3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
Senator MILLEN presented a petition from members of the Morongla Creek Progress Association, New South Wales, asking that wire netting be placed on the free list.
askedthe Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
Is it a factthat at the township of “ Moonta Mines,” South Australia, the Government are. endeavouring to get the postal arrangements of that town carried out for £110 per annum, without post-office premises?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
Yes. Applications have been invited for the conduct of a semi-official office at “ Moonta Mines,” at an allowance equal to the minimum wage, thnt being all that the revenue and business of the office at present warrant. The office at “Moonta Mines” has hitherto been conducted under the allowance s)Stem. The status has now been raised, with a corresponding increase in the expenditure.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
If he will obtain, for the information of the Senate, a statement showing the existing rates of wages in manufacturing trades,, being awards of Arbitration Courts or Wages Boards in the Commonwealth?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows: -
Wages Boards and Arbitration Courts do not exist in al! the States of the Commonwealth. Certain information is . being obtained, and copies will be laid upon the . table of th’e House when available.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– With reference to these questions, Mr. President, I direct your attention to standing order 94, which says that -
In putting any such riuestion, no argument or opinion shall he offered,’ nor inference nor. imputation made, nor any facts stated, except so far as may be necessary to explain such question, and the President may direct the Clerk to alter any question so as to conform with this order.
Strictly speaking, several of the questions in this series very nearly, infringe, the standing order, but I direct your attention particularly to question 5’, which, I submit, exceeds what is proper under the standing order in a question upon notice, since’ it both affirms and argues. ‘ I ask, therefore, whether it is in order?
– I am sure that Senator. ‘ Dobson will not deem me guilty of discourtesy in supporting the point of order. I shall be glad to give him all the information desired, but I would point out that it would be impossible for me to answer these questions without discussing a measure now on the notice-paper, the Navigation ‘Bill. These two objections, I think, prove conclusively that the questions are not in order.
– I wish to ask whether this series of questions came under your review, Mr. President, as did certainquestions of mine, which you held were argumentative. If so, I want to know why was the argumentative matter allowed to remain in this case?
-The honorable senator is asking a question as to my conduct in the past ; he is not speaking to the point of order.
– Am I not entitled to ask a question on the subject?
– The honorable, senator may at any time ask a question with regard to the conduct of the proceedings. of the Senate, but it should not be interpolated during the discussion of a point of order relating to another matter. I shall lie very glad to answer the honorable senator later on.
– Practically, the objection of the “Vice-President of the Executive Council amounts to this, that, inasmuch as there is a Bill on the noticepaper, it is not competent for senators to ask questions about the matters to which it relates..
– I did not say anything like that.
– That is the substance of the honorable senator’s remarks. I suggest that the asking of a question does not come within the standing order relating to the anticipation of motions. If that standing order applied to questions, it would be impossible for an honorable senator to obtain information in regard to matters which might come within the scope of a Bill which, like the Navigation Bill, might be practically a parliamentary derelict.
– Or to obtain information on any matter relating to the policy of the Government.
– I said that I could not -answer the question in its present form without arguing the provisions of a Bill on the notice-paper.
– I would suggest, in answer to that fresh statement, that the answering of questions is not a matter that involves argument. Such a proposition as has been put forward would most effectually bar the obtaining of information from Ministers on a very large number of subjects, provided that they put notices on the paper, or introduced Bills and did not proceed with them, as in the case of the Navigation Bill, which has been on the paper for, I think, over a year. It would be entirely beyond the intention of the Standing ‘Orders to bar the asking of questions regarding matters which might come within the scope of the discussion on a parliamentary derelict measure.
– I believe “ the point of order taken by Senator Pearce is whether the whole of the questions put by “Senator Dobson are in order, particularly -question No. 5. Senator Pearce alludes to standing order 94, which provides -
U putting any such question, no argument or opinion shall be offered, nor inference nor imputation made, nor any facts stated, except so far as may be necessary to explain such question, and the President may direct the Clerk to alter any question so as to conform with this order.
This matter of the putting ‘ of questions has been in my mind for some time, but I have had no desire to draw the line so strictly as to interfere with the desire of honorable senators to get the fullest possible information within reason. The question now in dispute is not the only one which might strictly and technically be ruled to go beyond the rights possessed by honorable senators in asking questions, for I have frequently noticed in questions submitted to Ministers, not only upon- notice, but more particularly without notice, requests made for information on matters of policy and matters of opinion, and not purely on matters of fact. The Senate has seen fit to assent to that practice being followed, and, therefore, I have not felt myself justified in - interfering” vsth it. But the strict reading of our Standing Orders, and the strict interpretation of the practice regarding questions, are often transgressed in this Chamber. In addition to standing order 94, quoted by Senator’ Pearce, there is standing order 93, which says-
Questions may be put to Ministers of the Crown relating to public affairs. . - . ..
The practice of the House of Commons also shows clearly what should be done. On page 248 of the last edition of May, lt is laid down -
Questions addressed to Ministers should relate to the public affairs with which they are officially connected, to proceedings pending in Parliament, or to any matter of administration for which the Minister is responsible . . , but not for an expression of their opinion upon matters of policy.
On page 249, it is stated that -
The purpose of a question is to obtain information, and nOt to supply it to the House. A question may not contain statements of facts, unless they be necessary to make the question intelligible, and can bc authenticated, nor should a question contain arguments, inferences, imputations, epithets, or controversial or ironical expressions. . . . The expression of an opinion cannot be sought for by a question, nor the solution of an abstract “ legal case, or of a hypothetical proposition. ‘
I regard those rules as being fairly applicable to our own position. Whilst it is perfectly true that it is within the province of the President to direct the Clerk to alter any question into conformity with the standing order, still it has not been the practice in this Chamber to draw the line too strictly, or many of the questions which are put would be disallowed or materially altered. It is, of course, within the competency of the Minister, when replying, to say : “ This involves a matter of opinion, or presents a hypothetical case, and is not a question that I should be expected to reply to.1’ Therefore, if such a question passes in the first instance the President and the Clerk, it becomes perfectly within the province of the Minister to give reasons why he should not reply to it. It is true that certain questions submitted by Senator de Largie and other honorable senators have been reviewed in the past, but in those cases the rule has been much more strongly violated than it has been in this instance by Senator Dobson. I think, with the honorable senators who have taken .exception to the questions now before the Chair, that Senator Dobson has exceeded the power strictly conferred upon him by the Standing Orders, and the practice of Parliament, in asking question No.- 5.
– And No. 2.
– I am perfectly willing to submit to the standing order, and to your ruling, Mr. President. If the Clerk will alter the questions, I will ask them again on Tuesday next.
– Reference has also been made to question No. 2. If honorable senators are desirous that I should strictly interpret the Standing Orders, I will do so, but I wish them to understand clearly that it will very oft.en place an obstacle in the way of their obtaining information that they might reasonably expect to get.
– I will withdraw the questions, and put them in- another form.
Answers to Questions at Morning Sittings.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– I shall be glad if the honorable senator will repeat the questions to-morrow. When . we meet so early in the morning it is impossible to get the answers from the various Departments. I trust that honorable senators will kindly .bear this in mind. If they could give notice of questions for a day further ahead whilst we are sitting in the mornings, it would accommodate the Departments, and enable us to supply the answers.
– I will repeat, the questions to-morrow. .
– On a point of order, is not question No. 3, as to how the Government reconcile their action with a certain statement of the Prime Minister, argumentative ?
– And does not that apply to question No. 4 also?
– I shall have questions, as they are submitted, placed under review from time to time. When I find that a matter of argument is involved, I shall send the question back to the honorable senator responsible for it, in order that he may, if possible, alter it so as to conform with the correct interpretation of the standing order.
Senator KEATING laid upon the table the following papers: -
Defence Acts 1903-4. Statutory Rules 1908, Nos. ir and 12.
Motion (by Senator Best) agreed to -
That during the remainder of the present Session, unless otherwise ordered, the sittings of the Senate or of a Committee of the whole Senate on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, be suspended from r p.m. to a quarter past 2 p.m.
Motion “(by Senator Givens) agreed to -
That there be laid on the table of the Senate copies of all .correspondence and papers relating to the undue delay in delivering a registered letter, containing the nomination of Mr. Myles Ferricks, at” Bowen, recently.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 18th February, vide page 8153) : Schedule.
Division V. - Textiles, Felts and Furs, and Manufactures thereof, and Attire.
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 to the 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 specified in the Schedule hereto.
Upon which Senator Best had moved -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 123, paragraph b, by inserting, after the word “ wool,” the words “not containing silk or having silk worked thereon.”
– Senator Mulcahy takes exception to the amendment, because he contends that it involves the. continued severance of paragraphs b and c, and, moreover, will necessitate a request later on to reduce the duty on silk from 20 and 15 per cent, to 15 and 10 per cent. The reason I propose the insertion of the words, as I explained last night, is that’ . the dividing line between the two paragraphs is, otherwise, not quite clear. For instance, if. piece goods were imported which were mainly woollen, but contained a slight amount of silk thread, it might, and could well, be argued that they came under paragraph b ; and so in the event of goods mainly silk, but containing some woollen, it could be argued that they came under paragraph c. Objection was raised to this by the mercantile community, who urged that owing to the rather ambiguous wording, much trouble would arise; and I therefore propose, the request which is now before the Committee, and which, it will be admitted, puts an end to the ambiguity, and meets the objections raised by Senator Mulcahy and others. But then . we are met by the rather more serious and important aspect. I admit frankly that, so far as paragraph c is concerned, it is intended as a revenue duty, recognising, as other honorable senators must, that silk has at all times been regarded as a legitimate subject for taxation. The question, therefore, that honorable senators have to consider is whether they are prepared to make a very serious sacrifice of revenue.
– Or, in other words, to relieve the burden of taxation.
– On silk, which is really a luxury.
– It is an absolute necessity as a dress material.
– It is for honorable sen ators to determine whether they are prepared to make the very serious sacrifice of revenue involved. The imports of silk from countries, other than the United Kingdom, are represented by£600,000, and the imports from the United Kingdom by £100,000. At 15 per cent., the£600,000 worth would produce a revenue of£90,000, while the , £100,000 worth from the United Kingdom would produce£10,000. I am, of course, arguing on the basis of the importations of 1906, being assured, as I firmly believe, that if the new duties be imposed there will be no diminution of the importations.
– Is that not a mere guess ?
– It is for every honorable senator to make up his own mind. .Senator Mulcahy. - But the Minister said he was assured.
– I am so assured by. the departmental officers. If the duty provided for in the schedule is maintained, namely, 20 and 15 per cent., there will be produced from the ,£600,000 worth of importations - I am talking in” round figures - £120,000, and from (the importation from the United Kingdom there will be produced .£15,000. In other words, the revenue from a duty at 20 and 15 per cent, will be £135,000, whereas, at the lower rate suggested, there will be only £100,000, showing a loss of revenue to the extent of £35,000. And I point out to honorable senators that this is only one item in the schedule.
– Then the VicePresident of the Executive Council is arguing in favour of a revenue Tariff?
– I am arguing in favour of a revenue from this particular item, which I regard as a legitimate subject for taxation. The loss of £35>000 is sul?” stantial enough; but I point out that it does not stand alone. The goods embraced in paragraph d are practically on all-fours with those in paragraph- c, and if the lower duty of 15 and 10 per cent, be accepted in regard to the latter, then I prophesy a, similar reduction will be moved in regard to the former. If that be so, there will be a further loss of revenue of .£29,000 or £30^00.
– Increase the duty in paragraph b to 20 and 15 per cent., and thus secure uniformity.
– I have no objection to that being done, and if Senator Mulcahy will accept the request’ I shall be very glad to meet him.
– Why not bulk the three; - b. c; and d - together, and avoid all the confusion?
– And re-cast the whole of the other items.
– Not at all. The argument of Senator Mulcahy is that it is desirable to unite paragraphs b and c. If that be the case, I tell him at once that I have no objection to unite them under a duty of 20 and 15 per cent.
– What will become of items 106 and 107 then?
– They would not be altered.
– No, but if we raise the duty on the raw material embraced in item 123, and recklessly disregard the effect on items 106 and 107, what then?
– When we come to items 106 and 107 we will deal with them. But at present I am trying to meet my honorable friend, who wants the two paragraphsunited. I am prepared to unite them, as suggested by Senator McGregor, on a basisof 20 and 15 per cent.
– By deliberately heaping an enormous burden of taxation’ upon the people.
– I think not. With regard to paragraph b of item 123, our original proposal was to impose a duty of 35 and 30 per cent., and consequently without any qualms of conscience, I can consent to the increase of that duty to 20- and 15 per cent, as suggested. What I am pointing out to my honorable friend is. that paragraph c is practically on all-fours with paragraph d. It is inevitable that if the honorable senator does not move a reduction of the latter duty, such a reduction will be moved. We cannot, with equanimity, look upon such a serious loss as is involved, particularly when we bear in mind that the revenue from item 123 alone has already been reduced by over £150,000.
– How ?
– By the reduction of” the duty on piece goods other than wool and silk.
– Yes, but that is not a reduction of the duty in the old Tariff.
– No, but the duty on paragraph e has been reduced from 10 and 5 per cent, to 5 per cent, and free, so that there has already been a reduction of revenue from the item to the extent of £150,000.
– But the revenue could afford very well to bear that reduction.
– My honorable friend may think so, but I can assure him that it is a very serious matter. Perhaps for the current year there will be an overflowing Treasury, but the best advice we can get from the Department is that that is not going to be continued.
– Do not believe it.
– I am disposed to believe it.
– ThisTariff will produce a tremendous revenue.
– This Tariff, which isprotective in its incidence, will result, I hope, in a very substantial reduction in importations, and, consequently, in revenue. In- other words, it will not be effective un- less that result occurs. I point out that on paragraph r the duty has been reduced from 25 and 20 per cent, to 10 and 5 per cent. Honorable senators will see that in regard to item 123, which covers so many legitimate objects of revenue taxation, there have been very large and serious reductions made. And in the circumstances the Committee would be ill-advised if it accepted the proposal of my honorable friend to reduce the duty on silk goods from 20 and 15 per cent, to 15 and 10 per cent.
– I cannot follow the statement of Senator Best, that in connexion with this item of silk goods there will be a loss of £35,000. If he is arguing that a preferential rate -will throw a larger proportion of the silk trade into the hands of the United Kingdom, and therefore increase the loss of ,£5,000, which I mentioned last night, I must agree with him. But I take it that the object of the preference is to give an increase of trade to the United Kingdom. Last year we imported from the United Kingdom £506,000 worth of silk, but of that quantity only ,£100,000 worth was manufactured there. Every one knows that the Continental manufacturers of silk are really the manufacturers for the world. By a 5 per cent, preferential duty we may be able to shut out a small percentage of the Continental trade in silk, but we cannot get from the United Kingdom anything like all the silk we want. Therefore, while the preference will operate to some extent, it will operate to a very small extent indeed. We shall not get Japanese silk from Great Britain, but from Japan, where it ‘is made, so that in that respect the preference will not operate at all. Why has the Minister increased the duty on a revenue item from 15 to 20 per cent. ? With what justification has it been done?
– Because it will bring in more revenue.
– Does .the honorable senator say distinctly that it was nut on for revenue purposes? If that is his answer to my inquiry, he can very well do without the duty inasmuch as the estimate of revenue has already been exceeded largely. I can state with some authority that silk is not worn exclusively by rich persons. Suppose that at a cost of £4 or £5 a lady should imitate the twenty-five guinea silk dress of a lady of fashion. On the ad valorem principle the latter will pay rive times the amount of duty that the former will. I have already explained that a piece of silk trimming is as necessary for the dress of the humblest worker as it is for the dress of the richest woman. These goods are closely associated with the item with which we are now dealing, and the object of the request is to eliminate from this item goods which have a little thread of silk.
– The honorable senator wants to put paragraphs b and c together, and to subject them to the same rate of duty?
– Why not include paragraph d too?
– I should like to see that done, but there are not such strong reasons for doing that as I am able to give iri support of this request. Silk is an absolute necessity for a trimming, and in many cases for that little . pardonable luxury which even the poorest man likes to afford if he can in the dressing of his wife and children. Senator Trenwith yesterday pointed out that silk can be bought at 2s. per yard, but it can also be bought at 7s. 6d. per yard. » It is possible to get dress materials other- than silk at 2S. per yard, . but whilst it would take only . 7 yards of such material to make a dress, it would take from 14 to 18 yards of silk to make a dress, because silk materials are manufactured in narrow widths. Allowing for all these things, a duty of 15’ per cent, under the general Tariff, and, as I intend to move later on, of 10 per cent, on imports from the United Kingdom, would fairly adjust the incidence of this taxation. A very great deal of trouble would be saved in the passing of Customs entries for these goods and articles. The revenue would not amount” to anything like what has been suggested. The leader of the Senate, who is naturally at a disadvantage in dealing with technical items, seems to be under the impression that the inclusion of the words he has moved would remove all possibility of trouble . with the Customs officers.
– If “ would only aggravate . it.
– It would remove all ambiguity.
-If the wordsproposed were included what would happen would probably be that some enterprising firm in Great Britain, finding that silk mixed materials had become valuable, would make an imitation of them with! mercerized cotton or a preparation of a worsted material, and new trouble and difficulty would arise with the warehousemen in Australia- attempting to pass entries on these goods. An increase of the duty to 20 per cent, would not result in the increased’ revenue claimed for it by Senator Best, but would cause ladies who wear silk dresses either to put up with the same dress for a greater length of time, or to go in for cheaper kinds of silk than thev now wear.
– - As a protectionist, I am convinced that the strongest reason urged against the retention of the duty is that put forward by the Vice-President of the Executive Council. No true protectionist believes in revenue duties, and, as we have been informed that this is essentially a revenue duty, I am not disposed to vote for the request suggested by the honorable senator to insert certain words in paragraph b, in order to prevent the importation of any kinds of silk, unless at a rate of duty higher even than that recommended by the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission.
– The honorable senator had better look at the free-trade recommendation.
– It is sufficient for my purpose to know that the protectionist section of the Commission recommended a duty of 15 per’ cent, on this item. The Government are not satisfied with that, and propose to go 5 per cent, better, and, as ‘ a protectionist Government, the only reason they give for the proposed increase is that we require revenue. Some honorable senators no doubt’ will say. as has already been said, that1, as silk is a luxury, it should be subject to taxation, but I see no reason why bv the imposition of unnecessary taxation we should remove further and further from the working classes the opportunity to derive some enjoyment from the use of the luxuries which people of their own class produce. Tt must be remembered that silk is the raw material- used bv many industries established in different parts of the Commonwealth. The higher the duty on this raw material the more difficult it will be for manufacturers who use it to compete with the manufactures of similar goods in other parts of the world. Preference to Great’ Britain in respect of silk goods need not seriously be considered, because, as Senator Mulcahy has said, the major por tion of these goods come from the continent of Europe.
– That is the very reason why the honorable senator should encourage the manufacture of silk goods in Great Britain.
– I am not greatly concerned about the manufacture of silk goods in Great Britain. What I am concerned about is that this is. essentially a revenue duty, and that it is manifestly unfair for any such purpose as the .raising of revenue to impose additional .taxation on the users of a raw material required bymany industries established here. I am against the request submitted by the Government, and I shall probably support the request to be moved later on by Senator Mulcahy, to reduce these duties from 20 and 15 per cent, to 15 and 10 per cent, respectively.
– Why not make the item free?
– If a proposal were submitted to ask the House of Representatives to make the item free, I am not sure that I would not seriously consider it.
– In framing a Tariff and imposing a duty upon an item, such as that we are now considering, we should have, regard not merely for the raising of revenue. One of the most important duties of Parliament in framing a Tariff is to see that its administration is made as simple as possible. We know that there are stacks of departmental decisions on matters relating to the importation of textiles, such as are covered by this item. It would simplify the administration of the Tariff exceedingly if we decided to include all dress fabric’s and trimming materials included in paragraphs b, c, and d, under one heading.
– I should vote for their inclusion under one item ; it would simplify transactions with the Customs House very much.
– Undoubtedly it would. If that . suggestion were adopted there would be no need for Customs officials to examine a cotton or a woollen shirt, to see whether the button-holes were not worked with silk thread. The division of these items hitherto adopted has led to endless confusion, and to the compilation of a volume of departmental decisions which it would require an expert to analyze. Paragraphs b, c, and d, cover dress materials for the making up of wearing apparel or trimmings used in the making up’ of ap- parel, and they should all be included under one head, and be made subject to the same duty. The. question would then arise: “What duty should be imposed?” The Vice-President of the Executive Council has pointed out that unless we retain the duty here submitted, and make the distinction between the items covered by the paragraphs referred to, we shall loose something like £35,000 a year in revenue. I should not be concerned if the loss were £50,000 or ,£60,000 a year, because, in my view, every argument used in favour of an increase in revenue under these items is an argument against the duties proposed. I have no wish to raise revenue through the Customs. I am prepared to vote for the highest protective duty I can secure upon goods we can manufacture in Australia, but the duty we impose on goods which we do not produce, and are not likely in the near future to produce in Australia, should be as low as possible. I respectfully suggest to the Vice-President of the Executive Council that, in order to simplify the administration of the Tariff, it would be well to put the goods, covered by paragraphs b, c, and d, under one heading, at a moderate rate of duty. He should be satisfied with a nominal duty rather than a duty which is calculated to extract more revenue out of the taxpayers of the country than they had to pay under the previous Tariff, particularly as the item has no protective incidence. It would immensely simplify matters if we put paragraphs b, c, and d together.
– I “think we might go further than that.
– That would be going far enough; and, for my part, I am prepared to accept the duty now proposed on paragraph b, as the duty on the whole three paragraphs, if they were put together. That duty is just about as high as the Minister can persuade me to go.. We ought to make an endeavour to simplify the Tariff, and to make it more comprehensible to people who will have to carry on business under it. and to the departmental officers who will have to administer it.
. -I do not think that during the course of this debate I have made many references to the work of the free-trade section of the Tariff Commission, but I do think I can with regard to this item say that that section made a recommendation, which is worthy of the serious consideration of every member of the Committee. If I may be permitted, I will read it. It appears on page 125 of our report. We said, regarding the proposed new classification of apparels and textiles -
In connexion with Division V., Apparel and Textiles, it has been ma.de apparent to us, in the course of our inquiry, that a simpler and more natural classification would be an advantage, both to the Customs Department and to the public. With this object in view, we have prepared a new scheme of classification, in which the question of revenue has had due consideration, and which in our opinion would present fewer anomalies and difficulties than the existing one. .
The object of the free-trade section was, as will be seen from what I have quoted, to obtain simplicity, and to prevent many of the inequalities and anomalies that bristled in the old Tariff, and which are, I venture to say, repeated in” a more aggravated form in the present Tariff. Out report went on to say -
We have the honour to submit this scheme, together with a detailed schedule, showing how the principal articles of import fall- into our proposed classification.
Scheme of Classification. - Textiles, &c.
Wool, cotton, flax, hemp, ramie, silk, jute, straw and the like fibres, animal hair, not spun or manufactured. Furs raw, free.
That will appeal both to free-traders and protectionists. I will admit at once, in connexion with this classification, that we were considering practical politics. We made a graduated scale, attempting to bring into line, if we possibly could, both free-traders and protectionists on these very large and important items. Our report went on -
Between the raw material and the yarn there is an added labour cost which we recognised. We then went on -
I do not wish to draw attention at present to the recommendation as to duty, but I say that this classification would essentially promote the simplicity of this Tariff. The last item that I have read covers all that we see in the Tariff before, us under paragraphs b, c, d, e, and r. I say, without hesitation, that the adoption of our proposed classification’ would save an enormous amount of trouble to the Customs authorities, and to every one who imports or consumes these goods.
– Paragraph 4 of the recommendations hardly covers paragraph b of the item before us. ‘
– Practically, paragraph 3 of our recommendations covers every one of the paragraphs in the item before us, and of those which are ahead of us relating to the same subject. The adoption of this classification would, I. believe, (promote wonderful simplicity in the working of Hie Tariff. If Senator Best were bold enough to grapple with the position, as I think it ought to be grappled with, I am sure that his action would meet with the approval of the Committee and the public.
– What duty does the honorable senator advocate?
– I am delighted to see Senator Givens back again, and am also delighted’ that the first question he asks me is what my attitude is with regard to revenue duties. I will tell him. He cannot go further than I would if I had ray way in reference to them. I would go absolutely to the bottom, and make those items upon which revenue duties are imposed, free. We have had to listen during this debate to many arguments in favour of high protective duties, especially from Senator Best, but this is the second time, as far as I know, when- we have been seriously asked to vote for revenue duties. Senator Best has urged the argument - fallacious, I think, in the present case - that these goods represent in some way or other a kind of luxury, and that we ought to get revenue out of them. Now, if I have any ambition with regard to this Tariff, it is that I should like to bring some of the luxuries of the rich within easy grasp of the poorer classes of the community. That argument with regard to luxuries can be pursued altogether too far. If it were pursued throughout, it would lead to depriving the poor man or woman of practically everything ,except proved necessities. I have absolutely jio sympathy with that attitude.
– Some people would consider socks a luxury.
– I dare say they would. As far as is reasonably possible, we should put it within the power of every mpi to buy as many goods as he can afford, even though some of them do not Cone under the heading of bare necessities of life. I wish Senator Best could see his way to adopt the classification which I have suggested, and let the Committee fight out the duty. _ To do so would be to carry out everything that Senator Mulcahy wants, and would, I believe, meet with the unanimous approval of the Committee. But I suppose that if an attempt were made in that direction, there would be a lot of fighting, not on the merits of the case, but through fear that by altering the existing classification we should not get a satisfactory duty.
