3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator Colonel NEILD presented a petition from the president and secretary of the Medical Institutes and Dispensaries Association of New South Wales, representing 25,000 members of friendly societies, or, in all, 100,000 persons resident in and around Sydney, praying the Senate to request substantial reductions in the duties on medicines.
Petition received and read.
Motion (by Senator Colonel Neild) proposed -
That the petition be printed.
– The question is not properly open for discussion now, because standing order92 says that no senator shall move that a petition be printed unless he intends to take action upon it, and informs the Senate thereof.
– Of course, I intend to take other action.
– The Government is not responsible for the statements which appear in the press.
– Is the VicePresident of the Executive Council in a position to assure the Senate that there is not, between the Treasurer and PostmasterGeneral, a serious conflict of opinion with reference to public funds?
– So far as the allegations are concerned, I have no official knowledge of them.
– Only a personal knowledge.
Delivery of Newspapers. - Undermanning
– On Fridaylast I asked a question relating to the late delivery of newspapers. Is the Minister representing the Postmaster-General now in aposition to answer it?
– I am informed by the Department of the Postmaster-General that the Sydney mail was late in arriving at Melbourne, on Thursday last.
The newspaper bags did not arrive at the General Post Office until 2.27 p.m. It was a very heavy day, and as the weekly newspapers are received and despatched on that day, the whole of the work was not got through in time for the letter carriers to deliver the newspapers by the last delivery.
Inquiries are being made as to the necessity for an increase in the staff in the mail branch.
It is frequently complained that newspapers are not delivered very expeditiously, and I would, therefore, point out that as there is paid on them a much lower rate of postage than is paid on letters, the Department naturally gives precedence to the latter. It sometimes happens when letters or newspapers arrive by the same mail that the letters are delivered in the afternoon and the newspapers not until the following morning, but, under the circumstances, it would not be reasonable to expect coincident delivery.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council promised last week to inquire what was being done inthe preparation of an analysis of the Customs revenue under the present Tariff.. If that analysis is being prepared, will he expedite the work, because, as the Tariff is slipping through Committee, the information will be useless to honorable senators unless it is forthcoming promptly.
– I didmake inquiries, and I found thatno such analysis is being prepared.
– I should like to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, whether, in view of the public announcement of the suspension of Sir James Laing and Sons, the Government are still hopeful of getting the £25,000 due to them under the mail contract made with that firm?
– The Government are not officially aware of the suspension referred to, and know nothing more than appears in the newspapers.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Home Affairs, without notice, whether the Government will lay on the table of the Senate the papers in connexion with the compulsory retirement of a postal official from the Claremont Road Board, by order of the Deputy Postmaster-General of the State?
– I have to ask the honorable senator to repeat his question to me at a later date - either to-morrow, or on the following day. In the meantime, I will make inquiries as to whether there is any reason why the papers should not be laid on the table.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing . the AttorneyGeneral,without notice, whether he is aware that the Victorian coal companies of Outtrim and Jumbunna are dismissing members of Victorian Coal Miners’ Association, which is registered under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, because they are members of such organization? Will the Minister call the attention of the AttorneyGeneral to the matter witha view of instituting a prosecution against the companies for violating one of the vital principles of the Act, which protects members of registered organizations from such dismissals ?
– I shall be happy to bring the matter referred to by the honorable senator under the notice of my colleague, the Attorney-General.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Home Affairs, without notice, whether he is aware that a Conference took place on the 30th January between masters and men engaged in such work as tunnelling, at which the following rates of wages were agreed upon : - Facemen, 8s.6d. per day ; truckers, 7s. 2d. per day ; sinkers, 8s. per day ; top men and others, 7s. 2d. per day ? Are the above rates of wages stipulated for as a minimum in the contracts for undergrounding the Melbourne telephone and telegraph wires?
– I am not aware of the arrangement to which the honorable senator refers in the first part of his question; and as to the second part, I am not in a position to say whether the rates that he has mentioned have been specified for the contracts. The Department in all its contracts arranges for a minimum rate of wage with respect to different classes of labour, but whether these particular classes of labour are included in the arrangement or not, I am not in a position to say. If, however, the honorable senator will give me an opportunity of replying to his questions at a later date, I shall obtain more definite information.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, . upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow -
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
What progress is being made with the preparations , to carry out the survey of the TransAustralia Railway ?
– In reply to the honorable senator’s question, I have to state -
It has been considered desirable to have the, advice of the Engineers-in-Chief for Railways of the several States as to the procedure to be followed. These officers meet in Melbourne today.
I may add to that answer that, ashonorable senators are doubtless aware, there was a Conference of Engineers-in-Chief in 1903 ; and the Government have asked the Engineers-in-Chief of the several States by consent of the States Governments to meet again for the purpose of advising the Government as to various matters, comprehending the most economical, effective, and advantageous means of expending the sum of money that has been authorized by Parliament. The Conference met this morning, and I believe the Engineers-in-Chief are now in deliberation. Their recommendations, we hope, will be submitted to the Government probably at the end of this week or the beginning of next. Not until those recommendations have been received will anything be done in relation to the organization of survey parties and the equipment of them. The Conference of the Engineers was considered to be a preliminary step that it was advisable to take.
– Arising out of the Minister’s answer, I wish to ask him whether the cost of the Conference will be paid out of the £20,000 voted by Parliament for the purposes of the survey?
– I donor think that the cost of the Conference will be very much. As to whether the expenses will be paid out of the , £20,000 voted for the purposes of the survey or from any other funds, I should not like to state offhand. Perhaps, if my honorable friend repeats his question, I shall be able to consult the Treasury officials and give him a definite reply.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The replies to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 7th February, vide page 7925) :
Division IV. Agricultural Products and Groceries.
Item 67. Hay and Chaff, per cwt., is.., and on and after 31st October, 1907, Free.
Upon which Senator W. Russell had moved -
That the House of Representatives be requested lo make the duty on item 67 is. per cwt.
– In submiting this request, Senator W. Russell said that he based his claim upon fairness and justice, and that he made it on. behalf of the primary producers of this country. I propose to examine the request, according to the very stand-point that the honorable senator set up. If i understood his argument rightly] it was this : that as we have given protection to manufacturers, it is a fair and reasonable thing to give it also to farmers.
– As ninety-nine out of every hundred producers have it, why not the farmers?
– If ninety-nine out of a hundred have it, why should not the one-hundredth also? I was very pleased to hear that statement, because it seems to me to be an admission that from my point of view is valuable. It amounts to this : that as ninety-nine out of one’ hundred, by means of protection, are able to raise prices, it is only a fair thing to put on duties which will enable the farmer to charge more for what he produces.’ That is practically an admission that protection raises prices. If that be so, I can quite understand my honorable friend’s argument that if we allow those engaged in ninety-nine industries to charge more than they could otherwise do, it is onlyfair that those engaged in the hundredth should be allowed to levy toll on the ninetynine. 1 am going to show by my vote that I believe what my honorable friend affirms - that protection does raise prices. He said that we had granted protection to a large number of manufacturers, and we should also extend it to farmers. But who has granted protection to the manufacturers? I certainly have not, and therefore while the honorable senator’s argument may be fairly and reasonably addressed to his protectionist friends, it does not apply to one who. like me, has from the first resisted attempts to impose these protectionist duties.
– The honorable senator has voted consistently for the’ duties which . prevailed under the first Federal Tariff, which was a fairly protective one.
– I have said before that- 1 shall not vote to lower any of the protectionist duties under the Tariff of
– This duty prevailed under that Tariff.
– But I deny that this is a protectionist item, and I am going to show that it is not. So far as I understand, the purpose of a protective duty is in the first place to stimulate production. We are also told that, having done that, it is designed to check the dumping of foreign products, to the disorganization .of the local market, and will likewise have the effect of reducing prices. If it can be shown that any one of those results will follow the imposition of this duty, I shall vote with Senator W. Russell. But his own argument proves conclusively that it will not have any one of these effects. If that be so, it is clearly a duty that cannot be advocated on the score of protection. Is it likely in any way to stimulate production? The only time when it becomes operative is when we are realizing what a drought is. If at that time we imposed a duty of £1 instead of is. per cwt. on hay and chaff, not an additional furrow would be turned, not an additional sheaf of hay would be reaped, nor would an additional bushel of corn find its way into the market. Then how can it be said that such a duty as this would stimu- late production?
– Would it bring down the rain ?
– Would it have the effect of causing a rainfall - of making the barren drought-stricken country more productive? Will even Senator Findley tell me that at such a time this duty would stimulate production ?
– The argument that it comes into operation only at a time of drought will, I think, be shown to be a bogy.
– - The statistics justify the statement that except” at a time of national calamity this duty has been practically a negligible quantity.
– When did we have a national calamity ? Fix the year.
– I am sorry to hear a representative of the people speaking in a way that suggests that we have never, in the matter of drought, suffered a national calamity. This duty can in no sense stimulate production, at the only time when it is operative. Then it is said that the object of an effective duty is to. prevent dumping. The only time when there could be any possibility of dumping - and in this sense it is an exaggerated term - is when there is no likelihood of the local market being disorganized ; when the price of fodder is increasing at such phenomenal rates that the man who has any to sell is making a fortune. I shall quote figures showing whether we wanted in time of drought what the rest of the world could send us.
– It will take the honorable senator all his time to prove that we did.
– I do not expect to satisfy Senator Lynch; it is sufficient that I should satisfy myself that there. is good reason for the vote I am going to cast. The third contention is that by stimulating production a protective duty reduces prices. Does any one pretend that this would have that effect - that when Australia is driven of necessity to import fodder the impositionof a protective duty upon it would reduce prices? I would remind Senator W”. Russell of the advice which he gave to some of his South Australian friends and constituents. It appears that when a bad time seemed to be looming up for New South Wales and portions of Queensland he advised them to increase their cultivated areas and to go in for the production of hay. He said in effect, “There is a bad time coming for your neighbours, therefore take my advice and cut your crops for hay.”
– “And be ready to help them.”
– “By putting yourselves in a position to charge j£i a ton more for your hay.”
– Would it not be as well for them, as for outsiders, to charge an additional £1 _ per ton for their hay ?
– I do not desire any one, either within or without the Commonwealth, to do so. This duty is put forward professedly for. the benefit of the primary producers; had Senator W. Russell said that it was designed to benefit a limited section of primary producers he would have been, on safe ground. It is asked for in order that one small section of primary producers may levy toll on the rest, that dog may eat dog, and that we may have a species, of fiscal cannibalism quite unworthy of the country. What is .asked is that the man who requires fodder in time of drought shall have toll levied upon him by others who have it for sale. ‘ It is to be remembered that the duty is not going to help the unfortunate section of the community at the expense of the fortunate. It will have the reverse effect. It is to be imposed to help those who in bounteous seasons have reaped rich crops to levy toll on those struggling for existence. 1 suppose that Senator W. Russell and most honorable senators have passed through droughtstricken country.
– And New South Wales, in that regard, is about as bad as any country I ever saw.
– In passing through drought-stricken country the honorable senator must have seen- hovering around the outskirts of the flocks fat glossy crows, adding still further to the losses of the stockowner. He is absolutely asking that a small section , of OU11 primary producers shall be allowed to occupy the same position; that, like well-fed crows, they shall be allowed to add- still further to the losses of the unfortunate stock-owners. I have endeavoured to show that whilst this duty, may be proposed on behalf of a section of the primary producers, it does not apply to the producers generally. My honorable friend, Senator W. Russell, will have seen in the press to-day a statement regarding the falling off in the raising of poultry as shown by the receipts at the cold-storage depots here. The reason given for this falling off is that the high price of food has minimized the operations of poultry raisers, and thus limited the supplies coming to hand. Here is a small but telling proof that whilst this duty may benefit a section of our primary producers, it is utterly wrong to urge that it should be insisted upon in the interests of that class as a whole. But I wish to view the matter from the stand-point of national expediency. I suppose that everybody will admit that the sheep of Australia represent no small part of the means of its wealth production. Senator Lynch just now scoffed at the idea that the Commonwealth had experienced anything in the nature of a national calamity, and he asked me to name the. years to which I referred.
– I scoffed at the idea that we had experienced anything in the nature of a national calamity in the sense that we required to obtain fodder from abroad.
– During the ten years ended1902 - I have selected this period for a reason which I shall mention later on - the loss of sheep in Queensland and New South Wales was 47,000,000. Was not that a “ national calamity “? At whatever figure we may estimate the value of those sheep, the national loss during that decade must have aggregated millions sterling.
– That loss was the result of overstocking.
– Does Senator Russellmean to tell me that when the sheep of Queensland declined to 7,000,000, that State was overstocked ? Is he acquainted with anything other than the little farms of South Australia, that he should talk like that? The idea of Queensland being overstocked with 7,000,000 of sheep ! Why, a single district in that State could carry that number of sheep without being over-stocked. I repeat that in Queensland the number of sheep declined from 21,000,000 to 7,000,000. In other words, two-thirds of the flocks there were absolutely wiped off the face of the earth. In New South Wales, the number diminished from 61,000,000 to 26,000,000 - a lower number than that State had possessed since 1884. I wish now to disabuse the minds of honorable senators of the idea that the posses sion of sheep is necessarily associated with big pastoralists.Half the flocks of New South Wales are owned by small holdersa fact which can be verified by reference to our stock reports.
– What does the honorable senator mean by “small” holders ?
– I mean holders of land carrying less than 5,000 sheep. I think itis fair to call these individuals small holders, seeing that in some places in New South Wales a man requires to possess 20,000 or 30,000 acres in order to obtain a livelihood. Senator Lynch has asked me to state when it was necessary for us to import fodder. Would he mind explaining why it was that in 1902-3, which was a year of drought, £597,719 was paid in duty upon imported fodder?
– We imported £10,000 worth of fodder that year.
– We paid nearly £600,000 by way of duty upon fodder during that financial year. What for? In order to bring in feed for which there was no demand - to fill the Treasury to overflowing, and to bring chaff and hay here for the purpose of looking at it ? The idea is too ridiculous. That fodder was not purchased abroad, and that amount of duty was not paid upon it, merely as a freak. Nobody knows better than does Senator Lynch that ordinary commercial instincts would restrain people from so acting, even if there were persons in the community who were able to throw away £600,000. The very fact that that amount was paid in duty is convincing proof,not only that Australia was not supplying her requirements in the matter of. fodder, but that by nothing short of a miracle could she supply them.
– Why, we were exporting fodder at that very time!
– The little export that was taking place is not worth talking about. Small parcels will always be exported. But in view of the enormous importation which took place, it is patent that we were unable to supply our own requirements.
– The little dribble in the way of exports-
– £113,000 worth of fodder is no “ dribble.”
– Might I point out to Senator Lynch that in New South Wales the stockyear ends on 31st December, and the financial year on 30th June. But the year for our crop returns ends on 31st March. It is quite possible, therefore, that he has selected the year given in the agricultural statistics, which ends, as I have said, on 31st March. That would make all the difference. The agricultural year of 1903 was a bad one, but it really represents the calendar year of 1902. That fact has to be borne in mind, otherwise we shall’ get into conflict over the years to which we are referring. The year during which close upon £600,000 was paid in duty upon fodder imported was “the financial rear 1902-3. It is manifest, therefore, that during that year there was an enormous shortage in Australia. Many owners purchased fodder abroad, and fed their stud sheep in a vain effort to preserve the type of sheep that they had” spent a whole life time in developing and improving. If honorable senators are prepared to say that this enormous importation took place for fun, they are entitled to their opinion, but I hardly think that their own judgment will indorse it. What is clear is that at the end of a long series of years, during which the flock? were gradually diminishing, Australia entered upon a vear of particular stress - I refer to the financial year, 1902-3. As the result, stock died wholesale, and stock-owners had to make frantic efforts to keep their best breeds alive. In their endeavour to do this they not only exhausted the markets of the Commonwealth, but drew largely upon those of other countries. Now, whatever may be the merits of a protective duty the humanity and sound business expediency of relaxing such a duty in face of a national calamity has always been recognised. That was done in the case of the fire at Chicago, when the great protectionist country of the United States of America remitted temporarily the duties upon building materials in order to enable the people of that city to replace what the fire had swept away. My chief argument to the Committee is that prevention is better than cure. If you cannot’ do anything to assist the primary producer, when he is engaged in a life and death struggle with drought - when facing nature in its sternest mood - you can at least refrain from adding to his difficulties, and decline to place upon his shoulders the additional burden represented by this impost of ,£1 a ton.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [3. 11]. - I cannot allow this matter to go to a vote without making some remarks, and I am not going to mince my phraseology in doing so. No subject ever stirred the taxpayers of the Commonwealth k>r at any rate, of some important parts of it - so entirely as did the fodder duties of five years ago. And now, when another place has thrown out a Government proposal for a similar imposition of calamity taxation, one of the masters of the Ministry - Senator W. Russell - proposes a re-imposition of duties that have been condemned broadly and fiercely, and we know perfectly well that the Government will vote with him.
– The Government will stick to their own proposals.
– When it suits.
– That is exactly it - when it suits them. I draw attention to the composition of the Chamber while this subject is before it. It is often alleged that those who sit on the left of the Chair are not in great force; but how is it that one-third of the Government and its supporter is absent from the chamber, and .that there are only two members of the party that rules the Government present ? And yet “the Senate is not short of something over a- quorum. This is a proposal nominally made in the interests of the primary producer. Who is the primary producer in this instance? Not only the man who happens to grow the crop, but the thousand and one others who are dependent upon the crop for the primary industries which they represent. This is a proposal to benefit possibly a few people in distant parts of the Commonwealth, as against the dairyman, the carter, the drayman, the cabman, the vanman- Senator ‘ Trenwith smiles; what does he care? It does not trouble him. He knows as much about the primary industries of Australia as he does about the internal economy of the palace of the Grand Lama.-
– I know as much as the honorable senator does about them - possibly a little more.
