1st Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
asked the Vice-President of the Executive Council, upon notice - 1.Is it true that when northern cane farmers of New South Wales decided to register under the new federal conditions and work their farms with the aid of white men, a number of kanakas wont from New South Wales to Queensland, and were engaged by Messrs. Young Bros., of Fairymead Plantation, Bundaberg district, for a period of three years, the rate of pay for the first year being 8s. per week and rations ; second year, 10s. per week and rations ; third year, 12s per week and rations ?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Vice-President of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
What was the strength of the military defence force in each State respectively at the date of taking over of same by the Commonwealth ?
What is the present strength of the military defence force in each State respectively?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : -
The above figures do not include rifle clubs or junior cadets.
It is pointed out that recruiting in fill branches of the forces was suspended from 26th November, 190.1, until 1st April this year, and in the permanent and partially-paid forces has been again Suspended since the 5th May, with the result that a number of the corps are considerably under “establishment.”
Under what Act or Acts were the Regulations of the 6th May, 1902 (re retirement of naval and military officers), and which were laid on the table of the Senate on the 20th August, framed and approved by the Governor-General in Council ?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
Under the authority of the following State Acts, viz. : -
Military and Naval Forces Regulations Act of New South Wales, 1871.
Defences and Discipline Acts of Victoria, 1890 and 1891.
Defence Acts, Queensland, 1884 and 1896.
Naval Discipline Act 1884, and Defences Act . 1895, South Australia.
Defence Forces Act of Western Australia, 1894.
Defence Forces Acts of Tasmania, 1885-1893.
Senator PEARCE (for Senator De
Largie) asked the Vice-President of the Executive Council,upon notice -
Did Mr. Roe, the commissioner appointed by the Government to collect and report on the influx of Italians into Western Australia, visit the Murchison gold-fields in quest of information ?
If not, will the Minister explain why the commissioner did not go to the Murchison goldfields, in view of the . strong protest against Italian immigration from that district ?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Vice-President of the Executive Council,upon notice -
When will the Commonwealth Public Service Bill be brought into operation by proclamation ?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
Much greater difficulties have been met with than were expected in getting ready the preliminary work, especially in connexion with the regulations, which must be issued before the Act can be proclaimed. Every effort, however, is being made to expedite the publication of the proclamation, but no definite date can at present be named.
In Committee. (Consideration of the House of Representatives’ message resumed from 26th August, vide page 15351.
Item 14 - Butter and cheese, per lb., 3d.
Senate’sRequest- That the duty be reduced to 2d.
Mouse ofRepresentatives’ Message. - Amendment not made.
,. - I move -
That the request be not pressed.
As has been pointed out in regard to many duties, a duty of 3d. per lb. is absolutely necessary for the protection of the butter industry whenever it may require to be protected. As honorable senators on the other side have admitted, it does not affect the price of the article to the consumer, except, it may be, under very special circumstances. Ordinarily speaking, the price is not affected by the duty. The effect of its imposition is to maintain and steady the market for our own producers. Under the State Tariffs the duty on butter, perlb., has been 2d. in Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, and “Western Australia, and 3d. in Queensland ; while on cheese, per lb., the duty has been 2d. in Tasmania and Western Australia, 3d. in Victoria, and 4d. in Queensland and South Australia. The federal duty of 3d. per lb. on butter and cheese is certainly not an extravagant one. Are we to reduce the duty to an amount below that which is really necessary for the purpose of the protection of the industry, and, if so, on what ground is it to be done? It cannot be done for the sake of the consumer, because, under all ordinary circumstances, the price of butter is not affected by the duty. If we maintain the duty as it is, we certainly shall do a great deal to steady and preserve the market for our own producers. I need hardly remind the committee that there are very few uses to which the lands of Australia can be put so universally as that of dairying. There are probably more persons interested in this industry than in almost any other. I do hope that, looking at the matter even from the point of view from which it has been dealt with, the committee will see no reason for pressing the request. There is another element which must be considered, and that is the necessity for coming to a final agreement on the item on a question of this kind. In the other House it was discussed, with other items, for months. In the Senate it has been discussed, and the view of the majority has been established ; but we have now to come to an agreement. Unless there is some very strong and good reason why the request should be pressed it is one of those cases in which the committee might very well recede from the position it has taken up. I find from the records of the other House that there was a majority of six in favour of the .rejection of the request of the Senate. There appears to be no reason either from the point of- view of the consumer or from the revenue aspect why the request should be adhered to. On the other hand, there is a very strong reason from the point of view of protection, which operated on the other House, and which has operated on a large number of honorable senators, why the duty proposed by the House of Representatives should be adopted. Under all the circumstances, it would really be in the interests of the Commonwealth as a whole if the Senate did not press its request.
– I hope that the committee will adhere to the request of the Senate in regard to butter and cheese. I quite appreciate what my honorable and learned friend, Senator O’Connor, has said on the points to which he has directed the attention of honorable senators. He has said that the majority shown by the records of the House of Representatives against accepting the request of the Senate was six. May I remind him that the majority in favour of the request in the Senate was four, in a House half as numerous as the House of Representatives. This majority of four represented at least 25 per cent, more than the majority in the other place, which has asked us to reconsider the requested reduction. Senator O’Connor has directed attention very properly to the Tariffs of the States _ prior to ‘ federation. In .all the
States, with the exception of Queensland and New South Wales, the duty on butter was 2d. That was one of the reasons which influenced the majority in the Senate to adopt the 2d. rate. In New South Wales butter was free. I have no desire to underrate the attention which we ought to give to the feeling of the House of Representatives. We ought to be as solicitous to meet their views as they have been in their attitude with regard to the requests made by the Senate. I would also point out that, whilst with regard to butter there was a majority of four in the Senate, in regard to cheese there was a majority of six. The reason for that is obvious. We cannot frame a Tariff free from all difficulties and anomalies, but there is no doubt that a duty of 2d. on cheese is infinitely higher than the same duty on butter. The next point taken by Senator O’Connor was that this is a protective duty. The view we took previously was that a duty equal to that which operated in Victoria before federation is ample for protective purposes. It is urged that it is only in exceptional cases, owing to the operation of drought and so on, that this duty would increase the price of the articles to the consumer. But those are just the times when we ought to be careful not to increase the price. I do not know whether butter is regarded as a luxury, but it is an article of such universal consumption that we may very fairly take it to be a necessary. In’ our improved conditions of life, butter should be regarded from that point of view. We should like to see everybody able to take a little butter with his bread, and we ought to avoid the danger of increasing the price, even in times .of extremity. These are reasons why it seems to me that the committee ought not to depart from the request it has already made, and which has been supported by such a large majority proportionately. We cannot get rid of the protection of 2d. per lb., because that has been assented to : but we should not agree to increasing the duty.
– I should like shortly to state the reason why I shall vote for the Government proposition, because those reasons will influence me in giving a similar vote on all or nearly all of the items in Division IV. of the Tariff. The first reason I give is this - that we ought to be prepared to meet the House o
Representatives in the same manner as we expect that House to meet us. If every member of either House were always to adhere to the vote which he originally gave on an item of the Tariff or a clause in a Bill, we should never be able to pass any measures at all ; we could not have passed any Bills this session except, perhaps, a few Supply Bills. It is absolutely necessary that at some stage we must arrive at compromises; and I think that these items in Division IV. are essentially items on which the Senate might give way. Secondly, I have come to this conclusion because I think this duty is illusory ; that it really does not matter from the practical point of view - that it does not make much difference - whether the duty on butter is1s. per lb., or1d. per lb., because we produce enough butter to supply all the people of Australia, under normal conditions at all events ; and we must legislate for normal conditions. If we are led away by the consideration that under certain exceptional circumstances certain consequences will happen we shall nob be doing our duty, because I repeat that we ought to legislate for normal conditions. Then again I say that, wherever possible, we ought to help the dwellers in the country. It must be recollected that this Tariff is to some extent a protective Tariff, and that the people who live in the country have to pay for the benefit of the people who live in the town. Now, if any occasion arises where they can have some compensation we ought to give it to them. There is no tendency which is more deprecated by statesmen all over the world than that of people to flock into the towns and leave the country ;and we ought not, by our legislation, to do anything to help that tendency. We ought to do everything we can to prevent it ; and if, under certain circumstances, the dwellers in the country - the agricultural population - can derive some compensating advantages by means of this Tariff, we ought to give those advantages to them. I do not think we sholl, speaking generally, give any such advantage to them by means of this duty, because it will have no effect, except under the special circumstances to which I have referred. Therefore I say it is a matter of such small consequence that we may well gi ve way with regard to it. Further, the House of Representatives have, according to the admission of every one, given way on a great many matters pf minor importance. This, also, is a matter of minor importance.
– Nothing of the kind.
– Well, that is my opinion. I arn entitled to my opinion as much as Senator Symon is entitled to his ; and in my opinion this is a matter of minor importance. My last reason is that my State - the State of South Australia - wants all the revenue she can get. I do not think she is likely to get much revenue from this item. She will get very little indeed - we admit that. But if under a certain set of circumstances some revenue is to be derived from the item she ought toget it. Wewantitall; we can not do without any of it. I admit that this is a minor reason. I am prepared to uphold the position taken up by the Senate in matters of great importance.
– Will the honorable and learned senator mention one or two?
– I will mention them when we come to them. But I am prepared to give way in regard to this matter, because I think it is of minor importance; and the reasons I have given in reference to this item will also operate in regard to a number of items of a similar description.
– I agree rather with the leader of the Opposition, when he says that this is a matter of some consequence, than with Senator Baker who seems to consider that it is a matter of very minor moment. This is a duty which I consider has been passed in the interests of our agriculturists - in the interests ofour primary producers, whom the members of the Opposition always profess to be so anxious to encourage. Honorable senators tell us that this duty is inoperative in good seasons. Every one admits that. We are all glad to know that under a protective policy, Australia has developed a very important butter industry. But there come times in the history of Australia, when even an industry like the butter industry is brought to a dead stop. They are times of drought. Senator Symon says that they are the very times when this duty ought not to be collected, because then people are in poor circumstances and are unable to pav. That is one aspect of the question, but there is another aspect of it which appeals much more forcibly to me. We want to stimulate our people to overcome the effects of drought. We want to hold out some inducement to them to” discover some means of obviating droughts - to circumvent them so to speak. This duty of 3d. per lb. on butter proposed by the House of Representatives is held out as a premium to our agriculturists for that purpose. Senator Symon would destroy that incentive. He would say to the agriculturists - “ The moment you can produce enough butter to supply the Australian market, we will bring you into competition with the rest of the world. Does the honorable senator imagine that would stimulate an industry ? Would it not have the effect of damping the energies of our people ?
– We want to benefit them by giving them cheap butter.
– I desire to benefit them by giving them an additional industry - by discovering if we can how the evil effects of the drought are to be avoided. We know that the various inducements which have been held out to different industries have had the effect of stimulating the people to make inventions and discoveries, which have neutralized in a great measure many of the disadvantages under which Australia labours. Are we going to abandon that policy ? Are we going to cease to hold out inducements to people to exert themselves in order to discover ways and means of doing away with many of the evils of climate and soil and other things in Australia ? The very object of this duty is to encourage our agriculturists to produce butter even in the worst of seasons, so as to make us independent, not only of the producer outside, but of the drought within. Is that not a result for which every Australian ought to strive ? Would that not be a much higher position in which to place the people, than that of being brought to a standstill when confronted by a particular set of natural circumstances? I ask the leader of the Opposition and those who follow him to consider this aspect of the question. It is that principle which, at all events, will govern me in giving my vote upon this question.
– I do not know whether to be entirely pleased or surprised by the concluding remark made by Senator Baker. I refer to the statement that, in the present circumstances, he was not going to support the
Senate in regard to this request. Looking at that remark from one point of view, I confess at once that I derive a certain amount of encouragement from it, because I take it as a fair indication that the honorable and learned senator may be prepared at some time during the present discussion to vote in a direction opposite to that in which he originally recorded his vote. So far as the present item is concerned, Senator Baker is not making any concession. He proposes to repeat the vote which he ‘gave when the question was previously before us. As to the other arguments advanced by him, I would point out - and I wish to deal with this matter earnestly and seriously - that he stated we produced enough butter for all our necessities. With that I entirely concur. Although I shall not go so far as to say that I am with him as to the unimportance of making the duty in this case either £1 or Id. per lb., I can conceive that in regard to certain items of a somewhat similar nature I could go with him and sal that we might allow them to go free, or impose a duty of £i a bushel on them. Personally I do not think that butter ought to be taxed, but I recognise that we ought to meet the existing circumstances, and to give way because of present necessities, although we do not surrender our principles. For that reason I would point out to Senator Baker that the one State which is pre-eminent in the production of butter is Victoria, where the output is far larger than in any other part of the Commonwealth. I would also mention the wellknown fact that of all the States of the Commonwealth which showed a desire for protection Victoria was again pre-eminent. The duty under the Victorian Tariff, however, was only 2d. per lb., and if it is argued that we must concede something to the desire of the other side to assist an industry, what better example could we have as to the concession .which it is a fair thing for us to make than that of Victoria. It is a preeminently protectionist State, and I will grant this argument, for the moment, to the other side - although I do not believe in it - that the effect of protection in that State was such that a duty of 2d. per lb. on butter created an enormous industry, and enhanced the value of land, in many cases up to £30 and £40 per acre. In these circumstances, assuming that we are at one with the protectionists of the Senate, .can there be any reason why we should say that a duty of 3d. per lb. is more desirable than one of 2d. per lb. 1 Surely it stands to reason that, if we desire to join our honorable friends on the other side in attempting to assist an industry by a protective duty, we should fix that duty which has been proved - and I am again adopting an argument which honorable senators opposite might use - to be eminently successful1! That duty is 2d. per lb. Another State, which has not produced butter so largely as Victoria has done, although having regard to its size, it has produced it in considerable quantities - I refer to Tasmania - had a duty of 2d. per lb. I do not say that it was a protective one. As we have heard to-day, there is practically no State which has a higher duty than 2d. per lb. Why,- then, should the committee give way? Adopting an argument that appeals to protectionists, why do not the protectionist members of the Senate say to the protectionist members of another place - “ You are making a mistake in the rate of the duty which you propose. According to protectionist precedents, 2d. per lb. is the right duty.” Another argument used by Senator Baker - and I was sorry to hear him use it, for I do not think he fully realized its effect at the present time - was that South Australia wanted revenue. He started by saying that he desired to help the dwellers in the country. I presume he meant that he wished to give them real assistance. He knows that we have always contended that no real assistance is conferred by this duty, and I do riot believe that he wants to join with any one in fooling the farmers. Then the honorable and learned senator stated that South Australia wanted revenue. I leave him to look after the revenue interests of that State.
– He admits with all this solicitude that the duty will practically not give South Australia a penny.
– I am coming to that. I will assume that South Australia wants revenue. In ordinary normal times, however, South Australia will not obtain a farthing from this duty.
– I said so.
– If an occasion does really occur when South Australia will obtain’ revenue under this item, it can only be an occasion of stress and adversity, when no man would really desire to increase the troubles of the people. The benefit which those engaged in this industry desire to obtain from it is not the benefit derived from the sheer necessities of others,’ but that obtained by sending their butter to foreign markets, where people can buy it who are able to pay for it. Even the protectionists would not be bold enough to say that they want the butter industry to flourish out of the necessities and miseries of our own people. If we get a farthing of revenue from this item, it will be because of the abject miseries of the people. I would not take revenue in that way. I should prefer to see the State do without it. As Senator Baker has addressed the committee on the revenue aspect of the question, I wish to point out that abundant opportunity has been offered to him to obtain revenue for South Australia. I might instance many cases. For example, he could have gained it by voting for the request that the duty on boots be reduced. Apart from that, which is a controversial item, there was another obvious occasion whenSenator Baker failed in his duty, and that was in regard to the request to increase the excise on tobacco.
– I rise to a point of order. Is the honorable and learned senator in order in discussing the way in which honorable senators voted on other occasions?
The ACTING CHAIRMAN (Senator Dobson). - References to other items have been allowed by way of illustration, and I hardly feel called upon to stop the honorable and learned senator. But I think he has gone far enough.
