Auxiliary Naval Squadron ?
– This subject is now under discussion in London.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable senator’s questions is as follows : - 1 and 2. No.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 4th July, vide page 14182).
Division VI. - Metals and Machinery.
Item 78. - Manufactures ofmetal. - Special exemptions.
Motion (by Senator Lt.-Col. Neild) negatived -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the special exemption to item 78 - “ Electrical materials . . . “by adding the words “and on and after 1st August, 1902, Telephones, telephone switch-boards, instruments and accessories.”
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the special exemptions to item 78 - “ Saddle-trees,” by adding the words “and on and after 1st August, 1902,15 per cent.”
– : I submit that the motion is out of order, as contrary to the arrangement come to by the committee, at the instance of the Chairman, in regard to the method of dealing with exemptions.
– I understood that it was arranged that the committee should deal first with the dutiable articles in any item, and then with the special exemptions attached to that item. If I had known that I should not have an opportunity to move this motion now, I would have moved it earlier. I gave notice nearly two months ago of my intention to move it.
– It seems to me that the Postmaster-General should have taken his point of order when it was moved to strike “ linotypes “ off the list of special exemptions.
– Linotypes were merely struck off the list of special exemptions, but Senator Barrett wishes to do more than that in regard to saddle-trees - he wishes to impose a specific duty upon them.
– I take it that the desire of the committee is to transact its business in a speedy and’ regular fashion, and I believe that the Chairman, in outlining the procedure to be followed, said that care would be taken that every senator should have fair play. Senator Barrett has been under the impression that he could deal with saddle-trees at this stage in the way in which he proposes. If we simply strike saddle-trees off the list of exemptions, we shall have to determine, later on, what duty ought to be imposed upon them, which means doubling the work. I think that we should settle the question now:
– I regret that a misunderstanding has taken place, but before the committee entered upon the consideration of the schedule I endeavoured to make it clear that I would first deal with the dutiable articles coming under each item, and then with the special exemptions belonging to that item. It was not contemplated, however, that articles appearing upon the list of special exemptions should at this stage be picked out and made dutiable at specific rates. All that Can be done now is to strike articles off or add them to the exemption list. Saddle-trees, if struck off the list of exemptions, will be dutiable at the rate of 20 per cent, imposed upon articles not elsewhere included, unless there is some other rate which will apply to them. I cannot receive the motion.
– Then I move-
That the House of Representati ves be requested to omit, on and after 1st August, 1902, the special exemption to item 78, “Saddle-trees.”
If the motion is carried it will create an anomaly for which the Government will be responsible, and which it will be their duty to rectify. Saddle-trees were previously dutiable under several of the State Tariffs, and when this Tariff was introduced it imposed a duty upon them which, after consideration by the House of Representatives, was removed.
– A division was taken upon the question.
– That is so. I have been requested by the makers of saddle-trees in South Australia, New South Wales, and Victoria to represent their case to the Senate, with a view to bringing about the’ reimposition of a duty upon those articles. I learn that there are 64 hands employed in the industry in the States which I have named. The saddle-tree is the framework or foundation upon which the saddle is built up, and is made of steel and wood. In a great many cases the timber employed is English beech, but in all other cases colonial timber - generally sassafras - is used. The saddle-tree is an essential part of a saddle just as a cylinder is an essentia] part of an engine. Hitherto the various makers in the States which I have mentioned have not only produced a really good article, but have effectively held their own against imported saddle-trees. Moreover, the price of the article has not been enhanced by the protection that has been afforded to the industry. I propose reading to the Senate a statement which has been drawn up by the saddle-tree makers of Victoria, South Australia, and New South Wales, who complain that under existing conditions, the measure of protection which they have hitherto enjoyed has been swept away, and that therefore the industry cannot live. They say -
We respectfully call your attention to a gross injustice that lias been inflicted upon our industry by the House of Representatives placing saddletrees upon the free list. Statements were made during the debate upon the item in the Lower House that are entirely misleading. Our industry was spoken of as being of such minor importance as not to be worthy of the protection we have had during the past 25 years, under which we have been enabled to establish an industry that has been of much value to the various States during the past two years in the production of large quantities of military trees for the contingents that have been despatched by the Governments of the federated States to South Africa. Had it not been for our ability to supply trees at very short notice, in nearly every case, large sums of money that have been spent in the States upon the saddlery would have been lost to Australia, for without the saddle-trees there could have been no saddles made, and many thousands of pounds that have been paid in wages to the workmen would have been sent out of the country. We have had commendations from many for our promptness in .carrying out our contracts. In reference to statements that were made in the Lower House in regard to the timber used in our saddle-trees, we may say that we use a considerable quantity of imported beech in them ; in the common, cheap trees we use colonial timber, but this has proved such a first-class substitute for beech, that for a good number of years we used very little of any other kind, and in very few cases has beech been asked for in Victoria. We have unlimited quantities of various kinds of timber suitable for saddle-tree making in the various States, and we affirm it is only sheer prejudice when statements are made to the contrary. We have practically stopped all importations of trees into South Australia and Victoria, where the industries have been established for the past 25 years, by the moderate prices we have charged for them, and we have been enabled to pay our workmen good wages. There are more employed in the industry than the members of the House of Representatives have been led to believe were employed ; in fact, there are eight or ten firms of saddle and harness-tree makers in the various States. We respectfully ask all members of the Senate who have the interests of our toilers at heart to bring these facts before the senators when the duty upon saddle-trees is being discussed in the Senate. The Hon. Mr. O’Connor was pleased to state in his address (when introducing the Tariff into the Senate) “that no interest, no State, and, as far as possible, no individual, should suffer unnecessarily by reason of the Commonwealth.” We ask the members of the Senate to use their power to have the decision of the House of Representatives reversed, as we feel sure, if we are not protected to some extent, it will mean ruin to the saddletree industry in all the States, as our workmen cannot live upon the starvation wage of Europe. This would mean that all our labour for the past 25 years in teaching our young men the trade will be lost. This we cannot believe is the desire of the Government, after stating that no industry would suffer; in fact, we would be worse off under the present Tariff. Trees would be admitted free, and we would have to pay duty upon our raw material. This would be worse than pure free-trade. We most certainly should not have voted for federation had we thought that every shred of duty would be taken from us without an apparent effort being marie by those who have sought our suffrages to see that the Government to some extent at least kept their promises “ that no industry should suffer.” In face of our raw material being taxed, we think a duty of 20 per cent., as suggested by the Government at first, only a fair and reasonable one. Trusting this will receive the most serious consideration of the members of your honorable House, and that we shall receive fair protection for an industry that has proved most beneficial to the various States of the Commonwealth,
We remain, yours respectfully,
Edwards AND Co., Barry -lane, Melbourne.
Thomas Ranster, Sydney, N.S.W.
These firms employ in the aggregate 64 hands. Mr. Sanders, whose name appears in the document from which I have just quoted, and who is the largest saddletreemaker in South Australia, says in a letter to the Adelaide Advertiser -
By, a majority of 30 votes to .18 the Federal Parliament has placed saddle-trees on the freelist, because it is the “raw material” of the “ bushman.” This is a farce, as the following instance will prove : - Common English-made saddle-trees, price, each, London, 4s. (id.;. landed price, 5s. 6d. ; importers’ price to country saddler, where the bushman obtains his saddle, 10s. to 12s. each.
It will thus be seen that under the conditions which obtained till recently, saddletrees were very rauch cheaper in the open market than they were prior to the imposition of a duty upon them. Mr. Sanders goes on to say -
Who gets the benefit of the free list, the bushman or the importer ? It is stated that the locally made trees are inferior to English. Does that statement refer to Victorian or South Australian trees ? If it is intended to apply to those made in this State, I, as a manufacturer, . challenge the statement. I will guarantee my trees to stand any test that the English article will. Now, how can a saddletreemaker in any of the States compete successfully with the English tree on a free list, when all raw materials have to be imported, viz., timber (oak or beech), spring bars, iron and steel, and screws. I have had about twelve years’ experience in this State as a saddletree-maker, and voted for federation, as I expected increased Inter-State trade, and have obtained orders from other States, but now I shall be forced to look for other employment, as also my workmen. Why should saddletree makers be forced to swell the ranks of the already great number of unemployed in Australia? In conclusion, ,1 fail to see why one trade should be slaughtered for the benefit of States that have not a branch of any particular trade. If this is federation, and other trades are to be sent tinder like saddletreemakers, I think the future for federated Australia is gloomy and dismal, with the Destitute Asylum staring hundreds of our skilled mechanics in the face.
In my opinion, if the duty upon saddletrees be abolished, a cruel and grievous wrong will be inflicted upon the individuals engaged in this particular industry. For the information of honorable senators, I may mention that there is a firm in Melbourne which employed i2S saddletree-makers, but since the duty was remitted these hands have been- discharged, and at the present moment are unable to obtain work. This is not a fancy picture, because in to-day’s Age I find a letter from a saddletree-maker in Victoria, who puts the position from a Victorian stand-point. He says -
Any one who has the welfare of Victoria, and the Commonwealth at heart must feel disgusted at the way the so-called friends of the people of the States are deliberately destroying our industries. I am a saddletree-maker, and the firm which has employed me for a number of years has worked up a good business and has been paying us very fair wages ; but since this federation has taken place, hands who were in full work before the Tariff Bill was brought in have been walking the streets. Every bit of protection has been taken away from the trade - there is no “suggestion” that we should have a 10 per cent, protection against the beggarly wages paid to workmen in our trade in the old country. The very first handicap working men, who are married, have to face in this country is two-thirds more house rent than workmen in England have to pay, but the men who are guilty of destroying our industries will not reduce our rents or submit to their £400 a year being reduced. We have to keep the wolf from the door as best we can, and we are threatened with wholesale importations. We were looking forward to federation making things better by giving us a larger field, but that is now a hopeless prospect. Unless some kind of duty is given us we must be content to walk the streets and chance a day’s work when we can get it.
I do hope that this committee will carefully weigh the statements which I have read. It is true that the saddletree making industry is comparatively a small one ; but the same remark applies to saddletree making in other parts of the world, including England. I believe that the House of .Representatives made a mistake when it decided to exempt saddletrees from the list of dutiable articles. The vote upon .the matter was taken in rather a thin House, and the subject was not accorded that consideration which its importance warranted. Under all the circumstances, therefore, I think that the decision of the other branch of the Legislature should be reversed. I have in mypossession other letters bearing upon this matter besides those which I have read, including one from Messrs. Edwards and Co., of Melbourne, and another from workmen engaged in the industry. I donot intend to weary thecommittee by reading these letters, because they are on a par with those which have already been presented. I trust that the committee will see that a mistake has been made, and that this industry is entitled to some protection.
