3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at10. 30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Home Affairs if he will request the Postmaster-General to favorably consider the suggestion published in this morning’s Argus that the French system of receiving telegrams at night at reduced rates, delivering them with letters in the morning, be adopted here.
– Probably the suggestion has already been brought under the notice of the postal authorities, but as it may not have been, I shall draw the attention of the Postmaster-General to the matter.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The replies to the honorable senator’s questions furnished by the Postmaster-General’sDepartment are these : -
– Is it the intention of the Government to proceed with the Navigation Bill during the present session? If the Government does not intend to proceed with it this session, would it not be as well to wipe it off the noticepaper ?
-The honorable senator must be aware of the practical difficulties surrounding this matter. The Government has done its part, I having introduced the Bill, and moved its second reading; but, as he knows, its consideration will occupy many weeks, and unless we are to have an exceedingly prolonged session, there is no prospect, as I have already frankly told the Senate, of passing it before the prorogation. But I have undertaken that the measure shallbe dealt with early next session. To provide for contingencies it will be as well to leave it on the notice-paper.
Bill read a second time, and referred to the Committee to which the Customs Tariff Bill was referred.
In Committee :
Clause 1 agreed to.
That the Committee have leave to sit again at alater hour.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 23rd January, vide page 7622) :
Division I. - Ale, Spirits, and Beverages.
Item 1. Ale, Porter, and OtherBeer; Cider, and Perry, containing not less than 2 per cent. of proof spirit : -
*Six reputed quarts, or twelve reputed pints, or twenty-four reputed half-pints to be charged as one gallon.
– Before we proceed to deal with the schedule, I desire to intimate the course which I propose to take in regard to its various items. Honorable senators understand that the Bill is one which we cannot amend, and that therefore all motions to secure alterations will have tobe moved in the form of requests to the House of Representatives. When an item is read, the question before the Committee will be that the rates of duty in the first column, headed “ General Tariff,” stand, and it having been disposed of, if there is a. preferential duty, that will then be before the Committee, so that honorable senators may, if they wish, move requests in regard to the rates in the second column, headed “ Tariff on Goods the Produce or Manufacture of the United Kingdom.” That will give an opportunity, if desired, for a separate vote upon each column. The form in which I shall put the question will be this: Take item1 - Ale, porter, and beer, on which the duty is 1s. 6d. per gallon in bottle. If any honorable senator desires to propose a request on that item, he will do so when it is put. If there is no request I shall declare the item passed.
– In those cases where there is a preferential duty I understand, sir, that you will put it separately.
– When we come to such an item, as for instance, confectionery, I shall put the question in the following form :” Item 45 - Confectionery, per pound, 3d. Are there any requests on this item in the first column ? “ If there be no request, I shall then put the preference duty, 2½d. per lb. If there be no request in respect of that duty I shall declare the whole item passed.
– I understand that in regard to every preferential item the debate will be confined to the particular question before the Committee, and that a general debate will not be then allowed on the whole question of preference.
– Yes ; I desire the Committee to support me in confining the debate as nearly as possible to the question actually before the Committee. The debate will be either upon the preferential duty or the general Tariff duty, and not upon the fiscal or preferential question as a whole.
– Will it be possible for an honorable senator to move a request to increase the duty on any item, either under the general Tariff or the preference Tariff ?
– Yes; it is permissible to move a request for an increase, but I do not think that it is permissible to move a request to insert a new item in the Tariff, except under the following circumstances : If there is an item, the duty on which covers several articles, it will be permissible for an honorable senator to move a request that some or any of those articles be free. That, of course, would be a request for a new line, but not necessarily for a new item.
– For a new classification.
– I understand your meaning to be, sir, that where there are a number of articles of a similar character, and one is not specifically mentioned in an item of . the Tariff, it would be within the power of anhonorable senator to move that the article in question be included in the item, or put in the free list; but it will only be competent for an honorable senator to move a request to include an article of that description where there is already a duty.
– Yes; where there is already a duty existing; but it will not be competent to move a request for a new item altogether. It will not be competent to move. for an entirely new dutiable line in the Tariff.
– I have no request to move on item1, but I should like to make one remark with regard to Division I. generally. As far as I can determine, the whole of this division is exactly the same as that in the previous Tariff, with two slight differences. One is that there is a reclassification of item 6 - Wood naphtha and methyl ic alcohol ; and the second is that there is a slight re-adjustment of the duties regarding wine.
– That is practically correct.
– That re-adjustment is in the direction of giving some slight concession to the lighter wines of Australia.
– In a footnote to this item it is stated that six reputed quarts, or twelve reputed pints, or twenty-four reputed halfpints are to be charged as one gallon. If it so happens that in some cases either of those quantities amount to over the gallon, will they be charged as two gallons?
– Yes; the next note says so.
– It is so stated in the following note.
Item agreed to.
Item 2 (Ale, Porter and oilier Beer, Cider and Perry), item 3 (Spirits and Spirituous Liquors), item 4 (Amylic Alcohol and Fusel Oil), item 5 (Collodion), item 6 (Wood Naphtha and Methylic Alcohol), item 7 (Spirits Denaturated), item 8 (Perfumed Spirits and Bay Rum), item 9 (Spirituous Essences, Fruit Ethers, Aromas, and Flavours, &c), item 10 (Sulphuric Ether and other Ethers), and item 1 1 (Non-spirituous Ethereal Fruit Essences, &c), agreed to.
Item 12. Wine, Sparkling, per gallon, 12s.
– It seems to me that the duty on this class of wine is very low - only 12s. per gallon or 2s. per bottle. This is wine that is drunk largely by the rich people of the Commonwealth. I do not think that many of the poor indulge in it. I consider that we ought to get a little more revenue out of it if possible. I therefore move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 12, 24s. per gallon.
– Shall I be in order, Mr. Chairman, in moving an amendment on that request?
– -If the honorable senator desires to propose a request for a lower duty he should vote against the request moved by Senator Stewart, and, . in the event of its being negatived, it will be competent for him to submit a request that some other rate be imposed. In each case I shall put first a request for a higher duty.
.- The proposition made by Senator Stewart should meet with the approval of all protectionists. For some time those interested in the wine industry have, been endeavouring to satisfy the palate of the Australian people by placing on the market a wine which, in the opinion of experts, closely approximates to imported champagne. The more encouragement we give them the greater will be their success. It is true that an increased duty would probably lead to a loss of revenue, but, after all,’ protectionists have to view a matter of this kind not so much from a revenue as from ari industrial stand-point. The higher the duty on champagne the greater the likelihood of - the local industry being firmly established. Champagne described by experts as being of excellent quality is made in Victoria and South Australia, and, since it is used only by those in good circumstances, who can well afford to pay for it, we should not hesitate to request that a higher duty be imposed.
– It is not proposed in this item to deviate from the duty which has been in operation since 1902 - a duty of 12s. per gallon on sparkling wines, including not only champagne but such wines as sparkling hock and sparkling moselle. The revenue received under the present duty in respect of this item in 1906 was .£25,205. The duty is a 50 per cent, advance on that levied upon still wines in bottles, viz., 8s. per dozen. Wine in bulk is dutiable at 6s. per gallon, but sparkling wine is imported in bottle. I ask the Committee to hesitate before they decide that the duty already in existence, and under which such a fair amount of revenue has been collected, should be departed from.
– If there’ is an industry which can be successfully carried on in Australia it is that of wine-making. I agree with Senator Stewart that the duty is too low, but at the same time am not prepared to go so far as he proposes. Experts tell us that we can make in Australia sparkling wine equal to that which is imported. Some imported sparkling wine is of very inferior quality. If we intend by the Tariff to encourage local industries - and as a protectionist I hope that we shall do so - we must recognise that this duty is too low, and i’f this request be rejected I shall move a further one that the duty be raised from 12s. to 20s. per dozen.
– I hope that on this question the Government will stand firm. In determining, what rates of duty should be imposed we cannot disregard revenue considerations. If either of the suggested increases were carried, what from a certain point of view is a highly desirable beverage,, used by the well-to-do-
– And also bv invalids.
– It is also used bv invalids, so that in some cases the heavy duty would have to be paid by charitable institutions. I have received from producers and manufacturers in all parts of the Commonwealth suggestions in regard to the Tariff, but I know of no case in which the Victorian vignerons have asked for an increased duty on these wines. The duty seems to be a very fair one, and has returned a fairly large amount of revenue. It is sufficient, I think, to afford a large margin of profit to local vignerons, and many facilities for wine-makers in Victoria and South Australia to attempt - as I think they will - to reach the standard of quality of the choicest productions of France and the South of Europe. I wish to emphasize the point that the question of revenue is of great importance to the smaller States. If .it can be suggested that the higher duty will yield a larger revenue-
– No protectionist wants more revenue.
– What do the protectionists desire? “Do they ask for a prohibitive Tariff? If they do, we cannot agree, lying “down, to such a request. The question was fairly considered in another place, and the Government proposal met with the approbation even of representatives of Victoria., who might be considered interested in securing an- increase of the duty if it were thought necessary.
– The rate of duty proposed in the Tariff was recommended bv both sections of the Tariff Commission.
– I am glad to hear that. It seems to me to be a fair duty from a revenue point of view, whilst it should have a, sufficiently high protective incidence to encourage wine manufacturers in Victoria to try to reach the standard of the best importations. We cannot at this stage allow representatives of Victoria in the Senate to injure this Tariff from a revenue-producing point of view.
– This is not merely a Victorian industry.
– Victoria and South Australia are chiefly interested, and I may say that the present proposal is against the interests of Queensland. From various causes the wine industry of that State went down, and the State revenue to a certain extent went with it. In the circumstances, representatives of that State are bound to consider the revenue aspect of the proposed duty. I hope that representatives of South Australia., and, indeed, of all the smaller States, will also regard this question from a revenue point of view. I have been astonished to find honorable senators from Western Australia - whose finances are in a somewhat critical .condition - prepared to support a proposal which, if agreed tq, must result in a reduction, tosome extent, of the revenue of the State. I wonder whether Senator Stewart, who, as a> representative of Queensland, is a colleague of my own, has considered the question from a revenue point of view. If this duty be materially increased, the inevitable effect in a short time will be to reduce the revenue of Queensland, and the only persons who will benefit by the increase of duty will be the Victorian and South Australian wine growers.
– And those of New South Wales and Western Australia.
– So far ‘as I know, very little benefit will accrue from an increase in the duty to wine-growers in Western Australia.
– Has the honorable senator been in that State?
– I say so far as I know. If I have not full knowledge on the subject, representatives of Western
Australia who know more can correct me. I hope the Government will stand firm in this matter. We are all willing to afford reasonable assistance to every Austraiian industry, but representatives of the smaller States are bound to ask that the revenue aspect of the Tariff shall be carefully considered, even in the case of items the revenue from which would be small as compared with the total revenue derived under the Tariff. I shall be interested to hear honorable senators representing the smaller States attempt to justify this first blow aimed at the revenue-producing power of the Tariff.
– I am in entire sympathy with the suggestion made by Senator Stewart, even although both sections of the Tariff Commission ha.ve recommended what I believe to be a fairly reasonable duty. I am one of those who desire that, in the very near future, Australia shall make all its own sparkling wine, and in such a case there will be -no revenue derived from this source. I earnestly desire this, because I am firmly convinced that wines of this description produced in Australia will be more pure and wholesome than are the bulk of the imported wines. We have passed legislation in Australia compelling the fortification of. our wines with spirits made from wine itself, and from good wine approved by the Departmental officers, whilst it is well known that much of the imported champagne and other sparkling wines are fortified with a highly rectified spirit manufactured from the Lord only knows what. I could give Senator St. Ledger some information as to the origin of some of the spirit used to fortify imported wines which would convince him that it would be much better for wine drinkers and for the invalids with whom the honorable senator has so much sympathy if all the sparkling wines consumed here were locally manufactured. This is one reason I have for supporting Senator Stewart’s suggestion. Let me say that if the Government had approved and adopted the whole of the recommendations of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission, I should feel bound to support them in each case, but seeing that they have in many instances departed from those recommendations I see no reason why I should be considered bound to support them in respect of items in connexion with which they have adopted the recommendations of the Commission merely to suit themselves.
