3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
MAITLAND COAL MINERS: POSTMASTER-GENERAL.
Senator Colonel NEILD. - I beg to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council whether it is the intention of the Postmaster-General to make a public apology for the scandalous accusation of drunkenness made by him against the coal miners of the Maitland district of New South Wales?
Senator DE LARGIE. - Will the Government obtain for the information of the Senate a statement showing the latest awards ofthe Arbitration Courts and Wages Boards of Australia?
Senator KEATING. - I do not know whether the information is given in the compilations of the Commonwealth Statistician, but, if not, and if the honorable senator will specify the period in connexion with which he wishes particulars, I shall communicate with the Statistician to ascertain whether it is possible to get it.
– Have inquiries been made into the allegations of wrongful dismissal, by the colliery proprietors of Jumbunna, of men because they were members of a registered trade union?
If so, and if the allegations have been sustained, what action will be taken?
– I invited the AttorneyGeneral to make inquiries on the subject, and the Department has been informed by the Industrial Registrar that -
The Secretary of the Association has reported that some members of the Association claim to have been dismissed for being members of the organization. Section 9 of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act provides for a penalty of £20 for dismissal under these circumstances. Two applications have been received for leave to institute proceedings for breach of section 9. These applications will be dealt with by the President of the Court on his return to town early next week.
– Has the VicePresident of the Executive Council any further information regarding the negotiations for a site on the Strand, London, for Commonwealth offices, or have steps been taken to obtain another site?
– I have nothing to add to my former reply. To the best of my knowledge : no definite steps have been taken to secure another site.
Senator KEATING laid upon the table the following papers: -
Proposed Federal Capital Site at Canberra : Copies of maps referred to in the Report of E. M. De Burgh on the Water Supply.
Copies of communication from Officers of the Commonwealth Public Service in Tasmania and the Public Service Commissioner’s minute thereon, relating to the promotion of Mr. E. A. Blakney.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
The majority of the employes, wholly or partly employed on Commonwealth work, are paid higher rates than those fixed by the Printers’ Determination Board. In the few cases where they are paid lower, the explanation is that the men are learners, and that they are paid according to their years of experience, and not according to their age.
– The answer is altogether unsatisfactory. Will the Minister obtain for the information of the Senate the exact wages these men are receiving? Are they receiving the rates fixed by the Wages Board of Victoria ?
– I have already said so.
– Some higher and some lower; beautiful ambiguity !
– There is nothing ambiguous about it at all. The position is this : That all these men, save and except learners, get a higher wage than that stated in the honorable senators question. As regards learners, the position is that they do not usually join at the age of 14, but later - it may be when 19 or 20 years of age, and when they have had a little experience. I am informed that -
They have but small prospect of advancement, unless they can obtain appointment to positions of greater skill, for which, of course, higher wages are paid. For any vacancies occurring in the latter, they eagerly compete, and the most suitable and meritorious are selected. Now, the Board’s rates provide for lads commencing at 14 years of age, and receiving annual increments until they attain the age of 21 years, when they are paid the minimum wage. The Board’s rates evidently regard it as necessary, although not specifically stating so in every instance, that such classes of employes should have seven years of experience before being paid the minimum wage. But the youths receiving such appointments here are always over 14 years of age, being sometimes 19 and 20. They are usually then transferred to the more technical position at their current wage and receive increments annually. If they are industrious, they sometimes learn their business in less than the seven years, and receive the minimum wage as soon as they are qualified. It is in consequence of this practice, which was adopted at the request of the employes, and has given great satisfaction to them, that there are at the present time a number of cases where employes are receiving less wages than the Board’s determination,when their ages are taken into consideration, but which are, in most cases, higher than the Board’s rates when their years of experience are considered.
– The Government Printing Office, is becoming a notorious sweating shop. Arising out of the last answer, I desire to ask whether the Government will see that the Factories Acts conditions are observed, or whether they will permit the State Government Printer to ignore those conditions? Are we to understand that men are to be paid according to their experience, irrespective of whether the Factories Acts apply, and that the State Government Printer is to be the sole judge of the wages to which the men are entitled ?
– As far as my information goes the Factories Acts are strictly observed in connexion with these matters.
– Grossly violated !
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 14th February, vide page 8103) :
Division IV. Agricultural Products and Groceries.
Item 105. Tea -
Upon which Senator Henderson had moved -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make item 105, paragraph a, free.
.- When progress was reported on Friday afternoon, I was pointing out that, in my opinion, the retention of the duty of1d. per lb. on packet tea would not increase the price of tea to the consumer. I shall be asked, “ Who will receive the advantage?” The advantage, in my opinion, will go into the pockets of the importer, but even if it did mean some slight increase in price to have the tea packed in Australia, no consistent protectionist can vote for the abolition of the extra1d. per lb. on tea that is brought into Australia packed.
– Is there not a difference between protective and revenue duties?
– This is not a revenue duty at all. I look upon Senator Henderson’s proposal as one of very great importance, and, coming from a professed protectionist, I am somewhat amazed at it. It is not a matter affecting consumers only. Some interesting evidence on the subject was given before the Tariff Commission. A witness from Senator Henderson’s own. State, Mr. McKenzie Murray, representing the firm of W. D. Moore and Company, was examined by the Chairman. He desired that the duty on packettea should be 2d. per lb., and gave some of the strongest reasons possible in favour of his suggestion. He was asked by Sir John Quick whether he desired to make any statement with regard to his proposals, . and in reply he read the following reasons -
We contend -
That an industry which gives employment to a large number of hands in these States should be protected at all hazards against the competition of the cheap coolie labour of Ceylon and India, more especially in view of the fact that the first plank in the platform of Federal Australia is a “White Australia,” and Australia for Australians.
That if the dumping down in this . State of the products of such labour is permitted, it . will be fatal, at all events, to the tea-packing industry, which promised to assume very large proportions in these States.
Ceylon is already benefiting to a very large extent, by her trade with these States in bulk teas and other products, and should, therefore, be content to stop there, and not endeavour to destroy the industry we are trying to establish with their products.
If they desire to compete with the local packing industry, let them establish factories in these States, and meet us on our own ground on equal terms and we have no objection.
That the success or otherwise of the teapacking industry in these States will affect, to a large extent, several other industries of the State, such as the printing trade, in the printing of paper for packets; the tinsmiths, in the making of tins for packing tea; and the timber industry, in the making of tea boxes, &c. ; and so on ad infinitum.
It was shown in evidence that even the labour of one boy who might be employed in the tea packing industry in any part of Australia would cost as much as the wages of ten coolies doing similar work in Ceylon., where coolie labour can be obtained for 2d. and 3d. per day. A boy doing such work in Australia would receive at least 15s. per week. It was also shown in evidence that the wages paid for packing tea in Australia amount to£8,000 or £10,000 a year. The witness to whom I have referred, said that unless the duty which he suggested were agreed to, the probabilities were that Lipton and Company, who carry on business in London, and have estates in Ceylon, would have their teas packed there, dump them into Australia, and sell them in competition with those who have established packing houses in the various States, and who employ white Australian labour.
– I suppose the honorable senator knows that there was a large packing trade in Australia before the duty was imposed.
– So far as. I know there was no such industry in some places in Australia until the present schedule was brought in.
– The witness quoted by the honorable senator said that the trade had been injured since the removal of the duty on tea by the Commonwealth.
– No. He gave evidence that the probabilities were that if the duty now in operation were not imposed, Messrs. Lipton and Company, who had commenced business in Australia, and were advertising with a view of obtaining control ofthe Australian market, would offer a competition so dangerous as to be likely to close up the packing houses that had already been established. It is said that the tea-packing industry was established without increased assistance.
– It was established twenty-five years ago.
– It would be more firmly established by our shutting out all packet teas put up by coloured labour. Those who believe that the aroma or bouquet of tea packed by coloured labour in other countries is better than tea that is packed by white men here would have to pay for their fancy tastes if I had my way.
SenatorGray. - There is no necessity for such a duty.
– Prior to Federation, Queensland had a strong protective duty on packet tea. According to the report of the Tariff Commission, that State had on bulk tea a duty of 6d. per lb., whereas tea in½-lb. packets was dutiable at 4d. per packet, while packets containing over½ lb. were dutiable at 8d. each. Why did Queensland impose those duties?
– To secure revenue.
– No ; she imposed them because her people had declared in favour of a White Australia. If Senator Henderson believes in the policy of a White Australia - -
– I am so strongly in favour of it that I am not prepared to give a vote in favour of Chinamen.
– Even if it be true, as the honorable senator contends, that the retention of the duty of1d. per lb. on packet tea means a slight impost on consumers of tea in Australia, I would remind him that the people are prepared to bear that impost rather than have imported into Australia tea packed in Ceylon by coloured people receiving 3d. per day of ten hours to compete with tea packed in Australia by white labour, working forty-eight hours per week, and receiving reasonable remuneration. The position is very serious, so far as many workers in Australia are concerned. There are at present a number’ engaged in making the packets or cartons for the packing trade, while others are employed in making strawboard and timber boxes for it. Then, again, a very large number are employed in printing labels and wrappers, whilst, in addition, there is a large army of men. women, and girls employed in various other ways in the industry.
– Chinamen residing in Little Bourke-street may be doing that work.
– For the most part they are.
– I do not think that Senator de Largie is serious in making that assertion; I am sure that upon reflection he will recognise that it is wholly unwarranted. Merchants and workmen have urged that tea packed under the conditions which prevail in Ceylon should not be allowed to enter Australia under the conditions applied to tea in bulk.
– How many witnesses gave evidence on that point before the Commission ?
– Three or four. The strongest evidence bn the point was given by a merchant, and by Mr. Walker, President of the Typographical Society. I feel confident that, even if they do not favour the request that I propose to move later on, the majority- of those who believe in the principle of protection will agree, at any rate, to the duty passed by another place. Mr. Murray, who appeared before the Commission in Western Australia, favored the imposition of a duty of 2d. per lb. on all packets of tea entering Australia.
– He would have a duty of 2S. per lb., if he could get it.
– That would be unnecessary, because it would be considerably more than the value of the tea.
– If all the packet tea consumed in Australia were put up locally; how many persons would find employment in that branch of the industry ?
– Mr. Murray, who is in only a small way of business, said there were fifteen or twenty hands employed in his packing house at Perth. In answer to the Chairman, who inquired -
Arc there any other facts to which you wish to refer? - that was in respect to the packing business - Mr. Murray said - Question 39870 -
In 1904, 2,149,041 lbs. of tea were imported to this State. Of that, at least half is put up in packet form. A large proportion of it, imported from Victoria and South Australia, originally came from Ceylon, but all the Robur tea is packed in Melbourne, and the Amgoorie and Terai teas are packed in South Australia. Still, all those teas are packed by our own labour, and the cost of packing represents a good sum paid in wages. That would be about 1,000,000 lbs. in packed teas alone.
– Did not Mr. Murray say that the value of the industry in respect of wages alone would be something like ^10,000 per annum?
– Yes. He said that the imposition of this duty would mean, in wages. and material, ^8,000 or .£10,000 per annum. The minimum wage in the printing trade here is £2 16s. per week of forty-eight hours, whereas in Ceylon the rate of pay is about 14s. a week of I do not know how many hours. The coolies who are supposed to do all the hard work receive from 2d. to 3d. per day. Those who believe in a white Australia, and in the policy of protection, surely cannot favour the free importation of packet tea put up under the sweated conditions to which I have referred.
– There are only two points to which I desire to refer. Senator Findley has quoted the evidence given before the Tariff Commission, chiefly by representatives of those engaged in the printing and packing ^ranches of the trade ; but du another part of the evidence, to which he did not refer, it was clearly laid down by more than one witness that the duty was desired, not because the packing trade had been interfered with up to the present, but because they were apprehensive for the future.
– That was the evidence of a merchant ; the printers are in a different position.
– That was the evidence given, not by a. merchant, but by those engaged in packing tea. A witness residing in Melbourne stated that a duty of Jd. per lb. would cover all the printing and incidental charges of packing. That being so, we are asked to vote this duty, not because of any actual injury to the trade, or because any one can show that injury will be done to the trade if packet tea be allowed to come in free, but because of a fear that at some future time something may happen.
– The printing trade has already been affected.
– I am not a tea packer, nor have I anything to do with the industry. I am only pointing out that there is evidence which may be fairly put against the’ evidence quoted by Senator Findley - evidence that a duty of id. per lb. would cover the whole cost of packing - and . that we should take it into consideration when we are asked to impose a duty on tea. These two points which were clearly brought out in evidence may reasonably be weighed in the balance against ex parte statements quoted by Senator Findley.
– I should not have addressed the Committee again but for the allegation of Senator Findley that upon this question I have departed from the White Australia policy. I wish him clearly to understand that I am as strong an advocate of that policy as is any. member of this Chamber. I am so firmly convinced of its virtue that when I was afforded an. opportunity of voting to “nip” the Chinamen, I did so. Upon that occasion, however, Senator Findley did not vote with me.
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that Senator Findley voted for anything but protection?
– I mean to say that he voted in favour of extending protection to the Chinamen.
– I voted in favour of protecting an industry in which there are white men, as well as Chinamen, engaged.
– Upon that occasion the honorable senator’s White Australia policy was slightly tainted with yellow. In his very heated discourse upon packet teas, he overlooked the fact that all the evidence which he quoted was tendered prior to any duty being levied upon tea. He spoke as’ if the witnesses whose testimony he quoted were contending for the retention of something that had previously existed. But he is well aware that all his arguments applied only to a period prior to the imposition of any duty upon tea.Senator Findley stated that Terai and Amgoorie teas are packed in South Australia, and that Robur tea is packed in Melbourne. He thus practically closed his own mouth by producing evidence that all the popular brands of tea used in Australia are packed within the Commonwealth. Surely nobody can urge that he has made out a strong case for the position which he has taken up. Of course I recognise that he is an ardent protectionist, who would go to the extent of protecting black beetles if necessary. But I merely wish to extend protection to industries in a reasonable way, which can be justified. I do not want to blindly protect industries. As Senator Findley has shown conclusively that all the most popular brands of tea are being packed in Australia, and that they were packed here prior to any duty beingoperative
– They were not.
– What is the use of Senator McGregor telling me that? He knows very well that Amgoorie tea has been packed in South Australia for years.
– Only within the past six or seven years.
– It has been packed there without the aid of any duty, and the same remark is applicable to the other brands which I have mentioned. As this work has been successfully carried on without the aid of any protective duty, this is one of those items upon which I am absolutely a free-trader.
– I wish to cool the ardour of Senator Findley by assuring him that the great danger which he apprehends is merely a visionary one. The fact of the matter is that packet teas have been made up in Australia for the past twenty years. They have been put up into “blends “ by merchants or large wholesale grocers who are desirous of catering to the taste of their particular customers. This has been going on during the past twenty years, and before any duty upon tea was operative. If the present duty upon packet tea is retained, tea will still be made up into packets in Australia, but if packet tea is admitted free, the result will not be anything like so disastrous as Senator Findley imagines, and the consumers will obtain their tea at from1/2d. to3/4 d. per lb. cheaper than they can do now. That is why I shall vote for the free admission of packet tea. I shall therefore support Senator Henderson’s proposal.
– I trust that the Committee will not agree to the proposal of Senator Henderson. Honorable senators will recollect that the protectionist section of the Tariff Commissionrecommended the imposition of a duty of1d. per lb. upon tea in packets not exceeding 10 lbs. in weight, whilst in respect of other tea they recommended its admission free. Now it has been found from experience that teas for the retail trade are made up in packets of 20 lbs. and under, and accordingly the proposal of the Government is that tea made up in packets not exceeding 20 lbs. in weight, shall be dutiable at1d. per lb. I think it is advisable that we should discriminate between tea imported in bulk and tea imported in packets. Senator Henderson seemed to assume that the great bulk of packet tea sold in Australia is packed here. I am not speaking of packets made up to the order of the individual customer at grocers’ counters, but of the tea that is packed, and passed from one trader to another before it reaches the consumer. No separate record is kept of the importations of tea in bulk and in packets, but about one-tenth of the total quantity imported is believed to come in in packets. The importation of tea last year amounted to 29,478,614 lbs. It has been a steadily increasing quantity since 1903, when it was over 24,000,000 lbs. In 1904 and 1905.it was 28,000,000 odd lbs. Roughly speaking, we import about 30,000,000 lbs. of tea per annum, of which the Customs authorities estimate that 3,000,000 lbs. comes in in packets of less than 20 lbs. weight. Some advantage’ will be gained if we can cause tea to be imported in bulk, and induce our own people to pack it for distribution. There are various industries associated with the packing, such as the box, packet, and tin caddy making, and the printing. Surely it is not asking too much that id. a lb. should be levied on tea imported in packets - a rate that would return a revenue of about £12,000 or £13,000 a year. I hope that honorable senators will support the item as it stands, I trust, also, that they will not yield to the demand of a strong supporter of the duty that it should be increased to 2d.
– I well remember when this matter was under discussion before the Tariff Commission. After the evidence had been taken, the. members of the protectionist section were unanimous that there was a great deal of truth in the allegations that in ‘ the near future tea packing would be done much more extensively abroad than in Australia, unless action were taken by Parliament. Not only did we have the evidence to guide us in that connexion, but at that time caravans were travelling about the streets of Melbourne advertising Lipton’s Tea, with blackfellows upon them, and showing the work being done in Ceylon. With indications of that description before us, we certainly had reason for concluding that something must be done in the near future to prevent the tea-packing industry growing in another country and diminishing in our own. It is very unfair of Senator Henderson, in dealing with a question of this kind, to be influenced by votes given upon another question.
– I am not influenced in the slightest.
– The honorable senator spoke as if he was. If Senator Findley has a black margin or fringe to his White Australia policy, as Senator Henderson alleges, Senator Henderson must have a black heart to his policy, because the action he took was not only to protect the Chinamen in this country, but to relieve coloured people in other countries of any embargo that would protect our own people here.
– I am willing to let the coloured people have a fair deal in their own country. Let them stop there.
– I am willing to do the same. We allow them to grow the tea and send it to us. If honorable senators had any knowledge of the customs and methods of coloured people in other countries in packing tea, and in many other industries, they would not be so anxious to encourage that kind of thing. Tea in bulk can be more closely examined at the Customs than can tea in packets. In that way we can protect ourselves from adulteration’ and other evils much more easily than in the case of tea imported in small packets. The protectionist section of the Commission, in deciding to recommend the promotion of the tea-packing industry here, had in mind everything that has been said by Senator Findley and the Minister of Home Affairs. It means, not only the putting of the tea into the packets, but also the making of those packets, whether they are of paper, wood, or tin, the printing of the labels, and all the other work incidental to the industry. Taking into consideration what the Minister has said on the authority of the Customs officers, we must recognise that the tea-packing industry means something substantial to the Australian workers, of whom we should think.
– I intend to vote for the item as it stands, but if I decided to alter, that vote I should prefer to reduce rather than to increase” the duty. I recognise in this case, that a protective duty of id., intended to provide work for a number of our people, can be justified, but I remember reading in the Adelaide press at the time the duty on tea was previously before the Senate, many denunciations of the United Labour Party, because they voted for free tea. The Register and Advertiser frequently said, “ Here is an easy method of obtaining revenue, were it not for the Labour Party.”
– Is the honorable senator supporting the duty as a revenue duty ?
