3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
The Acting Clerk acquainted the Senate that he had been informed of the unavoidable absence of the President.
The Deputy-President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I have to announce that the Honorable James Hume Cook, M.P.; was invited to take the position of an Honorary Minister in the Cabinet and has done so, and that yesterday he wassworn in as a member of the Executive Council.
– I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive’ Council, without notice, whether his attention has been called to a paragraph in this morning’s newspapers, stating that there was a proposal to dissolve the partnership between the Royal Mail Steamship Company and the Orient Steam Navigation Company, and. whether such dissolution, if it takes place, will affect in any way the carrying out of the mail contract entered into between the Commonwealth and the latter company ?
– I have consulted my honorable colleague on the subject, and have the assurance of the Department that there is no room for any anxiety.
– I desire to again ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, whether he is yet in a position to acquaint the Senate with the result of the inquiries wh’ch we were informed by him last year were being made regarding the operations of certain alleged trusts and combines?
– I have been furnished by the Department of Trade and Customs with the following reply -
Certain inquiries have been made by the Crown Solicitor into certain alleged contraventions of Part IT. of the Australian Industries Preservation Act 1906. The Attorney-General floes not think it desirable in the public interest that any public announcementrelating to it should be made at this stage of the matter.
– I beg to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, whether he can inform the Senate how far the Government have advanced or proceeded with the preparation of regulations under the Bounties Act, and whether they are likely to be ready soon, as some of the products to which the Act relates are already being grown in fhe Commonwealth ?
– The Department of Trade and Customs have supplied me with the following memorandum -
Immediately after the passing of the Bounties Act, regulations were drafted and submitted to the various State Governments, with the request that their State experts might peruse them, and submit suggestions as to methods of procedure. With the exception of New South Wales, these are now to hand, and it is hoped that the complete regulations will be issued at an early date.
– I beg to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, whether, in view of the statements made by the Minister of Trade and Customs at a conversazione held by the Trade and Customs Association at Sydney, on the 25th instant, the Government intend to take any steps towards the unification of all or any of the States jurisdictions, as now defined to them by the Constitution of the Commonwealth?
– Fortunately our several rights are defined for us in the Constitution Act, by which we will abide.
Senator KEATING laid upon the table the following paper -
Public Service Act 1902. - Documents relating to the promotion of Mr. H. W. Liston to the position of Clerk, 4th . Class, PostmasterGeneral’s Department, Central Staff.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 24th January, vide page 7652):
Division IV. - Agricultural Products and Groceries.
Item 33. Animals, living; (except for stud purpposes), viz. : -
Horned Cattle, per head, 10s.
Sheep, per head, 2s.
Pigs, per head, 5s.
Horses - on and after17th October, 1907, per head, 10s.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [2.38]. - I thinkthat the Com-, mittee might very well be informed as to why. a duty is now sought to be imposed upon cattle, sheep, pigs, and horses, except such as are used for stud purposes. Hitherto we have not had a tax of this kind, because these animals have always been admitted free. So far as statistics show, there is no importation of any of them.
– In the first’ place my honorable friend Senator Symon’s memory is at fault when he says that a duty of this kind is imposed for the first time in the history of Australia. As a matter of fact we had similar duties under the old Victorian Tariff. Therefore it is not a new duty so far as Australia is concerned. I admit at once that circumstances have been altered in that connexion, but in the old State days in Victoria we had what was called a Stock Tax. As regards these particular duties I ask honorable senators to remember at the outset that animals for stud purposes are specially exempt. The duties apply to an industry that essentially pertains to Australia.
– Why, we are exporters of meat !
– It is true that we are exporters, but these particular duties are imposed for two reasons, first to provide for a contingency which might happen under certain circumstances, and secondly, in order to give better and more complete supervision over the stock which enters Australia.
– The item itself naturally presents itself to one as very much in the nature of a chip in porridge. Looking over the return of imports, one is perhaps rather surprised to find that 11,000 sheep were imported into Australia last year. But those who have any knowledge of what has been taking place are well aware of how that came about. The animals imported were largely composed of sheep for stud purposes imported principally from New Zealand, and consisting of those breeds generally known as. British breeds, towards which the attention of Australian graziers has been largely directed of late. But I venture to say that whether the duty is imposed or not, no importations worthy of the name can take place, except for stud purposes. Consequently the i tem simply encumbers the Tariff. It is merely a question of whether it is worth while to remove it. It will have the same effect whether it remains or not. As to the statement of the Vice-President of the Executive Council that the duty will have the effect of giving the Government better control over imported stock - I altogether deny it. We have our quarantine laws in force in regard to all stock that is imported. Those laws should be efficacious, especially in view of the recently passed Act. It seems to me to be foolish to say that this duty is essential to give control where that control is already ample and sufficient. I can only re-affirm that it does appear to me to be immaterial whether the duty remains or not, except that it is absurd to load up a Customs Tariff with duties which must be inoperative.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [2.44]. - I am very glad to hear what Senator Millen has said as to this duty. His observations have entirely demolished the suggestion of the VicePresident of the Executive Council that it is one that ought to be imposed by any serious minded Legislature for the purpose of securing control over imported stock. That is not the purpose for which we are framing this Tariff. Let us understand the principles upon which the Tariff is being framed. We are not here to frame regulations for the purpose of keeping out diseased or infected animals. That is not what we are doing at all. We have passed a Quarantine Act for that purpose. The Vice-President of the Executive Council was, I think, very hard driven for an argument in support of this duty when he sought to mix up the obligation which rests upon us under this Tariff to secure revenue and protection for Australian industries - as some honorable senators think - by dragging into it also matters as to securing control, by way of regulation, over the importation of cattle. Senator Millen has rightly pointed out that this duty is an absurdity in every sense pf the term. It is not merely, as he put it, over-loading the Tariff, but it is putting upon the Tariff a line without rhyme pr reason. I asked my honorable friend, the VicePresident of the Executive Council, to give a reason for it. He has failed to do so, except that it is designed to meet a contingency - a contingency which, however, as Senator Millen has said, does not exist except in imagination. This country never can, in all human probability, be in the position of having to import its meat and live cattle. But if that situation ever arose, honorable senators must see that we should be imposing duties upon the food of the people at a time when, except for importations, they would be starving. If Australia were ever brought to the position of not having sufficient meat to feed its own people, that would be a contingency which my honorable friend is going to provide for by this duty. At such a time a section of the poor people of this country, with perhaps not one shilling to rub against another, and to buy meat with, are to be taxed to the extent of this duty - an amount which, of course, will by the time the meat reaches the butcher’s shop be far more than that staled in the schedule - in order that the Government may secure control over importations ! I venture to say that we ought to have some regard for the purposes for which we are framing this schedule. We are framing it for two purposes. One great purpose, as many of my honorable friends think, is to encourage and assist native industries. That is protection. We are also framing it with a view to securing revenue, because this is our only source of revenue. But we are not framing it for an absurdity. We are not compelled to provide for a contingency soremote that it has not even a chance of arising. I also wish to point out that both sections of the Tariff Commission, the freetrade section and the protectionist section alike, unanimously recommended that these animals should be free. Really our Tariff, with its 949 or 1,000 lines subject to duty, might very well be spared this line, which consists of four subdivisions, in regard to an importation in respect of butchers’ meat that, so far as the Commonwealth is concerned, has never taken place. Because that is what it comes to. There is no suggestion that there is any possibility of importations taking place to interfere with the production of Australia. If there is one thing in Australia that is cheap, as a rule”, it is, fortunately for us, our beef and mutton. Certainly Australia offers no temptation to people in other lands to send beef and mutton to us. In all probability theirs would be inferior to ours, because I believe that the beef and mutton of Australia are equal if not superior to anything to be found anywhere else in the world. Therefore there is no temptation for people abroad to come here to compete with us practically atour own game.
– Horses are included in the item, and they are not butchers’ meat.
– In some less favoured parts of the world they are. But as to horses, is there any suggestion that Australia, with her magnificent thoroughbreds, cart horses, and horses of every description, needs to import? She is an exporter of horses.
– We are sending away the best of our horses, and shall need an export duty.
– We are at present exporting horses, and I know that prices are going up. For a long time horseflesh has been dirt cheap, and breeders have not been making much money.
– They have done very well.
– They have done very well considering that horses are bred on. the cheap and expansive areas of Australia, and there is” no reason why this tax should be imposed without evidence of possible importations. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 33 by leaving out paragraph (a), “ Horned cattle per head, 10s.”
My desire is that the item shall be in accordance with the recommendation of the Tariff Commission.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [2.55]. - In order that the Senate may have an opportunity of voting in accordance with the unanimous recommendation of the Tariff Commission, and against the introduction of items in the Tariff simply with a view of, so to speak, giving notice that at some time or other the price of the mutton of the poor people is to be raised, I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 33 by leaving out paragraph (B) “ Sheep, per head, 2s.”
– Apart altogether from the recommendation of the Tariff Commission, I cannot understand why this item appears in the Tariff. The only reason I can give is that it represents probably the riotous desire of some one to impose taxation. I dare say that every item in the schedule represents some honorable senator’s view of either protection or revenue taxation. I do not suppose that any one would consider the duty of 2s. per head on sheep gave expression to a protective policy.
– The honorable senator would not say that the pastoral industry is strangled ?
– No ; I do not think that the industry has asked for protection, or that this duty is an expression of the protective policy,If it is not, then it must be an attempt to secure more revenue. It would not produce much, but even if it would, why should we impose a revenue tax on sheep which may possibly form part of our meat supply? I fail to see why we should votefor a tax on sheep or cattle, and I hope we shall show that we have not a perfect mania for taxation by voting against this duty.
– Probably the amount of the duty proposed in the case of paragraph a was partly responsible for its acceptance by a majority of the Committee. It may have a strong fascination for the Government, who may imagine that a time will come when a duty of half-a-sovereign on horses will be valuable. But such a duty as this cannot serve anything like the same purpose. It violates the recommendations of both sections of the Tariff Commission, it has notbeen asked for by a single pastoralist throughout Australia, and I doubt whether the wildest imagination could suggest any useful purpose that this duty of 2s. a head on sheep will serve. We might as well impose an import duty on coals at the port of Newcastle. If there be any administrative purpose likely to be served by the imposition of these duties, we should be told what it is, but when we ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council why these duties are imposed, we get only the woman’s answer “ Because.” It will be a reflection upon the wisdom of the Committee if honorable senators permit these duties to remain in the schedule.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to amenditem 33 by leaving out paragraph b, “ Sheep, per head, 2s.” (Senator Symon’s request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [3.6]. - The absurdity of these duties on live stock must be more obvious in the case of the proposed duty of 5s.per head on pigs than in any other case. It is, indeed, so obvious that I shall content myself by moving-
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 33 by leaving out paragraph C, “Pigs, per head, 5s.”
The argument of the Vice-President of the Executive Council proves that these lines in the Tariff are neither of use nor ornament, and while I submit this motion for the omission of paragraph c, if any member of the Committee thinks it desirable that there should be some duty imposed in order to secure Commonwealth control should the impossible happen and live pigs be imported for use as human food, I shall be prepared to support any proposed reduction in the duty in the schedule.
– I should like to learn from the Vice-President of the Executive Council why, if the purpose which the Government have in view with regard to imported sheep can be served by the imposition of a duty of 2s., what extraordinary necessity calls for the imposition of a duty of 5s. per head on pigs?Would not 3s. serve the purpose of the Government in this case ?
– Would 3s. satisfy the honorable senator?
– I have no wish to embarrass the Government, but there must be some strong reason for the margin between the duties imposed on sheep and pigs.
– Pigs come into Australia, if they come at all, as bacon. No man out of a lunatic asylum would send a live pig to Australia.
– I do not suggest that the Ministry have been seized with a fit of lunacy in proposing this duty, but that there must be some reason why a duty of 2s. per head should be imposed on sheep and 5s. per head on pigs , I hope that reason will be forthcoming since the difference in the duties proposed on sheep and pigs cannot, I think, be justified unless, perhaps, by the Vice-President of the Executive Council, who knows the mind of the Government on the matter.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 33 by leaving out paragraph c, “ Pigs, per head, 5s.” (Senator Symon’s request - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 33, paragraph c, “ Pigs,” 2s.
It seems to me positively ridiculous to impose any tax whatever upon pigs. I cannot imagine any person breeding swine to send to Australia unless his object is to improve the breed here. . In that case we should welcome the animals imported. From a revenue stand-point, I am thoroughly satisfied that the duty will be inoperative.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [3.16]. - I shall undoubtedly support the proposal of Senator Croff. The duty is a blot upon the Tariff, but, seeing that it is impossible to secure its removal, I shall do whatever I can to minimize thatblot.
– Senator Symon’s ‘ original objection to this duty was that it was useless, and that it ought not to be included in the Tariff. He declared that it was a blot. How the duty will be less of a blot if it be fixed at 2s. in lieu of 5s. I cannot understand.
– I entirely agree with the attitude taken up by Senator Symon in respectof this paragraph. I believe that the duty will be inoperative, and that therefore it ought not to be included in the Tariff. But I would point out that we have already had three division’s upon this matter, and it seems to me quite a waste of time - if I may use that expression without giving offence - to take still another division upon it for the purpose of determining whether the duty shall be 2s. or 5s., seeing that last year the total number of pigs imported was twenty-four.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [3.19]. - I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 33 by leaving out paragraph d, ‘’ Horses, on and after 17th October, 1907, per head,10s.”
I maintain that the duty upon horses is also a blot upon the Tariff, and consequently ought to be removed. If we regard any of the live stock enumerated in this item from a protective stand-point, I take it that our object is to encourage their breed in Australia. For this purpose it is proposed to allow horses for stud purposes to be imported absolutely free. There is no country in the world which requires less” coddling “ in the matter of the breeding of horses than does Australia. It is the country of horses and of horsemen. There are no finer horsemen in the world than Australians, simply because Australia is the country of the horse. It is also the country of the sheep.
– We are sending horses to England.
– I was not previously aware that my honorable friend, Senator Fraser, was present, but now that my attention has been drawn to the fact, 1 . appeal to him to assist me to eliminate an atrocious absurdity from the Tariff. I do not think he was present when I asked the Vice-President of the Executive Council his reasons for including these paragraphs in the Tariff. He was unable to give any, except that a contingency existed in his imagination, and that the item would enable control to be exercised over imported stock - as if this were a Quarantine Bill.
– The duty will be a dead letter.
– Let us wipe it out. Do not let us make the Tariff the laughing stock of the whole world. Let us do something sensible. I recognise that we are not here to discuss abstract questions of free-trade and protection, and I am not going to discuss them. But items of this kind can be introduced into the Tariff only on one or other of the grounds of revenue and protection, and surelv we ought not. to make fools of ourselves”. What will be said of us if we put lines of that sort in the Tariff? It would be just as absurd to put a tax on wool or, as one honorable senator suggested during one of the divisions, a tax on kangaroos. There would be more reason for that because kangaroos are becoming depleted in Australia. If we could give to the people of Australia or our outside critics any sensible reason for imposing this dutv I should at once give way. But we cannot. Let us deal with the thing rationally.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to.
Item 34. Sago and Tapioca, per lb.,½d.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make item 34 free.
I do so because sago and tapioca are favorite dishes with the majority of poor people. They are not produced in Australia, and there is very little probability of their ever being produced here. . I therefore see neither rhyme nor reason for making them taxable. They will be found on almost every humble table in the land. I believe they are the product of tropical plants.
– Can they not be grown in the Northern Territory ?
– We are dealing, not with remote possibilities, but with subjects that immediately affect the people of the Commonwealth. Last year about . £13,000 was extracted in Customs taxation from the consumers of these commodities, and it is about time we discontinued taxing them. These foodstuffs a.re used in the remote interior of Australia, and form valuable substitutes for fruits and other perishable products that are so hard to obtain in those places. They are on the free list in the New Zealand Tariff, although I do not claim that that is a conclusive argument.
– I desire to propose a motion in the opposite direction. My object is to double the duty. If I cannot succeed in, that, I am half inclined to vote with Senator Lynch for its entire abolition. Does my motion come first?
– Yes. In order that Senator Stewart may submit his proposal Senator Lynch will have to withdraw his motion for the time being, but may subsequently submit it if Senator Stewart’s motion is negatived.
– I ask leave to withdraw my motion for the time being.
Request, by leave, withdrawn.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 341d. per lb.
The present duty is clearly not protective, because it resulted in a revenue of over £13,000 during the last financial year ; and if a duty is not protective, I prefer its abolition. Senator Lynch said a moment ago that there was no probability of sago and tapioca being produced in Australia; but I do not see whv that should be so, considering that both axe tropical products, coming principally from India. I regard the Tariff as more an instrument for creating industries than for producing revenue, and my desire is to see these products grown here.
– They have not been produced here as yet.
– There was a time in the history of Australia when no sheep and cattle were produced here. Every industry we have has been fostered in some way or other by the Legislature; and the same treatment may be required in the case of sago and tapioca.
– How long does the honorable senator expect purchasers to pay1d. per lb. extra in order to bring about production here?
– I think that the working people desire to see everything they eat, drink, or wear, produced entirely in Australia, and that they are quite prepared to pay any extra cost that may be entailed.
– The Government in this case have “cannons to left of them” and “cannons to right of them.” On the one hand, we are invited to request an increase in the duty, and, on the other hand, to request that these commodities be made free. In time, I think there is a fair prospect of sago and tapioca being cultivated in Queensland and the Northern Territory, but when that time is to arrive it is impossible, at this juncture, to say However, there is the feature of encouragement about this duty, and in the meantime it is revenue producing. Both sections of the Tariff Commission, on the recommendations of which Senator Symon so strongly relies, suggest that the duty shall remain practically as heretofore.
– The Tariff Commission recommended that live animals should be free.
– And the honorable senator urged that, as the Tariff Commission had made no recommendation, no duty should be imposed. Seeing that we have before us two extreme proposals - one that the duty shall be doubled, and the other that the commodities should be free - is it not a reasonable suggestion to split the difference and permit the duty to remain as at present?
– Does the Vice-President of the Executive Ccuncil resist the doubling of the duty?
– I shall be quite satisfied with the duty as it stands ; and, in view of the fact that the item has already passed through a fiery ordeal, and that both sections of the Tariff Commission recommended the present duty, the Committee cannot go very far wrong in adopting the suggestion I have made. I admit, with Senator Stewart, that in time there is a prospect of the cultivation of sago and tapioca in the Northern Territory and in Queensland, and when that prospect becomes more immediate, I shall be prepared to assist in imposing a substantial and encouraging duty. In the meantime, however, I think we may fairly continue the old conditions.