– I do not think it possible. I know what I am talking about. The honorable senator can discuss certain secondary industries in- a manner that shows his intimate acquaintance with them. But in the matter of primary industries, he has never given any indication to this Chamber that his knowledge is worthy of the consideration which we always pay to what he says.
– I have done more work on a farm than ever the honorable senator did’.
– I do not know that that is the case. Senator Lynch is clamoring on behalf of Western Australia for a duty.
– That is not correct.-
– To feed what? There are not enough cows in the whole of the State to make butter for the people there. They -have to import dairy cattle from New South Wales and Victoria. Rather, the Government have to do it, because the people apparently- have not enough industry or energy to do it foi themselves. There are in that State a few favoured patches with a good rainfall. Looking at the rainfall map of Western Australia, one can readily understand that here and there are a few squares of a hundred miles with a. good rainfall, where can be found very fine stacks, indicative of a handsome harvest ; but almost all the rest of Western Australia consists of districts where there are no cattle or sheep. You have to go right up to the far north into the tick country - the Wyndham and Derby country - to find stock of any kind.
– We are providing a lot of homes for New South Welshmen over there, anyhow.
– No” doubt, when .they can- be induced to stay. It is notorious, as has been” said by- Senator Millen, that these duties are wholly without effect except in time of drought. The State from which I come is more immediately affected by them than is any other State, because it has the largest flocks, and perhaps, for its area, the largest herds, and an immense dairying industry. These duties are, therefore, of the greatest possible . consequence to New South Wales. But we find a conspiracy on the part, I am sorry to sa.y, of the majority of the States to impose these duties upon the chief State of the Commonwealth. The duties have no effect upon Western Australia. That State does not possess enough cattle or sheep to require feeding. Nor are they of consequence to Tasmania, because the flocks and herds there could be all put in one stockyard.
– We can supply New South Wales with all she wants of this article.
– Why, then, does not Tasmania supply itself?
– We have been doing it. I will give the honorable senator the figures.
– Tasmania cannot get beefsteak without importing it from the mainland. What is the use of talking nonsense?
– Do not include all of us who come from Tasmania in your condemnation.
– I do not say that Senator Clemons is so unfaithful to Federal instincts, and Federal obligations that he will support the proposal for this duty.
– There is not the slightest chance of it.
– I wish I could feel as certain about all the representatives of the tight little Island. The crows of Crowland are all seeking to have their beaks in the flocks and herds of New South Wales, per the medium of a miserable duty that is effective only in times of drought. At any other time there is no virtue -no pretence of advantage - in this duty. It is a duty to create an additional calamity in time of drought - to strike at the owners, of dairy herds - at the cabman, the carter, the ‘busman, and all who use horses. If we could only arrive at the true inwardness of this proposal we should find that it is made with the idea of “ taking it out “ of the large pastoralist of New South Wales and Queensland. Yet Senator Millen has shown conclusively by figures which cannot be refuted that ari immense proportion of the sheep and cattle is held by small owners. The bulk of the cattle are dairy cattle, and are owned by men who possess twenty beasts and upwards.
– Why does the great State of New South Wales not follow the example of South Australia?
– All the stock of South Australia, could, as it were, be put into- one pen and fed out of. one trough. Senator W. Russell clamours about land mon0001, ; but what has land monopoly to do with the question before us ? Does the honorable senator think that by proposing this far-reaching iniquity he can benefit the small land-owners as against the large landowners? If so, the honorable senator simply indicates that he lacks primary knowledge on the subject of land occupation in Australia. If this is the kind of legislation there is to be under the Commonwealth, then God help the future of
Australia, for in it there is no more Federal spirit - no more good-will or fellowfeeling as between one State and another - than there is in an absolute conflict of arms. A want of Federal spirit leads to a want of true union, and it is impossible to calculate the consequence of a loss of such a union.
– I wish there were a duty on platitudes.
– And I should be glad if there were a duty on idiots. It is quite clear to me that my remarks are a great deal too pointed to suit what passes for conscience on the part of certain honorable senators. I suppose it is difficult for a public man to retain a conscience ; but it seems that some people are able to even enter public life without being burdened with such an incumbrance.
– Thehonorable senator’s conscience is as good as new - it has never been used !
– My conscience is as good as new because I keep it clean; and I hope that the honorable senator, who has not been in public life as many months as I have been years will, at my time of life, have as decent a conscience as I have myself. I believe that the “numbers are up,” and that this proposal is to be carried.I do not think that the request will be deemed appropriate in another place, and that we, therefore, shall have a further opportunity to discuss the question; if we have not, I shall probably, at any rate, have a further opportunity before we come to a vote. At the present stage, I merely repeat that this proposal is opposed to all Federal and friendly feeling between the States, and is evidence of a desire to grab a few miserable pound’s at the expense of all that is esteemed worthy and humane by the great body of the Commonwealth.
.- When the Tariff was introduced in another place it provided fora duty of is per cwt. on hay and chaff, but it wasadversely received, and the item was made free. I had not intended to take up time in speaking on the proposal now submitted, but Senator Neild has expressed the opinion that a duty of this kind is most un-Federal in its character, and designed to injuriously affect New South Wales in particular. The honorable senator, however, will remember that a similar duty was in the Tariff of 1901-2 ; and in 1903, when Australia, or a great proportion of the Commonwealth, was stricken with drought, many efforts were made to induce the Government to remit the duty in consequence of the great suffering, particularly in New South Wales and Queensland. I have here the figures of the importations into that State; and when I use the word “importations” I mean not only goods from abroad, but transfers, as wenow properly and technically describe the transit of goods from one State to another. In 1901, New South Wales imported in the aggregate 449,518 cwts. of hay and chaff. That was before the drought.
– What does the honorable senator mean by “ before the drought?” The drought had been continuous for ten years.
– I am glad that that is so, for the purposes of my argument; perhaps I ought to have said that in 1901, before the drought had obtained its utmost degree of severity, New South Wales imported the quantity I have stated. Of that quantity 447,562 cwts. came from the other States; 1,936 cwts. from New Zealand; and the balance of 20 cwts. from Natal. Then we come to 1902, and I think that honorable senators ‘will agree with me that in that year the drought was at its zenith. New South Wales received from outside its borders 6,099,246 cwts. of hay and chaff. Of that quantity, 6,056,600 cwts. came from the other States.
– At that time there was a duty.
– Yes ; a duty of 1s. a cwt.
– And the other States were able to charge£1 a ton more than otherwise they would have been able to do.
– New South Wales also got 15,522 cwts. from New Zealand; 20,000 cwts. from Chili; 6,115cwts. from the Argentine; 968 cwts. fromthe United Kingdom; and 21 cwts. from Natal.
– Was that a time to put on a duty?
– I point out tomy honorable friend that when New South Wales could not produce as much hay and chaff as she required, she could turn to the sister States and get 98 per cent. of what she required.
– Not what she required, but what she could get.
– Does my honorable friend go so far as to say that the imposition of a duty of £i per ton prevented New South Wales from getting all she needed?
– I ‘do; at the price which fodder was then bringing. In that year I paid £9 ros. a ton for chaff, and £1 made all the difference.
– Ten per cent.
– Why did they not reduce the railway rates ?
– The honorable senator is getting into another discussion, because, as be very well knows, if it was necessary to remit the duty on hay and chaff, because one particular State was suffering very heavily by its imposition, the Government of that State could have come to the assistance of the pastoralists without disturbing the Australian policy qf protection.
-Colonel Gould. - Can the honorable senator name the States from which the material was obtained?
– No; but I could get the figures for the honorable senator. I have the figures for the previous years, and the particular States from which both hay and chaff went into New South Wales.
– Has the honorable senator the figures showing the value of these transfers?
– No. In igo?, when the trouble had ‘ to some extent abated, we find that New South Wales’ received from the other States 2,365,955 cwts, of hay and chaff, and from all outside countries 16,776 cwts. The duty paid in the State on hay and chaff amounted to £913 in that year, and to £2,033 in the drought-stricken year of 3902. Assuming that ordinarily New South Wales can reasonably obtain her requirements in this regard. I do not think that any honorable senator will say that the payment of £2,033 in duty in a severe drought would paralyze any industry. Of course, I quite remember the argument which has been adduced by Senator Millen bv way of interjection - that New South Wales did not get all the hay and chaff which she required.
– Not by a long chalk. She lost millions and millions of sheep.
– From the figures I have quoted honorable senators can see that under normal conditions the States can supply the Commonwealth with all its requirements in this regard.
– Are we dealing with only one State or with the whole of them ?
– We are dealing with the whole of the States, I hope. 1 submit that even if one State has the misfortune .during a certain period to be drought,stricken, and cannot supply its own requirements in hay and chaff, the sister States conjointly are able to supply all she may require.
– - -At a price which the honorable senator wants to make higher.
– No; I do not think that that is a fair construction to put on what I am submitting.
– It is the only construction I can put .on it.
– Undoubtedly, when there is a shortage of any commodity the price increases, but whether we have a duty or not, does the honorable senator wish to assure the Committee that the charge for imported fodder would not te higher than it would be under normal conditions ?
– The honorable senator said that the’ other States can supply the needs of New South Wales. Does he deny that if the price had been lower, New South Wales would have consumed more fodder and kept more of her stock alive?
– I am not prepared to say that. I assert that if we had taken off the duty of is. per’ cwt. fodder would not have teen lower in price; but, instead of the producers of the Commonwealth getting the benefit of the ‘increased price, persons outside its borders would have derived that advantage. In all her dire distress, in 1902, New South Wales was able to turn round to the sister States and draw upon them to the extent of 98 per cent, of her requirements in hay and chaff.
– The sister States were able to turn ‘round to New South Wales and say, “You are in a hole, and we will push you further in.”
– Not at all. O’wing to the circumstances in Australia then, the price of hay and chaff would not have been a whit lower if our ports had been thrown open.
– Buncombe !
– We would simply have been throwing into the hands of persons outside the Commonwealth, perhaps, a little more profit than they would get in ordinary, circumstances. Honorable senators will’ see that’ notwithstanding the alle- gations which were made at that time as to the necessity of remitting this duty New South Wales was able to turn to the other States, and get practically the whole of her requirements in this regard.
– Not one-half of her requirements.
– The history of the proposed duty, or of this attempt to reimpose it, could not be considered creditable to any Federation of States such as we have here. It was first imposed for something like the following reasons : The farmers of the Commonwealth were told that they must recognise that certain protectionist duties were to be imposed to help the secondary industries. Although at the time they were very busy with their own work, some of them probably demurred, and wished to know why they should be practically the only persons who were not to derive any benefit from the protective Tariff proposed. They were then told - as a piece of hypocrisy, from my point of view at any rate - that they would foe given protection upon everything they produced. For a time I suppose that satisfied them. As I said the other day, their occupation keeps them so busy that they are unable to give much attention to politics, and are easily gulled, since they know little or nothing of the idiosyncrasies of political candidates, or of* the same individuals after they become members of Parliament.
– The honorable senator should remember that Senator W. Russell is listening to him.
– I hope that the honorable senator is listening, and that he will agree with me. The first argument used in support of this duty was not urged for long, but it was supplanted by something which I venture to say represents one of the most evil results that have arisen amongst) us since Federation. The farmers of the whole of Australia were then told openly, not merely that this duty would be of benefit to them, but that it would provide them with an excellent opportunity for retaliation. - They were told that so long as duties remain in force under which they are compelled to pay taxation upon everything they require, these fodder duties would enable them when a time of drought and stress arises to retaliate by demanding higher prices than they would otherwise be able to “obtain from the people who require what they produce.
But who are the people who must buy, what the farmers produce? They are the people of the Commonwealth. And the doctrine which underlies this duty . at- the present time is this, and no more : that farmers in those parts of the Commonwealth which can produce hay and chaff in much larger quantities than can others are to be enabled to put the prices of those commodities up against their fellow citizens. Shameless as it may seem, that is the only defence submitted for this duty. Senator W. Russell, who has moved the request, represents South Australia, and has openly given a’s his reason for it that the farmers of South Australia produce hay and chaff, and that the proposed duty would enable them to put the price of those articles up against their fellow citizens in New South Wales, Queensland, or other States in which they might be required. It will not be contended that this kind of retaliation is desirable under the Tariff or under any other form of Federal legislation, and yet if we take away this reason for the proposed duty it is left .without other justification. No other argument has been adduced in support of it except that it would enable one class in the community to retaliate upon others. I shall be no party to anything of that sort. I wish to give a practical answer to some of the figures which Senator Keating has just now submitted. He has said that in 1902, when the drought was at its worst, the total consumption of fodder in New South Wales represented something like 6,000,000 cwts., and that 98 per cent, was obtained from the other .States.
– I made the estimate of 98 per cent, only as I read, but it was certainly over 96 per cent.
– We need not quarrel as to the exact percentage. Admittedly a very large percentage of the fodder consumed was received from the other States. But what was really theposition? In the very same year New South Wales alone paid in duties £600,000.
– That was the total revenue from these duties.
– That amount was paid practically by New South Wales and Queensland, and it comes to the same thing, for the purpose of my argument, which is that those parts of the Common- wealth. where hay, chaff, and substitutes for them, were required, had to pay in duty the enormous amount of £600,000.
– That is ‘not in accord with the figures I have here as to the amount of duty paid by New South Wales in 1902 on this item of hay and chaff.
– I propose to deal with that. The honorable senator has said that practically the whole of the hay and chaff consumed in New South Wales in that particular year came from the other States, and consequently there was very little importation of fodder from abroad. From the honorable senator’s point of view, therefore, though not from mine, the price was not largely increased by the imposition of the duty. But I say the facts were that, practically speaking, New South Wales and Queensland paid the whole of the amount of £600,000 derived from duties on fodder for the purpose of keeping their stock alive.
– On this item they did not pay more than £2,200.
– That may be so, but that is not the ‘point. They paid this enormous amount in duties on wheat, oats, maize, or other articles imported as substitutes for hay and chaff to keep their stock alive. If I am asked why they imported these articles, I say that probably the reason was that in the circumstances, and in view of the prices then ruling, they found it cheaper to import them than to import hay and chaff. Therefore the figures which were quoted by Senator Keating were entirely misleading - though the honorable senator, no doubt, - did not intend to mislead - if they led the Committee to believe that there had been no importations of fodder to speak of for the purpose of keeping stock alive in the States referred to. I recognise at once that the State which I represent would perhaps be benefited by the imposition of these duties, that is to say, that if Tasmania can in the matter of agriculture be credited with any production at all worth considering in the light of transfers to the other States, it is probably in connexion with items like these. But I repeat that I shall be no part- in any circumstances to invite Tasmanian growers of hay and chaff, or substitutes for them, to believe that in the time of dire necessity they should be enabled to charge their fellow citizens of the Commonwealth more than they could legitimated and fairly charge them for these articles if such a duty did not exist. As Senator Millen has already pointed out, it is not contended that this is a protective duty in the sense in which protective duties are ordinarily viewed by members of the Committee. It is advocated by those who support it only because it gives fanners an opportunity to raise prices at a time when the necessities of some of the States force upon them the importation of these articles, or substitutes for them. I suppose the vote will be against making hay and chaff free, but I am unable to understand how any man professing a Federal spirit can deliberately, by assisting in the imposition of a duty like this, increase the price of articles which are urgently required in order that one section of the community may be benefited at the expense of others. I repeat that ‘ this duty represents merely a retaliation. It was born in hypocrisy, and is being nourished now as a means of revenge to enable farmers oppressed by the heavy_ duties imposed for the benefit of secondary industries to get level - once in ten years I hope at the most - with the manufacturers who are getting something out of them every year of the ten.
– I should be very sorry to take part in any action likely to have such results as have been attributed to this duty. All through it has been stated that the duty will operate only during a great scarcity of fodder, in times of drought ; but I would remind honorable senators that there is another phase of the question, and if we make the item free, we should, to be consistent, treat in the same way several other items which we have declared shall” not be free, and we shall make it free, not merely in times of drought, but at all times.
– Is fodder likely to be imported in a good season, when prices are low?
– I do not think so; but Australia is a continent containing about 3,000,000 square miles, and is capable of supplying all the fodder her people actually require, and of providing other parts of the world as well. The development of the good agricultural lands of Western Australia is yet in its infancy, and her farmers are more distant from the mOTe heavily populated east coast than are those of New Zealand, and surely it would be unwise to make a breach in the Tariff wall, so that the farmers of that State would” haw to contend against the competition of New Zea- land and other countries. The Dominion of New Zealand was invited to federate with the Australian States, and share the benefits of the partnership, but, as she declined to’ do so, are we going to place our farmers in competition with hers? New Zealand is only 1,200 miles distant from the eastern coast of Aus.tralia, and there is a quick and frequent service of steamers between the two countries. Are we going to expose our farmers to competition from that and other countries, and protect all engaged in our other industries? If a great national emergency arose, owing to the scarcity of fodder, the Commonwealth. Government would be capable of rising to meet the occasion. I am not prepared to make fish of the Australian manufacturer and fowl of the Australian farmer. The proper and consistent attitude for one to take up in this matter, even though he may be only a moderate protectionist, is to make no distinction.