– If the honorable senator would listen, he would know my views. I am speaking of the attitude of the Register, and the “class which the honorable senator so ably represents. I am not in favour of an increase of the duty, and will give my reasons. In South Australia there is a ring controlling the tea business, formed by a number of importers, who, I suppose, are the friends of Senator Millen and his party. The storekeepers can get tea for 8d. or9d. per lb., which they must sell to the customer at a price, not under1s. 3d., or otherwise they need not appeal to the same importer for supplies in the future. In order to prevent any roguery - because there is a lot of cheating in connexion with this trade, I shall vote for the duty as it stands.I am not sure that the tea imported would not be just as pure if it were fixed up in packets elsewhere; but, as a protectionist, I shall, as I say, support the duty. I should like, however, if it were possible to vote straight out , for free tea. There is an impression abroad that tea does pay duty ; and, in this connexion, a number of storekeepers take advantage of the. ignorance of the people. I should be glad if Senator Findley, or any other honorable senator, would suggest how we could get over the difficulty I have indicated. I do not see why importers should stipulate that the storekeepers shall charge the consumer a definite price. I regret exceedingly that Senator Findley should take the stand he does, because it appears to me to represent protection run mad. The honorable senator seems to be suspicious that those who will not go the same length to which he himself goes are not true to the cause. The honorable senator lives in Melbourne, and, no doubt, is to some extent, as we all axe, including Senator Millen in regard to his State influenced by that fact. If Senator Millen lived in Victoria or South Australia he would take a somewhat different view. It seems wonderful how inconsistent honorable senators can be when the interests of their States are affected. Even Senator Symon, rather than vote with his free-trade friends, went beyond the bar when a question affecting South Australian interests - the duty on salt - was before the Committee; I shall vote for the duty as it stands, and, rather than support an increase, I would desire to see tea entirely free.
– I cannot say that; I support this proposal with as much enthusiasm as I have done other items. But we are face to face with the alternative of giving employment to our own people in the printing of labels and the packing of tea, or employing Cingalese and Chinamen. At present we cannot grow tea in Australia; but we can, at least, provide that tea for transport throughout the Commonwealth shall be prepared and packed by Australians. There is one point about the present proposal that I do not like; and I shall endeavour by amendment to remove the objection. The proposal, as it stands, exempts people who are wealthy enough to purchasea 20-lb. packet from the incidence of the duty ; and I do not regard that as just, seeing that these 20- lb. packets are prepared in Ceylon by the cheapest labour obtainable.
– The honorable senator is really proposing a tax on tea.
– It is a tax on tea - and we are not disguising the fact - for the purpose of providing employment for our own people. I think it is worth while taxing tea, when there is a prospect of providing the labour in Australia, and I make my . proposal on no other grounds. As the proposal stands at present, an unnecessary distinction is drawn between the man who can order 20 lbs. of tea at a time, and the man who requires only 1 lb.
– What about the man who orders half a chest of tea?
– I am seeking to tax him.
– Senator Lynch is never happy unless he is taxing somebody.
– Is there any reason in permitting the man who can order 20 lbs. of tea at a time to escape the duty ?
– Why does not the honorable senator honestly say that he desires a tax on tea?
– I am honest enough to say that what I desire is a tax on tea; I need no spur . from Senator Gray to make me openly confess what I believe. I move -
That, the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 105 by leaving out the figures “20,” and substituting the figures “100.”
-I think that before; this request can be put, Senator Henderson must withdraw his request.
– I understood you, Mr. Chairman, to say on Friday that, as Senator Henderson moved a request to strike out the line altogether, if the Committee declined to adopt the proposal, while not affirming that the words should stand, it would be competent for me to move a further request. I submit, therefore, that it would be competent, but less desirable, for Senator Lynch to submit his proposal without the concurrence of Senator Henderson.
– I had overlooked the fact that that point had been raised. Senator Lynch cannot now submit his proposal.The Committee can simply deal with Senator Henderson’s request.
– On Friday, sir, I intimated my intention to move a request for the duty to be increased to 2d. per lb. Now that you have ruled that Senator Lynch’s proposal cannot be submitted, I take it that Senator Henderson’s request must be disposed of before I can move my request.
– Whether we impose a tax on packet tea or not, bulk tea will come in free as hitherto, and, therefore, I cannot see how this proposal can be described as a tax on tea. It is rather a tax on the packing or making up of tea after it is brought here. As it is designed for the benefit of white labour, I, as a protectionist, intend to support the duty as it stands. At the same time, if it partook of the character of a revenue duty or a tax on an article which could not be produced in the country, though I have contended that we could produce tea quite as successfully as coffee-
– If we gave the same amount of protection,I dare say that we could produce tea equally as well as coffee.
– Did not the honorable senator say thatwe could not grow coffee?
– I did not say that we produced no coffee. What I said was that we produced so very little of the article that it was not worth while to impose a duty of 3d. per lb.
– The honorable senator said that there was very little hope for the industry.
– Yes; and there is equally little hope for the tea industry. I would not support this item, if it were in the nature of a revenue duty, because the Senate has already dealt with the question of taxing tea for a much more laudable purpose, and that was to establish a system of old-age pensions. I cannot understand the attitude of some honorable senators on the other side, who intend to support this item, because tea is packed in India by coloured or cheap labour, when I recollect they have already levied a tax on a very necessary article of food. The consumers of bananas, who are principally white people, are taxed for the upkeep of Chinamen, and I am sorry to say that Senator Findley was one of those who imposed that tax.
– They are not the only people who are engaged in the production of bananas.
– The Chinese constitute pretty well nine-tenths of those who grow bananas in the Commonwealth. In my opinion, a duty of1d. per lb. is ample protection to give for the packing of tea. I agree with the proposal of Senator Lynch to increase the size of the package. It would be a mistake to tax the smaller packages, and to allow the larger packages to come in free. I believe that a better quality of tea will be secured if we increase the size of the packet.
– I sympathize with Senator Henderson so far as his object is to have tea Imported free of duty, but I think that he is making . a mistake in objecting to the proposal before the Committee, because its object is not to tax tea at all, but to induce the local subdivision of tea from bulkinto retail packages.
– Wehave been subdividing it all along, and will continue to do so.
– I know that we have been importing tea in small packages. We ought to do what work is necessary for the distribution of the raw material, and that is all which this proposal is designed to achieve. Senator Lynch is wrong in describing it as a tea tax. Itis a tax on packed tea, and, therefore, I differ from him in the proposal to increase the size of the package. We must allow a certain amount of convenience to the persons who are sending the. product backwards and forwards, and I think it will be found that a 20-lb. package is more than is usually purchased by persons who live in the centres of population.
– The honorable senator does not think ofthose who live outside large centres.
– I think, that . those persons should be permitted to have duty free their tea in packets of the size which is convenient to them. They must get their provisions, so to speak, in bulk.
– What about the people who live in Toorak?
– I think that -the honorable, senator will scarcely find a house in Toorak which buys more than 5 or10 lbs. at a time. A sensible housewife does not like a large package, because when itis opened the tea loses its aroma. I think it may safely be said that the limitation of the package to 20 lbs. will accomplish what we desire, and will not hamper or oppress our own people. To make the size of the packet larger would prevent the exchange of this product by sea. I urge upon Senator Henderson that this is a protectionist and not a revenue duty. It is designed to achieve the local performance of a large amount of work which in some instances is now performed abroad, and which in many more instances in the future will be performed abroad if the duty be not imposed. I firmly urge that particular aspect of the case upon Senator Henderson in order that we may carry this proposal, and have a very interesting and profitable work done in the country. We are looking out for work forour young people.
– We have had this work done here for twenty years.
– In a greater or lesser degree, and we hope to have it done in a greater degree as a result of the imposition of this duty.
– My principal objection to this duty is that it will have to be paid chiefly by people who live in the bush, and who buy their tea, not in½-lb. or1-lb. packets, but in packages of from 5 to 50 lbs. in weight. I do not believe that the industry of packing tea, if it can’ be called an industry, is worth establishing. If we cannot do better for our young people than to make them packers of tea the sooner we abandon our policy of protection the better. I could find a dozen more profitable ways of employing our people.
– We have to consider also those who make the packages and boxes, and those who print the labels.
– I refuse to be a party to any proposal to impose a special tax upon the people who live in the bush.
– So long as the packing of tea can be done more cheaply in Ceylon the honorable senator will not have it done in Australia?
– If the whole of the people were called upon to help in establishing this tea-packing industry I should be with the honorable senator. But the burden of its establishment would have to be borne by one section of the community, the people who live out in the bush, and who cannot, rush to an adjacent store, and buy the tea they require in½-lb. or 1 -lb. packages. To speak of the packing of 100,000 lbs. or 1,000,000 lbs. of tea per annum as an industry, is ridiculous ; but even if it were worthy of the name it would, under the present proposal, have to be maintained at the cost of people who live in the bush, and I should like to know why we should add to their present burdens.
– Does the honorable senator really believe that if this duty were not imposed the people in the bush would get their tea any cheaper?
– They would not have to pay the extra1d. if the duty were not imposed. I have always advocated free tea. Some people contend that, tea can be grown in Australia. No doubt it could, but at a cost so great that, it would not be worth our while to tryto cultivate it here. We import our tea, and it is grown by coloured labour. When we have no objection to drinking tea grown by coloured labour, how can it be such a deadly sin to consent to its being packed by coloured labour?
– Especially when, even under the present proposal, there would be no objection to its being packed in the larger packages by coloured labour.
– That is so. Here is another argument against the proposal. The more tea is exposed to the atmosphere the more its quality is deteriorated. My contention is that in order to secure a really good cup of tea, the tea used should be’ packed on the plantation where it is grown.
– As sugar can be grown more cheaply by coloured labour, why should we insist upon a substantial subsidy to a State like Queensland to secure its growth in the Commonwealth?
– The honorable senator was so busy thinking out the subject from his own point of view that he did not listen to what I was saying. I said that tea could not be grown commercially in Australia, whereas sugar can, and there is the mighty difference between the two commodities.
– And the honorable senator wishes the consumer to be able to obtain the tea at its best.
– Yes, I do; and to bring that about I think that, if possible, the tea should be packed on the plantation where it is grown. I am not in favour of any tax on tea for the purpose for which this tax is imposed, and I shall therefore vote against the proposed duty.
.-I think that Senator Stewart has placed himself in a very paradoxical position. If there was one member of the Senate who, in my opinion, was, year in and year out, consistent in his advocacy of the principle of protection, it was the honorable senator. Now, apparently, when he finds that the adoption of that principle may result in a slightly increased cost to the consumer in any part of Australia, he must re-consider his position, and become a free-trader in regard to the tea-packing industry. Does the honorable senator really suppose that the people in the bush would get their tea any cheaper if this duty were not imposed? They do not at the present time obtain their tea direct from Ceylon, but from the nearest storekeeper, warehouseman, or agent, and they will have to pay the same price for the tea they consume whether it is packed in Australia or abroad. I do not suppose that the planters of Ceylon would deal with individual consumers of tea in Australia. Their business is carried on in a large way with merchants. I read some evidence to show that the packing of tea in Australia involves the payment of from £8,000 to£10,000 a year in wages to tea blenders, packers, tinsmiths, and printers.
– So far as the blenders are concerned the protection proposed would not affect them.
– It would. These men complain that if the duty were not imposed the probabilities are that Lipton, who is one of the biggest dealers in tea in the world, would do all his business from Ceylon, and, being able to undersell the established firms in Australia, would become a monopolist in this line, and have command of the market. Honorable senators smile at that statement, because they will probably say, “ Many people, many palates.” In connexion with tobacco, we know that although in that case also tastes differ, the industry has become a monopoly, and, according to sworn evidence, the major portion of the business is in the hands of the monopolists. We have been told that there are well-known brands of tea which are packed in Australia. These become popular as a result of extensive advertising, and, to some extent, because of their quality. But a brand of tea that is popular to-day may be driven practically out of the market tomorrow. A brand of tea which is being extensively sold to-day may within a short time be superseded by another brand put on the market by Lipton.
– Or by some one else. There is a score of big men in the tea trade.
– There is no one in the tea trade in Australia who possesses as much capital as Lipton does, he being a millionaire. I trust that representatives of Queensland, with the exception of Senator Stewart, will vote for the proposed duty., because the State Tariff differentiated between bulk and packet tea, the rate on the latter being 8d. per lb., while on bulk tea only 6d. per lb. was charged.
– Is that a revenue duty ?
– It is a highly protective duty. As tea is not yet grown in Australia, we desire that it shall be admitted free in bulk; but I hope that protectionists will be true to their principles, and vote for a duty on packet tea.
– I have always been opposed to a tax on tea, for reasons which I have already stated in this Chamber; but I regard the proposed duty as a tax on packets, not on the tea contained in them, and am of opinion that it will not increase the price which will have to be paid for tea by those in the back-blocks, about whom Senator Stewart is so anxious. In Western Australia, tea is largely used by the workers in the bush, but I do not think that they would oppose the proposal to put a duty on packet tea, the effect of which would be to give employment to men in Australia in the packing of tea, and to others engaged in paper-making, printing, labelling, and other industries. The Customs returns do not furnish us with information as to the quantity of tea imported in packets, and, therefore, we are not in a position to say whatrevenue the proposed duty would return.
– About one-tenth of the tea imported is brought here in packets.
– In that case I do not think that the duty can be regarded as a revenue duty. I feel inclined to support the proposal of Senator Lynch to increase the size of the packets, so as to make the burden of the duty - if there should be any burden - fall as lightly as possible on the consumers of tea.
– We have had some very entertaining speeches on this question, and, according to the arguments of some honorable senators, if the conundrum, were put to the Committee - “ When is a tax not a tax?” - the reply given would be, “ When it. is on tea.” I am not convinced, however, that the proposed duty will not be a tax on tea, and, in my opinion, tea should be admitted duty free. Australians consume moretea per head of population than any other people in the world, it being regarded here as both a necessary and a luxury. Probably the tea-drinking habit has much to do with the temperance of our people, tea taking the place of other stimulants. The Government do not need extra revenue, and therefore the duty is not justifiable as a revenue duty, while it is altogether objectionable to tax such an article of drink.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to make item 105, paragraph a, “ Tea in packets,” free (Senator Henderson’s request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- On Friday I intimated that I intended to move to make the duty 2d. perlb., but, in view of the division just taken, I do not intend to proceed with that proposal.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item105, paragraph A, by leaving out the figures “ 20,” with a view to insert in lieu thereof the figures “ 10.”
I move this request for the reasons so admirably and forcibly put forward by Senator Trenwith, who spoke of those in the country districts buying their tea in packages, whereas residents of the towns buy it by the1 lb. My request has been moved in the interests of the people in the country. Ninety -nine per cent, of the tea bought by the settlers in our inland districts is purchased in quantities of 10 or 20 lbs. at a time.
– What about the settler’s labourer?
– He is generally boarded by the settler.
– He buys his own tea by the1 lb. when he is a contractor.
– The contractor generally buys from the homestead store. The proprietors of the big stations will not be taxed, because they buy tea by the halfchest or the chest; but the small farmer who grows, perhaps, 200 acres of wheat, buys only a 10-lb. caddie. If the Committee desires to deal fairly with those in the country, it will agree tomy request. Further, if there is a desire to give a preference to anybody, it should be given to the small man as against the larger one. Senator Lynch’s argument was to the effect that we should impose a tax on all tea, because the great bulk of it is imported in large packages.
– All tea in bulk quantities.
– It all depends on what the honorable senator means by a bulk quantity. Tea comes into Australia in chests of about 60 lbs. in weight.
– In chests of 80 lbs.
– It is imported in smaller quantities. Senator Lynch wants tea to be taxable when it is imported in quantities of less than 100 lbs., which means a tax on all tea. As the Committee has already decided that there should be a duty of some kind on packet tea, I am not arguing against that. All that I argue is that we should levy the duty in such a way that we shall not unfairly place a tax on the greater portion of the country residents who are the very class that all of us, by our voices at any rate, appear to desire to encourage.
– It seems to me that the sort of packages we have to consider are those which are bought by the poorer classes. The packages in which large quantities of tea are contained are hardly worth considering from our point of view.
– The largest portionof packet tea is done up in 2-lb. and 4-lb. packages.
– I think that the largest portion is put up in1-Ib. and½-lb. packages. I cannot see, from a protectionist stand-point, what is to be gained by increasing the weight of packages, unless it is desired to derive revenue from tea. Of course, if we want to impose a tax upon tea I am quite ready to do so. I think it was a mistake ever to remove the tea duty. But let us impose the tax openly. Senator Needham called attention to the fact that this duty of1d. per lb. is really upon the package. I have tried to ascertain what weight of paper is contained in a1-lb. packet of tea, because that would really be the amount of protection extended to the packing industry. I do not know what the weight is exactly, but at all events the duty on the packing paper would amount to a very substantial protection indeed. Therefore I cannot see that there is any necessity for a large limit.
– The proposal of Senator Millen simply means that the provision in the Tariff regarding taxing packet tea would be used as an engine to make the poorer classes of the community bear the burden of the packing industry. Reducing the weight of packages to 10 lbs. means, if it means anything at all, that all the consumers in the community who cannot afford to pay for an ounce of tea more than 10 lbs. at a time, will have to sustain the packing industry. Our, poorer citizens are unfortunately in a great majority, and they usually buy a pound or half a pound of tea at a time. I hope the Committee will not be led away by the fallacy that has been put forward, because it simply means making a most mischievous difference between purchasers.
. -I have tried to follow the argument of Senator Lynch, but can make nothing of it. He voted to impose a duty on tea, and now, because Senator Millen proposes to reduce the size of the packets which will be taxable, from 20 to 10 lbs., he objects. Of course, people in towns usually buy their tea weighed on the scale by the storekeeper, and done up in packets by him. They will escape duty altogether. But there are hundreds of settlers who only come into a town once a month or once in two months, and buy enough tea to keep them going until they come to town again. The tea which they buy is usually done up in 10 or 5-lb. boxes. It is imported like that. Senator Millen contends, and I agree with him, that we should give such a purchaser the same advantages as we give to the men in towns, who buy their tea in small quantities direct from the grocer. I do not think that that is an unreasonable thing to ask.
– I should like to hear an explanation from the Minister representing the Government as to why they have departed from the recommendation of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission.
– I made that clear whenI spoke.
– The 10-lb. tin is a most convenient form for buying and selling tea. A 20-lb. package is clearly inconvenient. Very often farmers and miners, who visit a town at intervals of some weeks, would find it inconvenient to buy a 20-lb. package. The 10-lb. tin, however, is particularly convenient, both for household purposes and for purposes of inland transportation.
– Experience shows that a considerable quantity is imported in packages of 20 lbs. and less for the retail trade.
– But the Minister has not shown how much is imported in 5-lb. packages.
– What the Minister says may be a sufficient reason for a dragnet duty if the Government are looking for revenue, but otherwise the convenience of settlers should be considered. The 10-lb. package has superior advantages over the 20-lb. package for settlersin Australia, and for that reason I shall strongly support Senator Millen’s request.
– I desire to move for the insertion of a smaller quantitythan that proposed in Senator Millen’s request.
– The lower quantity will be voted on first. Perhaps Senator Millen will withdraw his request, to give Senator Macfarlane an opportunity.
Request, by leave, withdrawn.
– What occurs to me is that the original purpose in making tea duty free was to give the poorer classes a chance of getting their tea cheaply. But why should not the poor man in the bush be able to get his 5 or 10-lb. package as cheaply as the poor man in the town, who buys his tea in a1-lb. or½-lb. package? A 10-lb. tin is a package in the ordinary sense of the word. It cannot be said that any great industry is affected by dividing a 40-lb. chest of tea into four 10-lb. chests or packages. I therefore move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 105, paragraph a, by leaving out the figures “ 20 “ with a view to insert in lieu thereof the figure “5.”
Question put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 105, paragraph a,½d. per lb.
