1st Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
asked theVicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice-
SenatorO’CONNOR. - The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable senator’s questions is as follows: -
Inquiry is being made, and the result will be communicated in answer to the honorable senator’s questionsas soon as possible.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 1 1th July).
Division X. - Wood, wicker, and cane.
Item 109. - Furniture, n.e.i. . . advaloreni, 20 per cent.
-I do not intend to propose an amendment of this item, not that we on this side of the Chamber think the duty defensible, because, covering as it does such a large list of articles, it is a very heavy one, but because the discussion of any proposed amendment would take up the greater part of the afternoon, and we do not think that we are justified, at this stage of the consideration of the schedule, in consuming time unduly.
– I, for one, very much appreciate what has fallen from Senator Pulsford, though I cannot enter into the spirit of his remarks.’ I shall be very glad if he takes the same stand in regard to most of the remaining items in the schedule, because we have had enough destructive work, and it is time to let things alone.
Item agreed to.
Item . 110. - Timber, viz. : - ….
Timber, undressed, being Oregon, in sizes of 12 inches x 6 inches (or its equivalent) and over, per 100 superficial feet,6d. . .
Doors of wood, 13/4in. and over, each 7s.6d. . . .
Spokes, rims, and felloes of hickory, in the rough ….
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item . 110 by adding to the duty, “ Timber, undressed, being Oregon.. . . . per 100 superficial feet, (id.,” the words, “and on and after 1st August, 1902,1s.”
I very much regret that the duties in this division are so low, and I shall be delighted if I can induce the Senate to request the House of Representatives to increase some of them. I, and my constituents, take most exception to the fact that New Zealand pine has been placed upon the free list ; but if I am successful in carrying the motion I have just moved I hope that honorable senators will assist me in having that exemption struck off. There has been a good deal of correspondence with regard to the timber duties. Every honorable senator must have received many written communications and printed documents upon the subject. The timber trade is one of the most important of the Queensland industries, ranking but little behind the pastoral and mining industries. When the Tariff was before the House of Representatives, some of the most capable and influential men connected with the timber industry in Queensland came to
Melbourne, and had long and earnest interviews here with the Prime Minister and the Minister for Trade and Customs on the subject of the duties; and a large deputation, consisting of members of both Houses of the Federal Parliament, at which I attended, also interviewed the Government on the subject. We hoped that, as the result of these representations, and in view of the information placed in the hands of the members of the other Chamber, the industry would not be disturbed; but in that hope we were disappointed. No body of men in the southern part of Queensland offered such a general opposition to federation as did those engaged in the timber industry, because they were alarmed for the safety of that industry ; and I am sorry to say that some of their forebodings and anticipations have been more than realized. I have here a letter which I received from the Queensland Timber Trust on the 20th May last. Their offices are situated at 338 Queen-street, Brisbane : and they wrote to me as follows : -
As your House is about to enter upon a discussion on the items of the Tariff recently passed by the House of Representatives, I have the honour to most respectfully point out to you the imminent danger in which the timber industry of this State is now placed, by reason of the House of Representatives having resolved by a majority of one vote to admit all New Zealand timber free from duty at all ports of the Commonwealth. Prior to federation the Tariff existing in this State provided for an import duty of 1s.6d. per 100 superficial feet on log timber, and on undressed timber of a scantling 06 square inches and over, all dressed and sawn timber of a scantling under 96 square inches being charged 3s. per . 100 superficial feet. With the aid of the protection thus afforded a most important industry has been successfully established, over 20,000 white men being employed therein - a large percentage of the electors of this State.
It will thus be seen that one-fifth of the male electors of the State are employed in the timber industry.
– That is a greatly exaggerated statement.
– The honorable senator cannot claim to know better than the gentlemen interested in this industry, and in view of the care which they have apparently taken to marshal their facts, honorable senators may accept their statement as correct. The writer continues : -
In view of the importance of the timber industry to Queensland in December last, Mr. T. ft. Lahey, of Brisbane, and the writer had the honour to be appointed delegates of the combined timber interests of this State to proceed to Mel bourne to lay before the Government of the Commonwealth the serious blow which the industry in this State would receive if timber were admitted free of duty. The writer had the honour to address the Prime Minister and the Minister for Trade and Customs on the subject, and met with a most gratifying reception at their hands, bothhonorable gentlemen admitting that prior to having thefacts and information laid before them by Mr. Lahey and the writer, they had no knowledge that the potentialities of the Queensland timber trade were so highly important as they were then satisfied they were.. In view of the facilities offered for InterState free-trade by federation, and the understanding that protection would be given against outside competition, steps were being actively taken in this State to promote an extension of our timber trade to our sister States, but the removal of all duty on New Zealand timber may prove disastrous to us in this respect, as well as to the trade within our own borders. Those interested in the timber industry of our State can see no reason why New Zealand should be favoured by having” equal advantages with ourselves. The timber industry affords more employment than any other of our primary industries. Large numbers of timber-getters have been suffering from the prevailing drought, and the tick and red-water troubles, and the opening of our markets to free competition with New Zealand may completely ruin them. The decision of the House of Representatives by a bare majority of only one vote to admit timber free from New Zealand honourably permits me to invite your most earnest consideration to the unfortunate position in which those interested in the timber industry in this State are placed, and I confidently request you to put forth your best efforts in your honorable House to obtain a recommendation to the House of Representatives that a duty should be levied on New Zealand timber. If you should find it impossible to have a duty levied on all New Zealand timber, if any exemption has to be made, I would suggest that such exemption should apply to New Zealand white pine only. In soliciting your valuable assistance in this matter, I would state that the association I have the honour to represent voices the greater part of those interested in the timber industry in the southern part of this State.
I have the honour to be, sir,
Your obedient servant,
Chairman of Directors, Queensland Timber Trust.
Mr. Campbell is a member of the Legislative Assembly of Queensland, and is interested in one of the largest timber businesses in that State. It was, no doubt, owing to this fact that he was appointed chairman of the Timber Trust, in which capacity he speaks for the industry as a whole. A. most important letter was addressed to the Prime Minister on the 19th November, 1901. It reads as follows : -
Brisbane, 19th November, 1901.
Sir, - We have the honour to invite your attention to the recently announced proposal of a certain section of the Commonwealth Parliament which has for its object the removal of all duties on sawn timber. We regard this proposal with very great uneasiness and alarm. Before the advent of federation, saw-milling in all its branches was rapidly developing into an important industry in Queensland, under the favourable Tariff of the State, which imposed the following duties on all sawn timber imported, viz. : - 3s. per 100 superficial feet on all timber 12 in. x8in., or its equivalent or under, including dressed timber. 1s. 6d. per 100 superficial feet on all timber over these sizes.
The saw-milling business is not only well established in all the important towns of the State, but a great many men of limited means have been encouraged by the favorable Tariff to invest their all in starting small saw-mills, timbergetting, &c, and generally working local timber, and at the same time opening up the wild bush of the State, and these men have proved themselves to be by far the best pioneers of nearly all the timber districts of Queensland yet opened up, as they make way for the farmer or agriculturist.
Any one who has a knowledge of Queensland will indorse this statement. Some of the finest settlers, and certainly the most sturdy and most hardy of our pioneers, have been timber-getters. These men suffer many privations and discomforts by going into the wild bush, and perform valuable work, more particularly in pioneering and clearing the way for agriculturists. I very much regret that the industry which they have built up at infinite pains, after years of toil, is seriously jeopardized by the reduction of the timber duties by the House of Representatives. The writer proceeds -
Owing, in many cases, to lack of railway facilities, the costof getting timber to the mills is proportionately much higher than is the case in New Zealand, the west coast of North America, and Norway.
That must be the case. New Zealand is a comparatively small country, and the timbergetters there enjoy exceptionally good facilities for sending their timber to market. I can speak upon this point from personal experience of the conditions in New Zealand, and of the facilities for haulage of timber in Queensland. The writers of the letter say, further -
Sawn pine can be landed free of duty from the countries referred to at a lower rate than the mill-owners of this State can quote, and we submit that the inevitable result would spell ruin to a great number of mills, and consequently serious distress to hundreds of timber-getters, teamsters, and saw-mill operatives. The State will also lose heavily by the falling off in railage paid on timber, and in this connexion the serious nature of the position will be apparent when we remind you that the railway receipts on timber, as shown in the table furnished later on, is one of the very best sources of revenue possessed by the Railways Commissioner.
The loss of revenue which would result from any injury to the timber industry in Queensland would be a matter of considerable moment to the State. J have frequently had occasion to direct attention to the necessitous financial condition of Queensland, and we shall be aiming a further serious blow at that State if we curtail the operations of the timber-getters, and thereby reduce the earnings of the railways. The Railway Commissioner’s report for 1901 shows that in that year the railways carried 567,851 tons of minerals, which yielded a revenue of £71,325. The receipts from 273,516 tons of agricultural produce amounted to £97,871, and wool amounting to 24,525 tons yielded a revenue of £7S,02S, whilst timber, amounting to 416,664 tons, yielded a revenue of £85,478. It will thus be seen that the timber traffic is one of the most important so far as railway revenue is concerned. The writers whose statements I have been quoting add -
From these figures it will be seen that timber runs a very good second in the railway receipts of the State from primary industries. Minerals, which, of course, include coal, yield some £14,000 less than the receipts from timber. It is also necessary to mention that the above figures do not include any items of manufactured timber, such as doors, French lights, sashes, and joinery generally, furniture, &c, this would add very materially to the figures given above. At the present time, the saw-mills of Queensland have ample capacity to supply the whole of the sawn and dressed timber required in the State, at very reasonable prices, and as there are considerable tracts of country in this State bearing great quantities of valuable pines, and other varieties of excellent soft timbers, which are practically untouched, there is yet room for immense expansion in the timber business.
Those who have any knowledge of the vast timber areas of Queensland, will have no difficulty in coining to the conclusion that our timber resources would be equal to meeting all the demands of the Commonwealth for soft timbers for at least the next 50 years. It is also pointed out that -
There are vast quantities of valuable soft timbers in the northern parts of New South Wales, which as yet are little worked, comparatively speaking, owing to the late unfavorable Tariff of that State, and which would rapidly develop under favorable duties. Every one connected with the hardwood saw-mills in all the States would also be benefited by duties on sawn timbers, as this class of timber would then be much more largely used than heretofore. Unless fair duties are imposed on all sawn timber, there will be thousands of the best settlers in this State, directly or indirectly, greatly injured, many of whom will be absolutely ruined, and these are all white men. The forestry and railway departments of Queensland will suffer seri, ons losses unless adequate duties are adopted to develop, instead of crush, the vast timber resources of the State.
Vast sums of money have been, invested in the timber industry in Queensland. There are 215 saw-mills employing 2,797 hands. The value of the machinery and plant in these establishments is £289,503. The horse-power . employed is 4,232, and the value of the land and premises occupied is £199,420. The value of the yearly output of timber is £652,427. Prom these figures honorable senators will realize that the industry is of considerable magnitude and of vast importance to the States. The amount of money invested in this industry, its enormous output per annum, and the fact that nearly 3,000 persons are directly employed in connexion with it, are all considerations which must commend themselves to the Senate. The writer continues -
The above table, however, does not fairly show the great importance of the timber trade. The hands listed above are employed in the sawmills, whereas it is estimated that there are employed at felling, cross-cutting, making roads, teamsters, hauling, &c, to enable the mills to be supplied with log timber, ‘ fully two hands for every one employed in the mills - so that the figures representing those actually employed in connexion with the timber trade of this State would be about 9,000 souls, which we claim, with all modesty, is largely in excess of any other industry, and if an average family of four is taken, they represent, say 36,000 people, which is we submit a most important section of the industrial life of Queensland.
I do not think that any one will for a moment question the accuracy of that statement. Out of a population of 500,000 in Queensland, including 25,000 coloured persons, there are about 36,000 directly dependent upon this industry, Addressing the Prime Minister, the people interested continue -
The industrial community were led to believe from your public utterances, that there would be no interference by the Commonwealth with airy of our established industries, and we plead that you will therefore resist the proposal to admit timber duty free. The revenue of the Commonwealth will suffer a serious loss if timber be admitted duty free, while, on the other hand, the gain to the Commonwealth will be infinitesimal- compared with the magnitude of the disaster which must inevitably fall oh those dependent in this State on the success o£ the timber industry. We would I also respectfully point out that the proposals of the
Commonwealth Government in very many ways provide for the recognition and protection of vested interests. The proposals in connection with the sugar industry show that this is recognised, though we do not here express any opinion as to the results which may ensue.” The statistics quoted show this to be a most vital primary industry, and an opportunity is now afforded the Commonwealth Parliament to prove that Queensland has nothing to fear from the more largelypopulated States, and that the brotherly consideration we were led to expect is therein reality. - We have the honor to be, Sir, your obedient servants, James Campbell and Son, Limited (John D Campbell, chairman), George Brown, A. J. Raymond and Company, Hancock Brothers (per J. Walter Hayne), Dath, Henderson, and Company Limited,(A. M. Dath, director), Lahey Brothers and Nicklin (by T. G. Lahey), Charles Patterson, Joseph Poultney, J. Handcock and Son, Thomas Bartholomew, G . Agnew and Company, A. , J. , and C. Carmichael.
When addressing electors in Brisbane, the Prime Minister and others, including myself, who advocated the cause of union, repeatedly alleged that Queensland had nothing to fear from becoming a State of the Commonwealth. I declared, time and again, that although New South Wales and Victoria were wealthy, and would have a large representation in the other branch of the Legislature, as compared with Queensland, my knowledge of the fair-play of the public men of Australia induced me to believe that full consideration would be given to Queensland’s interests. But unless New Zealand timber is removed from the free list, and those people who are engaged in the timber industry are thus given a better opportunity than they have hitherto enjoyed of competing in the home market, I am afraid I shall be compelled to admit that that statement has not been borne out by facts. So much importance do the people of Queensland attach to this industry that nearly the whole of the members of the State Assembly, including free-traders and protectionists, signed a document addressed to the Prime Minister asking that reasonable duties might be imposed for the purpose of preserving this industry. That document is referred to in the following terms : -
The serious way in which this question was received in Queensland can be gauged from the following, which is a copy of a letter signed by no less than 55 members of the legislative Assembly of Queensland. As the Assembly consists of 72 members, and some ten of them are absent from various causes, the consensus of opinion is most pronounced, representing, as it does, more than three-fourths of the total number of members in the Assembly. This appeal from the elective House in Queensland will surely claim the serious attention of the Government and Parliament of the Commonwealth.
The document was as follows : -
Parliament Library of Queensland.
The Right Honorable Edmund Barton. P.C., K.C., Prime Minister Common wealth Parliament, Melbourne.
Sir, - We, the undersigned members of the Legislative Assembly of Queensland, having noticed that a section of the Commonwealth Parliament have notified their intention of proposing the following amendment of the Tariff introduced by your Government, viz. - “Timber, undressed, upon which varying duties have been levied, to be free,” respectfully urge that, if this is given effect to, the timber industry in this State (already a very large and growing business) will suffer a serious reverse. Very large areas of Hoop, Bunya, and Dundathu pine are specially reserved, and are under the control of the recently -appointed Forestry department in this State, and will form a large source of revenue if allowed present opportunities for growth, as it is already one of our most important industries. Many thousands of our hardiest and best pioneers will be thrown out of employment if foreign competition has to be faced without a duty. We, therefore, earnestly urge that the interests of the large white population directly dependent upon the welfare of this industry shall be safeguarded by a fair and reasonable duty on all timber imported into the Commonwealth.