– I could quite understand and sympathize with members of the Senate generally who said that they were not bound by the recommendations of the Tariff Commission, though where both sections of the Commission agree as to a recommendation which involves not merely the question of protection but also that of revenue some additional weight should be attached to those recommendations in contradistinction to those on which the two sections of the Commission are at variance. Whilst an ordinary number of the Senate might discount the recommendations of the Commission, I am somewhat surprised that Senator McGregor, who, as a member of the Commission and with all the solemnity of his office, signed a recommendation to His Excellency the Governor-General and to Parliament that the duty in this case should be 12s., after hearing the evidence on the question, and, as he said yesterday, noting the demeanour of the witnesses, should now denounce that recommendation.
– I have not denounced it; I have said that it represents a very fair compromise.
– It would not be unreasonable for me to express disapproval of the recommendations of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission, but when Senator McGregor, as a Commissioner, recommends a duty of 12s., and as a member of this Committee denounces that recommendation, and seeks to increase the duty to 24s., that is a piece of inconsistency I hardly appreciate.
– I am looking at this question mainly from a protectionist point of view. I see no reason why the manufacture of sparkling wines in Australia should not receive the same encouragement as the manufacture of other classes of wines. Whilst sparkling wines which are sold here at from 12s. to 15s. a bottle, have a protection of only 2s. per bottle, still wines which are sold at anything from 2s. 6d. to 4s. have a protection of1s. 4d. per bottle. That appears to me to constitute unequal treatment. The protection that it is proposed to extend to sparkling wines works out at about 10 per cent., whilst the protection which, has been accorded to still wines works out at between 25 per cent. and 30 per cent. Why should there be this difference ? If it be worth while to encourage the production of still wines by the imposition of a duty of from 25 per cent. to 30 per cent., surely sparkling wines should be placed upon exactly the same level ! We have it upon the highest authority that Australia is capable of producing as good wine as is any other country. I believe that to be the case. If sparkling wines were produced locally we should then have some guarantee of their purity, but as matters stand at present we have none. I have heard it stated, upon numerous occasions, that the champagne for which our rich people willingly pay such high prices, is very often inferior stuff which has been, doctored to make it bear a resemblance to the genuine article. I say that the manufacture of sparkling wines should be put upon precisely the same level as the manufacture of still wines. If it is necessary to protect still wines to the extent of 25 per cent. or 30 per cent. the same treatment should be accorded to sparkling wines. I suppose that our free-trade friends will tell us that we cannot manufacture sparkling wines equal in quality to those produced in the South of F rance. If that be the case, I ask them to vote for my proposal. If we cannot produce these wines locally, seeing that they are a luxury purchased by the wealthy, we ought to get as much revenue out of them as possible. The man who purchases a bottle of champagne, for which he pays anything from 12s. to 15s. - I do not know the exact price, because I have never bought a bottle in my life-
– A bottle of champagne costs 25s. in some parts of Australia.
– It might, in the backblocks of Western Australia, but in Melbourne I believe that the price is about 12s. 6d. The individual who purchases a bottle of champagne contributes only about 2s. to the revenue. Now, the persons who buy this class of wine are rich.
– Not always.
– No poor man is foolish enough to pay 12s. for a bottle of champagne when he might purchase about 12 gallons of beer for the same amount and enjoy a good “blow out.” The idea is a ridiculous one. I repeat that the persons who purchase champagne are usually rich. Of course, there may be some foolish people who have not very much money, and who are probably possessed of very little wit, who indulge occasionally in the luxury of champagne. But these individuals are very rare. Each bottle of champagne contributes only about 2s. to the revenue of the country, whereas the poor man who purchases a bottle of still wine, for which he pays anything from2s. 6d. to 4s., has to contribute noless than1s. 4d. There is thus a very large disproportion between the contribution of the rich man and that of the poor man.
– But wine is not a poor man’s drink.
– A large number of poor people drink wine in Australia. Its consumption is becoming very much more common that it was.
– Not the consumption of imported wine.
– That a large quantity of our sparkling wines are importedis evidenced by the fact that we get a revenue of , £25,000 annually from this source, whereas from all other kinds of wine we get a revenue of only £22,000. Very much more still wine than sparkling wine is consumed in Australia. It is apparent, therefore, that a large quantity of the still wine consumed in the Commonwealth is manufactured locally. We have already been able to establish in our midst the wine-producing industry. Why should we not embark upon the making of sparkling wines? Why should not those wines be placed on exactly the same footing as other wines? If we cannot manufacture them, let us get as much revenue out of those who consume them as we can. In regard to Senator St. Ledger’s remark that I am attacking the revenues of the smaller States, and particularly to his reference to Queensland, in which I ought to be especially interested, let me point out that unless some remarkable change takes place in the political situation in that State it will presently have a very large surplus. Unless Mr. Philp is able to retain his seat in the saddle, we are almost assured of a very large surplus in Queensland, so that Senator St. Ledger need not be afraid of that State being left in the lurch financially through any attack made by me. Of course, if Mr. Philp is again placed at the head of affairs, Queensland will probably need all the revenue that she can derive both from this and every other source.
– I think that under the Queensland law all surpluses must be applied towards the reduction of the public debt of that State.
– The Labour Party wish to repeal that law.
– In any case I ask the Committee to vote for my proposal. I appeal also to the revenue Tariff section of the Committee, of which Senator Millen is the leading representative, to support it. Seeing that sparkling wines are mainly consumed by persons who are well able to contribute to the revenue, I think that they ought to be called upon to pay a little more than they do at present.
– With regard to the revenue aspect of this matter, I wish to point out that if the duty upon sparkling wines is increased in the way that is proposed we shall get very little revenue from them. This question has been threshed out upon a good many Tariff discussions, and, so far as I know, the duty’ levied upon sparkling wines in any part of Australia has never been, in excess of the amount fixed in the schedule.
– There is only one State in which a higher duty obtained.
– Tobe consistent, those who desire to levy a very heavy duty upon this item should have moved to increase the duty upon spirits to 24s. per gallon.
– If they wish to protect the wine industry they should have given distillers a fair protection. At the present time our distillers receive a protection of only 2s. per gallon. But upon sparkling wines it must be remembered that no Excise is levied, so that the amount of the duty represents the measure of protection enjoyed by our manufacturers in respect of this item. I think that we do very well when we extend to any industry the duty for which it asks. The rate proposed in the schedule is the limit for which the vignerons have asked, and I think we should be very unwise to’ alter it. To alter it would create complications and cause delay. From the revenue aspect, we should lose a great deal, and I do not think we should help the industry very much.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on “ Wine, sparkling,” 24s. per gallon (Senator Stewart’s request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 8
Question so resolved in the negative.
Request (by Senator Needham) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 12, 20s. per gallon.
– I ask the honorable member not to press the amendment. Senator McColl’s statement should have some influence with honorable senators who are moving in this direction for protective purposes. He pointed out that the whole of this duty was protective, since it had not to be considered in comparison with an Excise duty. The import duty on spirits is 14s. a gallon, but we impose an Excise duty of 12s. or 13s. upon spirits manufactured in the Commonwealth, leaving a protection of only 2s. a gallon in respect of malt spirit, and is a gallon in respect of blended spirit. Surely, if that is considered a sufficient protection to the important industry of distillation, 12s. a gallon is a very substantial protection to the industry of the manufacture of sparkling wine. Twelve shillings was the amount recommended by both sections of the Tariff Commission, and was the duty which prevailed in the Victorian scientific Tariff. In South Australia the duty was 15s., and in Queensland, New South Wales, Western Australia, and Tasmania it was 10s. at the establishment of the Commonwealth. Experience has shown that in . 12s. a very fair average was struck. As an instalment of protection, it bears more than favorable comparison with the protection given to the. distillation of spirits in the Commonwealth. I therefore ask honorable senators to accept the item as it stands.
– This duty, almost from its inception, has been a purely revenue duty.
– Fifteen shillings in South Australia was absolutely protective.
– Until recently, it was a purely revenue duty. Within the last fewyears it has become incidentally protective. The production of sparkling wine has been developed to a very slight degree. Champagnes are now being made here in very limited quantities, and some persons declare that they are equal to the bulk of what is imported. I am dealing with this matter as a politician who can claim to have given probably as much consideration to the question of protection as have most men, and I propose arguing the protective incidence of the duty. I merely referred to it having been introduced as a revenue duty. Senator Stewart said, with a first appearance of force, that the duty on sparkling wine should for consistency’s sake be proportionately as high as the duty on still wine. As a protectionist, who desires to see industries established, I point out that it is the experience that the industries which we establish most effectively first are the commoner or more easily acquired ones. It is therefore a good protectionist principle that the duty should be high upon the common or easily-produced lines, and light upon the lines more difficult of production. We have a perfect assurance that we can readily and almost immediately accomplish the production of the commoner lines.
– That is, the honorable senator would give little where much is needed and much where little would suffice.
– If the honorable senator follows me he will see what I mean. I would give much where the principle of protection can be applied with the probability, of immediate success. The object of protection is to create production, but not to create production in a way that will penalize the consumer. We have producer and consumer; and the protectionist is not consistent or logical if he does not consider both. I have always claimed, as a protectionist, that protection, if properly applied, benefits both the producer and the consumer, because it gives to the producer employment, and by local production gives the consumer a cheaper and better article than could be obtained from abroad.
– Does not that apply to champagne ?
– Experience teaches us, I think, that it does not.
– I think the honorable senator is getting away from the question before us, and entering on the general issue of free-trade and protection.
– We are dealing with the wisdom or otherwise of placing a comparatively low duty on one class of wine, while there is a heavy duty on another class; and the question has been raised whether, in order to be consistent, a high duty should not be placed on both.
– Of course the general principles of protection and free-trade » are raised on every item.
– I am not raising the general principle, but merely discussing the propriety of placing a light protectionist duty on articles that we are almost certain to be unable to produce up to our requirements in the near future, and a heavy protectionist duty on articles that we are certain to be able to produce up to our requirements in a short time. I am pointing out that champagne, while it is being made here, doss not appear to present an immediate prospect of being up to the standard required in the general estimation. ‘ Personally, I do not know enough about the subject to judge as to the standard, but I am speaking now of the general estimation.
– Is that not an additional reason for giving further protection?
– I think not. I have had in my own trade very strong evidence of the wisdom of so regulating duties that they shall be high on the commoner or easily-produced articles, and low on those articles in regard iO which we have not yet acquired the experience necessary to production. Thus it is I have always been in favour of fixed duties. Suppose we had a fixed duty of, say, ros. per gallon on all wines ; that would be an absolutely indisputable protection, making the market completely ours in regard to those classes of wines that we can readily, learn to make, while giving some protection, and, therefore, some inducement to produce, in regard to wines which, up to the present, we have not- the experience necessary to produce. Indeed, that is how the matter is working out ; we are beginning to make, with greater and greater success, champagne; and there mav, and probably will, come a time in the near future, when, as protectionists, we could impose a duty of 40s. per gallon. ‘ I have presented my view; and I think that 12s. is a reasonable and substantial protection.
– The question is not whether the duty is reasonable, but whether it is effective protection.
– I think it is effective protection, seeing that it is about 33& cent, on the cost of wine as produced here. I do not know what the cost of production is abroad, but I know that one of our successful champagne-makers has retail shops in Melbourne, where, I think, though I am not positive, a single bottle can be bought for 6s. 6d. Mr. Hans Irvine is our most successful producer - I do not know whether there are any others - and he has given much attention, and expended much money, in the manufacture of sparkling wines. That gentleman has in Melbourne, Ballarat, and other large centres, retail shops, where, as I say, I believe a single bottle of champagne can be bought for 6s. 6d. If that be so, we may .reasonably assume that the wholesale price is not more than 6s., and <t duty of 12s. amounts to 33$ per cent. I have no particular veneration for percentages, and if 60 per cent., 100 per cent., or even 160 per cent, were necessary - if it would lead to production in a sufficiently short time to meet the requirements of the consumers, as well as improve the conditions of the producers - I should not be afraid to impose such a duty.
– But the honorable senator would stop at 160 per cent. ?
– I. should not stop at 1,000,000 per cent, if such a duty were necessary. Protection is a complete sheltering from unwise competition. At any rate, I am urging that the duty proposed by the Government is substantial, compared with other protective duties. The duty has already had the effect of stimulating, and, in some measure, developing the production of this article, and, at the same time, serving the purpose for which it was originally designed, namely, revenue. Being a luxury, champagne has always been held to be an article that might very properly be made the subject of a purely revenue duty. There may come a time, and probably will, I think, when we may be able to make champagne in competition with the world, and secure our own market, and when it will, therefore, be necessary to impose an Excise duty for revenue purposes. The duty proposed by the Government will, in my opinion, serve the purpose of incidentally giving protection sufficient for the present, and the highest of possible revenue under the circumstances. That is what led me to votefor a duty of 12s., not now but years ago, in the Victorian Parliament, when I wasfighting as vigorously as I possibly could for the best protection I could get.