.- I support the motion of Senator Stewart, and if anything strengthens me in the vote I am about to give it is the expression of opinion by the Vice-President of the Executive Council - thatthis industry can be created here, and will become an established factor in Australia in, perhaps, a shorter period of time than many anticipate.
– The VicePresident of the Executive Council did not exactly say that;the language of Senator Findley is much more precise than that of the Minister.
– In effect that was what the Minister said; and, if it be true, should we not, as protectionists, hasten on that period?
– How long does the honorable senator think it will be before the industry is established?
– I think the industry will be established more speedily under a duty of1d. than under a duty of ½d. per lb. I do not believe in revenue duties, and if I thought that this industry could not be created, I should vote for the abolition of the present impost.
– That criticism might be applied to every item in the Tariff.
– Not exactly in the same way. A few months ago . I visited Northern Queensland and the Northern Territory, and 1 am convinced that this is an industry which could be made very profitable in those tropical regions.
– Does the honorable senator refer to sago or tapioca, which are quite different?
– I refer to both. According to the experts atthe Port Darwin Gardens, it has been demonstrated beyond doubt that that part of the Northern Territory is eminently suitable for those plants ; and, as a protectionist, I believe in encouraging industries whenever an opportunity presents itself. The fact that an industry is in its early infancy is no reason for not giving it encouragement. The Vice-President of the Executive Council pointed out that the present duty, while it gives additional revenue, holds out a hand to those who desire to enter into the industry ; but, in my opinion, the duty is not sufficient inducement.
– Although a member of the Tariff Commission, I feel myself free to vote as I may in regard to the various items of the schedule. It cannot be claimed by either section of the Commission that much attention was paid to its recommendations. I intend to vote to make food supplies free, and where revenue duties are proposed to reduce them as much as possible. Senator Findley spoke of the duty on sago and tapioca as partly protective; but, although for s.x years a similar duty has been in force under the Commonwealth Tariff, and it was preceded by a duty under the Queensland Tariff, these articles have not yet been produced in Australia. The effect of the proposed duty is to levy a tax
Of 25 per cent, on all the consumers of sago and tapioca. What an uproar there would be if the duty were translated into an income tax or a land tax. Those who consume sago and tapioca, and therefore pay the duty, are largely persons with small incomes, and the larger the household the greater the amount of. duty paid, because these articles are food for children as well as for adults. Even if the duty were protective, it would not be right to increase the price of articles of food by 25 per cent., and that, according to Senator Findley’s showing, will be the effect of this duty. Whether sago and tapioca are produced in Australia or elsewhere, all who buy those articles will, under the Tariff as it stands, have to pay 25 per cent, more for them. I hope that the majority of the Committee will refuse to impose such burdensome taxation on the people of the Commonwealth as is proposed in connexion with this and other items.
– I shall oppose the request, and shall support a proposal for placing sago and tapioca on the free list. I am impelled to do this largely by the reasoning of the leader of the Senate, who, when urging Senator Stewart not to insist upon increasing the duty, said, in effect, that if he saw a prospect of the production of sago and tapioca in Australia, he would be ready to impose a high protective rate upon them. If I had the remotest hope of the production of sago and tapioca in Australia in the near future, I, too, should be prepared to vote for a higher rate. But having no such hope, I not only oppose an increase, but am ready to put these articles on the free list. Senator Findley says that the duty is not a revenue duty; but every one who looks the matter fairly in the face must see that its only effect will be to increase the revenue by taking a large amount of money out of the pockets of the consumers of sago and tapioca. Taxation upon the food of thepeople is not a right source of revenue. When evidence is presented to us that an effort is about to be made to produce either sago or ta.pioca in Australia, I shall be prepared to alter my attitude on this matter, but until then, I shall vote to place both articles on the free list.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [3.46]. - We are being asked now to tax one of the few luxuries of the very poor, because sago and tapioca, or, at any rate, the first-named, are used more extensively on the dinner tables’ of the poor than on those of the rich. It. has been shown that the rate proposed is equal to 25 per cent, on the value of these articles, so that the effect of the duty will be that every poor struggling woman who wishes to make a sweet dish for her children will have to pay 25 per cent, more for the sago or tapioca composing it than would have to be paid if there were no duty. We are apt to view these matters in too casual a way. A duty of hd. per lb. may in itself not appear to be very much, but it, with similar duties, means a good deal to women who have to make their husbands’ earnings go as far as possible to give food and clothing to their children; and the poor man’s family is oftener larger than that of the rich man. I do not wish to enter now into an abstract controversy on the subject of protection; but I should like to know why, if the production of sago and tapioca in Australia isso imminent, provisionwas not made in the Bounties Bill for the encouragement of the industry.
– That was an omission on the part of the Government.
– Would the honorable senator have supported. such a bounty?
– I might have done so had the evidence adduced been satisfactory ; I supported other bounties. In any case, I would much rather support a bounty paid by contribution out of the general taxation than a duty falling chiefly on the food of the poor. I think that the views put before the Committee by Senators Lynch and Henderson are unanswerable. No attempt has yet been made to answer them. I am as much a revenue tariffist and as strong a freetrader as ever I was. There never was a mandate from Australia to impose duties of this kind. If it is a question of getting a revenue of £1,300-
– That is a monstrous imposition, and if the motion were carried it would be increased to £26,000. If that amount is to be extorted from the pockets of the poor, it will not be done by means of my vote.
– Like Senator Clemons, I am no more bound to the recommendations of the Tariff Commission than is any one else, but where I can with a degree of ease to myconscience agree with their recommendations I intend to do so. It is a very strange thing to hear any honorable senators who never would give a helping hand to increase the direct taxation, crying out about a revenue Tariff and talking about an impost upon the poor working man and the poor woman with a number of children to support on a small income. That is really arguing the merits of taxation and not this Tariff at all. No doubt it is done for the purpose of influencing the Committee.
– Who would not increase the direct taxation? To whom does the honorable senator refer?
– I admit that the honorable senator has always expressed sympathy with that kind of taxation,and therefore I could not refer to him.
– To whom does the honorable senator refer?
– I refer to the honorable senator.
– Then that is absolutely without foundation. In South Australia I was the first to introduce a land tax.
– Yes. to a certain extent, and ever since the honorable sena- torhasclaimedcreditforthat.
– And an income tax, too.
– Apart from that, I want to point out that there is even more to consider than the actual item before the Committee. When the Tariff Commission were endeavouring to make recommendations which, in their opinion, would be of value to Parliament, they did not take every item by itself, but regarded the items as a whole, and tried to make one item fit in with another. The poor woman with a large family does not need to purchase either tapioca or sago, because for her children she can make a bread pudding, which is a very wholesome food and a very good substitute. If there -is no chance of getting tapioca or sago, surely there is a possibility of getting bread. The Tariff includes two other items which are natural products of Australia, and the production and use of which may be affected to a certain extent by a larger consumption of tapioca and sago. I hold that arrowroot and cornflour can and certainly will be produced and manufactured in the Commonwealth. senator Trenwith. - They are being made here.
– _If imported tapioca and sago are to enter into competition with Australian arrowroot and cornflour, surely we have a right to look at the question from that stand-point. No doubt the Tariff Commission had taken all these points into consideration when they unanimously recommended that the duty should remain as it was. So far as the poor woman and her children are concerned, I have no fear but that until such time as sago and tapioca can be produced here she will use Australian articles as nourishing as the imported articles.
– The honorable senator wants to make the Tariff a table of diet for all people.
– No; I want to secure a Tariff which will be workable, and operate in the interests of the whole community. I hope that, with a view to retaining protection not only for tapioca and sago but also for other commodities produced in Australia, Senator Stewart will withdraw his proposition and allow us to support the recommendation of both sections of the Tariff Commission.
– The temptation held out by Senator Stewart to people interested in
Queensland and the Northern Territory to vote for his amendment is not one to which I shall fall a victim. I intend to support the duty as it stands. It is .not a new tax, and is recommended bv both sections of the Tariff Commission. Other industries have grown up and are growing up which might be affected very seriously if tapioca and sago were admitted free. In my opinion the duty is not excessive but reasonable. It is doing good to other industries, and in time to come it may have the effect of promoting the growth of tapioca and sago in Australia. I shall vote against an increase of the duty.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [3.58]. - I feel it my duty to oppose the amendment to increase a duty which falls more directly upon the poorer classes than upon the rich. Neither of the two items can possibly be regarded as a luxury, and particularly are they consumed by young children. When we hear so much about the decline of the birth-rate,, I do not thank that we, as a branch of. the Legislature, should adopt a fiscal proposal which, though it may have no effect upon the number of children coming into the world, may have a good deal to do with the bringing up of healthy children and keeping of .them in the world.
– The honorable senator does not look as if he was fed on sago when he w7as young.
– I was not fed on sago; that was unnecessary. The’ honorable senator’s interjection reminds me of that portion of his speech in which he proposed that children, instead of being fed on tapioca and sago, should be fed on bread puddings; in other words, on a diet of bread poultice.
– And very good, too.
– The honorable senator must have meant his statement for a joke, because he has too high a reputation for common sense for any one to suppose that he spoke then in sober earnestness. But when te emits a joke of that description, it would be kind on his part to announce the fact, so that we might know where to laugh, because we do not always know when to take him seriously. I cannot vote for the amendment of Senator Stewart. I shall be very much more inclined to vote for making free of duty an article which is most unquestionably required in the diet of small children; and which, if it has any merit from an Australian stand-point, should have been included in the Bounties Bill, so that the burden might be borne by the whole community instead of by the comparatively poor.
. -There are one or two facts to which I desire to draw the attention of the Committee before a vote is taken. I have just looked up the importations of sago during the last five years. In 1902 we imported 15,939 centals, at a cost of £3,779,, or at 4s. 6d. per cental. In 1903 we imported 12,727 centals, at a cost of £5,012, or at about 4s. 6d. per cental-
– Does it not nearly all come from the Straits Settlements ?
– Prom the Straits Settlements and India.
– In Australia we have no country like that.
– In 1904, we imported 9)921 centals at a cost of £4.088, or at about 5s. per cental. In J905, we imported 6,152 centals at a cost of £2,530, or at about 8s. 6d. per cental. And in 1906, we imported 5,150 centals at a cost °f £3)793: or at about’ 15s. per cental. Now the broad fact stands out that we paid in 1906 more for 5,000 centals of sago than we did in 1902 for 15,000’ centals. What does that point to?
– The price had gone up.
– Undoubtedly it had; but why?
– Owing to a famine in India.
– Undoubtedly something caused that phenomenal rise in the price, and if my honorable f riends who are so anxious that the poor and their children should get their commodities cheaply are really in earnest here is an opportunity for them. If the reason given by Senator Cameron for the scarcity of sago be correct, namely, that it is due to the drought in India, surely it is the duty of the people of Australia to give such encouragement to growers in our own country as will cause the local production of this commodity. In 1902 the cost of sago was 4s. 6d. per cental. In 1906 it was 15s. per cental. So that so far as this commodity is concerned we are evidently at the mercy of the weather in India. .
– The honorable senator’s figures must be wrong.
– I have taken them from Mr. Knibbs’ statistics.
– It could not have been possible to buy 100 lbs. of sago for 4s. 66. with the duty that was then imposed.
– The duty was 4s. per cental, approximately equivalent to the present duty. Yet in 1902 the price is given at 4s. 6d. per cental.
– The duty was 4s., and the price 4s. 6d. ?
– That cannot be right.
– It is not my fault if the figures are wrong. I take it that they represent the landed cost without the addition of the duty.
– That makes the duty nearly 100 per cent.
– I do not expect that anything that I can say will influence the honorable senators on my right. But the point which I wish to make is that whereas in 1902 sago was landed at 4s. 6d. per cental, the landed cost was 15s. in 1906.
– It was never landed for 4s. 6d. per 100 lbs.
– I take these figures from the official statistics issued by Mr. Knibbs, page 302. In 1902 we imported 15,939 centals of sago, and the value was £3<779-
– If the honorable senator will take the Customs figures he will find that they are different.
– If the figures which I have quoted are not reliable what is the use of them ? What have we a Statistician for if we cannot depend upon his statistics? We pay him a good salary ; but he is evidently getting too much if we cannot rely upon his figures. In 1906 the imports were 5,150 centals, and the cost was £3,793, or about £20 more than we paid in 1902 for 15,000 centals. I wonder whether Senator Clemons can explain that discrepancy. So much for sago. Let us turn to tapioca. In 1902 we imported 43,000 centals, which cost £18,000; in 1903 44,000 centals, costing £17,000; in 1904 56,000 centals, costing ,£24,000; in 1905 63,000 centals, costing £28,000 ; in 1906 60,000 centals, costing £42,000. The price kept up at about the same level until the year 1906, when it jumped up from 8s. per cental to about 14s. Last year we spent about £50,000 in importing sago and tapioca. The quantity of tapioca imported in 1906 was 60,000 centals, and of sago 5,000 centals. The import of sago evidently went down because of the price; or- probably the scarcity caused by the drought in India explains the decreased importation. In any case it appears to me that this is an industry that it is worth while for us to establish in Australia if we can. Both tapioca and sago are tropical products, which I believe can be produced in Northern Australia. Why not make an attempt? If we double the duty it will probably have the effect of causing the attempt to be made.
– Why has not the attempt been made already?
– Probably because the protection is not sufficient.
– In the years mentioned by the honorable senator, the protection was about 150 per cent., if his figures were correct.
– I do not care what the protection was. If a duty does not protect, I have no use for it. So far as T am concerned, there will be no halfhearted measures in connexion with this Tariff. If it is clear to me that a duty of 4s. per cental is purely a revenue duty, I shall vote against it, and I ask every protectionist who has faith in the policy which he supports to assist me. A duty of 4s. per cental has failed to give the industry a start in Australia. Probably a duty of 8s., or id. per lb., will give it a start. We find that we are largely dependent on India for both of these products, and India is a country liable to periodical droughts.
– Just as Australia is. Senator STEWART.- But we are trying our level best to overcome their effects, and have succeeded in some directions, mainly by giving State assistance in one shape or another to our various industries. As a protectionist, I propose that that policy shall continue. I therefore ask those honorable senators who believe in protection and who are opposed to revenue Tariffism to support my motion.
– The argument that the protectionists are now advancing is that as tapioca and sago can. be grown in Australia, therefore we should impose protective duties against the imported goods. ,
– The honorable senator has agreed to do it in regard to coffee; he should not ‘’ renege “ as to other products.
– Charges of that Kind are bound to be made, but it really does not matter one straw what I or any one else said about any other items. We have to deal with each item as it comes before us, and to act as consistently with our principles as we can. It is perfectlytrue that tapioca and sago can be produced in Australia. It is possible, I suppose, to produce orchids in Iceland, but it would be very expensive to do it. And so in regard to many products that could be grown in Australia, itwould be too expensive to grow them for commercial purposes. Therefore, that argument must not be pushed too far. There is no doubt that the argument as to the necessity of a cheap food for children is one that should appeal strongly to the Committee. It is one which weighs very much with me. But when we come to consider the total contribution to the Customs made by sago and tapioca, and realize that it amounts only to a little over1/4d. per head of the total population, it will be seen that it is not a very heavy contribution even from the point of view of the poorer classes.
– But that is not so. The whole community does not pay the duty.
– I can quite understand that that argument does not appeal to the honorable senator who interjects. But the people of Australia have been accustomed for a number of years past - even before Federation - to paying duties upon these articles.
SenatorFindley. - Why should they pay anything if the articles cannot be produced in Australia?
– If that argument be pressed, I do not know how we are to frame a Tariff at all.
– All Senator Findley asks is that if these commodities cannot be produced in Australia, why, from the honorable senator’s point of view, put even id. per lb. on them ?
– The various States, before Federation, were accustomed to a duty, and during the last six years under Federation they have paid a duty similar to that now under consideration. I have tried to explain my general position with regard to this Tariff. I have pointed out that the requirements of the primary industries, together with our revenue needs, are two powerful considerations in determining my vote and my insistence upon certain principles. The Government require revenue. This is a convenient way of rais ing it. In addition to that, Senator Chataway has pointed out that in Queensland the growth of certain agricultural products is being steadily pursued. Those products form a very agreeable and palatable food. The arrowroot industry is, I believe, one that is growing. It has expanded considerably under the influence of the Federal Tariff. We have to consider that also.
– What has that to do with sago and tapioca?
– I am well aware that my argument is not acceptable altogether either to the free-traders or the protectionists. But it is difficult to reconcile their conflicting views and to follow a middle course.
– The honorable senator’s contention really is that this duty will benefit Queensland?
– The honorable senator is an arrowroot protectionist !
– I intend to keep to my point as closely as I can. It is desirable to assist the industry I have indicated. The development of a primary industry was a powerful factor in determining my view. It cannot be disputed that in Queensland close attention is being given to the production of arrowroot, which is a substitute for sago and tapioca.
– The best course to adopt would be to introduce a Bill to compel every one to use arrowroot.
– Nothing of the kind. I appeal to protectionists to remember that they should not confine their attention wholly to manufacturing industries ; the primary industries must also be considered. Another point is that strong reasons must be given for any departure from a recommendation made by both sections of the Tariff Commission. An effort will be made to reduce the duties on several important items, and since it cannot be said that the duty will impose an undue burden on those who use sago and tapioca, I intend to support the motion. The incidence of this Tariff may have some slight effect in the direction of promoting a primary industry in my own State, and also, in time to come, in the Northern Territory and South Australia.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) 4.23L - We have had two conflicting arguments in favour of the motion moved by Senator Stewart. . One of them has been something in the nature of a pathetic appeal to the Committee to refrain from imposing upon, housewives in humble homes such a crushing burden as a duty of Jd. per lb. would, be ; whereas we have been assured, on the other hand, that these very housewives, groaning under such a burden, would immediately become cheerful if it were increased to id. per lb. So far as the appeal for those in lowly circumstances comes from honorable senators whose views are in the direction of low .duties we can accept their declarations at their face value as being sincere; but I cannot understand it being made by those who are Quite content to impose in connexion with other items .more crushing imposts upon the very people on whose behalf they now venture to plead. Immediately following this item are others which fall heavily on the poorer classes - items under which they will be called upon to contribute to the revenue not the £13,000 per annum which this item will yield, but in some cases up to £80,000 per annum. And yet those who ask us, in the interests of the poor, to reject this duty will make no effort to remove or lessen those- larger burdens.