Amongst the free-traders who appended their signatures to that letter were the Honorable Robert Philp, the present Premier of Queensland, who has always been recognised as a fairly-pronounced free-trader; Mr. Dalrymple, Minister for Lands, one of the most confirmed free-traders in the northern State, as well as one of its ablest debaters and politicians ; Mr. Forrest, member for Brisbane, who is the managing head of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company in Queensland ; Mr. Dunsford ; Mr. Curtis, late member for Rockhampton ; Mr. Crimes, late Chairman of Committees, who, unfortunately, passed away the other day, and who was a free-trader all the time I knew him; Mr.Givens, the late member for Cairns, also a pronounced free-trader ;, Mr. George Jackson ; and Mr. J ames Forsyth, who is connected with Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Co. Altogether, irrespective of fiscal views, 55 members out’ of 72 signed this document, urging the retention of reasonably high duties, with a view to protecting theQueensland timber industry. Why should New Zealand be favoured in this connexion, seeing that she is not a member of the Federal Union ?
-Was not New Zealand pine put upon the free list for the purpose of benefiting the butter-producers of Australia ?
– The evidence which I have in my possession is entirely opposed to that theory. I did not intend to go into that matter, but I must do so, in order to protect this industry from the threatened inroad upon it. It has been contended that Queensland timber is not suitable for the manufacture of butter-boxes. I have in my hand a pamphlet which quotes the correspondence relating to this matter -
As it was apparent that the Parliament, and also the public concerned in Melbourne, knew practically nothing about the Queensland timbers, and particularly pine, as applied to the manufacture of butter-boxes, it was determined to forward samples of boxes through the State Department of Agriculture. It was also thought wise to invite a written expression of opinion from the largest export butter factories as to the respective merits of New Zealand white pine and Queensland hoop pine. Copies of these letters now follow : -
Brisbane, 21st November, . 1901.
Messrs. J. D. Campbell and T. G. Lahey,
Queensland Saw-millers’ Delegates,
To Federal Government, Melbourne.
Dear Sirs, -Re our conversation of yesterday with Mr. T. G. Lahey, concerning the respective values of Queensland hoop pine and New Zealand white pine for the purpose of making butter-boxes suitable for export, I may say that we have tried several consignments of New Zealand white-pine boxes, and we found these so inferior to the local article that a quantity of the last consignment is . still on our hands as dead stock. This timber splits with little or no cause–
– If that be so, Queensland can command the trade.
-I wish to put this correspondence upon record. I am afraid that the members of the other House were rather misled - if I mayuse that expression - or that they did not give that calm and reasonable consideration which the question deserved.
– The question was discussed for three days.
– But the decision was arrived at by, a majority of only one vote. However, the letter proceeds : - - goes mouldy very quickly, does not present half as bright and clear a surface, and is otherwise greatly inferior to the Queensland pine, which latter, on the other hand, we find is fairly dense, very tough and Strong, rarely splits, stands any amount of rough usage in transport without damage, does not taste or discolour the butter, is just under regulation weight, and, in my opinion, makes an ideal box for the export of butter. Our company holds excellent reports from London as to the quality of the butter, and the superior quality of the boxes is specially mentioned. I consider the prejudice in Victoria against hoop pine may have originated through the logs from which the boxes were cut being rafted on salt or foul rivers. A soaking in this way would, of course, render the timber quite unfit for the purpose. The reports which appeared some time ago in the southern papers, to theeffect that New Zealand white pine is the only timber yet tried in Australia which was found suitable for butter-boxes is absolutely incorrect, and calculated to damage the timber industry of Queensland. You are at liberty to publish this letter if you wish.
We remain, dear Sirs,
The Lowood Creamery Co. Ltd. (A. A.Robinson, Director.)
P.S. - I may add that we are using over l,000 boxes per week, all made from Queensland pine. - A.A.R.
There is evidence that people, who do a large business with London, have had repeated communication from English agents and merchants, speaking in the highest terms of this timber.
– There is nothing to prevent people using this timber.
– But its use would be extended if a reasonable protective duty were imposed. Here is another letter : -
The Silverwood Dairy Factory Company,
Roma-street, Brisbane, 28th November, 1901.
Messrs. J. D. Campbell and T. Lahey, Delegates of the Queensland Saw-millers’ Association. Dear Sirs, - I may inform you that we have used the Queensland pine for butter-boxes for the past seven years, both for colonial intercolonial, and European trade, and we have never found any objection taken to it in the direction of the wood tainting the butter in any way. The point to be considered is that the timber must be per- fectly dry. Some of our timber-yards have not been particular in this regard, and have caused trouble ; but, as you can readily understand, this is easily overcome, as it is only a question of thoroughly maturing the timber before making into boxes. We have found the timber very much better than the New Zealand pine for shipping as the boxes hold the nails well, and, being a harder pine, it does not crack so readily as the New Zealand article. For my own part, I see no reason whatever to prevent our pine being used in the south for butter-box making, for we have subjected it to every trial, and the only complaint has been when, aswe have stated, the timber has been green.
The Silverwood Dairy Factory Company Limited.
Another communication is as follows : -
Brisbane, 27th November, 1901.
Messrs. J. D. Campbell and T. G. Lahey, Queensland Sawmillers’ Delegates to the Federal Government, Melbourne.
Dear Sirs, -Re Mr. Lohey’s conversation with me concerning the suitability of Queensland pine for packing butter for export, and also the quality of New Zealand white pine as compared with it, I may say that we have been using Queensland pine butter boxes exclusively for a considerable time past, and we find them in every way quite satisfactory. We tried a consignment of New Zealand white pine at one time, but these were in every way inferior to the local article.
The Queensland Model Dairy, Fresh Food, Ice, and Storage Company, Limited.
From another direction - Logan, in the south of Queensland - we have the following : -
Logan Co-operative Butter Factory,
Woolloongabba, 27th November, 1901.
Messrs. J. D. Campbell and T. G. Lahey.
Dear Sirs, - Having used all kinds of timber in use for butterboxes for the past four years, I am in a position to state that the Queensland pine has given us the greatest satisfaction. The New Zealand timber we have found hard, brittle, and altogether unsatisfactory, with a tendency to flavour injuriously the contents. The Queensland timber, on the other hand, wo have found to be quite free from the injurious flavouring, and the butter has been opened in the London market sweet and free from injury in this respect, bringing the highest price for colonial butter in December,1 900. We would certainly not export butter in New Zealand pine boxes under any circumstances, even if supplied here much cheaper than Queensland pine boxes.
I know Mr. Castles very well as a man of wide experience, particularly in farming and dairying pursuits. Another letter is as follows : -
Queensland Meat Export and Agency Company, Limited,
General Manager’s Office,
Pinkenba, 27th November, 1901.
Messrs. Lahey Bros, and Nicklin,
Dear Sirs, - In response to your request for our opinion as to the suitability of Queensland timber for case and cask-making, we have pleasure in stating that we have found it in every way suitable for our requirements. The fact that for the last two years nearly the whole of our output of case meats and tallow has been packed in cases and casks made of Queensland pine, is sufficient proof that it meets with our approval.
Queensland Meat Export and Agency
Chas. Powell,pro General Manager.
Then we have the following : -
Brisbane, 28th November, 1901.
Messrs. J. D. Campbell and T. G . Lahey, Queensland Sawmillers’ Delegates to Federal Government, Melbourne.
Gentlemen, - Having lately been, and expecting shortly to be, a large consumer of Queensland timber for the manufacture of cases, casks, and barrels, and foreseeing a disaster to this trade, and Queensland trade generally, if not properly protected by legislation, I beg to say the Queensland timber, as furnished me for my business, has met favourably all conditions required for my export trade, and trust your efforts may be successful in protecting this great and growing industry.
Mr. Brady, the architect for the State of Queensland, who is a gentleman of wide experience, writes to a similar effect. Than Mr. Brady, I know no man more conscientious in the discharge of a duty, or in the expression of an opinion, and I speak with many years knowledge of him in his official capacity. Mr. Brady writes as follows : -
Department of Public Works,
Brisbane, 28th November, . 1901.
Sir, - I have the honour, in compliance with your request, to furnish the following statement with respect to “ Queensland Timbers” : -
The forest lands and scrubs of Queensland abound in timbers which are proved to be of the greatest value in building construction of all classes, as well as for the making of furniture, office fittings, vehicles, and boat-building. The various timbers in common usemay be roughly classed us follows, the names given being their common or local ones : -
Pines. - Moreton Bay, or hoop pine, is found in great quantities in most of the coastal districts, and for some distance inland over the whole of the southern portion of Northern Queensland. This timber is the most useful of the soft pines, is free from knots, and very strong and durable. It is extensively used, and being suitable for roof timbers, framings, ceiling joists, partitions and linings, floor joists and flooring boards, chamfer boards, &c. It is easily dressed and worked up, and is extensively used for joiners’ work, doors, windows, staircases, &c, where the more expensive cedar timber is not availed of. This timber is in common use for all purposes for which pine is suitable, such as packing-cases, &c.
I think I have given sufficient evidence, from reliable authorities, of the value of this particular pine in the manufacture of butter-boxes and similar articles. I shall read just one more letter from Mr. Pagan, acting chief engineer, as follows : -
Chief Engineer’s Office,
Brisbane, 28th November, 1901.
Dear Sir, - With reference to the native tim bers grown in this State, and their suitability for use in railway and other works, I would like to add my testimony, after long experience, as to their durability and strength. Almost all the hardwoods are used by this department, and the pines of various descriptions are daily used in numbers of constructive works. For joinery work, flooring and lining boards, or wherever light-coloured timbers are used, I consider that the latter timber is unsurpassed.
I am, dear Sir, yours faithfully,
Acting Chief Engineer.
There are a number of other letters, with which, however, I shall not trouble the Senate. We have to consider the magnitude of this industry in a young State with a small population, together with the amount of money invested, and the number of people who are directly and indirectly employed. There is also the large amount of revenue which is derived from the industry every year ; and we must not forget that the industry enjoyed protection and that it was thus enabled to grow with rapidity during the last few years. I think I was in Parliament when the duty was imposed in 1888 and I know that when federation was under discussion the people engaged in the industry were promised that they had nothing to fear by joining the Commonwealth, most clear and distinct pledges being given to that effect. Those people had every confidence as to the treatment which they would receive from the representatives of the larger States, and justice ought to be done to them now. We have also to take into account the fact that New Zealand forms no part of the Commonwealth, that State absolutely declining to join, though, of course, as in the case of England, we have strong leanings towards our own people. Our first consideration should be the Commonwealth ; and, above all, we must bear in mind the evidence as to the high quality of the Queensland pine and its paramount importance in a large and growing export trade. There is nothing so difficult to break down as a prejudice. New Zealand has had the southern markets of Australia for a number of years, and it will take some time before the Queensland pine is admitted on its merits. To this end a reasonably high protective duty is needed in order to prevent the New Zealand article obtaining any undue advantage; and after a time, when the Queensland pine has had an opportunity of making its way in the southern markets, the unreasoning prejudice, to whichI. have alluded, will undoubtedly be removed. An impetus will be given to the industry which it very much needs, and which I think we may reasonably demand at the hands of Parliament. J sincerely hope that the committee will assist me to restore a portion of the original duty, and above all things to remove New Zealand pine from the free list.
– There is no member of the committee who will dispute Senator Glassey’s statement as to the importance of the timber industry, not only to Queensland, but to every part of Australia. It is important, not only because of the large number of persons it employs, but also because of theimmense amount of attendant labour which is involved in the carrying, cutting up, and otherwise dealing with the timber. But the honorable senator has rather magnified the position, because it is not the case that the timber industry in any part of Australia has been neglected in the protective incidence of the Tariff. Manufactured timber - timber manufactured into goods of different kinds - is very fairly protected.. Dressed timber is protected, and undressed timber of different sizes is alsoprotected. There are only two aspects in which, perhaps, it may be said that the amount of protection is not sufficient, but they are quite different in character, and they ought to be treated separately. Undressed timber of particular sizes, except Oregon, in sizes 12 inches by 6 inches - or its equivalent - and over, is subject to a very fair duty. With regard to undressed timber generally there was a great deal of discussion in the other House. An amendment to reduce the duty from1s. to 6d. was lost by 1 3 votes. Then a proposal to make undressed timber generally subject to a duty of 9d. was defeated by the same majority. The whole discussion then turned upon the exception of the kind of timber which was used for miningpurposes. There was a very strong contention that it was impossible to carry on the mining industry at Broken Hill unless that sized timber was admitted at a lower rate than other undressed timber, and after a great deal of discussion, a proposal to make an exception of Oregon timber for that purpose, was carried by a majority of three, and that was accepted as a settlement of that question. In a great many places, in Queensland notably, local timber is used in the mines, and I have no doubt that in time to come local timber will be used universally, but at the present time it appears that there is a greatdealof difficulty aboutthe use of timber other than Oregon at Broken
Hill. It is very often a prejudice which pi-events the use of local timber. It is sometimes the case that the trade of a mine or firm is in a certain direction, and that may influence the kind of timber used. There are all sorts of circumstances of that kind, but, whatever the reason may be, there is the fact, which was put very strongly it seems by a number of experts, that the mining industry at Broken Hill would be hampered unless Oregon timber of this size were admitted at this reduced du ty, and so the House of Representatives made that exception, to which I think we ought to adhere. Following the policy which I have laid down for myself all through, and which I feel is necessary in order to secure the Tariff substantially in its present form, I object to the motion of the honorable senator. “With regard to the timber for butter-boxes, a much more debatable question is raised. In the other House there was a good deal of discussion on the question. It was said that the Queensland pine was quite as good for this purpose as was the New Zealand pine, and it was proved that a great quantity of the Queensland butter was exported in New Zealand pine boxes. In 1900, for instance, that State exported 125 tons of butter in New Zealand pine boxes, and 375 tons in Queensland pine boxes. In Victoria the people would not look at the Queensland pine, and 16,000 tons of butter were exported in New Zealand pine boxes. In New South Wales there was a good deal of local pine used in packing butter for local consumption, but apparently there, too, the great bulk of the exported butter was packed in New Zealand pine boxes. The position was put on behalf of Queensland - “ It is really only a prejudice. There is no reason why they should not use Queensland pine, which is just as good and just as cheap.” On the other hand the butter-makers of Victoria and of a large portion of New South Wales say - “ This is a very important matter, affecting our butter export trade, which it of immense importance to us. AVe cannot afford to have any questioning of the quality of our wares in the London market, and, therefore, we must resist this attempt to make us use New Zealand pine.” After the question had been thoroughly thrashed out it was carried by a majority of one that this protection should not be given to Queensland pine for this particular purpose. This New Zealand pine is used mainly for the purpose of butter-boxes, and, to a certain extent, for the purpose of fruitboxes. It cannot compare with our Australian, pine, particularly with Queensland pine, for other purposes. Therefore, for all purposes, the market of Australia is open to Queensland pine. Just in the same way that local pine in New South Wales has displaced New Zealand pine for the purpose of local packing, so if in time to come the rest of Australia should recognise, as I hope it will, that the Queensland pine is quite as fit for this purpose as is other pine, there will be no reason why it should not drive New Zealand pine out of the market. But in the meantime it is only the use of Queensland pine for the manufacture of butter-boxes which is likely to be interfered, with by New Zealand pine. Under these circumstances, I think Senator Glassey was a little hard in the expressions he used as to the disregard of the interests of Queensland and the falsification of the hopes which were raised in her people when she entered the Union. That argument might be applied -with equal force in dozens of cases. There are many cases in which we have been disappointed in the maintenance of different industries. There are many cases in which that amount of protection has not been given which in our view ought to have been given ; but, at the same time, we’ believe that all these things have been done after the fullest consultation and discussion. AVe should trust to the inherent goodness of this article asserting itself, and gradually driving the New Zealand timber out of the market. For these reasons I trust that the settlement’ which has been arrived at will be taken to be a final one. Those who are interested in maintaining a fair amount of protection to the industries of Australia, combined with a sufficiency of revenue, will find in the long run that the best course will be to accept this Tariff as the best compromise which can be arrived at, and to adhere to it practically as it stands.