– The honorable senator cannot now move a request respecting the duty. The Committee have already discussed and dealt with a request’ to make the item free, and we have since dealt with a request regarding the weight in packets. The honorable senator should have moved his request after we had dealt with the question that the House of Representatives Be requested to make the tea dealt with in paragraph a free.
– The request to which you have referred; Mr. Chairman, was moved prior to my having an Opportunity to take action.
– The honorable senator had an opportunity to submit his request after the division on the request that packet tea be free.
– So far as I understand the position, Mr. Chairman, we have not yet approached the duty. . Senator Henderson’s request was that paragraph a be struck out, and related to the line itself and not to the column in which the duty appears.
– He moved a request that the line be made free.
– That request was negatived. Surely it is competent now for an honorable senator to move a request with regard to the amount of the duty.
– I would draw attention to the fact that, we cannot strike out an item under which duty has been collected ; the item must remain in the Tariff. I put Senator Henderson’s request that this item be made free, and I admit that the proper course would have been to deal first of all with the line and then with the duty. Since owing to my ruling some confusion appears to have arisen I shall permit Senator Gray to move his request unless there is any objection.
– Then in submitting my request I shall only say that I do so because evidence was given before the Tariff Commission that½d. per lb. is sufficient to cover all the expenses incidental to the packing of tea.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Division V. - Textiles, Felts and Furs, and Manufactures thereof, and Attire : -
Item 106. Apparel and Attire - Woollen or Silk, or containing Wool or Silk - partly or wholly made up; including articles cut into shape (General Tariff), ad val. 45 per cent. ; and on and after 7th November, 1907, 40 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), 40 per cent. ; and on and after 7th November, 1907, 35 per cent.
– We have now reached a very important division, and as it is one with which we desire to deal as comprehensively as possible, I think that it would be somewhat awkward, Mr. Chairman, if I were obliged to observe closely the very proper ruling which you gave at the outset of our consideration of the Tariff, that the discussion must be confined to the item immediately before the Chair. I should like to have an opportunity to make a few general remarks regarding this division, and I think that it would tend to expedite business if a certain number of items were postponed, in order to enable us to begin our work at the proper point. I, therefore, hope that the indulgence of the Committee will be extended to me if I make a few general remarks in favour of the postponement of items 106 to 122 inclusive.
– The proposal is to postpone items 106 to 122 inclusive, in order that we may deal withitem 123, and that as soon as we have disposed of that item we shallgo back to item 106 ?
– That is so.
– Then let usdo that. The Government offer no objection.
– I am claiming the right to give my reasons for proposing that these items be postponed.
– I do not think that the honorable senator can discuss any item save item 106, which is now before us.
– I wish to discuss certain general principles.
– The honorable senator may give reasons for postponing item 106.
– But we consent to the postponement.
– It would be rather bad form for the leader of the Senate to endeavour to interrupt me, when my object is to expedite the business of the Committee by making a general explanation regarding the relationship of these various items.
– When I consent to the honorable senator’s suggestion, I am told that I am interrupting him.
– I thought that the attitude assumed by the honorable senator was that I should not address myself to the question of postponement; that the items I have mentioned should be at once postponed, and that I should proceed immediately to discuss item 123. That would prevent my making the observations I wish to offer regarding the intervening items, which are closely related. I desire, first of all, to deal with the division as a business man, and may say at once that it is somewhat difficult to discuss it from the various stand-points from which we ought to consider it. I am a moderate protectionist. Whilst I do not believe in extravagant protection, I certainly favour such protection as is calculated to give fair play to Australian workers, and to take into account Australian conditions.
– Then why sit in opposition to a protectionist Government?
– So far as the principle of protection is concerned, I am not in opposition to them. I have already explained that point to my new colleagues. I have come over here, just as other protectionists associated with the Opposition have done, with an absolutely free hand in regard to fiscal matters. As a protectionist I am desirous of securing consistent protection. I do not wish to see some petty industry granted extreme protection, whilst other industries which, according to figures that I can produce, are highly important receive only a small modicum of assistance. Then, as a business man, I desire to remove anomalies with a view to simplifying the Tariff in the interests alike of the mercantile community and of the Customs Department. I cannot forget that I represent a, State which, is not blessed with a very large surplus revenue, and which is called upon to bear a larger amount of direct taxation than is any other State.
– Does the honorable senator think that his remarks are pertinent to item 106 ? To my mind he is now dealing with the general revenue aspect of the Tariff.
– I desire to call attention to this particular division as a revenue-producing division of the Tariff.
– Surely the honorable senator dees not intend to discuss the whole division ?
– I should have completed my remarks ere this, had I not been so continuously interrupted.
– The honorable senator will be out of order in discussing the whole division upon this particular item.
– I am not discussing it upon item 106, but upon a proposal to postpone items 106 to 122 inclusive until after (he consideration of item 123. I think that I am perfectly in order in pointing cut the complicated character of this Tariff, the intricacies of which lead to varying interpretations being given by the Customs Department in different States, and occasionally to varying interpretations being given in the same place. Surely such a state of -things is undesirable. In connexion with the need for simplifying the Tariff, I will direct the attention of the Vice-President of the Executive Council to complaints which have been made, not against tha Department-
– I must ask the honorable senator not to pursue that line of argument. He is not discussing item
– I do not profess to be discussing that item.
– But I must ask the honorable senator to do so.
– The motion before the Committee has reference to the postponement of items 106 to 122 inclusive until after the consideration of item
– There is no such motion before the Committee. I asked honorable senators if there were any requests upon this item.
– As a matter of fact, I had previously submitted this proposal, and the Vice-President of the Executive Council accepted it.
– Surely that ends it.
– It does not.
– The honorable senator can only discuss the question of the postponement of the various items upon this motion.
– I would point out how extremely inconvenient it would be, if. under a motion for the postponement of an item or a number of items, an honorable senator were allowed to wander all over the Tariff. Such a course would have the effect of entirely defeating my ruling. It will be . recollected ‘ that at the outset I stated that, with the assistance of the Committee, I would endeavour to confine the discussion to the particular item before the Chair. I must therefore ask the honorable senator to discuss item 106.
– I shall find it very difficult to get along under such circumstances, because I fear that in discussing any particular item I shall not be able to point out its relationship to other items.
– The honorable senator can give reasons why it is related to other items.
– The Chairman has already treated me as if I were dealing with item 106, and has ruled that I cannot make the observations which I wish to make. If I am not at liberty to do that now, I shall not be at liberty to do it upon item 123. I therefore move -
That items 106 to 122 inclusive be postponed until after the consideration of item 123.
-42]- - I object to the proposed postponement of these items, for which no reason whatever has been offered.
– As I understand the position, Senator Mulcahy has moved that items 106 to 122 inclusive be postponed until item 123 has been dealt with. I think that such a proposal is a reasonable one, because, after the duty has been fixed upon item 123, which constitutes the raw material of the other items, we shall be in a better position to deal with the taxation that should be levied upon apparel made up from that raw material. From that stand-point, I see no objection to the motion.
– - - Senator Neild has asked for some reason why this motion should be submitted. In the first place, I would point out the relationship which the various items bear to each other.
– The Government have agreed to accept the honorable senator’s motion.
– But Senator Neild asked for. reasons why the motion should be agreed to. .1 wish to point out the anomalies that exist under the present Tariff. As a matter of fact, there are ample reasons why the postponement for which I ask should be granted, but I do not intend to enter” into them at the present stage.
Motion agreed to.
Item 123. Piece Goods, * viz. : -
*Definition of Piece Goods. - When material is defined by selvedge or by pattern for cutting up into separate articles, it is not to be considered Piece Goods but as dutiable under the heading applying tothe article into which it is designed to be made. Tasselled, Whipped (with or without loops), or Taped Curtain material, when not defined for cutting up, is to be considered Piece Goods.
Subject to rebate under the conditions speci fied in the Schedule hereto.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [4.45]. - It will be noted that, by a footnote, this item is made “ subject to rebate under the conditions specified in the schedule hereto.” I cannot find the schedule in question, and I doubt very much whether it exists. If it does, I have missed it. Certainly it does not appear to be printed.
– May I explain to Senator Neild that, as originally introduced, the schedule contained a proposal for a rebate of duty upon certain raw materials. The proposal was that duty should be rebated to the extent of three-fourths where the raw material was used for the purpose of making waterproof clothing. But the House of Representatives saw fit to strike out that proposal. Many weeks elapsed between the date of the proposals and the consideration of this item in that Chamber, and, in the meantime, the rebate was made in terms’ of the original proposal. When ultimately the proposal was struck out by the other Chamber, the position was that certain persons had been allowed rebate, whilst others had not. It will thus be necessary to re-insert the schedule for the purpose of enabling payment to be made to those persons who did not receive the rebate between the date upon which the Tariff was introduced and that upon which the proviso was eliminated by the House of Representatives. To do justice to all, it will be necessary to preserve the schedule.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [4.48]. - It does not seem to me that the involved explanation of the VicePresident of the Executive Council at all meets the case. Here we have a distinct reference to a schedule which does not exist, but which has to be manufactured hereafter. I ask your ruling, sir, as to whether we can pass an item subject to a schedule of which we know nothing, and of whose terms we have not the faintest idea. I have no desire to createdifficulties, but merely wish to put things in order. I suggest that the Vice-President of the Executive Council should move to omit the reference to a schedule which does not exist, and re-introduce it at a later stage.” Certainly he should not ask us to do something which we are clearly incapable of doing. At least, the course which he proposes is more than inconvenient, and is most unusual. I do not think that such a proposition was ever heard of before. We might just as reasonably be asked to agree to clauses in a Bill which is not before us. This schedule is practically a clause of a Bill, and it is not before us.
– I thought I made it clear that as originally introduced there was a schedule containing only two items, by one of which three- fourths of the duty paid on piece goods of any material for use in the manufacture of rubbered waterproof cloth was to be rebated. Another place struck this schedule out, and therefore it does not appear in the Bill now before the Committee, butI explained that I propose to ask for its reinsertion in order to permit of the rebate of duty being paid to a few persons on the same lines as it was paid to others during the period intervening between the introduction of the schedule in another place and the date on which it was struck out. I shall circulate the amendment before the consideration of this schedule is completed.
– I understood Senator Neild to ask for a ruling. My ruling would be that the footnote is not before the Committee. It is merely for the information of the Committee, and is not part of the Bill.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [4.52]. - In the circumstances I shall make no further difficulties. We all want to get on with the business, and I will not raise a technical objection.In accordance with notice which I have given, I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 123, paragraph a (imports under General Tariff), 25 per cent. ad val.
The duty proposed in the schedule is 30 per cent. It was previously 15 per cent. Surely an increase of 10 per cent. is large enough, whereas the duty as submitted is 100 per cent. higher than the old one.
– And. not. a whit too much either. The honorable senator wants merely a revenue duty which accomplishes nothing except to tax the people.
– The honorable senator’s observation is very untimely, as these are piece goods required to supply work to the workers of the Commonwealth.
– We can produce the piece goods here.
– Unfortunately we do not.
– There is no reason why we should not.
– There is no reason why we should not grow polar bears in the Gulf of Carpentaria if we wanted to and cared to spend the money. The proposed duty is an enormous advance on a large item, and will strike very heavily at the consumer. It must be a serious detriment to the clothing manufacturers of the Commonwealth to have to pay double the duty which they have paid hitherto.
It is true that the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission recommended 30 per cent., but the free-trade section, as it is called, recommended 10 per cent. The mean between theto would be 20 per cent. I am proposing 5 per cent. above the mean, so thatI cannot be accusedof advocating an unduly low rate. I hope my motion will receive the very careful consideration and afterwards the support of the Committee.
.- I shall be glad if Senator Neild will withdraw his motion to allow me to move a prior one.
Request, by leave, withdrawn.
– I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 123, paragraph A, by leaving out the words “ and rubbered waterproof cloth of any material.”
I propose, if that is agreed to, to move a request for the insertion of a new paragraph g as follows : -
– The honorable senator proposes to make the duty upon those lines higher than it is now.
– In some instances it will be higher, and in some lower, in the case of the raw material. Here is a model of a buggy rug. In its manufactured state the rug comes in at duties of 25 per cent (General Tariff) and 20 per cent. (United Kingdom). The duties on rubbered cloth used to make the same kind of rug in Australia are 30 per cent. (General Tariff) and 25 per cent. (United Kingdom), so thatthere is a higher duty upon the raw material than upon the manufactured article.
– All the material in that rug does not pay that rate of duty.
– No ; the duties on the inside material - sealette - are 20 per cent. (General Tariff) and 15 per cent. (United Kingdom).
– Why should we not make the rubbered cloth here?
– I am not dealing with that part of the question just now. Here is another model of a buggy rug, which in its finished state is admitted at duties of 25 per cent (General Tariff) and 20 per cent. (United Kingdom). On the piece goods of the same material for making up here the duties are 30 per cent. (General Tariff) and 25 per cent. (United Kingdom). So that again there is a higher duty on ‘the raw material than on the manufactured article.
– Do not forget that the duty on the raw material reduces the price to the man who manufactures the rug ! We have been told that often enough.
– I will not make that admission. Whatever limb Senator Millen is trying to pull, I know he desires to do what is- fair.
– To reduce the duty on the raw material in these cases ?
– Yes; that is all that the manufacturers are asking. The duties on rubbered waterproof cloth containing wool are 30 per cent. (General Tariff) and 25 per cent. (United Kingdom). The duties on apparel are 40 per cent. (General Tariff) and 35 per cent. (United Kingdom). The duties on cotton rubbered waterproof apparel are 35 percent. (General Tariff) and 30 per cent. (United Kingdom), while under this item the duties on cotton rubbered waterproof cloth are 30 per cent. (General Tariff) and 25 per cent. (United Kingdom). I could go on enumerating anomalies in the duties on the manufactured article and on what is considered by the people interested in this industry to be their raw material.
– I wish to be quite clear as to whether the honorable senator proposes to put the material under a higher or lower duty if it is struck out of this item.
– By the new paragraph g which I shall propose the duties on rubbered waterproof cloth, woollen or containing wool, will be made 35 per cent, under the General’ Tariff and 30 per cent, against the United Kingdom. That will mean - an additional protection so far as the industry of waterproofing woollens is concerned. On rubbered waterproof cloth, silk or containing silk, but not containing wool, I propose to leave the duties at the same rate as under paragraph a of this item, while on waterproof cloth n.e.i., I desire, the duties to be reduced to 20 per cent. (General Tariff) and 15 per cent. (United Kingdom). As paragraph a now stands, it subjects all kinds of rubbered waterproof cloth to duties of 30 per cent. (General Tariff) and 25 per cent. (United Kingdom). Only in the case of rubbered cloth, woollen or containing wool, do I propose to increase the duties. The manufacturers of rubbered cloth desire a certain amount of protection. Some of them are engaged very extensively in the industry. I believe the Dunlop people employ a considerable number of hands, and have spent large sums on machinery. They and others rightly claim the same measure of protection as has been extended to other industries.
.- Senator Findley intimated to me his intention of moving the request which he has fore-, shadowed. I have no difficulty in accepting it, because it is strictly in accord with the objects which the Government had in view when they originally introduced the measure.
– Then, why did not the honorable senator introduce it himself?
– Will the honorable senator content himself with minding his own business, and not mine? The Government originally proposed to allow a rebate of three-quarters of the duty charged on piece goods to be manufactured into rubbered material. Under paragraph a of this item, piece goods, woollen or containing wool, n.e.i., and rubbered waterproof cloth of any material, are dutiable at 30 per cent, and 25 per cent. Consequently, the maker of rubbered waterproof cloth of woollen material gets, no protection, practically. Under item 106, apparel and attire - woollen or silk, or containing wool or silk - is dutiable at 40 per cent. (General Tariff) and 35 per cent. (United Kingdom), while under item 107 apparel and attire n.e.i. for the human body, made of any material not containing wool or silk, is dutiable at 35 per cent. (General Tariff) and 30 per cent. (United Kingdom). It is sought to have a reduction of the duty, so far as waterproofed cotton goods are concerned, because, according to item 107, under which the apparel made from these is included, they are dutiable at 35 and 30 per cent. The proposal now in regard to goods of silk, or containing silk, but not containing wool, is that the duties shall be 30 and 25 per cent., and that waterproofed cloth, n.e.i. shall bear duties of 20 and 15 per cent. That was “the point on which Senator Findley was pilloried, and which he “had overlooked for a moment. Let me explain that the original intention of the Government was to protect this particular industry, but, by reason of the alteration made elsewhere, no protection was given, because, as I have explained, rubbered waterproof cloth of any material, which is the raw material of the apparel industry, bears a duty of 30 and 25 per cent. When we turn to item 107 we see. that apparel and attire as against the United Kingdom bear a duty of only 30 per cent., with the result that there is no protection whatever afforded to the industry.
– Does this come under apparel ?
– Of course it does.
– Under item 106?
– No, 107.
– Is a buggy rug attire for the human body?
– I hope my friend will follow me. When Senator Findley proposes to strike out the words “ and rubbered waterproof cloth of any material,” he does so with the object of giving protection to this industry. The honorable senator’s proposal isto increase the duty to 35 and 30 per cent. on rubbered waterproof cloth of wool or containing wool , it being borne in mind that this will give a protection of only 5 per cent. In regard to waterproofed piece goods of silk, or containing silk, the idea is to have a duty of 30 and 25 per cent., which is the same as the old proposal, but, at the same time, gives a proper protection. Then, thirdly, on waterproofed piece goods n.e.i. - principally cottons - the proposed duty is 20 and 15 per cent. Honorable senators will bear in mind that there are practically three persons to be considered. There is first the manufacturer of the piece goods, who, according to item 123, is given a. protection of 30 and 25 per cent., and, when the raw material is made up into waterproof fabric, there is a protection of only 5 per cent. as regards the woollens. The next person to be considered is the manufacturerwho makes this waterproof from wool and cotton, and the third is the manufacturer of the apparel from the waterproof material. As i have already pointed out, in the case of the first mentioned there is a duty of only 25 per cent.
– Then that comes under item 107.
– Without this amendment the position is that waterproofed woollens come under 123 a at the same rate as the raw material therefor, namely, woollen piece goods. There is conse quently no protection to the proofing industry. The amendment provides a 5 per cent. protective margin. It also increases the protective margin on apparel made from waterproof cottons by reducing the rate on the piece goods.
– I should like it made abundantly clear that the proposal of Senator Findley. apparently made with the benediction of the Government, is distinctly one to raise duties, not by the modest 5 per cent. mentioned by Senator Best, but by as much as 15 per cent., or 300 per cent, more than is presented in the schedule before us.
– That is not correct.
– I shall endeavour to show that my statement is correct. We have here an example of the extraordinary way that Customs officials have - it may be unavoidably- of hiding things under the phraseology they employ. We are told, apparently after much thought by the VicePresident of the Executive Council, that, under item 107,which deals with attire for the human body, there are comprised ordinary buggy rugs.
– Item 114 provides for buggy, rugs.
– So I thought, but Senator Best says no. If we are entitled to call a buggy rug an article of human attire, we are equally entitled as suggested by Senator Neild to so describe an ordinary door mat. If the Minister has not made a mistake then I say that the method of the Customs officials in keeping from Parliament information we ought to have does not commend itself to me, nor, I think, to the Committee. Whatever the -rate of duty may be, we ought to know exactly the articles on which the duty is imposed.
– The honorable senator is under a misapprehension. I spoke of waterproof apparel, such as overcoats, whereas the honorable senator is talking about rugs.
– And I interjected a question, whereupon the Vice-President of the Executive Council said decisively, though, I think, rather angrily, that the article came under item 107.
– I was referring to waterproof clothing; rugs come under item 114.
– The Minister said nothing about item 114.
– I was not referring to rugs.