– We should get a very reasonable duty.
– I am afraid that I could not agree with Senator Mulcahy on the duty. I shall vote for the lowest I -can get. I have no desire to get revenue. I have often had to vote for high duties that I did hot like, but that was because I could not get lower ones. I shall vote against the request before the Committee. The object we have in view can be better secured by defeating Senator Best’s request than by accepting it. I shall then endeavour to get the duties on the whole of these goods classified together as low as possible.
– I find myself in ‘agreement both with Senator Findley and Senator Givens on ‘this matter. In the first place, I have never in discussing Tariffs considered that we should put high duties on silks. I have never looked upon them as the perquisites of the rich,, but as commodities that everyone may legitimately use. I fail to see why the mistress should wear silk without the maid having- an opportunity of getting a little for herself. That is the view which I have always taken- with regard to these commodities. Tn addition to that, silk is the raw material of the tie makers, the umbrella makers, and the manufacturers of other articles. We should endeavour to let them get their raw material as easily as possible. Therefore, I wish to make the rate of duty reasonable. I agree entirely with Senator Givens. I think it is one of the most sensible suggestions which we have had during the Tariff debate that paragraphs b, c, and d should be considered together. There is very little essential difference between them. We have another object than to impose duties, and that is to make the Tariff as simple as possible, that “he who runs may. read.” It is practically immaterial to the importers whether we impose a. duty of 10 per cent., 15 per cent, or 20 per cent. ; they simply pay the duty, and a.dd to the total cost a sum sufficient to yield a profit of 20 per cent. or. 30 per cent, as the case may be. But the matter is of great importance to those who use these goods The multiplication of Tariff classifications ought to be avoided as much as possible. ‘ We have an army of- experts who cannot even agree amongst themselves. Instances have been brought under, my notice where in respect of the same articles different decisions have been given by the Customs officials in Melbourne, Adelaide, and Perth. The Tariff should be so simple that there should be no difficulty in securing uniform decisions. I do not agree with the request proposed by Senator Best, but shall support Senator Givens’ proposition, that the three paragraphs be grouped and made liable to the one rate of duty. If the Government are afraid that such a rearrangement may lead to a loss of revenue, I shall be prepared to support the duties being raised to 12^ per cent, and 17 £ per cent. I do not think, however, that any loss would result if we subjected the goods coming within the three paragraphs to duties of 10 per cent, and 15 per cent. The increased importations would make up for any immediate loss that might result.
– The request proposed by Senator Best will remove the ambiguity of the item as it stands, but it certainly will not get rid of the grievance under which merchants labour. Their complaint is that if they import a woollen fabric containing even a thread of silk, difficulty at once arises,’ and a wide field of investigation is opened up. With all due deference to the Vice-President of the Executive Council, and the officers advising him, I do not think that his request would remove the difficulties which have been pointed out again and again by representatives of the mercantile community. The trouble would, however, be removed if. we imposed uniform duties in respect of paragraphs b, c and d.
– Clearly so.
– Then why not request that such an amendment be made? I have suggested that’ instead of agreeing to Senator Best’s request, we should have duties of 20 per cent, and 15 per cent, in respect of paragraph’s b, c and d.
– Hear, hear.
– A number of honorable senators share my view, that the Vice-President of the Executive Council has been taking away the inducement to support an increased duty by declaring the item to be exclusively revenue producing. I contend that it is not. At “the present time we are manufacturing in Australia some of the fabrics covered by paragraph b, and, having regard to the possibilities of improved machinery, there is no reason why the industry should not expand. Because silk has never been manufactured in Australia, some honorable senators seem to think that it is ‘ impossible to make it here. I hold a different view. If Canada and Great Britain, where the possibilities of silk culture .are nothing .like so great as they are in Australia, can manufacture silk, why should we not be able to do so?
– The honorable senator suggested that I had declared paragraph b to be a revenue-producing one. Such an idea has never crossed my mind. What I said was that the duty on silk h a revenue item.
– That, to a very great extent, destroys the possibility of our securing, in ‘respect of these paragraphs, a uniform duty at a higher rate. On several occasions whilst travelling in Australia, I have met representatives of Canadian silk manufacturers, who have always expressed surprise that the Commonwealth had not long since entered upon the production of silk. Be that as it may, I am not going to fight very strenuously in either one direction or the other, so far as this item is concerned. My main desire is that uniformity shall be secured. That is what was demanded bv the merchants who appeared before the Tariff Commission in almost every State capital. Senator Clemons will bear out mv statement that nearly every one of them urged us to make an effort to secure uniformity, saying, “Do not have so many classifications. Goods which as a rule are packed in the same cases should be subject to the same rate of duty.” I hope that we shall request another place to make liable to the same rate of duty all goods used for similar purposes.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [12.7]. - Not having heard the opening debate, on the proposal originally made, I have listened very attentively to what the Vice-President of the Executive’ Council has said this morning in regard to the proposition now before the Committee. The question that we are really dealing with is a request moved by Senator Best to introduce the words “ not containing silk or having silk worked thereon ‘ ‘ in item 123, paragraph a. My honorable friend suggested that the amendment was necessary to. get rid of ambiguity. The only ambiguity that can possibly arise in connexion with either paragraph b or paragraph c must relate to the words “ woollen or containing wool.” The moment we introduce such a classification, the complexity and want of uniformity to which Senator McGregor has referred immediately crop up. It is impossible to specify the degree in which the material other than wool shall not be introduced in fabrics coming under this paragraph, and, therefore, the words “containing wool,” lead us into a sea of investigation and complexitv. And so also with the words “ silk or containing silk.” What proportion of silk would shut out a woollen fabric from paragraph b?
– A thread.
– A thread of silk running along the selvedge.
-I should be prepared to go a long way with the Vice-President of the Executive Council in an effort to get rid of complexity, and to secure freedom from controversy in connexion with entries at the Customs House. But, instead of removing the existing complexities, it seems to me that the honorable senator’s request would intensify them. As an honorable senator said a moment ago, woollen piece goods containing a thread of silk would be subject to a duty different from that imposed on goods consisting entirely of wool. That is extremely undesirable.
– One might go further, and render himself liable to a prosecution for attempting to defraud the revenue.
– As Senator Givens very properly points out, one would immediately land himself in a controversy with the Customs officials as to whether the goods contained silk threads or not. We all know that nowadays fabrics are so prepared that a thread ot cotton, or of some other material, may look uncommonly like silk. But the whole position in regard to the passing of entries through the Customs is made to depend upon whether they contain a single thread of silk. I shall vote against this request in the interests of the simplicity of the Tariff, and for other reasons, which have been advanced by honorable senators. The question as to what rate of duty should be imposed upon the goods enumerated in paragraphs b, c, and d, when it is made uniform, is another matter which deserves our earnest consideration. Personally, I am prepared to support the lowest duty that will recommend itself to the Committee. I would point out that, in respect of paragraph b, the duty originally proposed under the general Tariff was 35 per cent., and that under the Tariff for the United Kingdom 30 per cent. The House of Representatives reduced these duties to 15 per cent, and 10 per cent, respectively. Upon paragraph c, which relates to silk, the duties originally fixed were 20 per cent, under the general Tariff, and 15 per cent, under the Tariff for the United Kingdom. These were retained by the other Chamber, so that the articles in this paragraph are at present dutiable at a higher rate than those covered by paragraph b. It seems to me that- the original intention was that the duties, in respect to paragraph b, should be higher than those imposed upon the goods enumerated in paragraph c. When we come to ‘consider what the uniform duty shall be, I hold that silk, according to the principle underlying this Tariff, ought not to be dutiable at 15 per cent, under the general Tariff, and 10 per cent, under the Tariff for the United Kingdom, but. at lower rates.
– The original schedule was high because the Tariff Commission reported that the goods specified under paragraph b could be manufactured in the Commonwealth .
– The duties in respect of that paragraph having been fixed at 15 per cent, under the general Tariff, and 10 per cent, under the Tariff for the United Kingdom, no argument can be advanced why equally low duties should not be levied in regard to the goods enumerated in paragraph c.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 123, paragraph b, by inserting after the word “wool” the words “not containing silk or having silk worked thereon “ (Senator
Best’s request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 15 /// division :
– If the honorable senator crossed the floor of the Chamber after 1 had appointed the tellers, he must be counted with the “Ayes.”
– I understand that I changed my position prior to the tellers being appointed. It is unusual for me to be absent from the Chamber, but 1 happened to be out for five minutes, and when I returned I did not know exactly what was the question before the Chair until I heard you state it. As soon as I heard the question stated, I crossed the floor.
– Do I understand the honorable senator to say that he changed his position before the tellers were appointed ?
– I changed it at the earliest possible moment.
– I think that this is a very fine point.
– It may assist Senator W. Russell’s recollection as to whether he crossed the floor before or after the tellers were appointed, if I remind him that he took the seat which was vacated by Senator Givens.
-If Senator Clemons presses his objection, Senator W. Russell must be counted with the “Ayes.”
– I wish to ask how it was possible for Senator W. Russell to have changed his position until he knew what was the question before the Chair. He himself says that he only waited until he heard the question stated. You, sir, appointed the tellers whilst he was crossing the floor of the Chamber, and that fact explains how he came to occupy the seat vacated by Senator Givens.
– As Chairman, I am not responsible for whether honorable senators understand the question upon which they are voting. I have merely to administer the Standing Orders, which provide that they must cross the floor before the tellers are appointed.
– If an honorable senator is in the act of crossing the floor when you, sir, appoint tellers, has he not a right to vote in the way that he desires?
– If he is in the act of crossing the floor, certainly.’ Does Senator Clemons press his objection ?
– If I may be permitted to make a statement, I desire to say that I am quite certain of the fact that Senator W. Russell crossed the floor of the Chamber after you, sir, had named the tellers. That being . the case, in order to preserve proper decorum in our proceedings, and to maintain respect for our Standing Orders, I think that I ought not to withdraw my’ objection. There is nothing whatever of a personal character in itSenator W.. Russell can make an explanation, but I certainly think that his vote ought to be told with the “Ayes.”
– My attention having been drawn to this matter, I have no alternative but to uphold standing order 169, which says -
When a division has been called for, Senators shall take seats on the side of the Senate on which they intend to vote, and shall not move therefrom after tellers have been appointed until the result of the division has been declared.
It is imperative,- therefore, that honorable senators should pass either to my right or my left before I have finished naming the tellers. Senator Clemons states that Senator W. Russell did not cross the floor prior to the tellers being appointed, and as the honorable senator does not deny the statement, his vote must be told with the “Ayes.” -
– I should like to know with which side my vote is recorded ?
– With the ayes.
– It was my intention to vote with the noes ; .but’ when
I entered the Chamber. I did not quite understand the position. Senator Clemons, no doubt, was out for a bit of fun.
– I wish to secure respect for the Standing Orders.
– I am not sure whether a question could not be raised with regard to the propriety of allowing the vote of an honorable senator who sat on your right.
– I think that Senator W. Russell refers to me, because I crossed the chamber; but I did so as a protest againstthe discourtesy of those members of the Opposition who objected to the Government withdrawing the call for a division.
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move- -
That the Houseof Representatives be requested to amend item 123, paragraph B, by leaving out the words, “ viz. : - women’s and children’s dress goods.”
The object of the amendment is simplification. The words whose omission I desire have in the past created a great deal of confusion in Customs administration. Now, a weight standard is to be adopted as a means of discriminating between the woollen piece goods coming under paragraph a and the goods coming under paragraph b.
– It is a very unsatisfactory method.
– It is not altogether satisfactory, but it is the method adopted in the ‘United States of America and elsewhere, and, in my opinion, is the only way out of the difficulty. Its adoption’ makes the words whose omission I desire unnecessary ; but their retention will lead to the continuation of disputes between importers and the Customs authorities as to whether certain materials are or are not women and children’s dress goods.
SenatorBE ST (Victoria- VicePresident of the Executive Council) [12.29]. - I hope that the Committee will not agree to the request. Our object is to give fair and reasonable protection to local manufacturers, without, imposing a heavy duty on goods which, jf made here, cannot be freely manufactured in Australia. Various methods of discrimination have been suggested, but the best we know of - it has been adopted by other countries - is the application of the weight standard. I have the assurance of the departmental . experts that women and children’s dress goods are, generally speaking, well known, and easily recognised as such, and that if the words proposed to be left out are not retained, certain light-weight goods intended for men’s use will come in under paragraph b.
– That depends upon the weight standard adopted.
– If the weight standard is increased from 5 to 7 ozs., which is the suggestion of Senator Mulcahy, and the words “ women and children’s dress goods “ are. left out, piece goods, which should be dutiable at 30 and 25 per cent., under paragraph a, will come in at lower rates under paragraph b.
– No 7-oz. material suitable for men’s wear is made.
– I- am assured by the departmental experts that there is such material. I hope that the weight standard will not be increased, and that these words will not be struck out.
– Senator Mulcahy’s amendment, if adopted, would at least result in simplification, whatever other effect it might have. If the words which he wishes to leave out are retained, it will be for the Customs official to say whether piece goods are or are not women’s or children’s dress goods, which means the continuation of that uncertainty in Customs Administration from which the Commonwealth has suffered for years, and without the removal of which the Tariff cannot be improved. It would be unreasonable to say that it shall be absolutely impossible for material for the use of men, no matter what its weight, to be imported under paragraph b. The question to decide is whether the weight standard proposed is not sufficient to discriminate between the goods which properly come under paragraph b and those which ought to come under paragraph a.
– Women’s and children’sdress goods are well known and recognised as such, and men’s goods of the same weight are equally recognisable.
– That is an inaccurate statement.
– The honorable senator may know more than the Customs officersdo about it, but that is what they assure me.
– I am not pitting my knowledge against that of the Customs; Department, but after hearing most volu- minous evidence on the subject before the Tariff Commission, I ought to know something about it. If I did not, I could not have been attending to my duty. It is conceivable that the Customs authorities may be mistaken in this .matter, hut whether that is so or not it is not desirable, in the interests of the whole community, quite apart from any fiscal or revenue question, that the sole power to decide whether a particular piece of material may or may not be used for men’s clothing should rest with the Customs Department. The decision of that question should be removed from the administration of the Act by putting the item in a far simpler form, so that the only question for the Department to decide will be as to the weight of the material. What weight should be fixed is a matter for the subsequent consideration of the Committee, and does not concern Senator Mulcahy’s amendment. I cannot understand the Vice-President of the Executive Council opposing that amendment. He will lose nothing by it if it is carried. None of his protectionist fortresses will be knocked over. No great revenue tax that he wishes to preserve will be taken away. On the other hand, he will gain simplicity. No matter who proposes it, he should accept any amendment the object of which is to promote simplicity in the Tariff. At any rate, nothing can. be lost, from Senator Best’s point of view, whether he wants protection or, as we shrewdly think, revenue.
– I thoroughly understand and appreciate the difficulty felt by the VicePresident of the Executive Council. If he were assured that the weight would not be increased I believe that he would not raise so much’ objection to the request. It would certainly remove difficulties if Senator Mulcahy’s request were agreed to. and a great deal of misconception would be’ prevented if the reference to women and children’s dress goods were left out, and simply the. weight specified. No matter what the weight of a fabric., it is difficult for a Customs officer, or any one else, to tell whether it is to be worn by men, women, or children. I have seen children clothed in the heaviest tweeds. Their garments are- often made from their fathers’ old pants or coats. Are the Customs authorities going to trace a piece of material from father to son in that manner ? I had hoped that honorable senators opposite would give some assurance that they would not move to increase the weight limit. If they did, I should be inclined to support the elimination of these words. But, if after this alteration is made, the weight is to be indefinitely raised, the woollen industry in the Commonwealth will be seriously jeopardised. If the amendment is agreed to, I shall not vote to increase the weight. If the weight remains as if now stands, I quite agree that the amendment will greatly simplify the item, because, when the weight of the fabric is under 5 ounces it does not matter much whether it is to be worn by women or men, as it will still be subject to duties of 15 per cent, and io per cent. Those rates will be incidentally protective, until it is possible, with the proper machinery to manufacture the whole of the goods we require in Australia.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [12.40]. - The two questions that have been mixed up have really nothing in common. ‘Whether the words proposed to be left out by Senator Mulcahy should be left out is a matter that ought to be considered entirely on its own merits. I am not prepared to discuss the question of whether the weight should be 3, 5, or 7 ounces, until-
– I am afraid that the weight is the dominating factor.
– Of course, but for that very reason the question of the weight ought not to affect the elimination or retention of these words, which complicate the Tariff, and are really an absurdity. There is no earthly reason why the woollen material which is to be admitted at the lower rate of duty should be restricted in its use to women and children. The determining factor is not its use by women or children, or. its non-use by men. It is absurd, when providing for the admission of woollen goods of a particular weight per square yard at a particular rate of duty, to superimpose the restriction that they shall be used only by one particular class of the community. Senator Clemons. - A restriction which cannot be carried out.
– Its absurdity is fully apparent. _ There is also the argument of simplicity in favour of the request. As the item stands, _ it introduces an unnecessary qualification which can only have the effect of creating greater complexity. Neither Senator Mulcahy nor any other honorable senator is called upon at this stage to say how he will vote when the question of weight comes to be considered. The question is whether it is necessary to retain these words. If it is not, let us leave them out. Surely the Committee can trust itself to determine afterwards the question of weight.
. There has been an attempt to ridicule the idea . of prohibiting the use of this light material for other than women and children’s apparel. In view of its history, it is not open to ridicule from that standpoint. The first proposal was to put a duty upon woollens without any restriction. It was then urged that in the case of women and children’s dress material, which was of a very light character, not made here, and not likely to be made here for some time, a concession might be made. This departure from the protectionist principle, was made in deference to the plea that this particular kind of woollen material was used very largely for women and children’s dresses - articles of clothing which are an important consideration in every household. . That was the only reason for making the concession. Then it was felt that inroads might’ be made upon the ‘ protectionist principle by women and children’s dress material being brought in of such a character as could be made into men’s clothes. As a kind of. safeguard, therefore, it ‘was provided that this lower duty should apply only to women and children’s dress material not above a certain weight. The underlying principle of the concession was (0 free certain material for women and children’s clothing from some of the duties imposed upon material for men’s clothing.
– T”e rea-l object of this provision is to admit at ‘ a lower rate of duty particular textile fabrics that we cannot make here. There is scarcely a fabric imported, woollen, silk, or cotton, that cannot and does not from time to time, whatever the weight may be, form part of man’s attire. Even stuff under 5 ounces can.be made up for men, or for little boys’ knickerbockers, if it is so desired, although it is not generally done. The real question is the fixing of a fair standard for the weight, and we are now anticipating the debate on that question. Whatever standard the Committee subsequently fix, we should first simplify the wording of this paragraph. The Vice-President of the Executive Council stated, on the authority of his Customs officers, who, no doubt, advised him in all good faith, that even if these words are left in- there will be no difficulty, because women and children’s dress materials are we’ll known- and easily identifiable.
– I said that they are recognised trade terms.
– But such difficulties occur every day. Take, for instance, the well-known woollen fabric, alpaca - a common article for both men and women to’ wear. Light alpaca is really a women’s dress material. It is imported for women’s dresses, but it is also cut into men’s summer coats, in black and other colours. The importer who honestly imports it to sell as ladies’ dress material may be confronted by a Customs’ officer with a demand for higher duty, because it can be used for men’s clothing. The officials could just as legitimately demand a higher duty on any material that comes in under the 5-oz. provision. We should simplify this line in the schedule first, and then determine the fair standard of weight, and a fair measure of protection for goods of this class.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South’ Wales) [12.49]. - I shall support Senator Mulcahy’s amendment for the purpose of simplifying the Tariff, and avoiding the disputes which are everlastingly taking place between commercial men and officials who are always anxious to do their duty from the official stand-point - a very different thing from doing one’s duty” from the ordinary trade stand-point. ‘ Men necessarily look at a matter from the viewpoint df the position they occupy. I do not blame any Customs official for irving to get the higher rate of duty where he thinks he is right, but he is not infallible.
– As he is dictator in the matter, it is simplicity” itself for him.
– The official is advocate, judge, and jury, in one.
– He has no axe to grind.
– But if he did not do his honorable best for the Department, he would very soon lose his billet. To that extent he is influenced by his environment, and who blames him? I do not. It does not follow if we place a manin the . position of advocate, judge, jury-
– And executioner.
– And executioner, that we place him in a position hecan usefully and rightfully occupy. We have been told that the Customs Depart- ment cannot distinguish between starch and corn flour, and yet it is said that the officials can absolutely determine the use to which a piece of cloth is to be put. What stupendous folly ! It is tiresome to hear statements so utterly opposed to common sense. How can any man tell to what purpose a piece of cloth will be put? We know that many of the cloths imported for men’s wear are used for women’s wear - that tweeds intended for men’s clothing are used for women’s overcoats - :and, . as Senator Mulcahy said when he cited the case of alpaca, cloth intended for women’s clothing is also used, for that of men. I have here a sample of very light serge, no doubt intended for women’s wear; but it would make a very convenient suit for a man in such weather as we have been having lately. I am at present wearing a worsted suit which I dare say is much lighter than is half of the materials imported for the use of women ; I have no reason to believe .that it weighs 5 ounces per yard. It is impossible to determine by the appearance of a material, or its value, and weight, for what purpose it will be applied ; and the present proposal of the Government must lead to eternal conflicts between importers and the Customs officials. A very large addition to the staff of the Customs Department will be required if they have to determine the destination of goods. Has the Customs Department to follow each piece of cloth into the warehouse? There will be so much uncertainty that in the majority of cases the wrong duty will be applied - too high in one case, or too low in the other. That being so - this is no question of high duty or low duty - I shall vote, in this instance, not against the Government, but in favour of the simplification of a Tariff difficulty.
– There is a good deal more to be considered than the mere simplification of a Tariff difficulty. At the first blush, I felt’ very much inclined to support Senator Mulcahy’s request. There might be no harm if we were going to retain the weight at 5 ounces, but if, as is probable, the weight may be. raised, we are getting perilously close to a danger to our own mills. There is much force in what Senator Colonel Neild has said - that we are placing a great deal of power in the hands of Customs House officers, who will probably give contradictory decisions, the . matter being left to the exercise of their own sweet will. But I am in clined to run that risk, .rather than permit the importation of fabrics, which will compete, alt a duty much lower than the ordinary rate, with the products of our own mills. At the same time, I am rather in favour of increasing the weight somewhat”, because I can see that, by keeping the weight so low, we are really penalizing the poor. If the weight is to remain as at present, there is no harm in the request. But if the weight be raised to 6 ounces or 6 ounces, then I feel that, in adopting the request, we shall be taking a very dangerous course. I should like women’s goods to be specified, because it is dangerous to leave this to the discretion of the officers. On the other hand, if we allow the Tariff to remain as it is, we shall not run the risk of the introduction of materials to compete with the product of our own mills. But we are not always going to import women’s dress materia). Up to the present, in Australia, there have been manufactured only tweeds for men’s clothes,, but we ought to encourage manufacturers to undertake the production of women’s tweeds, which are very much worn now. I have been informed that, with’ a reasonable duty, .it is the intention of some of the manufacturers to undertake this class of production.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 -p.m.
– I do not intend to continue my remarks beyond saying that, after careful consideration, I propose to vote against the request of Senator Mulcahy.
– The matter, seems to be to some extent complicated by the expression of opinion which has been given as to the way in which it is advisable to reach the goal towards which apparently every one is striving. Certain honorable senators seem . to want to reach the goal by one road,’ while others prefer to take another road. The difficulty, in my mind, is as to which road is likely to prove the more satisfactory. So far as I can see, either the adoption of the request of Senator Mulcahy, or the alteration of the weight per vard, or a combination of the two might bring about the desired result. The difficulty I am faced with is to decide how to vote, on the request, until it is known what decision the Committee may arrive at with regard to the weight. Personally, I should prefer the retention of these words if there was a possibility of increasing the weight somewhat. But I do not know what decision the Committee may arrive, at in regard to the weight. Consequently, I am faced with the alternative of voting for a request which does not altogether appeal to me, because if I were to vote against it I might lose both that and one which I desire to see adopted. For that reason I am forced somewhat against my will to vote for the request as it now stands.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 123, paragraph b, “ Piece goods woollen or containing wool,” by leaving out the words, “ viz., women’s and children’s dress goods “ (Senator Mulcahy’s request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … ….1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
– At an earlier ‘ stage, I intimated my intention to move a request for an alteration of the weight of the material per square yard to 8 ounces, but in view of the recent decision of the Committee, I quite recognise that my figure might appear to be somewhat high. Without saying at this juncture that I am not prepared to proceed with my request, I should like to know whether ‘ the Government will be willing to accept a slight increase on the figure set out in the paragraph?
– I hope that the Committee will - realize exactly the position of matters. First of all, the duty on this item will be reduced from . 15 to 10 per cent.
– How is that?
– I cannot follow that.
– First of all, it has been practically determined to bring paragraphs b, c, and d into one paragraph, and to give a duty of 10 per cent.
– Suppose that the three paragraphs are brought together, it does not follow that the duty is to be 10 per cent.
– Is the honorable senator prepared to vote for a duty of 20 and 15 per cent. ?
– No. There is a difference between 10 per cent, and that.
– My honorable friend tells me that he is not prepared to vote for that which the. Government wants. Will he vote for a duty of 15 and 10 per cent. ?
– That is understood.