Senator GRAY (New South Wales [3.55]. - When Senator W. Russell was speaking, I asked him - and I now ask any other member of the Committee - to show how this duty will benefit the farming community at large. It may benefit individual farmers who have fodder to sell in times of scarcity, but it will not benefit the farming industry at large. Those who knew the extraordinary sufferings of the pastoralists and farmers of Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia, and parts of Western Australia in 1902, when sheep were perishing by the million, so that it’ looked at one time as though in places the primary industry of woolgrowing would be absolutely destroyed, must be aware that the Commonwealth Government of the day wholly failed to rise to the occasion. I was one of the deputation which waited upon the Prime Minister when the drought was at its height, fodder being at absolutely prohibitive prices, and thousands of settlers being ruined. His reply could bear no other interpretation than that he sympathized with those who were suffering, and would do his best to have the duties remitted for a- time - a course which has been taken in America, Spain, and other countries in days of calamity. But notwithstanding this promise, some of tha members of his Ministry had run so mad on the subject of protection that they said, “ We shall not allow the duties to be remitted, because we know of a few farmers who have a little fodder to sell, and we intend that they shall make the most of it.” So except for words, words, words, the poverty-stricken pastoralists and farmers of Australia got nothing from the Commonwealth Government. Those who are such selfish protectionists that they will allow the community at large to suffer, in order that a few may benefit, are mongrel protectionists. The true protectionist has sympathy with his fellow-man, and desires only that his own people shall not be subjected to unfair competition. There are, however, protectionists who preach the gospel of absolute selfishness. Some honorable senators who have supported the duty have spoken of themselves as the friends of the farmers. If they are so, the farmers may well say, “ Save us from our friends.” These honorable senators would not dare to visit such parts of New South Wales as the Southern Coast, Camden, and other districts and talk of placing duties on the fodder necessary to tide sheep and cattle over bad times. It must be remembered that nowadays farmers do not confine themselves to one line of industry. They realize that to be successful they must have several interests, and thus most of them keep a few sheep and cattle in addition to growing wheat and other crops. Men of this class have, within the last few weeks, been driven from- their holdings owing to the drought. Yet Tasmanian representatives wish to make fodder dearer. These representatives are Federalists only so long as not even the most twopennyhalfpenny industry in their State is affected. At one time farmers were looked upon as conservative and uneducated, but now they are able to look well ahead, and are aware that their interests are bound up in those of the Commonwealth. They therefore see that, though a duty of this kind may occasionally benefit a. few .of their number,’ it must injure the farming and pastoral interests as a whole. It cannot operate except in times of severe drought, when three or four -States are being devastated by want of rain. At all times the farmer, to succeed, must have application, integrity, perseverance, and the other necessary qualifications of the successful man, but in addition he has to combat the natural variations of. climate. This makes it imperative that Parliament shall do all .it can to make the results of his industry more certain. If it were shown that ‘ the proposed duty would be of- advantage to the farmer’s of Australia as a whole, the pro- posal would meet with more sympathy, but I cannot understand how those who know how bur pastoralists and farmers suffer by reason of the variable climatic conditions can agree to impose such a. tax upon them’ in their time of dire adversity. There may at some time be a drought in South Australia. I realize that that State is developing its agricultural possibilities. But misfortune may come, and the farmers may have to depend upon the fodder which is imported to keep their stock alive. Under this tax, prices will go up to an almost prohibitive degree; and then undoubtedly the farmers will curse those who levied the duty. If the request is agreed to, I shall regard it as one of the greatest wrongs ever perpetrated’ by the Commonwealth Parliament.
.- We were told by Senator Mulcahy that we could trust the Federal Parliament or the Commonwealth Government to see that no hardship occurred under the proposed duty. I happened to be in Queensland during a drought which lasted nearly ten years. If honorable senators who propose to vote for the request had seen, as I have done, the fearful losses brought upon the owners of stock through drought, they would certainly not vote for any duty which would have the effect of increasing the price of fodder. I know of carters who were put to such expense to keep their teams alive, that it has taken them years to pay off their debts. Even in the towns fodder reached £10 a ton, and in the bush, where it had to be carted 40 or 50 miles, the price went as high as £20 per ton. During a fortyfive years’ residence in Queensland, I never knew such prices as those fetched by maize and other fodder. I am sure that the farmers of Australia do not want a tax that will be operative only when their brother farmers in other parts of the country are pushed to the extreme limit of necessity. They do not want to benefit from a tax which will operate only in times of national calamity. The duty is one which will affect not only the squatters, but the dairymen, the carters, and the cabmen. I have travelled between Hughenden and Winton when one could see dead sheep alongside every bush. In ordinary good times, we are exporters of fodder, and the tax will not have the slightest effect. It will only operate in such times as I have described. There is not a town in Queensland, from Brisbane to the far north of the Gulf coun try, where the prices of bran, chaff, and other horse-feed did not reach an enormous level, whilst at places like Normanton and Burketown, prices were treble what they are in normal times. I suppose that the number of persons who would benefit from this duty in times of drought would not be more than 100,000, whilst it will operate against 4,000,000 odd. I will never be one to vote for the imposition of a tax to make things worse for a section of the community in a time of calamity. I have actually seen cattle so low down and weak as to eat their own excreta; a fact which can be vouched for by thousands of people. Those who vote for this request will vote to make things worse than the drought makes them.
– I cannot allow this question -to go to a vote without making some remarks in reference to the attitude which Senator W. Russell appears to think a number of us are taking up because we do not feel inclined to support his request. I wish to point out certain incidents which have occurred in Queensland, and which convince me that it is inadvisable to impose any duty that is likely to prevent fodder from being obtainable at the lowest possible rate by dairymen and small farmers. First of all, I would point out that in Queensland, in 1902, according to the stock returns,, the losses through] drought in one year amounted to - horses, 13-63 per cent. ; cattle, 33-58 per cent., or over one-third; sheep, 28.08 per cent., or over one-quarter; pigs, 36.53 per cent., or over one-third.
– Did those animals all die from want of food?
– They did not die from luxurious living, I can assure the honorable senator. In the northern districts of Queensland, sugar-cane tops were largely used to supply fodder requirements. I am not saying that they are particularly good fodder, but I know that tops from thousands of acres were sent by train and by other means to starving stock in the back country, and that large numbers of starving stock were sent into the sugar districts to be fed on this class of fodder. It is a remarkable fact - or if it is only a coincidence it is none the less remarkable - that while the figures for the whole State in connexion with losses of stock were, as I have just read, the losses in the north of Queensland, where they were able to utilize sugar-cane tops for fodder,, were as follow: - Horse’s, 6.64 per cent., as against 13.63 for the whole State; cattle, 14 per cent., as against 33.58 per cent, for the whole State; sheep, 10.70 per cent., as against 28.08 for the whole State; pigs, 27.12 per cent., as against 36.53 per cent, for the whole State. The difference in losses was most striking and significant. If that was the result of the stock-owners of North Queensland being able to get fodder, bad as it was - for I am not going to claim that sugar-cane tops are good fodder - honorable senators can form an opinion as to the quantity of stock we might be able to save in the rest of the Commonwealth during a drought if fodder were allowed to come in free. By means of this duty, we shall take away from stock-owners in other parts of Australia the opportunity of ob-, taming cheap fodder, Such as those in the north of Queensland were able to. obtain. It may be said that I am anxious that this duty shall be imposed in order that farmers in certain parts of Queensland may, during a time of drought, take money out of the pockets of the primary producers of other parts of the Commonwealth; but the people of Queensland certainly have no desire to profit by the misfortunes of the rest of Australia, even although they may be in a position to do so. Consequently, although 1 represent a State, a large section of which would gain by the imposition of this duty, I propose to vote against it in the interests of the immense number of small stock-owners, settlers, and dairymen - and the dairying industry is probably more important than, or, at “all events, almost as important as any other primary industry outside the pastoral industry of Australia - whom it should be our desire to keep going, and to free from taxes of this description.
– At the risk of once more being charged with voting for protection in favour of the sugar and banana-growers of Queensland, whilst favouring free-trade in other directions, I rise to offer a. few remarks with reference to the attitude of Victoria on this question. When the people of Queensland were thinking about Federation a band of Victorians invaded that State - and I helped them to do so - to point out how advantageous it would be to her if in times of national calamity or distress the big State of Victoria- big in its population and wealth-were able to come to her assistance. It’ was said that with Federation Queensland could always rely upon her in a time of difficulty. This duty will operate only at a time of national calamity - because a drought in one or two of the States, especially the two big States, would be a calamity to the whole of Australia - and what is the attitude of Victoria in regard to it? One of the most strenuous fighters for Federation was the solitary supporter of the Government in the Senate, Senator Trenwith, who pointed out to the people of Queensland that it would be well for them to recognise the magnanimity of the assistance which they would receive from Victoria at a time of national distressassistance which would be extended to them in a truly Federal spirit. It is rather pleasing to me now, speaking on behalf of Queensland, to point but the magnificent Federal spirit of Victorians, as represented by a Government which could not remain in power for twenty-four hours without appealing to what I may say is one of the most selfish features of the fetish of protection, which is worshipped to madness in this State. I venture to remind Victorians of the days of the Federal campaign, and to ask them what they think now of the story which their representatives then told not only in Queensland, but in New South Wales, and also, I suppose, in Western Australia. Strong protectionists from Victoria induced us to enter Federation.
– “ Will you walk into my parlour said the spider to the fly?”
– Possibly, it was a case of that sort; possibly they were wiser in their generation than were the children of Queensland. I was probably one of those who at the time thought too highly of the Federal spirit, and I take particular pleasure in turning what I may call the edge of the sword upon these people..
– That is a truly Federal spirit !
– When one is struck in the house of one’s friends one feels the blow very keenly. Like Senator Trenwith who, so to speak, is almost the keystone of the Government in this Chamber, I was fairly strong in my support of Federation. I trusted to’ the magnanimity of the Victorians who came to us with the story-
– The question before the Committee is the duty on hay and chaff.
– The duty can operate only at a time when its imposition must render more difficult the lot of the settlers in Queensland and New South Wales. Where is the federal spirit of the Victorian protectionists, and of protectionists generally? It is quite likely that when this duty begins to operate many farmers, not only in Queensland and New South Wales, but in various parts of Victoria, will be not producers but consumers. Victoria may probably be unable to supply customers beyond its own borders, and the effect of the duty will be just the same in principle, if not in extent, upon the great primary producers of Victoria, as upon those of the other States. What the Victorians want is as plain as a pikestaff. In 1:902^ the year of the great drought which affected New South Wales, Queensland, and portions of Victoria, our importations of grain and pulse - maize - totalled 1,910,587 bushels. During .the same year we imported 1,037,596 bushels of oats, whilst in 1903 - when we had not recovered from the drought - we imported into Australia 2,066,365 bushels. The ‘Victorians now say that in a time of national calamity settlers and others in the drought-stricken districts should not have the benefit of the competition of New Zealand in the supply of fodder. All Australia is liable to droughts. Victoria, compared with the other States, has probably suffered the least iri the average of drought, but she has certainly suffered. It is now desired to impose this duty so that when the Commonwealth is suffering, and suffering severely, from the effects of drought, those Victorians who have enjoyed a better season mav be free from the incidence of the competition of New Zealand. Ha vine travelled over districts that have been afflicted with the greatest scourge that could come upon a nation, I may be pardoned for speaking strongly. I have visited districts which in ordinary seasons produce magnificent crops of maize and wheat, and the finest grasses to be found in Australia, and have seen them devastated in such a way as to cause the spectator to realize to the very letter the poetic description given of the destruction of Sennacherib’s hosts.. I have seen the plains strewn with the bones of thousands of animals that have died from drought. I am not going to say that the levying of this duty will save us from such a calamity ; but I do say that the imposition of a duty of £1 per ton will render more difficult “ the position of our stock owners. It seems to me that the Victorian protectionists - “prohibitionists” is the proper word to apply to them - in this particular instance are taking up very much the attitude of a midnight prowler over a battlefield, who is bent upon emptying the pockets of the corpses.
– We shall never have another drought like that to which the honorable senator has referred.
– I am delighted to have that assertion from a Victorian. I have spent all my life in Queensland, and have watched from my childhood the recurrence of droughts.
– I suppose that Senator Fraser knows more about the Queens^ land droughts than does the honorable senator.
– I do not know that he does. I have been as long in Queensland as the honorable senator, and have certainly been more intimately associated with the conditions of that State than he has. I have been all over Queensland, and may be excused for speaking a little strongly on the subject, since I have seen the effects of droughts, and know how frequently they occur.
– There has been for six months a drought in certain parts of New South Wales.
– That is so, and I am therefore all the more surprised at this proposal. The Vice-President of the Executive Council may refer to the returns prepared for another place to show that After all the duty collected in time of drought did not amount to much, but, having examined the returns in question, I would remind the honorable senator that such an argument is two-edged. Victoria, unlike Queensland, where the development of these primary industries is all that she has to depend, upon, has more eggs in her basket than we have.
– And they are fresher.
– I do not think so. Ours will last for all time, or so long as nature will continue to bless us.
– So .that the duty is of no consequence to Queensland?
– I have just pointed out that the argument is a twoedged one. If the duty is immaterial to the Treasurer-
– I said immaterial to Queensland.
– It may operate harshly in individual cases.
– Senator Keating is apparently lamenting that the duty will not crush Queensland industries.
– Perhaps sp.
– Not at all. The honorable senator said that the Queensland eggs were more enduring.
– Most of the industrial eggs in Queensland’s basket are absolutely enduring so far as nature will continue to shower its blessings upon her. When we talk about the balance of duties either one way or the other, we are occasionally met with the taunt “.What about bananas and coffee?” I think it was Senator Trenwith who interjected a little time ago, “ What is the difference between bananas and coffee and hay and chaff?” The difference is that we can do without bananas and coffee, whereas there are times when a struggling farmer or grazier cannot do without) milk - when the life of his child may perhaps depend upon whether he is in a position to obtain a little cheap corn or chaff with which to feed a cow.
– Upon that line of reasoning the honorable senator will vote for the free admission of condensed milk?
– I am not going to be caught in that way. It so happens, however, that I have been requested by one of the largest manufacturers of condensed milk to support placing it upon the free list.
– I know the danger of attempting to appeal to the reason of honorable senators by citing individual cases of hardship. But upon the present occasion Queensland representatives have a right to appeal strongly, because this item is one which intimately affects their own State. I ask the Victorian representatives in this Chamber to exhibit some broad consideration for the two great States of Queensland and New South Wales, because the more consideration is extended to the primary industries of those States the better will it be for the Commonwealth as a whole. I have a very vivid recollection of two disastrous and prolonged droughts in Queensland, and nothing can convince me that it would be wise to impose a duty upon this item - a duty which can operate only in times of stress. If we adopt the proposal of the Government our action will be comparable to that of a midnight prowler who visits a battle-field for the’ purpose of robbing the corpses. In, this instance we shall be stealing something from the cattle and herds arid thus increasing the hardships of settlers in Queensland and New South Wales.
– I sh’all support the proposal of Senator W. Russell, and I intend to give my reasons for so doing. The Tariff in its present form contains a real anomaly inasmuch as straw is dutiable at is. per cental, whilst hay and chaff are free. Under the old Tariff there was a duty upon hay and chaff, and in spite of all that has been said I do not know that it worked harm to any section of the community. I quite recognise that free-traders . desire to have the duty remitted, and I do not blame them for so doing. But if we are to recognise that protection is to be the fiscal policy of the country we must distribute the benefits accruing from that policy as far as possible. We do not desire them to be- of a one-sided character. The farmers are therefore entitled to their share of protection. Of. course, it has been said that only a very small quantity of fodder is imported. But we need the imposition of a duty to prevent its importation. Why should we deprive the farmer of his natural market? We know very well that in this country seasons are experienced when the price of produce is very, very low, when the farmer has to sell his wheat for 2s. 6d. per bushel or even less. At such times he receives no sympathy or assistance. Seeing that he has to accept low prices for his wheat in good seasons, why should we deprive him of the right to obtain something more than an ordinary price for his’ produce during bad seasons? It has been said that the operation of this duty will intensify the evils of drought. But we must either have a protective policy or do away with it. If the Government wish to alleviate the evils attendant upon drought, they can do so by providing the farmer with cheap carriage or by rebating to the users of fodder the duty paid upon it. No argument can be advanced against a duty upon hay and chaff, which cannot with equal force be advanced against a duty upon grain of every kind. It is impossible to legislate for exceptional seasons. We must have a definite fiscal policy, and we must put it into force, taking the chance of whatever seasons may happen to befall us. There is no doubt that in times of drought many farmers suffer by reason of their neglect in good seasons to make proper provision for such emergencies. If there is one State in the Commonwealth which ought to be able to make provision against drought it is Queensland, which possesses a much greater rainfall than does Victoria. But the farmers there do not save their straw, they do not conserve their water, and they do not make ensilage. As a result, when drought comes they have nothing upon which to fall back.
– That argument is not applicable to the immense areas of Queensland. The honorable senator is talking of the . men on those areas as he would of a tin-pot dairy farmer.
– We must study hil the States. Surely the Commonwealth with its great variety of climate and seasons is productive enough to supply all its own needs. No fiscal provision that we can make will obviate the sufferings attendant upon drought.. As a consistent protectionist, I cannot deny the producers an opportunity to share in the benefits of that policy. x
– Senator McColl has said that there is no doubt that if our farmers used the means at our disposal, and provided sufficient ensilage to tide them over periods of drought, there would be no occasion for the imposition of this duty. I quite believe him. It has been said that, in a great measure, this Tariff is a geographical one. In many respects it is. I have been urged to vote for a duty upon hay and chaff because it will lie of benefit to the Tasmanian farmers. In other words, thev are to take advantage of the famine and want of their neighbours upon the mainland. I do not believe that Tasmanian farmers desire to do anything of the kind. They naturally wish to secure the advantage of high prices in other markets, but they do not desire to be advantaged solely because of famine and drought on “the mainland. I cannot understand why we should discriminate in the way that is proposed by imposing a tax which will be operative only during periods of drought or famine. Such a duty will not be protective in its incidence. Why, then, should we levy it? Tt is really a fictitious protection to the farmer, and I am quite sure that in my own State the men upon the land will not value it I shall vote against the duty.