– When the Tariff was first introduced, saddle-trees were subject to a duty of 25 per cent, under the item of “ Munufactures of Metal, n.e.i.” That duty was reduced in another place to 20 per cent., but subsequently a proposal was made to put saddle-trees upon the list of special exemptions. The Government considered that this article should legitimately bear a duty, but in the discussion which took place, in another place, it was argued that it was practically the raw material ofthe saddle manufacturer. It is almost invariably found that persons engaged in an industry are extremely desirous that all their raw material should be admitted on the easiest possible terms. That contention has been put forward by Senator Barrett on more than one occasion, and it seems to have been impressed upon the House of Representatives in connexion with this item. Although I believe that very good arguments were used to show the desirability of continuing the duty, it was decided by a majority of 30 votes to eighteen, that saddle-trees should be regarded as the raw material of another industry, and admitted free. A majority of 1 2 in a House of 48 may be regarded as a very substantial one. I think it is legitimate for us to take into consideration what is likely to be the outcome of whatever we may do here, and the question we have to consider is : Is it likely that the large majority which decided to place saddle-trees upon the list of special exemptions will be brought to see that an error was made, and be willing to make them dutiable once more? There is another difficulty. If Senator Barrett succeeds in carrying his proposition, saddle-trees will be struck out of the list of exemptions, and be dutiable at the rate of 20 per cent., under the heading of” Manufactures of Metal, n.e.i.,” although his desire is that a lower duty should be imposed. As we have dealt with Division VI., with the exception of the list of special exemptions, it seems to me that in that event we should have to insert a fresh line in the Tariff, or else leave the matter to be dealt with in another place. That would practically reopen the whole question. Although I agree to a large extent with the opinions that Senator Barrett has expressed, and in his desire that this and every other legitimate industryshould receive suitable encouragement I do not think that any good would result from an effort to reverse at this stage the decision arrived at by another place. In these circumstances, I feel boundto pose the motion.
– Perhaps I may be permitted to explain that the letters before me show a desire on the part of the manufacturers that a duty of 20 per cent, should be imposed on saddle-trees. In the present temper of the committee, however, I did not think I could succeed in carrying such a duty, and as I considered that 15 per cent, was the lowest effective protection that could be given, I departed from the original desire of the manufacturers. I was unable to bring this matter forward at an earlier stage, because of the ruling of the Chairman with regard to the method of dealing with the item.
– I could have understood the Postmaster-General inquiring at an earlier stage whether it was likely that we should secure the adoption of this motion in another place, but as the Opposition have proposed about 50 suggested amendments, some important and others trivial, without giving any consideration to that matter, I think that Senator Drake is treating Senator Barrett rather cavalierly.
– I do not think that we have agreed to any proposal which has been negatived by a large majority in another place.
– We have been compelled by the majority here to agree to some proposals which had already been defeated in another place by majorities of twelve.
– But the Government did not consent.
– No; the Government have been rigidly consistent, save in regard to the small item of gold lace. This is an instance in which the committee might exercise a wise discretion. To propose something ridiculous, as has been done at various stages in the Tariff discussion, is to do something which must be condemned ; but here we have an industry attacked by having its productions placed absolutely on the free list. Surely, if we are herd or any good purpose it is to try to alter an anomaly of that kind. Some honorable senators may regard this as a small industry with little branches in three States, but could any one refer to a smaller one than the importing industry? A few men can import, in a few weeks, thousands of tons of goods, the manufacture of which would give employment for months to hundreds and hundreds of men. The very fact that an industry is a small one should induce us to treat it tenderly. In Queensland we grow the timber which is necessary for the manufacture of saddletrees, and, if this motion is agreed to, we shall be able to do some good, in a small way, for the timber industry of that State. I have a letter written by Messrs. Edwards and Company, saddletree-makers, and, provided the other persons engaged in the industry are of the same opinion, it would seem that these articles should be dealt with in a special way, and not allowed to come under the n.e.i. provision. Writing under date 14th April last, Messrs. Edwards and Company state -
We were quite prepared to submit to a reduction of 10 per cent., as proposed, but certainly not to have every shred of duty taken away from us at one fell swoop. We have had a hard fight during the last 25 years to break down the prejudice against anything made in the State, and now that we have succeeded, through the protection afforded us by the Government of Victoria, we are once more face to face with the competition of Europe. Unless the decision of Friday is reversed it menus that a number of our hands will have to be thrown upon the labour market. . . We have only to remember that prior to protection in Victoria the auction room used to play a large part in disposing of the surplus stocks of Europe at the usual “alarming sacrifice,” thus handicapping any firm trying to get a footing in the State. Thanks to Sir Graham Berry and his colleagues this state of things was ended by a judicious protective policy that enabled many firms to get a footing which otherwise they would not have done. . . . We have supplied our troopers during about ten years with trees equal to any imported tree which can be produced of English make ; in fact, we have beaten the imported tree out of our own State through the protection we have received in the past. As showing the quality of our work we have been called upon to supply a very large percentage of the trees for the contingents that have b:en sent to South Africa by the various States. Had we not been protected, we certainly should not have been in a position to have executed the orders intrusted to us with the despatch we have done. We have taught nearly all the hands employed in tree-making in this State, and it is a poor return for our labours to have what fruit .should be reaped by us handed over to strangers b)r those who have asked us to give them our support as loyal protectionists. As showing what protection has done for us, we may say we have been enabled to secure our own market by selling trees at a much lower price than they were sold by the wholesale houses of Melbourne prior to protection. We have been enabled to employ a good number of hands who might otherwise have been upon the labour market. During the last 25 years attempts have been made in tree-making in the State of New South Wales, with very poor success.
It is important to notice the part which the auction plays in these matters. The importer has only to introduce large quantities of goods, and submit them for sale by auction in order to work the greatest harm to those engaged in our local industries. Mr. T. Edwards, of Tunstall, in a letter which was published in the Melbourne Age on 16th April, says -
The Victorian trees had a fair test at the Melbourne International Exhibition, 1880. Here we had to compete against the world ; but, notwithstanding this, we obtained first prize. We also competed at the Melbourne Centennial Exhibition, 18S8. Here we obtained second prize, which amounted to the same as the Exhibition, 1880, because there was no first prize awarded ; and not only at the exhibitions, but also at our agricultural shows, and New South Wales shows as well, our Victorian saddles, with Victorian trees in them, have competed against New South Wales, with English trees, and have come out with first prizes. I have had fifteen years’ experience in England and thirty years’ experience in Victoria making trees. During the time I served in England the trees which were supposed to be made of beech were a good part of them made of witch elm and sycamore, which decays in a very short time. The Victorian trees are made up of only one kind of timber, sassafras, which I can safely say will last just the same length of time as English beech.
I think that the honorable members in another place in placing saddletrees on the. free list were influenced largely by the personal popularity of the honorable member who so powerfully advocated the cause of the Australian bushmen. They lost sight of the interests of the large number of men who would be thrown out of employment by the abolition of the duty upon these goods. We have no right to assume that the various manufacturers are lying when they tell us that their industry will be seriously affected, and that a large number of men will be thrown out of employment. We can readily believe their statement when we reflect upon the injury that has already been done by the abolition of various duties, and upon the fact that in New SouthWales the saddle-tree making industry could not be established under free-trade.
– They devote themselves to other and more profitable occupations.
– That is all very well. We knowthat there isa good deal in thearguments which form the basis of the free-trade doctrine, and, like Senator Sir John Downer, I should be a free-trader if all others were. All the timber necessary for the manufacture of thousands of saddle-trees could be obtained from one of the large logs from Cairns, which are to be seen on the wharfs almost at any time. In a communication from. Adelaide, dated 1st May, Messrs. A. H. Sanders and G. S. Medlycott say -
We, master saddle-tree makers, in the State of South Australia, strongly protest against the placing of saddle-trees on the free list. We beg to inform honorable members that if the decision of the House of Representatives is not altered it will force us to close our workshops. We trust that this protest may receive the earnest consideration of the members of the Senate.
Although the saddle-tree making industry is a small one, it is of sufficient importance to justify even free-traders in supporting the proposal made by Senator Barrett. What becomes of the revenue Tariff advocated by free-trade senators if they are willing to allow saddle-trees to be admitted free of duty 1 If by the imposition of such a duty we can raise revenue, and at the same time protect a local industry, every one should be satisfied. There is no reason why the gentleman who takes his riding exercise along the Alexandra-avenue in the afternoon should not, if he wishes to have an imported saddle-tree, pay the extra price that would be involved by the imposition of a duty.
– The case presented by Senator Barrett is one which demands careful attention. Although a comparatively small number of persons are engaged in making saddle-trees, the industry is of sufficient importance to justify us in extending the utmost consideration to it. We are told that there are 64 hands directly engaged in the manufacture of saddle-trees, but if we include those who are indirectly employed the total number will probably exceed 100. These employes, and the manufacturers who have embarked their capital in the business, and who have been struggling for many years to establish the industry upon a sound basis, are entitled to reasonable protection against cheap foreign importations. It has been stated that the locally manufactured saddle-trees are inferior to the imported article, but that is a mistake. It is asserted by the local manufacturers that the local timber used is of excellent quality, and superior as regards lightness and durability to the English beech. They say further that they are prepared to make saddle-trees of any weight. It has been very forcibly pointed out by Senator Barrett that if a duty is not imposed upon saddle-trees the men at present engaged in the industry will be thrown out of employment and will have to seek some other occupation. Senator Barrett merely states the fact whenhe says they must go elsewhere. But wherewill they go? Any one who views the condition of the various trades and industries of the Commonwealth can come to one conclusion only, and that is that any man seeking employment must have the greatest difficulty in obtaining it at the present time. Another matter of importance is that there is practically only one kind of work which the men engaged in this industry can take up, and that is ordinary labouring work, to which mechanics do not take kindly. There is nothing so easy as to say that the people engaged in this industry can go to something else, if it is closed up; but, as a practical man, I desire to know where this something else is to be found. I must confess that I have never received any answer to the question except the vague, heartless statements, that the men can get something else to do. I ask the committee to assist Senator Barrett in his motion. From the documents before me, and those in the possession of Senator Barrett and other persons, I believe that new arguments may be submitted to the members in another place which will induce - them to review the situation, and to regard’ this request in a favorable light.
– I intend to support the motion. I do not intend adding to the number of unemployed if I can help it. We have around us meetings of the unemployed every day, and we ought not to do anything which will increase their number. Every one knows that this is not a big industry. There is no need to go into details of the number employed, because we know that it does not require a very great number of men to supply saddletrees for the whole of the Commonwealth. There is, however, in the industry a great deal of labour employed in proportion to the quantity of material used, and the material comes from our own forests, and is brought over our own railways by our own people. All these things should be considered, and I am rather surprised to find even a free-trader saying that in a matter like this he desires that these saddle-trees should be imported, and thathe does not want them made in the Commonwealth. If we were in a flourishing condition and there were plenty of employment of all kinds available the men engaged in this industry could perhaps find other employment, but honorable members who are not practical men do not attach enough importance to the fact that a man trained in one employment can barely get a living at anything else. He may, of course, take an inferior position. He may be “ boots” at an hotel, or he may take guttersweeping if he gets an opportunity, but we might just as well, expect a lawyer to undertakea physician’s practice as expect a man who has been brought up to one trade to work at something widely different. I wonder what kind of a figure a jeweller would cut in a blacksmith’s shop, or a blacksmith in a jeweller’s shop ? These are conditions to which the committee should give some little weight, and I hope that notwithstanding our free-trade or protectionist proclivities Senator Barrett’s motion will, be supported by a majority of the committee.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - I overlooked saying that when the Customs authorities were appealed to by the Minister for Trade and Customs, they sent a memo, to the effect that this was a wellestablished industry which had shown the desirability of local manufacture in a decided way, by supplying the hurried demands for the various South African contingents. I desire to say another word on the question of revenue. When we find that we cannot succeed in convincing honorable senators opposed to us by protectionist arguments, we appeal to them on the ground of revenue. If there is any item in the schedule which should be attacked on the ground of revenue, it is this. Most people know very little about the item. They consider it an infinitesimal matter, which demands no particular consideration. It is possible that they may say of saddle-trees what the Right Honorable George Reid has said about blue. The right honorable gentleman said - “ What has blue done that it should be taxed? What criminal offence has starch committed that it should be taxed? ” And free-trade senators may say - “ What crime in the calendar has the saddle-tree committed that it should be attacked in this way?” But if honorable senators who are making so many alterations in the Tariff have any justification for their new revenue creed, having abandoned the old one of free-trade with unrestricted intercourse between nations, surely they should fall in with Senator Barrett’s suggestion, and try to get a little revenue from this item ? If his suggestion to remove this item from the list of exemptions is adopted, Senator Barrett will, no doubt, make a further suggestion for a definite duty, and will not leave that course to another place. When the schedule goes back to the House of Representatives that House will be so busy with our concrete propositions that it will have no time to consider matters which will be to some extent in the air, because we happen to have made no mention of a particular duty in respect of them.