– I agree with you, sir, because I have gone exactly the distance which I wished to go. I have pointed out what is the real value of the revenue cry ; that there are other and better means to obtain revenue ; and I think I have discharged my duty by showing how revenue may be derived in other directions without calling on anybody to pay for their miseries. I think the committee should adhere to its request. Our hands are abundantly strengthened by the simple fact that from the point of view of protectionists 2d. per lb. is the proper duty to impose. That is their argument, not ours, and the ! protectionist members of another place should be asked to reconsider this request on 1 that ground. Armed with that argument, ! which is unassailable, the committee, out of respect for the majority of its members, should adhere to its request.
– Save for a few showers of eloquence which fell from one or two of us, there was a political drought in the Senate a few days ago, but the drought is now broken up. Certain honorable senators have returned, the floodgates have been opened, and we are to be deluged for the next two orthree weeks I suppose with torrents of words. I do not wish to repeat myself, but-
– What about the revenue aspect of the question ?
– Honorable senators who propose that we should adhere to this request are prepared to sacrifice £20,000 a 3’ear in revenue.
– Make it £200,000 ; that would be just as likely.
– My imagination is not so expansive as is that of honorable senators who speak very frequently of millions when we can only discover thousands. I find that according to the return of the Customs and Excise revenue from the 9th October, 1901, to the 30th June last, the collections in respect to butter and cheese were as follows : - New South Wales, £15,087; Victoria, £12,747 ; Queensland; £3,983; South Australia, £2,067 ; Western Australia (uniform Tariff), £22,592, special Tariff, £14,551 ; Tasmania, £1,499. Total, £57,975. These were the collections under the duty of 3d. per lb., and honorable senators who wish to reduce the duty are prepared to sacrifice one-third of the revenue. What becomes of Senator Clemons’ £200,000? Honorable senators who think that the request should be adhered to, are not interested in butter; they really have their eyes upon cheese. They want to get into this country the very fine cheeses, such as the Roquefort, the Camembert, the Swiss Gruyere, the Gloucester, and the Cheddar.
– That is not the cheese !
– That is the cheese which pa,ys the duty. If this cheese is made dutiable at 3d. per lb., it will be a little more expensive to the gentlemen who use it. Senator Clemons has spoken of the. miseries of the poor, but it is the misery oE the gentlemen who use this high-class cheese that the honorable and learned senator really has in his mind. I hope that some honorable senator will secure the actual figures, but I venture to say that the greater portion of this revenue of £57,975 has been collected upon cheese. The miseries of the poor ! There is not a solitary poor family in the Commonwealth that consumes Roquefort, Camembert, or Cheddar cheese. As a matter of illustration, I suppose honorable senators were also influenced by “ the miseries of the poor “ in dealing with the duties upon cigars and bottled beer. They seem to think of nothing but their stomachs. They must have all these delicacies, and then they must be able to get a cheap cigar to aid the process of digestion. . Senator Clemons is most anxious thatwe should follow the Victorian Tariff in this case, but will the honorable and learned senator advocate that course in dealing with the whole of the Tariff? We know that he will not. He knows very well that the Victorian scientific protectionist Tariff meant only a 10 percent, duty upon all items, owing to the fact that so many were included in the freelist in the interestsof the people who really were subject to miseries. Because it suits the honorable and learned senator’s immediate purpose, he now recommends that we should adopt the Victorian duty of 2d. per lb. upon butter. I am in favour of the Queensland duty of 3d. per lb., and surely that State should be considered sometimes. This is one of the items which honorable senators should allow to go. AVe are told that the proposed duty will not matter a fig to the producer, but in spite of that some honorable senators are prepared to run the risk of delaying the passing of this Tariff for some months, if not for a year. I do not think that is a statesman-like view to take. I do not know how the majority to which Senator Symon has referred is made up. The view I take is that in case of an ultimate fight between the two Houses and a dissolution, there will be a re-election and the two Houses will be very much the same as at present. Then in a joint meeting where shall we be ?
– Does the honorable senator think that we shall come back ?
– These questions are much too pointed, and I shall not attempt to answer them. I hope that better counsels will prevail, and that the gentlemen who have it in their power to stop this deluge of talk will exercise their power.
– Senator Higgs has just stated that he believes in the Queensland Tariff of 3d. per lb., and that he considers that Queensland is entitled to consideration. To follow the honorable senator’s expression, 1 am in favour of the New South Wales Tariff, which was nothing per lb., and I think that State is entitled to consideration. If under the circumstances I am willing, and other senators from New South Wales are willing, to vote for a duty of 2d. per lb., Senator Higgs can well afford to give way to the extent of1d.
– Honorable senators gave up free-trade for New South Wales on account of federation. .
SenatorLt.-Col. NEILD. - Somebody may have given it up, but honorable senators on this side did not. If it was taken from us that is another matter. Reference has been made by Senator demons to the development of the butter industry in Victoria under the existence of a duty of 2d. per lb., but I point out that without bonuses, which were given in Victoria, and without a protective duty of 2d. per lb., the position of New South Wales in the matter of butter production is not an insignificant one. If, in addition to butter production in New South Wales, we also consider the production of cheese in that State, it will be found that it is very much ahead in volume of the cheese production of Victoria. I think it will be found that dairying development in New South Wales, without either bonus or duty compares much more than favorably with its development in Victoria, where the industry has had the advantage of more regular seasons, more frequent rainfalls, and the advantage supposed to accrue from very liberal fiscal support. Though I regret, as I should, any delay in the passing of the Tariff, I am under all circumstances prepared to. stand by the previous decision of the Senate and vote for a duty of 2d. per lb.
Question - That the request be not pressed - put. The committee divided.
Majority … … 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item 21. Fruits and vegetables, viz. : - . . .
Raisins and other, including peel and ginger, preserved, not in liquid, per lb., 3d.
Senate’s Request. - That the duty be reduced to 2d. per lb.
House of Representatives’ Message. - Amend ment not made.
That the request be not pressed.
I wish to state very shortly the salient points of the issue between the Houses. From the revenue point of view, a certain sum is, and always will be, derived from this item, no matter what the local production is. The amount which is coming in is certainly worth consideration. The revenue collected on dried fruits from 1st January to 30th June was £20,106. Making all allowances for differences of seasons and exceptional conditions, it represents a sum of £40,000 per annum. The contributions to the different States is a matter of some importance. The contributions were as follow : - To New South Wales, £4,460 ; to Victoria, £7,896 ; to Queensland, £1,947 ; to South Australia, £1,076 ; to Tasmania, £1,188: and to Western Australia, £3,539. It is obvious, then, that if the duty were reduced by1d. per lb., it would lead to a loss of revenue. The revenue could only be recouped by importing 50 per cent, more of the articles, and that would undoubtedly affect very seriously the fruit-growing industry. ‘ At Renmark, in South Australia, and Mildura, in Victoria, a very large amount of capital is invested, and a large number of persons are engaged in this industry. The result has been, not only to give employment to a large number of persons, and to establish a profitable and prosperous industry, but to cheapen the cost of raisins to the consumer. We’ are getting all this benefit not to the detriment of the community but rather to its benefit. There is a consensus of opinion that the quality of the local fruits is equal to, if not better, than thatof any imported fruits. Under these circumstances, why should we insist upon a reduction of the duty ? Surely there must be some reason for the insistence. Is it done because it is desired to benefit the consumer! He is already benefited, and will be more benefited the more prosperous the industry is made. The more prosperous it is made the larger will be the production, and the price, if it is affected at all, must go down in the local market. On the other hand, if the industry is stifled or hampered, we are placed more or less in the hands of the foreign producer. From the point of view of the consumer, all the reasons are in favour of the preservation of the duty of 3d. per lb. Can it be said that the duty shuts out the foreign article? It certainly is not prohibitive, because there are classes of raisins and other dried fruits which will come in whatever the duty may be. The persons who will benefit by a reduction of the duty are not the general body of the consumers, if any one is benefited, but those who buy the better class of articles and who will be able to get them more cheaply. In order to give some idea of how the duty of 3d. per lb. has operated, I may mention that when the Tariff was brought down, the revenue under this head was estimated at £25,313 per annum. The collections for six months have been very nearly equal to that amount, showing that, so far from the duty having been prohibitive or shutting out goods, it has led to a very much larger importation than was ever anticipated. We want every farthing of revenue we can get. I appeal to honorable senators representing Queensland, where £1,947 has been collected; South Australia, where £1,076 has been collected ; and Tasmania, where £1,188 has been collected, whether we can afford to give up that revenue ? On what principle can we be asked to give it up ? It cannot be for the benefit of the consumer, or for the benefit of the revenue. . Surely we are not going to disagree with the other House over a matter of this sort merely for the purpose of upholding a freetrade principle. At this stage we have not to consider the cries and shibboleths of a particular party, but we have in the interests of Australia to come to finality.
This question should be looked at from that point of view, and unless the committee sees some very strong reason indeed - some reason founded on an actual benefit to some class in the community, or some benefit to the Commonwealth - itshould not insist upon its request for the mere purpose of upholding some principle. There must be some giving way on one side or the other. On the one hand it is necessary for the purpose of protecting these industries that this duty should be maintained, because otherwise the fruit-growers will always be subject to uncertain, and it may be very large, importations coming in at different times, which must really deprive them of their markets, and cut down the price to such an extent that it would not pay them to go on growing the fruits. If they can be protected from that result by a standing duty like this without any detriment to the consumer, and with benefit to the revenue, why should it not be imposed? The protectionist has, some real reason for giving this benefit - it can be givenwithout any detriment to the consumer, and with benefit to the revenue. Under these circumstances, considering that we must come to an agreement, this is certainly one of the occasions on which the committee ought to give way.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - I trust that the committee will adhere to the request for some of the reasons which Senator O’Connor has stated. In the first place, he said that we should not adhere to the request merely for the purpose of upholding a free-trade principle. If on no other ground than that it was a beneficial assertion of a free-trade principle for the benefit of the people of this country I should urge the committee to adhere to the request.
From the point of view of either protection or revenue, a duty of 2d. per lb. is ample. Senator O’Connor has mentioned the amount Of the collections for a period of six months. So far as the printed records show, there is no discrimination in the. line fruits and vegetables, which in the Tariff are subdivided into a large number of articles. I do not know exactly whether the revenue of £20,000 was derived from the duty on raisins, or from the duties on the articles included under the head of fruits and vegetables, in item 21.
– Senator Symon has said that this duty amounts to about from 75 to 100 per cent, in some cases, and that he wants to lower it. Let me ask him how it is that he and his partv do not follow out that principle in other cases? There was a duty of 80 per cent, on an article of such general consumption as salt, but his. party quietly allowed that to pass without objection. Salt, however, is far more largely consumed than raisins and currants. It goes into every household in every part of Australia, and is also largely used for purposes of manufacture, and in the preserving of food for the people. Yet no objection was taken to it.
– Because that was a compromise made in the House of Representatives by express agreement. I said so here.
– There was a compromise in regard to cement, but the honorable and learned senator did not mind interferingin that case. If the party opposite lay down general principles they ought to be prepared to apply them all round. I do not know why the people who cultivate the soil should be sought tobe specially injured in this manner, or why they should not have such benefits as are conferred upon others who manufacture certain goods. In this case, Senator Symon is endeavouring to interfere with the horticultural industry, which he should do all he can to promote. The more that can be done to put people on the soil, and employ them in outdoor occupations, the better it will be for the community at large. We should endeavour to promote cultivation rather than encourage people to crowd into the towns to find work in factories. The duty proposed is necessary for that purpose. Raisins can hardly be looked upon as articles of absolute necessity, although they are articles of general consumption. They are certainly not as necessary as salt. I trust that we shall give way in regard to the matter.
Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania).- It is all very well for Senator Playford to tell us that by imposing protective duties we shall encourage people to settle in the country. If he stuck to that principle we could understand his attitude.
– We have to consider other people as well.
– The honorable senator who now talks about encouraging people to settle in the country is just as vehement in his support of the imposition of duties of 30 per cent, on hats, boots, and other items, the tendency of which is to induce people to settle in the cities. That sort of clap-trap argument convinces no one, and is unworthy of the honorable senator who has used it.. I admit that it is difficult to deal fairLy with this item, for the reason that, unfortunately, it is both absurdly protective in one aspect, and possibly scarcely sufficient from a revenue point of view, in another. .From the point of view of the producers of currants and raisins in Mildura and elsewhere, the duty is hugely protective. The cost of production is about 4d. or 5d. per lb. But in regard to fancy muscatels, which cost ls. and ls. 3d. per lb., the duty proposed is not excessive. I should like to tax luxuries, but ihe difficulty is that in order to do so in this case we have to impose a ridiculously high protective duty on the major part of the articles affected. With regard to the effect of the duty on the consumers, I would point out that in Tasmania the duty on raisins was “2d. per lb. But then we got 2d. on every lb. of raisins imported into the State, no matter whence they came. Under this high protective duty, however, we should lose every farthing of revenue, because we should shut out foreign imports in favour of raisins grown at Mildura or elsewhere within the Commonwealth.
– How can the honorable and learned senator say that imports are shut out, seeing that for six months the >.duty in Tasmania was £1,18S?
– But those six month’s collections are, to a certain extent, fallacious.
– Those figures are not for the first six months, but for the period from January to June this year, when things had settled down.
– I regard all the /figures up to date as being to a certain extent misleading owing to the loading up which has taken place. This particular duty must kill the Tasmanian revenue. I am not considering the matter from the point of view of revenue exclusively, but I am stating the facts, and it is a fact that where you put a protective duty on commodities manufactured or grown in the Commonwealth, you must necessarily take from the revenue of the -smaller States. That is a sufficient answer to the arguments of the Vice-President of the Executive Council.
– I think that Senator Playford struck home in his last speech, judging from the heat imported into the remarks of Senator Clemons, who, like most free-traders, has shown himself to be delightfully inconsistent. Just now he was telling us that the Victorian duty on butter, 3d. per lb., ought to be adopted. The
Victorian duty on raisins was 3d. per lb. Why go back on that 1 Senator Clemons has charged Senator Playford with being inconsistent because he wants to impose a duty on raisins and other forms of produce in order to keep people on the soil of the country.
– And he wants to impose a duty on other articles for the purpose of bringing them into the towns.
– It is impossible to send people who are growing raisins to make boots in a city factory, because they could not do it, nor could you send a bootmaker to grow raisins at Mildura. The two occupations require different classes of men. A protectionist like. Senator Playford wants to find labour for all the people. All the people cannot be employed upon the land, because they could not exist there ; not because there is not plenty of land to go to, but because there are classes of people who could not earn a living in agricultural occupations. You could not take a mau who had been brought up in a jeweller’s shop, and put him on the land, any more than you could take a man from a farm, and expect him to earn a livelihood in a silk warehouse.
Senator STEWART (Queensland).Senator Clemons evidently approaches the discussion of this subject from the point of view of a Tasmanian property owner. He is desirous, above all things, of saving that individual from further taxation. Tasmania does not grow raisins. Therefore, she must import them ; and Senator Clemons, being a patriotic Australian, would rather import his raisins from Spain, Portugal, Italy, or Greece than have them, grown in Australia. That is the honorable senator’s position. He prefers to import them from foreign countries because Tasmania can obtain a certain amount of revenue from them when they are introduced in that way. When they come from continental Australia, poor Tasmania cannot tax them. He is very sorry that Tasmania will lose revenue under this item. I would suggest to the people of Tasmania that the landlords of that State should be taxed. That would be a very good alternative to taxing raisins which are used in the puddings of the poor. Senator Clemons can himself be a protectionist occasionally. We know perfectly well that every honorable senator from Tasmania wishes to have the free run of the Australian market for anything that Tasmania produces. We know that each one of those honorable senators would oppose to the veryutmost any attempt to place any outside communities on a level with Tasmania.
– I should not. I do not want protection for a single thing made or grown in Tasmania.
– The honorable senator voted for a duty on hops.
– I cannot have my own way in all things.