– I certainly cannot support the motion. In dealing with the duties on timber the other House acted rather inconsistently, and I should be far more disposed to place two important lines of timber on an equal footing, than to’ leave them as- they are. It was inconsistent on the part of the other House to admit undressed Oregon timber at 6d. per 100 superficial feet, and to make undressed
New Zealand pine free, because the great primary industry of mining is quite as important as the primary industry of buttermaking. I understand that the argument used for the free admission of New Zealand pine was that it would assist, the butter.makers. Rightly or wrongly, Oregon pine is held by many of the leading mine-managers in Australia to be absolutely necessary for the safe working of their mines. I do not profess to have as much knowledge of the subject as the mine managers who hold those views,, but if they insist upon using Oregon in preference to Australian timber, because of its safety, we should not place a burden upon the mining industry by increasing this duty. It is incumbent upon ail of us to consider the protection of human life in preference to any fiscal proposal. Oregon is very largely used in many of the mines of Australia, in which, when they do not fill up their worked-out ground with mullock, Oregon is used to support the ground overhead. “While I hope that in the future some Australian timber will be found, which will be equally safe and suitable for the purpose, I do not think we should increase the duty upon Oregon until the mine managers have come to the conclusion that Australian timber may be used in its place. If any mem- ber of the Senate moves to make Oregon free of duty I shall support the motion - that is-, if undressed New Zealand pine is left upon the free list, because I do not think it is fair to make a distinction between Oregon and New Zealand pine in this respect. I cannot, therefore, support the motion’ before the committee.
– As the safety of Australian timbers has been called into question, I wish to read a letter upon the subject, which has been sent to me by Mr. J. .D. Campbell, of Messrs. Campbell and Sons, Limited, Brisbane. It is as follows : -
In conformity with my promise made to yon when returning to Brisbane, I now have the pleasure to hand you herewith copy of a report obtained, by the management of the Mount Morgan Gold-Mining Company, Limited, ou the -superiority of hardwoods for mining purposes. I estimate the Mount Morgan Company could land Oregon pine at then’ works for 10s. 6d. per IGO feet, free of duty. Von will notice that hardwood costs them 1’fls.” but Mr. Comes points-out that much reduced siy.es of hardwood can be used compared with the larger sizes required if Oregon is used. The fact that the use of hardwood reduces the fire risk to a minimum, compared with the danger from the
40 Q 2
large quantity of resin contained- in Oregon pine as pointed out by Mr. C0111 es is in the interest of mine-owners and miners of paramount importance. The Mount Morgan Company have an unbroken record of freedom from any accident attributable to faulty timber. I hope, now that the time is approaching when the timber Tariff must be discussed, that you’ will let the full question of duties have that consideration the importance of the timber industy entitles it to.
Mount Morgan,” 1 3th February, 1002. The Accountant,
Mount Morgan Gold Mining Company, Limited. Sm
As requested’, I beg leave to submit the following notes on Queensland timbers, and the result of our experience for the last J 7 years in the practical use and adoption of the said timbers : -
Hardwoods. - Large quantities pf local grown hardwood of various kinds and qualities have been tested and made use of since the discovery and development of the company’s mine, and from the commencement of our extensive buildings and plant. The approximate quantity for the last two years averaged .1,642,785 superficial feet sawn timber per annum. Ironbark (Cerebra) and Spotted gum (Maculata) being the hard woods preferred, particularly the hitter, as we consider it to be the best, strongest, and soundest timber we can obtain both for mining and building purposes. Large quantities of mining timbers, af ter fourteen years’ service underground in the stopes have been recovered, and are now being replaced in position in other parts of the mine. The said timber under pressure shows immense depression before fracture, and on that account proves to be very safe to work under. The transverse- strength of spotted gum (Maculata), 17,875 lbs. per square inch - lowest test. The average cost for sawn hardwood timber is His. per 100 feet, supermeasure, including shaping and- dressing for mining purposes, hardwood sawn timber of all sizes for building purposes costing the same per .100 superficial feet. The whole of the machine and building frame work being constructed of the aforesaid. Hardwood timbers, since the inception of the company, have given every satisfaction, and still maintain their efficiency. Oregon pine has obtained favour in some parts of Australia as a mining timber : I have no reliable data for tests of this timber on hand, but judging from pines of a kindred nature, the transverse strength can be little more tha n about half of the timber we have adopted. Baltic red pine, similar to Oregon, shows only 4,890 lbs. per square inch transverse strength. Furthermore, the inflammable nature of Oregon or any other of the resinous pines is a source of danger in dry and extensive workings that cannot be overlooked.
Queensland pines have been exclusively used in the internal erection and fittings of all buildings, residences, joinery, furnishings, patterns, and other appliances of a numerous and varied nature, from the beginning of operations up to the present date ; average consumption for the last two years being Ki3’,(H5 feet superficial. W. H. Warren’s table on Australian timbers, published by authority of New South Wales Commissioners , contains full information r« strength and strains of Queensland timber generally : I therefore refrain from dealing further on this matter. For the purpose I have bef ore stated, Queensland pines are quite equal to the pines of any other country, being remarkably regular in the grain, free from knots or sap, easily manufactured or worked, taking a fine finish. They are likewise free from the odours of gum, resins, and turpentines, which prevail in most other pines, which also prove so deleterious to susceptible foods or substances when enclosed in cases made for such purposes. (Signed)
Thos. G. Cornes, Architect and Builder for the Mount Morgan Gold Mining Co., Ltd.
The duty upon Oregon was reduced in the House of Representatives because of the strong case for its use made out by the honorable member for Barrier. He laid such stress upon the fact that Oregon was necessary for the safety of the miners that the House of Representatives was induced to reduce the duty upon it to 6d. per 100 superficial feet. I think, however, that if it be shown that Australian timber is equally safe, that case may fairly be considered as answered. The Mount Morgan Mining Company have used Queensland hard-woods for the protection of their miners without the occurrence of a single death through accident, whereas at Broken Hill there is on the average one miner killed every fortnight.
– The conditions of the two places are very different.
– I am told that that is so. I think that the Queensland timber industry should be protected against the competition of other countries, but I feel that there is not much chance of this particular duty being increased by the other House, even if it is agreed to here, though that is not a matter which the free-traders in the Senate have taken into consideration at all. On the whole, the Queensland timber industry has been very well treated in the matter of the Tariff, and I hope that the employers whom the duties will benefit will pass on this benefit to those who work for them. I do not wish it to be inferred that I think that the majority of the sawmillers and other employers in the Queensland timber trade treat their men unfairly, because I do not think so, but there have been instances in which men employed in this industry have been treated unfairly, and if some of us were disposed to adopt a revengeful attitude, we might be found voting with the free-traders to try to bring their employers to their senses. I do not think there is much hope of carrying the motion, but I shall vote for it, as it will test the feeling of the committee upon the subject under consideration. It is to be remembered that the Tariff which we are now framing is not likely to remain unchanged for all time.
– It is interesting to know that what was prophesied by free - traders has already come to pass. One of the first trusts to rear its head under the new Tariff is the Queensland Timber Trust, and we now find protectionists asking for higher duties in the interests of that trust. Similar developments have occurred in America under protection, and history generally shows that when protective duties are imposed, trusts are formed, and these trusts immediately agitate for still higher duties. The great bulk of the information given to the committee by Senator Glassey this afternoon is contained in a little pamphlet upon the timber industry of Queensland, which has been prepared by those interested in that industry. I have no doubt.that the Western Australian jarrah companies could put forward similar reasons for the exclusion of Oregon from that State. All they ask, however, is that the duty shall be taken off milling machinery. Although Oregon is imported into Western Australia, the saw-millers there are not afraid of its competition. If the Queensland pine is all that is claimed for it, it will be used instead of Oregon. It is absurd that we should be asked to impose a duty upon timber when we have an abundance of raw material in our forests. The same amount of labour has to be employed in timber-getting in America as in Australia, and the wages paid there are very much the same as rule here.
– If anything they are higher.
-I am not prepared to say that, but my information shows that they are at least as high as in Australia. The Australian timber-getter has the protection afforded by the freight charged for conveying Oregon over thousands of miles of ocean, and the great cost involved in handling imported timber. Any one who has seen a cargo of timber being discharged will realize the heavy cost of labour in that connexion. In addition to that the imported timber has to be stored in large quantities for many months upon valuable city land, whereas the local timber can be cut and kept in the forests until it is necessary to send it down to meet market requirements. The reason why hardwood is unsuitable for mining purposes is that it is brittle, and breaks with a snap, whereas Oregon” gives way slowly, with creeping noises which warn the miners of their danger. From what I have seen of the Queensland timber, I do not believe it is as good as the New Zealand pine for the manufacture of butter-boxes, or that it would be used if the manufacturers had a free choice. The New Zealand timbergetters are paid as well as are the men similarly employed in Australia, and it cannot be shown that the local industry is exposed to any unfair competition from either New Zealand or America. It should be able to stand the competition to which it is at present exposed, and it is not worth encouraging, if it is not able to do so. At a later stage I shall have something to say with regard to other matters relating to the timber duties. Senator STYLES (Victoria.)- Senator Pearce has referred to the timber trust which has been formed under a protective policy, but he has ignored the coal combine which existed for many years in Victoria, although no duty was imposed upon that commodity. Protection had nothing to do with that trust, and we must recognise that trusts and combines will be formed under any fiscal system. I cannot understand why Oregon should be regarded as so much better for mining purposes than are our Australian hardwoods. We possess the strongest timber in the world. If Oregon is so very strong, why do not they use it in the construction of railway bridges? We see railway engines, weighing 70 tons, travelling at the rate of 50 or GO miles per hour over railway bridges constructed of beams with four flitches, only 6 inches thick by 20 inches deep, to the 20-ft span. Oregon of similar bulk would not stand any such strain. I can understand that Oregon is handier for use in mining operations, because it is more easily worked, and is lighter than hardwood, but it is not as strong, nor is any other known timber as strong as our ironbark.
– How about Tasmanian bluegum ?
– That is also an excellent timber. I know of a fence upon the Williamstown railway line which was erected 45 years ago, under the supervision of Senator Zeal as engineer. The posts are still standing, and they will seemingly last for another 45 years. Our hardwoods are far stronger and more durable than is Oregon, and I hope we shall hear no more upon that score.
– I intend to support the motion. I do npt wonder at the attitude taken up by the freetraders, because they are only acting consistently; but lam surprised at the position assumed by the Vice-President of the Executive Council. The honorable senator has told us, in connexion with other duties, that our first object should be to secure the Australian markets for our producers ; but now that we are seeking to secure the Australian market for our timber-getters, he cannot support us. Duties have been imposed upon butter, cheese, ham, wheat, and many other articles which we export, and there is no reason why those engaged in the timber trade should be left out in the cold. It has been stated that Australian timber cannot be used in the Broken Hill and other mines, and that Oregon is much more reliable. My belief, however, is that the reason why Oregon is used in preference to Australian hardwood is that it is cheaper. Will honorable senators explain how it is that so many fatal accidents have taken place at Broken Hill 1 Has the timber used there had anything to do with these 1
– The want of timber has.
– There has been something radically wrong. Either the mining authorities have not used enough timber, or the Oregon has not- proved sufficiently strong. There are no stronger timbers in the world than our Australian hardwoods, and if protection is to be extended to our primary producers our markets should ‘ be reserved for those who are exploiting the resources of our forests. It has been urged that New Zealand pine should be placed on the free list in order to assist the butter industry, but as those engaged in the export of butter have already been largely aided by the State, they should be prepared to extend similar help to others. Even if the. cost of Australian timber were a little more than that of the imported article, no complaint should be raised by our butter exporters. The experience gained in Victoria shows that the importation of cheap timber and machinery and other articles can result only in the increase of- the value of land. The timber industry is young, and should be assisted so that we may become independent of importations from abroad. Have we no ambition to supply our own requirements in this as well as in other directions 1 The imposition of a duty would give the local producers a preference in our markets, and afford them a chance of establishing the industry upon such a footing that they would ultimately be able to compete on even terms with outsiders. If no protection is afforded, however, the foreign article will be introduced to such a large extent as to swamp the local industry.
– There is a natural protection of over 1 50 per cent.
– We hear a good deal about the natural protection which our industries enjoy, but when we come to examine the statements made we find that there is not very much in them.
– Upon timber the natural protection is enormous.
– I have always claimed that our ambition ought to be to increase the internal trade of the Commonwealth, and we know that in many portions of Australia the cost of the transport of timber is considerable. We do not possess the same facilities in this connexion as are enjoyed by Canada, where timber can be rolled down to the rivers and floated to the saw-mills. But is that any reason why we should allow our resources to lie dormant? Ought it not rather to be an incentive to us to increase our efforts to add to the productions of the community ?
– A duty of 6d.. per hundred superficial feet is equivalent to 16^- per cent.
– But a duty of ls. per hundred superficial feet represents 33 per cent., which is much better. Reverting for a moment to the Broken Hill mines, it is a matter of history that vast fortunes have been made out of them. At the present moment they ai* experiencing rather bad times, owing to the fall in the price of lead, but such a large amount of wealth has been obtained from them, that they ought in some way to contribute towards the revenue of the Commonwealth. If they do not, they ought at any rate to Assist in the establishment of other industries. I believe that the companies interested have already paid over £6,000,000 in dividends, -and it is quite a legitimate thing for the Commonwealth to look for revenue from that source. Senator Pearce has alluded to the formation of a timber trust in Queensland. He would make us believe that the formation .of trusts is impossible except in protectionist communities. We all know perfectly well that that idea is a mistaken one. Even in free-trade New South Wales a meat trust existed for a very considerable time. How was it possible to establish such a trust in the heaven of free-trade, where everything was as free as the winds ? In New South Wales trade could come and go as freely as could the currents of the atmosphere, and yet we find that the poor wretched Sydneyites who ate beef and mutton had to pay much more for these commodities than they otherwise would have done, owing to the existence of a trust. The Serpent actually gained admission to the free-trade Eden. But I have not very much objection to trusts so long as- the State can keep a watchful eye upon them. Indeed, I believe that they are rendering a most excellent service by assisting in the organization of industries. Of course, if we give a trust despotic power, it will be just as bad as any other institution or individual - ‘ -
– Trusts constitute a. short cut to socialism.