– I was referring to the5 per cent. protection which the existing
Tariff gives to rugs, and now the Minister refers me to item 114, where I find that the protection is 10 per cent. It was not right, if the Minister will allow me to say so, for him to point out that only 5 per cent, protection was given when on an enormous proportion of the articles to which Senator Findley referred the lowest margin is 10 per cent. The present proposal is to give a protection of 100 per cent, more than that of the Tariff before us. The duty n.e.i. is 20 per cent, and 15 per cent., and I take it that this means cotton goods, seeing that woollen and silk goods are specially provided for. Seeing that the duty on these rugs, according to Senator Findley, is to remain at 35 and 30 per cent., and that he proposes to let the raw material, when not containing wool or silk, in at 20 and 15 per cent., he is giving the difference between those two duties. lt is idle for the Minister to talk of 5 per cent., when, in some instances,’ the duty amounts to 10 per cent., and in others to 15 per cent. Whatever the measure of protection, it should be clearly understood that 5 per cent, does not represent the solid facts of the case. If Senator Findley’s amendment be carried, there will be, in some cases, 10 per cent., and in others 15 per cent, margin; in other words, he proposes to double the measure of protection.
- Senator Findley’s proposal is to make the duty on material containing wool, 35 and 30 per cent. ; on silk, 30 and 25 per cent. ; and n.e.i., which means cotton materials, 20 and 15- per cent. In order to simplify matters, I shall deal only with the figures in the general Tariff, seeing that the proportion between that and the preference Tariff is the same right through. Under the Tariff as before us, goods under item 123 have to pay 30 per cent., and Senator Findley proposes to make the duty n.e.i., 20 per cent. But under item 114, rugs, to which Senator Best has drawn my attention, are charged 25 per cent., showing a difference of 5 per cent. Senator Findley contended that the duty was higher on the raw material than on the made-up goods.
– And that is so, undoubtedly.
– I am not disputing that. But I say that the answer to the argument is that we ought to reduce the duty on the raw material.
– That is one answer but not necessarily “ the “ answer.
– It is “the” answer. If, for the reason alleged, the manufacturer of waterproof goods has not a sufficient measure of protection, then we ought to take the step I have suggested. Hitherto protectionists have tumbled over themselves in order to assure us that the imposition of a duty cheapens the cost of the article, and, if the manufacturers are getting the benefit of cheapness thus induced, what injustice do they suffer as compared with the importer of the manufactured article? Senator Findley, when this question was put to him, saw the advisability of smiling it off.
– I have got a satisfactory reply. The honorable senator has put his case aright from his point of view, but he is mistaken.
– I am anxious to clear up the point whether or not a duty cheapens commodities.
– It cheapens commodities.
– Then the manufacturer has no cause of complaint.
– Except that he desires a duty against the importer.
– No doubt a manufacturer desires as much as he can get. But we must distribute these duties with some regard to fixed principles. If it be claimed that duties have a tendency to lessen cost, then the manufacturer has no grievance, because he is getting his raw material more cheaply by reason of the duties which Senator Findley and his friends have succeeded in imposing. I know that protectionists believe that the imposition of a duty on an article has the effect of reducing its price.
– I do not know that any one has said that.
– I venture to say that if the honorable senator were to make an analysis he would find that at least one-half of the space occupied in Hansard by Senator Trenwith is filled with solemn assurances that the effect of the imposition of a duty has been by stimulating production to lower the price of the article. The point on which I desire to lay stress is that Senator Findley is seeking to raise duties. I notice that he shakes his head. I think it is necessary that we should know what’ he does propose. It is quite obvious that, with the object of removing an anomaly, he is seeking to enlist the sympathies of those who, like myself, might be with him on that point. But at the same time he is trying to secure votes to get higher protection than the Tariff already conveys.
.- It is true that my request at first sight suggested an increase in the duty on perhaps two items, but that is. not so. Let.me take the position as it stands now. On rubbered waterproof cloth made pf any marterial the duty is 30 per cent, in the general Tariff and 25 per cent, in the preferential Tariff. My request, if adopted, will make the duty on waterproof cloth 5 per cent, higher. On silk goods the duty will be exactly the same; but on cotton goods it will be very much lower, because if honorable senators will refer to item 123 they will find that cotton is free when imported from the United Kingdom and liable to a duty of 5 per cent, when imported from other countries. My request involves an increase of the duty on woollen goods because we produce wool, but it means a very considerable decrease in the duty on cotton goods. If my request be adopted the duty on woollens before proofing will be 30 and 25 per cent. ; and when proofed 35 and 30 per cent. The duty on silks before proofing will be 20 and 15 per cent., and when proofed 30 and 25 per cent. The duty on cottons before proofing will be 5 per cent, and free, and when proofed 20 and 15 per cent. I feel that the claims of those on whose behalf this request - is submitted are so reasonable that it will receive the support of the majority of honorable senators.
– I cannot see any reason why there should be any discrimination between two pieces of woollen fabric which, as every one knows, are made in Australia. It appears to be the object of Senator Findley to reconcile a difficulty in connexion with the manufacture of rugs.
– Not rugs alone, but waterproof clothing of all descriptions.
– Why should a waterproof coat be favoured with a greater measure of protection than a tweed coat, especially as in each case the material is made here? If the honorable senator desires to remove from this paragraph rubber goods which are not all wool and bring them in consonance with similar materials mentioned elsewhere, that .is quite right; but that does not involve’ an increase of duty.
– His request involves a substantial reduction.
– The proposal at the present time is that we shall place an . additional duty of 5 per cent, on woollen goods, of which a very large proportion comes in, and take 10 per cent, off the inferior article - cotton - which is not much good to any one, and of which a lesser quantity comes in.
– We produce wool, but not cotton.
– To the extent which the honorable senator desires to remove cotton goods from this item, 1 think that the Committee will be with him, but he is not, to my mind, justified in increasing the high duty on the other articles to 35 per cent. Throughout Australia, a waterproof coat is. an article of necessity, in many cases it is a very great necessity. There is already a very high duty on this material, and there’ is a much higher duty on. the manufactured article. I do not see why we should attempt to make any alteration.
.- There still seems to be some confusion as to Senator Findley’s request. I want to point out two features. In one case, it provides for a protection of 5 per cent, to the manufacture of waterproofs, and in the case of cottons it proposes a very substantial reduction, that is from 30 and 25 per cent, to 20 and 15 per cent. I wish ‘honorable senators to distinguish between waterproof clothing and rugs, -as they come in under different headings. On waterproof cloth made up from piece goods the duty, according to the schedule, is 35 and 30 per cent.
– Under what items do they come in when made up ?
– Under item 106 in the case of wool, and under item 107 in the other case. Cotton is chiefly imported from the United Kingdom,, and consequently there is no protection.
– Will the Minister admit that it is a 10 per cent, difference on the woollen goods?
– In the case of woollen goods, the duty will be 40 per cent, on the apparel, and, of course, it will be 30 per cent, on the other goods. Let me show what the duties are as now proposed in the schedule. The duty on cottons as imported is 5 per cent. ; when proofed, 30 per cent. ; and when made into waterproof coats, 35 per cent. The duty on silks as imported is 20 per cent. ; when proofed, 30 per cent. ; and when made into waterproof .coats, 40 per cent. The duty on woollens as im- ported is 30 per cent. ; when proofed, 30 per cent. ; and when made into waterproof coats, 40 per cent. Let me now show how
Senator Findley’s request, if adopted, will work out. The duty on cottons as imported will be 5 per cent. ; when proofed, 20 per cent. ; and when made into waterproof coats, 35 per cent. The duty on silks as imported will be 20 per cent. ; when proofed, 30 per cent. ; and when made into waterproof coats, 40 per cent. The duty on woollens as imported will be 30 per cent. ; when proofed, 35 per cent. ; and when made into waterproof coats, 40 per cent. I am dealing, of course, in each case with the duty in the general Tariff. I think that honorable senators will see that while the request in one respect means a small protection of 5 per cent., on the whole it is fair and reasonable, and that, as regards waterproof cotton cloth, it means a substantial reduction in the duty.
– I should like to ask whether the Government have not been approached to combine items a and c for the convenience of the Department, as well as customers of the Department? We have had three different circulars on the subject from Sydney, Melbourne, and Tasmanian firms.
– But does the honorable senator propose that in both cases the duty shall be 25 and 20 per cent., or 20 and 15 per cent. ?
– I am not referring to the rate of duty, but to a request that both these items should be included in one to facilitate administration.
– But the rate of duty makes a very great difference.
– The Government will do anything the honorable senator pleases if it involves an increase in the duty.
– The request is made because it is generally admitted that many of these goods are mixed of wool and silk as imported. To include the two items in one would render the administration of the Tariff less difficult, and would lead to the removal of what is now a very great anomaly.
– Senator Findley’s difficulty arises from the fact that there are three kinds of material used in the manufacture of waterproof cloth - cotton cloth, which comes in duty free ; silk, which is dutiable at 15 per cent. if imported from the United Kingdom ; and woollens, which is dutiable at 25 per cent. if imported from the United Kingdom.
– But that only applies to a very small proportion of the importations under this item.
– That is so.; but I am dealing with a particular proposal. The difficulty is that the importer of waterproof cloth from the United Kingdom, has, under paragraph a, to pay 25 per cent. duty, and if he proposes to rubberize woollen materials, he must pay the same rate of duty on the raw material he imports for the purpose.
– Could he not use Australian cloth?
– The man who imports cotton goods from the United Kingdom for this purpose gets his raw material duty free, whereas under paragraph a this material, if made waterproof before it is’ imported, is dutiable at 25 per cent. Senator Findley’s object is to make the Tariff consistent and uniform, but the honorable senator wishes, at the same time, to increase a duty which is already very high, and would thus create a worse anomaly than that which he seeks to remove.
– No, I wish to give additional protection to an Australian industry.
– But the honorable senator overlooks the fact that there are two Australian industries involved in this case, the manufacture of the cloth and the rubberizing of the cloth. As a strong protectionist, we should expect the honorable senator to protect the future manufacturer of waterproof cloth.
– That is what the honorable senator is trying to do.
– No ; the whole object of the proposal is to protect the man who rubberizes woollen material, and a protection of only 5 per cent. is proposed. That would take this material out of the class of goods to which it properly belongs. All materials made waterproof here should be treated on the same basis. I can understand the local manufacturer who rubberizes cotton cloth being given an ample protection of 25 per cent. against the importer of waterproof cotton material, because he is enabled to get his raw material in free. This is only one of the anomalies with which this portion of the Tariff bristles.
– If Senator Findley desires merely to remove an anomaly, he can attain his object by striking out the words “ and rubbered waterproof cloth of any material,” without proposing any subsequent additions to the item. I can see that’ there is an. anomaly in the fact that all rubbered waterproof cloth, irrespective of the material for which it is manufactured, is grouped under one heading, whilst in the case of all other manufactures of cloth a division is made under the headings of different piece goods, that is, woollen, silk, and cotton. I think that a similar division might reasonably be followed in dealing with waterproof cloth. The Vice-President of the Executive Council was able to show that there was no difference between the duty on piece goods and the duty under item 107 by adopting the extraordinary course of taking the general Tariff of 30 per cent. in one case and comparing it with the preferential Tariff in the other.
– I said so.
– But that is an absolutely unfair comparison. We should compare the general Tariff in one case with the general Tariff in another, and the preferential Tariff in one case with the preferential Tariff in the other.
– No, because these importations are from the United Kingdom.
– The importations are in both cases from the United Kingdom, andyet by comparing the general Tariff in the one case with the preferential Tariff in the other, the honorable senator was ableto show that there was no difference in the duty.
– And that is the practical operation of the Tariff.
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that the piece goods come from the United Kingdom, and the manufactured goods from some other country ? We know that in both cases the imports come from the United Kingdom, and it is therefore misleading to compare the general Tariff in one case with the preferential Tariff in the other. If my suggestion, that rubbered waterproof cloth should be divided, and included under the separate headings ofwoollen, silk, and cotton goods, as are all other manufactures of cloth, were adopted, it would follow that, instead of there being a difference of 5 per cent, in some cases there would be the same measure of difference between piece goods employed for this purpose, and the manufactured article, as there is in the case of every other article of apparel and attire. I see no reason why we should depart from that principle in the case of these goods, unless, as Senator Mulcahy has suggested, we desire to give some special protection to the man engaged in rubberising imported material.
– That is Senator Findley’s object.
– I have endeavoured to follow honorable senators, and, if that be the object, I must, in the conflict of expert advice on the subject, have been led astray. I should be very pleased if Senator Mulcahy would throw a little more light on the subject.
– Senator Findley does not propose to impose a duty on imported cotton materials as such. He is proposing to reduce the duties of 30 and 25 per cent. on cotton waterproof materials, and to make waterproof materials made from cotton fabrics dutiable at 20 and 15 per cent. As the Tariff stands, there is no discrimination made in the duty imposed on waterproof materials, whether made of cotton or woollen fabrics.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 123, paragraph a, by leaving out the words “ and rubbered waterproof cloth of any material “ (Senator Findley’s request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [5.54] - I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 123, paragraph a (imports under General Tariff), ad val., 25 per cent.
This proposal to increase, from 15 per cent. to 30 per cent., or by 100 per cent., the rate of duty on the piece goods required by the clothing-making trades, is an unheard of outrage on the people of the country. While it is true that the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission recommended a duty of 30 per cent., the freetrade section recommended a duty of 10 per cent., the mean between which is 20’ per cent. I have not, however, proposed a reduction to 20 per cent., because, in view of the constitution of the Committee, I do not think that I could carry such a proposal ; I, therefore, ask for a reduction of only 5 per cent. Fifteen or twenty years ago there was in Victoria a great struggle between the makers and the users of woollens, between the tweed-spinning trades and the clothing trade. Deputation after deputation waited on the Minister, those on one side pointing out that the spinning industry could not continue to carry on unless the duty on piece goods was raised, and those on the other declaring that the manufacture of clothing would be impossible if there were, an increase of duty, because importers would be able to compete successfully against the local clothing firms. I forget exactly how the difficulty was settled, but the facts afforded an objectlesson which I shall not readily forget.
– The item is one of the most important in the Tarill It is true that under the Tariff of 1902 piece goods were dutiable at 15 per cent., but the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission recommended a duty of 30 percent. The rates now provided for are a considerable reduction upon the original proposals of the Government, while the’ duty on imports from the United Kingdom is -5 per cent, less than was recommended by the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission. The object of the duty is to thoroughly establish the woollen industries of the- Commonwealth. Although’ they nave, assumed substantial proportions, they are not yet so large- as we hope they will become. In New South Wales there are five woollen and tweed mills, employing’ 338 hands; in Victoria nine, employing 1,434’ hands; in Queensland one, employing 117 hands; in South Australia two, employing 155 hands; and in Tasmania four, employing 274 hands. I have no information about Western Australia. These establishments are capable of enormous development. We hope that ultimately none of the wool produced in Australia will leave the Commonwealth as raw material, but that the whole of our exportation will be of textiles and fabrics. In 1906 Australia produced 552,156,737 lbs. of wool, of which 7,249,151 lbs. were used locally, and about 545,000,000 lbs. exported, much of the wool so exported coming back to us as textiles or fabrics ; surely an anomalous state of affairs. We hope, by substantial encouragement to the woollen industry, to increase the local production of textiles and fabrics, so that ultimately we shall have none but the manufactured article to export.
– At any rate, we should manufacture everything we require, to supply our own wants.
– Yes. In 1902 we imported ,£1,924.500 worth of piece goods; in 1903, £r, 395, 900 worth.
– That includes dress goods.
– The figures show the value of the importation of the goods coming under paragraphs a and b of item 123. In 1904 the imports were£1,760,800, in 1905,£1,842,900; and in 1906, £1,939,000. So that honorable senators will see that since 1903 the importations of woollen piece goods have been gradually increasing.
– The trade has been increasing, too.
– Is not that a sign of our development ?
– It is a sign that the duty of 15 per cent. was not effective, and the proposal of the Government is to make the duty more effective.
– The manufacturers say that at present they cannot fulfil orders.
– My honorable, friend must not do himself an injustice. If it is a fact that the manufacturers say so, when they get an assurance of substantial protection, not only will they immediately increase their plant, but they will at once found additional industries. The present manufacturers will at once establish additional woollen machinery, in order to supply the increased demand. It is to facilitate that process that the increased duty is proposed. I take this opportunity of making a few preliminary remarks with regard to woollen goods, trusting that honorable senators will see their way, not under any circumstances, to request any reduction so far as item 123 is concerned.
– I shall support the proposed reduction, but not on the grounds that Senator Neild has advanced in proposing it. I shall do so in the interests of what I consider to be consistent protection. Senator Best has reminded the Committee of the great importance of the woollen industry, and rightly so in my opinion. The woollen industry is already a large one, and I quite agree with my honorable friend that it is capable of exceedingly great expansion. We can make a great deal more woollen fabrics than we now make, and in greater variety. But I do not think that we shall, in our generation, or within the next 100 years, be able to make all the woollen goods we require. I mean that we shall not be able to make them economically.; physically, we can make anything whatever. I absolutely deny that we shall be able to meet all our requirements in this direction. Therefore, we have to consider an item of this kind from two or three stand-points. Those who desire to see protection maintained - and most of us in the Senate, and in the other Chamber, do so desire - but who do not want to see it exaggerated, wish to afford opportunities for the encouragement of local manufactures. But we have also to bear in mind that even ifwe raise the duty to 100 per cent., the local manufacturers will not be able now, or in the immediate future, to provide us with what we want, because our own tastes would not accept what they would make. Just as in regard to women’s fabrics, we go to. all the markets of Europe to supply us with the varieties of dress stuffs that we require, so it is in regard to woollen piece goods. No matter what duty we impose, there will be certain materials and patterns which are not locally manufactured.
– Let those who want such materials pay for them.
– I quite agree with giving our own people fair play. I agree that we should take Australian conditions into account. But what are Australian conditions? We like to see our people living decently and earning good wages. That is why we offer the manufacturers of these commodities fair protection. But we must bear in mind, in dealing with this or any other industry, that the manufacturers of woollen goods are in exceedingly advantageous circumstances. They have not to pay heavy freight on their raw material, and freight to English and foreign manufacturers amounts to a very expensive item in the course of a year. Further, our manufacturers have a fair amount of labour at their disposal, and are able to obtain machinery as good as is used anywhere in the world. But, nevertheless, there are only certain kinds of woollen material that for many years to come Australia will be capable of manufacturing.
– Why not?
– Because we have not got a sufficiently large market. Our market is limited to supplying the wants of 4,000,000 people residing on this Continent, in which there is every variety of climate, from the tropical of the north down to the very cool temperate climate of the south. We cannot possibly for centuries to come hope to be in a position to supply the people of this continent with every variety of woollen goods that they may require. In the United States there are 88,000,000 people. The United States has adopted the policy of encouraging, and protecting local industries. But, notwithstanding her protective policy, America imports very largely, and will continue to import, no matter what duties are imposed. While we give our manufacturers fair play, and should give them reasonably high duties, we must consider the people who consume the goods as well. If honorable senators go to any clothing factory in Victoria - and I quote Victoria as affording the best illustration of my argument, because the largest manufactories of clothing are to be found here- they will find many protectionists among them who are actuated by the desire to make up Australian woollen goods to the greatest possible extent. But, nevertheless, honorable senators will find that nine-tenths of the material that passes through their hands is imported.
– That is not because we cannot make it here.
– That shows the necessity for this higher duty.
– I agree with my honorable friend up to a certain point. I agree that the duty of 15 per cent is not sufficiently high, and that under it the manufactories did not develop in the way I should like to see.