– How does the honorable senator know?
– I am guided by interjections that have been made. So long as it can be shown that an impost will do something to build up an industry, senators will be prepared to support it, no matter how crushing it may be. Is it any satisfaction to the struggling housewife who has to bear a heavy impost to know that some one. else is benefiting at her expense? I. am unable to follow this reasoning, coming from the quarter to which I have referred, because it does not appear to be consistent. This item must be taken in connexion with others. Are those who ask that sago and tapioca shall be free prepared to agree to rice also being placed on the free list? Are they prepared to vote for the repeal of the measure under which we have granted a bounty on the production of rice? I opposed that Bill, and am as strong a free-trader as is any one; but I recognise that in framing a Tariff some sense of proportion and balance must be exhibited. It is not only idle but foolish to attempt on the one hand to promote the production of rice by granting a bounty and imposing a duty, whilst, on the other, tapioca and sago are allowed to come in free. As a free-trader, I should like to see these and numerous other articles free of duty, and would move in that direction if I thought I should secure the support of these sudden converts to the interests of the poor housewives j but it would be foolish to shut my eyes to the facts I ha.ve enumerated. There is, therefore, only one course open to me, and that is to vote against the motion that has been moved, and also against the further ‘ proposition which Senator Lynch has indicated his intention of moving. The duty now proposed by the Government was recommended by both sections of the Tariff Commission. If it were not, the members of that Commission are open to censure for not having informed us that it was embodied in their report in only a pro forma way. They should have informed us that this recommendation for our guidance-
– We are not bound by their recommendations.
– I admit that.
– Many of their recommendations have been rejected by the Government.
– Something like 750 out of 900 items in the Tariff are founded on the recommendations of the Commission.
– In 200 cases, the recommendations of the Commission, have been greatly increased.
– Increased ; but not: greatly increased.
– I am not laying down the doctrine that we should be bound by the recommendations of the Commission ; but it would be just as idle to ignore them as it would be to ignore the investigations of any Commission. When we find both sections in harmony upon a particular item, we are entitled to give that fact consideration. In this case, the Government have adopted the unanimous recommendation of the Commission, and the Tariff is left as it was before. As I stated in my second-reading speech, in view of my election pledges, I shall be loath to do anything to reduce duties which existed under the first Federal Tariff. Some of those who plead that this duty ought to be removed because it is a revenue tax pressing heavily upon the poorer classes would be perfectly willing to allow it to remain if they could abolish other duties. In other w=ords, if the Tariff were not likely to yield something over £11,000,000 per annum - if they could cut it down so that it would yield a revenue of £S, 000.000 or £9,000,000 - they would be willing to allow the item to remain. That being so, we are entitled to question their sincerity when they ask us to remove it on the ground that it is a crushing impost upon the poorer housewives of the community.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the item free.
I submit this motion because I see no possibility of the tapioca or sago industry, of which we have heard so much this evening, being established in Australia. Tapioca is the product of the cassava plant, and is obtained by washing and rubbing, carried on by the cheapest labour obtainable in the Straits Settlements and India. No evidence was given before the Tariff Commission as to its production in Australia. The same remark applies to sago. Where have we in Australia ‘ the palms necessary to produce half the crop of sago that we require?
– There are plenty of sago palms in the Northern Territory.
– The position, seems to be that the industry has not been started in Australia; that, even with the degree of protection that has been offered, no one has had the temerity to embark in it. The outlook seems as discouraging as it was five or six years ago. There is no possibility of either tapioca or sago being produced in Australia), and yet we are asked to impose a tax of 25 per cent, on these commodities, which are used by the poorer classes of the people. I urge on purely protectionist grounds that this item be made free. In connexion with other items I shall be perfectly willing to vote for imposts that will extract from the poorer classes sufficient to enable industries to thrive in Australia ; but I am not appealing for any support on the ground that this will be a heavy burden on that section of the community. I submit my motion solely on the ground that it is unwise to place a burden on the people when we have not the compensating consideration that it will lead to the establishment of an industry.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … 4
Question so resolved inthe affirmative.
Request agreed to.
Item 35. Biscuits per lb. (General Tariff), 11/2 ; (United Kingdom), id., on and after 17th October, 1907.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 35 (imports under General Tariff), 2d. per lb.
I should like to know whether honorable senators who have just made such an appeal on behalf of the poor are prepared to make any distinction between the poor who are consumers and the poor who are workers. The workers in the biscuit manufacturing industry in Australia are, as. a direct result of the low duty on biscuits, amongst the worst paid workers in the Commonwealth. A little time ago a determination was come to by the Tinsmiths Board acting under the Victorian Factories Act, fixing the wages of those engaged in making biscuit tins at £2 2s. per week. The biscuit manufacturers waited as a deputation on Sir Alexander Peacock, then Chief Secretary and Minister for Labour in the Victorian Government, and conclusively proved to him that they would be unable to pay the wages fixed by the Tinsmiths Board and continue to compete with outside biscuit manufacturers. The result was that the determination of the Wages Board increasing the wages of tinsmiths in the industry from about 30s. to £2 2s. per week was suspended. I feel confident that honorable senators who have appealed so strongly on behalf of the poor will be prepared, in this case, where it has been shown that it has been necessary to suspend the determination of a Wages Board because of the low duty imposed on bis- cuits, to so increase the duty as to enable the determination of the Board in question to be given effect. I do not think that any one who has any sympathy with the workers of this country will contend that a wage of £2 2s. per week in this industry is too high, and yet a Minister of the Crown in Victoria has determined that because of the low duty on imported biscuits, the local industry cannot afford to pay that wage.
– What have we to do with the dictum of a Victorian State Minister? He might say anything else that is absurd.
– I have explained to the Committee that the biscuit manufacturers of Victoria conclusively proved that they could not pay the rate of wages I have referred to.
– What have they to compete with?
– Importations of biscuits.
– From the other States.
– No, because biscuits are manufactured in the other States under conditions somewhat similar to those prevailing in Victoria.
– The biscuits manufactured in Tasmania are driving Victorian biscuits out of the market.
– I do not think that is so, but if it be so it should not be forgotten that the condition of the workers in Tasmania is not creditable to the biscuit manufacturers of that State.
– I think the honorable senator is wrong as to that.
– If honorable senators opposite desire that those employed in the industry throughout Australia shall be subjected to the intolerable conditions which prevail in Tasmania, they will no doubt feel themselves justified in voting for a low duty on biscuits. But honorable senators who desire that the workers in this industry should receive a living wage of at least £,2 2s. per week must be prepared to increase the duty. Otherwise they should tell me how it is that this is the only industry in connexion with which a Wages Board determination has had to be suspended. It has been stated that the suspension of the determination was due tothe low duties imposed on biscuits.
– Did the Wages Board say that that was the case?
– A Victorian Wages Board arrived at a” certain deter mination as to the wages to be paid in this industry, and it was suspended by the Victorian Minister for Labour for the reason I have stated. Honorable senators, if sincere in the appeals they have made on behalf of the poor, will vote for an increased duty on biscuits to enable . the workers in this industry to obtain the decent wages which should prevail in any industry established in Australia.
– - Both sections of the Tariff Commission gave this item full consideration, and recommended a duty of1d. per lb. as a fair and reasonable duty.
– Then why did the Government propose a duty of11/2d. per lb. ?
– The duty has been raised . to11/2d. per lb., asagainst the foreigner. Unless Senator Russell.’s motion is followed up by a further motion dealing with the Tariff as against the United Kingdom, it can have but very little effect, because if honorable senators will look up the statistics they will find that in 1906 we imported from the United Kingdom 202,000 lbs. of biscuits, and from all other countries only 17,200 lbs. The duty under the old Tariff was1d. per lb., and that is the duty recommended by both sections of the Tariff Commission, who. in making the recommendation, no doubt had in mind the volume of importations from the Mother Country.
– Can the honorable senator say why the State Government of Victoria found it necessary to suspend the determination of the Wages Board in the industry?
– The honorable senator must not ask me that question. We are dealing now with the Commonwealth Tariff. The duty here proposed is not, perhaps, just what the Government would desire, and I frankly admit that it is not what I personally would desire, but I think that a reasonable compromise has been arrived at.
-Was the recommendation of the Tariff Commission based on the wages at present ruling in the industry or on the determination of the Wages Board ?
– That I cannot say. When it is remembered that local manufacturers practically monopolize the market for biscuits in the Commonwealth, the Committee would be wise in retaining the duty as now proposed. In 1906 3,000,000 lbs. of Australian-made biscuits wereexported, as against an importation of 219,200 lbs. from abroad.
– Where were the Australian-made biscuitsexported to?
– They were exported from Australia, and the point is that under the old rate of duty of id. per lb. Australian manufacturers of biscuits were in a position to compete against the world. In these circumstances, I think a duty of id. per lb. must be considered- a reasonable duty. Of course we desire to give the Mother Country the benefit of supplying the 17,200 lbs. of biscuits now brought from abroad, and in order to do so we propose an increase of the duty against other countries.
– Surely the Mother Country will never be able to take that gift all at once?
– Might I explain that it was the honorable senator’s friends in another place who were so anxious to secure this particular preference for the manufacturers of the Mother Country. After the explanation I have made, I think honorable senators will agree that the duties proposed may be accepted as reasonable in the circumstances.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [4.49]. - I admire the pathos with which the Vice-President of the Executive Council has, not in song, but in words, repeated the refrain of the old song, “ Please give me a penny.” He wants this penny on biscuits against the Mother Country, and in. order to secure the enormous, the immense - which I think was the word which he used on the second reading of the Bill - advantage to the Mother Country of supplying an importation of 17,000 lbs. of biscuits which last year were imported from other countries, as against the 202,000 lbs. of biscuits from the Mother Country, which practically monopolized the whole biscuit import of Australia. After the observations to which we have listened from Senator Best and from Senator E. J. Russell, we. might well pause in dealing with this particular item. Various aspects of the Tariff, which it may be well to discuss in connexion with this concrete instance, have been raised by the remarks which have already been addressed to this Chamber. We are all anxious to complete the consideration of the Tariffbefore the nth of March, and I take it that some phases of it may fairly be debated upon this item, as by so doing time will be saved in discussing other items. The item opens up - as honorable senators will see from the schedule - a variety of questions. One of these, to which I shall presently refer, has been raised by Senator E. J. Russell. Another is that this duty is a tax upon food. A third is that the general Tariff increases the tax which was previously levied upon biscuits by 50 per cent. I do not say, in strict terms, that it is a tax upon the daily bread of the people, but it is certainly a tax upon their daily biscuits. Now, the consumption of biscuits is a verylarge one. Proportionately, it is not so large in the cities, but in the outlying parts of Australia biscuits of a kind are much more in use than they are in the populous centres, where baker’s bread is always available.
-. - I have often been in the back-blocks, and I have not noticed the large consumption of biscuits there.
– When the honorable senator visits the back-blocks they always produce the best bread for him.
– I bake my own, so that it is sure to be good.
– At any rate, we are asked to increase the duty levied upon biscuits under the old Tariff by50 per cent. We are also asked to increase the impost recommended by the Tariff Commission under the general Tariff to the same extent. Senator E. J. Russell evidently overlooked the fact that the schedule in the form in which it has been submitted, to the Senate increases the duty under the general Tariff from1d to11/2 per lb. The Tariff Commission recommended1. per lb. all round, but with a view to preventing the ten or twelve foreign countries which export biscuits to Australia to the tune of 17,000 lbs. annually from getting even the crumbs that fall from England’s biscuit table, that amount has been increased. My nextpint is that this duty raises the question of preference in a concrete form, and the figures quoted by my honorable friend show what a hollow pretence and sham this so-called preference is.
– It takes the biscuit.
-It takes the cake. We cannot deal with this question of preference except upon a concrete item. By taking the total quantity of imports from Britain, the great majority of which do not enter into com- petition with imports from other countries, we cannot arrive at a conclusion as to whether we are giving the Mother Country something or nothing. I hold that we are giving her substantially nothing.
– If the honorable senator proposes to debate the general question, I wish to say that I was quite prepared to discuss it at length upon the motion for the second reading of the Bill.
– If the Vice-President of the Executive Council had given us a few details, and had quoted from a few of the letters to which he has alluded - the tenor of which, by the way, differs entirely from that of the criticism which I have seen upon this question - I should have been glad. Here we have a concrete instance which lends absolute conviction to the statement of the Times - which journal has been standing behind the Tariff reformers of England ever since Mr. Chamberlain announced his preferential trade policy - and which described this preference as “ almost derisory.” I now wish to say a word upon this particular item of preference. 1 shall refer to it for a moment from the point of view raised by Senator E. J. Russell. I can assure him that I am just as anxious that the wages of the biscuit operatives shall be maintained at a fair and proper level, as I am that the poor consumer who was referred to in connexion with the item of sago and tapioca should not be victimized by the prices of those commodities being raised for no other reason than to swell the revenue to the extent almost of frightening the Government, whoseleader in this House has made an effort to show that’ this Tariff will not yield a revenue of £is, 000,000 or £12,000,000 annually, and that it will do so this year only becaus, of abnormal circumstances.I am quite ready to assist in alleviating any of the conditions to which Senator E. J. Russell has referred, and if he can show that mischiefs of the kind do exist, he will certainly address his remarks, so far as I am concerned, to a very sympathetic ear. But. I am afraid that the working people of this country - I am not suggesting that this idea is at the bottom of Senator Russell’s desire to increase the duty upon biscuits - are likely to find themselves grievously misled if they imagine that they are going to increase these duties to a high level for the benefit of the manufacturers with a view subse quently to obtaining what is called the new protection. I do not know whether the honorable senator believes that by increasing the duty upon biscuits to 2d. per lb. he will be able to bring about the application of the new protection” to this industry. ‘To the principle underlying the new protection I adhere if we are to have high duties ; but I warn him not to be induced to vote far high, and in some instances, prohibitive duties in the expectation that later on the working men of this country will be able to get the manufacturers to give them a fair share - I will not say of the “‘plunder” - but of the advantages which they will enjoy.
– A lot the workers have got out of the McKay business !
SenatorFindley. - We have got McKay’s true character.
– Does the honorable senator think that 30s. a week is a fair wage?
– I do not wish to discuss that question now. If what is in ray honorable friend’s mind is that by raising these duties, and thereby putting greater profits in the pockets of the biscuit manufacturers, he will pave the way to the workers securing their fair share of the advantages conferred under the new protection, he is putting the cart before the horse. I say this for the reason that Senator Best in his admirable speech - admirable for its brevity and for the way in which it kept within proper limits in relation to the Tariff - practically said, “ If you do not impose high duties there will be no new protection.” What does that mean ? It is not a bribe, . but it is a bait held out to the working men who may be inclining towards protection, to pile up protective duties for the benefit of the manufacturer in the vain hope that the manufacturer will let him share this benefit.
– The honorable senator is discussing the whole question rather than the particular proposal before the Committee.
– I shall finish my sentence and say no more about it. Senator E. J. Russell has moved to increase the duty upon biscuits, with a view to assisting the wage earners in that particular industry. I say that if that is what is in his mind - and it is what has been put into our minds by Senator Best’s remarks, the tenor of which I have quoted - he is putting the cart before the horse. When once the duties have beer raised, you will have to fight the manufacturers, and the workers will be able to extort their share of the advantages conferred by this additional measure of protection only at the point of the bayonet. Of course, I am not prepared to institute a comparison between the wages paid by the biscuit manufacturers of Victoria with those paid by the biscuit manufacturers of Tasmania. My interjection was merely prompted by the fact that I happen to know - I have not the figures with me - that the biscuit manufacturers of Tasmania, ever since the foundation of the Commonwealth, have been forging ahead, and that if they have not actually captured the Victorian market they have made inroads upon it. Senator E. J. Russell -may be right or wrong as to the conditions which obtain in Tasmania as compared with those which prevail in Victoria; but, willing as I am to assist in any way that I can to put the workmen in as good a position as the poor consumer, I say, as a free-trader - and the remark might come with equal force from my protectionist friends opposite - that one of the monstrous features about high protective duties is that manufacturers become rich by them at the expense of the consumer and by the sweating of their workmen. I have nothing more to say upon the arguments of my honorable friend in regard to the proposed increase. But I wish to say a word or two - and perhaps it will save duplicating discussion - upon a motion which I intend to submit, if no other honorable senator does so,, in favour of reducing the duty from 1 1/2d. per lb. to id. per lb., which was the amount at which it formerly stood. Then, if we are going to give a preference to the United Kingdom, let us make it a real preference by reducing the duty which was operative under the old Tariff to a less amount in favour of British importations. I do not wish to add. to what I said previously upon another item in regard to the proposed duty being a tax upon food. A duty of this description should be kept at its lowest possible level, and I shall always be found voting to ease the taxation imposed upon the people’s food as much as *1 possibly can. The next thing I wish to point out” is that, as a protective duty, this impost is not required. The figures quoted bv the Vice-President of the Executive Council at the close of his remarks show that Australia was an exporting country in relation to the manufactured article of biscuits, to the extent of nearly 3,500,000 lbs. last year.
– That is because the labour employed in that industry here is cheaper than it is in other countries.
– What, cheaper than it is in black-labour countries ?
– I did not say that it was cheaper than it is in blacklabour countries.
– Australia exports largely to India.
– Wages in the biscuit trade are quite as bad here as in Great Britain. That is why we have the market.
– We cannot leave the local consumption out of consideration in dealing with the question of a protective duty, lt must be measured in tons. It is folly to talk about putting a protective duty on biscuits when Ave are supplying the whole of our own consumption, and exported to other countries, which are less favoured than r,e are as to the raw material, 3,500,000 lbs. in 1906, and when the whole of the biscuit importation which is to be embarrassed by a duty of id. was from England, last year, 202,000 lbs. - barely a sixteenth of our own exports - while the general duty is to.be increased by Jd., or 50 per cent., in order that we may transfer to British importations the 17,000 lbs. now competing with England. That is as against nearly 4,000,000 lbs., comprising the local production for export and the importations from England. If this were to be a revenue duty, reasons might be urged for it’, but even then it is not wanted. It is not necessary to tax the consumers of 200,000 lbs. id. per lb. for the encouragement of biscuit-makers who, it is said, are not doing their duty by their workmen. Let the people have their biscuits free. If 202,000 lbs. come from England, let them come free, if we are going to give England a preference. What difference will it make? The English makers have to pay the freight on flour to England, pay for the manufacture of the flour into biscuits, pav the freight back, and a number of other expenses. Surely that is enough in regard to such an insignificant proportion of the Australian consumption of biscuits as is repre- sented by our importations of the article. From that aspect alone, surely it is not worthy of us to put that duty on? What are we putting it on for? Whom are we putting it on against? England - the Mother Country to whom we talk about giving a preference in trade. I do not believe in preferences at all as that policy is usually represented, and, although I am going to vote for every preference that I legitimately can vote for,I shall do so simply and solelyon the ground that I want duties reduced as far as I can on the commodities that are consumed here. I am going to vote for preference on that ground solely. I am not going to vote for preference because I think it is going to promote the unity of the Empire, and all that kind of cant.’ It is going to do nothing of the kind. Every one of us is as loyal to the Empire as are those who talk perhaps more glibly about it. But the loyalty of Australia is not to be bought in that fashion-. If it is to be bought in that fashion, is it only to last so long as the price is paid? And when we have a little difference about some of these trade questions
– Australia is not being bought - she is really conceding.