– Then why does the honorable senator object to them ? Why does he, in accents of scorn, ask Senator Glassey to note what he is doing ? The latter is asking that protection should be extended to an industry in which a trust has already been established, and yet Senator Pearce tells us that trusts are. short cuts to socialism.
– Or to anarchy ! It all depends upon the temper of the people.
– Senator Pearce now wishes to change his ground. Senator Higgs has read the testimony given by the Mount Morgan Company in regard to th& use of Queensland timber - testimony which, I think, ought to have some influence with the committee. In any case, I intend to support the motion of Senator Glassey.
– In referring to certain remarks which have been made concerning the use of Oregon pine in the Broken Hill mines, Senator Stewart pointed out that a large number of very serious accidents had happened there,, and asked whether such casualties would have occurred if that timber had been as good as its advocates claim. I am not here? to answer that question, but I would direct attention to the statements made in this connexion by Mr. Thomas and other members of the House of Representatives who supported him, and who spoke from a very intimate knowledge of that particular phase of the subject. Even those who opposed his proposition to admit Oregon timber for mining purposes free of duty did not in any way attempt to refute his statements regarding the good qualities of Oregon pine as a protection to human life. Seeing that accidents have occurred at Broken Hill, Senator Stewart ought to consider whether many more such calamities would not have happened had other timber been used. If, on the contrary, the Barrier mines use Oregon on account of its cheapness, combined with high quality, that is a very good reason why we should exempt it from duty, because timber is a very important factor in the successful development of mines, particularly of mines which have a large face. As Senator Stewart has pointed out, enormous fortunes hare been made out of the Broken Hill mines. But had the companies concerned made ten times as much money as they have, that would be no reason why we should impose a heavy duty upon Oregon pine. Any duty that we may levy upon timber will apply to the whole of the Commonwealth, and not to Broken Hill only. It will apply to the mines which have not paid enormous dividends, and which hitherto have failed to yield any return to the shareholders. Because we can point to one particular district where the result of work has been highly payable, we cannot reasonably claim that the entire mining industry should be penalized by. the imposition of a heavy duty. Senator Stewart might as well argue that because Mount Morgan is easy to work and pays a large amount in dividends, the whole of the Queensland mining industry should be penalized to the same extent. As a matter of fact, the Mount Morgan mine has to pay a special royalty - a royalty which is not collected upon any other gold mine in Queensland. I think that the proposal as originally submitted by the Government is ample, and I am entirely opposed to the motion submitted by Senator Glassey. I do not agree with the statement of Senator Pearce regarding the strength of Queensland timbers. In the mining industry of the northern State, local timber is almost exclusively used.Upon the gold-fields of
ChartersTowers, where the companies are engaged in deep mining and have to work large faces, Queensland hard timber alone is used, and with very satisfactory results. Of course any kind of timber is liable to snap in consequence of a sudden shifting of the ground. No timber in the world can withstand a sudden pressure of 200 or 300 tons of earth.Very often, however, accidents occur owing to neglect to keep the mines properly timbered. In Queensland, so far as I know, Oregon is used to a very slight extent. The timber is used there for poppet legs, because the timber can be obtained in great lengths. In deep mining it is necessary to have the pulley wheels and braces a sufficient height from the surface to give plenty of room in which to stow material and get rid of the mullock not required. It is undisputed that the quality of the timber in Queensland is good, and there is no difficulty in getting it. All that is required is a timber licence from the Government, and the fact that the occupation of getting timber may be fairly hard as compared with other occupations, is one with which we have nothing to do, but which can be remedied in the State Parliament, where I hope it will receive attention. Having regard to the quantity, quality, and variety of the timber in Queensland, and to its accessibility, I see no reason why we should impose a specially high Tariff on the sizes and lengths which are required, and which cannot be satisfactorily obtained in the Commonwealth.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 110 by adding to the duty, “Timber, undressed, being Oregon …. per 100 superficial feet, 6d.,” the words, “and on and after 1st August, 1902,1s.”- put. The committee divided -
Ayes … … 5
Noes . … …16
Majority … 11
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item .1.10 by adding to the duty, “Boors of wood, 1 3/4 inches. and over, each, 7S. (id.,’*! the words, “and on and after 1st August, 1902, f>s.”
It is interesting to note the duties which were previously charged in the States, not only to prevent importation from the outside world, but in order to prevent reimportation from one State into another. In New South Wales, there was no duty ; in Victoria, the impost was 10s.; in Queensland, 4s.; South Australia, 10s.; Tasmania, 20 per cent., or about 3s.; Western Australia, 5s.; and New Zealand, 2s. Even if there be a high dutv placed on doors, importation must to a large extent still go on. Particular stress has been laid on the fact that doors are made by prison labour in America, but we must not forget that under the Customs Duties Act the importation of prison-made goods is expressly forbidden.
– It is n difficult matter, to trace prison-made goods.
– As one in the trade, I can tell a prison-made door by . simply looking at the Crown brand placed on it before it leaves America.
– Then prison-made doors do come in ?
– Not now, but they did come in under the State laws, neither South Australia nor Western Australia having any express prohibition. If the Government are of opinion that the provision in the Customs Duties Act will have no effect, why did Senator O’Connor allow it to be inserted, in the Bill? I know that the Protectionist Association of Victoria is telling the public that prisonmade doors from America will be allowed to come in unless this duty is imposed : but if a protectionist Government administer the Act as it should be administered there need be no fear of any such occurrence. The only effect of imposing a high duty will be to raise the price of the article, as is shown by the fact that in October last in New South Wales, where there was no duty, the price for 6 ft. Gin. by 2ft. Gin. by 1 1/2 in doors ‘was 7s. 4d., as against 13s. lid. in
Melbourne; while the price of a 6ft. Sin. by- 2ft. Sin. by Hin. door was Ss. lOd. inSydney, as against 17 s. 6d. in Melbourne. Doors* 6ft. lOin. x 2ft. lOin. by 1 3/4 in. cost lis. 7d. in Sydney, as against 23s. 4£d. in Melbourne ; and doors 7ft. by 3ft. by 1 3/4 in. were sold at 13s. 4d. in Sydney, as against 24s. ‘3-id. in Melbourne. In spite of the high duty, these doors will continue to be imported, for the reason that one properly equipped factory would make sufficient doors for the whole of the Commonwealth, and that there would not be enough work to keep a factory going. Such a factory in America can turn out 1,000 doors a day, at a labour cost of working the machinery of 10 cents, or 5d. each. The total labour cost, including rent, interest, and supervision, comes to only 2s. 6d. per door. A well-known timber expert in Western Australia went to the United States with the object of purchasing a plant and commencing operations in Melbourne, but his investigations convinced him that, in spite of the high Victorian duty, die enterprise would not pay, seeing that the plant would be lying idle for the greater part of the year. In America a complete plant costs ,£50,000 or 60,000, and no skilled labour is required. I hope honorable senators do not run away with the idea that by imposing a duty on doors, and encouraging the manufacture in Australia, they would benefit carpenters or joiners. In fact, the only result would be to throw out of employment the few men at present engaged in making doors. In America only unskilled labour, largely that of boys and girls, is employed. A union of which I was a member has branches in American cities where this industry is carried on ; and these door factories are regarded as outside the trade altogether, being places where only unskilled labour is employed. We have seen the enormous increase of price caused ‘ by the duties which formerly prevailed in Victoria. verY few doors are made locally, and yet every person who invests his money in building, who is adding to the wealth of the community, is to be taxed to this extent. This duty will not be the means of establishing door factories, and so bring down the price of the article, because the local demand is not sufficient, but it will be the means of increasing the price of doors, and thereby taxing industry. It is out of all reason that a duty of 7s. 6d. should be placed on a door, which in a free-trade port is valued at 13s. 4d. It is an outrageous duty. New Zealand, which has a duty of 2s. on doors, is the only State in Australasia which does, to any extent, manufacture doors. Doors are manufactured to some extent in Victoria, but to a far greater extent in New Zealand.. New Zealanders are able not only to supply the local demand, but to export, simply because they have a large’ supply of suitable timber. The Australian manufacturer, however, has to import his sugar-pine or his clear-pine. I hope that honorable senators will not vote for the retention of these duties simply because they think that they have placed a high duty on the raw material. As the duty on the raw material which is used in the manufacture of a door is estimated at about ls., the local manufacturer would have a clear profit of 6s. 6d. on each door. Even in Victoria, with high duties, there has been an enormous importation of doors, and the same thing has taken place in other States. In South Australia T. have worked in mills where doors have been made only under special circumstances. For instance, where the shipments had run out and an order had come in for a large number of doors, the saw-miller often made the doors at -a loss, in order to retain the patronage of certain firms. Under- special circumstances, a large number of doors were made in that State, principally for the Broken Hill trade. We all remember the wonderful boom there was in the building trade at Broken Hill. It very quickly exhausted the stock of doors in South Australia, and for some months the saw-millers of that State were busily occupied in making doors, but as soon as the foreign shipments caught up with the supply, down went the door- making industry, although very high duties on the article had been imposed. I accept the statement that Queensland timber is suitable for joinery, but the very fact that it has not found its way into general use in the Commonwealth is clear proof that, to all intents and purposes, the Australian manufacturer of doors has to look to America and New Zealand for his supply of raw material. We do not benefit him by imposing high duties, but we tax the injustly of those who are building upon a large scale. A man who builds a mansion should pay a fair amount of taxation, and by imposing a duty of 5s. on a door, instead of 7s. 6d., we shall tax him quite sufficiently.
– I hope that the committee will not agree to the motion. In the first place, it is not only the protection of the door-makers, but also the encouragement of the timber industry, that we have to look to. In the making of a door, is there anything which cannot be done here 1 It is quite true that to turn out cheaply a factory-made door a very large establishment with a great output is required. But there are very many factories which can turn out doors at a reasonable price, and. doors which will compete in point of quality ‘ with imported doors. Why should we not give a certain measure of protection to our own people, who are employed in getting the timber, in preparing it for use, and in making the doors 1 Senator Pearce has given the strongest possible argument in -favour of a high duty, and that is that the American factories, with their perfect machinery and immense output, can turn out doors at such a rate that unless we impose a high duty it is impossible to protect ourselves against them. I think he will admit that, notwithstanding the high duties imposed in all the States,. doors have been imported, and notwithstanding the federal duties, doors will be imported. Therefore, if we wish to get any protection at all, I hope the committee will realize that the protection 011 these doors must be a very high one. No doubt, by and by we may have large door factories in the Commonwealth. It is quite true that at the present time one door factory, if it were run on proper lines with the best machinery, might be able to supply the wants of Victoria. But there are other States to be supplied, and there is all the material used in making doors which has to be considered. .Prom the records of the other House, I find that Mr. Conroy moved an amendment to reduce the duty from 7s. 6d. to 4s. 6d. When the amendment was negatived on the voices, he moved that the duty be 6s., and that was also negatived on the voices. T hope that the committee will see- that this is an item which, on the ground of its merits, and on the ground of the’ practical results we all wish to arrive at as soon as possible, having some regard to what has taken place elsewhere, should not be interfered with.
– The fact that Queensland timber has not found its way into other parts of the Commonwealth is very easily explained. Queensland is a comparatively young State It has been- hampered in many respects. A good deal of time has been taken up in supplying local people with timber. But I have every hope that with the establishment of Inter-State free-trade a good deal of our timber will be used throughout theCommonwealth. There can be no. question about the value of our various timbers. Prior to federation the duties kept Queensland timber out of the other States. The duty was 2s. per 100 superficial feet in Victoria; 10 per cent. in South Australia ;1s. 6d. per 100 superficial feet in Tasmania ; and 10 per cent. or 20 per cent. in Western Australia. The duty on doors was 10s., 7s. 6d., and 5s. in Victoria; 4s. in Queensland ; 10s., 7s. 6d., and 5s. in South Australia ; 20 per cent. in Tasmania ; 5s., 4s., and 3s. in Western Australia ; 2s. in New Zealand ; and 30 per cent. in Canada. I do not think that the position of the local carpenter will be much improved by reducing the duty as proposed. If the establishment of a door-making factory would lead to the displacement of a number of hands, the same result would happen under a reduced duty, because as Senator Pearce says, the Americans will probably flood our markets. I hope that the duty will be allowed to remain as it stands. The Tariff has been altered enough already, and if we now confine our attention to one or two of the remaining items, without bothering about such a small item as doors, we shall be doing very well. I believe that the genera] public will forgive us for any time which has been taken up if we now repent and do the right thing.
– I trust that the motion will not be carried. The question with me is - Can doors be manufactured in the Commonwealth 1 They are being manufactured in the States, and, therefore, I do not feel inclined to lower the duty. In my opinion, if people wish to use imported doors they should be made to pay for them. There is undoubtedly a good deal of prison labour employed in America in the making of doors, and in other manufactures, as the following quotations from the columns of the Scientific American will show. Although these extracts are not of recent date, I am informed that the same conditions still obtain.
Agents’ and Wardens’ Office,
Pursuant to a resolution of the Board of Inspectors, sealed proposals will be received by the undersigned, at this office, Sing-Sing Prison, for the labour and services of five hundred (500) male convicts confined in this prison, to be employed in the laundry business for the term of five years (5).
Also, proposals for the labour and services of 50 male convicts confined in this prison, to be employed in the manufacture of brooms, for the term of five years.
Also, proposals for the labour and services of 50 male convicts confined in this prison, to be employed in the manufacture of wooden ware for the term of five years (5).
Also, proposals for the labour and services of 50 male convicts confined in this prison, to be employed in the manufacture of machinery for the term of five (5) years.
Also, proposals for the labour and services of 50 male convicts confined in this prison, to be employed in the manufacture of cigars, for the term of five (5) years.
With such labour and services will be furnished shops and premises in the prison yard. No hydraulic, no steam power or machinery will be furnished with such labour and services. The use of the Croton water will be allowed at a reasonable rate.
Wanted to hire out the labour of 250 convicts in the Missouri State Penitentiary. Two shops, 150 feet by 00 feet each, with main shafting and pulleys in shops, with all the steam-power wanted. The finest opening in the West for a furniture shop, or for waggon material, handle, and hames manufactory. Any portion of the above hands will be hired. Also, first-class opportunity for parties to engage in the manufacture of men’s boots and shoes or agricultural implements. Ample shop room and timber for all kinds very abundant. Correspondence solicited.
– But the importation of prison-made goods is prohibited.
– That is so; but the Vice-President of the Executive Council has told us, and we learn the same thing from the Customs officials, that it is hard to distinguish prison-made goods from goods made by free labourers. That being so, I shall vote against the motion.