– How was it that manufacturers in Victoria, with a duty of 30 per cent., failed, whilst in Tasmania with 15 per cent, they succeeded?
– I know something about the development of the woollen, industry in Tasmania. What happened in the first instance?
– Was it not started by means of a bounty granted by the State Parliament?
– It was started about 1873 or 1874 by the Government of Tasmania offering a bounty of£1,000 for the first , £1,000 worth of woollens produced and sold. That prize was won by a certain firm. Another firm competed, but did not secure the bounty. What happened? The second firm “went broke “ ; its industry failed. For a long while the woollen industry languished. The mills were able to make flannels of excellent quality, but they carried on in a very small way indeed. The duty at that time was 10 per cent. ad valorem. When it was raised to 12½ per cent., what followed? The woollen mills were able to develop to a small degree. We got the duty up to 15 per cent., and the industry still further developed. When the duty was raised to 20 per cent. , it made a bigger advance, and has been growing ever since. Though it had attained to a degree of perfection before the Federal Tariff was Introduced, it was the duty of 15 per cent. which enabled the manufacturers to stand.
– And the mills in Victoria with a duty of 30 per cent. failed.
– The Tasmanian manufacturers are turning out blankets and flannels equal to the best in the world.
– I wish they were paying the best wages in the world.
– They are paying better wages than the. honorable senator is aware of.
– I am relying on the Royal Commission’s report.
– That is rather misleading in some respects. The Tasmanian manufacturers of woollens are concerned almost entirely with flannels and blankets, and some of them have assured honorable senators that a duty of 15 per cent. is enough for them. I am not arguing that because 15 per cent. is enough for the Tasmanian manufacturers it is enough for Victoria, or that they could turn out woollen piece goods under that duty. But when you raise the duty from5 per cent. to 20 per cent. you make a very substantial increase indeed.
– I have had different assurances from the Tasmanian manufacturers than the honorable senator has reported.
– I have had an assurance from one of them.
– They say that 15 per cent. is not sufficient to enable them to do what they are capable of doing.
– I regard a duty of 15 per cent.as being sufficient for the manufacture of blankets and flannels. As a matter of fact, under a 15 per cent. duty the mills making these goods had more work than they could do. They can get more orders than they can undertake.
– If they were guaranteed a higher duty they would put in more machinery, and be able to carry out much more extensive works.
– I would give 20 per cent. against the United Kingdom and 25 per cent. against foreign manufacturers upon tweeds and woollen piece goods’. I wish to refer to a point that the VicePresident of the Executive Council made as to the importance of the woollen industry. He mentioned the number of people employed in it. I have here an account of the number of people employed in factories in which woollen goods are manufactured compared with the number in connexion with the manufactures of apparel, hosiery, &c. I, preface my remarks on this subject by pointing out that the woollens that we can produce here are limited in range of quality and design. We give a margin ot 25 per cent., and our raw material is close at hand. But in the case of the makers of ready-made clothing, manufacturers of mantles, and other articles of attire, we give a margin of only 10 per cent. That difference is very largely ray reason for supporting a reduction in this instance. I know that there is no chance of the Committee accepting higher rates of duty on apparel than 35 per cent, and 40 per cent. Those duties ought to be ample to protect the manufacturers. But if they do not get a reasonable margin between the raw material and the manufactured article, their efforts are discounted. Now, in the metropolitan district of New South Wales there are three woollen mills, employing 103 males and 160 females - a total of 263 persons. The figures are for 1906. In Victoria there are 1,434 persons employed in the woollen mills. That is to say, the number of employes in Victoria and the chief manufacturing district of New South Wales is 1,697. I am giving the figures for the two States, where the woollen, clothing, and apparel factories are flourishing, under conditions which allow of a comparison being made on exactly equal lines. The number employed in the making of apparel, &c, in the metropolitan district of New South Wales was 11,231, whilst 19,317 were so employed in Victoria. On the other hand, 263 were engaged in the woollen mills of the metropolitan district of New South Wales, and 1,434 in those of Victoria, or a total of 1, ‘69 7.
– If (he duty were removed we should not have half that number employed.
– I do not propose that it shall be removed. I propose that the old duty shall be increased by 33J per cent.
– Increased duties mean an annual increase in the number of persons employed in manufactures in Australia.
– I am willing to vote for an increased duty for the industry, but a point that we have to consider is whether or not a duty is likely not merely to have a protective incidence, but to be a very heavy burden upon the people. Senator Best has quoted figures regarding the revenue received “ from imports coming under this division, which in themselves show that we must have consideration for its revenue aspect. I propose now to put before the Committee the average rates of wages paid in the clothing factories. The average of all is, males 37s. 9d., and females 16s. 9d., per week. The average for males receiving the minimum rate of wage or over is 54s. id., and for females 22s. 4d. Then, again, the average pay of all males employed in the woollen mills is 23s. 9d. per week, whilst the average of all females is 16s. .7d. The average rate of pay of males receiving the minimum wage or over is 39s. 8d. a week, and of females 20s. nd. per week. In both States the wages paid are governed by law. In Victoria, at all events, there are certainly Wages Boards’ determinations in .operation.
– Can the honorable senator say how many males were employed at the average rate of 54s. id. per week?
– That was the average paid to males receiving the minimum wage or over’ for the making of clothing, but I have not at hand a statement showing how many received it.
– The honorable senator does not want any clothing factories in Australia; he would have all clothing free of duty
– That is not so. I am trying to give them a fairer share of protection.
– Having regard to the requests that I have moved-, Senator Findley has no right to make such a statement.
– If T did not think that an increase from 15 per cent, to 20 per cent., would be sufficient to give a vast impetus to the woollen manufactories of Australia, I should be found voting with Senator Findley. I firmly believe that if the old duty be increased by 5 per cent, the industry “will be materially assisted. I have had the advantage of seeing some of the figures relating to the manufacture of woollens, and I know something, of the difficulties which the manufacturers have encountered. As a matter of fact, during the -last few years the woollen manufacturers have been losing money.
– Give them a. show now.
– I desire to do so; but we must take all the circumstances into consideration. The woollen manufacturers, during the last five or six years, have been fairly busy ; but they have been hooking orders in advance, and have had to sell at fixed rates, whilst, at the same time, they have been buying wool in a constantly rising market.
– They should have covered themselves.
– A manufacturer could not do so when he was buying wool on a rising market, and had to deliver at fixed prices. That is one reason why the woollen industry here has not been, during the last few years, a profitable and growing one. Latterly the woollen market has been either stationary or, at all events, not rising, and, as the manufacturers will have, under this proposal, an additional protection of 5 per cent, on imports from the United Kingdom, and of 10 per cent. in the case of foreign goods, I do not see why they should not do well.
Sitting suspended from 6.29 to 7.45 p.m.
– I should like to disabuse Senator Findley’s mind of the idea that honorable senators on this side of the Chamber are not just as keenly anxious for the commercial prosperity of Australia and for the welfare of our manufacturers as is he or any other Conservative protectionist.
– The honorable senator has a peculiar way of. showing it.
– My honorable friend, who has been bred in this glorious land of Goshen, believes that under a protective policy Victoria is the model State of the universe. But probably some of us from a State like New South Wales may be pardoned if we really have some ideas of our own concerning what is best for the welfare of the commercial community. I venture to say that by means of a protective policy the Victorian woollen industry has been bolstered up to an extent that no other industry on the face of the earth has been bolstered up. Yet the Vice-President of the Executive Council and his supporters have the effrontery to point to Victoria as an example of the blessings of protection-
– Until quite recently Victoria has always produced better woollens than has New South Wales.
– New South Wales has manufactured better woollens than Victoria has ever done. Further, the New South Wales mills have kept upon their legs without any Tariff assistance, whereas most of the ‘Victorian mills have gone “ bung “ at one time or another and have been reconstructed. Why, from the stand-point of quality the Tasmanian mills are turning out a far better article than are the Victorian mills.
– The New South Wales manufacturers cannot work as much cotton into their woollens as can the Victorian manufacturers.
– I pass by the results of the analyses of samples submitted to the Tariff Commission which demonstrated the large quantity of “ shoddy “ that is being palmed off on the public of Victoria as the result of a protective policy. In 1878 I find that in Victoria there was a duty of 11 per cent. imposed upon woollens, and the number of hands employed in the industry was 730. In 1881 the duty levied was16½ per cent, and the number of hands engaged was 776; in 1886 the duty was 22 per cent. and the number of hands employed 780. In 1887, under a duty of 22 per cent., there were 704 hands engaged in the industry, in 1889 under a duty of 33 per cent. there were 841 hands employed, but in 1890, with a similar duty operative, this number declined to 810. In 1891, with a 33 per cent. duty still in operation, the number of hands further diminished to 791. I wish to draw special attention to the fact that in 1892, when a 44 per cent. duty upon woollens was operative, there were only 552 hands employed in the industry. The following year, under a 44 per cent, duty, . the number of operatives increased to 639, and in 1895, under the same duty, there was a further increase to 690. But in 1899, when a duty ranging from 16½ per cent. to 27½ per cent. was in force, the number of hands increased to 917. It will thus be seen that the number of hands engaged in the industry increased from 690 in 1895, when a duty of 44 per cent, was in operation, to 917 in 1899, when the duty ranged from16½ to 27½ per cent.
– That is not correct.
– These are official figures which have been supplied to me. In 1903, under a duty of 16½ per cent., the number of hands engaged in the industry was1,013. I seems extraordinary that between 1878 and 1903 - a period of twenty-five years - the total number engaged increased by only 230, notwithstand- ing that the industry had been bolstered up by means of a 44 per cent. duty. Simultaneously, under a duty of 15 per cent., the Tasmanian mills wereable not only to do a good trade, but to pay good dividends, and with a duty of 20 per cent., according to Senator Mulcahy, they did still better.
– But in Tasmania they are better Australians.
– They cannot be better Australians, because my honorable friends opposite, have told us that the wages paid in Tasmania are much lower than those paid in Victoria. Consequently, the Tasmanian operatives cannot be on an equality with those of Victoria.
– In Tasmania they make blankets.
– I do not care what they make. If, under natural conditions, they could make sufficient blankets to supply the whole of the Commonwealth. I should be proud of them. But, under a protective policy, instead of the consumer getting a quidpro quo, he is simply bled. What has been the experience of the woollen industry in Victoria?
– It has turned out better , clothing than has any other State.
– That is not my opinion. I know that six or seven mills were started in Geelong under a certain rate of duty, but the mill-owners were dissatisfied and clamoured for a higher rate. As soon as they had obtained an increased protection, half of them closed down, and the remainder did practically nothing. At the same time the littlemills of Tasmania were paying dividends. If ever there was an illustration of the absolute fallacy of the protectionist doctrine, it is afforded by the State of Victoria. Personally, I like Victoria. I do not altogether like its climate, but I likeits people, and I wish them well in every way. Their political education, however, has beensadly neglected. They have become so inoculated with the protectionist doctrine that they have absolutely gone mad on the fiscal question. Practically the whole of the witnesses who appeared before the Tariff Commission were Victorians, who were shrieking for a higher duty, and complaining, of the deplorably bad times that they were experiencing as the result of the operation of the Commonwealth Tariff. Yet the manager of one Victorian woollen mill not only confessed that his firm were doing better than they did under the higher duty which obtained prior to Federation, but actually declared that on a capital of £60,000 they had paid a dividend of 7½ per cent, for five or six years, and that on the real capital invested, viz., £30,000, they were paying 15 per cent.
– What about the New South Wales mills ?
– I am . pleased to say that they are doing well. They have more orders on hand than they can execute. Only last week a gentleman in Victoria told me that he ordered goods from certain mills, and that he could not be supplied with them under eight months.
– Are not the new South Wales mills asking for this higher protection ?
– I am speaking of a Victorian retailer who happens to be a free-trader.
– He must have “ sneaked “ into Victoria.
– I do not know anything about that. He is very well satisfied with the business he is doing, but he complains that he cannot obtain the goods which he requires on account of the prosperity of the woollen mills. Yet we are asked to tax the people of the Commonwealth upon practically £7,000,000 worth of imports from the Old Country, simply to bolster up these manufacturers. I wish to quote some more figures relating to this industry.
– The honorable senator does not say whether the New South Wales manufacturers desire a higher rate of duty?.
– I have not had the pleasure of interviewing the gentlemen who own the New South Wales woollen mills. But I have no doubt that Mr. Vicars would say that under the present Tariff his mill is doing very well, and that he cannot execute all the orders that he has already received. Nor can the mills in Victoria or anywhere else in Australia. In Victoria the hands employed in the woollen mills number 720 males and 710 females, or a total of 1,430. They earned last year £76,901. In the clothing and tailoring establishments - the places where the raw materials are made up - 1,487 males and 5,513 females are employed, or a total of 7,000 hands, who earned last year £360,789. I quote these figures to show the difference between the employment given by the woollen mills, which are to get the advantage of these increased duties, and that given by the establishments which use this material, for which they have now to pay higher prices. There are employed in the making of clothes nearly five times the number of hands engaged in the producing of the raw material.
– Those are not all employed on woollen goods.
– In dress-making and millinery, in Victoria, 114 men and 7,789 females are employed, while in the underclothing trade the hands consist of 154 males and 3,229 females. These earned last year £129,313. We are practically asked to tax the whole community for the sake of a few woollen mills. I know that I shall meet with a certain amount of coolness when I refer to the Old “Country, but I must point out that our imports of woollen piece goods come almost entirely from the United Kingdom. This duty is therefore levied only againstthe Old Land. Apart from the kindly feeling which we should have towards the Old Country, is it not to the advantage of Australia to give her a real, and not a sham, preference? To put up the duty from 15 to 30 per cent., and then say that we are giving a preference of 5 per cent., is simply insulting the commercial community of the Old Country. What is really being done is to attempt to prohibit the importation into Australia of English woollen goods. Honorable senators opposite will not succeed in doing that, because neither America nor Canada has been able to do it. If we in Australia had any of the pride, or doggedness and perseverance, of the English people we should not, with our natural advantages, need any Tariff protection to enable us to manufacture woollen goods. We are the largest sheep growers in the world; we grow varieties of wool that are exported all over the world. When it goes to England it has to bear railway freight charges, intermediary commission charges, sea freight charges, and more intermediary charges before it reaches the manufacturers. After the goods have been manufactured they have to be returned to us with all the intermediary charges duplicated. I calculate that £100 worth of wool, to go to the Old Country and come back in a manufactured condition to be retailed, costs about £213.
– Why not manufacture it here instead of sending it to the Old Country?
– I am pointing out the great advantages that Australia has over every other country for manufacturing wool. Yet it is said, “ We cannot do it unless, in addition to all those extraordinary charges, we impose almost a prohibitive duty of 30 per cent.” . I do not say that Australia cannot manufacture woollen piece goods. She can do it, and I believe will do it within a few years, because our manufacturers have risen to the knowledge that they have the means and ability and, I hope, the machinery, which is a great factor., to enable them to produce woollen goods equal to what is imported, without needing these extraordinary, crutches, which will only retard our progress. But. as our manufacturers say that they cannot do it at present, we ought to have regard to the great advantages given by the interchange of commerce. We depend greatly upon freight conditions for the value of our exports. If we prohibit importations it will mean increased freights from Australia to Europe, as ships will not come here empty. If we shut ourselves up we shall have to pay for it in other directions.
– Ships go to Newcastle empty.
– They may do so from some ports, but not from the Old Country. Does Senator Guthrie know of a single ship that comes from the Old Country in ballast to Newcastle for coal? The honorable senator is silent ; he cannot mention one. I regretted to see a certain cablegram published this morning. When a Minister of the Crown in the Old Country states that the English people are watching with thoughtful earnestness the policy which the Commonwealth of Australia is adopting towards the interests of that country-
– That is as regards navigation.
– If I can read between the lines it refers also to the fiscal question which we are now discussing. Nearly the whole value of our exports depends upon the Old Country. What should we do in Australia with our butter, tallow, sheep skins, and wool if it were not for the Old Country? Before we commit ourselves to these prohibitive duties on woollen goods, we should recognise all that we owe to the Old Country. That may be called sentiment. Honorable senators opposite may say that England would not take our goods if she did not want them. But the fact remains that we depend almost entirely upon her for our prosperity.
– And our safety.
– Australia for the last 100 years has been defended largely at the expense of the Mother Country. We owe her something for what she has done for us in the past. I intend to move a request that the duties be made 20 per cent, under the general Tariff and 15 per cent, to the United Kingdom.
– In order to allow Senator Gray to submit his request, Senator Neild will have to withdraw the request now before the Chair.
– In accordance with an established rule followed, except in rare circumstances, I beg leave to withdraw my request temporarily.
Request, by leave, withdrawn.
Request (by Senator Gray) put -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 123, paragraph a (imports under General Tariff), ad val. 20 per cent.
The Committee divided.
Majority … … 9
Question so resolved in the negative.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [8.20]. - I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 123, paragraph a (imports under General Tariff), ad val. 25 per cent.
No good purpose would be served by repeating the arguments I have already advanced in favour of making the general Tariff 25 per cent., with, of course, the subsequent intention of moving a reduction of 5 per cent, in favour of the United Kingdom. However, I hope I shall not be deemed tiresome if I suggest that there is a great deal in what was urged by Senator Gray as to presenting practically a closed door to the country which is the chief customer for our wool export. In pursuance of some remarks made, before dinner, I beg to be allowed to refer to a difficulty of the Australian manufacturer of woollen goods in supplying the local market with all that is required. This is a limited market under any circumstances, and there are required at least five different kinds of machinery to turn out the blankets, woollens, tweeds, worsteds, and broad cloths we are all anxious to see manufactured here. Even if I do not like high duties, there “is no honorable senator, not even the most pronounced protectionist, who wishes more sincerely than I to see the growth of the local industry. The only difference between us is that I desire to see the industry grow healthily, and not at the expense of the whole community.
– Earlier in the evening, the VicePresident of the Executive Council remarked that this is one of the most important items in the Tariff. With that remark I can cordially agree; and for that reason, although the honorable gentleman seems impatient for a division, I venture to add a few words to the discussion. The enormous jump from the old Tariff of 1902 strikes me with some amazement. The duty in another place was reduced from 30 to 25 per cent., and escaped a, further reduction by only one vote.
– We shall remedy that here.
– Is it the intention of the Government to propose to restore this duty to .the figure at -which it stood when the_Tariff was originally introduced?
– ‘Why not?
– I do not know; but if that be the Government’s intention we should have been made aware of the fact when the item came before us. If the Government, instead of taking that open and frank course, are trying to ascertain whether they can obtain support for the proposal, future developments will show. If we are to believe what the interjection of the Minister suggests, the Committee were entitled to the fullest information.
– All that I intend to convey is that we shall have a bigger majority in this Committee for the item as it is introduced.
– That is not remedying the step taken in another place.
– I was speaking of the majority of one vote referred to by the honorable senator.
– If that is the explanation, of course I accept it. When so large an increase in the duty is proposed, not on a small, but on an important item, surely we are entitled to some .substantial reason. The only reason that could justify such a proposal must be found in the nature of the industry itself. I have lived in the hope that some one would tell us that the increased duty is necessary for the preservation or the growth and expansion of the industry.
– Do not the imports furnish an argument?
– Am I to take it that the imports furnish the only argument which the most ultra-protectionist has to put forward?
– That is only one argument.
– Then I shall deal with that one argument, because it is all that I have heard.
– The honorable senator did not happen to be present when other arguments were advanced.
– I have been present, and listened to the discussion with considerable persistence, but I have not yet heard a protectionist advance any substantial reason why this industry should be given increased protection. _ So far as I can learn from the reports of the Tariff Commission, this industry has done remarkably well with a duty of. 15 pei cent. ; there is no evidence of decay, retrogression, or even of stagnation.