– Her loyalty is really being bought.
– Will the honorable senator connect his remarks with the question of biscuits? At this stage he can only discuss the question of preference in relation to the item before the Chair.
– I am dealing with the principle of preference, and stating why I am going to vote for it and not against it.
– The honorable senator is getting into a general discussion of the question of preference.
– With great respect, I think not. Besides. I think I should be entitled on the first item dealing with preference, to go into the general question. I am not putting it that way, however.
– The honorable and learned senator should have done that last week.
– If the honorable senator makes that claim, I may mention that at the outset I informed the Committee that I intended to confine the discussion to the item before the Chair.
– I entirely respect what you say, Mr. Chairman, but I think that, on other occasions, and certainly in another place, when any particular item that involves a departure, or an application in concrete form of a new principle, is reached, it is usual to have a general debate on that item. But I am not going to ask for that. the CHAIRMAN. - The honorable senator says that he is not going to ask for it, but at the same time he makes a statement which to a certain extent is a reflection on the Chair.
– Oh no.
– I think so. The honorable senator refers to what was done in another place. When we went into Committee on the Bill, I drew attention to the fact that the question of preference was involved in every item, but I said that it was my intention to confine the discussion on each separate item to the question of preference as affecting that item. If the Committee dissented from that view, it was quite within the power of the Committee by motion or otherwise to have directed that I should take some other course. There was no dissent from any member of the Committee, and therefore I take it that the Committee upheld me in my contention. I trust that the honorable senator will confine his remarks on preference to the preference on biscuits.
– I assure you, Mr. Chairman, that I had no intention whatever of reflecting upon what you said. I was merely referring, by way of illustration, to what I thought, I hope not mistakenly, had been the previous practice even in this Chamber, and to what had been done in the other Chamber. I said that I not merely treated what you said with the utmost respect, but would of course be guided by it. Senator McColl, who naturally takes an opposite view to mine with regard to preference, suggested that I should have made the remarks I w as making on the second reading.
– In view of the understanding arrived at last week.
– With whom ?
– With the whole Chamber.
– I know of no such understanding. The honorable senator could not have been listening or in the chamber when a suggestion was made in regard to fixing the closing of the debate for Friday. I protested against any such arrangement being made. I was not here on Friday, as I was not well. I am sorry that I was not here.
– The Chairman laid down a method of procedure.
– That was after the second reading was carried. I yield at once implicit obedience to that, as it is my duty to do. To return to the point, I had almost finished referring to the figures, and the effects of them, which had been quoted by the Vice-President of the Executive Council in regard to this item, and the preference. I intend to make my attitude perfectly clear as to why I shall vote for preference. I intend to vote for this or some preference on biscuits - I shall attempt to make them free - -hot because I believe in preference at all, but because I believe, whenever I can, in reducing taxes on food. When we come to ‘taxes, upon manufactures and other products, as has been so strongly put by Senator Findley in relation to another item, other considerations come into play. I would not vote for a preference at all, except that it is a reduction of duty, and a reduction of duty upon an article of food. I also said that I was not going to vote for it because some people said that it was to promote the unity of the Empire. In my view, none of these trade restrictions or duties, so long as we have the right to fix our own fiscal system, will, of themselves, nromote the unity .of the Empire. Preferences - a preference on biscuits to begin with - will rather be a’n element of danger to the unity of the Empire instead of tending to solidification. The amount of the alleged preference is perfectly trivial and absurd. It is introduced after the old duty of id. per lb., which was also recommended by the Tariff Commission, has been raised by 50 per cent. This was done for the purpose of making the pretence of a substantial preference or gift in favour of England to the extent of id. per lb. in relation to the 17,000 lbs. of biscuits which happen to come from a number of other countries. According to the latest Customs statistics, the United Kingdom, supplies us with 201,185 lbs., and the balance of our imports of biscuits- 17,000 lbs. - actually comes from seventeen different countries. As much as 12 lbs. comes from India, and 30 lbs. from the Netherlands, whilst Portugal has the audacity to send ‘100 lbs. of those biscuits which it is proposed to penalize in favour- of England to the extent of an extra Jd. per lb. ! That is the preference that is sought to be offered, and that is commended to us as a great gift to- the people of England, which will induce them to make reciprocal gifts to us bv taxing the food of their own poor people.
– The whole lot that did not come from England is worth only about ^300.
– When the amount is put into pounds sterling, the thing is made more ludicrous. It is only by taking a concrete item like this that the absurdity of the whole thing appears. That statement applies to nearly every item, with one exception, in which preference is offered by this Tariff. I do not want to go over this ground again, but if the items are taken separately, as I am doing with this, one, the hollowness of the proposal is apparent. I intend to move that as regards England the item shall be free. I can understand the position taken up by Senator E. J. Russell, in relation to workmen participating in the advantages .of protection, if that is. established - and it is not established yet. But- 1 cannot understand those who advocate this preference as a gift to England, and declare, “ We do not want or stipulate for any return,” whilst expressing a hope for reciprocal preference, like the blind beggar at the corner who does not ask for alms, but simply holds out his tin pannikin. Does any one really think that we ought to pass this sham preference in the hope that it will gull the people of England into the belief that they are getting something substantial, and induce them to place a tax on foreign grain, cheese, meat, and other products? Biscuits afford a concrete example of the absurdity of these preferential proposals which might be discussed for a considerable time, but without entering into further reasons, I merely intimate that at the proper time I shall .move that the item be free as regards imports from the United Kingdom.
.- As his main reason in support of this motion, Senator E. J. Russell urged that,, some time ago, those interested in this industry waited on the Minister of Labour in Victoria, and pointed out that, in consequence of the low duty, they were not in a position to pay fair and reasonablewages. Probably those gentlemen convinced the Minister that they were not making fortunes; but were they as successful’ in convincing their workmen that the wages were such as they were entitled to? But even if the biscuit manufacturers are not making fortunes, they ought by now to have established the industry on such a basis as to give them the command of the Australian market. As a matter of fact, the official figures show not only that they have the command of the Australian market but that they export annually considerably over 3,000,000 lbs. The addition proposed by Senator E. J. Russell would, on the importation, amount approximately to £500 per annum, or less than £10 per week ; and it is suggested that this would enable the biscuit manufacturers of Australia to pay the whole of their employes wages such as have never been paid before. In my .opinion, if the manufacturers cannot pay reasonable wages with the present duty, an additional 1/2d per lb. ‘will not enable them to. do so. I am a protectionist, with a view to obtaining the Australian market for Australian commodities ; and there is not a shadow of a doubt that the biscuit manufacturers already have that market. No matter how enthusiastic we may be as protectionists, we can never absolutely prohibit the importation of. goods, because there are always people who will pay fancy prices for articles they fancy.
– The bulk of the imported biscuits are special varieties.
– I am inclined to think that they are; and, although similar biscuits may be made here, some people, even Australians, prefer the imported variety. If I were convinced that the stoppage of the present importation would be of any material advantage to either manuf acturers or the work people, I should vote for a duty that would bring about, that result.
– It was pointed out that if the employes had their wages increased by 25 per cent., the Australian manufacturers would lose the market.
– That, of course, is what the manufacturers say ; but we must not forget that the manufacturers manage to retain the market under the present duty ; and if the men have not been paid fair wages, that is mainly due to the want of unity and organization amongst themselves. There was a time in Victoria when the average boot operator was paid less than 30s. a week, it being urged that the industry could not afford higher wages ; and the same statement has been made in regard to almost every protected industry at one time or another. We have no guarantee that the proposed increase in duty will result in any increase in the wages, while we have a guarantee on the part df the Government that legislation, providing for a living wage in every protected industry will be introduced. Most of the imported biscuits come from the United Kingdom ; and Senator E. J. Russell has told us that in this industry the conditions in Australia, from the workman’s point of view, are just as bad as they are in the Old Land. I can hardly believe that such is the case. First of all, there is a duty of id. per lb., and, in addition, freight both ways, while most of the imported biscuits are tinned; and, taking all these facts into consideration, I cannot see how the conditions of work in this industry in> Australia can be as bad as they are in Great Britain. Bad as the conditions are in many industries here, I think that, as a whole, Australia in this connexion can provide an object lesson .for almost every other country, and the possibilities of improvement are much greater here than elsewhere. On the case presented by Senator E. J. .Russell, I am not disposed to vote for the proposed increase; and I cannot imagine that even the entire stoppage of importation would prove of any material advantage, seeing that the biscuit industry is already established in almost every State of the Union.
– There are two considerations which ought to guide us in making requests, first the requests should be reasonable, and, secondly, they should be such as will be likely to be accepted by another place. Every trivial request that we are called upon to consider means so much waste of time, and keeps the industrial and commercial community in a ferment, because it prevents business men from getting to work under settled conditions.
Senator Clemons. That is scarcely a . respectful way of talking about the proceedings of the Committee.
– I do not need Senator Clemons to teach me respect to my fellow senators.
– Has not each senator the right to exercise his own judgment’ in this matter?
– Certainly. I merely express my. own opinion. I think it a pity that Senator Symon discussed the question of preference in the way he did. He simply put arguments into the possession of the enemies of preference, both here and in Great Britain. We are only commencing to give preference to the Old Country, and we must commence in a small way. We could not carry larger concessions than are proposed. But it must npt be forgotten that the preference in connexion with biscuits is not the only preference in the Tariff.
– Senator Symon contended that the preference given should be a real one.
– The preference given is real in every instance, whether the difference of rates be large or small. We are offering to Great Britain practically the same preference that Canada has offered. In Canada, the general Tariff is 27L per cent., the intermediate Tariff 25 per cent., and the Tariff against British goods 17 1/2 per cent.
– Would the honorable senator vote to make this duty 17 1/2 per cent, against Great Britain?
– Then why does he say that we are doing more than has been done by Canada?
– I say that we are offering practically the same preference. Canada has reduced her general rate from 27 1/2 per cent, to 17^ per cent, on British products. With regard to the statement that duties on food products make them dearer. I can remember when it was impossible to buy any but English biscuits here. I was “ batching “ in a tent at the time, and could not obtain Australian biscuits. Biscuits were not manufactured in Australia until the establishment of the industry had been encouraged by the imposition of a protective duty, the result of which has been that biscuits now cost only about one-third of what they used to cost, while the industry has been so successful that, as Senator Symon has shown, we now do a large export trade.
– Then- why is the duty needed?
– For one reason, to secure Great Britain by giving her a preference. If the honorable senator has always been opposed to “a duty on biscuits, why did he allow the South Australian Parliament, of which he was a member, to impose a duty of 2d. per lb. on them?
– I was not a member of the South Australian Parliament when that duty was imposed.
– Under the Queensland, South Australian, Tasmanian, and
Western Australian Tariffs, there was a duty of 2d. per lb. on biscuits, and under the Victorian and New South Wales Tariffs - notwithstanding the free-trade policy of the last-named’ State - the duty was Jd. per lb. The result is that there is now a large biscuit industry in New South Wales and Tasmania, as well as in Victoria.
– The largest manufacturer in New South Wales says that he does not desire the duty to be increased.
– Probably the diffi.culties of the Victorian manufacturers at the present time are due to the competition of the other States. I think that we should leave the duty as it stands. The preference which is provided for was not proposed by trie Government, but was given during the consideration of the Tariff in the other Chamber. We should be unwise to interfere with it.
– Senator E. J. Russell was not quite fair in his reference to the biscuit manufacturers of Tasmania.
– Is the honorable senator about to quote a report of the Commissioners who recently sat in Tasmania ?
– I do not wish to mention the names of individual manufacturers in these debates, but I shall privately give the honorable senator the names of the leading biscuit manufacturers of Tasmania, so that he may obtain from them particulars of the wages -which they pay, and the conditions of labour which they enforce, or, if he does not care to do so, I. shall be prepared to obtain the information for him. Furthermore, I should like to tell him, without mentioning names, that, not long ago, an enterprising person in Tasmania was importing Victorian biscuits, which were being sold at lower prices in Tasmania than in Victoria, reselling them at a profit in Victoria, after paying freight and all charges incidental to carriage, at prices lower than those at which similar biscuits were being sold here by their manufacturer.
– I should like more definite particulars about that.
– I undertake to prove the statement, and to give the names of those concerned, though I do not wish to mention them publicly.
– The honorable senator is quite right in that.
– When a member of the Tariff Commission, one of the ob- jects which I had always in view was the ascertainment of the rates of wages paid in Australia, with- a view to their comparison with those paid in the countries which export to Australia. The price of an article depends largely on two factors : the cost of its raw materials and the wages paid to those employed to manufacture them into the finished’ product. In regard to biscuits it was “shown that id. per lb.’ was considerably’ more than the total wages cost.
– Will the honorable senator verify that fact?
– I am prepared to do so. Nowhere can manufacturers make biscuits without employing labour for which they have to pay wages. But even if foreign manufacturers had no labour to. pay for, a duty of id. per lb. would be more than sufficient to protect our manufacturers from their competition. According to the Trade and Customs returns, Australia exports about 3,500,000 lbs. of biscuits, worth about 3d. per lb., and the wages employed in making them certainly do not amount to 33^ per cent, of their cost. Furthermore, the great bulk of our exportation goes to black labour countries ; for instance, we export largely to India.
– Where, no doubt, the biscuit-making industry is not established.
– I assume that some biscuits are made in India.
– Yes. India sent 30 lbs. of biscuits to Australia during the latest year for which I have figures.
– What was the exportation of biscuits from Australia to India?
– Australia exported 1:13,196 lbs. of biscuits to India; 1:35,000 lbs. to Java; 150,000 lbs. to’ the New Hebrides; and 579,000 lbs. to the South Sea Islands. We exported also to Burmah, Cape Colony, Fiji, Hong Kong, Mauritius. Natal, the Straits Settlements, the Caroline Islands, and New Zealand. I regret that on such a common article of food as biscuits there should be a farthing of taxation imposed. The duty is absolutely unnecessary for the protection of our biscuit manufacturers ; at least, that is the opinion to which I came after listening to the evidence given before the Tariff Commission. If the duty’ were remitted, it would not in any way interfere with the local industry, because the freights to this country from abroad are a sufficient protection, and the importations consequently paltry. There is, however, a fairly ‘strong Inter-State competition, and immediately Victoria is at a disadvantage by reason of such competition, the Commonwealth Tariff is abused, and there is a clamour amongst her manufacturers for higher duties all round. The Victorian manufacturers must learn to pay good wages, and to brace themselves to withstand the healthy competition of their rivals in other States.
– They ought -also to equip their factories with good machinery.
– Notwithstanding all that has been said on this matter I am not yet convinced. Take for instance the argument put forward by two honorable senators. Senator Findley sneered at the idea of the’ small sum of £500 having any influence. That certainly was very unfair, because, as a. matter of fact, it amounts to a little over _£t,8oo. When we are assured bv Senator Clemons that the cost of the labour is only about id. per lb. it will be seen that the sum of £1,800, when distributed, would make a very material difference in the wages paid to the ‘men.
– It is not id. per lb. I was leaning to the side of the honorable senator in order to be perfectly safe.
– The honorable senator is inaccurate in- estimating the labour cost. I understood him to say that the labour cost of 1 lb. of biscuits amounted to id.
– Not to so much as that.
– The ‘ tin which is used to pack biscuits costs about 8d. It will hold about 3^ lbs. of cracknells.
– Well, who pays for the tin ?
– The consumer.
– I did not deal with that phase of’ the question at all.
– I did make the statement that the conditions in the biscuit industry in Australia are little if any better than the conditions existing in the Old Country. I am not inclined to defame Australia, but in my opinion it would’ be better for us not to have a pennyworth of export trade in- biscuits than to have the conditions which are operatingin the industry. What are they?
– They may be bad, but that has nothing to do with the duty on biscuits.
– It has something to do with the duty. . I have had at command the figures and the facts, and whatever my limited abilities may be, I can count accurately when I have a definite sum to work out. I was asked by the men to apply to the Chamber of Manufactures to maintain their Wages Board. But after going through the figures and considering the whole of the facts I had to confess that there was nothing else to do but to suspend the Wages Board in this State. It is because the biscuit manufacturers are sweating the men and the women that we are able to have an export trade in that article. I do not want an export trade which is built up on the sweat of the men and women of this State. In the factories women are not allowed’ to do night-work. At 5 o’clock in the evening women who are engaged in packing biscuits, &c, cease to work, and kiddies who ought to be at school have to my knowledge been introduced to work from 5 p.m. to 3 a.m.
– How long ago is it since that happened?
– I believe it is going on to-day, I regret to say. In Victoria I have seen children asking permission to take off their boots because the work-room was too hot. And when they had finished at 3 a.m. they were afraid to go to their homes, and so they gathered round the warm bakehouse to sleep until daylight.
– The honorable senator does notsay that those conditions exist in any State other than Victoria?
– Those conditions exist in Victoria, and if biscuitmakers in other States can undersell its biscuit-makers, it is because they are sacrificing the lives of their work people. In Tasmania, the biscuit-maker cannot buy flour or other ingredients more cheaply than can the Victorian biscuit-maker. I take it that if the former can undersell the latter, it is because they pay lower wages in this industry, as in most others.
– That is not so.
– Then what is the secret of the success of the Tasmanian biscuit-makers? I would much sooner allow the export trade to go than maintain it at the cost of the workers.
I want to be fair to these manufacturers. I do not say that they are altogether to blame, but they are very largely to blame.
– Surely the honorable senator does not want to be fair to men of that sort?