Senator Lt.-Colonel GOULD (New of New South Wales, I propose to say two or three words upon this item. Undoubtedly the question which is involved here was a very burning one in that State and in Queensland a few years ago. However much honorable senators may attempt to minimise the effect of such a duty during: the drought years in New South Wales, there is abundant evidence not only that the residents of that State experienced arc exceedingly trying time, but that the stock losses were so great as to be hardly conceivable. The honorable senator who has requested a duty of is. per cwt. upon this item has not really had the opportunities for learning what was the position in New South Wales and Queensland during the particular period in Question. This afternoon Senator Millen quoted some figures which clearly showed what the stock losses were. He pointed out that in New South Wales the number of sheep had declined from 61,000,000 to 27,000,000. In 1891 there were 125,000,000 sheep in the Commonwealth, but in 1903 these had diminished by 73,500,000.
– Largely for want of water.
.- Largely in consequence of the drought. In 1891, New South Wales possessed nearly 62,000,000 sheep, but in ten years the number had diminished by 20,000,000: In other words, that State then possessed 42,000,000. sheep, and this number was still further reduced in 1902 to less than 27,000,000. In 1903, the losses were slightly recuperated, the number of sheep increasing “ to ‘ 28,000,000. If honorable senators will study the statistics for Queensland, they will find that a very marked decrease also took place there not only in the number of sheep, but in the number of cattle and horses. We know perfectly well that during those years the pastoralists, dairymen, and. farmers- indeed, all who are interested in stock - were buying hay, chaff, corn, wheat, and other produce as fast as they possibly could, in order that they might keep their stock alive. In many instances pastoralists not only suffered severely in consequence of the loss of stock, but had so to borrow money and spend it that they found themselves heavily involved because of the large prices thev had to pay for the small quantities of fodder that they were able to purchase compared with the quantity which they required. The only argument I have heard from the Minister in defence of the proposal for this duty is that the Commonwealth was able to supply practically all the hay and chaff consumed in New South Wales and Queensland during the drought time, but on . the other hand there is the evident fact that a good deal of other fodder had ‘to be introduced in order to keep stock alive. Had there been hay and chaff available in the Commonwealth at reasonable prices there is np doubt that the State of New South Wales alone could have taken double or treble the quantity which she did take during the years quoted by the Minister. Of course we know quite well that water is essential, and that without rain fodder cannot be got unless it is brought from other parts of the world where rain has fallen.
– Without rain stock cannot be kept alive, no. matter what quantity of fodder is available,
-Colonel GOULD. -The conditions that existed in the years quoted were all due to the drought. What we all hoped at that time was that the men in more fortunate circumstances in the Commonwealth would be prepared to come to the assistance of their less fortunate brethren, but when the request was made from the drought-stricken parts of Australia for the remission of the duty a strong protest was raised on the ground that other fodder would b’e brought into the Commonwealth to enter into competition with the fortunate farmers located in one corner of Victoria and in a portion of South Australia.
– Those who asked for the remission of the duty were given a concession in the way of freights, which was equal to any duty.
-Colonel GOULD.- They should have had the concession which they asked for in addition to the freight concession, which was given . to them, not by the more prosperous members of the Commonwealth, but by their own Governments. In the State of New South Wales the freight concessions were given by the State Government, and not in any way by the Commonwealth. I recollect well the statement that was made at the time when the remission of the duty was asked for. It was, “ Oh, these farmers do not often have such a good chance as they have now, and it would be wrong to take away from them the opportunity of getting a bigger price for the fodder that they have grown than they would get if fodder could be introduced into Australia duty free.”
– That was exactly what was said.
.- It shows the kind of fraternal feeling that existed then. It was really each man fighting for his own hand, and let the “de’il take the hindmost.”
– It was a case of supply and demand. It is the same in the case of coal and other commodities.
– The honorable senator lives in a State which has a regular rainfall and more favorable conditions than have New South Wales and Queensland, and therefore he looks at the question through Tasmanian spectacles.
– New South Wales does not forget to put the rest of the States under the whip with regard to coal.
– There is no duty upon coal. We know that the price is affected by difficulties that occur with regard to labour conditions at Newcastle from time to time.
– We have to pay for that.
– So has everybody else, but there is no duty of £x per ton on coal or coke imported into the Commonwealth. That, however, is beside the question. If we are to make .this’ Commonwealth what it ought to be, and what we all- hope that it will be - a Commonwealth with community of interests, with each one anxious to help the other, and all desiring to make each other prosperous -then we must have no attempts made unduly to aggrandise the few at the expense of the many. Even assuming for the sake of argument that all the fodder sent into New South Wales in those times brought the £1 extra per ton, as I believe it did, and that that money went into the pockets of the men who produced the fodder, compare the benefits given to those men with the loss sustained by the Commonwealth generally through a diminution in one State alone of its sheep by 30,000,000 or 40,000,000. The difference is altogether in favour of the men who sought to get their fodder at as cheap a rate as possible. Theirs is the great loss. The gain to +he men who sold the fodder is but a small gain, but what happened shows how little there was of the true spirit that ought to exist among our people. I am sorry that any difference should arise as between the interests of the States, and that it should be said, “ Oh, this State wants to get at the throat of the others.” Every State ought to do all that it can to assist the others in times of trial. This duty will be of no benefit, whatever in good seasons. The natural protection,due to the bulky nature of the article and the cost of freightage, will be more than sufficient to compensate the producers of the Commonwealth, who can send their material to the ports at reasonable prices.
– The freight to Western Australia from the eastern States is nearly, if not quite, as great as from New Zealand.
.- It will be found that the expense of sending material to Western Australia is immensely greater from New Zealand than from Victoria or South Australia.
– The freight is £3 a ton from New Zealand.
.- If the farmers of South Australia could always rely on getting £4 or £5 a ton for their hay they would consider that they were living in times of luxury. I do not despair of seeing the motion submitted by Senator W. Russell negatived, because I hope that honorable senators will look at the question from a much broader stand-point than the interests of a handful of individuals, when one of the greatest industries of Australia may at any time be brought into a state of great difficulty and danger throughthe enhancement of the price of fodder. When we do anything that will have a tendency to injure or destroy the great pastoral industries of sheep-breeding and dairying, upon which the prosperity of this country is at present being largely built up, we are not acting in the best interests of the people of the Commonwealth. Millions of pounds sterling come into this country annually in returns from the wool industry, and large sums of money are now coming in through the dairying industry. Both of those industries are largely dependent upon obtaining cheap fodder. Of course, in good seasons those industries can get on well with the natural herbage, but in times of drought, when they require some assistance at the hands of the people, if this proposal to impose a duty is agreed to, that assistance that ought to be given to them, and might reasonably be expected by them, will be absolutely taken away.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 67, “ Hay and chaff,”1s. per cwt. (Senator W. Russell’s request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
Item68. Straw, per cwt.,1s.
Request (by Senator Clemons) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make item 68 free.
– Surely the Government intend to make an appeal for the retention of this duty, seeing that 3 cwt. of straw was imported last year?
– Far too much !
– Truly, far too much. When Australia can produce and is prepared to produce straw, and when we consider the many interests involved, it seems incumbent on Ministers todefend this important duty.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to.
Item 69. Honey, Jams, and Jellies; including Calves’ Foot but not Meat Jellies, per lb. (General Tariff), 2d.; (United Kingdom),1½d. on and after1st November, 1907.
– I draw attention to the fact that, apart from the amount of duty, the item as it stands is somewhat confusing, or, at any rate, embraces a number of totally different items. For instance, under the heading of “ Jellies,” certain materials, which are imported and sold by grocers in small packets for the purpose, incidentally, no doubt, of making jellies, are subject to a duty of 2d., whereas, in my opinion, they ought to come in as ordinary groceries, or, at any rate, ought not to’ be classed with honeys or jams. Perhaps the preparations to which I refer might more appropriately come under the general heading of oilmen’s stores; in any case, the item as it stands, rather creates than cures anomalies. I should further like an explanation why calves’ foot jelly is included, while meat jellies are excluded. Unless some alteration is made, trouble and inconvenience will be caused to both Customs officials and importers, and I urge the desirability of some clearer definition in the interests of simplicity.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [5.14]. - I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item69 (imports under General Tariff),1½d. per lb.
I draw attention to the extraordinary conglomeration of articles under one heading. We have honey, which is a primary product, and jams, which are largely a. glucose product, and jellies, all here together; and i f the analytical staff of the Cust oms cannot tell the difference between corn flour and starch, I am sure they will not be able to distinguish bet ween calves’ foot jelly and meat jelly. I cannot see any intelligence displayed in this amalgamation of products ; but, as we all desire to “ get on,” while the Ministry desire to “ get off,” I shall offer no further observation than that I have gone carefully through the Tariff, and I find that the duty of 2d. is unreasonably high in comparison with that on similar articles. My proposal is simply a return to the oldduty, which I remind honorable senators was recommended by the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission. Ministers have shown high esteem for the protectionists’ section’s recommendations on other occasions, and I hope that that esteem will be preserved now.
– I hope that the Committee will not be induced to reduce this duty. In reply to Senator Clemons, I may say that materials imported for the purpose of making jellies have been treated by the Customs authorities as jellies, for the reason that, as the object of the duty is protective, and as jellies are manufactured here, that object would otherwise be defeated. As to the distinction between calves’ foot jelly and meat jelly, it is made for the reason that the latter ismade from flesh, whereas the former is made from what is not ordinarily regarded as flesh, but from a certain portion of the material of the hoof.
– Calves’ foot jelly is made from gristle - what is the moral difference between gristle and meat?
– It is not a question of morality ; but there is a recognised distinction between the two classes of Jellies; and that distinction it is proposed to preserve.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 69, “Honey, jams, and jellies, &c.” (imports under General Tariff),1½d. per lb. (Senator Colonel Neild’ s request) -put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 14
Question so resolved in the negative.
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 69 by leaving out the preferential duty.
I hold that in omitting the preferential duty we shall be acting consistently with the purpose of the Tariff throughout. The main source from which our imports have been received has been Great Britain, and the duty has been1½d. per lb. Although we are exporting honies, jams, and jellies to a very great extent - and I am gratified at the fact - stillI see no reason why we should not encourage the making of a superior type of jams and jellies in the Commonwealth. To retain the preference of1½d. per lb. in favour of British imports would simply be to leave the jam-making industry where it stood before the Tariff was introduced. Apparently the honies, jams, and jellies which are introduced from Great Britain are of a superior type. I believe that my request, if adopted, will serve a two-fold purpose. In the first place it will encourage the production of a superior type of these commodities on the Commonwealth, whilst compelling the consumers of imported high-grade commodities to pay a little extra to the revenue for indulging their tastes. That ought to be an acceptable doctrine to some of my free-trade friends, who will go to the length of taxing articles of pleasure and ostentation. I invite my enlightened free-trade friends to support my effort to impose a tax on what simply amounts to a refined taste for honies, jams, and jellies. In the second place my request, if adopted, will help to carry out the main purpose of the Tariff, and that is to give a measure of protection to Australian industries.
– I will put the request in this form -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty in the second column 2d.
We cannot ask the other House to omit a duty which has been operative for a certaintime.
– Honorable senators are endeavouring to impose a higher duty on the better article for the purpose of keeping it out than they wish to levy on the inferior article. Meat jellies are dutiable at 25 per cent., and now it is proposed to put a duty of too per cent. on the good article. If that is to be our legislation I am sorry for it.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 16
Question so resolved in the negative.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [5.33]. - I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 69 by making the duty (imports from the United Kingdom)1d. per lb.
It is sufficient to state that the Government have announced the United Kingdom preference as the one great feature of their policy. They snorted onthe subject all over England; they demonstrated in every newspaper which would publish their verbal meanderings, and now it is just about time for them to give some evidence of reality and consistency. I do not, of course, refer to the two most estimable members of the Ministry sitting in this chamber. I could not help making that passing remark in reference to the assertions of leading members of the Government and the manner in which, in another place, they falsified those representations of principle. I hope that their colleagues here will show a little more consistency and genuineness, and will vote for the preference to the United Kingdommade article which I have proposed.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority …… 16
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to.
Item 70. Hops, per lb., 6d.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [5.39]. - For the reasons I have already given, in the interests of preserving the consistency of the Ministry in securing the preference for trade with the United Kingdom, which is so very highly valued by the Prime Minister and the Treasurer, I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 70 by making the duty (imports from the United Kingdom), 4d. per lb.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 18
Question so resolved in the negative.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [5.45]. - Perhaps I have asked honorable senators to consent to too great a preference, and they are not prepared for a higher preferential rate than would be provided if the duty on imports from the United Kingdom were made 5d. per lb. Though I know that I am treading somewhat hardly on the corns of some of our extreme friends who represent an island where occasionally, in favorable seasons, a few hops are grown, we are aware that the bulk of the hops used in the Commonwealth are imported from other parts of the world, and I again propose to give the Ministry an opportunity to indicate the reality of their professions in respect to preferential trade between the United Kingdom. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 70 by making the duty (imports from the United Kingdom),5d.
– I wish to inform the Committee that I have missed three divisions, owing to the fact that the bells in the newspaper room of the library did not ring. I think I should be allowed to have my vote recorded in those divisions.
– It is not within my power to order the insertion of any honorable senator’s name in a division list.
.- The last was a somewhat important division, and I wish to say that an honorable senator representing a certain State, and who has been making pathetic appeals to protectionist senators on this side in respect to certain duties, had an opportunity a moment ago in respect of hops to show his own consistency, and instead he showed his inconsistency by walking out of the chamber, and not recording his vote. I have no doubt that this proposal for preference will not be carried. It is absurd to expect the Committee to agree to a duty giving Great Britain a preference of id. per lb. on hops, as that would mean id. per lb. less protection to an Australian industry.
. - As honorable senators are well aware, I do not strongly favour preference, and have more than once said that I will not vote for a preferential duty unless in respect of some item that is comparatively a necessary. I do not care very much to vote for a preference in respect to this item. But from the point of view of the Government, it should be said that if they mean anything by their policy of preference, this is essentially an article in connexion with which they might give a preference to Great Britain. According to the tabulated form before us the amount of duty paid on hops last year was £35,450, and I believe I am correct in saying that we import hops from two countries only, England and America.
– We import hops also from Bavaria.
– The Tariff Commission dealt with the question, and I may inform Senator Keating that while a certain quantity of Bavarian hops is imported because of the particular colour they give to the beer brewed with a mixture of hops, the Bavarian importations are not large, whilst a fairly large quantity of hops are imported from Great Britain. I think the criticism ought to be offered that the Government might have chosen the item hops as affording them an opportunity, if they desired one, to give a preference to Great Britain. They have proposed a preference in respect of many items from which the revenue - which of course indicates the amount of importation - has been comparatively trifling, if not infinitesimal. There is, comparatively speaking, a large revenue obtained under this item, as £35,000 is a very large revenue from any particular item. ‘
– £13,000 of which represents the value of importations from Great Britain.
– My point is that if the Government really wish to give a preference to Great Britain they have here an opportunity to do so by enabling British imports of hops to supplant those from other countries. I cannot understand the attitude of the Government in reference to this item. .
– The Government did not intend to offer a preference on every item. It made a selection.
– We should be given reasons for that selection. I cannot see any consistency in it. Preference has been offered on items which are unimportant compared with this, or where Great Britain’s opportunity of competing is almost non-existent. ‘
– In many .cases preference is now offered where originally no preference was proposed.
– We must take the schedule as it stands, and for us Senator Best’s attitude towards it is that of the Government. I wish to know why preference was not offered on this item?
– We preferred to encourage our own production.
– Then are we to understand that the Government proposes to give away nothing at all ; that there is not the shadow of a sacrifice iri its preference proposals?
– Whilst I admire the consistency of Senator Clemons on this matter, I wish to draw attention to the fact that there is probably more sweating in connexion with the picking of hops in Great Britain than in any other industry there.
– If the conditions are worse than those which, according to Senator E. J. Russell, prevail in some of the biscuit factories of Victoria, they must be very bad.
– Those employed are better off when they return from the hop-picking than they were when they went to it. ‘
– I have read of a ragged regiment of hop-pickers marching each year from the east of London to Kent, the accounts of their condition being enough to make one’s hair stand on end. They may ‘get a little fresh air whilst away from the metropolis, but apparently they get little else. Probably the labour employed in hop-picking in Tasmania is not over paid; but I hope that in the near future we shall be able to put this and every other industry in the Commonwealth on a better basis. At all events, our hop- pickers should not be brought into competition with the miserably paid labour of Great Britain.
– I have been given to understand that it is absolutely necessary to mix Australian with English hops to make good drinks, and I should like some information on the subject. I feel it my duty to vote for preference on this item, because I do not wish people to drink bad beer.
– To the best of my recollection, the evidence of the brewers who appeared before the Tariff Commission was that at times they use English hops in certain quantities, I think largely to improve the colour of the brew.
– Did they not say that they mostly mixed foreign hops with the Australian hops?
– The imported hops are used more for the sake of colour than for the sake of wholesomeness ?
– On the subject of hops the Committee might well fear to become a little mixed. The statistics before us show that we import hops from New Zealand more largely than from elsewhere. If New Zealand is to continue to have an advantage, the Tariff should be allowed to stand as it is ; but if the United Kingdom is to be given a preference, some such alteration as that proposed must be made. I should like to know on which leg the Government stands in this matter.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 70, “Hops,” by making the duty (imports from the United Kingdom) 5d. per lb. (Senator Colonel Neild’s request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Request (by Senator Colonel Neild) negatived -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 70 by making the duty (imports from the United Kingdom),5½d.per lb.