– The honorable and learned senator appears to me to be acting in his usual r61e of “ fat man “ advocate. He desires above all things to save the capitalist, the land-owner, and the moneyed man from taxation. He says, in effect : “ Levy your taxations upon the poor ; do not tax the big estates in Tasmania. Do not tax invested wealth. Tax the pudding which the poor man puts upon his table. Save the rich man at ali hazards ! Do not encourage any industry on continental Australia. Do not encourage people to settle upon the soil.”
– We propose a duty of 2d. per lb. in this case.
– We want something more than a duty of 2d. per lb. - something which will be a real encouragement to settlers on the soil. The honorable and learned senator twitted protectionists with having a policy which would d ive all the people into the towns. I should like to know where the people would be driven to under a revenue taritffist policy? The revenue tariffist does not attack the landowner. He does not establish industries either in the town or country. He favours land monopoly, and monopoly of every kind, so that if his policy were carried out we should find ourselves in “this beautiful position : that our lands, and other natural resources, would be in the hands of monopolists, while our workers were exposed to the competition of the cheap labour countries of the world. The immediate and only result which could flow from such a policy would be that our work people would be reduced to a level with those of the low-paid countries of the world. I have another ambition for Australia. I do not wish to see those conditions established here.
– The honorable senator is afraid of America, where the rates of wages are the highest in the world.
– I am afraid of nothing ! If Australia is protected at once against the foreign manufacturer, and against the local land-grabber and usurer, she need fear nothing. If we have a policy of scientific protection we need not be afraid of any country or of any people, but if we proceed on free-trade principles - if we hug to our bosoms these magnificent delusions - where shall we find ourselves ? We shall find ourselves without people, without industries - mere hewers of wood and drawers of water to more ambitious and more progressive communities. I can assure my honorable friends that from me, at any rate, they will get no assistance to bring about such a state of affairs. I want to have as many industries in Australia as possible. I want to have the soil of Australia as free as possible to the people. I want to have all our resources thrown open as freely as possible to the people. That will not happen under this free- trade policy. But I shall not call it “free-trade,” because it is not. If it were, I could understand it. It is the thing called “ revenue tariffism,” which is neither free-trade nor protection, which does not establish a single industry, and which takes all its taxation and the cost of government out of the pockets of the very poorest. No policy which I can think of presses with such severity upon the work people as the policy of revenue tariffism. It exposes them to the fiercest of competition.
The ACTING CHAIRMAN.- I think the honorable senator is going beyond illustration.
– Perhaps I did not mention raisins with sufficient frequency. In any case, I am going to stand out for the higher duty.
– I think we shall do well to notice how very high these rates of duty are. I see that in Canada a duty of -i-d. per lb. is levied on raisins.
– They do not grow them there. That is the reason for it.
– I am not discussing what they are growing ; I am discussing their Tariff. The duty on currants in Canada is1d. per lb., while in New Zealand the duty is 2d. per lb. on both currants and raisins. In every one of the six States the duty on raisins and currants has always been the same, with the exception of South Australia, and now that the duty on currants has been reduced to 2d., it is reasonable that the duty on raisins should also be reduced to the same level. An impost of 2d. per lb. amounts to more than £18 per ton, while a duty of 3d. per lb. represents £28 per ton. That is tin intolerable rate of taxation upon an article like raisins, which is required in all households. In the United Kingdom currants are subject to a duty of something like £d. per lb. ‘ The idea of a duty of £28 per ton on raisins would drive statesmen in any ordinary country into a lunatic asylum.
– Threepence per lb. has been the rate of duty in four out of the six States.
– I know that in all the States the duty has been excessive. One of the failures of Australian statesmanship has been the levying of undue taxation on dried fruits. As the Commonwealth proposes to impose a duty of 2d. per lb. on currants, the present is a favorable time to reduce the duty on raisins to the same extent. I trust that the committee will adhere to its request.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - In the course of his remarks, Senator Clemons said that he would not mind taxing luxuries. He admitted that muscatels come within that category, but he said that he desired to lower the duty on the other articles which are comprised in this line. These raisins were specially signalled out by Senator Symon in his attempt to get the duties lowered. Currants take the place of plums in so-called plum puddings, which are largely used in the households of the poor, and they pay a duty of 2d. per lb.
– Dates are also used in that way.
– So also are Mildura figs. But the raisins which Senator Symon and Senator Clemons have in view are the muscatels which are never used in the tents of the pioneer prospector. Just imagine a poor prospector asking for a pound of the muscatels which are bound up nicely with red and blue silk ribbon. After they have had their ten or twelve course banquet, these honorable senators want muscatels to complete their repast. If honorable senators pick up one of those delicately tinted menu cards, which are to be seen at all highclass banquets, they will find that a variety of commodities mentioned in them are comprised in this particular division which has been attacked with such force by Senator Symon and Senator Clemons.
– “Why does not the honorable senator vote for an ad valroem duty on these things 1 As it is, he is proposing to tax the poor man’s raisins just as much as muscatels.
– The poor man uses raisins which are grown at Mildura, and of which several varieties were recently produced here by Senator Glassey. If we adhere to the duty as proposed by the House of Representatives, we shall lighten the burden of taxation upon the poor householder who has to use local raisins. Muscatels are required for after dinner purposes, but, unlike the raisins used in the households of the poor, they do not constitute the chief item in the course. Honorable senators are willing to tie up the Commonwealth and clog the wheels of the industrial machine, as they will do, on a question of after-dinner muscatels. They propose to have a fight over this question, and we know they will fight to the last when they begin speaking of the miseries of the poor. I desire to back up Senator Playford in one respect. If that honorable senator took the trouble, he could have administered a very sharp rebuke to Senator Clemons. I suppose that he takes a comprehensive view of the interests of Australia as a whole. He desires to see a complex civilization here, and he knows that we cannot have men settled upon the land without a large settled population in the towns to-consume the products of their farms.
Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia). - I made a few quiet remarks in perfect good faith, pointing out how careless our free-trade friends had been in looking through the Tariff, and in not settling upon certain items for alterations, according to the principles of their leader, and I have been astonished to find that in doing so, I hurt the feelings of my honorable and learned friend, Senator Clemons. I am quite sure the honorable and learned senator, in that blessed caucus, must have contended for a reconsideration of the item, salt- The honorable and learned senator was very cross, but I think he was not so cross with me as with honorable senators constituting the party of which he is a member. He appeared to think that I should not be allowed to score in this matter, and that he must back up his leader, and he backed up his leader by abusing me. However, he did not say a word about salt, and did not show that I was wrong in ray statements, but, as lawyers frequently do, the honorable and learned senator drew a red herring across the track, and started off in another direction. I referred to the advantage of getting people to go upon the land in preference to a policy of confining them all to the cities and towns, and because I said that, Senator Clemons informed me that I was utterly mistaken, and that I was not carrying out my principles. As a protectionist, I think it desirable to give protection all round. I desire to assist every industry, and I care not whether it is a town or a country industry. Senator Clemons alluded to hats and boots, and, by way of illustration, I may be allowed to answer his remarks. I believe in a selfcontained community, and I think the people ought to make their own hats and boots. If they do not do it, I am in favour of trying to make them do it by a little dose of protection, which will be advantageous to the community as a whole.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - This “self-contained people” is a magnificent sentiment, but honorable senators propose to have a wall 1,000 feet high put up around Australia. They will not admit any body here, and if we can not make things for ourselves we must do without them.
– How are we to get our wheat and wool over the wall?
– That is nothing. “We can use the surplus wheat and wool as a manure for the lands occupied by the agriculturist who is to be protected by a duty of 2d. per lb. on raisins. I will not go into the subject at large, and I rose for a much more congenial purpose. We have been appealed to over and over again - and it is really the only argument I have heard that has any bearing upon the question - to make some concessions to the other House. I have acted throughout upon the principle of making a great manyconcessions I consider that when the Tariff was previously before the committee of the Senate all the divisions in which the voting was equal were concessions to the other Chamber.
– Why ? They were decided under the Constitution, and honorable senators opposite get the benefit of the principle now.
– Yes ; but the honorable and learned senator will not allow us to get the benefit of it, as he is continually denouncing us if we propose to adhere to our requests. On this occasion I am prepared to yield to the appeals which , have been made; and simply as a concession to the views of the other Chamber, I shall not press my objection to the motion. I think the proposed duty is protective in every sense. Sixty or 70 per cent, of protection should be ample, even from the point of view of Senator Playford, and from the point of view of revenue, also, it is ample. Without repeating them, I desire to reiterate all the reasons previously urged against the Government proposal, but I recognise that in some of these cases we should not press our objection unduly. Upon that ground, as we have been appealed to by several honorable senators, I yield, and I shall not press the matter to a division.”
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - Senator Symon possesses the wisdom of the serpent and the gentleness of the dove. Honorable senators in opposition have counted heads. They know they are beaten, and they now are going to make a virtue of necessity and withdraw with a splendid grace. The honorable and learned senator says that this duty is unduly protective, and we know that if he could secure a majority just now he would not be prepared to withdraw.
Motion agreed to.
Item 21. - Fruits and vegetables, viz. , . . Vegetables, dried or concentrated, ad valorem, . 1 5 per cent.
Senate’s Request. - Add to special exemptions.
Houseof Representatives’ Message. - Amendment not made.
– I move-
That the request be not pressed.
Honorable senators will recollect that, in this case, the duty originally proposed in the Tariff was 20 per cent., and, as the Tariff came to the Senate, the duty proposed was 15 per cent. The Senate requested that the item should be added to the list of special exemptions. I hope that honorable senators will agree that the Senate ought not to insist upon the request made. The industry is one which really deserves encouragement, as it offers a good outlet for vegetables produced in the country, while the operation of the duty will not increase the’ cost to the consumer. I think this is one of the cases in which the Senate might very well give way.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - “When this item was debated upon a previous occasion I was under the impression, and I said so at the time, that no attempt had been made to open up an industry of this description so far as I was aware. I think it is only fair to say that a gentleman in South Australia has communicated with me, and I find that there has been a beginning made. I hope the industry will be a satisfactory one some day. I do not propose that we should press our request in this instance, not only upon that ground, but also upon the ground that this is a concession which we might fairly make to the other Chamber.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - I am very glad, indeed, that that gentleman in South Australia communicated with Senator Symon. If the producers and manufacturers throughout the Commonwealth will only take the hint, we shall probably get along a great deal better. This great free-trader of ours has admitted that when this item was previously before the committee he opposed the duty, because he did not know that there was an industry of this description established within the Commonwealth. Having discovered now that there is a rising industry - a South Australian industry - which he hopes will grow to some dimensions, he is prepared to withdraw his opposition to what he considers a protective duty. In a great many instances it has been shown that where the States represented by free-traders are specially concerned, they are prepared to vote for protection or anything else in the interests of their constituents. We have had the Tasmanian hop man, the wine producer, the salt man, and now we have the supporter of the dried-vegetable industry. They are now letting us see their true character. If we could only arrange to have the various industries which are to be protected established in South Australia and Tasmania, there would be no trouble here.
Motion agreed to.
Item 21. - Fruits and vegetables, n.e.i. (preserved in liquid, or partly preserved, or pulped) -
Half-pints and smaller sizes, 9d. per dozen.
Pints and over half-pints,1s.6d. per dozen.
Quarts and over pints, 3s. per dozen.
Exceeding a quart,1s. per gallon.
Senate’s Request. - That the duty be 15 per cent,ad valorem.
House nf Representatives’Message. - Amendment not made.
Senator O’CONNOR (New South Wales). - I move - .
That the request be not pressed.
There seems to be an inconsistency between this item and item 44, under which pickles are. charged specific duties, according to the size of the bottles in which they are packed. There is no reason why there should be such an inconsistency. A stronger reason for not pressing our request is that the adoption of a 15 per cent, ad valorem duty would mean far too large a reduction of the protection which was originally intended. There is one point which I do not think was emphasized quite enough on a previous occasion, and that is that a large quantity of sugar is employed in the manufacture of these different kinds of preserves. There is a very great difference between the price of sugar in America or England and the price of sugar in Australia. Supposing that the local price is taken at £18 per ton : in Europe it is not more than £7 per ton - a difference of nearly 11/6d. per lb. in the cost of the sugar used. ‘ I have a calculation which shows that out of the 15 per cent, duty which the committee desired to be charged, 10 per cent, would be absorbed in getting over this difference of price in the sugar used, so that the net amount of protection would not be more than 5 per cent. When we consider the large quantity of our produce which is being used in this way, and the number of persons who are interested in the natural productions of the soil, and in the preservation of a certain amount of protection here, I think it will be recognisedby even free-traders that unless there is some very good reason given this request ought not to be pressed.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - I think that this is a fair subject on which a concession may bc made to the other House. Resides the broader ground which might be stated, I think that all the points which Senator O’Connor has mentioned should influence us in that direction. Under item 44, pickles in bottles are left subject to fixed duties. My own feeling is that if at the time it had been known that a corresponding item was being subjected to an ad valorem duty, it might have influenced the votes of some honorable senators. There is a very considerable amount of revenue produced from this item, and that fact was recognised in the previous discussion. I do not assent to make this concession on the ground put by my honorable and learned friend - that is, to make the duty largely protective, because, irrespective of protection, there are a great many elements which will have to be introduced before our fruits will compete with those i mported from Canada and other places. Those fruits are packed under a system that secures a quality which, I believe, is practically the despair of our producers. I hope that the difficulty will be overcome, and at the present time I am quite willing that this duty should stand.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - I do not see my way clear to deliver an attack similar to that which I endeavoured to deliver on a previous item. There is something tangible about the concession which is given here. I congratulate Senator Symon on his action, because I believe that it augurs well for an early settlement of our troubles. Certainly, if he pursues this course, I shall not be found taking up very much time.
Motion agreed to.
Item 22. Grain and pulse, n.e.i., per cental, 1s.6d.
Senate’s Request. - -That wheat be added to the special exemptions.
House of Representatives’ Message. - Amendment not made.
– I move-
That the request be not pressed.
It is an extraordinary anomaly to put wheat in a different position from maize, barley, oats, and other grains. Why should the grower of wheat be put in a different position from the grower of oats or barley? It certainly cannot be that the geographical conditions make any difference, because wheat is grown everywhere in the Commonwealth, except in Tasmania, where a large quantity is not produced. In the tropical parts of Australia, none is grown. In some parts of Queensland it can be grown very well. In parts of Western Australia it can be grown. In at least some part of each State it is grown, and grown in a very profitable way. The wheat-growing industry affects the farmers in every part of Australia. Is there any justification for putting the wheat-grower in a different position from the man who grows maize, barley, oats, or any of the other products which are included. under the head of grain and pulse ? There is none. The proposed exception will merely have the effect of unfairly prejudicing growers of wheat, and at the same time very largely affecting the revenue which is derived from flour. We have to take the articles, wheat and flour, together. If the Tariff remained as it was, therewould be a difference of1s. per cental between the duty on flour and the duty on Svbeat. The Customs officials report that if we allow wheat to come in free, a large quantity of flour which now comes in will be imported in its original form, and the only persons who will be benefited will be the millers, whereas the farmers, from whom the wheat would otherwise be bought, would be very largely affected. There is no doubt that in plentiful years Australia is an exporter of wheat. She does not grow very much more than is necessary to meet local requirements, but still, under certain circumstances, she has been an importer. With the enormous extent of wheat-growing land in the Commonwealth, there is no reason why in time to come - and in a very few years, indeed - Australia should not only grow enough wheat for local requirements in all circumstances, but should have a very large surplus to export in almost any season. If we had arrived at that stage it might be that the duty would not be operative, but the necessity for its imposition is to provide against the time when imports take place. The whole thing is regulated by the local production. When it fills the home market and there is enough to export, it does not pay to import except under very special circumstances. But when the local demand is not met, then we have very large importations from California and other places which seriously affect the market. Is there any reason why the farmer who grows wheat should not have the benefit of the steadying of his market which we have given to the grower of oats, maize, and the other products I have mentioned ? There is no reason in the world why that should not be so. If it could be shown that the consumer would be affected, and that the price of wheat and bread would be increased by a duty of this kind, there might be something to be said. But that has not been proved. There is really no reason why the same amount of protection should not be given to the grower of wheat as to the grower . of other grains. And after all, when we have given the benefits of protection to a large number of trades and industries which exist in the cities, we ought to be very careful not to take away the protection which is afforded in steadying and securing the market under all circumstances in regard to wheat. It is only fair that we should treat the man who has to till the s’oil with a certain amount of consideration when the benefits of protection are being distributed. If we leave him out of consideration altogether, we disturb the fairness and the balance of the Tariff? “Whatever may have been the free-trade proclivities of some honorable senators, the net result is that the Tariff is protective. It has given protection to a great number of industries and occupations. Care should be taken that that protection is given fairly to all classes of the community, and the farmers who have embarked in the business of growing wheat should have the same amount of regard shown for their interests as has been shown for the interests of those growing other kinds of grain. I ask the committee to remember also that the competition in regard to wheat must be regarded very seriously. A large amount of wheat is imported from New Zealand. If wheat is made free of duty, New Zealand will probably be a much larger competitor. Two things have to be remembered. In the first place, the wheat yield in New Zealand generally is exceedingly large as compared with the wheat yield of Australia. For ten years ending 1 899 the wheat yield, per acre, in New Zealand, was 24-61 bushels - an enormous yield. The average yield in Australia for that period was only 7-31 bushels. That is to say, the wheat yield in New Zealand is about three times what it is in Australia. In other words, with practically the same amount of labour - there may be a little extra labour in gathering - three times as rauch wheat per acre is grown in New Zealand as is grown in Australia.