– That was recognised as the effect of the vote which was taken on the request to omit certain words. I ask the Committee to adhere strictly tothe weight of 5 ounces to the square yard. We have already decided that the duty on the piece goods embraced in paragraph a - woollen or containing wool, n.e.i. - is to be 30 and 35 per cent. If the limit as regards the weight be raised, it will mean that that item is going to be whittled away most seriously. Personally, I cared very little about the last division, except in connexion with the limit of the weight per square yard. If I had an assurance that it was going to remain at the 5 ounces, there would be very little opposition so far as I am concerned. But if the weight be increased, it will mean a substantial increase in the volume of importations. In all these circumstances, I ask honorable senators to permit the 5-oz. standard. to remain.
.- I followed the Minister’s words very closely, but I must admit that I am not able to accept his deductions. In framing the Tariff, the Government recognised the wisdom of taking out of paragraph a a certain class of goods which it was assumed were not being made here, and put the limit in regard to such goods at 5 ounces to the square yard. The question as to the duty was quite immaterial to them when they were making that subdivision. The question which must have then engaged their attention was: Can the goods be made here, or are they being made here? Evidently they thought that goods up to . 5 ounces per square yard were not being made here, because they decided not to bring them under paragraph a, imposing the heavier duty. The request for the omission of the words “ women and children’s dress goods “ in no sense affected that argument or principle. I accept the Government’s classification, and the only doubt in my mind is as to whether 5 ounces per square yard is a proper arbitrary limit to fix. It does not involve a matter of principle. The Minister says that he will take a limit of 5 ounces to the square yard, but the question is whether that is a proper one to fix.
– We are assured that it is, because goods ot 5 ounces per square yard are manufactured here.
– Was it not in my honorable friend’s mind a few days ago that he could safely accept something higher ?
– If I had a higher duty I would not care.
– The Minister has given his whole case away. It is not now a question of whether the goods can be made here, but a question of the revenue which the Government is to obtain from the duty.
– That was not the question at any time.
– The Minister has just said that it was the question. He said, “If I had a higher duty I would not mind.”
– As far as the protection is concerned.
– When the Ministry put the limit at 5 ounces per square yard it was done becausethey thought that cloth of that weight was not being made here, and that, therefore, it might be admitted at a lower duty without detriment to local industries. That is a position which I also am prepared to take up. The only point for us to determine is whether 5 ounces makes a proper limit. If ‘it does, there is no more to be said against it. On the other hand,- if it does not, we may reasonably raise the standard to 6 or 7 ounces, or carry it to such a point as will admit the materials which we do not make.
– We might make it 12 ounces.
– I will show my honorable friend why we cannot raise the limit to 12 ounces. The principle which ought to guide us is the letting in of those things which are not being made here, at the same time imposing a- higher duty on these goods which are made here. When Senator Turley suggests that the weight should be 12 oz., the answer is that that would cover fabrics which probably are made here, whilst 5 oz”. would not cover the whole of the goods which might be admitted at a low rate of duty without injury to local manufacturers. Whether the weight fixed should . be 6, 7, or 8 oz. is a matter of opinion. The Minister will admit that I am right in saying that, within the last two or three days, on the advice of the Customs’ officials, he was quite prepared to admit that the weight of these materials might be increased without detriment to any one.
– But when we had the samples before us, and were satisfied that similar goods were manufactured here weighing 5 oz. to the square yard and upwards, we had, of course, to adhere to that weight.
– That statement should give honorable senators an idea of the kind of guidance we may expect to get from the experts of the Customs Department. Only two or three days ago, the Minister was prepared to offer the official assurance that the weight might be increased without injury to local manufacturers with the same confidence as that with which he now asks the Committee to discard that view. In the circumstances, the Committee should be given the reasons which have led to this change of front on the part of the honorable senator, and of the Department.
– There has been no change of -front. I had come to no determination whatever on the subject of the weight of the goods, and was awaiting information concerning it.
– When the Minister denies that the determination with respect to the weight was arrived at, I tell him plainly that the Committee was informed that the Customs Department had no objection to this weight being increased to 5½ or 6 oz. per square yard. The honorable senator who intimated his intention of moving in that direction, explained that he proposed to do so after consultation with the Customs officials, and with the assurance that there would be no Ministerial objection to his proposal. That was the official view which the Minister was prepared ‘to indorse, and impress upon the Committee only a day or two ago. lt would appear that in the meantime some of the manufacturers, following their usual practice, have obtained the private ear of the Customs officials or Ministers, and have told them something which has led to this change of front. It is only reasonable that the Committee should be given the reasons for this change, and informed of the facts which have led to it, and which might enable honorable senators generally to revise their judgment. In the circumstances I shall welcome any information on the subject which the Vice-President of the Executive Council chooses to give the Committee. I had intended ‘ to move that the weight should be 8 oz.
– I have material in my hand, manufactured in the Commonwealth, which weighs only 6 ozs. per square yard.
– Will the honorable senator wager that that material weighs no more than 6 ozs. to the square’ yard ?
– I do not indulge in wagers.
– Samples have been shown in the chamber, which were said to weigh no more than 5 ozs., to the square vard, but when an honorable senator, competent to judge, wished to make a friendly wager that they weighed a great deal more, his challenge was not accepted.
– How does the honorable senator know that they weigh a great deal more?
– I know it as well as the Minister knows that the samples which he produces weigh no more than 6£ ozs. per square yard. I am- not contending for a moment that Ministers may not have had reason to change their minds on this question, but that it is not fair to ask honorable senators to change their minds also until the information upon which Ministers have acted is placed before them.
– The Government say that they have not changed their mind.
– I say - and let the Vice-President of the Executive Councildeny the statement if he pleases - that a day or two ago Ministers were prepared to accept ozs. Until Senator Best denies that statement I stand by it. All that I am asking for now is that the Committee should be placed in possession of the information which has led to this change of mind on the part of the Department and the Minister.
– Senator Millen has laid great stress upon the argument that 5 oz. per square yard is generally admitted to be below the weight of the materials which we can make in the Commonwealth, but the honorable senator is not correct in his contention that that is the reason why that standard of weight was adopted. It was adopted in connexion with materials used in the manufacture of apparel for women and children, and, as I pointed out earlier to-day, that was a concession made, not against the protectionist principle, but on behalf of women and children, representing a very large body of consumers to be found in every household. The concession was made, not because we could not make these goods, but because we admitted that we were not making them in such quantities, and could not make them with such facility as the heavier qualities of tweed.
– Honorable senators opposite have not adhered to that argument throughout.
– I am dealing with the history of this particular item, and pointing out that the reason for it is not that presented by Senator Millen. It was not that we could not make materials weighing 5 ounces, or under, to the square yard, but as a concession to a strong feeling, to which expression was given, that materials used in the manufacture of apparel for women and children should be admitted at a lower duty than materials used for other purposes. Wisely or unwisely, we have struck out the qualification limiting this item to dress materials for women and children, and we now have no other protection but the weight standard. I say that protectionists should be very careful about raising the standard of weight, because to do so is to enlarge the area of importation of woollen goods at the low duty attaching to this item. If we were assured that we could not make materials weighing as low as 5 oz. to the square yard, it might be wise to admit such materials duty free, but we know that we can and are making 5-oz. material.
– Can the honorable senator produce a single yard of it?
– No ; nor can Senator Mulcahy produce a yard of heavier stuff at the present moment.
– I do not wish > the honorable senator to produce it just now.
– I know what the history of this particular item is, as I know the history of quite a number of other items in the Tariff, and I say that I have described it accurately, when I say that we never agreed to admit 5-oz. material at a low duty because it could not be made here, but merely because it was understood that it would cover only women and children’s dress materials. We1 have decided that that limitation shall be removed, and the only protection left being the weight standard, I contend that from a protectionist point of view, it is wise that it should be as low as possible.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council is not more earnest in his desire to protect the Australian woollen mills in respect of these fabrics than I am myself.
– I think I am.
– I .know what my feeling on the subject is, and I have an advantage over some honorable senators, since I know what class of goods are at present manufactured in Australia in the way of dress tweeds. That is what we must act upon, and not upon what might be manufactured at some future time. I throw out this challenge now : I defy any honorable senator to produce a yard of dress fabric, made in Australia, weighing 5 oz. to the square yard.
– That has nothing to do with it.
– Has it not?
– No; because we struck out the limitation to women and children’s dress goods.
– I ask. honorable senators not to interrupt me. This is a very important matter, and, while I wish to protect the Australian woollen mills, I do not wish to give them a protection they do not need, and in respect of materials they cannot make. I am willing to protect them in respect of goods they can make, and I am prepared now to support the proposal to make the weight 6J oz. per square yard. That is a reduction upon the weight which I announced my intention to move for.
– I said that- I would like the weight fixed at 8 oz., but in view of a previous request carried by the Committee, I was prepared to vote for a lower weight.
– I hope the honorable senator will support me in an endeavour to have the weight fixed at (> oz. per square yard. I pledge my reputation that if a 6½-oz. standard is adopted,though we may lose a little revenue under this item, it will be upon stuff on which we ought riot to collect duty, or on which the rate of duty imposed should be very low.
– We should also lose a lot from the point of view of protection.
– It is a strange protectionist argument to use.
– Senator Best was himself the first to direct attention to the revenue aspect of the question.
– I never mentioned_ revenue in connexion with this item, and the honorable senator knows it.
– I heard the honorable senator do so. I hope that I will be permitted to say what I wish to say, and that honorable senators will not by interjections endeavour to make me say what I do not wish to say. I defy Senator Trenwith or Senator Best to produce a single yard of dress stuff made in Australia that weighs only 5 oz. to the square yard. I have made inquiries on the subject, and I find that the lightest cloth used here in the manufacture of clothing . weighs 9 J- oz. to the square yard. If we desire to protect the manufacture of woollen piece goods, we should act upon the understanding that 9^ oz. per square yard is the lightest woollen material from which men and boys’ clothing is made. At the same time, as I have already pointed out, other materials are constantly being imported which could be used for the purpose. . As Senator McGregor has pointed out, a woman might take her husband’s left-off clothing and cut it down for her children, and if the material were thick enough she might cut down a woollen dress of her own to make a boy’s suit. On the question of weight of material, I have here a number of samples of common material.
– All shoddy.’
– I admit that they are mostly shoddy, and it would be a very bad thing for the poorer classes of the people if they were not able to obtain some shoddy materials.
– It . would be much better for them to get the genuine Australian goods. They would get better value for their money.
– They cannot m many cases afford to purchase goods made of high-class all-wool tweeds. All that they require is a wearable material which will last the season, look respectable, and keep them warm and comfortable. Why should honorable senators compel people who cannot afford to do so to buy highpriced dress tweeds.
– They could do so if they were given good wages.
– We cannot expect that all our people will be given such wages as would enable them to buy highpriced goods.
Sena. or Henderson. - Is the honorable senator giving somebody a drapery advertisement?
– No; 1 am exhibiting a number of samples of dress material. I have, here a common Melton cloth. This is a material which must be imported because it is not made here, and h not likely to be made here, nor is any substitute for it likely to be made here. We have neither the market nor the machinery for making such goods. We have only 4,000,000 people to cater for, and this is only one small item in an infinite number of articles of dress material which ]>eople want, and will have.
– Is the material which the honorable senator holds in his hand wool ?
– There is not much wool in it.
– It is not woven atall; simply stuck together.
– It is woven. It is composed largely of shoddy, but it will last a poor woman -long enough if used for a winter dress.
– Sometimes the buttons will drop off while the woman is sewing them on.
– This is a material that is sold lor about is. nr is. 3d.
Tier yard. I do not say that it is a good material, but it is as good as many people can afford to buy, and it is the best material for the purpose for which they want it. For a season it will have the appearance of a material two or three times its price. Next’ season there will probably be a change of fashion, and the working people whose interests we are so fond of protecting, like a change of fashion just as much as do others who can better afford to buy new dresses. The Government are actually proposing to impose a duty of 25 per cent, upon that stuff, whilst at the same, time they .are going to allow finer textiles - French goods, such as Amazon cloths, weighing under 5 ozs. - to come in at 10 per cent. Is that justice?
– That is to say, the higher-priced article is going to pay the lower duty.
– The lower-priced article would pay no duty if they make it here.
– The honorable senator is “talking through his neck,” if he says we can make this sort of article here.
– We do not make shoddy here.
– We do make it. The honorable senator knows very well that it has been made here.
– :We never did.
– Will the honorable senator tell this Committee that he is so ignorant of the conditions of Australian manufacture as to say that shoddy is not made here? If he says so, I tell him flatly that he is talking in ignorance, and when I say so, I make a statement which I canprove. Plenty of shoddy material is made here,, and it is a good job that it is so. It is a better material- of its kind than that which is imported. The shopkeepers require it because their customers want it, and the mills have to make it.
– Does the honorable senator mean by “shoddy,” a mixture of wool and rags?
– It is a mixture of wool and inferior material, that is “teazed,” and cotton.
– I shall not contradict the honorable’ senator if he says he knows that shoddy is made here, but I have never heard of it, though I have heard of much that goes on in our factories.
– Let the honorable senator go to certain mills and merchants who make a particular line in dealing with the materials from which shoddy is made. There are merchants here who are kept busy supplying the mills with the necessary material. I know that the honorable senator is quite honest in his ignorance, but, nevertheless, he is ignorant of the subject if he will allow me to say so without any offence. There are French serges and French Amazon cloths which are under 5 ozs. They are manufactured not in England, but on the Continent. We are actually going to throw into the hands of foreign producers, whose speciality is the production of dress materials, because they make a finer class of dress fabrics than the British people do, the opportunity of doing their trade on easier terms than the manufacturers of goods consumed by our poor people.
– Why should we not reduce the 5-oz. limit?
– That would make it worse still.
– According to the honorable senator’s argument, it would make it better, because the limit would then include the finer stuffs which he says ought to be included.
– Make the limit 1 oz., and they will not escape.
– I have four fabrics before me. One is a fabric of British manufacture, known as Amazon cloth. Except in regard 1o its weight, it is identical with four other fabrics which I have here, and which are of French make. The article of foreign manufacture is of finer texture. The Amazons made in France are finer and lighter, just as French dress serges are finer and. lighter than British goods of the same kind. Under this proposal Amazon cloths from foreign markets will come in- at 10 per cent., while British Amazons, which are identical, except- that thev are a little heavier, will pay 25 per cent. The cheaper stuffs that we should try to enable the poorer classes to buy cheaply will also pay 25 per cent. Surely that is not just. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to further amend item 123, paragraph b, by leaving out the words “ 5 oz.” and inserting in lieu thereof the words “ §i oz.”
– I have listened with attention to the argument in regard to the 5-oz. as against the 6j-oz.” weight limit. I was under the impression that the Treasurer had promised the Sydney Chamber of Commerce that he would accept the 6^-oz. limit. In a communication I had from the Brisbane Chamber of Commerce that fact was stated. We were also informed in a sort of semi-secret way the other clay that the Government were prepared to accept the.6j-oz. standard. The Minister cannot attempt to deny that.
– -We were in a state of inquiry, and that was our best information.
– I have it from Senator Millen that the Government said they were prepared to adopt the 6-oz. standard. I . believe that Senator Millen saw the Vice-President of the Executive Council on the subject. We on this side of the chamber were prepared to assist to get the Tariff through. We met frequently to determine amongst ourselves as to ‘ the items upon which we were able to agree. Senator Millen informed the Vice-President of the Executive Council of what we were doing. But since then things have altered, so that we do not think it necessary to meet. We get no help whatever from the Government, who alter their proposals day by day, so that we really do not know where we stand. What’ I understand the gist of the present controversy to be is that lighter fabrics made on the continent of Europe will be admitted at a low rate of duty, though they are worn by the wealthier classes of the people, whilst other fabrics that are made in Great Britain, and that are slightly heavier, will pay a heavier rate, although they are worn by the poorer classes of the people. Surely that is not a proposition to which we ought to agree. These fabrics, as I understand it, cannot be made in Australia. The craze for them lasts only a little while, and it would not pay a manufacturer to invest his money in the making of them, because there would be no demand for them after a short period. The supporters of the Government actually propose that dress materials costing 2s. 6d., 3s., or 3s. 6d. a yard shall come in at a low duty, whilst those sold at is. or is. 3d. per yard, and which are used by those who do not enjoy a great amount of wealth are fo be taxed at 25 per cent. I have heard honorable senators opposite say frequently that thev would not support revenue duties. But here we are dealing with a purely revenue duty, because the goods in question cannot be made in Australia. Surely there is not much consistency in the attitude of honorable senators opposite. They are going to support a duty of 25 per cent, on the apparel of the poorer classes of people, whilst the wealthier classes who can afford to buy high priced material will pay 15 per cent. less. I cannot see why the Government so obstinately stick totheir proposal. They claim to be protectionists, and not revenue tariffists, and yet on this item they turn round and let in the fabrics of the wealthy classes at a cheaprate, whilst making the poor man pay twice as much. Having regard to all the bearings of the matter, I think that the best plan would be to increase the weight from 5 oz. to 6h, as the Government at first proposed.
– I deny that totally, and my honorable friend must know it.
.- Previous to the luncheon adjournment, I said that I was willing 10 support an increase of the weight to 6& ounces. But the position has been absolutely changed. I quite agree that the poorer classes of people would be penalized if no change were made. But if the alteration now supported by the Opposition were made, the effect would be to prevent the manufacture in this country of the lighter tweeds which we certainly ought to manufacture in view of our climatic conditions. The making of such materials in this country would be absolutely thrown back. By passing the item as we are now asked to pass it, we should practically be vitiating paragraph a to a considerable extent. I am entirely in sympathy with the case, presented by Senator Mulcahy-
– But the honorable senator will not support my proposal.
– The honorable senator spoilt his case by submitting a new proposal. While the requested amendment might be of some value to the people, it would seriously injure the woollen industry of Australia. ‘l am pledged to support the imposition of a fair duty for the protection of our woollen mills, and I think that a great mistake was made by Senator Mulcahy in proposing a request that these’ words .should be omitted. The whole incidence of the item has been altered, and, if I were not to vote against the request, I should be false to the promise which I made at the last general election to favour the imposition of a fair duty for the encouragement of the woollen industry.
– Oh !
– The honorable senator does not seem to realise the significance of the request- If agreed to, it would alter the whole incidence of the paragraph, and that being so, I shall vote for the retention of the provision as to goods not weighing over five ounces per square yard.
.- Last night I indicated my intention of moving in the direction suggested by Sena- tor Mulcahy, who desired that the weight of these goods should be increased from 5 ounces to 6^ ounces per square yard. Senator McColl has pointed out, however, that the deletion of certain words in the paragraph has changed the whole incidence of the item. I voted for the request that the words should be omitted, believing that it would tend, in a measure, to simplify the Tariff. I am not influenced by the consideration of whether or not Senator McColl ‘s contention is correct, but before I undertook to submit the request I desired the assurance of the departmental officials, and, in a measure, of the Government, that it would meet with their approval, and that Ministers, whilst not speaking in favour of it, would refrain from offering any strong opposition.
– To the request in its original form?
– Yes. Having received that assurance, and not’ anticipating any change, I gave notice last night of my intention to move such a proposition. Before the Senate went into Committee this morning, however, a representative of the woollen mills of New South Wales interviewed me, and stated emphatically that 5-oz. materials were at present being manufactured in that State.
– I am sorry to- hear, it: and for a. reason that I shall give presently.
– I told my interviewer that if his statement were correct he should confirm it by submitting samples of the material for the inspection of the Committee. He then informed me that after the minimum had been fixed by another place, interested parties in New South Wales lodged their protest with the Customs authorities, and submitted samples of the material being manufactured by them. Senator Mulcahy, who, we will admit for the moment, has had very considerable experience in regard to these materials, doubts that they are of the weight which the manufacturers declare them to be. The samples which I hold in my hand are labelled “ Parramatta Woollen Mills. Range of all wool tweeds; weight 5 to 5 J ounces,” I do not know why these manufacturers should make a misstatement.
– There might be a misconception. I was speaking of the weight per square yard, whilst the label on the samples produced may refer to the weight per running yard.
– That is possible; but those who submitted the samples knew in what respect the amendment of the schedule affected them. In view of , this evidence, of which I was not in possession when I was urged and agreed to move the request that has been printed and circulated, and for other reasons, I feel that I cannot now support the request submitted by Senator Mulcahy, and that I must stand by the provision in the paragraph as it stands that the goods shall not weigh over 5 ounces per square yard.
– There is one aspect of this question which may have been overlooked, and to which I desire to direct the special attention of honorable senators opposite, who seem to think that by voting against a request for an increased weight they will b=: encouraging the woollen industry of Australia. I am inclined to think that they will not ; that they would do better by supporting a proposal that the weight should be increased. At the present time, speaking practically and generally,’ Australia is not producing goods of. this description of the weight of 5 ounces per square yard. I suppose we shall be told that they may be made here. My answer to that is that if the manufacturers do succeed in bringing down the weight of these materials to 5 ounces it will be by an admixture of cotton. It any honorable senator desires - to encourage the woollen industry of Australia, he should object to so low a level as this being fixed in the Tariff. These are not idle remarks ; they are based first of all on evidence of a very decisive character given before the Tariff Commission, and, secondly, on the official statistics of imports. The facts in regard to the so-called woollen industry of Australia are very singular. Most, if not the whole of our importations of raw cotton are consumed by our so-called woollen factories. It may or may not be desirable, but if honorable senators wish to compel local woollen mills to reduce the weight of their material to 5 ounces per square yard that reduction will be secured by the admixture of cotton.
– Is that because cotton is lighter than wool ?
– Bulk for bulk? .
– Certainly. It is remarkable that such a question should bc put by an honorable senator who professes to be familiar with every detail of the Tariff. In 1906, 1,141,133 lbs. of raw cotton were imported into Australia. T have not at hand the statistics for Victoria, but I know that by far the largest proportion- of this cotton which was imported to be converted into piece goods was used in Victoria. It was for that reason that I interjected whilst Senator Findley was speaking, that I was sorry to learn that the woollen mills of New South Wales had entered upon the production of 5-oz. material.
– Was not the large consumption of raw cotton in Victoria explained by the evidence given before the Tariff Commission as to the manufacture of cotton wadding by Messrs. Laycock, Son, and Nettleton.
– It was to some extent.
– The honorable senator ought to know that the evidence which I am prepared to read–
– And which the manu- ‘ factturers were very reluctant to supply.
– And which the Tariff. Commission extracted under circumstances of considerable difficulty, very clearly showed that the vast proportion of the imports of raw cotton into the Commonwealth was used in Victorian factories for mixing purposes in the manufacture. of so-called woollen piece goods. I do not wish to enter into the controversy with regard to cotton in- flannel ; the facts are bad enough, and will come out at the proper time, but if honorable senators opposite are imbued with an honest desire to encourage in Australia the making of woollen goods - that is to say, goods which do. not masquerade as woollens - they will hesitate to vote against the request that this weight be increased. If the weight of goods coming under the paragraph were increased, manufacturers would be encouraged to increase the proportion of wool used in their manufacture; it would dissuade them from using cotton as an adulterant.
– I propose briefly to confirm the figures quoted by Senator Clemons with regard to the importation of raw cotton. The irresistible conclusion to be drawn from the evidence given before the Tariff Commission is that cotton is imported for the purposes of adulteration. In the report of the free-trade ‘section of the Commission, it is stated that according to the YearBook of 1903, in 1900, 178,332 lbs. of raw cotton were used in the Victorian woollen Mills; in 1901, 250,184 lbs.;- in 1902, 273,335 lbs. ; and in 1903, 368,749 lbs. It must be seen from these figures that raw cotton is being imported in considerable quantities, and I’ cannot think of any industry, save the woollen trade of Victoria, and perhaps of other parts of Australia, which requires it. The conclusion is irresistible’ that it is used for the purpose’ of adulterating so-called woollen goods, which receive the benefit of this duty.
– The provision in regard to the weight of goods coming under paragraph b, was first ‘ proposed in another place by Mr. Maloney, who stated for the information of the Committee, that the paragraph covered such goods as bengalines, cashmeres, cashmerettes, chenilles, crepe de chine, delaines, light flannels, nun’s veiling, Sicilians, taffetas, and voiles. These goods all contain more or less wool. Honorable senators will recognise that they are used by ladies, and belong to a class of which we know very little. Mr. Maloney proposed, in the first place, that the limitation should be 4 ounces per square yard, but Sir William Lyne at once said that he would agree to it being fixed at 5 ounces. He was pledged ultimately to agree to the weight being fixed, as in the Canadian Tariff, at 6 ounces, but being anxious to complete the consideration of the Tariff, the House of Representatives agreed to substitute “5 ozs. per square yard “ for “6 ozs.,” which would otherwise have been carried. It is very difficult to understand how it is practicable to differentiate between this women’s dress material and the dress material worn by men in the tropics.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 123, paragraph b, “ Piece Goods, Woollens, &c,” by leaving out the words “5 oz.,” with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ 6½ oz.” (Senator Mulcahy’s request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I have heard it sufficiently indicated from all sides of the Chamber, that this is a revenue duty, to induce me to move in favour of its reduction. As a matter of fact, I think that these goods should be admitted free.
– I have never suggested that’ the duty is a revenue one.
– Let us agree to the proposed duty, and then deal similarly with the next two paragraphs.
– I believe it is intended to make the next two paragraphs dutiable at the same rate as is imposed upon this paragraph. Assuming that that is so, I think that as a revenue duty, 15 per cent, is altogether too high. In order to test the matter, I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 123, paragraph B (imports under General Tariff), adval., 10 per cent.