– Sometimes men get their capital invested in an industry and cannot get out of it. I hope in the near future to see the system of new protection introduced, so that workmen may get fair conditions. I trust that the protection to this industry will be at least 20. per cent. I want to see that there is a sufficient margin to maintain the industry in Australia under decent conditions.
– The honorable senator ought not to give a moment’s consideration to the manufacturers to whom he has referred. He ought to wipe them out of existence.
– Unfortunately, whenever I have had to investigate a question of wages, I have found that there has been little to choose between importers andmanufacturers. I prefer to stand by the men whom we can force, under a Factories Act or an Industrial Court Act, to pay decent wages. I contend that this duty should be increased in order to enable decent conditions to be established in the industry in Victoria and other States.
– I really do not know whether the amendment proposed by Senator E. J. Russell would have the desired effect.
– Not with men of that sort.
– I am afraid that it would not.
– It is a revelation of what these “ coddled “ manufacturers do.
– There is no doubt that we have a large export trade in biscuits, but whether it is built up on the sweat of the employes or not, I am not prepared to say. From Senator E. j. Russell we have heard what the conditions in Victoria are, and certainly they do not appear to be very creditable. We have also been told that. Tasmania is competing successfully with the other States in the biscuit trade. If it is beating Victoria out of the field, it can only be, as the last speaker said, because the conditions are worse there than in Victoria.
– The honorable senator ought not to say that, because the Tasmanian conditions are nothing approaching the Victorian conditions.
– I did not say so. I propose to quote an extract from the report of the Royal Commission on Wages and Wage-earners in Tasmania, which was published as recently as 1907. On page 1, 1 find this paragraph, under the head of “ Biscuit Factories “ -
There were two biscuit factories visited in Hobart, and from the pay-sheets it was found that the wages for biscuit-bakers and cake-maker and pastrycook vary from 30s. per week to £,1 10s. ; the next branch, 11s. to 30s.; and juniors, from 5s. to 15s. The men work 53 hours weekly. A. shop is opened in conjunction with one of the establishments, the female employes in which work on an average 53 hours weekly, their pay ranging from Ss. to 125. a week ; they are also allowed nine meals during the week. The clerks (females) work 51 hours, and receive 15s. and 16s. per week, and seven meals weekly. A male clerk, with 4^ years’ service, in the other establishment, is paid 25s. weekly for 47 hours’ work per week, Holidays are allowed and paid for in one factory, but the employes lose time if they are away sick. In the other establishment the evidence as regards payment for any holidays and sickness is conflicting.
At Launceston the Commission visited one factory, and found that, in addition to the foreman, there are assistants whose wages are 14s. and 32s. 6d., whilst boys are paid 6s. to Ss. per week. Several girls employed as packers receive 6s. to ios. a week, and the forewoman £1 is. Th”e juniors commence at 5s: and 6s. per w-eek. The females work 47^ and the males jo£ hours per week. Sick leave and holidays are both paid for. The clerk is in receipt of £2 a week.
In this industry we find, that the following rates of payment made to the undermentioned employes are inadequate for the services rendered : - Clerk, aged 25 years, 4^ years’ service, 25s. per week ; biscuit-baker, aged 22 years, 8 years’ service, 30s. per week; general hand, aped 26, 2 years’ service, ns. per week; packer, aged 22, in his fifth year of service, 20s. a week ; general hand, almost iS, just on three years’ service, gs. per week.
– Where is this factory ?
– At Launceston. The honorable senator shakes his head. I Iia ve been quoting from the report of a Royal Commission on Wages and Wageearners in Tasmania, which was presented to both Houses of its Parliament, by His Excellency the Governor’s command, in j 907, and yet the’ honorable senator has the audacity to doubt t’he correctness of the quotation.
– The honorable senator does not know what that factory w-as.
– I do not know anything, except what I am reading from the report.
– It may be called a factory, but it is about as much a factory as would be half-a-dozen children cookingat home.
– This report is signed by Christopher 0’Reilly, President, and James Joseph Long, Commissioner, and there is an addendum signed by Herbert James Mockford Payne, Commissioner. I do not know Mr. O’Reilly or Mr. Payne, but I have had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Long. It appears to me that there is something radically wrong with the biscuit industry. Apparently, the conditions, in Melbourne are not what they ought to be, and certainly if this report is to be believed, and I see no reason why it should not be believed, the conditions in Tasmania are of a similar character.
– No, they are totally different.
– Whether the proposal of Senator E. J. Russell to increase the duty would have the desired effect I am not in a position to say. As a matter of fact, we are importing only a very small quantity of biscuits ; we are exporting largely.’ It appears to me that in the industry there is a lack of organization. The men have not the courage to stick together and demand a fair rate of wages.
– To increase the duty on that small quantity of imported biscuits would simply put so much more money into the pockets of the manufacturers.
– Yes. So long as workmen continue tobe disorganized, if the duty were increased to even 20s. per. lb., it would not make much difference to them. I would willingly vote for any increase of the duty if I thought it would have the effect which Senator E. J. Russell seems to anticipate. But I am afraid that it would not: and that even if I did vote for the request, it would not be of any particular value to the worker. What I Would say to them is this - Form a union, stick together, try to get your wages increased in that way, and if the Legislature can help you it will do so. I believe that it could and would help. Meanwhile voluntary organization is necessary for these workers just as it is for other trades.
– lt was not my intention to take part in the debate, because the facts already adduced are sufficient to enable us to arrive at a decision. But the statements made by Senator E. J. Russell are of such a serious character as affecting the manufacturers of biscuits throughout the- Common- wealth that I must say a word or two about them. Even as regards Victoria, I am very doubtful if such a condition of affairs as that indicated by the honorable senator exists. It is difficult to believe that after the ordinary hands have left their work little boys are induced to enter the factories and to work from 5 o’clock in the evening until 3 the following morning.
– The Factories Act would not allow it; it could not be true.
– I do not believe’ that such a condition of things would be allowed”.
– There are factory inspectors in Victoria, are there not?
– I feel sure that - inadvertently, of course - the honorable senator has libelled the. manufacturers. He should either prove the statements which he has made, or as a matter of duty withdraw them, and say that he has been misinformed. I can state with regard to New South Wales - though I do not like to mention particular States - that it certainly is not the case that such a condition of affairs exists in the biscuit factories there. I happen to know the firm in New South Wales who are, I believe, the largest manufacturers of biscuits in Australia. They do a
Aery extensive export trade. Indeed, I should say that they enjoy probably the largest export biscuit trade in Australia. I venture to say that that firm bears. a character equal to the best in the civilized world. The conditions of employment are fair and equitable. There has never been any trouble with the employes and the heads of the firm, who have been very successful in developing their industry, have done so upon lines which I am confident would meet with the approval of every member of the Senate. I make that statement simply because otherwise the assertions which Senator E. J. Russell has seen fit to make in regard to Victoria might be thought to apply generally to the biscuit manufacturing industry.
– Will the honorable senator allow me in confirmation of my statements to say ‘that I witnessed what I described? If there is any’ further doubt about it, I may add that I worked at the establishment.
– It is a long time since you were a boy.
– I have kept in touch with the workers.
– I can only express my very deep regret that such a condition of affairs should exist in this Commonwealth. I never thought it possible that young children could be introduced into a, factory and made to work from 5 o’clock in the evening until 3 the next morning, at wages which I assume are inequitable. . Senator Symon has placed the’ facts of the case with regard to this industry very fairy before the Committee, and it is impossible to come to any other. conclusion than that if we were to increase the duty by Jd. per lb. it would be of no use whatever to the workers or to the industry. Australia has now attained to that position with regard to biscuit manufacture when she has become an exporter on a very large scale. With the exception, perhaps, of some of the finer classes of biscuits, I venture to say that the manufacturers of Australia produce biscuits which are equal to those manufactured in Europe or any other country.
– If they were not they could not export.
– If their biscuits were not of excellent quality they would not be able to export them, because abroad they . have to sell their goods in competition with English, American, and European manufacturers. Under these circumstances, I trust that the Committee will not increase the duty. The whole subect’ has been thoroughly threshed out by a Commission consisting of some of the ablest members of the two Houses bf the Legislature who, I think, deserve the thanks of the Commonwealth Parliament for the time and ability that they devoted to their duties. I consider that the Commission has reason to be proud of its work. Arid surely after we have asked gentlemen to give their time for the performance of such duties for nearly two years, and after they, having a knowledge of the personality of the witnesses brought before them, have thoroughly sifted the evidence, we should require very strong reasons to induce us to depart from the recommendations which they have made. In this instance all the evidence, as far as I can judge, is in accord with the determinations of the Commission. Both protectionists and free-traders have agreed that a certain duty would be sufficient. Under these circumstances, and as no fresh evidence has been placed before us, we should, I consider, abide by the duty which the Commission has recommended.
– I should not have joined in the discussion had it not been for Senator Stewart’s closing remarks in regard to the biscuit industry. I wish briefly to emphasize the point which he made in regard to the organization of the workers. Senator E. J. Russell has moved that the duty be raised from11/2d. per lb. to 2d., with the desire to see improved conditions obtaining throughout the industry, and to secure better wages for the employes. I think that if the protection of11/2d. per lb. is not sufficient to enable fair and reasonable remuneration to be paid to the employes, double the amount of duty would not induce the manufacturers to pay a fair wage. Senator E. J. Russell is in hopes that the new protection, or the legislation to be proposed to Parliament by the Government, will be the means of improving the conditions of the employes. But he wishes to forestall that legislation by increasing the duty to 2d. per lb. Senator Stewart, however, hit the nail on the head so far as concerns the workers, when he urged that unless they organize they can never expectto reap the full benefits of the new protection.
– Even under the system of new protection, without organization there will be no protection for these workers.
– I have emphasized this point outside - that no matter how high the protectionist duties may be, no matter how generous we may be to the manufacturers in our desire to help them, the workers themselves must organize before they can receive benefits from what is called the new protection. I am prepared to support the duty as it stands on the schedule. I consider that a duty of11/2d. per lb. is quite sufficient. So far as relates to the conditions of employment in Victoria, Senator E. J. Russell has painted an appalling picture. I know that he must have substantial proofs for his statements, otherwise he would not have made them.. But if such a condition of things obtains an increase in the duty would notprove a remedy. There is something lax in the administration of the Factories and Shops Act, either so far as the inspectors are concerned, or in the machinery of the legislation itself. We cannot remove that deplorable condition of affairs by an increase in the amount of the duty. We must appeal to the State
Parliament, or to those in charge of the administration of the Act. I cannot, for a moment, doubt the accuracy of the statements which the honorable senator has made, but I cannot agree with him that an extra tax of1/2d. per lb. on biscuits would remove the evil . So far as the proposed preferential duty is concerned, I may briefly say that Britain does not thank us for what we are offering to her by means of our preference policy. Indeed, she has treated our offers with contempt. I shall oppose the preference of1/2d. per lb. on biscuits, and hope to see it wiped off the schedule. Apart from Victoria, wherever I have seen the employes in the biscuit industry at work, I can say, without making invidious distinctions between States, that I am quite satisfied that the conditions under which they work are fairly satisfactory, and the remuneration which they receive is in accordance with the standards ruling in the trade.
– I should like to say a few words upon this question, because I know something of the biscuit-making industry in Tasmania. I can speak with knowledge in regard to Hobart, and say that no such condition of affairs exists in relation to the manufacture of biscuits there”, as has been stated to exist in protectionist Victoria. Indeed, I can hardly understand that such a condition does exist in Victoria. The export of biscuits from Hobart to Melbourne is caused largely by the improvements which have been made in regard to manufacturing machinery in the Tasmanian factories. It must be understood that not many able-bodied men are employed in biscuit manufacturing. The principal work is done by machinery. The mixing is done by machinery ; the biscuits are put into the oven by machinery, and they are taken out by machinery - at all events, in one case that I knowof. It is the packing and labelling that is done by means of cheaply-paid labour. I may say that Mr. C. D. Haywood, a biscuit manufacturer in a large way of business in Tasmania, instituted proceedings for libel against those who had levelled against his firm a charge of sweating, and was awarded damages amounting to £300, which he distributed amongst charities. The incident shows how readily, in matters of this kind, a chimera may be raised, and that we ought to hesitate before we accept what appear to be exaggerated statements. . Senator E. J. Russell stated that he spoke of what had happened, within his own knowledge, in the industry in Victoria, but I am glad that such conditions do not obtain in Tasmania. The manufacturers in that State use the most up-to-date machinery, and, their baking being excellent, they are able to produce a superior article.
– When did the conditions, of which Senator E. J. Russell spoke, prevail?
– Up to five years ago I worked amongst them.
– I would point out that the question of free-trade or protection has no bearing on that of wages, which has been imported into this issue.
– That is not so.
– In free-trade countries lower wages would be paid. I lose specially to call attention to the statement made by Senator E. J. Russell as to the conditions which prevailed some time ago in the ibiscuit-making industry in Victoria. The honorable senator went further, and said that he regretted that they prevailed to-day.
– I said that I worked amidst them five years ago, and believed that they still continued.
– I do not think they do prevail ; but if they do, they exist in defiance of the law, and whoever knows of them should bring them under the notice of the authorities, in order that they may be stopped. I venture to say that they do not. I do not suggest that Senator E. J. Russell has not seen something like that which he has described, but I am afraid that his sensitiveness has led him to overstate the case, if it exists at all.
– If the honorable senator takes up that attitude, notwithstanding my assertion that I was in daily contact with these conditions, he must be blind to all sense of decencv.
– I can only say that if those conditions exist to-day the fact that they do is a reflection on whoever knows of ‘them. They are contrary to law, and if any one knows that they prevail he should’ bring the matter under the notice of the authorities.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South. Wales) [6.24]. - Having listened carefully to the statements made during this debate, and read others thai) have been published, it seems to me that manufacturers in the Commonwealth have practically overtaken the local demand for biscuits, and are now devoting themselves largely, if not chiefly, to the export trade. As that export trade appears to be carried on with people who are very objectionable to a large number of honorable senators - namely, with black races - it would seem as if Senator E. J. Russell’s proposal had in it an element of subsidizing trade with coloured people. It appears to be a little beyond the political professions of many very estimable senators. As the market is supplied, under the existing rates of duty, with all its wants, and we are transacting trade with other countries, what claim can there be for the imposition of an import duty which is actually an export duty ? The people of Australia are, if possible, to be compelled to subsidize, by means of a duty, a trade which is chiefly conducted with other countries.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [6.27]. - I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the item free.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 21
Senator- Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [7.45]. - -I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested’ to make the duty on item 35 (imports under General Tariff) per lb.,1d.
I did not intend to say anything in support of themotion I have moved, because I really dealt with the matter on the motion submitted by Senator E. J. Russell .;. but I should like to say that the reduction of the duty from11/2d. to1d. per lb. would make it what it was under the Tariff of 1902, and would be in accordance with the duty which the Vice-President of the Executive Council has reminded us was recommended unanimously by both sections of the Tariff Commission.
– The honorable senator has quite frankly told the Committee the object of his motion. He proposes that, so far as the general Tariff is concerned, the House of Representatives should be requested to reduce the duty from11/2.d. to1d. per lb., and, should he carry that request, he intends to ask the House of Representatives to reduce the Tariff so far as it affects imports from the United Kingdom. For several reasons I ask the Committee to permit the item to remain as it stands. First of all, it really represents a compromise made in another place, and, from that stand-point, has much to recommend it. The original proposal of the Government did not make allowance for any preference at all in regard to this item, but provided for a general Tariffon biscuits of11/2d. per lb. After discussion, the right honorable the leader of the Opposition in another place, suggested a reduction of the duty to1d. per lb. on imports from the United Kingdom, having regard to the figures so freely quoted here in connexion with the item, and by way of compromise and to shorten debate, the proposal was ultimately agreed to by the Government. I say that, as a compromise, the duties at present proposed have much to recommend them. I frankly admit that the preference decided upon in this caseby the House of Representatives is of a most trifling character.
– Dees the honorable senator say that a preference of 331/3 per cent. is of a trifling character?
– So far as its operation is concerned, it is one of the few preferences proposed that may be regarded as of a ‘trifling character, because the really operative duty in this case is that of1d. per lb., which is levied against imports from the United Kingdom. The total imports are not heavy, but I have explained that over 200.000 lbs. of biscuits are imported annually from the United Kingdom and only 17,200 lbs. from other countries. The preference in this case, therefore, is not worthy of very serious consideration. But ‘ I invite honorable senators to consider what has been the effect of the duty of id. per lb. which has been in force during the existence of the Commonwealth, and which was in operation in some of the States prior to Federation. It proved to be a very useful duty, under which there were established large factories, which employ a large number of hands, and whose operations have attained to very considerable dimensions. There are such factories in New South Wales, Victoria, and Tasmania.
– The honorable senator contends that a duty of id. per lb. has led to an increased protection for exports?
– I say that the duty of id. per lb. has been of substantial value in bringing about the establishment of the factories- to which I have referred, and is essential for their successful continuance.
– Even so far as exports are concerned.
– Yes, I intended to deal with that. Honorable senators must know that, although the local industry has reached such a position that local manufacturers practically command the home market, and are in a position to export over 3,000,000 lbs. of biscuits annually to other parts, it is the fact that under the duty of id. per lb. they have been enabled to command the home market that has enabled them successfully to export their surplus production. We are not justified in exposing this important industry to the risk of the operations of much more colossal industries abroad. We are not justified in reducing what has been recognised as a reasonable Tariff* for its protection, and exposing it to the operations of those who, bv joining together, might dump their surplus productions- here, and thereby destroy the local industry. That has been the result in other cases, where Tariff protection has been removed. I point out that in 1903 the imports of biscuits from abroad reached 263,900 lbs., and in 1904 the quantity imported was 250,000 lbs. In 1905 it was 212,500 lbs., and in 1906 it was 219,200 lbs. Honorable senators will see from these figures that the duty of id. per lb., has not been a prohibitive duty, but has permitted a certain amount of com>petition from abroad. And it is the duty of id. per lb., which I admit to be the really operative duty in the Tariff now before honorable senators, which is intended to be attacked by the other side. It has proved to be of substantial value to the local industry. I, therefore, ask. honorable senators to permit the protection given under the Tariff of 1902, and recommended by both sections of the Tariff Commission to be retained as the really operative duty in this item, and as it was thought desirable in another place to increase the duty against the foreigner, I ask that the additional protection against foreign importations should be maintained, and that the item, as it stands, representing a valuable compromise, should be agreed to.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [7.58]. - I think -Senator Best’s attempt to defend this duty of iki. per lb. deserves some attention. The honorable senator asserted that a duty of id. per lb. had been of substantial benefit, not merely in enabling local makers of biscuits to overtake the local demand, but in promoting the export of biscuits, to which reference has been made. If this duty of id. per ib., under the Commonwealth Tariff, which was passed in October, 1902, and which remained in existence until that now before the Committee came into tentative force, is what led to an export of 3,500,000 lbs. of Australian-made biscuits in 1906, will it be believed that the export of biscuits from Australia for 1902 was 3,297,711 lbs., or very nearly as much as it was in 1906 ? What then becomes of the contention that it was the duty of id. per lb. imposed upon biscuits under the first Commonwealth Tariff which led to the enormous development of the industry in Australia?