Item agreed to.
Item 71. Linseed, per cental, 2s.
Request (by Senator Colonel Neild) negatived -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 71 by making the duty (imports from the United Kingdom),1s. 6d. per cental.
Item agreed to.
Item 72 (Linseed for the manufacture of oil and cake) agreed to.
Item 73. Linseed meal, per cental, 4s.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [6.5]. - I should move a request for a preference duly in favour of the United Kingdom on this item were it not that the quantity oflinseed meal imported is so utterlytrumpery that it is not creditableto a Ministry to propose a duty that only returns £10 ofrevenue in a year. It is utterly paltry and contemptible, and I shall not take the trouble to propose a preference duty in respect ofso ridculous an item.
Item agreed to.
Item 74 (Linseed cake and oil cake) agreed to.
Item 75. Arrowroot, per lb.,1d.; and on and after 1st November, 1907,½d.
.- This item relates to an article of children’s food. I see no reason for it at all. Obviously it is not a protective duty.
– Arrowroot is a primary product.
– So is wheat, but that is no reason for putting a duty on it. I understood that honorable senators intended to be guided largely by the consideration whether duties were protective or otherwise. I do not think that any senator will argue that this is a protective duty. I object to revenue duties and therefore I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make item 75 free.
– I hope the Committee will not agree to SenatorClemons’ request. In the first place the duty proposed is no more than that which stood in the old Tariff, and so far my vote has been given to retain duties exactly as they were before. I point out incidentally that the industry of growing arrowroot is not a very small one in Queensland. Indeed in comparison with the importations it is large. Last year the importations amounted to 5,859 lbs. The production of arrowroot in Queensland since the last Tariff came into operation has been - in 1902, 192,702 lbs. ; in 1903, 683,883 lbs.; in 1904, 740,715 lbs. ; in 1905, 758,520 lbs. ; in 1906, the last year for which we have statistics available, 759,978 lbs. So that during the last three years the production of arrowroot in Queensland has held its own, though it has not made a great amount of progress. The industry is really a considerable one. It is entirely a white labour industry, and it has also attained sufficient stability to have been able to export to some extent. In 1906 we exported 4,700 lbs. to the United Kingdom, 1,000 lbs. to Canada, and 4,459 lbs. to the United States. I mention these facts to show that the industry is one that is just about holding its own. If we were to take off the small amount of duty which it has hitherto enjoyed serious injury would be done to it in my opinion. I also point out that in the Northern Territory the arrowroot plant thrives. It is not, however, the sameplant as isgrown in North Queensland, which is a variety of canna. The Northern Territory arrowroot belongs to themaranta variety of plants, and is known as the purple arrowroot. It grows freely and well in the gardens of Palmerston, and is even a. more valuable kind of arrowroot than that grown in Queensland.
– How much is grown in the Northern Territory ?
– I myself have seen half or three-quarters of an acre growing. It is a tuberous plant, and is a product the cultivation of which is likely to develop into a very considerable industry. Therefore I do not want honorable sena tors to vote under the belief that it is a paltry industry of a declining character. This amount of protection is really being given to an industry that has a great future before it.
– It seems to me that the figures quoted by Senator Chataway prove the contention of Senator demons that this is not a protective duty but merely a revenue impost. I agree, however, that arrowroot is a product that ought to be protected. I do not think that a duty of½d. is sufficient. Consequently, if SenatorClemons’ request is defeated, I shall propose that the duty be1d. per lb.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to make item 75, “ Arrowroot,” free (Senator Clemons’ request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 11
Question so resolved in the negative.
– For the reasons which I gave before the last division was taken I now move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 751d. per lb.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [6.19]. - According to the figures before us, this is one of the monumental efforts of legislation under which the Government have been staggering during the last eight or nine months, and the item under consideration is apparently one which produces the tremendous revenue of £19 in a year. A member of the Government appealed to me a few nights ago to refrain from proposing a preference duty because the amount involved was only a couple of hundred pounds. But here they are struggling after a trifling and we have before us a proposal to try to make the yield ^38. If this is the kind of legislation that we are to spend our time over, and if this is the spirit in which we are to” deal with matters affecting the country, it seems to me that the Committee is giving most admirable evidence of the capacity of its members to be entrusted with the administration of a huckster’s shop. I shall not take up any more time, but shall merely vote against this contemptible, miserable, and immoral proposal.
– I . think that the word “ immoral “ ought to be withdrawn.
– Certainly I will withdraw it, and will substitute the word detestable.
– I suppose that I shall be expected to vote for .the request, and I certainly should be prepared to support it if I thought that anything practicable would result. . But it seems .to me that as only ^19 was collected in respect of the old duty in 1906, our people are practically growing all the arrowroot consumed in Australia, whilst they are also engaging in the export trade. It would be farcical to divide the Committee on such a proposal as this ; to do so would be to bring the Senate into contempt. Nonsensical- demands for divisions are coming from honorable senators opposite. I should vote, for the request if I thought it would be advantageous to the Commonwealth ; but since I consider that to increase the duty would be to do injury to the consumers of arrowroot in Australia, I shall vote against an increase.
– I trust that Senator Story will see his way clear,, without further argument, to withdraw his request. The result of the duty under the Federal Tariff of 1902 must satisfy him that no further impost is required. It may be fairly and soundly said that at least the Australian producer of arrowroot has captured the market.
– And the’ producers ot many other things.
– Quite so; and I am glad that they have. Since a sum of only £ig was collected under the old duty in 1906, I think we ought not to impose any higher impost on a com modity that is used in almost every household. Throughout the afternoon, I have been voting side by side with Senator Story, and should not like a rupture to take place owing to action on his part. I therefore hope that he will withdraw his request.
– On the last division, I voted against the retention of the duty of Id. per lb., believing that the item a.s it stood was not worth fighting over. It has been pointed out that the old . duty yielded a revenue of only £ig in 1906, and I am therefore prepared to vote for the proposed request, believing that it will make the protection more effective. A duty of £d. per lb., which yields so small a revenue, is not worth maintaining ; but judging by the attitude of some honorable senators whose protectionist principles have geographic limits, the arrowroot industry in Queensland must be important. I therefore intend, to vote for the request in order that Queensland may have a chance to establish this industry on a firm basis.
– The Committee is entitled to hear what Senator Best is going to do in regard to this request.
– I shall support the proposal that the duty be increased to id. per lb.
– If the honorable senator is prepared to support the request on the grounds that have been adduced, he should be the last to complain of any debate on the Tariff.
– The honorable senator complained that an impost of Jd. per lb, was a revenue duty.
– I objected to any duty on an article of food, and said that all duties must be either protective or revenueproducing
– And that this was a revenue duty
– No; I knew what the figures were, and said nothing about them. Senator Best is practically inviting the Committee to debate the item.
– The honorable senator has indicated that he is going to support a request to vary the Tariff as it reached this Chamber: The duty of Jd. per lb. yielded the contemptible revenue of £19 in 1906, and the Vice-President of the Executive Council, in the interests, I understand, of protection, is proposing to support a request that it be increased to id. in order, perhaps, to prevent the importation of the arrowroot which the collection of £19 per annum represents.
– Only two things can happen; either the revenue collected must go up to £38 per annum, or it must disappear altogether.
– Quite so. I suppose that Senator Best objects to revenue being derived from a duty on arrowroot on the ground that all arrowroot consumed in Australia should be locally manufactured. Practically all that we consume is made in Australia.
– The £19 collected in respect of the duty represents an importation of several tons.
– A little over 2 tons.
- Senator Best’s attitude is discouraging to those who are anxious to expedite the passing of the Tariff; The request means a division, and invites a debate on an item yielding an annual revenue of £19.
– I did not invite am debate.
– Had the honorable senator indicated that he would oppose the request, and that he did not think it worth discussing, time would have been saved, and he would have facilitated the passage of the Tariff.
.- The Government support the recommendations of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission when it suits them to do so, and they have now an opportunity to stand by the recommendation of that section of the Commission in connexion with this item. The quantity of arrowroot imported by the Commonwealth is ‘ very trivial, and I am in a position to know where it comes from. It is of a quality that cannot be produced within the Commonwealth. In proof of my statement, I would point out that the imported article sells at double the price ruling ‘for the local production. We haw heard much of the desirableness of assisting the settlers in Fiji and the New Hebrides, and yet it is now proposed to raise the duty on an import from one of those islands which assists the missionaries and many of the Christian ladies working there. It seems incredible that for the sake of a revenue of £19 honor able senators should be prepared to shut out the importation of arrowroot from the islands.
– Where did this arrowroot come from?
– From the New Hebrides.
– The bulk of it came from New Zealand.
– It came through New Zealand. The item is a very small one, and the duty is of no benefit to Queensland or Australia.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.4.5 p.m.
– At an earlier period in this discussion an appeal was made .to Senator Story to withdraw his request. Apparently the reasons which were advanced why he should adopt that course have failed to have the desired effect. I wish to show why, with the concurrence of the Committee, he should withdraw his proposal. I do not for a moment anticipate that- he wishes to create any trouble in the Cabinet over this matter, ‘and that is possibly what he will do if he persists in his request, seeing that the proposal in another place to subdivide this item - which originally included macaroni and vermicelli - and to reduce the duty upon arrowroot to J’d. per. lb., was submitted by the Vice-President of the Executive Council’s own colleague, the Treasurer. Under these circumstances, it would be advisable for Senator Story to withdraw his request, and to allow the duty to remain at id. per lb.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [7.47]. - Just before the sitting was suspended a very severe attack was made upon the Minister in charge of this item because he had announced his intention of voting for the increased duty proposed. I wish to defend his action in that connexion. I do not think that he ought to be po violently assailed. He is merely fufilling the obligations of his office ; he is merely obeying the orders of those who vote with him, or - make things -unpleasant. We all saw him using his best endeavours to get this proposal withdrawn. We saw the volatile supporter of- the Government - Senator Trenwith - hanging over Senator Story with all the languor of an amorous maiden. “Please give me a penny, sir.” I really think that the Government have done everything in their power- and I am sure the supporter of the Government has done everything in his power- to secure a cancellation of the ukase that has gone forth ordering Ministers to support the proposed increase. In view of the statement of Senator Millen that the duty of Jd. per lb. was actually proposed bv the Treasurer, we cannot fail to recognise the extraordinary position occupied by the fifth wheel of the Ministerial coach - the Vice-President of the Executive Council - a functionary, by the way, who is unknown to the Commonwealth Constitution. We must recognise the extraordinary - position that has been created. The Treasurer is satisfied with his plaintive little £19 a year, and now, under direction, the Vice-President of the Executive Council, in real swashbuckler’s humour clamouring for the treasures of the Spanish main, demands no less than ^38. He will have it, and he is going to vote for it. Talk about comic opera. If Gilbert and Sullivan had only been alive to witness the extraordinary gyrations of this remarkable Ministry we might have had comic operas which would have become classics. What is the use of bothering about His Majesty’s ship Pinafore, when we have this sort of thing going on? In view of the disclosure by Senator Millen, the position before the Committee is one which demands a Ministerial explanation. I am sure that .the Vice-President of the Executive Council must see that an explanation i9 due to the Committee. Before we go any further we should know whether the will of the Treasurer is to have sway, or whether that of the Vice-President of the Executive Council is paramount.
Senator ST. LEDGER (Queensland) £7-52]- - * quite indorse the remarks of Senator Neild. I think that the reasons why this request should be withdrawn have been admirably set out by Senator Millen. It is imperative that the VicePresident of the Executive Council should clear up this difference of fiscal opinion between himself and the Treasurer. Do I understand that the former intends to insist upon a duty of id. per lb. ? I ask this question because an answer to it will enable us to understand our position. I take it that the silence of the VicePresident of the Executive Council is tantamount to affirming that he intends to get the id. per. lb. duty if he can. Of course,, it ma)’ be that he is compelled to ask for a duty of id. per lb. I do not know whether in this respect he is merely a political graphophone. If that is the attitude that he is going to take up, it reminds me very forcibly of a definition of a tiger which I read in my early years, and which was that it was an animal who when satiated with food was not satiated with blood and slaughter. It has been said that this Tariff was to be “ bullocked.” through another place.
– The honorable senator is determined to “stone-wall,” it.
– The people of the State who are most interested in this item have said through their representatives that they are satisfied with the duty imposed upon arrowroot by the House of Representatives. In other words, they are satisfied with fiscal food. They think it is a fair thing-
– Who do?
– The people of Queensland. Of course, if the other Queensland representatives like to join the ranks of the tigers they are at liberty to do so. We are satisfied with what .we think is fiscal food, and with what has proved to be a fairly beneficial duty. But I am not so much concerned with what other Queensland representatives intend to do as I am in ascertaining the mind of the Government upon this matter. There is one means of “bullocking” a Tariff through, and there is one means of meeting bullocking tactics.” I wish to know whether the Government, in addition to adopting the “bullocking” method, intend to adopt the “tiger” method? The Vice-President of the Executive Council remains absolutely silent. He will not reply to a- simple question from this side of the chamber. What is the reason underlying his conduct? Has he not” the courage to explain ?
– At the risk of being denominated a “ tiger,” I appeal to the Committee to vote for the request of Senator Story.
– The honorable senator is much more like Mary’s little lamb.
– I wish to inform the honorable senator who has just interjected that this is not a managerie lt is a deliberative assembly which is attempting to transact important business. One of my colleagues from Queensland has told the Committee that the representatives .of that State in this chamber are satisfied with the present duty.
– They are not. The higher duty was originally proposed at the request of the farmers of Queensland.
– ‘What is the position in regard to arrowroot ? A short time ago the duty upon that article was id. per lb., but it has since been reduced to Jd. per lb. Now let us see what was the position of the industry in Queensland when the former duty was operative. In 1906 Queensland produced 759,000 lbs. of manufactured arrowroot. It imported 288,000 lbs.
– Not of arrowroot, but of macaroni and vermicelli. Senator STEWART. - No, of prepared arrowroot. I take those figures from the annual report of the Department of Agriculture and Stock of Queensland for the year 1906-7.
– The total value of the imports in 1906 was only £111.
– According to the statement issued by “the Government, there were imported into Australia 5,000 lbs. of arrowroot last year. It is more than probable that within a very short time the agricultural industries in Queensland will be placed under the Wages Board system, and fair wages will be paid to the labourers. If the” duty is increased to id., and imports are wholly excluded, the growers will probably be able to pay decent wages without any particular struggle, but if the duty . is kept at Jd. and imports are encouraged, probably the labourers will have to bear the brunt of it. I am sure that the question of effective protection will be discussed by the Wages Board together with the question of wages, and on that ground I appeal to certain honorable senators to vote for a duty ‘of id.
– I support Senator Millen’s appea’l to the Government to allow the duty to remain at Id. The Minister said that he supported an increase to id. at the instigation of a Queensland senator.
– He did not. He said there was a petition from Queensland.
– The Queensland farmers asked for an increase. ‘ .
– It is evident that this application has been forced upon the Government through the influence of strong supporters on the other side. The Treasurer favours the continuation of -the old duty. Surely, then, the Minister in this
Chamber should not take it upon himself to advocate an increase, knowing that the duty only brings in £19 a year, and hasbeen sufficiently operative to prevent importation, while the industry is well established and prosperous, and, so far as we know, the labourers are paid fair wages.. The Minister is advocating this increased duty, not because he believes in it, but’ to placate his supporters. The Treasurer, who is one of the principal Ministers of the Crown, advocates .the old duty.
– The honorable senator should not talk like that, f he wants the item to be free.
– I do if I could get it, because the industry is sufficiently established to stand on its own legs and will be prosperous with or without a duty.
– Ministers in this Chamber are putting the Treasurer in a very difficult position in another place. That honorable gentleman, to save time, himself proposed that the duty should be £d. We have been wasting time on the question, and it is proposed to cause another waste of time in another place, which is the very .thing that the Treasurer, who is the author of the Tariff, wished to prevent.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [8. 11]. - I will use any influence that I may possess to extract even by legislative forceps some kind of explanation of the extraordinary position which the Minister takes up. The Treasurer is the Minister responsible for this measure, .and we were told by the press that he was to sit in the corner behind the Ministers in this Chamber, and instruct the Vice-President of the Executive Council what he was to do. But he has not turned up, and the Vice-President of the Executive Council is taking his orders from other people. In Hansard of 31 st October last, page 5445, will be found the brief discussion upon this item. The Treasurer distinctly moved that the duty should be d. After a brief speech from a Queensland member, and a still more brief one from a Tasmanian member, the amendment was agreed to and the item passed. Now the Minister, in this Chamber, rampantly announces his intention of voting against his senior colleague - the Minister responsible for the Bill. This involves a very serious prospect. If it involved only so utterly unimportant an. incident in the life of the Com- monwealth as the break-up of the Ministry, I should be pleased to give my support to Senator Story, but I have to consider other casualties and much more tragic propositions. I have to contemplate a conflict between the two Chambers arising out of the item, a dissolution of the two Chambers, and an appeal to the electors at a cost of £45,000 or more - all over a miserable item of £19 of duty. I do not know whether honorable senators and members of another place are anxious to rush before their constituents on the subject of £19 worth of duty, but if that is to be the outcome of this extraordinary complication, this Ministerial muddle, this parliamentary something or other -I should perhaps offend the Chairman if I used the word that was on my tongue - the thing is absolutely reprehensible in the interests of the public. A grand struggle was made by the Government the other day for a duty the revenue from which amounted to one shilling a week, and then the Minister berated us for wasting time ; but what in the name of common sense is the Minister doing now but wasting time in supporting a proposal which, to begin with, is probably entirely outside the Constitution ? I question very much whether it is a proposal that ought to emanate from this Chamber at all. If the matter went to the High Court, I have no doubt the Minister would receive the shock of his life.