I hope it will be recognised that 10 per cent, is a stiff revenue duty. Of course, I am assuming that. the same rate will be adopted- in regard to the two subsequent paragraphs. I cannot help thinking that, as the result of being accustomed so long to duties ranging from 25 per cent, to 40 per cent., the Committee are prone to regard 10 per cent, as a mild’ impost. Personally, I think it is a very heavy tax to levy upon a man’s capital or income. Translated into terms, either of land or income, it is equivalent to a tax of 2s. in the£1 ‘ If we were required topay land tax at that rate we should think it was a very stiff impost.
– I hope that Senator Clemons will not persist in his request. The real effect of the last division was practically to remove from this paragraph four-fifths of the materials worn by the poorer classes of the community, and to make them dutiable at 25 per cent. What we are now asked to do by Senator Clemons is to still further enlarge the anomaly that has been created.
– I am afraid that if Senator Clemons presses his proposal to a division I shall have to vote against it. In the earlier portion of the discussion there was a general expression of opinion that the duties levied upon the goods enumerated in paragraphs b, c and d should be made uniform. I desire to see that amalgamation brought about. Whilst I should be prepared to’ support such an amalgamation there is only one way of getting a still lower rate than that appearing in the schedule, and that is by agreeing to a 15 per cent, duty under the general Tariff, and to a 10 percent, rate under the Tariff for the United Kingdom. I would further point out that this is one of those items upon which it is possible for honorable senators, without doing violence to their fiscal opinions, to arrive at an agreement. That result, however, can be achieved only by a little give ‘ and take. I gather that there is a disposition on the part of the Committee to agree to uniform rates of 15 per cent, and 10 per cent. If, however, we accept Senator’ ‘ Clemons’ proposal, there will be no chance whatever of uniform rates being adopted. So far as I can judge from the statements made by gentlemen who possess some knowledge of the trade, it will be better to obtain the amalgamation of these duties at slightly higher rates, than to secure lower duties in one paragraph without that amalgamation. I have, therefore, to choose between two evils, and under these circumstances I am bound to choose the lesser.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [3.28]. - I think that the reasons advanced by Senator Millen resemble the attempt to establish a difference between tweedledum and tweedledee. He has pointed out that if we reduce the duty in respect of this paragraph, to 10 per cent, under the general Tariff, an amalgamationin respect of the two subsequent paragraphs may be prevented. But we have . to remember that the rate proposed under the Tariff for the- United Kingdom is 10 per cent. We all recognise that nearly the whole of our importation of woollen goods comes from Great Britain.
– Woollen goods as a whole.
– I am speaking of woollens, and of goods containing wool, all of which are included in paragraphs a and b.
– The foreign importations consist chiefly of dress stuffs.
– The total value of woollen goods, and of goods containing wool, imported into the Commonwealth is ,£1,901,000, of which the United Kingdom contributes £1,823,000. So that, practically, every yard of this stuff comes from the United Kingdom.
– It is just the one item upon which we are giving a preference to the United Kingdom.
– We are not extending preference to the United Kingdom.
– Undoubtedly we are. compared wilh the rates that obtained under the old Tariff.
– I am pointing out that, while, on the one hand, it is scarcely worth while for Senator Clemons to press his request, because 10 per cent, is the ruling rate in regard to nearly the whole of our importations, on (he other hand, the reasons which Senator Millen has given for voting against the request are of the shadowiest description. The same reasoning applies in regard to paragraphs c and d, which it is proposed to amalgamate with paragraph b, except that a larger proportion of the goods coming under them, such as silks, is imported’ from foreign countries. Even when brought here from England, these goods have generally been manufactured abroad, and merely passed through that country to be distributed. I hope that the proposed amalgamation will be made for the sake of simplicity ; but I do not think that much is to be gained by reducing the general rate to 10 per cent., since it affects only .£100,000 worth of imports. We can deal with the rate on silks when we are considering paragraph c.
– I wish to know whether this is a revenue or a protective duty ; it appears to me to be the former. I- gather that women and children’s dress goods have been separated from the main body of woollen imports because they are not, or cannot be, largely made in Australia. If that be so, rates of 15 per cent, and 10 per cent, are too heavy to impose upon them.
– Some of these goods are made here.
– If 10 per cent, is a sufficiently high protective rate to encourage the manufacture of women and children’s dress goods, it should be a sufficiently high protective rate to encourage the manufacture of other woollen goods.
– It has been said that these goods are not being made here.
– They can be made here, and some are being made here.
– Do honorable senators say that 10 per cent, is a sufficiently high duty for protective purposes?
– Then why not make the rate higher? In my opinion, this is wholly a revenue duty, and, therefore, I shall vote for its complete abolition.
– Paragraph b, as amended, covers materials which are not now being made in Australia, or, if made -here, are produced only in small quantities. By reducing the standard weight to 5 ounces, we make the manufacture in Australia of this class of goods still more unlikely.
– Then this is a revenue duty.
– It may be urged that, although these goods are not now being made in Australia, they may be made here. But, before they can be made here, some manufacturer will have to invest a large sum in new machinery, and the limited demand is calculated to discourage such an investment.
– Why should an Australian manufacturer confine his output to Australia ? Why should he not export his manufactures to other parts of the world ? Do honorable senators think that we are altogether helpless?
– It is not generally considered possible at the present time that Australia can have a large export trade in manufactures. In my opinion, there is a majority in favour of bringing paragraphs c and d into line with paragraph b.
– If that is done, the duty will undoubtedly be a revenue duty.
– Yes. The duty on the articles covered by paragraphs c and d is wholly a revenue duty. It is proposed for the sake of simplicity to amalgamate paragraphs c and d with paragraph b. Paragraph b covers goods some of which there is a faint chance of making in Australia, though I do not think that any honorable senator thinks their manufacture here likely. But the probability is that the same rates will be applied to the goods coming under paragraphs b, c, and d.
– If the Tariff is to be simplified, paragraphs b, c, and d should be amalgamated.
– Paragraphs c and d include materials on which the duty will be. wholly a revenue duty, while the duty on the materials coming in under paragraph, b is also, in my view, wholly a revenue duty. I was surprised to hear Senator Givens say that 15 per cent, is a proper rate to impose.
– I said that if I cannot get all I want, I shall take all I can.
– Surely even Senator Best wilL admit that the duty under paragraphs c and d is wholly a revenue duty. If it is not, there is no such thing as a revenue duty in the Tariff. The question is complicated by the fact that there is a preferential rate of 10 per cent, on importations from Great Britain. I wish to make the 10 per cent, rate general. In regard to paragraphs c and d, a preference is wholly illusory.
– I do mot care two straws about ‘ preference.
– And I do not care one straw about it. But let me show how a preferential rate would’ operate. In regard to silks, while the total importations of Australia during the last year for which we have figures was valued at £7°3>536> only £99>34* worth came from Great Britain.
– I have no objection to the adoption of to per cent, as a general rate. My argument was that that rate will operate in regard to nearly the whole of our importations of woollen goods.
– I am pointing out that in regard to silks it will hardly operate at all. Of velveteens we imported £576, 86f> worth, of which only ,£234,577 worth came from Great Britain. Therefore, in the one case the lower rate would apply to only one-seventh of1 the importations, and in the other to only 40 per cent. When I first proposed a general duty of to per cent., I indicated that I should be. glad to vote for a lower rate. I think that 10 per cent, is quite high enough for a revenue duty, which the duty on paragraphs b, c, and d would certainly be. 15 per cent, is too high. I have given ample proof, that I dislike revenue duties.
– Or any other duties.
– That is not the question. Senator Trenwith is absolutely callous with regard to the burden of taxation. He does not care whether some one else has to pay10s. in the £1 every time he enters a grocer’s or draper’s shop. I do. care. I should like to see the people as free from this taxation as possible. I am justified- in these circumstances in asking for Senator Stewart’s support to my motion to reduce the general Tariff from 15 to jo per cent. , ‘ although he will still be reluctantly voting for a revenue duty to the extent of jo per cent.
– Senator Clemons has argued very vigorously that this line is a revenue duty. I regret to say that it will bring in more revenue than I should like.
– If it is not a revenue duty, it is certainly . not protective.
– It is certainly not up to the degree of protective dutv that I should like, but it is the only possible duty in the circumstances, and, in fact, is largely protective, as is proved by the fact that we have now in the Chamber a considerable number of samples of Australian make of the kind of goods that it covers. If there were a possibility of succeeding, I should willinglv join Senator Stewart and Senator Givens in making the duty 30 per cent. But we are dealing with things as they are presented to us. Senator Givens very properly said that he was opposed to all revenue duties unless they were incidentally protective.” This duty is incidentally protective to a considerable extent, although not to the extent that protectionists like Senator Stewart, Senator Givens, myself, and many others would like to see it. But because a duty is not as completely effective as we should like, that is no reason why we should wipe it out altogether, and leave our people to be assailed without restriction by the competition of countries abroad. Senator Clemons put forward the extraordinary argument that it was no use giving a preference on this item, because at present the United Kingdom hardly sends us any of the material, the bulk of which comes from the Continent. But clearly the argument for giving preference is that we may induce the importation of those goods from Great Britain. If we were importing nearly all the stuff from Great Britain, it might properly be argued that it was of no use to give preference, as we could not take any more from Great Britain than we took already. But if we take, say, £600,000 worth of silk goods from Germany, France, and other European nations, clearly there is a large margin upon which to work in the interests of the United Kingdom. A great deal of silk goods are imported here manufactured. I refer to such things as silk ties and other articles, which in the aggregate amount to a large importation. Some of them are manufactured in England from German silk, French silk, or silk from other countries. This preference would be a larger inducement-
– We are dealing with piece’ goods, not with ties.
– Those piece goods may subsequently become ties. Everypreference that we give to the United Kingdom will have the effect, if it serves the purpose which we design it to serve, not of keeping at their present figure England’s exports to us of such things as we must import, but of increasing those exports, and decreasing the exports from other parts of the world.
– Is that why the honorable senator proposes to give prefer-, ence on bamboo chairs and, things of that sort ?
– I am not now discussing bamboo chairs. Surely, if there is a reason for preference, it is that at present Great Britain does not serve us with the bulk of these goods. I wish to remind Senator Stewart, if he has been influenced by what Senator Clemons has said, that Senator. Clemons is opposed to every duty, and reduces every duty, when he . can, by every means open to him. If he can reduce a duty by a direct free-trade argument, he will do it in that way. If he cannot succeed by that means, he. will adopt . preference as a means of reducing it.
– Very seldom.
– Because the opportunity seldom happens. If we have passed two items without giving any preference, Senator Clemons will readily vote for a proposal to give preference, not ber cause he believes in it, but because he believes in reducing duties by any means.
– Nine times out of ten I have walked out of the chamber when a vote is being taken on a proposal for preference.
– Some times out of the ten the honorable senator has walked out of the chamber, but even thenhe has been, in a measure, helping his general desire. I do not condemn that desire. I do not say that it is immoral to seek to abolish all duties.
– What has this to do with the request?
– It has this to do with it : that Senator Clemons’ arguments .have always to be discounted by the consideration that his ingenuity has been exercised to achieve an end that is contrary to the general opinion of the Senate.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [3.55]- - In the march which Senator Trenwith has taken from China to Peru in- search of arguments in support of the preference principle, he lias omitted one, which I will supply, and which he can add to his repertoire when he comes to bamboo chairs. It Is reported that, at a meeting which Senator Dobson addressed with great eloquence yesterday, the Prime Minister made reference to the statement that in England the people, even the Tariff reformers, were shocked at the Australian Tariff. He stated that the Government had had letters from the Tariff reformers in England to quite the contrary effect, and asserting that this Tariff would be a magnificent weapon for the next elections in England. That is an ingenuous admission - that the only benefit gained by putting these figures in the preference column of this schedule is to put a weapon into the hands of the Tory Party iri England, in order to turn out a Liberal Government and so secure high protection against the interests of the working classes of England.
– I should not take any further part in this discussion, were it not for the fact- that one or two honorable senators have persistently stated that I have urged that this is a revenue duty. I have never, directly or indirectly indicated that paragraph b of item 123 is a revenue duty. So far as the question of revenue is concerned, I have directed my attention to other paragraphs. Paragraph b is by no means in the form that I should like to see it in. The Government view was that it should bear duties of 35 and 30 per cent., and we should gladly have supported them, but we had to give way in another place, and waive our protectionist anxieties. Against our wish, the duties were reduced from 35 per cent, to 15 per cent. (General Tariff), and from 30 per cent, to 10 per cent. (United Kingdom).
– Has the honorable senator any information from the Customs Department showing the separate importations under paragraphs a and b?
– No. It is impossible to give that information, but the statistics show that under paragraphs a and b, which are grouped together, the imports for 1906 from the United Kingdom were of the value of £1,590,000, and from other countries £349,000. So far as I am able to judge the feeling of the Committee, we can secure a general Tariff duty of only 15 per cent, on this paragraph. I told Senator McGregor, when he interjected, that, as the Committee had determined to group paragraphs b, c and d together, I should gladly support him if he would propose duties of 20 per cent. (General Tariff) and 15 per cent. (United Kingdom). I felt that those were the rates which should be attached to this paragraph. But, so- far as I can judge, the majority of the Committee have ‘determined that the rates’ are to be 15 and 10 per cent.
– I should willingly move in that direction if I thought there was any chance of the request being carried, but I do not want to waste time.
– I quite indorse that. Senator Stewart was evidently under the impression that this was a revenue duty only. We regard it in no sense as such. We admit that it is not an adequately protective duty, and that there is not a large quantity of goods under the 5-oz. standard made in Australia at present, although there are goods made here at 5 ounces and a little over. Still we think that, with duties of 1.5 and 10 per cent., there is a prospect of some encouragement being given to our manufacturers to secure the necesary plant in order . to make the whole of the goods we require under the 5-oz. standard, as well as above it. I, therefore, urge that as Ave cannot get all we desire we should at least make sure that the duty, is no lower -than 15 and 10 per cent.,, a rate which I now know- the majority of the Committee are prepared to grant.
– Will that duty be effective ?
– It will not be as effective as I should like, but it is a start ; and there is a reasonable prospect . and probability of goods under 5 ounces being manufactured in conjunction ‘with goods above that standard. . Although at this juncture I feel loath to talk about preference, I cannot help saying that there is substantial room for preference, particularly in regard to paragraph d, the importations under which amount to £577,000 consisting of . £235,000 worth from the United Kingdom, and £342,000 worth from other countries.
– Does the “Vice- President of the Executive) Council consider 15 and 10 per cent, fair in -the case of paragraphs c and d?
– I desired to secure more than 15 and 10 per cent, in the case of paragraphsc and d, namely, 20 and 15 per cent.
– The honorable senator admits that this is’ a revenue duty ?
– I admit that this is a revenue duty, and to some extent paragraph d is on the same lines. But, at the same time, there is room, as regards the multitude of articles in the latter paragraph, for protective incidence. However, I do not desire to deal with preference at the present time, but simply to urge that this is essentially a protective duty to start with, and will in conjunction with the other duties have a protective effect.
– Does the honorable senator desire a 20 per cent, revenue duty in the case of paragraph c?
– I desire as high a. duty as the Committee will grant.
– My impression is that the duty of 15 and 10 per cent, will, under the circumstances, be effective. If we add to the 15 per cent, the interest, freight and exchange, usually calculated at 10 per cent., and add 5 per cent, for wharfage and so forth, we have protection to the extent of 28 or 30 per cent. I should like to see the duty less, but I agree with Senator Mil len that that is not possible; and, under the circumstances, I think the duty proposed is acceptable to the majority as one which will not only be effective from the protectionist point of view, but will also satisfy the legitimate demands’ of the Treasurer, and prove reasonable all round.
Question - “ That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 123, paragraph b, ‘ Piece goods, woollen, or containing wool ‘ (imports under General Tariff) ad val. 10 per cent.” (Senator Clemons’ request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 16
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 123, paragraph c, by adding after the word ‘‘thereon” the words !!, except piece goods enumerated in sub-item A.”
In the hurry and bustle of passing the Tariff in another place, the important words I propose to add were omitted. It will be observed that we Have already passed paragraph a, “ woollen or containing wool n.e.i.,” at a duty of 30 and 25 per cent. ; but “ silk, or containing silk or having silk worked thereon “ will not come under that paragraph ; and it is in order to make the position perfectly clear that I desire the addition of the words. Honorable senators will realize that in piece goods of “ woollen or containing wool n.e.i.,” it is possible there may be included goods containing 80 or 90 per cent, of wool, with -some silk ; and under the present verbiage it is possible, and probable, that even if there be only 1 per cent, of silk the goods may come under a duty of 20 and 15 per cent. The request I have moved is, from a protective stand-point, of vital importance, and is essential to give due and proper effect to paragraph a. I hope honorable- senators will see the fairness of the proposal, and acceptthe request as formal.
– The idea of the Vice-President of the Executive Council is to make the position absolutely certain in regard to what goods shall be included under paragraph a. Goods known as silk-mixed tweeds might, as the schedule now stands, be claimed by the importer to properly come under paragraph c ; and, as a matter of fact, such claims have arisen, whereas, properly speaking, the goods, being woollen tweeds of good quality, and the very stuff on which we desire to impose a duty of 25 per cent., should come under paragraph a. The effect of the amendment will be, as I say. to make the position absolutely clear : indeed, I point out to Senator Clemons that in the Customs Act it is provided that the Minister, where an article is capable of a double interpretation, may place it in the item which carries the higher rate.
– I have no doubt that Senator Best desires to clear up an ambiguity, but I have an honest doubt as to whether he is doing so by the request- he proposes. We have been debating all day practically the position arising from the conjunction of paragraphs b and c, and we have said that possibly certain . goods containing a very small quantity of silk may come in, and under the existing Tariff be dutiable at the higher rate. We have indicated a general desire to remove the possibility of blunder and simplify the Tariff. Material might be imported consisting of 99 per cent, of wool and 1 per cent, of silk, and it would be absurd in such circumstances to impose a different rate. We have all agreed that in such cases the duty shall be the- same. But suppose that there is a fabric containing 99 per cent, of silk and 1 per cent, of wool, or 90 per cent, of silk and 10 per cent, of wool. What does Senator Best say ? He says that although we are going to reduce the duty on silk goods that fabric is to be dutiable as if it were made entirely of wool.
– Oh, no. The duty would be decided by the weight of the material per square yard.
– I assure the honorable senator, that that is the true position, and Senator Best will admit that it is. I am afraid that we are getting out of one difficulty only to find ourselves in another.
– We want to protect the operation of paragraph a, which we have passed.
– What the honorable senator is now saying is that if any . piece goods contain 1 per cent, of wool and 99 per cent, of silk they will be admitted not as silk goods but as woollen goods.
– The honorable senator need not trouble himself. He may rely upon it . that there will be no 1 per cent, of wool in goods of that kind.
– I’ am not speak- ‘ ing with the expert knowledge which, perhaps, Senator Best may possess. We have decided that it is not fair or reasonable to tax at the rate of _silk any goods which are to all intents and purposes woollens, but contain 1 per cent, of silk. The Minister is now asking us to turn round and sav that if goods contain 99 per cent, of silk and 1 per cent, of wool’ they shall be taxed at the rate of woollen goods.
– We never do get anything like that percentage in goods.
– Will the honorable senator venture to tell me that fabrics are not made which contain a large proportion of silk and a small proportion of wool ?
– Irish poplins contain one-half silk and one-half wool. They are worn very little” in Australia.
– I think that they are worn rather extensively. The honorable senator is coming round to my position. He tells us that there is a substance known as Irish poplin which contains 50 per cent, of silk and 50 per cent, of wool.
– It is really an insignificant item.
– It may be an insignificant item now, but. fashions change. Senator Best is asking the Committee to agree that Irish poplin shall come in not at the lower rate under paragraph c, but at the higher, rate under . paragraph a.
– As a matter of fact it will come in as dress material.
– What would the honorable senator do?
– I would leave the thing alone. In my opinion the proposal of Senator Best will produce riot simplicity, but chaos. It is a protectionist dodge.
– I hope that the request of Senator Best will be agreed to. I opposed the request which was moved in regard to paragraph b, because I did not think it was necessary. We should be very careful to remove the possibility of any misunderstanding arising between the Customs offi- cers and the importers.’ Under paragraph c piece goods of silk, or containing silk or having silk work thereon, are to be admitted at one-half of the rate which is charged on piece goods of wool or containing wool n.e.i. in paragraph a. In order to defeat the object of paragraph a all that a’ manufacturer in England or elsewhere would need to do would be to see. that his woollen piece goods contained some silk, or had silk worked thereon, when they would come in St the lower duty provided in paragraph c: Senator Best wants to make it absolutely clear that if they are; really woollen piece goods weighing over 5 ounces per square yard, then, even although they do contain a thread or two of silk, or have a little silk worked thereon, they shall not be admitted under the lower duty provided in paragraph c.
– There are no piece goods containing 99 per cent, of silk and 1 per cent, of wool, or even 70 per cent, of silk and 30 per cent, of wool.
– It does not mat:ter what the percentage is. The object of the request is to bring under paragraph a woollen piece goods, even if they have a little silk worked thereon or contain a thread or two of silk here and there.
– According to Senator Best’s statement the “ little silk worked thereon “ may be 70 per cent.
– In that case if they are woollen piece goods they should pay the duty imposed in paragraph a. Senator Clemons. - Although they contain 70 per cent, of silk?
– There are very few such1 cases.
– If the request be agreed to it will be made quite clear to the importer or manufacturer that the higher duty, imposed in paragraph a cannot be evaded by putting a thread or- two of silk in the goods or working silk thereon.
– The great variety of tweeds and woollens which are imported with a small .percentage of silk in them have as a rule an infinitely larger percentage of wool.
– 90 per cent, of wool and 10 per cent, of silk.
– They contain much more than 90 per cent, of wool. Irish poplin will probably be introduced and admitted as silk; but it is really immaterial whether it pays 10 or 25 per cent. I would sooner see it pay 25 per cent., though as a matter of fact it will scarcely be imported. What is desired is to prevent the possibility of confusion as to the duty chargeable on a piece of tweed which is to all intents and purposes a piece of woollen material, because it contains probably 98 per cent, of wool and not 2 per cent, of silk, the latter being used merely to produce a design.
– No one quarrels with that.
– That is the object of the request.
– It goes far beyond that.
– In the past some importers have claimed that such material should be admitted at the duty charged on silk goods. This request if adopted will make the position quite clear and will not be productive of that confusion which the honorable senator anticipates.
Request agreed to.
– Before Senator Mulcahy submits a request to fix the duty in the general Tariff in respect of paragraph c at 15 per cent. I want honorable senators to consider a request for a duty of 5 per cent., because to all intents and purposes this is a revenue item.
– Why not wipe out the duty altogether? “ .
– Well, to begin with, I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make item 123, paragraph c, free.
This is clearly a revenue duty, and as a very considerable number of honorable senators are pledged not to a revenue Tariff but to a protectionist Tariff, I hope that they will vote to make the item free.
– I venture to say that if Senator Stewart had. listened during the morning to the arguments which raged round the paragraphs embraced in this item, and understood the general compromise or agreement which was arrived at as to what ought to be done, he would not have moved this request. Everybody agreed that in order to remove an inordinate amount of friction in the Customs House and to prevent an enormous number of contradictory decisions it was absolutely necessary to levy the same duties on the articles embraced in paragraphs b, c and d.
– They did not agree that it was necessary to impose these high duties.
– Why include paragraph b?
– These paragraphs apply to very nearly the same classes of material, and a desire was expressed by some honorable senators to group them together in order to prevent confusion and contradictory decisions at ‘ the Customs House. For instance, a shirt containing i per cent, of .silk has been classed as silk goods. Articles containing wool have been treated differently from articles containing linen or cotton. There has been nothing but constant friction at the Customs House. An army of officials has been required to make adjustments. A volume of departmental decisions with regard to these articles has been published, and many of the decisions are wholly contradictory.
– Make the articles free, and then there will be no confusion.
– I should be quite willing to make the items embraced in the three paragraphs free, but that question was threshed out very fully this morning. I suggested that the three paragraphs should be grouped together, and when I cannot get all I want I intend to stand by the honorable agreement which was arrived at this morning. I intend to adhere to the compromise and to vote for the request which Senator Mulcahy intends, to move to fix the duty at 15 per cent., and for. a similar request in- regard to paragraph d.
– This is the first time I have heard of any compromise having been arrived at in connexion with these items. If an arrangement was come to I was no party to it, and what is more I am not going to be bound by it. I came here as a protectionist, not as a revenue tariffist. Senator Givens, in his strong desire that the three paragraphs should be grouped together and subjected to a duty of 15 per cent., cannot contend that this is anything more than a revenue duty.
– If I cannot get all I want I will take all i can get.
– Even if that is the case the honorable senator should not be a. party to any immoral arrangement of this kind. To my mind it is immoral to the last degree. There has, apparently, been a proposal to group paragraphs b, c, and d together.
– It ought to be done.
– No one pretends that the duties imposed under paragraph b are protectionist duties. They ought to be, but they are not; and if we impose duties of 15 and 10 per cent, on silk and on velvets and velveteens, and such . goods, they must be regarded as purely revenue duties, because no one anticipates that within any period which we need contemplate these goods will be manufactured in Australia. I ask Senator Givens to stick to his guns, and not to abandon his position as a protectionist, and an opponent ot revenue duties.
– Would the honorable senator forego the revenue derived from tobacco ?
– No. a
– Then the honorable senator approves of a revenue Tariff in regard to some items?