– That duty was imposed by the Commonwealth in lieu of a similar duty which was operative in most of the States prior to Federation.
– It certainly was not the duty imposed by the Commonwealth which led to the development of the industry. . What is perfectly clear is - as was pointed out by Senator Findley - that prior to the establishment of the Federation the manufacturers in the various States had the grip of the whole of this trade.
– They enjoyed the same . measure of protection before the advent of Federation. There was a duty of 2d. per lb. operative in four of the States.
– I am quite willing to accept the theory that o-jr manufacturers had the grip of the market in the matter of biscuits before the Federation was established, and that the 3,000,000 lbs. exported was available because the duty had been effective. But I always understood that the contention of protectionists was that protective duties were required only until industries had been established, when these imposts might disappear.
– Oh, no.
– Then industries are not merely to be encouraged and developed at the expense of the consumer till they have become established, but after our manufacturers have obtained the whole of the trade, and are dumping their goods into neutral markets we are to continue to subsidize them, so that they may be able to dispose of their surplus stocks there at a lower price than they charge for them in the Commonwealth. That kind of argument must recoil upon the leader of the Government in this Chamber. The honorable gentleman also commended the proposed duty to the Senate as a compromise. What compromise? The duty of11/2d. per lb. was the Government proposal. This was one of those instances in which they ignored the unanimous recommendation of the Tariff Commission, and in which they increased the old rate of duty and that recommended by the Tariff Commission, to the extent of 50 per cent. They desired to increase it against Great Britain, to whom they now wish to extend all these signs and tokens of affection. I have no concern for the moment with the proposal contained in the next column. .
– But we have, because the honorable senator has already stated his intention to move for the reduction of the duty against Great Britain.
– If. in spite of all the protestations of the Government in regard to the unity of the Empire, and the encouragement of trade with the Mother Country, the VicePresident of the Executive Council does not wish to extend a preference to the United Kingdom, I have no desire to force him to do so. But at the present moment we have no concern with what is contained in the next column. My honorable friend has stated that the leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives suggested this preferential concession. That is to say, that finding that a duty of11/2d.. per lb. was proposed upon biscuits, and that there was no hope of securing its reduction, he did the next best thing, namely, sought to restore the duty in respect of British goods to the rate which was formerly operative. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has’ urged that action as a reason why the duty of11/2d. per lb. should be retained. It is the very reason why we should reduce it to1d. per lb. The concession of1/2d. per lb. will apply only to the 17,000 lbs. of biscuits imported from foreign countries, and not to the 200,000 lbs. imported from Great Britain. Why should we not make the duty uniform? This so-called preference is a sham, and one for which the British people will not thank us. We might extend a preference to the United Kingdom by reducing the duty which has always been levied upon biscuits entering the Commonwealth, but certainly we cannot do so by adding1/2d. per lb. to the old rate. If the Vice-President of the Executive Council does not care to make the duty a uniform one, I Shall give him an opportunity to vote in favour of extending a real preference to Great Britain byreducing the old rate of duty.
– If Senator Symon’s intentions had not been so explicitly stated it would still have been evident to the Senate that his only anxiety is to reduce the rate of duty proposed. It is amusing, in the circumstances, to hear him talk about extending a preference to Great Britain. Honorable senators will recognise that in another place all the efforts of those of the same way of thinking as Senator Symon were directed towards securing a reduction of the duties levied under this Tariff irrespec- tive of the effect which their action might have. That is the reason why so many anomalies are contained in the schedule. We all know that the States have benefited by the protection which has always existed in respect of biscuits.Both sections of the Tariff Commission recommended the imposition of a duty of1d. per lb. upon this item. But that duty was notrecommended with a view to shutting out the smallest competitor with Australia, but every competitor, and particularly our greatest competitor. The Commission had nothing” else in view but a desire to keep out the products of every country, Great Britain included.
– We did not consider the question of preference.
– But Parliament has done so. The House of Representatives has decided that a duty of id. per lb. upon biscuits is a sufficiently low one in respect of the produce of any part of the world, and to use a phrase that has been employed pretty frequently of late, I say 1 Let us put a brick or two upon our Tariff wall against the other fellow.” If Senator Symon were honestly desirous of knocking off the additional Jd. per lb., there might be some sense in his appeal, but seeing that his declared intention is to secure a reduction of the duty in the next column by £d. per lb., I warn those who wish to preserve the biscuit industry against countenancing his proposal. I trust that the Committee will adhere to the item as it stands.
– I do not wish to discuss the question of preference. My chief object is to secure a reduction of the burden of. taxation. With that end in view, if I cannot secure the remission of any particular duty. I shall certainly endeavour to obtain a reduction in favour of British importations. But I shall do so only because I cannot secure a lower duty for the rest of the world. Upon this item I would just as soon see an all-round duty of id. per lb. imposed. Great Britain does not want us to assist her in the matter of the export of biscuits. She is not afraid of the competition of the rest of the world, and it is nonsense for us to say that we can help her by giving her a preference of J-d. per lb. in respect of 17,000 lbs. of biscuits imported annually. -The thing is more than farcical. For the credit of the Commonwealth, it would ‘be infinitely better for us to make the duty upon biscuits a uniform one. I would just like to answer one or two ludicrous arguments -advanced by Senator Best, who stated that the industry had been established in Australia as the result of the operation of a protective duty. He might just as logically argue that a duty -is required to establish the industry of flourmaking or- of baking.
– As a matter of fact, we did not produce sufficient wheat for our own requirements until a duty was operative.
– That was fifty years ago. We did not produce our own. steel rails fifty years ago. To attribute every advance which is made to the operation of protective duties is absolute madness.
– Apparently the only reason why the duty on this item has been increased in the general Tariff by £d. is to impose a preferential rate of id. on the small amount of biscuits imported from Great Britain. I ventured on the second reading to hint that the whole scheme of preference was largely devised for the purpose of increasing duties under the false pretence of solicitude for the interests of Great Britain. As Senator Symon pointed out, and it is a matter of history, Great Britain has not asked for preference on a single item. Preference and reciprocity were talked about, and she rejected in the most dignified and precise terms any proposal for either preference or reciprocity so far as she was concerned. During the whole of this debate not a single valid argument has been advanced for the duty of 1 1/2d. I will not say that the ‘ arguments of the Vice-President of the Executive Council were ludicrous. Probably from his and the Government’s point of view they are sufficient, but it has been made as clear as daylight - and the Minister practically admits it - that the increase from id. to iid. will be an inoperative tax. All this bears out strongly what I indicated on the second reading, that the preferential rates in the second column were a mere trap and a bait for increased duties. Both sections of the Tariff Commission were satisfied with the id. duty as quite sufficient for all practical purposes. That was the old protective duty. As no reason has been given for the hd. increase except that it is for the purpose of doing something with regard to the preferential Tariff, I shall not vote for it. Biscuits are one of the most agreeable articles of food obtainable. We produce the article in abundance for our own people, and actually export it. If this is to be. an inoperative duty, I can see no reason why it should be increased. I shall be glad if the Government and other honorable senators opposite can show that my suspicion as to the reason for the increase is unfounded. Unless otherwise advised, I intend to vote for a uniform duty of id. all round.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on “Biscuits” (imports under General Tariff), id. per lb. (Senator Symon’s request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 12
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to.
Item 36. Blue, Laundry, per lb., 2d.
.- I do not think that this item should pass in its present form. It is not necessary to enlarge upon the many purposes for which blue is used, and the class who generally use it very largely in their business. The old duty’ was1d. It is now proposed to double it. It is true that that is recommended by the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission, but the free-trade section advised the retention of the old duty. From the reports of the Commission, it is clear that the blue business is getting along fairly well. In Victoria the only complaint was that theNew South Wales factories were cutting into the trade of the Victorian makers. The total value of the blue produced in Victoria at present is £15,000, whereas the total quantity imported into the Commonwealth last year was worth only £5,000 odd. The imports of blue into Victoria from other countries decreased from 100,000 lbs. in 3902 to 16,000 lbs. in 1904, while those from other States into Victoria increased from 25,000 lbs. to 71,381 lbs. in the same period. That bears out the statement that the blue industry is getting on all right except that Victoria is rather suffering at the hands of other States. The imports into the Commonwealth in 1902 were 488,000 lbs. ; they fell in the following year to 196,000 lbs. ; in 1904 they rose again to 282,000 lbs. j in 1905 they fell again to 190,000 lbs.; and in 1906 they reached 237,000 lbs. Consequently, since the imposition of the Commonwealth Tariff of 1902 the imports of blue into the Commonwealth have fallen by 251,000 lbs. If, following the lines adopted by Senator E. J. Russell, we turn to the question whether the wages and labour conditions in the industry are reasonable, I have here a circular - it was not sent for this purpose - from Messrs. Harper and Company, claiming that in their starch factory the wages they are paying are quite satisfactory - and I take it that that will apply equally to their blue factory.
– Quite satisfactory from their point of view, but not from the point of view of the workers.
– I saw a publication issued from the Sydney Bulletin office which took back practically most of the things which they had previously said against that firm.
– They took back only one thing.
– They took back a lot after they got a page or two of advertisements.
– At any rate the business generally appears to be. fairly satisfactory. The duty is certainly not a revenue one. The total collected last yearon this item was only £979 I take it, therefore, that the object of the duty is protection. A protection of double the old rate is not necessary. It is true that a certain amount of blue is still coming into the country. Possibly a slightly increased protection may further increase the production of blue in Australia. Still, as was said just now with regard to biscuits, any duty imposed on this article is a duty against the United Kingdom, because practically the whole of the blue imported now comes from there. I therefore propose to move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 36 (imports from the United Kingdom),11/2d. per lb.
That will have the effect of reducing the duty on blue by1/2d. per lb. At the same time it will give ample protection to the industry.
– Must we not deal first with the general Tariff duty?
– Yes. Are there any requests in relation to the general Tariff duty? If not, I will call on Senator Chataway to move the motion he has indicated.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia)[8.30]. - I point out to Senator Chataway that it would be very -much better if he moved in respect of the item in the first column, especially as. the whole of the imports come from Great Britain.
– I should be sorry if no request were made in reference to this item, especially when I refresh my memory in regard to the evidence given before the Tariff Commission ; my intention is to move that the duty be id. per lb., though, personally, I should prefer to see blue free. I recognise that, quite apart from imports, the duty of 2d. adds something to the price to the consumer. It is universally admitted by protectionists that the chief object, of protec-. five duties is to enhance prices.
– That is rather a novel proposition. !
– All who support the new protection do so on the principle that one of the chief objects of protective duties is to enhance prices ; otherwise, what becomes of the new protection scheme? The idea is that protective duties, by adding to prices, increase the profits of manufacturers, and enable a share of those profits to be passed on to the workmen. I shall be no party to increasing the price of blue.
– The duty has not yet increased the price.
– The imposition of the Commonwealth Tariff .certainly increased the price of blue ; and it is now proposed to double the duty.
– Where was the price increased ?
– All over the Commonwealth.
– The honorable senator is wrong.
– If honorable senators take the trouble to look at page 127 of the report of the Tariff Commission, they will see there a statement inserted, or, at any rate, approved, by the protectionist section on this point Evidence was given before the Tariff Commission on behalf of Messrs. Lewis and Whitty, of Victoria, who desired an increased duty, not because they were not doing well, but” because they desired to make more profit; and, of course, more profit can be made only by charging more for the product.
– Oh, no !
– It was admitted that Australian-made blue is almost exclusively consumed here ; there were none of the usual complaints that a duty was necessary because of the competition caused by importation. The manufacturers themselves admit that they have almost overtaken the Australian consumption; and, that being so, why should the duty be increased with the inevitable result of adding . to the price?
– Was the price of blue increased when the Tasmanian Government imposed a duty of- 2d. per lb. ?
– Not a lb. of blue has ever been manufactured in Tasmania ; so that, if the duty had been 2s., the onlyresult could have been an increased price. And I hope that the people of Tasmania will find better employment than making blue. I do not desire to see any branch establishment of Messrs. Harper and Sons or Messrs. Lewis and Whitty in that State. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 36 id. per lb.
– I challenge the suggestion that the consumer has had to pay more for blue by reason of the imposition of the duty. Prior to Federation, in four of the States, the duty was 2d. per lb., while in Western Australia it was 15 per cent. In Canada it is something like 25 per cent.
– That is no argument unless those States manufactured blue..
– If we are to be guided by the previous Tariffs of the States, we have the fact that in four of the States the duty was 2d.
– It was not a protective duty.
– It was distinctly protective in Victoria, where the people felt that it was well justified. We have had established in our midst a large, number of excellent factories, now engaged in the manufacture of blue; and I ask honorable senators whether there is any reason why
Ave should not manufacture every ounce, we require? . This is not an industry that involves any great skill, but one to which our own people can rapidly adapt themselves ; and if, after investigation, the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission felt that in the interests of the industry it was desirable to increase the duty to 2d., need we hesitate to adopt their recommendation?
-Colonel GOULD (New South Wales) [8.38]. - I have not previously spoken on the Tariff, and this is an opportunity - to say a few words in regard to the attitude I intend to adopt, not only in regard to blue but in regard to many other items. I shall take no step that will mean an increase of taxation on the people of the country in regard to any imports.
During the Commonwealth elections, at any rate in New South Wales, the question before the people was clearly and unmistakably that of Socialism versus antiSocialism, and not that of protection versus free-trade. A great number of the successful candidates declared that they were prepared to leave the Tariff as it then was, except in so far as it was necessary to rectify anomalies; and that was the position that I and some of my colleagues took up.
– That was in New South Wales.
– And in South Australia.
– As Senator Symon says, that was the position in South Australia, and, I think, also in Queensland ; and the representation, which resulted from the elections, speaks for itself. The attitude I take in regard to this Tariff is dictated by my election pledges. In regard to blue, we are told that the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission recommended that it was’ necessary that the duty should be increased ; and, therefore, the Vice-President of the Executive Council proposes to increase it accordingly. Of course, the Vice-President of the Executive Council is quite justified, as a protectionist, in taking that step; but I ask whether the facts show any necessity for an increase? We are told that before the Federal Tariff of 1902 the duty was 2d. in a majority of the States.
– The duty was 2d. in New Zealand also.
.- I will admit that, but it does not touch the present argument. In 1901 the duty was reduced to id. ; and I ask my protectionist friends whether they can show that the local production of blue fell, off in consequence of that reduction? If they cannot, is there not abundance of evidence that the reduction did not interfere with an industry that had prospered fairly well in certain States? The figures show that at present scarcely any blue is introduced from abroad; and it is apparent that, so far as preventing importation is concerned, there is no justification for an increased duty. The Vice-President of the Executive Council goes further and says that an increase in the duty will not cause any increase in the price charged to the consumer.
– That is in consequence of the large number of factories, and internal competition.
.- If that be so, cui bono ? What is the use of in creasing the duty by a penny, if it will not increase the price, and enable the manufacturer to pay better wages? If the duty will not increase the price, why not make this duty 2s. or 3s. ? In any case, only about 100 tons of. blue can be affected by increased protection; and I ask whether that would make any great addition to the profits of the manufacturer ? Directly this Tariff was introduced in another place, every storekeeper put up the price of his goods to a corresponding extent.
– For a very little time; prices are down again.
– And prices were increased in regard to many, articles which were not affected by the Tariff; and those prices have not been re-, duced.
– Yes, they have.
– If we place duties on importations, will not the local manufacturers make the highest profits they can under the circumstances? Do not we know that wherever duties are imposed prices are increased by the local manufacturers? Honorable senators maycontend that if prices are increased better wages will be paid to workmen who are now insufficiently remunerated; tut the history of the Commonwealth shows that manufacturers are not inclined to increase, wages very largely, except under compulsion.
– So far as wages are concerned, we can regulate our own factories, but we cannot regulate those of other countries.
.- If we can regulate wages, and those now paid are not. fair and reasonable, we should do what is possible to increase them, and, having done so, we could, if necessary, impose higher duties to enable our manufacturers to obtain adequate prices for their commodities. The imposition of duties must mean the increase of prices to consumers, for’ a very long period, if not for all time to come. It may, of course, happen, where a manufacturer’s output is doubled, that he can make larger profits without increasing his prices, but I ask whether the manufacture of another 100 tons of blue throughout the Commonwealth will create such an enlargement of output as to materially affect the profits of the industry. In my opinion, it would be unreasonable to think so. My attitude on this item will be adhered to in regard to all proposed increases, unless it can be shown that they are necessary to rectify anomalies, or special circumstances exist which justify a departure from the principles which I have laid down.
– Senator Gould seems to have overlooked an argument presented by the VicePresident of the Executive Council in moving the second reading of the Bill. Senator Best then pointed out that certain industries are so clearly Australian that it would be right to impose very high duties to secure to our manufacturers the Australian market. It seems to me that the item affects such an industry.
– On what grounds?
– On the ground that we can make blue of any quality that is required, the price being, not increased, but reduced by the keen local competition.
– Australian blue is worth about5d. per lb. less than imported blue.
– Although Senator Gould spoke of 100 tons of blue as a very small quantity, it is probably not small compared with the total consumption.
– What is the total consumption ?
– I do not know; but the ordinary laundrywoman does not use many knobs of blue in a week. It must not be forgotten that the Tariff has been framed to increase the employment available to Australians, and although the additional employment given by the manufacture of an extra 100 tons of blue may not be large, the aggregate additional employment given in connexion with all the items of the Tariff will be very considerable.
– At 6d. per lb., 100 tons of blue is worth £5,600.
– Probably the manufacture of 100 tons of blue would give a good deal’ of employment. If it gives employment to only a score, it will do some good.
– To give employment to that score, hundreds of unfortunate washerwomen must be sweated.
– The duty is virtually a tax on cleanliness.