– In supporting Senator Barrett’s motion, I should like to say that when this matter was before another place the manufacturers of saddle-trees, to my certain knowledge, had not the slightest idea that they were going to be so harshly dealt with. They had some faith in the promises made some time ago by those who sought the suffrages of the people, that they would not do anything to utterly destroy industries. I have been in conversation with some of them in South Australia, and they said that while they were of opinion that the duty in some of the States might be reduced and a compromise arrived at, they believed that their industry would not be entirely destroyed. That is the reason they did not make the effort which they might have made when the matter was before another place. But since they have found out what was done there it has rendered them more active: Who can blame them, when they see that their industry is likely to be destroyed, for doing all they possibly can to have a suggestion made to another place that may have the effect of preserving it ? When the question was before another place, a great deal was said about the raw material of the bush man and the saddle maker. But there are 101 other instances in which duties are imposed on the raw material of some trade or other. Trade has become so complicated during the last 40 or 50 years that there is scarcely any manufactured article which is not the raw material of some other industry. I hope the committee will accept this motion, in order that another place may have an opportunity to reconsider the position. I appeal to Senator Pulsford, who seems to have taken so great an interest in the imported beer industry. If the honorable senator and his friends destroy the industries of Australia, and render it impossible for any one to get employment in any trade, what is going to become of his imported beer industry? I hope that the suggestion will be accepted, and that another place will give serious consideration to it.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to omit, on and after 1st August, 1902, the special exemption to item 78, “ Saddle-trees “ - put. The committee divided -
Ayes … … … 6
Noes … … . … 13
Majority … … 7
Question so resolvedin the negative.
– Idesire to ask the chairman when it will be competent for me to move the insertion of certain words defining “manganese steel”? The provision as to manganese steel parts is notas clear as it might be, and an alteration should be made, in order that the Customs authorities may know what amount of manganese steel must contain to come within the definition. Some steel which is imported contains a large proportion of manganese, but steel used by other manufacturers contains a smaller percentage of it. The users of the latter class of steel are in fear and trembling, on account of the criminal code which the Minister for Trade and Customs has introduced. They are afraid to invoice imports as being manganese steel, until it is understood what’ percentage of manganese steel must contain to come within that definition. It is for the purpose of making it clear, that I wish to move the addition of the words “ which contains not less than 1 per cent, of manganese.”
– The honorable and learned senator can move that at the end of the list.
– It has been pointed out to me that there is an omission from the list of special exemptions. The last paragraph mentions “zinc, scrap and sheet.” I understand that it is necessary to insert the word “ bar “ after the word “ zinc,” because bar zinc is practically of the same character, and a difficulty may arise if the word is not inserted. I am also going to propose a request for the insertion of a small addition to the paragraph, to meet the case of small blocks of zinc which are imported for use in marine boilers to resist the action of salt water. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the special exemption, to item 78, “zinc, scrap and sheet,” by adding, on and after 1st August, 1902, after the word “zinc” the word “ bar.”
Motion agreed to.
Motion (by Senator Drake) agreed to -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the special exemption to item 78, “zinc, scrap and sheet,” by adding the words - “and on and after 1st August, 1902, zinc blocks for marine boilers.”
– I wish to move a request that there may be added to the special exemptions certain instruments used by opticians. It is necessary that this amendment should be made to meet the requirements of a trade that is concerned with very delicate instruments. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the special exemptions to item 78 by adding the words - “ and on and after 1st August, 1902, grinding and polishing discs, lens cutting machines, lens drilling machines, and lens measures. “
– The instruments mentioned in the motion are all more or less, delicate, and are necessary for the carrying on of the profession of an optician, The articles mentioned correspond with instruments of a kind that have been allowed to be imported free in connexion with other trades. I therefore offer no objection to the motion.
Motion agreed to.
Motion (by Senator Pulsford) agreed to-
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the special exemptions to item 78 by adding the words, “and on and after 1st August, 1902, machines for the manufacture of belting and of metal sheets.”
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the special exemptions to item 78 by adding the words, “and on and after 1st August, 1902, rain gauges and measures.”
It is very important that accurate records of the rainfall in various parts of the Commonwealth should be kept, and the States Governments are constantly requesting their citizens to keep such records. That being so, it seems a stupid thing to discourage the use of rain gauges by imposing a duty of 20 per cent upon them.
– It seems to me that rain gauges can easily be manufactured here, and I believe that, as a matter of fact, very few are imported. The only part of a rain gauge which partakes of the nature of a scientific instrument is the brass gauge ; the cylinder could be extemporised from an oil drum, or other similar vessel. I should like to hear further argument upon this subject before agreeing to the motion.
– I am opposed to the motion. Hundreds of rain gauges are made in the Commonwealth. As the Postmaster-General has pointed out, the only scientific part of these instruments is the brass measure or gauge. Almost any one could make the cylinder.
Senator CHARLESTON (South Australia). - In this connexion I should like to draw the attention of honorable senators to the following letter, which appeared in the South Australian Register last month : -
Our Commonwealth Executive and legislators are a bar to matters of extreme importance throughout the States, in levying 20 per cent, duty on many n.e.i. scientific articles - rain guages to wit. Every member of the Commonwealth who keeps a reliable rainfall return is a public benefactor. Why tax him 4s. or 5s. in the pound under the curse of the Tariff n.e.i.? The demand will not warrant profitable manufacture here for many years. Hence place all such scientific instruments on the free list.
It has been said that very few of these instruments are imported, but I know a dealer in scientific instruments in South Australia who, at the present moment, has a large consignment inbond at Port Adelaide. Inasmuch as the users of rain gauges are, as the writer of the letter which I have just read points out, publicbenefactors, and receive no personal benefit from keeping records of the rainfall, we ought not to impose a duty upon these instruments.
Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania). - I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the special exemptions to item 78 by adding the words - “and on and sifter 1st August, . 1902, manganese steel parts, that is, parts that are made of steel containing not less than 1 per cent, of manganese, and that are used for and worn in grinding, crushing, or pulverizing material by coming in actual contact therewith.”
I would point out that manganese steel parts cannot be manufactured in Australia. From my stand-point, that is an utterly nonsenical reason for placing any article upon the free list, although it seems an all-powerful argument from the point of view of protectionists.
– The explanation of the necessity which exists for the proposed additionis, I think, a very simple one. I am informed that the term “ manganese steel” has a special signification, and that it is claimed that one firm only has the right to use the term SenatorClemons merely proposes to describe the article so that in future it shall be admitted free irrespective of whether or not it is the product of one particular firm. Therefore, I have no objection to the motion.
Motion agreed to.
Motion (by Senator Macfarlane) agreed to-
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the special exemptions to item 78 by adding the words - “and on and after 1st August, 1902, punching and eye-letting machines.”
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to omit on and after 1st August, 1902, the special exemption to item 78, “wire netting.”
I hold that this article might very fairly be subject to a duty. No doubt honorable senators who come from New South Wales will argue that the manufacturers of wire netting in that State have done very well. They will probably urge that Messrs. Lysaght Brothers Limited have established a flourishing industry in New South Wales under free-trade conditions. But I affirm that Messrs. Lysaght Brothers are not doing as well as many people imagine. For years they have struggled against foreign competition, and it would be a very graceful act on the part of this Parliament to relieve them from the burdens imposed by such competition, and give the industry in which they are engaged a fair chance. I have in my hand the following letter from the Sydney branch of that firm : -
We make om- netting in Melbourne and in New South Wales, galvanize it, weave it, and roll it by the most modern and complete machinery of to-duy. For years we have been contending against foreign competition. The German netting manufacturers have formed what is known as an export bounty fund which provides for the payment of 15s. per mile for every mile of netting sent from Germany to these States. In addition to this export bounty they have shipping subsidies and cheap freights. For instance, they cun ship from Antwerp to Adelaide, Melbourne, or Sydney at the rate of 10s. 6d. per ton, whereas we can only ship by our intercolonial steam-ship companies to these ports and Western Australian ports, at from 15s. to 22s. (id. per ton by measurement. You will gather from these few facts how important it is for us to have some kind of protection in the industry in which we are so largely interested. We have the largest netting factory in the world in Sydney, and during the past two years have striven hard to increase our Melbourne works in order to meet market demands in Victoria, but the drawbacks have been so overwhelming as almost to prevent us from operating. Each year we have lost money, but in the hope that the Government will come to our aid, we have fought ou against an ebb-tide. I do hope that you will place this matter before the Senate and secure the .10 per cent, bonus - a small percentage - which is just enough to help us to increase our Melbourne plant and give employment to hundreds of labourers,- skilled and unskilled.
The other letter is from Mr. Frank Butler, the Melbourne manager of the same firm. It is as follows : -
Wire netting is made in both Sydney and Melbourne, and our joint factories have sufficient machinery to supply the whole demands of the Commonwealth. There would, therefore, be no necessity to draw upon foreigners for local supplies. For years we have been fighting an uphill battle with German competitors, who not only have shipping subsidies to aid them, but they have also a bounty of 15s. per mile on every mile of netting exported from Germany. Their shipping subsidies enable them to land netting at Adelaide, Melbourne, or Sydney at 10s. fid. per ton, while it costs us from 15s. to 22s. (id. per ton measurement to land the same netting from Sydney or Melbourne at any Australian port. When you take into account that they have the raw material on the spot, and can draw their supplies at need, in small quantities, while we, on the other hand, are obliged to keep a floating stock, in dozens of different gauges of wire, to the value of £60,000, you can appreciate what an amount of interest is involved in this large outlay ; and the money is not turned over for months after the material reaches us. Again there is the labour question. We are obliged to keep large numbers of skilled artisans and workmen generally, and to pay them accordingly ; while they, on the other hand, pay their men a mere pittance. It is a question of whether local industries are to survive, because without help we cannot hold up long against such an overwhelming bide of adverse circumstances. Our factory is the largest of its kind in the world, the machinery and plant in Sydney being valued at £.120,000, and in Melbourne at £12,000. There are 400 workmen employed in our Sydney works, and 50 .in the Melbourne works, and we pay yearly £16,000 in wages. During the Dibbs administration we were protected by a 15 per cent, duty, but this was revoked when Mr. Reid got into power. Nothing but the raw wire and u small percentage of spelter (zinc) is imported by us. The raw wire cannot be bought locally, as there are no wire-drawing works in the Commonwealth, but we purchase large quantities of spelter from the various Australian States. The wire is woven on our machines, and galvanized and rolled in our works, so that it is no mere furbishing up of an imported article. The whole process is completed by us from beginning to end.’ If we are to close down our works it will mean a serious loss to the Commonwealth . Not only will upwards of 500 employes be left destitute, but it will, mean that the European competitors will have attained their much desired object, viz., to crush us in order to obtain a market for themselves, and could then make their own prices. We are the present barrier against this. Wire netting can be bought in Melbourne to-day at a less price than you can purchase it in Germany, and yet it has to be brought 13,000 miles. You will gather from the foregoing what a crushing weight we have had to bear, and the business has, in consequence, been going to the leeward for some years. So heavy have been our losses, and so greatly are we beset with unfair competition, that we would gladly dispose of our works, raw material, plant, &c, to the Government at cost price.