– I am a revenue tariffist to the extent that I would maintain the duties on spirits and tobacco.
– Because they are revenue duties?
– No; it is only a question of time when I should be prepared to abolish duties on tobacco. We are not dealing with tobacco now, but with silk goods, which we do not produce in Australia.
– But which we ought to produce here.
– That is so, and if we were making an effort to encourage their production no one would be more ready than I to impose a duty on these goods. The duties here proposed are distinctly revenue duties, and a number of honorable senators who are supporting them are pledged to direct taxation as opposed to indirect taxation, and believe that the raising of revenue through the Customs is iniquitous.
– That is what the honorable senator has been doing himself.
– No, every vote I ha%’e given so far has been a protectionist vote.
– What about the duties on tea and rice?
– The honorable senator went back on the tea duty.
– I am not going back on silk. I am astonished that honorable senators who are members of the Labour Party should be found voting for purely revenue duties. I consider that they are doing something very wrong, but that is a matter which they must decide for themselves. So far as I am personally concerned, I shall not vote for a single revenue duty.
– - I wish to remind the Committee that this morning honorable senators rejected a request submitted by the Vice-President or the Executive Council, which had for its object the removal of difficulties arising in the Customs Department in connexion with the importation of these different materials. But they did so on the understanding that later on reductions would be made in the duties imposed. Since that we have decided that the duties on dress materials shall remain, and if we agree now to any alteration, except ‘ that mentioned and agreed to this morning, we shall be, to some extent, breaking faith with the Minister.
– It would thwart the whole object in view.
– It would. There was a general understanding that the articles included in paragraphs b, c and d should be dutiable at the same rate, and paragraph b was passed on that understanding.
Request (by Senator Stewart) negatived -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 123, paragraph c (imports under General Tariff), adval., 5 per cent.
Requests (by Senator Mulcahy) agreed to-
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 123, paragraph C (imports under General Tariff), adval., 15 per cent.
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 123, paragraph C (imports from the United Kingdom), ad val., 10 per cent.
Request (by Senator Best) agreed to -
That, the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 123, paragraph d, by leaving out the comma after the word “ Galoons.”
– Perhaps the Vice-President of the Executive Council will tell the Committee the value of the importations for 1906 under paragraph d of item 123?
– The importations during thatyear were valued at , £576,000.
– Then if the duty of 20 per cent, is operative it means that we should get in revenue from this item £100,000. If the duty were reduced to 15 per cent, we should get a revenue of £75,000. No one can pretend that these duties are protectionist duties in their effect or in their incidence. They are purely revenue duties. I am therefore opposed to them, and I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make item 123, paragraph d, free.
– Just in order to satisfy my friend and temporary ally, Senator Stewart, may I inform the honorable senator that I should . be doing what I wished to do if I voted with him to make this item free. But the honorable senator must see that I should at the same time be doing a serious injustice to the people who require to purchase the goods covered by the two preceding paragraphs -of item 123. I have tried, as Senator Stewart knows, to induce the Committee to request the House of Representatives to make the duty on all these goods 10 per cent.
– Surely the honorable senator is aware that we have already agreed that the duty’ on all the goods included in these paragraphs must be- the same whatever it is. He must know also that we are in a most hopeless minority, and that a duty of 15 per cent, is the lowest duty the Committee will agree to impose on these goods.
– That means in this case the raising of . £75,000 of revenue.
– If I cannot persuade the honorable senator as to the merits of consistency I can at least, if he insists upon a division, vote with him on this occasion.
– I wish to have a division so that we may see where the revenue tariffists are.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 20
Question so resolved in the negative.
Request (by Senator Mulcahy) agreed to-
That the House of Representatives be re- quested to make the duty on item 123, paragraph D (imports under General Tariff), ad val., 15 per cent. ; (imports from the United Kingdom), ad val., 10 per cent.
Request (by Senator Stewart) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make item 123, paragraph E, free.
– I am sorry, for two reasons, that Senator Stewart should have submitted this request. I think that the majority of the Committee is in favour of granting a preference to Great Britain, which supplies us with the greater portion of our imports of cotton, linen, and similar piece goods. I must also express my regret that another place thought fit to remove the duty that was formerly attached to this paragraph, because the goods are really a legitimate subject for taxation.
– What ! The necessary clothing of our poor people?
– This is, as far as my experience goes, one of the lines in the Tariff that affect all grades of society.
– It affects the poor man principally.
– That is the statement of a man who never sold a yard of cotton goods in his life. If the honorable senator would consult the experience of a man who is selling every day, he would hold a different opinion.
– The man who Buys is he whose experience we should consult.
– We shall have to bow down to the yard-stick presently !
– I seem to be unfortunate in arousing contentious feelings on the part of my honorable friends opposite. The former duty on goods of this class produced a revenue of , £180,000 per annum.
– That is the very reason why I am moving that the goods be free.
– We have sacrificed the greater part of that revenue. A duty of 5 per cent, is a legitimate impost on foreign goods. It may be thought that there is not a tendency for foreign countries to send us cotton goods, but that is not correct. My experience in the warehouses for the last few years shows me that there has been a gradually increasing quantity of American and Continental cotton goods finding their way into this country. Often, singularly enough, they come to us through British markets. We can see from the returns what a vast quantity of foreign-made stuff comes through British markets to Australia. As a matter of fact, certain lines of so-called Manchester goods which are imported are ‘made in Holland and America.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 15
Question so resolved in the negative.
Request negatived. .
.- I believe that denims are imported under item 123, paragraph e. I am informed that if they are plain blue they come in at 5 per cent, or free according to whether they are of foreign or British make, but that if they have a stripe or check, as is the base frequently with denims used for children’s clothing, they are dutiable at 30 . per cent, as if they were cloth. I think it is desirable to treat all denims alike.
– I am informed that all denims from the United Kingdom are free.
Request (by Senator Needham) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 123, paragraph. E (imports from the United Kingdom), ad val., 5 per cent.
– This is a most astonishing proposition to come from an honorable senator who professes to believe in direct asopposed to indirect taxation. If Senator Needham’s request be carried, the - result will be to largely increase the revenue from the goods enumerated in paragraph e. For that reason I shall vote against it.
– This is not the first time that Senator Needham has moved such a request. I should like to express in the clearest possible way what I think of it. His motion represents the attitude of a man who, from my point of view, deliberately wants to impose an . additional burden on the Australian consumer, because he, the -mover, has a hatred for England.
– That is not a fact; it is an erroneous statement of the case.
– I do not know what else it can mean. If that is not the case, I will put the meaning in other words. His motion represents the deliberate intention of Senator Needham to impose an additional burden on the Australian consumer.
– I have already stated my reasons against preference, and the honorable senator knows what they are.
– The motion, I say again, represents an attempt ‘ to impose an additional burden on the Australian consumer. If it does not represent Senator Needham’s hatred to England, it certainly represents a deliberate attempt to do nothing to help England.
– England does not want our help.
– But I will tell the honorable senator who does want our help, and that is the Australian consumer. The honorable senator is perfectly willing to sacrifice the Australian consumer, because, as he says, England does not want our help. Whether England wants our help or not the Australian consumer does, and I have not the slightest sympathy with this sort of proposal. I think it ought to be made clear what it means.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 123, paragraphF, by leaving out the words “ one or.”
The object of this request is to take out of the item such articles as pocketings and linings and put them into paragraph e. It is desirable to make this amendment for departmental reasons.
– I hope the Committee will not agree to the request moved by the Vice-President of the Executive Council. The paragraph, to put it shortly, relates to flannelettes and nothing else.
– The words “ one or “ do not. The paragraph will relate to flannelettes after we have excluded those words.-
– It does not matter whether the. material has one teased surface or . two ; it is still flannelette, which is a purely fraudulent article of manufacture. It is manufactured to represent or imitate or take the place of wholesome flannel, and is absolutely murderous in its effect.
– The exclusion of these words does not affect flannelette, which is another thing altogether.
– The honorable senator says that the material to which his request relates is wanted for linings, pocketings and such purposes. Those who import it can have it without a teased surface if they want it for such purposes. . But if this request were carried it would open the door to allowing flannelette, which has a teased surface on only one side, to come in easily. It lias been stated that this material ought to be allowed to come in because only poorer people use it.I have the utmost sympathy for the poor people who are compelled to use fraudulent articles of this kind, and think that some- . thing should be done to deter their wholesale importation.
– Flannelette is not really fraudulent.
– The name flannelette is in itself fraudulent.
– Every one knows that flannelette is cotton.
– It is absolutely murderous in its effects on the health of those who wear it.
– It is better . than cotton.
– It cannot be since it is nothing but cotton. It is almost as inflammable as is gunpowder, and is very dangerous for children’s wear since if it takes fire it is almost impossible to put out the flame. Doctors also admit that it is absolutely essential that people residing’ in a climate such as ours should wear woollen garments next to the skin. During the hot weather one perspires freely, and flannel is necessary to absorb the perspiration. Those who wear flannelette next to the skin are exposed to any change of the weather and are liable to catch a chill.
– The position is that if flannelette is not obtainable many people will have to . wear next the skin garments made of calico, which is worse.
– It is not. Many people labour under the misapprehension that flannelette is almost as good as flannel.
– Not now.
– Why should we distinguish between cotton piece goods teased on one side and those, teased on both? Either form of flannelette is equally objectionable. We should, at all events, make it clear that any imitation of flannel, whether teased on one side or both sides, is dutiable at the same rate of duty.
– I think that Senator Givens is under a misapprehension. It is not intended to exclude flannelette from this item. There are considerable importations of articles such as pocketings and linings having a raised surface on one side, and there has always been considerable trouble in dealing with them. The proposal is to remove such good’s from paragraph f, under which they are liable to duties of 10 per cent, and 5 per cent., and to bring them under paragraph e, under which imports coming from the United Kingdom are free, whilst those coming from foreign countries are dutiable at 5 per cent. The alteration is proposed, for departmental reasons and also to facilitate trade operations.
.- Senator Best has made a statement that is absolutely correct. I would point out, however, that if the duties on flannelette are to remain at 10 per cent, and 5 per cent. the adoption of this request will mean that au infinite variety of cotton and linen goods will come in absolutely free, whilst one small line, flannelette, will be dutiable at 5 per cent, and 10 per cent -I wish flannelette to be dutiable at 5 per cent, in the case of imports from foreign countries and to be free when imported from the United Kingdom. I also desire to disabuse Senator Givens’ mind with regard to the dangers arising from the use of flannelette and the suggestion that people are taken in or deceived by it. As a matter of fact it is one of the most useful of cotton fabrics, more particularly in the poor’man’s family. It has been demonstrated by actual experiments that it is not more Inflammable than ordinary dry cotton goods which have not a. raised surface. If we place paragraph f on the same, plane as paragraph e we shall remove an anomaly which I think ought not to exist, and any diminution of revenue that may result will benefit the poorer class of the community in a more marked degree than has any other reduction we have yet requested.
– I hope that the Committee will agree to a request that paragraphs e and f be combined, and the one rate of duty applied to them. Such an amendment would certainly simplify the procedure for the . Customs officials.
– Perhaps the Vice-President of the Executive Council will accept the suggestion just made.
– In 1906 no less ‘than £203,000 worth of flannelette was imported from the United Kingdom, and £50,000 worth from Germany.
– Those figures include a great ‘ variety of other materials, which the honorable senator suggests should be removed1 from paragraph f.
– They . include some of them.
– They certainly include pocketings and shirtings.
Request (by Senator Mulcahy) agreed to -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 123, paragraph F (imparts under General Tariff), ad va!., 5 per cent. ; (imports from the United Kingdom), free.
– When we were dealing yesterday with paragraph a, the Committee agreed to a request which I . proposed that the words “ rubbered waterproof cloth of any material “ be left out. That being so, I anticipate that honorable senators will agree to the request which I then intimated my intention of moving after we had dealt with paragraph f. I therefore move -
That the House of Representatives be re- . quested to add the following new paragraph : - “C. Rubbered waterproof cloth -
Woollen or containing wool, ad’ val. (General Tariff), 35 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), 30- per cent.
Silk, or containing silk, but not containing wool, ad val. (General Tariff), 30 per cent.; (United Kingdom), 25 per cent.
N.E.I., ad val. (General Tariff), 20 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), 15 per tent.”
I do not think it is necessary to cover the ground which I’ traversed yesterday.
– We had a test vote yesterday.
– What, in a sentence, is the honorable senator’s object?
– Briefly stated, my object is to give effective protection to those engaged in Australia in the manufacture of rubberized goods.
– What increase does the honorable senator propose?
– In the case of rubbered waterproof cloth, woollen or containing wool, my request provides for duties of 35 per cent, and 30 per cent, as against 30 per cent, and 25 per cent., or an increase of 5 per centi. Then I propose that rubberized waterproof cloth, silk or containing silk, shall be dutiable at the rate . already appearing in the schedule ; and that the duties on rubberized cotton cloth shall be reduced by 10 per cent. For the information of honorable senators who were not present yesterday when I dealt with this question, I may briefly summarize what would be the position if this request were agreed to. The schedule provides for -duties of 30 per cent, and 25 per cent, on all waterproof goods in their raw state. If this request be agreed to, woollen materials before proofing will be dutiable at 30 per cent, and 25 per cent., but when proofed will be dutiable at 35 per cent, and 30 per cent. Silks before being proofed will be dutiable at 20 per cent, and 15 per cent., and when proofed they will be dutiable at 30 per cent, and 25 per cent. Cottons under paragraph e will be dutiable at 5 per cent, in the case of imports from foreign countries, and free when imported from the United Kingdom before proofing. But when proofed, they will be dutiable at 20 per cent, and 15 per cent., as against the existing duty of 30 per cent, and 25 per cent.
– What is the value of the imports of the several classes of rubberized goods ?
– I think that in the Customs statistics they are all classified under the one heading.
– Have we not granted a bounty on the production of cotton in Australia?
– Yes; but we nec-d not discuss that matter at this stage. The main point is that as we produce wool . in Australia, we should have the highest form of protection in respect of woollen waterproof cloth. I take it that as the Committee agreed yesterday to a request for the deletion of the words “ rubbered waterproof cloth of any material “ from paragraph a, they are practically in favour of the request that I now submit.
– Senator Findley is putting an extraordinary proposal to the Committee. I should like to ask him at what price rubberized material made in Australia would be sold to the local consumer if his request were agreed to? Would it be the price of the imported article plus the duty?
– I am concerned about giving protection to the industry.
– Is the honorable senator occasionally concerned about the price to the consumer?
– We cannot regulate, under the Tariff, the price to the consumer.
– I think that prices are largely affected by the duties we impose. The honorable senator proposes that a duty of 35 per cent, shall be imposed on certain rubberized goods, arid I say that that duty will be added to the price of the imported goods. I suppose that the honorable senator will agree with me on that point. Will he also agree with me that the duty will be added to the cost of the goods manufactured here? Does he think that the manufacturers will, so to speak, live up to the duty, or that they will npt do so? I shall take his answer either way. Let us assume that the honorable senator thinks that the manufacturers will live up to it. Is it desirable that they should take full advantage of the duty, and make the consumers pay accordingly, although no duty has been paid on the material they sell ? The only other answer he can give is that they will not live up to it. What is the value of that? Will .the manufacturer live up to the duty on the woollen goods which Senator Findley says constitute his raw material, and pay 25 per cent, on them? If he does live up to. that, what is the use of the protection? What is the position that Senator Findley has put before us in the clearest possible way ? When he argued in favour of duties of 30 and 25 per cent, upon woollen piece goods, he declared that their effect would be to check importations so that our own woollen mills would be able to supply the consumer with those goods at a cheaper rate. If that be so, the man who will rubberize woollen piece goods will get them cheaper than he would if no duty were operative. Why, then, does Senator Findley wish to impose duties of 35 and 30 per cent, upon rubberized woollen goods? He can only require such a duty if the local manufacturer of woollen piece goods lives up to the 30 and 25 per cent, protective duties which he . has been granted. Otherwise, ‘ where is the basis of Senator Findley’s demand for any increased duty upon rubberized goods?
– The honorable senator ought to have put these questions to the witnesses who appeared before the Tariff Commission.
– I did. I wish that Senator Findley had given evidence before that Commission upon this question of rubberized cloth. I ask him whether the individual who will rubberize the cloth will use Australian woollen piece goods or English woollen piece goods?
– Can the honorable senator nominate one concrete case which will fit his illustration?
– This is a concrete case, which admirably fits my illustration.
– How will it apply ?
– I am applying Senator Findley’s argument.
– The honorable senator stated that the local manufacturer would live up to the duty upon the imported article. Where does that take place?
– It takes place in respect of woollen piece goods and of every other item in the Tariff which bears a protective duty.
– And the local manufacturer. charges for his goods the same price as is charged for the imported article plus the duty ?
– When I say that the local manufacturer lives up to the full amount of the protective duty, I mean that he charges an infinitesimal amount less than that at which the imported article can be purchased. We had an apt illustration of that supplied to us the other day in. the case of matches. It was conclusively proved that certain match manufacturers in the Commonwealth lived up to the duty levied upon that article, less a small margin to enable them to sell their goods.
– If a small margin exists, it -is evident that the local manufacturers do not live right up to the full amount of the protective -duties imposed.
– As a rule, they live up to it within a very small fraction.
I want to know from Senator Findley what cloth is to be rubberized. Does he desire to levy duties’ of 35 and 30 per cent, upon these goods in order that imported woollen cloth may be rubberized in Australia?
– We have been doing that sort of thing right through the Tariff.
– Does the honorable senator seriously put forward his proposal in. order that imported cloth may be rubberized in Australia?
– I want to protect those who are engaged in this industry against those who are sending their finished goods into Australia.
– Why does the honorable senator desire to impose duties of 35 and 30 per cent, upon these goods instead of the duties that have been levied upon woollen piece goods ? It seems a pitythat there is not another rung to the ladder - in other words, that rubberized cloth is not the raw material for another manufactured article.
– It is. It is the raw material of the manufacturer of waterproof overcoats.
– Then we have not yet exhausted the possibilities of protection in this direction ?
– No. We shall extend to the manufacturer of waterproof overcoats a protection of 40 per cent, or 45 per cent.
– I can easilv see that upon this item we shall be able to climb to protectionist heights which will make the consumer positively dizzy.
– It will be recollected that item 123, paragraph
A, originally read -
Piece goods, namely : -
Woollen, or containing wool, n.e.i., and rubbered waterproof cloth of any material.
The proposal of the Government was that a rebate of three-fourths of the duty should be made in respect of the waterproof cloth which was purchased for. the purpose of being rubberized- But the House of Representatives struck out that proviso and agreed to the item in the form in which it appears in the . schedule. As it stands the item fails to recognise one particular industry - the rubbering industry. In this connexion honorable senators must recollect that there are three stages of manufacture, and they must also remember the attempt which has been made to extend protection to those engaged in each of them. In the first place, there is the woollen cloth which we attempt to protect by imposing a duty of 30 per cent, under the general Tariff and 25 per cent, under the Tariff for Great Britain. The second stage relates to the proofing of woollen cloth and the third stage to the manufacture of that cloth into apparel such as waterproof overcoats. Whilst we have protected the woollen industry so far as the manufacture of cloth is concerned, we have practically extended no protection to those engaged in the proofing of that cloth. That is the anomaly which Senator Findley seeks to remedy.
– What cloth?
– The cloth that is imported.
– Why do our manufacturers not use woollen cloth ‘that is locally made?
– No doubt they will. It has been found by experience, however, that the use of certain imported cloths is necessary in this industry, and if the Government had had their way a rebate would have been granted upon these. Senator Findley is now attempting to cure the anomaly that has been cre’ated by reason of the provision relating to the payment of the rebate having been eliminated. The item in its original form provided that all rub-, berized waterproof material should be dutiable at 30 per cent, under the general Tariff and at 25 per cent, under the Tariff for the United Kingdom. It further stipulated that rubbered cotton material when made into apparel should be dutiable at 35 per cent, under the general Tariff and 30 per cent, under the Tariff for Great Britain. As the bulk of our importations of waterproof material come from the United Kingdom, and as our manufacturers of rubberized goods will have to pay 30 per cent, upon their raw material, they practically have no protection.
– They would have a deal of protection if they were engaged, in rubberizing Australian cloth.
– That is so, but there are certain cloths which must be imported tor rubberizing purposes. Senator Gray ignores the conditions surrounding the industry. Senator Findley proposes that where rubber waterproof cloth consists of wool or contains wool it shall be dutiable at 35 per cent, under the general Tariff and 30 ner cent, under the Tariff- for Great Britain. In other words, he asks for a protection’ of 5 per cent. Where the rubber waterproof cloth is made, out of silk or contains silk, he desires it to be made dutiable at 30 per cent, under the general Tariff and 25 per cent, under the Tariff for Great Britain as at present. In regard to rubberized waterproof cloth made out of cotton, he proposes a substantial reduction to 20 per cent, under the general Tariff and 15 per cent, under the Tariff for the United Kingdom. In other words, where waterproof cloth is made out of wool or contains wool, he desires to extend to those engaged in the industry a protection of 5 per cent., where it is made out of silk or contains silk he wishes to give them a protection of 15 per cent., and where it is made out of cotton he also aims at giving them a protection of 15 per cent. As we are attempting in this particular item to protect the individuals engaged in the three stages of manufacture to which I have referred,I think . that his proposal is a reasonable one, and I hope that the Committee will agree to it.
– Senator Findley’s proposal really represents protection run mad. It is an effort to -introduce a special item into the Tariff for the benefit of one individual.
– I thought that the honorable senator was a protectionist.
– It is becauseI am a consistent protectionist that I shall vote against this proposal.
– I think that a certain newspaper dubbed the honorable senator rightly . when it said that upon the fiscal question he was “north bv south.”
– I do not care what any newspaper has dubbed me. When I was discussing the weight of certain woollen fabrics this afternoonI expressed a doubt whether they could be made in the Commonwealth. I was at once assailed by my extreme protectionist friends with the statement that those fabrics can be made locally. Now if there be one fabric more than another which can be produced in the Commonwealth it is the material that is required for waterproofing. What does Senator Findley wish to do? He desires to provide indirectly for the admission of an outside article, which, upon other occasions, he seeks to exclude. If we require good waterproof coats we can get them manufactured in the Commonwealth of Australian material. If effect is given to the honorable senator’s proposal, the result will be, not the encouragement of Australian manufacture, but an increase of importation, while the extra protection conferred by the new paragraph will be hardly worthy of the consideration of those who are to receive it. There are a number of materials which could be made locally which are suitable for rubberizing. I move -
That the request be amended by leaving out the figures “35,” paragraph1, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the figures “ 30.”
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 8
Question so resolved in the negative.
– It seems to me that the Committee does not quite understand what it is doing. It is now proposed to make the duty on certain kinds of silk 30 and 25 per cent., although we have fixed the rate on ordinary silk piece goods at 15 and 10 per cent. Why should we make this distinction? I move -
That the request be amended by leaving out the figures “30,” paragraph 2, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the figures “ 15.”
– If the’ amendment be carried, the proofing industry will receive no protection.
Request agreed to.
Postponed item 106. Apparel and Attire - Woollen or Silk, or containing Wool or Silk - partly or wholly made up; including articles cut in to shape, ad val. (General Tariff), 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.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 106 by inserting after the word “ Silk,” second occurring, the letters n.e.i.”
– What will be the effect of the insertion of the letters n.e.i. ? What new goods will it bring under the item?
– The insertion of the letters n.e.i. is proposed because other apparel and attire which may be of silk is specifically mentioned in item 132. The socks and stockings there referred to may contain silk.
– Will this item include articles made of anything except wool or- silk, or wool and silk? Does it include apparel made, for instance, of wool, silk, and cotton?
– The whole question of apparel is in that case raised by this item. With regard to apparel making in Melbourne, evidence was given before the Tariff Commission by Mr. Barnett, one of the largest manufacturers in Melbourne, that a suit of clothes made by him cost in wages, plus his own profit, 5s. 6d. That manufacturer was a little reticent when I and other members of the Commission asked him how much of that 5s. 6d. went in wages, and how much for his profit.
– What kind of clothes ?
– We are now entering upon the consideration . of slops, because this item covers the whole ground. I suppose that votes with regard to protection on this item will be guided to some extent by the proportion of the wages to the total cost of the article. If not, protection is getting into a worse condition than it was ever in. If it is to be lavishly handed out without regard to the wages paid, it is hopeless for us to oppose anything. I hope that the question of wages will have an effect upon honorable senators when voting high protection. The manufacturer told us that the material in that suit of clothes was bought by him for 9s. from a firm in Flinders-lane. The distributors in that locality make vastly more out of protection than they ever did out of free-trade. They nowwant, not free-trade, but the profit they make out of ‘distributing articles made in . Melbourne.
– They provide the sinews of war for free-traders against protectionists in Victoria.
– This question ought to interest Senator Findley quite apart from the question of sinews of war. The manufacturer paid 9s. to the Flinderslane warehouse for the whole of the material put into the .suit of clothes, which, when it was made, went back to the warehouse.
– Was it Australian or imported material?
– The manufacturer would not te.ll me. I will obtain the book containing the evidence presently, and quote it. There was an . additional item of 3s., which covered all the cost of trimmings, buttons, &c. The total cost of the suit, including the profit of the manufacturerthe man whom this item proposes to protect-was 17s. 6d. It would have been very interesting, if I could have obtained it in the sworn evidence, to know what the consumer paid for that suit. The manufacturer absolutely refused to tell me. I ascertained in other directions that I might on the average assume that such suits were sold in Melbourne to the consumer at 30s..