– And 12s. was the best that could be obtained.
– It was the highest duty that it was thought desirable to ask for.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on “ Wine, sparkling,” 20s. per gallon (Senator Needham’s request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Request (by Senator Croft) put -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 12, 15s. per gallon.
The Committee divided.
Majority … … 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to.
Item13 (Wine, Still), item 14 (Wine, Crape), item 15 (Wine, n.e.i.), item14 (Limejuice, &c.), and item 17 (Table Waters), agreed to.
Division11. - Tobacco and Manufactures thereof.
Item18. Tobacco, manufactured, n.e.i., including the weight of tags, labels, and other attachments, per lb., 3s. 6d.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item18, 3s. 3d. per lb.
I move this motion because facts which cannot be refuted show that the old Tariff did for the tobacco industry all that the most ardent protectionists could require of protective duties. I shall not weary the Committee with figures; but I ask honorable senators whether, in view of the Customs returns relating to the importation of manufactured tobacco, and of the tremendous increase of local manufacture, it can be said that the old Tariff failed to adequately protect the local tobacco industry ? The figures show that the importation of tobacco has fallen off tremendously, and its local manufacture immensely increased. That is a good reason for not increasing the protection given to the local industry ; but there is a further one. Protectionists combat the argument of free-traders that protection enables local manufacturers to exploit the public by saying that that is prevented by competition, the result of substantial protection being to create local competition which will keep down prices to a fair level. In the local manufacture of tobacco, however, there is no competition worthy of the name. When the present Tariff was introduced last year, the local manufacturers of tobacco immediately raised their prices. The only justification for this action would have been the increasing of the cost of their raw material by the imposition of higher duties upon it ;. but a return laid on the table of the Senate showed that, prior to the imposition of the present Tariff, the local manufacturers had cleared sufficient leaf at the old rates of duty to enable them to continue their operations for many months without making fresh importations. The local manufacturers showed their readiness to take the fullest advantage of the protection afforded to them by the change of duties, the only thing that kept their rapacity within bounds being the importation of a few lines of tobacco manufactured abroad notably such lines as the Mistletoe tobacco, which threatened to undersell the local article. Seven-eighths of the tobacco manufactured in Australia is manufactured by a Trust, which has shown that it has absolutely no regard for the consumers, and that it will always increase its prices as high as the protective fence will allow them to be increased. The two or three local competitors of the Trust do such a small business that the Trust can afford to laugh at their competition. I wish to read to the Committee a letter from an agent of an imported tobacco, which, although written by a partisan, will be seen, in . the light of the figures relating to importation and local manufacture, supplied by the Customs Department, and in the knowledge thatwe have of the action of the Tobacco Trust in increasing prices on the imposition of the new Tariff, to contain nothing but facts. This letter is dated Sydney, 20th January, 1908, and is as follows: -
In view of the evident desire on the part of many public men to restrict the monopolistic operations of what are called “ Trusts “ and “Combines,” we should like to draw your attention to the effect of the action of the House of Representatives in passing the recent tobacco duties. The apparent desire of that Chamber was to curtail the operations of the tobacco trust, so as to admit of other competitors and thus restrict undue profits ; but we venture to say that had the framing of the new Tariff been left in the hands of the trust itself the latter could not have produced anything which could have more completely played into its own hands, as we shall show. When the Tariff Commission was appointed it was fully anticipated amongst the trade that the tobacco trust was going to be checked in its profit-making capacity by a levelling-up of the Excise duty and the duty upon the imported leaf, as against the imported manufactured article, thereby introducing what the Age in a recent article described as a “ breath of healthy competition much to be desired.” The recommendations of the Tariff Commission were as follow : -
The protectionist section of the Tariff Commission, following the practice of Great Britain, recommended a difference of 3d. per lb. between the duty on imported unstemmed leaf and that on imported stemmed leaf. The Government, however, made the difference 6d., imposing a duty of 2s. per lb. on imported stemmed leaf, and a duty of1s. 6d. per lb. on imported unstemmed leaf. The labour cost of stemming, with all allowances for loss of weight and freight charges, makes the difference between the actual costs of unstemmed leaf and stemmed leaf only 2d. per lb. Therefore, the recommendation of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission was a generous one. A difference, of 6d. per lb. means a gift to the local Tobacco Trust of 4d. on every pound of imported leaf used in manufacturing, a clear gift to a bloated Trust which is making immense profits by the sale of tobacco in Australia. It is not necessary, in theinterests of the workers, to make this difference, because the local manufacturers of tobacco are able to compete successfully with foreign manufacturers) and the Trust is rapidly monopolizing the Australian market. The free-trade members of the Tariff Commission also recommended a difference of 3d. per lb. As the Tariff now stands, there is a duty of 3s. 6d. on manufactured tobacco, and of1s. 6d. on unstemmed leaf. The Trust, of course, will not import stemmed leaf, seeing that the cost of stemming, making all allowances for loss and extra freight, amounts to only 2d. per lb., while the extra duty on stemmed leaf is 6d. per lb. To the duty on unstemmed leaf has to be added the Excise of.1s. per lb., so that the local manufacturers pay in the aggregate 2s. 6d. per lb., while the importers of manufactured tobacco pay 3s. 6d. per lb. Thus the local manufacturers have an advantage of1s. per lb. Under the old Tariff, an advantage of 9d. per lb. proved more than adequate for the protection of the local industry, It is not necessary to increase the local protection in the interest of the workmen employed in the industry, because we have it on the authority of themanufacturers themselves, in evidence given before the Tobacco Commission, that the labour cost of making a pound of tobacco does not exceed 6d. Therefore, if foreign manufacturers had to pay nothing at alt for the labour which they employ, our manufacturers would still have an advantage of 6d . per lb. No protectionist who is not a fit member for an asylum can justify this increase of protection on protectionist grounds. If we agree to it, we shall merely grease the fat hog, and make a present to a Trust which is already wealthy enough to be a powerful political influence in Australia. Those honorable senators who vote for the revision of duties are going to imake that rich Trust richer still.
– How does the honorable senator make out that it is a political power ?
– Because of the wellknown fact that it subscribed to the political funds of the anti-Labour associations, throughout Australia.
– Is that the real sore spot?
– No, it is not; but I say that honorable senators who vote for these duties axe going to vote to make thatrich Trust still richer, better able to subscribe to political funds, and to become a greater political power in the future than it has been in the past.
– The Trust has not received much support from my party.
– It certainly has not from mine.
– And yet it has “ got there* “
– Here is another factor that I ask the Committee to take into consideration. The members of the Government will say that we have on the statute-book an Anti-Trust . Act, and that that affords a way to deal with this trust. But I point out that that Anti-Trust Act cannot touch the Tobacco Trust in respect to any of its actions up to date. It has been careful to keep within the law. Indeed, in some respects the Tobacco Trust is. beneficent. I recognise that. But we are dealing with one vast Tobacco Trust, and with its power to exploit the consumers of Australia. The object of my proposal is to prevent the Trust from having more power to ex- ploit the consumers than it has had in the past. I am not asking the Committee to place the Trust in any worse position than it occupied before the new Tariff was introduced. I am asking them to give the consumer as much protection as he had before. There is no internal competition.
– Is tobacco a necessary of life?-
– It is a necessary. As soon as an article becomes of general use it is to that extent a necessity. I look upon tobacco as being so generally used that it is practically a necessary of life. No matter how we fix the duties, it will still be used ; the consumer will pay, and the Trust will get rich. Therefore I hope honorable senators will not ask me to take refuge behind the Anti-Trust Act. That Act cannot touch this question. It cannot touch the Trust. It cannot protect the consumers. It is powerless to do so. Furthermore, I wish it to be understood that I. do not want to break up the Trust - though I should like to make it a national Trust. The request which. I have moved will not break it up. It will only shear its powers by’ placing the public in a better position, and it will do that without injuring the tobacco industry. No honorable senator who speaks to this request can show any figures which will indicate the least possibility of foreign competition injuring the tobacco industry. It - is therefore of no use lo trot out the bogy of foreign com- . petition, lt will not work. The figures indicating the tremendous increase of two or three million pounds of- locally manufactured tobacco, and the corresponding falling off of imports tell a tale that cannot be explained away.
– Imports of manufactured tobacco?
– Yes. 1 do not intend to labour this question further. There is no need to ask any honorable senator to go back on his principles as a protectionist. It can be proved that the ‘industry was thoroughly protected under the old Tariff, was well established, and was rapidly driving out all foreign competition. It was well able to increase its output) and therefore it needed no protection on the score of competition. The effect of this increased protection will merely be to cause the tobacco consumer to pay more for his tobacco. But the difference that he pays will not go into the public Treasury.’ That is the point. I should not mind so much if the extra 3d. were going into the Treasury. If it represented taxation there would be something to be said for it. It may be said, however, that tobacco, although so generally used, is in the nature of a luxury, and that therefore it is right that the smoker should pay an extra 3d. per lb. But the effect of these duties will be that less money will find its way into the Treasury from tobacco taxation. As imports will be killed more rapidly in the future than has been the case in the past, Jess revenue will find its way into the Treasury from tobacco.
– The honorable senator is not a protectionist.
– I am not claiming to be a protectionist, but I am arguing on protectionist lines, and am showing that any protectionist can justify standing bv the old Tariff. Nobody can charge any honorable senator who stands by the old Tariff with seeking to injure the tobacco industry, because the old rate of duty was adequate and under it the industry was fully established.
– I stand by the new duty.
– I hope that the honorable senator will not. do so without having some reasons for his action. If he intends to vote to increase the duty, he surely wants to be assured that there is some reason for the increase. If by increasing the duty he merely enables money to be taken from the pockets of the consumers of Australia and -put into the pockets of the Trust, he is not standing by the interests of the consumers.
– I do not see that.
– I ask the honorable senator to look at the facts. Is it not a fact (hat manufactured tobacco to-day is 3d. dearer than it was before the introduction of the new Tariff?
– Not in the case of the tobacco which I smoke. The price which I .paid formerly was 11 id.,- and it. is now 9d.
– But the size of the plug has teen altered. The honorable senator will recollect a letter read in the Senate last session by Senator Neild in which the Trust themselves said that they had put their men out of employment simply to give them an opportunity of altering the size of the plug. As a matter of fact, retailers have told me that the increased price has now been taken off. They have resorted to the old price per plug, but the weight is not the same.
– In the case of the tobacco which I smoke, the price per. lb. has been reduced.
– That is not the case generally.
– I weighed the contents of a 2-oz. tin the other day, and they weighed exactly 2 oz.
– I am speaking of plug tobacco, because it is plug tobacco that is generally consumed in Australia.
– The quotations of prices show an increase.
– Quite so; and a statement made on the authority of the Trust themselves, which appears in Hansard over their own signature, shows that the size of the Havelock plug has been altered to adjust it to the new -Tariff. The price has been increased; and even if the tobacco is sold at the same price per plug the consumer is nevertheless being -penalized in respect of the weight of the tobacco he consumes. That fact was not denied. Indeed, it ‘was ‘admitted by the Trust themselves. They said that they were justified in doing it. I maintained that they were not justified, and they contended in answer to me that they were. But thev admitted the fact. Senator W ‘. Russell must know that, as every other honorable senator knows it. We have to deal with the question on its merits, and I ask the Committee to consider the consumers in this matter. Surely they have a right to be considered. The tobacco industry does not need further protection. No cause can be shown for it. The Trust is rapidly capturing the whole market. Does anyone mean to say that this is one of the “strangled industries?” Surely it is one of the industries the business of. which has most substantially increased. Before the old Tariff was introduced the quantity of imported tobacco and the quantity of locally-manufactured tobacco consumed in Australia were about equal. But now the consumption is about 7,000,000 lbs. of locally-manufactured tobacco, and 1,000,000 lbs. imported. If those figures do not indicate a substantial increase, I do not know what could do so.
– And the diminution of consumption of imported tobacco has been steady and gradual.