Droughts occur every few years, and their recurrence brings with them a wave of sympathy for the pastoralists. Probably it was due to that wave of sympathy that another place allowed wire netting to be exempt ; but; generally speaking, I submit that the pastoralists are doing very well in spite of the drought. I do not desire to go into the general question of affording relief to the pastoralists, as it was thrashed out a few days ago, but those who require wire netting are as well able to bear any increased price that may be the result of the imposition of a duty as are various other classes of the community to bear other taxation. It has not been denied that the establishment of the local industry has caused the price of wire netting to be reduced, and surely the interests of the 500 men employed in it should induce us to remove wire netting from the list of exemptions. Honorable senators from
– This question was the subject of a series of debates in another place, and after all the arguments that could be adduced on both sides had been brought forward, it was decided that wire netting should be placed upon the free list. In arriving at that decision, no doubt honor.able members of another place were influenced to a great extent by consideration for the necessities of the pastoralists. It was felt that this was an article of very great necessity to them, and although it is being manufactured to a certain extent in Australia, I believe that by far the greater quantity used is imported from the old country. As the matter has been thoroughly thrashed out I do not consider that any good can result from an attempt now to alter the decision of the House of Representatives,
Considering the late period of the session, and the necessity to expedite the passing of the Tariff, if it be only to satisfy the desire of the trading community, I think we should refrain from dealing further with this matter at the present time. Therefore I shall have to oppose the motion.
– Wire netting was not, as Senator Higgs appeared to suggest, placed on the list of exemptions by the House of Representatives at a time when there was a wave of sympathy with the drought-stricken pastoralists : it was exempt under the Tariff as first introduced in another place. That being so, the possibility of removing it from the list of exemptions is very remote, and it is out of reason for the committee to think of entertaining such a proposal. Wire netting is so very bulky in proportion to its weight that the local industry has an enormous natural protection. It is this large natural protection which has enabled Messrs. Lysaght Brothers to work up a large trade in the manufacture of -wire netting in New South Wales without any Customs protection. Having regard to the disasters which have overwhelmed the pastoral industry, and from which it cannot possibly recover to any degree of vigour for some years to come, the proposal that we should place upon its shoulders so great a burden is a very ill-conceived one.
Senator BARRETT (Victoria).- According to the arguments used by the PostmasterGeneral and Senator Pulsford, the committee must not entertain any protectionist proposals ; if we are to entertain any propositions, they must be of a free-trade character. Every proposal should be discussed on its merits, and if a majority of honorable senators believe that protection should be granted to those engaged in any manufacture, we should forward a request to the House of Representatives accordingly. Senator Pulsford appears to forget that the manufacturers of wire netting in his own State complain bitterly of the competition to which they are subjected from Germany, and ask for protection. This is no onemanamdaboy industry, such as we have heard of, because it employs upwards of 500 persons, and we may assume that fully 1,500 people are dependent upon those who are directly engaged. We are told by the Postmaster-General that the quantity of wire netting imported into Australia is larger than that manufactured locally, and this seems to afford the best of reasons for according protection to the local manufacturers. The Tariff is full of anomalies which we have been trying to remove, and yet the Government hesitate to agree to any proposal for an alteration of the duties as they were remitted to us. The wire-netting industry is capable of very great extension, as is also that of galvanizing, and we should do all we can to stimulate these branches of enterprise. Fifteen per cent, cannot be regarded as a high duty, because several revenue duties are fixed at that rate. The local industry has to face very unfair competition on the part of Germany. The Government of that country are wise in affording the greatest encouragement to their manufacturers by means of protective duties, and by providing cheap freights to foreign markets. The German flag is to be found all over the world, and steamers subsidized by the German Government are conveying goods to our shores at cheap rates, to the prejudice of our local industries.
– It cannot be said that there is any natural protection to the local industry in this case, because it costs as much to convey a ton of wire, such as is used in the manufacture of wire netting, from Europe to Australia as to send out a ton of the manufactured material. We are told that it is desirable that the local manufacturers should be exposed to competition. What is sauce for the goose should also be sauce for the gander ; and, therefore, we should endeavour to establish competition against the importers. We now have an opportunity to do this with the most beneficial results to the consumers. The duty proposed will not be sufficiently high to exclude importations of wire netting from Germany, because the manufacturers of that country pay very low wages to their operatives, and are assisted by their Government in exporting their goods at nominal freights. The importers are thus placed at a great advantage, and unless a duty is imposed upon wire netting, we may rest assured that the local industry will fail.
Senator GLASSEY (Queensland).- This is no mere minor industry. Senator Pulsford said that Messrs. Lysaght Brothers had been able to build up a large industry, very largely owing to the natural protection afforded by the bulky nature of wire netting and the correspondingly high-freight charges to which it was subject. We know, however, that special facilities are offered by the German Government for the exportation of German manufactures, and that steamers subsidized by the Government are at present engaged in carrying certain products to the markets of Australia, under conditions against which our local manufacturers cannot possibly compete. I have no desire to unnecessarily hamper the pastoralists, particularly those in the drought-stricken areas. I have every sympathy with them ; but we ought to pay every regard to the interests of a very important industry, which is capable of very considerable expansion. Barbed wire is being more widely used every day, and the demand for wire netting also must very largely increase, and therefore weshould stimulate the manufacture of these articles in every possible way.
Senator PULSFORD (New South Wales). - I desire to direct attention to the importations of wire netting into the various States before the introduction of the Federal Tariff. In Queensland both wire netting and wire were on the free list, and that State imported considerable quantities of . both these articles from New South Wales. The total importations of wire into Queensland were valued at £60,000, whilst wire netting to the value of £21,000 was imported. £14,750 worth seems to have been imported from New South Wales. In Victoria I find that the importations were £96,000 worth of wire and £27,000 worth of wire netting, and that £10,000 worth came into Victoria from New South Wales. Wire and wire netting were both free in Victoria. AVe have no record to compare with the present unfortunate condition of the pastoral industry, and yet in the face of that we are asked to impose this serious duty. What was . the position in South Australia 1 There was no duty there upon wire or wire netting, and the importations amounted to £25,000 worth of wire and £27,000 worth of wire netting. Again, I find that £10,000 worth came from New South Wales. The honorable senator is not justified in appealing t© us on the ground that the industry cannot exist without protection. It has existed without protection, and we know that the product of the industry has gone from New South Wales to other States. Wire and wire netting were, of course, both free in New South Wales. I should like to give honorable senators some idea of the extent of the business. I find that of wire, ungalvanized, there was imported into New South Wales in 1900, 256,000 cwts., and of galvanized wire, 30,000 cwts. That is nearly 15,000 tons of wire, most of which I suppose was made up into wire netting. I see that the quantity of wire netting imported into New South Wales was only £16,000 worth, showing a clear control of the wire-netting business. I am, therefore, filled with amazement at such a proposal as that put before us this afternoon. The proposal would be ill-timed at any period, but it is specially ill-timed to-day, when nearly every pastoralist of New South Wales and Queensland, not to mention the other States, is in dire trouble. I hope the committee will promptly reject the proposal.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - Senator Pulsford has referred to Queensland, but any one who has followed the politics of that State must know that for many years past the Queensland Government have been specially regardful of the interests of the squatting section. There is no doubt that Queensland imported a lot of wire netting, but the Government assisted the squatters by letting them have wire netting on long terms at a low rate of interest. That is only one of the many measures which the Queensland Legislature has adopted to assist the pastoralists of that State. J. have never failed to observe that the pastoralists, as a class, are largely made up of banking and mortgage institutions, and honorable senators should bear that in mind when consideration is asked for the “ poor squatter.” Let us remember that the poor squatter is now almost non-existent. He has been driven out by mortgage companies, and if relief is wanted for him let the banking institutions cut down the rate of interest which they charge the poor fellow. One argument used by Senator Pulsford in support of relief for the squatters was that the sheep were nearly all dead ; but the pastoralists in this instance are very much in the position of the newspaper proprietors, who, it has been said, do not mind a tax upon linotypes because they have already got the machines, and the tax will not affect them. The dutyI propose upon this item will have very littleeffect upon the pastoralists who have lost their sheep, because most of them have their wire fences erected already. But the duty will affect those who wish to lay field to field and station to station, and those who make money whether the sun shines or whether it does not, or whether there is rain or a drought. I find that there were in New South Wales four factories, employing 211 adult males, and in Victoria seven factories, employing 77 adult males. That will give honorable senators an idea of the extent of the industry. Senator Pulsford was correct in saying that in the Tariff as originally proposed by the Government there was no duty imposed upon wire netting. But the honorable senator should have mentioned that, after the question was brought up in another place and considered at some length, a majority of eight in a House of 45 decided to impose a 1 0 per cent. duty upon the article.
– Then why is it now on the free list?
– It was dealt with again, and I suppose the wave of sympathy aroused through the various banking institutions prompting great articles in the press describing their losses and the dying of stock induced members in another place to put the item on the free list. Surely the banking institutions should be satisfied to get practically free land without asking that they should get wire netting free? Wire netting is mainly required to keep out rabbits, but the time is rapidly coming in Australia when, through the action of the’ patriots who are sending stock out of the country, and so raising the price of meat, the rabbit will be a benefactor to the people of the Commonwealth. It is a positive fact that the people throughout the Commonwealth now find meat so dear through the action of the patriots who brought on the South African war that they cannot afford to buy it, and they have to take to the rabbit. Instead of trying to exterminate the animal we shall in the future be trying to preserve it. They are doing so now in Victoria, and hundreds of people are making a living out of the industry. We are asked to retain wire netting on the free list in the interests of the poor, drought-stricken mortgage institutions, but I hope wiser counsels will prevail, and that honorable senators like Senator Sargood will assist to remove this item from the list ofexemptions with a view to imposing a duty upon it.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to omit, on and after 1st August, 1902, the special exemption to item 78, “ wire netting “ - put. The committee divided -
Ayes … … … 6
Noes … … … 14
Majority … …8
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the special exemptions to item 78 by adding the words, “and on and after 1st August, 1902, hasps and staples for bonnet boxes, brass handles for cash boxes, coal vase fittings or mounts, viz., handles, hinges, screws and nuts, brass backstraps, hand scoops of brass or iron, with wood or china handles, perforated zinc sheets, perforated steel sheets.”