– Did the manufacturer get his profit, not only out of the 5s. 6d., but out of the cost of the cloth ?
– Not out of the cost of the cloth. He manufactures for Flinders-lane, and buys the material from there. He sold the suit, finished and complete, back to Flinders-lane for 17s. 6d. He swore definitely that when he got the 17s. 66. he was paid his profit, his employes were paid their wages - he was working under the Factories Act - .and the material, and trimmings were also paid for.
– Did the ‘Flinderslane manufacturer pay his rent?
– That was not stated. In view of the fact that 17s. 6d. paid all the cost of the material, all the wages, and all the manufacturer’s profit, to what extent shall we be looking after the interests of the consumer in giving the big protection now proposed? If the consumer pays 30s. for that suit of clothes, he is being fleeced.
– It appears to be a cheap suit.
– It may be; but where does the 12s. 6d. go to?
– Is not the consumer foolish to pay 30s. when he could get a suit made in Bourke-street to order for 27s. 6d. ?
– He would be foolish if he could do so, but I doubt it.
– It is a positive fact.
– What sort of material are those suits made of, and is it manufactured here?
– I could show the honorable senator suits to order at 28s. 6d. in three shops within ten minutes’ walk of where we are sitting.
– I accept Senator Russell’s statement. I expect the suit he refers to was made by the very man who made the one I have been discussing. These manufacturers ask for protection because, I suppose, they do not make sufficient profit. My main contention is that the consumer is being fleeced because of the enormous profit made in the process of distribution.
– By Flinders-Jane.
– Would the consumer not be equally fleeced’ if these goods were imported ?
– I think that Senator. Clemons is giving us a very strong protectionist argument.
– At any rate, there stands out the fact of the small proportion of wages paid in the making of a suit which I shall take as sold at 27s. 6d.
– The employes are paid statutory wages.
– Quite so; but what is the cost of labour in proportion to the retail price of the article? I do not suppose that the manufacturer makes less than a profit of is. on the cost of the labour, and that leaves only 4s. 6d. paid in wages. If the cost’ of the distribution of imported goods were twice as much, is it any credit to Australia that the cost of distributing a suit of clothes from one part of Melbourne to another should be represented by the difference between 17s. 6d. and 27s. 6d. ?
– That might be an argument for nationalization, or some better organization for distribution.
– At any rate, it is not an argument for compelling the consumer to pay the increased price.
– The honorable senator is taking the lowest possible cost of manufacture.
– I am taking the typical instance given by the manufacturer.
– ls that the average or the maximum cost?
– It was a typical instance; and, if I remember rightly, the question was as to an ordinary suit of clothes.
– The honorable senator’s argument is not against protection, but against the middleman, whom it is desired to eliminate, whether under free-trade or protection.
– I am glad that Senator Findley sees the point ; but what is- my reply ? More protection is demanded because the manufacturer cannot control the middleman. Is that a fair reason for asking the consumer -to suffer ? Does Senator Findley propose to say to the consumer, “ The cost of distribution is so enormous that we desire you to pay a higher duty ?” Is that a reason for demanding a higher duty?
– Most assuredly.’
– If that is what protection is based on, the sooner we get rid of protection the better.
– That has been the idea of the honorable senator all along, no matter on what protection is based.
– And I shall not be alone in the idea, if it is recognised that the consumer must stand the burden of more than 50 per cent, as the cost of distributing a suit of clothes in Melbourne alone.
– -If the clothes were imported, the consumer might have to pay more, seeing that the combination would lie there all the same.
– He might, or he might not; but in this particular case we naive absolute proof of the cost of distributing, the local article. If any honorable senator will show proof in regard to the cost of the distribution of the imported slop article, I shall be glad to listen, and if the cost is as high, I shall be glad to condemn it; but the proof will furnish no argument either for a higher duty or for the abolition of a duty.
– What proof is there that the suit was retailed at 27 s. 6d. or 30s. ? Is it an imaginary case ?
– I ha.xe already told honorable senators that the manufac turer was pressed a dozen times on this point, and that he was afraid to say what the consumer had to pay.
– Why did the Commission not summon the man who bought the suit?
– In crossexamination I asked the witness to tell me where in Melbourne I could buy a suit of clothes turned out of his factory, and he refused to say. I asked him whether he would not tell me what the consumer paid for the clothes, or how to find out the fact for myself. I pointed out to him that I was not attacking the rate of wages he paid, but simply desired to ascertain where the leakage, if there was a leakage, occurred, and his reply continually was, “ It is not my concern.” The .witness said, “ I do not care what the consumer has to pay ; that is his look-out; when I get my 17s. 6d. I am finished.”
– Hear, hear.
– But I say that this witness ought to have helped me to find out the facts as to the cost.
– Is it the concern of the free-trader what the consumer has to pay?
– The difference as between 17s. 6d. and 27s. 6d. is not out of the way, seeing that hats manufactured at 5s. 6d. are sold at 10s. 6d.
– What I say seems to have no effect on protectionist members.
– Except to make them more’ protectionist.
– But they have to admit that they are demanding protection, not because the wages in the industry demand protection, but-
– Is 4s. 6d. too much for making a suit?
– I say that it is too little in the case of a suit which is sold for 27s. 6d. Who gets the profit in this protected industry? Not the men who work in a .more or less sweater’s den - though I hope this is not a sweater’s den. Into whose pocket do the protectionist senators desire to put the profit ? Not into the pockets of , the men, women, and children employed in the industry. In my opinion more should go to the workers, and less to the distributors. The demand for more protection is ostensibly in order to secure that fair wages shall be paid. The real reason, when boiled down, is that more protection enables the distributors of Melbourne, who are practically represented by
Flinders-lane and the retail shops, to get more than 10s. profit on a suit made at 17s. 6d. ,
– But we have been told that the suit for 27s. 6d. is made to order.
– I welcome the assistance of Senator Guthrie. I gave this matter the closest attention in order tofind out the final cost of the suit made at 17 s. 6d.
– But there is no proof of . the final cost.
– If Senator Guthrie can give us any information I shall be delighted ; and I am prepared to accept the statement of Senator E. J. Russell that I put the cost of the suit 2s. 6d. too high.
– I did say so; I said’ that a suit could be made to order for 27s. 6d.
– Then I invite the honorable senator to give the Senate the information which I desire, namely, the price which the consumer has to pay for a suit which is manufactured at 17s. 6d.
– I should like to know whether that is the minimum cost of production.
– I shall give to the honorable senator, either now or, privately, the evidence of the witness to whom I refer. To the best of my belief it was an ordinary suit of clothes - I believe the word “ ordinary “ was used. Under the circumstances I think, that this is an iniquitous duty, and serves no purpose that ought to appeal to the heart of a protectionist. The duty merely adds largely to the profits of either the man in Flinderslane, or the man in the retail shop.
.- I have listened with interest to the remarks of Senator Clemons. - If, as he says, the consumer is mulcted in order to provide those large profits, I should recommend consumers to form a small company of their own - andI should be willing to take a few shares to encourage them - and manufacture their own clothes, thus obtaining them at prime cost.
– I have hitherto taken no active part in the discussion, but, as I have been dragged into it, I should like to say a word or two. Senator Clemons desires to assume a position which is altogether incorrect. I deplore the fact, but it is quite true that a suit to order may be obtained for 27 s. 6d. ; and I remind Senator Clemons that the very middlemen, whom he denounces, have an importing monopoly right throughout Australia, while they also control the manufacturing industry. If Flinders-lane is able to thus squeeze the manufacturers, what would it not be able to do in the event of the closing of the local factories? I venture to say that now Flinders-lane controls nineteen-twentieths of the clothing manufactures of Melbourne. If it is able to do such terrible things under protection, God help Australia if free-trade ever again places our manufacturers, and consumers at its mercy.
Request agreed to.
.- I suggest that what was done with item 123, paragraphs b, c, and d should also be done with items 106 and 107, and for exactly the same reasons. It ‘is almost impossible to discuss any one of these items without discussing the others. Take, for instance, item 106, “Apparel and Attire,” on which the duty is 40 and 35 percent., and item 107, “ Apparel and Attire n.e.i.,” on which the duty is 35 and 30 per cent. Suppose that a shirt made of cotton or linen or wool, or a combination of those materials, were imported. There would be a lot of . bother if the buttonholes had been worked with silk, as they are very often. Again, in the case of a coat or vest, the use of a mere thread of silk to create a pattern, or. a stripe, or the use of silktwist or ordinary silk thread in working a buttonhole would bring the article under a different item. We should have intense friction and innumerable and contradictory decisions at the Customs House. Importers . would be ato their wits’ end to know the classification under which an article should be brought in. They would be continually striving to pass articles at the lower rate of duty, while, of course, the Department would be always trying to charge the higher rates. The only difference between’ item 106 and item 107 is a paltry 5 per cent.
– Does the honorable senator want to get the duties reduced?
– No.; to raise them. At the same time, I am prepared to reduce the duty on item ro6 by 5 per cent., if that is the. only way in which friction and trouble such as I have described can be avoided.
– If item 107 is subjected to the same rate of duty as item 106, I am prepared to agree to the suggestion.
– We on this side will agree to the lower duty being levied on item 1 06.
– Honorable senators on the other side nave made continual references to the friction at the Customs House, and the harassing and contradictory decisions which have been given by the Minister.
– I ask the honorable senator not to enter into a discussion on the administration of the Department.
– I was instancing that fact as a reason why items 106 and 107 should be subjected to the same rate of duty. It is very desirable to do away with unnecessary friction, and to simplify the Tariff.
– The first thing is to carry item 106 as it stands.
– I am prepared to carry item 166 as it stands, and to support a request ibr a higher duty on the succeeding item.
– For what . purpose - to give 4s. or 4s. 6d. to a man for making a suit of clothes?
– The honorable senator has made a most instructive speech with regard to the methods and practices of large distributing firms. If we had free-trade to-morrow they would still fleece the public as much for the imported article, and even more if they possibly could for the locally made article.
– The point is, what proportion do the wages bear to the manufacturing cost?
– My idea always has been to make the conditions such that a man could afford to pay good wages. But if the “honorable senator had his way he would allow the sweater ‘ at the other end of the world ‘to pay what he pleased.”
– I intend to vote for the duty on item 106 as it stands, and I hope that the duty on the succeeding item will be levelled up, so that there shall be no injurious distinction or friction or bother when the Tariff comes to be administered.
– I am entirely with Senator Givens in his desire to bring- these two items together, but when I come to think of the ingenuity which marked the means by which it is suggested that should be done, “I am bound to part company with him. He asks us to accept his proposal because of the advantages which would accrue from the amalgamation of the two items, but he wants us to agree to his terms. If he had proposed to meet us half way there would have been something in his proposal. A more illogical and selfish proposal I have not heard. That he should secure the advantages at the sacrifice of our principles is something to which I am not prepared to consent. If, in his opinion, 5 per cent, is paltry, surely he can agree to waive it.
– It is paltry as compared with 40 per cent.
– If, in his opinion, it is paltry, surely the honorable senator can concede this paltry 5 per cent, in order to get advantages which he admits are material. From my point of view, however, 5 per cent, is not paltry.
– The honorable senator would reduce the protection on woollens to 5 per cent.
– Take item 107, on which the honorable senator asks us to raise the duty in the general Tariff from 35 to 40. per cent. At the present time the raw material, which would come into competition with item 107 - apparel and attire n.e.i. - is admitted free, and the duty on that item is 35 and 30 per cent. That is the measure of protection which the makers of articles which would come into competition with item 107 are getting. Yet Senator Givens is not satisfied. He wants to increase that protection by 5 per cent., arid so fix the duty at 40 and 35 per cent.
– Yes, but the honorable senator takes the first item.
– It is rather a novel experience for the Committee to see the Minister pointing out the anomalies in his own1 Tariff. He is drawing attention to the fact that those who make up woollen goods, are getting only 10 per cent, protection - the difference between the duty on the piece goods and the duty on the madeup article, but that in the case of cotton goods they are getting a difference of 35 and 30 per cent.
– The man who makesup woollen goods can use Australian woollens, but the man who is making up cotton goods cannot use Australian cottons.
– I should say that if any one wanted to help local industries hewould give the largest measure of protection to the man who was using Australiancommodities. But the honorable senator asks us to give the largest measure of protection, the biggest inducement, to the man who will use cotton goods made outside Australia.
– I want to give’ them the same amount of protection.
– The honorable senator cannot do that, because the measure of protection which he gives to the makers of apparel is not the duty which is represented here, but the difference between that duty and the duty charged on piece goods.
– They can use Australianmade goods.
– They can use Australian tweeds, which have not paid duty.
– Now we are told that Australian tweed, because it does not pay duty, is going to be lower in price than imported tweed. But I have understood, not once, but several times, that the manufacturers of piece goods told the Tariff Commission distinctly that the effect of an increased duty ‘would be higher prices to the manufacturers of apparel, because, whilst asking for a higher duty for themselves, they said that a higher duty must be imposed on the imported apparel. Why should they have done that if the makers of apparel were going to get cheaper locallymade woollens? It is time that we ceased to hear the contention that the imposition of a duty is going to lower the price of an article. No protectionist manufacturer ever ventured to tell the Tariff Commission that he would get cheaper raw material because of the imposition of a duty. When I was interrupted I was dealing with the wish of Senator Givens to make the duties on items 106 and 107 the same. He might equalize the figures, but he could not possibly make the measure of protection on those two items the same.
– Yes, it is possible.
– If the honorable senator thinks so he will have to reduce the duty on item 107 to 10 pen cent., because the measure of protection which we give to the manufacturers of woollen “apparel is the difference between the protection we have placed on woollen piece goods, which in this case is 30 and 25 per cent., and the duty on the imported apparel.
– Did not the free-trade members of the Tariff Commission recommend exactly the same duties on items 106 and 107 ?
– I do not know, nor do I care what they did.
– I am glad to know that the honorable senator repudiates them.
– I do not repudiate them. ‘1 could go even further and say that sometimes I do not understand them. But whatever difficulty I may have had in understanding and appreciating their work it is as nothing compared with the difficulty I have in getting even, a glimmer of light from the report of their protectionist confreres. I have endeavoured to show that whilst the manufacturer of woollen apparel is getting 10 per cent. - that is the difference between the duty on the piece goods and the duty on the imported apparel - the man who is making cotton apparel gets his raw material free and has a protection of 35 and 30 per cent, on imported articles made of cotton.
– But item 107 includes articles which are not allowed to come in free, such” as articles wholly or partly made up of mohair, which is not wool and which sometimes is very expensive clothing material.
– I do not know whether the honorable senator is thinking of a penitent hair shirt which he wants to wear, but I do not believe that any one else in Australia is going to rush round for a garment of that kind.
– It is quite a common dress material.
– In item 107 there may be hidden an odd article of that kind, but generally speaking, it includes goods made up from cotton or linen which come in free.
– They are sold cheaply enough in Melbourne to suit any one.
– The prices vary according to the shop one visits and the shark one meets.
– Is not that generally the case?
– We understand from Senator E. J. Russell that the Flinderslane people control both the manufacturers and the importing business. For a reason which I will give directly I was in a little doubt as to how I ought to vote, but after hearing his statement I shall not have the slightest hesitancy in voting’ for a reduction of the duties on item 106!
– That is in order to give them the whole control.
– According to Senator E. J. Russell, they now have the whole control.
– No; mostly the whole control.
– It is a marvellous thing that one can never nail a protectionist down to a statement. Senator E. J. Russell said that the Flinders-lane people have a monopoly, or, to use his own words,, nineteentwentieths of the clothing trade. .
– They have it plus the employment.
– Later on I may deal with that aspect of the matter. We have been told here on an authority which I am prepared to accept that nineteen-twentieths of the clothing trade of Victoria is controlled by or is absolutely in the hands of the Flinders-lane monopolists.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
– - In order that we may know exactly where we are, I intend to move a request in connexion with this item. I wish tq clear the ground in such a way that any one will be able easily to understand not only the demand for protection in Australia but the reason for it. It was assumed by some of us, apparently erroneously, that it was based upon a desire to compensate for the inequality in the conditions of labour in the Commonwealth arid in competing countries: or, to put it in another way, the demand is made because we decline to allow manufacturers and workmen in Australia to be handicapped in competition by the lower wages paid in competing countries.
– And bv the fact that older established factories obtain some advantage on that account.
– Very well, I will add that to the reasons for the demand. If we could bring the demand for protec-tion down to that point, I should ‘be pre pared to give it serious consideration. Before I move any request, let me briefly state the position.’ Before the adjournment for tea, I mentioned the cost of distribution of a particular article, and I didso in order to prove that the demand for protection, which from the manufacturer’s point of view must be based upon a desire to obtain a better price for his goods or a larger command of the market, was not in this case justified on the ground that he had to face an unreasonable cost of distribution. I think I proved that. I drop that for the present, and propose now to address myself to another phase of the question. It is clearly proved that the wages cost of manufacturing a suit of clothes of the total value of 17s. 6d. is 4s. 6d., and if I allow the manufacturer a profit of is., no one will quarrel with that.
– He probably allows himself more.
– The manufacturer to whom I referred would not say what his profit was, but I am assuming that he claims a profit of only is. on such a suit of clothes. If the wages cost of manufacturing a suit of clothes valued at 17s.- 6d. is 4s. 6d., that represents almost exactly 25 per cent. In order to discover just what the cry of protection in the Commonwealth is based upon, I am going to assume that the wages cost of making a similar suit of clothes in the competing country, England, is nothing at all. No one will venture to say that workmen in England get no wages ; but for the purpose of my argument, assuming that the demand for protection is due to a desire to compensate for inequality in rales of wages and conditions of labour, I say that I am prepared in this case to assume that in the competing country, England, for the manufacture of such a suit of clothes as I have referred to nothing is paid in wages.
– There is cheaper raw material.
– I leave that out of consideration. I wish to give the Australian workman the fullest possible advantage bv assuming that his wages for the manufacture of this suit of clothes amounts to 4s. 6d. - and may I remind the Committee that I am not dealing with a case of sweating, but with wages actually paid under the Victorian Factories Actand that the man in England who gets a similar suit of clothes made pays no wages at all. It is clear that what we have to make up to our - Australian workman is 4s. 6d. on 17s. 6d. If we give him a protection equivalent to that, we shall have entirely protected him against the lower cost of labour in the Old Country. That would be provided for by a duty of 25 per cent. Therefore, in order to test theviews of honorable senators, and to see what the cry for protection is really based’ upon, I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 106 (imports, under General Tariff), ad val., 25 per cent.
I hope the Committee will clearly understand why I make that request. If it is rejected, I shall have to recognise - as indeed must every one else - that, in addition to the demand for protection in order to cover the difference in the cost of labour, there is something else, and, if there is, T suppose it is a desire to increase the price of the goods and the profits which certain persons hope to make out of them.
– Is the man who gets 5s. 6d. to cover wages and profit the manufacturer of the apparel or a sub-contractor under him?
– If the honorable senator has been referring to Barnett, he is the manufacturer.
– That is so; no one else has anything to do with it.
– We understand that the honorable senator assumes that he gets is. profit, which leaves 12s. to be divided between the wholesale and. retail distributor.
– I tell Senator Dobson again that all I could get the man to admit was that 5s. 6d. covered the whole of the cost of wages and. his profit. I have ventured to assume, for the sake of argument, because he would not tell me what his profit was, that his profit is is.
– Then 12s. goes to the wholesale and retail distributor.
– That is so in the case of such a suit as I have referred to. I am sorry that I cannot speak with certainty as to the profit, but I can speak with absolute certainty as to the wages cost. It is impossible to deny the accuracy of my figures, or that a duty of 25 per cent, would more than cover the whole of the labour cost, because my calculation is based on the assumption that there would be no labour cost at all in England, the competing country.
– Is the honorable senator taking into account the- duties of 30 per cent, and 25 per cent, on woollen piece goods ?
– No, I have not taken them into account.
– They represent an important qualifying factor.
– They would make a difference in the cost of the raw material.
– What have the duties referred to to do with Australianmade cloth? If honorable senators are going to argue in al circle in this way, I might say that the duties on piece goods, to which Senator Millen refers, represent a protection far more than is necessary to cover the difference in cost of wages in the woollen-manufacturing industry here and in the Old Country. But it is not fair to pursue the argument ad infinitum. If it is contended that” we should give the makers of apparel in Australia a greater measure of protection because they are making up imported piece goods, that can hardly be said to be a useful argument for honorable senators opposite to use. Do they wish to encourage the importation of woollen piece goods? There is one thing I wish to say in connexion with the labour in this industry which should influence honorable senators on the other side, and especially those who are members of the Labour Party. Greatly to my disgust - though I do not know what view the members of the Labour Party take of the matter - it was stated in evidence that there is quite a considerable number of boys and girls under the age of sixteen years employed in these factories for the making up of apparel.
– That is common to all factories.
– It is common to factories in the Old Country also.
– I do not care what happens in the Old Country, but if I had my way, there would be no boy or girl under sixteen years of age employed in any factory in Australia.
– They leave school at thirteen - what are they to do in the meantime ?
– That is an irrelevant consideration, but, in answer to the honorable senator’s interjection, I have no hesitation in saying that if I could have my way in Australia, the sort of Socialism I would favour would be to give every boy and girl under sixteen years of age free education to start with, and, if necessary, to add to that free food. Honorable senators may describe me as a Socialist if they please.
– Why stop at free food; why not give them- free raiment also ?
– That is incidental, but I was pointing out that I find to my disgust that boys and girls under sixteen years of age are employed in factories in Australia. There are many of them employed in the industry we are now considering.
– The honorable sena: tor cannot justify his continuation in the ranks of the party to which he belongs after the statement he has just made.
– I am not concerned about that; but when Senator McColl spoke of boys and girls having to leave school at thirteen- years of age, I wished to show that that consideration did not appeal to’ me in the least. I remind honorable senators that this industry, which they are disposed to bolster up, is one which employs small boys and girls, and in all the circumstances is carried on under conditions which do not reflect very much credit upon us.
– Senator Clemons has demonstrated beyond dispute that the distribution of goods adds to their cost very much more than does the cost of manufacture, including the manufacturer’s profit. The honorable senator has ascertained that in the case of a suit of clothes of a certain value the manufacturer’s profit and wages cost amounts to 5s. 6d., and the cost of distribution to 12s., allowing for only two removes from the factory. Clearly this demonstrates that the smaller the range of distribution and the less handling of goods there is the fewer extortionate demands are charged against the consumer. The honorable senator has shown, at any rate to his own satisfaction, that 25 per cent., repre:senting 4s. 6d. in the case to which he has referred, is a sufficiently high duty to cover the whole cost of wages in connexion with the manufacture of men’s clothing, and. he proves that by giving the figures applicable to the manufacture of a suit of clothes of a certain value.
– :No ; I have dealt with the average. The man’s statement was that it was a mid-estimate of the cost of all the clothes he made.
– If we admit that the figures are applicable to an average suit of clothes we can hardly base upon them a duty which will cover the whole area of the manufacture of apparel. Asuming that the honorable senator has been correct in his deductions, it is obvious that if a duty representing 4s. 6d. on such a suit of clothes as he has described would cover the difference in the cost of manufacture for all middle-priced suits we should require a higher duty for the higher line.
– Why ? Would it cost more in wages to make a better class of goods?
– The honorable senator will admit that the making of a suit of clothes worth £4 would cost more in wages than the making of a suit worth only 30s. If not, then my honorable friend displays a very limited knowledge. The point that I wish to press home is - and Senator Clemons is perfectly right as to this - that the cost of distribution is the main extortion, if it is an extortion, that the consumer has to bear. If it costs 12s. to distribute from one part of Melbourne to another, how much would it cost to distribute from Germany to Melbourne, which would necessarily involve two or three additional profits ? If the goods were made in. Germany or in France or in the United Kingdom, they would be made by manufacturers there who probably would get very little profit, as is the case with the manufacturers here. But an exporting firm in Germany would probably insist on large profits. Then the goods would be sent out to a distributing, firm in Australia who would also have large profits. These charges would have to be added to the cost of the goods.
– That all means so much more profit to the local men.
– If Senator Millen had observed the operations of all distributing and importing industries he would know that when there is no protection the importer is powerful enough to crush out local competition. I know of an instance which illustrates my point. In the neighbouring city of - Adelaide a friend of mine had a brother who was a carpenter. My friend, who is a shopkeeper, bought a particular kind of chair which I need not describe. He bought it from a wholesale firm for 17s. 6d- His brother, the carpenter, said “ I think I can make a chair like that for less than 17s. 6d.” He made one, took it to the wholesale firm, and said ‘” I can make’ this sort of chair for 6s. 6d.” The man in charge said “ I have no power ; I am only a manager, but I will submit your offer to my principals and let you know.” The first information the man had from the firm was, not that they would take chairs from him, but that this kind of chair was marked up all over Adelaide at 6s. 6d.
– The man who told the honorable senator that was out for a bit of fun, and he struck the right man.
– We have had many experiences ot efforts made by importers to crush out local industries. The man who imports a hundred lines, as many importers do, makes a profit on each of them, but if he sees one of them threatened he can easily make less profit on that line, or sustain a little loss, to throw off the local competition that threatens him. If my honorable friends opposite deny that, I assume that they do not know the facts, and it only proves how little they have observed what is going on around them.
– It only shows what a fool the importer is if he imports goods from abroad which cost him more than he could buy them for locally.