– It has been steady ever since the Federal Tariff came into operation. The consumption of locallymanufactured tobacco has been increasing at the rate of nearly a million pounds per annum. The man must be very greedy indeed who is not satisfied with such an increase. I point but to the protectionist senators, and particularly to the Labour protectionists, that the essential condition which they maintain justifies protection - that is, that internal competition shall prevent the consumer from being exploited - does not exist in this case. There is- practically no internal competition. The only thing that curbs the Trust is the small amount of external, competition. Seveneighths of the tobacco consumed in Australia is manufactured bv the Trust:
– The honorable senator who has moved this request has stated very emphatically . to the Committee that the alteration of duties now proposed - that is, the alteration from the duties that were in operation under the Tariff of 1902 - is one which results in making a pure gift to the Tobacco Trust iri Australia of something like 3d. per lb. in respect of all tobacco that they may import in leaf for the purpose of local manufac- ture. Of course the honorable senator draws attention to the fact that there is a varying duty on stemmed and unstemmed leaf. He points out that the difference of 6d. per lb. between the duties on stemmed and unstemmed leaf constitutes such a gift to the tobacco manufacturers of the Commonwealth that they will invariably import leaf which is unstemmed, and do the work of stemming in the country. Now, when the Tariff was submitted to Parliament, and was under the consideration of another place, the items that have been referred to by the honorable senator were not exactly as they are now. An alteration has been made. When the Tariff was submitted it was proposed that in respect of unstemmed tobacco unmanufactured the duty should be : 1s. gd. a lb., and in respect of stemmed tobacco unmanufactured and imported for the purpose of local manufacture the duty should be 2s. per lb. ; that is, that the difference between unstemmed and stemmed tobacco in respect of duty should be 3d. per lb. That was the recommendation also of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission - a duty of1s. 9d. per lb. on the unstemmed and 2s. on the stemmed tobacco. It was likewise the recommendation of the B section of the Tariff Commission. But on the 5th October, 1907, the proposed duty of1s.9d. in respect of unstemmed tobacco was altered by the Committee of the House of Representatives to1s. 6d. The honorable senator seems to suggest that we are going deliberately out of our way to give a bonus or a gift to the tobacco manufacturers of the Commonwealth. But before those alterations were made in another place the whole matter of the range of duties in respect of tobacco and cigars received the most careful consideration of the Commonwealth Government. The officers of the Customs Department and the Minister in charge of the Tariff elsewhere gave them the amplest and fullest consideration. In order that they might have the best advice and experience in regard to the matter, the tobacco expert of the Queensland State Government, Mr. Nevill, was asked to come to Melbourne. Through the courtesy of the State Government he was in attendance.
– This is not the proposal first introduced by the Government.
– No; the original proposal was altered in consequence of the advice tendered by Mr. Nevill.
– He is a grower, not a manufacturer, and knows nothing about stripping.
– Probably he knows more about stripping than does any honorable senator.
– He comes from the tobacco districts of the United States, where he was born.
– After its own proposals, following the lines of the Tariff Commission’s recommendations, had been tabled, the Government deemed it advisable, in the light of further information, to consider whether it should adhere to them or frankly ask another place to agree to variations of them. Mr. Nevill’s recommendations to the Government resulted in their submitting the whole scale of duties as they now stand. Senator Pearce, in moving his request, has referred to other items, and it must be apparent that the whole of these tobacco duties are interrelated. . It is difficult to deal with one of them without considering the other. For instance, we propose in connexion with the item immediately under consideration that a duty of 3s. 6d. per lb. be imposed on manufactured tobacco, but the value of that duty, from the stand-point of protection, can be measured only by considering the duty imposed on the unmanufactured leaf.
– The question is what is the reason for the increase of 3d. per lb.
– We have to consider these items, not singly, but in relation to each other. The duty of 3s. 6d. per lb. on manufactured tobacco is not necessarily the measure of protection.
– No. But the measure of protection before was 9d. per lb. as asagainst1s. per lb. now proposed, and Senator de Largie asks the reason for the increase.
– I am coming to that point.. The Government, before submitting their amended proposals to another place, had the advice of Mr. Nevill and others in respect to the whole range of duties from item 18 to item 25. In reporting to them. Mr. Nevill said -
The summary of my evidence before the Tariff Commission was -
He then proceeds to set out what he suggested to the Commission, and goes on to say that -
The reasons for advocating the above are fully set forth in my testimony, showing it had proven satisfactory both from a revenue point of view and as stimulating the production and consumption of the locally-grown tobacco.
Then come the words to which I desire to draw special attention -
As there pointed out the difference of 6d. per lb. between the stemmed and unstemmed was intended to make it to the interest of the manufacturer to do the stemming in Australia, -
At this time the Government proposed a margin of only 3d. per lb. between the duty on the stemmed and the unstemmed leaf-
I do not think that 3d. suggested in the proposed division will accomplish this, as it would be more than absorbed in the loss and work necessary to be done to bring it to the condition of the imported strips.
Mr. Nevill, as the result of his experience, not only in Australia, but in the United States, was strongly of opinion thai the margin of 3d. per lb. between the duty on stemmed and that on unstemmed tobacco would not cause the local manufacturers to import the unstemmed leaf and stem it in Australia. Senator Pearce has said that 3d. per lb. would more than cover the cost of stemming the leaf here. But that is contrary to the experience and advice of Mr. Nevill.
– Would the honorable senator put Mr. Nevill’s advice before that of a tobacco manufacturerlike Mr. Schuh, who says that it costs him only 2d. per lb. to strip his leaf in Melbourne.
– I am putting before the Committee information which I am in duty bound to give. It would have been difficult for the Government, before submitting their proposals to Parliament, to ask for the views of a man outside the Commonwealth service. Possibly, in such circumstances, information as to the duties proposed by us might inadvertently have got abroad. But as soon as the Tariff proposals had been presented to Parliament, and had become public property, the Government sought the first opportunity - having read Mr. Nevill’s evidence before the Tariff Commission - to obtain his advice in respect to their proposals.
– Did the Government ever think of asking what was the Wages Board rate for stripping tobacco here ? The information could have been obtained from the office of the Chief Inspector of Factories in Melbourne.
– They obtained the whole of the information which was thought necessary.
– The whole of the information that they thought of or considered necessary.
– Exactly. I candidly admit that I do not know to what questions our officers confined their attention. I cannot say whether their inquiry was or was not a’ most exhaustive one, or whether there was any avenueleft unexplored ; but the Government, relying confidently upon the skill, experience, and ability of their officers, accepted their recommendations’, and were satisfied that they had made, under the circumstances, the fullest investigation. I give that as a reason why there has been a deviation from the recommendation of the Tariff Commission in respect of differential duties on stemmed and unstemmed tobacco leaf, and I repeat that we cannot alter one of these items without throwing out of gear the whole scheme in relation to the tobacco duties. The items must be taken conjointly.
– Whilst I have no sympathy with monopolistic institutions, I cannot, as a protectionist, consistently support the request proposed by Senator Pearce. The honorable senator has strongly emphasised the point that a margin of 6d. per lb. in favour of tobacco that is stripped in Australia is altogether too great, seeing that information supplied to him shows that it does not cost anything like that sum to stem the leaf. That may be so, but when it was first proposed that encouragement should be given to the industry, I suggested that stripped tobacco was coming into Australia in large quantities, and that ray information was that it was stripped in the United States of America by coloured labour. It was to discourage the importation of stripped tobacco, and with a view to finding more employment for our own people that the differential duties were suggested. I believe that in Great Britain there is a differential duty of 3d. per lb. Australian conditions are somewhat different from those obtaining in the Old Land, but it is the desire of labour folk in the Commonwealth to so improve conditions of labour here that this continent will be regarded as the best in the world for the working man and the working woman. Senator Pearce said that, according to estimates submitted to him, the cost of stripping was approximately 2d. per lb.
– Messrs. Towns and Company, of Sydney, in a circular which they have issued, say that it is probably £d. per lb.
– They are. importers, and not manufacturers of tobacco; it would seem ‘that even amongst experts there is a difference of opinion on this point. Evidence has teen given in Great Britain that the differential rate of 3d per lb. about covers the difference in the cost of labour.
– There is another factor to be considered - the waste.
– The manufac turers in Great Britain asked’ that the duty of 3d. per lb. should be . removed, because it did not pay them to lay down a stripping plant.
– I think that it was first suggested by Messrs Gallagher and Co., independent manufacturers of tobacco who were endeavouring to fight the American trusts. Mr. Nevill, whose opinion is entitled to serious consideration, fixes the cost of stripping at 3d. per lb., and considered the differential dutyproposed totally inadequate. I am r.ot aware that he has any other object in view than the encouragement of the tobacco industry in Australia and the assistance of the workers engaged in it. In addition to the cost of stripping, the freight and waste must be considered. I know something of the stripping of tobacco which is used in the manufacture of cigars, and possibly more labour and time is employed in the stripping of leaf used for plug tobacco. If it is true that the duty proposed would give an advantage to the Combine I am certain that after the discussions which have taken place in the Senate and the information given by Senator Pearce, the public would demand that tobacco should be supplied to the consumer at a lower price, or the workmen and women engaged in stripping would demand higher remuneration for their labour. If either of these results follows, the discussion on the subject will not have been fruitless. Knowing the desire on the part of operatives to share in the protection so long enjoyed chiefly by the manufacturers, I am satisfied that they will in future be extremely anxious to see that they derive some benefit from the additional protection, proposed to be given to local tobacco manufacturers, in order that the stripping of tobacco shall be carried out in the Commonwealth. I sym pathize in a measure with the view put forward by Senator Pearce, but, as a protectionist, I cannot consistently vote for a reduction of the differential duty.
– I am not proposing a reduction of the duty on leaf, but only of theuty on manufactured tobacco.
– Then I have misunderstood the honorable senator. He laid stress on the fact that the differential duty of 6d. per lb. would give a decided advantage to the Trust by enabling them to make more profit than they had done before.
– The honorable senator’s point was that if the differential duty was high it would enable the Trust to exploit the consumer.
– I have said that the consumer, in the circumstances is not likely to allow himself to be exploited for any great length of time, and if the facts have been correctly stated by Senator Pearce, the operatives will demand a wage which will compensate them for the labour they perform in view of the advantage which Senator Pearce has maintained would be given to the Trust.
– In discussing the differential duty between stripped and unstripped tobacco, it appears to me that previous speakers have fallen into a common error. Estimating the cost of stripping here, they have assumed that it is correct to add that cost, whatever it be, to the amount of the import duty. It should not be forgotten that the stripping of tobacco is not done in other countries for nothing, and what ought to be added, therefore, is only the excess cost of the labour of stripping in, the Commonwealth, as compared with the cost of that work done elsewhere. The purchaser of unstripped tobacco elsewhere would naturally pay a smaller price for it than he would have to pay for stripped or partially manufactured tobacco, and it is therefore erroneous to add to the proposed duty of is. 6d. the total cost of stripping here. I am personally disposed to consider in this matter not so much the interests of the manufacturers as those of the growers of tobacco leaf. I cannot help thinking that many honorable senators who are similarly concerned would, by supporting- the Government proposal, unconsciously take a step in the interests of the manufacturer rather than of the grower. Senator Pearce’s proposal, if given effect, would not be in the slightest degree detrimental, but on the contrary, as I shall endeavour to show, would be beneficial to the local growers of tobacco. One of the chief regrets amongst public men in connexion with this industry is that the local leaf is not more largely used. Many reasons are given to account for this, but I venture to say that one reason is that local manufacturers of tobacco are given such an ample profit in the margin between the duty on the imported unmanufactured, article and that on the imported manufactured article ‘ that they are given no inducement to use the local leaf.
– That statement is borne out by the. evidence of Mr. Davis, a Sydney manufacturer of tobacco.
– I have read the reports of the Commission, but I have not been able to give very close attention to the evidence. The tobacco manufacturers carrying on enormous transactions are enabled to purchase unmanufactured tobacco to the best advantage in the markets of the world, and as they obtain an ample profit by using imported leaf, they are thus (riven less inducement to look for their supplies to the local market. If this be so, in proportion as we take away the protection as between unmanufactured and manufactured tobacco, we should force the local manufacturer more and more to look to other means by which to compete with the importations of manufactured tobacco, and he could do so, in my opinion, only bv using more and more of the colonial leaf. Assuming that the Excise duty remained as it is if we made the import duty on manufactured and unmanufactured tobacco the same, it is clear that the local manufacturer of tobacco would not be able to compete against imported manufactured tobacco, except in one way, . and that is by the use of local leaf, in which case he would avoid the import duty altogether. If my reasoning be correct, the greater the difference between the duty upon imported manufactured and unmanufactured tobacco the greater the inducement to. the manufacturer to import his leaf and the less his inducement to purchase locally-grown leaf. Let me further point out that Senator Pearce’s proposal does not in any way affect the amount .of protection given to the local grower. He is given protection under this Tariff of is. 6d. per lb.