– I hope that the committee will negative the motion. I disagree with Senator Pearce that any skilled mechanic can detect prison-made goods. Will it be argued that carpenters and joiners cannot do as good work in prison as out of prison? It may be said that prison goods are always branded, but, supposing the brand in America were a crown, could anything be easier than for an enterprising merchant to buy up a large quantity of prison-made doors, and export them to Australia, after first printing an eagle over the crown, and thus destroying the evidence as to the place of manufacture? In Victoria cabinet-makers and others are prohibited from selling Chinese-made goods unless they are branded, but that prohibition extends only to the sale of goods in “Victoria, and I know that such goods have been taken to Adelaide unbranded, and sold there as European-made goods. Senator Pearce gave us as another reason for reducing the duty upon doors the statement that doors have been much cheaper in Sydney, where there has been no duty, than in Melbourne or Adelaide. But the carpenters’ and joiners’ work in the buildings in Melbourne and Adelaide is better than that in the Sydney buildings. I could convince even Senator Pulsford of that fact if he would go round with me for a week. In Adelaide the homes of such working men as own their own cottages - and there are thousands of them - are much better fitted up, so far as the wood - work is concerned, than are the houses of what by some would be termed a superior class in Sydney, and you will find better work in the suburbs of Melbourne, such as Hawthorn, Camberwell, and Glenferrie, than is to be seen in the houses in the suburbs of Sydney. Therefore, if the honorable senator’s statement is true, the people of Adelaide and Melbourne have received better value for their money than have the people of Sydney. The honorable senator would also have us believe that it is useless to impose a duty upon doors, because there are big factories in America which can supply the requirements of almost the whole world. That statement, however, seems to be contradicted by what we have heard about the prison labour of America. But, even if it is a fact, I think we have to consider the interests of our own people in preference to the interests of the people of America. If it is true that skilled labour has been displaced in the making of such things as doors by unskilled labour and machinery, it is better that our skilled labour should be displaced by the unskilled labour of Australia than by the unskilled labour of America. We want to legislate, not for America, but for the artisans and the whole people of Australia. Furthermore we are bound, as Senators O’Connor and Barrett have pointed out, to protect the timber industries of Australia, and we cannot do that if we allow articles manufactured from the timber of other countries to come in here free, or subject only to low duties. I know that in Adelaide there are to-day a number of factories in which doors, skirtings, architraves, and furniture are being made, and it is our duty to protect the capital invested in such factories, and to see that the employment given to the men who are working in them is continued.
– I agree with Senator McGregor that it is our duty to consider the interests of the people of Australia in preference to those of the people of America, or of other parts of the. world, and I have always done so. But I say that the easier it is to get doors the easier will it be to build houses, and that with a low duty better and cheaper doors will be obtained than with a high duty. It has frequently been stated that the quality of the furniture made in Sydney continued to improve while there was no duty there, because furniture of first-class quality could be imported at low rates, and, therefore, the quality of the locally-made furniture was kept up so that it might compete successfully with the imported article. Wherever you make raw materials cheap, the people can afford to insist upon getting the best quality. Surely the building trade is one to be considered. As a matter of fact there is hardly a more important industry in Australia, and if people can obtain building materials cheaply they are more likely to build houses, and thus benefit those engaged in the building trade. The protectionists, however, seem to think that in the absence of taxation nothing can thrive, though everywhere there is evidence of the fact that prosperity mostprevails where taxation is lightest. I shall support the motion.
– If Senator McGregor intends his observation about the quality of the workmanship in the buildings of Sydney to be taken seriously, I, as one who comes from that city, wish to deny the truth of what he has said. I am not in the habit of disparaging the buildings in other cities, but I have no doubt whatever that they are not. superior to those of Sydney.
– What I say is the fact all the same.
– It is not the fact, although the honorable senator may have been told so.
– I have seen it.
.- Then I should doubt whether the honorable senator made the best possible use of his eyesight. I lived in Adelaide for twelve months, andI know something of the conditions which prevail in that city ; but the honorable senator has not had a similar experience of Sydney, and is not in a position to make any comparisons. There is not an imported door in my house, and I think it is well known that the best doors in the world are made from New South Wales cedar. I do not believe this question involves the consideration of the American trade, or of the American gaol administration, but, from the point of view of securing the greatest good for the greatest number, I shall support the motion.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 110 by adding to the duty, “ Doors of wood, 13/4 inches and over, each 7s. 6d.,” the words “and on and after 1st August, 1902, 5s.” - put. The committee divided -
Noes ……… 12
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the special exemption to item 1.10, “New Zealand pine, undressed,” byomitting on and after . 1 st August, 1902, the words” New Zealand.”
If the motion is negatived, I intend to propose the insertion of the word, “white” after the words “ New Zealand,” with a view of restricting the exemption to New Zealand white pine.
– I object to this motion for reasons which have already been given.
Question put. The committee divided -
Ayes … … … 5
Noes … … … 16
Majority … … 11
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the special exemption to item . 1.10, “ New Zealand pine, undressed,” by inserting on and after 1st August, 1902, the word “white’’ after the words “New Zealand.”
Those engaged in the timber industry attach some importance to this proposal. New Zealand white pine is said to be specially adapted for making butter-boxes, and it is therefore claimed by those engaged in the butter industry that it should be admitted free. At the same time, it is not desirable that all classes of New Zealand pine should be placed on the free list.
– I object to the motion on the ground that the matter was settled by very close divisions in the House of Representatives. By a majority of one, it was agreed that Kauri pine should be included in the exemption, and then it was proposed that white pine should be added, but it was eventually agreed that these distinctions should be dispensed with, and that New Zealand pine generally should be admitted free of duty.
– That would include red pine.
– I do not know that that class of timber is sent here, but -whether it is or not, the amendment proposed would make a substantial difference, and I must, therefore, oppose it.
Senator GLASSEY (Queensland). - Judging from the discussions which took place in the House of Representatives, white pine was the only timber which it was specially desired to exempt, on the ground of its suitability for the manufacture of butter-boxes. If we exclude from the exemptions New’ Zealand timbers other than white pine we shall be doing all that is required. I attach some importance to this matter on account of the unanimous opinion to which those engaged in the Queensland timber industry have given expression. At any rate it is only fair that they should be protected to some extent. I regret exceedingly that the “VicePresident of the Executive Council cannot see his way clear to accept the proposal submitted.
– If, as has been contended, New Zealand timber is admitted free in the interests of the Victorian butter exporters, surely there can be no objection to Senator Glassey’s proposal ! Of course, I contend that Queensland pine is eminently suitable for the manufacture of butter-boxes. All the manufacturers and exporters in that State use it. Their testimony as to its value has been read to-day by Senator Glassey. If New Zealand formed a part of the federation of course we should have to compete with her. But she is not, and, inasmuch as she pays nothing towards the cost of the Federal Government, we should treat her as, to all intents and purposes, an outsider. If those who oppose the motion rely upon the fact that certain Victorian butter-box manufacturers prefer to use New Zealand pine, what objection can there be to it ? I think that Senator Glassey’s proposition should be carried.
– I move -
That the Blouse of Representatives he requested to amend item 110 by omitting the words “ spokes, rims, and felloes of hickory in the rough “ from the special exemptions, and inserting the words “and on and after 1st August. 1902, hickory, spokes (dressed) 2 inches and under in diameter : shafts and poles, sawn or bent, but not dressed : spokes, rims, and felloes of hickory in the rough, ad valorem, 15 percent.”
I do this in the interests of those who are engaged in the wood-working industries of the Commonwealth. Although the Tariff states that spokes, in the rough only, are admitted free, such is not the case. Not only spokes, but the other articles mentioned by me, are imported in a partially manufactured condition, and I fail to see how they can accurately be described as being “ in the rough.” I have in my hand portion of a hickory spoke such as is imported. It has been sawn into a short length and is admitted free, because it is supposed to be “ in the rough.” If these articles were imported in the same condition as the sample of ironbark, which honorable senators now see, that description would be an accurate one. But they are not. Ironbark is a colonial timber which is used in the manufacture of these articles. I also have in my possession samples of bluegum and blackwood. The former is used in the manufacture of spokes and felloes, whilst the latter is rapidly coming into general use and is taking the place of hickory. The imported articles to which I have directed attention come into competition not only with local industries, but also with our native timbers. AVe use blackwood, ironbark, bluegum and redgum-
– Not for light work.
– But we can use the suitable timbers which we possess for that class of work.
– The coachbuilders say that we cannot.
– Does the honorable senator say that colonial timbers are not suitable ?
– They are not equal to hickory for light work.
– That is a matter of opinion. I am aware that some of our coachbuilders make that assertion, because within the past half-hour I have received a document from one firm, in which they say that an organized attempt is to be made to place certain articles upon the dutiable list. Having secured almost a prohibitive protection for themselves, they are not now prepared to accord to those engaged in the timber industry and in the manufacture of these articles the same treatment.. The timber which is being used in the manufacture of carriages .is not derived from Victoria exclusively. Indeed, the best timber used in connexion with this class of manufacture comes from New South Wales and Queensland, where it can be obtained in great quantities. The bent timber industry is carried on in every State of the Commonwealth, and it has been in existence in Victoria for a number of years. My desire is that protection shall be given to those engaged in the manufacture of felloes and rims. A felloe is a segment of a wheel, and a rim is a strip of timber shaped and bent by steam. The timber is steamed for a considerable time, until soft, when it is bent into the required shape ; and in order to carry out this process, which must be described in order that we may thoroughly understand what we are doing, powerful machinery is required. When the timber has been bent the articles are clamped together in sets of three or four, and, being set, are fastened with battens, to keep them in the required shape. During the discussion of the Tariff we have heard a great deal about the relative size and importance of industries in the Commonwealth, and I may say at once that this is no mushroom industry. In Victoria there are several firms, including Messrs. Perry, of Lonsdale-street, Melbourne : the Clifton Hill Spoke Company: Messsrs. Fellows, of Fitzroy; and the Yarra Bending Company, of Lonsdale-street. I am also informed that there are three or four large factories in New South Wales, and some smaller establishments in Tasmania and South Australia. Messrs. John Perry and Company, who are the largest firm in Victoria, are not, of course, entirely engaged in the manufacture of these particular articles; but I am informed that their’ wages bill amounts to £10,000 per annum, and their trade expenses to £8,000 per annum, while the value of the good’s they make in the rough is calculated at from £15,000 to £20,000, and they employ 120 hands. The number of spokes which are made yearly by this firm number something like 300,000; indeed, one of the workmen assured me that during the time he has been in his present employment he has himself turned out upwards of 6,000,000 spokes. Then we must not forget that a large number of people are indirectly employed, including splitters, carters, and sawyers. The Australian timber has been proved of very great value, and without fear of contradiction I make the statement that blue gum, if not superior, is equal to American hickory.
– For heavy work.
– And also for light work.
– Hickory has a spring in it.
– I know there is a difference of opinion, but I am stating the case honestly from my own point of view. Honorable senators on the other side of the Chamber speak of the necessity for revenue, and I wantto know how it is that the Government are in this connexion throwing away money. A revenue duty of only 10 per cent. would afford a certain amount of incidental protection, and why we should place on the free list goods which can be made here, and the making of which would develop our resources, passes understanding. I hope honorable senators will carefully consider this matter from the revenue point of view, and impose at the very least a revenue duty of 5 per cent. or 10 per cent.
– This great industry has apparently grown up with free importation of spokes in the rough.
– That is not so.
– The writer of the letter which has been quoted says that that is so.
– Out of all the coachbuilders in the Commonwealth, he is the only gentleman who protests against the proposal which I have now submitted to the committee.
– Senator Barrett has given no answer to the statement that rough hickory spokes came in free.
– That is what I object to, on the ground that these spokes are not in the rough, and that they can be manufactured here of colonial timber which is quite as good as hickory. The gentleman who wrote the letter has shown his selfishness in the matter, seeing that his finished article is protected by prohibitive duties. If there is any value at all in protection my proposal ought to be adopted. Those indirectly employed in this industry also desire a protection ; and I have received the following communication. : - 52 Market-street, Melbourne, 25th April, . 1902.
To the Honorable the President and Senatorsof the Commonwealth Parliament of Australia.
Honorable Sir and Senators,
Company Proprietary Ltd., respectfully wish to bring under your notice that the admission of hickory shafts, spokes, and rims free of duty will do serious injury to me and the mills cutting bluegum, which is very largely used in the place of hickory, and compel me to close our mill, on which 1 have spent all my capital, over £2,000, in machinery and plant. If compelled to close the mill, I should be left without means to start any other industry here or leave the country. I was only informed of the proposed alteration late yesterday, so I have had no time to arrange for a meeting of those interested. I have the honour to request that the late duty may be continued.
The imported aricles are almost finished for use by the coachbuilder, and they compete unfairly with an Australian industry.
– I take it that the proposal is that spokes, rims, and felloes of hickory in the rough, of all sizes, shall be placed on the dutiable list at 15 per cent. We have already placed on the free list hickory spokes, dressed, of 2 inches and under in diameter, and I point out to Senator Barrett that the hickory spoke which he has exhibited would not come in as a spoke in the rough, but as a spoke of the class which I have just indicated. It is, I think, admitted that, although we have in Australia timber which is admirable for the larger work, iu which the spokes required are over 2 inches, we have no timber which gives the toughness, spring, and lightness of hickory for lighter work where the spokes are 2 inches and under. It may be that, by-and-by, we shall be able to use Australian timbers as a substitute for hickory. I have never heard that bluegum is a substitute ; and we must have regard to the fact that at the present time it is not considered a substitute. No person would dream of buying a buggy or light vehicle of any kind with blue-gum spokes : and we must take things as they are. Under the circumstances, if the duty be put on hickory spokes, either dressed or undressed, the only result will be to place a rather heavy charge on the raw material of the coachbuilder. Following the principle we have adopted in so many cases, the Government has decided that hickory spokes, whether dressed or undressed, shall come in free. Senator Barrett proposes to leave dressed spokes on the free list, while putting a dutv on the undressed article, and it seems to me that such a step could not bring about any protection. If hickory pokes dressed are allowed in free, the probability is that undressed .hickory of 2 inches and under, in the rough, will not be imported. The only spokes affected by the amendment will be those of 2 inches and over, and no doubt hickory spokes of that description will come into competition with blue gum or other colonial timber. I hope matters will be allowed to remain as at present. The majority of the coachbuilders throughout Australia look upon these spokes as raw material which they must use, and they ought, therefore, to be allowed to come in free.
– It is interesting to see the protectionists in this committee quarrelling with each other, but the history of protection in Victoria and elsewhere is full of disagreements of this kind. One manufacturer wants a duty to protect his interests, while another opposes it because it is likely to injure him. It is of the essence of protection that you cannot help one man by imposing a duty without interfering with, another, and, therefore, we free-traders do not believe in protective duties at all. A letter addressed to an honorable senator by Mr. J. “ W. Clapham, the secretary to the Carriage and Waggon Builders’ Association of Australasia, says -
I am directed by the above association to state that hickory or oak spokes are not manufactured here, and the blue gum spokes that are manufactured are not suitable for carriage or buggy work.
If I were to read the remainder of the letter, in which the quality of some of these spokes is described, I am afraid it will lead to still further debate. I have also received this letter from Messrs. Waring Bros. : -
It having come to our knowledge that an organized attempt is to be made to impose a duty, ranging up to 25 per cent., on wheelmaterial, viz., dressed, hickory spokes under 2 inches, elm hubs and hickory rims, all of which are free at present. The plea is that an existing industry in this State -will be injured, if these lines are allowed, to come in free, as decided by the House of Representatives.