– This is a small infant, and we wish it to grow.
– We are now told that if a little more protection be given this bantling will grow. What more protection is wanted than that which the industry enjoyed in Victoria? How long have we- to spoon feed this precious bantling, which was apparently starved on duties of 40 and 50 per cent, in Victoria? It would be better to pension every manufacturer and employe than to impose duties which, as I shall show from the evidence of the manufacturers themselves, represent a. burden on the consumer, lt is curious to observe, in looking through the evidence, that those who put forward the most strenuous demands for higher duties are those who’] all through their manufacturing lives, have lived under the highest protection. The men who started under free-trade and have been going along under the comparatively low duty of ibc Commonwealth were apparently satisfied. They made no complaints. The loud objections, the demands for more protection, came always from the Victorian manufacturers, who had an opportunity of building up their industries under the very high duties which prevailed in the preFederation days.
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that the woollen manufacturers of New South Wales have not asked for, and do not require, more protection ?
– Once we let a manufacturer taste blood, he will always ask for more. I might as well ask my honorable friend if a duck will swim.
– The honorable senator said that it was only the Victorian manufacturers who asked for more protection.
– No. What I said was that the loud objections,- the strenuous complaints, emanated from the Victorian manufacturers.
– That was because there were more of them.
– It was not because there were more manufacturers in Victoria that they made the loudest noise.
– It was because they were healthier and more vigorous.
– Twenty-five years ago, the Victorian manufacturers assured the people of Victoria that, if they were only given a reasonable measure of protection for a limited period, they would be able to establish their industries, and then stand alone without the aid of Tariff support. But every time there has been any public tendency to look into the Tariff we have always had from that source the one cry, “ We cannot live without high duties.” That was the burden of their prayer to the Tariff Commission.
– Does not that prove their intelligence?
– It proves their greed, and that is the same thing in a Victorian mind. It proves that if we give them the 25 per cent, which they are asking for to-day, they will ask to-morrow for 30 per cent. ; that if we give them the 30 per cent., they will ask for 40 per cent; ; and that when they get the 40 per cent.”, they will ask for 50 per cent. It is about the safest thing I know to predict that an industry which has been built up under a system of protection will ask incessantly for more help. There has never been a case where any manufacturers, no matter how liberally they have been subsidized by a State Tariff, have come forward and said to the Legislature, “ We are grateful to you for the support you gave us in our early days. That struggle is over, and we can dispense with the duty.” At one period in its history, Victoria had duties ranging up to 44 per cent. That was the time when the woollen industry was in the least flourishing position.
– On its woollen . piece goods ?
– Yes. From 1892 to 1895, in Victoria, the duty was at its zenith. Those three years marked zero so far as the woollen industry was concerned.
– So it did with everything else in Victoria.
– What becomes of the claim for a protectionist policy ?
– The revival of the industry.
– Its revival under the lower duty of the Commonwealth ?
– And prosperity.
– Its revival under the lower duty of theCommonwealth ?
– That is an admirable admission on the part of the Minister.
– Not at all. They got 25 per cent, protection in 1896.
– Exactly, and the moment they did there was a movement to increase the amount, and they went on until 1903, when the duties were practically double what they were in 1892.
– The honorable senator knows that 1892 and 1893 were the most disastrous years in the history of Victoria - of Australia.
– I am glad that the Minister did not say that those were the most disastrous years in the history of Victoria only. His remark enables me to point to corresponding figures in New South Wales. The diminution was nothing like so serious there as it was in Victoria.
– They had nothing to diminish.
– I can now understand the framing of this Tariff. It must have been framed by men who know very little about the facts connected with industries when it is said that in New South Wales they had nothing to diminish. I find that in the industry kindred to this industry 5,676 hands were employed in New South Wales as against 6,291 hands in Victoria.
– What is the kindred industry?
Senataor MILLEN.- That which is engaged in the making up of these articles.
– Out of imported stuff.
– No; suppose, however, that they were made up of imported stuff, what did Vicars and Company do with the material which they manufactured ?
– They were doing very little.
– These interjections explain to me to a very great extent how this Tariff came to be framed and the measure of support which it is receiving, because it is quite clear to me that when honorable senators make such statements they have not looked closely into the conditions of the industry as it existed in New South Wales. Senator Trenwith has said that in New South Wales they had nothing to diminish. That statement is absolutely incorrect.
– I admit that literally it is incorrect.
– Vicars’ mill compared with similar mills in Victoria has been a fairly successful one. It has never been closed or reconstructed. It has never had to go on year after year unable to pay dividends. What does Mr. Vicars say about his mill? He says that in the early days his firm did a profitable business in colonial tweeds without any protective duty at all. There is not a Victorian manufacturer who, having had for twenty-five years the benefit of duties ranging up to 44 per cent., can come forward and make a statement as satisfactory as that one. What Mr. Vicars could say was that in the early days under free-trade his firm did a profitable business.
– And he further said that they depended on’ Government contracts.
– No, he did not say anything of the kind.
– See question 26562.
– Mr. Vicars said that his firm had also been supplying part of the requirements of the State for upwards of twenty years, that lately they had been given a, slight consideration, but that during the earlier and greater portion of that period they had competed openly against the importing firms. Is there any Melbourne manufacturer who can make a statement like that? Further, the witness went on to say that they were able to send goods into Victoria, where the duty was 25 per cent. So that we have a manufacturer in New South Wales, under freetrade conditions, exploiting the market of the most protectionist State in the Commonwealth, and that was Victoria.
– But the honorable senator knows that that was only to a very trifling extent.
– Tasmania sent in half-a-dozen blankets.
– Senator Mulcahy and others may try to belittle the quantity of transfers from New South Wales to Victoria. I am not saying that they were “ great.
– But the honorable senator was trying to make us believe thai they were great.
– No. I had not time to say anything before Senator Mulcahy interjected. For his special benefit, let me point out that Mr. Hogarth, of Tasmania, affirmed that he managed to send goods into Victoria, paying a 25 per cent. duty. It does not appear to me to matter whether he sent much or little. He did not send them in at a loss. He must have sent them in at a profit. It shows that if he had had a surplus stock to dispose of he could have sent in more if he had so desired. The fact is that neither in Tasmania nor in New South Wales were they making enough to supply the local market, and, therefore, they were under no necessity to look abroad for the sale of surplus stock.
– We were exporting . to New South Wales all the time.
– And we were glad to get the Tasmanian goods, because of their high quality.
– We could not get them into Victoria, though, of course, Mr. Hogarth did send in a few pairs of blankets.
- Mr. Hogarth does not speak of a few pairs. He says that he sent the product of his mill into Victoria. I have nothing to say as to whether the quantity he sent was large or ‘small. I am pleased to think that under Federation the quantity sent from New South Wales and Tasmania is steadily increasing, and to be brought face to face with a little healthy competition is likely to be the best, tonic that the Victorian manufacturers have ever had.
– We do not object to it.
– This gratuitous assurance from the Minister reminds me that this is about the first time I have ever heard of a Victorian doing anything but shudder at the mention of the word “ competition..” Perhaps my Victorian friends will listen with a little more respect to some statements made by Victorian manufacturers than they appear inclined “to show to the evidence of witnesses in other States. Mr. Grainger, a Victorian mill manager, said -
The effect of die reduction of the duty to 15 per cent, had been to cause them (the Melbourne manufacturers) to look very much sharper after their affairs, to work at an increased pressure, and to turn out more goods in order to reduce the cost of production.
If that is true, we have only to reverse it, and see what the position is. If that was the effect of the reduction of the duty, then an increase of the duty is an invitation to them to look with less sharpness after their affairs, to work at less pressure, and to turn out fewer goods.
– And pay higher wages.
– They cannot pay higher wages, unless they are carrying on a business successfully and profitably.
– Like the harvester business was.
– Exactly ; like the woollen industry, of which we read something in a newspaper the other day. We discovered that children a little over twelve years of age were working in this great protected industry of Victoria.
– In the biscuit industry.
– No. In violation of a State law, children, a little over twelve years of age, were discovered working in a woollen mill, and that is the kind of industry which my honorable friends think is entitled to an additional protection of 10 and 15 per cent.
– Did not the honorable senator see the factory inspector’s letter, giving a full account of the matter?
– Yes, but he does not deny the fact.
– He denies that it is breaking the law.
– In Victoria there are two laws, and one of them must be broken. He wasconcerned with only one law.
– The school age was raised, but the factory age was not altered.
– Exactly, and the factory inspector was called upon to administer the Factories Act. There is a law which says that a child shall not work below a certain age. It is a fact that children below the age were discovered working. Whether there was a law or not, what have honorable senators to say on behalf of an industry which is forced to employ children of twelve years of age to turn out the goods in respect of which they propose to give the manufacturers ah additional duty of 10 and 15 per cent.? I have tried to ascertain whether there was any just cause for increasing the duty. I have endeavoured to find, out if there was any evidence of retrogression on the part of the mill-owners. I find that the Tariff Commission made an effort to learn what profits were being made at the factories. Here is an extraordinary statement made by Mr. Grainger - “The witness, when asked what dividends his company paid, attempted to mislead the Commission by stating that it worked out at 7½ per cent, on the total subscribed capital of £60,000. The balance-sheets of the company, with which the witness was confronted by a Commissioner, showed that the capital of the company was £30,000, upon which 15 per cent, dividends had been paid for several years.”
– What dividends did the importing companies pay?
– What has that to do with it? At the present moment we are being asked practically to double the protection given to the manufacturers of woollens. Had they been in a struggling position, or had the industry been on the verge of shipwreck, there might have’ been some justification for doing so, but when the woollen manufacturers are increasing the number of their hands and their output, and have for years paid dividends of 15 per cent., what justification can there be for imposing a tax on every working man and woman in the community in order to enable them to swell their 15 per cent, dividends into dividends of 20 per cent, and 25 per cent. ? I always understood that those who advocated protection at least pretended that they did so in the interests of the masses of the people, but when manufacturers are making 15 per cent, profit they have no justification for approaching Parliament for licence to dip their hands still further into the pockets of the people who are forced to buy their goods.
– The importers are continually dipping their hands into the pockets of the people, and the honorable senator has not a word to say about them.
– But there is a great difference between the two. In this case we are asked to shield the manufacturer from competition, and the most that he can ask of us is to give him such a shield as will enable him to continue his operations and derive a reasonable profit.
– And pay fair wages under good conditions.
– He should be able to pay fair wages out of a 15 per cent, dividend. Nothing will satisfy the man who is not satisfied in these days with 15 per cent, interest on his capital, and the man who is getting 15 per cent, on his capital and is not paying fair wages to those whom he employs may be entitled to the sympathy of honorable senators opposite, but will not secure mine.
– He will not pay any more in wages than he can help.
– The honorable senator is quite right, and he will take all he can get or all that honorable senators are willing to give him. It is because I see no indication that those engaged in this industry are not well able to carry on or are not doing handsomely, and because I believe that any additional impost would merely have the effect of enabling ^ the manufacturers to increase the prices of their goods to the consumer, that I decline to vole for the Tariff as it stands, and intend to vote for the lowest duty to which the Committee will agree. I have said that this additional impost will increase prices to the consumer, and the evidence given by the woollen manufacturers themselves is an admission of the truth of that statement. They practically ‘, admitted that the in-, creased duty would increase the prices of their goods, because they told the Tariff Commission that as they were asking for an additional duty upon woollens, to equalize things that should be accompanied by an increased duty upon imported madeup apparel. The meaning of this was that as they would, in view of the increased duty, charge more for their goods to the manufacturers of apparel, it was only fair to balance that by giving the latter a higher duty also. The protectionist contention that the .effect of duties is to lower prices, though I do not believe that any protectionist honestly believes in it, is found useful on the platform and useful to manufacturers who come here and ask us to give an increased duty on the understanding that they will guarantee that there will be no rise in the price of the article they manufacture, although they do not afterwards adhere to their promise.
– They have done so.
– Does the honorable senator think that working men pay one farthing more for their boots as the result of the operation of the Tariff ?
– They pay many farthings less.
– I think that the price of boots would be considerably lower than it is if the duties were lowered.
– If we had no bootmanufacturing industry here, the price would be considerably higher.
– We had the bootmanufacturing industry established in. New South Wales without any duty, and they manufactured boots there one “of which was worth a boot and a half made in Victoria.
– One can easily understand how the honorable senator arrives at his conclusions if that is all he knows about the matter.
– I have arrived at my conclusion in this matter through paying for and wearing boots made in both States. ‘ I wish to emphasize the fact that however much honorable senators opposite may deny that the effect of a duty is to increase the price of the article on which it is imposed, the manufacturers of woollens have shown that it is not so by admitting that if the duty were increased in their favour, in order to be fair we should increase the duty in favour of the men who make up apparel. If an increased duty on woollens were to have the effect of making woollens’ cheaper, why should the manufacturers be concerned to ask for a higher duty for the benefit of the makers of apparel from woollens? They knew that the imposition of an increased duty on woollens would increase the price of the raw material to the makers of apparel, and on that account recognised that it was only fair that the latter in their turn should be given an additional measure of protection. There is no doubt that they were quite right, and their action absolutely destroys the protectionist contention that the imposition of a duty does not increase the price of the article. I do not suppose that there is an item in the Tariff which concerns the masses of the people more intimately than does that which we are now considering, in conjunction with the associated item of apparel. The number of people engaged in this industry is, comparatively speaking, a handful.
– That is a good argument in favour’ of higher protection.
– Perhaps the honorable senator will wait until I have finished my argument, and he will then be welcome to all the support for a policy of high protection that he can obtain for it. Only a small number of people are engaged in this, industry, and they are doing well, whilst, scattered throughout Australia, on its plains and its mountain sides, there are many thousands of people who are taxed in order to keep the handful of people who are benefited by this taxation. Speaking on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of people scattered throughout Australia who have to buy these ‘goods, I say there is no just cause and no warrant for placing an additional impost upon them.
.- Even the most ardent and bigoted freetrader will admit that if there is any industry in Australia which can be called a natural industry, it is the growth of wool and manufacture of woollen piece goods. It is admitted that we produce as fine wool as is produced in any part of the world. Those who take up the attitude that Australia should not give protection to the woollen-manufacturing industry, desire that Australians should be merely wood and water joeys for the rest of the world, producing raw materials for other countries that they might be returned in a manufactured state. Senator Neild, the leader of the Opposition, and other honorable senators who have addressed themselves to this subject, have said that we cannot hope to succeed to any great extent in the manufacture of woollengoods because our market for such goods is so limited. They seem to think that it is confined to Australia. I join issue with them on that point. I say that our market for such goods is not limited to the Commonwealth. Our market for woollen goods should be as world-wide as our market for wool. We produce the finest wool, and have an opportunity to produce the finest manufactures from wool. If we can do so, the world will as readily compete for our manufactured woollen goods as it now does for our raw wool. No weight therefore can be attached to the argument that our market for woollen goods is limited : but even if it were confined to the demand for such goods in the Commonwealth, it should certainly be our object to supply that demand. What are the facts? Under our Commonwealth Tariff the quantity of woollen piece goods imported into Australia has been increasing very largely. The figures are available to every honorable member, and they show that our importations of woollen goods in 3899 amounted in value to £1,348,952, and that in 1905 these importations had increased in value to £1,809,784. According to the information placed before us in dealing with the schedule, I find that in 1906 we imported into the Commonwealth woollen piece goods to the value of £1,993,312.
– But our mills could not make any more, and that is why we had to import.
– And we desire additional protection in order to encourage our manufacturers to spend more capital in the effort to produce all that we require. Honorable senators opposite cannot point to a single country in the world that has ever built up a woollen manufacturing industry without protection. They often talk of free-trade Great Britain, the only country in which that policy is logically pursued, and they talk also of New South Wales having pursued a free-trade policy. The people of that State did nothing of the sort, and they resorted to all sorts of backhanded methods to give protection to industries.
– The honorable senator claims to know more about New South Wales than those who represent that State.
– The facts are patent to any one whois not blinded by prejudice. I wish to remind honorable senators that Great Britain never adopted free-trade until her manufacturing industries had reached such a stage of development that they were able to defy competition in any portion of the world ; and in regard to the woollen industry, the principle of protection was so rigidly applied that woollen goods manufactured in Ireland were forbidden to be imported into England. Honorable senators opposite cannot refer me to any country in the world that has ever built up a great manufacturing industry without protection.
– Though the honorable senator might not be able to refer me to any man who never told a lie, that would not make the truth undesirable.
– Senator Gray would appear to believe that it is only the members of the party to which he belongs who possess any political wisdom, and theybelieve free-trade to be a universal panacea for all the ills that human flesh is heir to. It still remains an absolute fact that there has never been a big manufacturing industry built up in any country without protection.
– Fiddlesticks !
– If the honorable senator can refer me to a single instance, I shall be prepared to apologize for my statement. Great. Britain is now the only free-trade country in the world, and it was not until she had established her manufacturing industries that she adopted that policy. She built up her woollen industries under the most rigid system of protection that the world has ever seen.
– The honorable senator is talking of the dark days.
– How long is it since England adopted free-trade? It is only a little over half a century, yet the honorable senator speaks of a period so near to our own time as that as the dark ages. The woollen industry, in which, perhaps, Great Britain stands supreme today, was built up under a system of protection so rigid that the importation of woollen goods from Ireland was absolutely prohibited. Ireland was at the time producing very superior woollen manufactures, and the English people were so much afraid that their woollen industry would be destroyed by this beautiful free competition of which honorable senators opposite are so fond of prating, that they forbade the importation. No country in the world has built up her manufacturing industries without protection- Indeed, no country of importance, with the exception of Great Britain, has ever adopted freetrade, and we know that as a matter of history Great Britain built up her manufacturing industry under’ the most rigidsystem of protection. As to the position of the woollen industry in New. South Wales, about which we have heard so much, the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission reports -
The woollen industry was established in New South Wales upwards of fifty years ago. In 1884-5, had seven mills, employing 312 people, with an output of 305,000 yards per annum. In 1904, there were three mills, employing 245 hands, with an output of 481,000 yards of tweed, 1,700 yards of flannel, 16,580 blankets and rugs, or a gross output of approximately 520,000 yards. In the earlier times the mills depended entirely on what was known as “ Colonial tweeds,” a good honest cloth, which made a name and a trade for itself. This industry was smothered about fifteen years ago by the wholesale importation of a shoddy imitation.
I wish to protect our manufacturers from such competition.
– The worst shoddy that is made comes from “Victoria.
– The report continues -
For many years past, and even to-day, the mills were existing only on the fringe of the trade. They depended on Government contracts and odd lines for warehouses. For the last eight years Government contracts had specified that the wool materials supplied should be of New South Wales manufacture.
That was the back-door method of giving protection adopted by free-trade New South Wales.
– The witness whose remarks are being quoted said that for twenty years he had competed successfully for Government orders with outside competitors.
– The report continues -
Under its free-trade policy New South Wales had become a favorite dumping ground of the oversea woollen manufacturer. Goods so imported were sold, not for what they cost, but for what they would bring, and were usually sacrificed.
– Did not the consumer get the benefit of that?
– The consumer has got the benefit of all the shoddy that has been imported.
– Victoria is the home of shoddy.’