– - Plus the freight on the imported leaf.
– For the purpose of my argument I am content to estimate the protection given him at is. 6d., and I think that even the most reckless protectionist, bearing in mind the average price of tobacco leaf, will admit that is. 6d. per lb. is a very fair measure of protection indeed. The only question is whether we are doing anything to induce the manufacturers of tobacco to use locally-grown leaf. When we offer them such a large difference as is. per lb. between the amount of duty imposed on imported unmanufactured tobacco and on the manufactured article, we take from them the inducement to use local leaf ; otherwise they would be unable to hold the market against the importations of manufactured . tobacco. These remarks have been made because I am more concerned about the development of the tobacco growing industry than about the interests of the local tobacco manufacturers, whose industry is sufficiently established. We have only to look at the statistics to know that the tobacco manufacturing industry is not merely well established, but is expanding; whilst, on the other hand, the figures with respect to the growth of tobacco in Australia are not so satisfactory. If we propose by this Tariff to stimulate our industries, those which call for special consideration are those which, like the tobacco growing industry, are in an unsatisfactory and struggling condition. It is for this reason that I am prepared to support the request submitted by Senator Pearce.
.If there is any industry in connexion with which the arrangement of n proper measure of protection is a complicated matter it is the tobacco industry. I agree with Senator Millen that the grower should receive far more consideration than he does under the present Tariff. When, the matter was before the Tariff Commission it was with a view to give the growers, of tobacco as much encouragement as possible that a duty of is. 9d. .on unstemmed leaf was recommended. I do not agree with Senator Millen or Senator Pearce that the reduction of the duty on imported manufactured tobacco would be of any assistance to the local grower, manufacturer, or operative in the tobacco industry. On the contrary, I believe it would be detrimental to all three. But I agree with Senators Pearce and Millen that if we are prepared to leave the duty on the. manufactured article at 3s. 6d. per lb., as at present, and to increase the tv on on unstemmed imported leaf to is. 9d., and that on stemmed leaf to 2s. 3d., the local grower would te given a great deal more encouragement than he is given under the Tariff in its present form. The question as to whether a differential duty on stemmed and unstemmed leaf of 3d. per lb. is sufficient is not, to my mind, of very great consequence so long as the difference between manufactured tobacco and imported leaf is sufficiently low to compel manufacturers to resort more largely to the use of local leaf. That is what I should like to see this Tariff accomplish. Tha’t is the object which the Tariff Commission had in view in recommending that the duty upon unstemmed unmanufactured tobacco should be is. 9d. per lb., whilst the duty upon stemmed unmanufactured tobacco should be 2s. per lb. So far as the Excise is concerned, I do not see that that makes a great deal of difference, so long as it is not too high, seeing that it will apply both to the tobacco manufactured from locally-grown leaf and to that manufactured from imported leaf. If the Excise were fixed at is. 3d. per lb., and imported unstemmed leaf were made dutiable at 1 S. 9d. per lb., that would be equivalent to an import and Excise duty of. 3s. per Jb. There would thus be a margin of only 6d. per lb. in favour of the Australian manufacturer. I believe that if the recommendation of the Tariff Commission had been adopted-, it would have been to the advantage of the growers of tobacco in Australia. But I am convinced that if we reduced the duty upon imported manufactured tobacco by 3d. per lb., we should injure alike the grower, the manufacturer, and the tobacco operatives.
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that the imports would increase ?
– I do not say that they would increase, but certainly they would not decrease as rapidly as I should like to see them decrease in the interests alike of the growers, the manufacturers, and the operatives. That is what I mean. I hope to see the day when the manufacture of tobacco - so far as our own requirements are concerned - will be confined exclusively to Australia. Of course, J. know that there are a great many smokers who have cultivated a taste for a particular brand, and who are not prepared to abandon the use of imported tobacco in favour of leaf which is locally-grown and manufactured. But -I believe that a specialty in tobacco will yet lae produced in the Commonwealth, which will be favorably received by smokers. I have no desire to “ scotch the monopoly which Senator Pearce is so exceedingly anxious to “ scotch.” I want it to continue to expand until it has a complete monopoly of the manufacture of tobacco in Australia. When it has obtained that power, I am satisfied that should it wield it to the injury of the consumers, the latter are possessed of sufficient intelligence to join the Labour Party or any other party which may be anxious to nationalize the industry. As a warning to the monopoly, I wish to add that if it is in too big a hurry to .make a . fortune out of the workers and growers of tobacco in Australia, there are gentlemen, like Senator Pearce, who are always watching its movements and who are prepared to take advantage of any mistakes which it may make.
.- The remarks of Senator Pearce appear to have been entirely directed to the effect which the proposed duty will have upon our tobacco manufacturers and upon our consumers. It has been said again and again that this Parliament has decided that the Tariff shall be protective in its inci.dence. It is rather remarkable, therefore, that the moment we are asked to deal with an industry which is capable of being con- verted into a big primary industry, those who have made that statement wish to abandon their protectionist principles and to make the Tariff one more in the nature of a free-trade Tariff. I would point out that if we are going to pass a Tariff which will enhance the cost of production, the tobacco grower is just as much entitled to a little consideration as is any other .member of the community.
– Who has proposed to lower the measure of protection extended to the growers?
– If we increase the cost of production throughout Australia by the imposition of heavier duties, the tobacco grower is entitled to his fair share of protection to enable him to meet that increased cost. It has been said, in effect, that “ everything in the garden is lovely,” and* that the tobacco industry is progressing by leaps and -bounds. Now, I hold in my hand the report of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission upon this industry. It is signed by Sir
John Quick, Mr. F. Clarke, and Senators Higgs and McGregor. They say -
Generally the effect of the existing duties has been to bring about an increase in the importation of foreign leaf, with a consequent diminution in the consumption of local leaf.
That is a very clear and distinct statement. I take it that they would not have made such a definite declaration had it not been founded upon fact. They further add-
Mr. Nevill’s evidence undoubtedly points to the conclusion that when the Commonwealth Tariff was framed the interests of the manufacturers of imported leaf, and the indentors of manufactured tobacco, received more favorable consideration than those of the grower, with the result that the consumption of local leaf has diminished and the imports of raw leaf have increased. It can therefore be seen that what is intended or desired to be a protective policy proves to be so only to the manufacturer.
– But under this proposal the honorable senator would be conferring a greater benefit only upon the importer of unmanufactured leaf.
– The free-trade section of the Tariff Commission, which was composed of Senator Clemons, and Messrs. Fuller, Fowler, and Wamsley, in their conclusions upon this matter, say -
On a review of the complete evidence, we are of opinion : -
That the existing duties of Customs and Excise have not in any way assisted the tobacco-growing industry in Australia. On the contrary, they encouraged the importation of tobacco leaf by opening out to the manufacturers in the Commonwealth a large margin of profit, determined by the difference between 3s. 3d., the Customs duty on manufactured tobacco, and 2s. 6d., the total of1s. Excise and1s. 6d. Customs duty on unmanufactured leaf.
That some parts of Australia are admirably suited for the cultivation of tobacco, and the future success of the industry should depend only upon the skill and experience of those engaged in it.
These are the statements of the two sections of the Tariff Commission, and I take it that unless honorable senators are possessed of very much more knowledge than was possessed by that body, they will admit that under the operation of the old duties the importation of foreign leaf was increasing, whilst the consumption of the local leaf was relatively decreasing.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2p.m.
– I showed before lunch by quotations from the Tariff Commission’s reports that the result of the late Tariff was to increase the amount of imported leaf, and to decrease the use and production of Australian leaf generally. Our business in connexion with this Tariff is, I presume, to find a remedy for that state of affairs, and so one must cast around to see what proposals can be made, in the light of the experience wehave had, that are likely to lead to an improved condition of affairs-. Some honorable senators will juggle with figures, and prove that the Combine is going to get all the benefit, or that this Tariff will enable the Combine to wipe out the importations of manufactured tobacco, and that it will not in any way assist the local grower; but we have the undoubted experience of Queensland before Federation to show that with an increased duty upon the manufactured article at that time - no less than 4s. per lb. - the production of tobacco in Australia, the use of Australiangrown leaf, and the local manufacture of imported leaf were all put upon a better footing. For the six years ending 30th June,1899, in Queensland, the manufacture of leaf increased by 17¼ per cent.; the imports of unmanufactured tobacco decr eased by 91½ per cent. and the amount of colonial leaf manufactured increased by no less than 338 per cent. In the face of such startling, but incontrovertible, figures, it is but a modest request on the part of the Government that we should go some slight way back towards the conditions that accomplished such good results.
– Senator McGregor’s proposal would be in that direction, but the Government proposal would not.
– The Government’s proposal goes in that direction, although I do not say it goes the whole distance. Senator McGregor’s proposal is not yet before the Committee. The results which I have quoted are sufficiently startling to make one feel chary about refusing the moderate assistance to the tobacco industry which the Government propose. Moreover, these duties are very complicated. Many of us have taken weeks to study them. I took the opportunity during a recent visit to Queensland to inquire closely into the matter, and I know that if we start to alter any of these duties the whole division will have to be recast. If we alter one duty, such as that on manufactured tobacco - say, from 3s. 6d. to 3s. 3d. - without being prepared to go through and recast the whole divi sion we shall land ourselves in greater difficulties than we have ever been in before. I wish to refer to the constant outcry against the Trust or Combine. I hold in my. hand a letter that has already been quoted by Senator Pearce from Messrs. R. Towns and Company, Sydney. They are importers of manufactured tobacco. It stands absolutely to reason that any suggestion to impose a duty upon anything coming into this country should raise an outcry from the importer. I am not at all surprised that my free-trade friends, who believe in absolutely free imports, should support Messrs. Towns and Company in their attempt to have the duty on manufactured tobacco reduced, but I .take exception to that firm addressing to members of this Chamber letters containing such statements as are contained in this letter. One of them practically is to the effect that the Trust or Combine “got at” the members of another Chamber, and brought all their influence to bear on them. If they will make a statement of that kind, I take it that they would probably be prepared, in the event of this Chamber agreeing to these duties, to assert that the Trust have “got at” some of us also. Personally, I have had no communication whatever from the Trust. If I had I should take no more notice of it than of a communication from any other people. I should weigh their representations on their merits, and decide for myself what was the best thing to do.
– Messrs. Towns and Company do not say that the members of another place were “ got at.”
– I said that that was the effect of one of their statements. It is as follows -
We have introduced this firm’s brands of “Edgeworth” and “ Gold Bond” during the last twelve months with so much success, that we have attracted the attention of the Trust, who have, we believe, brought every influence to bear upon the Legislature to get the’ Tariff altered’ in the way that has been adopted, in order that all such independent concerns may be crushed out.
– That may be a perfectly innocent thing. It all depends on how we interpret it.
– I am expressing my personal opinion of their letter. I object to such charges. The result has been accomplished in, the other Chamber, an’d the charge practically is that the other Chamber has been induced by the representations of the Trust or Combine, to do certain things.
– They do not say that it was improper. It might be quite a proper influence.
– They closed their letter with the following significant remark -
We, therefore, put these facts before you with the hope that you will use your efforts to bring about a reduction in the extra duties imposed on manufactured imported tobacco, which we believe have been imposed by the Lower House without the knowledge that the existing Tariff plays right into the hands of the Trust. ‘
It is only natural that these importers, in their endeavour to defend their own trade, should try to “ ..1 “ us on to some other dog, and stir up our wrath against the Trust or Combine. The evidence taken by the Tariff Commission shows that the BritishAustralasian Tobacco Company, or Combine, have been genuinely anxious to establish tobacco growing throughout Australia. They have sent men out, supplied farmers with seed, and given instructions. According to the evidence they have on the whole behaved .very well towards the grower, and apparently it is not their desire to crush out the growth of local leaf and import leaf if they can avoid it. But in the manufacture of tobacco it is necessary to establish brands, which must be made from bulk samples of leaf. You cannot import the greater portion of your. tobacco and at the same time try to manufacture from small samples of leaf obtained in the country. For that reason, if for no other, the Combine have been keen upon getting more leaf grown inside the Commonwealth. Regarding the question of stripped versus. unstripped leaf, a good deal has been said to the effect that money is going to be made out of the business owing to the duty on stemmed leaf. Mr. Nevill, in his evidence before the Tariff Commission, points out the reasons why the cost of stemming tobacco out here is fairly high - as much as from 4d. to 4½d. a lb., which is a very different thing from the statement qf importers, who probably know nothing about the matter, that it will cost only $d. a lb. In the “Old Country, the question of stripping tobacco was brought up not long ago, when Mr. Austin Chamberlain was Chancellor of the Exchequer. He then imposed a differential duty equal to 3d. per lb. upon stemmed leaf, with the idea of getting the tobacco stemmed in the United Kingdom. But what hardened afterwards? I quote this from Mr. Nevill, as showing that the business of stemming is a considerable and expensive process: -
Englandhas made this reduction at the solicitation of local manufacturers, they pointing out that England had no tobacco growing industry to preserve ; and to equip factories and train hands for the work would entail heavy expenditures, not justified by the local conditions.