We would respectfully point out that hickory rims and elm hubs have been free in this State for ten years or more ; and as regards hickory spokes, we have been in business For the post twenty years as coachbuilders, and during that period we have never had colonial dressed hickory spokes offered to us, neither have they been offered to other members of the trade. We feel a. great injustice will be done to our already over-taxed business, if a duty is imposed on wheel material. The so-called manufacturers have had 25 and 30 per cent, duty on hickory spokes for the past 30 years, and have not attempted to cater for the market. The imposition of duty means the throwing out of employment of a large number of wheelmakers in all the States, as the duty on made-up wheels has been fixed at 25 per cent. , and any duty on wheel material means that madeup wheels would be imported.
Free hickory spokes would not interfere one iota with the present output of spokes made in the Commonwealth, which is confined exclusively to the manufacture of colonial timbers which are excellent for heavy work above 2 inches, but quite useless for all light vehicl es.
It is important to note that rough hickory spokes have always been admitted free of duty, andyet these manufacturers find they cannot compete with the finished imported article, and in place of manufacturing hickory spokes, they themselves import the finished hickory spokes.
Hoping this matter willhave your earnest consideration, and that your vote will be cast in favour of free wheel material.
I shall support the Government in their opposition to the motion.
– I intend to support the motion, because, although there may be no hope of carrying it into effect, the end of this fight has not yet come. As’ Senator Barrett has shown that the imposition of a duty upon spokes would improve the prospects of Australian workmen, I shall vote with him in the endeavour to impose such a duty.
– On the 19th May last I received the following letter from a coachbuilder in Albury, which shows the . effect of some of these duties upon the coachbuilding trade : -
I am a coachmaker, and I wish you to do all the coachmakers in Australia an everlasting favour and a blessing to the community at large by reducing the taxes on poles, shafts, spokes, and wheels. I wish you to understand that there is nothing produced in Australia that we can make a good buggy with, and in the composition of a buggy there is the finished article of fully 25 trades, and raw material to us, even to the tacks we drive. The buggy is just us necessary to the farmer as any implement he uses on the farm, and when all these articles are taxed heavy we must pass it on or use inferior material. Now the Government have 25 per cent. on parts of buggies, and I see that many people are taking advantage of it, and starting what they call wheel factories.’ Well, it is only a sham, for they get the spokes, hubs, and materials, finished from America, and put them together, and the freight is not half on the material packed to what it would be on the wheels altogether, and there are patterns of wheels, such as sawn and shell band wheels, that it would be impossible for us people in the country to put together, for it requires machinery. All patterns of wheels are made in America in four grades, and the grades vary from £1 per set up to £4 per set, and the only wheel that will wear well is the best quality, and us people under free-trade used the best wheel. But now the 25 per cent will force us to use the cheaper wheel, and I may say that so-called wheel factories only get the second-rate stuff, so if you can manage to reduce the duty on poles, shafts, spokes, hubs, and buggy wheels you will confer a blessing on thousands of working men all through Australia, and also be the means of raising a much larger revenue, for the honest tradesman would rather use the best goods if it is not put out of his reach by heavy taxes. Ten per cent. will give us a chance, and bring in a much larger revenue.
Question put. The committee divided -
Ayes … … … 6
Noes … … … 13
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to.
Item 111. - Wicker, bamboo, cane, or wood. All articles, n.e.i. . . . axe and other unattached tool handles . . . ad mtorem, 20 per cent.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 11 1 by inserting after the word “handles” the words “20 per cent., and on and after 1st August, 1902, axe and other unattached tool handles, free.”
An axe-handle is the most important tool that the pioneer in the forest can have. A good axe-handle enables a man to do twice as much work in a giventime as he could do with an inferior handle. Any one who has seen a tree-cutting competition will know what attention woodmen give to the quality of their handles. It must be the finest white hickory, with a good spring, to enable him to do good work. I hope to have the support of the representatives of the Government, because Senator O’Connor has given a very good reason why hickory spokes should be duty free. If hickory spokes for the carriage-builder are to be duty free, why should not hickory axehandles for the man in the bush be made duty free ? In the other House a similar proposition was defeated by 26 votes to 25. Before the Federal Tariff was introduced, hickory axe-handles were duty free in New South Wales, Tasmania, Western Australia, and New Zealand. It may be urged that undressed hickory is free, and that, therefore, hickory axe-handles can be made locally ; but I desire to point out that a handle cannot be made anything like so cheaply or so well in Australia as it can be made by machinery in America. The probability is that the bulk import would not yield the proper quality of hickory for a handle. The timber is very carefully selected for this purpose. I do not press for the f reeadmission of the handles for ordinary tools, but for axe-handles, hickory, and no other timber is required. I may mention that metal-bound handles are duty free.
– I cannot consent to this motion. It only shows how greedy my honorable friends opposite become, because for a very good reason I approved of the free admission of certain material. It is quite true that I was in favour of the free admission of undressed hickory spokes, and for the reason that they are the raw material of the coach-builder, and cannot be made here. The spokes are made of a wood which must be used in that kind of work. The coach-builder cannot get any other wood which will serve the same purpose, and as we have to admit the wood we may as well admit the spokes. The hickory axe-handle stands on a different footing. We are not dealing with axe-handles only, but with “axe and other unattached tool-handles.” Does any honorable senator mean to say that we cannot make the handles for the hundreds of tools that are used by our workmen?
– No handle is so good as a hickory handle.
– Why should we not make the handles for the, hundreds of tools other than axes that are used here? We have the timber for the purpose, and it seems to me perfectly clear that if we wish to give any protection to timber getters and to the timber industry a duty ought to be placed on the handles of all those tools. It is said that axe-handles stand in a different position. There is no doubt that hickory makes a very good axe-handle, but there is no reason why an axe-handle should be made of hickory. There are other timbers which we know are used for the purpose. Suppose that a hickory handle is required, is there any reason why it should not be made out of the undressed hickory, which is admitted free for that purpose? Out of undressed hickory, shafts, parts of buggies and all kinds of things can be made. What more than that is required for the making of axe-handles here ? Is there any art required in the making of an axe-handle ?
– Indeed there is.
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that there is not enough mechanical skill in Australia to make axe-handles?
– I do not say that.
– That certainly was implied. It is really too absurd a statement to require much refutation. I hope that this duty will remain as it is. Quite enough concession has been made in allowing undressed hickory to come in free, and there is no necessity to admit handles for tools of any kind without payment of a duty.
– Iam quite willing to limit my suggestion to axe-handles.
– I object to the suggestion.
Question put. The committee divided -
Ayes … … ..: 10
Noes … … … 7
Majority … … 3
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Item 112 (Fancy goods) and 113 (Jewellery) agreed to.
Division XI. - Jewellery andfancy goods.
Item . 114. - Jewellery and imitation jewellery . . advalorem, 25 per cent.
Special Exemptions. . . . Jewellery, via, : - Cameos and pre cious stones, unset.
-I move -
That the House Representatives be requested to amend item L . 14 by adding the words “ and on after 1st August, 1002,20 percent.”
I may be to blame for not proposing the reduction of the duty to 15 percent. Most of the articles included in this item are made of the precious metals, and the cost of the labour involved in their manufacture is small compared with the value of the finished product. In some cases it is so small that a duty of 25 per cent. would be absolutely prohibitive of importations. I have been furnished with a statement signed by 20 or 30 of the leading dealers in jewellery in Sydney. The signatories include Messrs. S. Hoffnung and Co., William Farmer and Co., the Goldsmiths and Silversmiths’ . Alliance, Messrs. ‘Stewart, Dawson, and Co., and many others. The statement reads as follows : -
In15-carat alberts labour constitutes under 4 per cent. of the value of the finished article, in 9-carat alberts about 6 per cent., in 15-carat chain bangles about 8 per cent., in 9-carat chain bangles about 11 per cent., in 15-carat links about 10 per cent., and in 9-carat links about 17 per cent. In wedding rings, keeper rings, and signet rings, the proportion of labour is from 4 per cent. to 10 per cent., and in jewellery such as brooches, bangles, muff chains, &c, the proportion may be put down as averaging from 7½ to 20 per cent. A duty of 25 , per cent., or really 27½ per cent., means, therefore, as shown by enclosed statements, a tax mainly on bullion and a protection to labour of from 135 per cent. to 650 per cent., in addition to the protection afforded by natural circumstances. The value of the raw material used by jewellers thus puts their manufactured goods on a different footing to almost every other article.
It must be obvious to honorable senators that if the 25 per cent. duty is retained the revenue will be very largely reduced owing to the falling-off in importations. In Victoria, in 1900, the importations of jewellery were valued at £47,000, and the duty of 20 per cent realized £9,400. In New South Wales, in the same year, jewellery valued at £195,000 was imported. The importations into New South Wales will no doubt be reduced, approximately, to those of
Victoria, because the same causes will now operate in both cases. Therefore, if the Government desire to derive a substantial amount of revenue they should consent to the proposed reduction.
– I contend that the revenue will not be seriously affected by the retention of the duty at . 25 per cent. In 1900, Queensland imported 877 packages of jewellery from Germany, France, the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada, of a value of £34,086. The revenue derived from a 25 per cent. duty amounted to £7,447 14s. 7d., plus £1198s. collected on local productions. If Senator Pulsford is correct in his deduction, why was it that Queensland imported such a large amount of jewellery, notwithstanding the 25 per cent. duty? I felt sure that the duty would not be allowed to pass without question by the free-traders, who profess to be so anxious to study the interests of the working classes. They have acted throughout the discussion of the Tariff in the interests of those who would be very well able to pay anyduty that wemay impose. Senator Pulsford shouldhave told us what particular persons will be placed at a disadvantage by the imposition of a high rate of duty. The importers of jewellery generally may be inconvenienced by the operation of the proposed duty, but will the waggoner from out back, the shearer, rouseabout, boundaryrider, or pioneer prospector suffer any disadvantage? Certainly not ! I think that Senator Pulsford and his colleagues have established a record for the free-trade party which it will take years to obliterate. Not satisfied with attacking the duties upon cigars, high-class hats, Parisian bonnets, and the various table delicacies, they now desire to deal with jewellery and smellingsalts, because, under this item, I find “smelling and pocket perfume bottles.” Let Senator Pulsford “dig up” one man who travels around with a bottle containing smelling salts, and who would be disadvantaged by the operation of a 25 per cent. duty. The mere mention of this matter ought to be sufficient to induce the committee to reject the motion. If Senator Pulsford had eyes for anything but freetrade statistics he would know that there are a number of very estimable citizens in the various States who are working jewellers. In this connexion, I might instance Mr. Brown and his staff, of Brisbane; The people who desire jewellery for the purpose of adornment can get all they require made within the Commonwealth at a’ reasonable price. I do not think it necessary to speak at length, because I am satisfied that Senator Pulsford is almost alone in the attitude which he has taken up. The Tariff battle, from the free-trade stand-point, has just about petered out.
Senator PULSFORD ‘(New South Wales). - I presume that Senator Higgs knows very well that he has been talking pure and unmitigated nonsense. He has made no attempt to reply to my arguments. If he will propose an excise duty upon jewellery, in order that those Who wear it for-the purposes of adornment shall really be made to pay, I shall be found supporting him. He has confined his remarks to an insignificant line under this item, namely, smelling and perfume bottles. He has not attempted to reply to my statement that the labour involved in the manufacture of golden ornaments is extremely paltry. Relatively, the proposed duty in some cases is equivalent to ‘500 per cent. Under such -circumstances, it must be evident that there can be no importation of these special articles. I did not read the whole of the letter which I have received from the wholesale jewellers of Sydney, but I wish to direct special attention to the following paragraph : - lt is a fallacy to suppose that a d uty of 27 A per cent, on jewellery is a tax on the wealthy. The value of the jewellery of the wealthy consists chiefly in the gems, such as diamonds, rubies, and sapphires, which, when imported, -are brought in separately and unmounted, and are consequently free from duty.
Senator Higgs has worked up a little bit of ‘ brammagem “indignation in connexion with this matter, and has designedly ignored the fact that precious stones unset are exempt from duty. The letter continues -
The nature of the goods renders it practically impossible to impose a duty upon gems as the portability of the articles would be a strong incentive to the unscrupulous to smuggle,” and the honest trader would have no opportunity of dealing in the articles. The heavy duty on jewellery other than gem jewellery, precludes any articles but those of the cheapest kind being imported, and. the revenue would therefore be almost, solely upon cheap nine-carat articles, which are purchased by the poorer section of the community. With a duty of 25 per cent., there will be an immediate and permanent shrinkage in the importation of jewellery, whereas if the rate be reduced to 15 per cent, importers will still be able to live, ample protection will be provided, and the revenue that is anticipated from jewellery importations will be actually produced. -10 r 2
The only reason why I suggest a reduction of the proposed duty is that the value of the articles enumerated in this item is contained almost wholly in the precious metals used. Twenty-five per cent, taken on the entire value of the precious metal and the labour together is equal to hundreds per cent, on the mere labour, and consequently is prohibitive of the importation .of specially valuable articles. Surely that. is. clear enough, even to Senator Higgs.
– I am glad Senator Pulsford has asked us to dis- cuss this item from a sensible point of view, . because that is the point of view from which I shall endeavour to discuss it. The criticism by Senator Higgs is quite justifiable, because all the articles of which that gentleman spoke are included in the item. Senator Pulsford spoke about precious stones being placed on the free list, and I shall give him an opportunity of expressing his indignation in this connexion. I agree that precious stones should be dutiableThere is any quantity of opal in Queensland,, and the stone is taken to England or the! Continent to be cut while there are men here who can do and have done the work. The stone is brought back in the finished state, and comes into competition with Australian industry. Senator Pulsford made a great deal of what the importers say and want. I do not quarrel with Senator Pulsford for moving in the interests of the importers, but he ought not to forget that, there must be some thousands of highlyskilled workmen engaged in this industry throughout the Commonwealth, and that if this duty be lowered they will lose their employment. If Senator Pulsford had his way, all jewellery would be imported simply in the interests of the dealers ; and in this . connexion Victoria affords an object-lesson. In that State there are 529 persons engaged in the making of watches, jewellery, and in electro-plating, and the question remains - What are these persons to do if the duty be removed 1 I suppose that all round there must be 2,000 or 3,000 persons engaged in this industry within theCommonwealth, and these are all to be sacrificed at the shrine of the importers.
– There is a high protection on their labour.
– I regard jewellery as a luxury for which people should be prepared -to pay.
– Make them do so by imposing an excise duty.