– But what about- the value?
– There is a great difference in the value of the wheat grown in different parts of Australia. The best flour is made from mixtures of wheat, and there has always been a good market here for New Zealand wheat. It therefore has to be remembered how easy it is for the wheat market of Australia to he flooded at any time when there is a heavy harvest in different parts of the world. I mention New Zealand as an illustration, but wheat also comes from California and Argentine. Ought we to put the men who in different parts of Australia have to struggle with drought and- difficulty during the greater part of the year in the position of having to compete with wheat-growers in those other places when the time comes that there is a good price to be obtained for wheat ? There is another, and very important consideration. That is the comparison between land freight and water freight. If honorable senators take the average freight from New Zealand to Australia, and compare it with the land freight from the mallee country of Victoria to Melbourne, they will find that it does not cost any more to bring wheat from New Zealand and land it here than it costs to bring wheat from the mallee to Melbourne.
– From what part of New Zealand ? “Wheat does not grow on the wharf. There is a long inland carriage as well.
- Senator Pulsford knows that there is no comparison between the long journeys that have to be made in bringing wheat from the inland parts of Australia to the seaboard, and the journeys from the most inland parts of New Zealand. “Wheat is grown in portions of Riverina. Let it be remembered what a long journey that wheat has to be brought to the seaboard, or to the capital of a State, and it will be found that the freight from these different places will probably be something like the same as the freight for the carriage of wheat from New Zealand to Sydney, or to Melbourne. In view of these circumstances, I urge that we are bound to place the wheat-grower of Australia in a fair position, and that we cannot put him in a fair position under the general scheme of this Tariff, without giving him a protection which will be operative in preserving the market for him under all circumstances. We ought to put him in such a position that after paying freight, cultivating his land, and preparing his harvest, he will have the certainty that his profit cannot be taken away from him by sudden importations from other parts of the world where there happen to be a surplus in the wheat supply. “Under these circumstances, I think the committee will see that this duty ought to be restored, and that the request should not be pressed.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - I think it may be convenient if I recall to the memory of honorable senators what took place in regard to this item, us to which the request was made that wheat should he duty free. At first a request was moved that the whole item, grain and pulse, should be made free. There was a very long debate. So far as debate was concerned, this was indeed one of the most important items dealt with when the Tariff was originally before the Senate. A great number of honorable senators took part in it. After the debate had proceeded a considerable length, it was moved by a supporter of the Government - my honorable friend, Senator O’Keefe - that the item should be divided, barley, oats, maize, and so on being left in one category, and wheat taken out of the general list and placed upon the free list. A division took place, and his proposal was carried by a majority of six. There were sixteen votes for Senator O’Keefe’s proposal and ten against it. “We supported that proposal, and then the remaining articles in connexion with the item were allowed to go. We agreed to adopt that course, and from my point of view that was a compromise. That being the position, I think that an appeal for compromise does not have the slightest force in connexion with this item. The House of Representatives might very fairly have met us, seeing that we have left the duty on barley, oats, maize, beans, peas, and other commodities in the item. As they have not met us I am not disposed to go further in the way of concessions. There are good reasons why wheat is placed in a different category from other grain and pulse. Those reasons were given clearly in the debate that took place upon the amendment of Senator O’Keefe. It was pointed out that now that the barriers of Inter-State protection are levelled, wheat grown in any part of Australia can be sent from one State to another without being subject to any duty. The duty is a perfect absurdity. No wheat is imported into Australia. Senator Fraser gave some most valuable figures in the course of the previous debate, showing that in 1901-2 - almost up to the very time at which the debate was proceeding, and during the period when the drought was beginning to be felt in its intensity - an immense export of wheat from Victoria had been taking place. The honorable senator gave the figures from May, 1901, up to May of this year, but I shall give only the first and the la3t sets. In May, 1901, Victoria exported 284,344 bags of wheat, in February of this year she exported 293,837 bags, in March she exported 152,994 bags, and in April last she exported 20,419 bags. That was at the very close of the season. What does it mean 1 It means that even in anticipation of distress, the price of wheat, looking, at the whole of the market throughout Australia, was not so high as to pay the middleman to keep it here. It is really the middleman who is affected by the duty, because the farmer cannot get any benefit from it under any circumstances. It pays him better to export it to Europe than to keep it in Australia in anticipation of better prices. The total export of wheat from Victoria for the twelve months in question was 2,079,669 bags; yet we have it suggested by my honorable and learned friend that there is a possibility of wheat being imported from the Argentine, from New Zealand, California, and other places. Of course there is no such possibility.
– Then what is the honorable senator’s objection to the duty 1
– It is inoperative. I shall not call the duty « dodge, because I do not wish to refer to it in terms which would be offensive. But it is intended to delude the farmers into the belief that there is something in relation to wheat in the Tariff which -will benefit them.
Senater Styles. - They are not to be easily deluded.
– I do not think they are. But this duty is intended to delude them by leading them to believe that they are obtaining a splendid advantage under the Tariff, so far as their wheat is concerned, and that when they are asked to pay a duty of 30 per cent, on boots and shoes they cannot ‘complain. Senator O’Connor admitted before, and does not question it now, that the effect of the duty will be to increase prices in times of scarcity. He could not do less than make that admission. The result of the duty must be that when the price of wheat reaches a level at which it would pay to import- it, lOd. a bushel will be clapped on. That increase will be made in the price of wheat from which flour is manufactured, and from which, in. turn, bread is made for the people of the country. Is that just? Why should we impose a duty which is only to become operative in times of scarcity and famine ? It is childish. It is unworthy of the Parliament of this country to do such a thing.
I am as ready as is any one to put these things upon a proper footing. The reasons given for eliminating barley and maize from this request was that Australia does not produce, even in normal times, sufficient of those cereals for her own consumption, and that, she might be flooded with importations from New Zealand, which is far more of a barley and oat-producing country than a wheat-producing country. It was also said that oats and barley which come from New Zealand compete with our own producers. That was the argument used. I do not assent to it, but it prevailed with some honorable senators, and induced them to make this discrimination. It is a plausible argument, even if it is not a convincing one. My honorable and learned friend says that this duty is for the benefit of the farmer. I say again that, generally, the farmer will not get a cent, of benefit from the duty.
– It will never benefit the farmers, but it may sometimes benefit the merchants.
– Or the mill-owners.
– It certainly benefits the farmers.
– I am sure my honorable friend entertains that opinion, and I do not question the sincerity of it. But I know that in Adelaide, which has been called the “ farinaceous village,” and in South Australia generally - which is a great wheat producing country - almost the whole of the wheat passes immediately after the harvest into the hands of the miller, the wheat buyer or the exporting merchant at the best prices that can then be obtained. Occasionally there are men who are strong enough to be able to hold their wheat - who do not require their debit balances wiped off at the close of the season. That, however, is only the condition of an absolute minority. Speaking for the State which has sent me here, and for the farmers who voted for all the honorable senators who come from South Australia, I assert that the great majority of them will not reap one farthing of benefit from this duty in times of scarcity. In the majority of cases the speculator, and sometimes the millowner will derive the benefit; and, therefore, from that point of view, it should not be consented to even for a moment. If the duty will be operative only in times of distress, it must increase the price of food to the people. Most people have admitted, whether they are protectionists or not, that when the corn laws of England were abolished they were justly swept away. Are we to shut our eyes to the fact that the very same results which followed the imposition of those duties will happen from the imposition of such a duty as this 1 We are asked to impose a duty which can be operative only in times of distress, and we are bo exact it from people who are suffering from distress.
– It might encourage grain trusts.
– Yes. We cannot blame these men for combining to obtain a monopoly of the wheat, to hold it against a rise in prices, and then to dole it out to the millers - if they have not already secured supplies- for the purpose of grinding it into flour to be sold at an enhanced price to the people. It is human nature. But the more this item is investigated the more indefensible it seems to be. I trust that the committee will adhere to their request, which is in the interests of the people.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - I was hopeful that Senator Symon would have continued upon a reasonable course, and that he would not have pressed this request. Certainly it does appear to most people to be very strange that wheat should be singled out in this way. The fact that it had been singled cut, was, in my opinion, one of the reasons why the House of Representatives did not propose a modification in their anxiety to arrive at a settlement. We can produce a great deal of wheat, and honorable senators who urge that the request should be adhered to admit that the duty will be inoperative. Do they know that we have some millions of acres in the central parts of Queensland which are looked upon as likely to become the granary of the Commonwealth, provided that we have a uniform Tariff to protect our farmers and do not allow wheat to come in free of duty. In spite of the duty which prevailed prior to federation a great quantity of wheat was imported into Queensland. Perhaps we shall be told that that was due to the fact that flour made wholly from Queensland wheat does not produce a good quality of bread, and that it has to be mixed with South Australian flour. I am aware that it is mixed to some extent in that way, but the Agricultural department in Queensland is successfully cultivating varieties of wheat which will produce a flour equal to the South Australian article. I have it on the authority of Mr. McLean, who is an agricultural expert, occupying the position of under secretary in the Queensland department of Agriculture, that it will not be very long before large areas of land behind Rockhampton and in the Long Reach district will be used for the cultivation of wheat. He declares that the conditions there are as good as those prevailing in America, which is a great wheatproducing country. I hope that honorable senators of the Opposition, especially as they think that the duty will be inoperative, will allow it to remain.
– In its fairly inoperative now.
– There happens to be a drought at the present time, but whether there is a drought or not the general body of the working classes appear to be called upon to suffer. The constituents of some honorable senators are exporting large quantities of wheat, which is being sold at lower prices-
– They are not doing anything of the kind now. The honorable senator should consult the position of the State which he is supposed to represent.
– Do not say “supposed.” I represent Queensland, and I believe I represent her well. That State will undoubtedly be a great producer of wheat in time to come if we give her wheat-growers some little protection. But if we make wheat free, what hope will there be for them? What hope is there when the proposal to impose a duty is opposed by men like Senator Fraser, who owns considerable station properties in Queensland, and who probably before very long will be following the example of squatters in other parts of the Commonwealth, and leasing half of his land to wheat farmers on the Metayer system, under which the farmer will give him a bag of wheat as rent for every two bags he produces. The honorable senator doubtless knows that squatters in other parts of the Commonwealth are allowing their lands to be used on that system. The squatter letshisland to the farmer who does the work, and the squatter gets, as rent, a half-share of the produce of the land. I appeal to Senator Fraser, on these grounds, to vote for a duty upon wheat.. Of course, there are many farmers in Queensland who are cultivating their own land. Though they are not farming in a large way, many of them derive a considerable income from the cultivation of wheat, and if we are to force them to throw their land out of cultivation, or to grow some other crop, we shall be adopting a very unwise policy. I hope that the committee will agree not to press the request.
– I have listened to what I consider extraordinary statements, and I must confess that I have been greatly disappointed with the remarks made by the Vice-President of the Executive Council in speaking upon this proposed duty upon wheat. We are immense exporters of wheat. It is the growth and export of wheat, wool, and beef that sustain the whole of the body politic. But for our wheat, wool, and meat, we should be insolvent in a year.
– And butter.
– Yes, and butter. We should be insolvent in a year but for the production and export of these four commodities. I find that in the year 1901- 1902 we exported no less than 2,379,000 bags of wheat, and in the same year we exported also 314,000 bags of flour. There has been for years past a stream of wheat running continuously, like a great river, from Australia to London. How can any one stop that huge export 1
– No one desires to do so.
– Then what is the use of pretending to bolster up the farmer and to give him assistance by imposing a duty upon wheat ? It is neither more nor less than throwing dust in the eyes of the farmer. We might just as reasonably propose to put a duty upon merino wool. It is only 100 years ago since McArthur imported three rams and six ewes into New South Wales, and now we are exporting millions of pounds of wool. Our wheat industry is only one of yesterday in the history of the nation, but it is a huge industry nevertheless. I do not suppose there is any country on the face of the earth that per. head of population exports as great a quantity of wool, meat, and wheat, as Australia.
– If the duty will be inoperative, why get so excited about it?
– It will be inoperative except at a time like the present, and such a time has never before been known in Australia. God knows what the result will yet be. I pray. Almighty God that this drought may cease, because if it does not, I tell honorable senators, and I tell labouring men, that there will be no capital in this country to give employment to labour, or to do anything else, and we shall have the biggest collapse that has ever taken place in this unfortunate country. I have been buying wheat in Roma, in the central district of Queensland, for years past.
– Will the drought take away from us the lands of Australia ?
– The drought has reduced the value of the lands of Australia. Honorable senators have only to look at today’s Argus, and they will see the way in which the land appraisement court has valued land at Hay. They will find that in the case of 53,000 acres the valuation has been reduced from £1 to11s. per acre, because of the difficulties of selectors. I am speaking now, not of squatters, but of selectors. I am prepared to go as far as any man living in this country to put men upon the land. I shall always strenuously support anything and everything that will have the effect of putting men upon the land and keeping them there. But I ask honorable senators to look at the reports in the Argus of the appraisements by the land court at Hay, where there are thousands of selectors. That part of the country is supposed to be very rich and fertile, but the records of the Lands department of New South Wales have proven the contrary, and the land appraisement court has reduced the value of selections there from £1 to as low as 8s. and 9s. per acre. Fifty-three thousand acres in that district were dealt with last week, and that is only one instance amongst a number of re-appraisements that have taken place. We really do not know what is the state of the Commonwealth just now, and instead of trying to befool farmers, we should be trying to do something that will help to keep them on their farms. At the present moment stock are dying in tens of thousands. I know what I am talking about, and let me say that there has been a bit of a corner in wheat, because stock-owners are obliged to buy wheat, oats, maize, turnips, and anything that will keep their stock alive. I have a letter in my pocket from Mr. Delpratt, of Tambourine, to which T might refer. He is a gentleman who is well known on the Logan as an honorable man in every respect. Writing of the Logan district, where there are usually 40 inches of rain per annum or thereabouts, he Says that the farmers who have taken up dairying in that district within the last two or three years a.re losing heavily, and their herds are dying by thousands. Strong young cattle are dying there in large numbers, and he informs me that he has had to buy chaff to feed them at £9 5s. per ton with carriage added. If there ever was a time to take off this duty it is the present time. If the Common weal th Government rose to the occasion they would take the duty off everything that might be used to keep the starving stock alive.
– They think this is just the time to put it on.
– I say that that is a most disgraceful statement to make in the face of the fact that stock are dying by millions, and the country is being devastated by this terrible, inconceivable drought. The Government would be doing a grand thing in taking the duty off all produce. I tell honorable senators that the day of reckoning will come, and some record will be kept of this time. Squatters and selectors are compelled to buy produce to keep their stock alive, and there has been a ring formed in some quarters to keep up the price. But for the rain which fell a few days ago in the Riverina district many of the wealthiest men in the district would not have been able to stand. If this drought “continued, a. man who had the Bank of England at his back would have to come down, because he would lose all his sheep. Like a captain who 16ses his ship, a squatter who loses the whole of his. sheep cannot earn any money ; he has large expenses going on, and if his income ceases, what must the result be? I am considered a strong man, and I say that no man can stand this drought for a year or two longer, because there will be no sheep left alive if it continues, and it will take years to recuperate. I recommend the Government, instead of imposing a duty upon these things and befooling the farmers, to remove duties from everything which will keep animals alive.
Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania).- This is one of the items upon which honorable senators opposite, with a good deal more of pleasantry than of accuracy, taunt honorable senators like Senator Dobson with being “geographical free-traders.” Senator O’Connor displayed a degree of ignorance, to . which I do not desire to direct too much attention, when he said that Tasmania was not a wheat-growing State. As a matter of fact, a great deal of wheat is grown in Tasmania, but though, in common with others, I have sometimes been called a local freetrader, I intend to insist as strongly as I can upon our request in the matter of this duty being renewed. If is a fact, the accuracy of which I can guarantee, that no wheat can be landed in the’ Commonwealth under 3s. 9d. per bushel. I make that statement upon the authority of some of the biggest millers and wheatgrowers in Australia, and we can assume that it is correct. I can say without hesitation that there is no sane farmer in the Commonwealth who would not jump at the chance of selling the whole of his wheat crop for the next twenty years at 3s. 9d. per bushel, though the present price of wheat in Australia is from 4s. 9d. to 5s. per bushel. What, then, is the object of this duty which represents about ls. per bushel? At the present time I suppose it is operative, as I believe that but for the duty the present price of wheat would not be as high as it is. The result of the imposition of the duty is simply that whereas every farmer would gladly have taken 3s. 9d. per bushel, he is getting 4s. 9d. if he has any left. I do not believe that a single farmer in Australia, who deserves our respect, would say that, while in ordinary times he takes with pleasure 3s. per bushel, he is anxious to get 4s. 9d. per bushel in times of stress and necessity. I do not think that there is a farmer who would knowingly put himself in that position. For these reasons, and with a full knowledge - in spite of what Senator O’Connor has said - that it is grown very largely in Tasmania, I shall willingly vote as I did before to make wheat free.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - Senator Clemons has spoken of the farmers getting 3s. per bushel for their wheat. The unfortunate farmers do not get that price at any time.
– What are they getting now if they have any wheat?
– It was sold at 2s. 9d. per bushel to those persons who- held on to it until the people had to pay 5s. per bushel.’ It is not altogether the drought which has kept up the price of wheat. It is the various rings who are doing that. I am anxious to help the farmers by means of a protective duty. There is a movement throughout the Commonwealth to induce the State Governments to establish State flour mills where the farmer can get his wheat ground into flour, instead ©f being compelled to sell on the farm to the agents of rings.
– How will the duty affect them ?
– The farmer will be protected against outside competition. He will continue to grow wheat, and he will agitate, and be assisted to agitate, for the establishment of State flour mills. If it is desired to help the farmer, he should not be exposed to the competition of foreign countries like the Argentine and Siberia.
– Siberia sending wheat here !
– The honorable and learned senator, who always speaks with greater authority than any one else, challenges the idea that there is any wheat cultivation in Siberia.
– I said that they could not send it here.
– The Statesman’s Year Book will disclose the amount of cultivation which is going on in Siberia as well as in the Argentine.
– If they could land wheat here, at what price could it be done?
– The same remark was made in respect to the Argentine, which is one of the greatest competitors that Australia has to meet in the English market as regards sheep, cattle, and wool. The honorable and learned senator seems to lose sight of the fact that it has only been in recent years that agriculturists have taken to cultivating the lands of Siberia. If he will go to the Library and read a book by a Frenchman called Leroy Beaulieu, who spent some time in investigating the conditions, of various industries in China, Japan, and Siberia, he will see that we are likely at any time to be exposed to the competition of those countries. The competition of Siberia is unfair to the farmers in Australia. The drought, which is spoken of in such heartrending terms, will not last forever Senator Fraser has said that if it lasted the squatters would go down. If we get no rain throughout the Commonwealth we shall have to flee or die. But to talk of these calamities in. that way is, to my mind, to border on exaggeration. Therehas been a fair fall of rain throughout New South Wales. This is a drought of an almost unprecedented character. As a rule a drought comes only once in four years.
– This one has lasted four or five years.
– The honorable senator belongs to the class who are always howling calamity, although they are able to get 40s. for a sheep, whereas, in the drought of 1879 a sheep could be bought for1s. The squatter who has some sheep to sell is not suffering very much.
– I shall be very glad to get1s. a head for some sheep in the centre of Queensland.
– The honorable senator should have sent his sheep down to the market when they were able to travel.
The ACTING CHAIRMAN. - These remarks are not at all relevant to the item.
– What annoys me, sir, is to hear honorable senators pleading for the introduction of free wheat, because the drought is affecting pastoralists who have a number of sheep for which they would be glad to get1s. per head.
– There is a bit of a corner in wheat now.
– There is a corner in sheep, too - otherwise the public would be able to get their mutton at a lower price.
Question - That the request be not pressed - put. The committee divided.
Majority … … 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item 23. - Grain and pulse, prepared or manu factured, viz., n.e.i., per cental, 2s.6d.
Senate’s Request. - That the duty be reduced to 1s.6d.
House of Representatives’ Message. - Amend ment not made.
That the request be not pressed.
In this instance the House of Representatives decided by a majority of ten not to accept the suggestion of the Senate. I mention that first, because it is a consideration which is worthy of note in connexion with all these questions which wo have to decide now. There has to be a decision ultimately, and it is an element of importance to consider what the attitude of the other House was and what was the majority there. As far as I can see, there appears to be a disposition on the part of some honorable senators to discuss and decide these questions exactly upon the old lines upon which they have been discussed and decided in both Houses for many months. We shall never arrive at a settlement unless some new element is imported into the discussion, and we should consider whether one side or the other cannot give way in regard to the opinions expressed. I regard what is proposed in this case as the lowest amount of duty which can reasonably be imposed for all purposes.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - I hope that honorable senators will vote for not insisting upon the request in this case, because, having secured the introduction of free wheat, they should not object to that wheat being turned into flour by the local flour mills. They surely cannot object to the employment of Australian workmen in flour mills. A duty of 2s. 6d. per cental amounts to a little over¼d. per lb. That is not a very great protection, and is not likely to increase the price of flour very much.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - I wish to say, in reply to what Senator Higgs has said, that it seems to be overlooked that, by adhering to the request we have made, we are making a greater discrimination in favour of the local mill-owner than was given by the j Tariff as it came up from the House of Representatives. The duty on wheat ! was ls. 6d., whereas it is now free. I Formerly the duty on flour was 2s. 6d., j and there was a difference of ls. Now our i request makes a difference of ls. 6d. So ‘ that my honorable friend lias entirely over- I looked the fact that by adhering to our re- ‘ quest we are giving a greater advantage and not a lesser one to the miller. As to what Senator O’Connor has said with regard to the’ certainty that by-and-by we shall have to arrive at a final settlement, I reply that of course weshall. We hope that it will be a settlement satisfactory to all parties in “.Parliament and satisfactory to the country. We should have had a better foundation upon which we could proceed, if it had not been *that unfortunately no reasons have been given by the House of Representatives as to why they have refused our requests. It would have been a very great convenience if those requests which they could not see their way to comply with had been set out in a schedule, and if opposite to each one of them the reasons had been given why they had not been accepted. We have practically nothing to debate, so far as the reasons of the House of Representatives are concerned. Although Senator O’Connor has given us the benefit of the reasons which appeal to him, they are the reasons of the Government and not of the House of Representatives. Naturally and necessarily, they are very largely a rehash of what we have gone over before. It could not be otherwise. That being the case, I hope that we shall adhere to our request.
If the duty on prepared grain, n.e.i., as suggested by the Senate, is reduced to ls. (id. percental, the same as the duty on unprepared grain, then the prepared or manufactured articles mentioned will come in at a much lower duty equivalently than that at which the raw materials of” same are admitted. For instance, shelled orhulled oats, which are always cleaned and kiln dried before shelling, and after shelling aredressed, lose 50 per cent, of their original’ weight as oats. Therefore .1 cental of shelled or hulled oats represents 2 centals of oats which had not been so prepared or manufactured. Consequently, if the duty on the prepared article is reduced to ls. 6d. per cental, it will be equivalent to only 9d. per cental on the raw material, one-half of the ordinary oat duty being evaded by the reduction of the original bulk or weight of the oats. The reduction of the duty of ls. (id. per cental would open the door for all the oats required for oatmeal purposes to come in at equivalently half the duty which the Tariff fixes for oats. This would be a most serious blow to the farmers of the Commonwealth. It would also do great injury to the oatmilling industry here, as by admitting the almost completed product (shelled or hulled oats, being “next door” to “ oatmeal”) into this market at equivalently half the rate which the raw material has to pay, it would be practically offering a premium to outside mills to do the work, and valuable employment for a large amount of labour and much valuable machinery would thereby be lost to the Commonwealth.
That letter seems to put in a very concise way the anomaly that would be created by adopting the Senate’s suggestion, and it comes from a source which cannot be doubted, because, although these people are interested, they are writing about a matter which they understand. It must be apparent to everybody that what they represent will be the case. That is to say, if these firms can get prepared oats imported at practically 9d. a cental instead of ls. 6d., we shall take away to a very large extent the protection which we have already given to the growers of oats in Australia. It. will be remembered that a number of thosewho voted for the ls. 6d. per cental on : other grain did so on the ground that if’ that protection were not given, locallygrown grain would be likely to be swamped and driven out of the market by importations from other places. That being so, it is surely unfair to leave unprepared oats in such a- position that it will pay the miller 43 x better to buy imported oats than to use the oats grown by our own people. We ought to be consistent, and impose a duty on this and other grains of the kind in contradistinction to what has been done in regard to wheat. Do not let us impose it with one hand and take it awa)’ with the other. Do not let us tell the growers of oats in Tasmania that we propose to give them a certain amount of taxation, and then by the way in which we treat them in this next item really take away the market which we otherwise should give them. Above all things let us avoid anomalies which are almost sure to create a feeling that injustice has been done, and which really operate to produce the very opposite effect to that which the majority of the committee have intended in dealing with these items generally. I hope that the committee will not press its request.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - I have said practically all that I wish to say about this matter, but I desire to point out that the anomaly in relation to hulled oats, to which Senator O’Connor has just referred, is due not to the request made by the Senate, but to the want of care with which the preceding lines in item 23 have been framed. It might have been included under the heading of “ Oatmeal, rolled oats,” and so on, or we might have had it in a line by itself. The reason that the anomaly exists is of course that it was not discovered until these gentlemen found it out, and indicated the fact in the letter which has been read. It seems to me that it would be a very strange proceeding to charge the same duty upon hulled oats, which are not oatmeal - and which, so to speak, are only half-way between the raw grain and the manufactured article - and upon flour. I see what the difficulty is, and if my honorable and learned friend will suggest that hulled oats be put into a new line, I shall assent to that being done. I should be sorry to see them admitted free of duty or at a lower rate than would be proper in view of the fact that the duty on oatmeal is½d. per lb. That would be unfair to the miller who manufactures oatmeal, and it would also be unfair to those who have to import oats, because this is a commodity which is betwixt and between. If my honorable and learned friend will suggest any way by which we can impose a duty on hulled oats I shall agree to it.
Senator PULSFORD (New South Wales). - I venture to think that the best way out of the difficulty would be to make the duty of1s. 6d. per cental apply only to wheaten flour. Undoubtedly that is the principal article which we desire to bring down to this level. I think that the others are of no great importance, and I am not sure that the item mentioned by Senator O’Connor is worth troubling about.
Question - That the request be not pressed - put. The committee divided.
Majority … … 4
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item 24. Hay and Chaff,1s. per cwt.
Senate’sRequest. - Add to special exemptions.
House of Representatives’ M essage. - Amendment not made.
That the request be not pressed.
I do not intend to repeat arguments which have already been used. I think that the committee is in possession of the merits of the question, but I wish to mention that the motion submitted in another place that the amendment requested by us be made was defeated by ten votes, while in this House the request was carried by only two votes. As we have to come to an agreement ultimately, and, as I said before, the sooner the agreement is arrived at the better it will be, I would ask honorable senators whether, considering the merits of this question, anything is to be gained by pressing our request. “Without going into the merits of the matter, I would point out that on. the grounds of protection, the equal distribution of the benefits of the Tariff, and every other ground, the duty should be allowed to stand.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales).The Vice-President of the Executive Council has requested the committee not to adhere to its request on the ground of the equal distribution of the benefits of the Tariff. Words like that when applied to the duties on fodder sound very strange to the ears of honorable senators from New South Wales.
– And especially coming from a New South Welshman at a time when it may safely be said that nine-tenths of New South Wales is struggling with a drought, the like of which no white man has ever seen here before.
– Are we making a Tariff for these exceptional times ?
– We are making a Tariff to ruin the people who are suffering.
– The duty will not “be of any avail in normal times.
– Exactly. The duty therefore can only be imposed for a time of extreme distress, such as the present. Had the Government shown some inclination to listen to the prayer for help, and to remit these duties at a time like this-
The ACTING CHAIRMAN.- I do not think I can allow the honorable senator to go into that matter ; it is really not relevant.
– Then I will say that if the Government had taken some course different from that which it has adopted in regard to these duties the request that we should give way might not have been unreasonable. Rut as the only chance which the representatives of New South Wales have to obtain some concession in this direction is by the adherence of the committee to its request, it is utterly impossible for any of us to adopt the attitude suggested by Senator O’Connor. Since the Senate last dealt with this matter, I have had an opportunity of travelling through many of the country districts of New South Wales, and I regret to say that in no single instance have I seen anything to justify me in supposing that the reports of the drought have been exaggerated. Indeed, everything proves the contrary. In spite of the temporary relief which the rain has given to a few districts, New South Wales is to-day in a more perilous position than she has ever been in. Not only is the condition of that State as I have described it, but I find that there is an intensely bitter feeling growing up as the result of the want of sympathy shown by theFederal Government. It is only a straw in the current of affairs, but it will not have escaped the attention of honorable senators that in the State Parliament last night, the Premier was asked whether he would take steps to secure the secession of the State from the Union.
– What did he say?
– The honorable and learned senator asks me what he said.
The ACTING CHAIRMAN.- I ask the honorable and learned senator whether he thinks this is relevant.
– I am endeavouring to submit evidence of the feeling in New South Wales upon this particular item. With all deference, I think I have a right, speaking for the electors of New South Wales, to show that they have pronounced very strongly upon this matter, and that
I, as oneof their representatives, cannot adopt the attitude which the Vice-President of the Executive Council asks me to adopt. Senator Drake has asked me what reply was given to the question to which I have referred. It is a significant thing that the Premier of New South Wales was not prepared straight off to say “No” to the question. He asked that the questioner should give notice of his question. Honorable senators may laugh, but they should recognise that the question is likely to become a very acute and very active one in New South Wales unless some larger measure of consideration is shown for that State than the Government are apparently prepared to concede. Without going further into the matter, I say that it is impossible for me, as a New South Wales representative, to do anything else but vote that v.his item should be placed upon the free list.
Senator Lt.-Col. NEILD (New South Wales). - I indorse every word that has fallen from my honorable colleague, Senator Millen. I do not know that the heart of New South Wales has ever been so deeply stirred, during the 40 years I have lived in that colony and State, over any one question as it is stirred to-day, and has been stirred for some time past in connexion with this question of the duties upon forage. Not only the great pastoral interest, but the dairying interest, and the cabmen and draymen feel the present strain. The cabman feels it very bitterly, because, while the price of feed for his horse or horses has been materially increased, his power’ of earning owing to the drought has been materially decreased. He is, unfortunately, hit on both sides, and he ought to be considered. Certainly draymen and cabmen cannot be classified under the heading of the great financial institutions we heard so much about in a recent debate upon this item. I very strongly reprehend the action of the Government in attempting to wring from those in peril and distress, and only at such times and only from such persons, the proposed tax which Senator O’Connor asks the committee to assent to. The honorable and learned senator knows perfectly well that this is a tax which can only fall upon my State in times of distress, of national calamity, and even of national peril. It is certainly not for such times and circumstances that any Parliament should regulate special taxation. This tax is valueless to the
Government in a time of prosperity, and is of use as a revenue collecting machine only in times of peril and distress. I speak perhaps warmly, but I am prepared to fight this matter to the last, and if I have to go down upon it, it shall be with the New South Wales colours at the fore.