– I must ask the honorable senator to confine himself to the question.
– I shall not continue that line of discussion, because I have said all I need on the subject; otherwise, I might feel disposed to- ask you, sir, to reconsider your view.
Question- That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 75, “ Arrowroot,”1d. per lb. (Senator Story’s request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … …. 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to.
Item 76. Macaroni and Vermicelli, per lb.,1d.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make item 76 free.
From the return, it would seem that the bulk of these imports come from Italy, and, to economize time, I simply submit the motion.
– Because, so far as my knowledge goes, these commodities are not made in Australia.
– Nonsense !
– They are made in Melbourne.
– And also in Western Australia.
– The Tariff Commission reports are our only guide, and I find in them no reference to the manufacture of macaroni or vermicelli in Australia.
– I can assure the honorable senator that I have seen these commodities made in Australia.
– I oppose this request, because I know that these commodities can be, and are being made, in Australia.
– I have seen them made at a place about 100 miles from Perth ; and I see no reason why they should not be manufactured in any State in the Commonwealth.
– Last year there was exported 167,000 lbs.
– As my desire is to encourage Australian products, I shall oppose this item being made free.
– Under the circumstances, I beg leave to withdraw the request.
– The honorable senator asks leave to withdraw the request ; is there any objection?
– I object.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 15
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to.
Item 77. Malt, including granulated, maize, and rice malts and roasted, orto refied barley, per cental, 6s.
Senator Colonel NEILD(New South Wales) [8.27]. - I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 77 by making the duty (imports from the United Kingdom), 5s. per cental.
My request represents a preference of1s. in favour of Great Britain. It is not necessary to repeat arguments; but I submit this proposal with a view to obtaining a specimen of the Government’s professions and assertions in the direction of granting preference.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 11
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to.
Item 78. Malt Extract, non-spirituous, including peptonized malt extract, per lb., 2d.
– This item is quite different from the last one,and if I am correctly informed it represents that kind of malt extract which is mostly used by invalids, and which is prescribed at times as a medicine.
– It is a medicine.
– I do not wish to exaggerate, but there is no doubt that it is often prescribed as a medicine, and it is perfectly safe to say that it is used as an invalid’s food . For those reasons I think that it should be made free. In my opinion we could not commit a greater mistake than to put a duty on medicines, no matter where they are made.
– But does not the honorable senator say that in respect of every item ?
– Yes, but for different reasons. Medicines stand on quite a different footing from other imports. I should be astonished to hear any honorable senator advocate the imposition of a duty on medicines. I am interested to learn what arguments can be adduced in favour of its imposition.
– The argument is that it would mean a cheaper medicine.
– The honorable senator ought to know that the more we impose duties on imported articles the lower their quality becomes.
– The more we impose duties the more the articles are made locally, and made well too.
– I am not concerned with the manufacture of articles locally, but with the fact that medicines ought to be made as cheap as possible to the people. I know that if medicines or other items are subjected to a heavy duty the result is to lower their quality when imported. At any rate, malt extract is essentially a food either prescribed by doctors or used by invalids, and even though it was taxed before, I can see no justification why it should be subject to a duty. Therefore I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make item 78 free.
– I hope that Senator Clemons will not induce the Committee to make the request. Malt extract has been subject to this duty since 1 90 1. So far as this document is concerned - and I know that I speak subject to the qualification of the honorable senator questioning its accuracy - it shows that both sections of the Tariff Commission recommended a duty of 2d. per lb.
– The free-trade section did not do anything of the sort.
– Even admitting that this is an incorrect expression of the opinion of what might be called the freetrade section of the Tariff Commission, still I think that if the arguments which the honorable senator has addressed to the Committee are sound, they would have prevailed with one or other section of the Commission, and no doubt the- Government would have had a recommendation to the effect that it was desirable that a medicine of this kind should be admitted duty free.
– No, the chief point was that on this item, as on hundreds of items, we had no evidence, and therefore made no recommendation.
– If it is important that medicines, including malt extract, should be exempted from duty in order that they should be made as free and accessible as possible to the public, surely it might be expected that one or other section of the Tariff Commission would have recommended, either iri general terms or in regard to specific items, that such a policy should toe adopted.
– We were recommending on evidence, and we had no evidence on this item.
– The fact that we import a certain quantity of non-spirituous malt extract which is used for medicinal purposes does not go to show that -it cannot be made in the Commonwealth. And so far as medicinal necessities are concerned, I think that the honorable senator and other members of the Committee will agree with me that it is desirable that we should control by our own legislation, and by the inspection which is carried out thereunder, as many of the manufactured foods and medicinal productions as we possibly can. It is our bounden duty to try, as far as possible, to” provide that our people shall only be supplied with these articles manufactured under conditions that we know and where we can to a very much greater extent guarantee their purity than we can with regard to imported products.
– -I do not intend to vote to make this item free, but I think that it ought to be included in Division IX., either under item 278;, “Drugs and Chemicals,” or under item 292, “ Medicines.”
– Malt extract is not a chemical, but a food.
– Peptonized malt extract is a medicine, and I do not see any reason why it should be included in item 78.
– In 1906, we exported nearly 20,000 lbs. of malt extract.
– It is made largely in the States.
– Senator Keating has asked the Committee to maintain this duty, because by that means we are likely to get purer malt extract. I do not want to disparage the efforts ‘ which may be made in the Commonwealth to put before the people not only pure medicines but also pure foods. But I remind the honorable senator that many of these articles - including probably this particular article - are passed as pure by the highest authorities in the English speaking world. Do what we will in Australia we cannot possibly exceed the efforts which are taken in England to maintain the purity of these articles, and we cannot hope to reach that standard for many years to come. I certainly want to see things made pure, but I cannot assent to the suggestion that if we do not maintain this duty impure malt extract will be imported. I assure Senator Keating that nothing is more unlikely than that.
– We can -make more certain of the purity of what is made under our own eyes.
– We can never make more certain of the purity of these articles than is done in England at the present time. I do not want to disparage local efforts to make all these things pure, but our head is becoming too large if we say that in matters of purity we can go beyond the stage which has been arrived at in England, where the greatest care and vigilance are exercised in regard to all these products.
– If the duty were removed malt extract would come in chiefly from England.
– It would come in chiefly from England as it now does.
– Did not the honorable senator assert that the imposition of high duties had a tendency to lower the quality of imported commodities?
– Of course it has.
– That is what Senator Keating was arguing against.
– He did not say anything of the kind, but spoke about the purity of Australian articles. Practically we import all our malt extract from the United Kingdom. The only other imports we got in 1906, came from New Zealand, and it is almost certain that they were a transfer of some English product to us. From Germany we got £7 worth, and from Japan £2 worth - no doubt accidental consignments on board some boat. In 1906 our imports from the United Kingdom were valued at £2,618, and weighed 114,517 lbs., the duty coming to £988. If the duty were raised from 2d. to1s. a lb. malt extract would still be imported and used by invalids and sick persons. Even if the duty were raised to 2s. 6d. a lb. it would be imported from England because the doctors would know that the imported article would be pure. I do not mean to say that it is not made pure here; I shall be glad to hear that it is so made. I cannot see why we should compel users of malt extract to pay a duty, because its use is ordered in times of emergency, stress, and sickness.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [8.44]. - I have just made a discovery of rather a serious character in this Government publication which is put before us for our use. I have taken the trouble to check the accuracy of some calculations of the amounts of duty received, and in every case where I have made a calculation the figures are wrong. I have not had time to check the amount of duty alleged to have been received from this particular item ; but in view of the fact that in certain cases the figures have been wrong I should like an adjournment in order that all the figures may be checked because evidently we are being utterly misled. If the Department is careless in simple calculations mercy only knows the inaccuracy of the figures which are being put before us generally. That I may be clearly understood I will, without arguing the matter, merely state the facts. We dealt just now after prolonged discussion with an amount of duty alleged to be £19. Any one who makes the calculation will see that the amount should not be £19 but £12 4s. 2d.
– There may have been a quantity left in bond.
– Only a little time ago we dealt with an item in connexion with which it is stated that the amount of duty was £10, and the smallest schoolboy with a knowledge of the simplest rules of arithmetic might see that the amount should not be £10 but £6 6s. I admit that these are very small items, but the fact that they are incorrect leads me to discredit every one of the figures that have been put before us. If the Department carelessly or wilfully misleads the Committee in respect of small items, what possible reliance can be placed on the larger figures submitted to us. I shall make it my business to check as many of these items as I possibly can, as in my opinion the matter is far too serious to be treated with the light-hearted jocularity with which one or two honorable senators are inclined to regard it.
– Though perhaps the statement is indefensible, the explanation is that the amount of duty is given, not upon the quantity imported, but upon the quantity cleared from bond.
– That makes no difference.
– It makes the figures right, but the Government wrong. Is not that the honorable senator’s point ?
– That the Government are wrong does not require discussion. It is a matter of fact.
– According to Senator Millen the statement appears to be correct. The full amount of duty chargeable upon the importations is not put down, but only the duty collected.
– When Senator Trenwith is a Minister, he may make his explanation, but until then he should not attempt to play the rôle of one. I do not care what explanations are attempted in connexion with this matter, the inaccuracies to which I have referred cause me to discredit the whole of the figures. If the explanation is that suggested by Senator Millen, it is perfectly clear that these figures absolutely misrepresent the facts, and are utterly deluding. I have been acting upon them in the belief that they were true, and I find, so far as I have gone, that they are a bundle of lies. I am not disposed to mince the matter. T think it is a shocking state of affairs, because, although as regards the smaller items the difference is paltry, with respect to the larger items, it becomes most serious. We have spent hours discussing figures that admittedly are grossly inaccurate and misleading. Senator Trenwith simply holds himself up to public ridicule by stating his belief that these patented foods included in item 7S can be made more pure here than by the finest chemists in Great Britain. Because thev are made in an iron shanty in a back lane in Collingwood we are invited to believe that they are likely to be better than when manufactured by the patentees in some of the greatest manufacturing chemical laboratories in the world. The thing is preposterous.
– I wish to reassure Senator Neild, and I hope to save him the trouble he proposed to give himself in checking these figures.
– - -I intend to check them. No explanation can get away from what we have here in print.
– Honorable senators will find in the statement before them that in the last column but one there is given the “ value or quantity of imports for 1906.” That is to say, the actual importations into the Commonwealth of the different articles referred to. But it does not always follow that all the importations within a particular calendar year are cleared from the Customs during that year. In the next column there is given a statement of the amount of duty actually received during the year in respect of each item. But it does not follow necessarily that it bears a proper proportion to the total importations. It might be that in one calendar year a certain quantity of a particular imported article would be left in bond. On the other hand, it might happen that in. the early portion of a particular calendar year there would be heavy clearances from bond of goods imported in the previous year. That is how the apparent discrepancies arise. It was thought tetter to give the actual importations rather than the actual clearances for the year, and it was also thought desirable that the actual revenue received for the year should be given rather than that a calculation should be made of the total duty payable on the actual importations. f>8l]-2
– Does the honorable senator believe that there was any thought about it at all ? Does he not think that in making the statement the long established practice of the Customs Department in connexion with other returns was followed?
– Very likely. It would, probably have been found very much more confusing to have calculated the duty payable on the whole of the importations in a- particular year.
– It would also have been more misleading because some of the articles imported might subsequently be exported.
– Honorable senators will see that it is more convenient that a statement should be made of the duty received on goods which have been actually cleared from bond.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [8.55]. - The Minister’s explanation does not get over the difficulty. He has said that there may be in the beginning of a particular year heavy clearances of goods imported in the previous year. But according to the explanation there would be payments due in each year practically in excess of the quantity imported, since two years’’ importations. might be dealt with for the purpose of estimating the duty collected in one year.
– Not necessarily.
– The balance of importations not cleared would ‘be car..ried on to the next year. I have had too much to do with bonded goods and the payment of duties not to know what I am talking about. We have had no word of explanation to account for these misleading figures, and the matter was never referred to until I found it out.
– Other persons found it out before the honorable senator.
- Senator McGregor finds out ever v thing but his own folly.
– Is it of any consequence ?
– It is of the greatest consequence, because the figures as given . are utterly misleading. We have had two hours’ debate based on certain figures which now appear to be perfectly fictional. I have said that as regards the smaller items the matter is not of much consequence, but the statement is seriously misleading in -connexion with the larger items, of which there are a great many.
Question - That the House of Representativesbe requested to make item 78, “Malt Extract,” free (Senator Clemons’ request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 12
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 78 by making the duty (imports from the United Kingdom),1d. per lb.
I submit this request, because as Senator Clemons has clearly stated, this article is necessary as a medicine.
– It is just the same sort of medicine as chicken broth is.
– The honorable senator can interpret it according to his own judgment, but the fact remains that the ablest medical men in Australia prescribe this article for invalids and children.
– Just as they do Queensland arrowroot, and a hundred other things.
– The whole of the imports come to us from the United Kingdom, and we can be sure that they are manufactured under conditions insuring purity and excellence. If the Government really believe that a preference should be given to imports from the United Kingdom, I have a right to claim their support for a preference in connexion with this item.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 9
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to.
Item 79. Matches and Vestas of all kinds : -
– This is a much more important item than any of thosewhich we have recently passed. In my opinion, the making of matches cannot be regarded as a desirable industry to establish in Australia, no matter what wages may be paid to those employed in it. I should be sorry for men to be tempted into this employment by high wages.
– Is not the work done chiefly by girls ?
– That, to some extent, makes the position worse. Australia should devoutly desire to see the match-making industry removed elsewhere.
– Match-making can be carried on without many of the drawbacks generally attendant upon it.
– As carried on in Victoria,, there is no such thing as “ phossy-jaw “ among the employes, but elsewhere those who are employed in the industry die early from phosphorus poison.
– The honorable senator strains our credulity when he asks us to believe that we in Australia can work miracles. Not long ago, at an international, conference held at Berne, the labour representatives Of France, Germany, Holland, Denmark, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Italy - men who represent labour adequately, earnestly, and honestly - decided in favour of the prohibition of the use of white phosphorus in those countries’.
– White phosphorus has not been used in Sweden for a long time.
– The matches made in Sweden are wooden. I am talking of the wax vestas, into whose composition white phosphorus so largely enters. The only match-making factory in Australia is situated in Richmond, Victoria, and is a branch of Messrs. Bell and Company’s English factory. That firm and Messrs. Bryant and May are the chief makers of wax vestas. These two firms have openly combined tq regulate prices, and the prices charged for the matches made in Melbourne are regulated in, accordance with the price of imported matches, statistics showing clearly that the price of the local matches is always kept just within that of the imported matches. The profits made from the industry are admitted to be enormous. It has been asserted that the Melbourne, factory has made ,£10,000 by reason of this Tariff alone. The sum it pays in wages is about £3,000 per annum, tho cost of labour being small in comparison with the cost of the manufactured article. It is common knowledge that the retail price of matches has increased considerably under this Tariff. Figures that are the result . of a close study of the question show that the increase of duty has caused the community to pay at least £90,000 a year more for its matches. Of course, (hat amount is spread over the users of matches throughout the Commonwealth ; but are protectionists so desirous of going to extremes that they are willing to put the community to the expense of ,£90,000 to establish an industry which pays only £3,000 a year in wages? The duty is equal to 60 or 70. per cent, ad valorem. Moreover, the users of matches are virtually being cheated by the Melbourne manufacturers, a fact which any one can verify for himself by buying a box of matches and counting the contents. Any one who does so will find that the local boxes contain less than forty matches. I have made the experiment with three boxes, two procured in Victoria, and a third in Tasmania. I found that the boxes purchased in Victoria “contained twenty-nine matches each; and that purchased in Tasmania thirty-one matches.
– By whom is it asserted that the boxes should contain forty matches each ?
– It is not asserted by those who sell the boxes that each contains forty matches : but it is the recognised practice of the trade that these boxes shall contain on the average fortyfive matches, and a few years ago al I. the match-boxes that one bought contained ;at least forty-five matches.
– That was when a box of matches could not be bought for less than id.
– It was at a time when ‘several boxes could be bought for id. But I say again that, according to trade usage, there should be a certain number of matches in each of these boxes.
– If they have whittled down the number to thirty, it is most unfair.
– They have whittled down the number. These round boxes are supposed to cont’ain forty-five matches; what they call in the trade a royal box, which is flat in shape, is supposed to contain eighty-five ; and the No. 4, an oval tin box, is supposed to contain 145. I have only tested the ordinary round box. and I ask Senator Dobson to test it for himself.
– There is a fortune in the shortage, alone.
– There may be, but even if the manufacturers in Australia were to give the full number. of matches in the box. there would be a fortune remaining to them under the present duty.
– The honorable senator makes these statements, but he has no figures to prove them.
– What figures does the honorable senator want?
– Every one of us would like evidence to support statements like that.
- Senator Trenwith ought to know, if he knows anything about this matter at all, that there is a certain trade estimate holding force as between the seller, and he will get this statement conout the slightest doubt - he can inquire of any one engaged in the match industry as awholesale seller, or possibly as a retail seller, and he will get this statement confirmed - that the recognised trade contents are for round boxes 45, royal or flat boxes 35, No. 4 oval tin boxes 145. Let him test that statement in any shop at which he purchases. I have tested it for myself as to the round boxes. I do not speak of the others, but I presume that the same shortage may be found there. The duty, as Ihave already said, means at the present tirne from 60 to 70 per cent., varying with the kind of match that is purchased. I want to remind the Committee that this question of the protection of wax matches arose only incidentally. When matches were first taxed in Victoria it was not with a view of protection at all.
– It was to keep them out.
– It was to keep out wax matches.
– With whom was that the object?
– Possibly Senator Best or Senator McColl may have been a member of the Victorian Tariff Commission of 1895 which went into the question.