– If it could be proved that the effect of the duty would be to injure the consumers of blue, that would be an argument against its imposition. I maintain that the probabilities are that 100 tons of blue is not an inconsiderable quantity, and, even though considered by itself it may not be much, taken in connexion with the other items of the Tariff, it is of importance in increasing the employment of our population.
– No matter how nearly unanimous the Committee may be in any expression of opinion, honorable senators who dilferfrom the majority, or who were not present when an opinion was expressed, are not bound by it. I would point out, however, that we began these debates by deprecating abstract argument. It was accepted by both sides, though not perhaps unanimously, that Australia is committed to the policy of protection.
Honorable Senators. - No.
– Of course, my statement does not include honorable Sena- tor’s who were absent. I do not include Senators Symon, Clemons, and Gray, for example. But there was a consensus of opinion in the direction I speak of.
– . I protested against such a view. . . .
– I ask the honorable senator to confine himself to the item.
– The year before last the importation of blue was considerable, although it has been demonstrated that blue can be, and is, produced in Australia. I differ from those who say that the effect of the duty has been to increase the price of this article. The difference between certain honorable senators on the abstract question of free-trade or protection will never be settled, and therefore I think that we shall be wasting time if we discuss it. I hope that Ministers will see their way to accept the proposal that the duty against Great Britain be11/2d., an increase of 50 per cent. on the old rate.
– The honorable senator must not discuss a proposal which is not before the Committee.
– When the Tariff Commission was taking evidence, only one manufacturer of blue came before it. He was a representative of Messrs. Lewis and Whitty, and was the only person in Australia who thought that he had a grievance because the duty on blue was1d. per lb. This man, who, I’ suppose, considers himself one of the largest manufacturers of blue in Australia, told the Commission that he employed only twenty adult hands ill itsmanufac- ture Is it worth while to even run the risk of increasing the price of blue to .benefit such a- small industry?
– Surely the employment of another twenty hands would be a good thing.
– We are not dealing with an important industry, giving a tremendous amount of employment, but with an industry in which the largest manufacturer employs only twenty adults. To double the duty for the benefit of such an industry must seem, even to protectionists, a mad proposition.
– Half of “the honorable senator’s colleagues on the Tariff Commission recommended the proposed rate.
– I am not responsible for that. I leave the members of the protectionist section of the Commission to speak for themselves. In these matters the cost of labour is always very relevant, and this particular manufacturer stated that only one-third of the cost of making blue is represented by the wages paid for labour. No doubt in that statement he exaggerated, the probability being that the wages paid for labour do not represent one-third of the cost of the article.
– Did not the same witness state elsewhere that 75 per cent, of the cost was represented by the value of the raw material ?
– Yes ; but he exaggerated slightly. I venture to assure the Committee, without the slightest hesitation, that there is not 30 per cent, of the cost represented by wages.
– What other industry pays more than 30 per cent, in wages?
– There are not many industries which do, but there are some.
– That is about a reasonable average.
– I think I know a little more about that matter than does the honorable senator.
– I do not think so.
– At any rate, I assert that 30 per cent, is more than the average cost, though in some cases it exceeds that percentage. The question at the present time is to what extent by the duty are we going to compensate the manufacturer for the extra cost in labour? I have always considered that even protectionists recognise that as the salient feature in their doctrine ; if they do not, they ought to do so.
– What protectionists want is the work. They do net expect the price to be enhanced, but to be reduced, and usually it is reduced.
– Protectionists have to admit that the labour cost of an article is higher, because they desire the manufacturers to pay better wages than are paid elsewhere - and that is what I should prefer to hear them say - or they have to admit what I should be sorry to’ hoar any one say, and that is that Australian labour is more inefficient than other labour. There is no reason why any given article should not’ be produced at the same rate in Australia as it is produced in any country, unless our manufacturers pav higher wages.
– The honorable senator should not enter into a discussion on the general question.
– I have instanced that fact, sir, because it is mentioned in the report that this Melbourne manufacturer stated that the labour cost was onethird. I regard his statement as extremely vital to the consideration of the duty- on this item.
– I am not objecting to the honorable senator dealing with that matter, but pointing out that he should not enter into an argument on the general question.
– With regard to the item of blue., every protectionist has to admit either that he desires the men who are working in the industry to receive a higher rate of wages than is paid to such workers elsewhere, or that the local manufacturer cannot compete with the rest or the world because the ‘ workers are “ inefficient, or, if there is a third alternative, because he has not proper machinery or sufficient administrative capacity. Which of these alternatives does any protectionist here propose to adopt?
– Not one of them.
– There is only one which he can with any decency adopt when it comes to a question of securing to the workmen in an industry a proper rate of wages, and that is to give fair and ample consideration to the rate of duty. In the Commonwealth there are many free-traders who are prepared to adhere to that view. If we apply that criterion to the blue industry, a duty of id. per lb. is much more than ample to cover all the difference in wages. If protectionists want to cover anything else with regard to the blue industry, what is it? Is it desired to cover inefficiency, or maladministration, or lack of initiative on the part of the manufacturers, or to add to their profits ? In this case, I can come to only one conclusion, and that is that a, duty of id. per lb. is far more than ample to cover all the difference in wages. It is sufficient to enable the manufacturers togive to every workman a fair and reasonable rate of wages. And if the duty is increased, my honorable friends will simply swell the ‘profit’s of the manufacturers and increase the cost to the consumers.
– So far as the Tariff is concerned, I have set myself a guiding rule, and that is to vote for effective protection wherever I see the slightest chance of an article being made in Australia. On the question of the duty on blue, I have listened with great interest to the argument of Senator Clemons. While he was very assiduous in proclaiming that only one manufacturer who gave evidence before the Tariff Commission had a grievance and desired the duty to be increased from id. to 2d. per lb., he did not mention that there was only one witness on the other side.
– It is a wonder that there was even one.
– Why did not the honorable senator put the two facts before the Committee?
– Consumers were not represented before the Commission.
– While the honorable senator laid particular stress upon the fact that only one manufacturer desired the duty to be increased to 2d. per lb., he did not mention that in the succeeding paragraph the report stated that a manufacturer’s agent had submitted that if the duty were raised the industry might suffer.
– He was the agent of an importer.
– Still, his evidence is quoted in the report, and I expected that the honorable senator, as a member of the Tariff Commission, would mention his side of the question.
– He complained that the duty was too high.
– It is mentioned in the paragraph that most, if not the whole, of the imported blue is made by cheap labour.
– Colman and Sons do not employ cheap labour.
– According to the paragraph -
There was a difference of nearly 100 per cent, between the foreign and Australian labour cost of manufacture, and in oversea countries the raw material could ,be produced very much more cheaply.
– Who said that ?
– That is the statement of the manufacturer whom Senator Clemons has just quoted, and that is the reason why I intend to vote for a duty of 2d. per lb. It is not -very long since I left the Old Land,, and I know that almost invariably the conditions of employment are very much worse there than in Australia. The labour is cheaper, and in many industries the conditions are intolerable.
– Nothing of the kind.
– I can adduce proof of that statement. A great deal of anxiety has been expressed on account of the washerwoman. The quantity of blue which is used in a household is almost infinitesimal. A knob of blue will last the washerwoman for a considerable time, and I think that she has only been trotted out by the free-traders in order to play upon the sentiment of the people. Another argument which has been advanced against the proposed increase of the duty is the fact that only twenty adults, are employed in the industry in Melbourne.
– That statement is not correct. That is the number of adults employed by one firm.
– I care not if there were only ten adults employed in the industry. So long as they are employed I intend to protect them, with the view to ten more being employed. I think that 2d. per lb. is not a prohibitive duty, but simply effective protection, which I intend to support.
– The protectionist members of the Tariff Commission dealt with this item in the same manner as they dealt with . a number of other items. They considered that the blue industry was. one which) ought to be developed to the fullest extent, that Australia was capable of turning out all the blue which was required by its people, and that, consequently, the protection granted should be of a substantial character.
– Why not prohibit the importation if the honorable senator is so certain that we make in the country all the blue that is required?
– Why suggest that we should do certain things which Senator Clemons certainly would not assist us to do?
– I would sooner have prohibition than a duty of 2d.
– The argument of honorable senators opposite is that as only a few people are employed in this industry it is not worth considering. But I say that if only one man is employed the industry has as much right to be considered as one which employs 10,000.
– Tax the whole community for one man?
– I deny that there is any taxing of the whole community. Originally blue was exclusively imported, and then it was dearer than it is now. The competition established in Australia had the effect of reducingthe price. That is the very reason why I believe that the duty of 2d. per lb. should be retained. That duty is imposed so that the manufacturer may be protected, not altogether from the cheap labour and adverse conditions existing in other parts of the world, but from what is generally known as unfair trade.
– What was unfair in the opinion of this man Lewis was that New South Wales people were sending blue into Victoria; that was his trouble.
– I am not taking into consideration altogether what Mr. Lewis said. He, like many other witnesses who appeared before the Tariff Commission, was a simple man who knew his own business well and knew very little aboutanything else. We found that many witnesses, when they were taken beyond the scope of their own business and began to talk about fiscal matters generally, knew nothing about them. But nevertheless they gave their evidence fairly. I believe that Mr. Lewis was a fair witness. When the protectionist section of the Commission came to the conclusion that a duty of 2d. was necessary they believed that it would not increase the price to the consumer, but that it would be, a protection to the manufacturer against unfair trade, which is of far more importance in many instances as an element of competition than are the wages and conditions prevailing in competing; countries.
– What was the particular form of unfair trade in this case?
– Not many hours ago an honorable senator opposite said that a certain manufacturer in Victoria dumped his goods into Tasmania, where they were largely bought by an enterprising individual, sent back to Victoria, and sold for less than the price for which the manufacturer originally sold them, the purchaser making a profit on the goods.
– Could that possibly be done in regard to blue?
– Most decidedly it could be done with blue just as easily as with biscuits or anything else. Another consideration is that the mere value of the article manufactured is not the whole consideration. If the washerwoman could go to the factory where the blue is manufactured with a bag, a box, or a coal scuttle, and take a shovel full of blue away with her, the value of it would be very small. But blue has to be packed in certain forms and labelled in a certain manner for distribution throughout the Commonwealth. It is this system of distribution which makes it necessary that some consideration should be given to those who are engaged in the industry. When we consider not only those who are actually engaged in the manufacture of blue but those employed in printing the labels, packing and distributing, we must certainly recognise that a great deal more labour is involved than appears from the evidence of Mr. Lewis. He stated that he employed about twenty hands in making blue. I know, as a member of the Commission, that he was very hard pressed to make a distinct statement with respect to the actual number of hands employed. The number twenty was merely his estimate.
– Does the honorable senator think that Mr. Lewis underestimated the hands employed?
– I do not know But at all events the figure could only be an estimate, because many of the hands employed by Mr. Lewis are engaged in various industries in the same factory. But whether the estimate exaggerated the employment or not honorable senators cannot but recognise, if they look at the question seriously and honestly, that twenty would be a very small proportion of the actual number employed in Australia from the time the blue entered into its manufacturing stage until it came into the hands of the washerwoman whom Senator Neild is so anxious to assist. When we consider the matter in that light we shall agree that the duty proposed is not unreasonable.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [9.18]. - I think . it probable that a considerable number of honorable senators have been much interested in listening to the clamourous demand for protection for an industry more approximating to a monopoly than perhaps any other which is to be found in Australia. For the sake of a very small number of mem, women, and children - twenty at the outside - employed in making blue, the honorable senator who has just addressed the Committee clamours for an impost upon thousands of honest and hardworking, and probably very poor women, many of them seeking to support the little ones around them. It is of no use for Senator McGregor to try to get away from the simple fact that I am stating. It is absolutely outside the limits of contradiction that a very large number of those engaged in laundry work are widows and poor women endeavouring to support not only children, but in the latter case, sometimes sick husbands.
– Hear, hear ; hence the reason for giving them cheap blue.
– No doubt Senator Trenwith thinks that he has struck a very rich patch of sarcasm and humour combined; but the honorable senator should allow his mind to range over other items in the Tariff, which we have not yet reached. We have been told tonight that this is only a partial charge, and the extra expense to which the washerwoman is put in connexion with blue is a subject of jocularity. The same unfortunate under this tariff is penalized in respect of a number of other’ items. The duties on blue, starch, soap, clothes-pegs, clothes-lines, mangles, washing machines, and washing boards, all press heavily upon her. The champions of labour - who are not champions of labour - occupy tonight the unpleasant position of champions ofa monopoly for one or two manufacturers. I doubt whether there is one other class of labour in the community that is hit so. hard under the Tariff. as is the class on whom this duty presses.
– Some washerwomen have been able, as the result of the duties, to leave the wash-tub - their sons have obtained employment.
– The Government might well consider that statement, just as it certainly ought to consider the assertions made to-night with reference to the biscuit trade. In stating that by reason of the increased duty on blue, sons of washerwomen have obtained work that they could never obtain before, Senator Trenwith is asking me to believe something which, in his sober moments, he would not ask me to accept. I know that he believes that his statement is true; he is supporting the Government proposal, and believes anything and everything that will assist, in his estimate, to back it up. I have made up my mind in dealing with the items in the schedule, which are really’ matters of detail and not of principle, to be as brief as possible, and I am not going to lengthen my remarks on this question. I most sincerely hope not only that the general Tariff willbe reduced, but that if there is any reality in the principle of preference the duty on blue imported from Great Britain will also be reduced.
– It is a rather forlorn cause that has to depend on the woes of the poor washerwoman or the poor widow.
SenatorMillen. - The honorable senator was rather pathetic on sago.
– The records will prove that when that item was before us I did not take refuge in the woes or misfortunes of the washerwoman or the widow. According to some honorable senators, our duty is to deal only, with anomalies, but Senator Neild has madea proposal thatwould give rise to the greatest anomaly of all ; I refer to the proposal that the poor washerwoman should bear the whole burden of this tax without passing on any portion of it. It is a recognised tenet of the doctrine of free-trade that every duty is, as a rule, passed on to the consumer. That being so, I do not understand why the duty on blue is to stop short at the poor washerwoman - why she in contradistinction to all others is to bear the whole burden.
– The honorable senator urges that the importer pavs the duty ; but he did not say that that was the position in respect of the duty on tapioca.
– I dealt from a protectionist stand-point with the duty on tapioca, and referred to the remote possibility of the industry being established here. In this case, however, the industry of manufacturing blue has been started in the Commonwealth, and we have it on the authority of a witness before the Tariff Commission that but for the imposition of a duty it would not be a live industry in New South Wales to-day.
– Nothing of the sort was stated before the Commission.
– According to the evidence of Mr. Shrimpton, a witness for whom I believe Senator Clemons has the utmost respect-
– I have not said anything about him ; I have not quoted him.
– The honorable senator referred favorably to him.
– No, Senator Needham did so.
– On the authority, of a witness whom, I think, I am still justified in saying Senator Clemons regards with respect, the blue-making industry was started in New South Wales solely as the result of the imposition of a duty of id. per lb. under the Federal Tariff.
– If such a statement were made, it was untrue… The industry was established long before the Commonwealth.
– The industry was. established in New South Wales as the result of the duty under the first Federal Tariff, and entered into competition with the industry in this State. On the authority of the witness to whom I have referred, the necessary result is that the price of blue in Victoria has been considerably reduced. The average price of blue of British manufacture is something like 3 old. per lb., whereas that of the locallyproduced article is about 7d. per lb. I am still referring to the evidence of the only authority who, according to the freetrade section, is worth quoting. In the first place, the industry was started under the shelter of a duty of id. per lb.-
– I assure the honorable senator that that is not so.
– Then much of the evidence given before the Commission and the conclusions arrived at and embodied in its voluminous report are absolutely valueless.
– But Mr. Shrimpton did net say what is attributed to him.
– Assuming that they are valueless, we still have the concrete fact that 100 tons of blue were imported last year. I am not content with a condition of affairs that permits of the importation of such a vast quantity.
– A vast quantity?
– It is certainly vast, having regard to the infinitesimally small quantity used in every household. We have it- demonstrated that the blue industry has been established in Australia and is carried on under tolerably fair conditions; but since 100 tons were imported last year, it cannot be said that w-e have effective protection. That being so, I am going to vote for an increased duty that will insure the local manufacture of all the blue that is required for Australian consumption.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [9.30]. - I wish to say. a word or two in reference to the remarks made bv some honorable senators, and to direct attention to a point to which I think attention has not already been directed. In the first place, apart from the general prin-ciplesto which I have alluded with respect - to taxes on food, 1 entirely agree with those which have been so effectively announced by Senator Gould, and take leave - to utterly deny that we have any mandate from the people of Australia as a whole in favour of a protective Tariff.
– We have had two or three divisions which contradict that.
– We may have more of such divisions’. As Senator Gould pointed out, we had ari outcry about ruined industries, and anomalies in the Tariff.
– Because of which the Government of which the honorable senator was a member appointed a Commission.
– If Senator Guthrie will be a little patient, I shall state exactly what’ took place. We had an utterly hollow and pretentious cry about ruined industries, and another cry, which was more or less well founded, about anomalies in the Tariff. In order that an opportunity should be given to investigate that matter, and not for the purpose, as has been suggested, of inquiring into any alleged general discontent in Australia with the Tariff as it existed, or promoting increased oppressive protection, a Tariff Commission was appointed by the Government of which I was a member.
– You cannot oppress by protection.
– You do nothing else. I am afraid ‘that if my honorable friend makes that contention it will lead to a general discussion, in which I have no desire to take part.
– I ask the honorable senator not to pursue the line of argument he is now adopting.
– I am stating the principles to which I adhere, and denying, as I have a right to do, the accuracy of the suggestion made by Sena-, tor Mulcahy that we are here in obedience to a demand from the people of Australia to vote for protective duties.
– I asked Senator Mulcahy not to pursue that line of argument, and he desisted.
– Of course, I shall not argue the case of freetrade versus protection, but. I wish to say that I am here untrammelled, and prepared, as I told my constituents who elected me at the head of the poll for South Australia, only to assist in correcting anomalies which can’ be shown to exist in the Tariff, and that cause distress to the persons affected by them,. That is the attitude I take up, and it is identical with that announced by Senator Gould. In addition, I say that I shall resist to the utmost of my strength the imposition of duties upon food. In regard to this particular item other considerations demand attention. Senator Lynch has said that it is a free-trade tenet that duties are passed on ; but there is a limit to the passing on of duties. ‘
– It stops at the washerwoman in this case.