– Does that apply to stripping ?
– If the honorable senator goes into a tobacco factory, he will be disabused of the idea of its being a costly process. The costly plant which they have is two nails stuck up on a bench, on which the leaf is stripped.
– I am only quoting from the best evidence which I have. I venture to think that people like Mr. Nevill, the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the Old Country, and others who deal with these things scientifically, know what the process is, and when they make the statement officially that it requires a considerable plant and trained workers. I presume that they speak with knowledge.
– What the honorable senator has quoted may apply to the manufacture of tobacco.
– I am referring to the question of stripping the leaf before it comes into this country. In conclusion, I wish to emphasize the fact that under the old Queensland Tariff tobacco-growing, and the consumption of locally-manufactured leaf, increased by leaps and bounds. A large industry was built up which, with other States’ industries of the same nature, has gradually gone down since the imposition of the first Commonwealth Tariff, according to the Royal Commission’s report. As Mr. Nevill said in his evidence before the Commission in Queensland, unless some relief is given in the matter of duties, the life of the industry in Queensland will be only a short one. I strongly urge the Committee not to interfere with any one or two of these items, but to accept the division as it has been put before us after careful consultation and consideration. Although the Government proposal does not go so far as I should like it to go, I think it will do a great deal towards re-establishing and building up in Australia a great industry which should never have been allowed to go back as it has done in the last few years.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) debating a proposal to reduce the duties on leaf, I could have understood his arguments, the whole of which have been directed to show the necessity of protecting the grower. I am prepared to increase the protection to the grower. That is the only way he can be helped. The honorable senator, in. fighting for protection to the manufacturer, will not protect the grower. Mr. Nevill, the very man upon whom he is relying, sets that out very strongly in his evidence on page 352 of the report of the Tobacco Commission, question 28371 -
Tobacco costing 6d., by the time this work is done - including cost of work - stands at about 10d., so that we see, instead of1s. 6d. protection, as intended, we really have only about 1s. protection against the imported leaf. From this it is apparent why the manufacturer prefers to work the foreign leaf. Another point is that revenue in the end must suffer from the inadequate difference between the imported manufactured and that manufactured here; to allow imports of the former 3s. 3d. on manufactured and1s. 6d.,1s., or 2s. 6d. on unmanufactured, leaves an apparent difference of 9d. ; but when we consider the duty-free ingredients that go into the locally-made product, the real difference is1s. This enables the manufacturer to exclude the imports of manufactured tobacco to a great extent, and it being the higher duty paying, the revenue will suffer in the long run, so it can be seen that the whole trend is to use imported leaf.
Mr. Nevill there estimates the cost of stripping at 4d. Does Senator Chataway notice that that witness, dealing with a set of circumstances similar to those that exist under this Tariff, points out that a Tariff framed in that fashion leads the manufacturer to use imported leaf? If the honorable senator desires to meet Mr. Nevill ‘s case he ought to increase the duty on imported leaf, and not maintain a high duty on manufactured tobacco, because Mr. Nevill points out that the latter has failed in the past to accomplish its object.
– Mr. Nevill points out that the failure was in Queensland, not under the State law but under the reduced Commonwealth duty.
– The Queensland Tariff was effective, not because the duty was high on manufactured tobacco, but because it was high on imported leaf. I say, again, that I am prepared to adopt the Queensland Tariff as to manufactured leaf. In any case, the whole tenor of Mr. Nevill’s evidence is in favour of more protection to the grower, by increasing the duty on leaf ; and I cannot understand Senator Chataway quoting Mr. Nevill against my proposal.
– I am quoting Mr. Nevill in favour of maintaining the duty on manufactured tobacco.
– Mr. Nevill in no part of his evidence troubled himself about manufactured tobacco; all his evidence was directed to showing the necessity for a higher duty on imported leaf - that, given a scale of duties adjusted on the basis of the old Tariff, or of this one, the tendency of the manufacturer is to the use of imported leaf. I am surprised that I do not get Senator McGregor’s support for my proposal. I direct attention to the fact that the protectionist members of the Tariff Commission, including the honorable senator himself, recommended protection on plug tobacco to the extent of 6d. per lb. ; they did not even propose as much protection as was afforded in the old Tariff.
– That was because we made the duty on the leaf higher. We recommended that when the manufacturer used imported leaf he should have protection to the extent of 6d. per lb., but that, when he used Australian leaf, the protection should be1s.9d.
– But my proposal is to give the manufacturer who uses imported leaf protection to the extent of 9d. per lb., or 50 per cent. more; whereas the proposal of the Government is to give the manufacturer of imported leaf100 per cent. more than was recommended by the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission. Furthermore, the protectionist section of the Commission recommended that if the leaf were brought in unstemmed, the protection should amount to only 3d. per lb. : and. under the circumstances, I think I should have Senator McGregor’s vote. If my motion is not carried, I shall support any proposal to give further protection to the grower.
.- It is evident that Senator Pearce’s request, if adopted here and in another place, will result in additional importation of manufactured tobacco.
– Why has there not been that result under the old Tariff during the last six years?
– Messrs. Towns and Company, of Sydney, are importers, and very little interested in the creation or maintenance of industries in Australia ; and I ask why they are anxious that the duty on manufactured tobacco should be reduced, if it is not to enable them to obtain a wider and larger market? That firm is interested in the consumption of tobacco, only from an importer’s stand-point. They say, and there is no doubt of the fact, that if the duty on manufactured tobacco be reduced from 3s. 6d. to 3s. 3d., they will have bigger sales; and this, of course, means more competition with the established industry in Australia. The firm points out that the result of the action of another place has been to give further advantages to the Tobacco Combine; and that may be so. I do not expect there is anybody in the Chamber who is more anxious than myself that monopolistic institutions should be owned and controlled by the State ; but, at the same time, I cannot get away from the fact that I am a protectionist. The result of the motion of Senator Pearce would undoubtedly be to weaken the protectionist policy of Australia. Messrs. Towns and Company say that they expected a higher duty on imported leaf and an increase in the Excise, which would have given themselves, and other importing firms, considerable advantage in competing against the Combine. The tobacco industry of this country has been established by the protectionist policy ; and it is not my place to in any way weaken that policy.
– My proposal does not weaken the protectionist policy, but leaves such firms as Towns and Company exactly where they were.
– The motion, if carried, would give Towns and Company additional strength.
– Every additional pound of tobacco imported increases the competition against tobacco locally grown and manufactured. If we desire to encourage the growth of Australian tobacco and its manufacture, we ought to increase the duty on the leaf, allowing the duty on manufactured tobacco to remain as at present.
– Then the struggle between unmanufactured leaf and the imported manufactured article would be exactly the same as if we adopted Senator Pearce’s proposal.
– When efforts are made in this or another place to give assistance to Australian industries, those who do not believe in the protectionist policy do all they can to oppose any increased duties; yet, at this moment, we have them professing to be extremely anxious to encourage Australian industries, and stating they would sooner give encouragement to the Australian tobacco industry than assistance to the importation of the manufactured article. I have no regard for the Tobacco Combine as a combine ; but it is self-evident that if the Combine were satisfied that Australian leaf was pleasing to the palate of Australian smokers, they would not pay the additional price for imported leaf.
– That is not quite what the honorable senator said when dealing with the Tobacco Combine on a previous occasion.
– I do not know that I said anything in the nature suggested by Senator Millen, at any rate, I know that the majority of the smokers say they prefer tobacco which is manufactured from the imported leaf. The Tobacco Combine are in business for what profits they can make; and I feel sure that if the taste of Australian smokers was for tobacco made from Australian leaf, the Combine would not go to the additional expense and trouble of importing. This Tobacco Combine is a monopoly, which I hope will, in a very short time, be owned and controlled by the people as a whole; but, in the interests of the growers and those employed in the manufacture, the duties ought to remain as they are. Although there is a Tobacco Combine, we must recognise that it has been created under the protectionist policy which is of advantage to the country, as compared with the imported industry.
.- I understood Senator Pearce to suggest that I said that Mr. Nevill proposed to increase the duty on manufactured tobacco, and that, therefore, the statement I made was not correct. I certainly should not willingly mislead the Committee; and 1 should like to quote from the report of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission, which gives a summary of the answer of Mr. Nevill, to question 28372, as follows -
It has been proposed on behalf of Queenslandthat the old State duties should be reverted to. It is believed that the 4s. import duty would not be objected to or combated so strongly as it was in1901, for thereason that since that year the position of the trade has entirely changed. At that time the tobacco merchants controlled and encouraged the importation of manufactured tobacco, and fought, as they had every right to do, against the imposition of a rate which differentiated too greatly between the import of manufactured tobacco and the import ofleaf.
– Read on.
– That is all I think it necessary to read, but if the honorable senator desires I shall go on -
Now that aspect of affairs does not concern the merchant, owing to the fact that all brands of tobacco imported are controlled by a combination of local manufacturers and their allies - the American and Imperial tobacco companies; hence the imported leaf manufactured here will largely supplement imported manufactures. Referring to the same subject, the Premier of Queensland says : - “ When the Commonwealth Tariff was adopted it was generally understood that the preference it undoubtedly gave the manufacturer and importer over the” farmer was due to the influence exercised by the importer of manufactured tobacco. But now the importer has no interest in the matter; for he no longer controls the trade, as a gigantic trust has usurped his place.”
The rest deals with cigars, and I do not propose to read further. What I have quoted fully justifies my statement that Mr. Nevill advocated an increased duty on manufactured tobacco.
– Just now Senator Findley said it was rather remarkable that whenever a proposal was made, designed to foster Australian industries, there were always those who attempted to oppose it. It appears to me that the position is now the other way about - that whenever there is anything called a duty proposed there are certain honorable senators who vote for it without regard to the ultimate effect. It does not follow that, because a duty is imposed in a particular way on a manysided industry like this, it will necessarily improve the industry as a whole. The tobacco industry is complicated by the fact that, in contradistinction to most industries, there is an additional element. In the case of an ordinary industry we have to consider the manufacturer, the workman, and the consumer; but here we have another factor in the person of the grower. The question, it seems to me, is whether it is desirable to give some additional inducement to the manufacturer to continue manufacturing imported leaf, or whether we ought to try to do something by a readjustment of the duties, to show him the desirability, or, if honorable senators like, the necessity, of more largely relying on locally-grown leaf. The latter being the object which I and others have in view, it is unfair to say that we are taking action now in a. hostile spirit towards the industry of Australia. Senator Findley shows by the vote he intends to cast that he attaches a great deal more importance than I do to the encouragement of the local manufacture of imported leaf. My desire is to encourage the manufacture of locally-grown leaf.
– My vote will show that I am anxious to encourage the manufacture of imported leaf, as against the introduction of manufactured tobacco.
– To that extent I am with the honorable senator. But during the operation of the Tariff of 1902, when there was a difference of only 9d. between the duty on imported leaf, and that on the manufactured article - exactly the same difference that will operate if Senator Pearce’s request be adopted - the importation of manufactured leaf fell steadily and rapidly.
– The honorable senator’s desire can be achieved much more readily by increasing the duty on imported leaf.
– I do not think so. If we give them this additional 3d. per lb., we shall give them a larger profit by using imported leaf than they have hitherto had. Previously, they have had a margin of 9d. on which to come and go in their contest with importers, but to-day honorable senators want to give them1s. In other words, they will get 33 per cent. more than they had under the old Tariff. It does appear to me that, in allowing this larger margin, we are running a very grave risk of their returning to the old habit of importing leaf instead of looking to local growers for their supplies. It was unfair, in fact absolutely incorrect, to say that because of this contest over a complicated matter, when one section of the Committee attaches more importance to one branch of the industry than to another, we on this side are necessarily seeking to injure or destroy an Australian industry.