– I introduced the Victorian Tariff of 1896. which had a protectiveincidence as applied to matches.
– I will read an extract from the report of that very Victorian Protectionist Tariff Commission.
– I am not referring to the Commission but to the Tariff itself.
– I am speaking of the report of the Victorian Tariff Commission, which was composed almost entirely of protectionists. I want to show how this duty arose.
– The honorable senator’s statement is not correct; they were not entirely protectionists.
SenatorCLEMONS.- Was a free-trader actually allowed to live in Victoria, let alone be 3 member of a Commission? He must have been a curiosity, and certainly must have been in a minority.
– That isright.
– This is what the report says -
It will be remembered that when safety matches were made free of duty, the tax was left on wax matches, neither for revenue nor protective purposes, but to discourage their use, at it was considered that in this country they were a source of danger.
Surely Senator Best would not deny that.
The result of the duty has been to encourage the establishment of a local factory. A wellknown firm of British makers has found it more profitable to manufacture in the Colony than to pay the Victorian duty.
– Hear, hear.
– Of course they would. The report goes on -
The tax has, therefore, had a wholly unlookedfor effect. It must, however, be stated that, apart from the establishment of this factory, the tax has failed as a prohibitory measure, wax vestas being so generally in demand that large quantities were imported notwithstanding the heavy duty….. Objection has been taken by the local maker to the importation of matches with an advertisement of some other business than that of the maker printed on the box. These matches can be sold by the persons advertised at cost price, or even at a loss, the advertisers deriving their profit from the advertisement.
As to that matter of advertising I would remind the Committee that in addition to the ordinary duty on matches and vestas, we have imposedan additional duty on boxes with matter thereon, advertising any commodity other than the matches contained therein. We have imposed a duty under the general Tariff of 7d., with a preference so faras England is concerned amounting to1d. The position with regard to advertising boxes is this: The method of advertising on match boxes has been largely used in the past by, amongst other people, Victorian manufacturers of tobacco, who have imported wooden matches and have had the printing, which represents the advertising of their business, done elsewhere. But under this Tariff there is a duty on such boxes, and the result has been that in the case of one of the chief brands of tobacco made in the Commonwealth the manufacturers - the great Trust - have decided that they can no longer advertise in that manner. They are going to give up advertising their tobacco or match boxes. So far as I am concerned I have no love for any branch of this Tobacco Trust, and do not care whether they advertise or not. Imerely state the fact as an incidental effect arising out of the duty. But the chief objection I have to this match-manufacturing business is this - that to a certain extent the duty will encourage the manufacture of wax matches in Australia. I have said before, and repeat, that I do not think it ought to be encouraged on any terms whatever. It is a bad thing for us to have a single boy or girl employed in such- an industry if we can find people in any other part of the world to carry it on.
– Can’ it not be .carried on without injury to the work people ?
– To all intents and purposes it cannot. It is a bad industry to have in Australia.
– That is a very emphatic statement to make.
– I make it earnestly, and with as full a knowledge as I could get of the conditions. From my point of view it would be better for Australia if she had nothing to do with the manufacture of matches.
– Burn the bodies and souls of the foreigner, but save our own.
– I say that the foreigner ought to be able to look after himself just as we can. Is it not quite fair for me to use that as an argument when I am dealing with Australian conditions? If we can get our matches made elsewhere rather than condemn our own people to such employment it is a good thing to do. I have no shame about making such a statement. Other peoples can look after their own affairs. I am pleading on behalf of the girls employed in our match factory here - and we have only one. That is my chief reason for opposing any duty on matches. Secondly, I say - and I offer these figures without the slightest hesitation as being approximately correct - that the total added cost to the consumers if this duty is carried will be, cn the estimate of consumption for last year, somewhere about £90,000 annually. I also state as a fact that the employment of labour at the present time represents about £3,000, however the labour is paid for. I say, further, that the proportion of labour cost in manufacture - though I cannot quote exact figures - is comparatively small.
– Has there been any case in connexion with the industry in Australia iai which injury to the work people was proved?
– I have no evidence on that point, or I would give it.
I can only state what’ has occurred in . connexion with every factory in the United Kingdom and elsewhere.
– Are insurance premiums higher for people engaged in the match factory?
– I am afraid that the people engaged in a match factory are not likely to be such as would insure.
– They cannot afford it.
– I do not suppose that they can.
– Is the death rate high ?
– The figures, which I have seen with regard to match factories in other countries are sufficient to make us desire that the industry shall not be carried on here. If I had the figures with regard to the. local factory I would give them. It is of course a comparatively, recent factory and does not conduct its business on a very large scale. But so far as the manufacturers have been producing matches they have been producing and selling them at a price that is determined entirely by the price of imported matches.
– The price of matches has not been raised since the introduction of the new Tariff.
– With regard to the price under the new Tariff, I venture to tell Senator Needham that he would not be able to-morrow, in Melbourne, to enter into a contract with the local factory for the purchase of matches. They will not enter into any contract for the supply of matches in any considerable quantity at any price. They decline to make any contract until they know what the duty under this Tariff is going to be.
– Of course they do.
– What is that but a frank admission that they want to see what profit the new Tariff will enable them to make?
– They will not make a contract of any magnitude until they know what duty they are to get; and if the duty were struck off altogether, they would decline to carry on.
– I have said nothing the accuracy of which I am not prepared to guarantee. When I have not been ready to make a statement definitely, I have said that the figures were approximate.
The profits of these manufacturers are £10,000 a year. I challenge Senator Trenwith to disprove that.
– What capital have they ?
– I do not know what capital they have invested in this industry, but the local factory is a branch of the firm of Bell and Company, a very large firm in England which is working in conjunction with Bryant and May.
– The honorable senator ought to know what capital they have to make their profit on.
– They are making £10,000 a year on the sale of quite an unimportant part of the total quantity of matches consumed in Australia; and they are making the profit on a labour expenditure of £3,000 a year. Is that fact any guide to the honorable senator?
– It is a very important factor.
– Does not the honorable senator know the capital of the firm?
– No; I should like to know.
– The honorable senator knows their profit, but not their capital ; one fact is useless without the other.
– They did not come before the Tariff Commission to give evidence. We had not before us a representative of any match-making firm asking for an increased duty.
– There is very little information in the Tariff Commission’s report with regard to the industry.
– Because we could not get it.
– Did the Commission ask for it?
– We askedany manufacturer in the Commonwealth who had any grievance to come before us and state it. We could not single out any particular manufacturer, but the invitation was general, andrepeated. The result was that the match manufacturers did not appear.
– Did not the Commission summon any witnesses ?
– Why should we summon any ? We had too much to do to summon people concerned in any particular industry in Australia.
– Did the Commission summon any witnesses at all on any question?
– Of course we invited any one who had any statement to make to come and make it.
– Did the Commission summon any one ?
– If the Commission had spent its time in inviting witnesses from all parts of Australia, it would have been sitting till Doomsday. There was no section of the Commission who wanted to rake up witnesses willing or unwilling. But an invitation was cordially extended and accepted in ninety-nine cases out of one hundred where there was any grievance to be stated.
– The protectionist section of the Commission certainly had sufficient to justify its recommendation that a duty of1s. 6d. per gross should be imposed in respect of the very same item.
– They had not a tittle of evidence-
– They must have acted intelligently.
– I amnot suggesting that they did not. What I do say is that they had no evidence on which to base the recommendation for a duty. The only evidence came from a witness-
– Who had had very little experience of Western Australia.
– Exactly. It was the evidenceof one individual who represented, I suppose, the consumers in Western Australia, but had nothing whatever to do with the manufacture or sale of matches.
– Was that a man named Le Mesurier?
– Yes, he gave evidence with reference to a dozen different items. That was the only testimony before the Commission with regard to matches. If this industry demanded additional protection, and was worth the name, surely the manufacturers here would have appeared before the Commission to ask for it.
– The local manufacturer does not want any more ; it suits him to have the old duty in operation.
– Then whom are we suiting by imposing the additional duty ? I strongly suspect that the local manufacturer did not come before the Commission to ask for an increased duty, because he did not want an inquiry into the conduct of his business. There were many men who, after giving their evidence, came to the conclusion that they would have done better had they stayed away. Such testimony can be found scattered broadcast throughout the Minutes of Evidence. As to Messrs. Bell and Company, I think that they deliberately avoided giving evidence; that in the first place, they did not want an increased duty, and secondly that they did not wish to run the risk of having the existing duty removed. I hope that the duty will be taken off, arid therefore move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make Item. 79, paragraph a, free.
– Senator Clemons has quoted the report qf a Victorian Tariff Commission which took evidence anterior to the last Victorian Tariff.
– It was the last Commission.
– It was the last Tariff Commission appointed in Victoria, but it took evidence anterior to the passing of the Tariff which Senator Best, as a member of the Victorian Government, introduced in the Legislative Assembly. It was dealing with the history of the duty on matches before that1 Tariff was disposed of ; but arising out of that Commission’s report, and the knowledge that the Victorian Parliament had’ of the desire of the. people of the State, a duty of rs. 6d. per gross was imposed on wax vestas in round boxes. Senator Clemons says that ever since the imposition of that duty prices have been higher.
– I did not.
– I understood the honorable senator to .say that the effect of the duty was to increase the price of matches.
– Not at all. The price of matches has fallen continuously. What I say is that the effect of this increase will be to increase the price of matches - that it has already done so.
– The facts are that in Melbourne imported matches were sold to the retailers at 4s. 6d. per gross before the imposition of the protectionist duty of which I am speaking. The effect of the competition between the importer arid the local manufacturer was that not merely locally-made but imported matches were told at 4s. per gross, and subsequently for less than that. Ultimately, wax matches such as used to be imported and sold wholesale at 4s. 6d. per gross could be bought retail in the shops at the “rate of 3s. per gross.
– They became cheaper than that.
– Then that is an answer to the argument that the effect of this duty will be to increase the price of wax matches. Duties in the past have reduced the cost. With reference to the desirableness of having wax vestas in the Commonwealth, I am inclined to think that they are a constant menace ; but their, prohibition can be achieved by another method. If, however, we are to use wax matches - if we are to have the danger involved by their indiscriminate use - we had better have them made locally than made abroad. Senator Clemons points with perfect accuracy to the awful conditions under which wax vestas are made abroad. It is impossible to exaggerate the frightful consequences that ensue to workers in wax match factories in other parts of the world ; but the question is do those conditions prevail here. If we were just introducing the industry, reference to the conditions abroad might be of weight, but we have had the industry in Victoria for at least from fourteen to sixteen years,
– Under a Wages Board determination?
– And other provisions and restrictions. 1 lived for years within a stone’s-throw of the Richmond factory, and had an intimate knowledge of the people who are now working in it. I say Without hesitation that so far as I am aware there has not been a single instance during the whole time of injurious effects to the workers through handling phosphorus.
– The honorable senator would not be likely to hear of any.
– Surely, having regard to the position I occupied, I would have heard of any such case.
– As a representative of the district.
– Representing as I. did during the whole of the time the interests of the workers, surely I, living close at hand, would have heard of any case that occurred ? But I repeat that I have not heard any one say that they have directly or indirectly heard of any ill effects to the workers in the factory in Victoria.
– When- I inspected it six years ago and made inquiries I heard of no complaints.
– The .firm have now built an entirely new factory. The factory which they erected in Swan-street, Richmond, in their opinion was inadequate for Victorian requirements as to the health of and proper provision for the workpeople. They then built an entirely new factory, very much larger and more amply provided with opportunities for cleanliness, light, air and all the necessary requisites to guard against the ill effects of working in such an industry.
– Is Messrs. Bell and Company a limited company here?
– Messrs. Bell and Company,’ of Melbourne, are Messrs. Bell and Company, of London; I do not know what legal position they occupy here but whether matches are made here or not we shall have in the Commonwealth matches made by Bell and Company. The argument presented by Senator Clemons was that the industry itself, apart from all considerations of whether matches are dearer or cheaper, whether the wages are high or low, was of such a character that it was unwise to have it in Australia. . I am dealing just now with that particular aspect of his argument, and have shown, I think, that the usual free-trade contention that the duty would enhance the cost has been disproved - by our experience. What has happened in the past we may confidently assume will happen from the same causes in the near future; therefore if the duty did not increase the cost when it was first imposed in this State, there is no reason to assume that it will now do so. As to the desirableness of the industry, I have no hesitation in saying that, on humane grounds - for humanitarian considerations - it is very much ‘better to have the industry in Australia than to use matches that are the result of an industry carried on abroad under conditions that are appallingly horrifying, and shock our common humanity.
– What is the particular feature of the industry abroad ?
– In the first place, the hours of . labour are longer.
– But it is the question of poison that we wish to get at.
– If a compound is injurious, the longer one is subjected to its influences obviously the more injurious must be its effect, so that the hours have some bearing on this phase of the question. Longer hours, overcrowding, lack of cleanliness, and proper supervision for cleanliness, as well as of regulations that compel cleanliness, are conditions which prevail in the Old World, where, according to reports of individuals, and even of Commissions that have inquired into the subject, “ phossy-jaw “ prevails.
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that the conditions prevailing in ‘Messrs. Bryant and May’s factory in England are not equal to those prevailing here?
– They are not by a long way.
– Obviously they are not. There are awful reports about the conditions of the workers in the factories of Messrs. Bryant and May and Messrs. Bell and Company in the Old World.
– Those are the people whom the honorable senator is supporting.
– No; I am supporting the local industry.
– Which is carried on by Bell and Company.
– It is a mere incident that- Messrs. Bell and Company are the parties engaged here. It. is rather an advantage that a firm carrying on operations where they are uncontrolled - under conditions which create awful results to the workers - should be compelled by any circumstances to manufacture where they are under supervision, and where the conditions abroad, which are so horrible, cannot prevail. Senator Clemons stated that the duty proposed would cost the community £90,000 annually, and he also declared that the firm in question was making the enormous profit of £10,000 per annum. But he proved that he was hardly warranted in making the statement which he did, because ‘ when he was asked what amount of capital was invested in the industry, he replied that he did not know.
– I said that the firm were making a profit of £10,000 per annum.
– But in order to calculate the amount of profit they are making the honorable senator must know the amount of capital invested, because interest ‘ upon capital is a very important factor. I doubt whether he can have made an accurate calculation without having all the material facts to guide him. He stated that the firm were making a profit of £10,000 annually.
– There is no sin in mak ing a profit.
– If an importer makes large profits, he is called a prince of commerce, but if a manufacturer makes large profits he is immediately dubbed a greedy robber of the people.
– The honorable senator knows very little about the matter. As a rule importers make very small profits, whereas manufacturers make very large ones.
– I do not intend to deal with this question at any greater length. I speak with some knowledge upon it, because I was a member of the Commission which inquired into the operation of the “Victorian Tariff, and I have been a close observer of the way in which the wax match-making industry in this State has been carried on. As a result of my observations I say that since the imposition of a duty upon matches, their price to the consumer has been materially diminished. Further, conditions which obtain in the industry here are not productive of the bad results which accrue elsewhere. By way of interjection Senator Dobson completely destroyed Senator Clemons’ statement in regard to the size of the wax match boxes. Senator Clemons declared that the boxes “purport” to hold 40 matches, but did not. He then affirmed that there were trade understandings. We are to assume, therefore, that in times past trade understandings did operate, but that the merchants who now deal in matches have no power to compel the observance of such understandings. The wax match box, ever since I have had any knowledge of it, has always reminded me of a sausage, in that its contents are very much of a mystery. It is a very common experience for a man to purchase a box of matches from a lad in the street, and upon opening it to discover that it is only half filled. That, however, does not prove that the manufacturers haw been guilty of cheating. It merely shows either that the full complement had never been placed in the box or that a leakage had afterwards occurred. In conclusion, I would point out that’ the locally-produced round match box does not afford any greater opportunity for cheating than does the imported round box.
– I do not wish a division to take place upon this item immediately, because I have no desire to again debate it when I submit another proposal. The reason why very little, evidence was taken by the Tariff Commission concerning the match-making industry is very obvious. In the first place Messrs. Bell and Sons had no desire to appear before that body, because they are perfectly satisfied with existing conditions.
– So they ought to be.
– So they are. But I am not satisfied with those conditions, nor are a great many other persons in the Commonwealth. ‘ In the second place there were no other manufacturers to appear before the Commission. How then could Senator Clemons expect that evidence of the kind he desired would be forthcoming? But any amount of information could have been obtained by the individual members of the Tariff Commission, and the protectionist section of it took every pains to .gather ‘all that they could.
– What, sworn evidence ?
– There are a number of ways of obtaining evidence. Before I conclude mv remarks, I will give reasons why the Committee should refrain from supporting Senator Clemons’ proposal. I entirely agree with those who object to the manufacture, importation, or use of wax matches in Australia, simply because of the danger attendant upon their use in a country like this. The matches that I desire to see produced in the Commonwealth are the safety matches, the manufacture of which, even in other countries, has not been attended with the evil results which are associated with the manufacture of wax matches there. If a reasonable duty be. imposed upon- this item, I know that the manufacture of these safety matches could be established in Australia-
– Messrs. Bell and Company contemplate making them.
– I think that they could be manufactured here, because their manufacture in another country very similarly situated - I refer to Natal - was commenced some time ago. The argument has been used that it is not possible to carry on the manufacture of safety matches profitably in Australia because we do not possess the requisite timber. But I would point out that neither Natal, Great
Britain, Sweden, nor Denmark possess the necessary timber. The best timber used in the manufacture of safety matches is grown in Central Europe. In England it is known as ‘’ poplar,” and on the Continent as “ aspen.” Senator Clemons has stated that the. duty upon matches costs the people of the Commonwealth £90,000 annually.