One of the anomalies of the Tariff is the omission from the list of special exemptions of the articles mentioned in ray motion. Under item 130, certain articles which form the basis of the manufacture of portmanteaux, and articles of a similar description, are exempt from duty. But hasps and staples for bonnet boxes, brass handles for cash boxes, and similar articles which are used by the tinsmith and the sheet ironworker, as his raw material, are taxable. They cannot be made in the Commonwealth, because the demand for them is not sufficiently large. I hold in my hand a hasp and staple which is used in themanufacture of bonnet boxes, and also for steel trunks. If this article were lacquered, it would be admitted duty free. If it were electro-plated or silvered, and used for a brief bag or a portfolio, it would be admitted duty free. But because it is simply a plain article used for bonnet boxes, it has to pay duty at 10 per cent. I also have here part of the handle of a coal vase. It is a short length of brass piping that screws into an end. If that piece of brass piping were made into a handle for a portfolio, it would be duty free, but because it is used as a handle for a cash-box, it pays 15 per cent. There is no justification for anomalies of this description. Another article which I have here would, if imported as a cone for a bedstead fitting, be duty free, but if it comes in to be used in the manufacture of a coal vase, it has to pay 10 per cent. My motion refers also to perforated zinc and steel sheets. Perforated zinc is not manufactured in Australia. The peculiar thing is that zinc in the sheet imperforated is duty free, being regarded as a raw material, but perforated zinc, which forms part of the raw material of the tinsmith and the sheet iron-worker, has to pay a duty of 10 per cent. Perforated zinc is very largely used in the manufacture of meat safes, which are necessary articles in such a villainous climate as that of Queensland or Western Australia. As honorable senators are aware, the flies in Queensland in the summer months are a positive nuisance, and meat safes are absolutely necessary. Thousands of these articles are made here, and the raw material from which they are made, perforated zinc or perforated steel, should be duty free. I confidently rely upon the committee supporting my motion, if only for the purpose of removing an anomaly.
– The paradox which has been pointed out by Senator Barrett is more apparent than real. I shall be able to show that the Tariff goes as far as it reasonably can do in making duty free articles that are required in the manufactures which have been mentioned. In, the first place, with regard to hasps and staples, the article which has been exhibited by Senator Barrett would, according to the interpretation of the Customs department, come in duty free as a catch for a lid.
– The manufacturers do not say that.
– We often find that the persons who are most interested in matters affected by the Tariff take a mistaken view of its provisions, and when they make inquiries of the proper authorities they find that they have been troubling themselves about an unimportant matter. Here is a case in point. Brass handles for cash-boxes also come in free under the exemption to item 130 - “handles.” Then come a number of small items, which are all fixings used in the manufacture of what were formerly called coal scuttles, but are .now called, coal vases. I believe that many of them are made in Australia ; but, in any case, there is a provision in the Tariff under which minor articles for the manufacture of goods within the Commonwealth may be admitted free. The Minister for Trade and Customs, after giving careful consideration to the matter, has come to the conclusion that where it is desirable to admit these articles free they should be exempted as minor articles for the purpose of manufacture, and should not be placed upon the exemption list Jest other tilings should be imported under the same names. With regard to perforated zinc sheets, I am informed that the sheets are admitted duty free, while the perforation is done at Footscray, in Victoria. I think that Senator Barrett has no legitimate grievance in this matter, and therefore I cannot support his .motion.
– I shall support the motion. The committee can see what sort of a Tariff this is when duties are imposed upon contemptible little articles such as those which have been mentioned. The Minister for Trade and Customs, we are told, has given careful consideration to the matter, but I hope that the Senate will decide that these things must henceforth be placed upon the exemption list.
Senator BARRETT (Vietoria). - I was not aware that some of the articles which I have mentioned are admitted duty free, as “catches for lids.” The statement of the manufacturers is that they are not. I am moving in the interests of eight or nine Melbourne manufacturers, and for 25 years had an intimate acquaintance with the trade myself ; but I was not aware, until informed by the Postmaster-General, that zinc plates are perforated in Australia.- The Minister probably made the statement upon the authority of a responsible official, but I very much doubt its accuracy. In any case, it will simplify matters to adopt my proposal. The Minister for Trade and Customs has power to admit minor articles duty free if they cannot be manufactured in Australia, but the .articles which I wish exempted from duty can be manufactured here, although only at great expense. The market for such things in Australia is too limited to allow them to be made here cheaply, although in England and in other places, where they can be manufactured by the million, the cost of manufacture is very little. I have already pointed out some of the anomalies which exist in the Tariff. I have here a screw and nut which, together, form one article; but, whereas the screw is admitted duty free, the nut has to pay duty. Seeing that we have struck off a good many of the fittings used by portmanteau-makers, I think that the Minister, might agree to my proposal. According to a Wolverhampton price list, cash boxes can be produced by a firm there foils. 6d., 2s., 2s. 6d., and 3s., common quality, and for 3s., 4s., 6s., and 7s., best quality, with a discount of 45 per cent. Coal vases can be made equally cheaply, and it will be impossible for our manufacturers to compete in the making of these things with English and foreign manufacturers, if they have to pay duty upon the mountings and minor articles which they require.
– The provision in the Tariff in regard to minor articles is that -
Minor articles to be specified in departmental by-laws for use in the manufacture of goods within the Commonwealth are to be admitted duty free, but it does not necessarily follow that only such articles as cannot be manufactured in Australia are to be allowed in under that provision, though no doubt the Minister for Trade and Customs would hesitate to apply the exemption to articles which could easily be manufactured here. Every one of the fittings to which Senator Barrett has referred could be admitted duty free as minor articles, and therefore there is no necessity for placing them upon the exemption list, while there is a reason for not placing them there, inasmuch as they are sometimes used for other purposes than the manufacture of the particular goods which he has in mind. In item 130 a duty of 20 per cent is placed upon bags, baskets, boxes, cases or trunks, including fittings, but minor articles for their manufacture, and buckles, catches for .lids, chain-links, clamps, clips, corners, frames, holders for lids, loops for handles or straps, fancy nails, plates, rollers, stars, catches, handles, hinges, key-plates, and ornaments for portfolios’ are all exempted from duty. Senator Barrett, however, desires to go further, and to include in the exemptions a list of coal-vase fittings and mounts, such as handles, hinges, screws, and nuts. Under his proposal a great many articles which are used in the manufacture of an ordinary coal scuttle, and which ought not to be admitted free of duty, would be exempted from any charge. Of course, he has confined his remarks to fancy coal scuttles which cannot possibly be manufactured locally unless the articles enumerated in his motion are admitted free. All those articles will be exempted from duty under departmental by-law, but I repeat that he is asking us to insert in the Tariff terms under cover of which other articles which can very well be manufactured locally might be admitted free.
– I am perfectly astonished that an honorable senator who claims to be a protectionist, and who has frequently dilated upon the great benefits which a protective policy has conferred upon Victoria, should at this late hour of the day openly confess that such a simple article as a coal scuttle cannot be manufactured in this State. In my judgment Senator Barrett could not possibly insult the iron-trade workers more than he has done by the; declaration which he has made. This committee was asked to impose a heavy duty upon electrical machinery, and upon hot-air and gas engines which are articles of delicate manufacture - in order to encourage local industry, and yet we are now told that such a simple article as a coal scuttle cannot be produced in Victoria. The confession of the honorable senator constitutes one of the strongest condemnations I have heard of the manufacturing capacity of Victoria.
Senator BARRETT (Victoria).- In reply to Senator Charleston, I merely desire to say that Australia can produce almost any article which is enumerated in this Tariff if she chooses so to do. Certainly she can produce all those mentioned in my motion, including the hasp and staple, which Senator Charleston has chosen as a peg upon which to hang a homily upon protection. Those articles have not been manufactured within the Commonwealth simply because the market available was not large enough. We all know that in Wolverhampton these articles are manufactured by the million. There is scarcely an article in the Tariff which we cannot manufacture in Australia if we choose to incur the necessary trouble and expense. Concerning the statement of the Postmaster-General, I shouldbe prepared to accept it if I had an assurance that the Minister for Trade and Customs concurred in it. But if this item were allowed to pass upon that understanding, I fear the manufacturers would approach the Minister f or
Trade and Customs, and disputes might arise. I would point out that innumerable disputes can be raised regarding items in the Tariff which are not clearly defined. In order to simplify the matter, and to make the position absolutely clear, I am justified in pressing the motion, and I intend to do so.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the special exemptions to item 78 by adding the words, “And on and after 1st August, 1902, hasps and staples for bonnet boxes : brass handles for cash boxes ; coal vase fittings or mounts, viz., handles, hinges, screws, and nuts ; brass back straps : hand-scoops of brass or iron, with wood or china handles ; perforated zinc sheets ; perforated steel sheets “ - put. The committee divided -
Ayes … … … 6
Noes … … … 8
Majority … …. 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
– On behalf of Senator Gould, I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the special exemptions to item 78 by adding the words “and on and after 1st August, 1902: - Carpenters’ Tools. - Metal - Oil cans, glue pots, plumb bobs, striking knives, and plugging chisels. Wood - Mallets, handles, viz., saw, screw-driver, plane, file, bradawl, hammer, axe, and chisel, chalk-line reels, mitre templets, mitre boxes and mitre blocks, and wood bench screws. Cabinetmakers’ Tools. - Metal - Dowel plates, dowel - rounders, and , dowel - shaves. Wood - Wood hand-screws and tool handles. Shipwrights’ Tools. - Metal - Caulking irons, viz., single crease (or making), horsing, sharp, spike, trenail, jerry, deck, and reaming (or busters) pen mauls. Wood. - Caulking mallets and tool handles. Plumbers’ Tools. - Wood - Turnpins, dressers, bobbins, bossing mallets, bossing sticks, setting in sticks, bending sticks, chase wedges, and tool ‘ handles. Engineers’ Tools. - Metal - Cold chisels, brass plumb-bobs, surface plates, gauges, viz., wire, tapping, screw-cutting, centre angle, thickness (or feeler), drill, surface, screw pitch and depth, steel straight edges. Miscellaneous. - Metal-
Spoke brimmers, bricklayers’ lime pins, bricklayers’ bolsters, bricklayers’ hammers, farriers’ knives, butchers’ knives and steels, cooks’ knives and forks, tailors’ scissors, barbers’ scissors, gas burner taps (or plumbers’” combination tool). Cork - Cabinet corks (for glass papering). Cordage - Chalk lines and brick lines. Brushware - Glue brushes and painters’ brushes.
The motion contains a very long list of articles. I believe it has been prepared with considerable care, and I understand that to some extent the Postmaster-General is willing to accept it.
– I think that this list might very well be accepted, although it contains some items which .are not of very much consequence. At the same time, I desire to point out that it covers many articles which are not produced within the Commonwealth, such, for example, as glue pots and wooden vice-screws. ‘ The latter are usually made from English woods. Certainly, I have used a good many of them, and I do not remember ever having seen any locally-made wooden vice-screws. Plumb-bobs might very well be omitted, for any boy could cast one. The list could be considerably reduced without injury to any one. Wooden mallets should certainly be exempted. Australian woods are not suitable for their manufacture, and even if an increased price has to be paid for imported wooden mallets, artisans will continue to use them, because they are more serviceable than is the locally-made article. If this list of articles has not been revised by the Customs officials the motion should be held over.