– I did not say that.
– I strongly resent the imputation. I believe that the duty as proposed by Senator Pearce would be much more likely to assist the growers of leaf, and much less likely to assist the big manufacturers of imported leaf, than the duty as proposed in the schedule.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on “Tobacco, manufactured, n.e.i.,” 3s. 3d. per lb. (Senator Pearce’s request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 13
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to.
Item 19 (Tobacco, cut) and item 20 (Tobacco, unmanufactured) agreed to.
Item21. Tobacco, unmanufactured, but entered to be locally manufactured into Tobacco or Cigarettes - to be paid at the time of removal to the factory : -
– In a previous speech I intimated my intention to move that the duty on unstemmed tobacco leaf be restored to1s. 9d. per lb., as recommended by the Tariff Commission. I have already stated that their object in making that recommendation was to create a greater inducement for the manufacturer to use Australian leaf. Under the old Tariff, the duty on all unmanufactured leaf was1s. 6d. per lb., and in this Tariff it has been restored to that sum. I believe that the influence which was brought to bear upon the members of another place was not only the influence of the manufacturers, but also of the workers, because the latter feared that if the duty on unmanufactured leaf were increased to1s. 9d. it would have a. tendency to increase the importation of manufactured tobacco. That is the principal reason why I voted against the amendment to reduce the duty on manufactured tobacco to 3s. 3d. But it will be seen that if the duty on unstemmed leaf is increased to1s.9d. per lb., and the Excise duty is left as it is, there will be a preference of at least 9d. to Australian tobacco made from any kind of leaf as compared with imported tobacco. Although Senator Millen is of the opinion that a preference of 6d. is quite enough, I think that it would be better to give that margin.
– I did not say 6d. It was9d. that I wanted.
– The honorable senator will get a preference of9d. now, and in addition there will be a 3d. guarantee that the importation of manufactured tobacco will not increase. Whether that guarantee will have any effect on him or not remains to be seen. I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 21, paragraph a,1s.9d. per lb.
In paragraph b I also intend to submit a request.
– I desire, if it is possible, to strike out of this item the words “ or cigarettes,” for the purpose of moving that a higher duty be imposed upon unmanufactured tobacco when imported for the making of cigarettes. In my opinion it should be subjected to the same duty as is imposed on unstemmed leaf when imported for the manufacture of cigars. As the schedule stands, however, it allows the manufacturers of cigarettes to import unmanufactured leaf at a very low rate - much lower than the rate which is imp osed upon such leaf when imported for the manufacture of cigars. I look upon the use of cigarettes as a curse, and therefore I am anxious that tobacco leaf which is imported for their manufacture should b e subjected to duties of 2s. 6d. and 3s. per lb.
– It will be necessary for Senator McGregor’s request to be withdrawn before the honorable senator can move in that direction.
– I have no objection, sir.
Request, by leave, withdrawn.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 21 by leaving out the words “ or cigarettes.”
My object is to get the words “ or cigarettes “ deleted from this item, and placed after the word “ cigars “ in the next item. I do not see why we should give a special advantage to the manufacturer and distributor of cigarettes in Australia as compared with the man who imports leaf tobacco to be manufactured into cigars. But the schedule as it stands offers a special inducement to the manufacturer of cigarettes in the shape of a lower duty than is imposed on the raw material of the cigar manufacturer. In order to discourage the use of cigarettes in Australia,
I desire the duty on the raw material for their manufacture to be the same as that which is levied on the raw material for the cigar manufacturer.
.- I should like to ascertain the real object of this request. If it is proposed for the purpose of preventing the manufacture and consumption of cigarettes, I can understand it. But if it is merely proposed for the purpose of penalizing a man who engages in that line of business it is making a somewhat invidious distinction.
– How can we prohibit the use of cigarettes otherwise than by this means ?
– I am asking if the’ honorable senator’s real object is to prevent the manufacture of cigarettes, or to limit their consumption. Even if his request is submitted on those lines, he must not be unmindful of the fact that the Victorian Parliament has passed an Act which makes the tobacconist or other trader who sells cigarettes to persons under the age of sixteen liable to punishment, and, although the law may not be strictly observed, we, from time to time, read in the newspapers of the prosecution of offenders against it. Of course, like the laws against Sunday trading, it is difficult to administer, and, no doubt, many boys under the age of sixteen years are able to obtain cigarettes. If Senator Lynch desires to make cigarette smoking less prevalent, he shouldcandidly say so. If he does, he may then get more assistance than he hopes for. But it would not be right to penalize those who are engaged in the manufacture of cigarettes merely because they are in that line of industry.
– Cigarettes should be made dearer, so that boys may not so easily obtain them.
– A diminution in the sale of cigarettes would bring about an increased production of cigars. The cigar industry is of more importance than the cigarette industry, and, according to medical experts, the use of cigarettes is doing a serious injury to the rising generation. Most of the cigarettes in use are made by machines, which turn them out in millions, without giving employment tomuch labour. Most of the labour employed in the making of cigarettes, whether by machines or by hand, is girl labour, which, of course, receives a lower wage than the adult male labour employed in the making of cigars.
Until I have fuller information as to the reasons which have actuated Senator Lynch in moving1 this request, I shall not commit myself in regard to it.
– There is one aspect of the matter which the mover of the request has evidently overlooked, namely, that the import duties must be read in connexion with the Excise duties. Under the Excise Tariff Bill, the duty on machine-made cigars is 9d. per lb., and on hand-made cigars 3d. per lb., while the Excise duty on machine-made cigarettes is 3s. per lb., and on hand-made cigarettes 2s. 9d. per lb. It is obvious, therefore, that we should not make the duty on tobacco imported for the manufacture of cigarettes the same as that on tobacco imported for the manufacture of cigars. Although there has been grown in Au§tralia leaf suitable for the manufacture of pipe and cigar tobacco, I do not think that it will be claimed that there has yet been grown leaf suitable for cigarette tobacco. No doubt, when Senator Lynch reconsiders these matters, he will see that the item had best be left as it is.
– Senator Lynch has expressed the desire to place the manufacturer of cigarettes, and the manufacturer of cigars, . on the same level. At the present time locally-manufactured cigars pay a duty of 3s. 3d., and locally-manufactured cigarettes a duty of 4s. 6d. per lb., so that if Senator Lynch really wishes to secure equality he ought, instead of proposing to increase the import duty on cigarette tobacco, to propose to reduce it.
Request (bv Senator McGregor) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 21, paragraph a, is. 9d. per lb.
– I shall vote against this request, because to increase the duty by 3d. per lb. will mean that the consumer will have to pay 6d. more per lb. for his tobacco.
– How can that happen ?
– Tobacco has already been increased in price because of the increase in the duties.
– I do not pay more for what I buy.
– All the other consumers of tobacco whom I know pay more for it now than they paid prior to the introduction of this Tariff.
– What does the honorable senator pay?
– I now pay 10d. for 2 ozs.”, whereas formerly I bought that quantity for 9d. In some places the price of tobacco has been increased by id’, per oz., and even the House Committee, which, presumably, sells tobacco as cheaply as it can afford to, has increased its prices by id. for every 2 ozs. To further increase the duty by 3d. per lb. would mean an increase of 6d. per lb. on the retail price of tobacco.
– We need revenue.
– We have been told to-day that the Customs and Excise revenue for the Commonwealth has increased, as the result of this .Tariff, at the rate of over .£2,000,000 a year, so that we cannot need more revenue. It must not be forgotten that this moneyis being taken out of the pockets of the public. In my opinion, consumers now pay quite enough for their tobacco. I am sure that the people who smoke tobacco consider that the price is high enough at present.
– My proposal will induce them to smoke more Australiangrown tobacco.
– The smoker as n. rule gets accustomed to a certain brand of tobacco, and will have it, no matter if the price is increased. The people are being compelled to pay quite enough at , present and instead of increasing their burdens, I think that the honorable senator- and those associated with him should do their utmost to decrease taxation. Certainly I shall do nothing to increase .duties beyond what’ I consider to be fair and just ; and I am of opinion that it would be very unfair to increase this duty bv 3d. per lb.
– I do not think that Senator Sayers thoroughly understands the position taken up by those who intend to support the request for an increased duty proposed by me. Had he heard Senator Chataway’s speech with respect to the effect of the duty levied in Queensland prior to Federation, he would be aware that it would be a great advantage to the tobacco-growing industry in Queensland and other parts of Australia to impose an additional 3d. per lb. on unstemmed leaf.
– He was speaking about unmanufactured tobacco leaf.
– We are now talking about the importation of unstemmed tobacco leaf.
– We resisted the reduction of the duty on manufactured tobacco.
– We left it as it stood. Those who are supporting this request consider that the growers of tobacco lea.f in Australia have a right to more consideration than is extended in the Tariff as it stands. We shall still leave a margin of od. on manufactured tobacco from imported leaf, whilst giving an incentive to the consumption of Australian leaf, which will then be 3d. per lb. cheaper than imported leaf. The manufacturer of tobacco from Australian leaf will get that leaf free of duty, and we believe that the Australian people will in time recognise the merits of what is grown in their own country. What I propose was recommended by both sections of the Tariff Commission, and by the witnesses examined by them. I do not see any reason why an additional burden should be placed on the consumer, but if that should be done, the importers of tobacco will certainly come to the rescue of the- consumer. Indeed, the manufacturers will not be able to charge any more. I should like Senator Sayers to look at the matter from that point of view, and to give the growers the benefit of the additional 3d. that I propose. Senator SAYERS (Queensland) [2.59]. - One cf the experts examined by the Tariff Commission was Mr. Nevill, the Queensland expert. When the duty was under consideration in the House of Representatives, Mr. Nevill was in Melbourne, and I believe that it was on his recom- .mendation that the present rate of duty was imposed. Mr. Nevill represents a State in which a large quantity of tobacco is grown. He had interviews with the Minister and the departmental experts, and it was largely through his advice that the present duty was fixed.
– It was not through his influence.
– I am- given to understand that it was. I met Mr. Nevill after he had had interviews with Sir William Lyne and the Comptroller-General of Customs, and the present duty, which is satisfactory to the growers, was the outcome. Why in the face of that should it be .desired to increase it? I do not think that the increase proposed would mean much to the wealthy man, who. generally smokes cigars, but it would mean a great deal to the man who is earning only £2 or ^3 per week. Yesterday, when cotton goods were referred to, an interjection was made by an honorable senator opposite to the effect that the poor pay more for them than do the rich. I quite agree with that, because, although the rich wear cotton goods as well as the poor, yet, as the poor outnumber the rich by probably ten to one, they consume more cotton goods and pay more heavily upon them. The same remark applies to tobacco. The poor consume a considerably larger quantity than do the rich in consequence of their greater numbers, and the increased duty would therefore be an additional burden upon poor men. I hope that Senator McGregor will not push his request to! a division.
– Senator Sayers was quite right when he said that these duties -were framed after the Government had had the advantage of the advice given by Mr. Nevill, the Queensland tobacco expert. In speaking earlier in the day on the first item amongst the tobacco duties, I indicated that after the first Tariff proposals of the Government had become the property of the .other House, the Government took the opportunity of conferring with Mr. Nevill and going into the whole question very fully. The whole of these duties, from the first to the last, are corelated. They are also related to the duties of Excise upon different classes of tobacco. I said then, and the argument was repeated by other honorable senators, that a disturbance of a single one of these duties would probably entail a reconsideration of the whole of them. Mr. Nevill was brought down from Queensland to assist the Government when this subject was under consideration in the other branch of Parliament. In a report to the Government, he spoke of the effect of certain rates of duty in Queensland. But, as Senator Sayers has pointed out to Senator McGregor, the rates of duty to which he was particularly adverting at the time were the rates proposed in respect of manufactured tobacco. In Queensland, the duty on manufactured tobacco ran, I think, up to some’.hing like 4s. per lb. Mr. Nevill, in one of his reports to the Government, wrote -
I would, therefore, suggest that the following rates be adopted : - Strips, 2s. per lb. ; leaf. 1s. 6d. per lb. ; Excise,1s. per lb. ; imported manufactured, 3s.9d. or 4s. per lb.