Question - That the request be not pressed - put. The committee divided. .
Majority … … 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item 46. Rice, n.e.i., per cental, 6s.
Senate’srequest - That the duty be reduced to 5s. per cental.
House of Representatives’ Message. - Amendment not made.
That the request be not pressed.
In proportion to population, rice is used much more largely in Queensland than in any other State, because ofthe number of coloured aliens there. In the Northern Territory of South Australia a great quantity is used. Until rice is largely produced in Queensland; - and we hope that it will be by-and-by - there must be in that State, as in others, a large amount of revenue derived from its importation. In the six months extending from the 1st January to 30th June of thisyear - after a great portion of the overloading had been got rid of, and normal conditions restored - we collected in New South Wales, £6,020; in Victoria, £3,598; in Queensland, £16,126 ; in South Australia, £4,096 ; in Tasmania, £1,160, and in Western Australia, £2,728, showing an enormous consumption of the article in Queensland, as compared with other States. It is undoubted that if the duty is reduced by ls. per cental, the revenue will be diminished all round. No more rice will be imported by reason of the reduction of the duty, because for a long time to come it must be imported. The consumption of the article will not be increased by a reduction of the duty, but a very large sum will be lost to the revenue. , In the case of Queensland the loss to the revenue would be at least £5,400 per annum, and proportionately the same in the other States. From the standpoint of the Commonwealth revenue that is a very serious consideration. The States are equally interested in ‘the preservation of this revenue. If the duty is reduced by ls. the ‘margin to the rice-cleaners will be reduced from 2s. to ls. net. This is unjustifiable. The rice-cleaning industry is certainly one which eight to be regarded. If we can preserve revenue, and, at the same time, give an additional amount of protection to the rice-cleaners, it ought to be done. Considering how this question has been thrashed out in both Houses, I submit that the time has now come when the committee might very well abandon its request.
– In the temporary absence of Senator Symon I have to ask the committee to oppose this motion. Our request was disagreed to by a small majority of three in a House of 76 members; while it was carried here by a majority considerably in excess of that number. The printed paper which has been circulated shows that, while rice was free in New South Wales and Western Australia, it was subject to a duty of 3s. pei- cwt. in South Australia ; Id. per lb. in Tasmania and Queensland, and 6s. and 4s. per cental in Victoria. Senator O’Connor was quite correct in stating that, whereas under a duty of 6s. per cental the margin to the cleaners is ls. 10d., under a duty of 5s. per cental it would be reduced to 1 s. He has stated that, in his opinion, a margin of ls. per cental is not sufficient. That is a matter upon which we may fairly differ. The inquiries I have made lead me to think that it is quite sufficient, bearing in mind that what is called the refuse is worth about £4 per ton. All through the discussions on the Tariff we have been told of the inability of various manufacturers to carry on if the duties were reduced. I must confess that the longer the consideration of the Tariff is prolonged,’ and the more opportunities I have to look, into these questions, the more doubtful I am as to the accuracy of those statements .on the part of the manufacturers. There are some most glaring inconsistencies in their statements. I may refer, in passing, to the woollen factories, which were to be ruined when the duty was reduced to 30 per cent., but which, with a protection of 15 per cent., are better off than ever they were. It will be recollected that when the rice and starch duties were being considered, a circular letter by Mr. T. A. Lewis, of the firm of Lewis and Whitty, was quoted by an honorable senator. I have no doubt that it affected the votes of more than one honorable senator. It affected my vote, because I knew the writer. After it was received by me, I sent to Mr. Lewis and went into the matter with him, and he assured me, from his personal knowledge, that the statements it contained were absolutely, correct. The letter, which is dated 8th May, reads as follows : -
So much has been said in the House of Repre sentatives upon the “starch” question that is not in accordance with facts, that I think it advisable to acquaint you with some particulars that justify the continuance of the present duty and also the removal of the excise, and thereby, to a great extent, equalize the conditions of the Australian starch manufacture with the English and continental makers.
I had exceptional opportunities when visiting the works of Messrs. Colman, at Norwich, of ascertaining particulars not generally known in connexion with their works. The information was direct and personal.
They pay their men 12s. a week, provide them with a house to live in, with a little land about it for which they charge 2s. per week, leaving a net balance of 10s. for their services. They work ten hours a day, and if after such working they have the inclination to cultivate the soil about their houses, the firm undertakes to find a market for the produce. The education of the children is also undertaken by the firm, the parents paying 2d. per week for one ‘ child, 2d. per week where there are two, and 3d. per week for three, or equal to Id: each child weekly. The conditions existing here, so’ far as ourselves are concerned, are as follow : - We pay the men doing the same work from 36s. to £2 2s. per week : they work eight hours a day. We think this comparison will serve the purpose so far that it will indicate how we are handicapped on the question of wages alone. There are further particulars, which I shall be very pleased to enter into at the interview you were good enough to promise on Monday next.
At that interview Mr. Lewis confirmed all that he had stated ia his letter, and gave me further information in the same direction. I told him that the information was such as surprised me, and subsequently I thought that the best thing I could do was to send a letter to my partner, Mr. Ewen, in London, asking him to submit to Messrs. Colman the letter of Mr. Lewis, and hear what they had to say. A mail or two ago I received the reply, which they sent to Mr. Ewen on the 7th July, and which reads as follows : -
In reply to your favour of the 4th instant, we beg to inform you that, whilst it is somewhat unusual to receive an inquiry concerning that which, after all, is a purely private matter affecting the conduct of our business, the statements of your correspondent are so absolutely inaccurate, notwithstanding the assertion that his information was obtained “direct and personal,” that our directors desire to reply to your courteous communication in the same spirit as that which inspired it.
The current wage of our starch labourers-, instead of being 12s., as stated by Mr. F. A. Lewis, is 23s. per week ; foremen, fitters, engineers, skilled workmen, and others of course obtaining a much higher rate of pay. Their averagehours are not more than 58 per week, and are frequently less when the nature of the work permits. In addition, our directors provide a pension scheme, which enables our hands to retire at 65 years of age on a life pension of 8s. per week, irrespective of a further 2s. per week arising from the pensioner’s own contribution of 2d. per week, upon which compound interest has been allowed by the company, and which is always the property of the employe. This scheme alone involves an expense of many thousands of pounds per annum.
Your correspondent refers to education. The directors encouraged the education of the children of the workpeople long before the passing of the Education Act of 1870 at a large annual expense, which the nominal charge made was wholly inadequate to discharge. Only quite recently did the company surrender its’ schools to the board in order that the children might be brought into line with the system of education nationally adopted. Thrift is encouraged by the creation of savings banks and sick clubs, all of which are carried on at a large expense to the company. The costs of manufacture are dependent upon many things. Besides the cost of labour there are the rates and taxes, the price of raw materials such as coal, carriage, all so varied and farreaching in effect as to require, as we informed another correspondent, an economic treatise to deal with them.
Yourcorrespondent’s statements as to rents and allotments are as misleading as are his statements respecting costs of labour. But few of the many hundreds of bands are tenants of the company, and a still fewer number are allotment holders, and no attempt is made, as your correspondent asserts, to relieve such holders of their produce.
We do not desire to refer to other heavy expenses incurred to benefit and improve the social status of our workpeople involving a vey large annual outlay, as we think we have said sufficient to prove that whenall these matters are actuarially valued, the disparity in wages, the existence of which your correspondent tried to prove, almost if not entirely disappears.
Your correspondent should be made to realize that any attempts to influence legislation must be based on facts, and not on such inaccurate statements as those made to Sir Frederick Sargood, and for this reason we have much pleasure in supplying you with the information herein contained.
We have no record of a visit being paid to these works by Mr. Lewis. Would Sir F. Sargood oblige us by ascertaining the date when the alleged visit took place?
On receipt of this letter I communicated with Mr. Lewis, and he came to see me. I read this letter to him, and gave him a copy of it, and he then, for the first time, stated that it was thirteen years ago when he visited the works of Messrs. ‘Colman. I asked him why, in his circular to members of the Senate, he did not mention that fact, and I must confess that his reply was not by any means satisfactory. As the letter of Mr. Lewis was circulated amongst honorable senators, I thought it only fair to the committee and to Messrs. Colman to read their reply also. I have done so. I may also state that quotations were made at the same time with regard to the fact that Messrs. Colman supplied their starch at a higher price to buyers at home than the price at which they are prepared to sell it for export. I need hardly say to those who know anything of business that that is not an unusual thing. The export business is an extra business, which a firm can afford to do at a lower price. But Messrs. Colman also take exception to that statement, and they say that the difference is simply caused by the fact that at home they supply their goods on such terms that they have to pay all the expenses of delivery, and that accounts for the variance in price.
Senator STYLES (Victoria).- As my name has been introduced into this discussion - not by Sir Frederick Sargood, who has dealt with the subject, as he does with every subject, in a gentlemanly way : as my honorable friend, the Opposition whip, has interjected that I read the letter from Mr. Lewis - I desire to say a few words. It is true that I read the letter, but it is also true that every member of the committee at that time had a copy of it. Therefore the fact of my reading it cannot have influenced the committee in regard to their decision. If I had not read it aloud, it cannot be doubted that some other honorable senator would have done so. It may be remembered that I was the third member of the committee who took part in the debate upon the starch question - that is to say, I spoke after the VicePresident of the Executive Council and the leader of the Opposition had addressed the committee. Had I intervened a little later in the debate, probably some one else would have read the letter. Probably Senator Sargood himself might have done so. After I had read. the letter, Senator Symon interjected -
The honorable senator does not accept the statement as to Colman’s, does he ?
Then the following passage occurred : -
– I should not.
– I have no reason to think that Messrs. Lewis and Whitty would put their names to a deliberate untruth.
– It looks uncommonly like it.
– Their statement may be unbrue, but I do not think it is. If I thought this letter were untrue I would throw it into the waste- paper basket.
– Hear, hear.
There is another phase of this question to which Senator Sargood has not referred. By permission of the committee I will read a letter which was published by Messrs James Service and Co., who are the agents for Messrs. Colman in Melbourne. This letter appeared in the Argus on the 31st of last month : -
On 6th June lust, on a motion in the Senate by Sir Josiah Symon that a recommendation be made to the House of Representatives that the duty on starch should be reduced from 2d. to l½d. per lb., Senator Styles, in opposing the motion, argued that it was unfair to make this reduction, because manufacturers of starch were paid high wages, while an English firm like Messrs. J. and J. Colman Limited only paid their workmen 12s. a week, supplying them with a house, for which they charged 2s per week. In support of his statement, he read a letter from Mr. Lewis, of Messrs Lewis and Whitty, as his authority.
We at once forwarded to Messrs. J. and J. Colman a Hansard copy of the debate, and are just in receipt of a cable from them, announcing that the statement made is “absolutely untrue,” and requesting us to make this information public, and that they are sending us full particulars by post.
I should also like to direct attention to Mr. Lewis reply to that letter. It is only fair that some one should speak on behalf of M.r. Lewis, and as I have taken an active part in the discussion I will do so.
I may mention that I have never seen Mr. Lewis in my life, to the best of my knowledge. From this letter the committee will see that Mr. Lewis takes the whole responsibility upon himself. He says, in a letter to the Argus, on the 1st August -
A letter appears in to-day’s issue from Messrs. James Service and Co., as agents for Messrs. J. and J. Colman, denying the truth of the statement furnished by Senator Styles respecting the remuneration paidby Messrs. J. and J. Colman to their workmen. As the author of the statement I wish to say that the information was imparted to me personally, and unsolicited, at their works, Norwich, by one in authority, and whose position enabled him to be familiar with the conditions existing at that period, now some thirteen years ago.
I am very pleased to hear that circumstances have improved, and wait with pleasure the promised particulars.
Yours, &e. ,
Those promised particulars have not reached Melbourne yet, so far as I am aware.
– Oh, yes ! these are they. I have given a copy of this letter to Mr. Lewis.
– Does that letter come through Messrs. James Service and Co.?
– No : it has come direct to me.
– I understand that the promised particulars have not been sent to Messrs. Colman’s agents 1
– Yes; a copy of this letter was sent to Messrs. James Service and Co.
– Messrs. Service’s letter refers to particulars which were to be sent to them.
– These are they.
– But I understand that the letter which Senator Sargood read comes from his partner.
– Yes; and Messrs. Colman have sent a copy of this letter to Messrs. Service and Co.
– My point is, that Mr. Lewis has not yet been supplied with the particulars promised by Messrs. Service and Co., which they said they were getting out.
– Those particulars are just the same as I have given, and, as I have mentioned, Mr. Lewis has had a copy.
– And he has not appearedin print on the subject since?
– Ex- actly.
– If that be so, and if Mr. Lewis is satisfied that this statement came from Messrs. Colman - and I do not doubt it - and has not seen fit to reply through the press, I shall consider that he regards himself as being in fault. If he regards a copy of that letter as being a statement of the particulars promised to be furnished to Messrs. Service and Co. by Messrs. Colman, and he has not seen fit to reply, the fault is his. I thank Senator Sargood for the nice way in which he put the matter, and I repeat that I read the letter - as any honorable senator might have done in my place - because I happened to be the first speaker who had an opportunity of quoting it. I may also remark that in the course of the same debate Senator Higgs said -
I think we have every reason to believe the statements made in the letter quoted bv Senator Styles. ‘
If Senator Higgs believed that he would have read the letter if I had not done so. I will now leave the matter for Mr. Lewis to make a reply, seeing that he furnished every member of this Chamber with a copy of the letter which I quoted. In fact, it was a circular letter.
– I did not receive a copy.
-I am aware that Senator Sargood said that he had received a 6opy of the letter, and had sent it home to his house in order to ascertain the facts.
– Senator O’Connor has asked the committee not to insist upon its request in regard to this item on account ofthe revenue. It is upon the ground of revenue itself that the committee a month or two ago agreed to the request of the House of Representatives by a very substantial majority. Senator O’Connor has correctly stated the difference between the duty on uncleaned rice and that on cleaned rice. The actual difference is really 2s. But the position is this. Up to the present time there has been no rice-cleaning anywhere in Australia, except in Victoria, and with the exception of this State, most of the rice that has been imported into Australia has been cleaned. On that rice the Customs have been able to collect a duty of 6s. per cental, which revenue has gone to the service of the public. If this system of cleaning in bond is to be encouraged in the way suggested, away goes a considerable amount of that revenue. It has been shown by a good deal of evidence, in the most conclusive manner, that the cost of cleaning rice is comparatively small. I think it has been accepted as being about 15s. a ton. The consumption of rice in Australia is at least 15,000 tons or more. Are we to give away £30,000 or £40,000 a year of public revenue in order that a few thousand pounds may be spent in cleaning rice ? According to the Tariff proposals before us the cleaners of rice are to be allowed an enormous payment. I do not know whether honorable senators quite grasp how serious the position is. It is worth knowing that in the other House the request made by the Senate was very nearly being agreed to. The majority by which the Government succeeded in inducing the House to refuse our request was only three. So that it is quite clear that the House of Representatives as a whole is very much impressed with the solidity of the request which has been made by the Senate, and I entertain very little doubt that they will very soon see their way clear to accept the request which we make. As it is, I think the proposal of the Government is one of the grossest pieces of - I will not say corruption, but of outrageous waste of the money of the public which I have ever known. In these times, when all the Australian Parliaments are being called upon to exercise economy, surely we cannot accept a piece of extravagance like this. It is practically the same as if the money were taken out of the pockets of the people and deliberately thrown away, save that money willbe taken out of the pockets of the people as a whole and retained by certain persons. Surely we cannot allow the people to be robbed in this extravagant fashion. I hope the committee will unhesitatingly affirm this request.