– The new duty will cost them that.
– How can the honorable senator say that when he does not know whether the manufacture of matches will be established here.
– I say that that does n.ot matter, because the industry is controlled by a combine which determines the prices to be charged.
– Messrs. Bell and Company are not the only people in the world, and it is because they are satisfied with the present duty, and do not want to be called upon to face increased competition, that ‘they do not agitate for a higher duty. But how the .duty can cost the consumers £90,000 a year, seeing that the value of our importation of matches averages only about £130,000 a year, I am at a loss to understand. Since the Commonwealth was established, the value of our importations of matches has ranged from £113,000 to £160000 per annum. The price of matches would have to be doubled to make the statement of Senator Clemons anything like correct.
– Does the honorable senator know the price of matches, f.o.b., London ?
– Yes ; I will, tell the honorable senator their price here as well as the price in other countries. I wish to show that on account of that price it is absolutely necessary that we should grant a sufficient measure of protection to enable the industry to be started in Australia. Then I am sure the price to the consumer would not be greater than it is now. The price f.o.b. in Sweden is nd. a. .gross.
– I am dealing with wax matches.
– I have no concern with the manufacture of wax matches. I do npt want them manufactured here or anywhere else. My object in increasing the duty is to make possible, the manufacture of wooden matches under healthy Australian conditions.
– Then do not dispute my figures, which related, chiefly to wax marches.
– The £130,000 includes wax and every ‘ other kind of matches. Senator Clemons made an extravagant calculation without going, into the subject as carefully as he usually does. In fact, it was not a calculation, but only a guess or declaration.
– It was nothing of the sort. I have the figures, and will disprove every word the honorable senator says.
– It is a fact the t for the last five years the value imported per year ranged from £113,000 to £160,000, so that a fair average would be £130,000 a year. Matches would have to be nearly doubled in price for Senator Clemons’ statement to be correct.
– They have been nearly doubled in price.
– They have not. They have been cheaper since the Commonwealth was established than they were before.
– Not in New South Wales.
– New South Wales is always behind. I shall tell the Committee the value of matches in other countries as compared with their price here, to show the necessity for protecting the industry in Australia. We are not getting the benefit of the cheapness of matches in other countries. Even apart from the duty, the prices that we have been charged are exorbitant. I can furnish proof that the price f.o.b. in Sweden and Denmark, is nd. a gross. Adding 6d. for the duty that existed before this Tariff was introduced would make is. 56. a gross. Making a fair allowance for the cost of bringing them here, what do the consumers in Australia have to pay for them ? I can prove that within the last two years matches from Japan were offered in Victoria at 9#d. a gross c.i.f. That means free, landed in Melbourne, and shows that they were exported f.o.b. in Japan at about 7d. What are the consumers paying for them in Australia? Who is making the profit? It is not the consumers. If we put a reasonable duty on matches they would be manufactured here. I am credibly assured that they can be manufactured in Australia under Australian conditions, with Australian wages pa d under Factories Act or Arbitration Act conditions, for is 4½d. a gross, and put on the market in less than two years. The public would then get them cheaper than they are to-day. The result would be that the imported matches would be sold still cheaper here, and I have already proved that they could be sold cheaper. To any one who doubts my word, I am prepared to show the written offers, which are testimony that what I am saying is absolutely true.
– Does the honorable senator include the duty on imported timber and other charges?
– Aspen buttsin the rough are free of duty under this Tariff. This is an industry that would employ not only a considerableamount of capital, but a good deal of labour. It may be urged that one well equipped match factory would supply all the matches required in Australia. That may be true, butI do not care where in Australia that match factory is established, so long as it is established in Australia under Australian conditions. The existing duty is a fraud. It is only incidentally protective, andtends to the creation of a monopoly, which Senators Clemons and Trenwith have both acknowledged to exist in the shape of Bell and Company and Bryant and May. Those firms are not in a position to manufacture more matches than are required in Great Britain at present, but they have an establishment here, and if necessary they could, with the small duty at present imposed, prevent the possibility of any one else establishing a factory in Australia. They would augment the production of their factory here, and deprive the British consumer of his legitimate supply. They would send it in here for six months, reduce the price of matches to something abnormally low, and kill any industry that was started. They could do that underthe existing duty of 6d. against Great Britain. My reason for advocating the increase of the duty is to prevent that monopoly from disturbing the market in that manner in order to obviate the possibility of any competitor springing up in Australia. My only object in subsequently moving an amendment after the one before the Chair has been dealt with is to make possible the manufacture in Australia of safety matches, which are safe, so far as concerns the health and welfare of those engaged in making them, even more than in their use in every-day life. For those reasons I shall oppose Senator Clemons’ request, and move my own when the opportunity arises.
– As Senator McGregor has questioned the accuracy of my figures, I shall show exactly how I arrived at the conclusions I stated to the Committee. The imports into Australia for 1906 were 1,566,000 gross of matches. The duty proposed to be put on them is1s a gross. That duty on the imports I mentioned represents £78,300. Senator McGregor has already confirmed my statement that every penny of that duty is paid by the Australian consumer, because, as he said, we have always paid too much for matches. Regarding the balance to make up the£90,000 which I mentioned, the local manufacturer is making £10,000, because he sells at a price which is almost precisely the same as that of the imported article plus the duty. I give him, however, a little benefit. I will admit that he goes a little under the duty. He sells at, say,10d. more to the consumer than he ought to, instead of selling at the whole shilling more.
– Does that apply where the duty against the British matches is 6d. ?
– I am dealing only with the shilling duty; not with the preferential rate. The local production in 1906 was 300,000 gross. At10d. a gross - the amount added on by the local maker, and charged to the consumer - that means, roughly, another £12,000, which, added to the £78,000, makes £90,000, every penny of which is charged to the consumer owing to the imposition of the present duty.
– The honorable senator’s deductions are wrong.
– Every box of imported matches sold in Australia at present is sold with the whole amount of the shilling duty added on, as compared with the price at the port of export. The price of export f.o.b., London, averages about 1s. 2d., a gross. The prices here in recent years have been as follows:- In 1905, wholesale, foreign matches 2s. 3d., Victorian 2s. 2d. In 1906 the figures were the same. In 1907 they were respectively 2s. rod. and 2s. 9d. At present, nominally - although, as I have already said, a contract could not be got from Bell and Company for any quantity - the gross quotations are, for imported from 3s. 3d. to 3s. 6d., and for Victorian from 3s. 3d. to 3s. 4d.
-^-Instead of 4s. 6d. before there was any duty.
– I am not dealing with what happened in years’ gone by. The honorable senator might as well tell me that the price of wheat in Australia some years ago was j£i_ a bushel. So it might have been. These prices are not determined by the duty ; in any case, the prices of all commodities are largely reduced at the present time. I am dealing with recent quotations; and, at the present time, if a quotation can be obtained, it is, with the full extent of the duty -added, from 3s. 3d. to 3s. 6d. for foreign matches and 3s, 3d to 3s. 4d. for Victorian matches.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [10.16]. - I sincerely hope that the match-making industry will not find any support or permanence in Australia. If we refer to books or magazine articles which appear from time to time, we cannot possibly dissociate this industry from the “White Slavery” of the Old Land. The match factories of England are in the densest, the poorest, and, I am sorry to say, the most degraded portions of the population ; and there is no necessity why we should do anything to encourage similar destructive industries in the fair land of Australia. Surely here there is sufficient land space, and sufficient manufacturing life suited to the conditions of the country, to make it unnecessary to import timber in order te make matches by an unwholesome process.
– It is not unwholesome.
– Of course the honorable senator may be an authority on every subject ; but it is just possible that in this matter he is mistaken. I do not care to worry about the niceties of price or the niceties of protection in this connexion; and I shall vote in order to prevent the debasing of the boyhood, and particularly of the girlhood, of Australia in an utterly undesirable branch of manufacture.
– I shall be influenced in my vote by the fact that the duty under the Tariff of 1902 brought in a considerable revenue. I suppose that the object and intention of Senator McGregor is to promote the industry in Australia; but I am not with him in that desire. In Japan and France this industry is practically a State monopoly.
– There are no importations from Japan.
– That may be; but the fact is as I have stated. France may be taken -as a country which is particularly interested in occupying its own people profitably ; and yet, from what I can gather, even this State-guarded, protected industry, with a highly enlightened and sympathetic people, is one of the mostwretched. I am not inclined to support a duty in order to promote the industry,, but rather from a revenue point of view.
Senator GRAY (New South Wales> [10.23]. - Senator Clemons and Senator McGregor have placed the question very clearly before us; but the former has to my mind made a serious charge against a firm of match manufacturers in Australia. Whether the firm belong to a combine or not, I take it that they are conducting their business according to the ordinary conditions of Australian business life; but thehonorable senator has charged them indirectly with conducting their business in a. shady manner.
– I do not think I said that; I was dealing with the matter from the point of view of the consumer.
– Any one listening tothe honorable senator could come to nr> other conclusion than that such a chargewas implied ; and I am glad to hear Senator Clemons withdraw any imputation. Nomore serious charge could be made against a reputable manufacturing firm than that they try to deceive or swindle the public.
– Please understand’ that I did not make that charge.
– In most manufacturing concerns goods are put up in boxes in orderto meet different classes of trade, certainkinds of packages being used where credit is given, or for some other reason. Senator Clemons expressed the opinion that there is a long-established trade customwhich provides that all boxes, under all conditions, shall contain a certain number of matches. I suggest that Senator Clemons should be possessed of actual knowledge of the business conditions before he makes such a statement. I am nowspeaking of a. firm who carry on their business under a heavy protectionist duty ; and, although I am a free-trader, I recognisethat those manufacturers who conduct theirconcerns under the ordinary trading conditions should have a fair statement of their position laid before Parliament. Senator Clemons further said that the profits of Bell?’ and Company amount to £10,000 a year, and I agree with, Senator Dobson that we ought to have had some information as to the foundation for that statement. So far as I can learn. Senator Clemons had no facts to support his allegation, though personally if the firm do make such profits, they cannot be regarded as doing anything that is wrong. Every man goes into business, knowing that he has to incur large expenditure and run great risks,’ and if he is fortunate enough to make good profits he deserves credit so long as his business is conducted under fair conditions. It has also been said that these are the only manufacturers of matches.
– As a matter of fact there are practically only the two firms of Bryant and May and Bell and Company.
– There are scores of firms who manufacture matches in the Old Land, but only very few come into competition with those firms in putting an article of equal quality on the market.
.- The item and the foreshadowed request require the urgent attention of the Minister in charge of the measure. This is the second time that Ministers have intimated their intention to vote for a higher duty than was accepted by their colleagues in another place. Honorable senators ought to know that the compromise arrived at elsewhere was suggested by Sir William Lyne after hearing the debate. I hope that the Ministers in charge of the Tariff here do not intend to undo the arrangement which the Treasurer made in another place, and which he believed . would do ample justice to the local match manufacturer. Senator Clemons has shown us most conclusively that whatever the duty may be, the local factory intends to get the benefit of every farthing of it. Nothing could be more conclusive than the figures he read as to the prices which were charged a few years ago, the prices which were charged recently, and the prices which are now quoted. It-is absolutely certain that whether the duty be fixed at is. 6d. or 6d., Bell and Company intend to a.dd the amount to their price. I remind Senator Keating that both by notices and by advertisements in the press the Tariff Commission asked the owners of struggling factories and dying industries to come forward, and tell them if they had any grievance to be redressed, or practically if they wanted any more protection ; but in spite of such notices and advertisements Bell and Company did not come forward to claim an additional duty
– I do not think that Bell and Company want the duty. I believe thev would be glad to have it taken off.
– To my mind, that is conclusive evidence that Bell and Company did not require any additional duty, but were perfectly satisfied with the duty as it was; or, if they did require further protection, they were ashamed to come forward and claim it, because they knew that there was a prejudice against this item. I believe, on the facts which Senator Clemons submitted, that Bell and Company knew that they were getting a just measure of protection - such protection as’ would enable them- to obtain an exceedingly good return - and therefore did not come forward. In those circumstances, I ask Senator Keating what right have the Government, if they desire to secure a Tariff which will do a fair thing between the factory-owner on the one hand and the consumer on the other, to give one firm 300 per cent, more protection than did the old duty with which we have very good evidence to show us they were content? It appears to me that this is protection run mad. It is not fixing up a fair Tariff between the consumer and the factoryowner, but it is putting’ an enormous fortune into the hands of Bell and Company. Having regard to the earnest way in which Senator McGregor spoke, and the manner in which he got’ up his case, is it not probable that factory-owners who did not respond to the invitation of the Tariff Commission have gone sneakingly to some of its protectionist members, and told them that they want 300 per cent, more protection ?
– That is exactly what they have done.
– That is what I believe they have done. Do the Government intend to be a party to that sort of thing? It calls for the fullest explanation. A factory-owner who never asked for 5 per cent, more duty has apparently gone behind the back of the Tariff Commission to certain members of the favoured party, and said, “ Give us 200 or 300 per cent, more.” A duty of rs. 6d. was proposed in the Tariff schedule when it was submitted to the other House, but after hearing arguments the Treasurer accepted a duty of 6d. as against Great Britain and a duty of1s. as against other countries. How can we expedite the Tariff, as Senator Best desires, when the Government are fooling with it in that way ? How can we expedite this businesswhen we find most conclusive evidence that they are dealing unfairly and unjustly with the consumer, and with every other factory-owner, by giving one firm more protection than they are entitled to receive and more than any other manufacturer has received? In these circumstances what justification has Senator Keating for supporting the request if he is going to do so? If the duty is fixed at 6d. as against Great Britain it is equal to a protection of 25 per cent., and the importing expenses come to 15 per cent. , Of course, a duty of1s. as against the outside world will be equal to a protection of 50 per cent. I believe that the duty which Senator McGregor wants runs from 75 to 80 per cent. Senator Clemons has to a certain extent withdrawn his charge that the manufacturers or the retailers of vestas are cheating. I certainly thought at first that he was over-stating the case a little. But it appears to me now that he has proved conclusively that somebody is cheating the public continuously and deliberately.
– What I said was that I was perfectly certain - and any one can verify it - that the consumer for some reason or other was not getting the number of matches in particular boxes which trade usage requires should be put into them. Of course, I do not know who takes them.
– When I heard that charge of cheating made I, as a lawyer, wanted some evidence that the boxes were sold with the assurance either expressed or implied that they contained forty-five vestas each. But now I find something more than that. I find that the gentlemen who concocted the Tariff - and I suppose that the experts in the box had something to do with it - seem to have assumed that the duty was to be charged on boxes “ containing 100 or less” of matches.
– They did not.
– Why put in the words “ one hundred or less “ if it ought to be forty-five matches or less? According to the reports of what took place elsewhere the original understanding was that certain boxes were supposed to contain 100 matches or thereabouts. Senator Clemons tells us - and I think that he is perfectly right- that the small round boxes do not contain forty-five matches, which used to be the trade standard. If these boxes now contain only twenty-nine or thirty-nine matches somebody is cheating the public every minute of the day. That is why I point out to Senator Keating that this item requires his most serious attention. I ask him whether we cannot by an amendment of the Tariff or by a regulation secure that the boxes shall contain the stipulated number of matches. I cannot vote to make matches free. Why ? Because I place great reliance on the fact that Bell and Company have not asked for a further duty. They did not appear before the Tariff Commission, and, to my mind, that is implied evidence that they were content with the old duty. I am quite prepared to talk for a week or a month to prevent the unjust request foreshadowed by Senator McGregor from being carried.
Question - That the House of Representativesbe requested to make item 79, paragraph a, “ Matches and Vestas “ free (Senator Clemons’ request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 17
Question so resolved in the negative.
Motion (by Senator Best) proposed-
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I wish to draw attention to the fact that I did not vote in three divisions taken during the present sitting because when they were taken I happened to be in the Library, and the Senate division bell did not ring there. I find in standing order 165 the following -
Before a division is taken the Clerk shall ring - the division bell.
It appears that the ringing of the bell is a necessary preliminary ..to the taking of a division.
– Neild. - Only one bell is mentioned.
– That bell is supposed to be connected with every room in the building, and if rung in the chamber, to. be heard throughout the building. If that be the case, what is my position ? I was in the building. I was within hearing of the bell if it had rung. It did not ring. I missed three divisions, and in the circumstances it appears to me either that I am entitled to have my vote recorded in each of those divisions or they must be taken over again, because the notice of them required by the standing order was not given. The bell might have been rung by the Clerk in the chamber, but if the bells in each part of the building did not respond the operation of ringing the bell cannot be said to have been completed. ‘ The position I put is that either I am entitled to Have my vote recorded in each of the divisions I refer to or it must be declared that those divisions . were not taken in due form
-The honorable senator has asked me a question with respect to the non-ringing of the division bell. I may say, in the first place, that as the matter to which he refers occurred in Committee, it is not properly cognisable by the Senate. However, I remind the honorable senator that the standing order to which he refers is simply directory. The Clerk tells me that he pursued the usual - course adopted in order to insure the ringing of the division tells, and certain of the bells, if net all, did ring. The mere fact that the honorable senator was out of the chamber or did not hear, the bells does not entitle him to have his vote recorded in the divisions referred to, nor does it render the divisions invalid, as they were taken pro-, per]v and correctly. If the direction under which the division bell has to be rung was not carried out it was not due to any default on the part of the Clerk, though it might be due to some defect in the electrical connexion of the bells.
– But the bell did not ring.
– In order that there shall, be no further difficulty of the kind I shall cause the honorable senator’s complaint to be inquired into and see whether there is any defect in connexion with the bells which should be remedied.
– The bell’ did.not ring, and. therefore the standing order was not complied with.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.54 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 11 February 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1908/19080211_senate_3_43/>.