– The Commissioners go on to say -
It was clear that the working of the Commonwealth Tariff had led to an increase in the importations of some classes of woollen goods into the Commonwealth. Cloth and tweed goods made in Victoria showed a substantial decline, as the subjoined figures indicated : -
I admit that in the manufacture of flannels, blankets, rugs, and goods of that kind, our mills have fairly held their own, but it is pointed out by the Tariff Commissioners that, whereas £1,000 worth of wool when made into blankets and flannels is worth between £1,500 and £1,600, wool of the same value made into tweeds is worth £4,000. We seek to encourage the manufacture of goods of the highest class, in order to give the largest amount of employment to our people. In this connexion I should like to read the following comparison Qf industrial conditions, made by the Tariff Commissioners -
At the lowest computation the Australian rate of wages for woollen workers was 50 per cent, higher than that prevailing in England, and 70 per cent, above continental rates. In Japan, which was already exporting its woollen manufactures to Australia, the wages averaged about os. per week. In Japan, girls receive 3d. to 5d., women 5d. to 10d. per day of sixteen hours, and special workers £1 per week, compared with £3 per week here. Without any reference’ to hours, Australian wages compare with those of England as twelve to seven. The hours worked in England and Scotland were li fly-six per week, on the Continent they vary from sixty to sixty-four: In Australia, fortyeight hours was a general acceptation of a week’s work.
That shows that the Australian manufacturer is very heavily handicapped ‘in competition with the English and Continental manufacturer, and he is still more handicapped in comparison with the Japanese manufacturer. Honorable senators opposite are prepared at all times to insist that Australian employes working in factories or elsewhere shall be given fair conditions - that is, that they shall be treated properly with respect to hours of labour, rates of wages, and terms of employment generally. But upon what conditions do they insist in regard to the foreign manufacturer? They say to him, “You can employ -our hands under any conditions you please - the most degrading and sweating imaginable - and yet we will allow you to supply Australia with all the shoddy goods you can produce.” That is the attitude which those who believe in free-trade assume. For my own part, I am not in favour of low duties at all. I would join with my honorable friends opposite in voting for no duties rather than for low duties. Low duties will simply place burdens on the taxpayers whilst accomplishing nothing. If you provide a duty so low that it does not effectually prevent importation, the goods will come in as heretofore, and people will buy them and pay cost price plus the duty. The consequence is that the general taxpayer will contribute very largely through Customs duties to the revenue. I should prefer free.-trade to that condition of things. But directly you provide duties such as are sufficient to secure effective protection to the local manufacturer, you impose no burden on the taxpayer, except for a little while; because, if the duty is effective in giving protection to the local manufacturer, you enable him to supply the market, and importation ceases. The taxpayer ceases to pay the tax on imported goods, because he uses local goods, which pay no tax. Of course, honorable senators opposite will say, as they have said scores of times, that the local manufacturer charges the full price plus the duty. But that does not follow, because directly you have established manufactories by effective protection-
– Then you get a trust.
– We can deal with trusts in our own midst, but we cannot deal with trusts in Great Britain or the United States.
– They are all around you. and you are doing nothing to stop them.
– The honorable senator did his best to prevent us when we tried to deal with trusts.
– That is not true.
– Absolutely true. Honorable senators opposite have been arguing that, by imposing duties under this Tariff, we are simply laying a burden on the taxpayers of Australia. I hold that, instead of doing anything of the kind, the Tariff will, if the duties are adequate, encourage the establishment of sufficient manufactures in Australia to supply the demands of Australia, and, possibly, to give a surplus for export. Let me give an instance. I do not think there is a country in the world in which working men can get their boots cheaper than in Australia. Yet our boot-manufacturing industry has been built up almost entirely under protection.
– I think the honorable senator is anticipating debate upon an item.
– I am only using that as an illustration. The same thing will apply to woollen goods. As a matter of fact, honorable senators opposite have used it as an argument why we should not have high protection in the case of woollen piece goods. They say that Australia does not want high protection for some of her manufactures, such -as rugs, blankets, and flannels. But if we had not established those industries’ under a system of protec-tion Australia to-day would not be able to compete with importers in those classes of goods. The fact that Australia can compete against the world both in respect of quality and cheapness with her flannels, blankets, and rugs establishes the fact that high protection can build up air industry without in any way increasing prices to the consumer. It is also a fact, notwithstanding the argument of Senator Millen, that the woollen industry in Australia has been languishing. The figures, which I have quoted abundantly prove my statement. There is one factory in Queensland which, although we had a system of protection before Federation, and although the State Government gave encouragement to it in every possible way - such as by giving it Government contracts - has been languishing for a long time. It has been languishing worse than ever since the establishment of Federation.
– It will languish more under this Tariff.
– It would languish’ a great deal more if the honorable senator and those sitting near him had their way.
– The honorable senator’s policy is centralization - bringing everything to Melbourne and Sydney.
– I should be very pleased if the honorable senator would allow me to enunciate my own policy. I feel quite capable of doing so without troubling him very much. My policy certainly is not to centralize everything, but to build up in Australia a manufacturing industry in respect of the particular classes of goods we are discussing, because I think that Australia is particularly well suited to their manufacture. We produce the finest wool in the world. There is no gainsaying that fact. The whole world competes eagerly for our wool. For what purpose ? To. manufacture it so as to meet the requirements of the world, ourselves included, and afterwards to send back to us in a manufactured state that very highclass raw material which has been previously exported from Australia. Establish manufacturing industries here which will convert our raw material into the finest manufactured articles and we shall find the whole world competing for them, just as they now compete for ‘the wool which we produce. Honorable senators opposite think that we should be merely hewers of wood and drawers of water tor the rest of the world - that our raw materials should be carted away from Australia to be manufactured and then carted back to us. That is their idea of prosperity. It is not mine. I do not want to see Australia become a wood and water joey for the rest of the world. But if we are to have protection at all it should be effective. If we have low duties, all that we shall accomplish is to place burdens on the backs of the taxpayers without producing any advantageous result. ‘ If we adopt high protection we shall accomplish something worth having, and under it no such burdens as I have indicated will be placed on the backs of the taxpayers.. I desire a scientific protection sufficiently high to be effective, whilst at the same time not giving the local manufacturer a monopoly.
– Let us divide and conquer.
– When the honorable senator rises to enlighten the Committee he never wants us to divide. I intend to express my own views as fully as the occasion seems to demand. Those who believe in protection should not remain silent while free-traders, through the medium of Hansard, scatter broadcast misstatements in regard to it. I repeat that I desire such an effective system of protection as will build up manufacturing industries in (Australia, and free us from the reproach of be ing mere producers of raw material - mere wood and water joeys for the rest of the world.
– The honorable senator who has just resumed his seat says that he desires a system of effective protection, but that, at the same time, he wishes to avoid giving a monopoly to local manufacturers. I should like to know how it is possible to secure effective protection without giving rise to a monopoly. The honorable senator went on to say that his desire was that Australia should manufacture the goods which she requires, in order that consumers might secure articles of superior quality. He added that importations from Japan were coming in, but according to the official return the value of our imports of these goods from Japan, in 1906, was only £25.
– And that importation - is going to frighten those engaged in the great woollen industry of Australia !
– It is imma- .terial. I would draw the attention of Senator Givens to the report of the freetrade section of the Tariff Commission on the result of its investigation into the quality of flannel made in Australia. It is stated in that report that -
The analysis of the second series shows that out of 136 samples of imported flannels fifteen, or ir per cent., contained cotton in proportions varying from 0.8 to 63.4.
Of the samples of Australian flannel, fortynine in number, forty, or 81 per cent., contained cotton, the proportion running from 0.3 to 87.1. The Australian flannels are classified as obtained (a) in Victoria; and (4) in New South Wales. Of thirty-nine Victorian flannels («) two were all wool, and out of ten New South Wales samples (i) four were pure wool.
– The honorable senator is really discussing item 114.
– We have been discussing the position of the woollen industry in Australia, and I think that a reference to the quality of Australian flannels is relevant. The report of the Tariff Commission on the subject ought to be embodied in Hansard. -
– We are at present discussing, not the adulteration of flannels, but the item ot woollen piece goods, and the question ot whether a duty of 30 per cent, is too high, or whether a duty of 25 per cent, would be a fair one to impose. I have risen again because I do not think that I made myself quite clear when I spoke to this question earlier in the evening. I then compared the number of persons employed in the woollen industry in Victoria and
New South Wales, and the average rates of wages received by them, with the number of hands employed in a cognate industry - the making up of clothing - and the wages they received. The point that I wished to make was that we were giving more than ample protection to the woollen industry, which employs a relatively small number of hands as compared with the insignificant protection given to the clothing and other making up industries, which employ about fifteen times as many persons.
– Do not the figures quoted by the honorable senator show that every increase of protection to the industry in Australia has given increased employment to the manufacturers in the different States ?
– According to the official figures, as the protection granted to the industry has increased the number of persons employed in it has decreased.
– I have the figures.
– If I thought that a duty of 20 per cent, in the case of British imports would not secure to the woollen tweed manufacturers of Australia a fair advantage over their outside competitors I should certainly vote for a higher rate. My contention is that experience shows that it will.
– It has not done so.
– It has done so in Tasmania.
– But we are dealing with the Commonwealth.
– In Tasmania in 1888 there were three woollen mills giving employment to seventy-two persons, and treating during the year 157,400 lbs. of wool. At that time, to the best of my recollection, there was in operation a duty of either 10 per cent, or 12 per cent.; it was certainly not more than 12 per cent; Between 1888 and 1896 the duty was increased to 15 per cent., and in the lastnamed year the number of hands engaged in the industry had increased to 109, whilst the consumption of wool had gone up from 157,400 lbs. in 1888 to 253,000 lbs. In 1896 the duty was raised from 15 to 20 per cent. I well remember the imposition of the increased duty, for I was one of those who fought for it. The consequence was that in 1897 the number of hands engaged in the industry had further increased, whilst the quantity of wool treated rose from 253,000 lbs. to 269,000 lbs. In 1898, when the duty of 20 per cent, had become effective, the output of the mills required the treatment of 634,000 lbs. of wool, or three times as much wool as was used by the Tasmanian woollen mills in 1896.
– What range of woollen production do those mills cover? Is it not chiefly blankets?
-At that particular time the Tasmanian mills were manufacturing a large quantity of flannels, blankets, and tweeds.
– They were not making much in the way of tweeds.
– They were turning out a fair percentage of tweeds. But, as a matter of fact, the Tasmanian climate and water chiefly favour the production of flannels and blankets. That State can produce a texture of flannel which cannot be surpassed.
– That is largely due to the intelligence of the natives.
– It is chiefly due to the advantages which Tasmania possesses in the shape of a dry atmosphere and a particularly soft quality of water. I have quoted these figures with a view to showing that so far as her production was concerned, Tasmania did very well under the operation of a 20 per cent, duty. The Victorian mill-owners who are engaged in the manufacture of flannels and blankets have also done fairly well under a 15 per cent. duty. But the manufacturers of tweeds are not in such a fortunate position, and they do require an increased duty. An increase from 15 per cent, to 20 per cent., it seems to me, would be ample to meet their case, and consequently we ought not to impose a higher duty under the general Tariff than 25 per cent.
– I desire to know from Senator Mulcahy how he can reconcile his statement that the Tasmanian mill-owners are satisfied with a duty of 20 per cent, with the testimonyof a leading mill-owner front that State. Mr. Hogarth, in giving evidence before the Tariff Commis sion, was asked -
Why do you desire an increase in the duties that existed prior to Federation seeing that there has been a large introduction of Australian manufactures since Federation was accomplished ?
His reply was -
It is to keep out foreign stuff.
– Would the honorable senator mind looking at the answers given by Mr. Hogarth to questions 334*3 - 334i6?
– The position is summed up very clearly by this Tasmanian mill-owner, who seemed to enjoy a fair measure of prosperity under the operation of a 20 per cent. duty. Senator Mulcahy has stated that under that rate the progress of the Tasmanian mills was quite satisfactory, and that consequently he will not vote for a -.higher duty. We are, therefore, justified in satisfying ourselves whether the testimony of a practical millowner is not worthy of consideration, notwithstanding the experienced opinion offered by Senator Mulcahy. My own idea is that we cannot afford to ignore the statement of Mr. Hogarth. .
– The honorable senator can find an equally reliable opinion of a contrary character.
– Senator Gray has made reference to the proposal to extend a’ preference to Great Britain. He appeared to approach that subject in, a. very nervous mood. I wish to say that I will not yield anything to Great Britain if the concession involves the undermining of the woollen industry in Australia. We know that in the past the bulk of our woollen piece goods have been imported from Great Britain. To my mind if we extend a preference to Great Britain our woollen industry will be compelled to drift along in the haphazard fashion which has hitherto characterized it. Senator Millen took the trouble to tell us that the ‘ industry has done remarkably well under the operation of a 15 per cent. duty. But the figures quoted by Senator Givens prove that it has done nothing of the sort.
– They proved nothing of the kind. They did not show that our local manufactures were declining.
– They showed that the industry has been upon the decline ever since Federation was inaugurated. During the past year we imported £2,200,000 worth of woollen piece goods. Surely that is not a happy position for a wool-growing country to occupy. We export annually about £20,000,000 worth of wool and retain for manufacturing purposes only about one per cent, of the gross product. So far as New South Wales is concerned, the” in dustry has been languishing under what Senator Millen calls free-trade conditions. It has not prospered notwithstanding the progress made by that State in other directions.
– But her people have prospered, and that is the principal thing.
– We are now concerned in ascertaining what progress the industry has made in the various States. For the purpose of instituting a comparison I propose to quote some figures from the New South Wales Statistical Register. From that publication I learn that in 1870 there were six woollen mills in New South Wales, whereas in 1890 the number had declined to four.
– I think that we ought to have a quorum present to hear this important statement. [Quorum formed.’)
– I am very glad that it was a representative of New South W’ales who called attention to the state ot the Committee, in order that a larger number of honorable senators might hear the facts as to the crayfish progress of the woollen industry in that State during the free-trade regime. In 1880 the number of employes in the woollen industry in New South Wales was 214. By 1900 it had increased to 221 - an addition of seven bands in twenty years. In Victoria, under a protective policy, the number of factories in 1880 was ten, while in 1900 it was nine, but the number of hands increased from 814 to 1,013 i” the same period. Therefore, the representatives of New South Wales have nothing to be proud of in the progress of the industry in their own State. In the official Year-Book of New South Wales for 1904-5, Mr. W. R. Hall, the Acting Statist, says -
It is a strange anomaly to find that in New South Wales, the greatest wool -producing country in the world, only 245 hands find employment in the manufacture of woollen material. Woollen mills were amongst the earliest works established in the State, but the industry has progressed but little since it was first established, and the number of hands employed has practically remained stationary for forty years.
I come,’ lastly, to the statement that New South Wales sent manufactured ‘ woollen goods to Victoria when the latter State had an import duty of 25 per cent.
– There is not a quorum present. [Quorum formed.]
– With the- persistency of the gallant Colonel again-
– I take exception to a reflection passed upon myself for doing no more than my duty in seeing that the standing order is complied with.
– What are the words to which the honorable senator takes exception ?
– Iwill withdraw the word “gallant” if the honorable senator objects to it. It shows what fearful straits the New South Wales representatives are in when they ask the Committee to believe that under their beneficent policy of freetrade they were able to send manufactured woollen goods into Victoria. According to the New South Wales Statistical Register, from 1896 to 1900, when the duty was 25 per cent, in Victoria, the total amount of New South Wales woollen manufactures sent to Victoria was £74 worth of rugs, including furs, and £28 worth of other woollen manufactures, spread over five years. I had to refer to these matters to set right those honorable senators who have wasted most of the afternoon in placing such fallacies before the Committee. What a slender case they must have when they tell honorable senators, in face of those figures, that New South Wales exported woollen goods to Victoria ! The leader of the Opposition expended some time to-day in pointing out the inconsistency of protectionists in not agreeing to reduce this duty, but he might well devote some time to studying his own inconsistency, and striving if possible to remedy it. When he was outlining his attitude towards the Tariff earlier in the session, the honorable senator said that when he was before the electors of New South Wales he announced that his policy would be not to lay hostile hands upon the Tariff, but rather to level up than down. I have waited in vain to see him apply the lever for the levelling up. When will he begin? So far from doing that, he has rather gone back to some extent on his professions by voting for the levelling down of duties.
– Where have I done so?
– The honorable senator tried to level down considerably the duties on hay and chaff.
– Order. The honorable senator must not discuss the Tariff as a whole.
– While honorable senators opposite chide honorable senators on this side for being, as they consider, inconsistent-
– I only called the honorable senator a “ geographical protectionist.”
– I hope Senator Lynch does not intend his last remark as a reflection on the Chair. I recognise no sides in this chamber.
– That was not in my mind at all, but I thought I would be in order in drawing attention to the inconsistency of honorable senators opposite. If we are inconsistent, which I deny, the same inconsistency can be found in the leader of the Opposition.
– Senator Lynch, when he began, said that he rose to put the last speaker right. That is exactly the reason which has called me to my feet. I wish to bring Senator Lynch, who seems to be so very far from the correct path, back to it. When Senator Lynch was quoting the evidence of the witness, Mr. Hogarth, from Tasmania, I asked whether he would read the answers to questions 33,413 - 33,416, in the reported evidence given before the Tariff Commission, and the honorable senator wasdiscreet enough not to do so. Let me remind honorable senators that Senator Lynch was then taking Senator Mulcahy to task, and asking the Committee to believe that this manufacturer, who was asking for higher duties, knew more about the matter than did Senator Mulcahy. However, the answers of this witness will explain the apparent discrepancy between the statement of Senator Givens as to the increased imports and my contention that the industry has been making steady progress. The mere fact that the imports have grown does not prove that the local industry has retrogressed ; on the contrary, it proves that the general prosperity of the country has caused an increased demand, which the local mills have not been able to supply. The following is the extract from the evidence of Mr. Hogarth - 33,413. Has your trade been increasing or stationary since the Federal Tariff has been in operation? - It has been stationary this last two years. There had been a gradual increase after the 20 per cent. State duty had been put on. We doubled ourselves in seven or eight years. 33,414. Do I understand you to say that you are not progressing because the duty is not sufficiently high? - I won’t say that. 33,415. How are you stationary ? - We cannot go on increasing for ever. 33,416. Is your output up to the full capacity of your mills? - Yes; we cannot do another bit.
– Is it not possible to increase. the capacity of the mills?
– Quite so; but in the face of this evidence, can the industry be described as languishing? Whether another mill might be started is another matter; but it is idle to say that the industry has suffered because of the increase of imports.
– Is the honorable senator aware that, since the introduction of the duties, this manufacturer has placed heavy orders for increased plant?
– What has that to do with the point? The question is, not whether other manufacturers may be called into the field, but whether the industry of to-day is or is not in a satisfactory condition.
– The honorable senator was quoting evidence to show that this manufacturer was working to the full capacity of his plant.
– I did that in answer to the statement that the industry was languishing, and the evidence of Mr. Hogarth is borne out by Mr. Ord, the factory inspector in the case of Victoria. Senator Lynch has several times alluded to what he is pleased to assume is inconsistency in my attitude.
– Hear, hear.
– I begin now to understand why Senator Lynch repeats his statement; it is quite obvious he can get thoughtless senators to agree with him.
– I may say that this is the first time I have mentioned the matter.
– The honorable senator is mistaken ; he has made the statement so frequently that he has lost count. In the particular instance, when I voted for an increased duty of from 15 per cent, to 20 per cent., it could not be called a levelling down; and my promise to level up did not apply to industries already well established and doing well.
– The honorable senator has not started yet.
– That is incorrect, as my votes show. My promise to level up was given in reference to industries which could be shown to be suffering in the absence of fair protection, and no one has ventured, on behalf of the industry under discussion, to make such a claim or offer such proof.
– That has been shown.
– On the contrary, all the evidence shows the industry to be sufficiently established - that the number of employes is increasing, and that the manufacturers are making handsome profits.
– Does the honorable senator claim that 15 per cent, profit is sufficient.