– I intended to suggest to Senator Pulsford that he should divide his motion into several propositions. Wooden tools of trade should be dealt with, not under the list of exemptions relating to this item, which deals with tools of trade containing a proportion of metal, but under Manufactures of Wood. If the honorable senator will submit his motion in separate paragraphs I shall be free to discuss the desirability of adding any particular item to the list of exemptions.
Senator PULSFORD (New South Wales). - I spoke to the Chairman in regard to the wooden tools of .trade named in the motion, and while he saw that it did not appear to be quite right to propose to add them to this list of exemptions, he thought that if the motion were carried they could be sorted out by the Customs officials. I accept the suggestion made by the
Postmaster-General, and, by leave, will amend my motion so that it will read -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the special exemptions to item 78 by adding the words “and on and after 1st August, 1902 - Carpenters’ tools: (Metal) - Oilcans, glue-pots, striking knives, and plugging chisels.”
I omit plumb-bobs from the motion.
Motion amended accordingly.
– Of these articles I am informed that there are good reasons for placing striking knives and plugging chisels upon the list of exemptions, as, strickly speaking, they are tools of trade. I am not prepared to say that oil-cans and glue-pots are manufactured in Australia, but we might reasonably suppose that they can be manufactured here. They belong to the class of hollowware which we have decided already shall bear a small duty, and 1 do not think that there is sufficient reason for placing them on the list of exemptions. A glue-pot would last a carpenter a life- time, and, even if the trade continue to use imported ones, I do not think they will raise any objection to the infinitesimal duty which they will have to pay upon them.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia).I think that the Postmaster-General might agree to glue-pots being placed on:the list of exemptions. Any blacksmith can make a plugging chisel, but glue-pots must be imported. Oil-cans are made of tin, and can be manufactured here.
– Senator Pulsford ought to consider the question in all its bearings before making a proposition of this kind. An oil-can can be purchased for 3d. or 4d., and in New South Wales there are 31 factories employing 423 hands in making these cans and other tinware. The free-trade party may obtain some cheap sympathy and support because of this proposition, but I am filled with amazement that any honorable senator should take up the time of the committee in this way when we know the anxiety of commercial men to see the Tariff passed. I intend to vote against the motion on the ground that I do not believe that there is any objection on the part of the carpenters to the small duty placed on, these articles. There is sufficient competition amongst the tin workers of the various States to make it possible for carpenters’ to obtain oil-cans at a low rate. It appears to me that this is only paltering with the Tariff.
– I find that a great deal of time was occupied by another place in dealing with the position of glue-pots under the Tariff. It was decided there that theywere hollow ware, and should remain in that category. Therefore, I do not think it is desirable to place them on the list of exemptions.
SenatorPULSFORD (New South Wales). - By leave I wish to further amend my motion by omitting the words “ oil-cans, glue-pots.” I propose later on to move that mitre boxes and mitre blocks shall also be added to this list of exemptions. They are included among wooden articles, n.e.i., but should be placed in this list.
– They have been treated as manufactures of wood, and I have no information to hand on the subject.
Motion further amended accordingly.
– I do not know why Senator Pulsford should seek to place plugging chisels on the free list. I have worked about buildings for seventeen or eighteen years, and I know that any blacksmith can turn an old file or anything of that kind into a plugging chisel when a carpenter wants one. It is absurd to think that there is likely to be a large importation of plugging chisels, and it would be far better for Senator Pulsford, before seeking to draw up a free list of this kind, to consult some one who knows something about the subject. The number of plugging chisels imported would be so small that the remission of the duty would confer no appreciable advantage upon either the importers or the users of such articles.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - I hope that Senator Pulsford will withdraw the remainder of his motion, because it relates to articles which are made in a number of iron-working establishments in his own State and elsewhere. The importations of plugging chisels and striking knives are not likely to be so extensive as to make the remission of the duty a matter of any great moment to those who use them.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the special exemptions to item 78 by adding the words “and on and after 1st August, 1902, striking knives and plugging chisels” - put. The committee divided -
Ayes … … 12
Noes … 5
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Pulsford) agreed to-
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the special exemptions to item 78 by adding the words “ and on and after 1st August, 1 902, metal mitre boxes. “
Motion (by Senator Pulsford) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the special exemptions to item 78 by adding the words “and on and after 1st August, 1902, dowel rounders and dowel plates.”
– When additions to the free list are proposed, the Senate should be fully informed as to the nature of the articles referred to and the probable extent of importations.
– I find that dowel shaves are already on the list of exemptions, and I have no objection to the addition of dowel rounders and dowel plates.
I am prepared to help the cabinetmakers in any practical way that will secure to them their industry, an eight hours day, and proper wages. I am prepared to do all I can to keep out the Chinaman who competes with them. But Senator Pulsford need not ask us to accept this as a serious proposition to benefit the cabinetmaker. Will the honorable senator produce the cabinetmaker who wants these articles placed on the free list ? Has he consulted any cabinetmakers or any cabinetmakers’ organization on the subject ? I find on reference to the Tariff as proposed by the Government that furniture is dutiable at 20 per cent., and what objection therefore can there be to our placing dowel plates and dowel rounders amongst dutiable articles ? Perhaps Senator Pulsford will tell us what these things are, and will say whether they cost more than 2s. or 3s. each. This is a proposal to add to the exemption list certain implements, which, if imported, will bring in a small amount of revenue. However small it may be, it is right that the cabinet-maker should bear his share, and I am sure he is willing to do so. No cabinetmakers are asking for this : we have received no letters from them, and if they would go to anybody, theywould go to senators in the labour corner to relieve them of any burden. Senator Pulsford cannot show that he has any mandate to oppose the motion other than that Senator Gould has asked him to do it. The committee should express its disapproval of motions of this kind.
– I decline to be bullied into delivering an essay on these small items. I propose to continue the course I have adopted of simply stating the items which I suggest should be put upon the free list. If honorable senators do not understand, and vote against the proposals on that account, I shall be the loser. In view of the fact that these are not items of importance, I decline to waste the time of the Senate in debating them.
Senator McGREGOR (South Australia). - It is unreasonable for Senator Pulsford to expect honorable senators to swallow his propositions without explanation. If the honorable senator is not prepared to give us information upon this motion, perhaps he will agree to a postponement of the item, and allow senators who are not acquainted with the intricacies of the cabinetmaking and undertaking business an opportunity of finding out for themselves what will really be the effect of putting these articles on the free list.
– If the honorable senator is really desirous of information upon the subject I may tell him that these aresimply cabinetmakers’ tools - for making a joint between two pieces of wood. Two pieces of wood are drawn up together, a hole is bored through each, and a small piece of wood is inserted. Dowel shaves are already on the free list, and dowelplates and dowel-rounders are also necessary for carrying out the simple process in cabinetmaking to which I have referred.
Senator McGREGOR (South Australia). - We cannot take that as an explanation. I understood that mitre-boxes were used for the purpose of making easy joints, but the honorable and learned senator’s explanation has left me as much in the dark as ever as to thework for which dowel plates and rounders are required.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - Before asking Senator Pulsford for information concerning these tools, I consulted Murray’s Dictionary on the question, and I find it says only that a “dowel “ is a headless pin. Honorable senators may be perfectly willing to vote with Senator Pulsford upon these motions, but I do not believe in transacting business in this way. He has not told us what these things are, how much they will cost, or how much revenue will be lost if we agree to his proposition.
– I have the deepest sympathy with Senator Higgs in his desire for knowledge, and advise him to take a course of instruction in cabinetmaking. If he became posted up in that subject, we would have a change from “ stone- walling.”
Motion agreed to.
Motion (by Senator Pulsford) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the special exemptions to item 78 by adding on and after 1st August, 1902, the words, “Shipwrights’ tools (metal), caulking irons, viz., single crease (or making), horsing, sharp, spike, trenail, jerry, deck, and reaming (or buster’s), pen mauls.”.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - I cannot allow the Tariff to be maltreated in this fashion without a protest. We have heard no statement of what revenue would be lost by placing on the free list the articles mentioned in Senator Pulsford’s motion. Does he know what these articles are ? What is a reaming or buster’s pen maul? I am sure that Senator Pulsford does not know. However anxious we may be to help the shipwrights, we ought not to consent to what is nothing, but a dodge on the part of Senator Pulsford to catch a few votes.
Question put. The committee divided -
Ayes … …. … 16
Noes … … … 4
Majority … … 12
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Pulsford) proposed -
That the House ofRepresentatives be requested to amend the special exemptions to item 78 by adding on and after 1st August, 1902, the words, “Engineers’ tools (metal), cold chisels, and surface plates.”
– We are willing to help the working engineers to obtain their tools of trade duty free, bub as far as my knowledge goes, they have made no request to Senator Pulsford, or any one else, with the object of having cold chisels placed on the free list. There is no need to place them there. There is scarcely a blacksmith in the Commonwealth who could not make a cold chisel. In fact, any mechanic who knows anything about iron can make cold chisels. Engineers generally make their own, for the reason that temper is the principal consideration in a cold chisel, and an engineer likes to temper his chisel according to the metal he has to work on.I do not know what need there is for importing surface plates. If the proposal affected fish-plates, which are used for railway construction, there might be something in the proposal ; but for Senator Pulsford to waste the time of the committee with regard to such trifling items is a matter about which he ought to be ashamed.
– I cannot understand Senator Drake’s willingness to agree to such propositions. I understood thatthe Government intended to stand by their Tariff. When staunch and true protectionists endeavoured to effect improvements, Senator O’Connor told us, “This Tariff is a compromise, and the Government will not consent to any alteration.” I trust that Senator Drake will seethe wisdom of returningtothe straight and narrow path as soon as possible. Probably he has not observed the policy which Senator O’Connor has pursued, but there should be continuity of policy in these matters. Senator Pulsford has not given any reasons in favour of his motion. Engineers make their own cold chisels. Senator Charleston, who is a qualified engineer, has made dozens of them. This motion shows the statesmanlike attitude of Senator Pulsford, and indicates what a misfortune to the country it would be if he ever had the framing of a Tariff. My vocabulary fails me to describe properly this electioneering dodge. Any one who understands electioneering will see that this is a cheap and nasty way of securing notoriety and advertisement, by pretending to help the working classes to get their tools and implements duty free.
– Senator Higgs is not quite correct in saying that the Government are accepting every proposition put forward by the Opposition. Senator Gould has circulated a list of motions which he intended to move, and which affected many items. To save time - seeing that it is the general wish that we should get on withthe Tariff - Itold Senator Pulsford which werethe articles on his listto whichthe Government would not object. I am informed that neither cold chisels nor surface plates are made in Australia for sale, though engineers are able to make for themselves the cold chisels which they use.
– I did not object to the placing ofthese articles upon the free list, but I have a right to complain when the time of the committee is wasted on such trifling matters.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - I did not know, when I spoke just now, that there had been a conference between the Government and Senator Pulsford, but I am very gladthatthe result ofthat conference has been to cause Senator Pulsford to drop so many articles out of his list. I join with Senator McGregor in complaining of the waste of time which the discussion of these small matters involves, when there are much more important items yet to be discussed.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the special exemptions to item 78 by adding the words “and on and after 1st August, 1902, engineers’ tools (metal) - cold chisels and surface plates “ - put. The committee divided -
Ayes … … … 15
Noes … … … 4
Majority … … 11
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Pulsford) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the special exemptions to item 78 by adding the words, “and on and after 1st August, 1002, spoke-trimmers, bricklayers’ line pins, bricklayers’ bolsters, farriers’ knives, gas-burner taps (or plumbers’ combination tools).”