– I wish to point out to the Vice-President of the Executive Council that he has fallen into exactly the same error invo which he fell when we were discussing this item on a previous occasion, by assuming that if the duty were increased we should obtain more revenue. Nothing is more contrary to the fact. As a matter of fact, the revenue that every State - even the State in which rice cleaning is carried on - will receive must depend entirely upon the duty which is imposed on uncleaned rice unless, of course, any State imports a large quantity of cleaned rice.
– The honorable and learned senator knows that the great bulk of the rice used in Queensland by Orientals is imported cleaned. They will not have the rice which is cleaned here.
– I did not know it before, but I know what goes on in the more normal States.
-It was shown on a former occasion by Senator Pearce that there is more rice consumed in Western Australia than in Queensland, where there is a great influx of Chinese.
– The revenue returns absolutely contradict that assertion.
– I remember that Senator O’Connor’s argument was entirely exploded by Senator Pearce. I will say that the honorable and learned senator has properly accounted for Queensland, but apart from that it is apparent that if we allow a large margin between the duty on uncleaned rice, and that on cleaned rice, the revenue will depend undoubtedly upon the quantity of uncleaned rice that is imported. If we fix a heavy duty on cleaned rice, nearly all the rice consumed in the Commonwealth will be cleaned locally, and we shall have to depend entirely for our revenue on the duty on uncleaned rice. If, on the other hand’, as honorable senators on this side suggest, the margin is made a reasonable one - if we say that a margin of 1s.8d. per cental is abundant to the man who wants to clean rice here - we may hope that, without doing much harm to the great local industry of rice cleaning, some of the States that want revenue will obtain it. It is the bounden duty of every honorable senator who wishes, as the Vice-President of the Executive Council apparently does, to see revenue obtained, to vote for a duty of 5s. per cental in accordance with our request rather than for a duty of 6s. per cental as fixed in the Tariff. When we went into this question on a former occasion a great many of us thought that the demand for revenue was a fair one, and an attempt was made by Senator Higgs to increase the duty on uncleaned rice. That proposal met with opposition from several honorable senators, and we decided ultimately, by a majority of 6, that the House of Representatives should berequested to fix the duty on cleaned rice at 5s. per cental. I venture to say, without hesitation, that what induced most honorable senators to vote for thatrate of duty was the consideration of revenue. Yet we hear the VicePresident of the Executive Council falling into the same old trap, and saying that if we want more revenue we should fix the duty at 6s. I do not believe there is an honorable senator who does not recognise the fact that if we want more revenue we should adhere to our request; A margin of1s.8d. is abundant, the demand for revenue is fair, and a duty of 5s. is very necessary.
– I should like to correct the misapprehension under which Senator Clemons seems to labour as to the amount of protection afforded the rice cleaning industry. The duty on uncleaned rice is 3s. 4d a cental. It was admitted on a former occasion, that allowance has to be made for 17 per cent, of dirt, and that brings up the duty on the actual quantity of rice to be cleaned to something like 4s ; that is to say, we have to add8d. to the duty of 3s. 4d., before we get to the actual rice to be cleaned. Therefore, the protection would not be1s. 8d., as the honorable and learned senator has said, but1s.
– The protection is really1s.8d. per cental. The loss is made in cleaning the rice.
– We have to allow Sd. per cental for the dirt, before we can make our comparisons. Having added the Sd., we get the duty on uncleaned rice at 4s. per cental, so that the difference between us is whether the margin should be 2s. or1s.
– That is so far as the cleaning is concerned, and excepting of course the bye products.
– I have heard nothing to show that the duty which we claim to be necessary is not the lowest which should be given. I appeal to those honorable senators who wish to see the revenue of the different States maintained to have some regard to the case of Queensland. There has been no attempt to answer what I said in regard to it. Senator Clemons says that with this duty the rice which is consumed here will be cleaned locally. Assuming that that may be so to a certain extent, so far as the other States are concerned, we know by experience that it will not be the case in regard to the States in which a large number of Orientals have to be fed, because they obtain their rice from their own country, and will not have any other.
– That is only a small matter.
– Will the honorable senator try to realize what the difference is between the importations into Queensland and the other States 1 In Queensland the revenue obtained from this source amounted to £16,126, as against £6,020 in New South Wales. Considering the disparity in the population, that shows an enormous difference in the consumption of rice in the two States. A large number of the Orientals in Queensland obtain their food from the Chinese and Japanese firms who import their rice, cleaned, from their own countries. That is why there is such a large quantity of cleaned rice imported into Queensland as compared with that imported into the other States. I say that honorable senators opposite are proposing to deliberately throw away £5,400 of Queensland’s revenue, to throw away the revenue of the other States, and to diminish the protection proposed to be given to the rice cleaner. In addition to that they are taking up a position which will make it more difficult to agree with another place. There is no justification for such an attitude, and I hope the committee will see the reasonableness of coming to the conclusion that this request should not be pressed.
– It is certainly refreshing to hear oncemore the old, fallacious arguments which were dished up for us upon a previous occasion. They are extremely threadbare, and daylight is easily seen through them. The history of the position is this : Under the Tariff as it came to us uncleaned rice was subject to a dutv .of 3s. 4d. per cental, while the duty on cleaned rice was 6s. per cental. That gave a difference of 2s: 8d. per cental in favour, of the gentlemen employing two or three boys in rice-cleaning. If honorable senators will casually glance at the Hansard .report of the former debate, which was a very long one, they will find that it was admitted on all hands that Sd. was a very fair amount to allow in respect of the waste before any profit can go into “the pockets of the cleaner from this difference in duties. I regarded it as extravagant, but we were willing to accept it as a very fair compromise of what we might say was the waste. In Victoria, the duties were 4s. and 6s. The duty of 3s. 4d. per cental upon the uncleaned article was below the old Victorian rate, but the duty on cleaned rice was left as it was in Victoria. That was the position when, after I had withdrawn my amendment to reduce the duty of 6s. to 5s. per cental, so as to aid the revenue, Senator Higgs moved to increase the duty upon the uncleaned article to 5s. 3d. per cental, for the sake of giving additional protection to the grower of rice in Queensland. That proposal was negatived, and then my proposition that the House of Representatives should be requested to reduce the duty on cleaned rice to 5s. per cental was carried by a majority of six. The records of another place show that our proposal was rejected by the narrow majority of three, which was only half that which we had in favour of reducing the duty to 5s. per cental. I quite agree with Senator O’Connor, that it is perfectly fair to look at the records on both sides. What is the inference to be drawn from what I have stated 1 It is,’ that whatever the records may show as to the feeling in another place when the duty of 6s. per cental was originally adopted, the House of Representatives have largely> come to the opinion conveyed in our message that 5s. per cental is a very fair thing. But what is the difference 1 As a matter of protection to this gigantic industry of cleaning rice, the difference is only 4d. less than that given to the cleaner under the old Victorian Tariff. It must be remembered that the Victorian cleaner has now the whole of Australia to look to for compensation, whereas before he was restricted to the* markets of Victoria, And possibly of free-trade New South Wales, while all the other States had barriers erected against him. Is not that a reason for thinking that the request of the Senate is a very fair one? Senator O’Connor asks what it represents. When it is put at so much a cental, and the amount is stated at ls., it appears to be but a small sum, but it is equivalent to £1 per ton, and rice is cleaned, not by the pound weight or the cwt., but by the ton. So that after allowing 8d. per cental, irrespective of waste, we propose to give a clear protection of £1 net per ton to the gentleman who employs a few boys in the cleaning of rice. We discussed the matter before from the revenue point of view, and I fail to
I understand how my honorable and learned friend can tell the committee- that the request we make, if adopted, is likely to reduce the revenue. If it will not be an inducement to people to clean rice here, what sort of rice will be imported ? Cleaned rice. What sort of rice pays the highest duty? Cleaned rice. It is less in quantity also, because I understand that no rebate is allowed in respect of the waste. The effect of the proposal will be that we shall have a much larger importation of the cleaned rice which pays duty at the rate of 5s. per cental, and a smaller importation of the uncleaned article paying duty at only 3s. 4d. per cental. Surely that will be for the benefit of the revenue. Honorable senators will see that the reduction of the duty from 6s. to 5s. was moved in the first instance from a revenue point of view, and at the same time with a view not to deal harshly with those engaged in this industry. We leave them the benefit of a protection of £1 net per ton, and the waste product which in the form of vice flour is of considerable market value. All these matters were gone into in the course of tin exhaustive debate, with the result that from the point of view of revenue and of an adequate measure of protection, the Senate carried its request by a majority of six. I feel certain that the House of Representatives will acquiesce in the request, if by pressing it we respectfully ask them to reconsider the matter.
– I regret that I have to renew the appeal on behalf of Queensland. If honorable senators will refer to pages 110 and 111 of the Q’ueensland Statistics, they will find that during the year 1901 there were imported into Queensland some 7,623,903 lbs. of rice, valued at £43,783, and providing a revenue from customs taxation of £28,532 12s. Id. This rice was imported f rpm a number of places - £474 worth from the Straits Settlement, £509 from India, £14,338 from Japan, £27,406 from China, and £1,056 from Siam. We have in Queensland certain lands which .are eminently suited for the production of rice, but if honorable senators absolutely destroy our protection, farmers will give up the cultivation of the article. We had in that State a duty upon rice of no less than 8s. 4d. per cental. The protectionists and freetraders in the House of Representatives saw fit to agree to a compromise in this matter and fixed the duty at 6s! per cental. Now honorable senators who profess to be revenuetariffists propose that the duty should be further reduced to 5s.
– It is the duty upon the uncleaned rice which is the basis of protection, and not the duty upon the cleaned rice.
– It would have been better to have raised the duty on uncleaned rice, but in any case Queensland would have lost revenue.
– Senator Pulsford must have made a mistake. For the moment, the honorable senator is under the impression that rice is one of the important ingredients in the preparation of the list of edibles I mentioned some time ago as appearing prominently on banqueting menu cards. There may be a little rice powder used in the custards, but the plain ordinary rice rarely finds any place in company with the highclass wines, muscatels, cigars, and so forth. What we desire is to give encouragement to the farmers of the Commonwealth ..who cultivate rice, and we desire also to tax, so -far as we can, the 80,000 or more coloured aliens, distributed throughout the Commonwealth, who pay no taxation whatever.
– We had a double duty on rice in the Northern Territory in order to get at the Chinese.
– No ; but because there were so few things subject to taxation there.
– The great importing industry represented by Senator Pulsford, with special attention to bottled beer, is not likely to be greatly advantaged by the proposed reduction in the duty. From China there comes some £27,000 worth of rice into Queensland in the year, but, as has been pointed out, that 17Ce iS brought into Queensland mainly by the Chinese importers in that State.
– What kind of rice do they import ?
– I do not happen to be well informed upon that question, but I understand that while they import all kinds of rice they chiefly import cleaned rice. However, there is the fact that in Queensland there are some 23,000 coloured aliens, and there are some 80,000 of them in the Commonwealth as a whole, who live in the poorest possible homes. They never patronise the carpenter, and I wonder that Senator Pearce has overlooked that for the moment. They just erect four posts, and patch them up with kerosene tins, old bags, and so forth, and they live on the poorest diet, consisting mainly of rice. If I proposed to get at these gentlemen in another way by the imposition of a poll-tax, honorable senators would not support me, but surely they will agree that the expense of the government of the Commonwealth should be to some extent borne by the coloured aliens who are within it? There is no other way of compelling them to pay towards the cost of government. If there is, I hope honorable senators will point it out. We have no other means of getting at the vast hordes of Hindoos who are making their way intoQueensland now and cutting out white men at a ridiculously low rate of wages.
– When they get a little money they clear out.
– As the honorable senator says, when they get a little money they either go back to India or they send for some of their relations to come and assist them in the destructive work which they are carrying on. They are neither good for the Common wealth as a Commonwealth, nor for the individual members of the community. If they would live as we try to live, and if they tried to bring up decent families and educate them, and make good citizens of them it would be all right. But they come to this country, and as a rule do not bring their wives with them, and they are a menace to our civilization. Our Immigration Restriction Act will not deal with them, because they are already here.
The ACTING CHAIRMAN. - The honorable senator can only allude to those matters by way of illustration, and I think he has proceeded far enough in that direction.
– I confess that I have taken some time to illustrate the point, but it appeared to me to be necessary. Senator Pulsford, I know, regards the Hindoo coloured alien as his long lost brother, and is anxious to receive him with open arms.
The ACTING CHAIRMAN.- The honorable senator must see that that statement is not relevant.
– I withdraw the statement. Senator Pulsford, with other; revenuetariffists, is very anxious that this duty should be reduced, but when an opportunity is afforded to raise revenue, the honorable senator refuses to avail himself of it. I again urge, on behalf of the Queensland farmer, and on behalf of the Queensland Treasurer, who is very hard up for money just now, that the committee should not attempt to deprive that State of some thousands of pounds of revenue each year. Honorable senators profess to desire to be fair to each of the States, and yet they are here makinganother attack upon Queensland. I urge them not to create trouble over a difference between 6s. and 5s. per cental duty upon rice. The fact that the proposed duty of 6s. per cental was a compromise in the other Chamber appears to have been overlooked by those who oppose the motion submitted by Senator O’Connor. In view of the fact that it is the result of a compromise, we can have no hope that our requests will be agreed to by the other Chamber. Honorable senators, therefore, may as well cease this trifling method of procedure, and let us get on to something solid like agricultural machinery.
Question - That the request be not pressed - put. The committee divided.
Majority … … 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item 58. Apparel and attire and articles, n.e.i. : - Woollen or silk, or containing wool or silk partly or wholly made up (not being piece goods), including articles cut into shape, ad valorem, 25 per cent.
Senate’s Request. - That the duty bo reduced to 20 per cent., ad valorem.
House of Representatives’ Message. - Amendment not made.
That the request be not pressed.
As this question was thrashed out on a previous occasion, I do not propose to do much more than to point out that a reduction of the duty to 20 per cent,will leave nly a 5 per cent, margin of protection in regard to a large number of articles which are manufactured here. In view of the fact that the dutyon woollen and silk material is 15 per cent., it was not intended that there should be a margin of only 5 per cent, in favour of the local manufacturer. “When it is compared with the margins which have been left in other cases the disproportion becomes all the more’ evident. In the case of hats and caps the Senate has agreed to a duty of 25 per cent, on the manufactured article, and a duty of 15 per cent, on the material. In the case of boots and shoes it has agreed to a duty of 30 per cent, on the manufactured article, and a duty of 15 per cent, on the material. In the case of stationery it has agreed to a duty of 25 per cent, on the manufactured article, and a duty of 15 per cent, on the paper. In the case of jewellery it has agreed to a duty of 25 per cent, on the finished product, and a duty of 15 per cent, on the partly-manufactured article. In those four cases, not to mention others, there is a margin of from 10 to 15 per cent. Yet in the case of an industry which employs a large number of persons the margin has been cut down to 5 per cent. I shall not go into the question of the number of the employes, or any details of that kind, but it is well known that the manufacture of apparel involves, not only the employment of a very large number of persons, but also the use of material grown by our own people. “Whether it is considered from the point of view of the natural products of the soil, which are worked up by our own people into clothes for local consumption, or whether regard is only had to the working up of imported material, it is equally important that the protection should be something real. It is utterly fallacious and misleading for honorable senators to tell the people of the Commonwealth that they are adhering to their requests because they wish to continue the pretection to existing industries, and at the same time to cut it clown to such an amount that no advantage is given. These arguments must occur to anybody who considers the matter merely on its merits. We have reached a position in which very large interests are involved. We have the twiceexpressed opinion of the other House that the duty of 25 per cent, should be adhered to. We have to look to the future. We have to see what chances there are of coming to a settlement. I ask honorable senators whether, considering the margin of protection which is left, there is the least chance of their request being finally agreed to. The more easily they come to an agreement now, the more speedily will Australia be in the position of having a settled fiscal policy, and not until then. I hope that honorable senators will see the necessity of looking at the matter from a point of view different from their previous one. If the new element is not considered, I hope that the responsibility for the difficulties, and the consequences to Australia and to the mercantile community, will rest upon the proper shoulders.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - I hope that the committee will adhere to its request. I feel, with Senator O’Connor, that the whole matter was very exhaustively gone into from every point of view on a previous occasion, and no speech was then delivered which was more packed with facts, figures, and arguments than was that delivered bv Senator Pearce in answering every point urged by the honorable and learned senator, from the position of the manufacturer, the number of people employed, and the effect of the reduction of the duty to 20 per cent. In order to verify my memory, I have referred to the speech Of Senator Pearce, who said -
That 5 per cent, is ample is shown by the report of the Tariff Board of Victoria, by the evidence of the manufacturers, and by the experi ence of Western Australia, where, with the same protection, we have as many per head of the population engaged in this industry as’ there are in the Eastern States.