– He does not import at a lower rate from abroad in all cases. I once worked for a man in Melbourne who was an importer and who was, by means of protection, compelled to become a manufacturer. He said, in language that was not polite - using an offensive adjective concerning protection - “ Before protection I could buy a thing for halfacrown and sell it For a pound, but now, byGod ! I have to sell it for five bob !” That was his complaint. ‘
– The honorable senator did not believe him, surely?
– We do not want these yarns !
– I believe that everybody, even my honorable friend, will make as much profit as he can out of his business transactions, and the importer, having his source of supply hundreds and perhaps thousands of miles away ‘from his market, can impose charges that he would not be able to impose if the manufacturer were living next door to the consumer.
– Does not the honorable senator recognise that there is competition among importers as well as amongst manufacturers ? “ Senator TRENWITH. - I am reminded by the interjections of my honorable friends opposite of “the classical quotation : “ Let the galled jade wince.” Is is a common thing tor importers to make amongst them-‘ selves arrangements as to the profits they shall earn. I can prove that statement from the reports of the Tariff Commission. We had it on sworn evidence from an importer himself that there was a ring and an arrangement amongst them to charge certain prices. Such arrangements are much more easily made amongst a few people whose source of supply is abroad and beyond the knowledge of those whom they supply, than amongst the manufacturers on the spot.
– I hope the honorable senator will connect his remarks with the item.
– I think that my argument applies to the item under consideration. The argument of honorable senators opposite has been that protection increases the cost to the consumer and is therefore baneful.
- Senator Clemons, who introduced that argument, dealt with the particular item under consideration.
– I have argued the matter out quite as far as I desire. Senator Clemons has shown in connexion with a suit of clothes worth 17 s. 6d. that the consumer pays for cost of distribution 12s.
– I was talking about wages.
– I am talking about cost of distribution, which is inseparably connected, and I am saying that if one process of distribution - from the manufacturer to the warehouseman and from the warehouseman to the retailer - costs 12s., it is more than probable. It is absolutely certain, that if the goods are imported, and there are consequently three or four processes of distribution before they reach the consumer, these profits, costs, and charges will be multiplied, and therefore the consumer will pay more instead of less for his goods.
– This Tariff has been responsible for, some strange alliances. Prior to the. dinner adjournment this evening, we had an alliance between Senator Stewart and Senator Clemons. Now we have an al,liance between Senator Clemons and Senator. Trenwith - perhaps the most singular one that could be imagined. Prior to the dinner hour Senator Clemons made a statement which Senator Trenwith now hastens to admit and to strengthen by further ar.gument. The statement of Senator Clemons was that those who control the manufacture of apparel were found, some way or other, charging an excessive price for distribution. Senator Trenwith now comes along and shows how that is done. His explanation is this - that owing to the high Tariff we have imposed, and to the manufacturer in the Old Country and the importer, having to face so many charges, the cost of distribution is increased. He argues that there are so many of these charges added on to the imported article, that it means that the article can only be sold at a much higher price, and that the locally-manufactured article is really, by this Tariff, brought to the level which these charges referred to by Senator Trenwith have added to the imported article.
– Does the honorable senator believe that Senator Trenwith put it in that way ?
– I am simply congratulating Senator Clemons on the new ally he has made on the other side of the chamber. One little trouble- that faces me in this matter is this - that, much as I should like to vote for a lower duty on the item under consideration, I’ cannot shut my eyes to the fact that this Committee - though I think it made an error - has decided to fix a certain duty upon woollen piece goods. To my mind, that fact must be kept before us. There ought to be some relation maintained between the duty we now place on made-up apparel and that which we have determined shall be imposed on the raw material of the trade. When I interjected, Senator Clemons seemed to think that that was not an argument that ought to come before us in connexion with item 106. But I will quote a statement from the report of the free-trade section of the Tariff Commission that will show my honorable friend that the duties upon raw material ought to be considered.
– Senator Clemons quoted that himself.
– We said that you must have regard on each side to the labour cost.
– It is not a questionof labour cost. I endeavoured to save time by asking Senator Clemons, by interjection, if he was making any allowance for the duties upon woollen piece goods, which form the raw material of those who work under item 106. Here is what the report of the free-trade section of the Tariff Commission says -
That an increase of the existing duties on woollen fabrics - and we have decided upon an increase - meant an increase of the price was practically, though perhaps unintentionally, admitted by the manufacturers! After asking that the duty on tweeds, serges, &c, should be raised to 30 per cent., they added the further suggestion that the duty on clothing should be increased to 40 per cent. It was explained by one of these witnesses that “ it had been found necessary, in the interests of the clothing manufacturers, to allow a margin of at least 10 per cent, between the duty upon woollen piece goods (which constitute their raw material) and the manufactured article.” When, therefore, the woollen manufacturers recognise the necessity of increasing the duty on clothing from - 25 per cent, (the present rate) to 40 per cent., consequent on their obtaining an increase to’ 30 per cent, on the raw materials of the clothing manufacturer, it is perfectly obvious that they anticipate a rise in the price of their products in the ratio indicated in these proposals.
I only mentioned that paragraph from the report of the free-trade section of the Tariff Commission because it embodies entirely my view. I believe that the duty fixed upon piece goods would increase the price to those who have to buy them. For that reason I cannot support the proposal put forward by Senator Clemons. He proposes a duty of 25 per cent. The duties upon woollen piece goods are 30 and 25 per cent. It does seem to me that it would be an entire anomaly to adopt such a duty and, at the same time, to put duties of 40 and 35 per cent, on the raw material.
– It is not their raw material, necessarily.
– Honorable senators opposite do not believe, as I do, that, whether the piece goods used are made in Australia or not, the price is increased by the amount of the duty. It is because Senator Clemons believes that, however, that I ask him to take it into account. If I were, addressing a protectionist I could afford to ignore that point, because all protectionists believe that a duty does not increase the price. If they believe that it reduces the price, and that the manufacturer of apparel here obtains .cheaper raw material in consequence, they can vote for Senator Clemons’ proposal. But if Senator Clemons believes, as I do, that the duty on piece goods increases the price pf the raw material to the. manufacturer of apparel, he ought to vote against his own request, because, as the’ report of the free-trade section points out, there should Be” some relation between the duty on the manufactured pro-, duct and that on the raw material.
– That report sets a limit. Would the honorable senator carry that argument on ad infinitum t Suppose the duty on piece goods were 60 per cent. , ‘ would he make the duty on apparel 75 per cent. ?
– Not necessarilv 75 per cent. ; but I do say that it would be absurd and unfair to put a duty of 60 per cent, on piece goods, the raw material of the clothing trade, and give less than a duty of 60 per cent, on the manufactured article. Because this is what would happen : If there were any importations, they would consist of the manufactured articles, and not of the piece goods. I should have liked Senator Clemons to moderate his request, and keep it somewhere in proportion “to the duty on piece goods.-
– I have kept my request in proportion to the wages cost, which represents the chief demand for protection.
– Wages do not represent the total cost of the output ; the cost of the material has to be considered. I regard this duty of 40 per cent, as absolutely monstrous and unjustifiable. I am prepared to- support a request that it be reduced ; but I fail to see how. I can. be reasonably expected to vote for a request to reduce it below the level of the duty which the manufacturer of apparel has to pay on that which constitutes his raw material.
– Honorable senators, whatever their fiscal views may be, must not forget that we are now dealing with an item relating to goods upon the raw material of which a duty has been imposed by the will of both Houses of the Parliament. Nine-tenths of that raw material must be imported.
– Nine-tenths ?
– Yes; nine-tenths of the raw material used in the manufacture of men’s, clothing is imported. We have- placed upon that raw material a duty of 30 per cent, in respect of the general Tariff, and a duty of 25 per cent, on imports from Great Britain. It is from thai plane that we must approach the consideration of this item. We must remember that we are dealing with a Tariff in which the principle of protection has been embodied, and as the ‘greater proportion of the raw material used in the manufacture of men’s clothing comes from the United Kingdom, we may say that ‘the duty really payable upon it is 25 per cent. Senator Clemons has brought before the Committee some facts which seem important, but his information, although obtained from a witness on oath, is only partial. He has inferred a great deal more than he is justified in inferring from the knowledge gained in that way. In the first instance, he has told us that a manufacturer of clothing went to a warehouse and purchased certain materials for a suit costing, let us say, 9s.
– The manufacturer does not go to the warehouse and buy.
– That is the way the honorable senator put it.
– He obtains his material from the warehouse, and has to pay 9s. for it.
– It might have been inferred from what Senator Clemons said that this manufacturer had gone to a warehouse and purchased the material. The honorable senator did not deal with that point as fully as he ought to have done. My interpretation of the facts is that an importer carrying on business, probably in Flinders-lane, and wishing to have a quantity of material made up, sent the manufacturer who appeared before the Tariff Commission al supply of cloth, which he duly entered- up against him. The price entered up does not affect the argument. As a matter of fact, he sent this manufacturer some, very common material to be made up in the commonest and cheapest possible form.
– All the adjectives are supplied by the -honorable senator.
– I intend to read the honorable senator’s cross-examination of the witness, in order that honorable senators may determine what importance we can attach to the evidence which Senator Clemons in good faith has relied upon so largely.
– He proved that the manufacturer made a profit of 25 per cent., and that the retailer made a like profit.
– The honorable senator only went so far as to prove that a suit of clothes was made and delivered for 5s. 6d., and that that sum also covered the manufacturer’s profit. I could take a roll of cloth to a manufacturer in Melbourne and have twelve suits made and the trimmings provided for the sum of 9s. 6d. each. The trimmings’ would cost about 2s. 6d. or 2s. 9d. per suit, and the price paid for the making, including the manufacturer’s profit, would be about 7s. or 6s. 9d. each.
– The honorable senator could get the suits made for 5s. 6d. each.
– That would be the charge in respect of the very commonest suits that I could have made. The honorable senator has been arguing as if 5s. ad were the general all-round charge.
– I quoted the witness’s statement that that was a mid-esti-mate.
– I think that the honorable senator was quoting his own words.
– By way of personal explanation, Mr. Chairman, I say that the sworn evidence which I have produced shows that the witness gave the price as a mid-estimate. Those were his words; but Senator Mulcahy not only seems unprepared to accept my word - and that I resent - but is positively denying the estimate which is embodied in the Minutes of Evidence before him.
– I am going to ask the Committee to form its own judgment upon this case not from my own word, but from the words used by Senator Clemons.
– No; from the evidence.
– Senator Clemons as Acting Chairman of the Tariff Commission cross-examined the witness in question as follows : -
You gave us just now an instance in which you expended 8s. 6d. on labour and trimmings. To what did that refer? - To the manufacture of a suit of clothes.
On that suit of clothes you would have an expenditure bv way of wages to your employes of Ss. 6d., less the amount paid for the trimmings? - Yes, about one-third would represent the expenditure on trimmings.
Shall we say 3s. or 2s. 6d. for trimmings? - Say 3s.
The witness did not say that the cost of the trimmings was 3s. His words were, “ Say 3s.,” or in other words about 3s.
Then you have a complaint about the duty you pay on those trimmings? - Yes.
You have told us what that complaint is. The balance .of the 8s’. 6d., namely, 5s. 6d., would represent wages? - Wages and profit.
The figures are those given by the honorable senator as Acting Chairman.
– They were given by the witness.
– The examination continues -
YOU get your material from a wholesale housie ; you put into that material labour to the extent of 5s. 6d. in making a suit of clothes, and you add trimmings to the value of 3s. Will you give me approximately the average cost to the wholesale house of the material of a suit of clothes?-
To that question the witness answered very properly -
I would rather not answer the question. I could not give you the information correctly. The price might vary.
The cross-examination proceeded as follows -
It would vary considerably: but give me some sort of middle estimate. lt will hot commit you to anything? - The cost would be between 7s. and 8s.
That is what the wholesale house would have to pay for the material it s;nt to you to be made into a suit 0 £ clothes ? - Yes ; I am speaking now of a low-quality material, and the matter is one upon which I should like to be certain before making a statement. There are so many variations that it is somewhat difficult to decide upon u fixed price.
I do not ask you to settle upon any price, but to give me an approximate estimate. I will take your own figures ? - Then, we will say 9s. ; that would be about a mid-estimate.
– The witness himself said, “ Then we will say 9s. ; that would be about a mid-estimate.”
– Although he had previously said that the cost would be about 8s.
– This was his final statement, and I mentioned it several times.
– The report continues -
Then, in connexion with this suit of clothes, we should have 9s. spent on the material, 5s. 6d. spent in labour, and 3s. on trimmings, making a total of 17s. 6d. ? - Yes.
The case was built up by words put into the mouth of a witness under a severe crossexamination.
– Police court methods.
– Surely the man knew his own business.
– His business was the manufacture of clothing. He had nothing to do with the cost of the material to the importer, but might have had the same degree of information on that question as honorable senators generally have.
– The question was not sprung upon him.
– The crossexamination continued -
Have you ever considered the way in which you are carrying on your business? You employ labour, and pay fair wages? - Yes.
You get your material from another man, and when you have made up the clothing, you hand it over to him, and stop at that point? - Yes.
At that point you must make your fair business profit in respect of your expenditure of Ss. 6d. on the suit of clothes? - Yes.
The next stage is that the wholesale house offers this suit of clothes to some retail seller? -Yes.
At that stage the wholesale house must get its profit, and the following stage is that the retailer sells to the consumer, and must get his profit?. - That is so.
Do not you think that, from the consumers’ point of view, that is a very unsatisfactory method of conducting business. He has first of all to pay you a profit; he has then to pay the profit of the wholesale house; and he has finally to pay the profit of the retail shop? - That is so.
That is exactly what Senator Trenwith has been contending - that the whole of this argument is directed at the abolition of the middle charges.
– Part of it is, and I have mentioned it. The basis of my request is wages.
– I know as well as does the honorable senator what profits are made in this particular industry. What probably occurred in the case under notice was that a warehouseman in Flindersfane sent to the manufacturer of clothing 3 yards of cloth, costing him about 2s. Or 2s. 6d. a yard, to be made into a suit’ at a cost of 5s. 6d. Assuming that the material costs 2s. 6d. per yard’, we have a total of 7s. 66., and the cost of making ‘the suit, plus the manufacturer’s profit, gives us a total of 13s. The warehouseman would naturally want upon that sum his fair profit, which at 25 per cent, would mean an additional 3s. 3d. He would sell the suit - as a matter of fact such suits are sold - at about 16s. or. 16s. 3d.
– Who sells at that price?
– The wholesale man. I venture to tell the honorable senator, and I speak with a very ‘ considerable knowledge of the. trade, that’ instead of these suits being retailed at 30s., as suggested by him, they are sold in Bourkestreet, Melbourne, at from 21s. to 22s. 66. each. We could purchase at that price a suit which had been made in this way. When a retailer is holding a sale he will sell such suits at from 17s. 96. to 18s. 66. each. It is quite a common occurrence for suits of clothes to be made here and sold at such prices. In Sydney, under the sweating conditions which existed when free-trade prevailed in New South Wales, such suits were at times sold by warehousemen for as low a price as 10s. 6d. each.
– These clothes were made under a determination of the Wages Board.
– So far as’ the wages aspect of this, question is concerned Senator Clemons is entirely out of court, because, according to the sworn testimony of this witness, the clothing industry is conducted under very favorable conditions.
– Mr. Barnett is one of the best tailoring employers.
– And according to the sworn testimony tendered to the Tariff
Commission he pays only 4s. 6d. per suit to his employes.
– All that we are concerned with is whether his factory operatives earn a fair wage.
– I have already said that they do.
– If there has been any extravagant payment on the part of the consumer certainly it has not found its way into the pockets of. the manufacturer, who makes a profit of only is. per suit.
– If we extend more protection to the industry who will get the benefit? Will it not be the manufacturer ?
– The manufacturer will get a portion of the benefit. In this instance I do not think that the imposition of a protective duty will result in the manufacturer obtaining a larger price for his goods. But he will get more orders : in other words, he will obtain an increased trade. If his rate of profit is somewhat smaller than it was previously, his aggregate profit will be larger..
– He will have his factory fully employed.
– Will he not raise the price of his goods to the extent of the duty ?
– If there were only one manufacturer engaged in the industry probably he would.
– But the point is that he does it.
– I absolutely refuse to believe that. Senator Gray can go down the streets of Melbourne and purchase a suit of clothes - after allowing for the payment of fair and reasonable wages - as cheaply as he can obtain them in any part of the world.
– That is not the argument. ‘
– I do not care what is the argument so long as the consumer is not called upon to pay more for his clothing. We know that for years prior to Federation Victoria imposed a high rate of duty upon clothing. The industry has been developed in this State by the imposition of a protective duty, and from every stand-point its production has excelled that of the sister State. My honorable friend knows perfectly well that for many years New South Wales admitted the raw materials of this industry absolutely free, whereas in Victoria both the material and the manufactured article were dutiable at a high rate. . But where did the shopkeeper go for his clothing ?
– Where he could obtain it the cheapest.
– Nine-tenths of the importers of Tasmania obtained their clothing supplies from Victoria because they could get a better article here.
– What is the use of talking that sort of rubbish ?
– Had my proposal last night for a reduced duty upon the raw materials of this industry been carried, I should have been quite prepared to support a reduction in what I, as a protectionist, regard as an unnecessarily high tax upon the manufactured article. But the Committee has decreed otherwise. It has decided that the raw materials of manufactured garments shall be dutiable at 25 per cent. Of course I recognise that our manufacturers cannot get on without importing a proportion of their raw materials. Notwithstanding the high rate of duty which has been imposed upon those materials, I venture to say that the proportion of goods made from cloth of Victorian manufacture and that made from imported cloth will not vary very much. Consequently I hold that it would have been wise to reduce the duty upon the raw materials to 20 per cent. But, as I have already stated, we have not done so: The position of our clothing manufacturers is that the duty upon their raw materials has been raised 10 per cent., whilst that upon the’ manufactured article has only been increased to a similar extent. There is the same margin between the tax levied upon their raw materials and that imposed upon the manufactured article now as there was previously. Consequently I cannot see my way to agree to a reduction in the proposed rate of duty.
– I have listened attentively to the conflicting arguments addressed to the Committee by Senator Clemons - who possesses the advantage of a close acquaintance with the evidence tendered by the various witnesses who appeared before the Tariff Commission - and by Senator Mulcahy, and I find myself compelled to vote with the latter very much against my inclination. I merely rise to accentuate the fact that I have been driven .into the position which has been so well emphasized- by Senator Mulcahy, as the result of the action of the Government, who appear determined to bleed the people of Australia.
– Yet the honorable senator intends to support them.
– I cannot help doing so. Had I been able to influence the Government they would never have occupied the position in which they find themselves. It is most deplorable, especially in view of the duties which we have levied upon cotton clothing, that we cannot extend some mercy to the people of Australia in respect of the duties imposed upon woollen clothing. To me- it is a painful thing, to be forced to vote in the direction that I intend to vote. But if we wish to frame a Tariff which will satisfy .the demands of the mill-owners upon the one hand and of the manufacturers of woollen clothing upon the other, there is no escape from Senator . Mulcahy ‘s argument. I feel that we are now about to reap some of the injustice which has been inflicted upon the people as the result of levying an excessive duty upon the raw materials of the clothing industry. We all know that that industry is being conducted under very favorable conditions. I am very reluctant to support Senator Mulcahy upon this occasion, and I merely rose to emphasize the unwisdom of the Committee in refusing to reduce the very heavy duty which has been imposed upon piece goods. Of course I realize that if we now decrease the rate upon the manufactured article we must attack a strongly established industry. I can quite understand that that is not an argument’ to which free-traders will attach very much weight, but in my vote upon each separate item I propose to be influenced by the particular circumstances surrounding the industry involved. I wish to place upon record the fact that I am practically compelled to support Senator Mulcahy in order to prevent injustice being done to our clothing manufacturers. I am obliged to offer them some assistance, whatever may be the consequences, either to the importers of the raw materials of this industry or to the consumers. I shall give my vote almost under absolute compulsion.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 106, “ Apparel and Attire - Woollen or Silk ‘ ‘ (imports under General Tariff), ad val. 25 per cent. (Senator Clemons’ request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 17
Majority … 8
Question so resolved in the negative.
Request (by Senator Chataway) put -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make, the duty on item 106 (imports, under General Tariff), ad val., 35 per cent.
The’ Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 106 by adding the following new paragraph : - “B. Corsets, ad val. (General Tariff), 20 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), 15 per cent.”
Before Federation, in New South Wales these articles were free; in Victoria there was a duty of 35 per cent. ; Queensland 25 per cent. ; South Australia either 25 per cent, or 10 per cent., mixed up in a general way; Western Australia 15 per cent. ; and Tasmania 20 per cent.
– Why does the honorable senator now propose 20 per cent. ? Is that protective?
– The old Victorian 35 per cent, duty was expected by the framers of the State Tariff to enable the industry of corset making to be established, but that it did not have that effect is shown by the Chief Inspector of Factories in his annual report. There were four factories, and forty-two females employed in them, in Victoria under the 35 per cent. duty. Since . Federation the duty has been considerably reduced, the factories have not increased, and the number of employe’s has decreased from fortytwo to thirty-four. I am reliably informed that the corsets made in those factories are of a special kind, and special prices are paid for them, while the corsets worn by the masses are not made in any. part of Australia. ‘ Although facilities have been given for the establishment of the industry of manufacturing these articles, no effort has been made in that direction. No evidence was given -before the Tariff Commission in . favour of a high duty. No desire has been expressed for it by people who might be regarded as interested in the establishment of the industry. Consequently I see no advantage, even from a protectionist point of view, in imposing a duty of. 40 or 45 per cent, merely for revenue purposes.
– Why any duty at all, then ?
– Because it may be protective in its incidence. I am not wedded to the figures I propose. If honorable senators admit corsets free, I expect that they will receive the blessings of many thousands of Australian women, and I do not know that I will not vote with them.
– For a protectionist, above all a Victorian one - the ultra brand - to come forward as the chnmp’on. of reduced duties is so rare a spectacle that I accept it’ as a solemnobligation to do all’ I can to assist the reformation of the honorable senator. It was with, some fear and trepidation that I gathered from his remarks that he, a bachelor, had been deputed to champion the cause of this particular article. Senator Findley admits “that this will not be a protective duty. I can understand that he is travelling with somewhat hesitating steps in the right direction, but let me invite him to take the whole plunge at once. He need not be afraid of its being said that’ Senator Findley, a “Victorian protectionist, moved an item on to the free list. This will be a revenue duty only. He also said that those who helped to place the article on the free list would receive the smiles and benedictions of thousands of the ladies of Australia. Surely more potent than any argument which I can address to the honorable senator upon the fiscal question will be that appeal, which he himself addresed to the Committee. I move -
That the request be amended by leaving out the words “ad val., 20 per cent.,” with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ free.”
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority. … … 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- I desire that the duty shall be 15 and 10 per cent., and I move -
That the request be amended by leaving out the figures “ 20,” with a view to insert in lieu thereof the figures “ 15 “
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Senator McColl) agreed to -
That the request be further amended by leaving out the figures “ 15,” with a view to insert in lieu thereof the figures “ 10.”
– I object to the request of Senator Findley, as amended, being agreed to. The Committee had no idea that the Government were going to accept a reduced duty on this article, and consequently, in the first instance, some honorable senators voted against the article being made free who otherwise would have voted in the opposite direction, rather than vote for the imposition of a very small duty, which isonly a revenue duty, and is not a protective duty in any way. I object to being, deceived in that way. I assert that the Committee, including myself, were grossly deceived in that particular direction. Fortunately, it is not too late for us to effect a remedy, because we can now negative the request. So far we have decided that the duty on corsets, shall be 15 and 10 per cent. These are revenue duties pure and, simple.
– The honorable senator helped to make them revenue duties.
– No; I voted: against the article being made free, because I had no idea that the Government would weakly cave in and allow revenue duties to be imposed.
– We did not vote for revenue duties.
– The Minister hashis remedy, and I invite him to join with me in voting to negative the request.
– That will not make the article free.
– No: but it will make the duty protective. I am opposed root and branch to any revenue duty when it can be avoided. I intend to vote against the request for the insertion of this new paragraph, because I much prefer to have an effective protective duty rather than a revenue duty, which will ‘ accomplish nothing. I invite protectionists - not north and south protectionists - to join with me to place corsets again under the protective segis of the Tariff.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 106 by adding the following new paragraph : - “ b. Corsets, ad. val. (General Tariff), 15 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), 10 per cent. (Senator Findley’s request, as amended) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 4
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request, as amended, agreed to.
Postponed item 107. Apparel and. Attire, n.e.i., for the human body, partly or wholly made up made of any material not containing wool or silk including materials cut into shape therefor, ad val. (General Tariff), 40 per cent., and on and after 7th November, 1907, 35 per cent.; (United Kingdom), 35 per cent., and on and after 7th November, 1907, 30 per cent.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 107 (imports under General Tariff), 40 per cent.
– Of what material is this apparel and attire made?
– It is all stated in the item. When I made a suggestion in this direction a little while ago the honorable senator twitted ‘ me that I wanted to give a far larger protection to those who made up apparel and attire of this nature than to those who made up apparel ana attire from woollens and silks or from an admixture of those materials. But I point out to him that the free-trade section of the Tariff Commission, of which he wasa distinguished ornament, recommended that the duty on these two items should be exactly the same, namely 15 per cent.
– I would vote for’ that now.
– Of course the honorable senator would. My reason for moving this request is not so much to get an increased protection, not so much to pile up the duty on the item, as to remove what has hitherto been a constant source of friction in the working of the Tariff. Speaking on that subject a little while ago, Senator Millen twitted me that I was only willing to get rid of that source of friction if I could get my price, and that was an increase of the duty. I remind him that during the early portion of the day I foughtjust as consistently to remove a source of friction in another portion of the Tariff by a reduction of the duty.