– No ; I shall vote for a duty of 25 per cent. I should be prepared to vote for a duty of 30 per cent. or. 40 per cent., but I know there is no chance of either myself or Senator Higgs carrying such a proposal. Jewellery is just as much a luxury as, for instance, pianos, which pay 15 per cent, ad valorem, and a further duty of £12. According to clause 434’ of the United States Tariff, jewellery, including precious stones, in parts or whole, finished or unfinished,” pays a duty of 60 per cent, ad valorem, and in Canada, all articles of manufacture in gold Or silver pay 30 per cent. According to the Tariff as it stands, precious stones are admitted free. Importers bring in rings, for instance, at a low duty, and the precious stones free in separate parcels, and make enormous profits in consequence of “the greatly enhanced value of the stones when set in the rings. I want to see an end put to that kind of thing. There ought to be a fair duty, so that workmen, who in many cases have had to pay high premiums in order to learn their trade, may not be driven out of Australia through the want of some protection. Under the circumstances, working jewellers have a right to substantial protection, and I do not think that 25 per cent, is too high. Whatever duty be fixed, I intend later on ;to move that the same impost be placed on precious stones.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - The least one might expect from a senator who is anxious to lecture other people is that he should read the item under discussion, and that when he quotes from statistics he should read the whole and not merely part of them. Half a truth is the worst kind of lie, and while I do not accuse Senator Neild of telling a lie, I accuse him of presenting to the committee only half the statistics which he should have quoted. He told us that the importation of jewellery into Queensland during the six months ending 31st March last was valued at only £S ; a statement which rather staggered me, since I knew that over £4,000 was collected from duties on jewellery in 1900. Upon investigation, I found, however, that the duty is imposed upon both jewellery and imitation jewellery, and that most of the jewellery imported is imitation jewellery. The estimated receipts rom this duty for a normal vear amount to £29,500.
– What are the actual receipts ?
– £39,206 are the actual receipts for six months. The actual receipts are in every case larger than the estimated receipts.
– The free-trade party is taking the same attitude in regard to brummagem jewellery iis it took in regard to brummagem cotton tweeds. Senator Pulsford wishes to reduce the duty upon imitation jewellery and small articles of adornment by 5 per cent. Surely a duty of 25 per cent upon jewel cases is not a very serious matter to those who have jewels to put into such cases. I think that before the Tariff is finished with, Senator Pulsford will have only four or five fanatical freetraders supporting him, because the majority of his party will have regard to the electoral consequences of these reductions.
– £17,000 worth of imitation jewellery was imported into New South Wales within six months.
– Like Senator Neild - who might very well be described as a Bobby Dazzker - the mission of such jewellery is to dazzle the eyes of the public In
New South Wales there are eight factories employing 101 adult persons, who are earning an existence in spite of the free-trade fads of politicians, past and present. I take it. that, whereas prior to the establishment of the Commonwealth they were earning probably 25s. or 30s. per week, and had to live in poor homes, they will be able, if we fix this duty at 25 per cent., to earn a very fair living, and their employers will also be able to live respectably instead of from hand to mouth, as undoubtedly they had to do in the past. The free-trade party can no longer claim that they are championing the interests of the great masses of taxpayers, because where they have attempted to reduce the duty on one item of food-stuffs they have attacked the duty on a dozen articles which cannot be considered necessities. A smelling-salts bottle is hardly a necessity. When I was working on the composing staff of the Sydney Morning Herald and got sleepy at night-time, I did not use a smellingsalts bottle, but I took a pinch of snuff, which I can assure honorable senators is as efficacious as anything that can be got to keep one awake.
– I do not know any article on which it is fairer to charge a duty of 25 per cent, than jewellery. We have put a duty of 25 per cent, on other articles - for instance, on manufactures of iron, n.e.i., hats and other articles, which I cannot recollect at present, but which, no doubt, honorable senators will easily remember. If that rate of duty is to be put on any article, why should it not be put on jewellery ? Senator Pulsford has told us that it is wrong, because the proper principle on which to estimate the duty is the value of the labour employed in the manufacture of the article. I deny that altogether. We are dealing with this item from the revenue, and not from the protectionist, point of view. In a revenue item, the amount of taxation is limited only by that point at which the introduction of the article is possible. We may get to such a point that the article is not introduced at all, and then of course the duty is too high, but short of that jewellery is admitted in almost every country to be an article on which the highest possible rate of duty can be charged, consistently with getting any revenue. Senator’ Pulsford has said that the duty will fall very largely on the* poorer classes. Whenever my friends opposite desire to get a low duty they say that the higher duty falls upon the poorer classes. How do they prove that statement? Senator Pulsford does not know anything about the subject himself, but he reads the letters of some persons whom he calls here as impartial witnesses. Who ane they ? S. Hoffnung and Co., Stewart Dawson and Co., and other firms, who are large importers of jewellery as well as wholesale jewellers. A certain proportion of their jewellery may be made in New South Wales, but the great bulk of it is imported, and, of course, every interest of theirs points to the conclusion that the duty ought, to be as low as possible. I place very little reliance on the statements - made in perfectly good faith, I have no doubt - coming from such a quarter. Apart from reading these letters, has the honorable senator thrown any light upon the question of who pays the duty ? He has not. It is within the knowledge of everybody that the great bulk of the revenue derived from this duty will come from those high-priced articles which cannot be made here. As the bullion and the stones are admitted free, it is quite possible in Australia to produce a fairly cheap article of jewellery. If any one wants jewellery at a low price he can get an Australian-made article, but if he wants imported jewellery, why should he not pay a duty on it’ On what principle can it be said that we should make it cheaper for persons to get imported jewellery than to get Australianmade jewellery? It must be evident to any one who thinks about the matter at all, that the great bulk of the revenue from this duty must come from the high-class jewellery, and if a person does not care to put up with jewellery which is made here, he will have to pay for his extravagant taste. Senator Pulsford has said that we do not collect any revenue when we have a high duty of this kind. The statistics absolutely disprove “that statement. Senator Neild would not have fallen into the error into which he did, if he had followed the schedule while he was quoting the statistics. Anyone who had looked at the figures carefully for a minute would not have been misled by them. It is absurd on the face of it to suppose that the total quantity of jewellery imported into Queenslaud in six months yielded a revenue of £S. Item 113 in the Tariff is headed “Jewellery, viz., chain, ite.,” while item 114 is headed “Jewellery and imitation jewellery.” In the return of the six months’ collection from which the honorable senator quoted, item 114, instead of being, described as “ jewellery and imitation “ is described as “jewellery (imitation of).” The figures quoted by the honorable senator were, under item 113. Under the next heading - Jewellery (imitation of) - which is item 114, as Senator Higgs pointed, out, there is a very much larger revenue collected. The figures which I laid on the table a few days ago show that, notwithstanding this duty of- 25 per cent., in the eight months from October, 1901, to 19th May, 1902, there was collected under item 114, £2 ,S33 in New South Wales, £11,570. in Victoria £5,641 in Queensland, £5,687 in South Australia, £3,452 in Western Australia, and £1,041 in Tasmania, making a total of £50,224. Yet it is said that a 25 per cent, duty will not yield any revenue. The great bulk of the revenue, I repeat, must come from the high-priced jewellery, which will be imported whether a duty is imposed or not. But even supposing that some of the revenue comes from imitation jewellery, if it is made up at such a rate that it cannot be competed with here, why should it not be subject to a duty, too? I cannot understand why honorable senators opposite make such a fight over an item of this kind, when their proposal will mean a loss to the revenue, and when the only persons benefited will be those who buy jewellery. If there is any class of persons who ought to pay taxation, surely it is those who buy articles of that kind ? . Let me compare that with the collections of 1899. In that year the duty levied in Victoria was 20 per cent. ; in Queensland, 25 per cent.; in Tasmania, 20 per cent. ; in South Australia., 25 per cent.; and in Western Australia, 20 per cent. Upon some of the articles the duties were lower, but the greater number of them were subject to the rates I have mentioned. In New South Wales jewellery was. free. The total amount of duty collected was £21,027. The amount collected for six months under the Tariff was £39,206. If a fair allowance were made for the revenue that would have been derived from a duty upon jewellery in New South Wales in 1899, the total collections would not have exceeded £35,000, whereas in six months the present duty has yielded nearly £40,000. That amount includes the smaller item which Senator Neild quoted, as well as that which we are now discussing, and honorable senators, by deducting one from the other, can arrive at the exact amount of duty collected under each head. The revenue actually derived proves conclusively that jewellery will be imported in large quantities whatever duty may be levied. From the point of view of revenue, therefore, we cannot afford to reduce the duty, and the representatives of Tasmania and Queensland should not be misled by the arguments used by honorable senators on the other side. Something has been said with regard to unset precious stones, which are placed upon the free list. 1 quite agree with Senator Neild that the real burden of a duty upon these articles would fall upon honest traders, and that the greater quantity of unset jewels - of which one man could carry hundreds of pounds worth in his waistcoat pocket - would escape payment of duty altogether. That has been the experience all over the world, and that is the reason why cameos and precious stones are placed upon the free list.
– The “Vice-President of the Executive Council has presented a very plausible case, as he always does ; but he rather presumes upon our credulity when he places a special interpretation upon the statements which have been laid before us by the Government. In dealing with the actual receipts, the honorable senator said that the heading, “ jewellery,” referred to some previous item, and that the words referring to imitations of jewellery had been improperly inserted.
– I was referring to> the figures used by Senator Neild, and not to those I quoted.
– The honorable senator asked us to believe that the words, “ imitation jewellery,” did not mean what they would ordinarily convey, but I do not see the least reason why we should indorse his version. What is intended to be conveyed is perfectly clear, and the application of the description to item 114 is evident. As a matter of fact, the numbers which are given in the Government returns, and those which appeal1 in the schedule attached to the Bill, do not agree, and we are left to find out for ourselves the items referred to. Under the heading of “jewellery,” the receipts for six months are given as £711. The amount obviously represents the revenue derived for six months from articles of jewellery consisting of real gold set with real precious stones. The revenue derived from imitation jewellery for six months amounted to £39,494. The intention undoubtedly was that these two items should be treated together, and the actual results f fully justify the motion now before us. Articles of imitation jewellery are worn by the very poorest women in the community, by whom they are considered articles of absolute necessity in order that they may attain their wish to make themselves attractive to the sterner sex
– God help the rich !
– The honorable senator says,. “ God help the poor !”
– No ; I said, “ God, help the rich !” ; the poor can beg.
– And the honorable senator is apparently content that they should beg. Senator O’Connor has stated that these articles must be imported, and that, therefore, we should impose upon them the highest possible rate of duty, but we are anxious to reduce imposts which will bear most oppressively on the poorer classes. Senator Barrett has told us that if he had his way he would impose duties of 40 or 50 per cent, upon hat-pins and other similar articles, and in view of the attitude assumed by that honorable senator and other members of the labour party, it is not surprising that women should have been anxious to secure the franchise, in order that they might be able to look after their own’ interests in matters of this kind. In speaking just now, Senator O’Connor declared that the great bulk of the revenue collected upon jewellery is derived from the high-priced articles which are imported. I hold that it is not from this class of goods that the revenue is obtained, but from the cheap imitation jewellery. There is no market in these States for high-class jewellery. The bulk of the articles to be found in any ordinary jeweller’s shop consists of what is called “ rolled gold,” which is a very thin coating of gold upon copper. This cannot be made within the Commonwealth. Then hollow gold bangles cannot be made within the Commonwealth, and must be imported. Their cheapness arises from- the fact that they consist of a skin of gold. Senator O’Connor astonished me just now by declaring that cameos had been exempted from duty because they could be imported in quantities in any person’s waistcoat pocket.
– I said it was only the honest trader who would pay the duty upon precious stones, because a dishonest trader might carry thousands of pounds’ worth in his pocket. . .
- Senator O’Connor also included cameos, and it is an absolute fiction to urge that they could be imported in that way. I quite agree with Senator Barrett that it is absurd to place previous stones upon the free list, and at the same time to tax the articles of jewellery of the poor to the extent of 25 per cent. Another point to which I desire to call attention is that whilst precious stones, unset, are exempt from duty, imitation pearls and imitation precious stones are required to pay 25 per cent. That is an absolute anomaly. I am speaking of unset stones in both cases. Should Senator Barrett’s motion be unsuccessful, I intend to move that imitation pearls and precious stones, unset, be placed upon the free list. If these articles, are admitted free, a certain amount of employment will be provided for our jewellers in setting them.
-Senator Matheson must have had an immense experience in connexion with brummagem jewellery.I was always under the impression that experience of such jewellery was limited to single young men, who make a practice of purchasing it for the purpose of presenting it to young ladies into whose good graces they wish to get. A great deal has been said regarding the value of the figures quoted by Senators O’Connor and Higgs. To me, however, it does not matter whether the duty is collected upon real or sham jewellery. Those who can afford to purchase either ought to pay for it. But I chiefly rose for the purpose of dealing with certain statements made by Senator Pulsford. He quoted a number of firms in Sydney who declare that a 15 per cent. duty upon jewellery is quite sufficient. But can Senator Pulsford name one manufacturing jewellery establishment in Sydney? Is Hoffnung’s such an establishment 1 Certainly not. I was not previously aware that a couple of members of this Chamber, in the persons of Senators Stewart and Dawson, had a manufacturing jeweller’s establishment in Sydney. I did not know that they were as enterprising as are Senators Higgs and Pulsford in the undertaking business. Does Senator Pulsford affirm that Messrs. Stewart and Dawson are manufacturing jewellers 1 I hold that they are not. They merely repair jewellery. Manufacturing jewellers’ establishments are not to be found in Sydney to the same extent as they are in Melbourne.
– How does the honorable senator know that ?
– Because I ask jewellers for information. If I wanted to know anything about engineering, I should probably consult Senator Charleston, though I should not believe what he says, because he is not in accord with the members of his own trade.
– Will the honorable senator address the Chair?
– I beg your pardon, sir, I was addressing you.
– I do not want the honorable senator to enter into any argument.
– I am entering into an argument with you, because I cannot do so with anybody else.
– I must ask the honorable senator to be good enough to continue his remarks.
– If you will refrain from interrupting me-
– The honorable senator has no right to dictate to me as to how I should do my duty. He was out of order when I interrupted him, and I therefore ask him to resume his remarks upon the item.
– I was not out of order, because I was distinctly referring to the information which I have obtained in regard to jewellery.
– The honorable senator will be good enough to continue his remarks upon jewellery. He has no right to comment upon my decisions. He has the right of appeal if he so desires, but he has no right of comment.
– I must refer to the manner in whichI was pulled up, and to what I was saying.
– The honorable senator must not.
– I was addressing the Chairman to this effect-
– Will the honorable senator be good enough to obey the ruling of the Chair ?
– Yes, sir. .
– Then he will proceed with his remarks upon the item under discussion.
– I was remarking
– The honorable senator must not do that.
– May I remark that when I was asked where I obtained my information in regard to jewellery, I stated that I secured it from jewellers, and that if I desired to gain a knowledge of engineering, I should probably go , to an engineer. I
– The honorable senator is commenting on my decision.
– No ; I am repeating what I have to say in connexion with the argument.
– If the honorable senator gives me that assurance, I shall accept it.
– I said, and I say still, that if I want information, in a parallel sense, about engineering I go to an engineer, just as I go toa bootmaker if I want information on bootmaking. The information I get from working jewellers is that there is no manufacturing establishment worth speaking of in Sydney - that neither Hoffnung nor Stewart and Dawson manufacture, but only do repairs and import toa large extent. When honorable senators attempt, by evidence of the kind we have heard, to lead both the Senate and the public to believe that they have the authority of manufacturing, jewellers in their efforts to reduce the duty, we have a right to refer to their action. I hope the Senate will not be misled, but that honorable senators, now that the discussion has gone so far, will show their appreciation of’ the position by voting against Senator Pulsford’s mo’tion.