– In my opinion, all but spoke-trimmers and farriers’ knives can be made here. I think these articles should be dealt with separately.
– I will put them separately.
– I do not see that because Senator Pulsford originally came here with a list of amendments as long as one’s arm, and has now dropped most of them, we should therefore vote for those which he still moves. If spoketrimmers are to be placed upon the free list, why should a duty be placed upon bricklayers’ hammers, which are tools which the honorable senator originally wished to make free? These inconsistencies make the Tariff a laughing stock to the people.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the special exemptions to item 78 by adding the words “and on and after 1st August, 1902, spoke trimmers “ - put. The committee divided -
Ayes … … … 17
Noes … … … 3
Majority .. … … 14
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Senator McGREGOR (South Australia).This is another trivial item the discussion of which is really aggravating to any one who desires to arrive at a speedy settlement of the Tariff. Very often two tenpenny nails are used as a substitute for bricklayers’ line pins, and a very efficient substitute they make. Moreover, a number of old men who have been blacksmiths, and are unable to do anything else, sometimes earn a livelihood by making line pins and other small tools, which they sell at the different buildings in course of erection. Yet upon a trivial article of this description Senator Pulsford insists upon wasting the time of the Senate.
– I ask honorable senators whether they think that the proposition now before the Chair is one which ought to occupy the time of this committee? Already there are over 450 articles upon the free list, yet, because Senator Pulsford desires to add lustre and glory to his name, he insists upon moving to include in the special exemptions two small pieces of metal. Can he name one importer who ever received a consignment of these articles?
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the special, exemptions to item 78 by adding the words, “and on and after 1st August, 1902, bricklayers’ line pins “ - put. The committee divided -
Ayes … … … 13
Noes … … … 7
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– The three remaining articles can surely be lumped ! They comprise bricklayers’ bolsters, farriers’ knives, and gasburners’ taps or plumbers’ combination tools. I prefer that these articles should be lumped rather than that time should be wasted in taking three divisions upon them.
Senator McGREGOR (South Australia).The proposal of Senator Pulsford is distinctly unfair. Personally I am prepared to support any motion in favour of placing farriers’ knives upon the free list for the reason that they are not manufactured within the Commonwealth ; but I cannot vote to exempt bricklayers’ bolsters. As I have already stated, a number of superannuated blacksmiths earn a living by making these small tools. A bricklayer’s bolster is a chisel, 3, 4, or 5 inches broad, which is intended for cutting bricks. It is very seldom used in the bricklaying trade, and one bolster will last half-a-dozen bricklayers for the term of their natural lives. If Senator Pulsford will agree to put bricklayers’ bolsters separately I shall be prepared to move that hod irons be placed upon the free list.
– I should be very glad if Senator Pulsford would give us some information in regard to the articles enumerated in his motion. For the past half -hour have consistently voted against his proposals for the reason that I had not sufficient information at my command to enable me to cast an intelligent vote. How can any honorable senator tell whether Senator Pulsford is right or wrong if he simply submits propositions without assigning reasons for his action ? I notice that “ gas-burners’ taps” are included in the motion under discussion. My impression is that these taps and many other brass taps are made and cast within the Commonwealth. I believe that they are made in South Melbourne. I am told that our brass foundries make these articles, and some information should be given on the subject. If not I shall certainly vote against the motion.
– This is a highly technical matter, and I cannot undertake to give a complete explanation. I know sufficient, however, to be able to say that Senator Barrett is mistaken in supposing that the gas-burners’ taps referred to in the motion are ordinary brass gas taps. They are steel tools used by the trade to make a worm at the end of a brass pipe. Senator McGregor has already explained what bricklayers’ bolsters are, while farriers’ knives are known to every one.
– Gas-burners’ taps are not made here. They are used only to put a thread on a pipe or in a nut.
– I think that Senator Pulsford should deal with these articles separately. There may be some of us who would willingly vote to place farriers’ knives and gas-burners’ taps on the list of exemptions, but who would object to a duty upon bricklayers’ bolsters, which, it appears, cost 6d. each. Some people eke out an existence by making these particular tools of trade, and should we shut down upon their occupation in order merely to satisfy the, I was going to say, inordinate greed of Senator Pulsford, who desires to manipulate the Tariff?
Senator PULSFORD (New South Wales).. - I am willing to omit bricklayers’ bolsters from the motion.
– But I wish to insert the words “ hod irons “ after the words “ bricklayers’ bolsters.”
– I wish to amend, the motion by omitting the words “ bricklayer’ bolsters.” If I had proposed the addition of each of these items separately we might have taken hours to deal with the matter. My only desire is to enable the committee to deal with the Tariff as expeditiously as possible.
Motion amended accordingly.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the special, exemptions to item 78, by adding the words, “ and on and after 1st August, 1902, farriers’ knives, gas-burners’ taps (or plumber’s combination tools) ‘’ - resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the special exemptions to item 78 by adding the words, “ and on and after 1st August, 1902, hod irons.”
Hod irons are used by a class who have to earn their living by the sweat of their brow. One of them costs , as much as a farrier’s knife, half-a-dozen bolsters, and a bushel of line pins. They are worth from1s. 6d. to 2s. 6d. each, and the proposal, therefore, is. of some consequence to the man who has to attend upon bricklayers and plasterers.
– I think that the ridicule which the honorable senator heaped upon theproposal to place brickl ay ers’ bolsters upon the free list is sufficient evidence that he is not serious now. Probably that proposal was withdrawn partly in consequence of the way in which it was treated by Senator McGregor, and I think he will see that it is unreasonable for him to expect the committee to accept his motion.
Senator McGREGOR (South Australia). - I am loth at any time to act against the Government, and although I think that hod irons are of far greater importance than are some of the items with which we have been dealing, I believe that those who use them do not object to pay duty on them. I beg to withdraw my proposal.
– I object. I thought that Senator McGregor had fallen in with those who are anxious to scoop the pool by appealing to the plumbers, cabinetmakers, engineers, and miscellaneous trades, by proposals of this kind ; but those who vote for such propositions must be aware that the people are not blind. I do not know that Senator McGregor was very serious when he submitted this motion, but having submitted it he should stand by it.
– Before proceeding to deal with item 79, Mr. Chairman, I desire to obtain your rulingupon a proposal that I have to make, that the whole of Division VIa. be omitted. I wish to know whether I should move now that the various items in that division be placed in the list of exemptions under item 78, or whether I shall be able to move, when we come to the division, that the items which . it comprises be free. If we simply strike out the whole of the division most of the items under it will be dutiable under the “n.e.i.” paragraph in item 78. If, after items 79 and 80 are disposed of, I can deal with Division VIa. in the direction I desire, I shall be satisfied ; otherwise, I wish at this stage to submit a motion which will have the effect of placing upon the free list all the articles enumerated in Division VIa.
– In view of the honorable senator’s intention to move the omission of Division VIa., this is the proper place and time to raise the question mentioned by him. The gravest doubt would exist as to the proper classification of some of the articles mentioned in Division VIa., under item 78, and it will be more convenient to dispose of items 79 and 80, and then to deal with Division VIa. I shall first submit the explanatory paragraph of that division, and if the honorable senator desires afterwards that the articles enumerated should be admitted free of duty, he can move an amendment in the usual form, requesting the House of Representatives to add the words “and on and after 1st August, 1902, free.”
Item 70. -Rails, fish plates, fish-bolts, tie plates, switches, points, crossings, and intersections for railways and tramways, ad valorem 15 per cent.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 79 by adding the words “and on and after 1st August, 1902, 10 per cent.”
This item forms an important part of the large division of metals and machinery with respect to which we have reduced the duties from 15 to 10 per cent. I am now proposing to bring this item into line with the decisions at winch we have already arrived in regard to others of a similar character, and if it were necessary I could urge other reasons why the alteration now proposed should be made. As honorable senators are probably aware, the Tariff contains, in the last division, a list of exemptions, which includes all articles imported by or for the use of the Commonwealth, and a constitutional question has arisen, and has yet to be solved, as to whether this Parliament has the power to tax goods imported by the States Governments. As far as the Tariff offers any indication of the views of the Government on this matter, it is clear that they are of opinion that the Commonwealth has. power to tax importations by the States Governments. As originally introduced, the exemptions included articles imported by the States Governments as well as by the Commonwealth Government, but that provision has been eliminated. It must be obvious to every honorable senator that the item we are now discussing will affectthe States Governments to a much larger extent than private individuals, and it is important that this fact should be borne in mind.
– I cannot agree with the honorable and learned senator, that because we have decided to request the House of Representatives to reduce the duties upon agricultural and other kinds of machinery, we should make a similar request in regard to the duty upon rails and railway equipment generally. For some time the iron rolling industry has been carried on at Lithgow, and an offer has recently been made by the New South Wales Government to take 100,000 tons of steel rails of local manufacture. I do not wish to anticipate the discussion which will take place very shortly with regard to the propriety of encouraging the establishment of iron production in Australia, but it would be unfortunate, in view ofthe proposals about to be brought before us, if we were to take any steps that would injure the present industry. It is true that whatever rails have been manufactured in Australia up to the present time have been made of scrapiron or from old rails : but we cannot hope to see the iron industry established here except in conjunction with the manufacture ofrailway material. As honorable senators are aware, this duty will not be levied upon rails imported by the Commonwealth; but, according to the best opinion obtainable up to the present, it will apply to importations by the States Governments. I find that the imports of British and Foreign rails into the States in 1900 were valued as follows: - New South Wales, £154,313 ; Victoria, £63,298 ; Queensland, £154,899 ; South Australia, £4,576 : Tasmania,£37,618; and Western Australia, £64,935; or a total of £497,639. Probably by far the larger quantity of these railsw as imported by the States Governments, and it matters very little what duty is levied upon importations by the States Governments during the bookkeeping period, because the money collected will be handed back to the States. It is admitted that we must have revenue, and I see no particular reason why a duty should not be. imposed upon rails.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - It is all very well for SenatorClemons to submit the plea that we have already reduced the duty upon items of akindred nature to 10 per cent., and should therefore make the duty the same in this case, in the hope that waverers in another place might be influenced by an apparent unanimity in the Senate upon these matters. But protectionist members in that House will know that there has been no such unanimity. The honorable and learned senator’s view that there will be very little private construction of railways in the Commonwealth, and that therefore most of these rails will be imported by the States, is somewhat erroneous, because in Queensland several private railway companies have secured concessions from the Government, and I believe there are already several railway syndicates crowding the lobbies of Parliament House in that State in the hope of influencing the members of the State Parliament to give them concessions to construct other railways. These companies will be importing large quantities of rails, and the concessions they receive from the State are of such a generous character that they can well afford to pay any duty we may impose upon these articles. A duty of 15 per cent is, I think, quite low enough. We ought to encourage the iron industry in the Commonwealth whether or not the States undertake the manufacture of iron. It is quite possible that a State should be protected in this matter. For example, if the State of Tasmania shook itself free from the tradition of the Dobson premiers, and started in a State socialistic way the establishment of iron-works, we might find it necessary to protect the Tasmanians against the bounty-fed exporters of other countries. There is in New South Wales at the present time the Lithgow Iron Works, of which Senator Pulsford may have heard, though they do not appeal to him. From an interview with Mr. Sandford, a representative of the Sydney Daily Telegraph supplies some items of information in the issue of that newspaper of 28th J une, the reading of which will not be unwelcome to honorable senators who deprecate haste and wish to consider each item of the Tariff on its merits. He says -
The Eskbank Iron Works - more profitable to Lithgow than all the colleries - stand to-day as one of the most important manufacturing undertakings in the State. Few people in New South Wales realize that nestling at the foot of the great Zig-zag there are works covering upwards of 10 acres of ground, with an annual output of nearly 7,000 tons of manufactured iron, allowing of the disbursement of close on £1,000 per week in wages and salaries to 400 workers, and permitting the payment of some £10,000 per year to the State in railway freight. This excellent result has been brought about since 1885, which was the year in which Mr. Sandford took over the work with little business and a huge overdraft from the former proprietors. Established as far back as 1874 work was carried oh intermittently for three years, during which time about 22,000 tons wereproduced, butsmelting being found unprofitable the blastfurnace was pulled down, since when no further attempt has been made to produce local “ pig “ on a commercial scale. When Mr. Sandford came into possession a contract was in existence for the re-rolling of old iron rails, but when Mr. Eddy arrived and assumed the control of the railways he soon decided that the days of iron rails were past, and cancelled the contract by the payment of £7,500 in cash and the sale to Mr. Sandford of 10,000 tons of old material. Supplementing the money recieved in this way, Mr. Sandford installed a modern sheet mill and complete galvanizing and corrugating plant, and since then he has from time to time added massive pieces of machinery for this purpose, and that until to-day he has an iron working plant of quite surprising completeness.