My honorable friend’s speech absolutely pulverized the arguments against the maintenance of this high rate of duty on the common articles, which are generally known as slop clothing, and which are more largely used by the poorer people than by any other section. As he dealt so exhaustively and conclusively with that subject, I do not propose to say another word about it. But I propose to say a few words as to the position which Senator O’Connor has suggested in regard to the future. There are no persons, I am sure, who are more deeply sensible than are my honorable friends on this side and myself of the . desirability of bringing this matter to a settlement at the earliest possible moment.
Senator PULSFORD (New South- Wales). -There is one remark I should like to make with regard to the menancing attitude of Senator O’Connor in reference to the position of the House of Representatives. I would point out that nearly all the majorities in the other House have been smaller than the number of Ministers who voted. Consequently the Government have it in their own hands at any moment they choose to settle these matters with the Senate. In nearly every one of the divisions which took place in the other House, the whole of the votes of the six Ministers were recorded. Take this particular request. It was refused by a majority of five after the votes of the six Ministers had been included. Senator O’Connor was not quite correct in saying that there was only 5 per cent, protection left by these duties. It is quite true that there is only a difference of 5 between 15 and 20. But suppose you have £1,000 worth of cloth. That would be subject to a 15 per cent, duty, and would pay £1 65. But £1,000 worth of cloth made up into clothing will represent a great deal more in value. Say it means £1,500 worth of clothing. That amount of clothing coming in would pay the 20 per cent, on the full £1,500 worth, or a total of £330. So that the protection is really the difference between the money that is paid
On the clothing and the money paid on the cloth. “ Consequently, instead of there being 5 per cent, protection, there would be 10 per cent. There would be still more protection if the £1,000 worth of cloth made more than £1,500 worth of clothing. In view of these acts I trust that the committee will adhere to their previous request.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council has stated that a margin of 5 per cent, is not sufficient for this class of goods. I think I may fairly claim to know something about this branch of trade. In New Zealand the margin has been 5 per cent, for many years, and a larger proportion of apparel of all kinds is made up there in proportion to population than in Victoria. I may add, further, that the wages paid in New Zealand are better than those paid in Victoria. These are facts for which I can vouch as being absolutely correct. But there is another matter to which I should like to call attention. We have now finished the first six months under this Tariff’, and, as far as concerns my own branch of commerce, I have had the results taken out. I think it may interest the committee to know what they are ; I am certain that it will interest the public outside. It was stated at the time of the introduction of the Tariff, and previously, that the high Tariff of Victoria was not to be followed oh the one hand, nor the low Tariff of New South
Wales on the other. The results I shall quote will be for softgoods, such as are not used by the higher classes, but by the labourer, the artisan, the clerk, the middleman, and the farmer. The result for six months, comparing the old Victorian Tariff with the new Tariff, is that, taking all these classes of goods, the increase is 6 per cent, all round. That 6 per cent, by the time the goods reach the consumer amounts to fully 10 per cent. Take, ‘for instance, womens’ dresses. The increase of duty there amounts to 15 per cent. In future, therefore, a woman will have to pay close on 22-^ per cent, on everything she buys in the way of dress, or the other result will follow, namely, that the quality of the goods will have to be reduced. I could also give other particulars dealing with the same facts, but I think that what I have said is sufficient to show that there is an increase of at least 6 per cent, over the old high Victorian Tariff. That was not what any one expected would be the result of the first Federal Tariff. It was expected that there would be a Tariff lower than the old Victorian Tariff, but, of course, considerably higher than the New South Wales Tariff. Coming back again to the item before the committee, I unhesitatingly say that a margin of 5 per cent, is ample, and that there is not the slightest difficulty about conducting and increasing the manufacture of apparel from colonial piece goods with that margin. I state what has been my own experience for 30 years in New Zealand, where not only is there a larger proportion of local stuff made up according to population, but, in addition, better wages are paid.
Senator MACFARLANE (Tasmania).I was very much surprised at the way in which the Vice-President of the Executive Council met us yesterday. He told us that we ought to be very much pleased if we got a fourth of what we had asked from the other place regarding one small item. He has talked about our responsibilities. I should like to remind him of the responsibilities we owe to the people of this Commonwealth. We, on this side of the Chamber, represent a majority »of the people of the Commonwealth. I have been to the trouble of going through the’ votes given for honorable senators, as shown in the return placed before the House, and I find that, taking New South Wales and Victoria alone, out of 636,000 votes polled there are some 450,000 in favour of our contentions.
– On a point of order, I submit that the remarks of the honorable senator are not in order. If we are going into a discussion of this sort, and are to enter upon the consideration of which side represents Australia and which does not, there will be no end to this discussion. The remarks of the honorable senator have nothing whatever to do with the item. If we do not keep to the item under discussion, we shall never get through with our business.
– On the point of order, I think that myhonorable and learned friend is very touchy, and very narrow in the view he takes. He has referred to shifting responsibility on to the right shoulders. My honorable friend, Senator Macfarlane, is surely right in showing that that responsibility, as represented on this side of the Chamber, will be on the shoulders of the majority of the people of the Commonwealth. If the Vice-President of the Executive Council makes a charge of that kind, surely an honorable senator can reply to it.
– Is the honorable and learned senator serious in that argument ?
– I do not think that my honorable and learned friend can be serious in raising such a point of order. If a question is raised as to which shoulders the responsibility rests upon, Senator Macfarlane is surely entitled to show what are the facts.
The ACTING CHAIRMAN. - It seems to me that as both sides throughout the debate have referred to the number of votes recorded in divisions in the other House, and as that has been allowed, I cannot say that Senator Macfarlane is out of order in quoting the numbers of the electors behind those majorities.
– In Victoria 95,979 votes were given to what I take were the free-trade candidates.
– Give us the names.
– Senator Fraser and Senator Sargood are the only two I have included.
– Senator Fraser is not a free-trader.
– Senator Sargood is a protectionist.
– I am willing to take away the 50,000 votes which were cast for Senator Fraser, and still there is over 400,000 free-trade votes in New South Wales and Victoria. These are not my own figures. At all events, I think that, out of 1,160,767 votes recorded in the Commonwealth, 657,600 were cast in favour of a low Tariff.
– On what side have you put Senator Dobson?
– I havetaken his 1,568 primary votes as those of freetraders. I do not think it is necessary to read out all the names, for I have met all the points that required to be put. If we take away the 50,512 votes cast for Senator Fraser, we have still over 400,000 left as the total free-trade vote in New South Wales and Victoria.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland).- The observations made by Senator Macfarlane with regard to these figures, which have been taken from the free-trade organ - the Argus - rest upon fallacious grounds. In view of the declarations of the Age, it is absurd to say that Senators Fraser and Sargood are free-traders. I was not in Victoria when the federal elections took place, but I certainly understood that Senator Sargood adopted the Maitland policy.
– This is not that policy.
– The Maitland policy was revenue without destruction, but we have seen Senators Fraser and Sargood helping to destroy revenue and to destroy industries at the same time.
– That is not so.
– I am sorry that Senator Macfarlane did not produce extracts from Senator Sargood’s election speeches in which he said he was going to support Mr. Barton.
The ACTING CHAIRMAN.- Does the honorable senator think that this is relevant ?
– After Senator Macfarlane’s speech, almost anything might be claimed to be in order.
The ACTING CHAIRMAN. - I am not prepared to allow a discussion of the policy of honorable senators individually.0
– These figures have been produced by Senator Macfarlane with a view of influencing our votes, and I am pointing out that it is a mistake to include
Senator Sargood and Senator Fraser among the list of free-traders.
The ACTING CHAIRMAN. - I have allowed the honorable senator to point that out. but I cannot allow him to discuss the policy of honorable senators individually.
– The honorable senator has even classed you, sir, as a free-trader, although I understand that you were supported by two protectionist newspapers. Senator Sargood has certainly given us the impression by the way in which he has voted that he is a free-trader, but his votes have surely been cast under a misapprehension. Throughout’ the world Victoria has been looked upon as a scientific protectionist State, returniugprotectionistmembers,andwhodare say that if the voters had known what these honorable senators intended to do, they would have returned them to the Senate ? Every one I meet here asserts that if Senator Sargood and Senator Fraser were to seek re-election to-day they would not be returned. You have shown, Mr. Chairman, that you are a protectionist with regard to hops ; Senator Symon has shown that he is a protectionist as far as wine and salt are concerned ; while Senator Gould is also a protectionist so far as the Tariff relates to tobacco. Senator Macfarlane’s remarks have been based upon calculations published in the Argus, which are not altogether well founded. From a cursory examination of this item, I should say that Senator Symon is anxious to secure at the lowest possible rates silk shirts, with which to protect his aristocratic health, a.nd silk socks, with which to clothe his handsome feet. I wish to show that in pressing this request honorable senators of the opposition are not actuated by any desire to help the poor. Are we to help a man who wants to appear in the Senate as Disraeli is said to have appeared in the House of Commons, wearing a waistcoat of woollen and silk, and of fine ornamentation ? If that is Senator Symon’s desire, I think he should be prepared to pay a duty of 25 per cent.
– This is tomfoolery.
– We know that Senator Pulsford wants his black silk ties as cheaply as possible. No one would ever accuse him of a desire to put on a vest of the many coloured textures of Joseph’s coat, although I. should recommend the honorable senator to do so. If he did he would carry a great deal more influence in the Senate. Surely the garments of woollen and silk which come within this item should bear a duty? There is no pioneer prospector in Western Australia - and I appeal to Senator Ewing to support me - who wants a silk shirt. The arguments used in support of cheap wheat, and cheap tinned vegetables and preserved meats will not apply in this case. Honorable senators must see that the poorer classes of the community will have to bear an increased burden if such duties as these are lowered. If lines such as rice are reduced so that the alien may escape taxation, the poorer classes will have to pay a little more towards the cost of government. Every penny that we take off Senator Symon’s silk garments, we place upon the poorer classes of tweeds which are used by working men and the ordinary materials used by ordinary housewives.
– We do not place it on such things. We advocate reductions.
– The honorable senator’s party goes for reductions which will throw about half of the working men of the Commonwealth out of employment, and leave them to compete with the other half. I find that there was originally a very strong fight in another place to obtain a reduction of this duty, but the House of Representatives as a whole took a more statesmanlike view of the necessities of the Government and the capacity of the people to bear taxation. By a considerable majority they very wisely decided that the duty should be 25 per cent., andby a considerable majority they also respectfully declined to agree to our request. No honorable senator should be anxious to create trouble between the two Houses. I am sure that those of us who were present while members of the House of Representatives were discussing our requests must have been struck with the sincere and respectful manner with which they considered our proposals. Although, as Senator Sar-. good has pointed out, the majority was only 22 to 17, thosefigures do not comprise the number of membersof the House of Representatives who actually took part in the vote, because there were very many pairs.. When we come to consider the votes that have been recorded, we must remember that this is not the first consideration of the subject. This decision has been arrived at after several months’ consideration of the schedule in the first place, and after several hours’ earnest discussion of our request in the second. So that honorable senators cannot expect to see the same majority. The proposal made by Senator Symon represents only a difference of1s. in the £1 as compared with that submitted by the Government. Will any one believe that a citizen of the Commonwealth, like Sir Julian Salomons, for instance, who is the senior barrister in New South Wales, and has an income of about £3,000 a year, will not be able to pay the extra shilling which the acceptance of the Government proposal will require him to pay when he goes intoFarmer and Co’s. shop to purchase a garment which ordinarily will cost him about 10s. ? To bring the matter more clearly home to honorable senators, I shall take the case of Senator Ewing. Would any one say that the honorable and learned senator, who is a kind of Beau Brummel, and indulges in very correct attire, should not be asked to pay the extra cost of these articles if we agree to the proposed duty of 25 per cent. ? I have heard no argument to recommend the course proposed by Senator Symon. No one will be benefited by it but those who are doing very well in the Commonwealth at the present time. Out of the 4,000,000 souls in the Commonwealth, I suppose that not more than 100,000 use these silk garments. Let us consider the case of the men who are engaged in the mining industry, and I ask honorable senators, is there one who will benefit by this reduction ? Take the case of the shearers and labourers on the stations, compositors engaged in the printing-offices of the city, carpenters, stonemasons, bricklayers, and others, and is there a single man engaged in any of these various trades who will be benefited by the reduction of this duty? “The only people who will be benefited will be those who are well able to pay, and honorable senators are annoyed that I should continue in this strain only because they are anxious to protect a class. I say they are wrong. We ought to do justice to the whole community, and endeavour to frame a Tariff which will press as lightly as possible upon those who are least able to pay taxation.
Question - That the request be not pressed - put. The committee divided.
Majority … … … 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item 58. Apparel and attire, and articles n.e.i. - not containing wool or silk, partly or wholly made up (not being piece goods), including articles cut into shape and dressed feathers, ad valorem, 25 per cent.
Senate’sRequest. - That the duty be reduced to 15 per cent.
House ofRepresentatives’ Message. - Amendment not made.
That the request be not pressed.
The first difficulty in the way of carrying out this suggestion is that it will bring about an almost insurmountable difficulty in administration. I think that was admitted, because it was agreed that in every case we should have to inquire whether an article did or did not contain wool or silk. In addition there is the further objection that the reduction of the duty will give no margin of protection in respect of a large class of articles made from material which does not contain wool or silk, and which is dutiable at 15 per cent. I need not refer to all these articles. It is sufficient to refer to a few, such as coatings, vestings, trouserings, not being of wool or silk, flannelettes, velvets, velveteens, plushes, and other materials of that kind. In the case of such materials there will be no protection given to locally made-up articles, because the duty of 15 per cent, upon the imported made-up article is the same as the duty upon the raw material. I understand that Senator Symon is about to make some suggestion to alter that, and I shall have to say something upon the subject when the honorable and learned senator submits his motion. I can only say at present that whatever the modification proposed may be, if it falls short of the 25 per cent duty it will be quite insufficient for the purpose for which this duty is proposed.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - I do not wish to deal with the subject at large, but I recognise that the rate of 15 per cent, which is mentioned in our request introduces difficulties of ad ministration. It has been indicatedin what way it happens. Of course nobody desires to perpetuate a source of irritation. The recent division leaves the duty on apparel, attire, and articles, whether woollen or silk, or containing wool or silk, at 20 per cent. Our request was that the duty on apparel, attire, and articles not containing wool or silk should be reduced from 25 per cent, to 15 per cent. ; but because of the difficulties of administration which have been mentioned, I invite . the committee to request that the two lines shall be subjected to thesame rate of duty, namely, 20 per cent. In accordance with the suggestion which was made yesterday by the President, and concurred in by the Senate, I move -
That all the words after the word “be” bo omitted, with a view to insert the following words: - “modified, by requesting the House of Representatives to amend the item by making the duty 20 per cent.”
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - I think that Senator O’Connor has really overlooked the situation. As the Tariff was brought down, apparel, attire, and articles not containing wool or silk, woollen goods, and coatings, vestings, and trouserings were all dutiable at 20 per cent., so that there was no margin at all. I should have thought that my amendment, assuming that we have the power to make this modification, would have been welcomed, because it would get rid of the difficulties.of administration. It is a fortunate thing if we have the power to make the modification, because it is one step in the direction of arriving at that settlement, which Senator O’Connor has told us several times this afternoon we have to face in the near future. I hope that the amendment will be agreed to.
Question - That the words proposed to be omitted stand part of the motion - put. The committee divided.
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be so inserted - put. The committee divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion, as amended, agreed to.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator O’Connor) read a first time.
Senate adjourned at 10.4 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 27 August 1902, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1902/19020827_senate_1_12/>.