– I wish I could get 15 per cent, in my own business. We have now some idea of the modest demands of those honorable senators who plead for labour, but all the time are battling to enable the manufacturers to make more than 15 per cent, profit. Let them make such an aim one of the planks of their platform, and we shall see how long the Labour Party will exist.
– Perhaps a few more figures may add to the information already conveyed in the course of this discussion. I find from the reports of the Tariff Commission that in 1878 the Victorian Industry, with a duty, of 11 per cent., employed 736 hands, whereas in 1892, when there was a 44 per cent, duty, the number had decreased to 552.
– The number had decreased under the 11 per cent. duty.
– The high duty was imposed in 1892.
– Then I shall give the figures for the following year.
– When all the banks were “ bung.”
– In 1893, with a 44 per cent, duty, the number of hands was 639, or close on 100 less than under the duty of 11 per cent. In 1899, under a duty of 27½ per cent., the number rose to 917 ; but in 1903, under the Commonwealth with a duty of 16½ per cent., the employes numbered 1,013. The argument that , a higher duty will provide more employment is not borne out by the figures I have quoted. Honorable senators seem to forget that if, by an increase in the duty more employment is provided for a few, it must be at the expense of thousands. We are told by protectionists that increased duties do not mean increased prices, but my. opinion is that under the duty of 44 per cent, prices in Victoria increased to such a degree that the goods could not be sold.
– Has the honorable senator any proof for that statement?
– I have just as much proof for that, statement as other honorable senators have for the statements they make - namely, the official reports. At. any rate, it is for the public to judge between the honorable senator and myself.
I have heard “Victorian protectionists say that the cost of living has increased since the imposition of the present Tariff. Only last Sunday, when travelling in a train, I was assured by working men employed at 8s. a day, who are protectionists, that such is the case.
– That is no reply.
– It is a well-known fact that the price of living has gone up. I believe that the Western- Australian miner will find that the Tariff will press very heavily upon him.
– He is a protectionist.
– We have had very many protectionists until lately ; now they are turning round. I remind the honorable senator that prior to Federation New South Wales sent woollen goods into Western Australia paying a duty of 15 per cent.
– I want the honorable senator to prove that the prices have risen, but he has not replied to my request.
– It is a matter of common knowledge that prices have gone up, and I am sure that the public do not expect me to quote the prices of specific articles. There is not a housekeeper in the Commonwealth who does not know that the cost of living has advanced since the Tariff has been in force.
– That is only a general statement.
– lt does not suit the honorable senator’s book, but I housekeeper that later on he also will believe what I have just said. If for a moment I thought that a duty of 25 per cent, on .woollen piece goods, when imported from countries outside the United Kingdom, was not suk ficient protection to the Australian manufacturers, I should vote for the imposition of- a higher duty. I assured my constituents. that I should not attempt to reduce the duties in the old Tariff, and I do not think that by any vote I have given I have tried to reduce a duty. I am quite willing, however, to increase a duty if I think it necessary, but we have had no evidence to show that the Australian manufacturer will not be on as good a footing as the foreign manufacturer if he is given a protection of 25 per cent. He buys his raw material on the spot, and therefore has a natural protection of at ‘ least 10 per cent, against his foreign competitor. Victoria imposed a duty of 44 per cent, on woollen piece goods, but it was found that the ultraprotectionists were defeating their own ends, and therefore the duty had to be reduced. If figures will prove anything they prove that in 1902, when the duty on this line was reduced to 16J per cent., the Victorian manufacturers were in a more flourishing position than was the case when the duty was 44 per cent. It all goes to prove that people can go mad on’ protection. There is no doubt that at one time the people of Victoria were mad on protection. The manufacturers of this State are not satisfied with a fair and reasonable protection. My desire is to give them what I consider to be a fair and reasonable protection, but not to give them a protection which would be too high and react against the consumers in the Commonwealth. For these reasons I intend to support a reduction of the duty to 25 per cent.
– I hope that in rising to speak as a protectionist Senator Sayers does not consider that I am mad.
– The honorable senator is not a Victorian protectionist.
– We, as growers of wool, are in a false position when it is shipped to England to be manufactured into piece goods for exportation to Australia. In the interests of our own people and of the progress and settlement of the Commonwealth, I am in favour of giving effective, protection. I have said all through that my desire is to have all the work done ‘ in the Commonwealth. Notwithstanding what I have heard to the contrary I intend to adhere to the item as it stands, and therefore to oppose the proposed reduction. The members of the Labour Party are blamed for this, that, and the other thing, but our supporters are quite willing to suffer for the present in order to derive a benefit in the future. We want to secure .work for the people of the Commonwealth, It is absurd, I repeat, to send bur wool to England to be manufactured into piece goods for our- use when with effective protection there is a possibility of having all the work done here.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 123, paragraph a, “ Piece Goods - Woollen, &c.” (imports under General Tariff), ad val. 25 per cent. (Senator Colonel Neild’s request) - pur. “ The Committee divided.
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [10.10]. - In view of the fervid assurances we have had from the head of the Government and other Ministers, of their eminent desire to benefit the Old Land by the inestimable gift of preference to its manufactures, I feel sure that at least Ministers in this Chamber will vote in accordance with the views expressed by their leader, and I therefore move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 123, paragraph A (imports from the United Kingdom), ad val., 20 per cent.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority …… 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
– Honorable senators will probably recollect that when the Tariff was first introduced in another place it was intended that the duties on paragraph b of this item should be 35 per cent, in the general Tariff and 30 per cent, on imports from the United Kingdom. But yielding to the representations made the Government agreed that dress materials weighing 5 ozs. per square yard should be admitted at 15 and 10 per cent, respectively. It was pointed out by the mover of the reduced duties in another place that the proposal he made would enable women of the industrial classes to obtain their dress goods at a more reasonable rate than if the weight of the goods was not stated. I am reliably informed that since the imposition of the new duties it has been found that the effect has been to benefit a class of citizens in better circumstances than those to whom it was intended to give relief. The advantage is found to be on the wrong side. Unless the weight of the goods be specified anomalies creep in. No one. desires to give encouragement to any industry abroad that would come into serious competition with industries established in the Commonwealth, but it has been pointed out that these dress materials have not and are not now being made in any part of Australia.
– But they can be made here. Why does not the honorable senator stick to the Tariff?
– I hope that honorable senators opposite will stick to it, because their contention is that the higher the duties the higher the taxation upon the community. When it is shown that protection will not be advanced by the request I intend to make, I should be able to claim the support of honorable senators opposite who have been arguing in a certain direction since the Tariff came before the Committee. I understand that Bradford and Company, of England, are in a position to manufacture dress materials weighing 6½ ozs. to the square yard. Woollen materials of a greater weight would come into competition with woollen goods manufactured in the Commonwealth and might be made into men’s clothing.
– It is very seldom that materials weighing less than 10 ozs. to the square yard are used in the manufacture of men’s clothing.
– I am reliably informed that tweeds weighing 7 ozs. to the square yard could be imported., and that such materials could be made into men’s wearing apparel. If that be the case, it would be a serious matter for the woollen industry of Australia. I have a number of samples of these dress materials within the precincts of the chamber, but unless Ifeel that the occasion warrants it I do not propose to produce them. As I know that honorable senators earnestly desire to do what is right in the best interests of ali sections of the community, I hope that they will agree to increase the weight to 6J ozs.
– I have a prior amendment, my desire being to make the weight still heavier.
– And I have a request which will come before . Senator Millen’s.
– In that case, - I must give way for the present ; but unless very good reasons are advanced for the proposal of either honorable senator, I shall press my proposal to a division.
– I have what is practically a formal amendment to propose. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 123, paragraph b, bv inserting after the word “ wool “ the words “ not containing silk or having silk worked thereon.”
If the amendment I suggest is made, the meaning of the paragraph will be clearer, and there will not be confusion between paragraphs b and c.
– I hope that Senator Best will withdraw his request, because, in my opinion, the position would be better met bv making the goods coming under paragraph c dutiable at 15 and 10 per cent. - the rates which apply to goods coming under paragraph b. There is no good reason for placing a high rate of duty on silks. Silks imported to be worn as dress material are very costly, and tinder an ad valorem duty pay accordingly. But silk fabrics are worn by the poorest girl as well as by the richest woman in the land, and there is no good reason for discriminating between them and other dress fabrics. The Customs Department would be saved a great deal of trouble, and no revenue would be lost, if the goods coming under paragraphs b and c were all made dutiable at 15 and 10 per cent., while such an arrangement would make the proposed amendment unnecessary.
– Senator Mulcahy urges that the duty on silk goods should be reduced to 15 and 10 per cent., although both sections qf the Tariff Commission recommended a duty of 15 per cent. This is essentially a revenue duty, and it is considered that 20 and 15 per cent, will produce more revenue than 15 and 10 per cent. The Department ask for the amendment of paragraph b to prevent confusion between that paragraph and paragraph c. They wish it to be clearly understood that piece goods not containing silk, or not having silk worked thereon, shall be dutiable at .15 and 10 per cent.
. - The Vice-President of the Executive Council is afraid that we shall sacrifice revenue. Let me show him exactly how much revenue we shall lose. The importations of materials under this particular item amounted practically to £703,000 in 1906. The importations from the United Kingdom were £99,834 - that is practically £100,000. The duty paid amounted to ,£105,000. All that I desire is to simplify the Tariff and remove anomalies that perplex the Customs officers every day in the week. .
– There can be no complexity if these words are inserted.
– There can’ be any amount of complexity. Business people have a right to ask that the Tariff shall be simplified if that can be done without a sacrifice of its principle. But unless a suggestion comes from a particular quarter the Vice-President of the Executive Council refuses to listen to it. If it comes from a favoured quarter, however, he says that it i? quite in conformity with his own policy, although he is afraid to propose anything somewhat similar himself. I speak as one who has had a great deal to do with passing Customs entries, and know what the difficulties are. In this case the revenue lost would be the difference between 10 and 15 per cent, on £100,000; that is to say, it would be 5 per cent, on that amount. The revenue would, therefore, be reduced by £5,000. That calculation assumes that there are no larger im- portations. It may be assumed that we shall receive a larger revenue from the duty. But I honestly believe that such will not be the case. The Tariff will simply make ladies take more wear out of their silk gowns or buy a commoner class of material. I hope that my honorable friend will adopt a reasonable attitude when it is simply desired to simplify the passing of Customs entries and to remove anomalies.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council made a statement which was obviously in error, although I have no doubt he fell into his mistake inadvertently when he stated that the 15 per cent, had been recommended by both sections of the Tariff Commission. If he looks a little more closely into the reports he will find that what the free-trade section recommended was a duty of 10 per cent, wherethese goods were imported in lengths of 12 yards or over, and further, they made that recommendation as part of a general scheme. They recommended that the 10 per cent, should apply not merely to the silk goods now under review, but to the woollen goods which the Minister proposed to tax a.t 25 per cent. Therefore, it is not correct to say that they recommended 15 per cent, in this case. What appears to me to be more pertinent is that the protectionist section recommended 15 per cent. The Minister, however, proposes to make the duty 20 per cent. If there is any virtue in the reports of the Commission at all, the Minister ought to see special virtue from his point of view in the recommendations of the protectionist section. But the matter with which we are dealing is not one of protection at all. There is no fiscal question involved unless it be that of raising revenue. The Minister admits that this is a revenue item. Senator Mulcahy has only approached it from that point of view. The point at issue is this - is it advisable to get a little more revenue by having an additional item in the Tariff? Senator Mulcahy asks why not throw this item into the previous one and make the goods taxable at the same rate of duty. They are the same class of goods except for a little silk being used in them. We do not need to be in the business . to know that the fewer the items in the Tariff the less possibility of confusion and conflict as between the importers and the Customs officers. The revenue is not worth speaking about. The Customs officers would be able to say definitely whether throwing these items into one would simplify the working, of the Tariff. I feel confident that it would. If there were only one item in the whole Tariff there could be no complication. All goods would pay the’ same rate of duty. There would, be no room for conflict. Evidently the more items are subdivided the more room for conflict there is. In this case the total amount at stake, according to Senator Mulcahy’s figures, is £5,000,’ which is not worth considering. Honorable senators opposite are constantly saying that they are opposed to mere revenue items. If Senator Mulcahy’s suggestion were made as a hostile attack upon the 1902 Tariff I should not support it, but it does seem to me to be a case where simplification can take place without- touching the principle of the Tariff. Although there may be a slight loss of revenue, on the other hand there will be a- great gain in simplifying the work both in regard to the Customs officers and the trading community. I should like to know whether the Minister has finally made up his mind not to accept the suggestion with regard to the second paragraph. If he can accept it it will not be necessary to put in these words.
Senator BEST (Victoria- VicePresident of- the Executive Council [10.41]. - The Department considers that much better revenue results would come from the item as proposed. I dissent altogether from the view suggested by Senator Mulcahy, that any confusion would result in regard to paragraphs b and c.
– Confusion is arising every day.
– My. object in proposing the insertion of these words is to avoid that confusion. I am aware that, in their, perhaps, vague form, there was a possibility of complaint in the direction my honorable friend has mentioned, but he will see that if we clearly say that these goods are not to contain silk, or to have silk worked upon them, only piecegoods, woollen’ or containing wool, for’ women or children’s wear, could come in under paragraph b. Any appearance of silk in the goods would necessarily bring them under paragraph c That is clear from a business stand-point.
– It is not; that is really what does not happen.
– If the proposal I make be agreed to, that is exactly what, will happen. Goods containing any silk would- come in under paragraph c. We cannot define the percentage of silk, but if we say that the goods coining under paragraph b shall not contain any silk, no confusion will arise. It is possible that this may ultimately have a protective incidence, although I do not at this stage arge its acceptance upon that ground. There has been some production of silk in Canada, but there is no evidence of such an industry here.
– I saw a box of silkworms yesterday !
– I am not .at present urging this request ficm a protective stand-point, but I do urge it from a revenue stand-point. I can only accept the estimates of the Department, and the officials assure me that- the duties as proposed would be more productive of revenue than they would be if dealt with as suggested by my honorable friend.
– The Minister has frankly . admitted that this is a revenue item. I would impress that fact upon honorable senators opposite for the reason that they have shown a tendency to deal with purely revenue items upon their merits. This being only a revenue item, I desire them to consider what it is the Minister asks us to retain. He has admitted that as the item stands in the Tariff there is a possibility of confusion. To avoid that confusion, he is proposing the addition of words which will cause to be classed as silk goods, woollen piece-goods containing even the finest thread of silk. That is to say, woollen piece-goods worth £1,000, and containing silk of the value of the onehundredth part of a penny would be classed as silk goods. The absurdity of such a proposal should be sufficient to condemn it, but if it does not, surely I may ask honorable senators to consider the annoyance and inconvenience to which it will subject importers.
– There would be no inconvenience if the amendment were made.
– I do not wish to trouble honorable senators, but here are letters-
– We have received similar letters, and this request is proposed in order to overcome the difficulty alluded to in them.
– The honorable senator admits that confusion exists to-day. The conflict between importers and the
Customs officials arises in regard. to the particular paragraph under which these two classes of piece goods should come in. To do away with that confusion Senator Best would have us go to the extravagant length of providing that woollen piece goods containing even a silk thread - or having perhaps only an initial worked upon them in silk - shall be dutiable as silk goods, although the quantity of silk in them is so infinitesimal as to have no money value. Is this not ridiculous? Senator Trenwith may smile-
– The honorable senator knows that a line must be drawn somewhere.
– Where does the Vice-President of the Executive Council propose to draw the line? Instead of adopting the very simple expedient suggested by Senator Mulcahy - that of group- ing the two items and sacrificing a revenue of £5,000 per annum-
– The sacrifice would be . greater.
– It will be greater if the Treasurer’s estimate of the revenue which this Tariff will yield is falsified, but when any attempt’ has been made to show that the Minister has under-estimated the probable revenue it has been indignantly repudiated by him. If his estimate is sound, then Senator Mulcahy ‘s estimate of the revenue which this item will yield must be- approximately correct. The Minister has distinctly told us that the Tariff will not yield very much more than ,£10,000,000 per annum. If that is so, why does he assume that the revenue from this particular item is going to expand? If Senator Mulcahy ‘s figures are wrong, Senator Best should have shown us in what respect they are at fault. Does he anticipate a larger importation under this heading ?
– There will undoubtedly be a largely increased revenue. Twenty per. cent, on ,£600,000-
– Then what the Minister has in view ‘ is not the £105,000 per annum which we have previously collected under this heading, 5 but the additional revenue which he hopes to secure from a purely revenue duty. That forces me to ask honorable senators to consider whether we want the extra revenue. Does the Federation or any State require it ? The Commonwealth has a larger revenue under this Tariff than it has ever had, and its revenue hitherto has been ample. Every State is obtaining from the Federation more than it has ever had, and it will get still more from this Tariff. Four out of the six States, according to their last financial statement, had a surplus. Is there any justification for keeping this item as it stands for- merely revenue purposes? I do not think that the Committee will entertain it for one moment as a revenue line. . What is the alternative ? 1 do not think that the Customs Department is troubling about the question of revenue. For some reason or other it desires that the two paragraphs shall be kept separate. The alternative is too absurd, and although the Minister does not appear to be prepared to accept Senator Mulcahy’s proposal, I hope that the Committee will do so.
– Senator Mulcahy has stated that silk is worn universally. I wish to contradict that assertion. In my opinion silk as a dress material partakes very much of the nature of a luxury, and to that extent it is a proper subject for taxation. I am in favour of raising revenue by the taxation of all articles of luxury or of ornamentation. If we admit silk piece goods at the same rate of duty as woollen piece goods, shall we not encroach upon the manufacture of dress materials which can be made in Australia? There are many kinds of dress materials manufactured in Australia, and if silk be placed upon the same level - as Senator Mulcahy wishes to place it-
– I merely stated. that silk as a trimming material is of universal use.
– I understood the honorable senator to say that it should be dutiable under the general Tariff at 15 ner cent, and at to per cent, under the Tariff for the United Kingdom.
– That is correct.
– If the honorable senator’s contention be correct, we shall admit silk piece goods at the same rate as woollen piece goods, and to that extent shall undermine our woollen industry, which, in the future, we hope will produce a very suitable- article of dress material for ladies. I shall oppose the proposal.
– The statement which I made in regard to the general use of silk is one which any honorable senator can verify for - himself. Silk is, proportionately speaking, very little used in dress, materials. Within ‘ the past few months it has come into vogue to a considerable extent, but as a general rule silk dresses have gone out .of fashion. One sees a black silk dress very rarely now, although at one time it was regarded as the costliest form of dress. Senator Lynch seems to think that in itself silk is a very costly material. I wish to tell him that it is possible to purchase a light flimsy Japanese silk, which is used for trimming hats, from about 10 1/4d. per yard. That class of silk is required by the poorest woman in the land just as much as it is by the richest. Virtually it occupies the same plane as other dress fabrics which Senator Lynch erroneously thinks we can produce here. I- wish to assure him that only an exceedingly limited range of-‘dress fabrics can be made in the Commonwealth. Already the -revenue derived from this Tariff has greatly exceeded the Treasurer’s anticipations. If we desire to increase that revenue, are we taking it from those persons who can best afford to pay it? ‘ I would remind the Committee that the ad valorem system possesses one advantage in that it adjusts itself. Under that system the expensive article is called upon to contribute to the revenue very much more than the inexpensive article. The lady of fashion who purchases a £25 silk dress has to pay by way of duty considerably more than the poor woman who purchases a Japanese silk for her children, costing from is. to is. 3d. per yard. I ask the’ Vice-President of the Executive Council to report progress.
Senate adjourned at u p.m. .
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 18 February 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1908/19080218_senate_3_43/>.