– That is so,’ because, as the honorable senator has said, and he is more of an expert in the matter than I can profess to foe, there is only an infinitesimal quantity of blue used for each shirt, and a single knob of blue will last an indefinite time. In these circumstances, though I make no appeal on her behalf any more than on behalf of any one else, it is. clear that the entire incidence of this tax falls upon the washerwoman. I agree with Senator Clemons that protectionists now assent to the contention that these taxes increase the price of the commodity to the consumer. Those who advocate the new protection- and I think rightly from one point of view, though I do not commit myself finally on the point - rest their advocacy on the fact that the profits of the manufacturer are increased by means of protective duties, and that the workers in the industry have, therefore, a right to share in them. On that point, it is unnecessary to say anything further than that those who advocate the new protection, equally with those who entertain the fiscal views which I and some of my friends on this side of the Chamber ho!d, agree that that is the result. The next point clearly made out is that the duty of id. hitherto existing has led to the successful establishment of the industry in Australia. It is not merely established ; it is also a thriving industry. The figures quoted by Senator Chataway show that the imports from England have fallen off to the extent of 50 per cent. From that fact we may infer, as Senator Chataway evidently intended, that the industry has been sufficiently established here under a duty of id. per lb., and, therefore, by increasing the duty to 2d. per lb. we shall either be imposing an unfair and cruel tax upon those whose livelihood depends in part upon the use of this article, or we shall be prohibiting importations from a country whose trade we profess a desire to encourage. We profess to be anxious to encourage trade with England.
– We are anxious, first of all, to do something for ourselves.
– I will put it in that way. We are anxious, next, to encourage trade with England. That is the one country with whose people we wish to establish amicable and prosperous trade relations, and we are ready to make sacrifices in order to do so. That is what we are told.
– We do not propose to make sacrifices, but to give concessions.
– We have ‘said nothing about sacrifices.
– Then honorable senators do not propose to make any sacrifices, and to make a gift to the United Kingdom only where it does not cost anything.
– Only when we can do so without hurting ourselves.
– As in. the case of the proposed preference of Jd. per lb. on biscuits.
– And, as manufacturers in the United Kingdom might send us blue under a duty of id. per lb., it isproposed to increase the duty to 2d. per lb.
– Senator Clemons reminds me that, as it is possible manufacturers in the United King- ‘ dom might send, us blue under a duty of id. per lb., we propose to put the duty upto 2d., in order to show some consideration for our brothers in the Old Country,, who are of the same blood and speak the same language as ourselves. Senator
Chataway informed the Committee that in 1906 we imported from the United Kingdom 237,008 lbs. of blue, valued at £5,483, and I say that if we intend to make any reduction in this duty we should do so directly and honestly, as Senator Clemons has suggested. It would be a pretence and a sham to make the reduction as a concession to the United Kingdom and as an encouragement to her trade, when she already has the whole of it. The total importations from other countries for 1906 represented a value of only £10 as against importations from the United Kingdom valued at £5,483. Practically the whole import of blue is from the United Kingdom, and I say, therefore, that if we intend to reduce this duty we should request the House of Representatives to make the duty what it was before, giving the industry ‘ in Australia the same measure of protection as that under which it has been successfully established. I shall, therefare, be found supporting the request moved by Senator Clemons, to make the duty on this article1d. per lib., as it was before.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on “ Blue, Laundry,”1d. per lb. (Senator Clemons’ request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 13
Question so resolved in the negative.
– An intimation has been given by Senator Chataway of his intention to move that the duty in the second column of the schedule should be fixed at11/2d. But, in view of the fact that practically the whole of our importations of blue come from the United Kingdom - £10 worth representing those from other parts of the world - I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 3611/2d. per lb.
It seems to me the acme of absurdity to extend a preference to Great Britain in the matter of blue, seeing that the total value of the trade to which any preference would give her access is £10. Obviously, the simplest and best course is to impose a uniform duty of11/2d.
– The honorable senator is assuming that no other country will ever enter into the industry.
– We have to accept the figures in regard to this trade as they stand.
– I am aware of the intention of Senator Chataway to move that the duty in the second column of the schedule shall be fixed at11/2d. If it is the will of the Committee that the duty upon blue be reduced, I should infinitely prefer the reduction to be brought about in the way suggested by him. Senator Clemons - as has been pointed out by Senator McGregor - has dealt only with the present importations of blue into the Commonwealth. These undoubtedly come from the United Kingdom. But if any reduction is to be made in the rate of duty, the United Kingdom should at least be protected against the contingency of dumping on the part of the Continent. I do not disguise the fact that the first desire of the Government is to protect our industries against the world, the United Kingdom included. But if we are to trade with other communities in connexion with our leading lines of industry, we desire that that trade shall be with the United Kingdom.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on “ Blue, Laundry,”11/2d. per lb. - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 10
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 36 (imports from the United Kingdom),11/2d. per lb.
To show that the industry is really fairly on its feet, and that the loss of1/2d. per lb. would not be a serious matter, I should like to add that last year we exported 71/2 tons of blue. Although tons of that was evidently imported to send away again, 4 tons of it was the Australian product. It has been said that a United Kingdom duty of11/2d., seeing that nearly the whole of the imports come from that country, would be in the nature of a farce. Some honorable senators may consider the whole idea of preference within the Empire or towards the Old Country a farce, but I do not, and I am only sorry that the Tariff is not framed, like that of Canada, with a distinct percentage with regard to the United Kingdom all through. Seeing that that has not been done, I prefer, wherever I can obtain a decrease of duty, to have that decrease put in the United Kingdom column, so that the Old Country may get the benefit of it.
– - I acknowledge the fairness with which the position has been put by Senator Chataway. But at the same time, as I intimated at the outset, the policy of the Government is to go for protection every time against every country, so far as our industries need it. We have come to the conclusion that this industry does require additional protection, and in thesecircumstances I think, especially having regard to the recommendation of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission, that the Committee would be well advised to maintain the duty as proposed by the Government.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [9.56]. - Many honorable senators must have listened with astonishment to the declaration that has just fallen from the lips of the Vice-President of the Executive Council. We have had columns, nay pages,’ of the press of Australia and England filled with assertions about Australia holding out the hand of friendship, and the helping hand, tothe struggling industries of the Old Country. I am not sure that we have not been likened to the dove carrying an olive branch. I think the Prime Minister was depicted as the dove out of the ark of Australia carrying the olive branch of preference to the benighted land on the other side of the sea. Now, after all these professions of enduring affection and every kind of goodwill, the Minister stands up here, and says that the policy of the Government is not preference to. England at all, but red-hot protection - thenearest possible thing to prohibition that he and his astute colleagues can devise. If a Minister’s declaration amounts to anything, the declaration of the Vice-President of the Executive Council to-night is a formal Ministerial assertion that there is not one iota of reality in the Government’s assertion of preference, and that after all we come back to the bed-rock of solid Victorian protection, now extended to all parts of the Commonwealth, as the Minister says, against the world. I think the honorable senator has made an utterance to-night which, when he is a few days older, and has had an opportunity of seeing what other people think and say about it, will cause him a spasm of regret.
– I hope the Committee will allow this item to pass as it stands. When the matter was being discussed by the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission, the only competitor with Australia that was considered was Great Britain. If they thought that 2d. was necessary under those circumstances, then I think that 2d. should remain against the whole world.
– And the figures show that Great Britain is the only competitor.
– Yes. This is an industry where preference to Great Britain would be of very little value, but There are some large items in the Tariff in regard to which I have no doubt that it can be shown that a substantial benefit can be given to Great Britain. We should therefore not waste time in trifling with a small item like this, when it has been clearly shown that 2d. is necessary even against Great Britain. If honorable senators opposite had really wished to give a preference, they could have made the duty higher against other parts of the world.
– We can all frankly admit that the preference on this item exists only in name. I agree with Senator Chataway that if would have been better to adopt some general principle in regard to preference as applied to all the items ; but I am not going to vote for this amendment. The question before us is whether a duty of i1/2d. per lb. is sufficient to give Australia a fair and reasonable protection in the manufacture of blue; and the figures show that the importations, with a duty of1d., amounted to a little over 100 tons. That, to some honorable senators, appears a small quantity, while others regard it as considerable. But it must be borne in mind that a duty of11/2d. represents an increase of 50 per cent. on the previous duty, and that, therefore, a considerable advantage is given to an industry which was fairly prosperous with a duty of1d. The Vice-President of the. Executive Council, as leader of the Senate, has, of course, to support the Tariff as nearly as possible in its present shape, but I hope he will not adhere to it too strictly in regard to the present item.
– It is a very strange kind of preference that is proposed. Last year, when there was a duty of1d. per lb., Great Britain managed to send us £5,000 worth of blue, and now, in order to show the Old Country a preference, we are asked to make the duty11/2d. Personally, I find myself in a difficult position. So far as the proposal represents preference, I should not dream of voting for it, but. as it represents some sort of relief to the Australian taxpayer, I feel compelled to support it. My one object is to reduce the burden of taxation, and, if I cannot reduce it all round, I may find myself occasionally obliged to lend myself to an absolute farce in order to do something small, but real, for the Australian consumer.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
Item 37. Broom Corn Millet and Rice Straw, per cental, 4s.
– Perhaps the Vice-President of the Executive Council will tell us something about this item. The information we have is that the whole of the importation for one year was 61 centals, valued at £50, on which the duty paid was £13; and yet we are asked to impose a duty of 4s. per cental. Is the duty ornamental? It cannot be useful. Does it represent protection, or is it an attempt to get rid of it ?
– What evidence was there on this item before the Tariff Commission?
– I do not remember any evidence on the item. No one alleges that any industry could be injured if this item were made free, and I shall certainly move in that direction. Any honorable senators who are revenue-Tariffists might safely forego the £13 received in duty. I move -
That the House of Representatives he requested to make item 37 free.
Why should we disfigure the Tariff with an item like this?
– The duty was recommended by the Tariff Commission.
– Neither section of the Commission considered the matter.
– The Commission decided to leave the duty as it stood. Is it worth while to occupy time in discussing the matter?
– In my opinion, the item is absolutely farcical.
– I do not think that the Government should be subjected to reproach because of this item, which was in the Tariff of 1902, and recommended by the Tariff Commission.
– It was also a continuation of a State duty.
– Yes. Millet is extensively grown in Australia, and the industry has hitherto been regarded as one which it is necessary to protect. In my opinion, it would be unwise to strike out the duty.
Item agreed to.
Item 38.Rice Root, per cental, 25.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make item 38 free.
Rice root was free under the old Tariff, and the Tariff Commission made no recommendation with regard to it. .
– What is rice root?
– I do not think that any honorable senator knows. The Ministry have not disclosed a reason for the proposed duty.
– Rice root is a commodity similar in appearance to broom millet, but somewhat finer in substance. It competes with millet in connexion with the making of whisks and fine brooms, and it is therefore recommended that the growing of millet be protected.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [10.15]. - This duty reduces the Tariff to a farce. It is proposed to levy a duty on an article which, so far as statistics show, has never been imported into the Commonwealth. We are. asked to put on a duty to keep out what has never come in.
.- The only reason given for the duty is that rice root may come into competition with millet, which is grown in small quantities in some parts of Australia.
– Millet is grown in large quantities.
– I cannot, as a protectionist, vote for a duty of this kind. If the growing of rice root were an Australian industry, I should not mind how high the duty was, because internal competition would eventually cheapen the price of the article ; but as it cannot be produced here, I think that it should be placed on the free list.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [10.18]. - If it is feared that rice root may enter into competition with millet, it is very strange that the duty on it is only 2S. per cental, while that on millet is 4s. per cental. If the Government wish to protect the growers of millet, they should move to increase the duty on rice root to 4s. per cental.
Request agreed, to.
Item 39. Butter and Cheese, per lb., 3d.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make item 39 free.
If Australia cannot supply its people with all the butter and cheese which they need, we deserve to suffer from importation. The duty is merely a farcical one. Under certain circumstances, and at certain seasons, the existence of a duty may lead to an increase in prices.
– This is merely a calamity duty.
– Yes, and under normal conditions will not operate. It is absurd to say that the makers of butter and cheese need protection.
– The industry has been built up in all the States by protection.
– What was the butter bonus system but protection?
– I do not think that it is for the honorable’ senator who comes from Victoria to draw particular attention to that.
– There was no more beneficent legislation in Victoria.
-It was beneficent legislation for the wrong people.
– It was beneficent for the producers.
– I am not concerned with that matter. If the Commonwealth wants protection against the importation of butter and cheese, it ought to have no industry. I object to taxing articles of food..
– I have not troubled the Committee to-day with a speech on any question, but I, as a farmers’ friend, cannot refrain from entering a protest against a request which is undoubtedly directed against the interests of the primary producers.. I contend that those on this side who say that the primary producers are being bled to support protected industries ought to -give the manufacturers of butter and cheese the benefit of protection when an opportunity is afforded. There is no reason why those who prefer cheese from
England or Scotland or other places should not pay a duty. I wish to protect the producers of those articles, and I hope that Senator Millen will command, if he possibly can, his followers to fall into the right line and do their duty in this instance. I have much pleasure in supporting the proposed duty.
– I hope that honorable senators will not close their eyes to the fact that in 1906 we imported 70,143 lbs. of butter, mostly from New Zealand, and 304,951lbs.of cheese, principally from the Netherlands.
– What quantity, did we export?
– I am very glad to say that we export these articles very largely, particularly butter. But that is apart from the issue. It is only right that luxurious persons should pay for indulging their tastes, if not idiosyncracies, as regards cheese. I submit that it is but a’ fair thing that we should have this duty available to provide for contingencies which, may happen.
– I am in the position of having to vote against this request in order to conform to my election pledges. I have already informed the Committee that, arising out of the appeal made by the party of which I am a member, and addressed to both free-traders and protectionists, I was elected on the understanding that we would not lay hostile hands upon the duties which then existed. The proposal before the Committee is to reduce the duty on butter and cheese. While I, as a free-trader, would welcome a reduction of the duty, still, in view of the pledge I gave to the electorswhen seeking their support, it is absolutely impossible for me to do anything else than to vote against a proposal to reduce any duty which stood in the old Tariff.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [10. 26]. - In accordance with the pledges I gave to my constituents it is my duty to vote against any item in the Tariff which imposes a tax on food, or imposes an unnecessary tax under colour of maintaining or protecting a local industry. For what purpose are we asked to put a duty on butter? The butter industry was encouraged, not by a duty, but by a bonus.
– By both.
– It was encouraged bya bonus, and a good deal of the money went undoubtedly into the wrong pockets. But the result of the bonus or duty, or both, has been that the industry in Australia has become an established factwhich can never be shaken. In 1906 we exported 75,765,536 lbs. of Australianmade butter to the value of . £3,238,304. Whether it existed in the old Tariff or not, it is farcical for us to sit here and impose a duty such as is proposed. Either it is perfectly nonsensical, and will be entirely inoperative, or it is simply kept in the Tariff when there is absolutely no colour or reason for its retention.
– It was recommended by both sections of the Tariff Commission.
– I do not care twopence if it was recommended by a hundred sections, it is an absurdity. . Senator Clemons. - We never considered it.
– On what possible principle are we going to act in dealing with these duties? Is this duty wanted for the purpose of encouraging the production of butter? Nobody can say that it is. Is it wanted for the purpose of maintaining the production of butter ? Nobody can say that it is, because we have the command of practically the English market. We know that owing to the quality of our butter we can compete with the finest Danish butter. I have no objection to some duty being imposed on cheese which may suit particular palates. Some persons may desire special French or Swiss cheeses. But when we are talking so much about preference, and encouraaing the unity of the Empire, would it not be a good thing for us to consider the question of preference nearer home? Should we not reflect for a moment that the greater proportion of our imported cheese comes from New Zealand? Why should we impose a duty to keep out New Zealand cheese, or a duty to such an extent as this? I notice that in 1906 we exported 246,631 lbs. of Australian-made cheese. The imports of cheese from New Zealand in 1906 were 51,205 lbs. Pretty well half the quantity imported came fromBritish Possessions. But we export nearly as much as we import. We export butter in millions of pounds weight, and over three millions and a quarter sterling in value annually. It is perfectly absurd to impose such a duty as this.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [10.32].- Putting what Senator Symon has said in a slightlydifferent form I submit that the orice ofbutterin
Australia is fixed by the price that Australiaobtains for the butter that she exports. We could just as well put a duty on wool as on butter, because the price of wool in London rules the price of wool in Australia precisely as the price of butter in London rules the price of butter out here. I should be glad if the two items, butter and cheese, could be dealt with separately, because we do import some cheese, whereas the butter imports amount practically to nothing. The duty on butter has positively no influence whatever on the price the people have to pay. But I suppose that like that blessed word “ Mesopotamia,” in the old story, the duty of 3d. has a soothing influence on the bucolic mind ; and if it gives them pleasure to see a duty of 3d. per- lb., I can see no harm in retaining it. When we come to deal with cheese, however, I trust that some honorable senator will propose a preference in. favour of the United Kingdom.
Request, by leave, withdrawn.-
Motion (by Senator Clemons) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 39 by making “Butter” free.
– I hope the Committee will- consider that during a period of temporary scarcity there seems to be a considerable quantity of imported butter from New Zealand. In 1906 the imports amounted to 70,143 lbs., of which quantity 49,686 lbs. came from New Zealand.
– I think the honorable senator. will find that those quantities were transhipments.
– Probably a great deal of the imported butter entering into our trade returns is ships’ stores. But at the same time I am not sure that we shall be doing right to the producers of butter in removing the duty. The question of the extent to which ships’ stores may account for these apparently large importations is rather important.
. -May I, by way of illustration, point out to the Committee that if there is the slightest fear that butter was imported for competitive purposes the same argument applies to wool. No one imagines that the Commonwealth imported raw wool for a serious purpose. But the statistics show that the Commonwealth is credited with having imported 211,000 lbs. ofwool. I think we may dismiss the question of butter being imported to compete with our own butter as being a foolish idea.
– The importations of butter from New Zealand in 1906 amounted to 49,686 lbs. If the duty were removed there is no doubt that there would be a considerable competition on the part of New Zealand. In justice to the. farmer, as Senator W. Russell has said, we should retain the duty.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 39 by making “ Butter “ free - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 22
Question so resolved in the negative.
Request (by Senator Colonel Neild) negatived -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 39 (imports from the United Kingdom), by- making the duty on Cheese, per lb.,21/2d.
Item agreed to.
Senate adjourned at 10.45 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 29 January 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1908/19080129_senate_3_43/>.