This1s. 6d. on leaf does not mean a gain to the importer of 6d. over the strips, as the loss in weight and cost of work will probably absorb 4d. to 4½d. of the difference, so practically the above means a protection of9d. to1s. per lb. I believe the above would safeguard all interests concerned.
It proved so in the Queensland Tariff, and resulted in an increase in the consumption of local tobacco between 1896 and1899 of338 per cent., and at the lime of Federation 46 per cent. of the tobacco consumed in that State was of local product.
He speaks there of strips being dutiable at 2s. per lb.,leaf1s. 6d. per lb., and Excise 1s. per lb. In the item we provide for duties of1s. 6d. and 2s. per lb. on unstemmed and stemmed tobacco respectively ; while the Excise duty on the machinemanufactured article is1s. per lb., and on the hand-made 9d. per lb. The duty that we propose on manufactured tobacco is not as high as that which prevailed in Queensland, nor even as high as Mr. Nevill recommended. But it is obvious that in suggesting a duty of about 3s. 9d. or 4s. per lb. on manufactured tobacco, and a duty corresponding to what we are now proposing on stemmed and unstemmed tobacco for manufacturing purposes he had in mind that such rates had been productive of an enormous increase in the consumption of locally-grown tobacco in Queensland. Considerable attention has been given in the various States to the growth of tobacco, but although we are endeavouring, under the Bounties Act, to still further stimulate and encourage the production of high-grade tobacco to be manufactured into cigars, no sustained or consistent effort has yet been made in that direction. Even if there were considerable advances in our output of tobacco, I do not think we should be able for some years to supply more than a small proportion of the leaf required for local consumption. The duties now proposed of1s. 6d. per lb. on unstemmed tobacco and of 2s. per lb. on the stemmed leaf, judging by the experience of Queensland, will afford sufficient protection to our local growers, and lead to a largely increased demand throughout the Commonwealth for the locally produced article, In the circumstances, having regard to the fact that these items have been carefully thought out, that they are interrelated and are bearing on the Excise duties, the Committee would do well to allow the proposal to stand.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on “unstemmed Tobacco”1s. 9d. per lb. (Senator McGregor’s request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 3
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
Request (by Senator Keating) agreed to -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 21, paragraphb, by inserting after the word”stemmed,” the words “ or partly stemmed.”
Request (by Senator McGregor) agreed to-
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 21, paragraph b, 2s. 3d. per lb.
Item 22. Tobacco, unmanufactured, but entered to be locally manufactured into Cigars - to be paid at the’ time of removal to the factory : -
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 22, paragraph a, 2s. per lb.
Should the Committee agree to make that request I shall subsequently move that the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty under paragraph b 2s. 6d. My object is to assist the cigar-making industry. The whole of the cigar-makers of Western Australia have asked for a substantial reduction of the proposed duty, which they claim will, if allowed to stand, involve the extinction of the industry in that State. No contradiction of this statement has been made by any manufacturer of cigars in Western Australia, nor has any protest against it been made by any body of workers in the industry there, and it may therefore be assumed that it is well founded. I am aware that the same, disabilities have been felt by cigar manufacturers in the other States. What is proposed in this Tariff is a tremendous increase in the duty on cigar leaf, which under the old Tariff was dutiable at the same rate as leaf . imported for the manufacture of tobacco. It should not be forgotten that while there is a considerable quantity of tobacco leaf grown in the Commonwealth there is scarcely any, if any, cigar leaf grown here. Honorable senators should bear in mind also that we recently passed a Bounties Bill under which we set aside a certain sum by way of bounty to encourage the growth of cigar leaf in Australia’. In view of that fact there is not the same justification for the enormous duties here proposed for the protection of locally-grown cigar leaf. Let me further add that the rate of duty which I suggest is equivalent to an ad valorem duty of too per cent., since the average value of cigar leaf is from is. 6d. to as. per lb., and that should certainly give adequate protection to local growers’ of cigar leaf. The contention of the cigar manufacturers of Western Australia is borne out by the evidence given before the Tariff Commission by cigar-makers in the other States, and especially, by ‘ Mr. Allertof South Australia, and Mr. Kirwan, of Victoria. All state that if these heavy duties are imposed on cigar leaf they will be. handicapped in their competition against the outside world. If honorable senators will turn to the report of the freetrade section of the Tariff Commission thev will find that thev say -
We accept the portion of the evidence in the report of the Chairman, in which report, however, the statement of the following four witnesses concerned in the manufacture of cigars are altogether ignored : - A manufacturer in New South Wales (Hirschman, page 520 Minutes of Evidence); the President of the Cigar Makers Industrial Union of Australia (Kirwan, page* 511 Minutes of Evidence); the accredited representative of the South Australian branch of the Cigar Makers Mutual Association of Australia (Whitford, page 4QS Minutes of Evidence); and a cigar worker in South Australia Barnett, page 472 Minutes of Evidence).
All were in agreement with the other trade witness (Allert) mentioned in the Chairman’s report that the great bulk of Australian leaf was not satisfactory at present for the manufacture of cigars, particularly by hand.
The members of the Commission in their report give the numbers of the questions at which this evidence is to be found, but
I need not quote them. They go on to say - ‘
Two of the witnesses were very definite on the question. One stated - “After years of experience, I say, most emphatically, that the tobacco leaf grown in Australia is most unsuitable for cigar-making purposes.” - (Kirwan, Q. 79019.) There were, he said, fifty small makers (;?5 licensees) in Victoria who dared not use even a portion of Colonial leaf. The other witness said he was decidedly of opinion that Colonial leaf was worthless for the purpose of manufacturing cigars. “ I go further,” he continued, “ and speaking as a result of 24 years’ experience, I contend that it is totally unfit for consumption in the form of cigars(Barnett, Q. 32160.) -The Cigar Makers Union had fought tooth and nail against it, and its use in South Australia had ruined the industry in that State. - (Barnett, Q. 32217.)
The two representatives of the Cigar Makers Union were in agreement that imported leaf was necessary for the manufacture of cigars, and that it was decidedly desirable that it should be admitted at a low rate of duty. One stated, “ I say, after 30 years’ experience, that it is most positively necessary, in the interests of the cigar industry of Australia, that the raw material should be admitted at a low rate of duty.” The other stated that undoubtedly it was essential foreign leaf should come in under reasonable rates ; and he suggested a reduction of import duly on leaf to 6d. per lb.
It would appear that Australian leaf is chiefly used in the manufacture of cigars by machinery, being ground and packed tight.
These cigars are manufactured by the Trust. There is a number of other quotations dealing with the same subject in the report, which I need not quote. The operation of the Bounties Bill should settle the question, whether leaf suitable for the manufacture of cigars can be grown in Australia.
– And it affords growers quite sufficient protection.
– I should imagine that a duty of 2s. per lb. and a bounty of 2d. per lb. should be protection enough for any industry. I do not propose to labour the point. If the evidence I have quoted from witnesses who earn their living in the industry is not sufficient to convince honorable senators, no argument which I could use will induce the Committee to agree to the request I submit.
– The proposal now before honorable senators seems to be in direct conflict with what appeared to be the desire of a. majority of the Committee as disclosed by the last division. ‘The reason for it is, that Senator Pearce is of opinionthat we cannot grow a leaf suitable for the manufacture of cigars in Australia at the present time, and that notwithstanding the encouragement offered by the Bounties Bill we are not likely to grow such a leaf in the future.
– The manufacturers cannot obtain Australian leaf, at the present time.
– They can obtain Australian leaf for the manufacture of cigars just as they can obtain leaf for the manufacture of tobacco.
– I know of one manufacturer in Western Australia who could not obtain Australian leaf, and as a consequence had to close his factory.
– That fact did not seem to influence the majority of the Committee in dealing with the duties on tobacco. I do not wish, any more than does Senator Pearce, to labour the point, but I repeat that the whole of these duties have been arranged as a complete scheme. They have not been dealt with haphazard or separately.
– But it does not follow that the relationship or proportion is adjusted in the best possible way.
– We think that it is.
– The mere statement that these duties are related one to another does not affirm that the relation is perfect.
– It may not; but the fact that these duties have been considered and dealt with as part of a complete scheme should be known to the Committee when honorable senators are asked to alter them.
– What is thepercentage of protection represented by a duty of 2 s. 6d. per lb. upon unstemmed tobacco ?
– I am informed that it takes 1 1-9 lbs. of leaf to manufacture 1 lb. of cigars. Assuming that one-half of the 1 1-9 lbs. of leaf imported consisted of unstemmed tobacco, and the remainder of stemmed tobacco, the duty payable in respect of the former would be 1s. 42/3d., whilst the duty payable upon the remaining half, at 3s. per lb., would be 1s. 8d. Thus the total duty payable upon the 1 1-9 lbs. of imported leaf - assuming that half of it consisted of stemmed leaf and the balance of unstemmed leaf - would be 3s.02/3d. As the manufactured cigars would be dutiable at 3d. per lb., the total duty payable would be 3s. 32/3d. If, however, the cigars were machine made, the
Excise would be 9d. per lb.The import duty upon the like quantity of cigars manufactured abroad and coming into the Commonwealth under these proposals would be 7s. 6d. The protection afforded would therefore be, in the case of handmade cigars, 7s. 6d. per lb., less 3s. 32/3d. per lb., or 4s. 21/3d. per lb., and in the case of machine-made cigars, 75. 6d: per lb., less 3s. 92/3d. per lb., or 3s. 81/3d. per lb.
– The declared value of the leaf at the Customs House is10d. per lb. What I desire to know is the measure of protection which a duty of 2s. 6d . per lb. would represent?
– The leaf would come in at varying values, I presume. But we must not overlook the fact that upon manufactured cigars a fixed duty is levied, irrespective of values. One leaf might be five times as valuable as another, and one box of cigars might be five times as valuable as another, but each would pay the same amount of duty. That is a fact which we must bear’ in mind in considering any proposals for the imposition of a duty upon the unmanufactured leaf imported for the purpose of being converted into cigars. Assuming that the Australian manufacturer will import stemmed and unstemmed tobacco in equal quantities, his net protection at the rates at present operative would be 4s. 21/3d. per lb. in the case of hand-made cigars, and 3s. 81/3d. per lb. in the case of machine-made cigars. If we lower these rates, we shall certainly be open to. the charge of Senator Pearce that we are giving to those engaged in the manufacture of cigars very much more protection than we should extend to them. I think that the protectionafforded them under the Government proposals is a fair one, always assuming, of course, that they use stemmed and unstemmed tobacco in equal proportions.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on “ Tobacco, unmanufactured, but entered to be locally manufactured into cigars - unstemmed,” 2s. per lb. (Senatorpearce’s request) - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Request (by Senator Keating) agreed to-
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 22, paragraph b, by in- setting after the word “stemmed” the words “or partly stemmed.”
Item 23 (Tobacco destroyed for manufacture of sheep-wash, &c), item 24 (Cigars), item 25 (Cigarettes), and item 26 (Snuff), agreed to.
Division III. - Sugar. - Item 27 (Glucose), item 28 (Cane Sugar), item 29 (Invert Sugar and Syrup), item 30 (Sugar, n.e.i.), item 3t (Golden Syrup and Sugar Syrups), and item 32 (Molasses), agreed to.
Motion (by Senator Best) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its’ rising, adjourn until half-past 2 p.m. on . Wednesday next.
Weather Reports from Tasmania.
Motion (by Senator Best) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I wish to call the attention of the Minister of Home Affairs to a reply which he gave to a question asked by me yesterday regarding weather reports received from Tasmania. My question was misunderstood to refer to weather forecasts sent to Tasmania. At the General Post Office yesterday a public notification was posted up that no weather reports had been received from Tasmania. I made inquiries, and found that the Meteorological Department had received reports from Tasmania, but claimed that it was not responsible for what appeared at the Post Office. There is evidently some want of co-operation between the two Departments. I ask the Minister to make inquiry, and to remedy, if possible, the present state of affairs.
– I did not quite seize the significance of the question asked by the honorable senator yesterday, and hesitated to communicate with the
Commonwealth Meteorologist until this morning. The first thing this morning I caused to be forwarded to that officer the proof slip of the honorable senator’s remarks, as recorded in the official debates. He furnished me with a reply, which I handed to the honorable senator to-day. I had no time to re-read what the honorable senator had said, tout I understood him to refer to weather information going to Tasmania. I do not know of my own knowledge anything of the circumstances to which the honorable senator now refers, but I shall certainly have inquiries made into them.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 3.43 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 24 January 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1908/19080124_senate_3_43/>.