– On a revenue item.
– The honorable senator twitted me for wishing to obtain a desirable end . in what to him appeared to be. an undesirable way. I have given him mv sole reason for moving this request, and should it be accepted I. shall move that theHouse of Representatives be requested to make a proportionate alteration in the duty imposed on imports from the United Kingdom. Honorable senators are . well aware that there is constant friction arising between the Customs officials and merchants dealing in all these classes of goods. Many departmental decisions in connexion with these items have been given, and they vary in different States. By a simple adjustment such as I propose we can remove all the existing sources of friction, and I’ con- tend that that is worth a little. I was prepared this morning to accomplish that object by moving a decrease in a duty proposed, but I can accomplish it now only by a slight increase in this duty. I think it is desirable to remove any cause of friction when it can be done without any great disturbance of the Tariff as it stands.
– I should like to know if the VicePresident of the Executive Council has any objection to say what view the Government take of Senator Givens’ request?
– No objection whatever. We intend to support it.
– To support a proposal to mutilate their own Tariff ?
– No; the Government’s proposal was for a duty of 40 per cent., and the duty they proposed on piece goods was 35 per cent.
– Item 107 does not refer to woollen but to cotton and linen goods. When the Government proposed duties of 46 and 35 per cent, on apparel made from cotton and linen piece goods they were proposing duties of 10 and 5 per cent, upon the piece goods from which this apparel is made. As, in conjunction with another place,- we have removed the proposed duties of 10 and 5 per cent, on cotton and linen piece goods, there should be a reduction in the duties proposed on apparel made from those goods. But the Vice-President of . the Executive Council is proposing to support a request for an increase of these duties. He has himself admitted that duties on apparel should bear some relative proportion to those on the raw material from which the apparel is made. We have removed the duties at first imposed on cotton and linen piece goods, and now, though the inducement should be all the other way, the Minister without any explanation seizes the first opportunity to vote for an increase in the duties imposed on apparel made from -those goods.
– Does not the honorable senator think that the removal of friction at the Customs House is a good reason for supporting this request?
– Of course, I think it would be an advantage to remove that friction, but there is a price beyond which an advantage ceases to be one.
– The honorable senator was willing to pay the price before.
– Senator Givens is aware that the item to which he now refers involved a purely revenue duty, and we are now dealing with what is purely a protective duty. I desire to move a request- for a reduction of this duty, and I ask Senator Givens to temporarily withdraw his request.
– I have no objection to do so .
Request, by leave, withdrawn.
– I intend in this case to ask the House of Representatives to revert to the old duties of 30 per cent, and 25 per cent. I point out to honorable senators that whereas the people who make up articles coming under item 107 had previously a protection of 10 per cent, only, they will now be given, even if my request be agreed to, a protection of 30 and 25 per cent. That must be admitted to be a very substantial increase upon the protection they had under the 1902 Tariff. For that reasonI have confidence in asking the Committee to favorably consider my proposal. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 107 (imports under General Tariff), ad val., 30 per cent.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 8
Question so resolved in the negative.
Request (by Senator Givens) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 107 (imports under General Tariff), ad val., 40 per cent.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [9.34]. - I cannot hold my peace in this matter any longer. A little time ago, when this Tariff was very much before the people of New South Wales, at the time of a State election the leader of the party to which the mover of this request belongs, and of which he is so distinguished an ornament, came over in hot haste to New South Wales to cajole the people by promises that they would cut down the Tariff. But what do we find to-day? The election over, up goes the Tariff again !
– I desire to say, with regard to the proposal now before the Committee, that honorable senators opposite have frequently pointed out the necessity . for simplifying ‘ the Tariff. There are no two items in the Tariff in connexion with which there is so much trouble and difficulty as in regard to items 106 and 107. As to the three items with which we dealt this morning, I do not think that the difficulties which arise are anything like so great as those which occur in connexion with items 106 and 107. I should, of course, be satisfied with the Tariff as it stands; but as the Committee has already by its voice emphasized the necessity for the amalgamation of items with a. view to simplification, and as that has involved a reduction of duties, surely it is not unreasonable now, when for the same purpose of simplification an increase of 5 per. cent’, is proposed -just as- on the other occasion a decrease of 5 per cent, was involved - that it should be agreed to. Under the circumstances, I have no compunction whatever about supporting the request.
– Is it a protective dutv ?
– Undoubtedly it is.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [9.40]. - This is another case in which the Minister indicates that the officers of the Customs Department are incapable of understanding and doing their duty. We have already been told that they do not know the difference between corn flour and starch, and now we are told that they do not know the difference between silk and woollen goods and cotton and linen goods. But, though they do not know the difference between these commodities, the Minister told us this morning that they could actually tell to what purposes a piece of woollen goods was to be devoted after it went into consumption.
– I never said anything of the kind:
– We were told by the Minister that there was a perfectly well-known distinction between goods to be used for men’s and women’s clothing. But to-night it suits the Minister to tell us exactly the opposite, and he therefore informs us that the Customs Department does not know the difference between woollen goods and linens. I think it is about time that this system of Ministerial ignorance, or misrepresentation - I do not know which, and I do not care which-
– Mr. Chairman, I draw your attention to the remark of the honorable senator about misrepresentation by the Minister. .
– That is not a point of order.
– If the remark is considered offensive it should be withdrawn.
– It is offensive, undoubtedly.
– What is the word I am asked to withdraw?
– The Minister has said that the word “ misrepresentation “ as applied to him is offensive.
– Then I will only say “ Ministerial ignorance.”
– Very well ; anything you like.
– I do not wish to hurt the honorable senator’s feelings. There is no ill-will between us.
– The honorable senator has not withdrawn what he was asked to withdraw.
– I will withdraw the word which my honorable friend dislikes, and will say “ Ministerial ignorance “ or “Ministerial bungling”; I do not know which it is. I do not blame my honorable friend, however. He is the mouthpiece of the Department: I do not suppose that Senator Best claims to be a living en cyclopaedia about all the goods mentioned in this Tariff. If he is, he is the most wonderful man alive - far more marvellous indeed than he even believes himself to be.
– I never made any remark such as the honorable senator has represented.
– The honorable senator at least told us that these goods were very difficult to distinguish. I refer to items 106 and 107. The goods in item 106 consist of wool and silk, and those in the item we are now considering are made up of any material not containing wool or silk. One includes wool and silk and the other excludes wool and silk. Clearly the Customs Department must be able to distinguish the goods that contain wool only, and goods that have silk in them, and goods that have neither.
– Suppose a garment merely had the button holes worked in silk, and a dispute arose. Would it not be unsatisfactory and inconvenient to tax that garment as containing silk?
– I should think that no Customs Department in the world would so deal with trade operations as to raise a difficulty about the payment of a higher duty on the fact that a few silk stitches had been made in a garment in some form.
Senator -Givens.- That is exactly what the item says at present.
– “ Containing wool or silk.”
– The honorable senator does not like being bowled out.
– If the honor- able senator knew as much about the’ things he talks about as he thinks he does, his remarks would be more apt and more useful to the debate. I cannot believe that the Customs officers are as destitute of knowledge as the Minister has informed us that they are. I cannot for a moment believe that there is any necessity to increase an already shockingly high duty in order to obviate some unknown and impossible difficulty of determination as to what the character of goods is. When we take the 40 per cent, that is proposed now, and remember that that 40 per cent, is calculated not only upon the cost of the goods, but on 10 per cent, added, it will be seen that 40 per cent, is calculated not upon’ £100 worth of goods, but upon £110 worth. Consequently the duty payable to the Department is really 44 per cent., and not 40 per cent. Every one knows that, and I cannot understand how any honorable senator could dream of proposing such a duty on a pinafore for a little child. We had put before us, only yesterday, figures showing that in the clothing factories of Victoria and New South Wales alone some 30,000 persons are employed. That industry has been expanding under duties of only 25 per cent., and prior to their imposition, in New South Wales at all events, under free-trade. Now, forsooth, we must have a. duty of 44 per cent, clipped on the unfortunates who are not sufficiently well-to-do to have their clothing made specially for them. Any one who has to purchase ready-made articles of wearing apparel is to be sweated in this manner, for what purpose goodness knows. The transactions of the manufacturers are large enough to show that they are not working unsuccessfully. This is not one of the struggling industries that wants to be coaxed and coddled in their infancy. It is a strong, healthy growing, largelyconducted industry, but one, unfortunately, in which, perhaps, more than in any other, sweating is carried on. To benefit one of the sweating industries of Victoria and New South Wales, of which we have heard so much, and heard with condemnation, properly enough, we are to have an increase of duty to fill the pockets of the sweaters. I am surprised and shocked that such a proposal should emanate from those who profess to be the friends of the workers, but who are showing themselves to be the toilers’ most deadly enemies.
– I should like to point out to the Committee, and more particularly to the Minister, that items 106 and 107 were specially subdivided by the Minister in charge of the Tariff in another place, and that he also agreed to a. reduction of 5 per cent, in respect of the duty on item J07. For what purpose are we to request that the duty be increased, and thus to bring ourselves into conflict with the general opinion of honorable members of another place?
– To secure uniformity.
– If that were the original object, a request should ‘ have been moved to reduce the first of the paragraphs in this item. I should have voted for such a request, believing that the simplification of the Tariff would more than compensate for a loss of 5 per cent, in re- spect of any duty. I repeat that the Minister in another place agreed to a subdivision and re-arrangement of the duties.
– The duties of 35 per cent, and 30 per cent, appearing in the schedule in respect of this item are in all conscience high enough, and I should be very loth to support a request for an increase, but I know that, as a matter of fact, it will not result in any additional burden on the people, and that it will secure that simplification of the Tariff of which Senator. Givens has spoken. Nearly all the garments to. which this item relates are made in Australia. Although we hear occasionally of sweating, it cannot be said, so far as Melbourne is concerned - and I do not think that Sydney is behind it - that it takes place in factories in which sewing is carried on. The law is decidedly against it, the spirit of the people is opposed to it, and the Factories Acts regulate the rates of pay and bring about fair conditions of labour. As a matter of fact, this particular industry has been captured, and the garments covered by this item are all made in Australia. If any honorable senator is in doubt as to whether protection reduces or increases the price of these goods, he .can easily ascertain the facts for himself.” Let any honorable senator who has the good fortune to have a wife capable of judging the value of children’s garments, working men’s shirts, and other goods coming within this item, take her to a draper’s shop in Melbourne where they are sold, and she will tell him that they are offered at very reasonable prices. In ninety-five cases out of a 100 they are manufactured in Melbourne. Therefore the effect of the requested increase, so far as the imposition of any additional burden on the people is concerned, will not be what Senator Neild fears.
– The remarks of Senator Neild have brought me to my feet. I hope that when next he addresses the Committee he will use language that honorable senators can understand, and not try to limit our powers. If we have power to request another place to reduce’ duties we have power to request them to increase them. I take this opportunity of explaining why I voted, against the Government, in favour of a reduction of the duty on corsets. I was given to understand by some of the most prominent and intelligent protectionists in the Senate - by no less an authority than Senator Findley himself - that it was a revenue duty.
– We have dealt with that item, and the honorable senator cannot now discuss it.
– I was simply referring to it by way of. illustration. Had I known sooner. I should have voted for a request that that item be free. As to the item immediately under consideration, I may say at once that, believing as I do, and always have done, that the policy of protection is a sound one, I intend to vote for effective protection, and to support the request for an increase.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [9.54]. - The speech which we have just heard is most instructive. The honorable senator told us that, as a protectionist, he was going to fight for duties on every occasion.
– I did not say that.
– The honorable senator does not know what he is talking about. He made that statement immediately after explaining to the Committee that it was because of a misapprehension that he did not vote for a request to do away altogether with the duty on corsets. My honorable friend musthave been asleep, and have just awakened. As to the item before us, I -would point out that the duties as they stand in the Bill were proposed in another place by Dr. Maloney, and were accepted by the. Government, and agreed to withouta division, after proposals to reduce the duties below 35 and 30 per cent, had been unsuccessfully pressed to divisions. These duties were proposed by a member of the very party which now seeks to increase them, and were accepted by the present Government, which also desires their increase. Thank goodness, this is a kind of Ministerial see-saw the like of which we do not often see. I think it my duty to draw attention to the game that is being played by the Government and a certain section of their supporters.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 107, “ Apparel and Attire n.e.i.” (imports under General Tariff) ad val. 40 per cent. (Senator Givens’ request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
Request (by Senator Givens) put -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 107 (imports from the United Kingdom), ad val., 35 per cent.”
The Committee divided.
Majority … 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
Postponed item 108. . Articles, n.e.i., partly or wholly made up from textiles, felts, furs, or feathers, not included under items 107 or 134, and including materials cut into shape therefor, ad val. (General Tariff), 30 per cent.; (United Kingdom), 25 per cent.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 108 by leaving out the word “ furs.”
This word has been wrongly included in this item. Honorable senators will see that it is specially mentioned in item 119.
Request agreed to.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [10.5]. - I wish to ask whether the exemption under this item should not also include the articles- covered by item 117? There is at present a dispute as to whether the covering for chairs and couches known as saddlebag comes properly under this item or under item 117. In my opinion, it should come under item 117.
– It would come more properly under item 115.
– It should certainly come under item 115 or item 117 rather than under item 107, and if the Minister has no objection. I shall make a proposal later on to bring it under one of those items.
– Do towels come under this item?
– No; they come under item 11 7.
– The Treasurer undertook to place on the free list many of the articles previously coming under item 108; has that promise been carried out?
– Item 108 originally covered -
Articles, n.e.i., including Dusters, n.e.i. ; Cleaning Pads; Kettle Holders; Polishing, Tea, Glass, Kitchen, Sponge, Counter,, and Crumb Cloths; Scapular Prints; Canvas Water Holders; Animal Clothing; Horse and Body Rollers; Saddle Cloths; Sleeping Sacks; Tracing Colli with designs’; Hair Curlers- and Wavers ; Adhesive Labels, and Letters (textile) ; Hangers, Labels, Bands, and ‘Ribbons, with woven name or design thereon ; Scourers and other articles of a like character.
I am informed that some of these minor articles have been placed on the free list.
Postponed item 109 (Feathers, undressed) agreed to.
Postponed item ‘110. Feathers, dressed, ad val., 30 per cent. .
Request (by Senator Colonel Neild) put -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item no (imports from the United Kingdom), ad val., 25 per cent.
The Committee divided.
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to.
Postponed item 11 1 (Diving dresses) agreed to.
Postponed item 112. Bags and Sacks of Calico, Hessian, n.e.i., and Linen, and Meat Wraps, whether partly or wholly made up ; and Hags and Sacks, n.e.i., ad val., 15 per cent.
Request (by Senator Colonel Neild) put - .
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 112 (imports from the United Kingdom), ad val., 10 per cent.
The Committee divided.
Majority … 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to.
Postponed item 113. Bags, Sacks, Packs, and Bales for Bran, Chaff, Compressed Fodder, Potato, Onion, Ore, Coal, and Wool ; also Sugar Mats, and Corn and Flour Sacks, free.
– I wish t0 include in this item salt, gypsum, manure, and sugar sacks. I understand that the “design of the authors of the Tariff was to make dutiable, under the previous item, those coverings and bags which are being made, or likely to be made, in Australia - bags of lighter material, such as calico, hessian, and linen - and in this item to include bags made of heavier material, such as ‘jute, but which are not being made in Australia. The division, however, is not quite perfect. I shall not move now the request I have indicated, as I understand that a prior one is to be moved. When the question was being discussed in another place, the Minister of Trade and Customs said that he regretted that he had not accepted the suggestion to make these sacks free. Apparently, all the information was not available when the decision was arrived at. There is a difference between a salt bag and a salt sack. The bag is of lighter material, and is made in Australia. I am not proposing to put it on the free list. The heavier salt sack, which I wish to make free, is necessary where salt has to be sent long distances by rail, and sometimes by teams. The lighter bag, covered by item 112, is suitable for short journeys and for town trade.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 113 by inserting after the words “ Sugar Mats and “ the word “ Sugar,”.
Roughly, about 2,000,000 sugar sacks are used in the year in connexion with the sugar industry of Australia. A sugar sack is very much the same as a corn or flour sack. I believe the Government intended that sugar sacks should.be free, and the practice of the Department at present is not to charge duty upon them. They are put on the same footing as corn and flour sacks. It will be safer to make the amendment I now propose, in order that no difficulty may arise in the future through a change of Ministers or varying interpretations of the Tariff.
– There is no objection.
Request agreed to.
– Seeing that the request of Sena tor Chataway which has just been adopted includes sugar sacks, I shall simply move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to further amend item 113 by inserting after the words “Flour Sacks” the words “Salt, Gypsum and Manure sacks.”
.- What I desire to know is whether it is possible for salt bags to be utilized in the same way as salt sacks. Does Senator Millen desire salt sacks to come in free?
– Yes; that is what I have moved.
– According to a circular, which, I suppose, every honorable senator has received, salt .sacks are made in Australia. In that circular it is pointed out that under the old Tariff salt sacks bore a duty of 10 per cent., and that those engaged in the salt industry have been accorded the benefits of additional protection. Further, we are told that salt sacks have for years been regularly made in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, and South Australia, and that, as salt is a food product, it is preferable that the sacks should be made in Australian factories by clean girls than by coolies in India, where the conditions are not so desirable. These are strong and patriotic reasons why salt sacks should enjoy some protection, as against the sacks made in the East, and therefore I hope the request will not be adopted.
– I am not aware of any agreement on the part of my honorable colleague.
– I did not say that there was an agreement. I concluded on reading an official publication, not otherwise mentionable, that the Minister of Trade and Customs stated that, had he known of certain information placed before him by Colonel Foxton, he would have been disposed to change his mind.
– So far as my recollection goes, this item was specially committed for the purpose of imposing the duty. I learn, moreover, from protests made by various people that salt sacks are actually made in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney in large quantities, and if that be so, there is no justification for the request which has been moved.
– I assure the Committee that I submit this request in good faith that the sacks I have in mind are not made in Australia. When honorable senators speak in general terms about sacks they are liable to error. There is a great difference in the weight of the various sacks made, and it is quite possible for the superficial observer, like Senator Trenwith, for instance, to walk in at one end of a factory and out at the other, and then, with a wave df the hand, declare that sacks are made in Australia. The whole question depends on the weight of the sacks. On the authority of the South Australian Chamber of Manufactures, and also a communication to the Treasurer from the Cheetham Salt Company, I am entitled to assume that these particular sacks for use in the salt trade are not made in Australia. In further support of that view I may refer honorable senators to the report of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission. Generally the. members of that section of the Commission were in agreement, but in this particular instance they were not, as will be gathered from the following words written by the Chairman, Sir John Quick, in dissenting from the view of his colleagues -
I am of opinion that a sufficiently strong case has not been presented to us in support of the proposed removal of bags, sacks, packs, and bales for bran, chaff, compressed fodder, potato, onion, ore, coal and wool, and corn and flour sacks from the free list. I recommend -
That salt, gypsum, and manure bags be added to the free list.
I may say that Messrs. Clarke, Higgs and McGregor dissented from that view, and recommended that a duty should be imposed upon these particular goods. But the evidence given, and the summary of the conclusions at which the Commission arrived, clearly confirm my statement that there is a variety in the weight of the. sacks. Generally speaking, the lighter sacks are made here, but the heavier variety, which are made by hand and not by machinery, are not manufactured here, or, if so, only in a. very small way. If these sacks are being made here, it is curious that such a pronounced protectionist as Sir’ John Quick should have arrived at the conclusion I have read. Does any one doubt Sir John Quick’s adherence to the protectionist cause ?
– Yes; he wobbles sometimes.
– Sir John Quick has never been considered too ardent a protectionist.
– No one could be a sufficiently ardent protectionist for Senator Trenwith. Wherever they see an article, they want to tax it. Really they are like an Irishman at a fair : wherever he sees a head he wants to hit it. If the Committee does not care to adopt my suggestion, I shall feel, at any rate, that there is a certain amount of retributive justice in its action, seeing that not long since it did give the salt companies the benefit of an increase of 7s. 6d. a ton. But I am not at all certain that in regard to the other two bags I have mentioned there is any compensation for the manufacturers of those commodities. If the Committee is not disposed to accept the suggestion I have made now, it may, perhaps, be prepared to allow gypsum and manure bags to go on the free list, even if it strikes off the salt bags.
– The representations to which Senator Millen has referred were made to the Department, and also to myself. The Department, being in some doubt on the subject, instituted some inquiries, with the result that I am able to produce here a sample salt bag made by Joyce Brothers Limited, of Sydney. This, at all events, indicates that salt bags are made in the Commonwealth.
– Yes ; but, unfortunately, the honorable senator has nothing to show that that is the kind of sack which the salt companies want. ‘He has in his hand merely a sack which the manufacturer of it says is a salt sack.
– All I can say is that that is sent to me as a salt sack, and is so recognised in the trade? If it is a fact that salt bags are actually made in the Commonwealth, there is no reason why they should not get some protection.
– Senator Millen has proposed to add salt, gypsum, and manure bags to the free list. It has been pointed out that it. that be clone it will open the door to a great . deal of confusion, and possibly of fraud, because it will be possible to import sugar, flour, and other dutiable bags, and get’ them admitted duty free by describing them as salt, gypsum and manure bags, there being no difference between the two classes except in regard to the grade. The next aspect of the question is that these bags are now being manufactured in Australia, and that if the duty be taken off that industry will be extinguished. Messrs. Joyce Brothers Limited, bag manufacturers, of Brisbane, say -
It was represented by Mr. Glynn that salt bags and sacks are not made in Australia. This statement, however, is totally in error. Our firm in its Sydney factory not only makes large quantities of small bags for salt out of calico and hessian, but also large quantities of salt sacks, -some of which are used for salt and some for other purposes, but all of which are practically identical with the salt sacks imported from Calcutta.
They go on to say -
Should the statement be again made that salt sacks are not manufactured within the Commonwealth, it may be well to give you the following details for your information.
– Is the honorable senator quoting from a circular sent round to honorable senators generally ?
– It is a curious thing that Joyce Brothers did not send a copy to me in order to give me a chance to look into their statements.
– At any rate, here is a copy of the circular -
During last year we supplied from our Sydney factory between 25,000 and 30,000 salt sacks to the Cheetham Salt Company, Geelong, and are now negotiating with them for further supplies for the coming’ year. We have also been making large quantities of salt sacks in our Sydney factory, which’ are used for packing oil cake. For one firm alone we supplied between 90,000 and 100,000 during last year for this purpose. These are, to all intents and purposes, salt sack?, and should the duty be taken off we would lose this trade, as our customers would use the imported sacks. ‘
Then, with regard to South Australia, they say -
We have not previously catered for the South Australian trade,* having no factory further south than Sydney, but we are negotiating with the Castle Salt Company, through their buying agents, Messrs. Henry Berry and Co., Melbourne, with a view to taking their contract for the supply of salt sacks, and if successful in securing this would make arrangements for the bags to be made in Adelaide, as the extra cost of freight to Adelaide would handicap the business if the bags were ‘made in Sydney. The writer saw Messrs. Henry Berry and Co. when in Melbourne, and was informed that the Castle Salt Company had supplies on hand sufficient to la’st for some months, so that there was no prospect of immediate business, but we trust to be successful in securing their order ‘when they are ready ‘o place another.
Seeing that these sacks are being manufactured in Australia, I think the Committee will be wise if it refuses to agree to the request.
: - I wish to correct a statement I made just now. I mentioned the Cheetham Salt Company as being one pf my authorities when I ought to have quoted the
Castle Salt Company of South Australia. It was the reading of the circular by Senator Stewart which. led to the discovery of my error. Honorable senators who know anything about the subject will see that the sample bag which has been shown round the chamber is suitable for holding many other things besides, salt. Factories which can make a bag of that kind can make bags suitable for other purposes. Bran, chaff, potato, onion, coal, and wood bags are to be allowed to come’ in duty free, but the manufacturers of salt are to be penalized by a duty on a bag which, except as regards the size, is no different from those bags. Why should that difference be made? If it is a fair thing to charge a duty on a bag when it is used for packing salt, it is equally fair to charge a dutv on a bag when it is used for holding chaff or bran. I ask my staunch protectionist friends to recognise that there is an anomaly. Either all bags should come in free, or they should be dutiable.
– Would the honorable senator support a request to make all bags dutiable?
– Certainly not ; but it is incumbent upon some of my honorable friends to make all bags dutiable. I want to put all bags on the one footing. IT my honorable friends believe that salt bags are being made here, if they believe the statement of Joyce Bros, that they are prepared to put up. a factory in South Australia to supply bags to the salt companies, surely they -can go and make the much lighter chaff bag? Let my honorable friends show that they have some belief in their own principles, and treat bags in a uniform way. But let them not pass a Tariff containing a glaring anomaly.
– Joyce Bros, say that they can make chaff bags.-
– If the honorable senator believes that’ they. can, why does he not propose, the imposition of a duty on chaff bags?
– I am prepared to propose such a duty.
– Very well j I would prefer to see the anomaly removed to having one industry picked out for special treatment.
– I am prepared to move that the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty 1 5- per cent.
– There is a request already before the Committee for an amendment in the body of the item.
– Do I understand that Senator Stewart desires to move a request for a duty ?
– No, I shall not do so.
Progress reported. .
Senate adjourned at 10.48 p.m
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 19 February 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1908/19080219_senate_3_43/>.