Senator BARRETT (Victoria).- ‘r- remarks in the earlier part of the discussion were not made on my own authority, but on the authority of persons who are engaged in this industry, and whose opinions are entitled to respect. Senator Neild made a vicious onslaught on me in regard to the Victorian Tariff, under which, he said, the working jewellers were thoroughly satisfied with their prospects.
-Col. Neild. - I never said so.
– That is the inference which I drew from what. Senator’ Neild said. But the working jewellers of Melbourne have been under serious disabilities in the past. Time and again they made their grievances known, but were not able to get any remedy from the State Government. The Working Jewellers’ Society of Victoria have sent to me an extract from a report in the Melbourne Herald of a deputation of the society to the State Commissioner of Customs. I had that document in my possession when I previously spoke, but did not desire to take up the time of the committee by reading it. Senator Neild, however, is so “ cocksure “ that I think the operatives ought to be allowed to speak for themselves. I know I shocked the sensibilities of Senator Matheson when I said I should like the committee to adopt either the American or Canadian duty ; but, for his information, I now read the report of the deputation to the Victorian Commissioner of Customs, the late Mr. Langridge. : -
A deputation from the Working Jewellers’ Society waited on the Commissioner of Customs this morning with reference to the duty on imported bangles and brooches, and other articles of jewellery. Mr. H. Jennings, president of the society, presented a petition signed by 225 jewellers, that being nearly the whole number employed in Melbourne, in which it was pointed out that both the trade and the revenue suffered largely through the manner in which these articles, which were really finished products, were imported under the present Tariff. Rings of gold pay 4s. per dwt. duty, while bangles and brooches and other articles only pay 20 per cent. Samples were shown of bangles and brooches as they are imported ready for the insertion of the stones, the labour employed in the colony being very small. On the other hand, samples of colonial workmanship were shown, and it was claimed that as good and artistic work could be turned out in the colony as in Europe, where, however, the wages were only about a fifth of those paid in Victoria. Gold, the deputation urged, was one of our raw products ; and it was very hard to see it exported to Europe, and brought back again in a manufactured condition, when there were plenty of thoroughly capable workmen in the colony available. Mr. Landridge, in reply, said that he thought the contentions of the deputation were perfectly fair, and he would consult the Crown law authorities, with a view of knowing whether or no the bangles and brooches could be charged the higher duty under the present Tariff. As he feared this could not be done, he would bring the matter under the notice of his colleagues, and endeavour to have the law rectified by Parliament. The deputation thanked the Minister for his favorable reply, and, at the same time, they desired to thank both him and the secretary of the department, Mr. Musgrave, most heartily for the zeal and courtesy they had displayed recently when the society had made a complaint about the manner in which jewellery stampings were being imported.
The fact that the wages in Europe were only about a fifth of those paid in Victoria, may be taken as a set-off against what Senator Neild has described -as an enormous prohibitive duty.
– When was that deputation ?
– In 1891 ; but the grievances to-day are the same that they were then. I have been accused of not knowing the position of the trade in Victoria, but I have further information obtained by means of inquiry amongst the workmen themselves. I do not stand in this Chamber and make fancy statements with regard to the industries of the Com- mon wealth.
– Give us something up-to-date.
– This document was sent to me by the Working Jewellers’ Society as recently as the5th of J une last. Before honorable senators blindly vote on this question they ought to exhaust all sources of information : and I am prepared to accompany Senator Matheson to the offices of the Working J ewellers’ Society, at 187 Little Collins-street, or to any manufacturer in Melbourne, and to prove the statements which I here make. It will be observed that a responsible Minister of the Crown deemed the contention of the deputation perfectly fair. The duty was not high enough under the old conditions, and I think I have given justification for my readiness to support the duty at present imposed in either America or Canada.
Senator BARRETT (Victoria). - I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend: the special exemptions to item 114, by omitting, on and after 1st August, . 1902; the words,” Jewellery, viz. : - cameos and precious stones, unset.”
I submit this motion in the belief that it is in the interest of the working jewellers, though I acknowledge that there is a difficulty in the matter. Senator O’Connor has said that if the duty I propose be imposed it will handicap the honest importer, seeing that precious stones can be so easily secreted. But that argument can be applied to a very large number of other dutiable articles of jewellery. A man may bring in half-a-dozen diamond rings sewn in some portion of his clothing,, or smuggle in a packet of precious stones, worth many thousands of pounds. But if the Customs authorities are on the alert and inflict heavy fines on two or three culprits, dishonesty of that character will soon be stopped. The Working Jewellers’ Society say -
We do not think a duty on stones would injure the trade. We are certain it would improve the opal-cutting. Some time ago, when opals became fashionable, one firm had a dozen hands; now they have two. Another place that kept two going dispensed with them. The opal is sent away to foreign, countries, and brought back again cut, at a price that would mean starvation to the few that remain. We should like to see a duty on opals coming in, or an export duty on the roughopal.
I think that the matter is fairly arguable. Precious stones ought not to be imported, unless those who bring them in pay somethink to the revenue.Under the Tariff as it stands, rings are brought in unset, and the stones are imported separately, free of duty, and put in here.
– It is everywhere being found, as a matter of practical experience, that it is impossible to protect the honest from the dishonest trader where the article upon which a duty is imposed is of exceedingly small bulk but of great value, and, that being so, it seems better to make no attempt to obtain revenue from the importation of such articles.
– Cameos might be subject to a. duty.
– It is true that there are both large and small cameos, but cameos could be smuggled with great ease.
– Could not jewellers be compelled to account for the gems in their possession-.
– Perhaps that might be done, but, from the nature of these articles, it would be difficult to discover frauds upon the Customs in connexion with them.
– They manage to do so in South Africa.
Senator MATHESON (Western Australia). - Senator O’Connor seems to think that these articles would be smuggled by dishonest jewellers, whereas they would be smuggled by travellers, who could get no profit by smuggling them, except by selling them to the jewellers, and the jewellers would, for their own protection, naturally find out whether the duty had been paid upon them before they bought them. It is absurd to put cameos upon the free list on the ground that it is impossible to prevent them from being smuggled, though they might be admitted free in the interests of those whose business it is to set them.
In any case, however, there is not a large trade in cameos, and a person importing them would find it as difficult to dispose of them as to dispose of gems. I shall support the motion.
Senator McGREGOR. (South Australia). - I shall support the motion, because I see no more difficulty in preventing the smuggling of gems than in preventing the smuggling of diamond rings and other small articles of jewellery. When a man buys a horse, he obtains with it a description of its brands, and jewels might be identified in the same way.If only licensed jewellers were allowed to purchase precious stones, I do not think there would be any difficulty in collecting a duty upon such articles.
Question put. The committee divided -
Ayes … … … 12
Noes … … … 10
Majority … … 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Item 115. - Watches, clocks, and chronometers, n.e.i…… cameras, and magic lanterns, including accessories, ad valorem 20 per cent. Special. Exemptions.
Ship’s compasses, pocket compasses, except when mounted in gold and silver …. microscopes, telescopes, spectacles, except gold, silver, or plated ….
– I move -
That the House ofRepresentati ves be requested to amend item 115, by inserting after “cameras” the words “20 per cent., and on and after 1st August, 1902, free.”
There is, perhaps, no occupation or calling which is so heavily taxed as is that of the photographer. Every article which he uses is dutiable under some item in the schedule, and yet photographs are admitted free.
Only a comparatively few wooden cameras are used in the Commonwealth, and none, I believe, are made in these States. They have to be very carefully made, because the smallest possible crack will render them useless. The mahogany of which they are made must be very highly seasoned to prevent the possibility of any kind of opening, and the number required is not sufficiently great to induce cabinet-makers here to take up the manufacture of them. The timber out of which they would have to be made would be subject to a duty. Under the circumstances they are not likely to be made here. They have not been made here in the past. This is a concession to a trade which might very reasonably be made-.
– I object to this suggestion. I see ‘no reason why these articles should not pay duty just in the same way that other articles in the list have to pay duty. A number of persons who are engaged in other trades have to pay duty on the appliances they use, and I do not see why photographers should be put on a more favorable footing than are other persons. As a matter of revenue I think that the duty is quite reasonable.
– I entirely disagree with the proposition of Senator Neild. I am sure that if everybody in the Commonwealth, were photographed as often as he is, and in as many postures, there would be work for any number of cabinet-makers. It is entirely incorrect for the honorable senator to say that cameras are not made in the Common wealth, because I know a gentleman in the district which he used to represent, who makes his living by manufacturing cameras. I can give the address of the person, and mention where the honorable senator can find some of the cameras which he has manufactured.
– There is an aspect of this question which probably Senator Neild has not considered. If he takes the trouble to inquire he will find out that the importation of cameras and all kinds of photographic material comes principally from one firm. Why should not the American firm who, I am told on very good authority, have practically a monopoly of the Australian market, pay a fair contribution to the revenue of the Commonwealth? It is an immensely wealthy firm, and its head is many times a millionaire. These are the individuals whose interests the honorable senator is so anxious to serve. If they have a monopoly of this market the price is in their own hands. I submit that they will pay the duty ultimately, because if they find that the public will not buy their cameras at the increased price necessitated by the imposition of this duty they will quickly reduce it.
– I have been requested by the secretary of a photographers’ society, numbering 112 active members, to ask that the duty on some articles in this list might be removed. Although I am not prepared to support the whole of their request, I think that some of the articles to which they refer might be fairly transferred to the list of special exemptions. Cameras, I think, might be placed on the free list. There are other articles, however, even more expensive and more important than are cameras. I am convinced that by the imposition of a duty we shall do a very serious injury to what might be fairly termed an educational agency. We- ought to do all we possibly can to encourage young men and young women to use their cameras, and so promote an educational work. I shall support the motion of Senator Neild if a division is taken, but at the same time I am more anxious to have lenses placed on the free list. .
Senator Lt.-Col. NEILD (New South Wales). - It seems that if a proposal for the reduction of a duty is made from this side in the interests of any person it is at once made a ground for a personal insult and deliberate misrepresentation by some honorable senator on the other side. When Senator O’Keefe, who is usually courteous, said that I was moving in this matter on behalf of a Yankee millionaire, he- made a statement which has not the remotest foundation in fact, and which should not have been made without knowledge. No one would be more angry than would the honorable senator to ‘be unjustly and unwarrantably accused of any dishonorable action, and he has no business to take an advantage of others that he would not tolerate in the case of himself. In a letter from a working photographer, I find this statement -
The larger-sized cameras, such as studio cameras, cannot be made satisfactorily in the
Commonwealth, and professional photographers are forced to import. There being only a limited demand for these cameras, cabinet-makers do not cater for the work, as it has to be so finely done, and cannot be done without machinery, and, further, the timber, the best mahogany, requires to be imported.
That is the statement of a professional photographer, and it was through his representations that I brought the matter before the committee. The motion, I find, is not’ quite accurately worded. I do not wish to free all cameras from duty, but only the large-sized cameras which are used in professional studios. And if you, sir, will kindly substitute “ studio cameras “ for “cameras,” it will correctly describe what I desire to accomplish.- I have no wish to exempt hand cameras, which are in such general use, and which, being apparently a luxury in the large majority of cases, may properly pay a duty.
– The alteration does not make any difference to my objection.
The ACTING. CHAIRMAN (Senator Dobson.) - I think that the proper course for me to pursue ‘is to put the motion as it is, and if it is carried the honorable senator can move that the word “ studio “ be inserted before the word “ cameras.”
Motion (by Senator Glassey) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the special exemption to item 1.15, “Ship’s compasses, pocket compasses, except when mounted in gold or silver,” by inserting on and after 1st August, 1902, the words, “ bushmen”’* and surveyors’ compasses, prismatic compasses, surveyors’ compasses, military compasses, Abney’s levels and clinometers, and magnifying glasses,” after the words “pocket compasses.”
– Magnifying glasses are already’ admitted duty free, as “lenses, n.e.i.,” which are exempted under item 91. Miners’ and bushmen’ compasses come under the description of pocket com- ‘ passes. There may be some question as to whether surveyors’ compasses would be exempted under the provision as it now stands, and I shall be quite prepared to have it made clear that they are included, if the honorable senator will restrict his motion to that class of article.
– Those who are engaged in the trade say that it is necessary to have these articles specifically mentioned in order to secure their exemption from duty, but on the understanding that they will not bc regarded by the Customs authorities as dutiable, I am prepared to adopt the suggestion of the Vice-President of the Executive Council.
Motion amended accordingly and agreed to.
Senator Lt.-Col. NEILD (New South Wales). - I desire to amend the exemption relating to spectacles by omitting the qualification, “ except gold, silver, or plated.” Prior to the imposition of the Federal Tariff all spectacles were admitted free of duty into most of the States. As, unfortunately, a very large number of our people of all classes find it necessary to use spectacles, the duty might be remitted, even though the frames are made of gold or silver, or are gold or silver plated. If I cannot induce honorable senators to go with me to the full extent, I shall propose to so amend the exemption as to make it clear that only gold or silver or gold-plated or silver-plated spectacles shall be subject to duty. At present, spectacleframes, if made of nickel, are admitted free of duty, but if constructed of steel and nickel-plated, they are subject to a duty of 20 per cent, That is ridiculous. In the first place, I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the special exemption to item 115, ‘ Microscopes, telescopes, spectacles, except gold, silver, or plated,” by omitting the words, “ gold, silver.”
I would point out that a majority of the designs in spectacle and eye-glass frames are patented, and cannot be made here. This affords another reason why they should be placed upon the free list as has been done in the case of many patented articles.
– I am willing that it should be made quite clear that only gold or silver, or gold-plated or silver-plated spectacles arc subject to duty, because that was the intention when the Tariff was framed. Spectacles, pure and simple, in ordinary frames, are admitted free because they are recognised as necessities ; but gold and silver, or gold or silver-plated, spectacles are luxuries; and therefore they should be subject to the duty levied upon jewellery.
Senator CHARLESTON (South Australia). - Do I understand that spectacles are to he subject to duty, whereas frames, without glasses, are to be admitted free f
– No, spectacle frames will be subject to duty as jewellery if they are of gold or silver, or are plated with gold or silver.
– Then the Government will not -be carrying out their policy of affording protection to local industry. A considerable number of men are employed within the Commonwealth in preparing glasses for spectacles, and if the Government wish to assist this industry they should admit the spectacle frames free of duty.
– Cannot the frames be made here 1
– No doubt anything can be made here, but the question is one of expense. This is a matter to which opticians attach a great deal of importance, and I hope that the Government will consent to the exemption of spectacle frames.
Motion (by Senator Lt.-Col. Neild) agreed to– !
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the special exemptions to item 1 13, “Microscopes, telescopes, spectacles, except gold, silver, or plated,” by inserting after the void “or” the words, “ gold-plated or silver.”
Motion (by Senator 0’CONNOR) proponed -
That Mie Senate do now adjourn.
– Before that motion is put, I wish to raise a question’ of privilege.
– It must have suddenly arisen.
– It has reference to the Hansard reports. ‘
– The honorable senator cannot discuss that question now. If he wishes to raise a question of privilege in reference to the Hansard reports, he can do so before the business of the day is called on to-morrow, but he cannot do so then, unless the matter to which he desires to refer is of recent date.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.30 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 15 July 1902, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1902/19020715_senate_1_11/>.