I hope that honorable senators who are not blind worshippers of the fetish of so-called free-trade and revenue tariffism, will consider these 400 employes in New South Wales. I do not refer to Tasmania, because probably Senator Dobson, in opposing the proposed reduction of duty in the interests of the Tasmanian iron works, will give all the necessary information concerning them. Born in New South Wales myself , I hope to come to the rescue of the New South Welshmen in this instance. It will be seen that there are 400 employes whose living is threatened by Senator Clemons. The honorable and learned senator, of course, has no desire to injure them. He thinks they will find work in other avocations ; but he should remember that they will suffer a great deal if they are obliged to change their occupation.
– Because they get the protection of a duty of 1 0 per cent, instead of having to work under free-trade as they have done in the past ?
– The honorable and learned senator must know that they havehad privileges and concessions frsm the New , South Wales Government which have helped them. He should know also that Mr. Sandford is on such excellent terms with his men that on occasions when the industry has been threatened he has appealed to them, and they have agreed to terms by which it has been possible for him to keep the ironworks going. It has, however, been only a precarious “existence, and the difference between 10 and 15 per cent, may mean the difference between good wages and very moderate wages, for the iron-workers. To ask ..that the duty should be reduced as proposed in order that it may be brought into line with other items is not to take up very high ground. If that is a good reason, the Tariff might have been put through a kind of sausage-machine, and it would have been turned out more uniform than it is. A very much more important matter for consideration is the interest of these workers. If honorable senators do not care about the interests of Mr. Sandford and those who are with him in the venture, let them consider the employes. If they do not care about the employes, let them consider the interests of Mr. Sandford rather than the interests of people in America and in Germany, and other places on the Continent of Europe, who care little for Australia beyond what they can get out of it in trade. We are here as a nation, sharing in each others successes and trials, and we should do all we possibly can for every industry, whether it be the poor little match-making industry or an industry which it is hoped will in the future become great ironworks. I hope the committee’ will reject the motion. .
– This is rather an important item, and it deserves further consideration. The proposed reduction is one which affects a number of men engaged in the industry, and a number of persons who have sunk a large amount of capital in it. From a revenue point of view also this is a proposal which requires grave consideration. To some honorable senators a reduction of the duty to 10 per cent, from 15 per cent, may appear a very small matter, but I think it is a very serious one. Those who have taken the trouble to examine the condition of the industry in New South Wales, where it has been encouraged and assisted by the New South Wales Government in a variety of ways, must have come tq the conclusion that it is undesirable that we should do anything that is likely to cripple it or to bring it to a close, it may be, at an early date. A gentleman connected with these works recently visited England in the interests of those who are anxious that they should still continue and should extend their operations. Since that gentleman came back from England he has been very much discouraged by indications of an intention to reduce the duties on iron. There are something like 300 or 400 men engaged in the Lithgow Iron Works, which pay wages to the extent of £1,000 per week, or £52,000 per annum. Do not honorable senators realize what a serious injury the proposed reduction would do to an industry in which a vast amount of capital has been sunk ? This is the very time when a new impetus ought to be given to the works, but the free-traders,in a calm, deliberate, and callous manner, propose the reduction of a duty which, spread over the whole Commonwealth, would mean an infinitesimal sum to the individual. Senator Clemons mentioned that he believed there were few private railway lines in Australia. But the State Parliament of Queensland has passed a considerable number of measures affecting private concerns, such as railways and tramways, which, if this duty be reduced, will benefit to a considerable extent, in regard to the material they import. The matter is one which involves the curtailment of employment of a great number of persons, and considerable injury to those who have invested their capital in the iron industry, and who will be discouraged at the very time when they were looking forward, with some confidence, to a further extension of their works.
Senator PULSFORD (New South Wales). - Listening to Senator Glassoy, one would scarcely imagine that we are proposing to agree to a duty of 10 per cent, in regard to an industry which, under all the State Tariffs, had the benefit of practically no duty whatever. Senator Glassey speaks as though we were proposing to break down a long-established system of protection. We are not proposing anything of the sort. Therefore there are not those interests at stake which we are told are now in danger. It is true that the Lithgow Iron Works have had certain concessions granted to them by the railway authorities of New South Wales, but I should like to take this opportunity of correcting what was said some time ago by Senator O’Connor, and has been partly repeated by Senator Glassey. It has been stated that these concessions were granted by the New South Wales railway authorities much in the same way that a protective duty might be granted by Parliament. But the position was this - the New South Wales railway authorities possesseda good deal of old scrap iron which was of no use to them. They mode an arrangement with the Lithgow Iron Works to sell them this material at a relatively low rate, and to give concessions in the railway freight on the manufacture of the iron when it was sent westward. This arrangement was not made when the late Mr. Eddy came to New South Wales, but a good many years before he arrived, though he confirmed it, and increased the amount of the business done. There is one point with regard to revenue which should be borne in mind. The great bulk of the railway material that has been used in the past and will be used in the future in the construction of State railways has been imported. Where does the capital come from to build those railways? It is borrowed capital ; and it is finance of a very regrettable and objectionable character that we should borrow money from Great Britain to construct railways, collect money on the material imported, and spend the money so collected as part of our current revenue. I do not understand how it is that financiers, in London who lend money to Australia are willing to do so on such conditions. It can only be because they know the Australians are to be trusted, and that the Australians only will suffer from what is done. If we are desirous of setting our finances on a thoroughly sound basis, we ought not to encourage anything of the sort. Looking at the matter from this point of view, I realize that I am placing myself in an illogical position. But if it is wrong to the extent of 15 per cent., it is less so to the extent of 10 per cent. I do not believe in doing it at all, and if I could secure sufficient support I would vote to put railway material on the free list. But as that would not be possible, the best we can get out of the wisdom of the Senate is to reduce the duty from 15 per cent, to 10 per cent. As a matter of revenue, 10 per cent, is ample as far as it will affect private enterprise. Certainly, if private people are willing to continue constructing railways and tramways, we ought not to discourage them by imposing a heavy duty. For the various reasons I have stated, the Senate ought, without any hesitation, to cut down this duty from 15 per cent. to10 per cent.
- Senator Pulsford tells us that the Tariffs of the States did not impose duties on railway material. But I find that in South Australia there was a duty of 25 per cent, on fish-plates, tie-plates, and switches. In Tasmania there was a duty of 10 per cent, on rails, fish-plates, tie-plates, switches, points crossings, and intersections. In New Zealand there was a duty of 20 per cent, on all the railway material, except rails, and in Canada the duty was 30 per cent, even on rails. It is true that under the State Tariffs no duty was paid on material imported for the construction of State railways. But we are now legislating for the Commonwealth as a whole. If Senator Clemons had said - “ I want rails which are not above 20 lbs. or 25 lbs. to the yard, to be imported at 10 per cent., in order that light tramways, such as are constructed in mines, and sometimes in connexion with saw-mills, may come in at a lower rate,” I could have understood it. But he was arguing in favour of a low duty because it would benefit private companies. Tasmania had some experience of a private company which it had to buy out at its own valuation. That State was very glad to get ridof the company which laid the line from Hobart to Launceston. Then, inWestern Australia, the Government had to purchase 140 miles or so of railway made by a private company which failed.
– That is not so; the company did not fail.
– The taxpayers had to pay pretty heavily for the property.
– The Government forced them to do that ; it was a Government job.
– In New South Wales, the line from Sydney toParramatta was commenced by a private company, which the Government had to buy out, and in the same way, inVictoria, the lines from Melbourne to Geelong, from Melbourne to St. Kilda, from Prince’s-bridge to Brighton, and fromPrince’s-bridge to Hawthorn were constructed by private companies, whose properties had afterwards to be taken over by the Government. The line from Melbourne to Mount Alexander was to be constructed by a company, but the Government stepped in, and the line from Melbourne to Essendon was constructed by a. private company, which had to be bought out at their own valuation. Then, in South Australia, the Holdfast Bay railway was constructed by a company which the Government had afterwards to buy out, and the Glenelg Railway Company, after defying Government after Government, for a quarter of a century, had ultimately to be bought out at its own price. I hope’ that the Commonwealth Parliament will never consent to the construction of railways by private companies unless they are constructed for their own purposes.
– Hear, hear.
– The Commonwealth Parliament has no jurisdiction in the matter.
– The Mount Barker to Strathalbyn tramway, and, I think, the Port Victor tramway, are two more instances in which even tramways, constructed by private companies, have had to be purchased by the Government. I think we should put a duty of 15 per cent, upon rails in order to discourage the construction of railways by private companies.
– But that would make their property all the dearer when the State came to resume it. Senator STYLES. - I hope that if ever a railway is made from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta, it will be constructed either by the States Governments or the Commonwealth Government. In Canada all railway material is subject to a duty. Mr. Jameson, the chairman of the Blyth River Iron Mines, which, I believe, are situated in Tasmania, points out that in Canada there is a duty of 30 per cent, upon rails, of 33s. 4d. per ton upon fish plates and tie plates, and of 30 per cent, upon switches, crossings; points, and intersections, and he points out that Canada would never have commenced to manufacture railway material had it not been for her import duties, and the bonuses which shehas given.
– How many rails have been made in Victoria under a duty?
– There has never been a duty upon rails, in Victoria. I advocate the imposition of a duty upon rails in the interests of the Commonwealth, though the States that would chiefly benefit are New South Wales and Tasmania.
– How many rails has Tasmania made under a duty ?
– I do not know, and I am sure that the honorable and learned senator is equally ignorant upon the point. I did not think that we should have got so far to-night, or I should have had more to say upon this subject, but I hope to supplement my remarks with a few additional observations to-morrow.
Senate adjourned at 9.58 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 8 July 1902, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1902/19020708_senate_1_11/>.